The Greendale P.A. system crackled to life, Dean Pelton's cheerful tenor blasting through the library and interrupting all conversation. "Good ye good e'en, Greendale! That means good morning in ye olde English! That's right, students, Greendale is putting on its very first Renaissance Faire. Now, due to a teeeeny booking mistake, the quad is already being used by the Pan-Americas Indigenous Peoples Conference, so we'll be transforming our familiar library into Ye Merrie Olde… er… Librarie. So doff your hats and codpieces and come back in time to… the past!" A crackle of a mic sounded, followed by a pause, followed by another crackle. "I've just been informed by the English department that good ye good e'en means God give you good evening, and is a violation of separation of church and state that could lose us our federal funding, so… ignore that. Also, doffing of codpieces will not be allowed."
"Oooh, a Renaissance Faire," Shirley cooed. "That sounds like fun."
Troy frowned, looking around the study room. "Here in the library? Won't that make it dark and crowded?"
Abed cocked his head. "So it'll be just like the real Medieval Europe."
"Authenticity!" the two cried together.
"Ugh. Faire. Been there." Britta rested her arm across the back of her chair and nodded her head like a veteran talking about 'Nam. "Boogers black as pitch, skin ridges from your bodice that won't go away for days. I survived the Heat Wave of 1575. We fried an egg on mainstage that year. You kids, you think Faire is all glamour and heroics and beer and turkey legs. You don't know. You don't know. It's all a celebration of the conquests of white, male landowners. Tromping through Europe like they owned everything."
"Didn't they?" Abed asked.
"I wouldn't think you'd be interested in Faires, Shirley," said Pierce. "Weren't your people slaves during the entirety of human history?"
"Now, Pierce. I know when you say 'your people' you mean Christians. Right?" Shirley's sweet voice dropped an octave, and her eyes narrowed. "Right?" She smiled again. "But no, Middle Ages Europe was a time when Christianity flourished. None of this separation of church from anything." She shook her finger. "People knew how to FEAR god then. Oh, and love Jesus, of course."
Jeff shifted in his seat and leaned over to Britta. "I'm a little afraid now."
"Well, I'm excited too," Annie said. "I'm going to be putting together a totally period-authentic costume as extra credit for my Women in the Middle Ages class.
Jeff gave her a puzzled look. "Annie, it's a Faire. It's supposed to be fun."
"And you're using it for schoolwork?"
Troy lifted his head from an impromptu huddle with Abed. "Well, Abed and I are going totally authentic, too. We're going to be Knights!"
Abed lifted a qualifying finger. "Yes. But not Jedi Knights."
Troy turned to his friend. "Though that would be cool."
They mimed clashing lightsabers, complete with noises. "Thou'rt not my Pater," Troy cried.
"Oh, yeah," Pierce scoffed. "You two as Knights. That's authentic."
Jeff sighed. "Here we go."
"What's wrong with us being Knights?" Abed asked.
"You can't be Knights."
Jeff leaned over to Britta. "A dollar says the word 'infidel' appears in the next sentence."
"You're on," she said.
"No!" Pierce adjusted his glasses. "Because they're geeks."
Jeff hit the table. "Dammit."
"Hah! Pay up!"
Shirley nodded, frowning. "Although Pierce brings up a good point about the infidels. The Middle Ages were for Christians."
Britta snorted. "Yeah, it was a great time. If you were a white, male landowner."
Shirley's eyes narrowed. "I know you aren't trying to mess up my Middle Ages, Jezebel."
Annie leaned over to Jeff while the others packed up their books and Britta and Shirley bickered. "I'm surprised you aren't more excited Jeff. Wenches in bodices. Microbrews. Wenches in bodices."
"Annie, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but Britta was…Britta was…" He lowered his voice. "R-i-t-e."
"Did you just misspell right?"
"I've been tweeting a lot recently. But look, the Middle Ages were only fun if you were white, male, and rich. And Faires are no different. And I've suffered… a temporary setback in my finances… what, you think I’m betting dollars cause I'm cheap?"
Jeff shook his head. "If I can't enjoy the Faire as a nobleman, I don't want to go. I'll just come here and study alone, I guess."
Annie grimaced. "The Faire's in the library."
She laid a hand on his arm. "But Jeff… you could come as an impoverished nobleman. Seeking a Lady of good fortune, who will lift you out of poverty because she sees the shining gold of goodness in your heart…
Pierce stopped on his way out, interrupting Annie. "Or you could come as my squire. Carry my sitting pillow. I'll pay you. Five pounds a year."
Jeff gave Pierce a smile that was more sneer than smile. "Thanks Pierce, but I think I'd rather die of the plague." He jumped out of his seat to follow Britta out of the study room."Hey, Britta. About that dollar I owe you…"
"Thanks, Pierce," Annie grumbled, and followed everyone else out.
"What? What?" Pierce shouted, trailing behind. "I would have given him livery. And a limited supply of Hawthorne Wipes!"
The sun shone warm and fair on the steps of the library as everyone gathered to await the opening of the doors.
"Ooh, everyone looks so nice," Shirley said, swaying back and forth, enjoying the swish of her purple skirts. She reached out to touch the black-speckled fur trim lining the shoulders of Annie's dress. "What is this, Annie? It's so soft."
Annie lifted her chin and gave Shirley a proud little smile. "It's ermine. It can only be trapped during the winter, when the stoat's coat turns white, but their little tail tip stays black. Legally, only royalty was allowed to wear it."
"That better be fake fur. PETA would have had a field day in the Middle Ages," Britta grumbled, nearly poking out several eyes with her fairy wings, her only nod to the day since she wore jeans and a t-shirt that said 'Sidhe Who Must Be Obeyed'.
"Hey, check us out!" Troy said, clanging up the steps. Abed clanged in his wake. They wore a motley collection of pots and pans and cookie sheets.
"Troy and Abed wearing armor!" they sang, and slap-slapped each other's hands and chests, creating more clanging, and making them both wince.
"Yeah, real authentic there," Pierce said, looking quite grand in a black velvet doublet and a swinging half-cloak.
"Ooh, Pierce. You look fancy." Shirley rubbed the velvet much as she'd been rubbing Annie's ermine.
"Why thank you milady. But I see they'll let just any peasant into the Librarie these days," Pierce said, glancing over at Jeff, who had thrown on a flowing-sleeved shirt and a leather vest and looked like Medieval Times as done by Abercrombie & Fitch.
He looked up from his tweeting. "I'm not a peasant, Pierce. I'm just not willing to dump a few hundred dollars on a rented costume."
"Why are you even coming to the Librarie? Can you even read?"
"Of course I can read. You realize you're wearing pants that other men have worn."
Pierce frowned and fidgeted. Jeff smiled sharply and went back to tweeting.
Everyone turned when Dean Pelton--wearing a flowing white dress and a long, curling blonde wig--waved his arms for silence. Several other male faculty members in period dress stood behind him.
"Is that Professor Schultz in blackface?" Shirley asked, brows furrowed.
"I don't think I want to know," Troy said, also frowning.
"Good morrow Lords and Ladies, gentle persons and gentle folk, peasants and puritans, wenches and w… uh… hm…" The Dean folded his hands to his concave bosom and wrinkled his nose. "You know what, nevermind. Hi. Hi. I know you're all terribly excited for today's festivities. I just want to remind you that the Faculty production of Othello will be showing in the language lab, every hour on the hour. I am playing Desdemona, of course, and it is a killer production. Heh. Killer. Get it. Cause… oh… nevermind. Anywho, we have one more exciting announcement. To encourage proper tipping, the Wenches Guild will be giving out a gold doubloon for every tip they receive. And whoever gathers the most doubloons during the day shall win… this Purse!
"Gay" Pierce called over the oohs of the crowd.
"Pierce!" Annie hissed. "A purse is a medieval term for prize money. Knights would compete in tourneys for purses, enough to cover all their expenses and even maybe to become landed."
"Like a lottery?" Jeff asked.
He pocketed his phone. "Interesting."
"Double gay," Pierce announced.
"Well, I'm going to win it. I just have to buy stuff and then tip the wenches, right?"
"Ooh, it is just like a lottery," Shirley said to Annie, shaking her head. "This is how my cousin Stanley went broke. The Good Lord frowns on gambling."
"And I will help you, peasant," Pierce declared with a magnanimous grin.
Jeff shouldered past him. "Pierce, I don't need your help. I can do this on my own."
Pierce glared daggers into his back. "We'll just see about that. Peasant," he muttered.
The Dean was still trying to talk, despite Faire-goers shoving toward the doors. He finally gave up. "So welcome, one and all, to The Dale of Green… er… Librarie."
Students flooded past him. He watched them with a smile. Annie stopped at his side. "So, Dean, why are you playing Desdemona? Isn't that a woman's role?"
"Well, in the original Shakespearean productions, men played all the women's roles."
Pierce held his hands up. "What? Shakespeare was gay. And everyone knows Iago and Othello just wanted each other. Sheesh. You people know nothing about the authentic past. Now I'm gonna go get a turkey leg and some of those plastic doubloons so I can put that peasant in his place." He stormed into the library.
"Are you supposed to be a… a Dalmatian?" asked the Dean, stroking the fabric at Annie's shoulder.
Annie gave him a weak smile. "It's ermine."
The Dean snatched his hand away. "Oh. Oh, nevermind."
Annie shook herself and went to head into the Librarie, but stopped when two sharp-faced students in elaborate dresses cut her off. "Hmph. Look who thinks she's royalty," one of the girls said.
"Tch. Ermine. I guess we'll have to go tell the queen we have another usurper," drawled the other one.
"Newbs. I almost wish they wouldn't bother trying. Their inaccuracies make my eyes bleed." Both girls turned and flounced into the Librarie.
"I'll be… right back," Annie said to the empty steps, and rushed away.
Annie found Shirley and Britta waiting with Jeff in the line for the turkey leg booth. Shirley smiled in greeting. "Annie? Oh, the spotty-fur is gone."
"Yes. I've fixed my costume to be more accurate!" Annie said with a little twirl.
Britta looked askance at Annie's new, much plainer garb. "What's going on with your butt?"
Shirley peeked around to Annie's rear. "Yeah, for a white girl, baby suddenly got back."
"It's my bum roll."
Jeff looked up from his phone. "I'm not a bum! It's just a temporary dry spell!"
Annie ignored him. "I did some more research, and this isn't supposed to be the Middle Ages at all. The Dale of Green Librarie exists in the middle years of Elizabeth I's reign, around 1576, to be exact. Which means that Shirley, you really shouldn't be wearing purple. And Britta, where do I even start with the fairy wings?"
"But… I like purple," Shirley said, tugging on her cotton skirts.
"There they are!" Abed said, pointing with much clanging of utensils at a group of armored--real armor--students who'd staked-out the circulation desk and were using the check-out pilons to create a jousting lane.
"The knights," Troy whispered in awe.
Abed raised a ladle. "Forsooth, for soon we shall number amongst their number."
"And yea, we will save many a fair maiden and slay many a dragon," Troy countered and parried with a spatula.
Abed paused in their mock swordplay. "Can we save the dragon, too? Dragons are cool."
"Yeah, sure. We'll get two. One for each of us." Armor clanged as they tried their slap-shake, and they both clutched their hands in pain.
Pierce passed by, holding a turkey leg and flashing a gold plastic doubloon. "I told you, no way are you fellas Knights."
Abed cocked his head. "But we have the armor."
"Ow," said Troy.
Annie frowned. "But you aren't knights yet. In order to be a knight, you have to be knighted by an existing knight, and for that you have to enter service as a squire. And of course, you have to be of good family, and you can't be marked by the bar-sinister, and--"
Pierce swallowed a bite of turkey, his chin shiny with grease. "No, they can't be knights because they're geeks."
Britta snorted. "All Faire-folk are geeks. I mean, look at them." She turned, whapping several people in line with her fairy wings. "Listen to them. I mean, they call themselves Faire-folk!"
Pierce waved about his turkey leg. "Yeah, but the knights are the jocks of the Faire world. Look at them. Athletic, with flowing locks, strapping young bodies, the flower of European manhood."
Britta fiddled with one of her wing straps, her lips going slack. "Hm. I just remembered why I started doing Faire in the first place. 'Scuse me." She wandered over to the circulation desk, her voice carrying back to the group. "Hi. That's a really nice sword you've got there."
Troy watched the ceiling, lips pursed. "Hm. So if knights are the jocks of the Faire world, then squirehood is like hazing?"
"That doesn't sound like much fun," Abed said. "I'd rather have a dragon."
"Naw, it's not so bad. And what Annie said makes sense. It takes a knight to make a knight."
Abed perked up. "Like zombies?"
"Zombie-knights!" They shouted in tandem. Slap-slap went their hands. Clang-clang went their armor. "Ow… ow…" went the boys.
Shirley and Britta wandered the stalls that had been set up in the stacks.
"Blessed-be!" said one girl to Shirley when she bought a posy.
"Ooh, blessed-be to you, too!" Shirley smiled and pinned her posy to her shoulder. "Everyone here is so nice. And so Christian. Blessed-be," she said to another stall-keeper selling incense.
"Blessed-be," he said back.
Britta snorted. "Yeah. Christian."
Shirley pouted and lifted her chin. "I notice you aren't jezebelling it up with those knights anymore."
Britta's wings whapped a set of wind chimes as they passed a stall selling them. "They wanted me to become a camp-follower, but I am not going to cede control of my sexuality over to the Man."
"So… what are you going to do?"
"I was thinking of working at the kissing booth."
"Oh. Cause that's better," Shirley growled.
"Blessed-be," said a girl, offering Shirley a little green figure woven from grass.
"Oh, why thank you. Blessed-be." Shirley twirled her little green man happily.
"Uh… Shirley," Britta started, and was ignored.
"Blessed-be," Shirley said to another man selling leather masks.
"Lord and Lady be with you," he responded.
She stopped. "Who? You mean… Jesus and Mary?"
The masked man shook his head. "No, I mean Lord Cernunnos and Lady Rhiannon, the pagan gods that predate Christianity in the British Isles. Blessed-be!"
Shirley stalked off out of the stacks, chest heaving, eyes flashing. "Oooh! Heathens!" she breathed when there was space to breathe.
Britta caught up to her. "Shirley, that's what I've been trying to warn you about. Most people who work Faire are pagans or wiccans. Blessed-be is a pagan greeting."
Shirley looked around. "I need to find me a stake. Or a… oh! There's a medieval preacher. He'll take care of this." Shirley bustled up to a man in white robes, a red and gold stole, and a high, peaked mitre. "Excuse me… reverend? Reverend?"
"Uh oh," Britta said, biting the edge of one of her fairy wings--and then spitting out glitter-glue.
"Dominus vobiscum," the man intoned.
"Uh. Yes. Hi. There's some witches over there that need the fear of God put into them. Maybe a little burning." Shirley pointed back the way she'd come.
The man waved his hand over her head. "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritūs Sancti."
Shirley's eyes followed his hand warily. "Uh. Yes."
Another, wizardy-looking man in a red robe inserted himself between them. "Woman! What are you doing, accosting a son of the Catholic Church with your filth?"
He looked her up and down. "Your womanly filth."
Shirley tried offering him a tremulous smile. "But… we're all children of Jesus Christ."
Another robed man joined the first two. "Oh, I see. A Lutheran."
Shirley's eyes widened. "Oh, you did not just go there."
The second man raised his nose. "The Catholic Church condemns the preachings of offshoot sects as works of the devil. I suggest you rethink your ways, woman, or we'll be finding a stake. For you."
They brushed past her. Shirley squeaked.
Britta shook her head. "Poor Shirley. I tried to…" Something caught her eye--and then nearly knocked her over. "Holy overboard, Annie! What are you wearing?"
Annie would have spun to show off her outfit, but she was already causing quite a bit of consternation with the space she was taking up in the narrow stacks. "It's called a drum farthingale." She touched the white accordion-looking thing wrapped around her neck. "And this is a cartwheel ruff."
"You're taking up the entire aisle," Britta said, as if she hadn't been whapping everyone with her wings all day. "Nobody can even move past you."
"But it's authentic," Annie said with a cheerful smile.
"Hmph. Authentic?" snorted one of a pair of girls--the same two from the steps--as they squeezed past.
"She thinks she's authentic?"
"Check out her shirtsleeves."
"Sewn to her bodice."
"I guess somebody hasn't heard of sleeve points and tippets."
"And those cartridge pleats. Please."
"Newbs," they snorted together, and moved off.
Annie's lower lip trembled. "Who are those girls? Why are they so… so…"
Britta tried to find her shoulder to pat, and failed. Instead, she frowned and nodded sympathetically. "Costume-Nazis. The dark underbelly of the Faire world. Annie, go change back into your first costume. The one with the hopefully-fake ermine. You don't want to go down that path of darkness."
Annie lifted her chin. "No! I can get this. I will get this right! Make way! Make way for a woman on a mission!"
Shirley wandered the stacks, alone and forlorn, and running from every 'Blessed-be' thrown at her.
She stopped when she came to the returns desk, where a group of black-clad people huddled about, whispering to each other.
"Satanists," Shirley whispered. She turned to go, but her path was blocked by one of them.
"What is your sorrow, my sister?"
"Are you… devil worshipers?"
"Far from it," said the man. "We are children of the Lord. As are you. Now, why do you weep? Is it at the evil in the world?"
Shirley broke down, wringing her hands. "Oh, it's just terrible. Europe is full of pagans and Catholics, and there's no room for Jesus."
"There is always room for Jesus if there is room in your heart."
Shirley paused in her hand-wringing. "You… you aren't speaking Latin."
"No. I'm a Puritan." He gestured to the other people in black. "We believe that a life of good works in the Lord's name is the way to heaven, and that requires a liturgy in the common tongue, so that everyone can hear and understand the Lord's word."
"Ooh. I like that," Shirley said, letting herself be guided toward the group.
The man grinned. "Also, we wear all black and wave around bibles a lot. It's pretty cool."
"So… how are you faring, peasant?" Pierce asked Jeff, who'd managed to get ahead of him in line. Again.
"Pierce, would you stop it with the peasant thing? And I'm not going to tell you, because you'll just find a way to use your money to cheat and win. You don't need that purse. I do."
Jeff took his artichoke and his doubloon and stalked off.
"I will not. And it's not cheating! It's called capitalism!" Pierce called after him. He stepped up to the counter, grumbling. "Socialist peasant. You're the reason Europe is in the crapper. All right. Enough of this nonsense. Time to speed things up. One artichoke, please." He slapped a ten down on the counter. "No change."
"Huzzah for the generous tipper!" the wench shouted, and was echoed by a half-dozen huzzahs from her fellow wenches. She passed a doubloon across the counter to Pierce.
"One doubloon?" Pierce shrieked. "That last guy only tipped you a dollar and got one. I should get five! No… seven. And who charges this much for an artichoke, anyways?"
The wench fidgeted and backed away from the counter. "Uh… well, that's not really how it works. One doubloon for one tip."
Pierce's eyes narrowed. "Oh, I see. I see indeed."
He headed to the next booth, selling something nasty called toad-in-the-hole. "English cooking, huh?" he said to the guy behind him.
When he got to the front, he made sure to pay with exact change. And then he plopped down a coin. "Here you go, wench! Your tip."
The girl looked down at the coin. Looked up at Pierce. "That's a nickel."
"Yes. For your excellent service. Now give me my doubloon, or I will call the magistrate. I'm a nobleman. I can do that."
The girl grumbled something under her breath, but she passed over a doubloon. "Huzzah for the tipper," she droned, disgusted.
"Squire, fetch me my flagon!"
"Squire, bring me my armor!"
"Squire, find us some more camp followers!"
"Squire, go see how long the line is at the garderobe."
Troy and Abed collapsed in an exhausted heap behind the counter, staring blankly up at the ceiling.
"How long have we been at this?" Troy asked, looking shell-shocked.
"Forever," Abed groaned, and then raised his head to check the library clock. "Oh. No. Half an hour."
"Do you think we'll ever become knights?" Troy asked.
"No!" screeched a high-pitched voice from under the desk. "You're doomed! Doomed to eternal squirehood. Ooh-ooh ah-ah!" Señor Chang peeked out from behind his hiding place. He was wearing a red fez and a little matching red vest.
Troy sat up. "Señor Chang? What are you doing back here? And why are you chained up like that?"
One of the knights came around the counter to see what the commotion was about. "Ah, I see the squires have found the infidel monkey." He nudged Chang with the toe of his boot. "Dance, infidel monkey. Dance!"
Troy watched with an incredulous look. "This is really offensive."
Chang danced until the knight left. "No, no. I'm supposed to be an actual monkey. See the hat?"
Troy shook his head. "Yeah, that doesn't make it any less offensive."
Chang ignored him, looking up at the fluorescent lights with dreamy-wide eyes. "I'm working my way up to valiant steed. Then you'll have to curry me and feed me apples. And pick my hooves."
Troy stood with a clanging of cookware. "I am definitely making knight before that happens."
"Squire! Fetch my bridle and saddle."
Chang clapped his hands. "Ooh, today might be my lucky day."
Troy sighed and held his hands up to the knight. "Yeah, look. We've played along. We're done with being squires. We want to be knights, right Abed?"
Abed stood, head cocked and eyes bright as a bird's. "If this single day is a compression of our entire lives in the medieval era, then technically we've been in service for five years, which is the appropriate time for a squire to earn his knighthood."
One of the knights looked at his fellow knights, and they all laughed. "Hah," said the first knight. "You guys aren't ever going to be knights."
"We aren't?" asked Abed.
"Why not?" asked Troy.
"Because," said Chang, sounding as reasonable as it was possible for a man in a monkey vest and fez to sound. "You're infidels."
The knight jerked in surprise. "What? No, dude. That's totally offensive. It's because you're geeks."
The knights wandered over to their lists to batter at each other with wooden weapons. Troy and Abed slid down to sit behind the desk.
"But… but… we worked so hard," Troy said, forlorn."
"I know. I know." Abed held his friend close and patted his shoulder. Then he raised his head, blinking, eyebrows raised. "Unless… Grab the monkey. I have an idea."
"Ew. Pierce. No. I am not kissing you," Britta said, waving off the old lecher from the kissing booth. "And neither are any of my girls. Besides, as an emancipated enclave from the Wenches Guild, we don't give out doubloons."
"You don't? Well then, I don't want any of your kisses. You probably all have syphilis."
"Check the wings, Pierce. If I had anything, it'd be sylph-alis!"
"Hah! Good one," said one of the kissing fairy girls, who was sporting a set of bat wings, and they all exchanged high-fives."
Britta looked up to see Shirley and a bunch of other people pass by like a flock of determined ravens. "Shirley, where are you going?"
Shirley waved as she passed, heading toward the library exit. "I am journeying to a new world. A better world, where all are free to worship as they choose. Farewell. Enjoy burning in the hellfire of your own blasphemy!" she trilled. "After we build our Christian nation, you can come visit!"
Britta watched them head out of the library, wings drooping. "Yeah, that's going to end well."
A ruckus had erupted by the food booths, and of course, Pierce and Jeff were at the center of it.
"Pierce, you can't cut! There's a line. You have to start at the back of it."
"I should go before you in line. I'm a nobleman! You are an uneducated peasant!"
"Oh yeah? Spell 'right'."
"R-…" Jeff paused, blinked. Shook his head. "Uh… i-t-e?"
"Hah!" Pierce crowed, and the crowd grumbled.
Jeff held out his hands. "No, but… I can explain…"
"Spell 'you are!'" shouted someone else from the crowd.
"Double-hah!" said Pierce.
Jeff pulled out his phone and waved it about. "Nooo! I've been tweeting a lot recently. That's all."
"You hear! He's mad! He admits it! Tweeting! Like a bird!" Pierce giggled a madman's giggle.
"And what is that strange device he waves about?" said someone from the crowd.
"It glows! Witchery!"
"No!" Jeff backed away. "You people are crazy. It's a cell phone. Most of you have one."
"Probably a thief!"
"Take his ill-gotten doubloons!"
Jeff turned and ran, a mob on his tail. With all the lines gone, Pierce stepped up to the counter, whistling to himself.
Jeff hid behind a bookcase, the mob passing him by. Nearby, a minstrel plucked out a tune on a lute.
Jeff hurried up and dropped a bill into the minstrel's hat. "There. Go on. Just give me all of them."
The minstrel looked down into his hat, then up at Jeff. "What?"
Jeff gestured impatiently, glancing furtively over his shoulder for a return of the mob. "All the doubloons you've got. Just hand them over."
"Uh… buddy. That's not how this works."
Jeff glared down at the minstrel. "Look, I just dropped a Franklin--the last of my money--into your hat, and let's ignore the fact that he hasn't been born yet. Now give me all your doubloons."
The minstrel shook his head. "No, I mean… I'm part of the Bards Guild, not the Wenches Guild. We're not participating in the contest. But thanks for the--"
Jeff grabbed the rim of the fellow's hat before he could take it away. "What do you mean, not part of the contest?"
The minstrel's voice cracked. "I don't have any doubloons"
"What?" Jeff's jaw dropped open, then closed in a mulish look. "Well then, I'm taking back my money." He pulled on the hat.
The minstrel pulled back. "Hey, you can't do that."
"Oh yeah? What are you going to do? SING at me?"
"Thief!" the minstrel screamed, and then, "Bards! Bards to me!"
A tide of sound rose from all sides. Jeff looked around. Instruments. Singers. Overly-colorful outfits. "Oh… no. No! It's… Medieval Glee!" he screamed.
He went down under an avalanche of lute-bashing and tri-tonal chords.
Annie rocked back and forth at the study room table, a crumple of fabric falling from her lap, her only light a candle. "Must… must… finish gores and attach frogs, and then move on to blackwork. Ow!" She looked at her finger, and then went back to sewing. "No. Blood is good. Blood christens the work. Makes it whole. Makes it holy." She giggled.
Two dark shadows appeared in the doorway. A hand grabbed Annie's wrist and pulled the needle away before she could take another stitch.
Troy and Abed stood before her, wearing long, flowing robes over more long, flowing robes.
"Totally anachronistic," Annie muttered.
"Annie, what are you doing?" Troy asked.
She blinked, as if she'd been squinting all her life. "Hand sewing a reproduction of the Maidstone Jacket from the Museum of London archives, based on a single blurry picture from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion by the light of a tallow candle, using a bone needle and walnut-dyed linen thread." She blinked again. "Hey! Where did your armor go?"
"We're infidels now," Troy said, smiling.
Abed nodded. "The clothes are way more comfortable."
"You look like Jedi Knights," Annie said.
"Exactly!" The boys said. Slap-slap. "Aaah."
"Okay." Annie watched them like they were the crazy ones.
"We're staging a revolt," Abed said. "The Middle Ages are oppressive and no fun for anyone except Pierce."
"Want to come help?" Troy said, holding out his hand.
Annie looked at it askance. And with hope. "Well… I do think I might be going blind, and that's just from an hour of sewing."
Abed cocked his head. "The infidels had better medical science. We can make you glasses."
"And… no gores?" Annie asked.
Troy shrugged. "I don't know what those are, but if we have them, we'll get rid of them."
Annie still didn't take his hand. "I don't know. Weren't the infidels pretty oppressive against women, too?"
Troy smiled. "Yeah, but we didn't like that part, so we changed it."
Annie's jaw dropped. "Can you do that? Just… change history?"
Troy and Abed exchanged a glance.
"Should we?" asked Abed.
"Up to you, Inspector," Troy said.
They leaned closer. Abed pulled his robe aside, revealing another robe. His Inspector Spacetime rope. Troy flashed his Constable Reggie badge before tucking it back in the folds of his robe.
"Ah. I… see," Annie said.
"Don't tell anyone," Abed cautioned. "Are you coming?"
Finally, Annie took Troy's hand. "I think my lead-based make-up is eating my face," she said with a tiny pout.
Troy patted her shoulder. "Come on. We'll get you cleaned up."
Pierce laughed at them. "I love the Middle Ages. All of history has been designed to benefit me. Why would I want to change that?"
He strolled off, a Costume-Nazi on each arm.
"Well, that's not ironic," Annie grumbled. "I mean… his slash-puffs are lamé. Did you see that? Lamé."
Abed flattened his lips. "We didn't expect Pierce to join our cause, but we had to give him a chance. That's the Inspector Spacetime way."
"You can't save everyone, Inspector," Troy said in a truly terrible English accent.
Abed sighed. "No, I suppose not. People have to save themselves." He looked up at Troy and Annie. "On with the plan?"
They nodded and headed off into the stacks.
"Stop it!" Jeff begged, huddled on the hallway floor beside the soda machines. "Stop calling me peasant!"
Abed stood above him. "Well, I'm sorry, but with your lack of institutionally-legitimated learning or access to patriarchally-controlled resources like property and lineage, isn't that what you are?"
Jeff broke down sobbing, covering his face. "Yes. Yes, that's what I am. I am a peasant!"
Annie stepped forward, shoulders thrown back, showing off her ermine proudly. "Take comfort, peasant, for we are here to free you from the shackles of servitude so that you may wear whatever you damned well please, as long as it's pretty. Come with us and rise above--"
Troy tugged her back. "Yeah, what Annie is taking forever to say is that we're starting a revolt. Want to join us?"
Jeff looked up, face still drawn in sorrow. "What's the point? I still won't win the purse. And I need that to eat for the rest of the week. Especially since I gave the last of my money to the Bards' Guild. Worthless doubloons."
Abed frowned. "I don't know about that. If this were really Medieval Europe, their anachronistic nature would make them rare and likely valuable."
"Ana-what?" Troy asked.
"They're made of plastic."
Annie waved away the tangent. "But Jeff, if you join our revolt, we can help you win the purse. See?" She nudged a large box in front of him with her toe.
Jeff's eyes widened. "Is that…?"
"The entire doubloon inventory," Annie crowed.
"The Wenches Guild has joined our cause," Abed explained.
Troy grinned. "Yeah, turns out being forced to shout 'Huzzah to the Tipper' a hundred times an hour can make a person pretty violent."
"Like Amazons." Abed cocked his head. "I wonder if we can convince them to cut off their right breasts."
"Why would we want to do that?"
"Just a thought."
"So Jeff," Annie said. "Are you in?"
"Hell yes! Let's win one for the Tipper!"
"Fancy a kiss, guv'nors?" Britta called to them as they approached.
"You know that's cockney, right?" Jeff asked.
"You know it's kissing hot chicks dressed as fairies, right?" Britta countered.
Jeff shrugged and nodded, conceding the point.
Abed stepped up to the counter. "We're invading Europe and taking back the Middle Ages."
"We were hoping you fairies could help," Troy added.
Britta grinned widely. "Sticking it to the Man? I'm in. What do you need?"
"Free kisses!" Britta cried, along with her other kissing fairies. "Free kisses for all nobles and anointed knights! English for the English and French for the French!"
"I'm a French knight," said Star-burns, walking up to the booth.
"That one's all for you, Britta," said bat-wing girl.
Britta pulled back. "Um. You don't sound French!"
"Bon jour alouette champs d'elysses," Star-burns said.
Britta sighed and closed her eyes. "Oh man. What I do for my beliefs," she said, puckering up.
The Dean ran through the main lobby, screaming, and saving Britta's honor in the process. "The peasants are revolting, the peasants are revolting!"
One of the gathered nobles turned to one of the knights. "Yeah. Ha ha. Like we don't hear that one a hundred times a day."
And then, from the stacks, over the circulation counter, from all sides, poured a tide of wretched humanity, yearning to free themselves from the shackles of an inhumane caste and religious system, a dark period of history that valued the lives and happiness of a god-touched few to the natural human rights of all men--and women--kind. A mighty battle ensued, the likes of which had never before been seen in all of history, nor was ever seen since. And when the dust cleared--
"Abed? Who are you talking to?" Troy asked, looking around the study room where they'd repaired to after their conquest.
"Oh, I'm just narrating through the battle that would have happened here, except we're already running long and we don't have time to actually show it."
"But… there wasn't a battle. We pretty much got everyone on our side except the knights and a few of the nobles like Pierce, and they all backed down pretty quickly when they realized how many of us there were."
"Yeah. It's too bad, because a battle would have been epic."
"Heh. Yeah. Could you just see me riding Tiger-Chang into battle?"
"That would have been the coolest."
"Naw. Your dragon was the coolest."
"It was pretty cool." Slap-slap went their hands, thump-thump went their chests. They sighed and smiled at the lack of pain.
"And you! Costume-Nazis! News flash… the Nazis were bad people! You are bad people!" Annie shouted down the hallways as she entered the room. She stopped and smiled at seeing the overhead lights.
"Feel better?" Abed asked.
"What I want to know is… why was Señor Chang dressed as a tiger?" Britta asked, coming into the room with Jeff at her side.
"Don't ask," Abed said.
Jeff took up Britta's question. "And why was Troy riding him piggy-back?
Abed shook his head. "I said, don't ask."
"I have a feeling I missed something that is horribly offensive," Britta said, frowning.
"Let it go, Britta."
"Well, I hope you're all happy. Look at the mess you made." Pierce said, slumping in and brushing at grease stains on his doublet.
"Now, that's authentic," Annie muttered, smirking. Nobody met her smile.
"Look at this! I'm never going to get my deposit back. I'm out a hundred bucks."
"Well, you won't be getting it back from the purse, either. Hey, Dean!" Jeff flagged down the Dean as he passed by. "I think I have won that prize." Jeff dropped a large box at the Dean's feet and lifted the lid, revealing a cascading pile of cheap, plastic doubloons.
"So you did. Lucky boy! Just wait right here." The Dean patted Jeff's cheek and flitted off.
"You cheated!" Pierce said.
"It's not cheating. It's capitalism," Jeff said with a smirk. "#Huzzah for the Tweeter."
"Nooo!" Pierce howled. "The natural order has been inverted!"
The Dean wafted back in, waving a small, tooled leather bag. "Here you go!"
Jeff opened it. Turned it around, upside down. Moths might as well have flown out for how empty it was.
"But… it's just a pouch."
"Yes. Your purse. And a very fetching purse, I must say," the Dean said with a smirk and a twinkle.
"Heh. Gay," Pierce said, and sat in his seat.
Troy sat back as well, satisfied smile curving his lips. "And now we have forged something new from the ashes of the Middle Ages. Like a phoenix!"
Abed grinned. "You know Renaissance means rebirth, right?"
Annie looked around the table. Sat up, brow furrowed. "Wait. Where's Shirley?"
"Oh, why is the weather so cruel?" Shirley wailed, amid the other wails of her suffering brethren.
"It's only 85 degrees out," said a Guatemalan student in a blousy white shirt and sandals.
"Maybe if you weren't all wearing black wool," said another student in a sundress. She wore her long black hair--her only nod to her native heritage--pulled back into a sensible braid.
"We've lost so many," sobbed Shirley's Puritan friend.
"Won't you share your food and shelter with us?" they begged.
The study group raced up to the cluster of Puritans and indigenous students, Abed in the lead.
"They're with us," Abed said.
The students included the newcomers in their glares. "Well, would you please just get them out of here? They're really putting a damper on our event."
"This is why we reserved the quad in the first place. Can't we even have a simple conference without getting invaded?"
Abed nodded while the study group helped Shirley and the others to their feet. "Yeah, yeah. Sorry."
"And don't come back. This is our quad. We don't want any more of you geeks invading."
Abed bowed. "We respect your rightful sovereignty over your land, and we hope someday to open routes for reciprocal trade and exchanges of ideas."
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." The girl in the sundress walked back to the tents and tables on the quad.
Troy paused. Abed looked at him. Blinked. "I think I just brokered a non-colonizing alliance with the indigenous peoples of the Americas."
"All in a day's work for Inspector Spacetime," Troy said in a bad English accent.
They headed back to the library.
### Post Credits###
"Troy and Abed in the Morning…-Star!!"
"Hello everyone! Abed here!" said Abed.
"And Troy!" said Troy.
"And we're here with Star-burns, who is re-enacting for us the role of Leonardo DaVinci, inventor of all sorts of cool stuff."
"And author of The DaVinci Code," Troy added.
Troy's brow furrowed. "Uh. Yeah. Speak English, dude."
"Mama mia Santa Maria."
Troy looked at Abed. "What is he saying?"
Abed studied Star-burns. "I don't know. It isn't Klingon."
"Maybe it's Qenya?" Troy suggested.
Abed shook his head. "Sounds more like the Black Speech of Mordor."
The lights went out.
Screams filled the study room. "Aaaah! You must never again utter that dark tongue in this place!" Troy shouted.
The lights flicked back on, and the Dean's shiny-pated head popped around the doorway. "Hi-ho, Dean here! Sorry about the lights. I didn't know you fellows were still here. Carry on!"
"Oh," said Troy.
"Oh," said Abed.
Star-burns said nothing. He was edging away from them both.
"That was cool though, huh?" Troy asked.
Abed nodded. "Yeah. I bet if we speak the black speech enough, we can trigger a fade to black."
"Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul," said Abed.
"Ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul," said Troy.
[fade to black]