The dinner conversation is exquisitely dull. Monks are not known to be chatty folk, and Doc continually has to dodge specific questions about who he is and where he's from. This task is made more difficult by Brother Broderick chiming in excitedly detailing the Jeep ride up here. Doc allows the Brother to go on and on.
The food is even more dull, consisting mainly of oatmeal and turnips. The wine is excellent, however.
"...and it had fat wheels made of some strange black stone, and it roared as it rolled forward as if pulled by a hundred horses!"
"Two hundred horses! And inside, it glowed! There were lights that were words and dancing pictures. It sang to us, too! When he fed it a silver saucer it began to sing while invisible minstrels played strange instruments! I do not know the words of the song, they were in the strange language he speaks sometimes. Dear friend, do tell us what the chariot sang?"
Smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
All you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be."
The monks look at him quizzically, especially Father Nathan.
Mark calls in from upstairs. "She's here."
Doc stands. "Your scroll is arriving," he informs the Abbot.
Father Nathan gets up as the monk he had sent up races down the stairs shouting "Dragon! Dragon!"
"Calm yourself, Brother," Nathan instructs. They all proceed towards the gatehouse.
Doc tells Thunderhorse and the vikings to hold their ground and not make any sudden movements while they proceed, reassuring them that it's almost over. Two monks crank open both portcullises. Mark joins them as the chains clink and the iron gates rise.
The collection of monks, vikings, and time travelers step out onto the cold mountain top. The monks and vikings flinch in unison when Veronica suddenly streaks overhead, leaving a small glowing flare falling gently to the ground.
It's a very precise drop. The wind shifts it only slightly. The bright orange parachuted package lands only about a hundred yards in front of the tower, it's little flare which turns the snow red where it fell.
Doc sends Mark out to retrieve it. He returns with the hard plastic cylinder and hands it to Doc.
They all return indoors to the dining hall, leaving the icy cold behind. There, in the golden light of the fireplace, Doc hands over the cylinder.
Father Nathan runs his fingers over the silky nylon of the parachute. He examines every detail. Doc interrupts him and twists open the top of the cylinder, revealing the paper scroll within. Nathan withdraws it carefully.
He spreads it out on the dining room table. A hushed awe goes through the room. It's nothing special to Doc, just a simple star chart with the constellations of the northern and southern hemispheres and a map of the solar system, showing all the planets and their orbits in a logarithmic scale. It has some finely printed reference information, all in English. Just as he had asked, the thing is printed on low quality recycled paper. Already the ink is smearing a bit, it obviously has not had time to properly set and the paper is just not holding it right.
"Well?" Doc asks. "What do you think?"
Father Nathan says nothing for a while. He remains fixated on the scroll. After a while, he speaks. "Brother Maynard, open the gate to the Sisters' quarters. They're free to go."
"Father?" replies Maynard, "What about us?"
"It is over. This is all that I sought from the Heavens and more. Three lifetimes worth of knowledge. Those of you who wish to stay and assist me are welcome. The rest of you may go with the women."
There is a murmur amongst the crowd. They are divided, but a significant minority express their desire to stay without benefit of women. The rest seem rather upset by the whole business.
Father Nathan rolls up the scroll carefully and returns it to its case. "I am retiring to my study for the evening. It is a dangerous trek down the mountain, even worse in the dark. If you wish to stay the night, you may. Good-night."
From the looks on the viking's faces, and those of some of the now disenfranchised monks, Doc gets the feeling that it will not be a good night.