Monday's child

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay. . .

A: D!

D: What?

A: Guess what?!

D: You’re going to write in a tale about my romance with Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who rebelled against Rome and ruled over Egypt and Anatolia for a time? Her son was technically the one in charge, but Zenobia really called the shots. Tough lady, but lovely.

A: . . . That’s not . . . wait, your what?! D!

D: You left it pretty open, A.

A: I don’t even want to tell you, now.

D: Don’t pout, A.

A: Fine. I was going to say that you were born on a Monday, under the full moon.

D: So, I’m fair of face and long-lived. I could have told you that, A.

A: . . .

D: Wait, are you sure you did that right? I was born during the Julian calendar, A, not the Georgian. Don’t tell me that after all these years I’m really—

A: I did it right, D. I found a website  that produces calendars for 500-4000 AD with the Julian vs Georgian calendar issue factored in.

D: I’m astounded, A. Flabbergasted, really. Pray tell, why?

A: Research, D – and thanks for the sarcasm. I had to make sure I was referencing the moon correctly. It wouldn’t do to say “meet us at the rising of the moon,” when the moon set 2 hours prior, would it? I lost an hour of my life on this site.

D: An hour? Aren’t you being a little stingy with the truth, A?

A: Okay, three hours, but it was worth it. Now I know I’m referencing the moon accurately and you know your day of birth and the moon phase.

D: . . .

A: It’s important, D.

D: I have no words.

A: My work here is done.

. . . As they crested the hill, the newly risen moon came out from behind low clouds. Its light threw into stark relief the young oaks, circling the low stone building and straining towards the sky. . .

. . . The moon was nothing but a sliver again, and its silvery glow barely illuminated the outer room, let alone Maureen’s prison. The candle was a warm and welcome friend. . .

. . . Liam turned to his youngest brother. “Owen, you must take a horse and our provisions and wait for us on the route to Bray. If you do not see us by the setting of the moon, make your way to Bray as fast as you can and board the Éadaí Baintrí. . .”

Once more into the breach

D: A, you know, you really ought not to dance.

A: I know. Two very confused left feet – I can’t help it, D. I’m excited!

D: I can see that. You’re looking for me to ask why, I take it?

A: It would help. I’d stop dancing if you did.

D: Fair enough – why are you so excited, A?

A: I’m excited to write Part 2, D! Actually excited.

D: I’m feeling like this should offend me, somehow.

A: Everything offends you, D. Let me explain. I was happy to start this project – surprised actually, since I could finally see you and understand your story. I was satisfied with my writing, and I was giddy when we started this project on the interwebs. I was pleased when I completed Part 1 and edited it enough that it wasn’t too cringe-worthy for my dear friends/editors/readers who are kind enough to tear it apart for the greater good.

That was yesterday morning, D. And then I went out into my sleeping garden and proceeded to get my first sunburn of the year (yay sun!). And all day, Part 2 threaded itself through my mind. And I was excited – so excited that I stayed up until 1 am writing an outline that I’ll rip to shreds today, but has good bones.

I’m excited, D. I want to write this story. It’s been a really long tme.

D: Congratulations, A. I still feel as though I ought to be offended, but I’m also proud of you.

A: Is it wrong that I’m worried now?

D: (Sigh) I’m proud of you because I know how you feel about the 1916 storyline. You were a callous young woman with no knowledge of the world beyond books when you first wrote it. I like that you’re looking at it again, as a mother, as someone who’s lived a little bit more, and changing it. I’m far more comfortable being a part of it; I feel like I am finally part of the story.

A: I’m looking for the compliment in that, and I think I found it. . . so, thank you?

D: You’re welcome, A. . . By the way, are we going to have more introspective forays like this?

A: Oh, hell no! Don’t worry, D. I can’t do this every day. . . remember, deep as a puddle. I promise to keep it to a minimum, so long as you keep up your end of the bargain.

D: And that is?

A: Snarky comments, never-ending second guessing and a ruthless honesty that keeps me on my toes.

D: Almost sounds as though you like me, A.

A: Don’t let it go to your head, Druid. We still have 2.75 books left – a lot can happen!

D: I have been warned. . . but you do like me.

A: D. . .

D: You admitted it – you like me!

A: Seriously, D – how old are you?

D: 1300 years old and male. You like me. Ha.

A: I give up.

October the Ninth, Year of Our Lord 1584

Sean and Maureen:

By now, you may know who I am. It is yet only the beginning of the tale, and believe me when I say that it is a tale to be told. But I’ll not commit it to paper – not yet, not when the end has yet to be written.

You will have questions, and one day I will do what I can to see that they are answered. I said I would do what I could to see you both safe, and despite that she’s a pirate, and now consummate enemy of Sir Richard Bingham, Grania Uaile is as safe as you could hope to be – for now. . .

A traitor's fate

. . . Galen had not accompanied Liam and Dubhal, and Sean wasn’t sure he wanted to know what had happened to the traitorous weasel. Liam would only say that the lad had served his purpose. . .  

D: Did we kill him?

A: What?! Who?

D: Galen, the traitorous weasel (As an aside, do you really think that Sean would think that way?).

A: (He’s been around you lot for a month; he’s absorbing the vernacular.)

D: (Oh, I see. Makes sense. Continue.)

A: No, but I didn’t want him around anymore. He was a mean, cruel young man and he was giving me the creeps.

D: Oh.

A: You sound disappointed.

D: Well . . .

A: If it’s any consolation, you and Liam gave him to the O’Flaherty’s.  They will deal with him appropriately.

D: So maybe they off him?

A: Off him? God, what have you been watching? Do I get cable up here or something?

D: (Shrug)

A: Does it matter? You have smoke bombs.

D: Yes. Yes, I do.

A: (Face palm)

Previously. . .  

. . . Sean grinned. Galen’s expression was shifting from one of pride to bitterness.

“I think, Master Galen, that you had outlived your usefulness. I think, as you sit here bandying your fancy words, that you may have outlived your usefulness to us. What is to stop me from telling the lads here that we ought to do what your benefactor nearly did, and drown you in the sea?”

Galen twitched at this, but rallied. “Nothing, except the lass,” he said quietly, glaring at Sean and daring him to contradict.

“Aye, the lass, Maureen,” Sean said, putting emphasis on her name. He let it hang there in the silence of the hold, waiting. He felt Liam and the others tensing. Grasp of English or no, the mention of Maureen’s name let them know he’d come to the information the boy – and the boy’s handlers – wanted them to discover.

“She wasn’t part of the plan, was she,” Sean mused, watching Galen betray himself. A dark grin spread on Sean’s face. Maureen had been Galen’s last hope at life; saying her name was merely a test to determine how dear Maureen was to them.

Sean dropped down to one knee, close to Galen. He gestured silently, staying the others. He could feel their intense watchfulness. At the periphery of his vision, Sean watched Phalen and Dubhal put their hands on the hilts of the closest sheathed weapon in their personal arsenals. Galen was watching him closely. . .

Lost in translation

A: I’ve thought of another one! Flibbertigibbet!

D: Pardon?

A: Words, D – inspiring words.

D: Oh, I thought you were describing yourself again. . .

A: Nice–

D: Speaking of words, what does “Éadaí Baintrí” mean?

A: You don’t know?

D: I’ve been in your head for over 13 years; I’m rusty. Humor me.

A: “Widow’s clothing.” You know, Widow’s Weeds?

D: . . . Seriously? . . .

A: What? Grace O’Malley buried one husband and divorced the other – and she outlived that one, too! I like to think she had a sense of humor about the whole thing. She was a pirate after all – I don’t think you succeed at that without having a little sass.

D: . . .

A: It’s funny.

D: (Shakes head) Poor taste.

A: It’s freakin’ hilarious, if you’re me.

D: Precisely.

“. . . Aye, well, the Venture has her orders to remain just a bit out of reach in open water. At midday, provided she has not been engaged, she will begin the trip to Galway.”

“And if she’s engaged?” Sean asked.

“She’ll still make her way to Galway, lad. She’s a ship worthy to be Grania’s flagship, were Herself not so fond of the Éadaí Baintrí, of course.”

“And speaking of the Éadaí Baintrí…?”

“She is in Bray, in a safe harbor,” Grania answered. “I don’t have many allegiances this side of the Pale, but there are a few, so long as I am discrete.”

“And speaking of discretion, my lady Grania.”

“No, Liam. Whatever it is, no.”

“But how—”

“Whenever you start something with such deference, I know I’m not going to like it. I’ve known you since you were in skirts, Liam O’Neil, and have had the honor of your allegiance for these last ten years. Deference does not suit you. Speak plainly. . .”

Inspire me

D: A, what exactly are you doing?
A: Thinking of words I enjoy . . . like pfeffernusse and penguin.
D: You are a woman of odd affections, A. Penguin?
A: I like how it sounds.
D: . . .
A: I’m editing this week; I need to do something inspiring – something that doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.
D: I think that’s cut your heart, A.
A: I’m not quoting movies, D, I’m stating fact. Although Alan Rickman is probably the best part of that movie, I’m not bastardizing his quote.
D: So you need motivation, is that it? Am I not enough for you anymore, A?
A: D, it took me 13 years just to get this far – do you really need to ask that? I think I should give myself a writing challenge – write riffs on words that inspire.
D: That’s a little bit like a tongue twister, A.
A: Even better! It’s weird. I like it. . . Come on, Druid, inspire me!
D: . . .
A: I’ve got it! I could do a riff on one who is perturbed, or disgruntled, given that look. Maybe even supercilious or domineering.
D: . . . I think you should do one on addlepated.
A: Oooh! I like it!
D: I give up.

. . . Grania barked a laugh, “That is quite the plan. Were the man not so hell-bent on destroying our way of life, Bingham might have been someone I’d want to know. As it is, he can rot in Dublin before I’ll allow myself to be drawn into his schemes.”

“But–”

“I spent nearly two years in a Limerick cell, lad – I’d not be so stupid as to put myself in that position again, nor risk those that follow me. Without guaranteed protections from Her Majesty herself, I will not follow that madman into a trap. It’s unthinkable. I’m a pirate, not a champion. Maureen knew that, and so do you.”

Sean knew this is what she would say, even without knowing Grania had been a prisoner once before. She was right, it would be a reckless and thoughtless gamble to risk the lives of these men in something so foolhardy, and yet. . .

“I do understand that, my lady, and I mean no disrespect,” he began, fighting the numb weightlessness that grabbed at his belly and threatened to snake down his legs. He grabbed the edge of the table and sighed deeply.

“You are a pirate you say, and yet you fight for your native way of life. You are a pirate who commands the respect not only of her followers, but also of her clan and many of her neighbors. You are a pirate who strikes such fear into the hearts of men like Bingham that, in their fear they hatch a plot – worthy of a monster, aye – to snare you.”

Sean shook his head and pushed away from the table. He commanded the room’s attention.

 “You are not a pirate, my lady Grania, you are an inspiration; you are that which embodies the spirit of this land, of a people proud, oppressed and rebellious, now and in the centuries to come. Not only that, you are that young woman’s kinswoman, whether by blood or the tenacity and spirit that marks you both – and you know it, I know you do,” Sean gave Grania a piercing look; she did not deny his accusation and he nodded. “I know, because I am her only companion and now it falls to me to be her protector too – she, who always shielded me, needs me.

“It would be unthinkable for me to not ask your help, and furthermore, unthinkable for me not to follow her captors, regardless of your answer. You owe me nothing, and your refusal will not be looked upon as poor hospitality, but I will ask you none-the-less. Help me get Maureen back. . .”

Is that all you care about?

“. . . I don’t know what you will face on that ship, but you must be prepared to either fight your way out of there or sacrifice your lives.” Grania said this directly to Sean and he looked down at his feet.

He knew she was right. . .  In the end, if Maureen wasn’t free, if she were used as a cudgel to beat Grania, then the fighting and dying weren’t worth it. Sean took a deep breath and met Grania’s eyes without flinching. He would make sure it was worth it.

“Aye, my lady Grania, we understand.”

Sean felt Dubhal put a hand on his shoulder.

“Although, we’ll do our best to avoid it, if it’s all the same to you,” Dubhal said, humor coloring his voice. He motioned to the sack slung across his back. “I have a few extra… surprises if things start to unravel on the Excelsior.”

“I like the way you think, Master Dubhal. I shall leave that to you, then.” Grania turned to the rest of the crew. “You all have your orders, then. Let’s break camp. Phalen is expecting us in the harbor before the sun sets – make haste. . . ”

D: Oh man, I am awesome.

A: You have your moments.

D: No, seriously, I have smoke bombs. I rock!

A: 1300 years of life experiences, culture and wisdom, and that’s all you can say: “I have smoke bombs. I rock!”??

D: What’s your point?

A: Nothing. You’re the one who likes to remind me that you impersonate a god, but it’s the smoke bombs that really get you going?

D: Okay, okay, I’m 1300 years old, I impersonate gods and I get to save the day with smoke bombs. What part of that doesn’t spell awesome?

A: . . .

D: You wrote me.

. . . No one had remained to guard the hold, and Sean helped Maureen up the last rungs of the ladder. His arm around her shoulders, he was about to guide her to the side where their dinghy was tied when a terrific sound and wave of noise rocked the boat. The force of it pushed them to their knees.

When they looked up, smoke was billowing from what was once the stateroom. The wind was rising and in the clearing smoke, Sean spied a single cloaked figure standing at the ragged hole, highlighted by the weak fires left in the wake of his destruction. Sean stared at Dubhal, entranced. Even Maureen was gaping – the entire ship seemed to stop, hold its breath and wait. . .

The lurker

“. . . What do you think, Dubhal, will he live?”

“His head will hurt for a good while” a man replied from the shadows behind Sean, his voice a gruff rumble. “Here, chew on this.” He reached around and shoved something into Sean’s open palm.

Hearing the voice, Sean realized the man – Dubhal – was the warrior with the claymore. Sean moved to turn around, to question him, but Dubhal evaded him, bowed over a large chest, its contents clinking as he rummaged through it. . . .

D: You’ve been watching too many vampire shows.
A: What? I don’t watch—
D: He can’t see my face, ever.
A: He’s not—
D: All I do is lurk.
A: But—
D: I’m a lurker.
A: . . .
D: Seriously.
A: Okay, but if Sean saw your face, he’d know who you are . . . were . . . what. . . you know what I mean. And I don’t watch vampire—
D: Oh yes, you do. You know what I’m talking about.
A: . . . Well, you can get a little pensive.
D: There’s nothing wrong—
A: And you are both Irish.
D: Excuse me; I’m Pictish and Frankish by birth—
A: And Irish.
D: Only on my mother’s side, and that’s half Scots anyway.
A: . . .
D: . . .
A: Lurker.

. . . Sean watched as Grania injected purpose back into her ship and crew. Activity followed the sound of her voice, her cohorts eager to restore the fleet’s routine. Sean turned to address Dubhal, to thank him directly. The man had slipped back into his cloak and his face was once again in shadow.

“You’re welcome,” Dubhal said quietly, not waiting for Sean to speak. “I have my own reasons, but I will do what I can to see Maureen returned to us.”

Then he was gone, melting into the activity trailing Grania. Sean shook himself and looked at Owen, puzzled and unable to pinpoint why. Owen shrugged and jerked his shoulder towards the hatch. There was work to do. . .

Every day is a holiday

D: I see you’d rather look at Brownielocks’ Official Holidays than write today, hm?

A: Uh huh . . .

D: A . . . ? Come back, A . . .

A: At least I’m not lost on Go Fug Yourself. There’s a chance I might come back from all the interesting daily holidays . . .

D: A . . .

A: Did you know that today is Blah! Blah! Blah! Day?

D: No, I wasn’t aware.

A: D! It’s a day devoted to you when you get on your high horse! You should feel honored.

D: . . .

A: Just kidding, D! Oh, look – it’s also National Bookmobile Day and Nothing Like a Dame Day.

D: What does that even mean? My god, has civilization has become so complacent as to make up daily holidays? Your lives are obviously far too easy. I think I need to go back to the Renaissance. (Sigh) Those were good times.

A: Welcome to progress, D. . . oh, hey, tomorrow is National wear your PJs to Work Day – yes!

D: I give up.

“. . . Did you know that the church had been built on a fairy hill?” Sean asked absently as they walked in a rut of the narrow path.

Maureen glanced at her friend, his hands shoved in his pockets and shoulders hunched. “I didn’t know that, no. Are you telling me you think fairies grabbed us and sent us hurtling through time, Sean?”

“No… although it’s as good a theory as any, at the moment.” Sean looked up and winked at Maureen, who was rolling her eyes at him. “I was reading that book – you know, the one you smuggled in with the rest of your packages last weekend?”

Sean grinned. Maureen acquired information – usually the forbidden kind – with an almost avaricious glee. “That book on the old religions? It had something about the Tuatha dé Danann, and how the Celts, having defeated them, led them into the earth through the sidhe mounds – fairy hills.”

“So, the Celts, being the invaders in this scenario, took over and assigned their own meaning to already-sacred sites?” Maureen had read the book, too. Suddenly Sean’s meaning became clear.

“And the Anglo-Irish priests completed the circle by sealing the deamons inside forever with their church,” she finished, triumphant. “Just like Patrick trying to drive the snakes out of Ireland!”

Sean rubbed the bridge of his nose, not sure whether he felt shocked or amused. “I wasn’t going to go that far, but it is the general idea. Why do you think the oaks were being cut? Lucky for us they were, though; it gives me an idea of when we might be. . .

Alone in the wilderness

…Their fingers touched. The mist flashed and crackled around them. All was noise and light. And then, there was nothing…

…The church had vanished, and there were no sounds but those belonging to the night. Sean lay on the grass and stared up at an intensely starry sky. Provided they had not left the hilltop, where the church once stood was a grove of oaks. Stands of broad leafy trees surrounded them on all sides, and beyond, aside from the barest shimmer of water, all was shadow. The convent, the school, the distant town and the ships – the ships in the harbor with their lights and sounds, even in the night – were gone…

A: I like how you just left them there.

D: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

A: Well, I’m not sure how I would feel being stranded in god-knows-when, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be anything approaching happy.

D: I will admit that I have never seen it from this particular vantage point.

A: Is this the stirrings of remorse I hear? Are you growing a remorse-bone?

D: A, can you not make up words? Please? You’re not taking this seriously.

A: I am so… ish. What is your point, anyway?

D: This isn’t remorse, A, this is admiration. I knew they were worthy… and it’s not like I didn’t help—

A: Hush, D – spoilers. As an aside, I just want to say that you are diabolical. You were testing them, weren’t you?!

D: You don’t get to be a time-travelling god-impersonator by being cuddly, A.

A: Good. Too much introspection doesn’t suit you – that’s my least favorite part to write.

D: Wait, you have a favorite? What are—never mind, you won’t tell me anyway. I know what you mean; I’ve been up here long enough and someone is as deep as a puddle!

A: Cheers, D.

 Sean remained sitting in the long grass. The questions, the impossible answers, the enormity of everything immobilized him. He looked to Maureen, standing alone at the edge of the hill and shook his head. Taking a deep breath, he stood and moved to her side. They stood in silence for a moment, contemplating the deepening night…

We meet again

. . . Sean spied Maureen across the deck, crumpled against the wall of the ship. Her captor had dropped her there to defend himself from a cloaked warrior Sean had yet to see in Grania’s fleet.

The sun glinted off the warrior’s claymore, dazzling Sean. He stood transfixed, watching Maureen’s thwarted captor, scrabbling for his life. . .

D: That’s me?

A: Yup.

D: I’m pretty spectacular.

A: (Nodding) Yes, yes you are. I actually kind of like you here.

D: I mean – hey, what? Kind of?

A: A little.

D: . . .

A: Well, it’s been thirteen years, D. And you aren’t exactly Mr. Charming.

D: Wait, I’ve been rattling around in the vast emptiness of your mind for over thirteen years and that’s the best entrance you can give me? I’m insulted.

A: Five seconds ago you liked it. And watch it – that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

D: Five seconds ago I didn’t realize how sheltered I was. I mean, shouldn’t there be trumpets, an angel’s choir, maybe some ticker-tape?

A: . . .

D: Ticker-tape, A. I want ticker-tape.

A: No. No ticker-tape. You are too spectacular for that; you don’t need all that other stuff.

D: Hmm… I am rather, aren’t I? And, if you think about it, a choir of angels might drown out that awesome sound the swords make when they clash.

A: Sigh.