Another Friday, another behind-the-scenes look at a chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist, this time, Chapter 6. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter One, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings so you can follow along!
The sounds and smells of Carrickahowley Castle met them a good half-mile before they reached the stronghold itself. What was deserted in their time – with only the occasional fishing boat for company – was bustling with life. Nearly twenty ships filled the waters of the inlet, and the noise from their crews was rivalled only by a small market doing brisk business in the harbour. Overseeing it all was the stout stone tower. It glowered at them, even as it offered its protection.
Tomás manoeuvred his cart alongside a rickety dock and hailed two men standing close to the pier. They stopped their chatter and waved back. He turned to Sean and Maureen.
“Here we are. Hand those bundles off to young Owen over there.” He nodded his head at the younger of the two men as he approached the cart.
They scrambled out, eager to repay him – for his lack of interest, and the ride. Tomas tied off his pony’s reins and strolled over to the other man.
“No, that’s all right, lass. No need to strain yourself,” Owen said to Maureen as he took the sack of – well, of what, she was not sure. It was heavy, though. She handed it off and reached for a smaller pack.
“Ah now, you’re a bonnie bit of a thing, but breeches or no, the lad and I can manage this.” The young man laughed and sauntered off with two bundles under his arms. Sean looked at her and shrugged, but followed the other boy anyway.
She made a face and contented herself with unloading the cart and stacking its cargo close to the gangplank Sean and the boy had used to access a large ship. That was one mercy, at least. The gangplank was a flimsy thing, balanced precariously between the pier and the boat.
A shudder roiled her shoulders. Water, boats and swimming – these she did not mind. Heights, now? Heights made her legs weak.
Word of the Day
Gangplank: a movable plank used as a ramp to board or disembark from a ship or boat. Granted, as this NGram shows (and oh my god, aren’t NGrams the greatest thing ever for word nerds?!?)
D: I think that might just be you, A.
A: I don’t think so. There must be others. There’s a whole blog, called “Not One-Off Britishisms,” that uses it as a reference.
D: Okay, so you, and that guy.
A: Yeah, well – still not ‘just me,’ then, Druid.
A: Kill joy.
D: Fair enough. Let’s move on, shall we?
A: Right, where was I before you interrupted me?
D: Explaining why you used gangplank to describe the flimsy ramp between the dock and the boat when the word wasn’t even in use in 1584.
A: And the answer is simple: Maureen is describing the scene. To her eyes and ears, gangplank is a perfectly common, suitable word.
A: Indeed. Cheers, D.
Devil’s in the Details
Tomás Conroy is the ultimate messenger. In addition to being the resident blacksmith, he is a storyteller with a strong superstitious streak, which predisposes him to accepting strangeness, even as he is willing to tell all and sundry about it. Most quest archetype stories need one (heck, most stories no matter where they fall on the paradigm need one) and Tomás is it. Not only does he deliver Maureen and Sean to the action, he conveys important messages to a variety of characters, and to the readers. Because I use a limited form of 3rd person narrative, messengers such as Tomás are necessary to keep things moving along.
Carrickahowley Castle, today known as Rockfleet Castle, was just one of several strongholds held by a one Grace O’Malley/Grania Uaile, Pirate Queen of the Irish Seas. Carrickahowley is a tower house, built in the mid sixteenth century. It has four floors and is over eighteen meters in height. I took liberties with the location of the inlet, as currently the tower appears to have been built in the sea – at high tide, it is difficult to get into or out of the main door. Owned by an American, several years ago the castle was restored using traditional building methods and materials (Ref. Wikipedia).