This is probably one of the first new stories where I can refer you to the old: Shannon's Journey 767 AD.
I think Rory is hands down laura's and my favorite character, so much so that when we got together after so many years we decided the least we could do for the poor sap was to release him from the vow he will, in a few posts from now, make to the Queen and to give him a love of his own. But you will have to wait quite a while to learn about that.
Rory McGuinness wheeled at the sound of his name. He stared at his boyhood friend incredulously. "Shannon O'Neill?" he said in astonishment.
Shannon was on his feet and they came together halfway between them. Both men clasped each other's forearms, then with a happy laugh, wrapped each other in a bear hug, clapping each other's back heartily.
Shannon held Rory at arm's length and quipped, "Well, McGuinness, I see ye are still a wee one."
His unusually tall friend laughed and smiled. "And I see ye are still as grim and serious as ever." They clasped each other in a bear hug again.
Sitting at table over stew and tankards of ale, the two old friends animatedly caught up with the happenings of the past few years.
Shannon pointed to Rory's colorful garb. "Ye dinnae become a soldier then?"
"Och, sure I did. When I left ye and Master Ishaq I went straight to Armagh and joined the Prince O'Neill as a gallowglassman. I served with him for three years. I was wounded so they mustered me out."
"Wounded? Rory, me darlin', how?" Shannon asked with concern.
Rory reached up and rubbed his left shoulder. "I took a sword to the shoulder but I am healed now. I dinnae want to go back into soldierin' so I came across the Irish Sea to Britain to make me way as a singer and storyteller."
Shannon grinned, "So I see by your peculiar clothing." His own were much like. He took a swig of his ale. "Well, McGuinness, me own news ye shall not believe."
Rory looked humorously at Shannon, "Och I ken.. ye are married," he jested.
Shannon's grin was irrepressible. "Aye, just so."
Rory almost spit out the mouthful of ale he had drunk. "Nay, ye are lyin'!"
Shannon laughed, "I told ye ye wouldnae believe me."
Rory smiled broadly, "O'Neill a married man! Saints preserve us! Who is the poor lass? Someone back home?"
Shannon replied, "Nay, I was in Scotland with a friend of mine and met his neighbor, a bonny wee lass with a temper ye shall not believe when ye meet her."
Rory looked hard at him. "With ye as a husband how can she not?"
Shannon nodded. "Och, 'tis sad but true. But Rory, I have been true to her."
Rory looked amused. "Until ye set out on the road.."
Shannon's face grew serious. "Nay, me friend, e'en then. "
Rory stared. "Then, me heart, anythin' may be."
Shannon tipped his tankard to his friend, "And ye, Rory, did ye find your perfect lady?"
Rory shook his head. "I have not found that pure love I went on about before, but I have not been a monk either.. fightin' is not somethin' ye can leave off without some lass's healin' touch. But they were all camp women.. none one could love."
"None ye could love, Rory. Many I could have.. and would have." Shannon grinned.
Rory snorted, "For ten minutes," he taunted.
"Och, that is unkind. I can last longer than that. But I am me darlin' Heather's man now. We live in Lawrencium in Christenlande. So 'tis been weeks without.. well, ye know."
Rory stared unabashedly amazed. He finally said, "Lawrencium? In Christenlande? Where is that? "
Shannon swallowed some stew. "'Tis the new capital. I am court minstrel for the crown there."
Rory laughed and slapped his friend's arm. "Och, wed and set in one place now too, is it? She has ye tamed. I thought ne'er to see the like. That's King Lawrence, is it not? The son of King Arneth? I hear he is a fair one."
Shannon nodded, "Ye say fair meanin' he is a good man, but fairer still is his lady wife, the Queen. If ye come to court ye will see.. there is none more beautiful in all the world." He lifted his tankard, "To the fairest Queen in the isles, Queen Josephine!"
Rory lifted his tankard as well. "Josephine? A continental lady then?"
Shannon shook his head. Nay, she is half one of us, half Celt and half Sassenach. Her mother named her Seosaimhín."
Rory nodded approvingly. "Well that is all right then. Wherefore traveled ye to Lawrencium?"
Shannon sat back, his hands on his belly, feeling well fed. "Ishaq and I traveled there once, and then when I fell in with Sean I went back there with him. He dinnae want to stay and be court minstrel, so me little wife and I stayed and I took the post."
Rory set down his knife with which he had just speared a chunk of turnip from the stew. "What happened to Master Ishaq? Is he not with ye now?" Rory's face had darkened a bit.
Shannon explained, "Nay, the good master became lonely for his homeland so as far as I know he is back in Andalusia breakin' all the young men's hearts. He told me I was ready to be me own master, so we parted ways."
Rory bowed his head, "'Tis e'er been on me mind that he and I parted not well… I was angry, I know not about what. I often wonder if he e'er forgave me."
Shannon gazed long at his friend with a considering look. "Rory, he ne'er blamed ye.. he said ye needed to find your own way and that he asked Allah to watch over ye. Ye have nothin' to feel bad about."
Rory looked grateful for the news. "Och, sure and I hope 'tis true. Ishaq was more than kind and good to us both. I shall ne'er forget him." He changed the subject, "So, Shan, me lad, if ye are now court jester.. aye I know, minstrel, to King Lawrence of Christenlande, what are ye doin' sailin' back to Ireland?"
Shannon laughed and stood. "So I hear are ye.. and we be on the same ship together, God help us." Rory stood and joined him. They took their packs and headed out the door. Shannon went on, "Me sister Kathleen, ye remember her, she told me a sweet lass I had got a child on had died and the poor mite needed lookin' to. So I am on me way to Tyrone to see to that. Not that I can think what I can do that me family couldnae. But 'tis Kathleen's wish. And ye?"
Rory cast a merry smile at his friend, "Well, then, I be comin' with ye!"
Next: Two Bastards
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com