Note: I wrote this long before I decided to write the novel, and in the novel the story of Rory's hanging is quite altered. Don't say I didn't warn you.
He went on. "The O'Neill.. well, he be not the O'Neill then since his Da was still alive.. but Shannon and his brother Ron - we called him Dark Ron as he is dark, unlike Shannon. Anyway, Shannon, Dark Ron and meself were after tradin' our minstrel motley.. that is, Shannon and meself.. Ron is a farmer.. for chain mail. To fight the O'Donnell."
Bo interrupted, "Hey I saw that movie.. 'Fighting Prince of Done gal', a Disney flick. But wait, the O'Donnell's were the good guys in that one." At a look from Rory he quickly added, "Well it was just a movie. We all know the O'Neills are the good guys." He was relieved that Rory stopped staring at him and continued with his story.
"Shan and his brother and meself were captured as we acted as spies for Tir Owen. They clapped us in the dungeon and there we be after sittin', wonderin' if we would rot there or be hanged." Bo's interest was peaked. The buddy movie was turning into something with Johnny Depp. No, Rory looked more like.. who was it.. Bo thought to himself. He realized Rory was a red haired double of that one guy in LOST, the one with the heroin addiction.. Charlie it was. Hair in his face and everything. It was fun casting the Christenlande bunch.
"Now Shan, well, you be knowin' the darlin' man, he can come up with some mad plans. He says to Ron and meself, 'Let's make these O'Donnells pay for leavin' us to rot.' Sure and I could not think what we three could do, with nothing but the clothes on our backs and no weapons." Rory scratched his head as if he was back with the O'Neill brothers trying to think of something to do.
"Shan got this idea that we should be singin'.. night and day.. as loud as can be.. to keep the guards awake and tax Finnegan O'Donnell who was the garrison captain. Now Finnegan used to run with old Shan and me, he was our friend. That's what war does to people." Bo nodded, remembering some experiences of his own.
Rory continued, "So we be startin' to sing.. loud and long and raucous. And out o' tune.. We weren't in it for the applause. And faith if it did not work. It fair drove the guards crazy. Ye could not get away from the noise. The dungeon was right in the middle of the fortress, with open windows all around and no way to block off the sound." He paused. "Finnegan himself finally came to the rat hole the man had thrown us, his old friends, into. He was after tellin' us to knock it off. Then when we just made rude noises at him, he begged. He said somethin' like, 'Shan, do not make me do something ye and I will be regrettin'.' He looked right at Shan. Not at Ron, not at me. We found out why the next day."
Rory stopped to loose a pebble that had bounced up from his step and fallen into the top of his soft leather boot. Bo urged, "Go on, go on, man. What happened?"
Rory, who had a Clint Eastwood sort of 100 yard stare, gazed out thoughtfully. He had a strained look on his face.
"We kept up the noise.. sure and I don't know how we did it. We were fair tired ourselves after a few days of no sleep. The next mornin' O'Donnell came with guards and they dragged me out of the cell. They took me to a scaffold. They put the noose around me neck I cried out the name of the colleen I love. And they hanged me."
Bo waited for Rory to go on. When he did not, Bo stopped him. "Aw, c'mon. You can't leave me hangin' like that." He quickly apologized for the faux pas, "Hey sorry, man, poor choice of words. What happened? Why'd that Finnegan guy say what he did to Shan. Give!"
Rory's face had a wicked smile. He winked. "Now sure and don't be forgettin' that I make me livin' tellin' stories. I know when to stop and let thee simmer a bit." He laughed. Bo waited.
Rory finished, "As the trap opened and I fell, a fault in the rope that no one could see snapped. I fell onto the ground, mostly unhurt. I lay nearly unconscious though, for the shock of it. The gawkers had their fill o' the gore. They stayed a bit to see Finnegan and his men toss me into a hay wagon, and they left. Finnegan had the men take me out into the hills near the fortress and dump me on the ground. I was bare conscious but I do be rememberin' that one o' the guards said to me, 'The Captain says to thank ye'r saints and get out of here."
He looked at Bo. "Finnegan was our friend. He knew Shan and me like we knew each other. He knew that Shan loved me above all men. And he knew that if he wanted to break Shan's spirit he could only be after doin' it through me."
Bo nodded slowly. "Talk about a buddy story. Man, I could sell this to Hollywood no problem." Then he looked at Rory and asked, "OK, I don't think I need to do this, but I gotta ask. The colleen ... her name was...?"
Rory smiled, mostly to himself, and walked on. Bo thought to himself that he might just be on the road with the very President of the Q.J.F.C. He hurried to overtake the man's steps. "So where'd you go and what happened to Shan and Dark Ron? And what was all that about you bein' in disguise and saving the Queen's life and.."
Rory laughed. "One story at a time, old son!" he said, holding up his hands in a "Whoa Nellie!" gesture. "Shannon and Ron got rescued when the O'Neills and their kinsmen captured the fortress. Then it was Finnegan's turn to spend sometime playin' at dice with the rats. Eventually the mess blew o'er and the clans be making' peace and that was that."
Bo said, almost tenderly "And you?"
Rory looked distantly up into the canopy of the deciduous trees that made up the ancient forest, now just starting to bud out with leaves. "I cannae explain it, friend. Somethin' told me I were needed back in Lawrencium. I be knowin' Shan would be fine.. the O'Neill would pay quite a ransom to get his son and heir back and the O''Donnells knew it. I was just sore regrettin' that I had to let Shannon keep thinkin' I was dead. One good thing came out of it though."
"One of the best songs Shannon e'er wrote. 'The Ballad of Rory McGuinness'." I'll sing it to ye sometime. Right now we are after needin' some shelter afore the chill night is on us. And I need to find some forest folk to see if they know where the old servants and the Queen passed. From what we have learned so far it seems to me they headed north, to a small port I be knowin' of. If my lady was not on some boat to Brittany, then mayhap she went on north without her servants." He whistled,. "That fine lady will be havin' a hard time passin' for anything but what she is."
Bo thought to himself, "This is one great guy. I'm glad I'm traveling with him." He wondered how Shannon was doing back in Lawrencium. He pressed Rory for details on his journey to Lawrencium.. but Rory kept his council. Bo would have to pursue that tale another time.
The men spotted a small cottage with faint firelight shining out of the tiny windows. "Rory said, "Remember we are Brother Richard and Brother Olaf."
Bo laughed a little. "Don't worry, man. I've been doing this sort of thing for a long long time. Why I have to be Olaf though.. that I don't understand."
They walked on.
Next: Just Like Some Buddy Movie
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