Saturday, July 28, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part II (Penny)

Part II -- Account by Penny Kearney


It couldn’t be.

“So sorry to have kept Rex,” Dana continued. “I sort of bumped into his patrol.”

I stared, I admit, if only to convince myself this was really him.  “But… we thought you… after the battle, when… not that we blamed you, we couldn’t…”

He raised an eyebrow, his hand resting easy on the hilt of the sword hanging at his side. “I gave the order to run for it, didn’t? I certainly hoped the others paid attention, that was a nasty blow over the head I got before I was captured. The other fellow got worse, though, so it’s not so bad.”

“We thought they’d imprisoned you.”

At this he smiled, that curious mixture of soberness and humor quirking his mouth. “There is always a path, even when one cannot see it.”

  “Dana, that entire valley was overrun, how could you possibly have gotten out?”

  He merely shrugged. “As I said, there is always a way. Let’s just say… we ought not to overestimate their patrol patterns. Besides, I’m one of The Order, aren’t I?”

  “Yes…” I couldn’t help but smile, and a short laugh escaped me. He had no idea what a relief it was that he had turned up. “I’m very glad to see you, after all these weeks. Rex, would you--? Rex?”

  He’d gone. I turned a circle, searching amongst the soldiers that wove in and out of our little campsite for the brawny commander.

  I sighed. “One step ahead of me, as usual.” This had become a frequent event as of late. Possessing a more organized mindset than myself, he helped keep things running more smoothly than when they were left to me alone, often completing tasks before I remembered to remind him of them.

 I returned my attention to Dana, taking in his appearance in a brief glance. Instead of the livery of our army, he wore a nearly all black outfit that he’d undoubtedly taken from an enemy soldier during his escape.  Over this he sported a hauberk of chain mail, a leather jerkin, vambraces, and shin guards. His dark brown cloak hung back over his shoulders, along with a loaded satchel under his arm. His hair, which he preferred to keep at a shorter length, had grown some. I could tell he’d tried to comb it into submission at some point before arriving here, but it stuck out at rogue-ish angles, which seemed to me somewhat fitting considering his latest escapade.

  “Come,” I said. “Are you hungry?”

  “I could eat, I suppose.” He replied.

  “Then you can do so while I fill you in. There have been some….developments. Some not so good.”

  In spite of my relief at his return, I did not relish telling Dana about what had transpired in his absence. I gestured for him to follow me, and led the way towards one of the caves.

  “Before you do, tell me,” He fell in step beside me. “When we were separated those weeks ago, what happened to my cohort? Did they retreat as ordered?”

  I glanced down, taking a breath. “Most of them did.” I said. “When you did not return, McKenzie took a dozen men with him to search for you. They’ve not been heard from since. I’m sorry…”

  He nodded slowly, his shoulders sagging. “Aye…. Stubborn soldier. Would that he had died in a way less futile.”

  I tightened my jaw. Would that so many had died in ways less futile…

  “I’m glad the others escaped.” He said. “What has happened of late, as you so ominously hinted?”

  I came to a place just to the side of the cave entrance. Remains from last night’s fire lay scattered in the small fire pit I’d dug into the hard earth. I sat down against the rock wall and pulled over my saddlebag, reaching in and retrieving some dried meat. Dana sat down near me, taking off the pack he’d had on his back and setting it with a thump on the ground.

  “After our defeat at Ross, we moved on to Campbell’s realm.” I handed him the meat. “Lord Campbell gave us shelter and supplies, and his castle for defense. Ross’s armies eventually pursued us there, and laid siege.”

  “Since you are here and not there, I take it things did not turn out so well.”

  I laughed, devoid of mirth. My skin tingled with a wave of heat that washed over me. “That is one way to put it. Some men got out to call in reinforcements to attack the besiegers from behind. We received word back that our men were in position, ready to launch a simultaneous attack on Ross’s army from the outside, while we attacked them from where we were. The combined forces would have been enough to win a victory.”

  I drew a breath, avoiding Dana’s gaze. “That night, when we attacked, we discovered the betrayal; our messenger had been murdered before he could reach our forces with our plea for help, and Campbell had bribed the messenger’s companions to give us the false message. Completely outnumbered… we lost almost immediately. Percy and Seph managed to make an opening enough for me to lead some of us out to escape into the woods with a map we’d stolen from Campbell. Now, they’re probably rotting in Campbell’s dungeons as prisoners, as well as half of our forces we had there.”

  I leaned back. Dana chewed in silence, a contemplative expression on his face. He finished the last bite of meat, and rose, dusting his hands off.

 “Well then, it’s high time we broke them out, isn’t it?”

  I shook my head. Always a man of action, was Dana. Never an idle moment. But this time he was out of his league. “It’s not that easy.”

  “Oh? What of their gifts, are they useless in their position?”

  I rose, a flash of anger surging through me. Not at Dana, but at those….low lives who’d betrayed us.

  At this whole hopeless mess!

  “Do you know how Campbell treats his prisoners? Even before he betrayed us I did not approve.” I snapped. “If my brothers can still lift a sword by the time we rescue them, it will be a blessed MIRACLE.”

  I paced away a few steps in an attempt to calm my racing pulse. Such a wrath churned inside me that could surely not be right. For this reason I had tried not to think about the past weeks and keep my focus on the insignificant, pathetic little raids I’d been having Rex do. I already knew I was given to emotion, and if I did not control myself, I would assuredly do something rash.

     “Campbell is allied with Ross now.” I explained, my tone dropping. “His troops are swarming all over the area looking for us. We’ve tried, but we haven’t been able to even get close to the castle. Ross’s men attacked our secondary force as well, the location they apparently tortured out of our messenger before killing him. They’ve been forced to retreat and hang back or else risk engagement again.”

  My gaze drifted over the infirmary just inside the cave. “Rescuing Percy and Seph is not just a matter of standing up and doing it now, Dana.” I watched one of the doctors slowly bind a white bandage over a young soldier’s shoulder.

   “I’m just as mournful as you are they’re gone, Pen.” Dana said behind me. “And I’m sorry. But I didn’t come here to offer useless suggestions, even if you may think I did due to how I act. And in this case, I think my own gift will come in handy.”

  His pack rustled as he rummaged through it. I glanced back. He pulled a scroll from the depths, and straightened, stepping closer.

  He put a hand on my shoulder. “We’ll get them back. I’m here once more, and I’ll do what I can, even without my followers.” He withdrew his hand, and began untying the leather strap holding the scroll closed. “Now, for a rescue of our brothers in chains…”

  I narrowed my eyes, but gave him my attention. He glanced around and located the small table I’d had the men make standing a short distance away. I watched him for a moment, frowning, while he walked over and laid out the scroll out flat on the wooden surface. Finally I joined him, curious if not quite convinced. The scroll proved to be a map that included Ross’s realm and much of the campaign territory we’d covered in the past several months.

  “This is Ross’s castle, where I was kept for a short period.” Dana pointed. “As I traveled, I made note of the search patterns his forces used as I made my way to Campbell’s castle, thinking he may have let you hide there. Obviously, that didn’t turn out well for you all, but I did manage to find my way around his place quite easily.”

  I still suspended hope, but my interest was aroused. Any information on Campbell’s castle was good, whether it led to the rescue of my brothers or not.

  He continued. “His moat is water based, but the back of his castle is built into a sheer rock wall joining another mountain side, usually inaccessible due to its sheer rock face, a natural advantage. However,” He held up a finger.  “There are caves and tunnels that have been worn out by the waters of his moat, some connected to unused portions of his castle that may have been overlooked for some time now. I hid there for a day or so before I memorized their guard rotations.”

  On the map, he pointed out several locations on the perimeter of Campbell’s castle. “There, and there, are two caves that connect to his cellars and dungeons via an old sewage system, now unused and ignored.”

  “Campbell inherited the castle from his father,” I said, leaning my hands against the table and studying the territory drawing. “His father conquered it from Lord Wexford decades ago; it’s possible Wexford concealed the knowledge of these holes in his defenses on purpose with the idea of retaking the castle again someday.”

  Dana arched an eyebrow like he did when something intrigued him.

  I shrugged. “Just theorizing; go on.”

  “No, you’re probably right. I actually stole some supplies from Campbell’s kitchens; not really worth the time, though, but I used the same system. Either they knew I was there and let me pass, which I doubt, or your theory has some merit.”

  I nodded, not interrupting as he went on.

 “Now, as for actually getting there, his moat is fed via the Tranet River; the same one which runs through this mountain. And, I might add, through a forest that would conveniently hide the movements of a small party of stealthy individuals.

  “After I escaped, I sent word to my cohort, in hope they had escaped the battle; now that I know they did, they should be marching to support your secondary command. I sent orders with them to reengage the enemy as soon as we send word, as their numbers may be enough to do so. However, we need to assemble the rest of our order for this to be successful. And, while we’re at it, we might as well assassinate any leaders in the castle we find.”

  He paused. “There is, however, one problem as far as I’m concerned.”

  I tilted my gaze towards him. A moment passed before he met it.

  “Set is with Ross.”

  The hair on the back of my neck stood on end at the very sound of that name. My brow smoothed and I straightened.

  “It’s the reason my attempt to lead us behind enemy lines didn’t work.” His expression was serious. “If he’s there, my pathfinding could potentially be misdirected or thwarted; he’s the only one who knows how to deviate my courses.”

  I looked at the map again, not to examine it but to think. I traced my finger back and forth over my mouth, a nervous habit.

  He straightened and folded his arms with a shrug. “It’s a long shot, I know, but without the others here we can’t amass a force large enough to take on Campbell and Ross’s forces man for man.”

  “No, not with the remnant force we have, for sure….” I replied.

  I gave up despairing over the complicated mess of this whole situation, managed to calm my thoughts after hearing about Set, and went over the information Dana had just given me.

  Could his plan really work? I couldn’t tell if it tempted me because of its plausibility, or if it was because I was desperate for anything remotely feasible to rescue my brothers.

  “You and your ‘gifts’, Dana….” I murmured absently. “They didn’t help you at Ross. Are you trying to say that was Set’s fault.”

  “Set can’t block it, but he can confuse my path. That’s why we were ambushed.”

  I shook my head. Lately he’d been talking more about the stories told by older Order members about these gifts. Hereditary abilities of some sort, usually vague and subversive. I’d heard them, too, as a child, and for a time believed them. But that had faded over the years in the wake of hardship and war, and now seemed so unimportant.

  “You know you’re the only one among us who still… believes in these gifts you keep talking about.”

  He gave a small smile. “I got back here alone, didn’t I? I’m the path seeker. To me, there is always a way. That’s my gift.”

   I remained dubious. “Your gift… how exactly does it work?”

 “It’s… a feeling.  Like I know for certain I’m going the right way. Opposite wise, I can also tell when I’m going the wrong way; At least, most of the time. It’s not infallible, just depends on how focused I am.”

  “You seem to think all of us have some sort of ‘gift’.”

  He nodded firmly. “I certainly do. At least, those of us in The Order have one.”

   “Well, it has yet to show. You’re right about one thing; we should check those tunnels leading into Campbell’s castle.”

   “As you say, then, my lady.” He said, dropping the subject. “Seeing as I’m currently without my soldiers, I’m at your service, as well as may be.”

  I shook my head. “No, let’s not bring soldiers. We’ll go alone.”

  He narrowed his eyes slightly. “Are you sure?”

  “It’s a long shot, like you said.” I rolled up the map for him. “I’ve seen enough men die already, I’ll risk no more.”

  “Very well.” He took the map, and tied the leather strap around it again. “When do you want to depart?”

  I gave the sun a glance to ascertain the time. “We’ll go tonight, after Rex returns from his raid. But we can’t let anyone know we’re leaving. I can tell the patrolman when we actually go, but no one else, and not beforehand.”

  “Do you suspect a spy?”

  “No,” I said. “I suspect another McKenzie.”

  With a resolute tone and a determined glint in his eyes, he answered, “So be it.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swamped

So, yeah. This was expected. I'm way swamped with writing, and the minor stress is eating at my creativity. Yet, I'm too stubborn to let go of all the projects yet. If it comes to that, so be it, but it hasn't yet. I just need to get a schedule figured out.

First change is going to be that I'm going to turn Thursday Legend Post into Saturday Legend Post. Friday Music will either be on Friday or combined with the Legend Post on Saturday.

FtGG will be the once a month sporadic thing. Hopefully y'all can handle major cliffhangers.

Anyway, just figured I'd say that. I don't have hardly any idea who actually reads this blog, but I do still feel kinda responsible for making sure things don't get boring. As soon as I get my notebook back, as well, I'll be posting the dimensions for some of the various new PVC swords Percy has made, including a rapier, and a Land Between Time weapon called a lance-blade, invented by Dana.

Until then, I must write hard.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part I (Dana)

Part I -- Account by Dana MacDonald
(Click here for an introduction to the story.)

The path ahead seemed to wind on without end as far as the eye could see, hedged by trees on either side. Birds sang every so often, setting a picturesque setting on my travel as the sun’s beams danced lazily to my left, having begun her descent an hour or so ago. The path I strode over was well trodden, the dirt and dust dry, but not clouding as it often did on windy days.

  I felt light-hearted, but also kept my reason. My boots left prints in the dirt of the road as I adjusted my cloak and the small traveler’s pack I kept slung over my back. When I returned my gaze forward, I saw the path ahead of me snake out of sight into the trees in a curve. The bend it took brought it up onto a hillside, which looked completely forested form my point of sight.

  That is the way, I thought to myself.

  I continued to walk casually, but my hand out of habit strayed down to the hilt of the sword sheathed at my side. I stroked the sapphire jewel at its pommel before settling my hand into an easy grip that would not hinder my stride.

  The path ahead remained void of any other travelers, but as I walked, the noises of birds and other animals fell silent, gradually, until an eerie calm settled around me. Making certain to keep my movements calm and quiet, I drew my sword, leaning the flat of the blade against my shoulder as I continued on, senses alert.

  From the right side of the path ahead, a large, tall man stepped out from the greenery with an enormous claymore gripped in his hands. Three others emerged behind the man, armed with either longswords or axes. I stepped back to stand with a large tree to my back as the four began to encircle me. I restrained a smile as I recognized their clothing, but they did not seem to share the knowledge.

  Lowering my sword, I raised a hand in greeting. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. I trust I find you in good health?”

  From a tree to my left, a man suddenly dropped to the ground with two short swords gripped in his hands. The man wore leather armor, and, not surprisingly to me, a kilt. Like the others, he wore a hood to hide his features, but he pulled this back, revealing a very sober expression. By his bearing and posture, I sensed one here who was more than skilled in warfare, even compared to the others.

  When he spoke, his tone was curt. “Better health than you shall soon be in if you do not state your business.”

  I raised an eyebrow at the comment, but kept a casual position. “My business, gentlemen, is quite harmless; to you all, at least. I will relate it in due time, though I would feel better were it under less tense circumstances.” In a gesture of calm, I sheathed my sword.

  None of the others gave any indication of following my example. The fellow who had dropped from the tree came closer. 

  “The circumstances are tense and shall remain as such.”

  As he spoke, the others tightened their circle around me, raising their weapons.

   I let my expression lose a touch of its warmth, my eyes flashing blue slightly. “If I did not think you were more honorable than you let on, this circumstance would be a lot tenser, I assure you. However, I do not wish to incite a confrontation; I’m only here looking for a friend.”

   “What ‘friend’?” the man growled, looking no less intimidating for my reply.

   “A woman, about yea high,” I gestured to a level slightly lower than my own, which was already quite less than the large fellows around me. “Tan skin and dark, curly hair; she answers to many titles, so I won’t bore you with a list.”

The man’s eyes narrowed, making his expression look fiercer than it already was. “There are many women who could fit that description; what’s so special about this one?”

I smiled slightly.  “Oh, quite a lot I could go into. She’s an avid writer, and has a confident aura about her. She’s… how should I put this…” I frowned as I sought proper word usage, “She’s like me, I suppose, in that she may not seem like she fits in properly. That and she’s a good friend, so that makes her special to me. You all seem like worthy fellows, though, so she would probably get along with you.”

  One or two of the surrounding warriors exchanged cautious glances as the leader looked me over carefully.

   “You’d better be telling the truth, lad.” He said at last. He turned, and walked onto the path.

The others looked at me expectantly without moving. Taking the hint, I followed their leader onto the path as the others came behind, forming a rearguard. I narrowed my eyes at the back of the leader, attempting to jog my memory.

   “Charley, is it? Or am I mistaken.”

  The large fellow glanced back at me for a moment, and then shook his head. “Nay, lad, my name is Rex.”

 “Of course,” I replied. “My mistake, forgive me. If you don’t mind me asking, where are we going?”

   “I do mind. After you tell me your name, you can stow your chatter until we get there.”

I smiled as I said,

   “My name… “ I hesitated. “…Sage. That will do.”

  The large man did not reply.

   We continued our trek in silence. As I and the others followed, the leader suddenly veered off the path into the shrubbery to our left. I felt the familiar tingle run through my body. We’re still going the right way; might as well enjoy the scenery while I can.

  The leader marched with a purposeful manner through the forest underbrush. Behind me, the rearguard of warriors followed without a comment, but every so often I heard them exchange whispers which I could not decipher.

We walked in silence for some time as we traversed the hill. I breathed deeply, the air clear and touched with the scent of pine from the trees around us. Gradually, the dirt and green carpet of the forest undergrowth gave way to small outcroppings of rock and ridges of stone reaching up amidst the trees. I heard sounds; voices calling, horses, marching, the clink of hammers; the sounds of a camp, I deemed.  

  We came around a particularly large outcropping, and I saw the trees thinning ahead. The ground beneath, which was already an incline, began to raise more. Above, through the tree tops, I could see the towering sides of a mountain. My eyes widened slightly at the impressive sight, but I said nothing.   

  We reached the edge of the forest. Ahead, two warriors, garbed as the others, stood on the fringes. We came closer, and they stepped aside from our path, recognizing Rex, from what I could tell. The two men gave me wary looks. I made certain to smile amicably as we passed.

  The view outside of the forest was quite a sight; we had come to a clearing in the forest. Jagged mountain face rose skyward on three sides of the clearing, the rest being bordered by the forest to create a secluded, comfy hideaway. Two yawning cave entrances could be seen from where we were, set back in the cliff walls and lit within by torchlight.

  The grassy clearing itself was filled with military equipment, horses, pitched tents, rows of weapons, wagons, and the like; many warriors and workers wandered throughout the camp, all armed and armored like Rex, and most dressed as he in highlander attire.

  I smiled at the sight. It’s good to be back.

  Some noticed us as we walked through the camp, but returned to their tasks with little more than a glance. The soldiers and workers busied themselves with various tasks: cleaning, sharpening and repairing weapons, attending to the horses, and other tasks that would compose an army’s upkeep. Several appeared to be fashioning something like a battering ram to one side of the camp, groups of younger soldiers having been charged to haul heavy sections of wood, rope, and pine tar from elsewhere in the camp to their superiors at the building area.

   Rex looked about for a short moment before grabbing the arm of a young soldier hurrying by on some errand.

   “Where is Lady Kearney?” He asked the warrior. At the title, I raised an eyebrow, but otherwise did not respond.

   “She’s juss comin’ ou’ a th’ infirmary, sar,” the soldier replied.

  Rex nodded, releasing the man who promptly returned to his course of motion. Rex started off toward one of the cave entrances.

   “Infirmary?” I asked.

  Rex did not respond as he strode forward. The others following behind seeming to have left at some point after we entered the camp, I jogged after him, taking care not be bowled over by anyone marching past on some task. As I followed, a voice from ahead and to the side suddenly called out, “Rex!”

  I came to a halt behind him as the large soldier turned in the direction of the summons. The view of whoever had called was obscured by his immense bulk, but I knew well enough who it was.

  “Where the blazes have you been?” The voice continued with a subtle edge to it. “The raid leaves in less than an hour; I was about to assemble the men myself.”

  I smiled slightly at the tone used on the hulking figure in front of me, and relaxed, my hand casually grasping the hilt of my sword at my side. Rex took the outburst well, or so I thought from how his stance remained as it was. He stepped forward, hands coming to rest on the shoulders of the shorter figure before him.

  “I did not forget the raid; you have little faith in me.”

  “I have little patience.” His hands were shrugged off. “All that evaporated while I was sitting there for two hours while the medics attended to a knife slice that should have only taken fifteen minutes to bind.”

  “If you have little patience, then I guess our guest is in for a bit of a cold shoulder for his troubles.” Rex crossed his arms, his shoulders flexing.

There was a pause, then the woman’s voice became short and tense. “Guest; what guest, Rex.”

  “He says you’re a friend of his.”Rex nodded back at me.

With a touch of amusement, I spoke at last. “Troubles? Hardly; I’ve seen worse, and in better settings, too.”

  Rex moved to one side, though he remained there; giving me a view of the speaker. She was just as I had described her: tan skin, dark, curly hair and the tension in her voice showing in her brown eyes. She wore a long tunic, overlaid with leather armor as were her warriors. A sword hilt set with an aquamarine jewel that glittered in the afternoon light showed over her right shoulder.

  At the sight of me, the tension in her eyes drained, to be replaced by disbelief.

  Her brow smoothed. “…Dana?”

I shrugged. “I suppose we’ll go with that, Lady Kearney. A pleasure to grace your presence once more.”

I bowed.

For The Greatest Good -- Introduction

The World
A diverse land where knowing what to expect is a short lived comfort rather than a reality. A place where fact and fantasy blend, familiar and imaginary dance amidst the horizons, and dreams and hardships walk the same path.

Main Characters
Two leaders in The Order, a band of warriors whose unorthodox methods and steadfast support of ancient moral virtues has sidelined them to characters of hopeful legends.

Penny Kearney
Visionary. Founder of The Order and though not direct commander in every scenario or field, largely responsible for keeping the knights unified both to each other, and to the core beliefs that drive their mission.
Age: 20 yrs.
Weapon: Runebinder, a lightweight broadsword with a blue topaz fitted in the pommel.
Armor: Light compliment of leather armor (breastplate, pauldrons, vambraces, shin guards)





Dana MacDonald
Loyalist. Strong field commander and willing helper to those in need, with integrity of character and steadfast faithfulness to The Order and its quest.
Age: 19 yrs.
Weapon: PathSeeker, modified claymore with a sapphire fitted into the pommel.
Armor: Light chain mail and leather vambraces and shin guards.





The Chronicles
As this story takes place from the perspective of both the characters shown above, some of the sections of text will be written in first person by either Dana or Penny. At the beginning of each section, the specific author will be declared, and the chronicle will continue from there from the point of view of that author. Also, as this adventure is being written in partnership and without prior knowledge of coming events, you will be experiencing the story in more or less the same fashion as its authors. There may be, therefore, some errors in its recounting. Pray forgive these discrepancies.

The Schedule
As time to write is pressing and sporadic amidst many other tasks, there will be no patterned timetable for the release of each section of this ongoing story, but be assured that an attempt to produce at least one body of text each month will be made. Likely there will be more, depending on the length of the account, but I will make no promises so that none may be disappointed in the event that this proves not to be the case.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday Music/Thursday Legend Post -- Red Hugh O'Donnell's escape from Dublin Castle

And so I prove once again how terrible I am at keeping any sort of schedule. The downside of innate flexibility. I missed last week's music post, and only just barely cobbled together a Legend Post the day before. In my defense, I was actually busy last week trying to develop a story for a job assignment. So I'm combining Friday Music and Thursday Legend Post in one, on Saturday.

First for the legend. I started a Legend Post last night about the claymore and scian dubh, two Scottish weapons. But that was because I was tired and didn't feel like trying to pull together a post on a legendary person. I ditched that and figured I might as well write about Red Hugh O'Donnell.
Great Scotch, look at those waves...
Percy, Seph, Rosie, Pippin, and I were singing Celtic songs in the kitchen earlier today and we sang two songs about this particular Irish military commander. One was O'Donnell Abu, most commonly known as to have been sung by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

Proudly the note of the trumpet is sounding
Loudly war cries arise on the gale!
Fleetly the steed of lough Swilly is bounding
To join the six squadrons on Saimer's green vale!
On every nmountaineer, strangers to flight or fear,
Rush to the standard of dauntless Red Hugh.
Banaught to Gallowglass, throng from each mountainpass,
Onward for Erin, "O'Donnell Abu!"



And then there's the Donegal Song by Phil Coulter and Aoife NĂ­ Fhearraigh (don't ask me to pronounce that):
If these stones could speak, what a tale they'd tell,
Of the heroes and chiefs of Tyrconnell.
Of the battles fought, the wonders wrote,
And the glories of Red Hugh O'Donnell.

So who is this Red Hugh person, anyways? Well, put simply, he was an Irish rebel, quite a thorn in the side of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I of England. He's also the only person, along with two companions, to ever successfully escape English occupied Dublin Castle.

And he did it at age 19.

He's said to have been a proper Irish flame, with hair to match; a valiant spirit and visionary thinking.

"It was to Doe that Inghean Dubh, wife of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, sent her teenage son, Red Hugh, to be trained in the arts: literature, music, swordsmanship, endurance, horsemanship and indeed all such educational pursuits as befitted a young Irish prince. Strangely, the personality of Red Hugh seems to have survived the centuries, bestowing on his memory the near-magical qualities of CuChulain and Fionn MacCumhail. This enchantment is something impossible to define, but perhaps more than anything else, it is the idealism they lived for - and their readiness to fight for - that has captivated the hearts of a nation. To prevent an alliance between the O'Donnell and O'Neill clans, Red Hugh lured, tricked, and captured by British troops at the age of fifteen, and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. There it's said he was sorely mistreated for three years before he managed to escape."
[exerpt taken from http://www.finnvalley.ie/history/odonnells/redhugh.html]

Now, I read something about a betrayal that led to O'Donnell's recapture, but for the life of me I cannot find the reference again. Oh well...

At any rate, it was back to prison with Hugh. However, the very next year, he and two companions -- two brothers, Art and Henry O'Neill -- escaped Dublin Castle for good.

"They descended by a rope through a sewer which opened into the castle ditch; and leaving there the soiled outer garments, they were conducted by a young man, named Turlough Roe O'Hagan, the confidential servant or emissary of the Earl of Tyrone, who was sent to act as their guide. Passing through the gates of the city, which were still open, three of the party reached the same Slieve Rua which Hugh had visited on the former occasion. The fourth, Henry O'Neill, strayed from his companions in some way—probably before they left the city—but eventually he reached Tyrone, where the earl seized and imprisoned him.
  Hugh Roe and Art O'Neill, with their faithful guide, proceeded on their way over the Wicklow mountains toward Glenmalure, to Feagh Mac Hugh O'Byrne, a chief famous for his heroism, and who was then in arms against the government.
  Art O'Neill had grown corpulent in prison, and had beside been hurt in descending from the castle, so that he became quite worn out from fatigue. The party were also exhausted with hunger, and as the snow fell thickly, and their clothing was very scanty, they suffered additionally from intense cold. For awhile Red Hugh and the servant supported Art between them; but this exertion could not long be sustained, and at length Red Hugh and Art lay down exhausted under a lofty rock, and sent the servant to Glenmalure for help.
  With all possible speed Feagh O'Byrne, on receiving the message, dispatched some of his trusty men to carry the necessary succor; but they arrived almost too late at the precipice under which the two youths lay. 'Their bodies,' say the Four Masters, 'were covered with white-bordered shrouds of hailstones freezing around them, and their light clothes adhered to their skin, so that, covered as they were with the snow, it did not appear to the men who had arrived that they were human beings at all, for they found no life in their members, but just as if they were dead.' On being raised up, Art O'Neill fell back and expired, and was buried on the spot; but Red Hugh was revived with some difficulty, and carried to Glenmalure, where he was secreted in a sequestered cabin and attended by a physician."
[exerpt from somewhere I lost the link to. Yes, I be unhappy about that.]

Red Hugh O'Donnell, who later went on to lead much of the Nine Years War against England, is the only person along with his two companions to ever have escaped Dublin Castle. And he did it not once, but twice, and both before he even turned twenty. Kind of an inspiration for us young folk, eh?

Now for the song:


This is the Donegal Song I mentioned above. It's a haunting, reminiscent tune that turns into a rhythmic remembrance of glories past complete with a bagpipe solo.

I get the feeling that this post has been rushed and hashed together, which often happens when I write about historical events. If I've gotten something wrong and you're Irish, I apologize. Feel free to leave me a comment so I can fix it. I like to get things right, but I don't often succeed. For all the rest of you, don't take my word as gospel. If you are interested in really getting to know the history behind all this, then I would suggest doing some research of your own just to be sure you get the facts surely straight.

That said, I hope you liked the post, anyways. This is probably the longest legend post I've written, so if you get all the way down to here, congratulations! You're awesome. ^.^

Dia duit,
~Penny

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rosie's Library -- The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

While we were on our vacation, Rosie, Pippin, Lynn, Lynnae, and several other girls read The Goose Girl. I asked Rosie to write up a report, and she graciously did.

Here is a report on a book by Shannon Hale.
The title of it is ‘The Goose Girl’ based on the Grimm brother’s fairy tale.

There are several important characters but I’m only going to name some.  There is: Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee (Yes that is all one name), Selia, Talone, and Ungolad. Those are just a small portion of really awesome charries.
The synopsis;

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown princess of Kildenree, was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue. She spent most of her childhood listening to her Aunts stories and learning to speak with swans. Until one day a colt was born with a word on his tongue, his name – Falada. Ani unlocked the key to his language and as her gift grew so did everyone’s mistrust in it. Finally the Queen sent Ani off to be the Queen of a foreign land. 
One a score of one to ten I would give it a nine. Because there was only one part that was a bit impolite, it was in a story one of the characters told. Other than that it was the best rewritten fairy tale I have ever read. ^.^   It is a good read aloud book too. Lynn read it aloud when we visited them. : )

 Now for the ending quote.
“I don’t get it,” said Conrad.
“Well thanks for that,” said Enna, a protective hand on Ani’s shoulder. “If you had to get every story told, we’d be in short supply.”  ~Enna and Conrad

 I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 
(By the way, this is the first book in ‘The Book’s of Bayern’ series ^. ^)
Dia duit,
~Penny

Friday, July 13, 2012

For The Greatest Good

I'm not sure how many of you remember the post I wrote where I mentioned For the Greatest Good, but this is the follow up on that idea. Dana and I have been doing FtGG over skype just because we started and didn't stop. The result of two avid storytellers. It's been turning out very interestingly, and I got the idea to rewrite it in first person prose and post each segment here on the blog.

Yeah, I'm nuts. I have a serial novella to write, a trilogy, and now a blog series. Until I honestly can't accomplish it, though, I won't call it quits. So we'll see how things go.

I'm going to rewrite the first segement we did later this week or next and post it on here. From then on, Dana and I will come out with another segment once or twice a month (we have yet to determine the specific schedule). I think, if I may be so bold as to say, that it'll be an enjoyable read. Hopefully we'll be able to finish the storyline before Dana goes off to college next year.

Keep an eye out for the first section!

Dia duit,
~Penny

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reccomended Post -- Nairam of Sherwood: Rise of the Female Robin Hood

A very good friend of mine wrote an excellent post dealing with the growing Maid Marian phenomenon. I highly reccomend you read it through, for it's a good review on both how history and current culture affects literature, and the art of Christian femeninity.

Pinterest
"I’ve noticed a trend in Robin Hood literature lately. I first noticed it on Figment, when, out of curiosity, I searched for “Robin Hood.” Basically the results could be divided into two categories: 1) BBC fanfiction and 2) girl Robin Hoods.

One in particular struck me: it was about a girl (assumedly Marian) who has taken on the name of her friend, runs a band, and wears a hood to disguise her gender. The book started out with her finding him in the forest.

This isn’t an isolated case. One of the reasons I dislike Hawksmaid is that it makes Marian the mastermind of plans. Rowan Hood has a version of Robin that I very much like, but apparently the reason his disguises always worked before was because Rowan’s mother protected him. So Rowan has to rescue him. At the end of the first book, Rowan establishes her own band. Even BBC Robin Hood, which I like, has a Marian who dresses up and plays a Robin Hood-like role.

It wasn’t until I saw this picture of my childhood Maid Marian turned into a wanted outlaw that I fully realized this trend. My first reaction was...." [Read the rest of the article here]


Though you can find this out on her blog, R.G. Nairam has written a retelling of Robin Hood called Forest of Lies. It has not been published yet, but I've read the manuscript, and it's an excellent and insightful story that I hope will be available to the public soon. It's definitely a book the world could stand to read. Nairam is also a close friend of mine whom I love very much. <3

Dia duit,
~Penny

Legend Post #6 -- The Loch of the Lost Sword

Well, hello, again. I'm back with a 'proper' legend for this week. However, I'm a little under the weather, so my brain is not working on full power. Plus I have a 15-25 installment series to plan out for a job assignment. Due to these two things, I've chosen a smaller legend that will require a little less explaining on my part. I guess it sounds lazy, but I have to work with what I have, and I don't want another Thursday to go by without a legend.

The Loch of the Lost Sword is a minor legend in Scotland. You probably would never hear of it unless you looked up the West Highland Way, which is a 96mi. hiking trail through the Scottish Highlands starting at Milngavie and ending at Fort William. Technically this little spot of water is too small to be called a loch, and is rather referred to as a lochan.


I found it difficult to find a lot of information on the Lochan of the Lost Sword, but with persistance (and no brain power for anything else) I finally found a snippet, and an article. Both have to do with Robert the Bruce, but one says he scored a great victory....

"Legend has it that when Robert the Bruce of Scotland was fleeing the English troops pursuing him, he ordered all his mens heavy weapons be tossed into this small loch to lighten their load. A day later the two armies met in battle only a mile from this spot, and despite being only lightly armed, the Scots routed the English." [source unknown]

.....while the other fills in quite a few missing details that paint a very diferent picture.

"As we already know Bruce had made a few enemies when he stabbed Comyn. By far the biggest of these north of the Border were the MacDougalls a powerful clan who held the lands around Argyll. This clan was descended from Somerled a great Hebridean king and it’s testament to their power that they had inflicted heavy defeats on both the MacDonald and Campbell clans. They had been great Scottish patriots, unfortunately for Bruce though Comyn was related to the MacDougalls and so they had come out in support of Balliol and the English. With Bruce and his surviving army fleeing westward they ran out of the frying pan and smack into the fire where a large force of MacDougalls were sharpening their swords in anticipation.

When Bruce reached Strathfillan, just to the south of Tyndrum around a thousand MacDougalls were there to meet him, led by the son of Alexander the chief John of Lorne (also known as ‘John the Lame). Bruce was trapped! With Valence pursuing him and the MacDougalls blocking his path he was forced to fight. Bruce and his men were not prepared for battle and the result was a foregone conclusion. What few horses Bruce still had were cut down by the MacDougall axemen and many of his most valued allies such as Sir James Douglas and Gilbert Hey were wounded during the engagement. This rather fanciful poem gives account of the battle:

They thereupon withdrew. In this
There was no mark of cowardice.
They kept together; and the king
Was ever busy rescuing
The rearmost of his company.
With skill and valour there wrought he,
And safely all his men withdrew.
He daunted those that would pursue
So none durst leave their cloe array,
For he was never far away.


The fighting was desperate for Bruce, at one point cut off from his allies he was fighting alone against a small lochan. A MacDougall man attempted to pull Bruce from his horse by grabbing his cloak. Bruce killed him but lost his cloak in so doing. The dead MacDougall was found later still grasping the cloak with Bruce’s brooch still attached. This brooch is still in the possession of the clan to his day.

Bruce and a handful of men escaped with their lives. His army was now non-existent and he fled to the caves and into the history books!
He hadn’t finished with the MacDougalls though and in 1308 at the Pass of Brander Bruce took bloody revenge against the MacDougalls. Once again with the Black Douglas by his side he completely destroyed the MacDougall’s and finally put an end to Scottish resistance to his claim to the throne.


 The Lochan of the Lost Sword

The place where Bruce’s darkest moment had come was named ‘Dail Righ’ or ‘The Kings Field’. Bruce had escaped by a hairs breadth (of maybe a brooch pin’s width). As Bruce had escaped he and many of his men threw any unwieldy heavy arms they had into a small lochan. Local legend has it that the king’s sword still lies beneath the surface. Whether its guarded by a ‘lady of the lake’ would be mere speculation." [taken from http://www.bletherskite.net/2012/05/02/the-battle-of-dalrigh-and-the-lost-sword-of-robert-the-bruce/]

Though a small legend, it still has tingles the imagination a little bit, doesn't it? It's hard to think a sword would remain just sitting at the bottom of a lochan for all these years, but perhaps if it was discovered by a peasant long ago, and is sitting in an attic somewhere, a forgotten family heriloom......

Dia duit,
~Penny

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dream Scribbles

I've been having these really vivid dreams lately for some reason. No idea why, but it happens every once in a while. The other day I dreamed of a Scottish/English fued set in Scotland in a time period somehwere between Dystopian and Sci-Fi. It had total story potential because a lot of the essential elements were in place, right down to a ticking time bomb (story device used to force a time restraint on the hero and raise the tension), a moral dillemma, and, of course, epic Scottish accents.

Last night I dreamed something on a slightly smaller scale, but it was still interesting. This time I decided to write it down, and just now I thought "hey, why don't I post it on my blog?" I'm a writer, after all. I really ought to post some of my writing.

So here it is. Since I was one of the characters in this dream, I wrote it in first person through my perspective. Feel free to comment on my writing style and such. I'm always open to critiques. ^.^


“King Arthur?
  He nodded, peering through the cracked shutter of the abandoned hovel. I moved next to him, catching a glimpse of the grey bearded king atop a steaming white charge.
  First villagers, and now a king. Had he done something more than just refuse to work under unfair conditions?
  “Why on Earth is he after you?”
  Benedict didn’t answer, and I dropped the matter. I could ask him later when we were either safely away, or sitting in the King’s dungeon with nothing else to do.
  I glanced at his face. His dark brows were lowered in a frown through which only a flicker of the pale green in his eyes showed through. Outside, the horses of the King’s guards snorted and nickered, but here inside the hovel, everything but the sound of our breathing was silent.
  Benedict’s gaze flicked to the door.
  He was tired of waiting. We’d been in here hiding for hours now, first from the villagers, and now….
  The king dismounted. He ordered his men to fan out and search the area. No doubt the villagers had told them which way we’d gone.
  We dropped down against the wall beneath the window. Thankfully, the door was still barred, with a little dirt that would need to be scraped away before it would open. We’d entered through an obscure hole at the back of the hovel. One which we’d also covered up. No one would guess we were in here unless they saw or heard us, and that was unlikely.
  I heard the King’s footsteps just outside the window, and watched his shadow obscure the sunlight peering in through the shutters. He stood there for a moment, and then—
  CRASH!
  I flinched, my heart racing. Splinters rained over our heads as the bulk of the shutters flew into the room. I covered my head with my hands, forcing myself to hold my breath. I could feel King Arthur peering into our hiding place, right over our heads…. Beside me, Benedict didn’t move, didn’t breathe, just like me.
  At last I heard the King’s footsteps leave.
  Then I got an idea.
  “There’s a dimension portal not far from here.” I breathed, barely a whisper, looking to the side at him.
  His eyes narrowed a fraction. “You want me to—“
  “It’s the only escape we have.” I said. “And we have to go now.”
   Only a moment slipped past before he nodded. A bang sounded at the door, making us both start violently.
  What?? Why was the King trying to get in, he must know there’s no way we used the front door!
  My gaze swept over the interior of the hovel. If we ran now, Arthur’s guards would hear us and give chase. There was no way we could reach the portal before they grabbed us.
  A pile of cloth caught my eye. I darted over to it on silent footsteps as the King landed another kick on the door. Bits of dirt from the ceiling broke loose and littered the air and floor. I snatched up the cloth. Old monk’s habits.
  God be praised!
  I didn’t bother to see how they smelled, or felt, or even looked, but instead threw one to Benedict, and pulled the other one on over my head. Glancing down, I was relieved to see my figure was fairly well obscured. Otherwise this plan would have failed before it started. There weren’t any female monks, as far as I could remember.
  Rummaging through the one remaining habit, I also located a blanket, and a bunch of shredded rags. I motioned for Benedict to go lay on the dusty palate in the corner. He hesitated. I walked over and grabbed his arm, pulling him over and giving him a push. This time he complied, as the door to the hovel caved, shattering into the interior in chunks of wood and dirt.
  “Follow along.” I whispered to Benedict as he laid still, and pulled the hood of his habit over enough to obscure his face.
  I straightened and turned. The King ducked inside. He paused a moment, no doubt getting used to the reduced lighting. I didn’t wait.
  “What is the meaning of this?” I made my voice as low as possible, praying he’d be convinced it sounded like a—
  The King reached forward and shoved back my hood.
  There goes that idea.
  On reflex, I slapped his hand away. He would arrest me, anyways, if he knew what was really going on, so what was one more felony?
  “Kindly keep your hands to yourself.” I snapped. “And please tell me why you find it necessary to crush your way into a person’s place of rest?”
  “Who are you?”
  “My name is Hannah.” The name just slipped out. “I’m resting here to take care of this monk here.”
  The King’s gaze shifted past me to where Benedict lay motionless on the palate. I noticed how Arthur was stooping slightly to be able to fit in here with the low ceiling, and realized how much taller he must be than me. Judging by the size of his frame, too, he was much, much stronger than I, as well. Pretty much everyone was. I was used to it.
  “In case you’re worried, he is actually a monk.” I said. I wondered if he could hear my heart pounding. I tensed my muscles to keep from trembling, even though I didn’t feel very scared at the moment. “I borrowed this habit because it’s warmer than the cloak I was wearing.”
  I suddenly wondered why he didn’t recognize me. Surely the villagers had given him a description.
  It doesn’t matter.
  With a disbelieving glance, the king stepped towards Benedict’s bed. I moved in front of him. “Please, sir, he is very ill. For both your health and his, I would rather you gave him his space.”
  At this the king hesitated. I raised a brow expectantly.
  Arthur moved to straighten, most likely something his kingship was used to doing when presented with rather short, impudent females such as myself, but the ceiling prevented him from going any higher.
  “Have you seen two fugitives go by here while you’ve been tending to your…..patient?”
  I frowned in feined thought. “Fugitives?”
  “Yes.” He eyed me. I began to feel uncomfortable. If he made for Benedict, there was really no way I could stop him…. “A man and a woman. They’re both wanted by royal decree.”
  Oh, how exciting.
  “I’m afraid, sir, I’ve been busy tending to my friend here.” I replied after a sufficient moment of thought. “But I do recall someone very distinctly and unceremoniously tramping over the roof of this house about….three house ago, I believe. I thought perhaps it was some village children, for the villagers came searching a little while later. They didn’t come near the hovel, however, and I was not inclined to solve their problems for them. I have enough of my own.”
  Ha.
 “Well, then…” The King’s gaze once again lingered over Benedict.
  I forced myself not to look over, as well, to check and make sure nothing about him would give us away. No part of his tunic showing, no part of his face….
  I heard Benedict moan. My heart skipped. I turned, and walked over to him. Thankfully, the king stayed put. When he did move, his footsteps went away instead of closer. I ‘helped ‘ Benedict sit propped in the corner, and handed him my discarded canteen of wine.
  I think he’d expected water, because he coughed after taking a sip, and I caught the sharp look he gave me under his hood. I gave him one that told him to quite belly aching and play the part. I left him cradling the canteen in his hands, huddled in the corner with the hood of the habit properly hiding his face. He still coughed at intervals. I couldn’t tell if it was faked.
  When I turned around, the king was sitting by the doorway with his own canteen and the medieval equivalent of a cold meat sandwich (which was really just a hunk of bread and a hunk of meat) on the edge of his cloak beside him.
  I blinked. “What are you doing?”
  “I’m sorry, I should offer to share my lunch.” He held up the bread.
  I blinked again.
  He isn’t buying it.
  I wanted very much to throw something at him. But of course, that wouldn’t help anything.
  “Sir,” I said. “This is the house of a sick man. I find your trespassing on his privacy an intolerable thing.”
  King Arthur stopped chewing. The silence between us drew out until I thought for sure he’d figured out who we were, and was about to pounce.
  Outside, a soldier called his name.
  I waited. My brow raised. Wrong thing to do, but I couldn’t help it. The king rose slowly, almost bumping his head again, and walked out of the hovel. I watched him walk a good distance away to where the soldier stood who’d called for him. Several more soldiers joined the group. I had forgotten to count how many there were to begin with, so I wasn’t sure if this was all of them, or if there were still a few out hunting for us.
  “Come on.”
  Benedict was up in an instant, stripping the habit off. I pulled mine off, as well.
  “But what about—“
  “It doesn’t matter. He’s not buying it.” I said, looking at him. “We’ve got to run. Now.”
  He set his jaw, and nodded.
  If we could slip out right now while the king was occupied, while most of the soldiers weren’t looking for us, we might make it.
  Benedict made me go through the narrow opening first. I pushed the uprooted bush out of the way, ignoring the dirt that fell over my face as I did so, and slipped out into the sunlight sprinkling through the treetops. Benedict wriggled through after me, less graceful for he was both taller and bigger than me. But at the moment grace was the last thing we cared about.
  With a furtive glance at the surrounding trees, a desperate prayer that the king’s talk would take more than five minutes, and a glance at Benedict, I rose silently. He met my gaze with determination hard in his jade colored eyes.
  Then we ran.

That's all I have. I woke up after that. Possibly I'll post some more Dream Scribbles later, or I may even take this story and lengthen it of my own accord, turn it into an ongoing blog series. On the other hand, I still have For the Greatest Good to discuss with Dana to see if we could possibly turn that into a series I post on here.We'll have to see. Siani really likes Benedict as a character.

Also, I would encourage any writers out there -- and even non-writers -- to consider writing down dreams. Not necessarily exactly as they were, but shaped to make as much sense in the real world as they did in your dream world. You'd be surprised how much inspiration one can get from a dream.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Music Post #6

Today's song has a dark, forboding entrance, that leads into a battle symphony reminiscent of a defiant struggle against evil.




Dia duit,
~Penny

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday Legend Post #5 -- OYAN

Alright, I know that this doesn't quite fit with the legend trend I've been adhering to thus far, but OYAN is a legend. Coming so soon after the Workshops, I feel it's fitting to dedicate an entire legend post to this truly amazing community of real live legends in the making.

OYAN stands for One Year Adventure Novel. It's a writing curriculum in which the student writes a full length adventure novel over the course of one school year.

"... guides students (grades 8-12) through the process of writing a structured, compelling adventure novel over the course of one school year. The program's unique approach to writing begins where many writing courses don't go at all, with an exploration of Story."

I can say without any hestiation at all that OYAN has not only changed my writing, it's changed my life. It is far, far more than just a writing curriculum.

But it's not just the writing curriculum, it's the OYAN community. The OYAN Forum has brought together brilliant teenage writers who have a passion for story, and a passion for God. And when I say brilliant teenage writers, I really mean brilliant. These teens can write better than some adults! And not just novels, but poems, songs, screenplays, and skits.

OYAN is legendary. The world may not know it yet, but it is.





Dia duit,
~Penny