I-6: Legend of the Mornellys- Chapter Seven
In which it is decided it’s time to tell the sheriff about the highwaymen, since they haven’t done that yet
It was decided that Sean needed to be the one to tell the sheriff of the small village about the highwaymen. Bran insisted that, since Sean was the only one who belonged in this area, he needed to be the one who told the law about what happened.
“They may not believe six strangers,” Aichear had added. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Besides, we kinda look like highwaymen ourselves.” Ciarán had gestured to the overcoats they’d donned and the hats they’d acquired. “I wouldn’t trust myself.”
Now, Breandan, Aileen, Damhán and Bran waited around a tiny hotel, loafing around the porch while Sean went on to the Sheriff’s place and Aichear and Ciarán went in to rent a room. A soft rain had begun to fall, the kind that isn’t deadly but drives you insane from its chill.
Breandan sat in a chair, chewing a stick of gum he’d found in his pocket. He mulled over the conversation they’d had with Sean, wondering if there was anything he could have said, anything he could have done, to show him he was the same Breandan.
Aichear had been the one to answer Sean’s question. Without skipping a beat, he’d asked what Sean was talking about, as if Sean was the one that was totally losing it instead of them being the ones who’d just crashed in on his reality. Breandan had wanted to say something, but Aichear sent him a warning glance.
It wasn’t until the walk over to the village that Breandan had managed to fall back enough to ask his older brother his reasons for not telling the boy everything.
“Which is kinder, Breandan- to let him think he’s hallucinating or let him realize he’s turned his back on a friend he doesn’t believe exists?” Aichear gazed at him solemnly. “We can’t stop them from growing up. Why cause them pain that they have?”
It was a simple answer, but oh, so painfully true. They were cursed to live the rest of their lives as immortals, never to age or live the life of a normal man again. Except for the occasional time warp, children were their only link between the real world and the fourth dimension.
But children grow up. Breandan shifted around in his seat and sighed. They grow up and become adults.
It was very rare for an adult to retain his ability to See what he thought to be “his imaginary characters.” Often, though, those that did keep the ability came to understand what the Mornellys truly were. Sad, lonely siblings who just wanted to do some good in an awfully bad world. Brothers- and one sister- who were the only friends of isolated, hurt children. Guardians for those who needed protecting.
But mostly lonely. They just wanted to be with other people.
“Breandan, you look very sad.”
Breandan glanced at his side. Aileen stared into his face thoughtfully. He tried to smile, but he didn’t really feel much like smiling.
“I’m sorry about Sean,” she said softly. “I know it’s hard that he’s not one who Sees.”
He patted her on the head. “It’s alright. We’re used to this, right?”
“It doesn’t make it hurt any less, though.”
Out of the mouths of children. For a ten-year-old, Aileen could be very perceptive.
“No, it doesn’t,” Breandan agreed. He took her little hand in his and squeezed it, smiling a real smile. “But we have to learn to accept it.”
“What are you two talkin’ about?”
Damhán wandered over to where they were and leaned against the porch railing. He was wearing a black trench coat and a fedora-styled hat, giving him a very menacing look. Ciarán was right- they did kind of look like highwaymen. Maybe that’s why everyone in this tiny town is avoiding us.
“Stuff,” Aileen replied evasively.
It was well known amongst the siblings that Damhán had no room for “sissy emotional stuff” and claimed that losing his kids’ friendships didn’t bother him. Breandan could tell Aileen didn’t want to get into an argument at the moment.
“What kind of stuff?” Damhán prodded.
“What kind of things?”
Damhán rolled his eyes. “Very funny, Aileen. Seriously. You two look so gloomy, almost like Ciarán.”
“I doubt that’s possible,” Bran called from across the porch.
“That’s why I said almost,” Damhán shot back. He turned to Breandan and eyed him. “You upset about your charge?”
“Regretful, mostly,” Breandan replied honestly.
“It shouldn’t be a big deal. We’re used to this, aren’t we?”
“You could be nice,” Aileen muttered. “We just got thrown into the third dimension where Breandan’s charge is and he thinks he’s insane to see Breandan. He doesn’t believe in him at all. Wouldn’t that hurt your feelings if you guarded someone for thirteen years and then he doesn’t even remember you two years later?”
“Stop lecturing me. You’re seven years younger than me.”
Aileen turned back to Breandan, her eyes narrowed and her teeth clenched. “He’s so dumb.”
“I heard that!”
“You were supposed to.”
“Okay, that’s it. Mud puddle time!”
Aileen’s eyes widened. Breandan chuckled. “Better run,” he told her.
She got about five steps before Damhán caught her around the middle and picked her up with ease, heading into the street where a large puddle from the drizzling rain was being added to.
“No, no, no!” Aileen screeched. “No, I don’t want to get dirty!”
Breandan sat back in his chair and watched, a small smile crossing his face. “Should we help her, Bran?”
“Ehhh…” Bran watched their youngest brother get pelted by Aileen’s feet as she kicked and squirmed. “I don’t know… this might be interesting.”
“She didn’t really do anything to deserve it this time,” Breandan remarked. “Damhán wasn’t exactly being the nicest. Little sister was defending me.”
“Hmmm… well, is that reason enough for us to come to her rescue?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.”
Aileen managed to slip out of Damhán’s arms and tried to make a dash for it, but he grabbed her again, struggling to keep his grasp on her.
“No! Bran! Breandan! Help me!” Aileen yelled.
“We’re indecisive,” Bran called back.
“There’s no one to save you now!” Damhán shouted, doing an evil bad guy laugh. “Wahaha!”
Out of nowhere a figure in a blue overcoat stomped from the hotel and across the porch, causing Breandan and Bran to jump. Aichear trudged through the mud and into the direction of the youngest Mornelly male, a determined look on his face.
“Aichear! Save me!” Aileen shot her hands out to him dramatically.
“Awww, Aichear, seriously?” Damhán groaned, catching sight of his oldest brother. “Let us have our fun!”
“I’m not having fun!”
Aichear walked straight up to Damhán and took their little sister from his arms. Aileen clang to Aichear’s neck, holding on for dear life.
“Well, we might be in trouble now…” Breandan murmured.
They turned to see Ciarán leaning against the door frame.
“Come to watch the show, brother?” Bran asked.
“I’m here to listen to the reprimand,” Ciarán answered.
Aichear returned, holding Aileen in his arms and Damhán trailing behind. He shot a look of disapproval at Bran, completely ignoring Breandan.
“I would have expected a little more cooperation from you two in the liberation of our little sister,” he stated.
“We couldn’t decide if it was worth our time or not.” Breandan couldn’t help but grin.
Damhán laughed. “That’s right, big bro.” He punched Aichear lightly in the shoulder. “I had the approval of the masses. Isn’t that how the American government works, anyways?”
“Not in the case of torturing your younger sister.”
“Breandan!” Aileen whined. “Why didn’t you help me? I was being nice to you, too.”
“Sorry, sis. It was too much fun to pass up.”
Aichear set Aileen down, taking her hand. He nodded to a bar down the road. “I have been informed the eatery is located in that tavern,” he told them. “I’m not in favor of mixing in such a crowd, but we must eat something and Sean is taking a great deal longer than I estimated he would.”
“Yeah. I wonder what’s up. Should we go and see what’s taking him so long?” Breandan mused.
Aichear shrugged. “If you wish. Your call.”
“I guess I’ll meet you down there.” Breandan stood up. As he walked past Aileen, he tugged a strand of her light brown hair. “I’ll rescue you next time.”
“You owe me,” she said crossly, though Breandan could tell she was trying to keep a smile back.
Breandan strode down the small village street, taking his time to get to the end. He wasn’t too eager to walk in and have to explain who he was. In a small Irish village like this, everyone knew everyone, and a stranger would be regarded with suspicion.
Breandan was a bit surprised to see several horses tied up outside of the Sheriff’s place. He wondered if there was something going on, then realized that probably a couple other countrymen had run into Maine and his men. He grinned at the thought of the beating they’d given the group of thugs. Probably they aren’t feeling too good right now.
Breandan approached the steps to the building, patting one of the horses on the rump as he passed to let the beast know he was there. He trailed his hand towards the saddle and was about to step onto the porch- when he stopped and stared at the sword in scabbard, hanging from the saddle. That… no, I thought…
That was Maine’s sword. Maine had swung it at him enough times earlier that he recognized the intricate lion head carved into the handle.
Breandan’s first thought was why they hadn’t thought to separate the highwaymen from their swords. His second was why Maine was here at the Sheriff’s office.
Caution overcame him. He passed the horses once more and went around the building towards a window, stealthily positioning himself under it to hear what was going on inside. Maine may have decided to deal with the Sheriff early on, he thought grimly. Sean said he’d never seen the men before, therefore the Sheriff probably hasn’t either and wouldn’t know they were the very men he should be arresting.
Sean and the Sheriff were in danger.
Voices. He could hear Maine’s voice over the other, loudly arguing.
“Let me do away with the boy,” he was saying. Breandan tightened his fists. “He’s been nothin’ but trouble to me all day. I’ve got a place I want to throw him off of. Surely ye can see the logic in that- no one else in this forsaken town knows who I am. That boy- he does. He heard it all. I can’t have him ruinin’ my cover and bringin’ the law on my back.”
“Do that, Maine, and I’ll be called out to search for the boy. Ye six, as the only strangers in town, will be under instant suspicion.”
Breandan froze. That second voice- he hadn’t heard it before amongst Maine’s group. In fact, the voice sounded an awful lot like Maine. I need to get a look in there.
“There are five other men in town as well,” Maine snapped. “If we stay out of sight, they’ll be the ones to blame. I have a bone to pick with those men. They blasted through us with dirty tricks and fists, actin’ like a bunch of cowards and never givin’ us a chance to fight back. I’ll show them. I could use a little sword practice.”
Breandan slowly stood up, peeking through the window to see what they had up against them. He caught sight of Sean, sullenly sitting behind bars with his arms crossed. Wait, why is Sean behind bars? This didn’t make any sense!
“I’m not comfortable with ye killin’ the boy.”
Breandan stole his gaze in the direction of the voice- and sucked in a breath. Oh, boy.
“I’m the sheriff of this town,” the Sheriff was saying, standing across from Maine with his hands on his hips, “and I’m yer older brother. Listen to me fer once and take some advice- don’t kill the lad, he’s no worth to ye dead. I’m sure there somewhere ye can sell him- a ship, perhaps- where ye can get an extra pound or two. Then hightail it out of my town before I’m forced to play the part of sheriff and bring ye in. I don’t want to get mixed in whatever you’ve done in Dublin.”
Breandan pushed away from the window and headed straight for the tavern. He lost no time locating his siblings, for the few drunks that were in the pub were crowded far away from them. Breandan made a beeline for Aichear, tapping him on the shoulder. Aichear turned to face him, took one look at his face, and frowned.
“We’ve got trouble, Aichear. The sheriff’s working with the highwaymen. Sean’s in danger.”
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