Act I

  • 25 October, 456
  • Owain, son of Baron Edern, has returned. All eyes are riveted on him and Bradán, fully expecting a fight. Instead, however, Owain initially thinks that his sister, Addiena, has wed Bradán and this is the wedding feast. Once he is corrected, his initial opinion does not change terribly as he knows of Bradán’s reputation and would not be opposed to a man with such a reputation joining with his House.
  • Shifting tacks quickly, Owain reveals that he has been at Duke Cunedda’s court and has returned with a score of men as well as information on the location of a prominent Scoti (Irish) war camp some days away. He – Owain – means to march upon them and drive them from their shores to avenge all of their losses. To that end, he proposes that Bradán accompany, bringing with him his warband.
  • Baron Edern, Owain and Bradán remove themselves from the festivities to further discuss this (although Angus discreetly pursues so as to eavesdrop), and Bradán quickly proves himself to be far more capable in the area of planning a battle and, though it visibly irritates him somewhat, Owain defers to him.
  • While the planning is ongoing, the rest of the feast proceeds, albeit in a far more subdued manner and with all eyes turned toward the closed door where the discussions are ongoing. During this, Heddwyn is informed by Druid Adaryn that they must depart upon the morrow if they intend to reach Ynys Mon before Samhain, which means that Heddwyn will be unable to accompany the warband against the Scoti.
  • Outside, as Angus is eavesdropping, he becomes aware that a woman he does not recognize is watching him. She smiles and fades into the shadows.
  • A battle plan is made and the intent to march north-east at dawn is announced. There is much excitement, although the more experienced warriors present know that there will be casualties.
  • As Paulus is critically injured, he is to remain behind under the watchful eyes of Baron Edern’s household.

Act II

  • The following morning, the warband assembles in Bryn Euryn. It will taken them between four and five days to reach the Scoti, so provisions are taken for the march.
  • Meadhbh observes Owain speaking privately to his sister, Addiena, and, at first, the baron’s daughter seems terrified by her brother’s presence though that fades and is replaced by confusion, especially when Owain bows his head to her and retreats.
  • Baron Edern asks Druid Adaryn to read the omens but the older man hesitates before giving a cryptic (and easily perceived in any number of ways) prophecy: “these men ride to their fates and shall be brave in doing so.” The druid then hurries to get himself and young Heddwyn on the boat they are to take to Ynys Mon; briefly, Heddwyn sees his new mentor speak briefly with a woman he does not recognize. Being curious, the bard eavesdrop and overhears the woman tell Adaryn that the ‘Faceless King is stirring once more.” This greatly troubles the druid.
  • On the road, Bradán learns that Owain has spent the last year or so under the tutelage of The Duke – in fact, he never refers to Duke Cunedda in any other way than “The Duke” – and he (Owain) learned a great deal from the man. The Duke evidently put up with none of his childish antics, which made Owain realize how much of a fool he had been. He further asks Bradán point-blank, man-to-man, asshole-to-asshole, if Bradán means to use his (Owain’s) sister to achieve his goals. Because if that is the case, then they should fight to the death, right here and right now. Addiena has faced too much hardship already in her life and, for whatever reason, she seems to like Bradán. Without pausing, Bradán replies that no, he has no plans to use anyone; he is just looking out for his people.
  • Back in Bryn Euryn, Paulus’ fever dreams are black and terrible. He dreams of lands of shadow and pain, of oceans of blood and fire, and forests of the dead. His wounds pain him terribly and he dreams of walking through the broken land with Brother Maius, now mute and bloody, at his side until he comes to a man crucified upon a tree. That man is Bradán! The chance to abandon his liege lord is there, but Paulus refuses to do so and smites the Tree with his weapon, smashing it apart and freeing Bradán. Now, with two allies, he marches on, falling deeper into the dream.
  • Heddwyn and Druid Adaryn make remarkably good time to Ynys Mon and the bard is actually surprised at how easy it is to gain access to the island. When last he came here, he had to work at avoiding the Scoti pirates using the island as a base. Along the way, Adaryn quizzes him on what has lead to this moment and the many strange occurrences that have transpired only seem to trouble the druid further. Upon the island, Adaryn leads them toward the center of the island, which Heddwyn has never actually visited before because, as far as he knows, there’s nothing there. This time, however, as they descend down the hills and into the mist shrouding the hill bottoms, he senses … something. Or someone. Everything feels different. His skin itches, like it is too small for his body. He suddenly can’t see! Adaryn slams his staff upon the rock and suddenly, the top of glows! ‘Stand aside and allow us to pass, Vermithrax,’ he declares. ‘We are of the Order.’ Heddwyn hears raspy sounds, like snake scales upon the rock only at a much greater volume. His imagination conjures up images of an immense creature that could not possibly be as large as it sounds. He still can’t see anything past the shroud of mist, but he gets the feeling that whatever is out there does not like him. At all. The presence – and sounds – recede slightly and Adaryn shakes his head and continues forward. He then gives Heddwyn a look – suddenly, he seems like a terrifying foe. ‘Say nothing – nothing! – unless spoken to and even then, do your best to keep your teeth together. You walk in a place you should not have seen for another twenty years.’ He says nothing more until they reach a ring of standing stones where several druids are already standing. Heddwyn knows the druids by appearance only. They know him as well – he completed his bard’s ordeal only a year past – but Adaryn advises them all that he comes with news from Bryn Euryn. Spring has spoken to him: the Faceless King stirs in his silent grave. The druids grow worried and then agree that they must use the tools at their disposal. All of them – all of them – suddenly stare hard at Heddwyn. He’s never felt more judged than right now. ‘A Test, then,’ one of the druids says and Heddwyn can hear the Capital Letters. ‘A Test to see if he has the capability to survive what is to come.’ They part, revealing a set of stairs in the middle of the ring that leads down. There are twelve stones and, Heddwyn realizes, twelve druids present. Each man steps back to stand before one of the stones, drawing their hoods up as they do, and each stone sort of lights up. None of them say a word, instead staring at him from under their hoods. The implication is clear: he is to descend the stairs. And so, he does.
  • The warband finds the Scoti encamped and mostly unprepared for their attack. Bradán decides upon a two-pronged assault: he and most of the warband will assault the Scoti from the south, drawing their attention and holding it while Owain leads an amphibious assault using the boats taken from Bryn Euryn so both forces will crush the raiders completely. It is a bold plan but works exceptionally well: the Scoti reel back under the assault as Bradán’s warband surges forward. Victory is within their grasp…
  • Accompanied by a bloodied and maimed retinue, Paulus falls ever deeper into his dream, crossing the breadth of this almost Prydain with a matter of steps until he reaches a Caer Tarian that never existed in the real world. The walls are impossibly high, wrought of gold and smoky dreams, and faceless warriors stand at the ramparts. He proceeds in, entering a Cathedral that does not seem out of place in this dream. A great altar is before him and laid out upon that altar, dressed in Roman finery and wearing a laurel victory wreath is Marcus. His clothes are soaked crimson. Standing watch over her brother’s body is Meadhbh and she is somehow dressed simultaneously as a warrior and a nun. A stark black habit conceals her hair but heavy mail glints brightly. In her hands is an impossibly large sword with a blade wrought of water … or perhaps liquid silver. When she looks at him, her eyes gleam gold, like those of the massive wolf at her side. It is not Marcus’ dog, though Paulus took it to be at first, and this fierce beast watches you with a soundless snarl. “I have taken up my brother’s watch,” Meadhbh announces in a voice not her own. Her expression contorts to one of rage then relaxes to sorrow. Confusion reigns at her next remarks and Paulus receives her sword of water before offering it to Bradán. And then, everything changes…


  • Heddwyn proceeds down the stairs. It gets darker and darker and darker, and underfoot, the ground begins to feel strange. His head starts to swim, like he’s held his breath for too long. Light suddenly floods the chamber,’ briefly blinding him. When he recovers, he realizes that he’s standing upon … it sincerely looks like he’s standing upon a cloud! Looking down is dizzying but he sees Prydain like he never has before. Birds wheel around his head – crows and eagles and owls – not quite battling but neither are they entirely content with the other’s presence. They all wing-over and dive toward the ground before circling an area along the northern Welsh coast. It occurs to him that this is roughly where the Irish camp is that the warband was intended to hit. His head begins to ache and pound like it never has before, and he feels … something inside … tear. Heddwyn goes to one knee and tastes blood, even as he discovers himself overlooking the battlefield and realizing that another force is advancing! And they’re Roman.
  • The Scoti break before the warband rout. For a moment, there is a great clamor of excitement as the Welsh see their enemy flee like cowards … but with a thunder of hooves, a Roman cavalry force rumbles into the field of battle. At their head is Marcus’ hated enemy, Quintus Severus, and the cavalry surges forward, slamming into the warband with a terrific crash! Marcus, caught off-balance and slightly apart from the rest of the band, is singled out by the Romans and they ride him down, sending him tumbling into the dirt, critically injured. Severus dismounts and drags his foe to a nearby ring of standing stones that are perched on the lip of the cliff. It is a prominent vantage point so all will be able to see Marcus’ inevitable death. His family pushes hard in an attempt to break through the Roman lines and rescue him, but they are repulsed.
  • In Paulus’ dream, he finds himself facing a faceless king upon a throne that looms into the sky. When this Presence demands his obedience, Paulus prostrates himself before what he perceives as the Almighty. He agrees to gladly serve as a Herald for the King to which he feels the King hurl fire toward him. Paulus wakes suddenly, his injuries healed and newfound power coursing through his body. Thinking this a miracle, he prays and in his eagerness, he fails to notice that he now has two shadows…
  • Blood is leaking from Heddwyn’s nose, his eyes, his ears. His heartbeat is thunder in his ears. Staring down from his cloud, he bends his will toward affecting the outcome of the battle. He must save them from the Romans! He feels something … shift around him, tastes the sharpness of the air. Lightning roars down from above him, stabbing through him and onto the ground below. He cries out in pain and darkness swallows him.
  • Quintus Severus holds up his sword, preparing to put Marcus to death, and there is nothing his family can do to stop it, not with the Roman warriors holding the line. Suddenly, stormclouds roll in, instantly turning the day to night. Thunder booms. The battle hits a lull as everyone stares at the sky in surprise and fear. Jagged bolts of lightning streak out of the sky, exploding clusters of Romans. Horses scream in terror and flee. Chaos erupts. More lightning stabs downward, enveloping the standing stones within which Marcus and Quintus Severus kneel. The stones flare brightly … and then explode. The shockwave throws men and beast to the ground and utterly obliterates the outcropping where the two men were. The surviving Romans flee, leaving behind their dead and wounded. The battle is won, but at a terrible cost. The warband searches but can find no trace of Marcus or his enemy – it would seem that the lightning destroyed them both utterly, which grieves Bradán and Meadhbh as now they have lost another member of their family. They spend some time looting the fallen and then set out to return back to Bryn Euryn…
  • Heddwyn wakes in a small camp with Adaryn sitting next to him. The older druid looks troubled again. He is surprised that Heddwyn still breathes and Adaryn tells him that what he did … none of them thought that was possible. The amount of raw power Heddwyn bent to his will is frankly intimidating. He knows of only one other man … if he can be called that … who accomplished this task. Good news: Heddwyn will live. Bad news: Vermithrax was freed. That old beast fled but … Adaryn doubts this is the last they’ve heard of it. When asked what happened, Adaryn sighs and relates that Samhain is when the borders between the Otherworld – what the fae call the Nevernever – and mortal world are at its weakest.  The place Heddwyn went … that was the Otherworld, or the Nevernever. It is a special place that only a small number of people can even access but there, he opened himself up to the energies of the very earth. And somehow, he shaped it to his will. Adaryn offers to instruct him. There are many dangers to being able to do what Heddwyn can right now and now is a dangerous time for him. He is untrained and will be tempted by the Dark Side … wait…He will be tempted by the Left-Hand Path…


  • There is a final, cinematic cutscene for the season. Setting: a rocky coast, an unspecified amount of time later. A battered, burned, barely alive body has washed up to the shore. Overhead, crows circle. As one, they descend, coalesce, melt into a fierce-looking barbarian woman hefting a spear. She toes over the body – we don’t see who it is – and smiles maliciously as her eyes go completely black..


GM Notes:

  • Originally, I was going to have Owain be a complete d-bag who promptly challenged Bradán to a duel to the death, but I changed my mind and decided to try something else.
  • Paulus’ player was absent during this session so we did most of his stuff on our boards, although it did not quite turn out as expected. Midway through it, Paulus’ player realized he was thinking like a Gamer and not a 5th Century priest, who would be a great deal more likely to swallow whatever was happening to him.
  • The battle here played out in two distinct ways: against the Irish, the warband kicked ass, but then the Romans got involved and things went to crap in terms of die rolling.
  • All of the players were aware that Marcus didn’t die, but to their credit, the characters acted accordingly.
  • Season 2 will begin after the winter has passed (so, mid-March, 457.)