The Warband

Bradán ap Cadell (Ronnke)
Meadhbh verch Cadell (Melissa)
Marcus and Echo (CommJunkee)
Heddwyn ap Idris (Gigermann)
Aedán ap Dewar (Winston)
Simple Angus (Herodian)
Gwion ap Enfrys (Andricus)

Act I: Wedding Day Blues

  • 24 April, 457 Anno Domini Nostri Iesu. Winter has finally begun to end, but Spring is a meager thing. Thankfully, the snow has fully melted, although there are still scattered pockets of ice in certain places.
  • The druids of Rhos have been gone for much of the last six weeks, with the citizens of the cantref being aware that they have departed to arrange a marriage for the chief, although none are aware of exactly where the druids have gone.
  • Áedán has been very busy. Chief Owain is very pleased with the torcs and has, by now, handed them out to the warriors and nobles who participated in the Battle of Blood Bridge. His pleasure with this has led him to commission Áedán to make a special torc of silver for his planned bride. He does not have specifics, like the size of her neck or what she will look like, but after having seen the beauty that resulted from the other torcs that Áedán made, he wants something glorious. The first step Áedán must consider is obtaining silver ore, though thankfully, Marcus has access to that – after some quick discussion, they reach an arrangement where Áedán will craft arms and armor for the new lord in exchange for armor. Obsessed with doing as good a job as possible, Áedán spends extra time to ensure as beautiful a torc as possible … and he’s very successful.
  • At the same time, Angus is on the trail of an enemy agent, having been pointed toward him by his little birds. He is hoping to follow this man and hopefully identify additional threats. The trail continues south, angling away from Caerhun and by midday, he finds the tracks converge with two others near a distinctive-looking tree. He spends some time searching, ultimately locating a sealed scroll tube in a hidden hole; reviewing the contents show a coded missive that will require some time to decipher. All three tracks suddenly angle sharply toward Caerhun together and Angus realizes that it appears they are running. As he follows these tracks into the woods, Angus realizes one of them abruptly disappears! He searches around and discovers that it appears this man was nabbed by someone from above; there are signs of a struggle in the trees, with broken limbs and disturbed snow/ice, but there is no sign of a body. Further along, a second person’s tracks vanish, and Angus again finds indications that he was snatched from above. And just within visual sight of Caerhun, the third person’s tracks disappear. As before, appears that something snatched this person from above. He spends some time searching for further tracks, but finds none, though he does smell blood and death; tracking this leads him to climb a tree where he discovers three corpses, hanging from their feet and thoroughly stripped of all flesh so only muscle is showing. At about this point, Angus gets the feeling that he’s being watched by someone … or something malicious. His danger sense is not quite tingling, but he’s definitely aware that he is in a heightened sense of threat. He looks around and, for a moment, believes he sees … something moving in the woods. There is a brief flash of glowing eyes and then … nothing. Further searching uncovers nothing. Angus cuts the men down, then returns to Caerhun, intent on discussing this weirdness withHeddwyn once the bard returns.
  • Bradán has been concentrating on retraining his warband to remove their impetuous nature as well as spending time on “toughening up” Addiena by enlisting his sister’s aid. In the course of this, thanks to Meadhbh, he’s learned that his bad temper kind of bothers Addiena a bit (which he can sort of gather is due to her brother’s similar issues controlling himself.) He has also started to hear a lot of whispers claiming the battle at the Bridge of Blood was only successful because of Lord Marcus Shield-Breaker and Lord Hywel the Fierce, and not due to any generalship by Bradán, which is a persistent irritation to him. As lord, the biggest issue to attend to during this time is the matter of an angry travelling merchant who blames Lord Bradán for not policing their land suitably, as he was attacked by bandits whilst travelling through. He demands reparation and an assurance that this will never happen again, or else he will not only cease coming to Caerhun, he will foreclose on any properties he owns here – and he has several. Bradán is irritated at the man’s impertinence but realizes that treating the merchant poorly will likely backfire upon the cantref proper so instead, he focuses on how to resolve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. Surprising many with his composure, he engages the merchant in negotiations, agreeing to pay a portion of the amount being demanded up front, then the rest at a later date provided the merchant instead opts to assist them in growing the local economy. If he is especially successful, Bradán is even willing to throw in a little extra and, as for the bandits? Well, Morgan quickly volunteers to lead the warband against them and bring back their heads. This news is greeted with great approval.
  • While this is going on, Gwion is present in Caerhun to deliver a message from Lord Marcus. He encounters Isibel verch Neill, a widow he recalls from Vertis who, like many young men his age, was often the source of many fantasies. She is surprised to see him here, having thought he perished with his family and that ‘arsehole’ of a father. They converse briefly – she admits she is here to speak with Lady Meadhbh about training – and when she learns that he has been effectively adopted into Lord Bradán’s household, Isibel comments that doing so is the least the lord could do, considering how Lord Caddell cuckholded Gwion’s father. This comes as a surprise to the archer and he all but drags Isibel to speak to Bradán about this, much to her confusion and concern. The news is also news to the lord, though he now recognizes certain features in Gwion, and dismisses Isibel after hearing her tale – she gladly flees, worried that he’s going to be angry at her – before taking Gwion with him to seek out someone who might know more about this.
  • Having only recently returned to Caerhun from abroad, Heddwyn is with his wife, Siobhan, now only days or weeks away from giving birth. The bard has already spent time in Bryn Euryn, advising Chief Owain of the results of the marriage discussions, and is now simply trying to relax before the next wave of crazy hits. He is also attempting to determine the best way to prepare Siobhan for Brigid’s uncanny resemblance to her late sister when Bradán and Gwion enter, rambling on about noses being the same. It takes a little longer than he would like, but Heddwyn finally gets the story out and deciphers the meaning; in his attempt to sound all-knowing and arcane, though, he makes it seem as if this is all old news to him and not something that he found especially important. Bradán storms out, pausing as he encounters Meadhbh (who is coming to visit Heddwyn to arrange a ceremony for her handfasting with Morgan). ‘Say hello to your half-brother,” Bradán grumbles with a gesture toward Gwion before continuing on his way, intent on seeking out something to drink.
  • Although surprised at this turn of events, Meadhbh presses on, requesting Heddwyn to conduct the ceremony. Despite being forewarned by this turn of events by his wife, the bard is at least momentarily dismayed at the subject of his long crush wedding another, though he conceals this behind a mask of happiness before agreeing to conduct the ceremony this very night, under the full moon. There, he casts the omens – the moon rises through Cancer and, come ceremony time, is obscured by an ill-looking cloud – which he does not perceive as good. Rather than reveal to the visibly happy couple that one of them is Doomed, he concentrates on accentuating the positive. He watches them depart, sad for them both, noting that Isibel verch Neill has joined Meadhbh’s school for wayward spear-sisters.
  • Meanwhile, on the other side of the cantref, Marcus has thrown himself wholeheartedly into rebuilding his farm and turning it into something better. Having discovered an untapped silver vein (thanks to Áedán) has been very helpful in that regard and he has already started recruiting lowborn young men for his warband, a thing not normally done in the Celtic world so his green recruits are looked at with mild contempt. As he is mostly handling the retraining of his brother’s force, Marcus is also using them to teach his recruits the rudiments of battle which has the added bonus of teaching the older veterans patience, something they sorely lack. Regarding the impending marriage, he is peripherally aware of it but getting everything settled with the manor has required more hours than are in the day so he’s barely paid it any mind.
  • Several days later, the day of the wedding dawns, with Princess Brigid arriving along with Bruinn the Red to serve as a protector and Pádraig to conduct the Christian ceremony; as many of the locals are not that exposed to Christianity, there is a considerable crowd present to witness it. Marcus is the only member of the Family not present at the moment, having been delayed by bandit activity near his lands (although this turns out to be just a rumor.) He arrives just as Pádraig is finishing his most excellent ceremony and witnesses the priest declaring Owain and Brigid to be husband and wife.
  • And then, when the new couple turn to face the assembled crowd, Marcus realizes just who his new lord has wed…

Act II: A Royal Summons

  • To say that Marcus is stunned would be an exaggeration and he all but flees. His flight is noticed by Heddwyn who finally pieces together everything; the bard pursues and when he finally corners his cousin, Marcus explodes with rage at the would-be druid. This is his fault! He knew and said nothing, did nothing! Heddwyn does not bother trying to point out that he did not know that Marcus had even known Brigid, recognizing that this is just his cousin’s pain needing an outlet. Instead, he simply stands there and lets Marcus rage. As Heddwyn states, he had the riddle … but not the solution.
  • Others note Marcus’ departure but are generally more weirded out by Brigid’s similarity to the dead Caitlin and did see Heddwyn go after him, so they concentrate on the feast. Chief Owain quizzes Pádraig about Christian beliefs – clearly, the missionary’s words affected him in some way – then recalls his duties as host and returns to them, handing out gifts as appropriate. When Marcus does return and begins drinking heavily, the chief does not notice like he should, though others do, especially Bradán who is briefly surprised when his brother reacts badly to his teasing instead of just ignoring it.
  • During this wedding feast, a rider appears. He is carrying the symbol of King Cunedda and when recognized, declares loudly that all nobles of Gwynedd are summoned to Caer Legion by the king and all are ordered to make haste. No noble is allowed more than two warriors to accompany him The messenger further declares that the King has declared an end to all hostilities between all cantrefs. No lord or captain or warrior may raid another. Any man who does so shall be named Traitor and Outlaw, and the King himself shall personally see that such a man is fed to swine. It is a Grand Council, then! Momentous decisions are about to be made! Owain orders the man to join the feast and that they will set out upon the morrow, since it will take the rest of the day to prepare for the journey.
  • Owain decides to take Brigid with them, which prompts Siobhan to advise Heddwyn that she is also going. The bard quickly seeks out a midwife, having heard chirping baby birds that morning and having found a broken egg that one shall be needed. Multiple wagons are going to be required as well, especially as Áedán gathers his wares with the intent of selling them in an actual city. Bruinn the Red seeks out the one Welshman he actually knows – Heddwyn – and quickly attempts to worm his way onto this expedition; the bard recommends the man going as the princess’ bodyguard which appeals to the burly warrior with the manly bear. The other Irishmen will escort Padraig back to Eire so he can continue do God’s work.
  • The following morning, the expedition sets out with many of the feast attendees still suffering from terrible hangovers. Marcus has fallen into a sullen mood, snapping at anyone who attempts to speak with him, even his family as Meadhbh learns when she tries to discern what her brother’s problem is.
  • Taking the old Roman road takes them into Tegeingl cantref and toward Prestatyn. Along the way, they find Tegeingl warriors monitoring their progress and there is a great deal of tension as everyone fears a sudden raid. With each noble having only two warriors (or none at all in a few cases), this means the entire force is in the two dozen or more number. Best estimates give them six days to reach Prestatyn.
  • On the fifth day, Siobhan goes into labor and the midwife cannot be found! Conveniently, Princess Brigid has some experience in this area, so she shoves aside any well-meaning but clearly ignorant morons who know nothing about birthing a child. Not to mention, it is a commonly known fact that it is bad luck for a man to be present when children are born, even if they’re the father. She pulls Meadhbh in to assist and is almost imperious with her orders: “You! Wash hands! Need hot water! NOW!”
  • After some time, the child is born … and it is a girl. Siobhan immediately wishes to name her Caitlin after her late sister, but is just as surprised as Heddwyn when Princess Brigid announces that the second child is now on the way. There is more pained cries – to the warriors, this is horrifying sounding, which is amusing considering how often they deal with blood and violence and death – and finally, a son is born. This confuses the hell out of Heddwyn based on his readings of the omens; he did not expect two children! Twins are seens as a very good omen, though, and word very quickly spreads – there is much back-slapping and congratulations offered to the young Ollave.
  • Brigid informs Owain that the new mother should not move from here for at least two days, which neither he nor many of the nobles are pleased with. Heddwyn volunteers to remain behind for a bit, then catch up once his wife has recovered, and Owain agrees before asking for volunteers to stay with the new parents. Lord Idnerth promptly volunteers his warriors and Meadhbh declares that she also will stay behind. Marcus continues to stand apart in sullen silences and does not offer his own men.

GM Notes:

  • Time management problems on my end – I front-loaded a whole lot predicated on my desire to ensure that all PCs had something to do. As a result, I did not get as far along in my notes as expected, but overall, that is helpful for me as it gives me more time to make my intent for the Great Council to work better.
  • Still need to work on descriptions better – several mistakes transpired because of my lack of clarity, especially with regard to Angus’ encounter which was supposed to be kind of creepier than it was.
  • Have been making an active attempt to ensure all PCs are more involved with mostly positive results. Would like to have more for Aedan than just making stuff, but working with what I’ve got thus far.
  • Amusing that when I originally started on my notes, I thought I was being clever with Siobhan tagging along, but the moment I read the notes for game time, I knew it was obvious my plan. Not sure why I did not even consider PCs bringing their own midwife along. Derp.
  • Was surprised at how quickly the revelation regarding Gwion’s parentage happened – was actually expecting to drag that out for a while. This works, though, as it means Gwion should have a reason to become proactive in order to improve his status in life.
  • Kudos to Marcus’ player for his character’s meltdown following the marriage. Was very cool.
  • Regarding the marriage, Padraig rolled a critical success with his Public Speaking check, so we figured that would result in some new converts. Using the Rules of Drama™, one of those converts has to be Owain since not only will it irritate some of his nobles, but it means he will have a built in reason to visit Marcus more so as to discuss Christianity while conveniently bringing his wife, Brigid, along.