King Diwarnach has transformed into a hideous monster! He roars as he completes his change into this … thing. At the same time, Heddwyn continues racing around the amphitheater thing, slicing his knife through the bars of the cages containing the imprisoned fae. Bradán, upon seeing a chance while the creature changes, calls out for an immediate withdrawal; they have what they came for. He is at least a little irritated that Heddwyn seems so intent on freeing the captured people who, in Bradán’s opinion, are not the priority!
Suddenly, a newcomer appears, accompanied by Eolande. This man strides toward the demon, calling out to him, and all of the PCs see the beast visibly recoil. As this newcomer strides onto the super-heated floor, it freezes underneath him! He speaks, in a voice that could freeze the sun, and states, ’Your host dared touch my daughter! I would have … words with him.’ Abruptly, it begins to rain, which kicks up a geyser of steam, blocking whatever happens from site. The beast begins screaming … but it soon becomes that of a man screaming in horrible agony. The newcomer speaks again: ‘You wished immortality, King of Nothing, and I shall grant it to you. Live forever, trapped in a nightmare of your making. Eternity is yours.’ When the steam finally abates, King Diwarnach has been transformed into a statue showing the extent of his pain.
By this point, the PCs have retreated to where Gwion fell and are attending to their injured. Angus was overcome by his wounds during the short trip and has lapsed into unconsciousness, which means they now have three insensate people and all three are critically injured; Chief Owain is worse, having lost an eye and a hand (the latter by Bradán) but most importantly, he has been castrated. All of the wounded need better medical treatment than the PCs are capable of doing.
The strange man and his now rescued subjects have approached and are watching the PCs carefully which causes Bradán and Marcus to scramble to their feet and draw their weapons, fully expecting that they’re about to die. Heddwyn advances however and urges them to stay where they are and for God’s sake, don’t say anything! Once again, Bradán is angry at his cousin’s refusal to heed his orders to fall in line, but Heddwyn ignores this as he approaches the strange man and introduces himself. He identifies the other PCs by name and pronounces Bradán as their leader but accidentally forgets to identify Owain, due no doubt to his recognition of the very real danger they are still in with these Fae. The man acknowledges their identities – he knows of them – then tells Heddwyn that the ollave rescued the man’s daughter and thus, he owes a Debt. Thinking quickly, Heddwyn asks that he and his companions be returned to their lands in good health; too late, he realizes the open-ended nature of this request and that he failed to include Chief Owain in this request. The stranger gestures and suddenly, a door is present! All eyes briefly turn to it and when they look back, the stranger and his small court are gone!
Stepping through the doorway takes the PCs back to Ynys Môn and that strange cave which they entered earlier and ended up in the desert. Both Angus and Meadhbh are in much greater condition than before – their injuries are now simply old scars – but Chief Owain is still as critically injured as before. The decision is quickly made to head back to the boat they’d discovered and use it to reach Caer Segeint in the hopes that a healer might be found. They rig up a stretch using available materials, and during this time, Angus and Meadhbh regain consciousness. Both are confused as to what just happened and where their wounds went but do not question their good fortune. Meadhbh, however, feels like she is missing something … she just can’t put her finger on exactly what it is she’s missing.
The Real World
Upon retracing their steps to the currach, the PCs pile into it. Angus, Gwion and Heddwyn all note that there appears to be a great deal more detritus present than should be and a terrible theory begins to worm its way through Heddwyn’s brain, though he keeps it to himself for the time being. Marcus displays surprising capability as a sailor and is able to handle the boat well enough for them to reach Caer Segeint.
At Heddwyn’s recommendation, they seek out a church and find it easily enough, although the head priest is in the process of closing the doors for the night as they arrive, what with the sun beginning to go down. Seeing the dire condition of Chief Owain, he hurries them in and then calls out for his assistants. Heddwyn talks him into allowing the ollave to remain and observe the surgery, but also learns from the priest that today is the day before Samhain. They have lost an entire month! The priest hurries the others out so he can begin the long surgery which will take many hours (five, in fact.)
Áedán goes to retrieve the horses and cart but learns that the shopowner has already sold them! They arranged for him to keep them for a week, but more than a month has passed! Áedán manages to contain his temper but promises that he will be back to address this later. Meanwhile, Angus attempts to seek out his little birds, but finds none of them available here in Caer Segeint. Meadhbh is too emotional to do more than find a place to sit outside the church and relax; she is so confused because something is missing and she can’t figure out what! Finally, Marcus suggests that he and Gwion head out now and scout Bryn Euryn; Bradán agrees with this plan and they arrange a rendezvous point at the bridge where they slew so many Irishmen earlier in the year. The two head out in their newly captured boat.
Bradán seeks out Chief Cedwyn, the lord of this cantref, and is made to cool his heels for a time while the guards confirm his identity and seek out the chief. He is irritated and prickly when Cedwyn arrives, but manages to keep himself under control as he seeks information. Chief Cedwyn is surprised and pleased to see him since Rhos has evidently collapsed into pure chaos since Chief Owain was believed killed and the PCs vanished. After some discussion, Cedwyn agrees to aid Bradán for future assistance in Cedwyn’s endeavors. It will take some time to raise his full force, but Cedwyn promises military aid.
Marcus and Gwion reach Bryn Euryn late in the day, ground the boat in a concealing cove, then advance on foot. They arrive to find the town still and silent, with many signs of new fortifications and many crucifixions. Gwion’s sharper eyes note a distant military force disappearing over a small hill and the two decide to pursue to investigate. It turns out to be quite easy to follow the force as it pauses briefly to set a farmstead aflame, so the two PCs are able to quickly overtake the force and identify it as Blackshields on the march south, no doubt intent on hitting Caerhun itself! After some consideration, the two decide to take an alternate route that Marcus discovered some time back and warn the town.
By midnight, they arrive where they are quickly met by Lord Idnerth (now looking much better) and Morgan who embraces Marcus before immediately demanding to know where Meadhbh is. Upon learning that the majority of the citizens of Caerhun are preparing to evacuate while a defending force will remain to hold the attackers off long enough for the non-combatants to escape, Marcus assumes command and comes up with a plan to draw the Blackshields into a trap by using a seemingly abandoned Caerhun as bait. He also decides that Bradán needs to be informed, perhaps with a suggestion that the other PCs hit the enemy from behind and target their commanders while the Blackshields are disorganized. Morgan promptly volunteers to take the message and borrows Idnerth’s sole remaining horse. Out he rides, and Marcus turns to Idnerth and Gwion: they need to get to work.
I actually ended the session on a slightly different note but I’m going to do a minor rewind to reach that point next week.
From a GM perspective, this session was terrible. I wanted to get back to the real world immediately and try to band-aid the previous screwed up session, but felt like I only exacerbated a bad situation with my (frustrating) “story teller” tendencies. Bradán’s decision to just bug the hell out at the beginning caught me by surprise for some reason and I never quite recovered. I also did a terrible job of relating the exact timing of what was going on with Heddwyn during the session – he was more than halfway done with freeing the imprisoned Fae before Bradán ordered the withdrawal, but Bradán’s player thought Heddwyn was simply ignoring him and the character (not the player) got really angry at the druid. We’ve since hashed this out out of game, but the fact it was even necessary irritates me. Another GM fail.
We also had a boatload of technical issues, mostly revolving around TeamSpeak being just generally stupid. Gwion’s player was surprisingly quiet for much of the session … and then, we realized that none of us could hear him so a lot of time was spent trying to fix that.
I let someone – Heddwyn’s player, I think? – make the roll for the Surgery for Owain and it was success by 0, so the chief was stabilized … but just barely.
I’m already a session beyond where I was originally planning on stopping this run and had two sort of half-planned sessions to go, but I’ve revised that plan slightly and am expecting next session will be the end of season 2.