GURPS: Casus Belli

1x05, Níðstang

Act I

  • 4 August 456
  • Lord Caddell has been in an eager mood for weeks. He has vented to Bradan regarding the high king who he considers to be an abject fool. The nobles will no longer sit for Vortigern’s stupidity. They have placed their demands before Vortigern and he has grudgingly agreed to most of them. The might of Prydain is going to assemble and face off against the Saxons at a date very, very soon. It will be a negotiated settlement for the time being, until they can re-organize the warbands into a more cohesive force to push the Saxons back entirely.
  • Lord Caddell has kept both Bradan and Marcus so busy that the young men haven’t had much time to do anything but work. They’ve alternately ran messages back and forth between other barons in between drilling hard with Caer Tarian’s warriors. There is a strong sense that a big battle is coming. These two have had no time for any personal business.
  • In a moment of weakness, Caddell promised both of his sons that he would not leave them behind when the day of the big battle came. He has since regretted making this promise but will not renege on it. Naturally, this has evolved into allowing the other characters to come too.
  • Meadhbh is presumed to have been doing a lot of drilling with the warriors as well.
  • Many have been talking about how frequently Heddwyn has been seen with Siobhan verch Odgar of late. It seems innocent but with her reputation … well. He has also been present during the many meetings that Lord Caddell conducts with his allies and potential allies.
  • Aedan has been as busy as the two brothers, but almost entirely in the forge. Weapons have been forged, armor repaired, etc.
  • Bishop Paulus has alternated his time at Vertis in the church and Caer Tarian as Lord Caddell tends to have him and the druid, Heddwyn, present during his many meetings with his allies and would-be allies.
  • Angus has, in his capacity as spymaster, spent the last twenty-three days trying to track down Aeronwen since he does not believe she is actually dead. He has followed every unearthed lead to where they will abruptly disappear without a trace, which continues to baffle him.
  • War Duke Ambrosius Aurelianus arrives with Pwyll ap Math, lord of Salinae, and the band learn that Aurelianius is marching south, despite the time of year, with the king and all of his warbands to meet with the primary Saxon leader, Hengist, to negotiate a settlement. Ambrosius Aurelianius intends to demand the Saxons to withdraw back to Ceint which Vortigern already ceded to them seven seasons ago. He (Ambrosius) wants a major show of force here and will be heading to Glevum to assemble Niul One-Eye.
  • Caddell speaks with Heddwyn alone, asking him to draw his fortune and what the bard discovers is not good.
  • The following morning, Lord Caddell marches out with most of his warriors.

Act II

  • Lord Caddell’s warband hooks up with War Duke Ambrosius but not Artos. The duke reveals that he sent his son off to deal with some damned Irish raiders who have been causing merry hell in Gwynedd and giving Duke Cunedda Wledig fits. The way Ambrosius phrases this gives the impression that Artos did not want to go. He (Ambrosius) is actually surprised if PCs are present, knowing how much Caddell distrusts the Saecsens.
  • It takes 22 days total to reach Stonehenge, which will places the date as around 27 August.
  • Along the way, Caddell is drilling stuff into Bradan (and the Twins) regarding rulership and all that. Again and again, he stands out from the other leaders by insisting that the people are more important than the land.
  • He also chastises Bradan for his temper, reminding him that men will follow a man with a temper but will find it difficult to be loyal to him. In fact, he points out, look at this man, Morgan. He listens more to Marcus than Bradan because Marcus does not show him to the rough side of his tongue when things go poorly or not his way.
  • Marcus does not escape his lectures during the trip. He is chastised for looking down at habits of those he’s sworn to (his Q: detests ‘barbarians’ and ‘barbaric’ behavior.) Caddell also expresses his concern about Marcus’ continued dalliance with ‘Odgar’s girl.’ As the son of a baron, Marcus is expected to marry better and it is folly to toy with the girl’s affections in this way.
  • Meadhbh, being his only daughter, can do no wrong in Caddell’s mind.
  • Caddell spends much time discussing stuffs with Heddwyn and Paulus. By the time they reach the meeting site, both men are well aware that the baron has been evaluating alternate locations to relocate to should this battle go ill.
  • Bradan learns that Caddell is known as ‘the Fox’ for his slyness in battle. He has a reputation for cleverness and has been known to withdraw from a losing fight and tactically maneuver.
  • They arrive at Stonehenge at the head of a massive military force and discover an equivalent Saecsen force waiting.
  • Both forces effectively surround Stonehenge with the Saecsens on the south and the Celts on the north. The leaders (and only the leaders) advance, showing their weapons and leaving them behind (swords & spears thrust into the dirt) and meet at the almost table set up within the standing stones where they will discuss terms. The druids are monitoring this.
  • Caddell explicitly instructs Heddwyn to remain with the warband and to stand alongside Bradan. He (Caddell ) will admit to having a bad feeling about this and wants Heddwyn to stay close to his family to ‘sing them a victory like the druids of old should this play out ill.’
  • King Vortigern will initiate the greeting by providing tokens denoting the Celtic intention to resist if necessary but be willing to negotiate. The Saecsens acknowledge this and one of their number reveals their own token in the form of a long pole … with the severed head of a horse atop it!
  • Angus and Heddwyn immediately recognize a Nithing pole and realize that danger is imminent. But it is too late!
  • The Saecsen holding the pole bellows out something and slams said pole into the dirt. There is a massive eruption of light and sound that momentarily blind them! This does not stop Bradan from charging forward the moment he realizes his father is in danger.
  • The instant that the flare happens, the other Saecsen ‘leaders’ draw long knives from where they were secreted at their backs and pounce! At the same time, the Saecsen warbands roar and charge!
  • The band see many men fall immediately because they were blind – the war duke himself, Barons Atticus and Pwyll, Niul One-Eye – but Lord Caddell scrambles back toward his weapon. He seizes the sword that Aedan made for him and cuts down one Saecsen, then another but then, as he tries to parry a third attack. the sword fails him. The Saecsen in question is a big dude and his axe cleaves through the sword and into Caddell’s torso. It is very obviously a killing blow.
  • Mass combat ensues, but the warband immediately recognize they are in an untenable position. Bradan recovers his father’s body as Marcus seeks to hold the warband together, but the younger brother is badly injured in the fight as is Meadhbh. War horns sound, indicating Saecsen reinforcements, and Bradan, taking over for his badly wounded brother as warband commander, orders a retreat.

Act III

  • Retreating to Aquae Sulis, the warband bickers over their next actions. Bradan sends a runner – Coedwig – on to Corinium to report the defeat. They reach Aquae Sulis three days after the battle and spend a day licking their wounds. That evening, Coedwig returns and reveals that Corinium is already in full-scale riot, word of the Saecsen ‘treachery of long knives’ having beaten him to the king’s city.
  • After some consideration, Bradan decides they will march toward Corinium, believing that should it fall, it would be a mortal wound for Prydain as it is the king’s city. He sends Angus and Bishop Paulus ahead to prepare the way.
  • With the bishop conducting a public speaking psy-ops campaign to rally the terrified members of the city and Angus utilizing his ‘little birds’ network to spread this propaganda, the two manage to convince a considerable portion of the city’s lowborn to stand with ‘Lord’ Bradan against the Saecsen horde. By the time that Bradan’s battered warband reaches Corinium, this force is ready for a lengthy siege.
  • A week passes before the Saecsen vanguard arrives and this commander is nowhere near as capable as the man the warband has faced twice before. Hurling his men forward, this commander is utterly crushed and his warband routed.
  • Recognizing that they cannot hold this city against a competent commander and a larger, more effective military force, Bradan orders a full retreat. He passes word that any who wishes to accompany his band may as they intend to leave nothing behind that the Saecsens can use. This results in them leaving Corinium with more than 1,500 lowborn farmers, craftsmen, and tradesmen.
  • They pause only briefly at Glevum – the gates are closed – but do so just to pass word of the impending Saecsen attacks.
  • Some days later, they begin to encounter refugees and are horrified to discover that Caer Tarian and Vertis alike have been burned to the ground! Siobhan verch Odgar is among the refugees and she is shellshocked. She reveals that warriors came to Vertis and then, after destroying it, marched onto Caer Tarian. They looted and slaughtered and raped and murdered … Marcus is horrified to learn that Siobhan’s sister, Caitlin who he was courting, is dead. When asked about who was responsible for this, she replies: “It was not Saecsens nor Celt nor Scoti,” she says before looking at Marcus. “They were Romans. And they were looking for you.”


    GM’s Note: The Corinium siege/battle was unexpected on my part but GURPS: Mass Combat worked even if this Saecsen leader turned out to be an idiot. After losing half his force, I gave him a Bad Temper and Impulsiveness control check – he failed both – which resulted in him choosing All-Out Attack instead of withdrawing and starting a true siege. Surviving the latter would have been very difficult for the characters…

I also did not expect them to leave Corinium with so many people. It changed the next installment slightly (but in a good way!)

We also discovered that the Mass Combat Google Docs I was using was thoroughly screwed up. The PCs probably shouldn’t have lost quite as badly as they had the previous two mass combats.

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1x04, Actus Reus

Act I

  • 8 July 456
  • Yesterday morning, Baron Caddell rode out to Glevum to treat with his allies.
  • Bradan – horrifyingly, to him – dreamed of the ocean. He was looking down at a bay where he saw a pair of ships entering a natural harbor and simply knew that these ships carried with them death. Just as he was about to turn away, he realizes he is being watched by a big ass raven with blood-red eyes and that he’s standing in the aftermath of a battle, with corpses littering the ground around him. It was at this point he realized his shirt was soaked in blood. His blood. And the raven laughed at him. When he wakes, he is startled to discover his shirt is covered in blood but there are no wounds or injuries he can find.
  • Marcus – dreamed of being in a small boat on a rough sea. He is utterly alone and his entire body aches, like he is recovering from bad injuries. Behind him, he knows that he’s leaving something important behind but duty requires him to continue forward. When he glances down, he realizes his boat is flooded … with blood. His blood. And he simultaneously realizes he is gripping a broadsword whose blade almost looks like it is wrought of water! A terrible storm rises up around him. When he wakes, his entire body is wet, as if he’d been swimming or in the rain, and the water is salt water…
  • Meadhbh – dreams of rushing through an unfamiliar forest, her brothers at her side. They are hunting someone or something and all that matters is their prey. Faster and faster they run, until the trees are whipping by in a blur. They explode into a clearing and fall upon their prey. Without thinking, Meadhbh strikes first, tearing out the throat of her prey with her teeth … the taste of blood is sharp and bitter in her mouth but she needs more. This desperate desire to kill suddenly pierces through the muddiness of her thoughts and she realizes with horror that she is a beast on all fours! Their prey are people and she’s just killed one! Suddenly, as she battles confusion, one of the prey rears up – it’s Marcus! – and pins her to the ground with a spear. The pain is agonizing and startles her awake. She finds that her wounds (which were almost completely healed yesterday) seem to have broken open – how else to explain all of the blood? – but there are no actual open wounds. And she can taste blood in her mouth as well. She wakes with a scream.
  • Marcus, upon hearing his sister scream, rushes to her room, snatching up a spear. The sight of seeing her brother so armed causes a still not all there Meadhbh to panic even more. Marcus hesitates, confused, and notes that perched on her windowsill is a massive owl.
  • Heddwyn is meeting with his mentor, Iwan the Crow, who is passing word to druids that the Archdruid has passed and the order will be gathering on Samhain (31 October) to elect his replacement. Normally, they would go to Ynys Mon, but Irish pirates have effectively seized that island for their own so they are thinking of relocating. As a bard, Heddwyn’s presence is expected although he will be warned to avoid the Irish pirates who have mostly seized control of that island – they generally leave the druids alone, but not always.
  • The two druids are summoned to Meadhbh’s room where they hear about the dreams and see the aftermath. Both druids are surprised and Heddwyn correctly identifies that Bradan has had a second encounter with the Morrigan and Meadhbh has once more been touched by Flidais, but does not recognize Marcus’ visitation. Later, when he and Iwan are alone, his mentor wonders what is going on with the siblings, as Bradan has been touched by the Autumn Queen, Meadhbh by the Spring Lady, and it sounds as if Marcus dreamed of the immensely powerful sword, Fragarach, also called the Answerer (though why he would dream of stealing away with an Irish treasure does not make sense.)
  • Iwan grudgingly relates information about the ongoing Sidhe War and the faerie courts to his former student, revealing that this information is generally something that a druid is supposed to learn later in his career.
  • Aedan has finished crafting a sword specially commissioned by the baron himself. He is unaware that this sword as a terrible flaw in it…
  • Paulus’ aide, Maius, has completed writing the letter to Rome asking for the appointment of a new archbishop. Satisfied with this letter, Paulus has him begin making multiple copies so they can send them to Rome.
  • Angus gets word from his little birds that there have been numerous strange sightings of unknown individuals throughout the realm, usually at night. Quite frequently, there have been the sounds of battle but no one has ever actually seen these fights. Also, and this just sounds like nonsense to him. There has also been a radical increase in the number of birds in the region, particularly owls and ravens. People are actually getting a little creeped out over these numbers. He interprets this as the population restless and worried.

Act II

  • Word comes to Caer Tarian that a murder has taken place in Vertis! Acting quickly, Bradan commandeers a wagon for transport and the Band race off, Iwan accompanying them.
  • At Vertis, they learn that Father Cai, the village priest, is dead and Siobhan verch Odgar has been apprehended as the chief suspect. Bradan, Heddwyn and Iwan break off to interrogate their suspect while the rest head for the church to investigate the body and the surroundings.
  • Outside the now mostly derelict barracks where the suspect is being housed, a crowd has gathered, calling for Siobhan’s head. Her father, Odgar, bars them all from entry. Bradan gives a quick, impromptu speech, advising this would-be mob that justice will be done as he’s brought two druids with him before leading them into the barracks.
  • Siobhan pleads her innocence which both Bradan and Heddwyn believe, even though she has no real alibi. However, when she is asked whether she knows of anyone who might wish harm against the father, she visibly hesitates which immediately incenses the hotheaded Bradan who slaps her when he demands to know what she is hiding. Heddwyn, recognizing that Bradan is doing more damage than good with his aggressive questioning, slides in and diplomances so successfully that he convinces Siobhan to reveal that she had some suspicions about Father Cai and had observed the priest sneaking about. Convinced that she is telling the truth, the two depart, intent on rejoining the others.
  • At the church, the first thing noted is the weapon of choice: a tanner’s knife. Beyond that, however, very little is truly noted and the band quickly realize they are not sleuths or investigators in this fashion. Bishop Paulus takes the single acolyte aside and grills him, phrasing his line of inquiry as a much needed confession. From Brother Áedh, he learns that the late father was acting rather suspicious but offered no explanation for the priest’s behavior. For that matter, Áedh was too busy concealing his own secret – an affair with a village young woman – to pry into this.
  • Marcus exits the church with Echo and has the dog begin sniffing around for a trail to follow. Eventually, this leads him to the back of the church. He finds indications that there might be something on the roof and sends Echo to return with Meadhbh, but fails to accurately convey this message to the dog who seeks out Marcus’ sister but then opts to accept a belly rub instead of actually bringing her back.
  • Eventually, the entire band assembles at the church – Bradan and Heddwyn journey there while Marcus goes looking for his dog. They discuss findings, then head to the back of the church to investigate once more. Bradan attempts to scale the building, but instead falls on his back, so Meadhbh scrambles up. She finds some burnt rags that have a strange smell to them.
  • Following this smell, Echo leads them to the river where, once again, the trail goes cold, exactly like it did at the farm they discovered in 1×02. Back to the village they go where they quickly discover another crowd has gathered, this time convinced that ‘new evidence’ has been found that confirms Siobhan’s guilt. Heddwyn gives a quick speech that causes the crowd to disperse.
  • Angus utilizes his ‘little birds’ and spends several hours poking around into these events and uncovers circumstantial evidence pointing toward Aeronwen, the adopted daughter of Eus the Silent, the villager weaver. Upon hearing this, Bradan decides to visit the woman early the next morning…
  • However, that evening, a great armcry is raised. A fire has broken out in the village! The band rush to join the fire brigade and are only slightly surprised to discover it is the weaver’s home! Ignoring the danger, Bradan rushes into the burning building where he sees two bodies. Grabbing one – it is Eus, who is deeply unconscious after having been smote in the head – he narrowly escapes before the entire burning roof collapses. A woman’s body will be discovered in the burned ruins once the fire is put out.
  • Unconvinced that this body is Aeronwen, Angus searches and finds unusual tracks. He follows them and they vanish … in mid-step! Even Echo cannot find where they went to! Iwan departs after seeing this with a concerned expression on his face.
  • Later, after the hubbub has died down, Angus is contacted by Siobhan through his ‘little birds.’ Deciding to go ahead and meet her, he is surprised when she reveals that she’s figured out his secret, that he is Baron Caddell’s spymaster, not that blithering fool, Conn. To Angus and Angus alone she will admit that she did kill Father Cai but only because she learned he was an enemy agent who was responsible for helping the would-be assassins in 1×01 to escape. He learned that she was an agent of Caddell and tried to intimidate her but was unaware that she was no coward. She requests permission to adopt a new persona, one that will not drive away any suitors, but assures Angus that she will continue to act as his eyes in Vertis. Angus gives her permission to do so and they part ways…
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1x03, Clash

Act I

  • 19 June 456.
  • The band has escorted Paulus to the royal villa of Chedworth where a convocation of priests has gathered to discuss the lack of an archbishop in this region.
  • Word reaches them that a great warband of Saecsens is on approach!
  • Acting as quickly as they can manage, the band assumes command of the warriors in the region but events outpace them and before they can adequately prepare the defenses, the Saecsens swarm over Chedworth, catching the Celts by surprise.
  • Bradan serves as the overall commander, but there are simply too many Saecsens, too few defenders, and the Celts are out of position. Pressed hard and overwhelmed, the defenders are ultimately forced to abandon Chedworth and retreat, leaving the villa to Saecsen pillagers who seem uninterested in further pursuit.
  • The band does not escape unscathed: only Heddwyn and Paulus are unwounded and Meadhbh is very badly injured.

Act II

  • Retreating from Chedworth, the survivors angle toward the king’s city, Corinium.
  • The presence of a large band of bloodied warriors on approach results in Corinium defenders, led by Artorius, to rush out to meet them. Upon identifying them, Artos sends one of his riders back to have his personal physician prepare for wounded. Marcus gives him a brief rundown of the Saecsen force before the prince leads his combrogi on to Chedworth with an intent to harass the attackers.
  • Upon arriving at Corinium, the band is escorted to Artos’ domus, which strikes the band more as a barracks than the home of a nobleman. Physicians stand ready to lend assistance and the band agree to spend all of the next day recovering.
  • Artos returns late in the evening, revealing that the Saecsens burned Chedworth to the ground and then retreated. He, Bradan and Marcus spend several hours discussing the battle and the Saecsen tactics.
  • The following day, Heddwyn spends many hours seeking out rumors and innuendo regarding the king, the Artos-Aurelianius camp, and public perception regarding Baron Caddell. At Angus’ suggestion, he also begins work on a propaganda campaign regarding the events of the Chedworth battle to ensure that there is no political blowback on Bradan regarding the defeat.
  • Paulus also begins researching Church law to formulate how to best craft the letter to Rome regarding the election of a new archbishop. He intends to have Brother Maius write the letter once they return to Caer Tarian.

Act III

  • The return trip to Caer Tarian takes three days, even though Meadhbh has borrowed a horse from Prince Artos.
  • Upon arrival, they are greeted by Lord Caddell.
  • Fourteen days elapse as the band recovers and attends their kingdom leadership duties.


    GM Notes: The Mass Combat at the beginning of the game did not play out as I expected. A critical failure on the initial Recon role ended up being catastrophically bad for the PCs. Their force spent the first round “Confused” (per the rules) which allowed the attacking Saecsens to use All Out Attack. We played out three rounds, during which time the PCs were suffering from the usual Fantasy Grounds II dice woes and had a resulting minimal affect on the Significant Actions portions of the battles. In the end, the decision to retreat was necessary as the PC force had already suffered 55% casualties.
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1x02, Rent

Act I

  • 5 May 456.
  • Diplomacy wins the day in regards to the captured cattle raiders. A team led by Heddwyn and Paulus travel to Alauna to negotiate the return of these men to their lord, one Publius Aemilius Atticus. Angus and Marcus accompany, along with a handful of Baron Caddell’s warriors. The baron flatly forbids Bradan and Meadhbh from going, knowing that their respective personalities are too close to his own and will result in an exacerbation of the conflict.
  • After cooling their heels for some time, the diplomats are finally brought before Lord Atticus and Heddwyn makes his case. What (and others of the team) note, however, is that Atticus is actually surprised at the very mention of the cattle raid in the first place, as if he had not ordered it at all! When the baron promptly agrees to the ransom request without even bothering to negotiate it, Heddwyn further suspects that these men are about to be thoroughly and quite brutally questioned.
  • The exchange is made – men for money – and the diplomat team begins their trek back to Caer Tarian.
  • Shortly before they arrive, at Caer Tarian, a warband is sighted on approach bearing the standard of the war duke himself, Ambrosius Aurelianus. He and his nephew, Artorius, enter the caer alone, leaving the warband to set up camp, and Baron Caddell greets his friend the duke warmly.
  • Once alone with Caddell and Bradan, the war duke declares his intent to gather all of the barons and place an ultimatum before King Vortigern about the monarch’s inaction with regards to the Saecsen issue. Caddell immediately agrees to accompany him but shoots down Bradan’s offer to join.
  • Once the war duke and his adopted son have been shown to chambers, Caddell tells his son that Bradan is to rule in his stead and that rent must be collected soon. He further instructs his son to enlist Angus and Heddwyn in feeling out the locals regarding a potential mass evacuation of this territory. Caddell is thinking of heading north should this Saecsen issue grow worse and he is more interested in saving his people than holding onto his land.
  • Baron Caddell rides out the following morn with many of his warband, leaving Bradan and Meadhbh to wonder if this is the last they will see of him, particularly as his avatar has inexplicably changed to that of Sean Bean.

Act II

  • The following day, once the diplomat team has returned and rested, Bradan leads them out of Caer Tarian, accompanied by his father’s steward, Meical ap Cuill. None of them are especially enthusiastic about gathering rent but it is a necessary job.
  • To that end, Bradan decides to make the best of a poor situation and declares the farm of man he particularly dislikes due to the man’s constant public questioning of and opposition to his father to be their first destination.
  • Upon arrival, however, they realize the farm is too quiet. Angus and Bradan sneak forward, discovering a quartet of scared-looking men arguing amongst themselves. The smell of blood is strong.
  • Acting quickly, the band surround the skulkers and intimidate them with their show of force into throwing down their weapons and surrendering. Almost immediately, these men begin declaring their innocence.
  • In the barn, Angus discovers the bodies of the family that lived here, with the younger son – Enfrys ap Enfrys – strung up, clearly a victim of extensive questioning and torture. Further investigation uncovers that the weapon used was probably a tanner’s knife.
  • Marcus struggles against flashbacks at the sight and eagerly agrees to Bradan’s suggestion that he and Echo try to find tracks and a scent. The trail leads to a stream where it promptly vanishes, a clear indication that whoever this person was, they had some considerable woodcraft.
  • Back at the farm, the interrogation continues and the band learn of the existence of what sounds like (to them) a bandit leader named Morgan. The captured men eagerly agree to lead the band there, providing they themselves aren’t put to the sword. Bradan does not make such a promise and instead makes them dig graves for the dead..

Act III

  • After collecting Meical and escorting him back to Caer Tarian where they leave two of the four skulkers, the band heads northwest for a day and a half, entering the periphery of Baron Caddell’s lands.
  • Within a long-abandoned logging camp now turned into an almost fortified fort, they discover a fairly large group of men, many equipped with tools of war. Viewed tactically, this place has clearly been geared toward defense and the band is able to note indications that this Morgan fellow has at least taken efforts to set up a guard rotation of some sort. This would be a tough nut to crack, they realize, unless they returned to Caer Tarian and brought more warriors and even then, a lot of violence would ensue.
  • After some consideration, Bradan decides to be bold about it and march up to the front gate. Naturally, there is a reaction as the armed men rush to defend themselves, but Bradan simply announces himself and asks for hospitality, knowing that if Morgan is a true Celt, he will grant it without question.
  • And he does. Asking only that Bradan’s band hew to guest rights, he allows them entrance and offers them what little food they have.
  • In no time at all, everyone is seated and discussing the situation, wherein they learn that Morgan was once a warrior for a Celtic lord now overthrown and slain by Saecsen dogs. He and the men that have flocked to him have wandered, seeking refuge and a place of safety as they consider their next options. He is considering heading north soon, as the Picts are quiet at the moment.
  • Bradan offers a counter-offer: stay in the region and serve Caer Tarian. They can provide food which is sorely needed and can use strong arms in this chaotic time.
  • Morgan considers the offer, then asks his men about it. The decision is made: Morgan’s warband will remain and, for a time, serve Bradan. As long as the proverbial check clears, of course…
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1x01, Prodigal

Act I:

  • 1 April, 456.
  • Marcus is on foot, returning home after 15 years abroad.
  • He hears the sound of fighting and moves to investigation.
  • Discovers a fight between a Celt band and a Saecsen one. Several of the Celts wear distinctive tattoos that he recognizes as belonging to his family, so he draws his weapon and rushes forward.
  • Bradan ends up killing one man by repeatedly smashing his head against the other man’s.
  • ‘Bishop’ Paulus is badly injured.
  • The fight ends with all but one of the Saecsens dead; after Angus interrogates him, this final man is effectively pressed into slavery.

Act II:

  • Reunion transpires. Bradan and Meadhbh are initially surprised, then pleased at the return of their long-lost brother.
  • Due to Paulus’ injuries, it takes them 3 days to reach Caer Tarian.
  • Chief Caddell is overjoyed at the return of his second son and declares loudly that a feast is to take place to celebrate not only Marcus’ return but also Heddwyn’s return from Ynys Môn after he survived his ordeal to become a druid.
  • A few days elapse as everyone prepares for the feast.

Act III:

  • A hunt is declared. Bradan, Marcus and Meadhbh all volunteer to accompany the hunting party. All others are going to loiter around the chief.
  • During the hunt, a bizarre mist rises up to envelop the hunters and when it vanishes, they all find themselves elsewhere!
  • Meadhbh is startled when dozens upon dozens of owls begin hooting at her from the large tree they are all perched upon. Suddenly, four skulkers emerge from cover, see her, and charge. She handily kills one, badly injures a second and sends the other two fleeing in terror. Just as she is about to step forward to pursue one of those fleeing, she hears a bestial roar followed by Bradan’s battle cry and rushes to aid her brother.
  • Marcus catches a glimpse of an ethereal beauty and follows, stumbling upon his own group of skulkers. All three of them fall before his battle skill. Before he can figure out what’s going on, he hears a bestial roar followed by Bradan’s battle cry and rushes to aid his brother.
  • Aedan, Angus, and Paulus are near Chief Caddell when spears fly out from concealment, killing the lord’s horse and causing it to trap him underneath it. A fierce fight ensues as the three men defend the trapped baron from the assassins. Several of them are felled, resulting in the others retreating in the face of impending reinforcements and the general badassness of the defenders.
  • Bradan is startled when dozens upon dozens of ravens begin cawing at him from the large tree they are all perched upon. Suddenly, he hears the sound of something large smashing through the trees and braces himself. The largest bear he’s ever seen appears, pausing to look at him before roaring. Bradan responds with a fierce battle cry and attacks. He is surprised to see the bear actively defends itself! He is further grievously injured by the bear and is in a dire situation when the ravens and the bear all begin to laugh. Bradan braces himself and dances back and forth with the bear briefly, though it looks bad … until Marcus and Meadhbh appear and rush to aid him. The ravens go silent and the bear becomes just a really big bear, which makes it easy game for the twins.
  • On a small hill, overlooking the region, Heddwyn watches the three siblings, recognizing that all three have had an encounter with the Sidhe. Bradan has seemingly drawn the ire of The Morrigan and Meadhbh was warned of danger by Flidais, but Marcus’ encounter is unclear. Suddenly, Paulus joins him and Heddwyn notes the bishop’s eyes are golden. A different voice than his own emerges from the priest’s lips, warning Heddwyn that dark times are coming. He must be prepared for what is to come and what must be done. Within the year, this caer will be in ashes. Heddwyn recognizes that the bishop is being puppeted by Myrddin Emrys himself!

Dénouement:

  • Three of the skulkers are captured, but none of the would-be assassins are. The skulkers are identified as being armsmen for Lord Atticus, one of Baron Caddell’s rivals.
  • The skulkers insist (believably so) that they were just on a cattle raid. They weren’t trying to murder anyone.
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