GURPS: Casus Belli

1x06, Bryn Euryn

Act I

  • 25 October, 456
  • Temperatures have dipped rather sharply and it has been unseasonably wet, with much, much rain that is both a boon (because it will slow any pursuers) and a terrible curse (it slows you too!) Average temperatures are around 6.5°C (44°F) which is, as indicated, unseasonably cool. Winter is coming.
  • With the revelation that a full century (100 soldiers) of highly trained, very motivated bad asses are in the region hunting for them … or at least for Marcus, remaining in the region has become untenable.
  • Rounding up the survivors from Caer Tarian and Vertis, LORD Bradan has led his people north and west, deeper into the mountains and hills of Wales with an eye toward security and safety. His destination is a considerable distance away – Bryn Euryn, 216 miles using roads! – but has several important elements that have led him to this decision.
  • Bryn Euryn is a village that rests in the shadow of an abandoned hillfort known as Caer Dinerth, or Bear Fort, which Bradan takes a good omen. His grandfather was known as The Bear for his prodigious strength and tenacity in battle.
  • Heddwyn is aware of the reputation of the lord of Bryn Euryn: in his youth, he was called The Generous and actually fought alongside Bradan’s grandfather.
  • Aedan also has craftsmen kin who originated in this area. It is known for its limestone.
  • Paulus will recommend this as well each time he is consulted. He opens his mouth and his Split Personality activates. Every. Single. Time.
  • Along the way, they have lost people, whether to accident or raiding or because they simply had no desire to go any further, and they are down to a total of 1,500 farmers and craftsmen, which is not a small number and has led to a great deal of trouble in terms of gaining access to towns and villages. A majority of those with them are women and children as many of the men you brought along have fallen off along the way (see above regarding ‘losing people’). Food is not entirely scarce – they did bring along a lot of chickens and cows and pigs and the like, all nicked from Corinium – but it is still difficult going.
  • All major villages/towns/cities along the wall that have actual walls have closed their gates to them and the larger population centers have actually sent warriors out to … discourage their presence.
  • Signs and indications of strife are everywhere. Unprotected hamlets and villages have been sacked and looted all over. It is an everyday occurrence for them to pass a corpse or even a group of corpses that have been the victim of violence. Wolves, rarely this bold, are seen constantly, sometimes displaying no fear at all of men though thus far, there have been very few attacks (and then, only upon stragglers.)
  • During the trip, rumors have been flying like mad.
    • There were two great battles, first at Stonehenge where the Saecsens murdered many of Prydain’s barons but the King escaped to Corinium where he was defeated and captured after a tremendous battle.
    • The War Duke betrayed the king and nearly killed him, but Vortigern escaped and sought refuge with the Saecsens. It turns out that all of those Saecsen raids? Those were actually the war duke’s men! The king is to marry the Saecsen war host’s daughter, Rowenna, and unite the land
    • King Vortigern sought out and surrendered all of Prydain to the Saecsen war host leader, Hengist!
  • And so on. The different permutations of the rumors all say the same thing: Vortigern survived somehow. Few of these tales paint him in a good light, though, and none thus far have mentioned Artos.
  • The rumors also tend to also agree that the surviving king is enamored with Hengist’s daughter, Rowenna…
  • The warband:
    • Bradan and Marcus are still at odds over Marcus’ Enemy and the damage done to their family lands because of this.
    • Bradan is also facing the discomfort of having to pay for forty warriors – figure out how much this costs per month.
    • Upon discovering the extent of the damage caused by his Enemy, Marcus is seriously distressed. While it may not actually be true, he perceives every look he receives from a surviving villager as an accusing one. Let Mark determine how he responds.
    • Meadhbh will note that many, many of the surviving women from Caer Tarian / Vertis area are showing the classic symptoms of having been raped (including Siobhan). This should further encourage her desire to start a fighting school.
    • Heddwyn notes that Siobhan actively avoids both Bradan and Marcus though this is easily understood given the former roughing her up and the latter’s enemy murdering her family. He is also dismayed to realize she is tense around all other men, indicating that she did not escape Marcus’ enemy unscathed.
    • Angus is dismayed that many, many of his little birds have gone silent, far too many of whom having been killed by the madness that has erupted throughout the land.
    • Paulus’ dependent, Brother Maius, was badly injured from the chaos of the previous chapter.
  • Arrive at Caerhun in Wales
  • This is a small village (for about 750 people) but it is utterly abandoned right now. There are signs of conflict everywhere – whatever happened, seems to have happened within the last couple of weeks based on the damage.
  • Needless to say, the fact that there are 2x the number of people present this village is equipped for and the fact that this is technically someone else’s land means this place is temporary right now.

Act II

  • Bradan decides to head to Bryn Euryn itself to discuss their situation with the lord, Baron Edern. He leaves his sister, Meadhbh, in command of their force with Aedan there to advise her. He sends a runner ahead to announce their arrival.
  • Approaching Bryn Euryn causes no small amount of trepidation. It’s a desolate, rundown mess although there are many signs that this was once a more thriving location. As they enter, there are a handful of people who poke their heads out of their homes but do so in a very frightened manner.
  • A pair of warriors emerge to greet them. Both of these men are frankly too old to be particularly effective and they seem frankly afraid of their own shadows. The warriors demand identification, then state that no one can see them or their lord…
  • Adaryn ap Afallon suddenly appears accompanied by the runner that Bradan sent and Heddwyn knows him as a full druid and one of Iwan’s friends. Adaryn greets the bard and instructs the two warriors to inform Lord Edern that they have company. As soon as they are gone, Adaryn eyes Heddwyn and comments that he knew something was up – he saw a murder of crows wing over the abandoned fort this morning, and then, they killed a snake … which should not have happened at all because it is too cold for snakes. Bradan asks what has happened here …
  • And Baron Edern answers: difficult times. The elderly baron is assisted by his daughter, Addiena, who generally tries to stay out of sight. When she does move, she keeps her hair over one side of her face in a failed attempt to hide her terrible scar. From the baron, the warband learns that this village and Caerhun have both been plagued by Irish raiders and honest-to-God giants! The warband listen politely (if with some disbelief) and Bradan begins the initial negotiations about moving into Caerhun. At Addiena’s soft whisper, the baron makes a counter-offer: deal with the giants who have moved into the limestone quarry, and they will discuss the matter further. Bradan eagerly accepts.
  • As the quarry is closer than Caerhun, the band heads there, intending to recon the area before deciding what to do. There, they discover Pictish barbarians who do appear to be giants! There are few enough present that the warband is convinced they can handle them without requiring further support. A tactical plan is laid out: they will ambush the barbarians on a rocky path. One set up, Bradan ‘fails’ his attempt at stealth and then flees, leading the Picts into the trap.
  • A brutal melee ensues with the warband never yielding the initiative. Only Paulus is injured and then through some bad luck on his part, and he topples into unconsciousness. Simultaneously, Marcus fells the Pictish shaman who has been chanting the entire battle. A massive bolt of lightning stabs downward from the sky, incinerating the shaman entirely, which catches them all by surprise.

Act III

  • Back to Bryn Euryn the warband goes after freeing some prisoners held by the Picts. Delighted at their victory, Baron Edern orders a feast (or at least as much of a feast as they can manage.)
  • During that feast, Bradan is sought out by Addiena who has been asked to bring him to her father. The two briefly converse, with Bradan managing to make a good impression on the shy young woman. The fact that he is not repulsed by her scar is perhaps the most important matter to her.
  • He discusses resettlement issues with the baron, neither man aware that Angus has stealthily located an eavesdropping point to listen in. An initial agreement is made: Bradan will assume leadership of Caerhun and aid the baron in maintaining control of the region while the baron will assist him in maintenance of the warband. Briefly hinted at but not actually discussed yet is a possible marriage between Bradan and Addiena which will cement this alliance. The baron’s son, Owain, is mentioned in passing and Edern states only that his son is a ‘difficult man.’
  • As Angus is returning to the feast, he realizes the woman, Argante, has been keeping an eye on him, even when he was eavesdropping.
  • Baron Edern gives a speech to announce their friendship, and then Bradan does as well, and finally, Heddwyn is asked to tell the story of the events that has led them to this place. He do so exceptionally well.
  • And then, silence descends as a new voice calls out: “What’s this then?” Owain has returned.

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