Moonsow’s Teeth [Part 02]
The party leaves Dun Gylym, escorting a large band of over forty Fir Domhain refugees. Eighteen are armed from the looted skull sword gear.
They witness the passage of a bunch of Drune stone-hunters. A Drune, twelve skull swords and eighteen slaves pass before them, equipped with stone moving kit (poles, ropes and pulleys). There is a moments indecision – do the drunes know something they don’t ? Are they on their way to the next tooth ? Should they be followed ? Eventually they decide to carry on, and not worry about small detachments of Drunes sent out on seemingly random missions by their demented masters.
Until they find a bunch of them in their path, who are clearly geographically disadvantaged. There is a swift parley, during which it is established that they are after Gylym, who is some kind of renegade.
Their next and last encounter in the Sourlands is with a group of stone erectors. Again, these are given a wide berth, despite the party figuring out that the advancing of stones towards Albion indicates the extension of the sours into the lands of the Tuatha De Danaan.
Eventually, they leave Sourlands and return to Albion. It is summer, heat warms their limbs and flies follow the horses as they are wont to do. The party are feted at several villages, after all they rescued a significant number of people from the Ghoul King. Gradually these refugees are dropped off. Many of the more martial types decide to follow the PCs as the best remaining course of action.
They soon reach Lough Glas. Findach looks into the pool and sees her reflection. In her own eyes, she remains an elderly high born lady and seeing her true rotten mostly-dead form prompts a crisis. To proceed, Kamilata has to splint her skull to her skeletal shoulders. A cloak is found to hide her from casual inspection.
With Findach satisfied once more, they continue through Brocellaide
They find Narhag, Conn of Brightlinghelmstone blocking their path. He describes how Osdann continues to wear down the tribe and tells the PCs that he has been sent abroad specifically to bring them back to Gorias. He seems less than enthusiastic about the task. The PCs explain that they have something very important to do for the benefit of the Fir Domhain, which they are very cagey about. Narhag decides to take what they tell him at face value as long as they agree to meet back later.
They continue on to visit Calleiach Devorah, the weather-witch. “Well done with that, now off to fetch Sithen Cro.” Only being an old lady, it takes her a bit longer to say that. She indicates to them that the tooth should be kept from Osdann and from the Drunes. Lots are drawn. Tûd wins and gets to stay behind. They stock up with rabbits - Torendra flies the coracle with Thranduil, Kamilata and Forgileill hanging on for dear life. As they pass over Oxford, sacrificing their fourteenth rabbit of the day, Kamilata wonders - how will they get the stone back in their flying coracle?
They land in a wood near Carracmur, guided by the harp. Sithen Cro is being used as the capstone of a dolmen in a Drune camp. They spy on the Drune routine. Supplies come, skull swords drop off slaves and so on. Another band of Drune stone hunters overnight there. A Fir Domhain stone hunting party arrive in the forest (Seabhac Mac Fergus and fourteen warriors). Seabhac and the PCs debate as to the final disposition of the stone. He remains determined to return it to Gorias as bidden by his king. Eventually they agree that until they actually have it, they’ll all work together. The entry into the forest of a Drune hunting party forces the party’s hand. There is a hurried discussion about hiding all eighteen of them and the flying coracle from the Drunes.
The hunting party is slain and the super efficient killing machine that is the PCs swings into action -
Forgileill and Thranduil sneak across country “around the back” of the hill and work their way up the slippery wet grass. Given a two and half hour head start, they are only just in position in time. Kamilata and Torendra attack from the flying coracle, coming very close to crashing. Forgileill and Thranduil backstab Slough Kruw. The four remaining skull swords go down in a flurry of blows. The Fir Domhain attack the settlement, loosing two men. The harp is touched to the stone.
Meanwhile, Tûd and Brakki meet Narhag. They persuade him that carrying out Osdann’s orders is folly. Unable to simply do nothing (It’s not in his.... er.... idiom) Narhag then declares for the party.
The others, meanwhile, decide to roller Sithen Cro south west through the forest and 'acquire' a boat to transport the stone northwards by river/sea. Over night, the forest grows up around them and they encounter the Horned God. He tells them that he has a personal interest in the stone. That he wants his place in the pantheon of the Tuatha De Danaan restored and that part of this is the gathering together of the Moon Sow’s teeth. He mentions all the help that he has given them (to which Forgileill is incredulous – What help ? well, you killed two shoggy creatures in Carnun’s Valley, which means that normally, Tûd and Forgileill would turn into shoggy creatures to replace them – he allows the harp to allow you to harvest small cute and furry things to eat, which he could stop. And he doesn’t tell the drunes [who are his worshippers] where you are. Oh and there’s the small matter of transporting the entire bunch of you and Sithen Cro from Carnac to Salop [400+ miles] overnight).
He then waits around for the PCs to ask him any questions. They wait until he leaves to suddenly come up with loads of questions. Oh well.
Surprisingly, they arrive back at weather witch’s valley, having been moved there by the Horned God. It’s now a little crowded with Seabhac’s warband, Narhag’s warband, the PCs warband, the PCs and their sundry hangers-on and menagerie and the stone and the live and not-live witch as well as the giant badger and the skull wardens.
Seabhac & co begin roller-ing Sithen Cro towards Gorias. The PCs and their new private army set off for Dinas Emrys to get Findach restored. It transpires that the wording of Osdann’s invulnerability is based on seeing his grandmother’s face – ergo she needs to be fully restored. The two witches plan on asking Merddyn, at Dinas Emrys, to find the Cauldron of Plenty – which has the power to restore the dead.
Tûd and the army wait outside.
At the top of Dinas Emrys a door in reality opens. They are admitted. Merddyn can’t get his hands on the Cauldron of Plenty, but sends them to when he could find it. They have to wade down through the timelake (every good extra dimensional fortress should have one). They find themselves in a Devonian landscape, and advance into a cave with triptych aspects of Danu the Earth Goddess. Findach is the most respectful and reticent that they have ever seen her. The Goddess appears to be satisfied with her apology and she is allowed to climb into the Cauldron. The PCs, meanwhile, are tested in the manner of Celtic mythology (deities often test their heroes and give them gifts/advice). Thranduil, Forgileill and Kamilata respond in a manner which pleases the Goddess. Torendra gives her a mouthful of abuse. Brakki later spins this as a rejection by the Midguard Torendra of a foreign Celtic goddess.
Danu gives Findach a silver mask so that Osdann cannot see her face until she decides (to take off the mask). Thus equipped, they leave Dinas Emrys and return to the weather witch.
Findach takes Torendra aside and teaches her some of the Earth Goddess’ magic. And a few lessons in manners. Torendra smiles and goes along with it; she can now cast a useful selection of spells, as long as the Goddess allows it.
Calleiach Devorah reveals that the Band of the Trodden Serpent [the Fir Domhain rebels] have approached the Fir Falians for assistance. The Tribe of the Shadows have promptly taken over, their armies have over-run, by stealth, much of Albion. The Fir Domhain are a scattered people. The prevailing worry is that the Shadows will now be able to subjugate the Fir Domhain, which is not very Celtic. Findach sets off for Gorias.
The PCs are reluctant to lift a finger, but the groundswell of opinion amongst their followers, who include Fir Domhain warriors and a treasure-mad Viking, persuade them that catching up with Findach and taking an interest might be an option.
They reach Gorias. The army of the shadows numbers nearly four thousand, roughly equally spaced around the city to cover the four gates. Every night, more of the population from inside Gorias leave to join the besiegers. In the manner of Celts and other tactically-aware warriors, Osdann decides to act whilst he still has any military strength at all.
The main body of the PCs' force watches one gate and the three mounted persons are despatched to watch the other. Osdann is spotted, messages are sent to recall the outriders and Findach sets off to confront her errant grandson. The private army forms up in a wedge about her.
As they advance across the battlefield, a Drune army turns up. There is confusion as the drunes begin to eat into the Tuatha De Danaan armies, who soon catch on and cease to fight each other and join forces to face the drunes. The Tuatha De Danaan generally charge headlong towards each other, taunting, hurling insults and javelins. The Fir Domhain usually win this type of fight by forming a shield wall. There are 1600 Fir Domhain, 4000 Falians and 4000 Drunes; the thousand skull swords hold their ground whilst the rest of their army rain slingshot on the earth tribes for half an hour.
The Drunes have superior numbers and are clearly, steadily, winning. Slough Nalg, a previous incarnation of the Horned God, strides across the battlefield, killing with impunity and generally wading in gore. Osdann, wearing a helmet with no eye holes (so that he cannot see his grandmother) finds the horned Drune and the two begin an epic single combat in the middle of the battle.
The Falians know when they’re on to a loser and their army breaks. The Fir Domhain begin to perform a well disciplined withdrawal, in contact, to their city.
A fourth army appears, thousands of animals and at their head the horned god himself. The Drune army cheers - after all, he’s their god, is he not? However, he is here for Slough Nalg. The animals clear a path for him (through the Drune army) and breaks up the epic duel, seizing Slough Nalg by the antlers and throwing him to the ground, breaking off the antlers and using them to beat the Drune priest to a bloody mess.
The Horned God addresses the party, mentioning the Ragnarök Book. Kamilata takes the book. Findach doesn’t recognise “Osdann” who turns out to be a famous Sessair mercenary named Gwern, wearing Osdann’s armour and using his axe. The Horned God and his army leave. Leaving our heroes, quite spookily, standing outside a locked city, knee deep in dead men, at dawn.
Findach knocks on the door. When challenged, she tells them who she is and they let her in. Hurrying on her coat tails, the PCs and their warband enter the city. They find themselves at the tribal council of the Fir Domhain. Fergus (for whom Tûd took a beating) appears to be the convenor. He speaks, telling how Osdann has fled to Yboras with the Teeth of the Moon Sow. He praises the PCs for their conduct all along. Findach speaks, and after brief debate, persuades the tribe that when it comes to matters of Osdann’s punishment, then as wronged kin, she has the legal right to exercise her prerogative first. They agree, but are they stymied by how to arrange their succession without a king to eviscerate.
The council eventually decide that as the succession has to be confirmed by a druid, that it’s actually Fachdannan’s fault that the Fir Domhain got Osdann for a king in the first place. Therefore, if they can get their hands on him, that he would make a suitable sacrifice instead. The PCs are asked to go with Findach and their Fir Domhain council, on behalf of the tribal council, to Yboras, to bring Osdann and Fachdann to justice. It’s regime change, but not as we know it.
Broadly speaking, whilst this was happening, Thranduil was courteous and efficient. Forgileill was sneaky and murderous. Kamilata was noble and forthright. Torendra was distant and antagonistic which left Brakki feeling frustrated and jaded. Forgileill had a series of dreams sent by Weyden Drug (“Scabby Puffs”). Sithen Cro appeared to be a bit scared of him.