Slaine Adventure Synopsis and Background

tarkhan bey

The adventure takes place earlier than the events of the Horned Lord and Moon Sow campaign and is set in the south western reaches of Eriu, where the lands of the Sessair merge with those of Leath Mogha and the wild lands of Connachta.
An emissary has arrived at Murias from the village of Dun Earnai seeking the aid of the Red Branch to deal with an evil witch who has taken residence in the hills of Ailech.This witch has kidnapped the chieftain's daughter, Aiofe. The chieftains sons have ventured forth to rescue their sister but failed to return from the mistbound uplands.Several other parties of warriors from Dun Earnai have met with the same fate.
Unfortunately, the Red Branch are off fighting another border war with the Fir Domain and only a handful of warriors remain to guard the city. The Queen, Saoirse, gives her blessing to any of the young wariors who would go to the aid of the beleaguered settlement.
The journey to Dun Earnai is not a particularly long one, but it has the potential to be dangerous. The characters must choose which route to take. From Murias, the journey will take them south and west to the shores of Lough Eochy, a journey of perhaps three days on foot. From there they must decide whether to travel the northerly and most commonly travelled route via the high pass of Gleann Sian through the Na Sperinni mountains to the settlement of Dun Giamhan and then on to Cruachu. From Cruachu the characters would be travelling south along the great valley of Gleann Mor to Dun Earnai.
The dangers of this journey would primarily come from the elements and from the vicious predators of the Na Sperrini range.
The second journey would be a quicker route around the south of the Loch befor striking out southwest to Loch Earnai and following the river west to the town of Baileseannach. From Baileseannach it would be two days walk to Dun Earnai, on its mighty promontory overlooking the ocean.
Although this journey would be shorter, it would be considered the more dangerous of the two roads, veering close to the lands of the Wild men of Connachta and to the northernmost settlements of Leath Mogha.

Having arrived at Dun Earnai the characters are brought before the chieftain, Colgan Cionnach. He is a man who appears to be in the latter years of his life but in truth, it is recent events and troubles which have caused him to age greatly.
The chieftain tells them of his woes, that some months ago a woman entered his roundhouse and cast a spell upon himself and his warriors. She claimed that she had come to claim that which was rightfully hers. When the men awoke the next morning they discovered that the chieftains only daughter had been taken and that several warriors had been slain whilst guarding the gate against the abductors.
Colgan had never been the same since the death of his wife Derbhla some sixteen years previously. He became morose and took to drinking Uisce.
Thus it was that he was not fit to retrieve his abducted daughter. Instead he sent off his six sons to find her. They did not return and neither did a larger group of the village warriors who went after them.
Colgan offers the hand of his daughter to the man who can return her to her father's bosom.For any other he offers only gold, although he plays upon the characters enech/honour to convince them to go.

With the characters convinced to travel to Gleann Siamh to rescue
Derbhla from the wicked witch it is time to set the scene.

Colgan MacBehmish had never been popular as a child. The other boys laughed at his lack of physical prowess and the girls chided him for his churlish temperament and his ill favoured appearance.
Colgan was, as his father put it, "the runt of the litter and with a face that only a mother could love". His mother, Fachna, loved him very much. His birth had been difficult and she regarded his very survival as a gift from the Goddess.His father, Behmish, wanted a strapping son to brag about in the Alehouse and never made any secret of his disappointment in the boy.
When Colgan was ten years old he was forced to begin fending for himself. His mother had taken a fever and died during one particularly harsh winter. His father had taken to drinking Uisce like a fish takes to water.
Despite his best efforts he never could gain the acceptance of his father. What was worse was that Behmish, a well respected warrior, was gradually wearing away his enech until finally he drowned his sorrow by drowning himself in the village duckpond.
Colgan, now 14 years old, slipped away from the village and ran away into the lands of Ulaidh. There at Rath Grainne he found work as a swineherd on the slopes of the mountain known as Sliabh Mis. Over the next few years he gained some recognition among the locals as a huntsman and he came to be known as Colgan Cionnach(the fox). Yet this small recognition was not enough to wipe away the pain of not being accepted by his father nor the shame of having fled from his home instead of standing up to face his problems like a true man of the Sessair.
He resolved to travel to Ailech, for was that not where fools went according to the old adage.
It was in the town of Baileseannach that he first heard of the beautiful Derbhla of the Golden tresses. She was the daughter of a Sessair Chieftain named Ciotach of the hundred heads. His stronghold lay some two days journey to the west on a rocky promomtory overlooking the great western ocean.
It appeared that this Ciotach's sons had all died in battle, two with the sea devils of Lochlann and one against the wild hill folk of Connachta. An old man now, it was unlikely that the Goddess would bless him with another son and thus he sought to find a suitable husband for his wilfull daughter.
A spoilt child, Derbhla would not easily submit to her fathers wishes. She believed that she was capable of ruling Dun Earai in her own right and had thus far refused all proposals.Her doting father had thus far indulged her but despite his unwillingness to fly in the face of tradition and force the issue, his patience was wearing thin.
Colgan knew that in all likelihood his proposal of marriage would likewise be refuse, after all, what could a simple swineherd offer the daughter of a chieftain.
From the locals of Baileseannach he discovered that a hidden glen existed along the Gleann Mor(the main valley linking Cruachu and DunEarnai through the Beanna Gorm mountains).
In this hidden vallley, known as Gleann Siamh dwelt a coven of witches. It was said that they could make anything come to pass if a man were willing to pay their price. Their price was dire, but as Colgan stood before the entrance of their cave he found himself entering into a pact with them.
In return for their help in winning the hand of the fair Derbhla,he must give up his firstborn girl child for their cooking pot.
Despite his horror at the prospect, Colgan agreed.
He was given a potion which would make him appear to Derbhla as a man of such unequalled charm,wit and looks that she might never see his likes again. This would work for seven years at the end of which the truth would be revealed and it was likely to lead to great unhappiness. Fortunately, all he had to do was scratch his love behind her knee and a further period of seven years of wedded bliss would follow.
It was to the astonishment of all gathered that the proposal of a simple huntsman from Airgialla was accepted. She had turned down Lorchan the Swan,most handsome of all the Sessair and Breacan the Raven,known to be the most thoughtful.Ciotach believed that his daughter was up to
something but as ever he decided to humour her.He was just glad that she had finally chosen a husband.
In the following year Derbhla bore him six strong sons.It appeared to Colgan that he was not destined to sire a daughter and that he could avoid the terms as set by the witches. THen in the seventh year Derbhla bore him a girl child. The child was named Aoife and Colgan's heart was fit to break.He had imagined that it would be easy to give up the girl child, his main concern was to father sons and warriors, but when the child smiled at him and pulled at his hair he was smitten. Somehow, he would avoid his promise andhe would not give up the child to the cooking pot of the witches of Gleann Siamh.
At this point, I suppose it is time to reveal that the intention of the Witches of Gleann Siamh was never to put the child into their cooking pot. The idea that they were cannibalistic hags was used by them to prevent local tribesfolk from coming to them with petty problems.
If the people believed that the payment was dire then only those in the direst need would bother them.
The baby Aoife was destined like those before her to be spirited away and indoctrinated as a witch in the service of the Goddess.

The tragedy unfolds as Colgan Cionnach brings the daughter of a cumal to the cave at Gleann Siamh. It is his intention to pass this child off as his own. Happy that Colgan has redeemed his part of the bargain, the coven set to oohing and aahing over the infant before they realise that this is not his child. Taking advantage of their momentary confusion, he falls upon them in a murderous rage cleaving all three before they have time to defend themselves.
Back in Dun Earnai, the enchantment wears out. In his hurry to destroy the witches Colgan has not realised that it is exactly six years since the potion was consumed. Weeping and wailing at what she has endured Derbhla throws herself from the promontory into the rocks and roaring breakers. In her anguish she has not revealed that which has broken her sanity but she curses Colgan that his dishonesty will come back to haunt him before plunging to her death.
At the exact moment that she dies,a witch stirs upon the floor of the cave in Gleann Siamh, the final blow having failed to kill her outright.
Colgan returns in triumph to Dun Earnai carrying the cumal's child and expects all to be well. Instead he finds that his wife is dead and like his father before him., he slips into a life of apathy and Uisce.

As the witch lay upon the floor of the cavern she uttered a prayer to the Goddess. She begged that Ceredwin the Hag would let her live long enough to take vengeance for the death of her sisters. Her prayer was answered and she recovered although she was irrevocably changed.
As she fled south across the lands of the Falians she discovered a pair of small knobbly growths at her temples. By the time she had found sanctuary in the Titan lands these had grown into curling rams horns. She had been transformed into a horned hag.
Seeking allies in her quest for revenge she took for a lover,if that is the right term, a titan warrior named Gruumaarsh. From him she begat two sons whom she named Mordach and Murtyred, half titan bruisers who were unquestionably loyal to their mother.
Sixteen years later she returned to Gleann Siamh to seek her retribution. Colgan, Chieftain of Dun Earnai would pay his end of the bargain. He would give up his firstborn daughter, and now she would go into the cooking pot. She might let her boys have a little time with her first though, but then again she had always taught them not to play with their food.
He would also pay for deaths of her sisters threefold, with the lives of his six sons. She would then leave him to live, haunted by the knowledge that
his own actions had brought about the destruction of his family.
Using her Hag Sorcery,the Hag known as Anais Dorcha entered the great roundhouse at Dun Earnai and put to sleep all within using her spinning wheel. Her sons, now strapping fifteen year olds carried the unconscious Aoife away. An attempt by several guards at the gate to bar their path led to several casualties.
The next day, the six brothers clad themselves for war and set off to Gleann Siamh. Their fate and the fates of all who followed was that their souls would be trapped in their mangled corpses forever as the half dead guardians of Gleann Beg.
Aoife remains alive and unharmed. The Hag feeds her well as she is now intended for the stew pot. No further warriors have come and there are nearly two dozen half dead guarding the Glen's entrance. Her sons have waited for long enough, tonight they can have their fun with the girl and tomorrow she becomes dinner.
Enter the PC's.