|You may approach the figure by the tree, and ask if it was they you saw in the city and watching the
tourney, if you will. The figure looks up, and beneath the hood you see the face of a young woman.
Unlike the more refined folk in the wealthier parts of the city her skin is tanned and slightly
weathered from exposure to the elements, but she has none of the manner of a slave about her,
rather she looks at you with stern eyes of authority. She stands and walks over to a group of trees,
including willow and aspen, and commands you to follow. Within the tress is a pond, frozen over with
clear ice. Look into the ice and behold what you see - your reflection fades and beneath the ice you
skry another world. Misty water and flames of light as strange dark boats row across the water, each
carrying men to battle. They fly an eagle standard and are well-armed with short swords, spears,
shields, helms and mail shirts, each equipped just like the others. Horsemen ride their swimming
steeds across the fierce waters. On the far shore their enemy awaits them - charioteers flaunt their
skills and taunt the approaching army. Fierce men painted with woad and with lime-spiked hair and
fierce women with locks flowing as they send out curses in strange words, and among them, a line of
white figures in hoods chanting a strange song that echoes across the waters, rising and falling like
the waves, rising and falling with ever greater ferocity as the winds howl and the waves threaten the
landing craft. The chanting of the robed figures would invoke fear in all but the most fortified of
hearts that have travelled afar to these strange islands on the Edge of the World.
The scene shifts, the troops have landed, save those whom the waters claimed, and their formidable
commander has rallied their courage which had all but failed. Onward they march in strict array, wall
and roof of shields with rows of spears projecting. The defenders' missiles have little effect against
these well-knit units of well-drilled and battle-hardened veterans. They return fire with volleys of
javelins that break upon impact, so they cannot be returned, and all the while they march
relentlessly forwards. Their enemy, fierce warriors, with great swords, finely wrought, throw
themselves into battle to defend their lands from these foreign invaders, dodging spears to meet
short swords stabbing out from the shield wall toward their hearts. Many of these fierce and brave
warriors fall against this machine of foreign men which tramples the dead and dying, pressing ever
harder against their ranks, with steel discipline and renewed resolve. Pressed against the shields to
meet stabbing swords as those behind them face rows of spears. With no room to maneouver these
brave and fierce woad-painted warriors fall with terrifying efficiency, claiming but few of their enemy.
The chariots are the defenders' best weapons, but many have met the enemy cavalry or been
ruined by bolts fired from powerful engines. They fight bravely, but the chariots are too few and the
invaders know their tactics well, and yet the defenders know too little about the newcomers who have
defeated all their tactics with well rehearsed routines. The invaders, having regained their resolve
and thus broken the spells that the chanting priests and priestesses had cast upon them, have
become a butchering machine, churning through the ranks of their enemy, relentlessly. The battle is
won. The defenders route, those in robes stand their ground but offer no more resistance as they
are slaughtered. Marching on, the invaders slay men, women and children, any living creature that
stands before them is butchered. Finally they set the ancient and sacred oak trees alight and throw
captured enemy upon the fire. The cruel deed is done, the defenders are almost all destroyed, their
lands conquered, their children slaughtered, their religion almost totally destroyed, and their natural
heritage torn from them. The invaders would sooner be elsewhere, but they obey their orders.
The vision fades. You have glimpsed the Edge of the World in the distant past. Still you can hear the
sighs and wails of the beaten carried upon the wind. You look toward the horizon, a terrible
mourning, a lamentation so intense echoes across the waters and hills. It is just as well that it is far
and distant, for it grappled with you heart and if heard more clearly might squeeze the life out of it.
You see a pale blue light upon the horizon, beyond the hills. You look at the robed woman, the
Sidhe still mourn when they remember these and other terrors past, she tells you.
So, do you want to know who this woman is? She is a druid. For many years she has studied the oral
traditions in poem and song, but she is one of the last of her kind. A few survived when the sacred
island that was the home of their principal college and the heart of their lands was invaded, for the
invaders, who were the XIV Gemina, had no sooner arrived when they were called away to fight
rebellion elsewhere in the Western Isles, much to the frustration of their stern commander. It was a
clash of two great civilisations, and though the invaders had brought elite troops which were almost
unstoppable in battle, they were few in number and hard-pressed and their great empire was bought
close to peril by these strange, cold islands on the Edge of the World. The skill of their legions and
above all of their generals won them the battle and the druids and their tradition, which was an oral
one and not committed to writing, had been largely destroyed and faded from history.
The woman begins to weep. She knows that the days of her kind are numbered. They shall be
remembered as savages and barbarians, for history is ever written by the victors. As for the sacred
oaks, many have since gone and many more shall fall, but some still bear green shoots that may yet
bear seed. Who is that upon the hill over yonder? A white hooded figure where the orb had been,
another druid? Or perhaps this was the figure that you followed earlier? Rushing over to the hill, you
come across the entrance of a barrow or tumulus. The figure, of course, has already moved on and
out of sight. Upon the crest of the hill, what can you see out to the West?
|People of the Duir
|Somewhere out there in the mist to the West are the Fortunate Isles, as you are very close to the
Edge of the World. Where the Sun never sets and where nobody labours in the fields since apple
trees grow there in abundance of their own accord. Legend has it that the Children of Dana, the
Tuatha de Danaan (thoo'a-haw day danawn) came from those undying lands on a ship carried upon a
cloud. The Druids claimed that their knowledge was handed down to them from the Children of Dana
and some claim direct descent. When the Celtic tribes came to conquer these lands they used words
of power to part the magic mists that veiled the land from outsiders and defeated the Children of Dana
in battle. Being lovers of peace, the Tuatha de Danaan decided not to continue the war and they
again used their magic to veil themselves and their world, even deeper from mortal view, and only
ventured to the mortal lands to teach the Celts their wisdom and their Arts. Now, humanity is forgetting
even the words of the Druids and the mists of time are closing in once and for all. So it is, that over
the ages the Children of Dana have passed to the other side, back from whence they came, but it is
said that their spirits still visit the burial mounds and the Women of the Sidhe still mourn the loss of
what once was and what could have been. Wow to those who hear the mourning of the Women of the
You stand at the entrance to the burial mound. It is simply supported by three stones that form the
portal's frame. The wind howls within the chambers, or is it the mourning of the Sidhe?
Dare you enter?