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These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

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Destiny IX - Wickerman

It's been a while back and I've been a bit busy, but I'll still write something about my latest Dummnoni event: Destiny IX. The event was set in a sacred druidic grove, somewhere on Faerie where we had gathered for the passing ritual of Dana the Vigilant, clanleader of the Arkeesh and priestess of Ogma and Owen of the Golden Tongue, Bard of the Free Races. Both have a very long Dummnoni history but had been slain during Celtwood.

Maddox, my character, and Tegwen, Brenda's character, had both been there when they fell, so we assisted Go'Ban, clanmember to Dana and Owen in bringing their bodies back home.

The event was held in Bladel, which meant (OC) camping in the forest, having Dixies instead of real toilets and no drinking water on site (They brought in jerricans of water instead). Not very comfortable, but it worked fine for me. The IC area were some nice and grassy connected clearings in the nice and big woods. Very nice woods, also with lots and lots of good firewood.

Unfortunately, due to the extreme drought during the weeks before, we were allowed to make only one fire, inside half an oil drum. So, we had a large number of nice looking IC camps with no fire. Since most people had accounted on cooking fires for their evening meals, we had a whole bunch of tripods with cooking pots attached lining up before the fire, waiting for a spot to be free (I counted at least four, probably five). Nice :-)

Passing ritual

Anyhow, the passing ritual for Dana and Owen went well, a number of people said their sayings and told their stories in remembrance. The ritual was finished by the high druids of the grove, who preserved the memories and knowledge gathered by Owen of the Golden Tongue in a specially devised crystal.

This is where the trouble started. On their way out, Marrol, one of my Dummnoni clansmen attacked somebody. Who exactly I cannot remember from the chaos, but when the disorder had somewhat subsided, the chest carrying the memory stones was missing. Somebody had apparently stolen it in the confusion.

A search party was sent out, together with Bormo, one of the Fey that had come to witness the passing ritual. Partly guided by his magic, we chased after the memory stones, only to find some kind of portal in the woods. We suspected the thief to have fled through it, but the portal was locked. Bormo suspected that there would be a marble orb nearby, which would function as a key. We searched, but found none.

Meanwhile, the Sea Wolves had left to investigate something in the woods (A light? A sound? I'm unsure...). When it took them so long to get back, Maddox and Tegwen followed them to check out what took them so long. Then, I'm not really sure how it happened, we ended up at the other end of the portal. We were no longer in the peaceful and green druidic woods, but in pale and dark marshes we would later learn to be named the Swamps of Despair.

There we refound the Sea Wolves, who were trying to free a woman chained to a tree. She claimed to be an apprentice to the druids, captured by the Lords of Ruin (A "clan" of thieves and thugs, impersonating other clans), as she named them, who had also stolen powerful and sacred herbs from the druids. My memory is a bit sketchy on details of her story, though.

Those Lords of Ruin were gathered in a circle of torches when we approached them. A few other creatures appeared, some mindless and zombielike, some claiming to be "just fearies", that wanted to take our "energy". The people in the circle tried to lure them into the circle, where they would take them out and apparently eat or at least remove their eyes and other entrails. It ended in us slaughtering them, what exactly triggered that I do not know. But, when we searched their bodies, we found only a scary looking (non-magical) mask and a note with the list of games played at Celtwood (which probably should not have been in there). So, none of the herbs the apprentice talked about. I'm not really sure if anyone asked her again about that, or where the woman went at all, so that was the end of that.

By the end of the battle, we were reinforced by others from the portal, to which they had finally found the key (I presume). We also found out that the circle drained Wyrd users completely of their energy, which had probably been the reason the Lords of Ruin (or whatever they were) tried to lure the creatures into the circle.

All this, however, brought us no closer to finding the lost memory stones, bringing again more questions than answers. So we ended up by the fire, passing around booze and telling stories about stags, water holes and heroes of old.

More Fomor!

The next day began peacefull, with everybody waking up and having breakfast by the fire. Our self-baked bread tasted wonderful with a big piece of cheese and some dried fruit I brought and I got my boot tops fixed by a leatherworker in camp. So far so good.

Somewhere during the day, some fighting erupted in the woods. Fomor had been lurking around and after most had been slain it became clear that the last one standing was again an ancient Fomor, next to invulnerable to our attacks. The last one I had seen was killed only by a sword blessed and sharpened at three different shrines, but we had only a shrine to Danu here (which had been created that morning, for there was none before).

It was not until the third time it attacked that the Norse clan who were there was around fast enough to dive into the action. Feygor, who had slain the ancient Fomor at Celtwood still carried Jurgend, the blessed sword. Yet since the fighting retreated into the dense woods, where he could not wield the large sword, we never found out if it still carried power.

During the day, Marrol (who had been acting a bit strange, as if posessed, also tending to heal his wounds very quickly even from after the point where he died) got captured by the Fomor. Together with Eli and the bard of the Usipeti whose name I can't remember, we charged through the portal, past the fighting to kill the Fomor guarding Marrol and carry him back out. Unfortunately, there were too many pieces of Marrol around to have any hope left of him not being completely dead and we were forced to retreat back through the portal. Interestingly, we never found Marrol's body (parts) when we went back later, so we can't be completely sure what happened to him then.

Good wolfy, nice wolfy

Throughout the day, we found some pieces of a drawing, containing some kind of plan for building a wickerman of sorts. We also found a big roll of wicker that the Fomor were carrying. Partly because we did not want the Fomor to build a wickerman to do who knows what and partly because we though we could perhaps put it to good use, we decided to collect pieces of wicker ourselves. We found out the Fomor had hidden three of them in the swamps, so we set out to collect those after dinner.

For we expected a lot of Fomor resistance on our way back to the portal, we arranged for spending the night at Dormat's house in the swamp, a queer fellow some of us had heard about in the swamps. There would be some kind of festivities, a coming of age for one of his daughters (for he had many daughters and wives, some of them perhaps both daughter and wife...).

After a difficult walk through the swamps (during which we found all three wickers, which kind of amazed me in pitch dark), we found out we had lost Maggie, one of the Usipeti clan along the way. We soon found out where she had went: She was seated next to Dormat himself and announced as his wife-to-be.

This obviously resulted in protests, especially from Maggie's Usipeti clanmembers and her husband, Eli of the Usipeti. Yet since we had accepted Dormat's offer for hospitality in his own home, we could not just use our advantage of numbers to settle this issue by sword. Dormat insisted we let it rest and at least enjoy some entertainment first. Stories were told, songs were sang, even by the Usipeti in attempt to bargain.

I have not witnessed all, for I In the end, they must have agreed to let Maggie go free and let Dormat marry a slave girl instead. We had found her by the road earlier that day where she claimed to have dropped of her masters cart and proclaimed Go'Ban her new master.

After the ceremony, we gathered outside where Dormat announced his consumation of his marriage. We didn't quite know what to expect and hoped he would just mean to kiss his bride or something harmless like that. Earlier that night, we had learned Dormat was supposedly master of shapeshifters and he had introduced his other guests as members of the Fen Ris clan, known as vicious wolf shapeshifters worshipping the god Fen Ris. When Dormat drew his new wife close and suddenly took a big bite from here, a bunch of pieces suddenly fell into place.

His new wife had become a werewolf of sorts and after threatening us and in particular Tegwen, Maddox's wife, she sped off into the woods to find her first prey (yuck, fake blood stinks! ;-p). We then quickly left the place, no longer wishing to spend the night amongst wolfkin.

On our way back, we encountered a dead Tuatha de Danaan, who had been killed in the swamps long before. He explained that those killed in the swamps would not find their rest there, haunting forever as a walking corpse as did he. He spoke of legacies and stories long past and of courage and valor. I'm not really sure if he really blocked our way, but he wished to experience life again as he had not done for a long time. He fought a one on one duel with one of the Sea Wolves, which the Tuatha lost. In return, he would answer one of our questions, though I remember question nor answer.

We passed on, while the Tuatha followed us. He spoke a companion or friend of his who had als been stuck in the swamps, but had found some way to get out and be free (If my memory serves me right). When we finally reached the portal (after surviving a small Fomor ambush) we apparently found some way to force the Tuatha (did anyone catch his name?) through the portal.

We carried his body on to the shrine to Danu where a small ritual of passing was held for him, all those years after his death. I did not attend the ritual, for I was too exhausted from the night (again, carrying my armour all night long...).

We went to sleep tired but safe back in our own camps, with a big pile of wicker ready.

Watch out for the Wickerman!

Somewhere at Dormat's we found out that the ancient Fomor plagueing us could be weakened by letting a giant wickerman draw upon his strength. A wickerman is normally a sacrifice to call for fertility for the grounds around it, and is burnt in the process. We were to collect pieces of hair, skin and other things the ancient would be attached to and place them on the wickerman.

While others went out to collect pieces of ancient Fomor, Go'ban and myself started with the pieces of wicker to build ourselves a wickerman. We used a big "catapult-shaped" log (upside down) for the core and tied the wicker around it. The Usipeti assisted with attaching everything and furnishing a head from fabric with a face painted on.

We set up the Wickerman in the woods, near the Danu shrine and attached the collected pieces of ancient to it. Not long thereafter, Fomor were swarming the woods, but the wickerman was burning high (Unfortunately, due to the drought, we couldn't really fire up the wickerman, which would have been so cool...). I had been wounded twice before that weekend and had promised both Hrafna, who had patched me up, and Tegwen that I would not get hurt again. So, I kept low from the battle and was on my way escorting a healer back to the camp where someone lay wounded.

Halfway there, I was charged upon by a Fomor carrying a dagger. After I landed a decent blow on him he managed to continue his charge and get within my reach, pushing himself against me trying to pierce me with his dagger. I dropped my sword and focused on keeping his dagger away from my skin. His blows were mostly succesfully blocked by my hands on his wrist combined with the chainmail I was carrying. When I thought I had finally mastered him, he drew a second dagger with his other hand, which gave me a few serious wounds before I caught his other arm as well.

I'm not really sure if I managed to kill him with his own daggers, strangle him or someone dragged him off me, but I woke up back in camp with a Sea Wolf healer binding me. I passed out a few times, but with the blessing of Danu managed to drag myself over to the Usipeti camp for resting and sharing of information.

It turned out the ancient Fomor was slain and none were mortally wounded. My memory is a bit fuzzy regarding the end of the weekend, but we found the memory stones and everything turned out pretty much right. So, looking forward to the next Destiny :-)

Brenda wrote at 2007-05-27 18:56

The memory stones were indeed found again by... the Usipeti if I recall correctly, who hid them somewhere. Hrafna sorted out which one was the one with Owen's memories in it. Then some High Druid servants/students came to collect the rest of the stones and warned us for mortal danger. Which hastened us in building the wickerman.

Or something like that. :p

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