37). Darkness be The Burier of the Dead
NOTE: These are adventure seeds and setting work for my own Hyperborea campaign inspired by the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea Gazetteer
"Must we start our fight
Groaning over corpses?
Come what may
Let us enter the ford
To meet death before the hosts
With bloody spear-blade
Or the savage sword
If our time has come."
Cuchulainn - from "The Tain"
With the destruction of Galla chaos spread among the Galla Hills and among all the Keltic people as the struggle for who would become Over-King now that Srubdaire the ruler of Galla was dead. Four men contend to sit beneath the blessed tree where the ruler would be enthroned and crowned with leaves of oak. Scathach and Uathach and Aif and the man called Son of Daman.
Many times in the past had the division between Kelt and Kelt brought misery to the people and enemies down upon the Keltic lands as they fought between each other. The holy druids had united from clan to clan, tribe to tribe and the law of oak and stone prevailed over the foolishness of chiefs and kings.
The fight for the Crown of Leaves, as the title of Over-King is called among the Kelts, is now formalized and the combatants meet with only a small company of bodyguards and followers to engage in combat at sacred fords where the waters will wash away the blood spilled by Kelt fighting Kelt. Pugnacious and always ready for a fight every village headman and chieftain of a minor tribe set forth to do battle much to the dismay of the druids and wise men among the clans.
It was on Bealltainn night that the witch-fire was firsts seen. The Druids had set the holy fire at Ur-Uisneach, the blessed hill, and as the fire was lit an unholy blaze was seen far up the slopes of the mountains to the east. A chill wind was felt and a howl like the cry of lost souls was heard. An inauspicious omen, but one that proved itself too readily while the Keltic lands reeled and their leaders struggled for power.
Like a swarm of beasts the Picts fell upon the eastern valleys. What power, what cursed magic they had used, none can say, but from the far north-west of Hyperborea they have come to raid and plunder the Keltic people. The Son of Daman has set aside his quest for the Crown of Leaves and struggles alone with only his own followers against the Picts. His horsemen have left a bloody furrow across their advancing line of raiders but he alone cannot stop them.
Here is a quest for heroes to stand perhaps beside the Son of Daman or, at the urging of the Druids, find the source of the Witch-Fire among the eastern mountains and cut off the tide of Picts who now press against the disunited defenders of Galla.