[THE HINTERLANDS, 2 DAYS FROM PORT DAWSON; APRIL 5, 2018 (WR)]
The column proceeded slowly along the road to Port Dawson, trekking amidst a grey land of drizzle, mist and a vanished sun.
Her newly wedded husband rode beside her, chatting away with his cousin about his latest experiments with “turkey bacon”. Grugach Cu Gohrrim was always prone to amusing matters like that and that made him more tolerable than the affair itself. It was a political marriage rather than one of love, a joining of the most powerful Clans in the Bog – represented by the wedded couple’s closest of kin.
Love and affection mattered less to them as much as the support of their families…or what passed for a family among Clan Nemain. Aemon Mac Nemain did not believe in love nor was she inclined for anything beyond her research and her spellcraft. But Gru was tolerable, acceptable and even amiable and he found her much the same and more. In the end, everyone got what they wanted: Gru got acceptance among his war-like kin, Aemon was one step closer to her goal and the Clans received an alliance strong enough to shake the foundations of Morread. And of course, the couple had each other — which was more comfort than she expected from it.
Now that the wedding was over, the long journey back to Morread across road and sea awaited them. Breakwater was much farther than their original venue of Freehold, but she had convinced him and their families of the change – and judging by the rumors of what had just happened, she was right. The most arable of lands in the region lay in Morread’s northern border, split between the Gohrrim and the Jotunbrud Chainers and fattened by the constant bloodshed of infrequent raiding. That would be Aemon’s new home – though she did not expect to stay in it overlong due to the demands of her research. Perhaps, arrangements can be made for a change of scenery…
Grugach stopped and the column stopped with him. Despite the marriage and the alliance, both the Clans of Gohrrim and Nemain still regarded each other with some distance. Both had fearsome reputations and centuries of feuding that no amount of drink and merriment could absolve. It did not help that a fair number of Aemon’s cousins were burdened with no small amount of demonic or umbral grafts, becoming more horrific entity than elf.
Angry mutterings came from the back of the column, no doubt a Gohrrim clansman suspecting the other faction’s treachery. They were loud like that. A proper Nemain would seethe quietly rather than voice their disquiet, except for that ass-mouth Kelder (who was definitely not invited).
Aemon’s mind was quickly changed when Gru called for weapons. Both Clans drew swifter than an adder’s bite then faced away from each other, peering into the mist and rain and leafy boughs.
After a few pregnant moments, their doom revealed itself. It came for them quickly, as beasts, plants and frenzied Druids launched themselves upon the Bogfolk. The air was soon filled with warcries and howling and screeching. When her kinsfolk, new and old, began to turn on one another instead of the enemy before them – Aemon knew better than to stay. She grabbed Gru but was slapped off of her horse by a strength she had never seen from him.
As she strained to raise her ringing head from the mud, Aemon looked up to watch her husband stride toward her, an alien fury in his gaze. And then suddenly, he was gone — backhanded into the treeline by a towering monstrosity that was both wolf and man and neither. She called desperately for the energies of her spell, but her mind instead was filled by the words she had discovered in her latest research into the Druids:
Awaken the Sundering Storm!
Awaken the Ancient Fury!
He who breaketh the works of Men and Mortals,
Morrath the Destroyer!