The Life of Renny Conchobair

Story By: Benjamin Foley

Preface

The following is a work of fiction loosely based around Irish, Britain, Norse mythology, and the lore of the Classic MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot.

Our story takes place in a remote region of Ireland known as Emain Macha. Within Emain Macha lived a thriving village of Leprechauns by the name of Failte. The villagers were peaceful and renowned craftsmen who's work could not be surpassed by that of man. They followed the old Fae ways of protecting mankind and doing no harm upon them. They cared not for war and violence and spent their time crafting trinkets, clothing and mead.

While the Albion and Hibernian war raged both sides depended on the craftsmanship and commerce provided by this small village. That is until the snow began to fall and a new player entered the stage. This is where our story begins.

Chapter I: The Dagger & The Rose

A flower withered in the winter cold as little Renny Conchobair playfully threw snowballs at his sister Uan. The two danced across the fields of Emain Macha like the flowers of a thistle blowing in the wind. For this was the first time either of them had ever seen snow touch the land. As they hid from each other attempting to get the upper hand Uan can across a fheirdhris dearg. It was a rare plant which only grew in Emain Macha. It was a deep red color with 5 petals and a wondrous scent. It was their mothers favorite. The two picked a few to take home to their mother.

From their village they could hear their mother Tessie call out to them that dinner was done. The two raced back to the village of Failte giggling playfully and singing lullabies their mother had taught them.

They arrived home and sat for dinner impatiently as usual, Uan gave her mother Tessie the flowers and with a huge grin Tessie accepted them and gave her thanks. As she carried on busily among the fire she asked Renny and Uan if they knew why the fheirdhris dearg was only found in Emain Macha, whereas the common fheirdhris is found throughout Hibernia.

She went on to tell them a story of a leprechaun by the name of Fheirdhris who fell in love with a moral by the name of Roisin. They spent the morning hours together every day watching the sun rise dreaming of a life together far far away. But the Fae and Mortals were forbidden to be together and the Hibernia King ordered Roisin to be taken and locked away in a cell for her affections towards the Fae.

In an act of rage Fheirdhris broke the sacred Fae oath and slayed his love's captors. But the cost was great. For a leprechaun to spill the blood of a mortal breaks the scared Fae oath, which prohibits them from taking life of another. As punishment, he would be banished from the afterlife in the otherworld and forever be trapped here in Hibernia.

After hearing of this Roisin sought out the Fae council and pleaded for mercy. The Fae would not accept her plead without a blood sacrifice of her own. She was to sacrifice her own life so that he may enter the otherworld once again. In exchange she would be allowed to enter the otherworld and await his arrival.

That night as she embraced her love she gave him a single white flower with 5 petals. Roisin named this flower Fheirdhris after her greatest love. She then told him that this was her love and wherever he looked upon them she would be. That night she disappeared into the fields and was never seen again. In the same field where she vanished grew the blood red fheirdhris dearg as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice she gave to her true love Fheirdhris.

She went on to say that true love is worth dying for and the fheirdhris dearg is there to remind us of that.

With the conclusion of the story Tessie placed their supper on the table. As if supper itself had called his name in came their father, Conway. He placed his bag of lockpicks and levers on the floor and whispered to Renny that he would one day show him how to pick locks so that he too may become a legendary locksmith. Renny's eyes lit up and he said, "But father I already know how to pick locks." Without a moment's pause Renny dove into his room and returned with an old rusty lock and 2 metal shavings he took from Blacksmith Cory's shop. Conway smiled with pride as within two moments flat Renny had that lock open. Renny smiled with glee and said "See father I shall be as great as ye someday!" Tessie then replied "No Renny… ye shall be even greater! Just eat ye supper and grow strong minded like ye father and Anu will smile upon ye." Conway grabbed Tessie playfully and kissed her firmly on the lips. Laughter filled the room and they began to eat and Renny tucked away his metal shavings into his pocket.

Night fell and the clatter of the village slowly quieted. Children were tucked into bed and torches quenched, but not all was calm. Far in the distance a clatter of hooves could be heard. The night watch looked to the northeast valley to see what looked like a small band of the King's men riding on horseback towards Dun na nGed. The watchmen smiled and raised a small cheer. Covey, one of the night watchmen, walked alongside his brother and fellow watchman Daire talking about a young lass he had met in a nearby village. Covey saw a movement from the corner of his eye and turned to see what it was. A sudden swishing noise followed by a warm and wet feeling rushed over his face. As he turned towards his brother, he let out a gasp of surprise as he noticed his brother's head was missing. Covey began to feel light-headed and momentarily had the odd experience of looking at his own headless body from the ground up.

A horn sounded and the villagers rushed to seal their gates, but before they could, the band of Norse had entered the village. A Kobold on a horse lined with gold rode into village and yelled something in a foreign tongue. The Norse rounded up the adult villagers, slaughtering all who did not comply with their commands. From the houses came Trolls carrying children, tossing them one by one into a cage used for keeping livestock and the occasional criminal.

Conway and Tessie rushed into Renny and Uan's room and urged them quickly into the souterrain. Uan began to cry and Renny tried to calm her down, placing his hand over her mouth. A Troll kicked in the door to their house and Renny heard their mother scream as their parents were carried off to the town hall. The clanging of metal could be heard from the floor above, and the door leading to the souterrain opened. A Troll, ugly even as trolls go, with half of one ear missing and a scar from ear to chin, descended, blocking any retreat and chuckling softly to himself. Renny and Uan were taken and placed in a cage with the village's other children.

After all were collected the Kobold dismounted from his horse and laughed as he approached the cage full of children. A tall Norseman stood near and asked in the Albion tongue, "Lord Garn, what will ye have us do with these?" Garn looked and smiled at the crying children and then said, "Feed them to the Goblins. They look to be rather tasty." Renny moved to the front of the cage and spat into Garn's face. Garn growled and grabbed the boy by the throat, pressing his face against the bars. Garn's voice rumbled, "I shall enjoy watching you die, little one." Renny replied "Póg mo thóin!" The children began to laugh as Garn threw the smiling Renny down. He turned and grabbed a torch from the guard and threw it onto the thatch roof of the town hall. As fire began to spread over the hall, the desperate cries of the villagers began to fill the hills of Emain Macha.

The Norse began to laugh nervously as Garn walked back through them towards the gates of town. Garn stopped to confer with a stranger, though Renny could not make out whom. The guard, the same half-eared troll who had captured them, went over to help contain the people trying to flee the burning town hall. The engulfed body of Tessie crawled from under the hall. She stumbled as far as she could, yelling at the top of her lungs, "Anu smiles upon ye Renny!" Time stood still as the world faded to gray. Tessie's charred body fell slowly to the floor with one hand reaching towards Renny. Her body lay still as the Norsemen and Trolls joked and laughed at the burning corpse.

Uan looked into Renny's glazed over eyes and patted his pocket, feeling the 2 shreds of metal. Renny's head drifted towards his sister as she nodded. Renny knew if he was to ever be as good as his father he had better start right now. He hastily went to work on the lock and within a few moments the lock broke free. As the Norse watched the pyre that had once been the Town Hall, the tortured screams dwindled to silence. The children made their way unseen out the back gates of town and into the hills cloaked by night.

By the time Garn realized the children were gone they were already half way to Dun na nGed. As the children approached the town, the town guard rushed to their aid. Their tearful description of the horrors that had befallen Failte tore at the Guardian's hearts. The Chieftain of Dun na nGed ordered a contingent of guards to rush to the aid of the townsfolk, but it was too late. Ashes & ruins were all that remained. As they surveyed the carnage a guard yelled for attention and the General approached a burnt hut. There stood a thief starring with unfocused eyes and the foot of a staff driven cleanly through his head, piercing it and firmly securing him to the hut. A pool of blood trickled downhill towards the gates.

Back in Dun na nGed, Renny and Uan held each other mourning their loss and praying for Anu's help as the local womenfolk tried to comfort and console the hysterical children. Renny could not, would not, cry. The anger and rage that filled him would not allow the tears to flow. It sat in his heart like a lump of molten lava, waiting for a chance to spew forth.

A few days passed and Renny and Uan were allowed to visit the remains of their hometown. They left the gates of Dun na nGed and set course for the fallen village of Failte. They stumbled upon the soot-ridden remains of the hall searching for anything of their parents. Uan kneeled down, and around the neck of a charred corpse she found her father's medallion. Uan called to Renny and he rushed over. Renny pulled his fathers body close to his and said "Father, if it is in my last dying breath I shall set your soul at ease. These villains will pay." A single tear pierced his pride and trickled down his face as said, "Gráim thú Athair" which in his tongue meant "I love you father." He then looked up to Uan and said in a voice she had not heard before, a voice full of ominous intent, "From this day forward… Renny Conchobair is no more... I shall be known as Conchobair as Renny has died long ago. I will not rest until every follower of Garn is destroyed, and the day I slay the Kobold Garn." Uan grabbed her brother and embraced him.

By nightfall they had taken the remains of their father & mother into the northeast of Emain Macha, where the rest of their family had been buried. Conchobair dug a grave for his parents and Uan began to say a prayer. The bodies were placed and the children placed a stone at the head of each grave. A nearby bush provided single blood-red Fheirdhris Dearg for each grave, the only funeral-offering the children could supply. Conchobair held Uan's hand and said, "I will visit our parents once each moon no matter the risk. Ye have my word on that Uan." Uan smiled but said nothing.

Time passed and the children of Failte were scattered throughout the land. Some bounced from home to home while others ran away and dissolved into the land. Conchobair and Uan were placed in the care of a rich but self-centered old elf that only gave them a bed and a place to stay because he was trying to stay in favor with Fagan. He cared not for the children and often times would not even acknowledge their presence.

Within a month of his 15th year, Conchobair slipped away one night and disappeared into the woods. Thirteen-year-old Uan had begun taking lessons in scouting yet somehow found herself at the pub more often than not, tilting back grogs with her new friend Cnucha. Cnucha told her stories of the great god Goibniu, who created an ale so great that it granted the drinker eternal life. Months went by and not a sign of Conchobair could be found. He had become a ghost in the forest, the subject of occasional stories and tales.

Chapter II: The Awakening

Pitch black… silent as death… cold, cold wind… so very cold. Conchobair shivers and squints into the blackness. A sudden blast of heat washes over him and the indistinct flickering of flames in a fog brings a dim glow, lighting nothing but a few surrounding feet of nothingness. Conchobair draws a set of daggers from his belt and watches in amazement as they melt in his hand. He looks to the ground as the remains of his daggers bleed into the dirt. Soon after, blades of grass begin to sprout from ground at an unreal pace. The sounds of crackling fire and the terrified cries of thousands of people fill the air. The sky glows red and begins to bleed. Drops of blood fall from the red sky covering the newly spawned grass. The moon dimly reveals itself through the smoke and bursts into flame. The smell of burning flesh taunts the young boy now quaking in his boots.

Conchobair kneels down, covering his ears and squinting his eyes tightly closed. Suddenly, silence reigns again… Conchobair slowly looks up. Before him stands his mother. She looks to him with a loving gaze, but before she can say a word she bursts into flames. Her eyes reflect horror as she reaches for him, screaming, as the skin peels from her skull and falls in burning gobbets to the ground. As it lands on the ground, it turns to ash and blows away in the warm breeze. Her burning remains step towards him, extending her arms as if to embrace him. Her arms fall to the ground and shatter like glass, once again turning to ash and blowing away. She stumbles towards him and a strong gust of wind comes from behind her, bursting her body into a cloud of embers and ash that covers Conchobair. The screaming only continues to grow louder, as if it were coming from inside his own head. Conchobair's eyes stare wildly in terror as his body trembles and sweat pours from every pore. He squints his eyes, grabs his ears and shakes his head and begins to cry.

The scream fades, replaced by a soft crackling. A warm zephyr grazes his face as he opens his eyes once again. A ring of fire surrounds him. A hooded figure steps through the fire. He begins to roar with laughter as he points at the boy's pitiful tear-covered face. Conchobair's fear turns to rage as he attempts to lunge at the laughing specter but his feet have become stones and he cannot move. The creature makes a slit throat motion at the helpless youth and then vanishes behind the wall of fire. The fire spreads closer and closer to the boy. Conchobair screams as he is engulfed in flames and watches in horror as his own flesh burns away.

Conchobair's eyes snap open and he finds himself in a forest all alone, trembling and sweat-soaked. He staggers quickly to his feet, gasping for air, and draws his walking stick into a defensive stance. He slowly realizes it was all a dream. The nightmares won't cease. Taunted by his mother's death every night, Conchobair bears the torment of his fallen people. His head never stops pounding, his joints ache, and the memories won't go away. Conchobair collects his few belongings and sets forth on his trek to Emain Macha.

Hours later he comes across a village that had been recently destroyed. It had once been a Firbolg city. From what Conchobair could tell from smashed sign on the old destroyed stockade, the city used to be known as Darag. The manner of its destruction was all too familiar. His quarry had been here, and recently.

Conchobair rummaged through the remains of the city trying to find anything that might be usable in his quest. In one of the destroyed huts he found a ream of gossamer cloth and a spool of thread. He found a sewing kit, a tanning blade, and a few pieces of tanned leather. He brought all the supplies into the center of town and began piecing together his best attempt of a cloak and steeple hat. He needed to move among people without being recognized for who and what he was. He could disguise his form, and adopt different mannerisms, but he could not disguise the burning embers of fire in his eyes. Any person, friend or foe, who looked into his eyes would certainly see what lay there. His hat fit well, the wide brim shielding his eyes, although the craftsmanship was a bit less than professional. On his cloak he drew a crossed dagger and Fheirdhris Dearg, symbolizing vengeance and remembrance.

In another one of the collapsed buildings, which looked like the former blacksmith shop, Conchobair managed to retrieve a set of very used and rusted daggers. Nearby he found a well-used sharpening stone. Conchobair added these to his meager collection of things and continued his journey, disappearing into the wilderness. As he walked he carefully worked the sharpening stone against one of the worn and rusted blades.

During the first moon of the new season, a legendary nightshade known by the name of Murlix happened upon what appeared to be a small lad wandering in the woods. He was dressed in a raggedy old steeple hat and carried a walking stick. Murlix was about to continue on his way when he saw, or sensed, something in the way of the boy. He moved and scanned the surrounding woods that piqued his interest. His instinct convinced him to follow the boy, watching for evidence to back up his suspicion. For days he shadowed as close as he could without being seen, moving easily through the shadows and woods, increasingly convinced that his premonition had been correct. At the third nightfall the boy came across a lone Kobold standing at a fork of a road. He watched in amusement as boy began attempting to sneak up behind the Kobold, setting his stick onto the ground and drawing from his belt 2 rusty ol' daggers.

A moment later Murlix's Elven ears perked up at the sound of 5 horses galloping their way. Without hesitation Murlix slipped from his cover and rushed to the boy, grabbing him and covering his mouth while disappearing behind a tree. The boy kicked at Murlix who whispered, "quiet boy, unless you want to kill us both." The horses thundered into the clearing and drew to an impatient stop. The lone Kobold shouted something to the riders as he jumped onto the one riderless horse and rode off to the north with his four friends.

Murlix then placed the boy on the ground and bending to meet his eyes said quietly, "Ye have nice style and natural talent yet ye are clumsy in the same. If ye seek to slay the heathen that rot our land I should teach ye how to do it right." The boy looked at, and seemingly into, him and slowly nodded. Murlix then asked, "What is ye name boy?" The boy responded, "People call me Conchobair.". Murlix smiled and said, "Tis a pleasure to meet such a brave lad." Murlix straightened and said, "Come along, Lad". Eyes, he thought, there is something about the look in that boy's eyes...

The two traveled to the land surrounding Dun Dagda, and Murlix began showing Conchobair how to properly master the art of assassination, both with weapons and without. He introduced Conchobair to an associate, a nameless master in martial combat and bow fighting who had trained in the far east. Two years passed and the two grew extremely close. Murlix became like a father to Conchobair, knowing him well enough to be able to predict every action before it happened. Finally Murlix decided it was time… time to unsheathe the weapon Conchobair had become and let him get the taste of a warm blood in his mouth.

Murlix and Conchobair traveled north to Emain Macha, where they stumbled upon a small camp of Trolls. All were sleeping, except one troll on guard who seemed to have had a wee bit too much ale and was walking unsteadily around the camp. The two carefully scouted around the camp, looking for any who might be stirring. Murlix nodded to Conchobair, signaling him to go to work. The drunken troll walked over to a tree to relieve himself of the night's ale. He sagged against the tree, holding himself up with one arm while trying to unfasten his drawers with the other. Less than half the size of the drunken Troll, Conchobair crept unseen and unheard behind him. With a sharp thrust his first dagger snaked between the vertebrae of the Troll's lower back, severing his spine. Warm blood sprayed Conchobair's face as the Trolls eyes flew open and he tried to straighten. He failed as his legs refused to obey his mind's commands, and his face rasped down the rough bark as he slid to the ground. He drew a great breath to roar his pain, but the roar never came as the second blade snicked home at the base of his skull, ending thought and breath in an instant. The eyes closed and he was still. Conchobair began to smile. It wasn't a pretty smile. A moment later Conchobair jumped to his feet and walked over to a sleeping troll. He drew his Stiletto and thrust it smartly through the troll's neck, not only cutting through his jugular but also strangling him with the hilt in the process.

In a matter of moments the boy had slain all but one of the sleeping trolls. Blood dripped from his face and his lip quivered as a he gave a satisfied and somewhat maniacal smile. He had recognized this last Troll. He was dozing soundly, lying with his head on a log. A head with only half of one ear and a scar from ear to chin. This one was special. He drew his daggers and stepped over the Troll's head, straddling his neck. He sat heavily on the Trolls chest and booted him lightly in the side of the head. The Troll roused slowly, and opened his eyes. It took a few seconds to recognize what he saw. Curious. A child. Covered in something red and sticky. Sitting on his chest. Holding two daggers. And his eyes, glowing like embers. He knew those eyes...

Conchobair waited for the light of recognition in his quarry's eyes. He saw it, and struck.

The blades moved and the Troll closed his eyes tightly against the vision. That blocked the vision but not the sharpened steel as the twin blades plunged through his eye sockets and into his brain.

A twig snapped from behind Murlix and the elf remained completely still. Conchobair was gone. Murlix easily heard the heavy breathing of the approaching troll, and yet Murlix did not move. The troll raised his two-handed axe preparing to slice the apparently distracted elf in two. Right then the troll was startled by a tap on the shoulder from a long staff held by a very small boy. He turned and swung his axe at the boy who easily dodged the blow. Conchobair spun around, swinging the staff behind his back and snapped it smartly into the side of Troll's head, raising an angry welt. The Troll growled fiercely and swung his axe again at the boy. This time Conchobair rolled between the troll's legs, rising to his feet, jumping high, spinning, and thrusting his two daggers, one on each side of his head, directly into the troll's shoulders at the base of the neck. Conchobair ripped the daggers down the troll's back, causing blood to spray from the gaping wounds. A quick second thrust to the kidneys and outward slice carved the troll's back into an abstract artwork of blood and tissue.

The troll fell to his knees and howled in pain. Conchobair turned around slowly, and began making his way to the front of the weeping troll like a lynx stalking its prey. He twirled his daggers on his fingertips and then sheathed them on his belt. The now helpless troll grunted as blood spilled from his mouth. Conchobair stood in front of him and said "vengeance and remembrance". In a flash drew his dagger with his right hand, slicing deep through the troll's throat in a single motion. Before the body could rest still on the ground a twirling a single blood-red fheirdhris dearg soared from his left hand through the air and landed on the dead troll.

Conchobair then kneeled placed his dagger in his belt and began to say a prayer for his lost people. "Anu please guide my people to this troll's soul so that they may seek their revenge in the Otherworld for the acts committed. May their souls rest in peace knowing I have sought their vengeance." Conchobair rose to his feet and placed a single flower on each one of the dead trolls.

Murlix began to quietly give Conchobair a round of applause. Then said, "Well done Conchobair, I think ye have learned all I can teach you." Murlix pulled from his bag a cloth, which was concealing something. He handed it to Conchobair gently and said, "It is my honor to give ye these. May they bring peace to your people." Conchobair unfolded the cloth to see two gleaming polished steel stilettos in very good condition. Murlix smiled and said, "They are a gift from my blacksmith friend Giamond. I told him your story and he gave them to me for nothing in hopes they would help put ye people to rest." For the first time Murlix saw the boy smile without the fire of vengeance. He looked Murlix in the eye and gently said, "Thank you friend. I shall never forget ye."

The two parted ways as Murlix had to return to Dun Crauchon for his new assignment, and Conchobair decided to pay his parents' graves another visit. Conchobair traveled several days, passing destroyed village upon destroyed village along the way. His nightmares grew worse, and headaches became horrendous. He became dependant on feverfew tea to cure his pounding headaches. For the nightmares, however, there was no cure.

In the first full moon since he and Murlix parted ways he stumbled upon what looked to be a large encampment of Midgards. Conchobair quietly perched himself in a periwinkle bush on a hill. He watched as hundreds of Trolls, Kobolds, Norsemen, Dwarves, and Valkyns roamed the camp. Conchobair realized he had little to no chance of making even a small assault on the fortified encampment, but still he sat and waited and watched. Two days passed and Conchobair had barely moved. He studied every Midgard soldier picking out weaknesses and strengths.

At the first break of the third day horns could be heard from a distance. The Midgards rushed to the fortified walls and prepared for an assault. Within minutes an Albion force twice the number of the defenders slammed into the walls. Grapeshots flew through the air, shredding defenders, and burning lumps of oil and hay caused buildings to burst into flames. Rams began slamming the walls turning this once well-crafted fort into a pile of rubble.

Conchobair decided that he had best move from his position as it was a bit close and he had a good chance of being spotted. He began to creep by the burning fort and came across a Briton Cleric. Behind the Cleric, approaching very quietly as if to assassinate her was a Kobold Shadowblade. Conchobair growled quietly then sprinted toward the Cleric. The Cleric turned to see an enraged Lurikeen wielding two daggers flying at her at speed. Her heart fell to the floor and her eyes open widely. She then cringed and closed her eyes tightly expecting the pain of two daggers in her fragile body. Instead she heard the sound of three quick slashes, a loud crunching sound, and one loud thump. She opened her eyes to see a Kobold covered in blood and mutilated beyond recognition lying on the ground behind her, with a single blood-red Fheirdhris Dearg on his corpse. She quickly turned to see the boy on the hill tip his somewhat odd-looking steeple hat at her, and then disappear into the wilderness.

Conchobair watched as a small group of Norse fled out the back gates and into the northern hills. He quickly made his way up a hill where he could see where they were heading and began tracking their movements. The first nightfall Conchobair snuck into their camp and quietly laid to permanent rest each and every one of the Troll guards.

The next morning when the Norse awoke, they found the corpses of six Trolls scattered around the camp, each with a blood-red fheirdhris dearg on their body. The leader of this group of Norse sent a group of Shadowblades and Hunters to find the person who had done such a thing. It was around noon when two Hunters stumbled upon Conchobair's perch. A dagger flew through the air and pierced the heart of the first Hunter causing the second to draw his bow and begin firing at Conchobair. Conchobair drew his second dagger and rushed the Hunter, leaping out of the way of the Hunter's arrows. The Hunter drew his last arrow and with a cry out to Odin let it fly. The arrow grazed Conchobair's right arm causing his dagger to fall to the floor. Blood began to trickle down Conchobair's arm and began forming a pool of blood on the ground. The Hunter drew his blade and began walking towards the unarmed Lurikeen. Conchobair took a few steps back, looking at the dagger on the ground resting on a small rock. Conchobair looked at the Hunter approaching and then again at the dagger. Sweat dripped from his forehead as the Hunter raised his blade above his head. At that moment, Conchobair jabbed his foot down onto the tip of his dagger's blade, flipping the dagger onto his foot and then kicked his foot, flinging the dagger through the Hunter's throat. The Hunter fell backwards making a loud thud. Conchobair quickly retrieved his daggers and began running to the north.

A Shadowblade that had heard the fall of his comrade tracked Conchobair's trail of blood to a canyon with a long rope bridge dangling over its sharp rocks below. He noticed the wounded Lurikeen making his way across the bridge. He began charging the Lurikeen, yelling to get the attention of the Troll on the other side. The Troll turned and saw the wounded Conchobair trying to get across the bridge un-noticed. Conchobair stopped and saw the large overweight troll bearing a very large axe on one end of the bridge, and on the other side, a tall Kobold Shadowblade with two swords. Both began charging Conchobair, as he drew a dagger with his left hand and began squeezing his right hand, trying to keep it from freezing up on him. Conchobair charged the troll and quickly dodged his large axe swing. He sliced the belly of the troll open grabbing his small intestine as it fell to the floor. Conchobair then leaped off the bridge. The Kobold grabbed the ropes and began looking over the side of the bridge. Conchobair swung on the intestine and propelled himself up to the other side. Conchobair leaped at the kobold, wrapping the troll's intestine around his neck and hurling him off the other side. The Kobold struggled as he dangled hung by his own comrade's intestine. Within a minute both the Troll and Kobold stopped twitching. Conchobair retrieved his dagger from the troll's stomach wiped it off on the troll's cape, tearing a small piece from the cape to act as a bandage. He wrapped his arm and sheathed his dagger, then dropped two blood-red fheirdhris dearg from his bag.

Conchobair knew he would need to seek the help of a druid to heal his wound completely and began making his way home. Two moons passed and he reached the gates of Druim Ligen. A few of the guardians rushed to meet the boy and brought him into the keep. A druid saw to it he was healed and he was told to rest in the inn at Ardee while the Hibernian force validated his report of what had happened.

The now seasoned assassin decided it was time to find his sister. He knew only one place where he was sure to find her… at the local pub.

The horse carrying Conchobair arrived in Ardee and he quickly dismounted the horse. A man selling staves boasted of the lowest prices in Hibernia. This caught Conchobair's attention, as his staff was most likely still in that periwinkle bush on the hill overlooking the now destroyed Midgard encampment. Conchobair bought a heartwood shod staff from the man and gave him 5 gold extra to help with the hard times. He then turned and entered the pub.

Conchobair approached the bartender and asked for a pint of ale. He then asked if he had seen a Lurikeen, which goes by the name Uan. The bartender asked for a description of the Lurikeen, and Conchobair told him as best as he could remember. It had been many seasons since he last saw his sister. The bartender smiled and said, "I think the person ye are looking for goes by the name Halfpint. Or at least that's what her friends call her." Conchobair looked to the man and said, "Thank you." He turned and began to walk away, and then turned back with a curious look on his face and asked, "When does she normally come to the pub?" the bartender laughed and replied, "As soon as she can shake her hangover!" Conchobair tipped his hat at the bartender and tossed him a gold coin. He then sat quietly in the corner whittling the words, "Fogair Garn" into his staff.

A few moments later the door to the Pub swung open and in walked a tall Lurikeen Ranger. Over his shoulder he carried a bag filled with his belongings. He sat at the bar and ordered an ale. He spun around in his chair, feeling that something in the room was not a peace. He glanced over at each of the pub's patrons and saw the boy sitting in the corner whittling his staff. Wearing the armor of a Nightshade but the hat of a mage and carrying a staff. This puzzled the man and he decided to approach the young lad. The boy noticed the man approaching, and quickly covered what he had been carving. The Ranger pulled up a stool and sat at the table. He then said, "Dia Dhuit, my friend. Seems we are in the same profession. Ye heading to Emain Macha as well?" The boy did not reply. The Ranger then said, "The name's Ethan Foglhadha from Howth. Do ye have a name?" The boy's lips parted slightly as he mumbled, "I do not concern myself with names." Ethan looked at the boy precariously and then said, "What troubles ye lad?" The boy moved his hand, revealing the word "Garn".

Ethan had heard legends of a Lurikeen Village named Failte that was destroyed by Garn's warband. He knew the only survivors that managed to escape were children, by the cunningness of one keen little boy that knew how to pick locks. The boy before him was of the right age and looked like a lad that had seen the most horrific scenes of battle.

Ethan then decided to say, "Failte…" Ethan paused and waited for a reaction, then said again, "You're one of children of Failte, aren't ye." The boy nodded. Ethan then said, "Ye know five nights ago I was handed a message requesting my presence in front of Fagan himself. I was ordered to scout the movements of Garn. Every other scout has met their demise attempting to do the very thing I am told to do. I have a wife and 2 beautiful children at home. In my heart I already know I shall never see them again. Ye see, your pain is knowing that they are already lost, mine is knowing that they will be lost. Both because of this tyrant Garn. I beg of ye if you know anything I should know about Garn, please for my wife and children's sake, tell me."

The boy began to look towards Ethan, still concealing his eyes under the brim of his hat and began to tell him of the night he lost his family. He described every detail about Garn, his movements, his height, his weight, his weapon of choice, his traveling companions, his foul stench, and his egotistical leadership. The boy explained everything about Garn as if it happened an hour ago. His memory even recalled, a scar on his right forearm.

Ethan then thanked the boy and bought them a round of drinks. Ethan raised his glass and said "Failte go Brách" which means "Forever Live Failte". The boy drank his second pint of ale in one foul swoop. Ethan and the boy began talking as friends, even laughing at times. After many pints of Ale, Ethan once again asked "When I write my family in Howth, and tell them about the nice man I met in Ardee what shall I call ye?" The boy smiled at finally being called a man and replied, "You can call me Conchobair"

Ethan yawned and said, "I think its time for me to hit the hay, It has been a pleasure meeting you Conchobair De Failte, May the road rise to meet ye." Ethan extended his hand in friendship, and Conchobair reached into his bag and pulled out a very precious stone. He then shook Ethan's hand, placing the stone into the palm his hand. Conchobair then whispered into Ethan's ear and said "I nearly died trying to return this stone to my village. It was made by a friend of mine and is used to help guide souls to their final resting place. Can you place this in the village of Failte so that my people can find their way home?" Ethan nodded and handed Conchobair a very special dagger, which had been passed down his family for generations. He then said "They do not send rangers to scout Garn and expect them to return. I have been sent to die. Take this, if ye shall meet a woman by the name of Alexis, give this to her. For I want her to have it. Conchobair nodded and placed the finely crafted dagger into his bag.

Ethan left the bar and Conchobair ordered another ale. Within a few moments Conchobair was passed out in the corner of the room, and for the first time, he slept peacefully.

### TO BE CONTINUED ###