The Darkness at Dunlough will premier at Albacon: A flavour below!
Prologue – Pride
Herb-scented smoke exited through the vent in the roof of the great chamber. Lord Kean O’Mahony sat back on his cushions. His scowl at the delegation before him meant nothing. It was a more or less permanent fixture on his well fed face. The Lady O’Mahony looked out over the bundle of twigs she was tying and watched the reactions of the men with interest.
Lord Kean leaned forward in his cushions and put down his tankard. A rare event these past ten years.
“So you propose to tell me that the creature at our door these past two nights is brought here by the superstitions of not just those that have the run of the lower floors… but also my wife the Lady Ciara’
Edmund the Priest shifted uneasily.“ It’s not that the superstitions bring the creature. It is just that if all in the castle were to fully give themselves over to the love of our Lord and redeemer then the creature would be truly afeared and flee this place. Why I believe it is your Lordships faith that makes this one of the three towers impervious to the creatures attempts to enter”
The four men behind the priest, the most devout of Kean’s remaining troops, nodded in support of the priest.
“I’d hardly say my faith matched yours my good Priest”. He grabbed a clay jar and filled up his tankard. “ I would also hazard a guess that these four of my men will take their rightful place in heaven one day without a question from Saint Peter ” He indicated the men with the jar as they drew themselves up with pride. “I however am beset with the sins of gluttony, occasional sloth, and I’ve more than once coveted if not my neighbours livestock then at least his land. What say you my wife? Are these the men that are the most faithful in the castle. The ones that draw the most strength from the Lord”
Ciara stopped still in the motion of binding. The men became uneasy as she fixed one after another with a long look. Finally she let her eyes meet that of Edmund.
“Indeed my husband. You can see that they are armoured by their faith in their god. Their crucifixes and prayers are more powerful than any of the minor spirits that we held dear to in the past. Their god has truly given them the power in their faith”
Edmund felt a chill come over him despite being so close to the open fire pit.
“In that case it is settled my Lady Ciara” Lord Kean lifted his tankard and took a long draught.
“ Edmund will take these devout souls and drive the silent shrieker from the castle and we will have a feast tomorrow in celebration of our Lord God and the bravery of these five men”
Chapter 1: Superstition
The unseasonal heat haze disgorged a red headed figure onto the sand. Wet robes opened as he got to his feet and revealed an expanse of plaid beneath. The sand was colder than that he’d recently visited. The sky was a blue grey. With the tinge of salt in the air Fergus reckoned that rather than being at some high lake he had been transported that much closer to his destination. Perhaps he was already in Scotland? If so he’d have to lay low for a couple of seasons so that he didn’t arrive before it was prophesied. He’d have more of an idea when night fell and Meredit was able to see the stars. Fergus turned back towards the shimmer and leapt through.
When he again landed on the beach he was more prepared for the change in footing and kept his feet. The next two figures through managed to tumble back to theirs but the last, the generally imposing figure of Ka Ulia, stumbled, staggered and fell flat on top of his huge metal shield.
“ Is that any kind of way for a tribe’s God to make his entrance?”, Fergus grinned. Ka Ulia rolled back to his feet and looked around.
“Nice spot” he answered in their shared Greek, “Shame about the lookout tower ‘Chosen One’”
Fergus, Meredit and Guisseppe followed Ka Ulias gaze and as they made out the small wooden structure he was indicating smoke started to rise from a signal pyre.
“ I guess we’ll be meeting the locals soon then. Anyone any idea where we are” asked Guisseppe. “ Meredit? You’re the most travelled” Meridit turned slowly and took in the bay. Green grazed hills, low rounded islands further out and a definite cold moisture in the air.
“Right direction anyway and it’s above the water which is the biggest plus.’ Fergus shivered at the thought of the huge eye that had almost transfixed him as he’d tried the previous face of the obelisk.
“ It’s fine to mention that sort of thing just now although I’ll not lie its a bit raw… but lets not speak of it when night falls. Not so close to the shore.” Meridit nodded. Guisseppe drew his gladius and waved towards the signal fire.
“I don’t think you’ll have to wait till nightfall to find out where we are. We should be able to ask someone very soon.” He turned to face the young Scot. “And Fergus, as the representative of Athena I’d be remiss in not reminding you of the teachings of the Council of the Robes.” Fergus grinned.
“Aye. Cause no harm and leave no debts but you might want to put away that wee bit of cultlery then if you don’t want us to make a poor impression. Whatever happens I’m sure Meredit will speak the local language. Maybes Ka Ulia could make himself a wee bit less imposing?”
Ka Ulia half-knelt behind his shield. Even in that position he was the height of Fergus and Guisseppe and towered a full head over Meredit.
Ka Ulia’s voice dropped below the range of a normal human as he stifled a laugh. The timbre of it reminded the rest of thunder. “ Is this better?”
They spotted their reception party in less than a quarter of an hour. A procession of around a dozen horsemen picking their way across the low dunes. As they approached Meridit waved.The figure at front waved back, paused his horse to speak to his men, and then only he and one other rider approached. They closed to within shouting distance midway between the two parties.
“Good Evening to you! The Lord Kean O’Mahoney would like to extend an invitation to the visitors on his land that he might make himself aware of their intentions. He strongly suggests that you accompany us to Dunlough Head and may I add on a personal note that you hurry as its almost nightfall and a full moon.” Meridit was relieved. The accent she wasn’t sure of but it was Irish. “I’m Sergeant McConnaghey this here is Corporal Connor and those lads over there are the lads. Now if you don’t mind doubling up on the horses then we’ll make good time back. You don’t want to be out here when she is.” Meridit turned to translate to the rest of the group but Fergus jumped in with a shout. It wasn’t perfect Irish but his question could be understood.
“What do you mean by she?”
“No come on. No time for questions. You’ll need to hurry and your big black fella there will probably need his own horse. I’ll get two of the lads to double up.”
Meridit grabbed young Fergus’s arm to quieten him as she explained the conversation to Guissepe and Ka Ulia. She knew how easily a situation such as this could be turned on its head with a word. There was much of her centuries long life that wasn’t so detailed in her memory but painful lessons are never forgotten.
“Let’s go with these men. Something is about that they are afraid of at night time. It may be something that we should also be afraid of but more likely it is something we can help them with.” As the two groups came together nods were exchanged and arrangements made to ride. Fergus looked like he was going to ask a question but McConnaghey caught him , looked him straight in the eyes and then pointed to a bird overhead.
“You see that lads! Swallows are flying high tonight so that means good weather…”
As they moved off Fergus again started “So this she…”
“ No! No! No! That’s not it Sarge. It’s of the swallows are low to the ground its to be fine. Swallows high mean rain! “
“….she that comes out…” Meredit gave Fergus a look and the rider she was with jumped into the discussion.
“Nope…. Sorry Connor. It’s blue lights in the fire for rain”
“Ah pish Niall. You and Connor are both wrong. It’s swallows high for good weather and the cats tail to hearth means frost”
Fergus started to get the suspicion that if he kept trying to ask a question on the ride then they’d keep up this discussion and indeed when he opened his mouth to yawn he learned that a clear round moon means no rain, a circle round it means rain, and if the fastnet, whatever that was, seems to be far away then it means fine weather for sailing.
Penumbra is one of Scotland’s largest mental health charities.
They support around 1800 adults and young people every week and employ 450 staff across Scotland.
You can book a seat at the ‘table’ for the first Earth 6:13 scenario for £5 and the money goes directly to Penumbra.
There are only five seats available for the unveiling. The scenario will be played in 5E with pre-generated characters and will run 3pm to 7pm. Book here