Britannia Lost: Dark Ages
Faction: The Wyrwood Picts
The origins of how Bridei’s people came to the Wyrd forests of the far north is a story long lost to history. Whether through loss of knowledge or simply not caring, none among the Wyrwood Picts know from whence they came; they know only this: a man named Drust, hundreds of years past, stepped into the magical forest and claimed it as his own. Eventually others followed suit, hearing rumours of a forest king who now ruled alongside a fae queen. Drust’s people grew until eventually they became a civilization in their own right. But it was not to last.
At the age of eighty-seven, truly ancient among his people, Drust and his queen vanished. As was expected their firstborn son, Talorgen Half-Moon became the second king of the Wyrwood. Where his father had been a wise and noble man, Talorgen was rash, cruel and unpredictable. Many saw this as the blood of his fae mother driving him mad. Within a decade many of the outlying peoples of the Wyrwood had fled the mad king’s rule, leaving the kingdom a shadow of what it had been under Drust. Talorgen fell madly in love with the woman Tuala, who was betrothed to another. Not being a warrior himself, Talorgen ordered the man executed before forcing Tuala to become his wife. No sooner had he bedded the poor woman before he fell for another, laying with her a mere few hours after Tuala. Two sons were conceived that night to those two women, and on the morrow, Tuala the Feeble cut Talorgen’s cock from his body and left him to bleed in the woods.
With the death of their second king, the Wyrwood Picts refused to allow Broichan, Talorgen’s legitimate heir, to become king, claiming he would be just as despicable as his father. For sixteen years the Picts were without king, instead splintering into small villages ruled by cheiftains. Broichan and his bastard brother Anguss, both seen as mad and tainted, left the Wyrwood far behind them and spent their adolescence exploring lands to the south. It was there they discovered a far greater peril to their people than their mad father had ever been. They called themselves Roman, they marched beneath a golden eagle, and they conquered in the name of Caesar.
Broichan and Anguss returned to the north and spread word to every Pict of what was coming. By the time they reached the Wyrwood they stood at the helm of what was close to the entire Pictish people. The Picts of the Wyrwood forgot their grudges and hatred for the sons of Talorgen and joined the cause. One year later the Romans made their first contact with the Picts, many great battles were fought until finally the invaders were pushed back. At the end of a great campaign Broichan was crowned King Broichan the Redeemer. His revelry was short lived however, as over the next few months he was forced to watch as his brother died slowly from many war-wounds. His only solace was that they had both had their sons and he could only hope they would share the love they had as brothers.
It was not to be. During Broichan’s rule both his son Drust II and nephew Anguss II were appointed stewards of his now great realm. Both men were greatly loved by their people, but there was always friction between the two men. Anguss grew accustomed to his power and began to long for the throne, for was he not also of the Line of Drust? This thought grew in the back of his mind for years, until finally he declared himself the true heir to the throne. In a devastating midnight attack, he razed Broichan’s keep, slew his uncle in battle and declared himself the King of the Wyrwood. Drust’s people rallied behind him and claimed him as the true king. What followed was a civil war so devastating that the Picts never truly recovered. One by one villages abandoned the kingdom, growing tired of the dispute, until once more the mighty kingdom was reduced to the few hundred who resided in the Wyrwood. When at the end of the war, Drust the True King faced Anguss the Pretender, they both fell upon the field. The split peoples returned to their own lands, the war was over, years of hatred still remained.
It was Bridei I who ended this great rift. While hunting a bear than had been attacking his people, he was gravely wounded and forced to crawl to the nearest village for help. There he met a healer, Gertrude the Kind, who nursed him back to health. Bridei returned to the wilds and slew the beast, earning his title “the Bear”; it was something of a joke as well. As Bridei grew to manhood, so did the legend of Drust’s Curse: that each firstborn born to a king named Drust would be fae-touched. Whereas Talorgen was mad and wicked, Bridei was gifted with the stature of the beast from which he took his name. The great king easily stood eight feet, and half that as wide. It was when Bridei decided he would marry Gertrude did he learn of her origin; she was the third daughter of Anguss II, the Pretender. Bridei would not be swayed however, despite what his advisers told him. Somewhere in his simple mind he knew this was the best thing for his people. A great wedding was held between Bridei the Bear and Gertrude the Kind, and a great celebration of peace. While the Wyrwood Picts would never be the centre of a great kingdom again, at least they were a single people.
Bridei ruled for decades to come, becoming the first King of the Wyrwood to live to see his first grandchild be born. Bridei, even at a great age, was still more massive than any man could ever be, and his son, Drust III would live to be the greatest of all the Kings of the Wyrwood. But the grandchild which bore his name was sickly and frail. People once more spoke of the Curse of Drust, especially once Drust’s wife took her own life in shame. Bridei I passed not long after and his son succeeded him. Drust was a great king, leading his people to a prosperity not seen since their first king. While he ruled, Bridei II spent his childhood studying crafts and medicine, learning the trades from his grandmother Gertrude. Bridei married at a very young age to a simple peasant girl Arianne, who soon bore him a pair of healthy sons. This event was seen as a miracle; many feared Drust’s line would end with the sickly boy. For another three years Drust ruled, before once more the Wyrwood Picts would have to fight their ancient enemy: the Romans.
Drust led his people to war, and fell bravely in battle. The Wyrwood was left in the hands of Bridei II, who was no warrior or general. At the time of his fathers passing he was in fact midwifing the birth of his first daughter. He left the girl with her mother and went into the deepest grove of the Wyrwood to pray to the gods. The next morning the Romans came to the forests. What was left of the Picts stood to defend their homes, but the men were without hope. It was then Bridei emerged from his solace. Charging from the trees naked and screaming, he fell upon the romans wielding a pair of blades. The day was won, and Bridei II was crowned the Twin-Bladed King. He spent the next four years ruling with a determination unseen in any of his forbears; conquering one by one the peoples of the north. Finally, once more the Wyrwood Picts sat at the centre of a great northern kingdom, ready to face any foe that might challenge them.