Ierne: The Riastradh

Heading back to Ierne for another glimpse.

It was a terrible sight to behold, and I could not turn away. Fomorian heads and limbs flew in every direction, making me doubt those creatures had the same number of extremities as I did. Blood pooled at the feet of the giant a few feet away from me; hacked carcasses littered the field around us as far as I could throw a stone, yet the Fomorians did not relent. In groups of twos and threes they approached, frothing mad, evil incarnate, wicked blades flashing – only to be annihilated by the thing that only I knew to be my foster brother Bran.

I knew the stories of Cúchulainn, I knew about the ríastradh—the warp spasm—but I had never witnessed it myself. When, after fending the devils off for an hour, a Fomorian spear pierced my leg, Bran’s rage surged unchecked. His mouth foamed as he tore the shirt from his back, and as he rushed forward to meet the mass of Sea Devils attacking us, he started to grow, taller than a house, wider than three bulls. His skin bubbled from within like tar bursting from the earth, and his muscles stretched into shapes unnatural to humans. His right arm grew to the size of a thick oak tree trunk, and with every swing of the sword which now seemed like a toy in his mutated hand he slashed three Fomori in half. His hair stood on end like a halo of spikes, and from each tip burst a mist of blood and pure rage that choked any who came too close to him. His legs twisted around in their sockets, his knees now at the back, and he was able to leap high into the air and rain death as he came down. And just like the hero Cúchulainn, one eye sunk deep into his head, while the other almost popped out of its socket, and it was the last thing a Fomorian saw before being shred to pieces.

One hundred Fomorian died that afternoon at the hands of Bran, the warped one, hero of An Daingean, and I was never able to look at my foster brother the same way again.

—From the journal of Amergin Ó Míl

Ok, so I cheated a little here. This was originally published back in 2006 as the introduction to Bardic Lore: Ristradh, my D&D 3.5-compatible product introducing the warp spasms of Celtic myth. I did revise the above version, cleaned it up a bit, but it is essentially the same scene. The reason I brought it into the present, and into this Ierne series of vignettes, is that I need the warp spasm to be present in what I’m planning to do with Ierne in its early stages, and I saw no reason to write another scene when that one was very much to my liking.

To address something that came up in the comments to Ierne: The Gate, these little vignettes are not really meant to be interconnected. Imagine you’re flying over Ierne and every so often you zoom down to ground level and get a small glimpse of what’s going on with a few people, then you fly back up and go somewhere else on the island. I’m not saying they couldn’t be interconnected–some have already suggested ways in which they are–but I’m leaving that to you.

By the way, I promise I won’t tease forever on what Ierne is to be. Astute readers will have picked up the few clues I’ve left in previous posts or seen the one outright mention of it I made earlier in January. So I’ll come clean, but not just yet.


  1. So this is an eco friendly post, meaning you recycled it 😀

    Seriously, it doesn’t matter to me if you did use it before, it fits in well with what you’re doing now. I think the reworking makes it gel. I find these vignettes interesting in that it gives us more of a look at the big picture without lots of exposition.

    .-= JJ´s last blog… Elric Explored – Part 5: Magic =-.


  2. Well, it was half-recycled; it has always been a story of Ierne (all the Bardic Lore products are), I just polished it a little bit.

    Ierne has been in my mind for some 10-15 years; it’s just that it’s gotten more solid in the last few years. 🙂


  3. Love the background text you used for this. I did something similar for Ghosts of Albion (and Buffy/Angel). A lot of my celtic themed material made it into Ghosts, but this one I kept for my own use. Very cool indeed.
    .-= Timothy Brannan´s last blog… Hard Core Gamers =-.


Comments are closed.