- "The Children of Danu have perverted their beliefs into a weapon."
- ―Ciara ingen Medba, Wrath of the Druids Expansion Trailer
It is not specifically stated as to when exactly the Children of Danu were founded, but the order is quite old in its own right based on the timeline of Norse encroachment into ancient Ireland. Before the Norse and the Christian faiths came, Gaelic paganism reigned supreme in Ireland through the druids, an elite, religious caste of individuals who reputedly possessed strange, mystical powers that enabled them to ensnare the minds of humans, transform themselves and others into animals, conjure powerful illusions, kill without lifting a finger, and even gaze into the past and future.
When the Norse-Gaelic Christians began to spread their influence across Ireland and rapidly increased in number, many traditional practices, customs and beliefs of the Druids began to be phased out to make way for the new systems. Some Druids chose to passively retreat into the forests in the Irish countryside to live out their remaining days in solitude and keep their beliefs alive through taking apprentices. These apprentices were usually disenfranchised men and women from the Norse-Gaelic society in Ireland.
Most adherents of the old ways, however, were not so submissive and were often mistreated, scorned and ostracized by the Norse-Gaelic Christians in Ireland, unwittingly engendering a climate of tension, hostility and dark intent. With the rise of the Christian order, the increasing influence of the Nordic settlers and the realisation that Gaelic paganism was on the verge of facing extinction, many Druids became enraged over the treatment they had received and resolved to fight back against the invaders by engaging in the more horrific and far darker aspects of Gaelic paganism. These extremist Druids gathered together as one to unite their strength, work to drive out the Norse and Christian religions and re-establish the Druids as the principal faith of Ireland. They focused their new worship around the Irish goddess Danu and began delving into extremely dangerous and evil practices previously viewed as unthinkable or forbidden by their pacifistic contemporaries; dark magic, human sacrifice, rituals to summon dark spirits, primitive chemical weapons in the form of toxic or poisonous mists, torture and necromancy.
They called themselves the Children of Danu and began aggressively recruiting from among the most zealous, dissatisfied or disenfranchised from the populace to serve as their spies, enforcers and foot-soldiers. By the time Eivor arrived in Ireland, the Children already had hundreds of followers stationed across the entire country in numerous secret enclaves and hideouts where they conducted their dark practices, trained to fight and kill and coordinated their attacks.
Flann Sinna Assassination
Prior to 879, the king of Meath Flann Sinna, a descendant of the Southern Ui Neill line, declared his intention to claim the High Kingship of Ireland. A devout Christian, Flann was viewed as a threat by the Children of Danu despite his lack of animosity towards Druidism. Abbot Eogan, the leader of the Children, began to mastermind an elaborate plot to murder Flann and prevent the ascendancy of a pro-Christian High King and keep the petty kingdoms of Ireland at each other's throats, a situation which favoured him and his followers. Around this time, the Children were dealt a serious blow when Ciara, one of their most powerful Druids, fled the cult and aligned herself with Flann so as to ensure the continued existence of the peaceful Druids and the destruction of the Children. Enraged, Eogan sentenced Ciara to death, though as long as she remained in Flann's court, she was essentially untouchable. Undeterred, Eogan mobilised the Children of Danu across the length, width and breath of Ireland and tasked his leading lieutenants with coordinating strikes, sabotage and terror-raids against Flann's territories and vulnerable fiefdoms.
The Children's fate, and eventual doom, however was sealed when, in 879, the Jarlskona Eivor arrived on the shores of Ireland at the invitation of her cousin Barid, the King of Dublin. Not long after arriving, she and her allies foiled the preemptive assassination attempt on Flann on the Hill of Tara just prior to his coronation as High King. The Children countered by stealing the sacrosanct Book of Kells as a warning to Flann, who tasked Eivor with retrieving the sacred text as a show of good faith on behalf of Barid. Eivor succeeded in locating the book by tracking the Druids back to their lair, slaughtering all within and plundering all the wealth stored there; she then delivered the Book of Kells back to the Church.
Incensed at the continual interference by the upstart Viking, Eogan and the Children decided to try a different approach. In the wake of Flann's successful assault on the fortress of Cashelore in Connacht, the Druids secretly poisoned the drink of the celebrating soldiers but only those of Irish blood and bribed a thief to claim that Barid ordered him to do it so as to turn the Irish and the Danes against each other. Although Flann was not entirely convinced, he insisted Barid remain at Cashelore with him while Eivor and Ciara set out to enlist the help of Ciara's Druid mentor for a cure to the poison. While Ciara and her mentor Deirdre worked on the cure, Eivor hunted down one of Eogan's lieutenants Niamh the Poet AKA The Wren, killed her and stole her blood-amber stone (an artefact carried by high-ranking members), using it to finish the cure.
The Children's woes did not end there however as Eivor also discovered the name and location of another high-ranking member, The Cursed AKA Sétnae, tracked her down and butchered her and her subordinates in a bloody skirmish at the Druids' sacrificial altar in Tuam, taking her amber too and looting all their treasure. Several more of the Children's leaders later fell in quick succession as Eivor systematically dismantled several of their operations including supplying illegal weapons via a network of pirates.
By this time, toppling Flann, eliminating Eivor and capturing Ciara had become all-consuming obsessions for Eogan, who by now had had enough of shadow moves and secret plots and mobilised his entire military strength to dethrone Flann once and for all, kill Eivor and seize Ciara. His army of Druids, their thralls, zealous Christians and mercenary contingents from across Ireland and from England across the sea marched on Flann's forces encamped at Clogher in Ulster and laughed a massive surprise assault. The king's forces however fought back ferociously, led by Eivor, Flann and Ciara, and after hours of heavy fighting drove back the abbot's army and put them to flight though in the process, King Barid was fatally wounded and died soon after, forcing his young son to ascend the throne of Dublin.
Overcome with rage and fury over Eogan's betrayal, Flann summoned every last able-bodied soldier he had left and marched on Armagh, the seat of the Abbot's power. The High King's forces quickly broke through the city's defences and ransacked it while Flann and Eivor confronted the Abbot. Defiant to the end, Eogan revealed himself as the leader of the Children of Danu and exposed Ciara's past membership as a cultist, declaring that theirs was the only way Ireland would be great. His opponents ignored his boasts and promptly slew the Abbot in a short but vicious duel, decapitating the druidic cult and removing the last obstacle to Flann's ascendancy.
With Eogan's death, the Children of Danu floundered wildly; mistakes were made and the remaining leaders were systematically wiped out by Eivor along with dozens of their subordinates. For good measure, Eivor also convinced Ciara to destroy the Lia Fail, forever bringing to an end the dark dreams of the Children of Danu and by extension, cause the cult itself to split apart along its own fracture lines and eventually fade into history and then finally legend.
Ideology and goals
The Children of Danu was formed as a violent, pagan resistance movement against the rise of the Norse and Christian faiths in Ireland, which had resulted in the native druidic faith of Classical Antiquity facing the danger of extinction. Fearing the replacement of their native Gaelic paganism, the high ranking members within the Children of Danu sought to acquire and use the power of ancient relics both in and out of their possession, such the Lia Fáil, in hopes to revive their beliefs and displace the encroaching foreign beliefs.
The leader is marked with an asterisk. (*)
Behind the scenes
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – Wrath of the Druids – Target menu – "Bio: Eogan mac Cartaigh, The Oak"
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – Wrath of the Druids
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – Wrath of the Druids – A Scourging of Snakes
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – Wrath of the Druids – Children of Danu
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla –