Eivor reported to Bárid about the spices.
- Eivor: Bárid. Flann's gift is on its way to Meath.
- Bárid: Very good. I was just preparing to leave for the coronation, though I now have a problem on my hands.
- Eivor: What is it?
- Bárid: Flann's poetess, Ciara. She was here delivering a formal invitation and now I do not know where she's gone.
- Eivor: Do you think she's in trouble?
- Bárid: No, I think she is amusing herself somewhere. Likely perusing Dublin's markets. We need her. The high poetess is an important member of the king's court. There cannot be a coronation without one.
- Eivor: I will find her. Where should we meet?
- Bárid: By Dublin's gates. I will ready the horses.
Eivor left to find the poetess Ciaraand soon heard her drunken singing.
- Ciara: O, Flann Sinna, great lord of Meath ... King of Kings, soon to be ...
Pure of blood, whole of heart. A leader of all men lost in the dark.
For a greater tomorrow he shall bring, the Southern Uí Néill King of Kings.
- Eivor: If that is the voice of the poetess, the standard is low in these lands.
Eivor found Ciara, drunk, at an alehouse.
- Ciara: O, Flann, O, Flann, isn't he grand? He who ... something here that rhymes!
A fellow drinker stood up.
- Norse Warrior 1: Enough of your yawping. For the sake of our ears, shut your mouth.
- Ciara: Sure, and you're an idiot.
- Norse Warrior 1: You are all the same.
Ciara threw her cup at him and spat at him.
- Norse Warrior 2: Grab the bitch!
- Ciara: Fé! (Damn!) Won't you let a caged bird sing?
- Eivor: Shit.
The Norse warriors went closer to Ciara as Eivor hastened to stop the altercation.
- Ciara: I'd hoped an audience of tone-deaf Danes might permit!
- Eivor: Are you Ciara?
- Norse Warrior 2: Hold her down!
- Ciara: Wonders of wonders, how much trouble can I be in at once?
- Eivor: Can't help you. This one comes with me.
- Norse Warrior 2: No, no, no. She will answer for this insult.
- Eivor: Can't change your mind?
The Norse warriors shook their heads adamantly. Eivor and the warriors engaged in a fistfight as Eivor spoke to Ciara.
- Eivor: You owe me.
Ciara soon fell over drunk and unconscious. Eivor soon beat up the Norsemen and found Ciara lying on the ground.
- Eivor: Looks like our poetess has made friends with the ground.
Eivor carried Ciara.
- Eivor: On your feet, poetess.
- Ciara: Mo lén! (Poor me!) Everything is spinning...
- Eivor: A cold bath will remedy this quickly.
- Ciara: (groans)
Eivor dropped Ciara in a puddle of cold water.
- Ciara: Agh! Mo léir-chrech! (Alas!) What was that for?
- Eivor: To flush the ale from you. If you think I'm going to lug you to Tara, you're mistaken.
- Ciara: Tara? Wait, who are you?
- Eivor: Bárid sent me to collect you. He's waiting at the stables.
- Ciara: Ah, an envoy. Tell me, how much coin would an envoy be wanting to speak nothing of this brawl to Bárid? He'll tie a guard to my hip the next time I'm in Dublin. That man can be so sensitive sometimes, do you know what I mean?
- Eivor: I do. Bárid is my family.
- Ciara: Well then, I think my mouth has gotten me in enough trouble today.
- Eivor: Try opening it less. Works for me. Shall we?
Ciara led the way as Eivor followed her.
- Ciara: Bárid has never spoken of you. What name do you bear?
- Eivor: Eivor. I hail from Norway, now settled in England with the rest of my clan.
- Ciara: A clan, eh? Are they all fist-thumpers like you?
- Eivor: It is because of these fists you live to sing another day, poetess.
- Ciara: So true.
Ciara and Eivor arrived at Dublin's stables, where Bárid awaited them.
- Ciara: Bárid!
- Bárid: I was beginning to worry. What took?
- Eivor: There was ... trouble.
- Ciara: Ara (Ah), no need to be so tense. Shall we ride for Tara? We don't want to be late for the coronation.
- Bárid: After you.
Eivor, Ciara, and Bárid rode for Tara.
- Ciara: I was surprised to meet a member of your family, Bárid. Eivor tells me she's come from England.
- Bárid: Yes. Eivor is helping to establish trade in Dublin. Secure valuable resources with far away lands. In time, Dublin will become the heart of Ireland's trade, one that each and every kingdom can benefit from.
- Ciara: That will no doubt please the future High King.
- Bárid: Yes, well, above trade, I am hoping Flann can see Dublin as a friend and ally.
- Ciara: You and many others.
- Eivor: A relationship with Bárid would be one worth fostering. It would be foolish of your king to ignore it.
- Ciara: It appears Eivor is not abreast with our kingly history, Bárid.
- Bárid: We were hoping to have a meeting with Flann. My wish is to strengthen our ties. Can you see it done?
- Ciara: Perhaps. We will see how the evening goes.
The trio arrived in Tara, before the coronation.
- Ciara: Quite the event, hm?
- Bárid: Spared no expense, that much is clear.
A soldier came up to the trio.
- Irish Man 1: Ara (Ah), my lady, one of the priests has gone missing. A violent mess is left of his tent. I fear something terrible has happened.
- Ciara: Missing? Are you sure?
- Eivor: Could be nothing. Could mean danger. Where is Flann?
- Irish Man 1: He's not yet arrived.
- Eivor: That gives us some time. Ciara, act as if nothing were amiss. Bárid and I will look into it. Where is this tent?
- Irish Man 1: Up the hill to the left.
- Ciara: Be careful.
Eivor and Bárid nodded in agreement and left to investigate. Inside the tent, Eivor investigated the mess.
- Eivor: There was a fight here.
- Bárid: It is the eve of the coronation and already trouble brews.
- Eivor: Keep your wits and stay close. We do not know anything yet.
The cousins looked for any blood trails. Eivor entered a tent where two children were wrestling and saw a note on a crate.
- Child's Poem
Flann Sinna is great,
He is powerful and kind,
He is a strong fighter and strong leader,
He will lead the people,
God loves him very much,
Mother loves him as well,
Father says he is not a worthy man,
I think father is jealous.
Eivor left the tent and saw a blood trial.
- Eivor: Something dark happened here. We must follow the blood.
One blood trail led the cousins near a meat shop.
- Eivor: Animal carcasses. We'll go back and follow another trail.
Another trail led Eivor and Bárid to a feast shop.
- Eivor: A succulent roast. Let us go back and follow another trail.
Eivor found another note while investigating.
- Letter from a Nobleman
Ale from Athlone was meant to arrive hours ago and still we have received nothing. No letter advising tardiness. No carts we can see on the roads. It is all rather suspicious, but not surprising.
I have said loud and clear that we should have procured ale elsewhere. That trading post is no stranger to roving bandits, and it now seems likely they are the cause of this problem.
Luckily we still have a large supply of local ale, but it falls short of what the attendees might expect for the High King's coronation.
At the very least, we can hope enough of it is consumed so that none will notice.
Eivor and Bárid found more blood near the ceremonial grounds.
- Bárid: The blood leads off away from the main camp. Perhaps towards those tents.
The cousins found blood and cart tracks at another tent area.
- Eivor: The blood stops here. Where do these cart tracks lead?
- Bárid: This story is like to have a poor ending.
- Eivor: I fear so, cousin.
- Bárid: On such a momentous day as well. Flann's coronation may not be as hoped.
Eivor and Bárid followed the tracks.
- Eivor: There. A cart up ahead.
The cousins later found a dead body in a stream and a broken-down cart.
- Eivor: Looks like they hit a snag. Recognize him?
- Bárid: That is Senan. The priests. Bastards stripped him of his clothes.
- Eivor: That camp up there. What is it?
- Bárid: Annagh Doo is no camp. Though it appears someone has made it into one.
- Eivor: Let's go.
Eivor and Bárid traveled to Annagh Doo.
- Bárid: What do you think?
- Eivor: The priest was kidnapped. They took his clothes. I believe whoever did this means to wear them.
- Bárid: A disguise?
- Eivor: We will soon find out.
The cousins arrived at Annagh Doo, where they caught sight of bandits and one of them was dressed as a priest.
- Eivor: There. And that one is dressed as the priest. Follow my lead.
Eivor and Bárid confronted and killed all of the bandits. Afterwards, Eivor found a note on the disguised bandit.
- Kill Order
The High King's inauguration draws near, at which point power will switch hands from the Northern Uí Néill to the South. You are to ensure Flann Sinna draws his last breath before that happens.
Disguise yourself as a priest and infiltrate the ceremony at Tara. This should get you close enough. Then cut the bastard's throat as they sing his praises.
Eivor commented on her find.
- Eivor: Sent to kill Flann. The letter is unsigned. An unknown enemy. Come. We must bring news of this to Ciara.
- Bárid: I'm with you. You handled yourself well, Eivor, I have to say. You really are no stranger to these sorts of encounters.
- Eivor: You did not do so bad yourself.
- Bárid: Aye. We stopped the death of a king this day. If only we knew who was behind it.
- Eivor: No idea who would go to such lengths.
- Bárid: You can take your picks of the Northern Uí Néill kings. Though it is the kings of Ulster who particularly dislike Flann.
- Eivor: Different king, same story.
Eivor and Bárid traveled back to Tara to see Ciara.
- Ciara: You're back.
Before reporting to the poetess, Eivor read a page she saw on the table.
- Ciara's Journal
My mother helped me fashion this harp when I was just a little girl. It was a toy. A pass time I grew out of. It was only after her death that I found the urge to dig it out from under the floorboards again.
Never did I think this poorly crafted instrument would make it this far. I should replace it with something better, but I refuse. My soul refuses. I am bound to it. To the strings, to the smell of the wood, which is the same today as it was the first day.
It will need to endure some fittings, however. This is a quiet harp that lacks an outstretched sound. I have been working on an apparatus that should allow the music to resonate widely.
From a child's trinket to a booming instrument, what a journey this little harp will have.
Eivor and Bárid spoke with Ciara.
- Ciara: Any story?
- Eivor: The priest is dead, and so too are his killers. Bandits. I found this.
Eivor handed the kill order to Ciara.
- Eivor: It's an order to kill Flann. One of them was to disguise himself as a priest, cut Flann's throat during the coronation.
- Bárid: Right under our noses.
- Ciara: Why take the risk? Why not poison? Or striking at him in his sleep?
- Eivor: Poison can fail, and to kill him in his sleep lacks spectacle. But your point is sound. The killer would have not made it out alive. He was ready to die. Whoever plotted this is intent on seeing Flann fall. We need to warn him.
- Ciara: After the coronation. I will not have this gnawing at him. Flann earned this. He will enjoy it. Meet him afterwards at his quarters in Durrow. He will make time for you there.
Eivor and Bárid nodded in agreement.
- Ciara: Now if you take my excuses, I need to tidy up.
Ciara winked at Eivor.
- Bárid: Come along, Eivor.
Bárid left as Eivor lingered behind.
- Eivor: The water was not that murky, was it?
- Ciara: You don't know much about the role of the poetess, do you, Eivor?
- Eivor: Enlighten me.
- Ciara: I will.
- Ciara: Well, what are you waiting for? I asked to be excused, that meant you as well.
Eivor nodded her head and left Ciara. Eivor and Bárid walked into the audience and the coronation.
- Bárid: I see other kings here. News of Flann's inauguration has reached far and wide. Come, we should join them.
- Eivor: Is that him? Flann?
The cousins looked over to see Flann walking to the center of the coronation.
- Bárid: Yes.
Eivor and Bárid walked forward.
- Eivor: What are they doing?
- Bárid: Blessing him. Abbot Eogan is the highest ranking official among the Christians. His blessing asserts that Flann is ready to fill the boots of his predecessor.
Eogan blessed Flann for his duty as High King of Ireland.
- Bárid: It is all done before the Lia Fáil, a sacred stone that is said to endow the rightful kings with long reigns.
- Eivor: Does it work?
- Bárid: Depends on what you consider long.
- Eivor: Coronations are long. Where is the food?
- Bárid: You have not changed.
- Eivor: I am here. I may as well enjoy myself.
Flann laid his head on the Lia Fáil as a harp was strummed. The attendees turned and watched as Ciara strode down the red carpet making up the central aisle towards the throne.
- Ciara: Flann for Éirinn i tig thocaid Túathail Techtmair,
do nach - forcraid forba niäd náir co nertgail.
Rop slán, rop suthain a ríge, réim co abra,
noco-géba brí na Bregda rí bas amra.
Filleam glúine, tócbam láma – lúad cen chréidim,
corop suthain slicht no-d-bágaimm: Flann for Éirinn. Flann for Éirinn.
(Flann over Ireland from the blessed house of Túathal Techtmar,
where the heredity of a noble warrior with mighty bravery is not exaggerated.
May his kingship be healthy, may it last for long, a course as broad as the borders;
no greater king shall ever seize the hill-top or Brega.
Let us bend our knees, let us raise our hands – give praise with no decrease,
so that the family line I here boast, may last forever: Flann over Ireland. Flann over Ireland.)
Eogan handed Flann a greatsword as Flann accepted his responsibility as the new High King. As the coronation ended, Eivor and Bárid left the ceremony.
- Bárid: And with that, Flann's enemies multiply.
- Eivor: This warring of dynasties runs deep. If he's a smart king, he'll be eager for allies.
- Bárid: Smart he is, but also impassioned. His plan to subdue the North is not driven by power so much as it is bloodlust.
- Eivor: Back there on our ride from Dublin, Ciara made it seem there was more to you and Flann. What am I missing?
Barid stopped and turned around.
- Bárid: A detail. A large detail. You see, the northern king who crowned me, Áed Findliath ... he murdered Flann's father and took his place as High King. Then, as is custom, he married Flann's mother.
- Eivor: Safe to say there is no lost love between you.
- Bárid: None. To Flann, Áed was a venomous snake and so too are the ones he favored. Winning his trust will be no simple task.
- Eivor: We just thwarted an attempt on his life. That should at least perk his ears up.
- Bárid: Let us hope. I will leave immediately for Durrow. Meet me there, soon as you can.
Barid resumed his walk away from the Hill of Tara.
After thwarting an assassination attempt on Flann by the Children of Danu, Eivor, Bárid, and Ciara attended Flann's coronation as High King.