Settled. Clan Cruiadh occupies the northern reaches of the Conall Valley linking Cimmeria with Nordheim. It numbers 460, with around 300 of ﬁghting age.
Gaud and Taur. Cruiadh does not have blood feuds with either clan, but is on friendly terms with neither. It resents the presence of both in the Conall Valley and seeks to absorb both into a larger tribe.
Cruiadh views the whole of the Conall valley as its rightful territory and all its traditions are geared towards achieving this end – which means driving out the Gaud and Taur clans. Its greatest tradition is therefore one of constant warfare against these two clans although it has, over the years, formed alliances with each against the other.
The clan also believes it is the gatekeeper of the Pass of Blood and is in sole charge of defending Cimmeria from the northmen, which it has done with varying degrees of success throughout its long history. The central belief is that Cruiadh is destined to absorb both Gaud and Taur clans through strength of arms and thus become the largest of all the Cimmerian clans. Its traditions speak of a prophecy, given to one of the clan’s oracles, which describes Cruiadh becoming known as the Blood Clan. Chieftains interpret this to means that the Conall Valley is the critical artery of Cimmeria and the clan is the blood of Cimmeria.
All Cruiadh’s members are schooled in the belief of their supremacy over the other clans, culturally and militarily, and especially Gaud and Taur. Each warrior believes he is a hero in the making and will be known by history as one of the saviours of Cimmeria. The clan therefore places great emphasis on creating an entirely warlike culture.
Upon reaching the age of 12, every Cruiadh male must make his way into the Pass of Blood, alone, and armed only with a spear, a shield and a dagger. He is given a one-day start and is then pursued by a full war band of Cruiadh warriors. The youth’s task is to remain hidden from the war band for three full days and three full nights. He is expected to survive by his wits and to lives off the land for the duration of his ordeal. If caught he is expected to submit himself to a personal combat with the appointed champion of the war band. The winner is the one who draws ﬁ rst blood during the ﬁ ght, and both combatants are expected to ﬁght as they would any enemy.
Between the ages of 7 and 12 every child is taught the way of the spear, sword and shield. They are taught how to ﬁght singly and as part of a shield wall. They are taught survival and stealth and are encouraged to see themselves as heroes not just of the clan but of Cimmeria.
All the ancestors of Cruiadh are warriors killed in battle against the Nordheim and against Gaud and Taur. Every ninth day is the Day of the Warrior where the entire clan stages mock battles in preparation for two wars: one against the Nordheim and one against the Gaud and Taur. These wars will create the Blood Clan and seal Cruiadh’s supremacy of Cimmeria.
Nothing of notable value.
Odhrán mac Cailean
The black-haired, white-bearded Odhrán has led the Cruiadh for eighteen years. His father, Cailean, led the clan for twenty years before him. Odhrán has killed over ﬁve hundred men in his lifetime and has lost count of the battles and skirmishes he has endured. He is an angry, violent man, frustrated that the Blood Clan has still not come into being and desperate to see its creation during his lifetime. This makes him angry and frustrated with the clan’s oracles, but as a superstitious man, he must abide by their guidance – and the oracles say that the Blood Clan is not ready yet.
Such is Odhrán’s ferocity and skill as a ﬁ ghter, he has never been challenged for the leadership of Cruiadh. He would welcome any challenger, conﬁdent of killing him, and thereby continuing to prove his strength as the leader of his people.
Notable Clan Members: Owain mac Finean The clan’s champion and the only warrior who counts more kills than the chieftain. Owain is a leering, balding warrior, powerfully built and with numerous scars across his body. Owain disdains anyone from outside the clan, but reserves special hatred for the Nordheim, whom he enjoys taunting before entering a combat.
Owain is one of is Odhrán’s closest friends and advisers. If anything he is more superstitious than his chief, acting fearfully when the omens are poor and recklessly when they are good. Although he would never admit it, Owain is in love with the Oracle Dedhre, hanging on her every word. Odhrán enjoys taunting the champion about his feelings; if anyone else had the temerity to do so, they would soon feel Owain’s wrath
Dedhre, Cruiadh Oracle A dark-eyed, slender-hipped beauty, Dedhre claims to have been blessed in the womb by the Morrigan, thus giving her the power of second sight and the reading of omens. Her sullen, proud face is framed by raven-black hair with almond-shaped eyes and a pouting, full-lipped mouth. Dedhre is scornful of the attentions of men and is ﬁlled with invective for all males. However she holds of the men of Cruiadh in the palm of her hand through her detailed and chilling ability to read the omens of the natural role and she relishes the power this gives her.
She is, of course, fully aware of Owain’s ill-concealed love for her and exploits this weakness to the full. In reality she is incapable of love, but uses her overt sexuality to extract the maximum advantage from the frail and posturing warriors who surround her.
History and Outlook
With a long history of war behind it, against Picts, northmen and other Cimmerians, Cruiadh is an aggressive but sophisticated clan. Its belief is that it is destined for greatness, and possibly to unite all the Cimmerian clans into a single tribe with a single king.
Its stance is based not on an innate hatred of the Gaud and Taur clans; it is based on its location at the northernmost edge of Cimmerian territory. Cruiadh has had to ﬁ ght to maintain its lands and, where ﬁ ghting the Nordheim is concerned, ﬁ ghting against the odds. It has prevailed because Cruiadh knows the Conall Valley and Pass of Blood intimately and can use this knowledge to defend Cimmeria’s border with a minimum of men and at maximum cost to its enemies. It knows that, ﬁ ghting with cunning and an utter ruthlessness, it can take-on an enemy of any size and defeat it. Cruiadh is proud of its discipline, its cold-heartedness, and its apparent destiny to bring Cimmeria under a single, blood-spattered banner.
Cruiadh views the clans of Gaud and Taur as interlopers. They should submit to Cruiadh control and thereby create an even greater force to defend Cimmeria from the frozen north. It is furious that both clans seek to maintain their own identities and traditions but sees similar traits within itself. Thus, the war between the three clans is as much a war of attrition as one of swords and spears. Cruiadh knows that if Gaud and Taur were to formally ally, and attack from the south, it would be seriously threatened. Therefore Cruiadh has been careful to avoid blood feuds with either of its neighbours, despite a constant stream of skirmishes and raids over the years. Cruiadh intends to keep Gaud and Taur divided and, in time, to conquer each, absorbing them into the Blood Clan.
Cruiadh is, perhaps, the most superstitious of all the Cimmerian clans. It values its oracles (it has two) and forges its destiny around the two hundred year-old prophecy that it will arise as the leaders of the Blood Clan. Every omen is read, noted, interpreted and re-interpreted. Its warriors prepare for an epic battle they may never live to see, and are fuelled by the oracles’ proclamations of imminent greatness. It keeps its bloodlines absolutely pure and rejects the (as it views it) weak-heartedness of those clans who welcome foreigners into their hearths.
Clan Cruiadh is as hard and brutal as the crags of the Pass of Blood. Its outlook is as pure as newly-fallen snow, and its ensures a constant state of preparedness amongst its warriors, patiently awaiting its greatest hour.