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Oisín with gear at Equinox 2007
Oisín and Cailte (aka Coach) laughing as Argyle frantically spins halfway across the gym trying to figure out where that arrow that just hit him in the face came from.

Real Name: Ben Mudd

Fighting Name: Oisín Leathshúileach ua Duibhne (uh-SHEEN lyu-HOO-lee-uck o duv-na . . . don't ask, it's Gaeilge)

Age: 22

Realm: Arnor/Washington University Medieval Combat Society

Unit: Fíanna Cú Ruadh

Rank: Laech (warrior)

Preferred Weapons: Sword and board, javelins, and archery

Started Fighting: Amtgard 2002 (age 15), Belegarth/Dagorhir 2005 (age 18)

Events Attended:

Oktoberfest: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Spring War: 2007
Wolfpack Opener: 2006, 2007, 2009
Equinox: 2007, 2008
Beltaine: 2009
Ragnarok: 2007 (XXII), 2008 (XXIII)
War for the Roses: 2007
Numenor Opener: 2007, 2009 (spring)
Yule: 2006, 2007
Alban Eilier: 2007, 2009

Persona History:

I am Oisín Leathshúileach ua Duibhne. I was born XX miles north of the Vallum Hadriani, in a town of five hundred that no longer stands, in the MCXXIth year of Rome, which is year CCCLXVIII by the Christian reckoning, and an Ash year by that of my own people. It was an appropriate tree for the year, for the shadow of an ash tree is blight upon crops, and that was a year of great sorrow, when the wild Cruithne of the highlands, and their allies the Ulaid from Eire, came in terrible force against the north.

My father was the son of the local chieftain, a descendant of the Brigantes of old. His mother was Eirsh, from the Ua Duibhnae of Connaught, and my father in turn married an Ua Duibhne woman, a niece of their king--if the stories are to be believed, then we are descendants of Conn Cétchathach himself, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who was king in Connaught before he was king of all Eire in Tara. It was an ancient alliance, between the Brigantes and the Ua Duibhnae, and had been this way since before the Romans ever set foot in Britain. I myself was taken to foster among the Ua Duibhne, where I earned my names: Oisín, they called me, little stag, for my keen eyes and swift feet. Leathshúileach, they called me, half-sighted, for when I first drank of the warriors' mead, I was wounded by the fire and blind in one eye for a time.

I returned to my place of birth with an Eirsh name when I came into my manhood, already trained as a warrior. That winter I turned 16 and, like my father and his father before me, enlisted into the auxilia, and was trained as a border scout.

Now, I have no love of Romans. Their administrators are greedy, their magistrates cruel, and their soldiers arrogant. But there, that far north, there were few Romans. Many people were citizens--I could in truth call myself civitas, and have, on occasion. Few were truly Romans, though. Even the men of Legio VI Ferrata stationed at Eboracum and along the Vallum, spoke a mongel tounge with as much Breton in it as Latin. Only the legates, the officers, and the Dux Brittanicus himself are really Romans. And us auxilliaries? We were trained (once) by centurions of the legions, but we fought in much the same way that our ancestors had--not wildly and without discipline as Caesar would tell you, but with order and tactics that once burned Rome herself. We carried swords and wore armor made by our own people, we rode horses who knew no Latin, and we protected our villages and towns. Did we bear Roman ranks and report to a legate? So what. Such was life.

All this changed when I was 19 years old. It was a dark night, and cold, when my life changed. I was a principal then, promoted quickly because my family was important and my swordarm swift, and in theory I commanded twenty horsemen, although usually I had closer to fifteen, all born within two days' easy ride either side of the wall. We were a day's ride west from my home, and I had not visted in two months. Although we had passed through many villages during our patrol, rarely had we stayed longer than an hour, and rarely had we slept under a roof. We all knew that we would spend the next evening with mead and venison and the red ale of warriors in my grandfather's hall and the night with a pretty girl in a soft bed, so of course our spirits were high. Why should they not be? We sat by the fire we had built in a little hollow to hide the light, mending our clothes, shining our helmets and spears, polishing our leather. We were fifteen young men, returning from the border, and though most of us carried the heads of Cruithne raiders, all of our saddles were still full.

I do not recall now exactly what happened. The emotions of the night have clouded my memory. I do remember, though, that it was Dumnovallos who was on watch. He called me over, twenty paces down the hill on which we were encamped, and after my eyes adjusted to the dark he pointed out down the valley into the night, saying nothing. For a few seconds, I too saw nothing, and then I saw how the wide valley east of us was swarming and moving. There were men down there, thousands of them. We could not make them out clearly, but they were moving south. I cursed, looked again, and told Dumnovallos to go and wake the horses. I returned to camp, gave the orders to break it, and within a quarter of the hour, we were riding south, hard towards the wall. I do not know how so many men came so far south undetected, but we were the first to raise the alarm. The whole night was spent in preperations for an attack that was expected the next day. I worked as hard as anyone, but I spent the night with a sick feeling deep in my stomach--I knew my home was somewhere across the plain that had been covered in men.

The attack came in the hour before dawn. They were Cruithne, scattered with Saxon mercenaries, far north of their usual landing grounds along the forts of the Saxon Shore, and a few of the Ulaid. For three days we fought them, and on the last day I rode with others of the auxilia cavalry and the legionarry cataphracts in a wide sweeping flank attack from the west that cut down the attackers in their hundreds. We carried long spears like Alexander's men, and we crushed them beneath the mass of our horses, and then turned to pursue them as they fled.

I was with the scouting party that was the first to return to the town of my family. A light rain the day before had extinguished most of the fires, but the wood and thatched buildings, half burnt, still smoldered. From the bodies still scattered about, as well as from a few prisoners we took and tortured, it was learned that the town had been taken with little resistance, and none had been left alive and unenslaved. Later, the Roman navy would rescue a few women from aboard a Saxon galley: hungry, cold and raped. I found the bodies of my father and grandfather side by side with a few of their warriors in the half-burnt doorway into the hall--many of them were my friends. My mother was behind them, her bow still clutched in her cold hands. Most of the women of the household had swallowed poison rather than be taken alive, but their bodies had been abused and desecrated anyway.

I took few things from the ruin. My mother's bow, my grandfather's stag-handled dagger, my father's bronze-plated sword belt and torc. I bent in half the swords of my father and grandfather and those who had died with them, buried them all near our ancestors, and burned the hall to the ground. There was nothing left for me there. I rode again for three more months, hunting the tribes who had come against my family, fighting and killing like a madman. When it was done, I resigned my post and sailed with a merchant ship to Eire, to return to the halls of the Ua Duibhne, to the kin of my mother and my grandmother, to my brother who still fostered among them. We were both adopted by my uncle and his brother the king, but I was landless and my soul was restless. One night, when Finn and his warriors visited our hall, I asked leave of the clan to go with the Fíanna, and was granted permission of the king and the warriors and my uncle. I left with them the next morning, and have ridden with them since. They are my brothers in the sword, and my comrades these past years.

That is the tale of how I came to be a Fení of the Fíanna Cú Ruadh. There are many more tales to be told of the time since then--perhaps, some day, I shall you them. But for now, I rest my tongue.

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