The Fachan was an ancient, terrible Redcap with one leg, one arm, one eye, and long fangs.
The Tale of the Fachan Edit
Beginnings EditContrary to what the other sidhe might believe, Lady Fiona and her followers didn't receive the proprietorship of a noble house by bedding the High Lords and Ladies of Arcadia. No, Fiona and three trusted companions founded the house after a battle with a terrible redcap named "the Fachan," probably related in some fashion to the Fachan's Brood now plaguing Caledonia. This Fachan was a giant, cyclopean terror, the most frightening redcap ever known, with one leg, one arm, and long-fanged teeth. It hopped around the highlands squashing mortals and fae, gnashing their flesh while the bodies still wriggled. Worse, the Fachan was in league with a fearsome pooka called the Each-Uisge. It looked like a coal-black Percheron most of the time, but heaven forbid the thing should reach a body of water. For then, it turned into a horse-demon with ruby eyes, razor-sharp hooves, with worms wriggling out of its nostrils. The Each-Uisge gobbled up eagerly the Fachan's leavings, save for the victims livers, which the water beast shunned. This foul pair ran amok through the hills, sometimes venturing into the lowlands for a snack.
The number of deaths grew, so the dreamers and fae called for help. The High King of Arcadia listened in earnest. He summoned the best knights of House Gwydion, splendid warriors all, to hunt down the two beasts and bring back their heads. The finest dozen came, but the king chose only four deemed worthy of the task. They never returned. The remaining eight clamored for the chance to avenge their comrades, but the king refused with a heavy heart. He promised them their vengeance, but after they'd assembled a force great and strong; the Fachan and the Each-Uisge were simply too vile for a small company to thwart.
The Coming of a Lady Edit
As word went out among war leaders of House Gwydion to muster their forces, Lady Fiona came to see the king in private. Fiona was a well loved noble with loyal retainers in those days, but she was a minor player in Arcadian politics. With her were three beloved sidhe knights, all cousins and good friends: Sir Orpheus, a master of song and story; Sir Ardal, with his eagle eyes, and Dame Epona, Fiona's mistress of horse.
Fiona offered their services to the king but he was hesitant, not wanting to spurn their request, but also not wanting to grant it after he had denied the Gwydion a chance to avenge their kin. Fiona promised to serve only as scouts and not engage the enemy until the greater force arrived, using a gift of the Fianna to send word of the beast's location. They would not attack until the Gwydion forces crested the battlefield, then they would join in the victory. And so the king consented, sending the small band out with ample provisions.
The small band tracked the redcap and pooka for days. Ardal finally found huge footprints and splinters of bone in the Strath Naver Valley of Caledonia. Hardly anything was left of the victims, perhaps a family of crofters, save some rotting livers. The Fachan's tracks were slightly older, indicating it had left the site before the Each-Uisge. Fiona's party surmised that the Fachan had done the killing, ate the bones and marrow while leaving the innards for the pooka, and then lumbered off to find more prey. The Each-Uisge had followed apparently at its leisure. Fiona grimly packed the livers in a reserve pouch, wondering why the monstrous pooka hadn't eaten them.
The group came upon more and more remains, fresher each day, while moving quietly along the sloping highlands. Finally, just before sunset on the 20th day of their journey, Ardal spied the quarry. The Fachan and the Each-Uisge both lounged just over the next rise in a small vale surrounded by sloping hills on three sides. The monstrous pair were chewing gleefully the remains of some furry cattle. Orpheus lifted the golden horn to his lips and blew; the Fianna horn was silent to his companions but the winds carried his notes across the lands, through the sea and air, and back to the High King.
The Gwydion Come Edit
The clear tones sounded there, sending a siren's beacon to summon the warriors of Gwydion. The host, ready and waiting, plunged down great trods to encircle the valley cliffs that overlooked the monsters; the foul creatures had only one means of escaping the dead-end bend, and on that path stood the furious eight knights who demanded vengeance for their slain kin.
Spotting the shining warriors, the Fachan and the Each-Uisge roared in fury as one beast... and the mountains shook. Then, a terrible fear settled over the sidhe warriors like a death shroud. Their hearts, brave as the were, quivered. Mouths and lips turned dry as dust, and the terror of the mighty redcap Fachan struck all the host and their brave steeds. The Gwydion warriors tried so hard to resist, but could not. They backed away in horror and loathing in unison. Some darted away outright; others just hid their faces. Weeping, the eight knights felt rage rise in their breasts, but they could not confront the Fachan, whose power was too strong. The knights pulled away to let the dread beast pass unharmed. Fiona and her three companions stared in disbelief at the balking shining host.
Fiona's Battle Edit
Fiona tried to encourage the host, pointing out how the foe could not escape and that to slay them would allow all to go home to victory. But even the king turned his face away, though he did not run. Fiona stared a moment longer, feeling nothing of fear, before turning to Epona, Orpheus, and Ardal. They too stood their ground, confused at the fright of the others. They hesitated no longer. The mistress of horse pulled forth a golden bridle, while the maker of songs began a soothing tune on his harp. The eagle-eyed knight drew his sword and stood to guard the musician and block the valley's exit. Fiona and Epona moved forward slowly. With an evil grin, the Each-Uisge charged the ladies, as the Fachan loped toward Orpheus and Ardal while wielding a spike club in its one grotesque arm. The two beasts had found a taste for noble flesh after the slaughter of the the four Gwydion knights. Tonight, they would feast indeed.
Epona leapt as the pooka structure at her with its sharp hooves, landing gracefully on the beast's back. Before it could throw and trample her, she had leaned forward and slipped the bit and bridle into the monster's mouth and the strands of chain and leather over its head, as only one of her great skill could do. The Each-Uisge's jaws opened as Epona yanked hard on the reigns. Choking on the fetid breath of the creature, Fiona ignored the sharp teeth ripping her hands as she shoved all the livers from her pouch into the pooka's maw.
"Chew, swallow, and devour, you mockery of a steed! Were not the livers of the dead good enough for you? Eat them now and perish forever!" Fiona cried. The livers of any being were deadly to the pooka, as the beast well knew and Fiona had surmised. It fought to spit out the deadly organs, but a portion nonetheless slid down its gullet. The Each-Uisge fell to its knees and died in misery. Epona, partly trapped beneath, managed to pull herself free, though her bones were nearly crushed. Fiona drew her sword with a mauled hand and sliced the pooka's neck clean through.
At the vale's entrance, Orpheus' sweet song gave new hope to the fear-entranced sidhe. They could not move forward, but watched as the Fachan thumped along, enraptured and made sluggish by the music. The beast towered over Ardal, even with his proud bearing, and bashed the knight with a strong swing from its spiked club. Ardal's shield blocked most of the blow, but his arm was shattered. He thrust upward with his sword with all his might in retaliation, toward the Fachan's bloodshot eye. Luck and skill were with him that night, for his target was within his reach and the Fachan was too slowed by the harp music to dodge the blow. Ichor and aqueous humor jetted out of its eye as it screamed in agony. Moving swifter than most eyes could follow, Ardal then cut off the monster's leg and made quick work of the rest of the redcap's misshapen form. The spell of terror was broken.
While sorry they had not been the instruments of revenge, the remaining warriors of house Gwydion cheered for the triumph of Fiona and her champions. The king ordered the beasts' heads taken, then gathered the entire host around him to praise the victors. His personal healers cared for the grievous injuries of Epona and Ardal and for the lesser wounds of Fiona. When all had rested and enjoyed mead, the king had his herald summon forth the Lady Fiona and her knights.
"Good lords and ladies, this day you have proven your mettle. You have stood ground against fear's foul enchantment and fought with valor and honor. For this, I reward you with a noble house of your own, with sufficient lands and arms for those whom you recognize as family. The House Fiona's blazon shall be the lion passant reguardant argent. This device symbolizes what I have today witnessed with my own eyes: Red for Fiona's spilled blood and her courage, a lion for Epona's mighty leap, silver for the strings of Orpheus' harp, and the arms' main charge always guarding for Ardal's watchful eyes. Go now and enjoy the fruits of your estate."
All the wild ardor you might expect commenced then. So while you might remember we of House Fiona as seekers of earthly pleasures, never forget that we were founded through out might as warriors, always defiant and never knowing true fear in battle.