The First King of Scotland

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The Dál Riata were Gaels, originally from the land of Ireland. A century ago they left the Emerald Isle and sailed across the Irish Sea to conquer Argyll, a mountainous land of mist, lochs and glens. Since then, war has been a constant. War, with a tribe so foreign in their customs that to the Gaels they barely seem human. War, against a warrior people who the Romans built two enormously costly walls in an attempt to repel. War, with barbarians known as The Picts. This is the story of Kenneth McAlpin, the first King of Alba, who united the Gaels and Picts and fought the Vikings of Norway and the Saxons of England. This is also a story of the formation of a nation, the Nation of Scotland.

Action / Adventure
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The Kingdom of Dál Riata had always been led by men, but in truth, since the coronation of Fergus II, Kenneth's mother, Queen Cinead, was their leader in all but name. Cinead was a beautiful women, even though her youth was leaving her, with hair greying and her face beginning to wrinkle. But those dark eyes shone as bright as ever and she still had the regal stature of a women used to wielding power.

Many loved their Queen and held her as the mother of the Dál Riata, for she cared deeply for her Kingdom and had managed its affairs adroitly since the previous winter, when the King's health had first begin to fade. Many, also feared her, for her eyes betrayed her will of iron, a will that would do anything to ensure the elevation of the heir apparent, her son, to King.

"Kenneth! You cannot keep doing this! Raiding cattle from the Picts, it is not the behaviour expected of a future king!", lectured Cinead with her finger pointed like an arrow at her wayward son. Kenneth, feeling abushed by his clearly irrate mother, looked up from behind the massive oak table at which he had just been enjoying his breakfast, thankful for the distance it ensured between him and the Queen. "It's because no one expects it that I do it, mother. Haven't you always taught me to be unpredictable?" Cinead, knew her son to be stubborn and thus beyond reasoning with on occasions like this, yet still she tried, "that I have, but I've also taught you not to be a bloody imbecile, yet seems that lesson is far from learnt." Kenneth shrugged, "we've always stolen their cattle, just as they've always stolen ours". "Aye, we have and so have they, and we've also always been quick to slaughter each other. You know your father hasn't long for this world, yet you risk yourself, as the King's heir, for a few cattle?"

"Few cattle?", Kenneth asked, looking up from what was left from the roasted boar he had been enjoying. Queen Cinead stared at her son impassively, impatiently waiting for him to eleborate. "They'd brought down their herds to drink at Loch Awe. I cannot let that pass, it's our territory!" Cinead's eyes narrowed, "How many did you take, son?" Kenneth looked at his mother, but couldn't hold her gaze, a gaze of iron, so instead looked at the fire before quietly answering "over two hundred, must be most of their herd here in the western reaches." The Queen stood rigidly in the middle of her greathall, trying to control her anger. "You know what this means, don't you? They'll be coming into the glen while we sleep, to cut our throats. It means war!", screamed Cinead in frustration. Kenneth, transfixed by the smouldering fire in the middle of the room, spoke quietly, "I hope so mother, it was rather the point".

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