| Irish Celtic History II
, The Cattle-Raid of Cooley(Táin Bó Cúalng
Posted: 11-Apr-2009, 08:53 AM
Group: Celtic Nation
Realm: St. Louis, Missouri U.S.A.
22. Cethern's Strait Fight
Then said the men of Erin to macRoth the chief runner, to go watch and keep guard for them at Sliab Fuait, to the end that the Ulstermen might not come upon them without warning and unobserved. Thereupon macRoth went southwards as far as Sliab Fuait. MacRoth was not long there when he saw something: a lone chariot on Sliab Fuait making from the north straight towards him. A fierce man, stark-naked, in that chariot coming towards him, without arms, without armour at all save an iron spit in his hand. In equal manner he goaded his driver and his horses. And it seemed to him that he would never in his life come up to the hosts.
And macRoth hastened to tell this news at the fort where Ailill and Medb and Fergus were and the nobles of the men of Erin. Ailill asked tidings of him on his arrival. "Aye, macRoth," inquired Ailill; "hast thou seen any of the Ulstermen on the track of the host this day?" "That, truly, I know not," answered macRoth; "but I saw something: a lone chariot coming over Sliab Fuait straight towards us. A wild, stark-naked man in the chariot, without arms or armour at all, except for an iron spit in his hand. In equal manner he prodded his driver and his steeds. It seemed to him he would never in his life come up to the host."
"Who, thinkest thou, might it be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Meseems," Fergus answered, "it is Cethern son of Fintan that came there. Fergus indeed spoke true, that it was Fintan's son Cethern that was come there. And so Cethern son of Fintan came on them, and the camp and the garrison were confounded and he wounded all around him in every direction and on all sides and they wounded him in every direction and on all sides.
And then he left them, and his entrails and vitals were outside of him. He came to the place where was Cuchulain, to be healed and cured, and he demanded a physician of Cuchulain to heal and to cure him. "Come, master Laeg!" cried Cuchulain. "Arise, away with thee to the garrison and camp of the men of Erin and summon the physicians to come out to cure Cethern macFintain. I give my word, e'en though it be under the ground or in a well-shut house they are, I myself will bring death and destruction and slaughter upon them before this hour to-morrow, if they come not to minister to Cethern."
Laeg went his way to the quarters and camp of the men of Erin, and he called upon the physicians of the men of Erin to go forth to cure Cethern son of Fintan. Truth to tell, the physicians of the men of Erin were unwilling to go cure their adversary, their enemy and their stranger-foe. But they feared Cuchulain would work death and destruction and slaughter upon them if they went not. And so they went. As one man of them after the other came to him, Cethern son of Fintan showed him his stabs and his cuts, his sores and his bloody wounds. Each man of them that said he would not live and could not be healed, Cethern son of Fintan struck him a blow with his right fist in the front of his forehead, so that he drove the brains out through the windows of his ears and the seams of his skull. Howbeit Cethern son of Fintan killed them till there had come fifteen physicians of the physicians of the men of Erin.
The historian hath declared in proof thereof:
"These the physicians of the Táin,
Who by Cethern--bane--did fall.
No light thing, in floods of tribes,
That their names are known to me:
"Littè, Luaidren, known o'er sea,
Lot and Luaimnech, 'White-hand' Lonn,
Latheirne skilful, also Lonn,
Laisrè, Slanoll 'That cures all.'
"Dubthach, Fintan's blameless son
Fintan, master Firfial, too,
Mainè, Boethan 'Gives not pain,'
Eke his pupil, Boethan's son.
"These the physicians, five and ten,
Struck to death by Cethern, true;
I recall them in my day;
They are in the physicians' roll!"
Yea, even the fifteenth physician, it was but the tip of a blow that reached him. Yet he fell lifeless of the great stun between the bodies of the other physicians and lay there for a long space and time. Ithall, physician of Ailill and Medb, was his name.
Thereafter Cethern son of Fintan asked another physician of Cuchulain to heal and to cure him. "Come, master Laeg," quoth Cuchulain, "go for me to Fingin the seer-physician, at 'Fingin's Grave-mound' at Leccan ('the Brow') of Sliab Fuait, him that is physician to Conchobar. Bid him come to heal Cethern son of Fintan."
Laeg hastened to Fingin the seer-physician at 'Fingin's Grave-mound' at Leccan of Sliab Fuait, to the physician of Conchobar. And he told him to go cure Cethern son of Fintan. Thereupon Fingin the prophet-physician came. As soon as he was come, Cethern son of Fintan showed him his stabs and his cuts, his sores and his bloody wounds.
Posted: 12-Jun-2009, 12:01 AM
Group: Celtic Nation
Realm: St. Louis, Missouri U.S.A.
22a. Cethern's Bloody Wounds
["Look at this bloody wound for me, O Fingin," said Cethern.] Fingin looked at the bloody wound. "Why, it is a slight, unwillingly given wound we behold here," said the physician. "A lone man came upon me there; bushy hair on him; a blue mantle wrapped around him; a silver brooch in the mantle over his breast; an oval shield with plaited rim he bore; a five-pointed spear in his hand; a pronged spare spear at his side. He gave this bloody wound. He bore away a slight wound from me too." "Why, we know that man!" cried Cuchulain; "'twas Illann Ilarchless ('Illann of many feats') son of Fergus macRoig. And he would not wish that thou shouldst fall by his hand, but he gave thee this mock-blow that the men of Erin might not have it to say it was to betray them or to forsake them if he gave it not."
"Now look at this bloody wound for me, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. Fingin looked closely into the bloody wound. "Why, 'tis a woman's wanton deed of arms we behold here," said the physician. "Aye, that is true then," quoth Cethern; "a woman came upon me there by herself. A woman, beautiful, fair-faced, long-cheeked, tall; a golden-yellow head of hair, down to the top of her two shoulder-blades she wore; a smock of royal sammet next to her white skin; two birds of gold on her shoulders; a purple cloak without other colour she had around her; a brooch of gold in the cloak over her bosom; a straight, ridged spear, red-flaming in her hand. She it was that gave me this bloody wound. She bore away a slight wound from me too." "Ah, but we know that woman," cried Cuchulain; "Medb daughter of Eocho Fedlech, daughter of the High King of Erin; it is she that came unto us in that dress. A victory and triumph and trophy she had considered it hadst thou fallen at her hands."
"Look at this bloody wound for me too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. Fingin looked at the bloody wound. "Why, the feat of arms of two warriors is this," said the physician. "Yea, that is true," answered Cethern. "There came two men-at-arms upon me in that place; two, with bushy hair on them; two blue cloaks wrapped around them; brooches of silver in the cloaks over their breasts; a necklace of all-white silver around the neck of each of them." "Indeed we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Oll and Othinè they, of the bodyguard of Ailill and Medb; they never go to a hosting, to battle or combat, but when the wounding of a man is certain. They would have held it for victory and triumph and a boast hadst thou fallen at their hands."
"Look on this bloody wound also for me, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. Fingin looked closely at the bloody wound. "There came upon me a pair of young warriors of the Fian," said Cethern; "a splendid, manly appearance they had. Each of them cast a spear at me. I crave this spear through the one of them." Fingin looked into the bloody wound. "Why, this blood is all black," quoth the physician; "through thy heart those spears passed so that they formed a cross of themselves through thy heart; and I prophesy no cure here, but I would get thee some healing plants and curing charms that they destroy thee not forthwith." "Ah, but we know them, that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Bun and Mecconn ('Stump' and 'Root') are they, of the bodyguard of Ailill and Medb. It was their hope that thou shouldst fall at their hands."
"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. Fingin examined the bloody wound "Why, it is the red rush of the two sons of Ri Cailè ('the King of the Woods') that is here," said the physician. "Aye 'tis so," replied Cethern; "there attacked me there two fair-faced, dark-browed youths, huge, with diadems of gold on their heads. Two green mantles folded about them; two pins of bright silver on the mantles over their breasts; two five-pronged spears in their hands." "Why, near each other are the bloody wounds they gave thee," said the physician; "into thy gullet they went, so that the points of the spears struck one another within thee, and none the easier is it to work thy cure here." "We know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "noble youths of Medb's great household, Broen and Brudni, are they, two sons of Ri teora Soillse ('the King of the three Lights'), that is, the two sons of the King of the Woods. It had been victory and triumph and a boast for them, hadst thou fallen at their hands."
"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, my good Fingin," said Cethern. Fingin looked into the bloody wound. "The joint deed of two brothers is here," said the physician. "'Tis indeed true," replied Cethern. "There came upon me two leading, king's warriors. Yellow hair upon them; dark-grey mantles with fringes, wrapped around them; leaf-shaped brooches of silvered bronze in the mantles over their breasts; broad, grey lances in their hands." "Ah, but we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Cormac Colomon rig ('King's pillar') is the one, and Cormac son of Mael Foga, of the bodyguard of Ailill and Medb (the other). What they sought was that thou shouldst fall at their hands."
"Look at this bloody wound for me too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. Fingin looked into that bloody wound. "The assault of two brothers is here," said the physician. "Aye then, 'tis true," answered Cethern. "There came upon me two tender youths there; very much alike were they; curly dark hair on the one of them; curly yellow hair on the other; two green cloaks wrapped around them; two bright-silver brooches in the cloaks over their breasts; two tunics of smooth yellow silk next their skin; two white-hilted swords at their belts; two bright shields having the likenesses of beasts in white silver they bore; two five-pronged spears with veins of all-white silver in their hands." "Ah, but we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Manè 'Like to his mother' and Manè 'Like to his father,' two sons of Ailill and Medb; and it would be matter of victory, triumph and boasting to them, hadst thou fallen at their hands.
"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern. "There came upon me a pair of young warriors there. A brilliant appearance, stately-tall and manlike, they had; wonderful garments from far-away countries upon them. Each of them thrust the spear he had at me. Then I thrust this spear through each of them." Fingin looked into the bloody wound. "Cunning are the bloody wounds they inflicted upon thee," said the physician; "they have severed the strings of thy heart within thee, so that thy heart rolls about in thy breast like an apple in motion or like a ball of yarn in an empty bag, and there is no string at all to support it, and no healing can I effect here." "Ah, but we know those twain," quoth Cuchulain; "a pair of champions from Norway who have been sent particularly by Ailill and Medb to slay thee; for not often does one ever issue alive from their combats, and it would be their will that thou shouldst fall at their hands."
"Look upon this bloody wound for me too, my good Fingin," said Cethern. Fingin looked at that bloody wound. "Why, the alternate woundings of a son and his father we behold here," answered the physician. "Yea it is so," quoth Cethern; "two tall men, red as torches, came upon me there, with diadems of burnished gold upon them; kingly garments they wore; gold-hilted, hammered swords at their girdles, with scabbards of pure-white silver, with supports of mottled gold outside upon them. "Ah but we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Ailill and his son are they, Manè 'That embraces the traits of them all.' They would deem it victory and triumph and a boast shouldst thou fall at their hands."
Thus far the "Bloody Wounds" of the Táin.
"Speak, O Fingin prophetic physician," spake Cethern son of Fintan; "what verdict and what counsel givest me now?" "This verily is what I say to thee," replied Fingin the prophetic physician: "Count not on thy big cows for yearlings this year; for if thou dost, it is not thou that will enjoy them, and no profit will they bring thee." "This is the judgement and counsel the other surgeons did give me, and certain it is it brought them neither advantage nor profit, and they fell at my hands; and none the more will it bring thee advantage or profit, and thou shalt fall at my hands!" And he gave Fingin a strong, stiff kick with his foot, and sent him between the chariot's two wheels. "Oh, but vicious is the kick from the old warrior," cried Cuchulain. Hence, from this saying, is the name Uachtar Lua ('the Height of the Kick') in the land of Ross from then until this day.
Nevertheless Fingin the prophet-physician gave his choice to Cethern son of Fintan: A long illness for him and afterwards to obtain help and succour, or a red healing for the space of three days and three nights, so that he might then employ his strength on his enemies. What Cethern son of Fintan chose was a red healing for the space of three days and three nights, to the end that he might then vent his anger and strength on his enemies. For what he said was that there would not be found after him any one he would rather have vindicate or avenge him than himself.
Thereupon Fingin the prophetic physician asked of Cuchulain a vat of marrow wherewith to heal and to cure Cethern son of Fintan. Cuchulain proceeded to the camp and entrenchment of the men of Erin, and whatsoever he found of herds and flocks and droves there he took away with him. And he made a marrow-mesh of their flesh and their bones and their skins; and Cethern son of Fintan was placed in the marrow-bath till the end of three days and three nights. And his flesh began to drink in the marrow-bath about him and the marrow-bath entered in within his stabs and his cuts, his sores and his many wounds. Thereafter he arose from the marrow-bath at the end of three days and three nights. It was thus Cethern arose, with a slab of the chariot pressed to his belly so that his entrails and bowels would not drop out of him.
That was the time when his wife came from the north, from Dûn da Benn ('Fort of the two Gables'), and she brought his sword with her, even Finna daughter of Eocho. Cethern son of Fintan seized his arms and proceeded to attack the men of Erin. But this is to be added: They sent a warning before him; Ithall, physician of Ailill and Medb, had remained as one dead of the great stun from the blow of Gethern among the bodies of the other physicians for a long space and time [and he, the physician that had alone escaped from Cethern, brought the alarm to the camp.]
"Hark, ye men of Erin," shouted the physician; "Cethern son of Fintan comes to attack you, now that he has been healed and cured by Fingin the prophetic physician, and take ye heed of him!" Thereat the men of Erin in fear put Ailill's dress and his golden shawl and his regal diadem on the pillar-stone in Crich Ross, that it might be thereon that Cethern son of Fintan should first give vent to his anger on his arrival.
Soon Cethern saw those things, namely Ailill's dress and his golden shawl around the standing-stone in Crich Ross, and he, being unaware and witless, conceived it to be Ailill himself that was in it. And he made a rush at it like a blast of wind and crave the sword through the stone pillar till it went up to its pommel. "Deceit is here," cried Cethern son of Fintan, "and on me have ye worked this deceit. And I swear an oath, till there be found among ye of the men of Erin one that will put yon royal dress about him and the golden shawl, I will not stay my hand from them, slaughtering and destroying withal!"
Manè Andoe son of Ailill and Medb heard that, and he put his father's royal raiment about him and the golden shawl and the diadem on his head, and he dashed off through the midst of the men of Erin. Cethern son of Fintan pursued him closely and hurled his shield, so that the chiselled rim of the shield crave him to the ground, with chariot, driver, and horses. When the men of Erin saw that, they surrounded Cethern on every side, so that he fell at their hands in the strait wherein he was. Wherefore 'Cethern's Strait-Fight and the Bloody Wounds of Cethern' is the name of this tale.
His wife, Finna daughter of Eocho Salbuidê ('Yellow-heel') stood over him and she was in great sorrow, and she made the funeral-song below:
"I care for naught, care for naught;
Ne'er more man's hand 'neath my head,
Since was dug the earthy bed,
Cethern's bold, of Dun da Benn!
"Kingly Cethern, Fintan's son;
Few were with him on the ford.
Connacht's men with all their host,
For nine hours he left them not!
"Arms he bore not--this an art--
But a red, two-headed pike;
With it slaughtered he the host,
While his anger still was fresh!
"Felled by double-headed pike,
Cethern's hand held, with their crimes,.
Seven times fifty of the hosts,
Fintan's son brought to their graves!
"Willa-loo, oh, witla-loo!
Woman's d wandering through the mist.
Worse it is for him that's dead.
She that lives may find a man!
"Never I shall take a man
Of the hosts of this good world;
Never shall I sleep with man;
Never shall my man with wife!
Dear the homestead, 'Horse-head's Dûn,'
Where our hosts were wont to go.
Dear the water, soft and sweet;
Dear the isle, 'Isle of the Red!'
Sad the care, oh, sad the care,
Cualnge's Cow-raid brought on me:
Cethern, Fintan's son, to keen.
Oh that he had shunned his woe!
Great the doings, these, oh, great,
And the deed that here was done:
I bewailing him till death,
Him that has been smitten down!
Finna, Eocho's daughter, I,
Found a fight of circling spears.
Had my champion had his arms:
By his side a slaughtered heap!"
Posted: 22-Sep-2013, 06:27 PM
Group: Celtic Nation
Realm: St. Louis, Missouri U.S.A.
I am very sorry I never finished this thread, Life has a way of takeing over and things ment to be finished get laid on the wayside, please forgive me, I will endever to finish this in the next few days, Thank you.
23. Here Followeth the Tooth-Fight of Fintan
Fintan, himself the son of Niall Niamglonnach ('of the brilliant Exploits') from Dûn da Benn, was father of Cethern son of Fintan. And he came to save the honour of Ulster and to avenge his son upon the hosts. Thrice fifty was his number. And thus it was they came, and two spear-heads on each shaft with them, a spear-head on the top and a spear-head at the butt, so that it made no difference whether they wounded the hosts with the points or with the butts. They offered three battles to the hosts. And thrice their own number fell at their hands, and there fell also the people of Fintan son of Niall, all excepting Fintan's son Crimthann alone. This one was saved under a canopy of shields by Ailill and Medb.
Then said the men of Erin, it would be no disgrace for Fintan son of Niall to withdraw from the camp and quarters, and they would give up Crimthann son of Fintan to him, and then the hosts would fall back a day's march to the north again; and that he should cease from his deeds of arms against the hosts till he would come to encounter them on the day of the great battle at the place where the four grand provinces of Erin would clash at Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Cattle-reaving of Cualnge, as was foretold by the druids of the men of Erin. Fintan son of Niall consented to that, and they gave over his son to him. He withdrew from the camp and station, and the host marched a day's journey back to the north again, to stop and cease their advance.
In this manner they found each man of the people of Fintan son of Niall Niamglonnach and each man of the men of Erin, with the lips and the nose of each of them in the teeth and tusks of the other. The men of Erin gave thought to that: "This is a tooth-fight for us," said they; "the tooth-fight of Fintan's people and of Fintan himself." So this is the 'Tooth-fight' of Fintan.
23a. The Red-Shame of Menn Followeth Here
It was then came to them great Menn son of Salcholga, he from Renna ('the Waterways') of the Boyne in the north. Twelve men with many-pointed weapons, that was his number. It was thus they came, and two spearheads on each shaft with them, a spear-head on the top and a spearhead at the butt, so that it made no difference whether they wounded the hosts with the points or with the butts.
They offered three attacks upon the hosts. Three times their own number fell at their hands and there fell twelve men of the people of Menn. But Menn himself was sorely wounded in the strait, so that blood ran crimson on him. Then said the men of Erin: "Red is this shame," said they, "for Menn son of Salcholga, that his people, should be slain and destroyed and he himself wounded till blood ran crimson red upon him." Hence here is the 'Reddening Shame of Menn.'
Then said the men of Erin, it would be no dishonour for Menn son of Salcholga to leave the camp and quarters, and that the hosts would go a day's journey back to the north again, and that Menn should cease his weapon-feats on the hosts till Conchobar arose out of his 'Pains' and battle would be offered them at Garech and Ilgarech, as the druids and soothsayers and the knowers of the men of Erin had foretold it.
Menn son of Salcholga agreed to that, to leave the camp and halting-place. And the hosts fell back a day's march for to rest and wait, and Menn went his way to his own land.
23b. Here Followeth the Accoutrement of the Charioteers
Then came the charioteers of the Ulstermen to them. Thrice fifty was their number. They offered three battles to the hosts. Thrice their number fell at their hands, and the charioteers themselves fell on the field whereon they stood. Hence this here is called the 'Accoutrement of the Charioteers [with stones.]'
23c. The White-Fight of Rochad Now Followeth
Rochad Rigderg ('Red-king') son of Fathemon, was of Ulster. Thrice fifty warriors was his number, and he took possession of a hill fronting the hosts. Finnabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, perceived that and she went to speak to her mother thereof, even to Medb. "Truly have I loved yonder warrior for a long time," said she; "and it is he is my sweetheart, and mine own choice one in wooing." "An thou hast so loved him, daughter," quoth Ailill and Medb, "sleep with him this night and crave for us a truce of him for the hosts, until he encounters us on the day of the great battle when four of the grand provinces of Erin will meet at Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Foray of Cualnge." Rochad son of Fathemon accepted the offer and that night the damsel slept with him.
An Under-king of Munster that was in the camp heard the tale. He went to his people to speak of it. "Yonder maiden was plighted to me on fifteen hostages once long ago," said he; "and it is for this I have now come on this hosting." Now wherever it happened that the seven Under-kings of Munster were, what they all said was that it was for this they were come. "Why," said they, "should we not go to avenge our wife and our honour on the Manè, who are watching and guarding the rear of the army at Imlech in Glendamrach ('Kettle-glen's navel')?"
This was the course they resolved upon. And with their seven divisions of thirty hundreds they arose. Ailill arose with thirty hundred after them. Medb arose with her thirty hundred. The sons of Maga with theirs and the Leinstermen and the Munstermen and the people of Tara. And a mediation was made between them so that each of them sat down near the other and hard by his arms.
Howbeit before the intervention took place, eight hundred very valiant warriors of them had fallen. Finnabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, had tidings that so great a number of the men of Erin had fallen for her sake and on account of her. And her heart broke in her breast even as a nut, through shame and disgrace, so that Finnabair Slebe ('Finnabair of the Mount') is the name of the place where she fell, died and was buried.
Then said the men of Erin, "White is this battle," said they, "for Rochad son of Fathemon, in that eight hundred exceeding brave warriors fell for his sake and on his account and he himself goes safe and whole to his country and land without blood-shedding or reddening on him." Hence this is the 'White-fight' of Rochad.
23d. Here Followeth Iliach's Clump-Fight
Then came to them Iliach son of Cass son of Bacc son of Ross Ruad son of Rudraige. It was told him that the four grand provinces of Erin even then laid waste and invaded the lands of Ulster and of the Picts and of Cualnge from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring. He then conceived a plan in his mind and he made perfect his plan privily with his people. "What counsel were better for me to make than to go and attack the men of Erin and to have my victory over them, and thus avenge the honour of Ulster. And I care not though I should fall myself there thereafter."
And this is the counsel he followed. His two withered, mangy, sorrel nags that were upon the strand hard by the fort were led to him. Thus he mounted his chariot, without either covers or cushions. His big, rough, pale-grey shield of iron he carried upon him, with its rim of hard silver around it. He wore his rough, grey-hilted, huge smiting sword at his left side. He placed his two rickety-headed, nicked, blunt, rusted spears by his side in the chariot. His folk furnished his chariot around him with cobbles and boulders and huge clumps.
In such wise he fared forth to assail the men of Erin. And thus he came, and the spittle from his gaping mouth trickling down through the chariot under him. "Truly it would be well for us," said the men of Erin, "if this were the manner in which all the Ulstermen came to us on the plain."
Dochè son of Maga met him and bade him welcome. "Welcome is thy coming, O Iliach," spake Dochè son of Maga. "Truly spoken I esteem that welcome," answered Iliach; "but do thou for the sake of that welcome come to me when now, alas, my deeds of arms will be over and my warlike vigour will have vanished, so that thou be the one to cut off my head and none other of the men of Erin. However, my sword shall remain with thee for thine own friend, even for Loegaire Buadach!
He assailed the men of Erin with his weapons till he had made an end of them. And when weapons failed he assailed the men of Erin with cobbles and boulders and huge clumps of earth. And when these weapons failed him he spent his rage on the man that was nearest him of the men of Erin, and bruised him grievously between his fore-arms and his sides and the palms of his hands, till he made a marrow-mass of him, of flesh and bones and sinews and skin.
Hence in memory thereof, these two masses of marrow still live on side by side, the marrow-mass that Cuchulain made of the bones of the Ulstermen's cattle for the healing of Cethern son of Fintan, and the marrow-mass that Iliach made of the bones of the men of Erin. Wherefore this was one of the three innumerable things of the Tain, the number of them that fell at the hands of Iliach. So that this is the 'Clumpfight' of Iliach. It is for this reason it is called the 'Clump-fight' of Iliach, because with cobbles and boulders and messy clumps he made his fight.
Thereafter Dochè son of Maga met him. "Is not this Iliach?" asked Dochè son of Maga. "It is truly I," Iliach gave answer; "and come to me now and cut off my head and let my sword remain with thee for thy friend, for Loegaire Buadach ('the Victorious')." Dochè came near him and gave him a blow with the sword so that he severed his head. Thus to this point, the 'Clump-fight' of Iliach.
23e. Here Now The Deer-Stalking of Amargin in Taltiu
This Amargin was the son of Cass who was son of Bacc who was son of Ross Ruad ('the Red') who was son of Rudraige. He came upon the warriors going over Taltiu westward, and he made them turn before him over Taltiu northwards. And he put his left elbow under him in Taltiu. And his people furnished him with rocks and boulders and great clumps of earth, and he began to pelt the men of Erin till the end of three days and three nights.
The adventures of Curoi son of Darè follow now.
He was told that a single man was checking and stopping four of the five grand provinces of Erin from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring. And he felt it unworthy of himself and he deemed it too long that his people were without him. And it was then he set out to the host to fight and contend with Cuchulain. And when he was come to the place where Cuchulain was, he saw Cuchulain there moaning, full of wounds and pierced through with holes, and he felt it would not be honourable nor fair to fight and contend with him after the combat with Ferdiad. Because it would be said it was not that Cuchulain died of the sores and wounds which he would give him so much as of the wounds which Ferdiad had inflicted on him in the conflict before. Be that as it might, Cuchulain offered to engage with him in battle and combat.
Thereupon Curoi set forth for to seek the men of Erin and, when he was near at hand, he espied Amargin there and his left elbow under him to the west of Taltiu. Curoi reached the men of Erin from the north. His people equipped him with rocks and boulders and great clumps, and he began to hurl them right over against Amargin, so that Badb's battle-stones collided in the clouds and in the air high above them, and every rock of them was shivered into an hundred stones.
"By the truth of thy valour, O Curoi," cried Medb, "desist from thy throwing, for no real succour nor help comes to us therefrom, but ill is the succour and help that thence come to us." "I pledge my word," cried Curoi, "I will not cease till the very day of doom and of life, till first Amargin cease!" "I will cease," said Amargin; "and do thou engage that thou wilt no more come to succour or give aid to the men of Erin." Curoi consented to that and went his way to return to his land and people.
About this time the hosts went past Taltiu westwards. "It is not this was enjoined upon me," quoth Amargin: "never again to cast at the hosts." And he went to the west of them and he turned them before him north-eastwards past Taltiu. And he began to pelt them for a long while and time.
Then it was also that the men of Erin said it would be no disgrace for Amargin to leave the camp and quarters, and that the hosts would retire a day's march back to the north again, there to stop and stay, and for him to quit his feats of arms upon the hosts until such time as he would meet them on the day of the great battle when the four grand provinces of Erin would encounter at Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Raid for the Kine of Cualnge. Amargin accepted that offer, and the hosts proceeded a day's march back to the northwards again. Wherefore the 'Deer-stalking' of Amargin in Taltiu the name of this tale.
Posted: 25-Sep-2013, 03:17 PM
Group: Celtic Nation
Realm: St. Louis, Missouri U.S.A.
24. The Repeated Warning of Sualtaim
Now while the deeds we have told here were being done, Sualtaim ('Goodly fosterer') son of Becaltach ('of Small belongings') son of Moraltach ('of Great belongings'), the same the father of Cuchulain macSualtaim, was told of the distress of his son contending in unequal combat on the Cualnge Cattle-spoil, even against Calatin Dana ('the Bold') with his seven and twenty sons, and against Glass son of Delga, his grandson.
"Whate'er it be, this that I hear from afar," quoth Sualtaim, "it is the sky that bursts or the sea that ebbs or the earth that quakes, or is it the distress of my son overmatched in the strife on the Driving of the Kine of Cualnge?" In that, indeed, Sualtaim spoke true. And he went to learn all after a while, without hastening on his way. And when Sualtaim was come to where his son Cuchulain was, Sualtaim began to moan and lament for Cuchulain.
Forsooth Cuchulain deemed it neither an honour nor glory that Sualtaim should bemoan and lament him, for Cuchulain knew that, wounded and injured though he was, Sualtaim would not be the man to avenge his wrong. For such was Sualtaim: He was no mean warrior and he was no mighty warrior, but only a good, worthy man was he. "Come, my father Sualtaim," said Cuchulain, "do thou go to Emain Macha to the men of Ulster and tell them to come now to have a care for their droves, for no longer am I able to protect them in the gaps and passes of the land of Conalle Murthemni. All alone am I against four of the five grand provinces of Erin from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring, every day slaying a man on a ford and a hundred warriors every night. Fair fight is not granted me nor single combat, and no one comes to aid me nor to succour. Spancel-hoops hold my cloak over me. Dry tufts of grass are stuffed in my wounds. There is not a single hair on my body from my crown to my sole whereon the point of a needle could stand, without a drop of deep-red blood on the top of each hair, save the left hand alone which is holding my shield, and even there thrice fifty bloody wounds are upon it. And let them straightway give battle to the warriors, and unless they avenge this anon, they will never avenge it till the very day of doom and of life!"
Sualtaim set out on Liath ('the Roan') of Macha as his only horse, with warning to the men of Ulster. And when he was come alongside of Emain, he shouted these words there: "Men are slain, women stolen, cattle lifted, ye men of Ulster!" cried Sualtaim.
He had not the answer that served him from the Ulstermen, and forasmuch as he had it not he went on further to the rampart of Emain. And he cried out the same words there: "Men are slain, women stolen, cattle lifted, ye men of Ulster!" cried Sualtaim.
Again he had not the response that served him from the men of Ulster. Thus stood it among the Ulstermen: It was geis for the Ulstermen to speak before their king, geis for the king to speak before his druids. Thereafter Sualtaim drove on to the 'Flag-stone of the hostages' in Emain Macha. He shouted the same words there: "Men are slain, women stolen, cows carried off!"
"But who has slain them, and who has stolen them, and who has carried them off?" asked Cathba the druid. "Ailill and Medb have overwhelmed you," said Sualtaim. "Your wives and your sons and your children, your steeds and your stock of horses, your herds and your flocks and your droves of cattle have been carried away. Cuchulain all alone is checking and staying the hosts of the four great provinces of Erin at the gaps and passes of the land of Conalle Murthemni. Fair fight is refused him, nor is he granted single combat, nor comes any one to succour or aid him. The youth is wounded, his limbs are out of joint. Spancel-hoops hold his cloak over him. There is not a hair from his crown to his sole whereon the point of a needle could stand, without a drop of deep-red blood on the top of each hair, except his left hand alone which is holding his shield, and even there thrice fifty bloody wounds are upon it. And unless ye avenge this betimes, ye will never avenge it till the end of time and of life."
"Fitter is death and doom and destruction for the man that so incites the king!" quoth Cathba the druid. "In good sooth, it is true!" said the Ulstermen all together. Thereupon Sualtaim went his way from them, indignant and angry because from the men of Ulster he had not had the answer that served him.
Then reared Liath ('the Roan') of Macha under Sualtaim and dashed on to the ramparts of Emain. Thereat Sualtaim fell under his own shield, so that the edge of the shield severed Sualtaim's head. The horse himself turned back again to Emain, and the shield on the horse and the head on the shield. And Sualtaim's head uttered the same words: "Men are slain women stolen, cattle lifted, ye men of Ulster!" spake the head of Sualtaim.
"Some deal too great is that cry," quoth Conchobar; "for yet is the sky above us, the earth underneath and the sea round about us. And unless the heavens shall fall with their showers of stars on the man-like face of the world, or unless the ground burst open in quakes beneath our feet, or unless the furrowed, blue-bordered ocean break o'er the tufted brow of the earth, will I restore to her byre and her stall, to her abode and her dwelling-place, each and every cow and woman of them with victory of battle and contest and combat!"
Thereupon a runner of his people was summoned to Conchobar, Findchad Ferbenduma ('he of the copper Horn') to wit, son of Fraech Lethan ('the Broad'), and he bade him go assemble and muster the men of Ulster. And in like manner, Conchobar enumerated to him their quick and their dead, in the drunkenness of sleep and of his 'Pains,' and he uttered these words: The Order of the men of Ulster.
"Arise, O Findchad!
I Thee I send forth:
A negligence not to be wished (?);
Proclaim it to the chiefs of Ulster!
24a. The Order of the Men of Ulster
"Arise, O Findchad!" [said Conchobar,]
I Thee I send forth:
A negligence not to be wished (?);
Proclaim it to the chiefs of Ulster!
Go thou forward to Derg, to Deda at his bay, to Lemain, to Follach, to Illann son of Fergus at Gabar, to Dornaill Feic at Imchlar, to Derg Imdirg, to Fedilmid son of Ilar Cetach of Cualnge at Ellonn, to Reochad son of Fathemon at Rigdonn, to Lug, to Lugaid, to Cathba at his bay, to Carfre at Ellne, to Laeg at his causeway, to Gemen in his valley, to Senoll Uathach at Diabul Ard, to Cethern son of Fintan at Carrloig, to Cethern at Eillne, to Tarothor, to Mulach at his fort, to the royal poet Amargin, to Uathach Bodba, to the Morrigan at Dûn Sobairche, to Eit, to Roth, to Fiachna at his mound, to Dam drend, to Andiaraid, to Manè Macbriathrach, to Dam Derg, to Mod, to Mothus, to Iarmothus at Corp Cliath, to Gabarlaig in Linè, to Eocho Semnech in Semne, to Eochaid Laithrech at Latharne, to Celtchar son of Uthecar in Lethglas, to Errgè Echbel at Bri Errgi, to Uma son of Remarfessach at Fedain in Cualnge, to Munremur son of Gerrcend at Moduirn, to Senlabair at Canann Gall, to Fallomain, to Lugaid, king of the Fir Bolg, to Lugaid of Linè, to Buadgalach, to Abach, to Fergna at Barrene, to Anè, to Aniach, to Abra, to Loegaire Milbel, at his fire (?), to the three sons of Trosgal at Bacc Draigin, to Drend, to Drenda, to Drendus, to Cimb, to Cimbil, to Cimbin at Fan na Coba, to Fachtna son of Sencha at his rash, to Sencha, to Senchainte, to Bricriu, to Briccirne son of Bricriu, to Brecc, to Buan, to Barach, to Oengus of the Fir Bolg, to Oengus son of Letè, to Fergus son of Letè, to . . . (?), to Bruachar, to Slangè, to Conall Cernach son of Amargin at Midluachar, to Cuchulain son of Sualtaim at Murthemne, to Menn son of Salcholga at Rena, to the three sons of Fiachna, Ross, Darè and Imchad at Cualnge, to Connud macMorna at the Callann, to Condra son of Amargin at his rash, to Amargin at Ess Ruaid, to Laeg at Leirè, to Oengus Ferbenduma, to Ogma Grianainech at Brecc, to Eo macFornè, to Tollcend, to Sudè at Mag Eol in Mag Dea, to Conla Saeb at Uarba, to Loegaire Buadach at Immail, to Amargin Iarngiunnach at Taltiu, to Furbaide Ferbenn son-of Conchobar at Sil in Mag Inis, to Cuscraid Menn of Macha son of Conchobar at Macha, to Fingin at Fingabair, to Blae 'the Hospitaller of a score,' to Blae 'the Hospitaller of six men,' to Eogan son of Durthacht at Fernmag, to Ord at Mag Sered, to Oblan, to Obail at Culenn, to Curethar, to Liana at Ethbenna, to Fernel, to Finnchad of Sliab Betha, to Talgoba at Bernas, to Menn son of the Fir Cualann at Mag Dula, to Iroll at Blarinè, to Tobraidè son of Ailcoth, to Ialla Ilgremma, to Ross son of Ulchrothach at Mag Dobla, to Ailill Finn, to Fethen Bec, to Fethan Mor, to Fergus son of Finnchoem at Burach, to Olchar, to Ebadchar, to Uathchar, to Etatchar, to Oengus son of Oenlam Gabè, to Ruadri at Mag Tail, to Manè son of Crom, to Nindech son of Cronn, to . . . (?), to Mal macRochraidi, to Beothach, to Briathrach at his rash, to Narithla at Lothor, to the two sons of Feic, Muridach and Cotreb, to Fintan son of Niamglonnach at Dun da Benn, to Feradach Finn Fechtnach at Nemed of Sliab Fuait, to Amargin son of Ecetsalach at the Buas, to Bunnè son of Munremar, to Fidach son of Dorarè, to Muirnè Menn.
It was nowise a heavy task for Finnchad to gather this assembly and muster which Conchobar had enjoined upon him. For all there were of Ulstermen to the east of Emain and to the west of Emain and to the north of Emain set out at once for the field of Emain in the service of their king, and at the word of their lord, and to await the recovery of Conchobar. Such as were from the south of Emain waited not for Conchobar, but set out directly on the trail of the host and on the hoof-prints of the Táin.
The first stage the men of Ulster marched under Conchobar was from Emain to the green in Iraird Cuillinn that night. "Why now delay we, ye men?" Conchobar asked. "We await thy sons," they answered; "Fiacha and Fiachna who have gone with a division from us to Tara to fetch Erc son of thy daughter Fedlimid Nocruthach ('Nine-shaped'), son also of Carbre Niafer king of Tara, to the end that he should come with the number of his muster and his troops, his levy and his forces to our host at this time." "By my word," exclaimed Conchobar; "I will delay here no longer for them, lest the men of Erin hear of my rising from the weakness and 'Pains' wherein I was. For the men of Erin know not even if I am still alive!"
Thereupon Conchobar and Celtchar proceeded with thirty hundred spear-bristling chariot-fighters to Ath Irmidi ('the Ford of Spear-points'). And there met them eight-score huge men of the body-guard of Ailill and Medb, with eight-score women as their spoils. Thus was their portion of the plunder of Ulster: A woman-captive in the hand of each man of them. Conchobar and Celtchar struck off their eight-score heads and released their eight-score captive-women. Ath Irmidi ('the Ford of Spear-points') was the name of the place till that time; Ath Fenè is its name ever since. It is for this it is called Ath Fenè, because the warriors of the Fenè from the east and the warriors of the Fenè from the west encountered one another in battle and contest man for man on the brink of the ford.
Conchobar and Celtchar returned that night to the green in Iraird Cuillinn hard by the men of Ulster. Thereupon Celtchar aroused the men of Ulster.
24b. The Agitation of Celtchar
It was then that Celtchar in his sleep uttered these words in the midst of the men of Ulster in Iraird Cuillinn that night:
"Thirty hundred chariot-men;
An hundred horse-companions stout;
An hundred with an hundred druids!
To lead us will not fail
The hero of the land,
Conchobar with hosts around him!
Let the battle line be formed!
Gather now, ye warriors!
Battle shall be fought
At Garech and Ilgarech
On aftermorrow's morn!"
On that same night Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar's son, spake these words to the men of Erin at Slemain Mide that night:
"A wonder of a morning,
A wondrous I time!
When hosts will be confused,
Kings turned back in flight!
Necks will be broken,
The sand made red,
When forth breaks the battle, the seven chieftains before,
Of Ulster's host round Conchobar!
Their women will they defend,
For their herds will they fight
At Garech and Ilgarech,
On the morning after the morrow! "
On that same night, Dubthach Doel ('the Scorpion') of Ulster uttered these words in his sleep among the men of Erin at Slemain Mide that night:
"Great be the morn,
The morn of Meath!
Great be the truce
The truce of Culenn!
"Great be the fight,
The fight Of Clartha!
Great, too, the steeds,
The steeds of Assal!
"Great be the plague,
The plague of Tuath-Bressi!
Great be the storm,
Ulster's battle-storm round Conchobar!
"Their women will they defend,
For their herds will they fight
At Garech and Ilgarech,
On the morning after the morrow!"
Dubthach was awakened from his sleep, so that Nemain brought confusion on the host and they fell trembling in their arms under the points of their spears and weapons, so that an hundred warriors of them fell dead in the midst of their camp and quarters at the fearfulness of the shout they heard on high. Be that as it would, that night was not the calmest for the men of Erin that they passed before or since, because of the forebodings and predictions and because of the spectres and visions that were revealed to them.
Posted: 28-Sep-2013, 06:02 PM
Group: Celtic Nation
Realm: St. Louis, Missouri U.S.A.
25. Here Followeth The Array of The Host
Toichim na m-buiden ann-so.
Said Ailill: "Truly have I succeeded," said he, "in laying waste Ulster and the land of the Picts from Monday at Summer's end till Spring's beginning. We have taken their women and the sons and their children, their steeds and their troops of horses, their herds and their flocks and their droves. We have laid level their hills after them, so that they have become lowlands and are all one height. For this cause, will I await them no longer here, but let them offer me battle on Mag Ai, if so it please them. But, say here what we will, some one shall go forth from us to watch the great, wide plain of Meath, to know if the men of Ulster come hither. And, should the men of Ulster come hither, I will in no wise be the first to retreat till battle be given them, for it was never the wont of a good king to retreat." "Who should fitly go thither?" asked all. "Who but macRoth our chief runner yonder?"
MacRoth went his way to survey the great wide-spreading plain of Meath. Not long was macRoth there when he heard something: A rush and a crash and a clatter and a clash. Not slight the thing he judged it to be, but as though it was the firmament itself that fell on the man-like face of the world, or as though it was the furrowed, blue-bordered ocean that broke o'er the tufted brow of the earth, or as though the ground had gone asunder in quakes, or as though the forest fell, each of the trees in the crotches and forks and branches of the other. But why give further accounts! The wood's wild beasts were hunted out on the plain, so that beneath them the grassy forelocks of the plain of Meath were not to be seen.
MacRoth hastened to tell this tale at the place where were Ailill and Medb and Fergus and the nobles of the men of Erin. MacRoth related the whole matter to them.
"What was that there, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Not hard to say," said Fergus. "It was the rush and tramp and clatter that he heard," said Fergus, "the din and thunder, the tumult and turmoil of the Ulstermen, who have come into the woods, the throng of champions and battle-heroes cutting down with their swords the woods in the way of their chariots. This it was that hath put the wild animals to flight on the plain, so that the grassy forelocks of the field of Meath are hidden beneath them!"
Another time macRoth surveyed the plain and he saw something: a heavy, grey mist that filled the space between the heavens and earth. It seemed to him that the hills were islands in lakes that he saw rising up out of the sloping valleys of mist. It seemed to him they were wide-yawning caverns that he saw there leading into that mist. It seemed to him it was all-white, flaxy sheets of linen, or sifted snow a-falling that he saw there through a rift in the mist. It seemed to him it was a flight of many, varied, wonderful, numerous birds, or the constant sparkling of shining stars on a bright, clear night of hoar-frost, or sparks of red-flaming fire. He heard something: A rush and a din and a hurtling sound, a noise and a thunder, a tumult and a turmoil. He hastened on to impart these tidings at the place where were Ailill and Medb and Fergus and the nobles of the men of Erin. He reported the matter to them.
"But what was that, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Not hard to say," Fergus made answer. "This was the great, grey mist that he saw which filled the space between the heavens and earth, namely, the streaming breath both of horses and men, the smoke of the earth and the dust of the roads as it rose over them with the driving of the wind, so that it made a heavy, deep-grey misty vapour thereof in the clouds and the air.
"These were the islands over lakes that he saw there, and the tops of hills and of heights over the sloping valleys of mist, even the heads of the champions and battle-heroes over the chariots and the chariots withal. These were the wide-yawning caverns that he saw there leading into that mist, even the mouths and the nostrils of the horses and champions exhaling and inhaling the sun and the wind with the speed of the host.
These were the all-white, flax-like cloths that he saw there or the streaming snow a-falling, to wit the foam and the froth that the bridles of the reins flung from the bits of strong, stout steeds with the stress, with the swiftness and strength and speed of the host.
"These were the flights of many, various, wonderful, numerous birds that he saw there, even the dust of the ground and the top of the earth and the sods which the horses flung from their feet and their hoofs and arose over the heads of the host with the driving of the wind.
"This was the rush and the crash and the hurtling sound, the din and the thunder, the clatter and clash that he heard there, to wit the shield-shock of shields and the jangle of javelins and the hard-smiting of swords and the ring of helmets, the clangour of breast-plates and the rattle of arms and the fury of feats, the straining of ropes and the whirr of wheels and the trampling of horses' hoofs and the creaking of chariots, and the deep voices of heroes and battle-warriors coming hither towards us.
"This was the constant sparkling of shining stars on a bright, clear night that he saw there and the sparks of red-flaming fire, even the bloodthirsty, terrible eyes of the champions and battle-warriors from under beautiful, well-shaped, finely-adorned battle-helmets; eyes full of the fury and rage they brought with them, against the which neither before nor since has equal combat nor overwhelming force of battle prevailed, and against which it will never prevail till the very day of doom and of life!"
"We make not much of that," quoth Medb. "For there are goodly warriors and goodly fighting-men with us to cope with them." "Thou shalt have need of them," answered Fergus. "Truly, I count not on that, O Medb. For I give my word, thou shalt find no host in all Erin, nor in Alba, to cope with the men of Ulster when once their anger comes on them!"
Then did the four grand provinces of Erin pitch camp and make lodgment at Clartha for that night. They sent forth folk to keep watch and guard against Ulster, to the end that the Ulstermen might not come upon them without warning, without notice.
Then it was that Conchobar and Celtchar with thirty hundred bristling chariot-fighters set forth, till they halted at Slemain Mide ('Slane of Meath') in the rear of the host. But, though 'halted' we have said, a very brief halt made they there, but proceeded for a favourable sign to the quarters of Ailill and Medb, so they might be the first of all to redden their hands.
It was not long macRoth had been there when he saw something: An incomparable, immense troop of horsemen in Slane of Meath coming straight from the northeast. He hastened forward to where were Ailill and Medb and Fergus and the chiefs of the men of Erin. Ailill asked tidings of him on his arrival: "Say, mac Roth," queried Ailill; "sawest thou aught of the men of Ulster on the trail of the host this day?" "Truly I know not," answered macRoth; "but I saw an incomparable, immense troop of horsemen in Slane of Meath coming straight from the north-east." "But how many numbered the horse-troop?" asked Ailill. "Not fewer, meseemed, than thirty hundred fully armed chariot-fighters were they, even ten hundred and twenty hundred fully armed chariot-fighters," macRoth made answer.
"So, O Fergus," quoth Ailill. "How thinkest thou to terrify us till now with the smoke and dust and the breath of a mighty host, while all the battle-force thou hast is that we see yonder!" "A little too soon belittles thou them," Fergus retorted; "for mayhap the bands are more numerous than is said they are."
"Let us take good, swift counsel on the matter," said Medb; "for yon huge, most fierce, most furious man will attack us we ween, Conchobar, to wit, son of Fachtna Fathach ('the Giant') son of Ross Ruad ('the Red') son of Rudraige, himself High King of Ulster and son of the High King of Erin. Let there be a hollow array of the men of Erin before Conchobar and a force of thirty hundred ready to close in from behind, and the men shall be taken and in no wise wounded; for, no more than is a caitiff's lot is this whereto they are come!" Wherefore this is the third most derisive word that was spoken on the Cattle-lifting of Cualnge, even to take Conchobar prisoner without wounding, and to inflict a caitiff's lot on the ten hundred and twenty hundred who accompanied the kings of Ulster.
And Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar heard that, and he knew that unless he took vengeance at once upon Medb for her great boast, he would not avenge it till the very day of doom and of life.
It was then that Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar arose with his troop of thirty hundred to inflict the revenge of battle and prowess upon Ailill and Medb. Ailill arose with his thirty hundred to meet him. Medb arose with her thirty hundred. The Manè arose with their thirty hundred. The sons of Maga arose with their thirty hundred. The Leinstermen and the Munstermen and the people of Temair arose and made interposition between them, so that on both sides each warrior sat down near to the other and near by his arms.
Meanwhile a hollow array of men was made by Medb to face Conchobar and a warlike band of thirty hundred ready to close in from behind. Conchobar proceeded to attack the circle of men. And he was far from seeking any particular breach, but he worked a small gap, broad enough for a man-at-arms, right in front over against him in the circle of combatants, and effected a breach of an hundred on his right side, and a breach of an hundred on his left, and he turned in on them, and mingled among them on their ground, and there fell of them eight hundred fully brave warriors at his hands. And thereafter he left them without blood or bleeding from himself and took his station in Slane of Meath at the head of the men of Ulster.
"Come, ye men of Erin!" cried Ailill. "Let some one go hence to scan the wide-stretching plain of Meath, to know in what guise the men of Ulster come to the height in Slane of Meath, to bring us an account of their arms and the gear and their trappings, their kings and their royal readers, their champions and battle-warriors and gapbreakers of hundreds and their yeomen, to which to listen will shorten the time for us." "Who should go thither?" asked all. "Who but macRoth the chief runner," Ailill made answer.
MacRoth went his way till he took his station in Slane of Meath, awaiting the men of Ulster. The Ulstermen were busied in marching to that hill from gloaming of early morn till sunset hour in the evening. In such manner the earth was never left naked under them during all that time, every division of them under its king, and every band under its leader, and every king and every leader and every lord with the number of his force and his muster, his gathering and his levy apart. Howbeit, by sunset hour in the evening all the men of Ulster had taken position on that height in Slane of Meath.
MacRoth came forward with the account of their first company to the place where Ailill and Medb and Fergus were and the nobles of the men of Erin. Ailill and Medb asked tidings of him when he arrived. "Come, macRoth," quoth Ailill, "tell us in what manner of array do the Ulstermen advance to the hill of Slane in Meath?"
"Truly, I know not," answered macRoth, "except this alone: There came a fiery, powerful, most well-favoured company upon the hill of Slane in Meath," said macRoth. "It seemed, on scanning and spying, that a thrice thirty hundred warriors were in it. Anon they all doffed their garments and threw up a turfy mound for their leader to sit on. A youth, slender, long, exceeding great of stature, fair to behold, proud of mien, in the van of the troop. Fairest of the princes of the world was he in the midst of his warriors, as well in fearsomeness and in awe, in courage and command; fair-yellow hair, curled, delicately arranged in ridges and bushy had he; a comely, clear-rosy countenance he had; a deep-blue-gray, angry eye, devouring and fear-inspiring, in his head; a two-forked beard, yellow, fairly curled, on his chin; a purple mantle with fringes and five-folded wrapped around him; a brooch of gold in the mantle over his breast; a shining-white, hooded shirt under red interweaving of red gold he wore next his white skin; a bright-white shield with figures of beasts of red gold thereon; a gold-hilted, hammered sword in one of his hands; a broad and gray-green lance in the other. That warrior took his station on the top of the mound, so that each one came up to him and his company took their places around him.
"There came also another company to the same height in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "Second of the two divisions of thirty hundred it was. A well-favoured warrior was there likewise at the head of that company; fair-yellow hair he wore; a bright, curly beard about his chin; a green mantle wrapped around him; a bright-silvern pin in the mantle at his breast; a brown-red, soldier's tunic under red interweaving of red gold trussed up against his fair skin down to his knees; a candle of a king's house in his hand, with windings of silver and bands of gold; wonderful the feats and games performed with the spear in the hand of the youth; the windings of silver ran round it by the side of the bands of gold, now from the butt to the socket, while at other times it was the bands of gold that circled by the side of the windings of silver from socket to spear-end; a smiting shield with plaited edge he bore; a sword with hilt-pieces of ivory, and ornamented with thread of gold on his left side. This warrior took his station on the left of the leader of the first company who had come to the mound, and his followers got them seated around him. But, though we have said they sat, they did not verily seat themselves at once, but they sat thus, with their knees on the ground and the rims of their shields against their chins, so long it seemed to them till they should be let at us. But, one thing yet: Meseemed that the great, fierce youth who led the troop stammered grievously in his speech.
"Still another battalion there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "Second to its fellow in number and followers and apparel. A handsome, broad-headed warrior at the head of that troop; dark-yellow hair in tresses he wore; an eager, dark-blue eye rolling restlessly in his head; a bright, curled beard, forked and tapering, at his chin; a dark-grey cloak with fringes, folded around him; a leaf-shaped brooch of silvered bronze in the mantle over his breast; a white-hooded shirt reaching to his knees was girded next to his skin; a bright shield with raised devices of beasts thereon he bore; a sword with white silver hilt in battle-scabbard at his waist; the pillar of a king's palace he bore on his back. This warrior took his station on the hill of turf facing the warrior who first came to the hill, and his company took their places around him. But sweet as the tone of lutes in masters' hands when long sustained, so seemed to me the melodious sound of the voice and the speech of the youth conversing with the warrior who first came to the hill and offering him every counsel."
"But who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Truly, we know him well," Fergus made answer. "This, to wit, is the first hero for whom they threw up the mound of turf on the height of the hill and whom all approached, namely, Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach son of Ross Ruad son of Rudraige, High King of Ulster, and son of the High King of Erin. This, to wit, is the stammering, great warrior who took station on his father Conchobar's left, namely, Cuscraid Menn ('the Stammerer') of Macha, Conchobar's son, with the sons of the king of Ulster and the sons of the princes of the men of Erin close by him. This is the spear he saw in his hand, even the 'Torch of Cuscraid,' with its windings of silver and bands of gold. It is the wont of that spear that neither before nor after, but only on the eve of a triumph, do the silver windings run round it by the side of the bands of gold. Belike, it is almost before a triumph they course round it now.
"The well-favoured, broad-headed warrior who seated himself on the hill in the presence of the youth who first came on the mound, namely is Sencha son of Ailill son of Maelcho 'the Eloquent' of Ulster, he that is wont to appease the hosts of the men of Erin. But, yet a word more I say: It is not the counsel of cowardice nor of fear that he gives his lord this day on the day of strife, but counsel to act with valour and courage and wisdom and cunning. But, again one word further I say," added Fergus: "It is a goodly people for performing great deeds that has risen there early this day around Conchobar!" "We make not much of them," quoth Medb; "we have goodly warriors and stout youths to deal with them." "I count not that for much," answered Fergus again; "but I say this word: Thou wilt not find in Erin nor in Alba a host to be a match for the men of Ulster when once their anger comes upon them."
"Yet another company there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "A fair, tall, great warrior in the van of that battalion, and he of fiery spirit, with noble countenance. Brown, dark-coloured hair he wore, smooth and thin on his forehead; a dull-grey cloak girt around him; a silver pin in the cloak over his breast; a bright, sleeved tunic next to his skin; a curved shield with sharp, plaited rim he bore; a five-pronged spear in his hand; a straightsword with ornaments of walrus-tooth in its place." "But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "In very sooth, we know him," Fergus made answer. "The putting of hands on strife is he; a battle-warrior for combat and destruction on foes is the one who is come there, even Eogan son of Durthacht, king of the Fernmag in the north, is the one yonder."
"Another battalion there came thither to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "It is surely no false word that boldly they took the hill. Deep the terror, great the fear they brought with them. Their raiment all thrown back behind them. A great-headed, warlike warrior in the forefront of the company, and he eager for blood, dreadful to look upon. Spare, grizzly hair had he; huge, yellow eyes in his head; a yellow, close-napped (?) cloak around him; a pin of yellow gold in the cloak over his breast; a yellow tunic with lace next his skin; in his hand a nailed, broad-plated, long-shafted spear with a drop of blood on its edge." "But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "In truth then, we know him, that warrior," Fergus gave answer. "Neither battle nor battlefield nor combat nor contest shuns he, the one who is come thither. Loegaire Buadach ('the Victorious') son of Connad Buide ('the Yellow') son of Iliach, from Immail in the north, is the one yonder."
"Another company there came there too to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A thick-necked, burly warrior at the head of that troop; black, bushy hair he had; a scarred, crimsoned face he had; a deep-blue-gray, blazing eye in his head; a spear set with eyes of glass, casting shadows over him; a black shield with a hard rim of silvered bronze upon him, a dun-coloured cloak of curly wool about him; a brooch of pale gold in the cloak over his breast; a three-striped tunic of silk next to his skin; a sword with ivory hilt and with ornamentation of thread of gold over his dress on the outside. ""But, who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "We know him full well," Fergus made answer. "He is the putting of hand on strife; a wave of the high sea that drowneth; he is the man of three shouts; the sea over walls; the man who comes thither. Muremur ('Thick-neck') son of Gerrcend ('Short-head') from Moduirn in the north is the one yonder."
"Still another company there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A broad-headed, stout warrior, pleasantly found of limb, in the front of that troop; he is dried and sallow; he is wild and bull-like; a dun, round eye, proud in his head; yellow, very curly is his hair; a red, round shield with hardsilver rim about it he bore; a broad-plated, long-shafted spear in his hand; a streaked-gray cloak around him; a brooch of copper in the cloak over his breast; a hooded kirtle girded around him reaching down to his calves; a straightsword with ornaments of walrus-tooth on his left thigh." "But who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "I know him indeed," Fergus made answer. "He is the prop of battle; he is the triumph of every combat; he is the tool that pierces, is the man who comes thither. Connud macMorna, from the Callann in the north, is the man yonder."
"There came still another company to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "It is indeed no lying word, it is with might and storm they gained the hill, so that with the clash of arms they made at the approach of that company they startled the hosts that had arrived there before them. A man, comely and noble, in advance of that band; most well-favoured to see of the men of the world, whether in shape or form or frame; whether in arms or apparel; whether in size or worth or beauty; whether in figure or valour or conduct." "Then it is surely no lying word," Fergus said: "A fitting saying is this, 'No fool 'mongst the naked is he who comes thither.' He is the foe of all others; he is a power irresistible; the storm-wave that drowneth, the glitter of ice is that well-favoured man. Fedilmid son of Ilar Cetach of Cualnge, from Ellonn in the north, is he yonder."
"Still another battalion came thither to the same hill in Slane of Meath," macRoth proceeded. "Not often is a warrior seen more handsome than the warrior that is in the front rank of that company. Bushy, red-yellow hair he wore; his face slender below, broad above; a deep-blue-gray, beaming eye, and it flashing and laughing in his head; a well-set, shapely man, tall, slender below and broad above; red, thin lips he had; teeth shining and pearl-like; a white-skinned body; a purple cloak wrapped around him; a brooch of gold in the mantle over his breast; a hooded tunic of royal silk with a red hem of red gold he wore next to his white skin; a bright, curved shield with figures of beasts in red gold thereon; a gold-hilted, inlaid swordat his left side; a long, gray-edged spear along with a cutting bye-spear of attack, with thongs for throwing, with fastenings of silvered bronze, in his hand." "But who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "We know him full well," Fergus made answer. "He is half of a battle; he is the dividing of combat; he is the wild rage of a watchhound, the man who is come thither; Rochad son of Fatheman, from Rigdonn in the north, is he yonder."
"Another battalion there came to the same hill in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A stalwart, thick-calved warrior at the head of that company; little but every limb of him as stout as a man. Verily it is no lying word, he is a man down to the ground," said he. "Brown, bushy hair upon his head; a ruddy countenance covered with scars he had; a flashing, proud eye in his head; a splendid, dexterous man was there, in this wise: Accompanied by black-haired, black-eyed youths; with a red, flaming banner; with wilful rashness, so that they seek to rout overwhelming numbers outside of equal combat, with the violence of assault upon them, without having aught assistance from Conchobar." "But, who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Aye then we know him," Fergus made answer. "A thirst for valour and prowess is he that came thither; a thirst for madness and fury. The welding of hosts and of arms; the point of battle and of slaughter of the men of the north of Erin, mine own real foster-brother himself, Fergus son of Lete, the king from Line in the north, is the man yonder!"
"Still another company came to the same hill in Slane of Meath," macRoth continued, "steadfast, without equal. A handsome, untiring warrior in the van of this company. A blue, narrow-bordered cloth next to his skin, with strong, woven and twisted hoops of silvered bronze, with becoming, sharp-fashioned buttons of red gold on its slashes and breastborders; a green mantle, pieced together with the choicest of all colours, folded about him; five circles of gold, that is, his shield, he bore on him; a tough, obdurate, straight-bladed sword for a hero's handling hung high on his left side. A straight, fluted spear, flaming red and venomous in his hand." "But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Truly, we know him well," Fergus made answer. "The choice flower of royal poets is he. He is the rush on the rash; he is the way to the goal, fierce is his valour, the man that came thither; Amargin son of the smith Ecetsalach ('the Grimy'), the noble poet from the Buas in the north, is he."
"There came yet another company there to the same hill in Slane of Meath, continued macRoth. "A yellow-haired hero in the front rank of that band. Fair was the man, both in hair and eye and beard and eyebrows and apparel; a rimmed shield he bore; a gold-hilted, overlaid sword on his left side; a five-pointed spear that reflected its glare over the entire host in his hand." "But who was that man?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "In sooth, we know him well, Fergus made answer. "Cherished, in truth, is that warrior by the people, he that to us is come thither; cherished, the stout-brow-dealing beast; cherished, the bear of great deeds against foes, with the violence of his attack. Feradach Finn Fectnach ('the Fair and Righteous') from Nemed ('the Grove') in Sliab Fuait in the north, is the one that is come there."
"Another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "Three bold, high-spirited youths of noble countenance in the front rank of that company. Three cloaks of the one colour they wore folded upon them; three shields wholly alike they bore; three five-pointed, spears in their hands." "Who were those men there, Fergus?" Ailill asked. "I know," Fergus answered; "the three princes of Ilath, the three champions of Colph, the three of Midluachair great in achievements, three seasoned warriors of the east of Erin, to wit, the three sons of Fiachna in quest of their bull are there, even Ros and Darè and Imchad, for theirs was the possession of the Brown Bull of Cualnge. Even had they come alone, they would have offered you battle in defence of their bull and their drove, even though before them the enemy should not be routed.
"Yet another company there came thither to the same hill in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "Two fair, tender, young warriors at the head of that company; two green cloaks wrapped about them; two bright-silver brooches in the cloaks over the breasts; two tunics of smooth yellow silk next to their skin; bright-hilted swords on the belts; two five-pronged spears with windings of pure bright silver in the hands. Moreover, their years were nigh the same." "But, who might they be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Well do we know them," Fergus made answer. "Two single, strong-necked champions are they; two united flames; two united torches; two champions; two heroes; two ridge-poles of hosts; two dragons; two thunderbolts; two destroyers (?); two boars; two bold ones; two mad ones; the two loved ones of Ulster around the king; namely Fiacha and Fiachna have come thither, two sons of Conchobar son of Fachtna son of Ross Ruad son of Rudraige."
"There came also another company to that same mound," said macRoth. "'Tis the engulphing of the sea for size; red-flaming fire for splendour; a legion for number; a rock for strength; annihilation for battle; thunder for might. A wrathful, terrible, ill-favoured one at the head of that band, and he was big-nosed, large-eared, apple-eyed. Coarse, grizzly hair he wore; a streaked-gray cloak about him; a skewer of iron in the cloak over his breast, so that it reached from one of his shoulders to the other; a rough, three-striped tunic next to his skin; a sword of seven charges of remelted iron he bore on his rump; a brown hillock he bore, namely his shield; a great, grey spear with thirty nails driven through its socket he had in his hand. The lines and battalions were thrown into disorder at the sight of that warrior, as he came surrounded by his company to the hill, in Slane of Meath." "But who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Ah, but we know him well," Fergus made answer. "He is the half of the battle; he is the head of strife; he is the head of combat in valour; he is the sea overbounds, the man that is come thither; the mighty Celtchar son of Uthechar, from Lethglass in the north, is the man there!
"There came yet another company thither to the same hill in Slane of Meath," said macRoth; "one that is firm and furious; one that is ugly and fearful. A great-bellied, big-mouthed champion in the van of that troop; with but one clear eye, and half-brained, long-handed. Brown, very curly hair he wore; a black, flowing mantle around him; a wheel-shaped brooch of tin in the mantle over his breast; a cunningly wrought tunic next to his skin; a great long sword under his waist; a well-tempered lance in his right hand; a grey buckler he bore on him, that is, his shield." "Pray, who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Indeed, but we know him," Fergus made answer; "the wild, red-handed, rendng lion; the fierce, fearful bear that overcometh valour. Errge Echbel ('Horse-mouth'), from Bri Errgi ('Errge's Mound') in the north, is the one there."
"Yet another company there came to the same hill in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "A large, fiery man at the head of that company; foxy-red hair he had; huge, crimson-red eyes in his head; bulging as far as the bend of a warrior's finger is either of the very large crimson, kingly eyes he had; a many-coloured cloak about him; a grey shield he bore; a slender, blue lance above him; a blood-smeared, becrimsoned company around him; himself covered with wounds and blood in their midst." "Now who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Well do we know him," Fergus made answer. "He is the bold, the ruthless, the swift-moving eagle; the eager lance; the goring beast; the torrent of the Colbtha; the triumphant hero from Bailer he is the shaft(?); he is the bellowing hero from Bernas ('the Gap'); the furious bull; Menn son of Salcholga, from Rena ('the Waterways') of the Boyne."
"Yet another company came thither to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A long-jawed, sallow-faced warrior at the head of that company; black hair on his head; long limbs are his legs; a cloak of red curly wool about him; a brooch of white silver in the cloak over his breast; a linen shirt next to his skin; a gory-red shield with a boss of gold he bore; a sword with hilt of white silver on his left side; a sharp-cornered, gold-socketed spear he held over him." "But, who might he be?" Ailill asked of Fergus. "Truly, we know him," Fergus made answer. The man of three stout blows has come; the man of three highways is he; the man of three roads, the man of three paths, the man of three ways; the man of three triumphs; Fergna son of Findchoem, king of Burach, from Ulster in the north, has come thither."
"Even another company came there to the same mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A large, well-favoured man in the van of that company. Like to Ailill yonder, with his pointed weapons, the restrainer, both in features and noble bearing and fairness, both in arms and apparel, in valour and bravery and fame and deeds. A blue shield with boss of gold was upon him. A gold-hilted sword on his left side; a five-pronged spear with gold, in his hand; a golden crown on his head." "But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Ah, but we know him well," Fergus made answer. "The root of all manhood; the assault of overwhelming power; the annihilation of men is he that is come thither. Furbaide Ferbenn son of Conchobar, from Sil in Mag Inis in the north, is there."
"Yet another company came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A sharp, proud folk; a stately, royal company, with their apparel of many colours, as well white and blue and black and purple, so that to a king could be likened each spirited, chosen man in the noble, most wonderful troop. A feast for the eyes of a host, to gaze on their comeliness and their garb, as if it was going forth to some great surpassing assembly was each single man of that company. A trine of noble, distinguished men were in the front rank of that company. The first man of them with a dark-grey mantle fringed with gold thread about him; a brooch of gold in the mantle over his breast, a tunic of rare silk next to his skin; sandals of lamb's skin he wore. Not many men in the world are better-favoured than is he. A light-yellow head of hair he has; a bright-faced sword with ivory hilt and with coils of gold thread, in his right hand. He flings on high the tooth-hilted sword, so that it falls on the head of the middle man but it simply grazes it. He catches it up in the air again, so that it falls on the head of the other man, and the first man catches it in his hand, and it divided not a ringlet nor the skin of the head of either of them, and these two men did not perceive it.
Two brown, rich-hued, bright-faced youths; reddish-gray mantles around them; white-silver brooches in their mantles over their breasts; a bright-hilted sword under their waists; purple sandals they wore; as sweet as strings of lutes when long sustained in players' hands was the voice and song of one of the men, so that enough of delight it was to the host to listen to the sound of his voice. Worthy of a king or of a prince was each man in that company as regards apparel and appearance; thou wouldst think, at the sight of them, they were all kings. Neither spears nor swords do they bear, but their servants bear them."
"An over-proud body is that," quoth Ailill; "and who may they be, O Fergus?" he asked. "I know full well," replied Fergus; "the poets of Ulster are they, with Fercerdne. The fair, much-gifted, whom thou sawest, even the learned master of Ulster, Fercerdne. 'Tis before him that the lakes and rivers sink when he upbraids, and they swell up high when he applauds. The two others thou sawest are Athirne the chief poet, whom none can deny, and Ailill Miltenga ('Honey-tongue') son of Carba; and he is called Ailill 'Honey-tongue' for that as sweet as honey are the words of wisdom that fall from him."
"There came yet another company to the mound in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "A most terrible, dreadful sight to behold them. Blue and pied and green, purple, grey and white and black mantles; a kingly, white-gray, broad-eyed hero in the van of that company; wavy, grizzled hair upon him; a blue-purple cloak about him; a leaf-shaped brooch with ornamentation of gold in the cloak over his breast; a shield, stoutly braced with buckles of red copper; yellow sandals he wore; a large, strange-fashioned sword along his shoulder. Two curly-haired, white-faced youths close by him, wearing green cloaks and purple sandals and blue tunics, and with brown shields fitted with hooks, in their hands; white-hilted swords with silvered bronze ornaments they bore; a broad, somewhat light countenance had one of them. One of these cunning men raises his glance to heaven and scans the clouds of the sky and bears their answer to the marvellous troop that is with him. They all lift their eyes on high and watch the clouds and work their spells against the elements, so that the elements fall to warring with each other, till they discharge rain-clouds of fire downwards on the camp and entrenchments of the men of Erin."
"Who might that be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "I know him," replied Fergus; "the foundation of knowledge; the master of the elements; the heaven-soaring one; he that blindeth the eyes; that depriveth his foe of his strength through incantations of druids, namely Cathba the friendly druid, with the druids of Ulster about him. And to this end he makes augury when judging the elements, in order to ascertain therefrom how the great battle on Garech and Ilgarech will end. The two youths that are about him, they are his own two sons, to wit Imrim son of Cathba and Genonn Gruadsolus ('Bright-cheek') son of Cathba, he that has the somewhat light countenance. Howbeit it will be hard for the men of Erin to withstand the spells of the druids."
"Yet another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A numberless, bright-faced band; unwonted garments they wore; a little bag at the waist of each man of them. A white-haired, bull-faced man in the front of that company; an eager, dragon-like eye in his head; a black, flowing robe with edges of purple around him; a many coloured, leaf-shaped brooch with gems, in the robe over his breast; a ribbed tunic of thread of gold around him; a short sword, keen and hard, with plates of gold, in his hand; they all came to show him their stabs and their sores, their wounds and their ills, and he told each one his sickness, and he gave each a cure, and what at last happened to each was even the ill he foretold him." "He is the power of leechcraft; he is the healing of wounds; he is the thwarting of death; he is the absence of every weakness, is that man," said Fergus, "namely Fingin the prophet mediciner, the physician of Conchobar, with the physicians of Ulster around him. It is he that knoweth the sickness of a man by the smoke of the house wherein he lies, or by hearing his groans. Their medicine bags are the sacks which thou sawest with them."
"Another company came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth. "A powerful, heavy, turbulent company; they caused uproar in their deeds of arms for the accomplishment of brilliant feats; they tore up the sad-sodded earth with the strength of their bitter rage, for the mighty princes of the proud province of Conchobar would not allow them to proceed to the great camp till all should be arrived. Two youths, swarthy and huge, in the front of that company; soft, playful eyes in their heads; about them, dark-grey tunics with silver pins set with stones; great, horn-topped swords with sheaths they bore; strong, stout shields they bore; lances with rows of rivets, in their hands; glossy tunics next to their skin." "We know well that company," quoth Fergus; "the household of Conchobar and his vassals are those; their two leaders, Glasne and Menn, two sons of Uthechar."
"There came yet another band to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth; "to wit, a band of a numerous body of henchmen. A black, hasty, swarthy, ----- man in the front rank of that band; seven chains around his neck; seven men at the end of each chain; he drags along these seven groups of men, so that their faces strike against the ground, and they revile him until he desists. Another terrible man is there, and the ponderous stone which powerful men could not raise, he sets on his palm and flings on high to the height a lark flies on a day of fine weather; a club of iron at his belt." "I know those men," quoth Fergus: "Triscoth the strong man of Conchobar's house; it is he that flings the stone on high. Ercenn son of the three stewards, he it is in the chains."
"There came another large, stately company to the mound in Slane of Meath," macRoth went on. "Three, very curly-headed, white-faced youths in the van of that troop; three curly-red kirtles with brooches of silvered bronze was the apparel they wore about them; three sparkling tunics of silk with golden seams tucked up about them; three studded shields with images of beasts for emblems in silvered bronze upon them and with bosses of red gold; three very keen swords with guards adorned with gold thread along their shoulders; broad-bladed javelin-heads on ashen shafts in their hands." "Who might that be there, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "That I know," answered Fergus: "the three venoms of serpents; three cutting ones; three edges; three watchful ones; three points of combat; three pillars of the borders; three powerful companies of Ulster; three wardens of Erin; three triumph-singers of a mighty host are there," said Fergus, "the three sons of Conchobar, namely Glas and Manè and Conaing."
"Yet another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "Stately, in beautiful colours, gleaming-bright they came to the mound. Not fewer than an army-division, as a glance might judge them A bold, fair-cheeked youth in the van of that troop; light-yellow hair has he; though a bag of red-shelled nuts were spilled on his crown, not a nut of them would fall to the ground because of the twisted, curly locks of his head. Bluish-grey as harebell is one of his eyes; as black as beetle's back is the other; the one brow black, the other white; a forked, light-yellow beard has he; a magnificent red-brown mantle about him; a round brooch adorned with gems of precious stones fastening it in his mantle over his right shoulder; a striped tunic of silk with a golden hem next to his skin; an ever-bright shield he bore; a hard-smiting, threatening spear he held over him; a very keen sword with hilt-piece of red gold on his thigh." "Who might that be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "I know, then," replied Fergus: "it is battle against foes; it is the inciting of strife; it is the rage of a monster; it is the madness of a lion; it is the cunning of a snake; it is the rock of the Badb; it is the sea over dikes; it is the shaking of rocks; it is the stirring of a wild host, namely Conall Cernach ('the Victorious'), the high-glorious son of Amargin, that is come hither."
"Yet another company came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "Steady and dissimilar to the other companies. Some wore red cloaks, others light-blue cloaks, others dark blue cloaks, others green cloaks, white and yellow jerking, beautiful and shiny, were over them. Behold the little, red-faced lad with purple mantle about him in their midst. A brooch of gold in the mantle over his breast; a tunic of royal silk with red trimming of red gold next to his white skin, a bright shield with intricate figures of beasts in red gold upon it; a boss of gold on the shield; an edge of gold around it; a small, gold-hilted sword at his waist; a sharp, light lance cast its shadow over him."
"But, who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Truly, I know not," Fergus made answer, "that I left behind me in Ulster the like of that company nor of the little lad that is in it. But, one thing I think likely, that they are the men of Temair with Erc son of Fedilmid Nocruthach and of Carbre Niafer. And if it be they, they are not more friends than their leaders here. Mayhap despite his father has this lad come to succour his grandfather at this time. And if these they be, a sea that drowneth shall this company be to ye, and the little lad that is in it that the battle shall this time be won against ye." "How through him?" asked Ailill. "Not hard to tell," Fergus responded: "for this little lad will know neither fear nor dread when slaying and slaughtering, until at length he comes into the midst of your battalion. Then shall be heard the whirr of Conchobar's sword like the yelp of a howling war-hound, or like a lion rushing among bears, while the boy will be saved. Then outside around the battle lines will [Conchobar] pile up huge walls of men's bodies. In turn, filled with love and devotion, the princes of the men of Ulster will hew the enemy to pieces. Boldly will those powerful bulls bellow as the calf of their cow is rescued in the battle on the morn of the morrow."
"Then came there three huge (?), strong, well-braced, cunningly-built castles; three mighty, wheeled-towers like unto mountains, in this wise placed in position: Three royal castles with their thirty fully armed battalions, swarming with evil-tongued warriors and with thirty round-shielded heroes. A bright, beautiful, glistening shield-guard was on each of the three strong, stout battle castles, with black, deadly armament of huge, high, blue, sharp pine-lances, such that one's bent knee would fit in the socket of each smooth, polished, even and hard spearhead that is on each huge, terrible, strange shaft of the terrible, awful, heavy, monstrous, indescribable armament that I saw. A third part of each shaft was contained in the socket of the riveted, very long, securely placed spears; as high as two cubits was each citadel from the ground; as long as a warrior's spear was the height of each battle hurdle; as sharp as charmed sword was the blade of each sickle on the sides and the flanks of each of Badb's hurdles; on each of the three stout and hard battle-hurdles they are to be found. Four dark, yet gleaming, well-adorned doors were on each battle-wheeled tower of the three royal wheeled-towers which were displayed and spread over the plain, with ivory door-posts, with lintels of cypress, with stately thresholds set of speckled, beautiful, strong pine, with their blue, glass door-leaves, with the glitter of crystal gems around each door-frame, so that its appearance from afar was like that of bright shining stars.
"As loud as the crash of a mighty wave at the great spring-tide, or of a huge heavy fleet upon the sea when toiling with the oars along the shore, was the similitude of the din and the clamour and the shouts and the tumult of the multitude and the to-and-fro of the thirty champions with their thirty heavy, iron clubs that they bear in their hands. And when the wheeled-towers advance massively and boldly against the line of heroes, these almost leave behind their arms at the fierce charge of the outland battalions. Then spring the three hundred champions with a shout of vengeful anger over the sides and over the front of the huge iron towers on wheels, so that this it was that checked the swift course and the great, hasty onslaught of the well-grounded, swiftly-moving, mighty chariots. The three stout, strong, battle-proof towers on wheels careered over rough places and over obstacles, over rocks and over heights.
"There coursed the thirty entire chargers, powerful, four abreast, the equal of ninety entire chargers, with manes more than big, bold and leaping, with sack-like, distended nostrils, high-headed, towering, over-powering, wonderful, so that they shook with their ramping the thick shell of the sad-sodded earth. They flecked the plain behind them with the foam dripping from the swift Danish steeds, from the bits and bridles, from the traces and tracks of the huge, maned, mighty steeds, greater than can be told! They excited strife with their din of arms. They plunged headlong in their swift impatience. They aroused great terror at their accoutrement, at their armour, at their cunning, at their power, at their hugeness, at their destructive, terrible, hostile vengeance on the four grand, proud provinces of Erin. Amazing to me was their appearance because of the unwontedness of their trappings both in form and in garb. Three wonderful flights of birds with variety of appearance hovered over them. The first flock was all red, the second flock was white as swans, the third flock as black as ravens. Three red-mouthed demons sped around them as swift as hares, circling the three wheeled towers, and this is what they prophesied:
"Sheaves of battle,
Might of quelling,
Ill of war-deeds,
Sating of foul ravens!
Sodden ground, blood-red;
Men low in dust;
Sheaves on sword-blades!"
"They wheeled about and brought them twelve battle-pillars of thick, huge, iron pillars. As thick as the middle of a warrior's thigh, as tall as a champion's spear was each battle-fork of them, and they placed four forks under each wheeled-tower. And their horses all ran from them and grazed upon the plain. And those forty that had gone in advance descend clad in armour on the plain, and the garrison of the three battle-wheeled towers falls to attacking and harassing them, and is attacked and harassed in turn by those forty champions, so that there was heard the breaking of shields and the loud blows of hard iron poles on bucklers and battle-helmets, on coats of mail and on the iron plates of smooth, hard, blue-black, sharp-beaked, forked spears. And in the whole camp there is none but is on the watch for their fierceness and their wrath and their cunning and their strangeness, for their fury, their achievements and the excellence of the guard. And in the place where the forty champions are and the thousand armed men contending with them, not one of the thousand had a wounding stroke nor a blow on his opponent because of the might of their skill in arms and the excellence of their defence withal!"
"They are hard to contend with for all such as are unfamiliar with them, is the opinion held of them," spake Fergus, "but they are readily to be dealt with for such as do know them. These are three battle-wheeled towers," Fergus continued, "as I perceive from their account. Once I saw their like, namely when as prentice I accompanied Darè to Spain, so that we entered the service of the king of Spain, Esorb to wit, and we afterwards made an expedition to Soda, that is, to the king of Africa, and we gave battle to the Carthaginians. There came their like upon us against the battle-line wherein we were, an hundred battalions and three score hundred in each battalion. One of the wheeled-towers won victory over us all, for we were not on our guard against them. And this is the way to defeat them: To mine a hole broader than the tower in the ground in the front thereof and cover over the pitfall; and for the battle-line to be drawn up over against it and not to advance to attack, so that it is the towers that advance and fall into the pit.
"Lebarcham told me, as I passed over Taltiu, that the Ulstermen brought these towers from Germany, and the towers held a third of the exiles of Ulster among them as their only dwelling; and Cualgae ('a Heap of Spears') is their name, namely battle-penfolds. And herein have ye the sorest of all hardships, for although all the men of Erin are drawn up against them, it is the men of Erin that will be defeated. When they take it upon them to engage in battle they cannot hold out without a combat. Thus will they remain now till morning, every forty men of them contending with the others. And this is my advice to you," said Fergus: "permit me with my division to withstand them, and do ye betake yourselves to the woods and wilds of Erin, and the Ulstermen shall not find ye in any place, and I will proceed as an example, depending on my own men-of-war." "There are men here for ye!" cried Medb. "That will be a force for yourselves," Fergus made answer.
"Yet another company came there to the same height in Slane of Meath," said macRoth. "Not fewer than a division was in it; wild, dark-red, warrior-bands; bright, clear, blue-purple men; long, fair-yellow heads of hair they wore; handsome, shining countenances they had; clear, kingly eyes; magnificent vesture with beautiful mantles; conspicuous, golden brooches along their bright-coloured sleeves; silken, glossy tunics; blue, glassy spears; yellow shields for striking withal; gold-hilted, inlaid swords set on their thighs; loud-tongued care has beset them; sorrowful are they all, and mournful; sad are the royal leaders; orphaned the brilliant company without their protecting lord who was wont to guard their lands." "But, who may they be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Indeed, we know them well," Fergus made answer. "Furious lions are they; deeds of battle; the division from the field of Murthemne are they. It is this that makes them cast-down, sorrowful, joyless as they are, because that their own divisional king himself is not amongst them, even Cuchulain, the restraining, victorious, red-sworded one that triumpheth in battle!"
"Good reason, in truth, there is for them to be so," quoth Medb, "if they are dejected, mournful and joyless. There is no evil we have not worked on them. We have harassed and we have assailed them, their territory and their land, from Monday at the beginning of Samaintide till the beginning of Spring. We have taken their women and their sons and their youths, their steeds and the troops of horses, their herds and their flocks and their droves. We have razed their hills after them till they are become lowlands, so that they are level with the plain."
"There is naught thou canst boast over them, O Medb!" cried Fergus. For thou didst them no hurt nor harm that yon fine company's leader avenged not on thee. For every mound and every grave, every stone and every tomb that is from hence to the east of Erin is the mound and the grave, the stone and the tomb of some goodly warrior and goodly youth, fallen at the hands of the noble chieftain of yonder company. Happy he to whom they hold! Woe to him whom they oppose! It will be enough, even as much as half a battle, for the men of Erin, when these defend their lord in the battle on the morning of the morrow."
"I heard a great uproar there, west of the battle or to its east," said macRoth. "Say, what noise was it?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Ah, but we know it well," Fergus made answer: "Cuchulain it was, straining to go to battle, wearied at the length of his lying sick on Fert Sciach ('Thorn-mound') under hoops and clasps and ropes, and the men of Ulster do not permit him to go because of his sores and his wounds, inasmuch as he is not fit for battle and is powerless for combat after his encounter with Ferdiad."
True indeed spake Fergus. Cuchulain it was, wearied at the length of his lying supine on Fert Sciach under hoops and clasps and ropes.
Then came two women lampoonists from the camp and quarters of the men of Erin; their names, Fethan and Collach, to wit; and they stood with a feint of weeping and wailing over Cuchulain, telling him of the defeat of Ulster and the death of Conchobar and the fall of Fergus in combat.
This post has been edited by gandolf3339 on 28-Sep-2013, 06:38 PM
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