The Pursuit of Gruaidh Ghriansholus
The Pursuit of Gruaidh Ghriansholus, Daughter of the King of Antioch, here below.
TCD MS H.5.28 (fo.61a-fo.111b.)
One day the renowned, slender, gentle Cúchulainn, son of Subhalltach, was on the green of his own fort and goodly mansion, to wit famous (?) Dundalk, and he examined the four points of the compass, west and east, south and north, and saw the fair, beautiful territory of Cuailgne. And that was the land which Cúchulainn loved best in the world, for thus is it situated: the noisy, foaming, querulous deep and the restless, rough, briny sea on one side of it, and on the other, high, terrible, fresh-green mountains full of white-foaming stieams of spring water and of pleasant, green-sided valleys and of bordered, even woods. And numerous too were the spotted, high-antlered deer, the badgers and the boars and the martens (?) of that land, and plentiful were its fish and its pleasant, white-bellied salmon, and a variety of every sort of game and fish besides. And when Cúchulainn saw the land, he was seized with desire to hunt and game, and he addressed his attendant, Laoi mac Rianghabhra, and said:
"Well, Laoi, prepare and arrange my arms and my shooting feats that I may go hunting to-day in the fruitful land of Cuailgne.”
Laoi began to prepare and arrange the arms and the many sharp weapons and the other casting feats. And while Laoi was arranging and ordering the arms, Ciichulainn began to journey forth along the border of the noisy, foam-white harbour with a bundle of sharp-pointed holly spits to shoot the birds and the various fowls of the air; for with these spits was Cúchulainn wont to shoot every bird and fowl of the air. And it befell Cflchulainn, on that occasion, that he cast all the holly spits save one alone; for Laoi took the path to Sliabh Fidhit and to Sliabh Feáidh, thinking that Cúchulainn had gone in that direction, so that they did not chance upon one another at all.
As for Cúchulainn, when he was alone and solitary with no other arm or sharp weapon than one sharp-pointed holly-spear, he saw a high-topped, broad-sided coracle coming straight towards him along the mighty, blue-bordered deep, and three difterent beautiful sails upon it, namely a green sail at the prow, a red sail in the middle and a thin blue-sided sail at the stern. And when the coracle came to land and when Cúchulainn expected many heroes or battle warriors to emerge, there came forth but one noble, handsome, comely maiden, best in form and appearance, in countenance and shape and make, of any of the men or women of the entire universe. The maiden greeted him gently and courteously and Cúchulainn answered her greeting in the same manner.
“Well, youth,” quoth the maiden, “direct me to where the famous Cúchulainn is. And I shall give thee gold and silver and much treasure for so doing,” said she.
“I know that man,” said he, “to wit, the renowned Cúchulainn, and I will guide thee to him provided that thou tellest me who thou art or from what land or what is the cause of thy journey in search of the Cúchulainn thou mention est. And I shall ask of thee no payment for guiding thee other than that,” said he.
“I will tell thee that,” said the maiden. “Gruaidh Ghriansholus, daughter of the King of Antioch, is my name,” said she. “And when I was in the court and goodly mansion of my father, the King of Antioch, my fame and reputation spread to the confines of the western world, and the sons of the kings and noble lords of the world came to see me and to woo me. And amongst all who came there, came Iollainn of the Mighty Deeds, son of Iarla Cathracha mBlaisg, to see me and to seek me as wife and spouse for himself. And this is the manner of man he was: a youthful, beardless lad who surpassed all his contemporaries in form and make, in appearance and countenance, best in vigour and dexterity and full-activity, in valour and prowess and mighty deeds, of the sons of kings and princes in the western world. And he gave me an exceedingly great stream of love and lasting aftection, and I bestowed the same on him. And I was betrothed to him and a certain day was appointed for our marriage, and the children of the kings and princes of the western world assembled at the fort and goodly mansion of the King of Antioch to honour Iollainn Ang-ghlonnach and that great feast. But when my fame and reputation spread through the western world, as I said, it chanced that Garuidh the Rough-kneed, son of the King of Morocco, heard talk and report of my beauty and goodness, and he delayed not until he reached the court of the King of Antioch like all the others. And on reaching the court, he sent a message to the king, my father, ordering him to send me to him without delay, or that he would burn and devastate the land and the whole city, and slay the king and whomsoever took his part, together with the king’s children and his household. And this is the manner of man Garuidh is: he is forty fathoms in height and his body is ten fathoms broad, and were all the men of this earth together in one spot, they would not be fit to combat him because of his height and his frightfulness, his size and his hideousness, his bodily strength and the number of his artifices and skill in magic and devilry. For he was educated by a hideous, terrible giant called Neachtain the Dreadful, Son of the Earth, so called because his father and mother are not known, but he was generated out of the bowels of the earth. And the peak of a mountain or the blunt top of a great hill is not greater than every joint of that giant, and like unto a thickly-growing wood is his devilish, hideous- hued, heavy hair. And arms or sharp weapons do him neither harm nor injury, for if it chanced that they wounded him, as soon as he fell to the ground and earth, he would become supple and free from wounds and his own strength and vigour would return to him forthwith, because, as I said, he was generated in the bowels of the earth. And that devilish, hideous-hued giant is wont to eat the flesh of heroes and battle warriors for a meal and sustenance.
“As for the King of Antioch and Iollainn Ang-ghlonnach, son of Iarla Cathracha mBlaisg, when that message from Garuidh reached them, they convened a council, and they decided, since the sons of the kings and princes of the world were assembled on one spot, that they should give battle and combat to Garuidh before they consented to give me to him, for I should prefer to be buried alive in the bosom of the earth than to lie beside him one hour of the day or night. However, the sons of the kings and princes of the world fought hand to hand with Garuidh, and those who had not fallen by him at the end of the battle he bound and tightly-tied, and he sent them thus fettered to Neachtain Uathmhar at the City of the Fiery Stream, where he has them in oppression and misery in an earthy prison. And Iollainn Ang-ghlonnach was the last man he put in there.
“When I saw that the children of the kings and princes of the world who were fighting on my behalf had been bound and fettered, and in particular he who was my love and lasting affection of all the men of the world, Iollainn Ang-ghlonnach, and that I had no hope of seeing him till doom, I despaired of aid and I fled from the fort and goodly mansion of my father. And no sooner had I fled than Garuidh got tidings of me and followed me. And ever since he is pursuing me, getting tidings of me by free will and by force, and I found neither king nor prince to undertake to protect me from him. And as I was wandering thus through every island and isle, I heard report and talk of Cúchulainn and that he was the only one of the men of the world who was likely to undertake my protection against Garuidh, and therefore I have come to him. And I should like to get guidance from thee. And that is my story for thee,” said the maiden, and they made the lay between them:
Tell me, youthful lad—
thou shalt get gold and jewels-—
where I shall see the renowned (??) hero,
Cúchulainn of the variegated shields.
Tell me, O maiden—
hide not thy secret, indeed-—
thy name and what thou seekest to say
to the Hound of the Feats.
Gruaidh Sunbright is my name.
I journey with my news through every land.
Truly am I
the daughter of the King of Antioch.
In my early youth I loved
a young man of fame,
Iollainn of the mighty deeds, without gloom,
the only son of Iarla Cathracha mBlaisg.
The fame of my fair form
son of Rí na bhFear Morc, heard.
Terrible was he and fierce.
Forty fathoms high—
a vast account for one man!—
and ten fathoms in his body,
disgusting his appearance and make.
He came to the land of Antioch,
full of violence,
and he demanded me as wife,
or battle with hundreds for me.
The noble sons of the kings of the world
were as one man fighting for me
against the Rough-kneed,
but he cast them all into bonds.
To the City of the Fiery Stream,
at the mercy of Neachtain the Dreadful,
he sent those and Iollainn—
which left me lonely.
From that day till now,
the dread, awful man is pursuing me
from land to land.
That is my tale for thee, O youth!
In quest of the Hound of Feats
I fare through every land.
O youth of the pearl-like eye,
that is my true story.
Where is the fort of
the Hound who refuses none,
O youth of the plaited locks,
let me discover from thee, and do thou tell me.
After this lay, Cúchulainn gave a glance of his shapely eye towards the sea and beheld a capacious, full-terrible ship, greater than a blunt-topped hill or a mighty mountain, coming straight towards him. And as the boat neared the land, there rose in the prow of the ship one terrible, vast, blue-black, devilish, hideous- hued warrior, greater than could be described. And bluer than the foxglove was he, and whiter than a hyacinth his two eyes, and longer than the mast of a mighty ship each of his blue-black hideous-hued hands. And he took a very thick club of iron on which were fifty balls of refined iron, each ball a burden for a warrior and battle hero, in his hand, and dealt a hostile, mighty blow with the end of the club on the lofty, hard, rough rock of stone which was before him, and put it from its place and position, and made a foaming, broad harbour and a smooth, open passage for a ship into it, which is to-day called the broad Harbour of Cárlinn. And forthwith he landed, and on landing, he dealt Cúchulainn a vigourous, rough, strong kick with the top of his foot right in the centre of the breast, so that Cúchulainn was cast nine paces off. And he took the maiden on the top of his hand and went into his ship then, and raised his sails and sailed back the same way.
As for Cúchulainn, when he rose from his fall and saw that the maiden had been carried off from him and that the giant had departed without combat or fight, he thought that he had received an insult and dishonour and that his geasa had been violated (for it was one of Ciichulainn’s geasa that his fellow-combatant should go uninjured from him). And he thought that the men of Ireland would hear of that insult he had received, and in particular the warrior who had carried off the maiden. And it befell him that his senses and reason were set astt’ay, and his eyes and mouth grew crooked, and his human faculties departed from him, so that he became a hateful, truly-hideous giant. And he faced in land-wards in this wise, and not a man or beast did he encounter that he did not rend into small pieces and sacrifice destructively and prematurely, and hack and hew slaughterously, so that [the inhabitants of] districts and lands, beasts and cattle and people. were fleeing before him.
At that precise time Eimhear, daughter of Forghal Manach, Cúchulainn’s wife, and the women-folk of Dundalk together with the sons of Conchubhar, King of Ulster: Cormac Conloingeas and Laoghaire Buadhach and Dubhach Daol-Uladh and Furbhaldhe Fearmeann and Cumhsgraidh Meann-Macha, together with the fairy youths of all Emania, were sporting and playing on the green of Dundalk. And they saw the giant devastating the land in this manner, and Eimhear recognised him as Cúchulainn and said:
“Alas! yon man is Cúchulainn, and he has experienced a reverse in arms to-day, and his geasa have been violated, and the end of his life has come; and he will destroy Ireland before his anger be checked, and he himself will die from the frenzy of his rage.”
“What is to be done then?" asked Laoghaire Buadhach.
“I know,” quoth Eimhear. “It is a geis to Cúchulainn,” said she, “to see a woman naked. And let the women strip off their garments and accoutrements, and go ye and hide in the growth at the edge of the river. And when Cúchulainn sees you, he will take a short cut through the deep part of the river-mouth to kill you. Then when he is in the river, let the naked women rise up to meet him. And when he sees them naked, he will shut his eyes and turn his back on them. And if he remains thus in the water, his heat and the fierceness of his anger will be quenched by it, and he will regain somewhat of his senses. And unless he be appeased by that means, it will n~t be possible to check him until be has destroyed Ireland and until his own life has left him through frenzy.”
So it is done. And the naked women come to the edge of the river-mouth, and Eimhear and the youths come to the brink. When Cúchulainn saw the youths, he made a fierce, frenzied attack and an angry, swift-running rush towards the river-mouth, and came out into the deep part of the river until the water reached the upper part of his chest and bosom. The women rose stark-naked from their concealment to meet him, and on seeing the naked women, he was seized with disgust and regret, and shut his eyes and turned his back on them and remained in the water. And he began to drink the water into his mouth and pulses and joints, so that the sand and bottom gravel were visible and he did not allow any length of the river past him, up or down, which he did not drink and suck up by reason of the greatness of his heat and fieriness, so that the fierceness and the frenzy which possessed him were quenched and submerged, and some of his senses returned to him. And he was seized with great shame and repentance and anxiety because of all the devastation he had wrought throughout the day, before that, and he spied Eimhear amongst the youths and came to land to her. And he shed fervent showers of tears, and related to them clearly all that had befallen him and how his geasa had been broken and how Laoi had tricked him concerning the arms; and he said that he was certain that his term of life was not long. And Eimhear began to ask him for information and they made the lay between them:
O famous Hound of the Feats!
What inflames thy star-clear eye?
Has somewhat befallen thee
to set thy senses astray ?
There met me, when I was alone
by the brink of the foaming harbour,
a maid of beautiful eyebrows,
who liked not the wooing of the Rough-kneed.
In pursuit of her over the sea in anger,
was Garuidh whose aspect was not beautiful,
who cut through the centre of a rock,
a passage for a full barque.
Coming to land at once,
Garuidh of treacherous aspect
snatched from me over the sea
the maiden—from me unarmed.
Never till this hour did
my fellow-combatant escape me.
O Eimhear of the new-bright form!
Alas! my geasa are broken.
Laoi, who was wont to enumerate
my arms and my feats of activity,
carried, alas! unwittingly,
those arms from me on an erroneous expedition.
After that lay, Eimhear and Cormac Conloingeas and Laoghaire Buadhach and the other youths began to advise him and to persuade him to make nought of it. And they beguiled him with them to Dundalk, and music and melody was played for him, and they served him with ale and drinking. Yet they could not make him rejoice or be glad.
As regards Laoi is related here. On seeing that he did not meet Cúchulainn, he began to journey over the mountain throughout the day, and when evening and the end of day came upon him, he travelled back to Dundalk. And on reaching the town, be was told all that had befallen his lord and master because of the lack of his arms and sharp weapons. And Laoi sent for Laoghaire Buadhach in a spot apart, and begged and besought him to make peace between him and Cúchulainn, for he was full of fear and anxiety regarding Cúchulainn.
Laoghaire went to Cúchulainn and told him from beginning to end all that had befallen Laoi, and that it was through an accident and in ignorance that Laoi had happened to part from him. However, at the entreaty of the nobles, Cúchulainn consented to make peace and friendship with Laoi, and Laoi was brought into his presence then and Cúchulainn said
“Well, Laoi, seldom ever before didst thou fail me, and oftener didst thou incite me to valour and combat, and what caused thee to deprive me of my arms."
“Nay, Cúchulainn,” answered Laoi, “nought to thy disadvantage shall result to thee from what has befallen thee to-day. For though numerous thy feats of arms and though remarkable thy fame and reputation throughout Ireland, thou hast never yet gone forth from Ireland that the men of the world might truly know of thy great deeds of valour and arms. Yet no longer shalt thou be thus, for there are in the universe but four even divisions, and we shall search every division of these until we find that Garuidh Garbhghhiineach that thou mayst take vengeance on him for the violence he offered thee, and further that thy fame and renown may spread throughout the universe by reason of the many deeds of valour thou wilt accomplish in seeking Garuidh.”
“Take victory and blessing, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “that is the advice of a goodly hero in face of need. And that is what we shall do,” said he. “And do thou start to arrange and settle my arms and my venomous feats, and let my ship, the Speckled Barque, be prepared by thee.”
And this was the wise of the Speckled Barque: it was the best ship in the world, for it was made of the remains of the ark, i.e. the ship which Noah the son of Lamech made against the flood at the prayer of the Creator; and it was Fiontain mac Bóchna, the nephew of Noah son of Lamech, who made the Speckled Barque and who brought it to Ireland. For Fiontain was the first person who ever came to Ireland. And it was one of the virtues of the Speckled Barque that neither magic nor devilry harmed anyone in it, and neither wave nor strong flood could seize it, and equally well did it travel through a viscid sea, a fiery sea or the Sea of Wight and any other easily-traversible sea; and whatever harbour or port Cúchulainn wished to find it in, he found it there at once; and it was the swiftest ship in the world. And many other properties it had. And it chanced to be in the possession of Fionn mac Cumhaill after Cúchulainn and the Heroes.
Howbeit, Eimhear and the fairy youths began to dissuade him from this journey, yet he heeded not their dissuasion, but summoned up his spirit and courage, his pride and high-mindedness. He banished from him his sorrow and his anxiety, and he ordered Laoi again to arrange and put in order the arms and all the venomous feats, and to temper his spears and javelins with poison as it was customary to do for deeds of valour and combat.
Be it known to you, reader, that Cúchulainn had eighteen feats for shooting and casting, which were called the venomous feats, and that such were never found with any hero or battle warrior before or after Cúchulainn, but only with him. For thus it was that Cúchulainn acquired those feats: from the female warriors with whom he studied, namely Sgathach and Uathach and Aoife and the Queen of Droichead an ALlta, who themselves had learned them on the confines of Hell. And thus were those venomous feats, no arms or armour or fortification whatsoever protected against them, and as soon as they wounded a person, they used all to return again into Cflchulainn’s hands, save alone the Ga Bulga. And this was the wise of the Ga Bulga: Aoife gave it to him (though folk say that it was the Queen of Droichead an Allta who gave it to him, it was not she but Aoife). And it was made from the skin of a monster out of Hell. And the Ga Bulga used not to be cast until he who cast it was in water up to his middle. And he used to cast it from between the toes of his right foot. And it had but one point until it was cast, and then it used to swell, like air in a bladder, so that it had thirty points when it entered a person’s body. And nor herb nor healing nor salve would avail the wound of the Ga Bulga, but it used to fill the body with a poison for which no help or aid was found. And even if one were to go down into the earth or rise up into the air, one could not avoid the Ga Bulga. And neither earth nor water, neither stone nor tree, neither arms nor armour protected against it. And by means of the Ga Bulga Cúchulainn used to overthrow and cut down every invincible warrior and hero at the ford-feat. And therefore they deemed it worst to meet Cñchulainn at the ford-feat, for they knew that they would not escape from Cúchulalnn in that feat. And the Ga Bulga could not be removed from a person until he was hacked to the last inch.
And furthermore Cúchulainn had two chariots such as no other king or prince had, to wit the Scythed Chariot and the Enchanted Chariot. And the Enchanted Chariot was light and airy, for it was swifter than a bird of the air flying, and any horse could endure it, and with it Cúchulainn was wont to encircle and surround the borders and edges of the hosts when he was casting the feats of the sling, the edge-feat, the little-dart-feat, the feat of activity, or the lathe-feat. However, not so was the Scythed Chariot, rather was it heavy and strong, and no horses in the world could endure it save the Dubhshaoileann and the Liath Macha, the two steeds of Cúchulainn. And every axle and wheel, every pole and plank, every band and nail was full of poison and used to slay like spears or other sharp weapons. And in this chariot Cúchulainn used to be, what time he plied his thunder-feat of a hundred or of five hundred or of a thousand in the midst of the host, and with it he used to scatter and disperse them. And many other arms had he besides those we have mentioned, for it is read of him that people used to fall into swoons and trances on beholding the hideousness of the feats and weapons of Cúchulainn.
Tidings of Eimhear and the youths here. On seeing that Cúchulainn was not turning back from this journey, they sent to Emania for Conchubhar and Fearghus and Conall Cearnach, to bring them to dissuade him from the expedition. And they came forthwith, and took to imploring him to stay or to allow Conall and Fearghus and Laoghaire Buadhach with him to protect and advise him, (for at that time Cúchulainn was but fifteen years of age). But Cúchulainn refused to do either of these things and said that if he were to succeed in valour and combat, he alone would have the fame and glory, and if he were not to escape, he deemed it sufficient that he himself should fall on that expedition without being guilty of the death of those dearest to him on earth. And he ordered Laoi to have everything ready for departure early the next morning.
“Nay, Cúchulainn,” said Laoi, “all thy arms are ready and fit for use for thee, and thy chariot harnessed, thy spears sharpened and thy feats in order. And be not dissuaded from the expedition,” said he. And he made the rosg then:
O Hound of the lovable feats!
Remember not thy straying.
Take heart and courage;
add terror to thy arms.
Thy spears with sharpness,
thy feats with terribleness,
are ready and prepared to provide
food for vultures.
Do not quail from the journey,
O Hound of the slender spears!
We shall search the universe
until we find Garuidh.
Rise and journey through
the four quarters beneath the sky.
The world shall be completely filled
with the clash of thy arms.
Kings shall be terror-stricken,
druids shall be bespelled,
because of the numerous hosts
that shall be routed by thy feats.
Carrions shall be voracious
when they see the wounds [dealt by thee],
and the cries of vultures shall foretell
the [shedding of] blood.
Thou wilt overcome the fierceness
of the repulsive Garuidh,
and Neachtain, though terrible,
the Ga Bulga will smite.
Conall or Fearghus or
Laoghaire of the blows,
O Hound of the hard feats,
take not with thee from Ireland.
Sufficient protection do I deem it
to be behind thy shield—
the men of the world against thee
and thou in the midst of thy armour.
Thy venomous feats,
are ready, in truth.
Take them, O Hound.
After this lay, Cúchulainn set about his departure. And Conall Cearnach sent his two horses with him for the Enchanted Chariot, namely the Cróincheann Ceannfhada and the Deargdhrúchtach, and those were the two best steeds that ever went under a chariot, excepting the Dubhshaoileann and the Liath Macha. And Cúchulainn went to his ship, and took leave of all, and bade farewell to Eimhear, to Conchobhar, to Conall, to Fearghus and to the rest of the heroes. And gloomy and sad were all in general at that moment, especially Eimhear, for their expectation of his return was no greater than their fear of his non-return.
When Cúchulainn embarked in his ship, the sprites and vultures and wild ones of the glen and demons of the air raised dreadful, hideous cries above him on hearing the clash of the arms and the creaking of the chariots, the clashing of the spears and the screaming of the javelins, the terribleness of the feats and the close converse of the hero and battle warrior with his attendant setting the arms and edged weapons in order. However they turned the prow towards the sea and the stern towards the land, and rowed away lightly and courageously, and nought of their adventures is told save that for the long space of a fortnight they were on the briny sea. And at the end of that period, Laoi looked out from the crow’s nest and saw the fair shelter of an island and the pleasant side of a land in the distance, and a foaming blue-bordered harbour, and as far out from the land as the eye could reach, a great number of ships and swift barques upon that harbour. And Laoi related this to Cúchulainn.
“Do thou sail the ship to that haven,” quoth Cúchulainn.
Laoi sailed the ship right through the midst of the fleet, unerringly and skilfully, until its side ground against the fair sandy beach. Laoi rose with a mighty, powerful leap from the shafts of his javelins and landed with his two soles upon the green-grassed, verdant land, and pulled the ship to shore. And the warrior came forth from it. And when they had landed, they saw the hills and the meadows and the smooth, extensive plains full of hosts and armies and companies and of warriors, armed and equipped and accoutred and ready for action, and of handsome mettlesome steeds, and of beautiful and variegated pavilions, so that one might think that the kings and noble princes of the world were assembled there in that one spot.
“Nay, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “it is for these hosts that the fleet in the harbour serves, and who knows but that it is Garuidh Garbhghlflineach who is here, surrounded by the nobles of the world. And Laoi,” quoth he, “let my tent be set up opposite the hosts that I may know who are they that are there.”
Laoi erected a beautiful, wonderful tent of delicately-fine white satin, thatched and covered with the down of a white-breasted swan, and he placed tables and benches therein and put the arms and edged weapons by the sides of the tent. And Cúchulainn said:
“Well, Laoi, prepare a couch and a lofty bed for me that I may sleep a while, for I am wearied from the sea. And do thou watch and guard for me that nought may come upon us unawares.”
But the hosts that were there were no other than Ciabhán Cúilfhionn, the son of the King of Almayne, who had collected the hosts of Almayne for the purpose of coming to Ireland to avenge Eochaidh Éadrocht, the son of the King of Almayne, i.e. the brother of Ciabhán’s father, who had fallen by Conall Cearnach when the latter was levying tribute on the world shortly before. And at the time that Eochaidh fell by Conall, this Ciabhán was learning the art of arms with Abhurtach in the Land of Promise; and on arriving home he was told of the death of his uncle and how Conall had taken tribute from Almayne with him to Ireland. And he was angered and enraged, and collected and assembled an imposing and very mighty host to come to Ireland, and he had them there on that spot prepared and ready to start on the expedition.
However when Ciabhán and his folk saw the strange and wonderful tent that had been erected opposite them, and the decorated, tough-fibred cloth of satin that had been put in the door of the tent, i.e. the ensign of Cúchulainn, (and it had three names, to wit Muir Manannáin and Sguab Ghálhaidh and Bearnadh Buidhne, and it was Manannán who brought him that standard from the Land of Promise), they were seized with wonder and terror. And Ciabhán sent one of his household to find out who was there. The warrior went to the door of the tent and he met Laoi and asked him who was in the tent.
“A young beardless lad from Ireland,” said Laoi, “who is faring through the lands to learn arms and valour.”
“Were he not from Ireland,” said the warrior, “he would get reward and wages from my lord. And I am certain,” quoth he, “that he will put him to death because he is from Ireland.”
“What grudge does he bear to Irishmen beyond all others?" asked Laoi.
The warrior revealed to Laoi the cause of Ciabhán’s ill-will towards Irishmen and the reason for the assembling of the host.
“Well, lad,” said Laoi, “do thou go back and tell the son of the King of Almayne all that thou hast heard.”
“What is the name of the youth?" asked he.
“I shall not tell that,” answered Laoi, “until he himself permit me.”
The warrior went back and Ciabhán asked him tidings of who was there.
“A young, beardless lad,” said he, “the most beautiful of the human race, and he is from Ireland. And were there but one king over all the world, that youth were a fitting son for him in form and make, in youth and beauty. And furthermore the like of the arms and many-edged weapons that are in the tent no king or prince in the fourfold universe possesseth,” quoth the warrior.
“Let nine heroes go forth,” said Ciabhán, “and let that youth be brought unto me, bound and cruelly fettered. And if we can get him to guide and direct us to Ireland, we shall spare his life and in addition shall give him reward. Otherwise, he shall be killed by us forthwith.”
There came forth then nine stout, full-brave warriors, armed and equipped, and they came to the tent. And when Laoi saw them, he donned his arms and armour, and took two of Cúchulainn’s spears, namely, the Cdrsach Dhearg and Seóladh Rinne, in his hand and went forth to encounter them. One of them asked him:
“Art thou the youth from Ireland?"
“No,” said Laoi,” but I am his attendant. And what would ye with him?”
“We would,” quoth the warrior, “bring him bound and cruelly fettered before the son of the King of Almayne.”
“Thou wilt not so bring him indeed,” said Laoi, “for it is not easy for a small number to bind him.”
“Did I not believe that thou wert an attendant or a charioteer,” said the warrior, “I would wound thy heart because of thy great disrespect.”
“I shall wound thee,” said Laoi, “for my lord doth not deem it fitting to take arms against so scanty a host as ye.”
And thereupon he made a thrust of the Cursach Dhearg at the warrior and put it the length of a hero’s hand out through his back. And he cast Seóladh Rinne at the second man and pierced the heart in his breast. And he attacked the remaining seven with his wieldy, heavily-smiting sword, as a hawk attacks little birds, so that he made a hacking slaughter and small everlastingly-scattered bits of them all, save one man alone who fled in rout from him, wanting one hand and one eye. And when this warrior arrived in the presence of Ciabhân, he asked him for news.
“Great and terrible news have I,” said the warrior, “for I alone of yon band have escaped from the attendant of the champion who is in the tent. And if the warrior is as violent as the attendant, it will require a battalion to destroy them.”
“Let a hundred stout, brave warriors go forth,” said Ciabhán, “and let the heads of those two be brought to me if they do not suffer themselves to be bound.”
The hundred heroes, equipped and accoutred, fared forth to the tent. And when Laoi saw them, he was loth to wake Cdchulainn, for he wished not that Cúchulainn should discover fear or cowardice in him, for Laoi was a champion who could fight a hundred and Cúchulainn had overthrown him in single combat before, and he himself had undertaken perpetual friendship towards Cúchulainn through love of his valour and virtue. - And so he went forth to encounter them boldly and fiercely, swiftly and haughtily. And when Laoi came near them, they I all cast showers of their thin, strongly-pointed spears and of their hard, broad-socketed javelins at him. But Laoi caught all the spears and javelins on the surface of the heavy, engraved, - strong, fair-hued shield. And then he went into their midst and took to wounding and harrying them, to slaughtering and hacking them, so that he was more to be likened to a valourous vetera or a battle champion or a fierce dragon than to an attendant o charioteer. However, the end and conclusion of that combat was that the hundred valourous heroes fell by Laoi’s Lhunde feats in that spot, all save an odd person who fled in rout from him.
At that precise time Cúchulainn awoke from his sleep and beheld the mangled corpses and hacked bodies and the pools of blood at the entrance to the tent, and Laoi collecting and gathering together their arms and accoutrements and weapons.
“Well Laoi,” quoth Cúchulainn, “who has wrought this mangling slaughter and this hostile combat which I behold?"
“Easy to tell, Cúchulainn,” answered Laoi. “Ciabhán Cuilfhionn, son of the King of Almayne, is yonder with a numerous host ready to go to Ireland to avenge Eochaidh Éadrocht, son of the King of Almayne, his father’s brother, who fell by Conall Cearnach when the latter was exacting tribute from the world. And when Ciabhân heard that thou wert from Ireland, he sent nine heroes here to bring thee bound and fettered to his presence. And as I liked not to wake thee for so small a band, I tried my own hand at them and they fell by me, all save one man who fled in rout from me after having lost a hand. And then there came a hundred heroes, armed and equipped, and I had no time to wake thee and prepare thy weapons, for they would have been upon thee before I could have arranged thy arms for thee. And so I went into their midst and plied my weapons on them, for I had liefer fall by them than endanger thee unarmed. However, but few of them escaped and those that did are not without blemishes they will bear till the end of their lives.”
“Take victory and blessing, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “and that is the deed of a goodly hero in face of violence. And as thou hast watched to-day for me, so shall I watch to-night and tomorrow for thee. And Laoi,” said he, “harness the Enchanted Chariot and guide it lightly, that I may go round the hosts and make estimate of their number, and further that 1 may redden my hand with them, for it is a geis for me to be one day before the enemy without shedding blood. And we know too that it is not a small company which will come the third time to us.”
Laoi set about harnessing the chariot.
However when those who had fled from Laoi on the battlefield, before that, came into the presence of the son of the King of Almayne, he asked tidings of them.
“Great and evil tidings have we,” said they, “for we alone of the hundred heroes have escaped and have not fallen by the charioteer of the champion who is in the tent.”
“We know,” said Ciabhán, “if the champion is correspondingly valourous, it will be hard to find a man to withstand his violence. And let Cuirrin Craoisfhiaclach be summoned to me,” said Ciabhán. (This was a hideous terrible giant who was in Ciabhán’s household. And no man of the race of Adam was huger than this giant, and he had no ribs, but his body was one stout unbreakable sheet of bone, and he was clad in strong, hard armour of red bronze through which arms or many-edged weapons could not wound, and he wore a strong, hard helmet of the same material. And he cared not how numerous were those who smote his body together, so safe was his armour, so strong his body. And the smiting weapon that he had was an oak-tree, strongly torn up by the roots and quickly lopped of branches and leaves without filing down, without carpentry-work. And this giant Ciabhân had for the purpose of breaking down the walls and ramparts of courts arid cities and castles, and of routing and dispersing hosts and armies).
The giant was brought in and Ciabhán said:
“Well, Cuirrin, go to you tent, and if the champion there do not suffer himself to be bound and cruelly fettered, grind his bones to powder and his attendant with him, and bring their two heads here to me as a recompense for the devastation they have wrought amongst the hosts.”
Armed with the oak tree, the giant set forth with heavy clumsy steps towards the tent. And Laoi perceived him coming.
“Well, Cúchulainn, there is a fearful, terrible giant coming towards us, the hugest and most hideous of human kind, with a tremendous oak tree on his shoulder, and no warrior or battle hero is fit to combat him. And what art thou to do, for the chariot will not be prepared ere he reach us
“Well Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “be thou not fearful of him, but start to prepare the chariot, and I shall go to meet the giant and shall ward him off from thee, until the chariot be ready and the arms prepared for use.
“Alas!" quoth Laoi, “the oak tree which the giant carries will make small bits of thee when I am not guiding the chariot for thee.”
“Dost thou not know, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “that I slay the birds of the air as they fly, and the deer of the woods as they run, and the fish in the river as it swims, by reason of the greatness of my vigour and activity, the swiftness of my hand and the highness of my courage? And why should I not ward off the giant with my feats of activity though I were dependent on them for weapons?"
Then Cúchulainn went to meet the giant with no other weapons than his sword and two spears and two of his venonous feats, to wit, the apple-feat and the little-dart-feat. And as they neared one another the giant said:
“Whither goest thou, little man?"
“To seek news of thee,” answered Cúchulainn.
“I am of the King of Almayne’s men,” said he, “and I am going to behead the champion who is in the tent unlesc he suffer himself to be brought bound.”
“He will not suffer himself to be bound, indeed,” said Cúchulainn, “through fear of combat, and I will give thee combat here for him that he himself may meanwhile don his arms.”
Thereupon the giant gave vent to a laugh and said:
“By my word indeed, I should in no wise like to wound such as thou, but if thou took service with me, I would give thee wages and the arms and equipment of the hero who is in the tent, for I think that thou art with him and that it is thou who hast slaughtered the band of heroes just now.”
“Here are some of his arms,” said Cúchulainn, “and thou canst not give them away until thou hast beheaded me first.”
And thereupon Cúchulainn put his finger on the rivets of the spear and aimed an excellent cast, without crookedness or obliqueness, right in the middle of the giant’s chest and armour. But he did no more injury or hurt to him with that cast than if he had struck it against the front of a rough-topped rock of stone. On seeing this, the giant raised the oak tree in his two hands over his shoulder, and aimed a strong and mighty blow at Cúchulainn. And Cúchulainn rose lightly like a bird to avoid the tree, so that the blow descended on the ground and ploughed in the earth a deep ridge in which a hundred armed heroes could have hidden.
When Cúchulainn saw that the spear inflicted no wound on the body of the giant, he aimed the apple-feat right in the centre of his face and forehead, so that the lump of steel which was on the end of the apple-feat carried out beyond the back of the giant’s head a portion of brain as large as itself. And that did not satisfy Cúchulainn, but he aimed the little-dart-feat at him right in the centre of the breast, so that he broke the hard, strong armour of red bronze which was upon his breast and pierced the roots of his heart and lungs with that cast, and the giant fell prostrate and dead; and like [the sound of a rampart or a great fort struck down by a thunderbolt was the noise and tumult which the truly hideous giant made in falling to the ground. After this great exploit, Cúchulainn turned to where he had left Laoi harnessing the chariot, and he found that Laoi had the chariot harnessed and the arms ready for use.
“Methinks, Cúchulainn,” said Laoi, “the giant fell by thy swift casting.”
“He did, in sooth,” said Cúchulainn, “and I hope that the son of the King of Almayne together with the greater part of his army will fall by me at evening ; for less hurtful is it for the men of Ireland that these should fall by me here than that they should go to Ireland and do much violence there ere they could be checked.”
“Well, Cúchulainn,” said Laoi, “don thy valourous apparel, for thy chariot and thy arms are ready and prepared.”
Thereupon Cúchulainn put his shining shirt of white, delicately-soft satin next his fair skin and his gold-bordered tunic of orange silk over the shirt. He put two light, weak buskins of blue-green silk on his royal, handsome calves; he put his two new shoes of brown leather, bound and decorated with beautiful, refihed gold, on his fair feet. He put over his tunic his seven and twenty shirts, waxed, board-like, stitched, which were a protection against wound of javelin or bright blade. Over these shirts he put his doublet, bright and strong, of brown leather of skins of seven oxhides, arranged and decorated with brilliant shining gems, which was a protection against darts and sharp points and against the wounding of spears and javelins. Outside that doublet he put the large-hooked, engraved breastplate, with workmanship of noble gold, close, strong, pressed together, long, sheltering, ringed, bound and arranged by the hands of seers and noble artisans, which was a protection against wound of dart, sword and steel blade, spears, javelins and sharp points. He put on the angular shoulderpiece with gold edges, round his fair neck, and the hard, strong collar of refined silver over that shoulder-piece. He put on his head the Fairy Helmet of Manannán, to wit the shining, splendid, bright helmet which Manannán brought to him from the Land of Promise, full of precious stones and gems [lit, stones of victory and increase] of the land of Africa, namely, diamond, tophas, beryl and onyx, and in which were engraved the forms of many various, terrible beasts. And he put his two strong, protective gauntlets of hard iron, strong and unbreakable, on his fair, supple, strong hands. And having encased his body thus in his battle-armour, he went valiantly, proudly, haughtily into his chariot and sat in the midst of the arms and feats and edged weapons. And there was not in the world a hero or warrior or veteran who could have borne, or been able, to sit or stand in the midst of those arms, save alone Cúchulainn, because of the amount of the poison, the hideousness of the feats, and the sharpness of the spears and points and blades, for none on earth save Cúchulainn knew how to wield them.
“Well Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “drive the chariot around the hosts that I may estimate their numbers.”
Laoi did so, and Cúchulainn estimated and reckoned the numbers of their heroes and warriors, their disposition and order, the arrangement of their arms and armour, and the appearance and make of the leaders and chiefs. And then he stopped the chariot opposite the hosts.
“Now, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “turn the left side of the chariot towards the hosts that I may ply my thunderfeat on them.”
Laoi did so and lightly drove and urged on the steeds so that the chariot and the hero at that time were like a squirrel kaping amongst the leafy trees of a wood. And the scald-crows and the sprites and the wild things of the glen raised hideous, fearful cries around him, searching for and prophesying the blood to be shed.
Then Cúchulainn started the splendid, numerous, strange feats which he had learned from Sgathach and Uathach and Aoife, and when the hosts beheld those feats, they were seized with horror and fright, for never before had they seen such performed by any warrior in the whole world. And Cúchulainn plied his thunderfeat of a thousand, so that he made three swift circuits around them and a thousand fell in each corner of the four corners of the hosts at every circuit, for he had them like cattle on a day of gadding in a strong unbreakable enclosure, with no escape by sea or by land. Having thus slaughtered the hosts, he came before them again and looked upon them and said:
“Well, Laoi, I have not yet had my fill of battle. And guide thou the chariot into the midst of the hosts, for in their midst are the veterans of combat, and I wish to wreak my violence upon them so that there may not be two to attack me together with the son of the King of Almayne presently.”
Laoi guided the chariot into the midst of the hosts, and Cúchulainn started to wound and slaughter and mutilate the warriors and champions who were the leaders of the hosts, for he recognised them by their arms and equipment and appearance.
Howbeit, until the leaves of the wood or the sands of the sea or the stars of heaven be numbered, there will not be reckoned all that fell in that onslaught by Ctichulainn. For there escaped not of those hosts save a few who fled routed to the City of the Three Peaks, the stead of the King of Ahnayne, which was in their rear, and not one of those who fled escaped without lack of a foot or a hand or an eye or bearing some other deadly wound inflicted by Cúchulainn.
When Ciabhán heard of the slaughter and destruction of the hosts and the slaying of his household and heroes, and the stoppage of his expedition, he was filled with fierceness and rage, anger and indignation, shame and reproach, and he almost inflicted a violent death upon himself, so enraged was he at having been on sea and not in the midst of his people on that occasion. However he ordered his charioteer to prepare his chariot forthwith, and the charioteer did so; and when the chariot was ready Ciabhán went into it. And violent was the man who came in that chariot, for he was the veteran of battle, the doom of enemies, the anvil-sledge, the drowning wave, the fierce dragon, the proud, powerful lion, namely, slaughtering, battle-victorious Ciabhán, son of the King of Ahnayne. Howbeit, he came forth from the city in this wise, with a steed powerful, proud, froth-mouthed and mettlesome, high-eared, pure-white, broad-chested, round-nailed and highgroined, in the front yoke of his chariot, and in the rear yoke a similar steed.
And when he beheld the slaughter and Cúchulainn arranging and wielding the venomous feats in readiness for him, he spurred on the chariot, and he gave a wild, fierce, proud leap to meet Cúchulainn, like a blast of a very sharp, rushing wind. And Cüchu]ainn gave the same to meet and encounter him, so that these two warriors were like unto two powerful fiery thunder-bolts blown forth from the vaults of the firmament with strong and powerful thunder. And when they reached each other, they made eager, very swift thrusts of their sharpened, keen-edged spears and of their greedy, broad-socketed javelins at one another’s bodies, so that the helmets were broken and bruised, and the breastplates were pierced and bored, and the shields were split and scattered, and the tunics and the coats of mail and the gorgets were rent and torn, and the spears and javelins and missive weapons were blunted, and all their protective body-armour was scattered and loosened, and the feats ~vent out of their proper order and arrangement, in that thunderous onslaught.
Yet woe to the single hero or warrior, to the weak, unvaliant band, to the poet or man of verse who should attempt to separate those two heroes at that moment!
However, before going to the conflict, Cúchulainn had said to Laoi:
“Laoi, if it is I who am oppressed in the combat, do thou incite me and satirise me and say evil of me, so that I may be seized with shame and reproachfulness. But if it is I who overcome Ciabhán, do thou praise me and say well of me, so that my pride and my courage may be augmented thereby.”
As for the heroes, when the spears and the javelins, the helmets and the breastplates and the other accoutrements were broken, they had recourse to the blades and the heavy, keenedged swords, and they began to smite and to pierce, to slay and to slaughter, to hew and to mutilate each other, pitilessly, mercilessly, so that each of them used to cut lumps of flesh and blood and of clots of gore as large as a month-old child from the shoulders and back and sides of the other, and they pierced the body and skin and chest of each other, and foaming, querulous streams of blood flowed from their bodies.
Howbeit, Laoi liked not the oppression he saw upon his lord and master, and he said:
“Methinks, Cúchulainn, thou art not able to destroy the hero who opposes thee, for I see that he has smitten and pierced thee as a tool pierces an oak tree, and he has encompassed thee as the woodbine the wood, and he has scattered thy arms and equipment as the sun scatters a shower, so that thou hast no longer any claim to valour or knightly deeds, and thy ilrepute and dishonour will travel through the four quarters of the world and in particular to Dundalk and to Emania, thou distorted, capricious little sprite!"
When Cúchulainn heard these words he was filled with shame and self-reproach, and he rose with the swiftness of the swallow, the fierceness of the dragon, the strength of the lion, and took the apple-feat in his right hand and the sling-feat in his left and aimed them both opposite each other on both sides of the chariot at Ciabhán, so that he broke and shattered the two hard, strong plates of red bronze which were outside, and the two big precious stones of fair white crystal as large as mill stones which were inside the two sides of the chariot, and the chariot fell to the ground and the rear yoke of it came beneath the head of the rear horse. Thereupon Cúchulainn leaped from his chariot and sprang upon the son of the King of Almayne and closed his two beautiful, royal hands around him and bore him to the ground, and he bound him ignobly and harshly, and raised him on his shoulder then and placed him before Laoi on the front yoke of the chariot, and they drove towards his tent. And when they reached the tent, Cúchulainn said:
“Well, Laoi, descend and behead the son of the King of Alinayne.”
“Do not so,” said Ciabhán, “for it is sufficient for thee to have the glory of my victory without beheading me. And furthermore, I shall do homage and obeisance to thee and give thee tribute and hostages, and I shall encounter warriors and heroes for thee in what place soever thou wishest henceforth for ever, for I deem it no disgrace or reproach to do homage and obeisance to such a warrior as thou.”
“If thou wert to give me guarantees and pledges,” said Cúchulainn, “to fulfil all that I should enjoin on thee, I would spare thy life.”
He pledged the sun and moon and the constellations of heaven and earth to Cúchulainn for the fulfilment of all that he should enjoin on him. Thereupon Cúchulainn unbound him, and said:
“This is what I enjoin on thee, to go to Ireland without army or host, and to tell in Dundalk and Emania of the expedition to Ireland thou hadst planned to avenge thy kinsman, and how the renowned Cúchulainn frustrated that design, and how thou wert overthrown by him; and to offer thy arms to my tutor in valour, namely Conall Cearnach, son of Aimhirghin; and further to take with thee three stones from the land of Almayne to add to the stone-heap between Emania and Ardsoileach, which is being made of the tribute which Conall levied on the territories of the world what time Eochaidh 1~adrocht, thy kinsman, fell by him, and which is called the Heroes’ Mound at Emania. And that is what I enjoin on thee.”
Ciabhán gave guarantees and pledges to fulfil that, and then they made peace and friendship together kindly and gently, and they set forth together to the encampment of the King of Almayne. And the king and his household welcomed Cúchulainn and were grateful to him for sparing Ciabhán’s life, and he was served and attended with honour. And Cúchulainn disclosed to them that it was in pursuit of Garuidh Garbhghláineach and of Gruaidh Ghriansholas, daughter of the King of Antioch, that he was faring through the world.
“Sad is the tale thou tellest, O youthful lad!" said the king, “for it is like swimming against a cascade, and smiting an oak with fists, and putting sand in a withy, and thrusting a hand in a nest of venomous adders, for any hero or warrior in the fourfold universe to pursue that man or his brother, Fearghus Fiodhârd, the son of the King of Morocco. And though frightful the account of Garuidh,” quoth he, “he is but [a subject for] play and laughter in comparison with Fearghus. For this is the manner of Fearghus: the night he was born, his mother went with him to the confines of Hell and dipped him thrice in the depths of the River Styx, and arms or weapons never wound anyone who is dipped therein, and neither do they wound Fearghus save in one spot. And none who lives knows in what part of his body is that spot but he himself and his mother. And moreover he has a spear which Vulcan the Smith made him which was tempered in the deep dark-gloomy stream of Hell, and neither herb nor healing nor balsam can avail any wound inflicted by that spear save by smiting the wound thrice by the spear which caused it. And that cure will never be got, and therefore none escapes from the hands of Fearghus.”
“Where is that man now?" asked Cúchulainn.
“He is,” said the king, “in the city of Salerna, the stead of the King of Sicily, where he has just beheaded the son and heir of the king and has cast into captivity and bondage the king himself and his young son and his beautiful daughter called Clephanta. And moreover he has seven frightful, hideous giants for the purpose of combat and violence and levying of tribute and taxes, and for the purpose of making untimely, slaughterous sacrifices of every strange traveller or ambassador that they meet. And no man in the world is fit to fight with these giants because of their size and strength. And there is a bridge on the straits at the city of Salerna, and not an inch length of it but bears the head of a warrior or champion who fell by Fearghus and those giants. And I advise thee “said the king, “to return again to Ireland and to take with thee the tribute of Almayne and to go no further, for whichever of them thou didst encounter, Fearghus or Garuidh, thou wouldst not escape from him but fare as all others have done.”
“I swear by my weapons of valour,” said Cúchulainn, “that I would not accept the kingship of the world from the rising to the setting of the sun and forego a sight of that man whom arms do not wound, for I have a hope that my arms will wound him.”
Howbeit, they passed the time till morning in drinking and amusements and in making a compact of peace and friendship, And on the morrow, Cúchulainn rose in the early morn and ordered Laoi to prepare his ship and to arrange his arms and feats. Laoi did so swiftly and readily.
As for the son of the King of Almayne, he, too, rose and started for Ireland to fulfil his promise to Cúchulainn, and he bade farewell to the king and to Cúchulainn. And his adventures are not told until he reached Dundalk. And there he found Conall Cearnach and Fearghus. And he disclosed to them his mission and journey, and he offered his arms to Conall as Cúchulainn had bidden him and he told them the adventures of Cúchulainn from beginning to end and how he had set forth to meet Fearghus Fiodhfhoda. Sad and anxious were they all concerning that expedition, for they despaired of ever seeing him again. And because of that, they could not make Eimhear cease from her lamentation. And they took Ciabhán with them to Emania where he was served with honour, and with his own hands he placed the three stones on the Heroes’ Mound. And he remained a long time with Conchubhar and the heroes. And then he departed from them in peace and friendship and promised to send them what news he could of Cúchulainn.
Tidings of Cúchulainn here: on leaving the court of the King of Almayne, he stayed not till he reached the court of the King of Sicily and till he came into harbour and haven opposite the bridge on which were the heads. And he landed at once from the ship and spake to Laoi:
“Well, Laoi, prepare the Scythed Chariot at once and guide it in a magical, vengeful course, fo~ I deem it certain that I shall get harsh conflict and that my blood will be shed in this land to which we have come. For I had a vision and dream last night which caused me terror and great fear.”
“What dream was that?" asked Laoi.
“It seemed to me,” quoth Cúchulainn, “that a venomous serpent came unto me and wounded me in many places and that after, there came a shoal of fair trout out of Loch na Séad to me and a drop of the water of the lake in the mouth of each trout, and that they put that water in my wounds and they were healed forthwith. And the serpent which was blacker than smith’s coal came to me a second time, and thrust its tail into my side and wounded my heart with that thrust, and that wound received no drop of the water from the trout. And when I endeavoured to banish the serpent from me with my weapons, they slipped from it as from the back of a smooth and slimy eel. And thereupon I awoke, and ever since,” quoth he, “I am full of terror and great fear.”
“O Little Cú,” said Laci, “be not terrified on that account for this dream and vision is but the disturbance of the [bodilyj humours and the apparitions of the soaring demons of the air.”
And he made the lay, and said:
A vision I saw last night—
truly, it almost perverted my senses—
a serpent of sharpest bite,
gnawing me on all sides.
O Cúchulainn of the hard spears!
Be not terrified because of a vision.
Disturbing humours assail
Naoise with many terrors.
The serpent which I saw
gnawing my fair side was,
O Laoi, in truth,
Fearghus of the sharp spear.
O Hound of the mighty blows!
thy victorious venomous feats
will overcome the pride of Fearghus of the sharp spear,
though it be difficult.
From my sharp venomous feats
none on earth could be saved,
save only Fearghus of the harsh appearance
who was baptised by demons.
Seldom till this hour,
in harsh battle-combats
wert thou murmuring at thy arms,
O Hound whose feats are not weak!
I have never murmured at my arms,
as thou sayest, or at anyone on earth,
and never shall.
My fame will live if I fall in battle.
After that lay, Laoi started to prepare the chariot. At that precise time the seven giants we have mentioned happened to be standing at the end of the bridge, holding a fair and meeting concerning the heads, and to see if perchance they might hear or behold a wanderer or strange ambassador coming to the Land or the city. And they saw the beautiful strong-fibred ensign of satin being unfolded, and the beautiful renowned chariot being harnessed, and the strong mettlesome steeds breaking their yoke and their reins in their eagerness to be allowed to perform deeds of valour, and the terrible, strange feats being openly performed, and the sparks of red fire rising from the javelins and spears so long as they were not quenched in blood and gore. Howbeit, they marvelled much and wondered which of the heroes of the world had dared to come there without permission from Fearghus, the son of the King of Morocco.
There came forth then, furiously and swiftly, two of the giants with two clubs of iron on their shoulders.
“Cúchulainn,” said Laoi, “aid me to prepare the chariot and weapons before yon frightful band comes to us and thou unarmed.”
“I shall not aid thee,” answered Cúchulainn, “but I shall ward these off from thee while thou art preparing them.”
Cúchulainn went to meet them, and as they approached, one of them spake:
“Whom dost thou serve, lad?" said he.
“The warrior who came from the ship,” answered Cúchulainn.
“What is his name?" asked the giant.
“Cúchulainn mac Subhaltaigh,” answered he.
“What means his journey hither?" asked the giant.
“To encounter Fearghus,” said Cúchulainn.
Thereupon the giant burst into laughter and said:
“By my word, it seems likely that he had not tidings of Fearghus or of us when he came forth. For I shall smite his bones with this club and If shall put his head on the bridge as was done with all others. And what dost thou do with these arms?" asked he.
“Not long shalt thou be in ignorance of that,” said Cúchulainn.
And with that he prepared Seóladh Rinne and aimed it right at his gaping mouth, so that the spear pierced his lungs and the roots of his heart and all that it met as far as the small of his back, and went the length of a warrior’s band out through his back. And Cúchulainn aimed the Cürsach Dhearg likewise at the second man in the lower part of his body so that he made two equal and evenly-divided pieces of him with that cast. When the other five on the bridge beheld that mighty deed, they ran to meet Cúchulainn, and they were not indifferent as to which of them should slaughter him [i.e. they vied with one another in their efforts to slaughter him].
But Cúchulainn drew his spears, and went against them, and cast the two spears simultaneously to right and left at them, so that two of them fell by that good cast. And he attacked the remaining three with his sword and took to smiting them swiftly so that he converted them into food for vultures and ravens, as was his wont. And he returned to Laoi after that great feat, and donned his armour and equipment, and went into his chariot. And they went upon the green which was at the end of the bridge.
However, not long were they there when they saw approaching them a chariot and a warrior the greatest and the most terrible of the human kind. And like unto a rampart or a great court crashing to the ground was the noise and sound of the chariot, so great was his swiftness and rage coming to behead Cúchulainn.
But on seeing Fearghus, Cúchulainn raised wonderful, numerous feats such as he had never raised against warrior or hero before. Yet it was vain for him—for when Cúchulainn cast all his spears and his javelins at hm, they would glance from him doing him no more damage or wounding than if they had been struck against a hard, rough-topped rock. And Cúchulainn, having perceived this, tried all the venomous feats one after another upon him, so that he broke and rent his equipment and the yokes and arrangement and binding of his chariot. And yet even as little as the drawing of blood Cúchulainn did not accomplish in that time, bt;t it was as if he were smiting an oak with his fists. Yet that was not an even fight or fair combat, for so strong were the blows of Fearghus and further so little the heed that Cúchulainn gave to the protection of his body by reason of his fierceness and rage and violence towards Fearghus, that Cúchulainn’s body and flesh and heart were wounded and pierced and hacked and cut. For during that time Cúchulainn had not left an inch of Fearghus’s body, as much of it as was covered with armour, that he did not attack with some one of his venomous feats in search of the spot which he had heard was vulnerable. But he did n~ot chance upon that spot. And whilst Cúchulainn was engaged thus, Fearghus made a hostile wound and a lacerated mass of Cúchulainn’s body, so that it was the boards of his chariot which were keeping his body and his limbs together, and the ravens of the air were taking large heavy pieces of his flesh and blood up into the clouds of heaven and the vaults of the firmament. Howbeit they were engaged in this mutual smiting from the early dawn of morn till the setting of the evening star, so that their steeds were weary and faint, their charioteers fatigued and tired, their equipment broken and burst asunder.
Then Fearghus spake:
“Unknown warrior,” quoth he, “if thou gave me a pledge to encounter me here early to-morrow morn, I would cease from this combat till the morrow. For never have I encountered warrior or hero who withstood me so long save thee alone.”
“Not with intent to avoid thee did I come here,” answered Cúchulainn, “for though I have not succeeded in destroying thee to-day, before mid-day to-morrow I shall put thy head where thou didst hope to put mine, namely on the bridge.”
“That is a great promise,” said Fearghus, “if it be made good.”
For thus was Cúchulainn, he allowed neither cowardice nor faint-heartedness to approach him during all that time.
(Shouldst thou wonder, O reader, how these two strangers and foreigners understood each other’s language, know that at that time there was in use between nations a common language which was not proper to any one nation and which was called the Béarla Teibhidhe, just as Latin is now used; and without doubt that was the language in which these two spoke to each other on that occasion).
However these two veterans of battle turned their backs on one another, and Fearghus went, unhurt and unwounded, to the city, and Cúchulainn went wounded and gory to the tent. And like a loud-voiced stream dashing over the stones of a ford or river- mouth were the streams of blood leaving his body and his breast. And when they had come to the tent, Cúchulainn spake to Laoi:
“Well Laoi,” said he, “take my sword and cut off my head, for I shall not be alive when morning comes. For now my dream has been verified. And do thou go in thy ship and take my head and my chariot and my weapons with thee to Ireland, so that that invulnerable giant may not boast of my defeat. And sure it is that if he were one whom weapons could wound, he could not escape from my weapons. And give my blessing to Eimhear and to Fearghus and to Conall and to all my friends besides. And thou shalt get affection and honour from them for ever for having brought news of me to them.”
“Alas! little Cú,” said Laoi, “I swear by the gods of adoration that I could not accept the kingship of the world without battle or fighting and behead him with whom I have travelled over land and sea and whom I hold dearest of all the men and women in the world. But I shall wait till Fearghus comes to-morrow to behead thee and I shall encounter him so that my own head may be cut off and put along with thine on the bridge. For better do I deem that than to be alive after thee though endowed with all the goods of the earth.”
“Well, Laoi,” quoth Cúchulainn, “since thou consentest not to take my counsel in that, see if thou canst stop in some wise these streams of blood which flow from my wounds, so that I may be alive to-morrow and go in my chariot in the morning. For I prefer to all the goods of the earth that my head should be cut oft on the field of battle rather than upon my bed. For then Fearghus would say that I fell by him in one day’s combat, as all others who ever fell by him.”
“Alas! little Cú,” said Laoi, “how could I check those streams which flow from thy wounds like the cataract of a river, seeing that I could count the blades of grass on the earth through the middle of thy body and through the wounds that are in the slender part of thy side from the venomous spear.
And they made the lay between them and said:
Full of wounds to-night is thy side,
O Cúchulainn who didst not consent to treachery!
Streams of reddest blood
are densely pouring from it.
Put thou herbs to my wounds,
O son of Rianghabhar of the many valourous deeds,
to heal me from the venom of the weapons
before I and thou are dead.
How could I cure thy deadly wounds,
O Cúchulainn of the sharp weapons,
when I can see through thy body
the leaves of the wood, the earth, and the grass.
One terrible wound in thy breast—
never saw I greater wound.
Like a foaming stream rushing over a ford
is the flood [of blood] through it.
Another wound in thy back—
never saw eye a greater wound.
Like a swift torrent over a cataract
is the blood from its edge.
Take my sword of mighty stroke or the ivory-
hilted blade of powerful yoke and cut off my head,
though great the pity,
and take it with thee in thy ship.
Take with thee in thy ship
the head that thou lovest, O Laoi.
That is better than that at any time
tall Fearghus of huge strength should boast my fall.
Not for all the wealth in the world—
O Cúchulainn to whom all lands have submitted—
shall thy head severed from thy body
be seen in my hand.
The stout valiant Fearghus will come,
he will demand head or close combat.
I and Fearghus in the battle—
between us will feats of activity be divided.
Thy head and mine will
Fearghus cut off, in very sooth;
I shall be buried in thy grave,
one tombstone shall we have.
However, after that piteous conversation and lament between the two who held each other dearest of all the world, Laoi took shining, bright sheets and full-wide cloths of linen and he tore them into strips and pieces, and he put lint and healing on the mouths of the wounds which checked the streams of blood. And he arranged a couch and bed, and put thin, light sheets of delicate satin upon it, and he placed the wounded, bloody hero on them, and gave him drinks of pleasant-tasted mead and of invigorating, delicious wine. And he himself donned his suit of battle and combat, and he remained watching and guarding around the tent, waiting for the morn, so that he might do combat with Fearghus on behalf of his lord and master.
However, not with those does the story deal for a while, but we will discourse somewhat here of the Faery friends Ciichulainn had in Ireland. For thus was Cúchulainn, there were no fairies or folk of the mounds in Ireland, and in particular in the province of Ulster, who were not his friends and companions, for they gave him love and lasting affection on account of the excellence of his knowledge and his understanding in magical sciences and in crafts of valour and bravery, and on account of his trustiness, and his lavishness in bestowing gold and wealth. Therefore they used to help and assist him in difficulty and danger, and he used to take their counsel and associate with them, as is evident in the story which is true, namely Seisreach Bhreisligh on the Tdin Bó Cuailgne where Cúchulainn was facing the men of Ireland from the Thursday before Hallowe’en to the Wednesday before the Feast of Brighid, without getting any sleep save what he got by placing his head on his hand and his hand on his knee, until one of his Faery friends came to him, and kept back the hosts for the space of three days and three nights, so that Cúchulainn slept his fill then. And moreover Dolbh and Onndolbh, two fairies, were helping Cúchulainn against Fear Dia at the Ford of Combat, until Fear Dia slew them oii Cúchulainn’s shoulder with a spear-cast. And likewise the fairy who was assisting Fear Dia wound herself in the form of an eel beneath Cúchulainn’s feet in the ford, so that Fear Dia inflicted three heavy wounds on Cúchulainn whilst he was casting the eel from him. And therefore it was not more meet for them to aid their beloved heroes on that occasion than to aid Cúchulainn now in this great strait.
Tidings of the Fairies here: Sithmhall Sithe Müidhbh, and Carrthann Chasdubh from Cnoc Meadha in Leix, and Gáire Gréine from Dun an Aine between Eamhain Macha and Abha Mhór, IolLainn and Iollánach from Dun Lir, Cuirrin Cosluadh from Sliabh Fuaid, Dimhafl of Sliabh Truim, Saoileanach of Loch Saoileann, Sgalghaire of Sliabh Mis, Eibhlinn Bhiorra from Sliabh Cuilhionn, besides a host of others to whom Cúchulainn was dear, on learning through their magic arts that Cúchulainn was in this deadly strait, assembled together in one spot at Fionncharn na Foraire on Sliabh Fuaid, where was Finghin the Seer-Physician, to wit the physician of Cúchulainn himself and the chief physician of the men of the world. And such was Finghfn that on seeing a wound, he would know what sort of weapon had caused it, namely a spear or a blade or a sword or a javelin, or whether a young man or a veteran or a hard warrior had inflicted it, and he would know by the first word which came from the sick man’s Lips whether he would recover or not, and how long it would be until he died.
However when these folk of the fairy palaces had been gathered together in one spot, they disclosed the matter to Finghin, and they lifted him with them into the clouds of heaven with the clear sharp wind, and they stayed not in that lofty soaring until they alighted at the entrance to the tent, as Laoi was placing the cushions of a wounded man beneath Cúchulainn. And when they descended, Finghin said:
“Well, Laoi, how are matters with you?"
Laoi looked sadly and mournfully at the warrior and said:
“By my word, were I in Ireland I should think that thou wert Finghin Fáithliagh.”
“I am Finghin,” answered he, “and I have come with the friends from Faery to aid Cúchulainn.”
On hearing these words Laoi fell into swoons and heavy trances through excessive joy and gladness. Finghin approached the couch and sat beside Cúchulainn’s pillow and said:
“Well, little Cu, how art thou now?"
“If thou wert of my friends,” said Cúchulainn, “I would give thee news, and since thou art not, I do not deem it fitting to give thee news without battle.”
“I am of thy friends,” said Finghin, “to wit Finghin the Seer-Physician, and thy friends from the fairy palaces in Ireland who have come to succour thee.”
And with that Finghin bent down to him and kissed him fondly and fervently. And the Faery host sat on every side of him and they wept weakly, plaintively, bitterly. Laoi rose then from his swoon, and on recognising Finghin, he embraced him and gave him three kisses and wept heavy showers of fervent tears.
Howbeit, Laoi took Cúchulainn’s shoulders and raised him in the couch, and Finghin bared the fair, slender body and took to examining the wounds.
“Examine that wound in my left shoulder,” said Cúchulainn.
“This is the wound of a spear with a thin blade,” said Finghin, “and it is not deep and it is curable.”
“Examine this wound in the apple of my throat which is hindering my breathing and my speech,” said he.
“This is the wound of a dart with a point,” said Finghin. “It has wounded but the flesh and sinews and it is curable.”
“Examine the great wound in my armpit,” said he.
“This is the wound of a blade with venom,” said Finghin, “and it is curable.”
“Examine the great wound in the middle of my breast,” said he.
“This is the wound of a venomous spear from Hell,” said Finghin, “and it has pierced the midriff and the lungs, and herb or healing will not avail it save it be smitten thrice with the same spear.
“Examine the great wound in the slender part of my side,” said he.
“This is a wound of the same spear,” said Finghin, “to wit a spear which has been annealed in the depths of the river Styx in Hell, and herb or salve cannot cure it save by smiting it thrice with the same spear. But I shall make a ‘fair healing’ [i.e. external healing] so that they may not carry thee off soon (?) and I shall cure all thy other wounds completely, so that thou mayst again be fit for combat.”
“Alas!" quoth Cúchulainn, “I should not ask for life or length of days but that I should be enabled to go in my chariot once more and do battle with Fearghus, so that I might not be beheaded on my bed.”
“Thou wilt be fit to fight,” said Finghin, “yet it is perilous to fight against one who is invulnerable.”
Then the Faery host put green-topped herbs and salve and balm at Finghin’s disposal. And Finghin put the balm and a fragrant, healing annointing and oiling on the wounds so that they were all supple and sound, save the two great wounds - made by the venomous spear. And on these Finghin put an “external healing,” so that he stopped the streams of blood and overcame their venomous injury, and he put a strong circlet of red bronze outside around his fair skin, so that the wounds might not break forth with exertion or violence. Then they served him with wine and mead and swift-succouring drinks, to strengthen his blood and to renew his vigour, and thus they spent the time till morning, full of gladness of mind and spirit.
In the early morning on the morrow, the victorious, exultant valourous, wounded hero, to wit the illustrious, comely, versatile Cúchulainn mac Subhaltaigh, rose as if he were without wound or hurt, and he bound his body in his battle-suit of combat and harsh conflict, and he ordered Laoi to prepare the chariot that - he might be at the Ford of Combat before Fearghus arrived there, so that Fearghus might not discover cowardice or faintheartedness in him. Laoi did so, and Cúchulainn went into the chariot and said:
“Well, Laoi, if thou couldst prepare the Ga Bulga for me to-day before I am again wounded by the venomous spear, it were likely that Fearghus would be wounded, regardless of his protective skin.”
“I shall do my best,” said Laoi, “and what thou shalt do,” said he, “is to avoid and ward off the blows and spear-thrusts of Fearghus until the Ga Bnlga be ready, and if I can, thou shalt not be long delayed.”
However, not long were they there when they saw the veteran of combat, the violent fighter, the blue-black hideous-hued giant, coining towards them, to wit Fearghus Fiodhárd, son of Rí na bhFear Morc, to-day called Morocco. And he attacked Cúchulainn with rough, strong, deadly blows and very venomous, very swift spearthrusts3 for it liked him not to behold Cúchulainn coming to encounter him the second day full of pride and spirit, as never before had he seen warrior or hero who had once fought with him.
However, Cúchulainn warded off his strong blows, so that he did not suffer wound of javelin or sword or blade or spear in his body or skin, until Laoi and the Faery host went into the straits at the end of the bridge and made a dam and causeway there, and checked the stream until it was a black, dark, deep pool, and prepared the Ga Bulga and called to Cúchulainn to serve it, for it was a geis to the Ga Bulga to give a quick word of warning before it. And Laoi said:
“Lay aside thy feats of activity and casting and beware of [i.e. look out for] the Ga Bulga, beware, beware the Ga Bulga, O victorious feat-abounding Cúchulainn.”
And he made the lay:
“O victorious Cúchulainn,
to whom lands yield,
avoid the feat of Sgathach,
look out for the feat of Aoife.”
Thereupon Cúchulainn sprang from his chariot and went to the pooi, and he cast the beautiful gilded hosen from his fair calves and stood in a certain place. And on seeing that, Fearghus thought that Cúchulainn was fleeing before him, and he followed him to the brink of the river-mouth, with the venomous spear blazing in his hand. Then Cúchulainn aimed the fair, deadly Ga Bulga from between the toes of his right foot right in the middle of Fearghus’s countenance and face. And thus was Fearghus, when he was born his mother dipped him thrice in the depths of the river Styx, so that not an inch of his body was vulnerable save the very tip of his nose which the water did not reach on that occasion.
As for the Ga Bulga, since magic or devilry, arm or armour was no protection from it and since herb or healing availed not against it, one of its pointed darts aimed at the tip of Fearghus’s nose, and it went back out through his neck, so that it pierced and bored the back of his brain, and all the pointed darts of the Ga Bulga accordingly went through his body, so that the crowds of darts and sharp edges on the Ga Bulga on the other side of his back were like a crowd of keen-pointed darts on a harrow, and he was like a cold stone column at the end of a plain or great field with neither life nor motion in hand or foot. For pale-hued Death had taken possession of every inch of his body. And the spear and weapon fell from his hands, yet his power of speech departed not from him till he had said:
“Valiant that casting, O noble young warrior! And I thought that there was not on earth hero or warrior, arm or weapon, to hurt or injure me. And certain am I that thine will be the headship of the world henceforth, for I doubt not but that my brother, Garuidh Garbhghlüineach, will fall by thee if thou see him, for he, unlike me, can be wounded by weapons.
And having said these words he fell dead to the ground. And thereupon Cúchulainn came forth from the pooi, and Finghin ran to Fearghus, and took the venomous spear in his hand, and bared the fair, beautiful, foam-white body of Cúchulainn, and smote the wounds thrice with the spear, so that at once they became supple and sound even as any other part of his body which had never before been wounded. Then the fairy hosts closed in around Cúchulainn, and with excess of joy and delight they sang sweet, melodious music. And they took to arranging and settling him, for they stripped him of his bloodstained, reddened tunics, and they clothed him in shining, full- beautiful garments, and they began to bind and dress his ringleted beautiful-hued hair, and they cast a fairy spell upon him, so that he was more like unto a beautiful, courageous youth beguiling women and maidens than to a hero or warrior wielding arms and weapons.
“Well, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “cut open Fearghus and remove the Ga Bulga.”
For the Ga Bulga could not be removed from anyone until every inch of him had been hacked.
Then Laoi took the Body-cutter, to wit the sword for cutting open those whom the Ga Bulga had entered, and he took to hacking and hewing Fearghus until he removed the Ga Bulga. And they say that this Body-cutter was the sword which Fionn mac Cumhaill had afterwards, when he was in authority over the Fianna of Ireland.
However, having exulted in that great exploit, the inhabitants of the city of Salerna, who were on the ramparts and great heights of the city to behold the combat, came forth to meet Cúchulainn, and they took him with them to the city with music and canticles, and they did homage and obeisance to him for having saved them from the dire oppression of Fearghus. And then Cúchulainn asked to be guided to where Fearghus had the king in bondage, and they showed him the way then, without fear or terror, to the tower where were the king and his two children, to wit his son and his daughter, Clephanta. And when he came to the tower, he put a large stone in his sling, and aimed it at the door, so that he burst it into small bits. And he went into the earthy prison where the king and his children were in misery and bondage, and he broke the bonds which were upon them, and brought them out with him. And the people of the city welcomed the king, and they told him how Fearghus had fallen by the victorious feats of Cúchulainn, and greatly did the king marvel at that deed.
And the king and Cúchulainn and the rest of the nobles went to the griandn, and Cúchulainn told them that it was in pursuit of Garuidh he had come from Ireland, and he related all his adventures up to that time. And Clephanta told Cúchulainn of the great love she bore to the Wizard of the Golden Lute, the son of the King of Africa, and of how Garuidh had sent him to the City of the Fiery Stream, and that he or anyone else who had been sent there had no chance of release.
“Be not uneasy about that, princess,” said he, “for I swear by my arms of valour that if I catch sight of Garuidh, I will avenge on him all the violence he has offered to the sons of the kings and nobles of the world hitherto; and further that I shall never return to [everyday] life until I shall have seen those whom Garuidh has sent to the City of the Fiery Stream, or I shall myself fafl in the effort.”
Joyful was Clephanta because of these words, and she said to Cúchulainn that if he willed it, she would be his handmaid and servant throughout his wanderings and adventures, to arrange his couch and to prepare his food and drink. For she gave him her soul’s love because of the excellence of his form, and the greatness of his reputation and renown, and because of his youth and beauty.
But Cúchulainn said that he did not wish that until he should return, and further that he would never return until he brought the Wizard of the Golden Lute to her.
Howbeit, when Cúchulainn had spent some time in the city of Salerna, he told Finghin Fáidhliagh to go to Ireland and take news of him to Dundalk and to Emania, and to tell Eimhear not to be sad, for he himself would shortly return in triumph. Finghin did so. And the King of Sicily gave Finghin much jewels and riches, and in particular he sent three stones by him from the city of Salerna to add to the Heroes’ Stone-heap. And his adventures are not told until he reached Dun Dealgan. And when he arrived there, he told the story and adventures of Cúchulainn from beginning to end. And joyful were all the Ultonians at the news, for they thought it certain that Cáchu~ainn would return since the violent one, Fearghus, had fallen by him.
Tidings of Cúchulainn here: when Finghin and the Faery friends had gone away with the clear, sharp wind, he asked the nobles of Salerna if they knew where he should seek Garuidh or in what place he was wont to reside. They answered that they knew not, for Garuidh was not wont to reside in any one certain spot. One of them said:
“It is my opinion that he is now in the court and goodly mansion of the King of Morocco, his own father, for a betrothal and marriage is being arranged between his sister and the son of the King of the Catheads from the western part of Asia. And in all likelihood he would be there,” said the warrior, “for the nobles of the land of Catheads and of Morocco are assembled there now in one spot. Moreover the frightful, terrible, blood-thirsty, warlike Catheads are human beings who have each the head and ears and tail of a cat.”
On hearing these words, Ctichulainn ordered Laoi to prepare his ship and to harness his chariot and to sharpen his spears and to arrange his feats and to prepare for a journey and expedition. Laoi did so, quickly and actively. And then Cúchulainn set forth from the land of Sicily, and he bade farewell to the king and to Clephanta and to the rest of the nobles. And he went on sea, and his adventures are not told until he came into harbour and haven at the court of the King of Morocco. And on landing there, they saw the hills and the plains and the smooth, broad fields full of hosts and multitudes some of them ignoble, blue- black companies, some of them frightful, horrible, strange people with the head and ears and tail of a cat—and they were armed, equipped and ready for action.
“Well, Laoi,” said Cúchulainn, “prepare the Scythed Chariot for me, for the shuddering of my blood and the seething of great anger are disturbing my heart and breast And further I deem it certain that any that are in this land are not friendly to us.”
Laoi prepared the Scythed Chariot, and he directed it in a violent harmful, magical course. And Cúchulainn went into it then, and he began his wonderful, numerous, awful feats which were full terrible and frightful. And the sky (Y~ darkened over him, so numerous were the phantoms and witches and specties and mad ones of the glen who were shrieking above him, urging him to do battle and combat. When the strange hosts beheld this, they were filled with horror and disgust, and they said that it was some one of the gods of adoration that was there, to avenge their misdeeds on them. However, it was almost true for them. For when Cüchiiainn went into his chariot, he drove into their midst, and began to slaughter them like a ravenous wolf going through little flocks of sheep. And furthermore, scarcely more of them fell by the warrior himself than by the chariot and the steeds, so that not a single fugitive escaped save the son of the King of Catheads and a few others whohad fled, routed, to the court of the King of Morocco. And they shut the door behind them. Cúchulainn went to the door, and put a large pillar-stone in his. sling, and aimed it at the door, so that he broke the variegated door of refined iron which was outside and the strong door of brown oak which was inside. And he went in, and he found the King of Morocco and the son of the King of the Cat-heads before him inside, and gave a blow with his sword to each of them and cut each through the back into two equal even pieces. And then he attacked the household of the court, and Laoi followed him in with Gearr na gColann, the slaughtering sword, in his hand. And they did not let escape a single fugitive of all that were in the court, man or woman. And they brought choice jewels and riches out of it, and then they put fires and flrebrands in the palace, so that they left it a ruddy spark of glowing flames. And all the district of Morocco through which they journeyed, they converted its land into a green-grassed waste ar1d its cities into smoke and red ashes [lit, a smoke (?) of red ashes]. And then they went upon the sea, and in every land and isle and island they came to, Cúchulainn used to receive the submission [of the inhabitants], and they used to pay him high tribute, so that his fame and renown spread through the fourfold universe, and all the kings of the earth trembled before him.
However, when they had been some time journeying thus over sea and land, and receiving hostages from every territory to which they came, they chanced to land in a beautiful, fresh island. And on landing, they saw a royal, beautiful palace and a sunny, ornamented, clear-windowed court. And they came to the door, and asked for admittance. And the doorkeeper asked who was there.
“A youthful lad,” said Laoi, “who is travelling through the world to study all fair valour.”
“I shall go and tell that to my lord,” said the janitor.
He went in and told the king that a youthful, beardless tad, the most beautiful of the human race and of the most wonderful appearance, was at the door seeking admittance.
“Let him be allowed in,” said the king.
Cúchulainn came in, and he found inside a withered, long-lived old man whose strength and activity were spent, and an ancient, inactive old woman, and they were sad and anxious. Cúchulainn sat along with them, and when he sat down, the old woman shed quick, fervent showers of tears and wept piteously and sadly. Cúchulainn asked her the reason of her lament and her sorrow.
“She has much cause,” quoth the old man, “though it avails little to relate it now.”
“Thou mayst tell it to us,” said Cúchulainn, “so that we might be glad to help if help were in our power.
“Alas!" said the old man, “there is none in the world who could help. Yet I shall tell it to thee. This is the land of Africa,” said the old man, “and I was king over it, and yonder is my spouse, said he. “And we had two children, to wit a son and a daughter, and the Wizard of the Golden Lute was the name of the son, and Carthann Chilfhionn the name of the daughter, and that pair surpassed the children of the kings and princes of the whole world. And thus it chanced,” said he, “that Buinne of the Victorious Feats, son of the King of Antioch, gave a flood of heavy love and a truly great stream of affection to the daughter, and she gave him the same. And a betrothal and marriage was - arranged between them. Howbeit, it happened that the daughter of the King of the Isle of Crete, Beróna, gave great and violent love to Buinne Buadhchleasach because of the excellence of his valour and his deeds, his reputation and his renown. Yet he - loved her not. However, when Beróna heard that Buinne Buadhchleasach and my daughter had been betrothed, she was filled with jealousy and envy, and she left her father’s court and came to this place. And when she came, she said that she had been on a ship which had been wrecked at sea, and that her spouse and fair lover had been drowned along with all that were in the ship, save herself alone who had swum to land with great difficulty and trouble. When my daughter heard this tale, she was filled - with great pity for Beróna, and took her for a handmaid and attendant, and clothed her in shining, beautiful garments, and gave her jewels and rings. And such was this woman, Beróna, there was not in the world a maiden more malicious or more given to the practice of magic and sorcery than she. And one day when she and my daughter went out to take the air, she beguiled her to a dark forest which is near by this court, and when they had come to the darkness of the forest, she put her occult, magical arts into operation, and changed my daughter into the frightful, terrible form of a huge, fiery dragon, so that if the hosts of the world were together in one spot they would all go mad and frenzied, so frightful and so hideous is her form and so terrible the fire which comes from her mouth; and every feather of her broad sharp-edged wings is more venomous and keen than any arm or sharp weapon in the world. And she has been thus for a long time, depopulating and destroying the whole district, and killing heroes and warriors who come to see her. For thus did Beróna leave the spells upon her, namely, - that she should be in that form till the end of the world, or until a youthful warrior from the western world, from the land which is called Crioch na bhFuineadhach, should come and force three isses on her, and that then, with that kiss, she would resume her own shape. And we know not in. what region of the world is that land which is called Crioch na bhFuineadhach, save that many heroes and warriors have come to try which of them might succeed in fulfilling the geasa, and every one of them has fallen by the dragon, as well as most of the folk of this land.
“As for the Wizard of the Golden Lute, my son and heir,” said he, “he was filled with grief and sorrow at the enchantment of his sister. And when he learned that she would never regain her own shape save by three kisses from a warrior from Grioch — na bhFuineadhach, and not knowing in what region of the world that land was, he travelled hence to the court of the King of Antioch, where the sons of the kings and nobles of the western world were assembled in one spot to fight against Garuidh Garbhghlüineach, son of the King of Morocco, on behalf of the daughter of the King of Antioch, Gruaidh Ghriansholus, to try if he might hear from some one what was the land which was called Crioch ‘na bhFuineadhach, that he might go there to seek a warrior or hero to come with him to fulfil the geasa which the daughter of the King of Crete had put on his sister. And on arriving at the court of the King of Antioch, he fought like all the rest with Garuidh, and he was overcome by him and Garaidli - sent him in bonds, together with the sons of the kings and prince of the western world to the City of the Fiery Stream, whence they have no hope of deliverance. And in the fourfold universe there was not one more like to thee than he, in form and make and appearance. And that is the cause of the queen’s lament,” said he.
“Sad and sorrowful is the tale thou tellest,” said Cúchulainn. “But,” said he, “I have avenged somewhat of his great misdeeds on Garuidh, for his father and his mother and his brother have fallen by me, together with the nobles of his country, and I hope that he himself will fall by me if I catch a glimpse of him.”
And Cúchulainn told his adventures and travels from beginning to end to the King of Africa, and said, moreover, that he himself was from Crioch na bhFuineadh~ch, and that he hoped to succeed in overcoming the maiden’s spells.
When the King of Africa heard this, indescribable was the greatness of the delight which filled him and the queen, and their wonder at so youthful a lad as Cúchulainn performing a deed which had proved too great for the champions of the world. Cúchulainn asked why the son of the King of Africa was called the Wizard of the Golden Lute.
“I will tell thee that,” said the king. “He gave love and lasting affection to Clephanta, the daughter of the King of Sicily, and he went to woo her, and she gave him a wooing gift, to wit a lute of pure white silver. And the virtue of that lute is that no magic or sorcery affects him who has it, and water does not drown him nor fire burn him; furthermore the wounded and diseased and sick of the world would get ease and sleep on hearing the very sweet, entrancing music which is made by that lute. And he left that lute with the queen and me to keep us from sadness and sorrow.
And the king rose and fetched the lute, and played sweetly- flowing, syllabic (?), pleasant music on it.
“Take victory and blessing,” said Cúchulainn, “never heard I music or strain of melody more sweet.”
Howbeit, they passed that night with music and pleasure until the following morning. And in the early morn, Cúchulainn rose and asked the king to send a guide with him to show him the forest where the dragon was.
“Alas!" said the king, “I had liefer be without son or daughter for ever than that such as thou and one who has done thy great deeds should fall by that dragon, as many goodly men have fallen hitherto.”
“Cease,” said Cúchulainn, “I would not forego for the goods of the world a sight of that dragon.”
Thereupon the king sent one of his pages with him, and he gave Cúchulainn the lute that the fire which came from the dragon’s jaws might not harm him. Then Cúchulainn donned the strong, hard accoutrements and the broad, grey-blue breastplate and the two wide gauntlets of blue mail (?) of refined iron, and he fared forth, with three spears and his sword. And when they came near the forest, the youth went from him. And the dragon happened to be sitting on a rough-topped rock which was on the border of the forest, and on seeing Cúchulainn and the wonderful shining weapons, she rose with a light, airy soaring and made an eager, very swift rush upon Cúchulainn, and ‘descended on him, and tore the sides (?) and the binding (?) of the fine skilfully- wrought helmet from him, so that she wounded him sorely. For Cúchulainn liked not to use weapons on her lest he might kill her. But he rose with the fierceness of a dragon and the swiftness of a swallow over her, and closed his two royal, beautiful hands around the broad, lacerating, full-sharp wings and pressed them to her sides. And he lifted the dragon between his two stropg hands, and prostrated her on the ground, and forced her back against the ground, and kissed three times her mouth and her hideous, awful face. And after that kiss, he found that he held the woman of best form and make and appearance and countenance that human eye had ever seen. The maiden rose timidly and shyly, and threw herself upon her knees, and kissed the warrior’s feet thrice, and said
“Life and health to thee, thou valiant warrior’s portion, thou unique supremacy in valour and combat of the men of the world! Long have I been in sorrow and in evil shape awaiting thee, and I pledge myself to lasting friendship for thee I or ever. And I shall be thy handmaid and servant. And take thou the headship of Africa, for there is no other heir since I do not hope ever to see my brother.”
“Nay,” said Cúchulainn, “if I am alive, I shall bring thee thy brother, and he will take his inheritance of Africa, for I shall not cease from this world-wandering until I come upon Garuidh and avenge on him all the destruction he has wrought upon the children of the kings and princes of the world.”
And after these words, they set off together towards the court, And when they came in sight of the court, the king and queen were on the ramparts, and they saw the warrior and the maid approaching together, engaged in close, sweet, friendly conversation. And on seeing them, they went to meet them, and it is not possible to describe the joy and delight with which the king and queen received Cúchulainn. And they took him with them to the court, and he was served and attended honourably there. And he tarried some time there with them. And then he proceeded to depart, and sought counsel of the King of Africa as to what region of the world he should seek Garuidh. The king answered that he knew not where Garuidh was, but that he had heard that he was in pursuit of the daughter of the King of Antioch, and that he thought that Cúchulainn would get news of him at the court of the King of Antioch, and that he counselled him to go thither.
Then Cúchulainn ordered Laoi to prepare his ship and to fit it out for a journey and expedition. Laoi did so, and when it was ready, Cúchulainn bade farewell to the king and queen and the maiden, and sad was the daughter of the King of Africa after Cúchulainn. And Cúchulainn set sail, and his adventures are not told until he came into harbour and haven at the court of the King of Antioch. And when they had landed there, Cúchulainn heard a woman lamenting sadly and bitterly by the edge of the harbour.
“Well, Laoi,” said he, “draw the ship to land, that I may go to seek tidings from the lamenting woman.
Cúchulainn went towards the woman, and he found a beautiful, shapely maiden on the bank of the river-mouth, washing the blood-stained, gory accoutrements of a wounded man, and she was weeping sadly and piteously. Cúchulainn saluted her gently and kindly, and asked her the reason of her lament and sorrow.
“Not with disrespect to thee do I say it, O youth,” said she, “but it avails me not to tell of it, for help is not for my cause of grief.”
“It will not harm thee to tell it,” said Cúchulainn, “and further it is possible that I may be able to help thee.”
“Alas!" said the maiden, “many a warrior and hero, strong and fierce, volunteered to help me, and they themselves fell as a result. Yet I shall tell thee the reason of my sadness and my great grief. These are the accoutrements of Buinne Buadhchleasach,” said she, “to wit, my own brother.”
“Who has wounded him thus?" asked Cúchulainn.
“Garuidh Garbhghhuineach,” said she, “the most frightful, the most terrible and the hugest of the human race, by whom fell most of the sons of the kings and princes of the western world. For thus it happened,” said the maiden, “that I was betrothed to a fitting husband, to wit Iollainn of the Mighty Deeds, and a certain day was fixed for our marriage, and the sons of the kings and princes of the world gathered together for that day. And when Garuidh heard the account of my beauty, he came to this place and demanded me as wife. But the sons of the kings and princes of the world fought on my behalf, and Garuidh cast them all into fetters, and sent them to the City of the Fiery Stream whence they have no hope of deliverance. And when I saw that, I fled from this court and I tarried not until I reached Ireland where I had heard there was a warrior called the famous Cúchulainn, and I was told that if any man on earth could fight Garuidh, Cúchulainn was that man. And when I landed in Ireland, Garuidh was pursuing me from land to land, so that before I caught sight of Cúchulainn, Garuidh seized me and carried me off in his ship. And then I bound him to grant me a request, namely, that he should not offer violence to me until I was again in the court of my father and until I should be married to him in the maniier that was customary with the daughters of the kings and princes of the world. Garuidh granted me that request, for he recked not of my intention. And my intention was to seek my brother, Buinne Buadhchleasach who was learning feats of valour and warfare in the western regions of Asia, and if he were unable to defend me against Garuidh by the might of his hand, that he should find some lonely spot where I might bide unknown to Garuidh.
“However, when Garuidh landed in Crioch na Dreolainne and I with him, as he was wearied from travelling on land and sea, he fell into a deep, heavy sleep. But he put me lying in the curve of his arm lest I might escape from him, for he trusted me not. And when he had fallen thus into a heavy sleep, I got a chance of parting from him, and I stayed not till I reached this court. And here I found Buinne Buadhchleasach, and I told him my adventures from beginning to end. Buinne Buadhchleasach told me not to be anxious, and that he himself would espouse my cause against the men of the world, and that he would like to encounter Garuidh to avenge on him all the destruction he had wrought hitherto. For Buinne Buadchleasach had great confidence in his own strength and in his qualities of valour and noble bravery. But not long after that, Garuidh came in pursuit of me to this court, and when he heard that I was here, he demanded that I should be sent to him or that he should get combat for me. Thereupon Buinne Buadhchleasach donned his suit ot valour and conflict, and went on the field of combat against Garuidh in the early morn yesterday. And they were smiting each other from the rising of the sun till its setting yester-eve. And the darkness of night separated them. But that was not a fair separation. f or Buinne Buadhchleasach returned covered with gore and wounds and sorely lacerated after that encounter. But not so was Garuidh, for he went to his tent without hurt or wound save a little. And to-morrow they will fight again, and my brother will undoubtedly be killed. And I shall kill myself, for I cannot endure to be alive after him, and above all, I prefer to suffer death than to go to Garuidh a second time. And that is the cause of my lament, O youth,” said she.
And after these words she shed quick fervent showers of tears, and Cúchulainn wept sadly and mournfully with her likewise, and between them they made the lay:
Tell me, O youthful maiden,
whose are the arms thou washest?
Who is the warrior of many exploits
whose wound has shed this blood?
The son of the King of Antioch,
truly, Buinne of the Victorious Feats,
with fair vigour, lying to-day a mass of gore.
Yesterday I was his sister.
With whom has Buinne of the Victorious Feats fought?
O fair maiden of the ruddy cheeks!
By whom has been pierced the swan-
like side of him who yesterday was fierce in anger?
By Garuidh Garbhghluineach of the weapons,
son of the King of Morocco, of rough aspect.
On my behalf, alas!
Buinne Buadh fought yesterday.
When Buinne Buadh of the sharp blades
came from the stout combat,
many were the wounds in his side inflicted by Gantidh,
the ignoble, who has caused much affliction.
Another combat, without cessation,
on my behalf he will engage,
in which the victorious Buinne will fall.
Alas! that I was born!
After Buinne of the rough conflicts,
O youth of the ivoryhilted blades!
for love of him I shall not survive.
Dearer to me death than affection however great.
After that lay, Cúchulainn said:
“Well, princess, wouldst thou recognise the famous Cúchulainn if thou wert to see him ?“
“I would not,” said she, “for I have never seen him, because I had no opportunity of reaching him when I went to Ireland in search of him.”
“Well,” said Cúchulainn, “I am that man whom thou wert seeking, to wit the illustrious Cúchulainn, and of me it was thou wert enquiring news of him when thou didst land in Ireland. And I have been seeking Garuidh and thee ever since. And doubt not but that I shall avenge on Garuidh all the injustice he has done thee hitherto. For already I have avenged a good part of it, for his brother and his father and his mother and all the nobles of his land have fallen by me. And I will fight Garuidh to-morrow for thee and for thy brother.”
“Alas !“ said the maiden, “I marvel that one so young as thou should have performed the deeds thou sayest, considering how many valiant, victorious heroes and swift, bold warriors have fallen by that man, Fearghus Fiodhárd.”
Thereupon Laoi came unto them, and drew the ship to land, and showed the spear and relics of Fearghus to the maiden. And it is not possible to describe how she marvelled at the youth of Cúchulainn and at the excellence of his doughty deeds. However they went together to the court, and the maiden told that this was the famous Cúchulainn. And Cñchulainn went at once to where Buinne Buadhchleasach lay, wounded, injured, weak and feeble from the stout, deadly blows of Garuidh. And Cúchulainn put some of the salve and balsam which the Tuatha Dé Danann, his friends from the fairy mounds, had left with him, on the wounds and scars of Buinne Buadhchleasach, so that he became supple and free from wounds at once and felt neither hurt nor injury, poison nor venom.
However it. is not possible to tell of the rejoicing and gladness in the court of the King of Antioch because of Cúchulainn and because of Buinne Buadhchleasach’s being cured from his wounds. Howbeit Cúchulainn told Buinne Buadhchleasach and all how he had freed the spells of Carthann Chuilihionn, daughter of the King of Africa, to wit the love and lasting-affection of Buinne Buadhchleasach. And when Buinne Buadhchleasach heard that, he embraced Cúchulainn and kissed him affectionately, and said:
“I do not believe, Cúchulainn, that thou wert born of a human being but of some one of the gods of adoration. For it was not possible that any of the race of Adam, endowed with a human body, could have done the deeds that thou hast done. And it is certain that thou shalt be high-king of the world and the whole universe.
However when that talk was ended, Cúchulainn told Laoi to prepare his chariot, that he might go to see the appearance of Garuidh and to estimate his strength. Laoi did so. And Cúchulainn went to the tent of Garuidh, and found, sitting within the tent, a terrible, huge, misshapen, fierce, chafer-coloured, dark- blue man, larger than could be described, and at the side of the tent, an iron club to carry which were a burden for fifty heroes. And when Cúchulainn came to the entrance of the tent, Garuidh looked upon him and spake:
“Where wast thou, tender youth?" said he.
“I was in the court of the King of Antioch,” said Cúchulainn.
“What means thy visit hither?" said Garuidh.
“To get an estimate and description of thee,” said Ciichulainn, “for I am the first man who will come to give thee combat tomorrow, and thou wilt fall by me, even as thy father and brother have fallen.”
“I think,” said Garuidh, “that thy nurse of instruction must have been a female horse-messenger or a wandering woman [beggar-woman?] which causes thy words to be so exceedingly foolish. And did I not grant that thou wert a tender, weak, youthful lad, I would put thee there whence thou shouldst never till doom be seen by nurse or mother, namely, in the City of the Fiery Stream.”
“If thou dost not believe,” said Cúchulainn, “that thy brother and thy father fell by me, I will give thee proof of it”—showing the venomous spear of Fearghus and other tokens which he had brought from the fortress of the King of Morocco.
“It is certain,” said Garuidh, “that that is the spear which my brother Fearghus had, and I marvel what man on earth got it out of his hand, by consent or by force.”
“Thou wilt not marvel at that to-morrow,” said Cúchulainn, “when thy body will be seen being pierced and wounded by me.”
“What land dost thou come from, youth?" asked Garuidh.
“From Crioch na bhFuineadhach which is called Ireland,” said Cúchulainn.
“Neachtain the Dread, my foster father, prophesied that from Ireland would come the warrior from whom I should get the most deadly combat I should ever sustain. But I do not apply the prophecy to thee, for thou art more like to a youthful lad engaged in a foolish game of ball than to a warrior or battle-hero wielding arms and weapons.”
“It will not be long until thou shalt know how I wield arms,” said Cúchulainn.
And after that conversation Cúchulainn returned to the city, and great, indeed, was the joy there on his arrival. Howbeit, when Cúchulainn had departed, Garuidh marvelled much how he had chanced upon the spear, and he thought often of that prophecy which Neachtain had made for him. And hideous phantoms and revelations and visions and apparitions and omens of death came frequently unto him that night, and he had no rest or sleep or repose.
As for Cúchulainn, when the day dawned with its full brightness on the morrow, he rose in the early morn, and he ordered Laoi to prepare the Scythed Chariot for him. Laoi did so swiftly and readily, and when it was ready, Cúchulainn went into it. And woe to the hero or warrior against whom he went in that wise, for he was the skilful one of feats, the passing-swift hawk, the fierce, full-furious lion, the vehement, indocile dragon, the versatile one of thunderfeats from whose active feats no hero or warrior ever escaped unhurt, and if one did escape at any time, it was not on this occasion.
However, having gone into his chariot, he went out by the city gate, and the king and nobles of the city went to the ramparts and towers of the court to watch the course of the great battle presently.
When Garuidh saw the terrible, magical, enchanted chariot, on every wheel and pole and nail of which was venom and hideousness and sharp-wounding, and the arms and the hideous, perilous feats the like of which were never before seen with anyone, and the showy, thickly-blazing showers of fire and the quick, red sparks which rose from the spears and javelins, and the crispédmaned, chafer-black steed in the front yoke of the chariot breaking her reins and harness in her eagerness to do destruction and devastation for the Dubhshaoileann and the Liath Macha used to know when Cúchulainn was going to perform a great exploit or to shed much blood—and when Garuidh saw the beautiful, youthful lad, actively and swiftly arranging and preparing, settling and placing the venomous spears and the hideous, perilous, strange, awful feats and keeping their edges and hideousness from one another, he was seized with wonder and terror, and the meaning 0f the prophecy and the vision came much into his memory.
However when Cúchulainn came within a hand’s breadth of him, there happened to be imbedded in the earth at the end of the wide plain, a large rock which had been there for ages and which no hero or warrior or man, however strong, could move or wield. And Cúchulainn said:
“Well, Laoi, drive the chariot around the pillar-stone that I may see if I can put it in my sling, and that I may try my stone- casting upon Garuidh.”
Laoi drove the chariot around the stone, and Cúchulainn put his supple, white hand round the slender part of the stone and gave it a strong, violent wrench, so that he dragged it from the bowels of the heavy-sodded earth. And he put it in his sling then, and gave a choice cast of it at Garuidh, without crookedness or swerving, right in the middle of the chest, so that he broke and smashed completely the large-hooked engraved breastplate and the strong armour of red bronze within the breastplate, and caused the very roots of his heart to quiver and shake, so that Garuidh cast three heavy waves of dark-blue blood out of his mouth and throat. And Garuidh marvelled much at the strength of that cast. And he took the stone in his hand, and made a very strong, terrible cast of it at Cúchulainn, for he intended to overthrow both the warrior and the chariot with that powerful shot. However Cúchulainn did not avoid, or swerve aside from, the blow, but he rose up in the air to meet the cast, and he caught the stone in his sling, and aimed it a second time at Garuidh, and struck him in his left shoulder and dislocated the shoulder- blade and mangled the whole of the upper part of his body with that thunderous blow. At that hostile welcoming Garuidli was enraged with anger and fury, and he seized the club of iron which stood by the door of the tent, and made a violent, eager thrust at Cúchulainn, intending to grind the hero and the chariot, man and steed and trappings, to atoms and powder, with that mighty blow. And he swung the club strongly from the shoulder-blade, aloft in the air towards Cúchulainn. And when the skilful, nimble attendant, to wit Laoi, perceived that, he plied the goad on the steeds, so that they rose with a light, bird-like soaring and avoided the blow. And the blow came upon the ground, and the club made in the ground a deep furrow in which a battalion, i.e. one thousand five hundred men, armed and equipped, might hide. And before he was able to lift the club again, Cúchulainn cast at him the spear called Cooling of Anger, and hit him in the apple of the throat above the breastplate, so that he cut the breastplate and the edge of the armour, and the spear went into the apple of his throat as far as his gullet, and the stream of very black blood which flowed from his breast was like a cataract flood. He aimed at him, a second time, the spear called Shriek with Venom, and hit him in the armpit between the edge of the back-armour and the chest-armour, so that the spear went a hero’s hand’s breadth into his chest, and he felt his lungs and midriff sorely wounded by that cast. And on feeling this, he was filled with madness and fury and rage and anger and fierceness; and he cast from him the club, and made an eager, wild rush at Cúchulainn with the desire to take both chariot and hero between his two hands and grind both man and steed into small particles. However, when he approached the chariot, it made a swift circuit round him, and one of the spokes of the magic wheel came in contact with him, and cut off his foot from the knee down. And he fell to the ground like a rampart or a big castle struck down by a fiery thunderbolt. And when he had fallen thus, Cúchulainn aimed one of his venomous feats at him, to wit the hideous, dangerous, sharp-winged, powerful, deadly, violent feat called the Little Dart Feat, and hit him in the lower part of his body, and broke the breastplate and the armour, and pierced his entrails. And he continued to ply his venomous feats on him, piercing, wounding, hacking, lacerating and mutilating him, so that the spears and feats of Cúchulainn going into him and out of him, towards him and from him, were like unto a swarm of little bees about a hollow tree protecting their nest and their young offspring, and his body, pierced and perforated by the continuous casting of Cúchulainn, was like unto a honey-comb. And thus was Garuidh, he was casting at Cúchulainn heavy, large lumps and blood-red, gory clots of his own flesh and blood, and cursing and reviling the gods of adoration who had decreed as fate for him to fall by so youthful a warrior as Cúchulainn. Howbeit, having hacked Garuidh’s body thus, and having loosened the armour and equipment round him, Cúchulainn leaped from the chariot, and rose with the violence of the dragon in the air over his head, and struck him with his sword on the flat of his shoulder, and split him, body and bone, armour and equipment, to the navel, and scattered him broadcast.
Then it was that there assembled, around Cúchulainn and Garuidh, that band which was wont to accompany Cúchulainn, to wit war-goddesses and sprites and ravenous, red-clawed carrions, for they were wont to get their sustenance from the hands of Cúchulainn. And they alighted on Garuidh, a crowd of them as large as a flat-topped hill or a great mountain, and they fell to tearing his body and bones asunder in shreds so that he was sustenance for them for a long time.
When Cúchulainn had vaunted this great exploit, the King of Antioch and his son, Buinne Buadhchleasach, and his daughter, Gruaidh Ghriansholus, and the nobles and gentry of the land of Antioch, came forth from the city to meet him with music and canticles, and they brought him to the court. And indescribable was the honour and pomp they made for him, and they accepted him as lord and master till the end of the world. However, they spent that night in drinking and pleasure until the following morning. And at sunrise on the morrow, Ciichulainn arose, and ordered Laoi to prepare his chariot, and asked Buinne Buadhchleasach to guide him to the City of the Fiery Stream.
“Alas!” said the King of Antioch, “all hitherto is but a sport and [subject for] laughter [compared to that]. For thus is that place. It is a city in an island, and the sea which surrounds it is one fiery blaze, and ship or vessel cannot sail it save the ship in which is Garuidh or Neachtain the Dread, for all other ships would be burnt to dust and ashes. And moreover the men of the world are not fit to encounter that giant who guards it, for whenever wounded by weapons, as soon as he would fall to the ground, his strength and vigour would return again, and he would feel neither hurt nor wound on him. And what thou wilt do,” said the king, “is to return to Ireland and take with thee the tribute of every land, for if it were a deed which could be accomplished to go to the City of the Fiery Stream, thou wouldst accomplish it, and since it cannot be accomplished, do thou abandon the project of going there.~~
“Cease, O king,” said Cúchulainn, “for I would not forego going there for the wealth of the earth. For the ship which I have, to wit the Speckled Barque, can sail alike on a fiery sea or a frozen sea, and no magic or wizardey can affect anyone in it.”
And then Cúchulainn set about his departure,. and boarded his ship. And Buinne Buadhchleasach went with him. And they went on the sea, and their adventures are not told until they reached the fiery sea. And when the Speckled Barque came on the fiery sea, the fires and blazings and conflagrations ceased, and its storm and unrest subsided. And they took to rowing upon it as upon any other sea, until they came near the island. And at that precise time, the frightful hideous giant, Neachtain the Dread, son of Earth, happened to be strolling on the edge of the harbour, and [at every step] there was the length of an acre of land between his two feet. And when he saw the ship, he thought that it was Garuidh who was there. But when he saw the beautiful, wonderful weapons and the handsome youth of the best appearance and make and form and countenance of the human race among those arms, preparing them and setting them in order, and when he saw that the flames and fires had gone from the sea, he was seized with hatred and great terror, and approached the ship towards the edge of the harbour. And he raised the iron club which was on his shoulder with intent to overthrow the boat and its occupants with that one blow.
When Cúchulainn saw that, he took the feat called the Edge Feat, and aimed it at the giant, and struck him between the two feet which were higher than the main-mast of a ship, and pierced and penetrated his entrails, so that he fell prostrate to the ground. And before he could rise, Cúchulainn put seven of his venomous spears in him. (And these are their names: An Chiirsach Dhearg, Seoladh Rinne, Fuarugh Feirge, Sgread go Nimh, Gorm na bhFaobhar, Gorm na gCréacht and Fásgadh Fola). And he himself leaped a wide, full-huge leap to land from the prow of the ship, in the hope of parting Neachtain’s head from his loathly body. But nearer than that to the giant was the help of his mother, the heavy-sodded earth; for he rose supple and cured of his wounds, without hurt or scar or injury.
And when Cúchulainn saw that, he was much enraged and angered and was seized with frenzy and madness. And he rose up in the air over the giant’s head, smiting him with the ivoryhilted blade, and he cut large lumps of flesh and blood, the size of a big standing-stone, from the shoulders and shoulder-blades and head of the giant, until he threw him to the ground a second time. Yet it was vain for Cúchulainn to overthrow him, for no sooner did he touch the ground than he rose again, regardless of Cúchulainn’s mighty blows. However, when on the sea, Cúchulainn had said to Laoi:
“Laoi, if thou seest that I do not succeed in slaughtering the giant with my venomous feats, thou and Buinne Buadhchleasach shall go before me to the mouth of the river which flows through the city and make a dam there, and prepare the Ga Bulga for me, that I may try the stoutness of my arms upon Neachtain. For nought avails us what we have done hitherto if we cannot deliver the children of the kings and princes of the world on this occasion.
On seeing now that all the slaughter and hacking which Cúchulainn inflicted on the giant was of no avail, Laoi and Buinne Buadlichleasach drew the slip to Land at once, and went to the river-mouth, and made a causeway and dam there, and they prepared the Ga Bulga. And whilst they were doing that Cúchulainn feigned to flee from the giant and parried his mighty blows, until he brought him thus to the river mouth. And when the Ga Bulga was prepared, Laoi told Cúchulainn to receive it, and said:
“O Warrior of Magh Line!
O Hawk of Beann Burba!
O Hound of Gleann Cumra!
Look out for the Ga Bulga!
“Look out for the Ga Bulga, O victorious Cúchulainn of the feats! and ward off the frightful, hideous giant,” said he.
Thereupon Cúchulainn leaped into the pool, and stood preparing the feat, and the giant came after him to the river-mouth, for he believed without any doubt that Cúchulainn was fleeing from him. Ilowbeit, Cúchulainn cast the fair, powerful, deadly Ga Bulga from between the toes of his right foot into the middle of the giant’s body, and pierced and penetrated his heart and breast, and filled the giant from head to foot with a poison for the cure of which balm or healing herb could never be found. And thereupon he fell down uttering hideous horrid shrieks and fell to cursing and reviling the gods of adoration, for he was certain that he had not fallen by a human being but by some one of the gods. And he began to call loudly upon his mother, the heavy- sodded firm earth, for help and assistance in his great need. But those words were vain, for his body was full of the poison of the Ga Bulga. Then Cúchulainn came out of the pool and took the heavy-smiting, weighty sword called Gearr na gColann, and struck the giant a hostile blow on the neck, and parted the heavy, devilish, hideous-hued head from the monstrous body. And he took up the head and put it up on a rough-headed rock far from the body.
And after that be went to the gate of the city, and burst the door, and entering in, killed all of the giant’s household that he met there. And then he searched the court till he found a narrow, stout-jambed doorway and a door of very thick iron in it. And he struck a mighty blow with the shaft of his spear on the door, and tore it from its hooks and hinges. And he found a narrow dark entrance going down, and turning back, he lit a brilliant shining taper. And he went down then into the very deep, dreadful cavern in the earth where the children of the kings and princes of the world were bound and fettered, in misery and slavery, hunger-stricken and sorely oppressed, (for they got no food or drink save a little herb-roots every evening or so). And when they saw the warrior coming to them with a naked sword in his hand, they thought that Neachtain or messengers from him were coming to behead them, and fain would they have it so rather than be longer in their present misery. However, Cúchulainn burst the bonds and fetters which were upon them all, and told them to follow him out and that they need no longer fear Neachtain or Garuidh.
They rose feebly, weakly, and followed him out on to the bright-sodded green; and when they saw Neachtain dead, they were seized with very great wonder. And then Buinne Buadhchleasach told them Cúchulainn’s adventures and exploits from beginning to end. And on hearing them, they cast themselves on their knees and bowed before Cúchulainn, and said that if Cúchulainn or the father from whom he sprung had not been of the gods of adoration, he had not performed those deeds.
But Cúchulainn told Laoi to cut open the giant and remove the Ga Bulga. Then Laoi and Buinne Buadhchleasach took to hacking Neachtain, and three days and three nights were they hacking and hewing him before they extricated the Ga Bulga.
And then they went to the city, and set it on fire, and brought away with them out of it choice jewels and riches. And afterwards they left the island, and stayed not till they reached the court of the King of Antioch. And it is not needful to tell here how joyfully they were received there, especially by Gruaidh Ghriansholus when she saw her spouse and first-love, Iollainn of the Mighty Deeds. And they remained some time along with the King of Antioch, until Gruaidh Ghriansholus and Jollainn Ang-ghlonnach were married.
And then Cúchulainn set about his departure, and his ship was prepared for him, and the King of Antioch gave him tribute to add to the Heroes’ Stone-heap, and he bound himself and his heirs after him to pay that tribute to Cúchulainn. And then Cúchulainn went upon the sea, and with him all that were there of the sons of kings and princes of the world. And their adventures are not related until they reached the court of the King of Africa. And when the King of Africa saw his son, the Wizard of the Golden Lute, he fell into trances and swoons with excessive joy and delight. And when he recovered from that weakness, he embraced Cúchulainn and kissed him fondly and fervently because he had restored his daughter and his son, Carthann Chi’tilfhionn who had been in a dragon’s form, and the Wizard of the Golden Lute who had been in the City of the Fiery Stream with all the rest. And then Buinne Buadhchleasach and Carthann Chüilfhionn were married, and the King of Africa gave tribute and obeisance to Cúchulainn. And when they had been some time together, Cúchulainn set about his departure, and bade farewell to the king and queen. And he went to sea with the princes of the world (for the folk he had rescued from the City of the Fiery Stream parted not from him until he came to Ireland).
And when they had gone to sea, they stayed not till they reached the city of Salerna, the stead of the King of Sicily. And great was the joy with which Cúchulainn and the princes of the world were received, and especially joyful Cúchulainn’s reception by Clephanta, daughter of the King of Sicily, for bringing to her the son of the King of Africa, her love and lasting affection above all the men of the world. And the Wizard of the Golden Lute and Clephanta were married, and the King of Sicily gave tribute and perpetual homage to Cúchulainn.
And then he journeyed from Sicily, and stayed not till he reached the court of the King of Almayne, and he remained some time there, held in affection and in great honour. And then he set out for Ireland. And the princes of the world insisted on accompanying him to Ireland, to prove and confirm the great exploits and valiant deeds of Cúchulainn in the distant lands of the world, and to confess and acknowledge their submission to him and their respect for him and their tributariness to him until the end of the world.
And when they had resolved upon this, they went upon the sea, and their adventures are not told until they came into harbour and haven at famous (?) Dundalk. And when they landed there news went to Dundalk and to Emania, and the nobles and princes of the men of Ulster assembled, led by Conchubhar and Conall Cearnach and Fearghus, and all came to meet Cúchulainn. And when they met, their joy in receiving Cúchulainn and the rest of the nobles cannot be told or described. And they went thence to Dundalk, and the foreign nobles related the adventures of Cúchulainn in the presence of the men of Ulster. And Cúchulainn showed the spear of Fearghus Fiodhfhoda and the club of Garuidh Garbhghlüineach and every other trophy that he had brought back by virtue of battle and stout combat. And Finghin Fáidhliagh and the friends from Faery came to welcome Cúchulainn.
Howbeit, they spent that night in drinking and in rejoicing until morning. And on the morrow they fared forth with one accord, a huge assembled host, and reached Emania, the fair and beautiful. And great, indeed, was the joy and mirth and pleasure in Emania that day, for there was not in the world a household of king or prince which could boast of more warriors and heroes and battle-veterans and valiant champions, and comely, fair, gentle women, than Emania on that day.
However, when the men of Ulster, both high and low, were thus assembled together, every one of the princes of the western world who had come with Cúchulainn placed with his own hands three stones from his own land on the Stone-heap which is before Emania, to-day called Clochdn na gCuradh between Emania and Ard-soileach, now called Armagh. And they built up the mound completely at that time. And the princes of the world remained a long time with Cúchulainn and the heroes. And they pledged themselves to pay yearly tribute to Cúchulainn.
And then they set forth, each to his own country, and Cúchulainn and Conall and Conchubhar and Fearghus gave them many jewels and mementoes when they were going. And that tribute and all else that they had promised was levied and paid yearly as long as there lived the supporting and aiding pillars of the western world, the defending and protecting turrets of the men of Ireland, the bestowers of jewels and riches and wealth of the whole world, to wit the true excellence and the true flower of all the men of the earth, namely, Cúchulainn first, and then the tutor in valour and in arms of the whole universe, Conall Cearnach mac Aimhirghin, and Fearghus mac Rosa mlieic Rughraidlie and the sons of Conchubhar mac Neasa, namely, Cormac Conloingeas, Laoghaire Buadhach, Dubhach Daol-Uladh, Furbhuidh Fear mBeann and Cumhsgraidh Meann Macha, and Laoiseach Ceann-mhór the son of Conall Cearnach. And when that band fell, the joy and mirth of the men of Ulster ceased. And the levying of that tribute and of every other profit which was coming to Ireland during their time, ceased also.
And that is the Pursuit of Gruaidh Ghriansholus, daughter of the King of Antioch, and a portion of the valiant deeds of Cúchulainn so far.