Hey! Toli here, teller of the tallest tales. And, my sparks, have I the height of tales for you. Though a little bit long, it is true. See, it was told to me by Cumhal, an Hibernian knight in my lord Rainald’s company – and you know what they say of Hibernians: ever kissing the telling stones, words ever rolling! So . . .
So this, Feud’s End, begins in a time-hidden age, in a mist-wreathed land where dwell warrior-magicians and magician-lords. And in that land there lives two in particular: Lord Cainte and Lord Tuirenn, and they, for reasons lost to the pass of seasons, are head-on feuding. Now, by the time of our story, these two magician-lords both have three sons apiece – and probably daughters, all blushing and ripe, but, alas, alack, the tale doesn’t tell that.
At story’s start Cian, Lord Cainte’s eldest son, is on his way to join the warriors then amassing to give battle against the north-dwelling Fomori. The Fomori, see, are the land’s eldest enemy. But to reach the assembly Cian must cross a gapping plain. Well, he drives his horses, riding his chariot, proudly progressing although he’s alone – his brothers, see, Cú and Céthen, have gone off without him. Likely, too, he’s whistling a cheery tune – though his ears will be keened to trouble. He’s the best of warriors, see, he isn’t a fool. But it’s his eyes first warn him.
Coming towards him, three walloping warriors, strutting out from the land of Lord Tuirenn. Oops and begora! These will be Lord Tuirenn’s sons, Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba. And there’s our Cian all alone in the midst of that mickle-moor, and not a place showing where he can shelter – cos, I’d best explain, lest things have changed by the time you hear this, discretion truly is the best part of valour, and the wise warrior knows when to hide. But, alas, alack, there’s no place for him. All that’s in sight is a herd of swine muckily rooting. But, being a magician-lord-warrior, he outs his wand and touches his horses, his chariot too, and himself and whoosh and zoom and other amazing fast noises, there are his horses and there is he and all are pig-shaped amidst the swine.
Clever, you think, eh. Cos now Cian is safe from the sons of Tuirenn who have vowed not to rest till they’ve shed his blood and he is dead – ay, Cian and his brothers, all.
But Brian is equally keen-sighted and he turns to his brothers, Iuchar and Iucharba, and says, “Wasn’t there a proud warrior with a chariot now riding this plain?”
His brothers nod, ay, that there was, but try as they may they can’t now see him.
Haps not and maybe, but Brian can see the swine now rooting where the warrior was seen. And worse. By his magical shape-shifting our Cian has advertised his true identity. For what other magician-warrior would be heading out from the land of Lord Cainte? Oh, oops and begora! Make you want to squeeze.
But, now Brian and brothers have a slight problem. See, they can’t let Cian be, cos there’s the ancient feud and they’ve sworn their vows. But, also, they know the lord-magician who owns these swine, and they durst do nothing to upset him. That’s more than their lives worth. So what do they do, these sons of Tuirenn, these brothers three? They copy Cian.
Being a warrior-magician, the same as Cian, Brian outs his wand and touches his brothers and lo! Two hunting hounds there be.
Now what of Cian, for surely he’s doomed? The hounds are bound to sniff him. So he makes a break from the herd – though the lord-gods alone know what his plan.
But there stands Brian, spear raised and ready. Cian screams in agony as the spear pierces through him. And he pleads for mercy. “I am Cian, son of Cainte,” he said – though it’s beyond me how he thinks that might help, not when there’s a feud between them.
“No quarter,” says Brian, his brothers behind him, again in man-shape. “You know our oath; you’ve sworn it too. None shall survive should the sons of Tuirenn meet the sons of Cainte.”
Cian knows it. “Then I beg off you one last request. Before you kill me, allow me to regain my human-form.”
Seeing no trick in it, Brian nods and grants him this.
Then, ho! How Cian grins as he resumes his man-form. “So now you can kill me, sons of Tuirenn – and take the punishment to be meted. Oh, and to think, had you not shown mercy, you’d have paid only the blood-fine for a pig! And while you’re grudging on this, remember, my own son’s the greatest magician-warrior that ever has lived, and he’ll seek you out and punish you sure, beyond enduring. And more. The very weapons you use to kill me shall cry out in horror at your deed. You still want to kill me?”
Brian and his brothers look one to the other. “It is not a good deed,” says Iucharba, “to bring the wrath of Lugh upon us.”
“It’s true what Cian says of his son,” Iuchar says. “The greatest magician that ever . . .” he pauses his words lest the owner lord-magician of this swine herd should hear them.
“Agreed, agreed. But against all that is our oath and our honour,” Brian reminds them. And all three agree.
So. They throw down their weapons lest their weapons betray them. And scooping the stones from the ground, they hurl them in rapid succession at the spear-stuckered Cian. And Cian dies, smashed and pulverised beyond recognition.
“We can’t leave him here,” Brian says. “despite he’s a mess. Someone might see him. Best dig a grave.”
But the soil refuses to be cut. And even when magically touched, it then refuses to cover the body. Seven tries it takes to achieve it, so strong is Cian’s curse of the means of his killing. And even as the brothers strut away they hear his voice issue from within his grave: “My blood’s on your hands, sons of Tuirenn, and ever will remain till we meet again.”
Time passes. The Fomori are defeated at the Battle of Tor-Moor – alright, alright, I hold my hands up. Cumhal didn’t say Tor-Moor. He said something that twisted my tongue and caused me to cough. So, Tor-Moor will do. And the sons of Tuirenn fight well at this battle, exciting exploits and sparkling skills. But that doesn’t hide that Cian, son of Cainte, isn’t there. And neither does the killing of the Fomori leader by Cian’s son Lugh distract the attention of that greatest and highest of warrior-magicians.
Lugh searches in vain the field of battle. He widens his eye and searches afar. And his eyes light upon that gaping moor where the mashed corpse his father lies hidden. There he travels. And there he hears the tales the stones tell. “Here lies the body of Cian son of Cainte, slain by the sons of Tuirenn. Here Cian cursed them. Blood on their hands till they meet again.”
The stones lead him direct to his father’s grave. Lugh calls his companions. They dig up the bones. They see how dishonourably the father was slaughtered. Lugh sings a lament, an oath sworn before all his men. “My hatred will come against the sons of Tuirenn. My hatred will follow them to the end of all lands.”
Lugh buries his father with correct rites and ceremony, and returns to Tara where he summons the lord-magicians of this magical land. Grim his intent, and grim his content when he sees the sons of Tuirenn amongst them.
Now he asks of every lord gathered, “Tell me, I seek counsel. Imagine, your father has been maliciously slaughtered. How would you seek vengeance upon his killer?”
More means of vengeance these lords offer, more than Lugh himself has considered, and each means of punishment is the more bloody, the more terrible and cruel. And each counsel is accompanied by the applause of them all. Even the sons of Tuirenn cheer their approval.
Lugh withdraws his sunny countenance and turns upon them a stormy scowl. “My father’s murderers have condemned themselves. For here they applaud along with you lords, agreeing to the form of their punishment.”
At that the sons of Tuirenn pale. (Some say they pissed themselves and shat, but I wouldn’t know of that.)
“But mercy rises within me this day,” Lugh says, his eye set hard upon the brothers. “For I prefer not to spill blood within Tara’s blessed walls. Instead, I claim the right to set the blood-fine upon these murderers. They can accept it. Or they can refuse. But if refusal is their say, then each must meet me this same day, in single combat at Tara’s door. And none will live beyond the fight.”
Brave Brian steps forward, revealing his guilt to the assembled lords. “You address us, the sons of Tuirenn, because of our long-lasting feud with Cian and his brothers? Yet no weapons of ours killed your father. But we’ll not be named dishonourable, so each of we brothers will accept your blood-claim.”
Lugh grimly smiles while the lord-magicians whisper wisely, approving the manner of the brothers’ acceptance.
“What I ask of you is easily done,” Lugh tells the three sons of Tuirenn. “I wish for three apples, the skin of a pig, a spear, two horses and a chariot, seven swine, a hound-pup, a cooking spit and three shouts to be delivered upon a hill.”
The entire assembly stands amazed. Is this all Lugh desires in compensation of his father’s slaughter? The sons of Tuirenn readily agree it.
“If you deem the blood-fine too onerous, I will not press it,” Lugh says.
To which Brian promptly says, “Na, it seems uncannily light. We’re thinking there’s some hidden trickery. That once we begin, you’ll up the sums.”
“By my mother’s Divine Waters, I swear the blood-fine will not be increased,” Lugh says. “Now do you swear to faithfully complete the given quests?”
Well, ay, they do, they accept it eagerly, each keen to escape with such a light punishment.
So now Lugh qualifies all that he’s said. “The three apples must come from the Garden of Hesperides. Gold in colour, as big as a head of a month-old child, they are immense in virtue and power. Tasting of honey, one bite will cure a man sick or wounded. And no matter how much is eaten from them, they never grow less. More, with such an apple a warrior can overcome any foe, for, once cast from his hand, it will return to him.”
Oops and begora, the sons of Tuirenn no longer are grinning but fixed to the point as if by a thunderstrike. And Lugh goes on:
“The skin of the pig is that owned by Tuis, king of Greece. It is steeped through with magical properties. Water, wherever the pig should walk, turns to wine. And the wine, when drunk, heals the wounded and sick.”
The sons of Tuirenn look one to the other. They’ve been fool-taken, and witnessed by all.
“The spear is that called ‘The Slaughterer’, its angry blade so lusting for life it must be fed from a blood-filled cauldron lest, of its own will, it indiscriminately kills. It currently belongs to Pisear of Persia.”
From the Gardens of Hesperides, on to Greece, and now to Persia. How grim the faces of the sons of Tuirenn. How eagerly they’ve entered the trap.
“The steeds and the chariot belong to Dovar of Sheegar. These wondrous horses are famed for their magical quality. If killed they will yet live when their bones are brought together.”
“Dovar of Sheegar,” Iuchar sniffs, “that’s not such a journey.”
“Ay, but the fellow is mean,” Brian tells him.
And Lugh is not yet done. He tells them the seven swine are magical, too. Killed each day for the feast, yet alive the next morning. They belong to Easal, king of the Golden Pillars.
“Where’s that?” whispers Iucharba. But Lugh is still talking and no one will answer.
The pup Failinis is the special bitch-hound of the king of Iorúad. The beasts of the wild are made helpless before her. The cooking spit they’ll find on the island of Fanchuva, guarded by a ring of women warriors. And the hill upon which they must give the three shouts is that of the Mead of Sorrow in Lochlann.
“Well that, at least, ought to be easy,” Iuchar says. “For Lochlann’s no more than a five day journey, east over the waves.”
But Lugh isn’t finished saying of it. “That hill is guarded, night and day, by Lord Medchaoin and his three sons, that no one will raise their voice upon it.”
“I’ve heard tell of this Lord Medchaoin,” says Tuirenn when he hears of the blood-fine set by Lugh for his father. “His sons, Aedh, Corca and Conn, are rumoured the fiercest of fighters. But listen, my sons, to my wise counsel ere you set out on this quest. You need to acquire the lord-magician Manannan’s magical ship, Wave-sweeper. A magnificent craft this, it’ll take you wherever you need.”
“Ay,” scoffs Brian. “And it rests in the hands of Lord Lugh.”
“But Lord Lugh is under a prohibition. He’s forbidden to refuse a second request. To do so will be his death. So, first you ask of him the loan of Manannan’s magical horse, Aonvarr.”
“Oh, that would be handy,” Iucharba says, not having followed his father’s reasoning. “That beast will carry us over both water and land!”
“But Lord Lugh will refuse you the loan,” Tuirenn says. “So then you ask him for the ship, Wave-sweeper.”
“And he can’t refuse it,” Brian says, for the first time laughing.
But his laugh leaves him dry when, leaping through the white waves, the magical boat brings him and his brothers to the Garden of Hesperides. The golden apples are thoroughly guarded; they’ll never be able to sneak in, snatch the three, and sneak out again without calamitous discovery.
But ho and lo! Brian has his magical wand. He touches his brothers. They become hawks. He touches himself, and there he is feathered. The birds rise on high and quarter the orchard, seeking out the golden apples. Sighted, the hawks, swifter than arrows, swoop down upon them, each grabbing a stalk, and then out, heading back to the harbour where they’ve left the boat.
But, oops and begora, unbeknown to the three sons of Tuirenn, the king of Hesperides has called to his daughters. Three sorceresses, these, who shape-shift to griffins and race in pursuit, breathing great gasps of cruel fire.
Alas, alack. The thieving hawks burn in the fierce heat of the flames. But, again ho and lo! Brian still has his magical wand and at its touch, the three blackened hawks shape-shift to three white-winged swans and glide their way back to Wave-sweeper – which then takes them to Greece and the palace of King Tuis.
Now, before setting out Lord Tuirenn has told them the best way to gain entrance here. “In every lord’s hall throughout the Greece-land, the poets from Inisfáil are respected and always accepted. Pose as such and you’ll be welcomed in.”
And so they are. King Tuis himself invites them. “How fortuitous your arrival here, you poets of Inisfáil. For we are about to hold a feast.” And at the end of the feast the king’s poets must offer recitations.
But woeful brothers, for Tuirenn hasn’t provided the metered words. “Quick,” Brian urges. “Compose me a poem.” And this, with some panic and much discussion, they do.
The last of the king’s poets backs away to his seat. Now is Brian’s turn. He stands, knees gently knocking, and intones:
“O far-famed Tuis, of poets’ praising,
“Praised the greatest, mighty oak-tree king,
“No kingly reward, this poet asking,
“Asking no meanness, but a mere pigskin,
“Pigskin thus averts, two brave armies clashing.”
“Hm,” muses Tuis and rubs his chin. “As per reputation, the Inisfáil poet delivers a riddle, though neatly wrapped within his poem. Tell me, what does it mean?”
“It means, O Mighty Tuis, that as the oak is greatest amongst the trees, so you are greatest of the kings. It means, O Mighty Tuis, that as reward I claim the magical pigskin. It means, O Mighty Tuis, that if you refuse it there will be war between we two.”
King Tuis smiles sadly at the sons of Tuirenn and slowly shakes his head. “What fools to ask, for I cannot reward you with that pigskin. But your poem was good, and so I will give you some gold – three times in gold what my magical pigskin will hold.”
“Generous,” Brian agrees. “But allow us to watch while you measure it in.”
And so the sons of Tuirenn are taken to the king’s treasury and the skin is brought from its hidey-hole. And just as the skin is being filled with the gold so Brian whips out his sword and, grabbing the skin, lops off the arm of the man who’s holding it.
No care for the gleaming treasure within, Brian spills it and wraps the magical pigskin around his shoulders and he and his brothers are fast out of that palace. Though the startled king’s court gives chase to the robbers it’s without avail. And again aboard the magical Wave-sweeper, the sons of Tuirenn set course for Persia where, after their success as poets, they decide to use the same ruse.
Again the poets are asked for a poem. This time Brian is ready. He stands. He bows. He duly intones.
“Great the tales we hear, O Grand Pisear,
“Oyez, Pisear, his foes ever fear,
“Fears his Slaughterer, his life-thirsting spear,
“Spear’s deadly yew-tree, the finest shafts bear,
“Yet Pisear woe, if his spear’s not near.”
“What means this poem,” Pisear demands.
“Its tale is clear,” Brian gladly declares. “For payment I want your magical spear.”
“What audacity! You deserve to die!”
But before Pisear can call for his guards, Brian hurls a golden apple. Zap! It clips the king’s head. Donk! His head falls off. Rumble and tumble, the king’s head rolls o’er the floor. The brothers don’t wait to see any more; they’re off to the room where the blood-dripping cauldron feeds the spear. Spear and cauldron they carry back to Wave-sweeper and away to Dovar’s mean kingdom of Sheegar.
Though the guise of poets has served them well, now eqipped with a range of formidable magical weapons they present themselves at the court of Dovar as champions of Inisfáil.
When Dovar asks what their quest, Brian – who always speaks for them – answers, “We seek only to serve you. For suitable payment.”
Nine days and another nine days, nine months and another nine months, Brian and his brothers dispatch every one of Dovar’s menacing foes. Now there’s not a threat coming from within many a mile. But where are the magical steeds and the chariot? Brian must trick this mean king to produce them, so thoroughly has he hidden them. Then, as you’ve guessed it, Brian demands the full racing set, complete with their colours, as payment.
“You can’t deny,” he says to King Dovar, “myself and my brothers have done you valuable service. Just count the tally of heads now hung by your door.”
Dovar is furious, and so tight with his words he scarcely can speak. Instead he signs for his guards to kill the blackguards.
But Brian is quick. He leaps onto the chariot and snatches the reins, the charioteer summarily tossed aside. Then his looses the magical spear of Pisear at the menacing guards. Dumn, dumn, dumn, all the guards downed, and those that aren’t have fled in fear. Iuchar and Iucharba leap up behind Brian and away they race to the harbour to gain, again, the magical ship, Wave-sweeper.
Cumhal never said how they hitched the horses and chariot into that boat. Though, I suppose, with Brian being a magician-warrior, he magicks them in. Then, at his commanding word, the magical ship sweeps o’er the waves, taking the sons of Tuirenn all the way to the Golden Pillars that frame, as it were, the entrance to the Middle Sea – that is the Mediterranean to you and me. Here they’re to fetch the magical swine of King Easal.
But, alas and alack, by now the sons of Tuirenn have achieved that one desire that every warrior dies for: far-reaching renown that travels before them. See, in anticipation of trouble, lining the land, reaching wide in every direction, stands a great army. Great? It. Is. Immense. Oh, oops and begora! This task doesn’t look easy.
But, despite the armed host, Easal is a peace-loving king. Indeed, King Easal enjoys nothing so much as taking it easy.
So he approaches the sons of Tuirenn and, coming straight to the point, he asks. “Are you here to steal away my magical swine. My soothsayer says it is so.”
“Um,” says Brian, taken aback. But he has to admit that it is.
“Then you shall have them,” says King Easal. “I’ll have no bloodshed of innocents here.” And he insists they feast together that night.
Though the sons of Tuirenn whisper of what plot might be hatching, yet the king is true to his word. Moreover, when he learns where next the brothers will call he asks to accompany them. “My daughter is wife to the king of Iorúad. I’ll not have her killed in a skirmish, just for a magical hound. I’ll counsel the king to give you the pup.”
But the king of Iorúad isn’t easily persuaded. “Ay, and I’ll challenge any warrior to try to take that pup from me.”
The sons of Tuirenn try. The sons of Tuirenn cause much mayhem. Great slaughter and spillage of blood. Ho! The flash of the blades, the grunts, the groans. Oh, those are the very best of days. Brian battles his way through to the king, and though he can easily slay him, he ups the royal man into his arms and deposits him beneath King Easel’s feet. “Your son-in-law, sire.” And seeing their king so defeated, the warriors of Iorúad down their arms.
“You were right, father of my bride,” says the defeated king to Easal of Good Counsel. “The sons of Tuirenn shall have my hound-pup.”
Elated, ecstatic, full overcome by the previous successes, our quest-led brothers now fully forget they’ve two other tasks. They bid Wave-sweeper carry them o’er the waves to home – or as far as the Circular City, perched at the eastern edge of this magical mist-ringed land where Lugh sits with a troubled mind.
The brothers ought to have died at some point in their quest. They weren’t supposed to return alive. And worse, they now are armed with magical weapons, weapons that they can turn against him. This now is a crucial moment. Will Lord Lugh survive it alive?
He dons magical armour, loaned him by the lord-magician Manannan. He dons a magical cloak of invisibility, loaned him by Fea, the mightiest of all lady-magicians of war. He then sends Bodb the Red, son of the High Lord-Magician, to receive and to count the magical weapons brought him by the sons of Tuirenn.
Bodb returns, nodding his satisfaction. “They are now disarmed, they’re harmless.”
“Is everything fetched?” Lugh asks him, for he has a purpose for these weapons.
“Two yet remain,” Bodb the Red says, and explains.
“Hmm,” Lugh says, and is secretly satisfied as he goes to greet them. “And where is the cooking spit of Fanchuva? And I’ve not heard the three shouts upon the Hill of the Mead of Sorrow.”
Oops and begora! Too late they remember. For now they’ve returned the borrowed boat, Wave-sweeper, they must supply their own boat, and be their own crew.
They set out the next day in search of Fanchuva. But, alas, alas, nine times alas, of all the lands and islands visited, three moons along and still Fanchuva isn’t found. Worse. None whom they’ve asked has yet even heard of it! Then, when at their wits’ end, a blind and toothless, crag-faced man says, “Ay, I’s ‘eard of it.” And he laughs. “But, na, you won’t find it a-skimming the surface. Your wanted isle lies full-deep under water.”
With no ado, Brian, alone, dives over the boat’s board, and down he goes beneath the waves. At the seabed he starts off at a walk, magically breathing (though I don’t know the how. Maybe he magically sprouted gills, like a fish). On and on he walks for nine, and a further nine days, all the while looking. He’s surprised to see there houses galore. He sees mighty mansions and ancient castles. He sees many heavy-stoned tombs. He pokes his head into each and all, but none are inhabited.
At last he comes to what must be a palace, so wide and ornate is its facade, so richly adorned within. And it’s fari-brimming with women. One hundred and fifty lovely court ladies sit there in a circle, all at their embroidery. And at their centre, above their hearth, rests the quested cooking spit of Fanchuva.
He looks at the ladies. They seem not to regard him; not a head is turned in fear or query. He squeezes entrance between two of the ladies. None squeal in objection. He takes up the cooking spit, turns and walks out. All so easily done. He is grinning. But not for long.
The ladies, who until then were as silent as a dead dawn, all burst out laughing. They rise from their seats. They circle about him. And there he sees their assortment of weapons, all pressing and prodding and pointing at him.
“Brave Brian,” says the warriors’ speaker. “We marvel at your courage. To enter here, amongst we warriors, knowing we can kill you, sharp as a flea. And all to take what you want, without a flinch. Brave Brian, such courage must be rewarded. Take the spit – since it means so much to you. We women warriors have many others.”
Brian rapidly thanks the women and as rapidly rises to find again his brothers and boat.
“One task remaining,” Iucharba says. “And then to be free of the fine.”
“To the fjords of Lochlann,” says Iuchar.
“Norway,” says Brian. And it takes them only five days of hard-rowing.
They moor their boat in the loch, in the shade of the muckle-high hill of the Mead of Sorrow. They foot-to-land and start their walk. It’ll be a few days to gain the top.
But they’ve climbed a bare inch when already they’re met by Lord Medchaoin.
“He’s a bulk,” remarks Iucharba, quietly.
“He’s reputed great,” says Iuchar.
“And we are greater,” says Brian as he unsheaths his sword.
Lord Medchaoin snorts, a bull in full fury. “You! Killer of my friend, of my foster-brother Cian! And now you dare to come here, intent to shout upon this hill. Over my dead body.”
“Easily done,” Brian says, and slashes. But Lord Medchaoin is fast; he blocks and parries.
Fierce their battle, equally skilled. The clashes and strikes, sounding off the hills, rebound and carry around the world. A mighty storm, folks everywhere say, and hide from what they fear is Dooms Day. But at the last Lord Medchaoin lies dead at Brian’s feet.
Brian straightens, in-drawing a much-needed breath – and sees the sons of Lord Medchaoin, Aedh, Corca and Conn, come strutting towards him.
“Fight’s on,” Iuchar says to Conn. He’s been standing idly by and now is keen to pitch in.
“To me, Corca, laddie, and meet your end,” says Iucharba, eager and ready.
“You’re mine,” Brian says to Aedh. And again the battle begins.
Blood gushes, blood sprays, blood taints the sky red. It falls upon the mountainside, it colours the waters of the springs. The warriors stamping and roaring is ten thunderstorms. The earth trembles, a quake that rocks the land from Norway to the Mediterranean. Three days, three nights, without a break. Ho! What a glorious fight!
Then, oops and begora! Alas and alack! The sons of Lord Medchaoin forsake their swords and bring in their long-handled spears. They find their targets. Each son of Tuirenn is pierced and wounded.
“Lord-gods!” calls Brian to give himself and his brothers more strength. And they, too, abandon their swords, and with a jab and thrust of their spears, pierce and pin and slay the three sons of Lord Medchaoin.
All but dead on their feet, yet the sons of Tuirenn pull themselves up and set out on the journey to the top of the muckle-high hill. There they give three very weak shouts.
Wounded and weary, it seems now they must die. Yet resilient bronze is the fighters’ mettle of old. Down the hill they come, to board their ship and to their oars, the salt-spray a tang in their wounds as they row. And five days and five days on, they sight Ben Eadair, their father’s home, ‘the peak between’.
Tuirenn comes to greet them. But Brian has no words other than must.
“Father, take this spit to Lugh,” he says, fearing he’ll die without speaking. “And tell him we gained the hill and we shouted thrice. Tell him we’ve now paid his price.”
In racing chariot Tuirenn hastens to Tara where Lugh is waiting. And having given the spit and the news, he begs off Lugh the healing pigskin of Tuis, king of Greece-land. And failing that, just one of the apples from the Garden of Hesperides. He wants to heal his dying sons.
But Lugh refuses him.
On hearing this, Brian asks to be taken to Lugh. And he too begs off him the healing skin.
“Though you give me the world and all wonders in it, I will not give it,” Lugh says. “You denied Cian when he begged for his life. You killed him most cruelly, denying him honour. Now your deaths must follow. There is no other compensation. Before the lord-gods as witness, you did agree it.”
The sons of Tuirenn die soon after. Grief-taken, their father Tuirenn die beside them. And thus the feud ends.
Lord Lugh, though, he lives on. The greatest warrior-magician this world has known – or so say the Hibernians.
Toli claims his story was had off Cumhal, a fellow knight of Lord Rainald. Yet I know of a fact that isn’t so. While the Sons of Tuirenn is a traditional Irish story, and part of a much longer cycle, this version follows that found in Celtic Myths and Legends, Peter Berresford Ellis (1999) ISBN 13 978-1-84119-248-2 . True, Toli has given it his typical twist, complete with his own versions of spellings. Well, Irish isn’t the easiest of languages for a Saxon squire to acquire. The poems too are of his composing, not stolen from Mr Ellis.