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Táin Bó Cúalnge

Táin Bó Cúalnge

The Combat of Ferdiad and Cuchulain

Then the men of Erin took counsel who would be fit to send to the ford to fight and do battle with Cuchulain, to drive him off from them at the morning hour early on the morrow. With one accord they declared that it should be Ferdiad son of Daman son of Darè, the great and valiant warrior of the men of Dornnann. And fitting it was for him to go thither, for well-matched and alike was their manner of fight and combat. Under the same instructresses had they done skillful deeds of valour and arms, when learning the art with Scathach ('the Modest') and with Uathach ('the Dreadful') and with Aife ('the Handsome'). And neither of them overmatched the other, save in the feat of the Gae Bulga ('the Barbed Spear') which Cuchulain possessed. Howbeit, against this, Ferdiad was horn-skinned when fighting and in combat with a warrior on the ford.

Then were messengers and envoys sent to Ferdiad. Ferdiad denied them their will, and sent back the messengers, and he went not with them, for he knew wherefore they would have him, to fight and combat his friend, with his comrade and foster-brother, Cuchulain. Then did Medb despatch the druids and the poets of the camp, the lampoonists and hard-attackers, for Ferdiad, to the end that they might make three satires to stay him and three scoffing speeches against him, that they might raise three blisters on his face, Blame, Blemish, and Disgrace, if he came not with them.

Ferdiad came with them for the sake of his own honour, forasmuch as he deemed it better to fall by the shafts of valour and bravery and skill, than to fall by the shafts of satire, abuse, and reproach. And when Ferdiad was come into the camp, he was honoured and waited on, and choice, well-flavoured strong liquor was poured out for him till he became drunken and merry. Great rewards were promised him if he would make the fight and combat, namely a chariot worth four times seven bondmaids, and the apparel of two men and ten men, of cloth of every colour, and the equivalent of the Plain of Murtheme of the rich Plain of Ai, free of tribute, without duress for his son, or for his grandson, or for his great-grandson, till the end of time and existence.

Such were the words of Medb, and she spake them here and Ferdiad responded:

Medb: "Great rewards in arm-rings
Share of plain and forest
Freedom of thy children
From this day till doom!
Ferdiad son of Daman
More than thou couldst hope for,
Why shouldst thou refuse it,
That which all would take?"
Ferdiad: "Naught I'll take without bond--
No ill spearman am I--
Hard on me to-morrow:
Great will be the strife!
Hound that's hight of Culann,
How his thrust is grievous!
No soft thing to stand him;
Rude will be the wound!"

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Medb: "To thee, foremost champion
I will give my ringed brooch.
From this day till Sunday,
Shall thy respite be!
Warrior, mighty, famous,
All the earth's fair treasures
Shall to thee be given;
Everything be thine!
"Finnabair of the champions (?),
Queen of western Erin,
When thou'st slain the Smith's Hound,
Ferdiad, she's thine!"

Then they said, one and all, those gifts were great. "Tis true, they are great. But though they are," said Ferdiad, "with Medb herself I will leave them, and I will not accept them if it be to do battle or combat with my foster-brother, the man of my alliance and affection, and my equal in skill of arms, namely, with Cuchulain." And he said:

"Greatest toil, this, greatest toil
Battle with the Hound of gore!
Liefer would I battle twice
With two hundred men of Fal!
"Sad the fight, and sad the fight,
I and Hound of feats shall wage!
We shall hack both flesh and blood;
Skin and body we shall hew!
"Sad, O god, yea, sad, O god,
That a woman should us part!
My heart's half, the blameless Hound;
Half the brave Hound's heart am I!
"By my shield, O by my shield,
If Ath Cliath's brave Hound should fall
I will drive my slender glaive
Through my heart, my side, my breast!
"By my sword, O by my sword,
If the Hound of Glen Bolg fall!
No man after him I'll slay,
Till I o'er the world's brink spring!
"By my hand, O, by my hand!
Falls the Hound of Glen in Sgail,
Medb with all her host I'll kill
And then no more men of Fal!
"By my spear, O, by my spear!
Should Ath Cro's brave Hound be slain,
I'll be buried in his grave;
May one grave hide me and him!
"Tell him this, O tell him this,
To the Hound of beauteous hue."

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Medb: "Champions will be surety,
Thou needst not keep hostings.
Reins and splendid horses
Shall be given as pledge!
Ferdiad, good, of battle,
For that thou art dauntless,
Thou shalt be my lover,
Past all, free of cain!"

Ferdiad: "Without bond I'll go not
To engage in ford-feats;
It will live till doomsday
In full strength and force.
Ne'er I'll yield-- who hears me,
Who'er counts upon me--
Without sun- and moon-oath
Without sea and land!"

Medb: "Why then dost delay it?
Bind it as it please thee,
By kings' hands and princes',
Who will stand for thee!
Lo, I will repay thee,
Thou shalt have thine asking,
For I know thou'lt slaughter
Man that meeteth thee!"

Ferdiad: "Nay, without six sureties--
It shall not be fewer--
Ere I do my exploits
There where hosts will be!
Should my will be granted,
I swear, though unequal,
That I'll meet in combat
Cuchulain the brave!"

Medb: "Domnall, then, or Carbrè,
Niaman famed for slaughter,
Or e'en folk of barddom,
Natheless, thou shalt have.
Bind thyself on Morann,
Wouldst thou its fulfilment
Bind on smooth Man's Carbrè,
And our two sons, bind!"

Ferdiad: "Medb, with wealth of cunning,
Whom no spouse can bridle,
Thou it is that herdest
Cruachan of the mounds!
High thy fame and wild power!
Mine the fine pied sation;
Give thy gold and silver,
Which were proffered me!"

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Tags: Historical Account, Non-Player Character
Created by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 05-04-11 09:29 PM
Last Modified by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 07-23-11 12:31 PM