The Laughter of Peterkin

The Fate of the Sons of Turenn, cont'd

Well, resumed Ian Mor, Kian was not many miles forth upon the great pastures to the north of Tara, when he saw three lordly men riding towards him.

They were still a great way off, but Kian the Noble was noted far and wide for his keen sight, and he knew who the mailed and shining ones were. They were Dedannans, but they were of a clan at bitter feud with his own; and his heart quaffed as he saw that in that lonely place he would have to meet face to face with Brian, Ur, and Urba, the sons of Turenn. Far better would it have been for him to ride forward fearlessly, and call upon the sons of Turenn to put all enmity aside in the face of the bitter danger to Erin because of Bras and his Fomorians. But a man born under a dark star must soon or late ride into the shadow of that star.

So when Kian had realized that the foes of him and his house were fast approaching, he cast about for some way to delude the sons of Turenn. Already they had seen the stranger, though they had not recognised him.

In common with all the lords of the Dedannans, Kian carried with him a magic wand. With this he could at any time transform himself into some living creature. And so it happened that, while he was still pondering, he caught sight of a vast herd of swine feeding upon the thistle-pastures to the left; and no sooner had he done so than he took his wand and changed himself into a boar. His horse, too, he changed; and then both, grazing often, joined the great herd, and were soon at one with it.

Kian laughed to himself at how he had outwitted the sons of Turenn, but oversoon did he laugh. After all he was sorrowful; for it was not seemly for a man to change himself into a pig, lest death or some disaster came upon him in that guise: for, according as a man's doom came to him, so would he have to bear it.

Meanwhile the three sons of Turenn rode across the plain. Fair to see were they, these three comely lords: Brian, the eldest and strongest; Ur, the tallest and fairest; and Urba the swift. They had seen Kian riding slowly towards them, but had not thought more than that he was an emissary from Dunree, where Nuadh of the Silver Hand was. When, however, they missed him suddenly, Brian frowned and drew rein.

"Tell me, my brothers," he exclaimed, "where is he whom a brief while ago we saw riding toward us?"

"He is no longer to be seen," Urba answered. "Yet there is no hiding-place that we wot of. If he were lying on the grass, we should descry him and his horse from where we now are."

"They are not on the grass," said Ur; "for I could see a slim greyhound were it lying there."

Brian pondered awhile. Then he spoke again.

"As ye know well, war is all about us now, and it befits us to be wary. It is clear that the man we saw was no friend to us, or why has he hidden himself?  But I think I know his secret: with a magic wand he has turned himself into a pig, and is now among that great herd of swine that we see yonder."

"Then he has escaped us, Brian? "

"Not so, Ur. I too have my magic wand with me; with it I shall now turn my two brothers into swift hounds. Ye shall then speed in among these swine and see if ye can root out this man, who is surely an enemy."

And with that Brian took his wand, and changed his brothers into hounds; and they raced away with the speed of the wind while he rode swiftly towards a belt of forest which skirted the plain to the rear of the herd.

When the baying of the hounds was heard, a panic seized upon the swine. Like a great swaying mass of seaweed in the trough of the waves, the herd swung to and fro; ever becoming more and more densely packed, and squealing and grunting in terror and bewilderment as the two gaunt hounds sprang against their heaving masses or dashed to and fro in their midst.

At the east they were so driven in upon themselves, that they became as one solid mass, close-wedged. Among these dense hundreds it seemed impossible for Ur and Urba to find the enchanted man; but while they were still running to and fro in their eager quest, Brian saw a pig leap from the rear of the herd and run swiftly towards the belt of forest.

Brian put his horse upon the wind, as the saying is; and it was a race then between the mounted man and the enchanted boar: but just as the first undergrowth was nigh Brian came up, with the fleeing aniinal, and drove his hunting-spear in betwixt its shoulders.

With a terrible scream the flying boar rolled over; then, with a wild human crying and speech, begged for pity.

"Oh, son of Turenn," it cried, "have pity upon me! Sure it is an evil deed to slay me thus, well knowing who I am!"

"I know that thy voice is the voice of a man," answered Brian, "but I know not who thou art. I am Brian, eldest of the sons of Turenn. Tell me thy name."

"He who implores thy mercy, O Brian of the Oak Shaft, is Kian, the father of thy comrade in years and arms, Lu of the Long Hand."

By this time Ur and Urba were beside the victor and the victim, and now resumed their human shape. When they heard the pleadings of Kian they interceded for him, notwithstanding the deadly feud between the clans of Turenn and Kian. But Brian would not listen to their counsel, not even when Ur pleaded that great evil might come out of the slaying of Kian, nor when Urba urged that this was not the day and the hour for such a deed, when Erin needed every man to fight against the Fomorians. And, of a truth, that has ever been the sad way of the Gael, who will think of the private wrong first, then of the general weal, and so will fall as a single tree will fall where a forest would be steadfast.

When Kian saw that his fate was come upon him, and heard Brian swear by a sacred oath that he would not spare him though he returned thrice to life, or seven times changed his form, he made one last supplication.

"At the least, as ye are honourable men, save me this dishonour. Let me not die as a pig, but as a man. I have dropped my magic wand; therefore, O Brian, I pray of thee to take thine, and with it restore me to mine own form."

"That shall be done," said the chief, adding scornfully, "for sure it is an easier thing for me to kill a man than a pig."

But no sooner was Kian a man again than he laughed mockingly.

"Why do you laugh thus?" asked Ur.

"I laugh because I have outwitted ye at the last, ye sons of Turenn. What is death to me who have a dust of grey hairs over my once black locks, or is death indeed a thing at any time to fear overmuch? Ill as it would befit me to die as a pig, still more ill would it be because of that which follows death."

"Speak," said Ur, though in his heart both he and his brothers knew what Kian was about to say.

"I have outwitted ye, as I have said; for if as a pig I had been slain by Brian of the Oak Shaft, then ye would have had no other eric to pay for me than the eric of a pig, but now ye shall have to pay the eric of a man, and upon that the eric of a father of grown sons, and upon that the fatherhood eric of each son, and upon that the eric of a great lord, and upon that the eric of the broken honour of my son Lu of the Long Hand. And I tell ye this, that never has there been nor ever will be, so great an eric as that which ye shall have to pay for this deed of thine so that in the years to come men shall speak of the eric of the sons of Turenn as the most difficult and the worst that was ever paid in Erin."

"That may be," said Brian sullenly, "but we shall slay thee here, in this waste place, and none shall know when death came to thee, or where thou liest, and for all that thy son Lu is Lu the Ildanna, he shall seek in vain to know where the worms make merry upon thee."

"In the shadow of death I see clearly, and I see that death will not put his silence upon me till Lu has learned the evil deed that has been done."

"Spare him," urged Urba, "for of a surety he is already sore wounded, and he did no more than seek to escape us. It would be well, Brian, not to have this man's blood upon us."

"Spare him," pleaded Ur, "for innocent blood is an ill thing to spill. This man did not come upon us with lifted spear or sword, but, seeing that we were three and he one only, sought to escape. It is not a knightly deed to take the life of a stricken man, and of onewho asks for mercy."

"We will slay him," said Brian sullenly.

"Remember this," pleaded Ur, "that if we slay him, Urba and I must pay the penalty along with thee, and that it is a hard thing upon us who would fain spare this man."

Brian laughed.

"If ye and Urba fear the eric, ye may go hence at once. I will do my own slaying. But ye forget that the sons of Turenn are under geas to have no quarrel that is not the quarrel of each, and to fight no fight wherein each doth not front it in the same hour and place."

"We do not forget," answered Ur and Urba; and each added: "Do as thou wilt, Brian, our elder brother."

So Brian turned to where Kian lay upon the stony thistle-strewn grass.

"Hast thou aught more to say?"

"This only, that no eric ever paid shall be counted as near unto that which ye shall have to pay, and that the weapons wherewith ye slay me shall cry out to Lu my son, and tell him what ye three have done unto me."

Again Brian laughed.

"Thou who fleddest before us as a pig shalt die as a trapped beast. We shall not give thee the honour of death by the clean sword or the deft spear."

With that he stooped and raised on high a huge angular slab of stone, grey below, and mossed and lichened above, and, swaying with the weight, hurled it down upon the head of Kian. Then Ur and Urba lifted other great stones, and did likewise, because of their bond. And this was how death came to Kian the Noble.

When the old chief lay still and white at last, the three sons of Turenn made haste to hide his body from sight; so they dug a great hole in the sandy grass, and buried the slain man.

There was a strange trembling in the earth that day, a trembling felt throughout Erin from sea to sea, and men marvelled and feared.

But none so much marvelled as Brian and Ur and Urba, for when they had buried the bruised body of Kian they saw with horror that the shaking earth threw it back again. Nevertheless, once more they buried it, and deeper, and put heavy stones upon the trodden sods. Then, to their still greater horror and amaze, the earth again trembled and again threw back the murdered dead.

At that Ur and Urba wished to ride away at once from the accursed place, but Brian would not.

"Fate is made by men, as well as that Fate rules men," he said. "I shall not rest content till the earth holds at last the body of Kian, son of Kian the White."

Yet it was not until the seventh time that the earth trembled no more, and held within it, beneath a cairn of boulders, the slain body of Kian the Noble.

Thereafter the three sons of Turenn rode swiftly away, and that night were among the host which had been assembled by Lu of the Long Hand.

On the morrow, on the vast plains of Moytura, the great and terrible Battle of the Kites was fought. It was so called because after a day of dreadful slaughter the kites and hawks assembled in multitudes, and were satiated with the feast of the dead. In that battle the fiercest strife was on the part of four heroes: Lu the Ildanna, and the three sons of Turenn. For hours the swaying and whirling of spears, the rush of javelins, the flashing of swords, the trampling of horses and crash of war-chariots, made the plain of Moytura a place of savage din and fury. For long it seemed as though the great might and numbers of the Fomorians would give the day to Bras, son of Balor of the Evil Eye; but so great was the prowess of the Dedannan host, that the Fomorians were mowed down as ripe grain.

In the wane of the afternoon, Bras and Lu met at last. The tides of war ceased, for all men wished to see the battle-meeting of these two champions.

But already Bras had seen that the day had gone against the glory of Lochlin, and he knew that an hour hence his great army would be utterly routed, and that all who did not straightway escape to the shores of Connaught and gain the Fomorian galleys would be tracked and cut down like flying wolves.

So he lowered his great spear, and threw his shield upon the ground, and thereafter asked Lu to stay the tides of battle, and agreed that the day should be accounted as a final victory to the men of Erin. And the son of the king of Lochlin further agreed, that if Lu and the leaders of the Dedannans would do this, he would give a solemn bond to withdraw all the Fomorians from Erin, to cancel for ever the bond put upon the Tuatha-De-Danann by Balor of the Evil Eye, and never to return again in enmity, neither he nor any Fomorian of the north nor southlander of lower Lochlin.

And thus it was that the great battle of Moytura, the Battle of the Kites, came to an end. A year thereafter the grass was not yet green, and the plain was covered with the white bones of the innumerous dead.

When all was over, and Bras and his defeated army were hasting towards the distant Connaught shores, Lu threw from him his blood-stained armour and the weapons he was almost too weary to bear. All day he had fought, as only the mightiest heroes fight, and many strong and valorous men had marvelled at his dauntless courage and at the prowess that failed not for one moment.

Glad was Lu of the Long Hand to see Ald and Art, but when he asked how his father had fared in the battle, and heard that he had not been there, and had been seen of no man that day, he knew that Kian the Noble was no longer alive.

"For," he said, "if my father were alive he would have been with me this day, or, if peradventure that were not possible, would have sent me a sign. Howsoever this may be, something within me tells that my father is no longer among the living. And now, ye who hear me, listen, for by the Sun and the Moon and the Wind I swear that I shall not slake this bitter thirst of mine, nor rest this over-weary head, until I have found how and where and when an evil fate came upon my father, whom I loved as I have loved and love none other."

That night Lu Ildanna, with a hundred chosen men, rode swiftly to Tara, but there found no word of Kian.

On the morrow he set forth at dawn, alone; for in a dream it had come to him that his father lay moaning beneath the thistle-strewn grass on the stony plain of Moy Murhenna. And there, in truth, Lu came upon the end of his quest; for as he rode slowly and sadly across the plain, whereon he could not discern a living being save a vast herd of swine, he heard, as one may hear in a shell, a plaintive sighing.

"What is that sighing?" he cried. "Is it the death-sigh of thee, Kian my father?"

There was no answer save the strange sighing, that was not of the wind or any moving thing, but seemed now to come from above, now from around, now from beneath. But at the third asking, a voice answered, thin and feeble:

"It is the death-sighing of me, Kian thy father, O Lu my son."

"And who put death upon thee, thou who liest there in the darkness of the shadow of death?"

"The three sons of Turenn slew me here in this waste place. And because that they slew me in no fair strife, and because that they finished their slaying by crushing me with great stones till there was not left of me one bone alive, I cry to thee, O Lu my son, whom men now call Lu the Ildanna because of thy craft and wisdom, to see that a greater eric be exacted for me than has ever yet been exacted in Erin for any slain man. And in the end see that thou sparest not, for otherwise there shall be a greater bloodshed still; and ill it befits us, who are noble, that we should bring a tide of blood over Erin, for no worthier cause than the wiping out of that which lies between the clan of Kian and the clan of Turenn."

"As thou sayest, O Kian my father, so shall it be, and even unto the end. And this I swear by the Sun and by the Moon and by the Wind."

Nevertheless, Lu showed no grief till he saw his father's bruised body before him, and then he bewailed bitterly that he had not been nigh when the sons of Turenn drove Kian the Noble to his fate; and bitterly he lamented that one of the noble Dedannan race should be slain by Dedannans; and bitterly he swore that an eric should be exacted such as never before had been heard of in Erin, and that in the end, even were it fulfilled, he should not spare, because of what Kian had foreseen.

At noon Lu returned from Tara, whither he had gone after he had viewed the speechless dead body of his father, with ten chosen men whom he had bound to silence.

So once more Kian the Noble was placed in his grave, but now standing, as befits a hero. And above the grave they raised a cairn, and midway in this cairn was a great slab of smooth stone, whereon Lu Ildanna graved in Ogam the name and ancestry and great fame of Kian, son of Kian, son of Kian the Thunder-smith.

But when that night Lu entered Tara again, the whole of the king's town was lit with torches, and resounded with joyous shouts and cries because of the great victory of the Dedannans over the Fomorians; nor was any name so often named as that of Lu Lamfada, Lu the Long-Handed.

When Lu entered the palace of the king, he was received with a mighty shout of welcome, and Nuadh of the Silver Hand himself came to greet him, with fair loving words of praise and gratitude. Right glad was the king to see Lu come to him thus, for he had feared that the Ildanna bore him a bitter grudge because of his having refused his aid to drive forth Bras and his Fomorians. Therefore it was that he paid honour to Lu Ildanna above all other men, and led him to a seat at his right hand, placing him above the whole assemblage of princes and great lords.

But Lu neither smiled nor made any sign of pleasure. His eyes wandered round the concourse of the Dedannan chivalry. Suddenly his gaze became intent and fixed, for upon three golden-studded seats of honour he beheld the three sons of Turenn.

The High King of Erin was about to speak to his chiefs on the great matter of rejoicing and counsel which had brought them all together, when Lu arose. All stared in amaze, for only some unforeseen emergency could justify a noble speaking before the High King had said what he had to say.

"O King of Erin," said Lu slowly, and in a low voice, yet so clear and cold and vibrant that it was heard of every man in that vast concourse: "O King of Erin, order the Chain of Silence to be brought hither, and let its soft, delicate music be shaken from it; for I have that to say that must be heard of all men, and not in their ears only but in their hearts and in their minds."

Therewith the Chain of Silence was brought, and was shaken slowly and delicately by the young druid whose charge it was. The sweet low sound rose into the air like fragrance, and passed through all the halls in Tara, and filled the ears of every man, and the mind of each, and the soul of each. There was not a sound in all that place, not a whisper, not a sigh.

In that great silence Lu moved forward till he stood beside the king and faced the whole assemblage.

"Chiefs and warriors of the Tuatha-De-Danann, I have that to ask ye to which I need an answer this day. Tell me this: What would ye do unto one who wittingly, and not in battle but shamefully, slew your father, and he innocent, even such a man, say, as Kian the Noble?"

There was no whisper of answer. All sat there amazed, marvelling at the strange question. But at last Nuadh the King spoke.

"What meaning lives in thy words, Ildanna? For we know that thy father Kian is not slain, for he was not in the Great Battle."

"Nevertheless he is slain, and here in this royal place my eyes behold them who slew him."

When Lu of the Long Hand had spoken these words, every man looked from neighhour to neighbour in amaze. But all waited for the king to speak.

"What sayest thou, Nuadh of the Silver Hand, Ardree of Erin?"

"I have this to say, that if a man wittingly, and without the just cause of war, slew my father, and he innocent, I would not be content with exacting death, but would rather lop him limb from limb daily till he died."

"And what say ye, chiefs and nobles of the Dedannan race?"

"We say as the Ardree says," cried one and all, save the three who sat on golden-knobbed seats near the High King, though these too bowed their heads in acquiescence.

"And what say ye, ye sons of Turenn?"

At this all turned and looked upon Brian and Ur and Urba, who sat pale and stern. Brian answered for himself and his brothers.

"We say as the High King says."

"Nuadh of the Silver Hand, Ardree of Erin, and all ye chieftains and chiefs and nobles of the Dedannan race, I call ye to witness that this man who has spoken slew my father, and that he and his brothers are jointly guilty of that foul deed."

For more than the furthest singing of an arrow, there was silence. Neither the king nor any man spoke, but all looked to the sons of Turenn to say Yea or Nay. But Brian and Ur and Urba sat in a frozen stillness, and moved neither their hands nor their lips, and stared only with unwavering eyes upon the white accusing face of the son of the murdered Kian.

Then Lu spoke again.

"Behold the men who slew my father. And now, O king, I say not whether there were good cause for this slaying: all men know that there was a feud between the clans of Kian and Turenn. Nor do I wish to bring evil into this house and town of thine. Because one man is dead, there is no need that others must die who have nought to do with his death. I have come in peace I would go in peace. But this only I say I go not hence till I have won from the sons of Turenn the vow of my eric."

"That is right and wise," answered the king, "and for myself I would be well content if, being guilty, I could evade death by paying any eric whatsoever."

At this Brian rose.

"Lu, son of Kian, has spoken inadvisedly, O king. He has accused us of a crime, he knowing nothing of when or how that deed was done, and in what circumstances, and how made inevitable. Nor, again, have we ever admitted that we are guilty of this deed of murder."

"It is enough. Kian, father of Lu Ildanna, came to his death through ye three sons of Turenn. Whatsoever eric Lu may exact, that eric ye shall have to pay. Otherwise the lives that ye hold so dear, being your own, will no longer have the shelter of this royal place; and as no man's hand can be raised to aid thee, ye shall be at the mercy of Lu of the Long Hand, and of whomsoever he may bring against thee."

For a brief while Brian talked low with his brothers; then he turned and addressed Nuadh the king and Lu Lamfada.

"We are for peace, not strife. We say not we are guilty, but we will pay the eric that Lu, son of Kian, may demand, save only that it be not against the life of Turenn our father."

That is well said," exclaimed Nuadh of the Silver Hand.

I accept the troth," said Lu, and now call upon all here to witness that the sons of Turenn have made a solemn pledge."

There were few there who did not wonder what the eric would be, for all knew that Lu was a stern man, and would not rest till he had done his utmost to make the sons of Turenn expiate their deed.

Great was their amazement, therefore, when Lu gave forth the eric that he demanded.

"The eric I demand is this," he said: "that ye bring me three apples, a certain skin, a spear, two horses and a chariot, seven swine, a hound, and a roasting spit. And further, that ye shout three shouts upon a hill. Yet, if ye will," Lu added scornfully, "I shall remit a portion of this eric if ye find it too heavy for ye."

"It is neither heavy nor great," answered Brian, "if there be no hidden evil behind. For by the Sun and Wind I swear that I would not count too heavy an eric, three hundreds of thousands of apples, or thrice a hundred skins, or many score horses and chariots, spears and hounds, or a shouting a hundred times upon a hundred hills."

"Nevertheless, I do not account it small," answered Lu gravely. "But give me now security that ye shall fulfil this eric to the uttermost."

"We give ourselves as security."

"Not so," exclaimed Lu scornfully. "I will not have the security of yourselves."

"Then I call upon Bove Derg, son of the Dagda, and upon Nuadh of the Silver Hand, Ardree of Erin, and upon the score I shall name of the foremost chiefs of the Dedannan race, to be our pledge and warranty."

And after Brian had named the score, all they, and Nuadh the king, and Bove Derg, the son of the Dagda, gave the pledge, so that thenceforth the sons of Turenn were under solemn geas to fulfil the eric, or die in the effort to fulfil the eric, or otherwise bring dishonour upon all these noble and great lords, each of whom moreover would be bound to seek the lives of Brian and Ur and Urba.

"And now tell us if that is all, O Lu Ildanna, for much I misdoubt me if thou hast no evil thought for us behind thy fair-seeming words."

Thereat all leaned forward and listened eagerly, for each man knew that Lu was not vainly called the Ildanna, for there was no one in all Erin who had so much knowledge, or whose craft was so greatly to be feared. When he had uttered the eric that he demanded, all were at first amazed. Then some had thought that he was under geas never to exact a great eric, but always the smallest that he might make; but most were troubled, for behind these slight exactions they knew that he had arrowy intentions.

"Yes, ye sons of Turenn," Lu Lamfada began slowly, "I shall tell ye now what my eric is. I do not think ye shall find it over easy.

Brian and Ur and Urba rose, but all the host otherwise remained seated. The three sons of Turenn leaned upon their spears, and tall and goodly warriors they seemed, and worthy of their great fame as three of the seven chief champions of Erin.

"First, then, there is this. The skin I demand of ye is one that belongs to the king of Greece in the far eastern lands. It is the skin of healing. No man need die of wounds who has that skin; and cold water, too, it will make into wine. I do not think ye will come easily by that skin.

"Second, there is this. The spear I demand of ye is the spear called Aradvar, the dreadful spear of Pisarr, Prince of Persia, whose point is for ever kept cooling in a cauldron of water, so terrible is its fiery thirst, and that thirst for blood. I do not think ye will find the spear of Pisarr easy to obtain.

"Third, there is this. The chariot and two horses that I demand of ye belong to Dobar, the king of Sicily. They heed neither the rough ways of the land nor the rough ways of the sea, but travel equally and at the will of him who drives. I do not think ye will find it easy to obtain that chariot and its two horses.

"Further, there is this. Far to the south there is a great lord, Asol of the Golden Pillars. It is he who owns the seven swine I ask of ye. Ye may slay the seven and yet all will remain. They know not death, though ye may slay them and feed upon them. There is no death upon them. I do not think ye will find it easy to obtain these swine.

"Fifth, there is this. In a further land still, that is called Irr-ua, there is a great and terrible hound named Falinnish. So fierce is he that whatever beast comes within sight of him falls in helpless fear. I do not think ye will find that hound very easy to obtain, or bring with ye from far-off Irrua.

" Sixth, there is this. In the remote seas is an isle called Fiancarya. It is there that the sea-women dwell. In caverns beneath the waves they roast their food. It is their roasting spit I ask of ye. I do not think ye will find it easy to obtain that thing.

"Seventh, there is this. The three apples I ask of ye are of gold, and are in an ancient garden in Isberna. That ancient close is well guarded, O Sons of Turenn, so that ye may not find it easy even to see the wind-waved summits of the trees. I do not think ye will bring back these apples.

Probably Isberna is Hispania (Spain), and the apples the golden apples of the Hesperides.

"And lastly, there is this. In the remotest north of remote Lochlin there is a hill called Mekween. It is so called from a man of that name who lives there. He is a great and powerful man, and none others equal him save only his two sons. So terrible are they that no man dare venture into that wild place where they live, save in amity. It was with them that my father learned his great craft with the sword; and so great will their wrath be that ye have slain him, that even were I to forgive ye, they would not. Moreover, Mekween and his sons are under geas not to allow a shout to be shouted upon that hill. I do not think ye will find it easy to pass the sons of Mekween, nor to shout three shouts upon that hill."

With that, Lu the Ildanna bowed before the king, and sat upon his golden chair again.

All men looked with sorrow upon the sons of Turenn. Any of the seven geasan of this eric that Lu put upon them was more than enough for any hero: how then would they survive till the last, or, having survived, how would they bring back with them these things, and how escape the wrath of Mekween and his sons?

Nevertheless, the sons of Turenn were now under bond, and they had no choice but to do what they could to fulfil their eric.

With sad hearts they left the great beauty and wonder of Tara, and with sadder hearts still reached their own land. Here with sorrow they bade farewell to Turenn their father and to dark-eyed Enya their sister, whom they loved so passing well, and to all their kindred and folk. Thereafter they set forth on their long and ever more and more perilous quest.

It would have been easy for the sons of Turenn to have passed over into Alba, and sought service with the king of that country; or to have gone among the Kymri in the inland highlands beyond the isle where Manannan had his home: or southward to Lyonesse or into Armorica. But honour is a better thing than ease, and it would ill have befit heroes such as Brian and Ur and Urba to have evaded their solemn troth. A bitter wrong they had done, because of the hereditary feud betwixt the clans of Turenn and Kian : but now there was one thing only to do, and that to fulfil the eric put upon them by Lu, son of Kian. Moreover, Nuadh the Ardree and Bove Derg, son of the Dagda, and a score of the noblest lords in Erin were their warranty that they would do this thing.

So, one day of the days, they set forth from Erin: and sad indeed were they when across the foam they took their last look at Dun Turenn and at the dear familiar hill of Ben Edar.

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