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PART FOUR - ULSTER RISING

Ferdia was the son of Daman and he and Cuchulain had learned the art of combat together under Skatha and had been friends for years but now they were members of opposing armies.Queen Maev had continously entreated Ferdia to meet Cuchulain in mortal combat but Ferdia refused.Maev offered to let him wed her daughter the beautiful Findabair of the Fair Eyebrows if he would meet Cuchulain and still Ferdia refused so it was that Maev finally threatened to have the poets and bards of Connacht write propaganda against him and cause him shame and it was then that he consented to go.

Ferdia arrived at the appointed field of combat early , the ford where all the other battles thus far had taken place.Cuchulain implored Ferdia to join him in defense of Ulster but Ferdia would not and so it was that these two young men who had been almost like brothers were forced into a fight only one could survive.

Ferdia and Cuchulain both consented to fight by throwing small javelins but after fighting in this manner all day not one had seriously wounded the other and so they made camp there and shared food and healing ointments and talked as if they had never even fought.

Morning came on the next day and this time the two champions chose to cast broad spears at each other from their chariots and as on the day previous they did no serious wounds to each other and on that night as the night before they camped together as friends.

However the next morning Ferdia seemed angry and agitated and Cuchulain admonished him for coming out against him for the prize of a woman , the daughter of Maev who Cuchulain himself had turned away when Maev offered her to him.Ferdia retorted that he came against Cuchulain to preserve his honor and his heart turned cold against Cuchulain.The weapon of choice today was swords and the two combatants fought neither one winning and by days end they made camp but not together.

The fourth day had come and Ferdia worried that Cuchulain would attempt to use the Gae Bolg against him so he wore a smooth flat stone underneath his tunic covering his belly.There would be no weapon of choice for today it was anything goes.

They started combat with spears and fought this way until noon until Cuchulain drew his sword to thrust it over the rim of Ferdia's shield but Ferdia pushed his shield upwards and threw Cuchulain off of him.Cuchulain tried again to strike at Ferdia but Ferdia threw him off in exactly the same manner as before.Cuchulain tried this two more times but to no avail for the end result was the same.Cuchulain was losing and even his own charioteer Laeg mocked him questioning whether or not Cuchulain should even consider himself a warrior.

Cuchulain became furious and lunged at Ferdia and the combat became so intense that the water swirled around them and rolled as if boiling and then Ferdia caught Cuchulain off guard and slashed him deep in his side and blood poured into the ford.Cuchulain had only one recourse and that was the Gae Bolg.Laeg tossed it to Cuchulain and Ferdia lowered his shield to block the blow but instead Cuchulain thrust the weapon upward through Ferdia's chestplate and deep into his chest.Ferdia raised his shield to throw Cuchulain off of him and it was then that Cuchulain in his battle frenzy thrust the Gae Bolg upward into Ferdia's belly piercing the armor and breaking the stone into three pieces.Cuchulain held Ferdia and took his body to the bank of the ford on the side away from Maev's forces so that he may fall ahead of them than beneath them.

Cuchulain had just killed one of dearest friends and a faintness came over him but Laeg took him in his arms hurrying away for the armies of Maev had finally had enough and came after Cuchulain with a vengeance.

Laeg took Cuchulain deeper into Ulster so that he may be taken care of due to his deep wound and while Cuchulain rested Maev's armies pushed further into Ulster.Sualtam who was Cuchulain's mortal father decided to take his son's horse the Gray of Macha and ride about the land rousing what help he could.

Sualtam came upon King Conor and Cathbad the druid who were still under the Curse of Macha and reviled them for wallowing in self pity rather than standing strong against even the ancient curse and defending their homeland.Cathbad ordered that Sualtam be taken and executed for disturbing the king but Conor knew that Sualtam was right and still sat at his throne in misery.Sualtam turned to ride off but the Gray of Macha reared up and threw Sualtam off his back and when Sualtam came to the ground from this fall his neck struck the edge of his shield and lopped off his head.

Sualtam's head hit the ground still crying out against the Ulstermen for their standing by when their country was in peril and as the head continued ranting it was illuminated by an eerie light and as the light grew stronger the Ulstermen felt the Curse of Macha leave them and King Conor stood up and swore that he would not be so downtrodden again and that he would deliver Ulster or die in the attempt and so it was that the men of Ulster rose up and armed themselves for what could be their final battle.

Maev's armies had raided Meath taking some women captive to make slaves of them but before they could rejoin Maev the armies of Conor met them and the Ulstermen spared no one rescuing the women and going forth to meet Maev and Fergus who were now on the run.

Maev and Fergus with what remained of their army waited near the Hill of Slane and sent a sentry Mac Roth to see what he could of the advancing Ulstermen.Mac Roth saw animals of the forest fleeing what appeared to be a mist from which thunder roared and he went back to Maev to report this.

Fergus knew what it meant for the mist was the breath of the warriors and the thunder the sound of their chariots and the end was soon to come.Maev and Fergus then took to the Plain of Garach and the battle was joined.Fergus was armed with the magic sword Caladcholg which when Latinised is spelled Excalibur and as he swung the sword a rainbow light shone from it and it made a sound like lightning striking the Earth.

Now as this battle raged the Brown Bull of Quelgny had arrived at Maev's estate and was placed in the same field as the Bull of Ailell and as soon as they saw each other they fought and the Brown Bull of Quelgny slew the Bull of Ailell and gored it to shreds.Then the Brown Bull ran amok across Ireland.

Fergus and Maev attacked fiercely and soon it was that Fergus fought hand to hand with King Conor and finally struck Conor's shield with such a blow it shred the shield in two and Conor lay before Fergus helpless.Cormac the son of Conor pleaded with Fergus for his father's life and Fergus then turned on Conall of the Victories.Conall scolded Fergus for wanting revenge in Deirdre's name and it was then that Cuchulain arrived upon the scene.

Cuchulain had heard Fergus' blows across the field of battle and knew of a way to bring an honorable end to the wars.Fergus was still under his oath to flee if he was challenged by Cuchulain in combat as Cuchulain had done for him and now was the best time to hold him to the promise.

Cuchulain stood between Fergus and Conall and challenged Fergus and so with the armies of Leinster and Munster and his honor still intact due to his keeping the oath with Cuchulain the battle ended with Fergus leaving.One thing remained and that was Maev.

The Host of Connacht was almost to the border by the time the Host of Ulster caught up with them and a skirmish ensued , Cuchulain caught Maev and remembering his oath not to slay women escorted her to a city just beyond her border.

The Brown Bull of Quelgny had died in it's rampage atop a ridge near the border of Connacht and Ulster and it was there that Ailell and Maev made peace with Ulster for seven years.

Until Maev plotted her revenge against Cuchulain.

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End Part Four
Aftermath Maev's revenge, Cuchulain's Final Battle and the fate of all.