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Cuchulain

The Champion of Ireland



Part One-The Sons of Nechtan

One year after training under Skatha the warrior Cuchulain set out to find his fortune so he sent for his chariot driver and rode to the land of Connacht for there were many battles between his House of Ulster and Connacht.

Cuchulain first came to the White Cairn on the Mourne Mountains and looked upon the land of Ulster then south to Bergia and he asked his chariot driver the names of every city and hill he saw until the chariot driver pointed out to Cuchulain  Brugh Na Boyna and the fort of the sons of Nechtan.

Cuchulain had heard of the Sons of Nechtan and how they slew many warriors of Ulster and he bade his chariot driver to take him there right away.

Standing before the fortress of the Sons of Nechtan was a pillar and about the pillar a bronze collar with an inscription in Ogham.The inscription read that any man of age to bear arms who should come here should find it geis (taboo) to leave without challenging one of the Sons of Nechtan to battle.

Cuchulain then wrapped his arms around the great pillar and shaking it to and fro cast it into the nearby river with the collar still wrapped around it.The chariot driver told Cuchulain "Surely thou wishes to die violently and without delay." for even before his sentence was halfway done one of the Sons of Nechtan came forth from the fort it was Foill the Invincible and when he saw Cuchulain he became angry at the fact someone of so young an age would be so bold as to cast the pillar into the river for that lone action was a great insult.

Cuchulain told Foill to gather his arms and prepare for battle so Foill went back in certain that he would slay the youth.Cuchulain's chariot driver told Cuchulain that Foill was invulnerable to any bladed weapon and that challenging him was suicidal.Cuchulin thought on this and came up with a plan.

Foill had armed himself and went out to fight Cuchulain but as soon as he drew his sword Cuchulain armed with a sling and an iron ball  spun his arm so fast the sling became a blur and the whirring could be heard all about the fort and then let the iron ball go so fast it went through Foill's skull and into his brain killing him instantly.The magic protecting Foill from blades was gone and Cuchulain took off Foill's head and tied it to his chariot rim and soon after all the Sons of Nechtan came forth and Cuchulain slew them all and decapitated them tying their heads to his chariot as well and then setting the fort on fire he rode off in his battle rage.Near the lake he saw a flock of swans and brought down sixteen of them alive with his sling and tied them to his chariot and then he leapt off his chariot while it was still running and chased down two stags and tied them to his chariot as well and rode out in his battle fury to destroy any man who came across him.

Cuchulain approached Emain Macha when a messenger spotted him and told King Conor that a man on a chariot was coming and the chariot was adorned with the heads of enemies and above it flew sixteen swans and it was being guided by two stags and one horse.King Conor knew it was Cuchulain in his battle fury and that Cuchulain in this condition would deal death to any man he saw friend or foe.Conor thought up a scheme to stop Cuchulain peacefully.

King Conor had a group of the women of Emainia strip naked and stand in the road before Cuchulain and when he rode to them he bowed his head with shame and at that moment some of the men of King Conor grabbed Cuchulain and dumped him in a vat of cold water as they did this the water steamed and the vat ruptured but more vats were brough out and after three dunkings the fury left him and then he was given fresh clothes and invited to a grand feast.



Part Two - Cuchulain weds Emer and faces a demon


 

The next day Cuchulain came to the fort of Forgall the father of Emer.Emer was forbidden by her father to marry before her older sister did but Emer loved Cuchulain and was ready to marry him after his victory over the Sons of Nechtan.Cuchulain leapt over the fortress walls and asked for the hand of Emer but Forgall forbade it and challenged Cuchulain by sending his warriors to slay the youth.

Cuchulain slew all twenty four with ease and Forgall ran from him and in running he fell from the fortress walls to his death so Cuchulain took Emer and Emer's sister and two loads of gold and silver but as he left the fort he was attacked by Emer's aunt and a large number of men.Cuchulain's battle rage came upon him again and he slew so many men that day that the grass was drenched in blood and the river nearby ran red and he slew every warrior he saw from Olbiny to the Boyne and so he won Emer as his wife and they came to live in Emain Macha.
 

Not long after Cuchulain and Emer had wed one another Briccriu of the Poisoned Tounge, one of the Lords of Ulster, invited King Conor and all the heroes of the Red Branch to a grand feast.

Now Briccriu had been given his nickname because of his habit of stirring up trouble.Briccriu delighted in this and it so happened that during this feast he started a debate about who the bravest warrior in Ireland was.Now after much debate it was decided that there should be a contest between these three men.Cuchulain,Conall of the Victories and Laery the Triumphant.

The contest was that a demon that lived at the bottom of a great loch would be summoned to test the three heroes and one night the druids called the demon from the bottom of the loch to come to the hall of King Conor and thereby issue a challenge to the three.Sure enough the demon came.

The demon was a tall beastly creature known only as The Terrible in his hand he carried a large axe.The demon was covered in weeds and smelled of death and decay and his challenge to the three heroes was that he would allow himself to be decapitated by their own weapons if he could return the next night and return the blow.

Cuchulain declared that he would meet the challenge and the demon kneeled before the executioner's block.Cuchulain said a blessing over his sword and with one swipe took off the demon's head and to his shock the demon rose up and picked up it's head and walked back to the loch.

The next night Cuchulain waited for the demon's return nad sure enough the demon came back whole and hearty carrying the axe in his hand.Cuchulain stood grim and somber and walked to the executioner's block and kneeled awaiting the deadly swipe.

The demon told Cuchulain "Stretch out your neck boy it's too short." taunting the youth but Cuchulain did as he was told.Then the demon took three practice swipes and with each swipe Cuchulain did not flinch and then came the deathstroke but instead of parting his head from his neck the blow landed flat on the floor.

The demon rose Cuchulain up and declared him to be the Champion of Ireland and the Bravest of all King Conor's men.


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