The Eric-Fine of Lugh
HE chiefs of the Tuatha De Danaan thronged round Lugh on the Hill of Usna. Lugh stood on the summit, and the Sword of Light was bare in his hand: all the hill below him shone with a radiance like white silver.
"Chiefs," cried Lugh, "behold the Sword! Ye should have three great jewels to match it.
Where are the Spear of Victory, the Cauldron of Plenty, and the Stone of Destiny?"
The Tuatha De Danaan bowed their heads and veiled their faces before Lugh, and answered:
"The Fomor have taken the Cauldron of Plenty and the Spear of Victory from us. Ask the Earth of Ireland for the Stone."
Lugh whirled the Sword till it became a glancing wheel of light, and cried:
"O Earth of Ireland, sacred and beloved, have you the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny?"
A strong sweet music welled up from the earth, and every stone and every leaf and every drop of water shone with light till all Ireland seemed one vast crystal, white and shining. The white light changed to rose, as it had been a ruby; and the ruby to sapphire; and the sapphire to emerald the emerald to opal; the opal to amethyst; and the amethyst to diamond, white and radiant with every colour.
"It is enough! " cried Lugh. "I am well answered: the earth of Ireland has kept the Stone."
"O Chiefs," he said, "raise up your foreheads. Though ye have not the jewels ye have the scars of battle-combat, and ye have endured sorrow and hardship for ye have known what it is to be exiles in your own land. Let us swear brotherhood now by the Sword and the Stone that we may utterly destroy the Fomor and cleanse the world. Hold up your hands and swear, as I and those who came with me from Tir-nan-Oge will swear, and as the Sacred Land will swear, that we may have one mind and one heart and one desire amongst us all."
Then the De Danaans lifted up their hands and swore a great oath of brotherhood with the Earth and with the hosts of the Shining Ones from Tir-nan-Oge. They swore by the Sword of Light and the Stone of Destiny; by the Fire that is over the earth; and the Fire that is under the earth; and the Fire in the heart of heroes. They swore to have one mind, one heart, and one desire, until the Fomor should be destroyed. Lugh swore the same oath, and all his shining comrades from Tir-nan-Oge swore it. The hills and valleys and plains and rivers and lakes and forests of Ireland swore it--they all fastened the bond of brotherhood on themselves.
"Let us go hence," said Lugh, when the oath was ended, " and make ready for the great battle."
At his word all the chiefs departed, each going his own road.
IAN, the father of Lugh, was crossing the plain of Louth that is called Moy Myeerhevna: he lifted up his eyes and saw the three sons of Turann coming towards him. There was black hatred between himself and the Sons of Turann, and he was minded not to meet them. He took the form of a wild boar and hid himself with a herd of swine. Brian, Ur, and Urcar, the sons of Turann, saw him do it, and anger leaped in them.
"Come forth!" they cried. "Show your face to us."
Cian did not come forth.
Ur and Urcar changed themselves into hounds and hunted the strange boar from the herd.
Brian made a cast of his spear at it, and when Cian felt the wound, he cried out:
"Hold! Brian, son of Turann: do not slay me in the form of a pig!"
"Take your own form."
Cian took his own form, and said:
"Ye see my face now, Sons of Turann, with blood on it. Well ye knew me from the first, and well I knew you--Oath-Breakers!"
"The bands of death on your poisonous tongue!" said Urcar. "Take back your word
"I will not take it back, Sons of the Adder. Slay me! and every drop of blood will cry out on you--your very weapons will cry Out on you in the Place of Assembly."
"We will slay you with weapons that cannot cry out," said the Sons of Turann, and they lifted great stones and rocks from the earth and stoned Cian till he was dead.
The Sons of Turann buried the body of Cian the depth of a man's height in the ground, but the earth refused to hide the body and cast it up again before them. They buried it a second time, and a second time the earth refused to hide the body and cast it up before them. Six times they buried it, and six times the earth cast it up. They buried it the seventh time, and that time the earth made no sign. The body of Cian was hidden. The Sons of Turann hastened away from the place and went to the court of King Nuada to show themselves with the other warriors.
The earth sent a little wind to Lugh LauveFauda. It touched his face and eyelids; it lifted the thick curls of his hair; it touched his hand as a hound touches the hand of a beloved master, and Lugh knew the wind had come for him. He followed it till he reached the place where Cian had been slain.
"O Lugh," said the earth, "the bond of brotherhood is broken. The Sons of Turann have slain your father. Look what a poor torn thing I cover!"
The Earth laid bare the body of Cian. Lugh looked at the mangled blood-stained body, and at the trampled dishonoured earth, and in his eyes two tears slowly gathered. He shook them away, and then he saw that the earth had sent up a little well of pure water close to him. He bent over it.
"O Earth," he said, "forgive the broken bond!"
The little spring in the heart of the well leaped in answer, and nine crystal bubbles rose through the water. Lugh. made a cup of his two hands and lifted water from the well. He sprinkled it on the torn earth, and greenness came again to the trampled grass. He sprinkled it on the bruised body of his father, and it became whole and white again.
"O Earth," he said, "most noble and beloved, I will avenge your wrong."
"O Father," he said, "you shall yet send help for the battle, and the hands of your slayers shall bring it. 'Tis not wearisome to wait for news of victory in Moy Mell, for all the winds that blow there are winds of beauty, and now you have the crimson flowers beneath your feet and the radiance of the Silver Fleece about you."
He laid the body of Cian tenderly in the earth and went to seek the slayers at the court of King Nuada.
UADA sat in his royal seat. There was a white light about him as it had been a fleece of silver, and round his head a wheel of light pulsed and beat with changing colours. His face was joyous and the faces of the Tuatha De Danaan were joyous. The great door of the dun was open and De Danaan chiefs came and went through. it.
Lugh came into the dun and with him came such heaviness of heart that joy was shaken from the assembly.
"Why is the hero-light gone from your forehead, O Lugh, Ildana?" said Nuada.
"It is because I have seen the dead body of my father--and the earth trampled into mire and blood."
The light went from the head of Nuada and he veiled his face. All the chiefs bowed their heads and raised the three sorrowful cries of the keene. Only the three sons of Turann remained with haughty eyes and unbowed heads.
"O Wind of Misfortune," cried the chiefs, "that brought the Fomor at the first to us!"
"It was not from the Fomor, O Chiefs, that Cian, Son of Dian-Cecht, got death--the hands that slew him have sworn the oath of brotherhood."
"Name his slayers!" cried Nuada; "and though they be our noblest and most loved--though they be even the Sons of Turann--they shall perish utterly!"
"The slayers are the three sons of Turann!" Nuada looked on the three Sons of Turann, and when he saw they had no words to answer Lugh his heart failed him, for the three were the mightiest and most beautiful of his warriors and there was no one with more hero-gifts than Brian unless it were the Ildana himself.
"Let them perish! " said Nuada.
"Nay, King of the Tuatha De Danaan," said Lugh," let them make good the battle-loss! Let them pay eric for the warrior they have slain!"
"You are well named the Ildana," said the King, "for truly wisdom is with you!" and then he said to the Sons of Turann. "Will ye make good the battle-loss? Will ye pay eric for Cian, son of Dian-Cecht? "
They answered: "We will pay eric: let Lugh Lauve Fauda ask it of us."
"I ask three apples, a pig-skin, a spear, a chariot with two horses, seven swine, a hound, a cooking-spit, and three shouts on a hill."
"You have stretched out your hand for a small eric-fine, Lugh the Long-Handed."
"I have not stretched out my hand for a small fine, Brian, son of Turann. The apples I ask are three golden apples from the tree that is watched by sleepless dragons in the Eastern half of the world. The skin I ask is the skin of that pig before whom rivers of water turned into rivers of wine. The skin has power to turn whatever water it touches into wine, and if it be wrapped about a man wounded to death it will give him back his life and make his body clean and whole again. It is the jewel in a great king's treasure-house, and ye will not find it easy to get. The spear I ask is the fiery victory-giver that is kept in times of peace with its head sunk in a cauldron of magic water lest it should destroy the world. The chariot I ask is the chariot of Dobar: it outshines all chariots that have been made or shall be made. The horses yoked to it do not draw back their feet from the sea-waves: their going is as lordly on the wide plain of the sea as it is on the land. The seven pigs I ask are the pigs of Asal, the King of the Golden Pillars--though they be killed and eaten to-day, they will be alive and well tomorrow, and whoso eats of them shall never know what it is to lack strength. The hound is the hound Failinis. He is brighter than the sun at mid-summer. The beasts of the forest are astonished at the sight of him: they have no strength to contend against him. The cooking-spit is a guarded flame. Fifty-three women keep it in the island of Caer, in the green stillness that is under the sea-waves. The three shouts must be given on the hill that is guarded by Midkena and his sons--no champion since the beginning of time has raised a victory-shout on that hill. I have named my eric, sons of Turann. Do ye choose to pay it, or will ye humble yourselves and ask grace? "
"We will pay the eric," said the sons of Turann, and they went forth from the Court of King Nuada.
"Why does sorrow darken your faces and the faces of the household? " she asked. "What grief has come upon you?"
"We have slain Cian, son of Dian-Cecht, the father of Lugh Lauve Fauda!"
"Alas!" cried Enya, and she beat her hands together. "Alas! ye have broken Lugh's protection out of Ireland: he will not fight in the Great Battle now!"
"Lugh will fight in the Great Battle, but he has laid on us an eric that bows us to the grave-mould."
"He asks the Hound Failinis; and the Spear of Victory--he asks the Seven Treasures of the World!"
"We are undone! " said Enya. "Destruction has come upon us!"
While she spoke they heard the approaching footsteps of those who attended Turann.
"Let us go," said Urcar, "before our father sees that good days are gone from us."
"Sorrow cannot be hidden," said Enya.
Turann came into the room. He was old and his strength was withered. His sons led him to the high-seat, and when he looked on them he knew an evil thing had befallen.
"Tell me," he said, " what misfortune has come to us."
Then Brian told the story of Cian's death and what eric Lugh had bound on them. When he made an end of telling it, Turann said:
"Bitter indeed to me is the coming of the Deliverer, for he has taken from me my three sons--my Three Eagles that never failed to carry off a prey, my Three Salmon of Knowledge that could make paths for themselves in all the rivers of the world, my Three Strong Bulls that stamped on the necks of kings. It is a bitter thing to be old without my sons."
"O my Father," said Brian, "if you have bred strong sons they will set forth strongly, and it may be they will bring back the eric-spoil. Do not make a lamentation for us till we are dead!"
"Nay," said Turann, "ye are setting forth on an adventure that knows no ending, for the treasures that ye seek are hidden in the caves of dragons and under the sea-waves. Strange kings will make a mock of you leaning over battlements of adamant and strange monsters will crush your bones. Ye will not come back to me, living or dead. No one will heap the grave-mound over your bodies!"
"O my Father," said Enya, "the heart of Lugh is set on the eric-fine. His hands are fain to grasp the fiery spear and he would see the spoils of the world brought into Ireland. Let us ask him for help. If he will give Mananaun's boat, the Ocean-Sweeper, it will not be hard for good warriors to come by the treasures--since, at a word, the Ocean-Sweeper will bear those who sit in it to whatsoever place they desire to be."
"We will ask nothing from Lugh Lauve Fauda! " said Turann's sons.
"But I will ask!" said Turann, and he cried aloud:
"Let my horses be yoked and my chariot made ready! I will not sleep till I have spoken with Lugh Lauve Fauda."
"Bid your sons to make ready and set forth. When they come to the edge of the sea and their feet touch the sea-foam, Mananaun's boat will be there waiting for them."
Turann hurried home with the good answer, and his sons made ready to set forth. Their kinsfolk and the swordsmen of their father's clan went with them to the edge of the sea and when their feet touched the sea-foam they saw a little boat, such as might fit one person, waiting for them.
"Lugh has deceived us!" cried Brian. "This is not Mananaun's boat!"
"O Brother," said Enya, "the Ocean Sweeper has as many shapes as the cloak of Mananaun has colours. Step into the boat."
When Brian had taken his place in the boat there was plenty of room, and when all the three were seated there was plenty of room, and the boat began to shine like a white crystal and the waves made a song of greeting as they lapped about the prow."
"Farewell!" said the sons of Turann; "keep gladness in your hearts till we come back."
The Ocean-Sweeper sprang from the shore like a sea-bird and wheeled and circled in the foam, waiting the word of command.
"Go to the Garden of the Golden Apple Tree that is guarded by dragons in the Eastern Half of the World," said Brian, and the Ocean-Sweeper sped swiftly forth.
The Garden of the Golden Apple Trees was very far off, and as they went to it the sons of Turann took counsel as to how they should get the apples.
"Let two of us," said Urcar, "make good sword's play on the dragons whilst the third gathers the apples."
"Yes," said Ur, "and when the apples are got, we three will slay the dragons and fight our way out of the garden."
"Wisdom is not in your words," said Brian, "we three would leave our bones among the dragons. Let us change ourselves into hawks and swoop on the apples from above."
"That is good," said the others. And when they were come to the garden they rose in the air, three golden hawks, and swooping on the tree took each an apple. The dragons were powerless to hinder them, but three of the maidens that walked in the garden--and each one was a king's daughter--changed themselves into fierce sharp-clawed griffins and followed the hawks. They could not overtake the hawks: and when they saw that, they held themselves motionless in the air and great flashes of light came from their angry eyes. They blew out three streams of fire after the hawks. The hawks plunged into the water and became three salmon, and when they reached the Ocean-Sweeper they leaped into it and took their own shapes.
"It is well we have the Apples of Healing," said Ur," the witchfire has burnt us to the bone! "
They healed themselves with the apples and set out to seek the other treasures. It is long and long they were seeking them. They had foam of the Eastern World and foam of the Western World under their prow. They saw the Stars of the North and the Stars of the South and the Stars that are under the Sea. They were searching through the blackness of night and the redness of dawn and all the colours of the day. They knew the singing wave that lifts adventurers to the heights of the world and the silent wave that casts them down to the hollows. It is long they were seeking the treasures.
They got the Spear of Victory. They got the Magic Skin. They got the Hound. They got the Seven Swine. They got the Chariot. Their hearts were filled with pride and stubbornness.
Lugh, walking in Ireland by the sea, knew that the sons of Turann had the treasures, and he thought that they could too easily give the shouts on Midkena's hill and be free of the eric-fine. He made a spell of forgetfulness to bring them back and take from their minds the memory of Midkena's hill.
He stooped to lay the spell on the sea, and as he stooped a wave broke over his hands and a broken water-reed tangled itself in his fingers. He lifted up the reed and straightened it. He remembered the little well with the nine crystal bubbles, and the tenderness of the earth came into his heart.
"O little reed," he said, "I will give the sons of Turann a chance. I will make another spel: and if, when it reaches them, they remember the wrong they did the Earth, they will remember also the shouts on Midkena's hill."
He made a spell that had memory and forgetfulness in it and laid it on the sea, and it became a wave and travelled unbroken till it reached the boat of Mananaun. It rocked the boat softly, and the three sons of Turann remembered their father s house, but they had no sorrow for the wrong done to the earth, and forgetfulness of Midkena's hill came upon them.
"A good welcome would we have now if we were in our father's house," said Brian, "and good would it be in the morning to slip our hounds for the chase."
"And good would it be in the evening," said Urcar, "to hear the sound of harps in our father's house. Let us go back to Ireland."
"Go back to Ireland," said Brian to the OceanSweeper, and it leaped through the sea-foam towards the Sacred Land.
N a height that looked far over the sea stood Turann's watcher, his eyes on the horizon. Day and night, since the setting forth of Turann's sons, a watcher had stood there, looking seaward. Swift runners waited for his joy-shout, and beacon-fires stood ready for the flame. It was early morning, and the watcher saw the pale mists whiten and the sea stir itself and wrinkle. Suddenly a great star rose in the horizon--it flashed; and grew; and neared. The watcher knew the Ocean-Sweeper. He leaped high for gladness of heart, and shouted:
"They come! They come! Turann's Sons are returning!"
The cry was caught by the runners. They leaped and ran, and the joy-fires leaped and sparkled, blood-red in the paleness of morning. The joy-shout spread from mouth to mouth, and all that country rejoiced at the home-coming.
Turann went down to the edge of the sea to greet his sons, and Enya went with him and all the folk of the clan. Right glad were the three brothers to set their feet on Irish land. They showed the strange spoils, the marvellous. eric fine they had brought for Lugh, and all that saw them wondered.
News of the home-coming was sent to Lugh by swift messengers, and he said:
"Let the Sons of Turann come and count the eric-fine before me."
The sons of Turann came before him, and with them came singing men and singing women and swordsmen and chariots and horsemen.
Brian counted out the eric-fine before Lugh.
Then Lugh said: "Good are the things ye have brought, but ye have not brought the full eric. Where is the cooking-spit that is a flame under the sea-wave?"
Then recollection came upon the sons of Turann, and they cried out:
"We are undone! We have not given the Shouts on Midkena's hill--we have not the Flame that is under the sea-wave! "
Shame burnt in the faces of all their kinsfolk because the sons of Turann had not the full eric, and they said:
"Give the Ocean-Sweeper again, O Lugh, and the sons of Turann will pay the eric in full."
"Nay," said Lugh, "I lent the boat at first that the battle-loss of Cian might be made good in the great fight. The loss is made good." He bent his eyes on the sons of Turann, and said:
"Ye are here now because my spell has brought you. I laid a spell of forgetfulness upon the sea, but the earth put with it a spell of remembrance, and if ye had remembered the wrong ye did the Earth, ye would have remembered the shouts on Midkena's hill, and easily would ye have given them since ye had the Spear of Victory, the Skin of Healing, and the Apples of Life. Now ye must fare forth without these treasures and without the boat of Mananaun, and whatsoever ye win ye will win solely by the strength that is in yourselves."
Then said Brian: "It is well named you are, Lugh the Long-Handed. Your vengeful fingers have reached across the sea to grasp us, and they will not loose their hold till you have dragged us under the grave-mound!"
Turann would have spoken, but Brian said to him:
"Words are wasted, my Father; let us go."
Sorrowfully they went homeward, and their thoughts were on the pathless sea.
Turann made ready a boat for his sons; thick-planked and strong, a boat with crimson sails. He proffered them rowers and men at arms, but they refused, because they were going they knew not whither, and were under a curse.
They stepped into the boat, they spread the crimson sails, and as they slid away from the land, all their people made lamentation for them.
"The Eagles are going!" they wailed. "The High Noble-hearted Ones, the Three Flames on the hearth of Turann. The lights are quenched to-night in the chieftain's house!"
HE Sons of Turann went searching for the Island of Caer, the Land that is under the Sea-Wave. They heard tidings of it in many places, but no one knew where it could be found. Wise Druids told them that the Island was protected by the magic of Fand, the Sea-Queen, the daughter of Flidias, and no one who went there ever returned.
The sun had risen and set many times on the search. Brian, Urcar and Ur were weary; the wind had failed hem, and they were labouring at the, oars: it seemed to them that they would never find the Island of Caer.
"Let us rest a little," said Urcar, "for my strength is spent."
They rested from the oars, and Brian cast a line over the side of the boat. He drew up a fish, white as silver and covered with. crimson spots.
"Brother," said Ur, "your fish is purple-spotted like the Salmon that swims in Connla's Well and eats the crimson nuts of the Hazel of Knowledge: let him go free for sake of his beauty."
Brian threw the fish back to the water, and suddenly knowledge came to him, and he cried:
"I know that the Island of Caer is beneath us! "He jumped into the water and became a white stone, falling, falling, till he reached the Land that is Under the Sea. It was a goodly land and Brian took his own shape and walked through its starry meadows till he came to the Palace of the Guarded Flame. He entered it and found many beautiful maidens singing and broidering golden flowers on mantles for the daughter of Flidias. In the midst of them leaped and shone the Guarded Flame. Brian spoke no word when he entered and the maidens did not lift their eyes to look at him. He took the flame in his two hands and turned to leave the palace. The maidens burst out laughing.
"You are a brave man," they said, "and since the flame does not burn you, keep it. We have a flame for every day in the year, and you are the bravest champion and the handsomest that ever came to look at us broidering cloaks for the sea-queen."
"O Maidens," said Brian, "may every day in the year bring you fresh laughter and delight, and if good wishes can reach you from the country above the sea-floor ye will have mine every day I live, and farewell now, and my thousand blessings with you!"
He rose through the water till he came to where his brothers were and climbed into the boat. When the Flame came above the water it changed into a cooking-spit, and Brian laid it carefully in the boat.
"Our luck," he said, "is like sunshine in midwinter, soon come, soon gone. Let us hasten to Midkena's Hill."
On that side Midkena and his three sons were. It was a great fight that the sons of Turann made with the Champions of the Hill. They were like fierce eagles contending together, and like bulls whose tramplings shake the earth. The demons of the air and the fierce creatures that live under the earth gathered to watch them fighting--and no one ever travelled over the nine ridges of the world to look at a fight that was better than that fight. Brian and his brothers got the victory over Midkena and his sons. They left them dead on the hill, but they themselves had barely strength to give the three shouts. When they had given the shouts weakness came on them, and they fell down and could not rise. Then Ur saw the demons of the air that have no pity and the fierce ones from under the earth watching him, and he said:
"O my brothers, I would we were in our own country, lying on a hill-side there, for the Irish hills are gentle, and every wind that blows on them is full of peace."
"We have no part in Ireland," said Brian, "for we have broken the Great Oath."
"My grief! " said Urcar. "My bitter sorrow that we shall never see the Sacred Land again!"
While he spoke, a little wind came out of Ireland. It was very soft and gentle. It touched the sons of Turann, and there was so much healing in its touch that they rose up and stood on their feet.
"It is a wind surely from Ireland that has come to us," said Urcar, "let us make haste while we have strength and get to the boat."
They got down to the boat. They took the fastenings from it. They hoisted slowly the crimson sails, and the little wind strengthened itself and filled the sails and kept the boat before it till the hills of Ireland showed themselves like pale clouds.
"My blessing on the hills!" said Brian, and because he had the most strength he lifted up his brothers to get sight of the Irish land.
"It is good," they said, "to see Ben Edair: our eyes were never more glad of it, and let us steer now to the haven where our father's house is."
Turann's watcher saw them afar off and raised the shout for them, and their kinsfolk and comrades waded into the sea and drew the boat to land. They lifted up the sons of Turann and would have carried them into their father's dun, but Brian said to them:
"Lay us all three on the green grass, for we are hurt past any hope of healing, and send swift runners for Lugh that we may say to him before we die: 'The sons of Turann have paid you the full eric.' "
The three were laid on the green grass, and Enya, their sister, tended them, and the leeches and healers of their clan ministered unto them. Turann, their father, sat on the earth beside them: he was putting together, in his mind, words to say to Lugh.
When Lugh came, he was so fair and had such radiance about him that it seemed to every one he must have come newly out of Tir-nan-Oge.
Turann bowed himself before Lugh, and said:
"O Mighty One, my sons have paid your eric in full, and never since the mountains lifted their heads above the waters has such an eric been asked for or paid. Grant now the Skin of Healing, that my sons may live."
Lugh came to where the sons of Turann were lying. He looked at them. There was neither pity nor anger in his face.
"My brothers," he said, "life is either a king's robe or a beggar's cloak. Do ye desire to live?"
The sons of Turann raised themselves and their hero-souls came back to them, so that they stood on their feet and cared not for their wounds.
"Ildana," they said, "we salute you! Win victory for us in the Great Battle even as you will win it for Cian. We do not covet the beggar's robe."
They turned and took farewell of their father, and their sister, and their kinsfolk. And they knelt and kissed the sacred earth, and said:
"O Father, and O kinsfolk, entreat forgiveness for us from the earth, and friendly burial--even as we now entreat it for ourselves. Farewell. Make no lamentation for us."
But Turann and all his folk made a great lamentation.
N Tir-na-Moe, the Land of the Living Heart, Cian, son of Dian-Cecht, walked among the crimson lilies. His face was radiant and he had a branch with three golden apples in his hand. Faint sweet music was everywhere throughout that joyous country. Cian lifted up his eyes and saw the three sons of Turann approaching. They had the brightness of the morning about them and there was no wound on them. Cian went to meet them.
"Greeting," he said "and welcome to Moy Mell."
He gave to each of them a golden apple. And when Brian, Ur, and Urcar had tasted of those apples they knew everything that had ever happened in the world and everything that would happen. They knew that the Fomor would be defeated in the Great Battle: they knew the words of the Peace-Chant that Brigit would sing:
"Peace up to Heaven,
Heaven down to earth.
The earth under Heaven.
Strength to every one."
"O Cian, dear Comrade," said the sons of Turann, "it is not hard to wait for news of victory in Moy Mell."