“Easy for me to liken him,” says Fer rogain. No “conflict without a king” this. He is the most splendid and noble and beautiful and mighty king that has come into the whole world. He is the mildest and gentlest and most perfect king that has come to it, even Conaire son of Eterscel. ’Tis he that is overking of all Erin. There is no defect in that man, whether in form or shape or vesture: whether in size or fitness or proportion, whether in eye or hair or brightness, whether in wisdom or skill or eloquence, whether in weapon or dress or appearance, whether in splendour or abundance or dignity, whether in knowledge or valour or kindred.
“Great is the tenderness of the sleepy simple man till he has chanced on a deed of valour. But if his fury and his courage be awakened when the champions of Erin and Alba are at him in the house, the Destruction will not be wrought so long as he is therein. Six hundred will fall by Conaire before he shall attain his arms, and seven hundred will fall by him in his first conflict after attaining his arms. I swear to God what my tribe swears, unless drink be taken from him, though there be no one else in the house, but he alone, he would hold the Hostel until help would reach it which the man would prepare for him from the Wave of Clidna and the Wave of Assaroe while ye are at the Hostel.”
[Footnote 9: In the bay of Glandore, co. Cork.—W.S.]
[Footnote 10: At Ballyshannon, co. Donegal.—W.S.]
“Nine doors there are to the house, and at each door a hundred warriors will fall by his hand. And when every one in the house has ceased to ply his weapon, ’tis then he will resort to a deed of arms. And if he chance to come upon you out of the house, as numerous as hailstones and grass on a green will be your halves of heads and your cloven skulls and your bones under the edge of his sword.
“’Tis my opinion that he will not chance to get out of the house. Dear to him are the two that are with him in the room, his two fosterers, Dris and Snithe. Thrice fifty warriors will fall before each of them in front of the Hostel and not farther than a foot from him, on this side and that, will they too fall.”
“Woe to him who shall wreak the Destruction, were it only because of that pair and the prince that is between them, the over-king-of Erin, Conaire son of Eterscel! Sad were the quenching of that reign!” says Lomna Druth, son of Donn Desa.
“Ye cannot,” says Ingcel. “Clouds of weakness are coming to you,” etc.
“Good cause hast thou, O Ingcel,” says Lomna son of Donn Desa. “Not unto thee is the loss caused by the Destruction: for thou wilt carry off the head of the king of another country, and thyself will escape. Howbeit ’tis hard for me, for I shall be the first to be slain at the Hostel.”
“Alas for me!” says Ingcel, “peradventure I shall be the frailest corpse,” etc.
“And whom sawest thou afterwards?”