* * * * *
“Rise up, then, ye champions!” says Ingcel, “and get you on to the house!”
With that the reavers march to the Hostel, and made a murmur about it.
“Silence a while!” says Conaire, “what is this?”
“Champions at the house,” says Conall Cernach.
“There are warriors for them here,” answers Conaire.
“They will be needed tonight,” Conall Cernach rejoins.
Then went Lomna Druth before the host of reavers into the Hostel. The doorkeepers struck off his head. Then the head was thrice flung into the Hostel, and thrice cast out of it, as he himself had foretold.
Then Conaire himself sallies out of the Hostel together with some of his people, and they fight a combat with the host of reavers, and six hundred fell by Conaire before he could get to his arms. Then the Hostel is thrice set on fire, and thrice put out from thence: and it was granted that the Destruction would never have been wrought had not work of weapons been taken from Conaire.
Thereafter Conaire went to seek his arms, and he dons his battle-dress, and falls to plying his weapons on the reavers, together with the band that he had. Then, after getting his arms, six hundred fell by him in his first encounter.
After this the reavers were routed. “I have told you,” says Fer rogain son of Donn Desa, “that if the champions of the men of Erin and Alba attack Conaire at the house, the Destruction will not be wrought unless Conaire’s fury and valour be quelled.”
“Short will his time be,” say the wizards along with the reavers. This was the quelling they brought, a scantness of drink that seized him.
Thereafter Conaire entered the house, and asked for a drink.
“A drink to me, O master Mac cecht!” says Conaire.
Says Mac cecht: “This is not the order that I have hitherto had from thee, to give thee a drink. There are spencers and cupbearers who bring drink to thee. The order I have hitherto had from thee is to protect thee when the champions of the men of Erin and Alba may be attacking thee around the Hostel. Thou wilt go safe from them, and no spear shall enter thy body. Ask a drink of thy spencers and thy cupbearers.”
Then Conaire asked a drink of his spencers and his cupbearers who were in the house.
“In the first place there is none,” they say; “all the liquids that had been in the house have been spilt on the fires.”
The cupbears found no drink for him in the Dodder (a river), and the Dodder had flowed through the house.
Then Conaire again asked for a drink. “A drink to me, O fosterer, O Mac cecht! ’Tis equal to me what death I shall go to, for anyhow I shall perish.”
Then Mac cecht gave a choice to the champions of valour of the men of Erin who were in the house, whether they cared to protect the King or to seek a drink for him.