“See you there,” asked CuRuada, “I see a man at the fording place. What mischief might he be at here at the West gate of Ulster?”
“Not hard to learn,” shouted Felmid, “and with a whoop, he set the team to racing, the chariot leaping down the fall to the Ash Ring.”
“This is like to be trouble,” said Fionn to Conall.
“How could it be other?” said Conall, his face set hard and grim. “Let us go quickly lest that youth leads all these others to death.” Nodding Fionn set the whip to their team and they started down behind CuRuada and the other two chariots.
The young men of the boys troop of Ulster rode down to the banks of the fording place of the White Dash shouting their battle crys and displaying their martial abilities. As they went, at their head both in order and in ferocity, was CuRuada. He it was who rode the chariot pole between the team and displayed his spear throwing skills and his spear catching skills as they went.
Felmid drew up at the edge of the water with the left side of the chariot to the man standing across the fording place at the edge of the pool of the Ash Circle. CuRuada leaped from the chariot and stood in the waters edge facing the man who calmly leaned on his spear with his sheild resting under his hand. “Who are you that stand at the West Gate of Ulster?” He shouted across the way. But the man made no answer nor any move save to spit casually into the river at his feet.
“Hey you! Speak or I’ll come and remove you from the way and your head from your shoulders,” shouted CuRuada.
“A mighty boast for an Ulster brat. Aren’t you from the famous boys troop that play well at hurley and prance around patting each other on the back?” The thick armed man in mail that looked like the scales of a fish laughed low in his throat, but there was no humor in his eyes and he made no more move save to taunt, “Any idiot but an Ulster idiot would see that I’m not standing at the West gate of Ulster at all. You can be glad of that. I’m standing here, guarding the East gate of the Tenth part of Airgialla. Go on home to your nursemaids Ulster boys you’ve not the stomach for this, nor any fur on your balls either I’ll warrant.
Rinnchu stepped from his chariot and called, “Who’s the idiot? Everyone knows that there are but nine parts of Airgialla and that it lays South of Ulster, not to the West.”
“Is that so? Don’t look now, soft-headed Ulster welp, we are surrounding you!” The man at the ford laughed a nasty laugh, “Are there any men at all among you? I thought I might have to call for help, but I only see a pack of boys.” The man shaded his eyes and made a show of scanning the ridgeline, “Did you bring your mothers? I’d like to meet them, seeing all you pretty boys.”
This taunt brought all the boys but Conall and Fionn out of their chariots and hot to fight, throwing insults back across the White Dash. The man ponderously slipped his arm into the straps of his heavy sheild and made ready his spear, “Very well, I know you Ulster bleaters are going to want to rush me all at once, since any idiot knows that a fair fight in Ulster is ten ‘gainst one. I’ll probably need my sheild. Right, well come on boys, come get your whipping.”
“Hold up!” cried Conall, “don’t you know who that is? That’s Fer Ulli, the champion of the Airgialla.”
“I know him for a fact,” said Fionn, “He’s the one that Concubar forced their king to excile when we defeated them and took the king captive. Only Fer Ulli and the sons of Nechtan were not defeated, they only withdrew when we compelled their king to send them away. I was there, he killed many many good men. His armor is impenetrable and he is a demon with that spear of his.”
“What are you chatting about girls? Come now Ulsterlings, my spear is thirsty.” Then the man began to wade into the stream, “Uh oh, now you’ve done it, here comes the bear at the precious West gate of Ulster. What will the boys troop do?”
“I claim this combat. I will face this mocker.” Thus saying CuRuada charged into the ford.”
“Tell me your name boy!” Shouted Fer Ulli, “I like to keep track of all the Ulster boys I kill.”
“You’ll have no name from me but CuRuada. I can say my true name to the King alone. You are little better than filth so you’ll have to do with that.”
“Red haired hound? Little fox is more like it. You came a long way to die little fox.”
“You talk too much. I’m going to let all the air out of you.”
“Defend yourself if you can little fox. I’ll make you famous.”
“You’ll never know the tenth part of my fame.”
“Oh? Why is that?”
“You’ll not know anything beyond today.”