the Coming of CuRuada the Red Son of Concubar

These fragments of the lore of Tir na Nua are presented raw, first draft, and unedited. I apologize for their original condition. However, my first priority is to capture sketches, so to speak, of the people and places of Tir na Nua. I have promised Free Celtic Fiction and before I can shape these sketches into more polished works I need to write these drafts. I share them, as they are, while I try to find the time to improve them. — LSO

 Read the beginning of this story: the Red Son of Concubar

 

the Coming of CuRuada the Red Son of Concubar

Nine days after Concubar’s tryst with the deer woman of the wood, the king was feasting in his great hall with his Red Branch warriors.  They would not leave off asking him about the woman and what was said between them.  Some of his men felt that it was good fortune and some were worried it was ill, but Concubar wished only that he could find the woman again.  How can I, Concubar thought, when I don’t even know her name?

Cathbad the, chief druid of Ulster, came into the hall in distress, “My lord Concubar, there is trouble on the hurley pitch.  The boys troop has cornered another boy and are beating him to death.”

Concubar sighed, “Boys will be boys, must I truly drag them from their prey?  What is this other boy to me?  Perhaps the troop has good cause.  Did you think of that Cathbad?”

“As to who the boy is, I can not say, but his cloak marks him as a prince and the broach upon it says he is the son of a king,”  said Cathbad, “And if you would know who he might be to you you’d best stop them soon or there will be no finding it out until the king, who is his father comes looking for his son.  I doubt he will be pleased.”

So the king rose from his couch and went to the hurley pitch with haste, all his warriors with him.  Now a king among the Gael must rule by right of a choosing.  He must be strong in body, perfect, and strong in voice so that his commands will be heard and obeyed. 

Concubar was without peer and his commands were always followed, so powerful was his voice.  So Concubar shouted with his commanding voice, “See here, stop beating that boy,”  said Concubar.

Even his command would not stop the boys.  So shocking was this that Concubar said not another word, but began to pull the boys off one at a time and throw them to his warriors, who’s sons they were.  When Concubar reached the bottom of the scrum he found Donall, the son of the champion, Cormac, and a little fellow with hair like flame of fire.

“Leave off you two! What is the meaning of this?”  shouted Concubar, and finally the boys stopped their struggles.  “What mischief are you all up to Donall?”

Donal answered, “This little fellow came and said that he wanted to play at hurley with us.  Nobody can play with the boy’s troop unless he be worthy, so we asked his name, but this little fellow would not say it, he claimed he was bound by his gesa not to give his name except to the king.”

Another boy piped up, “He wouldn’t say, so we told him he couldn’t play.  Then he stole our sliotar and carried it off to the goal.”

“Liar, I stole nothing, I only wanted to play.” said the little fellow.

“. . . so when he put the sliotar in the goal we confronted him.  Without permission and giving his name he should not play at hurley with the boys troop.” said Donall

“I have as much right as anyone here.” shouted the little fellow.

All the boys started to yell at that and curse him. “After that he attacked us.” said Donall

“Another lie! You pushed me down first.” howled the little red-haired boy.

“This one little boy attacked you?  All of you?” Asked the king.

“He is a demon or worse! He broke Felmid’s arm and who knows what else?” said Donall.

“This little fellow?” asked Concubar again, and the boys troop was shamed to silence.

Concubar set the two boys down.  He looked around at the boys, many of which had woundings and some who sat on the ground nursing broken bones, and the king wondered, who could this child be?

Concubar turned to the little fellow. “So boy, what is your name?”  he asked not unkindly.  He looked sternly in the boys face, but he found no fear there at all.

“I told them and I’ll tell you or anyone else, I can tell my name to none but the king, it is a gesa on me.”  Then it was that Concubar saw that the cloak he wore was outsized for one so small for it was a man’s cloak, a king’s cloak, indeed Concubar saw that it was his cloak pinned with his broach and on the childs hand was his ring.