The Door-Keeper Speaks…
Who is this young warrior who came late to the gate of Tara, after the feasting was begun?
Who is this fine and shining youth who stood before me, Camall Mac Riagail, gate-keeper of the Túatha Dé?
Oh, he was pleasant to look upon, his cloak threaded with gold. He was tall and bright as a golden spear, but proud. He stood before me, confident in his waiting.
But I was the gate-keeper of Tara and no less noble than he. I had no cause to admit one so tardy. But I am Camall Mac Riagail, and I will bend my rules if I am minded to do so; and the young warrior did please me, despite his gilded arrogance.
The game of wits began, the boy boasting his skills, with bold assurance.
“Have you need,” he asked, “of the best of shipwrights, the most cunning of smiths, the champion of warriors or the most glorious of harpers?”
I answered him, lightly, for it seemed certain that this youngling could not outstrip the seasoned craft masters within.
The game continued, and he, undaunted. Warrior, poet, sorcerer, brazier, physician, cupbearer; he could, he crowed, outshine them all. But I returned each challenge with the exalted names now seated within the feasting hall.
Then came the curved spear-throw that won him the game. “Have you one amongst you who is master of all these skills?” he demanded, his eyes opening sunrise-bright.
“No, young cub,” I replied, smiling. “And for your wit and grace and your morning beauty, you may enter. For you, I will bend my rule.”
So the young man passed into the hall, and somehow, the day was darker outside.
Who is this young man who has taken to himself the name of “Ildánach”, the many-crafted one?
This boy without blemish, this youth with a king’s confidence; what does he want?
For he entered Tara like a spear-shaft of sunlight on a mist-wreathed morning.
And he made good his boasts, banished our champions in strength and art.
Another golden youth to lead us?
Another born in glittering secret dalliance?
Another of joined bloodline?
Another chosen one?
And had Bres, the beautiful, the chosen, lead us so well?
No! We had groaned under tribute to our Fomoire foe, and would again if battle did not come quickly.
Now, this newcomer, this outsider, offers us a new glory.
He shall have his thirteen days rule, this Ildánach, and may this glorious child lead us, in wisdom, to victory.
The Dagda speaks …
This bright boy, tricky as a sunbeam;
This bright boy, born to kill his grandfather;
This bright boy who has ridden the sunflash of wave on water;
This bright boy who has won us treasure through cruelty;
This bright boy who has been hidden to our eyes for so long;
What is he to us?
What is he to this land?
Can he shape the mountains or smooth the pastures?
Can he mate with the song of the waters?
Can he call stories to cry from the stones?
Yet we shall guard him for his boldness,
Keep safe his beauty,
Secure his renown.
For he will fulfil his destiny, and ours;
Victory, and a new world.
Where did he come from, this lithe lynx of a boy?
How did he come upon me, blinding me like sudden sunlight in shadow?
This upstart child who threatens me with prophecy, who threatens my place in this land.
I believed I was rid of him, believed him drowned.
I will be rid of him, and it is my eye that will remain to gaze upon this land, or else leave it in poisoned ruin.
Come, my captains, make fast the island to your ships, and we will tow it northwards to the burning isles of ice and gloom.
There, it shall be ours.
And yet, this morning, it seemed to me that the sun rose in the west, so bright was the shining of this sleek boy, this warrior, this singer of sunlight, this golden Lugh.