… “Has Goll tried his hand at it?” asked Fin.
“Goll has tried his hand, and Conan Maul before him, and the king too. They have all chanced their arm and they have all slept.”
“Slept?” said Fin, aghast.
“Aye, slept,” said Daatho, “slept like bairns that have been sung a lullaby.”
“When Alain, the son of Mithna, comes he brings the music of sleep with him on his Fairy Harp. Men in the throes of torture would sleep at the sound of it. The hounds in their kennels sleep. The vermin in the fields sleep. All sleep until Alain has once more burned Tara to the ground. No sword he brings that one, but the sleep-strain of the Crafty-Folk.
“If Cuill, son of Trenmore were still here he might find himself in need of a sword,” said Fin, grimly.
“Cuill, who failed to keep his own head upon his haughty shoulders,” countered Daatho.
“Who treats the name of Cuill, son of Trenmore, so lightly,” bristled Fin.
“One who benefited from his largesse on more than one occasion,” said Daatho, “but if you wish to speak with a clansman of Cuill’s youth, then there hobbles yer man.”
Just then a large, heavy limbed man, bowed but not cowed by age was walking lamely along the road.
“That man,” said Daatho, “is Fiachna, son of Conga, a man still loyal to Cuill’s memory. Rather than submit to the sway of Goll he lives a pauper’s life in a lonely hut.
“I would speak with that man,” said Fin. …