‘What man have you to meet Cú Chulainn tomorrow?’ said Lugaid.
‘They will give it to you tomorrow,’ said Mane, son of Ailill.
‘We can find no one to meet him,’ said Medb. ‘Let us have peace with him till a man be sought for him.’
They get that then.
‘Whither will you send,’ said Ailill, ‘to seek that man to meet Cú Chulainn?’
‘There is no one in Ireland who could be got for him,’ said Medb, ‘unless Curoi Mac Dare can be brought, or Nadcrantail the warrior.’
There was one of Curoi’s followers in the tent. ‘Curoi will not come,’ said he; ‘he thinks enough of his household has come. Let a message be sent to Nadcrantail.’
Mane Andoi goes to him, and they tell their tale to him.
‘Come with us for the sake of the honour of Connacht.’
‘I will not go,’ said he, ‘unless Findabair be given to me.’ He comes with them then. They bring his armour in a chariot, from the east of Connacht till it was in the camp.
‘You shall have Findabair,’ said Medb, ‘for going against that man yonder.’
‘I will do it,’ said he.
Lugaid comes to Cú Chulainn that night.
‘Nadcrantail is coming to meet you tomorrow; it is unlucky for you: you will not withstand him.’
‘That does not matter,’ said Cú Chulainn …1
Nadcrantail goes next morning from the camp, and he takes nine spits of holly, sharpened and burned. Now Cú Chulainn was there catching birds, and his chariot near him. Nadcrantail throws a spear at Cú Chulainn; Cú Chulainn performed a feat on to the point of that spear, and it did not hinder him from catching the birds. The same with the eight other spears. When he throws the ninth spear, the flock flies from Cú Chulainn, and he went after the flock. He goes on the points of the spears like a bird, from each spear to the next, pursuing the birds that they should not escape. It seemed to every one, however, that it was in flight that Cú Chulainn went before Nadcrantail.
‘Your Cú Chulainn yonder,’ said he, ‘has gone in flight before me.’
‘That is of course,’ said Medb; ‘if good warriors should come to him, the wild boy would not resist —.’
This vexed Fergus and the Ulstermen; Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe comes from them to remonstrate with Cú Chulainn.
‘Tell him,’ said Fergus, ‘it was noble to be before the warriors while he did brave deeds. It is more noble for him,’ said Fergus, ‘to hide himself when he flees before one man, for it were not greater shame to him than to the rest of Ulster.’
‘Who has boasted that?’ said Cú Chulainn.
‘Nadcrantail,’ said Fiacha.
‘Though it were that that he should boast, the feat that I have done before him, it was no more shame to me,’(?) said Cú Chulainn. ‘He would by no means have boasted it had there been a weapon in his hand. You know full well that I kill no one unarmed. Let him come tomorrow,’ said Cú Chulainn, ‘till he is between Ochaine and the sea, and however early he comes, he will find me there, and I shall not flee before him.’
Cú Chulainn came then to his appointed meeting-place, and he threw the hem [of his cloak] round him after his night-watch, and he did not perceive the pillar that was near him, of equal size with himself. He embraced it under his cloak, and placed it near him.
Therewith Nadcrantail came; his arms were brought with him in a wagon.
‘Where is Cú Chulainn?’ said he.
‘There he is yonder,’ said Fergus.
‘It was not thus he appeared to me yesterday,’ said Nadcrantail. ‘Are you Cú Chulainn?’
‘And if I am then?’ said Cú Chulainn.
‘If you are indeed,’ said Nadcrantail, ‘I cannot bring the head of a little lamb to camp; I will not take the head of a beardless boy.’
‘It is not I at all,’ said Cú Chulainn. ‘Go to him round the hill.’
Cú Chulainn comes to Loeg: ‘Smear a false beard on me,’ said he; ‘I cannot get the warrior to fight me without a beard.’ It was done for him. He goes to meet him on the hill.
‘I think that more fitting,’ said he.
‘Take the right way of fighting with me,’ said Nadcrantail.
‘You shall have it if only we know it,’ said Cú Chulainn.
‘I will throw a cast at you,’ said Nadcrantail, ‘and do not avoid it.’
‘I will not avoid it except on high,’ said Cú Chulainn.
Nadcrantail throws a cast at him; Cú Chulainn leaps on high before it.
‘You do ill to avoid my cast,’ said Nadcrantail.
‘Avoid my throw then on high,’ said Cú Chulainn.
Cú Chulainn throws the spear at him, but it was on high, so that from above it alighted in his crown, and it went through him to the ground.
‘Alas! it is you are the best warrior in Ireland!’ said Nadcrantail. ‘I have twenty-four sons in the camp. I will go and tell them what hidden treasures I have, and I will come that you may behead me, for I shall die if the spear is taken out of my head.’
‘Good,’ said Cú Chulainn. ‘You will come back.’
Nadcrantail goes to the camp then. Every one comes to meet him.
‘Where is the madman’s head?’ said every one.
‘Wait, O heroes, till I tell my tale to my sons, and go back that I may fight with Cú Chulainn.’
He goes thence to seek Cú Chulainn, and throws his sword at Cú Chulainn. Cú Chulainn leaps on high, so that it struck the pillar, and the sword broke in two. Then Cú Chulainn went mad as he had done against the boys in Emain, and he springs on his shield therewith, and struck his head off. He strikes him again on the neck down to the navel. His four quarters fall to the ground. Then Cú Chulainn said this:
‘If Nadcrantail has fallen,
It will be an increase to the strife.
Alas! that I cannot fight at this time With Medb with a third of the host.’