This Monday I’m finally heading back to the Ulster Cycle, where I will now tell you the tale of Cu Chulainn’s training with the warrior woman Scathach.
In the last post about this, I told you about how Forgall really didn’t want Cu Chulainn marrying his daughter Emer, so he sent him off to the Isle of Skye to train, a journey which was supposed to be extremely dangerous. And he does encounter some obstacles along the way.
The first one is pretty soon after he arrives in Alba, which is currently known as Scotland. He comes across a fairly large lion that keeps blocking his path. Which is weird, considering that this is, you know, Scotland, a place not typically known for its lions, but whatever. It’s a myth, so I’ll just go with it. Eventually, though, he realizes that the creature wants to help him, so he jumps on its back and rides it for about four days.
This is up until some random stranger laughs at him and he decides he’d rather hoof it the rest of the way than look ridiculous. I don’t know, I’d think riding A FUCKING LION would actually look pretty rad. Well, different standards, I guess.
Anyway, he comes across a house that belongs to a princess that had stayed with Cu Chulainn’s family for a while as a child, who also decides to help him. She tells him that Forgall has laid a bunch of traps and monsters in his path, and tells him how he can avoid those. He thanks her, and continues on his way.
He makes it to Scathach’s island, and is happy to see that there are some friends of his who made their way there as well, most notably one Ferdia mac Daman. Ferdia warns him that to get to Scathach’s actual house, he has to cross an extremely long bridge. He’s like, “Well, that doesn’t sound too hard.”
Ferdia tells him that the bridge is also magic, and will try to throw him off of it through any means necessary. So, you know, it’s a little bit harder than just trying to walk across it.
Cu Chulainn decides he’s come this far, so he might as well give it a shot. He tries to cross the bridge, and it throws him off. He tries again, and of course, it throws him off again. This makes him so angry that it activates his superpowers and he just jumps across it in two mighty leaps.
Now, it should be noted that watching people try and fail to cross the bridge is high entertainment for the island’s inhabitants, so he has an audience for this little adventure. Part of that audience is Scathach’s daughter, who decides that Cu Chulainn is ridiculously hot, so she tells him what he needs to do to get her mother to accept him as a student.
And folks, what he ends up doing is kinda weird.
He goes to where Scathach is training her sons, ambushes her, sticks his sword in her cleavage, and demands she trains him. She’s pretty impressed by his gumption, and agrees.
So Scathach starts training Cu Chulainn, and things are going pretty well, at least until Scathach’s sister Aoife shows up.
Scathach and Aoife have a bit of a rivalry going. By which I mean Aoife wants to completely destroy Scathach and all she holds dear. Which isn’t great when Aoife and her retinue come across Scathach’s sons.
Schathach’s like, “Oh, shit, she’s gonna kill my kids,” and asks Cu Chulainn to take care of the situation. Which he does, by decapitating Aiofe’s three champions. Needless to say, this doesn’t please her, and she starts demanding that Scathach come down and face her.
Cu Chulainn asks Scathach to let him be her champion here, and then asks what Aoife holds most dear. She tells him that would be her chariot and horses. So he goes down there and shouts that Aoife’s chariot’s about to head over a cliff. Then, while she’s distracted by that, he grabs her, carries her to Scathach’s place, does the sword-in-cleavage thing, and demands she surrender.
She does, then decides that maybe the whole sibling rivalry thing isn’t worth it after all and makes peace with Scathach. She then becomes friends-with-benefits with Cu Chulainn during the rest of his training, during which he manages to knock her up. He’s pretty pleased with this, and tells her to give their son a ring, name him Connla, and tell him to seek him out when the ring fits his thumb.
So, he finishes his training, then heads off back to Ireland to claim his bride.
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