He came to where turrets and pinnacles appeared above the mist. He climbed the rock upon which the Castle was built. He came to the first gate, and as he did the plover that was on the third pinnacle above rose up and flew round the Castle with sharp cries.
He raised a fragment of the ground-rock and flung it against the gate. He burst it open. He dashed in then and through the first courtyard of the Castle.
As he went towards the second gate it was flung open, and the five spear-men ran upon him. But they had not counted on what was to face them--the Sword of Light in the bands of the King of Ireland's Son.
Its stroke cut the spear heads from the spear-holds, and its quick glancing dazzled the eyes of the spear-men. On each and every one of them it inflicted the wound of death. He dashed through the second gate and into the third courtyard.
But as he did the third gate was flung open and seven swordsmen came forth. They made themselves like a half circle and came towards the King of Ireland's Son. He dazzled their eyes with a wide sweep of his sword. He darted it swiftly at each of them and on the seven swordsmen too he inflicted wounds of death.
He went through the third courtyard and towards the fourth gate. As he did it opened slowly and a single champion came forth. He closed the gate behind him and stood with a long gray sword in his hand. This was the King of the Land of Mist. His shoulders were where a tall man's head would be. His face was like a stone, and his eyes had never looked except with scorn upon a foe.
When his enemy began his attack the King of Ireland's Son had power to do nothing else but guard himself from that weighty sword. He had the Sword of Light for a guard and well did that bright, swift blade guard him. The two fought across the courtyard making hard places soft and soft places hard with their trampling. They fought from when it was early to when it was noon, and they fought from when it was noon until it was long afternoon. And not a single wound did the King of Ireland's Son inflict upon the King of the Land of Mist, and not a single wound did the King of the Land of Mist inflict upon him.
But the King of Ireland's Son was growing faint and weary. His eyes were worn with watching the strokes and thrusts of the sword that was battling against him. His arms could hardly bear up his own sword. His heart became a stream of blood that would have gushed from his breast.
And then, as he was about to fall down with his head under the sword of the King of the Land of Mist a name rose above all his thoughts--"Fedelma." If he sank down and the sword of the King of the Land of Mist fell on him, never would she be saved. The will became strong again in the King of Ireland's Son. His heart became a steady beating thing. The weight that was upon his arms passed away. Strongly he held the sword in his hand and he began to attack the King of the Land of Mist.
And now he saw that the sword in the hand of his enemy was broken and worn with the guard that the Sword of Light had put against it. And now he made a strong attack. As the light was leaving the sky and as the darkness was coming down he saw that the strength was waning in the King of the Land of Mist. The sword in his hand was more worn and more broken. At last the blade was only a span from the hilt. As he drew back to the gate of the fourth courtyard the King of Ireland's Son sprang at him and thrust the Sword of Light through his breast. He stood with his face becoming exceedingly terrible. He flung what remained of his sword, and the broken blade struck the foot of the King of Ireland's Son and pierced it. Then the King of the Land of Mist fell down on the ground before the fourth gate.
So weary from his battles, so pained with the wound of his foot was the King of Ireland's Son that he did not try to cross the body and go towards the fifth gate. He turned back. He climbed down the rock and went towards the River of the Broken Towers.
The Glashan was broiling on a hot stone the eel he had taken out of the river. "Wash my wound and give me refreshment, Glashan," said the King of Ireland's Son.
The Glashan washed the wound in his foot and gave him a portion of the broiled eel with cresses and water.
"To-morrow's dawn I shall go back," said the King of Ireland's Son, "and go through the fifth and sixth and seventh gate and take away Fedelma."
"If the King of the Land of Mist lets you," said the Glashan.
"He is dead," said the King of Ireland's Son, "I thrust my sword through his breast."
"And where is his head?" said the Glashan.
"It is on his corpse," said the King of Ireland's Son.
"Then you will have another fight to-morrow. His life is in his head, and his life will come back to him if you did not cut it off. It is he, I tell you, who will guard the fourth and fifth and sixth gate."
"That I do not believe, Glashan," said the King of Ireland's Son. "There is no one to guard the gates now but the Hag you spoke of. To-morrow I shall take Fedelma out of her captivity, and we will both leave the Land of Mist. But I must sleep now."
He laid the Sword of Light beside him, stretched himself on the ground and went to sleep. The Glashan drew his horse's legs under him, took the pipe out of his ear, and smoked all through the night.