The Poetic Annals of Saint Finlay, as recited by Bards of the Principality of Ardena
Tale of Finlay
Finlay and the Fooar - From Hunter to Fooarsbane
Finlay the hunter lived with his sister in a lonely blackhouse among the Sylvan Mountains, and near at hand there was a Fooar; a giant son of the Great Hag Throff. This Fooar, Spagnum, lived in a cave of riches and was very old and fierce and cunning. Every day that Finlay went out to hunt he warned his sister, saying: "Do not open the windows on the north side of the house, for that is where the Fooar's cave lies, nor let the fire go out as the savage Giant will welcome the cold." However, his sister did not always heed Finlay's warning. One day she shut the windows on the south side of the house, and opened those on the north side, and allowed the fire to go out, wondering what would happen. She had not long to wait, though, for a young handsome man with lightning-patterned skin and a curly mop of hair resembling red peat moss came towards the house and entered it. The young man was comely and spoke pleasantly to Finlay's sister over some time. They became very friendly as the visits occurred more frequently, and Spagnum made the foolish girl promise not to tell her brother of his visits.
One day when Finlay was returning from a hunt he spotted a little shieling in a place where no shieling used to be. He walked towards it and entered, wondering who might dwell within. There, he saw senex sitting on the floor, and he bade Finlay welcome; "Sit down," the senex said, "For you are Finlay who will be king." "That is true I am Finlay," replied he; "Though I am not of royal blood so you must be mistaken, who are you and whence come you?" "I am never mistaken, oh King Finlay, for I am Hindsight who is betrothed to Foresight," the old man answered. "I have come here to protect and guide you. Alas! you do not know that you are in danger of your life. A Fooar has bewitched your sister, and is waiting to kill you this very day with a sharp blue sword."
"Alas!" cried Finlay, who sorrowed to think of his sister. Being forewarned, the hunter was prepared, and noticed the smell of petrichor despite it not having rained. When he returned home he set his fierce dog on the Fooar, and threw a pot of boiling water over him. Spagnum fled shrieking northward towards his cave, and Finlay's sister followed him. Then Finlay was left alone in the house. His heart shook with terror because he feared that Spagnum would return to avenge the injury done to him. The door was shut and securely barred, and the fire glowed bright and warm, yet he shivered with the coldness of terror. He listened long and anxiously, and at length heard a growing noise like distant thunder. Stones rumbled down the hillside as the Fooar raced back, and when he entered a bog the mud splashed heavily against the cliffs. Finlay knew then that Spagnum was coming, and ere long he heard his voice roaring outside the door: "Tis quite rude to keep a door shut against a stranger. Open and let me in." Though he did not wait for Finlay to answer, but burst the door open with a blow. The hunter stood behind the fire which burned in the middle of the room, his bow in his hand and an arrow ready. He fired as the Fooar entered, but did not kill him. Spagnum shrieked and leapt towards Finlay, but the dog made fierce attack. Then the hunter shot another arrow from his bow and forced the Fooar into retreat.
Next morning Finlay hastened to the shieling of Hindsight. "Well, valiant lad," he exclaimed, "how fared it with you last night?" Finlay told him all that had taken place, and explained that it was owing to the help given him by the dog he was able to harry the Fooar. "There is need of the dog," the senex explained, "but you will need more help. Here, take these gauntlets imbued with the strength of Giantkin named after myself and my spouse." That evening Finlay again sat alone in his house, wondering what would happen next. No did night come on than he heard a noise like distant thunder, but much louder than on the night before. Great boulders rumbled down the hill-side, and mud splashed on the cliffs. Spagnum once more burst the door open, and as he did so the house shook. Finlay feared the roof was about to fall upon him, but he feared more when he beheld the Fooar scarred and snarling. He drew his bow and shot an arrow. The Fooar paused. Finlay shot a second arrow, which, like the first, wounded Spagnum, but did not kill him. Then the hunter drew his sword and smote him heavily, but his wounds were not mortal. The Fooar stretched out his grisly hands to seize Finlay, but Finlay fought back with the strength of the gauntlets, and a fierce struggle took place between mortal man and a Fooar's one arm, but in the end Finlay triumphed, and Spagnum was harried once more.
Next morning the hunter went to the shieling of the senex, and told him of the night of terror and the long and deadly combat. "The dog," Finlay said, "helped me. But without the gauntlets I should have been overcome." Said Hindsight: "There is need for the dog, but the day of their greatest need has yet to come. Tonight I shall go with you and your dog to the Fooar's cave. I will take mine own magic staff with me, though you will need this fabric soaked in the lost eye of the Great Hag, to be worn around your waist for added strength." When darkness came on the three went to the cave. They set to work and gathered armfuls of dry heather, which they heaped up at the cave mouth and set on fire, so that the Fooar within might be choked by the fumes and scorched by the flames. Soon Spagnum crawled to the mouth of the cave, panting heavily. He came through the smoke dazed and half blinded.
Finlay drew his bow and said: "I will shoot." "Do not shoot," Hindsight warned him. "A further wound would only make him fiercer as you know, and the dogs would be of no use to you among the fire. If Spagnum is allowed to escape out of the flare, the dogs would not see him in the darkness. I shall strike him with my staff. I can strike once only, and if I fail he will strike the next blow with the sharp blue sword which is in his hand." The Fooar scattered the fire to get out of the cave, but afore he could rise Hindsight smote him on the head with his magic staff, and he fell down pleading. "Oh! let me rise to my feet," cried Spagnum, who had no power to struggle when he lay on the ground with FInlay pinning him down. Finlay refused the request, though allowed the Fooar to plead a ransom. "I have a trunk of gold and a trunk of silver in my cave. You shall get both," he answered. Said Finlay: "Having overcome you, these are mine already." "I will give you a great hammer of thunder which is in my cave," the Fooar then promised. "He who wields this magic weapon will overcome any man or any beast in the world."
Said Finlay: "Your hammer is mine already by right of conquest. What else have you to offer for ransom?" "Alas!" the Great Old Spagnum cried, "I have naught else to give you." Said Finlay: "Then you shall die. The realm will be well rid of you." With a single strike, Finlay became the Fooarsbane and entered the cave. Within they found his sister, though she had perished in her cave prison. Finlay took out all the treasure that was in the cave, and carried it to the shieling of the senex. There, he tested the hammer. He threw it twenty feet into the air and heard its thunderclap throughout the glen. "This is wonderful," Finlay exclaimed, "Truly the work of a Dwarf of Cyclops." "It is indeed wonderful," said Hindsight. Then he told him that he must visit the king next day and inform him of all that had taken place, and he made him take a vow to apologise to the senex in three years time for the first words Finlay spoke to him calling him a liar.
Next day Finlay set out to the palace of the king. When he reached it he bade the royal servants inform the king that the fierce Fooar had been slain. Said the king: "Let the valiant hero come within." Finlay, however, declined to enter the palace, and sent him word, saying: "I dare not enter your palace, as I am only a commoner blood of mud." The king came outside and spoke to Finlay, saying: "Come within. I shall give you my daughter, the princess, in marriage. You shall also have half of my kingdom as long as I live, and the remainder shall be yours when I die." Thus came Finlay the Fooarsbane to become a Prince of the Glen, who would lead his people to greatness again and again.
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