Fedelma and the Prince...
The youngest son of Connal, the King of Ireland was a wild and reckless thing. He lost his mother at an early age and was spoiled by the king. One day while out riding his horse, he ran across an old man playing cards with himself.
The old man offered a challenged to the young prince. Whichever would win in a game of cards could ask whatever they like from the other. The prince accepted and won the game. At first he declined anything from the old man believing he had nothing to offer, but the man insisted.
The prince, in fake seriousness, told the old that he wanted 50 cows with a red ear and a calf at each one’s side in seven acres that belonged to his father. The old man agreed, and the prince believing the man was a fool returned home.
The next morning he awoke to find 50 cows with a red ear and a calf at their side in the seven acres. His father demanded the cows be removed, but they would not disperse. His Chief Counselor said they were enchanted cows and should just be left alone.
Delighted at what the old man was able to do, the prince returned to where he had found him. He once again played a game of cards and won again. This time he asked that a bear would not allow his step-mother, whom he despised, to sit in her chair at the dinner table. Once again the old man came through.
On his third visit to the old man, the prince was not so lucky. This time he lost the game. The old man revealed himself to be the King of Ireland’s enemy. He told the prince that he must find out where he lived and take three hairs from his chamber within a year or be beheaded.
When the prince returned home, he eventually confessed everything to his father. His father asked his counselor whom the man could be, and the counselor replied he is the Enchanter of the Black-Back Lands. The counselor also said the prince must complete this task or be beheaded, and that if he did not Ireland would not produce crops; however, he had no idea where the prince should start.
The prince left out again. This time with a horse with a bad leg thanks to his step-mother, who refused him his good horse. He first encountered an eagle that was being strangled by an eel. He saved the eagle, who said her name was Laheen.
In debt to the prince she told him how he could find the Enchanter’s home. This led him to three women who could turn into swans. Laheen instructed him to steal the youngest maidens swanskin, upon which she would grant whoever returned it whatever they would like.
When he returned the swanskin to the young maiden, on hesitation she granted his wish. She gave him her blue falcon that would lead him to the Enchanter’s home on the condition that he must not know it was her who led the prince there and that he did not reveal his identity. She transformed back into a swan, told the prince her name was Fedelma, and flew away.
The blue falcon lead the prince to the Enchanter’s home. When he went inside there sat the old man, but he did not recognize the prince without his normal cohort of animals and nice clothing. He told the Enchanter he had just finished an internship with a wizard and would like to marry one of the Enchanter’s three daughters.
The Enchanter told him he could do so if he was able to complete three tasks. If he failed any one he would be beheaded.
The night before the first task, Fedelma snuck out to the prince and allowed him to get some sleep in a comfortable bed. She then awoke him before her father was awake so he could sneak back out.
The Enchanter set the first task to capture Whitefoot the Fawn, who was an incredibly swift fawn that would not come in with The Enchanter’s goats. Before the task Fedelma gave the prince food and her father’s Shoes of Swiftness that would allow him to catch the fawn and told him how to keep her captured.
The next day the prince was tasked to make a latch for the Enchanter’s bee hive with feathers. He set off into the moor but only shot one bird. Then Fedelma came with food and drink. When she learned what the task was, she had her blue falcon get the feathers, but the prince would have to gather them and make the latch. The Enchanter saw the latched door at sunset and told the prince he must have trained under a great wizard.
On the third day, the Enchanter came to the prince with his third task. This time he must collect the Ring of Youth from the bottom of a well. This time when Fedelma came to the prince she was filled with dread because of this task. She told the prince he must kill her and use her bones to make steps down to collect the ring. After he collected the ring, he must put her bones back exactly the way they were and place the ring on her chest. This would bring her back to life.
Hesitant the prince did what she said. When Fedelma came back to life, she said everything except for her small finger was in place. She showed the prince her crooked finger.
After the prince completed the task, he told the Enchanter he wanted what he asked for. The Enchanter told the prince that his three daughters were all in the same room. He would have to put his hand in a hole to the room and the hand he chose would be his bride.
The prince did as he was told. After feeling of each daughter’s hand, he felt the crooked finger he knew to belong to Fedelma. He opened the door and claimed her for his bride.
Then the Enchanter told them to go and he hoped no other greatly trained wizards would arrive. On this the prince announced who he was, and before the Enchanter knew what was happening he grabbed three hairs from his beard.
The prince and Fedelma left this land and were married.