The four youths left the Castle and Downal and Dermott took their own way when they came to the foot-bridge that was across the river. Then when they were crossing it the King's Son and Flann saw two figures--a middle-aged, sturdy man and an old, broken-looking woman--meet before the Bull's Field. "It is the Gobaun Saor," said the King's Son. "It is the Spae-Woman," said Flann. They went to them, each wishing to greet his friend and helper.
There they saw a sturdy, middle-aged man and a broken-looking old woman. But the woman looking on the man saw one who had full wisdom to plan and full strength to build, whose wisdom and whose strength could neither grow nor diminish. And the man looking on the woman saw one whose brow had all quiet, whose heart had all benignity. "Hail, Gobaun, Builder for the Gods," said the woman. "Hail, Grania Oi, Reconciler for the Gods," said the man.
Then the two youths came swiftly up to them, and the King's Son greeted the middle-aged man, and Flann kissed the hands of the old woman.
"What of your search, King's Son?" said the Gobaun Saor.
"I have found the Unique Tale, but not what went before nor what comes after it," said the King's Son.
"I will clear the Sword of Light of its stain when you bring me the whole of the Unique Tale," said the Gobaun Saor.
"I would search the whole world for it," said the King's Son. "But now the time is becoming short for me."
"Be quick and active," said the Gobaun Saor. "I have set up my forge," said he, "outside the town between two high stones. When you bring the whole of the Tale to me I shall clear your sword."
"Will you not tell him, Gobaun Saor," said the Spae-Woman, "where he may find the one who will tell him the rest of the story?"
"If he sees one he knows in this town," said the Gobaun Saor, "let him mount a horse he has mounted before and pursue that one and force him to tell what went before and what comes after the Unique Tale."
Saying this the Gobaun Saor turned away and walked along the road that went out of the town.
The Spae-Woman had brought besoms to the town to sell. She showed the two youths the little house she lived in while she was there. It was filled with the heather-stalks which she bound together for besoms.
They left the Spae-Woman and went through the town, the King of Ireland's Son searching every place for a man he knew or a horse he had mounted before, while Flann thought about the Princess Flame-of-Wine, and how little she considered him beside the King's Son and Dermott and Downal. They came to where a crowd was standing before a conjurer's booth. They halted and stood waiting for the conjurer to appear. He came out and put a ladder standing upright with nothing to lean against and began climbing up. Up, up, up, he went, and the ladder grew higher and higher as he climbed. Flann thought he would climb into the sky. Then the ladder got smaller and smaller and Flann saw the conjurer coming down on the other side. "He has come here to take that horse," said a voice behind the King of Ireland's Son.
The King's Son looked round, and on the outskirts of the crowd he saw a man with a hare-skin cap and a protruding eye who was holding a reddish horse, while he watched the conjuror. The King of Ireland's Son knew the horse--it was the Slight Red Steed that had carried him and Fedelma from the Enchanter's house and had brought him to the Cave where he had found the Sword of Light. He looked at the conjuror again and he saw he was no other than the Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands. Then it crossed his mind what the Gobaun Saor had said to him.
He had seen a man he knew and a horse he had mounted before. He was to mount that horse, follow the man, and force him to tell the rest of the Unique Tale.
The King's Son drew back to the outskirts of the crowd. He snatched the bridle from the hands of Mogue, the man who held it, and jumped up on the back of the Slight Red Steed.
As soon as he did this the ladder that was standing upright fell on the ground. The people shouted and broke away. And then the King's Son saw the Enchanter jump across a house and make for the gate of the town.
But if he could jump across a house so could the Slight Red Steed. The King's Son turned its head, plucked at its rein, and over the same house it sprang too. The more he ran the more swift the Enchanter The Town of the Red Castle i99 became. He jumped over the gate of the town, the Slight Red Steed after him. He went swiftly across the country, making high springs over ditches and hedges. No other steed but the Slight Red Steed could have kept its rider in sight of him.