A sentry stood guard at the gate and intercepted the messenger.
“The nobles of Ireland have a message for the High King. They are not in full agreement regarding the matter, but they have decided that they cannot attend the Great Feast this year until that particular matter is settled.”
“And what matter might that be?” the sentry asked.
“Some of the nobles feel the High King has taken far more than the king’s portion of land. Others of us are uncertain but know full well that the arrangement of Tara, just as the arrangement with all things within us and within our home provinces, must be guided by the proper order of things. However, none of us possesses the knowledge of this proper order, and thus we are uncertain about whether the king has taken more than his due for the manor of Tara. Until the manor of Tara is settled, partitioned, and resolved, and until we can discern – once again – the sacred alignment with which all must live in accordance, the nobles are forced to boycott the feast.”
The sentry raised an eyebrow. He knew the manor of Tara had always had the same defining boundaries as it did now – at least within his memory.
“Very well,” he replied and turned on his heel, moving quickly into the main compound at Tara. He passed through a shadow cast on the ground by one of the ramparts, giving the illusion that he had disappeared into thin air.
After several moments, four sentries returned, accompanied by one of the spokesmen for Diarmid mac Cerball, the High King.
“The king has heard your dispute. However, he does not feel that what you ask of him is fair. He knows of no ancient custom for dividing or partitioning the manor of Tara beyond the current arrangement. He does not feel that he can make a ruling on this matter without consulting the lore keepers.”
An older man with a graying beard spoke up in the group of chieftains and nobles: “We concur that consultations are required in this matter, for therein lies our disagreement. None of us knows what the proper order of things is meant to be. We implore the king to call forth those who hold this knowledge. Until this matter is settled, we cannot attend the feast.”
Many days passed, valuable days that could have been used preparing for the festivities. A number of learned men from various parts of Ireland were summoned to give counsel about the proper order of things, yet each time the summoned party would make the same remark: “I am not the one to rule on this matter. There is a far wiser one than I.”
In time, one of the individuals summoned to Tara announced to the High King and assembly, “There is only one man to whom you can turn in this matter. He is very old, very wise, and he knows the original sacred alignment that governed both the soul of the land and the souls of her people. Without that knowledge you cannot hope to resolve either the matter of the manor of Tara or the lack of harmony within each of you. The land and the soul are linked. You must seek out Fintan the Wise, a seer, poet, and a hermit who has lived through many ages, and in many shapes.”
When Fintan arrived at the assembly, the chieftains bowed at the regal sight of the old man. The young poets who had gathered to watch and record the historic event trembled, for they had heard all the days of their lives how Fintan was the wisest man on the island.
One of the chieftains whose lands bordered the High King’s, and who seemed particularly vested in having the matter addressed, suggested that Fintan take his place in the judge’s seat. The old forest hermit pounded his staff on the floor and admonished the noble with a voice like thunder, surprising a great many in the hall with the strength of his utterance, coming as it did from the body of such an old man.