In the third volume, Dathi’s life mission is resolved and he meets his destiny, in action that ranges from Wales to Ravenna to Constantinople and from Tyre to Alexandria to Tara. It includes personalities like Stilicho the Vandal,Field Marshal of the Armies of the Western Empire, Moshe, an elder of the Jewish diaspora in Egypt, Bishop Cyril of Alexandria, and Hypatia the last Director of the Library in that great city. On the way there are mysterious shaven-headed men in yellow robes from the Great Silk Road,wise men whose predecessors brought gifts of inestimable value to a youthful scholar in Galilee, and there are dragons from the realms of Rus. Finally, Dathi has to confront the army of his enemy Niall King of Ulster and of Scots on the battlefield, and must go to Tara to pass the tests of kingship on the hill of the Screaming Stone the Lia Fáil (Leeya Fawl).
The question of the succession of the kingship arose. Dathi made his claim, standing out in his royal finery of bright red and blue, his talu (train) likewise. “I am Dathi the Tánaiste of Niall (Nyal), a member of the derbfine (true kin) of the royal family of Ulad. Niall was my uncle. I claim the kingship in succession to him, and the possession for life of the royal mensal lands of the province of Meath.” The Ui Néill ( Ee Nail) stirred in fury, their hands dropping to their swords. “Who else claims the kingship in succession to Niall” asked the Ollav who was also the senior Brehim (Judge) of Érin and the Rectire of the Feis. “Niall left many sons.” The words came from a one-eyed man who pushed his way through the throng around the Ollav. “All are eligible, but the eldest claims the succession here today.” “Let us see him.” Nechtan stood aside and a young man came through the crowd which parted like magic before him. He was heavy-set, tall and broad, with dark curly hair, a long face and a grim, truculent expression. Dathi summed him up to be strong as well as big, a fine figure of a man but perhaps not experienced. He would have intimidated his associates in the clan, but had he ever fought a professionally trained, experienced and controlled warrior like Dathi? He kept a close watch on Laoire (Leary), to see how he moved, how he balanced on his feet, how he reacted to a challenge or a setback. His skin tingled and his mouth dried up at the prospect of a stiff fight for the kingship with this powerful young man. The crowd eyed them both, comparing them in strength and leadership. Dathi exuded authority and experience and showed no sign of fear, but he was twenty years older than Niall’s burly son and perhaps past his peak. “Laoire( Leary) is the first of Niall’s sons, and the one most ready to succeed him. He is a great fighter.” Nechtan said this with a significant look at Dathi who smiled slightly and ignored him. “Speak, Laoire” called the Ollav. “Why should you be king in succession to Niall?” “I am his eldest, and his favourite son. I am strong and without blemish. Niall taught me many things about kingship.” “Such as?” “To be strong always, and never to show weakness. Never to take a step backward in a conflict. To win every battle and allow no enemy to go unpunished.” Laoire’s eyes smouldered. He fixed them on chief after tribal chief, on judge after judge, daring them to defy him. No-one did. He continued. “To be constant, and never to change a word that one has uttered as king. To be determined, and never to tolerate any opposition. These are the virtues of a true king of the noble O’Neills.” He turned, and his bull-like stare sought out other chieftains. A pall of fear fell over the gathering. For a generation the peoples of Ireland and Britain had learned what it meant to defy the power of the Ui Néill (Ee Nail). Laoire saw the crowd’s reaction and his eyes glowed with triumph. He pointed to Dathi. “That man,where did he come from? From the east across the sea.” He pointed eastward. “You all know the fate of our British cousins. Once they were proud Celtic warriors. Now they are slaves of the Romans. Many of you are descended from their exiles, the Britni we call Critne who sought refuge among us when the Romans crushed Buadach and her tribe the Í Céin (Ee Cain). I and my allies will drive out the invaders and make Roman ‘Britannia’ British and Celtic again.” Laoire could not have thought up those words on his own. Dathi realised that the limited bull-headed warrior had been coached by the wily one-eyed Nechtan, just as he, Dathi, had been coached by his Druidic mentor Nuala. Realising that the crowd was listening to him, Laoire turned and pointed again at Dathi. “That man is a Roman spy! Any who support him are traitors!” There was real venom in his voice. A sinister silence fell over the gathering. Dathi could smell the fear. Those who stood near him began to edge away.