It's the Eve of Samhain in the Royal Hall at Cruachan.
The fires burn, the mead flows freely; already people have begun to draw indoors. For this night, of all nights, is indeed dark and full of terrors.
While waiting for the feast to be served, Aillil proposes a feat: Who will dare to tie a withy around the ankle of the corpse that hangs from the gallows on the hill of Cruachan?
One by one the heroes try. One by one, they return in fear and failure.
Then Nera mac Niadhain says: I'll do it.