But only Connla could see the maiden. Before he could think, he asked, "Who are you? Where are you from?"
The king turned and looked at his son. "Who do you speak to?" he asked.
Just as these words left King Conn's mouth, the maiden spoke. Her voice was as soothing as a stream, and the king could hear this.
"I come from the Plains of Pleasure. From Tir Na N'og, where no one grows old. In my world there is no strife. In my world everyone lives forever in joy, and I come to take fair Connla to be my love. Our home will be in the round green hills."
"Who speaks?" the king asked his son. But it was not Connla who answered.
It was the maiden who said, "Connla speaks to a woman who will not grow old and will never die. King Conn, I love your son. I call him to come with me to Tir Na N'og, where Baodag is king."
She smiled at Connla, taking in the beauty of his ruddy hair and golden skin. Then she repeated her request: "Come with me and you will always be the strong young man you are today. You will be handsome and happy forever; this I promise."
The king shuddered at these words. He could not bear the thought of losing his beloved son, and to a face he could not see. She seemed not to exist at all, but King Conn had heard the words, and so he called to his men who marched behind them.
"Coran," he summoned his druid. "Come quickly!"
Coran was a man of cunning magic who knew many spells. The king was confident he would untangle this mystery as he had so many others. Coran was soon at his side.
"Coran," the king said, "there is a task upon me that is too great even for a king as skilled as I. Never have I had such a burden. An invisible maiden wishes to take away my dear son."
The druid's magic was very strong, and in that very moment the maiden vanished, even from Connla's sight. But as she disappeared, she tossed an apple at Connla's feet, and so he knew she was still there. He could not forget her.
From that day on, for one whole month, Connla refused to eat or drink anything but that apple. Each day he ate it; each night it grew whole again. And with every passing day, his longing to see the maiden grew in his heart. He could not bear the thought of never seeing her again.
At the end of the month Connla stood beside his father, the king, on the Plain of Arcomin, and once again the maiden came toward them. Once again only Connla saw her. And once again that beautiful voice filled the air all around them.
"It is a glorious place Connla holds among the mortals," the maiden said, "but here in your land, he awaits only death."
When the king heard this, he quickly called again to his druid, Coran. "She has the power of speech again! Come quickly!"
But the maiden was still talking. "The folk of life, the ever-living, beg thee, Connla, to come to Tir Na N'og, the Plain of Pleasure. They know you. They have seen you among them. They desire that you live forever."
"Call the druid!" the king shouted over her voice, but now the maiden spoke to him. "Oh mighty Conn, Fighter of the Hundred Fights. The druid has little power in our land that is filled with so many good men and women. In our land the Law of Goodness prevails."
As she spoke, the king saw that ever since the maiden had appeared, his son would speak to no one else. He turned and looked into his son's eyes. "What are your thoughts, my son?" he asked.
Connla looked with love at his father. "I love my folk above all things, father, but this woman has won a place in my heart. I long for her."
When the young woman heard this, she said, "The ocean is not as strong as the waves of your longing, Connla. Come with me in my gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. The sun is setting, but we can reach our land before dark, and there we will live forever in happiness."
The moment she stopped speaking, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed from his father's side and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming canoe. It seemed the druid's power had vanished, so the king and all his court could only watch in silence as that crystal canoe glided over the sea toward the setting sun. Away, away it floated until they could see it no longer.
No one ever saw Connla or the Fairy Maiden again, so no one ever knew where they had gone.