The Sword of Paracelsus: Access Denied, Part 2

Sword & Stone 2 001

Kneeling, he laid his bundle on the sandy cavern floor.  Slowly, almost reverentially, he began to unwind the folds of blue flannel.  A glint of gold gleamed forth from beneath the soft layers of fabric as he pulled them aside.  Then, with something approaching tenderness, he drew the shining object from its humble shroud and held it up to the light.

It was a sword.  A long blue sword with a large gilded pommel and an ornate, deeply curved crossguard.  For a moment he stood regarding it with a steady eye.  He turned it over and over, studying it intently, a warm glow of excitement and hope rising in the pit of his stomach.  If Eny had been present, she would have seen a slow, satisfied smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

He knew it was no ordinary sword.  Not in the least ordinary, though he had found it in the commonest, obscurest spot imaginable—the umbrella rack behind the door of Madame Medea’s shop.  At just the right moment it had offered itself to him on that night of nights when the dark-haired woman, her green-eyes blazing, stunned him with those knife-edged words:  Do not prove as useless as your father!

No one else seemed to know the sword was there—not even Madame Medea herself.  And that was odd, for somehow Morgan had sensed in an instant that he’d made the discovery of a lifetime.  In that moment his heart had told him that this sword would alter his fortunes in ways he couldn’t foresee.  And this hunch had been confirmed almost immediately when he saw her lumbering henchman cower and flinch before the glittering blade.

From the alchemy shop he had carried it out into the storm, where it flashed in the night with a light of its own.  With a grim smile Morgan replayed the scene in his mind.  Once again in his imagination he looked upon the astonished faces of Baxter Knowles and his gang as they watched the sword carve the darkness in a wide electric blue arc.  He laughed, and the cavern walls rang softly, as he pictured the bullies turning and high-tailing it through the slanting rain.

No.  It was no ordinary sword.  If ever there was an object belonging to Eny’s Other World—as native to that world as the Stone of Destiny itself—it had to be this remarkable sword.  That’s why he’d been holding on to it all this time.  That’s why he’d kept it secret and hidden from prying eyes.  That’s why, after much deliberation, he had carried it over the rocky trails of La Punta Lira, down through the stone archway at the head of the Laguna, and up the pebbly strand to the Cave of the Hands.

Gripping the hilt with both hands, he turned to face the two boulders at the rear of the chamber.

She knows something about my father.  After everything that had happened, Morgan was more determined than ever to find the man who had vanished from his life while he was still a toddler.  And he was convinced that the green-eyed woman could show him the way.

Straining his powers of vision as if by sheer effort he could pierce the barrier of solid rock behind the two round stones, he planted his feet firmly in the sand and raised the sword above his head.  Then he closed his eyes and whispered words into the silent darkness.

“I have seen this sword do wonders,”he said.  “I know it can do wonders again.  Reveal to me now the way to Eny’s Sidhe!”

He opened his eyes.  The sword gleamed dully in the dim light.  Nothing had changed.

Remembering the Arabian Nights and the story of Ali Baba, he aimed its point directly at the space between the pair of boulders.  Then he spoke in a loud commanding voice:  “Open!”

Nothing happened.  He waited a minute more.  The back wall of the cave was as solid and gray as ever.  Not a crack or a gap to be seen.  No gateway opening onto a tunnel of light.

Morgan’s heart fell.  Seizing a lock of his own yellow hair, he pulled it hard and kicked a pebble from one side of the cave to the other.  He threw himself against the cavern wall and beat it with his fist.

And then, in that dismal moment, he suddenly recalled everything his mother had told him about the power of prayer and faith.  Brightening, he bent down on one knee, stuck the sword point into the sand, and bowed his head upon the hilt as if it were a cross.

“I believe!” he said earnestly.  “I believe this sword belongs to the Other World!  I believe I have found the key that will open the door!  Answer my prayer!  Take me there now!  Show me where I can find my dad!”

Nothing but the sound of water dripping in the silence.

Slowly Morgan got to his feet.  His heart was pounding.  His hands shook.  His eyes were dim.  Sweat dripped from his brow and he seemed to see a cloud of red haze shimmering in the air before him.

All at once he lunged forward, straight at the place where the boulders stood at the foot of the sloping wall.  With a cry he flung up the sword.  With another he brought it crashing down upon the nearest of the two rocks.  Up flew the blue sparks.  Backwards rebounded the ringing blade, stinging the palms of his hands like fire.  So furious was the assault that he was hurled to the floor by the recoiling force of the blow.  For a moment he lay there, still as death, listening to the silvery reverberations echoing off the walls and fading away into the deeper recesses of the grotto.

Then he rolled over onto his stomach and buried his face in the crook of his arm.


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