Never in his life had Morgan seen anything quite like the Tellach or Great Hall of Baile Daoine Sidhe. From where he sat—on a bench at one of the trestle tables beside the fire-pit in the middle of the hall—the building seemed a veritable world within a world: as long as a river, high as a mountain, wide as the boundless sea.
Wonder swelled his senses as he gazed at the noble fittings and furnishings of the hall: the hearth of burnished bronze, the interminable rows of carved pillars, the shadowy galleries; the posts and beams hung with shields and spears, the harps and timbrels along the paneled walls, the lofty intertwining rafters painted every color of the rainbow. From the open smoke holes in the high ceiling fell slanting shafts of smoky sunlight, while the ruddy glow of the fire and the torches in the wall-sconces cast long leaping shadows over the fragrant rush-strewn floor.
The place was empty when they arrived. At one end of a long row of gleaming tables they found the ample leftovers of a generous meal: wooden platters of roasted fowl, bowls of fruit, baskets of bread, silver pitchers of golden wine. Without a word Baxter vaulted over a bench, shoved up to a table, and began stuffing himself as if he hadn’t eaten in a week. But Morgan took Eny by the arm and drew her down to the far end of the board.
“You have no idea what it’s like for me to see you again,” he said.
She responded with a smirk. “Do you suppose I don’t have any feelings?”
“That’s not what I meant. It’s just that—”
“Morgan,” she interrupted, bending forward and peering straight into his face, “what in the world are you doing here?” Her blue eye gleamed brightly as she said it.
He glared back. “Shouldn’t I be asking you the same question?”
“This isn’t my first time in the Sidhe.”
“So? Do you realize your mom and dad are frantic? The whole LAPD is looking for you!”
She looked down at the bench. “It wasn’t my idea.”
“Do you think it was mine?”
“All I know is that you’ve been trying for weeks to find a way into the Otherworld! You wrote letters begging me to help you.”
“You’re right,” Morgan nodded. “But when it happened, it wasn’t because I made it happen. It just did. And it’s a good thing.”
“Don’t say that.”
“You know why.”
“I know why you think so. But this isn’t all about you, Eny.”
She looked offended. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Stealing a glance at Baxter, he leaned closer and lowered his voice. “My dad’s here. I’m certain of it!”
“What? Where did you get such a crazy idea?”
“It’s not crazy. My mom told me once that he was taken. Just like you.”
“So who do you think took him?”
Eny didn’t answer.
“You know as well as I do,” pressed Morgan. “Madame Medea. The Morrigu. After everything that’s happened, how could you not know?”
“You’re jumping to conclusions. Your dad disappeared a long time ago.”
“What difference does that make? He’s here and I know it! My Grandma told me. She said she’d seen him ‘under the ground.’ Those were her very words. She said he’s been calling for me.”
“What does your Grandma know about it?”
“Don’t ask me to explain. Grandma may be weird and spacey, but she knows. She sees things. Like you.”
Her cheeks colored. Taking this as a hopeful sign, he plunged ahead.
“I didn’t believe it at first, but now I do. And the more I think about it, the more it all adds up. The Morrigu had good reasons for taking my dad.” He dropped his voice again. “He had information about the Stone of Destiny.”
Eny stared. “Who told you that?”
“Rev. Alcuin. That’s the short answer, anyway. My dad was working on a theory that the Philosopher’s Stone and Lia Fail and the Holy Grail are all just different names for the same thing.”
Her eyes glittered. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“For one thing, I never got the chance. For another, I wasn’t sure. It was all hypothetical at first. Just ideas based on my dad’s notes. Stuff written in old books. But now I’ve got some real hard evidence. And that’s why I had to get to the Sidhe somehow! To find him!” He paused. “And you too.”
From the other end of the table came the chomping and slurping sounds of Baxter’s enthusiastic repast.
“What’s wrong with you two?” he said, looking up from a plate of roast duck and wiping his greasy chin on his sleeve. “Cut the sweet talk and dig in!” He winked, grinned, and went back to eating. Morgan scowled.
“So what about him?” said Eny, inclining her head in Baxter’s direction.
“You know I didn’t plan that part!” Morgan answered. “It was an accident. Like I said, we were out on La Punta Lira, at the old hotel, and—”
“But why? And since when did you start hanging around with Baxter?”
“I don’t hang around with Baxter. I was looking for something. I can’t go into it right now. He followed me without being invited. He seems to pop up everywhere lately.”
Eny frowned. “Weird.”
“Tell me about it! Anyway, I was minding my own business when he came along. Then the elevator cable broke and I had to try to fish him out of the shaft. After that it got really strange. Webs and strings of light. Clouds and birds and ships and a long, long fall. Don’t ask me to explain.”
“You don’t have to,” she murmured.
“Next thing I knew, we were out there! In the middle of that mess! You know the rest.”
For several moments Eny was silent. Then, glancing down at his waist, she asked, “What’s in the long blue bundle?”
Morgan felt the blood rush into his face. “Blue bundle?”
“The one under your belt!” she laughed. “Kind of hard to miss, isn’t it?”
All at once Morgan became aware that Baxter’s keen eye was upon him. “It’s a tool,” he whispered, shifting uneasily in his seat. “A sort of crow-bar. I needed it for my investigation. At the old hotel. I’ll tell you later.”
She glared at him.
“And now that I’ve told you how I got here,” he continued before she could get a word in edgewise, “what about you? What’s your story?”
Eny sighed and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Morgan. I’m not trying to be contrary. But this is a dangerous place. Dangerous for all of us. Still—” She paused. “Much as I hate to admit it, somehow I do get the feeling that you’re meant to be here. So I suppose I ought to tell you what’s been going on. But you better get comfortable. It could take a while.”
He leaned back against the table and grinned at her.
“I’m ready,” he said. “And it looks like Baxter’s just getting started on dessert.”