Trembling with the emotion of her narrative, Eny fell silent and passed a hand across her brow. By this time people were slowly filtering back into the Tellach. On every side, the Great Hall was beginning to hum with the sound of voices and the bustle of activity. Cooking smells emanated from the kitchen. The bronze grate clattered in the fire pit as a couple of attendants added logs and peat to the flames. Several others occupied themselves with the long ropes that adjusted the smoke-vents in the ceiling. A group of Danaan warriors seated themselves on the raised dais in one of the upper galleries and began conferring with heads bent close together. Pots, cups, and bowls clattered. Stewards and servants hurried to and fro with bundles under their arms or bunches of keys at their belts. Then a pretty young maiden with long dark braids came and cleared away the fragments and empty platters at the other end of the table. Glancing up at her, Morgan caught sight of Baxter sprawled out along the bench and snoring like a bullfrog.
“So,” he said when Eny seemed ready to go on, “how did Eochy respond to your outburst?”
Eny grinned. “He just laughed! And then he said, ‘Mind your tongue, young miss! She has not won, and it’s me you can thank for that! She knew where you were, and no mistake. Her eye was on you. Another hour and she would have had you in her grip. But I was quicker. It was to protect you that I lured you away and brought you here.’”
“Well,” said Morgan, “that puts a different face on things.”
“No joke. It sure stuck a stopper in my mouth. For a long time I just looked around the circle, blinking through my tears, thinking about the horrible risk they were taking for my sake. Finally I said, ‘So what do we do now?’
“They all looked at Semeon. Semeon nodded at Rury. Rury said that they had decided to take me with them to Baile Daoine Sidhe. Then, without another word, they all started packing their bolgs.
“I wish you could have seen it, Morgan. It was like magic. Those little bags are bottomless! You can cram incredible amounts of stuff into them. Eochy gave me one of my own, and I put my fiddle into it along with some dried figs and nuts, a sling, a pouch of stones, a sheepskin jacket, a bow, and a quiver of arrows.”
“Really?” said Morgan, fingering the long blue bundle at his side. “Do you think you could get me one?”
“I don’t see why not. We’ve got plenty of them. Eochy and the rest of the Fir Bolg are here in the dun now—we’ve been staying together over in one of the longhouse lodges for the past couple of months. Anyway, as I was saying, we packed up all of our gear and got ready to leave. But as I was tying my bag around my waist, a thought occurred to me. I turned to Rury and said, ‘Will the Danaans take us in? You told me once that the Fir Bolg aren’t always welcome at the Baile.’”
“Is that true?” Morgan wanted to know.
“It was true in the past, but not anymore. Things used to be kind of touchy between the Bag People and the Tuatha De Danann. But all that’s changed since the Battle for the Stone. As Rury told me, ‘the Danaans know better now.’”
“They certainly do,” said a deep voice from somewhere above Morgan’s right ear—a voice that sent shivers of recognition down his spine. “But it wouldn’t matter much if they didn’t. Because you’re here on my say so. Both of you.”
As this voice spoke, Morgan saw Eny’s mouth drop open and her eyes grow wide as saucers. From where he sat, she seemed to be staring at something just above the level of his head. Crooking his neck to follow her gaze, he found himself looking up into the face of a tall man with a long nose, a grizzled jaw, and a pair of bright blue eyes.
“A pleasure to see you again, young Mr. Izaak,” said the man.
It was Simon Brach.