With a loud huzzah, Rury, Eochy and the rest of the Fir Bolg followed Ollamh down the steps to the main floor. Morgan gathered up his things and dashed after them.
“Finally!” he heard Baxter whispering in his ear. “Some real food at last!”
The light outside was fading fast. As they moved through the hall, long-haired girls in white dresses came alongside to light the way with flaming torches. Already the long tables were filling with noble guests: men dressed in bright tunics with white-banded swords at their belts; women in flowing robes, their bare arms flashing with gold rings; little children with garlands of fall flowers in their hair—purple asters, rust-hued chrysanthemums, red amaryllis.
And now the broken strains of a mournful melody came wafting over their heads. Looking up, Morgan caught sight of a thin, white-haired man in a voluminous black cloak playing a golden harp on a raised wooden platform. As the band approached, the music ceased and the old bard stood up beside his instrument.
“Greetings, Ollamh Folla!” he said in a soft, melodious voice. “Long live the King!”
King? thought Morgan as the cheers of the guests thundered through the hall.
“I thank you, Corpre,” responded Ollamh. “And I call upon you all to welcome to my esteemed guest”—here he took Morgan’s hand and raised it in his own—“Morgan Izaak, companion of Eithne, hero of the Battle for the Stone!”
At this another deafening roar shook the rafters. Morgan trembled at the sound of it. His cheeks burned and his mind reeled at the thought that Ollamh Folla, newly made King of the Tuatha De Danann—or so it seemed—was calling him, Morgan Izaak, a hero.
“Failte, Morgan Izaak,” said the old harper, bowing low. “May I honor you with a song?”
Morgan was struggling to find his tongue. “Can you sing one about the Sword in the Stone?” he squeaked, hardly knowing what he said.
A hush fell on the hall.
“The Sword in the Stone?”
Morgan nodded. “You know,” he stammered. “Like the one in the story of King Arthur. You don’t know any of those songs, do you?”
The old man straightened up and peered down at the boy from beneath a pair of unruly white eyebrows. “Strangely enough,” he said, “I do.”
(To be continued …)