The harper let his hands drop to his sides. He swung around to face Morgan. “Thus ends the Song of Lia Fail and Fragarach, the fabled Sword of Lugh.”
Morgan was confused. Fragarach? he thought. His hand crept towards the shapeless bolg dangling at his waist. He touched it, ran his fingers over it, and felt for the smooth roundness of the golden pommel lying just beneath the softness of the leather. I thought it was called Azoth.
He glanced up hesitantly at the singer. “Can I ask you something?”
The old bard seemed taken aback. He arched his bushy eyebrows. “And what is that?”
“Your song was definitely about a sword in a stone,” said Morgan. “But it doesn’t seem to be the same ‘Sword in the Stone’ I had in mind.”
Ollamh Folla gave the boy a sidewise glance. “You might be surprised,” he said.
Morgan blinked and swallowed. “Really? In that case, I’m curious. What were the precise words that Lugh engraved upon the sword?”
“The song uses poetic language,” Ollamh explained. “The actual inscription, in the Danaan tongue, was Fragarach: i loingseach: rannaid ocus cenglaid. ‘Fragarach. In exile. To divide and to bind.’”
There was a lump at the back of Morgan’s throat. “And exactly how—if you don’t mind my asking—was it written? I mean, was it spelled out in letters that I could understand?”
The harper looked amused. “Hardly! Ollamh Folla knows as well as I do that the Sword of Lugh was inscribed with the ancient script of Ogma, first scribe and poet of the Danaans. Let me show you.” And kneeling, he traced with his finger in the dust two long, straight lines crossed at intervals by a series of vertical and diagonal hatch-marks.
Morgan leaned forward and put his nose over the edge of the platform. For a long moment he stared hard at the strange markings.
He could have drawn them himself from memory.
They were the same cross-hatched lines he had puzzled over night after night in his dungeon study while staring bleary-eyed at the Sword of Paracelsus.