“Tell me,” I said this evening when Dee had returned to my cell with his portion of bread and water (for we now pass freely between his apartment and mine, blocking up the hole only when the blundering guard makes his rounds with the rations), “did Paracelsus have any special reason for entrusting his sword to you?”
The old alchemist squatted on the floor, glowering at me over his moldy repast. “More questions,” he grumbled. “Thou’rt too curious for thine own good.”
“Obviously,” I answered. “But that’s past mending now.”
The shadow of an amused smile flitted across his wasted features. But he said nothing and withdrew into a dark corner to finish his meal.
After a long while I heard him mutter, “A reason he had indeed. He might not keep it.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“It resisted him. He attempted to alter it. He would have bent it to his will, but it owns no master. The hilt burnt his hands and he sought release.”
I considered this a moment in light of everything I knew about the sword of Paracelsus. “Did he ever tell you where he got it?” I asked.
A grunt in the darkness. “Montsalvat. The Gral Castle.”
The Gral Castle! That caused me to prick up my ears!
“There he had found it,” Dee continued. “There he wished it returned.”
“And he charged you with the task?”
“Yea, verily. But Edward tried to wrest it from me.”
“Edward?” I said. “Do you mean Edward Kelly?”
“Yea. He would have taken it to Hnevin.”
“Edward was a sniveling gold-cook. He would make use of the powder Paracelsus had concealed in the pommel. I was forced to cast the thing away in order to save it. I know not what became of it after it sank beneath the waters of Carbonek.”
“But I thought Kelly was your colleague and friend.”
This drew from him a bitter laugh. “Edward was ever a liar and a thief.”
* * * * * *