Morgan presented the minister with a small sheet of yellow paper. It was stained and dirty, and had been folded over twice.
“This is the reason I was especially hoping you’d be able to translate that second inscription,” he said, spreading it out on the arm of Rev. Alcuin’s chair. “See? It’s got the same strange words written on it. ZIR DVIV.”
The Reverend scanned the scrap of paper. “So it does,” he observed. “But that’s not your dad’s handwriting. I’d say this was a note he received from somebody else. Someone in a big hurry. Why didn’t you show it to me sooner?”
“I didn’t notice it until today. It was stuck between the pages of the notebook. There was something sticky or gluey along the edge when I tugged on it. Otherwise it would have fallen out a long time ago.”
The note, written in an antiquated, backward-sloping hand, read as follows:
This is the promised clue.
You know what to do.
Lira, east wing, second floor.
Keep them separate, mark the door.
“Any idea what that’s about?” Morgan asked when Peter looked up from the page.
“No,” said Rev. Alcuin, thoughtfully stroking the stubble on his chin. “But I do know what the Lira is.”
Morgan shot him a questioning glance.
“It’s the old ruined hotel out on the Point. You never heard of it?”
“That pile of rocks has a name?”
“It did. Back when Santa Piedra was a popular tourist destination. People came from all over the world to stay at the Lira. I’ve seen some pictures from the early 1900s. Pretty impressive. Grand spiral staircases. Tiffany lamps and glasswork. Stone exterior, hand-polished oak interior. Robert Louis Stevenson is supposed to have spent some time there. Dickens too.”
“But what could that old place possibly have to do with Enochian inscriptions? Or Lia Fail? Or the sword of Paracelsus?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. But you know what?”
Rev. Alcuin rose. Still rubbing his chin, he crossed the room to a small Edwardian bureau of dark cherry-wood. Taking a key from his coat pocket, he unlocked the bureau and opened a drawer.
“That note,” he said, carefully lifting another sheet of paper from the drawer, “—particularly the part about a ‘clue’—reminds me of your father’s last message somehow. The one he left your mother the night he disappeared. I assume you know the one I mean?”
“I can recite it by heart,” said Morgan.
“Well, I’ve got a copy right here. Kept it all these years. Do you remember—?”
“Yes!” cried Morgan. “I think I know what you’re going to say! ‘Against all odds, the clue has actually fallen into my hands!’”
“Exactly. And that’s not all.”
Stepping to the window and holding the paper up to the light, Peter read:
“It came to me when I least expected it. Why, I cannot say; how, I dare not. This, too, I must confess. But I will also confess that, having what she wants, I am at last resolved to keep it from her.”
Morgan’s heart was thumping in his chest. “That fits in with the bit about keeping something separate! I think it’s talking about her—the Morrigu! My dad had something she wanted, and he wasn’t going to let her have it!”
“A logical inference,” said Rev. Alcuin, replacing the paper in the bureau drawer and taking his seat again. “But we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions. I suggest we return to this subject after tea.”
But tea was the last thing on Morgan’s mind. His brain was filled with a dramatic, wide-screen image of the gloomy old Victorian hotel out on Punta Lira. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he believed he knew where to look for it.
His pack was on his back and he was halfway to the front door when he stopped, turned, and gave Rev. Alcuin a sheepish look.
“Staying after all?” said Peter. “Delighted.”
“No,” stammered Morgan. “But there was just one more thing I wanted to ask you.”
“At your service.”
“Rev. Alcuin,” said Morgan, rubbing his nose, “what would you do if your Mom invited your worst enemy to dinner?”
The Reverend smiled—an indulgent, knowing smile.
“Don’t worry about it, Morgan,” he said. “I’ll be there with you. Your mother invited me too.”