At the sound of her voice, Simon raised his sword and charged straight up the aisle. Falor and the rest of the fumbling Fomorians gave way before him like chaff before the wind. His companions, four wiry little men carrying long knives and short spears, followed closely on his heels. Eny knew them well: Eochy, Sengann, Slanga, and Crimthann.
“It’s Simon!” Eny shouted to Baxter. “He’s come to rescue us!”
Baxter brightened. “We saw them! Morgan and me! Outside on the hill!”
“Stand back!” ordered Simon, halting directly in front of the Morrigu and throwing back his hood. As he did so, his gray hair flashed gold, his grizzled chin grew smooth and firm, and in the blink of an eye he was Ollamh Folla, the valiant Danaan king.
“Welcome, Lord Folla!” said the enchantress, curtseying and extending a hand. “A pleasure to see you again!”
Ollamh turned her hand aside with the flat of his sword. “I did not fight my way here to engage in pleasantries. Neither the Maiden nor Lia Fail are of any use to you now. I know your powers and your tricks. But this time I come armed with powers of my own. So make way!”
To Eny’s great wonder, the Morrigu obeyed. With a demure bow, she lifted the hem of her robe and glided softly to the foot of the stairs, where she stood with downcast eyes.
“Let the girl go!” snapped Ollamh, pointing his sword at the two Fomorians who were standing guard over Eny. Reluctantly, they sheathed their weapons and withdrew, plainly cowed in the presence of the Danaan chieftain.
“Secure the Stone!”
Instantly the four Fir Bolg clambered up the steps and surrounded Lia Fail while the king, with a nimble leap and a swipe of his blade, severed the grasping branches, setting Dee and Izaak free.
“You see I keep my promises,” he smiled as he removed the prisoners’ chains and helped the old alchemist to his feet.
“Now I warn you!” he shouted, leaping to the top of the platform and waving his blade in the face of the bewildered Fomorians. “No one moves from this spot until we are well away! That means everybody!” he added, casting a fierce glance at the Morrigu. “Eochy! Bring Lia Fail!”
Eochy whisked away the silk shroud and the four Fir Bolg lifted the Stone gently from its resting place.
“Follow me!” cried Ollamh, taking Eny by the hand and escorting her down the steps.
“Wait!” she said, pointing at Baxter Knowles. “We can’t go without him!”
Ollamh paused. “Baxter!” he exclaimed. “Here? Now?” Apparently he had failed to notice the boy until that very moment. A look of consternation clouded his brow. “But where …?” His glance darted to the face of the sham Morgan. “Surely this can’t be …?”
At this, a silver peal of laughter rang out in the hall.
“How thoughtless of me!” said the Morrigu with a slight wave of her hand. “Of course I have forgotten to introduce my other guest! You can’t leave without saying hello!”
For the third time she clapped her hands. One of the oaken doors at the rear of the dais swung open. Out stepped two more armed guards with another prisoner between them: a thin, yellow-haired figure with a rumpled leather bag at his belt.
“Morgan!” cried Eny.
The enchantress snapped her fingers and the guards hustled the boy across the platform, making him stand side by side with the dead-eyed homunculus.
Eny looked at John Izaak. John Izaak returned her gaze. “Morgan?” he said. “Is it really Morgan?”
“Morgan indeed!” sang the enchantress. “Two Morgans, in fact! Ha ha! Son, take a good look at your father! Father—behold your son! Oh, but wait! You don’t know for sure which is the real Morgan, do you? Hmm. Tricky, isn’t it?” She paused and smiled. “If I point him out to you, will you tell me what I want to know?”
“Don’t listen to her!” shouted Eny. “I can show you the real one!”
Up the steps she dashed. But before she could reach him, Morgan broke away from his Fomorian attendants and lurched past her with a cry.
“Dad!” he exclaimed. “I’ve found you! I’ve found you at last!”
And with that he leaped down from the dais, stumbling over his own feet and falling in a disheveled heap at the base of the stairs. As he fell, the bag at his waist burst open. There was a blue flash and a loud metallic clang as a long, bright object spilled out upon the floor. Every head turned. Every eye stared.
There, gleaming brightly on the pearly pavement, right at the Morrigu’s feet, lay the Sword of Paracelsus.