The Sword of Paracelsus: Dust to Dust, Part 3

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“Dee!” cried John Izaak, making a lunge for the door. But Morgan was quicker.

“Stop!” he screamed, throwing himself against his father with all his weight and thrusting him back towards the rear of the cave. “Don’t do it, Dad! Don’t go out there!”

John Izaak gripped his son by the shoulders and stared down at him with a bewildered expression on his face. “But why, Morgan? What is it? What happened to Dee?”

Morgan slumped to the ground and hugged his father’s knees.

“I had forgotten!” he said in a despairing tone of voice. “Mrs. A warned us about this, too! She said this kind of thing can happen to people who go to the Sidhe and then come back again! She told us a story about a young warrior named Oisin. He went away to the world of Faerie, and when he returned he was a decrepit old man!”

“And how did she explain that?”

“It’s because time is different in the Sidhe! You can’t ever tell how it will match up with time in our world. It’s always changing! In the story, Oisin had been gone about a hundred years and didn’t even know it! With Eny it was the other way round: she left Santa Piedra after right school and got home in time for dinner, but she felt she’d been in Faerie for months and months!”

“I see,” mused his father. He closed his eyes and seemed to be thinking. At last he opened them and said, “Nothing bad happened to her, did it?”

“Well … no,” Morgan admitted.

“And what about Baxter?” his father pressed. “He walked out of here a few minutes ago. No problem. Right?”

“That’s true, but—”

“But what?”

“Dad! Don’t you see? You were in the Morrigu’s tower a really long time.” He bit his lip and nodded towards the pile of dust on the threshold. “I couldn’t bear to have that happen to you! Not after everything I’ve gone through to find you!”

“But you’re forgetting that John Dee was an unnaturally old man. Over four hundred years old! I guess I’ve been in the Sidhe about eleven or twelve years. That’s not enough to turn me to dust. Is it?”

“I told you! It doesn’t work that way. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.”

“Well, then,” said John Izaak. “What do you suggest we do? We can’t very well stay here.”

“We’ll go back! We can live with the Danaans. Or the Fir Bolg! They’ll take us in!”

His father glanced over his shoulder at the two boulders and the sloping wall at the rear of the cave. “How?”

Morgan was at a loss. His eyes seemed to go dark. “Oh, I don’t know!” he cried bitterly, getting to his feet and stumbling over to the wall. “Don’t ask me! All I know is that you can’t go out there! I just can’t take that chance! I—”

All at once a thought struck him. Standing away from the wall, he reached down and touched his belt. Yes—the miraculous bolg was still hanging there! Quickly opening the flap, he rummaged around inside.

“Wait a minute!” he shouted. “I’ve got the answer!”

With that he drew out the Feth Fiada. With a flourish and a cry of triumph, he held it up before his father’s eyes. The magical cloak flowed down over his fingertips like a skein of weightless satin, like a vibrant curtain of silver mist, shimmering subtly in the dim light of the cavern.

“We can travel between the worlds with this!” he said. “We can do it right now! In a heartbeat! She said so!”

John Izaak walked slowly over to his son and put an arm around his shoulder. “Morgan,” he said. “I don’t want to go.”

“You don’t—what?”

“I’m not going back to the Otherworld. Not now. Not ever. Not for anything.”

“But—you mean you wouldn’t—not even for me?”

His father shook his head.

Suddenly Morgan saw red. “I’ll make you, then!” he said, whirling the cloak above his head. “She said I could whisk you away just by throwing this over your shoulder! And I will!”

Again John Izaak shook his head. He smiled sadly.

“I love you, Morgan,” he said. “And I’m indebted to you. You came after me when I was helpless. For that I owe you more than I can ever repay. But now—well, what I want now is to see your mother. That’s the longing of my heart.”

Mom! How could he have forgotten about her? Suddenly Morgan saw her pale eyes before him. He saw her sweet face framed by a halo of fine angel-like hair. He realized how he’d missed her and how much he wanted to see her again.       

“But you—I mean, you can’t—you don’t want to disintegrate, do you?”

“Listen to me, son. For the chance of seeing her again, I’ll take that risk. And a hundred others like it. A thousand times over. Can you understand that?”

All at once a light went on in his brain. He could. And he did. Oh, yes!—he’d risk it himself, he thought! A hundred times! A thousand times! A million times!

Suddenly shy in his father’s presence, he bent his head and put the Feth Fiada back into the bolg. Looking up tentatively, he took his dad’s hand.

“Come on, then,” he said. “What are we waiting for?”

Once more John Izaak smiled. And then, hand in hand, they ducked beneath the cave’s low, stony lintel, stepped over the heap of dust on the threshold, and walked out into the fading light on the shore.

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