Morgan rolled over onto his back. His head was sore. Everything was spinning.
Rubbing his neck, he raised himself on one elbow and looked up. A pair of glowing green eyes smiled down at him through the fog. A delicate white hand reached out and touched his arm. He felt groggy. Without thinking, he grasped the hand and struggled to his feet.
“Morgan Izaak!” The Morrigu drew him close and kissed his forehead. “Dear Morgan! Welcome! What is this you have brought me?”
She bent down and picked up the sword—and as her fingers closed upon the handle, a kind of shudder ran round the hall. Ollamh Folla tensed and sprang forward a step. “Fragarach!” he breathed.
“The Sword of Paracelsus!” muttered old John Dee.
Slowly Morgan’s eyesight began to clear. He saw his father move forward and step between him and the enchantress.
“Dad!” he said, reaching for him. “It is you! I’d know you anywhere!”
John Izaak gripped him by the shoulders. “And I you! If only we had time to talk—there’s so much we need to say! But right now there’s just one thing you’ve got to tell me: where did you get that sword?”
Morgan blinked. “I—I found it,” he stammered.
He pointed at the Morrigu. “In her shop. In Santa Piedra. Why?”
“It shouldna be here at all,” Eochy said ominously.
Morgan’s father turned and peered intently at the little man. “You!” he said. “I don’t even know your name. But I remember you well. You’re the one who told me to hide it in the old hotel! That’s what I did. So how in the world—?”
“Tush, man,” interrupted Eochy. “That’s easily told! I put the thing in her shop myself! It’s in her umbrella stand I left it! Ha! ‘What better hiding place,’ says I, ‘than right under the old girl’s nose?’” And with that he and the other three Fir Bolg burst out laughing.
The enchantress glared at them venomously before turning back to Morgan.
“Pay them no mind,” she said gently, taking the boy by the hand. Then she pointed to the inscription on the blade. “Tell me about these pretty markings. Have you ever seen writing like this before?”
“I have,” Morgan answered—and as he spoke a warm, dreamy feeling stole over him. “It’s called Ogham. Rev. Alcuin told me that.”
Ollamh Folla seemed alarmed. John Izaak opened his mouth to speak. But Morgan, who was feeling extremely comfortable and pleased with himself, pressed on.
“It says ‘In exile. To divide and bind.’” He turned and looked at the Danaan chief. “You said so yourself.”
The Morrigu gave him another kiss. She was very beautiful. Never, thought Morgan, had her eyes appeared so lovely. They seemed illumined from within by the light of some profound revelation. “Please go on!” she urged.
He put his finger on the crossguard. “These letters are Enochian—my dad knows all about that. But the words are Latin. They say, ‘Where the sister and spouse is. Under the stairs of Jacob.’”
“I see!” purred the enchantress. “How interesting!”
The scent of her hair was rich and heady in his nostrils. The smoothness of her skin was like cooling ointment upon his hand. She turned the sword over.
“You have been very helpful so far,” she said. “But what about this last inscription?” She ran her fingertips over the seven mysterious letters:
“I’d like very much to know what that says. Can you read it?”
Morgan was struggling to keep his eyes open. “N-no,” he mumbled.
Suddenly he felt himself thrust violently aside. His father caught and held him just before he fell. Stunned, he glanced up and saw the Morrigu pointing to the inscription on the handle. “Can anyone here read this?” she demanded.
A great hush fall over the hall. The air itself seemed to crackle with tenseness. The guards shuffled in their places. Ollamh Folla took another step towards the Morrigu. The Fir Bolg dropped Lia Fail with a thud and put their hands to their weapons. And then a thin, cracked voice broke the silence:
Every head turned. Morgan, too, looked around to see who had spoken.
It was the old alchemist, John Dee.
(To be continued …)