The Sword of Paracelsus: The Third Angle, Part 2

Alchemist 2 001

“I also am a man who keeps his promises,” said Dee with a glance in Ollamh’s direction. “So then. The seven letters spell two words. Zir signfieth ‘I am’ in the Enochian tongue. And deh-veev—”

Deh-veev!” whispered Ollamh.

“—means ‘the Third Angle.’”

John Izaak put a hand to his forehead. “The Missing Key!” he said.

“The Missing Key?” echoed Eny, apparently in great distress. “The Third Angle? Oh, Morgan! What have you done?”

Morgan felt dizzy and confused. He heard all of these words but understood none of them. He knew only that the Morrigu had taken possession of his precious sword and didn’t seem inclined to give it back. Hardly realizing what he was doing, he broke away from his father, bolted towards the enchantress, and seized the shining blade.

“Give it back!” he shouted. “It’s mine!”

Immediately shouts rang out on every side. Weapons rattled and clashed. The Fir Bolg drew their long knives. Falor and the other Fomorian guards unsheathed their swords. Ollamh Folla raised his own blade and prepared to strike. But the Morrigu merely lifted a hand and looked down at Morgan with an imploring expression on her pale oval face.

“Morgan, Morgan,” she said in her most soothing tone. “I know how much this pretty sword means to you! And yet I too would dearly love to have it. Do you think we might we come to an understanding?”

Morgan stared up at her. His head was swimming, but he kept his hands clasped tightly around the sword.

“I’ll be direct,” she said. “Would you like to barter?”

Confused, he shook his head. He had no idea what she meant.

“Let me show you.” The Morrigu reached into the voluminous folds of her black gown and drew out something like a lump of shadow or a rumpled piece of cloud. Holding it up between her forefinger and her thumb, she let the shimmery gray material unfold and drop down to the floor like a veil of rain.

“Hey!” shouted Eny. “That’s mine! My Feth Fiada!”

The Morrigu smiled. “With this, Morgan, you and your father can return at once to your home in the Overworld. All you have to do is join hands and cast the cloak over your shoulders.”

“Really?” This seemed too good to be true.

“Yes. And I will give it to you. In exchange for the sword.”

“No!” cried Eny. “Don’t do it!”

“On the other hand,” continued the enchantress, “if you refuse, I could decide to make use of the cloak myself. Here beside me stands your father. In the blink of an eye—before your brave rescuers are able to lift a finger—I can whisk him away with me to some place where you will never, ever find him again. I can do it instantly. Your little friend over there—” she nodded in Eny’s direction “—knows that I can.” She ended with a winsome smile.

Morgan gazed up into her beautiful face. The warm, sleepy feeling was weighing heavily upon him and making his eyelids droop. Why not? he thought. Dad and me, back home with Mom again. That’s why I came, isn’t it?

He looked at the Morrigu and nodded dumbly. As if in a dream—though still without releasing the sword—he reached out for the Feth Fiada. “Yes,” he mumbled. “Yes, I’ll trade you for it.”

He was about to lay hold of the cloak when a sound like an audible beam of light, pure and intense as a liquid ray of the sun, fell upon his ear and pierced his brain. He knew at once what it was: music—clear, sweet music of a kind he had heard many, many times before. Turning his head in the direction of the strain, he caught a glimpse of Eny, her feet planted firmly at the edge of the dais, her head thrown back, her fiddle under her chin. She was standing beside the slobbering homunculus, sawing away for all she was worth, the bright notes flying like sparks from the end of her darting bow.

Instantly the debilitating torpor vanished. Morgan was himself again, and he knew it. He snapped his hand away from the cloak as sharply as if he had just touched a hot stove. Tingling with a strength and vitality he didn’t know he possessed, he shoved the Morrigu aside and sprang back a step.

There was a fierce, all-consuming light in the enchantress’s eye as she recovered her balance and swung around to lay hold of him. Bracing himself for her onslaught, Morgan gripped the sword tightly. But then, as Eny’s music rang out loud and strong, another idea suddenly occurred to him. Instead of striking with the blade, he grasped the golden pommel and gave it a vigorous twist.

Against all expectation, it screwed open as easily as the lid of a jam jar. Holding his breath, he looked inside and found the globe filled with powder: a fine, pinkish-white powder like flour or powdered sugar. He glanced up—already she was in mid-air, pouncing like a cat. Without thinking, he grabbed a handful of the stuff and flung it into her face.

“Monster!” she spluttered, sneezing uncontrollably and falling back with her hands over her eyes. “Horrible brat! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!”

(To be continued …)

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