Eny turned from the scarecrow figure to Morgan’s father. “Did you call him Dee?”
“Dr. John Dee. My companion and cell-mate for many days.”
She squinted at the old man in the black skull-cap. “I’ve heard of you!”
Dee seemed mildly pleased. “Verily? And wherefore?”
“You know Simon Brach, don’t you?”
The old man drew back with a look of disdain.
“How about Ollamh Folla? Do you know him?”
Dee said nothing, but raised an eyebrow and shot Izaak a sidewise glance. “The ‘other’ I told thee of,” he muttered.
John Izaak laid a hand on her shoulder. “Eny, you’ve said more than enough to convince me. I recognize the ring of truth when I hear it. I believe you.”
Eny felt a wave of relief sweep over her. She smiled back at him.
“Which leaves me with just one question,” he continued. “Why are you here?”
Her heart leapt within her. “She has the Stone!”
John Izaak sighed. “It was only a matter of time, I suppose.”
“You were expecting it?”
“Not exactly. I had hoped it would never come to this. But I’m also aware of the extent of her power. I don’t say this to excuse myself. It was almost entirely my fault. Still, she led me on. She leveraged my lust for power. She promised me everything. At that point I didn’t really know where the Stone of Destiny was—that came later. But I was getting close, and she knew it. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. I could no longer wrest myself free. But this much I will say in my own behalf: though she did her worst, I never gave her what she wanted. That’s why she brought me here.”
Eny shook her head sadly. “I know. And it wasn’t you, Mr. Izaak. It was your son who betrayed Lia Fail to her.”
“My son? Morgan found the Stone?”
“It’s a long story.”
“I can imagine.” He removed his spectacles, rubbed the bridge of his nose, and was silent for a few minutes before resuming his narrative.
“Well,” he said huskily, “she took me away, as I told you, and threw me into this dungeon. But I was not entirely without consolation. Two important considerations have always given me great comfort.”
“In the first place, I knew that the Stone by itself was not enough. I knew that she couldn’t access its power without … certain other ingredients.”
“Like me, for instance?”
He stared. “What do you mean?”
She pointed to her one blue eye. “See?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“The eyes of Eithne?”
Izaak shook his head.
“The Maiden of Perfect Purity and Chastity?”
“Ah, yes. That! So then you—”
“She thinks so. I don’t know what to think. She’s already put me through some kind of ceremony. I saw and touched Lia Fail, but nothing happened. That made her really mad. So here I am.”
“You were in greater danger than you suspected. I haven’t heard of Eithne. But as I understand it, almost any girl your age can play the part of the Maiden of Perfect Purity. For all practical purposes, you are that girl. Did she hurt you?”
She showed him her finger. “Not much.”
Izaak frowned. “It could have been worse. It may get worse before this is all over. With you in her power she lacks only one element. And the most frightening part is that she knows this now.”
“There’s another element?”
“Yes. And that was my other consoling thought. For, you see, I possessed that other element! And because I possessed it, I was able to keep it from her!”
“What are you talking about?”
Izaak seated himself at the base of the wall. “Dee and I have spoken of it more than once.” Here he shot his fellow prisoner a quick glance. “It came to me purely by accident. It was a mere artifact, a curiosity. I bought it because of my obsession with alchemy. The man who sold it to me knew next to nothing about it. In the beginning I had no clue as to its connection with Lia Fail. But then came the vision on the tower stairs.”
(To be continued …)