Over the Hedge
Do No Harm, Part Three
1 August 2002
For a couple weeks Hecate summoned me, four nights a week, sending her hound to rouse me from my sleep and travel to the Crossroads. She showed me an entirely new perspective on magic, methods and avenues I never would have encountered on the track I was already on. The first thing she taught me was a brief spell, something simple with low cost, that would allow me to see over the hedge that divided the worlds. She told me the walls between worlds used to be thinner, and in most of the world didn't exist at all, until certain European notions pushed old ideas aside and enforced their will around the world. The hedge, she insisted, was a development of that sensibility, and so many of the old ways had failed to adapt to its presence that they were growing unreliable.
On the other side I was able to see so much of what I had always known to be true. The world of spirits, as Abuela had described it, was still intact; just farther away, less accessible, than she had been taught. Hecate condemned the Greeks who had stolen her from her people, and the cultures they inspired who ripped the world in two. She encouraged me to continue with the ways I knew, and to use what she taught to supplement the old ways or help them find their way through the hedge.
The more I learned, the more the statue bothered me. It was becoming obvious to me that whatever was wrong with it was something I was growing more sensitive to. It was on this night, when the hound came for me, that I finally had some answers.
We walked the same path to the Crossroads, but my mentor was not there. When I stopped to ask why, the hound continued down a different path, and I had to run to catch up. After another long walk, we emerged in the square under a full moon in a clear sky, the sharp lines of Hecate's features glowing in the silver light as she stood looking at the statue. For a moment, it was hard to believe she wasn't one herself.
"You've been spending a great deal of time considering this monument," she said, not turning away from it but lowering her hand to scratch behind the hound's ears as it sat down at her side.
"Yes, mistress. It's...wrong, somehow." She nodded, then raised her hand until it was open, her palm a few inches from her face, her fingers cupped toward her. She breathed out a line of shimmering energy, which pooled into a rough sphere in her hand. When it was about the size of my fist, she stopped and began rolling the ball around in her hand until it was perfectly round and glowing bright. She turned, finally, and looked down to me.
"Open your eyes, child. Tell me what you see."
I took a deep breath and went to check my pockets, to find I was holding a sewing needle in my hand despite never seeing it before. I clutched the needle, began muttering the ritual she had taught me, and as I neared the end I dug it into my left arm to draw enough blood to power the sight. When I opened my eyes, I could see the statue, cold stone with almost a complete absence of magic hanging on it. Most things have something, some trace of spirits interacting or magic that was stored in it some time in the past. This, however, was like it had been drained, completely dry in a way I couldn't quite explain. I tried, I fumbled over my words and pointed out the contrast with the rest of the square, but nothing I said seemed to hold the full power of how devoid of power the statue was. She stepped forward, kneeling down in front of me.
"The realm of spirits has a depth," she explained, when her face was at the same level as mine. It was the closest we'd ever been, and I could feel my pulse quicken. "There is the border between the worlds, but there's also a distance away from it to each. There are things in your world, things so physically real that even we gods may have trouble discerning them. And there are things in my world, so ethereal that they look nothing like what you know and cannot be accessed without a source of true power. Do you understand?" I nodded, keeping my eyes locked on her. "Good." She brought her hand forward and slowly pushed the ball of energy into my chest.
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