Over the Hedge
Do No Harm, Part Two
13 July 2002
There was something off about the statue. I could feel it ever since I'd moved to town, like it was somehow...wrong, that it interacted with magic but not in the way it was intended. I couldn't shake the nagging thought that there was something that needed to be done, and I just knew I had to be the one to do it.
None of the rituals seemed to be working quite like they should, and I could remember nothing in Abuela’s teachings that could help me figure out why. There had to be something to the nature of magic, or the spiritual realm itself, that wasn’t covered by the rituals and practices I knew. I considered the possibility that other traditions had explored this aspect of magic, traditions where the basic maintenance of mystical energy was seen as something in which humans could participate rather than a purview of the gods.
I had spent seven months digging around in what I could find, and while some avenues seemed promising, nothing had produced fruit. I found a small magic shop, got to know the owners a bit, but when I asked if anyone knew anything about the statue they just gave me mundane history. I passed out last night surrounded by books and notes. As the information I had gathered bounced around in my head, trying to find a place to land, I was approached by a black dog, strong and long-haired with a glimmer of intelligence in its eyes. As my mind fixed on it, everything else seemed to melt away, until I felt I was standing with it in a real space.
"You wish to know how the worlds meet," it said, as though it were answering a question rather than asking one.
"Can you tell me?" I asked.
"I am a guard and a shepherd. My mistress gives answers." I saw now that the dog sat at the edge of a road which seemed to stretch on forever beyond it. The closer I looked at the road the more it resembled a river, but it never lost the sense of being solid. I turned back and saw a forest behind me.
"Is this a dream?"
"Does it matter?" I turned back to the dog and exhaled sharply to brace myself.
"Lead, and I will follow."
We walked the road for a long time, neither speaking to the other, with no landscape in sight. It seemed the road just existed, surrounded by void, and even the thought of looking at it for any length of time was painful. Finally, some land began to appear, empty but for rocks and craggy trees. Then we reached an intersection, where three roads met in the midst of a field, barren but for small plots of wild grass. Standing in the center of the intersection was a woman in a black, finely-tailored suit. Her black hair was in a tight braid riding her brow like a crown, and she held a torch that provided the only light to this place. When I tried to focus on the details of her face, it began to seem as though she had three, and I found it difficult to maintain the focus long. Her features were strong, bronzed, and I would later learn they betrayed an eastern Mediterranean origin. She had to have been eight feet tall, with finely-crafted muscles and eyes that burned with a restrained passion that almost hurt to stare deeply into. I felt my breath catch at her form and turned my eyes down and my attention to centering myself again.
"Welcome, child," she said, extending a hand as though to lead me further. I stepped slightly forward as the dog sat by her side.
"Thank you. Where are we?"
"The Crossroads. This is where all things meet."
"Who are you? Is this your realm?"
"I am Hekate, Goddess of the Threefold Crossroads, Lady of the Liminal Spaces, Mistress of Magic, Keeper of the Night and Its Ghosts. This is one form my realm may take." I shuddered at the title and took another hesitant step forward.
"I understand you have answers."
"Yes. If you will become my disciple, I can reveal the flow of magic itself to you." I looked at her hand, still open to me, but now I saw it held a key. I looked into her eyes and knew she could deliver what she promised. I took a deep breath before reaching out and taking her hand.
"If you will have me, Mistress." She smiled.
"I would not have invited you otherwise. It will be some nights before you have the answers you seek; rest, for now. We shall meet more in your dreams."
I opened my eyes to daylight, surrounded by books and notes.
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