Deal 600: Decision and Trial

From above, you can see clearly what is most obscured on the ground. But you also miss details. It is a great way to see the pattern of the garden maze, but from overhead you don’t get to experience the smell of the roses or the prick of their thorns.

The hedge stood before me, at least ten feet tall, and extending to either side of the entrance gate farther than I’d care to guess. The gate itself was a simple affair, mounted on a post, flush with the front face of the neatly groomed hedge. Beyond the gate, a passageway walled with hedges extended into the distance, a gentle curve preventing a long view.

Somewhere inside was hidden my prize.

Before committing to the contest of wills, I tried shifting my point of view outside my body. I’ve never been very skilled at this sort of clairvoyance, but if there were ever a time for my meagre talents to provide some assistance, this would be it. But alas, either the maze was warded, or my abilities were going to remain muted for now. All I could see clearly from overhead matched what I could see standing in front of the gate.

Somewhere inside was hidden my prize. If I could find it in time, my powers would unlock and I would be able to realize my full potential. Having my powers now would make finding it simple. But it was clear that the easy way out was not permitted.

What was permitted was a staff of any wood not more than two inches in diameter and not more than five feet long. A metallic or crystalline knob was permitted on its end, but the staff was not allowed any enchantments. Which was a shame, because I had discovered a way to enchant a short staff to always point north, and that might have been useful.

I didn’t have all day. This gate would only exist for a short while, and once entered, I would only have a few hours for this attempt. There would be no shame in turning and walking away. In fact, by walking away completely I would preserve my beauty and remain a mortal. Of course, as a mortal, I would always wonder what I might have become.

In the end, that is the bargain. Certain beauty and never knowing, or knowing and becoming something other than mortal.

I can ponder the gate for a short time yet.


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