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Hekate continued to walk toward her father's house with an unvarying pace after the watcher left her until she reached a tongue of the forest of cedars that bordered his lands. Here she stopped and sat down in the shade with her back against the trunk of a tree, resting the staff across her lap. After a few minutes she allowed her eyes to close. After a few more minutes she carefully thought of nothing, of utter blackness. She waited, but there came to her no sense of the watcher probing for her and, still thinking of utter blackness, she rose and sidled off between the trees.

Although she had never before sought the silent shrine from the direction of the road, she had no trouble finding it. A thin thread of light? warmth?—not something she could truly see or feel but very real to her—led her onward through the trees. Sooner than she expected, she found the place where, for no reason at all, there was a space in which nothing except a soft odd-smelling moss grew. The odor was not unpleasant, being sharp and spicy, but it was not like anything else and the moss would grow nowhere else.

In the center of the open area was a very tall stump. Perhaps in the very distant past it had been carven; if so, time had smoothed away the marks so that the barest suggestion of a rounded head sat atop narrow, sloping shoulders. Possibly some of the irregularities over the front and back of the figure had been meant to show the folds of a gown. Perhaps not. The stump could have been a natural formation and she was imagining that the marks were the work of ancient worshipers.

Natural or carved by hands, what could not be mistaken was the sense of welcome, of protection, that enveloped the moss-grown clearing. Whether or not the stump was a made image of the Mother, She was here. Hekate breathed a long sigh of relief, crossed the clearing quickly, and rested her staff against the image. There was a quiver in the power around her and then it steadied.

She stared at the staff and the stump, but there was no change in either—and a question that had lingered in the back of her mind had been answered. If the staff had been some device of her father's, bespelled to record what she did, drain power from her, or mark her for her father's scrying or his creatures' finding, it was so no longer. Now it was either a simple wooden staff or a vessel for her filling.

Sighing again, Hekate crouched down at the foot of the stele, the bands of muscle that had held her shoulders rigid since her father laid his will upon her relaxing. She then emptied the bundles of herbs out of the basket and carefully pulled the scrap of parchment free of the withies.

The writing, so small that Hekate had to lift the scrap closer to her eyes, was undoubtedly her mother's. However, each symbol was formed painfully, clearly made with terrible effort. Asterie must have fought with all her strength against both physical weakness and magical coercion to write the message. And how had she gotten it into the basket?

Hekate knew that Asterie often went to the market. Apparently Perses did not bother to scry her or set a watcher on her because he was so confident (more confident than he should have been it seemed) of his control over her. Even so, how had she ever managed to bespell the merchant to get the basket into her daughter's hands? Now she thought of it, Hekate realized that the merchant's behavior had not been natural.

She blinked back tears. Asterie must have been hoarding tiny scraps of power, saving them in some artifact she could hide from Perses . . . perhaps for years. All the time Hekate had believed her mother no longer knew her, no longer cared, Asterie had been gathering strength and will for one final effort to save her daughter. The tears welled over Hekate's lower lids and streaked her cheeks. Why had she been so cruel as to abandon her mother? She had not even continued to greet Asterie, to kiss her even if she did not respond.

Hekate read the message again. "Coercion spell. Suck power. Flee or die."

Hekate stared at the little scrap. So Perses had decided to use a coercion spell on her even if she did his will. She shivered. She had really known that but had been unwilling to acknowledge it. Flee? Where? Where could she go, alone and on foot, that her father's creatures, paid human or otherplanar, could not reach her and drag her back?

She was safe here . . . No, she was not. The otherplanar things would not dare this clearing—Hekate had learned all her magic here, how to cast spells, how to build new spells, and Perses and his creatures had never sensed the magic or pierced the protections—but the armed men would care nothing for the Mother's protection. Or even if they did, there was nothing here to eat or drink; they would surround the clearing and take her when she was forced out by thirst and hunger.

Suddenly there were two other marks on the parchment. Hekate swallowed. More magic from her mother's tiny store, for those symbols had not been there when she first looked. The spell that released them would have been set to respond to some sign of her distress, perhaps the rhythm of her breathing or the damp of her fingers reacting to her fear.

The first was an odd mark at which she stared for a while before she remembered that her mother had made her memorize it, although it accorded with no word or sound in their language; it was a symbol of where her father's enemies lived: Olympus. The other Hekate recognized easily. She shivered again. It was the priests' mark for the caves of the dead.

For a moment a dreadful suspicion seized her. Could this message be a trap laid by her father? The caves of the dead were not a burial ground; they were the places where the Gifted or scapegoats or condemned folk were sacrificed to the king of the dead at the spring and autumn equinoxes. The sacrifices were bound and delivered to the caves on the last day of the two great festivals together with rich offerings of metal and cloth and sometimes food and wine. Had Perses forced her poor mother to write that message? Did he intend to be rid of his daughter by having her dragged into the underworld?

A moment later, the fingers that had tensed to tear the message to shreds, touched it gently instead. No, he would never have included the symbol for Olympus, if he even knew it. He was truly terrified of the dwellers in that city. Nor was it the time of either equinox festival, and it was long established that the king of the dead or his minions accepted human sacrifice at no other times. No, Perses would not risk offending the king of the dead by a mistimed sacrifice; he was possibly more afraid of the god of the underworld than of the Olympians. Besides, she would not be bound by sacrificial cords and could escape the caves.

Hekate frowned. Even if no ill was meant her, the caves of the dead were no place to seek sanctuary. But as the thought came, her black brows lifted. That was everyone's reaction . . . did not that make it the best place for her to go? Yes, of course it did. She nodded and took her bottom lip between her teeth. Had not her mother once said it was another place they could go if the protection of the silent shrine failed? Because . . . yes, because Perses was convinced that the emanations in the caves would interfere with his magic.

Was that true? Or was it another of her father's false notions. It must be or her mother would not have said she and Hekate could go there to work. But they never had gone to the caves of the dead; Asterie had said there was a reason why that must be a last resort . . . but she had never told Hekate why. Possibly there was something in the caves that damped magic. That might conceal her presence from her father or his creatures.

There was still the problem of food and drink. Hekate reached for the staff and began to get to her feet then sank back. Offerings other than human sacrifice were welcome in the caves at any time during the year and were made daily. Those offerings were mostly food and drink. If she had food and drink, she could hide in the caves until Perses gave her up and then she could find a way west to Olympus. Perhaps her father's enemies would protect her.

Then in doubt she twisted around to look up at the stele. Would it be safe to steal from the king of the dead? But did the offerings go to the king of the dead? Why should he bother to collect mostly worthless offerings of food and cheap date wine when he would not take men and women? But then what happened to the offerings? They disappeared, yes; they were always gone before the next sunrise.

Well, there were plenty of hungry folk about. What was more likely, that the king of the dead came to collect a few rounds of bread, a few platters of vegetables, and a jar or two of cheap wine or that a group of semi-outlaws kept a watch on the caves and helped themselves to the offerings. Hekate giggled faintly.

That made sense, even explaining why Asterie preferred not to go there. Folk who made their living by robbing the king of the dead were unlikely to be timid about ridding themselves of intruders. And they could not afford to have intruders. At best, betrayal would dry up their source of income; at worst, it would set the ruler of Ur-Kabos into a vengeful search to exterminate them.

The smile that had lingered on her lips disappeared. Such people would be no more welcoming to her than to any other. She could use a "look-by-me" spell, but if she had escaped Perses' notice that far, the spell would certainly betray her. That thought made her bite her lips. If she fled, how long would her absence be overlooked? Sometimes she might not see or hear from her father for weeks at a time, but now the most she would have would be two days and what was left of this one. Perses had said he would expect to hear her plans for killing the queen of Byblos in three days.

Byblos! Yes, her father expected her to go to Byblos and kill the queen. Well, why shouldn't she go to Byblos? If he set a watcher upon her, it would seem as if she were doing his will. But Byblos was a great seaport. She could find a ship going west. She could . . .

Suddenly the clearing was cold, all sense of welcome gone. Hekate leapt to her feet and faced the stump she associated with the Mother. Before she could even wonder what the withdrawal meant, a face formed in her mind. It was very young, very beautiful, with hair as golden as a sunrise, crisply curled, a straight, handsome nose, a wide, generous mouth, and the largest, bluest eyes. A face completely foreign to the people of Ka'anan.

"Dionysos," Hekate breathed.

How could she have forgotten? She had refused to try to save the mother and, like a fool, bound herself to protect the son, who had been exposed to die when Semele was sacrificed to the king of the dead. She could not leave Dionysos without explaining to him. He was so strongly Gifted and so unable to control his Gifts that he was half mad already. He depended on her to assure him that he was not mad, that he would learn to manage the power within him, to make clear to him what was real and what was Vision.

Whatever the danger to her, she must go to the dwelling of the Nymphae, who had nutured the babe she had rescued, and speak to Dionysos. Sure now of her object, she stooped to pick up the bundles of herbs she had cast out of the basket, and her glance caught the scrap of parchment she had let fall when the Mother withdrew. She picked up the parchment and in the same moment became aware that the warmth, the welcome, had been restored.

So, the Mother had been reminding her of her binding to Dionysos . . . or was She warning against the attempt to escape Perses by pretending to go to Byblos? In either case, Hekate realized, when she was about to wander, she had been slapped by a motherly hand to return her to the best and safest path. Hekate smiled, placed the slip of parchment on a flat rock, and whispered, "Burn," knowing she need not fear any magic she performed here would echo back to Perses.

When the scrap was gone to ash, she scraped the ashes tenderly into her hand and let them sift into one of the many cracks in the stele. The Mother would hide whatever faint traces of Asterie might cling to the ash. As she bowed to the power that dwelt in the stump, she remembered the symbols her mother had so painfully inscribed and her conclusion that her father meant to use the coercion spell on her whether or not she did as he had ordered. He would not have been fooled by her starting on the road to Byblos without first telling him . . . and telling him would not have been safe either.

She hoped that he planned to use the spell either when she returned to the house or when she described her plan to kill the queen of Byblos and would not seek her sooner. It was a reasonable hope, for the coercion spell could then be used to reinforce what she had herself planned, and her behavior would be more natural. Hekate took a deep breath. She had said she would gather herbs and that is what she would seem to do while she made her way to the house of the Nymphae. Fortunately they had some protection against magic; for a little while it might mask her presence.

Although she tried to ward herself against the touch of a watcher by again fixing her mind on utter blackness, when she stepped from the Mother's clearing into the cedar trees she felt nothing. Relieved, she set as fast a pace as would not exhaust her, hurrying uphill and somewhat northward through the trees. They were dense enough here to have lost many of their lower branches and to cast so deep a shade that little grew between them and she was not hindered by underbrush. Eventually the trees thinned and to the left she saw the road that curved around Ur-Kabos. She followed the curve but stayed within the shelter of the cedars.

The sun had passed its zenith by the time she worked her way around the town. Hekate turned more sharply north, feeling a renewed touch of anxiety because the many spirits and auras of the town dwellers would no longer mask hers; however, there was still no sense of an otherplanar watcher or even the fainter foulness that was her father's personal scrying. She increased her pace, not bothering to pretend to search for herbs, moving swiftly through the cedars and cypresses that were now interspersed with other growth, oak and ash, the trees just beginning to leaf. Little by little the cedars and cypress gave way entirely to ash and oak.

She was tiring, the westering sun beginning to trouble her eyes, when she reached the barren ridge. Hekate paused under the last of the trees and looked around carefully. She could see no sign of shepherds or the flocks of goats and sheep that sometimes grazed on the undergrowth that rimmed the edge of the forest. Then she scanned the ridge until she saw the cleft that looked so much like an upper lip. After a last glance to be sure the area was clear, she ran as fast as she could for the cleft.

On the other side was a sheer cliff, dropping away into a naked, rock-strewn ravine, but Hekate did not hesitate. She ran boldly ahead into what seemed thin air, gasped as a brief spate of dizziness made her slow, and stumbled slightly because here the true slope, gentle and covered with grass and bright flowers, was somewhat less precipitous than she expected.

Beyond the illusion that she had fashioned for the Nymphae as part of the price for raising Dionysos was a small but lush valley. At the bottom of the gentle hill, a clear stream ran. The air was warmer and much more moist than on the other side of the ridge, and the trees that dotted the hillside were as full-leafed as in summer. The stream, Hekate knew, came out of the truly unscalable cliffs that surrounded the valley elsewhere.

Straight ahead, across the stream which was well-furnished with stepping stones, there seemed to be a patch of dense woods. It was only when Hekate entered the grove that she could see—what she knew was in the inner cluster—a house whose walls and roof were created out of living trees sealed with thick vines with broad, flat leaves.

The Nymphae—even after knowing them intimately and visiting them at least once a month for years, Hekate could not tell them apart—waited for her outside the hanging vines that could be pushed aside to form a door. They were beautiful, if not quite human, with faintly green skin and long, yellow-green hair, which was really closer to very fine root tendrils. Their large, almond-shaped eyes were green, too, the bright yet soft green of new foliage, but their ears were very long and pointed, standing well above the crowns of their heads, and, as if to make up for that, they barely had noses at all, just delicate nostrils protected by slightly protuberant flaps of skin.

"Greetings, O Nymphae—" Hekate began formally.

She got no further. The free-hanging vines flew this way and that as a boy exploded outward barely avoiding careening into the Nymphae. As one they turned their heads in his direction and smiled fondly, showing small, but very sharp pointed teeth behind their darker green lips.

"You must go away," the boy cried. "You must go to that dark place, that deep dark place, where I may not go with you now but I will meet you, oh, sometime, sometime, I don't know when."

His naturally fair skin was pale to near transparency. Sweat beaded on his forehead and streaked his cheeks. His hands trembled, and his eyes, already too large, looked as if they might fall out of his head.

Hekate stepped forward and took the boy's hands. "You have been Seeing me, Dionysos?"

"Not at first," he said and suddenly shuddered. "That was terrible. Evil. Evil. I didn't want to See it. And I will See it over and over. Not that. I can't bear it."

He uttered a stifled sob, and the Nymphae rushed to him; one embraced him, another stroked his hair, the third stroked his back. He clung to them for a moment, unmarked by their long, brown nails that looked much like very sharp thorns, and then drew himself together, shuddering again.

"If I was in your Seeing, Dionysos," Hekate said, "I will know what it means. You will have told the Vision to the right person, and it will leave you."

As she spoke, she drew him out of the embrace of the Nymphae, who let him go without protest and then all waited together, watching him. Ignoring them, although she knew them to be capable of killing her or, for that matter, a full troop of armed men, Hekate led Dionysos to a raised bank of turf where she sat down beside him.

"Oh, yes." He seemed relieved by what she had said for a moment but then swallowed hard. "But what I Saw wasn't good. An evil one brought more evil into the world and . . . and set it on you. What will happen when you go into the dark place? I couldn't See any more, but I was afraid! I have never been so afraid in my life."

"No, I don't suspect you've had much cause to fear. The Nymphae have protected you well. But don't worry about me, Dionysos," she added, her lips tightening into a thin line. "I'm well versed in dealing with terror. Now tell me what you Saw."

He nodded and took a deep, calming breath. "I was braiding vine for a new sandal strap, and it seemed to me that the vine grew longer and longer and that I was forced to follow it. I came out of the valley and down the hill past two herds of goats . . ." For a moment his face lost the pinching that made it old and lightened into that of a delighted child. "I like goats. The kids are adorable. Can we have goats here?"

"No, I'm afraid not. Goats eat shrubbery and they might be tempted to dine on the Nymphae's hair or on their house. Sheep maybe, but not goats."

"There are goats on the estate of Lady Io," one of the Nymphae said; her voice was like the sighing of a breeze in tall grass.

Hekate turned to look at her. The Nymphae spoke seldom and only when what they said was essential. "We will speak of Lady Io later," Hekate said, nodding to acknowledge the importance of the remark. "First I must hear Dionysos' Vision." She turned to the boy. "Go on, Dionysos."

"Well, I'm not certain how far I walked or, rather, floated or flew. You know how it is when I See. Anyway it was beyond a place where the houses were all of mud brick and built almost atop one another. Then I came to a very large house—two houses really. I felt you there, but you weren't there. Is that your home, Hekate?"

"It was. No more, I think."

The boy nodded again. "Good. It's a bad place, very bad. I went into the second house, down through the roof and then down into a very deep place. It was very dark. I know I can't fall when I am Seeing, but if one fell there . . . I don't know what was at the bottom because I didn't go all the way. The plait of grass drew me through a passage—"

"A straight passage?" Hekate asked.

Dionysos shrugged. "So it seemed, but Seeing isn't all that clear."

So the twists and turns, even the wall she bumped into, to get to her father's workroom were all illusion. Hekate bit her lips. She thought she was good at illusion; apparently there was much she still had to learn.

"Go on," she said to Dionysos.

"I heard shouting, a man screaming about the wrong kind of spell—"

"The wrong kind of spell," Hekate interrupted. "Wait, Dionysos. Can you remember the exact words? This is important to me."

The boy closed his eyes. "He said, 'You stupid bitch, how could you build a spell that cannot be cast but must be passed by touch? Do you think she'll let me lay my staff on her, or even a hand? Change it!' But there was no answer, just the sound of something soft but heavy falling."

Hekate's teeth set hard over a gasp of consternation and an expletive of bitter rage. But there was nothing she could do. She was no match for her father's magic. Her return would only put her totally in Perses' power or mean her death. That couldn't help her mother. If she could escape, she would have the chance to grow in knowledge and power. Then if she returned she might have a chance to free poor Asterie. Caught up in his Vision, Dionysos hadn't noticed her distress and had continued speaking.

"And then the plait of grass pulled me into a strange chamber. There was no one on the floor, so I suppose some time had passed, but time is strange in my Seeing. A horrible room, all lit by mage lights, and dead things were somehow fastened to the walls . . . Poor creatures. They didn't die an easy death. And a man, tall and heavy, soft-looking, as if his body was not used enough or older than his face. I didn't like his face, although it was handsome in the Ka'ananite style—long dark hair, much curled, black brows, large black eyes, a long, hooked nose, and a full beard, also black and curled. There was something about it—"

"Never mind, Dionysos, I know the face all too well. Then what did you See?"

For the first time, the boy hesitated, then reached for her hand. Hekate clasped his and found the fingers cold. "The words won't be right," Dionysos said. "They'll sound silly, but inside . . . inside me there was such sickness and loathing . . . my throat was thick with bile, and I couldn't breathe because of the stench." His grip on her hand tightened. "You know, I'm not often aware of warmth or cold or smell in my Seeing, but this time I was so cold that if I had teeth they would have chattered loud enough for the man to hear. I was sorry he couldn't hear. I wanted to stop him."

"I have told you many times that a Seeing is not a real thing, Dionysos. It might become real in the future or might have been real in the past, but . . ."

"I know that, but this felt real and it felt . . . soon." Dionysos shuddered, but didn't stop speaking. "The man got a basin from a table near the wall. Then he went behind a screen and carried out a boy who was bound and gagged but lay limp in his arms. He carried the boy to the basin, turned him over, and—and cut his throat."

"Mother have mercy," Hekate whispered.

"I screamed and I pulled at the plait of rope, but it was tight around me and wouldn't let me move, not even reach out. The man looked up and around, as if he might have heard some echo of my cry, but by then I was still for the boy was dead already or as good as dead. And the man looked younger, stronger."

Blood magic, Hekate thought, and her hand turned as cold as the fingers she gripped. But then she frowned. If the purpose of killing the boy had been to absorb his life-force, the victim should have been conscious and terrified, and he should have been killed in the longest and most painful way possible. Cutting the throat of an unconscious victim . . . Caught up in his Vision and unaware of Hekate's thoughts, Dionysos nonetheless reminded her that Perses' purpose was not essentially to gain power.

"When the basin was near full of blood, the man began drawing forms on the floor, first a very large pentagram with the bowl in the empty space in the middle."

Hekate's lips twisted with disgust. "You don't need to tell me more about the forms. I'll never do such a summoning and don't care what Perses drew."

There was another silence, brief but pregnant. "It appeared," Dionysos said, seeming to force a thin voice through a constricted throat. "Right in the center of the pentagram, this . . . thing . . . appeared and began to lap up the blood from the basin. I was cold before. Now I was freezing and . . . I told you how sick I was."

An otherplanar creature but in true physical manifestation! Hekate almost smiled. That must have cost her father high in power and life-force, more than he got from the death of the boy. Good. But then she put together her father's rage over needing physically to touch the spell—almost certainly the coercion spell—to its victim and the summoning of a physical outdweller, and there was nothing to smile about.

"I'm sorry, Dionysos, but I must ask you to tell me what the creature looked like. If it was summoned to put a spell on me—"

"It was." Dionysos swallowed hard. "I Saw that later. I know I must tell you so you will know what to watch for. And if I don't say what I Saw aloud, I'll See it again and again." He sighed. "But it sounds so . . . so . . . nothing! And I . . . it terrified me!"

Hekate reached out with her free hand and touched the boy's cheek. "There is nothing to be ashamed of in fearing otherplanar creatures. I have been terrified by some I could not see at all. Their touch on the soul is foul."

Dionysos nodded eagerly. "Yes. Yes. The whole room was full of filth although the thing itself was little, about the size of a large cat. It looked more like a rat, only the naked tail was short and thick, except for the very end, which was like a stinger, only curved, and the face was flatter, without whiskers. It was all gray and its private parts were huge. I could see them clearly because when it had lapped up all the blood, it stood on two legs, like a man."

Hekate became aware that the Nymphae had come closer. "Very bad," one said, not the one who had spoken before, Hekate thought, but the voice was identical. "Guhrt. Fifth or sixth plane. All hunters there."

"Hunters," Hekate repeated, her voice flat. Then she looked at Dionysos again. "Was that the end of the Vision?"

"Nearly." Dionysos looked relieved, and his grip on her hand loosened. "Then the man picked up a long staff and made the end of it start to glow. Even that was disgusting, like yellow-green snot. He reached over the edge of the pentagram and touched the thing. It screamed and tried to seize the staff but failed, and the end of the staff stopped glowing."

The third Nymph spoke. "It has the spell now. The guhrt hunt by sight and scent and are relentless. They do not need to sleep and with a bowl of blood in it, it can go without food and water for a long time."

"I don't think it will go into the deep black place," Dionysos said. "That was the end of my Seeing in that place. After the man's staff touched the . . . the thing, the grass plait pulled me swiftly into the mountains. I Saw you go in to the dark place and I felt the fear come out. The fear was so great that the grass rope let me go, but I didn't See the creature follow you in."

"But that was the end of the Vision, wasn't it?"

"When you went into the black place and the fear came out, yes."

"Dionysos, this is very important. Do you have any idea when the man gave the spell to the guhrt?"

He frowned. "There's no time in my Seeing. It could have been hours or days or weeks between when I heard him complain about the spell and when I saw him summon the guhrt. And more weeks before you went into the dark place."

"No, that's not what I meant. I know the summoning of the guhrt must be within three days. What I need to know is whether the summoning was done after I left the house today or whether it will be done in the morning tomorrow or even the next day. If it's here already and has traced me . . ."

Dionysos shook his head. "The chamber where the man worked was deep underground and lit with mage lights. I couldn't tell whether it was day or night or even whether days and nights passed while he did the summoning. I'm sorry. This Seeing is the most useless Gift! Oh, wait. When I was drawn out of the man's chamber, the rising sun near blinded me. Is that a help?"

"I—" Hekate began and then took a deep breath. "Yes. Yes, it is! Perses set a watcher on me when I left the house this morning, but it was no hunter and was not material. So if you saw the rising sun after the summoning, then the creature cannot set out to hunt me until tomorrow morning. I need not run this moment. The caves of the dead are no more than two or three candlemarks' walk. From here to Perses' house is at least four."

"They are swift," a Nymph said; Hekate thought it was the first one who had spoken, "but it is not in this world yet. We will warn you."

"However it will follow you here," the second remarked.

"I'm so sorry," Hekate cried. "Is there some way I can hide my trace?"

"Do not fear for us," the third of the Nymphae said, baring her pointed teeth. "We cannot attack it; we are forbidden. But we can defend ourselves. However, the child should not be here."

"Can I take him to the caves of the dead with me?" Hekate asked.

"I can't go there now," Dionysos said. "I must meet you there some other time."

"Was that part of the Seeing?"

"No. It's something I just know. And I know that you will go away and I won't see you for a long time." His voice shook a little, but then he smiled suddenly. "But there will be lambs and kids and—and a vine, a vine I must carry with me when I, too, go. East and south."

"His mother's sister, the Lady Io has returned to her homeplace from Thebes." The sighing voice of the first of the Nymphae followed as Dionysos' faded on his final words. "The Lady Io, like the Lady Semele, quarrelled with her father. We learned that she made inquiry about her sister and arranged for her to be told the tale of Dionysos' birth and Semele's sacrifice. The Lady Io then communicated to us her desire to nuture her sister's son, she being childless."

"But will he be safe?" Hekate asked anxiously. "I am bound to protect him."

"You will do that best by going away," the second Nymph said.

And the third added, "Dionysos can protect himself from any ordinary magic and Lady Io has good defenses."

"Are you willing to go to your aunt, Dionysos?" Hekate asked.

He blinked his huge eyes slowly and shrugged. "Since I know I do go, I must be willing." Then he smiled. "Yes. There will be people to talk to. The Nymphae are very good to me, but . . ." He shrugged. "I have been lonely, and I will be more lonely when you no longer come. And it is time to see to the planting of my vines."


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