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Hekate’s 9th Key

Rose-colored curtains fluttered in the breeze. The open window faced a bright green lawn, split by a curved, stone walkway. The path led up to the front porch, where a mahogany double-door gleamed in the early morning light. Lying there, in the grass near the door, was a woman.

She looked to be sleeping peacefully, but an astute observer would quickly notice the paleness of her lips and the pallid color of her skin. She was obviously in some distress. Though, at this early hour, the chances of her receiving aid were slim. The nearest house was about a mile away, and the occupants of the home with the rose-colored curtains were a week into their month-long vacation.

With a shudder and a gasp, the woman jolted awake. The sweat on her brow glistened like dew drops as she slowly rose to a sitting position on the steps. She took a few deep breaths, then stood, shaking her hands as if to prepare for a strenuous event.

In any other scenario, she might have been a jogger, warming up for a run. The woman squatted and leaned forward, stretching and flexing before rising again and planting her feet. She focused her gaze forward, her expression becoming slack and void of emotion. Loose strands of tawny hair escaped a tight ponytail, the long tendrils blowing in the muggy Georgian breeze. Black cotton sleeves covered her arms as they rose toward the sky.

In a whisper, she chanted, “Ancient Goddess, Hekate, your daughter beseeches thee. Mother, Maiden, Crone – I am your own, invoking the trinity. So mote it be.” Raising her hands above her head, fingers forming a triangle, the woman performed a series of complicated gestures. Her body stayed in position as she began a sort of stationary ballet. When the graceful movements ceased, her long, brown hair flowed loose down to the middle of her back. Her eyes shone bright green, sparkling with an ethereal light.

The woman turned toward the open window. She’d already tried this once, from a distance, but had only succeeded in airing out the house and setting the pastel curtains a-fluttering. The house was protected by a magical shield of sorts, making it impossible to simply tesser in or out. Now, with the power of Hekate coursing through her, she laughed in triumph, “The Key of Illumination is mine for the taking!” With a flick of her hand, the front door flew open, allowing her instant entry. 

She walked through the foyer, savoring the moment. It had been decades since she’d last felt the key’s power. Here, it radiated, calling out to her to reclaim the magical object of endless power. Passing through the home, she nearly laughed at the family portraits lining the walls. Her old nemesis, an ex-coven member, had stolen the key from her before disappearing altogether. It had taken an immense amount of magic to locate the witch, and a three-month stake out before the thief had finally vacated the house.

She’d obviously tried to blend into society, but the woman knew the truth – the real reason she’d stolen the key. It wasn’t for any altruistic purpose, rather purely selfish motivation. The Key of Illumination allows its holder the ability to access infinite knowledge. Thus, if one knew how to ask, they could potentially devise a way to become immortal. This made Hekate’s 9th key highly sought after by the elites in the Pagan community – those who knew the keys were more than steps in a watered-down ritual, that is. No, the keys were real, and very powerful, magical objects.

The woman climbed a steep set of black-carpeted stairs. She could feel the key’s pulsating energy getting stronger with each step. Without hesitation, she followed its pull, leading her to a dark, wooden door at the end of the upstairs hallway. Twisting the cool, brass knob, she pushed the door open wide, revealing a study. The desk was neat and orderly and the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves housed a variety of historical texts referring to magical practices.She looked around, Hekate’s influence drew her attention to a small, black box in the corner. She rushed over to it. Locked.

With an imperceptible wave of her hand, the combination dial began to spin. Finally, she heard a click and the door popped open, revealing her prize. The key glimmered with an unnatural glow as she retrieved it and placed it on a chain, hanging it around her neck. Without bothering to close the safe or the study door, the woman rushed out of the house. As soon as she was safely passed the magical wards that had been protecting the property, she uttered, “Recedo” and simply vanished.

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge #FOWC – ‘Ancient

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