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Now she talks about the antler-headed men, and of their spell.* "The spell is a creation stranger and bigger than anything ever made in the world before, bigger than the circle of standing stones that people have made on a big field, far in the east.** She says, "To create this spell, the antler-headed men need a power and a strangeness of thought that they haven't had before. A power that comes from the other world, beneath the earth, where the spirits walk."
"Hob and his stick-headed kind take this power from the spirit world," the girl says, "and the spirits, likewise, take their due from the antler-headed men." Now she is quiet. "How do the spirits take their due?" I say.
She explains how the spirits take that which the antler-headed men want more than anything else in the world, whatever that may be. This thing is put to the axe by the antler-headed men - killed - and is then taken by the spirits down to the other world. As is due for this, the spirits give power to the antler-headed man, and strangeness in his thoughts, so that he may cast the spell correctly.
"And with Hob," I say, "what's this thing that he wants more than anything in the world, which the spirits make him put to the axe?" Now she takes her foot from the river, white and cold, with little beads of water standing out on it. "It's his son," she says. "It's his son."
*I'm not really sure how I want to translate "saying-path" here - I'm going to go with "spell" for now, for reasons that should become apparent as we go along.