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What Is The Hedge?

A Land Between Lands - C. Buntin

At the edge of the forest, between the plowed fields of man and the wild woods, there is a land between lands, a land unto itself. It is known by many names: the Borderland, the Hedgerow, the Tanglewood, but all are one and the same. This land stands between the open places and the sheltering forest and any point where wilderness ends and the civilized places of humans begin. It is a way station, connecting to an infinite number of worlds and times, and where they all spill over, swirling together like colored smoke and mist. It is also a place where the waking world of humans and the magical realms of Faerie meet and bleed together. Things become blurred herein and what is real and unreal is less certain, as confused as the tangling brambles. One can find gateways to the Tanglewood in many places, sometimes even within the cities of humans, amongst those little forgotten places where the green has been allowed to creep back in, wild, and unchecked. Those places where the fence line has become overgrown with the wild rose, brambles, and honeysuckle, mark the end of places frequented by humans, places that are forgotten or abandoned by most people; and these places lead to the Borderland. The bushes, the undergrowth, those places that are neither garden nor completely wilderness, conceal a path to the Hedgerow. Those untamed twisted places at the edge of town, that divide village from meadows, hills, and forests can, if approached with the right key, open the gate to the Tanglewood. Or the knotted vines, isolated trees and snaking nightshade that grow in narrow strips of land that divide one field from another, can also be doorways to the Borderland. There are many ways in to the Realm of Faerie, but the one path most easily gained by many creatures outside of the Eternal Realm is through the verdant Hedgerow. For all these places are regions where the veil between man’s world and The Other World is thinnest and therein a doorway exists.

The Borderland, or, as its inhabitants prefer to call it, the Hedgerow, is inhabited and watched over by a diverse community of creatures, collectively known as Hedgerow Faeries. The two largest and most dominant of the many groups within the Hedge are the tanglewood or hedge-boggles and the Green Maids. The Green Maids are a branch of faeries descended from Queen Trillium- or ‘the Green Lady’-, and her consort the Green Man. Their court is known as the High Green Court, and it is from here that they rule the Hedge. Chief among those faeries that are appointed to the task of protecting the Hedge by Queen Trillium and The Green Man are the hedge-boggles. They are, by far, the most numerous, and actually have their origins outside of the hedge, but more on them will be written elsewhere. Also among the inhabitants of the Hedge are Pillywiggen (Pillywiggen are flower faeries that normally inhabit English flower gardens but have come to the Hedge when said flower gardens have been destroyed), dour root gnomes, soldierly dragonfly faeries, shimmering sprites, capricious pixies, deceitful will-o-the-wisps, gentle moth-maidens, the wise Root Mother, and the great Hieronymus the Hedge mage. And that is just to name a few!

No creature or thing is capable of entering the Hedge without the knowledge of the High Green Court, nor may they remain without their leave. Those who bear the magical key- a tiny green leaf shaped gem- may enter as they desire. Only creatures who are favorites of the High Green Court or whose business takes them often times away from the Hedge possess these, however. On rare occasions some humans or other creatures not of faerie kin have earned these keys, they are called ‘faerie friends’, and are privileged indeed. However, some still manage to enter the Hedge unbidden, but often with dire consequences. Many an unwelcome intruder has run screaming from the Hedge, sometimes driven forever mad, sometimes simply more cautious. This, however, is preferred to the fate of those who refuse to leave, for they are destined to become a part of the Hedge for all eternity, transformed into stones or trees, eventually all but disappearing under the dense cover of ivy, moss and briar rose. Many a strange object- and even stranger creatures- can only just be discerned as vague shapes beneath carpet-like moss, and many oddly troll shaped clumps of honeysuckle line the labyrinthine paths of the Hedge. Sometimes those who enter for idle curiosity’s sake are set to wander forever, led astray by the will-o-the-wisps, lost in swirling mists and thick grasping fog, or they might emerge within times or lands not their own. Typically, such fates wait only for those who enter with bad or frivolous intent, for the Hedge is often a reflection of the thing or person who enters- so all beware who cross the threshold unto the Hedge! The biggest threat, often times, to the Hedge are either invasions of goblins or rampaging trolls. Goblins bear a great hatred towards the Hedge- especially towards hedge-boggles- but also seek to use the Hedge as the quickest route to the realms of Faerie and to other realms for plundering treasure and slaves for the infamous Goblin Market. The wars fought between hedge-boggles and goblins are legendary. Trolls are the most typical accidental intruders, and often become enraged simply due to panic rather than malicious intent, but they are easily dealt with due to their stupidity. Many are the tales from the Hedge, and many the players, and all will be told in time or as they are related to this most privileged chronicler.

© The World of Kevin Buntin