Lady Carluna stopped her horse at the edge of the woods and looked up to the twilit sky where the White Moon, Iareah, was already travelling on her night path, but the pale lights of the stars couldn’t be seen yet. She turned back in the saddle to her companions and said:
„We continue on foot, ladies. You, Lord Kelinor, just stay here, rest and wait for us. We will return before dawn. And don’t worry, my brave knight, the forest will guard us, better than you could.”
The princess and her ladies-in-waiting, Shatasha and Watawan dismounted, took their saddlebags off their horses and quickly changed their riding boots to sandals. The knight, in his chainmail and armed to the teeth, moved a bit slower than the young ladies. He also dismounted and started to look after the horses. He gripped their bridles and led them to a spot rich with grass, where they could graze. By the time he finished, the three young ladies have already vanished in the woods.
Iareah nearly reached her zenith when Carluna, Shatasha and Watawan arrived to a small, circular clearing. On the rim of the glade white mushrooms grew freely, but the ladies were not interested in gathering them. They were heading straight to a stone dais waiting silently under an ancient oak in the middle of the clearing.
„Here we are”, Carluna sad. „This is the Sacred Glade of Ashili. I was barely ten years old, when my mother brought me here for the first time. Then she explained to me that if I wanted to be really close to Mother of All Nature, I have to come here. And tonight we want to be very, very close to Her. Tonight is the night for the 111th conjunction of the White and Dark Moon. Tonight is the wedding night of Ashili and Valoran, the true creators of the World. They won’t refuse our appeal tonight… Let’s prepare the place.
In the next hour, the ladies cleaned up the glade, embellished the altar with bouquets and garlands, and then hung red, green and yellow lampions on the lower branches of the trees standing around the glade. By the time they finished everything it as almost midnight. As the last act of preparation, they took their sacred white cloaks from the saddlebags and put them on.
The three graces formed a circle and took each other’s hand to offer a silent prayer to the Mother. Then stepping to the tree, they started to dance around the ancient oak with smooth, easy steps. Their circling dance became faster and faster, until their whirling was so intense that everything seemed to be blurred. The ladies went on with their dance until the White Moon has completely reached her zenith. Then they abruptly stopped, and gathered around the stone altar.
Lady Carluna, who took her position at the side edge of the altar, waited until her dizziness wore. Then she raised her outspread arms toward the moon, and started to chant.
„Mother of All Nature, life-bringer Goddess, look down and hear us out! Take our sacred oath and bless our covenant. We are here to forge the Covey of the Silver Swan, which will serve Life, Light and Love. Our offering is this: we will free your beloved maiden, Cattyrose and restore her powers and rebuild her religion. Our appeal is this: life-bringer Goddess, bestow on us the Power and Protection of Nature. Let us to serve both you and Cattyrose with our complete devotion and with our full power!”
A light breeze rose from the branches of the oak and they heard a rippling laughter of a woman…
At the same moment, in a dark forest far, far away, a black shadow raised to the skies from the rugged, blood-painted ash tree which stood in the deepest, most dark place of those woods. Its flying was followed by the croaking of crows and the hoot of owls…