The crescent moon rises above the swaying branches of the stately oaks as their leaves shiver in the cool night air. You pause here, letting the silvery light of the celestial bodies pour over you. It seems to tingle against your skin, imbued with ancient magic from a time long forgotten. You close your eyes to savor it, and when you open them, something in the air has changed. The stars are different, brighter some how, and the air somehow fresher.
You continue on your walk, along a narrow path. White flowers glisten in the grass beneath the trees, catching the light of the moon to mirror the stars in the sky. As you pause to pick one, you spy a white hart, its antlers arching above its head. The animal considers you for a long moment, still as stone. You gaze back, your heart pounding for you have never seen a deer like this before and your instincts tell you it is a great omen.
The hart dips its head as if nodding to you then leaps into the woods, disappearing through the trees. You hold your breath, half hoping it will return, but when it does not, you move on.
You step into a clearing and the wind swirls around you, bringing with it gentle music. Smoke and the aroma of roasting meat accompanies the breeze, and your eyes are drawn to a gathering around a roaring fire. Women in flowing tunics dance with strange creatures, men but with the horns and legs of goats. Lithe hunting hounds laze about, resting peacefully after a night running beneath the trees. Beings with green skin and vines twined in their flowing hair flit in and out of the festivities, disappearing when they seem to meld with the trees.
In the center of this merry company sits a stately woman with a youthful face but ancient eyes. A quiver of arrows and a bow rest at her side, but in her lap is a lyre which she strums in a gentle song. Upon her brow sits a circlet of silver with a horned moon as its ornament.
Wonder overcomes you, for you recognize her from legends of old, goddess off the moon and the hunt, protector of nature, great huntress of Olympus. You stand in awe of her and her attendants.
One of the satyrs begins to pass goblets of wine, and the dance grows more intense. Part of you feels you should depart before you are discovered, but the magic of the moment draws you in, and you find yourself swaying with the music, longing even to participate in the merry dance.
The music comes to life in the sky above, the stars forming images of hunters chasing beasts through the wilds, of great battles and mighty heroes, of the moon and her many faces as she glides through the night sky.
You are so caught up in the magic that for a brief time, you don't even realize that the music has stopped. Your heart skips a beat, and your gaze falls upon the company, now staring at you. Your heart rises to your throat, for you have heard tales of the vengeful goddess turning men into beasts for daring to spy upon her and her maidens.
Instead, however, Artemis gives a merry laugh. She beckons you forward into the circle, and the music begins once more.
A goblet of the finest wine in your hand, you begin to dance with the others, forgetting yourself in the joy and freedom of the moment. Between the wine and the intensity of the dance, the world begins to swirl around you. After a time, you lie upon the soft grass to rest.
When your eyes open, it is daylight. The clearing is empty, not so much as the embers of a fire remaining to show where the gathering had occurred. You sit up and rub your eyes. Could it all have been a dream? Something your mind invented as you were lost and stumbling around the woods? You almost dismiss the whole evening as a fancy when you spy something glowing in the grass. A candle flickers there. You pick it up and a fragrance of oak trees and lavender, of the flowers that mirrored the stars, rises to meet you. You know this is a gift, left by the huntress just for you.
Holding it before you, you stand and begin your journey home.
The Artemis candle is part of the Olympus collection. Guild early access starts March 9th, 2023.
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