By the Setting Moon

©2023 michael raven

Gathering weeds, bramble and thorn, she moved like midnight by the setting moon. Ever the air grown silent in the last silver glow casting shadows upon shadows and within the shadow of night, but for the shush and tug of her hands a’reaping, fragments of memory slipping behind her like dream.

She knew it to be soft voice, for the rustle of leaves in the wind on a windless eve and so she tilted her head sidewise and anon the speaker raised the timbre and lowered the tone so Jess might know what was to be said.

“What be you reiving there from our wood, oh reka-crone?”

Jess laughed at that, heartily too. “Crone? Have I quickened already to crone? Seems only yesterday I was apprenticing to Lara Whitehair. Was but a few moons, innit, since she done pass?”

“We lose count of these things, reka-crone. The whitehair has gone to dirt an’ you built a cairn with wards and stone maybe three, maybe eight moons ago. She, the reka-crone, has moved on and you now wander her path. It is the Way, it is.”

Isa slipped from behind one of her tree-kin, those that had gone to root. It was only youth like her, who had yet to settle down. She watched as Jess went along in gather, clearing the ancient forest grounds.

“I’m not klepping nothing from your wood you would care you have, inkling. These things… they would strangle and bind you and your kin, and I’d not have that here, could I help it.”

“I see now. Old white, she cut and culled, or so she said, the encroaching blight.”

“So she did, Young Isa. So she did.”

“What makes this blight, reka-crone?”

Jess, felt old and sighed at the question, for it made her feel traitorous to give an answer aloud. Needing Isa’s trust to help Isa and her kin, as well as help the others who held to the ways of the wood, she acquiesced.

“It is the Others what make it so, Young Isa. The Others who walk, smell, and talk like I, but who have no love of the wood.”

“Trolls,” Isa said with a decidedness, arms folded origami over her small chest and she spat something a’burbling to the ground.

“No, not trolls. Tho’ one might as well think of their like akin to such. No, these are the people I came from.”

“They must be few,” said Isa. “You are the only of your people I see in the wood.”

Jess shook her head. “They are many. But Lara sung wards in place to keep them out, as I do in her stead. They do not know of the wood, but their fingers reach in to break our wards all the same. Lara and I must cull out their fingers or the song may crack and that would be of no good at all.”

Isa scrunched up her face in concentration. “If they are not trolls, would that be bad if they came?”

“Very, Young Isa. They would come in armies, rip out your ancestors, rip asunder all that the wood has to offer, leaving wastelands and ghosts.”

“Oh!” Isa shouted, louder than Jess thought possible. “Then we must stop these monsters, reka-crone! If I show you where they tangle our roots, you rip them out?”

Jess nodded.

“Then come! Come!”

Isa ran through the shadows buried in shadows, but never too darkly as to be missed. Jess followed, gathering weeds, bramble and thorn, moving like midnight by the fully set moon, stars winkling in the night.

This piece was written with minimal editing in a single ~30 minute session based on a prompt using the Morrigan Oracle‘s card: The Setting Moon.

Photo by Rok Romih on

4 thoughts on “By the Setting Moon

  1. I really fell into this story. I particularly love the relationship between the characters and the trees, the need for protection, and the repetition of shadows. It’s all very beautiful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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