Mine. My own. My precious. No stealing.
Song Suggestion: The Vampire Masquerade by Peter Gundry
To the East, in the vast lands of Aíreanshee, there is a curious difference in the holy festivals that is nearly unknown, though it is not an insignificant difference. Largely, this is due to the smallish size of the affected area, containing only one village and many miles of farmland in the country of Rhyador, but not much else. The people here are seen as odd, even in the city of Sildess, which is only fifty miles or so to the North. Though, in the city, they still have traditions which suggest that this peculiar holy fest was once far more well known and wide spread. In the city, they still bake sugar effigies to nibble on and have a festival that is meant to honor the passing of winter. But none here remember the origins; to them, it is only a time to celebrate the coming of spring and be glad they came to it without disaster. No particular god or goddess is honored, lest it be the god of mischief, to whom no official fest is dedicated.
Other places in The Silverlands celebrate the passing of the year and honor their dead on the night of the last full moon of fall. However, Downing Dale, the village at the edge of the Elder Wood, which they call the Wicked Wood and which, in turn, was once known as Angboria, the great, shining kingdom of ancient men, honors those who have died during the year at the end of winter. It lasts a fortnight, from the rise of the last new moon of the dead season to the first full moon of spring. They call this the Grim Moon, after the black wolfhound which lives beneath Sira’s – the Goddess of Death -cloak. They believe she releases the hound during this time, that it might mark those meant to die and collect the wayward souls which have not found their way to her already.
The people of Downing Dale become more superstitious than usual during this period. They make many offerings to she known as The Pale Lady and set out carved bears to guard their homes. At other times of the year, they might name her true, for she is Elphame, the fallen goddess, mother of the Fair Folk, and Queen of The Court of the Moon. But the people of Downing Dale will not use her proper name during the Grim Moon. Nor will any enter the forest at this time, not even the brave huntsmen that spend most of the year tracking game for the village through the shadows of the thick grown trees; the forest belongs to the lady at this time. Legend says this was an agreement between ancient men and Elphame and that her sister, Sira, mediated it. If the reason was ever known, it has long been lost to time, like the men that made it. But Gods do not care if humans remember why they made their promises, only that they keep them.
‘When the Grim Moon comes, then no man will be found beneath it and expect to come alive to the rising sun.’ This is written in the holy books in the village, which lie open to all who wish to study them in the small chapel and meeting hall by the village green. Most never read those words, whether they possess the talent or not; the people of this village live a life built on tradition. They honor the Grim Moon as they honor the planting, which is done during this time. It is an act of self preservation, no more or less important than harvesting the crops when they are ready and it has served them well; Downing Dale has stood for longer than it has been known as Downing Dale and the blood of ancient kings lingers here still.
So as the last moon of winter begins its rise, all get inside and lock their doors and latch the shutters; the lady is said to set her hunt on any she finds out after dark, be they the spirit of one who has passed or mortal man still living. To see Sira’s hound at any point during this period means you will die within the year. Where the hound wanders, the goddess of death will soon follow.