It was not that unusual. Even though I had never seen one before, I knew that such things existed… or were – at least – rumoured to exist.
There were stories. There were always stories in places like this. Everything became a story, sooner or later. In a small, out of the way, place like our village, isolated at the bottom of the high valley and often cut off from the rest of the country, stories were what we told each other all the time. It was a form of connection that couldn’t be broken, telling us who we where and how our world worked.
Our world, though, the world of our village didn’t – and doesn’t even now – work in the same way that the world outside our valley worked. We knew that. We knew we had to be cautious around strangers, not letting them know our secrets or that this world, the world of our valley, was not their world.
So, that day when I was out, deep in the woods, as night fell, I knew I would not be alone. I knew there would be someone there in the woods, someone who knew the secrets of how our world worked.
Even so, when I came across the clearing and saw the flickering shadows cast by the fire and I saw the three women, their naked bodies painted with symbols and sigils, dancing around the fire, wailing their incantations to our moon – the moon that lights our valley as it lights no other place on this Earth – then I knew something was about to happen, some fracture was about to open between our valley and the rest of the land that lies beyond.