When the world was new and ley lines were just forming, the Moon did not shine and there were no stars. In the day, the Sun rose high over the land, a king gazing down on the subjects he gave life. But even gods must rest, and every night he faded over the horizon. The sky honored his passing with colors that faded in the face of a night that was blacker than tree-rot. Even still, the dryads slumbered peacefully, for there was little to fear then, and they knew the Moon watched over them as they slept.
But as the days grew shorter and the nights grew longer in the natural passing of the year, the trees the dryads loved spent more and more time without the light that gave them energy. Soon, only the strongest could be shaped with song. The weakest faded slowly, leaves going limp and falling before their season and their bark paled to a deathly white. The dryads tried to use their magic to help them, but in the young world their connection to the Well was shallow and they understood little of their powers.
They knew something had to be done. They argued for days in large councils, but came no closer to the answer. Until, on the fifth day, the oldest, wisest dryad with skin the color of a hawthorn branch and just as wrinkled, stood up to speak for the first time.
“The problem is simple,” he said. “The trees will die without sunlight, and so need a way to bring sunlight to the night. This is something far beyond our power. We must petition the gods; we cannot solve this alone.”
There was much murmuring at his statement — one did not petition the heavenly beings, those forces of nature that caused the wind to blow or the tides to flow. “But who shall we ask?” a brave dryad ventured.
The oldest dryad thought a moment, and the lines around his face deepened. “We must ask the Moon. She is the only one powerful and clever enough to bring us the Sun’s light even when he is resting. The Wind and the Rain cannot do it. Their jurisdiction is not over the heavens.”
He led the prayers, begging the Moon for help. They prayed all day and even into another empty night.
And the Moon heard. The Sun did not care, but the Moon looked down on the dryads and the trees and wept to see their weakness, for she truly loved all living things. She knew the sun did not rest when it faded from view in the evening, that it had only moved on to light another portion of the world. But when the sun could not be there for them, could she? The sun’s rays always fell on her — could she give that light to them?
So the Moon took the sunbeams that fell upon her and tried to bend them to her will using her own deep magic. At first, she was too harsh, and many of her sunbeams shattered into useless shards of light. But in time she learned how to cast them out over the land, after the night’s shadow had fallen. The dryads rejoiced, singing praises to the Lady of the Night and holding feasts in her honor. The Moon wept again to see their happiness.
But as the days passed, she found her strength and the light she could bend waxed and waned, and there were some nights where no light shone at all. She knew that each time it happened, the dryads spent the night in apprehension, waiting to see if she would return again, or if their light-giver would fail them and the trees would be left to weaken. The Moon yearned to tell them she would never abandon the trees. She needed something to give them a little bit of light, a little bit of hope, on those nights when even she could not give them the sun’s rays.
She cast her mind about, weaving many powerful magics, but none could reach the earth below. The goddess was close to despair when she remembered the sunbeams she had shattered in her inexperience. They shone with a faint but constant light, and the answer came to her with blinding force. She gathered up the pinpricks and cast them out across the sky, each one a tiny fragment of the sun. The dryads saw the sign and were comforted, saying to one another, “The Lady must rest even as the Sun does, but she gives us a candle in her absence.”
Even now, the shards hang in the sky, unfailing, and that is how the dryads know our Lady will never leave us. Even when no light shines and she cannot be seen, the stars are a promise she will return and cause light to shine in the darkness, as she has always done.