Seeds of the dryad
The human’s body was much heavier than anticipated. The man’s leather garb hid the mass of flab that lay beneath his shirt. Even with their frequent visits to my forest, wandering for miles to kill my wards, the xylokópos could not keep themselves lean. Big fat brutes with axes.
The sheer weight of the human strained my vassal’s muscles as he lumbered through the underbrush to the edge of the forest. I could feel the strange sensation, the tension of muscles as they sprang to life, the contraction and tension as he strained to maintain the unconscious body up onto the vassal’s shoulders. It was not a bad feeling, just different from the natural feeling of rigidity.
As the vassal walked along the forest trail, the sun poked its head out from behind the autumn laid branches of the drys that lined the border of my realm. Its brilliant amber rays mixed with the deep browns that lined my vision, the scrying effect leaving a haze between the vassal and me.
Golden flowing streams of life outlined the drys, running through their veins in a shimmering current as their energies mixed down into the leaf covered proélefsi. Their roots extended for several hundred feet before mixing with drys roots, intertwining into a brilliant web of light.
As the vassal reached the sprawling fields of grass and wheat, he unceremoniously dumped the xylokópos onto the ground. The vassal took the man’s ax and snapped it in two across his knee, dropping it atop his unconscious form. Out of the corner of his eye, motion caught our attention and the vassal sprung behind a large drys in order to avoid being seen. Keeping a hand on the drys’s bark, the vassal inched his head out from around the corner to see what had arrived in our home.
Cresting the top of a hill a group of two humans, an elf, and a dwarf strolled through the tall grasses, taking the dirt road that skirted the edge of the golden wheat fields. The elf was tall and wore billowy robes. He was handsome and carried a staff in his free hand, a mágos most likely.
I could smell the dwarf from here, even through the vassal’s limited human senses. The little man was most certainly a bárbaros, an unruly and dangerous sort, with his great-axe and a short temper. These creatures could be swift with the ax and cared little for subtlety.
One human was a pálidranno; a sword hung at his hip and a shield at his back. The glint of the shield in the setting sunlight had initially drawn our attention. Next to him was a kynigós, clad in leather and a bow and quiver at his back. He was bending over and inspecting the ground in front of him, sifting around in the dirt.
The tracks of an eláfi that had sprinted into the forest some time ago were illuminated before us, its hoof marks as clear as the sun. Something stirred within me as I gazed upon the kynigós. His eyes saw more than the others. He carefully traced the tracks of the eláfi noticing where it had pranced over a low lying bush. Its antlers had grazed a nearby drys as it had run away scared of this pack of misfits. The kynigós could see all of this. He was wise, cunning. A perfect addition to our fylí.
The vassal crept from drys to drys as we stalked the group, watching them from the shade as the sun continued to sink lower upon the horizon. Soon the group stopped to make camp, gathering up the fallen branches of the nearby drys and arranging them in a pile.
The dwarf began to chop away at the fallen drys nearby. They were going to set them ablaze, a danger within my home that would roast the animal they were hunting. The kynigós unsheathed his bow and gestured to his comrades that he was leaving, continuing upon the trail set by the eláfi.
As the vassal and I gazed upon the group, my vision grew dim and returned to the dark interior of my home. My senses returned to the coarse interior of my paníschyri drys, and I sat among the glowing moss for a moment. The vassal would come back of his own accord; his task had been completed. I needed my full attention at hand, lest I lose the kynigós. I shifted my focus to the interconnected system set within the proélefsi. I touched the bark beside me and found the golden threads of life that coursed through my home.
In a brilliant flash before my eyes, I was thrust into the rushing stream of golden lights. All around me twinkling orbs danced and shot forth in the dark passages that snaked within the proélefsi. I knew where the eláfi would go. I could track its trail to the source of the potámi as it searched for a drink of water. It would be attracted to the sound of its waves trickling across the small stones set within.
I emerged from the proélefsi in a matter of seconds, set within a small youngling drys that had established itself on the edge of the streaming waters. The eláfi was bent over and drinking from the shallow potámi.
I sat and waited within the pitch blackness of the youngling, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the kynigós. I had not felt this way in a long time, and the prospect of a new vassal to my fylí was more than enough to heighten my senses as I searched for the direction of his approach.
This human was a smart one. Kynigós appreciate and respect the sanctity of the forest and the lives within. And with this kynigós in particular, I had an infatuation of sorts. The human smelled of balsam and had long flowing hair the color of a mature drys.
I was startled from my musings when I heard a snap of a twig. The eláfi perked its ears up and stood on alert as it attempted to find the source of the noise. It sniffed the air and twitched its stubby white tail, lowering its antlers in case it would need to attack the source of the noise. Then with a rush of air, an arrow pierced the side of the eláfi and the creature fell to the forest floor in a soft thud.
The kynigós slowly revealed himself from the pack of bushes that skirted the waters and placed his bow upon his back. He bent down to observe the eláfi, turning its head from side to side and checking the points on its rack. Now was my opportunity to take what was rightfully mine.
I slowly emerged through the bark of the drys, my flesh melding with the flesh of the youngling as I took a step back upon the earthy floor. As the last twig of my head surfaced from the drys, I silently stalked across the soft moss laid upon the forest floor. I drew forth power from within my core and pulled yet more from the flowing streams of the proélefsi beneath me. As I laid a hand upon the kynigós’s shoulder, I let all of this energy flow through me into him,
“Join us, kynigós, in this my home. I offer you protection and love in exchange for your own.”
The power flowed through me the instant I touched the human’s skin, freezing him in place. I could feel his will pushing against mine as we grappled for dominance in our dancing minds. I knelt down low to his level and brought my lips up to his ear. “Eímaste éna, we are one.”
My consciousness flowed out through my hand, melding with the kynigós as I had the youngling drys. I opened my eyes and was born into a world of amber light and fading browns, the drys aglow with their golden streams.
I turned towards the hand that sat upon our shoulder and stared upon myself. I could feel the kynigós contempt at first, but soon he was swayed as I showed him the world I had lived and seen. He learned of the righteousness of our duties and the deep love that was seeded within me, for both him and our home.
The kynigós looked beyond my semi-smooth skin, the shade of a young sapling. He placed his hand upon my hanging ivy that draped down to the small of my back, and stared deeply within my amber eyes. We stared back at each other, knowing the deepest recesses of one another.
Holding my head in both hands, he drew near and whispered, “Eímaste éna, we are one.”