The Dryad

Nathra looked down at her soil covered hands and smiled. Earth was embedded deep under her nails, an act of rebellion her mother could not stop, and new sapplings were springing up all around her.

She closed her eyes and said a prayer to the goddess of the trees, thanking her for the wonderful oppurtunity to plant such blessed life. In her deep meditation, she began to sing a wordless tune. Her grandmother told her when she was little that the goddess liked music.

Nathra stood slowly, eyes still closed, and gently stretched her arms out. Gingerly, she twirled, not wanting to tread on the new life.

Instruments, the likes of which no mere Man had heard before, filled the Mabon air as she danced. A hand laced its fingers through hers and guided her in a more graceful and purposeful routine.

Nathra’s eyes flew open. She was face to face with the goddess of the trees. She tried to drop to her knees in reverence, but the goddess held her tight. Nathra dropped her gaze.

“Do not fear me, little one,” the goddess said angling Nathra’s face to her own. “I am most pleased with you.”

“You are?” Uneasiness lingered at the edges of her mind. Her grandmother also told her to be wary of gifts and praise from the old gods. She said at best they were a double-edged sword. Nathra didn’t want to think about what they were like at worst.

“Yes,” the goddess laughed. “And do not be afraid; I mean you no harm. I just want to reward your patience and virtue.”

Nathra smiled weakly. Though her grandmother never said it aloud, she knew that rejecting a god anything was suicide.

“Give me your hands,” the goddess commanded, the hardness of oak dripping into her voice.

Nathra complied and the goddess took a spine from a nearby bush and pricked each of Nathra’s ten fingers. Blood bloomed, but only for a moment.

As the goddess kissed the cuts, green stems and leaves webbed their way out. She smiled at the once mortal’s instant panic.

When Nathra opened her mouth to speak, a torrent of foliage came tumbling out. She looked at her feet and horror swept over her as she saw her toes elongate into roots and burrow themselves deep underground.

“My sweet dryad,” the goddess of the trees purred. “I’ve always wanted one of you, ever since your people first made you up in song and legend. Now I have you. Protect my forest.”

A creaking sound like branches breaking in a strong wind came from Nathra and the goddess turned. She frowned for a moment before she spoke.

“Don’t worry about the god of beasts,” she scolded. “You’re practically one of his now. He won’t harm you.”

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