Druid wanted, Druid needed.
Leanora just couldn’t understand humans. A druid once tried to teach her about many things. Human language, culture, and history. Of all that only the skill to speak remained with her. The rest just was confusing.
Like the battlefield before her, just past the outskirts of her woods. She just couldn’t understand why they killed each other with such passion. It wasn’t for food. Not one of them had teeth marks. Not that Leanora really cared.
The humans wasted even their dead. She, however, chose not to. One by one she dragged the dead into her woods. At least here they would serve as fertilizer. All the while she thought about the druid who tried to teach her. Was he dead by now too?
Sometimes she wished the druid would come back. Though she wouldn't mind other druids as well. At least they respected nature. Sighing she continued her work. It was one of the last ones that dropped something that caught her eye. It was a clear gem, one without color and it sparkled in the afternoon sun. Curious she picked it up.
It was no ordinary gem she noticed. There had some kind of human magic on it. She wasn’t good at the magic of the unnatural kind. So it took her a while to figure the gems aura out. It was a gem that could learn. Not just that. It could teach its owner too. Leanora did think for a while. If I wear the gem and teach it about nature, then the gem could teach someone else.
"I do not need another druid. I just need a human and the gem would teach them the ways of nature," she thought.
Grinning at her cunning plan she lifted the gem to her chest. It sunk into her green succulent skin. With lifted spirit, she continued her work.
Seasons did go by, but still, no human visited her garden, home, and woods. She rubbed the gem on her chest. A habit she picked up quite a while ago. Humans would say something about 1 or 2 decades. To Leanora, it was just time.
Peeking down she saw the gem half sunken into her skin. It had become a deep green over the many past seasons. One might mistake it for an emerald.
Then, one morning, she spotted on the fields nearby that another battle had taken place. Cautiously she moved closer. No sound, save for the wind was heard, as she reached the about dozen corpses.
Sighing and muttering about stupid humans, she once again started to drag the bodies to her glade. It was the third that gave her a fright. Just as she touched the body it moved. Did draw in a painful sounding labored breath.
Recovering quickly she came closer. It was a male, maybe 50 cycles of seasons old. Blood clung everywhere to his armor. Deep gashes were seen at places where weapons had pierced armor. Surely he was close to dying. All Leanora had was to wait for it a little.
Instead, she helped. She had been too long without company and as much as she pitied humans it would have to do. Her magic was strong but meant to heal wood or foliage. Used on a human it barely was enough. Soon he breathed deeper and a little color returned. Leanora didn’t care about the other bodies anymore. Carefully she dragged the wounded man to her glade.
It took several days of careful nursing and healing till the stranger awoke. His first instinct was to sit up. Leanora had to gently push him back. Not that is was hard as fatigued as he was. He tried to talk but his voice was barely heard. Seeing what he was trying to ask, she headed out to gather some nectar and the last of the morning dew. Returning she carefully let it drip into his mouth. A weak “Thank you” was all she got before the men drifted off to sleep again.
The next time he was awake he looked and felt better. Spotting the dryad he spoke. “My lady, have my thanks for rescuing me. You did go through great trouble rescuing me. My name is Sir Theodore.”
For a moment his face showed pain. Not from physical injury but from a wounded heart. “Well, maybe not Sir anymore. My lord was slain before my eyes. My title and holdings were taken. I have nothing left but my life, thanks to you I have at least that.”
Leanora waited. Humans always had so much to talk. Even when they were wounded and still weak. “Forgive me, lady. How rude of me. May I ask your name? And I am at a loss. I never did meet someone of your species. What do you call yourself?”
Leanora had to smirk. Finally, he did shut up. But then again she wanted company, right? Can’t fault a human for being a human.
“I was given the name Leanora by the last druid. And he called us dryads. Though my kind normally doesn’t use names.”
Slowly an uneven conversation blossomed. Theodore did most of the talking, while Leanora parts were short and precise. Coming dawn they talked about the future.
“Not much now anywhere for me. I owe you my life but yet I do not know what to do with it now.”
It was the opening Leanora had waited. “You could stay here and become the next druid for this dale.”
Theodore saw the hope in her eyes. It pained him to reply. “My dear. I do not know the ways of the druids and I feel I do not have the years left to learn. I am sorry.”
Leanora, however, didn’t give up. “Do you see this gem? It can teach you. It won’t take long. Please.”
Theodore only now noticed the gem on her chest. After all, she was a young looking woman and appearing nearly naked. He was raised too strictly and had tried his best not to look or stare.
Now that he saw the gem he got the feeling there was something magical about it. Unbidden a memory surfaced. He had been young and one of his teachers had taught them about special gems that could teach you things. He thought the name for them was Heirloom Gems. As he looked up he saw the hope in Leanora’s eyes. How could he say no to this beautiful creature that had saved his life?
“I can’t promise you anything other than I try to give my best. I swear to you on my honor.”
The happiness that appeared on her was like a blossoming flower. As it spread it transform her face from pretty to stunning. It filled his heart with new light and hope.
“Thank you,” was all she said before she gave him a deep passionate kiss.
For the first time in a long time, he felt something special: serenity.
Theo looked down on his chest. It had been a few days since Leonora had given her gem to him. Now the deep green gem contrasted against his old worn out skin. It astounded him how far he had come the past few days. His injuries were gone. Nothing remained, but scars. And even those started to fade to his amazement. He felt at least 10 years younger and if he could trust the reflection in the lake his body tried to match it.
To him, it was all Leanora. She gave him new hope and stirred feelings he long had forgotten. They spend most of their time together. Every day they did take long walks. She would tell him about the plants around and their deeper function. What animals were around and how they contributed. Lately, he often knew about it before she told him. "Must be the gem," he thought.
But he never interrupted her, as her voice was a music he couldn’t get enough. Smiling he continued onward. Today, she was not by his side.
Leanora was hiding somewhere. He was supposed to find her just with his newfound knowledge of the woods. A challenge and game they recently came up with. In that moment he truly enjoyed his life.
Theo did stare again at his reflection in the water. He looked so young. As if he was in his early thirties. He clearly was getting younger. And he truly felt great. Absent minded he wondered when it would stop. He didn’t mind getting his youth back, but he was less eager to relive his puberty.
He already thought that his beard was thinning. Though his body was in peak condition he noticed that some of his muscles developed a bit back. Not all, though. His thighs and buttock were getting more pronounced. He blamed his nightly ‘training’ with Leanora.
They never told it each other, but they had become lovers. Maybe he didn’t tell her it yet because he too developed the trait to only speak about this that really needed to be told. And it was evident enough for both of them.
Though a bit of sadness crept into his mind. Summer was over and it was already past mid-autumn. Soon, like all dryads, she would return to her heart tree and sleep through the winter. He surely would miss her.
Pushing his sad thoughts to the side he returned to his original objective for today. Leanora had her heart tree but he needed something more than the rudimentary hut he had built so far. After that, he needed to gather a few more roots and other food that won’t spoil easily. Eagerly he returned to work. The sooner he was done the sooner they could spend a little more time together.
Their parting had been bittersweet. He already missed her. But all around him, the first snowflakes were making their way down from heaven to earth. It had been time and they both knew it. But before she did go she showed him where her heart-tree had its roots. It was a great honor and a sign of trust.
Each day he visited the small clearing, walked up to the single mighty tree in the middle, and gently patted the bark. He would wish her pleasant dreams and a good sleep. He too was feeling tired lately. Was it just his melancholy of being without her? He didn’t know. But he was just happy enough to sleep the time away. Bridging the time faster till he finally could see her again.
It was getting longer and longer. He guesses that his last rest had taken 2 or 3 days. He now barely moved. His hunger was getting smaller. A bad sign he knew. Although Leanora had shown him how to build a shelter that would keep him warm he felt as if he was freezing all the time. He already noticed that he was growing weaker and thinner by the day. Wondering if he would survive the winter and see her again, he drifted off to sleep.
He looked at the moonlight above him. His hand, that pushed aside the cloak to his entrance, looked weak and slender. A full month he realized. He really had slept away a whole month. He could tell by the position of the moon above him. How could he have survived it? Sinking back to his bed he wondered if that miracle would repeat itself. He certainly hoped so as he was already drifting back to sleep.
Sunshine woke Leanora. It was a slightly rainy morning. The dew was still dripping from the leaves of her heart tree. She looked around, eager to greet her lover. Yet he was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t mind it much. It gave her the opportunity to surprise him.
As she came near the hut, she was shocked. The roof had fallen down. From the looks of it, it wasn’t recent. Had Theodore abandoned her? Had his yearning for human society grown stronger than his love for her.
Saddened, she moved closer. She still could see tatters of his cloak and a few bits and pieces of his belonging. Though rotten she found most of his food too. Then suddenly she saw an alone patch of skin, peeking through a patch of moss that covered the area, where Theo’s bed had been.
Carefully she came closer and started to remove more moss and roots. Soon his legs were exposed. Though colder than they used to be they were still warm. Eagerly she removed more moss.
Now she remembered. Some druids, the older ones, could survive by nurture of nearby plants. Had he already learned and mastered the skill? She removed wide patches. His waist was exposed. It looked so small now. His arms. They had lost definition and like the rest of his body were slightly discolor by the moss.
As she wanted to rip the big piled chunks of moss from his chest she suddenly noticed resistance. Carefully she peeled away a thin membrane of the moss and exposed two mounds of flesh. Next, she removed what covered his face. It certainly was not the Theo she remembered. If it wasn’t for the aura of his soul, she might not have recognized him.
Now he only needed to wake up. She waited patiently but he didn’t move for a while. Then he started to toss and turn. Something was wrong. Did he need the moss now? Had she made it worse for him by removing it?
Carefully she started to examine him. It was when she was uncovering his feet that it all made sense. Small tendrils were growing out of the sole. Roots. But they didn’t touch the ground yet. She knew now how to help her beloved Theo. Carefully she lifted him up. It was easier as it should have been. But not only had he lost weight, he had shrunk too.
She dragged him all the way to her clearing, to her heart tree. Then she did measure with care a few paces. Digging a small hole, she got Theo and placed his feet into the hole and covered it with dirt. Next, she lifted him up so that it was appearing as if he was standing. Now she had to wait.
Luckily dryads had lots of stamina and she wouldn’t have to sleep for a while. By nightfall he stopped shivering. 2 days later bark covered him up to his knees. She slowly let go of him. Although sleeping he still stood firm.
Next, she lifted his arms up. It only took a day till they did stay up by themselves too. The bark had crept up to his waist by then.
By now she did let go. Every day she spends a few hours before him. The bark was covering more and more. His body grew longer. The arms reaching more and more to the heaven. Soon they were branching out. When all the other trees started to blossom his first leaves sprouted. His legs grew strong and snaked themselves as roots deep into the earth. All too soon all one could see was a young tree. But Leanora saw with the eyes of a dryad. She knew her lover was still inside.
5 years. 5 long years. Leanora was standing again before her lover. The tree before her had grown nearly as strong and big as her own heart tree. She nearly missed it. The slender hand that slowly pushed out of the tree’s trunk. Then the wrist came followed the forearm.
Leanora got up and gently took the hand in her own. She didn’t pull. She knew it needed time. Suddenly a second hand shoot out and covered hers too. Then a face appeared. A gorgeous one. Deep green eyes. High cheekbones. A small nose and a slightly pouty mouth.
A chest followed with magnificent but not too big breasts. A smallish waist and shapely legs followed. Suddenly the newborn dryad plopped free. Panting she did slide down her own trunk. Leanora did crouch down beside her and planted a kiss on her lips. “Welcome back lover.”
“Welcome back lover.” were the first words Theo heard in a long time. What he saw though was so much more than the gorgeous shape of Leanora. Theo saw life. In her, the grass, trees, and everywhere plants grew. Looking down there was life too. In a lithe body of a dryad.
"I have become like her. I am a dryad now!" her mind concluded. Finding in herself a resolve blossoming she said one word.
“Thea”. More wasn’t needed. Leanora just nodded and kissed her again.
Their lovemaking was much more intense now. Both had the ability to see how life twisted and turned in each other. It made them both experts by birth. Nonetheless, they did ‘train’ multiple times a day. They certainly felt closer too. They shared now everything. Their love, the clearing, and the woods. Happiness found each day anew.
Time lost meaning. Seasons did come and go. Still, Thea’s and Leanora’s love stayed unwavering and strong. Then one day Thea spotted a young hunter traveling through their woods. She quickly showed Leanora.
“Do you sometimes miss humans and their society?” she was asked.
Thea shook her head. Then she took Leanora’s hand and lead her to their clearing. She concentrated on her heart tree. After a moment the bark parted and the gem appeared. Gently she picked it up.
“Sometimes though I wonder why you were so eager to find a druid for your woods…”
Thea held the gem up and raised her eyebrows in question. Leanora smiled. She gave her lover a deep hug. Then they did set out to see if the hunter was still close by. Looks like Thea was about to find out.
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