A Champion's Soul

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Tithe: Being Raised by Dryads

After our conversation he snapped his fingers and everything was, rather foggy… It was like something important was happening, but I couldn’t understand what, or even what was going on no matter how hard I tried. It was like this for, maybe, a few minutes, years, months? I can’t really tell. When I could finally understand what was happening I was being held by someone?

I looked at their face, it was what looked like a young woman with green skin? Why was her skin green? For some reason I felt compelled to reach for her face. That’s when I noticed my hands were tiny… I was a child? If I were to take a guess maybe four or five.

She smiled and let out a small laugh. “You’re awake! How are you feeling?”

I, I guess I tried to answer. It really only came out as an amalgamation of a sentence, I couldn’t pronounce anything right. It took some time, but I did figure out this is the woman who was raising me. It took me longer to figure out that she was a Dryad. I can’t ask how she found me right now though. I just can’t form the words.

As years went by the way I acted changed a little bit. I ended up calling her mom, she reminded me of my mother. It felt weird at first, but it grew on me. The Dryads like to sing at the begging of spring each year, I couldn’t bring myself to do it at first. I eventually joined the celebration though. There were so many different kinds of Dryads. The ones with red skin were cherry, the ones with pink were strawberries. My mother had green skin, she was an elder oak. While I still haven’t figured out how Dryads are born, there some that I grew up around.

In this time, I learned that I couldn’t understand French, and I think it’s the same with German. It was surprising to me. There were some travelers that came through the woods at one point, I could tell they were speaking French… But for the life of me I couldn’t make sense of the words. I could understand the Dryads though, as if it was my native language. They called it the language of the gods. Most humans don’t speak it apparently.

This was my, thirteenth birthday. I’ve gotten used to how they celebrate now, birth is celebrated each summer. They don’t do individual days. The celebrations themselves are fun, usually there’s dances. I still can’t bring myself to do that, but many of the others do. The only thing that I still found was that there’s only female Dryads. Well, as far as I know. I’ve never seen a male one. I won’t say I, dislike it, but I still find it odd. Not that it really matters anyways, I’m in the body of a female elf. I had found what I looked like once at a stream of water, Green eyes, long blonde hair, I was thin, but not unhealthy. I, well I looked like a child. Still do, but I’m growing. Growth pains suck though. Usually my legs, but sometimes it’s my back.

I was watching some of the younger Dryads dance, it’s cute. They’re not very coordinated and they try to mimic what the older ones do. Usually they just fall over.

I someone came up behind me and touched my shoulder. “Watching the younglings again?”

I looked to see who it was, it was an oak Dryads. Her name was Evie, I’ve been growing up next to her. Well, really, she’s my friend. I did answer her though. “Yea, it’s cute seeing them try to mimic the elders.”

Evie giggles, Dryads seem to do that a lot. “The Elders asked me to come get you.”

Oh? “What do they want?” She shrugged. “Alright then. Where are we going?”

Then Evie smiled. “To the top of the Elder-green!”

Really? “I was told that I’m not allowed up there?”

Her smile widened. “That’s why it’s so exciting! I don’t mean to sound rude but you’ll be the second person to go up there that isn’t one of us!”

I got up and started following her. “This better not be a joke!”

She giggled again. Then replied sarcastically. “I would never do such a thing.” Not encouraging.

When we got to the tree, I was surprised to find out she wasn’t lying. The elders were waiting for us, my mother was there to.

The oldest of them stepped forward, I keep saying elder, but to be honest. Even the old Dryads look young. “We’re glad you two could make it.” I smiled, I heard Evie giggle again. “Please, follow us.”

Not, all of the Dryads cover themselves, as well as they could. Evie, my mother, and I all wear these dressed made out of leaves. Most of the elders do to, but some of the other Dryads just use vines to cover themselves. I understand that these

Evie grabbed my hand and looked at me. “This is great! We only have a few more years before we come of age and this is to celebrate that.” Evie was born the same year I showed up, there was a bad drought at the time and only was Dryad was born that year, her. It’s just us at this one. Usually it’s all the children.

We were at the top of the tree, it was nice out. Cool, not much wind, and the sky was full of stars. They called me and Evie over to them. One of the elders each put a hand on our foreheads. They did this for several minutes and put their hands on the top of our heads and pushed us down onto the floor. They could have just asked…

The two elders pulled out, what look like a pink seedling and put one on our tongues. It was nasty, tasted like bark. A few seconds after it touched my tongue everything started spinning.

The elder that put it on my tongue caught me before I fell backwards. “Are you okay?!”

I shook my head and tried to focus. “I don’t know?”

My mom walked up behind the elder. “She’ll be fine. Just give her a minute, sometimes it’s hard for one our own as well.” The laid me down on my back and everyone waited, maybe half an hour…

Everything was clearing up and I sat back up. “I’m fine now. What was that?”

Evie answered, surprisingly. “An Elder-green seed. Our bodies connected to the Elder-green. We’re part of the entire forest now!” I’m not entirely sure how that works…

It’s been three years since that day, and I’m sixteen today. The day that Dryads say is us coming of age, and the day that the god will stop protecting me. Though I’m not really sure how much he had to do… I only learned a little while I was here. Having to sleep all of fall and winter didn’t make things easy. I did learn how to cast a few spells at the very least, simple ones. One of them creates an orb of light, the other can heal and any small scrapes or bruises I get. I don’t know how long elves live, and he never gave me a time frame to get it done, but I don’t think I can stay here much longer.

I felt something heavy on my chest and then heard a giggle. When I opened my eyes I saw Evie, she was sitting on me. She had a big smile on her face. “Are you ready for today?!” She always gets excited.

I rolled over and she fell off. “Yea.”

I got up and she shouted at me. “Hey! That’s not fair! How can you just roll over like that!?” I ignored the question and she tackled me for it! “Don’t you ignore me punk!” She jammed her fingers into my side several.

I tried, I really did but I couldn’t get her off and the fingers hurt. “AH! Evie please stop that hurts!!”

She laughed. “Beg me to stop and might!”

No! “Never!” but I did when I couldn’t take it anymore…

Mom walked over once Evie calmed down. “Are you two having fun? I could hear you from the forests edge.”

Evie jumped up and apologized. “Ah! I’m sorry elder! I didn’t mean for us to be so loud.”

Mom smiled at her. “It’s fine. You gave one of the travelers nearby a good laugh. They thought it was two Dryads laughing like that and it put a smiled the old man’s face. He said it’s been a long time since he’s heard joy like that from the forest.” Evie wasn’t sure how to respond, then mom ruffled her hair and walked over to me. “Now what was Evie doing that made you scream so loud?”

I waited to answer… “She was, poking my sides.” She snickered and then walked off. “Have fun you to. It’s almost time. Enjoy your last day as children.”

After she walked away Evie grabbed my wrist and started pulling me with her. “Where are we going?”

She answered, but not really. “Somewhere.”

Really now? “That didn’t answer my question.”

She snickered. “Good, because it’s supposed to be a surprise.” Why would she be trying to surprise me? When we got there, it was just a stream of water. “Do you recognize this place?”

It didn’t even look remotely familiar. “No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

Evie frowned. “It’s where we found you. I was just a sapling at the time, I could barely walk on my own, but I heard a baby crying. I tried to get everyone to notice the noise, it wasn’t easy but I did. Once everyone was there, we found an adorable little elf baby. There didn’t seem to be any reason for you to be there, but you were. Almost like you were put there by a god.”

She hit that right on the nose. I gave her a smile. “Thank you then. I guess that means you’re the reason I’m alive today.”

I’m not sure why, but when I said that Evie froze. She was just staring at me. Then she pushed me towards the ground and had a big grin on her face. “Thank you for saying that."

That grin made me nervous so I splashed some water at her, she squealed and started doing the same.

We heard someone yelling for us in the distance, Evie got off of me and helped me up. We went to the noise. It was one of the elders.

They seemed happy to see us. “Ah good, it’s time. Follow me!” We were headed to the top of the elder green again.

All the elders were at the top of the tree waiting for us. This thing is just plain out huge. They were happy to see us. We walked up and they had us sit on our knees next to each other. Each of the elders put a thumbprint on our foreheads. I’m not sure the meaning of it, the rituals the Dryads do have always gone over my head. They finished off with putting a crown of flowers on us.

My mom was the one to talk to us. “Today you are no longer children. You are both now free to live your lives the way you see fit. I hope you stay with us though, the forest would get lonely without you. It was short and sweet.

I gave Evie a hug and she ran off to do something. I was standing at the bottom of the tree, and I saw a flash in the distance. I should go check out what that was.
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