Daisae- Origins

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Summary

A short story to introduce the dryad Daisae and detail the events that lead them to meet the other characters of this series

Genre:
Fantasy / Adventure
Author:
Arete.mode
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
6
Rating:
4.7 3 reviews
Age Rating:
13+

Day 1

The light from the midday sun shone down strongly on the muddy, ash strewn ground where an ancient forest had stood just one day ago. The charcoal skeletons of trees remained here and there, reaching up eerily to the flawless blue sky above. Only one tree looked as it had before the fire that had decimated this area. Its gnarled bark shimmered silver where the light hit and the black leaves swayed in the gentle breeze.

Sat on the roots sprawled out on the ground was a large owl, its body unlike ordinary owls. The bird had soft looking leaves growing on their wings in place of feathers and moss was creeping up from their legs, fighting for space along with withered looking mushrooms and thin almost woven vines. Short grass grew out from their eyes to create the distinctive eye pattern of a barn owl. Their feet could barely be made out against the root they took as a perch as it was made of the same material, long thorns forming the talons and joining up to branches that connected to bark covered legs.

The owl’s eye snapped open at the sound of rustling nearby. A mound of ash shuddered and fell away as a small rabbit rose shakily to their feet. The rabbit also had grasses and mosses creeping over them, up one back leg and forming a knot in place of a tail. There was also a tangle of vines with small round leaves and a patch of golden berries lining their shoulders and reaching around their neck. Their chest had a circle of woven vines over their heart. Soft leaves similar to those on the owl’s wings covering their large, drooping ears. However, the rest of the animal was uncovered, baring the soft white light beneath.

The two dryads looked at each other in the wreckage of their home, surrounded by the husks that once supported the lives of their family. Silence filled the air between them until the rabbit hopped carefully around the pile of ash they had just emerged from, stopping suddenly and digging out a green, seed filled cone.

The owl walked over slowly, each movement drawn out as though it took great effort, joining the rabbit to look down on the seed pod curiously. “It looks as though you’ve managed to transfer yourself to a seed just in time” the bird said, in a voice that resembled the cracking of twigs and dried leaves. The rabbit looked up at their words, black eyes that would have been full of tears if it were possible boring into the elder dryad. “Daisae, you should find a new place to grow your core” the owl continued, meeting their gaze steadily “this fire was not natural and it would be unwise to stay here”.

Daisae looked at their elder for a long while before speaking “Mui, what about the others?” was all they could force out, to the sound of leaves rustling on a strong breeze. The silence they received in response was enough of an answer. The rabbit had been lucky, more so than the rest of their family.
Without any further talking the rabbit turned and began to hop away, stopping only when they heard the creaking steps of their elder going the other direction. Looking over their shoulder, they saw the weak movements and began to worry. “Aren’t you coming with me?” They asked quietly as the owl settled back in their original position carefully.

Mui simply stood there, unmoving even as Daisae hopped back over to their side. The rabbit’s black eyes opened wide as they saw the owl up close. They had been the one who grew the dryad family in this forest, forever flying away to unknown places and returning with seeds or sprouts that had the potential to host one of their kind.

Dryads can be born from any plant that somehow supports life, whether by providing food in the form of berries or by acting as shelter during dark nights or hot summer days. Each dryad has their own shape but as they age their bodies of soft white light gradually take on the characteristics of the areas around them. Mui had become completely covered even before Daisae had been born and now, as the white light that made up their being faded away, that outer shell stood on the root of the tree that had been its home for so very long.

The rabbit lay down at the feet of their old friend for a long while, mourning their loss and the loss of the others that had faded in the fire and when they finally stood to leave their front right paw had become coated in a layer of dark bark that shimmered faintly silver in the afternoon sun. With a heavy heart they stood up and narrowed their eyes to a squint to look around, stopping when they saw a tangle of light above. After gently climbing to the top of the tree, Daisae squinted up again, seeing the criss-crossing trails of many birds going in all directions and decided to follow a particularly strong line, indicating that many birds flew back and forth in that direction.

The leaves on Daisae’s ears grew longer and spread, forming into makeshift wings that were then used to lift the small creature into the air. After a few shaky flaps, the rabbit turned, following the flight line off to find a new home.

Unfurling their ears to take flight, they followed the trail north east for a full day, passing into the section of the forest past a river which was still standing tall. The desire to stay was almost overwhelming but the words from Mui spurred them on.

When they finally touched down for the night the sun began to drop out of view, dying the sky ever more red with each minute, Daisae was panting hard. They were surprised at the exhaustion weighing on them, having never had to bear it before as the leaves forming wings on their ears retracted back to their original length.

They were pulling themself up to find a safe place to sleep when a bundle of sweet smelling berries came into their line of sight. All of a sudden, the impulse to eat rose up irresistibly and the small rabbit suddenly found themself filling their mouth ravenously.

While they reluctantly ate, Daisae considered the new experiences of the day. Dryads are usually sustained by the plant that they were born from, never needing to eat for themselves or use their own stores of strength. It was never anything they had needed to worry about before but as the newfound hunger faded away and their body ached from exertion, it was clear they would need to consider it as long as they were sustained by a seed that could not provide such help.

Next they got back to searching for somewhere safe for the night. An opening tucked away under the roots of a young tree was the best they could find but they had never slept somewhere so exposed before. Each sound in the night drew their attention and jolted them back to complete awareness. It was clear right away that there would be no restful nights sleep in these conditions.
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