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Raptrices of the Thorn
Copyright © 2004 C.E. by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: June 6th, 2018]
¶XLVII. Night soon fell once more over the Somberwood as the Maenads napped together with Allegiance, Deference, and Suffrage in the center of the dell, piled atop one another.
¶XLVIII. The other Dryads remained bound to the deadwood. Obedience, Duress, Accord, and Servility slept curled beside the life-reft trunks, as Faith and Serenity stood stirring in the frore night’s murk, watching the nightjars flick about tween the direful groves.
¶XLIX. Then over the hard still ground Serenity and Faith heard the feathered stepping of bare feet, stalking cautiously evermore toward them each moment. As their eyes skimmed the trees they soon kenned the cause of the dainty footfalls, and saw emerge from the withered woods nine Dryads.
¶L. And the Dryads’ names were Anarchy, Deliverance, Empathy, Apostasy, Liberty, Amity, Merit, Rebellion, and Truth. They were not caped in bearskins as the Maenads, and were indeed nude as all Nymphs were meant to be, but did carry spears.
¶LI. These newly arrived Dryads approached Serenity and Faith, and began to untie for them their thorny manacles. Apostasy then silently shushed Serenity and Faith, her single finger afore whistle-formed lips in cautious counsel as her eyes pierced assertively into each of theirs.
¶LII. “We have come to rescue you,” whispered Deliverance.
¶LIII. And then Servility suddenly began to wake, and looked upon the nine newly arrived Dryads, and gasped.
¶LIV. “Maenads,” cried Servility, “save us from this terror!”
¶LV. Quickly, with their hands now freed, Serenity and Faith loosed their own halters and escaped with Anarchy, Liberty, Rebellion, Amity, Truth, Merit, Empathy, and Apostasy into the woods, or the Maenads and Dryads-still-bound could see them.
¶LVI. Anarchy led them further into the Somberwood, ever forther the dell of captivity, till after having run for much time through the shrouding mists they came upon a vine-covered scarp.
¶LVII. Anarchy brushed aside some of the canes before them and revealed a small hole in the bluff, just large enough that the Dryads could crawl through it, and gestured that they proceed into the tunnel with haste. And so one by one the Wood Nymphs slipped into the passage and began quickly toward its other side.
¶LVIII. When having reached the other mouth of the crawlway Serenity and Faith found themselves with their fellow Dryads in a great garden, which was wholly enwrapped by the soaring escarpment whence through they’d just passed.
¶LIX. All abound were lush thickets of lavender, copses of tall yew needled in verdigris, topes of lofty oak, brakes of ivy, and hedges of white rose; all of them enfettered by the milky mist of the garden floor, with their dew-laden leaves silvered by the pale starlight.
¶LX. “Where are we?” asked Serenity.
¶LXI. “Ye’re in the Garden of Liss-Heim,” said Anarchy. “The wicked hand of the law doth not reach this part of the Somberwood.”
¶LXII. “We’re still in the Somberwood?” queried Faith.
¶LXIII. “Yes,” said Truth. “But of yore hath it been called the Luxwood, ere the Maenads proclaimed dominion over it. For once they were Dryads just as us, but were impured by fear for their own safety, and so created the law to control the land and make it less fearsome. And as the Maenads grew corrupt, so did the forest wither.”
¶LXIV. “This garden,” added Amity, “is the last vestige of the beauty that once was the Luxwood.”
¶LXV. “A shame,” said Faith, “we hadn’t the time to rescue any of the others.”
¶LXVI. “They do not wish to be rescued,” said Empathy. “They convince themselves that there is nothing to be rescued from. They remain tied to their dead oaks, looking upon the open spaces around them and proclaiming how free they are. They allow themselves to be molested and ill-treated because they fear what would become of them without the Maenads’ protection.
¶LXVII. “What were ye doing in the Somberwood, anyway?” asked Merit.
¶LXVIII. Faith explained to Merit that Serenity had fallen in love with a mortal, and that they were traveling to the Elderwood to find Daphne.
¶LXIX. “We shall sleep tonight,” said Liberty, “and tomorrow I shall go with you to the Elderwood.” And to this Serenity and Faith agreed.