Chapter I: Serentiy’s Sorrow
Beneath the eldest sun-sprent shades
of the far-off Emerald Forest deep,
amid those hallow’d, ancient glades,
a band of Woodnymphs keep.
When eternal youth and beauty fail
to bind a heart immortal rent,
thus begins the hapless tale:
A Dryad’s dark descent.
Copyright © 2002-2019 by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: Decemberrd, 2017]
¶I. Back in the day, hidden deeply away in the untamed wolds of the great Emerald Forest that bound the foreign Failands of Borea, there lived a band of thirteen Sylvan Nymphs, whose names were Destiny, Faith, Charity, Glory, Harmony, Trust, Divinity, Grace, Eternity, Solace, Felicity, Ecstasy, and Serenity. More beautiful were they than any mortal woman had ever imagined being, and fayer beyond measure than any mortal woman by mortal man beheld. Such unfathomable feature were propertied these and all Nymphs that yet the least of them possessed what sort of face would have doubtless stolen from any living man his breath, and what sort of form would have reft from the strongest of men his might. All through their days they rollicked and played through the greenest of holts, napped by the cover of dark forest glades, and made love by hot kells in lush glens. Never among them was there the faintest thought of worry or concern to burden their frolicsome hearts, and they had never known true sorrow. Until, very late one morrow, poor Serenity had grown forlorn.
¶II. There in a glade upon a rock amid the tall ferns sat curled into herself the Drayad Serenity, her face buried into her knees, weeping beneath the flickering morntide sunbeams that besprent in hoving lightmotes shone upon her naked form through the dancing pied shades of yew and oak, elder, alder, and ash, as the calm morrow breeze that each new day stirred the sweet smells of the underwood’s oping, dew-laden flowers and wisped away the morningtide haze crept over her shivering skin. There in that perfection Serenity sat inly chilled by the dull of the woodland’s still, returning at times her tear-sodden gaze afore to see little beyond the tussocks of her own gilded mane wafting for and fro across her vise, ever the while lamenting a thing which she knew could never be -- for a thing that of yore had been by her most ancient kin abandoned, and never wanted for again. For Serenity this morrow longed to do as the ancestral Elves of all Nymphs had done countless a chilliad ’gone: to mate herself to a man, and to rear her own bairn. And futile was it to hope that any other of her kin could even feign to understand.
¶III. Yet when Serenity’s sisters heard her there as she so lonely wept, they were so deeply troubled by the sounds of their sister’s sorrow, that they hastened quickly to her, seeking why she was so sad. And Destiny, the Alpha Drayad of their band, clomb upon the rock and there perched herself abreast her sister’s right. And there Destiny wrapped tenderly her left arm round her sister’s back, and lovely with the backs of her fingertips wiped from Serenity’s face her tears.
¶IV. “My Serenity,” sayed Destiny, “why art thou so sad?”
¶V. Serenity then pulled herself aback from her Destiny’s brace slightly, with an uncertain, thoughtful gaze delving longly into her sister’s eyen, questing desperately some subtle hint from her Destiny as to how she might explain her sorrow in words her Drayad kin could somehow comprehend. “Thou couldst never understand,” she sayed finally, her head rocking in dismissal as it hung ashamed from her languid shoulders.
¶VI. Then Faith, Beta Drayad and Shamaness of their band, clomb as well upon the rock and there abreast her sisters’ left she then promptly sat. Like Destiny before she warmly held her sister, and with her arm wreathed round Serenity’s waspish waist she kissed her cheek, and smiled unsurely, not quite knowing how to return unto Serenity’s face her smile.
¶VII. “Why must our Serenity so coldly draw away?” queried Faith, fondling the long and silken gold waves of Serenity’s shimmering mane. “Wherefore hast thou hid away from us here, knowing how we love and need thee?”
¶VIII. Serenity sighed. “Today I went to the city,” she sayed, curling deep into her Faith’s arms as Destiny then held them both, “and as I lurked there in the wood outside town I saw an Elfwife that had with her two children. I know not why, but in that moment my heart awoke as if suddenly and from a long and stilly sleep, and in sobriety’s cold and heartless clasp I grew woe as it happed to me that I should never have for myself a mate, nor ever a child of mine own.”
¶IX. At these words Serenity’s sisters were silently then started, harrowed inly by the stirring within her of those desires so longly agone forsaken. And Destiny and Faith continued to cradle their sister as the other Drayad kin looked to Solace for her ken.
¶X. “But Serenity,” sayed Solace, “our Destiny is our mate. She is our Alpha Drayad. Only she of all among us should be fertile. We have only to lie with her, and service her, and she would seed her own womb and bare for us a caul. And after fifteen years the caul should hatch, and from it emerge a beautiful Nymphet who is the bairn of the One Love we all have for one another -- a sister whom with to rejoice for all eterne in the splendor of Our Way. That’th been the Way of Nymphs sith a time now far before even the forest’s recall.”
¶XI. “I know all of this,” sayed Serenity, sitting herself up sharply from her sisters’ embrace, her countenance palled sicker eft being suffered so thoughtless a word of concern, “for I am neither a dullard nor mad.”
¶XII. A sullen grimace then crossed Solace’s face, and she assayed to assure Serenity: “I didn’t mean....”
¶XIII. “Thou must take me to be,” charged Serenity, “else thou wouldst not think it due to remind me of such things of which thou knowest I am well aware.”
¶XIV. “If thou truly hast these things foremind,” sayed Divinity, “wherefore art thou so discontent? If thou wast to become Alpha Drayad of thine own band, thou couldst then bear thine own offspring, just as thou list.”
¶XV. “ ’Twould not be the same,” replied Serenity. “At fifteen years, an emerged Nymphet is nigh adult. How am I to ever truly be a mother if I’m never to have a child of mine own? Nay, meseemeth I shall forever be made endure this hollowness I feel within me, crawling wretched and purposeless amidst these groves till the Fates decide upon an end for me that be fitting.”
¶XVI. “How durst thou say such things anent the way of Nymphs?” asked Destiny, releasing her Faith and Serenity as she pulled herself aback from them. “Doth the way of thy kindred disgust thee so greatly?”
¶XVII. “I say naught of the way of Nymphs,” sayed Serenity, staring back at her Destiny sharply. “I speak only of the way of myself. And I am not whole.”
¶XVIII. “Forgive us, my Serenity,” pled Harmony, “but we know naught of what thou speakest. We only wish to understand.”
¶XIX. “I don’t know if ye can,” replied Serenity.
¶XX. “An that be the case,” sayed Harmony, “is there aught we might do for thee? Aught to quell for thee thy sadness? Understanding or not, we are all still thy sisters. We all should fain oblige.”
¶XXI. “I know of naught ye could do for me,” sayed Serenity, still barely weeping. “These yearnings: I’m not even sure I understand them myself.”
¶XXII. Then Faith, overcome by pity for her sister, sayed unto her: “Fret not, for at the full Moon shall I spell for thee a rite, that will bring requiem unto the sorrow of thine heart, and will quell for thee thy woe.”
¶XXIII. And to this Serenity nodded, saying naught as she there fell contently into the warmth of her sisters’ clasp. And there with them she lay until the morrow’s end.