¶I. For many days Serenity was once again content as she capered with her sisters about the wildwoods, foraging amidst the wealds and prancing through the underbrush. Again Serenity unstrained in sun-swathed glades, and again joined her sisters several times each day in their tribadic orgies. Again was she pacified by the way of Nymphs, and enraptured utterly therein.
¶II. On the seventh day Serenity returned to the clearing where she and the Dark Elf had first met, and waited there for him to come to their quarterly tryst.
¶III. Upon the Dark Elf’s arrival he and Serenity cavorted through the creepers and hemp trees, laughing and playing with each other as aye the day waned toward dusk. Yet again the Dark Elf shared stories of the world beyond the Emerald Forest, and yet again Serenity thanked him with dance and song.
¶IV. But when the day had ended, and the Dark Elf had left, Serenity was again by her loneliness mired. Then a thought came unto her, more burdensome than all the thoughts that ever had come unto her before: she suffered not from an ailment to be cured by runecraft or lyblake, for always and anon would her heart cry out in despair for the desires it sought, yet never would attain. And so Serenity went unto Charity once more, and said unto her:
¶V. “I cannot stay this course of mine, of being forever suffered to endure this solitude of mine heart. By spelled rite, by sung rune, by salve and by potion hath my woes been for a time quelled. Yet always am I left discontent when this time hath passed. Surely there must be something thou can do for me, someway that I might attain that which I desire.”
¶VI. “I shall take thee to Faith,” offered Charity, “who shall find a way to make thee more content.” And to this Serenity agreed.
¶VII. Charity brought Serenity unto Faith accordingly, and there Serenity explained to Faith the cause of her sadness: that she had fallen in love with a Dark Elf. This greatly disturbed Faith, for such a thing was not the way of Nymphs. Faith nonetheless took pity on Serenity, knowing of her sadness, and attempted to forge for her a solution.
¶VIII. “I shall take thee to Daphne,” said Faith, “the Alpha Dryad of the Eldest Tribe, who will make thee more content.” And to this Serenity agreed.
¶I. Erelong they found Faith foraging about the Emerald Forest’s innermost wealds, and Charity approached her with Serenity trailing just abaft, and said unto her: “My Faith, we must do somewhit to help our Serenity. I fear she hath fallen in love with a mortal.”
¶II. Visibly and greatly this unsettled Faith, who answered them merely: “Dost thou need me for some spellcraft?”
¶III. “Thou knowest as well as I no spellcraft can heal that which is not a sickness,” replied Charity. “We must find a way for Serenity to be with her mortal.”
¶IV. “Fie,” said Faith, “I shan’t have any part in it, and neither shalt thou. ‘Tis not the way of Nymphs.”
¶V. “I see,” said Charity. “Then ‘tis the way of Nymphs to turn thy back on a sister in need, to dismiss her pain because thou canst not understand it? Is it also the way of Nymphs that I should explain to our Serenity why her Faith hath abandoned her, or wilt thou be doing that thyself?”
¶VI. Faith then coldly stared at Charity. “How durst thou to speak unto me in such a manner....”
¶VII. “How durst thou to call thyself Serenity’s Alpha Dryad? I bid thee, go unto her and look into her eyes. See her sorrow as thou did once before and tell her thou wilt help her not. I dare thee Faith!”
¶VIII. “ ‘Tis not my place to extend sympathy unto she who would abandon the way of Nymphs. No matter the circumstance must the way of Nymphs be upheld.”
¶IX. “Upheld as law?” said Charity. “Is that it? Shall the way of Nymphs be thrust upon us as the law is upon the mortal races? Thy word saith much more anent this matter than thou hast intended, my Faith. How Glorious be the Way of Nymphs! that it must rather be forced upon us than followed by choice.”
¶X. “My Serenity!” beckoned Faith, “come hither, I wish to see thee.” And Serenity came unto Faith, who in defeat grew then solemnly avised as she saw the tears that welled within her sister’s eyes. And Faith asked her: “How didst thou come to meet this mortal of thine?”
¶XI. “I met him in the clearing by the cherries,” said Serenity. “ ‘Twas a fortnight agone this eve. I saw there in the clearing a Darkelf, and I tried to hide away from him, but he saw me, and asked if I was alright. So I stepped forth, cautiously, and I saw he was escorted by two Lightelves. That’s when the Darkelf -- his name is Lyrian -- he told me he was a betrayer of the Unseelie Court, being taken to Arlianor so that he might aid in a resistance intending to thwart the Unseelie Court’s latest attempt to seize the throne of Faerya.”
¶XII. “That’s quite a tale,” said Faith. “May I ask: how many times hast thou seen this Lyrian fellow?”
¶XIII. “Twice,” answered Serenity, “not counting the day I met him. Once the sennight after our first meeting, and again at midday this morrow. Each time we’ve met he ’ath told me the most amazing tales, and I’ve rewarded him with song and tombestry these last twain meetings. In fact I am due to meet with him again, at midday, a sennight from this eve.”
¶XIV. “Why didst thou not bring him to us,” asked Faith, “so that we all might play with him?”
¶XV. “I know it must seem wretched of me,” said Serenity, “but I did not wish to share him.”
¶XVI. “And doth our Charity speak the truth? Hast thou truly fallen in love with him?”
¶XVII. “Ay,” spake Serenity, nodding her head, “I have. With every thought I dream of him, with every thewe I long for him. I fear I shan’t be again be but woe till I’ve kenned a way that I might be with him.”
¶XVIII. Faith raught her hand out unto her sister Serenity, and cradled her cheek therein as Serenity began to weep. And Faith brought Serenity tightly into her arms and kissed her softly as she stroked her golden hair, and said unto her: “We will find thee a way to be with thy mortal.”
¶XIX. “I thought that ‘is not the way of Nymphs’,” said Charity, crossing her arms before her as she stared accusingly at Faith.
¶XX. Faith released Serenity, and held Serenity’s hands in hers, and unto Charity replied: “If a choice must be made between the way and the Nymph, then we must always choose the Nymph. And I thank you both deeply for reminding me this.”
¶XXI. Then Faith returned her gaze upon Serenity, and she said unto her: “I shall take thee to Daphne. If there be a single Nymph in all of Gaya that can help thee, ‘tis she.”
¶XXII. “Where shall we find Daphne?” asked Serenity. “How may we get to her?”
¶XXIII. “We must first traverse the Somberwood,” explained Faith, “a dark and deadly murkwood whereunto shall we face many a danger. Beyond this darksome land lieth the Elderwood, homewood of the Eldest Tribe. Therein shall we seek Daphne.”
¶XXIV. “Wait,” quoth Charity, “am I to go with you?”
¶XXV. “Nay,” replied Faith. “Thou shalt remain here in wait for us. Thou art the Alpha Dryad till I’ve returned.”
¶XXVI. “But the Somberwood is far too perilous for you to go by yourselves,” said Charity. “Ye could be badly hurt, or even killed!”
¶XXVII. “That’s precisely why thou must remain here,” said Faith. “The tribe needeth an Alpha Dryad, should we nary return.”
¶XXVIII. “Nary return?” queried Serenity. “Why would we nary return? Are we to imperil ourselves so greatly?”
¶XXIX. “Verily,” stated Faith. “The Somberwood holdeth in store great jeopardy for whosoever be foolish or daring enough to brave it. We may encounter there such horrid whits as Goblins, Firbolgs, Basilisks, Wyverns, Jabberwocks, Trolls, Batlings, Wargs, Bandersnatches, Hydrae or even Cyclopes. ‘Tis no place for the timid, nor for the unwary.”
¶XXX. Serenity’s eyes grew very wide, and in her worry did her brow arch as her nether lip hung. “Couldn’t we just go around the Somberwood?”
¶XXXI. “Surely thou hastn’t begun to reconsider?” asked Faith
¶XXXII. Serenity shook her head, and her eyes narrowed. “Not at all,” she replied. “Forthwith shall I travel into the Somberwood and face there all it hath to wield against me, if it be there wherethrough lieth that which can give me him whom I desire.” Strangely then her right cheek was by earnest smirk creased. “And fain shall I be to do it.”
¶XXXIII. “I would not deign to put myself in such danger if I were thee,” said Charity. “Ponder carefully this course before thee, if only for the sake of thy sisters. And as well thou, Faith: art thou certain there can be no other way to attain for Serenity that which shall appease her longing?”
¶XXXIV. “I know of no way whatever,” said Faith. “That’s why we must seek out Daphne in the Elderwood. She may know of somewhit that can be done for Serenity.”
¶XXXV. Charity began looking about the wood, biting her lower lip as she held her shoulders stiff. She then looked back to Faith and Serenity, and she asked them: “How long do ye expect this journey to take? When should we expect your return unto the Emerald Forest?”
¶XXXVI. “We’ll return,” replied Faith, “if at all, within six day’s time.” And with that said, Serenity and her Faith, Faith and her Serenity disembarked from there together with hands joined, venturing ever nigh the dreaded dark of the Somberwood.
¶XXXVII. Charity brought Serenity unto Faith accordingly, and there Serenity explained to Faith the cause of her sadness: that she had fallen in love with a Dark Elf. This greatly disturbed Faith, for such a whit was not the way of Nymphs. Faith nonetheless took pity on Serenity, knowing of her sadness, and attempted to forge for her a solution.
¶XXXVIII. “I shall take thee to Daphne,” said Faith, “the Alpha Dryad of the Eldest Tribe, who will make thee more content.” And to this Serenity agreed.
¶XXXIX. Faith and Serenity left their tribe that very day, and by Faith’s guidance
¶XL. Serenity traveled to the southernmost ends of the Emerald Forest, beyond which lay the darksome dead of the Somberwood.
¶V.Incarnate was theirs the beauty of eternal springtide, virginity and lust, wisdom and innocence, ferocity and temperance, More wondrous were these winsome wights than any mortal woman had ever imaged being, and comelier these callipygian creatures and their kind than aught which neath cover of the canopy ever had therein dwelt: Dryads bearing faces fair and by faint dustings of freckles dappled, decked by fax manes from their pates deflowing, or by fiery red or ruddy blonde hair framed, whilst beneath their bonny brows sat eyen either of brightly bespangled blue or aglow with gleaming green, or of still some shade the twain between, whenas sveltely were shaped their beautiful bodies’ forms about their slender centers, yet also sonsie were they with large, sphery mammets steeled high upon their breasts, and limbed were they nimbly upon lithe legs.
¶I. Enveloped by the steam of spuming springs they sat, as Charity dropped herbs that Serenity didn’t recognize into the small pool between them. And with her staff Charity stirred the water, ever singing:
“A vallilae tu llae aethin,
“Sythad’ya lles ilia’n ngythin!
“A vallilae tu llae ramin,
“Sythad’ya lles ilia’n ngythin!
“A vallilae tu llae quethin,
“Sythad’ya lles ilia’n ngythin!
“A vallilae tu llae theardin,
“Sythad’ya lles ilia’n ngythin!
“A vallilae tu llae alluvin,
“Sythad’ya lles ilia’n ngythin!”
¶II. Charity sang the invocation as only a shaman could, singing words that it seemed were meant by their very construction to be sung as her soul outstretched, and trilled softly the song aloft her lips.
¶III. Charity then laid down her staff and climbed down into the pool, and outstretched her hand unto Serenity, who joined her in the brewing potion. There together they bathed, and Charity washed her sister, ever rowning unto the elemental spirits in the ancient Faenarin tongue:
¶IV. “A vallilae tu aethin, tu ramin, tu quethin, tu theardin, ea tu alluvin -- ila ngythad tu ninae A vallinae, athad’ya nilae athil enthen, athad’ya lai inia, ea sythad’ya ilia’n ngythin. Llaenad’ya lles llornil A vallinae, lles llornil tu Serenity’n, ea lai thina llaenad’ya nilae’n mbaenin, lle mbaenil thila mbe lloanden llornad’ty, ynd llet an’ty nilae’n vorin. Ila ngythad tu ninae.”
¶V. Charity continued to rown as she and Serenity bathed for nearly an hour together, and in this time Serenity had taken up some of the potion within her cupped hands and imbibed it. And when having finished her rune Charity began to splash at Serenity, and the two laughed, playing happily in the frothing pool. For once again Serenity felt a joy within her.
¶VI. And thus the work of Charity was done.