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"Your kind? … What do you mean?" She asked, clearly not understanding.
"First, I apologize for misleading you. I never meant you any harm by it, but given the urgent nature of our search, I felt I had to hide my ident.i.ty. I am not a human or an elf. I am a Dryad." She did not seem to comprehend what I was saying, so I explained, "I am a plant spirit. I get my energy from the plants and the sun."
"A spirit. Like in all those old stories?" she said quietly. I nodded that she was right but she looked at me skeptically. I guess I would have to use some of my power at this point. Making plants grow would not do me any good, she had already seen that. I guess I could just show her.
I held up my hand which started to glow softly. My hands and fingers started to narrow and turn a reddish brown color while the tips of my fingers started to flatten and turn green. Lillian's eyes grew wide in terror and her knees started to buckle. I quickly caught her with my other hand that was still human. Well, mostly human, it was still a little green.
"Are you alright?" I said helping her move to a nearby bench. As I set her down on the bench she inched further from me. Distancing herself. It would be a lie to say that it did not hurt. All I could really say is that it was expected.
"What are you?" Her words sounded slightly harsh, but I tried my best to act like I did not notice. Letting my emotions rise would not help. I was the one to lie to her. It was my fault all the way.
I noticed something felt off. And looked down to see that one of my hands was still in the form of a branch. I felt that this slightly ruined the image of benevolent near-human, so I quickly turned it back to normal. I hope that seeing my hand again did not upset her too much. After taking a breath and making sure that I was 'human' again, I said, "I am Laurel the Dryad. One of the greater spirits that watch over the world. My domain is the large forest west of the Franklin Duckdoom."
"Franklin Dukedom," She corrected without thinking. Then after a pause, "But why are you at my house?" she said in a bit of protest.
I smiled at this one. "That would be because you invited me to stay in exchange for making medicine for your daughter." Did that really count as evading the question? I did answer her honestly.
There was some nondescript stuttering coming from Lillian as she tried to process what I said. Not letting this chance go to waste, I pushed the conversation on to other matters. "How is your daughter feeling today? I can promise that the medicine I provided will work. I wanted to provide something that would work faster, but was stopped because of the risk of being found out."
"Camilla is already feeling better," Lillian said with a smile of relief at her daughter's prospects. Then she paused. "Wait, you can make something even better?"
"Yes. I have a medicine that will make her better right away. I will give it to her tonight, but I ask in exchange that you please let us stay here for a few more days... We have nowhere else to go." I looked at her with pleading eyes clasping my hands in front of me. I really did not know what we were going to do without her help. I thought we would be on our way to meet Maximus and maybe even have Faun back by now, but in the end we had gotten nowhere. I could feel my eyes grow a little moist at that thought.
"How could someone as powerful as a greater spirit not have any place to stay?" she asked me in disbelief.
I could not help but shrug. "We are from far away from my home and my purpose keeps me from making my nature known to the world at large." Thinking about it, I also added, "I don't think most people would believe me if I told them."
"Why can you not let other people know who you are?" she asked in confusion. Then her expression suddenly changed to one of mild shock. "We will get to that later. I came out here to find you. The steward of Count Mendal came here to set up a meeting. The Count wants to see me, and also you and your… student. He said something about an apology." It was clear that she wanted to know more but did not feel right in prying.
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"He moves faster than I would expect. You mortals do not waste much time," I said. Then realizing this would do nothing to answer her, I added, "We had a little run-in with an idiot son of his this morning." I said this casually, shrugging it off. It was not the first time that I had to deal with a human male who forgot where his brain was located. There was no harm done, well, at least to Leafia and myself. Aggressors have no right to complain. If anything the exchange served as a welcome distraction. But mortals had their honor. Realizing my mind was wandering again, I let out a sigh. "If you are ready to go, can you please lead the way? We don't want to keep this Stewart waiting."
"Steward" She corrected me instantly, "Yes, I think I am ready." She said while standing up. As we started walking back I noticed that Lillian was careful as she walked to only step squarely on the stones. "Um, Lady Laurel?" Lillian said hesitantly, breaking the silence that had accompanied our walk.
"Laurel is fine. I really have had enough of people trying to worship me." She looked at me inquisitive and I decided to supply, "The elves wish to worship me as their G.o.ddess, but I will have nothing of it."
It seems that this came as a bit of a shock to her and I heard her whisper as she stopped in her tracks. "We almost left the G.o.ddess of the elves to sleep on the street like a beggar. We almost started a war without knowing why." She looked at my slightly hesitantly. I do not doubt that my eyes were pleading once again. I did not want humans to join that elven absurdity. It seems that the message got through because she resumed walking with a slight smile and said, "Laurel, then. If the spirits from stories exist, does that mean that those monsters like dragons and trolls are real too?"
I started to laugh at that. But I quickly calmed myself. "I have always wondered where you humans came up with such stories. But no, there are no monsters out there. The closest thing would be us spirits. But I don't think it is flattering to call us ladies monsters."
"Wait, all spirits are female?" I nodded my head to show she was right. "How do you make children?"
"We do not grow old like elves and humans. We do not have a need to make children," I said, but I could not keep a hint of sadness from my voice. Having people to spend my time with was a wonderful experience. It would be difficult to let go again when that time came….