The Childish Dryad

Deng and Riuying were exceedingly happy at first, but small strains came upon them from time to time. Like most married couples, they had disagreements over sometimes simple and sometimes complex matters. The most simple disagreements were about which kind of flowers to plant. Riuying liked pink, and Deng liked white. These matters were settled with laughs and love, easily forgotten. The complex matters pertained to their family. Deng was a dark elf. The dark elves often could not propagate. Such was the curse of their race and the reason that children were praised and valued so highly in their society. This bothered Deng immensely, but Riuying lovingly accepted this. Namland was a peaceful country but even peaceful countries have orphanages. The matter of having children could be done that way. Riuying never pushed for adoption, but the idea festered in Deng’s head. Would a child accept a dark elf as its parent?

That question would be answered much sooner than Deng ever expected. A mere day after Deng and Riuying discussed expanding their family in such a manner, there was an explosion of magic in Raven’s Glade. The cottage that Deng built for Riuying was destroyed, and standing in the wreckage of the foundation was a red-haired girl in clothing made of leaves and bark. She was a dryad and she had just escaped from the Feywild, a portal entrance to which was apparently below Riuying’s cottage. The dryad exclaimed that she had finally freed herself from her prison and fled into the forest. Deng and Riuying tried to follow and Deng magically caused the paths to disappear from the dryad, forcing her to be lost in the woods. But the dryad was playful and seemed to enjoy being lost between the trees.

The dryad evaded the master druid and his wife for almost a year. They were ever on the lookout for her, but she would quickly vanish when they came upon her. Deng’s sight into the forest followed her but she would always run away when he and Riuying came to her. One day, Deng looked through the branches and leaves to find the dryad and saw her in the hobgoblin fortress in the eastern valley. The hobgoblins had decided she was trespassing on their sacred land and meant to execute her. Deng and Riuying arrived in time to convince the hobgoblins to release the dryad to them instead.

Deng meant to take the dryad to the portal to the Feywild and push her through back from where she came. The dryad cried out, though. She sobbed incessantly, and Deng and Riuying took pity on her. The dryad was named Arpistis and she had always been unhappy under the rule of her elder sister, a tyrant dryad named Mavka. If returned to the Feywild, Arpistis would be severely punished. Moved, Riuying convinced Deng to allow Arpistis to stay in the Neblina Forest so long as Arpistis followed their rules: be kind to the citizens of the forest, help instead of harm, and stay away from the hobgoblins. Arpistis helped Deng and Riuying rebuild Riuying’s cottage. This time, a doorway to the Feywild was built in the form of a mirror. If Arpistis ever decided she wanted to go to the Feywild, she was free to pass through.

Arpistis stayed out in the forest for most of the time, but often returned to Deng’s tower to be with Deng and Riuying. Playful as she was, Arpistis grew very fond of the master druid and his wife. After ten years, Deng approached Arpistis with an idea. Seeing that Arpistis had never expressed any singular desire to return to the Feywild, he could perform a magical ritual for her. The ritual would move her Tree from the Feywild to the Neblina Forest. Such a ritual was only possible through love, a powerful bond of love that had developed between Deng, Riuying, and Arpistis.

Arpistis called Deng her father and said, “Yes, please, father. Move my Tree here. Let me remain with you forever!”