At the druid tower, Deng met with his new students. Gwynn was ready to learn and immediately began to dive into the master druid’s teachings, burying himself in books and scrolls between meeting times. E’thor and Telynor, however, were still young children and often acted so. Riuying thought it might be wise to pair them with Arpistis. The dryad had already learned much druidic magic and Riuying believed she might be able to control their antics and playfulness. Riuying also petitioned Deng to teach Griba, but Deng refused. He did not believe a hag would be worthy of the circle of druids, and instead offered his teachings to Trinity. Trinity, sensing a rift between Deng and Riuying over Deng’s refusal to instruct Griba, accepted the offer and joined the Circle. However, Trinity secretly met with Riuying and Griba about this, deciding to share what she learned with Griba without Deng knowing.
Over the years, the students grew stronger and stronger, but the master druid and his wife grew further and further apart. Deng became intensely focused on and concerned about his students. He was almost constantly with them, leaving the cultivation of the forest to Riuying and Griba. Riuying spent more time in her glade, taking care of the plants, creating medicines, and brewing potions. Trinity snuck down to the glade as often as she could and taught the grateful Griba everything she was learning.
Griba, for her part, had become bonded with Riuying and refused to ever leave ‘the White Raven’s’ side. She used everything Riuying and Trinity taught her, becoming a master of crafting medicines herself. Griba frequently called upon her innate hag magic to transform herself into a medicine peddler and traveled with Riuying to nearby towns to deliver the medicine to anyone who needed it, all the while creating beautiful blooms of flowers wherever she stepped.
The boys, E’thor and Telynor, proved to be a challenge to Deng. Arpistis was supposed to curb their childishness, but the dryad was childish herself and she often exasperated the problem. The three of them missed lessons frequently to go play in the forest. Deng wanted to be angry with them, and he spoke to Riuying about it. Riuying scolded him for this, reminding him that the two of them did not have children themselves. She already thought of Arpistis and Griba as her children, and Deng abashedly admitted that he felt the same way about Gwynn, E’thor, and Telynor, too. He apologized to them for any harsh treatments he directed their way and began to give them more free time in the forest.
Gwynn, however, did not agree with this. As they grew up in the forest, Gwynn had noticed that E’thor and Telynor had both developed feelings for one another, and Gwynn felt that such a romance would distract them from their work and education. Further, while the master druid tried to stop the childishness of the boys, he never reprimanded Arpistis for the same thing. Gwynn complained to Deng, but Deng explained that, while E’thor and Telynor were indeed young and often naive, they were slowly becoming extremely powerful druids in their own right. E’thor could identify almost every plant in the forest, including the rarer plants that grew closer to the Vale. Telynor could cast high-level magic with even greater frequency than Gwynn. Realizing he was wrong, Gwynn apologized to his master. He felt a sense of camaraderie with the boys, but also felt like he was often in competition with them.
One day while wishing to better himself, Gwynn went into the forest to train. While wandering, he came upon Arpistis’s Tree. Arpistis, he learned, was trying to build a treehouse in her Tree because she heard that E’thor’s family used to have one. Gwynn assisted her in the construction over the next few weeks. Arpistis invited all of her friends and family to the treehouse for a celebration to commemorate it. Gwynn commissioned an artist to draw a portrait of everyone who could attend. Even Mavka herself came down from the Vale to be a part of the portrait. Riuying and Griba were sadly not in the forest at the time, having gone on a pilgrimage to deliver medicine to Silverton. The party should have been a joyful event, but Arpistis couldn’t help but feel sad that her mother and Griba were not there.