I led the young dryad, Ivy, through the woods to Laurel’s pond. I kept reminding myself that there was something that Ivy was supposed to tell us, but I think that could wait until we plant the seeds. Also, Mist had been so bored recently. She would be happy to have another diversion. Every time I came here she would complain about how long I was gone, and she was always trying to find a way to keep me here longer. It was clear that she was having a bit of a hard time adjusting to being alone for the first time in 100 years. The elves had come to the pond a few times in Laurel’s absence, but the visits felt more like a mixture of worshiping the ‘sacred pond’ and making sure that Mist was not causing any trouble than any attempt to socialize with Mist or myself. I wanted to roll my eyes as I thought about the elves, but as I was still flying to show Ivy the way, that was a bad idea.
I had heard that Forest Mother had warned the elves against looking down on Mist just because she was a sprite, but that did not do much to alleviate their concerns. I think that it was the only thing keeping them from trying to chase her away in Laurel’s absence.
When we entered the clearing around the pond, to my surprise Ivy seemed disappointed. I tilted my head in confusion, not understanding her mood. Seeing my look she quickly shook her head. “There is nothing wrong. I just was expecting something… more.” She paused and took a breath, “This is just a pond in a clearing. Everything is nice and the trees are healthy but it is all so... normal.”
I started laughing at this statement but was interrupted mid laugh. “Come closer! It has been dry these last few days and the morning dew is already gone. I can not hear you from that far away.” We turned to look at Mist who had just returned to the water with a loud splash.
“Let’s go a little closer. Mist is still a sprite and can not stray too far from the water,” I said flying over to the edge of the pond. “You know that is no way to greet our guest,” I said playfully to Mist.
“Then don’t go having conversations where I can not follow,” she said without rising out of the pond. The ripples in the pond still let you find where her presence was pretty easily. Apparently she did not think that retort was strong enough because a small stream of water squirted itself at me. “Sorry that I am not showing myself. I have been needing to save energy since Laurel left.”
“I am sorry for talking where you could not hear us,” Ivy said. I was a little surprised to see her acting so meekly, was she not used to banter? She was a true greater spirit and was many times stronger than Mist was as a sprite. It felt odd that she was acting so timid.
“You don’t need to worry about it,” Mist said, “You’re here now. As you already heard, I am Mist. So who are you? Why are you here? Oh, I know, a story would be fun. Can you tell me a story? Not one of Laurel’s. Though I can’t say that I have heard them all, they are just so,” sigh, “slow.”
“Um, I am Ivy,” she said hesitantly. “I think that is what you asked first.”
“Nice to meet you,” Mist said bobbing halfway out of the water. “So why are you here?”
“Well, I was in trouble. And Laurel told me to come here if I was in trouble. There was this man and…” Ivy was surprisingly at a loss for words. It seemed like she was having a hard time dealing with Mist’s bubbly personality.
All of Mist’s attention seemed to be too much for Ivy so I decided to deflect the conversation to help her get more comfortable. I had the feeling that she had not left her home very often. “Before we talk about that, we have some new trees Laurel has made. We were coming here to find a good place to plant them.”
“Yey, more plants,” Mist said sounding far from sincere. “I guess you just have to humor plant spirits when in comes to more plants.”
Hovering over the edge of the pond and ignoring her sarcasm, I said, “I was thinking it would be good to ask you where to put them since you know this pond better than anyone left in these woods. From what I heard they are a flowering tree that would like some shade.” I turned to Ivy for confirmation, to which she nodded. Then looking back at Mist, “Where do you think Laurel would like them?”
“Over to the south there should be a good place,” the ripples of the pond called out. Ivy nodded at the ripples, then started walking around the pond to the area in the south. “Make sure that you put it close enough to the pond that I will be able to see it too.” That last statement made it clear that Mist was not as disinterested as she was pretending to be.
“Don’t worry, I will make sure she does not put it too far away,” I said flying low over the pond and kicking the water as I went. Suddenly a dark shadow appeared under me in the water. I flew to the side as quick as I could trying to make some height in the process. “Mist!” I called out as a large fish jumped out of the water after me. My heart was racing as time slowed around me. I turned to look and saw a monstrous trout already more than halfway out of the water with its mouth gaping open to swallow me whole. I tried to put more strength into my wings but it was too late. There was not enough time for me to avoid it.
Suddenly the fish seemed to stop in mid air with only its tail still in the water. It then fell back into the water with a resounding splash. “You owe me for that one,” Mist said from below the water, “it takes more effort than you would think to catch a fish by its tail. Fly a little higher next time.”
“Thank you for not letting me meet my end,” I said, breathing heavily and gaining more height than was strictly called for.
“If I did not, who would I have to talk to?” Mist responded. I could not help but grudgingly chuckle at this as I hovered over the pond. I was safe from the fish I saw circling below up here. But the cry of a hawk in the distance forced me to race off once again across the pond, this time at a greater height.
I was no longer flying straight across the pond but was heading to Ivy who was still making her way to where Mist had ‘pointed’ out. I know I was being a little childish but I landed on Ivy’s shoulder. To hide from the hawk.
“Haii,” she called out, jumping a little as I landed. When she saw that it was just me, she said, “I thought you were heading across the pond.”
“Sorry. I don’t feel like being alone right now. One close encounter is enough for a day.” Ivy did not seem to understand my statement but did not question it any more and just continued walking around the pond.
“Does here seem like a good spot?” I called out to Mist.
She quickly bobbed up out of the water for a look. As she crashed down I think I heard her say that this spot was good but it was hard to hear over the splash she made in the water.
Shrugging my shoulders I faced Ivy. “I think this is as good a spot as any. Go ahead and plant them here.”
Ivy bent down to the ground and made a small hole, placing a seed in it. I could feel her powers start to flow as the seed began to sprout. “There is so much more energy to work with here. I have never had such an easy time getting things to grow,” she said as the tree started to grow up past her knees. I was not sure which seed she had planted first, but now I was able to tell it was from the weeping lilly.
I could tell that her control was lacking a little since the grass around the tree was growing along with it. Laurel usually was much more precise, only causing the thing she wanted to grow while everything around it was unaffected. I really enjoyed watching it grow and I was trying to gauge what Mist thought about the tree, but as she was a little bump on the surface of the water it was hard to tell what she was thinking. I decided to think that she was stunned speechless. Ivy grew the tree to nearly twice her height before she cut her power.
After stepping back a few feet to see her handywork, she then turned and walked dozens of steps away. I had been caught staring at the tree and did not notice her leaving, so I quickly flew after her, still not wanting to be alone. I was not sure if the hawk was still around.
Ivy again bent down, dug a little hole with her finger and dropped a small seed inside. This second tree was fascinating to watch as it grew. It was easy to see why Ivy loved it so much with is golden leaves and flowers. But I did not see why Ivy thought that this would be more impressive than our new home. It was a much smaller tree so it did not leave an impression of grandeur.
“Um, this is nice, but I don’t see what the big deal about this tree is,” I said
“It’s nice enough for a tree,” Mist put in, bobbing up from the pond from a moment.
“The greatest show ever is yet to come. It should only take a few more hours,” Ivy said while looking up at the sky.
“Couldn’t you just speed it along?” I asked in confusion, “Growing a tree this size hardly dents the energy in this part of the woods.”
“Sorry, I have no control over this,” she said. “Besides, it has been very exhausting to get here. I have been running for several days straight.” She then plopped down on the grass. “I hope you don’t mind me resting here until evening?”
I smiled to myself as I sensed that she did not even wait for a response before letting go of her consciousness. Already I could feel the grasses start to grow up around her. I was still a little shaken from my one and a half near death experiences earlier. So I decided to rest on Ivy’s shoulder. It would only be a few hours before evening. I guess that issue she wanted to talk about could wait until then.