Home > Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(13)

Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(13)
Jeff Wheeler

She said nothing.

“For pity’s sake,” he grumbled.

“Where is your wife?” Phae asked, looking around.

His grizzled beard quivered with frustration. “You are a troublesome girl.”

“I’m not trying to be difficult. I don’t understand how that man passed by me without even seeing me. It was as if he could not see me.”

“Well, he couldn’t!” the old man said, annoyed.

“How could that be?” Phae said desperately.

He ground his teeth. “Wonderful,” he mumbled. He turned to the tree. “Well? Am I supposed to explain it to her all by myself?”

Phae suddenly had the feeling the old man might very well be insane. “You are talking to…the tree?”

He put his face in his hand and shook his head in frustration. “You know I don’t like talking to people. Maybe you should tell her.”

Phae swallowed. “Who should tell me? Who are you talking to?”

“To my wife,” he answered. “She’s here with us.” He looked up at Phae. “You don’t know what you are, do you?”

He was talking about her fireblood. He saw a girl with red hair. A man was hunting her in the woods. The Plague had been reported in Havenrook. The protection her blood provided would be valuable. She understood now.

“Yes,” Phae said at last. “I know what I am.” She slowly stood. “Not even the Druidecht intervene when we are taken. You are like the rest of them.”

His eyebrows crinkled. “No, I don’t think you understand. Do you know how rare you are? Who…who was your mother? Where is your mother? Haven’t you been taught about Mirrowen? Do you know…?” He ground his teeth in frustration again. “I shouldn’t be the one telling her!”

Phae backed away from him slowly. “I don’t have the fireblood,” she lied. “Not everyone with red hair does have it. I’m Aeduan, just like you. The man hunting me thinks I have it. He’ll murder me. If you are a Druidecht, then use your magic to stop him.”

The Druidecht shook his head. “Druidecht magic won’t help against him. Come back to the tree, girl. Now.”

Phae shook her head. “No.”

He turned to the tree with an expression of helplessness and aggravation. “Show her! She thinks I am crazy. Please!”

Phae was ready to run when a girl stepped around the side of the tree. She was no older than herself, young and pretty, wearing a fine gown from a dressmaker in Stonehollow. The designs on the sleeve and the ruff at the trim marked it as such. Her eyes were as green as the oak leaves. Phae stared at the old man and then at the much younger girl. The girl was barefoot and had a bracelet fashioned into the shape of a twisting serpent around one ankle.

“Hello,” the girl said timidly. “This must be very strange to you. But I can sense what you are. You are not bound yet.”

Phae stared down at the ground. She had felt a strange feeling of intimacy after glancing at the girl’s eyes. Phae knew that the other girl could steal her memories, that they shared the same power.

“Tell her!” the old Druidecht implored. “She doesn’t know!”

“This is your wife?” Phae said, still looking at the ground. Her stomach filled with revulsion. An old man and a young girl. It was disgusting.

“Well…yes, but you don’t understand. Are you going to tell her?”

“Listen to me,” said the girl. “Listen to my words if you will not look into my eyes. You must know the truth. You have great power. And there is great danger. You must listen.”

Phae shook her head and backed away. “Stay away from me.”

“You are Dryad-born,” the girl said. “And you have the fireblood. There has never been such a combination of powers. You must stay here and learn. You must let me teach you about your heritage. I have never heard of another like you. You are powerful. And dangerous. To yourself as well as to others of our kind. You must stay and let me teach you. I can guard you from the man chasing you. You are part of Mirrowen, child. It is in your blood. If you do not choose it soon, you will forever lose your magic. Please, child. Look at me. Let me share my memories with you. Let me help you understand.”

Phae did not look at her, only at the bracelet around her ankle. Why a serpent? Was there significance to the tail and how it forked? She was so confused and afraid.

“I am a Dryad?” Phae asked. She had never heard that word before. “Is that a race? What is it?”

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