Chapter 22- The Dryads

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This is Son-rah^

Finally, the mountain was in view, I hadn't traveled this far by foot in a very long time, so this was a welcome development. I felt Hel trying to connect with me, but for now, I blocked her out; for the last day and a half, she had been connecting with me every few minutes to ask if I was there yet, and then grumble to me when I said that I wasn't. I would have cut her off completely, but since she was my only form of contact with others, I tolerated it; but for right now I needed to concentrate on finding the leader of the Dryads, Son-rah, so I could secure safe entrance to their mountain.

Once I sensed her familiar presence, I immediately stretched out my mind and greeted her, "My sister bound by nature, I hail thee as a traveler and beg for refuge." This was an ancient greeting known only by a few and used only by the residents of this mountain.

I felt immediate displeasure flowing from her when she felt me and her response was swift and sharp, "You truly are a fool to think that we would welcome you here after all the trouble you and your kind have caused."

"What do you mean, Son-rah? I know we got in an argument when I was last here, but I thought that we left things amicably, was I mistaken?"

Pure rage flowed from her, "Things were forgiven, but when you sent your brethren to attack us, we rescinded our forgiveness. You mock us by pretending not to know the damage you have caused."

"Wait, you were attacked by banshees? I truly must confess to being ignorant in this matter, what happened?"

"AS IF YOU DO NOT KNOW ALREADY! Our once strong race has been cut in half by the attack you orchestrated; you may drop the façade Janis, we know of your involvement in this because of a stray banshee that we captured and interrogated after the attack."

I pondered this for a moment, "I'm sorry for your loss, Son-rah, but I have to deny this accusation. I would never do anything to harm you or your sisters, no matter the cost; would you give me a chance to prove this to you?" If she didn't accept this, I had no other options but to fight my way to the top of the mountain, which would definitely kill me.

"Just how do you recommend you do that? Our old oracle was killed in the attack, and her apprentice is yet too young to understand all that she sees. I must admit that it would gladden my heart to know that a once-trusted friend is not responsible for the blood that your race's hands."

"I could link minds with you or one of your people, if I do this while being restrained and guarded, it should be safe for everyone."

A new voice joined our conversation, "Janis, what are you doing? You know as well as I do that a full mind link is dangerous, it could damage you permanently." Hel sounded livid that this was my great idea to clear my name.

"Who is this? I sense a presence that is ancient and filled with great power, who are you to be conniving with a banshee?" I cursed to myself, this situation was precarious enough as it was, adding Hel into the mix was like throwing ale at Ban before a fight, it would only make things more complicated.

"Son-rah, this is Queen Hel, she rules over the underworld, and is currently trying to help me save this realm, she isn't physically here, I have a mist link with her."

"I am sorry for intruding on a private conversation, but I would advise strongly against a full mind link, it would be dangerous for everyone involved. If I may vouch for Janis, whom I have had watched for years; she has never collaborated with evil banshees, though I do recall a few fights she had with some."

I shook my head, there is no way that would work, "I do not recognize you as a trustworthy authority, Hel, Janis has been convicted of having the blood of my sisters on her hands, so a simple testimony of her innocence would never work. I hate to admit it, but a mind link is the only way to prove anyone innocent. Come to the foot of the mountain, and my sisters will take you captive." I smiled sadly as I heard these words, they had grown even more scared of the world then they were when I last saw them.

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