The dryad girl looked very tired, but happy. She looked at us with a sense of accomplishment in her eyes. The satyr mostly let her be, but I saw how he kept a close eye on her movements. He probably was worried for her as she'd given a lot of herself. Even though she probably had been incredibly weakened in the castle. In a flash I wondered if he was in love with her. I realized I knew nothing of love and forest creatures besides the odd story of a human falling in love with a nymph.
And with dryads being bound with a tree, would a new dryad simply be born with a new tree?
It probably wasn't that simple. But it was a question worth asking. Of course it wasn't relevant right now, but I'd love to do some research into it. Although... If I knew, then it wouldn't be long before others would. Which would mean that they'd probably use that information to get rid of dryads rather than get to know them.
"Thank you." Deirdre thanked her with a smile.
"We have to vanish." The satyr mostly said this to the girl, not to us.
The girl just nodded and turned to us. "Goodbye sun and moon."
They turned and headed for the forest. It wasn't long before they just disappeared. I suddenly wondered if they used charm to stay more hidden. They probably did. I turned back to Deirdre who was deep in thought. I had no idea what to do now. There wouldn't be much traces at the house itself and it was rather depressing to stay here.
"What now?" It was the simplest question.
Deirdre smiled with a sneaky gleam in her eyes. "Follow me."
She walked to the horses, unfastened her own and got on it. She waited for me to get on mine and put the horse in a quick trot to the forest. It wasn't back to the path or after the dryad and satyr but rather a small path between the trees that led deeper into the green. Deirdre stayed ahead, not that there was enough room to ride next to each other here anyway. In fact, branches were rather low and had a tendency to hit you in the face if you weren't careful.
It was a good ten minutes ride through the forest, but Deirdre obviously knew where she was going. The path was hardly more than a rabbit trail now. It wasn't even particularly visible. Still, we pressed on until Deirdre finally stopped. She got off her horse and looked back to see if I did the same. As soon as I got off she smiled and walked onwards.
As we got through the thicker foliage we ended up...
It was a little glade, moss and grass covering the ground. On three sides it was all trees and bushes surrounding it, the opposite side being rocks. This was a place that would probably only be found if you knew exactly where you were heading. Invisible to the outside world. From the rocks, somehow, flowed a nice small waterfall into a sort of pond. Around the pond was a lot of reeds except on the opposite side of the rocks, where there was a slightly sandy area. Light grey sand. The waterfall was two meter above the surface and looked like nothing but spray near the surface. It was the middle of the afternoon now and the sun made the whole thing look almost magical.
While I was taking all this natural beauty in, Deirdre had undone the horse, letting it roam free, and undressed herself. I was just standing there, completely dumbfounded. Deirdre giggled at me as she walked to the water.
"Are you waiting for something?" Her voice was warm... Very warm.
"Eh.. I..." I didn't know what to say. Deirdre just ignored me and walked into the pond.
Feeling stupid, I let the horse loose after removing the reins. My horse just walked calmly to Deirdre's and started grazing next to it. They just let us be at peace. After what the dryad said I couldn't tie them down now. I undressed, putting my clothes close to the pile that Deirdre left. I only barely noticed that she'd folded them as well. I felt stupid for not even noticing it while she was busy.
A little insecure I walked naked to the water. This was a beautiful place. And obviously Deirdre knew about this very well. Was this one of her secret places? A place where she came to be left alone by the world?
"Yes." Deirdre spoke softly, all but her head under water.
A little guiltily I looked at her. "What?"
She giggled. "Yes, this is my secret place. No one else has ever been here that I know of. That's what you were thinking, wasn't it?"
I nodded. It was quite the compliment. "Thank you."
She giggled again. "If you don't come in the water this instant, Taran. I'm going to drag you in."
Laughing I was tempted to stay out of the water, just to see her drag me in. But, considering her fighting prowess, I'd rather not try it out. Besides, I was longing for a bath anyway. The water was pleasantly cool and quite clear. Even though Deirdre was mostly under water. I could see her beautiful body through the water. The sun shone down upon us, giving us light and clarity.
I was surprised to find that the ground was mostly rocks and sand instead of the expected mush of plants and mud. It was also quite deep in places, especially around the waterfall. Though the water wasn't big enough to really swim lengths, it was definitely nice and big. And diving deep was quite the treat as well. Because under water there was the low rushing sound of the waterfall breaking the surface. And though the waterfall was a little thicker than I expected, it was quite lovely to stand under it for a while.
Even if it was a little painful.
I got out from underneath the waterfall to find Deirdre smiling. She motioned me to get closer.