The Dryad 74 Nettles

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"What are we going to do now?" Emily asked as I plopped down on the steps of the magic a.s.sociation. The guards quickly saw that we came out of the building and started heading towards us. The concern was evident on their faces at seeing me in a nearly collapsed position. I limply waved my hand at them, indicating that I was fine. I was not sure if they understood, but they did not approach any further. Instead, they stood several feet away at the ready.

"All I can think of is trying to find anything we can in the next six days. If we have not found him yet, we come back here," I said in a voice as devoid of energy as the man inside the a.s.sociation. "Let's hope someone else is at the desk when we come back," I mumbled. How was I to know if Faun had six days left? I would not even be able to last six days if I stayed in the city. Living only on my energy reserves was hard. I felt crippled. I slumped down on my step, noticing the Patrolman scratching at the red patch of skin on his neck again. I closed my eyes and just sat there.

"Are you alright?" Leafia asked.

"Frustrated." I said, and then after a pause added, "And drained."

"How about we go back and rest?" she suggested.

"We need to keep looking for him," I protested weakly. "We will not find her if all we do is sit around and wait." My despair was growing. "I have no idea if she even has six more days. I can't get the thought out of my head that we get to her too late and watch as her body dissolves into nothingness."

"I will take you back while the others keep looking," Istan said, forcing his way into the conversation.

This really did sound like a tempting idea to me. I felt worn out, barely keeping the tears from rolling down my face. The frustration at not being able to find Faun was eating at me. Since finding Faun did not seem like it had any chance of happening, I wanted to give in and just rest in the winter garden.

Leafia sat beside me, and in a quiet voice asked, "Will you be alright if I go to look around more?" I saw her eyes were filled with indecision, and it was not hard for me to figure out why. She really wanted to see the festival more, but wanted to be with me if I needed her.

"I will be fine for a few hours. Just keep me company tonight," I said, trying my best to smile. This again for some reason earned me a blush from her. One of these days I should ask her why she blushes so much around me, but I knew that now was not the time with all these other ears present. So all I could do was to press on in the conversation. "You may never get a chance like this again, so enjoy it."

I had made up my mind and there was no point in staying around here any longer. I stood up and waved the guards over. They gave a small salute after they approached. "Istan and I will be heading back to Lillian's home while my companions will continue their search."


The two guards looked at each other for a minute, then the one with the nettle aversion said, "I will follow you home while he will accompany your companions."

After I said goodbye to the others, we started on our way back to Lillian's home. However, just as I was about to plunge into the crowd once more the Patrolman spoke up, "Madam, if you just want to get to Lady Brightmoor's home I would suggest going by some side streets. With the square being this crowded it will be faster to go a different way."

"Please show me the way. I was not enjoying the thought of fighting my way through again." The guard led us behind the magic a.s.sociation and onto a comparatively quiet side street that seemed to circle around the square.

Once we were away from all the noise, the guard stated, "You said earlier that you and your companions were looking for something. If you are willing to tell us what you are seeking, the Patrol might be able to help you."

I don't know why I gave Istan a quick look to see if he agreed with telling him. Maybe it was because of all the times I got 'scolded' for revealing more information than he thought was pertinent. I guess he thought that this was me indicating that I did not feel like speaking since Istan said, "We are searching for a magician named Maximus. Our friend is in critical need of a medicine he developed."

"I have never heard of a magician named Maximus, but I only know a few of the most important. I will ask around with those who might know more." I was a little disappointed that he had not heard of Maximus. But I should not have been expecting anything with the way things have been going so far.

Not wanting to wallow more than was needed, I sought to distract myself more. "You seemed to be rather frightened by the thought of stinging nettle earlier. Do you mind if I ask why?" I said to the Patrolman.
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He seemed a little hesitant to tell me, reaching up and scratching at that red spot again as he considered. After a moment gave in. "When I was a boy. I took a trip to the woods with a few friends. While we were walking, I fell off a small cliff into what turned out to be a patch of nettles. I tried to climb back up to get away from the stings. But it was too steep and I kept falling back into the nettles. My friends couldn't reach me, either. Eventually my only choice was to walk through the nettles to make my way out." He s.h.i.+vered telling me about it. "It was the worst experience of my life. I had to walk all the way back to my village in horrible pain." I noticed him scratching at that patch on his neck again, almost as if his story had made it itch worse.

"You know," I said, "Stinging nettle isn't only good at stinging. Take this, for example," I crafted a small envelope in my pocket again, and pulled it out. "Within this packet, you will find a cream that should help your itchy skin. Give it a try?"

He looked skeptical. "Does it have nettle in it?"

"Oh, yes," I continued, "But only the good kind. The stings have all been removed. This ointment should be able to ease that itch you have on your neck." He hesitated. But then, after a moment, he accepted the envelope. "Just rub a little on the itchy patch," I told him. He hesitantly stuck his finger in the envelope. As he did so it could see a shocked face as the cool cream did not hurt his finger. With a little less reluctance he applied some on the back of his neck. His relieved face was so intense I laughed out loud, which seemed to startle Istan.

The conversation with the Patrolman seemed to help me keep my emotions under control. The trip home was much shorter with his guidance than our trip out was, or at least it felt that way to me. Once we reached the estate the guard saw us off by saying, "If you ever need anything while you are in the city just search for a Patrol member. They will be sure to help you if you tell them you are a friend of Lady Brightmoor." I really needed to figure out why all these powerful people would treat her with so much respect but an apothecary was unwilling to help her.

I was glad that the guards at the gate seemed to recognize us since they let us in without any questions. After we pa.s.sed through the gate, I said to Istan, "I am going to go rest in the garden. Can you please let them know that we have returned?" I did not bother waiting for his response.That perfect corner of the winter garden was the only thought on my mind.

The Dryad 74 Nettles

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The Dryad 74 Nettles summary

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