New Year of Trees
by Sam James
Chapter Two: Sprouting
DISCLAIMER: Buffy, Willow, Warren, Giles, Xander, Lilah Morgan, Wolfram and Hart, Anya, and the general mythos belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. WB and UPN just rent them. I claim no ownership of anything other than the plot.
"You're dryads?" Willow said in astonishment.
Tara unfocused her eyes as she did to look deeply into people's auras. The four girls claiming to be dryads all had the same leafy green aspect to them. "I think they are," she breathed to Willow. "Spirits of the trees?"
"You mean you aren't!?!" Violet exclaimed.
The four locked eyes together and then Sunny raised her hand so that the palm faced Willow and Tara "By the power of the Lethe plant, we command you to forget..." she began to chant.
Willow quickly clasped hands with Tara and the two said in unison "Shield!"
A green glowing globe shot out from Sunny's hand toward Tara and Willow only to be absorbed by a dense orange that suddenly surrounded the duo.
The four dryads were, if anything, more astonished.
"Who are you? What are you?" Sunny asked. "You're not ordinary girls."
"And you are?" Willow couldn't resist shooting back but Tara shyly answered, "We're witches. Well student Wicca anyway."
"That explains the magical feel," Daisy said.
"And we weren't expecting any other magical beings..." Robin said.
"And they're obviously a twosome," said Violet.
"So naturally we assumed..." Sunny began but was interrupted by Willow.
"Hey, wait a minute. What was that about a twosome!" Willow protested.
Sunny looked at her. "Your studies have taught you little of dryads."
Willow shook her head but Tara said, "I know they're nature spirits who live in trees to protect them."
"Yes," replied Sunny. "And we're all female. So we pair up for close companionship, as the two of you have."
Willow giggled, "Dyads of dryads." Everyone looked at her strangely. "So I'm a math geek," she explained. The strange looks continued. 'Great,' thought Willow. 'The mythological creatures think *I'm* strange.'
Sensing Willow's discomfort, but mistaking its cause, Tara flushed red but said hesitantly, "That explains why you thought we were dryads, but what are you doing at a protest rally of all places!?!"
Sunny pointed to the trees of Festil Forrest. "It is our role to save the trees," she pointed out. "In years past that meant frightening away settlers and lumberjacks."
Robin giggled. "Remember the big one? The one with the great big blue," she paused. "Ox."
Ignoring the interruption, Sunny continued. "We caused mapmakers would lose their way, guided pioneers away from our forest, and, when all else failed, caused men to repay our favors with favors."
Willow looked confused. "They seduced men to persuade them to leave their trees alone," Tara explained. Sometimes, Willow could still be the innocent one.
Just then a man wearing the yellow T-shirt of the rally organizers approached them.
"Have you been assigned a position?" The girls shook their heads. "Follow me then," he started walking, motioning with his hand in the universal "follow" signal.
"Now in an age of airplanes and satellites what we can do is more limited," Sunny continued softly so the man could not hear. "Machines aren't affected by earth magic. We're reduced to more human tactics."
"Many of the big nature groups are run by dryads," Violet confessed. "We've joined with other nature spirits to protect the whole environment, not just trees. It's amazing how humans don't seem to care about how trees purify the air they breathe, the water they drink."
"That's not true. I was just telling Tara how we Jews have a whole holiday dedicated to trees. We collect money to plant trees in Israel, eat the fruit of the trees, and recite verses from the Torah, our holy book, about trees."
"Yes, but," Robin started but Willow continued.
"In fact, one of our famous Rabbis said that if you are planting a tree when the Messiah comes, you should finish planting the tree before rising to greet the Messiah."
"Maybe so, but few people are like that today," Violet protested. "Trees are torn up for toilet paper. Trees die for the millions of copies of newspapers are discarded each day even though better paperless alternatives exist. And few places do any recycling of paper."
"Um," Tara said. "Not to interrupt or anything but where are we?" The six had been so engrossed in the argument that they had paid little attention to where the their leader took them. Now they looked up and noticed they were in an isolated spot not near the other protesters.
"Ah, excuse me," Sunny asked. "Where are we going."
The man smiled and raised his hand. "It's a surprise!" He quickly turned around and put a handkerchief covering his nose and mouth.
As if the word 'surprise' was a signal, a bright light burst on them. A sweet odor surrounded them that tasted of flowers. Within moments, all the girls were unconscious.
The man removed his handkerchief and reached in his pocket for his cell-phone. "Mission accomplished, boss." He smiled. "Six tree fairies ready for pick-up."