New Year of Trees
by Sam James
Willow opened her eyes. This was far from the first time she had recovered consciousness in a converted warehouse and she knew all the signs - a big open space, an alarming lack of décor, busy minions not looking at her in the eyes, a leering face inches from her own, oh, wait, that was not part of the usual checklist...
"Ah, the last of them has awakened," the tall man chuckled.
Willow looked around. She was in a giant tube with wires tangled around her feet leading out of the tube, like she was the electric filament in a light bulb. Tara and the dryads were in similar devices, Tara in the tube next to hers. All of the wires converged into a metal hat suspended above a chair. As a result of her hacking experience and years of solving strange puzzles for the Scoobies, Willow immediately determined the device's sinister purpose.
"It's some sort of power drainer," Willow said, her shock making her voice her thoughts. She shook her head to try to clear it. Something was making it hard to think. "Tara, we have to get out now before he sits in that chair and activates the device."
The man looked at her. "Very clever. You're the only dryad to have figured this out on her own. I had to explain it to the others here. What is your name?"
"I'm Willow Rosenberg, and that may be because I'm no dryad. You've made a big mistake mister."
"Wwwwillow." Tara stuttered, or was it a chatter?
"I think not," the man replied. "Willow, Roses, two plant names. A pairing. Magical power. It all adds up to Dryad. Moreover, anyone more conversant in American civilization than a Dryad with her head stuck in her trees would know not to take a Jewish name with hair as red as your own."
"Hey, you... you... big meanie," Willow said. "Kidnapping me and my girl and locking us up in these... these rather cold tubes is one thing. But insulting my religion is quite another!"
The man just laughed. "A Jewish Dryad? How unconventional! Still in a few moments, it will all be over. I'm draining your energies to power the device and soon to power me. Already, you may have noticed it is too cold for you to use your plant magic. Just like your trees, Dryads shut down in the cold."
He gestured with his hand and Porter made last-minute adjustments to the device." Three other men tightened connections, glanced at meters, and checked the system's functioning levels.
The man sat down in his chair. "Soon, your power will be mine and you, however, will all be dead. But rest assured that I'll put this power to more profitable ends than merely protecting a bunch of overgrown plants." The man pulled the silver metal helmet over his head.
Automatically, seeking the bond from months of working magics, Willow's hand reached out to Tara, but was stopped by the glass of her tube. Tara was similarly frustrated as the two hands were now separated by two sheets of glass and a few inches of air.
Observing their movement, Porter laughed. "Awww, ain't this cute. Dryad dykes in love." But then he looked at the instruments in shock. The Dryads should have been completely in winter hibernation, unable to move. Unless... unless that girl's claim was right. Unless they were not dryads but something else. Something perhaps, stronger.
On hearing Porter's words, Willow became even more angry. Her hand began to glow, as did Tara's in response, heating up the glass between them until, with holes burned in both the glass tubes, the two witches clasped hands.
"Sh!t," Porter cursed and moved to shut down the machine. But it was already too late. Sparks from the tubes that imprisoned Tara and Willow already traveled up the wires and into the tall man wearing the helmet.
"Too... much... power..." he said before shaking uncontrollably for an instant and then ceasing to move, barely breathing.
"Burst!" came the combined voice of Willow and Tara, focusing the union of their energies on all the glass tubes which instantly shattered. All the dryads fell to earth, Willow and Tara floated gently down to the ground. Porter and the other men in the warehouse looked at the witches and dryads in disbelief for a moment and then began to run. But it was too late. The dryads had woken. The revenge of the trees was at hand.
Vines quickly covered the warehouse trapping the men's feet. They yelped and pulled, but were unable to untangle themselves. A apple tree grew to adult size in seconds and began pelting the men with apples. Ivy climbed up their bodies and circled their necks.
"Don't kill the people," Tara cried. Willow was silent but turned their powers on the machine. "Dismantlis mechina" she cried, pointing her index finger at the machine. Rust quickly grew on the remaining metal parts, causing them to dissolve into red flakes. The tall man fell to floor, still unmoving.
"Don't kill them?" Sunny said, in shock. "They willingly served one who would destroy us all and with us our trees. One who would take our magic, given us to protect our trees and use it for his selfish purposes!"
"Wwwe freed you," Tara said, making her voice formal. "Magic demands a favor for a favor and in magic's name I ask you to let these men be. Punish them yes, but it would be wrong to take their lives."
Sunny looked at her band of dryads. They looked rebellious but at her glare nodded.
"It will be done, Earth Made of Clay," Sunny said. "And you and Willow of the Roses will be declared honorary dryads. Your story will be preserved in the rings of our trees for as long as the sun shines and rain falls."
Willow thanked the dryads and knelt down to examine the tall man who had tried to seize their power. "It was too much for him," she stated. "I guess the machine was set for dryady power and not our witchy ways." The dryads collected him too and loaded all the men onto a truck which one of the dryads said she could drive.
"What will you do with them?" Tara asked.
"They wanted to share in our tree magic," Robin giggled. "It is only right that their punishment be to give them what they wanted.
"We'll imprison them in the trunks of untenanted trees." Violet explained. "The trees will judge them and let them go free when they no longer try to justify what they have done."
"That sounds fair," Willow said. Tara still seemed skeptical, wondering if the men should be turned over to human justice but Willow pointed out that they had committed their crimes against the Dryads, so it was only fair that the Dryads should be the ones to punish them.
As the two human lovers watched the truck with the tree spirits leave, Willow reached into her pocket, pulled out a handful of dates and figs, and offered them to Tara. "It is still Tu B'Shevat after all."
Tara giggled. "I'm sorry for being so skeptical earlier." Willow shot her a puzzled look. "Anything powerful enough to do that..." she pointed at the destroyed warehouse, "and provide us with air to breathe, food to eat, and wood for our buildings, certainly rates its own holiday."
She paused and then added, "Happy Tu B'Shevat Willow!"The EndIf you liked this one I have stories from several other Jewish holidays on this site and my site at http://www.fortunecity.com/tattooine/gargoyle/31/index.htm