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A dryad wakes to the sound of an ancient rhyme ringing in her ears. She listens to her dryad mother and her oak father speak words of wisdom to help her begin her life. She is destined to be the new heart of the forest, but only if she can endure the trial that will ensure she is indeed their chosen one, a strong heart in spirit and body to look after the forest for centuries to come.

As she hatches, she grows and touches the forest floor where the earth that nourishes her tries to draw her down to itself, so it can feed. To resist to earth’s pull she must be strong, to join with her beloved soul tree that has waited for her three hundred years. He has become a legend in the forest and they have hidden her faithful mate so well it is nearly impossible for her to hear him or find him.

She is so brand new, she gets lost in the discovery of her self in a stream, in the sounds of her new forest home, in talking to other young oaks who wish she was destined to be theirs. She wanders aimlessly, wanting to know all about her home, forgetting that she only has twenty four hours to join with her mate or she will crumble back to the dust of the earth. But time passes more quickly than she realizes and she suddenly remembers she was birthed in the dawn; with the new dawn, her life will pass.

She learns new thoughts, of jealousy and pride, and love and comfort and most of all; she learns fear and self doubt. Hard lessons for a new dryad barely hatched who wants to live so desperately but even the forest itself will not help her. The earth waylays her and deceives her, knowing before long, she will return to him and the forest will wither and die. All things in the end return to the voracious earth. He tries everything to stop her from joining with her soul tree.

Her oak calls and calls, but she is growing weaker, forgetting how to listen, until an ancient dryad loves the strength back into her body. Renewed but dying, she seeks him once more, knowing that she only has a few hours to bond with her mate. But she is so tired and her body has begun to crack and break apart. She is keeping herself upright by will power alone, forgetting even the reason why she is still following a sound she can no longer hear with her ears, but only with her heart.

She longs to rest, for sleep will help, but to sleep on the earth would mean never waking again and she refuses to give up her life so willingly. Dawn is coming; she can feel her life force weakening. Soon, she will be gone. She has no tears to weep for she is empty and dry and no voice to call as her throat is full of dust. But still the dryad staggers on, no longer sure why, while the hungry earth calls her, promising blissful, fatal sleep.

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