“Heather? Where are you? The Council is calling a meeting and needs all of the leaders there,” says my friend, Orchid. When her plant was born and her spirit bestowed upon that plant, the Council was not very creative in naming her.
Orchid walks up to the balcony where I’m sitting in a small swing, looking west, toward where Martin is.
She reaches out and puts her hand on my shoulder, jerking me out of my thoughts. “Heather, the Council is meeting,” she repeats softly.
I stand and shrug her hand off. “And why do they need me? I’m the youngest Council member there is, I’m not of much help to them. And besides, what does it matter to me if Willow’s trees are having a good growing season or not? Things were better when each tribe took care of their own matters, this Council only messes things up and magnifies each tribe’s problems.”
“Heather, you mustn’t speak like that. Tis counted as treason.”
I laugh harshly. “Orchid, the Council counts a dryad sneezing at the wrong time over the wrong plant as treason because it could make the plant sick, even though we know that’s not possible. I promise you, things were much better when each tribe only had to answer to one ruler, not a Council.”
“But you were not alive yet at that time, you did not know what things were like back then.”
“But my parents were, Orchid. And based on what I’ve seen the Council do, I believe them.”
Orchid sighs and grabs my hand, dragging me back inside. “Heather, this is still about that human boy, isn’t it? You know that a union between two kinds like ours is not possible. ‘Twould only result in disaster,” she says, thinking of her own parents.
“I would’ve thought that you of all would understand this, Orchid.”
Orchid laughs. “’Would’ve?’ What a strange word, Heather. Is it something you picked up while living with the humans?”
I refuse to answer her and allow her to lead me to the clearing where the Council is meeting.
“Thank you for bringing Council Head Heather to us, Orchid. You are dismissed,” says the heavy voice of Malachite, the Council head of the north-east.
Orchid curtsies and fades into the shadows.
Viridian, Malachite’s Queen and consort is the first to speak directly to me. “Council Head Heather, during your absence, the Council has been discussing many things, namely you and your time among the humans. We would like a full account of what happened while you were there.”
I shake my head. “What happened while I was with the humans is none of the Council’s concern. They are no threat to us, at least not directly. And anything I know will not help you here.”
Chartreuse, the Council head of the south-east shakes his head, his silver-green hair catching the sunlight. “This is not a request, Heather, but a demand. You will tell us of what happened while you were with the humans. You have changed much in your absence, and the Council all wonders if this change shall affect your behavior. We are not willing to risk the chance that you become too like the humans and eventually a threat to our way of life. You will tell us all that happened during your time with them or suffer the consequences.”
“And what would those consequences be?” I ask as I look around the Council, thinking of the last time I was standing before them, after they took Martin away from me.
Jade, the oldest member of the Council, and the Council head of the south answers my question. “We would suspend your duties as a member of the Council and put you on house arrest until you complied. It is rather simple, Heather. Just tell us what we wish to know and you can resume your normal life without the blight of living amongst the humans marring it.”
I shake my head. “I refuse to grant your request. I couldn’t care less about the Council, and as for house arrest, it doesn’t bother me. At least there I’d be able to think and get away from all of you and your rules and traditions.”
I feel a small bit of satisfaction at seeing all of the eyes ranging from green to brown widen in shock at what I’ve said.
“Are you sure of your decision, Heather?” asks Beryl, the Council head of the north.
I nod. “Nothing you can do will make me change my mind.”
Cosmo, Beryl’s twin brother looks around at the other Council members before returning his gaze to me. “Then it is settled. Heather, you are no longer part of the Council of Dryads and are under house arrest until you wish to comply with our order. You are dismissed.”
Partially relieved at my sentence, I turn and walk back to my house, where Orchid is waiting at my front door.
She quickly stands up when she sees me and gives me a hug. “Heather, I’m so sorry. I wish I could’ve told you what they were going to do, but Indigo wouldn’t let me.”
“It’s fine, I don’t blame you. I actually don’t mind the sentence. And since when do you and Indigo talk? I thought you hated him.”
Orchid lets go and smiles. “Well, while you were gone, Indigo and I started talking, and he’s really not that bad, and he’s sweet and I think he has feelings for me.”
I force a smile for her. “I’m happy for you, Orchid.” At least one of us gets to be with someone who cares.
“Thank you, Heather!”
We turn around and see the Council member of our discussion, Indigo, head of the west, also one of the youngest members of the Council. Well, now without me, he is the youngest.
Indigo holds out a scroll made of giant leaves sewn together “Orchid, the Council wants you to be one of Heather’s…keepers while she is one house arrest.”
“House arrest? That makes her sound like a criminal,” she says as she takes the scroll from his hands.
I swear her face turns as red as a blood-rose when their hands touch.
Indigo turns to me, the same look I’ve been getting ever since the Council made me return in his eyes. How could you live with the humans?