As they went farther into the woods, Eriana began to hear the splashing of a stream. When they reached the bank, they dryads stopped. They bent down to the water and Eriana saw two heads come up out of the river. There were two girls, covered in scales before her. She realized they were Water-women or Naiads. Yet another thing that she had never thought she would see anywhere outside of books. The dryads’ voices were the sounds of the wind through leaves, and the naiads had voices of water flowing over flat stones. They talked for a minute, perhaps two, and then the first dryad turned to Eriana.
“Lay down on your back with your hair in the water.” Her voice reminded Eriana of the swish of leaves in a gentle wind.
Just before Eriana lay down, she saw the two eyes pop up again from the water. She knelt down and laid down as she had been instructed. She started to get nervous again, especially when she felt the first tug on her hair, but then she relaxed. The water nymph was washing her hair for her. When she had fully relaxed, she sunk into a trance-like state. It was very comforting. It seemed too soon when the first dryad was shaking her awake. She shook her head, got up, and followed the dryads to a very big maple tree.
The second dryad handed Eriana a bundle of leaves and tied with a thin vine like a ribbon. “Go on, open it!” she encouraged.
Eriana did as she was told, and the leaves fell away to reveal a beautiful dress that was emerald green with darker green trim and embroidery. There were patterns of vines, trees and flowers along the sleeves, the hem of the skirt, and the neckline. As she unfolded the dress, she noticed another lighter, dress folded inside. She knew enough about medieval dresses to know that this was called a shift, and was worn underneath a dress. It was the colour of fresh cream, and matched the green very well. The two colours together accented her green eyes, and pale skin. The dryads took her behind the maple tree and helped to get everything on and properly sorted. Then they called to a team of the tiny purple fairies to help with Eriana’s hair. They braided and curled. They used tiny pieces of vine to tie up her hair so that it was out of her face. Then they led her back to the stream. Only this time, no eyes popped up - the nymphs had left, instead the water was now as bright, clear and smooth as glass. Eriana looked over the edge, and found that the stream could now be used as a mirror. She looked farther over and gasped. The dryads, with the help of those tiny fairies had transformed her. She had always thought that her hair was a pain, somewhere between really curly and wavy, and she could never get it to lie down flat. Yet somehow her hair looked even curlier and wavier now; it was in a loose bun at the back of her head, with soft curls framing her face. She didn’t know how they had managed to do what they did, but she liked it.
Eriana moved closer to the edge of the stream, wanting to get a closer look. She had moved too close to the edge, and the bank gave way, but just before she hit the water, the dryads caught her in their branch-like arms. That was a close one! In her foolishness she had nearly ruined all of the hard work that had been lavished upon her.
Then they led her back to the border of the clearing where she supposed that Evander would be waiting. She wondered when she would get to meet his brother. Eriana walked behind the dryads caught in her own thoughts of all that had happened to her so far. She couldn’t believe it, yet it seemed so real.
The dryads stopped before they reached the clearing. “We cannot leave the forest. You do not have a far walk Lady, but you must walk alone this time.” They told her in unison.
“Thank you so much for all of this” Eriana gushed. What could she say to show her gratitude?
“Well we couldn’t let you walk into the biggest elvish city in this world looking the way you did.” The first dryad said with a smile. “Now go. He’s waiting” The dryads gave each other a knowing smile that went unnoticed by Eriana.