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The Ancients were arrayed around him in a circle, and within that one rank of druids sitting at the compass points and with yet that the strongest druids on Kaltyrianr’s council accompanied the Arch Druid himself. At the center, sitting on the heart wood with a sleeveless tunic and knee-length breeches sat Glyph with his eyes closed.

They’d settled on such an arrangement so as to lessen the strain on any one individual and to pool resources to sound the depths of Teldrassil – this time fully and properly. Glyph would be their focus and their direction. He’d discovered the power of a focused communion in his education at the hands of the Ancients… such a gathering would be sure to effect positive change over the coming days. Or weeks. No one was quite sure how long it would take or what, exactly, was wrong. All Forest knew was there was a tangle of mana that was killing the tree and its forests.

Inhaling deeply, Glyph relaxed his shoulders and slowed his breathing, letting his own power wash over the limited area he could currently manage. When he had found the limit, he spoke quietly, “Begin when you are ready.”

Around him, the creak of Ancients’ arms heralded the summoning of druidic magic as before and the green lines of life magic arched through the massive treants before striking out from each of the creatures like the spokes of a wheel. Again the lines of light converged on Glyph. He grunted and grit his teeth as he pulled the raw energy around and used it to buffer his own power, fighting the desire to fall into trance and drift on the greenness of the spells.

Heartbeats drew into minutes as he acclimatized himself to the surge of power, shoulders already tensed. When he lifted a hand the secondary circle of druids cast their magics in emerald and amethyst lines of power that arched around and converged as well on Glyph. He could feel the doubt in a few of the druids, and the fear that they’d inadvertently burn their so-called savior out before they accomplished anything.

Huffing, he caught the powers and the threads of belief that linked the druids to himself more easily then the raw strength of the Ancient’s focused talents. A halo of spellight had settled around Forest then, scintillating with colours of the forest – deep emeralds, flashes of neon greens, red, brow… the slice of blue and p***k of death hues. At length, the tumult suddenly burst outward in a nova of light as the spells aligned and Glyph let go.

It was like being slingshot out. The power they’d raised pulled his awareness out of his body and submersed it in the energies of the tree, setting everything in an almost dream-like quality and he wondered if this was something like the sleeping Illisia had mentioned. Dizzied and dazzled by the flashes of light and colour and thrum of life unbridled around him, Glyph spent precious moments reorienting himself – moments he was aware would drain and exhaust those present. He would not deny he felt good, stronger and bolstered by the threads of prayer and belief even know he could feel through the communal connection those in the Heart Chamber shared.

When finally he felt comfortable, he let his success whisper across the lines of power and followed their focus of attention down. At first he didn’t see or sense anything but then… a choking sensation ripped through him and rippled up to shock those he was connected to. Jerking, his body covered in sweat and a look of intense concentration upon his face, Glyph probed the choked parts and found dead spots… scars left unhealed in both tissue and mana that unbalanced the entirety of the tree. It was not one simple injury but a myriad of problems entangled and snared in each other. Teldrassil had weathered the storms like a lightning rod, sheltering those who depended on it while suffering incredible, mostly invisible damage. And it was damage what wouldn’t respond to the druidic arts for some reason, were set too deeply into the essence of the tree to be reached.

He realized then that the druids would have watched their World Tree die had he and Illisia not come. The tree had slipped into a near coma and was fast slipping away.

His revelation sparked and echoed along his connection, disrupting the flow as the first of the druids began to quake with the effort. Glyph’s own body was pale and shuddering as the network began to break down, their query answered fully. Those wounds would take his touch to mend and the mana could be guided. Once the cycle of energy was restored, the druids’ effort should start to make a difference and ease the strain on him. This, and a plan for the future, was passed among the connected minds and agreement quickly attained.

When he woke, the chamber was awash in soft green light and it took a moment for him to realize he was the source, still buzzing and crackling with the residual energies the Ancients had not been able to guide away. Around him, a score of druids were passed out and more then a few Ancients had taken a knee to rest. His legs and arms felt as rubber and he dared not rise. “H-How long?” He queried to the room at large.

“The better part of a day, sir.” One of the still-conscious druids answered, her voice husky from strain.

“Oh…” He felt faint then and moved to get up against his better judgement. The world spun crazily and suddenly went black as he passed into unconsciousness as well.

Someone along the edge gave a nervous laugh, “If he ends up like that each time… this is going to take a while. “

“Shush.” Another chastised the speaker, “That was more information then we’d gathered in months. I believe even if you don’t.”

By then the honour guard had started to cart the sleepers back up and into prepared areas. Glyph was treated like the other druids, presided over by Kaltyrian and deposited into the care of Illisia.

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After the first burst of work and the subsequent week of recovery for nearly every druid involved in the initial exploration, work had gotten under way. Glyph knew his boundaries, and those of his newest followers on a rather intimate level and had promised not to cause an order-wide plague of fatigue again. Work teams consisting of druids and Ancients had been organized into shifts that Glyph worked with each day, they rotated every half day to keep the casters fresh and to give Glyph a chance to rest.

The pace had proven too blisteringly fast again and they’d been forced to spread the shifts out more for Glyph’s sake. He’d passed out a few more times in those initial days, though he had not been drained nearly as much from the effort.

Fiddling with the balance of power and quickly adapting to the focus of the druids, Glyph found himself relying more and more heavily on the faith Illisia was stirring up. Their words of encouragement and the strength of will their belief leant him were like salves on a burn, enabling him to push forward. A balance was struck between exhaustive work and absolute rest, with the project of the word tree taking up nearly all his waking time. Even Illisia saw little of Forest as he sought to encourage the World Tree to grow with a fierce determination.

He learned much of the druidic arts in his hours of communion, and little by little the first of the knots had begun to come undone.

And when the first snarl of scars and mana suddenly unraveled into proper alignment, it left every member of the current group starstruck by a burst of life that surged up through the trunk. Glyph had fallen back with a cry of triumph and pain as magical whiplash struck him a sound blow. The better part of the day had been spent recovering from that.

“Here’s some water, Lord. Will that help?” An apprentice offered a water skin to the god as he perched on a log with an icepack pressed his forehead. He had a headache and had been lost in thought when her voice cut through, bringing him out of his reverie.

He regarded her a moment then smiled and gratefully took the waterskin, ”Thank you. But call me Glyph. Or Forest. You should not worry about titles, hm?” He winked and leaned in,
”After all, we’re friends right?”
He was spending so much time with the Night Elves that he was accumulating a decent vocabulary and the rudimentary basics were enough for him to make the ever curious children smile. Most didn’t know common but found his broken Darnassian most entertaining.

More then one had brought a favourite ailing plant to his attention – a withered flower pot or a brown decorative tree – and he’d taken the time to attend to each. They’d run off shouting boasts of god gifts and left him with a profound sense of peace. Gone were the uncertain looks and suspicious comments… everyone welcomed him and he never wanted for food or company.

”We’re friends?” The girl asked, perking as though she hadn’t thought of that.

”Why yes. Friends. How do you do?” Glyph replied with a grin.

”G-good. Sir. I’m Jiraiya, Glyph.” She stammered at first but she quickly warmed up to the disarming smile and hugged him before she printed off to tell her friends the strange man with the horn was her friend.

He waved as she disappeared and turned back to his thoughts. The unsnarling of the knot had been unexpected in its swiftness and it left him wondering if that would be the case with the mission as a whole. It made sense… the tree was trying to draw sustenance and power up by the wounds were blocking it. While he might not know the specifics of the tree’s functions yet, it had become clear there was pressure there and he didn’t want to endanger his comrades in the process of working.

What then…

Glyph shifted on his log and tilted the waterskin, drinking greedily for a moment before tapping the cap back on. Cap. He grinned as he regarded the waterskin with newfound respect. They’d have to ensure to leave a enough of the knots to stem the flow until they were done and then pull that final thread to restore balance. That little resistance would also give them more to work with.

Laughing to himself and silently thanking the girl for her inspiration, he padded back towards where the others were beginning the gather. His presence marked the end of the break and he waited patiently as the druids gathered themselves up or finished off their own waterskins.

The decent was familiar by now as Glyph chatted with one of the druids, asking after his health and any insights the man might have. They treated him like a brother now, a special brother, but kin nonetheless and it warmed his heart to know he would have allies here. Perhaps a few might even like to come back with them?

They arrayed themselves in the usual format, with the Ancients on the outside edge and the night elves on the inner circle. It echoed the initial collective effort but on a smaller scale – they were doing less broadscale, energy-intensive work. The circles were joined and the focus cast but they returned not to a lopsided thrum as Glyph had expected but rather a tangle worse then before for their efforts had caused the tree more upset then good.

The discovery had come as a shock to everyone but it explained the strength of the whiplash that had struck them all spiritually blind for a while.

Glyph simply grunted and set about the work, relying on their knowledge and skill and the refreshing waves of thought that the prayers carried to him. Thread by thread the snarl once more began to unravel but Glyph did not finish the task. He wanted to see if his theory would work and so left enough of a mess to only let a trickle of mana to be restored through the once again green channels. The cap held, thankfully, as they turned their attention to the next knot and by the end of the day, two parts of the whole were prepared and healing properly.

An air of excitement hung about the camp that night and into the next day. They were making progress at long last. Slowly, and bit by tiny bit, but it was tangible progress and optimism caused smiles and laughter to spread like wildfire. And Glyph rested well that night, with the sound of revelry a pleasant lullaby.

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The beauty that was the World Tree was much more apparent now then it had been three weeks ago. Many snarls had been worked out and the tree was beginning to shimmer with mana and potential once more. With the progress made, Glyph had been pleasantly surprised to find the tree was waking slowly and beginning to mend itself in addition to the active encouragement of growth he was maintaining. There would be scars, yes, and the tree would never be one-hundred percent again but it was going to be as close as possible to that. With careful tending, he was certain Teldrassil would recover in time – he’d just set the gears in motion.

One particularly gnarled section had absorbed him for most of the session, picking and working at it with a stubbornness a mule might envy. His frustration had grated on the sense of those who balanced him. So when the hand fell across his shoulder and gripped it tightly to bring him out of his reverie, he wasn’t entirely surprised. “The rotation was due an hour ago my friend. Your druids are exhausted.”

Glyph frowned at that and looked around, guilt settling in where minor irritation had flared. Around him tired faces greeted his own and he shook his head, “I’m sorry! Someone should inform me….”

One druid lifted a hand and waved his guilt off, “No halt was called yet because we didn’t want to stop. We’re halfway through, you’ve said… every little bit is another step closer.”

“Still, this is dangerous if we spend too long at it.” Glyph replied, “I don’t want anyone hurt. If you need a break, inform me.” Rising on shaky legs, he took the offered arm for support, “Thank-you. I hadn’t realized how much time had passed. I am sorry.”

The druid simply smiled, “It is alright. You get from us what you give… and you are giving your most for this, Glyph. We are thankful. Come. See the fruits of your labours. Already there is change above.”

Curiosity piqued, Glyph followed his companion out and into the clearing. At first he didn’t see a difference and stood confused for a moment. Was he so sensitized that the subtlties were drowned out? The thought made him shiver. But no… as the thrum of the spellwork eased from him, he felt rather then saw differences. Trees seemed more alive and the sounds of nature more vivid as he padded towards the forest’s boundary.

It was subtle but their work was starting to cause cascades of change… trees had thicker, healthier foliage… the grass seemed untamable – the guards had long since stop bothering to check the wild growth that Glyph now waded through. The scent of sweet fruit caught his attention as his friend showed him a branch of swollen blackberries that had been found that same morning.

All around, the vitality that so depended on Teldrassil was returning, echoed by the braver calls of birdsong and chipmunk chatter.

He hadn’t noticed his comrade’s disappearance until too late, realizing he’d likely gotten lost in the feel and sound of the forest again. It had happened more frequently as of late but he told himself it was just the side effect of constantly using his power. The transition from conscious thought to trance was swift now, easily achieved. And no one had claimed he’d wandered off on them yet so he had little reason to fear.

Returning to the camp to collect a skin of water and drink his fill, Glyph laid sprawl-eagled as he stared up at the empty sky. How was that going, he wondered. Harmodius had said the glass was for the sky… but that seemed like ages ago now. Would the answers there be as straightforward as this thankfully was? Somehow, he doubted that, but a part of him wished that that miracle might be realized before they left, as final proof of gods beyond their knowing.

Only time would tell, he supposed after a moment.

“Glyph!?” A voice cut through his pondering as he sat up, waving a hand that barely crested the grass, “Glyph! Are you well enough to continue? The next shift is assembled and awaiting your presence.”

He stood then and smiled at the young man in charge of collecting the groups, “I am. Let’s go get this done, hrm?”

“Aye! For Darnassus!” The young man cried and ran ahead, stopping every so often to make sure he hadn’t lost Glyph. The gesture amused Forest and was proof enough, and yet again, that these elves were a good people, gentle and noble.

“For Darnassus~” He called and jogged to catch up, clapping the teen on the shoulder. “Thank-you.”

The snarl took nearly a week to unwork, a source of frustration among the druids and Glyph alike. The scarred node had healed by the time the week was up and still the part refused to ease. Had it been hair, one woman had said, it would have been cut. The complaint had left Glyph thinking and he wondered if such a thing were possible.

An audience with the Arch Druid had left him determined not to so, however. The power needed to reorder the tree belonged to ancient beings far removed from this place and time and Glyph knew better then to tamper with things too far beyond his scope.

In the end, the snarl was worked as much as it could be and then pulled the equivalent of ‘tight’ to minimize its disturbance. It was likely to be on scar the tree would bear for decades, if not centuries, to come.

It left a bad taste in Glyph’s mouth but he couldn’t undo and neither could the druids who had offered to try. The knot was stuck and Forest, while loathe to do so, was forced to move on in pursuit of greater victories.

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He woke with a start. Above him, the wooden ceiling seemed to resolve into sharp edges and arches that were, at first, unfamiliar to him. An oppressive warmth weighed on him and he grunted, struggling against the constricting mass about his chest. It was only when he tumbled onto the floor that he realized he’d been dreaming and this room, and it’s heat, was no tangled dreamscape but the infirmary the night elves had set up in their first week of repairs.

Groaning, he disentangled himself from the thick blanket and sat with his back to the bed, feeling sheepish. There was a fire going, its colours gilding the room in golden and orange light that leant a homey feel to the place. He smiled as he found a glass of tea and a few apples sitting on the bedside table, their discovery reminded him of how hungry he was and he pressed a hand to his stomach as it growled.

Reaching, he pondered what had happened this time. He thought he’d gotten the rhythm of the work, things had been going so well...

With an apple in one hand the glass in the other, he padded to the door and found he wasn’t the only one to have slept recently. A handful of elves were arranged on the cots that had been set up in military-like rows, thick pillows cradling heads and a seductive atmosphere of rest tempted him to return to the bed.

“Ah! Master Glyph!” A woman dressed in a priestess’ robes bustled over and he felt a tingle of magic arc through him as she tossed a healing spell or two at the god for good measure, “You’re finally awake. You really should be more careful, Forest, you nearly overdid it that time. I know you and the druids are nearly complete but that’s no reason to rush. Come. Let’s get some proper food into you and give you and update.” She hooked a hand around his elbow and tugged him towards the outer rooms and then out into the clearing.

“There. Halyrion! He’s finally awake! And he needs food.” She called waving as she walked towards the druid who stood near a tree that he was inspecting rather closely, a perplexed expression on his angular features.

“...How long have I been asleep?” Glyph asked, frowning slightly.

“About four days. They did rolling shifts for you because you were so caught up in what you were doing but then you collapsed. Like I said, you really should be more careful, Glyph.” She pushed him lightly towards Halyrion and smiled as she bowed and moved off, pausing only to call over her shoulder, “I’ll go inform Illisia that her suitor’s not dead. You should speak to her, you realize. And take something nice.”

Glyph frowned at that, fidgeting at the chastisement. Her summary had sparked memory and he recalled how wrapped up he had been... and how it had gone dark, his last thought a expression of frustration. Shaking his head, he turned to the druid then and walked around to stand at his shoulder, “What are you looking so intently at?”

Halyrion smiled, “The bark. The sap is running like it’s early spring again but the leaves are full and thick... all over the forest is feeling renewed. Even the soil has seemed better. After so many months of watching things decline despite your best efforts, don’t you think taking a moment to stop and appreciate the recovery is warranted?” Turning he looked the god over, “Our druids are very nearly spent, however, and I do not know how much longer their endurance will hold. Your progress has enabled those on the surface to begin to pull and manipulate the flow of life more effectively but it’s still incredibly difficult. Their efforts and yours are draining. I know you keep this in mind, but this last push resulted in two crews being down for a week, including yourself. It’s not progress if you’re constantly having to recover from exceeding boundaries. We believe in you, isn’t that enough? There’s nothing else to prove.”

He ducked his head and nodded as he listened, “I am sorry. I think we all got a little carried away there. It’s something to taste victory, though, especially I and everyone else has worked so hard towards it. Teldrassil is growing again, recovering on its own and the tangles are starting to sort themselves out. And... I know. I’m not trying to prove anything, Halyrion.” Forest finished his apple and tossed the core in the bushes for the little creatures to pick at, “I was told I would receive an update?”

The druid nodded then, “Ah yes. Mostly to say those posted to monitor the tree report that it hasn’t regressed at all and that the effects are more pronounced all along Darnassus. Many are singing your praises and I’m certain heroes will be made of the druids. Hope is infectious and many are anticipating the announcement of a job well done.” He smiled and patted Glyph on the shoulder, “Keep up the good work my friend but be mindful of your limits, and more importantly, of those of your followers. Not everyone is so easily rejuvenated as you, even we druids can fall.”

Glyph patted the other’s hand and nodded, his expression sombre, “I am glad to hear that. I doubt more then another week or two will be required to finish. The difficult part will be pulling the final tangles linking the forest to the world tree without causing a flood of magic. The whiplash from that had us seeing stars after the first time... I’d rather avoid it. And will not jeopardize your people, Halyrion, don’t worry. I will remember.” The reminder, however, was just what he needed. The surge of power that came with the group effort was something he enjoyed and guilt gnawed at the edge of his mind as he realized he had indeed forgotten the limits of his comrades. It would not happen again, he vowed... they’d been too good to warrant anything less than his best.

“That is good. I’m to feed you as well. The midday meal is just being set out, will that suffice?” Halyrion asked as he started towards a gathering clustered around a long table.

“M-midday?” Glyph groaned as he walked with the druid, laughing, “I am truly sorry. Time has been wasted... I am usually up with what should be the dawn.”

“We know. But you apparently needed four days of slumber to recuperate.” He arched a brow, bemused, “We aren’t just saying being careful to act like mother hens.”

Glyph shook his head, waving as calls of recognition greeted he and Halyrion echoed by plates and cups getting readied from them, “I know, I know. I am thoroughly chastised. It will not happen again good sir.”

“See that it doesn’t.”

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The final stages of the long awaited healing fell into place in surprisingly quick fashion. Each day the circles would convene and after two shifts, the day would be finished, followed by meals and rest and not a little conversation. Glyph had found a family among the Night Elves and now that they knew he bore them no ill will, they embraced him as one of their own. The near month it had taken to tug and push and prod Teldrassil into regrowth and renewal had been a bonding period for everyone present.... and more than once Forest had a sense of his own renewal, given strength and purpose by the Night Elves.

That Illisia’s newfound rank did not sit well with her amused the god and he would tease her in the moments of privacy they snatched. Reports made it difficult for Glyph to rest for overlong – everyone was eager to get the last few pieces settled. The healing of the tree had freed up much of the natural flow of mana and natural defences the world tree possessed, and it was like a breath of fresh air for the land. The forests that topped the world tree were greening again, the wind full of pleasant forest scents and the undergrowth was thriving with brush and flowers.

The world tree itself was scarred, and would take time to heal properly – years, if not decades – and Glyph knew that his work had sped up the process, but he could not afford to spend the years dabbling at this single tree. His calling was elsewhere and with its health stabilized, Teldrassil could finish its recovery safely on its own, under the tender care of its protectors. As their work had progressed, more and more of the druids had been able to reach the tree directly and the process had been sped up considerably as they were able to tend their world tree.

The moment of completion as the chain of knots undid themselves and came free, and the last of major wounds began the process of healing, the flow of mana was at last unobstructed and the tendrils of calling sent out by the druids were answered with a rush of renewed power that hadn’t been felt in months.

When Glyph rose, dazzled and dizzy from the surge of power, the Ancients echoed the motion first followed slowly by the circles of druids. No one spoke, there was no need to. Glyph’s smile and the looks of triumph of those present were evidence enough of their cause realized. Waiting the few moments for his equilibrium to return, when Glyph finally moved towards the exit, he realized the druids were waiting for him to lead. They’d gathered up nearer to him and the Ancients had formed an honor guard to the rear of the gaggle, and it gave Forest reason to pause.

Looking from the face to face of the people he’d come to call comrades, Glyph shook his head and cleared his throat, “No. Together. We did this together, we’ll walk together, my friends.” A pleasant emotion suffused the room as nods of approval from the proud elves dissolved into weary, but triumphant steps up the long passages to the surface.

When they emerged, they were met by several ranking druids and confirmation was made. The world tree was no longer in danger of perishing, its growth restored and the land once more connected. In the resulting hustle and bustle, Glyph padded off to a quiet corner and sank down beneath a tree to watch the news spread. It moved like wild fire, rippling out from the camp at Teldrassil’s sacred entrance down through the outskirts and then through the town. What all it would mean for the elves, Glyph was not certain – his duty had not been to ensure the social security of the Night Elves but to tend the wounded tree and restore its growth.

As he sat there, he reflected on his time among the elves and the druids and found himself smiling. They’d instilled in him a sense of belonging, of community and purpose that warmed his heart. And then he thought of Illisia and the impatient patience she’d had with his efforts and he realized how thankful he was of her support too. She was a friend, a confidant whereas the elves were a different shade of friend... and followers. He’d grown in strength in this experience, he knew, and the Night Elves had played no small part in that.

Wanting to thank them somehow, he tilted his head back and closed his eyes to contemplate just how to do that when a little hand poked his shoulder, startling him back to awareness. “Glyph....? Glyph!” The child grinned, bent over a ridiculously large bouquet of flowers held behind her back, “We thought you’d collapsed again! Why are you over here? The others are so excited. They say you’re done. Is that true?” Ranged behind the boy were a dozen other youths, the oldest of which even seemed interested and a chorus of similar sentiments erupted on the tail of the boy’s words.

Flicking his ears as he sat up, trying to sort through the myriad of questions, Glyph smiled and held his hands up, “Woah, woah! You’re speaking to fast for me to understand!” His grasp of their language was still rudimentary at best and with the peppering of common, it made it even more difficult to sort through their thoughts. “Why am I here. Let’s start with that one, hm?” The children quieted after a few moments, all anxious to hear why the god had chosen seclusion. “I came over here so your people could rejoice without my pulling attention. It is my nature and my duty to tend the forests and your Teldrassil is but one facet. My job is done – I cannot fully heal the tree, not yet. It will do so on it’s own, however, don’t worry.”

The boy nodded as if that made all the sense in the world then grinned and interrupted Glyph as he shoved the bouquet, almost forgotten, into the god’s hands. “Here! They’re flowers from the forest! We picked them. We haven’t seen them that tall for ages! Do you like them?”

Glyph laughed and accepted the offering with a broad smile, “I do! They smell very nice and are quite pretty.” To demonstrate, he pressed his face into the arrangement and inhaled the delicate scents, much to the childrens’ amusement. “But, you want to hear the answers to the rest of your questions, right?” He arched a brow and jerked his head as he gestured about him, “Take a seat then? You’re making me feel so very short!”

A girl giggled as promptly sat down, followed by their impromptu leader and then the rest found seats as well. It was a joke among the children that Forest was as short as the kids and that was why he liked them so much. He hadn’t seen a reason to correct their games if it meant they felt more comfortable approaching him.

Clearing his throat, he looked several of his audience members in the eye and grinned as he proclaimed what they already knew, “It is done! Teldrassil is well on its way to healing completely, at last! My job is finished. And this is how it happened....” Their eager gazes and excited murmurs as he spun a fantastic tale of magic and nature and a brave, brave world tree were reward enough for him.

And as the god spun his tales and entertained the children, Halyrion observed from the edge of the clearing with an amused expression. At least they knew where the god had gotten to... they could fetch him when it was needed. For now, though, he brought a little magic to the lives of the little ones. As he turned to make his way back to the groups gathering, Halyrion was half convinced a great many of those youths would pursue the druidic arts now.

Though Glyph might not realize it, he and his partner Illisia had inspired far more then hope during their stay among the Night Elves. Some had lost sight of the truths of the world in the chaos that had gripped their realm... with this act of generosity, he hoped the elves might find themselves drawn back their roots.

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.:: ||{...Taking Root Pt. 1...}|| ::.

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The return trip from Azeroth seemed shorter when they finally arrived back on the plane of the Pantheon. The entire experience had left him feeling empowered and more thoroughly connected both to the land and to the people that called his forests home. And Illisia... his dear Illisia... thoughts of what had transpired between them were fond and rosy, causing him to smile whenever his mind drifted that way.

However, as is Forest's nature, he quickly found himself wandering the countryside again, noting the considerable renewal Creation's influence had inspired. Things were once again greening, the Pantheon's grounds were lush and fertile and even when on travelled days out into the countryside, things were on the mend. Small villages had been erected by the survivors of Gehenna and children were once again playing, laughing and working where they could. It warmed Glyph's heart to see prosperity once again settling into the ranks of the mortals but the forests themselves, devastated as they had been, were still so raw and sore... they did not respond in months or years but in decades and centuries.

And it was into one such forest, where the moss grew on barren branches and the dead timbre bore marks of fire and disease that he wandered. It was quiet, only the rustling of scavengers picking the remains of grubs from rotted wood or snatching thin twigs for nests built elsewhere broke the silence. A patchwork of grey and green and brow, the silence tickled across Glyph's senses as he walked the forgotten pathways, casting his awareness out for the seeds that must surely be laying dormant in the debris.

There were flickers, here and there, of life that lay sleeping and he spread his hands, bid the seedlings wake. The area around him grew utterly silent as the birds in the branches paused, felt the god's influence reach out and touch the plants of the area. It was so much easier now, so much more comforting, to touch the world in ways that aligned with half remembered glimpses of a past life and glory. He smiled as he felt the seedlings stir – the trees, the bushes, the flowers and all the plants that together composed the forest. It would be a long time yet before these humble beginnings grew into the stately forests of before but here was a start.

A gasp and the crunch of a branch, drew his attention and lavender eyes opened as he turned to look for the sound, curious. A tiny sapling quivered behind a fallen log, it's leather holding case belying its carrier. Glyph arched a brow and stepped closer, a quiet and gentle presence, “Hello there... I was not aware I had an audience. Show yourselves?” The sapling gasped again and ducked further down as a pair of young voices whispered urgently, clearly afraid. He frowned slightly and stepped up onto the log to crouch and peer down at the two fur and leather clad youths with a bucketful of seedling trees, “Come now, I'm not going to hurt you. I am Glyph, Silvim Illustirre... And you are? Very kind, if you seek to plant those in these woods.”

The two jumped and scrambled back, their seedling containers forgotten as Glyph crouched on the log above them, elbows resting on knees with his head tilted a little to the side, looking amused. He looked either a spirit of the forest or a demon come to spirit them away – they weren't entirely sure. The older one, a red headed young man with eyes the same shade of the moss and freckles splashed across his nose, stepped in front of his sister, brandishing a walking stick. He could not have been more then fourteen by Glyph's estimate. “H-hey! We don't mean no harm. We're just minding our own business mister! Just let us go.” Behind him the little girl, a few years younger with similarly fiery hair and huge hazel-green eyes nodded, gaze stuck on Glyph's hair and the tiny branches that grew there.

Glyph blinked at that and laughed, amused, “Just let you go? My friend, I had no intention of keeping you! If you will it, be on your way, but answer me this before you go: Why do you carry those seedlings?”

The girl swallowed, grasped her brother's hand and tugged, answered before she could be shushed, “We're replanting the forest! It's so sad without the trees, everyone's trying to give it a chance to regrow. Mama's really good with plants!” She smiled, evidently proud of her mother and the group she mentioned.

“Cecilia, quiet!” The boy grumbled, half turning away from Glyph to peer at the girl.

“But he said he'd let us go if we told him!” She protested, pointing at Forest with a stubborn set to her jaw.

“I did at that. I'm sorry I frightened you two... but, would you be opposed to my meeting your Mama and your helpers?” He grinned, stayed where he was, perched comfortably atop the log, “You see, I have a vested interest in the well being of forests everywhere. I'd like to speak to your Tree-Planters.”

The boy glared at him, as if stunned by the audacity to ask and shook his head, “No. You're some kind of tricksy spirit aren't you? Mama warned us not to fall for Spirit's tricks or we'd loose our very souls.”

“What? Really? I strike you as a trickster?” Glyph laughed at that, highly amused, “Nay, I am no trickster young man. I am Glyph, as I said. God of the Forests, nothing more, nothing less and I bear you no ill will.”

“Damien, what if we told Mama? We have to tell her anyway, remember?” Cecilia prompted, tugging again on her brother's sleeve, causing the tip of the walking stick to bob, “Mama will know if he's a God, or a Pretender.”

The boy nodded at that, backed up a little and kept himself between Glyph and the girl as he gruffly responded, “Alright. You stay right here.” They backed off further then turned and disappeared through the woods.

Glyph merely smiled and nodded, thinking on them and allowing their trip through the forest to be easy in their nearly careless flight from their Spirit. He couldn't blame them, really, this far out there must still be problems. Hopping off the log, he stooped and collected the bucket of saplings, inhaling their scent with a glad expression and began the task of planting the young trees while he waited for the youths to collect their parents and whomever else would attend to him.

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“Mama! Mama! There's a Spirit in the forest!!” Little Cecilia called as they crashed at last into the camp of the Tree-Planters. All around people stopped to stare at the pair of youths as they came to a stop, huffing and puffing and wild eyed, “He let us go because we told him we were planting trees, Mama!” Cecilia seemed proud of herself for having 'duped' a Spirit into releasing them.

“He has twiggy hair a horn, Mother, a horn! Just like the demons that Father and his friends fought off not too long ago.” Damien proclaimed, his suspicions all too obvious in his tone of voice. When he caught his breath, he looked up and around, “Where /is/ Father?”

Cecilia gasped, instantly thinking of some one-horned, leafy demon attack her Daddy and looked terribly concerned. Only her mother's hand on her shoulder as she drew the child to her side kept the girl from crying, “He's out hunting with Alden and Gil, Damien. Don't frighten your sister like that. And what's this about a Demon Spirit?” She gestured for them to follow her to a nearby impromptu table built from some chopped wood and a plank from the side of an old cottage they'd found.

“We were planting like we were told – not too far, promise,” Damien's tone belied his attempt to cover their ranging too far away from camp, “And there was this... man. With russet hair and branches growing out of his head, a horn. And his fingers were suuuper long.” The girl nodded, helpfully demonstrating by tugging on her own fingers as if adding an extra joint. “And he had his eyes closed, but the forest was calm around him. Not like a predator was stalking but like... a deer in a medow? Like that.”

“It was so odd Mama! Who stands in the middle of a dead place like that??” Cecilia pipped up, eyes big as she asked the question.

“Mysterious people, that's who, Ceci. And what made you think he was a Spirit?” Their mother answered, intrigued by the children's tale.

Damien shot Ceci a look for interrupting him and huffed before he continued, “And then he spread his arms and we just... felt /something/. The seeds in my pack all wriggled, see??” He opened the satchel full of seeds they also spread and blinked – many had burst their shells in the very beginnings of germination, as if they were trying to take root in the bag itself. “Look! He did this, I'm sure of it. He has to be a Spirit or a Demon.” His mother seemed perplexed by the seeds and plucked a few from the bag, looked them over.

“But Damien...” Ceci tugged at her brother's sleeve, “Maybe he's a good Spirit? He did say he was a God. Oh! And he wanted to talk to the other Tree-Planters, Mama. Wanted to talk to you.” She smiled hopefully up at the older woman, sure her mother would be able to take care of this conundrum.

“Yeah, he wanted to come with us but I said no. I didn't let him trick us and I kept Cecilia safe.” He nodded, crossing his arms.

Their mother laughed and mussed the boy's hair and kissed the girl's cheek, “Well done my children. You did the right thing, Damien. I'm proud of you, my little man. Soon you'll be able to go hunting with your father, I think. Let me go talk to the others about this Glyph.”

Damien lead Cecilia off to their tent then, and fell into the makeshift chair with a huff, reminding his sister very much of their blustery, hard working father. She giggled and he shot her a look that she simply stuck her tongue out in response to. Their Mother was gone for the better part of an hour and when she finally reappeared, she was dressed in her planting gear and carried a sharpened walking stick along with her usual bow. A hunting knife was stuck in the top of her boot and overall, she quite impressed her children as she gestured for them to come, “Can you tell us where he is? Where, exactly, did you find the man?” On the table was a rough-drawn map with markings indicating their efforts both in the forest and in the abandoned fields. The community had gotten together and were working towards actively rejuvenating the land so they could live off it much more comfortably. The farmlands were proving to respond much more quickly then the forests, however – which mad sense, but the game that forests attracted were harder to find when they shied away from dead lands.

“Here.” Damien pointed to an area just off the eastern edge of their progress, near a dip in the land that turned and slowly deepened into a ravine that ran off into the east, “I told him to wait there. Are you going now?”

“Aye, we are. A few of us.” His mother responded, nodding, “Thank-you. We'll be back relatively soon, keep the braziers burning for us, hey? See you soon!” She kissed the pair then trotted off as her comrades called her over. Armed with bows and knives, in case this was indeed a Demon, the trio headed off into the woods. It wasn't the first time a wayward creature had spooked the people, nor was it likely to be the last.

Glyph had obediently remained in the vicinity of his meeting the children, the planting of the seedlings hadn't taken very long so he'd simply returned to his seat on the log and closed his eyes, letting himself connect with the forest around him in a similarly manner to how he had linked with Night Elf's sacred tree. To his higher awareness, the forest was quiet, young... vulnerable. Like the World Tree he'd helped to heal, this forest also needed tending to and there was much work to be done... he could not simply walk away from this wood.

Time passed, how long he was not sure, but pangs of hunger and thirst drew him at last out of his reverie and he found the fast growing plants around him had curled around his feet and lower legs, their tickling leaves unnoticed until now. Laughing softly, he gently uncurled the plants and looked around, wondering if perhaps he'd missed the Tree-Planters' return. There were no footsteps in the moss that had not been there before and his sensitive ears did not pick up any wayward cracks or creaks. With a sigh, he slid off the log and stretched, noting a cluster of mushrooms growing a few steps away. Excellent. They would make for a good snack while he waited.

“Are you the Spirit the children were in a huff about?” The woman's voice drifted out from among the trees, her clothing camouflaging her well. The planted seedlings had surprised her, made her less inclined to believe this was a demon lurking in the shadows.

Glyph paused, mouth full of mushrooms, and looked about, ears erect at the sudden question. Bright eyes scanned the brush, found the woman crouched amongst the fallen timbre not too far away. Straightening, he popped another mushroom in his mouth and smiled at the general vicinity of the voice, “Were I a Spirit I would answer yes, madam, but I am no Spirit nor Demon like the boy accused me of. I am Glyph, Silvim Illustirre. Are you one of the Tree-Planters?”

The shadow that was the woman detached itself and stood up fully, a hand on the quiver of bows at her side though the bow was loosely held, “They spoke of a Glyph, yes. And we are the Tree-Planters. What business do you have here?”

Glyph smiled broadly at that and sat back down on the log, perched comfortably and pressed his bare feet into the moss, “I come because I am Forest and I seek to renew the lands that were damaged. Your efforts are appreciated and I would like to offer my assistance while you walk the paths of my domain. I come from the Pantheon, though my form is not yet quite my own. Do you know of the Pantheon?” He tilted his head to the side, interest sparking in lavender eyes as his words lit recognition in the woman before him.

She took her hand from the quiver and nodded, her eyes wide and curious as her children's, “From the Pantheon? A God indeed... Forest, you say?” The woman called out, sounding like the wood peckers that frequented the area, and two more forms detached themselves from the forest in flanking positions to the God, “I am Helen, this is Jonothan and Keller. I apologize for my children's superstitions, but I am glad they were cautious. I had not expected one of the Gods to appear so far away from their home. You have wandered a great distance.”

“Aye, Forest.” Glyph nodded, an amused smile playing across his lips as he remained perched on the log, idly eating the mushrooms, gazes shifting to the newcomers when they revealed themselves, “I have wandered far... but it has not been by accident. I have much to reconnect with. How have your efforts been? I've sense some life here... but more is dormant then not.”

“Our efforts... have been better on the plains then in the forest, to be quite honest. The seedlings take but it will be many years yet before the land is restored. Only a few of the original trees yet live, as I'm sure you know. This is as far as we've planted to the East...” Helen trailed off, noted his snacking and padded forward to offer him a hand, “Are you hungry? Come back to the camp with us, I'm sure your assistance will be well met.”

Forest blinked and nodded, “I am famished, actually. I would like very much to enjoy your hospitality. Lead on.” He rose and stretched, the top of his head no higher then Keller's shoulder and he smiled up at the taller man, mildly envious of his stature. Short was not right, so far as the God was concerned.

The pair of men fell in beside Glyph as he was lead back, and when they arrived much more swiftly then the initial journey had taken, Helen eyed him curiously. Glyph simply smiled and winked, a mischievous grin shattering the innocent expression.

Helen quirked a brow at that but did not say anything as she preceded them into the camp. The children came bounding out first, though they skidded to a halt upon seeing Glyph walking along with a smile upon his face as he looked over the community on the edge of the forest. A few buildings had been crafted from what good wood there was, its layout reminding him of a gypsy ring complete with a large fire at the center. Several rabbits hung on a line to the side, freshly caught, and the spits were being prepared for the evening meal.

Damien stopped beside the fire with wide eyes and peered at Glyph then his mother, “What's he doing here??”

Helen smiled at the boy, “He comes from the Pantheon, Damien.” The answer was enough to quiet the boy as he blinked and looked again to Forest. Forest simply winked at the youth, glad that these people had heard of the Pantheon and the gods that resided there. She gestured for him to come sit at the table near the fire, raising her voice, “This is Glyph, God of the Forest, he offers to aid us and to join us for supper. Welcome him kindly.”

“Aid us?” One of the young men asked as he sharpened a knife to skin the rabbits, “That'll be a boon. Maybe the forest'll grow up faster now. What say you, Glyph?”

“I'll help to re-establish the forest, of course, but my strength is not yet fully returned, I'm afraid. Nonetheless, I will do what I can to assist you,” he smiled as he took a seat, ear flicking, “That you are doing what you can to reseed the forest means a great deal to me. This wood is dormant, shocked into slumber but eventually it will be lush and green once more. What is your name?”

“Andrew, sir.” The youth responded, nodding to Forest's answer, “So what can you do?”

Glyph laughed at that, “I can help the forest take root. I daresay I have an excellent green thumb. Patience, Andrew. The trees and bushes will return and with them so will the bounty of my domain.”

“Alright. Are there any objections to Glyph's help? If nothing else, another hand on board will help us out.” Helen interjected when the opportunity afforded it, waited a moment for those gathered to either agree or disagree then clapped her hands, “Good. Tonight you rest, my Lord, and then tomorrow we will resume our work. Good?”

“Please, call me Glyph, and that is most acceptable. I am starving!” He grinned and patted his stomach.

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“How do you get things to grow?” Damien's voice cut across the quiet hush of the clearing Glyph was crouching in, is sister sprawled in the weeds and mulch not too far away, napping after having played with the God for some time. His fondness for children had quickly won over the hearts of the parents and youths in the community, creating a sort of double duty for Glyph – Tree-Shepherd and Babysitter. Indeed, many of the adults had taken to calling him Shepherd for lack of a better title; Glyph disliked the pomp and fuss of Lord and Sire, felt it sat strangely on the shoulders of one who would rather bury his toes in the soil.

Glyph's ear flicked at the question and he opened his eyes, the aura of power that curled around him when he concentrated dissipating, “How? That's a good question. How do you breathe?” He grinned, rocked back and sat in the dirt, his leggings covered in the thick, rich soil of the area. Wiping the back of a hand on his cheek left yet another smear of dirt; it seemed the God attracted more then he managed to keep away from. Of course, this made him a great hit with the younger survivors as it was an excellent excuse to get messy too: if the God got dirty why couldn't they??

Damien blinked, “How do I breathe? That's easy, I just do. That doesn't answer the question though.” He was gruff and straightforward, honest perhaps to a fault but Glyph liked that about the young man – he stuck to his morals.

“It does,” Forest stretched out his legs and wiggled his toes, the barky patterns nearly helping them blend in, “As that is precisely how it works – I just do. This is my element, my friend, my domain, my home.... my temple. Every plant and animal that lives here is part of a greater whole and that is the Forest, and I am Forest. Recovery and regrowth... eventually expansion, that is like your breathing for me.” He arched a brow as the boy appeared dubious and tilted his head, “Tell me, have you ever heard of a forest that doesn't grow? That doesn't strive to stay green?”

“Well... no.” He responded, brows drawn down as he struggled to understand, “But... If the Forest is you... then how are you standing here in front of me and not... some greater spirit? Aren't the Gods supposed to be all powerful and terrible?”

“Ah,” Glyph nodded, “I am not yet fully myself, little one. Eventually I will be 'some greater spirit' but for now... my power is as a druid's might be: an affinity for plants and an intimate connection with my element.” He laughed and shook his head, “Some are terrible, yes, and all are powerful but there is life and personality among my comrades, as varied as your family and friends. What say you to this? When I am stronger, I will come back and you can proclaim me worthy of the title God. You fancy yourself an expert and I dare say I should defer to one.” He raised a soil-covered hand and grinned, “Or, perhaps, you would like to come to the Pantheon and see the Gods for yourself? I'm sure some would strike you as divine even if I do not.” That he seemed more approachable then expected pleased him, as it meant he would be better able to walk among them, cultivate their belief... make friends and assist them when he could.

“A druid? Is that like a green mage?” Damien smiled suddenly, struck off guard by the offer and grinned, a rare sight for those who knew the boy, “Can you imagine? Mother and Father watching as I confirm the divinity of a God? Come back when you're less... a seed and more a tree and we'll see what I think then, yeah.” The youth seemed pleased with his turn of phrase, especially when Glyph laughed in kind, though his eyes grew wide when the second offer came and he shuffled his feet, kicking at the clods of dirt on the ground, “I don't know... what can I do? A bunch of gods can't have use for me.”

“That's where you're wrong, Damien. You know how cheering for your friends when they play games seems to encourage them? That's what you can do. Believing and cheering for us helps us more then you think.” Glyph smiled, “And a druid is a magic user who's very in tune with nature... I recently returned from another world, actually, where a whole race of people are druids. They have lavender skin, glowing silvery eyes, and slender ears out to here!” He gestured, “They needed my help too, you know. Their World Tree needed a helping hand to heal... like this forest here. Would you like me to tell you?”

“Oooh... so if I cheer for you, you'll be better able to help the seedlings grow?” He asked curiously, glancing around at the seedlings that dotted the area, wondering just how sound might improve their growth.... Glyph's mischievous smile did not help his confusion but he shrugged it off in the face of a story. “Another world full of druids?” His tone belied his interest as he settled down on ground, watching Glyph intently.

“Cecilia!~” He called, waving when she stirred, “You want to hear a story about druids and other worlds?”

“Ah! Yes Shepherd!” She grinned and came bounding over, nearly knocking Glyph over as she bear hugged him then settled down beside her brother.

“Alright...” Glyph spread his hands wide and dove into the story of the World Tree and the Druids he befriended and of Illisia and the Satyrs...

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Glyph peered curiously at the girl who`d tripped on the hole he`d just finished digging. She was sprawled on the ground, covered in grit and leaf litter, her clothing torn from hard wear and her hair mussed so badly it resembled a crow`s nest more then hair. A wild child, by all appearances.

“Hello...?” He ventured, setting aside his trowel to offer a hand so she might get up. The past few weeks with the Tree Planters had been most interesting but he did not recall seeing this youth among their numbers. Laying a hand on her shoulder, ears pricked forward, he wondered if her heavy breathing was from running or embarassment, “I'm afraid you've put your foot in my hole. While I can't vouch for planting people, it's probably more effective for plants...” He trailed as the girl smacked his hand away and rolled, crystal clear blue eyes flashing dangerously as she came up on her feet, a knife produced from some place on her person. He immediately backed off, hands going up in the air, “I mean you no harm. Are you hurt?”

She glared at him, “You put a hole in my way.”

He blinked, “Ah... you ran into the hole, my dear. Could you... ah, put the knife away?” He gestured to the gleaming blade, made an apologetic face.

The girl eyed the knife then brandished it, waving it at Forest, “You. Put. A. Hole. In. My. Way. And now I've gone and twisted my foot because of you. If they catch me, I'm gonig to make sure they skin you first.”

His ears flicked as confusion played across his features, “Fine fine. I can get help for your foot... are you part of the Tree-Planters?”

“Absolutely not!!” She barely let him finish the question before shouting, puffing out a breath to blow her unruly bangs out of her eyes, “I don't want nothing to do with them. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em.”

His eyes widened at that and he shrugged, “Alright... But why are you running?”

“None 'o yer business, that's why!” She shouted again, huffing. A moment later the crash of footsteps through the forest could be heard and Glyph's ears reflexively swivelled to pick up the sound before he looked. The girl heard the noise too and swore loudly and profusely, clambering up, “Now lookit! They've caught up!”

“Huh?” Glyph was confused, the sound of those approaching were his friends from among the planters... was she a thief? He hadn't heard of any thieves. He watched her race across to the other patch of brambles that were starting to grow heavy with berries and sighed, reached for the seedling at his side and gently placed it in the hole, covering the root ball up with care.

A few heartbeats later several people came running through, “There! She went this way! Damnnit Rush! Git your a** back here!” Troy shouted, waving a bow in her direction. None of them seemed to notice Glyph or the seedling and he fell to all fours, shielding the newly planted tree with his body.

“Watch where you're running!!” He shouted, looking rather perturbed that people nearly trod on the new life. They were going to all this effort to restore the forest... trampling the new growth was /not/ going to help. The plants were mostly defenceless... was it really so hard to look where you stampeded??

Brandin nearly jumped out of his skin, stumbling to avoid running over the God, “Glyph! Shepherd! Didn't see you there, apologies.” The ginger haired man scratched his beard sheepishly as he milled about momentarily, “Did you see a girl? Wild looking? Blue eyes... crazy hair?”

Glyph shook his head, “It's alright but your seedlings won't last long if you trample them before they even have a chance to grow. Protect the forest.” He sat up, brushed his dirty hands off on his pants as he nodded, “Girl? Yeah. She twisted her ankle on the hole I'd dug... she ran off that direction. Why? Who is she?”

Brandin bowed, nodding at Glyph's gentle chastisement before answer, “That's Rush. She was orphaned when everything went to crap, been convinced she doesn't need anyone to help ever since. We found her living out of some ruins, hunting rats and squirrels a couple months ago. Means well but is one hell of an opportunist. Broken Damien's arm by accident today when they were tussling over the rabbit he'd caught. She bolted before anyone could talk to her...” he shook his head, “I'm pretty sure she's just running for the sake of running now. Taken to this place like a fish to water.”

“Hn. Really?” He bit his lower lip and rose, “I'll go get her. I don't think she knows who I am...”

“Think you can catch up to her?” Brandin queried, trotting off towards the direction the others had run.

“Of course.” Glyph laughed, winking, “Promise me you won't tread on any more seedlings and you will too.”

“Deal!” Brandin called, grinning, and ran out.

Glyph brushed himself off and started in the same direction, closing his eyes as he drifted through the woods, letting his awareness spread out. It was harder here then at the World Tree, with less power and less life... but he'd been trying as of late to let his consciousness slide at least in part into the great forest. It was frustratingly hard... hints and wisps of the greater currents, whispers uttered by tree and shrub at his passing... he could feel the forest but he could not yet immerse himself as fully as he would have liked.

Sensitive hearing caught the sound of the men crashing through the brush and then, beyond that, another set of footsteps, swifter, quieter. He walked in that direction, never tripping nor knocking into things and as he drew closer, he smiled at having picked up her trail. The forest closed in around the girl, roots snagged at her, brambles caught her... slowed her progress until she was running in circles without realizing it. Glyph sat down on a moss covered boulder and waited for the girl to come through this portion of the loop once more.

“YOU!?!” She cried when she found him sitting nonchalantly atop his boulder, hands in lap and lips quirked in a mischievous smile.

“Me!?” He pressed a hand to his chest and gasped, looking around before he winked at her, “Hello again.”

“Are you following me?” Rush demanded, pointing an accusing finger at Glyph, “Don't.”

“No, I'm not following you. You ran into me. It's a big forest, perhaps you got turned around.” Glyph smiled kindly, shrugging, “Your ankle is hurt. Come with me and I promise you they'll not chase you any more.”

“What makes you think I'm lost?? And how're you going to do that? You're not their King.” She huffed, pacing back and for the path below the boulder.

“Because you've been hiking the same path for nearly half an hour now, nothing seems to be what you expected or as easy as you remember, correct?” Glyph replied conversationally, leaning back as he arched a brow, “No, I may not be their King, but I'm pretty sure they'll listen to me if I tell them you're my charge. I've been told you've taken quite the liking to the forest?”

“... You HAVE been following me you liar!” Rush's face grew red as he described her misfortune. It was like the forest itself had conspired to make her life difficult. Stupid forest. “Huh? Your charge? Like your squire? When did I say I wanted your protection?”

“I haven't been following you.” Glyph repeated, “I've been guiding you back around to me. As for my charge... more like a disciple. Someone I can teach. You have no guardians, I'll gladly welcome you into this place if you wish to walk my paths.”

“What are you going on about Shortie?” She quirked a brow, stopping in her tracks to glare at Glyph.

“I am not SHORT!” He burst out, “I am vertically challenged for the time being! I'm offering you the chance to learn and live more closely with the Forest is what, you silly little child.” Glyph puffed out his cheeks, “I'm not short...”

“Then why're you sitting all the way up there, huh??” Rush laughed, thrilled that she'd incited an outburst in the calm person before her, “Are you telling me I wouldn't have to deal with those people if I fell in with you...? I don't even know your name!”

“Ah, now you ask.” Glyph grinned and slipped off the boulder, landing lightly to stand before the girl. She reached out and plucked a leaf from the twigs growing from his head and he winced, “What was that for!?”

“Oh! They're attached??” She looked confused, “Why do you have sticks growing out of your head?”

He batted her curious hand away, “Kindly refrain from picking leaves. Thank-you. To answer your first question: I am Glyph, though the locals have taken to calling me Shepherd. As for your second... that is because I am God of the Forest and I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't pick my person.” Glyph shot her a look when she reached for him again.

“Shepherd... that's funny. Damien was talking about going to cheer the shepherd on earlier... though why a goat herder needs to be cheered on, I haven't the foggiest. He's not the sharpest tool around.” Rush shook her head, tone growing sharp, “A God huh? You're awfully small to be a God. Where were you when we needed you, then? My family died because no Gods answered our pleas.”

He winced, shook his head, “I was too small to reach far... I cannot speak for the others, but I was doing what I could to save All that Is. We succeeded, but not without losses... I am sorry your family became casualties. I will speak with the Lord of the Underworld on your family's behalf if that will ease your pain. And yes, I would be your guardian, teach you, mentor you.. show you the riches of the Forest. All I ask in return is your fealty and your belief.”

“Heh. Convenient excuse, Mr. God. You get this Underworld to check on my family and /then/ I'll swear fealty. In the meantime, feel free to mentor me if you want. No guarantees shortie.” Rush eyed him up and down but didn't get the sense he was lying... but she wasn't too keen to come under someone's boot either.

“Come to the Pantheon with me then, and we will seek out Nergal together. He and I are friends.” Glyph smiled, held a hand out to the young woman and yelped when she pinched another leaf, “Hey!”

She roughly shook his hand and waved the leaf in her hand, “Fine. But I get to keep this.”

“Only if you apologize to Damien. How did you break his arm?” Glyph retorted, rubbing the back of his head.

“They have to catch me first.” She grinned, “I didn't break his arm, the fool fell over a log oddly and jammed his wrist. Cried bloody murder. I'm not going to stick around when I know they'll believe him over wild Rush! I'm not a fool!”

“Oh...” Glyph quirked his lips thoughtfully padded after her as she started off again, glanced back when her chasers finally stumbled into the area, breathless and red-faced. When he looked back, she was gone, disappeared once more into the forest.

He sighed.

“Thought you said we'd catch up to her!” Brandin called between puffs of breath.

“You did. Just left.” Glyph shrugged, expression apologetic, “I swear I tried. She is indeed a wild one. Does Damien not like her?”

“Nah, the two don't get along at all... he's all 'do right by your family' and she all about personal survival. It's like trying to get oil and water to mix.” Troy puffed, shaking his head.

“Then I'd talk to Damien again before you corner Rush.” Glyph smiled, “There's more to the story then meets the eye, I think. Leave Rush to me, go back and rest. And talk to Damien.”

“Oh yeah? Make sure you bring her in then.” Brandin responded, glad he didn't have to chase the brat around any further.

“I will.” Glyph responded, waving as the group grumbled and started back towards headquarters. When they were gone, he turned around, “You can come out now.”

There was cursing and swearing as Rush battled her way out of a tangle of vines and glared at him, “...Thanks.”

“You're welcome.”

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With his arm in a sling from the sprained wrist, Damien was assigned to Glyph as student and companion while he healed. The boy was curiously neutral about the development, something had apparently piqued his interest.

The forest was quiet this day, the overcast weather hiding the still missing sky but casting the wood into a gloomy, damp twilight that reminded him of a swamp or mangroves. Still, he'd wandered these woods with his hosts for a while now, was swiftly learning their secrets... it was like slowly unwrapping a toy box that had been packed away in childhood – familiar and yet new all at once. The seeding efforts were slow, they were canvasing the area step by step, seedling by seedling and he followed behind most times, meditating, feeling out the new life, encouraging it as his nature demanded.

Purpose... that was something he'd never really had to question, he knew. Glyph was Forest... and his purpose was to grow, to renew, to provide and shelter... and expand. The thought of not doing so left him irritable and listless for it was better to toil in the soil then it was to stand guard over asphalt and cobblestone. The wilder aspects of himself demanded reclamation of stolen things, a wild regrowth and resurgence of the Woods in a world that had too long thoughtlessly raped and pillaged the Forests but they were thoughts that surged when his temper flared.

Yes, his purpose was to exist, to cultivate, to provide... Tree-Shepherd, as the mortals here called him, Soil-Walker, Tree-Bearer as the Twin Crown had called him, all were right. He smiled to himself as he worked, crouched in the loam, meditating in silence. Around him, the seedlings quivered as he encouraged their growth and the seeds in the ground strove to push up their first tender shoots. Cecilia had dubbed it the Magical Forest for all the motion and growth Glyph incited... and he had laughed, entertained by the child's wonder.

In her he had found another follower, the pure and potent belief of a child. Indeed, the most difficulty he'd had, at least in his current state, was in convincing the adults he was not just some charlatan with power. It made him wonder at the task of reconnecting with people all over... it would take a long time to regain his glory, reclaim his cults and followers, inspire the new generations. And what of the Science-aligned realms? Would they be more difficult to sew belief in? It would likely be harder for him, surrounded by technology that held the natural forces at bay.

Glyph looked up at the grey sky, curiosity playing across his features. How had the realms changed? Where had his paths lead? As much as he tried to reach for memories of the Past, they always eluded him. He often simply let them be but today, his curiosity was piqued. Glyph knew he had to go step by step, grow as the forest does, but it sometimes felt as though he was too confined – especially recently.

Patience, he murmured to himself, closing his eyes and turning his attention back to the task at hand. Patience and purpose...

“What were you staring at?” Damien's voice cut through his thoughts, bringing his attention around to the youth who was wandering around, inspecting the insects that crawled through the debris.

“Hm?” Glyph tilted his head, smiled, “Nothing, just thinking.”

The boy paused in his step, turned, “What about?”

“That I need patience.” Glyph laughed sheepishly, “And that I shouldn't forget I have a purpose to guide me... or that the future lies with youths like you, come to think of it.” He quirked a brow in a thoughtful expression as he regarded the rough young man. He and Rush were similar in many ways and so very different in others... and in both resided the future. “Here... there's some things I'd like to teach you.”

“Uh huh... and while you brood, everything grows?” Damien shook his confused, “What happens when you're happy, do they shrink??” Glyph laughed and shook his head, gesturing for Damien to come to him and take a seat, which he did after a moment, hands cupped around something. He opened them before Forest and a rather perturbed moth fluttered out in drunken curves, prompting a sympathetic look in Glyph. “What do you want to teach me? If it's the Rules, I think I know them well enough by now,” Damien quipped.

“Is that so? What are they then?” Forest sat back, gesturing for the youth to go on with an open expression, “If you know them so well, go on.”

Damien huffed and shook his head, “Fine. First... take what we need, be it shelter, sustenance or supply, but do not be greedy. Second, tend the forests as we would our children for our prosperity depends on the health of the land and a healthy forest handsomely rewards its caretakers. And third, Forest likes honey cakes and maple bon bons the most.” The youth shook his head, having spoken a much more formal version of the desires Glyph had professed to Helen and her group a few days ago.

Glyph clapped, grinned as he confirmed the rules, amused by that last but not one to nay say sweets, “That is correct, yes. Doesn't mean a honey cake will bribe me though you're welcome to try.” He winked, then gestured at the seedling before them, “But what I wanted to show you was how to train a tree... ever notice how young trees are supple and flexible but they grow rigid and strong with age? You can shape the growth of a tree in many ways... Remember the Night Elves? They did that, shaped the trees into marvellous, living homes. It doesn't require cutting or killing, only patience.” He bent the seedling's flimsy top, curling the plant over to the side, “See? If you guide its growth, a tree will yield to your gentle hands... A forest could be a living city like that, you know.”

The youth looked curious, “So... you want people to make trees grow into houses? What it they're not big enough? I can't live in one of those...” He gestured at one of the bleached and rotted trunks jutting out of the ground.

“Hah? If they choose to live within the forest, it'd be nice.” Glyph laughed, “Only if the trees naturally grow that large will you be able to use them like that, I meant weaving them together, like a piece of cloth...” He selected a few of the other seedlings and set them near the first, weaving their tops into a domed, living roof, “Like so!” It was surprisingly strong for being woven of seedlings. “You can do that with most plants – vines, brambles, trees... guide them and they'll respond. Do you want to try?”

Damien arched a brow as he crouched, poking the ensemble then looked up, trying to imagine it... and his minds eye painted the picture of an impressive structure. “Sure but trees will take too long,” He added, undoing the weave and replacing the seedlings without prompting.

“Brambles grow quickly, train some of those and I'm sure you'll be able to shape the trees.” Glyph answered with a smile, “It may be useful to you in the future.”

“If I don't lose an eye to the thorns, that is.” He grimaced but agreed.

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“Rush, I want to speak with you.” Glyph spoke suddenly, appearing on the edge of the tiny clearing the girl was picking mushrooms from. The Tree Planters had worked things out between her and that nasty Damien but they'd still 'grounded' her to the forest for a week. Which was all well and good, anyway, she liked the forest more then she liked the people.

Gone was her unkempt hair, brushed out into something resembling more the human she was then a wild-eyed creature. The lamp she set on a nearby rock threw soft yellow light over the dark hollow, the footprints of small furry beasts pressed in the mud, an encouraging find. The forest was greening, yes, but the trees were mostly still tiny... and Glyph had already admitted to only being able to give them a good start for now.

She liked Glyph, he didn't try to tame her as the others had, didn't try to reign in her desire to roam... the God let her be as she was – resourceful, opportunistic, cunning, tough. In return, she'd allowed him to know the places she frequented... to keep in touch with the god, if only to ensure he held his word about her family. God or not, he was a nice person, had a hell of a way with plants and was practically a living compass.

So when his voice broke through the gloom, familiar enough by now not to cause her to brandish a blade, she looked up questioningly, “Oh? What's up Green Man? Mushroom?”

He took the offered mushroom with a smile and stepped fully into the clearing, “I have been thinking. And I want to teach you... you're well on your way already, but I would like for you to try your hand at the druidic arts. You live and thrive in these woods as any native creature might and I admire that, I would like to train you in what I know of the druidic arts.”

Her expression was skeptical then amused and she laughed, “What now? You want to make a magician out of me? Trust me, Glyph, I don't have a magical bone in my body. I can tell you about the tracks in the ground, the moss on the logs, the places to sleep and forage and hunt... but I can't make things grow like you do. Don't even try to tame me or force me to some stupid mold – that's what those Tree Planters tried and look what it got them!” She stepped past Glyph with a shrug, “Thanks but no thanks.”

“I don't believe you understand what I'm offering you...” Glyph answered evenly, mildly hurt by her resounding denial, “I am not caging you. Not remotely, I am trying to... find common ground with you. Teach you.”

“Don't need teaching.” She shot back, stung by this in contrast to the thoughts of a moment before, “I just want to see my family, see you prove you're as awesome as you claim and then I'll be a loyal friend. I don't want to buy into some doctrine or some hocus pocus, I work with my hands Glyph.”

Glyph sighed, shook his head, spread his hands in a helpless gesture, “I'm not trying to corner you, Rush. You're a capable woman, I was hoping you'd like to learn a little of the druid's craft. You--”

“No. I said no, Glyph. Got it?” She cut him off, tossed her head and glared at him before he walked past, “I don't want your collar. You got the others off my back and I owe you for that but don't push my luck.”

He stepped aside as she stormed past, confused. What had he said to set her off? Watching as she disappeared into the brush, shaking his head, at a loss. Alright, so magic wasn't her ambition. It struck him odd, being so surrounded by people entranced by the seeming power of magic and here was one individual who couldn't be bothered. The soil, the trees, the freedom and challenge of a wild wood, that's what she wanted – she'd said it often enough.

Perplexed, Glyph sat down and leaned against a trunk as he pondered this development. His memory was full of Malh'reth's upbringing... of a world that revolved around the mystic arts, there was no help there. His experiences at the Pantheon, too, had been centered mostly on magic and influence rather then physical crafts... the Night Elves, too, relied heavily on the magic of their Moon Goddess and the strength of their Woods. Though, there had been the Sentinels, the Hunters, the Warriors... all trained in the martial arts, in professional crafts be it alchemy or herbology and they relied little on magic. Indeed, they had been the most difficult ones to convince...

Perhaps it was the same with Rush? Her outright refusal of his offer seemed to make that obvious. What then, could he offer her that she didn't already seem to have? She hunted, she tracked, she lived off the forest as easily as one born to it... it made him wonder if her family hadn't been game wardens or hunters... He knew little of those arts. How then, could be her patron if not through the druidic arts. Forest felt very young and untested as he pondered that question.

Eventually he realized at last he didn't have to teach her anything... she wanted the freedom to do as she pleased, to be welcomed by the forest, to have luck in hunts, essentially to live. Glyph laughed, he could do that – ease a traveler's passage, or hinder it, guide them to the waterways and the places where food grew. He could provide that, it was, after all, what he most enjoyed. But that also meant he needed to speak with Rush...

Letting out a breath, he rose and brushed his garments off as he considered his options. Before long he was padding off to to go look. She was not at the spring, nor the falls down stream, nor the cave system. He was halfway down the ravine's path when he heard the crash of steps and the heavy breathing of a person running. Alarmed, he stepped to the side and watched as Rush burst through the brush, scratched and torn and all mussed again, the blade in her stained red with blood and an angry, determined expression upon her features.

“Rush!?” He called, looking back the way she came, “You okay?”

“Glyph!?” She hollared, barely slowing her gait as she hopped a fallen log, “Get moving! The--” Her warning didn't come fast enough as a trio of snarling, rabid creatures crashed through the bush after her, mouths foaming and eyes wild. One spotted Glyph standing off the side and peeled off, the unearthly howl draw the whole group's attention.

Forest's eyes widened and he back tracked, belatedly turning to run. Whatever those were, they were rabid and ravenous... and wanted blood. Any blood, apparently. “Rush!” He called, sprinting as the creatures tripped and caught themselves on suddenly difficult to navigate terrain, gaining him enough of a lead to avoid the first two snapping jaws.

The third, however, used the terrain as a springboard and leaped at Glyph, jaws opened wide. He dove forward, breathing quick and eyes wide as the Aurion in him sent his nerves racing. Evolved from prey animals, the Aurion's fight or flight response had always remained strong, especially in the face of predators as overwhelming as these beasts.

Its leap narrowly missed him and it circled round as he scrambled up. A cry distracted it as Rush drove into it`s side, the flash of a blade and the scream of the creature as it crumpled, its heart pierced, was enough to redouble the efforts of the two remaining beasts. “Get up, you idiot!” She grabbed his shoulder, helped him up and shoved him forward in an unbalanced wobble as she spun and fended off the charge of one beast, “Run!” She called again, knife flashing followed by a keen of pain.

Glyph didn't need to be reminded. Recovering his balance before he fell over again, he started sprinting away, looking back to find Rush running after him. He reached for her, their hands touched, and he turned his gaze forwards once more, the forest granting them safe and swift passage before them and closing in on the beasts behind. The brambles caught and snagged at flesh, roots were a little higher then they seemed, ground far more uneven... but the beasts were determined and whipped into a bloody rage by their prey's flight.

“What are those!?” He called, puffing, at a loss as to how his reflections had turned into a run for his life.

“Vargr!” She called back, shaking her head, at a loss as to where they'd come from. Lean and lanky, they'd certainly seen better times.

“A what!?” He shouted back, unfamiliar with the term.

Ahead, he heard the calls of the hunters and swore, attempting to whistle to warn them failed – he'd never been good at that. Rush caught on and made a face him, made him wonder if she intended to use the hunting party as a means to slow the vargr but instead she let out three short trills, loud and clear that were answered swiftly by the hunting party, “You need to learn to whistle, Green Man!”

Behind them the crash and creak of broken branches made Glyph wince. Those beasts would have laid a trail of devastation in their path... he would have to mend what he could. The thought spiralled away, however, as Rush threw the winded Forest into a clearing and dove behind him. Heartbeats later the twang of bowstrings and the piercing cries of the vargr echoed, leaving the forest eerily silent but for Rush and his panting.

He rolled over with a groan, clutching his sides as the muscles cramped. One of the hunters fell to his knees beside Glyph, convinced the god was wounded. “Oh leave him be. The wuss can't run, that's what.” Rush's tone was full of mirth as she stood, still breathing hard, and dusted herself off.

“Speak with more respect!” Galdrin snapped, looking up from his crouch as he slit the throats of the beasts to make sure they were dead.

“What!?” She growled, gestured at Glyph, “He's fine. It's just cramps.”

Glyph pulled himself into a sitting position and nodded breathlessly, waving a hand, “St-stitches. Am fine...”

“Tch.” Galdrin scoffed, mumbled something about Rush being to blame for yet another close call. She was too wild, was a danger to those around her.

She grumbled and, with eyes flashing with temper, stormed past the hunter, shoving him hard enough that he tumbled into the beast's ichor. Cursing, the man stood and started towards the waiting Rush, her head held high and tone mocking, “What? Can't stand a little blood hunter?”

Glyph coughed, inhaled and forced himself to standing, weaving from the blood rush to his head though his eyes flashed with irritation, “Right me if you wish to fight, you two. Otherwise leave it. I'll not have blood shed over silly reasons and I am not in the mood to babysit. Grow up, both of you.” His tone was sharp, the tilt of his head proud as he regarded the pair, the hunter at his side unsure of where he ought to be.

Galdrin grumbled and dropped the fist he'd lifted as he shook his head, “She's got the manners of a dog, Shepherd.”

“And she saved my life. What cause do you have to strike her for that? If there is a problem with her manners, I will address it.” He arched a brow, frowning as he dared the other to gainsay that.

Rush was shaking her head, as the two stared one another down, opened her mouth to speak and Glyph lifted his hand, silencing her, “I did not ask you to speak, Rush. You do need to show more respect. Leave, Galdrin. I will speak to Rush. Take the carcasses back to camp, I'm sure you can use their hides. Tell the others to watch for these creatures.”

“I know how to do my job.” He rumbled, irritated, and gestured for the group to set about skinning the vargr.

“Good, see that you do.” Glyph responded shortly then gestured to Rush, “I wish to speak to you.”

“And if I say no?” She queried, almost flippantly.

“I said come.” Glyph shot her a look that made her flinch and she nodded, followed him a fair distance away. In the shadow of an ancient tree, he stopped and remained silent for a moment. This was neither the proper place nor time to speak such things but they needed to be said and so, he inhaled, waited for Rush's gaze to meet his before he began, “Firstly, thank-you for saving me – why they were chasing you in the first place, I don't know, but your help is appreciated. Second, Galdrin is right... you need to learn when to speak and when not to speak, same with your actions. His group disapproves of you because you are so very coarse –ah,” he held up a hand, “Let me finish before you speak. The mouth and those hands will get you in trouble if you do not learn restraint. You are lucky, Rush, that I do not demand titles and honours and structure as strongly as some of my kin... they are not so forgiving.” Greed immediately came to mind, as did Desert, even Underworld would likely be offended by this mortal's disrespect... and he did not want to see her punished if he could prevent it, “Call me Glyph, Forest, Green Man, Shepherd... or any of the other titles or names they have for me but do not be flippant. I am tolerant, yes, but I expect respect too. Understand?”

Rush grew more and more indignant as Glyph rambled on. Yes yes. Her words would bring her trouble, she'd heard that a hundred times. She hadn't been wrong either! Glyph was still holding his side! At the question, she huffed and nodded, knowing better then to draw this lecture out, “Aye. Understood.” She was no child! At least he hadn't demanded an apology from her.

“I'm not done yet.” Glyph cut across her thoughts, “I was thinking about what you said earlier... about not needing to be trained. You spoke truly. If you would not learn the magic, then guard the woods you wander. Be their warden, a ranger. I will ease your trips and provide for you when you need it, you have only to ask.” He smiled then, crossing his arms over his chest as he regarded her.

“A Warden?” She blinked, then eyed him, “No hocus pocus, no schools? No people?”

“None. Live as you want but tend where you live. That is what I ask.” He gave a slight shrug of the shoulders, “And thank the forest for the bounty it provides you.”

“... I'll have to think about it.” She replied thoughtfully.

“See that you do.” He smiled and gestured for her to come with him, “Let's head back. Those cuts need tending and you have yet to tell me how you managed to anger a trio of vargr.... and where the vargr are from.”

She saluted him then and laughed, “I'll tell you on the way.”

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.:: ||{...Taking Root Pt. 7...}|| ::.

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Everyone was gathered around for the evening meal, a rabbit stew sat boiling on the fire, the smell of cooking wafting over the hungry Planters. Glyph sat with his bowl full of roots and vegetables and berries that had been foraged in the croplands, happily nibbling away on some flavourful mushroooms. The people had been surprised when Glyph had refused meat for a meal, not understanding the concept of a vegetarian. It had made him smile as he explained why he didn't consume flesh, their gazes mildly confused and disbelieving as if he told a tale of a foreign creature. Still, they'd adapted quickly enough, bringing more shoots and roots, herbs, nuts, berries, anything that was good to eat.

“Shepherd?” A voice drifted over the table and he looked up from his meal, ears flicking forward, “Glyph. I'm told you want Damien to accompany you when you leave?”

Ah, Helen and beside her Rand. He had wondered when this topic would come up. Nodding, he sipped his mug of water before answering, “He wants to see the Pantheon, I said I would take him. He's also shown interest in the magic of the forest as well and I'd like to cultivate that to see if he has talent.” Forest looked around for the boy and frowned, “Where is he?”

Rand spoke next his tone deep and rich, powerful, “He's going without dinner tonight, he ignored orders and wandered off during the hunt, scared the buck we were hunting with a clumsy step. That is why we're having rabbit instead.” The man tilted his head towards the pot, obvious unimpressed with his boy's lack of tactical consideration, “He's barely fifteen now, Glyph, I don't want my boy taken just as he's approaching manhood. We've all survived a great deal while you've hidden away in your Pantheon... it's dangerous out here, the vargr are a perfect example.”

“Rand!” Helen spoke sharply and sighed, shook her head. It was true, though, some were wondering where the Gods had been when the mortals needed them most. She too wondered that and she also knew it would be foolhardy to drive one away with harsh words and disrespect – an angry god did not help either.

Glyph nodded, he'd heard the sentiments before, “We did not sit idle, Rand, while the worlds crumbled. Trust me. I was off world attempting to find means to stop Gehenna, as were the others. It was no easy task, we lost Universe in the process because we were not quick enough.” He gestured to the sky with its empty reaches dotted by Illumin's lights, tone soft and sad, “Remember that if the world is in chaos, we are very likely in trouble as well so it would be best not to assume we sit upon thrones wrought of gems waiting for supplicants to come. If I were to perish... forests everywhere would likely wither and crumble into nothing, for example. One is the other.” He spoke evenly, attempting to explain to the man before him and yet knew that as much as he illuminated the circumstances, they had lost and lost dearly, there would be no salve for that.

“Be that as it may, my question lies not in what you have done but in what you will do, Glyph. Can you protect him against the demons and rabid beasts and people driven mad by their experiences?” Rand's voice was even, unmoving... stubborn. It reminded Glyph very much of Damien and he hid the smile that flickered across his lips.

“We will be travelling through the woods and groves of the land as that is where my power is strongest. I will protect him, you have my word. We will not be alone, however, as I plan to bring Rush along as well. She has business at the Pantheon as well.” He smiled, “Rush is a very capable hunter, between the two of us he will be safe.”

Rand and Helen exchanged glances at that and shook their heads, Helen speaking for the both of them, “Damien and Rush do not get along, Glyph. Last time they argued, Damien's arm was nearly broken!”

“I know that. But Damien needs to learn to work with others and move past the pride that swells in his chest, and Rush needs to learn to control herself.” He replied easily, shaking his head, “Theirs is a rivalry, not a feud. I do not plan to travel with one and then the other, they will travel with me and in so doing hopefully grow.”

“I don't like this,” Rand objected, shaking his head, “Are you certain it is a good idea to make them travel together?” It was clear Damien's father saw a great many issues in pairing those two off and Glyph nodded.

“That is why I plan to work with them both soon, to gauge them. Rush is not a bad person, nor is Damien, they simply spark easily and as strong personalities as they are... that spark quickly inflames.” He paused a moment, “I don't intend to take them away without notice or practice.”

Rand regarded Forest evenly for several moments before he nodded, “Alright if you can prove they can at least travel together without harming each other then I will give my permission. Damien needs to learn of the wider world... and what better opportunity then to learn from the Gods of the Pantheon?”

Glyph flashed a broad smile at that and bowed his head, “Thank-you Rand.”

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-Rush and Damien attempt to work together
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-formation of the Forest Wardens, Glyph's departure, and the dedication of a family to the forest

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