Background: Briar Maidens

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  • Briar Maidens

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    Twice and twice alone did I encounter the rarest and fairest of forest
    maidens. Though in truth it was only on later review I could
    attribute them with earthly origin, for on beholding them I was certain
    the heavens had opened and goddesses fallen from the skies.
    They rode into a dew-covered spring morning, stealing through the
    forest as gently and silently as twilight. Startled though I was by their
    approach, so very different from the Hunt, my alarm swiftly faded
    to be replaced with awe. As they advanced, the forests themselves
    seemed to reach for those celestial beings; new buds appeared and
    bloomed, grasses sprouted from bare earth and tree limbs thickened
    and writhed as if in ecstasy.
    I found myself held fast by plant and root, yet it was a playful captivity
    with none of the hostility of my first such experience. As I struggled
    to free myself and they drifted away again as mysteriously as they had
    arrived, one flashed a look over her shoulder. A more mischievous and
    alluring smile I have never witnessed – were I to write for a thousand
    years, I could not do it justice in words.
    Filled with desire, I attempted to learn more of these beguiling fairies.
    The responses to my queries ranged from dismissal to stern warning,
    which I could not comprehend. Fear was not an emotion I could associate
    with the vision in the spring wood. I resolved to see again for
    myself. It was autumn before I had my second and last opportunity,
    pursuing a half glimpsed apparition as quietly as I could through the
    falling red-gold leaves.
    Only when they turned did I realise my mistake. Only when they
    ringed me tight with eyes that flashed like the gathering autumn
    storms and the tips of their thorny spears pressed in close did I understand
    the danger. Terror gripped me: those beautiful faces were
    filled with an alien temper, one that told me I was as easily snapped
    as a brittle twig. My eyes closed, expecting to never open again. Next
    I knew I had fallen to my knees in an empty clearing, trembling with
    uncontrolled relief. Beware, traveller beneath the trees, and know
    that beauty and danger oft entwine.

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