Thornstaff and Ryjah are sent by the druid circle to answer the King’s request for aid when it comes to the mysterious song that is causing so many people to vanish into the depths of the forest never to return.
They proceeded to discuss the goings-on of their territories, everyone got a turn and told things that they had succeeded on, threats they had driven out that others should look out for, and so on. When it was Thornstaffs turn, he signed nothing to report. She had to bite her tongue and stare at the ground very hard so that she wouldn’t giggle. It was so much fun to see Thornstaff sign again. He only did that when he was so angry that he couldn’t talk. She had loved to do that to him in her apprentice days.
The meeting broke up soon after and the racially segregated groups slowly began to mingle though they remained in pairs. Goodberry beckoned Thornstaff and Ryjah over to him. Thornstaff got there first and was already protesting when she got there. She waited politely for once, if only because she was curious about their conversation.
“-thinking?” He growled, “I told you that I would join the druids but I was never going to be a part of your formal missions or assignments or whatever it is you call them. I protect my own land. Nobody else's. I refuse to-”
“Thornstaff, please. I know that was our agreement, but I need you to take this assignment. He asked for our strongest druid, and we all know who that is.”
Ryjah bit off a cheeky comment as Goodberry continued, “You would be our leader if you would accept such a position,”
“There are more qualities necessary for a leader than power,” Thornstaff growled.
“Please. Just this once. If you won’t do it for the king, then will you do it for me? As your friend?” Goodberry pleaded.
There was a long silence before Thornstaff finally growled, “Fine, but if this happens again then I am leaving your druids.”
“Understood. Thank you, Thornstaff.” Goodberry said with relief that could not have been more obvious, “Ryjah, you’re here. I’m not entirely happy with your going. You are our newest druid of only a year.”
“What better way is there to gain experience than to go out and get it?" Ryjah argued, "Besides, I was apprenticed under Thornstaff, of all people, I know how to handle myself.”
“And yet you still have not learned to behave,” Thornstaff muttered.
“You wanted a volunteer and you got one. Don’t start complaining now,” Ryjah said, folding her arms.
Goodberry sighed, “The King says that there is something strange going on in the forest. His rangers have been disappearing. Some say it’s a ghost, others, a walking tree, they say that there is music in the forest and the lights lead the way.”
“A siren and the wisps?” Thornstaff asked, looking troubled.
Goodberry nodded, “That is what it sounds like, I haven’t dared to mention this to the king though.”
“A siren? But those are all by the coasts. How would one get so far inland?” Ryjah asked.
‘She’s too young and inexperienced for this.” Thornstaff muttered.
“We aren’t likely to find any others. Besides, her background as an Earl's daughter might prove profitable to you,” Goodberry said, ignoring both her's and Thornstaff's confusion. What did being an Earl's daughter have to do with anything? She wondered as he continued, “And there must be two of you, at least. Sirens do live on the coasts, Ryjah, but there is another creature called by the same name because they have similar abilities though the sea sirens do not have the aid of the wisps. The tree siren calls to its victims through the wisps and when they get close, they hear the music of the tree itself, which is almost impossible to escape. The tree is always in a small paradise that invites the victims to relax and fall into a deep sleep and then they are eaten by the tree. There is always a guardian of the tree as well, usually a vampire. It’s a horrible way to die, Ryjah.”
“How do you know so much about them?”
Goodberry fell silent and looked uncomfortable for a few moments. Thornstaff smirked and seized the chance to get back at him for the unwanted assignment, “That’s how we met. He was lured in by the siren and I had to save him.”
“How come you weren’t lured in as well?”
Goodberry chuckled, “Thornstaff has a heart of stone and a stubbornness that you couldn’t scratch, not even if you spent the next hundred years hacking at it with a hammer. In other words, he wasn’t affected.”
Ryjah chuckled, “If he really had a heart of stone then he would have left you to die."
“Where is it?” Thornstaff said abruptly.
“You will have to get more information from the King himself. That was all he would give me. His Majesty said to send you to his court tomorrow morning so that he could prove to his nobles that he is making progress on the disappearances in the forest. During that, he will divulge to you the rest of the pertinent information and I presume that you will have to tell him our suspicions. You are to go four hours after the dawning.”
Thornstaff glowered at him, “You didn't say anything about having to go to court.”
“No, and for good reason you silly old loner!” Goodberry said with a smile.
For some reason she couldn’t quite understand, Thornstaff looked concerned.