Diary of Doctor Adam Machum, Chief Physician of St. Aaron Exploratory Group
Day Thirteen of the Second Month:
It has become abundantly clear that we are not going home any time soon. It has been four days now since we arrived in this forest and still not a clue as to how we got here. Last time I checked there were no forests in the middle of the Makadikadi, so I can only conclude that we have been transported to another part of the world.
This phenomenon alone is worthy of note, and warrants further exploration and investigation but since we haven't seen a single aircraft flying overhead, any sign of civilization, or received any sort of signal on our GPS, such documentation must wait until we know exactly where in the world we are.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of wild fruit growing here. Without the presence of our biologist, we recognize very little of it, but it has not proven dangerous to consume thus far, unless there is some delayed effect we have yet to experience. The most curious thing about these fruits is how large many of them are by comparison to the food normally purchased at a market.
I very much doubt that I'll be able to work out where on Earth we have wound up based on pure guess-work, so we shall press on further into the forest and try to locate something familiar.
Day Fourteen of the Second Month:
Further exploration has led us to determine that we must be deep in the uncivilized territories of one of the more expansive African jungles. There has been neither sight nor sound of any other people, nor indeed any identifiable wildlife. There are insects and other small animals, but despite his expertise, Dr. Forrester has been unable to give name to any of them, claiming they aren't like anything he has ever seen in his research.
Of more curious note however was the discovery of a small tree made of a soft, malleable wood that could be easily plucked off and to our astonishment eaten. It tasted sweet and slightly juicy, very much like the berries that adorned the foliage clinging to its bark.
We elected to make camp by the edible tree and gather as many of the berries and as much of the wood as possible, as it was unknown how long it would take us to reach civilization or indeed, how much food lay between us and our eventual destination.
Tomorrow, we press on through the forest. If by the end of the day we have not made contact with anyone, one of our members will attempt to scale one of the trees and spy for any landmarks that could guide us to safety.
Day Fifteen of the Second Month:
I confess, I am somewhat bewildered by what transpired today. Were it not for my entire collective beholding the same event, I might very well have questioned my sanity as might you dear reader, for what I am about to transcribe is so utterly fantastical that you may well dismiss this diary as a work of fiction.
After a mere half hours walk from the
I shall refer to it only as the 'edible tree', as the grim reality of what it might once have been makes my heart grow cold
after half an hours trudge from it, we discovered a creature that we believed only to exist in tales of fantasy; a Dryad.
Though her torso was the clear flesh and skin of a human woman, below the waist she was gnarled wood and roots
though even her human half still bore elements of the plant. Blunted spines protruded from parts of her arms, and her 'hair' was actually more akin to the foliage of a great tree.
However, our first meeting was not a mythical moment of beauty like you might expect from a film it was a horrifying sight; birds swarmed around her, darting back and forth as she swiped at them with her arms, bleeding from half a dozen cuts and sobbing in terror.
Without hesitating another moment, we ditched our baggage and drew forth our weapons. Though we had not intended to engage anything hostile on our expedition, we had still thought it prudent to prepare for the worst and now that prudence was paying off!
Dr. Forrester and Lord Arkov made straight for the birds, lashing out at them with cane and scimitar respectively, whilst I approached the Dryad herself and sought to place myself between her and the carrion.
No sooner had I reached her side than she had started mumbling in pain towards me, sobbing the same few words. It took me a few moments to realize she was saying 'the vines, the vines!' A cursory examination showed the exact same berries that had been growing on the soft wood from earlier were clinging to the trunk of the dryad as well as dozens of torn off vines scattered about on the ground.
It didn't take a genius to understand they weren't meant to be there, and with all the haste I could muster, I got to work with my machete. With the birds scattered by the assault of my colleagues, I was able to carefully hack apart the remaining vines and cleanse the body of the Dryad.
Her condition was not good, and she seemed barely able to keep conscious. Reassuring her that she was safe, and urging her to rest, she managed to stammer that her name was Jewlia before passing out. I have spent most of the afternoon treating her wounds and patching her up, but we will have to wait for the morning before we can find out more about her.
Day Sixteen of the Second Month
Truly, the physiology of this creature 'Jewlia' is like nothing I've encountered in any past experience or research. Given the fantastical nature of this world, this is hardly surprising but it's worth noting none the less. Wounds of the kind she sustained would take days or even weeks to fully mend in our world, but hers appear to be not only almost fully healed
but the minor wounds are themselves are now mere scars. Scars I might add which seem to visibly fade over a period of mere hours.
I cannot be certain if it is some natural quality of the Dryad, something in the soil or something about the way our medicine reacts with her flesh, but Jewlia is much recovered from the ordeal yesterday. She is a relentlessly chipper young lady when she's not being attacked and it would appear that the removal of those vines have provided her with an immeasurable amount of relief. From what she has explained, they passively feed on wood whether it be from a tree or a dryad and eventually make it soft enough that anything could tear off chunks with relatively little effort and devour it. A nightmare for a fusion of wood and woman such as her, and a discussion made all the more awkward from our earlier experience which we felt more comfortable to leave secret.
Jewlia was kind enough to offer us shelter by repositioning her roots in such a manner as to provide a sort of rudimentary cabin; a useful gesture given that it looks like it may rain rather heavily tonight. I find myself so overcome with a strange mixture of emotions.
To say that these last few days have been strange beyond belief would be an understatement, but not in an altogether bad way. The longer I stay here, the more I feel the dull realization that we shall probably never get home. Is it stranger still to say that I am not overly worried about it? Perhaps my mind shall change later, and I shall understand the gravity of my situation but at this rate, the wonders of this world may be enough to satiate the man of science within me enough to prevent total mental collapse.
After all, I'm sleeping at the base of a dryad. How bad could it be?
Day Seventeen of the Second Month
Despite my curiosity of this new world, I fear I must temper that feeling and suppress the urge to stray too far from Jewlia's side. I shared a long discussion with her last night which dragged on into today, the length of which I fear would be too great to document within this note-book. I am weary, and I wish to conserve the remaining ink in my pen for any particularly important revelations so I shall sum up.
For a gentleman of my stature; this world is a death trap. A beautiful, wondrous, exotic death trap and unlike on Earth, we humans are within this world on roughly the same level as chicken and cattle in ours. While not 'bred' or kept in farms, we are actively hunted by enormous predators both of the monstrous and demi-humanoid variety.
It was with no small amount of awkwardness that Jewlia admitted to me that humans are supposed to be the natural prey of Dryads she doesn't know this for certain, but has guessed as much by the way all her previous encounters with humans have ended with them running away from her as fast as possible. For someone who seems to have as little interest in eating people as Jewlia, I can only imagine that would be quite emotionally upsetting.
From what she tells me, Dryad repopulation is somewhat similar to that of a dandelion; when she was very small, the winds of her birthplace scooped her up and carried her far and wide eventually depositing her here in this largely untraveled area of the world. For someone raised in such isolation with only small amounts of contact with other sentient beings, I am astonished she has managed to develop such functional faculties.
She is exceptionally bright for someone with so little outside influence, and her boundless curiosity is matched only by her quick learning capabilities. She inquired about my 'skills', which I took to mean my medical practice. I was concerned that much of it would be gibberish to her, but she not only comprehended what I was saying; she retained it and referenced it later in the conversation. If only my students back at the academy were so attentive.
Perhaps it is some property of the soil, some property of her chemical composition or indeed some property of Jewlia herself but I find myself drawn to her. I'm not sure if it's simply because she is so utterly unique, but she has burrowed her way inside my mind and even mid-way through serious conversation about food and supplies with my colleagues, I find myself wanting nothing more than to walk away and speak to her again.
It could be that I simply need sleep.
Day Eighteen of the Second Month
There was some discussion earlier in the day on the topic of trying to find our way home a conversation cut off sharply when Jewlia informed us that the dimensional stability of this world is so fragile that it would be next to impossible to actually find a rift that would take us back to our own dimension.
Grim conversation though it was; we are explorers and scientists first and foremost, and we are nothing if not adaptable to change. I'm not completely certain on all the details as I was still desperately tired from the sleepless night prior, but it would seem by all accounts that there are indeed human inhabited civilizations situated throughout the wilderness. It would be a stretch to refer to most of them as 'safe', but our Dryad companion assures us that if nothing else, there is at least one perfectly safe city. Negav.
It didn't take long for the group to decide that Negav must be our next port of call something which I am not all that keen on. Would it be sheer madness to admit that despite the promise of such cultural experience, knowledge, and indeed 'safety'; I would much prefer to stay with Jewlia? She is such a sweet, gentle and caring soul as a man of medicine I find her manner to be nothing short of blissful. I would not describe my attraction as sexual, rather as one of kindred spirits
I do not wish to abandon my fellows but I do not wish to leave Jewlia's side either.
Thanks to the dark clouds above, I have managed to convince the group to stay for a day or two more so that we can wait for more opportune weather. After that
I shall have a very important decision to make.
Day Twenty One of the Second Month
Truly I have gone mad. Stark raving mad. It is a fact that my colleagues have been more than willing to inform me of; but I feel no shame in it.
Perhaps I should explain. Today, I said my farewells to the rest of my company, as they wished to make the journey to Negav while the weather is fair. More than one eyebrow was raised when I announced my intention to stay with Jewlia, but two very simple facts remain:
My colleagues are more practical men than I, and I would be entirely too curious about the surrounding landscape. In all probability I would slow them down
But that's the lesser of the two realities.
Jewlia has stolen my heart and I'm quite sure she feels the same way. We have done little else but talk for the last few rainy days, myself nestled amongst the leafy branches of her hair. She is one of the sweetest, more pure souls I have seen in all my days and that alone would've been enough to convince me to stay. This morning however, she began to
for lack of a better word, 'bloom'.
Berries are growing amongst her hair; a sign amongst Dryad folk that they are beginning to come of proper age. We took this as a sign
and we will be staying together from this point on.
I fear with my ever dwindling supply of ink and pages, my entries will become scarce. In the days to come, I shall be focusing my efforts on teaching Jewlia the intricacies of the medical craft; surgery, medicinal application and diagnosing diseases. I believe she will make an excellent student.
Day Fifteen of the Third Month
I swore to myself that I would update my journal only in times of great importance so as to not waste precious ink on irrelevant postulation; but this week has been significant enough to warrant a mention. It has been mere weeks since I began to instruct Jewlia on the art of medicine, and my prediction on the quality of her capabilities was more right than even I expected. Not only has she mastered basic elements of literature such as reading and writing, but her skill with surgery and medicine is a thing to behold.
Everything about her seems to have been grown for this purpose, and not just because of her sharp mind and ability to retain information. Biologically she is herself a living, breathing source of medical wonder as the fruits within her 'hair' produce a potent healing compound which thus-far I have found no limitations to. My experiments have been limited to wounded animals (and once to myself whilst taking a careless trip around the edge of a small lagoon), but the residue contained within has seemingly absorbed the natural healing properties of the soil granting them a more acute and direct healing use than the passive aura projected from the ground.
Perhaps the influence of the soil has also affected Jewlia's physiology. I know she is still relatively young by the standards of her kind, but she is rapidly growing as the days wear on; though it has not hurt her mind or body in any way. I am very proud of her; I believe within the next fortnight she will have reached my skill level something it would take my human students years to achieve.
I also never thought I'd be writing the words 'my human students'. Strange days.
It has been so long since my previous entry that I've entirely lost track of the date. It is irrelevant these days anyway as I shall never be returning to my old home, so why bother to waste time thinking on it?
Much has changed, but most pressingly I must express my thoughts on recent events. I have visited Negav several times since my last entry, and I cannot help but worry on the tales I am told by weary travelers and city guards on the 'habits' of dryads. It is said they are commonly regarded as terrors; eating any human who comes within reach and deceiving them to make them their prey.
I trust Jewlia with my life and I know she would never willingly inflict harm upon me
but had she taken the Hippocratic oath; she would have broken it today. While we exist in relative seclusion, my camp at the base of Jewlia's trunk was happened upon today by a roving group of bandits. They were either desperate or inattentive, as they did not notice until they were practically within striking distance before they realized that the 'tree' under which I was camping was in fact a dryad.
In a manner I have never seen her act before today, Jewlia moved with the speed and deftness that one wouldn't expect from a creature half-tree; snatching half of my attackers away before they had time to retreat. Whether it was a conscious thought or some preternatural instinct of her species, Jewlia flicked the bandits into her mouth and swallowed them without so much as a second thought. As the bulge of their bodies slid visibly down her throat, the remaining bandits scattered in panic leaving an awkward silence between the two of us.
However, any apprehension I may have felt did not dampen my feelings for her. I knew that this day would likely come and I'm glad that neither of our hearts has budged an inch in the way we see one another. If anything, I now feel more comfortable than ever leaving Jewlia alone on my trips to Negav for supplies. I shall be taking one in a few days since my ink is nearly expired and I'm nearly out of paper, I shall endeavor to collect some more.
I have a brilliant student, a loving partner and a supernatural beauty all rolled into one. The future is looking bright.
Found this in Adam's bag.
Don't know why I'm writing this, guess in case anyone reads it. In case anyone wants to know.
He's dead... I couldn't save him. I should've been able to, but I couldn't.
I don't know what attacked him he was covered in blood when he limped back to me, and all of it was his own. It's not fair! He was a good man; he didn't deserve this not at all.
And I failed him
He taught me everything I needed to know to save his life; he even told me I could do it as he lay there dying in my hand. I don't know what came over me. When I was practicing on the animals it was so easy, even that time he hurt his leg by the water was simple.
I failed him. I loved him so much, but I couldn't save him.
He taught me how to read, how to write, how to heal
He taught me so much, and he saved my life without knowing the first thing about me. He saved me but I couldn't save him. He wasn't mad when he died
He was just happy he was here with me.
He told me not to worry that I could take care of myself, and take care of any others I let into my heart. I couldn't save him
I failed him
But for him, I will be strong. I won't fail him again.