There was a face in the tree. It rippled up the branches and into the leaves, finally coming to a stop in the soft white flowers. There it would wait, until an unsuspecting bee or wasp landed on the delicate petals searching for pollen. Then: gulp! The insect would be swallowed whole by the face, with not even a furred black leg or crystal-like wing left as proof that it was ever there. Once full, the face would retreat down to the roots of the tree and hide. Hide away from the sharp senses of the woodland huntresses, with their sharp, hooked nails and unrivaled speed at climbing trees: dryads, the protectors of the wood. They had been chasing the face for more years than it could remember, ever since it had stole away from them one night when it was little more than a babe.
You see, the face was once a male dryad, and it was well known amongst all dryad kind, from those in the great wilds to those in small country woods, that a male babe was an omen that the woods would soon die. Fearing that her sisters would turn on the babe, the face’s mother placed it by the road where humans often passed by, in the hopes that it would be found and cared for by them. But seeking its mother’s breast as all infants do, the face had crawled back to dryad’s dwellings in search of her. There it was discovered by the dryad queen, who, repulsed by all it represented, sought to gauge it to death with her savage nails. Yet the earth did not wish the babe to die, and granted it the power to become one with the woods, with only its face ever visible. It eluded the queen, and rippled across the ground and out of sight. Angered and fearful of what it might do, the queen ordered her sisters to seek it out and kill it on sight.
Soon after, the trees of the dryads’ dwellings began to fade. They could not see that it was their own neglect doing so, and not the babe. For the babe was now a face, and no longer a dryad at all. While the trees of the dryads died, the trees the face inhabited thrived, growing tall and strong for another year.