A/N: *Drake slithers into the studio on his belly* "What happened to you?" "Magnus, please help...no rest...four days..." "Right...I'll just go get Sigfred. Wait right here." *Magnus leaves* "Man, I hate it when I get too absorbed in my work. I'm so f***ed when I get home..." *Sigfred enters, helps Drake up* "Mr. Kanto! What have you been doing this whole time!? You look like a Zombie!" "Well, Sigfred, I've been so busy working on the Dryad one-shot that I just couldn't stop for anything else aside from my daily exercise. Hopefully I'll only make a masterpiece like this only once." *Pon enters the room* "Sir, we need the next one-shot ready by-what the hell!?" "Pon! Help me get him in his chair!" *Drake is seated by Pon and Sigfred* "Jeez, you know what too much creativity does to you, Sir!" "Yeah, but I just couldn't let this one-shot go unfinished. Excuse me while I...take a...nap...zzz." And that is basically how my week's been since the last chapter. I've gotten such a warm welcome from all the readers that I wanted to give you guys and gals a nice gift in the form of this extra-long (and I mean long) one-shot. Please read it however you wish and I'll tell you now that there is a bit of Werewolf in this (don't ask how that got in there, it just turned out that way). I'm still open for requests, so please keep them coming!
“...Be sure that your chosen partner is in contact with you once the marked time has come.”
I look at the letter with skepticism. This one seems different from the usual appreciation that I get for my work. It's also stamped with the the seal of the Griffon, a noble house that I'm not familiar with. Nevertheless, I don't have the time to waste in chasing false claims, nor do I have the intent. Brushing it aside, I tuck it into my inner coat pocket and continue my work. It's only been about a week or so since I started my excursion into this forest, but it still feels like I've just arrived. Clearly, this forest is well-kept by the powers that may be. I feel a slight bit of guilt for taking so much out of the environment here, but as a scientist sometimes these sacrifices have to be made. Currently, I've collected plenty of mushrooms, herbs, tree bark, and flowers to last for a month, but the one thing I'm lacking is a hint of magic; specifically an Alraune's nectar. I had a seed with me the last time I was back home, but I just can't resist trying to help my son follow the family business. I smile at the thought with pride that he is discovering his talent in the same way that I did. Since I don't have the nectar, I'll just have to make do with something else. I take a quick look around my immediate area, hoping to find something of interest. Sadly, there's nothing here that I don't already have. I continue walking forward, but the trees somehow start to look more menacing than usual.
“Leave now. I won't allow you to destroy the forest any further...” A voice resonates in my ears.
“Hm?” I stop my pace to listen more closely.
“You have disturbed us all enough. Leave now, and your punishment will be dismissed...” The voice whispers again.
“...Huh. Interesting...” I muse to myself.
The voice stops and the ominous feeling that surrounds me disperses. Not one to listen to warnings anyway, I continue on my path without hesitation. As my unfortunate habit dictates, I reach into my front pocket and pull out a pack of cigarettes. I light one with my favorite silver Zippo lighter, always carefully maintained. I don't smoke often, but it's been growing on me as I spend more and more time away from home. The thoughts of my son being alone scares me, despite the undeniable fact that the neighbor girl is always with him. I worry for him since he doesn't like to let others get too close into his personal life, just like I am now. I take a sympathetic drag of my cigarette and puff out some smoke rings while aimlessly watching the clouds roll by. The way their leisurely pace taunts us is one of the reasons why I came here in the first place.
“A family dedicated to chasing dreams, huh? Well, don't mind if I do.” I give a small smirk to myself, a bit proud of my heritage given its far-fetched mission.
Having finished my smoke, I stub it out on a nearby tree carefully so that it doesn't ignite the bark. The discarded butt falls to the leaf-covered forest floor with a slight waft of smoke rising from it, the last signs of a once-lively flame. I bend down to pick up my litter, but the sounds of rustling causes me to act otherwise. Eyes darting back and forth across the underbrush, I cautiously snake a hand into my coat as I resume picking up the cigarette butt. The trees are starting to sway ominously as they did an hour ago, except this time I feel a faint anger in the air. The scent of sweet nectar permeates the vicinity and my body shakes against the creeping presence of magical energies. I deposit the discarded cigarette into a plastic bag and stuff it into my coat pocket. My other hand is grasping one of many glass jars hidden on my person. The rustling gets louder and spreads out to surround me, escalating the tension along with my heartbeat.
Out of seemingly nowhere, several pairs of gleaming amber eyes peer out from behind the trees accompanying the growing sound of strained panting. A faint howling is heard as more of the beasts take their positions in the growing circle that I am unwittingly trapped in. All around me, a pack of Werewolves has gathered with only one purpose: mating. Seldom do I ever deal with Werewolves, but I've had plenty of experiences with other monster races. A large portion of my ingredients are taken from monsters, after all. One Werewolf, likely the acting leader, takes a few steps towards me from her position in the circle. Her fierce topaz eyes shine differently from the rest of the pack and her free-flowing silver hair sets her apart from her pack's ruffled style. I move my hand to a different jar, filled with a special potion that I prepared for 'mobbing' situations.
“What a lovely scent you have, Human. It sets me off in just the right way, and I'm sure my sisters would agree as well.” She smiles seductively as her pack members howl in approval.
“Your point? I doubt that any of you have the nerve to attack me...” I taunt in response, hoping for them to all leap at me.
“Defiance...hot. And you're not too bad of a looker either. I'll take you up on that challenge. Everyone, with me!” The leader shouts with a compelling tone as her pack mates crouch down, ready to pounce at any moment.
“Bad move, lady. This could have been settled peacefully...” I offhandedly declare.
In an instant, the whole pack descends upon me with their ragged clothes flying off in mere seconds. Their eyes grow hazy with a bestial lust as they let their claws out to tear apart my clothing. My coat and collected materials are both seized, torn from my body as the Werewolves scatter them on the ground. For a short moment, the attack stops as my attackers stare in surprise and wonder at my uncovered outfit. Glass bottles and vials are strapped all over my body with various liquids contained in each one. In my hand is a potion holding a pinkish solution, uncapped and letting out a familiar smell to the Werewolves. The leader, once so confident in her pack's abilities, now looks at me with caution. The others follow suit as they slowly back away and re-form a tighter circle around me.
“You know what this is, don't you?” I gently shake the potion in my hand.
“T-That's going too far! Not even us monsters would be able to handle such sensations. Just smelling that is making us go crazy!” She pleas, hoping that I don't make a drastic move.
“Exactly. Only a master-class alchemist like myself would be able to make such a concentrated potion. Did I mention that this is all made from the cores of Wrapping Vegetables?” I glance around at my former attackers.
Some of the more ambitious Werewolves start to take a few paces towards me, but their leader stops them with a bellowing “Stay!”.
“If we let you go, will you put that away?” She asks me.
“Only if I can have two things: my coat full of ingredients, and some private time with you, my dear.”
The lead Werewolf blushes lightly at my sudden proposal. She tries to look away from me while stealing a few sparse peeks at my face. To be honest, it's somewhat of a cute spectacle.
“...F-Fine. I'll help you w-with...whatever you need me for.”
“Excellent choice. The rest of you may leave us now. Don't worry about her, she'll be back to you very shortly.” I assure her pack when they give me looks of mixed emotion.
“Everyone is jealous now. Do you realize just how much of a power struggle you just created?” She tries to sound angry with me, but it comes out more wanting than anything.
“Don't know, don't care. Come with me to my workshop.”
“So...how did your pack find me out there?” I inquire while I walk into the next room to get a few tools.
“Originally, my pack and I were out hunting for food like usual. Then, one of my younger sisters told me about a sweet smell that she picked up in your direction. As we followed the trail, there was this really angry-looking plant person who told us about some things you did. I doubt that any of us listened though; all we cared about was the fact that you were an unclaimed Human. After that, you know the rest.” The pack leader explains, leaning from her place atop the operating table to peek at me.
I return to the table with a pair of scissors, a straight razor, some empty flasks, and a metal tray. With all my tools ready, I can finally start the operation. It never occurred to me prior to this morning that I had collected almost nothing from the local Werewolf population in this forest. I organized a meeting with one of the more politically-involved packs, but meeting this new pack is an unexpectedly refreshing change. Having a pack leader to help me is also a nice bonus to my work since I'll be able to obtain the purest parts that aren't available anywhere else.
“Well, are you ready?” It sounds more like a command than a question, probably more so since I have sterile gloves on.
“Just...be gentle. It's my first time doing this...” She whispers to me lying down on the table.
“...Before we begin, could you tell me your name?”
A simple question, but it's purpose in this procedure is crucial: diversion.
“My name is...Shanaaaaaa...” She slurs as I start rubbing the fur on her legs and slowly bunching it together.
“Good, just like that. I'll tell you a little bit about myself, okay?” I adopt her sensual whisper into my own voice.
“Yahah...ooh...please...go...ahh...aheaaaad.” Shana is starting to moan in a low voice, interestingly enough.
“Let's start with my name: Alexander Vermouth Wales. I may look like any other handsome man to you, but at one point, I was indeed married; to a Human woman.”, I take some time to cut off the bunched fur with scissors, “We bore a son, Damon, who is destined to follow in my footsteps as we speak. My wife died three years after Damon was born, so I raised him on my own and taught him how to take charge of his life. Let's just say that he learned a little too quickly about the finer points of life during my instruction.”
I laugh, but it's an even tone; one that is neither bittersweet nor proud. A few more snips, along with Shana's moaning, and I collect a fair amount of Werewolf fur to use in my experiments. I tried not too cut off too much despite my desire for more. The result of the trimming is a more sleek, gentle look to her fur instead of the rough mess that I started with. Silver Werewolf fur is a rare item to find, but I am fortunate that Shana agreed to let me take some of hers.
I set the scissors down and pick up the straight razor. With a careful motion, I begin to slowly scrape off tiny bits of Shana's claws from all four of her limbs. Amazingly, she doesn't feel any pain from it; on the contrary, it seems more ticklish to her. Shana tries to keep our conversation going, but between her squirming and laughing, that just seems impossible. Luckily, I've dealt with far worse volunteers in the past, so I collect the claw shavings fairly quickly. In addition, my shaving has the added benefit of sharpening her claws by removing the older, less-structured layers.
I pack up all of the fur and the claw shavings into separate flasks once my work is finished. Shana sits up on the operating table with a lusting look in her eyes. I knew she would want to attack me sooner or later, so I merely reach for a certain vegetable juice hanging from my belt. At the sight of it, the Werewolf timidly withholds herself and gets off the table in a strained manner. She looks similar to a dog about to be abandoned by its owner, but then again I'm not her owner and she is not my dog. Without wasting any more time, I take her by the hand and escort her to the front door. Shana looks up at me with teary eyes, hoping for more time with me. My stern expression is immune to her pitied charms, but I offer her a sliver of leniency against my strictly-imposed rules.
“Our time together is over. You have no more reason to be here. It's best for you to go back to your pack now.”
“But...can't I just...stay here with you?” Shana pleads once more.
“No. I've already made it clear that I'm not interested in you.”
“Aaauuuu~...” Her low whimpering strikes a chord in my heart, somehow.
“However, if you and your pack would like to be my assistants in collecting herbs around the forest, then you all may sleep outside of my cabin.” I put emphasis on the sleeping arrangements to avoid any misinterpretation.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! We'll move in right away, Boss!”
Giddy with excitement, Shana drops to all fours, flings open the door, and shoots into the wilderness at high speeds. I simply lean against the door frame grinning at my accomplishment. No ordinary man has the initiative to tame a pack of wild Werewolves, but then again, I'm far from ordinary. I head back inside to look for a certain item in my knapsack. A moment this unique deserves some kind of reward, even if I have to give and receive it.
“Ah, '56 Reserve...my favorite.” I say aloud as I look at the wine bottle.
“First, you tear apart the forest for your ghoulish 'experiments'. Then, you have the nerve to pollute the air with your smoking. Now, you're going to dirty the soil by drinking alcohol!?” A powerful voice wails at me.
“Ach! Jeez, don't be so loud right before I start drin...king?” I nearly drop my glass when it's not Shana who I am speaking to.
“Such disrespect for your surroundings! I should have dealt with you personally instead of letting those beasts screw it up! You'll leave this forest...now!” The newcomer threatens with magic in her voice.
She looks...odd, to say the least. I've seen many a monster girl in my time, but this is the first that I've seen someone like her. Her appearance almost had me mistake her for a Human, if I didn't notice the way she was wrapped around a tree. Lush green hair, modest breasts, and clothing only in the form of an emerald camisole are all that I can see on her form. Just like she is wrapped around the tree, the inverse is also true as the tree's vines, branches, and roots seem to be fusing with her. Shana mentioned an 'angry plant person' talking to her pack, but I never imagined how true that statement was. This 'plant person' matches the description perfectly, and it looks like she's perpetually angry which means I probably won't have any time to enjoy a relaxing drink.
“I don't know what kind of authority you have, but I doubt it's enough for me to care.” I bitterly tell her, stowing my wine back into the knapsack.
“You are speaking to a Dryad, the spirits of the forest! It wouldn't go far to say that we are the forest itself!” She shouts again.
“Inside voice, please. I know you're mad, but could you at least have some civility?” I sarcastically request.
“Fine. I still don't like you, Wales, but I can see that you're not completely savage.”
I step back inside to make some tea which I offer to the Dryad, but she declines.
“I understand why you'd get so worked up over my actions, but surely you must have figured out that I'm not at all a bad person.” I bring a chair outside to sit in front of the Dryad.
“I wouldn't be so sure. You took whole flowers out of their places, stripped many trees of their bark, and even polluted the forest with cigarette ashes. I would blame you for taming Shana's pack, but frankly I don't like them either.” The Dryad's mask is starting to crack.
“I only took things that I knew would grow back. The flowers will be replanted with the seeds that I gather and the trees will be fine. I'll try to abstain from smoking outside of my cabin as well. But can you really fault me for chasing my dreams?” I steer the conversation to a more personal level.
“You said your family is dedicated to 'chasing dreams'. What does that mean?” The Dryad shifts her pose to more seated position.
“My family is known for its mastery in alchemy. We are famed for our ability to create potions from the most mundane to the most scarce of ingredients. However, despite our potential, we prefer to use our skills in chasing impossible miracles. For example, my dream is ensure my son can experience an eternity of happiness.” I genuinely smile at the thought of realizing my lifelong dream.
“But, all living things eventually die. It's as you said: impossible.” The Dryad sounds saddened, almost sympathetic towards me.
“Difficult, but not impossible. I've experimented for decades and I've come closer than ever to my dream. I wanted to let my wife experience it with me, but she died far too soon...”, a lone tear falls from my face in remembrance, “However, I won't let my son feel the same pain again! That is why I've been doing all these 'misdeeds' in your forest. I would do anything for my family; surely you must understand that too.” I look to the Dryad who stares back with empathy.
“...I'm sorry. I jumped to conclusions without ever considering your situation. I too want to know the feeling of being family, but most travelers won't even talk to me like you are.”
“It's a lonely world, after all. The best we can do is find companionship in each other. You're an...interesting woman, you know that? I don't feel so alone here if I can talk to you.”
“Are you...propositioning me? I also find you attractive, but going that far is-”
“I didn't mean it like that, but if that's where we end up then so be it. Let's just take this relationship one step at a time for now.”
I extend my hand which the Dryad meets in a soft handshake, but it feels like something more with the way she looks at me. In some random coincidence, the letter that I received recently comes to the forefront of my thoughts.
“By the way, would you like to go to a party with me? I'm sure we'll have plenty of fun there.” I ask my new companion, giving her the letter to read.
“...Yes. I would very much like to spend the evening with you.”
A/N: "...And that, class, is how you tame monster girls. A silver tongue, charming looks, and strictness are key in this exercise. Now, who would like to practice? Yes, you there!" "Sir, with all due respect, why are you acting out a classroom scene?" "Shush, Pon, it's part of my recovery. I need this to off-set my gaming therapy." "Whatever you say, crazy." Indeed, this was a good story. I wanted to trim it down or even rewrite the whole thing, but looking at it as a whole, I rather like it. Now, I didn't mention it last chapter because I forgot, but this one-shot is the introduction of a miniseries made up of the last four one-shots. Credit goes to ObeliskX for giving me the foundation for the miniseries as well as providing suggestions for nearly all of the one-shots in this series! Sorry for not mentioning you sooner, my friend. I hope you aren't too upset. Moving to other news, there's only four one-shots left now, so I hope you've all enjoyed yourselves up to this point! See you all next time for the Mimic one-shot!