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Dead Flowers

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Muriel was of the Meliae, the ash wood nymphs of the forests. It was they who had nursed the Great and Mighty Zeus when he was little but a babe, they who had given birth to the Bees that protected and created the flowers, and they who now whispered dreams of Fire and Glory into the ear of Alexander III of Macedon. Something similar in concept to a hamadryad, her life was bound inexplicably to an ashen coloured tree deep within the recesses of an ancient, forgotten forest, where she, hundreds of her sisters, and other fantastic and forgotten creatures called home.

Of all of the tree nymphs that lived within the forest, she alone was the most extroverted. Bright, bubbly and happy, she was always laughing, smiling and constantly led the others in some game or song.

Then, one day, everything of her life would change for eternity.

A man known as Amren the sixth of Athens visited the forest. Few men had the bravery to set foot in the unknown regions of the world, where mystical creatures made their homes, but he was no ordinary man. He had little understanding of, or need for, the concept of fear.

Rather, he was a skilled diplomat, one of the most successful of all in Athens. His words were honeyed, and gave way to a tapestry of intricately drawn words and concepts that few could resist in seeing it in his light. Under his guidance, the city-state prospered, seeing new trade that it had never dreamed of, skilled workers coming from abroad, and even the Hellenistic teachings found new life among the tribal clansmen of the hills, allowing for increased trade and prosperity between them and the city.

For all his skills with words, however, his heart fell to one weakness: women. His first marriage he had taken so long with the courtship that he had begun to worry about growing grey hairs before they were wed, but once he had been truly and utterly convinced that he was in love, they were wed.

It took years until the first cracks in their love were made. At first, he simply brushed it off (It was only natural to stare at other women on the streets, surely? I found myself drawn to that woman because she looked so much like my wife.).

But soon, the weaknesses in the foundations of their marriage compromised its integrity and, after ten years of being wed, she left him. Divorce was not permitted, not once the vows were taken in front of the gods themselves, but she simply left. Vanished from the city. Few thought him capable of murder, but she was gone, never to be seen again.

After two more attempts at relationships, Amren visited the forests where Muriel and her sisters made their home. Finding Muriel and seeing all the wondrous things about her, Amren became obsessed with her. He would visit near daily, finding that mortal women were no longer able to capture his interest enough.

Between his eternal skill with words, and her outgoing and flirtatious nature, their courtship was brief, but unbelievably passionate. With ardent and meaningful promises of everlasting love and fidelity, she renounced the trees, and immortal life, and leapt into his arms.

Amren wasn't a bad man, by any means. He sincerely believed that this was it, that all of his love of women had all been meant to guide him towards a supernatural love, that he had been tested with his other relationships by the gods, to see if he was truly ready for a love of the tree nymph. At long last, surely a Meliae would conquer his wanderer's heart.

Muriel was truly a remarkable woman, more then worthy of a loving mate who would fulfil all of the promises that had been made to her. She quickly became the joy of the city-state, telling fantastic stories of mythology. It is through her that the stories of the Meliae are still known, those of the tree and sea nymphs, and many of the stories of the Gods upon Mount Olympus.

Tragically, the relationship was short-lived.

Within months, she found him having an affair with a slave girl. Again, his words convinced her to stay. (It was a mistake, surely. He had made a mistake, had a moment of weakness.). It had happened again and again, and every time her heart was shattered. Even his skill with words wasn't enough eventually, and within their second year of marriage, their relationship unravelled.

Muriel was crushed, utterly and completely. Not only had her love been unfaithful time and time again, and broken her heart, but she had forsaken immortality for nothing. Now she would grow grey hairs and die in the cities like an ordinary human, while her sisters danced in the forests for eternity. This revelation shattered the whole of her being, driving her all but mad knowing the weight of what she had sacrificed. She abandoned Amren, and she too disappeared. He and his family would search for her for many years, but would come up with nothing.

She became obsessed with regaining herself, with becoming a Meliae once more. Such a feat was thought impossible, having never been done before, not since before the Titans themselves had created them. For her, it was the only possible compensation there was for what she had suffered. It was the only way she could forgive Amren, was if everything went back to the way it was.

In her desperation, she would discover the path to Hades itself, and would make the trip dozens of times, conversing with many of the strongest beings that the ancient prison held. Titans, monsters, creatures of shadow and darkness, it didn't matter to her. Anyone who could even slightly further her goal of immortality was worthy.

The life of a Meliae was inexplicably bound to that of her tree. When the tree inevitably dies off, she dies with it... unless the life of the tree is carried on through its seeds, into the roots of its saplings. Because of this, they are all but immortal, unless a very deliberate and staged plan is made to kill them.

And it was finally, after nearing the end of her mortal life, that she found a way. Setting a highly staged plan, she infiltrated Tartarus and made contact with one of the four sons of Iapetus and, in turn, one of the four forebearers of humanity, Menoetius, and it was he who struck with her the bargain that would enable her to return to immortal life.

Falling to mortality, the connection between Muriel and her tree was severed. But few things in this world are permanent, what has sunk may rise, and what has risen may sink. The words of Menoetius, together with her own blind ambition towards immortality made one thing clear. The connection had to be mended.

She returned to the forests, and burned her own tree, along with all but one seed, which she brought back to the Titan. Even trapped as they were, Titans were unbelievably powerful creatures, and Menoetius had little trouble mending her connection, with all other windows into her tree of life destroyed.

But she didn’t become a Meliae; She became something new. She became darkness incarnate.

She, at last, returned to Athens, to find Amren a toothless old man. Upon seeing her, he froze completely, having assumed her to have taken her own life in grief. Instead she looked much as she did when she was a tree nymph, but now was dark and tainted, covered in rotted vines that had once been alive and virile. Upon grabbing him in her terrible rage, he screamed, as he too became a shadow of his old self; a negative image, much like she was.

Now she still wanders, looking for anyone she can exhibit her terrible wrath upon, twisting them too into terrible darkness, making them in her image. Somewhere in Hades itself, her tree still grows, and so does her influence.

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