Saving the Balance

It was a fine day when I set out to visit my friends, the Druids of Amaranthia. I was aware that they weren't always at the Grove, for there are but two members currently and they are always moving about, seeking to protect not only the fauna inhabitants, but the flora as well. Luck was on my side however, for they had not set out on their daily rounds. One certainly salutes their strength, for though they severely lack manpower, they certainly make it up with their dedication and courage.

"Hello, friends. And how are you this fine morning?" I hailed Pandaba and MoonPrincess cheerfully as they came out to meet me. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and it was not long before I expressed my willingness to accompany them on their patrol. "After all, just because I haven't found that magic within me doesn't mean I can't help out any or every guild," I said, smiling.

Pandaba and MoonPrincess graciously accepted my help, and I agreed to wait as they went to retrieve their staffs and their familiars. An introduction followed, and I was very glad to finally meet Silverwisp and VelvetStorm, with the latter greeting me with exuberance and affection, while the other with more seriousness and curiosity. Strongheart, however, was probably a little shy and hid behind the Archdruidess the whole time, refusing to come out. "We try to take it gently with him, you know, after…" Pandaba's explanation trailed off with a meaningful glance. I'd heard about the accident that befell his family, in which Strongheart was the only survivor.

We set off through the forests, stopping here and there as the druids checked on some of their charges while their companions frisked around joyfully, but always wary and protective of the druids. "And I always thought it was the other way round," I remarked to MoonPrincess as Pandaba was drawing the forest magic with her staff, focusing it around a plant that was in an oddly-coloured bubble around it. She smiled and said, "In a way, it is. For we also protect them, as they protect us. Don't underestimate them, especially Strongheart's claws, for though he was shy and wary of you, he can become quite ferocious when one of us is threatened, even if he is half your size."

Pandaba rejoined us with a sigh. "The Begonia eiromischa is well for now. Let us proceed."

Umm… "The what?"

She gestured at the plant with the bubble-thing. "The Woolly-stalked Begonia. It's from a tropical climate, which is why we put it in a protective bubble that acts as a mini-greenhouse as well. We're hoping we can find the female counterpart of this plant as not many plant species are self-pollinating, but…" A moment's hesitation. "If we can't, that will be the last species member to ever survive. The rest, as we understand it, were completely destroyed because of an agricultural alteration."

Absorbing this information, I replied sadly, "Humans are overpopulating this Earth, destroying the ancient homes of others for their own comfort and commerce. It is terrible what we're doing, to prosper at the expense of the other species of the Earth."

"True, and many flora and fauna species are already extinct before things were done about them. So many things our future generations will not be able to see except in books and museums. The balance is tipping, and we've charged ourselves with tipping it back, no matter how futile it seems."

We continued on, stopping here and there as the druids looked on their various flora charges, preferring to let the fauna have the wildness of freedom unless their welfare was seriously threatened, like Strongheart. Speaking of whom, I had been trying to charm him during the journey, and I think I was gradually beginning to get to him. However, the dear thing still hid behind the ones he was familiar with, particularly Pandaba or Silverwisp, whenever I tried to get him to come closer. Annoying cute stuff. :)

But suddenly, Silverwisp, and then VelvetStorm and Strongheart, whisked their heads around in a particular direction. Without warning, they ran, leaving us to race after them as fast as we could. As soon as we saw the hunger on the face of the nursing monkey, we knew. The mother was having a hard time gathering food, which was strange. In my experience, the mother was always very aggressive when nursing and could not possible have lost in a tug-o-food.

Remembering, I quickly removed the container of nuts I brought from my backpack, and moved slowly towards them. However, perhaps a bad experience with a goblin or troll made it fearful, for even sorely tempted with the tribute of food, it backed away. I was hesitating, not sure what to do, when a furry paw curled around the container. It was Strongheart, staring at me solemnly, his eyes questioning. Understanding, I nodded and let go of the container, allowing him, instead, to offer the nuts to the scared monkey. Strongheart advanced slowly but halfway, then, placing the container on the ground, backed away again. The monkey, seizing the opportunity, made it to that halfway mark and made off with the nuts.

Only then did we breathe a sigh of relief. The monkey might not have trusted us enough yet, but it might, someday. I hugged the returning Strongheart, who now didn't seem to mind at all as he snuggled up to me, nudging his head into my stomach. The other four surrounded us, beaming, and I had the strangest feeling of victory.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was peaceful, and we trudged back to the Grove with a lighter heart. As I waved goodbye and started on the return journey to Aisling's Place, I reflected on the fruitful day and wonder about tomorrow, the day after, and beyond.

Finis –


The Begonia eiromischa, commonly known as Woolly-stalked Begonia, is a presumed extinct plant from Malaysia. It occurred at granite rocks in an altitude of 170 m in the proximity of dipterocarp forests. Begonia eiromischa is only known from two collections made in 1886 and 1898 at Pulau Betong, Penang Island in Malaysia. Its habitat is completely destroyed due to agricultural alteration. Despite of extensive surveys it could not be rediscovered and so it was officially declared extinct by the IUCN in 2007. (Source: Wikipedia, retrieved 17th May 2008)