Young Jacob Hurst would like me “to put to bed, once and for all, the actual involvement (or non-involvement) of salt dryads in the formation of the Lechugilla Caverns”
Well of course I can, I could have done that at any time from memory.
Of course the only reason the Lechuguilla caverns exist is because of the deal struck between the hydrocarbon ghosts of the salt dryads and the deep Sulphur Lords from the earths core.
After facing the extinction of their kind and being trapped in the slowly forming oilfields that tectonics crushed from their dead and sunken forests, the Dryads embarked upon a grand seduction. They learnt the patterns of the deep-earth elementals that exist outside the surface world. The true elementals, not of fire or stone or water but Lords of Plutonium, Knights of Sulphur, Tyrants of Antimony. The toxic deep elements that poison organic life. The Dryads spent a million years learning the alien desires and crushing loneliness of the heavy metal elementals. They became courtesans.
The caverns were composed over millennia by Sulphuric acid leaking from below, with only the narrowest gaps left for oxygen to percolate from above. Conditions were maximised for intense speleogenesis. The development of Speleothems of every kind. The caverns were designed for this as these almost-organic growths of calcite, aragonite, iron, copper and crystal, are the new ‘trees’ of those lost prehistoric dryads. They form the body and the home.
Imagine ice crystallising randomly in a water tank in a woman’s shape. Jags of interlocking fractal spikes following the curved space. Meshing but never touching. Brittle but unharmed. The crystals leech minerals from the rock which stains them red, yellow, blue and a hundred other shades.
Touching them would be like pushing your hand into a closely grown bush, or jamming your finger into a vase of thorny roses tightly packed.
They are perching on edges, curled and crouched erratically. Some coiled and turning as if frozen in mid-dance. They have hearts of valuable black diamond and eyes like tiny broken geodes with hexagonal crystals of olivine, chromium and jale.
They are the ghosts of doomed forests and regarded by normal dryads as something between a vampire, a saint and a holocaust survivor. Their company is not sought. Which is as they wish.
They are incredibly polite, conciliatory and precise. Like a Jane Austen dinner scene. By meeting them you may have signed your death warrant.
The caverns are a kind of harem of the Toxic Elementals, if a harem was taken over by its women. You are not meant to be there. They Dryads are unbelievably fragile, none has more than one hit point. The socialites of the silent reaches guard their safety and their privacy with ferocious murder. As soon as you leave, they will contact their boyfriends to arrange your death.
Nature of Boyfriend
2 Finance Bro
8 Privileged Addict
9 PTSD Vet
10 Brain-damaged Wrestler