The village was on fire again.
The trees at the edge of town caught scent of the smoke first, and a whisper of cold terror swept through the forest, from plant to animal and animal to plant, up and down the hills of the earth, flashing through the pines.
And then the druid was there, standing among the ferns at the feet of the trees at the edge of the burning village, summoned from a nap he had been taking beneath the singing birds a thousand leagues away.
"What's all this about then?" he said, rubbing the crap out of his eyes.
"The fire!" said the terrified trees, "the fire is coming!"
And the ferns nodded emphaticially, and the vines constricted like snakes and tightened their grips, as if to emphasize the point.
"Yah but, fire is a natural thing, ain't it?"
The trees did not answer.
"Like, ye get burned up, and then yer ashes make the soil fertile for the baby plants that grow in yer place, from yer own seeds and whatnot, aye?"
The trees said nothing.
"Ye guys, hogging all the sunlight and starving out all the little seedlings, ye should all be ashamned of yerselves, wanting to live forever, 'cept I guess ye all were made to be that way, so that's Nature, too."
The trees said nothing.
"Well, what do you want me to do about it, then? Make a rainstorm or something?"
"Yes!" said the trees, "Make us a rainstorm and save us! Put out the fire!"
"That'd be a pretty damn unnatural thing to do, don't ye think? Waving my arms about and casting spells and such to change the way things are supposed to go?"
There was no answer.
"Well, look, I don't wanna be the bad guy here, to be honest, I never really understood what this whole druid gig was supposed to be all about, it just never made much sense to me, I mean, at first I thought it was some kinda thing where I was just supposed to protect all the cute little furry animals from all the mean ole nasty humans or some simple shite like that, y'know, some kinda silly human-hating cult where I'm s'posed to help everybody at the expense of the humans or something, mebbe do a little gardening on the side, grow some tomaters, aye, but the Truth of Nature is that all the cute little furry animals eat all the cuter and littler furry animals, and gardening is totally against the Rules, ye know, ripping out weeds and chomping on tomaters and what-have-you, that's just playing favorites, 'cause the weeds and tomaters are people too. And it seems like all ye plants and animals ever want me to do is break all of Big Momma N's Rules all the time and screw with the balance of everything so it works out in your favor."
The trees waited, rustling their leaves awkwardly, ashamed.
"But I only got into this silly racket fer all the smokin' hot druid ladies and all the brainless dryads and nymphs I could get me mits on, y'know...."
A small shiver of hope ran up and down the treetrunks.
"...so I guess that as long as ye fellers can promise to keep yer mouths shut, y'know, in case this is like, totally against the rules or something, 'cause I don't wanna get in no trouble with the Big Momma N, y'hear me? I'll just go ahead and do the hocus pocus and put that fire out."
The trees instantly began gushing their thanks, and the ferns waved their leaves in appreciation, and the vines sighed with relief and loosened their coils.
"Oh don't ye thank me none, ye fellers are gonna owe me fer this, waking me up from a nap just to ask me to risk me own neck breakin' all Big Momma N's Rules again."
And so the druid went into the middle of town and got himself a bucket of water from the well and put the fire out.
But not before getting a couple good egg-laying chickens in exchange for curing a farmer of an embarrassing and itchy rash before it had a chance to make the farmer's wife suspicious.
Y'know, might as well make the most of it since he had been summoned out to this area anyways.
And from the preacher he got himself a keg of ale and a loaf of spiced bread and a wheel of cheese just for telling the local wolves about how Big Momma N was talking about letting 'em all be domesticated and worked like plowbeasts to help protect the sheep (oh you should have seen their faces when they heard that bit of the news! haha) if they didn't quit hanging around town and digging up all the goddam graves in the graveyard.
Which was good, 'cause nothing gives one an appetite like a long hard day of druidry or whatever.
And from the innkeep he got himself a brand new hat that some traveller had left behind at the bar and an old wagon to carry it all in and ride on and a friendly-enough mule to pull it all with just for telling the village's rats about a castle nearby that had much better pickings.
And then he went back to his nap in order to give the castle situation a chance to ripen a little before harvesting the fruits of that garden.