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Dryads are half plant, half women creatures found in many places across Felarya. Their size varies a lot, but Dryads can easily grow over 130 feet tall and, in the deep, unexplored regions of Felarya, some are rumored to reach humongous heights. It's hard to characterize dryads, as their appearance varies quite a lot between specimens. They have a trunk in place of their legs, so they spend most of their time rooted in one spot. Unlike most other rooted "plants" though, dryads can control their roots' movements to some extent, allowing them to uproot and slowly move around if necessary. It is a slow process, but in the span of a few days, it's not impossible for them to have completely disappeared from their original spot, finding themselves hidden elsewhere in the vicinity.
Dryads share a sort of spiritual link amongst themselves, which means that they can communicate at a distance, share sensations (sight, smell, hearing, and taste), and be informed on the many things that happen in the forest. A dryad can also shut down this link if she wishes for some true alone time. Once in her long life, a dryad can share a version of this link with another being, regardless of that person's race. This special link connects that person to that dryad alone, and not to the greater dryad network.
In spite of their immobility, dryads pose a serious threat to adventurers. They are mostly carnivorous, and their arms are incredibly strong, enough so that they can crack a vehicle in half as easily as we can crack a nut. Despite their apparent bulkiness, many dryads are limber and flexible, which makes their capture range a lot larger than it looks like at first glance, and many use vines and roots to catch prey or defend themselves. They are also experts at mimicry and transformation, sometimes using magical illusions to improve it. Using her transformation abilities, a dryad can shape and mold her body to a certain extent, looking a lot more like a regular tree and hiding her more human features, turning them into solid bark. Even if you *know* that is a dryad there, if she wishes to remain hidden you will have a hard time distinguishing her from the background.
Their nature tends to lead them to be rather passive, almost constantly in a sleeping or drowsy state. Because of that passivity, lots of dryads will not actively hunt for prey, and will simply wait instead, either lying down, or standing close to a cliff or branch with their mouth wide open, their camouflage making it appear just like a regular tree, with a convenient opening to hide in. When prey enters the mouth, and applies a certain amount of pressure to the tongue, it triggers an automatic swallowing reflex that doesn't require the dryad to be actually awake.
Moreover, many dryads have a nectar-like saliva with a sweet and enticing smell designed to attract specific types of prey. The type of prey it's meant to lure largely depends on the species and location of the dryad. While the saliva of Faebanes posseses a sent that attract fairies, others dryads use it mostly only for animals. Humanoids, for their parts, seem largely unaffected besides finding the smell sweet. It is worth noting that, in some rarer cases, some dryads can impart special properties to their saliva, such as making it numb whatever it touches, heal injuries, or induce sleepiness.
The digestive system of a dryad is different than that of a human. Their stomach shares some similarities with a pitcher-plant, looking like a large pouch of varied shapes and they lack intestines. Their stomach is not as active as a human stomach either, churning slowly and secreting less gastric juice once food has entered it. Instead, the organ always has a pool of acid ready at the bottom. The walls of the stomach are covered by small tendrils that absorb digested food like an intestine would. The stomach acids of a dryad are strong and can dissolve bones, although they break down food more slowly than other species. If a human were to be swallowed by a dryad and somehow be able to see in the dark, it wouldn't be uncommon to see the half-digested remains of past prey lying in the bottom. Indigestible substances like metal are eventually regurgitated by the dryad. This also means that dryads can regurgitate almost anything they swallowed at will.
The stomach of a dryad is even more unlike any of other species in that it's a small ecosystem of its own. There are fungi growing on the walls and various creatures, symbiotes and parasites, manage to live in that dark, humid and sweltering organic environment. Dryads possess a strong control over their esophagus and can easily keep their throats open, allowing both prey and small critters to enter inside their digestive system, without them having to pay attention. Certain of those small critters are given free passage by the dryad; being allowed to go in and out and to seek refuge inside of her stomach, in exchange of small services such as cleaning and removing parasites. Some of those critters are pretty clever and have been even known to steal things from adventurers before rushing into the dryad's throat for safety, luring the furious and unwary prey literally inside her mouth and gullet, thus greatly facilitating her hunt.
In some rare cases, a human swallowed down by a dryad could find themselves sharing the stomach with a very unpleasant occupants: a gut worm and find themselves swallowed alive a second time by the large parasite.
Dryads are not as voracious as some other predators though, and can, to some extent, rely on photosynthesis to feed. They are usually sweet, pleasant, and wise beings; they get along very well with the other races (those who are not prey, that is). This is especially true with fairies, nagas, and deerataurs. Many dryads share a common weakness: fire. Once they start burning they are hard to put out, and so they are very afraid of it. Most dryads will completely hide from a fire-based or fire-using threat, or some of them, such as Drayla, have developed water magic as a defense against it.
Dryads possess a rather unique means of reproduction, combining seeds with other plants' pollen, captured from the air around them, before releasing the seeds when the conditions are right. They release a great many seeds, but only a few land somewhere that matches the criteria for the seed to sprout and begin the process of developing a young Dryad. Other seeds simply sprout regular plants. This explains why dryads appear to be so varied and with an appearance based on plants that grow in their region. At the first stage of their life, young Dryads appear to be just like normal plants, until they reach a certain size. At this point their outer casing will fall off, revealing their human half. Their now conscious minds connects to the Dryad network, where the other Dryads will take care of them, teaching and comforting them, and sometimes sending friends to help them if they need it. Young Dryads have an abundance of photosynthetic cells, allowing them to survive solely off light and water until they grow larger. As a Dryad grows, the amount of photosynthetic cells does not increase proportionately, which necessitates the introduction of prey into their diet to compensate. Young Dryads possess an unconscious camouflage and illusion reflex that immediately allows them to hide from would-be threats and predators. There is usually not more than a few dozens seconds between the time when the dryad reveals herself to the world for the first time, and the time she becomes hidden again.
- Credits goes to Rcs619 for the reproduction explanation and to Vaderaz and Shady Knight for developing their digestive system.