"There's some furniture here in the atrium we can use," SmithGuild said. "I've been here a few times before over the years. So I know he is happy for visitors to use it in here."
Most of the party went to work, making themselves at home. Nelda stood for a moment. She could see Jen and Asbolus strolling side by side next to what looked like a kitchen garden with different kinds of plants in rows and some of the rich, dark soil freshly turned.
Typho had mastered getting around on his wyrm body pretty well, but trying to carry anything heavy turned out to be a bridge too far. He ended up jammed in the doorway flopped down on top of some kind of long padded bench.
"Save some of that for Echidna," BugleHead jested.
"We are not making any assumptions about Echidna favors," Nelda shouted back. "And a gentleman doesn't speculate."
Looking back into the garden she was truck how, as they ambled on, the two centaurs flicked their tails from side to side exactly in unison.
Phyllis didn't seem to mind planting herself on the bare boards and did not seem inclined to help the others make themselves more comfortable. "Do you think we can trust him?" she asked.
"I think we decided to do that when we decided to come here," Nelda replied.
"Hmm." The dragons hum-sigh was skeptical.
"We are asking him for his hospitality, and for a favor he seemed to not enjoy bestowing. There is no telling what it may be worth, but the least we can give in return is our trust."
"And if we are wrong to do so," Phyllis added. "We considerably outnumber him."
"I would assume he has a trick or two up his sleeve," Nelda said. "Give that many sorts visit him, and his relations with the other centaurs seems pretty hostile."
SmithGuild helped direct the satyrs in completing the job of setting out some benches and sofas in a rough horseshoe shape. [I wonder if they have horseshoe here or any need for them?]
Typho took the stripeflower sapling from their effects and moved it to just outside the open shutter doors. He cast about and returned carrying a small bowl full of water which he provided to the plant.
Nelda went over to Smithguild who was sitting gingerly on the padded bench. [Still not exactly comfortable with the mechanics of the human ass.] The Jasper phoenix sat at his ankles. It had seemed rather subdued since the loss of the crown, but at least it had not dashed off to try and find the damned thing.
It occurred to Nelda that SmithGuild might be more inclined to publicly claim a relationship between them if she sucked a bit less as a girlfriend. But her preoccupations were rather understandable given the stakes.
She noticed what seemed like some errant fluff caught in his hair at the slight widow's peak. Reaching out or brush is a way she paused. "SmithGuild, have you been feeling all right today."
He looked up at her. "I suppose so. It is somewhat hard to tell without knowing how a body like this is supposed to feel, but being part of this expedition has put me in rather good spirits all thing considered. Why do you ask?"
Completing the gesture, Nelda confirmed what her eyes were telling her. "Because you have sprouted what looks like a couple of feathers up here." He brushed the tiny soft feathers that were secured rooted in his scalp, their color just a shade or so lighter than his hair."
He reached up, brushing her fingers, and felt them for himself. "Oh, so I do."
SmthGuild seemed happy with the discovery. Nelda tried not to show her own thoughts on her face.
[If he starts slipping back to being a gryphon piece by piece, there is no way a body part way between the two would be able to support life.]
[I should definitely have put #5 higher up a list as it will not be a priority for anyone else.]
She looked around to see if she could talk to Typho alone, but he was nowhere in sight. The satyrs had already opened some of the wine. [Well, they will make good company for a party, and no mistake.]
"I am thinking that you should be our recorder," Nelda said. "You have the discipline to be accurate, and there is no telling how your body would react to alcohol as it is. Humans do imbibe, but a body not used to it is also quite easily poisoned by excesses of intake. Which is something I feel this environment is going to encourage."
"I was thinking the same," Smithguild replied. "But I was also thinking about how Asbolus's explanation might apply to you. If what we have been calling your unconscious magic might align with what he called the child mind. Perhaps you should take part in the revelry, and I shall also make observations of anything unusual that might result."
"Okay… but I hate to think that might also mean I do something stupid, as Asbolus alluded to as the dark side of the whole matter. It would be best to see if Phyllis would assist you. She has the mind of a scientist, considerable willpower, and the body of the dragon, which is a fairly formidable package if any of us get up to trouble."
"Nice of you to notice," Phyllis said from the corner.
[Fuck, her hearing is pretty good. I guess that is a dragon thing?]
"So is that okay with you?" Nelda asked.
"I'll stop anyone causing trouble she said. But I don't think these hands are made for note-taking. She held up her forearm which had an elbow quite far back, and a hand with three fingers and a thumb each tipped with a sharp claw."
"Oh, it's less trouble than you'd think," SmithGuild said. "The hands I typically have are very broadly similar. You do need to hold the writing instrument…"
Nelda lost track of the conversation as it went into the intricacy for quadrupedal penmanship. The satyrs had started what seemed like an impromptu game that involved pebbles and string with complicated rules that they were explaining to Reg in a haphazard manner.
Nelda returned to the door. Because of the surrounding hills, the dark was falling quickly. On the slope that rose up behind the palisade, she saw a pale shape moving. Half-afraid the last basilisk had followed them she froze, but then made herself look. [Everyone else has taken a turn as a garden ornament, so why not me?]
Something was moving between the bases of the twisted trees that clung to the rocky aspect of the hillside in that area. It moved on four legs, with fur the color of fresh-cut pine wood. Around its head was a dark mane and its long tail ending with a barb.
The creature looked at her. It was not Manny, but clearly of the same kind. It seemed to look her right in the eyes, meeting her gaze. But it did not acknowledge her or even pause, pacing slowing away into the deeper foliage and vanishing from sight.
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