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25.67% Chimera Girl / Chapter 19: And Thou

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Chapter 19: And Thou

Nelda negotiated moving the satyrs to a pleasant grove of trees next to the beach, where they were provided with wine and bread. This arrangement seemed to please them both for the time being. They were leering of going anywhere inside the 'gryphon cave'.

It was late afternoon and SmithGuild showed her to a sort of elevated deck that looked out to sea. Nelda herself was provided with a comfortable chaise next to a table laid with wine, bread, cheese, and fruit. Occasionally a raucous red phoenix few past, clinking like a metal wind-chime but acting like a parrot.

The gryphon had removed his cloak but retained a gold-thread embroidered waistcoat neatly tailored to accommodate his wings and forelimbs. "I am not sure what it would be agreeable for you to eat," he said.

"This is all… very agreeable. My digestion is fairly adaptable, like a pig. By which I mean I am omnivorous with a single stomach not … that I eat like a pig." Nelda blushed. [It's not that I am usually suave, but I do usually give fewer fucks about what people think of me.]

"No one could mistake you for anything other than an individual of education and refinement." The gryphon removed his glasses and cleaned the lenses fastidiously with a cloth from his pocket.

[And this after he saw me fall out of a tree. He's either excruciatingly polite, or he likes me.] Nelda noticed that the gryphon's yellow-scaled forelimbs ended in rather dashing taloned three-fingered bird-hands. Each terminating in claws tipped with a textured metal cones that flashed in the light.

Once he replaced his spectacles, the gryphon's eyes fell on her shoes, which she had placed on the floor by her chaise. "What an interesting material, do you mind if I look at it?"

"Not at…"

One of the more feminine-looking crow-phoenixes appeared from under the chaise, grabbed a shoe and carried it to the gryphon.

"Now, Lapis, please do not be presumptuous. You know we must ask permission before making free with properties that do not belong to the house."

Lapis dropped the shoe and managed to portray a Disney-caricature level of contrition.

"No harm done. Lapis is it?" Nelda hastened to say. "What are Lapis's compatriots called. I don't know how you tell them apart."

"Oh, they are all called Lapis. The three bodies of this type are all controlled by a single mind." He seemed rather abashed to admit this.

[Okay. Mind-fuck, but okay.] "I bet there's a story behind that."

"There is, a rather tawdry one. But, if you would be most kind, I imagine your story is more interesting." The gryphon actually had a rather rakish smile and he used it to great effect.

#

Nelda had recounted her adventure up to the point of arriving at the cave of [Pytho?] the dragon. She went with the same god-priest-altar thing at the beginning because honestly whatever the real explanation was it exceeded her meager technical understanding. Then she made what turned out to be a tactical error.

"And then she said something like," she mimicked: "It would be more advantageous for yourself to dissscover the people of this world on its own terms. So, she wouldn't tell me anything else about the people or where they are?"

Lapis, perching by the gryphon's shoulder cocked her head sharply at the dragon imitation. The gryphon, to era less extent and looking more handsome doing it, did the same. [Bird is bird, I guess.]

"They do say that the intuition of a dragon is greater than any wisdom."

"Oh, no."

"What distresses you?"

"Now you aren't going to tell me shi… anything either. I'm such an idiot. Why did I even tell you that?"

"Why because you are a person of character and thus honest in your dealings, of course."

"Sure, let's go with that."

"And she spoke only of the people, the conversing beings. Anything that is here, I will explain to you the best that I can. But if the dragon thinks you should meet the people with unblemished expectations, there is likely to be a most profound and important reason for it."

[Who died and made Pytho Admin?] Nelda Poured herself a third glass of wine. [Four is your limit. I mean, that's usually your limit but who knows what kind of wallop Chateau de Narnia is packing.] She lay back and winced as she moved her foot. Her ankle continued to ache in thumping pulsed of ongoing inflammation.

"Oh, please forgive me," the gryphon added. "I neglected to say that I sent the Phoenix King for my sister, Gryphon HerbGuild. I regret that I know were little about what to do for an injury, but she will be sure to have a firm opinion on the matter. It may even be right."

"That is hardly reassuring."

"Please disregard my tone. My relationship with my sister-neighbor could be better. But on matter of herbs and healing she is… competent."

"And the Phoenix King, is he not tired after the journey to fetch us?"

The gryphon waved his claw. "The King you saw dropped his crown shortly after he returned, and two or three others have held the position since then. Being sent as a messenger assures that this one a longer reign than most."

"But are they not…?"

"The Jaspers, no, they are each of a separate mind." He dipped his beak into his own wide, shallow goblet and thought for a moment. "When I made the phoenixes…"

"Ah-ha.! Oh, I apologize for my outburst but they are so clearly made of metal but their behavior would be impossible for any mechanism to produce. You must tell me how you did it."

"I am ashamed to admit that I dabbled in alchemy."

"Ashamed?" [Alchemy?]

"Of course, to bridge the gap in my craftsman's knowledge with an uncertain art, poorly understood and erratic in outcome. I wanted two helpmates, self-regenerating in fire if they come to harm. Somehow the alchemy imbued them with occasional twin birth, amongst other things. Of the Lapis there are three now, of the foolhardy Jaspers, twenty-eight." Holding his claw to his temple he concluded. "It is getting very noisy around here."


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