Her recall of what happened next only formed a linear narrative in retrospect. At the time it was half a mouth full of salty water. Thrashing. Her own hair in her mouth. Bubbles coming out of her nose. Her knee bending in a way that knees are not meant to bend.
The was a large… person [?] in the water beside her. Not the one dragging her backward, another person. With pearl-gray skin and ivory hair. Its round face punctuated by two pure black eyes.
Its small mouth gaped and flapped, emitting a helium-squeaky voice that traveled very clearly through the water. "This is the other one."
The dragging movement stops and Nelda curled up her own body with the flexibility and viciousness of a cat in a bathtub.
The voice squealed again. "It is not the one. It is the other one."
Nelda gave zero fucks about this conversation, with seawater up her nose and down her lungs and her body was screaming to try and breath despite the fact she was underwater.
Hooking her fingers, Nelda drove them towards this other person's eyes. It dodged out of the way, releasing her. The persons back had a long fin, a pudgy tail and two strong flukes that struck down through the water as it powered away.
Flailing towards the surface, Nelda found herself only a few feet from where she had been grabbed. HoneyBeard was right by her side beating at the water with a stick.
[I do not deserve this satyr.]
They dragged Nelda inside to the parlor, screaming and cursing with pain. Herby gave her some acrid juice that dulled it down again, but Nelda kept grabbing the couch thinking she was floating up when she wasn't moving at all. Her brain felt like it was soaking in coffee but riding a tilt-a-whirl while holding fistfuls of sparklers.
[Bestairy entry #8: mermaids. Aaah don' like 'em. Is' prbly mut-yoo-all.]
"Oi, what'd you give me. It'll kill me quicker than those beluga bitches. Fuck, whoooo! Is the room spinning? Do I still have legs a-coz I cain't feel 'em'"
BugleHead leaned over her. "I'll have what she's having."
HoneyBeard replied from further away: "You've already got a bad case of it."
Then Nelda started to feel really tired. SmithGuid was leaning over her now.
"You look like an animated Disney hero," she slurred. "Or a super-hero, Cat-birb-man America." She reached out and patted the top of his beak. "Good kitty. Angry Brenda hadz a cat. S-fink-sss."
Her phone wallpaper was the cats. The dim memory of their names was soaked out of her neurons and drifted into her consciousness. "Phix."
[Who calls a cat a euphemism for neutering?]
She started to giggle.
The was a sharp pain in her knee. Nelda sat straight upright and slapped Herby on the side of the head. They stared at each other for a moment.
"Sorry," said Nelda. "But in my defense that was a reflex, your medicine has knocked out what little self-control I have, and you didn't warn me you were going to do that."
Herby passed her another goblet of juice.
"And another thing." Nelda shook a finger at SmithGuild. "I thought…" [What did I think?] She downed the second dose. "Oh yeah. I thought the kipper queens had shum property, phofishy… proPHECY. That's the one. Why'did they fusk wit' me!"
She flung her arms wide, slapping Herby on the ass and knocking the empty grape bowl off the table.
"Yes, that's quite correct," SmithGuild said in soothing tones. "But to be fair, it is a prophecy about the end of the world."
Nelda she fell back onto the couch and started to snore.
Nelda regained consciousness slowly, with the knowledge that she needed to poop rather urgently. She found herself back in her room. It was quiet and dark. In her previous explorations of the house, she had discovered what appeared to be a bathroom. Or at least it featured a table with a basin and ewer and a board with a hole in it that dropped down into a large pit that smelled of ammonia and quicklime.
[Gryphons may be smart, but they have yet to invent the flush toilet.]
The house was still and it seemed to be nighttime. She made her way to the toilet like an arthritic cyberman. Navigated the choreography necessary to use a squat toilet with one swollen ankle and one knee that doesn't bend.
Through the process best not described she finally recovered the dragons rock of not flying. After washing it in the basin, she put it down on the table, experimentally, and remained very much on the ground.
[let's see. I arrived in the evening and ate the leaf. Let's not count that day. One day in the cave. One day traveling to the dragon cave and getting the not rock. One day with the centaurs. One day getting here. One day getting potentially murdered by mermaids.]
[I hope tomorrow is the weekend and I get some time to unwind and work out what the fuck is going on. Anyway….]
[This suggests that the flying leaf affected me somewhere between two and five days.]
Hobbling gingerly back to bed, Nelda reviewed her bestiary.
[Bestiary entry 1#, Satyrs: mostly harmless. Good sassy sidekick material.]
[Bestiary entry 2#, Dragons: not to be fucked with. People think they know a lot of deep shit. Maybe they can move rocks with their minds?]
[Bestiary entry #3, whatever Echidna is. Dragon, maybe? Fucked with her anyway. Oops. May come back not only to bite but also char-broil, me. NB: If there is flying leaf here I should probs send her some.]
[Bestiary entry #4, centaurs. A tad racist. Want to bring back the unicorn.]
[Bestiary entry #5a: Phoenix, (Jasper). Not good at karaoke.]
[Bestiary entry #5b: Phoenix, (Lapis). Kleptomaniacs. Up to something.]
[Bestiary entry #6: Gryphons. Charming. Ken-doll situation downstairs?]
[Bestiary entry #7: Unicorn, the one and only. Vestigial. Would make a good back scratcher. NB: Gave it to the one guy who doesn't want it].
[Bestiary entry #8: Mermaids. Fuck those bitches and the prophecy they rode in on. Maybe I should end their world.]
The voice on the other end of the shell had not sounded like Squeaky the Abductrix or anyone of her ilk. Nevertheless, the most likely origin of the shell phone-slash-surveillance device would seem to be, well, the sea—and by extension the mermaids. The Lapis might be in league with the mermaids, or stole the shell from whomever was in cahoots with the mermaids.
And if Nelda's appearance was predicted to bring about the end times, that might be anyone.
[Mom said I would never amount to anything. Jokes on her. I've been promoted to antichrist my first week on the job.]
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