Nelda lay on the ceiling of the cave looking down. It was incredibly disorienting, and she was starting to feel nauseous. The cave was large enough to easy accommodate the whole satyr group [village, herd, whatever]. She had tried counting them, but they kept moving around so it ended up more of an estimate. [Eighty, maybe?]
A number of satyrs were playing a jaunty tune, some with crude pipes and others with drums. They had brought in all kind of food and flowers, instrument and paints that the were using to daub the walls in crazy designs. A large fire was being built near the center under what seemed to be a natural chimney.
Just inside the entranceway there was an area where the roof was lower, and this is where HoneyBeard had left Nelda, stuck there like a broken ceiling fan with just her brown hair hanging down.
Her unicorn-pattern scrubs were starting to look distinctly the worse for wear. Fortunately, the cloth was mainly black, but the formerly white unicorns now looked more like buckskins and bays. [I need to be more careful. Given that these guys are more furry than fashionista, clothing will be hard to replace.]
HoneyBeard had dashed off to argue with a boisterous young satyr who had been running around the cave holding a burning branch. His point was harder to make as he had to chase after the rather limber miscreant. "That's no point hiding from the"—puff—"dragons if you burn us all to"—puff—" death instead, Speckle. Fuck me."
"I'm game," BugleHead commented. Looking up at Nelda he added. "It's easier than the reverse, if you know what I mean. Oh, sorry, you might not know at all, I guess."
"Why do you say that?"
Their conversation was cut off by the return of a wheezing HoneyBeard. "Idiots. I am surrounded by idiots. Including you." He pointed upwards at Nelda. "Flying leaf does not cause flying."
Nelda spread her arms. "Evidence to the contrary," she said indicating her position. She dug in her pocket for an elastic hair tie.
"He's right, sister. Flying leaf just makes you happy in the head. It helps pass the time in here. It's good for keeping the peace with us all cooped up together."
Nelda was trying to twist her head so she could gather her hair into a ponytail. "And about that," she said. "How long are we going to be in here?"
Honeybeard snapped, "You can leave any…."
"Shhh." BugleHead pushed some leaf at him. "It's just this one day," he explained. "All the lady dragons who are going to lay this year go down to the southern ranges on the day after the flame flowers bloom."
In her effort to sort out her hair, Nelda ended up flipping over and face-planting upwards into the rock. "Ugh."
She struggled to a kneeling position on the ceiling. This strange buoyancy seemed to apply to her whole body. Tentatively, she stood on the ceiling. In this position things felt almost normal so long as she kept her eyes closed. Well, she could still feel her hair floating upwards from her body, and someone with bad breath was standing real near to her.
Opening her eyes, she saw the grinning upside-down face of BugleHead level with her own. Nelda sighed, and finally managed to get her hair tied back.
[Oh, that's right. I was going to ask.] "So, what's your actual name?"
"It's BugleHead," said BugleHead.
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is."
"But I gave you that name."
"Yes, that's how I got it."
"But what was it before?"
He kept grinning at her and took a drink from a rough, round-bottomed clay cup. He proffered the cup in her direction.
Nelda took it. It was awkward holding a cup upside down and she tilted it back and forth peering upwards at the amber liquid. "What is this?"
"Well, it used to be Bullberries, if that's the way you look at things."
It smelled a bit like hard cider but given her response to the flying leaf [maybe?] what was safe for satyrs could be poisonous to her. [What the hell. I don't really have any choice but to try things and see how it goes.]
Peering at the cup she saw it was a wobbly-shaped half sphere. "You cup isn't flat on the bottom," she remarked. "How do you put it down."
"Why would I want to put it down?" BugleHead replied.
[He may be cheerful, but this guy has the potential to get annoying.] Nelda tried to bring the upside down cup to her lips and tip it. The sweet acrid liquid swarmed over the roof of her mouth and escaped to run, burning, up her nose from the inside and the outside. Gulping and leaning forward she instinctively turned the cup the other way up, and then dropped it. She heard it shatter on the… [Ceiling? Ground? I don't fucking know.]
Putting her hand over her nose she erupted in a serious of undignified sneezed-coughs ending in a protracted burp. Her eyes had teared up and rubbing them just pushed the harsh liquor over more of his face.
Only gradually regaining control of her body, Nelda carefully stood again. This brought her back face-to-face with BugleHead whose ears were drooping, and his curly hair was dripping with the golden liquid. A bunch of satyrs standing nearby seemed to find her near asphyxiation and his impromptu shower extremely hilarious.
Looking further down, Nelda said, "Oh, sorry. I broke your cup."
"The girl doesn't know how to hold her liquor," HoneyBeard observed, with just the slightest hint of a smile.
[On second thought, with the world already being this confusing, perhaps I shouldn't be drinking.] The party was starting to get rowdy even thought it was still early in the morning. A bunch of satyrs were dancing around the fire. From Nelda's point of view, it was a very Lionel Ritchie experience. He perceptions kept flipping between feeling like she was upside down and feeling the rest of the world was. She felt sick and anxious. [Yep, this is a lot like being drunk but without the buzz.]
Just as she began to feel overwhelmed a thought struck Nelda. A thought so strong that it almost seemed to come from outside her own mind.
[I must be here for a reason. I just have to figure out what it is.]
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