It quickly got too dark to consider travelling for a while. Night fell in the high mountains rather like a light switch. Blink. Dark.
The dragon was very faintly luminous as if something very bright indeed was inside her belly. There was just barely enough light to see by once Nelda's eyes adjusted.
The satyrs seemed to have no trouble at all. [Moon-sight?] and promptly continued their own version of twenty questions, but with more questions.
"Why did you god bring you back?"
"Why was that guy lying on the ground?"
"Why is your world so straight and square?"
"Why did the wizard's cup have a flat bottom?"
"Shhh, guys," Nelda said. "The dragon's trying to sleep.
Nelda edged kind of close to the dragon to try and get some sleep. The dragon emanated a comfortable warmth and effectively repelled the satyrs who were understandably buzzing with questions. Most of which she did not know how to answer.
She woke at dawn from fitful sleep. She watched the dim light play across the colorful, semi-translucent surfaces of the crystals in the cave. And revealed a door opposite where she lay.
Getting carefully to her feet, Nelda clambered cross the width of the large cavern and stood in front or a clear, roughly human-sized arched doorway.
A cheerful clatter of hooves presaged the arrival of BugleHead. He also looked at the dark doorway and short section of down-sloping corridor visible through it.
"Well, that's convenient," BugleHead said. "Do you think it's a way out?
"Or the way to the larder, or the latrine…. In any case, this was not here yesterday," Nelda said suspiciously.
"We must have just missed it."
"Missed an enormous doorway, that was right in front of us the whole time?"
"HoneyBeard often says I can't see things that are right in front of my face."
Nelda had to concede that BugleHead's sunny disposition was unassailable. It was beginning to shine a light on why HoneyBeard was quite so grumpy. Peering down the side of the dragon, the giant creature seemed to be sitting with a slightly hunched back, as if there might be eggs under there.
"Can I ask a question now?" BugleHead chirped.
"Only if you do it very quietly."
"Okay. What or who actually is your god?"
Nelda considered that for a while. If she defined the god he was asking about as the power that sent her from her world to this one, the god was quite literally in the machine. "You know that big silver wall that was behind us, just under the gold puddle thing?
"Uh, I guess."
"That was the god."
"You mean that was a sculpture of the god."
"Nope, that was the actual god."
BugleHead blinked slowly several times as this idea tried to burrow into his cranium. Then he just shook his head. "So, into the latrine hole eh? Won't be the first time!"
HoneyBeard insisted on going first into the tunnel, while simultaneously bemoaning what a bad idea it was to go into the tunnel.
"I have to hand it to you two," he said. "You are not common, every day idiots. You have ascended to a high form of idiocy. You are raising idiocy to some kind of art form. If there was a god of idiots, you would be priests."
"Aw, thanks," said BugleHead, who was bring up the rear.
"It's not a compliment," said Nelda.
"Well, not for you," BugleHead conceded. "You are already a priestess. But for me that would be quite a step up."
The path beneath them was too uniform to have been made by hammers or chisels. Nelda felt through her shoes that it was a smooth as a concrete ramp in a multi-story car parking building, and on about the same angle although it wended and curled rather haphazardly from side to side.
It quickly got too dark to see so Nelda made her way feeling along the equally smooth wall, following behind the angry pock-pock-pock of HoneyBeard's hooves.
[Moon-sight or not, they should not be able to see down here. There is no light at all!]
BugleHead emerged from his musings. "If I was a priest I would wear a tunic and a belt with a gold buckle… in the shape of bugle!" he ended triumphantly.
"I think the buckle would be in the shape of whatever the god likes," Nelda replied.
"But what shape would that be?"
"A portrait of you two," HoneyBeard muttered.
They came out into a large cavern which was dusted with some mysterious source of light. The three of then bunched together looking out on the stalactite-striped space. The ground rose up in a large wavy mounds to just under the stalactites pointy tips. It took them a moment to notice the pretty girl sitting on the rock right next to them.
"Well," she purred. "What hath Pytho sent me?"
Nelda first saw the shining gold eyes, like the dragon's but human sized. They were in the face of an agelessly beautiful woman with falls of lustrous black hair cascading from her head and over her naked torso.
At about the position where her rib-cage should end be her body become a flattened cylinder in which luminescent scales twitched and flickered.
Nelda took a deep breath. "Oh, we had a lovely chat with the dragon, didn't we chaps?"
The satyrs were backing back into the tunnel when a lazy loop of serpentine body moved and covered it over. This was accompanied with a slight movement of the gargantuan snake-like body that wound around the stalagmites and filled most of the space of the cave. It was not the floor at all, it was all her.
Laughing nervously Nelda pressed on. "We're good friends. What with me also being flighted."
"Flighted? Why don't you show me? I don't see any wings?"
"Yes, well, about that."
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