BugleHead's pale face looked like a small mushroom far below. His voice still carried quite clearly.
"What is your priestess doing up in a tree?"
"She is not my priestess," HoneyBeard snapped.
"Well, she followed you home. Maybe that means her god chose you to look after her."
"Hey," Nelda called out. "Up in a tree here. Can I get a little help?" As she wiggled she broke through one branch and slipped further up, away from the ground.
[Oh my god. I've become a human balloon]
Nelda grabbed for the branches but they kept snapping off in her hands. Somehow she had become… buoyant? Grabbing one small twig she pulled herself carefully forward until she could get a hold of a stronger branch.
A whole crowd of satyrs had gathered below her.
"...What is she doing?"
"I didn't know Neldans could fly…."
"...Why is she damaging our tree?"
"The dragons could see her…"
[Dragons?] With a death grip on the branch, Nelda twisted her neck trying to look around. A twig lodged itself up her nose and bits of bark and dirt fell into her eyes. She started to try and drag herself downwards but as the branch got wider she couldn't get her hand around it or get purchase on its smooth surface.
"Come down here right now," HoneyBeard growled.
Nelda sneezed, hiccuped, and hugged the branch like it was the love of her life, but she was still starting to slide gradually back into the air. "Hey, BugleHead. Tell the genius standing next to you that being up here getting to second base with a tree was not my idea!"
"Thank you. I heard her."
"So what do you think we should do?"
[I'm going to float away over the rainbow, and I don't think there will be any fucking bluebirds there.]
"Well this is fun and all," HoneyBeard said quite calmly. "But we need to start getting ready for cave day before the sun starts to come up." And then he turned and walked away.
BugleHead watched him go for a while, and then looked back up at Nelda.
Nelda started trying to sort of swim down the branch by kicking her legs. "Your boyfriend's a contrary asshole," she muttered.
Apparently BugleHead had really good hearing, because he replied: "It's part of what makes him adorable."
"We'll have to"--huff--"agree to disagree on that one."
"He does have a point, though. Once it gets light the dragons will start flying over. We should be in the cave by then." Buglehead sounded irritatingly calm, but it was better than HoneyBeard having no fucks to give whatsoever about her plight.
"I am totally"--urk--"on board with that whole hide from dragons in a cave plan that you guys have going on. Maybe you could throw me a rope or something?"
"Yeah, we don't have any rope." BugleHead sounded more confused than apologetic.
The rest of the satyrs put their heads together and came up with a plan. It seemed to based more on what they would find amusing than what had the best chance of succeeding. They started forming together into an anarchist's idea of the human pyramid. A satyr pile, if you will.
BugleHead clambered up the pile of his brethren. At the very top he reached out an arm--with square fingertips were just about close enough to reach… if Nelda took one hand off the branch.
[But then I'll probably lose my grip.]
BugleHead looked up, his face was dominated by a long flared nose, and covered with a profusion of freckles. His green eyes had goat-like pupils and his long ears ended with auburn tufts of hair.
[My what big ears you have.]
"Take my hand," he said. "I've got you."
Nelda took a deep breath, then thrust her hand into his. She immediately lost her grip on the tree and started to float up. Her left hand flailed and grabbed BugleHead's curling horn. Twisting, she lost the hold of his hand and grabbed his other horn.
For a moment they both sort of hovered, and then they both started to drift away from the tree and slightly upwards.
"Well this is unexpected," BugleHead said.
[Shit!] "I have to drop you."
"No! No! The ground's too far away now."
"It's not going to get any closer, and you are better off down there than up here."
They started to drift slowly towards the river, and a little more higher up. Nelda was floating, ass-upwards and feet kicking fruitlessly. She was holding BugleHead's horns like the handles of a bicycle.
An angry HoneyBeard reappeared below them. "Where are you going with her!" he shouted.
"Roughly north, I think," BugleHead replied.
"Why are you doing that!"
"Uh, prevailing wind, I think."
Peering downwards, Nelda saw they were coming up on one of the larger outcroppings of rock. "Hey, goat-boy," she said. "If we go over the top of that rock I'm going to drop you. It won't be that far."
"But what about you?"
The wind changed, blowing them more to the side of the rocks.
[God dammit] Kicking and swiveling her hips just made the two of them spin around slowly. The tower of rocks was beginning to pass by, about ten feet away.
Then she saw HoneyBeard scaling the side of the rocky tor in dramatic leaps. He reached the top and jumped straight at them.
"AAARGHH!" Screamed HoneyBears, BugleHead, and Nelda, in unison but different keys.
HoneyBeard ended up latching onto BugleHead by the waist. They swung and spun in the air… wobbled, and then began slowly drifting downwards.
HoneyBeard's scrabbling hooves finally hit the ground. "We are going to the cave right now." He started to drag them off towards a bank of ruddy-colored cliffs.
They were joined by a loose crowd of satyrs heading in the same direction. They were bringing with them haphazard piles of food and jars and piles of brush and fern and kindle wood.
"Woot! Cave day festiv-aaaaal!" BugleHead cheered. "I am going to get so drunk."
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