By morning, Nelda had contemplated her problems at length but had arrived at little in the way of solutions. She was theorizing without data and spawning 'what if's. [I think Sherlock Holmes said something about this sort of problem, but I forget what it was.]
She fell asleep for a while and woke when it was light. By the side of her bed, a haphazard posy had been left. The flowers having prominent red-and-white-striped petals arranged in spirals to create drooping trumpet shapes.
[I need information. And while interesting, I am not sure that the flying leaf, or its close cousin, is a priority.] Still, the potential for another little experiment danced around the more impulse parts of her mind.
A familiar tentative knock on the door presaged the arrival of SmithGuild. Ah. You are awake," he said with obvious pleasure. The gryphon's expressive features immediate shifted to a more apologetic expression. "I wonder if I might ask you a favor. I would not ask but…."
"Of course, please come in."
Today SmithGuild was wearing a loose garment that went as far back as the base of his tail. A sort of open belted tunic with slit that his wings emerged from.
He came and cat-sat by Nelda's bed, and leaned forward earnestly. "Could you get the satyrs to wear pants?"
Nelda snorted. "I'm sorry. I just wasn't expecting that." [End-of-the-world prophecy versus pants. Interesting priorities, dude.]
"I can deduce that your people go very much clothed. With under- and overgarments. I would hope that you would understand that their current deportment, is… distracting. I'd not wish to be unwelcoming, but it does make me… uncomfortable."
Nelda found SmithGuild's bashfulness just a little bit adorable. [But pants? Kilts maybe, at a stretch--no pun intended.]
"Help me understand," she said. "Is it that you feel all civilized people should be clothed. Or is it that you do not think the sexual organs should be… on display."
SmithGuild considered this, with a tilt of the head. "It is in the nature of a combination of the two. If a creature is an animal, then what you see of its body is of no concern. But for a conversing being, so see the generative organs of another is improper and unseemly."
Nelda nodded. It's not that I disagree, but satyrs gonna sate. And on the other hand… Smithy's gonna Smithy, I would rather have him on my side.
"Here's the thing," Nelda explained. "Satyr's believe that the only people who wear clothes are nobles, priests, and gods. Putting aside gods, they have a feeling of both admiration and resentment for nobles and priests. So to put clothes on them, we have to make it work for them somehow."
SmithGuild took a deep breath, sat back and considered that idea. "I presume that if bringing them into your faith was plausible you would have suggested it. Failing any other convenience faith, that leads me to wonder what they consider a nobleman to be."
[Oh god. I'm a biologist, not a psychoanalyst. Or sociologist, or exorcist, or whatever -ist this situation requires.]
[Still, it's nice that SmithGuild followed my suggestion rather than being awkward and macho about it.]
"The satyrs don't seem to actually have nobility," Nelda said. "So, it is possible that the concept is somewhat, hmmm, flexible. But I will not have anything done to them, as my associates, that offends against their principles or their dignity."
"Of course, no. I would never…"
BugleHead chose that moment to storm into the room." Here, I brought you something." He sapped a large silver fish on her lap; it was still flapping its tail in indignation at being so rudely dewatered. Unusually, Buglehead also looked quite cross.
SmithGuild snatched up the fish and quite efficiently broke off its head. Apparently, his fastidiousness did not extend to dispatching seafood.
"BugleHead, is something wrong?" Nelda asked.
HoneyBeard caught up with BugleHead. "I was just explaining…" HoneyBeard noticed SmithGuild was in the room and suddenly ran out of words,
BugleHead filled the gap. "Well if it's okay for him to bring you flowers, then I don't see why I shouldn't bring you something too."
"Oh my god," Nelda said, finally swinging her aching legs out of bed. "BugleHead are you jealous? Because you have no reason to be, I am not interested in HoneyBeard, and he is even less into me—at least in that way."
"And almost any other," HoneyBeard readily confirmed,
"Well, thank you. No need to be quite so emphatic."
BugleHead did a quick emotional 180. "Why wouldn't you be into HoneBeard? What's wrong with him? You'd be lucky to have him."
"It's not a matter of anything at all being wrong with him. But romantic attachments are more about compatibility. I mean, I would probably be more compatible… with, ah, SmithGuild here."
The gryphon dropped the fish with a loud 'splat.'
[Oh god, I am causing more problems than I am solving here.] "Our personalities, I mean, being harmonious together. Ah…."
"Oooh." BugleHead's attention was now thoroughly diverted. "Does that mean you and cat-bird…?"
Nelda and SmithGuild simultaneously: "No, nonono."
"Ah-ha," BugleHead concluded. He looked from Nelda [pretty sure I'm blushing] to SmithGuild [looking suspiciously feather-fluffed, is he embarrassed or outraged?]. "I'm keeping this." The satyr picked up fish leaving SmithGuild holding only the gape-mouthed fish head.
The two satyrs left together.
"I do feel like I should mention." SmithGuild's feather kept getting fluffier until he looked like a blow-dried parakeet. "Gryphons mostly, I mean I, but also most gryphons, do not engage and procreative activity."
"Good to know. Did you know that despite all their activity in that area satyrs don't reproduce sexually? I haven't been able to independently confirm the actually birthing process, it but there are no females of the species."
"Really?" SmithGuild seemed intrigued. "I have always assumed that in the village there were females?"
"NO, well. It's not actually really what I would call a village so much is a place they all just live. You'll notice they are not much used to constructed houses or constructed anything, really. And that includes clothing."
They both rapidly got a lot more comfortable, talking about other peoples private business rather than their own.
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