It was a space about the size of a phone booth, and they were currently approaching the Guinness world record for occupancy.
"I'll get out," Manny said—monosyllabically as if explaining the plan to a pre-school class. "I'll get Smith-whatsit. I'll call. We'll all go."
Tyrone coughed, gulped, and added: "Only Prof is in there right now. I'll pull the lever, and the six of us go through…"
"But why not Nelda," Phyllis broke through. "It's her world." Phyllis's elbow hit Nelda right in the boob that the errant underwire had already stabbed a hundred times.
Tyrone answered, "It's probable Brenda Watson's world. But would you want her as your god?"
Those that knew her shuddered.
Phyllis persisted. "Nelda is our pioneer. We will need her."
Smith decided who can go," Nelda insisted, "It is his world. And I have to stay behind to destroy the machine. We don't even know if this created, back-dated world can suffice. You all go at your own risk. But one thing is for sure, Not one from this else is fucking with Mirth or its people anymore." Her profound, savage conviction filled her voice; It came from a depth in her heart she barely knew existed before.
[These are my people now. They deserve their lives; however, they came by them. And anyone who wants to harm them, to touch them, will have to deal with me.]
"Tyrone, you have to go through if you can," Nelda urged. "I don't know if a world created in a moment, with a memory of thousands of years can endure. But if anyone can work that out, it is you."
Tyrone looked like a hedgehog caught in the headlines of a road train. "Arckkh," he said.
"Cometh the hour," Nelda urged.
"But it is not a technological world!" Tyrone said. "Even if I found a problem, there would be no way to create a solution."
[Funny how everyone seems to be on board with the 'Mirth is real' message after a night to think on it. Probably more because they each have a reason to want it to, rather than any sort of logic.]
"But there is some technology, metalworking and in this world, there is alchemy," she said. "The possibilities may be limitless.]
"Alchemy!" Tyrone's eyes lit up. "How does it…"
Nelda raised her hand. "You would have to ask Smith about that, and I don't think he has a very high opinion if alchemy because it is poorly understood and the results can be unpredictable."
"Oh my god. Alchemy. I am definitely going."
Phyllis growled, "Manny is your hand on my ass?"
"To be fair," Jen commented. There really isn't anywhere else to put it."
"Yeah." Reg giggle. "It's more like your ass is on his hand."
"And…" Manny began.
"Aw-right. That's enough," Phyllis said. "We get out, and we get Smith. We go to the Porter room, and we barricade ourselves in. Go, go, go."
"But what about the…" Nelda started to say.
Team Idiot burst out of the closet and stampeded down the hallway.
[I am beginning to get some insight into how HoneyBeard feels.]
The harpies landed lightly on the beach outside SmithGuild's large house. The phoenix wiggled like a wet cat and jumped from HoneyBeard's arms.
"I should have dropped it into the sea," HoneyBeard said. The metal feathers had left little "paper cuts" on his hands and arms. He was still dangling a few feet of the ground as Storm held him like a was an over-sized teddy bear. "You can put me down now."
"Such a hurry to escape my embrace, morsel?" Storm hugged him tighter. "Be careful lest you offend me, and you would come to regret offending me."
"Given how you 'like' me, the outcome would be about the same," Honeybeard muttered.
Lady Storm laughed, set him on the ground and patted his head. "I like to play with my food," she said. "It is not such a bad habit."
HoneyBeard sidled away from her. BugleHead was already down and hopping in circles around Lady Dark. He seemed entirely immune the almost visible miasma of lethal intent that the black-colored harpy carried with her.
"Whooooot! Woo-hooooo!" BugleHead shouted. "When can we do that again?"
Dark observed his antics with an expression of bemusement. She looked to her sister.
"Oh, I imagine we will meet again." Strom was looking at HoneyBeard with one thine eyebrows archly raised.
HoneyBeard followed the phoenixes path back towards the house, and BugleHead followed. He felt a tingling between his shoulder blades, but they had no trouble tramping back as far as the fountain.
At the point, Herby stopped them. "I need to return to my household at least for a while," she said.
BugleHead turned and waved cheerfully to the harpies, who were spreading their wings in preparation to leave. "Thank you!" he called.
Herby coughed. "If I can have your attention?" She unwrapped her parcel and removed one of the two copies within. "If you will stay here to see if Nelda and Smithy return. Do try and be careful with my brother's estate. You know he is… particular."
"I've no plan to be inside," HoneyBeard said. "And I doubt it harms the ground too much that I might sit upon it."
Herby rolled her eyes. "Don't start taking offense. Just put this inside and show it to anyone who comes by. Our best chance of avoiding the calamity it for all people to know about it."
"I am going to wait for Nelda." BugleHead vanished around the side of the building towards the place where she had disappeared.
HoneyBeard huffed. But he did as she asked, taking the split wood copy inside. He laid it on a table in the parlor. Looking around he saw the house seemed even tidier than before SmithGuild had left.
Each piece of furniture arranged precisely parallel to the walls; the empty fruit bowl exactly centered on the round table. A single lapis phoenix sat on SmithGuild's couch. It looked at him, expressionless.
"HerbGuild wants everyone to see this picture," he said.
The bird did not move at all but sat like a statue. He didn't know if it was the same one that went to Harpy Island or not.
"It would help if we had a copy to send to the centaurs or even the dragons."
At this, the phoenix leaped from the couch to the table and looked down at the prophecy picture. It looked down with fixed attention and then bustled out of the room.
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