It was purely a reflexive act, as a biologist, Nelda told herself. Of course, with the gryphon lying on his own couch she had opportunity to notice a complete lack of external genitalia in the area of his lion… loin.
It was like when, as a student, she had been taught about operant training using a computer simulation of a rat. The program simulated a rat's behavior as you taught it how to press a lever and respond to different schedules of reinforcement. As a biology major Nelda could not help but note that, while the computer rat was always referred to as 'he', it had no testicles. A feature that is hard to conceal on a real rat. [Sniffy was definitely a Sniff-ette.]
Gryphon SmithGuild might also be a gryph-ette, or given the way things were arranged around here possible neuter, intersex, or some other kind of sex-gender-etcetera. She contemplated that fact that it was all really none of her business after she woke up around dawn. She had consumed maybe 6 [7?] glasses of wine [sherry?] and so had matching pains head and foot which made any c=kind of sustained contemplation quite difficult.
She had been provided a cozy ground floor room with a squishy bed and window with shutters—which were open--and no glass. She was sleeping in her birthday suit under a single sheet in the pleasantly warm and breezy room. It was all more or less… okay, until an unfamiliar gryphon burst into her room.
It grabbed her foot and declared enthusiastically, "is this the broken one?"
No, that one's all right."
"Are your sure?" the small chocolate-brown colored gryphon manipulated her foot up and down. "Is it meant to do that? What is this thick-skinned part for?"
"That's the bit that goes on the ground, like the pad of my foot."
The female gryphon vigorously palpated Nelda's ankle. "But isn't this your hock."
"I mean yes, more or less. But that's still how we do things."
Her gryphon ran in belatedly. "Herby, I said I would introduce you. And that you should call at a civilized hour." He wasn't wearing any of his natty gryphon clothes, but it was difficult to consider him naked.
"Smithy, my bonny darling. Dawn is a very civilized hour," Herby she reached for Nelda's hurt ankle.
Nelda reflexively scrambled away, clutching the sheet to her chest.
"Are it's claws meant to look like that?" Herby asked.
"They are nails, and yes." Nelda was starting to get defensive.
Herby clapped her bird-hands together. "Oh like, the centaurs. It has foot-fingers. How delightful."
[The people are going to give me some kind of complex about my feet.]
Her gryphon pushed his sister from the room. "Wait in parlor, please. I will bring Lady Nelda in anon."
[When did I get a title?]
He returned to find Nelda still clutching a thin sheet to her chest as Herby loitered in the hallway.
"I do…" he began.
There was an increasingly familiar shimmer of golden light in the air. "You need to back away," Nelda warned. She struggled to her… foot.
"Of course, but I…"
With a flash Nelda was back on Earth, in the plant room, holding a sheet to her body Venus-de-Milo style. Time seemed to have moved on somewhat as Beaker was not on the floor. The furniture had been moved so that she was facing a long table covered in an incongruous white table cloth, to one side a rolling white-board was covered in handwritten equations and diagrams.
Hearing a gasp behind her she turned.
In front of her stood a lanky man with tanned skin and auburn hair, completely naked except for a pair of golden spectacles.
[You have got to be kidding me.]
[Well, he doesn't belong here.]
Nelda pressed her hand against than man's [gryph-man's?] chest and pushed him firmly back into the golden portal. Showing her naked ass to a panel of senior scientists in the process.
"Yes, that's her!" shouted a shrill voice. [Angry Brenda?]
Nelda's follow through plunged her hand into the puddle-portal. She felt it suck closed around her wrist. And then she found herself yanked and sucked perfunctorily back to Mirth.
She had barely a moment to adjust before the dark brown hurricane hurled her against the wall. Nelda instinctively pushed back and felt Herby's raptor-like beak snapping repeatedly a hair's breadth from her cheek.
"No sorceress hussy is going to steal my brother!"
Suddenly Honeybeard vaulting though the window and catapulted himself at Herby. Nelda barrel-rolled herself under the bed at hoofs and claws and horns flailed in all directions.
BugleHead clambered in, "What's going on?" he asked.
Herby and HoneyBeard were ineffectually wrestling in the corner, neither showing signed of being a gift MMA fighter.
"I honestly have no idea," SmithGuild replied. "I think they'll tire themselves out soon."
Under the bed one of the Lapis phoenixes was crouched, holding in is beak a large white shell, like a small nautilus. It dropped the shell and stepped away from it. Stared it Nelda for a few seconds, blinked, and then ran from the room almost tripping BugleHead in the process.
Past the shell, Nelda could see her sheet lying on the floor on the other side of the room.
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