"We will cooperate with your plan," Phyllis said. "For now."
Behind her, Tyrone seemed nervous and excited. Reg was eating from the bowl of grapes. Neither of them seemed to be a party to the dragon's skepticism.
Tyrone seemed to be having trouble with the serpentine part of his body. Some of it had got looped around the stairway railing, and he couldn't seem to work it lose.
"Ley's try going out the front door. You can get some ambulatory practice out on the beach."
She couldn't help but wonder what the genital situation was with human-snake dragons. [It's not that I'm obsessed with chimera bits-and-bobs. But inquiring minds….]
She helped Tyrone get himself unlooped. "I think we won't be getting out of here until tomorrow morning," she said. "Oops." She ended up straddling one part of his snake body with the tail part draped over her shoulder.
While she was trying to dismount, Tyrone was trying to get turned around. She ended up on the floor on her back with a loop of snake-body pressing down on her,
"This is a bit much for a first date, Tyrone," she called.
"Sorry, I'm not really in control of it," he replied,
[Said the Bishop to the call girl.]
Nelda managed to crawl out. A large snake scale was stuck to her forehead. She pulled it off, and held it up. "Oops, sorry. I hope that didn't hurt."
Tyrone clambered over his own body and took it from her. "I guess it'll grow back?"
It was kind of nice for Team Idiot to have something to work together on. They carried Tyrone out lie a deflated telephone pole. They got him out onto the sand.
Nelda ket a weather eye out for mermaids. [Not what Disney led me to expect those gals.]
"Right, Tyrone," she said. "The instincts will all be in there. I suggest you just practice going up and down for a while. It'll all come together."
She backed up and indicated the others follow suit.
SmithGuild stood next to her. I should probably do the same," he said. "I know Jen says that riding horses is perfectly normal, but it feels just… dirty somehow."
"Oh, I don't think so," Nelda said. "I don't know what the other centaurs would make of it though. If I had to play physical therapist, I would say try walking in the water for a while to get your balance. Once you trust yourself, you'll walk normally with minimal strain on the body. I've got to agree with Jen on one thing; the human spine is a bit of a bodge job."
Nelda looked out to sea. Tyrone's plight overcame her concern about being observed.
"On the other hand: mermaids," she added.
Smithguild nodded. "I think I'll go and pull together some material for the trip. I have a few gifts that might help make Asbolus feel cooperative." He paused for a while. "This is normally about the time of year when I would start up my smelting furnace, but I think this year…."
He wandered back towards the house.
Nelda took a deep breath of the salty air which brought with it a mild flashback to being almost-drowned by mermaids. "I am really ruining that man's life."
She had meant to say that to herself, but HoneyBeard replied from behind her: "You could probably blame that partly on me."
Turning, Nelda asked archly, "And how would that be?"
"The way I see it," HoneyBeard said, surveying Tyrrons mostly unsuccessful attempts to make forward progress down the beach.
"Make an S-shape!" Nelda should. She made a weaving movement with her hands. "It's called lateral undulation! Look at me applying my undergraduate ethology knowledge." Turning to HoneyBeard, she added, "Sorry, you were saying?"
"The way I see it," he repeated with more emphasis. "I accepted the role of idiot herder. And I displayed such an aptitude for it; the great heavenly powers decided I was being under-used. And so they bestowed upon me all of these extra idiots." He made a Barker's Beauty gesture to the beach.
BugleHead and Reg were now running in advance of Tyrone shouting encouragement accompanied by a number of Jasper phoenixes that squawked toadly and discordantly. The satyrs helped Tyrone right himself every time he face-planted in the sand. Most of his body was very serpentine, which made the vertical orientation of his human-like torso a bit of an aberration. Jen was holding the alicorn jauntily over one shoulder, her pony-tail and tail-tail blowing picturesquely in the wind. Phyllis was near the water's edge. From this distance, her body was really most comparable to a rabbit or squirrel in shape, but with a long sinuous neck and tail attached to each end. And of course, the wings, which she chose this moment to tentatively unfurl.
The bisk ocean wind immediately caught her, tossing Phyllis through the air until she hit Tyrone and then Buglehead, so they tumbled into a heap of mismatched limbs. BugleHead nimbly leaped out of the way and caught the Jasper crown that the sudden leap dislodged from his head — foiling the plans of the half dozen Jaspers that still followed him watching it avariciously.
"I can't fault your logic," Nelda said. "And when it comes to the motivations of greater powers, your guess is as good as mine." Her heart was invaded by a moment of intense neurotic doubt. "Where will we all end up?"
"As of tomorrow, on the road together," HoneyBeard replied. "Gods help us all."
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