SmithGuild took a deep breath. "My good sister has gone to have a word with the harpies. They may be able to illuminate the actions of the mermaids. Mermaids are curious people. Every band has a distinct cult. Their religious practices are very diverse, and they constantly war with each other over them."
[Bestiary #9: Harpies: insert-shrug-here.]
[Bestiary entry #8 redux: Mermaids. They sound like right assholes.]
Leaning forward, Nelda winced. "And yet you place some weight on their prophecies?"
"Curiously, when different bands and even lone mermaids have made pronouncements of a declared prophecy." We looked slightly reluctant to admit it. "These cases have, even by an objective accounting, often proved to be accurate. Gryphon ScribeGuild has performed a careful analysis."
[I am dying to ask how many gryphons there are and where they come from. The cat-birds and the bees, so to speak. But we've had enough embarrassment for one day. Fingers crossed.]
"But then, what is this one, exactly. I would hate to think I am… bad."
"Of course not." SmithGuild put one yellow clawed hand on her forearm. She had not expected it to be so warm.
[Of course: I'm not bad, or of course: I'm in denial about it?]
SmithGuild squeezed her arm in what was probably mean to be a reassuring gesture, but the inch ling talons reduced the effect somewhat. "The prophecy is in the nature of an engraved picture on a stone. I have not seen it but heard it described as showing two persons of a description similar to you. Then there are scenes of war and finally, a large fire over a globe, taken by most to mean some kind of all-encompassing calamity."
"That's all rather… ambiguous."
"I do… there is another prophecy I would ask you about."
"Yes, a different more distant band of mermaids proclaimed a prophecy that Echnida Drakiana would have a terrible daughter."
[Just like my Mom.]
"Okay, I assume you mean terrible as in 'does terrible things'?"
SmithGuild nodded. "This daughter will be a new creature known as a sphynx, and her daughter will be called Phix."
[Holy mother of cat.]
He added cautiously, "You were not enunciating especially clearly, but the other day…"
"I know someone who has a cat call Phix. It's not an actually sphynx; it's just named after them."
There followed a long conversation about hairless pet cats, and human myth, that left both of them even more confused.
"It's not that they necessarily thought, well, a lot of them probably thought these people were real in antiquity. But by my time there are just amusing tails and something to study or use to make up your own stories."
"And yet, if the prophecy is true it will be real here and now."
[My head hurts.] Nelda thought about how in the last attempted reality take-back, Angry Brenda had been in the plant room. Angry Brenda had called out, what was it, something like 'it's her' or 'that's her.' But they were probably just trying to figure out who she was and her direct supervisor would be an obvious one for the lineup.
Nelda tried to wiggle the toes on each foot and more or less succeeded. [Ouch.] "This has been a rather heavy discussion to have before breakfast. Perhaps I can get dressed and relocate somewhere more appropriate, and we can pick things up from here."
SmithGuild made the feather-fluff motion that she was beginning to suspect amounted to blushing. "Of course, how rude of me."
Looking out her window, Nelda saw a crowd of the Jaspers hopping around in a tree profuse with dark purple apples. In their own somewhat haphazard style they were harvesting the fruit into small baskets and dragging them away.
[So they must be a good deal more useful than they appear. Someone has to be doing the gardening, and no one but the birds has made an appearance."
She tidied her dress and turned to pick up the not rock from the table. It was not there. She looked around on the floor and found nothing.
[Not to be a bitch, but I suspect the Lapis's. I bet SmothGuild's scolding her over the shoe incident reflects a pattern of behavior—and if not the roof certainly does."
It was ridiculously challenging to walk with a twisted ankle and a knee that probably couldn't bend anyway, but didn't have the option under four or five layers of bandage.
With a certain amount of creativity and crab walking, she made her way to the stairwell leading to the roof and maneuvered her way to the top.
[Imagine how SmithGuild will react when I have to ask him for something to use as feminine hygene products. Who knows of any fo the extant species of this world menstruate.]
She flipped up the hatch, and found herself looking at all three Lapis bird standing not 10 feet away. Like a bizarre mash up of the opening of MacBeth and the Wizard of Oz, they were standing around a familiar looking large white shell, turned open end up.
All three birds turned and looked at her with steely eyes. They hunched their shoulders, brought their corvid-like beaks forward and began to advance.
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