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31.08% Chimera Girl / Chapter 23: Water Stalkers

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Chapter 23: Water Stalkers

[Bestiary entry #7: Unicorn, the one and only. Vestigial. Would make a good back scratcher].

Nelda asked, "HoneyBeard, could you do me a favor?"

"Well, let's see how we are doing on in terms of favors." He held up one hand, palm up. Who rescued you the first time you floated away? I think that was me. "Who put up with being floated into the sky and abducted by a dragon? That was me. Who jumped in and prevented a savage gryphon attack? That was also me--"

"All the same, do you want to put another tally mark on your side of the leger? It comes with full I-told-you-so rights and potential solo ownership of an authentic treasure. And if I make an idiot move that actually gets me killed, you can give the alicorn to BugleHead."

HoneyBeard huffed, trying to look stern. "Sure, why not? If we go back home without any evidence, no one is going to believe this shit."

"So there you go. That's one point of stuff."

Jus as HoneyBeard snatched the horn; the roof hatch popped up again. HoneyBeard hid the unicorn horn behind his back.

SmithGuild popped his head up like a majestic meerkat. "Is everything all… it is rather disorderly up here. I had no idea." He seemed to be wearing a different vest now, with a coordinated cravat and his eyeglasses were now attached to a chain that went around the back f his neck.

"We were just enjoying the view," Nelda limped forward to distract him. "I would love to go down to the beach."

#

Nelda sighed as she waded into the water, feeling the weight lift off her body. The sea was tepid, salty, and crystal clear.

The turned to see both gryphons and Bugle head watching her will alarm.

"What are you doing?" SmithGuild asked.

"Um, swimming. Sort of. I still have feet on the ground, so it's more like just standing in water."

She could see them all amending their own internal bestiaries. [Neldans, rare (?): erratically flighted, stands in water sometimes.]

"You should try it," Nelda suggested.

"Saltwater makes my feathers fall out," SmithGuild said.

[Wow. Beachfront property is really wasted on you guys.]

BugleHead stood fetlock-deep in the gently lapping water. HoneyBeard trudged over, fresh soil obvious on his hooves and fingers.

[Way to be subtle about it, dude.]

"Is this idiot move of the day?" HoneyBeard asked.

"It is!" Nedla replied with exaggerated enthusiasm. "Idiot move of the day is swimming in possibly shark-infested waters, with the bonus-feature of possible death by drowning due to swimming while wearing two—count them—two bedsheets."

SmithGuild commented mildly. "They are actually bath sheets. And I for one appreciate individuals that comport themselves with a certain amount of dignity. For example by going about dressed."

Nelda leaned back into the water, paddling with her arms to keep her head above water. That comment might have been taken as a jab at the satyrs, but looking over o Herby….

[Feathers: check. Fur check. Big flappy wings: check. Clothing… nada.]

"Oh, don't start, Smithy…" Herby began. "You're such a prude."

Not really eager to start another sibling debate, Nelda sighed. She took a deep breath and bobby under the water. Her eyes blinked open briefly. She saw bubblies, ad the fine sand stirred up into the water and a flash of something silver.

Nelda flailed to her feet and looked in that direction. But all she could see now was the sunlight sparkling off the broken ripples of the water.

"I should have asked. Are there sharks. Or other bitey things?" Nelda tried to stand, but she had drifted over a hollow in the sand and couldn't feel the ground.

SmithGuild's beak edges curved into that charming smile of his. "That's how you can tell someone is an adventurer. They act first and then ask the questions."

"What a coincidence," HoneyBeard muttered. That's also how you can tell someone's an idiot."

BuglehHead was poking something at the edge of the water with a sun-beached stick and not paying much attention to any of them.

Nelda started doggy-paddling back to sure. "Doesn't exactly answer the question, guys."

"I would say, not bitey as such." SmithGuild turned to Herby. "What would you say, sister? Some things might be characterized as a tad squeezy, or somewhat stingy?"

Herby replied mildly, "I would say more in the nature of prickly, or perhaps burny. And of course--"

Nelda began to paddle more vigorous. At that moment something latched securely onto Nelda's uninjured ankle. Before it yanked her down she had just enough time to say:

"Oh, sh—"


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