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24.32% Chimera Girl / Chapter 18: Whistling and Desisting

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Chapter 18: Whistling and Desisting

With the utmost discretion the gryphon showed them through a garden, another garden, and yet another garden, and then into a mansion that was Roman pavilion on the outside and steampunk dreamscape on the inside—culminating in a large copper-covered room featured what was unmistakably a bath tub. [Message received.] He then withdrew with a bow.

The large lion-clawed [gryphon-clawed?] tub was already filled with steaming water. [How did he manage that?]

Gazing at it, Nelda said: "Oh, I definitely love him."

"You're easy," HoneyBeard commented,

"Does everyone around here have heated running water and a bathtub? Is that easy to arrange in these parts?"

"I concede the point, but question your priorities," HoneyBeard grumped. "Bathing in hot water is emasculating. It ruins the balance of your humors."

[I've never noticed him to have much in the way of humor.] ,"Great. So, go and find some cold water. You probably need that more. Go, shoo!"

She pushed them out and barred the door. [So what is the highest level of technology in this land?] Looking around she could see metalwork of all kinds: rivets, pipes, taps… it would be every helpful if she knew anything about that kind of technology. But it was definitely another level from anything she's seen so far and not attributed to magic. [Do I actually believe in magic?]

She kicked of her shoes and lowered herself into the water and emitted a sound like an ecstatic digeridoo. The steaming water embraced her and melted away all her trivial discomforts. For about two seconds she was blissful content. Until all her more existential problems forged in through the gap to occupy her consciousness.

[I went back to Earth despite being away from my 'landing site'. So maybe they can retrieve me again?]

[The satyrs un-rescued me and I'm honestly not very annoyed about that.]

[I'm pretty sure I twisted my ankle.]

[I may have a crush on a furry.]

Each little conundrum fluttered into her pre-frontal cortex and landed like an autumn leaf and they all just sort of lay there in a pile. No conclusions or corollaries were drawn. Honestly, the executive parts of her brain had been fully engaged dealing with the influx of bizarre situations over the last few days, so they felt like they were owed a rest too.

#

She was started out of a sort of fugue state by a polite knock on the door. Nelda groped around for her clothing which was now a sodden puddle on the floor. She rapidly wrung out her bra and parties and clambered reluctantly out of the huge tub to put them on.

She hopped carefully to the door and opened it an inch to find the gryphon with his eyes conspicuously averted. "I employ these sheets for drying purposes. And another one or two that perhaps could be used as clothing until we devise a more fitting garment."

She accepted the pile of folded cloth and the gryphon made a retreat.

The material was buttery yellow. Three pieces each about the size of a tablecloth. Reluctantly ending her bath Nelda dried off with one and washed her distressed scrubs as best he could before hanging them over the edge of the tub.

Now there was the problem of how to create cloth-origami that would result in an adequate covering for a human body. [If I wasn't such a cultural-WonderBread I might have some idea how to go about this.] Nelda could only bring to mind the vaguest imagery of kilts and saris.

Ultimate she came up with wrapping one around like a strapless dress and the other over the top and tied at the back of her neck. She was feeling pretty smug about that solution until she turned and saw the end wall opposite the room's small high window was silver metal polished to a high shine. Probably to function as a mirror rather than purely as a fashion statement.

Her idea that she might look like a noble Roman in a toga was shattered as she saw in an instant that she looked more like roadkill in a duvet cover. The scratches on her arms and legs were obvious even in this imperfect reflection. On one side of her face she sported a dramatic blue-brown black eye, and on the other side a cut on her forehead had formed a scab roughly in shape of a map of Australia.

There was another hesitant knock at the door. "Dear Madam. I do apologize for bothering you again, but there is a matter relating to your associates."

[Oh lord.] "Coming."

Nelda piled her damp hair up on her head in a loose bun and swung open the door. "How is it that the satyr's our vexing our benevolent host?"

"Not vexing. Well… yes vexing. Or at least significantly irking." The Gryphon looked back in her direction as she emerged, and froze for a moment. He was accompanied him by two much quieter phoenixes that were bluish-silver and had heads more like crows, but similar long, sparkling tails.

"What's wrong." Nelda looked down at her curtain-dress. "Did I do something wrong?"

"No, not at all. You are gloriously civilized. Your associates are however bathing naked in the fountain outside my main entrance. It is not really the display I would wish a visitor to see." He paused and then stammered. "I would have course brought you in through that front entrance but you approached from the other side of the house which is where the bath house is…" he seemed to almost run out of breath. "I certainly meant no slight by it."

"Of course not. Let us not stand on ceremony." Nelda smiled.

"I did not wish to bother you during your ablutions but when I can across the satyr with the bi"—the gryphon made a curly motion by his head—"he was sitting on the edge of the fountain whistling and, um, pleasuring himself. And when I requested that he desist he said 'what, don't you like whistling?'"


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