It was dark inside the Seer's guest-hall with the doors pulled closed. A little light came in through the gaps in the door planks. Nelda considered the wall sconces, but decided not to try to get them lit.
[My expertise with kindling fires stops and starts with knowing how to operate a Bic lighter. I should have brought one with me from Earth. That and a lot of other things.]
Everyone seemed to be looking at her. SmithGuild, looking noticeably gaunt and disheveled now. Manny the manticore, looking like he had a headache and would like to take it out on anyone who gave him the opportunity. The pony centaur was picking fluff out of his hair.
It might not have been their most pressing issue but Nelda just had to ask. "So, mister… centaur."
"You don't remember my use-name, do you?" the centaur.
[Dude, there's been a lot going on!]
But Nelda took a deep breath and tried to remember how much it sucked to be a more-or-less forgotten cog in a not-very-nice machine. "Would you be so kind as to tell me your name?' she asked. "I can only imagine how tiresome it is being used as part of other people's plans and schemes. Let alone, I guess changed into another creature altogether." Her eyes flicked to SmithGuild. "But… and our only chance of making things a bit better is probably working together. There's a lot of assholes in the world and there doesn't seem to be any limit to what they are willing to do to get what they want."
There was a bit of a silent pause.
"I'm sorry," Nelda added. "That wasn't really a very inspiring thing to say but I am not really trying to be a leader here just more of and… organizer. To see if we can all agree on what to do about the current situation, the prophecy and… Brenda."
The centaur cocked his head. "Brenda?"
"That's the name of little Miss Method-Actor out there." She pointed vaguely towards the sky.
"So you know her real name," the centaur said. "That is good. If it is her real name. Like, I know different peoples have different ways but with the centaur there is a true given name from birth and a use-name of lineage. It refers to one's most recently deceased direct ancestor. So I am called Freyason, after my mother."
"Oh, I am sorry," Nedla said almost reflexively.
Manny snorted. Which seemed to remain Freyason that he was standing quite close to an enormous cannibal, and they hadn't even been introduced. The centaur moved each of his four hooves with a distinct 'clop' to move slightly further away.
"Right, so, Freyason. If you don't mind sharing, just how did… that, happen you."
Freyason shifted his hooves again, more an uneasy shuffle. "The woman came to the BellMare and was alone talking to her most of a day. I don't know if she convinced her of some quest, or bespelled her. I would not have thought that possible." He was lost in thought a moment. "Afterward we were sent out to capture any bird of flight we could find that was pure white in color. Geese, swans, doves even. She rejected any with even the slightly blemish of color on their feature, and then…." He shuddered.
Manny seemed bored and lay down against the wall with a thump and a sigh.
"I know it might be hard," Nelda said. "But it will help us to know how Brenda did this."
"You should stop saying her name," SmithGuild said. The myths say that takes the power out of it. Not a sort of magical theory I normally put much stock in but in these times we will need all the help we can get."
"Thank you SmithGuild. Freyason…?"
The center continued. "The BellMare ordered a great pit dug with straight sides. Not something that is easily done but they crafted tools and once it was done… pushed me into it. Told me it was a great honor. Killed all the birds and covered me first in the blood and ten the feathers. There was smoke, fumes of some kind and then… I became that thing. Bound with a gold harness to do only what she wanted."
"Wait, what happened to that?" Nelda's mind leaped to her potential future problem of controlling whatever kind of creature the unicorn turned out to be. Not exactly a nice thought but better than being trepanned by an evil horn-horse if it somehow came out wrong.
"I think…" SithGuild started, he seemed to need Nelda's tacit permission to continue so she tried to smile at him encouragingly. "I know we planned to await Asbolus and Jen's return. But this place, it may be defensible for the seer but he must know a few tricks we don't. I don't think we should await the witch's return. Know she has seen us she will be better prepared."
"She'll be killing more creatures even now," Freyason agreed.
"If blood and souls is what powers her magics," SmithGuild added, uneasily. "There is no real limit to what she can do other than what or who she can kill."
"How would she even arrive at that idea," Nelda exclaimed. "You've seen some small part of our world. There is no magic there. No way to learn how to do it. I have been blundering around not even aware of what I am doing. Literally not aware."
"Yes well, I do have a theory by perhaps…" he looked at Freyason and Manny as if constrained by their presence.
"Please, say what you think. There is no point in secrets between allies." [And I shall just have to assume these two are our allies now. There is no time left for doubt and inquisitions.] The truth of that thought ran through her with a shiver. They needed to move quickly now that Brenda was holding up her end of the prophecy.
SmithGuild leaned against the wall and clasped his hands awkwardly together. "I believe," he said. "That your abilities are greatly limited by your fear of doing harm to others, and perhaps by your doubt of yourself. Brenda is quite the reverse. Hurting others seems to bother her little. Each of you came here bringing with you, inside and unspoken, the power you would have in this realm. Your other kinspeople seem have no such magic and why that os I do not know, except perhaps the prophecy reflects or creates these limits on who is given power and who is not...:"
"Ugh." Nelda let this idea run around in her head a moment. "So because B… the witch is an asshole she has conscious control over the unlimited power of hurting other creatures and people. But there must be some limits to what she can do with it or she would have just killed us all with fireballs or lightning or some such theatrical bollocks."
SmithGuild seemed interested, as ever, by the assumptions she was making. It struck Nelda that he, as a Mirth Scholar, had been making something of a study of her -- perhaps for some time. [And I don't know how I feel about that.]
Nelda swept that all to the back of her mind. "The upshot of this all being, you think we should get out of here before the witch returns."
Manny, apparently a manticore of action, hauled himself to his feet and started to amble towards the door.
"But… where are we going?" Nelda asked.
"Seem queer enough to me, Manny rumbled. "Away from here."