This was also a group fond of music, as the woman and her companions began crooning a lullaby once they stood just under the hanging cages. There were no words, only a waving change of octave as though they were preparing for choir practice. It was a lovely song nonetheless, despite the hooded guard on the left sounding a bit flat. After finishing the minute-long impromptu concert, the woman took a single step forward and tilted her head to direct the room’s guests. “I trust you all slept well on your way here?”
Bastiick, answered before anyone else could possibly open their mouth. “Oh yes, I slept very well, thank you!”
The woman nodded. “Good. There is a lot of work to be done and you will need your rest to complete it.”
“I’m ready for anything!” Bastiick rushed to the front of his cage, causing the contraption to move back and forth like a giant swing. “Just tell me what needs to be done!”
Deigen stared at him. “Bastiick, are you quite alright?”
Bastiick made another jump of excitement in his cage, now making it swing the other direction. “Of course I’m alright, I’m more than alright, I’m wonderful, wonderful, I’m great!”
“Deigen-” V nodded at the deliriously happy man and the group below them, “-it’s that song they just sang, it must be the same one the children spoke of. They’ve cast a spell of some sort on him.”
“What an accusation,” scolded the woman, giving him a smile. “Not that it would affect your kind.” Her eyes danced from V to Deigen. “A pair of fools from the City of Fools we have the honor of hosting no doubt.”
“A pair of men cursed for trying to secure freedom and peace against ancient tyrants,” V returned coolly. “Our only foolishness is believing the world was never meant to be ruled by a single group of grievous scoundrels.”
Sylvia groaned inwardly, banging her head against the bars in her cage. She wasn’t sure which was worse, Bastiick’s deranged excitement or V and the woman’s apparent tendency for melodramatic seriousness.
The woman’s smile widened. “Then a pair of fools you truly are.” She turned her head toward Sylvia’s cage and stepped closer to it. “And what about you my dear? You’ve been strangely quiet.”
“What do you want me say?” Sylvia remained plopped down in her sitting position and shrugged.
For the first time since walking into the room, the woman appeared to have the ability to frown. “You don’t have something you would like to say to me? I’m a Keeper.”
“Good for you.” Sylvia tapped the cage’s floor with her heel. “Okay Keeper, I’m not a bird so I want out of this cage. I also want my pet monkey and the things you took without asking.” She sat waiting for a response but the woman only managed to form her crimson lips into a gaping ‘O’. “There, I said something.”
The woman’s face contorted further as though taking a long whiff of molded cheese. “You’re not a magical creature, how can you resist the song? You’re just a young girl!” The cheese-smelling face narrowed her eyes at Sylvia. “Unless there’s something more interesting than can be seen.”
“Nope, nope, nothing more interesting.” Deigen shook his head quickly. “Of course she’s a magical creature, she’s a ah, um-” he glanced at Sylvia while conjuring a description and turned back to the people below, “-a mermaid!”
One of the hooded guards in the Keeper’s posse took a step forward and raised his hood for a closer, confused study of Sylvia. The woman crossed her arms, her lips forming a thin line. “A mermaid. Really.”
“Yes, mermaid.” Deigen waved both arms toward Sylvia’s cage. “Born without the tail, poor girl. I hear she can’t even swim well. Family trait I believe.”
“Speaking of family, her grandfather was a magician from another world!” Bastiick yelled the words out with far more volume and enthusiasm than necessary.
“Magician from another world?” The woman’s eyes widened, fastening again the supposed mermaid.
“Bastiick, my grandfather was not a magician,” said Sylvia, letting out hefty sigh. “No one in my family even likes magic.”
“And no one in her family is from another world if that’s at all interesting,” added V. “Just a boring, ordinary girl. Nothing interesting at all.”
Bastiick looked appalled, waving his hand in the air as though no one would possibly pay him any attention otherwise. “Ordinary girl? She’s a magician and her uncle is an inventor who makes strange unexplainable contraptions!”
“He made a little oven called a toaster and it toasted the bread, Bastiick.” Deigen shook his head. “It really isn’t that unexplainable.”
“Or interesting,” added V. “Boring, boring, ordinary girl. Just your average seamstress from an unimportant village-”
“Yes, V, thank you!” Sylvia shot him a look. “I think you’ve established that I’m boring and ordinary and absolutely no use to anyone whatsoever.” The glare made its way to Deigen. “But apparently I’m a mermaid!”
Deigen nodded, addressing the woman and her hooded companions. “It’s a little village by the sea she’s from.”