“You’re sure this is the entryway to the High King’s Causeway?” Jennie said. “It looks more like a graffiti-covered outhouse that was so far beyond human control it was simply abandoned.”
The Fáidh took a fresh puff of pipeweed and coughed. “Who’s to say it can’t be both? As anyone who was at Woodstock will agree, an outhouse’s worth lies not without but within. Though some nose-plugging may be advised; remind me to tell you the harrowing tale of Outhouse Row at Woodstock ’94 someday.”
Jennie stuck out her tongue. “Ew. Remind me not to listen.”
“I’ll need absolute concentration to coax the link back from the the Gentle Embrace, unless you fancy using the next terminus over which is a sewer runoff pipe. Keep the others quiet.” The Fáidh breathed deeply from his pipe once more, swayed gently, and began the ritual.
To Jennie it looked like he was pressing his hands to that unspeakable surface and singing the Rolling Stones in a loud, out-of-tune voice. “I’m just mortal clay, what do I know?” she sighed. In the meantime, it occurred to her that the Fáidh’s request might be a tad difficult.
Syke the androdryad paced sullenly near the wall, looking uncomfortable in the track suit Jennie had thrown on him and glaring at any of the tourists and other passersby who stared at the fig sapling poking out of his knapsack. “Oy, clay!” he cried at one particularly pernicious starer. “What are you glaring at? The son of Oxylus and Hamadryas isn’t a spectacle for rubbernecking clay like yourself!”
Jennie rushed over to calm him down. Considering that the fig tree was his actual substance, and the young man only its metaphysical spirit given form, she tried not to be too rough (or, heaven forbid, knock any leaves off the sapling). When Syke grabbed the offending tourist by his Arsenal FC jersey, though, Jennie all but tackled him as she pushed them apart.
Behind her, Jennie could make out Cary the motile caryatid column accosting another passerby. As a 3000-year-old stone statue, Cary’s disguise was already flimsy: thrift store clothes, foundation makeup, a hat and sunglasses. Cary’d reminded Jennie of a sorority girl earlier, gushing over the fabrics and weaves of people who had visited the Orb of Prophecy the column had been sworn to guard (until it was stolen out from under her). Now Cary was acting like one, trying to persuade a tourist to swap a designer top for a bulk thrift store sweater.
“Oh, that’s such a cute top! Is it sea silk or maybe saffron or gold thread? I just love fabrics, all kinds, every kind, always, forever! Do you think I could try it on? You can have my ratty old secondhand dump sweater for collateral; it’d look so cute on you! But not as cute at that top would look on me…”
Jennie had barely set the Arsenal FC fan on his way before she had to sprint over and keep Cary from bodily snatching the poor tourist’s clothes—easier said than done when the statue weighed somewhere north of a thousand pounds. But she was able to interject herself in such a way that the harried pedestrian could make her escape.
“At least tell me where you got it!” Cary cried forlornly to no reply.
Jennie corralled the two mythological malefactors back to the Fáidh just as the older man completed his incantation. Muttering something about he and Jennie having very different definitions of “quiet,” he flung the outhouse door open, revealing not an unspeakable loo but a long stone corridor paved with hexagons and lit by the lazily drifting blue fireflies. The Fáidh entered, as did Syke and Cary.
Jennie hesitated on the threshold. “I’m about to follow a stoner wizard, an angry young fig tree, and a sorority girl made from solid marble through an outhouse door into a mythical realm to follow a wax model of Éamon de Valera that stole from me in the National Irish Wax Museum. Somewhere, somehow, my decision-making paradigm took a real turn for the weird.”
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