It's a pleasant day for travel, and Deka's enjoying it - just enough clouds in the sky to cut the early summer heat, a nice breeze, birds singing in the trees, the clop of her draft goat's hooves on the trail, the twittering of her griffon friends as they flit from tree to tree overhead, keeping pace with her cart. She's excited, too: She's on her way to wizard college, but she's decided to check with any wizards she hears of along the way, as well, to see if she can find an apprenticeship, and the people in the last village she passed suggested she try here, at the arboreal mansion she's surely just a few minutes from being able to glimpse through the trees.
"Also because it's heavy, it holds you up, and you can push on it to move. Not as much as rock, but some. That's the easiest way to swim - stay on top, let it hold you, push it behind you to go forward. Easiest to stay on top if you're relaxed, and spreading out helps too." Phantasm goes down to the water to demonstrate, as she talks, bobbing on the surface of the water in a way not entirely unlike a duck.
"Easiest to just try it, really. Want to?"
One considers the question seriously, and then nods tentatively. "I- you'll- if I get it wrong, you'll...help?"
"Yeah. Stay close, but I'll watch you."
He nods, and will, somewhat tentatively, go into the water. It's a...peculiar sensation, at first, and he's not sure if it's good or bad? It's not something he's used to, and it feels like it should be painful, but he doesn't think it is?
Phantasm paddles over, using his wings as much as his feet. "You okay? Look..." he trails off, searching for the word, and then nudges One with his head when he can't come up with one.
"I...think so?" One says, paddling out a little further. "Feels...strange? Water and fire don't...mix? But...mostly just strange?"
"Wuk," he opines, following closely along.
He's a little ungainly as he starts out, but fairly quickly seems to get the hang of it, even if he's not particularly confident about it. And it...is actually quite enjoyable?
Figment joins them once One seems comfortable in the water, and shows him how to duck under the surface and splash around to wash.
He seems to enjoy that! He still seems uncertain about the sensation, but that seems to be outweighed by the enjoyment. He cleans up as best he can, and then paddles back to the shore.
The griffons join him, and show him how to shake himself mostly-dry.
"Ready to go? No - last minute worries?"
One thinks for a moment. "They won't make me sit for drawing if I don't want to?"
"We'll leave if they try. And they probably won't."
Phantasm ruffles up his feathers. "Yeah. They can't make you."
One nods. "Okay. That was- all. I was worried about."
Deka reaches down to offer to pick him up. "Some people - think it's okay, to tell people what to do. It happens. And - sometimes they get mad, if you say no. But you can still say no, they don't get to make you. Almost all places other people will help you, if someone tries to make you do something."
He'll accept the pick up offer, standing up onto his hindlegs to hold out his forelegs. "You won't let them."
Scoop. Cuddle. "We won't. And - after, maybe, take you to meet the guard, talk to them about it? That's - who you'd talk to, for help. If you were alone."
He cuddles into her and hums. "...Maybe? If- If I'm not- too tired?"
"Sure. Can ask another time, too, if you want."
Figment had taken off to find Tag; she's back now, and points Deka in the right direction to retrieve him. It's a short walk, and it turns out that he's gotten a young elf to throw a stick for him to fetch. She collects him- he's reluctant to leave his game, but comes when she insists - and they can go look for this maple tree, Figment flying ahead while Phantasm stays with the group.
"You know what you want to buy?"
"Not yet. Wuk. A little painting if they're good, maybe. Or save it."
"Be nice to have a painting of you."
One listens thoughtfully to the conversation, but doesn't really have much to say.
They make their way to the house; it's less crowded than yesterday, and much easier to find a path that avoids the places where people are congregating. The house, when they get there, is in the same style as the rest of the village, blending in with its tree, but it's additionally decorated with fantastical flowers, brightly feathered birds, giant insects, and other exotic wildlife, painted onto bits of wood and hung from branches or attached to the trunk.
Deka knocks on the door, but it's Phantasm who speaks: "Hi, we hear you have some work for us? Wuk."
The elf on the other side seems a little startled, but then delighted. "Oh, yes, of course! Come in, come in. Are you all here to sit for me?"
"My sister and me, yes. Deka and One maybe, One's shy."
"Oh, that's all right." She gives One a sympathetic look. "I'll be glad to have just the two of you. What's your species called?"
"It's not, really. We're - wuk - hidden, mostly."
"Huh. And you don't have a name amongst yourselves?"
"Huh. Is 'mini griffon' okay, if anyone asks?"
They come to the elf's studio, an open room with good light and lots of paintings in various states of completion stacked against the walls. There's a tall stool in the middle of the room, with an easel set up facing it, and she looks speculatively at it, but seems satisfied when Phantasm glides over to settle on it.
"Have you done this before?"
"A few times. Deka's clan has a painter."
"Okay, I won't give you the whole rundown, then. Is two silver each all right for the day?"
"Wuk. I was hoping for three."
"I can do three. You're very pretty."
Phantasm preens at the compliment, and they get down to work; it mostly involves sitting very still, and occasionally changing position at the elf's direction or letting her have a closer look at the way a patch of feathers lays or a joint moves, or answering a question about what others of his species look like compared to the two of them. She largely ignores Deka and One, aside from a brief remark that they're welcome to get a drink from the kitchen while they're here; painting takes a lot of focus, apparently.
One half-hides in Deka's arms until the elf is otherwise occupied focusing on the painting. Then he starts to crane his head around, looking at everything curiously, and watching the process of sitting for the painting to try and work out if he thinks he'd be okay to do it.
...The touching starts leaning him towards not doing it, but he watches how she's touching them?
Quite gently, and always with a reason given - Figment has trouble figuring out how to hold her wings to let her see all the feathers, and after a few tries she comes over to guide her to the right spot, praising and thanking her when she gets it even with the assistance; later she wants to see how the transition from feathers to fur works on Phantasm's back, and she asks to pet him and get a close look at him ruffling his feathers up to get the best understanding of it, again thanking him when she's done.