[WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T COME HOME TONIGHT?]
[AND WHY THE HELL AREN’T YOU CALLING US?]
[SOMETHING HAPPENED, DIDN’T IT?]
[I’M GOING TO SEND BIG SIS THERE RIGHT NOW, YOU HEAR ME?]
The messages popped up in Michael’s cellphone one after another as Shauna started to sound more and more panicked. Either that or angry. Typing as quickly as she could with the still unfamiliar hands, she replied:
[Calm down. Nothing serious happened.]
[It’s just a trial thingy.]
She tried to placate the younger girl’s fury the best she could, however, things weren’t going so well.
[NO! I’M GOING THERE MYSELF!]
[…Are you serious?]
[It’s something about getting to know the company’s workers.]
[I’ll spend the night at the worker’s dorm they have here.]
[And why do you have to stay there for that?]
[I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.]
[What’s Grandpa’s favorite movie?]
[Only Mike know grandpa’s favorite movies.]
[Saving private Ryan.]
[…You have till six PM tomorrow.]
“I have till eighteen tomorrow to change back.” Michael said as she looked up from her cellphone and towards Ammon, who was folding a god-forbidden piece of cloth that was a woman’s clothes.
“Oh. Is it that bad?” The Arch-demon asked confused.
“Well… Best case scenario, Shauna and Amy might tie me in the room and not let me come next time.” She stopped to think for a moment before finally shuddering. “Worst case, They might come here and cause some serious chaos in the store.”
“Hmm… It seems our version in this world is quite the troublemaker.” Ammon mentioned before shaking her head. “That matters not. Thy body should stabilize much earlier tomorrow.” She said with a shrug. “Now, let go of that device. We have yet some more pieces of clot… Garments for you to try on.” She said while picking up a light blue sundress.
“Hmm… Any chance we can just settle on the shirt and jeans i tried earlier?” Michael… No, Shelly, as they were calling her now, said as she sighed in defeat. While she had tried to resist the girls’ insistence on trying clothes on her, after she almost injured Vivian with her newfound strength she settled down to avoid hurting the two.
“Tis true that such style fits thine character.” She said with a frown, before finally shrugging. “Still, as one who treads the path of a designer as a hobby, letting someone such as thou run away without finding some good bearings would be a stain in our career.”
After receiving those words for the Nth time in this last half hour, Shelly sighed and nodded while raising her hands up so that the smiling Vivian could help her put on another dress, a more risque, formal black dress with a cut on the lower back that could fit her tail.
“Say… Not that i don’t like receiving free clothes but… I can’t exactly go back home carrying those things after i change back, you know?” She said worriedly for a moment. “I’d be labeled a pervert instantly if the girls found female clothes in my wardrobe.”
“Worry not, for We have thought about that.” Ammon said proudly as she chose the next piece of clothing from another box. “We shall provide thee with a wardrobe within this territory of mine.” She said. “We shall explain about it later, but know that storage shall not be a problem for thee.” As she passed the next set towards the humming Siren, she blinked as if she recalled something and quickly picked up the shirt that she had been wearing earlier, as well as a large pair of pants. “Speaking of which, we need to do some preparations for thee.”
“Huh?” Shelly blinked surprised as she watched the demon surprised.
“Give me thy necklace for a moment.” She said while extending her hand towards the Leviathan. Shelly blinked surprised before taking a step back, using one of her hands to cover up the necklace.
“…Didn’t you say that i need this to change back?” Shelly said apprehensively.
“Indeed, but it will be of no use until thine body is done with its process.” Ammon replied, upon which Shelly, hesitatingly, removed the necklace and passed it to her.
The demoness accepted the necklace with a brief nod before walking to a quieter part of the room. Once there, she held the necklace in front of her chest while letting the clothes lay on the ground right in front of her, neatly folded.
Extending her arm forward, the demoness soon started reciting something in a strange and foreign language. Watching in confusion, Shelly saw as the area around Ammon seemed to darken, yet her body seemed to glow slightly under that darkened area.
Beneath her, lines of light started to form, expanding from her as the center and forming a complex structure with various symbols and shapes.
“…Should i be worried?” Shelly asked the Siren.
“Hmm?” Vivian blinked surprised, finally noticing what was happening around her. “Ermm… Looks like she is… ” She squinted her eyes while trying to make sense of the formation under Ammon and understand her words. “Sounds like a storage spell.” She said after a few seconds.
“Storage?” Shelly asked confused.
“Just a second…” Vivian asked as she once again focused on the spell. “…Ah. I think i get it.” She said after half a minute listening in. “That spell will work in tandem with the transformation trigger, and automatically store your current clothes while exchanging for the ones inside the necklace.” She explained with a smile.
It took Shelly roughly a second to process those words, but once she was done, she widened her eyes and nodded in surprised.
“I… Hadn’t even thought of that.” She said with relief. “It would be a disaster if i had changed back while still wearing these clothes.” She shivered in fear at the thought.
“That just goes to show you that Amy is always prepared for anything.” Vivian said with a slightly awkward smile.
“Hmm… Still, having you call her Amy is a bit confusing.” Shelly sighed before going back to watching in awe as Ammon went on with her magic.
Before her eyes, she saw the clothes that the demon had laid on the ground convert into some balls of light before floating and flowing into the necklace. Taking a deep breath as if she had finished something tiring, Ammon relaxed while the ambience around her went back to its normal state.
The Arch-demon took a quick look at the necklace before smiling proudly and turning back towards Shelly.
“Here, have thine necklace back.” She said, offering the jewelry back to the Leviathan. “For now, this shall only help thee as thou changeth bodies. However, once i have thy uniform ready, it shall also give thee quick access to it should it be needed.”
“Wait, i’ll have to wear a uniform?” Shelly said suspiciously.
“Worry not. It shalt only be during official works on the outside of the company.” Ammon explained. “This be mostly for thee safety, but otherwise, thou will not be required to wear it.”
“For my safety?” Shelly asked confused. “…Should i be worried? Actually, what IS my job about? You mentioned odd jobs, but i’m starting to doubt that’s really the case.”
“Well…” Ammon hesitated for a moment as she stopped to form her words. “For now, thy job will be precisely that, as thou still have to get used to this new body. Later on, we shall move thee towards the original purpose behind hiring thee, such as helping us test some projects in this world, as well as helping us secure some mana to export back to our own.”
“Testing projects… And securing Mana..?”
“I’ll explain everything to you later. It’s a bit complicated.” Vivian interjected with a wry smile before looking over Shelly. “Still, i think that if you could help out on the stores when you aren’t too busy would also be a great help. Possibly even modelling some of our clothes even.” She said with a widening smile.
“Ughh… You mean… That i’ll have to do that as a girl, right?” A sigh escaped from the Leviathan. “I shouldn’t have agreed so easily to this job.” She said filled with regret.
“Train in magic…?” Shelly said surprised as she followed Vivian through the hallways. Now back to wearing the more comfortable Tee and Jeans, they had separated from Ammon who had some official business to attend to.
“Yes. That and get used to your new body.” The Siren added with a smile. “After all, the difference in specs is like heaven and earth, as you have noticed.”
At the siren’s words, Shelly looked down at her fist before opening and closing it a couple of times. Indeed, as the siren had said, her body felt light. Light unlike anything she had ever felt before as a human.
She felt that if she tried, she could punch a hole through the wall right besides her and not even scratch her skin. Well, truthfully, it was just a feeling, but it still made her feel like she had such power in her new body.
Coming back to reality, she quickly noticed that Vivian had already opened up some distance between them, so she had to quickly dash forward to reach the Siren once again, then keep up a fast walking pace to compensate her shorter legs.
Complaining in her mind about not only having to deal with the female body, but also having to deal with this shorter, almost younger looking appearance, she quickly caught up to Vivian.
Still, that really was one long corridor she was on, now that she thought about it. They had to be walking for almost a minute now, and she still couldn’t see the end of it.
However, before she managed to word out her doubts, the siren came to a stop before a door and motioned for Shelly to follow her as she walked in.
“…id, ‘no way that’s going to work!’ But then i replied…” Came a cheerful female voice from the room as the two walked in. Noticing their presence, the woman stopped for a moment before continuing. “Sorry dear, looks like i have some work to do.”
At that moment, shelly finally managed to see the owner of the voice. A mature woman with long black hair extended all the way to her waist wearing a deep blue cloak. She had her back to them as she looked into a mirror in the corner of her room.
For a brief moment, Shelly managed to see that the mirror didn’t reflect the messy lab-like room, but instead showed a scenery of a simple yet comfy wooden house. The figure of a person covered the middle of the image, but before she had the chance to make out the person’s features, the woman waved her hand and the image dissolved itself, making the mirror turn back into reflecting the room.
“Hello, Vivy.” The woman said as she turned back towards them. “And i don’t think i’ve seen you before. You must be the new gu-girl. The new girl, right?”
As the woman introduced herself to Shelly, the leviathan replied with some brief and half-hearted words as she stared at the woman in shock. While she had initially thought that the woman was a human, she quickly reconsidered now that she had a better look.
While yes, she did look like a woman, around her thirty and something years and had a gentle, almost motherly look to herself, she had some very inhuman features. Key being the blue skin, completely black eyes and the two pair of ears on each side of her head, both pointy as an elf, with the upper ones being shorter and the lower ones being longer. Finally, she had a pair of red jewel-like gems embed a couple of centimeters below the outer corner of her eyes.
“Say, wasn’t she supposed to be a human?” The woman asked, apparently not noticing the girl’s shock.
“Well… it seems that something happened during the transformation process… I’m not entirely sure yet.” Vivian said awkwardly before shaking her head. “But that’s not what we came here for. Alunxa, you know what to do with Shelly.”
“Hmm. An affinity test, huh?” The blue woman said while smiling gently towards the still shocked Shelly. “Shelly, is it? It’s nice to meet you. My name is Alunxa, and i’m what you’d call a witch.” She said while extending her hand.
“Ah. Hmm. I’m Michael… Or rather, Shelly, human slash leviathan thingy.” Shelly replied while grasping the woman’s hand after shaking off her shock.
After all, she did expect to see some non-humans here after hearing that all the workers were from another world. She just didn’t expect it to be so soon. Still, a witch? While feeling curious about why the woman would call herself that, she couldn’t help but feel that her appearance did somewhat match the image, with the long cloak and black clothes underneath.
“I see… By the way, when I says witch, I’m not talking about my job, okay?” She said with a smile as if reading Shelly’s mind, who blinked surprised. “Despite what humans may have learnt, there is no such a thing as a woman becoming a witch. Much like how there’s no such a thing as a woman becoming a… I don’t know, a Mannavish?”
“…Mannavish?” Shelly asked confused.
“Think of it as a really small cat.” Vivian explained. “Like, top of your palm small.”
“Oh…” Shelly nodded before taking a moment to absorb the idea. “Wait, then witch is a race?”
“That’s right.” Alunxa said with a gentle smile while resting her hand on her chest. “And i’m one of them myself.” Her smile quickly grew a bit awkward as something came to her mind. “Well, not that we are innocent about the misunderstanding, anyway. But that’s not the reason why we are here, right?”
“Ah? Yes. Hmm, something about magic affinity right?” Shelly said while she recovered from the shock, and the witch nodded.
“Do you have any idea what it means?” She asked while motioning for Shelly to approach the mirror.
“If i go by the words alone, i’d say that it’s to see what kind of magic i’m the best at?” The Leviathan replied doubtfully, but upon seeing the smile of the witch, she felt a bit smug.
“Just touch the mirror.” She said while motioning towards the object.
Shelly nodded at the instruction while approaching the silver object that hung upon the wall. She hesitated for a moment, seeing how expensive looking the mirror was, but deciding that just waiting around would lead nowhere, she stretched her hand forward until it came in contact with the surface.
A surprised gasp escaped her as the feedback from the mirror was anything but a surface. Quickly removing her hand in surprise, she saw at the glass swayed and undulated like the surface of water. Not only that, but a soft, melodious hum echoed from the mirror throughout the entire room.
Confused by the reaction of the object, Shelly took a step back while looking at the two women. Vivian was looking at Alunxa as if waiting for verdict, and this one was looking at the mirror with an amused expression.
Noticing that she looked pleasantly surprised instead of angry, she calmed down while awaiting for her answer.
“Well… This is interesting.” The witch said amused while looking at the mirror. Waving her hand at it, she stopped it from humming and the rippling. “As expected, your main affinity is water.” Both Vivian and Shelly nodded. Until then, both of them agreed that was the expected. “However… It seems like your affinity for sound is just as great.”
“…Sound?” The leviathan asked confused. “…Is that even a magic type?”
“Heeh. Sound is it?” Vivian looked surprised before smiling. “This means that i can help you with that part, since it’s my main system.”
“Reall… Ah, yes… Sirens… Singing and stuff…” Shelly started surprised before stopping once she recalled the secretary’s race. “…Ermm… Just to be sure, but are the sirens i know the same as your world’s?”
“Mostly, yes.” Vivian said amused. “Though i do believe you think of us a creatures you’d find in the shores, so we might get confused with mermaids in your world from time to time.” Shelly listened to her words with curiosity.
“In fact, you could say that they are closer to the harpies than they are to mermaids.” Alunxa added with a gentle tone.
“Harpies?” Shelly asked curiously. “Then… Wind?”
“Yup. I’m specialized in both wind and sound magics.” Vivian nodded satisfied.
“I see. Anyway, is sound that rare for Leviathans?” Shelly asked, turning back to the witch.
“Well. Not so much that it’s rare for you to have it as it’s rare for you to not have ice or darkness.” Alunxa explained as she walked towards a big chest laying near the mirror and opened it. “In fact, much to most of our society amusement, it’s actually a bit strange how water isn’t as common amongst leviathans as one would expect.”
“Wait, but didn’t you say it’s not strange for me to have water?”
“Well, i worded it wrong.” Alunxa said as she stopped to think for a moment. “It’s something like this. We usually have two to three main affinities when it comes to magic.” As she said that, she pulled out a small box from the chest and wiped off a small amount to dust. “When it comes to leviathans, roughly one third have water affinity. However, nine out of ten will have either ice affinity, or dark affinity. Most having both.”
“That said, compared to other aquatic races such as mermaids and scyllas, whose population mostly have water affinity, you could say that Leviathans are a bit odd, having so few of their own with the affinity for the ambient they live in.” Vivian added on the side.
“…So… I’m a weirdo in a weird race?” Shelly asked a bit confused, but also amused.
“You could even say that they are cancelling each other.” Alunxa said amused before passing the box over to her. “Here. There should be a few accessories in there. Pick the grey and the light blue one.”
Picking up the box, Shelly curiously opened it and peeked inside. A bunch of multi-colored rings organized by color. Following the woman’s orders, she hesitatingly picked up the two rings that matched the colors mentioned and closed the box once again.
She looked up at Alunxa, asking for confirmation, and once the witch raised her hand, showing a ring similar to the ones she saw there on her middle finger, Shelly nodded before following her orders.
She put the grey sound ring on her left hand while the light blue water ring went on her right one.
Raising her hands before her eyes, she stared at the two fingers with a slight frown as she felt that they were a bit too effeminate looking.for her own tastes.
“Well, can’t really do much about it…” Shelly started saying, only to stop as she had a weird sensation take over her body. “W-Wha?”
She blinked surprised as she felt as if her stamina… no, as if her energy, some kind of energy was being sapped out of her body. Her breath became rugged as she felt tired in a way she had never before.
It wasn’t physical exhaustion, nor was it mental, but something else. Something completely different from what she had felt before.
“Don’t worry. The first time you wear the rings, they sip a portion your energy to enter a resonant state with you.” Alunxa explained as she gently tapped Shelly’s back. “Basically, you’ll be exhausted for a few minutes as it gets used to your body.”
“I… See…” Shelly said as she stood back up.
“The feeling sucks, doesn’t it?” Vivian commented in a wry tone, leading to an awkward laugh from Shelly.
“Yeah. It is.” Replied the Leviathan as she took a deep breath. “Anyway, what’s next?”
“Well, you’ll have to wait for your rings to finish their resonance with you.” Explained Alunxa. “So you might as well take your time to get on with your other tests and get used to your strength.” The witch said, making Shelly feel surprised for a moment. “Dear, i saw how you were awkwardly trying to avoid using your own strength. You had it hard today, hadn’t you?” The witch gently stroked the leviathan’s hair as she said that. “I’ll make some tea and take it to you. It should help you recover a bit faster.”
“Aah… Thanks. I’ll take up on your offer.”
With that, Shelly followed Vivian as they left Alunxa’s workshop towards their next stop. Half dragging her feet behind her, She glanced over the seemingly endless corridor and heaved a long sigh.
“Well, the chief said that you should get used to your body by doing some exerci…” Vivian suddenly stopped her words as one of the doors was slammed open.
While the two blinked surprised in surprise, Vivian quickly snapped back to reality and took a step towards the wall. While Shelly looked at her confused for a moment, she quickly was dragged towards the corner too.
Not even had she done that, something came from the door and zoomed past the duo as a bunch of creatures followed along with it. Looking at the scene, it took Shelly a whole second to recognize the thing that passed as a hospital bed, and that there was someone lying on it while the others followed along in worry.
Staring at the scene in shock and confusion, she turned towards Vivian asking for answers with her eyes.
“Ahh… Looks like Troubador ran into the magical girls again.” The Siren said with a tired sigh. “Geez, it’s the third time this month.”