“Should we go back?” Shelly asked once she finally washed away her shock.
For a brief moment, Luna looked at the Leviathan in surprise, but her answer didn’t come immediately as she looked back and forth between Shelly and the city. Watching as the right head of the serpent spewed a blue all-freezing gas in the direction of the green girl. Different from the blue one, who’d avoid the magic nimbly, this girl stood in place. Despite not being able to make out the details, Shelly did manage to see as a green bubble covered the girl just before she was engulfed in the icy mist.
After the serpent stopped to get its breath back, it revealed a large sphere of ice in place of where the girl had been. For a moment it looked smug as it stared down at it, but soon it widened its eyes in shock and flew back.
Just in time, as a massive magic circle appeared right around the area where the serpent had been floating previously, and shone brightly as a massive explosion of light and leaves occurred.
“…am I seriously going to need to compete with THAT?” Shelly asked worried, seeing how spiky and dangerous the plant looked was enough to give her the shivers.
“It’s… not as bad as it looks.” Luna replied briefly after heaving a sigh of relief upon seeing that the two in the distance weren’t hurt. “All creatures instinctively use mana to protect themselves, so someone like you would most likely survive that without trouble.”
“Sorry if I find it a bit hard to believe.” Shelly replied a bit dryly before sighing and shaking her head. “Still, is it really a young girl doing all that?” She asked a bit dubious, yet Luna simply nodded.
“As far as we know, yes.” Luna replied as she watched the two-headed serpent roar loudly enough to cause the very water where they were to shake. “Looks like it’s about to end.” She said with a sigh. “We should go now. If you get found out right away it might be a bit dangerous, seeing how you still…” She looked down towards Shelly’s hand, or more specifically, the rings in her hand.
“Ah…” Shelly made a complex expression before looking back to the battlefield. “But, shouldn’t you help him or something?”
“There’s no need. He’s a lot tougher than he looks.” Luna replied with a brief smile while Shelly’s eyebrow twitched. TOUGHER than he looks? He looked pretty monstrous for her right now. “I don’t think he would need help for now. Even less with only one of them here.”
“…If you say so…” Shelly replied worriedly before looking back to the battle scene, not entirely sure if she should root for the serpent or the girl. Deciding that thinking too much wouldn’t last, she soon dove back into water, following the mermaid. “…It will take some time to get used to this.” Shelly mentioned after releasing her breath, earning a slight giggle from Luna. “Anyway, what was that? With the sky all green and whatnot?” If she stopped to think, when they showed her the image earlier, the sky also had an odd coloration.
“That was an isolation barrier.” The mermaid explained while looking back to see if Shelly was following her. “It severs the connection between the physical and spectral world, creating a non-existent copy of the world within a delimited zone of effect.”
“Then, it basically means that no matter what happen in this world, it won’t affect the outer one?” Shelly asked dubiously, to which Luna nodded. “That sounds complex.” She said with a frown.
“It’s a lot easier than it looks, to be honest.” Luna said quickly, upon which Shelly widened her eyes surprised. “And well, it’s not like nothing affects the real world to be honest. Some things that have a stronger connection to the spectral world do carry over their properties.” As she said that, she looked towards the place where they had accessed the pillar earlier. “We shouldn’t have any problems being so deep into the sea.”
Shelly nodded despite the fact that Luna was already heading forward and wasn’t paying attention to her anymore.
Before they even got to the third pillar, the feeling of being out-of-place caused by the spell had gone away and they guessed that the battle was over. Even before that Luna had already started teaching Shelly the basic theories of magic for their training later on.
On the other hand, the leviathan absentmindedly formed her own swimming form, where she’d just lazily swish her tail sideways while leaving her own body mostly float with the current itself.
“Water-attuned creatures like us aren’t really affected by water resistance!” Shelly recalled Luna saying while happily humming a song.
In fact, rather than feeling the water resist her movement, it almost felt like it was happily pulling her along instead. Even the simple act of swimming around felt extremely satisfying and comfortable unlike anything she had felt previously, to the point that she felt like she might just stop bothering with changing back.
She slapped her cheeks worried when she caught that train of thought, her sudden action scaring away a couple of fishes.
“…Fish?” She asked surprised upon noticing that they were now in a more populated area of the coast.
“There’s an old sunken ship around here, so these little guys use it as an artificial reef.” Luna explained happily while watching Shelly’s amazement.
Shelly absent-mindedly agreed while noticing the significant increase in wildlife around her. It’s not like she was in one of those reefs shown in the TV, but there were a couple or more school of fishes swimming around her.
Awkwardly swimming aside to avoid the schools of fishes, she eventually caught up with Luna on their way to the next spot they had to check.
“By the way, you should get used to having fishes following you around whenever you swim at these depths.” Luna warned her as she stopped and looked around.
“…They are following me, aren’t they?” Shelly commented drily without even needing to look behind her, since she had somehow felt it, but all the fishes she had crossed paths with were a few meters behind her, forming a massive mixed school of sorts.
“They probably instinctively recognize you as the new boss of this area.” Luna replied happily. “And since you aren’t actively hunting them, they don’t seem to mind following you.” She pointed towards the school and smiled. “Look, there’s even a big one following you!” She said happily.
“Big one?” Shelly asked surprised before turning back, only to suddenly let out a surprised shrill and swim all the way behind Luna in one fell movement that caught the mermaid off-guard. “S-SHARK?”
Looking back at the large-multi colored scenery of different sized and shaped fishes, a single large and grey figure swam around the whole school, either as if keeping them in place or protecting them. With it’s vertical rear fin and a menacingly large mouth, it was unmistakable the poster-boy of the underwater predators.
Luna giggled amused while feeling Shelly holding tightly to her shoulders. Maybe a bit too tightly, but it couldn’t be helped.
“You do know that sharks aren’t as deadly as you were led to believe, right?” Luna said awkwardly.
“B-But… Sh-Shark…” Shelly said scared while peeking over the mermaid’s shoulder.
Luna sighed heavily, and before Shelly could react, she swam around the Leviathan and forcefully pushed her back, making her approach the shark whether she liked it or not.
“Look, sharks don’t really hunt people as you may think, okay? I doubt he even sees you as a food source if anything.” Luna said in a calming voice. “Besides, right now you are the queen of this area, so why don’t you try and give him a chance?”
“But…” Shelly hesitated for a moment. “Couldn’t you have chosen another word at least?” She complained while trying to turn her mind away from the current situation.
Noticing that they were approaching, the great animal stopped circling around the fishes and instead turned towards the duo, eyeing them curiously.
“Come on. Isn’t he cute?” Luna said cheerfully while pushing Shelly’s arm forward.
“Can’t you at least give me the chance to get used to my body before we do this?” Shelly said while trying to run away.
“But that might take time. busting the myth about sharks takes only a moment.” Luna said decisively.
While she wasn’t entirely sure if it was a good idea to do that, Shelly couldn’t help but think that Luna was literally raised on the ocean, so she most likely was speaking the truth. On the other hand, her only previous contact with sharks came from TV and other of such media, and thus she was very worried on how to deal with it. Even within the beach, the sharks rarely ever came close to the shore, so news were extremely rare as well.
However, when she noticed that somehow having a face-to-face meeting with a shark was actually one of the most common things to happen to her during that day, she couldn’t help but feel that it might not actually be that bad.
After much hesitation, Shelly finally placed her hand on top of the shark’s nose, feeling surprised at the exoctic rough sensation, she slowly caressed it, feeling as the shark stopped for a moment to stare at her.
“…This isn’t so bad.” Shelly said with some slight relief to her voice before turning and smiling a bit embarrassed for all the scene she caused.
“See? There’s just no way he would…” Luna started, but she never finished her words, because Shelly flinched noticeably as something pointy touched her hand.
The leviathan turned her head back to the shark like a badly oiled machine, her eyes going blank as she looked at the shark absentmindedly keeping her hand within its mouth.
“…There hast been sightings of a flying shark amongst the city’s populace today.” Ammon said as she sat in her office and looked over at the laptop before her. “Apparently, the beast leapt from the deep water and went tens of meters upon the sky before falling back upon the water.” She raised her eyes from the screen and eyed the awkward looking Leviathan. “It was suspiciously close to where thy mission had been.”
“I sincerely have no words to defend myself.” She replied while looking downwards.
“…Did thee at least take a picture?” Ammon asked suddenly, upon which Shelly blanked out for a moment.
“Such a shame. Must have been funny.” The demoness mentioned with a slightly disappointed smile. Staring at her in shock, Shelly felt confused, and only after the demoness cleared her throat that she finally snapped out of it. “Forget about that. Did… Hast thou done thine job?”
“Ah, yes.” Shelly said with a nod and a bit more serious look. “According to Luna, number one and seven need to be replaced, while four need a small repair work. She also managed to do some quick repairs on three and said it should hold for a bit more than a week as is.”
“Hmm. Good. We shall notify the relics department.” She said while lowering her body and fishing a paper from a drawer in her desk. “…Is something bothering thee?”
“Well… yes. to be honest.” Shelly said with a sigh. “Back when I was in the ocean, I had this thought of not wanting to change back.” She made a small grimace. “If I said I wasn’t afraid that this body is changing me somehow, I’d be lying.”
“…Thy worries are understandable.” Ammon replied with a heavy sigh and looked at her with gentle eyes, giving Shelly some mixed feelings. “The mind tis but a plaything of the body.” Ammon said, Shocking shelly as the meaning of the words sunk in. “However, thee must also remember that the one who rules thine body, is the mind.” It took even longer for the words of Ammon to sink in this time, and by the time she understood, the demon went on. “It is true that thy body might be affecting thy thoughts, but the same can also be said when thee finally return to thine body. With that, thou might feel like changing back into this body shall be undesirable.”
“So… You think that it might just be temporary?” Shelly asked with a slight relief to her tone.
“Indeed. While there might be some more persisting effects, I do not believe that they shall be of great impact. And most likely they shall not be long lasting.” As Ammon said that, she made a slight frown, as if thinking things over. “However, on the off chance that the effects becomes bigger than the expected, then know that we shall take it upon ourself to make up for any damage. Be it mental or physical.”
For a long time, Shelly and Ammon looked at each other, the leviathan shocked and the demon trying to pass on her dedication.
“…I…” Shelly hesitated before finally sighing. “…I’m not so sure about staying in this job anymore.” She admitted. “This is turning out a lot more… A lot more…” She frowned. “Dangerous, I guess? It sounds wrong, but it’s the best word I can think of right now.”
“…Tis only be fair.” Ammon sighed tiredly before shaking her head heavily. “Could we at least ask of thee to stay here until we can find someone else?” Ammon asked worried. “And if it makes thou more at ease, as long as thou aren’t before we, nor does thy job directly requires it, we won’t ask thee to stay in this form.”
“Then…” Shelly started asking surprised, but Ammon quickly shook her head.
“Not right now.” She denied. “Tis would be dangerous to do that right now. As we said previously, thy soul needs to adjust itself to this new body before going back, least thee want true irreparable damage.”
“…Okay.” Shelly nodded. “I’ll… I guess I can at least stay in here for some time.” As Shelly said that, she fell upon a nearby chair mentally exhausted, not knowing how to react anymore. “I really don’t mind working, but… Maybe this is a bit too much for me.”
Ammon gave a slightly sad smile before nodding. A pang of guilt crossed Shelly’s heart as the face of her best friend took such expression, and for a while, she almost ended up changing her mind.
Thankfully, the expression didn’t last for long, as Ammon stood up and walked towards a corner of the room. Following her with the her eyes, Shelly saw as the demon took up a small teapot and started brewing something.
“I feel that I’ll drink more tea today than I ever drank in my entire life.” She commented with self-mocking tone.
“Ermm…” Ammon suddenly hesitated. “Now that you mention it…” She made a complex expression. “Drinking too much…”
“It’s a bit too late for that.” Shelly replied whilst looking away with dead eyes. “Already dealt with it before coming here.”
“…Oh…” Ammon looked away embarrassed. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She said with a cracking voice.
“Don’t worry.” Shelly replied hollowly as Ammon went back to the teacup.
The two silently stood in the room as Ammon worked on her tea. For a moment, the leviathan couldn’t help but feel that the archdemon looked oddly fitting while working on her tea-set.
Understanding that she was doing something for her, but also knowing that there wasn’t anything she could do to help, Shelly’s eyes incidentally wandered off to peek around the room.
On one hand, it clearly looked like the office of a building, with the paperwork lying around and the laptop on her table. On the other hand, some clearly non-office things were laying around, such as magical circles, a staff, armor set and a sword. The bookshelf on the corner probably counted as both, seeing how there were both books on a strange language, and others about business management.
“Why is it that you needed someone so much that you’d even invite someone from this world?” Shelly asked after some time.
“We…” Ammon hesitated. “Our situation isn’t exactly good in our world.” Ammon explained while still looking away. After a few seconds of silence, Shelly let out an ‘Oh’.
“I see.” The leviathan nodded as she understood that there would be no more word on that.
After some minutes, the demon finally served the tea that seemed to glow a slight blue coloration despite it’s clear looks, giving it a mystical look. While on one hand she hesitated about drinking glowing water, it did look strangely appetizing.
“Feel free to calm yourself down here.” Ammon said she sipped her tea and sat down behind her laptop again.
“I’ll take you up on that.” The Leviathan said as she finally gathered courage and sipped the tea.
Surprised by the delicate and sweet taste of the drink, Shelly soon found herself filling with energy and even getting a bit more cheery. Not noticing the slight relieved smile forming on Ammon’s lips as she peeked at her, the Leviathan had soon emptied the cup and looked slightly regretful about it.
Shelly soon found herself awkwardly looking around in the search for more.
However, seeing that Ammon had already changed her focus back to the paperwork, she felt a bit hesitant to disturb her, so she stood up and walked towards the teapot.
One thing she had to admit about the job was that everyone here was really nice to her. There wasn’t really anything to complain about personal relationship in here. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that there was this whole transformation and possible dangers to it, she would most likely have nothing to complain about. Heck, she was pretty sure she wouldn’t find a place where the boss would boil her a tea to help her calm down.
As she poured herself some more of the tasty tea, a sigh reached her ears, which twitched slightly as they tried to catch the sound a bit better.
She turned towards Ammon curious and saw as the demon rested her head on the table with clear exhaustion and annoyance in her face as she blankly stared at the screen of her laptop.
“Is something the matter?” Shelly asked.
“Yes.” Ammon said with a sigh. “Tis just an annoying issue that popped up.”
“…Did they appear again?” Shelly asked worried, but Ammon quickly shook her head.
“Nay. One of our stores is running low on a certain product right now, but the only truck we have available right now is stuck in traffic.” She explained;
For a moment, Shelly stared at Ammon confused, before finally busting out a brief giggle. Without even raising her head from the table, the demon raised her eyes towards shelly with a slightly annoyed expression.
“Sorry. it just that it sounded like a more common issue than what I expected.” Shelly told her.
“Common for thee, at least.” Ammon replied while stretching herself up and twisting her neck until it cracked, making herself a bit more comfortable while preparing to tackle the task ahead. “This concept of traffic is not very common within our world. Thine metal carriages are cheaper for carrying cargo, however they truly are vulnerable to the whims of thy people.”
“Haha…” Shelly giggled amused. “How do you do it in your world then?”
“For low cost transport, we’d just have hand-drawn carriages. It’s cheap and efficient, albeit a bit slow.” The demoness leaned back on the chair and stretched herself a bit while giving a slightly nostalgic smile. “For more secretive transport, we could always use a more expensive storage relic.”
“Well, now that sounds very fantasyish.” The leviathan said amused.
“But tis very expensive. While carrying a couple of clothes…” She motioned towards the necklace around Shelly’s neck, who absentmindedly touched it. “Tis not as expensive, however, were we to go and carry a cart’s worth of goods, tis would be prohibitively expensive.”
“I see. But what if you needed speed rather than secrecy?”
“We could always use some flying relics to carry the cargo.” Ammon said with an amused expression. “Some more gaudy people would even convert their carpets into flying relics. Tis was a sight to behold.” The leviathan blinked surprised at the unexpected mention of a known imagery. “While not exactly cheap, tis be much cheaper than the storage rings option.”
“Hmm. Fair point.” Shelly nodded amused. “I see why you can’t use those methods here.”
“Aye. Though, to be fair, I feel that I should introduce the concept of trucks in our own world.” The demoness stretched herself. “Though we would need to use some other type of traction.”
“Well, I’ll leave that to you. I’m not exactly an expert on the field.” Shelly shrugged it off. “That said, maybe I can help a bit? I did have to drive around in my last job, so I might have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
“…We’d gladly receive thynes help.” Ammon said with a nod while still sounding exhausted.
Smiling awkwardly, Shelly pulled a chair closer to the demoness and sat besides her, who pointed out to a message on the screen.
While thinking that it might not be that bad afterall and trying to not mind how much Ammon reminded her of Amy. For a moment she thought on how to react once she finally got back home the following day, but in the end, she decided to leave it for later. For now, she had to go through some paperwork.