Shelly was many things when she woke up in the morning. She was refreshed from having one of the best sleeps she had in her life. She was also tired, knowing that she’d have a very tiring day ahead of herself. There was also expectancy, after all, just yesterday she had began to meddle with magic, and to say that she didn’t want to see what would happen would be a lie.
However, above all else, there were two things that she was at that moment that stood over the others.
She was drenched, and she was annoyed.
Twisting herself upright, she propelled herself towards the living room, and then towards the kitchen, where she felt a delicious smell coming from. Raising herself from the water and looking around, she soon found the mermaid as she stood before the oven in her human form.
“Good morning, dear.” She said while looking over her shoulder. “I am just finishing breakfast.”
“I noticed.” Shelly said with a nod as she left the water. “Just a second… How was it again…” She said while stopping to focus for a moment.
She recalled back to the lessons they had late last night. While she did ask for some help training more with transformations, she did learn a very basic water-based spell that she decided that it would be a necessary addition to her repertoire if she were to stay as she was.
It took her a moment to focus on the water that clung to her body and clothes and infuse it with her own magic. While on one hand it required a lot less raw magic to make do this action, it also required a bit more of focus and felt more complex than the transformation. If she had to decide which one was harder, though, she would still choose the transformation if not because of the sheer amount of detail she needed to pull it out.
After a second or so focusing, she finally let the magic run its course and felt as her body instantly dried off as the water evaporated from her skin and clothes.
She nodded satisfied once she decided that the spell had worked before turning back to the mermaid.
“I wasn’t sure what you’d like for breakfast, so I made some toast and am about to finish cooking this fish. If you’d rather, though, I just bought some bacon and it shouldn’t take too long for me to…” The mermaid started saying as she looked around worriedly.
“Woah. Calm down.” Shelly said shocked. “I’m fine with some toast… Though I guess some fish would also be nice. I’m fairly hungry to be honest.” While she did think about it, she decided to not comment on how weird the idea of a mermaid cooking fish was for her.
“Are you sure? It shouldn’t take too long for me to fix you something else you like, you know?” Luna stated with a slight worried frown.
“No, seriously, this is more than enough. Rather, if you went out to buy food, how long have you been awake?” Shelly asked curious.
“Oh, don’t mind it too much.” She waved it off. “My species doesn’t really need to sleep that much. Well, I also heard that leviathans were similar like that, but yesterday must have been exhausting for you…” Luna looked back to Shelly with a gentle and slightly worried expression.
“I see.” Shelly said while sitting on the table before the plate with the toasts. It took only a couple of seconds for a cooked fish to find itself besides her toast. Starting by spreading a bit of jam in the toast, the leviathan soon noticed that her hunger was much worse than she thought, as she devoured everything in her plate in a matter of minutes and looked down with a slightly disappointed look.
“Want seconds?” Luna asked with an amused tone.
“If it wouldn’t be an issue…” Shelly replied awkwardly.
“Don’t worry dear, I guessed that a big girl like yourself would need more sustenance than normal.” The mermaid said with a gentle tone. “Anyway, how was your sleep? Are you feeling more relaxed now?”
“…You saw me earlier, didn’t you?” She asked the mermaid, who simply emanated a playful aura while she prepared another serving of fish. “Ughh… Well, at least I can’t deny that sleeping underwater does feel amazing.” Shelly said in a low tone.
“Hmm.” luna said cheerfully. “You know, if you want to sleep underwater sometime else, feel free to come here okay?”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Shelly said with a sigh. “Anyway, what time is it?”
“Seven forty five. Our shift starts at nine o’clock, so no need to hurry.” The mermaid replied. It took Shelly a few seconds to recall that she indeed got herself a new job. “Also. once you have finished waking up, we should train a bit more on your basic mana manipulation.”
“Hmm? Again?” Shelly asked confused.
“Yes. Ammon just sent me a message telling me it’s very important that you get that part down correctly if you want to go back to your original body.” The mermaid explained. Shelly completely froze in place while turning towards Luna with a serious and expectant gaze. Feeling the intensity of her gaze even without turning back, she went on. “While your soul might have gotten used to your new body, looks like there’s still some small issues.”
“For example, Ammon thinks that, as you are now, the moment that mana courses through you, you might be forced back into this body, so for you to keep your human body, you’ll need to completely rid your body from magical energy. At least for now.” The mermaid said with a worried tone
“Wait. So you mean that I won’t be able to use magic as a human?”
“Well, that seems to be the case for the moment.” Luna agreed. “While it’s not entirely confirmed at this moment, she does have that suspicion thanks to the fact that your magic just really manifested itself with this body, so it might force you into what it considers a more fitting shape.”
“Wonderful.” Shelly said while leaning back against the chair with a weary expression. However, as if expecting that, Luna soon brought another two more pieces of fish that the Leviathan devoured in a matter of one or two minutes with a wide smile in her face. “Anyway, why didn’t she tell us about that earlier? There’s no real reason for her to only say it now, is there?”
“That’s… A good question.” Luna nodded curious. “Hmm… If I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s because she wasn’t expecting you to become something like a leviathan…?” She said while not being entirely sure.
“So, I’m too good for my own good?” The Leviathan asked with an self-depreciating tone.
“You could say that.” Luna nodded. “I mean, leviathans being half dragon and half demons are vastly above other monsters when it comes to both physical and magical capacities, and you might have overshot her expectations a little bit.”
Shelly nodded. It’s not strange for there to be issues if you prepare for something, but get more than asked. Well, she was the living proof of that anyhow. Smiling awkwardly, Shelly stood up from the table and kicked the mermaid out of the kitchen so she could wash the dishes herself. Not feeling at ease leaving all the work to Luna while doing nothing herself, she decided to help at least where she could.
After she finished tidying up the kitchen, she checked her cellphone for any new messages she might have received during the night. Paling slightly at the sheer amount of messages that both Amy and Shauna had sent her, she quickly replied to the two of them very carefully so as to not raise suspicions.
“…I’ll be able to return tonight, won’t I?” She asked fearful.
“Ha ha ha. Probably?” Luna said awkwardly, much to Shelly’s fear. “Well, I can try and talk to them if you want.”
“…That could either work really well, or go terribly wrong.” Shelly said while staring at the angel, nay, mermaid before her. “I… I guess I’ll just have to train really hard before nightfall, huh?” She fell on the sofa feeling exhausted for what was to come.
However, before that, she had a huge ordeal to go through, and that basically meant taking a bath. only then noticing that she still hadn’t washed herself ever since she woke up shocked the day prior. While she did receive a cleanse spell from the mermaid to remove the salt from her body, something that she actually didn’t mind that much, all things said, she hadn’t had the chance for an actual bath or shower.
That was one of the few moments she felt thankful towards Ammon and Vivian for the day prior when they went on a spree forcing her to try on all the different clothes. Thanks to that moment, she had grown a bit duller towards being naked in her new body. it wasn’t like it didn’t bother her at all, but at least it made something like a bath possible. There was still a VERY long way for her to get used entirely to it, though.
She did make small mental note that baths are much more relaxing with that body than with her human one, but that wasn’t anything she was prepared to tell anyone ever.
Once she was done, Shelly used her previous day training to change into her more mature human look before they left the building. Even with the bath, they still managed to get to the store before their shift started.
“Good morning Ferdinand. Early as usual I see.” Luna said as they entered the office area.
“Ah, Luna. Good to see you. The chief said to go see her first thing today.” A familiar voice replied.
Looking towards where the voice came, Shelly recognized the room as being the one she first looked into when she had arriven in the previous day and gotten the directions towards Vivian. What she saw in there was anything but something she had seen before.
“Ah, new guy. Glad to see you joined us!” Said a wriggling mass of tentacles sitting behind the desk, it’s voice coming from some unknown part of its body as the dozens upon dozens of tentacles ran through some paperwork, either by holding onto pen or having an eyeball at its tip to look around. “Looks like you had it rough, huh?”
“Ah… Yes… ” Shelly replied a bit awkwardly while staring at him in shock. “Oh yeah… Thanks for yesterday.”
“Oh, don’t mind it. If there’s anything you need, just ask me, you know?” He said while twisting his tentacle around in a manner what resembled a thumbs up.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Shelly said while following Luna who had already walked ahead. “Somehow it still feels surreal to be so well received by so many differents non-humans.” She said amused.
“Can’t say I know your feeling.” Luna replied as she opened the door to Vivian’s room.
“Ah. Luna, Shelly. You arrived just in…” The siren started greeting the two of them, only to trail off as her eyes fell upon the Leviathan with her more mature form. “…Shelly?”
“What? You look like you saw a ghost…” Shelly started saying playfully, only to frown and turn to Luna. “Does that joke work as well for you as it does…”
“I don’t think so?” Luna replied while tilting her head with a confused expression.
“Fair enough.” Shelly sighed tiredly.
“So… I take it that you managed to get the hang of shape-shifting?” Vivian said surprised as a smile appeared in her face.
“Yeah. On the plus side, it seems that the… Uniform… Thingy actually matches my body. On the negative side, it’s the only thing that does so.” Shelly mentioned with a clear tone of disgust. “I had to borrow some clothes from Luna to get here without raising suspicion.” After all, it’s one thing to hide in a car during the night. Something entirely different happens during the day, so if possible, she’d rather reduce the chances of being seen with her tail and ears out.
“I see.” Vivian started saying before the meaning of Shelly’s words started sinking in her head, and a worryingly cheerful smile. “I’ll…”
“The same thing as my other clothes.” Shelly cut her short while staring at the siren coldly.
“Aww… Okay.” Vivian said with a pout before finally sighing. “Anyway, Amy is waiting for you two inside. Looks like we’ll need you to take out to the fields a bit sooner than we expected.”
“Okay? That sounds worrisome.” Shelly said with a worried tone while turning to the door leading to the office. “Guess I should go in then.”
Vivian nodded while motioning for the two of them to go inside the office. Luna went ahead, opening the door and waiting for Shelly to pass through before following her.
“Did you call us dear?” Luna called to Ammon as they entered.
“Luna! You’ll like this.” Amon called from behind her table. However, Shelly couldn’t help but notice that there was something slightly different in the way that she was talking. “Hehe. I made a jam out of that ‘grape’ fruit they sell around in this world. It’s really tasty, so I think you’ll like it.” Shelly watched amusedly as the demon held onto a sandwich and bit into it with a cheerful expression. “It’s sweet. I wonder if there’s any other fruit around here we could use to make jam that we don’t have around our world.” She raised her eyes from her sandwich with a clear look of happiness in her face. “I’ll try my luck at the fruit fair again late…” She said while munching onto the sandwich, only to slowly trail off as she finally noticed Shelly’s presence.
“Ara…” Luna said with an awkward smile.
For a whole five seconds, the two of them exchanged their shocked gazes, before Ammon finally hid the sandwich behind her back and wiped away the bread crumbs away from the table, as well as hiding the pot of jam inside a drawer.
“Aah, We see that thou hast been mastering the shapeshifting spellcraft.” Ammon said, back to her usual tone.
“…Are we seriously doing this now?” Shelly asked with eyes that were akin to those of a dead fish.
“What would we be doing?” Ammon asked confused.
“You know, the acting would be a lot more impressive if you didn’t have that bit of jam near your mouth.” Shelly replied while pointing out to the corner of her own lips.
“We know not what thou speak of.” Amon replied as the bit of jam magically disappeared from her face. Literally.
“That was… was actually quite impressive.” Shelly said amused.
“We are grateful for thine praise.”
“Ah, whatever. I’ll pretend I never saw that.” The leviathan said as if giving up while sighing heavily. “Anyway, you said something about having a job for me and something else about me being able to change back into my old body?”
“That’s correct.” Ammon said with a brief nod. “That said, doesn’t thou find this body more agreeable than thine older one?” Ammon asked with a tone as if trying to convince her in a childish way.
“It’s convenient, yes. But no, I want my old body back.” Shelly replied coldly.
“Ugh…” Ammon made a complex expression that clearly showed discomfort, but didn’t press the situation any further. “We understand.” Ammon nodded weakly before becoming serious once again. “We shall explain the process to thee later. For now, We have to request thee to undertake a job for us.”
“When you say job… I take it is a field job?” Shelly asked worriedly, upon which Ammon nodded.
“Indeed. While we would rather not request thee such a job so soon, we are in a bit of a complex situation.” She explained with a slightly worried tone. “We had scheduled replacement of the siphons around the south side of the city planned for today, however, one of our maintenance crew got a cold and was not able to come.”
“And there isn’t anyone on reserve for when something like that happens?” Shelly asked curious, before a thought crossed her mind. “Ah, right. Not enough personnel. I got it.” Shelly said weakly.
“We are glad thou understood quickly.” Ammon sighed relieved. “We require a subordinate who is quick on thine feet, and preferably, also fairly durable.”
“That sounds dangerous.” Shelly said with a frown.
“We must admit that tis not the safest of all jobs.” Ammon nodded exasperated. “Different from our siphons at the ocean, these cannot be as big nor as visible, so our IT team made one that is only existent within the barrier world you’ve seen before. It covers a smaller area, but tis the best solution we can get.”
“So, it’s not like those pylons you had undersea?” Shelly asked worried, as she was entirely sure she still had no idea how to deal with those on her own.
“Nay, these ones are disposable, so all thou need to do is put it in place and activate it with an activation device.” As Ammon said that, she opened one of the drawers from the desk and pulled out an item.
“Wow. Good disguise. No one will suspect randomly placed glasses of grape jam.” Shelly said with a tone of amazement.
Ammon blinked surprised for a moment before lowering her eyes towards the item she had pulled out from the desk. As her face blushed intensely, she quickly hid the pot of jam once again before pulling out a beautifully carved stone circle and putting it on the table together with a small ring with a gem embed into it.
“Well, sounds easy enough.” Shelly said with a nod. “What’s the catch?”
“The girls appear as soon as we open up a barrier.” Luna explained for her, and as Shelly made a worried expression, the mermaid calmed her with a gentle smile. “If it follows the usual routine, we should send one of our bigger hitters to distract them as the others to do the actual job.”
“Oh, so THAT’S why there were always those big fights.” Shelly said as she thought back to the recording of the massive city-destroying battles. “That way, they won’t notice the smaller ones walking around. I see.”
“Exactly.” Ammon replied with a nod. “We plan on sending out a wyvern this time, so the battle should mostly occur above the maintenance area. However, a couple of the optimal spots to put the siphons stand on building roofs.”
“And, let me guess, that’s where I come in?”
“Exactly. While we could send Kake, his body is a bit big and he might be noticed if seen flying from above.” Ammon nodded. “With thine body, we guess that leaping through rooftops should not be an issue. And even if a stray shot reaches thou, chances are that thou would be left mostly unscathed, even more if thy uniform is being used.”
“Can I comment on how that thing makes me feel more vulnerable rather than more protected?” Shelly said coldly.
“…We could lend thee a cloak.”
“Much obliged.” Shelly said with a serious expression. “And all things considered, I gotta admit I am curious about these magical girls.” After all, even though she wasn’t exactly a human anymore, she still watched her fair share of animes and was curious about seeing one of such settings in person. “So, should I take it that Luna will accompany me?”
“Sadly, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Luna denied outright with a worried expression. “I’m admittedly not very useful when out of water, and would be just a standing liability.”
“…I see…” Shelly said with a slightly disappointed tone.
“But I think I know someone who should be able to accompany you.” And the angel speaks again. If she couldn’t go herself, she’d find someone to go in her stead. “She might not be able of doing the job on her own, but she should be able to guide you around.”
“Good enough for me.” She sighed tiredly. “I just hope I don’t have to explain how I got a second degree burn to my family if I go back today.”
“We doubt it shall be that dangerous. And even if thou should get injured, it most likely won’t be serious or can be treated with a bit of magic.” Ammon waved away her worries.
“I see.” Shelly sighed while rubbing her eyes, psyching herself up. “Okay, so, when do we start?”
“We were planning to make our move around eleven thirty-seven today. We’ll leave to the wyvern to start the barrier and it should just about reach the roof of the building.” Ammon looked back to her. “Just go there before the appointed time and We shall leave the syphons ready for thine use. We shall send thee a briefing of thy job via Vivian before long, so until then, feel free to prepare thyself.”
“Hmm.” Shelly nodded while looking down to her hands a bit nervously, her gaze landing upon the pair of rings that wrapped around each of her middle fingers. “…Maybe I should train some sort of defensive magic.” She thought out loud.
“Tis be a wise move.” Ammon commented. “Ideally, thou should have learned flight for this mission, but we are sadly without the time for that. However, We recall there being a simple defensive spell in the water system.” She turned towards Luna who nodded in agreement.
“Shelly is a good student. She should be able to get it before the mission with ease.”
“Good. And forgive us for forcing this task upon thee.”
“…You do reckon you are cheating when you make that expression to me, don’t you?” Shelly said awkwardly while seeing Ammon’s apologetic look. Now, even if she wasn’t curious about the job, she would have taken it under that kind of gaze.
Ammon replied by awkwardly scratching her cheek and giving a small smile. With her job explained to her and deciding it would be better to spend the time training defensive magic instead of seeking her old body for now, Shelly and Luna both retreated to the gymnasium to train.
However, this training proved to be harder than the simple drying trick she had learned previously, seeing how she wasn’t touching the water directly when casting the magic. This led to the first time where she had to use the rings as a focus for her mana, which was entirely different from the way she had been doing it previously.
While previously she would only need to control her mana within her body directly, she now had to do it through a medium, using a bit of her mana from within to control the rest that she had to send outside.
If she were to make a comparison, she’d say that it was akin to carrying a ball with one’s hand, and carrying a ball on top of a flat board while walking.
“This is… Annoyingly difficult.” She complained as she saw the shell of water undid itself around her, which, of course, meant that some of it fell on her. For the seventh time. “Have I thanked you already for teaching me this magic?” Shelly asked while drying herself again.
“Yes you did.” Luna replied wryly before checking her wristwatch. “Hmm… Sorry dear, but I have another job to do for now.”
“Ah, okay.” Shelly replied a bit surprised, for a moment having forgotten that the mermaid also had her own work in the company.
“I’m in the marketing team, if that’s what you are curious about.” She replied with a gentle smile when she read the leviathan’s expression.
“…I’m getting used to these unexpected matchup of appearance and function, huh?” Shelly said as she noticed her rather lack of reaction to the revelation. “And next you’ll be telling me that you work at public relations.” Shelly said as she noticed the Gryphon approaching her from the door.
“Wow! How did you know?”
“I was actually joking.” Shelly said tiredly.
“I know. By the way, heard you’ll be in charge of setting the syphons, right?” The gryphon asked curious as he watched Shelly try and form the barrier again.
“Yeah. Got any tips?”
“Actually, yes I do.” He replied while stretching himself. “Only stick to the ceiling when you need to. Being out in the open might get you noticed. If you need to go somewhere far, don’t try and go through the rooftops since it’s easy to be seen from above. Go down to street level and stick to being below the skyline.”
“That… Actually makes sense.” Shelly said as she stopped to think about Kake’s words.
“Yeah, just be careful about air currents. With the whole wind tunnel thingy and whatnot. And the falling debris from the battle that will undoubtedly destroy a few buildings, of course.”
“And that sounded really dangerous.” Shelly replied coldly.
“Wouldn’t want to leave you intimidated before the big job, would I?”
“You know, I wanted to test my kicking power, want to help me with that?” Shelly asked while staring at him coldly.
“I’ll be in that corner of the room far away from you while I stretch, okay?” Kake said while walking away.
Shelly sighed before smiling, amused at these morning shenanigans. However, before she could start conjuring the shield, she heard the door of the gymnasium open once again and footsteps heading in her direction. Turning back, her eyes met with the witch, Alunxa, who was being followed by a familiar cloud creature in the shape of a serpent.
“Alunxa… And Lalu… Lafua…”
“Laffula.” The witch corrected her.
“Yeah. That.” Shelly said.
“We usually just call her Lufa for short.” The witch said with an amused expression. The little cloud quickly changed its shape to a check mark, as if saying that the witch was right.
“I see.” Shelly nodded amused before shaking her head. “Anyway, thanks for the help with the rings before.”
“Don’t worry, that was literally one of my jobs.” The witch said gently before turning back towards Lufa. “Anyway, we met Luna on her way out and she asked Lufa here to help you later with the mission.”
“Ah, I see.” Shelly admittedly felt a bit unsure about the idea, but soon shook it off. Knowing the mermaid, she’d make sure to choose the correct person. And even then, the leviathan didn’t know much about the other members of the group yet, so she shouldn’t judge based on appearances. “I’ll be in your care then.”
The little cloud made a smiley face with its body, showing its happiness, while the witch just watched the scene for a moment.
“It may not look like it, but Lufa here is actually really good at stealthy jobs, so she should know a few tricks to keep you safe. Meanwhile, I heard that you were training how to use the water bubble spell, right?” Alunxa said, looking at the wet ground around Shelly.
“Yeah. I want to have some sort of protection at the very least.” Shelly sighed. “Not having much luck with it, though. Isn’t there some easier way to pull it out? Like chanting or something?”
“There actually is.” Alunxa said with an amused tone. “There’s two more ways to do it, to be honest.” Shelly looked to the witch curiously. “However, both require a lot of studying to be used practically. If you want a chance to get your spell ready before the mission, the imaging method is probably the safest.”
“Aww…” Shelly complained with a pout. “How do the others even work anyway?”
“Well, one way is to do chanting, as you said. But that’s easier said than done, since each spell have it’s own chanting, and even a small mistake can make the spell fail entirely.” The witch explained.
“And, let me guess, this spell have a quite lenghty chant?” Shelly asked, upon which Alunxa nodded.
“The shortest chants usually ends around ten to fifteen words. And even then, it’s usually in our world’s old language, which I doubt you can master in a couple of hours.”
“Fair point.” Shelly said with a frown. “What’s the other one then? Magic circles?”
“It really amazes me how your culture can figure out so much about our magic system with your media.” The witch said, leading to an dead-eyed Shelly who didn’t seem to believe her. “Anyway, yes, that’s correct. One of the ways to cast magic is to form a magic circle in your mind. However, that requires a really deep knowledge of how magic circles work, much like… How do you call it? Computer programming?”
“Yeah… I think I get your point.” Shelly sighed before looking down to her rings once again.
“I could help you with that once you come back from your mission, you know?” The witch offered.
“I might take on your offer.” Shelly said. “Though I plan on…”
“Try to change into your human body? I’m in charge of helping you with that too.” The witch finished Shellly’s words.
“Oh. Okay, that helps a lot, actually.” Shelly said. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mind it. Got to help our juniors as much as possible, right?” The witch said while the cloud that had been quietly besides her once again changed into a checkmark. “Anyway, water might not be my main magic system, but I should be able to give you some pointers with your spell.”
Shelly thanked the witch once again before she went back to trying to cast the spell, and with the company of the witch and the Lufa, who was curiously cheering her up with taking a myriad of different forms.
With that, the time for her to set off to do her job finally arrived, and with it, her last hope for the normal daily life that she expected outside of her job.