“Almost there?” Avelyn mocked, “The sun is almost set!” she pointed off the cliff they were traveling.
“Yeah, we are almost there,” Arslan retorted, wiping the sweat from under his hood.
Avelyn snorted, “‘Almost there’ means we were getting close. Not taking half a day to walk!”
Arslan walked next to her and pointed outward, towards the setting sun, which so happens to also be the same direction as Winterwell, from their point the entire city could be seen. The docks, the guild hall, and the still smoldering remains of the lab. “Our distance hasn’t increased, just the height.”
“Gaaah!” she roared, “This is stupid!”
Mandilyn looked behind her from the lead she had on the other two; she felt a sudden blast of smug energy. “What’s wrong, Avelyn? Scared of being high up?” she chuckled.
“Shut up, buck-teeth,” Avelyn growled, “I’m tired of walking! I am not scared of heights! I do not fear anything!”
“...Buck-teeth?” repeated Mandilyn. She blinked a few times before deciding on how to handle the insult, which happened to be anger. She dropped the glaive and bag she carried. “You want a round three fire-breath?” She said approaching.
Black smoke started to seep from between Avelyn’s teeth. “I would take pleasure in smashing your face into the ground.”
Arslan passed by Avelyn and put his arm on Mandilyn’s chest, “You two can fight when we get there, doing it now won’t get us any closer.”
Mandilyn momentarily let go of her anger and turned around and continued forward. With the motivation of fighting in Avelyn’s head, her pace seemed to have doubled.
Arslan sighed, placed his palm on his face and shook his head.
The trio reached the apex of the mountain- a plateau of far stretching lands with lush green fields of grass. In the middle was a shabby, abandoned building. Parts of its porch had begun falling off.
“Eugh,” Mandilyn cringed.
Arslan smiled as he recalled all the memories that were held here. He walked towards the building but not before saying, “Have fun, don’t kill each other.” Behind him, Mandilyn was tackled to the ground.
Arslan stepped through the door. He was greeted with a dusty living room. It was bare and lacked the common commodities of the modern world such as heating crystals instead having an actual fireplace. He walked over around the room. This once cozy place was a reservoir of his past. Pictures of his first hunts, parties he traveled with, and a gem? He picked it up; it was opaque and indigo. He twisted it around his vision having no recollection of what this thing could have been.
“Hmm,” He hummed tossing it in the air, judging the weight. On the side, there was a rune, each geometric shape on it made no sense to him. There weren't any translations that he could think of that made any sense in application to it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. The hand holding the stone began lighting up with the magic. In effect, the gem itself turned into a darker shade of purple and began to vibrate softly. “Interesting,” he mused.
But, that still didn’t answer any previous questions. The only information that could be collected was that it reacted to magic. Arslan stopped feeding it magic; in theory, the rock should have stopped glowing the moment he cut the feed of magic; however, it didn’t. It kept glowing; in fact, it started to get brighter by the second. He thought about letting go, but it was far too late of a thought, as the stone increased its weight by at least one hundred percent, it then dropped to the ground taking him along.
He contemplated screaming for help as well. Again, the stone had a different plan. It lifted itself into the air and blasted itself straight through the wall, leaving behind a mysterious-gem shaped hole. “Oh boy,” Arslan thought aloud.
He sprung up to his feet and pushed the doors, and there was an immense purple light that flashed just about everywhere. Although, it only lasted a few seconds.
“Mandilyn! Avelyn!” He called out for the girls while keeping his eyes closed and shielded underneath his arm.
He heard a familiar voice, or rather two voices calling back to him. “Ars..lan?” In front of him wasn’t a drake-girl and a rabbit-girl, but a female with a long scaly tail with a line of fur, drake-like legs, and rabbit-like front teeth surrounded by rows of sharp teeth. Out of all the changes, her hair remained relatively unchanged except it was just long, shaggy and brown with red streaks. The real oddity was that their clothes seemed also to have merged.
“Mandilyn...Avelyn?” he called out once more this time out of surprise. “Is… that you?”
The creature out in the front yard smiled and shouted, “Yes!”
He couldn’t believe his eyes; He had to approach the entity in front of him. Even then it was still unbelievable the two girls had become fused. Out of shocked curiosity, he touched her body, most of the scales that were present on Avelyn stayed precisely where they were. Most of the body was unchanged from Avelyn’s base, the hips, the toned stomach, her breasts. He reached up and tugged on her rabbit ears.
She pulled back and shouted, “That hurts! Stop it!”
“Sorry,” he apologized and let go of her ears. Looking at her body, there was a line of symbols going up her stomach, ten in total, each one still with translation errors when he tried to read them. The first symbol, the one closest to her groin was highlighted in red while the rest were black.
He put a hand over his mouth in disbelief and asked, “Do you feel okay?”
She smiled and ecstatically shouted, “Never better!”
“Which one of you is in charge right now?”
The combined entity cocked her head to the side, “I am!” Her face twisted in confusion, “Me.” something in her brain was obviously misfiring and causing her problems. “Mandilyn, Avelyn!” The moment she said that her voice was split apart, yet spoke at the same time. She grabbed her head and screamed in pain.
Arslan stuck up his hands, he wanted to comfort the girl, but he didn’t know how she’d react in this situation, and instead he kept his distance.
“It's obvious that you both are. So let's make this simple.” She lifted from her position, not thinking about the current situation eased the acute pain she was receiving. “You’re Amandalyn for right now.”
“Amandalyn?” She repeated. “Sounds stupid. But I guess it works.”
“Look, given the circumstances right now. This is the best you’re going to get.”
She shrugged, “Then it’s fine with nothing wrong with it.”
“...I can’t tell which one of you are insulting me right now.”
She laughed, “Amandalyn is!”
“Listen here you litt-” He began saying, but was drowned out by the sounds of an airship flying overhead. He looked up to see a sleek metallic vehicle with twin propeller engines in the distance, a commercial flier that was landing in the field. What popped out was a man, in a red hoodless coat. His hair was parted to the side, and he held a suitcase.
He waved and yelled out, “Hey! Are you Arslan!?”
Arslan and Amandalyn both looked at each other. Then back at the man, “Who wants to know?” He answered back.
By this time the man was already face to face with Arslan. “How rude, I asked for your name without presenting my own first,” he said apologetic, “I’m Bernard Clemmins.” He stuck out his hand; he was wearing a white glove with an alchemic symbol on the back. “So, are you Arslan?” He looked to the monster girl fusion. “I’ve heard a lot about him and his work,” he smiled.
“That answer depends on why you’re here.”
“Ah!” He lightly smacked his head with the hand that received no mate, “Of course! That's two fouls on my part! I’m with the Northberry’s alchemy guild, and I intend on giving Arslan a proposition to join us!”
“Okay…” Arslan paused, “I’m Arslan.”
“Good!” He yelled, “I knew I had the right person!”
“Yeah, I’m not exactly too thrilled that you knew where I was.”
Bernard chuckled, “Don’t worry about that, Arslan. We’ve had our eyes on you for quite a long time.” He undid the latches on his suitcase. “You see, your research is very intriguing to us at the Northberry University and well, with the recent turn of events we figured now was a perfect time to recruit you.”
“Well, you’re not wrong, but as you can see we were about to move into my lovely home!” Arslan said pointing to the shack that quite literally had part of the roof cave inward.
“Mhm,” Bernard skeptically hummed, “We’ll give you all the funding you need, and we won’t interfere with what you do.”
“Where do I sign!” Arslan yelled immediately.
“Excellent!” Bernard pulled a contract from the bag and placed it overtop; he then retrieved a pen placing it on as well. “You initial here, please.”