The evening at the Mad King's castle ended up being a pleasant occasion to relax. Leolia caught up on some banter with her favorite rival, Lullaby enjoyed a good bath and some delicious laverbread, Boy took a moment to close her eyes and catch some rest, Drix and Orwenna jested back and forth to release some steam, and Anna discovered her romantic attraction extended to all the party members.
The group took the King up on his offer to spend the night, and when morning came he found himself having to quell the worries of some of the implications that had only hit them just now. Yes, it is in slimefolks' best interest to avoid swamps. Yes, metal scales weigh just as much as armor, but can't be removed. Yes, there is some anatomical quirkiness to having two midsections. And yes, fish tails really aren’t made to walk on land. He promised one of the gifts he had prepared would help with that last one.
From the great oak chest the Mad King brought out, he gave away a knife, a mirror, a tunic and a necklace. All of them magical, of course.
The knife's blade was spectral in appearance. Doan had been entrusted with it - this knife never hurt nor left any scar, but any stabbing made with it would inform the assailant of their victim's most important subconscious feelings. It could look into people's hearts, was the short explanation. Apparently the King had made great use of it when he was starting out on his quest to help all those he could, but eventually grew able to read these feelings on people's faces, bypassing the need for this weapon.
The mirror's surface was opaque, and rippled to the touch. When Boy received it, she was told it would give her the location of any person in distress as long as they desired to be found. Yet another gift the King had received from the numerous deities he had met in his life, that his abilities had also outgrown.
The dress Leolia received was specifically designed for her new body. It was similar to her old robe - perhaps slightly more regal in appearance - and just as covered in magical runes for facilitating spell-casting. In fact, the supplementary space allowed for a few new ones to be snuck in... She didn't know whether to hug or to slap her old friend when she spotted the ones for transmutation magic.
As for the jewelry Lullaby got, its magic was as needlessly convoluted as everything always was with the Mad King. One might have been satisfied with simply giving the mermaid a necklace that could give her legs when she so desired, but this solution was instead swapped for a naga's tail. But, both Lullaby and the King insisted, it was perfect.
It was with a tearful goodbye that the group decided to split there. Lullaby wanted to go explore the seas and oceans of the world, Leolia spoke of unfinished studies she wanted to go back to, Boy wanted to finalize his village's tradition by coming back home. Doan hugged the princess and the mermaid tightly, then chose to follow along with the dragoness's quest.
Puzzled stares were everywhere when Boy the dragoness came back home. She announced herself as such, Doan gently gripping her arm.
The first people she met with were her own parents, who after a confused hug from a dragonborn woman they had never met, managed to put two and two together. Boy's mom nervously laughed, explaining that now the title did make sense, though they didn't know how it had even happened. Boy slapped herself on the forehead as she remembered the isolationist tendencies of this place had always prevented them from hearing of the Mad King.
It was in front of the village's council that she repeated the story of the Mad King for the second time since arriving back home. The same puzzled faces from earlier were their first response, but Doan was grateful the people seemed at least open-minded, despite their reclusiveness.
The council then shared them a trouble they had had in the past few years with the Elder fortune teller, to which Boy was quick to reply it had been building for decades already with an impassive tongue. After visiting the woman and making use of Doan's knife, her answer was just as cutting: the woman was overworked for her age, and if they did not let her rest soon and find an apprentice to replace her, she would spend the rest of her old days senile and in mental anguish.
The council members did not take the threat lightly. The elder was soon relieved of her duties, and after a few weeks of rest, she was able to say sorry to Boy for the way she had been treated all those years ago.
Boy and Doan spent a short month in the dragoness' home village resting from their adventures, and getting married.
The marriage had no ceremony, no desire to invite any family to a slug of a day. The honeymoon had been quite a bit more interesting a tale.
They soon found themselves taking the road again, deciding to dedicate their knife and mirror to helping those in need.
Leolia's story continued back in Oxward. She saw a place entirely modified by the Mad King's gifts, an epiphany as she realized smart but frail people often had grievances about their body and the knowledge to voice them. She regretted avoiding both her own thoughts and making friends back during her first visit.
She was surprised at first when she was refused at the entrance exam, but it made sense once she was informed of an offer to teach instead. The knowledge and experience staying in studies would've given her, she had already obtained during her travels.
Of all things, she found herself teaching transmutation, and had to rely on her dress' magic at first, but made do, and with practicing on her own time, eventually could remove it without losing in her abilities. She shared it around to struggling students so they could get a feel for what a successful spell felt like, so they could rely on memory to reproduce it without the dress's help.
To only her mild surprise, students started to... join her species, so to speak. Of their own volition and ability, from gifts by the Mad King... Not all explanations were the same. Which puzzled her, as not even a few days into her teaching she'd heard her old friend had vanished from the face of the world; so why had the gifts kept on coming?
She took the summer break to go back into the world and look for explanations, and her travelling friends.
Lullaby felt free, felt alive, felt engrossed by her life in the sea! ...Felt bored, mostly. There weren't many others down there, and it was hard to charm other mermaids when all had singing voices that rivaled her own.
Nonetheless it was a learning experience, and she still preferred staying under water over land, but with her necklace, she had no reason not to do both.
And so she returned to the surface, a slitherine tail on herself she could swap for her beloved mermaid one whenever she met a river or a lake. She desired only two things: to continue wooing any and all for some fun evenings together, and to meet up with her old party members again.
The latter of the two tasks proved arduous, but not unfeasible.
Back on the night they left the King's castle…
"Well, isn't that a job well done?" he muttered to his housekeeper, waving at the departing guests.
"Yes- yes sir, it is." The housekeeper fidgeted around before managing to utter her question. "May I take my leave for the evening, sir?"
"Oh yes, of course. Go enjoy yourself, lass. First day as yourself is important, I would know."
She quickly bowed with a smile and went back in the castle, directing herself to the employee's lounge.
The King stayed outside, waiting for her to get out of earshot. "You can come out."
A deep blue smoke billowed behind him, slowly taking on a humanoid shape before revealing a gorgeous, plump woman with long hair of the same color as the smoke. "Your efforts haven't gone unnoticed, sir Mad King. As I'm sure you already know."
"Gaaah, what's with the formalities, after you just helped me with that singing fish lass?" He smiled, snapping himself around in her direction. "Thanks, by the way."
She giggled. "Oh, you have thanked me plenty already. Plus I do love helping a mortal or two..." She took on a serious face once more. "Anyway, the reason why I am here tonight I hope will explain the reason for my formal tone."
He nodded. "Hmm hm?"
The deity approached him slowly, her hips swaying with each step. "Well, as I'm sure you already know, the last deity of chaos finds their time done, and wishes to move to the pantheon... Which leaves us an opening for the position."
"Oh ho, are you sure you want a merciful Mad God of Chaos? Isn't that unprecedented?" he retorted, fueled only by a desire to appear ungraspable.
"Doesn't that only make it more chaotic, my friend?"
He pretended to think it over for a moment. "You know what? I do believe it does." He extended his hand.
She grabbed onto it, and with another column of smoke, both of them were gone.