And so, the party sails north.
None of them have been to the island-based town before, but they know how to find it and have heard of what it is like.
They know to sail north along the coast until they reach King Cat’s town, which they still have no idea if it actually has a name or not, and then they are to sale northeast while following the jagged stones that poke up over the ocean’s surface. They also know not to get too close to the rocky trail since that would result in scraping the bottom of The Shoebill along the rocks still hidden by water.
As for what they know about the town itself, they know that it is built around a tall spire that is now coming in to view. They cannot see the bottom of the rocky spire yet, but they can at least be certain that they are heading the right way as the spire grows taller and taller the closer they get.
“I can’t wait to meet the leader of this place,” Tabitha says.
“Of course you can’t,” Fenrir replies.
“If she’s got muscles than I already like her!”
“Let me guess, because girl power?”
“You’ve got that right. Not enough gals put on muscle.”
“You’re not wrong. Girls with muscles can be nice.”
“Can be? They’re always nice.”
“Well, just like with men, I do think there is a thing such as too much muscles. Though, you’d have to be on steroids to get to that point, probably.”
“I don’t care about that. Give me a girl who’s just all muscle from her feet to her head and I’ll be happy.”
“How come you’re not big and muscular if you like them so much?”
“Just because I like them doesn’t mean I want to be one. Look at how many girlfriends you’ve got, captain dog, but I don’t see ya bein’ a girl.”
“My hero,” Nell says, “do you wish that I had more muscles?”
Fenrir looks Nell over.
“I can’t imagine you being muscular. Some more scales would be nice for the monster girl aesthetic, though, but not so many scales that you become covered in them. Then you’d just be a furry – well, scalie,” he admits.
“I see! Hm. That would be rather nice. The more monstrous I am in appearance, the greater the romance is! The charming, doglike hero with the hideous, monstrous serpent! Does that not sound wonderful? While you may have any girl in the world—”
“Not any girl,” Tabitha interjects.
“While you may have almost any girl in the world,” Nell continues after fixing her previous statement, “you would choose to be with a horrifying monster!”
“But monster girls aren’t horrifying,” Fenrir says.
“Degenerates,” Tabitha chimes in again.
“Hey, you like muscular girls, so what about muscular orc girls? Or ogres? Minotauresses?”
“Ya know what, you’ve got me there. I guess those monster gals ain’t so bad after all.”
“Oh! Speaking of monstrous women, would it not be wonderful if the leader of this town ends up being one?” Nell asks.
“I guess that’d be nice for Tabs’ sake,” Fenrir answers.
“It’d make the meeting more fun, that’s for sure,” Tabitha says.
“Oh, and my hero,” Nell says.
“Yeah?” Fenrir answers.
“If we agree that I should be more monstrous in appearance, how about yourself?”
“What about me?”
“Well, should we not make you more monstrous while we are at it?”
“I mean, my legs and arms already get kind of large and wolf-y when I’m fighting. I’m like… a partial shapeshifter. Kind of?”
“Yes, I understand that, but could we not make you always even moremonstrous than that? You could be covered in fur all the time!”
“I’m not a furry.”
“Besides, then it would be like uh… don’t you think it’d be less tragic if you became more like a monster, and then I became more like a monster? We’d be the same then and there’s nothing tragic about that,” he tries to come up with the only excuse that he can, and that happens to involve using Nell’s love for tragedy against her.
“Then we should make you the fully monstrous one while I remain the same, or I could even become less like a monster! I must admit, I am much more attracted to the idea of you being like a monster both in appearance and personality than myself being like one.”
Fenrir freezes. He thought he’d be able to use her own thought process against her, but her own degeneracy is too strong for him to easily manipulate.
“Uhh,” Fenrir mumbles.
“Is something the matter, my hero?” Nell asks, batting her eyes at him. “After all, I am your secretary now, and you are my beloved hero! That means you would love to do as I wish, yes?”
“I know that you may not associate yourself with certain fur-covered fandoms, but do you not want to make me happy? My hero?” she asks, moving in even closer while staring right up at his face.
“I – I really don’t want to be a furry, so I’m sorry to disappoint you if that’s something you seriously wan—”
Nell covers her mouth, bursting into giggles, and steps back. “You are adorable, my hero.”
“Were… you just teasing me?”
“Of course! I would never try to manipulate you in such a way.”
The canid ears atop his head flatten down as he blushes and looks away. “You’ve got a sadistic side.”
“You should consider yourself fortunate that I am not truly so manipulative! I could have you doing whatever I wanted if I truly wished for it.”
“Ya can’t even tell when your girlfriends are teasing you?” Tabitha asks.
“It was rather obvious,” Corwin says.
“Listen, it’s usually Serra who’s teasing me. I’m not used to Nell doing it,” Fenrir grumbles at them.
“That is because I prefer being the one teased,” Nell explains. “Though, I was not only teasing when I said it would be nice for you to become more monstrous.”
“No, and I’m not letting you try to convince me otherwise this time. I know your tricks now.”
“Please, my hero?” she asks, batting her eyes once more while looking up at him.
Her tricks still work despite him knowing what they are.