"Uuurgh..." His cheeks red, Daniel groaned. He was tugging on the bottom of his outfit while bringing a silver platter of small crustaceans to his quote-unquote savior. "Why'd you make the skirt on that thing so small and frilly?"
"Well," his mistress answered, "I wouldn't have made that deal if I wasn't expecting occasions to make a cutie like you totally embarrassed." She slouched backwards in her throne, her dark hair squishing against its marble, and she moved her curled tail atop the sculpted stone slab that was the centerpiece of the room. It infuriated him greatly.
"Tail off the table!" He pushed it back to the ground and dropped the plate in front of her seat, then hugged the tray in frustration. The seahorse-lady was salivating.
"Oh my, is this all for me?" she joked. "What a talented cook I got myself!"
"All I did was remove a few shells here and there..." he mumbled, looking away and idly scratching his cheek. Ah, yes, he'd forgotten about his new gills located there.
In fact, there were other elements of his new anatomy he still hadn't fully adapted to. He had immense trouble staying leveled, forced to regularly flick his neon blue tail downwards just to stop himself from constantly sinking. Letting his fin touch the ground didn't feel comfortable, so he had to do this micromanaging of his height instead. His vision kept bobbing up and down because of this, which was adding to his already high frustration.
Even his top half hadn't kept much of his previous form. Sure, it was still mostly human, except for the gills and fins on each side of his head. The fins had no practical purpose and served only to make him look a bit cuter despite his lack of ears - his hearing now taken care of by little holes covering the sides of his two halves, that also did much more. He could feel all kinds of vibrations and movements in the water through these. His hair had gone red and now easily reached his backside... And, of course, hidden beneath his black puffy dress and frilly apron, were his new, unmistakably feminine curves. Complete with breasts and everything. Urgh, he shouldn't have thought about that again, he didn't need to be even more livid.
So instead, he stood (mostly) still next to his new owner, waiting for her to finish devouring her dinner. Her lack of table manners was incredible, for someone so... presumably rich and magical. After all, she did kind of save his life yesterday... At a cost, sure, but back then he’d really thought himself a goner when the traffic barrier gave in to the weather and he fell off that cliff. Did she have to change his body to save him, or was that part of the payment? He didn't know.
And now he was ruminating once again on that contract he had signed in exchange for his life. He was to be her maid for a time, then he'd be released back into the human world. There was so much that was vague about this that he hadn't had the strength to clarify when he had been clinging to his last few breaths.
"How long do I have to be your maid for?" he asked timidly.
"Until I am satisfied with your service," his mistress answered, grabbing her napkin and elegantly cleaning away whatever was stuck around her lips, as if it made up for her inordinate messiness moments earlier.
His cheeks went red with frustration again. "And how long will that take?"
She shrugged and put her tail back on the table, picking away at a bit of shrimp stuck between her teeth. He quickly grabbed the plate and brought it to the kitchen before hurryingly returning to this room, not done with the conversation.
"So I'm just... supposed to continue doing this for whatever time you feel like to maybe one day get back to my family?" he asked with contained indignation, doing his best to not stray too far from his role as a servant.
His mistress chuckled and crossed her arms. "What family? Don't think I don't know anything about you, Daniel. You haven't talked to them for years."
His blood ran cold. "You've been spying on me for how long!?" he shouted.
"What, did you think I just saved you because you happened to be the one on the brink of death? I've had my eyes on you for quite a while."
"...How much exactly do you know?" he enquired with muffled panic.
"Everything you did when you were near coasts, including in your home. You weren't a very nomadic person, you know that?"
Daniel huffed, his cheeks reddening again. After all, he did get out of town every once in a while, to go to conventions. "Anyway, family, whatever, but what about my friends? You can't expect me to just not contact them at all or something?"
She rolled her eyes and smiled. "We have a computer in one of the back rooms. And internet. I'm sure your cosplay forum friends will love to receive news from you."
He blushed and covered his mouth with his hands. Of course she'd know! She must've seen him work on so many costumes when he was at home! And, that meant, including... Oh no.
She stretched and stood up, propelling herself towards him with confidence. She leaned forward and booped him on the nose. "Aaah, you're so cuuute! And your act looks so natural!"
Yeah. She knew. He'd always been one to fully immerse himself in the roles he took... So she knew he'd picked up all these feminine mannerisms when crossplaying. And in this body, one more role to fill, they were coming out again.
He took a deep breath and dropped his hands off his face, before pointing accusingly at his mistress. "For the record, I am not a girl!" he stated, and felt his blush redden further. He hoped she didn't notice.
She immediately noticed. Crossing her hands, she leaned towards him again, though from the side this time. "Are you suuuure?" She harbored a kind of incredulous and mean smile on her face.
He knew what she meant. He felt like he was supposed to say how she was wrong and, come on, he's kinda supposed to know himself better than she does, but he just ended up dropping his shoulders and hugging his torso in embarrassment. "Look, I've... already asked myself that question, okay?" He glanced away, trying to hide the tears swelling up. "It's... It's just a hobby." That topic always brought difficult feelings.
"Hey hey," started his mistress as she swiftly swam in front of him and gently put her hand on his face. "I want you embarrassed, not uncomfortable. Are you alright?"
He looked her dead in the eyes, and felt his tears finally break out. They mixed with the ambient water, quickly becoming almost imperceptible.
She grabbed him by the shoulders and, after obtaining his approval, hugged him in comfort. "You can take the rest of the evening off."
He felt a bit of relief wash away part of his current, confused feelings. "Thank you, mistress." The hug continued for a few minutes, his mistress patting him comfortingly on the back.
"I don't mean to pry... well, pry too forcefully, but..." his mistress said as she slowly released her grasp and lowered herself to his face, "It's just the two of us here. No one else has to know. And I won't judge."
He bit at his fingernail, taking a moment to think. "I don't know where I'd start..."
"Well, how about with a new name?" she said, raising a finger in the air. "It can just be a nickname if it's too much."
"But what?" he asked, looking up to her face.
She grinned another mischievous smile. "Well... Do you know the name of the species your fish half is?"
He looked down at himself. The neon blue body, the equally neon yellow fin... His eyes jumped back up to her, his cheeks tinting themselves red again. "Oh no you didn't," he said through gritted teeth.
"Oh, but I did." She crossed her arms, happy to have him react exactly as she wanted again.
"Oh no you didn't!" he shouted again, in a mix of anger and embarrassment.
"Is it not to your liking, Damsel?" she asked, putting emphasis on that last word.
"Once I get out of this body I am going to murder you," Damsel said. She was livid that her mistress had her in the palm of her hand like that.
The woman’s answer was a laugh full of smugness and arrogance.