Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!
After walking a fair distance from the city, which disappeared over the hills, a forest dotted the area. If Maribell ran by boosting with magic, it would have taken her mere minutes to travel, but she didn’t feel like it at all. Her nerves were shot, her hands trembled, and simply wanted to curl up into a ball. Using magic at such a time was a recipe for disaster.
She sorely needed some time to recover her wits after the sudden encounter with a hovering jellyfish. And a hole to climb into, to reject the reality of the traumatizing event like sunlight that was much too bright for her tired eyes. Her body was completely wiped out, and all she wanted to do was sleep. It was rather fortunate that one was nearby, tucked under some massive tree roots where the dirt had washed away.
Maribell no longer had her travel supplies, which she dumped during the escape because they weighted her down. But for now, she simply closed her eyes and drifted off.
Snazzy looked around, silently catching up to her, seeing only the green foliage and hearing birds chirp in the distance. He was all alone with Maribell, who had pretty much ignored him the entire walk here. He didn’t blame her. He hadn’t predicted the shocking first impression that was made on her.
And now, the sun was starting to set. It looked like they would be spending the night here.
With beady eyes and a faint smile, Snazzy stared at the vulnerable form of Maribell snoozing. Hovering quietly over to her, he rubbed his tentacles together while pondering his first order of business.
Maribell woke up with a jolt. Being so exhausted from the escape, she had passed out, forgetting about the strange creature that was with her. Her eyes flew open in realization that it could have done anything to her!
She patted her clothing, noticing that they were thankfully still on. After what that thing did to her, she was surprised that it had left her alone. Her eyes scanned over her garments again, furrowing her brows. Rather than being beat up from all the attacks, they appeared to have been patched. She swore that they had been torn to shreds just before her nap, and she didn’t have any magic spells to patch them up.
Still pondering about them, she emerged from under the tree roots. Her eyes flicked around the area, looking for the strange being that was with her not long ago.
Did it finally leave me alone? What did it want with me anyway?
“Oh hey, you’re finally up. I was beginning to wonder. It’s been a boring evening,” an unfamiliar voice called out to her.
Maribell jumped away in a panic. Instinctively, her hand cast a spell and ejected the fireball toward the voice.
“…I dozed for a bit, but I just realized that jellyfish don’t have eyelids. Couldn’t sleep as soon as the sun came up.” The voice continued to chat away even as the fireball slowly approached him. By the time Maribell realized that it was just Snazzy, she couldn’t slow it down enough to completely stop it.
“Ungyahhhh!!!” The fireball smacked into it and cast it ablaze. “Ow hot! Ooch ouch oooo!!!”
Maribell stared blankly at the blue jellyfish carrying some fish in its feelers, now on fire because of her attack. It danced around trying to fan the flames. She felt guilty for the sudden attack, thinking that it was a soldier that was pursing after her.
But barely a few seconds passed before the flames suddenly disappeared with a Pop! Maribell tilted her head in confusion as that wasn’t how magic normally dispersed.
Snazzy was just as surprised when the burning sensation suddenly went away. As he tried to talk though, flames spewed out of his mouth, like a fire-breather at a circus.
“What?... Oh neat! Fire breath! Dragon’s breath! Flambé a la flambé!”
Next, he opened and closed his mouth, forming little fireballs that tumbled to the ground before puffing out.
“This is kind of fun! Makes the pain totally worth it!”
Maribell had no idea what to make of this. A jellyfish that spat fire and hovered in the air? Was she still dreaming?
Eventually, she snapped out of her daze and walked forward. “H-Hey, you!”
“It’s Snazzy-chan to you, or just Snazzy. I’m fine with Snazzy.” His lips curled into a wide smile as he continued to amuse himself with the fireballs.
However, the fire suddenly ended with him puffing out nothing but a hint of smoke. “Aw man, am I out of MP or something? Or wait, maybe I have to get hit again with it?” He motioned toward Maribell for some more.
She had no idea what to say to that. Perhaps, he was a few incantations short of a spell? His face dropped into a frown as he impatiently waited for her to do it anyway. Curious herself, she tossed another fireball at Snazzy.
After another moment of him dancing around, the same popping noise happened. Once again, flames spewed from his mouth while he talked.
“Weeeee!!! I can absorb magic and use it! How neat!”
At this point, Maribell knew that Snazzy was a peculiar existence. Its actions were strange but had a distinct childishness to them. It didn’t seem as much of a danger as she first thought.
“E-Excuse me? Just what are you?” she asked, loads of questions on her mind.
“I’m a jellyfish with a hot number!” Snazzy turned upwards while spewing fire like a fountain and can-can dancing with his tentacles. Slowly, he spun around to give it a more dramatic effect.
“Can you stop that for just one moment!?” Maribell yelled, her nerves already frayed.
“Oh, okay… I was just having a bit of fun. Still haven’t gotten used to what this body can do.” Snazzy hovered in place while little wisps of flame leaked out of the corners of his mouth.
Maribell’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean by that? You don’t know what you can do?”
“Nope! Not at all! I’ve spent about as long as a jellyfish as I have known you. But boy, does this body do more than your friendly neighborhood jellyfish!”
Snazzy proceeded to explain to Maribell about how he used to be human and that he had reincarnated into a jellyfish with special powers.
“A being from the Gods? That’s… not entirely unbelievable.”
In this world, there was mention of otherworldly beings reborn into this one, blessed beasts with strange powers that would aid those in need. Legends of that were spoken all around the Kingdom of Rhylimer, where they currently were.
“But that is talk of majestic familiars like dragons, and tigers, and phoenixes. You’re just a-”
“I know. Save me the humiliation.” Snazzy held up a feeler. “That was my fault. An impurity of the mind. Can we just drop that point?”
Maribell had a sudden realization. If Snazzy used to be human…
“What did you do to me in my sleep?!” she yelled, prompting the jellyfish to wave his feelers in denial.
“Whoa there! I’m a gentleman! That wouldn’t be proper. All I did was patch up your clothes. Strangely, all I had to do was rub some spit on it, and they sealed up quite nicely.”
Maribell looked closely again, noticing that her outfit wasn’t perfectly restored. There were still faint cuts in the fabric, along with places where it had bunched up together, crumpled and held in place.
“Should be enough to get by until the next place.” He gave a thumbs up with his feeler.
“Come to think of it. Your voice is different too. Wasn’t it… higher?”
“Oh that?” Snazzy reached into his underside and poked a few times. “You mean this voice?” he said, several pitches higher. After poking it again a few more times, it returned back to the lower voice that he was using.
In the boring, overnight period, he had messed around with it. Currently, he sounded very much like he did as a human. He no longer felt as much of a disparity between his two selves. Well, aside from the whole jellyfish thing that couldn’t be changed.
Snazzy, the jellyfish, if one could even call it that at this point, had abilities that certainly seemed unique. Not to mention, that strange burst of magical power that she felt had come from him as well.
Though, she suddenly recalled that he wasn’t quite so gentlemanly at that point. She gave him an evil glare as she conveyed how he had invaded the inside of her clothes.
“That was… a danger reflex! I couldn’t think of what else to do…” He tried to cover his head with his feelers. Once again, he was trying to act cute.
“So, you crawl down my blouse? You shift all around my chest and get all excited from it?!” Maribell was no longer mad, but that still didn’t mean she would forgive him.
The jellyfish just cutely shrugged. “I must say. Quite the uncanny valley you have there. 11 out of 10! C’est Magnifique!”
Maribell grew tired of Snazzy’s exhausting replies. She hadn’t recovered the energy to deal with it patiently. As if it was a sign, her stomach growled an answer for her.
“Fish flambé?” A slightly charred whole fish was extended to her.
After their quick meal, the pair set off to find a town to resupply. Since Snazzy seemed to have some useful skills, Maribell could put up with his nonsense for now if he behaved… probably. Traveling alone was not easy to begin with, but she was forced to once she acquired the Grimoire of Lies. Having a companion added versatility, despite it being a magical jellyfish being.
Although Maribell had lost everything else on hand, a small coin pouch that was secured by a belt underneath her blouse remained. How that stayed intact after all of Snazzy’s shuffling, she could only count that as a blessing.
The clinking of metal coins in her hand echoed as she stared at what she had left. With a sigh, she dumped them back into the pouch and resecured it.
“Barely enough to get by…”
“Say, what have you been doing to earn money?” Snazzy floated upside down in front of Maribell’s face.
“Hunting, foraging, gathering anything that can be sold or traded in towns. But without anything to carry them, we won’t be able to grab all that much. Occasionally, there’s a guild request to take down some monsters, but I’ve been avoiding them because word gets around.”
Certainly, a guild that exchanged information all around the kingdom would quickly hear gossip of a wandering Witch that escaped from the city.
“Don’t worry! You have me! I’m a great money maker! Believe it or not, I was living pretty comfortably in my old life.” Snazzy flipped back upright, flexing his tentacles like bulky muscles existed within them.
“Living comfortably… until you died.” Maribell teased. She wondered what skills he could even use as a jellyfish. At least, he was able to hunt for some fish.
“Hey, I was… assassinated. That’s probably the best way to phrase it.” After all, someone had indeed called a hit job on him. They had just used the local police to do it. The whole dynamic of prank calling and dangerous responses was too difficult to explain, so that felt best.
As they continued to walk towards the nearest town, Maribell went over the plan with Snazzy.
He was to act as if she had summoned him as a familiar. That would bring up the least amount of questions as magicians were known to possess one. As they were generally respected, she wouldn’t be bothered as long as no one recognized her as the Witch in question.
Since Maribell had acquired her grimoire only six months ago, very few people could pin her as one, especially in places that she had visited before the curse. Before that, she was just another ordinary traveler, trying to make a living with her magic.
And with her inability to lie, it was best not to talk to too many people. She could rely on that same curse to know if people recognized her from a distance. Only those who knew about her Witch abilities, which hardly existed, could hide anything from her.
But what about Snazzy?
Strangely, she hadn’t heard a peep outside of what he spoke with his mouth. Either, that ability didn’t work on a jellyfish, or Snazzy wore his thoughts on his… tendrils. After all that she had been through, she felt highly suspicious of the sea creature. Suddenly, a wave of anxiety hit her from not knowing what was on his mind.
She could feel his beady eyes sizing her up. There was undoubtedly something that he wanted from her. But unless she asked him directly, she wouldn’t be able to detect any discrepancy in his thoughts compared to his words.
“Just what is your goal anyways? You’re a magical… whatever that can... do neat things. Why follow me around?”
“Because you’re one hot Onee-san that I feel like protecting! Do I need any other reason?”
What she thought came from his mind was no different. It was a strangely unnerving feeling to have such uncertainty around her. But ignoring her glare of skepticism, Snazzy bounced in the air to an imaginary tune in his head while singing.
“Let’s play!~ Let’s have fun with some Onee-sans, yeah!~ If not, I’ll chill with the imoutos, yeah!~ In this wide, wide world, let’s make a party with some lovelies!~”
I am soooo going to regret this, aren’t I?
Maribell could only shake her head. Snazzy was nowhere near the example of keeping a low profile.