Hey gang, welcome to the new year! Here’s a big update! A couple of things:

This chapter includes some tasteful nudity. I’ve put the images in links in the text, so you don’t have to scroll past butt drawings at work. Please do not be a weirdo creeper in the comments.

The Ophelia drawings were posed for by my friend Lady Jack, a gorgeous and skilled dancer, actress, and model from Chicago who I’m pretty sure is actually an elf. You should go Like her page and support all of her endeavors.

And without further ado…

CHAPTER 17

It’s the following night. Toby and Ophelia have snuck back into the Red Market, and return to the Goblin Market. There, Maximus greets them and thanks them for upholding their end of the bargain. As he does so, Ophelia notices an unusual surge of magical energy in the air, not unlike the one she witnessed back at the religious revival in Clorencia City.

Toby looks around the market, checking out a booth of bizarre tchotchkes and curios, while Ophelia speaks to Maximus:

“Actually, we’re looking for some information. We’re chasing a red haired woman named Brigitte, and her clockwork armed sorcerer accomplice. Any leads?”

“I know nothing of these people at the moment, but I have eyes and ears everywhere, and can search for them. For a price.”

“Which is?”

“The memory of your first kiss.”

“Pardon?”

“Or his.”, Maximus says, gesturing to Toby.

Toby refuses, but Ophelia calmly agrees. From within his coat, Maximus procures a small, delicate crystalline bottle, the sort that would hold expensive perfume. He hands it to Ophelia.

MEANWHILE

Eva, Thorton, Oliver, and Julius have settled into their new accomodations. Since it’s not safe to return to the Lymos estate, our heroes have settled into an underground flophouse used by smugglers and other Paravian criminals, that is literally in the city’s sewers. It’s a far cry from the life of luxury they’d been promised.

Thorton is unhappy. “So, what are we gonna do if Julius doesn’t find us a way off of this island? Move into the sewers? Take up a life of piracy?”

Julius assures him that he will uphold his promise, that he owes the constables his life and will absolutely find them all transportation to the Free Islands. The others are unconvinced.

“For the record, I vote for taking up a life of piracy.”, says Oliver.

BACK AT THE GOBLIN MARKET

“Concentrate on the memory, and exhale into this vial.”

Toby looks shocked. “Are you sure about this?”

Ophelia nods to him, and takes the bottle.

Ophelia exhales into the vial, and after a pause silently hands it back to Maximus.

“Soooo…. did it work?” Toby asks.

Ophelia considers for a moment, before confirming that she can remember she had a first kiss, but nothing about it. Maximus places the vial into his coat, where it disappears into some internal pocket or alternate dimension or who knows.

“Thank you. I will send Carbuncle promptly with news once I have located your quarry. I always uphold a pact, you can be sure of it.”

Toby and Ophelia thank Maximus, and leave. Outside, Ophelia tells Toby she has something to do and will meet him back at the hideout.

“Are you sure? What if you get attacked?”

“I will cause as much damage and as much cacophony as possible. If you hear chaos and violence, grab the others and come running.”

“Will do.”

LATER

Alone, Ophelia walks through the late night streets of Paravo, arriving at an empty dock. Looking around, she makes sure she’s alone, walks out to the edge of the pier and takes off her clothes. She breathes deeply, holding her arms out and taking in the ocean air and moonlight, channels the elemental power of the sea before diving into the water.

She races through the water, eyes glowing. Soon her entire body glows, and transforms. Tapping into new aspects of her magic, Ophelia changes shape into that of a twenty foot long sea serpent. Exhilarated, she crashes up above the waves before diving back into the sea.

Eventually, Ophelia returns to the pier shortly before sunrise, having returned to her normal form. With a quiet “woah”, she retrieves her clothes and returns to her friends.

TWO DAYS LATER

The constables sit around their dingy hideout. While the others relax or train, Ophelia is practicing new magics, summoning a large elemental made of rancid sewer water and cleansing it of filth and waste.

Suddenly Julius barges in!

“Great news everyone! I’ve secured passage to the Free Islands! It will require a slight bit of work on our part, but we will be well compensated upon arrival in New Miralles! Pack up! We set sail in one hour!”

THE DOCKS

Our heroes stand in front of a massive airship that has a massive shark mouth painted on the bow and is built from scrap parts from a dozen ships. Captain Verna Drake stands before them, at the ramp to her ship.

“Hop aboard deadbeats! We’re going monster hunting!”