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“Your introduction to our world was… might we say, less than glamorous; but on behalf of King Andrias Leviathan: I, Lady Olivia, would like to formally welcome you to our great land of Amphibia!”

With that, the fancy blue lizard lady gave a large pair of doors a hearty push and led Marcy through the castle’s main foyer, with pillars that reached impossible heights and stained glass murals the depicted impossible victories; and oh, if it were any other day, Marcy would’ve loved to spend literal days combing through every nook and cranny of the castle. As for today, though, stress and exhaustion and vague overstimulation caused the vast palace to be more of a bleary obstacle for her to push herself through than anything, already mentally mashing buttons through the exposition being dumped on her.

“Where we are now is Newtopia; capital city of Amphibia, and home to a great number of newts, toads, and frogs alike.”

A nod.

“Newtopia prides itself on our champions, our artisans and scholars. This is a city run by the thinkers, the dreamers, the greatest of which push the boundaries of what we know from within these very walls.”

Another nod. She throws in a couple of hushed murmurs of astonishment in there, too.

“The peace kept in the lands surrounding are held in the hands of our very own ruler…”

Marcy nods absentmindedly before practically tripping over Lady Olivia; the only thing keeping her from wholly toppling to the floor in a graceless heap was the sudden (cold? sticky?) hands catching her. With a nod of her own, the cephalon-adjacent woman helped Marcy back onto her feet, before returning to what she had been doing prior: assessing Marcy’s scuffed up shins with a critical eye.

“Now, am I to assume that blood-flecked knees are typical for Marcys, or should I aquire a first-aid kit?” And she says it in the same stilted manner she’s said everything else so far, but there’s a dry edge to her tone, the slightest of smirks creeping in on her crafted smile, and Marcy is so caught off guard that she forgets to answer until the moment the sharper aspects of the royal attendant are covered up again, sputtering out a yes, band-aids please, and wilting at her social ineptitude once the lizard (newt? she mentioned newts, newt made sense) had walked away.

Mundane injuries are typical for Marcys, in a way.

Lady Olivia returned sooner than she’d expected; Marcy hardly had the time to lament over how sore she was before the newt had returned, hefty carrying case in hand. “Come, come; there’s a seating area right over here.” Without a second thought she gently ushered Marcy over to a leaf-print couch that looked like it cost more money than Marcy's ever seen in her life; and the young girl dropped her satchel onto the floor and ran her blistered fingers over the soft material adorning the cushions before eagerly plopping down, already feeling herself beginning to relax.

“Now then, how did you receive such wounds?” Lady Olivia’s nose (muzzle? no, nose was fine) was buried into the medical kit, and Marcy felt grateful for such a simple excuse to not make eye contact.

“Oh, my shins? Well, I was kinda tryin’ to stealth it, since, y’know, got isekai’d to a whole new world , with all sorts of new creatures and rules; I didn’t wanna get in over my head too fast. Kept to the alleys ‘n backstreets ‘n stuff.” Lady Olivia shot her a wry glance and Marcy, as poorly as she gets people, has been the person she has long enough to see when someone really just wanted her to get to the point . “ And y’know uh, gotta be alert and ready to run if I don’t wanna be caught? Yeah? So I might’ve tripped more than a couple of times, heh heh.”

“Mhm. What did you trip over?” More unfamiliar newtish ointments were being carefully poured out on the scrapes on her legs, and only once Marcy had stopped talking had she noticed that it really did sting.

“My feet, mostly.” Marcy laughed, because what else could she do, and mindlessly wrung her hands for a moment before realizing why it hurt when she did that. “Oh! My hands too.” She shoved her scuffed palms into Lady Olivia’s field of view, and in return was met with a stern frown which almost immediately cracked into a quiet, resigned chuckle.

“And how old did you say you were?” Lady Olivia half-scolded, pouring the stinging liquid onto Marcy’s hands

“I’m- ow ow ow okay- I’m twelve years old.” The deft hands stopped. Marcy started up at the newt and squirmed under her gaze, unable to gleam anything from her expression. “Almost thirteen! My birthday’s- I’ve only been here four- Four days? My birthday’s in a few weeks. So yeah, almost thirteen.”

Lady Olivia watches her for a few uncomfortable moments more, before turning back to the first-aid kit, pulling out some proper cloth bandages. “Are you here by yourself?”

“I don’t know?” She briefly wonders whether she should keep anything secret, but before she can decide one way or another she finds her mouth continuing to run regardless. “I was with my friends when I got zapped here, but I haven’t seen either of them since then. I hope they’re okay.”

“And are they both Marcys like you?” Bandages are wrapped around her hands over and over again; and it’s such a soothing, repetitive motion that Marcy almost completely spaces out, jolting back to attention with the quiet shwink! of Lady Olivia’s shears.

“You do know Marcy’s my name and not my species, right?” She giggles, and Lady Olivia hums vaguely in response, a poorly hidden grin making Marcy wonder how much of the royal newt’s formalities are a facade. “But yeah, they’re both humans like me, you’d know ‘em if you’d seen ‘em.” She sighs, smile falling slightly. “Anne and Sasha.”

Sasha, who always knows the right things to say, to do, to feel. Anne, who gets people, who cares and connects like no one else can. Her best friends, and some of the few people willing to weather Marcy’s many oddities. The three of them have been friends for as long as Marcy can remember, their own quirks and flaws and strengths playing off of each other like a perfectly balanced adventuring party- ready for anything that’s thrown their way! She really hopes they’ll be okay.

She hopes she’ll be okay without them, too.

Lady Olivia breaks through her thoughts with a self-satisfied hum, bandages now firmly wrapped around Marcy’s hands and legs like a hastily-done halloween costume. “Well, that should keep the blood where it belongs, at the very least.” She tucked the remaining medical doodads back into the carrying case with a precision and ease that could only come with practice. “And I’ll make sure the first sign of any ‘Annes’ or ‘Sashas’ will be reported back to us right away, so no need to fret about that.”

“Oh g- gosh I- thanks, Lady Olivia!” Marcy would’ve winced at the fumbled speech if she weren’t so relieved, warmth blooming in her chest and spreading across her face in the shape of a grin. She hadn’t really realized how scared she was until now.

The newt woman waved her off in lieu of an answer, meeting Marcy’s smile with a small one of her own and pushing herself to her feet as she smoothed out imperceptible wrinkles in her gown. “Think nothing of it. Knowing the king, he’ll be as eager to ensure your friends’ safety as you are.”

Marcy’s stomach twisted with mention of the king, having read enough books to gain a healthy apprehension of mysterious supreme authorities. Usually specifically kings. She sank into the couch in passive protest and also because she was maybe a little tired. 

“Speaking of the king-“ Marcy sank even deeper in her seat- “Typically, an audience with him would be both immediate and mandatory, but considering the circumstances, perhaps it would be best to wait until the morning, hmm?”

A blink. “Huh? How come?”

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed you drooping like an unwatered fern.” With a jolt, Marcy straightened in her seat, her burning ears picking up a quiet snort that was very quickly covered by a cough from her amphibian companion. “Ehem, well, it’s much too late an hour to achieve any semblance of productivity, regardless. Come, I’ll show you to your room.”

Marcy cast one last longing glance to the impossibly comfortable couch beneath her, before peeling herself away and hissing at the soreness of her nonexistent muscles. “A whole room in a palace like this? I dunno, I really wouldn’t want to impose, I-“ She failed to hold back a yawn, shoulders cracking in exertion. Lady Olivia’s expression was of quiet fondness once Marcy had retrieved her bag and caught up with the newt. “I’d’ve been fine with sleeping on that couch.”

“Nonsense. All you’d get from that old thing is a crick in your neck and a poor night’s rest.” Lady Olivia’s glance left no room for debate as she led her away from the main foyer and through the glittering, almost labyrinthine hallways; earning the human girl a few bewildered onlookers in the form of the amphibious staff.

“Do you speak from experience?” Marcy laughed and raised a hesitant hand in greeting to a shortish frog-looking chef, who in response screamed and fainted on the spot. “...He’s probably fine, right?”

“Oh, him? Yes, he does that.” Lady Olivia didn’t even spare a glance behind her. “As for experience; well, you don’t live in the same place for long without making it in some way a home.”

At that, the two of them stopped in front of a comparatively smaller set of doors, and Marcy has the stray thought of I don’t remember the way back out of this place, should I be worried about that? before being distracted by the spacious room, unrecognizable flora lining the windowsill, and queen-sized bed that somehow looks even cushier than the couch from earlier.

“Here we are: one of the castle’s many guest bedrooms. Make yourself at home-“ She shot Lady Olivia a sleepy thumbs-up from the pile of pillows she had already sprawled herself across, one shoe partially kicked off and her satchel abandoned by the nightstand- “And please don’t mind any messiness, we weren't quite prepared for company so soon after our banquet with the Toad Lords and their armies.”

Marcy nodded. Those toads and their armies, alright.

“Remember, your debriefing with the king will take place first thing in the morning. I’d recommend getting some rest beforehand, though I imagine you wouldn’t need to be told that.” The blue-skinned newt gently chided as she switched off every gas lantern in the room, casting it into darkness. Silhouetted against the light of the hallway as she made her way towards the door, she glanced back with a soft smile. “Now, is there anything else I can help with before you’re left to your leisures?”

“Not that I can think of, no.” Marcy talked herself into at the very least peeling off her raggedy school hoodie before crawling under the covers “Oh, wait! uhh,” I had a thought earlier, what was it? Oh, it was- “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, d’you think you could take me to the thing with the king tomorrow? I don’t really know my way around this place, heh heh.”

“Certainly.” Lady Olivia flitted her eyes across the room in one final check before nodding to herself in satisfaction, hand loose around the doorknob. “Good night, Master Marcy.”

“G’night!”

And then she was alone.

Light still crept in through the seams of the door and the glow of a waxing moon, but despite that the room itself was dim enough that Marcy could barely make out her own hand. She briefly entertained the idea of flicking back on one of the lamps before dismissing it, too tired to do anything worthwhile. Instead, she burrowed deeper into the comforter, letting her body relax and her mind pace.

She really hoped Sasha and Anne were okay. She really hoped folks back home noticed her absence. She really hoped she made the right decision with trusting the newts.

All she could do was hope.

She fell asleep before she could do anything else.