"Absolutely not." At the front, Zack was arguing with Mira.
"Very interesting news, amazing new possibilities. I'll have to tell you later, though." She waved toward Rose, who was running back toward them.
"Do you wanna take a bath with us?" she said energetically. "I'm paying!"
"We'll decide a little later," Rayna said. "Need to see how Aria's doing first."
"Ooh, she can come too! And Clera..." The sparkly look in the dragon-girl's eyes was both adorable and terrifying all at the same time.
"Mmhm, and mention how huge of a help you were with that," Rayna nodded. Rose blushed and giggled nervously, clearly pleased with the praise but flustered by it all the same. It got her mind off of the subject of bathing for now, which was more what the two of them had wanted.
"Yeh, good luck gettin' a price like mine outta anybody else, buddy." The man behind the counter just let him walk out in a huff before quietly commenting to himself, "He'll be back." Then he noticed the girls waiting on him seemingly for the first time. "Ahh, welcome! What can I do ya for? Lookin' for somethin' in particular?"
"Hmm. Lemme take a look first. Ain't much ta pay me for if there ain't nothin' I can tell ya's."
"So..what exactly is a beacon crystal?" said Aria.
The man nodded, pulling the paper toward him. "Now, this I can do somethin' about. Most of the time, magic-hidden letters are pretty lazily hid. You're supposed to do some special thing ta make 'em show up, but only where the letters are is enchanted. So.." He opened a drawer under his side of the counter and pulled out something resembling a magnifying lens with red-tinted glass. "Ya use something that shows enchantments, it shows the letters." He put it over the paper, and letters appeared in green against the red:
"Well, my special vision reported it was dead," said Rayna, pointing vaguely at her own eyes. "It wasn't moving, it was burned all over, shocked, blown up inside, and got nearly bisected through that spot just behind its mouth."
The Captain nodded. "With as much damage as that, it would be slow to regenerate if at all. I'll have an expert go out and double-check, but it sounds to me like you more or less accidentally got all of the nerve clusters. I'm satisfied that our livestock will be safe for a while. Your payment's waiting outside, thank you."
"Um, yeah...about, what you said earlier. I ate an incubus last night, which comes with certain, things." She just gave the witch a long stare, an indication to keep going. Mira fidgeted nervously with her hands. "Based on my uh, research, with enough work it might be possible to combine the powers I have now into the ability to do certain kinds of transformations. Umm..you've heard, someone has mentioned to you about Zack, right?"
"That he's form-cursed? Yes. I've been looking into the source of that curse myself."
"R-right. So, I thought it's kind of a long shot, but whenever I figure out how to do it, I might try and find people who want their appearance changed for one reason or another. Um, not crime-avoiding ones. And with their explicit permission, get practice that way. Or, I could hire people to practice on, making it clear what they're signing up for first. I'm sure I can undo a change I made myself as soon as I've learned it."
"Um..the Captain wanted me to know she was watching me and would stop me if I turn evil." Jump back one conversation; good, good. "But that won't happen anyway, sooo..." Privately, to Katherine, she thought It has to do with me trying to break his curse but it's still way too soon to tell if I can. A brief mental nod came back.
"Hm?" She looked back and forth, seeming to actually register the winged girl's expression for the first time. "Oh, um..s-sorry."
"...Clera." She had a look of profound suspicion mixed with something like confusion, but took the offered hand and gave a firm shake anyway.
"That's debatable!" Katherine joked. A brief backwards not helping look made her stop giggling at least.
"I dunno, Zack, or..." He was shaking his head emphatically. "Okay, maybe not Zack. I just had a big strength boost, so I could do it. Rose is really strong too, and pretty reliable, however, um..excitable she is."
"I'm sure it won't be too bad for you. Maybe even a little fun," the fox-girl winked.