At dawn they were ready. Lybos arrived first. Uncharacteristically disheveled, his suit was rumpled and his hair was mussed. He clutched his coffee and his encyclopedia like a dying man. He had spent the night in the library comparing sketches of the next goblin King to every image he could find. Unfortunately, his research had been futile. He requested a guard to inform his wife of his departure, he had not had time to return to his apartment.
The carts were clattering up towards the door now, and Hanna arrived looking well rested and smug. She had opted to leave the dissection kit at home, but she exchanged it with a lethal looking apparatus. The function of this was a jealously guarded secret that was fiercely debated by pages who took her introductory biology class. They mostly agreed that it was a torture device. "Sebonir is running late again. The King dictated that we return with the dawn carts or we're stuck out here until tomorrow evening," She groused to Lybos.
He nodded pleasantly. "Did you find anything of interest?"
"Now that you've enlightened us that he has bones? I'm thinking he may be an eel."
"Eels require submersion." Lybos countered.
"The future King has defense magic which would negate that need. Or, like I initially believed, he may be a hybrid." Hanna climbed smartly into the cart that would carry them into the daylight and readjusted her black dress and wide-brimmed hat. "This way of travel is preposterous. Marak could have easily sent us through the water mirror. Then Sebonir would have had time to sleep in."
"Don't be ridiculous. We couldn't go through the water mirror. We don't know a specific location of a reptile house, also our books would have gotten wet." He dragged himself up wearily to sit beside her. "Now," he began, "I plan on taking a nap during this ride, so if you could spend the energy to smooth it that would be appreciated."
He had just drifted off when Sebonir leapt into her spot. Although he wasn't awakened by the jarring of the cart, Hanna's criticisms interrupted his slumber. "Hanna, please." He tried to plead with her.
"No, Lybos! You need to look at the ensemble she put herself in. She is going to call attention to all of us."
Cracking an eye, he observed Sebonir dressed in electric blue nylons, a distractingly short skirt (if he wasn't married…), and four blouses of different colors, cuts, patterns, and eras. Her silver boots were covered in crystals, and glowed. She had spiked her hair, colored her face, and wore so much jewelry that there was a glare. She carried a lacy parasol. "Hanna has a point." He mused aloud. "Did you get dressed in the dark?"
"No!" Sebonir was incensed. Both at the hour and at the fustiness of her colleagues. "Look, I already have blue hair. I figured that by increasing the chaotic nature of myself, that people would look away rather than stare. I mean, you already think I'm crazy."
Although Hanna was not won over by her argument, Lybos silenced her with a spell and returned to his nap. By the time the sun was out, they were moving through the English countryside. With Lybos soundly asleep and Sebonir resolutely looking in the opposite direction, no one was available to appreciate Hanna's angry glares.
After clearing the Hollow Hill vicinity, they arrived at the designated place where they could stash the cart and travel by cloak. Lybos substituted a blanket, as cloaks were out of fashion. The resultant spell worked, but only because he had been wrapped in the blanket rather than using it as a cover. Magic works on technicalities. They arrived in the women's bathroom in the reptile house. Fortunately, it had been deserted at the time, and it was only a matter of exiting one by one so as not to attract attention. As Lybos left, he was seen by a human woman, and he feigned embarrassment. She nodded and looked the other way, mumbling about drunken sots at the zoo and didn't he know there could be children about?
The reptile house was cool and dark and feeling comfortable in the environment, they split up. Hanna went to stare at a moray eel, and she was repulsed by its crooked features but impressed by its bite power and its long teeth. Although the newborn King didn't have the same proportions as the eel, he had the same slime coat, and a sickly coloration. She read about the electric eel and hoped that maybe the babe would have elemental powers. Thinking of the time Falion ignited a rare text, she quickly reconsidered.
Lybos was ignoring the future King's skin tone and focusing on leglessness. There were many snakes in the reptile house, a portion of which were poisonous. Hanna had had a point that not every trait in the new King had to be based off of an animal; Marak Lionclaw was a famous example. He made note to check whether the infant had a rattle, fangs, or hood. The markings on his head indicated that perhaps there would be something unique there, but he was unsure. Snakes had vestigial legs as well, so if ever leg buds did develop, it would still be consistent with his theory.
Fully intending to look into the slug possibility, there was a small display of invertebrates; Sebonir was sidetracked by a display on the reproduction of Anurans, or frogs. She was fascinated by the idea of metamorphosis, and a tank containing their tadpoles caught her eye. The tadpoles would someday become red-eyed tree frogs, a common South American species, and there was a side panel on differential hatching. When a threat occurred, eggs would hatch before their full development was completed trading off decreased probability of survival in the water for temporary survival. This was consistent with Kiri's early labor. Before she could compare species morphology, she was dragged off by Hanna, shoved roughly through the blanket, and on her way back to the kingdom.