Rain and wind howl through these jagged, twisted spires of bare iron. Green electrical fire coruscates along each sword-like shard, with larger arcs dancing amongst them with every lightning strike from the raging storm. The peaks seem to float between two layers of black clouds, although glimpses of dark or burning land appear below as the wind tears open brief windows in the turmoil.
Suddenly thrust into this strange world, Tulani finds herself tumbling towards the peaks as the wind buffets her silver scales.
In an immediate, instinctual reaction Tulani's wings snap open, spreading wide in an attempt to catch some of the wind to stop her sudden, unexpected descent and instead gain some altitude.
Off on a semi-distant peak, safe inside a metallic cave, Kaira turns to Alptraum and says, "Thanks for bringing her in."
"I probably should have given her more warning," Alptraum admits to his draconic friend, "But I think you're right this is a better test. She'll have to think on her talons, so to speak, instead of having any chance to plan. I'm sure glad you don't do this to me, though."
After figuring out the shifting wind currents, Tulani finds a moderately stable pocket in the maelstrom. A flash of lightning highlights something moving on one of the peaks before her, though.
Kaira puts a wing over Alptraum, and says, "Your anger isn't nearly as dangerous as Tulani's will be. Like swords in flame, dragons are tempered in their rage. She needs to learn to feel it coming and harness it."
Getting a bit of a grip on the erratic air currents dodging about, the silver colored dragon banks her flight, curving toward the small amount of visible movement, eyes narrowed, there didn't seem to much time to think where she was, wherever that is…
"Mmm. I suppose that is fair," Alptraum admits from beneath the wing. "Of course if you get the tempering wrong, you'll end up with a useless sword. So, is there anything else I can assist with here? Surely something in the abilities I am practicing with could be useful to help direct her … training."
The lightning flashes play havoc with Tulani's normally sharp night vision, so she doesn't see the other dragon launch itself at her until it's too late!
"Well, I may kick you out into the storm later to see what she does," Kaira admits to the bat.
Shifting her wings Tulani dips downwards, then arcs herself back out of her current flight path, away from the other dragon, arcing around it towards the area behind with a hiss, trying to get a look at it in passing.
The other dragon is uncomfortably familiar: heavy scales the color of burnished steel, adorned with spikes and talons and a face that only seems capable of expressing anger. It's not Vorgulremik, but it's clearly of the same bloodline. The steel dragon snags one of the metal peaks with a talon, and uses it to turn him back towards Tulani with a roar.
Alptraum elbows Kaira. "Pah, I thought you were my friend," he mutters at the comment about kicking him out into the storm.
"For this exercise, it's the fact that you're Tulani's friend that matters," Kaira points out.
"Hmph," Alptraum replies. Honestly, he's not all that mad.
The silver dragon is still less than agile in her new form, and her attempts to dodge the larger dragon's attacks are ineffectual. The steel dragon manages to rake Tulani's left flank and wing with his talons, sending a spray of scales to join the raindrops falling to the hidden ground. Her own counter-strike deflects harmlessly from the monster's armored scales as well, and then he's past, and Tulani has a few moments to recover.
"Hmm. She isn't doing very well so far," Alptraum comments as he watches the battle commence. "Are you certain she was ready for this?"
"Of course she isn't ready," Kaira says. "The point is for her to lose her temper, not win."
"I'm glad we're way over here, then," Alptraum muses. "I'm squishy."
Tulani can feel the other dragon's claws tear through her scales and hisses in pain and frustration as her attempt at retaliation fails … her claws unable to find purchase on the others tough hide. Banking as the steel dragon continues past, she circles, keeping a good radius between herself and the opponent as she waits for its return.
Even while focusing on the big dragon, something in the air a disturbance in the wind flow, perhaps, prompts Tulani to glance behind her, where she spots a second, smaller dragon coming at her!
"So, where did you get the dragons? I thought you released them all," Alptraum comments to Kaira.
"Not the Steel Dragons," Kaira says. "Vorgulremik kept them here, in an Echo of Molryekar, their home world."
Another one? Tulani growls deep in her throat and turns on the wind, banking towards this new one to meet it ready, and quite willing to strike at it after the frustration of her ineffective attack on the last.
"And you intend to wipe them all out, don't you?" Alptraum asks next.
"Of course, they're a scourge," Kaira says.
"By what reasoning?" Alptraum asks. "Surely some were not all bad."
"They devour souls," Kaira notes. "Left loose, another Vorgulremik would arise in time."
"Fair enough," Alptraum muses. "I'm glad I do not have to make such decisions."
The two dragons collide in mid-air, and the sudden impact makes Tulani's strike go wild. The steel dragon sinks its teeth into her right wingspar near the shoulder though, and kicks her in the gut. An attempted talon-slice at her throat is blocked by Tulani's forearm though. The Molryekarin can't hold on for long without risking a fall, however, and has to let go after a few seconds. But the damage is done, and Tulani is effectively flying with a 'limp' now.
Alptraum winces and covers his eyes. "That was bad," he comments quietly, "I won't have to try and heal her later, will I?"
"She can't really be hurt in here," Kaira notes. "Not physically, I mean. She'll feel the pain though."
"Lovely. I'm glad I'm not feeling that," Alptraum mutters and absently rubs a wing over his shoulder.
"So, I'm supposed to have dinner with Countess Draco," Alptraum comments absently as he watches the battle continue. "Should I ask her to show me her more draconic self; meaning how she generally radiates its abilities. Would you find that interesting to examine?"
"Eh," Kaira says, her eyes on the conflict as well. "Dragon auras don't actually affect other dragons. We can just sense them," she explains. "I assume you're going to see if you can resist them, then?"
That did it, the silver dragon is now officially 'seeing red' Tulani arcs her wings and dives after her current attacker with a screech, ignoring the pain in her wing in a frenzied dash to keep distance close… A terribly cold sensation rushes through her chest as the Silver dragons throat starts to inflate. Then she roars, sending out an icy blast that manages to quick-freeze one of her opponents wings near the joint.
"Well, I thought you might like to get a better feel for what the one that's bound to her is like," Alptraum admits. "I rather imagine it would affect me. I guess it would give me a better idea as to what she is really like, too."
"Whoo, Tulani, good strike!" Alptraum hoots and jumps. He forgot Kaira's wing is over his head, though, and be thumps into it. "Ow, my ears!" he complains and pulls them down, wincing.
The stricken dragon immediately loses control of its flight, unable to lift or flex the frozen wing. Unable to compensate for the fierce winds, it is buffeted against one of the jagged peaks and sticks there, impaled on the razor and sword-like outcroppings. The larger dragon roars overhead, as if to remind Tulani that her victory isn't complete.
"I might be interested in knowing how subtly she can be with the aura," Kaira admits. It would tell me something of her control."
The silver dragon banks her flight as she watches her opponents inevitable descent, she wanted to see it fall, feeling a hot surge of triumph and pride as it hits its final resting spot against one of the terrible spires. Tulani returns the larger dragons call with a loud screech as if challenging, well! come on then!
"Okay, I'll ask her. I think I'm supposed to meet her for dinner after this," Alptraum says, still holding his throbbing ears down. "What would you like me to ask her to show me with it?" he starts to ask, then his attention resumes on Tulani and he comments, "You know, that attitude isn't much like her."
The first steel dragon drops lower, and tauntingly exposes its underbelly to Tulani. From the look of it, he's either very excited by the battle or else is broadcasting his intentions toward the silver dragon should he subdue her. Like Tulani before, however, it takes up a central position in the air, and waits for her to attack.
"She's a dragon now, and she'll start to act like one," Kaira explains. "That's the lesson: knowing how to recognize the dragon instincts, the rage and fury."
"And this will be permanent personality changes?" Alptraum asks next.
"Hopefully not," the blue dragon says. "Only in her dragon form will they start to manifest."
"Will I pick up any of these traits if I do fuse with that one shadow dragon?" Alptraum asks, looking a bit relieved that Tulani won't always be like that.
Tulani snorts loudly at the Steel dragons display, eyes narrowed… it was bigger, and faster, especially with her injured wing… The silver dragon began banking away from her opponent in a wide arc so as to keep him in her vision and not expose her back.
"Depends on the dragon," Kaira replies.
"Explain?" Alptraum asks. "And I would swear that big dragon is just Arkold in disguise."
"See? She's thinking still, instead of attacking immediately," Kaira notes. "She hasn't quite lost herself yet to the dragon half. And what I meant was, 'it depends'. The Shadow dragon you stalk is damaged and altered in odd ways."
The big dragon continues to taunt, exposing its vulnerable parts to Tulani and 'grinning' at her.
"Well, isn't it a good thing to think about it before just attacking?" Alptraum inquires curiously. "I mean, given the size difference it would be foolish to just charge."
"And is this really a battle, come to think of it, or a mating dance? That one above sure seems to have different intentions," Alptraum notes.
Kaira looks at Alptraum, and asks, "Have you been listening at all? I want her to act out of anger, without thinking. She needs to know that part of being a dragon. And Steel Dragons don't mate, technically. They capture and rape."
"Intimidated, little Ice Queen?" the big dragon rumbles, its voice blending well with the sounds of the storm. "Or simply… overcome?"
"I see," Alptraum remarks, "Lovely species." He rubs his neck, then adds, "And if it requires extra incentive, would putting me in danger help? You had mentioned sending me out there."
Tulani was trying to suppress that little red flag waving in the back of her mind until that little comment, with clap the silver dragons wings snapped back and almost closed as she simply dove with a screech "I'm not impressed!", intent on driving her claws into his belly.
"Well, I hoped she'd be worked up enough to attack even if you were being held hostage," Kaira admits.
"Well, it's not like I can really be physically harmed in here, right?" Alptraum asks next as he watches Tulani launch herself at her opponent.
Tulani's claws rake across the steel dragon's belly scutes, but only manage to raise a few sparks. The big male, however, is able to grab Tulani by the back of the neck and throw her towards one of the deadly peaks! Even with her injured wing, though, the silver dragon is able to recover enough to avoid getting impaled. The impact knocks the breath out of her, however.
Alptraum actually cringes and steps back. "Gods," he says, "That had to hurt." His wings twitch irritably. "I want to help her," he admits. "I know this her training, but … she's a friend."
The steel dragon spins in place and inflates his own throat, which distends quite a bit more than Tulani's did earlier. Instead of a lance of flame, however, the dragon blasts out a ball of fire, which expands as it goes. The blast hits Tulani, and the force of the shockwave smashes her back against the peak again!
"Okay, now you might want to try and help her," Kaira admits.
The silver dragon hisses loudly and staggers as the breath is knocked out of her for a second time, blinking and shaking her head as her vision doubles.
The big male swoops in, and leisurely scoops up Tulani in his talons. "Since you've taken out my previous playmate, I am going to take my pleasure with you before eating you alive, I think," he rumbles to the dazed dragoness.
Alptraum needs no further encouragement. He takes off in a run and leaps into the air. He arcs upward, then his wings fold in and he dives right towards the large male. The air around his form shimmers and ripples as he starts to draw forth the Barsunala form, at least a bit, in hopes that it will boost his ability to fight. While the dragon is distracted, Alptraum's claws spread on his feet and he targets one area that will hopefully not be armored … the dragon's eye.
Though winded and still not entirely able to see straight, Tulani still attempts to claw and bite the male Steel Dragon.
The big dragon has his hands full, certainly, as Tulani struggles. He does spot Alptraum however, and simply closes his eye to protect it. This would have worked, too, if the Barsunala's claws didn't just pass through the armored lid like ghosts to strike at their intended target. The steel dragon screams, and lets Tulani drop as he tries to escape the demon attacking his face.
Tulani manages to spread her wings as she is dropped, head weaving slightly as she catches her breath and redirects herself for the steel dragons underside with her claws, growling.
"Surprise," Alptraum hisses triumphantly. He almost lets go … then thinks of something. If the steel dragons consume souls … would it be possible for Alptraum to use himself as a straw in a balloon and effectively try to drain out whatever this one may yet contain in hopes of weakening it. Not absorb, of course … merely act as a pass through. So … before he tries to push away from the dragon … he tries to feel into the dragon and see if such is even remotely possible. The side effect is, of course, Alptraum's physical form shifts further; the Eeee becoming once more, more wraithlike in appearance.
Whatever souls the dragon may have had in life, it's empty now. Vorgulremik must have drained it when he first devoured it.
Finding the dragon empty, Alptraum growls. Still, he doesn't let go; he starts flexing his foot claws while they remain buried in its eye. "Fine, I'll just be obnoxious, then."
While the Eeee distracts the large male dragon, Tulani strikes straight for its underbelly and what he had been 'showing off' earlier. Digging her claws in the Silver dragon tears at his torso savagely roaring, "You shouldn't flaunt it if you don't want to risk loosing it!"
The steel dragon roars in pain and anger and begins lashing out blindly and losing altitude!
As the silver dragon pulls back from the larger males flailing attempts to hit something, anything, her throat begins to inflate, following as it descends, loosing altitude. Mist starts to issue from Tulani's nostrils before opening her mouth to send a wave of frost stabbing down at the Steel dragon.
Alptraum feels the wave of cold coming moments before it hits. "Kaira better appreciate this," he things grimly, ears folding back and eyes clenching shut the moment the wave hits the dragon … and him. If you had asked Alptraum what was the coldest he's ever been, before now he would have said in the Sea of Souls. This moment makes the Sea pale in comparison. Pure icy pain tears through the wraith as he clings. His already tattered wings start to ice up, the sheer amount of surface area gathering more and more weight quickly. While the dragon he clings to snarls in pain from the chill, it isn't near the sound that comes from the Eeee; A howling echo of pain follows as the large bones jutting from his back snap, then crack as his wings tear away, leaving just tatters of skin hanging from his back. Through the haze, he isn't even aware his claws slip from the steel dragon's eye and the Eeee plummets downward in a broken icy mess.
Alptraum and the dragon both vanish as the lower cloud layer swallows them up.
Tulani circles downwards as the two bodies fall, eyes trained on her former opponent with a look of satisfaction as she watches the steel dragons descent before a noise makes itself apparent, a howl buzzing through her chill mind and wiping away some of the red fury staining it. Closing her wings the silver dragon dives downwards, looking for the other body, though not entirely sure what she is looking for.
The clouds swallow up the silver dragon… and Tulani finds herself suddenly falling towards a pile of pillows on a bright green lawn. Her wounds are gone, along with her dragon body she's back to her normal winged-feline form and attire now. Which is a good thing, since Alptraum is already in the pillow pile and she's about to fall on top of him.
Still recovering from the rather unpleasant experience Alptraum just went through, his entire ability to respond to a feline falling down towards him is to say, "Aw, dagh."
Blinking in surprise, Tulani falls awkwardly on top of Alptraum ending up in a pile of Sphynx, her face ends up in a pillow near the Eeee's shoulder and her wings go askew over the top of them both.
After a rather loud grunt from the impact, Alptraum wheezes, "I think you've put on weight."
"Well, that didn't go as planned, exactly," Kaira says from the edge of the pillows. Behind is her garden, a spot both Tulani and Alptraum have visited before. "You beat the enemy, which probably means you feel a bit smug, but you at least managed to kill a friend accidentally, which should make up for that."
"Gee… thanks… " Tulani mumbles to the Eeee through a facefull of pillow, propping herself up and rolling off of him to sit up, rubbing her temples with both hands…
Alptraum rolls himself upright too and does check himself over to make sure he's mostly intact. Wearily looking at Kaira, he can't help but comment, "The things I do for dragon women." To Tulani, he notes, "You need to target better. I was on the dragon. It's why he let go of you back there."
"No, she needs to not be blinded by draconic rage," Kaira corrects Alptraum.
"Sorry… I didn't really notice that you were there honestly… " Tulani replies tensely to Alptraum while still rubbing her head, she really doesn't look like she wants to talk about that. Her wings start to flex slowly, as though working out some kinks… "If I didn't think that was a necessary lesson… I'd probably smack you for that last comment." she adds in a quiet voice to Kaira.
"You'll get your chance in combat training," Kaira notes. "But it was an important lesson. The most important one, in fact." The dragon raises a finger in emphasis. "Will you now be able to recognize when your rage is about to overcome your sensibilities, Tulani?"
"Eh, I expected something bad to happen if I went out there. I'm here to help, such as I can," Alptraum notes as he gets off the pillows and stretches out both wings and arms. "I'm the proverbial punching bag for women, it seems. Don't worry, I'll expect some sort of payment later." He grins a bit fangily.
"I certainly hope I'll be able to recognize it… I'd rather not reenact that again… " The Sphynx says simply to Kaira , pinching the bridge of her nose for a minute, before abruptly turning around to hug Alptraum tightly.
"Buh," goes Alptraum as he's hugged while his arms and wings are still sticking out in mid-stretch.
Tulani doesn't look like she's going to let go soon… "I'm sorry… " she mumbles at Alptraum.
"You'll need to practice a bit, Tulani, but mostly in here," Kaira goes on. "I can always find warriors willing to fight a dragon in here, after all, and it doesn't matter if anyone gets killed."
"It's all right," Alptraum tells the sphynx and finally hugs her back. "It was better to do it in here than outside where the outcome isn't fixable. Granted, it hurt in ways I've never felt before, but hey, look on the bright side."
"You're still here… and I learned something… that's the bright side" The Sphynx says slowly, "That could have been very… very bad… it gives me a headache thinking about it… " She finally releases Alptraum one hand going back to unconsciously rubbing her temple as she turns to Kaira, "Oh… I'm sure there are, I'll be quite… willing to practice. You only grow through practice."
Kaira nods, then looks to Alptraum. "You'll need to help her practice her transformations with the Light. Especially her reentry: nobody wants to see a wet, naked, shivering cat."
"You forgot one more thing," Alptraum comments and nudges the sphynx. "You're apparently a looker as a dragon given the reaction of your opponent," he says and grins widely. Of course, he also moves to the side a bit in case she tries to hit him. At the comment about a wet and naked cat, he has to say, "Well, I can think of one person who would and his name begins with an 'Ar'. But okay, I assume helping her transform is similar to the transference I did earlier."
Kaira just shrugs. "I've no idea if you can help at all, really, beyond being ready with a big towel. But if you can feel what's going on somehow, you might be able to advise her on gaining better control. She can't keep ruining her clothes, it's embarrassing."
The Sphynx winces slightly at Alptraum's reminder of her opponent… she does not, however, make any attempt to hit the Eeee… "Yes, its quite embarrassing, and cold too as well as wet." Flopping back on the pillow pile, Tulani tries to relax a bit.
"All right. I'll have to be around her when she transforms then and see if I can make any sense of it. If it's a matter of just water, then the shift back might be assisted by if she could keep some of the energy just against her fur to try and dissipate off the water, perhaps," Alptraum suggests, then shrugs slightly. "Anything I should be aware of to make sure she does or doesn't do?"
"Don't let her eat you," Kaira advises. "And make sure she has lots of room and there isn't anything fragile nearby. Oh, wear warm clothing too."
"Would she try to eat me?" Alptraum has to ask.
"Why are you asking me, she's right next to you?" Kaira replies.
"Would you try to eat me?" Alptraum asks Tulani.
"Come to think of it, would you try to eat me?" Alptraum asks Kaira.
"Silly question, as I don't have any biological needs," the blue dragoness points out.
"If you did, would you?" Alptraum asks, pressing the question … though grinning.
Tulani just looks out of the corner of her eyes at Alptraum but doesn't say anything right away… After a moment of tense silence she smiles slightly, "Your too skinny and stringy, I don't think I'd try to eat you." she says weakly in an attempted joking manner, though there's something in her voice that hints that she does not necessarily have complete confidence in that at the moment.
"Your kind looks a bit too crunchy," Kaira admits. "All those hollow bones… eh. You'd need to be a soup I think."
Alptraum just shakes his head. "It's as I worried, even back as a sphynx she's talking like you, Kaira," he teases Tulani.
"She did say she wanted to improve herself, so that's hardly surprising," the dragon responds.
Tulani smiles a bit more about being teased and pokes Alptraum playfully in the chest.
Alptraum oofs and rolls his eyes. "Well, after a rather unusual evening with two dragons I have a date wit a third. Well, sort of a date. I'm not really sure," he admits, "So, I need to bathe, brush out my hair, and try to look somewhat respectable to recover from how she last saw me. Geh, she would have to walk in after that."
The Sphynx chuckles at the Eeee's mention of his 'date' "I think you'll make another good impression, you clean up very well … And I think I need a small catnap after all that… " she rolls her eyes, "Maybe I can actually get some restful sleep."