The storm has abated to a mere drizzle by the time Alptraum and Phlagaea make it to the crater that was first a tomb and then a dragon's lair. A thick layer of muddy water fills the bottom, and comes nearly halfway up the side of the sarcophagus at the center. The stone lid is still slightly pushed aside to leave a small gap open to the elements. It's a bit after midnight, and the sky is pitch-black because of the clouds.
Alptraum's wings snap in and he dives down into the pit, alighting in the murky water near the sarcophagus. Once there he starts to walk slowly around the stone box. His expression is intense, yet calm, has he peers over the structure. "Now, the heart would likely be positioned in the 'chest' of the box, I would think. But how? Hmmm," he thinks.
Phlagaea lands atop the coffin itself, not wanting to get her bandages totally mucky. "Do we need to move the top slab off?" she asks, sounding concerned. It's an awfully heavy looking piece of stone, after all.
"Hopefully not," Alptraum replies and rubs his chin. "I also hope I don't have to climb inside. That is just … creepy. Do you see anything that looks like the torso of a dragon on it?"
After chanting a prayer to Gorphat, Phlagaea's hands light up with a spectral green glow. She uses this to examine what's showing of the sarcophagus. "Weird runes and pictographs and what might a dragon's face on this one end. Can't tell if it's the head or the foot of the coffin though."
"Hold firm on it. I'll try to move it a bit more to open it," Alptraum says as he places his hands upon the cold and wet surface. His foot talons grip into the rubble beneath them and waits for Phlagaea to get a grip before pushing.
The green Eeee kneels down and grabs onto the corners of the slab. "We should have picked up a prying bar," she laments.
"Gnnnngh," goes Alptraum as his muscles tense and lock when the bat starts pushing.
The water and mud add a little bit of lubrication, but not much in terms of offsetting Alptraum's own hold on the submerged dais. The slab creaks and complains, but eventually lurches open a few more inches.
"Blegh," Alptraum mutters as he stops pushing. He takes a moment to recover, then tries to peer inside without sticking anything into the box … yet.
Under Phlagaea's ghastly green light, a few interior details show themselves. Like the outside, the inside of the sarcophagus is covered in strange symbols. The bottom has a layer of dust now damp dust from the rain but there are hints of more symbols being covered up. By looking in at an extreme angle with the light held just right, a small hump can be made out in the center of the coffin.
"Well, there's something in there. Let'ssee what this is," Alptraum says. He sticks his already messed up hand … and now the rest of his arm, into the opening of the sarcophagus. He stretches as much as he can, trying to reach the small hump.
Reaching from a corner to the center isn't too uncomfortable. The gooey dust clings like paste to Alptraum's exposed fur (and now scales too) until his fingers brush against something cold and metallic. Groping around suggests that some vaguely oval is secured to a depression in the stone by iron bands. There are even some iron bolts that hold them in place.
"Bah, it's bolted in. That must be how they kept the Shadow in place. So … if I released it back, it would probably just return to this spot in the sarcophagus," Alptraum says. His fingers play around the bands, trying to see if he can work loose the bolts any or not.
With a bit of effort, a crust of rust breaks free and crumbles in Alptraum's hand.
"Huh," Alptraum says as he keeps working on the bands with his claws and fingertips. He glances up to Phlagaea and says, "Well, on the good side is I'm not having to stick my arm into the shadow to do this."
"Want me to look for a tree branch or something to help lever the top off with?" Phlagaea asks.
"Might help, yes. It'll need to be pretty stout," Alptraum says with a short nod.
The priestess nods and launches herself into the air, flapping hard to clear the edge of the deep crater. Once she passes over the rim, Alptraum is left in darkness again.
"Good thing I don't mind the dark," Alptraum says to himself as he keeps working on those iron bands. "Hmm, perhaps I should shift so I can at least see the auras of anything that might approach."
It's not long after that thought that the eerie, cold, feeling ripples over his body. what site he had vanishes, only to be replaced by the monochromatic world as seen through his 'blind' eyes. The familiar wing-tears also flow down his wings, the flesh splitting apart like so many streamers of skin. "That always feels odd," he mutters with a rasp, "Even for an illusion."
The world takes on shades of silver again, the walls of the pit and the muddy water fading away to mere black smudges. Only the white stone of the sarcophagus shines a dull silver here, with one particular spot on the side of the top slab shining a bit brighter than the rest.
"Eh?" Alptraum muses when he sees the shining spot. He draws his hand from the sacrophagus (and can't help but look at it), before going over to the shining spot to inspect it closer.
The dragon-shaped parts of his hand shine through wraith illusion with a dull red glow. The spot on the stone lid doesn't appear any different from any other part of the edge: there are not symbols or markings to draw attention to it.
Alptraum starts to feel over that spot on the lid, dragging his claws along to see if they catch on any seams or if the material feels different. "How very strange," he muses, "Why would this be any different?"
It doesn't feel any different, but when pressure is applied to it the entire lid shifts easily, like it was counterbalanced.
"Heh," Alptraum says and grips that point. He starts to push on it more and more, trying to open the sarcophagus enough to climb in and reach the bound object. "I wonder how they managed this."
The stone slides smoothly until it's only half-covering the coffin, and then it stops and begins to tilt upwards. Whether it would have then opened up like a hinged door may never be known, though, since Phlagaea lands on the overhanging edge carrying a thick branch. The weight is enough to topple the stone it makes a big splash in the water, and a few feet further out the Yodhgorphat makes a splash of her own.
"Gah, Phlagaea!" Alptraum (still in shifted form), calls out. He splashes through the water over to the green Eeee and tries to help her up.
Phlagaea uses the branch to help herself up, and then eeks and nearly falls over again when Alptraum rushes towards her. Her now wet bandages sag, so that more of her face is exposed. "Alptraum!" she snaps. "You frightened me!"
Alptraum winces and immediately lets the illusion fall away. "Sorry, I was trying to see while you were gone. I saw a point on the lid and I pushed it. It moved … and then you came and landed on it," he apologizes. "I'll make it up to you."
With a sigh, the priestess says, "Oh, I forgive you. But you can wash out my bandages later." She looks at the open sarcophagus then, and starts wading towards it to shine her mage-light into it.
"I'll wash you later too if you want," Alptraum offers the green Eeee. He follows along and peers in as well.
The center is more exposed now. The thin iron bands form a criss-cross over a fist-sized, egg-shaped crystal. Unlike the Shadow's description of it 'glowing' however, it almost completely black fading from merely smoky at the surface, so that the core is blackest. A few cracks and flaws mar the facets where the iron presses against the gem.
"Well, Kaira did say it was damaged. It would make sense that the heart is damaged too. Perhaps it is undead, even, what with it being black," Alptraum says as he climbs into the sarcophagus now. He crouches down and starts working on the iron bands again. He uses one of his chitin daggers to dig at the bolts and see if he can get it to loosen up. He can't help at one point to pause and place a fingertip on the crystal to feel it out of curiosity.
The crystal is as cold as the metal and stone. Whatever life it once it held, it's been gone for some time. Picking the bolts does loosen up one of the heads, although not by much. "Well, if you get it out… uh… how exactly do you bring it into the dagger?" Phlagaea asks. "I mean, even when you go inside you're still physically here."
"I'll have to bring the Shadow back out," Alptraum answers and keeps on working … hoping he can get one side out and just slide the bands off somehow, "But I'm not doing that until I am sure I can control it … which means locating someone to help me translate the inscription on the torc. Otherwise, well, I'm not sure I can do much with the shadow at all. It is immensely powerful."
"Who can translate it?" Phlagaea asks. "A Yodhsunala?"
"Another immortal," Alptraum answers, "I'll have to get one to 'ride' out with me and we would act as a team in one body. The question is … what immortal could I trust?"
"Didn't Kaira says that you can't trust any of them?" Phlagaea points out. "You'd never know when they'd betray you. You'd almost be better off with one you knew would betray you, so that you wouldn't have to always be wondering."
"Heh, that's not a bad idea," Alptraum notes, then tilts his head. "And … I have an idea. I could prime the knife so you could use is … and if the immortal went bad, well, I could have you draw it out of me. You'd just, uh, well, have to stab me a little bit. And the only one I'm certain would betray me right now is Vorg himself … but I don't DARE try to bring him out."
"How many do you know in there?" the green bat asks. "Assuming any you knew are left after you let half of them out! And Kaira can't read the inscription either?"
"Kaira isn't an immortal. She's a reflection of one and not complete. So, no, she can't. Plus, I can't bring her out," Alptraum explains with a small shrug. "And there should be, oh, about what, four billion left in there, give or take? Kaira said she sent out half. If she had sent out all, she would have undone Vorg and it would have all been over."
"What about the Shadow then?" Phlagaea asks, grasping at the only straw left. "It could read it, right? Or give you the knowledge or something?"
"Well, it might be able to give me the knowledge of how to. But I don't see why it would," Alptraum points out. "That would mean I would have to let it merge with me and take over a bit. Which is … dangerous. Maybe I could trick it into teaching me how to read the inscriptions, but … " He sighs and shakes his head, asking, "If I merged with it and things went very badly … someone would have to be ready to kill me."
"If it's really undead, won't it be repelled?" the priestess asks. "Maybe you should bring it back to the wizards in Draco Castle. Is there a problem with leaving it in the dagger?"
"Yes. It will destroy those still in the dagger by turning them into monsters," Alptraum answers and sighs … still picking at the bands. "But yes, you're right in that it might be repelled too. I'm just not sure. Right now I just want to get the heart free, then dive back in and see if anyone is willing to help me."
Phlagaea pokes at the rusty metal. "Are you going to tell it that it's dead, or does it already know?" she asks.
"Right now I'm basically trying to do … how is called, 'damage control'. If I can calm the Shadow for a bit, it will buy me time to work out a cleaner solution," Alptraum says. His brow arches a bit, then says, "I think it already knows, but I will have to tell it eventually anyway. I need to somehow get it to trust me." He now tries to wedge the chitin blade under the bolt head and pry it up more with careful lifts of the dagger.
The limestone around the bolt begins to crumble, letting the dagger prize the bolt out almost a full inch. The metal band follows the bolt head, leaving a gap now. If a second bolt could be loosened similarly, it might be possible to squeeze the crystal out through the gap.
"I somehow get myself into these situations," Alptraum mutters as his attention shifts to the second bolt. "All this to help others. I mean, I could have just left the shadow here, moved on, and been perfectly healthy. But no, I had to help."
"Death never leaves well enough alone," Phlagaea notes with a bit of a grin. "Why should her son?"
"She also doesn't get her body mutated by what she messes with," Alptraum counters … and grins anyway. The comment at least makes him feel a bit better. "I think, also, I could just destroy the Shadow with this crystal if I shattered it. But … that's last resort. We need this Shadow for the survival of Draco County."
The second bolt comes up a little big faster, and soon the crystal is loose within its metal cage.
Alptraum now carefully tries to slip the crystal out from under the bands. He doesn't force it if it doesn't look like it'll come out fairly easily … not with the damage the crystal already has. "I also wonder … if the Light could repair this heart… " he muses.
It takes some more tugging on the bands to open the gap, but then the crystal can be pushed out with the dagger. It feels lighter than it looks.
Alptraum works the crystal out and then holds it lightly in the palm of his hands. "Well, now it's time to head back and slip back into the knife. Can I ask you a favor while I dive inside? Can you locate Tulani and see if she would be willing to try and experiment with the light and this heart? I might be able to channel some energy back into it and repair it," he says.
"She might be hard to wake up, but I can try," Phlagaea promises, standing up getting ready to fly. "Right after I get out of these soggy bandages."
"I'll help you out of them. I have to wash them for you, anyway," Alptraum says with a nod as he puts the crystal safely away into his side pouch and spreads his wings. "Let'sgo."
It doesn't take long to find the Shadow again within the dagger, although it's moved some distance from where Alptraum left it. From above he can see it lashing out at crumbling stone wall. "So, did you find it?" asks the invisible voice of the steel dragon.
"I did, and it's dark and cracked," Alptraum explains a bit grimly as he circles over the shadow below. "I don't think it will be happy to hear that."
"Cracked?" Vorgulremik asks. "Describe to me how it was secured within the sarcophagus."
"Beneath two iron bands and bolted in place," Alptraum answers absently. "Presumably to keep the Shadow anchored to the sarcophagus. Has it said anything more since I left?"
"I can't hear it unless you are near enough to hear it also," the dragon says in Alptraum's head. "I see now that I was overly cautious. The Shadow is as useless to me as that soul-key you have. It's soul is dead, destroyed by Amenlichtli. I wonder if she knew she was doing it?"
"Heh, I figured you wanted it," Alptraum says grimly as he glides a bit lower towards the shadow, eying it warily, "And she probably did. From legend she was ruler of the undead. And … why do I have to be near it for you to to hear it? You make it sound like we're bound together."
"I wasn't about to approach it myself," Vorgulremik notes. "Why risk it in my weakened state, when you were willing to go to it instead?"
"For a dragon, you're a bit of a coward," Alptraum notes, "There are greater things in life than yourself. But I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on that, so I'm not saying any more on it." His ears focus down to the shadow and he calls out, "I located your heart! But … I need to talk to you about what I found. I think something is wrong."
The mass of darkness retracts its tentacles, and seems to 'face' Alptraum now. "You are not fey," it accuses. "You can lie, so do not think I will trust what you say without verification!"
Alptraum shakes his head. "I am not, but I do not know how I can prove that I am not lying. I found a crystal bound beneath two iron bands in the sarcophagus that contained you. But, instead of glowing, what I found was dark and slightly cracked," he calls out. "I think Amenlichtli did something horrible to it."
The dark mass shrinks in on itself as if cowering. "That… cannot… " it hisses like a feline. Then it seems to go very still and quiet.
"But, I have the ability to control the flow of energy from the Light. I was going to see if by channeling it carefully into the crystal I could repair it. Is there any hope for that to work?" Alptraum asks. "I really do want to help."
"It's just a spirit, like your Barsunala," Vorgulremik comments. "It's soul is gone, and it has no body. Not undead, just bound, but still a spirit of the dead. You have power over it."
"Iron!" the Shadow wails, and seems to ripple and bulge. "Why? She had my pact… why destroy me? I am as nothing now!"
"That seems too convenient," Alptraum whispers as he circles over the Shadow beneath him. "You're saying I could manipulate it as I can any spirit of the dead?" To the Shadow, he calls down, "What if your pact could be recovered? Could that aid you?"
"I remember the Light," the Shadow says after some silence. "So bright, so desirable… but it cannot help me. What is life without a soul? I have been a puppet, nothing more. A monster, a thing, a toy! The pact is meaningless now. Everything is meaningless!"
"Could you not live life again as part of another; to bind as part of their soul?" Alptraum calls out. His ears cant a bit and he honestly feels sorry for the Shadow and what was done to it." After a moment of thought, he then asks, "May I land near you safely? Will you not attack me?"
The Shadow hasn't moved since the beginning of the conversation. "I will not attack you," it says, a bit hollowly. "You speak of a new pact. To exist… to exist… it would hurt. To what point?"
Alptraum glides down slowly towards the shadow, ready to veer off at any moment should it move. Once his feet touch the ground, his wings fold in. "Another of your kind shares a union with a woman not far from here. It has been a tradition in their family, one that may soon end. Because of their union, she cannot bear children … and only those of that bloodline can continue the bond. So, when she passes on, the link ends for that Shadow Dragon. If you were joined to a male, then it would be possible for her to have a family. It would also mean you could live on through that bloodline as well. It is not the freedom you had hoped for, I am certain, but it is a chance to exist as part of someone. Perhaps even to feel and be part of the Light again."
"Another," the Shadow whispers. "I remember… I remember the others. We were Exiles, sent to watch, to make sure the defeated did not escape this prison. I remember the others. I will make a new pact with you to help the other."
"What must be done to form a new pact?" Alptraum asks as he watches the Shadow with a mixture of sadness and wariness. "I know that with the other, the pact is represented by a device called a torc with an inscription on it. I found something similar in Amenlichtli's tomb. I am guessing that one must have been yours."
"Mine… but my soul is gone," the Shadow says. "A key without a lock, it is not needed now. It will only remind me of what I have lost. We will say the Words." The dark, formless dragon rises up then, forming a tapered pillar of darkness. Then it chants, in a language that Alptraum doesn't know, but still understands, "We will form the Pact. Give unto me everything you possess. That body, down to the last strand of hair and the last drop of blood. That pure, clean soul. Give unto me everything you possess."
"Uhm," Alptraum says, sounding very nervous right about now. "What will the pact do?" he has to ask before he speaks any of those words. "I'm not sure I'm ready for this. I need to understand what will happen… "
"You will gain my power and my vitality," the Shadow explains. "All that I have left."
"And what will happen to you?" Alptraum asks next, trying to not sound scared as he feels right now.
"I will vanish," the Shadow says. "My memories, my knowledge, all that I once was will fade away. To keep my mind would mean only pain for me. I am dead, I will join the dead. You will be my legacy."
"Okay," Alptraum says next with a small nod, "When I contacted you earlier, you altered my right hand. Will that be undone?"
"If you will it to be so, yes," the Shadow claims.
Thinking on something else Kaira said about binding it to the Barsunala spirit instead of directly to himself, Alptraum ponders if he could accomplish such if he shifted while the pact was concluding. "What must I say, then? Repeat the words you utter?" he asks.
"Reply to them in kind. Offer me all that you possess. Open yourself to me," the Shadow says. It begins to sprout limbs near its top, which keep on branching, until it looks like a squat, black denuded tree.
Alptraum nods his head and swallows. It actually takes him a few moments to bring up the courage to speak them. He tries to reply in kind to the words, "We will form the Pact. I offer you all that I possess, all that I am, as the Barsunala of legend. My body, my blood, my very hair is open to you and my spirit of the Barsunala. I offer you all that I am so that we may become something greater than we are apart." He then steps forwards towards the shadow and reaches out with his left hand to touch the Shadow (out of fear that with the Vorg infected right … may make things too easy for the steel dragon.).
The branches bend down and begin to close on the offered hand. Their touch is chilling. "I offer you all that I possess," the Shadow recites. "My vitality, so that you may live long." There is a pulse as the Shadow begins to flow into Alptraum, chilling him further. "My power over flesh, and the knowledge to use it," comes the next promise, and more of the Shadow flows forward. "My spirit, my wisdom, for the time it will remain. This is our Pact." And with that, the Shadow is gone, and the chill begins to fade.
Alptraum's fingers close around the branch as it closes around his. "I accept that which you offer and welcome your spirit as part of me." The Eeee replies as the chill flows through his body, "I will use your knowledge for the continuation of the line and the protection of the other. May you find peace and contentment now." And when the Shadow is gone, Alptraum lowers his left hand and flexes it slowly. Having expected a much worse experience than that from what he heard about what Rosalind went through … he is a bit dumbfounded.
"You should thank me for weakening it so," the voice of Vorgulremik says. Not in Alptraum's head this time, but behind him. "I surrounded the sarcophagus with iron for a reason, after all."
"So, you killed it ultimately," Alptraum remarks calmly. He slowly turns around to face the steel dragon.
"Held it at bay, forced it to retreat into its haven," the steel dragon says, looking very much the same as he did when Alptraum last saw him alive. "It had no soul for me to devour, but I couldn't just ignore such a powerful lure, now could I? And in the end, I did benefit from it, if not in a precisely direct way."
"Benefit how?" Alptraum inquires, eyes narrowing in worry.
"You will live a long time, Alptraum," Vorgulremik says, grinning his dragon grin. "There is no rush to empty the rest of the souls, and plenty of time for me to convince you to spare me. After all, if you die then Kaira will simply snuff out all that remain here along with me."
"Would she?" Alptraum says with an arch of his brow, "I understood it as she would never end you as long as there were others still trapped, with, or without me." He raises his deformed, dragon-headed hand and looks at it. Brow knitted in concentration, he tries to force it to return to as close to normal as he can manage. Even scales he could live with … but the dragon bits gross out … well … others.
The knowledge is there, burning like a sun in Alptraum's mind. The hand returns to normal, but the knowledge seems to a dim slightly afterwards. The Shadow did say its knowledge and memories would fade in time.
"With you gone, what hope would there be for freeing the rest?" Vorgulremik says, turning to start walking back along the trail left by the Shadow. "I've already escaped once before. While she might make mistakes, she is unlikely to repeat a past one."
Alptraum flexes his fingers slowly, glad to have them back. He figured that over time he would forget how to do such, and that is a fair loss. Such power would be dangerous to wield over time. "I do have to wonder as to how you will try to convince me to show you mercy that you would have never shown anyone else," Alptraum comments to the steel dragon, then follows after him as he has to go to Kaira anyway, afterall, and free her. "I know I have a kind heart am willing to offer many second chances, but even I have limits to that. Do not think I will be easy, or foolish. Kaira has instructed me on what are considered draconic virtues, so I have some understanding on how you think."
"The Shadow was responsible for many deaths and untold suffering on this world, yet you felt sorry for it," Vorgulremik points out, as the metallic-armored blue dragon comes into view. "And it showed no remorse or repentance, only sorrow for itself. In time, you might come to see me that way as well."
"I felt sorry for it, yes. I also understood it could still serve a greater good, which was worth the risk to try to save it. I do not see such with you," Alptraum points out. His wings then snap out and he launches skyward, gliding over to his blue, draconic, friend.
The steel dragon sidles up to Kaira's frozen flank, and asks, "Shall I wake her, or do you want to do it?"
"I'll do it," Alptraum says as he reaches out and presses the palms of his hands to her side. He closes the eyes and tries to find those memories again, and the power to release her from her prison.
The answer that comes from the Shadow's memories is a sure sign that all immortals share something of the same twisted sense of humor. To wake the sleeping princess, a kiss from a prince is all that is needed.
Alptraum's eyes open and he gets a rather … odd look on his face. "Right," he says, then pushes back into the air until he's level with her head. As ridiculous as it is, he then leans in and well … kisses Kaira. On the lips. Well, lip, probably, considering the size difference right now.
The world ripples, and the landscape seems to fade into the background as Kaira becomes more 'real' in response. She blinks and looks around, noticing Vorgulremik and then focusing on Alptraum. "Should I even ask what's been going on?" she mutters, and then licks her lips.
"It was either I kiss you or Vorgulremik kiss you," Alptraum answers as he lands, "I figured you would prefer the lesser of two evils." He grins briefly, then shifts to a more serious tone, "And I owe you an apology for what happened to you. You were trying to help me and instead were hurt. I was … able to reason with what remained of the Shadow and well… " He rubs the back of his neck for a moment, then says, "And it and I are now one. Well, what power was left in it, that is."
"I'd like to take a closer look to make sure you're okay then," Kaira notes, and then pokes Vorgulremik with the tip of her sword. "And as for you… either pick up a broom and start cleaning up this mess, or get back into your cell. The steel dragon seems to consider these options for a few moments, and then vanishes with the sound of a metal door clanging shut.
"I figured you would. I'm actually in better condition than I was on one level. My arm isn't turning into a dragon anymore," Alptraum notes. He pauses and tilts his head a bit, ears canting to the side. "Do me a favor? Shrink down to the form you usually use when we talk in here? The more humanoid one?" he asks.
Kaira does more than that. The rubble vanishes to be replaced by a somewhat sterile white room. Alptraum wouldn't recognize a hospital examination room, or understand the odd charts or posters on the wall, but still manages to get the gist of it. Kaira is humanoid as well, wearing a white uniform with a funny folded hat on her head and a stethoscope around her neck. "Better?" she asks.
Alptraum decides on a particular way to answer that. He walks right up to the humanoid dragon, then drapes his arms over her shoulders. Not allowing any time to refuse, the Eeee pulls Kaira into a kiss … a real kiss this time. He holds it for as long as Karia doesn't actively try to push him away. When he does finally release her, he quirks a rather playful, fangy, grin and notes, "I thought you deserved a real kiss. Not that … well, it loses something when you can only kiss one lip."
Kaira blinks at this, and then smiles. "Wow. I guess I really need to thank your for coming back to unfreeze me," she says. "Your life would have been a lot simpler if you'd left me like that, after all."
"Simpler, yes. As enjoyable? No," the Eeee notes with a small shrug. "Anyway … so tell me, what does this examination involve? You don't have to dissect me or anything, right?" Alptraum asks as he can't help but glance at the anatomical drawings on the walls.
"Oh no, nothing like that," Kaira says, and turns to one of the counters covered with jars of sticks and fluffy balls and other things. "Just take your clothes off and lie on the table there."
Alptraum undresses fairly quickly and piles his clothing in the corner. He's used to doing this by now, it seems. He actually takes a moment to check himself over for anything that looks out of place or plain wrong before climbing up on the table, though.
"They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach," Kaira says, working at the counter. There's an elastic SNAP as she turns around, right hand held up and covered in a rubber glove. Her extended index finger is covered with something ominously slimy. "But when you want to check out the condition of his spirit, you really need to take a more surprising route… "
Alptraum's expression is … a mix of confusion, worry, then horror as he tries to think all the places she could be meaning. None of them are appealing and his ears actually play out. "Aw Dagh," he mutters, as his stomach sinks. This is going to be unpleasant…