The room looks the same as all the guest suits, a nicely furnished room with stone walls and hardwood floors. It also has a small fireplace and a large bed. There are a lot of green candles burning as well, giving the room a mint-tea sort of scent. Beyond is a bathroom that is rather cluttered jars and pots and small cauldrons full of stuff. Glowing fluids, overflowing molds and fungus, and something that seems to wiggle in a jar of slime stand out the boldest. It's no wonder the castle keepers decided to give Phlagaea some lab space.
For whatever reason, Alptraum tends to sleep exceptionally well when sharing a bed with Phlagaea. So it comes as a mild surprise to be nudged awake by an insistent hand. "Wake up, Alptraum," Mave's voice urges. "It's time to test the fertility potion."
"What, test the potion?" Alptraum mumbles sleepily and waves his right hand weakly at Mave, the chitinous covering on its back bumping her arm lightly. Due to the natural numbness of the shell, all he feels is some slight pressure against his forearm. It takes his mind a bit to register just what Mave is talking about, but when it does, his eyes slowly crack open and he struggles to sit up. He takes a quick look around for Phlagaea.
The Yodhgorphat is also stirring reluctantly, muttering something unintelligible. "We need to know that it works," Mave is explaining. Next to her is a rolling cart covered with bottles some containing red fluid and the rest clear and a stack of towels. "Phlagaea is the ideal test subject, since her condition is similar to that of the Countess."
Alptraum now struggles upright. Blinking a few times, he asks, "You wish me to impregnate her?" he asks, memory drifting back to the night Phlagaea attempted a ritual to do just that, become pregnant. He rubs his eyes a few times to clear them, then yawns. "What do you need me to do?" he asks, "Does it require me to shift to green for her again, or is it simpler?"
"Drink this first," Mave says, holding out a bottle of blood. "The whole bottle. It has some extra vitamins and minerals you are going to need."
Alptraum takes the bottle in his right hand. But before drinking it, he sniffs it lightly to see if it smells normal.
Phlagaea rubs at her eyes, and asks, "What time is it?" The blood smells mildly spiced but is otherwise fresh.
"A little before dawn," Mave tells the other Yodh. "We need to start early, just in case the effects last longer than the twelve hours I think they will. Drink this." The Yodhinala hands Phlagaea a bottle of her own, filled with something that isn't blood but likely is meant to be nutritious.
Alptraum slips the lip of the bottle in his mouth, using tongue and fang, he grips it securely and just stilts his head back and drinks down the blood in several long gulps. His left thumb idly rubs against the palm of his right hand, feeling the very faint double-ridges of the small scar left where his necromantic infection was cut free. When he swallows the last gulp of blood, he shakes his head side to side a few times to ensure he got it all. The Eee then blows hard and pushes with his tongue, tossing the bottle up into the air. He catches it in his hands then offers it to Mave, grinning. "My compliments to the bleeder," he teases.
"Show off," Mave says, setting the bottle into a sack. There must be half a dozen more red ones on her cart though. "Drink it all, Phlagaea," she tells the green Eeee. "Never mind what it tastes like."
"If you want me to really show off, let me bite you some time," Alptraum teases further and snaps his teeth at the white Eeee. He also can't help but try to lean over and get a sniff of what Phlagaea is about to drink.
Phlagaea takes longer than Alptraum to finish off her bottle, since she's not used to an all-liquid diet. "Ugh. Liquid bug-juice. It's not the same without the crunchiness," she complains.
"You can always try blood some time," Alptraum teases the green Eeee and bumps his nose against her cheek.
"Now this," Mave tells Phlagaea, taking the empty bottle and handing her a glass with a small amount of clear liquid in it. Phlagaea sniffs it, gives Alptraum a playful bat on the nose, and says to Mave, "This is the same stuff you gave us in the tower. It didn't work then."
"This is much more… potent," Mave notes. "Now drink it down; you need to have it working before Alptraum drinks his."
Alptraum rubs his nose. "Do I need to drink some … " he starts to ask, then gets his answer. "Is that the stuff that smells like a woman's … er, well."
"It does?" Phlagaea asks, after she's already drunk it down. "I didn't know… oooo… " The Eeee's eyes go a bit unfocused, and she says, "It makes me feel warm and tingly."
Mave sits on the edge of the bed now, and says to Alptraum, "Give her another minute, then drink your own dose." She then hands him a glass with the same amount of potion in it. "And try not to grab me, as much as you will likely be tempted to."
"That seems to cause a bit more of a reaction than the batch from the tower did," Alptraum comments as he watches Phlagaea, half afraid, half curious. He nods Absently to Mave's instruction as he takes the flask. He raises it to his nose and inhales deeply, testing if it does indeed smell the same as he remembers.
The scent hasn't changed in any noticeable way, although it has been awhile since that first time. But even the scent seems to make Alptraum slightly light-headed.
Alptraum counts away the time slowly, giving Phlagaea her minute as well as watching her for reactions. When the time elapses he tentatively raises the vial to his lips and tilts it back. This time he doesn't gulp it down, but lets it trickle back over his tongue before he swallows.
There is a warm tingly sensation that spreads through his body, much as Phlagaea mentioned. But then things start to get weird. Everything takes on a dream-like quality, as if Alptraum were only half-awake. Phlagaea begins to fill his senses fully, until everything else just fades into the background. It also becomes harder to think, as his mind succumbs to a purely animal urge.
A ripple rolls up Alptraum's back visibly as the fur puffs and sicks up when the potion begins to take effect. His head tilts slightly and he draws in a slow hiss of air as his own eyes dilate and go unfocused. "Well," he half rumbles, half growls as the ability to think fades further away from him. Those unfocused eyes roll to the Green Eeee next to him and his lips draw back in a predatory smile. In this strange dreamlike state, the woman next to him must be his. And in a move normally only associated to a more feral state when hunting, Alptraum rolls to his side, then pins Phlagaea back down onto the bed.
For the next several hours, Alptraum is lost to a world that is mostly green and undulating like the ocean. There is little sense of time passing, save for the ghostly sensations of fatigue and the moments when a white blob pours blood or water down his throat. But otherwise nothing intrudes on his efforts to become one with the green sea. At least, not until those ghostly sensations start to become more noticeable, as the dream-like state frays at the edges to let reality intrude. When his head clears, that reality falls like a load of bricks onto his back.
"Gods," Alptraum murmurs with a hoarse voice, sounding as if he has been exercising for days. Everything feels exhausted and weary, everything feels spent. Even his fur feels tired. His blinks those silver eyes of his as he tries to bring them back to focus on the now. "That was incredible… "
Mave is there with a towel, trying to keep the two Eeee from sticking together. Phlagaea just quivers and moans (and is probably fused to the sheets as well) while Mave makes them both drink more water. "Hmmm, sixteen hours," the Yodhinala mutters. "But… neither of you died… so I can consider it a good batch. You'll probably sleep now for about thirty-two to forty-eight hours."
Alptraum's arms literally shake as he pushes himself upright. "How many times did we … ?" he asks weakly when he finally gets himself upright and sees the state of his body and hers. "And sixteen hours? If this was potentially fatal, why did you risk it?"" he asks. Normally, he would sounds mad … but right now he looks like he just wants to pass out. The glass of water he tries to drink he spills as much as he actually gets down his throat given how tired his arms and hands are.
"I've never known it to go more than twelve hours before," Mave notes. "Maybe having the dragon assist in the preparation made a difference." Phlagaea is still moaning a bit, but is also clearly not conscious at this point, despite the apparent twitching.
"I'll prepare some special vitamins for when you wake up," Mave says cheerfully. "You might be a bit sore, and it will likely hurt when you pee for awhile. It may cause you to feel like you've been kicked in the stomach, actually, but just remember that it is all for a good cause."
"You should try it yourself," Alptraum teases the Yodhinala and even makes a failed attempt to poke her with his fingers. His now empty bottle somehow makes it to the side table before Alptraum collapses back down into the bed, looking more dead than anything. Still, he reaches over with his right hand and lightly places it atop Phlagaea's stomach as he somehow manages to think, "I do hope it worked. I know how much you want a child." He looks like he wants to try to say something else to Mave, but his eyes actually roll back into his skull and sleep overtakes him like a hammer; the world fading to a comfortable black.
Roogi's Conquest Chamber
The room is fitting for a Yodhblakat, even though she had just laid claim to the quarters. It's a mish-mash of broken furniture and overturned chairs. On the far wall a regular bed has been ripped to shreds, making more of a nest than anything else now. The ceiling posts far above show several deep gouges, indicative of some rather lage-taloned feet having made roost here. The walls are in no better shape; they are cut and gouged in several places. Some look like they were made from swords; others from clawed hands. The brown stains splattered here and there (presumably blood), also add to overall feeling of chaos the room radiates.
Alptraum is sore. He also can't feel his right hand, and cracking his eyes open reveals that Roogi has passed out on it. The drunken Yodhblakat's heavy snores are what have roused Alptraum, despite the weariness left from the victory celebration's debauchery. And even debauchery takes on a whole new meaning when the Yodhblakat are involved.
"Wow. I could say the Yodhblakat are almost as fun as the Yodhinala," Alptraum murmurs to himself, "The clawing and biting was… " He lets that trail off as he slowly starts to sit up. Figuring Roogi fell asleep on his right hand, he reaches over to push her off of it and get the circulation back.
The Yodh growls dangerously in her sleep. While the Yodhblakat do not steal from each other officially, they apparently have still developed reflexes to the possibility that one of their sisters may be light fingered.
Alptraum stops pushing and instead tries to just ease his arm free from under her. Trying to placate the sleeping Yodhblakat while he extracts his arm, he leans over and whispers to her, "I am glad you took me. I could not ask for a more deserving owner… "
Roogi grunts something, and reaches down to grab Alptraum there, muttering, "Mine… " She does roll enough so that the black bat can get his arm free though.
Alptraum hisses softly as he's grabbed in a rather tender location. "Yours," he whispers in agreement as he finally slides his hand free. He doesn't look at it, though he does start tryng to flex and move his fingers to get the blood flowing again.
There is the expected pain of trying to wake up a sleeping limb, but it doesn't come with the expected sensation of moving muscles. The pain stops just above the elbow, and further down the rest of the arm feels like dead weight.
"Wow, how long were we asleep? Quite a while I imagine since we beat Dack and I captured the shadow and that was incredibly exhausting," Alptraum muses as he reaches over and rubs his arm above the elbow. Finally, he tilts his head to the side and tries to bring up his right hand; tries to force the muscles to work even a little.
Dead, gray fur clings to a few strips of hanging skin, the rest having sloughed off when the arm was pulled out from under Roogi. What's left is bare, withered flesh with the muscles and tendons standing out in stark relief. The only sign of life in the limb is an odd, erratic throbbing motion near the elbow. Beyond that joint, the skin begins to look healthier, and a band of gray fur separates it from the rest of the upper arm and also marks the extent of sensation that Alptraum can feel. The fingers curl into emaciated talons no matter what he tries to make them do.
Alptraum's muzzle clamps down to stifle what was about to be a scream of horror. Shaking, the Eeee begins easing himself our of the bed. As if he's not looking at his own hand, the Eeee reaches over slowly and pokes at those curled fingers, trying to get them to move. "Okay, Alptraum … you're hallucinating or maybe Roogi is playing a joke on you," he thinks, trying to find a reason for why his hand looks … dead.
He might as well be poking at a tree branch for all the reaction Alptraum is able to get from the limb. It even feels like wood; hard and unyielding.
Biting his lip as his ears start to twitch frantically, he reaches up to the point where it throbs softly. He rubs at that spot slowly, trying to feel it out. "Okay, whomever is playing this joke … it isn't funny anymore," he thinks.
The throbbing is coming from deep within the arm, and certainly isn't anything like the flexing of muscles. For a moment, the pumping picks up its pace, and jolt of pain races up the arm as the ring of gray fur advances a fraction of an inch more towards the right shoulder.
Alptraum grits his teeth in pain when it flares up. "Stop that!" he hisses at it and tries to press into the spot where it throbs the most. His eyes flick to Roogi, then to the room's window as he starts considering fleeing into the forest until he can deal with … whatever this is.
The Yodhblakat is already groping around the bed with her arm, searching for Alptraum in her sleep.
Not willing to wait for Roogi to awake, Alptraum gets up from the bed and makes a quick move for the window. "I have to get out of here!" he thinks worriedly. "I can deal with this! I can! I just need time to think… "
Another zap of pain reminds the Eeee that time is limited.
As Alptraum works to get the window open with his left hand, he looks at his right arm, though some partof his doesn't want to know…
Another strip of dead skin falls away, taking the fur with it, and cracks are starting to show in the exposed flesh now as well.
Alptraum grits his teeth as he thinks furiously. Where the skin has started to split on his arm … he jabs a claw in deep, trying to locate the source of the throbbing.
It isn't a pleasant sensation, and what makes it worse is that the center of the throbbing is apparently moving. It feels like it's right in the elbow joint now, further up from the worst of the decay. Thick puss oozes out of the cracks that Alptraum works his claws into, and while he can't feel the arm, he can certainly smell it now: the scent of rotting meat.
"It's gone," Alptraum thinks grimly and looks at what is left of his right hand. He frowns, which is then followed by a wince. Deciding something, he stands from the window and walks over to the bed. "Roogi," he says and shakes the woman with his left hand, "I need your help and I need it quick."
"Gah," Roogi complains at being roused. "What!" she demands angrily.
"I'm infected. That damn shadow did something to me," Alptraum says quickly. He picks up his dead right hand with his left and drops it on Roogi's stomach. "I need … I need to you sever my arm above the elbow before whatever it is spreads further."
"What hap-" Roogi starts to ask, still a bit bleary. And then her eyes go wide and she makes a glurk sound. The arm didn't stay where Alptraum left it on her stomach, but jerked up instead and buried its talons deep into her throat. The Yodhblakat starts to claw at the withered (but tough) limb in a panic.
Alptraum's eyes go wide and he grabs at his withered talons now and tries to pry them open and off of the Yodhblakat's throat! "Oh Gods, oh gods!" he thinks quickly.
Once more, it feels like doing battle with a tree limb. It's even harder this time, since Roogi's gushing blood makes the talons and bare skin extra-slick. Even trying to get claws into the ruptured areas fails, as they quickly seal back up once exposed to the blood! Roogi's movements become slow as her eyes roll back and she makes a ghastly rattling noise in her ruined throat.
"Oh Gods, Roogi!" Alptraum thinks in a panic as actual tears start to well up in his eyes. She was crazy … but she was starting to be a friend. Wincing now, he tries to pull his whole body back and get his claws out of her when he realizes she's beyond his aid.
Part of Roogi's throat pulls free, and her body collapses back to the bed. The possessed hand finally lets go of the crushed windpipe and becomes inert once more, save for the throbbing that looks like it's reached the upper arm now, past the elbow.
Growling to himself, Alptraum tries to force his hand to move on his own. He tries to prove that he can still control it.
Not even a twitch in response to his commands, beyond the shoulder itself but even that had to have been involved in the lunge that the hand made. Roogi's corpse slides over the side of the bed, and knocks over the table that was there. Her collected 'junk' goes flying, along with some of Alptraum's own possessions including the Spirit Dagger, which skitters across the floor towards the door.
Alptraum makes a dragging crawl towards the door, his right hand scraping along the floor. "If I just stab that throbbing, it has to stop. I can still beat this," Alptraum tries to convince himself. "I can make the shadow stop this, if I must!"
It isn't hard to grab up the dagger with his left hand. Now Alptraum just needs to find the strength to plunge into his own (well, former) flesh.
Eyes wincing, he places the tip on his withering flesh. It trails along as he tries to pinpoint that throbbing spot … and when he does … Alptraum's eyes close and his left hand shoves hard with that dagger, trying to drive it through his arm, the pulsation, and save what is left of his body.
There is some resistance from the hardening flesh, but the dagger does pierce it finally. For a moment, the throbbing stops and then the blade breaks off in Alptraum's arm, and the dead zone rushes up to engulf his shoulder. Through the pain, the Eeee hears a horribly familiar voice say, "Thank you, Alptraum. Now I have the Shadow and a new body!"
What's worse, Vorgulremik's voice is coming from the bat's own throat, and his body is shaking with the force of the dragon's laughter.