9 Midsummer, 6107 RTR (Jul 13, 2007) Alptraum arranges another training session for Tulani's dragon form.
(Alptraum) (The Light of Nala) (Sylvania) (Tulani)

    Training Course
    This crumbling set of ruins was once the city for a powerful race on from an unnamed world. They were at the height of their Golden Age when Vorgulremik struck. Within a few days, they were gone and the Steel Dragon had absorbed everything they were. This city is an echo of the last moments of that world. What remains are crumbling spires twist and turn … stretching far up into the sky. Complex bridge spans interconnect the spires. For the streets on the ground, they snake and curve throughout the city and even through some of the buildings by means of tunnels. All it all, the city has an organic feeling in its flow and architecture … and like all things organic … seems to be slowly 'dying'.

The morning … and early afternoon for that matter, were a non-starter for those encamped at gormless. The late night drinking binge has left most with horrific hangovers. Tulani offered to cure those in pain with the light … except tha didn't go so well with the Yodhblakat. They take after all and can never be given. So, the poor sphynx had to make a hasty retreat to her bedroom. There she closed her eyes for what seemed like only a few seconds … only to be 'woken' by a cool breeze drifting over her face. Gormless is gone and Tulani finds herself sitting in the middle of this city. The buildings creak and sway around her. But … there are no other signs of life.

Tulani suppresses the urge to jump when she discovers the sudden change in her surroundings… Instead she takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out to calm herself. Scratched the back of her head the Sphynx takes in the scene of the complex, crumbling structures, slowly standing to take a look around.

From behind her Tulani hears a familiar voice; Alptraum's. "You appeared in a spot I didn't expect. Sorry about that. Since we weren't going anywhere today, I thought you could use more practice with your scaly body and getting used to your draconic instincts. I was also going to take the time to explore the Shadow part of myself and my new hand, if you don't mind. So, I brought you back into the knife," he says as he then walks into view. Even in this world, the insect-like chitinous plating adorns his right hand, complete with the white orb that glowing faintly. "I have more control over my appearance here than in the outside world … but I figured I may as well make sure I look the same so I get used to how this feels. It's odd having a half-numb hand, but I think I can live with it. Anyway! So … up for exploring your reptilian side? Kaira helped me select this place. We figured it would be a good locaiton to just practice flight in your dragon form as well as movement. Plus … you

you're less likely to damage anything major. If you do well, we may see about further combat practice. I have a few plans this time to avoid getting so easily squished." He grins.

The Sphynx sighs audibly in relief as Alptraum appears, "Ah, Its you. well, I wouldn't mind the practice, but a friendly warning would be nice… I'm sure Kaira advised you that it would be better as a surprise right?" she replies with a small smile before closing her eyes to concentrate on her other form. The change thankfully goes a lot faster inside the world of the knife, and dragon is left standing in Tulani's place.

"Heh. Well, something like that. It was more that I didn't have a lot of time to warn you given I couldn't sneak by the three Yodhblakat camped outside your door. You really annoyed them," Alptraum comments. His brow arches when Tulani shifts into the draconic form and he walks slowly around her. "I have to ask … what does it feel like when you do that? And … do you mind if I touch? I'm curious as to what the body feels like … if it's like ice or flesh."

"Oh dear… Their really camped outside me door? I wasn't expecting them to take it that badly… " The misty dragon grumbles, tilting her head, "Any idea how I can make a proper apology to them?" Tulani's tail curls to one side curiously as Alptraum circles her, "No, I don't mind if you touch, I do trust you a bit more than Arkold. As to what it feels like, it's notjust the effect of the body but the mind also

"Its… well its cool, cold even, but not unpleasant, like being wrapping in a winter breeze that goes inside of you, a bit soothing, like a cold drink in summer. It is also a bit like looking through a crystal lens, even my mind cools down, and there is this one moment of perfect, clarity just before I come back to myself." Tulani explains.

"The only way you can apologize to them is to 'let' them take something from you. That's the Yodhblakat way. I could try to speak to them on your behalf and smooth it over, though, if you want. I just can't guarantee that will help," Alptraum comments as he continues to circle. The chitin-covered right hand reaches out and touches against Tulani's side lightly and Alptraum trails it along, claw tips ticking over the scales as he goes. "Physically, you feel very 'cold' to me … but also like flesh, not ice," he observes. "Have you considered just staying in this body?"

"Well, if you could talk to them it would be much appreciated, if it doesn't work I'll try to figure something out… " The dragoness begins to say before pausing to blink several times, "Staying this way? Well no, I don't think I've ever really thought about that. It would certainly be useful, but also dangerous, and I rather like my original self." She says slowly, flicking her tail the other way.

Alptraum stops in front of Tulani. He cranes his head back and up, then asks, "Still afraid of the 'draconic virtues' then? What you may become over time?" His wings behind him shift and rustle about.

Tulani arches a scaled brow at Alptraum, "More cautious than afraid I would rather say. And wouldn't you prefer to keep the safety of those around you? I know you do dangerous things occasionally, but you always seem to want to protect people. Also there is a slight change in how I think that also occurs with this and I would like to remain myself as much as possible I suppose."

"Fair enough reasoning. Just remember, though, that in either form you are still you. When you fused with that pendant … you gave up being just a sphynx. So, dragon or feline, you are the being that has the key called Tulani in the universal story as it's being written," Alptraum says with a grin, then winks. "As for what I mean by that, uh, well, don't ask. Kaira explained it to me and it was confusing enough. I won't do it justice if I tried." He starts pacing again and looks skyward, now saying, "Before I brought you in, I did a bit of scouting in here and set up a bunch of small flags on the various spires, under the bridges, and through the tunnels. Six, to be exact. Think you can get them all without damaging any of the buildings? It will require some creative flying and careful use of your claws."

The misty colored dragoness blinks slowly in a thoughtful manner, taking a moment to process this before speaking, "Well, I'll take your word for it then Alptraum, if both are me than I will utilize both forms, to be truthful I would not wish to give up either, even as this one is becoming more familiar." Tulani comments gesturing to herself before glancing around at the 'obstacle course of tunnels, bridges, and buildings, "I will gladly try.  Let'ssee if I can bring all six back to you." And with a grin Tulani makes sure she has a clear spot and takes to the air.

"Heh, well, I can also appreciate that. I'm probably also a bit affected by the Shadow right now myself. It manipulated flesh like clay, so a form to it didn't matter. I guess some of that mindset inherited to me. Sorry," Alptraum apologizes and backs away from the dragon. "And remember, there's no time limit on this … so don't try to rush yourself or give into frustration. The point is to get used to that body and how to work with it." He waves to the dragon, then sits himself down on a chunk of rubble. "Okay, Kaira. She's doing part one. Just make sure part two is ready… " he thinks as he taps a claw absently on his shelled hand.

The ground around Tulani is clear. Far above her she can make out what loots like colored scraps of cloth tied to one of the spires.

Throwing a small salute to Alptraum from the air, Tulani begins maneuvering carefully around the decaying city being used as an obstacle course. The dragon doesn't begin searching out the flags immediately, but instead works he way around, trying to get a bit of a mental view of the layout and any patterns in that might appear in the placement of structures. Spotting the fluttering cloth she angles her flight in towards it carefully.

The city looked like it would be easy to fly in from the ground. But once Tulani is up and in it, she discovers quickly that her broad wingspan is going to make maneuvering difficult in most areas and impossible in others. Up high, the buildings look unstable. With enough force, sections will collapse.

The Sphynx-turned-dragon does her best, being very careful, having to pull in her wings at times, forced to gauge distance, drop, and altitude as she maneuvers the course. circling in odd patterns to attempt to gain altitude towards the cloth tied to the spire without tripping anything.

Perhaps she's more familiar with this form than she thought. The frost dragon finds herself being able to dart, weave, and gain altitude without touching any of the older buildings around her. It takes a few minutes, but she finds herself now slowly circling the first spire. Tied to the top on a crumbling spike is a streamer of red cloth.

As Tulani circles in on the streak of red she gingerly attempts to hook it on the tip of a claw and work it loose without damaging the spire it is, for the moment, connected to.

The wind proves to be Tulani's bane at the moment. It blows at precisely the wrong time and the bit of cloth dances right out of her claws just before they click together. A miss.

The dragon smiles as it seems the prize is within her reach and then hrumphs in disappointment as a breeze snatches it away, frowning in concentration she makes another careful attempt with her claws, and even uses the tip of her tail to try to keep the cloth from flowing out of her grasp.

The red cloth flaps loudly in the breeze. If Tulani didn't know better, she could swear it was going 'pthththbt' at her. It does look like a tongue…

Perhaps using her tail to twist around and hold it while trying to fly was a bad idea. Given her body distribution, her tail does act as a large part of her balance. By moving it around to her front, she finds herself quickly 'top' heavy. This causes her to lurch forward, smacking her forehead against the side of the spike that's holding the cloth. It snaps away and starts to fall towards the ground. So does Tulani, for that matter…

Down below, Alptraum winces. "Hm, that didn't look good… " he mutters.

Tulani quickly tries to reorient herself and regain her balance, arching her wings to slow her decent and rubbing at her forehead as she tries to keep from falling, or flying full-force into anything else, and makes another grab for the either the cloth or the spire as she descends.

Perhaps the smack was a wakeup call to not get overconfident. She's able to cant her wings enough to glide away from the tower and snap them wide. The gust of wind from the wing spread kicks the red cloth around in the air, momentarily stopping its descent. And that gives her enough time to get a good grip on it. One down!

Quickly tying the cloth around her arm so as not to loose it, Tulani goes back to navigating the treacherous maze of ropes and tunnels, flying a little lower. The next flag would likely be in a more difficult place to spot.

Make that the next two would not be easy to spot … or get to. Two streamers of red cloth are tied to the underside truss of one of the bridges. They're spaced about two-thirds apart as Tulani's arm span is. So theoretically she could grab them. Thats' hard enough … but the fact another spire bridge runs parallel to the one with the flags and is only twenty feet below it … well, it looks like the dragoness will have to soar between the two bridges to make a grab for them. Too much flapping of her wings and well … she'll hit one of the bridges. Neither look very stable.

Taking a deep breath, Tulani angles her way in to make a pass, having to tell herself several times not to worry if she doesn't get them on the first try… No, don't even think about getting the flags, just concentrate on making the the pass between the bridges and not hitting anything.

The pass-through goes … roughly. The dragon might not have been expecting how the sound around her changes when she passed through an enclosed space. The roar of the wing causes her to jerk her wings. The tips scrape against the lower walkway and send debris out into the air. But … she manages her way through. The tips of her wings sting a small bit, though.

Hissing at the now raw tips of her wings Tulani determinedly circles back and attempts to make another pass, this time hopefully more prepared and ready to make a grab for the flags.

Frustration mounting, Tulani arcs back and makes another pass to grab for the cloth. She misses badly. So badly in fact her tail actually clips the upper bridge. That sends down a rain of rubble onto her body. That, in turn, causes her to start diving towards the ground…

Hissing and growling loudly as her pass goes horribly wrong, Tulani shifts her wings and does everything in her power to stop her descent, attempting to use her wings as a parachute to catch the air and slow herself and then glide back around. The dragoness was becoming bound and determined to get those flags, and wasn't about to stop until she either got at least one, or something catastrophic happened and the bridge collapsed.

Perhaps there are some value in the draconic virtues. Anger and greed focus Tulani's desires to pinpoint accuracy. She wants those flags. She will have them. She flies back up and does a power-diving arc between the two bridges. The roar of the wind as she passes through is deafening. And when she comes out on the other side … there is a flag hanging from each of her two forepaws. Three down. There's also a strange rush of pleasure that ripples through her; she got her prize … her shiny. It feels good.

Tulani grins widely and quickly ties a flag to each arm before circling higher with clipped roar of triumph. Feeling a warm surge of pride at having captured another piece of her goal the dragon went back to her hunt, searching out the remaining three flags.

It takes even more searching to locate the last three flags … but there they are. For a moment, Tulani might even wonder if Alptraum hates her … because he put them in a rather evil place. There's a point in the city where a series of crosswalks all converge into a triangular pattern. The center of the triangle is hollow, and unlike the earlier bridges … only maybe ten feet across. All three flags are tied in that hole; one on each vertex of the triangle. There are two obvious ways to get them. Land on the crosswalks and just reach over (and hope the bridges can support her weight). or dive straight down through the triangle, wings folded completely in, and making grabs for them.

Growling faintly, with a thin trail of mist issuing from her nostrils, Tulani gets herself in position, steeling herself as she gains a bit of altitude and then makes the dive, folding her wings in tightly and plummeting towards the hole.

Ah, nothing like greed and anger keeping you sharp and the push of pride to not fail. Tulani rockets through the triangular hole. Nothing of her touches the walkways as she passes through, even with her arms spread … and she grabs a hold of two of the flags. Of course … the ground is coming up rather quickly now. It'll be quite the effort to pull out of the dive…

"Heh. She's really mad, Kaira," Alptraum comments quietly to himself. "I knew those would be difficult to get with that body size and how much it takes to turn … but. Are you sure she remembers your advice on watching out for the virtues taking over too much?"

As soon as she finds herself free of the hole, Tulani tilts her body, trying to angle her descent away and opening her wings in an attempt to slow herself, while clinging to her two newly won flags in a death grip.

Angling away and not hitting the ground seems doable, if a bit tricky. This is because, there is a building in front of the dragoness.  Fortunately, there is also tunnel that passes through it. So, she has a choice to make; try to veer around the building or try to go through the tunnel. Both pose risk. The tunnel is narrow; her wings will only have a few feet of clearance as she goes through. But veering around the building … has a large risk of clipping the building.

With a tunnel already directly in front of her, Tulani decides to stay the course and attempt to fly through, however risky.

The dragoness' arc was a bit low… when she enters the tunnel she quickly finds herself so close to the floor she ends up practically running along the bottom of it.  And for the briefest moment … her fear of enclosed spaces kicks in and the walls seem to start to close around her. Fortunately for her, the burning desires of the dragon pushes it away and she shoves off the floor. He wings beat with short strokes to avoid the walls and she launches through the tunnel, exiting the other side in a streak of silvery-white mist.

On the edge of panic at first, even with the surging determination flowing through her she exits the tunnel with her heart beating at triple time, She take the opportunity to calm herself as she circles back to the placement of the first flag and also to attempt to force herself to not become impatient with potential victory so close at hand.

It's hard to push away the desire to get that last flag. Tulani spends several minutes just circling and every now and then looking towards the last one as it flaps tantalizingly in the breeze. But eventually, the burn subsides to a dull heat instead. Five down, one to do. Alptraum didn't make this easy at all.

Letting out a slow, cold, mist laden breath, Tulani makes what is, hopefully, her final dive.

Without the fiery focus, Tulani finds her dive is actually a bit sloppy as she drops down. At first she drifts dangerously close to the walkway that still has a flag. But instinct quickly kicks in and she snaps and whips her tail. It's enough to alter her descent and she sweeps through the hole again. Not only that, but the third flag is in her grabs. Elated and feeling an incredible surge of pleasure from the success, she barely even notices when she glides back through that horrible, narrow, tunnel. On the other side, Tulani can see Alptraum sitting on the rubble still. He seems to be lost in thought.

With a roar of success and her prizes tied to her arms and the last gripped firmly in her claws, the dragoness angles her flight towards Alptraum and circles him in several slow loops before coming in to land nearby.

"Well, you seem pleased with yourself," Alptraum says as he gets to his feet and dusts off his backside. There's a bit an amused grin creeping onto his face, too.

"And why shouldn't I be? Not a perfect win, but I brought back all your flags. You certainly didn't make it easy." Tulani replies with a curling smile, looking very much like that cat that got the cream.

Alptraum laughs, shaking his head. "Kaira was right. You are acting like a dragon," he notes with a grin. "And really, you got past the warm up. The main challenge is still coming. Kaira has arranged a bit more practice for you. And this time … well, I think I'm going to try something to make sure I don't experience the level of pain I felt last time."

Tulani frowns slightly at Alptraum making a pouty face, "Well, I did tell you that things tend to shift a bit when I'm in this form, I don't have control of that." the dragon replies. 

She's smiling again soon enough … though a smaller, more cautious expression as she circles Alptraum, keeping her ears open to their surroundings, " Oh goody, more practice. So do tell, what are you planning?"

Alptraum taps the chitin covering on his right hand. "This. The Shadow of Amena can alter flesh. That power passed to me, though it is very limited in the outside world and I ave yet to master it. In here, though, it is much easier to call upon. So, I figured I would practice a bit in here by seeing if I can cover my entire body in this armor before the next bit starts. It'll take me a bit to even try this … and I have no idea if it'll work or how it'll go. Just, well … keep an eye on me in case something bad happens," he says.

"Alright, my eyes are on you Alptraum, though I'm not sure what I can necissarily do in the case of something bad happening." Tulani replies, watching Alptraum with careful curiosity while standing her ground in case something goes wrong.

Alptraum holds out his right hand, fingers spread, and closes his eyes. Inwardly, he goes to that burning ember in his mind and dives into it, letting the Shadow's power flow. "Fur to flesh, flesh to chitin," he thinks, "Mold this body to protect it from harm… " Nothing happens at first. But then … like in the bedroom, the 'veins' on the back of his hand start to pulsate red. The disturbing sensation of pumping ripples through his hand … only in this case instead of pumping in … something is pumping out. What becomes apparent quickly enough when all around the edges of the 'gauntlet' darken … and then a shiny black ichor flows outward. It crawls rapidly up his arm. Fur dissolves away under its touch … then the flesh beneath it starts to go leathery and loose before it completely disappears from view.

Alptraum's eyes snap open and they're completely white, like when he shifts to the Barsunala form.  His mouth opens to say something … only no words come as the ichor rapidly advances to his shoulders, then neck. It flows down his body like a river, fur and clothing dissolving away. It stretches up and engulfs his head all the while his legs and wings are being consumed, too. For a moment, Alptraum is a shimmering black mass of what looks like liquid shadow and then it starts to solidify. At all of his joints, segments in a thigh chitin plating form, glossy-black like obsidian. Also at these joints, spurs form, not unlike the spurs on each of his knuckles. His wings seemingly tear and separate, just as when he shifts to the Barsunala as well, only this time those strips of flesh are interconnected with tendrils of shadow that flows like water. Curving down from his tail base, an actual tail much like a skedat's spiny appendage forms.  The only strange thing about it is that it's completely made from shadow.

Then the rest of the ichor solidifies. His torso becomes a series of segmented plates. All along his back and shoulders are curved spurs of chitin. The ones that form on the back of his head are all tipped in white (in replacement of his hair) His face well, the phantom-eyes remain but the normally Eeee facial features have smoothed over; nostrils becoming mere slits in a rounded chitin nose. Lips gone, the only indication of a mouth is the thin line where the upper and lower jaw chitinous segments converge. Even his ears have a shell like covering.  They now arch back and look slightly more pointed … almost horn-like.  Soon enough, what stands before Tulani now isn't an Eeee, or even a a wraith … it's more alien, insect-like.  Alptraum retains some Eeee features, but they are melded with a mixture of draconic and skedat parts. His eyes blink closed. Not with eyelids, but with sliding plates of shiny black chitin.

Tulani flat out refuses to jump or display any other dramatic outward sign of surprise as Alptraum begins to change, though she does flinch slightly, digging her toes into the ground resolutely to hold her place. When the Eeee's new form finishes solidifying, the dragon immediately calls out, "Are you still in there Alptraum? I think you could scare the dead with that look."

Alptraum doesn't answer immediately. He's … looking at his hands, then body. Each segmented joint he tests for movement … and move they do. When it finally registers he was spoken to, those 'blind' eyes look to Tulani. "I'm in here," he says, with a rather strange hollow, almost echoy, tone to his voice. "I wasn't expecting it to be this … dramatic. This is … I'm not sure how to describe it. I can't feel much of anything in here, other than slight pressure when something pushes on one of the plates. When it was happening it … well, it felt like when I use the Barsunala illusion, only with a follow up of a strange, cold, sensation. Like being consumed by ice. Yet, it wasn't unpleasant. I … I can't begin to describe it adequately. I … I feel like a bug."

"Like a bug? Really?" Tulani echoes back, curious, and walks up to Alptraum's side, rapping lightly on one of his shoulder plates. "Well you certainly look well protected now."

The plate feels solid, like if Tulani was tapping on the shoulder of a Zelak.

"Well, yes," Alptraum says, "I think I understand why it looks like this. I should have realized. Skekos. The connection to Sunala. It's a demon of legend that's a cross between an Eeee and a skedat. I don't look quite like the stories, but I imagine that may have been the template the Shadow used for the chitin in the first place … it must have gotten the idea from the Barsunala spirit.

He looks up to Tulani, then blinks dumbly. "Okay, this is also why I feel like a bug. I can't smile, grin, or do any sort of visible facial features in this. Everything is just solid. It's probably no better than normal chitin armor, of course it's just … weird doesn't do it justice."

"And I'm glad I can't do this outside. I mean … things are weird enough," Alptraum adds. Absently, he taps on his right hand, thinking, "Hey, Kaira, time for round two."

"Well, I can't say you're not frightening in this getup, but at least you've got some extra protection." The dragon says, giving Alptraum a light thump on his plated shoulder before readying herself.

Alptraum snorts. The best response he can manage. "This coming from a huge dragon," he points out. "And don't get overconfident. Kaira said this would be a bit shocking for you to deal with next… "

A sound echoes around the curving roads and building, similar to the sounds of a running Rhian, if a Rhian ran on all fours. A moment later, a pale white horse, bearing an elven knight in shiny silver armor runs past – and keeps on going!

"Shocking you say?" The dragon grumbles before arching a brow in mild confusion as she watches the night go charging by, taking several steps to the side and looking around.

Alptraum takes several quick steps back, his thickly encased toe claws clicking on the broken pavement beneath his feet. He's here as backup, just as before, so doesn't engage. This is Tulani's battle, not his. He watches the elven knight ride by … and then quickly dismisses him. He looks for what the knight was running from.

A large pale hand slides around the corner of a building, followed by a bulbous, cadaverous head. A humanoid figure, easily fifteen feet tall, steps out. It looks human, but emaciated to the extreme. Its eyes are sunken into black pits, and the only color on its body comes from torn, bleeding lips. "Flesh… dragon flesh… " it moans.

"Oh, that's delightful, Kaira," Alptraum thinks inwardly. "What is that?"

"Wendigo, a cannibal giant," the dragon's voice whispers into Alptraum's head. "Must have wandered in… the knight was supposed to be the challenge!"

"Please tell me you're joking," Alptraum thinks, "Gah! Should we flee? Or can, well, Tulani doesn't know it's not the real challenge. So … can she take it?"

"Okay, now that's just wrong… What in the world is that?" Tulani quickly asks Alptraum, taking several steps back in the face the the creatures huge size.

"Er, something called a Wendigo, a cannibal giant," Alptraum says quickly, "That's the challenge … I think! Well, go do the voodoo that dragons do, so well. If you get into serious trouble, I'll help!"

"So long as it doesn't eat her she should be fine," Kaira says. Then the giant starts lumbering towards Tulani… drooling.

Tulani's wings snap open and she immediately takes to the air, circling the creature and trying to maneuver behind it, aiming to dive at the back of its neck or head.

The Wendigo is quick, but not enough to dodge dragon breath at nearly point-blank range. The frost engulfs its head, blinding it for a moment, but doesn't appear to actually hurt it at all otherwise.

"So, how much of a threat is this thing to me?" Alptraum thinks as he keeps his distance from the dragon and her prey.

Mist still trailing from her mouth, Tulani follows up her icy blast with a dive at the back of the creatures neck while it is blinded, attempting to dig her claws into it and see just how tough its flesh is.

"It doesn't care what it eats," Kaira reports.

"If I was outside I … I could have the gauntlet devour it. Great, when it would be useful, I can't use it," Alptraum things grimly and is momentarily annoyed he cannot frown. "Be careful, Tulani," Alptraum calls to his friend.

The first blow just glances off of the monster's skull: it seems to be all skin and bones! It opens its maw and tries to take a bite out of the dragon!

Tulani growls loudly as her blow is deflected by the monsters thick bones… Dodging around the Wendigo's mouth she trys for another blow, this one to the area of its spine trying to damage or dislocate the things vertebrae.

Diving for the creatures back Tulani opens her jaws wide and, using her claws to get a brief grip, bites deep into the back of her opponents neck.

The creature wails and goes down into a spindly pile.

"Wow, that was easier than it looked," Alptraum admits when the Wendigo collapses into a pile. "Nicely done!"

Tulani doesn't let down her guard but circles slowly, watching to see if the creature is still a threat, or if she needs to deliver a killing blow.

Alptraum also starts towards it slowly, eying the pile.

"Oh!" Kaira's voice pipes from Alptraum's hand. "Almost forgot: don't let Tulani bite or swallow any part of the Wendigo, okay?"

"Uh, she just bit its head off," Alptraum tries to inform Kaira. "Just what is going to happen?"

After a pause, Kaira says, "She's going to get really really hungry. Try not to look like a giant tasty shrimp."

"I hate you," Alptraum thinks. "So, how do I undo her hunger?"

"Oh, hmm, that's tricky," Kaira admits. "She's a dragon, so it will feed into her own natural greediness. Knock her out of her dragon form and it should be okay."

"Well, hmm. I'm not sure how to do it. I wonder if I could drain her at her scar point somehow," Alptraum considers as he now starts backing away from Tulani and the body.

The dragon grins widely as her prey doesn't look like its about to get up, a bit of its blood still rimming her teeth. Her nostrils flare widely and then suddenly something started to twinge within her, in a rising urge… She was hungry… not just hungry, she was practically starving. A driving desire to consume flared up, leaving her growling ferally at nothing in particular.

"Tulani!" Alptraum calls out, "Just … return to sphynx form and it will calm down!" His shadowy wings flick open, ready to go airborne if need be.

"Hunngry… " Tulani hissed slowly, not seeming to hear Alptraum at first, but eventually craning her head to look towards him, with only minimal recognition in her eyes, "What?"

"Go … back … to … sphynx. Release the power," Alptraum says very slowly, hoping she will understand.

The Dragon tilts its head, eying Alptraum avidly as it slips to all fours. Looking undecided, Tulani shakes her head from side to side , blinking, as though very confused… her expression darkens when the Eeee speaks again and, inhaling sharply, she lets out the breath in a sudden rush.  Icy scales practically exploding off of her body as she forces herself quickly back to a sphynx and none too gently.

Alptraum rushes over to the exploded (and wet) Tulani. Still encased in 'armor', he gently lifts her upright … mindful not to get her with one of the spines. "Hey, are you okay?" he asks her. Even with that odd hollow and echoy voice, there's a tone of worry.

"Ugh… I feel like I'm going to be sick… " The now returned Sphynx groans thickly, looking rather disturbed as Alptraum helps her sit up… "Err… don't take this the wrong way… but you look even creepier like that from this perspective… "

Alptraum lets his mind flow back to the shadow where he melds and focuses its power back to his form. The chitin armor that encases him shimmers, then starts to melt. First, it softens, then it starts to break apart into fine strands … no, into fur. Alptraum sits quietly for a few minutes as the change rolls over him as both the wraith and shadow fade. Soon enough Alptraum is back to normal (well, except that he still has the chitin covered hand).

"Better?" he asks the sphynx. There's one minor issue though. He's naked. The shadow apparently ate his clothing when it shifted him.

Tulani doesn't seem to care about Alptraum state of undress and immediately hugs the Eeee, "Yes, thats much better!" She does of course avoid look at anything below the level of his waist for sake of his modesty. The Sphynx herself came out of her transformation unclothed as generally happened in the real world, but quickly willed herself a covering. "Um, you might want to put some clothes on Alptraum."

"Uh, heh, right," Alptraum says … once again thankful he can't readily be seen to blush. After a minute of concentration, Alptraum is back to wearing his rough travelers garb. He slips in behind Tulani and starts massaging her shoulders (with both hands, even). "All in all, you did very well," he tells her, trying to make her feel better.

The Sphynx blinks and almost jumps when Alptraum moves behind her, but ends up relaxing completely when he starts massaging her shoulders, her wings flopping to the sides… "Wow, is this one of the perks I get for the training? We should do this more often." she says with a smile before continuing more seriously, "That last part was… very hard, the dragon side didn't want to let go… It was almost like last time, I could hardly even see you."

"But you did. You retained control in the end," Alptraum whispers into the sphynx' ear. He pulls Tulani back so she's resting her back against his chest and he slips his hands around her, interlacing his fingers together, palms resting on her stomach. "You carry a great power, but it is still you that control it. You just need to keep practicing with it. Besides, I do think you like how it feels."

The Sphynx smiles weakly and leans back, "Well alright… then I wont apologize for it again even though I want to… " Tulani chuckles softly, tilting her head to look back, upside down at the Eeee behind her with a grin, "Just like you know you like having that spirit attached to you. It has its benefits, admit it!

Alptraum quirks a small grin. "It has a few, yes. I've come to just think of it as me. Just another part. I'm trying to do the same for the Shadow now too. Sure, it cost me with what it did to my hand, but … I can adapt and live with it. It too has its uses. Plus, I have to admit the chitin is … well, I'm starting to like it a little bit, anyway. If nothing else, it certainly feels interesting," he says as he leans his head down, putting him nose tip to nose tip with the sphynx.

"Ah, well then 'll try not to worry about you too much if thats how your feeling about it, "Honestly what you did, when you said you had merged with the shadow, it really scared me a bit," The Sphynx replies with a small smile before reaching out to unceremoniously beep the Eeee's nose with the tip of a finger.

"It scared me when it happened. The union occurred a lot faster than I had planned. But … its done and it matters what I do with it now. If I can use its power to help Sylvania, all the better. I just hope I am a better caretaker of it than its previous Mistress," Alptraum says, then tries to nip Tulani's finger. His version of a nip ends up being catching it in his mouth.  Once held, he ever so slightly bites the finger, then drags his teeth lightly along it as he pulls his head back. "And I certainly plan to try and master its abilities over time. I want to use them to help rebuild, not destroy," he comments.

The Sphynx chuckle turns into a laugh as Alptraum bites the tip of her finger, "Well, you certainly are a flirt if nothing else!" Turning around, she pats him gently on the shoulder, "Don't worry to much I know you'll be a good caretaker for the shadows power, you are an intelligent and sensitive person. Anyways, should we get going? I still have to figure out how I'm going to get those crazy Eeee away from the front of my door.

"A flirt? Me?" Alptraum says as he puts one of his hands to his chest. "Why, I'm wounded! As for them, well … I'll see if I can do anything to move them along. They're occasionally afraid of me." His silvery eyes then glint and he notes, "And so, you really want to leave now? Well, there's one way out that Kaira showed me the other day… "

Tulani thumps Alptraum playfully on the back exclaiming with a grin, "Well of course you're a flirt! its part of what makes you so lovable! And whats this way out that Kaira showed you? I'm curious."

Alptraum grins rather fangily at that. "Just remember that you asked," he says ominously. Before Tulani can react, she finds herself eased back and in the Eeee's arms. The last thing she remembers seeing are two silvery eyes looking into hers.  The last thing she remembers feeling …   well, so that's what it feels like to intimately kiss a vampire.

Tulani's eyes open and she smiles as she stretches on her bed, chuckling quietly to herself, "Oh Alptraum… you really are an incorrigible flirt!"


GMed by BoingDragon & Jared

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Today is 22 days after Candlemass, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)