Something unusual, even for Draco County, has occurred. Both Phalgaea and Mave received requests for their presence at the 'official' Shadow Training Room. What they know about the place has been just what Alptraum has told them; that namely it was a 'safe' room where Alptraum can experiment with the shadow dragon abilities without disturbing the rest of the castle. It sounds like an impressive place but in reality it is not. It's just in the lower part of the castle, a semi-abandoned ritual room that no one was using anyway.
So, to those who decide to come, the door is currently open. The room itself is just a dark stone chamber with thick, and very soundproof (even for Eee), walls. The room is bereft of much furniture usually, but some old chairs and crates have been brought in. Even an old mattress has been placed on the floor probably to prevent a falling person from being injured by the stonework. Alptraum is sitting, cross-legged, on the floor near one of the crates. He's sorting through what looks like some very work-looking prisoner equipment; wrist and ankle chains made from chitin mostly, to even some older devices used to mute Eee senses; an odd padded helmet that both plugs ears as well as uses an array of plating to deflect sound, so that Eee prisoners can be transported without them being able to use sound to map out the passageways. Every now and then Alptraum seems to be giving some of the equipment a rather peculiar, arched brow, 'I can't even figure out what this is' look. If he's aware of the
If he's aware of the arrival of others, he seems to show no notice.
"You called for me, Alptraum?" Phlagaea calls quietly into the chamber. The last of the green dye is faded or washed away now, leaving the girl a normal brown color. Behind her, Mave just stands patiently, wearing one of her more conservative vestments.
"Yes, I did!" Alptraum chirps as he stuffs some of the odd trinkets back into their crate. He dusts off his hands (and they do shed quite the cloud of dust as he does so) as he looks up. "I needed your expertise, of a fashion anyway. At least as long as I understand one of the principles of Gorphat."
"We… well, I didn't get into the kinky stuff," Phlagaea notes, gesturing to the crate as she enters. "But… I guess that's why you wanted Mave too then? What did you need my expertise with?"
"It has nothing to do with kinky. Part of the belief is that facing a challenge makes you stronger and more capable, correct?" Alptraum asks.
"Well, yes," Phlagaea says, smiling. "By overcoming a challenge, we grow stronger. And… the weak are weeded out. But mostly we get stronger!"
"You wish for a challenge, Alptraum?" Mave guesses.
"Well, that's my goal, sort of. I want to become better with controlling my shadow," Alptraum says. The Eeee then waggles one of his fingers at Mave, saying, "In a sense, yes. Phlagaea understands what sorts of challenges help strengthen certain aspects … and you, well … to be honest, Yodhinala, when I think of strange and disturbing ways to be challenged, I often think of you. I figured you of all people would understand how to use devices meant for imprisoning Eeee in creative ways as to induce challenges." He waves to the crates, then stands so he can go close the door. "For example, I think it could prove useful to say shackle my arms behind my hack or the like, then have to use the shadow to retrieve the key and unlock the shackles."
"You've told me previously that your shadow-extensions lack a sense of touch," Mave notes. "So unlocking something that you cannot see may be more of a challenge than you think."
"Huh," Phlagaea says, rubbing at her chin with one of her wings instead of a hand. "We could try binding his hands in front of him first," she suggests.
"Correct, but I am also hoping that by being made to rely on it, I may either work on developing that sense, or learning how to cope with the lack of sense and still find a way," Alptraum points out. "And starting out simple is fine. I want to build on the complexity as I get better."
"So, you have to want to be able to feel what the shadow bits are touching?" Phlagaea asks.
"I'm not sure if that would work, but I imagine enough of a desire would probably help," Alptraum agrees as he makes sure the door is completely closed, isolating the sounds of the room from the rest of the castle. The Eeee then quirks a lopsided grin as he asks, "You two probably think I've gone insane."
The two women share a glance, and it's Mave who notes, "We accepted your madness some time ago, Alptraum."
Alptraum laughs at that. "If you don't want to help," he says, "That's fine. But I thought I would ask as I thought you might find it at least interesting."
"I will help with the sensation part, if Phlagaea will choose to help with manipulation," Mave offers. The newly-brown bat blinks, and then nods in agreement.
Alptraum's brow perks a bit at that. "All right, that sounds reasonable," he agrees as he heads back to the crates and sits on the edge of one. He flashes a grin to Phlagaea as he adds, "And just think, if I improve my skill, it'll help me manage things in the suites. Things like dealing with getting the Countess and you your odd cravings, and other such requests I know I am doomed to face."
Phlagaea grins at that, and says, "Hand over the shackles, and hold your hands out."
"Remove your pants first," Mave adds.
Alptraum pauses in mid-reach for the crate next to him. "Why my pants?" he asks as he looks oddly at Mave. One of his ears even flops to the side. He shakes his head to right it, then grabs the shackles and the key. They're basic-broad-banded chitin shackled connected by a molded chitin chain. These he offers to Phlagaea and waits for her to take them before honoring Mave's request.
The Yodhgorphat takes the shackles and opens and closes them a few times to make sure the lock and key work.
They're old and squeak a bit, but the mechanism seems passable and the lock holds when the key is used. They must be from storage, or deemed not in good enough condition for real prisoners. Shaking his head, Alptraum undoes his belt, then slips out of his pants and tosses those to the side. He seems to consider something, then just removes his shirt and tosses that to the side as well. The Eeee then extends his arms to Phlagaea, presenting his normal left, and far uglier chitinous right, hands to her.
The Eeee woman has a bit of a challenge getting the shackle on the right wrist, but eventually gets Alptraum's hands bound together in front of him. She then holds the key in her palm, and asks, "How hard should it be to get the key from me?"
"Let's start simple," Alptraum says and then rolls his jaws a bit, teeth clicking together. "For your safety, how about just set it on the floor in front of you this time and just make sure I don't reach for it except with the shadow. We'll increase difficulty from there."
Phlagaea nods, and then sits down cross-legged on the floor and sets the key just in front of her feet.
"Try to extend your shadow to cover your body as well, Alptraum," Mave requests.
Alptraum sits down a few feet away. He draws in several deep breaths and then furrows his brow intently. Several of the muscles in his jaw and around his eyes twitch from the concentration … and after a minute, Alptraum's right hand, mainly around the fingertips, seems to leak. Well, leak as in turns of an oily black flows out from joints in the chitin covering and pooling into a puddling-like goo along his fingers. There's a short nod from the Eeee and he inhales sharply. As he releases a slow breath, the fur along his body starts to move, almost as if floating in water. Why is soon enough obvious as the same black goo has begun to seep up through his fur. The white scar on his chest vanishes quickly, through the shape of it remains … a starburst bulge in the smooth sheen.
"Imagine if your shadow was red," Phlagaea says. "It'd be like you were bleeding out through your skin."
Mave comes over to Alptraum, and runs her fingers lightly across his chest. "Did you feel that?" she asks.
The texture of the shadow beneath Mave's fingertips is … like warm and oiled rubber. Her fingers slide easily and come away dry. "No, I didn't," Alptraum admits. To Phlagaea he says, "That part … feels pretty strange. I can feel it ooze out and inside me it's almost like something is squeezing a bladder to push it out. Well, as best I can describe it, anyway."
"Have you been able to move things with it before?" Phlagaea asks, leaning forward to get a better look.
"It has a solid presence. I can use it like armor in small sections with enough concentration. So, it should be able to move stuff," Alptraum explains. Up close, Phlagaea can see it's not entirely smooth, there are small ridges that spider out along its surface (most notably on his chest); they pulsate slowly like veins. Alptraum places his hands on the floor and his jaw tenses. A slow tendril of the 'liquid' flows out from his hand, towards the key before Phlagaea.
The Yodhgorphat can't help but reach out to give the tendril a little poke to see if it reacts.
It squishes a bit under her finger … rather like gelatin, really. Unfortunately Phlagaea then finds it stuck to her fingertip!.
Meanwhile, Mave drops her hand to Alptraum's lap, and starts stroking and rubbing to see if any sensation makes it through.
"Hey, it's sticky!" Phlagaea says, grinning. She dangles the tendril from her finger, and shakes it a little. "Like snot!"
If there is any sensation making it through, Alptraum doesn't seem to be showing any sign of it yet. The texture of the semi-soft and squishy later on the Eeee's body sure feels interesting in Mave's hand, at least. Meanwhile Phlagaea's shaking manages to dislodge the tendril. "My guess is that it's extending ultra-thin bits of itself to pull itself along," Alptraum tries to explain, "And that makes it stick to stuff. I've felt it do that before when moving the gauntlet around on my hand."
"Hmm, you need to make it go faster then," Phlagaea suggests.
"That's not easy," Alptraum admit. The Eeee's eyes narrow and his jaw sets firmly. Alptraum actually makes a loud grunting sound. The tendril surges forward! Not only does it surge forward, it gets thicker! It over-runs the target key in a split-second and Phlagaea finds her feet and calves completely enveloped in the goo. "Oops," Alptraum says, grins sheepishly, and splays out his ears.
"It feels like ichor, almost," Phlagaea notes, wiggling her toes. "After it's congealed a bit."
Phlagaea's toes sure look gooey now as strands stretch and snap between her toes. "I guess you're used to being covered in ichor," Alptraum realizes.
"Well, I learned to mix up lots of weird stuff as an acolyte," Phlagaea notes. "And ichor is a good growth medium for all sorts of plagues and stuff. And you can spread it on toast too."
Mave, however, is starting to look a bit frustrated at not being able to elicit a response from the shadow-skin.
"And it seems to like you," Alptraum admits as he seems to have a bit of a time getting it to let go of Phlagaea's feet. With Alptraum distracted by trying to draw the shadow off, Mave finds the texture under her own hands getting stickier now and when she leaves her hand in contact with it for more than a few seconds, it starts crawling up her hand!
"Hmm," Mave mutters. "Not the response I was looking for. And I don't think you even noticed it happening, Alptraum." She tries to pull her hand away slowly.
Alptraum finally seems to notice Mave and he asks, "What sort of response were you going for? Maybe I need to concentrate on trying to feel your contact." Distracted by Mave now, the goo on Phlagaea's feet moves a little further up her legs … reaching about her knees. "It's kind of frisky," Phlagaea points out. "But… it's sticky enough to get the key at least. You should try pulling it back before it takes my pants with it!"
"What?" Alptraum says, head whipping back to Phlagaea, "It's gah! I'm stupid, I know why it won't let go of you."
Alptraum grrs softly and strains. The 'ichor' finally begins its retreat back down her legs. It finally pulls away from her toes with a wet snapping sound, then pools in front of her. The outline of the key can be seen in its mass.
"Because it likes me?" Phlagaea asks, still amused by it all.
"Because you're carrying our child … it wants to protect you," Alptraum says with a smirk. Mave, unfortunately, is finding it very difficult to pull her hands away now. The shadow is trying to hold onto her.
"So, what's the excuse for it clinging to me?" Mave asks.
"I may not be feeling the contact, but I think it is … and likes it," Alptraum offers.
"Then something must be blocking the shadow from sharing the sensation with you," Mave suggests, while still trying to tug her hand away from the clinging goo.
As Mave's hands come back, the shadow stretches out with it. Her hands up to her wrists are now engulfed. "Ooo, I could change the color of your hands or nails," Alptraum threatens Mave jokingly.
The Yodhinala gives Alptraum an arch look. "Remember, without my aid you will be hard pressed to attend to both Phlagaea and the Countess."
"And I'm not allowed to play with you?" Alptraum counters. In any event, his focus shifts to the shadow that has secured itself to Mave's hands. It takes some focus, but the Eeee does manage to coax it to let go.
"I don't think you're yet fully integrated with this shadow entity," Mave tells Alptraum once her hand is free.
"It seems not," Alptraum has to agree, "Which is a shame. The things I do to you. Experiences I doubt other Yodhinala have ever had." He shakes his head and focuses back on the key near Phlagaea. As he draws back the shadow extension, he slowly pulls the key back with it.
Phlagaea follows after the key, on all fours. "You're going to have to lift it somehow," she points out.
"I know," Alptraum grumbles. Within the next minute the key has been pulled back near his hands. It's here that Alptraum looks strained. The shadowy pool ripples for the next minute or so … and the key surfaces in the pool, floating on the dark goo. "Now I have to move it towards the lock… "
Phlagaea gets down close to the key. "You don't have bones in it, or muscles… hmmm. What about… uh… inflating it? Move bubbles around to make it go rigid or something?"
Phlagaea is so close to getting a shadow snog. But fortunately Alptraum is too busy trying to shape the shadow in a ridge-cup around the key … and that he slowly expands and extends upward, moving it ever closer to the shackles. "This is extremely hard," he mutters.
"Looks soft to me," Mave notes.
"Maybe you should think of it like… using your tongue?" Phlagaea next suggests.
"Hmmm," Alptraum says, musing over that. Another minute passes and the shadow shifts again, reshaping itself more like a long, thin, tongue. This he wraps around the key and coils upward … and amazingly works a lot easier. It bends backwards as it lowers … and while Alptraum is biting his own tongue in concentration, he manages to ease the key into the lock of the shackle on his right wrist. As the 'tongue' uncoils, the key turns and a click soon follows. "Hey, what do you know, if I visualize it like a tongue, it works better."
"Well, you have a tongue," Phlagaea reasons. "So you know how it moves and stuff already!"
"It can do more than move stuff," Alptraum says and waggles his brow. His eyes then flick to Mave and he says, "Hmmmm."
"If you are think of other body appendages to emulate… " the Yodhinala says, leadingly.
"No, I'm just thinking of things I can try on you. I can't use the Shadow that way on Phlgaea right now, but you're not under any restrictions," Alptraum teases and waggles his ears.
"You'll need to do something about the stickiness," Mave notes, raising a finger. "And also about the lack of sensation. Unless you intend for me to simply make it happy?"
Phlagaea giggles at that.
"Maybe I intend to make you happy," Alptraum counters with a huge grin. "After all, a monster has to get a woman once in a while."
"I am a Daughter of Inala," Mave notes. "Happiness and pleasure are my specialties," she claims, as if the notion that anyone could make her happier than she could do it herself were silly.
"Yes, but have you never wished to exert no effort at all and experience pleasure?" Alptraum points out. "Er, I assume you were tended to by other Priestess in various ways at times, yes?"
Mave blinks at the phrasing. "No effort? That… makes no sense," she claims. "To have pleasure imposed, instead of creating or taking it?"
"Being given it," Alptraum offers as a different phrasing.
"As an offering then?" Mave asks, just to be sure.
Alptraum nods. "You have been kind to me … 'm thinking of ways to offer you new and unique experiences. After all, even the shadow should pay homage to Inala's altar," the Eeee claims, "After some more practice here, of course." He shakes is right hand and the shackle falls off.
"Yay, you got it!" Phlagaea cheers. "Now you have to try and do it by feel I suppose."
"After more practice, yes," Mave notes, but is grinning.
"Yes, now it just gets more difficult," Alptraum admits and his ears wilt. So, Alptraum spins himself around and now places his hands behind his back and presents them to Phlagaea. "I'm glad that neither of you take advantage of me," the Eeee comments.
The two Eeee women exchange looks again, and say, in unison, "Oh, we'd never do that to you, Alptraum."
"Oh, I know," Alptraum replies, then sticks out his tongue and blows a raspberry. "It's because I'm such a dangerous and scary rogue! I strike fear into all who meet me. Or … I'm just a sucker for a pretty woman. It's one of those two! Now cuff me up again for round two… "