After returning to the castle after dealing with the wayward spirit of Grandpa Rufus, Alptraum can make out the sounds of his companions sleeping in their own rooms, although the sounds of breathing from Phlagaea's room sounds a bit more labored. What's more, her door is ajar.
Alptraum blinks a few times. "Does Phlagaea have another lover?" he thinks. The Eeee siddles quietly up to the ajar door and tries to peek in.
In the light that spills in from central room of the guest suites, Alptraum can see a long line of unspooled bandage leading into the bathroom, and the bare tips of Phlagaea's feet atop the bed which is odd since she usually sleeps on her side, and not on her back.
Alptraum eases the door open and slips in. Now worried, he tiptoes over to the bed, craning his head to get a good look at her.
Once his eyes adjust to the darkness, Alptraum can see the green bat spread out on top of the bed as if every limb including her wings were trying to pull themselves free of her body. Her fur is matted from having dried without combing, and the fur of her cheeks is still damp. "Is that you, Alptraum?" Phlagaea whimpers hoarsely.
"Yes, it is. Good Gods, Phlagaea, what has happened?" Alptraum says worriedly and sits down on the edge of the bed. Gently, he strokes the side of her cheek with the back of his left hand.
"I… can't move," Phlagaea says. "G-Gorphat is testing me. I called on Her blessing earlier today so that I could keep up with the soldiers to… to prove my worth, I suppose," she explains, although she bites her lower lip at the end. "Now I feel the backlash of it. Everything hurts so much… "
Alptraum starts gently feeling over Phlagaea's body, checking the muscle tension. "What did she inflict on you?" he asks softly, "And is there anything I can do to help ease your pain? I would bear it to spare you, you know," he adds.
"I… don't know if I'm allowed help," Phlagaea admits. "I think She is angry with me."
"Not even help from me?" Alptraum says and flexes his right hand. "I think I could ease this somewhat," he considers, brow furrowed slightly. "And if she has issue with that … she can speak to me."
"I… suppose… " Phlagaea says, her piety at war with the pain. "What could you do?" she finally asks.
"You would have to feel the touch of shadow," Alptraum explains, "And a transfer of life energy. Since I have served as your acolyte, perhaps working to aid the High Priestess would not be frowned upon. Though, I do not know if I have enough energy to ease it substantially. But, if you wish it, I will do what I can."
"Alright, maybe a little bit," Phlagaea relents and tries to smile.
Alptraum leans down and lightly kisses Phlagaea's lips. "Just try to relax. This will probably feel … well, I know it will feel odd. Like I am slipping inside you," he explains and places his right hand, palm down, on her stomach. His silver eyes stare into the green Eeee's eyes … and there he slowly tries to extend his shadow cloak around Phlagaea, covering her in its slick embrace.
The green bat gives out a small 'eek' and shivers from the cool touch of the shadow. "You aren't going to suck me dry right?" she asks, just to be certain.
"I'm going to do the reverse, actually," Alptraum explains as he keeps eye contact with her. The shadow oozes almost like liquid to envelop her body, leaving only her face free from the inky mass. There he holds it for a minute, just letting Phlagaea get used to the feel of it (as well as resisting the urge to ken her … given she couldn't stop him.) "How, this should feel a little … warm," he explains next … then falls back to his first lesson on using himself as a conduit to transfer 'life' to someone injured. He opens the 'vault' of energy contained in his right hand and lets it flow on its own to the green Eeee to encourage her muscles to ease and relax. There is no force behind this, he just tries to regulate what the Eeee's body will want to take.
"Warm," Phagaea echoes. "Like being covered in honey… I imagine." Some of the tension begins to drain from her face at least, a sign that the pain from the cramped muscles is easing off.
Alptraum continues allowing it to flow, letting the green Eeee take what her body wants. "You tell me when to stop," he whispers to her, eyes unfocused. He's not even really sure how long he's been doing this … time has a habit of passing quickly when he's lost in focus of control of the shadow.
"How do I know when… eep!" Phlagaea says, as some of her limbs jerk from the suddenly released tension. "Is this normal?" she asks, sounding scared.
"When things release, usually," Alptraum mutters, "Just … when you feel more or less normal or to the point it is more bearable, just tell me to stop. Or, well, when I run out of spirit energy, it will stop anyway… "
Once Phlagaea's limbs stop flopping about like beached fish, she says, "I think… that I'm okay now."
Alptraum holds it a little longer past that, then eases the 'gate' closed. He blinks a few times, focus returning and he looks down at the still shadow-covered Phlagaea. "Oh … I could do such things to you when encased in my shadow, you know," he says, lips quirking into a dangerously impish grin. "It is a part of me… "
"But… " Phlagaea starts to say, her eyes going wide. "I'm the High Priestess!"
"Good things," Alptraum explains, then leans down and kisses her again. As he draws back from the kiss, he also draws away the shadow; its cool slick sinking back to just beneath his skin.
The green priestess shivers again at the withdrawal, and curls up a bit now that her limbs are under her control once more. "Thank you, Alptraum. I was afraid some servant would wander in and… take advantage!" she claims, although from her tone of voice she doesn't seem to really believe that scenario.
Alptraum slips his arm under the woman and helps her sit upright, then drapes his arms around her. "They wouldn't dare. They know you're under my protection," he claims, puffing out his chest and trying to look impressive.
Phlagaea smiles, but it wilts a bit quickly. "Well, until you marry the Countess, anyway. Then I'll just be back to my old untouchable self again," she claims.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to marry her," Alptraum admits, "but time will tell on that. As for you being untouchable … that just isn't true. I like touching you, and as more people get to know you, I'm sure someone else will too." He bumps the ridge of his muzzle under hers, adding, "And it's exciting being with an Eee like you. I learned to appreciate green a lot more and considered things I never would have imagined before I knew you."
"Well," Phlagaea says, blushing a bit at the flattery, "You are a special case. I might really be lethal to anyone who isn't related to one of the Kindly Ones."
"Unless you help that person become strong against Gorphat's blessings," Alptraum points out, then nuzzles against her neck for a moment. "And when someone sees you the way I do … they would be willing to … train to being able to be with you. If I wasn't 'special', well, I know I would have asked you to help strengthen me."
"I suppose I could do that… for someone who was suitably pious," Phlagaea notes. "There are not many who have seemed interested in worshiping Gorphat so far. But I have hope for some of the soldiers. They understand hardship and how a little divine help is needed when one is injured in battle."
"Speaking of strengthening, though, I may ask you for help there for another reason. I know I will be spending much times in places that would endanger those who are not strong against disease," Alptraum notes and starts to claw comb her fur down a bit. "So … I may seek our Gorphat's aid there. That is, if you would be willing to help me."
"My… where do you need me to help you?" Phlagaea asks, trying not to be too distracted by the combing.
"Just making me more resistant to the types of diseases that lurk in swamps and dark places," Alptraum explains, "I am not immune to them, unlike you. I have been striken sick before. Plus, I have other reasons for asking you."
"You're going into a swamp?" Phlagaea asks, then blinks. "Oh, what's the other reason?"
"Most of Sylvania is a swamp," Alptraum points out. The Eeee then grins and taps her nose lightly with a claw tip. "So we spend more time together. I feel as if I've been neglecting you. Even with everything that is going on, you are still one of my closest friends. I never would have survived Babel without you. You realize that you made it bearable for me?"
"And you saved my life there, too!" Phlagaea notes. "Even after all the stupid dangers I put you through to visit our Temple. I didn't realize you were… unhappy… there in Babel."
"I was lonely. When you're different, people are afraid of you and keep you at distance, as I know you understand well," Alptraum says with a sigh, draping his arms around Phlagaea again. "You weren't afraid of me and you wanted to spend time with me. That meant a lot."
"You weren't afraid of me either," she replies, hugging back. "That meant a lot to me too."
"I've been called foolish for this, but … I give people a chance to show themselves to me. I didn't let stories about your temple keep me form trying to learn about you firsthand," Alptraum explains, "And after getting to know you, I wasn't about to let anyone hurt you either. Saving you that day wasn't really a choice for me."
"So even though you never really saw my face, you still trusted me?" Phlagaea asks.
Alptraum cups his hand under her chin and turns her head a bit, looking into her eyes again. "I saw your eyes. I heard your voice. It was enough to make me trust you. And as I spent more time with you, I found you beautiful," he explains.
Phlagaea tries to tilt her chin back down and lower her eyes, feeling embarrassed by the flattery again. "You have the tongue of a devil - or a Gypsy Alptraum," she says.
"Well, I am part demon," Alptraum claims playfully. "So, tell me, what can I do to make things happier here for you? You can always ask anything of me, the worst I can say is it just isn't something I can do."
"I shouldn't be asking you for anything, Alptraum," Phlagaea notes. "I have to be able to make it on my own, or else… or else I'll just never feel like I've met the challenge."
"Okay, let me put it this way, what do you want from me?" Alptraum asks.
Alptraum taps Phlagaea's nose, adding, "And I have no qualms of asking things of you. Fair warning!"
"I want… " Phlagaea says, sounding bold… and then quickly sounding timid again before continuing, "I want to not be alone. I know you love the Countess, and if you do get married, or have children… well, this isn't Babel; having a mistress on the side is usually frowned on."
"I cannot predict the future," Alptraum says after some thought, "But I will never abandon you, no matter what happens. We will work something out so that you are not alone. That I promise you." Alptraum then lowers his chitinous hand and places it lightly over her stomach, adding, "And I could never abandon a child I sired, either. If our … ritual bears an offspring, I will help raise her or him."
"Damned right you will!" Phlagaea notes, poking Alptraum in the chest and grinning wildly. "Or I'll give you hemorrhoids or something."
Smirking, Alptraum says, "Now, my turn to demand something of you… "
"Eep?" Phlagaea squeaks. "What is the horrible price you will exact for ending the curse of Muscle Cramps from me?" She mock swoons, and holds the back of one hand to her forehead.
Alptraum leans over and hooks the end of Phlagaea's bandages with a claw and draws it up. "While I know you prefer me, ah, in the fur when I am serving as your acolyte, I would still like my own set of bandages," he says playfully, "I want to see how I look as a full Bargorphat. It's the gypsy in me, we can't resist interesting clothing."
"Hmmm," Phlagaea goes, tapping her chin. "You know, I think you might be the first Bargorphat even as a temporary one. I suppose a bandage-based loin cloth would be appropriate… "
"You are determined to keep me in as little clothing as possible, aren't you?" Alptraum teases as he coils one of his fingers into Phlagaea's green hair. "I do have to ask … how did I look … green?"
"Yummy," Phlagaea notes, "once I got over the weirdness of it. I mean, I've never seen a Bargorphat before. Although, for a little while before the slakash picked me up I toyed with the notion of dyeing Lucy's fur green, so I wouldn't stand out so much."
"And she would have let you, too," Alptraum comments. He closes his eyes for a moment, and a small streak of green ripples down his white mane as a section of his hair shifts color to match hers. He waggles his brow a bit. "Now, onto a serious topic … what have you been doing for the military?"
"Well, emergency first aid mostly, and some inoculations," Phlagaea notes. "They don't seem to like the latter though. I explained how being given a minor infection can help them survive a massive one later on, but they just seem to think I want to make them sick!"
"Ah, right, that's what I need you do to to me. The inoculations," Alptraum says with a nod. "Would it help any if I went and spoke with the group your stationed with?"
"Or allowed you to demonstrate it on me, as a show of confidence?" Alptraum suggests.
"Ummm," Phlagaea says, and finally notes, "I think they'd be terrified of you, Alptraum."
Alptraum says, "Me? Why?"
"Because it's not exactly a big secret now that you ate the Shadow of Amena and are the Countess' consort," Phlagaea says. "And even I've heard stuff from the hog-keepers. Did you really cause a hog to fly… and then explode?"
"That wasn't me. It had a bad case of gas," Alptraum claims. Still, he rubs the back of his neck, adding, "I didn't realize people found me terrifying. I don't feel terrifying."
"Well, you aren't… once someone gets to know you," Phlagaea says. "But that's just it; most people just have rumor to go on. And according to rumor, you the Son of Death who eats monsters for breakfast and wears a demon as jewelry on your right hand. I'd correct them if you like, but… well… I'm a Yodhgorphat, and bright green, and dress in bandages and if I touch you your fur falls out and so on and so forth… "
"I mean, you do know how they see their Countess right?" the green bat notes. "Anyone who could be her consort would have to be pretty formidable."
"I could change your fur color temporarily, you know," Alptraum suggests, getting a dangerous idea. Tapping his fingertips together and looking a bit sinister about it, he adds, "And I could arrange for you to appear part of a visiting gypsy clan for a day. You could meet people who wouldn't judge you as a Yodhgorphat, just a gypsy. Instead of fur falling out, they'd only be afraid you could curse them into a frog. Hmmm, not sure that's any better."
"I hear Sylvanians can be funny about frogs," Phlagaea notes, and then shudders. "And changing my fur would be an insult to Gorphat! I can't hide that I'm green, or act… ashamed… " She bites her lip again, wondering if she didn't just do that a moment ago.
"Then I won't change it. But, I may introduce you to some gypsies I know anyway. So people can get to know you," Alptraum comments as he pats Phlagaea's thigh. "Just watch our for HotPants Hexen."
"Hotpants?" Phlagaea asks. "Does he have some sort of burning crotch infection?"
"No, he got that name from the kyootcumber incident," Alptraum explains, grinning.
The green bat looks confused, and asks, "He likes spicy food then?"
"He liked making himself look well endowed, like his 'father'," Alptraum explains, "And someone he knew swapped his usual insert for a spicy kyootcumber… A devious Eeee did that; someone you have met."
"You?" Phlagaea guesses. "And… well, I've only ever really seen you Alptraum; do you mean that men can come in different sizes?"
"Me. And yes, we do," Alptraum admits. "Anyway, Hexen is a childhood friend. We had a competition on who could mess the other one up the most. End result was neither of us had much luck with women."
"So, he's suitable to use as a sacrifice then?" Phlagaea asks, perking up a bit.
"Er, sacrifice?" Alptraum has to ask, brow going up.
"Um, not that I need one or anything," Phlagaea backpedals. "I mean… he hasn't been summoning vermites, right?"
"Of that I can't say," Alptraum admits. "Do you need to summon vermites for something? Or is it you need someone who hasn't for something? If so … what?"
"Nothing that I can think of at the moment," Phlagaea admits. "But if I do meet him and he is obnoxious, I imagine that telling him he'd be a good sacrifice would cause him to back off a little."
"Ask Tulani about him. He hit on her," Alptraum comments, then playfully pushes Phlagaea back down onto the bed and straddles her. "Maybe you should be my sacrifice… "
"But… aren't you tired out from the energy transfer?" Phlagaea asks coyly. "And where have you been tonight? You smell of perfume and Khattas."
"Dealing with a ghost in a brothel. He was scaring the ladies. Interesting clothing those ladies wore, but I think I prefer Babel attire. It's more … exotic," Alptraum explains as he play-pins Phlagaea to the bed. "And no, I'm not too tired from transferring energy." He grins fangily, then starts letting her up, adding, "But … if you're too sore, well, I'll retire to my bed."
"Well… I still have some kinks to work out," Phlagaea notes. "In my muscles! I mean… I need to keep them exercised so they don't cramp again, right?"
"It's always good to stretch regularly," Alptraum nods sagely. "So … maybe we should explore some of the practices of the Yodhinala tonight in order to keep you from cramping up again. There's this one position I've heard Mave describe… " he says, then leans over to whisper the rest in her ear.
"Oooo, I'd like that," Phlagaea says, grinning. "And I'm sure Gorphat won't mind learning something from a Sister."
"Indeed," Alptraum purrs, lips drawing back into a grin. "Gorphat is always welcome to watch … and even participate. Though a third requires a variation on it that goes like… " Again, the Eeee leans down to whisper into Phlagaea's ear. Whatever was said, well … one this is certain; they will both be sore in the morning.