The Dead Inn
The Dead Inn is one of several inns that have grown up in the town surrounding Draco Castle. Like many things in Draco County, it seems to revel in the macabre and gothic. The entrance is carved wood, shaped to look like skeletal Eeee holding up the top frame of the door. Inside everything is dim and shadowy, with proper dribbly candles everywhere. There's even a hunchback Skreek that scurries here and there straightening up the cobwebs and candles as needed. Behind the bar is a shelf that is lined with row after row of glowing bottles. Well, it's a faux glow … there's just a lineup of candles under the glass shelves. The chairs are all carved wood with velvet coverings and a Khatta in historic Sylvanian finery tends bar.
"So … that's when Arkold and I got back from defeating the vampires in the swamp and saving Gunneril Smith's life," Alptraum explains over his second drink. "And they were very appreciative. Gunneril's mother even took Arkold in the back room for some … sewing," he continues, then waggles his eyebrows. "As for me, well … I … ooo … hmmm."
Tulani pauses in the middle of using her tongue to lick out the last, bits of her original drink, a mug of the 'Unending Lust', a dark, thick beer, in order to nod sagely at the Eee, though her head bobs in a tipsy manner as she chuckles at the mention of Arkold's antics. "I had wondered what you guys had been up too while I was gone."
"I, of course, had only the purest intentions," Alptraum insists as he stands up. Leaning down and talking lower, he says, "But right now my intentions are telling me I had better find the bathroom. My drink went right through me. So, uh, be right back!" And with that, the Eeee scurries off.
The black and white Sphynx watches with a grin as the Eeee hurries off, before returning her attention to her mug, fully intending to lick out any remaining residue of her drink, and purring lightly while she's at it.
"Pah, now, why is a lady such as yourself alone in this bar, hmm? Do you too seek a monster? Or … are you a monster?" coos a strange voice from behind Tulani. The voice, as she soon finds out belongs to a Lapi doe. But … not an ordinary one, as she walks around and into her view. Two short, curved horns sprout form her forehead. Cloven hooves instead of the usual large Lapi feet, and the thin spade-tipped tail do a lot to detract from her otherwise Lapi countenance. So does the strappy black leather outfit she wears and the cloak draped loosely over that. While also dark-furred, her face has been dusted ghost-white and 'painted' to make it look rather skull-like. "Haschen Gehornt," she says, offering her hand. "I haven't seen you in here before."
As the Sphynx turns in a rustle of white feathers, she looks the strange not-quite-Lapi up and down curiously with an arched brow, but still presents a friendly smile. A moment later Tulani takes the doe's hand, giving it a firm shake and saying, "Oh, hello there. I must say 'monster' is a rather relative term as I've discovered, and I'm here with a friend actually, but he is 'occupied' at the moment."
The doe grins and she turns a chair around and settles down in it so that she can lean forward against the backrest, her chin resting on the headrest. "Oh, it certainly is. And this place is a haven for those who believe such," she says with a small wave of her hand to the room. "I hope your friend doesn't mind me intruding a bit, but I'm just waiting for my brother to arrive … and it's really boring to just sit and talk to the barkeep. Anyway, are you coming to the Monster's Ball, perhaps? It's one Dagh of a good time. All the best monsters and their victims come."
The Sphynx leans forwards as well, resting her elbow on her knee, and her chin in her hand so that she can examine the does painted face again, now rather close. "Oh, I'm sure he won't mind; he'd probably find you to be interesting company. Where's this Monster's Ball being held? I'm afraid I've not heard of it before." The interest is evident in Tulani's voice as she asks.
"Oh, we hold it every year, but the location has moved as it grows," the doe answers as her hands waft in the air. "But this year we are using one of the larger warehouses. We can set up all the proper rooms for the events, like … scare the sleeper! And we'll even have a dungeon this year," she continues, nearly grinning from ear to ear. "There's even a costume contest for best monster and best victim. Annd … a special grand prize!"
"Ooh, that really sounds like a blast!" Tulani exclaims, her blue eyes sparkling as the demonic looking doe describes the event. "Do you have to bring a victim with you to this party?"
"Ah, yes, yes you do," the doe answers with a short nod, "Every monster must have a victim. Can't have any lonely monsters or victims; that's just no fun for them. " Grinning, the doe winks, then says, "I'm actually a victim this year. People like us Lapis for victims. But … that's why my brother and I have been coming here every day. Neither of us have found a monster yet."
"Though, my brother, curse his tail, has a lead on one," the doe grumbles. "If he finds one and I don't … Oooo!"
Tulani's face falls for just a moment at this new bit of information… she just can't picture Alptraum as a 'victim' and there wasn't really anyone else she could think of… "Hmm… your brother has a lead on a monster? What kind of monster?" she asks curiously before continuing, "My friend might want to go to this ball too, and he'd go as a monster most likely… maybe we could go together with you and your brother since we've never been before? That is, if you don't find someone else who wants to go… "
"We met a Reaper in here the other day. Strange Korv, but, pleasant enough. He told my brother about a possible monster he would find interesting. You see, my brother has this ridiculous fascination with the Babelite cults and has been trying to find someone who resembles Death," Haschen explains, "Well, the Reaper said he knows someone named Alptraum who looks like one of the cult of Sunala. My brother now wants to meet this Alptraum."
"As for going, sure … if you don't mind being a monster. What sort of costumes can you do?" the doe asks as an afterthought.
"Haschen!" says a similar-sounding voice from the entryway. "Do not be giving away my leads!" Another mutant Lapi approaches, nearly identical to the doe save for sporting ram horns on his head. "You are supposed to be out looking for a dragon, aren't you?"
"Pah! I got tired and after walking up and down the streets for the past two hours, I haven't found anyone even remotely resembling a dragon," Haschen calls out to the buck, then sticks out her tongue. "So, I thought I'd take a break and well, I met this nice new person here. She's interested in the Ball."
"I told you to try at the castle, that's where oh, hello," the buck says, breaking off his tirade to bow to Tulani and kiss the back of her hand. "I am Kaninchen Gehornt, it is a pleasure to meet you," he adds, his grin making his own skull-face makeup look out of place.
"Snrk!" Tulani can't help but snort loudly all of a sudden, before breaking down into a fit of soft laughter, "Speak of the devil, that would be my friend your talking about, down to a tee!" she looks between the two Lapi standing there with a broad grin, continuing, "I'll introduce you when he gets back if you wish. And I can easily do a dragon if you want, I would rather favor it actually." As she says this Tulani shifts the collar of her shirt, showing some of her silvery, draconic-shaped scar.
"Oh sure, try at the castle, he says! Like they would let either of us near the place," Haschen all but barks back at her brother … though there is no malice in her voice. She then blinks a few times and gives the Sphynx an odd look. "You know this Alptraum? Could you … talk him into taking my brother?" she asks. She looks about to say more, then spots the scar on her chest and grins widely, adding, "And, and you say you favor dragons?" She reaches out and waggles her fingers in front of Tulani's face, then asks, "Or are you just teasing me? I have been trying for forever to find a dragon escort. I am certain that will win the costume contest this year."
Kaninchen also leans in closer to get a better look at the scar. At least, one would suppose that's the reason.
"Oh, I'm not teasing." The Sphynx says with a small smile, following the finger-wiggle with her eyes, "So long as you don't mind silver I'd love to take you, this ball sounds quite interesting, and I like to look into interesting things." Placing a finger tip to the buck's nose, Tulani calmly pushes his head back a couple inches so he is not quite so close. "And I'll see what I can do about convincing Alptraum to come too. I'm Tulani by the way, I almost forgot to introduce myself properly."
And speaking of the bat, Alptraum comes marching back in, glowering a bit. "Can you believe that they don't have a restroom in this inn? I had to walk almost a mile it seemed like before I found one. And then when I found one, some twit was outside proclaiming himself 'Lord of the Privies' and wouldn't let me in unless I paid a toll," Alptraum grumbles too Tulani as he drops back into his chair. It's right about then he notices the two demonic Lapis. One ear goes sideways and he says, "Uh, hello. Whatever it is, I'm sure we didn't do it."
"Now, why would I mind silver?" Haschen practically purrs at Tulani. "Why … we could be the stars of the ball! Do you know how to dance?"
The buck gapes at Alptraum, and falls to his knees before the bat's chair. "You are perfect! The very image of Death!" he says. "You must be my Monster!"
"These two have been looking all over for you Alptraum. They want you to come to the Monsters Ball or rather Kaininchen does, " Tulani says with a sly grin, gesturing to the now prostrate buck. "He wants to be your victim apparently, and Haschen here is looking for a dragon to come with her." And looking back at the does, the Sphynx notes, "I have had some experience dancing yes not too much, but it was fun certainly."
Alptraum stares at the buck … then at Tulani. "Okay … I missed something here. Who? What? When? Er," he asks, both ears splaying sideways now. He rubs over his eyes a few times, then looks back to the buck. "You're … asking … me … on … a … date?" he sounds out slowly. "But, uh, you're … a guy."
"She's a girl and she agreed to be my dragon-date-monster," Haschen points out and cocks a thumb towards Tulani. "I don't see the problem?"
"Yeah Alptraum! Common, It'll be fun!" Tulani exclaims making big, pouty, begging eyes at the Eee.
"A date?" Kaninchen says, standing up and dusting off his knees. "Hardly anything so… mundane! The Monster's Ball is not about dating, it is about Monsters and Victims! And you are the perfect monster for me, Mr. Alptraum." The buck smiles again, looking a bit like Cryptopher from Worms when he does… just not red.
"Well, you do have a nice smile … grk! What am I saying?" Alptraum says as he pulls his ears down to cover the slight reddening on the dark skin. Looking at Tulani he then waggles a finger at her, "You, I … this is pay back for my mistake at the gypsies, isn't it?"
"Ah, you have preyed upon Gypsies?" Kaninchen asks with interest, spade-tipped tail wagging.
"Oh no Alptraum. I would never do anything like that!" Tulani states with a sly grin, "I just think we both need to get out and have some fun, didn't you say you'd be happy to do something with me?"
"You may dance with other Monsters and Victims if you like," Kaninchen offers. "But for the official events, I must be your Victim. We can swap for the dances even."
"I am a gypsy," Alptraum comments to Kaninchen, "Well, was anyway. Long story." There's a sigh, then the Eeee looks back to Tulani and he asks, "And what you want me to do is go out with this buck to some strange Ball while you take his sister? Granted, he is rather cute … grk." There's another pause, then Alptraum rubs his forehead for a moment. "Do you really want to go?" he asks Tulani quite honestly.
The Sphynx nods enthusiastically in reply and gives the Eee, a soft punch on the shoulder, "Of course! I'm sure it'll be great fun!" Tulani says before smiling softly, "You don't mind do you Alptraum? If you really don't want to go it's okay… "
"Ooo, that's just low," Alptraum grumbles at the Sphynx when she lays on the feminine guilt trip. With a sigh, Alptraum looks back to the buck, then says, "Okay, you have a monster. But! I'll be coming in costume. And, er, there isn't a snogging contest, is there?"
"Of course not," Haschen answers that question, though she does lean over and whisper to Tulani, "But there is a monstrous seduction contest… And that was beautiful … you guilted him right into agreement."
"Snogging?" Kaninchen asks, his ears drooping. "I'm not that sort of Victim, Mr. Alptraum. I know you Eeees can be a little flexible on such things but… "
"Oh, good. That makes me feel better," Alptraum says, looking a bit relieved.
"At least, not without a few drinks in me first," Kaninchen adds, winking at Alptraum.
Tulani can't help but chuckle a little at the Eee before asking the dark doe, "What time is this Monster Ball at? and where did you say it was being held?"
"Merp," goes Alptraum as he stiffens in his chair.
"Well … tonight at midnight," Haschen admits, "We almost had to give up going. It starts at midnight and all monsters and victims are locked in until dawn. As for where, just meet us here around say, half an hour before midnight and we'll just show you? The streets can be a bit confusing."
"Hm, that does still give you some time to perhaps go out hunting and scouting," Alptraum notes to Tulani, "If you still want to go."
"And let us know if you have any allergies," Kaninchen adds.
"Solid food and iron," Alptraum comments, "It's a blood condition."
"He means he's a vampire," Haschen quips with a playful grin. "He'll be popular… But I still intend to win the prize!"
"Yes, we should definitely still go Alptraum, I need a good flight." Tulani replies to the Eee. "I'm not allergic to anything in particular that I know of."
Alptraum nods to Tulani, then glances at her mug. "And you're certain you haven't drunk too much for flying?" he asks.
"Ah, very good," Kaninchen says, still smiling. "My sister and I often have a small wager over whose costume will receive the highest marks in the judging."
"What do you wager?" Alptraum can't help but ask the buck.
The Sphynx lifts a hand and waves it in front of her own face as though testing her eyesight before solidly declaring to Alptraum, "I can see fine, and I can still balance I won't run into any trees… I promise."
"Right, so, we should probably get going to the skies for a bit. Midnight will probably come faster than we want," Alptraum says and stands. He backs right into the hunchback Skreek. The Skreek gives him the 'Evil Eye'; it's a wooden eyeball with the bill impaled on it. And without a word, clears away both mugs from the table.
"Oh, little things," Kaninchen says, rubbing the back of his head and looking at the ceiling.
"Why don't I believe you?" Alptraum asks as he peers at the buck. Absently, he searches in a side-pouch for the shekels to pay for the drinks.
The Sphynx also stands and stretches her back, smiling to the two odd Lapi, "Well, we'll see you just before midnight then, in costume!"
"We look forward to it," Haschen coos to Tulani and Alptraum, then smiles, trying to look all innocent. Rather hard for a demonic Lapi, really.
Alptraum slips his arm around Tulani and leads her towards the door. "You just had to think that Lapi you met in worms was cute, didn't you?" he whispers to her.
Tulani chuckles to Alptraum, looking at the Eeee innocently, "And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Because he's looking cute to me" Alptraum complains in a low voice. "Stupid kenning."
"Well, there are worse things though, aren't there?" the Sphynx replies, sticking the tip of her tongue out at Alptraum.
Alptraum makes a grab for that tongue. "Name one," he dares.
Tulani quickly pulls her tongue back in, replying quickly, "Well, at least your not attracted to that odd Korv, Mort, for one."
"Good point!" Alptraum has to concede. "Now, I just expect you to promise me one thing … "
"Yes?" Tulani quirks her brow, waiting for this expected promise…
"That if it's allowed, I expect at least one dance with you," Alptraum says with a wide grin.
"You're on Alptraum, I'll be sure to save a dance just for you!" the Sphynx replies and even leans over to give the Eeee a friendly kiss on the cheek.
Alptraum catches Tulani's chin in his hand and before she can pull away, he darts a kiss on her lips. The Eeee winks, grins, then says, "Now let's see if you can catch me in the air." The Eeee then jumps back, spreads his wings, and takes off!
Laughing loudly, the Sphynx takes to the air herself in a flash of white wings calling out, "Come back here, you rogue!"