The constant roar of thunder has been worse than the flashes of lightning, even when arcs of electricity leap from the raw iron walls of the cave to ground themselves in Alptraum's skin. Occasionally the wind shifts and blows icy water or hail directly into the cave, but otherwise there is little to mark the passage of time: the sky is dark and lightning-lit, the wind howls non-stop, and it is impossible to get any rest.
Alptraum doesn't know how long he's been here in the cave. After hearing Vorgulremik's voice coming from his own throat, the Eeee can't remember what happened next. It's as if he's been in this cave all along and only dreamed his other memories.
Part of the Eeee is playing everything was just a bad dream caused by slipping into the dagger. Slowly, he sits up from the cold floor and peers about the cave. Heart pounding, he also takes a moment to look to his right arm. The nausea that rolls in his stomach is unsettling; he hasn't felt this terrified in a long time.
Aside from a few electrical burns, the Eeee's arm is normally furred and not at all emaciated.
Alptraum lets out a long breath as he rubs his right arm almost lovingly. "Glad to have you back," he tells it. The tingling pain from a few of the burns tells the Eeee he should get away from the entrance. So … drawing in a deep breath, he heads deeper into the cave. "All right, I just home nothing else nasty is hiding down here… Especially you, Vorgulremik… " he thinks.
"I don't have to hide in the cave, Alptraum," comes the familiar, hollow voice in the Eeee's head. "I'm right here in your mind, always. Do you like the cave? I was born in it. Thought it would help us understand one another better."
"How the hell are you in my mind? What do you want from me? If this is. … then I have lost my right arm. You realize when they find my body the Yodh will likely kill me… " Alptraum thinks, trying to sound braver than the churning of his stomach indicates. "And no, I don't care too much for this cave. Too much lightning outside, burns."
There is something further on in the cave: a smell of rotting flesh. "Everyone thinks you are just fine, Alptraum," the voice of the dragon comments. "You're getting close to my mother now, I believe."
"How can everyone think I am fine? I killed Roogi and my right arm has rotted!" Alptraum practically screams in his own mind. When the smell of rotting flesh hits his nose, the Eeee gags and covers it. The urge to continue on is strong, though … so the Eeee keeps walking. With each step, the sense of doom grows.
The light is dim this deep into the cave, but the walls are slick enough to cause the lightning flashes to reflect. And when lightning strikes the mountain, arcs of electricity light up the tunnel as well, as they do now. The strobing light reveals a dead steel dragon with its abdomen burst open. "My kind doesn't lay eggs. They'd never survive in this environment," Vorgulremik explains.
Alptraum engages in a bought of dry heaves at the sight of a dragon with her abdomen burst open. "Gods, you eat your way out?" he thinks, ears almost turning green. Breathing only through his mouth, he slowly approaches the dead dragon. "How can you kill your own mother! It's not like how I was born! Not at all! I had to be cut out … because she was already dead."
"We have that in common then, Alptraum," the dragon notes. "My mother was also dead by the time I was birthed. As for your other questions… well, I suppose I could show you, if you'd like to leave the cave."
"Why do you even show this? Why do you care if I understand you?" Alptraum thinks as he turns and slowly walks back towards the entrance. "With all the horrors you've done in your life, why does anything matter to you at all?"
"I'm the last of my kind, Alptraum," Vorgulremik says. "And my current circumstance requires me to… adapt. I could do that better with your aid."
"Didn't you make yourself the last of your kind? Didn't you kill all the others?" Alptraum thinks as he now approaches the entrance to the cave.
"Only most of them," Vorgulremik clarifies. "The problem is that I need an immortal dragon host in order to reincarnate. So I must make do with what I have available now. Which is you, Alptraum bar Reisender."
Alptraum slowly steps outside the cave. "What do you mean … host?" he thinks, "That does not sound healthy for me in the slightest."
"Just a moment," the dragon says. "I'm arranging for us to talk face-to-face. You might feel a slight dying sensation."
"Won't be the first time tonight," The Eeee thinks grimly.
The transition is harsh. When Alptraum's senses return, he finds himself in a familiar setting; in fact, it looks just like the cabin he had on The Princess of Stygia during his first voyage to Babel. What is not familiar is that his wrists and ankles are bound to the corners of the bed, and… he can't feel his wings, among other things. Something is wrong with his hearing as well.
The room is lit by the flaring of a match, and then a lamp. The lamp is carried by a black Eeee with silver eyes and white hair. "Hello, Alptraum," the Eeee says, in a voice Alptraum has heard all his life.
"What is going on?" Alptraum demands as he thrashes for a moment on the bed and pulls against the bindings on his wrists and legs. "What the hell have you done to me? Get out of my body, now! What am I in?"
"Not what, but who," the Eeee replies, and sits on the bed next to Alptraum. He reaches over and gives a squeeze to something that Alptraum has never had as part of his chest before. "Ravenia is a wonderful medium."
The hand that does the squeezing shows no signs of having withered.
Alptraum's eyes twitch. "You put me into a woman," he, or rather, she growls. Which sounds father funny coming from a semi-human. After several angry draws of breath … she asks, "So, you completely took over my body? Where are we going and just what do you want from me?"
"We're going to Babel of course," Vorgulremik says, and doesn't remove the hand. "And I quite like your body. It is… fragile, but it has such wonderful compensations. You and I are going to be the next Sabaoth, Alptraum. The whole world will bow down to us, in time."
"You and I? I don't exactly see us in the same body," Alptraum comments drolly. "And you're actually praising an Eeee. Interesting. What aspects of it have you … liked?"
"And you can take your hand off my … breast," Alptraum manages out very slowly, as if saying it seems wrong on many fundamental levels.
The Eeee grins. "Well, the capacity for lust, among other baser urges," Vorgulremik says, and begins to undress the restrained woman. "We're going to be very close, Alptraum, one way or another. Nobody expects anything… but if you misbehave, I'm sure I can arrange for another unfortunate accident to befall one of them. Like poor Arkold. Such a tragedy… but you don't want to hear about that, do you?"
"What did you do to him? Alptraum again growls, glaring at the Eeee. The sinking feeling of knowing what Vorgulremik may be intending is … extremely disturbing, but Alptraum isn't about to give him the pleasure of knowing it. "And what do you mean by misbehave? Are you going to let me take back over my body?"
"Why would you want to take it over?" Vorgulremik asks, running claws over bare skin. "After all, I'm indulging it in all of the things you wanted to do, but didn't get to. You always wanted to make love to Ravenia, didn't you?"
"I wanted to. I haven't wanted to make love to myself. I'm not that vain," Alptraum snaps at Vorgulremik. "Are you trying to tell me you intend to leave me in … her? As what, your lover?"
"Oh no, this is just a temporary visit," Vorgulremik notes. "Ravenia can't know it ever happened. And don't worry, I will return your body fully to you when I'm finished with it. Once we reach Babel, and claim your birthright, I will be in a position to remake my own body once more. And then, you'll be rid of me. I promise not to destroy the world until after you've died, even. Very generous of me, I think. You can even have Rosalind come be your wife if you like. Everything you could ever want."
"Not everything," Alptraum counters, "You can't even begin to really understand the things I want. So, what do you intend to do with me in the meantime? Keep me locked away inside?"
"I need your memories, your personality, and other aspects," Vorgulremik notes, and starts nibbling on Alptraum-Ravenia's throat. "It can be nice, or… I could just keep you in that cave forever. Or what seems like forever. The choice is yours."
"And just how am I supposed to give you my memories and personality?" Alptraum-Ravenia asks as she jerks her head and neck away from the Eeee. Well, as far as she can anyway.
The Eeee pulls back a bit, and says, "Willingly would be best, but… it isn't necessary. I need the Barsunala, and it would save time if I didn't have to force your will."
"So, you took my body, but you couldn't take that aspect of me. That does put you in a bad spot," Alptraum-Ravenia says, momentarily smiling at one small victory. "If I cooperate and willingly allow you access to that … does it mean we will merge into one being?"
"No, we will not," Vorgulremik notes. "I would never allow that." He starts doing things now things that Alptraum remembers learning from Mave.
Alptraum-Ravenia tries to think on anything other than what Vorgulremik is currently doing. "What, then?" she asks as the ropes creak when the woman tries to move away each time the Eeee tries something. Even in this strange body Alptraum tries to feel, to find the cool touch of the Barsunala, trying to find something of himself that would be … familiar.
It's barely there, but… blocked. As if it were in a different room, like when Alptraum visited Nala. Perhaps it is at least partly bound to his physical body as well as his spirit. "Hmmm, you know that the squirming just adds to the excitement," Vorgulremik notes. "Once I have harnessed the true potential of the Light of Nala, you will be free to live your life as you see fit."
"Be glad I can't kick you right now," Alptraum-Ravenia mutters and certainly doesn't quit trying to avoid the attentions of … well, the former body. "What will happen to me while you are seeking to control the power of the Light?" the elf-human inquires. "Shoved to the side, I expect."
"You can be made quite comfortable, Alptraum," the Eeee-dragon promises. "Or not. I am not limited in what I can provide, unlike Kaira. You are a part of my universe now, and in it I am god."
"Can I keep an eye on you to make sure you are no abusing my body?" Alptraum-Ravenia asks.
"You don't trust me?" Vorgulremik asks, taking hold of Alptraum's borrowed jaw to turn 'her' face to him. Then he kisses her! "You'll come to trust me, in time. Maybe even love me like a brother, Alptraum. But… I don't feel like talking now."
Alptraum-Ravenia visibly shivers during the kiss. "Ugh, that's how it feels when I kiss someone?" she can't help but think. "No, I don't," 'she' answers honestly when 'her' mouth is finally free. "And if what I feel against Ravenia's leg is what I think it is, no, I don't suppose you do," 'she' adds, trying to not look completely horrified and give Vorgulremik that pleasure as well. "Then you had better be good, because I know what that body is capable of doing, and for how long. I'll … consider your offer. I can't exactly answer you now if you're going to… " 'She' lets it trail off there, white brow arched delicately.
"Don't worry," Vorgulremik growls, sounding a bit more draconic again. "You're going to enjoy this more than me, whether you want to or not." He reaches over to the table next to the bed, and brings back a little bottle, which he dangles in front of Alptraum-Ravenia's nose. "Mave gave me this. I'll probably have to unbind your legs at least after you take it, to keep you from hurting yourself… "
"I really hate you," Alptraum-Ravenia says softly when the recognition of what the bottle is hits. "And good luck getting me to drink that… "
"Oh, you don't have to drink it," Vorg says, and waggles his eyebrows suggestively. "There are more direct ways to apply it, if you'd rather not drink it."
"Putting it that way, I think I would rather drink it," Alptraum-Ravenia admits, though 'she' doesn't look too pleased about it. "Why don't you drink some yourself if you want to also enjoy it?"
"Oh, I'll enjoy it regardless," the hidden dragon claims. "Now, open wide," he says, and then makes opens his own mouth and goes 'ahhhh.'
"You are already enjoying this far, far, too much," Alptraum-Ravenia thinks, then does as asked. She opens her mouth and goes 'aaah'. Trying not to think too much on how that stuff might feel when it acts, 'she' focuses on instead how odd it feels to not have a muzzle, nor fangs. Everything feels so … short.
The liquid goes down easily, as Vorgulremik empties the small bottle into Alptraum's throat. It has that familiar warmth, and other effects although with an understandable twist to them.
Alptraum-Ravenia's throat ripples as the liquid is swallowed down. 'Her' eyes blink several times as the tingling and other 'spacing' effects begin to take hold. The last thought that comes before the ability to think disappears into a cloud of baser animalistic thoughts is, "I can't believe I've become Vorgulremik's … lover. I fear what I might promise him while under … this … smells good… "
The potion brings about the familiar euphoria, and Alptraum loses all sense of place and ego within it, unsure of where he or she ends and Vorgulremik begins. It's always exhausting, and sleep, when it comes, comes hard.
Thoughts return slowly to Alptraum-Ravenia as the potions effect passes and sleep approaches. First is of how much everything hurts; particularly the 'new' parts. Secondly, she vaguely notices the black Eeee 'she's curled up against, arms wrapped around his chest as if in a lover's embrace (he must have released 'her' some time during the long hours… ). The next thoughts that follow right before the welcome void of sleep takes hold are even more disturbing. For the briefest moment, 'she' things that perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to be a willing partner with Vorgulremik. But, before that thought can go further, darkness descends hard on the elf-human, sleep granting a reprieve from the dragon's evil for now.