A room in the Gormless Inn
By some unspoken rule, nearly all taverns, roadhouses and inns that provide overnight accommodations in Sylvania have identical rooms. The bed is long and narrow, as is the smoked-glass window, and the primary mode of decoration is carved fretwork that often draws the idea to unwelcome visages. It just isn't a proper Sylvanian bed if there isn't a devil or gargoyle leering from the foot or headboard.
Alptraum slept deeply throughout the rest of the night, dreaming of unicorns and dragons and stranger things. None of it seemed to make any sense or stick in his memory. The final bits of dream involved a dragon licking his nose, but as he started to wake he realized something was licking his nose. Opening an eye, he spots a fuzzy, pig-snouted lizard thing doing the licking, being held there by Lilith. A somewhat bleary looking Tulani can also be seen behind the Eeee. "Wakey wakey," Lilith says. "Breakfast in bed."
"Grargh," mumbles Alptraum and he tries to pull away from the strange lizard thing. "What is that?" he complains tiredly as his somewhat bloodshot eyes ease open. After a few blinks, he slowly pushes himself to sitting up in bed. His right hand from the elbow down is still wrapped in his shirt from last night. "What time is it? I feel like I could have slept for hours more."
"It's nearly noon," Lilith says. "Even Tulani just woke up."
"Given I don't think I fell asleep until three or later, well, it's still too early," Alptraum argues a bit weakly. To Tulani, he says, "Still tired too, eh?"
The Sphynx' a ears flick down slightly, as Alptraum and Lilith speak, dulling the sound as one hand goes wearily to her head… "A word of advice, never agree to a drinking contest that includes those crazy Eeee… What are they called again? Now I remember why mom always drinks tea… " She grumbles faintly looking at Alptraum…
"Yodhblakat. I make it a point not to drink much in general," Alptraum mumbles as he rubs at his eyes with his left hand. To Lilith, he asks, "So, what do I have to do for breakfast? And … does it taste better than it looks?"
"I told Tulani you were turning into a Zelak," Lilith says, grinning. "And yeah, it tastes… uh… warm," is all she's really willing to say about the pig-lizard. "And I brought it for you because I wanted to check up on you."
"So what weirdness is going on now Alptraum?" Tulani asks with the exaggerated quietness of one could hear their own voice ringing in their ears, "Can I have have a look?"
Alptraum makes a face at the comment about becoming a Zelak. He extends his left hand to accept the lizard. "Just for that, you get to unwrap and touch my arm," he teases Lilith. "I'll just happily eat. Or … hm, maybe I should eat before we look at anything," he adds, then glances down at his wrapped arm and takes a moment to think about just how it feels.
Alptraum considers Tulani' question, then just holds out his wrapped up right hand, noting, "Go ahead and look. I'm a bit too nervous to at the moment."
The black and White Sphynx leans down to take hold of the Eeee's bandaged hand and to carefully unwrap it so she can have a look.
The shirt gets caught on protrusions now and then, but finally comes free. The back of Alptraum's right hand and half of his forearm are covered by a shiny, black-and-red chitin gauntlet. Segmented pieces cover the backs of his fingers, with raised spurs over the knuckles and covering the claws as well. On the back of the hand is centered a pale white oval, the size and shape of an eye, surrounded by vein-like bulges that radiate away from it before sinking in the surface. Behind the wrist, the edges and back have small serrated ridges running along them, and an ugly bulge takes up most of the space, with a slit at the back to give the impression of a chitin sheath.
"Well… thats… odd." Tulani says, stumbling slightly when she manages to fully unwrap Alptraum's hand. Blinking, the Sphynx begins examining the odd 'gauntlet' rapping her knuckles on the hard surface and examining the segments before taking a closer look at the 'eye-like' protrusion. "And when did this start to err… 'grow on you'" She asks slowly.
"Except for that eye thing, it's not totally grotesque," Lilith offers.
Alptraum makes a face when the shirt is unwrapped from his arm. "Okay, I'm not sure I'm hungry anymore," the Eeee grumbles. The encased fingers curl and flex slowly, thankful, it seems, that he still retains full movement of the joints. "What in Dagh's name is with the back bit?" he asks and peers at the odd slit. To Tulani, he comments, "Last night, after the mess with the Shadow of Amena. I had to bind it to myself quickly to save Kaira and those still trapped in the knife. This … well, looks like the cost of doing so."
"Whoa, whoa, what happened to Kaira? So your bound to the shadow now? It worked? Are you feeling any odd side effects? How is the feeling in your hand? Do your finger-tips still have sensitivity?" The Sphynx rapid-fires before wincing slightly at the sound of her own voice.
It still feels weird, but everything moves the way it's supposed to on the hand. All things considered though, it's a lucky thing Alptraum is on a liquid diet, or else hygiene would be an issue.
"The Shadow froze her then went on a rampage inside the dagger," Alptraum answers as he goes about testing how much sensitivity he retains in the hand by judicious poking of points on the underside as well as the top of his arm. "The Shadow of Amena itself was undead as it turns out. Not to mention insane. To calm it, I offered it a chance to exist as part of me … and it took it. We formed a union of sorts and it gave me all it had left … which wasn't much. I'm generally fine, other than this and I don't really notice the Shadow's power unless I actually focus on feeling it."
Sensitivity appears normal for the palm and other uncovered parts, although having the material encase the claws makes them feel thicker. "How about strength?" Lilith ask. "Can you hold on to the lizard with it?"
Alptraum shrugs, saying, "Let'ssee." He reaches out and tries to take a hold of the lizard with his right hand.
"What does the shadow's power feel like when you do focus on it?" Tulani asks next with a curious arch of her brow.
"Like a burning ember in the back of my mind, basically," Alptraum answers.
The struggling lizard triggers something in the hand. The fingers clench and dig into it with the chitin-covered claws. Alptraum can feel a disturbingly muscular pumping action in his palm and forearm, and the 'veins' on the back of his hand glow bright, pulsing red. The lizard stops struggling… and then begins to deflate.
Tulani immediately backs up when the Lizard starts to deflate in the Eeee's grip, "Ack… remind me not to shake you by that hand… "
Alptraum gacks and nearly lets go of the lizard. "What in Dagh's name?!?" he says and holds his arm way out. "Okay … now I think I'm going to freak out," he whispers, looking vaguely ill.
"Eeek!" Lilith screeches, and likewise jumps back.
"Try to exert control and drop it!" The Sphynx quickly urges Alptraum.
Alptraum tries to force his grip to release. "Trying!" he says.
It only takes a few moments for the lizard to be reduced to skin and bones, and only when there's nothing left to extract does the grip relax and return to Alptraum's control, dropping the lizard. The veins stop pulsing and the pumping sensation stops as well, but the pale white orb on the back of the hand is now glowing softly. Wherever the lizard's soft tissues went, the Eeee doesn't feel like he absorbed them.
"That's just," Alptraum says as he keeps his armored hand stretched away from him, "Nasty" He sinks a bit down in the bed, looking very ill. "What the heck did it do? Dagh, what am I going to do?"
"Tulani has the Light of Nala," Lilith notes, still bug-eyed. "Maybe she could chop it off… "
"We're not removing my hand," Alptraum says weakly. "Not until there's no other recourse. Dagh, I wish Kaira was here. She might be able to tell me what is going on."
"Maybe that's what the slot is for," Lilith voices, still not coming any closer.
To avoid staring further at Alptraum's hand, Tulani takes the opportunity to lean down and prod the dessicated lizard corpse, seeing if theres any moisture left in it at all… still not looking ups she suggests, "I could go get the light and you could see if you can get Kaira to manifest?"
"For what? The light? Or for Kaira's blade?" Alptraum asks, still looking for all the world like he's ill. "And we have to be careful with the Light till I know how the Shadow will react to it. Which we need to test soon." He fumbles for the dagger with his left hand and once found, tries to slot it into the back of the 'gauntlet'.
Even the minor prodding is enough to cause the lizard to break apart. Skin breaks like a layer of brittle parchment, letting the bones spill out. There doesn't seem to be anything else left to the remains.
"Holy-… There really is nothing left of it but the bones." The Sphynx exclaims softly, "No organs… nothing… "
Not surprisingly, the dagger fits perfectly. The black-and-red dried-blood blade vanishes into the sheath, and for a few moments nothing happens. Then, a tiny, translucent dragon's head appears above the glowing orb on the back of the hand. "Hooo," Kaira's image says in a whispery voice. "This is pretty neat. Did you make this just for me?" she asks, looking at Alptraum.
"Uh, no. I'm not sure what this is. But it's nasty and it ate a lizard just a moment ago," Alptraum babbles and shifts his hand around so Kaira can 'see' the dessicated body. "I was hoping you would know what this is. It eats things!"
"Oh, that, hold on," Kaira says, and the little image vanishes.
"Should we be worried that she thinks it's neat?" Lilith asks.
"You never can tell with her," Alptraum admits with a weak shrug. "Not only is it nasty, it ate my breakfast."
"Well, you did say you'd lost your appetite," Lilith notes, making it sound like it's all Alptraum's fault.
Tulani blinks as the tiny image of Kaira's head disappears and looks over to Lilith, "I don't know, but it is worrisome." then looking at Alptraum she asks next, "So whatever got absorbed only went as far as your hand?"
"Back!" Kaira says, her head floating over the orb again. "Oh, I could hear everything you said too, and see you. This is a 'handy' extension to the dagger. And yes, Tulani, the lizard's life energy is stored in the gauntlet now. It's a battery!"
"Way to make me feel better, Lilith," Alptraum says. To Tulani, he says, "The affected skin is only what actually touched the Shadow in the first place, when we drew it from the sarcophagus. The same part the Shadow tried to zombify in revenge later." Alptraum frowns further at Kaira, noting, "That's all well and good, but hat do I do with it and how can I keep it from hurting my friends? Dagh, I want to be able to hug Lilith, Countess Draco, Phlagaea, Tulani, and others, you know."
"And what is it a battery for exactly?" The Sphynx asks, directing the question towards the image of Kaira.
"Don't worry, as long as I'm plugged in I can tell when you mean to give a vampire hand-shake or not," the dragon-head claims. "And this way, you'll be able to pump some life into a person while transferring souls, just like with Dack! Well, not just like with Dack, but enough to cram a few extras in. And as long as there's some power stored, I can be with you all the time!"
"And what if I want some quiet time with one of my friends?" Alptraum asks and scratches at his neck with his left hand. "And I'm guessing then as long as it has a glow, it's safe enough from what you just said. Maybe I can just super-charge it off the Light and be safe for a long time. Or at least until I can get good enough to shift this back."
"Yeah," Kaira says. "That first time was probably a fluke because it was 'empty'. It shouldn't get hungry as long as there's some charge in it. And you could just take out the dagger for privacy, but have a heart! We don't have much entertainment in here, and having something to distract the inmates with could help out."
Turning to address Tulani, Kaira adds, "And for now, I'd avoid trying to feed it with the Light of Nala directly. Charge up some lizards with it, and let it eat those instead. And boy, you look like you've slept in a dumpster or something, Tulani! Rough night?"
"Sorry, I prefer some privacy," Alptraum growls at the gauntlet. "I'm surprised you're not trying to think of ways to get rid of this thing already. It seems like something you would not want around." He flops back on the bed and looks up at the ceiling, muttering, "I hate my life some days."
"Get rid of it?" Kaira asks. "This thing is great! You don't even have to poke people with the dagger, you can just grab them! And I can keep tabs on you and keep you out of trouble and provide colorful commentary on your day to day activities. Why would you want to get rid of it?"
"Ah… well, there was a drinking contest last night in celebration of getting rid of Dack… and against my better judgment I decided to join in… You just can't beat those crazy Eeee… " Tulani replies to Kaira, looking sheepishly towards the ceiling and carefully rubbing the back of her head with a hand…
"I bet you could touch the Light and get rid of your hangover," the spectral dragon advises. "It should act like an alicorn for that."
"You just answered your own question," Alptraum mutters darkly. "Lilith, maybe your comment about cutting it off wasn't such a bad idea."
"Hmm… I think I'll try that." The Sphynx murmurs when Kaira mentions The Light. "Do you guys mind? I'll be right back, I might think better with a clearer head anyways." Tulani asks of the Two Eeee in the room, ears flicking.
"Well, you do ask her for advice a lot," Lilith notes. "But I suppose having a dragon looking over your shoulder could be a bit annoying."
"Go ahead," Alptraum tells Tulani, "I'm not going anywhere." To Lilith, he says, "Yes, I ask her a few things when it's in areas she would know about. But there are a lot of general little things I do day to day I don't need an observer on. Do you want her around on our date, for example?"
"I'm wonderful company!" Kaira claims, sounding defensive. "Why, Alptraum tried to snog me last night. Oh, and sorry about not foreseeing this, but it isn't dangerous to you so wouldn't have shown up in the examination… "
"Ummm, no, I don't think we need a chaperone," Lilith admits. "But at least you can turn her off."
"Alright, I'll be right back." Tulani says and backs out of the room, presumably to attempt getting rid of her hangover.
"Thankfully, yes," Alptraum agrees as he sits up. "And I kissed you because it was how I had to break the seal on you. Plus I felt bad because it was my fault that you were trapped in the first place," Alptraum argues. "I'm such an idiot."
"Exactly, which is why you need my advice all the time," Kaira notes.
Alptraum whacks his armored hand with a pillow.
"Mmmfurff!" Kaira complains, and winks out.
"It's like having your big sister hovering around," Lilac notes, grinning again.
After a few minutes Tulani returns, looking quite refreshed, and carrying a seccond lizard thing which she offers to Alptraum, "Wow, I can believe that really worked, I can actually think about fish without wanting to throw up… Um, I brought you a second breakfast?"
Alptraum lifts the pillow off, then comments, "I doubt you even felt that." To Lilith he notes, "So … maybe I shouldn't return to Draco County. I just … geh, I'm a monster." When Tulani enters, he smiles to her a bit weakly and says, "Thanks. So, where will you be going once we leave here?"
"Whats this about you being a monster? You certainly are not Alptraum, say that again and I'll smack you." Tulani warns with a roll of her eyes and a slight frown, "Well, I'm thinking about visiting my parents for a bit. You'd be welcome to come if you want but I know you have other plans."
Lilith lifts up Alptraum's armored hand, and hmmms. "It's not that much bigger. A good sized glove should cover it. Or we can glue on matching fur."
"Of course I'm a monster," Alptraum retorts to Tulani. "The kind people put big, spiky collars on and use as weapons or something!" His tone, though, isn't entirely serious … a bit flustered perhaps. To Lilith he says, "I just, gah. I feel like a mess. I will need a glove for it for now, I think. Gluing anything to it would just look silly. Without thinking about it, though, Alptraum's armored fingers curl lightly around Lilith's hand as she holds his.
Lilith freezes for a moment, but then relaxes. After all, the little orb is still glowing.
"See? Even Lilith is afraid of me," Alptraum mutters.
Grinning evilly, Tulani grabs a pillow from the bed and hits Alptraum over the head with it. "I told you I would. And your no more a monster than I am."
"Says the ice dragon," Alptraum retorts and thumps Tulani back with the other pillow. With a glance to Lilith, he comments, "So, I imagine it doesn't look anything like Draco's armor now, does it?"
"The fingers do," Lilith says. "But a real gauntlet wouldn't so skin-tight. You could wear one over it even." Just then, Alptraum can feel the gauntlet sort-of buzz for attention.
The Sphynx takes on a humorous tone replying, "Oooh really? well, I may be a dragon now but that doesn't make me a monster!" and she thumps Alptraum lightly with the pillow in her hand again.
Alptraum looks at the gauntlet. "Yes?" he asks it … right before going down under the deadly pillow assault. "Ack!"
Kaira's head pops up, and she says, "Okay, I take it all back about the starved-for-entertainment bit. I do not want the elves to see their 'savior' losing a pillow fight. So feel free to draw out the dagger. Also, after you finish with that lizard, be sure to feed the leftovers to the gauntlet. And you're going back to Draco too! You promised to try and knock up the Countess, remember?"
" Mwahaha! Beware my evil power over… pillows!" Tulani says grinning.
"Geh, you make it sound terrible. I sacrificed part of myself to try and save the Countess' line. It's not something so trite as 'knocking' her up," Alptraum complains, "But before I remove the dagger, I have a question … does this thing have a mind of its own at all? The fact it took over wasn't good. And … it's not going to spread, is it?"
"I don't think it can spread," Kaira says. "And I didn't notice any sort of control other than yours and that one hunger reflex. I haven't tried to see if I could control any of it either don't see the point in it. And remember, you can cast that Barsunala illusion form, so maybe with a bit of practice you hide the gauntlet with the illusion of your normal hand. Do I have to think of everything?"
The sphynx refrains from making any comments regarding Alptraum and the Countess, though she does suppress a snicker at Kaira's comment.
"I was just asking about what it might do on its own, not about other possibilities," Alptraum points ou with a shrug. "But, it's not a bad suggestion, regardless. Thanks for checking in, at least. And I guess it is useful to be able to summon you easily at times now if I need to. I'll talk to you later." And with that, Alptraum extracts the spirit dagger from the back of the gauntlet.
Nothing changes once the dagger is withdrawn, other than Kaira's head vanishing. The little orb still glows softly, but wouldn't be noticed in daylight.
Alptraum pats the bed, offering that both of the girls sit with him. "I think I'll have breakfast now," he admits and accepts the lizard from Tulani finally. Holding it in his left hand, he bites down into its neck.
"Still don't trust it do you?" Lilith asks, sitting down and pointing to the armored hand. "Going to try to become a lefty?"
Tulani nods and immediately takes a seat at Alptraums offer, running the back of her neck in thought.
After finishing his meal (which is quick as Alptraum is used to doing such), he notes to Lilith, "I can use either hand equally well, actually. Comes with a lot of practice as a kid for sleight of hand tricks and pickpocketing. I'll probably get used to it being different after a bit, but … gah. Phlagaea, Mave, nor Roogi has even seen this yet. That'll be a fun chat. Roogi will probably 'want' it." The limp body of the lizard is transferred to his armored hand and he grips down on it.
It takes a bit of effort to get the draining effect going, possibly because the lizard is already dead. Still, it does start up eventually, along with the disturbing muscle contractions. But at least the hand doesn't burp after reducing the remains to skin and bones.
"That, however, I don't know if I'll ever get used to," Alptraum mutters, "You really don't want to know what that feels like. I … can feel my hand pumping things out of it."
The Sphynx shudders slightly at Alptraums description, "It feels odd being a dragon too… but not that odd."
"Kaira said it can pump 'life' out as well," Lilith says, eyebrows quirked. "I imagine that might be more pleasant feeling."
Alptraum drops the dessicated remains on the floor He then decides to try something … he reaches over and lightly places the armored hand on Lilith's leg. He doesn't squeeze or anything he just … tests if she pulls away from him. "It doesn't go into me, so I don't know. I just feel the action of the pumping, I don't actually get any of it," he notes.
Lilith blinks at the gesture, but doesn't squirm. "Uh, it's warm," she notes. "You aren't trying to put any of that energy into me though, are you?"
"No. I just … well, thank you for not pulling away. So … you aren't afraid of me, even subconsciously," Alptraum remarks and removes his hand. "It actually feels warmer than my normal hand?"
Tulani looks on cautiously, not too worried about what might happen with Kaira assurances, "It could be the extra energy in it." She says at the comment of Alptraum's gauntleted hand being 'warmer.
"You haven't put your normal hand on my leg recently," Lilith notes with a grin. "And yeah, Tulani has a point, there may be some leftover heat from eating or whatever. At least there's no mouth in your palm."
Taking the offer to put his left hand on her leg … he does that. The Eeee then tilts his head towards Tulani, grinning, "You know, with the light … and practice … I might be able to give this to you. How would you like to have an armored hand… ?"
"I think I'd rather have a mouth with a tongue in the palm," Lilith comments. "I could be very discrete when eating then, maybe sneak a bit while petting something. And you can never have too many tongues."
"Ahh… No thank you Alptraum, I think having scales at times already is enough." Tulani replies with a small smile, chuckling.
"No, you wouldn't, Lilith. I should know. The Shadow tried that with me," Alptraum says and makes a disgusted face.
"Maybe a detachable tongue then," Lilith says. "That could be fun."
"Lilith … you're odd," Alptraum comments and shakes his head.
Tulani can't help but full-out laugh now, "I certainly agree with you there Alptraum."
The white-furred, black-haired bat gets up and grins. "I can't let you guys monopolize all of the weirdness," she notes. "And speaking of weird, I need to go talk to Commander Grey about joining the Draco militia."
"So, are the other Eeee still asleep? I imagine Roogi and that group have a really nasty hangover," Alptraum comments. As Lilith gets up to leave, he actually pouts at her. "Oh, I see. Going after the older men. Hmph!"
"I have to do something to earn my expense money, you know," Lilith says, waggling a finger. "And recruiting soldiers comes with a bonus payment. Negotiating with Barba will be the tricky bit, since I can't offer her anything."
"I can try to deal with them, if you like? Or at least plant the suggestion they might like working for Draco and get her to demand it," Alptraum suggests. "I haven't talked to Barba much in a while, anyway."
Standing herself, Tulani stretches, "Barba does seem a bit more… reasonable than most of the others though." The Sphynx says, "I think I need to find a cup of tea."
"I saw Mave up and around, but have no idea where she's gotten off to," Lilith says. "I need to talk to Phlagaea too, so if you run into her first send her my way, won't you?"
"She's the most sane of the group in general," Alptraum says with a nod, standing now too. He pulls on his wrinkled shirt, then haphazardly tucks it into his pants. He then nods to Lilith, noting, "Certainly. Going to try and recruit her for disease control in the swampier areas?"
"And first aid as well," Lilith says, nodding. "The men say she did really well with their scrapes and cuts."
"She's very skilled and has a good heart," Alptraum says with a smile. "Strange, yes, but then aren't we all."
"Of course we are, if we weren't life just wouldn't be as interesting would it?" Tulani quips with a grin.