It has almost become routine: pole the skiff down the canal to the next landing, moor it, go through the heavy door and into the chalk mine. The difference this time is that they have an invitation, of sorts. For Miranda, Zahn and Amelia there aren't any surprises. For Liliana, on the other hand, the journey may seem a claustrophobic nightmare Eeee aren't uncomfortable in caves, generally, but being this far underground with no way to fly to safety can get on one's nerves.
When they reach the grand junction room, with its tunnels going off in all directions, they are greeted by a small black rabbit waiting at the mouth of a tunnel that (as best as can be reckoned) heads south the opposite direction of the tunnel that eventually leads to Buffy's lair.
"I don' know how vou kin stand to be down here for long," Liliana mutters, her wings pulled tightly around herself. "De echoes and low ceilings are no' good."
"It's not so bad," Zahnrad says with a shrug, then pauses to rub his shoulders a bit, thankful to not be carrying the heavy pack for the moment. It currently sits at his feet. "Though, is it really a good idea to be down here and trusting that vampire?"
Amelia looks at the bat, and then shrugs. "I don't mind tunnels. I guess we're supposed to follow the bunny?" she says, turning from Lili to Miranda at the end.
"Don' look at me. I dunno about any black bunbuns," the Eeee comments.
Miranda holds Liliana's hand warmly throughout the walk to the junction tunnel, trying to ease some of the Eeee's discomfort. "I've been living in tha warren all my life Lili, tho it doethen't bother me tho much," the Lapi sates before looking at the black bunny. "Are you in there Buffy?"
The handholding helps, but only so much, really. Liliana's normally wide red eyes tend to stay as slits most of the time.
"Hi Miranda," the bunny says, somewhat squeakily. "This tunnel leads to an old well. I can't really go far enough to be sure, because it's outside the chalk, but I think there are some bits of your old clothes there. Who is your friend with the red eyes?"
"The last time I heard a bunny talk was when I was hit in the head with a broken drive shaft two summers ago," Zahn confides to Amelia. "It kept telling me to zoop de foobedyfoob."
"Did you zoop it?" Amy asks Zahn.
"I have no idea what a foobityfoob is," Zahnrad admits. "I figured it was some Lapi thing."
"Okay, thith ith Liliana tha gypthy, Buffy. Thee wanted to meet you. I think Morgan mentioned her to you briefly?" Miranda says to the little black rabbit.
Liliana's brow goes up. "Dat de vampire?" she asks and goes to kneel before the small bunny and peer at it. "I thought it vas bigger."
" Thath justht a Thylvanian bunny Lili, Buffy is controlling it," the gray Lapi states, smiling at the Eee.
"Yeah, I'm here to lead Amy and Zahn to the well," the bunny confirms. "If you want to meet me, then Miranda can bring you to my lair."
"I be here to make sure vou no a threat t' my bun," Liliana asserts and stands up.
"Her bun?" Zahn whispers to Amelia. "Since when?"
"I thought she was Buffy's friend," Amy says, shrugging.
Miranda smiles apologetically at the black bunny when Lili speaks. "Tho you don't mind if I bring Lili to thee you then? Thee's jutht being cautiouth," the Lapi interjects.
"Well, Amelia and I should get to the well and check it out. It may take some time to secure some climbing lines, depending on how strong the surrounding walls are," Zahnrad notes, speaking up a bit. "Plus, we can look for any signs of Lapi activity."
"I don't mind," the bunny says. "I'm curious about her, since a part of her was in you when we last met. Bring her along to my place, while I have the bunny lead Amy and Zahn the other way."
Liliana looks towards Miranda and arches a brow, one eye brighter than the other momentarily. "Uh, vhat did vou two do vhen you came here last?" she asks Miranda.
The black bunny turns and hops down the tunnel a ways, then stops and waits for the Kadies to follow. "You be careful, Miranda," Amelia says. "Don't let Lili corrupt Buffy."
"Hmph," Liliana says with a snort, "Jus' vhat is dat supposed to mean? I kiss vou once an vou ack like I be all evil!"
Zahnrad's tail suddenly puffs out. "Woah, wait. Liliana kissed you?" he asks Amelia, wide-eyed.
"She kisses lots of people," Amelia says to Zahn. "You've kissed me too!"
"She hasn't kissed me," Zahnrad points out.
The gray Lapi arches an eyebrow right back at the Eeee, replying, "We met and talked latht time, after Buffy finithed her dramaticth, Lili. Tha'th pretty much it." Miranda gives the Eeee's hand a small tug in the direction of the vampire Lapi's lair. "Good luck Amy, Thahn."
"Well, do you want her to?" Amelia asks Zahn, giving him a serious look.
Smirking, Liliana saunters over. She grabs Zahnrad and pulls him forward, snogging him quite firmly. When she releases, she says, "Dere, now I have. Ta!" And with that, Liliana goes with Miranda.
"Buh," Zahn says, looking confused. "What just happened?"
"Never mind, let's follow the bunny, Amy says, heading after the guide rabbit.
"Right, follow the black rabbit," Zahnrad says dumbly and nods his head.
As the Lapi and Eeee start walking down one of the tunnels Miranda takes a moment to caution Liliana, "Now, I need to let you know, Buffy'th lair ith a bit… odd. Thee liveth in the chalk catacombth where our anthethtorth are buried and hath done thome… creative redecorating… "
"It kin be any odder den de things I've seen before," Lilana says to Miranda and pats her hand. "How veird kin it be?"
Miranda just squeezes the Eeee's hand softly and leads on.
Bones in the walls. Bones in the ceiling. Bones used to make chandeliers and chairs and tables. Clusters of Lapi skulls, femurs and pelvises set in decorative patterns. And on one macabre table, a flute rests also carved from a Lapi thighbone. Light comes from glowing crystals in the chandelier, as well as from fat, dribbly candles held by skeletal hands.
"Hello again, Miranda," says the black Lapi sitting at the table, her tattered, cobweb-reinforced wedding dress rustling slowly in a phantom breeze. "And welcome to you as well, Liliana," she says to the bat. "Forgive me for not having anything to offer you to eat or drink."
"Iffin I need a snack, I gots Miranda here," Liliana says with a fangy smirk. The bat then can't help but look around the rather disturbed decor. "Okay, glad vou varned me," she admits to Miranda.
"She hasn't actually fed on you now, has she Miranda?" Buffy asks the Lapi girl.
Though she's seen it before, Miranda's steps still falter slightly as she enters the bone ridden lair, before recovering to smile at the black Lapi. "Nithe to thee you again Buffy. Ah, no, thee hathen't, Buffy."
Folding her hands into her lap, the vampire Lapi primly asks, "So then what is all this about you being her bunny?"
"Yet," Liliana notes, releasing Miranda's hand. She walks over and leans against the table near Buffy. If Liliana had visible irises, they would probably be flexing as the Eeee looks over the undead Lapi.
Buffy turns to look up at Liliana's face, and comments, "Cute horns."
Liliana grabs at her forehead quickly. Finding nothing, she comments, "Dat no funny."
Miranda also walks over after the Eeew, noting with a wry smile, "Lili'th a bit pothethive I think. Hornth? You have hornth Lili?" She blinks a couple times, "Why doethen't that completly thurprithe me?"
"I do not!" Liliana says quickly.
"They're intangible right now, but they are there," Buffy notes, grinning.
Liliana huffs loudly and crosses her arms over her chest. Trying to look offended doesn't last very long in the end. "So, vhat kin vou see?" she ends up asking.
"All sorts of things," Buffy says, and leans her elbows on the table to prop up her chin. She gazes at Lili with glowing red eyes and explains, "I see into this world and the spirit world, and you have a very exotic looking spirit, I must say. I imagine some of it must shine through, even if mortals can't see it."
"Vell, only if it be encouraged to," Liliana admits, then shrugs. "I kin thank my parents fer dat. Dey jus' had to indulge in things in places dat harbored, vell." Shrugging, the Eeee adds, "At leas' I guess it vouldn' freak vou out. Vou no exactly normal."
"Normality is very rare, I've found," the black Lapi notes, wiggling her ears.
"Aroun' here in any event," Liliana notes as she looks around the room again. "Do vou ever get lonely down here?"
"Oh, of course I do," Buffy admits. "Why, I often have to resort to talking to my own shadow," she says, gesturing to the shadow on the wall, which waves back. The odd indirect lighting of the place doesn't seem to cast any other shadows, however.
"I kinda expected vou to be, vell, vorse," Liliana admits as her red eyes move back to the vampire, after pausing on the waving shadow. "But, vou kinda remind me of some of my relatives, really. Dey no be Lapi, o' course. I always thought vour kin' vould feel, vell, evil."
The black doe smiles, showing sharpened incisors that put mere fangs to shame. "Well, up there, on the surface, I probably would be a monster. But down here there is magic to sustain me, so that I need not suck the spirits of others. A little blood now and then lets me keep my body as well," she explains.
"So, down here … vou kinda like me, den," Liliana admits, "Need blood for de body an dat's all." She extends her hand to the doe, saying, "I kinna said a few bad t'ings about vou up dere vhen I hear' about vou. I vant to say I sorry."
Miranda has been peering at Lili a bit during the conversation, as though trying to see the Eeee's invisible features. "Tho you do have hornth Lili? I can't thee them… But I'm thure they look cute on you." The gray Lapi smiles in a pleasant manner as the taller Eeee apologizes to Buffy.
Buffy takes Lili's hand, and rubs the back of it with her thumb. "Maybe we can give Miranda a look at the inner you then?" the black doe asks, smiling.
Liliana's entire body seems to ripple momentarily. The Eeee pulls her hand back quickly, clutching it with her other one. "I don know," Liliana says with a shake of her head, "I rather no freak out Miranda."
Standing up, Buffy moves to the center of the cathedral, and holds her hand out towards Lili. The vampire's shadow takes up the bone flute, and actually starts to play a somewhat melancholy tune. "Now now, don't you trust her? Come and dance with me. I hear you are a good dancer."
Arching an eyebrow at Liliana, the gray Lapi looks around in a pointed manner, up and down… side to side… and then says, "I'm in a cavern full of boneth with two vampireth… It would be a bit hard to freak me out at tha moment Lili, I think."
"Vell, vou haf been varned, den," Liliana notes to Miranda with a weak smile. The Eeee then walks out into the center of the room with Buffy, her hips swaying slowly from side to side. Her hand comes up and thin fingers extend, then curl around Buffy's. Again, that ripple passes through? No, over, the Eeee. "So, vou leads?" she says with a playful, and probably a bit nervous, grin.
Buffy smiles, and leads as requested, twirling with Lili across the floor. A century or so has taught the vampire doe how to control her magic fairly well, so that she can restrict the flow to just a trickle for now. She also sings as she dances with the Eeee.
Kiss me mother, kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary, let me rest
Miranda seats herself where the vampire Lapi had been a moment before, watching the two dance and half wishing she had her violin, then she could play along.
The sight is probably not one many, if any, have ever seen before. A living and a dead vampire gliding across the 'dance' floor. As is her nature, Liliana draws in close to the Lapi, their bodies moving and swaying in perfect timing, almost like a swirling cloud of black and red. There are times when it's even hard to tell where the Lapi ends and the Eeee begins. That strange shimmer flows out over the Eeee again, and this time it stays.
Buffy lays her head on the Eeee's shoulder, taking advantage of the closeness, and continues her song.
Seems the light is swiftly fading
Darker scenes they do now show
I am standing by the river
Demons wait to take me home
The one normal character in the room leans on her hand, the gray Lapi watching the almost hypnotic swirl and flow of the dance, swaying slightly with the music.
As the two dance, one of Liliana's hands comes up to rest lightly on the back of the Lapi's neck. When they pass near Miranda, she notices something different. The once solid red eyes of the Eeee have each 'split' down the center with thin lines of black, like those of a serpent. And instead of black claws, the tips are now red and the color is creeping back along the nails.
Kiss me mother, kiss your darlin'
See the pain upon my brow
While I'll soon be with my lover
Fate has doomed my future now
Through the years you've always loved me
And my life you've tried to save
But now I shall slumber sweetly
In a deep and lonely grave
Buffy still leads, edging Liliana up against the altar-sarcophagus where she sleeps.
Miranda blinks quickly as the Eeee starts to change and leans forward a bit, brow wrinkling.
Liliana goes back against the altar behind her. If the Eeee realizes what she's against, she doesn't seem to care at least, apparently caught up in the dance. She arches her head back, her eyes closing. This time it's the Eeee's body which changes. Her normally thin and fairly sleek form draws in in places and expands in others, taking on a definitely more 'feminine' shape. Her curves now more closely match the Lapi she's dancing with, in fact.
Dropping a hand down, Buffy catches Lilith behind her knees and scoops her up, only to lay her on the altar.
Kiss me mother, kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary, let me rest
I am weary… let me rest
The music stops, and Buffy leans over Lilith to give her a kiss, pouring in enough magic to complete the Eeee's transformation.
That certainly gets Liliana's attention and the Eeee's eyes snap open. Her hands come up and she holds Buffy in that kiss. Without the movement, Miranda can see the final changes. Two small, curving horns slide out from the Eeee's forehead, perhaps two inches long at the most. Her feet draw up, claws scraping along the surface of the altar … only the scraping falls away to a clicking as those normally grabby toes pull in, forming two cloven hooves, complete with tufts of fetlock fur. And when Liliana finally releases the Lapi and shifts a bit to the side, her snakelike black tail with its blood-red spade tip drapes over the edge. The tips of the Eeee's wing-bones also now end in talons and that red fur dye of hers looks more natural, as if it was her coloration.
Turning to look at Miranda now, Buffy says, "So, what do you think? Does it match her personality?"
The former Eeee blinks a bit as her senses return. Slowly, she sits up on the stone altar. Yawning a bit gives Miranda a glimpse at one other interesting difference; she has a forked tongue now.
Unable to help herself, Miranda stares openly at the spectacle on the alter, though it's abit hard to tell how she feels about it. She does seem a bit awed perhaps, as the Eeee yawns. " Umm… Yeth, it definetly fitth … " the gray Lapi says as she turns her head sideways a bit to look at Liliana.
Sitting next to Lili, Buffy leans her head against the woman's shoulder, and asks, "Now, how long should we keep her like this though?"
Apparently, the Eeee is still feeling the effects of the dance. She cups her hand under Buffy's chin and kisses her again. When she finally pulls herself away, she shakes her head from side to side. "Geh, I forgot how I feel like dis," she mutters, her legs swaying and hooves tapping against the altar. "Mom an dad jus' had to frequent dat place where all de spirits of vice dvell, didn' they?"
"I like them already," Buffy laughs, and winks to Miranda. "You could always tell people she is your pet succubus."
The insides of Miranda's ears blush at the suggestion… "Oh… I don't think I could do that. But Lili ith thertainly thtill very pretty in thith form… and I'm thure that tongue ith good for kithing… " The gray Lapi claps a hand over her mouth just as the last comment comes out.
"Vell, guess vou kin, cuz vou no some … oh," Liliana starts to say, then stops and changes subjects. "It almost cost dem dere child in de end. I mean look at me. If I ever go t' dat place m'self, it be a good chance I stay like dis."
Buffy nudges Liliana's back, and says, "Well, aren't you going to go kiss her now?"
Grinning a bit, Liliana extends one of her hands and curls one of those blood-rep tipped claws repeatedly, indicating for Miranda to come over. As an aside to Buffy, she asks, "Vou couln' keep me dis vay indefinitely, righ? Vou jus' jokin?"
Still blushing faintly Miranda scoots over near Lili, smiling shyly at the Eeee's new form, "Your even more exotic now Lili."
"Well, that depends," Buffy says, smiling. "But, since the magic is from me, I can always take it back and reverse the transformation."
Liliana hooks a claw into Miranda's shirt collar and pulls the Lapi in for that kiss demonstration. A very very long and rather exotic kiss demonstration. Eventually she does release Miranda to let the poor Lapi recover. "An if you don' take it back, how long it last?" she asks Buffy.
The dark doe shrugs. "No idea, I've never dealt with this before. How long does it usually last?"
"Vell, de last time vhen I bit Morgan, it lasted like a veek," Liliana notes, "An dat vas probably less magic den vou used." Shrugging a bit, she adds, "I kinna freaked out de first time. Parents never varned me dis might happen. Morgan, he … vell honestly he rather enjoyed it."
The gray Lapi doesn't resist the kiss, but certainly looks stunned afterwards, almost falling on her behind when she is released… "Wow… " is all she can say for a moment, before giggling and sitting down on the edge of Buffy's altar-coffin.
"Ah, you must have gotten some of his spirit then," Buffy says, and taps Lili on the nose with a finger. "You must be a fairly pure-blood vampire then, from the original source."
"Both me parents are vampires, an so vere dere's," Liliana says with a shrug, then tries to playfully nip that finger. She starts leaning towards Buffy, then stops herself and sticks out her tongue. "Okay, kin also see another side effect of vour magic, I haf dis urge to 'serve' vou an make vou feel less lonely, heh," she comments, amused.
"Well, that's normal," Buffy says. "If you'd bitten me it'd be worse, but it will pass when I suck it all back out again."
"Aww, don vant me to try an chase away de lonelies?" Liliana teases Buffy playfully, then winks.
Miranda finally finds her way out of her daze to grin and comment, "Lili'th quite good at that Buffy."
"Well… " Buffy says, getting a sly look… for a moment, anyway. "I'm tempted, but it wouldn't be healthy for you," she finally says.
Liliana tilts her head. "How no healthy?" she asks.
"Well, I'm undead, and you are not," Buffy points out. "At least, you aren't at the moment, but you would be before too long."
"Only iffin vou bit me," Liliana points out.
"Exposure to my magic for any extended period will have the same effect," Buffy notes, then grins. "Unless you really want to become a serious vampire."
"Vell, in dat case I jus' haf to get Miranda here to chase away vour lonelies. I kin advise," Liliana says with an evil grin towards Miranda.
"I would prefer to keep things within the family," Buffy admits, winking to Miranda. "And I look forward to composing with Miranda."
Miranda eeps slightly at the suggestion of getting rid of the vampire's 'lonelies' before smiling and nodding more enthusiastically at the suggestion of composing. "I'll be thure to bring my violin next time I visit!"
Liliana seems to remember something. "Oh, vait, I kin help wit' vour lonlies," the Eeee says and reaches over to tap on Buffy's nose. "I seem t' remember Miranda said vou might be interested in a little fur dyin'?"
"Well, yes," Buffy admits. "I mean, black is nice and all, but after awhile you crave some color," she says, and gestures around at her living space which is, obviously, almost entirely white with some black. There isn't any color aside from Buffy's own red eyes.
"Vell, vhat vould you like?" Liliana asks, "I kin manage pretty much anythin' with de right amount of time." She gets up, then actually scoots Miranda over to sit next to Buffy (apparently she's stronger in this form). Encouragingly, she even lifts up Miranda's arm and drapes it onto Buffy's shoulder, making them practically nosetip to nosetip. "Play nice vhile I gets me bag," she teases with a wink.
Miranda does a small double-take, but smiles and moves her arm into a more comfortable spot on Buffy's shoulder, chuckling embarrassedly.
"What would you suggest?" Buffy asks Miranda. "My own tastes are likely to be somewhat out of style."
Liliana saunters away, hips, tail and body swaying seductively as she goes. The Eee is incorrigible.
"Thomething lively and organically thhaped would look good on you Buffy! And jutht about any color goeth with black," the gray Lapi notes.
"Organic?" Buffy muses. "Like… plants? Flowers? I can hardly remember what flowers looked like."
"Flowerth would be quite beautiful, or a thtyalized butterfly on your back maybe?" Miranda suggests.
"I think she vill vant to see it," Liliana notes as she comes back over with her bag. "Kin I make a suggestion?"
Buffy turns her head to look at her back. It's a bit disconcerting, since she can turn her head all the way around to do it. She spins back to look to Lili, nodding and saying, "Of course."
"Vell, dat vas odd," Liliana comments when Buffy spins her head. Sitting on the edge of the altar, she says, "Vell, I be thinkin' perhaps some thorny green vines that end wit white flowers ridged in red dat crawl along vour arms and legs. For vour back, I coul' maybe do a Creen resting on one of de vines. See, de vay I see it, vou be dangerous since vou be a vampire … so de thorns. But de flowers an bird still show someone vho vant to try to still live, even if vou cannot be free, vhere de vines symbolize dat vou are bound here. Jus' an idea, anyvay."
Miranda looks distinctly unsettled when Buffy spins her head, especially being so close.
"Ooo, very symbolic," Buffy notes, nodding. "The undead are very big on symbols, you know. It sounds perfect."
"Vhy are de undead big on symbols?" Liliana asks as she starts pulling out her pile of supplies.
Buffy holds her hands up in a 'who knows?' gesture. "We're creatures of magic, and what is magic but power and symbols?"
"Magic be life," Liliana says, "Or so Madame Natasha always say." She pauses, then looks up to say, "Vou gots to remove vour clothes fer dis. Full bodyvork is easiest dat vay."
"Of course," Buffy says, and her wedding gown blows away like so much chalk dust, but at least doesn't get blown into anyone's face.
Miranda seats herself where she will be out of the way of the dying process, but have a good view to watch Liliana work.
"I vish my clothes vere dat easy to remove. Wow, de kinds of shows I coul' do," Liliana says with an amused grin. Patting the altar, she says, "Lie down an I gets to vork." But, before Buffy can lie down, Liliana gets in another kiss, much of which in mimic of how she kissed Miranda. So, Miranda gets a view of how it must've looked. Releasing Buffy, she declares, "I live dangerously!"
"I'm not dangerous though," Buffy claims, before lying down. "Then again, I've never been a canvas for a succubus before either."
The gray Lapi blushes again when she sees how the 'exotic kiss' she received must have looked, and giggles again. "Lili'th very good at thith, you'll love how it turnth out Buffy, I'm thure!"
"Apparently vour pet succubus. Do I gets a cute little collar?" Liliana teases as she crawls up on the altar to straddle the now prone Lapi. "Dis vill take a vhile," she says, "An Miranda, vou kin help some, so vous won' gets bored."
"I certainly hope so," the black vampire says. "It is difficult for the dead to change, even when it comes to their appearance."
"Really? you want me to help, Lili?" Miranda says as she scoots over to stand near the altar, looking excited to be able to assist. "Jutht tell me what to do."
"Yah, I vill get de outlines in place an vou kin do the fill color. Fillin' de outlines don' take as much experience to do," Liliana notes as the Eee leans down and starts to slowly work on an area with her fine line bleaching comb. It's probably a little unsettling to be doing this on a cold corpse, but Liliana seems to be happy, at least. It has to look pretty odd for an observer, though: a great and evil demon is pinning and tormenting a poor, innocent, black Lapi … with grooming.