Chapter 10

Kian spared a moment's self pity for her tired, strained wings, and shifted into draenei form. After so long in the form, it felt almost as natural as her true form. It was certainly easier for some things, such as seeing if Duchene was alive. She tipped him onto his side, struggling to move his unwieldy body. His eyes were closed, and she could feel no breath or pulse, but that didn't mean anything with an undead. Prying one of the lids open revealed that there was still a faint golden glow behind them.

The knives were still embedded in his back, both on the right side, missing his heart and only damaging one lung. She studied them closely, unsure of whether removing them would cause more harm than good. When she placed him on his front, the tips had been forced back. Black blood had dried onto the blades where they had met flesh, and new blood, also black, was dripping from the re-opened wounds. She thought that was a good thing, but she wasn't sure.

In addition to the blood, she could see a greenish, sticky looking substance coating the section of the blades that had not penetrated him. Poison. That would explain why he'd gone down so quickly – she'd seen undead in battle previously and knew it took a lot more than two knives in the back to bring one down. She decided that maybe she should remove them after all.

Removing the blades without causing further damage was a little tricky, but she took it slow and managed it. The wounds were definitely bleeding when she removed the knives, though not copiously, thankfully. The evidence seemed to point to his continued unlife. Fortunately, his blood seemed to flow a lot slower and thicker than the blood of non-undead mortal creatures. She didn't think he was in danger of bleeding out from these wounds. However, Kian still thought she should bandage him.

She had no cloth other than what he was wearing, so she removed his robes. In doing so, she discovered several magic bags lining his robe. Feeling a little guilty at rummaging through his stuff, she decided to check their contents. Fortunately the first bag contained first-aid supplies – she found a roll of bandages and some flasks of red liquid she was pretty sure were healing potions. Kian struggled to bind the wounds of the unconscious priest, finally succeeding. She managed to get him into a sitting position and uncorked a potion. Getting it into him without obstructing his (potential) breathing was a painstaking process. Finally the flask was empty, and she carefully arranged him so that he was in a position that didn't put a lot of pressure on his wounds. She got to her feet and swayed unsteadily.

Kian realized she was hungrier than she'd been in a long time. She hadn't eaten for nearly two full days – there hadn't been the opportunity to consume much more than water in the two days since they left Booty Bay. Her use of magic had further depleted her energy stores. She suspected that she would have to hunt. She shifted back into her natural form, stretched her still-aching wings, and meticulously memorized nearby topography. Then with a sigh, she dropped from the overhang, too tired and hungry to properly take off. Her elders would call her lazy for that, but she didn't care right now.

Duchene woke slowly, feeling miserable. He discovered he was lying on his side, and sat up stiffly, wondering what the hell had happened and where he was. His chest ached, his thoughts felt thick, and every slow breath hurt. He raised a hand to his chest and discovered the bandages. He must have been wounded, but he couldn't remember how. Oh well, easy enough to fix the injuries. A quick gesture brought the Light to his wounds. He felt his breathing (little enough as it was) become less painful, and a sense of well-being returned to him. He pushed himself to his feet.

Needless to say, he was a little nonplussed at finding himself alone on a wide mountain ledge, with no apparent way down. Kian was nowhere in sight, but he found his robe and bags, and the two poisoned knives. He picked them up and examined them, touching the tip of his tongue carefully to each in turn. Crippling and mind-numbing – their potency was gone by now, but whoever had thrown them had known the best way to prevent him from acting short of having another magic-user shut him up. He spat and let the knives drop.

A sound like leather flapping in the wind from behind him caught his attention, and he turned. Then he had to crush the urge to flee (where would he go?) as primal instincts in the back of his head screamed "Dragon! Run!" at him. Backwinging onto the ledge was a netherdrake, muzzle spattered with dry blood, with what looked like some animal's leg grasped in its front claws. He took a few uncertain steps backwards and looked up at its glowing blue eyes. Something about its eyes reminded him of….

"Kian?" he asked, incredulously.

"Hi!" said the netherdrake cheerfully. It sounded kind of like Kian, but more hollow and echoey sounding. "I brought breakfast." It waved the leg, then placed it on the ground. "You look better than you did before. I'm glad. I was a little worried that you might be dead. Err… deader?"

"What the fuck?" said Duchene. Then he blinked as the dragon suddenly shrank, wings seeming to pull into its back, neck and tail shortening, posture straightening and becoming more bipedal, the pale blue of its paws advancing as the glossy blue-black of its body diminished to a patch of hair on its head and crotch, and it became… Kian. She smiled at him.

"Well, uh… I probably should have said something before, but I'm a dragon. My name is actually Kianraku, but I never really use the 'raku' part. It's usually safer if mortals don't suspect what I am. I kind of don't like having weapons swung at me." she said conversationally.

"Uhhh," he said, oh so intelligently. "You mean to say I've been fucking a dragon?" Hey. It was the first thing that came to his mind.

"At least I'm still a member of an intelligent species." she said defensively.

"I didn't mean it like that. I just wasn't… expecting this?" He couldn't keep the confused note from his voice. "Can you only turn into a draenei?" Ok. So he was curious. Was that a bad thing?

"Of course not." She smiled.

"Do you mind… uh… showing me?"

"What do you have in mind?" she arched an eyebrow at him.

"How about… human?" her outlines blurred and she became a black-haired, blue eyed human woman. "Troll? Night elf? Gnome?" with each named race, she took on that form without hesitation. He noted that she kept as close as she could to her natural colouring, but this wasn't always possible. "Giant?" gnomish brows furrowed in concentration, then she shook her head at that one. "Bunny rabbit?" Kian shrank, becoming a furry little rabbit. Aw, she was so cute! "Red flight?" A little bunny head shake after a pause. "Tree?" Funny, he hadn't known bunnies could glare. "Blood elf? Undead?" the woman before him morphed from stately elf to well-preserved undead. "Male?" Again, her eyebrows bunched. More slowly than her other changes, she became a he.

"Alright, this feels seriously weird." Man-Kian said. He (she?) looked down at himself, and proceeded to explore his own body with his hands. "Seriously. Weird. Not bad, but…very odd. I never thought of trying to be a man before."

Duchene nodded, feeling more than a little weird. "Can you look like a specific person?" he asked. Wow, this was bizarre.

Her(?) features changed slowly, hair shortening, face changing shape subtly, skinless patches rearranging to expose the tendons and bones over knees and elbows. Duchene looked at what could be his own reflection. Absurdly, a mental image of him fucking himself flashed across his mind. He hastily suppressed it. "Light! Take another form! Anything!" he blurted, feeling a little disturbed. The other him became unrecognizable as she resumed her draconic body. He breathed a little sigh of relief. Best not to dwell on that.

"No more please. That's tiring. Especially the last two." Drake-Kian said. He nodded. He'd seen enough for now.

"What are you doing in Azeroth? I thought netherdrakes lived in the Outlands?"

If a netherdrake could look bashful, Kian was doing it now. "I wanted to learn more about mortals."

"I guess that would be the way to do it. I almost hesitate to ask what you learned."

"Mortals will fuck anything. I wasn't expecting that." Her voice was dry. He sniggered.

"Yeah. I guess we will at that. Well, now what?"

"I'd… kind of like to stay with you. Well, if you'll let me." Her eyes met his. "If you want, I could even fly you around."

He considered this. Dragon or not, that was still Kian. And to tell the truth the notion of a shapeshifter struck him as rather intriguing. (He desperately attempted to push the mental image that returned suddenly out of his mind.) And well… he'd always envied those people who had won the loyalty of netherdrakes. He'd left the Outland without learning how to fly on anything faster than a plodding wind rider, and hadn't bothered to go back to learn when he became wealthier.

"You know, it might be nice to have a traveling companion." He said, and was nearly knocked off his feet as she rubbed her large horned head against his chest affectionately. This was going to take some getting used to, but he had no doubts that it could be pleasant.