Infection - Old Friends


Datura, Ra (emitting as Kimigumo and Nefura too)

Date: November 9, 2010


Okumo Ra and Datura part ways outside the new home of Princess Nefura, leaving the Yamanaka outcast alone to ask the aid of her arachnid allies.

"Infection - Old Friends"

Outside of a cave near the Hotaru Caverns

Okumo Ra lead Datura from Kusagakure, north across the Land of Grass's plains and fields, and up into the mountains on the country's north border. They skirted the mountain fortress of Kyuusen, and then travelled east through the passes until finally the pair arrived at a non-descript cave entrance.

It was there that they parted ways. Ra stated as much. "It is here that we part paths, Lady Spinner Ryoko. At the very back of these 'Hotaru Caverns', there will be a dead-end. There is only one path, and it leads directly there. You will be expected, but the mark you bear of the Spider Queen will be necessary to open the way to the Princess's Nest. Merely press your heart to the stone, and you will be admitted entry."

Ra pauses, and then reaches into his cloak. He withdraws a sack from within and offers it to Datura, as some spiders skitter off of it and back onto their host. "We are aware that you have a fondness for shiny objects and material wealth. Thus, we offer these. They are some trinkets given to us a long, long time ago. So long ago we do not even remember where they came from. A remnant of the Okumo… We have no use for them. You may find them to your liking however."

A second pause, as Ra says, "It has been a privilege and a pleasure to aid and accompany you, Lady Spinne—Ryoko. There are few other humans we prefer the company of, over the company of spiders. You are one of those few."

Unusual for the blonde-haired kunoichi, Datura actually pushed to reach their destination. The pace was anything but leisurely, and would have been outright grueling for lesser ninja, to say nothing of civilians, though it was unlikely that Ra was inconvenienced in the slightest by it. Her clothes are practical, if still in the dark-gothic-emo motif, consisting of tight pants that came down to just below her knees, tabi socks, sandals, a sleeveless, clingy shirt, and a pair of gloves that reached her biceps, yet left her fingers bare. Various pouches and holders about her marked the typical tools of the shinobi, all-in-all giving her a very differant appearance from the pampered diva she played by day.

The Daimyo had nearly insisted on sending an escort with 'Lady Ryoko' on her way to her next show in light of the 'attack' suffered a day or so ago on his castle, but a little gentle urging had seen the outcast Yamanaka having her way. Though she departed in haste, leaving her troupe behind, her promotional manager had ensured her cover was intact, informing everyone that the Lady had departed in the gray light of the dawn with a few personal porters so that she would have time to settle in at the city in the Land of Fire they were going to before the others arrived, and so that they could travel at a more leisurely pace, so as not to upset her fragile health.

Standing before the cave, the teenaged Kadomai-born kunoichi was a little winded, having made her way here like a woman possessed. And now she was parting company with her guide. With a smile of gratitude that at least looked genuine (one could never tell with the manipulative blonde), Datura steps forward to emrace the male, tiny spiders and all, before reaching a deft, soft-palmed hand to accept the bag. Not so long ago, she might have considered the arachnids distasteful. Now she simply found the tiny insects endearing.

"I like you more than most humans, Ra-kun. Take care of yourself, and try to stay out of trouble. No more riding your giant bretheren over high castle walls. That is a human faux-pas."

The others who had come with the blonde on her hastened journey are bid to wait outside as she takes her bag of 'trinkets', not yet opening it, attaching it to the rear of her belt with several small ties to keep it in place, her feet kicking up tiny pebbles as she nears the darkness of the entrance of the cave. She had no fear of the dark, often considering herself to be worse than almost any subterranean horror it could conjure. But things had changed. Now she feared being alone. Now she was in front of a cavernous earthen maw, which she had to enter alone if she had any hope of her plan unfolding the way she wished.

Now she was afraid.

A deep breath in, a straightening of the back, and the young murderess allows her slim legs to carry her over the threshold, from the warmth of the sun into the coolness of the dark. "…Am I really going to have to hug a rock?"

Ra locks up as he is embraced. He can honestly claim not to remember ever being hugged once in his entire life. At least not that he can recall. The time before… Before… Before >everything< was foggy in his mind, like always. But even then he can not remember anyone showing the degree of compassion — faked or otherwise — that Ryoko has just shown. By the time he has prepared himself to awkwardly return the embrace, it has ended. He lowers his extended arms swiftly, hoping that he has not offended Datura somehow, and then bows once, deeply. "We will remember all you have taught us," are his last words to Datura. The next time they meet will be a long, long time from now.

Unlike past caves Datura has known, this one is tinged with no menace, no malice, and no anything-else-ness. The darkness, though growing deeper the further Datura goes in, is purely natural. For the moment, infact it is merely shady. Cool, dry… But it does not smell bad, and it does not have anything lying around that looks like it should not be there. Eventually, the light dims enough that Datura may need to squint, but even so, this far into the cave, there is nothing odd or unnatural. It's how caves should be. It's a natural place. It holds no horrors or reality-warping monsters or sanity-destroying sights… It's just a cave.

And eventually, Ra's words wind up being exactly true. There is only one path. Though it may wind a bit at times, it is never too narrow to admit Datura passage, and it is never too confusing to be lead astray. It goes directly towards the back of the cave. Plenty of time to catch her breath. Plenty of time to worry about being alone. But never any impetus to hurry across the rocky surfaces, except as Datura chooses.

Finally, Datura would reach the back of the cave. And >now< the weird stuff pops up. Tiny golden lights flit about the large, open area. Some hover, some dart, and others fly in crazy circles, seemingly chasing each other or maybe just showing off for the human that has stumbled into their midst. Are they fireflies? Fairies? Something else? Whatever they are, they are numerous, but move out of the way if Datura approaches them. Beyond the glowing creatures, there is a large, smooth stone surface. There are symbols painted on it that might be as ancient as the dinosaurs or might be from last year. Most are a muddy red-brown, but others are pale-yellow or dark-green. They all depict a variety of spiders of different shapes and sizes, all apparently bowing to a woman on what appears to be a throne. To the right of the throne, there are symbols that might be words. Short, sharp strokes of some brush. They do not mean anything in any language that Datura may know.

The dark, shadowy recesses are always the ally of fear, paranoia, and fright. So it is now as Datura winds her way deeper through the lonely passage that brings her ever further beneath the earth's crust. It wouldn't exactly make for great spelunking, but it is more than suitable for putting the unnerved teenager into an even higher state of alarm. She had always been mistrustful of those around her, but the past month have taken that lack of trust for the world and turned into an almost dangerously obsessive lunacy.


The words come tearing out of Datura's throat as she spins around in the gloom, trying to see back the way she had come. The light was so dim that nothing was really illuminated, there were just varying degrees of darkness to illuminate shapes, preventing more than a few feet of vision, the unlit air pressing in around her. The only sound that answered her was a slight echo and the heavy sound of her own breathing. The sound that caused her outburst likely her own footfall, fear playing tricks on her senses. She could feel herself sweating, first on her palms, then other places, fear gripping her like a child alone in her bedroom. She was vulnerable. She needed to hurry.

And then she enters the chamber with the dancing lights. They at least provide enough illumination to allow her to see vague outlines and things mere inches from her face, replacing the need for her to light a match. She continues on, faced with an adorned rock barring her path, designs drawn upon it. Slowly, she looks over her shoulder, as if expecting to see something she did not wish to imagine there. Her pale blue eyes return to the rock, and she scrambles forward, pressing tightly against it, trying to wrap it in her arms, the hardened stone material biting uncomfortably into her chest and abdomen.

"Well…" The sound of her own voice was somewhat comforting, allowing her to focus on something, speaking, other than the aroma of terror bearing down around her. "This just feels dumb."

A moment after Datura says the word dumb, the stone before her… Flashes. Like a wave of light just passed over it from somewhere. A sunbeam with no source, moving in hyper-fast-forward. Before any reaction to that can take place, Datura would feel the stone turn semi-solid, and her chest would start to sink into it. Then her abdomen and arms and the rest of her. The process speeds up, and the blonde is quickly sucked into the stone!

There is little time to panic, however, before she finds herself being pushed out the 'other side' of the rock, even though there should have been nothing beyond it except the rest of the open area in Hotaru Cavern. This new place is different. It looks less like a cave and more like… Some kind of gothic or rennaisance mansion. Polished wood flooring, marble staircases with elaborately carved railings, statues, paintings, and spiders everywhere. They are far too small to have come from Nefura (probably) and are more likely to just be normal spiders that have chosen to assemble in the Princess's new home.

As Ra said, Datura is expected. A vaguely familiar and very large spider is standing in the entry hall that leads into the larger open space beyond, where all the decorations and stairs and such are. He has a tophat on his head. This, he sweeps off, while performing a formal bow to Datura. "Greetings, esteemed guest! Welcome to Princess Nefura's domain… Welcome… to The Nest."

He rises back to his full height and actually gets a good look at the new arrival. "…I say, you do look familiar. Have we met?"


The small squeal of dismay elicits from the young blonde as she is sucked into the rock like it was some kind of gelatinous cube intent on devouring her. For a moment, her mind is horrified that it might be another illusion, or another attempt of her sibling's bad memory to pull her into Hell. That thought is soon dispelled by the realization that this feels much, much different, and is further reinforced when she is spat out the other side as if she didn't taste very good. And right into the middle of a large house.

"Not quite what I pictured…" The diva murmurs t herself, her eyes soon falling onto a very large spider. Certainly not the largest she'd ever seen, but definitely bigger than her dimunitive, mammalian frame. Her eyebrows raise slightly as she is addressed, her eyes going to the hat, then focusing on the bow.

Her arms cross as Datura settles back on her heels, adopting a pout of offense. "Kimi-kun, how cruel to forget me. Perhaps if I came through barefoot wearing only my sleeping garments your memory might be refreshed." Reaching up, the outcast Yamanaka flicks her hair back over her shoulder, turning her head away in affront. "Just wait until I tell your wife what an awful sort you are. …Wait," Pale blue eyes narrow slightly as they return to the enormous bug, the pout on her unpainted lips turning into an inquisitive frown. "Are you no longer residing in Fukaizan? You weren't thrown out for anything inappropriate, were you?"

Kimigumo lets out a noise of recognition, pointing a foreleg, and then rushing forward as he bows again. "My deepest apologies, Datura-chan. It took your melodic voice to 'jumpstart' my memory, as it were. It has been so long since last we met, and yes, you >are< garbed quite… Err… Differently than during your trip through Fukaizan." As he closes in on her, he offers one spindly leg, attempting to take Datura's hand, if permitted, and 'kiss' the back of it. Or kiss as well as a spider can. "But your vibrant personality and intoxicating scent are the same as ever! Why, I have half a mind to invite you to my quarters right now and recompense you for our missed rendezvous—" he breaks off at the mention of his wife, retreating from Datura as though she had just threatened to have him impaled on a spike and left to die slowly in the sun over the course of three days.

"No, no! Please, no need to speak to my wife! Kijo-chan is very busy and bothering her over a trivial matter such as this would… Interfere with her schedule! Yes!" The question about his being here is answered more calmly, but the reminder of his wife nonetheless leaves him in an agitated state. Placing his hat back on his head, he rubs his forelegs together in the way a human might nervously wring his hands.

"No, I just volunteered to help the Princess out until she is settled in her new home. The Queen agreed."

The young blonde holds her arms up slightly and out to the side, partially turning her hips as if to better show off her travelling clothes with a tight-lipped, flat smile adorning her face. "Disappointed?" Her tiny hand is captured well enough by the arachnid's claw, and she allows him to press his fanged mandibles to the back of it, or drool on it, or however it was that spiders kissed things.

The smile turns almost nasty as the enormous male retreats from her, but retains enough merriment to convey amusement. She would have to get to know Kijo-chan better if she could instill THIS kind of fear in the opposite sex! The teenaged diva's feet lead her to step forward and a little to the side of Kimigumo, a single outstretched arm lightly patting one of the portions of his legs that she could reach, features softening into a sly expression of sharing.

"Oh, who could stay mad at such a handsome face? As nice as it would be to catch up on lost time, we can't keep the Princess waiting, Kimi-kun. We should get there as quickly as possible." Datura raises a hand, limp-wristed, as if she expected to be helped into a waiting carriage. "You'll be a dear and carry me, won't you? If poor Kijo-chan will be stuck tending to the nursery all evening, it'd just be horrid of me to leave you all alone all that time with no one for company. The sooner I see dear Nefura, the sooner you can show me your no doubt lovely home."

Kimigumo nods eagerly, making no more attempts to be overly friendly with Datura, and instead just lowering himself and doing his best to help her climb aboard his furry back. He might have resumed his normal casual-and-yet-formal behavior, but the rementioning of his wife keeps him well-behaved indeed. "Of course, Datura-chan. I will carry us forthwith unto yonder parlor!" He then proceeds to do so. Swiftly. Much more swiftly than in Fukaizan, because… You know. Datura wants to hurry up and he wishes to show off his fancy home!

Dashing through the house at higher-than-average ninja speeds, but perhaps not close to the maximum that Datura could accomplish at a dead run, Kimigumo hums to himself and passes through a couple hallways with thick, soft-looking, crimson carpets. Unlike in Fukaizan, the passages are not twisting or confusing. Rather straight-forward, all told. Infact, the overall lay-out is much more 'human' than what one might expect from a spider-heavy abode hidden inside of a cave wall somehow.

Kimigumo slows down his skittering long enough to pause by a door, knock twice with a foreleg, and then call out questioningly, "Lord Weaver Yamanaka?" There is a muffled noise. "My apologies for awakening you, but you asked to be notified when the Princess's guest arrived. She has just done so now." An unintelligible noise that may be an acknowledgement or perhaps a disgruntled indication to get lost, is the only response. Kimigumo seems to understand it just fight, though, and resumes skittering down the hall.

Many rooms are passed on each side, and most of them seem to be bedrooms of some kind, decorated for young children, or… Babies? Kimigumo moves too quickly to get good looks, but some of the rooms seem to be occupied as well. Eventually, however, he arrives at a pair of broad, black, marble double-doors with solid gold designs on their surfaces. He starts to bow and lower himself in preparation to announce his presence, but the voice of Nefura snaps out semi-irritably, "Come in!" Kimigumo gestures with one leg and remains bowed so that Datura can climb off. "Her majesty is much more sensitive during this… Special time. She is much more aware of her body, her environment, and those in it," he whispers towards the blonde woman.

Nefura repeats herself, "I >said< come >in<! I can hear you whispering out there!" For some reason she does not sound as friendly as the last time she met Datura.

The young woman clambers aboard the large arachnid as gracefully as she can manage, which is much more so than the last time she boarded Kimigumo, actually dressed for such an excursion this time. Once atop, straddling the thinner part of his body that connects head to thorax, she gives the coarse fur and chitinous skin beneath her a soft pat to indicate that she was settled. And then she merely needs to hang on as the overly-eager male begins to rush forward with a speed that was more akin to Okumo Ra's just before he'd hurled her bodily towards the relative safety of the Queen's private abode.

Datura begins to lean forward expectantly as they pause near a wooden portal, as if she intended to dismount, only to pause at the name her spider-mount calls out. Obviously not the name she'd expected. A frown creases her lips as she glances down at the bare wood, only to soon have it fall behind as they continue on their own way, her mind washing over with several new lines of thought. The decor of the home is taken in peripherally, stored but not really acknowledged in the back of the rogue Yamanaka's mind. Those were musings for another time.

Again they pause, and again the blonde-haired kunoichi-turned-diva leans slightly forward in preparation for a dismount, and is not disappointed this time. She does jerk slightly at the sharp command, though, frowning a silent question towards the complacent, if a bit nervous, male as her sandaled feet touch the floor beneath. She lifts her chin and afixes the large doors before her with a silent 'ah' at his whispered answer to the unspoken query. Datura straightens the garment about her shoulders, flips her loose hair back, squaring her shoulders. She looked a lot less regal and serene than the last time the two females had parted company, now in a more traditionally gothic garb that she was accustomed to. Though it felt good, she hoped she didn't look to… rumpled, instead counting on the difference to make her appear more exotic! …Or maybe just weird.

But then didn't all humans probably look weird to spiders? So mushy and soft.

Placing both of her fingerless-gloved hands against the door, Datura begins to push them open. Well, if her genin-level strength wasn't up to the task, surely Kimi-kun would help her out!

The door opens easily enough. Almost as though it weighs less than a thousandth of what it appears it should weigh. When the doors swing open, it becomes evident that this is Nefura's 'reception room', or 'throne room', or some such. Not as impressive as her mother's, it nonetheless is nice to look at. Much of the decor is taken straight from Datura's own preferences, though there are additions in the form of spidery alterations. Seated on a throne in a gauzy white gown that seems to fit her a bit less well than it is perhaps designed for, is the Spider Princess herself.

The red-haired woman has her pure-black eyes with a green circle at the center of each, her frame is more or less the same, but the swell of her stomach is evident even through her gown. Her crown is missing, perhaps not seeing a need for such when receiving a friend's visitation.

Kimigumo enters alongside Datura, but Nefura just says, "Thank you, Kimigumo. You may leave now." The top-hatted spider pauses in mid-bow and then rises again. "Certainly, certainly, your majesty! My pleasure!" He backs up while bowing more, and then closes the doors as he exits the room. The spider-disuised-as-a-human turns her gaze back on Datura, and for a moment, all the irritability and maturity she has been displaying so far is washed away by her broad, youthful smile. Rising from her throne carefully, Nefura descends a short flight of steps and approaches. "Datura-chan. So >good< to see you again!" She attempts to hug Datura to her, her control over her superhuman strength as precise as ever. If not for the eyes, one would never suspect she was anything other than a human woman! She certainly does not >feel< strong when she hugs.

The blonde-haired woman's eyes take in the form seated on the throne, starting at the familiar mane of red hair, trailing all the way down to her feet. Those pale blue eyes linger on the inflated stomach, though, noting the sight before moving on. Ra had told her that the Princess was with child, and Kimigumo had intimated the same thing in not quite so many words not moments before. But here, now, seeing it first hand… Datura could only think of the horrors of stretch marks on a human body. But the Princess wasn't human.

The rogue Yamanaka looks back over her shoulder as the male arachnid is callously dismissed from her presence, her eyes watching his departure and the closing of the doors. A brief silence settles as she turns towards the other woman in the room again, trying to read the expression behind her black-and-green eyes for a clue of how to react. A wrong step on the first greeting could ruin everything!

The blonde's lips part into wide smile almost at the same instant Nefura's do, mere heartbeats behind. Her arms raise as she steps into the embrace, linking her arms delicately about the woman who appeared no older than she, though she knew the truth of that lie. Her eyes close as she rests her chin on the spider-turned-human's shoulder.

"Dear Nef-chan, it hasn't been the same without you." As she leans back, Datura's hands slide down the older creature's arms, coming to rest with her fingers over the backs of the spider's hands. "I thought I would die with pride when Ra-kun told me how well you were doing. I knew you would have no trouble, but your home…" The smile brightens a few watts. "I love it."

Nefura strokes Datura's back with one hand and inhales the blonde's scent as she presses her mouth to the gothic-ninja-diva garments, and then to the side of Datura's throat, delivering a soft kiss. Human lips are much better for kissing with than mandibles. "Mmm… I agree. I have missed you terribly. It has only been a few months, but it feels like decades," she says quietly. But then she pulls back part way when Datura does. "Yes, well, I would not be anywhere near doing as well as I am if not for your tutelage and friendship. Anyone could have just tossed me lessons like scraps to a dog. You took the time to make sure I really >understood<, and we developed care for each other in the process. A teacher does not have to care for her student. But you did. That is perhaps why I chose to take a human consort, as opposed to an arachnid one."

She then smiles widely — but not widely enough to betray her true nature, if Datura had not already known it. Yes, she can stretch her mouth and face in horrifying ways. But she has no intention of upsetting her dear, dear friend. "I thought you might like it. Or hoped, rather!" She turns and tries to guide Datura over to a meeting table — dinner table? Some sort of table — that has a red and black lace cover over it, in the design of spider webs. Chairs are situated around it. "Please excuse me, but standing is not quite as easy as it is when not pregnant. I could probably stand for an hour or two, but I never know when things will 'progress' so to speak… My 'Human-Spider' physiology is still acclimating, so there are still adjustments to be made in terms of hormones and so forth."

"Oh, I'm sure I had very little to do with it. You're far too capable to have ever done poorly. But I will certainly have to try and make the trip here more often so we needn't bear the burden of separation for so long. After all, I'll only be around for such a brief part of your life. I wouldn't want you to forget me in the coming centuries."

The young blonde resists not at all as she is shown towards a table, a hand on one of Nefura's, the other on her elbow, as if Datura feared she were made of porcelain and lace, capable of fracturing 'in her condition' at any moment. "Sitting is very preferrable, forgive me for making you stand. It's been a long journey and getting off of my feet sounds wonderful. What are your-" A slight pause, a hesitance as Datura changes whatever she was going to say. "-symptoms like? I know in human women they are very unpleasant. One of the reasons I avoid it so thoroughly."

The teenaged diva's hand reaches out, hovering for a moment over the human-formed spider's swollen torso for a moment as she raises her eyebrows, silently asking for permission to touch. Should it be given, her hand lowers, gliding smoothly across the rounded stomach area before withdrawing, and merely being taken back if not. Either way, the bright smile disappears as those pale blue eyes avert themselves, pointedly looking away from the figure of her host as another expression overtakes her features.

It's the unmistakable image of undiluted guilt. "I'm… sorry, Nef-chan. I wish I had come solely to see you. I've just- I've been busy. And now-… Now I'm in trouble. I'm so desperately in trouble."

The red-headed Spider Princess seems to dim her smile a bit at the mention of how short Datura's lifespan is compared to her own. She wets her lips with her tongue briefly and starts to speak as she prepares to be seated. "You know, there is a way to—" but she pauses in what she was saying to comment on Datura's fatigue. "Ah, yes. I should have had refreshments brought. I have been remiss in attending to my cherished guest and friend. One moment, please." She extends an arm towards her throne, and a spray of silvery strands emits from her mouth — unseen due to the direction she is facing — and pulls a bronze bell off of the arm rest and into her waiting hand. The webbing dissolves nearly instantly.

Turning back to face Datura, she rings the bell for a moment, and then sets it down on the table. Apparently that is the signal for 'help' to come to the throne room. "Oh, somewhere between spider and human, but with some odd ones tossed in due to not having shapeshifted properly to accomodate human DNA, and so forth. A lot of changes have taken place each time I have had a brood… But they have mostly come out healthy so far, so it is just a matter of making sure that all my children are as healthy as they possibly can be. Mother can apparently pick and choose traits for her off-spring while we are gestating. I think I am learning, but right now I simply want to make sure they all are all alive and intact. The side-effects or 'symptoms' are varied and unpleasant, yes. Chief among them is how sensitive I am to just about >everything<… Even things I did not even know I could sense before."

She gives a nod of permission at Datura's inquisitive look, while explaining. She smiles and shivers a bit at the touch of the rogue Yamanaka's hand on her belly. She goes silent, however, waiting for attendants to arrive, when Datura suddenly changes her demeanor. Brow furrowing, Nefura listens intently. "…Who is he? Provide me with a name and he will be dead before tommorow morning," she offers in a weird attempt at a comforting tone. Not so much because the tone is weird, as because she is offering to kill some strange man she assumes is the cause of Datura's grief. "Anything you need, just ask. Is he blackmailing you? Abusing you? Is it money? Give me a number and I'll make sure it's all delivered to whomever needs it."

"Oh, Nef. I knew I was right in believing only in turning to you." The blonde's expression shifts into a bittersweet smile as she turns her big, blue, watery eyes towards the older creature, reaching out to clasp and squeeze her hand gently with her own. "But no. No, I wouldn't bother you with my problems if it were so mundane. No mere male could frighten me."

The Yamanaka outcast withdraws her hand, choosing instead to draw her arms about her torso, grabbing her elbow as she all but hugs herself, seeming to draw in upon herself as she contemplates her problem. Her teeth chew at her lower lip uncertainly as her eyes scan about the room as if searching for a place to settle on and begin at. "It's a she. Or I think it is. It's my sister. Or… I think it is. Wait." She shakes her head, closing her eyes briefly before opening them again as she lets out a pensive breath. "Let me start again."

"It was a little before I met you, before your mother called for me. I was in a cave, Ankoku Cave, and there was something down there. Something… terrible. I'm not sure exactly what it was, some kind of creature. My sister, my dead sister, did something to me. Or the thing did. I don't know if she was part of it, but I think part of that creature has gotten inside me. Has… infected me."

Running a trembling hand back through her bangs, Datura sucks in a shuddering breath, tears struggling not to be spilled from the edges of her lashes, lips trembling at every pause in her words. "Your mother, she could sense it. That there was something, some sickness, inside me. I think Ra could sense it, too, could even see it. It comes for me, it shows me things. Terrible things, always looking like my damned sister. Things I've done, things I might do. Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind. S-Sometimes I think I'm losing my soul. L-Like it wants to take over my body and drag my essence down into Hell itself."

For the first time since she'd begun speaking, Datura's liquid eyes lock onto her host's, reaching out with both hands to grab for one of the other woman's, her voice lowering into a harsh whisper, laced with desperation. "Please, Nef! You have contacts and resources I don't. You know others who are hundreds of years old. If you can't help me then everything I am is going to die."

Knowing better than to interrupt, Nefura takes in the whole story, concern clearly visible on her face. Emotional pain at the pain she sees in her dearest friend — human or otherwise — also mirrored in her expression. Tension lines form as she bites her lower lip a bit and is almost eager to accept Datura's hands, and place her other hand over the back of them. "I'll do everything I possibly can, Dat. If I have to go out to that cave in person, right now, and tear this creature >apart< for answers, I will do it. But we'll just have to hope it doesn't come to that, because there might not be anything left to give answers if I take such action." She closes her eyes for a moment, stroking the back of Datura's hand gently, soothingly.

"I want to avoid going to my mother," she says after awhile. "I am a new Queen now. Technically a rival, though I don't really see it that way. If I ask her to help you on my behalf, I'll owe her something. So I will use my resources and contacts. Rigumo-chan can travel to the Land of Whirlpools. I think we have someone there in contact with the Uzumaki Clan of humans. They are famed for their Sealing Techniques. If they can seal away or remove this infection, then that is a good first option. But we need to look elsewhere as well. Putting all of our eggs in one womb is a bad practice."

She opens her eyes, and looks at Datura. "Don't worry, my friend," she says quietly. "There is no way I will lose you to some 'infection'. No matter how supernatural it may be, it is not going to steal you away. And if all other means fail… I may have a very drastic method of making sure you remain alive and… Who you are, until a solution >can< be found. But you would like it about as much as I do. Which is to say, not at all."

"Thank you!" The younger of the pair all but flings herself at the red-haired new Queen, taking care not to upset Nefura's balance or put undue strain on her torso, wrapping her arms around the spider's all-too-human neck and shoulders. "Thank you." She repeats, more quietly as she releases her hold, seeming to get ahold of herself and backing off. Enough to return her rear to her seat, anyway, the back of one hand being used to wipe away moisture unfallen from her eyes.

"You're the only one I can trust with this, the only one I'd want to. But we must be careful who we tell about it. There's some other pieces I'll fill you in on, but for right now just know that there's someone else who wants what's in me, and he mustn't have it. And your mother… well, I think she'd as soon eat me as help me."

With a small, tight-lipped smile of gratitude towards Nefura, Datura allows her relief to practically radiate from off of her shoulders, back to holding on to the Queen's hands as if afraid a stiff gale might be enough to separate them forever. After a moment, her eyes narrow a bit and her smile turns sly. "Now about this man you've replaced me with…"

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