Bennu arrived within minutes and perched at the end of Lydia’s bed.
“I’ll stop her frenzying,” he said before anyone could explain what was going on. He tilted his head at Alaryia. “I was listening in.”
“Ah!” She turned her attention back to Lydia. “This shouldn’t be too hard on you as your essence isn’t too torn up yet. I hope it won’t be, anyway, but any transformation of this kind is unpleasant.”
“So I’m discovering,” Lydia said. “Get on with it please.”
“Okay.” Alaryia formed a silver shaft of energy on her hand. “Even with me ameliorating your pain this is probably going to sting, I’m afraid.” She drew back slightly then plunged the shaft into Lydia’s solar plexus.
Lydia gave a strangled scream and arched up from the bed before collapsing back down and convulsing violently. Her eyes were open wide with shock so Karen saw the moment they blazed green. A moment later, her sister’s body relaxed and she collapsed into unconsciousness with a soft sigh.
“Well that was unexpectedly quick.” Alaryia laid a hand on Lydia’s chest and closed her eyes. “It usually takes longer, but it does seem to have worked.”
“Seems?” Sonia asked. “You’re not sure?”
“Her energy feels a bit… wrong isn’t the right word,” Alaryia said. “But slightly different from how I’d expect. I think it’s because she wasn’t a full Kithreia.” She shook her head. “I’m going to feed her now and then we just have too wait for her to wake up to finalize the transformation.”
“She’ll need to feed herself?” Matthias said. “Or she’ll be sort of inbetween like Draylian?”
“That’s right,” Alaryia said. “Which is more sustainable when you aren’t prone to frenzy but still not pleasant.”
“And it would be even harder to maintain since she wasn’t far enough along to develop an obsession,” Indaturan said.
“Okay,” Matthias said. “We’ll get her to feed on me as soon as she wakes up.”
“Which will be a couple of hours at least,” Alaryia said. “Probably longer. She’s absolutely exhausted from what she’s been through.”
“Good, that gives us time to get Sal here. I know she’s curious to monitor a change as part of her research.”
When Lydia finally awoke the next morning, the first thing she was aware of was the not-unexpected gnawing hunger for something that wasn’t food. On the upside, she felt no particular urge to grab someone and drain them dry so she probably wasn’t going frenzy. She moaned softly and opened her eyes to find Alaryia sitting by the bed, smiling at her.
“How do you feel?”
“Better,” Lydia said. “Hungry, but you knew that. I need to feed, don’t I?”
“Yes,” she said. “Fortunately, this part of the transformation is fairly easy. Your father has volunteered and your Aunt wants to examine you first. I’ll call them.”
Not just her father and Sarah piled into the room when Alaryia called them but her mother and siblings as well. All of them looked worried so she smiled at them reassuringly.
“I’m fine!” she said. “I just need to finish this.”
“I just want to check you out first.” Sarah sat down beside her. “It’ll help my research into how to stop the permanent hunger.”
“That’s okay,” Lydia said.
“Thank you.” Sarah placed her hand on Lydia’s forehead and concentrated. When she lifted her hand a moment later she had a thoughtful half smile on her face. “Interesting. Thank you.” She rose to her feet and let Matthias take his place at Lydia’s side.
“You sure about this, Dad?” she asked.
“Of course,” he said. “Get on with it.”
Lydia was about to ask how she fed but then realised she knew instinctively how to do it. She reached for her father’s energy and carefully drew some of it off. It shot through her, making her shudder. After a few seconds, Alaryia touched her shoulder.
“You should stop now if you can.”
Lydia nodded and drew back. She could feel things shifting inside her and her flame wings flickered and withdrew into her shoulders as the transformation finalised. A moment later her body twisted and she found herself staring at a pair of clawed silver dragon feet instead of her hands. Fortunately it seemed her instincts had kept her small enough to fit comfortably on the bed.
“Oh! You make a pretty dragon, Lyd!” Sonia said. “Your scales are so shiny.”
Lydia looked at her mother, then concentrated and forced herself to transform back into her human form.
“That’s odd…” she said.
“What’s odd?” Alaryia asked.
“Are you sure this worked?” Lydia asked. “I mean, it seems to have worked, except…” She hesitated. “I don’t feel hungry any more. I’m supposed to feel hungry, right?”