"Shifting Shells" is a Season 5 thread written on March 29, 2015.

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The Warden: The Warden had watched Greg and Warren’s reunion invisibly with a soft smile, enjoying the love that the two shared for each other while largely keeping out out of their thoughts and preserving their privacy. Just to be around the rebels again, to mix in the cacophony of minds and return to the hubbub of everyone’s lives was almost exciting.

However, it had also given her time to think and she now realized that her stay was becoming needlessly prolonged. She gave herself some space that night, withdrawing almost completely to explore the old dungeon once more, her essence flitting from room to room as quick as an arrow. And it was there that she discovered something that should not have been there, but was.

She dared not wake Greg; instead she hovered near him, quietly watching her hands and listening to him breathe slowly. Dawn finally approached and she flinched as he began to stir, glancing over at him. She pressed his drowsy mind carefully. Good morning, young one.

Greg Ericson: Greg sat up and stretched, his hair disheveled and his eyes crusted from sleep. “Alright I’m up I’m up.” He yawned. “What going on Nala?” 

The Warden: She hesitated, wondering how to word it. You realize that I cannot stay here in your mind. I need to leave before I begin causing problems among you again.

Greg Ericson: Greg sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in distress. It was too early for him to be having this conversation. “You don’t have to go, but clearly you’ve made up your mind and there’s nothing I could do to stop you. So yeah I realize.” He said somewhat bitterly. He wanted her to stay, but at the same time he was so tired of talking in circles. 

The Warden: She shrunk back and bit her lip. I was only letting you know…I’m sorry. I found my body and I’m going to leave…now, actually.

Greg Ericson: He was right, definitely too early to have this conversation.

He sighed again. “Fine, I’ll uh, I’ll miss you Nala. Remember you can come back whenever you want, and you’re always welcome on my island okay?” 

The Warden: Turning away, she sighed and nodded. I’ll miss you, too, she whispered. Nala closed her eyes, not moving, unwilling to cut the ties just yet. Her mind hovered over the strings but she couldn’t bring herself to slash through them.

Greg Ericson: Greg just couldn’t let her leave like this, even if he was frustrated with her. He launched himself out of bed and lunged for the demon’s form, wrapping his arm around her from behind. “You’re not leaving without a proper goodbye again. I refuse to let you.” He whispered. 

The Warden: She gasped softly as he hugged her from behind, tears welling in her eyes and spilling over her cheeks silently. Nala turned in his embrace and got down on one knee to throw her arms around him, quivering. She clutched the back of his head and sniffed, burying her face in his shoulder. There was silence for a minute.

You still wish for me to remove my name from your mind? she said in a wavering voice.

Greg Ericson: Greg shook his head. “Nuh uh. I don’t ever want to forget you. Your one of my best friends.” 

The Warden: No, it’s too dangerous. He can’t.

With a shaky breath, she carefully wormed into his memories and prepared to cut away at her name, without his permission—

And she stopped.

There was no way to guarantee erasing it from all of the rebels. She would need to raid Greg’s mind, then Grey’s, then Warren’s, Asha’s, Haddock’s, and Stonegit’s, and who knew who else knew. It would be pointless if he just learned it later.

Very well. She slid out of his mind and pulled back to look at him, stroking the side of his face and smiling weakly. Do be careful with your flames, little one. Once I leave they will become highly unstable. Learn how to use them if you wish, but try not to burn anything down.

Greg Ericson: Greg laughed, “Can’t promise nothing will catch on fire, but I’ll do my best to keep it to a minimum.” He paused. “I meant what I said before. Come back anytime you’d like, and you’re always welcome on my home island. If you need to check you can take a peek up here if you like.” Greg said tapping his temple. 

The Warden: Nalaagura pulled the information she needed from his mind and tucked it within her own. Thank you. Finding nothing else to say, she hugged him again, meshing her mind with his so that for a heartbeat, the two were indistinguishable from each other. Then she untangled their feelings and stepped backwards, clearing her throat and brushing herself off. I’ll be going, then.

The Warden: Greg was stunned with the sudden oneness he felt with Nala. He didn’t know what was happening but he enjoyed that brief moment, until it was suddenly pulled away from him. He was left feeling slightly empty after that, like something was missing. He called out to Nala. “Goodbye Nala, I love you.” 

The Warden: I love you, too, Greg.

With gritted teeth and closed eyes, she started sawing away at their bond, and at the same time she reached deep down into the dungeon and started filling her body. It began twitching and stirring. The final string of possession snapped, and she receded from his mind completely, opening her eyes to complete darkness and getting to her feet. With a sigh, she began pacing and reaching out for a certain someone whom she knew had dropped the body off. The pain she felt was almost unbearable, but she shoved it down and tried to forget about it. 


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