By beljin




"Shiver! Vile beast, for I have come to save the hoard!" The fearsome dragon donned an oversized cape made from a bedsheet, and a metal bucket on her head, awkwardly tilted on her nose so she could at least see a little bit.

"...I think it's supposed to be 'save the prince'", her merciless, adrenaline-fueled opponent wielding cutout-paper claws between his knuckles said. They had repurposed part of his room with a headscratch-inducing collection of accessoirs.

"Prince? Why the prince when the hoard is so close?"

"Did you read the script at all?"

"Only the scenes we have to exercise."

"...That's one of them."

"Shush! Rule number one of Miss Funding's theatre class..."

"...'improvisation is key'." He even did the hand-swirl. "But why do I have to be the dragon?" He gave his fearsome claws some testing swooshes. Aerodynamic. Boxing? No, dramatic swings were better. She applauded his pose.

"It's not about being the dragon, it's about FEELING the dragon in your heart! To put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists! To transcend the limits of your person!" A dramatic rotation let the knight's coat swirl, arm extended to dramatically gesture to the skies. Which weren't visible, apart from the window with colorful curtains. She'd been over before, but never so late.

"...Isn't the knight the protagonist?"

"Interpretation is for Hakutakus. We're here to make the DREAM feel alive!" She rolled the words on her tongue, imitating their producer surprisingly well. Or at least, surprisingly cute. She'd always made the room lighter, but today was especially sparkling. He had to remind himself several times that vile beasts don't smile.

"Yeah, yeah. Sometimes I wonder why they let her do the acting course."

"Shush! Back to action, three, two, one...", her eyes glittered like stars, the stagelights blossoming in her imagination, a harmless puff coming from her nose. And so, the brutal fight continued while the moon gently rose.

"Fear me, monstrous being, I have come to slay your body and spread your limbs apart!" A harmless paper sword, held high by claws that could rip through his shirt. Accidentally. It had only been one time, and she had knitted him two replacements, one of which he wore today. Safety measure, he had thought.

"Foolish human! Meek, mortal, tasty to devour! My skills will not falter under your assault-", he roared.

"Scales." Now it was his turn to swirl his hands in 'improvisation', to go on without commentary. He was slowly getting dragged into the wonder.

"My scales will not falter under your assault, for I never will give way to paths of light!" He held his claws high.

"No. Do it like this." Despite their best efforts, their progress through the script had been very slow, interspersed by countless moments of temporarily morphing from actors into directors.

"That's just giving up the dragon's defense."

"Silly. The dragon has scales. Wide, open wide! The world is your stage! Pretend to hug a wurm!"

He did his best to embrace the universe. The little heart on the chest of the shirt was visible to her again. "Hm-hmm! Visionary!"

"Why don't we have an actual wurm? I mean, for the size. You'd play the dragon much better. I mean, are. I mean-"

"Because they always exit on the wrong side, and then we have to rebuild the cave wall again. Keep going! Yes! Show off your proud body of flesh-I mean, scales, scales - to the audience! Inspiring!" The dragon coughed. It was good that the bucket hid half her face. Acting was harder than it seemed, and she quickly moved on. "Now, I will show my hidden ninja skills of knighthood!" The hero came menacingly closer, furiously gesturing into the air with random finger moves, careful to keep her claws in harmless poses.

"No trick of yours shall buckle my untamed spirit! For I am dragon, and wild, and beautiful, and warm, and..."

"...warm?" The beast's confusion attack had slown the knight's approach. She almost let her paper sword fall.

"Hot. No. Ehm. Inflammable. No..."

"Let's go with 'glowing'." Like her almost-covered face.

"No trick of yours shall buckle my untamed spirit, For I am dragon, and wild, and beautiful, and-" Bonk. "Ouch!" The brightest, fiery glowing minds of the universe, clashing in a fierce nod, followed by an unexpected bucket attack. Surprising both of their heads.


"No, go on. Your secret ninja technique."

"But I can't see with the bucket like that, either."

"Ninja knights need no sight. Action!" His claws of danger, scratching wild, sometimes even hitting her back. Meanwhile, her pinching attack had homed into the target.

"Hnnngh! A disgraceful technique! To let your enemy so close..."

"Ah-hah! The horrid soul, brought to reason by the strongest powers of the universe! Shadow-hugs, do my bidding!"

Titans stumbled, their sight lost in the maddening fight, their mad arms deeply dug into each other lethally, unwilling to let go without ripping the will of existence from their arch-rival. They stumbled over her bedsheet coat, and landed on it.

"Argh! You fool! You have doomed us to the pits of darkness!"

"I shall not prevail knowing to have you stand alone in a cruel world!"

Seriously, the bucket was getting in the way. But acting never was easy. Their breath had sped up from the exhausting procedure. And so, they grasped for continuation. Professionally. More or less.

"L-let go of me, knight! Your hands are too strong, your will burning my presence!"

"L-let go of me, dragon! Your claws are so tight, your breath smelling of sweet...uhm...death!"

"No, wait, I'm the knight. I have the helmet." No she didn't anymore.

"It fell off. Armor ripped to pieces in a dance of powers." He mumbled, slightly distracted. Her lips, so close. Suddenly, the room was very hot, for knight and dragon alike.



"A dragon cannot be felled by hugs. They have scales." His head, dancing with the clouds. Her eyes, as shy as his but occasionally their glances meeting. Their cheeks touched. Somewhere, paper claws on the floor. He scratched her back without them. Gently. To keep the balance of, uhm, fear. The script had gone haywire a while ago.

"I-it's shadow hugs. Y-you have much to learn about d-d-dragons...", her hug of shadows intensified.

"Isn't it showing a g-gap of weakness in their pride to let the enemy...enemy come close?" His tongue did little more than to repeat the introduction of the play, while his brain was occupied otherwise. Smell. Touch. The smallest of shivers, the most delicate friction of her shoulders against his. The world was on fire.

"Don't be silly.", she mumbled into his neck. The sweater had long taken on his smell. "Dragons have no weakness. The knight loses." Her shadow hug, expanding into other areas, his claws' strokes finding the back of her head. The universe melted around them.

"Ywch!" Apparently, the bucket had taken its toll.

"Sorry, sorry..." His breath had turned the evil words into a bare whisper.

"Sht wp." A muffled command by the hero on top, ensnaring her victim between her proximity atop and the softness of her cape beneath.

And then, they improvised, as the stars glimmered outside in darkest night.

One week later.

"Fearsome dragon! Your heart shall not enflame the country in its heat!"

"Oh stubborn knight! Your cruel purge of freedom will not curse these lands, no more! Hyarrgh!"

"Cut! Cut! Cut! Hey! We're making a school play, not a martial arts exhibition! Noone can see you fight when you're so close to each other!" The stage director held her head in frustration, then frantically kept the two at distance, the sword and sparkling armor turning back into mop and cloth. "Distance and exaggeration! Not authenticity and force! And where did you learn that grip? It's dangerous! We have phantom doubles for that!"

"S-sorry, Miss Funding." The two stars-to-be had been taken by the moment.

"It's days like this where exercising the play would pay off, you know? At least you have the lines in your head, by now." Oh, how they did.

"Leave madness to the professionals, will you? No method acting from now on. Only flowery pretend." A stern stare.

The scolded entertainers gulped.

"We're not doing a traditional play, we're doing a TRANSFORMATIVE play. The dragon is the knight and princess, and the knight is the horde and monster. And the helmet stands for old traditions. Got it?"

"Uhm...but last week you said..."

"Last week I didn't know we were going to have two madmen trying to kill each other! You were barely able to play the horse, the both of you! And it doesn't even talk!" The shoggoth sighed. "Listen. I really appreciate that finally, SOMEONE is appreciating the sacred arts for what they are, school director be damned...", a small sideways look to check if the lizard was in the room, "but I'm not going to let my two lead actors kill each other on stage if noone can even tell what's going on! It's not about YOU, it's about the AUDIENCE seeing you, FEELING you! And if we leave them horrified, we're going to get even less funding for the creative works, strength competitions be damned! It's about leading the mind, letting it wander into unknown depths of itself, to blossom into hidden colors! Ideas over reality!"

"Now. You're going to swish like THIS." Slimy appendages forming arm and sword, doing well-studied maneuvers.

"And you're NOT going to try that poke through his pants with a legsweep. We're trying to be PROFESSIONAL here." The dragon tucked its tail in shame.

"The rest was good. No, wrong. The rest was...", an eldritch being, lost for words.

"The rest was ON FIRE. What did you DO the last week? If only I could get the vampire to hiss like that. Say, could you talk to her?"


"Good. If you're going to get the detective and the faux-cursed librarian to hurl their dictionaries like that, maybe we'll even get the budget for REAL requisites next season", she sighed with a dreamy, far-away look she had when things took shape. It were fearsome moments like these when the shoggoth went into hiding and the insane artist came through. She had a few reserved words for the institute's financial policies, but this wasn't the time for rage.

"Alright!" Two claps.

"Then, again! From the scene where the knight gets lost in the cave! And I want to FEEL the magnitude of the moment when the dragon roar lets the icicles fall!" Stalactites slowly grew around them. They sighed. This course was less of a freebie pick than they had ever thought.


They wouldn't trade it for the world.

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