She had tried hard to work out her frustration by throwing stones of chipped masonry at the dry, cracked and ancient marble fountain before her. Around lay the ruins of the once-proud Uth Nagor, but she was not in the mood to pay attention to the fallen city's faded beauty. And all her stone throwing had achieved was sore shoulder muscles and a few more chips on the broken feet that had once belonged to a statue of a toga-wearing woman bearing a vase pouring water. She was also not in the mood to wonder for herself what had once been attached to those feet. Quickly becoming fed up with the pointless activity, she slumped down onto the walled square’s one remaining intact bench looking on to the ornamental fountain and held her head in her hands.

Willing her eyes to stop watering, she tried to wiped them on her forearm, but her white and black tiger-striped metal bracers made that a bit difficult so in the end she just sat and let her tears flow freely. Not sobbing, she instead just sat eyes closed and head bowed sadly, ignoring the warm caress of the late afternoon sunlight on the back of her head as it warmed through her deep red-brown hair.

After a time the sun went in and a few drops of rain began to fall, quickly escalating into a downpour but she did not care about getting wet and continued to sit there alone, the cool rain water running down her face and mixing with her tears.

She did not know how much time had passed when a sudden shadow fell upon her. Opening her eyes which now felt puffy she looked up to find herself confronted with the dark, horned and winged silhouette of a dracosvulf looking down on her with its glowing eyes.

“What do you want?” Meccha asked Blackjack, not in the mood for the cursed dragon and his attitude. She blinked in surprise when he tilted his head to one side and wordlessly held out a white handkerchief. She looked at in dubious confusion as it hung from one clawed finger, fluttering in the slight breeze and dancing as big raindrops hit it before accepting.

“You are getting snot on my city.” he explained as she took it. Meccha looked up at him sharply, the graceful arcs of her eyebrows drawing into a frown until she realised that there was actually no note of scorn or sarcasm in his voice. In fact, he had almost sounded kind. Now that was a word Meccha would not normally associate with her fellow Daemonslayer, “I was joking. You don't need to look at me like that.” he sounded almost defensive.

“Sorry, Black'. I'm kind of not in the best mood right now.”

“Yes, I know.” he said flatly. Again Meccha could not detect any of his usual hostility and her gaze fell back down to the cracked paving slabs. With a sigh she inwardly resolved not to allow her feelings to be hurt if Blackjack was up to some kind of trick and then shuffled along the stone bench, allowing room for him to sit if he wanted to. He duly did so, settling himself far back on the bench so his tail could hang down comfortably. Out of the corner of her eye she could see his scarred face, somewhere between canine and draconic and framed by his thick black mane, turned toward her but she did not lift her head to meet the intense stare of those dragon eyes. Blackjack looked away again, then ventured “Dare I ask...?”

Meccha shrugged unhappily and snuffled sadly. “I made Shade mad at me. Again.” They sat in silence and Meccha considered asking him if he would mind leaving her to herself, but she realised that somehow she felt better not being on her own. After a while she noticed she was no longer being rained on, even though the big drops of the summer shower were still landing on Blackjack, running off his furless muzzle and steadily plastering the straggly strands of his mane to his head as it got wetter and wetter. She looked up and saw the leathery expanse of his right wing, the thin membranes slightly lighter than black as the light of the sky above penetrated the skin a little as it stretched over her, sheltering her.

She gave him a weak smile, “Thanks.” she said, with only a sniffle left of her earlier tears.

Apparently lost in his own thoughts Blackjack looked up at her, thick eyebrows raised as he seemed almost surprised to see her there, then he gave the female werewolf an almost friendly smile, “So… Wish to talk about it?”

Meccha turned her gaze ahead of her to the ancient, cracked fountain and heaved a sigh. What the heck. She thought, If he is just somehow satisfying his twisted sense of humour, then he still can't make me feel any worse than I do already. For some reason she felt a twinge of guilt at judging her companion so harshly, but dismissed it. “We just had this dumb fight. I don't even remember what started it but I think I hurt him when I said he might not have a soul but it didn't mean he has to act like he hasn't got a heart.”

Blackjack nodded, having known F'lair much longer than Meccha had “Yeah, Mech'. That might have just about done it for F'lair.” he did not need to add that, being a dire werewolf and given his 'situation', F'lair was more than a little sensitive about remarks made in such a vein. That would have been stating what he was well aware F'lair's lover already knew. Instead of saying anything he left a leading silence and was soon rewarded by Meccha filling it.

“That was harsh of me, I guess, but I was so mad. He's been really touchy lately and it's not like he's the only one around here who's lost their soul.” She was, of course, referring to the events of the previous year when she had fallen afoul of Saragoth and finally chosen her own usename, saking it after that which had been stolen from her, Soul.

Blackjack gave her a strange look that she could not read, but he said nothing. After a short pause she continued, reasoning with herself without really realising it, “Ok, so he is undead and has to put up with Raven and stuff, but he's not the only one who's lost everything. Immortality has its price too: so far in my life I've seen everything and everyone I've ever been close to die or fade away. Destroyed by time.”

Blackjack gave her another look and this time she recognised it as 'you think you're telling me something I don't know?'. She quickly carried on before he gave her a lecture about being a nearly eight thousand year-old dragon, “Ok, so you're this ancient dragon who's been there, done that, forgot the tee-shirt and brought back the scars instead. Cursed but still a dragon. You lot are, I dunno, designed for longevity. Your minds are different. The human (or near-human now in me and F'lair's case I guess) mind, on the other hand, isn't equipped to withstand change over such a long time... we're supposed to be short-lived.... What?” she faltered.

The eldest Daemonslayer was giving her a look of poorly concealed amusement she found off-putting. He cracked another smile, “That's the abridged version of exactly what I said to you three months ago. Does that mean you actually listened to something I said?”

Meccha realised she was smiling in spite of herself, “Your jokes are crap,” she said flatly.

Blackjack just shrugged his grey-furred shoulders, “So why were you smiling?”

“I was amused at how pathetic it was,” she teased.

Not bothering with a comeback, Blackjack just stuck his pointed tongue out at her in a noiseless raspberry. Then he made his gambit, “So. Are you going to sit and sulk all day or are you going to go speak to F'lair?”

At this Meccha's face fell, “What's the point? I pissed him off. He'll be off sulking somewhere and then if I try and talk to him about it then it'll go wrong and we'll end up fighting again.” she gazed glumly at the floor once more, “What's the point?”

“Correction: ‘What are the points’. There's two.” Blackjack held up two taloned fingers to illustrate, closing each to his fist in turn as he counted them off, “One: you two are very, very tiresome when you're acting like this and it annoys me because it inevitably ends up with me getting whinged at from both sides. Two: Shade isn't sulking – he's out looking everywhere for you because he loves you, he'd do anything for you and he's mad at himself for upsetting you!” Blackjack frowned a little and his gaze slid off to one side, as though a discomforting thought had just occurred to him, “What a nauseating thing of me to say. And look! Oh, the joys of good timing...” he said under his breath, looking back to her.

That's the sarcasm back. Thought Meccha as the sun, as if on cue, reappeared and the rainfall petered out, soon stopping completely. But her main preoccupation was with what the dracosvulf had said previously. She jumped up from the bench ready to go “He's looking for me? Where did you see him last?” she asked, unable to keep the suddenly bouyant note from her voice. Then her aspect changed to one of suspicion, “Hey. Did he put you up to this?”

Blackjack just gave a short, derisive laugh, “You know F'lair better than that! And you also know me better than that: no one 'puts me up' to anything!” He was right. F'lair was not the sort to get someone else to help sort his problems out for him. Evidently Blackjack could tell that was what Meccha was thinking as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder, “He was out in front of the Ziggurat last I saw him.”

Meccha beamed at her friend then hurried off in that direction, skipping over the low walls of the fountain's pool, her feet splashing in little puddles left by the rain. She paused and turned back to him, “Thanks, Syrax!” she called smiling happily then broke into a run, disappearing out of sight between the buildings.

The dripping wet dracosvulf considered calling after Meccha to remind her he preferred people, his few friends included, to employ his usename, not his real one. But he decided not to bother. For some reason he was feeling too good about himself to do so. He clicked his upper incisors against the gold ring piercing his lower lip, “Crap,” he said quietly, thinking about what he'd just done, “I must be getting soft.” He got up and shook himself off like a dog, sending clouds of water droplets glittering though the sunlit air. Snapping his wings open had a similar effect, sending the rainwater flying away. Beating his wings a couple of times more, he considered his actions again, “Then again, I do feel something of a nice, warm, fuzzy sensation deep down... I think I'll go find something cute and fluffy to kill.”


All characters, places and anything else portrayed in this story is copyright 2004 to the author, Isabelle Davis (Drakhenliche), and may not be used without express permission. Meccha/Soul (c) Elsa Lai 2004

Comments, questions, whatever, can be addressed to me at the www.NecroDragon.com forum.