Cut and Run Ch. 25 P- 1/2

Cut and Run Chapter 25

Part 1 of 2

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My father’s death hit my family hard. Frazziss, Angelique, Mom, and I were devastated, but the one who got the worst of it all was Pirin.

But for me, my father’s death tore at me harder than I expected. True, he had been a bit of an asshole for as long as I could remember. Yet in the last few months, he changed for the better. I enjoyed his change, what with his finally having developed a sense of humor.

It was and still is a refreshing thought that my Dad finally changed into someone I could like, even respect in my own twisted way. It still boggles my mind that that change had come about because of his having been sexually molested by a horde of hot Dragon-babes.

Would that we all could have that kind of Monty Python-esque epiphany. Huh?

After his death, I just wanted to quit. I wanted to tell the world to stop so that I could get off. Yet I couldn’t do that. I had too many responsibilities to fulfill. First, and foremost of them were my unhatched kids. I just couldn’t give up on them, no matter how much I wanted to then. They were going to need their daddy, not to mention that Frazziss would never have forgiven me.

Every day after his death, I kept asking myself the same question: “Is this all really worth it?” Every day, my despair wanted to say- NO! Yet, I fought against it every day.

Why? Because I was afraid that if I let my despair dominate the conversation, then I’d go and off myself. Which would’ve made things worse for everyone else. 

 Now you’re probably wondering why would I even contemplate that? Killing myself? That’s because not too long ago. I’d been all set to kill myself because of the shit sandwich my life had become then.

I’ll tell you something important. Once you start contemplating suicide as a valid life-choice, that’s when the Abyss peers into you. It leaves a mark on your soul that never goes away. Pardon my Nietzche quote.

Instead, I would combat that despair every day the only way I knew how. I would tell myself; That Yes! Yes, it is worth it.

Even though every time I gave myself that answer, I felt that I was lying my tail off.

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“A couple more questions before we go Mr. Belushi,” Special Agent Gordie stated as he got to his feet, signaling that he was (FINALLY!) ready to go.

“Yes?” I asked with my best tolerant smile, while doing my best to resist the urge to either bite one of them, or blast both with a fireball. Unfortunately, if I had done either, such would not keep me in the good graces of my Boss, the Good (?) Lilim Lady Mara. Long may she reign over the Demon Realm of Southern California!

‘Darn these Dragon urges!’ I smiled benignly.

“From what you’ve told us, shouldn’t all of those home invaders have been imprisoned in the walls of your cave? Put there by you. Correct?”

“I know what you’re going to ask,” I began, looking at the two MBI agents, ‘Why weren’t they there for the local constabulary to take into custody?’” I asked. They both nodded silently. I looked away and sighed.

“That’s because not all of them were imprisoned. One of them, the Wurm, I had left unconscious in my workshop. She came to and went to the aide of her companions, just as I was, uhhhh, AHEM!” I said, while clearing out my throat. “Beginning my ‘interview’ with their ringleader.”

“Ah!” Didi sighed, my eyes and her eye met as we shared a nod. “I tried my best to detain them all, but by that time most of the remainder had been freed. Whereupon my priority then was to protect my family first.” My statement seemed to disappoint them. I frowned.

“But!” I began again lifting up a finger-claw and getting their attention once more. “I did manage some valuable intel from their boss.” Agent Didi cocked her uni-brow at me then, which was an odd thing to see on a Cyclops I can tell you.

“Apparently, they were mercenaries for hire. Oh sure, they wouldn’t have minded having a Male Dragon to themselves. But, the fact of the matter is, is that they’d been hired by a third party to do the abduction.”

“Did you get the name of who hired them?” Agent Gordie asked me all stone faced. I smiled a fierce smile.

“Yes, her name: Herrassiss. My wife’s dishonored mother.” I’d have thought that they’d be wondering ‘Who the hell is Herrassis?’ For those who don’t know her, she’s the most singular amoral person I’ve had the misfortune to meet. If President #45 had a role model to aspire to- it’d have been her.

Instead, I caught them giving each other a knowing look, that told me they knew exactly who that person was. Naturally, I demanded to know why. 

“She’s suspected as being complicit in a number of other cases unrelated to yours.” Gordie deadpanned. I tried my best to get them to fork over some more info, but in the end I’d have had a better chance of getting an Ushi-Oni to let go of her boytoy.

Oh, and what was the last thing they asked about before they left?

“Tissue samples.” Agent Didi requested

“What tissue samples?” I asked, trying my best to act nonchalant.

“Mr. Belushi,” Agent Didi began while staring at me severely, “You mentioned that the Ryu had her remaining antler broken off, didn’t you?” she demanded as she folded her arms at me.

“Oh yeah, I guess I did mention that,…” I replied in an attempt to evade her, but before I could get much further Agent Gordie cut me off.

“Additionally, you mentioned that you had either drawn blood or ripped off some of their scales, several times, in your fight with those home-invaders, didn’t you?” he pointed out.

‘Dammit!’ I silently growled.

“Uhm, yeah I think I did say something along those,…..” I hemmed and hawed as best I could, not meeting their eyes.

“Those tissue samples constitute evidence, Mr. Belushi.” Didi continued, “Properly processed; they’d help us track down the individuals responsible. You do want that don’t you?” she asked me sternly.

“Uh!” I tried again, but she cut me off.

“So. Hand them over.” She continued, using her best Authority-tone.

‘Maou damn it!’ I silently harrumphed, and gave in. Within a few short minutes, I gave them what I’d already collected during my repair work. They tried to intimidate me further. Doing so in an effort to make sure I hadn’t been holding out on them.

Bastards.

Why? I didn’t see what the big whoop was.  What on earth, could a mere Dragon, do with a bunch of personal-dweomer-laced tissue samples? After all, it’s not like there were wizards for hire anymore. They went away when the Great Maou combined our world with hers.

After that, I eagerly escorted them outside to their waiting vehicle. During the fare thee well/polite goodbyes chit-chat, I couldn’t help but notice that Special Agent Didi, seemed to be preoccupied with something. She kept looking thoughtfully off into the distance, all the while she was absent-mindedly stroking her firearm.

Right then, I had a hunch that her thoughts were solely on Donnie. Who knows? Maybe the two of them would have a happy reunion. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.

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After I had concluded the business with the MBI, I had the unenviable task of making the necessary arrangements for my father’s funeral. Being as he was a Marine. I made sure that he got full military honors.

Thankfully, the local air force base was nice enough to do a fly over at the appropriate time for his memorial service. During which they chose the ‘missing man’ formation. Which I felt was fitting, considering the events of his passing.

What I hadn’t accounted for, was Frazziss’ reaction to it.

She freaked out at the sound of the jets flying close overhead. She started screaming and lashing out at everyone around her. At first, I was just as dumbfounded as everyone else had been. Then I realized why!

For you see, when Frazziss had lost her first daughter, it had been because of an Air Force pilot flying where he shouldn’t have been; below the rim in Yosemite Valley. Now, after the death of another family member, I’d been the cause of her revisiting that painful memory.

Oh, I’m just a real winner, aren’t I?

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I dreamed.

I knew I was dreaming in that surreal knowledge that comes about during a dream. Not that it did me much in the way of any good though. I couldn’t seem to divert it to something nice- like banging a bunch of Lilim or the like.

In that dream I could tell that I was in a courtyard, and it was dark. It might’ve been night time, but I couldn’t be sure.  There was no way of knowing if it was night or day.

For you see, there wasn’t a sun in the sky nor a silver moon. Instead, way up there was only an overly large blood-red moon-thing high above me. Framing that moon-thing were a number thick turbulent clouds that flashed occasionally with lightning. It would have been a great mood-setter for some ancient TV-horror movie.

Looking about, my eyes soon focused upon a knight dressed in somewhat shining armor. Unlike the tales of the Arthurian knights that I’d been taught of while I was growing up, this one was acting like an asshole. The reason being, he was sadistically harassing a Mamono child. A gazer I think it was.

She kept trying to scuttle away from him as best she could from him there in that courtyard. But he just kept running around and cutting her off just before she could manage an escape.

My chest clenched every time I heard his sneering laughter. My anger flared in spurts at her cries of mortal fear that he induced with his cruel games.

There was someone else nearby me in that dream, a Blue Oni I think. She was dressed in a severe business suit made of Jinko fur. She was shouting at me, shouting at me to do something. Anything.

And I? In that dream state, I was exhausted, I was unable to do anything more than lift a finger. In that dream-memory, I had done something important recently, something that had drained me of much of my power.

 What it had been? I had no idea right then. In an automatic response, I tried to flap my wings so as to rise up and attempt to come to the child’s aid.

It was then, that I realized that I had no wings. That somehow, in this dream, I was human again. Yet not a normal human. Nor was I a human-seeming Incubus, oh no. I was some kind of powerful Mage.

I began to ‘realize’ in that moment, like one does in a dream, where I was. I was in a place that I’d never been to before while awake. I was in Royal Makai. The capital city of the Great Maou.

The Order had invaded. Like it was often wont to do. Somehow, this particular asshole of a knight had gotten himself separated from the rest of his band. Instead of rejoining them, he’d chosen to harass an innocent Mamono child he’d stumbled across.

When I ‘remembered’ all this, I had thrown caution to the winds and tried to jump into the fray. I was determined to do something, anything to protect that child no matter the cost.

All too soon, I became aware that I had miscalculated the depths of my fatigue. For in that moment I soon realized that he was much fresher for a fight. After a couple of painful encounters, the best I could manage was to shield that child with my body. Whereupon that ‘knight’ took the full opportunity to abuse me to his fullest ability. The bastard.

After he belted me around for a short while, he tired of my getting in the way, then he tore that child out of my arms. He then began to kick her around that courtyard. And me? All I could manage then with my injuries- was to cry bitter tears of frustration and impotence.

It was terribly frustrating, realizing that I could do nothing to help that poor child, other than just lie on the flagstones of that dream courtyard, and bleed out. It was more than just a physical agony to bear mute witness to the incipient murder of that innocent child.

Then something happened to change that vile outcome.

In that moment, I heard a voice calling from within me. It offered me a way to gain all of the power I would need, and then some. I could make things right for that child. Yet, there would be a price. Instantly I knew that it was high, extreme even.

For you see, the price of saving that child’s life was the cost of someone else’s. That other person’s life was someone who had been near and dear to me for what seemed the longest time.

I hated that choice. I hated it, because I realized that once more, I’d been caught in yet another one of those ‘Lady or the Tiger’ decisions.

I almost outright rejected it. Before I did, I looked up and that was when I caught sight of the Order Knight. He had tired of his sadistic sport, and was now advancing towards that child with his face set into a grim determination.
I could see the gleam of that bloody moon, shining along the curved blade of that murderous weapon as he lifted it above his head. His intention was clear, and I had to do something to prevent it. The child saw him and screamed out her mortal terror.

So, I made that brutal choice.

I opened my mouth and…

…and I awoke from my nightmare with a breathy gasp as my heart pounded in my ears. Right then I could feel the roughness of the warm sandstone slab of my bed digging into me.

I immediately pushed myself up and looked around. I began inhaling deeply in fear, when my eyes couldn’t pierce the darkness that surrounded me. I kept looking upwards for,…what?  The Sun? Maybe, or maybe it was that blood-moon that I remember hanging above me?

The only thing I was assured of for sure, was that it left me feeling desirous of physical contact. Instinctively, I shakily reached out a paw/hand to seek out my beloved Dragon-wife: Frazziss.

I did so, to seek some reassurance and comfort in her scaled arms. Even though I was the sole (known) male Dragon in this universe, I still needed her comforting touch. For she was the one woman who I could always count on to be there. If anything else, I could count on her to leave a puddle drool on my chest.

My breath caught in my throat when I realized that I couldn’t find her in her usual place. With a mounting franticn, I expanded my search for her on her favored sleeping spot on our connubial bed.

‘Where can she be?!!!’ I thought to myself in an increasing worry, as I began to scratch and clutch all around the stone in my haste.

“FRA…!” I started to yelp in my anxiety, “ziss,…’ I trailed off, when I realized why she was absent. She had not been there for some time now., ever since her freak out at my Dad’s funeral.

It was then in the darkness of our shared bed-chamber, I turned and looked in the direction of where I knew she’d be.

Over there, beyond the door into the brooding chamber; through the darkness of our bedroom, and through the solid stonewalls of our cave, I extended my Ki-sense and I perceived her.

 I was soon calmed with that awareness. I could tell that she was slumbering, all curled up into a fetal position with our two children clutched desperately to her bosom. Like Fafnir probably had with his stolen prize Andravaranaut.

I wanted to get up and go snuggle with her, but I dared not! For I knew that if I tried, she would spit a fireball at me in her maternal over-protectiveness.

Wincing at the thought at being on the receiving end of another one of those scorching fireballs, my heart began to ache with my ever-present guilt.

Unfortunately, well over a month ago I had foolishly boasted about to the Mamono press, and allowed them to cover the ‘fact’, of my children being born. Or, more importantly, I had allowed the fact of my SON, the first-born male Dragon/Mamono in existence, to be aired far and wide to all and sundry.

In my pride, I’d forgotten that Dragons weren’t known for their restraint when it came to acquiring treasure.

The treasure that is the first juvenile Dragon-male in existence since before the Great Maou took power. It proved too valuable, too desirable.

Valuable indeed, for shortly after they attacked, I nearly lost my son because of their blundering. I did manage to save him, but his life came at a steep cost- my father’s life.

As I winced at the memory of all that, my eyes went wide when I sensed a great disturbance in the Force!

Someone had teleported theirself into my cave! Into my workshop no less! I didn’t know who then, but I knew that whoever that person was, he/she was going to pay fiercely for their impertinence!

I was especially irked by the fact that this someone had managed to bypass all of my new magical restrictions that I had created, almost as if they weren’t there.

With a loud roar, I barreled down the hallways towards the one I had sensed. Angelique happened to be there in the hall, probably on another midnight milk run.

 Just for a moment, I saw her fur poof out at the sight of me, as she raised her arms  as I passed her by.  But I ignored her, instead I focused myself solely on that damnable invader who was in my workshop!

As soon as I arrived, I slammed the door open with a loud bang!

“Who The Hell,…!” I began to bellow and then I stopped in shock. The invader turned out to be my Mom. She was in her full skimpy purple Dark-Mage outfit. I could see that she had her hands full with carrying a large wooden box. The sight of all this left me agape. I just stood and stared at her, wondering just what was going on here.

Normally, she always let me know ahead of time when she was going to ‘pop’ in. It felt awfully strange that she hadn’t thought to warn me this time. I carefully moved closer to her and then stopped to take her more fully in.

She seemed unaware that I was there, even though I was standing only a few feet away from her, with my wings spread up and outward for the intimidation factor. That and I didn’t understand how she could’ve ignored the fact that there was smoke rising from my mouth and nose.

I stared at her as she just concentrated on placing that box onto a handy table and lifted its lid. I could hear the sound of glass bottles clinking dully inside as she rummaged around in the box. As I relaxed my wings and folded them on my back. I noticed that my Mom’s eyes were streaked wet with tears. Tears that were still flowing occasionally as she started to speak, but not to me oh no. No, she was talking to herself.

“Ah! Here we are!” she said, holding up several bottles of what I recognized to be her signature ‘Dragon-Brand Healing Potion’. All of which was made with ‘freshly-squeezed’ Dragon Semen. Normally it takes her several days just to make one dose. I can’t imagine where she found the time to make what she had in her hands alone.

“Now we’ll just put you all into Allen’s First Aid box!” she continued, still not noticing my presence, as she turned around and walked herself over to same, “Where you belong!”. However, she was soon having trouble opening the box up. This was because she seemed to forget to let go of the bottles long enough to put them in.

“Oh come now!” she continued testily, with a bit of shakiness in her voice.

“Mom.” I called out, as I stepped closer to her. For some reason she didn’t seem to hear me. She just kept talking to herself and to the bottles, almost as if they were talking back.

It did seem to be a rather one-sided conversation, as she kept getting more and more frustrated trying to open my first aid box, without once setting down a single bottle. She may have been a Dark-Mage, but as far as I knew, she never had a spell for Telekinesis.

“Mom?!” I tried again, this time louder.  Still she didn’t hear me.

“Stop that! You naughty bottles!” she continued, “Now is NOT the time to be so contrary! Work with me here!” she stated sharply as she started to stumbled aimlessly around my workshop.

As she did, I noticed that her eyes crossed over me a couple of times, almost as if I wasn’t there. I realized in that moment that she’d been quivering the entire time, practically shaking in her high heel shoes. Then she said something that made me pause.

“I’m so sorry Alonzo!” she cried quietly, as her tears started to flow, “Please forgive me! I’m sorry that I didn’t leave enough!”

‘Huh?” I thought. ‘what’s that supposed to mean?’ I wondered, as I came within arm’s reach of her. It was right then that she bumped into me and finally noticed me.

“AHH!” she yelped as she jerked fearfully away from me. She almost dropped her double handful of bottles then, her eyes widening in shock. “Allen?” She stated with a quaver in her voice.

“Mom? Are you all right?” I began, as I raised my arms to steady her. She blanched and then she scooted out of my reach.

“I brought you these Allen! More healing potions!” she half-cried. “More than just a measly two bottles this time!” she stammered as she lifted the double handful of potions and held them like a protective shield in front of her. As she talked, her whole body kept shaking. I looked at her closely and noted that she was focusing solely on the bottles. I reached out then, and one by one, I quietly took them out of her hands and transferred them to a nearby table top.

When I finished, she dropped her hands and strode over to the still packed box of potions.

“See Allen!” she indicated to me as she turned her head and looked beseechingly at me. “I brought you more!” I nodded my head as I gently came closer to her.

“Many more!” she sobbingly gasped as she began reaching her hands into the box once more.

“Mom!” I said again, as I stepped closer to her. She ignored me.

“Possibly even enough to cover any scenario!” she continued hoarsely, as the bottles she attempted to grasp eluded her.

“Mom?” I said, as I finally got close enough to her and placed my paws on her shoulders. She froze up when I did.

“I think I understand now.” I said as softly as I could manage. She still wouldn’t look at me.

“You blame yourself for Dad’s death, don’t you?” Her breathing stopped.
“But it’s not. It’s not your fault Mom.” As soon as I said that, she pushed herself away from me and looked at me askance.

“NO! No Allen, it IS my fault!” she cried, “If I hadn’t been selfish and had given you,… more,..,” she stopped and started to pant as she stared into her hands, ”just…one,…more,…!” she began again while she clutched her hands shut, then she started to choke up.

“It wouldn’t have mattered Mom!” I interrupted her. Her head shot up then and glared at me accusingly.

“How!?” she demanded angrily, waving her fists about

“You know how mean life is! You told me many times, that ‘Life is inherently unfair.” I reminded her, “don’t you remember?” I asked. She didn’t answer then, she just closed her mouth. I tried to grasp her hands, but she waved me away.

“There’s always one more bill to pay,…” I began as I stepped closer to her. “One more trouble to overcome,…” I continued as I got close enough to put my hands on her shoulders, she didn’t resist me this time as my words penetrated.

“And one more hidden flaw.” We stated together. Our eyes met then, hers were holding back a rush of tears.

“I should’ve been able to do something Allen! Something….” She whispered. “I’m a full Dark-Mage now….” She croaked.

“Mom.” I said firmly, she stopped and looked back at me. “All of the healing potions in the world- won’t bring Dad back.” I said cruelly. At that, she looked at me aghast for several seconds, until finally her face screwed up and she began to sob in earnest. I then pulled her to me.

Thankfully, she didn’t resist me this time, instead she buried her head in my chest. So, for a long while, I did my best to comfort my mom through all of her tears and sobbing. She had herself plenty to share.

I don’t how long we were there, but I could feel my skin and chest scales get drenched. After a while, she stopped crying and had commenced to just the occasional sniffle.

“You still loved him, didn’t you?” I asked her unexpectedly. She stiffened for a second, and then nodded hesitantly into my chest.

“Why didn’t you tell him?” I asked. She drew away from me a bit and looked up at me. Her eyes had become swollen and red enough to match her head hair.

“I couldn’t.” she breathed, and sniffled.

“Why not?’

“Because of Pirin.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I didn’t want,… I didn’t want to ruin their happiness.” She explained.

“Oh?”

“They were such a cute couple, and so much in love. I could see that. I didn’t want to spoil it.” She said morosely, I was about to say something more, but that was when another voice piped up.

“He still loved you too.” Came Pirin’s voice. Mom and I both turned and saw her standing in the workshop’s entrance. She was crying as well.

Mom saw that and broke her embrace with me to lift an arm- to invite Pirin to join our hug. After looking at me with a frown for a second, I stood away from my Mom, and that was when Pirin grabbed us both in a grizzly bear type hug. We stayed locked together for a bit.

“I just wished that I could’ve had at least one of his babies!” she cried after a few moments.

“I think,” Mom immediately replied, “that you would’ve been an excellent mother to them.”

Well that set off a completely new round of water works all around. I included. We stayed together like that for the longest while. However, eventually we did part. When we did, Pirin decided to go back to bed.

And Mom? She still tried to get me to take the whole box of potions. However, there was no way I was going to do that. I reminded her that there were other folks, who would need them far more than I ever would. In the end, I did relent and accepted three bottles. That seemed to placate her.

After that, as she got ready to teleport home, I told her all about the MBI agents. Then when I casually mentioned something, her whole demeanor changed.

“Physical Evidence?” she stated with an intense interest. “What physical evidence?” she demanded of me with her ‘Mom’ voice. I then told her about the ‘dragon-pieces’ of tissue samples.

“Did you give those agents, ALL of it?” she asked me archly. I looked around us both for a second, and then shook my head.

She then put her hand out, palm up.

“Give.” She said quietly.

“Uhhhmm,” I began nervously.

“Now.” She said in a tone that would brook no denial, while catching my eyes with hers. I blinked and went to my secret stash of that ‘evidence’ and placed that bundle atop her outstretched hand. Nevertheless, I refused to let go as I felt her fingers intertwine with mine.

“What are you going to do…” I began. She turned her head up to me and smiled. It wasn’t a nice smile. It sent a shiver down my spine.

“Alonzo is dead because of them,” She said quietly, “and they nearly killed my grandson, plus they made Pirin cry,” she said with gravity in her voice.

“The MBI doesn’t always catch their quarry, Allen. But if I catch up to that gang before they do, I guarantee that they will never be found.” She vowed in a way that made a chill wind blow through my soul. With that, I relaxed my hold on the bundle remainder, as I stared at her for a long moment.

“Good.” I whispered.

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In the days afterward, Pirin continued in her mourning.

 Oh, Frazziss, Angelique, and I did our best to comfort and console her. However, in the end our efforts just weren’t enough.

As the days turned into weeks, Pirin spent more and more of her time in bed, doing nothing more than to clutch at a bundle of my father’s clothing, breathing in his fading scent, and dampening them with her tears.

She would eat, but only after being coaxed, and even then just barely enough. When she stopped eating completely, was when I managed to convince Mitzi the Shoggoth-doc to come and pay a Cave-call. She inspected Pirin and then reported to me.

“What can we do?” I asked.

“Nothing, Allen.” She stated quietly as she set aside her Cockney accent. As all of her yellowish eyes blinked sadly in her head, chest, and other places all over her. “It is a condition that we Mamono call: Saudade. She could continue, but I doubt that she will.”

“What is Saw Date?” I demanded.

“Sau-dade.” Mitzi oozily replied, correcting me. “It is an emotion that Mamono feel when parted from their males. It is a form of deep melancholy that develops when both a Mamono and her mate, are forced to be apart. It usually means that the longer the parting continues, the stronger the Saudade grows. If she is forced to be away from her mate for too long, she will die.”

“What?!” Surely there is something,..!” I began.

“No.” Mitzi sighed firmly, shaking her head. “You do not see Allen, I forget at times that you were not born Mamono.” she replied, looking at me sadly.

“Then explain it to me.” I demanded grumpily.

“When a Mamono loves,” she began, looking at me indulgently, “she loves with ALL of her being. She does not hold back even the tiniest bit. Not like a human woman will. It is one of the reasons why Mamono are so fearsome when it comes to keeping their mates.”

“I get that, but other Mamono-widows manage to continue to live on after their husbands have died.”

“Yes, Allen they do.” Mitzi shook her head sadly again, one of her tendrils dripped off a portion of herself onto her chest. Which then reformed itself into her doctor’s coat. “But that is only because they have been with them for many years first.” She stated. That caught me off guard.

“But Pirin was with my Dad for only a few short weeks.” I replied thoughtfully.

“Precisely.”

“Huh?” I asked all intelligently. Mitzi sighed once more and rolled all of eyes.

“Look,’ she began. I tried to do as she asked but have you ever tried to stare down a Shoggoth? It ain’t easy I tell you!

“When a Mamono comes to love a male, she invests her innate energy into him through sex. Some may call it Demonic Energy, but that is only half-correct. The other half of that energy is called ‘dweomer-energy’ and it extrudes from that particular Mamono. For example, Pirin infused Alonzo with her Dragonewt energy, and Frazziss infused you with her own Dragon energy.”

That statement of hers jogged one of my memories from way back. Back to that time when Frazziss had invited me to drink her family’s heirloom Succubus Nostrum. It had been only one-half of two liquid-energy potions; the other half came from a pendant that she’d been wearing around her neck.  A pendant she never wore again.

“Now, I know that you’re aware that Demonic Energy is what causes a male to turn into an Incubus; Yes?” she asked, I nodded and she continued.

“The individual dweomer-energy, which comes from a Mamono, is what causes her desired male to turn into an Incubus suited for her.”

“Oh!” I replied, “I had no idea.”  Mitzi smiled. “But my dad was already a Dragon-Incubus!”

“Yes,” she nodded, “but not one suited for Pirin alone. Additionally, once a Mamono has started on the path to change her male, it acts as a sort of ‘sense’ as it continues to compel her to complete the transition.”

“So why doesn’t that dweomer-sense give up? There’s no way that it can be accomplished, not now!”

“Actually, it can.”

“But how?”

“She can follow him.”

“Follow him? Where?” Mitzi didn’t reply, instead she kept her face still. Then after a short bit, I got it.

“Into, death?” I gasped. She nodded once. I gulped, suddenly afraid.

“You mean THAT is why she’s pining away? Her innate dweomer-sense is killing her?” Mitzi nodded again.

“Yes. For only in death can they be rejoined.” Mitzi looked at me sadly.

“So that’s it? I’m just supposed to let that happen?” Mitzi refused to look at me by way of answer.

“Surely there is something can I do to stop it! I refuse to allow this! I can’t,…I won’t let her die!” I cried in half-anger, half-fear.

“You may have to, Allen.” She replied. I then demanded more information from her. I just about begged in an effort to get her to try to find out if there was a way, any way to bring her back. Mitzi promised me she would research it.

After several days of consultation, she gave me a reply.

“To keep her alive, you will have to find something that she wants more than she wants Alonzo.” Her answer left me feeling less than satisfied, but it was all she could dredge up from lore.

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I stopped what I was doing when I sensed a gate to the Dragon Realm open up just outside my Cave’s entrance.

Instantly I was on high alert as I jumped to my feet and spread my wings! I was all set to do battle in that moment, I was so frustrated. Every one of my senses, both magical and not, went into high gear. By the time I arrived and the gateway had stabilized, I had ‘chambered’ a fireball- all set to go for some payback!

I was crestfallen to discover whom it was that came through. It turned out to be Dame Nizzyl, Chief Archivist of the Dragon records. Even as old as she was, she still cut a fine slim figure of a woman, her green-winged silhouette stood starkly against the greyish granite of my homes exterior.

As soon as she stepped foot onto the ground, she looked around and caught sight of me.

“Lord Loknarr.” She stated with a frown as she adjusted her granny-glasses on her nose, with her grey-streaked hair tied back into a severe bun.

“Dame Nizzyl.” I replied stiffy, for some reason the gateway behind her remained open as we spoke. Which was odd. As I tried to not be impolite and look over her shoulder into the recesses of the Gateway.

“What is the meaning of your sudden, unannounced arrival?” I demanded pointedly. If she took any umbrage at my curtness, she gave no sign.

“I have been sent here on behalf of the Dragon Council.” She replied efficiently. “Your recent troubles with your son and family, have caught their attention and they wish to offer their assistance.”

“That’s nice of them.” I almost didn’t quite growl back then. “What kind of assistance?’

“A contingent of security personnel to help guard you and your family.” She replied.

‘Oh, that’s really fucking helpful,’ was my first thought, ‘where the fuck were you folks, when my old man needed you?’ I complained unfairly.

“Uhhhh,”I began as I bit back my first reply, while I did my best to keep my wings politely bunched up against my back. “That’s very nice of them to make such a generous offer,…but,…” I continued, but she interrupted.

“It is not a request, Lord Loknarr.” She shot back while she turned and made a gesture towards the still open Gateway.

Immediately a dozen or so Dragons of every species marched out and formed ranks around and behind her with a clanking precision. There was even a freaking Jabberwock of all folks at the head of the line!

Every one of them were dressed in the official Dragon Realm-Guard crafted armor. That armor was cunningly crafted to make the wearer appear to be a Dragon of old, complete with wing armor (!), and was designed to allow the wearer to move around quickly.

“Now just a gods-be-damned-fucking-minute!” I yelled as I felt my wings spread to full extent involuntarily. Dame Nizzyl kept her cool, and didn’t match my wing spread. However, she did surprise me.

“Be silent.” She stated quietly, while using ’The Voice’.
You know which voice I am talking about. Moms and Drill Sergeants have it.
I found myself obeying her autonomically. Suddenly feeling like I did that one time my Mom caught me rifling through her purse. I clammed up, and pulled my wings in while I hung my head in shame. My eyes flared when I realized what had just happened, and so easily too.

Dame Nizzyl then stepped lightly over to me and then leaned her head till her horns nearly touched my own. I sullenly looked back at her.

“Lord Loknarr, you just recently lost your father;” she began almost in a whisper. I struggled to listen to her over the sound of the afternoon’s breeze. ”and, nearly your son as well.” Ok, that SO got my attention as her eyes and mine met.

“I am sorry for your loss.” She stated contritely. Looking back at her, I could see that she was being honest in her condolence. It humbled me.

“Thank You.”

“I can also understand the anger you undoubtedly feel, at the Council’s invasion of your personal rights and responsibilities.” She continued. “But you are aware of the fact, that both you and your son are considered to be ‘National Treasures’ of the Dragon Nation. Are you not?”

“Yeah, I suppose I’d heard something along those lines.” I admitted with a resentful frown.

“Then you will understand that the Council feels the need to protect our Treasures.” She stated.

“But what’s the big whoop!” I cried, feeling frustrated beyond all measure. “I was able to fight them off!”

“The problem Lord Loknarr, isn’t a question of your ability, but more of your experience.” She said in a way that pissed me off even more. But I managed to keep quiet as she continued talking.

“Legally, yes you are an adult in Dragon Society. However, in many ways you are practically still a whelp when it comes to Dragon traditions.” I started to protest, but she raised a paw- palm out, demanding my patience. Seeing it, I shut my mouth. But I seethed.

“In Dragon culture,” she began, “there are many ‘gangs’, for lack of a better word; who engage in behaviors that are considered less than savory by the rest of Society. Yet they are tolerated, because they are useful.”

“Useful? How!?” I demanded, angry again. She gave me a half smile.

“Odd jobs. Sometimes, some will hire them to assist those who wish to acquire ill-gotten goods. Such as a House-Treasure, for a price of course.”

“Organized crime?” I asked dumbfounded. She nodded.

“You do know that those who hold the greatest treasure of a House can become the Head of that House?” she asked. I half-smiled humorously by way of response. 

“Such has been a tradition with all Dragons since time immemorial.” She explained. I sighed and nodded, remembering Herrassiss’ behavior after she discovered that her precious family heirloom, ‘Succubus Nostrum’ had been finally used, and her subsequent loss of status.

“That gang that killed your father are considered as being on the level of street-thugs. Hoodlums. Which is probably why Herrassiss hired them. She couldn’t afford anything more.” She stated, as I leaned back and pressed my tail into the ground for support. The fact that Herrassiss had fallen so far, amused me.

‘Yeah, I can see that.’ I mused. ‘It does make sense considering how seedy they were.’ Then I stopped, as it began to dawn on me where this topic was headed. I lifted my head up and stared at her.

“Ah yes, I see that you begin to understand now.” She smiled then. A sad smile. “There are other gangs out there in Dragon Society. They are much more organized and efficient. They could be considered to be the equivalent of the Zipangese Yakuza.”

“Oh shit.” I gulped, thinking of the stories I’d heard of their brutal, yet elegant efficiency.

“Thus, you have been assigned a platoon of elite Guards. To protect you and yours.”

Oh, I grumbled and complained something fierce about it, but in the end, I accepted them all. To be honest, I did like them for being there. They were good as backups, as I couldn’t be on alert ALL of the time.

However, I also ended up hating it for two reasons. The first of which, by the time they arrived Frazziss had chilled enough to venture out of the brooding chamber for short jaunts.

With the arrival of so many strange Dragons stomping their way all over the place- she freaked out and steadfastly refused to come out at all. After that I ended up having to feed her as she refused to accept any food that didn’t come by me first.

Now the second part? I ended up having to create a set of stone ‘barracks for the entire troop. I effectively ended up having to double the size of my cave to house them all. Sheesh!

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There I was on the edge of a cliff overlooking Hetch-Hetchy reservoir, taking a breather and relaxing my wings from my rounds as the Yosemite Minder, when I ‘sensed’ Captain Zomonti coming near.

Captain Zomonti, it turns out, was both the Jabberwock I’d first seen, and the officer in charge of my guest Dragon Guard Garrison. I chose to ignore her arrival, as I was still peeved about Frazziss’ reaction to them. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was unfair of me to act like that, I know.

Still, I didn’t want to be interrupted right then. But when she plopped several squishy sounding somethings alongside me, I had to pay attention. It was odd that I didn’t hear her say her usual- “Captain Zomonti reporting!’ in her officious tone. So, I just sighed and turned to look and see what she’d ‘gifted’ me with.

What I saw down there freaked me out! There was a pile of a half-dozen or so severed Dragon Tails.

“WHAT THE FUCK!” I yelled, as I just about jumped out of my skin. At that I looked up and saw Zomonti standing stiffly at attention, facing me. She seemed mightily satisfied with something. I don’t know what precisely.

“WHAT?” I yelled, all disgusted, “is the meaning of,…of,….of,….” I said, trying to keep myself under control while gesturing at the still bleeding tails. She then pulled off her Dragon-head helmet. This allowed her golden hair to fall freely down around her sweaty face and neck. 

“My team and I have just intercepted another one of those home-invasion gangs!” she replied crisply.

“Ok.” I rasped, still rattled. “But what has that got to do with,…” I began, pointing to the collection of Dragon tails at my feet. My question perplexed her.

“Oh, my apologies sir.” She frowned, “I thought that you’d be pleased with me and my troop’s efforts.” She chided me with a frown crossing her face, and both of her, (I don’t know what to call them? Tentacle Xenomorphs?) bobbing all about in front of me.

You know the ones I’m talking about, those tentacle thingies that sprout from a Jabberwocks back. Hers had more than a passing resemblance to the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. I STILL can’t watch that movie series.

“What do those have to do with,…” I said and then stopped. Zomonti smiled then and began to explain.

“These tails are the ones we removed from the gang who chose to take advantage of your absence.” She replied. That got me!

“But how does removing their tails do any good? As far as I’m aware, just about any Dragon can regenerate her tail within a few short hours.” I pointed out, while thinking of a certain ‘Dragon-Maid’ hentai series. (Which is a lot more spot on than you’d think.)

Zomonti then drew her standard issue Dragon blade. I’d seen them before, but never unsheathed. Now that I had the chance to get a good look at one, in a safe situation no less, I looked and began to inspect it. I noticed that it had a strange aura about it.

“This is a Morganti blade,” she began to explain, “It is a relic of the Dragaeran Empire of old; it has the inherent ability to slow down a Dragon’s healing ability for any cut made by it.”

“Oh? Really? That’s good to know.” I grinned, suddenly cheerful at the thought. “How long will it take them to regrow theirs?”

“Several years.” She replied with a smile crossing her face. “That way, anyone who sees them, will know that they’ve been naughty.” She continued.

‘How appropriate!’ I thought, ‘Long term humiliation!’ I then matched that smile of her as we shared a moment.

“Hmmmm.” I said aloud, as I began to think about it. “Well done!” I barked, and then frowned. “But still Captain, their tails? I huffed.

“If you prefer Lord Loknarr, I and my troops could resort to the habits of the Guards in the days before the Great Maou.” She pointed out.

“What habits are those?” I asked, curious.

“We could cut off their heads instead.”

“Tails are fine.” I replied immediately. She just gave me a toothy grin by way of reply.

Though, I have to admit that I was tempted to place those tails on display outside my cave, as a warning. In the end, I decided against it. The Lilim I reported to, Lady Mara, probably wouldn’t have approved for one thing.

So yeah, in the end, I’m glad I did accept the presence of the Guards. They came in handy as a deterrent, yes. They were good for guarding the Cave, but they seemed to get underfoot everywhere I went.

Now think about it, dozens of all kinds of young and vigorous Dragons, all female, all hanging around the only known fertile MALE Dragon. *sigh*,

It got to the point that I couldn’t take a shower without one of them ‘accidentally’ doing the same thing, at the same time. Their intention being clear.

Annoyingly, soon my Cave and the surrounding Valley became the stomping grounds of dozens of both on and off-duty Dragon Guards. It ended up that I couldn’t turn my head, to look from one end of the Valley to the other without seeing or sensing one. They were in the air, land, or water, every time I looked out.

Ok, ok, I have to be fair. Some of them did already have husbands, and a few of those that did, did ask for and received permission to set up a household in the local area.

Hmph. Still, maybe I should consider putting out some oversized Dragonfly-strips?

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A week after the Guard had arrived, I finally managed to ‘convince’ the Dragon Council to allow my old man to be interred in the Dragon’s graveyard. It being the final resting spot that nearly all Dragons go to rest when they die.
Now, if by convince you mean I beat the crap out of the council’s proxy champion, and then yes I did ‘convince’ them. 

I had come to know that graveyard well, because that was where Urmat (which means eternal), had been buried. I guess you could say that she was my mentor and sponsor.

I came to know her gravesite well, for I was the one who personally stone-molded her crypt for her. I did that, because when I first came to the Dragon-Realm, she had done Frazziss and I a good turn. Naturally, I felt the need to do something for her as a thank you. Particularly since the cost of that good turn, had been her life.

After seeing to and being satisfied with, the final touches of my father’s crypt. I then proceeded over to Urmat’s burial vault to pay my respects to her. And perhaps to do some maintenance and repair since my last visit.

When I arrived at it, I was left dumbfounded!  For when I’d been there previous, everything had been squared away. All of the corbels, cornices, and cruciforms, had been in their proper place.

However, this time? Every portion looked as if they’d all been thrown about; pillars were knocked down, and one crypt wall looked as if someone had punched their way out of it! It looked like a battle had raged there. Of her body, there was no sign.

‘Grave Robbers!’ was my first impression as I felt my anger boiling over. The thought of it was insane. Particularly since just about every nearby vault was untouched. Why the vandals had chosen just hers, was beyond me.

“WHAT? THE FUCK!” I yelled resoundingly at the sight of so much desecration! Loudly enough to make a number of other nearby mourners turn and give me a dirty look. Man, I was so angry then I can tell you! You know what really pissed me off?

No one, absolutely no one, seemed to care!
A couple of the nearby mourners gave me a dirty look, and then they started approaching as if they were going to chew me out. The weird thing is, once they saw what I was all pissed about, they stopped and stared for a second and then turned away as if it was something embarrassing.

In frustration, I went to complain about it to the Graveyard Caretakers, but even they refused to talk to me about it. Why they refused to discuss it, I had no idea. It was just so damnably infuriating.

Eventually, I was able to get ahold of Qirri in her cave/office. She was my advocate from previous Realm visits. She was a jet and amber-colored western type Dragon, with conch like black and gold horns. What she had to say then blew me away.

“Loknarr!” she began as patiently as she could, after I explained why I was there. “I don’t have time for this!” she growled heavily, while she spread and flapped her wings indignantly at me.  Seeing as how I’d managed to piss her off, I nearly backed down. However, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I remembered how much Urmat had done for me and mine.

“Make the time!” I barked back. “This is Urmat, remember her? That nice old dragon lady,…”I began. Qirri cut me off.

“I can’t forget her? She was MY Great-Aunt!” she snapped. That cut me short.

“Oh? I had no idea.” I replied, somewhat mollified. “Then why aren’t you as pissed about her gravesite as,…”I began, but that was when she raised a paw to silence me, I stopped and waited for her to go on.

“What you have stumbled across, is something that we Dragons consider to be taboo.”

“Taboo? I was told that the Graveyard was created to prevent grave robbing not promote it! Mist continent medicines and all!”

“IT IS NOT GRAVEROBBING!” she yelled at me all of her canine teeth flashing.

“Then what the hell is it?!” I demanded. At that point, Qirri raised both paws and looked all around her as if she were afraid someone would over hear us. That odd behavior left me mystified, as it was something out of the ordinary. Dragons don’t have the rep for being stealthy on much.

Once she was satisfied with our privacy, she gave me a cold stare, closed her eyes and sighed heavily. She then motioned me to lean closer and then spoke into one my spikey ears.

“It is not graverobbing.” She began, “instead it is something that we Dragons prefer to not speak about. The reason being, is because Dragons have been in existence for far, far longer than the mud-monkeys, AHEM!” she coughed,” Excuse me…, humans, think that they have.”

“But what does?” I began, still not understanding. She waved me into silence.

“Humans think that they are high and mighty for having a recorded history that extends back to a mere pawful of years.” She said, clutching one paw in front of my face. “A mere five-thousand, at best.” She huffed.

“We Dragons, on the other paw, can trace our recorded history backwards for millions of years.” Qirri glared at me then. I stared back.  She sighed after a moment and continued.

“It was, and still is, a major blow to our pride when we discovered the major flaw in our agreement with the Great Maou.” She started, and then paused.

“And that is?” I asked after waiting for her to finish her thought.

“That the only way any one of us can reproduce…” she kept silent with a look of severe distaste.

“Was with one of those ‘Mud-Monkeys!” I interjected and then began to laugh. But I was soon cut off when Qirri slammed both of her paws down onto the desk in between us, growling fiercely with her wings extended to full reach. I opened my mouth to ask the obvious.

“I’m getting to that!” she snarled, then took a minute to get herself under control and then she began again. “The urge to reproduce is a strong one in just about every species. You know this from the time you remember being a human, yes?” she asked, I nodded.

“The same goes for Dragons, but even more so. Unlike humans, we Dragons look upon making more Dragons as a noble cause. It is a way in which we see as improving the Universe.”

“So, the more Dragons the better the universe will be, automatically?” I asked with sarcasm lacing my voice. Qirri nodded absentmindedly, not paying attention to my wit.

“Thus, we tend to have high standards when it comes to choosing a mate.” She sighed, deliberately not meeting my eyes.

“I still don’t get the connection.” I replied. Qirri rolled her eyes and gave me a pitying look.

“Our mate standards can be so high, that sometimes we end up dying before finding someone worthy enough to be our mate. Urmat never had a mate as far as I’m aware.”

“Oh.” I said, still not quite understanding.

“When that happens, even though they are dead, the urge to create babies is still there. It is still percolating away, determined to create another generation one way or another.”

“Urm?” I grunted, raising an eyebrow as I started to comprehend where this story was going. Qirri finally folded her wins across her back before she resumed. Then, I had a flash of inspiration.

“You mean to tell me, that Dragons can become,…zombies?” Qirri grimaced at me for a moment and then looked away. I leaned back.

“Damn.” I replied thoughtfully. I’d known that humans were capable of becoming undead. I knew that the Undead were yet another form of Mamono that the Great Maou had influenced. But this! I was blown away enough to snicker. She grimaced.

“Yes. That urge to mate, is so strong it has them rise from the dead. All just to seek out a male to mate with, only this time around they’re not anywhere near so exacting in their standards.” She grimaced. “They just want babies.” She growled.

“Undoubtedly, by now Urmat has found her way to the Human world, or another one that intersects with the Dragon Realm, to seek out a mate. Once she finds a male, she will not be anywhere near as choosy as she was in life.”

“I would imagine that that and that alone is enough to cause Dragons some heart burn.” I shot back as I smiled at the thought of so much humiliation an Undead ‘Love-Lizard’ would cause their society.

“Indeed.” Qirri sniffed, “Now if you will excuse me, I have a great deal of important work to attend to.” She finished meaningfully. I took the hint and left. I offered to pay her for her time, but she just waved me off while she buried in nose in some ancient Dragon book of law.

‘Other worlds?’ I thought just before I left the Dragon Realm, so I naturally had to ask someone about it. I chose a Librarian. As it turned out, Lessa was more than happy to continue with our last ‘overdue’ discussion. You know how huffy librarians get when it comes to something being overdue…

After I finished paying my ‘late-fees, for lack of a better term, Lessa told me what Qirri had meant by other worlds intersecting with the Dragon Realm.

“Oh yes!” she said as she put her clothing back on, and commenced combing her hair. It had gotten into a bit of a tangle during my ‘fee-paying’. “The Dragon-Realm is bordered by a number of other worlds! Essentially any world that has a Dragon in it, can access ours!” she said cheerfully. “The human worlds, Royal Makai, Wonderland, Pandemoni…”

“Wait! What was that?” I interrupted, “Wonderland? You mean to tell me that Wonderland can be accessed from the Dragon Realm?”

“Yes! Of course! Where do you think that the Jabberwocks keep coming from?” She replied, which caused me to reply with a surprised blink.

“As far as I’m told,” she continued with a knowing smile, “the Gateway to the Queen of Hearts’ realm is supposed to be somewhere in the isle of Albion. Which itself is beyond the Doggerland mountains far to the Northwest of here.”

“If you really wanted to find it, I’d suggest you ask a Jabberwock to show you the way. Though I doubt she’d guide you there for free!” Lessa smiled knowingly, undoubtedly thinking about what kind of toll said Jabberwock would demand.

‘Didn’t Donnie mention something about finding a way to Wonderland?’ I mused idly as I made my way home.

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