Author: Denigoddess2001
Addy:
Date: 06/25/02
Title
Saga:
Episode: 1.0
Rating:
Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles. They belong to Disney. No infringement intended. Please do not sue ~I'm broke. All original characters belong to their Deity, Denigoddess2001.

All passages appearing in brackets [] are personal thoughts or psionic communications.

Summary:



8/29/2006 1:39 AM

Daria wiped a light sheen of perspiration from her brow. She took the Crimson Gargoyle's room at Summerlands and made it her private, sacred domain. With dustpan and broom in hand she swept away the debris of Kiarite stone skin that littered the light oak floor. Wood oil painstakingly applied hid the talon scratches on the hardwood floors. Things that belonged to the crimson Gargoyle were attentively catalogued and stored away should he ever return and claim them. The jinni combated the bittersweet wraiths that lingered in that room where that had once been one heart blending ~body and soul. Manual labor was sweet relief from the ceaseless pain that tore at her heart. Travail replaced Djinni Magick as Daria forced herself to find a focus in moil.

It distracted her from the affliction of a broken heart. She said the words as a mantra. "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

[I never knew it would be like this.] Daria scrubbed furiously. She fought back tears and cleared the cleric's presence from the boudoir. She visualized every drop of sweat from her exertion as another part of the Gargoyle's dominion purged from her pith. [I trusted him, I believed in him and he LIED to me!]

"Arrggh!" She bellowed aloud -part scream and mostly inhuman growl. Daria fought creeping memories that taunted her from the edges of her conscious psyche. She polished the floor unrestrainedly; she gave every scratch her utmost concentration as one by one they vanished beneath the application of wood oil. "I will not waste another tear on him -NOT ONE!"

She pounded her fist against the hard oak beneath her. Every nerve in her body cried out in feminine rage. Her vehement outcry resounded hollowly against freshly painted, barren walls. A quiet voice taunted the Djinni in the back of her mind. [Liar, you know better.]

She vowed silently to be strong, noble and honorable. A sharp pain sliced across the skin of her palm. The carving agony brought Daria back from her incensed brooding. Fuchsia droplets of blood fell from the gash across her lavender skin. Stunned, Daria slowly brought her hand before her eyes. A protruding shard of fractured gem lay embedded in her tender flesh. Daria acknowledged at once as one of the small glittering pieces of the amethyst bottle that held her in bondage well nigh three thousand years. Inasmuch as the spell's negation by Queen Titania, the Genie bottle cracked and crumbled into dust.

No longer bound in servitude to grant wishes, Daria was woman set free.

"No, I'm not." Her clenched fist pounded the oaken boards of the hardwood floor. She watched mutely the last drop of wood oil seep into the light oak. Then sanguine globules amalgamated with the oil. The pleasant scent of lilacs filled the room. [Now instead of manacles around my wrists, I just have chains wrapped around my heart.] "Damn, I sound pathetic."

She felt a strange vibration from the communicator badge pinned to her gray tee shirt. Daria's fingers pressed the gem inlaid in the cent of the platinum device. "Daria here."

"Sister, a matter of nonpareil consequence commands your consideration." The Scottish lilt filled the room. "To me."

"Later, O Great One." Daria rolled her eyes in exasperation. [Oh, joy. Little Brother's in full-throttle "clan leader" mode. The testosterone's flowing heavy tonight.] "I'm a bit busy right now. I'm cleaning."

"Daria..." An ominous rumble reverberated bombastically in the empty bedchamber. "I jest not."

"I answer no one's summons." Her brown eyes narrowed at implied warning. "Not even yours."

"Daria..."

"Ask me nicely." A smirk crossed her full lips. Daria counted silently on one hand the length of time until Demetrius' exploded in a verbal rampage.

"Daria...please, I need you." A heavy sigh was his reply.

She heard the fatigue in that baritone. A feeling of triteness settled on her as she considered how much dedication he infused into the position of clan leader.

"Sorry, I know things are tough right now. Give me a second to clean up this mess and I'll be right there." Arms folded and brown eyes blinked. Gone were bare walls and the heavy fragrance of life force and lilacs. The scent of wood oil was all that remained. In a dazzling scintillation of lavender smoke and light, she left the bedchamber behind her. Within seconds, she hovered a few inches above Demetrius' mahogany antique desk. She sat Indian-style and stared down at the ebony Gargoyle sitting before her. "You rang?"

Demetrius postured himself so that his plum and ebony wings cloaked about him. Plum velvet folds draped and flowed almost to the floor. Daria marveled how those dark purple folds were a perfect complement to her lavender complexion. Whatever forms their mother had been when she had brought both of them into the world, the resemblance was undeniable. Purple was a color that any child of Skylaris knew well. Not only did it manifest in determination, but in coloration.

"Aye, Sister, that I did." Lavender eyes stared at her. Daria knew that the burdens of leadership were not a usual thing for her Gargoyle brother. He rose slowly from the antique red leather office chair so that he stood was at eye-level with the levitating Daemon. Most shirked away from the penetrating gaze of such an imposing warrior. Nonetheless, most imposing Gargoyle warriors didn't have dauntless, defiant siblings named Daria.

Her coffee gaze met his and locked onto him as though he were a target under fire. "How may I serve, O Great One?"

His eyes shifted to the floor. "I have need of your particular talents, Sister. I ask pardon, but only you might bring about the results we need."

Neither arrogance nor command abided in Demetrius' quiet baritone. Daria heard only a quiet, humble truth coming from him. Her impertinent streak quickly melted when she remembered the topic of their conversation from the previous day. Her heart overran with earnest empathy for the warrior standing before her. Her voice barely broke above a murmur. "Demetrius, you know my offer is still good. Just say the word and with one blink you and Wren will have an entire rookery full of eggs."

"Your overture touches me deeply, Daria. Alas, Milady Wren aspires for our scions begotten of love and not Magick." Demetrius smiled as his sister held his large ebony hands in her much smaller lavender ones. "Know that you have taken away much of the burden upon my heart with your generous offer."

"Demetrius, I love you. I'd do anything for you and Wren. You know that. She's the closest thing I've had to a friend in a very long time. It's the least I can do for family."

"I know." He enfolded her with his wings. "Our clan . . . our family will triumph."

"Damned dust." She muttered wiping her eye. "Gets everywhere."

Demetrius' eyes gleamed silver as he wiped away Daria's solitary violet tear. "As you would say so eloquently, 'that Menash Kah does not fly with me."

"Whatever." [Damn, he's far too observant for his own good.] Daria pushed herself from her brother warm hug. "Okay, Fearless Leader, you said you needed my talents. What's up?"

"Each Terran clan has been assigned a DeMahri emissary." His tail twitched. "The one assigned to us by the DeMahri world conclave will be arriving at Summerlands later this night."

"Oh, joy." Daria wanted nothing more to do with the deigning DeMahri. She remembered well how Iantalius, the DeMahri Starfleet commander, informed her that she would be an excellent handmaiden for the Skylaris' priestesses on Avalahaun. Their view of Simianites caused a disdain in Daria that strongly resembled on contempt.

"Wren is busy at Xanatos Publishing editing MacBeth's newest textbook. MacBeth is currently shopping for furniture for the rookery to house the eggs. Dominique is currently with egg assembling the rookery."

"What?" Daria's jaw dropped almost three inches. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

A broad grin beamed from her brother's face. He nodded enthusiastically.

"Domi's PREGNANT?!" Daria let a whoop of joy forth. "Whooyah!"

Her concentration faltered at the unexpected good news. Her flawless levitation abruptly ceased. The Djinni landed unceremoniously on her backside. A dull thud echoed when she landed on Demetrius' desk. Papers fluttered everywhere. "Since when? Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I only found out this morning." His eyes twinkled with unabashed merriment. "Nay, she's not with child, Daria. Dominique is with egg. The mating striate appeared last eve along her spine. It's wondrous, Daria! Within the year, our clan will have its first hatchling."

"Okay, now I am lost." She shook her head in confusing. "Clue me in and pretend I'm only three years old. What is a mating striate?"

It is a band that marks a Dame when she is with egg. It begins at the nape of her neck and continues the entire length of her tail. It remains until the egg is in the rookery."

"I don't get it." Daria said with great skepticism. "Dominique is human by day. MacBeth is also Human, immortal -but, definitely Human. How can she be .... 'eggnant', for lack of a better word, when she's Human?"

"I know not the intricacies of such things." His wings flared slightly. "Yet the striate is visible in the light of day. It matters not the form she takes. I have seen it with my own eyes."

"So, everybody's busy." [Where is he going with this?] "Where do I fit in?"

"I need for you to take the Emissary under your wing and act as his liaison. Teach him the ways of our clan and of this world. Show and tutor him in our customs."

"Not on your life!" Daria crawled off the desk and headed for the office door. "No more babysitting Gargoyles for this girl. Did that and was burnt like a crispy critter at the stake. I'm not a Gargoyle. I'm not even human. I don't fit the job description, Demetrius."

"Nay, I disagree." Demetrius flashed his sister a bright smile. "I once heard my beloved Wren speak similar words when I was first assigned as her liaison. I aided her and now she is a pillar of the Gargoyle Way."

"She has Human blood at least flowing through her." Daria countered. "Me? Mom is a big green dragon and Pop was a dark elf. Not quite the same mix!"

"I know you and I have the same parentage and the same blood, Sister. As I aided Wren in such matters, I now ask you to do the same for the Emissary. You are a woman of many skills."

"Yeah, right." Daria rolled her eyes. "Blow more smoke up my bottle, little brother."

"He specifically asked for the High Priestess of Skylaris. You are she."

She looked skywards and shrugged in defeat. "Okay, Goddess? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?"

A sonorous drone filled Demetrius' office. Both turned to the right to see a slender caryatid of radiant light form a thin line from ceiling to floor. The shaft twinkled with a deluge of vermilion and sapphire fractions as though stars were falling from Zion. The gleam partially diffused and a tenebrous silhouette stood in the midst of the dazzling shower. The figure stepped through the aperture in the column of light and into the office.

"That's one way to make an entrance." Daria grudgingly acceded. "Not too shabby."

The dancing lights flitted away into the night like fireflies dancing around a lamp. Daria cleared her throat in sheer surprise as she eyed the creature standing before she and her brother. He was definitely a Sire. [Gods, he's HUGE. He has to be close to eight feet tall. They like to breed them big on Avalahaun.]

Wings ceremented around him like a dark silken pall. Straight black hair fell down his back reaching the apex of where tail and back met. Eyes blacker than jet stared at her. Celerity returned her gawking stare. Most DeMahri she had seen (all of one) and Gargoyles (several) had usually been blue, green, gray, or brown. This DeMahri Sire stood before her and was a bright, blazing purple.

"Ohmigod, Demetrius." A giggle escaped her. She let her eyes travel the entire length of the DeMahri's form. "I'm babysitting BARNEY!"

The bright purple emissary quietly stepped forward. He bowed slowly and his eyes carefully met hers. "Matriarch?"

She was taken aback. No one had used Daria's proper ecclesiastical title in centuries. She stood there stunned and mute with jaw brushing the floor. "Uh..."

"Aye, she is the Matriarch." Demetrius chuckled. [My sister is speechless? There are miracles every day. Thank you, Skylaris!]

The Damson Sire moved forward and extended his giant taloned hand in greeting. Her eyes fell to his extended hand and then again met his gaze. Her brows almost flew from her face in astonishment as she took his hand and gave it a firm shake. She noticed the Sire's skin was smooth and warm to the touch. "Hi."

"Hello, Matriarch." His voice reminded Daria of dark honey and melted chocolate. "I am honored to meet you."

[Nice! He speaks English.] Daria looked for a translator broach. If he wore one, it lay concealed beneath his wings. [C'mon, Daria ~suck it up and rise to the occasion.] "Welcome, Emissary. We've been expecting you. It's good to make your acquaintance."

"Thank you." The Sire's eyes never left her and his hand remained in hers. "Please, Matriarch, address me as Drakiel."

"Dray-key-ell." She pronounced the foreign name carefully as if savoring a delicacy on her tongue. "Then, in return I have to ask you to drop the formality and call Daria."

"Drop?" He looked at her not quite understanding what she meant.

[Okay, think like a DeMahri. Talk like a DeMahri. C'mon, you hear Dem all day? How hard can it be for me to speak like a Harvard-educated Gargoyle?] "Let's ...forego formality. Please call me Daria."

"DAR-ree-ah." He said the name with emphasis on the first syllable. "Daria."

"Drakiel."

His eyes never left hers. Either it was a DeMahri cultural trait to burn a hole through a person's soul or it was some form of unspoken challenge. [I wonder which is right.] Daria's pulse fought to keep a steady rhythm. [Okay, now what?]

There was a sudden stillness in the room. Not one word passed between the trio. For the first time in a thousand years, Daria felt awkward in her own skin. She knew two sets of eyes were upon her. "So, where did you learn to speak such good English, Drakiel?"

"I studied with the High Priestess of the Riac Temple. She tutored me for many years." He handed her a small orb. Daria cocked her head to the side as she watched hues and colors dance within its crystalline structure. "This is one of the Orbs given to me on the day of my dedication to Skylaris as a healer and sage. It contains the sacred Text of Skylaris and the Writings Of Wren."

"Riac?"

"It is a holy city on the DeMahri Homeworld." Drakiel explained.

Drakiel held the small floating orb out for Daria's closer examination. Her brows narrowed in suspicion as the bobbing sphere bounced delightfully in the air. She cast a wary glance at the DeMahri. He stared at the orb and waved his other hand over in a motion that slowly brought the ball to a standstill in midair. "Daria, it will not harm you. It is an Erudition sphere. It contains the entire works of Skylaris, her oracles, sibyls, and augurs. Please, feel free to examine it at your leisure."

Tentatively, Daria reached out for the now-still orb. Her fingertips made contact with its smooth, cool surface. The pulsation of light brightened slightly as she ran her fingers over the rounded contours of the sphere. She felt it roll along the length of her fingers until the small ball rested comfortably in the palm of her hand. "How does it work?"

"The sphere is connected to the Clan consciousness and the information contained inside is aligned at a level only the quantum sages comprehend. It also is precisely attuned to my psionic signature." Drakiel slowly moved forward as Daria watched the ball hum and pulse in her hand. "Only its recipient can extract the knowledge from within the orb. Each healer and every sage possesses many of these orbs."

"Wow. Is it Magick or technology that makes it work?" Daria held it up to the light to examine the small sphere more closely.

"What is Magick but that which is not yet truly explained? What is technology but Magick understood and made accessible to all?" Drakiel leaned over and stroked the orb with one talon. A flood of bright images flashed across the dark surface.

"Well, however you learned English, you speak it like a native." She returned his erudition sphere to him. "I'm impressed."

"Thank you, Daria." He pocketed the orb in a pouch that was barely visible beneath his wings. "I find lexicon enhancers . . . translators as you call them...do not do English justice."

"If all else fails, I speak fluent Draconic."

"Draconic?" His brow ridges rose in question. "What is Draconic?"

"El la hailve Kanoch BACHta Reem?" Daria's lyrical alto dropped an octave. The vowels became pure and the consonants resounded deep within her chest. Her words became a feral growl. She smiled when she saw Drakiel's onyx eyes grow large with pleasant incredulity.

"BaiNou xerach Bact TA Reem sibinou." His voice reminded her of a thunderstorm wrapped in silk.

"I am at a loss." Demetrius' wings flared in confusions.

"Matriarch Daria asked me if I had dined. I have informed the Lady I have not." An adventuresome light gleamed crimson in the DeMahri's eyes. "I have never tasted Terrain food. I have read that there are many substances and variations within a simple dish compared with the Ainran's cuisine."

"We have found this to be true." Demetrius remembered Iantalius' reaction to the breakfast they had prepared him not so long ago. "DeMahri usually find our food a bombastic experience to their system."

"If it were not an imposition, Demetrius, I long to try the rare Terran cuisine that Wren wrote so fondly of in her journal."

Demetrius and Daria merely looked at each other and shrugged. Daria turned to Drakiel. "Caviar?"

"No." He shook his head.

"Chocolate?" Demetrius volunteered. "My mate considers it an almost sacred nectar of the gods."

"Oh, no." Drakiel's eyes twinkled with excitement. His large tail twitched in gleeful anticipation. He shook the glorious black mane. "I believe she called it MacDonald's."

************

MacDonald's at 670th and O'Kault streets.
Twenty-four hour lobby
Linoma Metroplex
2:45 AM

A chaotic mess of papers, wrappers, and plastic containers lay scattered before the trio. A litter of debris buried the restaurant table. Daria shook her head in dismay as she watched the two sires heartily ingest the "rare Terran Cuisine." Before them were the wrappers for six Big Macs with cheese, eight big and tasty burgers, four orders of Chicken McNuggetts, four orders of Biggie Fries and three McFlurrys. Several Humans stared dumbfounded as the two Night warriors cheerfully savored each bite.

Daria stared down at her salad and diet coke and then looked at the two with envy. Her stomach's appetite demanded a hot caramel sundae. She mercilessly squelched the impulse.

"So, Drakiel, what do you think?"

"The tastes and textures, the variety....it is...how do you say it? It's delicious!" He spoke with a full mouth and reached for another order of Biggie Fries. "The ambiance of the restaurant is uplifting. The splashes of crimson represent the passions of life. The golden arches inspire all to endeavor for that which is currently beyond us. The Terran god Ronald...he is a protector and patron to the small children."

"Uh-oh." Daria closed her eyes in disbelief. "Who fed you all that?"

"I'm an erudite of Simianite culture. They are diurnal beings and are drawn to that represented by the sun. The vivid hues of crimson and gold are obvious. The food allows them to commune with one another in the darkness. It is a time of communion and thanksgiving."

"Hate to burst your bubble, Drake, but you've got it all wrong." Daria interrupted his spirited explanation. "This is just a business that makes money by selling food. There is no religious connotation to any of the imagery here."

"But Wren wrote that MacDonald's was heavenly. Heaven is the nexus for Human souls in Simianite religion."

"I think the DeMahri tend to interpret things a bit too literally." Daria studied the purple Gargoyle.

"I see." She saw the Emissary's wings droop in disappointment. Daria felt a pang of guilt at her harsh rebuke of his innocent observation.

"Hey, Drake. You have it partially right." She laid a hand on his shoulder. "It's a very special place where families and friends get together to eat and enjoy each other's company. The figure Ronald is a beloved icon to children everywhere. He represents joy and happiness to them. It's not a religious experience, but it s a very integral part of American Human culture."

"I thank you for your correction." He nodded to her. He returned his attention to his Biggie Fries. "The food of Ainran is sweet and simple. It has neither spice nor tang. It lacks texture and taste. How do you take in all the scents and flavors without falling into Euphoria?"

Daria noticed that Drakiel seemed more agitated that he had been earlier. She watched him rise and clear the refuse from the table. He wove between the tables and staggered toward the waste can. Then, he tripped over his own tail and was covered in the remains of a half-melted Oreo McFlurry. "Demetrius, I think he's...drunk."

"I have never belt fetter...." Drakiel hiccupped. "Never lebt febber...I am fine."

Daria knelt down besides the stammer DeMahri and checked his eyes. "His pupils are dilated."

"Iantalius never acted this way when he dined with us."

"He never had MacDonald's either." Daria countered. She passed her finger in front of Drakiel's line of vision. He had trouble following her fingers. He began bellowing a series of melodic growls and sonorous sounds. Glass windows cracked and several humans covered their ears. The screams of irritation filled the lobby.

"WHAT is he doing?!?" Demetrius helped Daria sit Drakiel upright. The clan leader grabbed several napkins and desperately wiped away the gooey ice cream dribbling down the DeMahri's chest.

"He's singing a very ribald song about Dames, wings, and mating flights. I'm not going to translate." Daria slipped under one shoulder while Demetrius slipped under the other and they hoisted together in unison. "Demetrius, we are NEVER bringing another DeMahri out to MacDonald's as long as we live."

"Daria...I not as think as you drunk I am." Drakiel leered at her.

"Drakiel, snap out of it." The Djinni hissed. "People are watching. Gargoyle existence in this city was just revealed three months ago. People are watching our every move. We have to provide a positive example. Now, straighten up, damn it!"

He abruptly became rigid. He flashed the Djinni a broad grin. "I live to serve you, Matriarch."

"Damn you DeMahri and your literal interpretations." She gave him a sound kick in the shin. "Conduct yourself as though you were standing before Skylaris."

The goofy grin on Drakiel's face immediately vanished. His rigid posture remained and wings cloaked around him. Daria and Demetrius quickly moved out of the way to avoid envelopment in his folds. A look of regal dignity crossed his features. "Forgive my foolishness. Your words have brought me clarity."

"Okay, now let's clean up that mess and get out of here before we make bigger fools of ourselves than we already have." Daria grabbed French Fry wrappers from the floor.

"Daria, I apologize for my behavior." The emissary spoke earnestly.

"Don't worry about it, Barney." She waved her hand in dismissal. Her clipped reply was not lost on him. "Just help clean up this mess."

"As you wish." He took the tray from her and emptied it into the receptacle. He turned to Demetrius. "Please, I must know. How do you eat here without falling into Euphoria?"

"Drakiel, we are accustomed to it. Our bodies have changed through the eons to deal with it. Were you to dine here each night, you would soon find the food bland and the ambiance wanting."

The Purple Emissary felt a tug on his left wing.

Standing beside him was a Simianite cub with curly blonde hair and curious blue eyes. He guessed the youngling to be no more than five or six seasons old. "Hey, Mister! Are your wings real?"

Daria turned around to see the small little boy staring at the towering DeMahri. She started towards them but Demetrius caught her arm. "Let the Emissary win his wings."

She shot him a look that screamed 'you've-got-to-be-kidding.' Yet, Daria deferred to her brother's judgment and merely watched the two beings interact.

"Yes." Drakiel knelt down so that he and the cub were closer. "They are real."

The DeMahri opened one wing so that it was expanded before the little boy. The young one cautiously reached out and stroked one of the folds between the struts. "It's soft. Can you fly?"

"No. I can't fly." He chuckled when the youngling stroked the velvet fold of his gridelin wing. "But, I can glide."

"My name's Jacob."

"And I am Drakiel."

The little boy held up four fingers. "I'm this many."

"You are very grown up for your age." Drakiel gave a knowing smile.

"Hey, Drakiel, are you a Gargirl?"

"Gargirl?" The DeMahri turned to Daria and Demetrius not understanding the word. Daria covered her mouth to hide her snicker. She nodded subtly in Demetrius' direction. "I am a ...Gargoyle."

"Wow! You're bigger than the ones I saw on TV." Jacob climbed onto Drakiel's knee. The stunned DeMahri remained still as the tow-headed boy gave him a large huge. "A blue one saved my Daddy from a car wreck. He says Gargoyles are angels. But she was a girl instead of a boy."

"Dominique." Demetrius whispered to Daria. She nodded silently in understanding.

"I see."

"I think you're neat." Jacob climbed down from Drakiel's lap. "Mom's calling. I have to go." He ran off to the other side of the restaurant. "Mommy...mommy! Guess who I met?"

Drakiel watched the young mother as she scooped the little boy into her arms. Her eyes were suspiciously bright as she nodded in greeting to the trio. Then, she and the little boy were gone.

"I thought that Simianites on Terra were fearful of ...us." Drakiel carefully spoke his words.

"In most places, they are." Daria whispered, still in awe from the breath-taking scene she had just experienced. "Linoma is a city that has been in existence since before the Vikings. Elves settled it shortly after they were driven from the British Isles. Then, other magickal creatures found it and made it their own. The Indians flocked to the city and then the Spanish found it in 1596. By then, it was mostly ruins...but the Magick remained. It has been a Mecca for the strange, wonderful and bizarre for almost a thousand years. It's not uncommon to see a Vampire taking the bus or a werewolf driving a taxi. You waitress at a restaurant might be an elf while the guy pumping your gas is a dwarf. It frightens most Humans. But, if one was born here, then it's understood that we mingle and get along."

"So, Gargoyles blend into the population?" Drakiel asked. "They are accepted as equals amongst their Human brethren?"

"Yes and no." Daria wiped some crumbs from her lapel. "Our existence was revealed after the Illumination back in February. We had to explain that the sighting of DeMahri ships were actually just illusions caused by holographic imagery. I don't think the world is ready to deal with vampires or aliens. They can barely handle mutants and Gargoyles."

"My briefing on this planet revealed that most of my Terran cousins were killed during your European Middle Ages. Before making first contact, fewer than two hundred were estimated still alive."

"Wren said the same thing. She knows just about every Gargoyle on the planet." Wren's face wore a melancholy frown. "Now, counting our clan...there are about thirty."

Drakiel's wings drooped. His tail dragged. His eyes wore a dreamy expression as he bent down closer to Daria. He was only inches from her. "You're attractive."

"Back off." Daria shoved Drakiel none-too-gently away from her. She saw the large dark pupils loose themselves into dark irises. "You're drunk!"

"I am not...drunk." He replied with wounded dignity.

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not." He retorted. He spread his arms and wings wide open and twirled around in MacDonald's parking lot. "I want to glide over this amazing city with you in my arms, Daria."

"Not in your condition, Barney." She cracked him a wry smile. "Nosedives from high in the air aren't my cup of tea. Flying while under the influence is NOT a good thing."

"We will not be flying." He yammered indignantly. "We shall be...gliding...gliding..." He circled like a small child with a toy airplane. "Gliding on the currents of the summer breeze."

"Not on my watch, Dude." Hand went in a defiant stance on her hips.

"Where is your spirit of adventure?" He reached for her. Purple talons found nothing but wispy lavender smoke wafting through his grasp. He bellowed in frustration at her clever thwarting.

"Right where it should be - overruled by my common sense." A feminine voice filled the night air. "Take it easy, Fly Boy. There's plenty of time to take in the sights. Allow me to introduce you to a very Earthly form of transportation."

"Wonderful!" The intoxicated DeMahri calmed somewhat at her placating offer. "I wish to see what you have in mind."

Daria materialized between the two males. She placed two fingers of each hand in each corner of her moth and let forth a piercing, shrill whistle. The Sires flinched and hurriedly covered their ears. She let forth a chuckle and bellowed loudly at a passing car, "TAXI!!"

A bright yellow cab appeared, as if by Magick, alongside them. A heavily tinted window rolled down and the head of a balding man peeked out at them. A gruff, gravely voice growled, "Where to, lady?"

Daria leaned provocatively forward so that her face was only inches from the cabby's. [He hasn't shaved in awhile.] "Hey, Jack. It's been awhile."

A middle-aged human returned her gaze. "Daria, long time no see. Still workin' at the Athenaeum?"

"No, not since Lysander was turned into a Crispy Critter." She told the Alpha Male of the Linoma Garou. He wore the title "Grand Shien" with pride. "So, how's the top dog of the local werewolf pack doing?"

"Doing just fine. I'm still driving a cab. Gotta pay for those dog biscuits somehow." He chuckled. "Have you been to the bar since gone under new management?"

"Not at all." Then, inspiration struck her. She quickly stepped inside the cab. "To the Athenaeum!"

Demetrius cast a doubtful glance at the purple DeMahri trying to hold a conversation with a lamppost. "Sunrise is near and he is not prepared for such an outing."

"Barney can sleep when he's dead, little brother." She motioned him to join her in the cab.
The ebony clan leader cloaked his wings and gingerly stepped into the cab. Though gritted teeth he muttered, "You KNOW how I detest riding in cars."

"Deal with it!" She elbowed him playfully in the ribs. "You wanted me to baby-sit Barney over there. So, I'm going to do so in a place where I can keep an eye on him. Besides, I forgot that additives and preservatives have an intoxicating effect on our winged friends. So, I figure, let him work it off. He can practice his pick up lines on real live women instead of lamp posts."

"You are mad."

"I'm crazy." She winked. "But, I'm not stupid."

"Drakiel," Demetrius motioned the Emissary over to them. "Please join us."

The mammoth purple DeMahri bent forward to sit inside the taxi. However, only half of him fit. There was a loud 'thwap' and then a woman's voice filled the cab with a string of curses. "Damn it, Barney! Watch where you put that wing. You smacked me."

"I apologize, Matriarch." He sounded as though he had been a young hatchling caught pulling the clan leader's tail. He silently stepped from the cab, folded his wings, and reclaimed his seat beside Demetrius. He turned to let his eyes meet Daria's. She gasped a bit when she saw them flame silver. "My name [hiccup] is NOT [hiccup] Barney. I am Drakiel, sage and healer of the Riac Temple of the Clan -"

"That's nice, but you need to close the door so we can get going." Daria's patience waned quickly at his recitation of title and position.

"Sister, watch your words." Demetrius reminded her. "You are speaking with the DeMahri Emissary assigned to our clan."

"I don't care if I'm speaking to the bloody flaming Queen of England. His wing just hit me in the face and he's acting about as smart as a box of rocks." She sneered in exasperation. "He's a few stones shy of a castle -if you know what I mean."

Drakiel cast the others a sheepish glance and shut the door. A strident roar filled the cab and cracked the front window.

"Drakiel, lift your tail and place it inside the cab before you shut the door." Daria pulled out a nail file and began working on her manicure.

There was a grumbling of DeMahri curses and Drakiel lifted his bruised, welted tail inside the cab. He pulled on the cab door. There was the ripping of metal and a clamorous thud on the pavement.

Daria tightly shut her eyes and crossed her eyes. "Demetrius, please tell me that he didn't do what I just think he did."

"Hey, man! You just ripped off my cab door." Jack growled. Patches of fur began sprouting on the back of his hands. Daria knew that werewolves often changed when under great stress. This was not a good thing.

"No problem, Jack!" Daria worked her way through camped quarters of the cab. She leaned forward. "Let me take care of it and it'll be all good."

"Only for you, Babe. Anybody else would be street meat by now."

She plastered his hand with some mysteriously appearing bills. She wrapped his fingers around the bundle. "Here, keep the change and buy some more dog biscuits."

"Perhaps we need to return to Summerlands." Demetrius' counsel fell on deaf ears.

Daria brought her hands together. She began murmuring in a language long forgotten and known only to archeologists and mystics. The cab began to rattle and hum. The vibration coursed through every inch of the vehicle. The door lying on the pavement began to thrum and shake as though an earthquake were flowing through the earth. It rose a few inches from the ground and rotated in air so that it was perfectly parallel with the cab. It flew forward at incredible speed and simply reattached itself to the unbending hinges.

"Not on your life, Demetrius." She whispered as the door, undented and unscratched, closed quietly. "I'm going to enjoy this night if it kills us. You assigned me to baby-sit the village idiot over there. Paybacks are hell, Babe."

"You are merciless." He rumbled.
"Damn straight." Daria gave Drakiel a withering look that he failed to notice. She turned her attention to Jack who was much calmer. "To the Athenaeum."

*****














Erudition Globe/Sphere/ Orb-

MATING STRIATE-

Riac - A city on Avalahaun in the land of Ainran