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A Ranma ½ / Slayers crossover story
By Aaron Bergman

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and all characters therein belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Slayers and all characters belong to Hajime Kanzaka, Rui Araizumi, Kadokawa Shoten, TV Tokyo, Softx, and Marubeni.


Naga the White Serpent fiddled with the strings of her black leather corset a bit, feeling as one with her sisters across the centuries while she struggled for an equitable blend between fashion and comfort. "Are you sure that all this is necessary? I feel so… so… overdressed." She tried to hike her skirt a bit higher, but her attempt was in vain.

The eavesdroppers took a moment to imagine how this excessively endowed woman might look, if she thought that was overdressed, and each shivered.

Kodachi shook her head and sighed. "Dear heart, you know as well as I that we don't want to seem too forward to our beloved. We must present a united front! Besides, I would catch my death of cold trying to emulate your usual fashions."

Naga waggled one finger in rebuke. "There are advantages to my usual ensemble. After the second winter, I rarely felt even the worst chill. What doesn't kill you--"

"Maims you in horribly vicious ways? A touch of frostbite no doubt builds character," Kodachi finished brightly. Then added, "Oh, I'm sorry if that sounded a bit sarcastic; don't know what I was thinking."

Naga started to reply, then gave it up. Looks like I've lost this round. Oh well, happens to the best of us… Rather than dwell on this horribly out-of-character thought, she reached into the steamer trunk they'd purchased several days before and removed an extremely short miniskirt that might cover the bare essentials. "Is this long enough for your dress code?"

Kodachi shook her head in resignation. "I suppose. I can't expect to change you in a week, after all. Go right ahead, display your ample charms to the loutish rabble; see if I care."

Naga laughed briefly, a discomfort to the spies listening avidly to their every word. "OHOHOHO! Dearie, it's obvious you care too much what other people think."

"No, I just care what Ranma-sama thinks." Both women sighed with longing. "And yet…"

"How long must we wait for our love?" Naga shook her head. "I wish the oracle had given us some clearer signs…"

"Right now, of more importance to me is…"

Naga looked at her partner in concern. "More important than RANMA?! You've still got a lot of growing up to do if…"

In response, Kodachi held up their last coin purse and shook it. It gave the dull clunk of almost emptiness, rather than the tempting jingle of sweet fullness. "How are we going to pay the bills? Unless we find a job soon, we'll run out of money!"

The people still eavesdropping took this opportunity to slip away. All thought to themselves as they leapt from rooftop to rooftop, scattering in different directions, At last! Our masters will be pleased…


Part the Eighth:
Taunting The Beast


The Sea of Chaos said softly, musingly, "It's strange…"

Jenni, Lover of Cuteness Incarnate, took the straight line She'd been offered and asked, "What's strange?"

The Sea of Chaos gestured towards Her feet and said, "Well, I've seen more mortals in this situation than even I can remember, and yet…" She sighed and said, "I still don't know how to act."

Jenni, an uncharacteristic depth in Her eyes, put one hand on the Sea of Chaos's shoulder and said, "Yeah, I know what You mean. They tell Us that this sort of thing doesn't happen to Us, but it does anyway, no matter how much You might wish otherwise. The only thing to do is to remember and move on."

The Sea of Chaos nodded as She bent down and gathered together all that remained of Jusenkyou's once-immortal essence. "I will shatter the thing that did this to You, My friend, and cast its spirit into a place where it will never know My sight, a cold grey joyless place that gives only despair and regret."

Jenni waved one of Her hands in the air. "Ooo! Ooo! Can I do a curse too? I love those things!"

The Sea of Chaos looked ready to protest for a moment, then waved one hand tiredly. "Go ahead."

Jenni cleared Her throat, then began. "When We find the creature that has destroyed You, I shall make the place We cast its spirit smell like Venice and look like London. The only food will be cooked cafeteria-style and the only sounds will be… umm…" A sudden thought burrowed its way into Her consciousness. "How will We find this creature, anyway?"

"Oh, that's easy." The Sea of Chaos held up one finger. "Only a being with the aid of Jusenkyou's Keys could have done this, and only one being has these Keys now. She cannot hide forever, now that I know her essence." That lone finger retreated into a clenched fist. "And once I find her…"


Amelia came to with a start. "Where am I?" Without opening her eyes, she realized that she was totally naked, soft cotton sheets covering her body. The bed she was lying in was so comfortable, the covers pressing down with just the right weight, and the pillow conforming so perfectly to her head, that she almost turned over and went back to sleep.

A clear, piping voice said, "Ah, you is awake now."

The princess's eyes opened wide at this sudden intrusion on her peaceful, half-aware state. She sat up, clutching the sheets close to her body, and looked around. Amelia saw a young girl sitting by her bedside, darning what looked like Amelia's shirt. Amelia asked softly,

"Who are you?"

The girl didn't look up from her work. "I name is Plum. You lying in big cursed dried-up pool when Father found you, and he bring you here. I fix clothes, yes?"

Amelia nodded slowly. "Um… yeah, sure." She leaned back against a wall and looked around the room. It gave the impression of being more an office than a real home, the sort of place a man might live if his job required the occasional bit of overnight work. Half closing her eyes, she tried to recall the events of the last few days.

Hmm… I remember finding that restaurant, walking in, and then… She shivered involuntarily, clutching the blankets a bit closer. Drowning in an endless ocean of blue…

Yeah, um… sorry about that.

Amelia sat straight up again. "What?"

Plum looked up, wincing as she pricked her finger. "Hmm? What you ask?"

"…Never mind." Amelia leaned back against the wall once more, suspicions beginning to cement themselves.

A magician, no matter of what kind, is trained from almost the first day to look for… portents… of things that are almost certain to be bloody annoying. Broad-shouldered men with a grim, set jaw, broadsword clutched firmly in hand; maidens wearing once-rich clothes that have been rent by brambles and thorns; and most telling of all, befuddled-looking wizards with bent hats and robes of indeterminate color: all signs that a Serious Quest was underway, maybe even a True Saga.

Although ‘Voices in Your Head’ wasn't at the head of that list, it was in the top twenty at least.

She closed her eyes and thought very loudly, ALL RIGHT, WHOEVER YOU ARE, TALK TO ME!!!

The voice said grumpily, No need to get into a huff. Stop shouting, by Myself! It isn't as if this is My idea of fun either…

Amelia shook her head. Who are you?

Umm… Amelia got the distinct feeling that the voice was waffling. Then, she gasped as something clicked inside her mind.

Some uncharitable people might describe Amelia wil Tesla de Saillune as simple.

They would be right.

But simple is not the same as stupid.

Amelia was not stupid; not by any stretch of the imagination. Being out-and-out stupid would have granted her the life expectancy of  a jellyfish in a Dragonslave during her younger years in the intrigue-ridden courts of her homeland (and that's exactly what some calculating odds-makers had given her) but there were other mitigating factors. One was the twisted craftiness that centuries of backstabbing had bred into her family; albeit a craftiness refracted through the metaphorical Lens of Justice she carried within her.

Now, that twisted craftiness turned inward, adding one and one and one, coming up with seventeen, and rang up no sale. Then it shrugged its metaphysical shoulders and told Amelia the absurd conclusion it had drawn anyway.

Are you a god?

She heard the voice laugh softly. A very wise man once said that if anyone ever asks that question, answer 'yes.'

Amelia blinked. What's your name?

Umm… erm… that's a… good question. I don't… quite know. Ever had that feeling, like something was on the tip of your tongue and almost ready to say itself?

Yeah…

Well, this not knowing my name thing feels just like the exact opposite of that. It's as if I have a name, I know I have a name, but… the name just isn't there.

Amelia said out loud, "That's weird." Plum looked up at her again.

"What that?"

Amelia waved one hand nervously. "Never mind, never mind! Don't mind me, hehe…" She chuckled falsely, and the little girl eyed her for a moment before going back to her sewing.

"Ahh, honorable guest, you is awake? Very, very good." Amelia looked up at the door, alarmed that someone could have walked in without her noticing. A short, dumpy man wearing a strange green outfit was taking off his hat and bowing deeply towards the puzzled princess. "Me have very bad news for you. Me find you in empty spring in center of cursed springs."

Because Amelia didn't seem to have a clue what the heck the strange little man was saying, Plum supplied the next line. "And what drown in that one?"

The little man held up one finger. "Ahh, is very strange, yes? That one no one ever drown in, because it too far into center of springs. They always drown in other one first." He shook his head. "I wonder what in that one?"


Working for Dynast Grauscherra had few perks. One of them was the freedom of having a fat slob of a boss who didn't much care what you did, as long as you did what he said when he said it. Since he didn't usually ask for much of anything, this was a good deal for the Mazoku who worked under him, all of whom knew of Phibrizo's capricious games, Metallium's incessant meddling, or Deep Sea Dolphin's silly courts, and wanted nothing to do with that rot.

The problems came, of course, when he asked you to do something.

"'Follow the girls,'" quoted a rather bored being who enjoyed being called Dighe the Corrupt; when he bothered with a name at all. "'Don't harm them, just find out what they're going to get and make sure they don't get it. Those damn Amazons can't keep up the barrier forever, and the only reason they would send someone out is to get something -- or someone -- that might help them.'"

He looked down at the two girls, who were wandering the streets of a good-sized city, and grinned. He'd actually come to… like, in a way, the two Amazons. Their minds were easily vulnerable to his skills, and he'd had quite a few good meals off of them over the past few weeks. With their fear of failure and censure from their fellow Amazons, all he had to do was insert a single, simple image into their dreams and let them run with it.

Delicious.

He'd be sorry to kill them.

Yeah, sure, it went against orders, but initiative had always been a big part of Mazoku society. Otherwise, how would anyone rise to the top?

Even now, their terror at being lost drifted up to him, and he grinned even wider. Then, his senses stretched to their limits to take all the dark emotion that he could from this city, he caught a hint of something, something he had not felt since…

He cursed. "DAMN him! How DARE he be here! I will destroy him!" Expending a fraction of his precious energy, he vanished from the skies.


Ling Ling looked up at the sky. "Did you just feel…"

Lung Lung looked up too. "What?"

The Amazon paused for a moment, then shook her head. "Nothing."


Xelloss didn't need to sleep. Being a Creature of Ineffable Evil (he thought that adding capitol letters to the phrase, even mentally, gave it a certain panache), sleep wasn't only unnecessary, but somewhat… repugnant, implying a weakness that he didn't like to think of.

Be that as it may, he was dozing off in his seat next to Luna's bed when she sat up suddenly, jerkily. He snapped awake and said, "Jumpin' gee whillikers, Luna-chan, that was…" Then he saw her eyes.

They weren't pits of luminescent, brilliant light, nor were they boring into what passed for Xelloss' skull, nor did they burn with the wisdom of centuries. To anyone without the power that Xelloss still had, they would have still been the same pale blue of a sky that gave no warning before a sudden storm.

But to Xelloss, they gave away the dead certainty that a god was in control of her body. And it was a god that he was intimately familiar with, a god he'd faced across many bloody battlefields in the days when the war between the dragons and the Mazoku was still burning fresh.

He said tentatively, "Hello, Dragon God Ceipheed. It's so nice to see you again."

"And you, Xelloss, are looking… fine." His voice was still Luna's - no destruction of a host's vocal cords just to sound flashy for Ceipheed - but to those with the ears to hear, there was no doubt who-- or what-- was really speaking.

"What do you want with Luna, Ceipheed?"

Ceipheed tilted his head slightly, as if in thought. The pause that weighted the air between them told Xelloss all he needed to know. "To do what is necessary, of course."

Xelloss sneered. "Golly, figures that you would clothe your hypocrisies in cryptic riddles. I never did like you, you know that?"

"And you think that I love you for slaughtering My people, eh?"

The Mazoku had no response for that. Ceipheed nodded. "I will not destroy Luna unless I have to. The next woman who would be my carrier is not yet ready. It would crush her."

"Yes, well…" Xelloss was nonplussed. He didn't know why Ceipheed had chosen to shelter inside humans as he healed from the shattering wounds Shabranigdo had inflicted upon him, but he did know that interrupting it could do no good for the being that Ceipheed would become. "Why are you revealing yourself?"

"Because things have taken a turn. She is distracted, and turns Her eyes from our plight."

Xelloss didn't need to ask whom Ceipheed was speaking of. "You mean…"

"Yes." The Dragon God didn't elaborate. Xelloss nodded slowly.

"And so we'll have to…"

"Yes."

"Gee, what am I going to do?"

The Dragon God spoke, and Xelloss listened.


Soun was happy.

It wasn't often that he could make a claim like that anymore, especially in any way connected with his ancient and very evil master, Happosai. But he had given the middle-aged martial artist a goal, a purpose in life that stretched beyond marrying his daughters off and living with one of them.

Yes, his new silky darlings were worth all the trouble.

He buried his hands up to his wrists in his box of panties and cackled in glee.

"Father?"

At the sudden call from the hall, Soun shoved the box into his closet under the futon and said warily, "Yes?"

Kasumi slid the door open. "Dinner's ready! I called ten minutes ago, silly!" She smiled peacefully.

Soun stood up. "Yes, of course!" Casting about for some topic of conversation, he asked, "How's Ranma?"

Kasumi shrugged. "Poor Ranma-kun. He hasn't woken up yet. But Zelgadis-san and Lina-chan say that he'll be all right in a few hours!"

Nodding in pleasure, Soun walked past his daughter. As soon as he was past, Kasumi's pleasant expression changed to what anyone who didn't know her would have called a mild frown.

But to those who did, they would have known that the person on the receiving end had enraged her, driven her to a point that she'd never been to before. And they would have feared her.

Whenever anyone angered the other two Tendo sisters, a person knew what would happen. No one had ever actually seen Kasumi angry, so that meant that no one could know what she'd do.

Not even Kasumi herself.

That didn't mean that something wouldn't be done. Oh, no.

"Kasumi?"

Kasumi looked around her shoulder and saw Gourry, the blonde swordsman to whom she hadn't spoken very much, and had to force a smile on her face for the first time in ten years. "Yes?"

Gourry rubbed the back of his head. "You looked like you were trapped in an excessively long internal monologue, and I just thought I'd help you out!"

Now Kasumi's smile was genuine, and it broadened. "Why, thank you, Gourry-kun!"

The swordsman's nose twitched. "Hey, is that food?" He rushed past Kasumi and ran down the stairs. Kasumi looked one last time into her father's room, shrugged, slid the door shut, and turned to follow Gourry.


No Mazoku likes being lost. Being lost implies being weak, and being weak implies being flesh, and fewer things pleases any hellspawn less than the implication of actually being trapped in a bag of mud and blood. Just the thought of it was enough to send most Mazoku into a city-destroying rage, which usually solved the problem of being lost anyway, so things usually worked out for the best!

The only problem with such a system is, of course, when you want to avoid destroying the city that you're lost in…

Loxim, Mazoku, sailor, and fugitive from what passes for Mazoku justice, was trying very hard not to destroy Tokyo in a sudden rampage… though for some reason he got the feeling that there had been others here before him with the same urge and far less restraint…

He shook off the Ghosts of B-movies Past and stopped a young woman who was walking nearby. "Excuse me, do you know where I could find the Restaurant of the Cat?"

Now, most girls would have shrieked in terror and fled at the mere sight of him, which is why Loxim was currently wrapped up in an intricate illusion. He'd just picked an man's image out of his past, and certainly wasn't expecting the girl to just stop dead and stare at his face.

"Da gweh bweh…" He noticed that she was drooling slightly, and he reached up to wipe it off her chin. He frowned. This means something among humans… but what? I can't remember!

The moment his hand touched her face, she backpedaled furiously. Her face turned red, and Loxim touched her mind for a moment, just long enough to find out that she was going to shout over her shoulder, "Ling-Ling!"

It actually came out as "Oh my God look at this guy he's so HOT!" but that's not important right now. What was important is that another young woman, who'd been looking at a display of cloth, glanced up and saw the disguised Mazoku as well.

"What about him?"

"Can't you see that he's HOT?!!"

Loxim was even more lost than he'd been a minute ago; at least then all he'd had to worry about was where the hell he was. "As far as I can tell, I'm the same temperature I've always been…" The Mazoku felt his own forehead for a moment and frowned.

The young woman who'd been looking at the cloth stepped forward. "Don't mind my sister, Lung-Lung. She's an idiot. I'm Ling-Ling. What did you ask her?"

Loxim said tentatively, "Um… where is the… Restaurant of the Cat..?"

Ling-Ling shook her head. "No problem, my sister and I will take you right there!" She grabbed Loxim's hand and started pulling him along. Loxim noticed her sister glaring at Ling-Ling, but for the unlife of him didn't know why…


Zelgadis was in the dojo, holding his sword out in what he'd always called the Impressively Cool Stance. Being a self-taught swordsman hadn't given him many official-sounding titles for the various ways to hold a sword, and so he'd given them the names that naturally occurred to him.

The Impressively Cool Stance involved holding his left hand out, extended as if telling someone to halt, while the right hand was drawn back, holding the sword over his head. Most of his weight was on his rear foot, but his whole body was coiled tight, ready to bring the sword out in a sweeping slash from almost any direction, or even bring the sword forward in a thrust, with the left hand moving to assist at just the right moment…

Zelgadis believed in practicality melded with beauty in all things, and nowhere was this more apparent then his swordsmanship; however, he didn't believe in excessive floweriness. He called it the Impressively Cool Stance because that's what it was.

He lowered his sword and looked around at the walls of the dojo with fresh eyes. Somehow, this frail construction of wood, with patched walls and leaky roof, managed to distill peace and channel it to anyone inside, letting them practice without anger or distraction.

A jarring note suddenly sounded in the harmony of the dojo, and Zelgadis immediately whipped his sword up into the Sticking The Pointy End Into Someone Stance. Sadly, it wouldn't do him much good, as the person who'd disrupted the peace was none other than Xelloss.

The chimera lowered the sword slowly. "What are you doing here?" That's when he noticed something subtle, something that he hadn't quite caught in his first glance.

Xelloss had his eyes open.

Both of them.

The Trickster Priest said slowly, "You have to listen to me, Zelgadis. Right now, you're all in grave danger, and I'm just gosh-darned gonna have to take Lina Inverse with me in order to prevent one part of the Ultimate Disaster. What I need you to do is go with two little girls that will show up soon, along with all the people from this place that might help you."

"Hmm?" For the first time in as long as Zelgadis had known the Mazoku, he looked… rushed, almost harried, as though he were trying to do something that he hadn't been expecting. Then, in the third strange event of the conversation, Xelloss said something that the chimera had never, ever expected to hear from his mouth.

"I need your help."

Zelgadis hesitated not a second. "All right, tell me everything you can."

Xelloss smiled and began.


"Cuddlepie?" Cologne looked at Happi as she spoke, her face glowing with joy.

"Yes, snoogywookums?" His face was intent on the intricate clockwork traps that protected what they'd decided to take as a souvenir on this leg of their journey.

"Are the zombies supposed to be getting back up, pootielove?"

Happosai frowned without looking up. "I don't think so… after all, we didn't stop attacking them until they were all dust…"

"Oh. Then this must be a fresh batch. I'll take care of them while you get the Egg out, Happidumpling!"

The sounds of battle breaking out behind him didn't disturb the aged martial artist's concentration at all, until a flying bit of zombie hors d'ouvres came flying over his shoulder, breaking the machinery, and setting off every trap in the place…

Since there was no percentage in hesitation, Happosai grabbed the egg and shouted over his shoulder, "Run, my darling! Run!"


There were so many levels to Ranma's hatred of falling. The first (and simplest) was the sickening sensation that conjured unpleasant slit-eyed ghosts from his past, yowling in the pits of his mind. The second was that falling usually meant that someone had hit him in the first place with a fist or foot or mallet or giant frozen flounder, and he'd have to deal with the consequences after landing. The third was…

Well, suffice to say there were a lot of reasons that Ranma hated falling.

But he hated landing even more.

So when he found himself falling, somewhere above the mountains of Japan, with no memory of how or why, he naturally groaned and braced himself for impact.

When he landed with absolutely no pain at all, and saw Ryouga waiting there for him with an impatient look, Ranma Saotome was dead certain he was stuck in a dream, and most likely a nightmare to boot.

Ranma hated nightmares even more than landing.

"C'mon, Saotome! If you don't hurry up, she's going to catch up with us!"

"Who's ‘she’?"

Ryouga looked around like a hunted animal and whispered, "Your wife."

Ranma stood up straight, the fact that this was a dream already lost, and started running down the road. He thought about asking little things like who his wife was or why he was running away from her, but he figured that the answers to those questions were pretty self-explanatory anyway.

He ran, wild and free, the epitome of his namesake. He ran, faster than the eye could follow. He ran as though the hounds of hell were nipping at his heels. The only thing that could have stopped him was… a tollgate.

Ranma almost didn't stop in time. His heels dug into the earth as he tried to defy Newton's Laws of Motion. Fortunately for him, this was just a dream, and he skidded to a halt mere inches away from the guard, who cringed in anticipation of the impact.

When it didn't come, the guard cracked open an eye, looked carefully at the martial artist who stood, panting, within hugging distance. He straightened up suddenly, leaping backward as he held one hand out. "H-halt!" he said quaveringly, apparently overlooking the fact that Ranma already was halted. "I can't let you go by until you choose!"

Ranma was confused. "Choose what?"

"Choose… your destiny!" Suddenly, a giant game wheel popped out of the ground as cheesy music started playing. Colored streamers came sailing from the sky, covering the ground in meaningless snarls.

Ryouga kicked his way through a drift of them as he came to a halt beside Ranma and gasped, "Ah, the Wheel of Time! Will you be crushed by it, or move on to the top?" Improbably, Ryouga was wearing a pink tutu and a black pig mask as he held out his hands in a Vanna White manner.

"Gweh?"

The old ghoul pogoed around the edge of the wheel and shouted, "Yes! You must decide whether to inherit the future coming to you, or to whimper in fear as…"

She was cut off by a sudden shout of "YOU IDIOT!!" Akane stormed up and seized Ranma's ear. "We start shooting the next episode in five minutes, and you go running off just to…"

"WAKE UP!"

Ranma had no qualms with waking up, even with Xelloss’ face waiting for him on the other side of sleep. "Stupid nightmares," he muttered.

"What?"

Ranma shook his head. "Never mind. But… thanks for waking me up."

Xelloss said grimly, "Golly, Ranma, I wouldn't be too certain of that if I were you…"


Luna/Ceipheed staggered to their feet, grimacing from the pain. We don't have a choice… we must get the only people who can do this to the place where…

They became aware of a tearing sound coming from the front room, and focused enough energy to detect what was doing it. They gasped in shock. What is HE doing here! Traitor… defiler… Then, they gathered their anger and bundled it away. We are not strong enough to fight him; not now. We must escape!

The wall facing the front room fell in with a crash, revealing a being that Ceipheed had once known as Dilphe; a being that had betrayed his own race for a devil's bargain… with a devil.

"You're looking well," Ceipheed said cautiously.

"And you… are looking like a dead woman who hasn't realized it yet." With that, Dighe the Corrupt wrapped one tentacle around in a circular fashion, creating a blast that lanced out towards Luna/Ceipheed.

They dodged and gave up a fraction of energy to create a lance of white energy, but it spattered against the thick hide of the Mazoku, who laughed scornfully. Luna cursed separately from Ceipheed. Dammit, why did I leave Filia in the mountains? She could be really useful right now…

Because, Ceipheed said grimly, if she saw Me as I am right now, she wouldn't survive the experience…


Filia sneezed and rubbed at her snout. This wasn't my idea, Filia thought grimly as she turned around in the small cave again. I wish there was another way to do this…

"But," she continued out loud, "I HAVE to obey her. She answers to a higher authority than me. I just wish…"

She scratched at the belly-strap and whined, "I just wish she hadn't put a saddle on meeeeee..!"

 

To be continued.


Author’s notes: Don't despair, Naga fans, and put down the torches and pitchforks; the infamous duo will be appearing in their OWN SIDE STORY! So don't lynch me for not having them in here for more than a short appearance…

Hmm… no doubt canon fans will be wondering, "Who the hell is this Dighe character? I don't remember him…" Well, the reason you don't remember him is because I created him, so deal. I needed a villain anyway.

Oh, and the ‘beast’ I was referring to in the title is you, the reader! I can see that most of this chapter was just setting up later ones, teasing you mercilessly… *begins fortifying door* I hope nobody comes after me for it…

Can't think of anything else that needs to be explained right now… this chapter was shorter than most of the ones I've been putting out lately, but Dramatic Necessity demanded it end here. Sorry. I'll try to write more for my five fans, really I will!

Aaron Bergman
imfanboy@hotmail.com

Part 9
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