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MARA’S FLAME

Hamish Clark


Copyright 2011 Hamish Clark

Smashwords Edition


CHAPTER 1

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN


You can call a dragon anything you like, but it will still be a dragon. They are big, they breathe fire and they can eat an awful lot. Dragons are also extremely lazy and get very annoyed when they have to go out for a meal. Fortunately, being crafty as well as lazy, they long ago worked out an ingenious way of getting free home delivery- simply advertise the fact your cave is stuffed with treasure, and when humans come to steal it… eat them.

Now legend says things weren’t always like this, and that there was a time when dragons and humans were bound together in trust and friendship. However, ask any sensible dragon what they think of that idea and they would laugh in your face (a very intimidating experience). Who could imagine being friends with a human, they would ask. After all, legend is a liar as often as not, and it certainly doesn’t help to confuse what is food with what is friend.

Mara, a young dragon, was about to discover her mother was a very sensible dragon indeed.

Walking into a large cave, she saw gold and silver coins scattered like wildflowers in a moon-lit valley, glinting in the pale light cast by crystal orbs. Strands of smoke curled through the air and drops of water dripped from the ceiling to splash amongst rusted suits of armor, shields and swords.

‘Mom,’ she said, walking in the center of the cave. ‘How did we get all this stuff, anyway?’ Mara had grown up surrounded by treasure, but for the last few weeks had felt a nagging need to understand where it had come from.

A russet gold head, nearly half as long as Mara’s entire body, pushed forward from the shadows between two limestone columns.

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