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The dragon watched the frothy surf ride in on the tide to wash over its dull scales. Once those scales had been as golden as the sand it now rested on. A thousand years had passed and now they had blackened and become lustreless. The dragon let out a gusty sigh, blowing sand into the air. The tide pulled back, leaving puddles in the long furrows made by the old dragon’s talons. Its tongue flicked out and emptied one of the furrows of the tiny sea creatures that had been left behind. The dragon grimaced at the taste. It was hardly enough to live on. But then it didn’t require much for its final journey. The dragon’s mind wandered back to a time when its scales were still gold and its wings young and strong.

*

The golden-flecked eggs sat nestled against the warmth of the old dam. The winter had been long and harsh. Most of the eggs would probably not even hatch. Still the dam kept her vigil. Then one of the eggs quivered. A minute fracture appeared on the otherwise smooth surface. The fracture grew into a spidery web of fissures. Finally a segment broke away and a golden snout pushed through. The snout sniffed at the air inquisitively. Then a head the size of a small boulder wriggled out. Amber eyes examined the dam and the cave and then they blinked. With a final effort, the hatchling broke out of the shell. The dam pushed the hatchling gently with her snout and chuckled. Its head was too large for its body. The hatchling’s scales were the most brilliant gold the dam had seen in a dragon. She named him Al’ahzaab, the Golden One.

*

The dragon blinked in surprise. Dragons had the ability to recall all events from the time of their birth onwards but almost never experienced random flashbacks. The dragon considered that he may have already grown senile or even mad. Several hours passed as he contemplated this addition to his miseries, before reaching the conclusion that he wouldn’t be considering these possibilities if he was mad or senile. He finally put it down to depression. Then a seagull made the grave error of mistaking his tongue for a snake. A poof of flame later and its charred remains became a delicacy for the dragon’s palate. There was a time when he wouldn’t have even considered sniffing at it. Cooked meat left a foul taste in the mouth. But then again, real hunting took effort.

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