The First Task.

I am of the race of the most ancient of creatures, and yet I am forced to lie still and be carried half way across the world like a sack of half-ripe vegetables.

It would not be so bad if they had at least given me a padded bed to lie on, but then I am supposed to be unconscious and incapable of feeling anything.

Dragons like myself, should be feared and respected, and yet we cower and pretend to be little more than beasts. I, who was born with the knowledge of hundreds of my sires, must sit in this ridiculous cage and allow mere mortals to shepherd me.

Why do I allow this humiliation? Why let those inferior races grow stronger and gather in numbers sufficient for their puny magic to have an effect on me? Because of the Covenant of course.

I have arrived wherever it is my 'captors' are taking me. Their sleeping draft had worn off hours ago, but I have been playing along to let them think they are strong enough to handle me. Now I rise slowly and shake myself as if waking from a dream; it's play time.

I stamp my feet and roar, billowing a tongue of flame into the night sky. The mortals do not scream in fear; they are somewhat used to this by now. My three companions also raise themselves to add their own contributions to the show. Together we make quite a 'respectable spectacle'. How pathetic.

Should I, or any of my younger companions choose, we could kill all these Wizards before they knew what was happening, but we do not. Instead, we let them gather their might and combine to cast spells strong enough to drop us where we stand. I hoped my tail did not hit anyone as I fall.

The Covenant, that thrice cursed agreement that my forefathers made, thousands of years ago, to end the ritual decimation our kind indulged in. It meant I had to spend at least two centuries playing this game before I was allowed to retreat to our hidden sanctuary.

We could not completely hide for the Wizards; they had learned too much and become too cunning. So a few of us would always be required to spend a small portion of our lives keeping up the illusion of beasts. Slowly they would be allowed to learn the true extend of our knowledge. Slowly they would learn our secret. I fear they will not be able to stand the shock.

We had surrendered control of the world.

Never again could one of us sit on the Throne of Green Flame and command all living creatures to bow their heads in subjugation and kneel in worship. Never again would we rise in great numbers to battle to the death for that thousand-year right.

The decision had been made, and all had agreed, and were bound, to abide by it. Another race would be allowed to rise. A race that was not capable of wiping life from the face of this, or any other world. A race that we would have to hide our superiority from, lest we destroy their ego, or allow their passions to infect us. We had to let them become more than just pawns in our eon long strategies; we had to let them grow enough to be able to stop us; to be our partners.

Should this race become prematurely aware of our true existence, they would undoubtedly try to enlist us to aid them in their petty concerns. If that occurred, if we were to give them the benefit of our knowledge and power, they would eventually come to rely on us for help in all of their problems. Then they would never develop skills or knowledge to survive the coming holocaust.

If that happened, if even one member of my race were given a path to power, we would all be lost. The 'need to rule' that lives deep in our blood would take control, as it had so many times before. Once one started down that path, more would follow, and soon all creatures on this planet would be involved in our war.

The last time we nearly killed them all. Barely any of the great races survived our last purge. The giant, gentle lizards were gone, along with countless other beasts; all destroyed in the frenzy that accompanies our succession.

We too were almost wiped out.

If I did not myself carry the memories of lives long past, I would not believe we could have been so foolish. We did not deserve to own this planet, and it would be millennia before the Wizards were great enough to withstand our might.

So far, the Covenant had given us enough control to keep from war, but the time for madness will come again. If it came too soon, before any power existed that could tempter our might, it was unlikely anything would survive.

So now, I must allow these 'humans' to treat me like a beast. I must flail and rampage, and pretend their spells affect me more than they really do; it is all a mockery.

Morning has come. They have brought three of my companions and I to an arena. No doubt we are to each battle one of their own. For what purpose? I know not. Perhaps they have revived their tradition of man battling beast for the amusement of others.

I have been given a golden egg. Apparently, they expect me to keep it from my opponent.

Great Offspring of the Angry Sun, they expect me to fight a child?

This is intolerable. I could swallow him without chewing, or impale him on my tail without moving a single step. This is a nightmare brought to life.

I know none of my companions would seriously hurt their Wizards, but I cannot believe they would have faced an 'enemy' as harmless as this!

What can I do to keep in character, but not hurt the baby that stands before me?

I make a few passes with my tail and belch a bit of flame near him. The watching crowd are in awe. If they knew just how hot I could make that flame, they would flee to the furtherest corners of their world in fear.

It is hopeless. There is no way this youngling can escape even the pitiful creature I am supposed to be. Even a beast could easily defeat this human, who doesn't seem to be using any magic at all.

Why doesn't he just summon the egg from beneath my wings and be gone?

How can humans have allowed this situation to develop? I can see in the stands one of their kind who is almost respected by my people; the one they call Dumbledore. Why does he not show the strength and compassion I have heard of, and put an end to this farce?

The child is scared. I can smell his fear, and it makes me quake in rage. When the blood lust takes my kind we have no feelings for others, but until then, I care not to kill any thinking creature.

I face an impossible decision. To preserve the great secret of my race, will I have to murder a helpless child?

Wait, what's this? Oh ho, the little one has taken to the sky! Well-done boy!

I pray it will be enough.

He is good; I will give him that. He is easily able to avoid my carefully aimed flame, but does he have a strategy, or will he just escape?

Ah. He is trying to lead me away from my charge. Were it not so insulting of my intelligence to think such a simple trick would work, I would be impressed with his bravery.

I touch him with my tail, as a reminder of the respect he should show my kind, and then I allow his plan to succeed.

When the other humans rush in to subdue me, I am well contented. They live on their lives, never knowing how close they came to learning a truth that may have destroyed them.

I am a Dragon, a God among the creatures of this planet, but the Wizards must be kept unaware, lest the truth become their undoing.

Such is my first, and only, task.

Finite Incantatem.