It was about five hundred years ago from the current date. It may seem like an impossibly long time ago, but I still remember every bittersweet detail of my past. At that time, I was considered still young, for one of my race. My race, you ask? We are...were ...the Ancient Dragons. With a twisting, sepentine neck, and feather-crested head, back, wings and tail. We are large and powerful. Extremely powerful. But the world can only hold a certain amount of our power. The population of Ancients never exceeded 200 members at any given time. That is why, as the day of hatching drew near, I grew increasingly restless.

A new brother or sister! A total of 11 eggs have been laid this century and one of them belonged to my mother! Actually, in the past, fewer eggs have been laid on average. But still, I was considered lucky to have a sibling. After the egg was first laid, there has been a constant stream of friends and relatives visiting my family, wishing us well, giving presents and so forth. Siblings are very, very rare. Only during desperate times, like the War of the Monster's Fall, did the population boom, our bodies adapting to the crisis and making more babies in case our numbers diminished drastically. But other than that, us Ancients have never seen a large crisis. No one dared challenge us because no one was able to match the magnitude of our power. I suppose that was our greatest error, settling into a peaceful life without equals, without danger. We became almost pacifist in our superiority, never suspecting that one day, our very existance would be in danger. But who would have thought of that at a time like this!

I slinked around the dark edges of the mountain until my head poked into the sunlight. Squinting in the morning rays, I spread my wings to catch some of the light breeze. What a lovely day. The air tasted faintly of granite from the mountain, clover from the fields below me, ocean salt from the northern waters, and a dozen, dozen other scents that spoke of the rich and ever-changing growth of the land. Exellent conditions for an early- morning flight.

"Hey!" I yelled back into the mountains. "I'm going flying, so if anyone needs me, they'd better catch me now!" I cocked my head, waiting for some response. Nothing. Perfect.

I took in a deep breath, pulled my head back and roared into the wind, to announce my departure. Then, with a kick of the leg and a flap of the wing, I was off.

The rising heat carried me high and the slight breeze carried me far. But before I lost sight of it, I looked behind my shoulder and caught a glimpse of the retreating tangle of peaks that made up my home. The entire Ancient Dragon clan has lived there ever since anyone can remember. The mountain range was bordered by the Desert of Destruction to the west, an ocean to the north and surrounded by fields on every other side. I headed south, where a human village lies several miles away. Not that I intended to mingle with the humans, but watching their everyday lives was somewhat amusing. Besides, I had nothing else to do.

Seeking a challenge, I powered my wings to take my as high as possible. Hmm, but if the elders saw me, they would be very displeased. They are always warning the younger dragons not to fly at such high altitudes because the air was too thin and one can end up falling asleep and fall to their deaths. Bah, those old fools just can't handle it! They would probably get dizzy at such hights, what with being old and all. But I'm much younger and stronger than the elders! Still, if they saw me...

I aimed upwards, angling towards the sun. That way, anyone under me would be unable to see me because of the sun's glare. Higher and higher I climbed. The land below me grew smaller and smaller until it seemed like I can carve a two-mile gash in the earth with the single swipe of a claw. Up, always up. Into the clouds where fiercer winds buffeted my head and fog distorted my vision. Dew drops formed on my ebony feathers. With one last push, I broke through the cloud barrier into a pure land of white and silence except for the wind whispering through my own wings.

It's so peaceful here. I spread my wings to soar and willed my feathers still. Amazing! I have never experienced silence this absolute. Back home, there would always be sounds of wings rustling, waves crashing, or the constant lull of the wind. But here, oh, I drank in the silence like a parched throat would drink water. The quiet was deafening, almost painful but in a most enjoyable way. I was so sleepy, it became increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open. With a yawn that made my jaw sore, I closed my inner eyelids, telling myself that I'll just take a brief rest...

I am ashamed of saying it now, but I actually fell asleep from lack of oxygen. Slowly, unknowingly, I fell towards the ground. But it was a flash of gold upon green, that was visible even through my inner eyelid, which woke me up. Groggily, I opened my eyes and flapped my wings weakly, keeping my altitude. Gold? my sleep-heavy mind asked. Focusing one eye, I saw the Golden Dragon. It couldn't see me, I was still too near the sun. I've never seen a Golden Dragon before, and heh, they were tiny! It wasn't feathered like Ancients, but scaled so that their skin reflected the sun in a lovely prism of colors. It was also carrying a curious, pointed object and, once I noticed, was followed by a few other Golds as well. They were heading towards the home mountains.

As much as I burned to go out to see them, this might be some sort of diplomatic visit. I wouldn't want them to feel insulted if their welcome party consisted of just one juvinile! Better let the elders handle this. I continued to the human village.

The outskirts of the village had a small pond where the children often played in the tall grass. But today, the pond was abandonded. I circled once, checking my surroundings before I landed where the grass was long enough to hide even my bulk. Sitting there a few seconds, I began to feel foolish. Nothing was happening here! I sighed, parting the grass with the air from my nostrils. Then, where the grass parted, a touch of red... I went nearer to investigate...

It was such a small object, that I picked it up daintily with two claws, afraid I might break it with my clumsiness. It was a red stick with two pieces of string on one tip, which both ended in painted red balls. A child's toy! I smiled a dragon's smile, amused. My new brother or sister would love this! Of course, it's not suitable for a dragon, but when the hatchling learns how to transform, he or she can play with it in human form. I carefully tucked it between the feathers of my waist where it would not be damaged. Feeling proud of my discovery, I geared up to fly home.

I don't believe in omens and such, but as I was heading home, the clouds gathered and I felt a strange dread in my guts. I shook it off. What could possibly go wrong?

A few hundred leagues from home, I was astonished to see a limp pile of black/red feathers. Drawing nearer, I could see that there's something beneath the feathers. My astonishment diminished as my horror grew. It's an....Ancient Dragon!

It can't be. It can't be.

I rushed to my comrade. But he was already dead. How could this have happened?! I've only been away for a few hours! He couldn't have died from disease or old age; his body was so matted with blood. Fighting revoltion, I turned him over, looking for the cause of death. His head turned, making his tongue loll out of his mouth. But imbedded in his stomach, was a golden spear. I touched it, and I could feel the magic laced around the cruel steel. So. Some human set on impressing some lady thought he could gain chivalry by slaying a bloodthirsty dragon. He probably took along a whole party as backup and had a powerful magician enchant the spear so that he could not possibly avoid a fatal blow.

I gritted my teeth in frustration at such a horrible, horrible misunderstanding. Ancients have always maintained a good relationship with humans, by avoiding them. Perhaps a rogue Black reawakened the human's fear of dragonkind. Tearfully, I left the corpse where I found it and returned home to report what I saw.

But as I winged through the air, some strange thoughts began to disturb me. Why was the grass not trampled around the dead Ancient? It almost looked like an aerial attack. The spear fit comfortably in my hand but was much too large for a human to wield. Usually, when a human slays a dragon, they would keep the tip of the tongue or tail as proof of their deed but I didn't notice any missing body parts. I shook off these stray thoughts and concentrated on flying.

"What the...!" I wondered aloud. Another body! Up ahead, was one more crumpled, broken body of an Ancient. But while circling for a landing, I saw yet another mass of black/red feathers. Wha...what's going on?

Speeding towards the mountains, the amount of dead bodies increased so much that I lost count. But every body had at least one golden spear imbedded into their flesh. My wings would not stop in panic and I found it difficult to swallow. It was then that I recalled the object that the Golden Dragons were carrying. I didn't look carefully enough, but if memory serves, the things they were carrying are remarkably similar to the golden spears. No way! Never in history has a Dragon killed another Dragon!

Finally, when the home mountains came into view, my dark suspicions were confirmed. Like sparrows attacking ravens, the Goldens darted about the larger, but less agile Ancients. There were so many Golds, that they formed a cloud, a cloud which would close on an Ancient and leave it blood- soaked, to fall to their fate. Despite all our power, Ancients have been pacifists for centuries, and don't know how to fight. The Golds, however, have a great deal of experience, some of them were even survivors of the War of the Monster's Fall.

By Ceefied, it was a slaughter! Young, old, male, female Ancients lay in heaps, staining the soil red. What could possess the Golds to do such a thing?!

I dived 90 degrees, faster and faster, until I was about to crash, then I adjusted myself to be parallel to the ground. So close to land, the Golds might not see me among the dark bodies of my people. But here, only meters above the dead Ancients, I could smell the pools of spilled crimson and see their open eyes, still crying, still pleading. I could see their open jaws, caught in silent screams. The scene of genocide laid before me would forever be sketched in my memory. No matter how many centuries passed, I will never forget... That is, if I live that long!

I found a cave underneath an outcropping, where the shadows would hopefully hide me for a while. There, I waited for a break in the golden cloud. Finally, there! NOW!

I scrambled madly towards the cave where my family lived. Where mom and dad were. They would comfort me, wipe the tears from my face with their soft feathers. They'll tell me that this is all a nightmare, and in an instant, the Golds would be gone and I would see the laughing faces of my friends again.

I dived into the enterance of the cave, filling it with my bulk. A scene of devastation awaited me. The floor was bloodstained and most of our possessions have been broken in a struggle. My father's body was sprawled against the far wall. And it was at that moment, that very moment, that I saw one of the tiny Goldens plunge the acursed spear into my mother's exposed back. She screamed in pain the same instant I screamed in horror.

"AAAUUUUGGHHH!!!"

"NOOOOOOOO!!!!"

The Gold's head snapped up, startled to see me. It sneered, reaching for it's spear, still embedded in dragon flesh. But my mother, with hidden reserves of strength, held the spear, keeping it in her own body! Even as the spear sapped at her life energy. Because of this, the Gold was unable to free the spear to use against me. I whipped my tail over my head, and nailed the Gold in the neck. The dragon hit the wall with a satisfying crack and slid down like wet cloth. It scrambled into a corner like a trapped animal, as far away from me as possible. And indeed it was a trapped animal, it's eyes reflected fear, fear of...me...

I rushed to my mother. I didn't worry about the Gold, it could not get out without entering my striking range. Ignoring the growing nausia, I pulled out the spear as carefully as I could, but I couldn't prevent some muscle being torn in the process.

"Mum...?" I said quietly, touching my mother's face. Her breathing was shallow and blood dribbled out the sides of her mouth. Her eyes opened and it was the dispair, pain and utter, utter saddness contained in those spheres that shocked me into reality. That this is really happening. That if those Golds have managed to kill so many Ancients, they will be able to kill me as well.

Mom reached up and weakly stroked my face. "The...egg..." She managed to gasp. The egg! If I could not save my mom or dad, then I must save as many hatchlings as possible! I turned tail towards the hatchery. But am I not forgetting something...? Of course. The Gold.

I turned back to the Golden Dragon. It cowered in the corner looking truly pathetic. I towered over it's tiny golden form and thought that I could easily kill one of these by simply crushing it with my weight.

"Why," I asked the Gold, "Why have you commited such atrocities? What have we ever done that convinced you we were not worthy of living?!" An emotion I did not feel very often bubbled up from within me. Anger. Hatred. "ANSWER ME!!" I demanded, stepping closer to my foe. The little dragon tried desperatly to blend into the wall. I grabbed it by the throat. It gasped. That is, I thought it gasped. Actually, the Gold took in a breath and blasted a ray of blue-white heat from it's mouth. Laser Breath! I ducked my head and squeezed slightly, causing the shot to go wild. My captive struggled to take a second shot...

Then I did what I had never before conceived of doing. I killed a dragon. I took it's thrashing neck in my jaws and closed... I felt it's final scream of pain more than I heard it. And, when the Gold stopped breathing, I let it drop from my mouth with a sickening thud. I looked at my own blood-stained claws. The flood of revoltion and shock washed away the anger and hatred, leaving me empty and terrified. What have I done!? Ancients haven't killed in centuries!

I shook my head clear of such thoughts. I still have a mission to complete.

My ebony feathers blended right into the black mountain as I slinked in the shadows, avoiding the Golden Dragons while making my way to the hatchery. Two Golds flew out of the entrance as I am about to enter, but did not see me. They are not stained with blood, but they held their spears as if recently used. My insides churn with dread.

The hatchery had always been a quiet place, but the promise of life seemed to emit from the very walls of the carvern. It was a happy place, where eggs were laid, hatched, and new dragons were named. I could even faintly recall my own emergance into the world. This colorful, exotic, and oh so cruel world. Now the hatchery is a tomb. No promise of life here; no peeping and scratching of tender claws against inner eggshell.

I thought I could not experience any more sorrow after what I've already seen today. I walked numbly towards the center of the room, sand under my feet muting my steps, and picked up the remains of my brother or sister. Small. Small enough to fit into the cupped hands my human form. Innocent. The half-developed, iridescent eyes stared up at me, unseeing, never seeing. How could they do this?? How could the Golds do this??

I'm sure I would have looked a sorry sight to any passerby. Here was an Ancient Dragon sitting on his haunches, staring at what seems to be something pathetically small and insignificant. I didn't know whether to scream or cry or kill every Golden Dragon defiling my land or to just jump off this cliff with my wings closed and end it all.

"There's one!"

"Kill it!"

A trio of Golds emerged from the entrance of the carvern, easily manoeuvring in tunnels made for Ancient Dragons. I twisted my neck to see them, and absurd as it was, I had to supress an urge to laugh. They were tiny; how dare they attack someone of my size? But from the carpet of black and blood I saw outside, I knew they would not hesitate to lacerate my flesh until I bleed to death. But how are they able to kill us Ancients, who are many times their size and strength? Are we really so passive as to not even put up an offence when attacked? Perhaps.

I reared up to my full massive height, towering over my opponents as I've seen some Blacks do. Tail thrashing, talons flashing, wings extended to their fullist, I unleased a scream that vibrated the very sand that I'm standing on. The Golds hesitated, not used to Ancients that fight back. It could have been a trick of the light, but for a moment, I swore I saw the seeds of fear in their eyes. That moment did not last long. Several more Golden Dragons flew in, attracted by my voice. Hissing, I retreated into a side corridor, and the Golds gave chase.

The corridor is small enough so that my bulk fit in snugly. The Golds were not able to hit my head, chest, or any vurnable area because of that, but my tail and hind legs were exposed. Hell, need I mention the agony? Yet, it doesn't even compare to what they've already done to my heart. My back end was bloody and nearly featherless by the time I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. No no, this is real sunlight; I'm still very much alive, unless pain could be felt even after death.

I exploded out of the tunnel and blew a current of air and sand at my pursuers, hoping that would deter them enough so I could get away. I flew upwards. AAAHH! How am I supposed to steer without tail feathers? And where could I go? The sky was choked with Golds. Like tiny flies on carcasses, they settled on the dead bodies, pulling out their spears, further mutilating my friends and family. There were so many of them; if even one looks up...

There was no way I could overpower so many Golden Dragons, no way I could outrun them. The grassy fields surrounding most of my home offered no shelter from these murderers. I looked north towards the ocean. Could I fly across the sea to escape? The Golds would probably chase me until they become tired. Then they would moniter the coast to see that I won't come back. And I would become exhausted and die in the ocean, far away from my home and the non-existant graves of my fellow Ancients. The last option lies to the west.

The Desert of Destruction.

This desert wasn't always called the Desert of Destruction. It's only been called that for the last couple centuries or so, ever since the Mazoku barrier was put up during the War of the Monster's Fall. The rumor was that a banished Dark Lord lives in this desert, on the outskirts of the barrier. That's just a rumor. I headed west.

It didn't take long for the Golden Dragons to spot my enormous black figure against the otherwise featureless blue sky. Hundreds of them sprung into the air like a gigantic wave of liquid gold. At first, they steadily gained on me and I couldn't keep my altitude with my tail dragging. But once I reached the desert, heat from the sand bouyed my feathered wings, while the Golds had to constantly flap to keep their scaled bodies in the air.

After a while, the number of Golds diminished to ten, which was still enough to do me in. And I was tiring. The heat and sand stung my eyes. I closed them for a while. Suddenly, they were open again, wide with pain, as a gold spear tore through my shoulder. One Gold had already caught up to me! It latched onto my back and systematically lacerated the most important parts of my flesh. I tried to shake it off, but while I did that, my speed fell. The other dragons caught up.

Loss of blood caused my vision to blur. The blue of the sky, burnt sand and gold from wings and spears is a chaotic mosaic in my agonized state. The same could be said of my mind. I don't know what to feel anymore: pain, terror, sorrow or anger.

Vision fading... My altitude fell until I am a mere hundred meters from the sands below.

Oh Ceefied, I am going to die here. I am going to die.

NO!

In a last ditch attempt, I curled up into a ball and focused my energy. The ball of my body shrunk into nothing, then exploded in a blast of dazzling light. Out of the brilliance, my human body emerged. Of course, I can't fly in this body, but a hundred meter fall into the sand might not hurt me so much. Besides, as a human, most of my injuries as an Ancient would disappear and I might be too small for the Golds to strike accurately at.

Still, I felt a few glancing spears on my body before I hit the sand. When I did, the air was knocked out of me and I teetered on the edge of consiousness. But I don't care, perhaps I could rest a while before the Golds got to me. After a while, a small part of me noticed that there is a sand storm. Why aren't the Golds here yet? Are they flying above the storm? Or have they left me here, thinking that I could not survive the damage they delt to my body?

The sun beat mercilessly at my exposed flesh, and my skin easily absorbed the heat rising from the sands. The only thing I am wearing is a pair of non-discript pants. A flash of red caught my eye.

Why, it's the child's toy I found! The toy is tucked into the pocket of my pants, undamaged and shining. It was a present for my now-dead sibling. The thought of all that I had experienced in the last few hours brought tears to my eyes. Seems like an eternity ago that I was flying over the lush fields, not a care in the world. Now an existance without pain is only a fleeting memory.

I lay there for an eternity. Even when I felt I could move, I don't. I am too tired. I could just lay here forever. But would that be right? The Gods saw it fit for me to be the lone survivor of the Ancient Dragons. Surely there is a reason to this. Of course. I will punish the Golds for what they have done. I shall avenge my friends and family. I must survive! But...can I? How?

Almost as an answer, the storm stilled and figure stood at where the sands parted. I raised my head. What did the Gods send me now? As the figure approached, I feel a sense of dread unlike any I have felt before. But whatever it is, even if it is my death, it can't be as bad as the Golden Dragons. No. The Golds deliberatly and systematically wiped away every shred of my family, my friends, my home, my life. This figure... nearing me... even when I realize who, what it is, I know that it can't be as bad...

....................

The crimson of the sunset is one of the few things that I still love in this world. It really shouldn't but it does. The vibrant glow dominates the surrounding sky and clouds and stains them red, so you can't tell where one starts and the other one begins. It embraces the entire land laid out below me, below the precipice on which I stand. It even dyes my body blood red. I close my eyes and spread my arms, hoping the light would engulf more than my skin, but my entire being as well.

A slight breeze whistled through my hair and then the world was quiet again. I used to think this type of silence was a blessing. Back when I was young and still innocent. But now, there is nothing but the silence.

I am alone.

"No. You are not." A voice said.

My eyes snapped open and I whirled around to face the one who had just responded to my unspoken thoughts. That is, I thought they were unspoken, though they apparently were not.

"Gaav!" The owner of voice was Lord Gaav, the Chaos Dragon King, Maryoo-ou sama, one of the Five who served under Shabernigdo or whatever other pointless title you can pin to a face. To me, he is much more than that.

I turned away from him. Instead, I sat on the cliff with my legs dangling over the edge and continued watching the setting sun. The silence returned. But this time it was different. This time I.

"You are not alone." He said again.

Funny. He seemed to read my thoughts and finish them for me. I turned around and smirked at him. "What are you doing all the way here, Gaav?"

Gaav's smirk mirrored mine and he sat down beside me. His immense body towered over my own. "Oh, I don't know. You look sad."

I barked out a laugh. "Sad? Is that as advanced as your vocabulary gets?"

An irritated growl escaped his throat. "Shut up. It's true isn't it? You're sad."

I blinked. Am I really so transparent? I schooled my features. "No. I'm just thinking."

"Thinking."

I nodded slightly. Gaav sat beside me, not truly believing my answer, but not pressing the issue either.

Maybe he already knows the answer. That demons of the past haunt me every day and hour, that the shadow of my unborn brother or sister still appears in the corner of my eye, that I shall never see my friends and family again. That I, the lone survivor of the Ancient Dragons, am alone.

Gaav is alone too. Cast out by those he once called allies, he now wanders the world in passionate hatred of them. Sort of like me. Anger and revenge fills our vision, shapes our future. And because we share this perception of the world, we work in union to see our goals realized. Together, we are alone.

The sun's brilliance faded into the mountains.