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Dinner is Served by Snake

The clouds rose menacingly in the distance as Alaroth leapt from his lair high on the mountain side. Even though the sun still shone on his green scales, the wind told him the storm would be here before too long. He knew he must hurry if he were going to be able to eat that night. There were too few wild game left in the area, at least of any size he was interested in, and the farmers herded their live stock in when the storms threatened. Not that the farmers were any real threat, of course, but they carried bows and tended to band together and their arrows were so annoying and difficult to pluck out, and if they broke off, he knew it would bother him for weeks. He hurried to the pass between the peaks which led to the green pastures below. If that area had been easier to defend he knew the townsfolk would surely have settled there instead of the groove in the rocks they had chosen. Sure enough, in the distance, Alaroth could see the cattle and sheep as they were being driven toward the pass. He knew some would become separated from the herds and be easy picking. With his keen sight he could see the farmers pointing in his direction as he began circling. He wasn't worried as they began to frantically try to bunch the herd together. Their attempts only made their situation worse as more of the livestock became disoriented and began to gallop off in different directions. Alaroth picked out a nice sized steer who had become separated behind a stand of trees. He would be able to land and be off without the farmers ever having gotten a shot off at him. He began a slow deliberate dive which would take him in away from the farmers and their futile efforts to save every bit of their herds. Awfully selfish, Alaroth thought of the town. After all, he had always left the people alone and only ate a few of the pets and livestock when he couldn't get enough elsewhere. They had no idea how much he protected them, either. Eliminating the forest of the dangerous animals which would no doubt have no hesitation whatsoever in devouring one of their tasty looking offspring. All of which seemed to have wandered off into what would have been dangerous areas if not for him. Ungrateful, humans. But still, he thought, they are in my domain and I suppose I must care for them as best I might. He was skimming over the forest at treetop level now and would soon be upon the unfortunate animal who was unlucky enough to be chosen to be his dinner, but at least the end would be quick for the beast. A small benefit of being the victim of a dragon, but a benefit nonetheless, thought Alaroth. A nice big one, this one would keep him satisfied for a couple of days. Longer for other dragons, but Alaroth enjoyed his meat medium rare and so it spoiled quicker. The clearing appeared and as the surprised look appeared across the steer's face, he never had time to comprehend the danger before the spectacular display of dragon fire, claw and teeth made quick work of the animal. Then he was aloft, passing just out of range of the farmer's bows who let loose several volleys of arrows which fell harmlessly in the trees. Then as the farmers watched the dragon climb into the sky with his catch clutched firmly in his grip, one of the younger townsmen spoke up. "Why'd you give 'im the biggest one? He would of been fine roastin' for the festival." "Quiet you.", replied the farmkeep, "We'd a lost dozens of them without ol' Dread up there to protect us. You know the stories of the old days." Grumbling under his breath so the elder couldn't hear, "Yeah I know. The stories from your dad, and his dad, and his dad, but why the biggest one? Dread wouldn't of known the difference. And why do we take care of the dragon anyways, can't they take care of themselves?"

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