NONe

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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HHundreds of miles away as the bird flies, leagues away from the bustling city, lies the Last. Be led away from the traveled roads, long trodden, ever-bearing heavy caravans. Bolster your courage and step into the lair of the Silent One.

Take heed, tread softly on the ground which has such ears. Follow farther down a desolate hole of a pathway with its slimy stone walls, echoing with a far-off dripping. A light shimmers in the near distance, a beacon of beckoning, pulling you close like a magnetic force. Do not resist, but follow onward.

Suddenly the light is overwhelming. Stumble back and shield your eyes until they adjust to the golden luster of a thousand hills of baubles. Squint and enter the opening without fear. The one that is resting will not harm you. Crane your neck to the heavens, up to the highest of the jeweled mounds, and be awed for there lies the Last.

A figure of 70 feet is curled around itself, a body which once boasted the finest sinew of the all the land. Formerly glistening scales of multihued arrangements have lost their sheen, but amaze you nonetheless. Be saddened, for this awe-inspiring creature lies dying before you. This is the Last.

One slitted reptilian eye opens to survey you and a curved claw shifts, but no movement of consequence is made. Where once this predator would have long sensed your coming and welcomed you with the flames of hell, it now has barely the strength to raise a ragged and torn translucent wing. Nostrils flare at the sharp inhalation of a life-sustaining breath, so hard to come by for the last of a dwindling breed. A tear stings at your eye. Wonder now why this is the Last. Who is to blame? Blame your world who has become harsher and greedier than this serpent, this dragon of old. There is no more room for one more killer, for all those vacancies have been filled. This may be the Last, but it is the beginning of the age of the faceless, nameless, and shapeless predators