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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


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The Snake's Terror
by: Zanzibar

He had been lying in the shadow of the cavern all day, watching Chalco and his friends as they flew in and out over the water. They were playing a game centered around an old cormorant, but the bird was sluggish and their repeated passes had made it frightened and confused- it flew in erratic circles and its feathers were coming out in crazy bursts. Dakar's large eyes, like deep black mirrors, followed the unfortunate bird. His head lay cradled between his forearms and his ears were fanned just enough to catch hints of the brilliant blue sea crashing on the cliff-side so many hundreds of feet below. His stomach was sick with pity. Chalco had been sitting on a precipice at the edge of the cavern for some time, his forearms crossed in contemplation, the sunlight glittering off of his brilliant purple-gold scales, casting a thousand dancing lights backwards into the cave. The sunlight suited Chalco perfectly. He looked like the sparkling idols of old that decorated the ancient temples in the city-center. Dakar preferred the darkness. It protected him, it wrapped its cool, stretchy arms around him and made everyone else let him alone.
"Oh, leave that tired old bird already" called Chalco lazily from his perch. His eyes sparkled. "It's time for Dakar's training."
Dakar's head snapped up and a cold chill ran through his body. The circling dragons murmured with excitement and came to roost on the cave's edge. The lone cormorant fluttered vainly towards the cliff's summit, dropped ten feet, paused, and then plummeted haphazardly the thousand feet into the sea. Chalco easily leaped the twenty feet from the precipice to the cavern. He surveyed his friends' faces.
"So far we have been testing Dakar's courage and fortitude, trying to turn him from a weak little iguana into one of us. We have trained him to endure great pain without so much as a grimace. Now is the time for his final test.”
The final test. Its formal name was the Snake’s Terror, but Chalco probably invented the name that very day, standing there in the bright sunlight, the sweet-smelling sea breeze buffeting his smiling whiskers, commanding the rapt attention of his friends with a slow soft stream of suggestions.
Within a few minutes Dakar had been prepared. His wings were lashed to his body with a series of carefully tied knots. His arms and legs were tied to each other. Without his limbs, he had the same abilities of a snake, the others agreed. He had use of neck and tail, but they muzzled his snout so he could not speak or cry out for help. They meant to push him off the Cormorant’s Wharf, whose tiered peak was just high enough to break his legs if he tried to land on them while they were tied. If he panicked, they would let him fall. If he showed good resolve, they would save him. Things did not go as planned. Before they started down, there was an argument; Dakar could never remember how it started. Arseno, a pugnacious black angular dragon wanted to cast the little green dragon from the mouth of the cavern. The Cormorant’s Wharf was hardly sufficient for a final test, some of the others agreed. Chalco became very angry. Dakar could not speak. One eye was pressed into the sandy rock and the other saw only shadows and sky. The cliff edge came closer. There was a scuffle. He felt a hard shove and then there was only empty space. The air rushed past him. He was falling, still falling. His wings tried to open on instinct but their bonds held fast. Panic seized his stomach. Around him there was still only empty space.
The fall to the water should have killed him. Instead he crashed into the top of the Cormorant’s Wharf, the top of his intended platform dive. The wood splintered. The highest platform gave way. He struck the next, and the next, and the rotting wood came with him with deafening crunches. At last he bounced free of the scaffolding, free-falling the remaining distance straight into the sea. It hit him like a rock wall, knocking the breath from his lungs. As soon as the water managed to get out of the way, it came coursing back. He could not move his arms. The ropes cut into his wings. His breathing was quick and short. He could not breathe. The water was rising. The salt burned his eyes and nostrils. There was broken wood everywhere.
Suddenly there were claws on his skin. They pulled, lifted him out of the burning, sucking water and onto dry land.
Dakar could not fly again for more than six months. His father never asked what happened. He did not want to know. He never visited Dakar in the infirmary, and when Dakar was finally back on his feet, his look of utter shame at the sight of his son’s limping figure was enough to discourage the young dragon from ever approaching his father again. He never told him that it was Chalco, his most beloved son, who had orchestrated the entire fiasco. He never told him that it was Chalco who caused the bruising and the swelling that often ruined his chances on Race Day. And Dakar never knew that it was Chalco whose shove had finally pushed him over the edge that day.

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