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The river runs dry, scorched into steam by fierce fire

Screamed into existence from a crimson throat

Searching for a thief that dared venture into its lair

And in its foolish arrogance remove gold.

they ran hand in hand frump the fury that sought them out,

in innocence they had come across the cave, seeking only each other

its stone was smooth, worn and warm, its entrance hidden behind foliage young and thick

nervous young lovers with eyes only for each other, they entered and ventured deep.

The beast had slept for an age of time it could not count nor cared to, now it was disturbed

Into a fury it raged and around it all was fire before its wrath, its senses tasted the air,

Its keen eyes hunted, its vast wings ready spread wide, its raised itself to its full height

It kept with a cry heard far and wide that chilled all who heard it, all trembled at its sound.

they heard it and they ran, felt the heat of the flames at their backs and they ran

hand in hand the lovers ran, panicked, fearful, in any direction that was away from the beast

they ran stumbled, tripping, falling, swift and clumsy, scorned by branches mocked by roots

she in distressed tears he in panicked bravado with eyes look looked for a place to hide.

It soared high, spied the land below what once was green was now changing,

In places the land was now black and smouldering, in some areas tree blazed,

All about the land had become a smoking, steaming, burning ruin

Keenly searching the desolation it spied them, its eyes narrowed and saw the gold.

a shadow covered them, a furious wind threw them to the ground with rough force,

trees were smashed and broken by clawed wings and horned tail that lashed like a whip

it screamed at them, its breath seared their skin making them sweat all the more from their fear

but no fire came, she held him close he held her closer they raised their heads, met the beast eyes.

It looked at them through slits of black and gold, its long teeth bared its throat glowed

Anger drove it but desire controlled it, it tasted their fear, its eyes looked to her neck

To her fingers, to her wrists, it moved to them and they cowered,

It roared and they sank into the ground before the terror that towered over them.

in his fright he felt the cool metal, opened his and saw the gem stone shine and he knew,

The beast sensed this, within its chest fury brooded

he whispered to her, ‘Be not afraid,’ one by one he slipped the rings from her fingers

It breathed, the sound an unquiet roar, its tail sweeping too and fro in impatient mood

(they had thought themselves blessed, in the deep cave they had knelt in an embrace)

(It had felt the change in the air, tasted scents alien to it)

he placed the rings upon the ground, unclasped the bracelets from her wrists,

It watched and it waited, ageless patience keeping it from striking

(he had gone to gently lay her down when his hand reached out and touched the hoard)

(A sound, a feeling, its bed trembled about it, sounds reached its ears)

he placed them with the rings, removed the necklace from her throat adding them to the pile

It looked on this, its mind intent and set as at last all was removed and laid before it

(they had been so full of joy, such bliss, riches beyond counting and each other held tight in love)

(The beast had been slow to stir but its senses were disturbed into action)

the pile glittered before them, crouching at the monster in front of them, slowly they backed away

It let them, waiting until at last it reached forward covering the pile with a vast clawed foot

(they had laughed so loudly, shouted their joy and he had dressed her in splendour)

(The sound of their joy had roused it at the last, sensing its loss it came forth)

he stood and reached down with tender care, and helped his love to stand beside him

Through narrowed slits it watched them stand,

he bowed in silent apology to the beast, hand in hand they began to back away

With one foot on its gold the other lashed out, caught him and sent him flying

she screamed

The beast roared

he hit the ground hard, felt the heat of the flames

From deep within it unleashed its fire and its full fury upon the thief

she became one with the flame and did not hear her lovers anguished horror filled cry

With its possessions intact, it spread its wings and soared high into the sky back to its lair.