The soil is dry beneath my plain leather boots as I pick up a handful of soft sand and let it slowly fall to the ground and blow away in the wind. Peth looks to me and makes a concerned chirp, as she could always tell when I was upset. Such a good mount she was. Her empathy with me seemed so strong, that it even aided us in battle. I can recall the times when the younger “natural folk” would often think me little to be riding such a beast, but they never saw how fast she ran. They never saw how kind she was, and they never saw that this little “desert sparrow” would never tire when I needed her the most. She often carried me half dead out of battle, just to get me to a safe place. And when she finally died, her offspring were just as loyal. Another concerned chirp from Peth, and I stand up, take her bridle in my hands, and pet her soft muzzle. “Good girl,” I whisper softly to her, reassuring her that everything will be just fine. Bareback, I mount the little Desert Ostard and ride into town again, my pack filled with treasures that Anatoniel and I have collected over the years. Through the desert of Malas we travel yet again, and to the magical moongate of Umbra we go, leading the way to Luna, the NEW trade city. The small central building is so crowded you can barely breath. The voices are so loud and many that you can barely hear yourself think. People have their beasts of both burden and battle standing beside them as the sit there in full glittering armor. They shout of all the things they’ve accomplished just for one day... Selling Artifacts and rare items... Loot from the great beasts they’ve slaughtered. Most of the younger folk ignore me, but a few riding nightmares, fallen steeds, and other beasts too powerful for their own good look at my little Peth with almost a laugh. Such a weak mount isn’t for a tamer... at least that’s what they think. Perhaps they think I’m stupid. Perhaps they think I am simply incapable of taming a stronger mount. They just don’t know me. They just don’t know her. I ask the bank man to show me my box, and I slowly unload my pack, thinking back to each item as I place it safely inside. Foods from ages ago, safely preserved. Artifacts from foreign lands, gifts from friends. Time pieces, magical baubles, deeds for resources so that I may claim them again in future years. As I place the checks for gold in the bank I hear somebody sell an item for 14 million gold. My life savings, 3 million gold. They’re so young... It’s amazing how much gold they can get in such a short time by slaughtering. It’s done. All of my riches... all of the things that Anatoniel and I have worked so hard to gain, now all fit in a single box. I’m sure if I were to place them on the ground, and one of these folks would snatch them up in a heartbeat, and sell them with the rest of their “junk”... My hard earned treasures, are now obsolete when compared to the new things that can be found in the hidden lands. I had worked so hard for these items, and now they would be easily looked over for something ‘better’. As I leave, I hear a few men argue. “I’ve just gotten 6 new Arties from the labyrinth... What did you get?” “I don’t go there...” “Where do you hunt?” “I hunt daemons.” “How pathetic! Who hunts daemons anymore?!” At this I interject, “I do.” “Ha!” he retorts with a laugh, “Only new bloods kill daemons!” Several men and elves laugh, their armor glistening in the light of Luna. The daemon hunter and I both leave, feeling... belittled. As Peth takes me back to my Adobe, my mind wanders back to older times. ... a few months ago actually... Peth breathes heavily beneath me as she scrambles out of the way of the great red hooves. Ana gives a mighty screech and claws the daemon in front of him, spreading his great wings and buffering a great wind. The daemon mutters a few dark words and Ana is engulfed in flames! Peth gives a startled cry and stumbles back, the fire heating my face. As the flames clear, I can see that Ana is wounded, but not dead. He could easily run, but he stands his ground and bites for the daemon, grasping it’s great arm and drawing blood. The daemon roars and strikes Ana’s side, causing a gash. Peth runs under Ana’s feet and avoids being stepped on as I quickly apply my field medic skills, healing what I can. The daemon has escaped from Ana’s grasp and spreads it’s dark wings to fly away! With fury in his eyes, Ana spits fire at the daemon and knocks if off balance, slowing it’s escape, then he speaks a few deep words and uses his natural magic to teleport in front of the daemons path to make one final blow. The daemon falls to the ground. With a mighty roar, Ana has won the battle! Anatoniel gives a large draconic grin, and flies back to me. I heal him, then take the treasures from the evil creature that we’ve rid from the world. Gold for me, gems for Ana. That was the deal, and always will be. Every once in a while, we’d find a special item to be kept, but usually it was just gold and gems. Never would we harm a good creature. Never would we harm a natural creature. But Ana has the appetite of a dragon, and he must eat. The evils of the world reside in his belly, and because of this, Sosaria is a safer place. My memories are interrupted by a nervous chirp from Peth as she spies a small snake heading toward her feet. Unconcerned, I herd the little creature out of harms way, and it slithers across the sand. Ah, we’re here.. Yet again, to my Adobe. I dismount from Peth, and stand in front of my steps, sad to think that some day the large home will crumble to the ground. “Ana... it’s time.” I call to inside the house, and out of it peers the great face of the bronze dragon. I call him “the bronze beauty” although he has lost almost all of his luster through time. His scales are now a dull brown, and his brow has faded to almost white. Scars cover his scaled hide, revealing the true warrior resting inside his slowly beating heart. He comes toward me, and brings with him a bundle of blankets that contain my last treasure which I gently take from him. It’s time for goodbyes... I take the bridle off of Peth’s face, and allow her freedom. She’s confused. I tell her to leave, and she doesn’t go. I know she’d follow me. She’d follow me without tire if I let her, but I cannot. “Come now girl, you’re in the desert.. This is near home.. You know these lands, and there are few beasts that can challenge your safety.. Go on.. “ She walks closer to me and nuzzles my plain robes, chittering happily. “GO!” I yell, and with that, Ana gives a mighty roar and charges toward us with his wings spread and teeth bared! I stay still, but Peth retreats, startled and with a heavy heart. Ana stops short of me, but Peth keeps running, never to look back. A tear falls from my cheek, providing the sand below with moisture. Ana looks to me with wise eyes and I hear his voice in my head, *She had to go... We all have to go... You... Have to go.* And with that, he slowly walks back into my home, curls up in his lair, and waits. He waits for my home to crumble in around him and his world to end. I nod, and walk through the desert, carrying my bundle with me. After a long walk, I finally reach the tunnel nearby which leads to the grasslands beyond. It is here that Xian waits for me. He looks at me with young eyes and excitement, anticipating the adventures to come. His metallic green feathers shimmer in the light as he bows to me so I may mount him. Safely sitting aback the great Hiyru, we take flight. The wind whips through his feathers, and tugs at my cloak. As I look down at the parting world, I think of the sorrow in my heart that I may never see it again. I move the cloth of my bundle and look at the egg. I must keep it safe. I must keep it warm. One of Peth’s offspring is in there... That is my future. That is my only future. As I wonder what worlds await for us beyond the horizon, I hear the last words of Ana in my head, *I love you.* ... And here I am... on the foreign shore of a distant land. Sosaria far behind me. Perhaps someday I’ll return... But the world will never be the same... at least not for me.