The way was long and hard and tiring and hot. No one had been this way for many years, and the path was broken and hard to follow. Finally, on the morning of the eighth day of his quest, crawling over some rocks which had fallen into the path, Ed looked into the sunrise and there was his first dragon coming at him!

      "Wait," cried Ed, "I don't even know your name!"

      "Asaph," harrumphed the dragon, spreading his wings and flurrying up a terrible cloud of dust. "Who be you, fool human?"


      "Ed Wills," said Ed, "And pleased to meet you, Asaph. But my village is starving and I must bring my people the Philosopher's Stone."

      "Your name is 'Dead,' fool human, unless you turn and run back the way you came, this very instant, and maybe even then!"

      "I have to go get the Philosopher's Stone for my people. I don't want to hurt you. — Why do we have to fight?"

      "Because it is The Way," roared Asaph, and he leaped to attack.

      It was a terrible fight. The very first instant of the attack, the dragon's claw made a long searing scratch all the way down Ed's arm. Ed got his shield up in time to fend off worse damage. There was no more time for feeling afraid, and he pressed his own attack forward with his flashing sword.

      The fight was long and hot and sore. The great sword grew very heavy in Ed's hand, but he fought on. At last he found a weak spot in the dragon's side and drove in the final blow.

      Ed could not help but notice, there was such a terribly sad look in Asaph's eye just before life faded out of it forever.

      The road was hot and hard to walk on under the afternoon sun, and it was a long way before Ed could reach his next dragon. It was evening, and then night and a brief rest and then, all too soon, it was morning, and Ed was looking into another sunrise facing the second dragon!

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