It is said that when Julius Caesar burned the Egyptian fleet, the fire spread and consumed the Great Library, but it was not so.
We found these creatures, these humans, a boundless source of fascination.
They were small, but endowed with something that drove them to great heights in mind and spirit, and great depths in destruction of themselves and their homelands.
We studied them, watched them grow and fight, love their families, conquer and rule over their enemies, worship their gods, and unlock new knowledge that, to us, had been eons old.
The earth was not large; it was a pretty runt, a bright blue fledgling in the obsidian nest of the universe, but these men were voracious in their desire to learn of its mysteries, as were we.
To that end, the smaller dragons among us visited. Some stayed to help men with their battles, but their memory was wiped from the pages of books not ascribed to myth. The voices of the faithful who proclaimed our reality were said to be insane, or possessed of the demonic; they were summarily dismissed, condemned, exiled, or put to death.
And so it was we thrived, and thrive still, for above all, we learned that men are killers of that which they fear, and determined in their hunting. With enough numbers, gnats can drive an army from the battlefield.
I saw the fleet burn. The fire made the ships dance on the waves, even as they listed, even as they slipped into the ocean’s cold embrace.
My King was saddened, but told me to go claim what was there, as the building of such a repository of man’s answers to his own questions would not be undertaken on such a scale again.
Concealed by the roiling smoke, I landed on the palace grounds, and engulfed the Great Library in flame. To the eyes of men, it burned and was no more, but it dwells now in the world of dragons, resplendent in our Grand Cave.
And now I watch the single narrow path that leads there, waiting for the one who seeks to rekindle the flame of the intricacies of their world’s knowledge, of its achievements and downfalls, its perfect balance tipped by human hands, its consuming cycles of death and rebirth.
I watch for a seeker’s lantern, a lone star shining low over a high hill.
But the path has long been empty, and my own flame, long unused, dims within me.
The books, parchments, scrolls, and treasures of the human mind are yet here, yet waiting, but time is an inexorable, incremental crucible, and eternity is yet to be.
And now the winds are rising, blowing sand across the path that I may not disturb. It is a slower, cooler form of destruction, but no less a ruin; the more so for remaining undiscovered. Though I long to know it will not become a wasteland, it is not up to me.
I am but a sentinel whose sight is dimming, watching for light upon a disappearing path that leads to a world starved for wisdom and knowledge, but slowly dying, mortal as the flames of Caesar.
*Art by pandiivan.deviantart.com