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He found the human child the same day, hiding in some low bushes by the edge of the Great Forest, next to the water hole.

Later, thinking back on that day, he realized there was an important lesson to be learned there, about how the world was fundamentally unfair. It wasn’t fair that this, this friendship that would come to mean so much to him, would in the future stop him from making his biggest mistake, was offered to him on that very day, the day of his shame.

But then, he wasn’t aware of any of this. At the time he was just annoyed and didn’t know what to do.

Had he been younger, he would have gone to his father, to tell him of his find. Any other day, even, he would have gone to his father. But, after what just happened, it didn’t seem appropriate.

( Besides, the great dragon had made it clear in recent months: Solvi wasn’t a baby anymore and now he was expected to deal by himself with his own problems. )

But first, he had to learn another lesson that very day, a lesson about humans, one that everybody should know who has to deal with them:

They are always afraid.

It didn’t matter if they were young or old, big or small, male or female, it soon seemed to Solvi that humans were born afraid, stayed that way all their lives and died the same; their hearts always beating too fast, their eyes always too wide open, their legs always ready to run. And this one was more afraid even than most.

“I will have to be very careful, thought the young dragon, if I do not want to make a fool of myself. Again.”

He crouched down, folding his limbs and letting his scaled belly flatten the long grass. He was trying to make himself look smaller, you see, which was not easy since even a young dragon is nearly the size of a rhinoceros, and Solvi was already big for his age.

He unfolded his neck, then, very slowly until his massive head came within touching distance. The human, he decided, was young. It smelled young. And its skin wasn’t marked the way it often gets in the older ones. Also it appeared small, which according to his somewhat limited experience of humans, indicated either a young or a female one, sometimes both. Then again, to be fair, most thing appears small to a dragon.