Stationed around the tree, basking in the dull light of a hot but overcast day, and in the stench of rotten death, were six large, muddy grey dragon lizards.
The largest of them was probably about ten feet long.
It was at first quite difficult to gauge their size. We were not that close as yet, the light was too blear and grey to model them clearly to the eye, and the eye was simply not accustomed to equating something with the shape of a lizard with something of that size.
I stared at them awhile, aghast, until I realised that Mark was tapping me on the arm. I turned to look. On the other side of the short fence, a large dragon was approaching us.
It had emerged from the undergrowth, attracted, no doubt by the knowledge that the arrival of human beings meant that it was feeding time. We learnt later that the group of dragons that hang out in the gully rarely go very far from it and now do very little at all other than lie and wait to be fed.
The dragon lizard padded towards us, slapping its feet down aggressively, first its front left and back right, then vice versa, carrying its great weight easily and springily, with the swinging, purposeful gait of a bully. Its long, narrow, pale, forked tongue flickered in and out, testing the air for the smell of dead things.
It reached the far side of the fence, and then began to range back and forth tetchily, waiting for action, swinging and scraping its heavy tail across the dusty earth. Its rough, scaly skin hung a little loosely over its body, like chain mail, gathering to a series of cowl-like folds just behind its long death's head of a face. Its legs are thick and muscular, and end in claws such as you'd expect to find at the bottom of a brass table leg.
The thing is just a monitor lizard, and yet it is massive to a degree that is unreal. As it rears its head up over the fence and around as it turns, you wonder how it's done, what trickery is involved.
At that moment the party of tourists began to straggle towards us along the path, cheery and unimpressed, wanting to know what was up, what was happening. Look, there's one of those dragons. Ooh it's a big one. Nasty looking feller!
And now the worst of it was about to happen.