By Alexandra Erin
The enormous cavern was empty, or at least as empty as a place can be when there is a dragon inside it.
The brave adventurer stared in shocked horror and amazement not at the twenty-ton scaly beast but at the bare floors that were not piled high with gold, the vacant nooks and crannies that absolutely were not overflowing with precious jewels the size of their fists and heaps of coins, the crevasses that were definitely not brimming with ancient chalices and silver goblets and bejeweled swords that were maybe magical but certainly valuable.
“Wh… where did it all go?” he said, more to himself than to anyone else.
“All what?” the dragon answered anyway, in what would have been a soft voice had it emanated from a smaller instrument.
“The… the treasure,” the adventurer said. “Your hoard!”
“Oh, wow, that’s a harsh word,” the dragon said. “I never thought of myself as a hoarder. But, I mean, I guess it’s fair. I mean, it started out simply enough, just collecting shiny things because they caught my eye, and then it just turned a thing I did, and then… well, I hate to say it, but it became what I was. I didn’t own anything, it owned me.”
“But what did you do with it all?”
“I gave it up. It was just stuff, you know? Look how much more room I have. You know, I couldn’t even roll over before. And even before the piles got that high, there was nowhere for me to sleep that wasn’t on top of something. It was ghastly.”
“Don’t dragons like sleeping on top of coins?”
“But dragons love gold!”
“I’m getting a kind of a vibe from you that tells me you do, too, but I doubt you’d bed down on it if you had a chance.”
“Enough, wyrm!” the adventurer said, drawing his sword. “You will tell me what you did with your treasure!”
“Oh, no, please!” the dragon said, cringing and shielding its eyes with its taloned forepaws. “Put it away!”
“I see you have heard the legend of my sword, aptly called Drakeslayer,” the adventurer said.
“No, no, it’s just… it’s so shiny, and I’m still, you know what they say about old habits…”
“I’m giving you to the count of three,” the adventurer said, taking a step forward. “One… two…”
“Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take one little sword,” the dragon said.