I draw my cloak in closer. It’s cold here. And lonely. I almost cannot believe that I let fairytales draw me here like a fly to honey. The bards’ tales told of riches in a dragon’s den north of Bren. I’ve lived here for many years and have yet to see a single coin, never mind a dragon.
Trees, that’s all there are here. Little twisted things that scare the birds away. I haven’t had a good meal in ages. How I’ve managed to live off of bark and snow-crickets, I’m not sure. I know only one thing for certain: I’m done sitting around at my camp moping. Today I shall go adventuring.
# # #I bring my cloak tighter around me as I wander through a path of pines. My boots sink into frost-coated needles that cover the forest floor. Far off to the north-west I see mountains on the horizon. That’s my heading.
As I begin moving uphill, the ground gets slicker and slicker. Where there isn’t snow or ice there is smooth, grey granite. Before too long, all is white, sweeping wind bringing a cover for the bare patches. Hours pass, leaving me numb to the storm. My eyes are almost too glazed to see the wonder before me.
A four-legged creature stands at the top of the mountain. Its massive form is covered with glistening bronze scales. It opens its mouth to breathe out and steam pours past sharp teeth. A long tail snakes out to its side.
“You’re dragon,” I say, far louder than I meant to. My heart skips a beat.
The dragon looks down at me. Its emerald eyes stare straight into mine. “You are a man. A rare sighting, I suppose, for both of us.”
“Y-you,” I stammer. “You can speak!”
“I can do many things,” says the dragon.
I rub my eyes to make sure what I am seeing is true. The dragon’s image does not fade. “I have longed many years to find one of your kind.”
The dragon smiles. He looks odd doing so. “I long for no one, least of all a man.”
My throat goes dry. “Why do you long for men least of all?”
“They’re always trying to steal my treasure.”
I let out a huff, disappointed. My feet are poised to turn as an idea strikes me. “What if a man simply asked for some treasure?”
The dragon glances hard at me for a moment, then lets out a laugh. “You are a clever man, I see. Take a little silver. I have little use for it.” It adds, as an afterthought, “Just don’t drag your friends here. I’m not so friendly when my stomach isn’t full.”