How Dragons Get Their Gold
by David Sklar
Mellitraxa stirred in her sleep, and the bed of coins shifted beneath her. In her dreams she was a young wyrmling; the coins numbered only in the hundreds, and failed even to fully line the cavern. The soapstone slab where she rested her head lay on the floor of the mountain hollow, with almost nothing else beneath it. When the clank of metal roused her, she woke relieved at the comfort of a full cavern, the gold coins polishing her scales as she rose and stretched. She extended her talons, and they sunk deep into the shifting bed.
The human looked ridiculous, as they always do. The metal plates on his body made him look like a crab or an insect covered in chitin beneath his flowing surcoat. "Hold, foul beast," said the crab-man. "Prepare to die."
Mellitraxa snorted, and smoke rose through the mountain's open top. "Really?" she asked. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"How many kingdoms have you raided," asked the human, "to amass all this gold?"
The dragon's amusement turned to indignation. "I am twelve-thousand years old," she answered, "and my teeth grow new each year. This gold is mine."
"And how did you gain it?" the human asked. "I've ne'er seen a dragon in the marketplace."
Mellitraxa stretched her leathery wings, which almost filled the cavern. "From beasts like you," she said, "but perhaps even smaller. They dwell in ivory towers."