Short Stories

SHORT STORIES: The Hoard

No. It was the hoard that the dragon was guarding that surprised Simon the most.

When Simon first entered the legendary halls of Glandomass, he didn’t expect the sight before him.

All throughout the kingdom, he had heard rumours of a magnificent dragon that had an insatiable appetite for human meat. Years ago, it had flown in from the snowy North and taken over the abandoned fortress of Glandomass, the biggest castle of the kingdom of Duboras, well known for its year-long summers and wealthy people. What intrigued Simon the most about these stories was the vast amounts of gold and jewels that had been abandoned by the people. He had also heard of the many hunters and knights who entered those halls with the intention of slaying the great beast, all of them failing. But he was born from a peasant family. Now a young man trying to find his way in the world, he had never known the wealth of nobles and lords. Even just a handful of the treasures in those halls would set Simon up for life.

When he travelled the vast distances to the castle, it wasn’t the grand sight of the decaying fortress that surprised him – though the keep was carved into the mountain and the surrounding walls went around for miles and miles, it only impressed Simon temporarily.

Nor was it the sight of the many destroyed homes within the castle limits that stopped him – though it filled Simon with a great sense of melancholy and sadness, he pushed onward, driven by his mission.

Even when Simon successfully navigated the vast empty halls to the centre of the castle, the sight of the dragon scared him only briefly – it was a giant indigo coloured creature that easily could’ve held mountains in its claws with teeth as long as Simon was tall.

No. It was the hoard that the dragon was guarding that surprised Simon.

While vast amounts of gold, jewels and precious stones sat untouched throughout the main hall, the dragon lay sleeping protectively around a hoard of panties. Thongs, briefs and boxers in all sizes and colours were piled high, larger than any of the groups of discarded treasure around him. Everything from the most extravagantly designed pieces of lingerie to the simplest of cloths could be seen in the pile. One lacy black thong hung off one of the dragon’s horns, swinging back and forth in time with the beast’s breathing. The sight would have almost been comedic had the creature not made Simon want to shit himself. However, the act of stealing the treasure was made all the easier with the dragon in a deep slumber and he was not actually guarding any of the gold. So, Simon stealthily moved forward to the nearest set of treasure, opening his satchel and filled it as much as he could, careful not to disturb the pile.

He had almost topped it to the brim when a single gold coin slipped from his hand. Simon watched it fall in slow motion as it finally hit the floor, the sound it made once it hit the stone ringing out throughout the hall as clear as a bell.

A few seconds of silence passed. Simon thought he was in the clear and began to make his way to the door before he heard movement and a deep loud grumbly voice boom from behind him, giving him a head ache almost as soon as he heard it.

“Right, who th’ fuck is burstin’ in when am tryin’ tae huv a kip?”

As Simon slowly turned to face the dragon, he saw the panty pile collapse and the beast raise itself to full height, standing on its hind legs and stretching its neck so that its head nearly touched the ceiling. Its eyes now opened wide to reveal deep emerald orbs with obsidian slits that glistened with age staring right at him.

“You! Ye wee dick!” The beast roared, dropping down onto all fours, the force violently shaking the room around them, causing Simon to lose his balance, his satchel falling off in the process, spilling the contents. When he raised his head to look back at the creature, Simon’s face and the creature’s mouth were a metre apart.

“Whit th’ fuck are you daein stoatin’ aboot when am trying tae sleep?!” As the beast shouted, threatening to burst his eardrums, Simon could see the glowing centre of fire in the back of the dragon’s throat. He could feel the intense heat that threatened to blister his skin, and the overwhelming smell of rotten corpses that accompanied it paralyzed Simon with fear.

“I truly apologise, my flamely lord! For it was not my intent to disturb you!” Simon whimpered, closing his eyes and waiting for the death that would surely come. However, he heard the dragon lumber away. When he dared to open his eyes again, he saw the dragon had moved back towards the hoard it was guarding, rearranging the pile.

“Yer certainly mare polite than the other humans who come in ‘ere! It’s aw wavin’ swords aboot ‘n’ screamin’ ‘PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM, FOUL BEAST!’ Where the fuck are manners these days?” Though his voice was still loud, the beast’s tone had seemed to calm down a few notches and Simon thanked the gods for the battering his ears were spared. “But still, look at the fucking mess ye made!”

Stupidly, Simon thought of the only thing he could offer to a beast that could squash him without a second thought.

“Would you like me to help you?”

The dragon turned its head over its shoulder, looking down again at Simon, raising a single scaly eyebrow in contemplation before turning back to the task at hand.

“That’s kind of ye, but ye sit yersel’ doon there, son… I didnae mean tae scare ye, just caught me at a bad time, ye know?”

Simon, though somewhat confused at the plainness of their conversation, was pleased that he wasn’t going to be this dragon’s next meal. He watched it continue to work. Though it had immeasurable strength, it handled each item of undergarments softly, each placement of underwear in the pile was thought out and methodical. It was a sight Simon found bizarre. He decided to continue on with the conversation.

“What is thy name, oh great and noble flaming one?”

At this, the dragon chuckled as he concluded his work, turning back to Simon and walking slowly towards him, this time keeping a respectable distance between the two as it lay down on all fours.

“A’ve gone by many names. The flaming Shadow. The gatekeeper of Tartarus. But ye can call me… Steve.”

Simon blanked for a second

“…Steve?”

“Aye, and yersel’?”

“Uhm…Simon,”

“Well, nice tae meet ye Simon,” Steve put one hand towards Simon and for a few seconds, he tensed, worried he was going to be crushed, until Steve extended one claw close to him. As Simon looked at him confused, Steve motioned to it and shook it vertically. Following the cue, Simon shook the claw with his right hand.

“It’s… ugh… it’s a pleasure to meet you too!” Simon chuckled, surprisingly disarmed.

“See, that’s what a’ve been missing! Some decent friendly conversation! By the way, Simon, ye goat any undies-?”

Simon dropped his trousers and flicked his underwear across the floor before quickly buckling back up. He didn’t want to do anything to annoy Steve. The dragon picked them up and inspected them intently, the same way a jeweller would inspect a gemstone to see if it was fake. Though they were unimpressive to Simon, being just a plain pair of boxers, Steve seemed satisfied and put them into the pile.

“Cheers mate, ye huv nae idea how much a luv these! Thank ye!”

Simon went back to being confused before turning his head towards the door, his only escape.

“Well, while I’ve enjoyed this conversation, I’m afraid I have to- “Simon began before the dragon’s booming voice cut him off.

“Yer boostin’? Oh c’mon, I huvnae spoke tae anyone in years. Come oan, pull up a chair, stay a while, please.” Steve went into one of the abandoned treasure piles and grabbed a large rectangular treasure chest. It was made of mahogany and rimmed in gold, jingling as it moved. It probably held more coins in it than Simon could ever know what to do with. Steve set it down gently and motioned with his massive talons.

“Please.”

Simon wasn’t sure if it was the overwhelming size of the dangerous animal, or the surprising pleading tone in its deep rumbly voice, but he sat on the edge of the giant chest.

“So, tell me aboot yersel’.”

And Simon did. Everything from his humble beginnings to the stories of Glandomass that brought him here, and his desire to live comfortably. All the while, Steve sat patiently, listening to every word with rapt attention. As Simon finished, he felt it was only appropriate to question Steve.

“What about you? Why did you decide to live here? In Glandomass? Do you not miss the North?”

“You been up north?” Steve through a clawed thumb over his shoulder to narrate his point. “It’s fucking freezing! Ye’d move here tae if ye hud tae spend months ‘n snow covered darkness! A’d huv stayed oot in the open country, but a hate the rain, so a thought a’d go fur some accommodation, ye know?”

“So, the people of Glandomass… you didn’t kill them?”

Steve raised his head slightly, his brow knitted in disgust. “Whit? Naw! They went runnin’ as soon as they saw me!”

“And the missing people? All the hunters and knights?”

Steve chuckled. “Oh aye, they’re fuckin’ deid, for sure! Shame though, hate fucking human meat…”

It was Simon’s turn to raise his eyebrow in curiosity. “Then why kill them?”

“If some dick walked intae yer hame, wavin’ swords ‘n’ bows aboot, threatenin’ tae kill ye, ye’d probably retaliate ‘n’ aw!”

Simon couldn’t help but agree. The only question left on his mind were the panties in the room.

“Why do you keep so much underwear?”

The dragon idly looked back to its hoard of discarded underwear, then plucked from the pile, delicately holding a pair of pink frilly thongs. “These bad boys?” the dragon replied, stretching them gently for effect. Simon nodded, and Steve shrugged in reply.

“Just like ‘em,” he said, pinging the panties back into the pile, finding its way back to where it originally lay without disturbing the rest of the pile.

“…yeah?”

“Aye.”

It took a minute for Simon to process everything of the bizarre encounter, but as he did, the seed of an idea blossomed in his mind. In a million years, he never thought he would be doing something like this, but it may have just been the solution to all his problems.

“How about I make a deal with you?” Simon proposed, standing up for the first time since the conversation began. The look on his face must have caught Steve’s attention, because now the dragon seemed to listen even more closely than before.

“Aye, go oan,”

“Now, you don’t want any of this gold, do you?” Simon asked, holding his hands out, gesturing to the vast amounts of wealth.

Steve sharply exhaled, a small plume of black smoke coming out as he did. “Dae a fuck! It’s just takin’ up space!”

“But I do,” said Simon, feeling emboldened now. “So, I propose, for every piece of underwear I bring you, you give me a share of the treasure. You have more underwear and more space for them, I have the gold I always wanted. We both are happy!”

Simon smiled, looking at the giant beast for an answer. Steve pondered for a second, scratching his chin thoughtfully. Though the whole interaction went better than expected, the long thick talons still welled up a sense of anxiety in the pit of Simon’s stomach. Visibly making a decision, he turned back to Simon, a wide toothy grin on his face.

“Deal!” The dragon extended his finger again, which Simon shook with a lot more confidence than before. When they separated, Steve picked up Simon’s abandoned satchel, carefully positioning it over his shoulder.

“Consider that your first payment.”

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