Prompt Jan. 6 2017

WP:  They say the ancient dragons died long ago, wiped off the face of the earth by the first lords for the safety of all. No one ever told you what danger they truly posed. Now you stand before one, eyes have met, yet it does not lift a claw to harm you…

Sir Nicholas crept around the corner of the dimly lit cave. The flame of his small nub of a torch lept up and forward into the darkness. The tunnel he had been groping along had opened into a large cavern before him. After a few steps into the seeming void a soft jangling sounded from underfoot. Sir Nicholas curiosity had piqued and he crouched down to inspect the noise.

Fumbling with his large metal greaves Sir Nicholas tried, unsuccessfully to pick up the trinket off the ground. After a few attempts, he pulled off the lobstered metal, picked up the piece and held it up to the light.

“Gold?” Sir Nicholas asked as he turned the small yellowish piece in the light of the torch. 

“My god it is.” Sir Nicholas answered himself laughing.

As his eyes adjusted, Sir Nicholas’ gaze swept forward into the depth of the cave. Before him what was once just a murky darkness began twinkling with the unmistakable rich yellow of polished gold.

“I’ll, I’ll be set for life,” Nicholas stuttered. Dreams of lavish parties, women, and untold excess swam through the mind of the lowly household knight. Nicholas’ mouth began to water at the thoughts as he started forward toward the bulk of the riches. He crouched down before the mound and dug a small hole to set his torch in. Beside the light he laid his cumbersome greaves, he wanted to feel his newfound fortune with his hands.

While sorting through coins of kingdoms past and picking out a set of ruby and sapphire-adorned chalices, the problem of transportation suddenly crept into the back of the mind of the single knight.

“Hmmm,” he thought aloud. “I don’t dare hire anyone to do the lifting for me, I’d run the risk of being robbed. And, if I have another of the lord’s knights to help, my lord will expect a share.”

Nicholas squatted and mulled over this dilemma. Above him two gilded serving platter eyes blinked open and rose 30 feet to loom over the hunched knight.

He was still focused on the foot of the pile when a feeling of dread swept over Sir Nicholas. The hair on the back of his neck pricked up and he felt that he was being watched.

“Hello,” Nicholas called out, expecting to hear only his own faint echo.

“Hmmm,” Ardruin yawned, still shaking the sleepiness from his eyes. “Why hello. I haven’t had visitors in so long. To whom do I owe the pleasure?”

Sir Nicholas leapt backwards tripping over his torch and snuffing it out in the process.

“W-W-Who’s there?” Nicholas questioned aimlessly into the dark.

“Oh my apologies sir. Here,” Ardruin said, breathing a plume of fire upwards to the hanging jeweled chandelier suspended 70 feet above Sir Nicholas’ head.

Light quickly filled the cave and Nicholas’ initial shock escalated to a seizing full-body terror that let loose his bowels.  

“A Dra. A Dra. A Dragon.” Nicholas stuttered. He promptly began reciting the bible verses as they popped into his head, as he was sure this was the end.

“Yes, I am a dragon, as men say. Though technically I’m a wyvern. And I have a name: Ardruin.” he paused and began again, “I know I’ve been hibernating for quite some time, but is it not still customary to introduce yourself too?”

Nicholas looked up from his mumbling prayers and managed to squeak out only noises of terror. After a minute or so, he huffed “I’m Nicholas. Sir Nicholas of House Truing”

“It is certainly a pleasure to meet you Sir Nicholas. And to what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from House Truing?” Andruin asked.

“Uhhh,” for a few moments Nicholas’ true purpose for coming had completely escaped him so instead he asked: “Are you not going to eat me?”

“What?” Andruin asked, caught off guard by the bluntness of the question. “I do not eat people.” The scales on the Wyvern’s face seemed to recoil in what might have been disgust.

“But, you’re a dragon. I thought Dragons only ate the flesh of man.“

“Again, I’m a Wyvern and that’s utter nonsense, do you think we live to be as old as I, 679 years give or take, by feasting on the flesh of such nasty creatures. I mean no offense, it’s just that you humans are filled with bitter acids and literal shit.”

Nicholas, more confused now than he was terrified, responded “No offense taken. Uhh, speaking of shit, do you have a loo that I could use, you gave me such a start that I’m afraid I’ve gone and soiled myself.”

“Unfortunately not, Sir Nicholas of House Truing. You’re standing on my bathroom.”

Nicholas looked around for a moment and didn’t see anything that would qualify.“You mean to say that you shit on all of this gold? Why?” The images of wealth and excess that filled Sir Nicholas’ mind turned to literal shit.

“Of course not,” Andruin laughed, “All of this gold is my shit.”

Nicholas walked over to one of the fine ruby encrusted chalice and held it up to Andruin.

“You shit this flawless chalice? Then prove it.” Nicholas challenged.

“It doesn’t really work like that Sir Nicholas. You see, I eat raw ore and expand my cave and then when it’s time, my body expels the ores, just golden.”

Nicholas looked unconvinced.

“We wyverns used to just bury the scat until we saw that you humans were digging it up and trading them for other goods. Then we started keeping them and molding them into what you have there.” Andruin said proudly.

Nicholas stared blankly at the wyvern looming above him and slowly lowered his gaze to the flawless chalice then back to the Wyvern.

“So, if you made this and you don’t eat people, then why are there so many stories of evil dragons, err Wyverns, who hoard gold and kill men?” asked Sir Nicholas.

“I suppose,” Andruin said thinking over his response slowly, “that history is what the winners decide it is.”

“I’m not sure I follow.” Nicholas said now studying the craftsmanship of the chalice.  

“You see Sir Nicholas of House Truing,” Andruin began, “We wyverns used to used to coexist with you humans a long time ago. It must have been…well, hundreds of years ago.” Andruin frowned.

“One day though, the King of you humans called a meeting with our chieftain and asked if he could keep the wyverns from producing more gold. Can you believe that Sir Nicholas of House Truing? The audacity of it all. It’d be like asking you not to shit.”

Nicholas thought he saw a flare of anger pass through the Wyverns eyes.

“As it was so ludicrous,” Andruin continued, “Our chieftain flatly refused this request. It was explained to us that the miners who helped with our dwellings were not to be paid in any more gold. They were, we were told, amassing a wealth rivaling your king. After that small sorte and our flat refusal of his appalling request, the king sent many of you knights to come and dispatch of us. I was one of few to escape this attack but many of us weren’t so lucky.”

“So,” Nicholas began, “let me get this straight. Wyverns aren’t really dangerous. They shit gold. .And they were killed because they simply exist?”

“I suppose that is one way to sum it up Sir.” Andruin said.

“Whichever King called for your death is surely dead now. Why do you choose to stay in hiding?” Nicholas asked.

Andruin paused. “We don’t show our faces anymore because of how you humans perceive us. We would be killed off before we could even explain ourselves.”   

Nicholas’ gaze returned to the pile of wealth. Greed slowly crept up his spine.

“So you don’t want people to know you exist. Then how much is your privacy worth to you?” Nicholas said as a smile crept across his face.

A look of pain crept over the Wyvern’s face.

“Oh, it’s come to this then.” Andruin sighed.

The massive Wyvern crawled over the mound of wealth and pinned down Sir Nicholas before the knight could reach for his sword belt.

“I…I thought you didn’t kill humans,” Sir Nicholas gasped struggling to reach his weapons.

“I said we wyverns don’t eat humans.” Andruin’s nostrils flared and smoked. “I said nothing about killing them.”

“Wait, please.” Sir Nicholas was cut off before he could finish his sentence. A pillar of fire crashed down onto the knights head and melted both flesh and steel.
“Fucking knights.” The wyvern sighed as he lumbered back into the darkness of the cave to sleep.     

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