Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Dragon’s trade|
I fumble with the bag in the dark and pulled out the rifle. Gradually the walls started glowing, I stayed where I was and continued to wait. I heard a grating sound and then a loud slithering noise. Soon it was light enough for me to see and I glanced around.
There was a mound of something about fifty feet away and I was in what appeared to be a large cave. A rasping sound had me spinning around and I froze as a huge shape came out of the darkness, “You picked the wrong cave thief.”
It was like something out of a movie or a book, Tolken or one of the others. In front of me was a huge dragon. I looked into the large glowing eyes, “I’m not a thief.”
The dragon moved closer, “I can smell my gold.”
All I could think of was the gold coins in my bag, “That would be my gold coins you smell.”
The dragon stopped in front of me, “Yours?”
I smiled, “Yes. Are you real or did I hit my head on the way down?”
The dragon tilted its head and looked up, “Ah… you came through the hole.”
I looked up but couldn’t see anything, “If that is what you want to call it. Where is this place anyway?”
The dragon looked at me in a way that I thought of as strangely, “This is my home human.”
I looked around, “At least you will stay dry.”
There was a coughing rasping sound as the dragon turned its head. I could see a trickle of flame fall from its mouth before it turned back to me, “Why are you not afraid of me human?”
I grinned, “I’m seventy years old. What are you going to do… kill me?”
The dragon tilted its head, “yes.”
I shook my head, “Let me guess. For my gold?”
The dragon was silent as I sat down, “That would just be another way of stealing.”
The dragon hesitated and then laid down, “You could give it to me.”
I grinned as I fished in my bag and came up with the pouch of gold coins. I held the pouch up, “If I give my gold to you what will I use?”
The dragon tilted its head again as if thinking and then it turns its huge head towards the black darkness at the back of the cave, “I will trade you as much as you can carry from my pile of discards.”
I looked into the darkness, “Discards?”
The dragon seemed to growl or grumble and the whole cave lit up. The floor of the cave was sandy with fine white sand that sparkled. I looked around at the sparkling walls with thick vanes of gold running through them, “Very nice dragon, I think it is missing something though.”
The dragon’s head moved closer as it growled, “And what would that be?”
I looked from the huge pile of gold to the dragon, “A bed.”
The dragon snorted and small bursts of flame came out of its nose, “I sleep on the floor human.”
I looked at the gold pile, “You could melt the gold into bricks to make a bed. I thought dragons liked feeling gold against their skin?”
The dragon looked away from me and at the pile of gold. It was almost thoughtful as it murmured, “Gold bricks.”
I looked around the cave again as I casually dropped the pouch of gold on top of my bag, “You wouldn’t have some water in here would you?”
The dragon turned to look at me and then looked in another direction, “In the corner.”
I fished around in my pack for a metal camping cup. I walked towards the dark corner and the light seemed to follow me and light the way. There was a small pool that had a large trickle of water running down the far wall. The water was very cold and almost seemed sweet. When I came back to the dragon, it was curled up by my bag and pack, “Tell me human, how would you make bricks of gold?”
I smiled as I put the cup away and sat, “Well, you would have to make a mold. You start with clay and bake a shape of a brick and go from there. Ideally, you want to create a metal mold for something like gold bricks. Once you have the mold, you melt the gold and pour it into the mold. Let it cool, open it and take the brick out.”
The dragon’s eyes were half lidded, “And could you make a mold?”
I rubbed my chin as I thought about how to make it, “I would need clay and some type of pot metal. I would also need to build a forge to bake the clay.”
The dragon looked at me and stood up, “Stay here.”
I shrugged, “Where would I go?”
The dragon turned and walked out. I looked around and stood to walk towards the pile of glittering silver piled against the back wall. It was easily three times the size of the huge pile of gold. There were chests of silver coins and even silver bar scattered around. There was also other stuff, jewelry and shining weapons, chain mail and shields. There was so much stuff it was hard to grasp. I found a plain looking dagger on the edge and picked it up.
Pulling it out of its sheath I saw the wavy lines of high quality steel. It reminded me of a Japanese sword I had seen once. I put it back in the sheath, tucked it through my belt and turned to walk around. I found a nice flat spot not to far from the pool of water that would be a good place to build a small forge. I didn’t find many loose rocks and had to go farther away to find them.
I had just finished the back and sides and was looking for a larger, flatter rock for the top when the dragon returned. It was funny to watch it walk in with a clump of clay in one huge clawed hand. The dragon dropped the clay and looked at what I was doing. It walked to the wall closest and using one claw, started cutting large square bricks of solid rock. I walked closer and realized what it was doing and started carrying them back the flat spot, “I need one that is thinner for the top.”
Before I knew it I was looking at a large stone forge, “Now I just need a heat source.”
The dragon snorted and little flames shot out of its nose. I grinned, “One that will last for a few hours.”
The dragon seemed to sigh, “Show me where.”
I pointed at the forge and the dragon looked at it for a second and then carefully took a deep breath. He breathed out in a long seemingly careful manner. The flame that came out of his mouth was different than any of the other times I had seen it. It was a steady stream of bluish green flame that seemed to wrap around the stone forge.
The stones quickly started turning red. When the dragon stopped, it growled and grumbled. The forge stayed hot and I turned to the clay. It didn’t take long for me to form a brick. It was shaped like a paving stone I had once seen, only shallower, maybe an inch and a half thick. I put it in the forge and turned back to the clay.
The dragon had moved away and gone into another room of the cave. I made a thick tray of solid clay, planning everything as I went. After a couple of hours, I pulled the clay brick out with the sleeve of my shirt and set it aside to cool. I was thinking about getting out something to eat when the dragon returned. Besides a plow and several other large pieces of metal, it carried a charred hunch of something I thought might be a deer.
I used one of my knives to cut a large piece off when it dropped the meat in front of me. It was a little well done, but anyone that has spent time in a jungle… Let’s just say I ate. When I was done, I checked the brick and then started to make a tray like mold with the brick. It held a total of twenty bricks and it didn’t take me long to finish.
I was able to barely fit the pieces into the forge before I turned to the dragon, “I’ll need an iron pot for the gold.”
It nodded and left, a few minutes later it was back carrying what looked like a small boulder. It lay down and seemed to ignore me while using one of its claws to carve. I walked to the pile of gold and looked at it for a moment before kneeling and opening a small carved chest. It looked really old and only held a bunch of gold coins, I dumped them out and sat down.
I drew the dagger I had found and reached out to pick up what looked like a gold necklace. I noticed the dragon watching as I used the tip of the dagger to pry the large gems out of the soft gold and drop them into the box. When I was finished I tossed it aside and picked up another, I finally stopped and went to check the mold. I ended up pulling it out with a corner of my shirt. I left it to cool and stretched, “when it cools we need to find a way to melt the pot metal.”
The dragon seemed amused, “Leave it to me human.”
I shook my head, “Call me Sam.”
The dragon was a long time in responding, “Names can be a powerful thing human.”
I shrugged, “Dragon I’m old, humor me.”
The dragon tilted its head and finally nodded. I went back to prying gems out of gold and lost track of time. I finally looked up and saw the dragon watching me. He looked kind of bemused and turned to look at the mold. I set everything aside and went to check it. It seemed cool enough and I put the pieces together.
I looked at the dragon as I carefully stood them on their sides. “Now we need the molten pot metal.”
The dragon shifted and reached out to hold some of the metal in its hand. It leaned close and breathed slowly in its clawed hand and I watch a clear flame envelope the metal. The metal sagged and then just seemed to glow white before melting. The dragon tilted its hand and carefully poured the molten metal into one of the molds.
It repeated the process a second time for the second mold and then sat back. I checked and carefully started tapping the mold, “What are you doing hu… Sam?”
I glanced at him, “By tapping the sides any air bubbles or pockets break lose and go to the top.”
The dragon nodded and looked at the mold as I finished. I moved to my stuff and got my cup. After getting water and eating more meat I lay back against my pack and closed my eyes, “Wake me in a few hours.”
I heard the dragon snort and murmur something about crazy old humans. I woke in dim light and turned my head to see the forge still glowing, “George would love to know how you do that.”
I sat up and realized I felt different, almost like I had when I was young. I took my cup to the pool of water and drank my fill before going to check the molds. It still felt hot so I left it alone, I looked around but the dragon was gone. I got one of my meals out and made something to eat before going back to the pile of gold to start removing gems again.
It was a couple of hours before the dragon returned. It looked at me as it walked in carrying what looked like a canvas pack. It set the pack down by the forge, “There should be a thick iron pot in there.”
I grinned, “And here I was thinking of using one of those stupid helmets.”
The dragon sputtered and then roared, there were flames bursting out its mouth, shooting fifty feet to splash across the roof. I looked at the roof to see it change color and a few drops of gold fell. I shook my head as the dragon coughed and growled. Finally it looked at me, “You are a strange man, Sam.”
I smiled and moved to check the molds. They were still warm but I broke them anyway. I dug into the pack the dragon had brought and found the iron pot. I spent a few minutes checking it before going to the pile of gold and filling it. I brought it back to the forge and pushed it in. I went to the discard pile and started looking around.
I found a pair of studded leather gloves sticking out of a suit of armor and took them back to the forge. I checked the pot every few minutes and put the molds together. I picked up some more loose gold and dropped it in the pot, it took almost a full hour for the gold to melt. I brought a small pile of gold over by the forge and the dragon moved closer. He lay down and curled up a dozen feet away and watched me through lidded eyes.
I finally pulled the pot out and carefully poured the gold into the mold. I filled the pot with gold again and put it back in the forge before taking a couple of minutes to tap the sides of the mold. I brought more gold back to the pile and went back to removing gems. When the mold had cooled enough, I opened it and spilled the bricks onto the sand.
I left them and closed the mold back up. When the pot of gold in the forge was melted and I filled the mold again. The next time I dumped the gold bricks out and refilled the mold, I carried the cooler bricks to the area the dragon gestured to and I started leveling it. I placed the bricks like I had seen pavers do once.
It took me over a week to finish. The dragon kept me fed and let me sleep when I needed it. We didn’t really talk a lot, even when I absently dumped my coins in the pot to be melted, somehow the dragon just felt like a friend. I did talk to the dragon and explained about games like poker and dominos.
The dragon was intrigued with the idea of dominos. The bed of gold was huge, just over a hundred feet long and almost as wide. It was three bricks deep and the last night the dragon moved onto it carefully and lay down with a big sigh. It rested its head and looked at me with heavily lidded eyes, “Thank you Sam.”
I smiled and for the first time since I had been here, I stripped and washed my body completely. I changed into a fresh set of clothes and replaced my weapons. I had checked the discards several times during the week and went to it. I had the canvas pack and emptied it before filling it with silver coins. The dragon had pointed out several other things in the pile, mostly gem encrusted weapons.
When the pack was full, I grunted as I lifted it to my shoulder and carried it to my bag and set it down. The dragon and I looked at each other and I smiled, “I’ll miss you lizard.”
He snorted, “Humans are supposed to fear me.”
I shrugged, “Most fear or dislike old men too.”
He grinned, “That’s because they are crazy.”
I laughed and looked at my pack and the bag. The dragon shifted slightly, “Wait until morning. On the west side of the mountain is a large meadow. That’s where the knights and other idiots camp and leave their gear and horses. You should be able to catch them without to much trouble.”
The dragon was silent as I settled back against my bag, “Take the small chest of gems Sam.”
The light had dimmed but I could see the dragon’s eyes watching me, “Are you sure?”
The dragon snorted, “To me they are just crystals. Take them.”
I relaxed and closed my eyes, the dragon had been amazed the first time I had laid down and just went to sleep. I had spent a couple of hours explaining to it, that the military had taught me to sleep whenever the chance offered. I woke to the sound of the dragon snoring and had to smile. I quietly gathered everything and grunted as it settled on my shoulders.
I walked out and for the first time since I had got here, I saw the outside. I looked up into the dawn sky to see two moons, one on each horizon. I took a deep breath of fresh air and started looking for a way down. I could see the meadow the dragon had described and headed in that direction. It wasn’t that easy and I was forced to detour several times before I reached the bottom.
The forest at the base of the mountain was mostly free of brush and I could see a lot of signs of old fires. I headed towards the meadow and the neighing of horses. As I came out into the meadow I saw a dozen horses moving back and forth between me and the dragon, which was several hundred feet away. I dropped my stuff and looked around to see several old tents and camp sites.
There was a pile of rope and harness by the closest camp and I moved towards it. I had ridden on a horse only two times in my life and these looked huge. I sorted through the pile of rope and other equipment before pulling out a couple of ropes. One I tied to a couple of trees thirty feet apart at the very edge of the meadow. I grabbed a handful of grass and started towards the horses slowly.
The horses seemed more then willing to come to me and I was able to catch the first one. I tied it to the other rope and went after the next horse, it took me a couple of hours to catch the rest of the horses and tie them up. I had noticed a large pile of silver and weapons by one of the tents and ignored it. When I was finally done, I walked out to the dragon. He grinned, “I thought about eating one of them but changed my mind.”
I grinned back at him, “And the pile of discards?”
The dragon’s shoulders seemed to shrug, “I thought that since you helped me with my gold, you might be able to use some of it.”
It almost seemed like the dragon was embarrassed. I shrugged, “I’m sure I can find a use for it.”
The dragon seemed to relax and I looked back at all the camps, “I guess I’ll stay here tonight and get a fresh start in the morning. Which direction do you think I should try?”
The dragon tilted its head, “Perhaps west. You should do well there.”
The dragon seemed to sigh, “good bye my friend.”
I watched it turn and then leap into the air. Its huge wings kicked up a strong wind and the horses screamed. Luckily they didn’t break free and I went back to them. I used more long rope to let them graze and eat some of the long grass when they had calmed down. I started checking the camps and old tents. The tents were the kind with no floor and most were old with mold on them.
I spent my time emptying packs and filling them with some of the discards, mostly silver. I found a lot of stuff I thought would be useful as trade items or weapons. Like a beautiful longbow and more arrows than I could use in a month. I sorted everything and made packs for each of the horses except one.
After a careful search and some much needed attention, I had a saddle I thought I could use. Of course I had to do a little tinkering to make it what I remember a western saddle should be. I had never liked the thought of making a horse wear a bit and instead I found what I remembered as a hackamore.
I made camp and cooked a meal before deciding on a tent to take. I used another for a floor and set about making it happen. When I was done I folded it up and packed it away. My bag and pack joined the tent in the pack for the last horse. As it started getting dark I laid back and stared up at the bright sky over me. I didn’t know if this was some dream from striking my head or the effects of Henry’s test.
I also thought about the way I felt. I felt strong and seemed to have as much energy as I did when I was much younger, like when I was twenty. The only thing I could think of was the two IV’s Jasper had put into me in the hospital. He had said they were his proto types and I had no idea of their life span or what they were doing to my body, I finally relaxed and fell asleep.
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