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How Dragons Get Their Gold

David Sklar grew up in Michigan, where the Michipeshu nibbled his toes when Lake Superior was feeling frisky. His published works include the anthology Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic, coedited with 2015 Mythopoeic Award winner Sarah Avery (Tales from Rugosa Coven), as well as fiction and poetry in Strange Horizions, Ladybug, Nightmare Magazine, and other places. David lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two barbarians, and a secondhand familiar. Over his life so far, he has eaten kangaroo meat, posed naked for a Tarot deck, pitched a sitcom to a major network, and had his shoelace bitten in half by a rabbit.

For more about David and his work, please visit davidwriting.com.

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."
"You think I will believe," the human demanded, "that wealth like this would come from scribes and sages?" He charged in, waving that pointy thing that humans always seem to carry when they annoy dragons.
"Please don't make me do this," Mellitraxa said, but the human kept on waving the pointy steel. So she whacked it from his hand with her tail, and then she ate him.
Even without the pointy thing, he was faster than she expected, and once she had swallowed him, chitin and all, one tooth remained stuck through the flimsy shield that he'd thought would protect him. She reached a talon in her mouth to pull it out, and was further annoyed when the tooth came out with the shield.
Mellitraxa breathed a deep and smoky sigh, then lifted up her soapstone pillow. She put the tooth underneath the pillow and lay back down, content at least that in the morning the tiny humans with their tiny wings would take the tooth to build their ivory home, and leave in its place another coin for her bed.
She snuggled into the gold and wriggled in to scratch an itchy place beneath her scales.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Author Comments

The Tooth Fairy has had some misadventures in my house. Like one time, the fairy crawled around on the floor, looking to find the tooth that had fallen out of the pocket in the handcrafted tooth pillow before putting the coin in that same pocket for my daughter. When my daughter awoke, she was distraught that the tooth fairy had missed her, until I noticed the coin on the floor and pointed out where it had fallen. When she looked under the bed, she was delighted with the idea that the Tooth Fairy had found her tooth there and left the coin in the same place.

This story was inspired one time when my daughter lost her tooth while on vacation, and I had to assure her that the Tooth Fairy could find her at Grandma's house, although the fairies in Michigan might use different coins.

- David Sklar
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