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The Wealth of Dragons

Sean Vivier--pronounced like Vivian, but with an r--is a web app developer in real life. When pandemics aren't raging, he moonlights as a ballroom dance instructor. He lives in a house in central Connecticut that he likes to call The Vivier Arms. Learn more at seanvivier.com.

From where he hid behind the boulder, Sir Karl already saw the dragon in slumber. He imagined such vast wealth beneath that bulk. And soon he'd liberate it from the dragon's greed.
He rose, sword at ready, and he crept closer to the recumbent beast. He halted, though, as soon as he saw what lay below the fell creature. Only scrolls lay there, not a jewel or coin or gold bar to be found. Not a single treasure. He gaped, and something small and offended escaped his clutched throat.
The dragon stirred at even that small a sound. One single eye opened. It drew a great breath into its bellows of a chest and Sir Karl readied his shield.
"I must ask you to leave my property." It sounded bored.
Karl reddened. He felt the offense that reality had not conformed to his expectations. "I am Sir Karl, wyrm, and I have come to claim the wealth you hoard from the world!" He settled from foot to foot. "Where... is your hoard?"
"Well, not here." Both eyes opened and peered at him, as someone too much the fool to see the obvious. "I invested it."
"You..." Karl tilted his head. "Invested it."
"Yes. That is the best use of my wealth. To beget more wealth for myself and others." He rose in a slow and sinuous manner, until he revealed the writing of the scrolls beneath him, the better to read them. "I made a loan to the king, for one, to build a road to his market. A number of shares in joint stock companies, such as a group of traders and a fleet of fishing boats. Several accounts with bankers, who do much the same in turn."
"What? No." Karl refused to believe it. This must be some dragon trickery. "You hoard your wealth, so that others can't have it."
The dragon studied him, and Karl hated how much he seemed to understand in those ancient eyes. "I see. You wanted to take the wealth for yourself."
Karl felt the heat grow. Strange, since the dragon had yet to breathe any fire. "No. I wanted to make sure to place it in the hands of everyone."
"So that you'd have more, without the need to contribute nor to create more wealth."
Karl tightened and flexed his grip around his hilt. He didn't know why the words bit so deep inside him, why they made him want to slay the dragon even without the reward.
The dragon studied him a moment longer. "What might you do with such treasure, I wonder."
Karl raised a defiant chin. "I'd build a great tower, the better to defend the land from all enemies, to see them from afar and to hold them."
That was the true reason to have a fine tower, he reminded himself yet again. It had always been a selfless purpose. Always.
The dragon nodded. "I cannot hand you that kind of treasure. You cannot take it from me." Karl seethed at the rebuke, and the dragon smiled. "I can, however, give you a loan."
Karl struggled. He had come to take his wealth at the end of the sword, to vanquish a being that impoverished the land by holding all its riches. Now he found a being that claimed to make possible the kingsroad and commerce.
It can't be true, as much as he saw it before him. He didn't know what to think. He didn't know how to act.
He only knew he wanted that tower.
Karl lowered his sword. "What are the loan's terms?"
The End
This story was first published on Monday, April 5th, 2021

Author Comments

When your father is an accountant and you're obsessed with fantasy, this is the kind of thing that forms in your brain.

- Sean Vivier
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