by Thott

The ancient dragon chuckles, deep resonant echoes reflecting off the polished walls of his lair.  Around him his guards adopt an even stiffer stance of attention, barely perceptible to a mortal, but easily seen by the dragon's jeweled eye.

He turns his attention back to counting his hoard.  "Three" he thinks, the thought flowing inside his mind, mentally echoing like his earlier chuckle.  "Four" he whispers, the number floating on the wind, later causing a hurricane to crash against the coast of Odus.  "Five" he says with finality, the word bright with fire, charring rock that silently screams for release.

Five platinum pieces, an immense sum for a dragon.  He is quite proud of his hoard, and guards it jealously.  As he contemplates counting his slightly larger pile of gold pieces, he hears a sound.  An intruder!

Out into the hall he and his guards go, where they see but a single intruder.  A human, and a foolish one at that.  As they approach, confident of victory, the intruder...dies.  The ancient beast ponders eating him anyway, but after reflection decides that food truly loses its flavor when cooked after death.  Only freshly charred food, with a heart still beating to infuse the black flesh with salty blood, is worthwhile.  His feasting will have to be delayed.  Plus this one died for no apparent reason - it could be diseased.

He turns back to his lair, his mind returning to the shiny prospect of counting gold.  As he approaches the smooth cavity his lounging has worn into the rock from centuries of small adjustments, he again hears a noise...the intruder!  It is not dead after all!  He, an ancient dragon of immense experience and wisdom, fooled by a mere human!  Anger boils in his veins, as he vows to destroy the intruder this time, with no chance of doubt.  As he builds up steam to destroy the fakir, once again, the intruder falls down dead.  Despite this having just happened mere seconds ago...the dragon is again fooled.  And again.  And again.  And again.

Eventually, after dozens of apparent deaths by the same intruder, the dragon and his guards become separated.  Now the dragon is too far from his guards to hear their battle cries.  The lone guards are taken to a larger, hidden group, where they are disposed of.  The dragon notices his guards are missing, yet thinks nothing of it.  Again he hears a noise, and he, with his smaller force of guards, heads out to investigate.  The same intruder!  Die intrude...oh, he is already dead.  Against all logic, the dragon is again satisfied, and heads back to his lair.  Having seen the same intruder "die" more times than he has coins to count, the dragon still fails to understand the deception.

Now the dragon is all alone.  Without his guards, the dragon is easily defeated by the large force of deceptive intruders.  His flesh is cooked into hearty dragon steaks, and his hoard stolen without remorse.

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