*Wordcount: 445 words.
Inside a large cave in the side of a huge mountain lie trinkets and treasures, gleaming gold and glowing gems. These treasures are guarded, as most treasures are, by something powerful. Ancient, and wise, the guardian barely fits in the cave. It feels no discomfort, however. In fact, it doesn’t feel much at all.
The growing puddle of crimson below the scaled beast displays the fatal nature of its injuries. If that wasn’t enough, the stump of a neck and the missing head nail the point home.
Some adventurer, most likely hopped up on hope and nobility, had made his way up here to fight the fearsome beast, and had evidently succeeded.
Perhaps he had also pilfered some of the treasure, but the horde was great enough for it to make little difference.
He had been through recently, shown by the still-dripping blood, but had probably grabbed his prize and made his way back down the mountain as quickly as he could.
Killing a dragon was boast-worthy, indeed.
Of course, had the dragon been alert when he had arrived he would be quite dead.
Perhaps the great dragon was in one of their famous slumbers, drawing together its strength and might, to awaken a few years later, more powerful than ever and wise beyond the ken of humans.
Perhaps the dragon had perished thanks to illness, a rare occurrence in dragons but not unheard of.
Some might suggest old age, but that would be quite a misinformed guess. As most know, dragons cannot die of old age thanks to their ancient magics or great power or… Well, we aren’t quite sure.
Regardless, the powerful dragon lies dead.
And, with this, the treasure is unguarded.
The adventurer might come back with some friends and a cart, and take what they can. Of course, they can’t act fast enough to stop the goblins pillaging what they can.
The first scouts are breaking over the peaks as I speak.
Within weeks, the cave is empty. The numerous treasures taken by those who got there fast enough, or taken from those who were too weak to protect their share. There were a few new bloodstains added to the cave, that’s for sure.
The dragon, well, the dragon was taken too. Dragon hide and bones fetch handsome coin, and the organs can be harvested to make ineffectual remedies.
Whatever they don’t need can be cast away.
At the back of the cave lies a single gold coin, covered in dirt and dust.
It remains as the only legacy of the dragon that once lived here, its empire of gold and treasure reduced to nothing.
Nothing but a grimy, forgotten coin.