Just a bit of short fiction for a change in pace.
The crescent moon rode high in the sky as Lukas approached the old cemetery. He softly padded through the grass, carrying a shovel over his left shoulder. He avoided the stone path, not wanting to make the slightest sound. One of his sources told him that this graveyard still had a caretaker on duty at night. All accounts indicated that the man who filled the job was old and probably would never see or hear the grave robber. But Lukas wanted to take no chances.
Once he made his way past the first row of tombstones, Lukas began to wave among the markers, bending near the more worn ones to read them. He had compiled a list of names of wealthy people who had been buried here between two and three centuries ago. He knew that graves dug for members of those family at that time held the most promise for obtainable booty.
After ten minutes, the grave robber smiled at the tombstone he had just read. It bore the name Anselm, a name that was high on his list. He took a step back, put the blade of his shovel to the ground a few feet from the headstone, and stepped on it to drive the shovel into the dirt. He then pried the shovel and dirt from the ground.
He was about to repeat this process when he heard a low, gravelly voice behind him. ?I do hope that you are digging your own grave. It will save others the trouble of doing it for you.? Lukas spun around to confront the undertaker, only to receive the shock of his life. He stood frozen, his mouth slightly ajar as he stared into the crimson eyes of a dragon.
The creature?s scales were black with a slight sheen. The dragon?s hide seemed to blend into the blackness of night, only betrayed by the moonlight glinting off it. After a few seconds of shock, the wyrm spoke again, ?Well? What do you have to say for yourself??
At that, Lukas took several scurrying steps backwards, falling over the tombstone in the process. Both he and his shovel fell to the ground, each making a soft thudding sound. ?Be careful, you fool!? the dragon hissed. ?You almost broke the oldest marker in this cemetery.?
Lukas finally found his voice, though it was strained and tenuous. ?W-what are you??
?I should think that is obvious.?
?What do you want??
?At the moment, I want to know why you?re seeking to disturb my treasures.?
?Your treasures?? Lukas asked. His brain wheeled in fright and confusion.?
?Yes, my treasures. This graveyard is their home. Not all dragons hoard their treasures in caves, no matter what the story books say.?
?I?see?Are you going to kill me, now??
?The thought has crossed my mind. I don?t take kindly to grave robbers.?
The dragon sniffed derisively. Lukas watched as a small stream of smoke escaped each nostril. ?I don?t see why I shouldn?t. You were trespassing. You invaded my home. An you were about to disturb my treasures.?
?I didn?t know it was your home!?
?I don?t see why that should matter. You were still someplace you do not belong attempting to take something you have no right to.?
?You?re sorry you were caught. And you?re sorry that the consequences of being caught may be dire. But you?re not sorry for doing wrong.?
?Please! I beg you!? Lukas cried, more terrified.
The beast sighed. ?Oh, very well. I will spare you this time. But do not return, or I shall devour you without a second thought!?
?Yes! Yes! I promise I will never return! I?ll never rob another grave!?
The dragon snorted. ?I should hope not! Now be gone!?
Lukas leaped up and ran towards his home, never looking back.
Another figure stepped from the shadows as the grave robber fled. The dragon spoke, not turning to greet this new presence. ?And how long have you been watching.?
?I arrived just in time to hear you scold the young man for tripping over the tombstone. By the way, you surely realize that it?s not the oldest tombstone here.?
?Of course I know! But for some reason, that statement always puts them more on edge.?
?Ah, then the dramatics of terror outweigh accuracy.?
?Only when it comes to protecting my treasures.?
?You realize he?ll tell everyone in town about meeting you, right?? The old man asked after a moment?s pause.
?And you realize that some will come out here some night to check it out for themselves??
?They usually do.?
?I didn?t think you liked nosy people any more than you liked grave robbers.?
?I don?t. But at least they?re less of a disturbance. Besides, I felt I needed to make my point as strongly as possible with this one.?
?Fair enough.? The caretaker paused. ?Of course, you also realize that he probably now thinks there?s even more gold and jewelry here than he had first imagined, right??
?So you figure he assumed I consider such trinkets my treasures??
?Well, that would be in line with the story books.?
The dragon sniffed at that. ?You humans are so foolish. Well, if he thinks such nonsense, then so be it.?
The caretaker chuckled. ?Yes, I suppose so. But it?s late and I?m tired. So I?ll leave you to your horde of souls and the collective wisdom entombed here.?
?Very well, old friend. Good night.?
?Good night to you, as well.? With that, the old man began the walk to his home on the far side of the cemetery. The dragon watched him for a few moments before fading away.