“Peel me a watermelon, Jenks,” I called to my servant.
“Peel it yourself, Your Monstrousness, Madame Lea,” the pixie sneered back at me.
With that attitude, he should have been a gnome. I threw a book at him, the newest in a cozy mystery series I had just finished reading. Jenks flitted up into the cobwebs at the top of the cave. I sent a dribble of flame after him. Any more and I risked the danger of setting fire to one of the stacks of books piled around me.
My aim was off. I sent five spiders scuttling to safety but missed my target.
“Hey, send some more fire this way, Your Volatileness. Helps clean up a bit,” Jenks taunted me.
“House cleaning is your job.”
“If you’d hire some proper house fairies rather than enslaving an innocent pixie...” He darted into a corner behind the stack of Egyptology tomes.
“You know I can’t afford house fairies.” Jenks had come to me as part of a trade. I scared a pack of bandits away from a farmer’s livestock in return for some books. Jenks had been ensorcelled inside a delectable volume on wheat hybrids (I think the wizard figured no one would ever open the book and discover the bad-tempered brat). I broke the spell in return for services. Some day I’ll write a book about that adventure. Some day when I’ve finished my to-be-read-pile, or got bored with re-reading my favorites.
“If you’d get off your fat arse and go hunt up some treasure like a proper dragon...” Jenks ducked as I threw a rotten tomato at him. It was sitting right where I’d left it when I started reading the mystery series—goodness, can that have been two weeks ago? How time flies.
I lumbered off the lounge, displacing the pile of old romances that propped up the broken leg. A fog of dust engulfed me as the books tumbled. I was mad enough to spit fire, but had to settle for loosing a stream of ancient curses—gleaned from one of the Egyptology tomes.
“Where are you, you miserable pixie?” I screamed as I batted my forepaws through the thick air, trying to clear it before I sneezed.
Too late. “Achooooooooo!” Smoke and fire shot upward as I turned my muzzle away from the precious books.
“Now look what you’ve done!” Jenks screamed at me as he beat at a flamelet on a hardcover dust jacket with his hands. Unfortunately, his flapping wings only fanned the embers into real fire.
“No great loss.” I stomped upon the wildfire, half hoping I’d flatten Jenks in the process. “It’s only a duplicate copy of Astarte, Love Goddess To Unlovable Thieves, true porn masquerading as romantic erotica, probably the worst book ever written.”
“My favorite,” Jenks protested as he squeezed between my toes.
Drat! I missed the little gnat.
He examined a bent wing. The fire had singed the tip, and my talons had made a rent down the middle, a least two thirds it’s rainbow length.
“I claim the other copy as recompense for damages, Your Addicted-to-Justice-ness” Jenks moaned.
“Fine, and clear out some of this other crap while you’re at it.” I kicked a pig skeleton into the deep recesses of the cave. It bounced back from the pile of refuse, and shattered upon impact. I pulled a splinter free of the carcass and picked my teeth.
“You really should do something about the mess, Your Slobbishnes,” Jenks said, shaking his head.
He rummaged through a pile of rags to unearth a medicine bag from the last wizard who had tried to steal treasure from me. When the spell-caster had discovered nothing but books, I couldn’t allow him to leave. After all, my fierce reputation was all that gave me any privacy for reading.
The land was thick with knights and other adventurers; younger sons who couldn’t inherit the family homestead and had to make their own way in the world. I guess they hoped to pilfer a few diamonds and such to purchase their own land or make them more attractive to an heiress.
To tell you the truth, if I had a spare diamond or two, I’d sell it and buy more books. That’s the only use for treasure, in my not-so-humble opinion. My fractiously feuding family doesn’t agree with me, on much of anything. Especially the issue of books. Boils and pustules, what can I do with them?
They believe the purpose of a dragon’s life is to amass treasure and then defend it against thieving humans. Now if we could just teach more of those humans to read and to treasure books... But that’s another matter.
My family, with their hoards of shiny treasures can afford house fairies to keep everything clean and polished and properly accounted for in thick ledgers.
A clean cave is a sign of a sick mind. Or a sign of a dragon with nothing better to do with her time.
I’d rather spend my time reading.
Whenever family obligations require we meet, I always go to their places. I’d never invited a single one -- [End of Preview.]