The Fae and the Wyrm
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You find yourself awakening at a long desk. Trying to blink away the dredges of sleep, the area surrounding yourself begins to become clearer.

You’re pretty sure the desk you claimed for your manuscripts and research was not this high up. It’s hard to know why or how, but it just felt like you were at a higher position than when sleep took hold originally.

The floor was a different type of wood, solid, not made with floorboards. Curious.

That is when you look off into the distance. Towering above you, the shelves were full of books. Not especially strange in the Library, but these books were gargantuan. Looking up, the shelves extend so far that it looks like they’re twisting and turning. Maybe they are.

Then it clicks. This wood you stand upon, it must be a table, made to match the long tables near the Main Hall, but scaled up so much that your eyes can’t make out the end, only for it to fade into an obscure fog of vision.

It would be impossible to reach the shelves with your skillset, but you notice one book left on the table off in the distance. You could continue your research, but that would be the boring option

The book, you find, has a strange protrusion at the base of the book’s binding. A small slot, about the size of a medium sized book. Sure enough, once you peek into the slot, a book perfect for your size presents itself. Blank cover, with red-orange coloring, embossed with the pattern of scales.

You begin to do what one does in the Library.

Read.

Fae, the trickster, had been away from their cavern for a moon’s age. They loved how the water drip, drip, dripped from the stalactites and how their talons tap, tap, tapped on the cold, stone floor.

They had just touched down into the dew-touched grass, when Fae heard an unfamiliar sound. At least a sound that shouldn't be coming from the cave.

The sound… of snoring.

Tip-toeing their way between the twists and turns of the entrance to the cave, leaping to and fro over cracks large enough to catch the diminutive Fae. They turned the final corner, and came to face a surprise in the center of the main cave.

A great glittering hoard, much larger than anything Fae had gathered in their time. Upon it, sat a glittering dragon, scales obviously well preened, no legs, and a beautiful frill around his snoring face.

"Wyrm," sneered Fae, "I'll teach you to take my lair."

At this, Fae's entire demeanor shifted. They pranced and hopped over to Wyrm's snout, and tap-tappity-tapped it with their claw.

With a start, Wyrm raised his head and spoke in a slithering voice, "Oh. Fae. Didn't expect to see you here. In my cave."

"I had no idea this cave was yours! To tell the truth, I lived here a bit ago. Didn't you notice my hoard?" Fae turned on their absolute best puppy-dog eyes, but Wyrm's permanently droopy eyes seemed to be immune.

"That little pile of gold? I thought it was leftover from some human's pockets. Well, finders-keepers and all that. You understand."

Fae bit their tongue. Stealing their gold was one thing, but being compared to a human was certainly worse. They couldn't even tell if Wyrm meant it as an insult or not; no one could ever tell with him.

Through gritted teeth, they said, "Course I understand. Y'know, it'd really help me out if I could get just one gold piece from you. Not having a hoard to your name is tough enough, but having absolutely nothing? Gosh I don't even want to imagine that. You'll hardly notice it's gone!"

Wyrm looked down at the tiny dragon. Normally, he would scoff at such a ridiculous request, but it looked so sad, and small. Wyrm decided it would be worth it to give them a single coin just to make them leave.

"Fine. Take a coin and leave." Fae snatched up the treasure and fled before Wyrm would change his mind.

This trick was less about Fae acquiring the coin, and more about what they could do with it. Fae travelled to every gathering spot they could think of, telling everyone that Wyrm was giving out treasure, showing the coin as proof. Sure enough, Amphithere, who had an eye for every piece of known hoards confirmed it, the coin had come from Wyrm.

Fae stepped into the shadows, content to watch what would soon occur.

The first to arrive at the cavern was a group of Wyverns. Laughing like a starving pack of hyenas, the Wyverns clambered about the chamber, threatening Wyrm for more gold. Wyrm initially refused, indignant at more dragons asking for handouts, but once the Wyverns made it clear he was outnumbered, they took as much as they could carry from a dumbfounded Wyrm.

The second to come was Hydra. Hydra's stomps felt like thunder, and its necks snapping about almost made sound, an aura unique to Hydra preceded it. Wyrm feared Hydra, as did most, so he put up much less of a fight than before. Hydra laughed and taunted Wyrm, hoping for a fight, but all Hydra came away with was half of the hoard and the image of a terrified Wyrm.

As droves of dragons came demanding more money, Wyrm found it impossible to refuse. If he tried, the dragon in question would threaten to tell the others, ensuring the rest of his hoard would be taken. Slowly but surely, Wyrm's treasure, his beautiful hoard, dwindled. For some time all Wyrm did was rush to collect more gold, only for it to be taken just as quickly. Torch a town, transport gold back to lair, wait for a dragon to take. Torch, Transport, Take, Torch, Transport, Take, TorchTransportTaketorchtransporttake…

Until the final day. Wyrm gave up, waiting for whoever to arrive and discover there was nothing left. Claws, unfamiliar claws, tap, tap, tapped on the cold stone floor as he looked down towards the ground, defeated.

Something drip, drip, dripped. But it wasn't the stalactites.

"I don't have any more gold," said Wyrm, dejected, to an uncaring ear.

All that responded was a raspy laugh. Wyrm's breathing quickened, his throat suddenly dry, snapped his head up to see him, Old Croak. Some call him the Grim Reaper, but dragons know his true name. Meat barely holds on to his bones, his beak is sharpened to a point, and oil sloughs off his few remaining feathers.

"Fortunately, that's not what I want."

All the next dragon that visited the cave found was a single, oily feather and a very happy Fae.

Never give away anything, or eventually you'll have nothing left to give but yourself

- Tallowsear, the Fabler

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