The Fool’s Fiddle

Reading Time: 18 minutes

“Look, it’s not that big a deal,” says Guy, stretching his arms out to the side in a show of false contrition. His right leg slips back in a courtly bow.

The chair is big. Like castle big. He has to look up to see his audience.

“But you are here.”

“Yeah,” Guy says, “but it isn’t like that. You want the story you have to stop interrupting. It is what it is. Got me?”

“Yes. I have you. That is the point of all of this, is it not? I. Have. You.”

“Tomato tom-mah-to,” Guy smiles. Not just a smile – The Smile. Teeth sparkle, eyes shine, an unruly breeze blows his bangs away from his face, and somewhere off in the night a bodice unlaces itself. “Am I telling the story, or am I telling the story?”

“Yes, you are telling the story.”

(Image by Marie Ginga via Adobe Firefly)

“Good. So let me tell it,” Guy says and begins to pace. “It all begins a moon ago when Allen Two-Finger tried to pull a Fiddler’s Fool down at The Crooked Way.

“It goes like this. Some bum with a fiddle sits at the bar. He eats, drinks, whatever. When the tab comes he’s got no coin. Got sticky-fingered or forgot it somewhere somehow. What matters is he don’t got it. What he does got is his fiddle.”

“His fiddle?”

“Nah, his grandfather’s fiddle,” says Guy. “Passed down three generations.”



“His great-grandfather’s fiddle.”

“Look, it doesn’t matter whose fiddle it is, it don’t even matter whose fiddle he says it is,” says Guy. “That’s not his part.”


“Yeah, slow Joe in the back row, his part. He’s the setter. Sets it up. Bartender takes the fiddle as collateral and Two-Finger limps away to get money to pay his tab,” Guy pauses, looks at the chair, makes sure his points are being followed. “The moment Two-Finger is out the door, Allen Oh steps up to the bar and says, ‘Hey, let me look at that fiddle’ and the bartender he says,—”

“Allen Oh?”

“Allen Oh,” confirms Guy.

“Both of the confidence men are named Allen?”

“I’ll call’m Daisy if it helps.”

“But his name is not Daisy.”

“It ain’t Allen Oh either,” says Guy, ”that’s just what the right folk call him. So the bartender, he says, ‘Aint my fiddle.’ And Daisy says, ‘That’s a Starlinky.’ ‘A Starlinky’ the bartender says, ‘A Starlinky’ repeats Daisy.”

“Is his name Daisy or Allen Oh?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Guy says, wiping the frustration out of his eyes. “What matters is someone in that bar thinks the Fiddle’s worth a load of money. When Two-Finger comes back to pay and collect the fiddle, that someone offers him a generous amount of money for it—-”

“For his great-grandfathers fiddle?”

“The fiddle Two-Finger bought off Poor John Seconds for half a shiny copper moments before he walked into The Crooked Way. That fiddle. He butters it up. Sob story. My grandfather’s fiddle. Cry cry. Tears tears.” Guy wipes a pretend tear from his cheek.


“Great-grandfather’s fiddle, sure,” says Guy. “And Two Finger walks out The Crooked Way with ten solid gold clenched ‘tween thumb and pointer. And someone just paid ten solid for a half shiny fiddle.”

“That is not very honest.”

“Neither is offering ten gold for a Starlinky,” Guy runs his fingers through his hair. “That’s the short con, it only works on folk trying to cheat other folk.”

“And what do the two Allens and a Starlinky have to do with you being here?” The room shifts with the last. Temperature rises. Coins fall off the pile of gold beyond the chair and bounce across the floor, rolling just past Guy’s feet.

“Nothing,” Guy says, “they got nothin’ to do with it. But the guy who bought the fiddle does. He’s connected, see. Royalty. Second cousin of a second cousin of someone’s mistress twice removed, you know how it is. Anyway, he learns the true value of his fiddle and is not well pleased. Decides to make an example of Two-Finger. Teach Allen a lesson he’d failed to learn eight times before – if you know what I mean. Being a crook with two fingers is hard, but no fingers?”

Guy takes a breath. Lets it all sink in deep. Timing is important.

“That’s when Shay comes to me,” Guy says.


“Yeah, Shay. Two-Finger’s sister,” Guy says.

“Why would she come to you?”

“She’s my shadow. My main squeeze. You know, my damsel in dis-dress,” Guy says it and waits for a reaction. Anything. Nothing. Tough crowd. He continues. “Shay tells me there won’t be anymore dis-dress if folk start calling ‘Two-Finger’ ‘Nub’ and I had to do something ‘bout it. So I did. I went to the guy who had a lesson to teach and made him an offer.”

“He’s the one who hired you to steal my gold?”

“Nah, no-one hired me to steal your gold, that’s just a perk,” Guy smiles, reaches behind his head and scratches his neck. Then he says it a little too casual-like, trying to slip it by, “he just wanted your head.”


The roar is deafening. Echos off distant walls, shatters piles of gold. Forces Guy to his knees, blood dripping from his nose, ears clenched between hands. The silence that follows the roar is equally profound. And in that silence a shadow lifts away from the chair, the gigantic chair, and slowly lowers down to Guy’s level. The closer it comes the more substance it gathers. Long. Vivid green. Lined with teeth. Two eyes staring right at Guy.

“He sent you to kill me?” the dragon laughs. “Something as small and stringy as you?”

“No,” Guy cowers, “he sent someone with me to kill you.”

“Which one?” the dragon asks.

“Brent. Sir Brent,” says Guy. “A game hunter of renown and —”


Sir Brent stands victorious on a battlefield. His armor gleams with splashed blood. Banners fly behind him in a stiff breeze, blocking out thousands of enemy corpses. One foot propped on the skull of a gigantic furred—-


“Don’t tell me,” the dragon interrupts. “Show me. Which one?”

Guy drags himself ten paces across the hot stone floor, avoiding shred limbs and pools of blood, to the three corpses. They lay raggedly strewn across the stone in mismatched states of whole.

“This one,” Guy points to the larger of the three – the most complete. Sir Brent’s armor was punctured in countless places, bent and twisted where it had been impaled on the dragons tail before Brent even had the chance to draw his sword. The armor did not protect Sir Brent, but it certainly held him together.

“Disappointing,” the dragon says. “Are we so forgotten in the world of men that you think we can be defeated by a single man?”

“Yeah,” Guy says. “Forgotten total, actually. You’re a story so old children don’t even believe.”

The dragon grunts, then looks at the man, “forgotten by all, it would seem, but you.”

Guy pulls himself to his feet and does not look at the other two corpses. Does not look at the gristle that is left of them. Does not look at their faces frozen in terror and pain and the accusation he alone caused their deaths.

“Give me your word to honor our deal,” Guy says, forcing his eyes to focus on the dragon. “Give me your word.”

“Yes, yes,” the dragon says, “I give you my word. If I can’t figure out how you were going to get the gold out of my vault after my untimely demise, you may go free. Unsoiled. Alive.”

“It wasn’t just for me,” says Guy.

The dragon looks at Guy and grins, “I cannot turn back time. But very well. You and your team may leave here freely and live in peace all of your days – the very little good it will do them.”

Guy nods his thanks.

“A dragon must keep its word once a bargain is made,” Guy says, “and may not lie.”

“True,” said the dragon, “now tell me your story, so I can tell you your plan, and then eat you.”

Guy takes a deep breath and begins to pace once more.

“The first step was finding you. There aint no way all the dragons could’ve been killed off, and there are enough bones around to show you did live at some point. What I needed was a scholar. A very special kind of scholar…”


Guy stands half-lit at the intersection of two tunnels. Torch held high. Knee deep in human waste. There may be more comfortable hideouts. There may be more efficient hideouts. But nothing stops unwanted visitors like a dark tunnel full of shit.

“Randal,” Guy calls. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

His voice echoes down the tunnel until it is so distant it converts to whispers calling his own name back at him. The city has miles of these tunnels. These tunnels have miles of their own tunnels underneath, and those tunnels probably have tunnels. Entire civilizations of heebie jeebies have grown and died in tunnels like these without ever knowing the light of day.

“Ridiculous,” Guy mutters, as he sloshes to the next intersection. “Mountain tops. Abandoned temples. Unpassable forests. The list is endless. But Randal has to play it like this.” Guy calls out again. Nothing, again. And moves on to the next intersection.

The next intersection is the same as the last intersection. Dark. Damp. Reeking of shit—


“I get it,” the dragon says. “It was unpleasant. Do not bore me by describing every single intersection you searched.”

“Unpleasant?” says Guy. “Unpleasant is constantly being interrupted while trying to tell a story. I had to burn my shoes – my pants. And ‘cause Two-Finger was that much closer to being called Nub, Shay started the fires before I’d even taken’em off—”

Guy stops. The dragon had climbed off its throne during Guy’s telling, and now lay sprawled out on the floor. Its head casually resting on forelegs not two sword lengths from Guy. It stares at him lazily, their eyes level.

“Get to the important part,” the dragon says, blowing a smoke ring at Guy. “I am hungry.”

“Right,” Guy stutters. “Ah. Well. Sewers. Muck. Rats. Where was I?”

“The scholar,” says the dragon.

“Got it,” says Guy. ”I needed a special kind of scholar. A mage in the guild wouldn’t look twice at a guy like me. So I needed someone unguilded. But anyone not powerful enough to enter the guild stays as deep underground as they can on account of The Sniffers.”

“The Sniffers?” asks the dragon.

“The Sniffers,” says Guy. “They hunt out the unguilded. The weak. The untrained. Steal their magic. The Sniffer gets a power bump, the unguilded gets—”

“Dead,” says the dragon.

Guy nods.

“Randal,” says Guy, “he don’t play by their rules. He’s got this special doorway…”


Guy’s last torch begins to sputter when he finds it. On the tunnel wall, just above the waterline, a door. Not just any door, The Door. Its gilded wood frame reflects the fire. Each intricate carving coming to life under the scrutiny of Guy’s eyes. He reaches to knock. The door opens first. Sunlight beams through, along with a light breeze and the sound of distant waves.

The room on the other side is comfortable. Pillows and throws line the floor. Books line the walls. And at the center of the room is a desk. A desk and Randal.

Randal is neither tall nor short. Fat nor thin. Handsome nor ugly. He is, in fact, perfectly forgettable. So much so that even the least trained of minds would know immediately they were under the power of an enchantment in his presence. Not that the knowledge helps them remember him.

“Randal,” says Guys, “long time no see.”

“A purposeful gesture, I assure you,” says Randal. “I don’t generally accept uninvited guests, Guy.”

“I wrote,” says Guy.

“I didn’t respond,” says Randal.

“Tell me about the dragons,” says Guy.

And Randal does. He tells Guy all about the dragons. Where they hide. How much gold they have. That they can’t lie or break their oath. That they love riddles. Everything.


“It was that easy?” asks the dragon.

“Easy?” asks Guy.

“Yes,” says the dragon.

“Nah,” says Guy, “you’re bored and hungry. Figured I’d keep it short. Randal took some convincing. Then – he helped.”

“After all the tunnel searching and the build up of that special door, I just thought the story of Randal would be more interesting,” says the dragon. “That is all.”

“That’s all?” says Guy. “You want me to tell you I know where his sister lives? His mother? Or, that his kid brother calls himself Nichols and runs fast cards in Market Town for sight seekers? That I know things nobody but Randal should know? That I could act upon these things in ways indecent, unpleasant, and altogether convincing? I could tell you these things, or I could get to the good part.”

“Of course,” says the dragon.

“You want more detail, I’ll give more detail,” says Guys. “It’s not like I’m dinner or nothing if I don’t. Other than studying all the time without blowing his top, Randal only gots two tricks. That door of his, he can open it up where ’n when he damn well please. And illusion. Even when you go through that door, who knows where you is.”

“He makes illusions that convincing?” asks the dragon.

“Convincing?” Guy says “He could be living in my place. Sleeping next to me all night like, and Shay or I wouldn’t know the difference. That convincing.”

“Very well then. Do get to the good part,” says the dragon. “But, first, did you learn anything else interesting from Randal?”

“Yeah,” says Guy. “Only that no one really knows how we know what we knows about dragons. Like it all just popped up some day. Like poof. Pop. Pow. Know what I mean?”

“Yes, actually,” says the dragon, smiling all to pleased with itself, “I do. Now get to the good part.”

Guy studies the dragon a moment. Nods his head while sucking his lower lip. There’s something going on here, and they both know it.

“Alright,” says Guy after a moment. “Alright alright. So, I had me my knowledge and a hedge-wizard. Got me a knight with kill’n skills. What I don’t got is someone to get us where we go’n. I needed a rogue, a trickster, someone who could loose a lock as easy as spot a trap. Only person I trust in that category, because let’s be honest, you can’t trust anybody in that category, is Raxel Woodworm.”

“Wormwood, you mean. It has medicinal properties,” says the dragon, proud of its knowledge of lesser species. “Ancient human naming traditions used professions as surnames. Your friend Raxel’s ancestors were healers of renown I would guess.”

“Nah,” laughs Guy. “It’s Woodworm, on account of all the places his wood worms, if ya know what I mean.”

The dragon sighs.

“In fact,” Guy says. “Rax got the name at the same time he got hard to find. See, Rax was never really quite a thief, per se. He didn’t steal gold or jewels. Nah, he didn’t really steal nothing. Rax had a different soft spot. Something he liked being given – the virtue of married women…”


The manor stands tall in the dark. Silhouetted on the edge of a cliff by clouds and the moon glinting off a not-so-distant sea. A barbed wall contains the cliff and the house. Stretched between the wall and the manor stand gardens lit by torches and patrolled by guards. And with the guards, and the gardens, and the moonlight is Rax.

He counts to himself each footstep of each guard. Timing their movements with his own. He’s just another shadow to them, a lump in the night. Flitting tree to tree, bush to bush, until he reaches the brick sides of the great manor house. If anyone thought the guards would be a problem, the manor was far less of one. His lutest’s fingers slip easily into cracks between masonry and stone, and his ascent up the house is faster even than his passage through the garden. A rose in his lips, a lute on his back, and Rax is prepared for the evening.

At the very top of the house, a single candle waits lit in a lone window. This is the signal. Tonight is the night. Her husband is away.

Rax reaches the window and draws his second-story dagger, slipping its thin flexible blade between the window and sill, disengaging the clasp. And Rax is in the house.

The room he enters is lavish. A fire roars in the fireplace, a four-posted bed waits with feathered pillows and down throws. On the bed, his love of the night, The Lady Baroness De Silva.

“I have come, my love,” says Rax. “Let me play my lute for you, and then let me play you like my lute.”

He pulls the instrument from his back and sings a ballad filled with the promise of the rest of their night. He throws the rose onto the pillow, and pulls the lips of The Lady Baroness De Silva to his own, kissing her passionately.

“Why don’t you kiss me, my love?” Rax implores, looking down at the woman of tonight’s dreams. And it is then, and only then, that he realizes he holds her head in his hands but her body remains on the bed.

“You fool, Woodworm,” screams The Baron from his hiding place in the closet. “Look what you made me do!”


“The Baron cut off his own wife’s head?” asks the dragon.

“Truly told,” says Guy.

“Before he knew she was sneaking around in the night with Raxel,” says the dragon. “This is not a man to be reckoned with.”

“He is not,” agrees Guy.

“Then why would Raxel do it?” asks the dragon.

“For the very reason you said, The Baron is not a man to be reckoned with,” says Guy. “That is Rax’s love. It ain’t the women, he would never admit it himself – it’s the challenge. The getting away.”

“But he did not get away,” says the dragon, “did he.”

“No,” says Guy. “His fate was worse than The Baroness’s. He was caught and captured. Taken to the mages. They used his love of traps and tricks against him. Against his mind.”

“They did not,” says the dragon.

“They did,” says Guy. “Mind-maze. So powerfully cast it ends only when he does. Then set him on a corner, in the mud and filth, with only enough of himself left to eat and shit.”

They stand in silence.

“That is a terrible fate,” says the dragon, “I would wish on no one.”

“Yeah,” says Guy.

“But if that is the case,” asks the dragon, “how could you get him to join your crew?”

“Hmmm,” says Guys, “that was easier than anticipated…”


Guy embraces Rax. Holding him close. Lovingly as a child would hold an injured bird found in the garden. Shay holds Rax’s hand. She says words of love and affection. She kisses Rax’s forehead. And then together, Guy and Shay, push his head into a full rain bucket until the bubbles stop.


“You didn’t!” gasps the dragon.


Rax’s corpse flops onto the floor where Guy, Shay, and Randal take turns smashing his chest with a large padded mallet. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. They play tattoo until Rax’s heart beats again and water fountains from his mouth.

“Why you bunch of no-good, mother wenching-—” Rax shouts.


“And the spell was broken,” says Guy.

“Until death,” says the dragon. “Very clever.”

Guy shrugs, “We all have talents.”

“I suppose we do,” says the dragon, as it flips onto its back, wiggling to scratch an itch. “Now finish your story.”

“So, I had my team,” says Guy. “The four of ‘em came to my place to plan. Randal’s knowledge. Brent’s strength. Rax’s stealth. My brains. We figured the best way to do the job was—”

“That is only three,” says the dragon. “You said, ‘the four of them came to my place.’ That implies four people. Randal, Brent, Raxel. That is three.”

“It’s a four man team,” says Guy. “That’s all there is. Four men. Anyway, you know the plan from there. The sneak gets us down here, the hedge-wizard and me distract you, Sir Brent takes your head.”

“Tell me anyway,” purrs the dragon.


Rax disables the last trap on the last door before the dragon’s horde.

“Is everyone ready?” asks Guy. “You know your parts?”

They know what they’re doing. They’ve worked together before.

“Lets do it,” says Guy.

The door swings open, letting in the heat of the dragon’s cavern and the unmistakable scent of an uncountable number of coins. Randal and Guy slip through the door. Sir Brent—


“Rushes into my chamber and shouts, ‘Death to you ye foul beast of the night!’” laughs the dragon. “And then he falls to his knees to pray. To pray! Rather than slaying me, he prays. He had me at the disadvantage. I had no idea you were even there—”

The dragon laughs so hard it can no longer speak. It rolls across the floor, tail smashing piles of gold and valuables beyond measure.

“This story will never get old,” says the dragon. “I will tell it to my young when it hatches from the egg, and they to their young for centuries to come. Oh the laughs we will have.”

Guy leans against the column, “You done?” he asks. “Can we get this over with?”

“Of course,” says the dragon. “Show me your gear and I will tell you your plan.”

There is only one bag. About as long as a man and twice as wide. Guy undoes the lacing and pulls out four identical objects – bags. But not just any bags. Each made from heavy cloth. Leather straps triple-stitched onto them. Each with a handle as thick as a man’s leg. Big enough for ten men to stand inside.

“That is all you brought?” asks the dragon.

Guy nods.

The dragon looks at the bags, looks at Guy. Thinks.

“I honestly have no idea how you were going to get my gold out of here,” says the dragon.

“It’s good knowing you then,” says Guy, wiping sweat off his brow. “Deal’s a deal, oaths and promises and such. I’ll never be seeing you later. Ta ta.”

Guys turns to walk away. Towards the entrance. Towards safety.

“Yes,” says the dragon, “but I have changed my mind.”

Guy stops.

“It would be a shame to waste such a meal as you,” says the dragon, its tail swipes through the air blocking off Guy’s retreat. Almost cutting Guy in half in the process. “Can I tell you a secret?”

Guy turns back to face the dragon.

“You gave me your word,” says Guy.

“That is the secret I do so wish to tell you,” says the dragon. “You know how your friend Randal does not know where all your dragon knowledge comes from? Well, it comes from us. We wrote it down. We gave it to you, just for delicious moments like these.”

“You’re tell’n me it’s all a long con?” Guy says, deflated. “A hustle?”

“Yes,” shouts the dragon, clapping its forearms, mouth smiling wide with glee. “You humans are so much easier to deal with when you think we cannot lie, and that we must keep our word as if by some magical decree. You are all just. So. Stupid.”

Guy is speechless, for once.

“Do you know how long it has been since I have had a knight in my cave?” asks the dragon, “There was a time when it was one or two a week. They would come for wisdom, or wishes, or thinking to slay. Lured in by promises of honesty or gold or magical cures – like I am some sort of genie – and when they disappeared no one questioned it. No one said, ‘Oh, look, Sir Steve went to the dragon and now he is gone, he must have been eaten.’ No. No, instead it was all, ’Sir Steve’s wishes must have come true, we should all go to the dragon now. Come on everybody.’”

The dragon walks his talons across the floor, pantomiming villagers walking to his cave, up his neck, and into his mouth.

“Those,” says the dragon, “were the good old days.”

Guy backs up slowly, inching his way towards the door. An appropriately delivered monologue is often the best time to escape – just not today.

The dragon’s tale smashes into the ground in front of Guy.

“I am trying to decide if I should eat you raw or rare,” says the dragon. “It is such a difficult choice.”

Guy lets the dragon have its moment. He watches as it rolls and giggles. As it playfully flings handfuls of gold into the air. When it is done gloating, the dragon turns back to Guy.

“I have decided,” the dragon says. “I am going to eat you well done.”

The dragon’s head rears back, sucking in air to fan the fire in its belly.

“That’s what I thought,” Guy says.

The dragon stops. Its glee gone. Smoke pours out of its nostrils.

“What did you say?” the dragon asks.

“It’s a shame really,” says Guy. “But, that’s what I thought. Shay didn’t believe me. See, the idea of a creature that can’t lie? It’s great. A monument to truth. Something to stand for. Regal. Elegant. Honest. Too good to be true.”

The dragon sinks down to Guy’s height once more.

“Continue,” it says.

“There were actually two plans for your gold,” says Guy. “So you were partially right. If you kept your word, I was gonna to walk out’a here empty handed. With hope for the future, yes. But gold? None of it. I don’t steal nothin’ from the honest, not my way. We’d a just put the egg right back, no one the wiser.”

“The egg?” asks the dragon.

“Yeah,” says Guy, “walk away clean if you was honest. But, if you was what I thought you was, the plan’s you carrying it to the surface for us. In the bags. If you lied. And you did. So…”

“Tell me about the egg,” demands the dragon.

“I don’t have to tell you,” says Guy. “You already know.”

As Guy says this, the bodies of Sir Brent, Randal, and Rax slowly fade into nothing. The blood and dismembered body parts go with them.

“Randal is an illusionist,” seethes the dragon.

“Yeah,” says Guy as he unfolds the four bags, laying them out next to each other. “I want them all full, they can carry the weight – I’ve already checked.”

“Without my head you won’t save Two-Finger,” says the dragon.

“Who finger?” asks Guy.

“Two-Finger,” says the dragon, “he is the reason you are here in the first place.”

Guy puts his finger to his chin, thinking.

“Ya know. Nope – I don’t know anybody by that name,” says Guy. “Why don’t you check on that egg.”

The dragon climbs over its throne, through its piles of gold, until it is out of sight. Guy covers his ears before the roar comes, and it comes full of anger and hatred and the promise of vengeance. When the dragon returns it is different. Older. Tired. Broken.

“Where is it?” the dragon demands.

“Shay grabbed it while we were talk’n,” says Guy. “Would’ve put it right back if you kept your word, if you let me walk, but…”

Guy shrugs.

“So,” Guy says, “why don’t you fill these bags nice and full and bring’m topside for me like a good little dragon. Do good, and your egg will be back before you know it.”

“I will find you,” says the dragon. “I will hunt your families until not a single drop of your cursed blood runs in the veins of man. You. Randal. Shay. Raxel. Brent. I will kill them. I will kill their friends. I will kill—”

“But,” interrupts Guy, “who are you look’n for exactly?”

Guy’s features shift. His skin gets darker and then lighter. He grows taller, then shorter. His nose bulbous, then cute.

“Who have you seen but me?” asks Guy, “And given the time I’ve been here, let’s be honest with each other for once, I bet that enchantment is start’n to work – even on you.”

The dragon tries to focus on Guy’s face, to picture it in its mind, just a single feature to hold on to, but can’t. It roars and screams in frustration. Smashes its throne. Topples its piles of gold. Then turns on Guy.

“Careful,” Guy says, wagging a finger. “You just keep think’n ‘bout that egg.”

A door appears in the air behind Guy. Its gilded wood frame reflects the hatred in the dragon’s eyes. Each intricate carving coming to life under scrutiny. It opens before Guy can knock.

“Why?” the dragon asks. “If you were willing to walk away empty handed, why come here at all?”

Guy stops half way through the door. He turns to face the dragon.

“I believed in you since I was a kid,” says Guy. “I wanted to meet a creature who couldn’t lie. A creature bound to truth in ways I am not. I wanted to see – well – I wanted to see a dragon.”

They stand a moment in silence.

“And?” asks the dragon.

“And what?” asks Guy.

“Was it worth it?” asks the dragon.

Guy looks the dragon in the eye one last time.

“Honestly,” he says. “Feels liking payin’ ten solid for a half shiny fiddle.”

And the door closes. Cutting off the sunlight. Stopping the breeze. The sound of distant waves fade slowly into the dark. And the dragon stares for just a moment, then begins filling four bags with its most precious of gold.

This story previously appeared in the anthology Crunchy With Chocolate, 2021.
Edited by Marie Ginga


Austin Roberts has an MFA, an MBA, and a skill set made largely irrelevant by the Industrial Revolution. When not writing, he practices swordsmanship, lock picking, and forges custom knives (and may teach his son skills that inevitably result in calls home from teachers). Find out more at Austin Charles Roberts