The hero was either the bravest that the dragon had ever seen, or the dumbest. Taking a coin out of a pouch and tossing it into one of the towering piles spilling across the lair. The coin made a distinct clink as it landed, breaking the silence that had held the cavern.
“I have a proposition for you.” The hero took a seat atop one a chest close to the dragon. “That is, if you will hear me out.”
The dragon was intrigued, having never seen this approach before. Surely there would be others, archers and mages, taking aim at the now-vulnerable dragon. But it could sense no others. The man had come alone.
“Speak then, if I find what you have to say interesting you may live longer.” The dragon’s booming voice filled the chamber.
The man simply nodded and smiled. “I’m no fool.” He said tossing another coin atop the pile. “The hero kills the beast, marries the princess and is lauded by the people. That is the way it is supposed to happen, right?”
“In your human tales, I suppose.” The dragon says “But never in reality.”
“Exactly!” The man proclaims. “The dragon almost always kills the hero. And on the off chance that the hero manages to succeed, do you really think that the king will keep his end of the deal?” He says looking the dragon in the eyes. “In reality, the hero would kill the dragon and return to a grand feast where his wine would be poisoned. The Princess would be married off to some distant lord as the king pilfered the dragon’s trove of treasure. In this case, I would be dead.”
“You would be dead” the dragon repeats, cocking its head. “And why must I care if you are dead.”
“In case you have not noticed death is very bad for your health, and I am a very health conscious person.” He tosses another coin “If I go back, they execute me for treason. If I fight you, you’ll kill and eat me. If in some strange twist of fate I succeed in killing you, I will be assassinated.” He sighed heavily. “There remains only one path available where I will survive. I want you to destroy the kingdom.”
“Destroy the kingdom?” the dragon cocked its head. “If you wanted to do that so badly, why not do it yourself?”
“It’s a lot easier for you to destroy a castle than it is for me.”
“What is the catch?” the dragon said, shifting atop the piles of gold sending a cascade of coins towards the floor. “You humans love to make things more complicated than they should be.”
The man smirked “No catch. If anything you’ll come out of this better than I will. After all, you do get to plunder the treasury of the king. It may not be anywhere near the size of your hoard, but it should still satisfy a dragon of your caliber.”
The dragon pondered his offer for a moment. The hero could just as easily be lying in order to lure the dragon outside its lair. However, it found a strange charm to the human’s words.
“Human, if you dare cross me I shall take it upon myself to rend the flesh from your bones.”
“So you’ve considered it then?” the man smiled. “It would rid you of the adventurers seeking to take claim to your demise and would give you something more interesting to do than stay I this cavern and sleep for months.”
“And what, dear human, would you get in return if I were to assault this kingdom. Your kind always has some motive.”
“It’s simple. I get to stop being a hero and can enjoy a more secure job that doesn’t involve my death. Maybe a baker.”
The dragon was silent as it moved a single claw toward the man. “If you wish for me to do this, we must first create a binding contract.”
“A what?” The man asked, staring at the colossal claw before him.
“It makes it so that neither of those who initiate it can betray the other. You must simply run your palm along my claw. Let the blood of man mix with that of dragon.”
The hero nods and cuts his palm with the dragon’s claw. The dragon then makes a cut on itself with the claw. A warm light briefly consumes the cavern and soon subsides.
“That was weird. But if that’s all it takes I’m fine with it.” He stands and holds his the bleeding hand. “If you don’t mind we should be going. We haven’t got forever to destroy this kingdom.