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Original The Heart Within The Hoard

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Hello! Since I'm taking a hiatus from writing fanfiction, I'm starting to gather ideas for original stories instead, so I've started looking at writing prompts on Reddit! What was supposed to be a quick exercise to get some inspiration turned out to be 3k words worth of material! I haven't edited it or anything; I literally just bashed it out in 4 hours today, so... yeah.

The link to the original comment along with the prompt is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/f3kx7e/_/fhl5ml7 View: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/f3kx7e/wp_a_dragons_hoard_gets_audited_by_the_irs/fhl5ml7?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x


[WP] A dragon's hoard gets audited by the IRS.

---

Another day, another successful loot, at least, for Dewi the Dragon. Not so much for the village. As Dewi soared through the skies, holding the bag of gold with his talons, he reflected on the last village he invaded, or at least, tried to. He hadn’t the heart to pillage and burn, unlike many other dragons of his kind. Not that he had knew many dragons in his life, if any at all anymore since they were so rare. Though, he hoped he put on a convincing enough performance of a terrifying, fire-breathing dragon; his heart was pounding the whole way through. Whatever he did made the village chief go fiery red and hand over the hamlet’s riches, so he must’ve made for a proud dragon there.

After a peaceful journey, Dewi landed outside of his cave where his hoard awaited deep within. But first, he had to actually shimmy his way through the dank caverns to get through to it. So for the moment, he carried the sack of goods with his teeth as he wormed through those tight crevices. At least to his size; not to humans that dared to visit. It had just become routine at this point, so he had gotten used to it. As part of his ritual, however, he would stop to take a look at the mushrooms that grew in the cracks of the caves. They were like candles as their bio-luminescence cast the tunnels in a blue light, which never got boring even with the repetition of coming in and out of his home. He had no idea what those mushrooms were called or how they grew, but he would’ve liked to know, though his father probably could’ve told him.

His father? Oh, dear. Never mind. Mustn’t think about that. Dewi hurried, trying to get to his hoard as quickly as possible. His shuffling footsteps would’ve drowned out the silence of the caves, and by extension, the unquiet of his thoughts.

Eventually, the blue glow turned to bright yellow as he got closer to home. Then finally, he reached his hoard. Gold lined the floors as far as the eye could see. Gold, gold, and more gold, with speckles of red and green here and there for the odd gem in the collection. Now he had more to add to it with the bag. So, he grabbed it with one foretalon and ripped the sack open with the other, drizzling the pile with even more moolah. This seemed exciting at first, as all of the spoils of his hunt were right before him. But once the sack was emptied, those riches just disappeared into the mound of coins with the others.

It was an odd feeling, something Dewi couldn’t quite parse in his heart. Well, not a feeling that added or took away from something, but rather, the absence of feeling anything. No, he was being silly. It was in his nature. As his father used to say: ‘A dragon’s worth is his weight in gold.’ Plus, he was continuing on his legacy, so he had to take pride in that. But, what could he have used the gold for anyway? It was his bed and something for him to gnaw one whenever he got bored and fulfilled his daily sheep allowance. Wait, both of those hurt. The coins would dig into his scales and he’d chip his teeth trying to chew on solid metal. Sometimes, he’d even make gold-angels, thought angels didn’t have long, swishy tails, did they? So, the gold pile sat around, not doing much at all. What did the humans use them for anyway? Surely, they didn’t just put it in a vault to stare at.

Dewi took a step back and observed all of this. This was the first time he thought about what the cave would look like if there was no gold at all. Out of curiosity, he took one coin from the pile and aimed one of his foretalons at the exit, ready to throw it. But… he couldn’t. His father’s voice echoed in his head, telling him not to. Who else would take over the hoard after he was gone?

He couldn’t do it. Dewi tossed the coin back to the pile. The empty feeling in his heart came back.

“Hey, Mister Dewi,” an unfamiliar, yet human voice called. “Is this your hoard?”

His ears perked up at that. He tried to turn around to face the source of the noise, then THWACK! His tail swept the interloper off of his feet, knocking him against the cave’s walls. This was a surprise: a human. And not just any human, but one with black stuff over his eyes and a very weird change of clothes. A far cry from the tunics he’d see in the villages. Then…

Oh crap! He just killed a human! The one bit of his code he wouldn’t break, and he not only broke it, but shattered it to pieces like the man’s back. He brought his talons to his face, chewing on his claws as he tried to decide what to do next. He could eat the body and dispose of the evidence, though he’d just be breaking even more of his code. But…

“Motherfu…” His dragon ears tuned out the rest of that word. But never mind, the human rose up, getting up as if he wasn’t crushed against the wall by another creature’s spine. Speaking of which, the human stretched, snapping his own dislocated spine into place again as if nothing happened. Oh, good, he was still alive.

“Oh, um, um um,” Dewi stuttered, still chewing on his cuticles. “Sorry.”

“Look, man,” the human said, then did a double take as he gazed at the dragon before him. “Dragon man, Trogdor, whatever they call ya’. We’re immortal. You can creme brulee us all ya’ want with your breath and stuff, but we’ve still got a case to settle.”

The dragon looked on, stunned. This human was weird. He spoke in a way none of the others did, so most of it flew over his head, but he got the immortal part. “Who are you?”

“We’re gonna be here a while if I explain that to you. So, ya’ know what—”

The man snapped his fingers, and before Dewi could react, hundreds of minutes of explanation flew through his head in a second. It was like having his dad read out an entire book to him in a blink of an eye, and in that same instance, seeing all of the colours beyond the dragon’s spectrum at once. Then as quickly as it came, it vanished, and Dewi was back in his cave again.

“Good, all caught up, I hope,” the man, who the dragon now knew as Jerry, said with a smile.

Now the dragon had that information, he perceived Jerry’s weird clothes as a black three piece suit, along with a set of dark shades over his eyes. This man was a part of the IRS: the Interdimensional Revenue Service, a section of the wider cosmos that investigated all the financial anomalies across time and space. If they caught anyone trying to sneak their earnings past them without filing a form or giving back a cut of the profits to whatever equivalent there is to the government in the offender’s world, then it would need to be investigated. They would fight tooth and nail to get the tax records set straight. Jerry once convinced Cthulhu to file his tax returns, and without going cuckoo for cocoa puffs and making a soup bowl out of his own scalp in the process. Those were in Jerry’s words, not the dragon’s, since he didn’t know what half of those things were.

In any case, he understood that in a matter of a second, including what taxes were. That was something else his dad never taught him.

“Uh…” His speech trailed off into more claw-biting. “Why are you here?”

“Well, I would be here to audit this hoard, but it’s a pretty open and shut case, so, we’re gonna discuss how you’re gonna give it back. It’s just paperwork at this point.” He summoned a pen and a pad and let it levitate around him, writing on its own. Oh no, they were starting already. Wait, what?! Dewi stepped back, digging his claws firmly into the pile.

“It’s mine!” he screamed. “My father’s savings!”

“Um, no it ain’t.” Jerry crossed his arms. “We’ve kept a log on your dad before. He knew of us too, by the way. Whenever we went on his case about it, he escaped, left his hoard behind and pillaged other villages to build another one somewhere else. This is his fourth stash, and since you’ve been adding to it, you’re also adding to the records of a filthy cheater who previously dodged their taxes.” He clapped his hands, smiling again. “So, I think you’re in no position to—”

Dewi bathed the tax collector in flames. He was reduced to a pile of charred bones. Oh no, he killed him again! But he was so mad and he was talking about his father that way and—

No, wait, the pile of viscera on the floor turned into a green blob, then reformed as Jerry emerged from it, unscathed and with a brand new blue suit.

“Told ya’.”

“S-shut up! Just shut up!” Without a body to burn, Dewi roared into the ceiling, unleashing a torrent of flames above. It burned bright, turning the whole room red and hot, then stopped as the fire dwindled out. Dewi stopped to catch his breath after that, then slumped onto the gold pile with tears and snot streaming down his face. “It’s p-p-pops’ stash…”

“Not my p-p-problem. The economy of this world is destabilising because—”

“No, you don’t understand!” Dewi sniffled. “I don’t even want this stinkin’ gold! It’s worthless! But, I, he, my dad, it’s in my nature, a-and he left—”

The dragon burst into tears, burying his face into the golden mountain. They were cold and of no comfort. Try as he might to get it all of those buried feelings out of his system, he was too confused to come to reason. This hoard of gold. The dragon’s reason for being. His father’s legacy. It was all crumbling before him. Then, something prodded at his side. Jerry offered a pack of XL tissues, fit for mythical beasts of his nature. Dewi snatched a serviette the size of a ship and blew into it. And then another one to dry his tears with. It was of some relief, at least.

“Hey, listen,” Jerry said, “this ain’t my department, but it sounds like you’ve got some deep stuff going on there. Should I call a mythoanalyst?”

Dewi nodded through his gentle sobs. Jerry crushed a business card in his hand, and out of thin air, the mythoanalyst appeared in all her glory. Her suit matched Jerry’s in sharpness, but she had a different aura to her. Apparently, it was her job to look at the psychological issues of monsters and try to find out ways to cope with them. That sounded like what he needed.

“This is the fifth time this nanoday you’ve called me, Jerry,” she said.

“A lot of cases to deal with, Cheryl,” he said, “I’m not letting someone’s baggage stand in the way of my audit.”

“Fine.”

She snapped her fingers, and in a flash, the dragon found himself seated in some sort of chaise-lounge, made specifically for his size. The mythoanalyst was just a speck compared to him. The room hadn’t even changed; the furniture just simply levitated above the dragon’s hoard. Jerry watched, lighting a cigarette on a stray flame from the dragon’s last temper tantrum.

“So,” Cheryl said, “Dewi, was it? What’s your damage?”

“Um,” he said, wiping the last of his tears away, “Pops, he, uh, passed away.”

“Hmm,” Cheryl said, magically writing on one of those levitating pads, “sorry to hear that. Did he go out fighting a king to the death? Was he at some sort of castle at the time?”

“No, he’d never—” Flames spewed from his nostrils. He had to keep it together; he wanted to get better. So Dewi sat back and sighed. “He’d only kill sheep to feed himself. He didn’t want humans to be on his case in case he killed some poor farm boy’s parents.”

“Ah yes, the underdog protagonist rising up to avenge his family’s death. I’ve heard that so many times.” She let out a slight chuckle at that statement. “So, why did he take the gold, then? From the info Jerry just fed to me, he’d still steal from hundreds of villages to add to his hoard. Even a few cities if he was feeling pretty lucky.”

“Yeah, Pops had a good career. Taught me everything he knew.”

“But why gold in the first place? Why not just steal marbles or cupcakes or anything else?”

“Um…” He tried to think of a reason, but he drew a blank there. “He didn’t tell me. I guess he liked feeling rich?”

“But he didn’t spend it on anything. I mean, forgive me for stepping out of bounds here, but that doesn’t strike me as the simple instinct of a dragon. Your father had some sense of morality to him, so he wasn’t completely brainless. And again, what would dragons need with gold anyway? All they need is a warm nook to sleep in and some livestock to keep them at bay. There’s no society for dragons, is there? Therefore no need for currency.”

“No.” He sunk into his seat. “Would be awesome, though.”

“Is it a status symbol for dragons, then, or perhaps a sort of mating ritual?”

“I dunno. I don’t even know how him and ma got together, though she left after I was born.”

“Perhaps the humans would fear him more in case anyone tried to trespass. Though that would attract more attention from thieves and other treasure hunters, but I digress. How did you father die again?”

“Stomach problems.” Dewi clutched his tail for comfort. “He ate a diseased cow once. I…” Tears formed again from the dragon’s eyeslits. “He wanted to teach me how to read, but, but, he…”

“Alright, alright.” Cheryl paused as Dewi got it out of his system again. “So, if I were to guess, you view the pile of gold as a piece of your father, correct?”

“Uh… uh huh,” he moaned.

“And your scared of parting with them because you don’t want to be separated from him, correct?”

The dragon stopped crying and rose from his seat, slack-jawed. “How did you—”

“It’s my job.” Cheryl smiled, and with a last flourish of her pen, stopped writing. “So, if I were to diagnose you with anything, it’s separation anxiety. You don’t want to lose your coin stash since that means diving into the unknown.”

With another snap of her fingers, the furniture disappeared. The mythoanalyst and the dragon were back on solid ground.

“Jerry,” Cheryl said, walking over to him. Dewi tried to listen into the rest with his heightened sense of hearing, but even their human whispering was too quiet for him to pick up on. Whatever it was, Jerry seemed incredulous at first, then understanding, then finally submissive. He stepped aside as Cheryl approached the dragon. “Dewi, I’ll be coming back for more sessions, but for now, the IRA have decided not to take the whole hoard.”

“But—”

“Jerry has a job, just like the outside world of your universe has an economy. The nearby villages can’t keep adding to your hoard, or it would make their currency obsolete. You’d just be sitting on even more useless metal. But if Jerry takes little sums of your hoard at a time, once every week, then it will lighten the blow.”

Dewi ran his claw along the pile, caressing one with a king’s crown on it. “How would it help?”

“This is what we call exposure therapy, exposing you to the source of your anxiety little by little without overwhelming you. Slowly, you’ll be able to return to… well, some sort of life afterwards.”

“But…” The dragon let out a mighty huff, sliding the immortal beings back ever so slightly. “I dunno what to do without this.”

“Think on it,” Cheryl said. “I’ll come back to check on your progress, but until then, bye.”

“And I ain’t stoppin’ until I’ve collected every penn—”

Cheryl pinched his cheek and the two dissolved into thin air, leaving the dragon alone once more. Alone with his thoughts.

That was… strange. There was no other way to describe it, and Dewi himself was strange by virtue of being a dragon. But by the end of it, he was drained. Such an intense day and he wasn’t even chased out by swords or arrows or… sword arrows! He needed to sleep and forget about everything that happened today. So, the dragon slumped back on his coin pile and was about to count sheep, or at least sheep to prey on in his thoughts to drive himself to slumber.

From the corner of his eye, there was a lone mushroom shining with a faint blue glow. No, back to sleep. One sheep, two sheep, three mushroom, four mush—

Why was he thinking of mushrooms? People didn’t count fungi to sleep, after all. Why was he thinking about that then? Right, the mushroom path. He was fascinated with that, and just like before, thought about how it grew. Then again, he’d think about how vegetables grew anyway and what different kinds he’d be able to cultivate. He had seen farmers tilling the soil and letting their horses plow the fields before. They could probably do with a lot more horsepower though. A dragon’s strength compared to one stupid, smelly donkey was unparallelled. He could’ve done the cooking afterwards by heating up the vegetables to just the right amount. He could control his own flames, at least.

Maybe that’s what he could do aside from gold hoarding, running a farm of his own.

Wearily, he got up and slunk through the caves again until he found his way back to the mushroom patches. He settled himself down into one niche in the rock formations and closed his eyes, bathed in blue light.

He dreamt of planting pumpkin seeds into the earth with his father.
 
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OldschoolJohto

Level 28
Location
Philly, USA
Pronouns
She/Her
Alright, finally finished!🌟

Jerry was a lot of fun in this. My one complaint about him is that I wish he inhabited the space more. (Interacting with the pile of gold, leaning against a wall, etc.)

Cheryl I wasn’t as sold on. She didn’t have the same charm as Jerry, and her presence took away the challenge Jerry represented.

I also thought that the ending felt abrupt — though I do like that as an end point for Dewi, finding a new outlet (and wow what a cute, wholesome visual). I think it’s because the jump from “cave mushrooms = cool” to “I would like to be a farmer” felt so big. We get such a tiny bit of mushroom action at the beginning of the story, it felt sudden to bring it back up only at the end. It would be nice if the interaction with the mushrooms were extended — is he encouraging them to grow somehow? — and even better if it could be tied into a flashback with Pops or a value Dewi admired in his father.


—Line by line reactions and nitpickery—

[Another day, another successful loot, at least, for Dewi the Dragon. Not so much for the village.]
Suggestion: “Another day, another successful loot— at least, for Dewi the Dragon, not so much for the village.”

[Not that he had knew many dragons in his life]
Had known

[the dank caverns to get through to it.]
Cut “through”

[At least to his size; not to humans that dared to visit.]
This feels out of place unless you’re going to further explore concerns of human invaders.

[But once the sack was emptied, those riches just disappeared into the mound of coins with the others.

It was an odd feeling, something Dewi couldn’t quite parse in his heart.]
I like this moment.

[Plus, he was continuing on his legacy,]
His legacy meaning his father’s? Unclear.

[he’d even make gold-angels, thought angels didn’t have long, swishy tails, did they?]
*Though
This felt like a little bit of a non-sequitur.

[put it in a vault to stare at.]
Conflict— can’t stare through a vault.

[Dewi took a step back and observed all of this.]
Unclear what “all of this” is.

[They were cold and of no comfort.]
Enjoyed this.

[And then another one to dry his tears with.]
“With” can be cut.

[and out of thin air, the mythoanalyst appeared in all her glory.]
Cut second comma. If you want a pause maybe throw in elipses instead?

[but she had a different aura to her.]
Cut “to her.” Can we get more specific than “different”? Is she kinder, earthier, etc?

[lighting a cigarette on a stray flame from the dragon’s last temper tantrum.]
What exactly is on fire?

[What’s your damage?”]
I get you’re going for humor, but this line was jarring because it was unprofessional for someone in her position.

[magically writing on one of those levitating pads]
Is the writing itself magical, or just the levitating of the pad?

[He didn’t want humans to be on his case in case]
Replace “on his case” with “on his back”?

[Would be awesome, though.”]
Wasn’t clear which part this referred to — a hypothetical dragon society?

[even their human whispering ]
Is human the right word? Are they human?



Book recommendation: The Language of Spells. It’s the story of a dragon and a human child who become friends. Made me cry in a good way. Reminded me a little of this and of your writing interests in general.
 
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