“Van’droth the Dread Dragon,” the wiry, wrinkled old man with silver stringy hair grinned. A bright red glow pulsed from his eyes. Britt nodded; she was used to dragons stopping by Donna Chang’s and this one seemed to be weaker than her regulars.

“Hey, I have a friend named Dread,” Britt smiled. “What can I get you, Mr. Dread Dragon?’ she asked. Van’droth shook his head; his stiff, silver comb-over wobbled.

“Kids these days,” he said. His wrinkled skin tightened up. Black dragon scales emerged and coated his whole body. Two twisting obsidian horns twisted upward out of his skull. “No respect for Elder Dragons. I’ve just woken from a long, deep sleep,” he smiled at her and bared his growing fangs. “It’s time for breakfast. I’ll start with you, then work my way through the city.” He took a threatening step toward the teenage girl expecting her to flee. Instead, she burst into laughter.

“HAHAHAHAHa,” Britt shook her head. “Boy did you ever pick the wrong place to start.” Van’droth was used to false bravado from his victims but something about her laughter seemed genuine. She appeared completely confident and at ease in his presence. It made him curious.

“What makes you say that, child?” Van’droth asked.

“My name’s Britt,” she pointed at her name tag. “I say that because 90% of people that wander through here are stronger than you. That includes me and the cook, Takeru.”

“Yes, Ms. Britt?” A mountainous man in a stained white apron appeared next to the girl. He had several colorful dragons tattooed on each arm; each dragon was a different color. Van’droth took a step back, surprised by the large man’s sudden appearance. Britt slapped her own forehead.

“Sorry, T. Didn’t mean to call you,” she pointed at the black, scaled man. “I was just explaining to a customer that this is the wrong place to start trouble.” Takeru turned to face Van’droth. His eyes widened with surprise.

“A dread dragon?” Takeru smiled. In 3 months of working at the restaurant, Britt had never seen him smile. The towering man stepped toward Van’droth and placed a heavy, hefty palm on the black dragon’s shoulder. “I don’t have one of those yet.”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!”” Van’droth screamed in pain when Takeru’s hand left his shoulder and took one of his scales with it. Van’droth fell to his knees and clutched his shoulder. No one had ever hurt him so easily; it was almost careless. He began to consider Britt’s advice. Takeru held up the onyx scale dripping with black blood and held out his left forearm. He pressed the scale against a spot that did not yet have a dragon tattoo on it. It sunk into his skin leaving a brand new tattoo of a black dragon in its place.

Takeru made a fist and released it several times as if checking whether his arm still worked. Black scales covered his entire body for a moment, then disappeared again. He nodded at Van’droth.

“Thank you,” he said, then disappeared. He was gone without a trace as quickly as he appeared.

“So, about your breakfast?” Britt asked the kneeling man. He changed back into his wrinkled human form.

“Uh, sweet & sour chicken. Please, Britt.”

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