Miles hesitated at the mouth of the cave. Logically, he knew there was nothing to fear, but his brain could not seem to communicate that to his pounding heart. Miles Howard was the richest man on Earth, but no one knew it. He’d spent his life amassing a fortune and staying in the background.
Stalactites hanging around the entrance gave the cave a frightful, toothy look. Miles really did not want to venture into it, but he knew his options were limited. Extremely limited; if he did not enter the cave, he’d probably be dead within a week.
“Might as well get it over with…,” Miles mumbled to himself then entered the cave. He walked as straight a path as he could manage with his flashlight guiding him over the rocky interior. It took him over an hour of darkness to notice a faint light in the distance. The inky emptiness stretched for nearly another hour before Miles stepped into flickering torchlight. A dozen tall, lit torches circled a great red beast. A sleeping dragon with blood-red scales and wings.
Miles sighed to himself as he stared at it. Its sleeping form was at least twice his height at the bulkiest end, but it was still considered small, medium at best, by dragon standards.
*ahem* Miles cleared his throat. He wasn’t trying to be quiet, but he did not make an effort to be loud either; the dragon did not stir. Its steady breathing continued undisturbed. Miles watched its body rise and fall with the breath a few times, then he tried again.
*AHEM* This time he injected more volume into the action; the dragon continued to sleep. “Geeze,” Miles grumbled. Then, he remembered how loud his cellphone was. He already knew he couldn’t get service anywhere near the cave, but it could still make sounds. He found the loudest alarm he had and promptly tested it.
Loud, staccato buzzing filled the cavern around him, as did a slight groan. The dragon moved.
“I’m up, I’m up,…,” the dragon spoke with a tired, feminine voice, then it rolled over on its back and curled up facing the other way. Miles took a few steps back, but did not shut off the alarm.
“I’M AWAKE!” The dragon roared at the same time it stretched its arms and hind legs up. Its long tail nearly knocked down a torch as it stretched out. That seemed to satisfy Miles and he shut the alarm off. It lingered for a moment on its back, then rolled around to stand on all fours to stretch its wings. Finally, a pair of pale blue eyes turned to land on Miles.
“Why am I awake,” the dragon asked. Miles only had news with no way of knowing how she would react; he hoped it was good news. He took in a deep breath, just in case it was his last, then nodded at the dragon.
“Chroma has summoned the Chrome Court,” he said.
“Ooooohhhhhhhhh. Shit,” the dragon replied with obvious disappointment. “Do you know why?” The messenger did give Miles a reason, but he didn’t know what it meant. He shrugged and nodded.
“The Conquistadors are free,” he said.
“UUugghh,” The dragon grumbled like an over-dramatic teenager. “Fine, fine. I’ll go.” Miles nodded, then stood still and continued to wait.
“Can I get some privacy please? I need to change,” the dragon asked.
“Is that it?” Miles asked.
“Is what it?”
“I woke you up. That was the favor, right? The first time, you helped me and said I’d need to help you in the future; that was the wake-up call, right?”
“How long has it been?” the dragon asked.
“Three thousand years,” Miles replied. He knew that she would probably take away whatever magic kept him alive long enough to serve her, but he’d had time to see and do everything he wanted. He was glad he only had to kill 3000 years, the original wakeup date was much later. However, this message fell into the ’emergency’ category that she laid out for him.
“Yes, and no,” the dragon replied. “Technically, I intended to let you go after the planned wakeup call; but, this isn’t a wakeup call, it’s an interrupted nap. You’re still on the hook, buddy,” she said. Miles couldn’t even begin to act surprised. 3000 years gave him a lot of time to think and dragons are well-known for changing their minds. Miles sighed and nodded, then turned around to give her privacy.
“Besides,” she added once his back was turned. “If this isn’t a false alarm, tagging along with me is the safest place to be,” she said.