“Have you ever been set on fire Mr. Transival?” The Dragon asked me the question in the same tone a neighbour might, over a newspaper, ask if one had ever visited the Appalachians in the fall, when the leaves had just come into their colours.
“I um, can’t say that I have sir.” I replied, truthfully.
“I’ve never been set on fire myself but I have, on good authority, that it’s a lousy way to die.” The Dragon offered that little tip with raised eyebrows. He was being friendly, doing me a solid offering up that little gem: no extra charge. I could see this here was the generous sort of dragon; looking out for my interests and all that.
I pursed might lips and only nodded.
“Don’t fuck with me, Mr. Transival.” Now, transported forward through the space-time continuum all of three seconds, he was staring intently at me with his brilliantly yellow eyes and bushy grey brows that met just above his snout. Now he was that other sort of dragon. The kind that razed country-sides, ate virgins, and rained righteous fire down upon those who defaulted on their debts.
Funny thing though, The Anguigena Bank’s in-house collections office had some of the highest success rates in the business. They hardly ever had to burn anything anymore: people who took Anguigena debts just didn't default on them.
Still though they were sensitive to the possibility and The Dragon held my gaze for five, very, very long seconds. And let me tell you, I did not dare look away, or blink, or flinch. Everyone knew the cops wouldn’t lift a finger against a dragon. They wouldn’t dare. Even if the world was on fire they wouldn’t, and they certainly wouldn't be too inquisitive if another pile of ash found its way into AAG’s dumpster.
That was the sort of place AAG was. Low rates, excellent repayment plans, and very few questions asked. All you had to do was have the audacity to go in, sit down in a cramped office with a dragon and demand money from it. Do that and you could walk out with vast sums of wealth it would take a month to get at a regular bank. Unless, of course, they thought you were aiming to cheat them - or wasting their time, or they just didn't like the look of you - because if that were the case: you just didn’t ever walk out at all.
Now there’s a few sorts that come to AAG and sit down to ask a dragon to part with his treasure. First is the confident, wealthy individual who just wants some quick liquid assets, but otherwise has no doubt that they can repay the money back: the dragon's preferred client. The second is someone so desperate for cash the risk was either worth it, or perhaps, didn't even register the risk: those people were in peril here.
I however, represented an extremely uncommon third sort.
I however, represented an extremely uncommon third sort.
The Dragon’s nostrils flared and its eyes never for a moment released me from their gaze. Now, here it was smugly toying with its prey - looking for any sign of weakness. Savouring the discomfort of those supplicants come to beg for money and relishing the opportunity, instead, to hasten them to an early grave if they showed any sign of weakness.
My eyes stung, and the smell of sulfur rankled my nose, but I didn’t flinch, I didn’t look away – I had to stare down those yellow eyes, and that pompous, toothy grin. “Do we have a deal?” I asked, feigning disaffected impatience. As the moment was drawn out longer and longer without reply, I began to wonder if it was true what the advertisements said – that dragons could smell lies – and that I had made a terrible mistake in coming here.
To my relief though, the incredulous expression on The Dragon’s face twisted away into something altogether more pleasant, almost saccharine. There was something sinister about a dragon looking pleased with itself. “I believe we may, Mr. Transival. I shall maintain my end of the agreement – you shall have your money - and you will maintain your end of the agreement. And if you do not: I will come.
“I will come for everything you have ever had and everyone you have ever loved. All of your accomplishments, your hopes and your dreams – I will come for them all and all shall be rendered unto ash under the shadow of my vengeance. And after the fire of my righteous rage has run cold with the screams of innocents, and heat of my anger cooled into blackened ash, then – and only then - shall I come for you.
“You shall suffer in fire! Agony shall be your only companion! Your screams of ‘mercy’ shall fall upon deaf ears, for I will have none. Oh, I shall not kill you Mr. Transival. When I am finished with you, you’ll be left to eke out the remainder of your pitiful life in penury begging in the streets; a horrible, twisted and disgusting reminder to all the world about what happens to those who would break faith with a dragon; all those who would break faith with me.”
And finally. “So let me put the question to you Mr. Transival: do we have a deal?”
“We do.” I replied.
As I stood up, I smiled only a little. There was a twinge of fear as I slipped my jacket on before exiting the smoky confines of the dragon’s den. There was a gnawing sense that, somehow, this dragon would track me down once it discovered the truth and I would pay the price for staring it in the eyes with ‘duplicity’ in my heart.
On the other hand: I was leaving with a suitcase full of money, and that had sounded like Mr. Transival was in for such sweet revenge as could only be served by a dragon.
Tomorrow might be different but today was a good day.
Ok, I love the idea of a bank run by dragons!
I saw dragon's den advertised on TV and this was the result.
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