Dragon's Hoard by Geeta Boodansingh

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The dragnar gazed lazily out the window. The sun was setting, burning its path across the sky as if in angry protest over its departure. Soon the night would come, soothing the scorched sky with its inky blackness, and the moon would ascend to her rightful place as mistress over all earthly beings. And with her rise would come the hunt. The dragnar licked its lips at that prospect. It was growing hungry, and restless. Its eyes flitted nonchalantly towards the doorway; it could smell the human standing there. The hunt would have to wait. There was business to be taken care of first.

Slowly it turned towards the door and waited. It watched with the same indifference as the old oak structure swung slowly forward and opened to reveal a slender, female human standing in its place. Her blue eyes flashed instantly to the table on which the dragnar sat. Cold, yellow eyes returned her gaze, its emotionless depths an antonym to the shock, and fear that swirled in her azure orbs. Swiftly she turned around and slammed the door shut. Hands shaking, she turned a large, gold key in the keyhole, locking the door.

"What are you doing here?" she hissed at the creature, "You'd have me burned for treason if any one saw you!"

The dragnar laughed, a scratchy, blood curdling sound. These humans and their pitiful fear of fire amused it. It remembered the way most humans recoiled from it whenever it opened its mouth, afraid of being charred to a cinder. If only they knew that it was a dragnar, a lesser dragon, which unlike its larger counterparts could not spew fire. But it was not defenseless, it could spew venom, which could paralyze, even kill a full grown human.

The woman watched the dragnar laugh. She felt her anger rise at the sound, the emotion giving colour to her pale visage.

"Well I'm gland the prospect of my death amuses you," she snapped, "How well will your race fare if both Amos and myself die!"

At the mention of her husband's name, her voice cracked, breaking under the strain of weeks of worry and fear. Turning her back to the creature, she allowed herself one moment of weakness, before her iron will drove raging emotions back into their prison of composure.

The dragnar spoke again, the sound still coarse but not as unpleasant as before. To an untrained ear the sound would have been no more than husky vibrations of a kind no human could produce, and few understand. But for Elya the words were fluent as the common tongue.

"Forgive me, my lady," the dragnar said, "I meant no offence. Have you found what ails Lord Amos?"

"Poison," Elya replied, her voice almost a whisper. Her fingers twirled the ends of her raven black hair, a nervous gesture developed since her ascension to queen. "Poison..." she said again, "So subtle it could be barely traced...only one skilled in the lore of magic could have concocted such a potion."

With those words her eyes darted to the books of spells that lay on the desk behind the dragner. Her sorcery was no secret among her people. They knew what she was, and some hated and feared her for it.

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