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Treasure

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Winston ran through the caves and tunnels, giving Will much needed exercise as he tried to capture the dog. Winston’s leg was completely healed thanks to the magic salve Hannibal used. Will was relieved to see Winston up and about. That relief turned to annoyance as the dog refused to stay in the designated areas Hannibal allowed.

“Winston!” Will shouted as the distance between the two grew. “Winston, get back here!”

The dog ignored Will as he continued to explore his new home, bounding one way and then the other. He seemed to glide over the coins and jewelry with ease whereas Will stumbled and slipped and slid as he ran after him. Honestly, why was he the only one who couldn’t maneuver over the stupid gold. He was part of the dragon’s horde.

Will came to a sliding halt when he came to the divide between gold coins and bare cavern floor. He heard the click of Winston’s paws fade as the dog ran down one of the tunnels.

“Winston, come.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll give you a treat if you come.”

Silence answered back. Will cursed and rubbed his face. Hannibal was going to be mad at him. Again.

Will wanted to regain Hannibal’s trust by staying in the designated areas. He was glad Hannibal was away doing his dragon duties. Will still wasn’t sure what Hannibal did during the day. He decided long ago ignorance was bliss.

Will paced the edge of gold, wondering if he should chase after Winston or wait for him to come back. A loud crash echoed down the tunnel, and Winston yelped. Will cursed and ran in the direction of the crash. The sound led Will to a dark cavern with very little light. Will back tracked and grabbed a torch to bring with him.

“Winston! Are you okay?”

Will jumped when something brushed against his leg from behind. He relaxed, realizing it was Winston, and he pet the dog.

“Bad dog. Hannibal will have our hides if we don’t get—” Will noticed something in Winston’s mouth. “What’s that?”

Will tugged the item out of Winston’s mouth. It looked like a long stick. He brought it close to his face to try and get a closer look. It was then he noticed the smell of something rotten.

Will gagged and dropped the object sending it rattling to the floor. He stumbled backward and turned to leave when his torch light fell upon the rest of the cavern. Will froze.

There were piles upon piles of human skeletal remains. They were strewn across the cavern. Some had fabric or jewelry holding them together. Some still had rotting flesh clinging to the bones. One pile looked like it had just toppled over. It would explain the crash Will heard. He gagged again and covered his nose. He knew Hannibal ate humans. But seeing this. Will couldn’t understand. Hannibal could just eat them in one bite. Why would he leave the bodies to decay and rot away?

One pile of bodies caught his eye. They still had flesh and appeared to have been killed recently. Will drew closer and froze. He reached out and picked up the cross from the body of the village Priest.

Will blinked. His vision became red.

Screams filled the air. Villagers ran for cover as fire raced across the ground. The dragon landed in the middle of the market. Fear and terror raced through Will as he watched the dragon lay waste to everything in his sight.

The dragon then snatched up any villager he could find, hunting them down one by one as they tried to flee. He then set his sights on Will. Will dropped to his knees and brought his hands up.

“Please, I beg of you, have mercy.” The voice of the Priest came past his lips.

The dragon laughed and lunged at him. Will screamed as the teeth ensnared him.

Will gasped. He dropped the cross and torch as he fled the cavern. He didn’t stop until he reached the safety of the nest. He bundled under the furs and laid curled in on himself. Winston had followed and found a spot next to him. He whined, and Will wanted to reach out and comfort the dog. No doubt he probably spooked. However, he couldn’t bring himself out of his cocoon.

Hannibal was still gone. Will wasn’t sure how much time had lapsed while his vision played out. He concentrated on his breathing and his rapid beating heart. He managed to get his breathing under control, but his heart was still racing. Will closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Hannibal’s scent consumed his senses. It smelled of cinder and smoke and just a small hint of something Will couldn’t place.

Will opened his eyes. He paused. Usually when he closed his eyes the visions came back. Not as intense as before but lingered in the corners. He closed his eyes again, and again he saw nothing. It was curious.

Will released the breath he had been holding and unfurled. Winston got up from his spot and licked Will’s face. Will gave the dog a few pats, his mind elsewhere.

 

As Will expected, Hannibal was displeased to learn he had left the designated areas. However, that displeasure morphed into concern and intrigue when he heard of Will’s vision.

“You saw me destroying the village?”

Will nodded.

“Where were you looking from? From the villagers’ perspective or from mine?”

“I was the Priest.”

“Have you ever assumed the presence of another when you’ve had your visions?” Will shook his head. “Fascinating. I wonder if it is because you touched a token of the Priest’s. Or perhaps because you were near his body.”

Will shuddered as the image of the dead Priest came to mind. “Why didn’t you eat him? Why do you have a cavern full of bodies?”

“You don’t know? Dragons keep all kinds of treasure. Whether it be gold,” Hannibal picked up a golden chalice and examined it in the torch light. “Or the desecrated remains of our enemies.”

Hannibal looked up and smiled with all his teeth. He paused. “You are handling this far better than what I was expecting.”

“You’re a dragon, Hannibal. I know what you eat.”

“I killed them all. I destroyed your home.”

“It stopped being home after my father died.” Will confessed. He shrugged and wrapped his arms around himself. “To be completely honest, I’ve felt rather homeless for quite a while. Until now, that is.”

Hannibal blinked in shock before his face melted into a warm smile. He came close and wrapped his arms around Will. “I hope, dear Will, I can continue making this your home.”

Will smiled and returned Hannibal’s embrace.

“Thank you.”