The metal was cool against his scales. It was important to have enough of the stuff that he could have a constant supply. As one pile absorbed heat from his body, he would switch to another. Of course, the hoard of metal was itself a bit of a curse, for humans and other bipeds valued the stuff. The nearly constant intrusion of would-be thieves – at least one every decade! – made it difficult to rest. He could not understand why they wanted it. They did not need it to cool off. They traded it, and tried to amass as much as they could, but to no purpose that he could discern.
The coins beneath him were still mostly cool, so it was not necessary to shift positions at this time. Why, then, had he woken? Another intruder? He did not sense bipeds nearby, but something was amiss. Finally, a familiar presence became clear.
“Come out, cat.”
From apparently nowhere, the small, black creature jumped on top of a nearby pile. “That may be a record. Usually, I am able to walk about for much longer.”
“Yes. Which is why I have nearly cooked you whole, fur and all, on several occasions.”
“I am fairly certain I would dodge and remain singe-free.” The cat leapt to the floor and crossed over to where the dragon had made his bed.
“Would you like to put that to the test, little one?”
“Not particularly, no. But thank you for the offer.”
“Why are you here?”
“You asked me to alert you if any of the two-legs were headed to your home. This is me alerting you.”
“Where are they now?”
“At the foot of the mountain.”
“And you are just telling me now?”
“I just noticed them. I am not your lackey; I do have my own things to look after…”
“Which almost certainly used to be some of my things.”
The cat ignored the jibe. “Anyway, I saw them, and I thought you wanted to know.”
“Is this one of your tricks to get to leave so you can steal something?”
“Would I do that?”
The dragon inhaled deeply and flames flickered in his large nostrils.
“Okay. I might, but I am telling you what I saw. No trick.”
“Why do you steal my bedding? You would seem to have even less use for it than the humans?”
“It is pretty. And you know very well I have taken only a few pieces. Nothing at all compared to what the two-legs would take.”
The flames died out. “Which side?”
“North-east. I would guess maybe six or seven.”
“I was unaware you could count that high.”
“I do not have to help you.”
“Yes, you do. I let you live on this mountain.”
The cat turned her back to the dragon and swished her tail. She said nothing.
“Will you still be here when I get back?”
“Very well. Take one coin. Only one. You know I keep track.”
“Thank you!” She purred and rubbed up against his snout.
“Enough of that! I have to go take care of those intruders.”
The cat hopped off the pile and picked up one coin in her mouth before vanishing.