The Dragon’s Heart
He’d stood watch over the tomb for a thousand years. Quietly waiting for the visitors to come. For the thieves and vagabonds in search of the untold wealth that lay within. Precious gems, hoarded by the kings of a Persian empire, gold and silver from the ancient continent of Mu, and the combined wisdom of generations of Chinese wizards and philosophers.
He’d seen so many come over the years, from the very day that his master’s lifeless body was first interred within those cold, stone walls. None ever left. The traps within had been so artfully conceived, so fiendishly devised, that not one of the hapless criminals had ever managed to circumvent those cruel devices. Their broken and battered corpses littered the halls and passageways, a mute warning to those who would foolishly consider themselves worthy of the bounty that lay within.
The petty criminals had, eventually, been superseded by the archaeologists. Those learned men with their books and their scientific instruments. They had considered themselves superior to the simple robbers and brigands who had come before them, but they were no different. Their blood flowed red just the same, and stained the walls of the cold, dark tomb in the same random, crimson patterns as the thieves’ had done. The lure of ancient wisdom and wealth beyond imagining kept them coming though, and the endless string of mysterious disappearances seemed to do naught but encourage their curious minds.
Then she had come, the beautiful Englishwoman, with her hair tied back in a neat pony tail, a look of determination etched on her face. Her eyes betrayed a depth of experience that her lithe, youthful body denied. As he watched her enter the dark, forbidding portal beneath him, a shiver of anticipation ran through his cold, scaly body. This one would be different. At last.
He’d not been wrong. He’d waited, patiently, as the hours passed, and though no-one had ever returned from that place before, somehow he knew. He was not to be disappointed. The woman fled from a cloud of dust issuing forth from the ancient gateway beneath him. She stood, triumphant, holding not some great and valuable gemstone, or some ancient scroll of aged wisdom. No, she had, of all the treasures sealed within, found perhaps the most precious item of all. A tiny fragment of a lost empire that had once spread across this world, and beyond. Still, after more than a thousand years, beating slowly, steadily…a dragon’s heart.
He readied himself. This was the task that he had been created to fulfill. The treasures of this ancient tomb were his master’s, and his master’s alone, they must never be allowed to leave this place. With a low, guttural growl, he bared his fangs and leaped from his hiding place.
The beautiful Englishwoman turned and drew her guns…