The adventurer stopped at the bottom of the cliff. There it was. The old tower. Just like they'd said.
It stabbed high into the air, grey and mournful, the same shade as the heavy clouds behind it. Rain pelted down, drenching his cloak and dripping off the end of his scabbard in a steady stream. It thudded on his helmet, drowning out all other sound. The tower was so thin, had so many holes in it, that he thought the rain must be enough to knock it down. But it stood defiantly, as it had for as long as anyone could remember.
He was filled with doubt. His hand stroked the rim of his shield and he prayed it would work the way they said. It was a dragon shield, they'd told him. Dragonfire couldn't harm him while he wore it.
That had been enough for him before. But with his life on the line, he struggled to trust the word of a warlock he barely knew.
The ascent was tough, the rocks slippery in the rain. He lost his footing a couple of times, but he never fell. The terrain levelled out and he could breathe again.
The tower lay ahead.
He pushed the old door open, his head full of daydreams. Wherever there were dragons, there was also great treasure. He could imagine the gleaming pile of gold, bright and shiny in the dull recesses of the tower.
He climbed the stairs. Rain poured in through holes in the bricks, dampening the steps and making them dangerous. No sound of the dragon. Not that he knew what a dragon would sound like.
He was panting when he reached the final room, the one just before the roof. The wind was blowing hard and he could feel the tower swaying beneath him. Or was that his imagination?
The air felt warmer too, hot despite the dark weather. Sweat poured down him, or was that rain?He pushed the door open and there before him was the dragon.
It was curled up, its tail by its mouth, but its eyes were watching him. Were those its eyes?
"What do you seek?" it hissed without moving its lips. The words were in his mind.
The dragon's tongue licked out and the air filled with smoke. His head span.
It laughed. "Treasure. Always treasure."
He gulped and raised his shield as the dragon stretched to its full height, head brushing the roof.
"Do you see any treasure, adventurer?"
He glanced around the room. It was large and square, and completely empty, besides a few bricks that had fallen in from the roof.
"No," he said.
"My tower was pillaged long ago," the dragon said. "Now I have nothing."
The smoke and the words in his head made his vision cloud.
"I suggest you leave, while you still have your life."
The adventurer left and the smoke drained from the room.
The dragon shifted, revealing a small, scaly egg it had been sitting on. It turned around and blew it with fire to keep it warm.
"I've got you, little one," it whispered.