Volume 18, Issue 4: Similitudes
Treasure Under the Tower
In spite of himself, when she laughed, Andrew stepped back several paces. And at that, she laughed again.
"Were you enchanted?" Andrew asked.
"Well of course. Do you think I would have been here otherwise?"
"But why? I don't understand this . . . what use would a dragon haveno offense, Maggiewith a young girl?"
Maggie's eyes were very bright, not dull and listless as they had been before. She looked over at Beow. "Tell him," she said.
"The dragon obeys all the rules of the story. He hates them, but he obeys them. If you ever meet a dragon in a story that does
not obey the rules, then that story is more wicked than the dragon is."
"But what does that have to do with it? Why would that be one of the rules? What good is a girl to a dragon?"
"She was here in order to bring you here. One of the rules is that a dragon-slayer is not to go out hunting dragons just to
please himself. He must have a reason. And because the dragon wants to meet dragon hunters just as much as they want to meet him, he
gives them a reason. Over the years, dragons have found that the most effective way to bring a dragon-hunter is by taking a young
girl prisoner. So Maggie was here to bring you here."
Andrew shook his head slowly. "But why would a dragon want his killer to come?"
"Your story is a blessed and fortunate one. But you should know that only one in fifty dragon hunters come back victorious as
you have done."
Andrew's eyes widened. "Well, you might have told me
Maggie was off in a corner, moving things around on a small counter. She came back in a few moments with a few hard
biscuits, and some dried meat. "I am sorry to have nothing more to offer you. Especially you, Beow. The dragon did feed me, but he kept
The unicorn bowed his head gallantly. "I am afraid that I will dine far more pleasingly than the two of you. I saw a fine patch
of grass at the base of the tower."
At this both Andrew and Maggie laughed. "Grass!" Andrew said, and they both walked down the steps with him to join him in
his dinner. Halfway down the steps, Andrew suddenly jumped, and hit himself on the forehead. "Maggie! There is a treasure here,
isn't there? Aelric said there would be a treasure. Where is it?"
"I never saw it," she said. "Fafnir was very particular about that, I can tell you. He didn't mind me roaming all over the
castlenot that there is anything to see, reallybut he told me constantly that I could not be trusted to see his treasure. The gold had
so enchanted his heart, he must have thought it had the power to break all enchantments. It is beneath this tower. It was the only place
I couldn't go."
They walked around the tower to the place where the wall and tower joined, and there they found a heavy wooden door,
with grass grown up all around it.
"Well, let me have my dinner," Beow said, "and I will clear away this grass at the same time. You two run find a torch,
or something that will make a torch."
"Does the door have a key?" Andrew said.
"I don't know . . ." Maggie trailed off.
Boew poked at the door with his indigo horn. "The wood is rotten," he said. "When the grass is cleared away, I will be able
to kick it in."
Andrew and Maggie ran off, excited. Maggie knew where there were some rags from the owner of the castle before the dragon.
It didn't take long to gather up everything, but before they ran down to the base of the tower again, Andrew climbed to the top of
the castle wall to see where the longboats were. They were visibly closer. While he was standing there, Maggie pointed in the
opposite direction. "Look!" she said.
Andrew turned around, and was startled to see the smoke of numerous campfires. They looked about five miles distant.
"The Kale," Maggie said.
"I wonder how they found out so soon. The northmen knew I was coming here, but . . ." Andrew shrugged. "But Aelfric told
me that they would both be here, and that I was to apportion the treasure by riddle. I had better think of one."
"They are camped for the night," Maggie said. "They won't be here until tomorrow, although I bet some scouts have
already been here and seen the dead dragon."
Andrew looked out at the longboats again. "And they won't be here until tomorrow either. Let's go look at what they want."
With that, the two ran down the steps. Beow had had more than enough to eat, and had begun to kick in the door. The wood
was soft, and he was making good progress. After a few moments, the remaining wood tumbled into the darkness, and they all shivered
at the cold air that blew out the door.
Andrew held up the torch, and stepped over the threshhold. The steps went down about ten feet, and then disappeared
underneath a lake of gold coins.