Story

12

A particularly loud grumble from your stomach seemingly echoed off the walls of nearby buildings. In all likelihood, no one noticed the sound, but to your mind, all too conscious of the noise, all eyes turned to your and murmured conversations invariably focused on the source of your embarrassment. Your pace quickened by a step as you hurried to the section of the plaza dedicated to consumables.
 
As you entered the plaza, your senses were assaulted by the smell of freshly baked bread. The warm, slightly spicy aroma seemed to draw you toward the stall where a man was just stacking loaves. The enticing scent was pulling in others, but you were fortunate enough to be first in line, and the man smiled knowingly at you. “Fresh baked and ready to eat! Only three gold coins for a loaf!”
 
The pitch was completely unnecessary – in the few brief moments that you had stood there, the bread had gone from “enticing” to “necessary”. Eagerly, you reached down to your coin pouch… and as you lifted it, the complete lack of resistance was an icy bolt, blasting you from your trance. The overly polished gauntlet shining on your arm seemed to laugh, mocking you for what had originally seemed like such a sound investment. It took all your effort to lower your head and stutter out the words, “I… I don’t.. have three coins.”
 
The man’s countenance cracked, if only for a moment, as he found himself split between sympathy and the necessity of ensuring his sales. Every second that he wasn’t selling his wares, it was losing value. He grabbed a loaf of bread from beneath his counter and held it out. “This was baked yesterday, but it’s still fresh. One gold coin.”
 
You were about to show him your purse, completely void of any sort of monetary presence, when the familiar sensation of pinpricks rippled down your shoulder. The dragon, clutching its lone treasure, scurried onto the back of your hand and chirped inquisitively at you. Your eyes traveled from it, to the loaf of bread, and back again. Once more, your stomach growled, and the rumblings of the crowd behind you, eager to procure their own food, grew more and more agitated. The man, clearly trying to avoid a scene, pushed the bread closer to you. “One coin, c’mon, I got people to feed here.”
 
The dragon cocked its head at you, puzzled, while hesitation froze you for an eternally long several seconds. Finally, hefting the tiny creature and it’s prize, you sighed. “Appreciate the offer.” Turning your body sideways to slip past the crowd, by now even more frustrated that you had seemingly wasted their time, you gazed upon the dragon and wondered, not for the first time, when a single coin and its companion had gained so much value to you.
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