The Mythical Animals Adoption Centre was very well known. Well known for being literally one of a kind (the only one in the world) and well known for having it all as far as available animals were concerned. The organization had dragons, unicorns, perytons, a colony of hippocampus in a remote marine conservation, phoenixes, imps, griffins, gargoyles, thunderbirds, the whole shebang. The people who worked there were used to seeing weird people come in wanting to adopt animals nearly all the time, but one instance really took the cake for a goblin called Strorm.
A diminutive old man with a black cloak and a brass-top cane slowly walked into the adoption centre. From the look of him he had to be a wizard, and a very experienced one, too. He had a wrinkled, weathered face and a black goatee. "I am Igor Flynn," he introduced, with a proud, deep voice. "I am in need of an animal that makes a good guard. Can you help me?"
"Of course!" Strorm replied, happy to help. "I suppose you won't be wanting anything too big, since a guard pet like a hellhound can usually fit inside -" He was interrupted by Igor's booming laughter. "Did - did I say something funny?" Strorm stuttered.
"Goodness, boy, I don't want a guard for myself! This is for work reasons!" Igor laughed, eventually being forced to lean on his cane to steady himself. "I may technically be retired, and I get paid well to help people with my magical abilities, but I get bored when I have nothing to do and I am currently helping a bank with their spate of robberies. They want a guard for their gold and they think it would be a good idea to get one from here."
"Well, they made the right choice, Mr Flynn," Strorm smiled. "What qualities do you have in mind."
"Young, so when it grows older and is loyal to me. It will also have to be something that gets really big really fast," Igor listed. Strorm listened to all of it patiently, nodding occasionally. Then it clicked, He knew exactly what Igor wanted.
"What you need is a dragon!" Strorm exclaimed. "It's perfect for the job! There are baby dragons hatchlings that are right here in this adoption centre! They're really loyal too, Mr Flynn, and this breed that we have grow with their hoard of gold, so they can protect what you have no matter how much it is!" Igor thought about it, and nodded.
"I would like you to take me to them immediately," the wizard commanded. His booming voice made it impossible for Strorm to disobey or even argue back. He led Igor to the nursery, where there were five young hatchlings in a nursery, play-fighting and letting out small puffs of fire. Out of the five, one was abnormally big and another were abnormally small. Igor was impressed by the biggest of them. He (or she) looked to be strong, the perfect fit for a guard animal. With that logic, he had little hope for the runt of the litter.
"So, do you like the look of them?" Strorm asked. "Adorable little fellas, don't you think?"
"I don't care about adorable. I want strong, intelligent and loyal," Igor told him. "I shall have to test them one by one until I find the desired qualities. And you will have to help me."
"Oh, OK, I - WHAT?!" Strorm spluttered. The dragon hatchlings squealed and tried to hide from Strorm. The loud noise had scared them. Igor turned a withering gaze on the offending goblin.
"I don't want you to do that again, is that clear?" he asked in a low voice. Strorm nodded frantically. "Good. Now, your job is simple. I will give a gold coin to each dragon, and your job is to take the gold coins from them, one dragon at a time. I will choose the one who puts up the most struggle. You will start with the biggest one, and work your way down the litter."
Strorm watched as he gave a gold coin to each dragon, his gaze not moving as the dragons swelled slightly. Igor looked at him expectantly, and Strorm realized that this was his cue to start taking the coins. He reached out to take the coin from the biggest dragon hatchling, who whimpered and backed away, literally pushing the coin to Strorm, who took it and handed it to Igor. The old wizard shook his head sadly. He'd been hoping the biggest would be his best bet.
Strorm tested hatchling after hatchling by attempting to take the gold coin from them. They all gave the coin up without a fight, making the goblin nervous. One of these dragons was going to be adopted if it was the last thing he did. Eventually, he got to the smallest one, clutching the gold coin as strong as she could. When Strorm attempted to take the coin from her, she started biting his fingers and burning his skin, defending the coin from the thief at all costs. Strorm gave up after his scrubs caught fire, letting the spunky dragon hatchling keep the coin as he got a fire extinguisher to put out the growing flames. Igor was extremely impressed at the smallest dragon of the bunch. Last but not least didn't apply to her.
"Well, I suppose you'll want to take this little lady," Strorm said, gesturing to the only dragon that could keep their gold coin.
"Of course I will!" Igor boomed happily, nearly ripping Strorm's arm off in what he called a handshake. "For such a small and young dragon, she is willing to do everything she can to defend the coin. I will have to adopt her. Where is the adoption papers for this hatchling? What is its name?"
"This little one is called Doidru," Strorm informed. "Bark that's worse than her bite clearly doesn't apply."
"I can tell," Igor smiled. "Now, how long will I have to wait to take her?"
"Three days," Strorm replied.
"Good to know. Thank you for your help," Igor answered, striding out of the door. Strorm was left with the dragon hatchlings. Doidru looked proud of herself, while her older brother had the dragon equivalent of a pout on his face.
"Oh, don't make too much of a fuss about it," Strorm grinned, as he walked away. His shift was about to end for the day and he was hungry.
Three days later, Igor came back, with the adoption papers. Strorm handed them over to the receptionist to check as he went to get a very excited Doidru. The young dragon was sending fireballs into the walls and setting off the sprinkler system. Her siblings took cover under a blanket, but she didn't care. "Come on, little lady," Strorm muttered. "You're going to your new home now." He winced as her claws sunk into his skin, but he consoled himself with the fact that it was only for a little while. Strorm carried Doidru over to Igor, and that was where Doidru assumed the happy, tear-jerking reunion would occur, but not so. Instead, Doidru flew over to Igor's shoulder, perching herself there and raising her head as if she was superior to Strorm. Igor smiled at her.
"There's my girl," he muttered. "Let's go now, Doidru. I know some people who would love to meet you." And with that, the unlikely pair left. Strorm watched them go, and turned to get on with some clerical work. When he turned his back on an elf veterinarian, they giggled.
"I suppose your paycheck will be bigger than mine this month!" they joked. Strorm was confused, and checked his back for a silly note. No note. Then he checked to see if he'd forgotten anything . . . and that was when he realized the big bulge in one pocket. It had been filled with gold coins . . . and a note.
Thank you for helping me choose the right dragon. I hope this will be enough to repay you.
Strorm grinned. Rent would be easier with this sudden bonus. He'd have to thank Igor the next time he ran into him.