DRAGON HOARD • by Cathleen Townsend

I looked at my extensive pile of gold in disgust.  Impressive, in a sense.  More wealth than many countries had at their disposal. But there was so much more to be made out there and nobody carried it around in coins anymore.  Everyone had credit cards and bank accounts.  And I couldn’t get them on my own.

I turned my attention to my current broker. He’d just handed me a summary of the past quarter, and it was encouraging. Not only because it showed a healthy profit, (I expected that), but because he had taken his agreed-upon five percent, and not a penny more. This one was definitely smarter than his three predecessors.

“The spike in gold prices has definitely helped,” he was saying. “Our hostile takeovers are all well in hand.”

I referred back to the figures. “None of them show fifty-one percent.” I snorted a smoke ring to remind him profit wasn’t everything. I already had wealth. Power was something else.

“You’ve just got to be patient,” he said, and his scent communicated sincerity along with the expected surge of fear. “If we do this too fast, prices surge and your net gain is lost. And other shareholders may unite against you if they see it happening too fast. We’re trying to optimize your profit potential.” I barely stopped myself from blowing another smoke ring. I hated business-speak. At least I had stopped his inane chatter about paradigm shifts and synergy.

It was just as well I had turned my mind to other avenues. “I want you to investigate currencies for me.”

He nodded. “I was going to suggest it. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as making money off of money.” He embellished this with some more syllables and promised to bring me a plan next week.

I spent the intervening time investigating venture capital investments and privately held companies which were for sale outright. Nothing there. They were selling for a good reason, and I for one could read the death rattle in the neat columns of figures. And I wasn’t about to risk money on gold mines in countries that allowed strikes.

At our appointed time, my broker came to my cave and handed me his currency proposal. I gave it some serious attention. Interesting. Creative, and not too dependent on hair-trigger timing, although it went without saying he’d be watching it carefully.

“I like it. Your plan for the euro seems promising.” He stood a little straighter, which was a relief. I liked them submissive, but cringing annoyed me. “And I’ve worked up an idea for precious metals.” I indicated a proposal on the left side of the antique walnut desk.

I settled back as he read, scratching my shoulder against a particularly fine ruby-encrusted goblet. Nothing settled an itch quite like rubies. I made myself a mental note to keep it back during the next phase. My broker cleared his throat.

“It’s elegant in its simplicity, sir, but we can’t do this.”

“Why not?” I hadn’t missed anything important when it came to money in centuries.

“A plan of this magnitude… flooding the market to depress the price of gold so we can buy up more…” His voice trailed off, and he took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “It’s wrong, sir. A plan like this could cause massive instability. Wars have started over less.”

I suppressed a head shake; he was already afraid enough. I supposed this was the liability that came with an honest stockbroker; none of his predecessors would have hesitated. “Very well. I will come up with a new plan.”

He turned to go and froze in agony as the flames enveloped his body. It was time for lunch anyway.

Damn. Now I needed to find an honest, unprincipled stockbroker.

Avid reader, lover of fairy tales, Cathleen Townsend resides in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.

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