The first thing I did upon rising from my long sleep was this; I yawned. Then I stood, and went looking for the idiot who'd woke me up.

As it turned out, it was an ogre. He'd wandered onto my territory without realizing it'd already been claimed by somebody else. When I saw him, he was standing at the edge of my cave, trying to figure out why he couldn't eat the tree growing outside of my door. The fact that it was carved into the side of the mountain didn't seem to phase him.

"Small creature, remove thyself from these lands and get thee away from here while thy life is still thine," I said imperiously.

The ogre, with amazing clarity and wit for one of his species, spake thusly:

"Dur?"

Remembering who I was talking to, I revised my earlier statement. "Go away. Shoo."

The ogre pondered this for several minutes. Feeling benevolent, I used the time to stretch my wings rather than just skewering him with my claws. I was supposed to eliminate intruders, but after all, it wasn't like he was going to steal all the treasures of the mountain. I doubt he would have known a treasure if I'd thrown it at him.

Finally, having managed to discern the meaning of my strange words, the ogre looked at me and responded, "Kitty!"

That was not exactly what I was hoping for. Deciding to end this as easily as possible, I reached out and thwapped him with my paw. He squealed at the impact, and went sailing into the air. He flew across the valley, stupidly flapping his arms and yelling "Bad kitty!" at the top of his lungs. I saw him crashland near the old castle, casting a crater into the dirt and flattening hapless nearby trees.

That taken care of, I turned back to check on my charge.

My cave is a very nice place. The ancient humans built it, carving it out of the side of the mountain and lining it with tapestries depicting all sorts of odd things. Battles, mostly, with a few dragons and spellcasters. The same enchantment that bound me kept the place young, no matter how long I slept. The gold that carpeted the floor was still shiny as it had been when this country was new.

Trotting back to my original resting place, I ignored the riches scattered haphazardly about the hall. I was getting quite popular, I thought to myself, noting several new magical objects that hadn't been there on my last waking.

You see, I work for a group of premier wizards. There are six of them, each one specializing in a different element. Some time ago, they hired me to guard the most dangerous and valuable magical items in the world. I would watch their stuff, basically, only waking when someone or something entered the wards about the cave and triggered the alarm. This meant that I could sleep for ages without knowing it, and time had passed me by long ago. I didn't actually know that those first six mages were still alive. New stuff didn't mean old mages. Anyone who knew a simple teleport spell could send an item to my cave. It was getting the stuff back that was difficult.

In return for this, I would never age, never hunger, and anything in the cave officially belonged to me. Time wasn't that important to me anyway. My kind are rare, and don't particularly like each other much. I had had few friends and no family at all when I agreed to do this. That hadn't changed, so I continued my work. I appreciated the chance that this job offered me to see civilizations evolve and die .

Forgetful I am not. The books and rings and what-have-you all about the cave were not the most important thing. The real treasure was hidden in a small, bare room, behind a stone door.

I pulled the door back, throwing my weight into the effort and wincing against the icy sting of its enchantment. It moved aside grudgingly, grating loudly against the floor. I am not weak, but opening that door had always been an effort. No mere human could hope to get past it without my help, or the help of a Dragon. The door was even specially made to be resistant to any kind of magic. Casting lightningbolts on it only made it stronger. It leeched magic from anything that touched it.

That hurt. Always had. I am magic, I live off of magic, and being drained left me feeling tired and irritable. I shouldered the door aside and stepped into the little chamber.

The room looked just as desolate as always. Rough hewn stone floor, mouldering walls, and a ceiling cracked with decay. It smelled like a crypt, and had a cold, echoing feel to it that had nothing to do with any physical reality.

A small pool of silver light fell on the middle of the chamber, resting on an inoffensive stone pedestal. Atop the pedestal was a bladeless sword-hilt fashioned into the likeness of a red dragon, carved from dragon bone and dyed with dragon blood. The wings swept back and around to form the handguard, and the mouth of the dragon was open in an endless roar. Its eyes were bright yellow gemstones, still glinting even under the dust of age.

This was the real purpose of the cave, all the enchantments, and my continued existance. It was the sword of the royal family of Zerandoan, and its name was Xerakath. It held unimaginable power.

Of course, at the moment, it was just a hilt without a blade, a sword without a weilder. Posessed by a kind of mischevious playfulness, I batted at it with my paw.

It fell off of the pededestal and hit the floorstones with a dry rattle. There was nothing special about the pedestal beyond the human flair for dramatics. I turned my back to it and curled up on the floor, resting my snout across my forepaws. I didn't need to stay awake any longer, and with any luck something interesting would happen next time.

I'll admit, I am a little jealous of that sword. Last time I had been out and about, there were dozens of adventurers looking for the stupid thing, searching in the weirdest places and being randomly slaughtered by irate lesser dragons who didn't like having their caves disturbed. Not one of them had ever even heard of the guardian! It seemed I had disappeared from local folklore, and that didn't make me very happy. If that many people thought it would be possible to obtain the sword, I had been completely forgotten, or at least dismissed out of hand.

I had some trouble falling asleep. That happens whenever I spend less than a few days up and running, so I knew it was more a case of terminal boredom than anything else. Again, I stood and walked about my cave.

I looked at some of the strange objects I had come to posess, pausing to examine my face in a mirror that was supposed to show true natures to the viewer. Oddly enough, it showed me exactly as I am, heheh. There was a human girl standing behind me, though, which was really pretty confusing. I'm a girl, but I'm sure not human. I drained what magic I could from that mirror, figuring that it wasn't very useful anyway. I needed the fuel for my next long sleep.

After that I found a book that I hadn't seen before. It was thick, but all of the pages were blank. With some experimenting I realized it would automatically write down whatever someone was saying to it in an odd, angular script that was nevertheless readable. I have no idea why it was there. It didn't seem particularly dangerous or valuable to me.

With nothing else to do, I spoke this journal entry to it. And now, I am going to go and get some sleep. I don't really feel like checking to see how long I was asleep this time. Something tells me I wouldn't like this age very much anyway.

Oh, wait, I'm supposed to sign this.

...

Baleroth the Guardian