"We do. But, we live for a very long time. Far, far longer than any human lifetime. We may not die of old age at all. No one that I know of has, yet. And I am one of the oldest of us. Occasionally we will have friendly contests amongst ourselves, especially the younger ones, but after awhile, you've either beaten or been beaten by everyone there is to fight, and the appeal fades. And, not all of us fight humans for entertainment."
"You don't?" George was startled. Why else would they fight? Did dragons fear humans? Of course they didn't. What a silly idea. But, what if they fought out of hatred? Before George could vocalize this concern, the dragon went on.
"I said that none of has died of old age. But eventually, one gets...tired. There's simply nothing left. We are not easy creatures to kill, as you should know, and suicide is rarely quick or painless for a dragon. And, killing another dragon..." The creature seemed at a loss for words. "It is...not done. Ever. The idea of killing any other dragon, especially one you've known for most of a very long life..." Clearly, the dragon was having trouble. "Well, all known dragonkillers have been insane. They were not aware of reality. So, when a dragon is ready to die, he advertises his presence, and fights those who come."
"You let yourselves get killed?
"Of course. You believe a knight could kill a dragon any other way?"
"Well, my father..." George trailed off. Perhaps discussing his father was not the best idea in the present company.
"Yes, what about your father?"
"Um, never mind. It was nothing." He sensed a change of topic would be fortuitous. "OK, so you set things up so humans would kill you when you wanted to die, instead of killing yourselves. But what about me? Why not just kill me?"
"Perhaps if I had an opportunity to speak without interruption, I could get to that." George looked at his feet sheepishly, but kept quiet. "Some dragons fight humans for sport, some for an end. But fighting is not all we do. Though, other activities are prey to the same flaw. You've done everything with everyone too many times. But you humans are unlike any dragon. You have so very different views of the world, and your own place in it. Some of us enjoy simply talking to you. That's part of the reason for the illusion. You don't seem to like reptiles very much, so giant lizards are easier to hate, and also, it helps weed out the sensitive ones. The ones who really pay attention to the world around them. In short, the interesting ones." George digested this in silence. This dragon was interested in him! Dragons liked curions humans. Strange.
All of a sudden, George noticed he was hungry. He wondered how long they had been talking; it must have been hours. He considered asking for more food, but he found himself reluctant to break off the conversation. He had been enjoying talking to this strange, yet facinating creature. And he still didn't have a name for him. George marveled at himself; he now felt completely at ease, if still somewhat perplexed, with an enormous feline dragon whom he'd been terrified by only hours before. He never felt this comfortable around humans after less than a day. It had taken him months to work up the courage to begin courting Lucida, and he was still antsy around her. It reminded George of the fact that he loved to be around animals, and that he seemed to understand them so much better than his fellow homo sapiens. This got him thinking about his first pet, an old tomcat of his father's named Sir Julian. A pet cat had always seemed so out of caracter for his father. But still...And then George knew what name he would call the dragon.
"Um, I have a couple of issues to discuss. First, well, I'd like some food." Geoge said somewhat apologetically.
"Of course. I sometimes forget that humans percieve time in such a small way, and must eat at such akwardly small intervals." The dragon closed his eyes for a bit, then opened them again and looked down at George. "You will find food in the same place as before." George thanked him, and turned to find the food, then turned back around.
"Oh! I wanted to tell you, I thought of a name."
"It's, well, Sir Julian." The dragon- Sir Julian, looked startled, but (George thought) pleased, as well.
"Really. Sir Julian."
"It was the name of my father's cat. I was very close to that cat," George felt the urge to explain, in response to the dragon's startlement. Sir Julian looked even more surprised, and very thoughtful.
"Your father's cat," Julian repeated. The hopeful young man felt disappointed. He'd really thought it was a good name, but the dragon didn't seem to like it very much. "Oh, I do like it, I'm...a little...disconcerted, but I certainly like it. You may eat now, if you wish." George blushed and wrung his hands.
"Um...well...I don't remember which tunnel it was..." George trailed off in the face of the dragon's gently rumbling laughter.
"It's the third one to your left. Now get on." George
grinned in thanks and quickly backed off.