It was always a target. And while Vegas might have been a better one, still, the casinos of Reno would be enough to attract any noble, covetous dragon. The allure of instant wealth would just be too great.
Or perhaps it was the flames of a flotilla of hot air balloons rising into the pre-dawn sky. Who knew that the annual Dawn Patrol would be the cause of such doom? But there it was. Summoned, as if seeing his brethren breathing fire into the night sky, he came sweeping down from the mountains. A rush of wind, the hot air balloons swaying and veering off course as his massive wings beat around them. And then, in his disgust, each balloon was hit by a jet of fire, their own tiny flames being utterly engulfed as the balloons caught, great torches burning in the sky of Reno. Burning brightly, before the baskets plummeted earthwards and the dragon flew on to the sparkling lights of downtown.
I saw him curled on top of the Atlantis, surveying the casinos around. Then with a great leap, he took flight and, looping twice around the downtown, dropped like a striking falcon towards the entrance to Harrah’s. He blasted an entrance and pushed his way in.
A few players at the slot machines glanced up, bleary-eyed from all-nighters spent in front of the glowing screens, then they all turned back and pressed a glowing button once more. The blackjack players didn’t even look up as a roar announced the dragon’s arrival. But a roar of joy, or disappointment?
For times are changing. Amidst all the glitter and unrivaled tackiness, the nods to gold and jewels, the sound of money… amidst all of these, very little treasure exists. For what dragon would be content with an electronic funds transfer? Wealth is to be bathed in, treasured, hoarded. What self-respecting dragon could pin up a bank statement in an empty treasure hall? No matter the number of zeros on the balance.
The last I saw him, he was huddled in front of a penny slot machine, the claws of one hand curled around a pitcher of vodka tonic. I’ve avoided Harrah’s since then. Would hate to face the wrath of a dragon after a run of bad luck.