Summary: A dragon slayer arrives to rescue a threatened town, but the real threat—and the dragon’s true desires—are not necessarily one and the same.
“What Dragons Prefer” first appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Fall 1994; and republished in Dragons: A Celebration of the Greatest of Mythical Creatures, January 1996. You can also listen to the story as a podcast at Podcastle!
Thoughts: A short little story that wastes no time on setup and characterization when that isn’t really what’s important to the main point of the story itself. There’s more than a fair share of moralizing in the 800+ words of the tale, but it thankfully isn’t so heavyhanded that you find yourself rolling your eyes and wishing that the author would get off their high horse.
Actually, the moralizing serves a wonderful purpose in the end, with the ultimate “what goes around comes around” twist regarding the mayor. I liked it. It was dark and amusing, and I couldn’t help but smile at somebody getting their comeuppance.
I suspect I might have to see much more of what Dermatis has written, after this. Stylistically, it’s tight and easy-going, and creative, and I like to see that in an author. This story, at least, is definitely worth a dark chuckle.