21 January 2018 11:34 PM (musing)
Dragons know things Truly. They perceive things as they really are rather than reconstructing them from the disordered noise of sense perception. Unfortunately, the things of which they have true knowledge are Imaginary. All imaginary things. They're totally at a loss to deal with things as they are.
That's why they live in old caves with myths and legends surrounding them. The dragons don't inspire the myths, the myths fill the cave and coat it with a thick enough layer of fantasy for a dragon to feel and interact with. Modern, new-built homes, to be accessible to dragons, have elaborate Trompe-l'œil paintings all over the walls, creating the false illusion that some completely different kind of wall is there. The tiles of the floors have Braille on them and together narrate a fantastic story about a floor unlike the floor they make up.
Anyone who has seen a dragon's hoard knows that they don't just sleep on unrefined gold and uncut gems. They sleep on gold coins. On mythic suits of armor that are spoken of in stories. They sleep on jewels that were cut and named, given as pledges or to win the love of some other. Gold coins were a particular favorite because of how people thought about and trusted gold, and because they usually had flattering profiles and mottoes more respected in the breach than the keeping struck on them. The combination of belief and falsehood and general use gave a pleasant firmness many dragons appreciate in a bed. Nowadays gold is used much less often, the absolute, near religious faith that gold bugs and others have in its enduring value makes it far too hard for most dragons to enjoy. In fact, this is why people in the modern day hunt for dragons' hoards. Financial advisers have long noted that when things, at present USB sticks full of bitcoin, start being pushed out of a dragon's hoard into the world outside, that they are overvalued and about to crash.
Dragons, for obvious reasons, prefer old, old towns with lots of folklore to them or cities. Suburbs are very difficult for them to get a purchase on, but an old rural fishing village will usually have an ancient house where there's a ghost story for every floorboard and nail. Cities, especially the more famous ones, probably have the largest concentration of dragons in the world. They can often be found in old hotels, shuttered theaters, or the sites of spectacular disasters.
Dragons can perceive humans, of course. Humans are practically machines for making up stories about themselves, every aspect of their body and mind and action. That's one reason why the physical statue of a dragonslayer isn't nearly as important as the degree to which they believe in and live-up to the ideals they hold themselves to. Though most dragons, it should be pointed out, are fine creatures that should not be slain.
In older times, due to their perception and dietary requirements, they did end up eating people, since they did have the correct imaginary content running around and through them to be nutritious. (This was why princesses and other royalty were also particularly favored. The Divine Right of Kings and other trappings of the Ancien Régime made them quite delicious and filling.)
While dragons may have lost out in housing, due to haunted woods and thinking rivers being less believed-in, the modern age has been a bonanza for them in terms of nutrition. At no other time in history has food been so filled with myths and wonder as it is today. A bottle of pomegranate juice and a bit of wheat grass, a bowl of Frosted Flakes, even a bit of grey poupon has enough imaginary and mythic associations to sustain the hungriest dragon. Most dragons of my acquaintance tend to follow latest fad diets, and often grow prodigiously as a result of the great amounts of nutrition they provide.