Accounting for Dragons
by Eric James Stone
Most dragons rarely think about accounting. But you've worked hard to acquire
that hoard of gold and jewels -- shouldn't you be keeping track of what happens
to it? Just sitting on it isn't good enough any more. That's why you need
accounting. Here are some tips:
Tip One: A Copper Saved Is a Copper Earned
Your hoard isn't just valuable to you; it's valuable to thieves. Once word gets out
that you're sitting on a big pile of treasure, it isn't long before they come skulking
about, their greedy hands trying to snatch the things you've gained through honest
Dragons may have the reputation of knowing every single item in their hoard,
down to the last copper, but the fact of the matter is that only a tiny fraction of
dragons can remember more than six or seven thousand individual pieces before
they all start to blur together. Admit it -- you really aren't sure whether you have
twenty-seven ruby-encrusted platinum goblets, or only twenty-six.
But thanks to proper accounting, you can have a complete inventory of everything
in your hoard. That way, if you find something is missing, you can go on a
rampage across the countryside or demand a virgin as a sacrifice unless your
treasure is returned.
Tip Two: Plan for Taxes
The Dragon King will always demand his share, but you need to remember: it's
your hoard, not the king's. There are legitimate deductions you can take to reduce
the amount you pay in taxes.
For example, did you know that knight insurance can be written off as a legitimate
expense? Defending yourself against those pests in plate-mail is something that
happens in the ordinary course of business. A good knight-insurance policy will
cover not only dents in your scales and arrows through your wings, but also full
reimbursement for any treasure you have to give out to make the knight go away.
Also, many dragons forget that alternative forms of income, such as virgin
sacrifices, are taxable, too, and they get a nasty surprise when the tax bill arrives.
Plan to set aside some treasure to cover those unexpected extra taxes.
Tip Three: Keep Good Records
In case of a tax audit, you need to have good records. But that's not the only
Imagine the following scenario. You swoop down out of the sky onto some
innocent village. Your teeth and talons are sharpened. Your breath is smoky
fresh. But before you can rend flesh from bone and set the buildings ablaze, some
village elder comes out with documentation showing they sacrificed a virgin to
you earlier in the year. It's enough to make you slink away with your tail dragging
in the mud.
You can avoid such embarrassment by recording all of your income, including
sacrificial virgins. Note down the amount, the source, and the date.
Good recordkeeping also allows you to be more proactive. For example, you may
notice that a particular village is late in offering a sacrifice. Then it's your choice
whether to demand an immediate sacrifice or to wreak havoc on the village.
Tip Four: Hire a Good Accountant
Maybe you're just too busy. Or maybe you're bad at math. For whatever reason,
you may decide to hire an accountant rather than do the work yourself. Generally,
you have two options when it comes to hiring an accountant.
A dragon accountant can be expensive, although he usually pays for himself
through tax savings.
For the more cost-conscious dragon, a smarter choice is to find a human
accountant who will gladly do all your accounting without charging you a single
copper, simply in return for not being eaten. Over the long term, the savings can
really add up.
"That's the end," I said after I finished reading the brochure. The echo of my
voice faded away inside the cave.
"I'd never realized the advantages," said the dragon. Its black tongue flickered out
to moisten its scaly lips. "After I eat you, I'll have to find myself an accountant."
I cleared my throat. "By sheer coincidence," I said, "it turns out that I'm an
accountant. That's why I happened to have the brochure with me."
"An accountant?" The gold and jewels of the dragon's hoard sparkled as he
snorted flame. "The village elders claimed you were a virgin!"
"Strange as it may seem," I said, "the two are not mutually exclusive."
"Oh," said the dragon. "Well, then, I suppose you'll do. You'll work for not
"I would find that quite satisfactory," I said. "Plus, there's a substantial tax
benefit to you, because an uneaten virgin sacrifice doesn't count as income. Now,
let's review your financial situation. I'll need to see your tax returns for the past
three years, your current knight insurance policy . . ."
"But I don't have a knight insurance policy," said the dragon.
"Really? You're in luck." With a broad smile, I reached into my pocket. "I just
happen to have a brochure with me called Insurance for Dragons."