A day at the archaeological dig was many hours of painfully patient excavation for the occasional moment of exciting discovery. And the really exciting discoveries could put the whole site on hold.
Like right now.
Their greatest discovery on the site was a massive dragon structure. Its sinuous body curved around what the experts thought to be the upper boundary of the buried village. Some thought it was a sign of status for the village leader, some thought it was the village god, some thought the dragon was one of many that may have circled the village in the past. Whatever role the dragon played, they were certain of one thing. It used to have eyes.
In a stroke of luck, they had found what they believed to the missing eyes at a charity auction. An agent had won the bid for them, and now the eyes were on the way.
By the time the eyes arrived, everyone had found one excuse or another to be around the dragon. A step ladder had already been prepared, and one of the archaeologists climbed it to set the eyes in place.
They were a perfect fit.
With the eyes, the dragon looked infinitely more alive, as if at any moment…
Once, twice, thrice. With each blink, the eyes looked less like crystals and more alive. The dragon shifted, sending the gathered workers scrambling as earth loosened and fell. This wasn’t a statue. This was a real dragon!
The dragon howled and bucked free of the earth, then smashed through the ceiling like it wasn’t there and flew out of sight, leaving behind only a haunting cry in the wind.
Closer to the ground, a similarly haunted cry sounded.
“My proof!” the head archaeologist cried.
The workers had no such worry. They returned to their work in high spirits.
What a story they would have to tell.
Check out the related fic Eye of the Dragon.