"...Then the ancient dusk-scather
Found the great treasure standing all open,
He who flaming and fiery flies to the barrows,
Naked war-dragon, nightly escapeth
Encompassed with fire; men under heaven
Widely beheld him. ’Tis said that he looks for4
The hoard in the earth, where old he is guarding
The heathenish gold..."
This came as a result of rereading Beowulf. The Barrow Wyrm from the last third of the poem is the basis for most of the really classic English dragons: it hoards gold, breathes fire, has a venomous bite, and flies into a shrieking, murderous rage if it's disturbed. This old beast has been guarding its hoard for so long that its once-brilliant scales have turned white, but it's still pretty spry--as poor Beowulf is about to find out.