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About five years ago, I read a longer short story in an anthology about a village with a giant village-sized dragon. A girl wanders inside the dragon, gets lost, and ends up living inside the dragon for many years before finally escaping.

During her time in the dragon, the girl discovers:

  • A red plant that works as a stimulant and a blue plant that works as a depressant (might have the colors wrong)
  • A boy who initially provides her with much needed human comfort, but later becomes addicted to one of the aforementioned plants and stops being useful
  • Where the heart of the dragon is. She likes to listen to its strong, rhythmic beat
  • A ghost plant that can grow into the shape of a person and allow that person to reincarnate with a new body
  • A race of short, mentally-stunted humanoids living inside the dragon. She befriends them briefly before realizing that she can use them to escape the dragon and does so
  • Something about the phrase “accidentally enters a dragon” makes me think of Khal Drogo… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 8 '16 at 5:42
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This is a footnote to John Winkelman's answer - please accept his answer rather than this one as he has correctly identified the anthology. Since I have the book I thought I'd provide some details.

The story is The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter by Lucius Shepard. I found it in the Fantasy Masterworks anthology simply called The Dragon Griaule. The girl who get's lost in the body of the dragon is the aforementioned daughter and is called Catherine. She kills a man called Key who raped her and flees into the dragon to escape the veangence of Key's brothers.

  • A red plant that works as a stimulant and a blue plant that works as a depressant (might have the colors wrong)

I think you've misremembered this bit. The depressant, brianine, comes from pools of liquid and the sitimulant comes from a lichen:

From these liquids she derived a potent narcotic that she named brianine after her nemesis, and from a lichen growing on the outer surface of the lungs, she derived a powerful stimulant.

  • A boy who initially provides her with much needed human comfort, but later becomes addicted to one of the aforementioned plants and stops being useful

Not a boy, but a man named John Colmacos who is injured his leg and becomes addicted to brianine after using it to help with the pain:

  • Where the heart of the dragon is. She likes to listen to its strong, rhythmic beat

The story is basically a quest to find the dragon's heart, however the heart isn't beating:

Like one of those enormous Tibetan sculptures of the Buddha constructed within a tower only a trifle larger than the sculpture itself, Griaule's unbeating heart was a dimpled golden shape as vast as a cathedral and was enclosed within a chamber whose walls left a gap six feet wide around the organ.

  • A ghost plant that can grow into the shape of a person and allow that person to reincarnate with a new body

This is the ghostvine. When Catherone first meets it the ghostvine has produced a copy of Catherine that claims to be her future self.

  • A race of short, mentally-stunted humanoids living inside the dragon. She befriends them briefly before realizing that she can use them to escape the dragon and does so.

These are the Feelys. They are described as:

They’re most of them the descendants of a retarded man named Feely who wandered into the mouth almost a thousand years ago.

  • It'd have been okay for you to edit other answer if you want the OP to accept it. – Xantec Feb 7 '16 at 13:21
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    @Xantec: true, but I put quite a bit of work into writing up these details and it would be nice to get an upvote or two for my effort :-) – John Rennie Feb 7 '16 at 13:41
  • Plus also, people occasionally get scolded for "changing the answer too much" when they do that. :) – FuzzyBoots Feb 7 '16 at 14:16
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    Excellent post! You deserve the credit (and answer) for this one. – JohnWinkelman Feb 7 '16 at 18:51
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    Have you been reading too much German academic literature? That's usually where you find footnotes five times as long as the main text. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 8 '16 at 5:40
5

Possibly one of the Dragon Griaule stories by Lucius Shepard? Griaule is a dormant dragon upon which a village has been built, and the stories explore the effect upon the villager of living in, on and around it.

  • 1
    Thank you John, I've been looking for this story forever and just requested a copy from my library – dinnerPlaht Feb 9 '16 at 3:16
  • You are welcome! It is a superb book, and Griaule is an under-appreciated dragon. – JohnWinkelman Feb 9 '16 at 14:03

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