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Here Be Dragons

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Author's Note:

The illustration above has been drawn by yours truly, and isn't supposed to be taken seriously :) I do, meanwhile, have an Instagram and a DeviantArt, if you're interested, and more about my other art/writing/musings can be found on my blog: http://kolmakov.ca/

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Chapter One

What The Thrush Forgot to Mention

“And those who doubted us will rue this day!” Thorin roared, shaking the Erebor key in his hand, the secret door finally ajar in front of him, and the company shouted and cheered in their triumph.

Which ebbed couple hours later when the Halfling, who’d gone down to find the Arkenstone, didn’t come back. And then the level of enthusiasm from the company dropped even lower, when a deafening rumble of what definitely wasn’t an earthquake rushed through the mountain.

Balin softly nudged Thorin towards the door, claiming that they needed to make sure the burglar was alright. Thorin swallowed his suggestion for the old geezer to go and check on the Halfling himself, and made a few cautious steps towards the door.

“I fear for you, Thorin,” Balin continued droning at the background. “You’re not yourself.”

He’d be a roasted mutton and not himself if he went, Thorin wanted to say; but duty called, as they say.

“Bilbo needs your help,” Balin announced in the same annoying pathos filled tone, and Thorin threw him a glare. Bilbo’s needs sort of seemed less important at the prospect of a live serpent cooking itself a Dwarf-Hobbit kebab.

Thorin sighed and entered the passage.

He could feel a low hum, vibrating through the walls, and there was a distinct smell of smoke in the air. The nostalgia and homesickness Thorin had been feeling towards the said walls stepped to the back of his mind, replaced by an acute sensation of unease. Thorin did not have suicidal tendencies, and the unmistakable noise of something huge moving in the halls below, accompanied by the sounds of Erebor riches shifting about, made him doubt his lifestyle. Perhaps, they did have life plentiful and peaceful in the Blue Mountains. Who needed the damn mountain anyroad?

Holding an uncomfortably long Lake Town sword in his hand, Thorin peeked around the corner. He regretted his eyes weren’t on sticks like snails had. He felt acutely worried to show his head in the doorframe of the Thror’s Chamber.

A Dwarf with less smarts would have felt awed and ogled the gold at the moment, but Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror was no dimwit. What seemed like the end of a dragon tail was a much more worthy object to direct one’s attention at.

And also, wasn’t Smaug more brown and red? Or was Thorin’s memory from a hundred seventy years ago failing him? This tail was surely more orange and gold, and… skinnier?

“And then we were in the river! In the barrels! And it was like being washed by a very enthusiastic washer woman!” Bilbo’s merry voice rang through the hall, and Thorin froze in disbelief. “Tossed and turned, I tell you! I have swallowed so much water!”

“Oh my,” a low, rumbly, very-dragon voice answered. “That sounds most terrifying!”

Thorin blinked and considered cleaning his ears. He hadn’t actually spoken to Smaug all those decades ago. All they had heard from him was a ‘roar-rwah-rwah,’ but surely he wasn’t supposed to sound so polite and… considerate?

“I know!” Bilbo huffed out. “And then Orcs attacked us!”

“Orcs? Oh no!” chimed in the rumbly voice. “I simply hate those pests!”

Thorin decided he had gone either mad, or ill with some fever.

“And there was all the shooting, and Elves were jumping about like fleas, and Bombur fought with two axes!” Bilbo continued oversharing with the dragon.

“Is Bombur the one… well, who is on the rounder side?” the presumable dragon asked mannerly. “Don’t doubt it, you have described them wonderfully, it is just a bit too much new knowledge for the scatterbrained old me.”

“Yes, Bombur is the round one. And then Thorin threw a giant weapon, and Dwalin was hacking left and right!” Bilbo was getting more and more excited with each moment.

“Oh, please, no gory details! I have just eaten, ten years ago, and I’m not sure I can withstand any descriptions of violence.”

That was the end of Thorin’s endurance, and he stepped into the open.

The dragon was not Smaug.

It was smaller, golden and orange, sitting on its backside, its tail coiled around it in a poised manner. Bilbo was perched in front of it on a pile of Erebor gold, gesturing wildly.

There was something very cat like about the dragon’s muzzle. The eyes were green and slanted, shining like the best Ered Luin emeralds. It was pressing its clawed paws to its armoured chest.

“And then what?” the dragon asked, and then something clanked under Thorin’s foot, and the emerald eyes shifted onto him.

And then the dragon emitted a sound. It was a squeak. Exactly the squeak a housewife would emit upon seeing a mouse. Except due to the size and the roundness of the dragon’s lower half the squeak was intensified and echoed tenfold.

“What’s that?” the dragon asked Bilbo, and pointed at Thorin with its index finger claw.

“Oh, it’s Thorin. Remember? The leader of our company,” Bilbo answered, and Thorin gave him a glare.

“Oh!” The lips of the dragon’s muzzle rounded. “That’s a Dwarf? I’ve never seen a Dwarf in my life. So exciting!” And then the dragon clapped its paws in a strangely frivolous and… feminine? - manner.

“Yes, it’s a Dwarf. There are nine more outside,” Bilbo answered eagerly. What was wrong with the cursed Halfling? He was giving up all the strategic information!

“That’s marvellous!” The dragon as much as bobbed on its round… and surprisingly proportionate? - bottom. And then it gave Thorin a jolly wave of its paw. “Hello!”

Thorin couldn’t find his voice, and then all of a sudden the beast stretched its hand and the scaly fingers wrapped around him. The paw was scorching! Thorin thrashed in the grasp, which was thankfully not too tight.

He was lifted, rushed through the air, and held in front of the dragon’s muzzle… or face?

“Wow...” the dragon breathed out. The breath was warm and smelled of campfire… and oregano?! “And actual Dwarf. I mean, I’ve heard stories, but… wow!”

“Jorenna, this is Thorin, son of Thrain. Thorin, this is Jorenna,” the Hobbit made the introductions.

“Where’s Smaug?” were the first words Thorin managed to rasp out. He was in no way squeezed, but breathing proved difficult from the dizzying spinning his head was doing.

“He moved to a new place, somewhere North,” the dragon apparently called Jorenna answered readily. “I have his new address somewhere. Do you want me to fetch it?” The tone was endlessly amicable and polite.

“Moved?” Thorin repeated like an imbecile.

“Yup. Sold me this place for two herds of sheep, and moved. I think it was quite a catch for me, don’t you think?” The dragon patted the gold hill it was sitting on With the other paw. “Dry, no drafts, perfectly ventilated, and I’ve never slept better than on this gold.” It shifted on its bottom, side to side, demonstratively. “I tell you, whoever gathered all this bedding was a genius!”

“I collected this bedding! I mean, gold!” Thorin barked. “My family!”

“Oh...” the dragon breathed out. “You mean...”

“I mean, it is our mountain! It belonged to the Dwarves before Smaug usurped it! And it is my family’s gold your… backside is on!”

Suddenly, the dragon’s cheeks flamed. Literally. What was apparently a dragonian equivalent of a blush was red hot fire flaring up under the scales on the dragon's… cheekbones? Did dragons have cheekbones?

“Well, that is… unfortunate,” the one called Jorenna muttered.

“Smaug devastated this kingdom and killed my people a hundred and seventy years ago,” Thorin pressed on.

“Oh no, he killed… Dwarves?! How awful!” the dragon exclaimed. “But you are so cute! Small, and sturdy, and furry!”

Thorin ignore the ‘small’ description, and even more so ‘sturdy’ and ‘furry.’ He was neither, but it was surely a wrong time to argue. Firstly, it was still a dragon in front of him. Secondly, it was clearly not quite right in the head. It seemed to lack any homicidal tendencies, and more so, seemed to feel sorry for his people. Thorin wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste.

“Aye, killed most of us,” he added tragic note to his tone. “Squished, stomped on, but mostly gobbled up! Women, and children! The old, the sick, the limp, the blind, the deaf...”

The dragon’s eyes filled with giant boiling tears. Literally. The enormous drops of water hung on the - surprisingly long? - lashes, and then disappeared in clouds of steam.

Thorin went on, “The orphans, the bankrupt, the hungry, the dyslexic, the...”

“Oh stop!” the dragon wailed. “This is horrible! So horrible!” It sobbed, and unceremoniously dropped Thorin on the ground. It then started wiping its eyes, sniffling deafeningly.

“We had to run, and since then we had no home, no food... no shoes!” Thorin hollered in his best forlorn tone, and the dragon started to weep.

“No shoes!” it parroted, and more tears rolled, this time a few actually dropping to the ground. Thorin scooted away from the scolding waterfall. “Is this true, Bilbo?” the dragon asked, and Bilbo gave it a nod, probably encouraged by Thorin’s meaningful stare.

The dragon emitted another series of sobs, and then curled into a ball, wrapping its tail around it, knocking couple columns down in the process. It looked remarkably like a cat now.

“The world is such a terrifying, cruel place...” The dragon named Jorenna’s voice came from somewhere deep among its tight coils. “So cruel...”

That wasn’t the result Thorin was aiming for! He had had a small hope there for a moment that the beast might decide to vacate their mountain since it felt it had been unfairly taken from them. Thorin didn’t expect it to get depressed and go for a nap!

“Hey, dragon… lady?” Thorin called, but all that came from the scaly knot was a long desolate moan.

To be continued...