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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... 

Chapter Text

Author's note:

Please read the announcement at the end of the chapter, where I'm asking for your support, and you can get a FREE COPY of my new cheery book out of it ;)

Cheers,

Katya Kolmakov


Thorin edged towards a scaly side of the tail, and considered poking it with the sword. On the other hand, there was a chance that the dragon's epidermis, with its smaller and gentler? - scales, was more sensitive than that of Smaug, which they had unsuccessfully tried to penetrate with Dwarven axes and spears a hundred and seventy years ago.

"Um… my lady?" Thorin tried calling to the beast again. Another long shuddered sigh came from the coils. "Would it be possible to… perhaps, discuss the question of a potential transfer of your real estate property?" Thorin thought that was a good line of negotiations. Trade was good - Thorin knew trade.

The horned head moved, and one eye peeped from behind yet another… curve? - of the serpent's body.

"Do you mean, you want me to sell the Mountain to you?" The tone was uncertain. Finally, Thorin thought, some cogs were moving in that incrustated belfry.

"I don't have much to offer, my lady," Thorin mournfully looked under his feet, remembering that, firstly, the worm was apparently prone to outburst of sobby pity; and secondly, Thorin knew trade. Never offer to part with a bag of silver, when a handful could suffice - any Dwarf knew that. "My people have led a poor life, full of toil and humiliation, since we left the mountain…"

"I'm not moving out of this mountain," the dragon interrupted him firmly, and… did it just pout? "I'm sorry about your people… You're really cute ones. Well, at least you are… But I'm not moving out. Especially not in November, no, no..." It sat up and shook it head. "It's cold, and the Winter is coming."

"But it's our mountain!" Thorin snapped, and the dragon narrowed its - catlike? - eyes at him.

"No, it's not. I bought it from Smaug." It crossed its front paws on its chest. "And now I understand why he sold it for just two herds of sheep to me. He mentioned that it might get a pest problem; but I thought he meant goblins. And those are no aggro, really. You just puff a bit of smoke and fire in a couple of passages, and they usually make themselves scarce the same night. But now I get it!" One claw pointed at Thorin. "This is what it was all about. He knew you'd be back. So, no, no, sorry, but no."

Thorin clenched his jaw. Let's be clear here, when coming to the Lonely Mountain, he had kept in mind that he might have to fight a fire-breathing dragon. The problem was that now it would be sort of… uncivilised? The worm was polite; didn't try to attack him or his people; and besides, in a way, it was… sort of… a lady.

"Could you perhaps… cohabitate here?" the Halfling squeaked from his corner, and Thorin threw him a glare, taken aback. The proud Khazad of Erebor, and a worm? Never!

"No, no, I don't think it's a good idea," the dragon started muttering, wriggling its fingers. "I'm not taking tenants; and after all, they might wake up the baby."

"Baby?!" Thorin and Bilbo hollered in unison, and the dragon nodded.

"Yes, baby. Her name is Mirabella. Just an egg for now, but there is a tiny crack already. Another couple of dozens of moons, and she'll be here." The dragon's muzzle stretched in a dreamy grin.

The Hobbit scattered off his pile of gold and came up to fuming Thorin. And then the damn Halfling pulled at Thorin's sleeve, dragging him aside, and started whispering feverishly.

"Thorin, you can't extradite an expecting mother from her home! That's just inhumane!"

"It's not an expecting mother!" Thorin hissed back, cutting his eyes to the worm. "It's a fire-breathing dragon, with another one on the way. To say nothing of the fact that we still don't know where the daddy is. Which reminds me..."

Thorin tried to twist out of the Halfling's tight grip.

"Oi, my lady! And where is the father of your child?"

The dragon, previously busy with straightening out the osteoderms on its tail, lifted its eyes at him. And then its cheeks flamed up again, and it blinked spasmodically.

"Well, that is quite an inappropriate question, isn't it?" the dragon mumbled, and shifted on its round bottom. "And sort of… none of your business, Master Dwarf." It huffed a small cloud of smoke, and then added in a forced haughty tone, "It's my egg, just mine. I mean, if a dragon happens to have a one month stand, and then decides to bring up her spawn on her own, who cares who was there to provide the second set of DNA?"

Thorin understood little out of her blabbering, but clearly, the father of the egg was out of the picture. At least, they had to deal with one… and a half? - dragon, and not a whole family.

Thorin of course could just try to purchase - or otherwise procure - the Arkenstone from the dragon, since acquiring the gem and ensuring his right to the throne was one of the main goals of the quest; but a chance of getting Erebor back was just too tempting to pass.

Thorin frowned and sighed. As much as he despised it, indeed, the cohabitation with the snake was apparently the only option he could think of at the moment. He finally extricated his sleeve out of the Hobbit's fingers, and came up to the dragon.

"My lady, I understand your feelings," he said in a purposefully respectful, soft voice. "But please, understand mine as well. We came here to reclaim our home. And I have a whole people, without a home, dreaming of returning to Erebor. Families, and children. Perhaps, if we find a way that would ensure the comfort of yourself and your… child, we could share the mountain. The Dwarves of Erebor are willing to pay you out of whatever family heirlooms they had saved in their exile."

"I don't need any more gold, Master Dwarf," the dragon snapped at him, and puffed another cloud of smoke. "But I cannot be sure that once I allow more of you here you won't all of a sudden pull out torches and pitchforks. I'm not naive!" it announced snootily. "I've heard stories. My cousin Scatha? Did nothing wrong! One day, came out to have a snack, and then? An arrow in his knee - and boom! Dead in three years."

"Scatha the Horrendous had been devastating the Grey Mountains for centuries!" Thorin barked, losing patience.

"Poppycock!" the dragon raised its voice as well. Unlike Thorin's, its rumble shook the walls. "I understand you don't fancy Smaug. He's a highly functioning sociopath, and apparently ate your people… But the voice..." the dragon added in a mawkish tone all of a sudden, but then snapped out of its daydreaming, and awkwardly cleared its throat. "But most of my kind have done nothing wrong - me especially!" Her voice trembled by the end, and couple more tears rolled onto her eyes. Thorin heard her mumble under her breath, "Damn my hormones."

"Thorin, you need to apologise to her now," the Hobbit hissed into Thorin's ear. "Look, how upset she is."

"Enough, Master Burglar. I'm plenty capable of making my own decisions regarding what to say, and how to behave," Thorin growled, and turned to the dragon again.

"My lady, I apologise for offering you monetary remuneration for this property. Perhaps, you could find it in your heart to kindly consider… sharing the mountain with my people? You can have the word of Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror that my people will do everything possible to make the life of yourself and your child as comfortable and undisturbed as possible." He gave her a small bow and then peered intently into her eyes.

The top of the scaly muzzle twitched, and then the nostrils flared.

"I don't know… What if you decide to misbehave?" the dragon drew out, and the nose twitched again. The gesture was surprisingly… charming. "I don't want to have to… hurt anyone. I'd hate to have to start yelling, or worse so… eating your kind."

"We could sign a contract, my lady; and again, you do have my word."

"And the Lake-town people? I don't particularly care for them. They smell of fish, and I do have a sensitive nose." The worm wrinkled the said nose. "Will you bring them in?"

"No, no Lake-town people," Thorin answered firmly.

"But we did promise them a share of the gold!" the cursed Halfling chimed in.

"My gold?" asked the dragon in confusion.

"Well, I assumed we would reclaim it, since it had been usurped by Smaug..." Thorin started, and then saw the dragon raise an eyebrow. Did dragons have eyebrows? "But now we will discuss how it is to be… shared and how much of it could be spared without diminishing your comfort."

"No, no, if we decide to give this relationship a go, you will have to repay the Lake-town people." The dragon waved its clawed paw at him dismissively. "Pay them back what you owe them out of my gold, we'll put it on your tab."

Thorin gawked at it.

"So, what is the worst I should expect from your kind? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other," the dragon said in a business like tone. "Do you play violins? Or perhaps you lot talk for days on end?"

"We do play music..." Thorin answered, not sure what to say, really. "But we could discuss it, of course."

"Lovely. My hobbies are of the quiet kind. I knit and collect unusual white gems. This cave had the lovelies ones. What do you think?" the dragon asked and pointed at one of the walls.

There, five previously fallen columns were propped vertically, each topped with a piece of a wall in an uncanny resemblance of tables. On the middle one, surrounded by several other familiar gems, Thorin saw the one and only Arkenstone.

To be continued...


ANNOUNCEMENT!

My new book Hammer Up! is currently up on Amazon Kindle Scout! It means you get to read the first chapters as a sample, and nominate the book for publishing! If it wins, after 30 days you get a FREE COPY! You can either go to their page HERE, or follow a link from my blog kolmakov.ca. Please, vote and ask your friends and relatives as well.

The story is cheery, light, and sexy! It's definitely M rated, and all the mythology facts have been researched in scholarly sources.

Thank you for your support!

Summary of Hammer Up!:

To win the right to choose her husband, Aphrodite has to endure ten days in the company of Hephaestus, the fallen god of smithery. Except, everything about Heph freaks her out: he wears dirty clothes; he limps; his sacred animal is an ass. Meanwhile, he thinks she's a slag, and nothing but the means to an end.

Do you want to learn the Greek myths the hot way? Surprisingly accurate mythology, Cockney speaking gods, and frisky erotica are mixed in this story full of humour and romance.

Cheers,

Katya Kolmakov

Chapter Text

A/N: Please, give my stories on Wattpad a read (if you have an account there, of course.) My name there is as usual kkolmakov/Katya Kolmakov. Dark, angsty Jack in the Box updated every Thursday; and cheery British countryside murder investigation + romance Official Town Business updated on Saturdays.

If you don't have a Wattpad, the latter can be read on my blog kolmakov.ca.

By the way, on my blog I have Dr. T Series, a four part webserial that started as Modern AU for my fanfiction,  then got moved to my blog - and lasted three years! I posted the last chapter of it last Saturday! It's a big deal for me. Have a look if you care for modern romance/drama.

And remember in all of the above mentioned stories despite the modern settings, you will find all the familiar characters ;) Men are blue-eyed, dark, and brooding; women are perky gingers ;)

Yours truly,

Katya Kolmakov


King Thranduil was lounging in his antler decorated throne as usual, and Tauriel approached him. Legolas was lingering behind her, his face haughty. The two of them had just returned from the Lake Town; and were thankfully allowed in, despite all the security measures that had been taken in Mirkwood.

"I see the two of you found your way back," the Elvenking said in his habitual lazy drawl; and Tauriel threw a quick look at Legolas. Surely, he was better equipped to deal with the Sinda - especially, in the light of the decanter being empty on the table by the King's elbow.

"We have discovered that an army of Orcs is moving toward our lands," Legolas finally stopped impersonating the statue of himself. There were plenty of those around the Halls; there was no need to add another. "They are bringing Wargs and bats with them."

"What of the dragon then? Will it join them?" the King asked; and Legolas and Tauriel exchanged awkward indecisive looks. Tauriel still thought it would be better coming out of his son's mouth.

"The dragon… Nothing has been heard of Smaug, but… we saw smoke coming from the main gates of the Lonely Mountain. So, we went to investigate..." Legolas paused. While travelling back from the Mountain the two of them had discussed what was the best way to deliver the news to the King - but they arrived to no decision.

"Well, and?" The King flipped his unnaturally smooth blond locks behind his shoulder flamboyantly.

"There was a dragon there, and it was not Smaug. It was…" Legolas apparently decided blurting it out in one go was the wisest, and he breathed out, "...helping the Dwarves to fix the gate."

The King's leg in a high shiny boot stopped its dangling; and he slowly lowered his goblet, forgetting to un-pucker his lips. The black fuzzy caterpillars of his eyebrows started a slow ascend.

"Pardon me?"

"It was a smaller dragon, of bright orange colouring. It was hauling large boulders, reinforcing the gate. It seemed quite… amicable towards Oakenshield and his men."

Tauriel was glad that her kind didn't suffer from heart afflictions. The Elvenking gained a strange red tinge, and his eyes boggled.

"What?!"

Legolas threw Tauriel a discreet look; and she gestured a courtier to bring more wine. The King was in dire need of it, it seemed.


"My lady," Thorin called to the dragon. There was rustling noise in the Northern corner of the Thror's Chamber, the golden dunes moved and shifted, and the horned head dove out of the gold a few feet away from him.

"Morning," the dragon greeted him. She smiled, showing most of her enormous teeth, and puffed a cloud of warm, spicy smelling smoke.

"My lady, I came to inform you that the ravens had been sent to my kin in the Iron Hills and the Blue Mountains, as we have discussed. As promised, I will ensure that you and your child are not disturbed; and you, in return, will lend me the Arkenstone, in the indefinite lease to my line, until decided otherwise, and…"

"Aye, aye, I remember what we discussed," the dragon interrupted impatiently and yawned. Thorin still felt quite discomforted in such proximity to the worm. "So, have you started the renovations already?"

"We've encountered a problem," Thorin admitted grudgingly. The dragon that was clawing at the Erebor riches while stomping in a small circle - again, the semblance to a cat was uncanny - paused, and look at him. "We cannot relight the forges."

The dragon sighed theatrically. "And that is where I come in, I reckon."

Thorin hated asking for aid - and asking the dragon twice so. In the past few days they had to turn to the worm for favours with moving fallen columns, fixing the leaves of the Erebor Gates; opening passages that had crumbled in the last hundred and seventy years; and clearing out the water pipes.

"It is quite an inconvenient moment, I have to say. I was planning to go for a snack this morning," the dragon drew out, and pouted. Thorin clenched his teeth, swallowing disgruntled remarks.

"We shall patiently wait for your return, my lady. After all, it is not an urgent matter," he gritted through his teeth. The dragon lifted its slanted eyes from its tail crest it was patting and brushing.

"You could be quite fussy tenants sometimes," she muttered, and sighed again. "Well, alright. Where are your forges?"

"No, no, my lady. You should seek substanance first," Thorin answered in a forced polite tone.

The dragon blinked and studied him.

"Sometimes I just couldn't quite understand your moods, Master Dwarf." It gave an exasperated shake of its massive head, and then dug down, almost fully disappearing in the gold.

"Here is Mommy, my darling," Thorin heard it coo somewhere in the depth. It was clearly talking to its egg. "Common, let's wrap you up warm, and we shall go for a bit of sheep picking. Who's a lovely egg? Yes, yes, Mirabella is a lovely egg." The voice of the cursed beast was nothing but a purr now.

The dragon resurfaced again, with the egg, wrapped in some precious Erebor tapestry, under its front paw.

"Well, we will be off then," she said politely. "Shall I see you in the evening?"

"Indeed," Thorin answered. He'd rather never see the slug again, but life was never fair.


Dain galloped into the Erebor valley. The wind was fresh, and played pleasantly in his tusk decorated beard. The day was grand - though, a wee bit too peaceful to his taste. The astonishing news from his cousin had come with an Erebor raven - of Thorin and his company reclaiming the Mountain; and the worm residing there and willing to cohabitate with the Khazad; and now Ironfoot was bringing the first army of his men.

And then the skies grew dark, from the immense cloud of monstrous bats; and the ground shook from stomping of thousands of Orcs and Wargs. Dain exhaled in relief. He had been worried no blood shed was in the books for them. Thank Mahal, a foe and a significantly more numerous than his army! The odds of winning or even surviving were slim, just as Dain loved them!

And then an army of Elves appeared, spoiling all the fun! The pointy eared wimps were dressed in their usual shiny nut shells, and were swinging the toothpicks that they had for swords. There was some small group of poorly dressed, frightened looking, and altogether pitiful Long Ones as well, but Dain ignored them. They were no danger to his craic. They could hardly contribute into this battle.

And then Azog the Defiler, the Pale Orc rode ahead, on his White Warg. Dain grinned. Thorin was given a chance to slay his mortal enemy, or die trying. Dain felt joy fill his heart for his cousin! What a glorious way to spend an afternoon!

And then there was a gust of wind, and a loud, yet polite roar filled the valley.

"Excuse me, what is going on?"

Dain almost toppled over from his steed. It was the dragon! Dain had quite forgotten about it.

It had flown in, landed between the armies, and was now tapping its hind paw, giving Azog a strict glare. The Orc was already pale by definition, so only his jaw dropping down signalled his shock.

"I have asked you the question, young man," the dragon continued. "What are you doing in my yard, and where did the bats come from? I don't like bats. They are creepy."

Dain carefully spurred his nag, and approached to listen in.

"Um… I am here to… kill the Erebor scum," the Orc mumbled, giving the dragon a dark look from under his brow.

"Well, that is just not going to happen," the dragon scoffed. "If you have any particular complains, you can be invited for a cup of tea and a chat; but if it's some sort of a blood feud, or some other nonsense of the sort, I suggest you take your associates..." It gestured over the army, while the Orcs exchanged confused looks. "And head home."

The Orcs didn't listen to the command, of course - but it didn't escape Dain's attention that the Elves and the Men did. A short murmur ran through their ranks; and soon the shiny, beetle like Elves, and the ragged Men were disappearing towards the Lake.

Suddenly one Orc lost his bottle, and rushed ahead with a scream. It sounded quite ridiculous, since the rest just stared at him in bewilderment. It ran up to the dragon and swung its jagged blade at its ankle. The dragon emitted some loud coarse sound - which upon attentive listening turned out to be a giggle.

"Oh, that's ticklish. Please, stop!" Since the Orc continued its hacking efforts, the dragon carefully bent down and picked the Orc between the claws of its thumb and the middle finger. "What a pest you are, Master Orc!" The tone of the rumble like voice was good-natured.

And then the dragon deposited the poor sod on the nearest tree.

"Come to your sense, you ridiculous creature," the dragon tut-tutted, and then turned to Dain.

"Hello. Jorenna at your service."

"I came to face Oakenshield in the mortal combat!" Azog hollered behind her, apparently not wishing to be ignored.

The dragon gave out a long, mournful sigh, and continued addressing Dain, "You see, I wouldn't of course interfere. To each one's own; and if Thorin and this gentleman here have some grievances, they can solve them in a mortal combat. But not in my yard. They will wake up the baby." And the dragon gently patted the top of an egg it held under its arm.

"Dain Ironfoot at yours, my lady," Dain answered, and bowed as much as being in a saddle and all his armour allowed. "But you see, my kind lady, we all came here for a war."

"No, no, no wars. I'm not naive, you see..." It shook its head. "I know some find them pleasurable, even necessary; but there is a tenant agreement, you see. I will have none of this misdemeanour on my property. If it's a question of honour, I can allow one on one fight, but none of mass murder."

"But perhaps just one battle?.." Dain started; and Azog's Warg trotted closer.

"Aye, just one battle," the Pale Orc chimed in, his muzzle polite, and tone groveling. "Please?"

"No, no, sorry. I have to be firm here. Among other things, I've grown quite attached to my guests..." The dragon pointed behind it with the thumb. "Bilbo, and the company. You can fight Thorin if he consents," the dragon said to Azog, "But no one else. They are too precious."

Dain chuckled into his beard, wondering what his cousin managed to do to fall off the dragon's grace.

"So, no fighting, alright?" the dragon shook its index finger at Azog and then Dain, and headed to the Mountain. "I'll go ask Thorin if he wants to come out."

An awkward pause followed. The two armies stood, avoiding looking at each other. From time to time, a Dwarf would start to whistle nonchalantly, but soon the sound would die out.

In a few minutes Thorin's head appeared at the top of the battlement.

"Defiler! I'm prepared to face you!" Thorin shouted, and Dain nodded approvingly. A pointed dragon cough could be heard, and Thorin added in an irked tone, "The rest can go. Dain, we will open the gates for you, but no Orcs are allowed."

The following movements were even more awkward - the Dwarves had to walk around the Orcs to head towards the gates. The dragon's head was now visible above the battlement, and they were being observed from under a raised eyebrow. No one dared to start a fight, and after a few instants one could even hear 'sorry's' and 'excuse me's.'

Dain rode at the head of his army; and once the gates closed behind them, he dismounted and rushed up. On the battlement he found the twelve Dwarves from his cousin's company and a Halfling. They all leaned over the railing and watched Thorin and Azog start circling each other in the middle of empty spot the Orcs left for them.

"So, how is he doing?" the dragon's voice came from the passage behind them. Dain looked up and saw the muzzle, with an expression of disinterest plastered on it. The fact that he could see the worm wraggle and scrunch its own tail in its front paws told quite a different story.

Dain glanced down. Thorin wasn't doing that well. He had received two major blows from Azog and was now limping.

"Couldn't we interfere?" the dragon spoke up again a few minutes again. It had moved closer and was now looming over them, its eyes following the movements of the fighters.

And then it gasped loudly, when Azog's blade pierced Thorin's shoulder, and the Orc emitted a triumphant roar.

"But really, I can just pick him up and stuff him somewhere. No one will hear from him again..." the dragon was muttering at the background, and then Thorin rolled aside, and onto his feet. And then in a long precise lunge he slid low, along the ground, and the blade of his sword entered under the ribs of the Defiler. The filth was done with.

The Orcs roared in fury and anguish, but none dared moving.

"Is it over yet?" the dragon asked in a strangely muffled voice - it turned out it was hiding its muzzle behind the front paws.

"It is, and we won. But Thorin is wounded," the Halfling answered.

The giant wings clapped, a gust of air ruffled everyone's hair and beards, and the dragon descended onto the valley; sadly, just to pick up the fallen Dwarven King; and not to stomp and chomp. The Orcs nonetheless decided that a quick and efficient retreat was the right way to proceed.

The dragon passed Thorin's limp body to Oin, and then stood over them, its clawed fingers wriggling nervously.

"So?" it asked, when Oin finished his examination.

"He needs bandages and bed rest, but he will recover," was the verdict, and the worm exhaled in relief, the rest of them mirroring its sentiment.

To be continued...