Author's Note: This is an entry for the
Henneth Annûn Quickies 2002 Challenge, based on ' A girl of Laketown, trying to
collect a jewel from Smaug's carcass'. I have interpreted 'carcass' to be a dead
body of an animal here, just so you know.
Dedicated to Una, Mike and all the other cool people at HA.
Thanks also to Marnie for her advice on the ending.
Not long ago, when Smaug came down to terrorise Lake-town, the settlement had been engulfed in utter chaos. Now, it was in a state of emergency, with the locals urgently tending to the fallen men and broken structures which were the devastating results of Smaug's attack.
Dawn had been afraid- of course she had been afraid- when the dragon had swooped down to destroy Esgaroth, her home. But when her grim Uncle Bard's Black Arrow pierced the dragon's weak spot, her fear dissolved to relief. Smaug was dead.
At least she hoped he was.
'Its' eyes are open, it has to be dead,' Dawn assured herself, as she inched closer and closer to the massive carcass that lay in the middle of the Long Lake. Everyone else was too distracted with the aftermath repairs to notice a fifteen year-old girl with flaming red hair make her way towards the dead dragon with the intention of stealing a jewel from it.
Was it greed that induced her to this? Of course not. Dawn was not that seedy. She was on a mission, rather. The local bullies had dared her to steal a gem from the worm's limp form- and she was not going to give them the satisfaction of bowing out. Dawn never refused a challenge. She could not deny that it was an audacious dare, to be performed during an inappropriate time. Then again, prudence had never been the strong point of the useless bullies that set Dawn on this task.
She came as close to Smaug as was necessary. Dawn did not wish to be nearer the hideous body, nor did she want to risk falling into the lake. When the Dragon fell, it was full on the town. Under his massive weight, the buildings had collapsed, pushing him to the surface of the lake. Most of the dragon was submerged underwater, supported by the debris of the fallen buildings and the crushed foundations that lay on the lakebed. The area of the wreckage, which had come to be known as the Desolation of Smaug, had yet to be cleared, and the precariousness of the situation was but one of the reasons.
As Dawn cautiously stood on broken planks, regarding the exposed bit of the bejewelled body, her stomach continued to churn. Her heart, which had been pounding at an impossible speed, skipped a few beats as her green eyes made contact with Smaug's red ones.
'It is dead, it is dead,' Dawn repeated silently, even as she unconsciously took a few steps backwards. Forcefully shifting her gaze to the beast's underside, the young girl studied the small strip of gold and gems that were exposed to the air.
Her breath was, simply put, taken away. Even though it was but a small portion of the dragon's decorations that she saw, it was an awesome sight nonetheless.
Encrusted on Smaug's pale belly were beautiful emeralds of the brightest green, fiery rubies of the darkest red and splendid sapphires of the deepest blue. But their brilliance was dwarfed by a most magnificent white stone, a sparkling adamant the size of her palm.
Trying not to get closer to the carcass, Dawn stretched out her hand, but it was obvious that the adamant was far out of her reach. She reluctantly took one tiny step, but it made little difference. She took another little step- but her progress was negligible. Dawn repeated this procedure quite a number of times before coming even remotely close to the adamant. But finally, her fist closed itself upon the stone-
"AAH!" Dawn screamed, jumping up and down, nearly breaking the shards of the plank upon which she stood. A hand touched her shoulder, and she stopped her wild thrashing, which could have resulted in her falling into the lake, had it continued any longer.
"Uncle Bard," she said, blushing, after she realised who was behind her. "You had scared me." She did not add that she had foolishly thought it had been Smaug calling her name.
"Oh?" Uncle Bard replied, arching an eyebrow disapprovingly. "I suppose my scaring you overshadows you scaring your family by wandering off without telling them? Hmm?"
"I- I," Dawn stuttered, not knowing what to say. Her uncle looked at her expectantly. "Everybody was busy- you were giving out orders, and Father was helping you, and Mother was tending to the wounded- and, and well, I did not wish to disturb anyone," she finished lamely.
"I see," Uncle Bard said, his lips pursed tightly. Either he wanted to laugh and slap her back cheerily, or he wanted to strangle her. Dawn was not sure, but the latter seemed more likely. Her uncle did not laugh much.
"Well, hurry up then," he said, breaking the silence. "Take your souvenir. This is not a safe place to be."
Dawn quickly complied. She was no longer afraid of the dragon because her brave Uncle Bard was with her. Knowing that he would not let harm befall her, Dawn bent down and made to snatch the adamant. But it did not come off, so she heaved with as much might as she could muster. Still, it did not move. Uncle Bard gave Dawn his knife, and after much poking and prodding; the adamant fell, revealing a patch of silver from Smaug's silver mail coat. Admiring the white jewel, Dawn walked carefully to Bard, who, in an uncharacteristic show of affection, fondly put his arm around his niece.
"Come now. The elves of Mirkwood are to arrive shortly."
"Elves?" Dawn asked, surprised.
"Yes, my dear, elves," her Uncle replied, as they climbed the debris, moving towards the tents of the Lake-town refugee camp on the shore. "I suspect that they go to confront Thorin and his band of dwarves. We will aid them in their endeavours, for they will aid us in this time of need."
"Is there going to be a battle?" Dawn asked, her freckled face etched with excitement.
"Indeed, there will be battle- but it shall not turn out as we expect it to. My heart fears a greater and more devastating battle than what any may foresee*…"
"Oh, Uncle Bard," Dawn groaned. "Must you always be so gloomy, foreboding such dark things as war and death?"
"You have forgotten my prophesying of floods, poisoned fish-**."
"Come now," he said, and Dawn wondered if it was a small smile that his lips were twitching into. "Let us show your parents your gem."
Dawn followed him towards the area set out for her family to sleep. There were few shelters, and Bard had decided to keep the severely injured protected, rather than the civilians. Of course, the Master had one, but no one could do anything about that.
As they walked, Dawn saw the two bullies who had dared her to do this in the first place, Duck and Forge, people nicknamed them. Her heartbeat rate immediately accelerated and her eyes narrowed into thin slits. She was going to get the last laugh, she would make sure of that. Straightening her shoulders, and standing tall and proud, Dawn held out the adamant to them as she passed.
"Do you like my souvenir from the Desolation of the Dragon?" she asked, smiling amicably, before walking off. The looks of utter shock that decorated their faces caused her to erupt into fits of joyous laughter.
"What were you doing?" her uncle asked her, as she caught up with him, still giggling like a mad woman.
"Having the last laugh, Uncle Bard," Dawn replied, when she could finally keep a straight face. "Having the last laugh."
*Yes, Bard is being his usual depressed self. He's also, in a way, predicting the occurrence of the Battle of the Five Armies, which was the unexpected twist to Thranduil's siege of the Lonely Mountain.
**In the Hobbit, Bard's friends accused him of 'prophesying floods and poisoned fish'.
Author's Note: Was the ending weak? Tell me by pressing that little 'Review' button (yes, I'm feedback whore. Humour me). I welcome all sorts of reviews with open arms.