Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings and all related characters, places, ect. are copyright J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema

A/N: Character sketch set during the events of The Hobbit while Bilbo Baggins has just managed to elude Smaug the Dragon for the second time. The sketch focuses on the events from the book with a more in depth look at Smaug's throughts and point of view.

Fire In the Night

Lying atop his magnificent bed of gold and jewels, Smaug, the last of the Great Worms of Middle-earth, remained as motionless as a sentinel, his full attention directed at the small tunnel carved into the side of the chamber. The Dragon's red eyes glared with hatred upon the passage, and his long, twisting tail thumped angrily beside him. How he despised that abominable backdoor! He had noticed it before, when he had first settled in the Mountain, but thought nothing of it. Why hadn't he bothered to block it up as he had done with the other side entrances?

The swishing of his tail grew more violent. Now look at what trouble it had brought him! It was through that wretched door that a filthy burglar had come and befouled his treasure—his treasure, the treasure Smaug had claimed after he reduced the cities of Dale and Erebor to smoldering ruins. The plunder was his alone!

The monster growled, and white vapor swirled from his nostrils and drifted up toward the ceiling of the Dwarven hall. What was more: the thief had managed to creep in while the Dragon was resting and snatched a large goblet from his hoard, right from under Smaug's very nose.

Thud, went his tail again; a clump of coins was sent tumbling down a mound nearby. Fury flashed in the Dragon's eyes, and the whole room seemed to gleam with a deep and frightening red glow. Smaug's mind shot back to when he had finally met the burglar face-to-face, an encounter neither of them would soon forget. The treasure hunter had attempted a second heist, but unfortunately for him Dragons are not easily fooled, and certainly even more unlikely to fall for the same trick twice in a row. So it was that when the trespasser had come back by the same route he had used earlier that day, Smaug was waiting for him.


Flashback:

The great reptile stretched himself out over his possessions and pretended to be asleep, all the while carefully keeping one eye slightly open and fixed on the back-door. He continued his vigil for what seemed like hours, never blinking and never moving. He strained his ears to pick up even the smallest of sounds. Despite his mix of anger and anticipation, Smaug was able to maintain a rhythmic breathing that would have deceived all but the wisest of Wizards.

His ears never heard the intruder approaching. The only warning Smaug received as to his arrival was the strange smell that wafted out of the tunnel. The new odor was unfamiliar to him and it puzzled, as well as bothered, him greatly. Though he could not see the burglar, the old Dragon could sense his unwelcome presence at the mouth of the tunnel opening.

"Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air," Smaug suddenly spoke, dropping his feign and opening his eyes. "I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!" He searched the area for a sight of the stranger, but could find none. To his further disappointment, the burglar did not prove to be as gullible as Smaug had hoped, for he did not feel him move closer to the piles of riches.

But that would have been too easy, the Dragon thought. The second the accursed thief had come within range, Smaug would have had no difficulty scooping him up in one giant claw and crushing him. No, he liked it better this way…A conversation of wits…Perhaps he could meddle with the creature's mind, play on his insecurities, convince him to turn against his companions…

Smaug got the conversation he had wanted, though the elusive thief remained unseen, making up for his lack of appearance with many empty pleasantries and mock polite remarks. "O Smaug the Tremendous" he had addressed the Dragon, but Smaug would not believe a single word of it. Lies they were no doubt!

It has been said to never look into the eyes of a Dragon, for the one who does shall be caught under the dreadful influence of the 'dragon-spell,' for Great Worms have their own magic. It is not as omnipotent as Wizards', but it nevertheless, commands awesome control over the unsuspecting and weak-minded. Some of the bravest travelers have found themselves enchanted by the spell and they soon lost power over their own actions, forced into surrendering or stepping right into the monster's waiting mouth.

The problem was, of course, that Smaug was not entirely sure where the thief was standing. His red eyes darted in all directions but without knowing where to look he could not hope to cast thet irresistible charm over him. Instead, he decided to continue exchanging sentences with his enemy, choosing his words cleverly, slowly getting as much information as he could out of the burglar.

The Dragon did not obtain any straightforward answers. All he seemed to get was that the stranger was known as various names: "Ringwinner," "Luckwearer," "Barrel-rider"--This last was the fool's mistake.

Smaug's eyes flashed at the mention of the latter title, and he smiled inward wickedly. So…the thief had a connection to barrels, a fact that most would discard as meaningless…Immediately, the Dragon's suspicions were confirmed. He had smelt and guessed that the burglar had come down from the nearby Lake-town of Esgaroth where Men dwelt, but now he was certain.

Then, the talk soon ended followed by an impudent word of leave from the invisible trespasser. As his hasty footsteps scrambled away up the tunnel, Smaug let out a roar of wrath that shook the entire Mountain and caused birds in the surrounding forest to take to the skies in fright. The glow of his red-gold body doubled as he sent a massive river of fire streaming after the retreating pest, whom he knew had succeeded in his escape.That is how it came to pass. Now, Smaug lay curled on his shimmering nest, waiting for nightfall when he would have the perfect opportunity to sneak up on their camp on the mountainside and strike them before they realized what had happened. His frustration had sizzled under control and now he watched the crack of sky showing through the Front Gate as evening fell.


His mind was set by the time the stars came out, and he made his way silently out of the cave. He crossed the threshold of the Gate and unfolded his powerful wings in one spectacular leap. Smaug soared noiselessly up into the night. The strong beats of his wings brought him into the cover of the patches of clouds where he could travel undetected from below.

The peak of his home, the Lonely Mountain, came jutting through the top of the clouds ahead of him, and he dived with terrible speed and precision, his wings hugging his sides as he descended. Then, he opened them. Smaug circled the mountainside, directly over the spot where he had deduced the tunnel led out to. He could see nothing nor anyone. He mustn't let them elude him for a third time!

He turned in midair and swooped overhead again, pelting the rocks with brilliant blasts of orange fire. Not satisfied, the Dragon lashed out with his tail like a giant whip and struck the place, splintering the stone and making boulders thunder down the cone with the force of an earthquake. There was no living thing that had survived by the time Smaug became content with his destruction.

The winged serpent alighted atop the Mountain's summit to get a better view of his work. He roared in fierce triumph and the heavens seemed to tremble. He turned his fiery gaze to the adjacent town of Esgaroth.

"Barrel-rider!" Smaug growled. "Your feet came from the waterside and up the water you came without a doubt. I don't know your smell, but if you are not one of those men of the Lake, you had their help. They shall see me and remember who is the real King under the Mountain!"

The peak of the mountain burst like fireworks as Smaug rose into the dark with a shower of green and scarlet flames. He sped like lightening across the desolate land and flew over the River Running. He could already see the sleeping town on the Lake in the distance, and a cruel grin spread across his snout. He hadn't had this much fun, as he called it, in many, many years.

He peered down into the water rushing underneath him and caught sight of his own reflection, and he smiled at the beautiful coat of gold and gems that covered his underside. Not even the sharpest of swords could pierce his well-formed armor. However, the glow of his body obscured a small fault that would soon make all the difference. His admiring eyes never noticed a tiny section of bare skin in the hollow of his left breast, a space just big enough for the skillful point of an arrow.

Soon, he saw lights in the town flare up as its citizens awoke to the mighty beating of his wings and his awful roars. Screams split the night as people panicked and gaped in terror. Women and children piled into boats as fast as they were able, and the men grabbed arms. Bows twanged as Smaug barred down on the town, and he laughed as the arrows broke and bounced off against his hard scales.

His deadly shape was framed before the white light of the full moon as he dived overhead and sent waves of fire raining down around him. Buildings shot up in flames and toppled to the ground in smoldering ruins. The Lake shown red.

He saw the fleeing boats leaving the docks. He would burn the city to the ground and then personally see to it that he killed them all. Perhaps he would grab a bite to eat as he finished the job. Either way, Smaug thought determinedly, none shall escape him alive.

He reared again for a fifth attack, and saw before him the last remaining defender of Esgaroth poised on what was left of the town. The man stood solemnly, deserted by his comrades, his curved bow of yew at the ready. The Dragon's forked tongue flicked in and out with amusement. As if one human had the power to smite him, the Mighty Smaug! He roared, an awful jeer that reverberated against the earth, the last thing he ever did.

For at that moment a sleek black arrow sang through the air from the quivering bow. The Dragon's eyes widened in pain and surprise as he felt the sting of its point. Down the Great Worm fell. Shadows whirled all about him and then, he hit the water. The Lake sizzled and hissed as fire met water and fantastic fogs rose into the dark. The lake closed over his disintegrating body and Smaug knew no more…