I unfurled my great crimson wings, finally prepared to do battle and seize my throne under the Mountain. The valley's great trees bent under the wind of my flight, and I soared into the biting mountain air. My time had arrived. The young dwarves screamed as I flew over them, but I ignored their cries for now. They were not my worry- their elders were. None of the fat dwarves sitting lazy in the Mountain would remember their kind's attack on the dragons, just as none of the dragons remembered our ousting from old Erebor. Only the Mountain itself would still recall the attacks. So I flew coiling through the air towards the Mountain.
The gates were not open to me as I dove from the sky like a blazing star, but there was a small cave on the side of the Mountain that perhaps I could fit through. I twisted towards that aperture, but alas I was too large and I almost became lodged in the stone postern. I tore my head from the hole and blasted a tongue of flame through the tunnel, raising shrieks of "Dragon! Dragon!" from the inhabitants of Erebor. Let the Dwarves know of my coming. Let them fear me. I pushed off from the side of the mountain and swerved around its craggy edges. I would take Erebor from the front, then. So be it. My great scaly maw seemed to be alive with fire as the gates of the Mountain came into view.
The Dwarves began to arrive at the entrance to their stronghold as I hovered above the stony gates. Their mithril armor had quite obviously been arranged in great haste, and I allowed myself a small grin. Some of the fatter dwarves even had set their helms on askew. I crashed into the gates and they gave a creaking clash. My ivory claws scraped along the front row of my enemies through the gaps in the accesses. Several Dwarves fell to their knees, bleeding. I roared again and flew a second time towards the gates. They shuddered in their dilapidated joints. One more time and the gates collapsed to let me in. How dare the Dwarves bar up Erebor? How dare they try to hinder the processes of time in its most lovely workings- the changing of stone? The gates fell and I was glad. Soon they too would fall like their doors.
My fire was upon my opponents like snow in the winter- like an army upon a small village. Long gray beards caught fire and wooden ax-handles were aflame. The Stone People shouted, and some of the startled ones dropped their weapons. My laughter rolled like thunder in the air.
"Give up now and exile yourselves, dwarves, and I shall allow you to live- all except your king!" It was a lie, of course. I would devour as many as I could as fast as I could. But my nemeses were stubborn as always, and their remaining numbers threatened me. Their ranks grew as those dwarves who dwelt deeper in the Mountain found their way to the front gates of Erebor. I bellowed my immense fury and lunged forward, diving through the gates. By now a golden coat of arms was weaving through the Dwarves. Their precious little King under the Mountain, Thrain II. His father Thror, wearing a heavily jewelled coat, was next to him, shouting out orders. The dwarves threw axes and knives at me as I plunged into their great halls, but I dodged the projectiles. Except for one dagger, which became stuck in my soft underbelly. I screamed in pain and wheeled back towards my enemies. They would pay for this. I dipped my great teeth down and plucked a dwarf from the fray, sending him screaming down my gullet with one gulp. The others slashed at me as I flew upwards once again, but they were far off their target. I swiped my claws through the air and several others went flying, arms and soft little legs flailing.
"Your attempts at conquest are futile, beast!" one of the bolder creatures shouted at me. "Give up and return to your hold." I chuckled.
"O fat one, I believe it is your efforts that are in vain!" That Dwarf was engulfed in a raging blast of my wrath. He burned with his companions, and I turned around. My path took me deep into the Mountain.
The Dwarven halls had taken the jewels the dragons had unearthed and used them to build. I did not let my eyes wander and take in the structures fashioned entirely out of gleaming gems, but I settled on the stone floor and awaited the Dwarves. I had to destroy enough of them that the others would flee the Mountain- and take down as many of those as I could as well. No Dwarf should set his or her mind on retaking Erebor and have enough followers to even dent my rule. I growled deep in my throat as the Stone People poured into the cavern. Not one of them hesitated in fear- typical stubborn Dwarves. With one swipe of my tail, the stout bodies began to heap up against the dimly lit walls. But they kept advancing, and I crouched low to the ground, shielding my pale underbelly. They were right at my sides, but my scarlet scales turned every stroke they made against me. With tooth and nail I fought the hordes, smoke drifting from my snout all the while.
The Dwarves seemed to be running out of combatants, and the ones who remained were beginning to run through the smaller corridors. One low voice called out from beside my shoulder. "Stay, valiant dwarves! Stay and fight the beast with me!" A glint of gold and jewels glimmered and I lunged, skimming the helmet from Thrain's royal head and gashing Thror's shoulder. He clamped his rough hand to his arm, still shouting for his people to come back to do battle against me. A small group of Dwarves came and surrounded their kings as I attacked them. The entourage was falling like weaklings, but the dwarves managed to keep my blows away from Thrain and Thror. They fled up a small tunnel and I saw a bit of light at the end. The same postern I had tried to enter Erebor through earlier! I breathed fire up the path, and somebody screamed in pain, but the voice was not that of my target. I howled up to the vaulting cavern ceiling. My victims had escaped.
But I could make sure they would not return well-armed. I tore through the maze of corridors in a rage, devouring every dwarf I saw, weapons or none. It could not be that enough dwarves had escaped to form a sizable attack party, but my bloodlust was not fading. The Mountain was mine!
I let my wing beats become lazier and my fire retreated to my belly. I had done it. I had retaken Erebor! I swung my tail into the great columns of jewels in the huge halls, knocking them down and returning the Mountain to a more natural, stonier state. It was still like the stories described, once the Dwarven structures had been destroyed.
I explored my new kingdom, bringing the Dwarves' heaps of gold into the main cavern. The ringing piles were lovely- they would make a very nice nest. In the richest trove of them all, I discovered something beautiful- truly wonderful. Dragons can see the richness of many things, oh yes. The white stone glimmered as if it had light hidden within, and its many-faceted surface threw the light across the stone walls.
A pang of agony shot through my belly. The knife! It was still embedded in my flesh and I plucked it out tenderly with my serrated claws. I could not try to maintain my place of rule with such a soft stomach. My gaze was drawn to the gems scattered on the floor. I could use them like my ancestors did- encrust them to my belly and form a shield. I lay on the pile of gems and felt their edges begin to sink into my flesh at once. It burned around my open wound. Treasures would never embed in the scar tissue, but the chink would be so small it would become totally insignificant during battle. I settled in my newfound stash of trinkets and let the gems build me a shield.
Even as my wound healed, realization stabbed me. I had completed the cycle. Although some young dwarves and the kings under the Mountain escaped, Erebor belonged to the dragons once again. Well, it did not belong to the dragons, per say. I drew patterns in the heaps of gold coins with my claw as my black heart seized upon the truth. Erebor was mine alone.
Well, there you have it, folks- the dragon's (historically inconsistent ;) ) story! Thanks for reading; R&R!
And thanks to my beta reader, Sauron Gorthaur!