This is Hobbiton. If there were a map showing it, it would be sandwiched right between the words, "no" and "where." My village. In a word - bucolic. Every building is built into the side of a hill. We have farming, gardening, and farming. In the past we've been plagued by wolves and goblins. But more recently, a new pest has arrived – dragons.
Most people would notice that there were dragons roaming their lands at night, eating their livestock, and trampling their gardens. Not us. We're hobbits. We have issues with anything that smacks of adventure.
My name's Bilbo Baggins. Respectable name, I know. But I've not been living up to it recently.
Bilbo ventured into the night, her hand gripped tightly around her mother's sword, Sting, in order to stop it from trembling. She had never been out alone at night before. During the Fell Winter her mother, Belladona Baggins, had ventured out to do battle with wolves and goblins a few times during the dead of night. Once, Bilbo had come along since there was no one else willing to hand out hot food and drinks to those guarding Hobbiton, but she had never been alone and only seen the wolves at the distant edges of the torchlight. Yet here she was venturing out without a torch and with a foolish wish to capture or kill a dragon. It was the most Tookish thing she had ever done, but her neighbors, no, the whole town had driven her to it.
The dragons came in late summer. The first Bilbo heard of it was the complaints of her neighbors that their livestock was disappearing. She worried it was wolves. But every hobbit knew that the Brandywine River kept wild animals from entering their land. The Fell Winter had been a fluke. So if no wild animals could get up to Hobbiton, then the livestock must be running off, and it was deer or really large rabbits which kept trampling the gardens. Bilbo had accepted this explanation for a time, not wanting to make a fuss, but then she found a very clear dragon footprint in the soft loam of her garden one morning. Not that she had recognized it at first, but Bag End had a respectable library which happened to contain the one and only book in Hobbiton on dragons.
So with the guide clutched in one hand, a handkerchief to mark the page showing dragon prints, she had run to the Thain - her grandfather. He had not been inclined to leave his second breakfast, but she had finally convinced him to follow her up the hill to Bag End. Except when they got there, Holman Greenhand was there with his apprentice, Hamfast. Bilbo's spirits had fallen at seeing her now pristine garden. Without the footprint, and with Holman swearing that it had only been the tracks of a different breed of rabbit than Bilbo was used to, she wasn't believed.
So now, after a few nights to work up her courage, she was going to get her proof. She stubbed her toe on a rut in the path. "Confounded dragons," she muttered.
One of the Proudfoot clan nearby kept pigs. They had lost one of them the night before so Bilbo was sure that if she watched the pen, a dragon would come back to take another. She found a rock near the pen and settled in to wait. One by one, the faint lights she could see in nearby hobbit holes went out. It was a good thing the moon was nearly full or she would have been able to see nothing at all. The pigs were white with speckles of black on them, so they shone under the moonlight. It was quite peaceful out, if a little cold. It would be just her luck to be out here on a night when the dragons didn't come.
The ground beneath her shuddered. She tensed. Then a long head plunged into the pig pen, and Bilbo had her first look at a dragon. She gasped. Her book had told her the common green dragon was smaller than a pony. This dragon was larger than a horse and had a neck long enough to reach the top of the Thain's Hall - the largest in Hobbiton - without stretching. She regretted that she hadn't finished reading The Common Guide to Dragons because she had no idea what this type was. Her gasp drew its' attention.
The grass was slippery with dew. That was the only thing that saved her. As the dragon jutted its head forward, flames spraying towards her head, she took a step back and slipped. The flames passed over her body. She was lying nearly under the dragon's chest, and Sting was still in her hand. Bilbo rolled, drove the sword into the fleshy part where the legs met the chest, then scrambled away. It gave a fire-filled bellow of pain before giving chase.
"Help!" she yelled as she ran. Her path took her past the Party Tree, just as the dragon drew back to send another blast of flame at her. She jumped around to the other side of the tree just as it was released, and stood there shuddering in fear as the flames licked either side of her. "Oh, why did I listen to my Tookish side," she wailed. There was a crack as one of the branches fell. She looked to her left and saw the massive orange head of the dragon twist around the side of the tree to peer at her. It drew back to flame. If she had been told that she was going to die of incineration before this, she would have fainted at the very idea, so a very distant part of her was proud that she at least held onto the sword and stood tall.
The dragon gave a strange sort of belch, a little wisp of flame dripping out of one side of its mouth. She got a face full of smoke instead. Somehow, it was out of flame. Bilbo grinned. She darted under its head, this time thrusting towards its heart. The dragon reared back, and let out a long cry. It took off into the sky. Other dragons rose into the air as well. She let out a cheer, feeling nothing but the elation of survival and triumph.
"Hobbiton is in ruins, and you are here cheering like a fool," said a voice that sounded suspiciously like her grandfather. Bilbo turned. The Thain was in his nightshirt, as were many of the hobbits who were with him. He had a pitchfork in his hand, and many of the others held hoes and shovels. Her gaze went from them to the still burning Party Tree. It was 150 years old.
"I'm sorry, Grandfather." A dragon flew by, a sheep clutched in its talons. They all watched it head north towards the Blue Mountains. "But I did prove there were dragons stealing our livestock."
"We could have spared these few animals, Bilbo! Winter is around the corner, and I have an entire village to feed."
"Hobbiton could do with a little less feeding," thought Bilbo, but she didn't say anything. It would be hypocritical since she was pudgy around the middle as well.
"I still think we need to get rid of the dragons," she said instead. "They are not taking much now, but if they're ruining gardens, then they might ruin the fields. What if they burn the harvest?"
Her grandfather loomed over her. "They would not have burnt anything if you had not been out here stirring them up." The Thain let out a deep breath. The rest of the crowd began to mutter. Bilbo didn't have much hope for her reputation after this night. "You started this mess, Bilbo Baggins, so you will have to finish it," said grandfather finally.
Bilbo sighed. "Fair enough." Behind her, the Party Tree continued to burn. She winced as one of its branches gave way with a groan. "But I really don't know what I'm doing. I have only the one book on dragons."
The Thain nodded. "I know. That is why tomorrow you will leave for Ered Luin. The dwarves there will train you on how to take care of dragons."