I know, I know, it's been awhile, but I had a really bad case of writers block. Which is why this chapter is more a filler/Bridge chapter leading into the more meaty bits. *Ahem* Don't worry, the next chapter will have much more Smaug.
I won nothing but Circe, all else belongs to the great Tolkien.
The sun was just coming up over the Misty Mountains and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. The waters surrounding Lake Town had calmed considerably compared to the night before and there was hardly any damage to the town itself.
Circe squinted against the rising light of the sun as she stood by her room window, quickly pulling on her clothes and boots, hoping to reach the mountain by the early afternoon. She had travelled too far in the previous weeks to be killed by doing something as stupid as entering a dragon's lair in the middle of the night.
Circe had been a part of a group of travelling performers for as long as she could remember. That was where she had picked up her considerable ability to disguise herself as well as her voice. The art of thievery she had learned on her own. Her troupe had been having a particularly rough time in a nearby city, trying to gather enough money to buy food.
Circe, being very young at the time, had noticed all the fine Lords and Ladies simply passing the company without even turning their gaze. She had also noticed that they had more than enough money to spare and wondered why they would not share it with those of them who had next to none.
And so, not knowing any better, Circe began to take from those rich few, not that they noticed or anything, but she took just enough to help the troupe and not too much that they would start asking questions. Eventually, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor became not enough for her.
The adrenaline that shot through her as she took from those unsuspecting few had become addicting and the rewards she earned from it were equally so. Thievery had started to become her profession, and so, she left her troupe as they entered the woodland realm, but not before nicking a few items she thought she would need.
Namely an elfish blade and the broach on her cloak. Thus, she began her travels around middle earth, hiring herself off to whichever king or criminal or Warlord wanted to start a war or simply wanted what someone else had.
Naturally, when she had heard of Erebor, the halls of the dwarves filled with an unmentionable amount of treasure, guarded by a bloody great DRAGON, well she just couldn't turn it down. What was the point of being the "Burglar of Middle Earth" if you aren't going to take the risks.
Staring out her window with her eyes on the Lonely Mountain, her stomach clenched in anxiety. A dragon, she had never faced a dragon. Ogres and elves and dwarves she had face and much worse on top of that but never in her life had she face a dragon.
"Just a great lizard," she reminded herself, though it brought her little comfort.
The little town was bustling when Circe emerged from the Inn. She had swiftly ordered a small breakfast and after she had finished it, paid the innkeeper for her room, perhaps a tad more than the bill called for, seeing as she had frightened the help. Now she started off to gather the supplies she needed for the trip.
She first visited the market; buy loaves of bread, some wine and meats from the butcher. She was just about to leave the butcher when she stopped, a thought coming into her head. Turning swiftly on her heel, she strode back up the man and stood taller.
"In addition, I would like to purchase your waste." Circe stated.
The man's eyes went about as wide as they could without popping out of his head.
"M-my what, sire!?"
"Your waste, man! The animal, the blood, the wasted parts! I need them."
"Ah, yes-yes of course. I had thought- but no." he shuffled off into the back of the shop, muttering to himself with his back hunched.
He came blundering back, holding two large buckets in his fists. Circe wrinkled her nose at the smell as the man placed them on the counter in front of her.
"Very good," her voice came out somewhat strangled and she set an extra few coins on the table which the man grabbed hastily.
Picking up the buckets and heaving them off the table, Circe pushed her way out the door and back onto the bustling docks towards her boat. The buckets were placed gently at the back, behind the meat she was going to use for eating and the bread and the wine. One look at the now filled boat and Circe was ready to shove off.
The lake was much calmer than it had been the night before and Circe had no trouble navigating her way through the docks and bridges of Lake Town, out into the wide expanse of water that was Long Lake. As she rowed, she received many strange glances from the locals, probably concerning the smell wafting from the boat itself. But it was necessary.
It is silent on the water; the only noise is the boat slicing through the crystal clear water as it lapped up the sides. Circe looked up, her amber eyes piercing the clouds as the Lonely Mountain came into sight. Her back straightened and her jaw tightened to stop the involuntary quiver it began to make.
Circe had never stolen from a dragon, but she had done her research before beginning this quest. She knew that dragons had a particularly strong sense of smell, quite like dogs, which was where the animal parts came in. She could think of no other way to mask her human sent, for if Smaug smelled her she would be dead within seconds, and there were so many other places she had left to pilfer.
The boat thumped against the shore leading up to the ruined city of Dale. The winds were cold and biting, leaving Circe shivering against the bitter air. Hopping out onto the firm ground, she gripped the rope that was still attached to her boat and began to pull the boat farther up so that it wouldn't be carried away by the water.
She left it there and continued up the path towards the ruins of Dale and the Lonely Mountain. The city, she now saw, was not just in ruins. It had been decimated, houses torn apart, churches wrought with scorch marks and it reeked of death and decay. Circe kept one hand on her sword at all times as she moved through the wreckage.
"By the Valar," she muttered to herself, "that must be some hoard to call such a beast."
Her hand traced a large claw mark on the wall of one of the towering building. The scratches were deep and gargantuan in comparison to Circe's hands. Her face sank into a frown and she gently patted the wall in a show of determination. She had come this far and no lizard was going to make her turn back now.
With a new sense of resolve, Circe headed back to the boat, dragging all the items she had bought from Lake Town up the bank and back through the town. It took quite a while, but finally Circe had created a small camp just on the outskirts of the city, near enough to the mountain entrance.
In her mind, Circe went over her plan again. She would start her fire, begin to cook the meat she had brought and make the camp look as though it was being inhabited. If she was correct, the dragon would smell the fire, the food and believe that someone was trespassing on their territory, which was true.
Hopefully the dragon would be enraged enough to come out of the mountain in search of the fool who dared enter his land, and Circe would have enough time to get in through the gate.
She eyed the buckets of waste wearily and with a sneer. That was where those came in. She would have to douse herself in that foul stuff to match the smell of the meat. If this beast smelled that in the mountain, it would simply think the smell had wafted in from outside.
"Right well, let's get this all over with."
She started the fire and put some of the meat onto the spit. As it began to roast, Circe gathered her sword and extra daggers, attaching them to her body. She took off the cloak and shoes, which were not truly meant for running and seeing as they would only slow her down, she finally took one of the buckets.
"What I go through," she griped.
Lifting it high over her head, the woman closed her eyes and tipped it upside down.
In the depths of the Lonely Mountain, beneath gold that towered as high as the ceiling and jewels that shone and twinkled, a growl emanated. Gold coins shifted and slid, revealing the crevices and hollows of what looked to be a mighty beast. And a mighty beast it was.
Smaug the Magnificent had awoken.
"Eugh," Circe sneered at the smell that now enveloped her body and the gunk that stuck to it. Her cloak lay unruined at her feet but the rest of her was absolutely coated in the insides of many individual animals.
As she cursed, she noticed a sound coming from behind her, inside the mountain. It was a sort of low moan, from what she could make out, and the air about her had started to become warmer and thicker.
"No," she breathed with her eyes wide and her mouth open slightly, "it's too soon."
The ground beneath her feet began to rumble slightly and she dropped the bucket with a clang. Her bare feet twirled in the dirt, spinning her to face the mountain. Without a second's hesitation, she took off towards it, her feet digging into the mud and grass.
The blood from the animals dripped into her eyes and she could barely see where she was going. Hot air blew past her, blinding her even more. She still managed to see the gate in front of her, even if it was terribly blurred.
Circe raced up the steps carelessly, the stone scratching her feet. A great roar erupted from inside and she stopped, mouth agape, as the sound grew closer. Without a moment's hesitation she flew up the remaining steps, and on the last one, she threw herself against the wall and scampered behind one of the great Dwarven statues.
Breathing heavily, Circe wiped at the blood now covering her face. Her hair was drenched in it and she pushed it back, listening for anymore sounds. But it had gone silent. Not just the beast within the mountain though, everything had gone silent. The wind had stopped, no animal made a noise, not even the trees creaked.
Circe held her breath, reaching for the hilt of her sword and gripping it tightly, but still she listened. All remained silent.
An ear shattering roar pierced the sky and Circe fought the urge to scream. She covered her ears as roar after roar burst out from the mountain. And following the roar, the great flapping of wings. Circe shut her eyes, mouthing words to an old prayer she had learned as a child.
Huge clouds of dust were whisked up from the ground around her and she covered her face from the stinging dirt. The ground shook and another roar was released, only this time,
it was right behind her.
Circe did not move from her hiding place behind the statue and the pounding wing beats and roars passed her. But she could not help herself from peeking out behind the stone statue. Her breath caught in her throat.
Flying overhead was the great red serpent. His wingspan was vast and his body colossal, his claws dug into the stone of the steps before he pushed off with them, gliding into the air like a bird. But this was no bird, Circe could see that. This was something she had never even imagined.
Adrenaline gripped her and as soon as the beast was far enough away, circling over her camp and the city of Dale, Circe pushed herself off the ground and slowly snuck around the side of the statue until she had a clear path towards the gate and inside the mountain.
She didn't have much time and her legs ached. Wiping her slicked hair back, her mouth set itself into a frown and her foot pushed itself off the ground, starting her way towards the gaping hole in the side of the mountain.
Another roar erupted not far away, but Circe did not look back. She continued to run until she had made it through and was creeping into the shadows. She knew that camp would not keep him forever and that he would be back inside in a matter of seconds.
She had to find that hoard.
Criticism is appreciated as are any story ideas. Hope you enjoyed.