Warnings: Minor violence; unusual perspectives
Word Count: 1605
Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit it would be even twistier.
Summary: No one is a villain in their own mind.
I know exactly what they think of me: they call me the Terrible, the Monstrous and the Chief Calamity of their misbegotten age. Their curses fly to me on raven's wings and while the last is actually somewhat flattering, their hatred stings a bit as well.
Because everyone thinks I'm some kind of evil villain, simply a ravenous brute who kills without any justification and that's not the case at all. In fact, I had perfectly good excuses for everyone I've slaughtered and I wish the songs would acknowledge that sometimes. Someone should recognize that I'm really the hero of the story since my attack on Erebor was only meant to liberate the kingdom from King Thrór's grasping hands.
This whole mess is the dwarf's fault for daring to amass such treasure and no one would have been injured if they'd just surrendered without a war. But instead the silly fools resisted their punishment and who could blame me for fighting back?
It's not as though I followed the survivors when they were fleeing, hunting them down and feasting on the morsels of their flesh as I could have done so easily. Instead I showed remarkable restraint during my invasion and the dwarves of Erebor should have been grateful for my leniency. They should praise me in their stories instead of casting me as a monster and I can't help but be a little resentful that these mortals refuse to recognize how merciful I've been.
Particularly when one compares their fate to that of Dale, whose men had been so unfortunate in their choice of home. They alone were truly innocent in this but I could not leave their city on my doorstep when Girion would have tried to kill me soon enough. Dragons always have to deal with aspiring heroes who want to eat our hearts for glory and it's better to destroy such dreams early on.
Because despite my reputation, I have never been invincible, only very hard to kill, and I have found it useful to draw attention from that pesky weak spot on my chest with a few acts of massive destruction now and then.
But since the day that I claimed the Lonely Mountain, I've barely killed anyone and those who used to live here should stop holding their grudge.
After all, I'm the one who's truly suffered, stuck protecting this mountain for so long. I mean, it's boring and lonely and a pile of gold isn't as comfortable a bed as the tales would have you think. In truth the stuff is hard and pointy and I've woken up with jewels lodged in some unfortunate place beneath my scales far too many times. Too many fantastic dreams have been interrupted in this manner but while I'm often tempted to give the damn kingdom back, I know my duty well.
So I stay in Erebor, guarding Thrór's ill-gotten treasure as I must, and allow the decades to pass me by.
Given my situation, I can hardly be blamed for letting the intruder live since he's the most interesting visitor that I've had in far too long. The heroes always babble the same nonsense about defeating me before falling to my claws and the birds hardly count as guests at all. They only want to gossip about seeds and nesting and I often end up eating them just to shut them up.
However, this thief intrigues me with a scent that I don't recognize and a magic which renders him invisible. Not that this would save him if I chose to strike but he is smarter than those who came before him, choosing wit and flattery over a naked blade.
He calls me the Stupendous and the Magnificent while I respond with veiled threats and insults, embracing the image of myself that all the stories paint. This is what my visitor is expecting after all and it would truly be a shame to disappoint.
It's one of my best performances, all gnashing teeth and controlled menace, and when the thief refuses to back down before my might, I feel a hint of admiration for his bravery stir. Though perhaps it's only foolishness.
Because only a fool would think that I don't notice his attempts to find my weak spot and yet the longer that we talk, the more I begin to wonder if I should allow him to succeed. I am tired of guarding this pile of treasure; let the mortals destroy themselves with greed if they so wish. Perhaps that would finally teach them the folly of their ways and it would be good to see my home again.
My home and my own riches, which far outshine these tawdry jewels.
So I pretend this thief has injured my ego and rise to my full height, preening slightly beneath his gasp of awe. I know that I am gorgeous, all gold and flame-tinged scarlet and it is a shame that my beauty has been hidden for an age.
I strut and stalk until I am sure that my visitor has noticed what I wish him to see and when he slips away, I send one of my winged cousins to dog his steps. She returns more excited than I have ever seen a sparrow, babbling about dwarves and ponies and I am sorely tempted to sneak myself a meal. But no, I have a new purpose now, and with some effort I manage to convince my cousin's tiny brain to focus long enough to tell me what I need.
It seems that the dwarves of Erebor have finally returned to their homeland, thirteen of the mountain's progeny come to claim their gold. Thirteen, as though I were little more than a gnat to be swatted and they are lucky that I am feeling magnanimous .
But I am done sacrificing my life to protect them from their greed so I send a thrush to Laketown to spread some rumors of my own.
Then I settle down to wait for my thief to return and just when I am becoming impatient, I smell him drawing near. He is undeniably courageous to return to my lair but he continues to overestimate his own cleverness, making it easy to trick him into saying something I can use.
Because I don't care where this “Barrel-rider” comes from, I just need an excuse to fly once more. So I rise to my full height with a roar of false fury and it's actually rather liberating to light this cavern up. The golden treasure melts to liquid slag beneath my ferocious breath and I'm having far too much fun to worry about my visitor.
Though I don't hear any screaming so he probably survived my burst of fire and even if he hasn't, the joy of breathing open air is too much to keep the flame inside. There are shouts from the mountainside when my wings knock boulders off the ramparts and I rather hope that I managed to hit one or two of those fools who thought to challenge me. But I have more important matters on my mind than a few scrawny dwarves so I take to the sky again.
Moments later I see the speck of Laketown down below, the cold waters of Esgaroth a pitiful protection against my burning might. Now that I have reached my destination, I dive toward it, announcing myself with a roar as the wind rushes across my scales.
The men are lucky that I do not truly mean them harm for the foolish creatures built their homes from wood and I cannot resist setting a few fires here and there. But I try to keep the deaths to a minimum while I wait for Girion's heir to join the fight. It is he and my small cousin who must turn the tide for me today, the thrush's whispers setting the stage for my demise.
So when I finally see them, I spread my wings in challenge, presenting a target that no archer could resist. Indeed he is quick to nock his arrow, the ebony missile flying straight and true as it pierces through my chest.
Come, man. Show me the skill of which you always boast and in so doing set me free.
I wake slowly, carving my way through the charred remains of scales and bone until I can spread my wings once more. They are smaller now, as they always are after a molt, but I am stronger now as well. My scales harder, my fangs sharper, and I will regain my size soon enough.
Though the ruse will have been wasted if someone sees me now so I wait amidst the remnants of my former self until the evening falls. Dragons do not molt like other creatures, we shed far more than skin with each rebirth of our bodies, and the corpse of Smaug will lay in Esgaroth until the very mountains fall.
Which may not take long given the armies that I can see marching toward the dwarven kingdom, but guarding it is no longer my concern. So I pass the hours admiring the new colors burned into my scales and when the sun has passed, I take to the sky again.
It is time for me to return to the lands which bore me and let these foolish mortals fight it out. Let them cause such slaughter that their wives will weep for the days when Smaug held Erebor. Because whatever victory those fools think they're celebrating, I will have the last laugh in the end.
Dragons always do.