As part of my ‘Children’s Fantasy Fiction’ module, we were asked to rewrite a scene from a children’s story, changing it from third-person to first-person. In the spirit of modern cinema, and due to my ridiculous adoration for everything Tolkien, I decided to look at The Hobbit.
This is a scene nearing the end of the novel, when Bilbo is speaking to Smaug the dragon, whilst wearing the ring of invisibility (oh, what a ring). I decided to portray Smaug in the same light as Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost – I wanted the reader to admire and sympathise with Smaug, despite the naughtiness of his actions.
I’m becoming very interested in creative writing, and I’d love to know what you think! Obviously, this is hardly original in itself, but I tried to put an original spin on the old ‘goody/baddy’ paradigm. Let me know what you think, friends!
Smaug the Mighty
‘You don’t know everything, O Smaug the Mighty,’ said he. ‘Not gold alone brought us hither.’
A deep rumbling arose from my throat, but I could not set my eyes upon him. This being had seeped into my solitude like putrid smoke, disturbing me with his cryptics. Yet I could not see him, and he danced around me foolishly like a rodent.
‘Ha! Ha! You admit the ‘us’,’ I laughed, my old, cold blood pumping through my head. ‘I am pleased to hear that you had other business in these parts besides my gold. In that case you may, perhaps, not altogether waste your time.’
My eyes shifted across the darkness of the room. I continued.
‘I don’t know if it has occurred to you that, even if you could steal the gold bit by bit – a matter of a hundred years or so – you could not get it very far? Not much use on the mountain-side..?’
I faltered slightly, memories flooding my ancient head…
The Lonely Mountain. Dark retreat from the fires of the past. A cavern of utmost solitude in which I had lain for two hundred years, drowning in the silence of blazing gold and emerald.
I had once been the greatest dragon of the Third Age. For three hundred years I watched over the land below me, leading our race into dominion over Middle Earth. We soared higher than any mere eagle. We gathered together on crumbling cliff tops, basking in the golden sun as it rose from the East over the sea. Wizards, Elven kings, beasts – even the Necromancer feared us.
We knew nothing of good and evil. Only the sun and moon guided us.
They called us ‘wicked’ beings, tormenting the earth and desolating the landscape with our fiery breath. They hunted us in packs. I remember the night my children were destroyed. Showers of murderous arrows rained down upon us, piercing the skin of my beloved children and painting the night crimson with their blood.
Some of us escaped the slaughter. I led them to a wasteland, far from our old haunts. We lived on stray cattle and forgotten shepherds, those with no family to miss them. We sought solitude and safety from the weapons of men, but still they hunted us.
One night when the moon was waning, I watched the Men of Dale extinguish my brethren. They arrived with arrows, spears and swords, destroying those whom I had lived beside for so many years.
That night, a great race crumbled. Alone and injured, I dragged my bruised body across mountainous paths and ravines.
I had watched my empire fall like the setting of a great, crimson sun…
Slowly, I realised the invisible creature had been speaking to me once more.
‘We came over hill and under hill, by wave and wind, for Revenge,’ said the invisible being. ‘Surely, O Smaug the unassessably wealthy, you must realise that your success has made you some bitter enemies?’
‘Revenge!’ I snorted, and my eyes flashed red across the darkness of the hall. ‘Revenge! The King under the Mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like a wolf among sheep…’
Girion Lord of Dale died at the hands of my fiery tongue.
I had crawled for weeks, dishevelled and leathery like an old, dying bird. I did not eat for many days at a time, hiding inside crevices in the mountain-side, not daring to appear in the daylight.
But I was not dying. Smaug the Mighty was still the Lord of this Middle Earth, and I pledged to take revenge on the Men of Dale for the slaughter of my children. I approached their city, grey and decrepit against the green lands of Rhovanion.
It took me until noon to exact my revenge upon the Men of Dale. I was quick but ruthless. They believed I was cruel, murdering innocent men. Yet I could not forget the screams of my young: they had not been granted the mercy of a rapid death.
The dwarves eventually fled from their mountainous cavern, and I approached the deserted peak with the weight of sorrow upon my chest.
Inside the Lonely Mountain I crawled, to sleep in silence until my solitary death…
I did not wish to boast to this invisible being but above all things, a dragon will not be made to look a fool. I intended to show him what sort of creature I had once been, when the days were golden in the realm of dragons.
‘I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong, strong, Thief in the Shadows!’ I gloated, as menacingly as I could muster. ‘My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!’
I believe I succeeded in startling him, for his next words were accompanied by a distinct shiver:
‘I have always understood that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the region of the – er – chest; but doubtless one so fortified has thought of that.’
My ears pricked up involuntarily.
‘Your information is antiquated,’ I snapped. ‘I am armoured above and below with iron scales and hard gems. No blade can pierce me.’
I glanced at my foreclaw. A shining jewel winked at me.
The long, cold days of the mountain had always been filled with sadness.
I once belonged to a great community. We lived and breathed together, uninterested in the lives of other creatures. This community was dead now. I was alone. The last of the Fire Drakes.
The only comfort I gained from my gloomy resting place was the treasure left behind by the dwarves. Never had I beheld such treasure. Golden amulets, rubies encrusted with sapphires, goblets, diadems, medallions – such an array of luxury I had never before admired.
As each day passed, I grew tired of dreaming mournfully for my golden past. My eyes dwelt instead upon the sea of riches around me. Captured in every glint of gold, I found solace.
I bathed drunkenly in this treasure every day for two hundred years, until small crystals of emerald, garnet, diamond and silver began to embed themselves in my leathery skin. I soon became a shimmering beast, alone and forgotten in the dark, but as magnificent as I had ever been.
‘I might have guessed it,’ I heard the invisible creature saying. ‘Truly there can nowhere be found the equal of Lord Smaug the Impenetrable. What magnificence to possess a waistcoat of fine diamonds!’
A warm pride passed over me.
‘Yes, it is rare and wonderful, indeed,’ I said, and rolled over upon my back, desperate to show him the only beauty that had come from so many years of loneliness. My old stomach rolled weakly into the dim light, speckled with jewels from ancient times, and I thought myself beautiful.
‘Dazzlingly marvellous!’ spoke the intruder. ‘Perfect! Flawless! Staggering!’
Momentarily, I indulged myself with memories of the creature I had been and the life I once lived.
‘Well’, said the invisible intruder, disturbing my thoughts. ‘I really must not detain Your Magnificence any longer, or keep you from much needed rest. Ponies take some catching, I believe, after a long start.’
‘And so do burglars.’
At this, I reared my great, ancient body as high as I could reach, and spat bright, golden flames in the direction of the thief. A black anger clouded my vision, and I stumbled towards him, intent on showing him the wrath of the last remaining Fire Drake of old.
But he was gone.
I stood alone for an hour in the silence. The cold moonlight glinted on my old skin.