Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: The Scaly Tyrant’s Lost Glory Days
By Daniel Kane
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Of course, my armour always protected me. That was my first fault: I relied too much on my armour. When I, and it, were young I was safe. It had been given to me as a child, and had been impenetrable ever since. How I loved that armour! Studded with shining jewels, stronger than the finest steel ever forged in human or dwarf furnaces, flexible enough for me to still be able to twist and turn easily. It kept out the wet, cold, heat, arrows, swords, and anything else that tried to harm me. What a suit!
My overuse of weapons was another fault. I had had the usual razor sharp claws and teeth since before I can remember, which is a long time ago. They tore through flesh and armour, and left a trail of quivering flesh in their wake. And if anybody tried to creep up behind me, I would just give him a whack with my muscular tail, and send him flying. What fun! Then, when I became an adult, I could finally use my flamethrower. Blasts of fire literally cooked foes alive in the metal meant to protect them. Rivers of flame cleared a path through any forest that might be obscuring refugees. It was at that point that people just stopped trying to defeat me. I didnâ€™t mind, as I donâ€™t really get bored. I just shut myself in my home and admire my pretty spoils. Cups, harps, coins, gold nuggets, necklaces, jewels, I had it all. Even the legendary Arkenstone.
In the end it was the Arkenstone that killed me. How was I to know that it was the dwarvesâ€™ most valued treasure in the world? And how was I to know that, after centuries of being left alone, the dwarves would rally an army against me to try and recover that revered jewel? I defeated them, of course, but although at the time it merely made me smugger, that battle was my undoing. For, unknown to me, too many arrows had pounded against my diamond waistcoat, and had loosened a few of the protective gems. And, during centuries more of scraping over pointy crowns and lumps of gold, more and more jewels fell out.
I was no longer invincible, that I knew. But for some reason, I had expected to go on living for at least another millennium. Perhaps it was because I was so proud of my old achievements I didnâ€™t notice how vulnerable I was getting. I didnâ€™t realize how, at the end of every autumn, the old thrush visited. I should have become suspicious, should have kept my guard up, should have explored and seen what was happening in the world those days. But I didnâ€™t. And so I didnâ€™t expect that burglar to steal my treasure. I didnâ€™t expect the town to be ready for war. And I didnâ€™t expect anyone to know about my only weak point.
And so, here I am, Smaug the dragon, plummeting into long lake with Bardâ€™s black arrow sunk deep into my chest. As I fall, scenes flash before my eyes: the organized bustle of Esgaroth as I flew overhead, the songs drifting into my cave about the King under the Mountain returning, Thrain fleeing for his life with my fire licking at his heels, but never quite catching him, and the map fluttering out of the very shaft the party of fourteen came through. It was all there. Had I but paid better attention, I might not be fishfood.
Written with a nod and a wink toward J. R. R. Tolkeinâ€™s The Hobbit.
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