14. His Own Master
T. A. 2940
The black messenger smelled strange. More precisely, he had no smell at all, unless it were of fear and death. Never before had these been unaccompanied.
But this strangeness faded against the sheer impertinence of the message.
"You will lay waste the Elven haven of Imladris. As soon as may be."
"And who, pray tell, are you?"
"An emissary of the Great Eye - you know whom. Vast as your own treasure is, your reward shall be thrice its worth. To be paid when Imladris is a charred ruin."
Smaug considered the offer. More than fair, if it had been honorable and honest. Which, of course, it was not - even a blind Dwarf could see that.
"You come here and presume to order me?"
The dragon's laughter shook the Gate of Erebor, and all the hall behind, before he calmed enough to reply.
"I kill when, and whom, I wish. And serve none but myself. For giving me the best laugh I've had in years, I will forgive this insult and spare your life, such as it is, little one. You may go now."
"You doubt the reward? As a token of his goodwill the Great Eye shall deliver unto thee..."
Well, some fools were not worth sparing. A great blast of fire silenced the messenger, though Smaug knew, somehow, it had not killed him. Curious, but to be pondered later. The black form, at least, was gone.
All that remained was the messenger's now-charred horse. That, at least, was real. And it was time for lunch.