Her brother is too young to pull the bow, and the last Sigrid saw her father, he was held between two of the Master's bully boys, being dragged away. She grits her teeth as she pulls the arrow back to her ear, the muscles of shoulders, arm, and back aching with the strain of drawing the great bow that is technically her father's. He isn't here, and Bain is too young, too small, too unskilled and too weak.
"Do not fail me," she murmurs, to the bow, to the arrow, to her own aching and tired self. "Fly straight, fly true." She watches as the dragon comes over again, searching for any weakness in the glittering armor of gems and gold. Cursed gold, that may well have been the death of those dwarves she had fed, that her family had sheltered. Cursed dragon, that would destroy what is left of Girion's line as he must have destroyed what had remained of Thror's.
There is a darker patch that looks oddly bare, and she draws in another breath, holding it as she aims the bow, and releasing the breath as she does the arrow. Watching it fly, the black arrow that is all that she has left. If it does not do its work, there will be nothing left to do but flee or die in the inferno the dragon has made of Laketown.
Smaug shrieks as the arrow strikes its mark, and Sigrid smiles grimly as he tumbles from the sky toward the black waters of the lake. He takes the bridge with him, the bastard, but the dragon is dead, his fire quenched in the icy lake. She doesn't fool herself that this is the end, but it's at least an end.
Thranduil looks at the grimy, fierce young woman - barely more than a girl - standing in front of him, a bow bound to her back he isn't sure she should be able to draw. He'd asked for the Master of Laketown, but this girl is manifestly not him, though he can see something in her that he doubts he would have in the man he'd asked for.
"The Master is vanished, my father is dead." The girl's voice is sharp, even though he can see her weariness, and still strong. "There is no one else who has greater claim to lead those who remain. What does the King of the Wood wish of Laketown?"
"Only to ask if there is anything that I might do to lend aid." Thranduil had intended to ask if they wished to accompany him to the Lonely Mountain, to see what might have passed there that had woken the dragon. To see if there is anything left of the fool Thorin had become, and those who'd followed him into dragon-fire.
"You may shelter those who live. They will need it against the coming winter, for there is nothing remaining of Laketown. It is burned to the waterline." The girl is blunt, as the Master never had been, and her interests are clearly practical. "And if you wish, you may come with me, and those who will follow, to see if the dragon at least left bodies to bury of those who woke him."
Thranduil blinks once, caught almost off-guard. "I had intended to see what there might be in Erebor. I can provide assistance there as easily as I might shelter for your people, if only temporarily."
"Only for the winter. We will rebuild in the spring." The girl crosses her arms, drawing herself up to her full height, short as it is by comparison to Thranduil himself. "If you cannot do that, I shall take them all to the mountain. Better to live among the ghosts there than freeze in the snow."
Tilting his head, Thranduil watches her for a moment. "What is your name?"
"I am Sigrid, daughter of Bard, of the line of Girion, King of Dale."
Kíli keeps a tight grip on his bow, hiding in the lee of a stone column as he watches the mixed army of elves and men marching up the road. He's sure the tall, blond elf that's among the vanguard is Thranduil, but he can't see anyone among the men who he's certain is Bard or the Master. Who is leading them?
"Who dares to approach my Mountain with weapons bared?" Thorin's voice is dark with anger, and Kíli shivers a little, tightening his grip on his bow. He hopes he doesn't have to use it against Bard, or against Tauriel, since she must be down there.
"My weapon is on my back, not in my hands, and I have no arrows for it, beside."
Kíli blinks, and takes a half-step forward despite knowing he shouldn't, staring over the battlements at Sigrid, who looks different than when he'd last seen her in Laketown. Paler, thinner, and dressed in trousers rather than a skirt.
"You still come bearing weapons." Thorin isn't yielding a step, and Kíli watches Sigrid's expression close further.
"Would you have me leave it by the lake, and have it share my father's grave? It is all that is left of him, save a legacy I cannot use, for what is a burned ruin worth in shelter and food?" Sigrid's voice is as angry as Thorin's, and sharp as the wind that whistles around the Mountain. "I came to see if I must bury my friends as well as my kin. I did not expect to be told I have none."
"Did you?" Thorin sounds disbelieving, and the glare Sigrid gives him for his doubt makes Kíli step back into the safety of the column. She doesn't need arrows, he thinks, to have a weapon. "Or did you come to plunder and desecrate what you thought was a tomb?"
There's a moment of terrible silence, and then, "Starve in your mountain, King of Erebor, since you care nothing for those who once sheltered you. And come the spring, I hope you have care enough to bury the bodies that will be on your doorstep in Dale."
"Sigrid." Bilbo is standing at crumbling edge of the wall that shields Sigrid's small fire from the wind, his face pale beneath grime. He doesn't look well - indeed, looks worse than when he had left Laketown with the dwarves. Still, Sigrid smiles to see him, hoping that perhaps his presence is a sign that Thorin, at least, is seeing something of sense. Thranduil won't, she's sure, and after yesterday, she doesn't know that she wants to accept the meager help he had offered back at the lake.
Doesn't want to, but knows she cannot refuse it, unless Thorin is willing to give the ragged survivors who look to Sigrid shelter for the winter.
"Bilbo. Did Thorin send you? Or one of the others?" She gestures for him to join her, so they can speak quietly enough not to wake the others who have found shelter nearby. She wishes it were so they would not wake Bain or Tilda, but she has not seen her brother or sister since the dragon fell from the sky.
"No." Bilbo settles next to her, both of them nearly on top of the fire so they can get as much heat from it as possible. "I came on my own." He pauses, hands held out as close to the flames as he dares, as if trying to warm them. "I brought something that might help. You can use it to bargain for part of the treasure, I think."
Sigrid frowns, looking over at the hobbit with concern. "You didn't steal something important, did you?"
"No. Not really." Bilbo warms his hands for a moment longer, before reaching into the thread-bare robe he's wearing, and pulling out a cloth-wrapped bundle. "It's just my share of the treasure. It really isn't useful all on its own."
She unwraps the bundle a little, and blinks, staring a moment before she wraps it back up swiftly, shivering. There's something cold about the stone she's holding, and Sigrid thinks she'd rather throw this into the lake than use it. "What is it?"
"I think it's the Arkenstone." Bilbo chews on his lower lip, not looking at Sigrid. "I think it's making Thorin mad. He's not like he was before. He's strange."
Sigrid wonders if that might have something to do with the same thing that had Thranduil insisting that Thorin was female. Sigrid will believe that when she sees it, if ever she does.
"I can't take this, Bilbo." Sigrid isn't sure she wants to hand it back to Bilbo, though, and perhaps have him go to Thranduil with it. The woodland-king would like it too much, and there's already enough hate between him and Thorin. "But I can take it back, if you don't want to go alone, or at all."
She looks over at him, trying to smile. Maybe if she knows a way in, she can find a way to sneak everyone inside, and shelter for the winter in a small corner of the Mountain. They've a few food stores they can ration out, and until the worst of winter sets in, they can range from the mountain to scavenge what they can find in and along the river. They do not need to take the charity of dwarves or elves to survive.
It isn't a good beginning, perhaps, but it will be at least a beginning.
Notes: Sigrid is sixteen in this. Bard died when Smaug set fire to Laketown, unable to get out in time. The Master, I think, was either on the bridge when Smaug came down, or on a horse on the far side and heading away from Laketown.
ibindikhinh = bow-woman
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.