“Your friends came by.”
“Stonehammer and Greeble? Why didn’t they wait?”
Minmura sat on a stool next to the hearth, a spoon like a paddle swirling her kettle of grey meat and tubers. She faced the fire of knotwood, a slow burning wood that had become rare of late. She dipped her eating spoon to taste the stew and shook her head. “They expected to be fed. We’ve hardly enough for us.”
Steam rose from the pot with a rather lackluster aroma. Dargesh, tunnel guard for the South entrance, Lonely Mountain said, “That pot you’ve got simmering, well, it smells off—a bit.”
“‘O course it smells off. Ain’t been long enough to cook through yesterday’s leavin’s.”
Dargesh doffed his weapons, unstrapped his leathers and began to unwind the laces his deerskin boots. The pile at his feet grew.
His wife waved the paddle spoon. “Hey, you lout, I just tidied up this place. Stow your gear or I’ll stow it for ya.”
Dargesh bent with a grunt to collect his things. He snapped him upright when someone pounded on the door. “Enter on your life,” he said in a commanding voice.
Sargent at Arms – Sedge Throckmoor thumbed the latch and charged in. “What the hell are you doing home? It’s not your night off. Get down there before…”
A long screeching wail pealed down the tunnel.
Sedge clumped forward, grabbed Dargesh’s arm and shook him. “Suit back up and get down there. Now!” The Sargent grabbed the dwarf’s armor belt and handed it to him as the pair nosed out the door. All residents of the dwarven tunnels of Lonely Mountain knew the meaning of such a ear-shattering sound: dragon.
Dargesh sniffed the air. “Draco’s breath! We’ll be burned alive.” He snatched Sedge’s jerkin and yanked his superior back through the still open entrance.
Sedge’s braids got caught in the jam as Dargesh slammed the door shut. What followed was the rumble of scouring flames, intense heat and the throaty challenge tossed by the vile lizard, Smaug.
“Come out for the roasting, little rabbits. You can feed me now or feed me later. But know this, I will dine on your flesh before the next high moon.”