Traude ran through the passageway Brianna had gone through, with her sword in her right hand and soon ended up at the entrance of the treasure room. She stopped right at the ledge and gazed at the ocean of gold before her in nostalgic amazement. It had been so long since she’d been in this room but she cherished that minute and a half of silence as she remembered her childhood, playing hide and seek with Dis and Frerin in the treasury or watching her father and grandfather talk amongst the gold.
The last time she’d been here, she’d managed to pull her grandfather away from Smaug who was thrashing wildly, roaring and breathing fire as he scattered the gold all over the room and the Arkenstone fell into the gold and disappeared. Her grandfather had tried to go back to grab it but her and Frerin pulled him back and escaped. Now, years later, there was just silence and…footsteps from her right?
She turned to her right to see Brianna clambering up the stairs, having escaped Smaug through the tunnel (which exited out on a hidden side of the platform) and panting with exhaustion as she reached Traude.
“You’re alive!” Traude laughed.
“Not for much longer!” Brianna replied as she reached the top of the staircase “The dragons coming! We have to hide!”
“But the Arkenstone!” Traude barked as she blocked the escape route into the main tunnel.
Brianna stopped just a few feet from Traude and looked at her in surprise.
“Did you find it?” Traude asked sternly.
There was a moment of silence between the two as Brianna thought up an answer. She looked closely at Traude, who hadn’t torn her gaze from her but could see that there was something off about the way Traude was looking at her. It didn’t feel right at all. And that, along with her near-death experience earlier made her decide it was best to wait until they were safe to show her the stone.
“Traude, we don’t have time for this.” she said as she walked towards the entrance.
Suddenly, Traude stuck out her sword and blocked Brianna’s path as she stopped just inches away from the sword. Brianna backed away as Traude pointed the sword at her till she was dangerously close to the ledge.
“T-Traude?” she asked.
Traude didn’t answer. She instead stared at Brianna with her headed tilted down and angrily looking up at her beneath her eyebrows, with her sword pointed at Brianna’s chest.
“I didn’t say you could leave.” she snarled “Get back there and find it.”
“I can’t.” Brianna begged as she turned to her right “Traude, I-”
Brianna suddenly froze and her face began turning as white as her gown. Traude at first didn’t understand why but then she heard the rumbling. She turned slowly as the sound got louder and then it was her turn to freeze up. Smaug himself appeared, having tracked Brianna’s scent. But when he caught sight of Traude he snarled in anger and looked directly at her with hatred in his eyes. He then began slithering towards where they were as Traude happened to glance to her lower left and saw another escape route via a second tunnel near the second staircase.
At that moment, the rest of the girls emerged from behind Traude and surrounded her and Brianna with their weapons drawn and at the ready. Smaug decided enough was enough and with a load, booming roar he began running towards them as his chest began glowing as his fire started building inside him.
“YOU WILL BURN!!!” he roared.
“Girls! On your left!” Traude ordered “Down there! Hurry!”
The girls didn’t need to be told twice as they scrambled towards the passageway and slid down on the gold just as Smaug unleashed his wave of fire with it just barely missing them all. The moment they hit the entrance, they did their best to get up and run inside while Smaug roared in defiance as he lifted up his head towards the wall unleashed another wave of fire as he was bathed in flame.
Everyone was almost at the end of the tunnel but the fire actually seemed to follow them as they ran. Bridget who was in the back looked at the oncoming flame and then to her cousin Beate who was looking absolutely terrified. Without warning, near the exit she shoved Beate forward and Beate tripped on her own feet and tumbled into a room where the girls were. They all backed away to the side of the exit just as some smoke billowed in and the force of the explosion sent Bridget rolling into the room and slamming into a table.
The smoke dissipated as everyone cough it out and regained themselves. They were in a small room with a single wooden table and with some shelves built into the wall which were empty and covered with dust and rock. Beate quickly looked to Bridget who was sitting up, leaning against the table leg she’d hit and groaning as she clenched her right arm.
“Oh my goodness!” Beate said as she rushed to Bridget along with Dorothea.
“Can you move your arm?” Dorothea asked as she looked at the arm.
Bridget did move her arm but she winced and clenched it again. It was clear to Dorothea what happened and it was nothing to severe.
“It’s not broken.” she said calmly “But I think you took a rather nasty tumble into the table.”
“Gee, you think?” Bridget laughed.
“Girls!” Traude called out.
As everyone stood up, they looked to Traude who lit up a flare she’d gotten from one of the bags and her face glowed red from the flare light.
“Come on!” she ordered “We have to find a way out!”
The girls quickly snatched their bags and followed after Traude into the passageway out while Bridget leaned on Beate and Dorothea. All the while, Smaug was beyond enraged and saw the cracks which provided the few sources of light in this cavern. He then began viciously clawing the wall cracks, sending rock tumbling down to the floor below before he slithered into the mountain itself. He was going to find those dwarves by any means, even if it meant collapsing the mountain itself.
In Beatrice’s house, Shane made sure all the lanterns and lights inside were lit so the operation could begin. Ophelia, Frieda and Bertha gently lifted Kamilla off the floor and placed her on the table like a sack of flour. They stood at her side, with Frieda at her left and Ophelia and Bertha at her right, with Bertha holding a candle. Kamilla’s breathing was just as shallow as before and it sounded like her lungs were having the air sucked out of them with every labored breath. Beth peeked out the door to make sure no one was coming while Shane stood and watched the scene play out. Taduesz had taken the Kingsfoil and was grinding it into powder in a bowl Terrence was holding up. He then took the bowl and moved to the table to Kamilla’s right side.
“What’ll we do?” Bertha inquired.
“Just do what you’re doing now.” Taduesz said “This may sting a little so you must hold her down.”
He then glanced down to Kamilla’s right leg where the wound was but then blinked in surprise. He hadn’t been able to get a good look at the wound but now he could see that not only had the arrow caused possible infection but also it went deeper then he thought. Some small pints of blood dripped from the wound and it seemed to turn dark purple.
“Did you clean this wound?” Taduesz asked Ophelia as fear overtook him.
“Yes I did.” Ophelia replied “I made sure to do so.”
“It’s a good thing you did.” Taduesz said “The barb tore the muscle from the bone.”
“Y-Yes, I can see that.” Bertha stammered as she caught sight of the wound “I-I-Is it supposed to look like that? With the blood dripping out?”
“That means the poisons turned the flesh rancid.” Taduesz said as he placed the bowl behind him and took the Kingsfoil out “We need to do this now.”
He then began rubbing the Kingsfoil in his hands like soap but this time it was relatively easier due to it being already being pretty grounded. He looked down at Kamilla’s wound, closed his eyes and sighed rather loudly.
“Whatever grace has been given to me, let it pass to her.” he said in Elvish as he placed the Kingsfoil on the wound “Please, let her be spared.”
But the second he placed the Kingsfoil on the wound, Kamilla suddenly groaned loudly in pain and began moving around violently, with her biting her lip in pain. This, combined with the sight of the blood and just how nasty the wound looked, made Bertha lose control of herself and pass out as she fell to the floor. Ophelia and Frieda did their best to restrain Kamilla, but were surprised to see Shane and Terrence arrive on the scene and the four them together managed to keep Kamilla under control as Taduesz kept his eyes shut and repeated his poem over and over again.
Kamilla suddenly began relaxing and her breathing slowly started returning to normal. Taduesz recited the poem two more times as Kamilla’s breathing slowed down and her leaned on Frieda’s shoulder. Taduesz sighed an immense sigh of relief as he opened his eyes and placed his hands on the table, while he was catching his breath and the blood on his hands stained the table. The wound had closed up and was now changing color back to normal. Shane and Terrence stepped back a little bit as Frieda looked to her sister and then to Ophelia.
“Is she alright?” she asked.
Ophelia put her arm forward and felt Kamilla’s pulse. She then suddenly started laughing softly much to every one’s surprise but particularly Frieda’s.
“What’s so funny?” she inquired.
“Oh, bless my scarf!” Ophelia laughed “She’s fast asleep!”
Frieda then inexplicably started laughing too and Shane, Terrence and Beth looked to Taduesz as if these women were crazy. Taduesz just sighed and then chuckled softly as he headed to the bathroom to wash his hands of the blood.
The girls were now on the second level of Erebor, with the treasury far behind them. They were now on one of many of the great stone bridges that linked the three story tall stone buildings which were built into the mountain wall. Below them was the ground level where the throne room and the gallery of the kings were. But just like the treasure room, a deathly, pervading silence was everywhere. It sent shivers down the girl’s spines, with them grasping their weapons tightly waiting for something to happen.
Now, the girls were hiding near the entrance to a bridge which led into more pathways and rooms. They quietly emerged and stopped just under the doorway. They looked around and Smaug was nowhere in sight.
“We’ve given him the slip.” Ottilie whispered.
“No.” Dorothea replied “He’s far too cunning for that.”
“But then where is he?” Nadja piped up.
Traude sighed. “I don’t know. But stay alert just in case.”
“What’ll we do now?” Brianna asked quietly.
“We’ll head for the eastern wing.” Traude replied “There may be a way out.”
“It’s too far.” Barbara whispered “We’ll never make it without being spotted.”
“Barbara, it’s our chance.” Traude hissed “We have to try.”
She then motioned for the girls to go forward and then, in single file, began crossing the bridge. Sweat dripped down their faces as they tried to remain as quiet as physically possible. Just as they reached the center of the bridge a loud clink sound caused them to freeze in their tracks. They all turned to Brianna who looked down at her feet and saw a gold coin at her feet. But she knew that gold coin wasn’t hers and as she looked up along with everyone else her eyes grew as big as dinner plates.
Above them was the source of the coin…Smaug’s belly. It was one of many coins falling off of Smaug’s belly as he crawled through the pathways just above them. He stretched out his wings grasping onto another bridge, with the dirt and dust from his tunnel borrowing flaking off his body. His foot landed with a thud on the skyway as the girls then began ambling away as quiet as possible. Amazingly, Smaug seemed to ignore them, instead continuing his search through the labyrinth of halls while the girls escaped to safety into the tunnel on the other side of the bridge.