In Beatrice’s house, Shane and Taduesz were doing their best to keep order while Ophelia, Bertha and Frieda hastily helped Beth and Terrence pack their things.
“Remember, only pack what you need!” Shane ordered “Where are the weapons mom had?!”
“They’re under her bed just like I said!” Beth replied from the bedroom.
“Bring them along!” Shane barked.
There was a thudding noise and Taduesz and Shane looked to see Bertha helping Kamilla up off the floor as Ophelia walked into the room wearing a grey otter coat and with a knapsack round her right shoulder.
“Kamilla, you’re leg still isn’t well enough to walk!” she said.
“But I can walk!” Kamilla insisted.
“I don’t doubt you can!” Ophelia replied “But for health reasons you can’t walk on that leg until at least tomorrow!”
“She’s right!” Taduesz said as he made sure he had his weapons “Bertha, help her down to the boat!”
Alright, then!” Bertha responded.
As she led Kamilla down towards the basement, Terrence then walked up Taduesz wearing a dark blue coat and an aqua scarf which Beatrice had hand-knitted herself for his last birthday.
“We can’t leave without mum!” he demanded.
“Listen, kid, if you stay here you’re brother and sister will die.” Taduesz replied “Is that what you’re mother would want?”
“Terrence…” Ophelia said as she approached the two “Why don’t you help me pack some food?”
Terrence sighed and followed after Ophelia while everyone else resumed their duties. Noting his concern over his mother, Ophelia then placed her left arm on Terrence’s right shoulder when they got to the kitchen and started packing rations and food, much to his surprise.
“Don’t worry.” Ophelia said softly “I’m sure you’re mothers alright.”
Not long after all the guards had left their bows and arrows and various weapons, Beatrice had started slamming into the prison door and the window bars. She did it at least three times and was starting to feel sore. She slammed against the prison door a fourth and final time but the only thing she succeeded in was hurting her right arm. She exclaimed in pain as she stepped back into the center of the room with all the commotion outside making her even more anxious.
“Damn it!” she snarled in irritation.
She then glanced towards the prison cot and took notice of the sheets. They were quite long and wide (about half the size of the bed). She then looked towards the prison bars. If they had enough between them to fit her arm then they could undoubtedly fit a rope of some kind. A rope made out of the bed sheets.
Suddenly, some people outside started frantically shouting and she looked out the prison window just as Smaug passed over-head, his shadow covering over half the block. He passed by so fast he blew the snow off the rooftops even with all the extra snow falling from the sky. Beatrice wasted no time in hurrying over to the bed and yanking the sheets off. If she was going to act, she had to due to it now.
In Beatrice’s basement, Kamilla and Bertha waited quietly in the back of the boat while the neighbors had already cast off and were well on they’re way out of town or were running around looking for help. The falling snow added an almost surreal beauty to the scene despite the looming presence of a fire-breathing dragon. Just then Taduesz, Ophelia, Frieda, Shane, Beth and Terrence emerged from upstairs and started throwing bags into the boat, the first being Beth placing the weapons onto the boat at Bertha and Kamilla’s feet. As the rest started loading, Shane hopped into the boat, flopping two bags (which held clothes) onto the boat and then looking towards Frieda who’d just placed another sack onto the boat.
“Come on, hurry!” Taduesz demanded.
“That’s the last of them!” Ophelia said as she flopped a knapsack onto the boat.
“Okay, let’s go!” Taduesz ordered as he climbed into the boat.
“Give me your hand!” Shane asked Frieda with his hand outreached.
Frieda took his hand without hesitance and gently walked onto the boat but didn’t notice that she was blushing as she sat down with Shane while Beth, Ophelia and Terrence clambered onto the boat. Shane then let go of Frieda’s grasp as he took an oar and Ophelia another and they pushed against the dock, with the boat drifting away from the house and onto the watery street. They then began rowing with Bertha grabbing a third oar which had been tied to the back of the boat to act as a rudder and she gently steered the boat while Taduesz looked on ahead to make sure they didn’t anyone.
It was then that Smaug soared past the street and everyone screamed while everyone in the boat just stared in frightened awe, not knowing what Smaug had in store.
Turns out that sweep Smaug had done over the street was his last phony swoop as he did a dizzying aerobatic maneuver and soon closed in on a section of town nearby the boardwalk which led to the other side. In fact, he was heading for the center of town. He dive bombed towards the water as his chest lit up brighter than it had before and he righted himself just fifteen feet above the water with the tips of his wings skimming the water’s surface. He then got slightly more airborne, took a deep breath and just seconds before he’d pass over the buildings, he roared and unleashed a tornado of fire onto the town. His fire practically melted the snow falling around him, blew the roofs open on buildings or incinerated them and anyone unfortunate enough to be left inside. The cold, damp wooden caught fire like it was doused in oil.
People screamed and shouted in horror and if they were on the bridges or boardwalks ran for cover as the fire consumed anyone unlucky enough to be in the way. Smaug then passed over the center of town, leaving a burning wreckage behind him as he did a six-g turn and targeted a nearby section of town.
The fire billowed around the marketplace with debris falling off buildings along dead bodies or living people who were practically burning alive. There were even boats in the river avenues that had been set on fire and if any of them had people in them, they were most likely already dead.
Buildings burned faster than clothing or people, with the embers from the fire flowing through the air with the snow. Since the buildings were so close together, the chance of a neighboring building catching fire was inevitable. Clothes accidently left out to hang only fueled the fire. People on the boardwalks and walkways hurried round town trying to get away from the inferno as quickly as possible as the smoke and embers billowed higher into the sky. Beatrice’s troops were spread out over town and fighting valiantly. Every time Smaug made a pass, they fired their arrows at him, even if they proved to no avail. But this helped buy time for people to leave the town or make for the boardwalk land-bridge which hadn’t been burned down yet.
Smaug approached another street which happened to be unsigned and launched another wave of fire onto the avenue. In fact, Taduesz, the girls and Beatrice’s children had just turned onto another street when the fire whooshed past just twenty-six feet behind them. Taduesz looked back towards the fire as it turned into smoke, with his face going pale. He’d never seen fire of this magnitude in his life or this kind of devastation. All of this because a group of dwarf women entered a mountain.
In another part of town, Julie, Amanda, Susan, Bernadette, Edwin and June were stuck in their great gilded boat with Bernadette, Susan and Edwin rowing like mad while the gold was near the front of the boat in a man-sized pile. Everyone the street was doing their best to put out the fire around them while some people desperately tried to escape.
“Come on! Come on!” Julie ordered loudly “Faster! Faster! Don’t you know the meaning of haste?!”
“It’s coming back around!” a man screamed.
Sure enough, Smaug swooped in and unleashed his fire onto the buildings around the river, causing mini-explosions inside them. The fire barely missed the great gilded boat when, in a shocking act of heroism, grabbed Amanda and wrapped her in her arms and coat in an attempt to be a human shield as the fire passed by, causing the building behind to explode and hurl an innocent couple trying to get off their balcony to their deaths. Julie shot her head up as Amanda moved away from her mother’s grasp.
“Oh, bother dragons and everything having to do with them!” Amanda barked.
“I’m with you there!” Julie responded “If only we could take more of these poor people with us! But they’re hardly-”
“Worth it!” Amanda interjected “I quite agree!”
Suddenly, she felt something grab her right leg and her eyes darted towards her leg to see a young, dark-haired girl who looked about Amanda’s age and was grasping onto Amanda’s leg with blood dripping from a nasty cut on her face.
“Help me, please!” she all but screamed with tears in her eyes.
In any other scenario, Amanda would have helped her but upon seeing the blood on the girl’s face she felt absolutely nauseated with her face briefly going pale as she then kicked the girl away into the water and stepped back towards her mother while she ruffled her coat as she wrapped her arms around herself. The girl, meanwhile, was helped onto shore by her father who had been searching earnestly for her.
“Why on earth did you do that?!” Bernadette demanded in her thick accent “We could have helped her!”
“Shut up and focus on rowing!” Julie barked “We can’t save everyone!”
“That doesn’t mean we don’t stop and help!” Bernadette argued.
“Good heavens!” Julie snarled rolling her eyes “If you-”
They’re conversation was briefly interrupted by an explosion far behind them which almost knocked Julie into the gold pile but she managed to keep her balance and then glared back at Bernadette.
“If you value your job or your kid you will not stop rowing!” Julie yelled “That is an order!”
“Look out!” cried out a voice.
Before Julie and Amanda could see who on earth was yelling at them they were nearly knocked down by the collision with another boat. That other, smaller boat turned out to be the boat that had Bertha, Ophelia, Frieda, Kamilla, Shane, Beth, Terrence and Taduesz in it. When the two boats knocked together, everyone in the smaller boat lurched forward due to the impact. Also, some of Julie’s gold started falling into the water and sinking faster than a piece of armor. At first, however, Julie and Amanda didn’t take notice while Taduesz and the others just looked in dumbfounded bafflement as the great gilded boat passed them by.
“Watch where you’re going, damn it!” Julie said “Come on, row faster!”
“Mama, look!” Amanda cried out.
It was then that Julie finally noticed that the gold was slipping off the boat and into the water. All her wealth down the drain. Or lake as it were.
“My gold!” she cried out waving her hands up and down “My gold!”
“We’re carrying too much weight!” Amanda piped up “We need to dump something!”
“Quite right!” Julie responded “Bernadette, any ideas?!”
Bernadette hesitated to answer for a moment. She stopped rowing then looked to her left to see the burning town she called home, it’s fire and smoke blazing and billowing ever higher as the falling snow from the sky added an eerie surreal-ness to it all. She then turned and looked to her husband and daughter who were right in front of her along with Susan. Her daughter looked at her with extreme worry which made her feel even worse. She thought back to just that morning, to when the dwarves came to them for help but they had to turn them away.
“Are you just going to let her bully you like that?!” one of them had said.
She looked then to Julie and Amanda who were looking very cross. Maybe the dwarf was right. This wasn’t servitude. Or at least how she pictured it. It felt more like slavery. And it seemed her friends agreed with her.
“You know, my lady…” she finally said “…we do have something to dump over.”
And then before Julie and Amanda could do anything about it, they were thrown over the side of the boat into the freezing water, clothes and everything, while Bernadette and the others then began hastily unloading the gold and jewels as a further act of defiance while their employers just watched in angered shock.