One day Brabbo and I met at a beacon outside of Othrikar, some stack of firewood on top of a hill that probably can be lit to warn others. To the east loomed a massive rock-wall with a pass cut through that leads into Angmar. We headed in that direction because the rangers had told us that there was an aurochs herd and they needed some meat and hides. Those animals were a beautiful sight, peacefully grazing among the trees. Brabbo even walked up to one an padded it on the head! They made rumbling noises, but never threatened to harm us in any way. Except maybe an old male, a silverback, who seemed to be the alpha male and a bit protective of his herd, so we made sure to stay away from him. It didn’t feel right to slaughter these wonderful animals, an we contemplated if some warg-meat and fur would also do, but then the rangers were hard pressed and there were quite a lot of buffalos so we thought it might not hurt the herd too much. But dworf, when enraged they did pack a good punch and were not so easy to take down.
Brabbo told me that sometimes a dragon can be seen here. I was very curious, I had never seen a dragon. We searched for it but couldn’t find it. Brabbo went back to Esteldin, while I decided to spend the night hiding in some bushes between a small grove of trees. There were wargs and sipders around, but I thought I was well hidden and safe. Then, when I woke up the next morning and peered out of the bush, lo and behold! The dragon was sitting right there, no less than 40 m away! Hadn’t heard him land at all, I must have been really sound asleep. Glad I don’t snore as many dwarfs do. It was a lot smaller than I thought dragons were, at least from the stories I had listened to from Mount Erebor, but it was still an amazing sight. It looked as if it was cleaning itself like a little kitten, licking its wings and scratching its head on the ground. Sometimes it rose and flapped it wings.
I went to get Brabbo as I knew he was out there working for the rangers too and he also was awestruck. We wondered how many dragons exist in the world. Maybe it was an offspring of Smaug and flew over from the Lonely Mountain looking for its own treasure hort. Ha, Brabbo even noticed it had landed right next to a gold deposit! And if it was very young that might also explain its small size. For a dragon at least.
We pondered what to do. Should we just leave it? Brabbo thought it was too dangerous, it might attack Esteldin. I remarked that it might also eat some of the wargs or even trouble the camped orc armies. We could also go back to Esteldin and tell the rangers of our find and then see what they thought would be the best thing to do. The nearby aurochs at least didn’t appear to be troubled. Well in the end, we decided we should try and chase it away, even though it looked mighty powerful. It was a most foolish thing to do.
Shouting “Baruk-khazad” like a real hero I charged in, swinging my axes while Brabbo was… well, he played a theorbo and sang. Apparently that annoyed the dragon quite a bit and it started attacking him. Could also be it was just defending its gold. Anyway, it was not a dragon that would let itself be chased off so easily. I saw Brabbo taking a serious beating, so I shouted at the dragon and hit my axe against its tail. It turned around and suddenly it became very very hot. The air was scorching. And the dragon all of a sudden looked much bigger than it had from a distance. It rose and flapped its wings and I was blown back 10, maybe 20 meters. While I ran back I saw Brabbo go down. Noooo, Brabbo!!! There was no chance I could win this, all I could do was save my skin, and I ran away as fast as I could, tears streaming into my beard. We lost Brabbo… We should have never tried this, it was pure insanity! And why must I be a dwarf, my legs are so short! The angered dragon was in hot pursuit and closing in fast, so I ran through some trees, hoping he might get stuck. But he just ran around them!
From the corner of my eye I could see Brabbo also darting off. Oh, I was overjoyed, it looks like he had just played dead! The dragon must have also noticed him, it swung around and breathed a column of fire at Brabbo. As if a last reminder to leave him alone. And then it went back to the gold deposit. It stopped chasing us, maybe it was afraid that someone might steal his gold while it was unguarded. We barely survived this encounter and I swore to myself to never fight a dragon again, at least not unless with a big group of the most able companions.
The hunter becoming the hunted
The next day, back at Esteldin’s Skirmish camp, I found Hedge sleeping in his tent. The others arrived shortly after. It was another rainy day (yes, it rains a lot in the northern-downs) and he was lazy. He wanted to stay in and listen to stories of the city of Dale and Mount Erebor and the dragon Smaug. Well, Brabbo and I had another story to tell of a REAL dragon we had seen and that was closeby, ha! So we went back to where it was but the dragon had flown off. Even took the gold deposit with him. There was a path leading into the angmarian rock-wall and we speculated that could be the way the dragon went and so we followed the pass upwards into the mountains. Hedge was not too excited about it and yes, we were about to see dragons, and not just one!
First all we saw were some big lizards, a few of them guarding nests with colorful eggs. Willameena cut one of them open and disovered a small sac. Don’t know what she was doing with it, but there were talks about a purse or a bag. As we walked further up, the sun was blocked out and it got dark. Then we saw the first dragon! It was on a ledge a bit above us, walking upwards. But it was reddish and not the one Brabbo and I had seen the other day. We found a corpse, maybe the owner of an abandoned hunter’s cabin we had seen in the valley below. Hedge grew more and more uneasy and pleaded for us to go back, but our curiosity won and so we continued going upwards. Then the dragon saw us and charged! I was frightened at first but then it turned out that it was not really that powerful. It breathed a bit of fire, yes, and it had wings, but we were five and able to kill it quite easily.
As we went on we saw more of them walking this mountain area. We even fought more. They were not too big, so we wondered if they were really dragons or just closely related dragon-thingys, wanna-be-dragons so to say. I examined what looked like dragon pooh when suddenly there was a dark shadow of big wings on the ground and a rush of warm air passing over me. Looking up, I saw a really BIG dragon flying deeper into the mountains. Now, THAT was a dragon! Might be the same one Brabbo and I had seen. The others had seen it too and we discussed if we should continue to go even further up to find the place where it may have landed, maybe even its nest. We did not arrive at a clear agreement and went on a bit more, but there were more and more of these dragonlings walking the gills, some of them looked bigger and there was an overall feeling that we were getting ourselves into too much trouble perhaps. So we finally decided to leave this gap and go back down. Hedge was really happy about it, I was happy too and I guess the others also. There were more urgent things to do than perishing in the mountains looking for dragon-trouble.