Smaug the Tremendous and Mighty busied himself taking a bath within his hills of gold, rolling over and scrubbing at his scales with coins and jewels until they glistened as brightly as the gemstones themselves. He must look his best for the approaching award ceremony, after all–even if it was a tedious and nonsense ceremony designed by inferior humans. He must always look his most terribly best while in public! Even before lowly worms. Such was his pride.
With a final shake, and some added honey polish to make his scales extra glossy, he was ready to depart.
A knock echoed suddenly down the great hall of the mountain, coming from the newly refurbished door he’d had installed after a certain incident with dwarves. The pests. If only he could hire an exterminator and finish them all off for good!
“Yes?” His voice boomed down the hall. “If you dare to enter my domain, be prepared for a fiery death should I find your presence displeasing!”
Smaug unlocked the many bolts of the grand door and swung it open, only to find a surprise: There stood a dragon, armored in glorious purple scales. And though his size wasn’t as great as Smaug’s, it did come close. Despite himself, he admired the glistening of this dragon’s scales and wondered what sort of product he used to get such a shine. Smaug would not stoop himself so low as to ask, though.
“Your Magnificence Smaug,” greeted the purple dragon, “I have been sent here to escort you to the Silmaril Awards ceremony.”
“Oh?” Smaug sniffed haughtily, feeling quite pleased by the high form of address. “And what happened to that Rawls human? I thought she was the one putting this whole event-thing together.”
The dragon nodded slowly, almost sleepily. “Yes, but she has asked me to run and monitor the ceremony in her place, as she’s busy and has a fear of sudden-death-by-flames.”
Smaug gave the smallest of nods. He could understand how his fiery greatness would be intimidating for such flimsy mortals. “Very well. And who might you be? What title do you give yourself?” he asked curiously.
“I am Knight Pelur, the humble servant of the Madness Solver of Wonderland,” the purple dragon replied.
“The…what? Did you say servant?” Smaug’s giant eyes almost bulged out of his head. A dragon calling himself a SERVANT?
“What–what atrocity! You are a DRAGON. A dragon is no SERVANT to ANYONE!” he boomed.
Knight Pelur simply shrugged one shoulder.
Smaug’s mind was reeling. This Madness Solver person must be a creature of great important and significance, a supremely powerful being, to be able to command such a dragon as this…
Smaug heard an odd munching noise, and his attention returned from his deep thoughts to the dragon Pelur. The dragon was munching on something–it was very green. In fact, it appeared to be a tree. He held the trunk with his tail and chewed off the top of the maple tree as if it were a giant lollipop.
“What in blazing Middle Earth are you eating?!” Smaug exclaimed.
“A tree,” Pelur said lazily. “Mmm. The maple adds a nice sweetness.”
“But you’re a dragon!!”
“Yes. I’m vegetarian. Here, would you like to try some, Magnificent Smaug?” His tail brought the uprooted tree near.
Smaug pushed it away roughly. “Most certainly not! I command you never to eat such grotesque things in my presence ever again!!”
“Oh, okay.” Pelur finished the final bite and tossed the tree away. It rolled down the side of the mountain noisily and spooked a flock of birds.
Smaug shook his large head, completely baffled and disgusted.
Pelur cleared his throat and said, “Before we go, I was told to give you this.” He placed a glass bottle on the floor before him. “There has been too much destruction and upset during previous Magnificent Dragon award ceremonies, and so, Rawls has ordered me to have all dragons who are in attendance take this elvish potion.”
“A…potion?” Smaug neared the bottle with one large eye, inspecting it suspiciously.
“Yes. It will make you human, temporarily.” Pelur’s body began to transform, then. A swirl of smoke surrounded the purple dragon, and there was a flash of something and creaking of wings, and then… The smoke dissipated and there stood a human knight, dressed in purple plates of armor.
This time Smaug’s eyes did bulge out of his head. “You–you want me to do that?” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” Pelur stated simply, gnawing on a left-over leaf. “If you don’t, you won’t be allowed to attend. I’m sorry.”
Smaug felt like he might pass out, an experience that he had never felt before in all his many long years. Even the great battles of old could not compare to the fear that this little bottle of liquid presented.
“Surely, oh Wisest and Calamitous Smaug, you are not too afraid?” asked the now-human knight, his dragon eyes on Smaug, as if taunting the hesitation within him.
“AFRAID? ME?” Smaug laughed out a flame of fire, hiding his nerves behind the show of bravado and strength. “I am Smaug the Fearless!! Nothing has ever frightened me! Nor ever will!”
“Excellent.” Pelur pushed the bottle closer. “Then have a drink.”
Smaug eyed the bottle, the horrible bottle of doom. To become human…he could not imagine anything worse! And yet, it was also a test. If he refused, he would be admitting defeat, admitting to fear, and everyone present at the ceremony would ridicule his name…
No, he refused to allow anyone the satisfaction of ridiculing him! He would go to this stupid ceremony and show all just how great his bravery and spirit was! That nothing in all of Middle Earth nor beyond could ever make him tremble!
He lifted the bottle between his dexterous claws and drank…
The ceremony was beginning. All dragons and their relatives were present, though turned into human form, and stood waiting around the decorated stone stage at the base of the Lonely Mountain. There was an unusual assortment of vegetarian cuisine along the table booths, for some odd reason.
A woman with blue hair, in a feathery blue dress, picked up a leaf roll stuffed with slimy mushrooms. She smelled it, then made a face and said, “The Daisha does not approve.”
Waiting behind the stage’s curtain, Smaug looked at himself one more time in a standing mirror. He admired his human form: his skin smooth as the finest silken sheets, his hair shimmering woven threads of ruby gold, his ears sharp as elvish daggers, and his teeth bright as pearls… Yes, he made a fine human, indeed! He doubted that such a handsome specimen as himself had ever existed in human form until now!
He stood there, chuckling to himself and swishing his red elven robes, until Knight Pelur tapped his shoulder.
“It is time,” the knight said, and he held out a fancy pillow where laid the Silmaril medallion.
Smaug’s amber eyes latched onto the medallion. Such a lovely stone, this Silmaril…and full of untold power… Why couldn’t he have it for himself? Such grand treasures were meant to belong to someone worthy–and he could not imagine anyone being more worthy than himself. Especially not these pitiful nominee excuses for the Most Magnificent title!
He nodded to the knight and took the pillow. He moved with grace past the curtain and out onto the stage, and was greeted by thunderous applause. All the many slitted dragon eyes were on him, and he held his head high. Yes, this was the praise he was due, the respect he had earned, and he basked himself in it, letting them cheer his name: “Smaug the Fearless! Smaug the Great!”
He smoothed his hair back with a hand after a while and motioned for them all to quiet down. “Yes, yes, it is me, the one and only Smaug! Feast your eyes upon my greatness in human form, while you can, for it shall not happen again.”
He spread his arms wide and turned in place to show off his splendor. The red robes rustled and swirled around his muscular legs.
Pelur appeared at his side, so suddenly that Smaug startled, and handed him a piece of paper.
“Oh, yes, the nominees.” Smaug grumbled with a sigh. “I suppose I do have to mention them, don’t I?” He cleared his throat and addressed the audience. “I come before you once more to present this award.” He hefted the medallion. “To the dragon whom silly humankind believes is worthy of the Most Magnificent Dragon title.” He leaned forward to give the crowd an intense look with his piercing gaze. “The title clearly belongs to me, for none are more magnificent than I! Let us make that very clear. But unlike other lesser dragons, I have no need for an award to prove this fact.” He flipped his ruby gold locks over a shoulder. “And so, I instead choose to act as the presenter for this pompous event.”
He slid his gaze to the note and read. “Now that we have that established, here are this year’s nominees.” He gestured grandly with an arm towards the side of the stage. “Hulwen from Wingfeather Saga, Kazul from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Julio Aquino from Crockett and Crane, Gem from the Ilyon Chronicles, and lastly The Daisha from Moonscript.”
He looked over Hulwen, Julio, and The Daisha. “You three again. How many more years must I put up with you sorry lot?”
The Daisha woman sniffed. “How very rude.”
Hulwen shook her head of red hair in a gesture of rebuke towards Smaug, her missing eye and scars somehow adding elegance and power to her womanly appearance and short stature.
Julio threw him a smirk and puffed out his manly chest. “You won’t be seeing me again, old Smaug, don’t you worry! Today is finally my day! That award will be mine.” He laughed towards the sky. “You’d better be watching this, Father!”
“Call me old again, and your head will go missing.” Smaug proceeded to ignore the group and read on. “In fifth place is Gem.”
Gem’s shoulders slumped.
“In fourth place is Kazul.”
Kazul merely shrugged and busied with inspecting her human nails.
“Third place is Julio.”
Julio’s mouth went wide. “What?! Third?” He threw himself to the ground and pounded the dirt with his fists. “No! Not again!” he cried. “Father had better not be watching this… He isn’t hiding in the crowd somewhere, is he?”
Smaug continued, “Second place is The Daisha.”
The blue woman bowed her head in acceptance. “The Daisha feels most honored.”
“And now,” Smaug raised his voice, “the winner, the dragon deemed most worthy of this trifle award is…
Loud applause erupted. And Smaug couldn’t help but feel a twitch of jealousy, wondering if the applause he had received earlier had been louder than this or not.
Hulwen came forward, her steps timid yet determined in their lopsided gait, approaching Smaug.
Smaug considered the medallion upon the pillow he held, feeling drawn towards its power… Surely this scarred, lesser dragon did not deserve such a treasure.
No, only he himself deserved this Simaril!
Hulwen snatched the Silmaril medallion off the pillow, holding it up and gazing at it in wonder. Everyone cheered.
“No… NO!” Smaug roared suddenly and threw down the now-empty pillow. “That Simaril belongs to ME! Me, the greatest of all beings!!”
Smaug opened his jaws wide and blasted forth fire, a scorching blaze of death to eradicate all these pathetic creatures who dared to call themselves dragons, who dared to compete against his magnificence!
Or he would have, if he was in dragon form. Which he wasn’t. What came out of his human mouth was instead a little sputter of a flame, which quickly fizzled out and made him cough.
Silence spread, and the audience blinked at him through mixed expressions.
Then The Daisha burst out laughing. “Oh my, forgive my manners. But this is simply (heehee) most hilarious!”
Julio and Kazul also started laughing. And soon the air was filled with the sound as the audience mimicked Smaug’s attempt to breathe fire and made each other laugh.
“How–how DARE YOU!” Smaug roared. Although, in human form, his voice did not boom and carry nearly as grandly as it should have, and his stomping feet did not quake the earth beneath him. “CURSE THIS HUMAN FORM!”
Hulwen hurried off the stage and away with the Simaril, and Smaug gave chase.
“Give that back to me! I am the only one worthy! Do you hear me? GIVE IT BACK!” Smaug’s voice echoed after Hulwen. But the red dragon lady reached a river and dived in, and was quickly out of his sight.
Knight Pelur lifted a ripe cabbage from a table booth. “This is why we changed him into human form.” He munched on the cabbage. “Mmm, needs more salt.”
Smaug lifted his head to the sky and vowed, “I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE!”
And there you have it! Our winner for Most Magnificent Dragon! Do be aware and keep an eye on the sky while you celebrate, though. You never know when Smaug’s rage will be headed for your area. He won’t stay human for long… 😉
The purple dragon, Knight Pelur, is from my duology, Madness Solver in Wonderland:
Visit the fantasy character winners of all the other Silmaril Awards 2022 categories: