The Dwarf Kingdom Under the Desolation of Smaug
‘All about the Lonely Mountain the lands were desolate and burned,
for nothing could grow, before it was scorched and blackened by the fire of the dragon.‘
Far to the east, over ranges and rivers lies a single solitary peak. The Lonely Mountain rose up out of the eastern wastes, a mighty mountain of rock, singular and alone in the lands upon which it reared up it’s stony head. East of the forest of Mirkwood and west of the iron hills the mountain peak lay just below the Withered Heath and north of the vast and empty plain west of the Sea of Rhûn.
This great upthrusting of mountain rock was rich in gold, silver, copper and precious stones. Discovered by Thráin I in his youth, it was here that a great number of the dwarves fled after the death of Durin IV and the coming of the Balrog to Khazad-dûm. Thrór became King under the Mountain and ruled this great realm of the dwarves, that many say rivaled the wealth of Moria, if not it’s vast size. Upon Thrór’s hand was one of the Seven Dwarven Rings of Power made by Sauron and though it could not turn him to evil, it created a desire in his heart that could never be quenched.
Such riches did not go unnoticed, and the great dragon Smaug come out of the north and took the vast treasure for his own. Under the dominion of this deadly fire drake, the wastes about the mountain were named the Desolation of Smaug.
In the home of Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, Gandalf, thirteen dwarves and one hobbit, hatched a plan to begin a quest that would take them to the ancient realm of Erebor and into the jaws of a dragon!
On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shade he spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.
“This was made by by Thror , your grandfather, Thorin.” he (Gandalf) said in answer to the dwarves excited questions. ” it is a plan of the Mountain.”
“I don’t see that this will help us much.” said Throin disappointingly after a glance. I remember the Mountain well enough and the lands about it. And I know where the Mirkwood is, and the Withered Heath where the great dragons bred.”
“There is a dragon marked in red on the mountain,” said Balin, “but it will be easy enough to find him without that, if ever we arrive there.”
“There is on point you haven’t noticed,” said the wizard, “and that is the secret entrance. You see the rune on the West side, and the hand pointing to it from the other runes? That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls.”
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘An Unexpected Party’
Bilbo clung to the barrels of the elves as he and his dwarven companions made their escape down the Forest River from the halls of the Wood Elves.
Suddenly the cliff fell away. The shores sank. The trees ended. Then Bilbo saw a sight.
The lands opened wide about him, filled with the waters of the river which broke up and wandered in a hundred winding courses, or halted in marshes and pools dotted with isles on every side; but a strong water flowed on steadily through the midst. And far away, it dark head in a torn cloud, there loomed the Mountain! Its nearest neighbors to the North-east and the tumbled land that joined it to them could not be seen. All alone it rose and looked across the marshes to the forest. The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he din not like the look of it in the least!
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘A Warm Welcome’
As the company made its way across the Long Lake from Esgaroth, reaching the eaves of the Mountain, a sight greeted them as the mists cleared.
In two days going they rowed right up the Long Lake and passed out out into the River Running, and now thy could all see the Lonely Mountain towering grim and tall before them. They knew they were drawing near to the end of their journey, and that it might be a very horrible end. The land about them grew bleak and barren, though once, as Thorin told them it had been green and fair. There was little grass, and before long there was neither bush nor tree, and only broken and blackened stumps to speak of one long vanished. The were come to the Desolation of the Dragon, and they were come at the waning of the year.
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘On the Doorstep’
Thorin Oakenshield sent an expedition to Ravenhill, to spy out the ruins of the Front Gate in the valley before Erebor. Bilbo, Balin, Fili and Kili went to search out what could be seen of the Dragon.
They reached the skirts of the Mountain all the same without meeting any danger of any sign of the Dragon other than the wilderness he had made about his lair. The Mountain lay dark and silent before them and ever higher above them. The made their camp on the western side of the great southern spur, which ended in a height called Ravenhill. On this there had been an old watch-post; but they dared not climb it yet, it was too exposed.
Before setting out to search for the hidden door, on which all their hopes rested, Thorin sent out a scouting expedition to spy out the land to the South where the Front gate stood. For this purpose, he chose Balin and Fili and Kili, and with them went Bilbo. The marched under the grey and silent cliffs to the feet of Ravenhill. There the river, after winding a wide loop over the valley of Dale, turned from the Mountain on its road to the Lake, flowing swift and noisily. It’s banks were bare and rocky, tall and steep above the stream; and gazing out from it over the narrow water, foaming and splashing among the boulders, they could see in the wide valley shadowed by the Mountain’s arms the grey ruins pf ancient houses, towers and walls.
“There lies all that is left of Dale,” said Balin. “The mountain’s sides were green with woods and all the sheltered valley rich and pleasant in the days when the bells rang in the town.” He looked both sad and grim as he said this; he had been one of Thorin’s companions on the day the Dragon came.
They did not dare to follow the river much further towards the Gate; but they went on beyond the end of the southern spur, until laying hidden behind a rock they could look out and see the dark cavernous opening in a great cliff-wall between the arms of the Mountain. Out of it the waters of the Running River sprang; and out of it too there came a stream and a dark smoke. Nothing moved in the waste, save the vapour and the water, and ever now and again a black ominous crow. The only sound was the sound of the stony water, and every now and again the harsh croak of a bird. Balin shuddered.
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘On the Doorstep’