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Thirty-seven years ago, in the year 2941 of the Third Age in the reckoning of the Elves and the Men of the West, a fierce battle shook the roots of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. Orcs, Wild Wolves, Men, Dwarves and Elves clashed under a sky darkened by giant bats, their hatred fuelled by ancient quarrels. Many deeds of renown were done that day, and some heroes prevailed while others fell, in the end delivering a sweeping victory for the Free Peoples of the North.

A new alliance was born from the aftermath of that battle, now remembered as the Battle of Five Armies. In fact, if it had not been for the threat of Bolg’s invading host, rallying the Free Peoples under a single banner, the long years of petty misunderstandings would have flared into open warfare. The spirits of Elves, Men and Dwarves were embittered and made miserable by the growing darkness of Mirkwood and the ever-present menace of the great Dragon of Erebor. Each community had become suspicious of its neighbors and limited their dealings to meager trades. When the din of battle subsided, the surviving Free Peoples looked upon each other with an open heart once again.

Once freed from the threat of Smaug the Dragon, and with two thirds of the Goblin warriors of the North eradicated, the inhabitants of the northern regions of Wilderland have the opportunity to finally look forward to a prosperous future. But thirty-seven years after the Dragon’s demise, peace is still a fragile thing over the edge of the Wild, to be cared for and looked after, especially for those who dwell in its darkest corners.

The lands extending from the Misty Mountains as far as the Running River are known as Wilderland. There are many good reasons for such an ominous name. Not only did the region once host a Dragon’s lair, but its greater part is occupied by the forest of Mirkwood, home to giant spiders, Orcs and other dangerous creatures.

Wilderland has changed significantly in recent years. Smaug, the Dragon of Erebor, bane of the Northern world, has been killed, and the Necromancer has been driven from his fastness in Southern Mirkwood. Many proud folk are reclaiming their lost dominions: to the north rises the Lonely Mountain, a solitary peak that houses an underground stronghold of Dwarves of the line of Durin; on the valley below stands Dale, a city of Northmen newly rebuilt from its ruins, close to the trading town of Esgaroth on the Long Lake; from hidden halls dug under the northern eaves of Mirkwood issue again the hosts of King Thranduil, ruler of the Wood-elves; near the Ford of Carrock on the river Anduin, the Beornings, a folk of Men following the lead of Beorn the Skin-changer, keep their watch; while to the south the settlements of the Woodmen are multiplying along the vale of the Great River.

It is the year 2978 of the Third Age, and the lands east of the Misty Mountains are astir. From the cloud-shrouded peaks above the High Pass to the spider-infested gloom of the forest of Mirkwood, paths long-deserted are trodden once again. Busy merchants carry their wares to new markets, messengers bring tidings from foreign realms, and kings send forth armed men to extend their influence and the rule of law. Some say that a new age of freedom has begun, a time for adventure and great deeds to reclaim glories lost in long centuries of oppression and decline.

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