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Timeline Event

Quest of Erebor

Meaning: Also called the Quest of the Lonely Mountain

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Dates: April 27, 2941 ~ June 22, 2942

Description:
Bilbo Baggins sets out with Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield and 12 other Dwarven companions to reclaim Erebor (The Lonely Mountain) from the clutches of Smaug the Dragon:

... there came about by chance a meeting between Gandalf and Thorin that changed all the fortunes of the House of Durin, and led to other and greater ends beside. On a time Thorin, returning west from a journey, stayed at Bree for the night. There Gandalf was also. He was on his way to the Shire.... He was weary, and thought to rest there for a while.

... [Gandalf] was troubled ... by the perilous state of the North; because he knew then already that Sauron was plotting war, and intended ... to attack Rivendell. But to resist any attempt from the East ... there were now only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. And ... [the] Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. How then could the end of Smaug be achieved?

It was even as Gandalf sat and pondered this that Thorin stood before him, and said: 'Master Gandalf ... I should be glad to speak with you. For you have often come into my thoughts of late, as if I were bidden to seek you.' ...

'That is strange, Thorin Oakenshield,' [Gandalf] said. 'For I have thought of you also; and though I am on my way to the Shire, it was in my mind that is the way also to your halls.'

'... you would be welcome there.... For they say that you are wise and know more than any other of what goes on in the world; and I ... would be glad of your counsel.'

'I will come,' said Gandalf; 'for I guess that we share one trouble at least. The Dragon of Erebor is on my mind....'

The story is told elsewhere of what came of that meeting: of the strange plan that Gandalf made for the help of Thorin, and how Thorin and his companions set out from the Shire on the quest of the Lonely Mountain that came to great ends unforeseen.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk

... there came one day to Bilbo's door the great Wizard, Gandalf the Grey, and thirteen dwarves with him: none other, indeed, than Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of kings, and his twelve companions in exile. With them he set out, to his own lasting astonishment, on a morning of April, it being then the year 1341 Shire-reckoning, on a quest of great treasure, the dwarf-hoards of the Kings under the Mountain, beneath Erebor in Dale, far off in the East.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

The party was assailed by Orcs in a high pass of the Misty Mountains as they went towards Wilderland; and so it happened that Bilbo was lost for a while in the black orc-mines deep under the mountains, and there, as he groped in vain in the dark, he put his hand on a ring, lying on the floor of a tunnel. He put it in his pocket. It seemed then like mere luck.

Trying to find his way out, Bilbo went on down to the roots of the mountains, until he could go no further. At the bottom of the tunnel lay a cold lake far from the light, and on an island of rock in the water lived Gollum. He was a loathsome little creature: he paddled a small boat with his large flat feet, ... catching blind fish with his long fingers, and eating them raw. He ate any living thing, even orc, if he could catch it and strangle it without a struggle. He possessed a secret treasure ... a ring of gold that made its wearer invisible. It was the one thing he loved, his 'precious', and he talked to it, even when it was not with him. For he kept it hidden safe in a hole on his island, except when he was hunting....

Maybe he would have attacked Bilbo at once, if the ring had been on him when they met; but it was not, and the hobbit held in his hand ... a sword. So to gain time Gollum challenged Bilbo to the Riddle-game, saying that if he asked a riddle which Bilbo could not guess, then he would kill him and eat him; but if Bilbo defeated him, then he would do as Bilbo wished: he would lead him to a way out of the tunnels.

Since he was lost in the dark without hope ... Bilbo accepted the challenge; and they asked one another many riddles. In the end Bilbo won the game, more by luck ... than by wits; for he was stumped at last for a riddle to ask, and cried out, as his hand came upon the ring he had picked up and forgotten: What have I got in my pocket? This Gollum failed to answer, though he demanded three guesses.

... Bilbo pressed him to keep his word; for the thought came to him that this slimy creature might prove false, even though such promises were held sacred.... But after ages alone in the dark Gollum's heart was black, and treachery was in it. He slipped away, and returned to the island.... There, he thought, lay his ring. He was hungry now, and angry, and once his 'precious' was with him he would not fear any weapon at all.

But the ring was not on the island; he had lost it.... His screech sent a shiver down Bilbo's back, though he did not yet understand what had happened. But Gollum had at last leaped to a guess, too late. What has it got in its pocketses? he cried. The light in his eyes was like a green flame as he sped back to murder the hobbit and recover his 'precious'. Just in time Bilbo saw his peril, and he fled blindly up the passage away from the water; and once more he was saved by his luck. For just as he ran he put his hand in his pocket, and the ring slipped quietly on to his finger. So it was that Gollum passed him without seeing him, and went to guard the way out.... Warily Bilbo followed him, as he went along ... talking to himself...; from which talk at last even Bilbo guessed the truth, and hope came to him in the darkness: he himself had found the marvellous ring and a chance of escape from the orcs and from Gollum.

At length they came to a halt before an unseen opening that led to the lower gates of the mines, on the eastward side of the mountains. There Gollum crouched at bay, smelling and listening; and Bilbo was tempted to slay him with his sword. But pity stayed him, and though he kept the ring ... he would not use it to help him kill the wretched creature.... In the end ... he leaped over Gollum in the dark, and fled....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

With the help of the ring [Bilbo] escaped from the orc-guards at the gate and rejoined his companions. He used the ring many times on his quest, chiefly for the help of his friends; but he kept it secret from them as long as he could.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

The Dragon was slain by Bard of Esgaroth, but there was battle in Dale. For the Orcs came down upon Erebor as soon as they heard of the return of the Dwarves; and they were led by Bolg, son of that Azog whom Dáin slew in his youth. In that first Battle of Dale, Thorin Oakenshield was mortally wounded; and he died and was laid in a tomb under the Mountain with the Arkenstone upon his breast. There fell also Fili and Kili, his sister-sons. But Dáin Ironfoot, his cousin, who came from the Iron Hills to his aid and was also his rightful heir, became then King Dáin II, and the Kingdom under the Mountain was restored, even as Gandalf had desired.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk

[Bilbo] returned to his home at Bag End on June the 22nd in his fifty-second year (S.R. 1342)....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

After his return to his home he never spoke of [the ring] again to anyone, save Gandalf and Frodo; and no one else in the Shire knew of its existence, or so he believed. Only to Frodo did he show the account of his Journey that he was writing.

His sword, Sting, Bilbo hung over his fireplace, and his coat of marvellous mail, the gift of the Dwarves from the Dragon-hoard, he lent to a museum, to the Michel Delving Mathom-house in fact. But he kept in a drawer at Bag End the old cloak and hood that he had worn on his travels; and the ring, secured by a fine chain, remained in his pocket.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

Contributors:
Anglachel - 04.16.03
added quotes: Elena Tiriel 25Sep05

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