A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

In the one thousand, nine hundred, seventy-fourth year of the Third Age, the forces of Angmar invaded Arnor, putting its armies to flight, destroying nearly all its cities and fortresses, and occupying its capital in the North Downs. King Arvedui and his bodyguard escaped the sack of Fornost only to perish in Forochel. When a combined army of Elves and Men crushed the Witch-king forces the following year, little remained of the once-proud North Kingdom of the Dúnedain.

Arvedui’s son Aranarth survived, however. The kingdom shattered, Aranarth elected not to claim the elendilmir. Instead, he took for himself and his line “Chieftain of the Dúnedain” and led the surviving Dúnedain into an exile of sorts, vowing to guard what remained of the North Kingdom: Breeland, the Shire, Tharbad, and a few other villages scattered throughout Eriador between the Lhûn and the Mitheithel, north of the Greyflood and south of Forochel. With the help of Master Elrond Peredhel and the Elves of Rivendell, these Dúnedain settled “the Angle,” a narrow country south of the Great East Road between Mitheithel and the Bruinen. They became a secretive people, shunning the company of other Men save to warn them of danger or collect intelligence.

For over nine centuries, the Dúnedain of the North have survived, guarding Eriador alongside the sons of Master Elrond and the wandering companies of Lord Glorfindel. Alas, the Firstborn tire of the task. Every year, more set foot on the road to Lindon and the Grey Havens, the last stop before departing Middle Earth. Soon, perhaps, only the Dúnedain, derisively called “Rangers” and worse by the Men and Hobbits they protect, shall remain to safeguard Eriador.

Yet, not all is cause for distress. Some five years ago, in July 2941, the White Council drove the Necromancer from Dol Guldur, freeing Mirkwood from his influence for the first time in nearly two millennia. A few months later, a company of Durin’s Folk and a Hobbit from the Shire roused Smaug, the dragon of Erebor. During its subsequent attack on Laketown, a Mannish archer slew Smaug with a lucky arrow. Following the fire-drake’s death, armies of Goblins from the Misty Mountains, Elves of Mirkwood, Men of the Long Lake, and Dwarves from the Iron Hills converged on the Lonely Mountain in search of the dragon’s treasure. In a sharp battle at the foot of the Lonely Mountain, the Goblins were defeated by a hasty alliance of the other belligerents. Thanks to this series of three great strokes, struck close on one another, the folk of the North and Wilderland could breathe more easily.

Now, traffic on the Great East Road between the Dwarf holds of the Ered Luin and the twin kingdoms of Erebor and Dale promise opportunities for trade in Eriador not seen in centuries. Likewise, the annihilation of the Goblin army at Erebor should prevent the Orcs of the Misty Mountains from greatly troubling Eriador or Wilderland for a decade or two at the least. Men, following Bard, the slayer of Smaug, founded the Kingdom of Dale. Similarly, Men from the East and South redouble their efforts to settle the Anduin Valley north of Gladden Fields, many flocking to the standard of Beorn the Skinchanger. Even King Thranduil’s Elves seem unusually vigorous, cautiously expanding their influence in Mirkwood to undo the Necromancer’s evils.

Naturally, the Dúnedain of the North are pleased by this resurgence of the Free Peoples in Wilderland. After all, stability in the East must logically contribute to prosperity in Breeland. For a generation, maybe, the Rangers might gather intelligence further afield and Dúnadan farmers and crofters tend their fields and livestock in peace, reasonably confident in a diminished threat to Eriador. Their watchfulness must continue, but for now, the Shadow seems less ominous in the North.

Rangers of the North

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