The wealth of the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain was immense, and famous in lands far beyond their Kingdom under the Mountain. News of it even reached the ears the Dragons, and the greatest of their number, Smaug, flew to Erebor to capture its treasures for himself.
The King under the Mountain at that time was Thrór, and Smaug's assault was witnessed from outside the Mountain by the King's young grandson Thorin, then just twenty-four years old. Landing on the Mountain itself, Smaug passed down its slopes, setting fire to the woods and sending up a great steam from the Running River, so that the whole valley of Dale was filled with fog. Waiting at the Gate, Smaug dealt with the Dwarves attempting to escape that way, and then wiped out the warriors of Dale before beginning the sack itself. Every corridor and tunnel was cleared, and the treasures of Erebor were gathered in the Great Hall of Thráin, where Smaug settled to enjoy his newly won gold.
The destruction of Erebor was almost complete, but some of its Dwarves succeeded in escaping. Among these were King Thrór and his son Thráin, who used a secret passage in the Mountain to evade the Dragon. After the sack of their home, the survivors of Erebor travelled southwards, and began a long wandering through Middle-earth. The Dragon Smaug, meanwhile, lay on the golden bed that he would hold for more than a hundred and seventy years.
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