08 · Avenues of trade
The major thoroughfare in this region is the Men Mithrin which winds its way along the feet of the Ered Mithrin. It traverses the thin strip of open woodland known as the Narrows, between the mountains and the forest of Mirkwood. During the summer months (from c. 1350 to 1975) wains from Rhûn travel in large caravans bound for Angmar. They are closely guarded by Easterlings under Varchaz during the day, and by Orcs (under Ukog — see 6.1) at night. The supply trains travel along the Men-Rhûnen to the point where it meets the Men Mithrin, several miles east of the Narrows. The Men Mithrin crosses the Taurduin (S. « Forest River »), in the center of the Narrows, by the means of a stout bridge. The bridge is wide enough for two wains to cross at once, but cannot support the weight of two wains fully laden. This means that the Rhûnnish waggoneers often have to undertake the tedious process of loading and unloading their goods. After the fall of Angmar, in T.A. 1975, the bridge is no longer properly maintained. As such it becomes unsafe in the following years, and by the time of the War of the Ring, in T.A. 3018–3020, traces of the bridge have all but disappeared.
Other roads in the Grey Mountains region are less frequently traveled and arc generally in a worse state. The trails made by the Orcs are serviceable at best, at worst they are blocked by rock falls, avalanches, and even flooding. The Ice-orc trails are little better, but at least they are usually open. Travel on these trails are but two thirds of the normal speed for non Ice-orcs or Orcs).
The Dwarven roads, typically, are well made. They link the Men Mithrin to the settlements of Silverplunge, Thundercleft and Norr-dum. Other roads also link the settlements of Long Peak and Silverpit to Norr-dum and Thundercleft. They are well travelled (at certain times during the Third Age — see 2.0) and are provisioned with resting caves every seven to fourteen miles, depending on the terrain.
Trade between the peoples of the region is virtually nonexistent, although prior to the Plague years (1635–1639) there was a serviceable (and unique) agreement between the Dwarves of Silverplunge and the Beornings.
The Ice-orcs trade with Angmar ; exporting Losrandir and Herbs co the capital, Carn-dum. However, it is more accurate to call this “trade” tribute, as the Ice-orcs have a quota of Losrandir that must be met each month, or the next month it will be doubled. The shipments of herbs are actually the poison called Kalmog’s spoor (see 4.14), which makes an interesting torture implement.
In the later years, when the Dwarves have a greater presence in the mountains (c. 1994–2600), trade is more commonplace. The Dwarves produce little of their own food, and trade is vital to them. They receive regular supplies of food and drink from the Northmen groups of Dale and the Long Lake, or from the Easterlings of the Dorwinion region. In return they export raw minerals, weapons and other metal-work. Generally, most trade is carried out through the central colony (and capital), Norr-dum.
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