The Fall of Durin’s Realm into Moria
“Greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves was Khazad-dûm,
the Dwarrowdelf, Hadhodrond in the Elvish tongue, that was afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria.”
Silmarillion: Quenta, C10
This page written and edited by our Dark Historian Grievous
For five hundred years after the Fall of Khazad-dûm, Durin’s Bane ruled the empty halls of Moria. The lights that lit the city soon stopped shining due to the lack of maintenance, and Moria truly became a Black Pit. Despite the only known inhabitant being the Balrog, none dared to pass the Great Gates for fear of the Nameless Terror that lay beyond. The thought of the vast wealth of Moria was constantly overshadowed by fear of the Flaming Shadow. So Moria became a name of terror from which no terror came, until the power of Dol Guldur grew in the world.
At that time the Necromancer of Dol Guldur sent emissionaries into the clans of Orcs that lived in the Misty Mountains. They spread rumors of the unguarded wealth of Moria, until at last Azog the Defiler, the High Chieftain of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains at that time, set forth from Mount Gundabad in 2480 with an army of Gundabad Orcs to fortify the Black Pit. They passed the Great Gates unnoticed by the elves in Lothlórien, and they fortified the eastern sections of the city. Durin’s Bane allowed them to enter, and many of the Moria Orcs worshiped it as a god. They built in its honor great drums beneath Durin’s Crossroads and on the Fourth Deep.
From Moria Azog commanded the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, and coordinated attacks on the dwarves, elves, and men in the vales near his realm. Slowly in the darkness of the Black Pit a new type of Orc emerged: the Moria Orcs. They we thin, nimble, strong, and had lare eyes and long fingers. In the abandoned forges they made stronger armor and weapons. Their shields and armor were made to be reminiscent of Durin’s Bane, so as to allow them to become Balrog-like themselves. They were loyal to Azog, and honored him as a great warrior.
“Your grandfather Thror, you remember, was slain by Azog the Goblin in the Mines of Moria.”
The Hobbit C1
But in 2787, a new visitor came to Moria. Reports came to Azog that Thror, an exiled dwarf that was once the King under the Mountain had passed the Great Gates, and that with another he had entered Dimrill Dale. Azog found Thror in the shadows of Moria, cut off his head, and branded his name upon it. This he threw to Nár, Thror’s companion, who had waited outside. Azog said that an Orc ruled Moria, and that no further beggars would be tolerated at his gates.
This dishonor to the King of the Longbeards was enough to anger all seven dwarven clans to war. The War of the Dwarves and Orcs was fought long and hard along the Misty Mountains. At first the Orcs won many victories, but midway through the war the dwarves began to overcome them. Mount Gundabad was sacked, and all the Orc-holds north of the Gladden Pass had seen battle. At last, in 2799, the battle came to Moria.
The Battle of Azanulbizar was the fiercest battle of the War. The greatest of the armies of the Misty Mountains came out from Moria, and a great captain of the Moria Orcs led them. The Orcs pressed their advantage, for there was little sun that day. King Thráin was wounded, and at first it seemed that the Orcs would have victory. But Thorin, son of Thráin, defeated the captain of the Orcs with an oak branch as a shield, and cut off his arm. The captain was taken inside Moria by his guard, and Thorin took the moniker Oakenshield. Then the Dwarves of the Iron Hills arrived, under Náin, and pushed the Orcs back to the Great Gates. Náin and his dwarves challenged Azog to come forth as they fought his soldiers.
Unfortunately for them, their wish was granted. Out came Azog and the Orcs of his guard. With his great mace the pale Gundabad Orc slew scores of dwarves, until he came to Náin himself. The two fought hard, but Náin fell as Azog darted aside, and the Defiler broke the Dwarf-lord’s neck. But as he looked up he saw that his armies were retreating. Dáin Ironfoot, Náin’s son, came up and slew Azog with a red axe. The Orcs of Moria retreated into their city, and prepared to defend it, but the dwarves made no attempt to enter. They impaled Azog’s head at the gate and left his corpse beside it, and returned home, for their losses were tremendous in size. Bolg became the High Chieftain of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, and moved their base of power back to Mount Gundabad. The Moria Orcs recouped their losses under another War Chief of the Orcs, and faded out of history for a short time.
The body of Azog disappeared in the night, and none knew where it had gone. But rumors flew that some loyal Orcs of his guard had taken it, and that they had stealthily journeyed westward to Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood.
There, they said, the Necromancer revived him, and that he served the evil being until the Battle of the Five Armies. These rumors were neither confirmed nor denied, for few Orcs returned to Moria after that disasterous event.
The Orcs of Moria brooded in the darkness, waiting for their chance to strike. After a hundred and fifty years, it came. In 2941 news flew from Goblin-Town that the Great Goblin had been slain by none other than Thorin Oakenshield and his companions. The Orcs were furious, and under Bolg they gathered at Mount Gundabad. A great force set out from Moria to join the Host of the Misty Mountains, the combined armies of the Orcs and Wargs.
Bolg led the army to Erebor after the news of the Dragon Smaug’s death. They were met by armies of Dwarves, Elves, and Men, and the Battle of the Five Armies began. During this battle the army of Moria attacked the armies of the Elvenking Thranduil, and besieged them on the part of Ravenhill closest to te main peak of the Mountain. But in the end they were dislodged by the Eagles, and the Orcs and Wargs were scattered.
“We drove out the orcs from the Great Gate and guardroom and took the First Hall. We slew many in the bright sun in the dale. Flói was killed by an arrow. He slew the great chieftain… Flói under grass near Mirrormere… came …. We have taken the Twenty-first Hall of North End to dwell in.”
LOTR: FOTR B2 C5
The Orcs of Moria were greatly weakened by this. They slowly tried to recoup, but the Dwarves of Erebor grew stronger faster. In 2989 Balin of Erebor, alongside Oín and Orí, led an army of dwarves to reclaim Moria. A battle was fought before the Great Gates, and Floí, a great warrior, slew the strongest Captain of the Orcs of Moria. Floí was slain and buried, but the dwarves broke through the gate. They captured the First Deep and the Seven Levels, and Balin claimed the title of Lord of Moria. He set up his throne in the Chamber of Mazarbul. The Orcs of Moria, under the leadership of their War Chief, retreated.
The Dwarves prospered at first. Oín captured the Second and Third Deeps, and some of the mines. They recovered much mithril, Durin’s Axe, and many other heirlooms. Oín then led a force west, and captured Durin’s Crossroads and the Doors of Durin. The Orcs retreated to the northern mines and halls, and the deeper regions of the main city. They held the Fourth Deep strong against the Dwarves. It was at this time that the River Sirannon was dammed, and a pool formed in the valley before the West-gate. The Watcher in the Water, a great Kraken, came out of the depths of the mountains and guarded the doors against escape that way. The Orcs again bided their time.
In 2994, Balin of Moria went out to look in Mirrormere. There he was shot by an Orc archer. The orc was slain, but a great army of the Moria Orcs charged down the hills to attack. The dwarves retreated inside, and Balin was put in a tomb in Mazarbul. At this time Orcs attacked from the Deeps, and Oín set out desperately with a host to escape through the West-gate. All but four were slain by the Watcher, including Oín.
“The pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin–we cannot get out. The end comes soon.
We hear drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.”
LOTR: FOTR B2 C5
Orí led the remaining dwarves from Mazarbul. The Orcs took the Great Gates, the First Hall, and the inner defenses. More took the Third Deep from the Fourth, and two other armies poured in from other parts of Moria, taking the Second Deep and storming into the Twenty-First Hall. The Drums built by the Orcs in honor of Durin’s Bane pounded as the Orcs slew all in their way, until the survivors locked themselves in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Eventually the doors to the room were broken, and the remaining dwarves perished.
In the darkness of Moria the Orcs again thrived, as Sauron again grew in power. Great Captains rose up, and Durin’s Bane assigned them armies. Moria and Mordor, especially Dol Guldur, became allied, and messages went between the Black Pit and Barad-dûr. The Dark Lord swelled the armies of the Balrog, with hope that they could help him destroy Lothlórien. Gollum entered Moria at this time, and lived for a while in the abandoned mines on the western side of the city.
In 3019 the Fellowship of the Ring passed through Moria in an attempt to cross the Misty Mountains. After a battle with the Watcher they entered through the West-gate, and, led by Gandalf the Grey, they came to Durin’s Crossroads before stopping to rest. Gollum followed them. There Peregrin Took, one of the Fellowship, dropped a stone down a well in an abandoned guardroom. The noise of the stone hitting the bottom alerted the Orcs to the Fellowship’s presence, and one of the greatest captains of Moria prepared a group to attack.
The Fellowship went east, and came to the Chamber of Mazarbul. Scarcely minutes after learning of the destruction of Balin’s colony, they were attacked. The captain was slain, but not before skewering Frodo Baggins, the Ring-bearer. The Orcs retreated. The Fellowship fled down the stairs to the Second Hall, while Gandalf attempted to bar the doors with a spell. Durin’s Bane then arrived, and broke the spell, bringin the chamber’s room down. Gandalf escaped, as did Durin’s Bane. The Fellowship came to the Second Hall, where the Balrog had created a fiery crevasse in the ground. The horde of Moria Orcs found themselves cut off by this ravine, giving the Fellowship time to flee over the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.
At that moment great Cave-trolls appeared, bearing stone slabs to bridge the pit. The Balrog arrived, and led the charge over the ravine. In the middle of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm he was met by Gandalf the Grey. The wizard broke the bridge, and both fell into the abyss that it spanned. The Fellowship escaped through the Gates, and fled to Lothlórien. A small company of Orcs was sent after them, but it never returned.
The War Chief of the Moria Orcs took full control after the fall of Durin’s Bane. Hastily the Bridge was rebuilt, and three massive armies were assembled. There was a great forging in the depths, and smoke poured out of the Great Gates, obscuring the sun in the Dale. The War Chief waited for the signal from Dol Guldur, and he sent another company south through the Anduin Vale to hunt down the Fellowship.
Meanwhile, the Balrog and Gandalf fell to the foundations of stone, beneath the deepest mines of the Dwarves. The Balrog’s fire was quenched, and it fled through the rambling tunnels. Gandalf followed it, until they came to the ancient, half-buried road from the Seventh Deep to the Endless Stair. They arrived at the Stair’s foot, and climbed it. At last they reached Durin’s Tower, and the Balrog’s fire broke out anew. The two fought long and hard, but at last the wizard threw Durin’s Bane down upon the side of Celebdil, dead. Gandalf passed soon after.
Then, the signal came at last. From Dol Guldur and Moria came forth a great cloud, obscuring the sun over Lothlórien. Then a pale light shot up briefly from Dol Guldur, and from the Hill of Sorcery came an army. It was seen in Moria, and from the Grat Gates came another host. It did great ruin on the edge of Lothlórien, but was eventually beated back at the Nimrodel, and another captain was slain.
A second time the Orcs attacked, and made it past the Nimrodel. The orcs went far into the woods before finally being beaten back by the Galadhrim. Days later, the third and greatest army set forth. The two Orc-hosts narrowed the gap, and it seemed that Lórien would fall. But again the power of the Elves held back the black tide, and the orcs were routed. Dol Guldur was destroyed, and the Orcs of Moria shut the great gates, brought again to weakness.
“There lies his crown in waters deep, until Durin again wakes from sleep.”
LOTR: FOTR B2 C4
So the Orcs dwindled in their dark ruins, never to return to power. And at the end of the Fourth Age Durin VII came to power, he whose coming was long foretold. He led many of the dwarves back to Moria, and broke through the Great Gates. The Orcs could not resist the dwarven storm, and at last Durin slew the War Chief of the Orcs of Moria. At last the dwarves reclaimed their home, where light came again, and hammers sounded in the depths below, until the dwarves passed out of the world and the Dominion of Men became complete.