Expedition to Moria: The Orcs of Moria
The fellowship quickly discovered that Moria remained the dominion of orcs even in the Fourth Age. They heard of their vicious warchief, Gazhûl, the father of Azog the Defiler who ruled from Mount Gundabad in the Third Age, and the grandfather of Azog’s son Bolg, who was slain at the Battle of Five Armies.
Following the descriptions from the Red Book of Westmarch, Éowyn Fairbairn led her companions to the seventh level of Khazad-dûm, to the Chamber of Mazarbul. It was the seat of Balin in the days of his expedition, and there he was entombed, and after that the redoubt of the Fellowship of the Ring when they passed through the mines. Dwalin refortified it and protected it with magical dwarven runes, and even made comfortable lodgings there for the fellowship. From this base, the fellowship began to venture forth and explore the orc-infested kingdom of the dwarves.
As he snuck through the tunnels, Nawfal — who knows the Black Speech of the orcs and could understand their clacking gossip — overheard them speaking of a visit from “the Eye,” sent to their warchief Gazhûl by a new “Dark Lord” that he has been forced to serve. The destruction of the One Ring broke Sauron’s power forever, but as one of the maiar he can never be destroyed altogether. He roams Middle-earth as a shadow, a wraith — bereft of power, perhaps, but not of memory or secrets. That in this state he has been reduced to the role of a messenger and servant to a new “Dark Lord,” and is being sent to individuals like Gazhûl to recruit them to this master’s cause, is chilling news, indeed.
Dwalin wanted to go to Moria to recover Thráin’s ring, one of the seven given to the dwarf lords by Sauron in the Second Age. He believed, as most did, that it was taken by Azog at the Battle of Azanulbizar and remained somewhere in Moria. In fact, Thráin was captured by Sauron, then disguised as the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, who took back the ring. Now, though, Sauron has brought the ring back to Moria as a gift to Gazhûl to entice him into the service of his new master, placing the object of Dwalin’s desire — entirely by chance — within his grasp.
Lurking through the tunnels, Nawfal killed one of the uruk-hai commanding the orcs named Zagrat the Bone Collector. He made a gruesome display of Zagrat’s body to terrorize the orcs who found him. Éowyn and Garivald concocted a strong poison, and Thorondir made it seem that another uruk-hai, Maugor Heart-Eater, was responsible, so that the orcs turned upon him brutally.
The fellowship discovered that the orcs keep dwarven slaves, employed in working subterranean farms of slimes, molds, and fungi, and sometimes use them even as livestock. They began stealing what arms they could from the orcs to prepare them to rise up against their oppressors.
Nawfal caught a glimpse of Marroc Fairbairn robbing an orc treasure room, and though he could not reach him for the orcs that stood between them, he confirmed at once that Éowyn was right that her brother entered Moria, and that he was alive and active within its halls.
The fellowship struck out against one of the cave trolls still living within the mines. They slew a patrol of orcs as well, leaving evidence to the orcs that they were hunted in their own homes — that a secret war had begun against them in the shadows of Moria.