Those brave and lucky explorers that survive the long dark of Moria look upon the East-gate and breathe easier. Beyond it sprawl enchanted waters, the Golden Wood, sunshine, and stars. If you manage to make it so far, the first question you may ask is how long has it been since you’ve seen the sky?
With this farthest gate of Khazad-dûm in the hands of the Dwarves again, and a Stable-master well-stationed nearby, a degree of certainty and comfort can be had even in the Dwarf-city’s haunted delvings and bloody halls. But all is not sunlight and freedom, even here. Between the East-gate and the shining woods of the Elves, Orc-kind and Wargs hunt the Free Peoples and prepare war machines for a new battle to recapture the doorway to Moria.
This land, from Khazad-dûm in the west to the woods of Lothlórien in the east, brims with history and legend. These stones have seen bloody victories and heart-breaking defeats, profound beginnings and sad endings. This valley witnessed the arrival of Durin the Deathless in the earliest era of Middle-earth, as well as the flight of the Fellowship of the Ring not so long ago.
Now this land sees the tale of Moria go on through you. Lady Galadriel, Queen of Lothlórien, has a mission in mind, and the Galadhrim, the Elves of Lórien, call upon you to make it succeed.
On the Verge of the East-gate
As soon as you emerge from the East-gate, turn around. The etched mountainside before you represents the earliest effort to realize the dream of Durin the Deathless: an edifice both elegant and bold, a gateway to welcome and inspire travelers from the east for many thousands of years. The carved stone of the noble and contemplative Dwarf head and beard evokes the many Dwarf-lord gates of Khazad-dûm within. The arcing branches hint at the towering tree-like pillars holding up the great hall inside.
But are those grand architectural elements beneath the mountain inspired by this gate, or was this façade carved later in reference to those works within Moria? Like so much of Moria’s lost lore, the history of the East-gate may never entirely be known.
This dale that leads from the East-gate to Lorien has seen much glory and hope, but also terrible strife and bloodshed. The Elves call this place Nanduhirion, but it is known more commonly as the Dimrill Dale. Thus some call the East-gate the Dimrill Gate.
Formed by the course of the River Celebrant where it falls out of the Misty Mountains and runs eastward to its meeting with the Great River (the River Anduin), the Dimrill Dale slopes southeast through boulders and small pools to the edge of Lorien’s golden forest. The largest of these pools is the Mirrormere, the ancient and enchanted lake in which Durin the Deathless had his first visions of Khazad-dûm. Now, as then, the Mirrormere (known to the Dwarves as Kheled-zâram) seems to reflect the light of the stars at any time of day or night. Many, in search of the kind of inspiration bestowed upon Durin, journey here to ponder its mystifying lights.
Millennia later, when Khazad-dûm fell under the shadow of Durin’s Bane and the city came to be called the Black Pit of Moria, it was through the Dimrill Vale that so many refugees—Dwarf and Elf alike—fled the mountain. Durin’s Bane terrified so many so badly that even those Elves dwelling here in the dale—and in the nearby wood’s edge—fled deeper into the Elf-realm that has since become Lothlórien.
More than a century ago, the Dimrill Dale became a battlefield. An army of Dwarves came to the East-gate at the end of a long war of vengeance, looking to punish the Goblins of Moria for the murder of the Dwarf-lord called Thrór, grandfather of the great Thorin Oakenshield. The Orc-chieftain Azog and his horde of squatters and occupiers from within Moria met them in the dale. The Dwarves blamed Azog for Thrór’s death, and only Azog’s beheading on the steps of the Dimrill Gate ended the Battle of Nanduhirion (sometimes called the Battle of the Mines of Moria, though perhaps a battle more deserving of that title is soon to come).
After Azog was slain, his army fled back into the gloom of Moria, and the shadow and memory of Durin’s Bane proved still too much for the Dwarves to brave. Their immediate enemy defeated, the army turned from the East-gate and left Moria to the past—and to the goblin-king who would replace Azog. The heartache of Khazad-dûm’s sad fate seemed inescapable.
In a minor echo of the first exodus from Khazad-dûm, the Fellowship of the Ring fled Moria and Durin’s Bane through this same gate and valley. But they left one of their Nine Walkers behind. For now, the hardy survivors rest and mourn in the Golden Wood of Lórien, beyond the Dimrill Dale.
Elves from Lórien, on a mission to purge the hidden terrors from the deepest delvings of the ancient Dwarf-home, have entered Moria through this gate since then. Now that you too have emerged from it—stronger and hopefully wiser—turn your eyes toward Lothlórien and the tasks that await you there.
In The Dimrill Vale
The road from the Dimrill Gate to Lothlórien is not long, but it teems with foes. Some of Moria’s fiercest and boldest Orc-warriors have slipped into the vale, braving sunlight and Elves to spill the blood of the Free Peoples. They lurk in the pass above the East-gate and along the road below it. Find them, oppose them, and make Nanduhirion safe again for travelers to and from Khazad-dûm.
High above the East-gate, the Redhorn Pass once came down out of the Misty Mountains alongside a chain of waterfalls called the Dimrill Stair. As you discovered near the West-gate, however, impassable ice now blocks that high passage. It seems this surprised the Orcs of Moria as much as it did the Fellowship of the Ring. When the mountain’s ice tumbled into the pass, it buried an Orc camp stationed there to waylay travelers. Now those Orcs who survived that avalanche patrol the mouth of the frozen pass while they attempt to forge a new route over the mountain.
Downhill from the East-gate, along the road toward Lórien, camps of both the Free Peoples and Orc-kind battle for ownership of the Dimrill Dale. But the Free Peoples are outnumbered even here in the sunlight and so close to Lothlórien.
The first camp outside the gate is a waypoint for the Dwarf-expedition retaking Moria. Situated on the shore of the Mirrormere, this lively camp of wagons and tents stands confident despite the enemies all around. “We hold both the West and East-gates,” says a welcoming Dwarf. “The Orcs will have nowhere to go!” True, but with the Orc-tribes of Moria feeling so trapped, they will surely lash out for blood.
Holed up behind crude palisades, Warg-riders, Orc-defilers, and goblin-warriors strike out at travelers on the road to Lórien. If these Orc-holds grow in strength and numbers, they could overrun the East-gate and block the Moria expedition’s contact with the Elves of Lothlórien. Yet no matter how many of these bold and bloodthirsty Orcs are defeated, more seem to slip out of Moria, furious and frenzied, to renew the fight.
The Orcs even hold the ground surrounding the monument marking Durin’s vision in the Mirrormere. How long until they discover the Free Peoples’ refuge across the River Celebrant? How long until, desperate and mad at the prospect of losing Moria, they muster together for a final, fatal strike?
The Golden Wood
At last, the Golden Wood. Here, too, the land bears traces from legend and lore. The River Nimrodel shares its name with the errant Elf-maid beloved by Amroth, the former Lord of Lórien, who lends his name to Cerin Amroth, once the capital hill of Lothlórien. Lord Celebron and his wife Galadriel came to rule Lórien when Amroth went off in search of Nimrodel and never returned. It was Galadriel who brought the white-bodied, gold-leafed mallorn trees to Lothlórien.
The bridge across the clear waters of the River Nimrodel is broken, and the forest itself turns away unwelcome travelers. Still, word of your deeds in Moria may travel ahead of you. Look for friends among the Galadhrim, the People of the Trees, those Elves who serve Celeborn and Galadriel.
To gain entry into Lórien’s secret places, you must gain favor with Galadriel’s people. In the south-east, seek out Haldir high atop of a platform built amid the high branches of a mallorn. These high retreats, commonly called flets, are why the Galadhrim acquired their name. From these flets, the Elves of Lothlórien gaze out upon the blooming forest and down upon would-be trespassers.
Flets appear throughout the Golden Wood. In the glade of Cerin Amroth, you’ll be reunited with old friends atop one. “Yes, the trees are very pretty,” Gimli, son of Gloín, says to Legolas. “I say we climb back to the ground now.”
The Fellowship of the Ring has survived its passage through Moria—all save one. Here in Cerin Amroth the survivors renew their strength and mourn their loss. Gandalf the Grey, known to you from your adventures in Eregion, did not escape the mines of Moria with his friends.
A Meeting in Lothlórien
If you involve yourself in the most dangerous endeavors of the Wise and succeed on a mission in the most terrifying reaches of Moria’s Foundations of Stone, you may be granted audience with Lady Galadriel herself.
This is not the first trace of her in the saga of Lord of the Rings Online. Her presence is felt throughout the Mines of Moria, as she narrates the key quests and instances in the story unfolding in Volume II. Thus, when you finally meet the Lady of the Golden Wood, it seems as if her voice has been with you since long before your first meeting.
Your audience with Galadriel brings you to her sprawling garden, aglow in the Lórien night, and face to face with the mysterious sorcery of her mirror. Galadriel knows something of your fate. She is in contact with the Great Eagle, Gwaihir the Windlord, who has word that your story, and that of Gandalf, may not yet be finished.
The road goes ever on.