Rombur and Nurri came with a force of 144 from Erebor to the North to march to the aid of Lothlorien and Gondor. Meanwhile, Nestrameldir and Duilin came up from Gondor along with Prince Imrahil and four men to consult with Galadriel over what their next steps should be. They saw signs that the region was being watched closely by Sauron's forces.
Duilin spotted the Dwarves as they were being ferried across the Anduin. They approached stealthily but were spotted and called out by sharp-eyed Rombur. They then conferred for a time, when they were interrupted. A Watcher had attacked the ferry, pulling under ten Dwarven warriors. They waded out to fight it, and drove it off with the help of Rombur's "lambakarim" (stones that glowed with light kindled by the Arkenstone).
They then proceeded to Lothlorien. They were given safe passage in, with no issue made of being blindfolded. There they found Caras Galadhon alive with industry, as there were many tents about on the ground and the musical sound of many forges. Then they were taken up to meet with Celeborn and Galadriel. Their hearts were tested as they approached -- each with a temptation.
Nestrameldir was shown a harsh vision of a Gondor where he and all Elven works had been rejected and forgotten. Rombur was tempted by the source of the runic power he had found. And Duilin was tempted by whether he would take the One Ring so he could destroy it himself.
They then talked briefly with Galadriel of their news, but first Galadriel had an urgent request of Nestrameldir -- whom she had specifically requested. She brought him to a man in their House of Healing whom she called Tindomul, and Duilin and Rombur came with. She showed him a middle-aged man whose flesh was translucent, and asked his help in restoring him. She explained that he was also known as Al-Murazor and the Lord of the Nazgul in the past -- an ancient king ensnared by Sauron, but freed from his bond by her magics and the One Ring. They were shocked at this, and we left it there for next time.
We met with Galadriel to decide what to do about the Silmaril. She did not want it taken out and used, no doubt due to the many evils that befell her race in ages past due to these gems. Rombur agreed, and promised that he could bury it so deep that no mortal would ever reach it again. But he also secretly lusted to see its light, and suggested that "we should tap its power into smaller crystals, to use in the struggle". Nuri argued that a great hall under the mountain should be built for the Silmaril, perhaps thinking that it could be used to restore the glory of Khazad-Dum and the power of the dwarves, but the others made him reluctantly agree to Rombur's plan. Rombur suspects that Nuri will cause trouble when the party actually reaches the gem.
It was decided that only a small party should try to enter Moria in stealth. The PCs and Maeglin son of Thranduil, Dulin's friend, and one strong dwarf-fighter, Hadar (?). The rest of the dwarven army would go north into the fields between the mountains and the Anduin, and up the passes, to draw out the orcs, drawing their attention away from Moria, and to disrupt their link to the river.
Galadriel gave each member of the expedition an elven cloak and some lembas. The group was also given some elven rope. Before the group left, Rombur gave Duilin a short sword that he had made in the elven smithies, with runes of sharpness, as a token of appreciation for Duilin's saving of many dwarven lives during the crossing of the Anduin a few days earlier.
The party came to the area outside the eastern gate of Moria, and decided to stay hidden overnight, to watch the movements of the orcs. Some small patrols were seen, and also larger bands coming from the north to join the Orc-army of Moria! Also, Duilin hid close to the gate and heard the Orcs greet each other with the phrase "Hail Maedhros!", perhaps supporting the witch-kings story about the fate of the mines.
Close to dawn, a lone Orc was seen moving towards the gate. We decided to kill him and take his clothes and armor, so that one of us could wear it and sneak inside the gate. Maeglin wounded him with his bow, and he and Rombur ran up to kill him. Just when they were about to deliver the killing blows, the character spoke to them, in Sindarin! He said he was Elrohir, son of Elrond, and wiped off some black dirt from his face.
Nestrameldir healed the grazing arrow-wound in Elrohir's shoulder. Elrohir said that he had been sent by his father to find out more about the activities of the Orcs in the region. He did not seem to know about the Silmaril, and we did not tell him. Nevertheless, the group decided to cooperate with him. Elrohir resumed his original plan, and went into Moria in Orc-disguise, only to come running out chased by many black arrows.
The obvious entrance being impassable, the group decided, after Nuri's urging, to seek out one of the chimneys of the mines. Rombur deduced some probable locations for them based on his knowledge of dwarven mining techniques, and they did indeed quickly find one. Nuri climbed up the last stretch and helped the party up using the elven rope. They knew that the chimneys would be protected by many dangerous traps. In the end, Nuri found them all, and Rombur disarmed them, but due to an unforeseen incursion of huge rats onto a pressure plate in the floor, the party was almost crushed by a huge boulder. Duilin also encountered a large, talking, spider, which gravely wounded him with its venomous bite.
At last, the party got out of the chimney and into a storage chamber filled with ceremonial attire, somewhere in the upper levels, as they thought close to the King's chambers.
- From chamber they Sneak out, heading for library... - They hear orc voices and send Duilin, Elladan, and Nurri ahead to scout - The three spy on a meeting of orcs, hear them talking in orcish, planning something about deployment of forces, especially defenses of the eastern gate. They spot four dwarves within the hundred or so orcs, who look like serfs -- not chained prisoners of war, but more like a long captive underclass. - They come back to report to the others what they found, then go back and lay an ambush to kill five orcs leaving with a rebellious dwarf. The dwarf nearly cries out in surprise as the Duilin and Nurri kill the five in a single attack -- but Elladan grabs him and covers his mouth. They retreat and hide the bodies. - The dwarf is named Drott, and he speaks only pidgin Khuzdul, having lived his entire life in captivity. He says the orcs of Moria have kept a small population of dwarf captives from when they conquered the place many centuries ago. To him, dwarven traditions are only a distant memory kept alive by stories passed down in secret. - He says that there are some 200 dwarves and over 1000 orcs within Moria, but he knows the way down to the Balrog's lair. - They slip away and over two days make it down through Moria to the mines in the Underdeep. They made a bit of noise that alerted some orc patrols in the deep parts, but were never spotted. - While slipping past the statue of Maedhros - Search the Balrog's territory, where there are signs of orc incursions over the past 3 months. - Rombur can feel the way to the Silmaril after a time. - Find the Silmaril -- Hadar and Elladan hang back, while the others investigate - Nestrameldir touches the Silmaril and begins to glow Duilin also touches it, and is shocked a moment (spending an Action point on his corruption roll) realizing that in his greed he *wanted* the Silmaril to be able to destroy the One Ring, and he might have believed that. - Then Nurri drank from his horn, and became possessed by the spirit of a dragon Duilin held him off while Rombur grabbed the Silmaril and took it away - In the hall, Nestrameldir protected Rombur and was burned by dragon-fire - Elladan and Duilin held him for a time in the hall, but even though Rombur took the Silmaril around a corner -- the dragon's spirit still held sway over Nurri. - Nestrameldir grabbed away the horn, but was burned by Nurri's dragon-fire in revenge. The shock broke the power of the horn's ruins, and Nurri came to himself -- remembering all that happened