From a written record of events that he finds beside the tomb, Gandalf learns that Balin and his people were trapped in Moria, besieged by orcs and a more frightening, unnamed presence. The final page in the book simply reads “We cannot get out. The end comes, … drums, drums in the deep … they are coming.”
The written record forebodes great evil ahead of the Fellowship in their journey through the Mines. Unlike the dwarves’ attempt to reclaim the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit, their mission to Moria clearly ended in disaster.
Unnerved, the Company turns to leave the chamber when they hear the great “doom” and “boom” of loud drums alongside harsh cries and trumpeting horns. Lamenting their foolishness, the Fellowship springs into action to block the doors to the chamber, shouting, “They are coming!” and “We cannot get out.”
History repeats itself as the Company find themselves trapped by approaching evil forces in the same manner as the slain dwarves were.
A cave troll and a company of orcs force their way through the barricade. The Fellowship fights valiantly to stave off the attack, including Frodo and Sam, who bravely enter combat. However, Frodo is then speared in the side by a great orc-chieftain. So great is the thrust that Frodo is pinned to the wall. Aragorn smites the orc, and picks up the Ring-bearer. As the Company flees through a door to an eastern passage, Aragorn is amazed to find Frodo alive and well.
Despite still experiencing great fear in the face of adversity, the hobbits are learning to cope with this fear and work together with the group. They take up arms successfully, until Frodo is seemingly critically wounded in battle. Once again evil creatures seem to seek out Frodo in particular, perhaps sensing his role as Ring-bearer.
While trying to spell their exit door closed, Gandalf is blocked by powerful counter spells and ends up using up most of his energies to bring down the roof of the chamber. Delighted by Frodo’s uncanny escape from harm, the wizard then leads the Company down toward the lower halls, closing in on the eastern gate. There they cross the perilous Bridge of Khazad-dûm, a narrow stretch of rock that spans a great abyss.
Gandalf, previously unwavering in his confidence and talents, is now afraid of a fearsome but unseen enemy.
With orcs pursuing closely, the members of the Company are horrified when a powerful foe appears. It is a balrog, an elemental demon of the deep wreathed in fire and darkness—this is the magical force that Gandalf was matched by earlier in the battle. Recognizing that the others do not stand a chance against such an enemy, Gandalf instructs them to flee while he makes a stand on the bridge. Aragorn and Boromir ignore his command, holding their ground behind the wizard. After breaking the balrog’s sword, Gandalf destroys the bridge, and the demon falls into the chasm. But as Gandalf turns to join the others, the balrog sweeps its fiery whip up to grab the wizard’s ankle. Gandalf is dragged from the bridge and falls into darkness with the balrog.
The balrog is revealed as a fearsome and powerfully dangerous foe. Selflessly, Gandalf sacrifices himself to face the demon alone, for he knows he is the only one with any chance to stand against the balrog’s might. Gandalf’s fall casts him as a savior figure sacrificing himself for the Fellowship, and Aragorn’s prediction of Moria’s threat to the wizard comes true.
The Company is wracked with grief at Gandalf’s presumed death, but Aragorn forces them to move towards Moria’s exit. With hordes of orcs trapped behind them, they run through the halls and reach the eastern gates quickly, where Aragorn dispatches the captain of an orc troop that guards the doors. They keep running until they are far enough away from Moria to feel safe in the bright sunlight of Dimrill Dale. Many of the Company fall to the ground, weeping at their loss.