13 · Les Sous-Profondeurs

« Yet the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accur­sed, Mor­goth Bau­glir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be des­troyed ; and ever anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit unto the latest days. »

— Sil,p.255

En-des­sous de la Moria se cache un laby­rinthe de noires cavernes, for­mant un monde en elles-mêmes. S’étendant vers les entrailles ardentes de la terre, cette région est appe­lée les « Sous-Pro­fon­deurs ». Les Nains et les Elfes croient que ces pas­sages tor­tu­rés courent bien en-des­sous des Monts Bru­meux et qu’ils peuvent aller aussi loin qu’aux ruines des Mon­tagnes de Fer dans le loin­tain Nord d’Endor.

Des his­toires ter­ri­fiantes parlent d’indicibles créa­tures hideuses qui hantent les Sous-Pro­fon­deurs, et c’est de cet enfer noir que vint le Balrog. L’abysse que tra­verse le Pont de Durin, quand on quitte le Deuxième Hall de la Pre­mière Pro­fon­deur, plonge vers le bas de ces pro­fon­deurs, comme le fait le puits ver­ti­cal dans le Hall du Puits de Hwàin (dans les mines de la Sep­tième Pro­fon­deur). Jusqu’à pré­sent incon­nues et non car­to­gra­phiées, les Sous-Pro­fon­deurs ont leur propre his­toire.

The Bowels of Endor

Pas­sage vers les Sous-Pro­fon­deurs

Unbek­nownst to most folk, much of Middle-earth lies beneath the sur­face of the ground. This broad, sub­ter­ra­nean fron­tier is lar­gely unex­plo­red. Even the grea­test of the fami­liar caves—Moria included—are little more than foyers to these « bowels of Endor. » The Deeps merely sug­gest the nature and breadth of the world below.

Dwarves dif­fe­ren­tiate the Under-deeps from the Deeps for two rea­sons : depth and origin. First, the Under-deeps lie well below the lowest reaches of Khazad-dum. Second, the Under-deeps are exclu­si­vely vol­ca­nic in nature. Crea­ted by streams of molten rock and expan­ded by geo­ther­mal erup­tions of super-hot gas, they are a com­bi­na­tion of natu­ral and super­na­tu­ral forces. The hand of Melkor joined what was once a col­lec­tion of count­less, sun­de­red cavern com­plexes.

Dwar­ven chro­ni­clers speak of three dis­tinct areas of the Under-deeps beneath Moria : the Under-gates, the Under-roads, and the Under-tombs. Toge­ther, they occupy an area larger than any single level in Khazad-dum. Given the fact that they are but a small part of a much vaster— in fact, see­min­gly endless—underground world, they actually dwarf the whole of Hadho­drond.

Morgoth’s Legacy

Mor­goth forged the Under-deeps during the « Spring of Arda, » before the birth of the Sun and the Moon, when Endor was illu­mi­na­ted by the light of the Two Lamps. This maze of tun­nels and cham­bers rea­ched out of Utumno and exten­ded (east-west) the length of the Iron Moun­tains (S. « Ered Engrin »). Prin­ci­pal north-south pas­sages cut beneath the Hithae­glir in the West and the Oro­carni (Q. « Red Moun­tains ») in the East. Addi­tio­nal « roads » joined these pas­sages at major junc­tions, the grea­test of which lay beneath the caverns at sites like Than­go­ro­drim, Gun­da­bad, Moria, and Agla­rond.

Melkor’s grea­ter ser­vants used these roads to travel sur­rep­ti­tiously throu­ghout Endor. The maze per­mit­ted them to avoid ene­mies like Orome, who roamed the wilds in the Elder Days and chal­len­ged the Black Enemy’s hei­nous plan to conquer and remold Middle-earth. It also served as a refuge.

Although Endor chan­ged during the Elder Days, espe­cially after the War ofWrath, the core of the Under-deeps sur­vive. Morgoth’s sub­ter­ra­nean legacy still serves dark pur­poses. At various points it houses lairs for foul mons­ters, roads for evil armies, and time­less pri­sons for the lost deni­zens of a bygone time. Now, though, travel bet­ween the ancient under­ground sites is dif­fi­cult, if not impos­sible, for all but the grea­test (and luckiest) explo­rers. Blo­cked or twis­ting away from their ori­gi­nal course, the Under-roads seem broken. Junc­tions and stron­gholds seem fore­ver lost. Many appear as simple caves or side pas­sages, no longer resem­bling their past gran­deur. Others lie hidden behind veils of rock. Nearly all are still there, though, awai­ting rediscovery—as is their crea­tor.

A sum­mary of Endor’s prin­ci­pal Under-deeps fol­lows :

Table : Les prin­ci­pales routes des Sous-Pro­fon­deurs

Road Direc­tion Key Sites
Iron Road East-West Uax, Utumno, Than­go­ro­drim
Oldest Road North-South Cam Dum, Gun­da­bad, Moria, Agla­rond
Red Road North-South Uax, Sam­math Helcar
Black Road East-West Moria, Dol Guldur, Barad-dur
White Road East-West Agla­rond, Dun­har­row
Grey Road East-West Gun­da­bad, Sam­math Mae­glom
Gold Road North-South Olba­marl, Lau­ra­fe­lya
Yellow Road East-West Sam­math Fhul, Sambi Mornya

The Oldest Road

Carte : The Oldest Road

While pro­ba­bly youn­ger than the Iron Road, the Oldest Road is rela­ti­vely unsun­de­red. Morgoth’s ori­gi­nal route suf­fe­red dearly in the cata­clysm at the end of the First Age, so the Under-deeps beneath the Hithae­glir are the eldest of the routes still « in use. » Begin­ning at Carn Dum in the North and ending at Agla­rond in the South, the Oldest Road remains a key source of danger and mischief for the Free Peoples of nor­th­west Endor.

Dwarves say that Mahal chose Khazad-dum as point of confron­ta­tion. There, he contes­ted Morgoth’s dorm­nance over the roots of the Misty Moun­tains, a range crea­ted by the Black Enemy. Whe­ther or not the Maker hosted these thoughts, Hadho­drond lies directly in line with the junc­tion of the Oldest Road and the Black Road, two of Melkor’s grea­test Under-deeps. Thus, it serves as a natu­ral bat­tle­field.

The cen­tral por­tion of the Oldest Road winds beneath Caradh­ras and Celeb­dil. It paral­lels a molten river known as the « Fire Vein, » a conti­nuous magma stream that flows through a 300’ deep cleft. Por­tions of the road run along a 12’ wide ledge that skirts the canyon, and actually crosses the Fire Vein on six occa­sions. Other parts of the route pass through a 12’ wide, 36’ tall tunnel over­loo­king the cleft. Win­dows and over­looks permit tra­vel­lers to gaze into the chasm. Basalt bridges cross the wells of boi­ling mud and rock that often block the way. The wells act as natu­ral traps, and are espe­cially dan­ge­rous in places where the steam-cove­red bridges are slick with slime. (The spans are Extre­mely Hard, –30, to nego­tiate.)

Per­io­dic erup­tions of smoke, steam, and « Bur­ning Sleet » also threa­ten sojour­ners along the Oldest Road. Thick, acidic smoke and power­ful steam pour through the win­dows and vents that line the pas­sage, and sea­ring clouds rise from the Fire Vein inun­da­ting the adjoi­ning ledge-way with hot, fetid fumes. Even worse, explo­rers face the infa­mous Bur­ning Sleet—molten dro­plets that rain through occa­sio­nal ope­nings in the cei­ling of the road. Unlike the scal­ding, cho­king clouds that nor­mally confront tra­vel­lers, these sprays defy des­crip­tion. Orclore implies that they erupt like the bel­lows of hell.

Tombs Rising

Thirty-six miles north of Moria, directly below Caradh­ras, the Oldest Road passes by a great lava-cham­ber named « Tombs Rising. » Dwar­ven chro­ni­clers call the hel­lish hall the Under-tombs. It is here that the Balrog repo­sed, trap­ped beneath Endor, until T.A. 1980. 720’ tall, 1800’ wide, and three miles long, it is one of the lar­gest rooms in all the Under-deeps. As in the Under-roads, the only illu­mi­na­tion comes from the red­dish glow of liquid stone.

The Under-tombs contain count­less mar­vels. They are too many to docu­ment here. In the context of this work, then, its two most notable fea­tures are the Balroe’s Tomb and the Han­ging Claim.

The Balrog’s Tomb

The Balrog’s Tomb lies at the center of the nor­thern end of the cham­ber, atop a nearly sheer spire of fused glass (black laen). Sur­roun­ded by a 300’ deep, 1200’ wide canyon filled with a lake of molten rock, it needs no walls. The spire rises 600’ from the lake’s fiery surface—300’ above the main floor of the Under-tombs—and its sur­face is as hot as boi­ling lead. Roa­ring magma from the unbrid­ged lake (which is actually on the Fire Vein) laps at the base of the pin­nacle, making the refuge vir­tually inac­ces­sible.

The Balrog’s flat repose sits on the 120’ dia­me­ter summit. A raised slab of warm red laen serves as the Demon’s bed. It is sur­roun­ded by a cur­ving, trans­lucent wall hewn from the same mate­rial. A 12’ deep, 36’ dia­me­ter dry, blue laen cis­tern acts as his sto­re­hold.

The Hanging Claim

Note Given their size and nature, it takes agroup of no less than four Men or Dwarves to operate these devices, which are even then Extremely Hard (-30) to operate.

The Balrog’s treasure—the « Han­ging Claim »—recalls the Hoards of Utumno, for it is stored in huge, six-ton iron chests sus­pen­ded from the Under-tombs’ cei­ling. A pri­ce­less col­lec­tion of jewels, gems, coins, and wea­pons hangs within the sixty-six chests, which swing about 650’ above the glo­wing lava pools that punc­tuate chamber’s black floor. Most of the wealth was once the foun­da­tion of Durin’s For­tune. Trolls car­ried the booty out of Khazad-dum soon after T.A. 1980.

Although unguar­ded, the Han­ging Claim is excee­din­gly dif­fi­cult to reach. Each chest dangles from a single, 72’ long iron chain. The great chains wrap over a series of hooks, cross the cei­ling and then enter por­tals in the adjoi­ning wall. These 6’ dia­me­ter por­tals guide the chains to the seclu­ded Winch-hall, where sixty-six Olog-hai stand watch. Besides ser­ving as the Balrog’s per­so­nal guard, the Tereg ope­rate the 12’ tall winches that raise and lower the chests.

Sites of note

The fol­lo­wing sites are but a small sam­pling of the cham­bers and pas­sages in the upper Under-deeps near Moria.

Note During the period T.A. 1980 through FA. 7, the Underwell lies uncapped. Shattered by the Balrog, the capstone rests in shards around the opening.

62 — Under-well (Hwain’s Well) * : Hwain’s Well lies directly below the cir­cu­lar « Whis­pe­ring-halls » and connects the Deeps with the Under-deeps. The lowest por­tion, an 1800’ shaft that opens through the cei­ling of Yellow Maw, is called the « Under-well. » Capped by a pery­phry lid, it ori­gi­nally served as a great cis­tern. Now it serves as an ope­ning to the bowels of Middle-earth.

63 — Under-gates *: A large, steam-filled cavern com­plex, the Under-gates com­prise six caves :

Carte : Under-gates

(a) Felyashono’s Maw: The eas­tern­most cham­ber, it stretches beneath the Unen­ding Well, a 42’ wide abyss that joins the Maw to Moria’s Hall of Trees 

Cha­pitre 12 – Lieux notables

(b) Umagaur’s Maw: This coni­cal cham­ber has gree­nish walls. It opens onto the Halls of Uma­gaur (cf. 65).

(c) Geyser Maw: The geyser-filled north ern­most cham­ber, serves as the gate­way to the nor­thern sec­tion of the Oldest Road—the way to Tombs Rising (cf. Tombs Rising).

(d) Yellow Maw: This steam-filled cham­ber stands beneath Hwain’s Well. Rela­ti­vely invi­ting, it is divi­ded by a boi­ling stream. Mists shroud the floor, where Maw’s golden laen walls seem to glow.

(e) Low Maw: This, the sou­th­wes­tern cham­ber, serves as the gate­way to the sou­thern sec­tion of the Oldest Road.

(f) Thun­der Maw: Here, in the sou­thern most cham­ber, an ope­ning in the sou­theas­tern wall serves as the wes­tern gate of the Black Road of the Under­deeps. As well as ser­ving as a gate to other pas­sages in the Under-deeps, each cave connects (at least indi­rectly) with the Oldest Road.

64 — Durin’s Chim­ney *: Durin’s Chim­ney reaches far into the Under-deeps. Legends say it is a bot­tom­less shaft. (cf. Cha­pitre 12 – Lieux notables — 37), Cha­pitre 12 – Lieux notables — 57 et Cha­pitre 12 – Lieux notables — 61).

Halls of Uma­gaur

65 — Halls of Uma­gaur *: Uma­gaur the Pale makes his home in the caves near Umagaur’s Maw. This obsi­dian-walled com­plex includes three very dif­ferent cham­bers :

(a) Troll-king’s Throne-room: Panes of blood-red glass line the arching 900’ tall walls. Set in an iron frame and illu­mi­na­ted from behind by glo­wing lava, the facade creates a start­ling effect—as if a pair of huge, curved win­dows leaned toge­ther to form a poin­ted vault. A simple but mas­sive, red obsi­dian bench domi­nates the center of the room. Sur­roun­ded by bub­bling mud-pots and sulfur-laced springs, the 12’ wide seat serves as the Toroko Mahalma (Q. Troll Throne”).

(b) Great-hall: Here, the ser­vants of the Pale One muster.

(c) Umagaur’s Rest: Here the Troll-king makes his repose.

66 — Under-tombs (Tombs Rising) *: (cf. Cha­pitre 13 – Les Sous-Pro­fon­deurs).


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