760: Moria

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Someone should really bring them a ladder and remind them to build the Endless Stair *first* next time.
Title text: Someone should really bring them a ladder and remind them to build the Endless Stair *first* next time.


This is Randall's take on the story of Moria in the fantasy story The Lord of the Rings. In the original the dwarves, hunting for the precious metal mithril dug so deep that they awoke a Balrog — a Maia corrupted by Melkor. Gandalf is telling about the story to four hobbits standing next to him. One of the hobbits has apparently read The Lord of the Rings, because he asks if the dwarves "awoke a terror of shadow and flame", but then Gandalf says that they were merely trapped in their hole and couldn't get out.

However, Gandalf's final line may be a hint that the comic's version is closer to the original than it appears — in the story, the adventuring party discovers a journal of the last dwarves to occupy Moria. The last page starts ominously: "We cannot get out. We cannot get out." That memorable sentence is used again near the end of the page as the impending final orcish attack is described by the now-dead dwarves, and repeated by Gimli as they reflect on the terrible news, lending a much darker tone to the comic's punchline.

The title text suggests a mundane solution to their problem — a long ladder. The Endless Stair was a very long staircase from the lowest dungeon up to the top of the mountain above Moria.


[A far shot of Gandalf the Grey and the four hobbits standing in a dark, underground city.]
Gandalf: Behold, Khazad-Dûm; the Dwarrowdelf; the mines of Moria -- once the greatest and mightiest city of the dwarves.
[Full body shot of Gandalf.]
Gandalf: But the dwarves delved too greedily.
[Close-up on Gandalf.]
Gandalf: And too deep.
[Full shot of the hobbits and Gandalf.]
Hobbit: ...and awoke a terror of shadow and flame?
Gandalf: No. They couldn't get out.

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Can someone who has read the Silmarillion clarify what balrogs actually are? I'm not sure how accurate this is but I seem to recall that they were the lieutenants of Morgoth, and were not monsters but actually minor gods (Maiar?) Athang (talk) 23:14, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

That's correct. Balrogs were both corrupted Maiar and servants of Morgoth. Gandalf, as with all the Istari (wizards), was also of the Maiar. Hence the close matched fight which took every last ounce of Gandalf's strength. Plm-qaz snr (talk) 12:34, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Just don't ask if the buggers have wings! 19:02, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

The bit about the Endless Stair could be a reference to Dwarf Fortress: one of the problems Dwarf Fortress players encounter is how the heck to get their miners back out of whatever moat/chute/spiky-pit/reservoir/pointless-doomsday-device-power-supply-tunnel they've just designed and built. And Randall plays Dwarf Fortress.

Given the time of the comic, could this be a reference to those trapped Chilean miners? IKR - remember them!?

I'm afraid I broke a link here. I corrected the word "Maiar" (plural) into "Maia" (singular). But that broke the Wikipedia link. It now redirects to Maia, mother of Hermes in Greek mythology -_- Can anyone correct it, please? (talk) 20:12, 22 August 2022‎ (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

What you do is to use the wikilink format of {{w|actual page to link|text that you want to be the link itself}}. I could do it for you, but I invite you to try it out yourself.
(Also, Preview is your friend, then jump off of the link the Preview gives you (with your favourite method to "Open in new tab", perhaps, so you don't lose the page you're Previewing/Editing on) and check that it lands where you think it should land and not something like the above, a Disambiguation Page, a "Redirected from..." or otherwise something that you got wrong.)
But welcome to the editing community, or maybe welcome to the more advanced editing community if you've done this before. (Oh, but look, you also didn't sign your comment. Remember to do that too. Just makes conversatins like this nicer and easier to read.) 23:27, 22 August 2022 (UTC)

Might this be a reference to Dwarf Fortress? Dwarves getting themselves stuck is a common problem in the game and it has been referenced before.