The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 4
"It was evening and the grey light was again waning fast, when they halted for the night. They were very weary. The mountains were veiled in deepening dusk, and the wind was cold. Gandalf spared them one more mouthful of the miruvor of Rivendell. When they had eaten some food he called a council." Book 2, Chapter 4, pg. 352
They discuss returning to Rivendell but this is not really an option. Gandalf says that there is another way under the mountain through Moria. Boromir thinks that they should go south to Rohan. Gandalf says that is not safe and decides they should go under the mountain. Gimili says that he will follow that path. Both Aragorn and Gandalf have entered there before. Boromir will only go if the vote favors it. Aragorn hears wargs howling in the wind. They decide to go under the mountain in the morning. Pippin regrets going on the journey and Sam tells him to be brave. They climb to a shelter and make a fire. The wargs gather near them. Legolas kills one with his bow and they run away. Later they return in greater numbers. Gandalf chants for them to be gone. They attack from all sides and everyone starts to fight them. Gandalf seems to grow in the firelight. He uses a burning branch and makes it explode in lightning-like fire. They beat the wolves away. At dawn there are no bodies lying near their camp. Gandalf urges the company to hasten. There is no snow and the sky is clear. Gandalf says that they must make the doors under the mountain before dusk. He cannot seem to find the right path to the mines because the landscape has changes since he was last here. Gimli finds a stream and then the old road to follow. They find the steps and go up a steep incline. At the top, they look down into what used to be a valley and see that it is filled with water. They must walk around the ridge to the northeast side. Gandalf finds the doorway between two great trees. It is engraved with elfish writing; Frodo cannot understand it. It bears symbols of elves and dwarves together. Elves and Dwarves used to be friends but are no longer (for an almost forgotten reason). Gimli and Legolas argue about which race was at fault. Gandalf tells Sam that the pony will have to be left behind. With the wargs about, Sam is unwilling to allow this. Gandalf whispers to it and assures Sam that it will find its way back to Rivendell.
The doors under the mountain will only open for a password. Gandalf cannot quite remember it. The group begins to mutter and Gandalf explains that the last time he went through Moria it was from the other direction. He tries many words in many languages but cannot seem to get the door open. The rest of the group begins to get more frustrated until suddenly Gandalf laughs, "'I have it, of course, of course! Absurdly simple, like most riddles, when you see the answer.'" Book 2, Chapter 4, pg. 367. He speaks the elf word for friend and the door opens. They step into the dimness and Sam weeps as the pony rushes away with Gandalf's bidding. The waters of the lake begin to seethe and a long dark tentacle strikes out and grabs Frodo's leg. The others rush into the caverns and Sam slashes at the limb, clutching Frodo. Gandalf says a word and the doors close. Outside rocks tumble and it is closed for good. The wizard makes a light with the end of his staff and they begin to march.
After a while they stop and eat. Gandalf thinks it is forty miles to the other side. He walks ahead with his glowing staff and they follow behind him. Gimli is amazed by the tall and intricate passages. When Gandalf is in doubt of which way to go, Aragorn tells them to be brave and trust their capable guide. The company is mostly silent as they move through the darkness. Heading east, they come to a three-way fork in the tunnel and Gandalf decides that they should stop for the night. There is an empty well in the middle of the chamber. One of the hobbits almost fell into it because they rushed into the open chamber. Gandalf lies awake while the rest of the crew grabs a little sleep. He considers whether they should take the passage up, down or straight on the same level. He wakes them six hours later and says they must be on their way. He tells them that they have been going down for most of their journey so it is time for them to start going up. They take the passage that angles upward and march for eight hours. When they are about to stop, the left wall disappears into a black void. Gandalf flashes light into what is an enormous empty hall with pillars all around it. Gandalf suspects that light will creep in there in the morning.
They stop to sleep and Sam wonders how many dwarves used to live there. Gimli chants a song of the great days in Moria. The dwarves want to return to it for the precious metal Mithril. This was the original source of the dwarves' wealth. Ironically, it was also the source of their downfall. They mined too deep and released something evil and hideous. When they were producing mithril everyone wanted it. Elves love it. Sauron covets it. Bilbo's mithril coverlet was worth more than all of the wealth in the Shire put together. No one knows that Frodo is wearing such an expensive item. He dreams of days when he had heard of none of this: not the ring, Mordor, or mithril. Most of the company falls to sleep. Gandalf expects it to be difficult for them to find their way to the door. In the morning they get up and the chamber is dimly lit by natural light. They enter another chamber and find the tomb of Balin, the dwarf who led an expedition trying to refound Moria.