They’re searching for something.
Some sort of weapon, perhaps?
The soldiers of Sauron aren’t just taking captives to dig secret tunnels on The Rings of Power; they’re ransacking towns. Arondir thinks the orcs are looking for a weapon. Is he right? Elves are wise, and we know Sauron loves items of great might. But what exactly would he want at this point in history, though? Based on what we know about both the past and future of Middle-earth, we can think of some powerful “tools” orcs might look to have for the coming war on The Rings of Power. But one option the orcs might be digging for not only seems the most likely, but it’s also the most terrifying.
What Are Middle-Earth’s Orcs Searching For?
The Lost Simaril of Maedhros
The Silmarils of Fëanor led to centuries of war during the First Age. As Celebrimbor explained, the beauty of those important gems made with the light of gods nearly extinguished the evil in Morgoth’s heart.
The Valar, or Middle-earth’s gods, set one of the Silmarils in the sky to shine as the Star of Eärendil. However, Fëanor’s remaining sons, Maglor and Maedhros, killed in order to steal the other two following Morgoth’s defeat during the War of Wrath. But their evil deeds made the gems burn their hands. Unable to take the pain, Maglor threw his into the sea, while his brother Maedhros cast himself and his Silmaril into a fiery chasm. A prophecy says the two jewels will only be recovered at the end of the world when Morgoth himself will return.
Sauron might think a Silmaril will help bring back his master. But the land of Beleriand where Maedhros is said to have jumped into the pit is itself now under the sea in the north, far from where orcs are digging. Also, Sauron himself never showed much interest in the jewels. So while this is a fun idea to consider, it’s far and away the least plausible option when it comes to identifying what the orcs are looking for.
Morgoth’s Warhammer Grond
When Morgoth battled Fingolfin, High King of the Ñoldor, in single combat, Morgoth wielded a great warhammer called Grond. While that’s the only recorded history of Morgoth using Grond (also referred to as a mace), his successor Sauron paid tribute to the famed weapon during the Third Age. He called the massive battering ram used against the gates of Gondor’s Minas Tirith, Grond.
Morgoth’s Grond was also known as the Hammer of the Underworld, and orcs are digging “under the world.” It would also offer immense power to whoever used it. But how it would end up buried in the south when Morgoth ruled from the north is hard to guess. So while not impossible, Grond still seems an unlikely object of the orcs’ search.
A Balrog Hidden Deep in the Ground
Like Sauron and wizards, Balrogs are Maiar, spirit servants of the Valar. But Morgoth corrupted them and turned them into massive demon servants of evil. The Lord of the Rings fans know how dangerous those behemoths are. A Balrog killed even the powerful Gandalf the Gray in The Fellowship of the Ring.
More than one Balrog survived the War of Wrath and went hiding deep under Middle-earth. Orcs might seek a passage that will unleash one now so it can fight alongside their new Dark Lord. Of all the potential weapons Sauron and his orcs might look for, so far, this one is the most reasonable ( for many reasons). But it’s not the most likely. Nor the scariest.
Theo’s Broken Sword of Evil
Médhor the elf said the orcs’ tunnels in the south run at least as far as Hordern, a town of men where Theo and his mother Bronwyn lived. It’s also a town that descends from people who fought for Morgoth (which is why elves kept an eye on them.) And Hordern happens to be where Theo already found a fractured weapon marked with Sauron’s evil symbol. Theo even found the sword buried under the floorboards of a farm, exactly where the orcs are digging. If the orcs want that broken sword, though, their work might already be done.
The Lord of the Rings also featured a shattered sword of immense importance, Narsil. It came from Aragorn’s descendant, Elendil of Númenor. ( Who just happened to make his The Rings of Power debut during the third episode.) That reforged sword helped Aragorn claim his place as king. But what if Narsil had a counterpart? In this same episode, Galadriel said Halbrand’s ancestor united the tribes of Southland men and ruled as their king. Only Halbrand, thus far presented as having a story similar to Aragorn, said that the king fought for Morgoth, just as some men will soon fight for Sauron. That includes the men destined to be Sauron’s most powerful soldiers.
The orcs might be looking for Narsil’s evil counterpart as they dig under the ground, so it can once again corrupt the minds of men into following a Dark Lord to war. And that’s more than possible. We’ve already seen that broken sword calling out to Theo, who is enchanted by its power. All of which is far more terrifying than any other weapon, even a Balrog or warhammer, Sauron might want.
The rings of power will soon turn nine men into the Nazgûl, Sauron’s most dangerous generals who were leaders of men. And when they come riding into battle, they won’t come empty-handed. One of them might very well be carrying that evil sword with them.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.