The Witch-king and the other Nazgūl rode from Mordor and Dol Guldur searching for the Shire. Four entered the Shire, and found that "Baggins" had moved to Buckland. Several Nazgūl attacked Gandalf onWeathertop and tried to ambush Frodo Baggins in Buckland and at Bree. Five, including the Witch-king, finally found Frodo on Weathertop with the other hobbits, accompanied by the Ranger Aragorn. The Ringwraiths attacked the party, and the Witch-king wounded Frodo with a Morgul-blade. Frodo's wound threatened to turn him into a wraith under the control of the Nazgūl.
As the company made for Rivendell, the realm of Elrond Half-elven, they met Glorfindel, who loaned Frodo his horse Asfaloth. Pursued by all nine Nazgūl, the horse carried Frodo across the River Bruinen. From the far bank Frodo defied the Nazgūl. When the Witch-king rode into the water, Elrond, who controlled the river, released a flood that caught three Nazgūl and their horses. Glorfindel advanced and drove the terrified horses of the remaining Nazgūl into the flood. The horses drowned, and all nine Nazgūl were swept away.
Paths of the Dead
The way is shut.
It was made by those who are Dead.
And the Dead keep it.
The way is shut.
Until the time comes.
At the end of the Second Age, their king, known as the King of the Mountains, pledged allegiance to Isildur at the Stone of Erech. However, these Men later refused to aid Isildur in his war against Sauron; they came to the aid of neither side, but instead hid in the mountains. They had previously worshipped the Dark Lord during the Dark Years. As punishment, Isildur cursed them, saying that they would not have peace or rest till they fulfilled their oath upon his command or that of his heirs.
Their spirits haunted the caverns beneath the Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain, and the valley of Harrowdale that lay in its shadow—though they were said to appear in the valley only in times of trouble or death, haunting the hill of the Stone of Erech.
Malbeth the Seer prophesied that a day would come when need and haste would drive one of Isildur's heirs to take the Paths of the Dead and that the Dead would answer to his call. Thousands of years later, in the final years of the Third Age, that prophecy was fulfilled. In the War of the Ring, Aragorn, Isildur's heir and direct descendant, called upon the Dead, summoning them to the stone of Erech, and commanded them to fulfil their oath and be free. On this occasion, he first uses the royal banner of Gondor, made by Arwen and delivered to him by Halbarad and the Grey Company.
They followed him through Gondor's lands and fiefs south of the Mountains, and at the port of Pelargir they drove away the Corsairs of Umbar, allies of Sauron. Their oath fulfilled, Aragorn granted them their freedom, and they vanished at last from the world. After this, Aragorn gathered the warriors of the region to him. They sailed to Minas Tirith on the Corsairs' own ships, and turned the tide at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
The island was brought up from the sea as a gift from the Valar to the Edain, the Fathers of Men who had stood with the Elves of Beleriand against Morgoth in the War of the Jewels. Númenor was meant to be a "rest after the war" for the Edain. Early in the Second Age the greater part of those Edain that survived their defeat from Morgoth journeyed to the isle, sailing in ships provided and steered by the Elves. The migration took fifty years and brought 5,000 to 10,000 men, women and children.
The realm was officially established in S.A. 32, and Elros Half-elven, son of Eärendil, and brother of Elrond and descendant of all the royal houses of Elves and Edain, became the first King of Númenor. Under his rule, and those of his descendants, the Númenóreans rose to become a powerful people. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year 600 of the Second Age.
The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which Men could not come. For a long time, Númenor remained friendly with the Elves, both of Eressëa and of Middle-earth, and between S.A. 1693-1700, they assisted Gil-galad in the War of the Elves and Sauron, which broke out after the forging of the Great Rings, in particular the One Ring. King Tar-Minastir and the forces of Númenor were without peer in war, and together with the Elves, they were able to temporarily defeat Sauron. Over time the Númenóreans became jealous of the Elves for their immortality, and began to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them. They tried to compensate for this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly manner, but later as cruel tyrants. Soon the Númenóreans came to rule a great coastal empire that had no rival. Few (the "Faithful") remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the Elves.
In the year 3255 of the Second Age, the 25th king, Ar-Pharazôn, sailed to Middle-earth and landed at Umbar. Seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron's armies fled and Sauron surrendered without a fight. He was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner but he soon became an advisor to the king and promised the Númenóreans eternal life if they worshipped Melkor. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot (150 m) tall temple to Melkor erected, in which he offered human sacrifices to Melkor (those selected to be sacrificed were Elendili, Númenóreans who were still faithful to the Elves).
During this time, the White Tree Nimloth, which stood before the King's House in Armenelos and whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor at Sauron's direction. Isildur, heroically and at great personal risk, rescued a fruit of the tree which became an ancestor of the White Tree of Gondor, preserving the ancient line of trees.
Prompted by Sauron and fearing old age and death, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the West to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands, and by so doing achieve immortality. Sauron remained behind. This force was quoted by Tolkien as the 'greatest force ever assembled on Arda'. In the year 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman. As the Valar were forbidden to take direct action against Men, Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Eru. The Undying Lands were removed from the world forever, and the formerly flat Earth was made into a globe. Númenor was overwhelmed in the cataclysm and sank beneath the sea, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms, forever appearing in the form of a Dark Lord thereafter.
Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.