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.
'Listen! They are coming this way,' said Frodo. 'We have only to wait.' The singing drew nearer. One clear voice rose now above the others. It was singing in the fair elven-tongue, of which Frodo knew only a little, and the others knew nothing. Yet the sound blending with the melody seemed to shape itself in their thought into words which they only partly understood. This was the song as Frodo heard it:
Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.
O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sawn,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
The song ended. 'These are High Elves! They spoke the name of Elbereth!' said Frodo in amazement, 'Few of that fairest folk are ever seen in the Shire. Not many now remain in Middle-earth, east of the Great Sea. This is indeed a strange chance!'
-------------from chapter III<three is company>
The three commanders agreed that the Goblins and Wargs were the enemies of all, and previous grievances between them were put on hold in face of the greater threat. They arranged their forces on the two spurs of the Mountain that lined the valley leading to the now-sealed off great gate; the only entrance to the Mountain. The Dwarves and Lake-men formed up on one spur and the Elves on the other, while a light rear-guard lined across the mouth of the valley to lure the Goblins between the two, and thus destroy them. Bilbo Baggins, while invisible due to the Ring, tried to sit out the battle on the spur held by the Elves.
Soon the Goblins and Wargs arrived (and now four armies were on the field), and at first the plan worked: they were lured into the choke point and took heavy losses. However, due to their superior numbers, the allied Free Folk did not hold the advantage long. The second wave was even worse than the first, and now many Goblins scaled the mountain from the opposite side, and began to attack the arrayed forces from above and behind, as the main wave pressed forward. The battle raged across the Mountain, and then a great noise was heard: Thorin and his twelve Dwarf companions inside the mountain had thrown down the stone wall they had erected across the mouth of the gates, killing many Goblins. Thorin and Company then charged out to join the battle, covered from head to toe in the finest armour and weapons contained in the treasure hoard of Erebor. Thorin advanced through the Goblins ranks all the way up to the gigantic Goblins that formed the Bodyguard of Bolg, whom he could not get past. The battle degenerated into a chaotic close quarters melee, no quarter asked or given.
As the battle was turning fully against the Free Folk, a number of Giant Eagles of the Misty Mountains arrived (the fifth army), led by Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles. Bilbo was the first to spot their entrance on the scene and began shouting that "the Eagles are coming!", a shout that was then continued among the other troops of the Free Folk. At this point Bilbo was knocked in the head by a large stone thrown by a Goblin from above on the Mountain, and he passed out. With the support of the Giant Eagles, the battle turned back against the Goblins. Then Beorn himself arrived at the battle, apparently having heard news that a large army of Goblins was on the move. This time he did not appear in his former shape of a giant Man, but had changed his skin to that of a gigantic bear. Beorn drove through the Goblin lines, but paused to carry the wounded Thorin out of the battle. Beorn then returned to the battle with even greater wrath and smashed the ranks of the Bodyguard of Bolg, ultimately killing Bolg himself. The Goblins eventually panicked and scattered, to be picked off by hunting forces from the victors later; many of the Goblin survivors died in the Mirkwood forest.
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.