The Haunted Pass Through the White Mountains

“The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.

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When the realm of Gondor was founded, Isildur set a great black stone on the hill of Erech and called upon the mountain people of Erad Nimrais to pledge allegiance to Gondor. However, when Sauron attacked Gondor in 3429 of the Second Age, the men of the mountains refused to honor their oath and so Isildur cursed them, saying they would find no peace until their oath was fulfilled.

The King fled with his people into their mountain dwellings and dwindled away until none remained alive. Their restless spirits haunted the hill of Erech and their mountain home became know as the Paths of the Dead, a place of terror for mortal men.

PathsDead1The northern entrance to the Paths of the Dead was marked by ancient stones leading through the Dimholt Road, which was a thicket of black and broken trees that led into a small clearing where a Dark Door was cut into a sheer rock wall. Standing outside this black entryway, one could hear a continuous whisper of deadly voices speaking words unknown in the common tongue.

After the Battle of Helms Deep a grey mantled company came out of the mists from the direction of the North.

Then the Riders set out again, Aragorn for a while rode with the Dúnedain; and when they had spoken of tidings in the North and in the South, Elrohir said to him.
‘I bring word to you from my father. “The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead.”‘
‘Always my days have seemed to me too short to achieve my desire,’ answered Aragorn. ‘But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road.’
‘That will soon be seen,’ said Elrohir. ‘But let us speak no more of these things upon the open road.’

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Passing of the Grey Company’


Aragorn talks with Legolas and Gimli about the road he must take…

‘Listen! This is the word that the sons of Elrond bring to me from their father in Rivendell, wisest in lore: Bid Aragorn remember the words of the seer, and the Paths of the Dead.’

PathsDead3Words of the Seer

“Over the land there lies a long shadow,
westward reaching wings of darkness.
The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
and here there a horn in the hills ringing.
Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door of the Paths of the Dead.”

‘If you would understand them better, then I bid you come with me,’ said Aragorn; ‘for that way I now shall take. But I do not go gladly, only need drives me. Therefore, only of your free will would I have you come, for you will find both toil and great fear, and maybe worse.’
‘I will go with you even on the Paths of the Dead, and to whatever end they may lead,’ said Gimli.
‘I also will come,’ said Legolas, ‘for I do not fear the Dead.’
‘I hope that the forgotten people will not have forgotten how to fight,’ said Gimli; ‘for otherwise I see not why we should trouble them.’

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Passing of the Grey Company’



PathsDead2Aragorn tells the history of the Dead Men of the Dimholt.

‘That we shall know if we ever come to Erech.’ said Aragorn. ‘But the oath that they broke was to fight against Sauron, and they must fight therefore; if they are to fulfill it. For at Erech there stands yet a black stone that was brought, it is said from Númenor by Isildur; and it was set upon a hill, and upon it the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to him in the beginning of the realm of Gondor.  But when Sauron returned and grew in might again, Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfill their oath, and they would not: for they worshiped Sauron in the Dark Years.
‘Then Isildur said to their king:”Thou shalt be the last king. And if the West prove mightier than thy Black Master, this curse I lay upon thee and thy folk: to rest never until your oath is fulfilled. For this war will last through years uncounted, and you shall be  summoned once again ere the end” And they fled before the wrath of Isildur, and did not dare to go forth to war on Sauron’s part; and they hid themselves in secret places in the mountains and had no dealings with other men, but slowly dwindled in the barren hills. And the terror of the Sleepless Dead lies about the Hill of Erech and all places where that people lingered. But that way I must go, since there are none living to help me.”
He stood up. ‘Come!’ he cried, and drew his sword, and it flashed in the twilit hall of the Burg. ‘To the Stone of Erech! I seek the Paths of the Dead. Come with me who will!’

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Passing of the Grey Company’


The Grey Company came upon the Dark Door in the Haunted Mountain.

The light was still grey as they rode, for the sun had not yet climbed over the black ridges of the Haunted Mountain before them. A dread fell on them, even as they passed between the lines of ancient stones and so came to the Dimholt. There under the gloom of black trees that not even Legolas could long endure they found a hollow place opening at the mountain’s root, and right in their path stood a single mighty stone like a finger of doom.
‘My blood runs chill,’ said Gimli, but the others were silent, and his voice fell dead on the dark fir-needles at his feet. The horses would not pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them about. And so they came at last deep into the glen; and there stood a sheer wall of rock, and in the wall the Dark Door gaped before them like the mouth of night. Signs and figures were carved above the wide arch too dim to read, and fear flowed from it like a grey vapor.

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Passing of the Grey Company’



‘The man who can wield the power of this sword
can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the ranger.
Become who you were born to be. Take the Dimholt road.’


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 Posted by at 10:26 am