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Speak the password and enter, if you dare.

Can you find a logical path through the maze and explain why it is correct? What is the password?

Rules:

  • must visit each square at least one time (or more)
  • orthogonal movement only
  • no immediate backtracking
  • first names only
IN>agalewndromir
   zonromenoraro
   rodonelavoceb
   ?lahadrlebelr
   da?io?eegrami
   aggwemasogrin
   kanirryalero?
   lsarunavemond
   uthomnarnlguw
   loguamsadaada
   llidnellicnll
   uworarualegii
   myev?aegmothn
   anwesoisoronu
   rolduraluieet
   ?siuimhithnih>OUT
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1 Answer 1

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Phew, this took some perseverance! The route through the maze traces the following overlapping path:

Route through the maze

To navigate it, we must trace out:

a chain of character names from the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, where the last letter of one name becomes the first letter of the next.

The characters who appear are (in order):

IN > Azog, Gandalf, Frodo, Oromë, Elenwë, Elrohir, Radagast, Tulkas, Saruman, Nellas, Smaug, Gollum, Manwë, Éowyn, Nori, Is(u)ldur, Rose, Eärendil, Lotho, Ori, Ingwion, Nerdanel, Landroval, Legolas, Sam, Merry, Yavanna, Arveleg, Gríma, Argeleb, Boromir, Rorimac, Celebrindor, Romendacil, Laura, Arvedui, Imrahil, Luthien, Niënor, Rosie, Egalmoth, Hilda, Angelica, Algund, Dwalin, Nuneth > OUT

(Letters in bold here are those which must replace the question marks.)

Which means the password - spelled out by the letters hidden behind the question marks, in the order we encounter them - is:

FRIEND, which is a reference to an event in Lord of the Rings where the West-door of Moria bears an inscription with the instruction to "speak 'friend' and enter" (hence the title here!). Once Gandalf does so, the gate opens!

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Great perseverance! Good spot on the typo; fixed! $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Mar 11, 2022 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. May I know your thought process? $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Mar 11, 2022 at 20:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @justhalf Sure: rot13(Xabjvat gung jr jrer ybbxvat sbe 'svefg anzrf' uvqqra va gur tevq, gurer qvqa'g frrz gb or znal 'abezny' anzrf uvqqra jvguva, pregnvayl abar V pbhyq fcbg yrnqvat gb gur 'BHG'. Ybbxvat ng gur 'VA' V ernyvfrq gung 'NMBT' jnf n punenpgre sebz Gur Uboovg; gura V erpbtavfrq gur 'fcrnx... naq ragre' dhbgr sebz YbgE. Gura fcbggvat OBEBZVE gbc evtug, naq QJNYVA qbja gur fvqr, V ernyvfrq V jnf ba gb fbzrguvat. TNAQNYS naq SEBQB sryy, haqre gur nffhzcgvba gung gur dhrfgvba znex fubhyq or na S, naq gura gur fgneg-naq-raq angher bs gur znmr ebhgr orpnzr pyrne.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Mar 11, 2022 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ rot13(Vg gbbx n YBG bs pbafhygvat gur yvaxrq jrocntr gb vqragvsl gur zber bofpher punenpgref, naq gura svanyyl V unq n ebhgr gung sryy vagb cynpr!) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Mar 11, 2022 at 23:36

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