1. Sweet Meat
The bones and sinews are sufficiently loosened by her powerful digestive juices, and for a time only the soft sounds of her eating can be heard. But her meal is coarse and stringy - it does not satisfy her hunger, nor does it nourish her.
She needs nourishment now, with the gaping hole in her belly still oozing, no matter how she plies her silk to the wound. Her eyes, seared by that terrible light, do not see, do not glow here in the dark.
To heal, she must eat. The orcs that are her usual fare make poor food though, and her hunger, that has always been great, is now greater still.
But she can only eat what she can catch and she is sorely hurt.
So she bides her time.
She rests, conserving her strength, and when she must move, when her hunger must be sated, she does not go far, but waits for prey to come to her. She is good at waiting. And there are many footfalls along her tunnels these days. Running, fleeing, panicked creatures that do not turn and do not notice when one of their number runs no further, or if they do notice, they do not care.
There has been a change in the way of things, this she knows. Even down here in the deepest depths of her lair, even here where no light reaches, she feels the currents of the air shift and alter. With fine, delicate hairs she tastes and smells it.
And in the great, dark core of her mind, she knows when he falls. She has dwelt on the borders of his land for an age, but she cares not for his loss. Too rarely did anything other than orc-kind pass her way.
There is little that matters to one such as she, who has since ancient times thought only of her hunger. She is hurting now, though, and while her wound weeps and she knows weakness like she never has before, she must take care, and be wary.
She was not wary enough of the coming of the small creature to her lair. It was too mean and thin to make her a meal, and it was possessed of a mind that was ripe for her influence. She bent and shaped it as she liked, and in return it bowed and worshipped her, whispering promises of fat tasty morsels.
She should not have listened.
While she thinks of little but her appetite and her pain, she keeps in mind the revenge she will take on the spindly creature should it ever pass within her reach again. She will let its bony corpse line her nest.
She thinks also of the ones that came with their unbearable light.
Unused to anguish, she has felt a bite to rival her own - a sting as cold as ice, that pierced so deeply. Unused to fear, her precious flesh she thought sound and safe has been terribly marred.
She has faced the power of the elves before undaunted - has heard such words invoked: 'A Elbereth Gilthoniel!' Such things they cried as she devoured them.
She has seen fire and starlight, but no light like to this one. Too brightly it burned.
And in that light was a voice that spoke to her of ancient power. A lady of light, just as she, Shelob the Great, has always been bound to darkness. And in that moment, cringing in agony, Shelob thought that perhaps, perhaps, this other She might be even greater.
She is unused to doubt.
She, who has no rival, nor any master.
Nervously she spins her silk and nurses her torn flesh.
She is hungry.
Cradled in her web nearby another morsel, days old, waits her pleasure. It is orc, though, and no pleasure will it bring her.
She will eat it regardless.
The air shifts minutely then, carrying with it the sound of numerous footfalls and ragged breathing.
The orc-morsel will wait; she gathers herself to hunt.
She can move very quickly when she wants to, but she is sore, and the constant seeping of her inner fluids weakens her. But she does not need to move much to catch such miserable beings.
So, carefully she creeps from her soft, quiet nest, and moves slowly on the silent tips of her many legs out into the tunnels. She is not so bold, but no less confident in her stealth, and waits, tasting the air, as the footsteps draw near.
These are no orcs, reeking of the bitter mud from which they came. These are man-kind, and will make a fit meal for her. They smell of fear and blood. It is an appetising scent, though her hunger needs no aid.
The steps slow as they approach. Their panicked, hushed voices echo along the dark passageways; their laboured, frightened breathing is loud. She needs not her useless eyes, their once glowing brilliance, here in the pitch black.
Her other senses are keen.
Fine hairs sense their stumbling movements. Blindly they grope along the walls and at each other. They do not see her as they pass within scant feet of her, quaking and gibbering in the manner of such creatures.
She moves, and takes the last of them - it goes down easily under her fangs. But the others react with much noise and confusion. Another falls to the ground, and she is upon it, and then one more is still within her reach. Her fang touches one outflung limb, and it falls too.
The rest have all fled haphazardly away, but she will not chase them. These three must do for now.
She will bide her time. She is patient, and good at waiting.
Slowly she binds her prey.
These will not be the last to walk within her reach, now that change has come to the land where she, the great Shelob, dwells.
Soon she will feast on these soft-bodies, their sweet flesh will nourish her. She will heal, and her hunger will grow and grow.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.