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Timeline Event

Gollum leads Frodo and Sam into Shelob's lair

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 12, 3019


They passed on, Gollum in front and the hobbits now side by side, up the long ravine.... Some way ahead, a mile or so, perhaps, was a great grey wall.... Darker it loomed..., until it towered up high above them, shutting out the view of all that lay beyond.... Sam sniffed the air.

'Ugh! That smell!' he said. 'It's getting stronger and stronger.'

Presently... they saw the opening of a cave. 'This is the way in,' said Gollum softly. 'This is the entrance to the tunnel.' He did not speak its name: Torech Ungol, Shelob's Lair. Out of it came a stench,... a foul reek, as if filth unnameable were piled and hoarded in the dark within.

'Is this the only way, Sméagol?' said Frodo.

'Yes, yes,' he answered. 'Yes, we must go this way now.'

'D'you mean to say you've been through this hole?' said Sam. 'Phew! But perhaps you don't mind bad smells.'

Gollum's eyes glinted. 'He doesn't know what we minds, does he precious? No, he doesn't. But Sméagol can bear things. Yes. He's been through.... It's the only way.'

'And what makes the smell, I wonder,' said Sam. 'It's like — well... [some] beastly hole of the Orcs..., with a hundred years of their filth in it.'

'Well,' said Frodo, 'Orcs or no, if it's the only way, we must take it.'

Drawing a deep breath they passed inside. In a few steps they were in utter and impenetrable dark.... [The] air was still, stagnant, heavy, and sound fell dead. They walked as it were in a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought. Night always had been, and always would be, and night was all.

But for a while they could still feel.... The walls felt... smooth, and the floor, save for a step now and again, was straight and even, going ever up at the same stiff slope. The tunnel was high... so wide that, though the hobbits walked abreast, only touching the side-walls with their outstretched hands, they were separated, cut off alone in the darkness.

Gollum had gone in first and seemed to be only a few steps ahead.... [They] could hear his breath hissing and gasping just in front of them. But after a time their senses became duller, both touch and hearing seemed to grow numb, and they kept on, groping, walking, on and on, mainly by the force of the will... to go through....

Before they had gone very far..., Sam..., feeling the wall, was aware that there was an opening at the side: for a moment he caught a faint breath of some air less heavy....

'There's more than one passage here,' he whispered with an effort....

After that, first he on the right, and then Frodo on the left, passed three or four such openings...; but there was as yet no doubt of the main way, for it was straight..., and still went steadily up. But how long was it, how much more of this would they have to endure, or could they endure? The breathlessness of the air was growing as they climbed; and now they seemed often in the blind dark to sense some resistance thicker than the foul air. As they thrust forward they felt things brush against their heads, or against their hands, long tentacles, or hanging growths perhaps.... And still the stench grew. It grew, until almost it seemed to them that smell was the only clear sense left to them, and that was for their torment. One hour, two hours, three hours: how many had they passed in this lightless hole?.... Sam left the tunnel-side and shrank towards Frodo, and their hands met and clasped, and so together they still went on.

At length Frodo, groping along the left-hand wall, came suddenly to a void. Almost he fell sideways into the emptiness. Here was some opening in the rock far wider than any they had yet passed; and out of it came a reek so foul, and a sense of lurking malice so intense, that Frodo reeled.... Sam too lurched and fell forwards.

Fighting off both the sickness and the fear, Frodo gripped Sam's hand. 'Up!' he said in a hoarse breath without voice. 'It all comes from here, the stench and the peril.... Quick!'

Calling up his remaining strength and resolution, he dragged Sam to his feet, and forced his own limbs to move. Sam stumbled beside him. One step, two steps, three steps — at last six steps. Maybe they had passed the dreadful unseen opening, but whether that was so or not, suddenly it was easier to move, as if some hostile will for the moment had released them. They struggled on, still hand in hand.

But almost at once they came to a new difficulty. The tunnel forked, or so it seemed.... Which should they take, the left, or the right?....

'Which way has Gollum gone?' panted Sam....

'Sméagol!' said Frodo, trying to call.... There was no answer....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 9, Shelob's Lair

Elena Tiriel 11Mar07

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