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Timeline Event

Frodo and Sam escape from Shelob's lair

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 13, 3019


'Master, master!' cried Sam.... 'Now's our only chance. Now let's get out of this foul hole!'

And so back they turned once more, first walking and then running.... [With] every stride they climbed higher above the stenches of the unseen lair, and strength returned to limb and heart. But still the hatred of the Watcher lurked behind them, blind for a while, perhaps, but undefeated, still bent on death. And now there came a flow of air to meet them, cold and thin. The opening, the tunnel's end, at last it was before them. Panting, yearning for a roofless place, they flung themselves forward, and then in amazement they staggered, tumbling back. The outlet was blocked with some barrier, but not of stone: soft and a little yielding it seemed, and yet strong and impervious; air filtered through, hut not a glimmer of any light. Once more they charged and were hurled back.

Holding aloft the Phial Frodo... saw a greyness which the radiance of the star-glass did not pierce and did not illuminate.... Across the width and height of the tunnel a vast web was spun, orderly as the web of some huge spider, but denser-woven and far greater, and each thread was as thick as rope.

Sam laughed grimly. 'Cobwebs!' he said. 'Is that all? Cobwebs! But what a spider! Have at 'em, down with 'em!'

In a fury he hewed at them with his sword, but the thread that he struck did not break. It gave a little and then sprang back like a plucked bowstring, turning the blade and tossing up both sword and arm. Three times Sam struck with all his force, and at last one single cord of all the countless cords snapped and twisted, curling and whipping through the air. One end of it lashed Sam's hand, and he cried out in pain....

'It will take days to clear the road like this,' he said. 'What's to be done? Have those eyes come back?'

'No, not to be seen,' said Frodo. 'But I still feel that they are looking at me, or thinking about me: making some other plan, perhaps. If this light... failed, they would quickly come again.'

'Trapped in the end!' said Sam bitterly.... 'Gnats in a net. May the curse of Faramir bite that Gollum...!'

'That would not help us now,' said Frodo. 'Come! Let us see what Sting can do.... But you must be the guard and hold back the eyes. Here, take the star-glass.... Hold it up and watch!'

Then Frodo stepped up to the great grey net, and hewed it with a wide sweeping stroke, drawing the bitter edge swiftly across a ladder of close-strung cords, and at once springing away. The blue-gleaming blade shore through them like a scythe through grass.... A great rent was made.

Stroke after stroke he dealt, until at last all the web within his reach was shattered.... The trap was broken.

'Come!' cried Frodo. 'On! On!' Wild joy at their escape from the very mouth of despair suddenly filled all his mind.... He sprang out, shouting as he came.

It seemed light in that dark land to his eyes that had passed through the den of night. The... last hours of a sombre day were passing; the red glare of Mordor had died away in sullen gloom. Yet it seemed to Frodo that he looked upon a morning of sudden hope. Almost he had reached the summit of the wall.... The Cleft, Cirith Ungol, was before him, a dim notch in the black ridge, and the horns of rock darkling in the sky on either side. A short race... and he would be through!

'The pass, Sam!' he cried, not heeding the shrillness of his voice.... 'Run, run, and we'll be through — through before any one can stop us!'

Sam came up behind as fast as he could...; but glad as he was to be free, he was uneasy, and as he ran, he kept on glancing back at the dark arch of the tunnel, fearing to see eyes... spring out in pursuit. Too little did he or his master know of the craft of Shelob. She had many exits from her lair.

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

Elena Tiriel 13Mar10

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