Shelob's Fate

On a clear night in Minas Tirith, a lone figure riding horseback slipped quietly out of the city. It was a time of peace, not many years after the destruction of the One Ring and the end of the Reign of Sauron. Why then, if it were a time a peace, was this rider sneaking out, clad in chain mail and armed as if for battle? The answer was quite simple. The lone rider was Eowyn, wife of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, and she was riding out to do battle with the fell Shelob, the greatest spider since Ungoliant. Though Eowyn was very happily married and loved her position in Gondorian society, she had been steadily growing back into her old state of unease. She longed for just one more adventure, one more battle, and as her anxiety grew, she remembered Shelob. Of course! Why hadn't it occurred to her before? She would ride up to Cirith Ungol and kill Shelob! After all, slaying monsters was her specialty. Yes, she would do it, and nothing would stop her. She never told Faramir about her idea, of course; there was no way he'd ever let her do anything like that. Hers were the best-laid plans. She'd packed food for two months, she had her horse, her armor, and a few well-chosen weapons: a sword, a dagger, and, as a last psychotic resort, a pick-axe. She'd even packed a few lanterns to throw in the beast's face. Yes, she was ready, and nothing would prevent her from going, alone. Except...

"Hey, wait!" came a voice from behind. A horse galloped up next to hers and pulled up. Its rider was the last person Eowyn expected to see that night. "Your Majesty! What in Eru's name are you doing here? Get back to the palace!" snapped Eowyn, quite forgetting all of her courtly manners in her shock.

"Pretty fine talk considering I outrank you," Arwen said coolly, for it was indeed Queen Arwen.

"Has it occurred to you that I'm trying to get out of here? Alone," Eowyn said, paying no heed to her words.

"Oh come off it. You'd never make it to Cirith Ungol, your husband will have people out looking for you the minute he notices you missing, and it wouldn't be long before you were found and brought back. Then they'd probably lock you in the mental ward at The Houses of Healing for the rest of your life," Arwen said condescendingly.

"And it will be that much worse if you're gone too! So go back to bed and for Aman's sake don't tell anyone where I've gone! And by the way, how do you know where I'm going?" Eowyn said exasperatedly.

"I read your diary," Arwen said casually.

"You what?!" began Eowyn, but Arwen continued.

"Oh come on, it was in that trunk in front of your horse's stall where anyone could've found it. And stop worrying, no one's going to follow you if I come along. I already took care of that."

"How?" asked Eowyn, now interested in spite of herself.

"It was quite simple really, all I had to do was leave a message saying there was an emergency in Lorien, I had to leave right away, and I took you with me. Simple as that."

"But what if they dont believe it? King Elessar at least is sure to see something fishy with that story, don't you think?" Eowyn said.

Arwen seemed to consider this for a moment and finally said, "I doubt it. Grandmother did the same sort of thing many times herself when she was in Middle Earth, he'll probably just assume that I picked up on the habit. He's not exactly the brightest Silmaril in the crown."

"I see. But why do you want to come along anyway? This isn't a day out in the park, you know. I'm going to Shelob's lair. It will be extremely dangerous, and, well, you aren't really the, um, "danger" type, if you know what I mean," she ended lamely.

"That's exactly why I'm going," Arwen said defensively, and her voice shook a little. "Some people think I'm useless, that I don't deserve to be queen, just because I sat around and sewed while everyone else actually did something in the war. This is my chance to - to prove my worth."

Eowyn was quite taken aback by this, she'd never thought of Arwen as being able to feel insecure, although she did agree with her; she hadn't done much during the war.

"Give me another reason why I should let you come," she said.

"Well, you'll never beat Shelob on your own, if half the stories about her be true. I could at least distract her while you attacked her from behind." That did make sense, and Eowyn relented.

"Really? You mean it? Oh yes! You won't regret this, I promise. By the way, I brought along a few things that might help you. Look, see? I stole Anduril for you. And here's the Phial of Galadriel that Frodo bequeathed to me before he left. That might come in handy, don't you think?" Arwen said this all very quickly.

"Whoa, there. Yes, I think that those things should come in handy, and I'd better not regret bringing you along, or there will be Barad-Dur to pay. Come on, let's go."

And so off they went, and they were not followed, and they met no one, save a few Orc bands that had somehow survived the Downfall of Sauron, but they quickly dealt with those. At last, they reached the steps of Cirith Ungol, but, neither of them wanting to face Shelob in the absolute dark, they left the horses and some of the supplies at the bottom and climbed the long route over the mountains, which was no easy task; there were several near-misses along the way, but I won't go into detail about that except to say that both of them gained many gray hairs over it.

Eventually, they set down in the exact spot where Sam had fought with Shelob just a few years back. The two women then discussed the best way to lure her out. It took some time, but they finally settled on a plan. Eowyn would cut herself and bleed a little bit near the entrance (Arwen was squeamish about bleeding), then hide behind a rock with Anduril in front of the entrance while Arwen made a huge ruckus up ahead. When Shelob came out to investigate, Arwen would shine the Phial directly into her many eyes to blind her so that Eowyn could attack from behind. Arwen said that after Shelobs attention was fully on Eowyn, she'd jump in and fight too, but Eowyn wasn't quite sure she believed her.

All the same, they went ahead with their plan, and Stage One went smoothly. Not twenty minutes after they'd gotten into position, a growing smell of rotten flesh reached their nostrils, and they knew that it wouldn't be much longer...

And then she emerged, almost as large as an Oliphaunt, pincers clicking with glee as she spotted Arwen with her remaining eyes, gathering speed, and then stopping dead as a blinding light hit her. She'd seen that light years before, and she'd hated it then, and she hated it now, but it stunned her, surprised her, and she began to back away, her only thought to be away from that light. But she soon had other things to think of, for as she was backing away, she felt a sharp pain in one of her legs, and found she couldn't keep her balance as easily as before. And no wonder! For Eowyn had cut that leg off! The pain worsened, and as Shelob turned to face the cause of it, she was met with a blow to the side of her head, which did little more than further enrage her. The Great Spider reared up, and one of her forelegs knocked Eowyn down. And as she was about to crush her, Shelob felt another sharp pain, this time in her side. Arwen had come forward, (much to Eowyn's surprise) and was making good use of that pickaxe! In her rage and confusion Shelob forgot all about Eowyn, who jumped to her feet and began hacking away at the fell beast with Anduril. Arwen had moved to the front and was busily aiming blows at Shelob's eyes with the pickaxe. By this time the spider's mind was no longer on food, and she was aiming to kill, to utterly destroy.

The battle went on for some time, and I won't go into full gory detail, but before the end Shelob had lost quite a few of her remaining eyes and could barely stand up because she had lost another leg. As for Eowyn and Arwen, they had sustained a few wounds as well. Arwen's face had been slashed by one of the spider's claws, and Eowyn's arm was fractured again as the fell beast knocked her against a rock. Shelob was starting to gain the upper hand, but Eowyn quickly put a stop to that when she managed to forget the pain of that fracture and bring her sword round, striking off two legs with one blow. Shelob lost her balance completely and rolled over onto her back, nearly crushing Arwen, thrashing and frothing all the while. The two women closed in on her and struck their blows at the same time. Arwen's, into her mouth, Eowyn's, into her chest. The Great Shelob lay dead.

The two women fell back against the rocks panting. For a while, neither of them said anything. Finally, Arwen spoke. "Glad I came now?"

"Yes, I am glad. That would've been much harder on my own," Eowyn replied.

"Harder? You couldn't have done it without me and you know it. Shelob would've eaten you whole then spat you back out because you're so bitter."

"Alright, alright. I couldn't have done it without you. Don't be a smartass. C'mon, let's see what we've got to put on our wounds," Eowyn said sharply.

They searched their packs which they'd hidden in the nearby rocks.

The results were quite cheering, for they came up with some dried athelas, a couple of bandages, a small jug of brandy, and a special salve which Eowyn had forgotten she'd packed. It was the kind that relieves muscle soreness, and it was made only by a man named Benamir Gayshield, or "Ben Gay" for short.

After they had treated each other's wounds, (which were numerous, but fortunately not serious) and Eowyn's arm had been put up in a sling, the two women debated on which part of Shelob's body they should take back to Minas Tirith. Eowyn wanted to take one of her legs and Arwen wanted to take some of the spikes from her back. They sidestepped a fight by each taking what they wanted.

Before they left, they burned the body, which put off such a horrid smell that Arwen became violently sick. Once she had recovered, they went back, this time through the lair, Phial held high, lighting their way. And there they found hanging...

"Is there any one in this rout with authority to treat with me?" he asked. "Or indeed with wit to-" but he never finished, for Eowyn stabbed him dead right there. Thus ended the Mouth of Sauron, who in his panic at the Downfall of the Barad-Dur had fled right into Shelobs clutches. She had hung him up yet forgotten about him with all of those Orcs running about.

They found no others, living or dead, and the return journey was very uneventful.

The girls arrived back in Minas Tirith on a bright, sunny day, only to hear that King Elessar and Lord Faramir had just departed to search for them, finding Arwen's tale to be false when a messenger from Lorien arrived bearing no news of them. Riders were sent out immediately to inform them that their wives had returned.

A great feast was held as soon as the men had returned, at which time Eowyn and Arwen revealed where they had gone and what they had done. Their husbands were thrilled to hear that Shelob was dead, but were still not wholly over their fright. Eowyn and Arwen felt pangs of guilt when they heard how worried their husbands had been, but the feeling quickly subsided. After all, how many times had they sat around at home worrying themselves sick about their husbands? A taste of their own medicine would do them good once in a while, and they never apologized for it.

So the two women of high standing defeated Shelob and Eowyn's reputation was increased while Arwen's reputation improved; no one ever thought of her as "useless" again. And while neither of them ever went on any intentional adventures again, there were a few mishaps that occasionally led to adventure, such as that spider incident in Mirkwood when they were traveling to Thranduils palace, and then of course that Barrow Wight thing while they were on their way to Tom Bombadil's. But that's another story, and aside from that the two women lived long and happy lives with their trophy husbands and remained the best of friends for their entire lives. After all, there are some things you can't share without feeling a certain kinship, and slaying a giant spider is one of them.