The Shenora Spider (also called Shen'rásh in Styrásh, meaning "new spider," though the origin of this name is unknown) is a petite little spider living throughout most of Sarvonia. While male and female Shenora Spider doubtless exist, the creature is most often referred to and thought of as female, due in part to its muliebrity and in part to the myth associated with it. For this reason, this entry will refer to the spider as a female.
The Shenora Spider is a dainty little creature, only a few grains from the tips
of her elegant front legs to the end of her callipygous rear. Her legs, which
number eight, are long and slender. Once they leave her flat, oval-shaped torso,
they spread out around her, each bent by three joints so slightly and so subtly
as to give the illusion each was shaped naturally into a curve. Such an
illusion, though, may be quickly broken: to scare her is to witness her legs
pull up around her in fright; at once her leisurely recline may be turned to
Her small yet shapely body is split into two segments: the flat, oval torso and her round abdomen. Budding from her torso, along with her willowy arms, are small protrusions just below her eyes that help her spin her web and bundle her food. Her eyes are tiny, black, and eight in number, and tend to stare with innocence and bewilderment at her surroundings. Upon her abdomen are the clearest marks which make the Shenora Spider distinctive: little blue-black spots trailing up to her torso, and also colouring the joints of her delicate little legs, standing out against a sandy background.
Until mating season arises and courting begins, male and female spiders are nearly impossible to tell apart, so closely do they resemble one another. The careful observer, however, may notice that the males are just slightly smaller than the females.
The Shenora Spider is no creature of outstanding strength or speed or agility;
she is unmagical herself, though some believe that her webs bring good luck.
When the wind is chilled with the promise of
winter, she may seek out warmth in the house of a nearby neighbour - perhaps a
human or elf
- and reside there for a time. While mere suspicion at best, many claim that
they rest easier at night whilst she lives in the house, reasoning that her webs
catch dark and frightening dreams. This superstition is widely believed - ost
notably in rural households where these spiders are likely to wander,
particularly by housewives and, it is rumoured, witches.
Territory. The Shenora Spider can be found throughout Santharia, and even in many parts of Northern Sarvonia. However, she seems to love the calm babbling of brooks and peaceful shining lakes where little insects may hover around the shallow waters to breed or feast. Alongside the Vandrina River, Nekoma Creek, or Ishmarin Lake, she may be found busying herself at her loom of reeds, or twigs, or branches.
Though she may prefer the singing streams and peaceful ponds of Sarvonia, she may, too, be found within the forests and the plains. Sometimes, when winter sows a chill into the land, she will find her way into the homes of her human, elven, or hobbit neighbours (or gnomish, orcish, and browniin neighbours, for that matter!). However, if she should find shelter here, she will most certainly depart once spring arrives, if not before.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Shenora Spider is quite fond of lakes and rivers, and while unwilling to dip into the waters herself, seems content to build her webs nearby. Her web is a lovely and fascinating structure, created with a number of supporting threads, which form the foundation of her design. From the centre, or near-centre, what appears like a single thread spirals outwards until it reaches the edges of the supporting threads. The whole structure, less than two palmspans in diameter (and usually hardly one), shimmers stunningly in the dew of the early morning, the glittering creation of her skillful engineering.
These webs may be found anywhere the Shenora Spider may call home, and while she is often found around the water - perhaps enjoying the lapping of waves on the lake shore or the gurgling music of a passing stream - she can be found in plains and valleys amidst the grasses, and in the branches of forest trees.
She is quite a timid creature - and would not you be, as well, if you were so small and fragile? A tasty morsel for birds and rodents, she is shy and fearful. Watching her at work, it would seem that she wishes nothing more or less than to weave her web, and then rest quietly out of sight, hidden against a twig behind the beauty of her work. If she should be building when a wind or passerby shakes the yealm reeds or alth'ho grasses or birch tree in which she resides, she quickly flees to cover and waits until she is certain the danger has passed.
Diet. The Shenora Spider is not a picky eater; she is grateful to the gods for whatever might happen to tumble into her web. Often these are buzzing flies or gnats, but may also be small moths or butterflies - however, they must be very, very small to find themselves trapped in the diminutive weaving of the Shenora Spider. Most of the creatures caught in her web are those winged nuisances that buzz about the eyes and ears.
The Shenora Spider lies patiently near one supporting thread of her structure, perhaps enjoying the air, the glitter of sun on the water, the calming sound of it lapping or rushing or babbling - maybe watching the deer quench their thirst, the fish swim about, the clouds rolling by. She may seem quite at leisure, but as soon as a creature flies into her web - perhaps a buzzing gnat - she springs to action, as though thinking it quite indecent to have a creature tangling her web and disrupting the calm of an otherwise pleasant afternoon. She hurries to wrap it up in threads using the small protrusions on the front of her torso, below her eyes. In this way, she ceases its shuddering. She then dines, rather quickly, as though ashamed to waste the day with such trifling matters.
She then repairs the web as best she can and returns to her hiding place to again watch the deer and the fish and the clouds meandering by.
Mating. When spring melts winter’s ice and returns warmth to the lands, and the frigid clouds give way to sun, many creatures seem apt to fall in love, and the Shenora Spider is certainly no exception. She may take many mates during the warmer seasons, when the fire of the sun burns desire into her heart. She lies in wait for a lover to entreat her and win her heart.
Of course, the Shenora Spider maid is not so easily won. She awaits a gentle and humble mate, who seeks her out and who, upon finding her, will perform a dance to show his earnest adulation. This often involves, first, tugging at the threads of her web to get her attention, and then stepping out upon it, a dancer upon the stage. He will then perform for her, moving from side to side in a semi-circle around where she watches in coy silence, occasionally raising his legs dramatically as though astounded and overwhelmed by emotion.
When his dance concludes, he waits upon the web and, if she remains unimpressed, she will stay where she is, ignoring him until, dejectedly, he wanders off to find another who might love him. However, if her heart is won by his musical gesture, she will meet him. The mating processes itself remains a mystery, but must be somewhat quick, for after a few intimate touches, it is complete, and the bashful maid bids her lover farewell.
Within a few days, the Shenora Spider will build a nest for her young, filled with dozens of little eggs. She will care for the bundle, keeping it safely stored against a twig or reed or branch, out of the elements that may harm it. In a few weeks, the eggs hatch, and dozens of tiny little young burst forth joyously into the world. Their mother watches proudly as they throw their threads to the wind and go where ever Grothar’s breezes blow. It is hard to guess how long until these little ones are able to produce little spiderlings of their own, but many estimate they mature within a couple months.
So, too, is it hard to know how long these young may live, though many suppose that, within a year or two, they pass into the unknown.
Myth/Lore. According to an old, Caltharian story, the Shenora Spider was, long ago, a young woman named Shenora. It is said that her hair was of a sandy hue and her lovely skin was soft and immaculate. She grew up by a village near the Cylian River, and loved to gather flowers by its sloping banks, and listen to the wind play through the grasses, and gaze upon the open sky; but more than these, she loved to weave, and could spend many hours weaving together colourful threads on her loom.
She was deferential and shy, but drew the eye of a sturdy young man who wooed and wed her. She was young, and thought herself quite in love, but in this matter she had been led astray. Her husband, so kind at first, turned cruel, and would often beat her when he was angry. She blamed herself, and comforted herself at her loom, trying to weave away her sorrows.
They had been together for but a little time when she became pregnant, her belly growing round, and her husband, elated that his wife was to bear him a child, ceased his cruel treatment of her. Shenora was overjoyed, for at last, it seemed, she would find happiness.
However, this joy did not last. Angered and, rumour has it, taken by drink, her husband beat her severely. She cried and wept, but he did not stop, and he beat her till she lost the child. In tears and fear, overcome by tragedy and loss, she rushed from the house, but her cruel, enraged husband raced after her. She ran, ran as quickly as her legs would carry her, down to the river, and there knelt and prayed for the gods to save her.
That night, the gods were listening. They transformed her into a spider, and her husband could not find her when he came to where she had been. Now, she finds peace in weaving her webs, though the bruises of her former life still mar her tender little body as blue-black botches on her abdomen.
This story has produced a children’s rhyme - which conveniently hides much of the tragedy: