T'was not long before the small expedition towards the gateway leading to the human world had begun; as a way to study their possible victims and find the Researcher. The boy himself wore the clothes he'd arrived with, only three skeksis would be on this trek: At the head was SkekUng, followed SkekArra the sentry and the Barrister herself. It also meant they'd be traveling with the giant crab things – the Garthim as they're called. He was just glad SkekLiat (wearing the equivalent of an indigo niqab) was with him – several of the others weren't interested in venturing out of the castle unless absolutely necessary. Soon they'd separated into groups to cover more ground. He wondered how long before they reached their destination?

He got his answer when they reached a virtually small glade – but just a few yards ahead in a circular formation of branches and brambles was what looked like a window to the human world. It was the same town he'd seen in the Dark Crystal days ago!

This is it, they made it! Although the Barrister looked a little forlorn.


He looked up at the sound of his nickname. That sounded like…

Just then the Garthim started moving threatening towards something – and it was his sister!

"Mabel, watch out!"

Quickly, the alarmed Barrister strode forward and ordered them back.

It's already been hours since she'd last seen civilization. Sure the idea not being able to find her way home was bad enough but returning without her brother made her want to cry.

When all seemed lost she heard something. It was like clicking and clacking all at once, and it was getting louder by the minute. For a moment she'd froze, too stunned to react. Among them she saw something else that caught her eye: a tall figure in a long indigo wrap that lowered part of the cloth from its head. It looked like a large bird of prey with wavy coppery hair.

As one of the large black beetles moves away, she recognized the boy whose shoulder her hand was on as her brother!

Without thinking, she called out his nickname and sped towards him.

He'd started in surprise, then cried a warning just as the shelled things started moving menacingly in her direction.

She saw the bird creature in a purple robes stride forward and raise a taloned hand to the giant crabs, "Mala! Éla páfsi!"

Once they stopped, she ran to her stunned brother enveloping him in a tight hug. "I was afraid I'd never find you!"

"It is you!" He sobbed, hugging her back just as tightly, confirming that it's not a wishful dream.

They embraced in happy tears, the Barrister watched morosely. She knew now what had to be done.

"But what're they? And who's' that?" His sister pointed to the Garthim and to the Barrister.

"That's a long, long story…"

"You'll know soon enough…" The Barrister replied solemnly then kneeled down to whisper something that left them both astonished.

It was sunset, the mystery shack owner was closing the shack until the next morning. It was a profitable day but the news he'd received regarding his great niece and nephew left him sorrowful and a lot more gruff than usual. He couldn't really blame his great niece for taking off like she did. Heavens knows he'd have done the exact same thing for…

Well, he had to remain focused on the present for them and as much as it frustrates him, leave it up to the authorities.

He looked around briefly then sighed and walked in.

"Great Uncle Stan!"

"Grunkle Stan!"

The first time he heard the shouts, he thought he was just dreaming or hallucinating. However when he heard it three more times, he pushed open the door abruptly.

Hurrying towards them from the forest bushes were his great niece and nephew! They looked roughed up and tired, but relatively unharmed from what he can see.

Both children rushed up and threw themselves at him and vice versa. The older man was holding them protectively then released them so that they could get in and let their parents know they were safe.

When their Grunkle wasn't looking, the young twins glanced back at the forest where the female skeksis was half-hidden behind a tree. She raised a finger to her beak signaling silence on her presence, at least for the moment.

The brother nodded solemnly and his sister smiled and winked before they both waved goodbye, and entered the shack after their great uncle. For now they had so much to talk about.

Yes, the world is cruel and wicked… but only because of terrible people and things that make it so. And many don't wish for the children to know of the dangers, that's why we must proceed with caution. It only takes a second or just an ordinary day for our children to be exposed to them or have them taken away.

Try to imagine a mother's grief when they've stolen her child away. No words can describe that excruciating pain. The grief, the impotence, the emptiness that comes with the loss of a child, because there is no true heart of a mother prepared for such a loss.

Releasing them broke her heart, yet she knew that not matter just how badly she wanted to keep both children with her in the castle, it was impossible. The boy still needed to heal from his previous nightmarish experience, he was better off with his kinsfolk. Yet she also knew it wouldn't be long before the Garthim hordes would begin invading that little town once her clan finds the true location of the human that had escaped their grasp decades ago. She remembers full well what he looked like, and the old man wasn't him – but a blood relative no doubt there. That was why she made this difficult choice.

She discreetly warned the children of what was to come then only revealed to her clan the area where other humans could be found while deliberately keeping the opening leading to the Shack well hidden from the Garthim and the crystal bats. She could very well be facing banishment or death for this risk, but it won't matter. The Great conjunction wasn't that far, by then she'll be rejuvenated and can very well make a life for herself afterwards.

Then there was the fact of that villain who'd taken the boy was still out there. Mabel's photos were enough to convince the police into investigate the house with an arrest warrant; they found the hidden room and other evidence but no sign of the scoundrel. There would come a time when the child, his family and his friends would soon confront this monster face to face. But that was another story…