There came a time, however, when their own paths were crossed by the very things that causes more perplexity to almost every other creature: Females.
It had been on a clear spring day, the crystal had called them, revealing a lagoon. Except there was not one - - but four new and juvenile skeksis bathing in the waters. However it wasn't until one of the newcomers stood up straight in her undefiled figure, instantly and unknowingly dispelling any doubts on the claims one of their own had been ranting.
Imagine the original skeksis' astonishment when they'd first laid eyes on what looked to be four she-skeksis. SkekEkt had yelped, "What kind are skeksis are these?!"
SkekTek the Scientist stared in surprise, then narrowed his eyes analytically. "Strange, I've only seen such similar aspects on female gelflings and podlings."
"But where did they come from?"
That was just one of the questions they were all asking.
Lurking in the underbrush not too far from where the females bathed, was SkekMal. His movements were silent thanks to his years of hunting out in the wild compared to his brethren. True, these new individuals had many things in common with his fellow skeksis, but with a few key differences in their physique.
From his hidden vantage point, he found himself drawn to one of the females. Particularly the one with dark waves and blue-green eyes that would eventually become the Sentry. He was intrigued by her agrestal charm, the ferocious disposition.
The more he watched her, the more his own base instincts began to stir, his mouth began to water, and his mind began to consider another viable form of hunting.
Then the new arrivals were summoned and they responded by setting off towards the Castle of the crystal, the sudden appearance of what appeared to be four new female skeksis had taken the gelfling and podling races by utter surprise.
Not long afterwards, the females accepted to being integrated into the skeksis court, just not for the reasons the four rogues had expected.
First, they needed new robes befitting for life in the castle, then came their education before the rogues would gain an occupation best suited to their strengths and abilities which had taken nearly six months.
The lead rogue, SkekLiat, had first intrigued him during a debate one day in the throne room. The Collector had interrupted the Barrister with a cold rebuttal. The iris clad female cleared her throat, and replied, "Thank you for attempting to place words in my mouth slowly and loudly. I did not notice that I had to go at a slower pace for the ones in the back to keep up."
For a moment there was silence, then the Emperor actually laughed and clapped in amusement. Before long the other skeksis standing near him had also started sniggering at the Collector's expense.
However, it would nearly an entire trine before any of the four rogues would voluntarily join the original clan for their private somatic debauchery. As presumed, they'd been demure then the herald, SkekRin, confessed the four were still physically chaste. The response had frankly caught them all off guard (to the point where some even ceased their activity to actually stare at the females completely mystified) before several of the more eager ones said simultaneously, "We can remedy that for you."
Except, so that the rogues wouldn't be frightened away, the four were allowed to choose their partners for the evening…so they did.
Now it was many trine later, there were other pressing matters on his mind. However even the basest of instincts had to be quelled at some point. One could only repress it for so long. After the Ceremony of the Sun, he waited for all the other skeksis to leave before following after the Barrister. There he smoothly explained his intentions for a one-night affair together, just one evening.
The Barrister had been stunned for a moment, then hastily agreed to his terms. "Done! You need only say the word and when."
And so, he led her to his bedchambers, where they would have privacy for a few hours. Naturally, she was nervous at first, to the point of refusing to touch him without his consent, it was irksome, but he secretly appreciated that she took the time to be considerate of what he desired. There had been no room in his mind for anything other than the overwhelming sense of need for the female with him. She'd gently pleasured him in a manner none of his previous partners had…oh Thra, it took his breath away.
She'd accepted every aspect of his licentious urges when he then took her as he undoubtedly had with female gelfling and the other skeksis. When they'd finished it was close to the evening feast, he'd instructed her on leaving after him for a few paces so that the others wouldn't suspect anything. He reached the table just after three of the other courtiers before the Barrister emerged. She'd limped a little from their tryst but made no mention of it.
Fourteen weeks had gone by and in that time three of the four rogues were each acting strangely. The Scout was much more pernicious than usual, the Sentry had become solemn and the Barrister seemed to have fallen ill.
Then one day, there was a scream then one of the gelfling guards had gone to fetch the Scientist. When he and several of the others arrived, they found the Barrister had fainted in one of the hallways with her fellow rogues frantically trying to revive her and the Ornamentalist shrieking hysterically.
SkekTek kneeled over to check if she was still breathing, he confirmed it. However, she needed medical attention that meant transporting the Barrister to the Chamber of life. The General volunteered and carried her following SkekTek's instructions.
They all waited anxiously for news. Suppose the Barrister caught some sort of disease that was taking its toll and now they were all at risk of being infected?
Nearly an hour later, the Scientist emerged from the chamber looking grim and part of his robes were covered in blood. "Subject has suffered Privatus femoral exsanguination. Irregular pains not associated with monthly changes. And finally… a spontaneous abortion."
When none of the others seemed to understand what the last part meant, he dropped the proverbial bombshell: "The Barrister had been with child. However, due to some unforeseen physical ailment, she has miscarried the unborn infant."
Of course, the news caused quite a stir among the other skeksis. The Barrister had been carrying? And more importantly: Who was the father?
He listened to the Scientist's explanation stoically and decided that none of them were to know the truth, lest they get dangerous ideas. Furthermore, he knew the Barrister would never dare reveal him nor would anyone believe her. And so she was punished by not attending the feasts for three days.
Not that it mattered, for the bedridden female was despondent. Only her fellow rogues and gelfling servant visited her with news, until she rose on her own and apparently was more resolute and pragmatic.
Several years have passed, and the winds of change was already sweeping across Thra. Already it was affecting the skeksis, albeit subtly.
One day, SkekGra the Conqueror came to the court one day, claiming Thra had given him a vision. He attempted to persuade the other skeksis into rejoining their other halves, the UrRu or mystics as many of the locals had called them. His words inadvertently had the four rogues exchange stunned glances with other.
It had been centuries but they still remembered the strange yet vaguely familiar female creatures they'd seen on the very same day… they'd been born. None of them knew what to make of the she-mystics nor what they represented. However it didn't explain what SkekGra meant by rejoining them, did that mean they were once something singular?
None of the females were able to get much answers out of him, for the other skeksis had been horrified and outraged by his claims. So they attacked him, tearing into his robes and cleaving a nail into his head. Miraculously, SkekGra survived his injuries but was banished from the Castle forever as a result.
There was still so many things the four rogues could not grasp, so many dreams and memories that kept haunting them. So many questions that needed to be answered. What were they once? And what did it mean?
Unbeknownst to them, it was a sign of things to come.
To be continued…