Another world. Another time. In the age of resistance. A thousand Trine ago the land of Thra was green and good, flourishing. Until at the Second Great Conjunction, where the Crystal of Truth cracked, and the one became two. The benevolent UrSkeks, all-knowing alien creatures, were morphed by the power of the crystal and the alignment of the three suns. A great division split the UrSkeks, and strife began.
In the wake of the great light, where once floated UrSkek – now two new species crawled and staggered. Eighteen of each, freshly born. They arrived full of youth, life, and seemingly without memory. They were known as the gentle UrRu, Mystics, peaceful land-dwellers who were born from the noble, peaceful side of the UrSkeks.
The other beings were the darker, pragmatic and violent side of the alien beings. The Skeksis were born materialistic, greedy and power-hungry. Though once graceful and elegant in body, their minds were corrupted by the promise of the Crystal's Power.
On that day, the harmony of the world had shattered. The Skeksis woke from the shock of the division, and they woke full of hate and anger. Despite the efforts of Thra's first creature, Aughra, the Skeksis squabbled and stormed to the Crystal of Truth. Staggering with the weight of their thin and new bodies, they grasped each other to stand. Yet they despised one another. There was a loud argument – Aughra intervened – and one blow struck the Crystal. A shard broke off and flew away, out onto the mountain-side, and light left the Crystal forever.
For a span of a single second; there was no sound heard, no breath uttered. Save for the painful screeching of the crystal. As if it were a living, wounded thing.
While the Skeksis held the Castle, a rotting and monolithic citadel which held the Crystal, the UrRu retreated to the hills, past the Crystal desert and wastelands.
Soon the Skeksis divided, a core group would remain at the Castle, while others set out to conquer Thra, from the seas to the mountains. The UrRu sought safety in the Valley of the Stones, taking the name 'Mystics' many members of the UrRu left on quests to seek out and reclaim Thra from the grasp of the Skeksis.
Aughra, Thra's first creation, journeyed across the land with her only offspring, named Raunip. They restored peace to the broken and confused races of the land, like the Gruenak and the Makraks. Raunip soon disappeared into legend, forged from a lone meteorite, he took his place in the stars once again.
Aughra mourned her child and promised to hear the Song of Thra once more. She wandered Thra, helping the creatures and beings that made their home there, but closest to her heart were the Gelfling.
Seven Clans were formed. Segregating into groups, they were each headed by a Maudra, above them all was the Queen Gelfling, the All-Maudra. The All-Maudra would lead the Gelfling in negotiation with the Castle of the Crystal, the now-turned capital of Thra. The Skeksis had become Lords and Regents, ruled by their valiant and honourable Emperor.
In every region of the planet, the Gelfling would thrive. From the intelligent and wise Vapra, who lived in the mountain-city of Ha'rar – to the Stonewood, warriors and soldiers that fought the wars and kept the Lords safe. The cave-dwelling Grottan and the sea-faring Sifa were often looked down upon by the other clans. Spriton, Drenchen and Dousan also spread far, into every corner of Thra.
As the UrRu sought to meditate and spread peace, the Skeksis had taken a different path. Trine later, the Skeksis (now withered, haggard and vile) took control from the Castle of the Crystal and used their solitude to conduct secret experiments on the sacred Crystal. Creating the Darkening, a sickening blight that spread like wildfire.
The Skeksis were desperate in their hunt for everlasting life. They would bewitch and trick Aughra with stories of the universe, using the constructed observatory to send her on a galactic journey. With her eye turned to the stars, she sought to discover the mysteries of the cosmos. Leaving the Crystal in the hands of the Skeksis, the monstrous creatures now ruled unchallenged.
Until a lone hero, a Stonewood Gelfling who rose from the ranks of his peers to expose the Lords for their true selves. Assisted by the daughters of the All-Maudra, Drenchen Siblings and the unlikely pairing of a Grottan and Podling, they fought back against the control.
The battles were hard, and they lost many, but shattering the age of division, they brought about resistance. But at a cost, many relics were destroyed, many kingdoms lost. The cruel Skeksis gaining the secret to eternal life - the essence of the Gelfling. But now, with the help of an awakened and revitalised Aughra, they seek to banish Skeksis power.
DAYBREAK. THE CASTLE OF THE CRYSTAL.
After the second battle at Stone-In-The-Wood, the surviving Skeksis returned to the castle. Beaten and bested by an alliance of all Gelfling clans, their rule was soon at its end. It had been a day since SkekTek unveiled his latest invention. Formed from the body of two dead Gruenak and an Arathim corpse, the Garthim stood vigil over the sacred Chamber. As another day dawns, the Skeksis gather. They steal life from the Crystal they once swore to protect. At the baclcony above the chamber was SkekTek's living weapon; the Garthim. A towering beast, with shadow-black armour and pulsing blue-purple eyes, it had two large mandibles and claws at the front of its muscled arms, and many hydraulic legs that moved at surprising speed. A large shell protected it's back, with spines and ridges down the sides and bottom of its impenetrable armour.
Below, the Skeksis who resided in the Castle awaited the Ceremony of the Sun. The Crystal hung above a shaft of air and fire – leading directly to the planet's fiery core. With their hard and twisted bodies, they hobbled in long robes and flowing decorative pieces. Each holding a quarter-staff, with a unique symbol upon each.
Their hard and twisted wills hadn't been shaken, considering every loss a secret victory; their curse was a blessing in disguise. Today, they assemble at the Crystal as the first sun climbs to it's peak. For this is the way of the Skeksis, as they would ravage the land, so do they draw new life from the sun – if only for a day. Today they replenish themselves, cheat death again. Through the power of their source, their treasure, their prize, their prisoner. The Dark Crystal.
The ceiling rumbled as three triangular doors opened above them, showing a sun that slowly rolled into view, the three Brothers. The first was smaller and drifted to its position as daybreak came. Stepping forward, the lean and smirking beak of The Chamberlain pointed to his master, the Emperor himself.
SkekSo was a grand creature, dressed in ornate silver and flowing purple. With grey ribbons and fabric falling from his body, his collar was decorated with sharp silver spines, as his crest bore a long arch-like attachment. His fingers clawed, his nose had an impressive piece of silver armour upon it, his beak twitched, his teeth sharp and pointed coming out from every direction in his mouth.
SkekSo was silent, yet with a clang of his staff on the floor of the chamber, the rest of the Skeksis raised their heads as the third sun floated above them, moving into its climax. The High Priest of the ceremony growled deeply, raising his thin and bony hands above himself. Clad in gold and crimson, SkekZok the Ritual-Master blinked as his bright blue eyes adjusted to the light, seeing the shine of the sun as it reached its position for the ceremony. Reflecting from the light of the suns, the Crystal would shoot out a reflective purple beam, which cast into the faces of the Skeksis.
SkekZok heralded the ceremony, looking upwards as the sunlight refracted, he could hear the rumbling sounds of the Garthim, and Chamberlain's high-pitched noise.
But today the ritual brought no comfort. They had already lost three of their own; all to the rebellious Gelfling. The Collector, Hunter and General had been slain by the so-called tiny and pathetic creatures. But the Gelfling had a stronger resolve than they knew. It was the Stonewood Gelfling, Rian, that manged to align all the Clans.
Each Skeksis observed as the three suns cast down beams of light, shining off the Crystal like a mirror. Shooting down, the large and holy stone used the sunlight to grant the Skeksis one more day of life. Enchanting purple streams shot from the Crystal, into each of the creature's faces.
Their eyes lit up, their mouths opened, and the hypnotic haze burned into their brains. The ceremony was near completion, as each Skeksis saw new power from the regeneration. Above them, the Garthim crossed its claw-like arms, mandibles snapping and armour shifting.
After the suns began to separate, the thoughts of the Skeksis turned to different - more pressing matters. Fading from their eyes, the beams soon ceased. But it wasn't everlasting life that concerned the Skeksis, it was the opposite. The Gelfing had seen their weakness; death. If a Skeksis could be killed, then they weren't so invincible after all.
Chattering to one another once the three suns slowly moved on, it was the sovereign ruler himself that silenced the bickering "Skeksis brethren, hear me!" SkekSo the Emperor addressed. His voice was loud and deep, with an aristocratic edge.
"The Gelfling grow even more unruly, their treachery must be punished. An alliance of the seven clans could spell doom for us – but with SkekTek's new living weapon, our victory is on the horizon" He said with a raised beak, causing the others around him to cheer and shout their approval.
The Garthim had impressed them all, but it was time to put it to the test. "With an army of Garthim, we can secure our immortality with the utter destruction – and draining – of the Gelfling population!" The Emperor boomed.
A slow humming sound came from SkekOk the Scroll-Keeper, a whining drawl coming from his elongated and toothy mouth "But…the loss of SkekVar, we have no General to lead our army" He worried, his many spectacles dusty and cracked from battle. From the Emperor's side, Chamberlain nodded briefly.
"Do not despair, my Lords. After much deliberation, we have reached out to a Skeksis long unseen…one who is just as loyal as he is a strong warrior" SkekSo proclaimed. The others around him had questionable glances, wondering who this new addition could be - The Ritual-Master's scaly eyebrows furrowed.
Swaying from one side to the other, SkekSo commanded his kin to meet him again in the Throne Room for the arrival of the new candidate for General.
On their way to the Throne Room, SkekTek The Scientist couldn't help but voice his opinion. "I created the Garthim – I should be the one who commands them! SkekVar couldn't command a Nebrie out of a swamp-hole!" He coughed, his telescopic eye focussing to adjust to the loss of light. The dark hallways of the Castle were lit by dull orange torchlight. Walking beside him, The Chamberlain's head poked forwards as his lips curled "Scientist is smart, yes? Why would Emperor risk Scientist on the battlefield? Battlefield is nasty, bloody place. No place for Scientist, hmmm?" SkekSil said, followed by an extended, sympathetic whimper.
"I suppose…but a General would never understand a weapon the way that its creator does" SkekTek responded roughly.
The Emperor's Throne Room was lined in gold and finery, with rich red velvet curtains hung up on the back walls. Just above the tall entranceway was an observation room and a musician's pit, where a group of shaking Pod-people could be seen. The Podling race was a slave-class and kept as an orchestra and labour force by the Skeksis. Now that the Castle Guard had been disbanded (and most of the former Gelfling Guard drained for Essence) The Podlings in the castle had been kept as servants, cooks and hostages. The semi-curricular Throne Room was focussed around the throne itself, which was a wide and shapely piece of golden architecture.
Sat among the thorn-like arms of the throne, SkekSo uttered a long breath. "Calamity has befallen, the Gelfling unite against us. Soon they will turn their eyes to the throne. To Thra itself…we must not allow that to happen" The Emperor expressed.
The group had arrived around him, from the portly Gourmand to the thin and lithe Ornamentalist. "SkekVar's death was a necessary loss…it has been many a Trine since we welcomed new Skeksis blood to the castle" SkekSo said to an agreeing bout of squawking.
"Summoned at my behest from the Drenchen land of the Great Sog, where the Swamps can swallow a fully-grown Nurloc. I'm pleased to welcome our newest brother…and new General – SkekUng!" The Emperor announced.
Stepping out from the darkness of the doorway, a towering silhouette stood well above the other Skeksis. With wispy white and grey hair on the top of his head, his beak was pale and dull, but he had impressive stature. His robes were grey and black, with large pieces of armour that formed a shell-like covering over his shoulders and arms – the bulkier pieces rattled as he moved. Harsh fabrics adorned his chest and he had long, white-tipped grey claws. Feathers poked out from behind the armour on his back, and he had bright orange eyes and yellow teeth.
Grimacing, SkekUng approached the collective and immediately knelt before the throne. His head was wide, with a necklace of stained bones and animal teeth dangling around his neck.
"I live to serve you, my Lord Emperor. I am yours to command" SkekUng began. His voice was a gravelly, thick tone, littered with utter malice. Kneeling before the Emperor, the rest of the Skeksis leant forwards, their eyes cunning and small. The Chamberlain held his hands together in a polite manner, his teeth showing slightly from his ever-present smirk. "Welcome. You have proven yourself a powerful combatant, SkekUng. I hereby promote you to General and…Garthim-Master" SkekSo told him, to the guffaw of The Scientist.
Puzzled, SkekUng's head looked back up at his superior "You honour me, master. But what is a Garthim?" He asked. Merely raising a finger, SkekSo ordered The Scientist to step forward, and so he did. Standing before the gathering, the bionic eye of SkekTek twitched and whirred as he gave a short presentation.
He had recently made modifications to such an eye – adding wires and cords to connect the eye to his brain. Dressed in a dull white and sickly green, with hues of orange and red, The Scientist's curved teeth chattered. Though he was the physically weakest of his kind, his wicked intellect made him a formidable opponent, and his sick experiments made him an abomination in the eyes of the Gelfling.
"Made in my laboratory, by my own hand, the Garthim is the newest instrument to quell the recent Gelfling resistance. Completely obedient to any Skeksis – they are the perfect fighting force, quite an ingenious combination – if I do say so myself, and I do-" SkekTek was soon cut off by The Emperor's snapping jaws and stern, unfeeling eyes.
The Scientist hadn't forgotten his punishment, or the fact that he was often looked down on. "Eh…apologies. With their large size and powerful weapons, they will be the utter defeat of our enemy – I can promise you that!" SkekTek finished with a small bow of his head. Looking approvingly, SkekUng rose to his feet.
SkekSo waved the Sceptre of Office, dismissing the Scientist. "If it would please the Emperor, I would like to have a look at these Garthim" The new General requested. Grinding his teeth together, The Ritual-Master eyed the newest arrival, standing by the Scroll-Keeper and The Gourmand. Blinking and tilting his head, SkekSo glanced at his subordinates. "I believe that can be arranged" He confirmed.
STONE-IN-THE-WOOD. FIFTEEN TRINES BEFORE THE AGE OF RESISTANCE.
Adjusting his footwork, the young Gelfling held his curved blade upright standing in the dirty courtyard of his hometown. An ancient Gelfling village, the settlement was constructed in the middle of the Dark Wood.
The second largest village in Thra, it was named for the mounds of boulder and stone that had been used to construct homes and cottages. Though most homes had been built within the trees on the forest floor, the best builders would make their living carving out warm and safe houses in the rocks.
At the centre of the courtyard was The Crucible. The Stonewood forge that held all the weapons of the clan. The cylindrical tower-like forge was used to place weapons in after a conflict was over – with hope that they should never be used again. It was also done to disregard aggression after the conflict was over, so that the Stonewood could help tend to the wounded.
The largest building was the fortress of the Maudra, who for the last few Trine had been a brave and attentive Gelfling woman called Fara.
The young Gelfling however was a boy, with thick brown-black hair that was streaked with a blueish-green. Wearing a simple tunic underneath a set of worn armour plating, his boots had been laced tighter than ever for today. The last day of his training as a Castle guard.
Rian had admired the guardsmen ever since he knew about what his father did. The Castle of the Crystal was the imperial capital of Thra, ruled over by the wise Skeksis. The castle guard were the protectors of the Skeksis, and they were the protectors of the Crystal. The crystal had given life to Thra, so it was a massive responsibility.
Standing in the courtyard, Rian took a small breath. He calmed himself as his father emerged from the Maudra's fortress at the end of the yard, and up from the stairs. Wearing the guard's uniform of silver metal and black cloth, his scarab and sheath was bejewelled with the symbol of the Crystal. A veteran of the Arathim Wars, Ordon's prowess in battle and skill with a sword earned him such monikers as 'The Spitter Slayer' and 'Hero of Stone-In-The-Wood' he was the Gelfling that held the line against an army of giant Arathim, protecting his family and clan. Later in life, seeking a more peaceful duty, Ordon took the offer of becoming Captain of the Castle Guard.
During such long conflicts against the spider-like Arathim, Ordon was known as the clan's best warrior – and for a clan famous in combat, that was quite a feat – his reputation was noticed by the Skeksis General, who gave him the position of Captain in the capital palace. The Stonewood's former Maudra, Vala, was impressed herself, and had sent Ordon on many secret missions. None of which his son had ever heard about.
In the courtyard, Ordon brandished his own sword. He had raised his child like a soldier, so these constant drills of fighting were normal, daily practice. But Rain had been assured that this was his last day of the exercise.
Holding the sword in his right hand, Ordon huffed "I remember you had a perfect swing…for killing a Crawlie" He criticised with a half-smile, inspecting Rian's own sword. He didn't understand why his father was so tough on him, he had other siblings. Both younger than him, his little sister Mythra and brother Timtri had been raised like any other Gelfling, yet here he was standing with a blade in the yard.
Pacing around him, Ordon watched the stance of his eldest child "Oh, Rian the mighty crawlie-killer, come on – come on, let's begin" Ordon instructed.
So, they began, it was just transitioning into the evening time, so with any luck they'd make it to the Castle by the morning. After this last training session that is. The suns were about to set on Thra, as a wind blew through the trees. Ordon and Rian paced around each other, weapons gleaming in the fading sun. They would walk around each other, adjusting stances and moving their hands, transferring the weapon. Both held the standard Stonewood sword, a short and curved sword that was made with a wooden handle and a steel silver blade.
Slashing first, Rian struck down from overhead, and his father blocked, turning slightly to duck under a second strike that was aimed longways. Spinning his blade, Ordon was quick to retort, clashing with his son. "Parry, Rian. Don't forget to block" He told him wisely, hearing the wind rustle through the trees as he stepped back and broke the clash with a grunt.
The blades caught against each other again "Perhaps you should not forget to hit" Rian replied with a small smile, a few more strikes and Rian lost his footing, a clumsy strike and Ordon used the momentum to knock his son to the floor.
Falling to the ground, Rian yelled as he hit the fallen sticks and foliage below with a crash and a thud. "Then you'll have to hit harder if you want to best me" Ordon asserted. Standing over him, his father had a worn and creased face, with decent muscle and obvious strength. A scar going from his chin to his cheek, just below his right eye.
But a quick and surprising kick from Rian sent him stumbling back, fast enough to barely block a swipe from the young Gelfling's sword, allowing Rian to climb to his feet. "Hard enough?" Rian quipped.
"Stay alert, your enemy will not always be as he appears" His father advised. Swinging again, Rian took the offensive path, coming down on his father with aggressive moves. Ordon was calculating, dodging and moving out of harm's way. Even though the blades were dulled somewhat, a good strike that connected to skin could easily draw blood. Another clang of metal and Rian was on the back-foot, sparks flying, Ordon's sword slashed past his shoulder.
Colliding again, Ordon drew back his blade – about to cut from the side, Rian grabbed the blade's handle and pressed the side of his own sword to Ordon's chest – thinking the fight had been won.
But the young Gelfling had much to learn as his father knocked back the sword, driving it from Rian's grasp, a swift swipe and his son was on the ground again. "Remember what I said? Not always as he appears" Rian's Father helped him to his feet again now that the training was over.
"But you cheated, I had you right-" Rian was cut off by his father's remark "An Arathim Silkspitter won't play fair. If you're going to protect the Lords of the Crystal, you'll need a sharp sword, and an even sharper mind" Ordon pointed to his son's forehead, then patted him on the shoulder.
By now the yard had filled with farmers and Ordon's men, fellow Guards of the Castle. Wearing the fierce armour and helmets, they strode in formation, escorting a group of Gelfling on Landstriders.
The farmers were collecting Peachberries, plucking them from the nearby trees and placing them in their wicker baskets. The Castle guards were watched by the Stonewood Gelfling with open eyes. A Landstrider cavalryman rode up to Ordon's side – the Captain unmoved by the great beast.
Landstriders had four tremendous stilt-like legs, each leg being roughly four times the length of their own bodies, ending in a single, hoof-like toe each. Despite their thin, delicate appearance, their limbs were surprisingly sturdy – Rian knew. With the lower portion of each limb being protected by what appears to be a bony sheath. The forelimbs were armed with tooth-like keratinous spurs running down the back side of their legs, which were used for self-defence.
They also possessed long, thin and quill-like bristles on various parts of their bodies. A set of these bristles also hangs over their upper lip, looking like a form of facial hair. Their shoulders were adorned by a pair of long ear-like flanges of bone and cartilage, which appear to be extensions of the scapula.
These were used as reigns, for a Gelfling rider to grab onto and use to steer the Landstrider. Inside their mouths they had a long, retractable stinger that curves upward slightly towards the tip, like a tongue with a hidden kick for attackers.
The hairy white animals were swiftly mounted by the Gelfling in front of Rian's eyes, the nearest rider getting closer to an unshaken Ordon. "Captain, there is word from the Capital. We've been sent by the Lords to secure your return to the Castle at once"
Raising an eyebrow, the Gelfling rider cast a look to Rian as the Captain nodded, sheathing his sword. "Then I will obey - prepare my Landstrider" Ordon commanded the soldier. The guardsman went to work readying the Captain's personal steed.
Turning around to his son, his face because tough and stoic "It is time to go" He said simply with a deep tone. "Now? Am – Am I coming father?" He asked while stepping closer. But Ordon was swift to correct him "It's Captain. Despite your training, you're not a soldier yet. We'll have to bring you up to speed when you arrive" Ordon told his son.
So, it was a yes? Rian was to be brought to the Castle of the Crystal? He had only ever heard about the capital from the stories that his Father would tell once a week. Ordon's men brought his own Landstrider for him just as Rian turned and ran back to his home to collect his things. "This is your chance, Rian, don't let me down!" Ordon shouted supportively once Rian raced into the house to gather his belongings.
THE DARK WOOD. A DAY AFTER THE SECOND BATTLE AT STONE-IN-THE-WOOD.
The Spriton Gelfling had erected a camp of tents around the Dark Wood, making a perimeter with a team of dedicated scouts. At a time, the Spriton clan had feuded with the Stonewood over the possession of the woods, but now, there was no time for division.
The second battle of Stone-In-The-Wood had changed that. All Gelfling had united against their common enemy. There was hope for their victory, as the Skeksis dwindled, the Gelfling were many. Maudra Mera of the Spriton Clan had established a wide perimeter around Stone-In-The-Wood, helping to secure the settlement as the base of operations for the resistance. The Vapra, Spriton, Stonewood and Dousan had decided to remain in the Dark Woods, while the Sifan, Drenchen and Grottan returned to their homes to prepare for incoming assaults.
Meanwhile, the Arathim Ascendancy (which Rian had keenly brought to their side) had mostly remained as reinforcements. Some of the Silkspitters had gone down to the Caves of Grot again to help the Gelflings be rid of the Darkened plants and animals.
Residing in the fort of the late Maudra Fara, Brea had been mulling over the Shard she found from the broken Dual-Glaive. Sitting on the floor on the opposite side of the room, Kylan was across from her, fixing his bow and arrow which had been damaged in battle.
Brea was the epitome of Vapran beauty. With soft and long blonde hair, fair skin and ember-yellow brown eyes, she had slight shades of pink in her hair – as most Gelfling would have this slight discolouration. Holding the Shard of the Crystal, Brea remembered what The Wanderer and The Heretic had told her. How the Crystal had once been whole, and a crack had produced a single shard, lost to the winds of time. But that was long ago – 'another world, another time' – that's what her mother used to say.
Her mother, the All-Maudra. Seladon had told her a lot about what she did since they defeated the Skeksis. How she visited the Castle of the Crystal and heard them plotting, and how they admitted everything to her. Her sister had become so very woebegone lately. She was full of sadness and dread, as if everything she ever believed from birth was a lie. Looking into the Shard, her eyes became transfixed on the brightness of the white shard. It was clear; but she had seen from her time in the dream-space that the Crystal was really a purple shade. Brea had only faint memories from the dream-space, she heard Aughra's voice in her head, and saw the faces of her friends.
Mother Aughra was a mystical being to many, she had been gone for a lifetime, leaving only legends. Now Aughra was real, summoning them to the dream-space and sacrificing herself for Thra. Brea saw the events at the battle herself, she had broken out of The Hunter's body in a cloud of smoke and sparks, claiming to be reborn (but just as old) she had returned to the living plain, able to use her knowledge to guide the Gelfling to victory.
Though she was always cautious, speaking of the 'many endings' that were probable. Not even probable – Aughra called then possible, even likely.
A being of magical abilities, Aughra was the first creation of the Age of Innocence, when Thra was in true harmony. She named all the other animals and creature of Thra, but always had a maternal fondness for the young Gelfling race – so they named her 'Mother Aughra' and the nickname would stick. She knew the UrSkeks and had witnessed the division of the two races. Brea struggled to think of all this, she thought that it was too complicated, ever for her studious mind.
Her mother, the All-Maudra, may have had knowledge of these things. Though she initially didn't believe the story about Lore. Brea thought about Lore, she thought about her guardian a lot. His silent and calm personality, how he would look down on her and keep her safe.
The rock-built monster was her friend, and she wished that she could have had him in the most recent battle. At the Circle of the Suns, Brea saw The Heretic remove the stone in his mouth – and she had to watch as her friend crumbled back into rocks and dust.
Kylan, meanwhile, was working tirelessly at his bow and arrow. The half-Spriton, half-Stonewood Gelfling was orphaned as a child when his parents were assassinated, murdered by The Hunter. Many of his peers dismissed the attack as a large predator, but Kylan knew the truth. Blades had killed his parents, not talons or fangs. Seeing the Skeksis again at Stone-In-The-Wood had brought back bad memories for him, things he wished that he'd forgotten.
Raised in Sami Thicket, the Spriton capital, Kylan was trained in song-telling, archery and geography. Dressed in a soft red tunic over cloths of grey and brown, Kylan's hair was a Stonewood black and his skin was a tanned shade, with dark eyes.
Holding his firca – a long musical instrument of the Gelfling – he inspected it briefly as he tied up the ends of his long-bow. He had crafted the instrument from the ribcage of a Bell-Bird, a predatory animal that had a loud cry. When played, the Firca could cause items or beings connected to the Crystal of Truth to glow or resonate. Dusting off the instrument, Kylan wet his lips as he held his hands over the bone-white pipe. About to begin playing, he noticed Brea still pondering over the Shard in her hands.
Now beginning to play, the firca's songs were gentle and soothing, as Brea looked up to the Gelfling across from her. She was instantly reminded of the sounds from the All-Maudra's throne room, and the tune Kylan played after her death. When they decided to celebrate her life that night before entering the wastelands of the Crystal Desert.
Suddenly, she saw the glimpse of a light in front of her. Purple light, shining from inside the core of the Shard. Kylan almost stopped, until Brea held out her hand with wonderous urgency "No! No, carry on" She requested of him – and so Kylan did. Their eyes wide, the Gelfling had never seen anything like this before.
The shard began to glow with an even brighter light, covering the corners of the room in shadow. The song from the firca brought the whole room in a purple glow, as if it had been painted in that glowing moss that Deet once spoke about. Pleasantly, Brea raised the shard up, so that the glittering fragment could shower the whole room in its glow.
But out of nowhere, the doors to the fort flung open, sending bright daylight into the room and split the shard's glow in two. Kylan's lips parted from the firca, and the fragment ceased to bring such magical light. Brea had one guess who it would be; she was right.
Seladon came walking into the room, her boots laced high and her cuts healing, she was wearing a dark blue lace ensemble as she eyed the two in front of her. With a pink shade in her hair and a silver metal pin holding her long locks back, her face was regimented with as little emotion as possible.
Behind Seladon was a taller figure, grey and hairy, with tough skin and curly dark locks. Aughra needed no introduction as she walked with the support of her dull wooden cane. "Princess! I see you've been holding into the shard" Aughra observed, while Seladon went to Brea's side.
They had both lost a mother and their sister, but the ruling Vapran family would survive in them for now. Brea nodded "Yes, it's wonderful. I used to read a lot, but I've never seen anything like what this shard can do, it came alive with Kylan's music" She stated.
Aughra made a noise of concentration, tapping her cane on the floor as she walked on stumpy feet. "That is how you know. Many shards, many shards…it was hard to find the right one" Aughra noted cryptically. Brea and Seladon raised their eyebrows, while Kylan got to his feet. "Many shards, what do you mean?" Kylan wondered. Aughra tutted, her eye shifting from one Gelfling to the other.
Her hairs ruffled in the winds as she leaned over to Kylan "Shut that door" She asked humbly. Doing as she said, the Spriton went over to the tall wooden and stone-carved doors and closed them with a loud, echoing noise.
"Take a seat, young Gelfling, and allow Aughra to tell you the tale" The old woman addressed. Kylan walked back over to them, looking at the shard as Brea showed Seladon. They each sat on the floor, Aughra made a great noise of effort, squatting in front of them. Crooked and hardy, the crone placed her cane on the ground.
Dressed in a thin red material, the gown Aughra wore was just as ragged as she was – clearly the rebirth had brought her no extra life. "There was once a time, in the long-forgotten age of innocence, when a rock struck Thra, a living comet. I sensed life in the stones and brought a body to the soul" Aughra began. Struck by wonder, Brea inched closer as if she could gain more information that way.
"Born in grass and roots, I melded the being into my own image. This was the event that began my fascination with what lies beyond our skies. I named this new being as my child and called him Raunip. But I kept his birth a secret, never the telling the young being where he was truly from" Aughra revealed, just as Brea thought to herself and couldn't stop her next few words "Is that when the UrSkeks came?" She divulged to a puzzled Seladon and a nodding Aughra.
The old woman chortled a laugh "You know much, young one!" She chuckled. Brea had heard the story of the second Great Conjunction, and the splitting of the Urskeks into the two races.
"And you are correct. Raunip distrusted the UrSkeks, believing them to be power-hungry meddlers who would usurp Thra and the Crystal of Truth. He stoked the fire in the UrSkeks hearts, so when the Conjunction came, they found only division within the Crystal's power" Aughra continued.
Waving a strand of hair away from her face, Seladon remembered the location of Raunip's Pass, a rocky mountain range of Ha'rar. Aughra coughed briefly before carrying on "Once the UrSkeks were split, the ensuing carnage killed two Mystics and Skeksis, and cracked the Crystal. The shard was lost. We went looking, but we found no trace of it. Trine later, we discovered lost fragments - not enough to be the Shard, though" Aughra considered.
"But the Skeksis have no knowledge of the Shard, they crave domination instead. Perhaps the Mystics would know more of these affairs…I still have some friends in the Valley of the Stones after the passing of UrVa" She said offhandedly. From Kylan's understanding of geography, he knew that the valley was south of the Dark Wood.
Brea hummed "You're going to visit the Mystics?" She inquired. Beside her, Seladon wondered if her sister would go on the journey too. It would take more than a week at least.
Aughra shook her head – mumbling as she got back up onto her feet, requiring a great deal of effort. "The Gelfling must strike back against Skeksis control, my part in the song is much different. I shall visit the UrRu and walk the land of Thra, hoping to find something that will tip the balance, splitting the darkness" Aughra declared, starting to limp away. Hopping to her feet, Brea chased after the old crone "But the Shard! What do I do with it?" She said hurriedly.
"The Crystal cracked during the Conjunction, they'll be another one coming up. The Shard calls out to the Crystal – that's what the light-show was! – the Shard wishes to return home!" Aughra concluded. Seladon stood next, walking closer to her sister.
A curious expression on her face, her lips parted for a moment "What is the Conjunction?" Seladon voiced. Taking her time, Aughra scoffed a breath.
Walking back to the doors, she poked the left door open and stepped outside, her silhouette surrounded by the daylight, and the sunset on the horizon. Covering her in orange and yellow, Aughra's head cocked to the side "It's the end of the world. Or the beginning. New life, or life everlasting. End or begin – all the same, really. Big change, sometimes good, huh…sometimes bad. There is much to be learned, and you have little time" Aughra advised them before she exited, closing the door with a slam.
Now the Gelfling were left in silence, until Seladon mentioned why she had come to meet with Brea in the first place. "Brea, you asked about the Stonewood, remember?" She said with some sudden alertness. 'His name is Rian' Brea thought.
They had lost him since the defeat of the Skeksis using the Darkening. Now the Vapran Princess wanted to find him again. "What do you know, sister?" Brea asked her simply. Glancing back up, Seladon shook her head.
"No sign of him, the last thing the scouts saw was Rian heading into the Dark Woods, it looked like he was after the Grottan" She affirmed. Deet. During the battle, Deet had used the power of the Darkening to reflect it back at the Skeksis – even killing one. That allowed the Gelfling to unite in battle and scare the enemy into a retreat.
Since then, both Deet and Rian had disappeared. Brea was elected to help find them, as Rian was now called the 'Hero of the Gelfling' so Seladon had sent out scouting parties to find them, but there was no luck so far.
Brea was out to change that. Having a determined look in her eye, she turned to Kylan, who had been standing across from them near the doors. "Kylan - tell the cavalrymen to ready a LandStrider. I'm going after Deet and Rian" She decided.
Kylan agreed and began to open the doors, offering to go alongside the princess as he was a friend of Rian. Following with quick paces, Seladon yelled after them "Your LandStriders will fall before you reach the first marker!" She cautioned.
They all knew the length of the Dark Woods, no self-Respecting rider would dare go in there on foot, let alone with a beast. Keeping the Shard tucked into her chest, Brea fastened it with a strap of leather around her. "Then we'll see you in Thra!" Kylan retorted to Seladon as he saw Brea out of the doors, strapping his bow to his back along with his quiver.
The last thing they heard was a muffled shout of protest as the Stonewood doors groaned shut.
MIDNIGHT. CASTLE OF THE CRYSTAL.
Underneath the Crystal chamber was the so-called 'Chamber of Life' a once great place, home to the newest innovation and inventions of Thra. Now it would come alight with electricity and horrid creations. Filled with scientific apparatus, alchemical equipment, workbenches and animal cages. A system of levers, gears and buttons allow the Crystal of Truth to be lowered into the laboratory.
Though primitive, the Crystal hanging on chains and grasped by large metal claws, SkekTek the Scientist was at work on a solution.
SkekTek had deciphered that using the Crystal to drain the Gelfling was the best source of the immortal life for his Skeksis brothers. He fashioned the chairs out of spare metalwork, such chairs would strap and pierce Gelfling bodies to allow their essence to be extracted by the Crystal and turned into the rich, glowing liquid.
Such a substance made them feel young again, but Gelfling was now a finite resource. If only they had stayed loyal to the Skeksis, once the rebellion began, they had no more Gelfling to drain.
They needed to capture more. What remained of the Castle's Guard had been drained and consumed by the Skeksis, now they just had to find more Gelfling. But the Crystal's energy was chaotic, it would take the subject's whole body and leave nothing left. If it could be directed, fired at a target, the Crystal could prove much more manageable.
Without the Gruenak slaves, SkekTek was forced to do his own work again. Waddling around the dungeon-like laboratory, he tinkered with a machine that should allow the Crystal's energy to be launched at the pull of a lever. The Garthim he had created already was a roaring success, there had been immediate commands to produce another.
Chuntering, SkekTek murmured under his breath "Bah! Preeminent minds are never properly appreciated in their time. They mock me – and yet I do so much for them!" He rasped. Making the Garthim was just one of many advancements that the Scientist had made. He had seen the Dark Crystal as an alternative source of life, now he could finally prove his worth by making more Garthim.
Hobbling around, his body creaked as his bionic eye twitched again. He had an above-average intelligence for a Skeksis, keeping some power of thought from his UrSkek form. Studying the wounded Crystal, he learnt the art of draining the Gelfling for the sweet essence that the Skeksis were obsessed with.
As for the Garthim, the body was a melding of the Gruenak bodies and the Arathim corpses The Collector had returned to them. He had nearly used up all the Gruenak's body parts, though he was informed that SilkSpitters were in fresh supply, thanks to their alliance with the Gelfling.
In the cages around him, animals of all shapes and sizes twittered and moved around in their restrictive cages. SkekTek's favourite was a small yellow bird, a squawking thing with bug-eyes and fuzzy fur. Grumbling, the Scientist threw a metal piece away to the other side of his workbench "Blasted scrap! What a waste" He cursed. His skeletal hump fixed to his back, he staggered over to the smallest cage where the fuzzy pet was sleeping.
Opening the cage with a long, orange-gloved finger, SkekTek brushed the top of the creature's fur and feathers. "There, there, friend. Soon the work will be completed" He promised the little animal who snored lightly.
Hearing movement down the corridor, he saw shadows from the corner of his working, organic eye.
One was taller than the other, with Skeksis-shaped shadows and heaving breaths. The Scientist closed the cage and went back to looking busy as The Chamberlain and Emperor entered his chamber.
Sniffing, SkekSil placed his withered hands on the workbench at the front of the room. "Scientist has been at work…" He observed with a short whimper of approval. The Chamberlain was dressed in striking red and white, with a collar of lace and many layers on top of layers. A decorative, sail-like piece on his back and soft robes of quilted cloth.
SkekTek bowed in the presence of the Emperor, his head and long beak hanging low. "My royal sire, I was not expecting your imperial presence, how may I assist you?"
"Scientist, how goes production of my new weapon?" He growled, a glint of the Crystal's light in his eyes. Seeing the Crystal again amidst the hollow shaft of fire and air made SkekSo grin, a menacing smile across his pointed face. "Construction improves tenfold – with the last of the Gruenak parts, I believe that I could make another…three Garthim by sunrise" SkekTek specified. He had learned to talk in numbers when conversing with the Emperor.
The Chamberlain had a toothy smile, his lips curling upwards once again. "It's time to make…our move. We must choose a target, to test Garthim in combat, hmmm?" He suggested. Turning to his Secretary of State, SkekSo's mouth opened slightly. "Ah, an excellent suggestion. We need a place that's undefended - a show of force is required!" He burst out. Agreeing, SkekTek clenched his fist in support.
"The Sifa Clan remain on the Coast, Emperor, they remain unguarded, open to attack from land and sea" The Chamberlain mused. Rubbing his chin, SkekSo considered the idea. An attack from the land inwards would trap the Sifa, if they could gain the support from the waterfront. "A wise counsel indeed, SkekSil. Scroll-Keeper!" The Emperor boomed.
Appearing as if he was always there, The Scroll-Keeper emerged from the darkness of the hallway, accompanied by a small and stout Podling that carried a book of loose papers. SkekOk bowed, his eyes squinting to see the three Skeksis in front of him "What do you require, my Lord Emperor?" He sniffled.
Straightening up, The Emperor waved a hand generally. "Dispatch letters to SkekSa The Mariner at once. Tell her that that our offensive begins. No more negotiation - no mercy! It is time to show the Gelfling who truly rules Thra" The Emperor published loudly. Swiftly addressing the Scientist, SkekTek reeled back as SkekSo rounded on him. "How quickly can you get your Garthim to the Coast?" He pressured.
"With speed, sire, once I've completed the next batch" The Scientist replied. The Scroll-Keeper smacked the Podling around the back of its round head, shoving it into the corridor and following to his library to write and send the letters.
"Then get to work. The attack shall begin at sunrise! And the Sifan Gelfling will be ours!" SkekSo roared with a sweeping of his cloak, his gigantic form leaving the room, slouching and snapping his jaws.
Humming, the Chamberlain watched his master exit the laboratory. "Of course – I shall double, no – triple my efforts!" SkekTek called after him in a vain attempt to impress.
The Chamberlain stayed in the lab, his beady eyes becoming somewhat uncomfortable. "I hope so, SkekTek, for your sake. Emperor is not as…forgiving as I am" SkekSil whined, his head cocking to the side like a curious animal. Scuttling from the room, The Chamberlain left the lab soon after.
Returning to his work, SkekTek began to haul the Arathim bodies onto his workbench, collecting what was left of the Gruenak's bloody remains.
(Author's Epilogue: Hello there! Thanks for reading my first outing into a Dark Crystal Fanfiction! Hopefully this will serve my creative juices until Season 2 of AoR pops up. If you enjoyed this Chapter and would like to see more – then leave a review! It's much appreciated and it's the best way to tell me that I should write more into this interim story! I'm a big fan of the original 1982 film and the Netflix series, and a fan of the world of Thra in general! So, writing this has really been fun! Hope to see you all soon, thanks for being so kind! Praise be to you. Until next time. Alongusername.)