Anything But Us

His opposite. His enemy. His friend. His lover. And his undoing if he ever chooses that.


He never ever tried to solve the mystery that was his counterpart. He never tried, not really hard, only sometimes was giving this a few thoughts, to abandon them, as unable to explain. He never knew if he can call him a foe or the only person that truly understood him. Even when they were sharing bodies. This was act of self love, which suited him. After all, he was as selfish as skeksis could be. Self love was only kind of real love he would admit he could feel to anyone.


urVa was patient. Not as patient as other urru. He had wild streak which fascinated skekMal, because he felt that he himself had some sentimental part too. There was a thick mental rope between them they shared and which was binding them together with a vine which couldn’t be cut.


Sometimes he thought that this sentimental side was implanted in him by urVa himself. Sharing hunts, sharing tales, sharing everything, when they rarely met – it all made him different. He was sure that the same happened with urVa – he became wilder, more reckless.


Dare and calm mixed together into something that once was a one creature and never – if skekMal had a word in that – will exist again.  The mere thought of being someone else than the Hunter, was repulsing to him.


They both shared one more love. Love for life. Curiosity for life and the will to explore, travel, tear the last drop of existence from Thra and absorb it themselves. urVa would not admit it but skekMal knew. He was observant and patient.


Why his enemy, his friend, his lover, his opposite, was the only one who could be his undoing? Why he had a string of certainty that urVa, even if loved him, could put Thra before him and himself?


But skekMal never wanted to destroy Thra. This was his land, his blood, his root and bone. And they both walked the same paths, sometimes in the same unum, knowing that the other was there too.


And smiling bitterly at that. Soon. We will meet soon. And we won’t talk about anything but us.

Not Today

There were rites at the beginning of time when he was still very young and his body still not as tested by battles and hunts and age, not scarred, not hard as leather. He was more naive, purer, and definitely more stupid.

He was thinking them up himself, leading parties of the hunting skeksis, who were as well young, and naive and very very stupid. Even more than himself, he thought.

Their bodies were bending in an ecstatic dance of the prosperity and when the hunt came well, they were taking even more wild approach, to appease Thra. To appease themselves, to assure themselves that Thra wants them.

Now, the rites were gone and the hunt started to be a rite of its own. He had his habits, yes. But he never danced at night anymore, never squirmed between starts, not now.

Now, he was silent, deadly, and focused and if he ever did any rite, did any honor to Thra, it was never before or after the hunt.

He was silent facing the days of youth. He wanted to forget them. Not because he was so very very stupid back then. Not because the other skeksis became even more stupid as the trines went on.

Because it – deep down in his soul – was too painful to think about. He had secrets, which never see the daylight. These secrets will disperse one day during the next and next hunt. It was his own ritual of survival and the way to forget the things that never should be seen by a living being.

He wanted to feed on life, on fresh prey. Not the ghosts that inhabited his soul every time he got lost in memories.

One day. One day he ventures onto these paths and deals with them.

But not today.

To Hunt the Death

The hunt never ends. But after a rough battle, the blinking stars over his head seemed blurred and the forest denser. The shadows were creeping around him as they felt blood on him. And there it was, a lot of blood, trickling, and pooling from his wounded flank and leg, like a stream of rubies. 

skekMal’s tired hand laid on the dead animal’s corpse, which he eventually slew. But not without costs. Each hunt could be his last, he knew that, but even if he was prepared, he didn’t  w a n t  that. He liked to live, conquer his limits, each day, from morning til night filled with lumimnescent light of Thra.

His gaze landed on the sharp jagged wound coming from his chest to his hip. A slight hiss escaped his beak. That was too easy. Too easily the animal wounded him. When he gets off this ordeal – and he was not sure, if he will, not at all – he will be more cautious. Last hunts made him feel invincible, and this one put him again on Thra’s surface. 

Curse it; he spat saliva, which was not mixed with blood. If he was wounded internally, it will be much more difficult to mend his hide.

But the animal was laying next to him, dead, very dead, and he was still alive. If he manages to move, he will go to his camp and mend himself.

He wouldn’t be skekMal, if he didn’t try.

He wouldn’t be a skeksis, if he didn’t want to win over death. One more time.

To Belong

He never considered himself a guest. Not in this forest. Not in Crystal Desert. Not among the nature breathing the fresh air into its green lungs.

He surely wasn’t born here and his body won’t return to Thra, as it never came from it.

But he was never a guest. He was part of Thra since his first day, when he was travelling whole day, searching for his first prey.

Maybe his blood never belonged here, maybe the soil would never accept it, when it soaks into the ground. But this land was his and no one would take that away from him, he was owner of it, as much as the other skeksis owned the castle, gelfling, power over the commons.

He didn’t even need to prove that. It was as natural as the circle of life, natural as strong taking over the weak, and natural as the predator claiming its meal.

Pride

He was proud, of everything that he was. It was not only typical skeksis pride, which was so tied to their kind, as the Dousan were tied to death. Skeksis were boasting over the power they had, feeling everything belongs to them, taking and taking and taking, never giving. And if something happened and they gave, it was never sincere.

His pride was never connected with who he was, when he was born, in the flash of light and screaming and terror. It was earned. It was based on hundreds of trines of proving his skill to himself, hard work over his traits, relentless pursue over being the one that was feared among the land, the shadow that eats the flesh, the ghastly apparition everyone knew about yet no one could say they know its true identity.

He was proud, because he had reason to. Not sniffing books, not partying till the legs were bending and world spinning, not using slaves or servants to do things for him, which he could easily do by his own.

Yes, his pride was coming from a source that was carved in his very being. Because he could engage into most deadly battle, most bloody fight, most dangerous hunt.

And always end up victorious.

Nothing as good as the thought, that he was the only skeksis that truly conquered death.

#1

My territory mark the skulls of my prey.

First Hunt

He has never forgot the first hunt.

Never forgot the first bite of the prey he slew himself. The taste of blood on his tongue, sharp and intense scent of the animal, the way his teeth were sinking into the flesh.

He learnt to prepare his meat i the future, over the brimming fire.

But the taste of blood still lingered in his senses, the taste of youth and freedom. It would be foolish from him to not try it even now.

His fangs tore the morsel of freshly hunted makrak. It’s good. It’s natural. It’s HIM. Why change that?

Moss and Rain

skekMal inhaled the deep scent of the thick forest; the moss mixed with damp earth and the rain that just washed Thra. His tail thumped against the ground, with content, as last droplets fell on his unmasked face.

This wasn’t as good as hunt. But good of its own. To feel that he is part of this place, which belonged to him, yet he never fully was rooted in. In these moments, when everything was soaked in water, and the branches of the trees covered the bleak suns, he felt more bound to this forest. He was like those trees, eternal, with his feet dug into the soil, which was giving him prey, each day and each night.

His fists clenched, talons buring in his own skin, but not drawing blood.

This was a promising start of a good day. Good for hunt. Good for the kill. Good to live it through.