The Skel, even if lost, exists in the hopes and memories of friends and loved ones.
--The Manual of Jol
Firdlass ushered the guards out of the chamber. He still didn't trust them, but they seemed to be loyal to him now. His murder of their leader had seemed to earn him their leadership. He supposed they just followed the strongest, and he had proven himself just that.
Karin had screamed when he had approached her. It was no surprise really. She had witnessed him beating a man to death, with clubs and with... something else. Firdlass didn't know quite what had happened, all he knew is that he had wanted to protect Karin, he still wanted to protect her, and seeing her like that, that N'Mae-Skel over her, it had awoken something within him. He just wished that he could could somehow reach her, bring her back from beyond whatever place her memories had fled to.
Not knowing what to do, he had left her where she was and had headed out of the cavern. He was met by scared, curious faces. The people had slowly been coming out of hiding and some had seen what he had done. He had been prepared to fight to the death to stop them from breaking through and hurting Karin, but luckily, had wasn't required. Instead, it seemed that in killing their leader he had become his replacement. First of all, cautiously and full of mistrust, he walked through the crowd of people. They backed away, some smeared with blood as Firdlass passed them, his hair painting them with dark red smears if they couldn't back out of his way in time. He had walked onwards, unbarred until he had found his way out of the caves and had walked down to the lake to wash himself off.
* * * * *
Karin didn't know why she had screamed. Somehow, she had come to trust the strange beast-man, but even so, seeing that face, blood dripping from his fur, it was too much. She had calmed down though when he had left. It was just that in that one instance, while she witnessed his frenzied bludgeoning, all she could feel was an intense hatred emanating from him. She could actually feel the intensity of his hate and rage, and anything like that, a hate so strong, frightened her. And that thing he did, that weird force in the air, it was something he did, what was it?
She had tied together her torn clothing, covering herself up as best she could. The beast-man, Firdlass, she remember him saying, had posted some guards, for her protection she guessed. They had bought her some hides for her, and so with a little fiddling, she managed to get her bruised fingers to tie them together into a kind of makeshift shawl. Warm now, she still shivered. The bruises and the pain of the beatings were beginning to surface and now she felt stiff, like she was turning to stone. Creeping to the throne, she sat down to think things through. The last thing she remembered, before waking up in that cell with the beast-man, was going to sleep in her bed back at the village. What had happened in that time being sleeping and waking? She hadn't even seen the sky since she had woken up. She must be underground, in a cave somewhere. What would happen to her? She must be outside the village boundaries, there were certainly no caves anywhere near the village, and with out permission! Only a Chief N'Geenr could leave the village boundaries. They'd understand, she was kidnapped, she didn't mean to, they wouldn't punish her would they? Had she been kidnapped though? This beast-man, Firdlass, seemed to know her, at least he knew her name. He wanted to protect her too, there was more to this than there appeared. She didn't understand. I just want to go home!
* * * * *
Firdlass splashed cold water against himself in the eerie light of the great disc in the sky, the Axis Moon as Karin had taken to calling it. He didn't understand much about it, the sky as whole was mostly a mystery to him, but he knew that this Axis Moon was bad. As he bought his face up from the waters surface, he looked at the black shape in the middle of the lake. It felt cold, still, like a dead thing. Even worse, it felt like it spread that feeling all around it. Whatever it had done, it had hurt Karin, it hadn't touched her, but somehow, that shimmering wall it created had touched her Skel, and harmed her Ja-Skel.
“Mae-Geenk-skel.” Firdlass muttered to himself as he scrubbed the filth of the N'Mae-Skels from his matted hair.
Whatever the black obelisk was, Mae-Geenk-skel or not, he decided to investigate it closer before the sun came back. It might do whatever it had done again, and he had no idea how that would effect them if they were subjected a second time. On that note, he dived into the water and swam through the moonlit lake towards the object. As he got closer, he felt like he was getting sleepy, like his Skel was becoming numb. His senses seemed dull and the pain from before, when that wave had hit him, seemed to be beginning to surface once again. He felt sick, but he was determined to find out what it was, what it had done to Karin and getting it to fix it if he could. A little further and his foot hit something smooth and flat and cold. It was high enough in the water to walk on, so he stood up and walked along it to the obelisk jutting from the water. It seemed like the two were connected, and when he reached the obelisk, his thoughts were confirmed. The two surfaces met and they seemed to be comprised of the same substance, joining seamlessly with each others as if they were part of an immense, contiguous block of dark, smooth matter. Even above water, the surface of the obelisk felt just as cold and as smooth as that beneath. It felt unnatural. Mae-Rutinl. He tried reaching out with his Skel, but he was met with that cold, dead feeling and pain upon pain each time he tried. He could feel the dead feeling inside of him. This place was a bad place.
Firdlass decided that there was nothing to be learned from the obelisk, so he began to swim around it, finding out how far the surface of it went under water. After swimming around at a radius of several meters, the surface continued to curve down under the water, like a sphere. He would have to swim underwater to discover more. Luckily, he was a strong swimmer, his home, now far away from here, was one of those that could only be reached via an underground lake, and so like all of his group, he had learned the skill from a young age. Taking a deep breath, he dived down and glided around the side of spherical structure. It was several attempts diving at different positions before he found something. An entrance of some kind maybe, an alcove that dipped into the curved body of the structure. With a final deep breath, Firdlass dived down, swimming into the alcove into a small tunnel which lead up, into the structure. Just as is breath was about to give out, he broke the waters surface and was met by something he had never seen before.
Firdlass emerged into an eerily lit corridor. The walls were made of the same cold, dead material as the outside but this time there was something different about it. Along the surfaces of the corridor – the walls, the ceiling, even the floor – there were thin, straight, glowing lines. Firdlass pressed his fingers against them but couldn't feel the indentations in the walls. Dropping to all fours, Firdlass looked closely at the lines on the floor. Upon closer inspection, they seemed to pulse as if they were alive. Perhaps they had skel? Maybe they were creature in the rock, like Rutink-Mae-geen. The swim, and the constant draining feeling this bad place seemed to emit made Firdlass hungry, so he reached out with his skel to try and draw out the Rutink-Mae-geen. Immediately, he was hit by a force he couldn't describe and he cried out.
“F'(Mae-Ja)-nan! Fornan! Fornan!”
The waves of pain washed over him and he withdrew, but still the pain blossomed in his mind like a white hot sun. Eventually it began to subside and he was left quivering on the floor.