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|“||We live, we live, we live forever!||„|
|~ The Skeksis during the Great Conjunction.|
|“||Hail the new emperor!!||„|
|~ The Skeksis as they praise SkekUng the Garthim Master as the new emperor.|
The Skeksis are an evil race of chimeric beings and the main antagonist race in the 1982 dark fantasy film The Dark Crystal and the 2019 TV series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. They are the opposite of the gentle UrRu (known as the Mystics in the movie).
The Skeksis are part reptile, part predatory bird, and part dragon creatures. They wear heavy elaborate but threadbare robes to make themselves appear more larger and intimidating. Their bodies are usually slender and thin, and once have a second pair of arms before it withers and became atrophied as the Skeksis' reign goes by in later years.
Unlike their counterparts, who possess the positive composition of the UrSkeks, the Skeksis instead carry the negative; as such being arrogant, egotistical, and have little to no regard for life or even each other. Furthermore, despite having alliances in the castle, they will often plot or have a rivalry (such in the case of SkekSil and SkekUng) against each other inside or outside of the alliance, heavily suggesting the Skeksis to be deceitful and double-crossing.
When the Crystal (originally known as the Crystal of Truth) cracked long, one of the two races born from the essence of the semi-devine race of creatures known as the UrSkeks resulting from the split, were the evil Skeksis, embodiments of the evil inside the UrSkeks. They live out a superficial existence of intrigue while struggling to retain their grip on the biodiverse planet Thra. They keep essence-drained Podlings as slaves, have their own personal army in the Garthim, and absolutely despise Gelflings, a race they thought they have completely exterminated following the Garthim Wars.
There were originally eighteen Skeksis, but by the time of the Great Conjunction when they rejoined with their benevolent opposites, the Mystics, only eight remained.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Following their arrival on Thra and the weakening of the Crystal several trine ago, the Skeksis now gather around the Crystal to draw more energy from it. At one of their gatherings however, it failed to draw life, with panic ensuing around the Skeksis. The Emperor SkekSo assures everyone in a firm voice that a solution will be provided by SkekTek the Scientist to the problem; however, the scientist pulls him aside and confides that he has made no such progress on it, and the more the Skeksis take away life from the Dark Crystal, the more likely chance of their survival being at stake. SkekSo then forcefully make SkekTek find a way to end their problem fast; meanwhile, the entire conversation is overheard by the Chamberlain SkekSil, unbeknownst to the Scientist and the Emperor.
Two of the Skeksis, the Scroll-Keeper SkekOk and the Collector SkekLach, leave the Castle of the Crystal to attend a tithing ceremony at Ha'rar (the capital of the Vapra clan) in order to gather any given riches or offerings from the Gelfling there. Meanwhile, the Scientist started conducting experiments, eventually finding one that would've extracted his essence completely thanks to SkekSil's intervention. He later tested it on Mira, a Gelfling and a member of the Crystal Guard, to which the experiment succeeds in draining her essence and killing her, all the while the other Skeksis witnessed this throughout. They all proceed to drink the essence in a bowl, restoring their energy before SkekTek bottled the last of it in a vial.
The Scientist then locked the vial with a locksnake before repairing the machine due to it overloaded from killing Mira. However Rian, along with fellow guard and friend Gurjin, attempted to steal the vial while before at the same time SkekSil came to consume the remaining essence, eating the locksnake guarding it prior to being caught by SkekTek. The two smell the two Gelfling in the lab before the Scientist gets into a violent confrontation with the Chamberlain over him attempting to take the vial, which Rian took it as an advantage to steal it and escape. SkekTek reported this to the Emperor and that SkekSil was to blame for stealing the vial; while the latter immediately admitted this, he later lied that SkekTek "attacked" him, causing SkekSil to drop it. This simple lie caused the Scientist to be punished by losing his left eye to a peeper beetle.
The Skeksis later threw a feast for the return of SkekEkt the Ornamentalist. Despite the fine food, the Skeksis longed for essence to rejuvenate themselves due to them drinking Mira's essence for the first time. SkekVar the General suggests that they take as much Gelfling essence as they want, while SkekSil urges moderation, instead suggesting they only take what they need to survive. During their quarrel, the Emperor notices his finger beginning to fall off and, becoming desperate, immediately dismisses SkekSil and appointed SkekVar as his right-hand. Exultant, the General slaps the Chamberalain down and steps on his hand. After leaving the hall and now hastily desiring to be by SkekSo's side, SkekSil summons the Hunter SkekMal. SkekVar below begins torturing an imprisoned Gurjin for information, using the Crystal to drain his essence incrementally and make him cooperative. This is halted by Emperor SkekSo however, who sends the General and SkekZok the Ritual Master to Ha'rar to recruit seven volunteers for a supposed offensive against the Arathim, when in actuality the plan is to drain them of their essence.
Meanwhile, SkekSil takes Rian from SkekMal to be escorted back to the Castle after the Hunter has captured the Gelfling. However, the Chamberlain's carriage is ambushed by Naia and a recently rescued Gurjin, who release Rian along with the Armaligs and causing the carriage to crash. Having to travel on foot, SkekSil begin to notice signs of rebellion due to being driven out of Stone-in-the-Wood by the Gelfling there, which he soon later reported to the other Skeksis only to be ridiculed by them.
Arriving at Ha'rar, SkekZok and SkekVar inspect the volunteers before All-Maudra Mayrin, who is now aware of the Skeksis' true intentions thanks to Brea and the other Gelfling, confronts the two Skeksis over the safety of her paladins, ordering for their release and declaring that Mayrin no longer accepts Skeksis rule; in response to this, SkekVar replies by slicing her stomach open, instantly killing her. Mayrin's eldest daughter Seladon is named the new All-Maudra by the General and the Ritual Master before the two Skeksis head back to the castle with their seven volunteers, including Deet, Hup, and Brea. However, as their carriage passes through the Endless Forest, Rian and company intercept it at a choke point, forcing the Armaligs to halt. Rian taunts SkekVar while Naia, Gurjin, and Kylan attempt to open the cage, but are unable to do so until Lore, the guardian of Brea, barrels into view and rips it open, freeing Brea and the other prisoners and frightening the Skeksis away.
In the Castle of the Crystal, the Emperor brings the General to the Arathim nest and makes contact with their hive mind, the Ascendancy. He offers their ancestral home, the Caves of Grot, in exchange for them crushing the Gelfling, to which they agree. Going to the chamber of the Darkening, SkekSo reveals to SkekVar that he is harnessing the Darkening, and that because it had spread throughout the land, it would consume the Arathim when they returned to Grot. He orders him to comply with the Ascendency's request for a powerful Gelfling, and then to crush Stone-in-the-Wood.
Back in Stone-in-the-Wood, Maudra Fara, the leader of the Stonewood clan, plans for a morning attack on the Castle of the Crystal due to their lack of guards in numbers. However, Fara is interrupted by the arrival of SkekVar, who then activates a blinding light on his carriage as numerous Arathim emerge out of the woods, confusing the defenders because of the creatures not striking. Eventually, a brainwashed Gelfling named Tavra, clothed in a black cloak, comes forward only to release countless Threaders onto the Stonewood Gelfling, overwhelming and incorporating them all into the hive mind of the Arathim Ascendency. The entire clan, including Maudra Fara, are then taken to the Castle.
The Dark Crystal
The Skeksis are more desperate than ever to make themselves immortal despite using the crystal to prolong their lives. SkekSo soon died from a trine of declining health and rotting. The other Skeksis discuss in the throne room who will take SkekSo's place, though SkekSil declared that he should be emperor. However, he was challenged by SkekUng the Garthim Master to a duel of "Trial by Stone". SkekUng wins and the Chamberlain was soon stripped of his rank, and his clothes, and banished out of the castle. The Skeksis soon discovered a Gelfling named Jen and sent out the Garthim to track him down, as Jen seemed to be the last of his kind.
While the Garthim did find Jen in the laboratory of Aughra, they failed to capture him, instead getting Aughra whilst destroying her laboratory. Aughra was later brought before the Skeksis in the middle of their feast, only to rant at them. This angered, and also offended, the Skeksis so they decided to sent out Crystal Bats. Later on, two of the Skeksis discovered SkekSil holding Kira, another Gelfling who was actually with Jen, captive and alarmingly reported to SkekUng of this. Due to his desire for Gelfling essence, the Garthim Master reinstated SkekSil as chamberlain and had Kira given to SkekTek to be extracted of her vitality. This eventually backfires as Kira called upon the animals imprisoned in the Scientist's lab for help, which was successful but resulted in SkekTek and his counterpart's deaths.
Jen, surviving a cave-in committed by SkekSil, managed to get inside the Crystal chamber just as soon as the Skeksis begin their ritual of receiving immortality from the Great Conjunction, and alights upon the Crystal, but the shard fell from his hands. An escaped Kira throws the shard back to him, returning it to Jen. In so doing she leaves herself open to attack, and she is killed by the Skeksis Ritual Master; this left a horrified but enraged Jen to restore the Crystal. The castle startled to crumble and the Skeksis were unwillingly reunited with the incoming Mystics to form the UrSkeks.
Power of the Dark Crystal
All of the Skeksis, with the obvious exception of SkekTek, return in the non-canon sequel series. After Thurma cracks the Crystal once again, they reappear along with their Mystic counterparts. As soon as the Skeksis do so however, SkekUng (remaining as Emperor from the original film) immediately held SkekSil responsible for their imprisonment and then have him banished again, with the Ritual Master summoning the Crystal Bats to make the Chamberlain leave.
The Skeksis, disgusted by the presence of the Gelfling in the Castle, decide to let Thurma escape with the shard so that they may rule forever before attacking the guards to which the Skeksis gained the upper hand on the guards. Eventually, they were imprisoned in a cell by Jen and were kept watched over; later SkekZok examines markings on the floor and informs his fellow Skeksis that the Crystal has shown him the shard in a high and dangerous place and tells them that if it is not found, the Crystal will remain dark forever.
In the dungeon, the Crystalline Eminence observes the Skeksis in their cell, telling them that he has no fear in them for the Eminence is the beholder of the Crystal. However, they tell him that he has never seen the light of the Dark Crystal and that he must look on it when the suns are high if he wants real strength and to understand the true power of the world. True to their word, the Crystalline Eminence gazed at the Crystal as sunlight shines upon it, becoming entranced and falling to its power as the Skeksis urge him to free them from the dungeon, to which he did. Being free, the Skeksis enter the Crystal Chamber and claim the treasure and the Crystal as their own while SkekShod, as he fawns over the numerous offerings, finds a hidden Podling and has SkekNa drain it in the Scientist's old laboratory.
- SkekSo, the Emperor (voiced by the late Jerry Nelson in the film; Jason Isaacs in the show)
- SkekZok, the Ritual-Master (voiced by the late Jerry Nelson in the film; Keegan-Michael Key in the show)
- SkekUng, the Garthim-Master (voiced by Michael Kilgarriff)
- SkekSil, the Chamberlain (voiced by the late Barry Dennen in the film; Simon Pegg in the show)
- SkekTek, the Scientist (voiced by Steve Whitmire in the film; Mark Hamill in the show)
- SkekAyuk, the Gourmand (voiced by Thick Wilson in the film; Harvey Fierstein in the show)
- SkekNa, the Slave-Master (voiced by the late David Buck)
- SkekShod, the Treasurer (voiced by Charles Collingwood)
- SkekOk, the Scroll-Keeper (voiced by John Baddeley in the film; Neil Sterenberg in the show)
- SkekEkt, the Ornamentalist (voiced by Brian Muehl in the film; Alice Dinnean in the show)
- SkekMal, the Hunter (voiced by Ralph Ineson)
- SkekVar, the General (voiced by Benedict Wong)
- SkekLach, the Collector (voiced by Awkwafina)
- SkekGra, the Conqueror/Heretic (voiced by Andy Samberg)
- SkekLi, the Satirist
- SkekSa, the Mariner
- Although there are eighteen and then eight of them, the Skeksis were originally based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
- Initially, the Skeksis had a constructed language that is a mix of ancient Greek and Egyptian. This was eventually scrapped due to test screening audiences find it confusing despite the present captions.
- SkekSa the Mariner is the only member of the Skeksis classified to be female (in canon), as the rest are primarily male.
- Although initially, she was originally a male Skeksis named SkekCru in Legends of the Dark Crystal.
- Skeksis is both singular and plural, but the plural form is "Skeksès" (pronounced 'Skek-sees').
- In the prequel series, the Skeksis were erroneously mentioned as the ones who arrived on Thra and also gifted Aughra her orrery, not the UrSkeks.