The story of the greedy and tyrannical SkekSès, the main antagonistic race of the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal.
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 most of 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. Once there, the two Skeksis meet Brea, the youngest daughter of All-Maudra Maryin. Skekok takes a shine to her, as the two share an interest in reading. 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 creature being released by SkekZok the Ritual Master.
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 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 to be drained of their essence.
Following the aftermath of the ambush, Seladon, previously crowned as the new All-Maudra, traveled to the Castle of the Crystal to seek clemency for the rebellious Gelfling from the Skeksis. When she asked for the release of the captured Stonewood Gelfling, SkekSo tersely said "no", resulting in snickers. The latter was requested again for the Gelfling clans' mercy and seven volunteers in exchange for peace (the same demand expected for her mother), only for him to turn them down before SkekEkt snatched Seladon's crown as he and the other Skeksis mock her; SkekSo takes it off the Ornamentalist's head and slams it down to the floor, destroying it. All of the Skeksis then proceeded to strip Seladon of her outer dark robe and had SkekAyuk the Gourmand take her away to be locked up and later drained of her essence.
Meanwhile, SkekMal, after he gave up Rian to the Chamberlain, found him and his friends traveling in the Crystal Desert and, after knowing where they are, pursues them to the Circle of the Sun. When reaching there, he then threw a knife into SkekGra the Heretic's hand, harming him and his counterpart UrGoh before attempting to strike Deet until Hup blocks it with his spoon. Before any damage can be done, the Hunter was then strucked with arrows from the Archer UrVa, who stated that SkekMal cannot defeat him without defeating himself, as they are two halves of the same whole. In response, the badly wounded SkekMal bids his farewell, kidnapping Brea as he retreats to the Castle of the Crystal.
In the Scientist's laboratory, the Chamberlain instructs the two Gruenak slaves to sabotage the General's vial by swapping the bottle with another one containing fake essence, in exchange for their freedom from servitude. Afterwards, SkekTek later lured three controlled Gelfling from Stone-in-the-Wood, including Tolyn, a member of the once Castle Guard, into the draining chairs. Despite Tolyn's pleas for mercy as he as the one who warned of the other guards' revolt, he gets drained of his essence along with the two other Gelfling. The vials of essence were soon brought before the Skeksis, hogging all of it and making jokes with each other, whilist SkekSil watches carefully as the General disapproves the essence after drinking the vial carrying the false liquid switched by one of the Gruenaks.
SkekVar later confronted the Scientist, claiming the recently drained essence to be a fraud only for the latter to counterclaim that it is only him being the weak one while breaking his hand. The Hunter suddenly barges into the Crystal Castle not long after, carrying a covered cage all the way to the throne room before collapsing in front of everyone from his injuries. Upon witnessing this, the Skeksis became mortified of their own being on the verge of death; SkekSo had every essence collected to save the Hunter's life, though at the same time SkekOk discovered Brea and had her imprisoned along with the other Gelfling, including Seladon. They were eventually taken, along with Fara, to have their essence drained to sustain a comatose SkekMal until Aughra enters in the Chamber of Life before SkekTek can flip the switch. She offers herself in place of the Gelfling, providing them with the essence of Thra itself to save the Hunter. SkekSo agrees to the deal out of fear of the afterlife, freeing Brea, Seladon, Fara, and all the Gelfling in their prison; however, the Emperor secretly conjures a contingency in the form of SkekVar, who would later confront Tavra with the accompany of SkekLach. The Vapran Gelfling immediately duels the General, stabbing him in the stomach before being gravely impaled herself by the Chamberlain; SkekSil later gave SkekVar essence to heal his wound.
In the Chamber, Aughra strapped in, lamenting the dissolution of her relationship with the Skeksis and how their crimes against the crystal have doomed them a future of dust. Her comments don’t stop the draining however, killing Aughra but failing to resurrect the Hunter. Realizing that death is inevitable just as he believed SkekMal is dead, SkekSo orders the latter's body to be dressed in his armor and prepped to be hung in the throne room for all eternity. Prior to this, SkekSil pitches a new plan to the Emperor after the Skeksis are left without an army. They can build one by reanimating a dead Arathim corpse (that the Chamberlain brought in SkekTek's lab) and use it to create multiple soulless warriors. SkekSo agrees, commanding SkekTek to build his army and offering SkekSil his place as counsel at his side once again.
All of the Skeksis later observed Rian's message (via the Crystal) about their crimes against the Gelfling after blue flames began forming around Thra, broadcasting his message. To their shock, the Dual Glaive is revealed to be in Rian's hands, the halves found and combined together, before he calls for all Gelfling to assemble at Stone-in-the-Wood and stand as one against the Skeksis. Having enough, SkekSo briefly took over to speak through the Crystal, warning them of attempting to fight their rulers, but Rian stands unmoved. The communication came to a close as Rian extinguishes the flames with the Dual Glaive, and the Emperor tells the Skeksis to prepare to crush the Gelfling at dawn.
As they prepare for the fight, SkekSo, with SkekVar by his side, gathered a piece of the Darkening as a way to defeat the Gelfling should things go awry, all the while bitterly remembering their time as urSkeks as a time of suffering and not knowing what awaits them in the afterlife. SkekTek later insisted on coming with SkekSo and the other Skeksis, as he was the one who worked on their armor to enhance them; however, the Scientist is instead met with mockery and an order to remain in the castle to work on the Skeksis' new army. Being left alone as the other Skeksis depart for Stone-in-the-Wood, SkekTek sits upon the Emperor's throne as he orders music and food from the Podling servants while indulging in essence. Disappointed by the food, the Scientist crushes the hand of an elder Podling servant, and the other Podlings flee in fear. SkekMal's body jolts, revealing that he is alive and was actually in a coma despite being considered dead; taking notice of this, SkekTek inspects him to the former's confusion. The Hunter suddenly awakens and bursts free of the strings that held him up and learns Rian and the other Skeksis's location Stone-in-the-Wood from SkekTek before leaving.
The gathered Skeksis arrive in Stone-in-the-Wood, and Rian challenges Emperor skekSo to single combat. However, on the Chamberlain's advice, SkekSo allows an eager SkekVar to fight in the duel. Initially, the martial General holds the advantage as he started crushing blows and did a quick kick which sends Rian sprawling. SkekVar then drives Rian back with his sword before flipping the Gelfling bodily aside with the Dual Glaive. Despite being incapacitated for a brief time, Rian somehow reorients himself from his sprawling position on the ground, flips through the air over SkekVar's sword as he struck at him, and drives the Dual Glaive completely through the General's armored flank. The Glaive then begins draining SkekVar of the essence he consumed prior to the duel, weakening SkekVar as he tells Rian to finish it and kill him; however Rian declines, saying "I'm no killer" as he draws the Glaive out. Utterly defeated and gravely wounded, SkekVar retreats as his fellow Skeksis shame his failure. The battle between the Gelfling and Skeksis began, as the latter race then started to activate their enhanced armor and prepare to attack only for the Gelfling women take to the air and drop smoke bombs around the Skeksis, blasting dirt through the air in violent concussions wherever they landed and fouling up some of the Skeksis' eyes while the male Gelfling then charge in amidst the Skeksis' confusion, Rian dueling SkekZok as SkekEkt panicked. SkekOk suddenly strides forward screaming "I will not be bullied!" before launching several blades from his enhanced armor at an airborne Seladon (who previously joined the Gelfling Resistance). At the last moment, Maudra Fara pushes Seladon out of the way as the blades sliced through her own wings and striking her, leaving Fara to crash roughly into the ground. The Scroll-Keeper then searches the area where the Maudra crash landed and prepares to finish her off; Fara's Fizzgig Baffi arrived however, and bit the end of SkekOk's nose, distracting him long enough for Seladon to get Fara to safety.
The fight in Stone-in-the-Wood continues to rage as each of the Gelfling are shown to duel each of the Skeksis: Brea dueling SkekOk, Kylan dueling SkekLach, Seladon dueling SkekEkt, Deet dueling SkekAyuk, and Rian taking on both SkekZok and SkekSo. During the chaos, SkekSil slips away to find a wounded SkekVar in a secluded area near the battlefield. The General, believing the Chamberlain to be an ally as the latter helped him before, pleaded for SkekSil's help only for him to stab SkekVar in the wound. Wailing in agony, SkekVar dies as he collapses into dust, his Mystic counterpart UrMa the Peacemaker dying with him. The Chamberlain witnessed this slow and grim death before noticing the arrival of SkekMal the Hunter and retreating back to the battlefield with the other Skeksis. SkekMal sprinted through the chaos and dexterously snatching up Rian. The Hunter then takes the Dual Glaive out of Rian's hands and effortlessly shatters it, holding Rian before him and preparing to claim his tongue as a trophy by crushing the Gelfling's skull to kill him as the other Skeksis all throughout cheered for him. However, his counterpart UrVa the Archer commits suicide from afar thus killing SkekMal while bringing back Aughra to life. Shocked by this, SkekSo attempted to continue the assault on the small resistance only for several arrows shot by the arriving Sifa Clan to land in front of them and bring them to a halt; their arrival is followed by the appearance of the rest of the clans and the Arathim.
Realizing that the Gelfling are large in numbers and that the Skeksis are surrounded, SkekSil urges SkekSo to retreat back to the Castle. Refusing to surrender, the Emperor pulls out his crystal scepter and unleashes the Darkening upon the Gelfling in a wave of pure and magical destruction, indiscriminately killing Gelfling in its way. Deet jumps before it and draws all of the Darkening into herself to prevent further harm before launching it back at the Skeksis in an equally destructive wave, landing squarely on SkekLach. For a moment, the Collector seems totally unharmed, but then his pustules burst and he explodes in a shower of gore, dying along with his Mystic counterpart, UrSen the Monk. SkekZok, in terror, sounded a retreat, causing the Skeksis to quickly leave the battleground; SkekSo initially did not flee, but the Chamberlain finally convinced him to withdraw.
As soon as the Skeksis eventually reached to the Castle of the Crystal, they expressed their worry over being overwhelmed by the Gelfling and how it could bring about their downfall. However, SkekTek arrives and assures the Skeksis that a solution is found for their problem. As he says this, the Scientist introduces said solution: a mindless, soldier automaton known as the Garthim, the result of an Arathim corpse fused with Gruenak sinew tissue. The other Skeksis acclaimed at the new lifeform, knowing that they will use the Garthim to fight the Gelfling
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. They later attempt to break through the castle barricade, but Aughra uses vines to life herself, Kira and the Royal Guard to the upper towers; he Skeksis declare that this will not stop them from slowly taking over. Kira states that the are right, but Aughra assures her that she is not trying to stop them, merely to buy time.
Desiring to find Jen and kill him, SkekUng approaches the cowering Crystalline Eminence and demands to know if there are any secret tunnels in the Castle. The Eminence begins to battle about the Crystal's light and SkekUng strikes him, concluding that his mind has been broken. SkekAyuk asks what will be done with the Eminence and SkekUng states that he will be thrown in a cell, but they will have use for him soon. He and the other Skeksis found Jen and Fizzgig on the way to the Castle riding on a creature named Bohrtog. Using the Sceptre of the Bats, the Garthim-Master summoned the Crystal Bats to attack them, causing the two of them to plumment to the ground. The Skeksis then started to swarm around Fizzgig and an unconscious Jen while the former tried to stop them, although Kira arrived in time and orders them to get away from her husband; she is accompanied by a group of younger female Gelfling, who attack the Skeksis with spears. Angered at not being able to murder Jen, SkekUng drained the Eminence of his essence and drank it, becoming youthful and stronger, taking advantage of this by pulling apart the barricade. However, the chanting of the Mystics stalled the Skeksis for a short time as so as the barricade is breached.
A Great Conjunction soon occurs as the Castle of the Crystal is broken and divided, separating the Skeksis and everyone else. Aughra panics that if the Crystal is not healed soon, it will stay dark forever; Jen tells her that the shard is half a world away and the Crystal cannot be made whole, and UrSol tells them to have faith, for it is the will of the Crystal. SkekUng, on the other hand, leaps down to their level and declares such will would not cause another age for Thra, but rather an age for the Skeksis. This proclamation of his came too soon as Thurma manages to find the shard and approaches to the Crystal, and the Garthim-Master attempted to prevent her from healing it, to no avail. As soon as she placed the shard, the Crystal abruptly cracks and shatters; both the Skeksis and UrRu were eventually merged back into the UrSkeks, with the exception of SkekSil and UrSol, who both perished due to the Chamberlain being perforated by several fragments of the former Crystal.