Seronai: Part One

Seronai: Part One

Micah Ebstein, Staff Writer

The Cartographer and the Hunter

The Sekin Cartographer

Exploring old tunnels, long since sealed away and forgotten about. These tunnels, not like those he called home, were rough, jagged, unrefined. The Glowvines that usually lit passages such as this had long since dried and disappeared, if they had been there at all.

The lantern he held, filled with his own bioluminescent mucous, barely made a dent in the utter blackness surrounding him. He kept a hand on the wall so he wouldn’t lose it, and he could not see the other.

There was no way he could make maps of a place when he could not even see five feet ahead. His mission was a failure, and he had to go back. That would be tricky, however, because of one thing: he was completely lost.


The Darkin Hunter

Climbing silently, listening. Prey was nearby. Long fingers found handholds easily on the rough rock, allowing for easy movement on the walls and ceiling.

The hunter slowed to a halt. Normally, Shelldeer roam in herds of three or four. There were six here.

He drummed his fingers on the wall in a complicated pattern and waited. The Shelldeer were still there when the hunter felt faint vibrations in the wall. A reply. A few minutes later there was another. Two other hunters had appeared to help bring this feast back to the village.

Nothing was seen due to darkness. Nothing was heard due to the speed and skill of the hunters. But in mere moments, three pairs of Shelldeer met their fate at the three pairs of hands belonging to three shadowy figures.


The hairs on the cartographer’s antennae curled in disgust. The air around him was suddenly filled with the stench of death. He had always stayed away from the Rokin hunters and butchers of his city because they had always smelled like this, covered in the pheromones given off by Shelldeer before they die.

He didn’t know what was down here killing Shelldeer, but he didn’t want to find out. It is probably too late, though, he thought, the smell is strong and close by. But not too close. I could walk in the other direction and avoid it. He decided to keep moving.

He was sitting, leaning on the tunnel wall. He remoistened the mucous lamp and it started glowing again. At least the light would comfort his nerves. But there was no comfort now, in fact, his heart nearly stopped. The light of the lamp revealed the figure before him that he didn’t even know was there.

Was it another Seronai like himself? It was wearing a mask like it (he could see this clearly, as its face was level with his own and no more than a meter away), and standing on two legs, albeit barely, as it was crouched very deeply, its right hand on the floor. It wore nothing but a furry skirt. The shadows made the mask look hollow, with only darkness staring back at him. What really caught his attention, though, was the creature’s fingers and toes. They were at least twice as long as his and those of any other person he’d ever seen. And it was so skinny.

It carried the fresh carcass of a Shelldeer on its back, answering his question as to what had made that awful smell.


Was it a child? It was the height of one. But its smell was unfamiliar. It was like the other Darkin, with the mask. But what was it holding? What was it wrapped up in? It looked like a child. It’s the only explanation. How did it get so far from the village? They should take it back to the village. It’s not safe out here.

The Miner

The Rokin Miner

Walking, like almost every other day, to the mines for work. This is usually where he met up with his friend and talked. His friend was a cartographer, and not a very busy one. He usually had time to chat in the morning. His maps always impressed the miner. The level of detail was sublime, and they were so easy to understand. The miner on multiple occasions came to the map maker for directions to various places in their subterranean web of tunnels they call The Lattice. One could, with only those maps, travel all the way from one end of their world to the other.

Today, the cartographer was nowhere in sight. In fact, the miner hadn’t remembered seeing him for a while. Government business? No, Sekin ran The Lattice’s government, but not all of them were politicians. He was probably on an expedition, recording one of the rare places unmapped by him. The miner laughed to himself. Where in caves could that be? He had a map for everywhere.

The walk seemed to take longer without the chatter of his friend to keep him company, but it wasn’t all that bad. The miner was around noise all day, whether it be the hissing of dissolving rocks in the mines, or just conversations of the other miners themselves. He had almost forgotten how nice silence was. He liked to take the out-of-the-way tunnel on the outskirts of his residential area to his work. It was, when his friend wasn’t around, the only place he could really think, or simply enjoy walking.

The Glowvines on the wall bathed the tunnel in a cool blue light. Dust and dirt particles drifted down from the ceiling. Eventually, he had arrived at the mines, west of and slightly deeper than where he lived. He set to work in his normal station. 

Like the other Rokin here, he could secrete a highly corrosive substance at will from his palms, giving his people the nickname ‘Acid-kin’. He used this mucous to dissolve rock until he found pockets of ore. He would carve out the ore and put it on the cart when it came around, and it would be brought eventually to the nearest Forge, where the Naikin forger would fashion it into whatever was needed.

It was a rather mindless job in itself, but he had to be careful. You would never know when you would suddenly stumble upon and fall into a natural shaft or pit, and have to wait for rescue. There were also pockets of toxic gases, or burrows of small animals. He had to constantly tap and check for hollow spots, especially now. He was in his favorite quiet shaft. It was the deepest one, out of the way of the main traffic and bustle of the main mine. Nobody would be down here but the ore cart, and that just passed, so it wouldn’t be back for a while.

After a little while of more digging, the miner decided to take a snack break. After all, all the acid mucus was was a way to remove waste and excess material from the body. It couldn’t be produced on an empty stomach.

While reaching for the morsel he packed in his bag, he shifted his weight. He heard a crack. He was so focused on the wall he was melting, he forgot to check the ground under his feet. Before he could think of what to do, he was plunged into the dark abyss hiding just underneath.