Seronai part 2

Micah Ebstein, Staff writer

The Rokin Miner

On the cold stone floor, recovering from a fall. He didn’t sustain any injuries; fortunately, his bag had broken his fall. However, items in that bag were no longer intact. His food had been flattened by his weight, and his brand was left with a dent. The brand had been passed down from generation to generation. It supposedly belonged to his ancestor who was once the master of this district. If stories were true, this brand was used to sign many imperial documents.

After the transition from empire to a more localized municipal system, districts and their masters were no longer needed, and the aristocratic class of Seronai became equal to the commoners, or perhaps the commoners became equal to aristocrats. These official signet stamps stopped being used by district-masters and their houses, and became useless baubles. Nowadays, people can easily purchase a paperweight in the likeness of a brand.

But the drop in value did not affect the Miner’s view of it. His father and grandfather had been sincere when they spoke of their noble heritage. Their pride had rubbed off on the Miner and because of that, he liked to keep the brand with him to help motivate him with his work, representing the history of his bloodline.

It was a shame to have dented the heirloom, but more pressing matters were upon him now. He looked around. A single soft beam of blue-green light from a lantern above infiltrated the darkness from the mine that he fell from. Now, the light illuminated the space below where the Miner was now, like a spotlight on an actor. Dust settled, leaving the cavern utterly still and silent aside from the Miner’s heavy breathing. 

Several tunnels branched out from the walls, extending into a seemingly opaque blackness. The Miner knew the smartest thing to do would be to stay here and wait for the ore cart to come by his tunnel, but the instability of the cave ceiling that caused his fall eliminated that option.

He decided to get moving, lest the cave collapse. He pressed his hand against the wall of a tunnel and the acidic mucus produced from his hand created a hand-shaped indent. He walked slowly, and carefully down the tunnel. One hand making an acid trail on the wall, he tried to find a way out.


The Sekin Cartographer

Trying his best to hold on to the back of the strange creature as it skittered through dark, twisted tunnels, the deepcave-born Seronai climbed effortlessly and leaped from wall to wall, galloping on the floor. The Cartographer had to hold his mask against his face to keep it from falling off in the jostling ride. 

Eventually, the Hunter came to a stop. The Cartographer dropped from the crouched body and stumbled forward. He still felt like he was bouncing up and down. He found himself in a large, extremely dimly lit cavern. It’s better than no light though, thought the Cartographer. Shallow holes dotted the walls; he was surrounded by more of these tall, gaunt Seronai.

The silence of anticipation and curiosity was heavy as the crowd waited for the Cartographer to do something. Abruptly, attention shifted from him to the Hunter, who drummed his fingers and toes against the floor. There was a commotion that the Cartographer felt more than heard. It died away eventually into what he guessed was an equivalent of murmuring.

Almost unconsciously, the Cartographer presented his antennae to the Hunter. The Hunter did the same, and touched the Cartographer’s antennae with his own. This was a common greeting and one of the main forms of easy, quick communication among the people of the Lattice, and deepcave Seronai as well. They smelled each other’s emotions with their antennae. The Cartographer smelled mainly curiosity from the Hunter.

Even if they didn’t know each other’s languages, at least they had that as a foundation for communication.


The Darkin Hunter

Stepping back from the small Seronai. He smelled the loneliness and fear of one that is lost. He smelled the strangeness that he felt towards the Hunter and the rest of the Darkin Seronai. This must be one of those dwelling in the upper caves.

There were ancient stories about the upper caves, told by elders to children, and those children to their children and so on. According to the folktales, the Darkin themselves had come from the upper cave dwellers. In the Early Days, when the weather was just beginning to harshen and drive the Seronai underground, they had burrowed and made a nest for themselves. When their population grew, they expanded their nest. Eventually, some had the idea to expand downward, and they did so. But there is such a thing as too deep, or so they thought. Deep-dwelling predators were encountered, and this Deeplattice was so far from the more densely inhabited upper areas that food and protection was tough to transport. Eventually, the Deeplattice was forgotten about and had blocked them off from the upper parts of the Lattice over time by landslides.

The inhabitants of the Deeplattice, who didn’t leave their homes despite the obvious coming of the Abandonment, adapted. They mastered the darkness and the predators, gradually becoming into longer, skinnier creatures, more easily able to see in the blackness that surrounds them and climb on the jagged walls of their caverns and tunnels, the increasing disrepair of which they turned to their advantage.

Thus they became Darkin, kin of darkness, the silent hunters forgotten by the world above.

This was no place for an unexpecting upper-cave dweller. He would have to take him back to his home.

The Hunter tapped to his companions. He was taking the up-dweller to the nearest landslide to see if they could somehow get him through.