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Screelings were squat, hunched over creatures armed with long, wicked claws instead of fingers on each hand. Their eyes were black with a golden glitter. Terry Goodkind's description of a screeling in Stone of Tears depicts Screelings as "hardly more than a squat skeleton covered in a veneer of dry, crisp, blackened skin. Like a corpse that had dried in the sun for years...it was a thing of the underworld, and not hindered by all the frailties of life."
Screelings had a supernatural speed and strength, and could scale sheer surfaces and ceilings. The screeling was known for its incessant laughter, doing so even when being hacked to pieces. Screelings were unaffected by direct additive magic attacks; wizard's fire only makes them more deadly. They can only be defeated by being hacked to pieces, a feat which may be accomplished with extreme difficultly using weapons or using certain forms of Subtractive Magic. For instance, the Mother Confessor Kahlan Amnell is able to destroy screelings with blue lightning from her Con Dar.
A screeling's weakness is its vision. It only attacked people when they were standing still or were moving quickly. Anything moving at a slow, constant speed tends to be ignored by a screeling, or causes confusion for the screeling, causing its laughter to halt momentarily. Screelings learn quickly to rely on other senses, and would eventually learn to recognize the walking people as targets. Kahlan Amnell has speculated that screelings may have better vision in the dark, as they are beasts of the underworld.
Screelings were sighted on and off throughout history as laid down in prophecy and in song, showing that they not only appear when the veil is torn, but also at the behest of the Keeper, for whom they track and kill people. When the boxes of Orden, or the gateway, were opened, the Stone of Tears was sent into the world, undoing one of the locks to the Keeper's dungeon. A screeling was sent through the gateway shortly after its opening. Zedd speculated, after the screeling's defeat, that it was sent either to insure the Stone of Tears' safety or to kill any who interfered (or both). One was sent after Richard Rahl and Kahlan. Many more escorted a wizard to Agden's Reach to oust the witch woman, Shota, from her then current seat.
Song of the Screeling Edit
As appears in Stone of Tears:
The screelings are loose and the Keeper may win.
His assassins have come to rip off your skin.
Golden eyes will see you if you try to run.
The screelings will get you and laugh like it's fun.
Walk away slow or they'll tear you apart,
And laugh all day long as they rip out your heart.
Golden eyes will see you if you try to stand still.
The screelings will get you, for the Keeper they kill.
Hack 'em up, chop 'em up, cut 'em to bits
Or else they will get you while laughing in fits.
If the screelings don't get you the Keeper will try.
To reach out and touch you, your skin he will fry.
Your mind he will flail, your soul he will take.
You'll sleep with the dead, for life you'll forsake.
You'll die with the Keeper till the end of time.
He hates that you live, Your life is the crime.
The screelings might get you, it says so in text.
If the screelings don't get you the Keeper is next,
lest he who's born true can fight for life's bond.
And that one is marked; He's the pebble in the pond.
- Stone of Tears (First appearance)