Skykeeps ( or Sky keeps) were gigantic floating fortresses created by the K'Chain Nah'ruk. These structures looked more or less like floating mountains. The could be found in either rooted (fixed to the ground) or uprooted (floating and steerable) configurations. The most famous among these skykeeps was Moon's Spawn which was appropriated by Anomander Rake as a home for his people.
In House of Chains
After the discovery of Moon's Spawn, Osseric spent time in the fortress studying it. He determined that Moon's Spawn had been one of the K'Chain Che'Malle's skykeeps and he withdrew from the world to continue his study of the alien mechanisms. From a Jaghut tower within a warren formed by Raraku's ancient memory, he observed a total of three skykeeps travel from the north to Seven Cities. None of their inhabitants survived contact with the continent's defenders, the Deragoth.
In Midnight Tides
Four Nah'ruk skykeeps were with the K'Chain Che'malle army that defended the Malazan world from the invading armies of Silchas Ruin and Scabandari Bloodeye. Companies of Tiste Andii and Tiste Edur assailed the floating fortresses to prevent them from coming to the aid of the K'Chain Che'Malle ground forces. Scabandari and Silchas, in their Soletaken Eleint forms, then brought the skykeeps crashing to the ground by unleashing the warrens of Starvald Demelain, Kurald Emurlahn, and Kurald Galain upon them.
In The Bonehunters
Adjunct Tavore Paran sent Quick Ben, Kalam Mekhar, and Gesler's squad ahead of the 14th Army to Y'Ghatan to gather intelligence. The group travelled via the Imperial Warren, but due to the problems with the Warrens travel was difficult and confusing. The sudden appearance of at least a dozen K'Chain Che'Malle Skykeeps in the air above led Quick Ben to immediately cancel the plan. The squad mage, Sands, announced the skykeeps had come from Chaos. Quick Ben brought the group back to the Malazan world to report the news to the Adjunct.
Icarium and Mappo Runt explored a vast chasm west of Raraku that had recently been exposed by a shifting of the sand. The two explorers climbed to the chasm's bottom where they found a K'Chain Nah'ruk mechanism, still containing the desiccated corpse of its pilot, within a pool of melting Omtose Phellack ice. Mappo realised they had found the entrance to a K'Chain Nah'ruk Skykeep that had mistakenly travelled through a gate into solid bedrock. Tales among the Nameless Ones indicated that an invasion of skykeeps had arrived on the Malazan world long ago when Human society existed only as small bands. But some opposition by the Jaghut, the Forkrul Assail, or the Elder Gods had driven them away from Seven Cities.
The Trell found the skykeep's entrance and the pair explored the alien structure. In the first cavernous room were three more of the giant spider-like vehicles. Despite their great antiquity, their nearly white metal was free of corrosion. The metal became transparent when looked upon and inside was a padded seat and a lever control mechanism for the pilot.
Dust-filled passages and empty storerooms marked by faded symbols led to an arched portal protected by a shimmering barrier. The barrier instantaneously cleaned any who passed through it. In the skykeep's immense hollow centre, was a fortress floating in space, reached only by a single stone span. A second span had crumbled and its remains floated in pieces about the chamber, which appeared to have no gravity. Tiered buildings with dark windows rose along the inside wall of the hollowed chamber.
In Reaper's Gale
Silchas Ruin, Seren Pedac, Fear Sengar, Udinaas, Kettle, and the Shadow wraith Wither followed the South Jasp River up into the Bluerose Mountains. There they discovered the remains of a vertical fortress carved into the stone of the entire mountainside. The Acquitor believed the large gaping windows, shattered balconies, metopes, cornices, and friezes too worn to make out were signs that an ancient city had once stood there. There was still evidence of some massive collision that seemed to have obliterated the city in a single blow, sending rubble down the slopes. Ruin identified the place as the beginnings of a K'Chain Che'Malle skykeep from an early time when they were still open to the air rather than sealed defensively within stone. Most of the other mountains from which the K'Chain Che'Malle had carved their skykeeps lay beneath the waves following the collapse of Omtose Phellack. This city had been destroyed by the powerful Starvald Demelain sorcery of at least a dozen dragons. Wither revealed that the dragons had acted against the K'Chain Che'Malle to stop them from vengefully annihilating all existence as their race slid into extinction.
The group passed through the skykeep navigating a maze of tunnels, ascending inclines, and spiralling ramps for most of an entire night. At one point they discovered a room curving up to a dome, whose walls were carved with overlapping scales. Ruin attributed the lack of vermin within the structure to a clever vent and tubing system designed by the K'Chain Nah'ruk's to create perturbing sounds audible only to bats, insects, and rodents. Within the ruins they found a multi-room mosaic floor depicting the slaughter of a civil war between the long-tails and short-tails, with the long-tails doing most of the dying. The deaths of individual champions were recorded, whom Ruin identified to Udinaas as "Fouled K'ell, Naw'rhuk A'dat and Matrons".
In Dust of Dreams
Damisk passed through the Beast Hold into an unknown realm where he found a world seemingly devoid of animal life other than what appeared to be Great Ravens flocking around four K'Chain Che'Malle skykeeps that floated overhead. He was forced to hide while looking for food when hundreds of two-legged K'Chain Che'Malle returned overland bearing butchered carcasses. He was soon spotted by one of the "Great Ravens" who were revealed to actually be a flying species of K'Chain Che'Malle which had skin-taut wings and fanged heads. The two-legged hunters, now bearing swords and long spears, pursued him to a pedestal in a clearing where an enormous grey-skinned god in chains was kept imprisoned. The god killed many of the K'Chain Che'malle with its six arms which bore a bow and an array of stone weapons. After Damisk freed the god, he fell unconscious. When he awoke, the god was gone and the four skykeeps had been shattered and destroyed and the corpses of the K'Chain Che'Malle lay in piles. Damisk assumed the god had been long ago chained by his worshippers to circumscribe his wrath, and he had been helpless to prevent the K'Chain Che'Malle from ravaging his world.
Notes and references
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.783-784
- House of Chains, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.687
- Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.19-20
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.142/146-147
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.193-194
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.148-154
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.152-153
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.162-165
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.163-165
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.167
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 2, US HC p.52-53
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 2, US HC p.70
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 3, US HC p.99
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 4, US HC p.99
- Dust of Dreams, Chapter 24
- The God is Not Willing, Chapter 10, US HC p.163-172/174