Chapter Twenty One: Lies (Part Two)
Lord Leshai and his new apprentice had finally arrived at the Sith’s sanctum within the Kaas City Citadel. Tash had not recovered fully from his fight at the Academy, and the long trek to the dwelling was not helping things. Stepping into the sanctum after his Lord, the Human gazed at the fascinating dwelling. Utterly simplistic in its form yet an extension of his master’s designs. Traditional Citadel architecture and furniture, accented with flowing red banners and tapestries. Tight halls and high ceiling stretching deeper into the compound, mysteries laying behind each new door.
“This is my home,” Leshai coldly stated. “By extension, it is yours as well. It does not, however, belong to you. Nothing here does. You’ll have access only to things you yourself have earned by your own merit. Until then, touch nothing.”
“Okay. Do I get a room?” Tash hesitantly asked.
Leshai paused as he stroked the fleshy tendrils hanging from his chin. “There is an empty office I have no use of. You may have that as a reward for your success at the Academy. There’s no furniture so you’ll be sleeping on the floor.”
“Can I at least take a shower?”
“Tomorrow I suppose, if only to prevent you from contaminating any of my belongings.”
“What about my stuff? We left the Academy before I could grab anything,” Tash explained.
“Assuming you haven’t been given a task, you may come and go at your leisure. Once the other students realize you are gone, I doubt they will honor any claims of ownership, so I suggest you retrieve what you want sooner rather than later.” Tash had no further objections, or rather, he had no desire to speak them. “Your room is down this hall. If you see a chamber with something inside of it, you’re in the wrong place. Goodnight.”
Lord Leshai slinked away without another word, leaving the apprentice in the foyer, tired and exhausted. As the Pureblood disappeared into the deeper halls of the sanctum, Tash began to search for his room. Slowly he ventured forth with a limping gait, the tip of his training saber dragging against the floor.
Passing through the dark halls, the Human came across his master’s study. The extensive room held an impressive catalogue of artifacts and collections unlike anything he had seen back at the Academy, and the shelves that lined the circular room still held room for future acquisitions.
One particular item caught the apprentice’s eye, a holocron of Sith make. The small pyramid shone with a crimson glow. Tash ignored all else, staring at the artifact, reaching out with his hand. Just as his fingers were about to grace the holocron, he recalled his hand, wary of his master’s words, and the possible consequences for defying them.
Instead, he was on his way, content with isolation. Content with nothing to his name. For now, at least. Tash eventually came to a completely empty room. Square, it’d be compact if not for the utter lack of furniture. Carefully, he laid his weapon down by the door before making his way to the room’s center. Cold, metallic walls surrounded him, closed in on him. He was alone. No possessions. No friends. No family.
As he lowered himself to the ground he struggled to find comfort in his position, but none the less he endured. And he would continue to endure for as long as it was necessary. And it would definitely be necessary.
The hours could not have passed any slower, even as Tash had managed to fall asleep. He dreamt of his years at the Academy, and their deadly culmination. He was haunted by the face of his former compatriot. He knew more trials lay ahead of him. He knew he’d have to be stronger if he wanted to survive. If he wanted to be a Sith.
Morning came, as much as morning could on Dromund Kaas. The Human was granted access to the sanctum’s bathroom where he attempted to cleanse himself of the events of the days prior. Stepping out of the shower, the apprentice realized the only clothes he possessed were coming apart at the seams. Everything else yet remained back at the Academy.
Tash readied himself for the day ahead before coming across his master in a seemingly deep meditative state. Just as it seemed as if nothing could get to him, the young Human heard the words of his master scratching at the walls of his mind. Lord Leshai was giving him permission to leave the sanctum, but required he be back at a specific time. Time was not on his side. Even in the event everything went smoothly, a trip to the Academy and back would leave little room to beat his master’s deadline.
The apprentice proceeded to his destination on foot, possessing no credits to expedite the procedure. Arriving at his former institution, the Human was filled with a peculiar feeling. Though he still wore the robes of an acolyte, everything seemed foreign. Like he didn’t belong there. The other students didn’t believe he did either. Had it not been for the careful interference of an overseer, Tash might have faced the deadly approach of students looking to put down someone lucky enough to escape the fate they remained attached to.
The apprentice returned to his old dwelling, a small room afforded to him as one of the upperclassmen. A comfortable bed, in retrospect. A trunk of personal belongings. Multiple sets of clean, pressed robes. Long he had looked upon the small room with disdain, thinking it unbefitting of someone destined for greatness. Now, he wanted nothing more than to have it back. Knowing what he had to return to, he figured that to be as good a solution as any.
Tash had gleaned from the occasional conversation the level of sway his master possessed with the Academy. Thus was born the apprentice’s first scheme. He wanted a room like he once had, and was going to have it. Specifically, he was going to have that exact one. Through a bit of guile, the young Human managed to convince the Academy officials to deliver his belongings to Lord Leshai’s sanctum, included the furniture he rightfully had no right to claim, with the promise of credits to be paid at a later date. As his first attempt, it was a simple play. He didn’t know if or when he would have any credits, or what the consequences were for abusing his master authority without his knowledge.
He was willing to take a little punishment if it meant getting what he wanted. Which was good, because there was punishment to be dealt upon his return to his master. He had missed the deadline of his return by ten minutes. He had expected an extra trial, some feat that would lead to his exhaustion or humiliation as per Academy standard. Instead, he witnessed the silent motion of his master extending his hand, and the quick flash as lightning arced from his fingertips and lashed out at his body.
The dark energy surged forth, wracking his insides as the lightning coursed through every fiber of his being. Time slowed as mere seconds of torture seemed endless. The attack was pure agony, doing no bodily damage, but brutally attacking every nerve and pain receptor it could find. The world grew dark, and Tash fell to his knees before the flat of his face collided with the ground.
He slowly came to, how long afterwards he did not know. Lord Leshai stood over him, ever the stoic, his piercing gaze refusing to relent. The Sith muttered something, or maybe he spoke plainly and the apprentice’s hearing had not yet recovered. Whether it was some catty remark or some profound words of wisdom, he would not know, nor ever know. But from that day forward, he vowed to never fail again.
But in time, he would come to fail again. With each new trial, there was some condition, some qualifier that despite his best efforts he could not achieve. And so he was punished. He would act too slowly. Shocked. He would finish too early. Shocked. He would scuff his Lord’s walls moving in his new furniture. Shocked. He would sneak a peek into his master’s archives. Shocked.
The pain never lessened. Lord Leshai had perfected the art. But Tash endured. He even grew stronger. He would come to understand pain. Though his master’s attacks forever yielded agony, he could defend himself against all others. Whereas in his early years at the Academy, the pain would deter him, now it only pushed him forward. Tash was motivated. He wanted to be stronger, and for the first time, he had undeniable proof that he was capable of achieving such. Before his first year of training under Lord Leshai had even completed, he had pushed his body past what he thought possible. He grew confident, confident enough to delve into his master’s artifacts and repositories despite the near infallible retaliations.
Each new day brought new training. New ways for Leshai to punish his apprentice. New ways to deprive him of what it was he desired. The Pureblood had sworn he wouldn’t give anything to his apprentice, and he had upheld his word. For any true Sith, must learn to take.