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The Academy: Acolyte Ascension


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Osetto
04.23.2012 , 09:07 PM | #21
Chapter Eighteen: Happenings

Lorrik and Jresh had lived a full, eventful day. For once, Jresh had no aversion to a little bit of rest for himself and his companion. The two acolytes filled out the remainder of their day with tasks of the mundane. Lorrik did a little bit of light cooking. Jresh studied his partner’s action and reflected upon his own thoughts. Their day continued with little in the way of intrigue. But whilst the duo rested, the rest of the Academy remained constantly in motion.

----------

At the requisitions counter in the bowels of the Academy, the quartermaster unwrapped a boxed meal in front of him. The Human lifted the white folds of the flexible container and laid his eyes upon the delicious foodstuffs that rested inside the unremarkable box. Using the disposable utensil that came with the meal, the quartermaster poked and prodded the various foods inside, examining what rested beside and underneath each item. Stabbing at one of the round balls of dough, the quartermaster skewered the sweet dumpling. The Human’s usually dulled expression changed to a pleasant surprise as he took a bite.

“What are you eating?” an approaching Human asked. Stopping in front of the quartermaster, the tender of the counter looked up to see his twin brother, the weapons master. The two Humans matched each other in overall appearance, including image and demeanor. The two tenders of the Academy underhalls were still in their youth, resting between the typical student and typical instructor in age.

“Don’t know,” the quartermaster admitted. “Some kind of cooked dough. Tastes sweet. Everything here looks sweet. Not sure the guy knows how to make anything but deserts and sweet stuffs.”

“What guy?”

“The one I sent to you to get me my saber.”

“Oh, the one you sent with the… uh… messed up face?”

“I thought he got those bruises after meeting with you.”

“Nope, came to me asking for your weapon, bleeding all over my workplace.”

“You work next to the dueling circles, it was meant to be bled all over.”

“Beside the point. Made me think you had beaten one of the students into doing your errands.”

“He wasn’t just another student. Didn’t you see his robes? Better yet, didn’t you recognize his face when he and his fellows got their personal training sabers?”

“Again… messed up face. Plus, I make a point to never commit any of the students to long term memory. If I did, I’d just end up holding grudges against the majority of punks that came my way.”

“The students that intolerable?”

“Well you know them. They’re not any different over here are they?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“Thank the Emperor, I thought being near the dueling circles gave them a case of the stupids.”

“Come on, we were young once. Students who had the same indignant attitude toward everyone around us on our journey to ‘power’.”

“Then we got stuck with these positions.”

“Better than being dead, which in all likelihood was a very real possibility for us.”

“Meh.”

“At least we have access to Academy supplies, even all the way down here,” the quartermaster admitted, taking another bite of his meal.

“Speaking of which, how do you like your saber?” the weapons master inquired.

“Haven’t really had a chance to test it out. Been stuck here. How’s progress on yours coming along?”

“Went back to the drawing board, did some redesigns, thinking of doing something different.”

“What?”

“What?”

“Why would you pick a different design? I thought we were going to both try using a lightsaber pike.”

“Well, I was messing around with yours before your lackey came to pick it up, and it didn’t really suit my combat style.”

“That wasn’t the point. When do we ever have to actually combat anything. I thought we were just doing it to stand out. Keep ourselves entertained. Be different.”

“Now you’re the only one here with one. You’re unique.”

“I don’t want to be unique. I wanted us to be unique. Now I’m just going to be the target of all the snide comments over an unorthodox lightsaber.”

“Oh, so if we both were the targets of snide comments, it would have been totally okay…”

“Yes! We would be brothers, using these awesome weapons.”

“Which we wouldn’t actually be using.”

“No, wait, that was MY point.”

“Well, for now, at least you’ll have something in common with the Imperial Guardsmen stationed throughout the Academy. Although, from what I’ve noticed, only the honor guard seem to use pikes. The ones who actually fight use something more resembling a double-ended saberstaff.”

“Great, that’s all I need is flak from those guys. ‘Oh take our ceremonial weapon and put a laser on the end of it’.”

“You seriously think that’s how those guys view our lightsabers?” the weapons master inquired.

“They’re not Force-sensitive. There’s got to be some strange feelings amongst them whilst they dedicate their lives defending the Dark Council and all the students running around the Academy.”

“Yeah, but they're conditioned to throw away their lives for us ‘betters’. They might take it as a sign of respect. Usher in a brand new venture in peaceful relations between us Force-sensitives and the ‘normals’.”

“Those guys are anything but normal. I mean they’re trained to kill anything, even Sith. They’re the Emperor’s chosen.”

“That’s a shame. They have every reason to feel superior, and yet they’re quiet and obedient. Wish that was the norm around here.”

“Just ignore the troublesome students, I mean, honestly, what can they do beyond offering an ungrateful comment here and there. Ignoring the actual status of the lower classrooms, we still technically outrank the acolytes, so they're bound by the Academy rules. And not the ones that go away once everyone closes their eyes and turns their heads,” the quartermaster explained, mouth full of food.

“So there’s obviously a story with this food…” the weapons master prodded.

“Yeah, made a deal with an acolyte, Lorrik, you know, one of the students Lord Syrosk snatched up. Nice guy. You’d like him. Doesn’t do that think those other acolytes do.”

“Be annoying?”

“Yeah, that. At least, from my conversations with him. He wanted some extra supplies beyond the allotted provisions. Says he interested in cooking. He fetched me my saber and promised to make a meal once in a while. And if this is what he can do with the typical stuff, I can’t wait to see what he makes with some nonstandard ingredients.”

“So it’s come to this. We’re so dissatisfied with our jobs that we’re getting our kicks out of something as menial as new foodstuffs every once in a while.”

“If you’d like I could ask him to make you some,” the quartermaster suggested. The weapons master stared at his brother with a long, drawn out stare that bordered on a scowl. He eventually looked down with a heavy sigh.

“Fine. Might as well get something out of him, before… well, you know…”

“What?”

“Taken by a Sith Lord or not… no one leaves the classrooms…”

----------

With the day fading into night, the students of Lord Syrosk retired as they completed their training. Following the departure of Jresh and Lorrik, the other pairs repeated the exercise of spirit, throwing themselves at their immobile master who bombarded them with oppressing telekinetic forces. With only three of the four duos remaining, the Sith Lord’s focus intensified, bringing his students to their knees in no time at all, and forcing them to draw upon even greater strength than before.

The next pair to succeed was Isorr and Arlia. The Zabrak endured his master’s test, and eventually laid hands on Syrosk with the aid of his partner. The next to succeed was Kar’ai and Ryloh, the two inching forward together with one advancing after the next and supporting one another along the way. Eventually, through strife and perseverance, Nesk and Vurt completed the challenge. With no visible signs of the duo helping one another, it appeared that the brutal warrior and inquisitor moved forward of their own accord, utterly selfish in their determination, each simultaneously laying a hand on their watching master.

What would have normally prompted a scolding from their master for not accomplishing a goal in the prescribed way, was accepted without a word. In the end, Syrosk could not deny the success of the stubborn pair. The purpose of the challenge was to test the students’ spirit and resolve, and it was thoroughly tested. As the last duo left his presence, Syrosk stood amongst the slowly falling Korriban sun. His cloak slowly wafted in the flowing winds, tickled by the dust that swirled beneath him. In silence matching the scenery, the Sith Lord walked the winding path back toward the Academy by his lonesome.

Passing through the main halls of the Academy toward his residence, the alien Lord possessed a pace similar to that of a sluggish march. His eyes eternally directed forward, he offered little attention to the Imperial officers and fellow Sith that populated the areas near his dwelling. Garnering little esteem from his compatriots, Syrosk possessed little incentive for conversation. About to turn down a hall, a hastily approaching figure managed to catch his attention.

“Syrosk!” the borderline exhausted Human called out, drifting between certainty and hesitance. The Sith Lord halted his pace, and directed his sharp gaze toward the speaker. He was garbed in official robes, those of one of the Academy instructors.

“Yes, can I help you?” Syrosk stoically asked.

“Are you aware of the actions your students’ have recently carried out in my classroom?” the Human inquired, bordering on an accusatory tone.

“That all depends on your definition of ‘aware’, however, given your tone I can only assume you disapprove of some of the actions taken by my student’s during their free time. Am I correct in assuming such?”

The instructor’s face twisted into a thing of hate, nostrils flaring as he stared up into the alien’s cold eyes. “They never should have been pulled from the classrooms in the first place, but one of your students you took from us returned!”

“So which is it instructor? Should they be there or not?” Syrosk asked, raspy voice oozing with snark. “You really ought to make up your mind.”

“Do not get smart with me cur!” the Human said with a hushed shout. “You have no right to be here. You have no right to interfere.”

“What’s done is done,” Syrosk bluntly stated. “I have no further interest in yours or the other classrooms in the underhalls.”

“Really? Because that obviously isn’t true of your new students.”

“Well… this does, in fact, come as a surprise,” Syrosk admitted, almost taking an interest in the instructor’s words. “Well, go ahead and speak your mind.”

“One of your students, the Pureblood, barged into my classroom in the middle of a session.”

“You certainly had the power to make an example of him, did you not?”

“He spoke to me, said he was acting as an agent of a Sith Lord’s will, said that he needed some alone time with a student of mine. At first, I didn’t recognize his robes…”

“Are you implying that a Sith spoke a mistruth? Surely you jest, instructor,” Syrosk joked, completely deadpan.

“The actions of you and your new ‘students’ are a mockery of this institution!”

“It is not us who are the mockery,” Syrosk coldly rasped. “Pray tell, what exactly did my student accomplish after you bent yourself to his will out of fear of retaliation from some unknown Lord?”

“He deliberately beat down four students.”

“Any fatalities?”

“N… no.”

“Then honestly, instructor, I am not comprehending the source of your contiguous ire.”

“There are rules in place. And as bendable as those rules are, it is done in ways founded in tradition. It is not the place of an acolyte to strike against his fellow in front of an instructor.”

“I was under the impression that you were absent during the event.”

“He informed me that-”

Syrosk leaned in close. “So which was it instructor… were you an imbecile, or a coward? You either fell victim to a ruse out of ignorance or fear. Tell me, do you know the reason why your students were assaulted? Hmm? I wager toward the option of no, you did not. You made a bad judgment, don’t act as if you are owed anything from me, whether it be an apology or an explanation. My student showed capability. He showed strength defeating four acolytes. He show intelligence outwitting an instructor. He showed determination following through with these actions of his own accord, on his free time, after his training for the day had finished. Tell me, what is it that you truly feel? Is it anger? Fear? That I plucked a student from the sea of utter worthlessness that persists in the classrooms of you and the other instructors? That within a few days my student has progressed to a point of overshadowing anything you could produce? Is it my student that you take issue with? Or is it me? Raging against the mere prospect that some alien, some debased life form that hasn’t been ‘touched by the great Sith peoples’, is capable of creating something of greatness? Tell me.”

“These students were never meant for greatness! And you knew that! These classrooms, these teachings, they served a specific purpose. These acolytes, they weren’t meant to be true Sith. They are tools. Meant to be utilized by a Sith of actual worth. They had a specific purpose, to be used against the Jedi. To throw their lives away. Aliens. Slaves. Impurities. Blights on the good name of the Sith Empire. Then you came along and start pulling ‘warriors’ and ‘inquisitors’ from the refuse. You are actively working against the war effort-”

The instructor’s speech was immediately cut off. He felt an unseen force softly clenching itself around his throat. Slowly, the pressure spread to his torso. Then his limbs. The instructor found himself unable to move a single portion of his body, all while the Sith Lord continued to cast an intense stare into his eyes.

“The war… what do you know of the war?” Syrosk muttered, showing the first, but still slight, sign of emotion. His voice growled and his eyes sharpened. “You dare speak to me of rules and traditions? You’ve done nothing but walk around this Academy, pushing students toward their inevitable deaths. You are weak, and take solace in the fact that the only people you encounter on a daily basis are even weaker than yourself. All it took was one individual, one student, to display a genuine feat of strength and the fragile world you’ve built for yourself comes crumbling down. And as you look at the shards that lie piled at your feet, you don’t know how to respond. All you know is fear. Fear of strength. Fear of power. You… you are not Sith. I have seen the past, through the code, through the histories, through the struggles. I have seen the present, through the battlefield, through the conflict, through the war. I have seen the future… You and your kin have your intentions. Now, I possess my own. I am doing what is best for the Sith. What is best for the Empire. Now, if in the future, you wish to challenge me or my students again, gather yourself some actual fortitude and actually CHALLENGE us!”

Syrosk released his grip on the instructor, causing him fall forward and struggle to catch his breath. Breathing heavily and clutching at his chest, the instructor snarled as Lord Syrosk continued his journey home.

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Osetto
04.30.2012 , 07:03 PM | #22
Chapter Nineteen: Progressions

Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Five, Entry Three.

Today was a brand new day of training, seemingly in more ways than one. Our meeting with the master was surprisingly different this time. It seems as if he possessed a little something extra inside of him. A certain determination. A presence of emotion. I think he’s starting to recognize all of us as his students. Forgoing his usual monologue preceding the issuing of tasks, Lord Syrosk seemed utterly focused on putting us through our rounds. Maybe he was going easy on us for the first few days.

Then again, he did say that the first couple of tests were for his benefit instead of ours. Maybe the time has come in which he plans to test our limits, push us forward or cast us aside as he narrows his choices on who to take on as his apprentice. It would seem that from this point forward, we’ll have our work cut out for us. It’s funny, usually I’d abhor the prospect. But I find myself welcoming the upcoming challenges, even the physical ones. I guess Jresh is starting to get through to me.

And today’s challenge was certainly physical. A dual duel. With a few tricks thrown in…


----------

The eight students of Lord Syrosk stood in their respective pairs atop the usual trainings grounds the group usually utilized. As they stood rigid, trying their hardest to keep their stance upright, they looked forward at their master with beads of sweat beginning to form across their brows.

“My students,” Syrosk began, “you currently wear, upon your wrists and ankles, weighted bands, designed to limit your mobility. You will be forced to carry these burdens for the remainder of the day, and they will certainly play an important role in the upcoming test, which will be a series of duels. Two against two. You and your partner will be tested on your ability to combine your abilities, and defend against two opponents.”

“Heed my words, students. This is the start of a new type of training. Before, you would be tested by the merits of your body, or your mind, or your spirit. No more. No more will such aspects of your person be separate. From this day forth, every exercise will test the entirety of what defines you. As students. As acolytes. As Sith. And you WILL be tested. Every mistake you make could lead you to your death. Your instructors in years passed have been lax, incapable of producing anything of true worth. Now, the time has come to break you down and rebuild you, over and over, until you are worthy of apprenticeship. Shall we begin?”

The rigid students offered neither positive nor negative responses. Lord Syrosk offered a quick, low chortle at his students apparent dismay toward their weighted limbs. Burdening metallic weights clamped over the acolyte’s usual gear, heavy enough to even affect the usually steadfast Trandoshan. A fact that brought further delight to the Sith Lord.

“Nesk and Vurt. Since you were last to complete yesterday’s challenge, you will be the first to duel. Now… who should you face?” Syrosk asked of no one in particular. Lorrik saw Jresh’s eyes narrow eagerly awaiting his master’s answer as if possessing a preference. The Pureblood seemed to desire a particular matching, rather than wanting to go first.

“Isorr and Arlia. Step forward,” Syrosk called out. “You four will compete.”

A smile surfaced on Jresh’s face. Lorrik was particularly confused with his partner’s behavior.

“Hmm, figured you’d want another shot at Isorr,” Lorrik admitted.

“Oh, I do,” Jresh confirmed. The Human puzzled for a moment before being interrupted by his master.

“Given the limited mobility you will be experiencing, there’s no need to limit ourselves to the use of the dueling circle. Therefore, the other four acolytes will duel as well,” Syrosk explained. “Ready yourselves. The duel is finished when your opponents are forced to the ground. However, in order to be declared the winner, both opponents must lie on the ground simultaneously.”

The two groups of four made their ways to separate ends of the cliff before the pairs put a short distance between them and their opponents.

----------

All eight students engaging in combat at the same time, there was no time for passive observations, only the intense focus to be laid upon one’s foe. And meanwhile, Lord Syrosk would be watching all of us simultaneously. Keeping track of our movements and techniques, it would take someone of sufficient training to perceive such a chaotic scene. Then again, maybe he was done with in-depth analysis, and just wanted to stand back and watch us wail on each other. But somehow I doubt that, given the Sith Lord’s habits. He presents himself like someone utterly sure of himself and others. Little seems to pass by him without acknowledgement. Then again, the stunt Jresh pulled would be hard to miss by any instructor.

In the beginning, I thought Jresh would have wanted nothing more than to face Isorr in combat, entering without the injury that inhibited him before. If our pairs were grouped, we could combat them fresh, without the weights and duels striking us from the peak of our performances. Since we had to go through Kar’ai and Ryloh first, however, there was no way to ensure that. Except for one.


----------

Lorrik and Jresh stood side by side, facing their opponents who did the same. Unable to break their gazes from one another, the four acolytes drew their training sabers and adopted their respective stances. Bearing the same movements as their first duel under Syrosk, each acolyte had little time or reason to modify their combat techniques. As the winds of the high cliffs bustled, the students were ready to begin their duels.

“Lorrik, I’m going to have to ask you to follow my lead,” Jresh whispered to his companion.

“Well, I was planning on doing that anyway,” Lorrik joked.

“I just don’t want you to be too surprised.”

The conversation between the two acolytes was cut short by the immediate call to begin by their master a short distance away. Jresh wasted nary a moment to make his way toward his opponents. Kar’ai matched the Pureblood’s haste step for step. The two warriors clashed at the midway point between the two inquisitors. Lorrik was unsure of how to proceed.

Given Jresh’s request, he thought to charge Ryloh, but the Twi’lek remained on the far side of the dueling space, preparing himself for whatever future actions might unfold. Pressing forward, Lorrik saw Ryloh match his movements. As the two inquisitors drew ever closer, they remained on the defense, neither bringing their saber against the other. Glancing over to his partner, Lorrik saw Jresh locking his saber with Kar’ai’s, each pushing forward. Looking over for but a moment, Jresh offered only a nod of his head.

Propelling himself backwards, Jresh unlocked himself from the clash. To the shock of both his partner and his opponents, Jresh continued backwards, falling, until he lay upon his back atop the dusty grounds. The other three combatants were momentarily stunned, as Lorrik processed that his companion had no intention of rising. Suddenly, the Human saw the subtle movement of Jresh’s hand, commanding him to fall as well. Understanding the Pureblood’s previous words, Lorrik followed, falling upon the ground will little more than the wind affecting him. Kar’ai and Ryloh continued their puzzled countenance as Syrosk quickly declared them the winners a short distance away.

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Jresh did have his eyes set on Isorr. And only on Isorr. He knew that with duels separating their conflict, it was inevitable that the fights would begin to take a toll on the warriors’ resolves. Jresh wanted to be fresh when he eventually faced the Zabrak, and knew he could ensure that by throwing the fight. He seemed willing to accept defeat, at least in the eyes of Syrosk, if it meant furthering his own goals. Isorr meanwhile, was utterly too prideful to adopt such a course of action.

Honestly, I’m proud of Jresh. It reminds me of the conversation we had, on the cliffs after our first defeat. He took it somewhat hard. Then again I had just truck him across the chest and insured his defeat not too long beforehand, but the man was, and is, determined to win. It was I who tried to convince him that an untrue defeat is still a defeat in the eyes of our master. Funny how he turned that around on me.

“True victory lies not after a single battle.”

It’s amazing how different he could be, yet remain dedicatedly the same. It makes me happy to see it. I was beginning to wonder what our extended consequences on each other would be. I was afraid that neither of us might be the person we were entering into this pairing. But now I see, that remarkable individuals can survive this Academy without being forced to abandon what they think, what they believe. I can still gain strength, knowledge, understanding, and not compromise what makes me, me.

As short as our duel was, the other two groups continued for some time. We watched from the sidelines, while Kar’ai and Ryloh conversed out of earshot. The Twi’lek seemed relieved to have escape unscathed, and the Rattataki didn’t seem to admonish or reject her partner’s feelings. I’m almost disappointed our duel didn’t last longer. I would have loved to gain some insight into their behavior. Combat has a way of revealing such things.

When the other four did finish, Syrosk organized a new set of duels, without commenting on any of our performances. He declared that the victor would face the victors, whilst the losers face the losers. This meant we had another duel between us and Isorr. It was about then that I realized that I would soon be facing Arlia yet again. I didn’t harbor any real feelings of animosity. And I doubt she thinks of me the same way that Isorr and Jresh think of one another.

I’d like to think we have a rivalry, but her feelings of superiority seem to propagate an utter dismissal of those she views as below her. Isorr is similar. However, with him, I get impression that he views others as nothing more than objects, tools, or pests. Arlia seems to acknowledge the inherent worthiness of humanity and sentience present in others. I’d say this gives her a wider spectrum with which to affect those around her. She feels, and understands the feelings of others. A positive trait. However, her ability to manipulate those facets to her benefit is remarkably dangerous.

But we still had to get through Nesk and Vurt before we could face our rivals. Jresh seemed intent on continuing his strategy. It seems the monstrous pair was too focused on their previous duel to have broken away to catch a glimpse at our prior antics, as they possessed the same stupefied expression when we did it again. It was quite amusing, I must admit, seeing Nesk doing his usual snarly emoting when presented with something he didn’t understand. Vurt on the other hand, remained the expressionless, cold, brutal figure he always was, though I could have sworn he raised an eyebrow at the events that took place in front of him.

Once again, Syrosk declared our opponents the victor, without a comment directed toward our actions. Given the ridiculousness of our surrendering to two duels, I tried my hardest not to make eye contact with our master, but when I did make an errant glance over to him, I saw that he bore no inherent signs of disappointment. In fact, it seemed like he just wanted to understand our motives, and what we were ultimately hoping to accomplish. The next duel, he got his answer.


----------

For the third time, Lorrik and Jresh found themselves standing opposite a new pair of opponents. The last swap, the final duel in this series was to begin in a short moment, to the delight of Jresh. Across from the pair, Isorr and Arlia looked to be standing ready and able to compete, but the signs of exhaustion were beginning to show. Lorrik studied Arlia closely. Having fallen to her trickery before, he made important note of the differences in her stance between now and the faux-exhaustion she displayed in their previous duel. It was the genuine thing. Meanwhile, Lorrik and Jresh stood resolute, ready to proceed at peak efficiency.

“Looks like it’s time for a rematch, Isorr,” Jresh plainly stated.

“You think I didn’t notice what you were doing, Jresh?” Isorr shot back, noticeably angered with his predicament.

“It makes no difference whether you are aware or not. I still intend to defeat you this day,” Jresh explained.

Isorr sharpened his gaze, staring down the Pureblood. “What will that prove? You still lost two of your duels. You can’t statistically come ahead.”

“Today was never about statistics. Today, I will strike you down, and we will be even. We will enter combat, one of us at a disadvantage, just as before. Once this has been settled, we can begin our training in earnest.”

Lorrik and Arlia watched their partners go back and forth. Arlia was intent on not allowing herself to waste any more energy on pointless banter, and Lorrik was intent on allowing Jresh to receive the full satisfaction of what he had set out to do that day.

----------

In the end, all Isorr and Arlia had to do was lie down, use our own trick against us. Then, we wouldn’t able to experience the satisfaction of beating them in a proper duel. What they lost would be made up in the fact that our entire ruse was for not, and we effectively wasted a day of training, possibly earning the ire of our master. They just had to take a step back, and remove themselves from the monumental pride that drove their every action. Jresh and I, however, knew better.

They did not disappoint.

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Osetto
05.16.2012 , 08:31 PM | #23
Chapter Twenty: Falls

Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Six, Entry Four.

Woke up this morning in a peculiar state. My mind was swarming with competing positive and negative emotions. Lord Syrosk ordered that we keep the weighted bands from yesterday’s training on the whole day, saying we could take them off at midnight. There was no threat if we didn’t, and no way for him to know within the privacy of our rooms, and yet we kept them on. Maybe we didn’t want to risk offending him with more deviant behavior considering our handling of the duels yesterday. Then again, he didn’t seem to mind how we handled them. After we won our duel with Arlia and Isorr, we delved into advanced saber training, focusing on refining our individual styles. Never did he speak ill of our actions. Rarely did he speak at all, unless to impart upon us some martial wisdoms. So we trained until we were sore. I went to bed, fully garbed and weighted down. Managed to forget about it overnight. Woke up in a heavy stupor. Feel embarrassed thinking about it.

Yesterday was a bit of fun for me and Jresh. We set out to accomplish a singular goal for the sole purpose of pride. If we’re going to improve, we’re going to have to be beaten down, face resistance, adapt. We took an easy route the other day to accomplish our goal, something I hadn’t thought possible of Jresh. Do I think it was a mistake? Not in the slightest. We’re in for a marathon of training. Forgoing a couple of duels isn’t going to inhibit us. In the end, I think it’ll prove to have been a good choice. While we may have missed out on a small bit of physical trauma, I think we struck a mental blow to our rivals. We showed that we are determined. That we will not back down if challenged. We beat Arlia and Isorr. They’ll have to live with that fact, no matter the circumstances.

But the circumstances are what allowed us to do what we did. Today’s trial did not allow for one iota of hesitation, indetermination, or fault.


----------

As the students of Lord Syrosk gathered once more for their day of training, there was much amiss. In the student’s positions. In their numbers. Instead of their usual spot atop the traditional cliff, the four inquisitors stood at the base of the ridge, at the bottom of the sheer cliff face they had oft looked over in previous days. The four students stood alone, their partners and master absent, gazing upward at the precipitous peak. Side by side, the acolytes stood focused and patient, embodying the archetype they had studied before their tutelage under the Sith Lord.

“I sincerely hope this isn’t the master’s way of punishing us for yesterday’s stunt,” Lorrik muttered, not breaking his upward gaze.

“Us who? Us us, or you and your companion?” Arlia snidely asked, also not breaking her upward gaze.

“Well, I was thinking me and Jresh,” Lorrik said. “But considering we’re all doing this, I’d guess this is just another one of his training methods.”

The female Twi’lek let out a singular, sarcastic chuckle. “Yes, a Sith Lord would never zealously overreach when designing a punishment for a particular person.”

“If this was designed to punish me it was poorly conceived. I’m probably the most likely to succeed in this task,” Lorrik nonchalantly stated.

“Ugh. I liked you more when you were pitifully timid,” Arlia replied.

“If it means anything, I like you pretty much the same amount as I always have,” Lorrik offered, completely deadpan.

“I don’t know if I should be worried by that statement,” Arlia muttered.

“You needn’t worry about me harboring feelings for you, I’d sooner find companionship in Ryloh,” Lorrik plainly admitted.

The male Twi’lek broke his upward gaze to look toward the Human. “Thank… you?”

“You simply haven’t had any profound impact on me Arlia,” Lorrik stated.

“You know that’s not true,” Arlia countered.

“Do I? Do you?” Lorrik asked, testing his fellow inquisitor. “I don’t hate you as much as you might like me to. Then again, I don’t hate much of anything.”

Arlia offered a playful scoff. “What is a Sith without hate?”

The Human offered a slight shrug. “Whatever. Try not to slip up on your test.”

“You don’t have to worry about me,” Arlia admitted. “The others maybe, but not me.”

“You’re right,” Lorrik muttered. “Ryloh, you may want to take a step away from Vurt. If he fails, it could get messy for you.”

The blue Twi’lek looked to his left to see the orange Nikto staring upward with his traditional scowl, completely ignoring whatever banter proceeded around him.

Standing atop the cliff, ever so close to the precipitous edge, the warriors stood with their master staring them down. Despite the more traditional training local, the warriors managed to outclass the inquisitors in peculiarity. They stood with their backs to the cliff’s edge, where their partners awaited them directly below, roughly a hundred meters of height separating them. Their stance was utterly and completely rigid, with their hands by their sides and their feet together, though not particularly by their own volition. This was due to each of the warriors being bound, from their chest to their knees, in tightly wound rope.

“Warriors, you stand here today… with your life not held in my hands, as you might have oft thought, but in the hands of your partners,” Syrosk explained with his usual cold, raspy delivery. “They were inquisitors in their training before mine. I shan’t depart from that formula. It was their purpose, to harness the raw energies of the Force. To rend enemies asunder with only their minds, sapping the life out of a foe before they could even draw their saber. The Force, however… the dark side, requires something extra to maximize on potential. The inquisitor must be driven, thriving off of emotions. The inquisitor must be dedicated, understanding exactly how much they must give to accomplish a task. They must appreciate… the consequences of failure. Unfortunately, it is rather hard to instill these axioms in the mind of the inquisitor. Therefore, in order to prompt them to reach their fullest potential, we’re going to give them a little push… by giving you a little push. Now, do we have any volunteers?”

The warriors were understandably silent. A creeping look of indecision graced the faces of the acolytes. Their heels all but hinged on the edge of the cliff, their backs to the treacherous fall that awaited them. Suddenly, one of the warriors mustered up the courage to speak.

“I… I volunteer,” Kar’ai meekly stated, struggling to call upon her usual boisterousness.

“Ah, for a moment I was almost disappointed in you. I was sure the tumultuous Kar’ai would want to go first, and you did not disappoint. It matters not, however. That was just a little something for me. You don’t actually get to decide who goes first,” Syrosk rasped.

“Then who does?” Kar’ai asked.

“I do,” Syrosk plainly stated.

“No, I meant, who goes first?” Kar’ai clarified.

“Oh, no one goes first,” Syrosk answered. The warriors puzzled for but a moment before they saw their master quickly jut his hand forward, sending the four over the cliff’s edge with a Force push.

The acolytes fell backward and began their accelerated plummet toward their partners below. At the ridge’s base, the inquisitor’s caught sight of the falling figures. The Korriban sun above them, the students had the luxury of standing in the cliff’s shade, allowing them to fully concentrate on catching their partners. Unanimously the inquisitors stretched their hands upward, attempting to slow their partners’ decent with the Force. The warriors, utterly bound and unable to break free, were forced to rely on the proficiency of their companions to save them from death as they fell head first toward the rocky canyon below.

Lorrik, like his fellows, was completely concentrated on his goal. Invisible waves of Force emanated from his palms, surging upward toward Jresh, pressing against him, embracing and wrapping around his body in its entirety. Though the Pureblood showed signs of slowing, the weight and momentum of his fall pressed back against the inquisitor, straining his hands, his mind, and his focus. Jresh meanwhile, adopted a serene visage, closing his eyes and slowing his breath, as if resigning his fate to his companion.

The warriors closed in on the grounds below, however, most of them were sufficiently slowed. The aberrant team was that of Vurt and Nesk. Though slowed to the point of survival, the Vurt was unable to completely stop the hefty Trandoshan before he came crashing down upon him. The pair was knocked to the ground, kicking up a small plume of dust. The thud was enough to distract the neighboring Ryloh, who lost his grip on floating Rattataki above. As Kar’ai zoomed toward the ground, she called out to her partner, who in a moment of panic, was able to fully stop her fall as her eyes became level with his.

“Fine work,” Kar’ai breathlessly said to Ryloh before stretching to plant a soft kiss on the Twi’lek’s forehead. Lorrik and Arlia managed to gracefully prevent the impact of their partners on the dusty canyon floor, telekinetically rotating them right-side up and gently planting their feet upon the ground.

Despite the ordeal, Jresh maintained his usual stoicism. “Good to see your study and knowledge of the Force transfers into application.”

“Thanks,” Lorrik replied. “You looked pretty calm. Glad to see you were confident in me.”

“I was actually concentrating in case I had to Force push against the ground to slow myself,” Jresh admitted.

“Wait, so you didn't think I could do this?” Lorrik asked, his ego sufficiently bruised.

“I would never bet my life on the outcome of a variable I could not control. I trust you, and I’d trust my life to you, but you can’t expect me to do nothing while I am capable of action, as incapable as I may appear at the moment.”

Arlia offered a bout of teasing laughter. “Looks like the ‘most likely to succeed’ required some assistance in his trial.”

“Isorr was doing the same,” Jresh bluntly stated. Arlia shot a frustrated look at her stone-faced companion.

“Do I look like someone who would ever allow his fate to be dictated by another?” Isorr coldly asked. Arlia let out a quieted scoff at the Zabrak’s brashness.

With all the students together once more, they attempted to recover from the ordeal in their own ways. Lorrik offered a laugh alongside the placid Jresh. Arlia barked at the tiring Isorr. Ryloh absorbed Kar’ai’s further words of praise with a reserved smile. Vurt stood over a still prone Nesk, who growled and squirmed against the dusty foundation.

“Well, that didn’t take up too much time. I wonder what the rest of the day’s training will entail,” Lorrik unknowingly muttered. As if on cue, the acolytes' master shouted down at them from the peak above.

“Excellent, I sense that you all remain amongst the living,” Syrosk stated, uncharacteristically loud, yet unable to shed his usual raspy cadence. “Your next trial is to join me and reconvene at the top of the cliff. With the warriors still bound, it will be up to the inquisitors to tend to their mobility.”

“Wait… does he mean…” Ryloh whispered.

“We have to carry them,” Arlia stated, planting her palm firmly over her face.

The inquisitors breathed a heavy sigh of exhaustion before their next trial had even properly begun. Bearing the burden of their partners upon their back, the paired acolytes slowly began their trek out of the canyon and back up toward their master.

----------

That was a rather grueling task. I think I prefer the psychological games and intense trials presented in quick bursts rather than the prolonged physical trauma. Then again, training is training. I need to be in top physical condition if I am to outclass my fellow inquisitors or stand a chance going toe to toe with one of the warriors. Last thing I want is to be knocked out because Vurt gets in a good punch. And with the benefits I reaped from my ‘encounter’ with Ornell, trials of the body seem to be rather important in developing my mind and spirit as well.

Managed to get Jresh back up to the usual training grounds. Did most of the heavy lifting with the Force. As peculiar as the master’s methods seem to be at times, they all seemed grounded in traditional means of training adopted by the Sith. Perusing through some of the data logs I have in my collection, everything seems to sync up. Sustained use of Force lifting, like holding up a large rock for a prolonged period. We were holding up our partners for the long trip up the mountain. The drop off the cliff coincides with records of traumatic and shocking experiences triggering untapped power within a Force user.

It seems that Lord Syrosk has every intention of training us. Making us into actual Sith, or at least building us up until he can choose a proper set of apprentices. I don’t know if that should relieve or worry me. Such peculiarity in his previous actions. Why eight students? Why halves composed of separate teachings? Rarely does a Sith Lord move outside the realm of tradition unless intending to reap some untold reward, but I honestly can’t fathom what that might be for Syrosk. How could we be so special? What could we give him? I don’t know.

Today did shine some lights on a few things, luckily. I no longer believe Arlia and Isorr to be the prime threat to our apprenticeship. Isorr and Arlia are talented individuals, but they will always be just that. Individuals. They are too combative and counter-productive to one another, refusing to relinquish their selfishness. Vurt and Nesk still prove to be disjointed, primal in their attitudes and their techniques. A short-term danger if presented as opponents in combative trials, but nothing Jresh and I can’t overcome.

Kar’ai and Ryloh, however, prove to be an interesting pair. The interaction between the two show that there is a connection between them. Whether it is romantic or little more than playful back and forth is unknown, but as a team, they could prove to be a match for us. They thrive on emotions besides hatred and fury, finding joy in their activities. Kar’ai seems to be promoting and pushing Ryloh forward, bringing out something that might have never surfaced in other avenues. I can only guess that the same goes in the other direction. If they are indeed embracing this partnership, it would seem that they aren’t too different from me and Jresh.

As fascinating as it is troubling.

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Osetto
05.19.2012 , 06:30 PM | #24
Chapter Twenty One: Days

Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Seven, Entry Five.

Looks like we’ve finally reach a week of training. Though, with Korriban days being twenty eight hours, things become a little skewed when comparing with the standardized calendar. It’s something of a joke told around here that the Sith Lords squeezed an extra four hours out of the day as a way of punishing the acolytes. Because if there’s one thing that is pretty unanimously agreed on, it’s a Sith Lord’s adoration for giving out punishments.

I was rather lucky today, relatively speaking. The inquisitors had it easy compared to yesterday’s trial. It seemed that our roles were reversed today, with the warriors forced to face bodily hardship. They were forced to literally bear the burden of the inquisitors upon their backs. The warriors faced off against one another in a series of duels, all the while the inquisitors grasped on to them like a backpack. Legs hooked around the waist, arms over the shoulders and hooking across the chest.

We literally fought as one. Me and my ilk would throw out the occasional Force push, stabilize our partners, or talk the warriors through the duel. A peculiar trial. Metaphorical none the less. A little too on the nose. Speaking of which, flatfaced Vurt managed to make a comeback today with Nesk. I knew they’d be fierce combative competitors. Nesk seemed barely fazed by the additional weight on his torso, and Vurt seemed the accomplished dueling supplement. Ryloh and Kar’ai seemed comfortable with the prolonged embrace, and Arlia and Isorr managed to put their stubbornness aside for the task. All in all, none of the pairs are showing any signs of falling behind.

I suppose that’s good for me and Jresh. Can’t get any better ourselves if we’re only dealing with stagnant opponents. Makes me wonder what training will be like if we’re the master’s only apprentices. Thinking back to the beginning our of lives under Lord Syrosk, he did state that we could only be his apprentices after we’ve proven ourselves. But for the life of me, I can’t recall him ever stating the apprenticeship would only belong to one pair. Then again, I can’t remember him stating if apprenticeship would belong a pair at all. He could still order us to strike down our partners at any moment in our future. Maybe only one of will be his apprentice. Maybe all eight of us will be. Lord Syrosk is developing quite the habit of raising more questions than answers.

I am sure of one thing, I could never bring myself to kill Jresh. I know that may sound like weakness, aberrant Sith methodology, or what have you. But I think the two of us together could accomplish more than either of us could alone, even if presenting with the full on training of a Sith Lord. I know it sounds weird, finding more worth in two acolytes than a master and his apprentice. I also know that when we talked about this subject, I told him I didn’t know if I would kill him if ordered to, and that was the adequate answer. Always keeping options open, never relinquishing control of ourselves at the behest of someone else. By saying I could never kill Jresh, I’ve effectively shackled myself to an ideal. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

With the intensity of the training over the past days, Jresh and I have had little time to converse. Utterly focused on the events of the day to follow and driven to exhaustion by the day’s end. I miss the talks of codes, and philosophies, and ideals, and motives. Oh well, training is training. There will be time to talk when we’re at the top.

----------

Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Eight, Entry Six.

Lord Syrosk has afforded us a day off today. I should be ecstatic, and yet all I can think about is how this is some weird test he has orchestrated for us. For some reason, I’m all but sure he’s monitoring us. Watching, listening, or something. He’s a Sith Lord, maybe he’s got some sort of power of cognitive awareness. Or maybe he gave us these rooms because they’re bugged with monitoring equipment. Which would mean.. he could hear me right now, couldn’t he? Hell, even if he couldn’t he could probably just read my mind. Sith Lords can do that, can’t they?

I’m recording today at midday. A boon of special requisitions from the quartermaster arrived today, ahead of the standard ten day resupply schedule. Now we’ve got some genuine meats for me to cook with. The slugs and hounds of Korriban aren’t prime sources for tasty parcels. Now we’ve got a fully stocked freezer. Which is good, because I don’t think Jresh would have put up with any more sweet stuffs. He seems the carnivorous sort.

We just finished lunch, overall Jresh seemed impressed with my work. With no official trials to prepare for, we were able to engage in one another in conversation, something I was happy to partake in. Jresh seems to be less reserved, though he tends to be a little blunt at times. He has no qualms of addressing any perceived faults in my performances in the master’s trials. Even with a mouth full of cooked meat he can remind you how your stance can be improved.

But it’s one of the things I enjoy most about his companionship. My time in the Academy has mostly presented me with people who would utterly ignore my presence, either through disdain or plain disinterest. It’s good to see he’s genuinely interested in my well-being and progression as an acolyte.

Unable to keep his body or mind still for a moment, Jresh has suggested we organize things around the suite. He has a particular meticulousness about him that is hard to notice. It makes sense. Always measuring, calculating, making sure that not one minute measure of energy or motion is wasted. He’s made standing still into a science, something that promotes mental acuity. But for today, we’re doing a bit of light cleanup. After that, not sure what we’ll do. I may record another entry.

----------

Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Fifteen, Entry Seven.

Emperor be praised, I finally found this blasted thing! What has it been, a week since I last recorded in this journal? Must have misplaced it when Jresh and I were attempting to organize the suite. I don’t exactly see how you can consider it organizing if I can’t find anything afterward! Picking up everything and tucking it away, under other items in a bedside drawer that I never use, is not doing anyone any favors. I don’t even know how it got there. I don’t think I put it there then forgot it. Makes me wonder, wonder if Jresh put it there.

There’s a chance it was Jresh. But that raises yet another concern, whether or not he partook in a listen before putting it away. Maybe he hid it from me because he didn’t like what he saw. Because he thought it was working against me. No. No. Can’t start getting paranoid about my own partner. Have plenty to worry about with the other acolytes. Thought Vurt was honestly going to kill someone the other day. Right in front of Syrosk. Bunch of crazies in this group.

Well, haven’t the time to record more. It’s still the morning and Jresh is rushing me out the door. Just wanted to quickly record something now that I’ve found this. Any more will have to wait.

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Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Sixteen, Entry Eight.

I guess I never got around to recording again the other day. Understandable, considering how exhausted I was after the day’s training. Today’s not dissimilar. I’m struggling to formulate the words. I can understand my arms and legs giving up on me, but feeling my mind slip is something an inquisitor never takes lightly. When Syrosk declared we’d be tested on every facet of our being, he was not kidding. Not that I once thought him the kidding type. Horned grump.

I have to admit, despite his raspy, overly articulative speech patterns, he’s not exactly what I expected of a Sith Lord. I expected far more death threats, declarations of “Insolent whelp!”, and such grandiose displays. He almost possesses a sense of humor, in a weirdly sordid, debased manner. Don’t think I’ve seen him crack a smile, but he’s let out a few chortles at our misfortune every now and again. Who knows, maybe as an apprentice, with some more time spent in his company, he could prove the enjoyable, conversational fellow. I’d hate to become his apprentice just to find out he’s an absolute terror to be around. Hate for the whole “Sith Succession” thing to be forced out of annoyance rather than a greedy power grab or mischievous backstabbing.

So this is what the Academy has done to me. Made me into someone who just thinks casually of his friend’s and master’s deaths. As matter of inconvenience rather than heart wrenching quarrels to be overcome physically and emotionally. Then again, I’d say we’re not too different from the Jedi in that fashion. They are taught to understand that death is a way of life, a natural occurrence that should not be negatively dwelt upon. We Sith just like to take the whole ‘natural occurrence’ to a new level.

Feels weird saying that. “We Sith”. I mean, we’re obviously Sith, me and Jresh, but we are obviously not as well. As ambitious as our goals are, we’d be fooling ourselves if we could move forward in this society and the galaxy at large without accruing something of a body count. I just can’t seem to find that inner drive to permanently remove someone’s presence from this realm. Then again, with Force-users there’s rarely anything permanent. But I can’t see myself marching into battle, slaying enemies of the Empire left and right. And I know Jresh isn’t one for needless slaughter. He has his, 'leave enemies alive so that they may challenge you again later', philosophy. I simply think of every foe as a potential ally.

At the end of the day, it’s accomplishing the same thing. One less enemy to deal with, with the added boon of a new force on your side. Then again, I guess our side isn’t much for long-term alliances. There is power in conflict. Yet I desire peace. Does cooperation truly breed laziness? Complacency? The Republic’s version does, for sure. Everyone united under a single ‘banner’ and yet rampant plagues of crime and disorderly conduct take place, if not thrive because of which. Survival of the fittest leave only the strong, but despite their strength, they will remain the few and eventually fade into nothing. Total unionization anchors the populace to the lowest of the low, or raises them to a point in which they begin to crack the foundational structures that support them.

Oh well, I can worry about the galaxy at large when I’m a Lord. For now, I need to rest.

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Lorrik Velash’s Journal: Day Seventeen, Entry Nine.

So today was a weird day. Woke up thirty second before my alarm went off. Everything for breakfast tasted… weird. Like, slightly off. Like maybe there was a little too much salt on everything. Everything. Even things I know I didn’t put salt on. Weird. What else... what else? Oh yeah, I had to duel Jresh today…

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Osetto
05.26.2012 , 07:33 PM | #25
Chapter Twenty Two: Companions

Day seventeen of training. Korriban. Exterior. Midday. The temperature had no place in the acolytes’ minds. Their concentration was completely and utterly focused on their trial. The task for the day had been set. By the decree of Lord Syrosk, one on one duels would take place, between the warriors and their allied inquisitors. Isorr versus Arlia. Kar’ai versus Ryloh. Nesk versus Vurt. Jresh versus Lorrik.

Each duel had been held in isolation, no others taking place alongside it, allowing the Sith Lord and the resting acolytes to gaze upon the proceedings with watchful eyes. And watch they did. To the slight detriment of Lorrik's confidence. As each duel took place, it did not carry a beneficial trend. In almost all contests the warrior bested their partner, with the exception of Vurt claiming slight victory over the Trandoshan.

The time had come for Jresh and Lorrik to finally duel. The finality rested not just with that day, but with the entirety of the students’ training under Lord Syrosk. Lorrik knew this day was coming, sooner or later. Honestly, the inquisitor thought it would come at the behest of Jresh rather than their master, and much closer to their first day together.

The walk into the ancient dueling circle had seemed bordering on an eternity for Lorrik. The same couldn’t be said for Jresh. For the warrior, this was just another opponent he had not yet tested himself against. A foe he had not yet the pleasure of engaging in martial combat. Someone he had only been able to gauge through his eyes instead of the competing clash of the blade. Improvement required one to be tested, and pushed to the limit. If such events could not occur for one, it could certainly for the other. The perfect design in Jresh’s mind. There was not a single negative aspect he could draw upon when it came to dueling his ally. His partner. His friend.

The two acolytes looked upon one another on opposing ends of the dueling circle, both possessing utterly calm and focused visages. As much as he didn’t relish the idea of charging straightforward into pain, Lorrik knew worse would befall him if he could not supply his partner with a proper duel.

“Lorrik. I hope I do not need to ask you to not take it easy on me,” Jresh calmly spoke up, his quiet voice easily carrying itself across the arena.

“Don’t worry Jresh, I know better than to try and go easy on you,” Lorrik calmly replied, masking any hidden hesitance that might yet remain within him.

“Good. I hope I also do not need to remind you that I will not be holding back,” Jresh further explained.

“I hear you loud and clear, partner,” Lorrik said, forcing out a certain degree of positivity. Situated between the duelists and their colleagues, Syrosk stood with his bitter gaze upon the two acolytes.

“Students! Prepare yourselves,” Syrosk called out in his usual tone. The acolytes complied, each adopting their preferred stance and igniting their training sabers. Lorrik raised his saber and directed its tip toward Jresh, sliding his right foot backward, his free hand raised parallel with the blade and possessing an open palm. Jresh gripped his training saber with both hands, but kept his guard low and at his front, rather than his usual high guarded stance. Already Lorrik had already begun to process the data of battle within his head as he studied his opponent. With a drop of his hand, Lord Syrosk had signaled for the duel to begin in earnest.

Expecting Jresh to remain still, with the idea of refusing to allow Lorrik the ability to study and counteract his opponent, the inquisitor was unable to retaliate when Jresh immediately rejected this plan, deciding to instead charge down on his partner at full speed. Trying to quickly reinforce his guard with his free hand, the inquisitor failed to adequately guard against the warrior’s first strike. Instead of a traditional swing, Jresh used the entirety of his weight supplemented by a Force-accelerated charge to drive his shoulder into Lorrik, tackling him and sending him tumbling across the dusty foundation. After a few bounces on the dirt, the fallen acolyte managed to cut his journey just short of dueling circle’s outer boundary.

Lorrik looked up to see his companion had not taken a moment of pause, charging down upon his person yet again, this time intending to bring his saber down upon him. Pushing himself off the ground, the inquisitor met with Jresh, clashing their sabers against each other's. Knowing he was outmatched strength-wise, Lorrik ceded the contest, allowing Jresh to push his blade forward. Ducking to the side, Lorrik maneuvered to his flank as the Pureblood’s momentum keep him moving forward. The inquisitor attempted to bring his saber down upon his partner’s back, but instead found his action interrupted by Jresh jutting his foot back, knocking the Human’s leg out from under him.

Tumbling to the ground once more, Lorrik lifted his face from the dust to see another boot about to impact against him. The warrior intently pursued the dexterous inquisitor as he attempted to roll away. As Jresh once more swung his saber down, Lorrik batted it out of the way with his own, causing the Pureblood to stumble downward himself. Capitalizing on the movement, Lorrik thrust the tip of his saber upward, digging it into the warrior stomach. As Jresh rolled away in pain, Lorrik was able to return to his feet. It wasn’t long before his partner attempted to do the same.

Going on the offensive, the inquisitor swung his saber down upon a kneeling Jresh. The warrior deflected with a twist of his blade, and delivered a staggering uppercut with the pommel of his weapon to Lorrik’s chin. Still reeling, Lorrik was unable to avoid Jresh sweeping his leg out from under him. Impacting hard against the flat of his back, Lorrik watched as Jresh raised a boot to stomp his chest. With his free hand, the Human drove a fist into the firmly planted leg of the Pureblood. Destabilized, the warrior fell forward intending to land the sum total of his weight on top of the fallen inquisitor. As his partner was falling, Lorrik let go of his saber and let loose a powerful telekinetic thrust from his coupled hands. Jresh immediately went flying through the air, landing hard against the dirt on the other side of the arena.

Grabbing his saber and returning to his feet, Lorrik was greeted to the light smattering of applause to his rear from three of his fellows. It had seemed the division between warrior and inquisitor had now taken precedence over competing partnerships. Enamored by the delightful display, Lorrik missed the upright Pureblood approaching him. Raising his guard, the Human was only barely able to bear the downward swing Jresh furiously brought upon his partner. The next was even less defended against. And the next even less. One after another, Jresh raised his blade before promptly bringing it back down upon the now kneeling opponent, bashing away at the depleting guard. With one final swing, Jresh pressed through impacting his saber against Lorrik’s shoulder.

Intending to end the duel, Jresh offered one more strike against the downed inquisitor. Ducking to the side, Lorrik was able to dodge out of the way, giving him the time and room to swing his blade at the Pureblood’s side, impacting against his hip. Still upon the ground, Lorrik unable to dodge the retaliatory boot to the gut that sent the Human rolling away as the warrior clutched his side. Steadying himself, Lorrik found himself incapable of firmly grasping his saber with both hand due to his injured shoulder. Jresh appeared no worse for wear, fully masking any detriment he might possibly be experiencing.

But Lorrik knew better. Jresh’s form had always relatively lacked mobility. With an injured hip, that weakness could be exploited. Lorrik made his way toward Jresh, directing the tip of his saber toward his opponent. His foe charging, Jresh did little to prepare himself or guard against the attack, barely raising his saber from his side. Now upon the warrior, Lorrik drew his saber back, intent on delivering a piercing thrust of his weapon. However, his want would have to go unfulfilled. With a deep breath Jresh let loose a primal shout toward his opponent. Coupled with an exertion of the Force, the powerful, deafening voice impacted against the entirety of Lorrik’s body, churning his insides and sending him stumbling back.

Walking forward, Jresh swung his saber horizontally at the inquisitor. The Human attempted to raised his guard, but when the two sabers impacted against one another, Lorrik’s went flying out of his hand, eventually landing outside the confines of the dueling circle. Defenseless, the inquisitor was unable to counter the warrior’s backhanded strike against his cheek, flooring the Human and sending him face first into the dirt. Slowly the fallen acolyte squirmed amongst the dust, eagerly trying to raise himself. His hands pressing against the surface below him, he slowly lifted himself off of the ground, until Jresh drove him back to his belly with a kick of his boot. Turning over, Lorrik saw the tip of his partner’s saber hovering only a sliver away from his face.

“Yield?” Jresh calmly asked. Rather than speak, Lorrik supplied his answer by gripping the ignited training saber, his gloves absorbing most of the heat, and drug his partner downward. His partner falling once more, Lorrik thrust his right hand forward until it touched his partner’s chest. His palm resting against the Pureblood’s sternum, the inquisitor unleashed a powerful torrent of telekinetic energy. As the Force wave passed through the warrior’s chest, he fell over, the entirety of his breath vacated from his lungs.

Trying his hardest to breath, Jresh relinquished the grip on his saber, allowing Lorrik to pick it up as he regained his footing. The powerful shockwave he emitted had actually torn the glove material from his hand, leaving only tatters of black cloth surrounding the inquisitor’s right wrist. Gripping the saber with his ungloved hand, the inquisitor directed its tip toward the face of his fallen companion.

“Yield?” Lorrik asked, breathing heavy and utterly exasperated. Rather than speak, Jresh supplied his answer by batting the saber out of his face with the back of his hand. Once more the saber flew from the confines of the dueling arena. Rising from the dust, Jresh and Lorrik now stared each other down, each without their saber. Jresh was the first to raise his fists, but Lorrik promptly followed. Creeping ever closer, the two were within each other’s reach.

Jresh threw the first punch. It passed by Lorrik’s head as he ducked out of the way. The inquisitor offered his own punch directed toward the warrior’s already injured hip. The hit landed, causing the Pureblood to yelp in pain. Jresh offered a retaliatory backhand that impacted against Lorrik’s already injured shoulder. Dropping to a knee, the inquisitor thrust his elbow into Jresh’s gut. Bending over, the warrior clasped his hands together and brought them down upon the back of Lorrik’s neck.

The Pureblood lifted a boot only to have the other one swept out from under him. The two struggled against one another on the ground, kicking up a small cloud of dust as they flailed their failing limbs against one another. Finally rolling away from each other, the two put some distance between them and slowly but surely rose to their feet. The two locked their gazes, each utterly committed to ending the duel. And end it would, as the two figures charged toward one another.

As they neared, about to trade blows one last time, Lorrik altered his course slightly to the side. Grabbing ahold of his partner’s shoulder, the Human swung around to the Pureblood’s flank. With one hand over the left shoulder and gripping his opponent’s robes, Lorrik wrapped the other around the opposite shoulder, placing his ungloved hand over Jresh’s mouth. Hooking his legs to the warrior’s waist, the inquisitor had locked himself in place. Jresh was only able to process the attack for a moment, before a sudden surge of electricity transferred from Lorrik’s hand to his mouth. It wasn’t long before arcs of Force lightning sparked across the warrior’s entire body.

Yet Jresh remained standing, enduring the debilitating attack. Lorrik renewed his attacked pumping his partner full of more crackling energy. Eventually the inquisitor stopped and the warrior remained standing rigid, a small stream of smoke emitting from his mouth and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. Lorrik removed his hand from his companion’s face and raised it into the air in victory. This managed to offset the duo’s balance enough that the two fell backward, impacting against the ground with the entirety of Jresh landing on top of Lorrik.

On the sidelines, the entirety of the gathered acolytes looked onward speechlessly. Even Syrosk could not think of the words he might deliver in his usual sardonically raspy manner. The seven onlookers watched intently, waiting for either person to move. Several seconds passed. Silence. Nothing but the flowing winds gently passing dust over the two fallen acolytes on the top of the Korriban cliff.

“Alright,” Syrosk finally spoke up. “Someone go check on them.”

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YoshiRaphElan
05.26.2012 , 08:18 PM | #26
You, sir, are a magnificent writer.

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Osetto
05.27.2012 , 08:34 PM | #27
Quote: Originally Posted by YoshiRaphElan View Post
You, sir, are a magnificent writer.
You have my sincerest thanks for the kind words.

After doing so much writing lately, I'd love to take a short break after I finish the current episode of The Seven and after putting out a few more chapters of Guiding Lights. Take the time to read a few of my fellow writers' stories and leave some comments of my own. Every writer deserves that much.
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Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
06.09.2012 , 02:34 AM | #28
Chapter Twenty Three: Pains

Jresh and Lorrik opened their eyes to find themselves on the flat of their backs, gazing up toward the Korriban sun with seven shadowed faces staring back down upon them. The acolytes’ fellow students and master circled the fallen duo and hunched over to closely examine the two once unconscious duelists.

“Good. It would seem you are still amongst the living,” Syrosk stated with his usual rasp. “I would have had to punish your spirits had you managed to kill each other. Training is over for the day. You are free to return to your rooms.”

As the other students dispersed and began their trek back toward the Academy, the two fallen acolytes had yet to rise from their prone positions. Laying side by side, the pair realized they had been dragged from their relative positions when they lost consciousness. They tried to raise themselves from the dusty foundation but found their bodies unresponsive, paralyzed yet wracked with pain.

“Well… I suppose you’ll return when you’re ready. Enjoy your time under the sun,” Syrosk said before casually vacating the premises. The two remained. Looking up toward the blinding light and searing rays descending upon them from the Korriban sky.

“Jresh… I don’t think I can move,” Lorrik admitted.

There was an almost silent grunt from the Pureblood beside him. “I hesitate to admit it, but I’m having trouble as well.”

“Heh, didn’t think you were capable of being exhausted,” Lorrik struggled to state. His words tapered off into a slight coughing fit as he tried to chuckle.

“The pain is endurable. I think your lightning may have had a paralyzing effect on my musculature, however,” Jresh calmly stated.

Lorrik released a mixture of coughing and laughter. “I don’t know I’d have called that lightning. More like a spark.”

“You need not overly veil yourself in the shroud of humility. I don’t think any of the other acolytes are capable of conjuring such a power,” Jresh admitted.

“It’s far from a true manifestation of Force lightning,” Lorrik replied. “And I still don’t exactly have a genuine control over it. When I do use it I end up injuring my own hands, though at the moment it is rather hard to distinguish individual injuries and pains. Of course that's when I can get it to actually work. I tried it use it against Arlia at the end of our first duel, but I couldn’t conjure a thing.”

“When have you been able to use it?” Jresh asked.

“The first time it ever manifested was when I produced a weak arc between my fingers before I had even entered training under Syrosk,” Lorrik admitted as looked toward the sky. “I came into the possession of a Sith Sorcerer’s musings in one of the many datacards I would study in my personal time. It detailed the Sith’s upbringing and training techniques, detailing the power needed to conjure lightning. It offered techniques to more easily call upon the power, but at that point, I still had to lock myself into an abysmal place inside my own head for hours just to produce the tiniest spark. The first time I used it in a practical situation was when we were moving into the suite, when I was confronted by Ornell. The second time was when I ambushed by Ornell and his friends and received a proper beating. And I guess this was the third.”

“There is obviously a connection to your emotional state and your ability to use the power,” Jresh explained. “With Ornell, there is an understandable hatred that manifests within you.”

“Yeah, but, what about our duel?” Lorrik asked. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I never felt hatred toward you.”

“Through passion, I gain strength,” Jresh recited. “Hatred is a primal emotion and one fully capable of fueling one’s connection to the dark side, but it is not the only passion worth considering. It is possible you channeled your strength through utter devotion toward achieving victory. Instead of drawing upon hatred for your opponent, you drew upon some positivity that rested within yourself.”

“Is such a thing even possible?” Lorrik asked, speaking to himself more than his partner.

“You are the expert on the Force,” Jresh calmly stated. “Did you not say yourself that you believe the two sides of the Force to be separate, but still capable of being harnessed and utilized alongside one another.”

“There’s a difference between utilizing powers granted through study of both the light and the dark, and fueling one side with the aspects considered to belong to the realm of the other. If such a thing could even be achieved, I don’t think I could ever possess the hubris required to even begin thinking I was capable of achieving such a feat at this point in my training.”

“Then perhaps you were driven solely by the prospect of victory over your partner. Wanting nothing more than to defeat me. Show your superiority. Harness the inherent selfishness of domination.”

“Yeah, that does sound pretty Sith when you think about it,” Lorrik admitted. “So, were you impressed with my capabilities?”

The Pureblood paused before giving his answer. “I won’t lie. For a moment, I thought that my initial charge might incapacitate you.”

“Ouch, I’m hurt,” Lorrik joked before succumbing to a brief fit of pain. “Okay, poor choice of words. I actually am hurting pretty badly right now.”

“You carried yourself well, Lorrik. Your stylings are admittedly not suited for straightforward saber combat, but you were able to defend yourself against my attacks and supply your own until we reached a standstill.”

“Technically, neither of us were standing in the end.”

“Well, I was, before I fell on you.”

“We’re you even conscious for that?”

“I honestly can’t say I was fully cognizant of what events were occurring around the end of our duel. But, prior to that haze, your action clearly displayed that you’ve made a great deal of progress in your training. I’m proud of you, Lorrik.”

“You have no idea how much it means for me to hear you say that. To hear anyone say that,” Lorrik replied, a genuine appreciation in his voice. “This Academy… it’s draining. So much conflict. So much strife. So little to show for it. Any beneficial consequences lie years ahead of us. For now, it’s just trial after trial pushing us to the threshold of death. No praise. No trust. No belief. I am not… a negative person. At least, I’ve never thought of myself as such. But this Academy… has tried its hardest to push me to the edge. To shove my failures down my throat and stab me in the back with my own intentions. I cannot honestly say what I would have done if I was forced to endure more time spent in the classrooms, with no master, no goals, no ambitions. You’ve given me your satisfaction, so I’ll give you my thanks, even though you deserve so much more. You’ve remained strong. You’ve provided support to me, and my outlandish ways, and my ridiculous ambitions. I know that you were forced to find a partner if you wanted to train under Syrosk. You could have rejected my pleas that first day we met. But you didn’t. I know there’s a chance that all this is just a circulation of selfish intentions, drawing upon each other’s strength so long as it plays to our advantage and unwilling to continue the second it ceases to do so. But I believe there’s something special about us. Something lasting. Something worth cultivating. Preserving. I’ll never be able to know if you feel the same way, but honestly, you don’t need to. You’ve more than earned my respect. You’ve more than earned my assistance. You’ve more than earned something beyond the miserable grasp of this abysmal Academy.”

Lorrik saw a shadowy figure beginning to hover over him. Slowly, the figure extended his hand downward, offering it to the fallen acolyte. Jresh had finally regained control of his body and was ready to make his way back to the Academy. Accepting his hand, Lorrik lifted himself off the ground, defying the protests of pain that still resonated throughout his body. Jresh’s countenance no longer obscured by the sun’s shadow, Lorrik saw a most peculiar sight. A smile gracing the Pureblood’s lips. It was something unique. Something the acolyte had not seen before in his partner. Before, Jresh would only ever appear on the precipice of showing such an emotional gesture. An intrigued curl of the lips, an errant smirk, but never a smile. But now, seemingly in defiance, the warrior offered such an expression. Genuine is its presentation. Full in its devotion. Subtle in its demonstration. A sign of understanding. Of respect. Of something unprecedented.

Jresh offered his partner a nod of his head as he turned toward the pathway leading back to the Academy. Stepping lightly, the warrior had yet to fully regain uncompromised movement, but was none the less capable of pushing himself forward. Lorrik on the other hand, managed to only take a single step forward before he was forced to crumble to his knee. Folding in on himself, the inquisitor could barely even support his cascading mass by placing his hands against the ground. His arms began to shake as he struggled to remain somewhat upright. The Pureblood saw his companion’s plight, and lent his assistance once more, bypassing an offer at that point. The warrior knelt in front of the inquisitor, imploring him to throw his weight upon his back. Lorrik was hesitant to burden his partner, but the Pureblood would hear no objections. He forced Lorrik’s arms over his shoulders and began carrying him back to their suite.

“Jresh… this isn’t necessary,” Lorrik softly muttered into the ear of his marching companion.

“Quiet,” Jresh curtly replied. “Rest now, and you’ll be able to more adequately heal our wounds once we’ve returned to our room.”

“Heh, selfishly selfless as always…”

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
06.16.2012 , 07:40 PM | #29
If at least one of your writings doesn't end up being an official SWTOR novel at some point, I'm going to be very disappointed in the Lucas/BioWare powers that be. Please keep up the excellent work!

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
06.22.2012 , 01:27 AM | #30
Quote: Originally Posted by Adwynyth View Post
If at least one of your writings doesn't end up being an official SWTOR novel at some point, I'm going to be very disappointed in the Lucas/BioWare powers that be. Please keep up the excellent work!
Well now, if I ever needed the motivation to keep writing.

Thanks for the wonderful words. Getting back from a vacation, I've found myself bustling with ideas, but ultimately unable to get back into writing mode, so to speak. I think I've hit that spot that happens often when I write, when I figure out and formulate an ending to a story that I suddenly suffer a lack of interest in the progressions currently underway. But whereas other times I would simply be writing by and for myself, with no feedback or comments, now I've a sense of providing some modicum of entertainment to whomever would wring it out of my stories. Sufficiently motivated, now I just have to get past the blocks that occasionally impede the writing process.

Looking forward to keeping everything updated, especially this story which I seem to be neglecting as of late.
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