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The Academy: Acolyte Ascension


Lordmird's Avatar


Lordmird
01.05.2013 , 05:39 AM | #101
I love it so far, however....

For future reference, I think you should have been unlocking bits of everyone's past throughout the whole story, rather than give us a all of it in one section.
But still love it
"Who dares wins" "By Strength and Guile" "Per Mare, Per Terram" "Utrinque Paratus" Her Majesty's best
Could you do it?

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
01.06.2013 , 08:35 PM | #102
Chapter Twenty Five: Partners

Emerging from the mists was Lord Tash, garbed in his suit of armor, saber ignited within his hand. Darth Omnus watched as the figure approached with a calm and collected gait, a smirk planted firmly upon his face.

“It’s good to see you, Darth Omnus,” Tash declared. “I promised Syrosk I’d keep an eye on you.”

“I know… exactly why you are here,” Omnus admitted.

“Is that so. Let me guess. A vision?” Tash asked in a mocking tone.

“Yes. I’ve come to terms with my fate. I know that today is the day I die. And I know that it will not be at the hands of the Republic.”

The smile faded from Tash’s face. His eye twitched and he let out a snarl as he rushed to be face to face with the Darth. Omnus didn’t move an inch from his position, watching as the younger Human’s nostrils flared as he locked eyes with his own.

“How dare you call yourself a Sith,” Tash said through gritted teeth. “How could you just lay down and accept your fate?”

“I’ll not lay down. I plan to continue standing when I meet my end. But there is nothing worth doing beyond that.”

“Then you are weak,” Tash declared. “There is always something worth doing! If you will not fight, no matter what, you are no Sith! Syrosk will be better off without you.”

“Of that I am certain. After all, it is the natural progression of things for an apprentice to take his master’s place. There is nothing left for me to teach him. He can survive on his own now.”

“You Seers truly are blind. Without you, Syrosk is nothing to the Empire. Without a master, no Sith will tolerate him, no matter the skills he may possess.”

“Except, of course, you,” Omnus suggested. “I am not as blind as you might think. I know the only reason you have remained close to my apprentice is because you knew you had something to gain.”

“Selfishness is in our nature,” Tash declared. “I have much to gain by using Syrosk’s talents, but I am not shackled by the petty ambitions of lesser Sith. I am going to change the Empire. And your apprentice is going to help me.”

“I’m sure he will,” Omnus commented. Tash continued to stare down the elderly Human. “What’s the matter? Expected more? More declarations? More explanations? More protest? You despise mysteries, don’t you? Ever since you were a student of Leshai. You were kept in the dark. Given absolutely nothing. And everything he did, you could never understand even to the day you killed him. And you hated him for it. He possessed unlimited knowledge while you wallowed in confusion. You couldn’t understand how someone like him could end things the way he did. You can’t understand how I stand before you right now, unafraid of my own death.”

“Your kind don’t deserve the knowledge you’re given! If given the answers you or Leshai had access to, I would be on the Dark Council by now!”

“Knowledge is worthless. Wisdom, is what has value,” Omnus explained. “And that is the last you’ll hear from me. If you intend to end my life I suggest you-“

Without another word, Tash lifted his saber and plunged the blade through Darth Omnus’ chest. The elderly Human maintained a stoic facade, even as the life left his body. The Sith Lord withdrew his blade, allowing the Darth to slump and sink into the wet ground. The area had become consumed by silence. Tash stood alone, surrounded by fog and the fallen bodies of Republic and Imperial forces. The Lord reached down and retrieved the lightsaber hanging from Omnus’ belt, then did the same with the Jedi, picking up the weapon that stuck out of the mud a short distance away. With that, he departed, leaving the scene to its stillness.

----------

Korriban. Omnus’ sanctum. Within the living area, Lord Syrosk and Vai Thorel sat locked in mutual meditation. Meditation that was interrupted by a series of soft knocks on the door. Syrosk stirred from his trance and rose to his feet, signaling the young apprentice to stay put. Opening the door, Syrosk was greeted with the sight of Lord Tash, donned in his battle attire, baring none of his usual jovialness.

“Tash? What are you doing here?” Syrosk asked.

“Syrosk it’s… it’s about your master,” Tash began, almost whispering. “Omnus… I’m sorry, he didn’t make it.”

Syrosk took a step back, breathless, as he clutched at his chest, gripping the amulet that rest beneath his robes. Tash rushed in, stabilizing his friend as his legs grew weak.

“Omnus… he’s dead?” Syrosk muttered, increasingly exasperated. “How is this possible?”

“He was ambushed by a Jedi strike team,” Tash explained. “The planet we were on was dense with natural cover, it only bolstered the Jedi’s stealth tactics. They blocked communications, masked their presence. It was a miracle I was able to find them… but I was too late.”

“You… you were there… you said you’d protect him,” Syrosk rasped, gripping at the other Lord’s shoulders.

“I know I did. And I tried. I really did,” Tash somberly explained, He felt the alien’s grip lessen, fury turning to solemn despair. The Human guided Syrosk to the dining table where he sat him down. Reaching behind his back, Tash retrieved two lightsabers from his belt and placed them on the table. Syrosk’s eyes widened at the sight of the objects. One was utterly simple with a black case, absolutely no frivolous adornments. The other was an regally crafted silver hilt.

“His saber…”

“And the one that belonged to the Jedi that ended his life. I plucked it from his cold, dead hand after I killed him. His squad was weakened, almost reduced to nothing. Omnus put up a valiant fight, if only I could have reached him sooner. I’m sorry.”

“No. It’s okay Tash,” Syrosk stated, not lifting his eyes from the items on the table, followed by a few beats of silence. “I think I’ve done all I can for your apprentice. He’s a good student. Everything else is up to you and him. Now I’d… like to be alone. I’ve some things to take care of.”

“If you need anything, please, do not hesitate to ask,” Tash said, placing a gentle hand on the Lord’s shoulder.

“Omnus took our ship when he left for war. I could use a new one.”

“That can be arranged. Anything else?”

“No. Just some time for myself.”

Tash offered a silent nod as he called to his apprentice. He raised himself from the floor, having knelt patiently throughout the entire proceedings. The master and apprentice exited the establishment, Tash looking back one final time to see Syrosk still staring at his master’s lightsaber.

The door shut and the alien Lord was left alone with his thoughts. His fists clenched as an intense anger brewed within him. Snatching up his master’s weapon, Syrosk leapt to his feet and ventured deeper into the sanctum. Within his personal dwelling, he opened the door to his closet where his suit of armor resided. Reaching in, Syrosk grasped his old helmet and began staring into its featureless visage. Two slots rest on either side of the helm for the alien’s horns. When fully garbed for battle, the Sith Lord was nothing but a shadow. A horned devil. He saw the helmet as a tool for fear, one he could use against the Republic. And use it he did.

Syrosk received his new ship, and with it he ventured to the frontlines with his master’s saber in hand. He was a warrior with no face. A force of nature. In the presence of his fellow Sith, he never removed his mask. Never spoke. Never revealed his identity. He simply longed for battle, and the chance to strike down the Knights of the Republic.

For two years he did battle against the Jedi, against the Republic. His armor was battered and beaten, burnt and slashed. And as time went on his body fared no better. But he refused to yield, driven by the purest of passions. But his righteous drive would prove his undoing. He could not rest. He could not falter. But over the course of constant warfare, he could not forestall defeat.

He charged alongside his fellow Sith in battle, lashing out at the forces of the Republic. But during one such battle, the force of a blow knocked the helmet from his head. In the aftermath, his Sith allies could only stare at the alien. The veil had been lifted. The shadow had been given form. And they found it unsuitable. Syrosk was cast out with none to speak on his defense. No troop would have him. No Sith would command him. He was utterly alone. Abandoned. The thoughts and feelings of his fellows seeped into his head. His rank had lost its meaning. He had reached his endpoint. He could not continue alone.

He reached out to the only person in the Sith Empire he knew he could count on.

----------

16 BTC

Within the cockpit of their Fury-class Interceptor, Tash and his apprentice were eating a meal of rations.

“You know, I was thinking,” Thorel spoke up, taking a bite of his brick of rations. “My attire could use a little updating.”

The apprentice was approaching twenty years of age. His face was soft, possessing zero signs of scarring or fatigue. His garb was a simple set of dark gray, form-fitting robes, unadorned and without armoring.

“What, do you want a cape or something?” Tash asked, himself dressed in his casual black robes.

Thorel recoiled. “Ugh, no.”

“Wait, what’s wrong with a cape?”

“I was thinking a coat, or something. Not a cape.”

“I’ll have you know capes are a sign of dignity and superiority.”

“Do you want a cape?” Thorel asked.

Cutting off the pair’s conversation was the blip on the ship’s control console signaling an incoming holo-call. The master and apprentice shared a knowing glance and a series of nods as they lifted themselves from their seats and make their way to the center of the ship. Activating the holoterminal, the grainy image of Lord Syrosk appeared. His body was encased in his battle attire, face exposed.

“Syrosk… we haven’t heard from you in so long,” Tash stated with worry. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m… no, actually,” Syrosk rasped, his voice and posture exuding exhaustion. “I… I need your help.”

“Of course, of course, whatever you need,” Tash replied.

“I’m afraid… I could use another ship. They broke your first one,” Syrosk explained.

“The Republic?”

“The Sith.”

“I see. Don’t worry, give us your coordinates and Thorel and I will pick you up ourselves,” Tash explained. Syrosk’s image faded and a series of coordinates were uploaded to the Fury’s galaxy map. “The time has come, my apprentice. Now we must build, rather than destroy.”

“I’ve been a Sith long enough to know the two aren’t mutually exclusive,” Thorel pleasantly offered.

“I see you are not without wisdom, my apprentice,” Tash admitted.

“Syrosk was more than just mental defense tutor,” Thorel explained.

“Yes, and now, without his master, hopefully his ideals and talents can be used to their fullest potential.”

The pair made their way to Syrosk’s coordinates, where the three of them would make plans to change the Empire forever.

----------

Tash, Thorel, and Syrosk stood together as they waited for their ship to drop out of hyperspace over Korriban. The alien explained his actions over the last months, fighting for the sake of the Empire but being looked down upon, even lashed out at by his fellow Lords upon the revelation of his identity. As much as he despised the Jedi, his faith in the Sith Order was faltering. Tash offered a remedy.

For as much as Syrosk thought himself without allies, Tash knew of one besides himself. The headmaster of the Korriban Academy. Though the Empire no longer desired the services of Omnus and Syrosk, the headmaster was indebted to them for reestablishing the institution.

With Syrosk calling upon that debt and Tash pulling every string attached to his domain, they would set out to start a new classroom of Sith acolytes. Syrosk would meditate, searching for applicants ineligible for Academy acceptance. Thorel would follow Syrosk’s visions and gather the Force-sensitive children. Tash would do everything necessary to keep the operation running smoothly.

Even with the headmaster’s blessing, Tash knew they could not operate in the open. The Korriban Academy was an extensive facility, having received renovations since its reopening. But there rest untouched chambers. Halls dug low and deep into the surrounding mountains, even bordering some of the tombs the rest near the Academy. Halls not used since the institutions previous occupiers. Halls that would once again serve a purpose.

But if he wanted things to go according to plan, Tash needed to do more. He knew nothing escaped the attention of those higher up. He needed to assuage them. From the ground up, Tash ensured the acolytes wouldn't be admitted like normal students, nor treated like them. They could be guided along certain paths. If there was one thing a Sith Lord would appreciate more than an ancient artifact, it would be a loyal servant. And Tash knew how to make some.

Tash utilized those who continued to follow him since Leshai’s demise. The their number had shrunk recent years, there were still some to call upon. From them, he would find suitable instructors, who could teach acolytes in an altered form of Sith instruction befitting the students’ impure heritages. Each person who would gaze upon his crop would need to see a purpose in them. And Tash provided many. Indoctrinated servants. Tools of war, loyal to the Empire and only the Empire. The definitive next generation of Sith. But in the end, only Tash knew the true purpose of these students. Not his apprentice. Not Syrosk. Not the students themselves.

The foundations were in place. Tash had made his arrangements, his gambits. All that was left was to see them pan out, carefully managing expectations and perceptions along the way. Over the next few years, Syrosk would receive visions, and for once had he someone willing to act upon them. The two Sith Lords were partners, striving for a better future. For whom, however, depended on the Lord.

The time came when Tash’s classrooms were filled. Students were divided and assigned to suitable instructors. However, the time had also come for the two Lords to part ways my no amicable means. It was only natural, as confrontation runs through the Sith like blood. After seeking out the last of the future acolytes, Syrosk had one final vision. One that would prove to clash with Tash’s own.

Lord Tash severed all ties with the alien Lord. Once more Syrosk was alone, having lost everything. Everyone. A lone candle ready to be snuffed out by the first unpleasant Sith to cross his path. He had nothing but his master's saber and a set of armor. And once more he intended to put them to use. He had already lost so much. His master. His friend. His future. He didn’t care if his time was over. He marched to battle, uncaring of what his fellow Sith thought. He vowed to never hide his visage again. He vowed to keep fighting until he expired. But after countless battles, he didn’t.

He had faced soldiers, Jedi, Sith, but his body refused to die. And he knew why. His final vision. He had an obligation to see it through. And he had preparations to make. It would take many years, but Syrosk vowed to one day return to the Academy, to finally take an apprentice of his own.



End of Act 0

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
01.26.2013 , 01:05 PM | #103
Act III: Supremacies

Chapter One: Survivors

The Academy was locked in its usual proceedings. As the bright and blistering sun watched over it with its enduring blaze, the next generation of Sith acolytes were in the throes of training. Humans of varying size and skill faced the trials readily provided by Korriban. The blades of its inhabitants, the claws of its predators, the shadows of its tombs.

But deep within the Academy, students of dissimilar make were progressing. Multiple classrooms, around ten students strong, studied and fought under the watchful eye of instructors satisfying the desires of their true master, Darth Tash. Things had changed for the peculiar bunch ever since the rousing appearance of the dark lord. The instructors had adopted a new lesson plan, one that progressed the atypical group faster than they thought possible.

And between these two groups was one accepted by neither. Lord Syrosk and his eight students. The acolytes were plucked from Tash’s classroom at the behest of their new alien master and placed into pairings of warrior and inquisitor. After facing trials unlike anything they had endured in their previous years, the eight individuals quickly proved themselves worthy of apprenticeship.

For more than a year the eight Sith had followed the wisdom and teaching of their master. They learned of their position in the Academy, and the Empire at large, as beings too imperfect to have been admitted to the establishment by traditional means. They did not yet know what Darth Tash had intended for them, nor what he intended for those who remained under the guidance of his instructors. Neither did they fully understand their own master’s intentions.

But whatever reservations they possessed for their peculiar master and their even more peculiar situation, they could not deny the results Syrosk’s teachings had imparted upon them. Greater strength and dexterity. Greater intelligence and wisdom. Proficiency with both Lightsaber and the Force. A mental acuity taught by select few. Such was the reason that even after months of agony, pain, and hardship, all eight apprentices still convened atop the same mountaintop, under the same sun, and listened with the same determination when their master declared he has prepared another lesson.

The eight apprentices stood as they did the first time they gathered at their master’s word, in a line, beside their respective partners. But for all that was the same, much had changed. Lord Syrosk now looked upon eight individuals, eight unique Sith. Each with a personalized weapon and outfit.

Lorrik stood at the leftmost spot in the lineup. The Human’s appearance suggested a maturing in the recent months. Though his face was still relatively soft and offered its usual pleasant visage, and his flesh had managed to remain amongst the lightest of his compatriots even under the constant rays of the Korriban sun, there was a focused presence in his eyes detailing the many months of progress he had endured. Meanwhile the once unkempt, dark brown hair atop his head had been tamed, slicked back and styled by a man who still found importance in personal appearance amidst Sith training. All of which was readily visible, as the Human had removed any head coverings from his new outfit.

The black robes weren’t dissimilar from the ones he had first received from his new master, but replacing the purple trim was a lining of a deep, dark blue. Sans hood, the outer coat merely possessed a thick collar that conveniently covered the brand on the back of the inquisitor’s neck. The clothes covering his torso ended at the sash that wrapped around his waist, below which rest a pair of form-fitting pants and sturdy boots. Gone were the suffocating gloves from the Human’s ensemble, offering his Force slinging hands freedom at the expense of protection. Most importantly, clipped to his sash was his lightsaber, completed a few short months ago. The weapon’s exterior was simplistically stylish, made up of silver casings and the occasional flourish such as an added emitter guard.

His companion Jresh stood by his side, ever the tall, adamant warrior. His face still displayed the same crimson stoicism, with the same allotment of fleshy tendrils hanging from his chin and cheeks. His hair, though, had been sufficiently shortened. After one too many occurrences of being dragged to the ground by a dueling opponent, he decided to sever the long braid that once fell past his shoulders. Instead, the black hairs stop his head had been styled similar to those of his partner, at his suggestion, slicked back in a formal yet fashionable form.

The Pureblood had all but abandoned any vestiges of robes and cloth from his outfit. No hoods. No cloaks. Nothing but a suit of form-fitting armorweave accentuated with heavier materials upon his legs and torso. The black bodysuit protected him entirely below the neck, heavy boots and gauntlets guarding his extremities, as well as a compact pair of pauldrons atop his shoulders. His head meanwhile went unprotected, as the warrior had never held hiding his face in high regard, and wasn’t about to change that. The lightsaber clipped to his belt matched his suit in appearance and function. The weapon possessed only an unadorned black cylinder as its hilt, utterly smooth and seemingly without buttons or dials.

The lineup continued, each apprentice having shed some part of their former selves to promote a sense of individuality. Arlia stood next. The violet Twi’lek had discarded the robe’s gifted by her master for a set that seemed even further beyond her station in opulence. The black and purple garb wrapped her body with both graceful flow and martial structure. The tight under layer was accentuated by looser outer layers, yet nothing seemed capable of inhibiting the wearers movements.

Her companion Isorr had adopted a style similar to his master, an dark hooded cloak worn over a suit of armor. Though without the funds of a Sith Lord or Arlia’s knack for acquiring goods, the outfit didn’t hold the same grandeur as Syrosk’s. But still, Isorr was Sith, and knew what was required of Sith, and the reinforced armorweave served him just fine. There were no new additions to the markings upon the face of the dark skinned Zabrak, but there was a fierce determination in his eyes, one distinguishable from the haughty superiority he held in previous months.

Vurt was next, and of all the apprentices, he was the only one who seemed to dress down from his old attire. His body was wrapped in a simplistic set of black robes. Form-fitting, with no excess layers. Almost a pitch-black variant of acolytes robes, with the added protected of sturdy boots and wrist guards. But in its simplicity it had managed to convey a message fitting its wearer, one with no tolerance for needless expressions. If there was one thing that would never change, it would be the cold, silent brutality that rest behind the eyes of the orange Nikto.

Nesk hadn’t lost his ability to stand out from the crowd. The sandy-scaled Trandoshan and his companion were of one mind, as he too returned to the basics with his attire. Discarding the extraneous layers, the warrior protected his torso with a simplistic armorweave bodysuit. The thick material ended at his elbows and knees, leaving the lizard’s clawed hands and feet unadorned. He had opted for simplicity, allowing his mere presence to speak for itself. One atypical addition was a necklace that draped around his neck, baring a number of teeth and talons taken from fallen prey from the wilds of Korriban since his apprenticeship.

Ryloh possessed probably the greatest departure from his fellow apprentices, but the most in line with his previous studies. Loose fitting black robes befitting an inquisitor. A hooded, long sleeve jacket wrapped around his upper body, while his lower half was covered by a more traditional robe skirt. The only color in the Twi’lek’s appearance came from his light blue skin, exposed only above his neck. While the female Twi’lek’s lekku were wrapped in black cloth, Ryloh’s remain unadorned, draped in front of him and over his chest.

Kar’ai’s outfit greatly differed from her companion’s. Whereas the inquisitor had chosen flowing, conservative garb, she had opted for the opposite. Her lower half was protected by a form-fitting armorweave leggings and sturdy boots, whilst her torso was covered by little more than a skin tight wrapping around her neck and chest. Her arms and midriff uncovered, the warrior proudly displayed her toned physique and the numerous tribal markings that graced her pale flesh.

The eight students stood, eyes glued to the back of their master as the alien lord stood watch over the horizon, the only one amongst them who's appearance had not changed one bit in his time at the Academy.

“Students…” Syrosk began. “It’s been quite some time since we’ve convened atop this mountain. You’ve all shown remarkable progress as Sith, You’ve displayed great strength and cunning, and a willingness to persist despite all obstacles. You’ve endured hardships not only physical, but emotional as well. You’ve been deceived, by others, as well as myself. You were delivered here by a man who never meant for you to be true Sith. And by removing you from his classrooms, I cannot say that I have granted you the status of a proper graduate of this Academy. But I have trained you in the fashion I believe you all deserving of. In a manner that cares not for your family, your lineage, or your species, but for your skills.”

Syrosk turned to face his students directly. “And you have all proven yourselves skilled individuals. But no matter the individual, you will inevitably find yourselves impeded by limitations. As Sith, we believe ourselves capable of surpassing any such limitation through mastery of the Force. But even our connection to the Force can prove insufficient. The Empire draws its strength from remarkable individuals, but it is the individual whom holds it back. Isorr, would you care to recite the Sith code?”

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion,” Isorr spoke up. “Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, power. Through power, victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall set me free.”

“Very good,” Syrosk rasped. “Simple enough guidelines. However, where there is simplicity, there is room for misinterpretation. We take passions to mean rage. Power to mean dominance. And victory to be achieved by any means necessary. Too many Sith believe that for one to ascend, others must fall. But instead of focusing that energy on the enemy, they turn on their brothers and sisters within the Order. I believe the selfishness that currently plagues the Sith will be its downfall.”

“So that’s why you placed the eight of us in pairs?” Kar’ai suggested.

“In part,” Syrosk admitted. “As much as the Sith extol the virtues of the individual, they know that true strength cannot be gained without interaction. The bond between a master and his apprentice. A Sith Lord and his domain. The transfer of knowledge and skills from one person to another, from generation to generation. The new generation believes that anything beyond self-sufficiency is weakness. That couldn’t be further from the truth. More than half my life was spent within the Empire before the Great War started. Things were different back then. The entirety of the Sith Empire cooperated in anticipation of achieving their one, singular goal. Proving their superiority over the Republic. We had constructed the greatest military force in the galaxy, and not through the chronic backstabbings and betrayals that infest the Empire today.”

“So we’re your attempt at returning to the good ol’ days?” Arlia joked.

“If that were true, I wouldn’t have chosen you lot,” Syrosk corrected. “As much as I admire the state of operations back then, the Sith Empire possessed the same, if not more distaste of aberrant beings amongst its populace. My intentions are to merely consolidate the pasts, and futures, that I have seen, and use that knowledge to influence the next generation of Sith.”

“I understand the benefits of the eight of us remaining in such close contact over these past months,” Lorrik admitted. “Bouncing between cooperation and competition, it provides us with more than a single master could ever impart upon their apprentice. But you never did fully explain the reasoning behind the pairings.”

“Perhaps,” Syrosk rasped. “Then again, who’s to say it has a meaning beyond the one you assign to it? I mean, I have provided you no reason, and yet here you all stand, side by side with your companion, each pairing displaying the effect you’ve had on one another whether you realize it or not. You’ve each formed a bond unlike any other on this planet.”

“There is reasoning behind all things, whether we realize it or not,” Lorrik recalled. “That is what you told us after we returned from the wastes of said planet. I don’t believe you would cultivate something without a proper motivation.”

“I suppose you are correct,” Syrosk admitted. “In the inception of your previous classrooms, students were divided and parsed by certain elements. Species, background, gender, but the most important was your skillset. You all recall your first days after arriving at Korriban, being tested and assigned either the designation of warrior or inquisitor. I had the idea of pairing students years ago, but was cautious in carrying it out. I had seen firsthand the perils of certain types of Sith interacting with one another. Two warriors or two inquisitors with the same beliefs, same ambitions did not suit my plan. If you were to reach your fullest potential, I required you to face certain challenges.”

“But you put the warriors in charge of picking an inquisitor," Jresh declared. "We could have chosen anyone, regardless of how they compared to ourselves."

“Yes, you could have. But you didn’t,” Syrosk bluntly stated. “You all chose someone who ended up being a natural foil, yet compatible with the most integral aspects of your being.”

“By mere chance?” Ryloh asked.

“Surely by now you understand that there is no such thing as chance,” Syrosk declared. “But the main reason for these pairings will be revealed after today’s task. You’ve all constructed your lightsabers. You’ve all harnessed the power of the Force. In all capacities, you ought to be considered true Sith, regardless of whatever standing you may possess amongst the Empire at large. However, there yet remains a trial that you must complete. One that every acolyte or apprentice must endure at some point in their lives.”

Lorrik scratched his chin as his gaze drifted toward the ground. “Really? It seems like we’ve done practically everything in one form or another.”

“Is that so?" Syrosk teasingly rasped. "How familiar are you all with the surrounding tombs?”

Syart's Avatar


Syart
02.01.2013 , 12:42 PM | #104


Finally finished reading all the way through. Magnificently awesome, epically amazing, wonderfully fantastic. I truly love it. Thank you Osetto
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.01.2013 , 10:47 PM | #105
Quote: Originally Posted by Syart View Post


Finally finished reading all the way through. Magnificently awesome, epically amazing, wonderfully fantastic. I truly love it. Thank you Osetto
You have my thanks for your thanks. And alongside them, I feel I should offer some apologies. Updates have been few and far between, and I know that can really upset someone's ability to enjoy a story. I can only imagine the frustration for anyone whose stuck around since I started this almost a year ago. We got, what, twenty four chapters to go, and I find myself drawn away from writing by schoolwork and other distractions. Every so often the drive to continue wanes but knowing that someone out there enjoys my work is enough to keep me going, so again, thanks.

And I also know that seeing this story bumped with my name as the last post only to find no content can be rather disappointing, so I guess I'll have to get the next chapter out sooner rather than later to make up for it.

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.02.2013 , 02:27 AM | #106
Chapter Two: Tombs

The students began to mumble and stir as they surreptitiously consorted with their companions, none willing to speak up. Their master meanwhile, let out one of his low chortles.

“It is understandable,” Syrosk stated. “Tash likely instructed his instructors to keep his students in the dark about anything beyond the boundaries of your halls. Even the normal students risk raising the ire of certain Sith if they go into a tomb unsanctioned. And with the war going on, getting students ready for battle takes priority over picking them entirely clean.”

“Are we planning to ‘raise the ire of certain Sith’ by going into these tombs?” Lorrik asked.

“Not quite,” Syrosk declared. “There are far too many groups interested in the tombs around the Academy. Not to mention the fact that they’ve already been sifted through. No, instead, we will be turning our attention toward more bountiful grounds. Grounds long since forgotten.”

“Sith rarely tend to ‘forget’ about anything that they could use to their benefit,” Arlia suggested.

“I suppose you are correct. ‘Abandoned’ would likely serve as a better descriptor,” Syrosk admitted. “Whenever a powerful Sith leaves something behind after their death, it is only a matter of time before someone seeks to claim it for themselves. However, here on Korriban, there rests an area relatively untouched for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A Valley of Forgotten Lords.”

Isorr balked. “Forgotten lords? They mustn’t have accomplished much in their lifetimes then.”

“Few have the privilege of having their names survive centuries after their death,” Syrosk explained. “This galaxy is inhabited by forgetful peoples. And those who do remember, often see to it that no one else does.”

“There are those who actively seek the destruction of history,” Lorrik added. “But I never took the Sith to be amongst them.”

“So how do you know about them then?” Kar’ai questioned her master.

“Knowledge of these tombs isn’t that rare,” Syrosk admitted. “Anyone connected to or influenced by the artifact trade knows where to find them. Usually such places would have been picked clean by now, but that is not the case.”

“What’s keeping people out?” Ryloh asked.

“The only thing capable of stopping a Sith… fear,” Syrosk plainly stated. “When a Sith passes on, they’ll often do everything in their power to prevent their assets from passing on undeservingly. Ancient droids, alchemical creations, old but potent defenses line the halls of any truly powerful lord to keep out anyone unworthy of their possessions. Only one of the tombs in this particular area was opened, and the surveyors were immediately wiped out. The Sith Lord who ordered the excavation sent more and more of his underlings to their doom, until he himself delved into the tomb. Upon clearing each and every chamber of its defenses, he had discovered that his efforts had been for naught. What he gained in a small allotment of mediocre artifacts could not have made up for the utter decimation of his dominion. None were willing to risk what he did delving the other tombs. And so they remained untouched. Until today.”

“So, just so I understand correctly. We’ll be trying to succeed where the combined might of a Sith Lord and his entire power base failed?” Lorrik hesitantly asked.

“All for what might end up being a worthless endeavor?” Arlia added.

“This shall be anything but worthless, should you succeed,” Syrosk replied. “Any artifacts or treasures you come across in these tombs will simply be an added bonus. The true benefit lies in the journey.”

“Ah, you’re not going soft on us now are you, master?” Kar’ai joked.

“There is a good chance you will die in these tombs if you are not cautious,” Syrosk admitted. “This isn’t a time for mind games, or wordy speeches about what you are supposed to learn…”

“That time comes when we all come back safely, doesn’t it?” Lorrik added, his previous worriedness tempered with a jocularity.

Syrosk kept his cold stare affixed to the Human. “If you do all return, then I can take solace in the fact that you’ve heeded my lessons until this point. But if not… as I said before, I have plans in place should any of you perish.”

“And it’s gets more refreshing each time you repeat it,” Lorrik muttered.

“This is a trial, right?” Isorr asked. “That means we’ll be inevitably judged on something. So what is it going to be this time?”

“We’ll take a shuttle to the valley in a short while,” Syrosk explained. “Each pair will enter a separate tomb, and be judged on what they bring back. You’re free to stay in the tomb as long as you wish, but the shuttle will return to the Academy six hours after we begin. Unless you intend to make another trek across the wastes, this time with no rations, I suggest you make it back in time. Any questions?”

The students had none.

“Alright then. To the shuttle”

----------

The Sith Lord led his apprentices to a docked shuttle, the same one that once dropped them off in the wastes of Korriban. Although the silence of the previous trip had been replicated, the mood within the passenger bay had not. Each student kept to themselves, interrupting the quiet only for a brief aside with their partner now and again. Months ago, when they were eight acolytes preparing themselves for the dangerous trek that awaited them, there was a trepidation in their hearts.

But not this day. Within the shuttle’s seats, each student had a determined glint in their eyes. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had. They were not the eight students they were when they left for the wastes. And yet they once more found themselves being thrust into a life or death situation at the behest of their master. Each student knew of the dangers they might face that day. The lack of fear surging through their hearts was not made possible through ignorance, but the cultivation of strength, both physical and mental.

The shuttle flew for what felt like hours. For as much as they had advanced, spending time isolated in the drowning noise of the vessel’s passenger bay still proved uncomfortable for some of the students. The deprivation of their senses continued to burden the travelers. But even the most hotheaded of them managed to stay cool. Syrosk watched over his students from the rear of the vessel with his usual stern visage. Lorrik thought to speak at many moments, but held his tongue. He had chosen to mimic his partner, finding solace in meditation.

When the vessel finally arrived at its destination, the students exited the shuttle into a world between the light and darkness. The valley their master had described seemed more a fissure stretching deep below the surrounding terrain. As they stood looking up into the Korriban sky, they found their peripherals cut off by the jagged edges of suffocating ridges, much of the valley basked in shadows. The tombs Syrosk spoke of were carved into and out of the walls of these parted cliff faces. A series of structures lined the ridge walls to their left and right. One had shown signs of disturbance, the others remained remarkably clean, touched only by the abrasive winds that blew through the fissure.

“Students,” Syrosk spoke up. “The Valley of Forgotten Lords.”

Arlia passed her gaze around the enclosed area. “Now I can see why they were forgotten. Even the most ambitious of tomb robbers wouldn’t think to look all the way out here.”

“I don’t understand,” Isorr stated, scratching his chin. “When a Sith constructs a tomb, it isn’t meant to be something tucked away and hidden. It is to be a monument to their power. A grand display of their wealth and influence to their lessers, almost teasing them with what might lay behind their walls. Sith don’t waste resources just to fade into obscurity.”

“Maybe their status today was unintended,” Lorrik suggested. “A thousand years is a long time, maybe this area held more significance when these tombs were constructed.”

“Or maybe these aren’t our usual Sith,” Jresh offered, sternly panning his gaze between the tombs. The large entrances to each tomb offered little indication to the size and grandeur of what rest behind them. Formed entirely from stone, the structures were undoubtedly ancient.

“If these date back to the golden age, they might be more Sith than any of us could ever hope to be,” Lorrik admitted.

Syrosk reigned in his apprentices. “Students. As you can see, here lay six tombs, only one of which has been previously exhumed. That gives you free reign to choose whichever one you like. As stated before, each pair will have a tomb to themselves. Crack it open, search its halls, and bring back something valuable. Your six hours start now.”

The Sith Lord abruptly ceased speaking amidst his unremarkable stance near the shuttle. The students puzzled for a moment, unsure of how to proceed, but realized time was of the essence. No one had heard of a tomb being cleared in a single day, let alone six hours. The eight apprentices split up, each pair darting off in separate directions. Each made their way to one of the towering gateways of stone and terrain that guarded the burial halls of long dead Sith.

Isorr and Arlia made their way to the tomb nearest the shuttle. Kar’ai led Ryloh to the one built into the opposite stone wall. Nesk and Vurt meanwhile made their way further into the valley with utmost haste. That left Lorrik and Jresh to advance with a tempered pace. They had their eyes set on an unassuming structure a short walk away. Unassuming by comparison at least. The tomb entrances were something any archeologist would love to behold, but set up adjacent to one another, there were few distinguishable details available to the students.

They knew little of the structures’ true ages or purposes. Their knowledge of ancient Sith left them with little belief that someone of importance oversaw the construction of one or more of these tombs. They didn’t even know if they were six separate burial sites, or the strange execution of one strange Sith’s strange ambitions.

The Human and Pureblood came to a stop in front of a large stone slab surrounded by pillars and eroded stone supports. The sand colored gateway was grandiose in stature, if not design, stretching high and wide, its door a greater size than any humanoid. If it could even be called a door. All the stood before the pair was a single, uniform slab of stone inlayed beyond the structural archway, no evidence of a partition or recess.

“So… how do we go about cracking open this tomb?” Lorrik asked his companion. The Sith silently made his forward until he stood directly in front of the solid barrier. Placing his hand upon the stone slab, he lightly felt the surface with the palm of his gloved hand.

“We make a crack,” Jresh stoically offered. Removing his hand, he drew it in close to his chest, taking in a deep breath as he concentrated and closed his eyes. Lorrik tilted his head before taking a cautious step back. With a powerful exertion of the Force, Jresh struck the center of the barrier with his open palm. As his hand impacted against the stone, a shockwave radiated in the opposite direction, blowing away the nearby dust and sand and almost knocking Lorrik off his feet.

Steadying himself, the Human watched as a fracture began to form beneath his companion’s hand. The crack traveled upward until it bisected the slab from top to bottom.

“Did… did that do it?” Lorrik asked, somewhat marveling at his partner’s work. Jresh looked up and down the surface, scratching his chin as he studied the newly formed crack.

“No. The slab’s still firmly in place,” Jresh admitted. “However, I believe its integrity has been compromised. Lorrik, come over here.” The inquisitor complied, standing by his companion as the two of them looked upon the stone barrier. “Looks like we’re going to have to push our way in.”

“Works for me,” Lorrik nonchalantly added. The two of them began to move in sync, concentrating their minds and their bodies. Together they focused, pulling their hands in close to their chests. The Human and Pureblood shared a look and a mutual nod, before each taking a deep breath. A moment later, they exhaled and coupled it with the outthrust of their hands. The combined might of their synchronized Force pushes fully cracked the slab into two pieces which were sent flying into the tomb’s darkened interior.

Lorrik and Jresh turned and gripped one another’s hand in mutual respect and cordiality. The pair turned their gazes toward the shadowed hall and slowly made their way into the tomb. The structure’s interior possessed little in the way of visible flourishes. Only hard and uniform walls of stone on all sides. The warrior and inquisitor passed the threshold of the archway, and with each step the intruding light faded to darkness. Lorrik unhooked the saber from his belt and igniting its blue blade. The light emanated from the saber and illuminated the pair’s path. Side by side, they advanced into the darkness, no torches or fixtures aiding their venture deeper into the tomb.

“It’s weird… I expected giant statues, or murals, or something like that to greet us,” Lorrik admitted. “Isorr had a point, usually the only Sith to construct tombs are the ones trying to make a statement. This one doesn’t seem to be saying anything at all.”

“Sometimes silence is the most impactful of statements,” Jresh stated.

“Ever the warrior-poet, aren’t you?” Lorrik teased. “I just hope we manage to find something within these halls.” The path they traveled ended at a fork, splitting into two different halls. “Be sure to make a mental map of this place, I’d hate to be late getting back.”

The two made their way deeper into the tomb, traversing winding and branching halls, never coming across anything resembling a larger chamber. Looking back and forth, there was nothing but darkness to the front and rear of the pair. Just as caution was beginning to change to boredom, something caused the apprentices to freeze in their tracks. Originating from somewhere deeper within the tomb, a sound echoed through the halls. A harrowing sound. A dreadful howl.

“Uh… Jresh…” Lorrik muttered.

“Stay alert. We are not alone,” Jresh declared, retrieving and igniting his lightsaber.

The red and blue glow of their weapons revealed nothing in the immediate area. Slowly they continued their advance, cautious step after cautious step. As Jresh took the forward position, Lorrik took up the rear. While the warrior pressed forward, an unfamiliar fear began to fester within the inquisitor. Unfamiliar, and yet something within him recognized it.

After making their way through countless halls for half an hour, the pair finally came across an open area. The passageway widened until it opened into a full-fledged chamber. Large stone pillars supported the tall roof, upon which sat crystal fixtures that glowed brighter and brighter as the two Sith drew closer. The budding light illuminated more and more of the room, but it wasn’t needed to see what rested in its center. Etched onto the ground in the middle of the chamber was a circle accompanied by a series of markings and runes, a brilliant red glow emanating from them. But as intriguing as the designs were, what immediately captured the attention of the two intruders was what currently stood within the markings.

A large humanoid basked in the light of the runed designs, and yet was cloaked in shadows. Its arms were crossed in front of its chest, and its head hung low as if in some form of stasis. The Human and Pureblood halted their progress, gazing upon the figure from afar.

“Jresh…” Lorrik barely managed to utter, his voice overflowing with hesitance. As soon as the word echoed throughout the chamber, it was followed by a resounding crash. The red lights beneath the mysterious figure began to fade, and its shadowed form began to be revealed. As the darkness faded, so did its stillness. It uncrossed its arms and raised its head, arching and stretching itself in the process.

The figure was like nothing the pair had laid eyes on before, and yet Lorrik knew he had seen it. A monstrous figure, standing tall yet hunched, a mix of man and beast. Its form was jagged, spurred, and crimson. The bulky figure stood taller than either of the intruders, yet bore an uncanny resemblance to one of them, albeit in some debased form. The crimson humanoid was lightly garbed, only tattered cloths concealing its lower body. From its unconcealed flesh sprouted boney spurs and spikes upon its arms and back. Its eyes glowed with a golden ferocity as they settled upon the two intruders.

“That’s the thing from my dream. The thing that killed me.”

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.09.2013 , 01:27 PM | #107
Chapter Three: Monsters

Lorrik’s eyes widened as his entire body began to shiver. Jresh meanwhile looked upon the awakening foe with his usual stoicism.

“Massassi…” Jresh muttered.

“Huh?” Lorrik replied, momentarily snapping out of his worried trance.

“An old sub-species of Sith. Warrior caste.”

“You mean you and this thing have the same blood?” Lorrik asked in a hushed tone, trying to convince himself he could delay attracting any more attention. The Pureblood remained silent as he continued to eye the creature.

It was ancient, of a breed lost to time. The spikes and fins that sprouted from its joints and back were exaggerated and deformed compared to any found on present day Sith. It’s hands had only four digits, in the form of elongated, sharpened claws. More disturbing was their condition. Deviating from the crimson of the rest of its crimson hide, its hands were pitch black, as if they were dipped to their forearms in ink.

“The Massassi were warriors. Stalwart. Strong. But nothing like this,” Jresh declared. “Sith Alchemy was responsible for our ability to breed with the Dark Jedi. I’d say it’s also responsible for the corrupted being that stands before us.”

“Why is it just standing there? If it’s the tomb’s defender, shouldn’t it be attacking us?” Lorrik asked. The glowing eyes of the awakened creature had connected with the Pureblood’s, and there they continued to fall.

“It’s likely as intrigued by me as we are of it,” Jresh stated. “Lorrik, there’s an opening at the opposite end of the chamber. You go ahead, I’ll handle this.”

“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” Lorrik replied. “I’m not leaving you alone with this thing. I know how dangerous it can be.”

“As do I, which is why I’m asking you to let me handle this,” Jresh stated. “You sense we’re at the end of the tomb, correct? That this is our only obstacle? Find whatever this thing is guarding. Get us something to bring back to Syrosk.”

“And let you fight this thing alone? No way. You remember what Syrosk said. This trial is supposed to be about cooperation. Working together.”

“This is cooperating. I handle the beast, you secure our item for Syrosk,” Jresh explained.

“You don’t understand! You don’t know what it’s like to see your own death!”

“Lorrik, it’s okay. You once told we that we are not defined by our pasts. I would say that we are not defined by our futures either. Whatever dream, whatever vision you may have had, it cannot be allowed to define us. Control us. This trial isn’t just about working together. It’s about believing in one another. Fear is what kept these tombs closed. Fear is what holds us back. It okay to be afraid, so long as it does not control you. I believe in you. Do you believe in me?”

“Yes.”

“Then I am more than capable of handling this,” Jresh declared as he took a step toward the waiting creature.

“This thing is the tomb’s defense system, you really think it’ll just let me walk away?”

“I don’t plan on giving it a choice,” Jresh bluntly said as he readied his saber, the glow of the crimson blade lighting up his determined visage.

The inquisitor fell silent, steeling himself as he powered down his own weapon. Within the half-darkness, Lorrik offered one final nod to his companion before stepping away, carefully maneuvering around the chamber’s outer limits. The creature’s neck began to swivel as it followed the Human’s path. Just as it thought to intercept, the guardian was interrupted by a sharp whistle emanating from the other intruder. Jresh remained adamant in his stance, eyes burning a hole through the Massassi.

“This is between you and me.”

The Pureblood couldn’t tell if the beast could comprehend his language, but as its glowing eyes began to sharpen, he believed there to be a firm understanding. Two warriors. Two Sith. Two impurities.

Beyond the monstrous defender, Jresh could see the outline of his companion on the far side of the chamber as he ventured deeper into the tomb. With a twirl of his wrist, the Pureblood reaffirmed his grip on his weapon, the black hilt resting firmly within the palm of his gauntleted hand. As the warrior readied himself, he was surprised to see the guardian continuing to stand in the center of the chamber, no apparent change in thought or demeanor. Only the enduring burden of his glowing gaze.

But still it did not act. Standing taller than even the mighty Pureblood whilst still in its hunched stance. Jresh knew that every second he bought his partner was worth it, but was hesitant to simply stand there staring down his opponent. For all its abnormalities, Jresh knew not what went through the head of his opponent. It could have been nothing. It could have been everything he hoped to prevent. Though he awaited the defender to make the first strike, the Pureblood was forced to act as the monstrosity began to turn away and lumber toward his departing companion.

“No you don’t,” Jresh muttered as he charged toward his opponent.

Raising his weapon high, the Pureblood sought to bring the saber down upon the abomination with a powerful overhead slash. But the monster moved with a ferocious speed unbefitting its large form. The Massassi spun upon its sharpened heel to face the crimson intruder just before his attack could land. Rather than dodge, the guardian used its immense speed instead to raise a single blackened hand.

Jresh’s eyes widened with alarm as he found his saber’s path inhibited. In the midst of its downward swing, it had been halted by the monster’s corrupted paw. As it clenched its grip, its sharpened talons encircled the crimson beam, seemingly ignoring the immense heat of the blade’s plasma. As it held the ignited blade within its black claws, the beast’s eyes met with the Pureblood’s once more. Their orange glow had intensified, any aspect of fear utterly absent from the guardian’s visage. Face to face, the Massassi stood a full head taller than the armored Pureblood. The monster’s countenance began to contort into a billowing snarl, baring the sharpened teeth that rest within its maw.

The beast’s grip began to tighten around the blade, until its claws managed to pierce the beam’s containment field. The loop of energy broke, and the crimson blade rescinded into its hilt. Jresh took an immediate leap back, putting some distance between himself and the abomination. As he held the hilt within his hand, he struggled to reactivate it, some portion of its inner workings disrupted. The Pureblood looked up to see his foe patiently staring at him. Waiting. Seeped in arrogance, yet totally stoic.

“If that’s how you want it,” Jresh calmly stated as he returned the hilt to his belt. With a deep breath, the Pureblood steadied himself and raised his fists. Finally did the Massassi begin to unfurl. Cracking its neck, beast widened its stance and placed its arms as its sides, hands spread open and bearing their clawed digits.

----------

Further into the tomb, Lorrik carefully crept forward through the singular hall that led him away from the previous chamber. Looking back, only the faintest hint of a glow emanated from the room in which his companion faced off against the lone guardian of the tomb. He had yet to pick up any sounds of battle or commotion, but that did little to put his mind at ease. The inquisitor knew he had to continue, find something to make the entire ordeal worth the effort.

Eyes returning to the path ahead, the troubling thoughts swirling through the Human’s head suddenly settled as he noticed a new light source in the distance. Faint, but pulsing, drawing the inquisitor closer with an alluring warmth. His eyes widened as the concern slowly drained from his mind. With each step, his feet felt lighter, as if he were floating toward the next chamber. Any sense of trepidation or hesitance was gone from the inquisitor’s mind. And it infuriated him.

Lorrik knew when someone, something, was playing with his mind. Jresh was correct in suggesting the Massassi was the only defender of the tomb, but that didn’t mean it was its sole inhabitant. The inquisitor pressed forward, complying with the call yet retaining control of his own direction. At least, that’s what he told himself.

----------

The Massassi lunged toward the Pureblood, lashing out with the long, broad swipes of its claws. Jresh began on the defensive, ducking and weaving as he stepped back from the advancing beast. Continuing his retreat, the warrior found his path obstructed as his back struck into one of the sizable pillars that graced the chamber. His eyes widened as he watched the abomination thrust its right claws toward his face. Jresh lowered himself just in time to miss the creature’s sharpened digits digging themselves into his skull, as they instead bore themselves into the stone pillar. Seeing the Massassi’s hand stuck inches into the column, the Pureblood went on the offensive.

Jresh delivered several quick jabs to the creature’s abdomen, before being swatted away by the monster. The Pureblood recoiled from the back of the Massassi’s free hand striking his face, spinning and recovering a few steps away. As the guardian struggled to remove his imbedded claw, Jresh brandished his saber and attempted to ignite it. The red plasma briefly flashed before promptly shutting off, refusing to properly activate. The warrior let out a disgruntled growl as he saw his opponent free itself from the stone column.

The Massassi closed fast, raising its right hand before hammering it down upon the Pureblood. Jresh intercepted the strike, halting the beast’s attack as he clutched its forearm with his gauntlets. The towering guardian continued to press down upon the intruder, his arms growing tired, his stance weakening. As the Pureblood focused his attention on the arm within his grasp, he couldn’t defend against the other being driven into his side. The blackened fist crashed into his ribs, the force of the blow passing through the armorweave covering. The warrior’s knees buckled and he slumped to the ground, his lightsaber slipping from his grasp and clattering as it skidded across the cold floor.

----------

Lorrik was at the threshold of the next chamber. The image before him became clearer and clearer. In the next room, there rest a single stone pedestal , upon which sat a single glowing artifact. A Sith holocron. The small pyramid pulsed with a glowing red light, enticing the inquisitor to investigate. Stepping into the compact chamber, Lorrik saw no further passages. He had reached the furthest depths of the tomb. Slowly, he approached the artifact, keeping his wits about him as he shuffled through the dimly lit chamber.

With a few steps, the Human now stood in front of the item, studying it. The artifact’s glow seemed to intensify in his presence. The holocron was ornately designed, smooth black material decorated with red flourishes, with an intricate latticework of interior workings. All of which small enough to comfortable hold within his hand. Lorrik reached out, licking his lips as his fingers hovered just in front of the artifact. With a deep breath, he made contact. Before he could even exhale he found himself being tossed backward as an invisible force radiated from the holocron. The inquisitor landed hard on his back at the threshold of the chamber.

Letting out a soft groan, Lorrik raised himself, only to find something new between himself and the holocron. Something of humanoid size and form, ethereal, through which he could still see the hazy image of the glowing artifact. As he studied the figure, he realized it was the opposite of what he had encountered in the room before. Thin. Regal. No sign of Sith heredity. A Human, clad in black robes, staring at the downed inquisitor.

“I am the gatekeeper for this holocron,” the image stated with a dull, monotonous tone. “What is it that you seek?”

Lorrik kept his eyes on the ethereal figure as he raised himself from the ground. Standing, dusting himself off, he eyed the image up and down with a perturbed look in his eyes.

“You’re no construct…” Lorrik muttered. “You think I wouldn’t recognize a Force ghost?”

The spirit’s stoicism washed away, his mouth curling into a sinister smile. “It would seem I have misjudged you. I felt you and your other’s presence the moment you breached my tomb. You didn’t make a great first impression. I simply assumed your knowledge to be comparable to your strength.”

“Like I haven’t been talked down to by older Sith,” Lorrik admitted. “You just happen to have a few hundred years on the usual ones.”

The spirit balked. “A few hundred years? Boy, you have no comprehension of who you stand before, do you?”

“No. So why don’t you tell me?”

----------

The Massassi hadn’t ceased its pursuit of the Pureblood. It was the first time in his life that he was so physically outmatched by a single opponent. He stayed on the defensive, trying his hardest to avoid the unrelenting swipes of the beast. Every so often, the blackened claws would rake across the warrior’s armor, leaving scratches even on the most reinforced plating. The pair darted back and forth across the room, the guardian lashing out and the Pureblood defending, trying to get in a strike of his own every now and again. But the monster just seemed to shrug each blow off. Even as Jresh drove his gauntleted hands into the flesh of the beast, the Force compounding each strike, his opponent showed no signs of fatigue or damage.

For all his strength, it proved useless against the abomination. The idea was infuriating to the warrior. All his time training turned into nothing against a single foe. In the brief glimpsing into the creature’s eyes, he saw only the intent to kill. Something he had not seen since his childhood. And like then, he was afraid. But it wasn’t the fear of losing his own life. He knew that if he died, Lorrik would be next. And so long as he possessed some semblance of power, he would use it to protect that which he cared about.

Jresh halted his retreat, spinning on his heels to let out a powerful Force push, releasing a primal roar as he did so. The shockwave surged toward the creature, halting its advance and pushing it back. It managed to remain upright, digging its feet into the stone as its slid backward. As the Massassi steadied itself, it looked up to see its opponent standing still, staring it directly in the eyes.

The warrior was done retreating. As he stared down his opponent, he could hear his mother’s words within his head.

“Strength is not raw power. It is control. Fueled by passions but never defined by them. You must control yourself. Then you might control your surroundings. Be at peace with your emotions, and you can draw from them at your own accord. Then you can find your strength.”

With a deep breath, Jresh readied himself. “Round two.”

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Osetto
02.20.2013 , 06:09 PM | #108
Chapter Four: Beliefs

Jresh charged toward his enemy, not with some unruly rage, but with focus. With a stoic visage, he closed in on his monstrous foe before leaping and delivering a powerful fist to the creature’s face. The blow forced the Massassi to take a knee, where it released a primal roar, shaking the chamber.

The beast lunged forward, attempting to tackle the Pureblood. Jresh fell backward of his own accord, anticipating his opponent’s movements. As the abomination surged forward, the warrior slipped beneath it in one smooth motion. Jresh brought his legs in tight, before extending them into a powerful kick to the beast’s midsection. Channeling the Force, the Pureblood was able to send the Massassi flying backward.

----------

Lorrik looked back down the path he had traveled as the roaring echoes from the previous chamber reached him. The Human’s eyes began to subtly dart back and forth as he saw only the faintest light at the other end of the passageway.

“He can’t win, you know,” the spirit taunted. His voice chilled Lorrik to his core, each smooth syllable bypassing the senses completely to connect directly to his mind. The inquisitor returned his gaze to the ethereal Human, who took to standing politely with his hands tucked behind his back.

“I believe in him,” Lorrik softly stated.

“Is that so? And why would that be?”

“Because he needs me to believe in him. Because I need me to believe in him.”

The spirit let out a snide chuckle. “Of course, that’s what’s been holding back the Jedi and Sith, none of them ever believed in anything. One day you’ll find your beliefs will only hold you back, boy.”

Lorrik paused, staring as the figure’s ghostly visage. “You’re probably right. But until that day, I’ll do whatever I damned well please.”

“Oh ho, the boy does have the making of a Sith, doesn’t he?” the spirit teased, rubbing his ghostly chin. “Let me guess, you’ve come to pilfer this tomb, find some lost artifact belonging to some ancient entity so that you can finally kill your master, or your rival, or whoever it is you feel yourself deserving of dominance over?”

“We came at our master’s behest. To find something worth bringing back. And I’ve already found something,” Lorrik explained.

“Really? Do enlighten me.”

“Knowledge.”

“Rather presumptive of you to believe I’d simply let you have my holocron.”

“I’m not talking about any physical tome,” Lorrik declared. The spirit arched his brow as his attention focused upon the intruder. “Before I came to Korriban, I was afraid. Afraid of what might happen to myself and my family before I ever knew I was Force-sensitive. After beginning my training, I was still afraid. Afraid of where I was heading and what I was leaving behind. After I became an apprentice, I was afraid. Afraid of what might happen if I wasn't strong enough. But I’m not afraid anymore. Because of the man fighting back there. He lends me his strength, and I lend him mine. And together, we can accomplish anything.”

The spirit cast a harsh look into the inquisitor eyes, holding it for what felt like an eternity, before letting out a loud, drawn out yawn. “That’d surely be interesting… if it were true. You hide your thoughts well, boy, but your emotions are easy enough to read. If you are not afraid, why do you keep looking back? If you are not afraid why must you continuously remind yourself that you are not? There is belief… and there is delusion.”

“And what is it that you believe in?” Lorrik asked.

“Myself. Me and me alone. That is what sustained me for hundreds of years. That is what allows my spirit to persist beyond my body’s demise. The willingness and belief to do whatever is necessary to achieve ascension.”

“And yet here you are. Dead. Trapped in a tomb. A selfish Sith buried by his fellows. How’s that for ascension?”

“I have not yet faded from this realm. The death of the body is a mere setback for the truly powerful.”

“Powerful? You’ve a single tomb holding a single holocron protected by a single guardian. I don’t know what the Order was like in your day but-”

Lorrik found himself unable to complete his sentence as an invisible force overtook him. His limbs stiffened and he began to lose control of most of his body. Frozen, the inquisitor watched as the ethereal specter darkened and adopted a harsh, blood-red hue, tenebrous shadows pooling beneath his feet. Slowly, Lorrik was lifted off his feet as it became harder to draw each new breath.

----------

The warrior and beast combatted, Jresh taking calculated moves using the creature’s momentum against it. With each furious slash of its claws, the Pureblood would maneuver around the Massassi, attacking its flank before backing off and preparing for the next exchange.

Jresh’s attention faltered as he felt a creeping darkness emerge from the final chamber. A knot began to form in his gut as he felt his companion in pain. The distraction left the Pureblood open to attack as the abomination brought down a diagonal swipe of its claws upon the warrior. The sharpened and hardened talons raked across Jresh’s face, cutting deep into his flesh and leaving three bleeding wounds across the right side of his head. Three bleeding lines marred his visage from eye to jaw.

----------

“You two share a connection, don’t you?” the sprit taunted as it effortlessly gazed upon the struggling Human. “You know he is in pain. You know he is losing. You know your belief in him amounts to nothing.”

----------

Letting out a pained grumble, the Pureblood found himself next thrown onto his back against the cold stone flooring by the attacking beast. As he lay upon the ground, the Massassi secured a single-handed grip upon the warrior’s neck and chest. The abomination began lifting and slamming the back of the Pureblood’s head against the stone, again and again. With each subsequent slam, Jresh felt himself getting weaker and weaker. As he was struck against the stone once more, he began to feel a dampness pooling within the hairs upon the back of his head.

----------

“That man… is the strongest person I know,” Lorrik declared through struggled breaths. “If my belief amounts to nothing... that just means I'll have more to give.”

----------

In the brief moment between slams, Jresh was able to turn his head. A short distance away, he saw a dark object resting amongst shadows. His lightsaber. With his last bit of energy, he threw out his open hand and focused his mind. The black hilt began to stir upon the stone floor before heeding its master’s call. The Pureblood tugged upon the weapon with the Force until it had made its way into his hands.

Jresh extended the crimson blade and swept the lightsaber between himself and the monster, severing the arm holding him by the neck just above its elbow. The Massassi stumbled backward, clutching at its right stump with its left claw. Jresh meanwhile removed the hand that had chosen to remain firmly around his neck.

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Lorrik dropped to the floor as he was released from the spirit’s lifting hold. The ghost’s previously unwavering stance faltered as he stumbled back, the pooling shadows receding. He appeared weakened, stunned. The inquisitor let out a few wheezing coughs as he attempted to recover. The two figures seemed exhausted, neither able to stand tall.

“It would seem… that you’re not as disconnected you might like to believe,” Lorrik declared.

----------

Jresh rose from the ground, lightsaber in hand, whatever effect the beast had on it having run its course. The Massassi howled as it gripped the charred stump, releasing sounds of frustration rather than outright pain. The Pureblood felt dizzy, but soon regained control of his body. The aches faded as he cast his sharpened gaze upon the creature. Charging forward, Jresh readied his weapon to deliver another sweeping strike.

The beast released its grip on its severed bicep to bat the blade away with his remaining left hand. The saber sparked and crackled with the momentary contact with the back of the monster’s blackened hand, but remained ignited. The Pureblood continued his assault, lashing out with focused swings and calculated thrusts. The Massassi was for once on the defensive, gliding along the stone flooring and deflected whatever blow it could not dodge.

Jresh altered his stance, moving away from powerful two handed strikes to quick jabs and slashes hoping to make it past the abomination’s defenses. Slowly, the warrior was able to chip away at the Massassi’s guard. As the guardian would parry his blows with its blackened claws, Jresh would follow through rather than resist the retaliatory motions. The creature batted the saber away, only for Jresh to spin and return with a wide sweep, raking the crimson blade across the beast’s chest.

The rest of the creature’s hide did not possess the same resistance its hands did. The saber’s blade left a shallow, scorching cut across its recipient’s front. Unable to land a proper finishing blow, Jresh opted to instead land as many minor attacks as he could.

----------

“You believe myself to be connected to that… thing?” the spirit asked, straightening his ghostly stance, his voice still full of pride.

“Yes. Even if you don’t,” Lorrik declared. “It’s a product of Sith Alchemy, correct? The process of altering life itself?”

“As astute observation, boy. Limited, but astute.”

“Why limited?”

“Because I was practicing the art before I had ever stepped foot on Korriban. Before the Jedi even knew of the Sith,” the spirit explained. “Sith Alchemy was the mere practice of primitives until we arrived. No, what we wielded was something much more. The ability to create new forms of life. A dark power, one we went to war with the Jedi over the right to study.”

“Dark Jedi,” Lorrik muttered. “Exiles from the Hundred-Year Darkness. The first Sith Lords.”

----------

Jresh and the Massassi continued to do battle. Numerous cuts marked the creature’s body, but it showed little signs of fatigue or exhaustion. The Pureblood kept up his fight to the fullest, but he knew he could not fight eternally. As the warrior readied another downward swipe of his weapon, the beast extended its arm, ready to grasp the crimson blade. Instead of halting his attack, Jresh deactivated the blade mid swing, reactivating it after the hilt was past the creature’s reach. The extending blade clipped the Massassi’s side as Jresh finished his swing.

Jresh continued his assault, making quick strikes, rescinding and extending the blade of his lightsaber to make it past his enemy’s claws. Each attack could only graze the monster’s body, but the wounds were beginning to add up. Liquid began to seep from the beast’s wounds, the cauterized cuts reopening near places of articulation. A dark red liquid slowly poured from the injuries, an unnatural ichor.

Bringing down his saber one last time, the warrior’s strike was halted by the beast clasping its claw around his wrist. As his right arm was stilled, Jresh delivered a series of blows to the Massassi’s oozing midsection with his free hand. As his fist battered the creature’s abdomen, the guardian slowly twisted the warrior’s wrist, directing the lightsaber’s blade toward its wielder. Jresh shut off the weapon in time to prevent it from cutting into his own flesh. The beast continued to push and twist the Pureblood’s arm, until the emitter of the lightsaber pressed against his chest.

Turning on his heels, Jresh moved inward rather than attempt to escape. Maneuvering the Massassi behind him, his wrist still gripped, the warrior grabbed ahold of the creature’s arm with his free hand. With a hearty grunt, Jresh lifted the beast off the ground, and threw him over his shoulder, slamming the guardian onto the ground in front of him. Just as the Massassi’s back struck the stone floor it released its grip on the Pureblood’s wrist. Igniting his saber one last time, Jresh lowered himself and plunged the crimson blade into the heart of the fallen beast.

As the Massassi lay motionless upon the ground, Jresh withdrew his lightsaber and rose to his feet. For the next few seconds he simply stared at the fallen being, letting out a series of exhausted breaths. Returning the black hilt to his belt, the Pureblood took a single step away from his fallen foe, before his legs began to weaken and falter. Jresh caught a single glimpse of a light at the end of the hall Lorrik had traveled. Before he could take another step, his entire body grew heavy and he slumped to the ground.

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.23.2013 , 11:12 PM | #109
Chapter Five: Paths

The spirit let out a harsh grunt as he clutched at his chest, sinking to his knees. Lorrik turned toward the previous chamber, an unfamiliar coldness brewing within him. Not the usual sinister chill, but one of creeping somberness. Just as the inquisitor began to take a step back toward the hallway, he found his other foot sufficiently glued to the ground. Looking back, Lorrik saw that even as he knelt upon the stone floor, the spirit held out a single clawing hand. A burdening force pressed down on the inquisitor’s body, attempting to hold him in place.

“Do not… turn your back on me…” the spirit harshly commanded through gritted teeth.

“Let me go!” Lorrik directed. “You may not care about that thing in there, but I care about my partner! Your guardian may be dead, but I can save Jresh!”

“Dead?” the spirit replied, maintaining his grip. “You don’t understand, boy, it cannot die. While others used their talents to raise armies, I used mine constructing and molding the perfect killing machine.”

“Anything can be killed… even the dead,” Lorrik declared. “You know this don’t you? Those who draw upon the dark side cannot willingly persist after their bodies perish. Their spirits require a tether. To some idea, some place, some item. But that didn’t suit you did it? You had no idea to cling to. You rejected being limited to any single place. You refused to bind yourself to something of simple material worth. So you chose the one thing you were certain could outlast you. But now you find your tether in danger of being cut. And you are afraid. Afraid of what might happen should my friend and I succeed here today.”

“I have not yet faded, boy… I am still here!”

Lorrik stopped struggling, stopped resisting the spirit’s clutch. His once passionate eyes had relaxed as he stared toward the faint light emanating from the previous chamber. His panicked breathing steadied, and he was overtaken with calm. Even as the spirit attempted to hold him in place, the inquisitor put his strength into facing the ethereal figure.

“Why?” Lorrik asked, soft, almost whispering.

“What?” the spirit replied as his head perked up.

“Why are you still here? Why stick around? Why not move on?”

“Move on? Can you honestly call yourself a Sith?”

“Can you?” Lorrik replied. “Weren’t the Sith just a breed of primitive Force-users to you?”

“I have insight beyond these halls, boy,” the spirit declared. “I have sensed the progression of the Order since its earliest days within this tomb. I have witnessed its changes.”

“And yet for thousands of years you’ve watched and waited. For what? Your time to return? If there hasn’t been a suitable time yet, there never will be. Peace has changed to war and back again, cycle after cycle. The Sith have fallen, only to return. The Jedi have been defeated, only to regain their strength. Are you waiting? Or are you incapable? Is this a tomb, or a prison?”

“I could walk amongst the living at any time should I desire to!” the spirit exclaimed.

“Do you desire to? Do you desire anything? There’s no power to be gained here. You guard no secrets. You think your techniques haven’t been replicated in your absence? Your selfishness helps no one. Not even yourself. Not anymore.”

“You dare to lecture me, boy?” the spirit harshly offered, tightening his grip. Even as the invisible force grew heavier, Lorrik offered only the same stoic visage.

“Then tell me. What is it you hope to accomplish?” Lorrik asked. "Do you want to rule the galaxy? Do you want to be left alone? Do you want to prove something? What?”

“And you think yourself any better than I, little Sith?”

“Yes. I do. I desire freedom, and the knowledge to necessitate it. I desire knowledge, and the freedom to necessitate it. I want to keep moving forward, until I am able to protect the things I care about.”

“And what next? You’ll find out soon enough that Force-users can’t possess normal desires,” the spirit stated, his voice lowered. “We either realize that they are beyond our grasp, or worse yet, we actually achieve them. And then you find yourself asking… what next? What next?”

“Should I find my desires met, I’ll use the rest of my time and energy trying to fix the galaxy.”

The spirit let out a low chortle. “And just who do you think you are to be capable of such a thing?”

“I am the shadow amongst the light. The candle amidst the darkness. I am Lorrik Velash!”

Just as he finished his declaration, the inquisitor released forceful blast of telekinetic energy, breaking free of the spirit’s hold and knocking the ethereal figure back. The spirit was tossed to the floor at the other end of the chamber, landing with his back against the pedestal on which his holocron sat.

“I know who I am. Can you say the same?”

From his seated position, the spirit remained motionless, only a soft noise emanating from him. A low chuckle, growing progressively louder and emotive. Lorrik tilted his head at the fallen ghost until another sound overpowered the laughter. A series of loud thuds resonated in the connecting hall, growing louder by the second. The inquisitor turned to see a large shadow approaching, lumbering.

“Jresh?” Lorrik concernedly whispered. As the figure approached, more and more of its form was revealed. The outline was broad and hunched. As it stepped closer and closer to the light of the chamber, the fearsome facade of the Massassi became clear. The creature’s crimson flesh was marred with countless slashes and cuts from a lightsaber, culminating in the loss of an arm and a single piercing wound carved into its chest. Still it walked upright, determined and unrelenting. Lorrik's legs began to weaken and shake. He took a woozy step back, deeper into the chamber, but there was nowhere to go.

“Well, Mr. Velash… what next?” the spirit’s voice rang out behind him.

Lorrik watched as the beast slowly advanced, driven toward the inquisitor, its clawed feet leaving clacking thuds in its wake. Just as the Human though to react, the monster’s front was illuminated by the presence of a crimson beam of light. The blade of a lightsaber had been thrust through its abdomen, and slowly raised until it had cut up to where the original stabbing wound had been inflicted. The beast’s advance stopped as it bent its swollen neck to gaze into the energy beam piercing its body. As the blade retracted, the Massassi stood with a scorched gash from its stomach to its chest, before falling forward, revealing the Pureblood that stood behind him. A loud thud resonated through the chamber as the Massassi struck the ground.

Jresh continued forward, stepping over the fallen Massassi and deactivating his lightsaber. As he groggily stepped into the final chamber, Lorrik saw a clear picture of the wounds his partner had sustained. The right half of his face was covered in dried blood from the three gashes wrought by the Massassi’s claws. His hair was distraught, much of it caked with blood from the wound in the back of his head. But still he moved, still he pressed forward, driven by some unseen force until he locked eyes with his companion. Seeing his companion standing across from him, safe and sound, the Pureblood cracked a subtle smile before falling forward.

Lorrik rushed forward to catch him, almost being crushed by the weight of his armored partner. Slowly, he lowered himself and the wounded Pureblood to the floor, the inquisitor kneeling and resting his companion’s head within his lap. As Jresh’s eyes grew heavier and heavier, Lorrik struggled to subdue the concern within his own. Cupping the back of his partner’s head, the inquisitor closed his eyes and focused his energies, a dim light emanating from his hands.

Lorrik put forth all his energy attempting to heal the wound in the back of his companion’s head. Slowly, pieces of bone began to settle and fall back into place, flesh regenerating and mending over it. Running his hands through the Pureblood’s matted hair, Lorrik felt no trace of the wound. Withdrawing them however, the Human saw his palms covered in his companion’s blood.

“Jresh. Jresh, are you alright,” Lorrik asked in a hushed manner, concern creeping back into his eyes. The Pureblood adopted a harsh scowl as he let a low grumble slip past his lips, wincing at the three slashes that still covered half his face. Despite the fact that his companion was in pain, Lorrik’s eyes widened with wonder and excitement at the response.

“I may have exaggerated… when I said I was more than capable of handling it,” Jresh muttered with his usual stoicism. The inquisitor let out a soft chuckle.

“Nonsense. I never doubted you for a second,” Lorrik declared.

“I know you didn’t,” Jresh stated as he struggled to lift his head from his partner’s lap. Slowly, the warrior turned over and began to push himself up off the floor. Working to keep his stance straight, the Pureblood saw the ethereal figure at the end of the chamber writhing on the ground, clutching at its abdomen. “Who’s that?”

“The owner of this tomb,” Lorrik plainly stated. Jresh took a few groggy steps toward the spirit who continued to stir.

“How… how did you…” the spirit muttered into the floor. Digging his elbows to the stone floor, the ethereal figure slowly lifted himself from the ground with a hearty grunt. Just as he was half way toward standing, he looked up to see the Pureblood hovering over him. And before he could offer any words, the warrior clenched his fist and delivering a powerful right hook to the spirit’s jaw, sending him crashing back down to the floor. As the ghost lied motionless on the ground, his figure began to slowly fade until he vanished from sight.

“I didn’t know you could punch a ghost,” Lorrik offered as he looked on, baffled.

“Neither did I,” Jresh nonchalantly confessed. Eyeing the holocron on the nearby pedestal, the Pureblood took the pyramid-shaped artifact and held in in his hand, the base of which fit perfectly within the spread of his fingers. “Do you want this?”

“Sure, it'll give us something to bring to Syrosk,” Lorrik stated as he raised himself from the floor, holding out a hand to receive the artifact. The warrior tossed the holocron to his companion and the two decided to exit the chamber.

As they made their way through the preceding hallway, Lorrik had to slow his pace so as to not outrun his wounded companion. The warrior’s armor concealed any wounds to his body. For all Lorrik knew, Jresh possessed only minor bruises and sores, or was pushing through with numerous broken bones. The two passed through the chamber where the battle between warrior and beast took place. The dim lights of the hanging crystals and sigil in the room’s center still shined, numerous droplets of blood and black ichor staining the floor around them.

Before exiting the chamber, Jresh took pause. Lorrik turned to see his companion kneeling, not from pain but from inquiry. He held, within his hand, another hand. The severed right limb of the Massassi guardian.

“I know you warriors like your trophies, but…” Lorrik began, a bit bewildered.

“The beast possessed the most interesting of traits,” Jresh explained, as he studied the arm. “I couldn’t cut through blackened flesh below the elbow. He blocked my blade with his bare claws, even managed to pierce the containment field and short out the lightsaber for a time.”

Lorrik scratched his chin. “Hmm. Sounds like cortosis, but I don’t know if its usage dates back to when this tomb was probably built. If fact, this place probably predates the modern lightsaber as we know it.”

“More Sith Alchemy,” Jresh suggested. “His hands were forged into weapons, flesh fused with some material on a molecular level, transformed into… this. Interesting.”

“We might find some answers in this holocron, but I don’t-”

“Don’t worry, my interest lies in understanding, and finding a way to combat it. I’d never resort to using such measures on myself.”

“Well that’s a relief. I’d hate to see you becoming anything like that monster,” Lorrik stated. Jresh raised himself from the ground, still grasping the Massassi’s severed arm. Just as he was about to continue his trek, he found his steps thrown off by a dizziness swirling within his head. The Human rushed to his companion’s side and steadied him. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Just tired,” Jresh declared. Lorrik stared at the three slashes that stretched across the right side of the warrior’s face.

“Jresh, those claws may have been toxic. Let me treat your wounds,” Lorrik advised, reaching out with his hand. As his fingertips brushed his partner’s cheek, his head immediately recoiled. “Sorry, I know how much you don’t like physical contact.”

“No it’s not that. It’s just that it legitimately stings,” Jresh begrudgingly admitted, almost ashamed of being in pain. Lorrik let out another soft chuckle as he gently laid a hand on the Pureblood’s cheek, hovering his palm over the series of cuts.

“Remember, I’m good with flesh wounds… venom is a bit more complicated,” Lorrik explained.

“I think the worst is behind us.”

As Lorrik finished mending his companion’s wounds, he looked over the Pureblood’s shoulder to see movement amongst the shadows. Jresh saw his partner’s eyes widen, and turned around to see the Massassi marching into the chamber, missing an arm, and the last wound he inflicted scabbed over with charred flesh mixed with black ichor.

“I’m almost starting to respect his tenacity,” Jresh stated as he retrieved the lightsaber from his belt.

“Wait a minute,” Lorrik whispered, keeping a hand on his companion’s shoulder.

Together they watched at the guardian continued its slow trudge into the chamber. The beast paused only for a moment to stare at the pair, only to resume on its path toward the room’s center. Ignoring the two intruders, the Massassi returned to its point of origin within the runed markings upon the ground. It remained perfectly still as the sigil began to light up and once more, the guardian was in stasis.

“I think we’ve earned a safe passage out of here,” Lorrik declared.

“I suppose you and that ghost had an engaging conversation?”

“We did. But I think your demonstration left quite an impact.”

The chamber was still. Nothing was left to oppose the intruders. Battered, but not beaten, the two walked side by side toward the tomb’s entrance, prizes in hand, ready to present to their master.

Syart's Avatar


Syart
02.25.2013 , 01:11 PM | #110
Glad this is carrying on, I was missing them
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.