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The Acolyte

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12.20.2012 , 08:21 PM | #1
The Acolyte

A SWTOR:FF by Caernos


First Day

In the practice circles of Dromund Kaas’s sith academy, several training duels were well underway. Practice lightsabers clashed against one another in a shower of sparks and violent hissing, as hopeful young acolytes sharpened their skills or learned new ones. From the edges of the room, the masters watched, monitoring the progress of the acolytes, discussing the potential of each one. Each master sought a potential student, one who could aid them in their own quest for power above each other, while each acolyte sought the eyes of a master and their acceptance, to rise above the station of the other acolytes and signify they were better.

In one duel ring, two youths faced off against a third. The lone youth was a rather tall and muscular zabrak. He looked quite fierce, with a crown of horns and his crimson skin tattooed in mysterious red and black patterns. Though he fought against two opponents, neither had come close to laying blows on him. His name was Nero, and of the acolytes, it was widely thought he was one of the few that would go far, strong in the force and skilled with a weapon in his hands.

His opponents on the other hand, were another story altogether.

A young woman fared the better of the two. Her name was Tyra. Though small and rather gangly, there was a cunning that could not be hidden in her eyes, and she moved with a certain sharp quickness that hinted of danger. Her long blond hair was bound in a tight ponytail that whipped about behind her. She might have been doing better if it were not for her partner.

Her partner was a young man. He was not quite as tall or broad of shoulder as Nero, but still rather intimidating if one were to stand toe to toe with him due to a lean and feral look he possessed. His name was Thuur, and though his face was twisted in a mask of hatred, it was clear from the way he wielded the training saber, and the repeated hits that he took, that he was not very skilled at all.

“Hold your saber up properly Thuur, it makes a better guard against my slashes when you do so,” taunted Nero as he landed a stinging blow on the back of Thuur’s legs before blocking a blow from Tyra.

On the sidelines, three masters stood and watched, the cowls of their hood pulled back to reveal their faces. Two were humans, a man and woman, but the third was a rather diminutive and alien avian figure, a Mrlssi who leaned heavily on a cane.

The man, whose name was Reddak, smiled at Nero’s taunt and turned to the woman to speak to her. “I like this one Lady Venum, he’s quite clever.” He turned his bald head back to the fight to watch it, the smile still upon his face as he stroked his fine goatee with one hand. “The girl isn’t half bad either. Why I would think if it weren’t for that nitwit, she would be faring much better.”

The woman scowled. She had a face that was very narrow and sharp, pinched almost, and her ebon hair was pulled back tightly behind her head into a bun. She shoved her hands into her sleeves and turned to watch the fight as well. “Things would seem that way, wouldn’t they Reddak,” she coolly responded.

Thuur lunged forward with his saber, but Nero simply stepped aside and batted it harmlessly away with a flick of his own weapon. The zabrak youth then spun and planted a kick on Thuur’s chest that sent him stumbling backwards. Tyra stepped forward as the Zabrak kicked and lunged with her own weapon but Nero shunted the blade aside as he regained his balance. Tyra kept the momentum of her attack and turned it into a spinning slash. The blow smashed against Nero’s defending saber and ricocheted off of it. The zabrak took a step back from the blow and refocused his grip. Tyra gave him little pause though and forced her attack.

Lady Venum allowed a small smile to pull at the edges of her mouth “You are correct on one thing, the girl does have talent.” Her voice was well kept and calm and she did not turn her head or eyes away from the duel but it was quite clear that it was to Reddak she was speaking.

Reddak did not let his own smile falter as he watched Tyra’s sudden offensive. He too kept his eyes focused on the duel and did not turn to look at the woman standing on his side. Sarcasm shot through his voice as he responded. “Yes, it’s so pleasant that we can agree on something.” His smile grew a little wider and more confident as he watched Thuur reenter the fight. “I have a feeling, however, that this will soon all be over.”

Reddak proved to be correct on that matter. When Thuur came charging in, his rage driven strikes were powerful but wildly inaccurate. Tyra was actually forced to retreat or be struck by her own ally. Nero blocked and dodged, and waited for the right opportunity. Finally the zabrak ducked under a swing that would have taken his head off, even with the training sabers, and drove his own weapon tip into Thuur’s stomach, knocking the wind out of the other acolyte. Thuur doubled up in pain.

Calling on the force it was easy for Nero to then shove Thuur at Tyra as she tried to reenter the fight, throwing her off balance as she dodged. Before she could recover, Nero brought his training saber crashing down upon her head and she dropped to the ground unconscious. Nero looked at Thuur who was rolling on the ground gasping for air, then turned his attention towards the masters and grinned.

Reddak returned the grin and quietly applauded. “Excellently done, young warrior.” He bowed his head still smiling and Nero bowed his head even lower. Reddak then walked out on to the floor and motioned for the zabrak to come with him, throwing a conspiratorial arm around his shoulder as he led him away from the ring talking quietly.

Lady Venum watched the two go, her face impassive. Then she turned and looked at her companion, the aged and crippled Mrlssi. The Mrlssi shook his head in disgust, then threw the cowl of his hood up over his head. He turned and hobbled away, his cane striking rhythmically with ever other step. Lady Venum watched him go, a scowl passing across her face for a hearbeat before vanishing completely. She glanced at her chrono to observed the time. Then, with a swirl of her robes she left as well.

* * * * *

“Well what can I say? I guess Lord Reddak was impressed by my skills. He’s invited me to accompany him to the initiation ceremony tomorrow. Should be pretty neat.” Nero sat at a table in the dining hall, regaling the events of his day to a bunch of fresh new acolytes. They crowded around him, listening to the story he told, not because of admiration, but because they desired the secret to his success. This was Drommund Kaas and a sith academy after all; those you allowed close were the ones that usually planted the dagger in your back.

Thuur particularly wished that his glare was driving daggers into Nero’s back but if he was having any affect the zabrak was doing a good job feigning ignorance. Lost in his anger and jealousy, Thuur's hands continued to stir the mush in his bowl. He hadn't even had a bite of it.

At one point Thuur had been like the acolytes that surrounded Nero now. But that was years ago, when Thuur had just entered the academy; a bastard son of a mad sith warrior who got her head chopped off by a jedi and a lowly imperial officer she had a fling with. The empire had noted his lineage and he had been tested and found to have potential, so off to one of the many academies he had been shipped. Here, people spoke with some respect of his mother, and Thuur had dared to dream he would be as powerful as she had been. A lady of the sith, leading entire armies into battle.

That was before Nero had arrived though. Feeling his simmering anger grow, Thuur shifted his glare higher, to the back of Nero’s head, hoping that his hatred would just cause Nero to choke on his own tongue.

Unlike Thuur, Nero had been a slave, a prisoner of war who had killed his overseer in rage and impressed the sith overlords enough that they shipped him to the academy. He was a nobody, and he wasn’t even human, but where Thuur struggled Nero met everything with ease and grace. To the confident and cocky zabrak, nothing was impossible and people constantly talked of his potential and how far it would carry him.

Of Thuur they only spoke of how many credits they would make when he finally washed out or died.

“Eat your food Thuur.” Tyra’s voice cut through his thoughts and brought Thuur back to reality. Tyra was the only other acolyte who would even associate with Thuur anymore. She was the only acolyte who could remotely be considered an ally to Thuur in the dark academy. “It won’t do any good staring at him, he knows you’re watching.” She calmly pushed strands of her golden hair aside and then began shoveling her own mush into her mouth as fast as possible.

Thuur lifted his spoon up and looked at the grey, bland, slop that was served and then popped it into his mouth. He forced it to the back of his throat and swallowed it fast. The food wasn’t poisoned at the academy, not by the cooks at least, but it definitely tasted as if it was. “You know what get’s me?” Thuur lifted up another spoonful of the mush waiting for Tyra to ask but the girl didn’t bother. Finally Thuur spoke again “I don’t get why Reddak is taking him to the initiation.”

Tyra looked up from her bowl and shrugged, then turned her eyes back to her own food. “What’s not to get?” She kept her voice flat and disinterested. Tyra did not receive a lot of attention save for the fact that she continually worked with Thuur, a fact that many saw as a weakness. In truth Tyra was a little above the average when compared to the rest of the acolytes at the academy. The fact that Tyra constantly partnered with Thuur brought many opinions of her down though. Thuur knew that to Tyra, it was about learning how to fight with a handicap, forcing her to challenge herself or be beaten easily. “He impressed Reddak, so Reddak is inviting him to tag along. Reddak has had his eye on Nero for a while now, so this isn’t that surprising.”

Thuur dropped his spoon and scowled down at the bowl of mush. “Nero, is a pompous and arrogant schutta!”

“He’s also consistently beaten you, Thuur, and is one of the higher ranked acolytes.” Tyra jabbed her spoon at Thuur as she spoke to influence her point. “And you’re sounding like a whining brat.”

Now Thuur glowered at Tyra, but before he could shoot back a response, they were interrupted by a new voice. “Acolyte Tyra is correct Thuur, and if you wish to rise at all I suggest you start fighting acolytes closer to your own level. Try some of the newest arrivals, perhaps you’ll meet an opponent you can face there.” Thuur had no response for the scorn being directed at him. Both he and Tyra turned to see Lady Venum had somehow appeared at the end of their table and was looking at both of them with cold and appraising eyes.

Quickly the two acolytes stood and bowed to the master. Neither said a word, waiting for permission to address the sith lady. It would be improper and ill advised, not to mention short lived, to speak without permission. Finally Lady Venum cleared her throat. “Thuur, Lord Nahlos wishes to speak with you. He is waiting for you in his office in the academy archives. Tyra, you have fifteen minutes before I expect you in my personal laboratory.” Then without another word the sith lady turned and walked away.

Thuur straightened up and shook his head. The anger that had been burning all day thanks to the fight with Nero had just gotten a lot worse. Nahlos was a broken sith, a crippled Mrlssi who could no longer fight. He had somehow managed to keep the other sith lords from killing him and even obtained a position in the Imperial Reclamation Service, hunting down ghost stories and looking for lost treasure. Even worse, he was an alien and not a humanoid one like Nero was at least. To have to go see Nahlos was just the next and newest humiliating part of the day. It smacked of a very dim future, and meant that he might be leaving the academy soon, and most likely while not amongst the living.

Thuur turned and looked at Tyra but the girl was busy shoveling as much of the mush they called food down her throat as fast as possible. She had her own place to be and she did not want to be there on an empty stomach. Thuur shoved his bowl of food across the table to her and then set off.

It did not take him long to reach the sith master’s office. The turbolifts were only a short walk from the dining hall’s main entrance, and they deposited him at the archives in a matter of seconds. Through the quiet shelves of data storage Thuur passed briskly and went to the back. There he found the door to Nahlos office which opened as he neared. Thuur walked in without slowing, he was expected after all. He walked straight up to Nahlos’s desk and then stopped, waiting for the Mrlssi to address him.

Nahlos’s office was very orderly and not particularly large, shaped like a square. The walls on either side of his door were lined with shelves of books, and scrolls and datacards, as well as a few odd looking items. Directly across from the door was a large window, overlooking the rainy jungle world the sith now called home and more of the academy grounds. In front of this window sat Nahlos’s desk, which despite the Mrlssi’s diminutive size, was a standard issue desk. This was perhaps the most disorderly thing in the office as its top was buried under papers, holoplates, datacard and datapads, as well as a few other things.

Directly behind his desk, Nahlos sat in a chair that was far too large. He looked like a rather disturbing child’s toy, carelessly tossed onto the seat. He did not look up at Thuur, but instead kept his attention to an ancient scroll he clutched in his fingers. Thuur knew that the sith master was testing his patience but even so, time seemed to crawl by before the mrlssi finally tossed the scroll onto his desk and looked up at Thuur. For a moment Thuur was caught off guard when he saw the sulfur yellow of Nahlos’s eyes.

It was like staring into the heat and fury of an unleashed volcano. It was a sith’s eyes that were always the mark of one who was completely immersed within the dark side of the force. It was a look that Thuur knew his own cold blue eyes did not possess.

“Thank you for joining me, acolyte Thuur,” said Nahlos, his voice annoyingly high and raspy, like a damaged flute. For a moment the sith master said nothing else, just looking at the acolyte as if studying him. Then he grasped his cane and hopped down from his chair. Leaning on it he began hobbling around to stand directly before Thuur. “Your assistance is most appreciated since my old injury prevents me from obtaining some things I need from the higher shelves of my collection.” He chuckled as he spoke, as if he found humor in his own failures. “If you would be so kind as to get the Compendium of Drommund Kaas Wildlife, it should be on the top shelf over there.”

Thuur looked at the sith master for a moment and those burning sparks of anger almost bloomed into a full inferno. He was definitely at rock bottom. Nahlos was using him to fetch things, when the acolyte knew the sith master could easily use his connection to the force to pull a book off the top shelf. Of course despite his crippling injury Nahlos was a sith master, so to refuse in any way would be toying with death. “Of course, my lord” Thuur said through gritted teeth. He bowed respectfully, then grabbed the ladder that was connected to the wall of shelves and began climbing.

Nahlos watched the acolyte climb with a critical eye studying him. The room filled with silence as Thuur studied each book, looking for the correct one. Finally Nahlos broke it. “Tell me why you lost the fight this afternoon.”

Thuur paused and looked down the ladder at Nahlos, remembering that the sith master had been standing on the edge of the ring with Lady Venum and Lord Reddak. He turned his attention back to the books as he thought of an appropriate response. “Nero was faster, I couldn’t hit him.” Thuur at last found the book he was looking for, recognizing the gold letters running the length of its spine and pulled it out.

Nahlos scowled as the acolyte descended the ladder with the book and shook his head. “You are admitting then that Nero is better than you?” He paused as Thuur held the book towards him and instead contemptuously grinned. “I’ve changed my mind, I want Darth Kryptol’s Notes on Sith Alchemy, it should be on that top shelf over there. Make sure to put my compendium back where you got it.”

Thuur allowed no emotion to cross his face, it was a test after all. He had no doubt that as soon as he question Nahlos he would receive some kind of punishment, and since the punishment would be handed out by an old diminutive cripple, it would be humiliating no matter what. Grinding his teeth further he started back up the ladder and addressed Nahlos’s claim. “No, I’m better than that slave scum.”

Nahlos idly tapped his cane on the ground as he watched Thuur place the compendium back and start searching for the new book. “That "slave scum" has defeated you every time you’ve fought; with a partner or without. I guess you’re purposefully losing then?”

For a moment Thuur debated about dropping a very large tome on top of the Mrlssi’s head. Some of the books were so thick and heavy that he was willing to bet that it would crush the diminutive sith lord’s head like a bug. Avians did have thin bones after all. But he dispelled the thought within moments of having it. “No, but I am learning his trick’s. I’ll get him, just wait.”

Nahlos laughed, a strange cackling sound that was rather eerie and frightening to hear despite his small size. “Hah! You are a fool, and a blind fool at that”

Thuur found the new book Nahlos wanted and pulled it off the shelf, then began his descent down the ladder. There was no true response he could present to Nahlos, so instead Thuur clenched his teeth and muttered to himself about how he would kill Nero one day, just to prove to everyone in the damn academy that the former slave wasn’t anything. He reached the bottom of the ladder and offered the book to Nahlos. The sith took the book and tossed it on top of his desk. “Good, now why don’t you get the Complete Anthology of the works of Gideon Mensch. Should be somewhere on the other wall.”

Thuur quietly grabbed the ladder and moved it to the other wall. Then once more began his ascent to look for the book. From below Nahlos continued with his observations and picked the conversation back up. “I wonder…what drives you to continue challenging Nero, Thuur. It can’t be just the fact that he’s a slave.”

“He’s one of the best, my lord. If I can defeat him then I’ve proven myself.”

Nahlos stroked the mandible of his beak with his claws in thought. “All you’ve proven so far is that you can easily be manipulated.”

Thuur made a fatal mistake then. He let the comment finally get to him and dared to speak up. A part of him would later realize that Nahlos was right, that he could easily be manipulated. But now Thuur was tired of one insult after another being heaped upon him this day. First the duel, then Nero’s boasting, and finally the mocking of a cripple. He looked down at Nahlos from his position high up on the ladder. “You think you could’ve beaten Nero with your crippled leg?”

“Yes,” said Nahlos with a smirk. Then the Mrlssi turned and hobbled to his seat behind his desk and lifted himself up into it. He leaned his cane against the desk, then picked a scroll up off the clutter. “You are dismissed for tonight, Thuur. I expect you to return the same time tomorrow.”

Still scowling, Thuur dropped down the ladder and then stormed out of Nahlos’s office, the door closing with a quiet hiss behind him.

Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Caernos's Avatar

12.24.2012 , 11:08 AM | #2
Second Day

Thuur skipped sparring the next day and instead spent his time reading the news, catching up on the events of the galaxy. He loved to hear about the heroes of the empire, how sith like Darth Malgus were out there striving to make the empire more powerful than ever. It was Thuur’s dream, to become a warrior of renown like Malgus and Angral, and even his own late mother. They were sith that were respected and feared, and Thuur never tired of hearing about their exploits. While there had been no real update on the progress of Malgus’s campaign, he still felt it was time better spent than in the sparring rings.

Unfortunately, just because he had skipped sparring practice did not mean that he could avoid missing Nero. The zabrak came into the dining hall for the evening meal with another crowd of acolytes around him. When he spotted Thuur he immediately made his way over to the table the acolyte sat at. “Hey Thuur, we missed you at sparring today. Did the old cripple have you making tea for him?” Word had apparently spread that Nahlos had summoned Thuur the previous night. Not that Lady Venum had been subtle about it or anything.

While Nero and the other acolytes laughed, Thuur focused his attention on his food. He grabbed the shaker of salt and began spreading some across his food. He was mildly surprised that Nero would be bold enough to openly mock a sith master of the academy, but right now he knew he couldn’t succumb to another fight. Not yet at least. He didn’t want another painful humiliation.

Nero continued on with his mocking, trying to get Thuur to rise to his bait. “Hey, maybe you’ll be lucky and he’ll have pity on you, take you on as an apprentice.” Thuur speared a chunk of mystery meat with his fork and then shoved it into his mouth. With his other hand he reached for the pepper shaker. “Wouldn’t you two make a pair of warriors then, the cripple and the incompetent. I bet the jedi would just die laughing seeing you two on the battlefield.” Thuur shook some of the pepper out onto his meal while his knuckles began to turn white from his grip on the shaker. “And your mother would be so proud to.”

Thuur stood up so fast he actually made Nero jump back along with the other acolytes. However the zabrak grinned, knowing he had pushed the right button that drove Thuur. He leaned forward and gave a great big smile, just to taunt Thuur. “Her little bastard son would be all grown up then.”

Thuur almost jumped across the table and smashed the pepper shaker into Nero’s stupid face. He could actually feel his fingers around the zabrak’s throat as he either forced him to swallow the pepper shaker, or bashed his head against the table. Before he could act though, another voice cut in.

“Thuur, don’t you have someplace to be?”

Thuur turned to see Tyra walking towards the group. He then turned his attention back to Nero and his cronies and saw a brief flicker of disappointment. Only then did Thuur realize that if he had jumped over the table, the acolytes surrounding Nero would have jumped him before he even got close. It would have just been another victory for Nero. The realization made his scowl deepen.

Nero couldn’t resist departing without getting in another wise crack. “Oh is it time for you to put Nahlos to bed, Thuur?”

“Nero, shut up,” growled Thuur. “Shut up before I make you.” He didn’t notice as Tyra stepped to his side and shot him a warning glance.

“You couldn’t make me if you wanted to,” said Nero. He then motioned to his followers to start heading to their own table in the dinning hall. Nero was last to go, flashing a triumphant smirk before turning his back on Thuur and walking away.

Thuur watched him turn and walk away. He raised the shaker above his head to throw at the infuriating slave’s back. It would not be a difficult throw; he could probably peg the irritating slave bastard with no problem. Tyra’s hand caught his wrist. She shot him another warning glare and Thuur let the shaker fall from his hand to the ground. Then he turned and began walking away.

Tyra followed him. “Why weren’t you in sparring?” she asked following behind him.

Thuur pushed through the doors of the dining hall and started down the hallway towards the turbolifts. “I cut it today. Figured my time would be better spent learning about how the current battles are going on the edge of the empire.”

Tyra shook her head. “You cut sparring to read reports on the campaigns.” She shot Thuur an angry glare as they neared the turbolifts. “You can’t afford to be doing that now Thuur. If you want to make it as a sith, you need to practice more, which means youl should be down in the training room, working on your technique. It’s no wonder you do so terrible if you think you don’t need lessons to beat Nero.” She punched the call button for the turbolifts with more force than was necessary. A ring on the panel lit up to announce the turbolift was on its way.

Thuur stood in silence until the turbolift arrived seconds later and the doors opened. He allowed a protocol droid to exit before rushing in. Tyra followed close behind him. Thuur hit the button for the archives and then turned to Tyra. “I know that.”

“Then why did you skip?”

“I didn’t want to deal with Nero, alright?” Thuur scowled as he admitted it. He had tried to avoid the zabrak, not wanting to get in another losing battle that would just make him look even worse before the rest of the academy.

Tyra struck him by surprise with a sudden backhanded slap. As the red mark appeared on Thuur’s cheek she glared at him. “Cowardice is not allowed in the empire, you know that.” Her voice was cold and brusque, carrying her point effectively with each individual word.

Thuur snarled and before she could react, lunged forward and grabbed her arms, then shoved her back against the walls of the lift. “I am not a coward!” In the enclosed space of the lift his words were practically bellowing.

Tyra broke his grip by pushing herself off the wall and driving her knee into his gut, knocking the wind out of him. Before he could fall over, Tyra caught him and steadied him. “It looks like cowardice to me, and it will look like cowardice to the masters too,” she hissed.

The lift dinged as they reached the archive level. Before the doors could open so much as a hairs breadth, Tyra had shoved Thuur against the opposite side of the lift and leaned casually against her own. When the doors opened it looked as if Thuur was suffering from a stomach ache, clutching his stomach, and Tyra appeared completely disinterested.

Tyra led the way off the elevator, and Thuur followed her. “You don’t think I know what it will look like?” Thuur hissed at Tyra, trying to keep his conversation quiet as they passed through the archives. “I’m already being assigned to work with the old cripple; of course I know I’m in trouble.”

They neared the door to Nahlos’s office and Tyra paused and grabbed Thuur’s arm, forcing him to look at her. “Then don’t cut any classes. Try to pay attention and learn something.” With that she turned and approached the door which opened to let her through.

Thuur felt a flash of surprise when he saw her pass through the door into Nahlos’s office realizing that she had accompanied him all the way down from the dining hall. Curious as to why she was here he quickly followed her inside, not wanting to miss whatever reason had brought her down. Inside he quickly determined it was not because of anything she had done, but was in fact because of what Lady Venum was doing.

“According to this scroll here, you’ve somehow botched it. The extract should be a very dark purple, not red.” Nahlos stood on his desk chair overlooking his desk. Completely different things covered its surface than from the things that had covered it yesterday. He was pointing out something on a particular scroll to Lady Venum but since the scroll lay flat Thuur could not see what it was.

Lady Venum had a scowl on her face as she looked at the scroll, then she turned her attention to a vial of blood red liquid she held in her hand. She nodded briefly to the two acolytes before turning her gaze back to Nahlos. “Are you certain Nahlos? You wouldn’t be trying to slip out of trouble by claiming the translation I followed wasn’t one of yours.”Thuur caught what she implied immediately. No sith wanted to admit fault for anything, and so at Nahlos’s suggestion that she had messed up, she had countered with her own theory.

Nahlos however gave a very confident smile and shook his head. “That is clearly Lady Myna’s work, I do not have such skilled calligraphy Lady Venum.” Nahlos continued shaking his head and straightened up slightly. Then he began digging through the papers on the desk looking for something. “Of course it would just be like Lady Myna to try and pass off a badly translated copy as my own; the woman has had it out for me since I moved in to this office. Now, I think a comparison of the accuracies in our translations will show that hers possess far more inaccuracies than mine.” The mrlssi then found what he was looking for and lifted it up, a sheet of paper that was covered in writing. “Here we go. This is my translation, that should help you finish that potion.”

Lady Venum took the sheet and looked at it, her eyes visibly shifting to the sheet she was leaving on Nahlos’s desk as she compared them. Satisfied, she carefully folded it and slipped it into her robes. Then she bowed to Nahlos. “Thank you, my lord,” she said. She then turned and strode out of the room, motioning for Tyra to follow with but a flick of her finger.

Thuur watched them go before the bang of Nahlos’s cane on his desk top made him turn back to the diminutive sith. “Fetch me a copy of Uueg Tching’s Sayings, now.” The venomous glare behind Nahlos’s sulfur eyes told Thuur that he was not going to tolerate anything today.

Thuur quickly grabbed the ladder and began looking for the scrolls. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Nahlos pick up the scrap of paper that Lady Venum had left behind and read it. The mrlssi limped to the window, tearing the sheet into pieces. He opened the window and tossed the scraps out into the wind. “I understand you cut your sparring practice today,” he said as he closed the window and limped back to his desk.

Thuur did not turn his attention away from the scrolls he was looking at, trying to identify the Sayings by the tiny tag that was attached to each end. He pulled out one scroll only to see that its tag actually read Sailings and quickly put it back. “I felt that by going and losing another fight with Nero would be detrimental if I wanted to stay here at the academy.”

For a moment Nahlos let the briefest sign of approval flash across his face, but it was so fast that one could not say it truly had ever been there. “Perhaps you are not as much a fool as I thought...though if anything you are still blind. Nero approached you in the dining hall, correct?” Nahlos did not wait for responses but continued speaking. “And this time you almost gave into Nero’s taunts and almost attacked him. If it hadn’t been for your little friend, Tyra, you probably would have. Tell me why he was able to goad you so well.” His tone carried the smallest of threats, that if Thuur did not answer truthfully, Nahlos would know and punish him for it.

Thuur briefly wondered how word could spread so quickly in just a matter of minutes. Then he realized the old sith was waiting and so directed his thoughts towards the more pressing question. “Nero made some remarks that insulted my pride and ambitions.” Finally spotting the Sayings he grabbed the scrolls and began descending the ladder. He stopped in front of Nahlos’s desk and held out the scrolls.

Instead of taking the scrolls or telling him to go get something else as he had done the night before, Nahlos instead pulled out several sheets of paper and a pen and placed them on top of the desk, then motioned for Thuur to pull a chair forward. “Start copying,” he commanded, hopping out of his chair to the ground.

The mrlssi grabbed his cane and began hobbling around his desk to another book shelf. His claws trailed over several books, looking for one in particular. “He insulted your pride by implying you would never make a good warrior and that you would eventually end up stuck with me, a crippled sith, the others keep around for their amusement.”

Thuur did not answer, knowing that it was better to keep his tongue in check and let Nahlso say whatever he wanted. Obviously he was going to wind up in some kind of trouble. Quietly he opened the first scroll of the Sayings and began reading, waiting for Nahlos to continue. “I will say that Nero is currently wrong on one thing, you would make a fine sith warrior.”

It took a moment for Thuur to realize what Nahlos had said. Not understanding he looked up warily from the scrolls and towards the sith master. “What?” Thuur was too stunned to properly form a sentence.

Nahlos’s chuckle had a scathing acerbic feel to it. The mrlssi continued chuckling as he pulled a tome off a shelf and began hobbling back towards his desk, his cane helping him with every step. “Of course; the empire is always in need of fools to die on the blades of the jedi. The emperor could send you into the field now and you would make a fine addition to the ranks of the warriors.”

Thuur felt himself wanting to scowl but knew he needed to keep his anger in check. It was beginning to get a hold of him to much as of late. He forced himself to keep his voice level. “Malgus and Angral are great warriors who have done much for the empire.” He knew it was a challenge to Nahlos’s statement, but Nahlos was a cripple, what did he know of sith warriors. Thuur could not stand by and let him insult them.

Again Nahlos laughed scornfully. He shook his head and climbed up into his chair, then tossed the tome on to the desk. “Malgus has potential, but Angral is an obsessed idiot. I have foreseen that his love of slaughter and hatred of the jedi will almost cost us everything.” Nahlos flipped the cover of the tome open and began scouring its contents.

Thuur sputtered for a moment before foolishly opening his mouth and challenging the master. “Angral has foreseen that he will crush the Republic and the Jedi once and for all!”

“Just as every other sith lord in the Empire has seen.” Nahlos looked up from the tome, his yellow eyes boring into Thuur’s and forcing the acolyte to look back down at the scrolls he was supposed to be copying. “You believe so do you? You believe then that Angral will be the hero of the Empire, the destroyer of the Republic?” Nahlos waited for Thuur to answer but the acolyte did not and instead he kept his gaze downward. “The blood seekers always miss the bigger picture, and it’s why they always die.”

Thuur did not answer but instead barely shook his head. It was a movement he had hoped had gone unnoticed but Nahlos had easily caught it. “You disagree with me,” his voice hissed. “Answer, and explain acolyte.”

Thuur looked up from the scrolls and nodded his head. “Of course, my lord; I disagree because I don’t think you understand what a true warrior can do.” Thuur braced himself for whatever blow was coming, and forced himself to look into the sulfur yellow eyes of the mrlssi.

Nahlos cocked his head to one side as if he was seeing Thuur in an entirely new light. Then he hopped down from his seat, grabbed his cane and came hobbling around the desk. He looked Thuur in the face, and then a cold and vicious smile spread across his face. “Perhaps then, you would like to experience how the dark council treats their warriors?”

Nahlos moved faster than Thuur thought the cripple was ever capable of moving. His cane lashed out and struck Thuur in the center of his fore head. The blow had enough force to send the acolyte reeling backwards and topple out of his chair. The mrlssi sneered in disgust turning and walking back to his chair. Thuur could not help but laugh. If that was the punishment Nahlos was going to give whenever he spoke out of turn, then he could easily handle it. He rolled over to push himself up off the ground and that was when Thuur noticed something terrifying.

His hands were turning into hairy black paws. His fingernails lengthened and curled transforming into obscene and sharp claws. The acolyte robes began to stretch and feel too tight, as if they were too small for his body. There was a sickening crunch as His knees suddenly changed the way they bent, and then he noticed that his feet had turned into paws as well, his boots torn to tatters. Feeling his face beginning to stretch and his jaw melt and grow, Thuur whirled at Nahlos and bellowed at him. “Wha di ya do t’me!?!” He did not even recognize his own voice now, distorted as it was by animal vocal cords and a mouthful of fangs.

Nahlos looked up over the edge of his desk at Thuur, his sulfer eyes showing a look of contempt. “You wish to experience the life of a warrior correct? Now you can enjoy it more thoroughly. The tuk’ata are not gentle, but they can be faithful dogs.” He jabbed his cane towards Thuur to emphasize his point. “If you truly want to live that life, then this form should be much more suited for you, it is a much simpler way of living.”

Thuur could not believe what had happened. He tried to stand but his new legs would not allow him to remain on two feet for to long. Hoping to catch a reflection of himself Thuur stumbled over his new limbs towards the window. Lightning flashed across the skies of Dromund Kaas, obscuring his reflection.

Then, Thuur caught sight of the Tuk’ata looking back at him and he let out a scream of fear. It came out as the anguished howl. He turned and leaped for the door. If he could get outside he could maybe find someone who could change him back. But when he finally reached the door it would not open. Panting he turned around and saw Nahlos advancing towards him, hobbling along with his cane. Thuur tried to order him to change him back, but all that came out of his mouth were the barks and growls of a tuk’ata. There was nothing Thuur could do except beg, and that was what he did, whining like a pitiful dog to try and sway Nahlos to change him back.

The mrlssi eyed the acolyte with a look of contempt. “Learned your lesson have you?” With a snarl he waved his hand and instantly Thuur was changed back to a human. The mrlssi then turned and began hobbling back to his desk.

Thuur lay on the ground by the door and slowly sat up. He held out his hands and looked at his feet. Tentatively he reached up with a hand to touch his face. He was completely changed back, his robes even fit just like before. The young acolyte stood and walked back to Nahlos’s desk, bending to pick up the chair he had knocked over and righting it. Then he looked at Nahlos and asked one thing. “How?”

Nahlos cocked one eyebrow but did not respond. Then he reached across the desk and picked up the scroll copy of The Sayings and held it towards Thuur. “You are dismissed for tonight, study this carefully and return it to me when finished. We will speak then.”

Thuur looked at Nahlos, daring to ask for an explanation of what had just happened to him. But he did not want to test Nahlos any further than he already had. Quickly he went to the door, which opened instantly to let him pass. Thuur walked through eager to be gone and ponder what had just happened.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Caernos's Avatar

12.26.2012 , 01:42 PM | #3
Third Day

Thuur did not skip sparring practice the next day though as he entered the large chamber, a part of him wished he had. Then he noticed that there were far more people in the room than there were usually. There was an air of expectancy, as if at any moment something would happen. To Thuur this meant that if he fought Nero and lost again, the humiliation would be even worse.

A ripple ran through the crowd and for a moment parted. Thuur saw Reddak standing in the middle of one of the training rings. For a brief moment Thuur felt relief, realizing that he might not have to fight at all if Reddak was going to spar, relief that he quickly banished. As a sith he shouldn’t be afraid of a fight, afraid to face that stupid zabrak slave Nero. In fact he should be upset that today he wouldn’t have a chance to face the scum and beat the smug grin off of him.

He could not shake the feeling of relief though.

Upset with his own cowardice, Thuur forced his way through the crowd till he found Tyra. The girl was standing near the edge of the ring near Lady Venum, but her eyes were focused on Reddak. “What’s happening?” Thuur asked.

Tyra glanced at him and then turned her attention back to Reddak. The bald sith was stretching out and idly chatting with a few other people on the edge of the ring. “Lord Reddak has offered to demonstrate form seven today.”

Thuur turned his head and gave the man a closer look. From his lessons Thuur knew that form seven, Juyo, was the last and only “unfinished” lightsaber form. It was supposed to be wild and unpredictable, so deadly that no one could stand against it. He opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by a harsh grating voice.
“Considering who he is, I find it quite ironic that he knows the ‘unpredictable’ lightsaber form.” Nahlos appeared on Thuur’s other side, leaning with both claws on his cane. The mrlssi cast a look around the room and the crowd and Thuur could easily see the disdain in the sulfur yellow eyes. “Why is it that people take such pleasure in flashy displays that don’t actually do anything?”

Thuur looked at the sith master and wondered if Nahlos was expecting an answer. The question had sounded rhetorical, but after what had happened the night before Thuur had no desire to anger the sith lord. Fortunately he was saved from answering as Reddak finally started speaking.

The bald sith grinned at his audience and pulled his lightsaber from his belt. With a spin and a quick flourish the red blade snapped to its full length from the hilt and whirled around his body. “As you have all heard by now, I will be demonstrating the Lightsaber form of Juyo today, but the best demonstrations all have opponents.” He lowered his saber so the tip was pointed at the ground. “Are there any volunteers?” he asked, but without waiting for an answer he turned and locked eyes on Nahlos. “Perhaps Master Nahlos would like to demonstrate his own skill with a lightsaber.”

All eyes turned towards the short crippled Mrlssi, waiting to see what his answer was. Thuur noted that a few sith shook their heads at Reddak’s challenge, and Lady Venum in particular seemed to think the idea was foolish. For a moment Thuur wondered if they thought Reddak’s challenge was foolish because how easily the young and whole sith warrior would fare against the cripple, or if they knew something about Nahlos that Reddak didn’t. After last nights events, Thuur doubted that Nahlos would fight Reddak with a lightsaber but would unleash his powers on the bold warrior.

Nahlos tapped his cane on the ground and returned Reddak’s grin with a feigned smile of his own. The old sith leaned forward and bowed his head slightly. “While I’m sure such a fight would be truly amazing for all present, in my old age I seemed to have misplaced my lightsaber for the day. Tragically, I will have to decline.” He seemed more amused by Reddak’s challenge than anything else. Thuur felt a sense of shock run through him at Nahlos’s refusal.

Reddak’s own smile however contained a barely visible distant threat. “Perhaps another time then.” The sith then turned and looked around the room. “Anyone?”

Thuur saw Lady Venum roll her eyes, then shake off her cloak. “I will. I have always wanted to see how Jar’Kai handles against Juyo. This would be a good test.” She stepped into the ring and pulled twin sabers from her belt, the red blades springing out of the hilts as she dropped into a defensive crouch.

Reddak smiled and then took a spinning leap forward, his lightsaber whirling to clash against Venum’s crossed sabers. The fight began, and Thuur’s attention was pulled away by Nahlos, the mrlssi tugging on his arm. He fixed Thuur’s eyes with a visible glare and asked a question. “How goes the reading, young acolyte?”

“Well, my lord, it goes well. I am almost finished.”

The mrlssi smiled. “Good. Then I suspect that I will see you tonight.” And with that the diminutive sith released Thuur’s arm and disappeared into the crowd. Finished with his reading or not, Thuur knew that he would be speaking with the mrlssi again.

Thuur watched him vanish and then turned to Tyra. “Tyra!” he whispered over the hiss of colliding sabers. “Tyra, what do you know about Lord Nahlos?”

Tyra turned her attention away from the fight. She frowned and shrugged, and folded her arms across her chest. “Only what others talk about. You’ve heard the stories.”

Thuur nodded his head recalling what he new about Nahlos. “Yeah, yeah, that he and his master went into a ruin and he was the one that returned, having killed his master but being crippled in the fight. And that the only reason the sith haven’t killed him is that he is very good at finding lost treasure.” He shook his head. “I know those stories; do you know anything else though?”

Tyra shook her head. “No. Lady Venum thinks highly of him but she doesn’t trust him either.”

Thuur rolled his eyes. “We’re sith. Of course she doesn’t trust him.” Tyra gave a knowing smile and turned her attention back to the demonstration. Lady Venum wasn’t doing to well. Thuur watched for a moment more and then slipped away through the crowd. No one noticed his disappearance.

* * * * *

That night Thuur made his way back to Nahlos’s office, the scroll in hand. When the door opened he stepped into the room and saw the Mrlssi was hobbling towards his chair behind his desk. “Good evening Lord Nahlos,” Thuur said.

Nahlos nodded his head absentmindedly as he leaned his cane against his desk and climbed up into his chair. “Good indeed, Finished The Sayings I take it?”

Thuur nodded his head. He waited to see if there were any forthcoming orders but none were given. For a quiet moment, the only noise in the small chamber was the papers that Nahlos shuffled through, scattered across his desk. Then the mrlssi gestured towards an open seat, telling Thuur that he may sit down. His beak opened, and his grating voice emerged to ask a question. “What did you think of Reddak’s demonstration?”

Thuur noticed that Nahlos had dropped the accompanying title that usually went with Reddak’s name but brushed it aside. He thought more about the question Nahlos had posed and tried to think of an appropriate answer. While he wanted to say impressive, he knew that Nahlos with his disdain of warriors would mock him. Thuur wasn’t so sure that it was truly impressive. At first it had been; the speed and power of the attacks was incredible, but if he had truly been amazed, then he would have stayed to watch the whole thing. “It was…dazzling…” Thuur decided to say. He pulled a chair up to Nahlos’s desk and began to spread the scrolls out.

Nahlos did not look up from his work but his eyes did flicker towards Thuur’s face for a moment. With a wave of his finger, the paper that Thuur had been writing on the previous night whipped out of the pile of papers on the desk and settled in front of him. Then a pen did as well. After a moment, Thuur realized that he was supposed to continue his prior work. He began copying the Sayings down, while Nahlos asked another question. “That is an interesting choice of words. Why dazzling?”

Thuur thought for a moment, actually thought about his answer. “I understand the theory behind the use of the style, my lord, that it keeps your foe off balance with a series of fast chaotic attacks.” Thuur paused and looked at the paltry few lines he had copied from the Sayings the previous night before, trying to decide how best to describe his feelings on the demonstration. “That said, it felt like that Lord Reddak was showing off more than actually demonstrating.”

Nahlos didn’t twitch or blnk an eye. Instead his beak cracked the tiniest bit as he said in a conspiratorial whisper, “interesting.” Then he opened a book and began silently reading something, his claws tracing the lines of text.

Thuur quietly continued copying the Sayings as he had been commanded. He had to admit, that the scrolls did have a certain wisdom to them, even after almost a thousand years. Whoever Emperor Uueg Tching was, his ideas on government and order seemed well thought out. For a moment Thuur wondered if the Emperor had a copy of the Sayings. He finished up a paragraph and then looked at Nahlos, a question from earlier coming to mind. “Lord Nahlos may I ask a question?”

The mrlssi sith did not look up from his book. “You may.”

Thuur took a deep breath in and then slowly let it out. He tried to think if there was a proper way to word his question, but then decided to ask anyways. “I was wondering why you did not accept Lord Reddak’s offer to duel?”

Nahlos paused and looked up at Thuur, his claw not moving from the line of text he had been reading. “It’s quite simple Thuur, I am a cripple, and nearly two feet shorter, than Reddak. Dueling him for his little demonstration would have ended badly.” As his screeching voice finished he dropped his gaze back to his book and resumed reading.

Thuur sat and frowned, wondering if he should press the issue further. But he wanted answers and the only way he was going to get any was by asking questions. “May I speak directly, my lord?”

Nahlos again paused and looked up. He raised an eyebrow, annoyed but curious. This time he pulled his finger away and sat down in his chair. “Very well then, what is it you want to say?”

Thuur thought for a moment, making sure he chose his words carefully. He didn’t want to be turned into a nerf or worse this time if he angered Nahlos. He took a deep breath in to help gather his thoughts and slowly let it out. “I think you could have beat Lord Reddak.”

Nahlos looked at Thuur for a moment and then his face split into a grin and he let out a cackling chuckle. “That is an inspiring vote of confidence for the cripple, coming from a failure if I do say so myself, Thuur.”

Thuur’s cheek’s burned at being reminded of his tenuous position at the academy. Rejection from the academy was a punishment that Nahlos was well within his power to administer on Thuur for even the smallest of slights. But since he had already started, Thuur pressed forward. “My lord, forgive me for questioning you, but you turned me into a tuk’ata yesterday; a sith hound. I’ve never heard of anyone who could turn others into an animal--for you to be able to do that you must be incredibly powerful in the force.”

Nahlos folded his claws together and eyed Thuur dubiously. The young man felt as if he was being judged by his question, to acertain if he was ready for some great secret. “You feel that I could have defeated Reddak through my knowledge of the force?”

Thuur nodded his head. “Well yes. It wouldn’t have been a lightsaber duel but you could have just tossed him aside with a flick of your hand.”

Nahlos looked at Thuur very carefully for a moment, then stood up on his chair and closed his book, leaving it on top of the desk. The mrlssi jumped down from his chair and grabbed his cane, and then with his other hand, began pushing his chair around the desk. It took a few minutes, limping as he was, but eventually Nahlos was able to wheel the large chair completely around to the otherside.

With the chair in place, the mrlssi leaned his cane against the side of the desk and awkwardly hopped up into his chair.. Nahlos took a lotus position and motioned with his claws that Thuur should lean forward. Thuur stopped copying and did as commanded, moving closer to the diminutive sith lord. “Know this, young acolyte.” Nahlos’s next words were slowly spoken, so that Thuur could hear them clearly through the sith lord’s grating voice. “I did not actually transform you into a tuk’ata.”

The sulfur yellow eyes bored into Thuur, studying his reaction. The acolyte frowned. He was conflicted, for the experience had been so vivid and real. Could it have only been a trick of the mind? He looked at Nahlos with confusion and doubt. Nahlos nodded his head as if he understood. “Yes, your mind felt that it was trapped in the body of a beast, but there was no transformation. I planted the illusion in your mind to get two points across.”

Thuur felt his anger building at the small alien sith lord with the realization that he had been tricked. What point could there reasonably be for planting a horrifying illusion in an acolyte? Thuur knew that some sith were legendary for their cruelty, but Nahlos’s punishment, seemed rather depraved. Thuur did not give in to his anger and yell or shout though. Instead he kept his voice calm and controlled, his anger simmering beneath them. He did not want to brazenly challenge Nahlos yet again and find himself at the sith masters mercy once more. “What points, my lord?”

Nahlos brought his claws together and rested them in his laps. “First, to show you the truth about many sith, how they are little more than rabid dogs hunting for blood and violence.”

It was a repeat of what he had said the previous night, so Thuur was not surprised. Instead his scowl grew as the knowledge did not help in the slightest. “And the second?” he asked.

A cold smile played across Nahlos’s face. “To show how easily you are manipulated of course.” The words froze the angry Thuur in place, catching him off guard. He did not see how transforming him into a sith hound demonstrated how he could easily be manipulated. The mrlssi’s yellow eyes noted his confusion and the mrlssi explained in his grating and screeching voice. “I goaded you into challenging me, then played upon your worst fears and unleashed them; that you were a dog in the eyes of others. A pet they kept for their amusment.”

The anger Thuur felt sprang up into a white hot blaze then and he found himself balling his hands into fists to keep from doing anything rash. The memory of the confrontation stood out clearly in his mind; he did not need any reminders. He wanted to challenge Nahlos, to say that he was not a dog and that he could not be easily manipulated.

But another part of Thuur saw it as a test. Nahlos’s had claimed to have baited him before, this was but just another way to get Thuur to lash out, to act. Slowly Thuur’s anger began to die down as he tried to piece his thoughts together; to find some way to get back at the sith lord. He could find none and so finally, he bowed his head in defeat. “I stand corrected my lord. Thank you for revealing this weakness.” Thuur said the words, but deep down he could still feel the anger, a tiny glowing hot cinder, waiting to blaze up into an inferno.

Nahlos smiled with what appeared to be cruel approval and raised a claw and tapped the side of his feathered head with it. “A sith’s greatest weapon is not our lightsaber or our powers in the force. It is our mind. Cunning, deceit, treachery, these are the ways of the sith.” Thuur nodded his head and listened carefully. He had heard all this before but he suspected that the mrlssi had reasons.

Nahlos gestured at his diminutive body with his clawed hands. “Do you think that I have survived so long because the other sith pity me?” He burst into cackling laughter and shook his head. “No, my foes become overconfident and foolish, thinking me nothing more than an old, shriveled, and crippled figure. They see not past the disguise and think me afraid to fight them face to face. All the while, I hide my true power from them to prepare for the moment when I am ready to strike. And when that moment comes, I strike hard and anhilate them completely.”Thuur sat in silence, absorbing Nahlos’s words. “Do you understand, acolyte?” Nahlos asked.

Thuur nodded his head. Or at least he thought he understood. However, a strange idea crept into his head and Thuur realized that he had one last question. “I think I understand my lord, but may I ask something else?”

Nahlos’s eye’s narrowed but he gave a slow nod. Thuur leaned forward a little more. “Are you truly a cripple, my lord?”

For a moment, Nahlos said nothing. Then a smirk crossed his beak and he made a slow shake of his head. “You are dismissed for the night, Thuur. Take the Sayings with you and study them further.” He hopped down from his seat and began to slowly push it back around the desk, leaning heavily against it as if one leg wouldn’t support his weight.

Thuur sat in his seat quietly for a moment. He half hoped that the mrlssi would answer, but only silence filled the air. When the chair finally squeaked back into place and Nahlos began to climb back into it, Thuur stood to take his leave. He picked up the copy of the Sayings, bowed deeply to the mrlssi sith lord, then turned and made his way from the chamber.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Syart's Avatar

12.26.2012 , 04:39 PM | #4
Very much enjoying this *eagerly waits for more*
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.

Scutum's Avatar

12.27.2012 , 11:15 AM | #5
I love how it's not just another story focusing on a really really really good student (like I thought it was at first with Nero's intro), but actually focuses on the rise of a student everyone has already deemed weak.

It's quite interesting
"This is all very interesting, but why should I care?"
―Kyle Katarn

Lordmird's Avatar

12.31.2012 , 02:26 PM | #6
Really really good!!

Eagerly awaiting more ! !
Semper Paratus

Caernos's Avatar

01.02.2013 , 08:20 PM | #7
Fourth Day

On the other side of the desk, Tyra closed her eyes and then rubbed at them with her hands. Thuur had an idea of how she was feeling. It seemed like they had been staring at pages, books, and computer screens for hours. He could swear that he actually saw glowing words in the air when he closed his eyes. “Thuur, why are we doing this again?” Tyra asked.

Thuur looked up for a moment, but quickly dropped his gaze back down to his computer screen. He was currently occupied by going through whatever records of the academy he could access. It truthfully wasn’t much. Acolytes were not given clearance to access most records; the masters of the academy didn’t want them to learn how others succeeded and so they hid whatever they thought might have some use. Thuur typed in another command only to get an “access denied” message. He frowned and looked up at Tyra. “I want to see what I can dig up about Lord Nahlos. I think Lady Venum is onto something, there is more to Nahlos than appears.”

Tyra shook her head and groaned. “We’re wasting our time here Thuur.” She growled in frustration and stood up. “Look, if you’re going to just stay here in the archives we should be looking up force techniques and powers, rather than trying to find out information about an old, crippled, alien sith lord. If you’re not going to do that then you should be practicing with your saber! Don’t you realize we’re at the point where the overseers and the masters are grooming us to be picked for a master?”

“I would listen to your girlfriend,” said a new voice. From around one of the shelves of datacards Nero appeared. He casually folded his arms over his chest and leaned back againt the shelf. Thuur instantly noted that Nero was alone but he did not forget the number of times he had lost to the other acolyte though. He remembered that Nahlos had told him to think about the Sayings and that brute force was not always the best option. Nero smiled confidently at Thuur and then launched another taunt. “Thinking of following in Nahlos’s footsteps Thuur? I never thought you were smart enough to be the book worm type.”

Thuur turned off his computer and turned in his seat to face his nemesis but he didn’t move to get up from the computer. The taunt stung, but Thuur knew he couldn’t rise to it. He decided to try and turn things back on Nero, to provoke the slave instead of being provoked. “Nero, shouldn’t you be fawning over Lord Reddak somewhere?”

Nero’s face lit up at Thuur’s comeback and challenge. “Oooh. Grew a spine did you? Better to fawn over Lord Reddak than to a dwarf and dying cripple like you.”

Thuur found himself grinning as he caught Nero’s slip. He could tell Nero was still surprised; that the zabrak was caught off guard by the restraint and control Thuur was showing and was looking for some way to rile him up. “Really, you actually fawn over Lord Reddak? I was just making a joke but I guess Lord Reddak must be flattered. Does he give you treats when you’re a good slave.”

At first the zabrak was confused,s clearly taken aback by Thuur’s brazenness. For a moment he seemed frozen solid. Then everything vanished from his eyes and was replaced by blazing hatred. The zabrak took a step towards Thuur, his hands clenched into fists. Thuur felt a small spark of triumph at having provoked the zabrak so well. Through barred teeth and a smile that was no where close to friendly, Nero hissed at Thuur. “I am going to enjoy the next time we face each other in the ring.”

Thuur nodded his head. The retort really wasn’t that surprising. He fought the urge to stand and prepare for an attack; fighting was forbidden outside the rings, but that didn’t mean it didn’t happen. Instead he forced himself to remain seated and appear relaxed. He did his best to look quizzical at Nero. “Don’t you need your master’s permission before you can enjoy anything?”

Before Thuur could move, Nero lunged forward and drove his fist into the side of Thuur’s face. Thuur found himself thrown violently to the ground landing hard on his side. Nero stood above him, raising his hand to bring down another blow. Thuur closed his eyes and braced for it.

At that point, Tyra intervened. “Nero!” she shouted. The blow never came and Thuur found himself opening his eyes and looking up at the zabrak. Nero stood frozen and his fist still raised. But now Thuur could sense others in the archives were watching the commotion, waiting to see how things played out. The zabrak had been caught and he couldn’t take it any further. Scowling he stepped back and away from Thuur. “Forget it, I’m done wasting my time with a failure like you. You’re never going to rise above acolyte Thuur!” And with that the Zabrak turned and disappeared into the archives.

Groaning, slightly, Thuur got to his feet and picked up his chair, setting it aright. Nero’s blow had missed his nose but it still hurt quite a bit. He wouldn’t be surprised if he now had some broken teeth. Tyra watched him, shaking her head. “You’re an idiot Thuur,” she said.

Thuur raised an eyebrow and glanced at her. “How so?”

“You just provoked one of the best acolytes in the academy. Do you really think he’s going to just ignore you?”

Thuur found himself shrugging, then gripping the chair to steady himself a bit. “I just thought if I was going to get beat up, I should actually deserve it this time.”

Tyra shook her head again and stood up. She picked up the books and datacards she had been studying and passed them off to a service droid. “If I were you Thuur, I would watch your back from now on.” With that she turned and left, heading for the turbolifts.

Thuur watched her go. He considered his actions. Yes he had provoked Nero, but that in itself was a victory, wasn’t it? Always before had he allowed the zabrak to taunt and goad him into acting rash and foolish. But for once Thuur had finally turned the tables. “Do you require assistance, acolyte Thuur,” asked the service droid.

Thuur looked at it, then looked at the desk he had been using. The top was strewn with datacards and books. “No, just clean this up and put it away.”

“Of course sir,” the droid replied, picking up a book and adding it to the pile Tyra left behind. Thuur wasn’t paying attention though, as he had turned and was walking away. He wanted to speak with Nahlos.

The walk went very quick since Thuur was already in the archive section. However, when he approached the door to Nahlos’s office, he found it did not open to his surprise. The acolyte looked at it and then looked for a way to open it. Most doors always had some kind of handle or knob or button that one could use. He was almost to the point of knocking when he saw the button, sitting very low on the wall to the left of the door. Bending down, Thuur pushed the button and the door slid open. Cautiously the Acolyte stepped in.

At first Thuur didn’t see Nahlos. The glowpanels were off leaving the room shrouded in darkness. Behind the desk, the mrlssi’s chair was turned away from the door and towards the large window. The desk itself was clear of its usual mess; Thuur could see that all of the scrolls and tomes had been returned to the shelves. Then a brilliant white lightning bolt flashed outside the window followed by a low and long rumble of thunder.

Thuur cast his eye once more around the room and then his hand went to the training saber at his belt. The air in the chamber was strangely cold and harsh. Dangerous. Thuur could feel that he was intruding. There was a hiss and on reflex Thuur turned to look behind him. The door was sliding shut and with a dull click it locked close.

Then Nahlos’s chair turned around from the window. The Mrlssi was sitting in a lotus position in the chair, his cane resting on top of his knee caps. He opened his eyes, and they focused on Thuur. “Acolyte Thuur, I trust this is important? You are interrupting my mediations.” The mrlssi’s sulfur yellow eyes bored into the Thuur’s blue ones.

Thuur found he could not let go of his weapon for fear of his life. He forced himself to smile and speak of his triumph. “I did it. I provoked Nero into attacking me.” He blurted the words out quickly.

Nahlos’s regarded Thuur coolly. Slowly the old sith uncurled his legs, one moving stiffer than the other. Then he hopped to the ground and grabbed his cane. With his cane striking on every other step he began to hobble around the desk, pausing when he came completely around it. “Congratulations, you are a moron then.”

The echo of Tyra’s words made Thuur’s cheeks flush with embarrassment. He opened his mouth to defend himself, but Nahlos raised a hand and cut him off with a sharp wave. “Tell me you foolish acolyte, What have you actually accomplished? You provoked Nero into attacking you and received a punch for it. Was that your plan Thuur?”

Thuur frowned and shook his head. “Well—no—I didn’t really have a plan.” His voice was quiet, cowed.

Thuur felt the surge of Nahlos’s anger rise and erupt like a volcano. Calm and peaceful one moment, then a blazing supernova the next. Before Thuur could so much as blink, Nahlos thrust a claw forward and unleashed a storm of lightning. The blue white bolts arced and curved through the air, striking Thuur in his chest and flinging him against the wall. He hit it with such force that actual books and scrolls fell from the shelves and landed all around him. Smoke rose from his robes and he gasped in pain.

Nahlos hissed, hobbling forward on his cane. “For years you have suffered and struggled but never advanced. You have your fear and your anger and even your hatred; but you are continually out smarted by those around you.” Thuur thought the shrieking cacophony of Nahlos’s words would actually make his ears bleed the sound was so rough. Still the mrlssi advanced to with a few feet of the fallen acolyte.

Thuur managed to sit up. His whole body ached from that brief burst of force lightning. He had endured jolts in his training, and he had endured shocks. But never had he come close to enduring what Nahlos had unleashed on him. The mrlssi watched him as if he were an insect, something disgusting to be crushed. “Yes, you were able to manipulate your enemy, but then you did nothing! A sith must always have a plan! Your entire life you have acted in reaction or without thought; and it is only by chance that you have not yet been destroyed by your incompetency.”

With that, the mrlssi dropped his cane to the side and this time the lightning flew from both of his tiny malformed claws. Thuur felt each and every one of his nerves spasm and twitch, pop. He could do nothing but roll back and forth on the ground, the blue-white bolts dancing over his body as he jerked and flailed.

Thuur could not tell how much time had passed, he only knew that the torture suddenly stopped. He curled up into a ball and gasped for breath. He could feel everything. He could feel nothing. Agony was all that he knew. He could only think about what would come next.

Suddenly Nahlos’s face appeared in Thuur’s eyesight. The old mrlssi was leaning close, actually kneeling with the help of his cane. The sith lord must have picked it back up. His sulfur yellow eyes filled the acolyte’s vision. “Tell me Thuur, why should I not kill you now and erase your failure from this academy.”

Thuur had no reason other than that he wanted to live. But he knew that would be not good enough. He was about to die at the hands of a crippled old alien.

That cinder of anger that Thuur had been nursing sparked then. His mind began to fly impossibly fast. He would not die at the hands of Nahlos. He was not going to be marked as a failure anymore. His anger bloomed into an inferno of hatred, a firestorm that turned all doubt and fear to ash. His limbs stopped shaking and he stopped gasping for air. With a snarl, Thuur suddenly sprang up and reached for Nahlos. The mrlssi had made a mistake coming so close to Thuur. He would tear the little alien’s head clean—

Thuur's hands never even came close to getting a hold of Nahlos. Then he was spinning through the air, bouncing off the desk and landing hard on the ground. Dazed, Thuur raised his head and watched as clawed feet hobbled towards him. Nahlos’s screeching cackling laughter filled the chamber. But there was a brief flicker of approval in his sulfur yellow eyes.

An invisible hand grabbed Thuur and lifted him up by the collar so that he was sitting with his back resting against the desk. Nahlos studied him for a moment and let out a grating chuckle. The mrlssi turned his back on Thuur and hobbled towards the displaced books and scrolls. Bending over, leaning tenuously on his cane, the diminutive sith lord began to pick up the dropped items and return them to their shelves.

Thuur watched, slowly regathering his wits. He tried to speak, but only a cough came out. His vocal chords ached from screaming. He coughed for a few more minutes, until he finally felt as if he could communicate. “Why?” he rasped. Thuur had so much he wanted to ask the sith lord; why the torture, why the lectures, why the questions, why did Nahlos do anything? But all he could do was boil it down to that one question. “Why?”

Using the force, Nahlos shoved a scroll back into place before turning to look at Thuur. Either he knew what Thuur was asking or he did not care. The mrlssi hobbled forward. “When I was a much younger bird, I was a slave. Then one day, sensing my power, my master came and purchased me and began to train me in the ways of the dark side in secret.” He smirked. “He wanted an apprentice that his rivals would underestimate, but would never pose a threat to himself. In me he found both.”

The mrlssi chuckled and shook his head, his sulfur yellow eyes peering into empty space as he remembered some long forgotten place. “It was my master who taught me to turn my greatest weaknesses into the weapons to destroy my enemies.”

At first, Thuur was confused by the mrlssi's answer. Then it hit him like another one of the sith lord's lightning bolts. It was as if he was looking at a still holo of the last four days. Separate, each day was unremarkable, unimportant, but when they were brought together there was something much deeper at work. In that moment of clarity, Thuur understood why Nahlos had taken such an interest in him.

He also realized what needed to be done next.

There was a slow rumble of thunder as a bolt of lightning lit the room up brightly. Taking a deep breath in, he pulled strength from the force. His muscles screamed and his bones ached, but he refused to give up. Slowly, Thuur forced himself to stand, teetering unsteadily. When he was on his feet he looked down at the old and crippled sith lord. “I will not die or be stuck here at this academy for the rest of my life,” said Thuur adamantly. His voice filled with conviction at the path laid clear before him.

Nahlos’s sulfur yellow eyes focused on the acolyte and a chilling smile appeared. “So sure are you, acolyte?”

With great care, Thuur lowered himself till he was kneeling before the sith lord. Then he bent at the waist and lowered his head till it was beneath the beak of Nahlos’s. “If you would have me, I would serve as your apprentice.” Slowly he placed his hand on the ground, tucking the other behind his back. “I pledge myself to your teachings.”

Thunder rumbled beyond the windows but that was all the noise in the room. Thuur kept his eyes down for as long as possible. He could feel Nahlos’s sulfur yellow eyes staring intently at him. Finally, the mrlssi began to chuckle. His cackling was filled with triumph and venom, as if the Mrlssi had finally succeeded in some hidden goal.

“Good, very good,” Nahlos said, “Rise, my apprentice.”

Thuur did as commanded, even though every part of him felt stiff and tired. Nahlos ignored Thuur’s discomfort and began hobbling around his desk back to his chair. “The others in this academy will see our partnership as a farce, the pairing of a cripple with a failure. They will think us both weak, and we can use this to our advantage.”

“As you say, master,” Thuur said quietly. A sense of purpose was beginning to fill the young man. It made the weariness and the pain fade away as he was eager to begin.

Nahlos clambered up into his overly large chair, and rested his claws on the arm rests. “I will teach you all that I know, young Thuur. Together, we will change the Empire and the very galaxy.” As his rasping voice quieted, Nahlos’s beak cracked in a wide and malicious grin.


Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Lordmird's Avatar

01.04.2013 , 06:00 PM | #8
In the famous words of a great, respected man.....

"Vey niiice" :P

Waiting for more
Semper Paratus

Caernos's Avatar

01.05.2013 , 01:48 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Lordmird View Post
In the famous words of a great, respected man.....

"Vey niiice" :P

Waiting for more
Heh, glad you enjoyed it. More will come. Just not sure what will come next. It's a toss up between revising the next part and working on some of my other projects. Got a lot of ideas bouncing around unfortunately.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts

Caernos's Avatar

03.25.2013 , 06:55 PM | #10
Hey, I know this has been off the charts for a while and I highly doubt anyone is still waiting for the second part.

That said, this and the remaining two sections are taking definite back seats for a couple of reasons.
1.) Because I've got to focus on at least one project and get it finished
2.) Because I looked at my chronology and the lore for this period and what's happening and I realized that my story was going to be very odd.
3.) There are issues that need to be addressed. Thuur is supposed to be a failure as an acolyte but its never really clear why he's a failure. Everything I used to try and show that he was a failure felt weak and flimsy, so I'm going to be strongly reworking his character to make it more credible about what his problems are.

Overall, I'm just not generally happy with my work and so I will be going back through and fixing it. When, I do not know. I don't have a time frame, but anything involving Thuur won't progress until I rework this entire story.
Cynfor Cinderheart and the Cinderheart Legacy: The Ebon Hawk
The FanFic Works of Caernos:
Red Invitation, Parents,
Beskar Bonds and Cinder Hearts