May 26 2015 1:55pm
Several hours later, Myra awoke to find herself on her back in a small rocky chamber. It took a moment to reorient herself and recall the events of the last few days. As she did, she felt her side where the broken rib had been. No pain. The lightsaber wound had healed as well, leaving only a long scar from shoulder to stomach.
Rising, she felt a bit of a twinge in her shoulder - the muscles would still need to knit together properly, and that shoulder might never regain its full usefulness, not without full medical surgery - but otherwise she felt as well as she had the day before Capricia. There was something about this place, about this Jedi Master. Something wholesome. Something she desperately needed.
Aches aside, she knew it would take much longer for her mind to heal. She had dreamed again, the same dream. Light and dark, blue and red, intertwining, weaving together, touching and creating metaphysical black holes that sucked everything into them. It was odd, that; her studies both in the Jedi Temple and on Xa Fel had contained the stories of Jedi and Sith, and those who were neither, blending the light and the dark without difficulty. So what was the problem she faced? Why was she unable to walk that path without control? And why had the Darkness been such a palpable force on Capricia?
Questions, to which she needed answers.
Working her body through a series of strengthening and stretching exercises - the first time she had been able to do so since Capricia - she felt knots evaporate. It felt good. Falling into the routine took her mind, for the moment, off the pressing questions of her future and the Force and allowed her to simply be Myra for a time. Part of her wished that would never end.
Elana watched her Mistress go through her routine from the other side of the sleeping chamber. Lady Skygge was a bit slower than usual, but the pace at which she was recovering was astonishing, even for a Sith. Shaking her head, she continued reviewing in her mind her fight - if it could be called that - with that Jedi. He'd managed to defeat her without striking a blow, without even raising a hand in his own defense. And he had disarmed her so quickly...
No Jedi should have been able to do that to her. None. She was well-trained in the Force, almost at the level of a Knight, and yet the Jedi had made a fool of her. And then, more surprisingly, he had not interfered with her Mistress's judgment. It made no sense. She knew of the arrogance of the Jedi. They required everyone to bow to their whims, to cater to their desires. They put up a front of neutrality, of selflessness, when they focused only on themselves. They claimed compassion, but denied emotion. It was unnatural. Yet this Jedi, he had done something she hadn't expected.
And then there was her Mistress. A standard week ago, she had cut down an apprentice in cold blood for exactly what Elana had done; attempting to prove herself to her Mistress by attacking someone she had not been commanded to attack. Yet her Mistress spared her. She gave Elana time to reflect on the fight, on her shame, on her failure. Why? That was not the Sith way.
Or was it? Much of her early training had been under the Sith Lords on Xa Fel, and many of them followed a path of hedonism, a path that led to self-aggrandizement and power. Or was it power? Instead of controlling their emotions, they surrendered to every whim, every desire. Were they themselves captives, then? Their mantra was freedom through the Force, but was what they had truly freedom, or simply another set of chains?
It was worthy of further consideration. As her Mistress finished her exercises, Elana spoke. "Mistress, I would beg leave to accompany you today. Master Dolash is...not what I thought. I would hear what he has to say."
On the other side of the room, her Mistress smiled.
Jul 2 2015 5:29pm
Two weeks had passed – two wonderful, incredible, amazing weeks – and Myra felt better than she had since leaving the Jedi temple years ago. After only two weeks with Dolash, she realized that in joining the Sith, while she had learned much, she had taken more steps backwards than she had forwards. The Dark Side was a palpable force, at least to her, and while it dangled freedom as bait, it waited silently with chains to bind.
But the Jedi had the wrong of it as well. Even Dolash recognized that. The Jedi limited themselves, adhered to their rigid code, bound themselves to it. The Jedi Master would not admit it, but Myra knew it was out of fear. Fear of the Dark Side. Fear of their own strength. Fear of the galaxy. And such fear could not be permitted if one was to truly understand the nature of the Force.
Elana seemed to be coming around, though she still was an unbridled well of emotion. Her temper slipped far too easily from her grasp. That trait would get her in trouble one day, if it didn’t kill her. Still, she accompanied Myra in most of her talks with the Jedi Master, and though she still did not trust him, her questions to him showed she understood his teachings.
Amazing. To think that in two weeks she could go from hatred of the Jedi to pleasure that an apprentice of hers was understanding a Jedi’s teachings. That was sometimes the way of things, though – the way of the Force, Dolash might say – and who was she to deny what was happening?
She was scheduled today for a training exercise with the Jedi Master, one similar to what she had done as a Padawan in the Temple. This time, she would be more aware, though, of what she sought. And it would be colder. A lot colder. Wrapping the borrowed ice-cat cloak tighter around her, she stepped from the climate-controlled cave into the icy blasts of Ilum.
She saw the Jedi Master waiting for her, placid as always, and dressed only in the robes he typically wore. Arrogant Jedi, she thought, but without the malice that might have accompanied the thought two weeks ago. Myra stepped up beside him and waited.
After several long moments, Dolash turned to her. “You understand the task you are undertaking?”
Myra nodded, but did not respond further.
Dolash turned back to stare across the icy wastes. “Then be off. Let the Force guide you.”
Without another word, Myra set off at a jog, her half-closed eyes not really seeing, allowing the world to come into focus only through the Force. She leaped from snow-covered rock to snow-covered rock, barely touching before moving to the next, never sinking below her ankles in the white covering. Her path led her straight towards a rocky outcropping some five kilometers distant; she’d been past it before and knew its location, but today she’d set foot on it and, if all went well, inside it.
As she ran, the last few weeks played themselves over in her mind. She and Dolash had talked – actually talked – for hours on end. She would never have imagined it two weeks ago – her, sitting and having a conversation with a Jedi. But talk they had, about topics ranging from the Force and its nature to the failures of both Jedi and Sith.
During that time, her shoulder had healed to where the stiffness was barely noticeable. Not bad, for almost having lost the arm. Dolash had surreptitiously been checking on her each night; she’d felt his mind probe her injuries each evening. He’d been careful about it, but she knew, and she appreciated it. None of her Sith masters would ever have cared enough to check.
The outcropping grew closer with each step, each leap. And with each step, each leap, she left another piece of her old life behind. This journey, though it covered only a few kilometers, was a turning point. It would irrevocably change everything she was – both Jedi, and Sith. She would become something new.
An hour later, she arrived at the outcropping. It jutted from the snow and ice like a tower, though it was, as far as she knew, a natural formation. She knelt before it, her mind reaching out and searching for anomalies in the rocks, and she quickly found an opening. This was it. With a deep breath, she stepped forward and descended into the cave.
Darkness surrounded her, engulfed her. Ilum’s faint light faded quickly behind her, and all became absolute blackness. She could not rely on sight here; the Force would have to guide her.
Down she went, meter after meter, turn upon turn, descending into the utter blackness. Her mind reached out, feeling everything around her, searching, searching for the goal of her journey. Step by step, she descended, never wavering, passing along narrow bridges across vast chasms, squeezing through passages too narrow to seem almost impassable. Down, down, always down into the black.
And then she found it. She knew, before even touching it, that this was the one. Or, in her case, the two. Grown, nurtured here in the dark, yet she could feel the warmth radiating from them. Twins, they were, beginning on the same day, in the same hour, in this same place. She could feel the Force flowing from them; they were ready to be harvested.
And so she began. In total blackness, she coaxed them out of their housing with the Force. With the Force she shaped them, willing them into the form necessary. From her pack she removed the rest of the supplies she would need and began, without sight, by touch and the Force alone, to build.
Two days later, she was finished. Without sleep, without food, sustained by the Force alone, she had completed what she had set out to do. Some Jedi and most Sith saw this process as simply the creation of a tool. She knew better. Everything she was had been poured into this process. Her life had molded that which lay comfortably in her hand now. It contained all she had been as a child on Dathomir, all she had learned in the Jedi Temple, all that had been taught her by her first Master, all she had become on leaving the Order, and all she had experienced as a Sith. All her life had been preparing her for this moment, when the blackness that had gripped her would be shattered by the combined colours of the light and the dark. The colours of the Force.
With the press of a button, the darkness that had obscured her sight for the last two days fled from the amethyst light of the newly constructed lightsaber. And Myra smiled.
Jul 8 2015 7:33pm
The darkness around her banished, Myra stood and turned. Going out would be easy, but something told her she was not yet done here. By the light of her blade, she began to descend deeper into the caverns.
The light of her blade, and an interesting light it was. Amethyst. A combination of red and blue. The two sides of the Force, coming together, forged into one beacon that guided her on her path down into the darkness and that would guide her once again back to the light. A fitting color. A fitting blade.
Down Myra went, though she knew not for what she sought. The blackness grew ever thicker, ever deeper, but the amethyst glow kept it at bay. The light – both stronger than the darkness, and defined by it. An interesting philosophical analogy, Myra thought. In order for the light to truly shine, there must be great darkness; else the light is unremarked. Without the darkness, the light is nothing. But the tiniest light drives away darkness, despite the latter’s overwhelming force.
A very interesting concept, and one that bore much consideration.
The Jedi had made it their mission throughout their long and fractious history to eliminate the darkness. To drive it away. To create in its place a galaxy of only light. Yet when they believed they had achieved their goal, when they had been a thousand years without the Sith, they were forgotten. Their deeds were, at best, unremarked, and more often than not decried as heavy-handed or dark in themselves. The Jedi had not been trusted.
Then the darkness returned. Overwhelming, overpowering. Vader and the Empire eliminated all but a few of those Jedi, and the light, which had weakened in the midst of so much of its own, was nearly extinguished. For years, while the Emperor reigned, there was so little light it was all but invisible.
Yet that light was rekindled in the being called Luke Skywalker. A blazing beacon, driving back the darkness, relentless in its pursuit to eliminate even the shadows.
And where had that left the Jedi? They had once again taken control, once again driven away the darkness, and their light was once again unremarkable. It was drowned out by all that was around it.
So the darkness returned, more powerful, stronger than before. The Jedi were disbanded, their Temples abandoned or in ruins, their members scattered across the galaxy and now hunted by the greatest darkness the galaxy had yet seen. Once again the black was overwhelming, once again it oppressed that which sought to end it.
So what was the answer? Was the galaxy condemned to forever sway back and forth between light and dark, between day and night, with billions and trillions paying the price of that devastating pendulum?
Or was there another way?
Myra considered that as she descended. What could end the cycle? Could it be ended?
The answer, if there was one, was not to come, at least not this day.
Deep within this cavern, buried by centuries of ice and snow, a creature lay sleeping. A relic from the ancient war with the Sith Empire, it had slumbered with the death of its last master. Created and sustained by the Force alone, it had waited in silence and darkness for a sign of life. Now, as it felt the presence move through the caverns above, it stirred. And it was hungry.
Myra continued down cautiously, a nagging in the back of her mind telling her all was not well. Blade extended before her, step by careful step, she descended, eyes and senses alert for danger.
The creature’s blood-red eyes watched Myra enter the grotto, saw her step into its domain. Saliva, black and acidic, fell from its jaws as it crouched, waiting.
Myra moved through the large chamber, trying to stay as best she could in the center. Reaching out, she probed her surroundings, trying to locate the source of that nagging sense of danger. Nothing.
The creature felt the human’s touch, light as a feather, run across its skin. It soaked in the ecstasy of that feeling; even above mating and eating, the Force was its pleasure. It drank in what Myra gave, leaving nothing around it but emptiness.
So it was when the creature leaped, Myra felt only the briefest of warnings. She dove and rolled, attempting to evade, but she still felt the burn of claws dragging across her back. An involuntary cry of pain escaped her lips as she dropper her saber and scrambled to her feet. A moment’s searching found the blade, and she called it quickly to her hand. Setting herself in a well-known Form I stance, her eyes and senses shot around, waiting for the creature’s next strike.
It came swiftly, from the left. Myra swiftly turned to meet it, bringing her blade around in an attempt to slice through the outstretched claws. The creature was too fast, though, rolling past her and slicing at her once again. Her heavy robes warded off its strike, and she swung her blade in a backhand strike, trying to sever its hide. Her blade felt no resistance, and when she turned, she saw the beast crouched, ready to strike again.
It was like nothing she’d ever seen. At least three meters of coiled muscle under hard, scaly skin. Blood-red eyes glaring at her with hate. An elongated muzzle with razor-sharp teeth. Claws seventeen centimeters long. It moved fluidly, silently. And she could not sense it through the Force.
Not content to wait for it to strike again, Myra attacked, bringing her blade around in a series of blows designed to corner it for a final strike, which she delivered with as much power as she could muster; but once again the creature dodged away from her, not letting the blade so much as score its scales. It lunged again, feinting with a claw before shooting forward towards her legs. Myra leaped high over the attacking creature’s mouth as it snapped shut beneath her, then whirled and brought her blade down towards its head. Instead of severing it, as she expected, the lightsaber bounced, sending her tumbling one direction and the creature another. It rose, stunned, as Myra collected herself and scrambled to her feet.
While the creature was still shaking off the effects of the blow, Myra charged forward, bringing her blade around in a powerful strike, sending it flying once again across the cavern floor. It came to a rest some five meters away, its eyes roving but unfocused. Myra leaped again, raising her blade for a killing blow. She hacked at the creature over and over until its organs no longer inhaled oxygen.
Turning her back, she began to walk away before she heard a slight stirring behind her. Whirling, she saw the creature rise to its feet, its dismembered body pulling itself back together through what could only be the Force. Howling, it hurled itself towards her, but Myra was ready. As it came, she twisted her hands on the saber’s hilt, swapping one crystal for another. The blade, in an instant, changed from amethyst to silver-white and shot forward to a new length of a two meters, spearing through the creature’s blood-red eye and penetrating to its brain.
The creature, impaled on the blade, twitched violently, then spasmed such that it slid off the end and rolled to the ground. For another long moment, it rolled and writhed before the violent motions carried it into a chasm and out of sight.
Myra, her back bloody and her muscles tired, knelt in the grotto. Her blade levitated before her, she bowed her head and left the conscious world behind.
This creature had been of pure darkness. A creation of the ancient Sith; there could be no doubt of that. And it had been defeated and banished by the light. By the focused light. Perhaps that was the answer to the question. It was not the Jedi that would save the galaxy, or the Sith. Both followed their own agendas too narrowly, their own sets of rules, pushing and pulling on one another to the point where the galaxy would soon be destroyed under the strain.
But focused light in the midst of darkness…that was what the galaxy needed. And that was what she would become.
Sep 8 2015 6:29pm
Dolash turned from the icy wastes as Myra disappeared in the distance. Wordlessly, he descended back into the caverns, followed closely by Mynenial’s apprentice. The girl had improved tremendously in the last few weeks – both of them had, really – and Dolash was glad for the change. Constant wariness, waiting for the snap-hiss of a lightsaber blade darting towards his back, took a toll on him. Now he almost felt he could trust her not to stab him.
As much as Elana had progressed, though, Mynenial’s improvement was nothing short of astonishing. Her body had healed almost completely, and her mind was mending as well. She was close, he thought, so close to discovering who she was and, perhaps more importantly, who she needed to become.
The intensive training, the philosophical discussions, the deep meditation sessions, had done something else, as well. Dolash could feel her now, a presence in the back of his mind. Some part of him felt the icy wind on her face, the ice and snow crunching beneath her boots. A bond had formed between them. Not a full Force bond, certainly; not even the bond between a Master and Padawan; but a bond nonetheless. Mynenial had never been the strongest in the Force, but now she seemed to feed on this relationship, and she grew stronger by the hour.
Dolash knew, even after this short time with the girl, that she would never return to the path of a Jedi. And perhaps it was best that she did not. The Jedi way was not for everyone. Perhaps, he thought solemnly, they had been wrong to require their Padawans to conform to the Code as they defined it. A heretical thought, but he was a hermit now. He could afford a little heresy.
The Jedi Code required that an individual forsake all that made them sentient. Many had become little more than machines. Funny, that one of the criticisms leveled at Vader was that he had been more machine than man, yet what were the Jedi if not that? Set so rigidly in their paths, depriving themselves of emotion to the point that they were less than droids. Something needed to change.
And unless Dolash missed his guess, Mynenial would be the agent of that change. She would not be Jedi, but neither, he thought, would she any more be Sith. She would become something more, something greater than either, greater than both. Unbound from the Jedi Code, yet living with an eye towards the light. It would be something the galaxy had not seen in a long, long time. And it would be wonderful.
“Master Jedi?” The query interrupting Dolash’s reverie came without the usual spite Elana put into those words. The Master smiled, just a slight turning up of the corners of his mouth. She was coming around. It would take time for her to return to the light, but he had set her on that path, and she would, he thought, complete it on her own time.
Turning his head slightly as he walked, the Jedi Master raised an eyebrow in the Apprentice’s direction. Elana met his gaze with a scowl. “What have you sent my Master into now?”
Dolash shook his head. “I do not send her, Elana. She goes of her own accord. This is something she must do, for herself. I know where she goes, and I know what waits for her. Should she survive, she will be complete.”
Elana’s scowl deepened. “Should she survive?”
Dolash nodded. “We will know soon. Come, meditate with me. We can try to lend her our strength. She will need it.”
Oct 1 2015 3:44pm
Deep within the bowels of Ilum, in a cave darker than the blackest night, in a chasm well over a mile beneath the surface, the beast stirred. Battered and broken, it began to move feebly, slowly, as its flesh and bones began to reattach. Slowly, ever so slowly, it regained consciousness. Clambering to its feet, it reached out with its senses and found its quarry, on a ledge far above. The creature’s red eyes, whole once more, blinked slowly. Malice and hatred filled the creature, hatred of the thing that had caused such pain. And slowly, ever so slowly, it began to climb.
Several hundred meters above, Myra meditated. She felt the Force flow through and around her, felt strength returning to her limbs, felt her head clear. Strength came to her then, strength in the Force. Dolash and Elana, she thought with a smile. Thank you.
She knelt for a long time, hour after hour passing in silent contemplation of life and the Force. Several times she began to rise, but a subtle prompting made her stop. It was not yet time to leave. In the depths of the darkness, a new creation of light was being forged, and she was not yet complete. There was something still to come.
The slight scratch of a claw on a rock was her only warning. Myra dropped flat to the ground as she felt the massive dark-side beast pass just above her, claws and teeth scrambling for purchase on her person. Rolling sideways, she brought her blade up just in time to batter aside its next lunge. Grabbing hold of the cavern wall with the Force, she dragged herself quickly towards it, sliding out from under the beast’s snapping jaws and managing to somersault to her feet.
The combatants eyed one another for a moment, neither moving, both looking for an opening. Apparently, this contest would not be decided by her lightsaber, and the Force was ineffective against this creature. So how to kill it? Myra thought. Then there was no more time to think, for the creature leaped.
As it moved, so did Myra, rolling to the right and bringing her blade around in an uppercut swing designed to shear through the creature’s underbelly and sever it in two. But the blade simply ricocheted off the creature’s scales and sent it tumbling into the wall. It landed lightly on its feet and rushed her again, and once again she dodged and sent it tumbling.
Again and again the combatants engaged, neither scoring an effective strike against the other. Around the ledge they danced, claws and teeth and blade, illuminated only by the amethyst glow of the lightsaber. Strike after strike Myra used, trick after trick, movement after movement, and the creature just kept coming. She tried once more to lengthen the blade and stab it through they eye, but the creature was ready this time and took the lengthened blade on its cheek instead. Time after time they approached and clashed, and time after time they both extracted themselves uninjured from the battle.
Yet it could not continue forever. Myra was beginning to tire. Her blows began to slow, ever so imperceptibly. Her dodges came with less and less room to spare. And in that moment, she heard once again the pull of the Dark Side. The temptation to fully surrender to its power, to grab that river of chaos and evil and use it to destroy her foe.
So easy it would be. To reach out and embrace the darkness. To give in. To become that which she had so long resisted. So easy.
Instead she pushed it down. She denied the darkness a hold on her. She was surrounded by the black, but she refused to let it in. Instead, she poured her energy into her lightsaber, the smallest of lights that shoved back the ever-oppressive dark. And in that light she found her salvation.
As the creature moved forward to meet her, Myra extinguished her blade and closed her eyes. Instead of dodging, she pulled into herself all that she was. From her earliest days on Dathomir, to her time in the Temple, to her wanderings, to her apprenticeship on Xa Fel, to her training of others on Katarr, to her attack on the Corbans on Capricia, to her training with Dolash. She drew it in and forged it – forged herself – into a blade of light.
She felt the creature hit and heard its scream. Her eyes snapped open. She still stood rooted in place, her body surrounded by a swirl of blue, green, and purple light. The dark beast had struck her and tumbled backwards. It writhed on the ground, light streaming from every orifice of its body. Scales began to melt away. It screeched again in pain as the light dissolved it from the inside.
In moments, it was over, and Myra once again stood in the dark. Yet it was no longer dark, for she burned with an inner light that would not, could not, be quenched. She had found her balance, she had found her peace. She had found, for herself, the colour of the Force. And it was light.