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Author Topic: Tales from Clan Noth  (Read 5342 times)

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Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #15 on: 07/26/17, 03:23:30 PM »
(( I have a ridiculously long backlog now of story updates to write. This one takes place way back several weeks ago, in the middle of the Iridonia plot that I was doing. There'll be a few more story updates after this one, but all of them take place in the past-tense compared to current RP events. I stopped proofreading this towards the end because I just wanted to get it done, so no promises to quality in the latter half.

Go HERE and HERE for the news stories that follow this story.))

Varooth stood in the shadows of the halls of the High Temple, again, though this time it was not summons but a personal journey that brought him here. Dark, embroidered robes masked his identity, let him visit in peace, but were respectful enough that they didn't look very out of place at the Temple itself. While Varooth did not like the idea of hiding in robes, the peace of mind was enough that he was grateful for the lack of staring and whispering that seemed to follow him lately.

Such is the life of politics you have thrown yourself into, he mused. You have only yourself to blame.

This nook--a shrine of Vysh--was quieter than some of the others. An animated statue, with dark-carved jato and long jagged horns, stood with a bladed zhaboka in his hands, a spearthrower and quiver of javelins over one shoulder. In bowls at his feet, people had left used-up blaster packs, pictures of people whose stories he did not know, animal teeth and claws, the odd medal or set of pips, and, he noted with amusement, one curled-up padawan braid. It spoke to the variety of people who honored the god of the hunt and war... Whether you were a soldier or a hunter yourself, an ordinary person praying for a loved one's protection, or a Jedi whose Trials were forged by war, you found something of comfort in the god who patroned it.

Varooth looked up into the carved eyes of the icon and wondered how people saw comfort there, instead of the coldness of one who kills often and well. Why was he here? Even if he believed in the gods--which, he did not--he needed to stave off war, not start or preserve it. There were other gods that suited his purpose better.

He heard the rustle of cloth beside him, and turned to glance at the worshiper joining... only to freeze and frown at the tall newcomer, who seemed to fill half of the niche just by being there.

"Knight Akket," the elder greeted, more observation than greeting. He glanced around the hallway, seeing few worshipers, then looked back at the Jedi, who seemed to be considering the image of Vysh with a thoughtful expression. "What are you doing here?"

Bren looked back from his contemplation with a wry smile. "Might ask the same of you. Here I thought you were an atheist."

"I am." Varooth frowned and brushed back his hood. If he was going to be seen, it may as well be with the Jedi he was now so associated with, and it may as well be discussing gods. If nothing else, it would show that he could blend the old and the new. "Did Master Orans send you looking for me?"

The Jedi shrugged, leaning on the wall of the nook. "I'm here to worship, same as you." At Varooth's dismissive huff, he continued, "Well, maybe not the same... But I'm here to worship. And talk to some old friends--" He nodded in the direction of a pair of robed monks collecting offerings from a nearby shrine, and gave a good-natured chuckle. "--who may or may not be happy to see me."

"I was not aware the Jedi encourage belief in gods..."

"They don't." Bren smiled bemusedly. "Usually. And yet, here I am."

Varooth took a moment to observe what he was wearing. Jedi had few possession, as a general rule, so it made it simple to observe patterns in their clothing. Every time he had seen Bren since their encounter with Exephos, the Jedi had worn long robes, clad his limbs in armor, or a new armored bodysuit over which he draped hints of Jedi brown and orange. Today, however, he wore a short, white tunic, his only armor a padded cloth tabard, pale Republic-emblazoned scarves draped around his neck and shoulders. It was a return to his manner of dress from before the abduction. It was also the look of a man who neither feared attack, nor wished--like Varooth--to hide behind skirts and sleeves and hoods.

Bren took his silence as a sign to start talking, again, the redhead reaching out to grab an electric match from the nearby sconce full of them and hand it to Varooth. "So... Why Vysh? If you don't believe in gods?"

"I find myself wondering that as well. My impulse guided me here," Varooth replied, taking the match and looking at Bren incredulously. "What do you expect me to do with this?"

The Jedi smiled at him, producing an unlit candle and offering that too. "You are here to worship, are you not? Or at least, present the image of worship."

The councillor frowned, but sighed and accepted the candle, lighting it with the match and throwing the disposable stick of wiring away. He placed this on the altar, slowly, nearby the bowl with the coiled braid in it, and frowned at the pale flame that now lit the shrine from beneath. "Yes, but I do not wish to encourage the image that I'm rooting for war... I have had enough accusation thrown at me of warmongering."

Bren shrugged, shifting in his position against the shrine wall. "People pray for many things. To bring war to them. To ask that war look them over. To simply pray for a successful hunt. To note their children will be undergoing Res'Selenoren, and to ask Vysh to make them strong."

Varooth's eyes drifted, before he could catch himself, to the scarring crossing the Jedi's face--vicious, curving scars, that obliterated the jato that had once lain beneath them--and he winced faintly. It occurred to him why Bren might have followed him to this nook, as he observed slowly, "And Vysh invented Res'Selenoren."

Bren nodded, humming affirmatively as he looked back up at the statue, his arms crossing. "Mm. To challenge the Zabrak without destroying them. The gift of Am'Aul. Blood and scars turned to something good." He paused, looking back. "At least, if you believe in those legends."

Am'Aul. An old name for Vysh, an epithet. Sacred son. Varooth glanced back down the hallway, to the shrines Bren's 'friends' were seeing to: Amina--Am'Nul--with her wings and serene bearing; Ush--Am'Osh--standing with starmaps behind him--the rest of Vysh's 'family'. He remembered something, suddenly, which had seemed unimportant then, but now stood out in new light, and turned back to the Jedi.

"There was a time, not so long ago, when I was told you had gone on pilgrimage..." Varooth began, before trailing off with a curious tone.

Bren gave him a hesitant look, then nodded slowly. "Following the steps of Am'Nul, into the blasted light half of the planet."

"To seek what? The question of what she found there?"

Bren sighed. "... Healing. And, perhaps, to ask the same questions she asked when she left. Why we do violence to one another."

"And did you find your answer?"

There was a moment of quiet, then, "I found healing. If I found my answer, I left with more questions than I came with. Sort of cancels that out." He paused, then gave Varooth a faint smile. "Why? Trying to figure out what denomination I fall into?"

"In a way," Varooth replied, returning it with a sly smile of his own. "Curious, I suppose, what faith draws a Jedi. Also curious to hear your take on one of those... eternal mystery type things."

Bren just grunted in answer, looking back up at the statue, then at Varooth's candle, flickering quietly on the altar. His eyes settled on the braid beside it, and he smiled warmly for a moment, before looking back up at the councillor. "Why did you lose your faith, Edar Varooth?"

Varooth paused, his eyes drawn now to the cluster of offerings as well. A light frown played across his face as he answered, "It seemed to me that the gods delighted equally in the victories of our enemies as they did those of the Zabrak."

"Perhaps the gods are simply callous," Bren noted, his tone wry, though his expression as he considered Varooth was guarded and thoughtful.

"They are our ancestors. They have no reason to be callous." He looked back at Bren, arcing a brow. "They also answer few prayers. It follow, then, perhaps they are simply dead, or do not exist. Or are disappointed in their children."

Bren's squint did not vanish at that explanation. If anything, he seemed to regard Varooth with even greater thoughtfulness. After a moment, though, he nodded, letting out a soft sigh. Turning back to the shrine, the Jedi cupped a hand around the flame, as if to feel its warmth. "Perhaps, Edar Varooth, you were drawn here because your mind dwells on Vysh's purview--on war, on destruction, even the hunt." He looked back. "I listen to the news same as you. I did not miss the rumor about what the... assassin... who went after our favorite Colonel was shouting."

Slaret Vyi. The Blood Hunt--blood feuds, bounty hunting, revenge and honor killings. Another thing that was sacred to Vysh, yet distasteful to Varooth. The councillor made a dismissive sound. Zabrak killing Zabrak. He supposed that was fine when they had only Iridonia and their colony worlds, and fought wars only among themselves, but they were a modern people now in a galactic age. They needed to focus their attention outwards, not inwards.

Yet, Varooth had brought conflict to his own planet. He looked upwards, at the eyes and fangs of the statue which now seemed to flicker with life. Perhaps there was some truth to Vysh, at least, being callous and delighting in conflict. And perhaps Varooth was cursed with an abundance of the spirit's patronage, if he could allow himself to believe such things. He brushed the thought away as fanciful the moment it entered his head. Gods or not, he still had to make it right. And his plan... his plan fell within the war god's domain.

Speaking lowly, he asked, "And you are here to worship. So, what does Jedi Bren Akket believe the gods to be?"

Bren turned back to him with a faint smile. "As a Jedi, or as an Iridonian?"


Bren nodded. "I believed at one time that they were metaphors--aspects of the Force given name and myths." He gestured to the statue above them as he regarded Varooth, then to the other nooks of the hall in turn. "Vysh was of the Dark, or... something like it. Amina of the Light. Ush of the Unifying and Cosmic Force. Gith of the Living and the Physical. Nath..." He trailed off and paused. "...of the principle that there is no death, yet, there is the Force. An oversoul, even as spirits are returned to and from the Force. Tira'Noth differs from other Jedi enclaves in our allowance of clan ties and our belief in this, that the dead do not lose themselves even when they give up what they were. If we have a patron... it is Ath."

"How very Zabrak," Varooth observed, with a ghost of a smile on his face. Bren did not return it, but seemed now lost in his own thoughts. The councillor breathed in audibly, to catch his attention, and continued, "And what do you believe now?"

Bren gave him a sideways look. "That is... complicated. Maybe the gods are what the legends say. Ancestor spirits." He let out a long sigh. "And people are not allegories, and perhaps my old judgment is unfair to them. But... I am still a Jedi. And I still follow the Force." A faint smile crossed his lips. "Something I have in common with Clan Noth, yes?"

Varooth breathed in, letting it out slowly as he nodded. "Mm. I have seen too many impossible things from the Enclave to not believe in the Force. Even if we were not one of the clans who considers Ush to be a metaphor, as you say. Which... we are." He glanced up at the statue. "Though that does not, apparently, extend to the other gods, as the Be'edar reminds me often."

The Jedi snorted. "Your grandmother? Not pleased by your atheism?"

"No." The elder managed a laugh. "As venerable as the wisened Be'edar is, I have larger concerns with regards to who might judge my faith." He nodded to the other man. "Concerns the Jedi have turned my mind to. Alternate paths. A way to pass this... damned affair with Exephos on to others, and maintain my honor and reputation."

Bren blinked, considering him thoughtfully a moment, then gave a small hum, a slow nod. "The Kal'Edar."

Quietly, Varooth confirmed, "The Kal'Edar." A pause. "I will not be dueling him. Master Niarra recommended a Jedi proxy, to both stand in for Tira'Noth's concerns and to show the Republic is not grown entirely callous to the concerns of Iridonia. We will... see if that gesture is recieved. Master Vos volunteered, or... rather, was volunteered and accepted."

The Jedi raised a scarred brow. "Have you announced this yet, at the High Council?"

"I will," Varooth replied, then gestured to the statue. "When I am finished here. I felt it might aid me to get into the mindset of the Kal'Edar. He is less king than priest."

Bren watched him with concern. "... He is also a trained sang. Does Mar- Does Master Vos know this?"

"You are welcome to tell him. One of the many reasons I am grateful for the Jedi taking my place. I'm not eager to find out how I fare against a Force-user."

Another quiet hum from the Jedi as he turned back to the shrine. After a moment's pause, he took another match from the sconce, giving Varooth an amused look as he lit another candle from the flame of the first. "I will send a prayer to Vysh for Master Vos. Though, we will see if he hears it or not."

Varooth shook his head, drawing his hood up again to leave. Before he did, however, he turned back, aiming a questioning look at Bren as he asked, "The pilgrim's path you took, to follow Am'nul into the planet's harshest landscapes... That myth says that Vysh went on a similar journey, does it not?"

For a moment, all he saw was Bren's back, the red braid sticking out from under the woven scarf. Then, the Jedi turned to answer, seeming to consider each word: "It does, yes."

"To seek healing as well?"

A swish of hair against cloth as Bren shook his head. "Depends on your perspective, I suppose. He learned to direct his violence to purpose, to make something constructive out of it. Guess that counts." A moment's quiet. "He also came there to mourn. When the gods fight wars, they feel the loss of their friends and kin as keenly as we do."

"He seems to not have learned much... The galaxy is as violent as it ever was."

He caught the hint of a smile. Bren turned back to face the robed elder, giving a small nod. "He taught the Zabrak to use their strength, to withstand and thrive in struggle. Maybe that's your lesson. It's what Selenoren teaches us..." He paused briefly to leave the nook, walking over to where Varooth stood as he finished, "Endurance."

Varooth squinted at him. "You sound like a priest."

"I'm about to go catch up with a monk," Bren answered, grinning as he folded his arms. "But I can accompany you until we reach my corridor."

Varooth shook his head. "No need. I shouldn't be seen as too biased towards the Jedi... And I wouldn't keep you from visiting your friend any longer than I have already."

Bren simply nodded in response, before giving him a small parting bow. "Then go with care, Edar. May the Force be with you."

The councillor returned the gesture. "Oen'maiulen, ay'Vyshtal Akket."

Bren gave him a smile, then stood a moment, frowning into the niche they had just left, as if wrapped in some troubling thought. Then, with another shallow bow, he turned and walked in the other direction, footsteps echoing down the decorated hall. Varooth watched him until he saw him stop to speak to another robed figure further in, then turned back to the icon.

War and violence turned to endurance. Vysh may not exist--at least, in Varooth's mind, he did not--but the principle at least was sound. When confronted with the threat of chaos, force order from it. Or, in Varooth's case, duel the king... in the name of justice. He closed his eyes with a sigh, then strode towards the entrance of the temple. Just one more fight, then life could go back to normal. One more fight, and if the Force did flow behind him, then there would be someone else carrying his burdens for him, and Exephos and the unrest he had sowed would be nothing but memories...
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #16 on: 09/24/17, 09:49:59 PM »
(( This is badly written, badly edited, and I think at least a month over-due at this point. This takes place many weeks ago, after a trip to Voss a few of us made to recover a dark artifact... There are a few more story updates before I'm all caught up to the present timeline.

Anyway. Zabrak being evolved from some species of space-cat is the hill I will die on. Very probably this headcanon will conflict with other people's. Oh well. Spiky space cat adopts a spiky space cat. ))

Bren sat in the grasslands of Voss, a tall tree arching over him, seemingly endless as its branches reached skyward. Strange, to be back here. Strange and not unwelcome. While the planet rebuilt from its bombardment, the wilds remained untouched. With his eyes closed, he could picture the landscape, feel it in his spirit--as his spirit in turn connected to the Force within the world around him.

Jheva was resting, most of the small party of Jedi scattered to recover from the ordeal in the Voss spirit realm--whether that was to actually rest, to return to their duties elsewhere, or to contemplate what had happened there. She deserved it. Jheva's gift of seership was, it seemed, beginning to become as much of a danger to her as the darkness that worried her heart. Spirit possession was becoming concerningly common in their missions together. She was learning control of her abilities, but... He could not help his mind drifting to her request, to him, only a few hours earlier: To find a way to channel what couldn't be healed into something more Jedi.

It was a request he felt this landscape knew. The wilderness of Voss was many things: beautiful, quiet, dangerous, and now, it was cleansed. The heaviness he remembered in the air, the aura of darkness, no longer lay deceptively beneath the surface of the deep roots and wide grasslands. Even with all its recent pain, in the ancient tree he rested against, he sensed the slow beginning of healing. The tree grew with its roots in darkness, and yet, it reached towards light. Yet, Jheva was not a tree. Studying how Voss healed would not also shelter her mind from the intrusion of spirits.

No, it was the other aspect of Voss's wilderness that would do that... The strange, feral, sense of an almost-familiar landscape. Predator and prey. Forested mountains. The tall grass and the deep canyons. Horned animals and a seeming eternally twilit sky. If Voss were more arid, the seas more dangerous, it would not be too dissimilar from Iridonia. It might even pass for the ancient Iridonia in a time before--

Before what? Before they gained their second moon, and the planet became tidally locked? Before herds of bukk and lok deforested the landscape? Before the seas grew toxic, or the wilds industrialized? Or any other fact of science that Bren knew lay behind Iridonia's landscape?

Or before Vysh and Amina warred, and their warring tore apart the world? Before the smaller moon joined its sibling in the sky, and they hunted together? Before Am'Gull, with a heart full of bitterness and darkness, retreated to the depths of the ocean, and poisoned the world of her children out of spite?

There were no such things as gods. The Force did not need middle-men. The dead do not keep themselves when they join with it. And yet... He and Jheva kept meeting gods and spirits whose presences could not be denied. When he took his Trials, Bren defended his dual faith within Jedi orthodoxy. He cited precedent for Force apparitions, the visionary experiences within Temples, the existence of Force entities, the clarity of his own mind. But then, he simply had his belief, his faith, his theory. What he and Jheva encountered were more than that. They were very, very real, and could be very, very dangerous.

So why was he not afraid? Perhaps it was because he knew that what they faced was not unknowable.

The Voss spirits, the Zabrak gods... these things were 'below the surface'--as Vashti had once called her meditations she taught him--but they were still of the Force. And in the Force, there was knowledge; in the Force, there was harmony. There was also danger, but he had not passed his Trials without learning to distinguish between the 'river', as these Voss were fond of calling it, and its darker undertow. Patterns emerged. Sense was made.

And things did not happen in the Force for no reason.

Bren sighed and got up, brushing leaves and grass from his robes, staring at his hands a moment. On Voss, he thought he felt a little of what Jheva did, every day... It was strange, here, to look at his fingers and not see claws. To smell blood on the wind and not run towards it. Those things were part of him, just as they were part of every Zabrak, just as the pain rooted in Jheva's deepest fears and instincts were part of every Pureblood. But what made the Zabrak good hunters also made them great scientists, explorers, artists, and protectors. The same impulse that told them to move forward and fight hard also told them to look up and press outward. That dichotomy lay at the heart of the Zabraki gods. If he could learn more, maybe it could help them both--teacher and student--to make peace with their instincts.

A sound stopped him as he began to walk, and he paused, listening for it. Something, out in the grass, cried quietly… pained, distressed. He stopped, then closed his eyes to seek with the Force, scent what was on the wind, and changed directions to walk into the field.

Bren returned to the ruins of Voss-Ka, and the half-rebuilt architecture that served to house the Voss and their Jedi guests, with his scarf bundled in his arms, wrapped tightly around something that mewled softly.

The city was far departed from how he remembered it, either as a young Padawan, accompanying his Master on ‘xenological’ trips to learn from and translate between the Voss and the Republic in the early days, or as a young Knight conducting his first expeditions on his own. The market stalls draped in their colorful scarves mostly stood empty, if they stood at all. The graceful bridges, star-etched spires, and geometric, insectoid spires, lay in rubble for the most part--save for a few untouched buildings which soared above the suddenly shallow skyline. And the Voss… The Voss, remarkably, reassuringly, remained unchanged. Their quiet faith, their guarded yet warm hospitality, their trust that they were on the path intended by the Force--not that the Voss would ever call it that--stood despite the ravages of Zakuul. Bren just wished more of his old friends had survived the bombing… too much like Tira’Noth, that loss, too much like Coruscant before it. He found his heart ached beside the city’s people, despite their continual endurance.

As he approached where their shuttles and starships rested, he spotted Iirim leaning against the wall of a small teahouse that had escaped the worse of the bombing. He gave the Miraluka a bright smile as he walked a little faster to reach him.

“Thought you’d be with Niarra,” Bren observed, folding his scarf more tightly around the bundle. He leaned against the wall as well, looking over at Iirim. “You should be resting.”

Iirim returned the smile faintly, shaking his head. He folded his arms and sighed. “She’s asleep. The ritual took much out of her. I’m… thinking.” He paused, then turned his head towards Bren and his new burden. “What is in your scarf? Not an artifact. Something alive?”

The Zabrak smiled softly, then unwrapped a corner of the cloth, revealing a small nexu kit, which shifted to bury itself deeper into the cloth as air touched its skin. Iirim’s lips parted, slightly, in surprise, turning to let a hand rest over the small animal.

“... It’s hurt?” he asked.

“Mm. Mother abandoned it. Probably gave it those wounds, too. Runt of the litter, looks like. She was nowhere in sight. Scent nowhere to be found, either.”

The air between them shifted, a warm, buzzing sense gathering around Iirim’s fingers. He smiled faintly as he began to heal, the Force coaxing rent fur and broken skin to mend on the small creature. It shifted in Bren’s arms and hissed weakly at the other Jedi’s hand.

Bren gave him a wry smile. “I was going to ask if you’d heal it, but…”

“--of course I will.” Iirim frowned. “What happens to the kit once I do?”

“Talked to one of the ‘alien relations’ people I know here. Said she’d pull some strings to allow us to take the native wildlife offworld. Voss don’t have the resources to take care of wounded nexu kits.” He winced. “They also… have particular ideas about predestination, and the usual feelings you’d expect of someone wanting to nurse one of the natural predators here back to health.”

Iirim hummed quietly, focusing on the tiny nexu. Bren closed his eyes, focusing on the animal to project calm, comfort, make the Miraluka’s job easier. As he did, he listened… in the Force, with his ears… tried to sense with his mind what had been so clear on the other side of the visionary Voss ritual. But there was barely anything of the golden glow that permeated the spirit realm, just the familiar whispers of life-forms drifting, starlike, through the city streets; the man beside him, his familiar presence nearby as natural as his connection to the Force; the delicate, impatient creature in his arms, twisting as it fluctuated between uncertainty and irritance at the large creatures around it and something more like comfortable calm.

Bren’s calm was broken by a soft laugh from Iirim, and he opened his eyes to look at him, blinking as he asked, “What?”

“You and the nexu…” Iirim smiles and motioned between them. “You can’t hear yourself?”

Bren stared at him in bewilderment, then shook his head. In his arms, the nexu had begun to purr, softly, pressed up against his chest with its head tucked into a fold of the scarf. Slowly, very slowly, Bren realized he was too… though it would be barely perceptible, perhaps, if you were not a Zabrak. Or right next to him. Or very used to his habits.

He cleared his throat awkwardly. “Er… I’m just--” He held the kit closer, frowning. “--just... calming it down… with the Force.”

Iirim gave him a bright grin, then chuckled and pressed his forehead against the shoulderplate of Bren’s armored robe, shaking his head. Quietly, he said, “It’s good. I am glad you are happy again.”

Bren blinked at him, then sighed, relaxing. Smiling softly, he stepped back, but left a hand on Iirim’s shoulder. “It’s not if I’m happy. It’s more--” He trailed off, searching for the words. “--being at peace with… something.”

Iirim nodded. “...natel sharee meni fej spash i’jhere?”1 he offered, a corner of his mouth turning upwards.

Bren gave him a wry smile in return, then kicked off the wall, folding the bundle and its small inhabitant into a corner of his elbow. “Maybe. Dyne iaer2, Iirim. You need it as much as I do, I’d imagine.”

“I think the teahouse is calling me,” Iirim replied, pointing over his shoulder. Bren nodded and made to move away, but before he did, he was paused by a touch on his arm. “Bren? Before you go… We need to talk…” Iirim motioned to his mask. “About what we both saw in there. I will not keep you too long from taking care of this little one, but--”

“--but what?” Bren finished, returning the look with concern.

“The Voss spirit realm. You. Your crystal.” Iirim moved his hand, letting it rest over Bren’s chest. “You are one. The way you feel, in the Force. It’s how… you look.” He paused. “Whatever it means, I don’t know. Maybe that I was... wrong, to question, argue with you, worry about your path.”

Bren nodded, looking down a moment. A smile flickered onto his face as he looked up again. “It isn't wrong to worry. If anything, tonight proved I should be careful, regardless of... my path. I have some idea what it might mean. Proving it--" He grunted softly. "--that’s something different. I suppose we will find out, though, tze?” He gave Iirim a small, hopeful smile.

The Miraluka nodded, albeit, his smile did not reach the warmth of Bren’s. “I suppose we will find out.” He paused, then sighed. “We will talk later?”

“Mm. Once we’ve all gotten some rest. Yes. I'll come find you, get some tea... Sounds nice.”

“Good.” Iirim frowned, then nodded, sharply. “Iaer’oen3, Bren.” He turned towards the teahouse, tossing a teasing smile after him. “You will need it with that one mewling at you…”

Bren shook his head, waiting for Iirim to vanish into the building before turning back. In his scarf, the nexu kit shifted, spines twitching as it slept in the nook of his arm. Adjusting his hold on the makeshift bed, he continued his route to the ships.

Sleep was unlikely, he thought. He had a lot of research and meditation to do before the night was out--for his, Jheva's, and this little kit's sakes alike.

1: "... with being Zabrak (species)?"
2: "Get sleep."
3: "Sleep well."
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #17 on: 09/25/17, 07:24:47 PM »
(( Back in the present day! Ostensibly this is Part I of II, Part II being the holocomm, but I ran out of steam for it... And that is what RP is for. Paging @Seraphie for the small detail about Ange getting a thank-you gift, and of course @Niarra and @Dassalya for being the best clanmates. I have no idea if I'm going to write Part II, so enjoy Part I and Urziya being confused about feelings.

This has since been reposted to this thread. ))

The banquet of spiced and even-more-spiced foods leftover from the feast were packed into crates, and a fancy bottle of tihaar was left outside of Ange's office with a scrawled note of thanks in Urziya's hand. Veshkgalaar had enough food and drink now to last them a few weeks, even if the aruetii had not appreciated the food. Made up for their clan being the only true Mando'ade at the festival, Urziya reasoned... more leftovers, and it'd make Erran happy. Credits well spent, and less risk for the clan as they prepared to move to a new home.

Adeliey and Erran had both vanished by the time she returned to the balcony. They were also nowhere in sight when walking back to the camp. It didn't take much to put two and two together, especially after Adeliey asking her permission to make a pass at him. They had left together. Part of that made her feel content--Adeliey was happy, Erran would be wound a bit less tight, the clan would be closer to one another--but another part of it... felt confusing and upsetting in a way she couldn't quite place.

She marched up the ramp to her ship in a state of determination, shutting it behind her once inside. It wasn't that she was jealous, not of either of them anyway. Her clanmates were happy... She cared about her clanmates... She wanted them to be happy. Of all Veshkgalaar Aliit, she cared about Adeliey and Erran the most; if they were content, so was she, at least in theory. In fact... In fact it hurt, even if she wanted it not to. Why?

She sighed as she flopped down into the pilot's chair, not bothering to lose her armor just yet. She had been on her feet most of the evening, telling stories, wandering between tables, keeping herself cheerful and kind even when the evening's theme lent itself to grimness.  It was exhausting--but somehow having to think about this was even moreso.

Everything about telling Adeliey 'yes' made perfect sense. There was no reason to get in the way of her clanmate's happiness. She didn't know how she felt about Erran, exactly, not enough to get possessive of him. And Erran had told her to learn what was in her heart. He had meant about her fear of cowardice... but she felt like it applied here too. She had to know what was in her heart, and saying 'yes' meant time to do that. Time to think. Time to figure it out.

So figure it out, she thought, looking up at the transparisteel viewport.

She could just see the stars through the red fog of Nar Shaddaa. Stars like the old kings. Stars like windows to manda. Stars like the untraceable, aching hurt that was people who were gone and lights just out of reach. Erran 'thought the world' of Urziya, Adeliey said. 'Looked at her like she was stars.' And that... that was confusing enough as it is. That hurt enough as it was. It didn't hurt quite as much as catching only glimpses of an Erran that was open and honest, who laughed and swore and talked about his mind.

Maybe that was her wishing he was more like her, and maybe that wasn't fair to Erran. Or maybe it was like Hark had said, a while back, when she asked him about the Sith he'd left the Jedi for... that you know you love someone when you want to know what they're thinking, want to be part of their own inner world. She knew she cared about Erran, but was it enough? Did it match what he saw, the quiet affirmation that she was 'born to be alor'? What did that even mean?! It gave her headaches trying to imagine.

"Tion'jor cuyir ibic bid umaan, buir1?" she mumbled, slumping down in her seat with her boots on the dash, frowning at the stars. She was a good fighter. She cared about her clan. That did not make her alor material. For the almost innumerable time tonight, she felt an ache as she wished her mother were here.

What would she say, anyway? How would Kalada Veshkgalaar advise her daughter? She would say she admired Eshok. That his strength shone out among others, even if it was only apparent to her. That her daughter would know when she was in love. That was Kalada's way. Understated, unless she was fighting. Her mother came alive in a pilot's chair; stayed quietly fierce on the hunt; and adopted Mandalorian grimness, Veshkgalaar ceremoniality, outside of it. It was only because she had flown with her mother so often that she had learned to tackle life with the enthusiasm she did. Why was Erran somehow the exception to that? Normally, Urziya knew exactly what she thought and what she felt... and she had no reservations about moving forward.

She did know that when Erran did not shout from the rooftops that he was a genius, she wanted to punch something. Perhaps it was her unofficial role as clan storyteller, perhaps it was because she cared too much, but if Erran saw her as destined to be a chieftain... He hovered in her mind somewhere between legendary smith and discoverer of fire. This quiet, unassuming quartermaster who reverse-engineered basilisk droids in his spare time and seemed to work magic to her poor understanding of computers. He was indispensible, and the fact that he didn't brag about it, didn't see that it made him special, mystified her. That wasn't something Erran cared about. But it was something she did. So it had to mean something, something about how she felt... right?

And then there was Adeliey. And Adeliey made things about a thousand times more confusing. Erran, she had known since she was small. For as long as Urziya remembered, there had been Erran, tinkering with his machines, building computers, weathering all her questions about how things worked and what he was doing. Adeliey was new. She had only been with the clan for a matter of months, and yet... And yet she knew she would move mountains for either of them. Urziya had more or less sworn to Adeliey earlier tonight that she would remember Adeliey's family as if they were her own--that the dead of Adeliey were the dead of her clan, too. Her house. Her family. And that didn't make sense, if it was only honor. It didn't make sense that this woman who had found her way back to clan and Veshkgalaar's karyai was already so important to her... as much as Erran was.

And she was alor'ad. And two people couldn't be more important than all the clan. Even if they were. Even if the thought of them leaving together made her feel horribly, illogically alone.

And that was it, wasn't it? The hurt. It was not jealousy. It was not sadness. Wasn't even anxiety that Erran would look at her differently, though the undercurrent was there. It was that she missed them both.

Somehow, that was worse.

Adeliey's world--the one where people just loved, without attachments or expectations--that was entirely foreign to her, even with the years spent on Nar Shaddaa. Love was marriage and family and children and clan... it was simple. Erran and Adeliey made things not simple. But what were either of them, if not her family? The only family she had left, except for Terrnock and the rest of the clan? She was spinning her wheels trying to explain why they were different, justify why these two were more important than everyone else, trying not to accept the simplest answer.

'People aren't simple,' Erran said. Maybe he was right.

Urziya made a pained, whining sound at nothing, slumping deeper into her seat, then closed her eyes to think. Her parents were gone. Her aunts and uncles were gone. Terr's only love was his clan and his wartable. Adeliey knew how to comprehend feelings, but Adeliey was... part of this. Hark's grasp on Mandalorian culture was lacking, at best. Who did she know who--

Her eyes drifted to the small crewman's room off the main hallway, still bare and now empty, where Iirim had spent the previous few years with his minimal backpack and his malfunctioning, endearing junkpile of a droid. Iirim would know, she thought. Iirim of all people would understand this... He was family too, even if it was different for him, different from clan; even if he could not follow through on what he understood, with him and Bren, now that he was Jedi again. He would know what to do with the feelings that made no sense.

She dropped her feet from the dashboard and reached for the holotransmitter.

1: "Why is this so difficult, mother?"
« Last Edit: 02/15/18, 08:49:38 AM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #18 on: 10/25/17, 12:21:33 PM »
(( One of these days, we're going to go to Iridonia, and all my careful worldbuilding will be blown to pieces. Until that day... have some Zabrak spies. @SivWysan for your character mention. ))

A quiet morning on Iridonia, and Tira’Noth was beginning to stir to wakefulness. Seirion was starting to get ready for his patrol shift when Captain Pel appeared outside his quarters.

“You are wanted by the Be’Edar,” she said, curtly. “Forget your morning duties and come armed.”

“What--” Seirion got only a word out before she vanished again. He stared at the door, then turned back to his dresser. Growling under his breath, he grabbed his blasters, secured them on his belt, and left in the direction of Clan Noth’s council chambers. As he did, he ran over possibilities for why he of all people, was being called there. His mind could not help but spring to the clan’s previous chieftain and wonder, ‘What’s Varooth done now?’

The council chambers were empty when he arrived, save for the Be’Edar--an old woman with deep-carved jato--and a soldier he didn't recognize, her armor gold-plated with red synthcloth beneath it. That he recognized. He snapped to attention, giving a small bow to both the clan elder and the armored woman.

“Be’Edar. Commander. I am at your service.”

The armored woman chuckled, looking over to the elder. “He is eager…”

The Be’Edar clucked her tongue and turned her attention to him. “At rest, Seirion. “ She waved a hand to the soldier beside her. “This is Commander Triz Malid. She has requested your presence, and asked me for my support in what she is about to say. I would have you listen carefully.”

Seirion frowned, faintly. Malid… Clan Malid? Of the capital? He turned his eyes to Triz and nodded. “I’m listening…”

Triz returned his nod, clasping her hands behind her back. “Your acting chieftain has granted my request to transfer you into the service of Clan Malid--“

Without thinking, he interrupted. “What?” He turned to the elder, blinking at her. “Be’Edar!”

The old woman held up her hand. “Listen to what she says, before you argue.”

Triz nodded, respectfully, to the old woman, before launching into her speech--speaking quickly so he could not interrupt further. “Matters have come up in the capital. The Kal’Edar has requested that we gather to us warriors who have distinguished themselves in ways which will aid the situation. Your service to Clan Malid will be temporary; however, it must be done officially. I understand that it is rare to pull servicemen outside their duties to their clans, but it is needed.” She paused, then, seeing Seirion’s uncertain look, ended, “You will be returned to the service of your clan when your service to Clan Malid has ended.”

“And when will that be?” Seirion asked, half in a mumble.

“When the matter is ended, and the Kal’Edar no longer needs your skills.”

He looked between the two, then laughed hesitantly. “... My skills? What skills? Tell her, Be’Edar, I’m loyal, but I’m not some great warrior.”

The Be’Edar considered him with narrowed eyes. “I have discussed at length with Commander Zif the nature of this assignment. We both concur that your experience makes you the best candidate. Do you forget the years you spent working for my grandson?”

Seirion hesitated, then shook his head. “No… I don’t forget.”

“Nor the period you spend liasing between us and the Jedi?” She paused, then turned to the red-armored woman. “Take him with you. As I said before, he has the skills you require.” She turned back to Seirion. “And Seirion--good travels. We will be eager to have you back. Do your job well.”

He frowned, furrowing his brow, but gave the Be’Edar a small bow, nonetheless. “... Vi, i’shuree Be’Edar.”1

The elder nodded, satisfied, and stood to leave. “Good! I leave my clansman in your hands, Commander. Return him in one piece when you return, if you’d please.”

Triz gave the woman a small bow as she left, then signalled to Seirion and strode towards the exit. Seirion, bewildered, followed after her to her waiting ship.

There were three of them. Seirion, a lithe woman with the pale skin of the dark half of the planet who wouldn’t stop twirling her blasters, and a bulky man who Seirion swore had Mando’a tattooed on his neck where his jato ended. They spent most of the ride in silence--the woman making constant eyerolls and huffs of boredom, the man attempting and failing to strike up conversation with Seirion, who kept eyeing the Mandalorian writing behind his jaw. Triz herself was mute as to the nature of their assignment or their destination, though the gleaming arcs and spires of Malidris rising out of the desert revealed the second easily enough.

The small shuttle sped through city spires towards the glittering facade of Clan Malid’s stronghold… then breezed past it to wind through alleys behind it. As they got further from the bright side of the city--poised at the point where Iridonia’s eternal dusk became Iridonia’s eternal night--the shadows grew longer, and lamps and the odd illuminated window became their only source of light, growing sparser as they reached the dark compound of their destination.

Mando’a chuckled as they landed in a gloomy overhang. “... This looks like the sort of place people disappear in. Hope you all have your blasters ready.”

Seirion gave him a baleful look, then stood up. “You didn’t get the speech? Or the… lack of one? I don’t think this is the kind of mission that gets floodlights and news holos.”

Blasters just huffed and rolled her eyes again, holstering her weapons (finally) and went to the shuttle door. She was the first one out, followed by Mando’a, followed by Seirion who still wasn’t sure he wanted to take his eyes off the large Zabrak. Triz met them outside, then motioned for them to follow her. Silently still, the four marched into the compound, through glassy hallways and arched gothic metalwork, dark, twisting like trees above their heads, occasionally bearing the odd globe of light. Seirion’s eyes flicked across these, taking in every detail of their environment.

Mando’a whistled. “This place looks like it could take a beating and survive.”

“... Looks like it was built right after the Great Clan Wars. Maybe during them.” Seirion pointed to the blackwork. “That sort of thing was built a lot during the time of the first Kal’Edar. So yeah. It probably was built to take a beating. Just… nukes and slugs. Not blasters.”

Mando’a gave him an odd look.

Seirion shrugged. “I’m an engineer. I had to take an architecture class.”

“You’re an engineer?”

“Yeah… What’re you?” Seirion asked, but wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer.

Mando’a jabbed a thumb into his chest and grinned. “I’m the best kriffing soldier in the Mid Rim. Led my clan blowing up skytroopers and Imps, I did! Could’ve been a captain, ‘cept I took too many hits to the head.”

“... Oh…”

“Yeah… Commander said I’d get a discharge if I took another one.”

Seirion contemplated that quietly. That sounded very… disposable. He put his hands on his blaster hilts and watched Triz’s back with a frown as they walked.

Blasters made a dismissive noise and jogged to pass them. “You’re both idiots. This place is just another Ru’Malid stronghold. It’s connected to the shiny one, with a quiet-like skybridge hidden in the alleys. Couple of ‘em. All closed up.”

“How do you know that?” Seirion asked, staring at her. It was the first words she had even spoken since they loaded into the shuttle.

Blasters shrugged. “Saw bits and pieces. Made a map in my head.”

Seirion and Mando’a both just stared. Triz shot them a look as she stopped by a door, and the the three lapsed into silence as she went through a series of security checks at it. She motioned for them to do the same. Each in turn stepped up to the door, to be scanned and processed. When all three came up green, the door opened, and Triz led them inside. Blasters was the first one in, again, followed by the two men.

The door closed behind them. Triz led the way down a short hallway, then into a… surprisingly pleasing, if sparse, resting room. Low couches, dim lights, and a simple table were clustered together, blank screens lining the walls. Triz eyed the group, then turned on her heel.

“Wait here,” she said, before marching through a side door. It closed and clicked with a sense of finality behind her.

“... How long?” Mando’a asked, staring at the door. He looked at the screens, then shrugged and found a place to sit, positioning his chair in a defensible position in the corner. Blasters just sat on the edge of the table. Seirion navigated around the couches to stand near them, but decided to stay standing. He glanced over at the other man.

“So, uh…” Seirion began awkwardly, then pointed to his neck. “Is that Mand--”

His question was interrupted by a chime, and Triz’s voice coming over the room’s comms systems: “Noth Seirion. Head down the hall to your left. The rest of you, sit tight.”

The door slid open. Seirion started walking towards it. As he did, he heard Mando’a call out “Good luck!” and chuckle in a discomforting way. Seirion let out a long breath as the door closed behind him again, then began walking down the hall. After several twists and turns, he found the only door that would actually open. He walked through this and held his breath.

The room behind the door opened up into what looked like a spacious office. Tall windows across from the door were decorated in the same elegant metalwork as the pillars walking into the building, though little could be seen out of them other than the red shades of the desert disappearing into darkness and the points of the stars in the sky above it. At the center of the room, a desk covered in flimsis and datapads sat, behind which was a very tall, robed Zabrak, long hair left loose, but bound in two very traditional segments over his shoulders.

Seirion stood at attention, across from the desk, watching the man and waiting for… something. Anything. He watched the man sort through flimsis, then pause, look up at him, and motion for him to come closer.

“You do not need to stand at attention,” the man said, articulating carefully in accented Basic words, at once comfortable with them and decidedly Iridonian in their pronunciation. “You are, at the moment, my guest. And I suspect you will wish to sit down when you hear my words.”

Seirion nodded, and sat down, though he remained stiff as he did so, waiting for an order. He took a closer look at the stranger’s face as he did. His jato were Clan Malid, like Triz’s, but more intricate. Orange eyes. Possibly in his 40’s. There was something familiar about him Seirion could not quite place. He began to go through faces he had seen during his training, trying to match it up with a commander or teacher.

“... You have an interesting record,” the stranger began, looking up at him with a faint smile.

“What?” Seirion looked at him, eyes wide, startled out of his thoughts.

“Your service record. Your personal history. They tell an interesting story.”

This man didn’t move like a military commander, Seirion thought. He seemed more like a priest, or one of the tolnitchalen--an arbiter of law perhaps. He frowned at him and shook his head.

“I don’t know what’s very interesting about me, um, sir.” Seirion guessed at the title. Good enough. “Simple jhere2, not much to talk about.”

The stranger smiled more, his eyes crinkling. He nodded and turned to a datapad on his desk. “Indeed not? We shall see… Seirion Noth. You spent your mandatory service as a military engineer, mechanic, servicing shuttles and starships.” He pressed a button to scroll the text. “Shortly after leaving the Zabrak Army, you found yourself in the employment of your clan’s government, serving the chieftain.”

“Varooth Noth, yes,” Seirion affirmed, watching curiously.

“A curious leap, from fixing starships to shuttling political missives.” The other man looked up and watched him appraisingly. “Why did you make it?”

“I…” Seirion trailed off. “I felt he was a man worth serving, good for our clan. And I didn’t want to be just a mechanic for my whole life.”

“Because of your time as a soldier?”

Seirion shook his head. “Because… I… never really wanted to be a mechanic.”

“And politics?”

“Not on my scanners either. But Varooth seemed like a good option, if I was going to pick a job.”

The man nodded. “Hm.” He scrolled through the text again. “Your life becomes quiet after that. You were a liaison for your chieftain for a time, between the Jedi and other parties of interesting to him, then left the service of your chieftain to work for a Jedi Enclave--” He paused, looked up at him with a small nod. “--as an engineer. Would it be incorrect to assume your motive for that choice was your brother, Aybekk, a Jedi himself?”

Seirion shifted uncomfortably. None of that was… private, per se, but it was hardly common knowledge to strangers, either. He frowned and shook his head. “That would be… correct.”

“You could have served both, your chieftain and the Jedi, in your position as liaison. Why did you not?”

Seirion shrugged. “It… seemed the right thing to do.”

The stranger gave him an odd, vaguely amused smile. He nodded, as if to some private thought, then asked, “Not on your chieftain’s orders, then? To join the fight against Zakuul, as he had you doing previously? A continuation of your service, or, perhaps, an escape from it?”

Seirion froze. He blinked at the man. “How do you know--”

“--that Varooth was engaged in activities against the Eternal Empire? You have been summoned to Malidris by a commander of Clan Malid on secret business. You believe I do not know the details of those who were summoned, or of the chieftains who sit in council only a few buildings towards the light of Kenivar?”

“I--” The wheels turned in Seirion’s head. The familiarity of the man’s face began to turn into a suspicion. He started to age him down in his mind, trying to strip away years to imagine a younger version of the stranger. “I’m not sure sure how this… That was meant to be secret.”

“You were his go-between to a group of freedom fighters. How I know this will become clear in a moment. I simply wish to ascertain your motivations in leaving that work.”

Seirion blinked, then nodded very slowly. “... I didn’t leave it. The Jedi were fighting Zakuul. So were a bunch of others. Might not’ve been for Varooth, but it all served the same goal.” He paused, then said softly, “And it was the right thing to do. And my brother needed me.”

“Your brother is a Jedi,” the stranger observed, watching him closely. “They are quite capable on their own.”

“My brother needed me,” Seirion repeated, frowning deeply. “What’s the rest?”

The man watched him, blinking quietly, then nodded and looked at the datapad again. “While you were engaged with the fight against Zakuul, you became engaged with an entity known as the Wraiths. Again, I believe, through your brother… or is he not the Padawan of a Master Wysan?”

Seirion watched him warily. “... He was. What does this have to do with Aybekk?”

The stranger shook his head. “Not with your brother. With your work, your history. The Wraiths are, as I understand it, known for their covert operations, their work for the Republic in more secretive and surgical ways. Though they have been more difficult to place of late…”

Seirion sat silently, staring at the man, trying still to place him. How would he know any of that? The Wraiths were meant to be secretive… that meant they had secrets. How many of them did this man know? And how--?

He stopped, his mouth falling open. “You’re the Kal’Edar,” he said, quickly. “You’re Ayrak Malid.”

The man--Ayrak--smiled again, setting the datapad down and folding his hands over it. “I am, yes.”

“Kabno!3” Seirion sat forward in his chair, eyes wide. “What do you need me for?”

Ayrak watched him a moment, carefully, then picked up the datapad again. “Did Commander Triz not tell you?”

Seirion, still wide-eyed, shook his head. “Something about… the Kal’Edar needing--I mean, I guess that’s you--needing people for a mission, and… Is Iridonia in danger?”

Ayrak did not answer. His eyes focused on Seirion a moment, worldlessly, then turned back to the datapad. “... Your work with the Wraiths. You did not remain with them. Instead, you returned to your service to Varooth Noth. You remained with him for the duration of his… call to arms in the High Council, against Colonel Exephos of the Republic military. You assisted Varooth during the smoothing over of those conflicts.”

Seirion gave a faint smile. “... You mean the one he had to duel you over?”

Ayrak’s eyes flicked back to him. “Your chieftain elected a Protector.”

“I know. I was there.” Seirion paused. “Is that why you’re talking to me now? He say something about me?”

Ayrak smiled. “It was when you came to my attention. I made a point to learn what I could about your chieftain and his staff. You will, I hope, forgive the intrusion into your life.”

Seirion shook his head, resisting the urge to tap the edge of the seat anxiously. He had expected today would be a boring day of watching the wall, not an unexpected audience with the damn planetary head giving him a summary of his life. “It’s, um… it’s okay. I would sort of assume you would anyway.” He winced. “Not that-- I’m sure you are a very respectful and… honorable person, Kal’Edar. You know what I mean. Or maybe you don’t.” He paused. He was rambling. “This mission must be pretty important, eh? So what is it?”

Ayrak waved a hand. “Patience, vyshtal, we will get there.” He turned off the datapad and set it down, looking at Seirion again. “I am curious about your re-entry into the Zabrak Army. You could have remained with Varooth, gone with him to Coruscant. Why do stay here?”

Seirion paused, then sat back in the chair again, breathing out slowly. “I… don’t know what to say that isn’t a cliche. I wanted to serve my clan. You know they were bombed recently?”

Ayrak nodded, watching him intently.

Seirion sighed and continued, “I thought if… they had more soldiers--more people who could fly, or, another engineer, another fighter--they would have made it out more okay. Maybe we wouldn’t have lost the stronghold. People wouldn’t have lost their homes or their possessions. I could be that person.”

“And one man, out of all your clansmen, will tip that balance?” Ayrak asked, his eyes narrowing thoughtfully as he considered him.

“No…” Seirion trailed off, then looked at him apologetically. “But one might. So why not try?” He looked at Ayrak searchingly, as if wondering if the king had an answer in mind.

“Because you could fail,” Ayrak answered, nodding to him. “Because you could die, fail to protect your clan. Another Zakuul. Another Mandalorian Crusade. Another Sith invasion. One where the Republic’s forces are stretched thin, and we have only our own soldiers to fight them. Why continue to try then?”

Seirion frowned, knitting his brow angrily. He met Ayrak’s eyes, the traces of anxiety vanishing as he did. “... Because someone has to. Whether we die, fail, we still try. Jedi have a saying, smallest act of kindness can fill a galaxy with hope. Even the smallest thing can make it right, for even just a few people. If you don’t fight… those things you mention, they conquer us, whether we are being cautious with our lives or not.”

“You believe that,” Ayrak observed, almost a question.

“I know that,” Seirion shot back. “I would die for that. I’ve put myself in danger more than enough times to.”

Ayrak’s thoughtful look broke into a smile, gradually. He nodded, closing his eyes. “Good. Amina watches your soul carefully. There are few who can truly claim that.”

“Oh… Thank… you?” Seirion paused. He prayed to Amina often. Did the Kal’Edar really pick out his favored god from just talking to him? He must be easier to read than he thought.

Ayrak opened his eyes again and considered him again. “I would still know why you left the service of your chieftain twice. It seems a pattern, to me. I would know what is there that prompts you leave it more than once.”

Back to the meat of the discussion. Seirion nodded slowly and thought that over, a frown forming. He had no desire to speak ill of Varooth, but… “Truthfully?” he asked. “I would not put any… shadow on Varooth’s reputation.”

“I will not hold it against him,” Ayrak answered, with a hint of a wry tone.

Seirion nodded curtly, then continued, “I know how politics works on this planet. You say one thing, argue in the public sphere… send your agents quietly to do… questionable things. It’s how Varooth was able to send me fight Zakuul, while he was publically as meek as anyone else under the Eternal empire. Why he had no fear when he was threatened with assassins. Why--” He paused, cutting himself off, then sighed. “I didn’t want end up that person.”

“Why not?” Ayrak asked again, quietly. He seemed to be watching Seirion appraisingly, if understandingly.

“I didn’t think it was honorable.” Seirion gave the Kal’Edar a small shrug. “We talk about honor all the time on this planet, but it’s perfectly acceptable to do underhanded things, provided they’re done… decisively. A show of strength.”

“To give blood for one’s ideals. To give blood for one’s mistakes. To not run from challenge or battle. To protect one’s clan. Are these things Varooth does not embody?”

Seirion shook his head. “No, they… are.”

“You would rather he do these things himself?”

“He does do them himself. Usually.” Seirion frowned. “Sending another person doesn’t seem… right, though. But a smart chieftain doesn’t risk himself and throw his clan into chaos.”

“Where, then, comes the issue?” Ayrak asked.

Seirion shrugged again. “I think I would rather do things… above-board. Everything open. Everything black and white.”

Ayrak smiled sadly, shifting in his seat. “Ahh, the galaxy is not so simple, Seirion Noth.” He paused. “What if I were to ask you to return to your old work, under Varooth?”

Seirion blinked. “You’re… the Kal’Edar, I guess I’d think about it.” He frowned. “But I still have years left in the Zabrak Army. I thought I was being reassigned to your clan.”

“You are,” Ayrak confirmed, nodding his head. Then, after a pause, he shook it slightly, looking at a point above Seirion’s head. “And you are not. Publically, you are being assigned as a soldier of Clan Noth to protect your former chieftain, a member of his delegation. In truth--” The Kal’Edar looked back down to meet Seirion’s eyes. “--you remain a retainer of Clan Malid, and you report to me.”

It took Seirion a moment to process this. “... You want me to spy on Varooth?”

Ayrak shook his head. “No. I wish you to protect him, and to keep me appraised of events surrounding him, that he might be better protected.”

“Sounds a lot like spying to me,” Seirion said, but sighed. He squinted suspiciously at Ayrak. “Something is threatening Iridonia, isn’t it? Something that might get a Senator of Iridonia killed or in trouble?”

Ayrak watched him steadily. “I cannot tell you any more than what I have, not without your answer. You will have to guess. You may return to your clan, to your service in Clan Noth’s branch of the Zabrak Army, as if we did not speak. Or you may accept your assignment and learn what it entails. That is your choice. But it is a closing window… and it may end in things which go against those ideals of Amina you hold dear to your heart. I will not disguise that point.”

Seirion frowned, looking down as he thought. This was exactly why he stopped working for Varooth. Sooner or later, patriotic Republic idealism was going to give way to Iridonian might-makes-right, and Seirion did not want to be the agent for that. On the other hand… His mind drifted to the oath he took, when he joined the planetary defense force, when he rejoined it:

‘Coila be’shuo
Coila edarin
Coila edalin
Coila Iridonia
Et i’shuree ay’keyn
Et res’aytelen i’res’edaren,
I’shuree forret i’beshuo.

For my clan
For elders
For ancestors
For Iridonia
To my honor,
To the ears of the elders,
Of the Kal’Edar,
My blood of my clan...’

“... Yema i’shuree vyshtoja. Yema i’shuree forret,” Seirion recited, softly, finishing the oath. I give my weapon. I give my bleeding. Even if, as Ayrak said, it would go against his personal sense of honor, there was a sense of rightness to what the Kal’Edar asked… no matter how it set him ill at ease, it also felt as if it clicked into place.

Ayrak gave him a knowing look, then let out a slow breath. “You have your answer, then?”

Seirion looked up at him, hesitated a moment, then nodded with a determined look. “Yeah. I have my answer. I can’t leave this knowing that there’s some danger lurking around the corner. I’ll do it. Not like I haven’t worked for him before.”

Ayrak nodded, then stood. “Good. Come with me.”

The Kal’Edar stood and led the way across the office to a small computer terminal. He motioned for Seirion to look into the scanner, stepping back to observe. Seirion gave him an uncertain look, but looked anyway.

“More security?” he asked, before a blinding flash and a sharp pain interrupted his thought. He blinked quickly, jerking up and rubbing his eye. “Ow! What--?”

“To identify you,” Ayrak explained, “And to grant you greater access to this facility.”


“You will also want this.” Ayrak held out a slim datacard. “It carries with it information you will need. I recommend disposing of it thoroughly once you’ve committed it to your memory.” He moved back over to the desk. “Commander Triz will handle your official transfers and give you any further orders. If she has done her job well, only your Be’Edar knows that you even came here. Publically, your new assignment comes from her.” He settled back into his seat, looking up at Seirion. “Please keep it that way.”

Seirion nodded, frowning. “Why the cloak and dagger?”

“Pieces are moving which are delicate and well-informed. You are now a member of a branch of the Zabrak Army which does not, officially, exist. You are of many clans, but you all serve the purpose of Iridonia.”

“... so, a spy.”

“If you survive, perhaps.” Ayrak regarded him carefully, then smiled. “But as I said, Amina guards your back. I think you will do well.” A pause. “Volks et res’Ru’Serat, Seirion Noth.”4

“Thought the Ru’Serat were a myth…” Seirion said, rubbing his eye still.

“How do you think my ancestors kept the clans together after so many generations of war? Fair speech and the application of the ancestor’s gifts?” He gave Seirion the ghost of a smile. “You understand the gravity of this, yes?”

“Yeah, yeah. I was a political aide. I can keep a secret.” He frowned. “Just not looking forward to what this datacard will say.”

Ayrak chuckled, then tented his hands and gave a small bow from where he was seated at the desk. “Oen’mai’ul, vyshtal. And may Vysh grant you silence in your steps.”

1. Yes, my matriarch.
2. clansman
3. Damn!
4. Welcome to the Ru'Serat, Seirion Noth.
« Last Edit: 10/25/17, 06:03:05 PM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #19 on: 12/19/17, 11:41:27 PM »
(( Tagging @Mei and I don't know what Ben Tammer's username here is, if he has one. This was mostly a transcription of the RP we did earlier today. ))

The tiny cantina on Nar Shaddaa was one of Urziya's favorite stomping grounds, which was why Iirim had suggested it for this meeting between Padawan Ben Tammer and his possible defector. It was small, quiet, and if a fight broke out the entire place would be engaged in a shootout right away... Chaos made for easy escapes.

The possible defector--girl named Keiko'li--seemed harmless enough, though, Iirim thought. She was a slight woman, though that meant very little when one had a blaster. And Bren had voiced a concern that she may have a connection to Imperial Intelligence. But her presence in the Force was bright enough that Iirim had little concern about her intentions.

Still, that was not why Bren had asked Iirim to tag along. No. He'd asked him to watch over Tammer because the young Padawan was, in Bren's words, "sweet on her," and Bren wanted things to go smoothly between them. If Iirim had eyes, he would be rolling them.

He sighed as he sat down at the cantina bar, ordering a drink and tossing his holocom on the counter. Bren's image flickered in tiny form between Iirim and the serving droid.

"You realize this is very ironic," Iirim began, without any opening pleasantries.

He heard a small distorted chuckle from the holocom. "I know. How's he doing?" Bren asked.

"Seems to be doing well... Poor girl is nervous. Whether that's about her Jedi protector or the situation remains to be seen."

Another laugh from Bren. "Well, thank you for doing this."

Iirim smirked as the droid handed him his drink, uncapping it. "You're welcome. Easy to lose one's head when it comes to one's heart... And it's for a good cause. Plus, it's an excuse to return to former haunts."

He sensed the two coming closer, and switched the comm's volume down lower, so that Bren could listen in without their conversation floating over to the 'couple'. He leaned on the bar and began to listen more intently. They were talking about Corellia... and now Alderaan. This Keiko certainly was good at redirecting the conversation from her to Tammer. Iirim turned the input volume up even higher on the communicator.

"... Iirim," Bren's voice crackled very faintly.

"Mm?" Iirim grunted, in the middle of another drink.

"The entire cantina just turned into a horrifying clash of sounds. Are you trying to deafen me?"

Iirim grinned, then mumbled lowly, "Just trying to get you good audio."

He heard the very small sound of Bren's scoff. "Well you're trying a little too well." Then, a quiet laugh. "Don't worry about it, I can get it on my end..."

The conversation next to him was turning to family. Tammer's family, to be specific. Apparently, the Padawan had been born a subject of House Thul, no father, single mother, very tragic... Again, Keiko's questions sounded an awful lot like the way Iirim used to get information out of people here on Nar Shaddaa, when cantinas like this were his office, and information was his business. He chuckled and put a hand over his mouth, humming softly.

"...You know," he said, lowly, the voice muted by his hand, "I figured you were just worried because young Tammer here reminds you of our predicament at his age. But I'm starting to wonder about the other concern."

There was a moment of quiet from Bren, then a soft, "Yes, I can hear it too."

The coversation was continuing next to him. The girl was asking Tammer if he'd ever gone to visit his family. Her awkwardness when bringing up that they were with the Empire, technically with House Thul... Iirim glanced over to get a quick 'look' at her. Genuine. Definitely genuine. If the defection was true, he was starting to feel a little sorry for her.

Iirim heard Tammer's voice: "You want to sit on a couch?"

And Keiko's reply, awkward as before: "Um, sure..."

As the two walked to the other side of the room, Iirim grinned. "Here we go," he said, his voice full of obvious amusement, "Your fears realized."

He heard a very, very small grunt from the holocommunicator. "You realize I can't hear them now, right?"

"I'll fill you in on the details... I can still hear."

Speaking of... He took a breath and focused, trying to hear further than his hearing would ordinarily catch the low conversation of the two now sitting far behind him. He missed the beginning of the conversation, but he did hear the last bit, from Keiko'li:

"... ins and outs of encruption and stuff, so I'm sure he could help find a work around... maybe... but he he's sort of... deployed and stuff."

Iirim frowned. Her father was military? That was something that Tammer had left out. He continued to listen. "You catch that, Bren? Her father's military. Or Intelligence. But my guess is military, since she spoke of deployment."

"Mm." Bren paused for a moment. "That will make it more difficult to get him out, if she's actually hoping to do that."

Iirim hummed in agreement. "That may be an understatement. Do you want me to step in?"

"No, not yet, wait for--"

Bren stopped as Iirim held up a had, motioning for quiet. The Miraluka strained to listen again, as the conversation took another turn. After a moment of this, he said softly, "... she hasn't heard from her father since he reported back to base last."

"That's not good," Bren observed.

"No. It's not." Iirim paused, then stood up, grabbing his ale. "I'm going to move closer."

If Bren replied, he didn't hear it. He tucked the communicator into a pocket and walked over to the shooting range near the bar, picking up one of the rifles. 'Of course there's a shooting range,' he thought instantly, 'Of course Urziya knows a cantina with a shooting range.' It made a good excuse to get closer to hear more clearly. They were talking about her family now, again, something about her cousin being ill. He focused on the names and filed them away: Aunt Mei, Uncle Oath. Those could be searched later. The sadness he sensed around the girl, however... That was also genuine. Didn't mean this wasn't some sort of trick, still, just that she was calling on genuine experience in this moment.

The girl's voice drifted over to him, again: "... Unless you're a miracle healer... They're handling it... or so I'm told."

Well. That was an easy in. Iirim put the blaster down and headed to the table the two were sitting at.

"This seat taken?" he asked, motioning to the couch.

"Uh," Tammer started, looking at him. "No, feel free."

The Miraluka flashed them a smile, even as Keiko eyed him suspiciously. He noted her hand go for her blaster, dimly sillhouetted in his Force vision, and held up a hand.

"Don't worry," he reassured her, nodding to Tammer. "I'm with him."

It didn't seem to mollify her much. She glanced at the young man next to her for confirmation. Tammer just replied, his tone gentle, "Isn't it always complicated."

And there it was... Iirim would have sighed if he were not trying to present a more professional face in this situation. He recognized that tone of voice, the fondness in it, and, grudgingly, had to admit that Bren was right to want a less biased party at this meeting. His thought was interrupted, however, by what Keiko said next.

"There may not be a point of asking the Jedi for help," the woman said. "Seeing as how it was the Jedi that gave their little girl this disease."

Iirim paused. What?

Tammer echoed his sentiment exactly, saying, "What?"

"Jedi are not usually known for their bioweapons," Iirim said carefully. "Not their style."

"It is when it's personal," Keiko said, turning a suspicious look on Iirim. "I'm sorry, but who are you?"

Tammer nodded to the door. "My babysitter that is just about to leave the room... Right?"

Iirim snorted, even as Keiko gave him another anxious once-over. "You wish," he replied. "But yes, I'm the... something. Babysitter isn't the word I would use." Yes it was. But it was not the word that Keiko needed to hear.

She looked unconvinced. "Chaperone?"

Iirim stretched, putting his hands behind his head. The motion lifted his jacket enough so that she could clearly see the lightsaber at his hip. "I prefer bodyguard."

"Then tell Bren to update his vocabulary," Tammer said, staring at the other Jedi.

"He called me that?" Iirim said, grinning. He laughed shoftly, then dropped his arms, putting the jacket back in place. Somehow, he wasn't surprised.

Tammer added, "Whatever you want to call yourself, how about you leave the room for a few minutes, please."

Keiko continued to eye him suspiciously, defensiveness radiating from her posture and tone. "Bodyguard? What, you think I'm going to do something?"

Iirim leaned forward, placing his hands across his knees. "I'm more worried about what your compatriates may wish to do to you, miss."

That got a moment of silence. The defensiveness about her stayed up, like a wall. That and fear. "You don't know anything about me," she said. "And might I remind you that we are on Nar Shadda. You don't hold authority to take me in or whatever."

"Why would I take you in?" Iirim asked, tilting his head faintly.

From beside him, he heard Tammer say, "Iirim, can I talk to you outside for a minute?"

Iirim did not answer right away, leaning forward as he continued, "I think if we give your friend the opportunity, she may run... And I don't want her to run, because believe it or not, we are both here to help."

"Well you're not helping, Iirim," Tammer retorted.

Keiko'li did, in fact, look about to bolt. Still, she stayed still, watching him tensely. "I can make one call," she threatened, "and I'm out of here for good."

The Miraluka took a breath, then held it, briefly, trying to draw calm about himself--in the Force, in his demeanor. He folded his hands on his knees. "You could. But you want to help your father, and you sound pretty... out of your element. You'll need more than one friend."

At that point, Keiko stood up, her fear turning to frustration. "Who told you? Hark? Was it him? Look--" She stopped, sighed, then tapped one of the cybernetics on her head.

It took a moment for Iirim to process what she was doing. When he did, he stiffened, though he doubted either of the two next to him could tell. She was scanning him. Depending on her records, that could end very well, or very...

Her scan completed, she stood there, shaking her head, then frowned at him, her hand going to her blaster. "I-I'm supposed to trust the word of a fallen Jedi?!"

There it was. He made to answer, then stopped, halfway through forming a word. What was he going to say that did not end in her storming out of the room? He took a moment, then sighed. "Oh kriff... I'm not a fallen Jedi. I left the Jedi. Then I came back. I'm a healer now."

He swore he heard faint, electronic laughter from his pocket. He ignored it momentarily, as Keiko tapped her temple, saying, "That's not what it says!"

Tammer, however, was just looking at him, then added, "That explains a lot."

Iirim restrained a groan, giving Tammer a frown. He forced himself to focus on that calm space again, answering quietly, "Maybe because your database isn't hooked up to the Jedi Archive."

"Okay... maybe..." Keiko continued to glare at him, but drew in a steady breath. "How do you know about my father?"

"Keiko'li," Tammer began, "He is part of the Jedi, and I would trust him with my life.

Iirim nodded, then motioned to Tammer. "I know because your boyfriend here mentioned you might need Jedi help. Also because he doesn't know his way around Nar Shaddaa nearly as well as I do."

Keiko's voice quieted, talking not to him, but to Ben. "Forgive me, I have issues with the Jedi." Then, louder, to Iirim, her tone stern, "And he's not my boyfriend."

Iirim felt a brief flicker of something--hurt, he thought--from Tammer, who had gone suddenly quiet. And in the quiet, the voice from Iirim's holocommunicator cut through easily, as Bren's small, synthetically distorted groan reached his ears, along with a distant, "... well this is going well... good job, pelira."

Unfortunately, if Iirim heard it, so did the other two. Keiko moved again, asking, "Who's that?"

Tammer also moved, looking up by the sound of it. "What the-- First you send Iirim with me and now this?!"

Iirim reached into his pocket, and there was an audible beep as Bren's voice cut off, turning the transmitter volume all the way off. He sighed, then laughed. "Relax. No one's in trouble or in danger... Well, potentially your father. But the aim is to make sure that doesn't happen."

He swore Keiko was amused as the transmitter shut off, but it didn't last long. "How?" she asked. "He won't even admit he has this... this whole Force thing."

"Is that the only place in which he is in danger?" Iirim asked. "Does he have any Republic connections, political views which may place him in equal danger?"

It was quiet for a moment, then she asked, "Republic connections? You mean Alara?"

New name. Iirim filed it away. "Enlighten me. Who's Alara?"

Her voice quiet, she answered, "His girlfriend. She's a pilot. Freelance, not with the military. I mean, that's where they met years ago when they were on Taris..." Her voice trailed off.

"You're worried that her connection to him may put him in danger?" Iirim prompted.

She shook her head. "No. I mean... they have their arguments, but... she wouldn't put him in danger or anything."

His turn to shake his head. "I mean, would the Empire consider that connection treasonous, and worth doing something about?"

"I..." She paused for a long moment. Too long. She lapsed back into quiet.

Softly, Iirim began again, "My thought is... Maybe we can get this Alara to convince him to come over with her. For his own safety, and for hers."

"And if he says no?" Tammer asked.

"Oh there's an age old argument..." Keiko mumbled, concern growing around her.

Iirim paused. "I hate to suggest it, but how much would your father hate trickery to convince him it was necessary? And would she go along with it?"

There was quiet from both of them. Finally, Keiko said, "I... I don't know... You would need to speak with her, but understand that my dad is not a fool." There was a whumph of air as she sat back down.

"I don't expect he is," Iirim explained, "But it sounds as if he is also stubborn. It takes a much longer time to convince someone they're Force-sensitive if they're in denial about it than it takes to convince someone their life is in danger if they do not do something about it. But it also makes them unpredictable. So I'd prefer to avoid trickery. Is there any way you and Alara could conspire to convince him to leave?"

"That isn't what we wanted to do," Tammer protested. "We are here to help Keiko'li not make her family fall apart!"

'Really?' Iirim thought. 'Not the story I heard.' He frowned, then turned his attention back to Keiko. She seemed shaken. She was fidgeting with her hands, the slight movements barely perceptible to his vision as he focused. That same fear clung around her, her thoughts clearly racing. She stammered, "I-I..."

He felt Tammer kneel near her, reassuringly. Taking that as a cue to continue, Iirim spoke, "My understanding is that your father's Force-sensitivity puts him in peril, and you want to place him somewhere outside the Empire's grasp. We can help with that... but it's also not a task you can take halfway. It's dangerous, and it takes risk, but it's possible."

Beside her, Tammer added, "I will help you in whatever way you think best."

Mumbling, Keiko replied, "I shouldn't be here." She shook her head. "I-I want him safe... But we've worked so hard, and... I-I should go." She looked around, then stood up, her energy scattered, distracted. "We have a job to do..."

She started for the door, only to be stopped by Tammer calling after her, "Wait!" Footsteps, then a quiet voice, talking to Keiko by the door: "Meet here if you ever want to talk again."

Iirim didn't need to try to 'see' what was happening. He could feel--and hear--the hope in Tammer's voice. He drew in a slow breath, held it a moment, then folded his arms, holding onto his calm, again. He heard more footsteps, then a felt a release of emotion, heard a soft thud as Tammer sat down again.

Oh yes, Iirim was going to either have words with Bren, or get very, very drunk with his fellow Padawan at some Nar Shaddaa club... He stood and walked over to Tammer, bending down to touch his shoulder.

"Hey," he said softly. "Let's get you up and get you home..."
« Last Edit: 12/20/17, 05:24:21 PM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #20 on: 01/15/18, 12:07:07 PM »
(( This story has since been relocated to my new Imperial story thread. Check it out! ))

Somewhere in the Outer Rim...

Athuuna was growing rather fond of Saclas. The trade planet barely pretended at legitimacy, instead taking pride in being a port of free trade--which meant that smuggling, back alley deals, and fences operated in a more or less open light next to "legitimate" business, order forming out of the fertile chaos so endemic to the Outer Rim. He could see why Krallice liked it. The people--the Ocsinin--had a cunning and daring in their exploration that they had in common with her people, albeit, in a much less ruthless fashion. Athuuna was considering masquerading as one for his next cover persona. The Empire had considered a presence here some time ago--hence his familiarity with the planet--but decided it was more useful to their purposes to keep the flow of goods open for more subtle manipulations. Besides, it would mean going through Zygerrian space to get there... and dealing with one was bad enough.

Majia Krallice liked Saclas for a different and altogether simpler reason: It was an excellent place to acquire and rid herself of black market merchandise without oversight from the Empire, the Slaver's Guild, the Hutts, or her father. She moved through the market streets, accompanied a short distance at her 8-o'-clock by a Weequay woman who wore a long blaster rifle and scanned the crowd periodically and her 4-o'clock by a stout Mirialan who seemed more focused on what was in the stalls than who was behind them. As they neared an open-air cafe, she motioned for them to stand watch, then drifted to a booth under a metallic overhang, giving the man on the other side of the table a sharp-toothed smile.

"Lieutenant Athuuna..." she purred. "So good you could make it."

"Morning, Krallice," he said, without looking up. Instead, she saw his eyes flick towards the two women standing at the edge of the cafe. "I don't work for yer father anymore, y'know that. S'the title really necessary?"

"Of course it is," she replied cooly. "After all, my offer still stands. You do not leave the Krallice Armada."

"Says th' woman working independent of it. Yer father know about that?"

"My father supports my endeavors."

Athuuna grinned. "'Course he does. Yer his baby girl. He'd give you a dozen slaves and yer own warship if you asked him. Speakin' of..." He looked pointedly at her companions. "Those yours?"

She did not turn to look, just watched him unblinkingly. She folded her hands on the table and arced a brow. "If you are implying my crew are slaves my father gifted me, the answer is no. The Weequay was one of my father's officers whom I persuaded there were better prospects to be found under a more direct chain of command. And the Mirialan is the best thief in the sector."

Athuuna shrugged, giving her an easy smile as he leaned an arm across the back of his chair. "She's pretty though. Guess the Weequay is too, if that's yer type. You only pick crew who can be eye candy?"

The Zygerrian's ear twitched, narrowing her eyes. "That is irellevant to our business. Unless you've reconsidered my offer."

He grinned and dropped his arm from the chair, settling his hands on the table in a mirror of hers. "I've already got an employer, an' I like them just fine."

"Yes, your mysterious master... Given their taste in relics, I suspect that you are not as free as you pretend you are. Powerful patrons mean powerful consequences should they grow tired of you."

"No offense, Krallice, but I've got my sights a bit higher than yer little smuggling op--"

"--who, with you with us, could become one the most elite retrieval crews in the galaxy--"

"--yer little thieving op, then. Don't get me wrong. You've got a sense of glam and blast-'em-up I love, and the view's not bad either, but yer still small-time. I've got better prospects."

Almost imperceptibly, her smug composure dropped into a frown of, he thought, hurt. Her ears tilted back, and she straightened her shoulders. "To business, then."

"To business," he affirmed, leaning back again. "Ye have what I came for?"

She set a small box on the table, evenly spaced between them, and crossed her arms. "I think you will be satisfied with these."

He nodded, pressing a hand to his temple as his cybernetics scanned the box. He blinked, then raised a brow with a faint smile. "Seems right. There's more in there than I asked for."

"A bonus for a regular customer," she replied, watching him with her arms still folded. "I came across them and felt it suited your tastes."

He gave her a more open smile, then a wry grin as he reached for the box. "Maybe ye just like me. Same price, then?"

"No," she said, reaching out to stop his hand. With her fingers around his wrist, she moved to look into his eyes directly. "I have done you a great many favors, Athuuna. It is time you repaid those in turn."

"Or I could pay you extra," he replied lowly.

"No," she growled again, and this time dug the tips of her claws into his skin. "You owe me. Credits are good, but tit for tat is better. And don't forget..." She smiled at him, her tone growing sweeter. "... I know your secret. I can unleash it any time I like. To your masters or those who would consider you a defect worth removing."

He turned a shade paler, but glared as he removed his hand and set it on top of the box. "Threatenin' someone's not a good way to make friends, Majia."

"Join my crew. Come back to the fold."


He picked up the box and tucked it under his arm, leaving a chip behind which, Majia knew, contained the credits she had asked for. She frowned at it, flicking an ear irritably, as he started to walk away.

"Besides," he said, muted as she was turned away from him. "Yer a princess, not a starship captain, no matter what you call yourself. Like any other lazy slug on the Rim... Want to live in luxury and avarice without doin' the hard work for it. Don't have the spine. Metaphorically, in your case. Live off yer father's wealth and pretend to be a crime lord in yer spare time."

"I do not," she hissed, ears slicking back as she folded her arms again, staring at the cafe wall.

"Oh right, I'm sorry... Pretend to be some rough and tumble adventurer, living off the scum of the Rim and the seat of her flightsuit. Well, yer not either of those, Majia. Yer a spoiled brat tryin' to unspoil herself, and it's not going to happen if you expect everything to just fall into line and obey you. You want that? Join the Slaver's Guild."

"And serve someone else, or the glorious service of Zygerria, while pretending I have my freedom? No thank you."

He sighed, then kept walking. "I'll comm you when I have another item I'm lookin' for. If you get an operation more worthwhile together, then I'll consider it. Stay alive, Krallice."

She waited until his footsteps died away, then stood with an irritated growl and marched to the entrance. Her crewmates fell into line behind her, the thief giving her an open grin.

"Things didn't work out with you and yer boyfriend, captain?"

"Shut up," Krallice growled out. "We're cashing this chip and leaving. We have other jobs elsewhere."

"Yes, ma'am."
« Last Edit: 02/15/18, 08:29:06 AM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #21 on: 01/21/18, 05:34:43 AM »
(( Thanks @Imazi for the RP with Seirion that this takes place after! Gave me lots of great ideas for character development stuff. ))

The glitter and grime of Nar Shaddaa would not have been Seirion's first choice of planet, but choices were not his to make lately. His new position under now-Senator Varooth Noth meant all kinds of changes. One of those was the young Zabrak's new choice of wardrobe, clothes much fancier than he was used to and which made him more nervous than he cared to admit walking around these streets. Another was the issues rattling around his brain most days. Gone were the days of dealing with water supply, tribal disagreements, and disputes of honor among nobles in Clan Noth's colonies. In were the days of Senatorial politics, planetary alliances and laws, and trying to make sure that Varooth did not accidentally start wars with the Duros by bragging too hard about Zabraki superiority. That and pamphlets... So many pamphlets...

At least some good had come of that, he thought. Varooth might be tired and irritated about the "Droid Rights!" crowd insisting that Iridonia--as a technological powerhouse with a long history--should support their movement, but Seirion sort of thought they had a point. Enough to have helped (as far as he knew) one droid today. Varooth didn't need to know. At least... he hoped Varooth wouldn't know. And the conversation had given him time to lay down breadcrumbs for his actual purpose here on Nar Shaddaa.

He just hoped that the right people had been listening. He cast a glance over his shoulder before turning down an alleyway, tapping his headset as he did.

"Sorry about cutting you off before..."

He stopped talking as a click cut through the ambient sound coming through his earpiece. He recognized it instantly as a blaster being raised at his back. In no time at all, another appeared in front of him, along with the flash of goggles in the dark.

"Hello? Gears?" a voice on the other line started to ask. "You say something?"

"... have to call you back," Seirion answered, watching the very large man in front of him and the blaster pointed in his face. He took a step back and bumped into the barrel of the second, behind him. From its height, the other thug was only a little bit smaller than his friend.

"That's right, you call your friend back," Thug Number One said, grinning with sharp teeth as he motioned with the blaster. Thug Number Two, behind, reached over his shoulder and yanked the headset off Seirion's head, tossing it against the alley wall where it fell with a soft clatter to the ground below.

Seirion raised his hands, slowly. "Woah, woah, hold on... What is this, a robbery?" He chanced a glance behind him, getting a look at Thug Number Two from the corner of his eye. Also wearing something covering his face. He looked back at Thug Number One. "Sorry to disappoint you, but the coat and the thing you almost certainly just broke are the only things on me worth anything."

Number One laughed. "Yeah. Sure. A robbery."

Number Two hissed behind his ear, "You work for Senator Noth, right? We got a message for your boss."

Oh good. Fans. Seirion winced, then gave the thugs an innocent smile, waving his raised hands. "Working for is a strong word. Working under, maybe..."

They moved fast. Thankfully, Seirion was ready for them. Thug Number One was squared up to shoot, but a soft machanical whine told him that Thug Number Two got there first. Dropping his raised arms, fast, he grabbed the gunman's arm and pulled it down with a yank--shooting the ground--then bent his arm until he dropped the blaster. Number One got a shot off, then, but Seirion jerked around to watch the bright red bolt sail past dangerously close to his face and off into the darkness of the alley.

Thug Two recovered quickly, jabbing an elbow up into Seirion's gut. When he pitched forward with an audible exhale, the larger man took advantage of the situation to claw at the man's face, tearing a gash down his cheek. Claws. Great. Seirion growled and threw the man off of him as hard as he could, then kicked the blaster back down the alleyway. Number Two wasn't going to get that back if he could help it. He reached for his blaster as Number Two recovered, only to have to roll away from another blaster bolt from Number One.

This was going to get tiresome quickly. He snatched his Tystel off his belt and aimed a shot back--red, like his attacker's bolt. He missed, but the shot took a solid chunk out of the wall, spraying hot shrapnel-like debris over the thugs. Number Two cried out in pain, but Number One blasted away, forcing Seirion to get down on his stomach to avoid it. Dust and drops of metal landed all over the back of his coat with small thuds, protecting him from most of it, but no doubt making a mark on the coat.

Varooth was going to kill him.

The thought flashed briefly into his mind as he got to his feet and fired back, catching Thug Number Two and dropping him, and Thug Number One in the arm. He roared and got off one more shot before Seirion's third bolt caught him in the leg. He dropped with a growling sound and a shout of pain. Seirion ran forward before he could do anything and hit him with the butt of his gun, hard, several times. It didn't seem to do much difference, the man's head was like a rock, but the bumps that hit his hand painfully as he did told him something important.

His attackers were Zabrak.

He had a second to process that before the man's head--and his horns--rammed up painfully into his chest. He gasped and resisted the urge to stumble backwards, but the moment was all Number One needed to recover and move his gun to rest against Seirion's ribcage.

The next moment blurred. Two red blasts lit up the alleyway, and when the light faded, Number One was slumped on the the ground, and Seirion was--somehow--alive. He blinked as he pieced it together after the fact. He had felt his hand move, saw himself press the blaster to the thug's head. But he had been barely conscious of it. Still, he was alive. As it sank in, he began to laugh, then stopped himself, pulling himself together and stepping back.

This was a mess. But it was Nar Shaddaa. People ignored blaster fire. And they would also avoid the alley for a while. He holstered his blaster and took a tenative step towards his attackers, then another, swallowing the awful fluttering feeling in his chest and stooping to get a better look at both of them.

Definitely Zabrak, he confirmed as he took off their masks and goggles. The clan markings he did not recognize, but that was fine. He didn't need to. He turned out their pockets, put the electronics he found into a small pile, then began to go through their clothes quickly. Number One had ID tags around his neck. Seirion unclipped them and read the name on it. Bukk Sai-Kar. Again, not a name he recognized. Was Bukk his personal or clan name? No idea. He snapped two quick holopics of all the tattoos he found on both of them, then pocketed the tags for later and gathered the pile of electronics

 Finding a nearby discarded box, he put them inside and folded it closed, then began to check himself for injuries. Everything hurt, but he had no new holes. He stood, gingerly, and went to retrieve the headset from the wall. He put it back in his ear with a shaky hand.

"... You alive, Gears?"

"Yeah," he breathed. "I'm alive."

"Good. Hate to explain why you were dead to the boss."

"I thought you were supposed to back me up!"

"Hey, you wouldn't be here if you weren't good at fightin'. Speaking of... I think Gears isn't quite right. Need somethin' to show off your new status. How about... Senator. You know. Makes sense."

"Do you have where I'm supposed to go or not?!" He sounded snappish, but what he felt was more panic than anger. Now that the fight was over, it was finally sinking in that it had happened in the first place. He took a deep breath through his nose, then let it out slowly. "We can't all make maps in our heads, you know."

"... Yeah, yeah, you go a short ways. Sendin' you the map now."

He checked his datapad. Blasters was good on her word. He breathed out a sigh and closed his eyes, then started to move. "On my way."

"Don't expect me there. Just drop off what you found and get out."

'If you survive.' That was what the Kal'Edar had said, when he joined the Ru'Serat. He was, apparently, not joking in the slightest. Seirion tried not to look too much like he had been in a fight, straightening his shoulders and buttoning his coat again, but the map Blasters gave him led down poorly trafficked streets anyway. 'Not a spy' his ass.

He ended up at a dimly lit storefront with what looked like a... small-items shipping office? He blinked at it a few times, then went inside. No one was at the counter, just rows of cabinets with locks. He walked down the rows until he found the correct number, and blinked into the lock. A small light flashed, and the cabinet clicked open. He set the electronics and the ID tags inside, then shut it all up again. It beeped and locked with a series of clicks.

"Varooth better appreciate this," he grumbled.

Not that Varooth would, or could, know about what had just happened. Varooth thought he was on Nar Shaddaa to talk to a businessman with interests that impacted some bill about mining rights in Republic space. Telling Varooth that he was luring out--and rooting out--more of the same anti-Republic clansmen the Senator had once tangled with, on behalf of the King of Iridonia, was not going to happen. For one thing, the last thing he needed was for Varooth to get ideas of doing something foolish to do so himself. For another, Seirion had no illusions he could defeat the Kal'Edar or one of his senior officers in a duel, and death by treason sounded unpleasant. He would have to come up with some other excuse for why he ruined his nice coat.

He left the grimy shipping office and followed Blasters' map back to the spaceport, keeping a hand near a blaster the entire way. No more attackers jumped out of the shadows at him, however, and the few people milling about the spaceport barely paid attention to the dusty Zabrak moving back to his ship. He did a cursory check for any traps or mysterious devices on the small ship, before closing the door behind him and sinking into the pilot's seat with a groan.

"... Reminder to self. Never say yes to anything ever again without knowing exactly what you're signing up for."

He laughed faintly, then pulled himself upright and started launch procedures. When the ship was safely out of atmo and in hyperspace, he got out of his seat and tossed the fancy coat and half of the rest of his outfit onto the chair. First aid kit and a hot shower sounded like the best idea in the galaxy right now. He could wash out his hair, patch up the bruises, then get to work on the coat and return to Coruscant as if nothing had happened.

Nothing except a very boring business trip, that is. He hoped Varooth would buy it. He needed to get better at lying.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Noth

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Re: Tales from Clan Noth
« Reply #22 on: 01/30/18, 07:43:56 AM »
(( Tagging @Niarra and @Maryck for some of the RP behind this. And @Kremon even though it will likely be a very long time before you are able to read this! ))

Tira'Noth was quiet, as it usually was. Bren's thoughts, however, were anything but... So, after making sure that Jheva was asleep, Devsta was secure someplace the small nexu could cause no trouble without him, and no one at the enclave needed him at the moment, he headed into the desert to practice dulons and think.

Jheva was resting quietly, but she had been through an ordeal--the latest of too many ordeals--and, despite venting at Maryck earlier that evening, the Zabrak felt anything but at peace with the situation. One ordinary mission to Hoth, gone horribly awry at the discovery of a Sith enclave, and his Padawan had both been forced to walk through fire--again--and almost lost her arm in the process. Worse, the entire ordeal had happened without him there to help her.

'It could be worse,' he chided himself quietly, shifting his feet to the music of the lightsaber's humming drone. Maryck was with her. She had her friend beside her. The arm was whole enough to heal without too much permanent damage. And Jheva's assurances that she had made peace with the mission and the blood on her hands felt genuine.  Still, he worried--and doubted he was going to stop worrying any time soon.

The Force was developing a nasty habit of testing his Padawan and forcing her to learn quickly through violence. He didn't like that.

He slashed through an invisible enemy with the thought, whirling around to defend against another. The simple strokes of Shii-Cho gained a slightly more acrobatic nature with the saberstaff than with their single-bladed counterpart, as an emphasis on footwork, arm strength, and follow-through a necessity for broad and fluid movements. That follow-through was something he appreciated about the form. Shii-Cho was as much about knowing when to pull one's attacks as it was about pressing them in wild, random strokes. What seemed uncertain on the surface was, in fact, a larger pattern, one observed through the Force and acted upon with an empty mind. You could study the form and never reach the depth of its potential... In that respect it was both calming for his broken toughts and something that helped him understand, better, the things Jheva faced.

Sense with the Force. Follow the pattern. Turn chaos into harmony. Become part of the sea.

It was not so dissimilar from either Maryck's reassurances that Jheva's unusual, disconcerting, pattern--where her training moving more like shifting tectonic plates than the steady, careful training he had hoped she would have--was but the chaos of a storm, with peace to follow. It was not so dissimilar, either, from how Jheva had described her fight with the Sith: patterns in the Force, patterns in the thoughts of the people around her, trying to act in accordance with it. But it was not Jheva's form. Where Bren found peace in this--in knowing when to be patient, when to strike, in forms meant to block and disarm as much as to strike with lethal intent--she seemed to find peace in what Taelios had taught her--in finding a place for her anger, for her pain, and putting it aside. A time for violence. And a time for peace.

Perhaps that was why, when the droid patched up her arm, her first request had been to begin training again as soon as she was able to hold a blade. Part of him was not so sure about that--after all, studying violence after coming out the other side of violence seemed almost irresponsible of him to allow--but, then, what was he doing out here in the desert, striking at air, letting his anger fall away with every breath? Different forms. Different reasons. Same exercise. Similar path to understanding the violence sadly inherent to a Jedi's duties.

As the dryness of Iridonia's air began to settle into his lungs, he stopped, holding his form still, balancing in a high guard and letting his arms and legs burn. He stayed like that for several moments, hearing and feeling each breath until his arms started to shake, then let the breath out slowly and deactivated his saber, holding the hilt in front of him--arms straight--as he focused on the crystal inside and the faint, familiar energy within it.

Then there was this business about becoming a Master... What sort of Master kept his scars as reminders of his failures, avoided diplomacy out of shame born out of the prejudices of Iridonia rather than Jedi teachings, or let his student fall into such danger without him? He felt in ways like a far cry from a Jedi Master.

No. That was the wrong thought. That was blame. Blame was unbefitting of a Jedi. He took a breath and began the thought over again.

Niarra, understanding as always, had counselled him that no Jedi--even a Jedi Master--was free of folly and doubts. Most others reminded him that he was already, functionally, serving as a Master... teaching learners, interfacing between three different Jedi organizations, and managing the day-to-day of the Custodum in the absence of enough Masters to tend to it. And, as Knight Turlim had said, Bren had walked through his own trial by fire and come out wiser for it. The day was, perhaps, long coming, and would change his title more than his duties. Still...

'Discard perfectionism.' It was something Riodach had taught him, knowing Bren's tendencies over the course of his Padawanhood. 'Nature is not perfect. The will of the Force is not perfect. It must only - as all things in this galaxy must do - be good enough to survive, to grow, to pass on what it is.' That was more of his old Master's eccentricities--a tendency to preach science as much as philosophy or Jedi teaching--but there was an echo of it in one other piece of advice the Masters of the impromptu 'Council meeting' on Custodum grounds had left him with: It was one duty of a Jedi Master to pass on what he had learned. And maybe it was ego, and not caution, that prompted him to resist the idea.

He sighed and dropped his hands, placing the saber back on his belt. There were a few hours to go before the enclave would begin to wake up. He could spend those few hours sleeping, or... His eyes drifted out to the desert, to the dry mountains and hazy scrubland in the distance.

Or he could run, and let his worries fall behind him with every step.

Staying still was in his nature, meditating in quiet and allowing his mind to drift beyond a body still amid motion. It was how he survived Exephos. But that survival had brought him too close to death for comfort... and too comfortable with his own death to feel entirely at ease with. Since then, he had only returned to half his usual training regimen, abandoning physical pursuits for meditation, study, teaching, and healing. Perhaps it was time he begin to do so again. It would give him more time to think, and it would be one step closer to reversing his... perceived failings.

He cast another glance back to buildings against the cliff wall, then turned and began to jog away from them, turning his comms onto standby mode. Just in case. He registered quietly that he was retracing familiar, but not typical, steps than the route he usually took. The sparse, tough trees of the mountain landscape and the switchbacks he had run since he was a teenager fell away to the side as he climbed into rocky terrain with few signs of Jedi or Zabraki presence in them. His breath grew easier as he went, settling into steady footfalls and taking in his surroundings. Tempting as it was to keep a hand by his lightsaber, he resisted the urge, focused instead on what was around him. He could see dim points of stars clearly out here, cutting through the dim twilight of the sky without the glare of city lights to interfere with them.

Funny. He hadn't noticed that the last time he came this way. Then again, he had not been focused on the sky. He took a deep breath and kept going, spurred onwards before he could second-guess the path he was taking. He slowed as a cave opening appeared in front of him, half-hidden in the mountain crags. He cast a wary look around the area, looking for any danger, before walking slowly towards it.

'This is foolish,' he thought, stepping inside the cave mouth. His eyes lingered on one wall for a moment, then scanned the dark as his eyes adjusted to the lighting inside. 'What do you think you're going to learn from this?'

He ignited one end of his saber and flinched as the yellow light flooded the cavern. Too familiar. Too fast. He scanned the narrow cave--a perfect ambush point--and cast his eyes across the floor, searching for the scorch marks he knew were there. There. Odd square burns in the stone, two starburst blast marks beside it. He paused to take several breaths, breathing the air. It didn't smell like blast residue, or burning flesh, or sharp metal. It smelled like stone... stone and the faint scent of the brush outside floating in with the wind. He let his breath out, slowly, forcing his heart rate to slow, and continued inside.

'Jheva is going to kill you,' his thoughts continued. 'Or at least lecture you. Or be angry you did this without her.' As if this had been anything but a spontaneous decision...

He continued deeper into the cave, eyes sweeping the crags and formations that his saber illuminated. These were unfamiliar. But they would be. He had never gotten this far in while conscious. He rounded a corner and stopped, eyes peering into the suddenly open darkness beyond the light of his saber blade. A hint of something dull and steely reached his nose. Faint as it was, he knew the scent of old blood for what it was.

"This is stupid," he whispered out loud. "Stupid, stupid..."

He began to back out of the cave, turning his back to the darkness deeper in. Back in the 'foyer', he deactivated his saber and sat on the ground, crossing his legs and facing the darkness again. He breathed in the more pleasant scent of stone and sap and stared into the shadows that fell strongly without the light of his saber to brighten them, almost as if he was... waiting.

For what? For the ghost of Exephos to return from the dead? For soldiers who had long since cut their loyal ties to their former leader? For Vysh himself to stalk with blood-red skin and deep-carved jato and mock him for his lack of strength?

He brushed a hand against his scars, rubbing his cheek with its rough, un-inked skin, running a thumb over the raised, tear-path shaped scars that went down either side of his nose. So what, if the idle thought came true, and an apparition came to laugh at his 'failures'? He knew it was his own blood that he smelled, further into the cavern. He also knew that he had survived that cavern. His scars had healed. That his jato were still broken and replaced by newer skin was his choice. Disowned by clan, decried by his blood family for his 'weakness', the transition from Iridonian to Jedi begun when he was a toddler and solidified when he received his clan markings and then returned by his own will to the Jedi was complete. At least, that was the theory...

'Full of ghosts.' That was what the local Zabrak called places like this--places with strong histories, or strong in the Force, or both--and for this particular place, it rang more true than not. Exephos was dead. His old life was gone. And he was contemplating shedding the title of Knight for the indeterminate future.

The locals also called the Jedi 'Ghost-Wise', speakers for the dead, interpreters of the Force or the ancestors with no clear distinction between the two. That fit his place here as much as the first idiom had. First the wisdom of his old Master, so clearly remembered across the years, and now the spectre of the man who had dragged Bren into this cave what felt like ages ago, were guiding his thoughts. The question, of course, was what to do with them.

Letting out a soft sigh, he stood again, deciding on his options. He could go further into the cave, see the place he remembered so vividly and painfully, smell the remnants of pain long since past... or he could return outside, to the hills and open sky with its stars.

He moved to the exit first--then turned, abruptly, and made his way further into the cave, letting his eyes guide him, now, rather than the light of his saber. He moved, rather than thought, trusting his natural low-light vision, the slight metallic scent in the air, and the feeling of the stone walls brushing his robes guide his steps inside. One he felt the walls drop away from his sides, he knew he was in the main cavern. He took a few, cautious steps inside and stood there, listening. Wind seemed to echo in here like a hiss, something he didn't remember. In all other respects, however, the cave was still. He ignited one side of his saber again.

Golden light spilled across stone, illuminating nooks and crannies in a medium-sized cave. A hook in the cave roof suggested the green light that had once swung there--so vivid, still, in his memory, and strange to see the cave without--while the decayed blood he smelled so clearly could not be seen against the typical red stone of Iridonia's mountains. The rest of the cave was surprisingly sparse, with few, if any, indications that people had ever been here. He took a few steps forward, casting his eyes to the floor, and moved past the metal hook, standing a few feet from the far wall.

This was where the camera had been. He looked at the dirt, searched for scuff marks where the thing had stood, but found nothing. Turning around, he took a few steps backward, staring at the far wall. That he recognized from the recording that had so captured the HoloNet's interest during his recovery. He let his eyes fall to the center of the room a moment before drawing a breath and making a circuit. There, the place Exephos had stood; there, where the machine to pump him full of stims had sat--maybe why he couldn't remember the sound of the wind--or the spot where the soldiers had folded his robes neatly, cleanly. It struck him now how odd that was, how darkly ironic, to keep his clothes perfectly pristine while they tortured him. What was the point of that? Reaching the wall where Jheva had been kept prisoner, he paused a moment, studying it in the light of his saber.

This had been the first act of violence in her training. She looked at Exephos, looked at the hurt and terror he caused, and called him broken glass... saw the pieces. And now she saw those broken pieces everywhere, in others, in the galaxy, in the Force. Even in himself. Especially in himself, perhaps. But she also saw the patterns. Broken as the pieces were, Jheva somehow also found the ways to heal them by saying what was true. And despite his own wounds, somehow, in the golden light, none of this looked as terrible or dark as he remembered. Still, as he continued his circle, the old hurt and pain resurfaced with every step.

He paused as he closed the circuit, looking around the cave once more, then stepped into the center, stood beneath the hook and its memory of the green light. The place where he had been, when this all started. He looked up, took a breath, and brought his saber to bear, igniting the other end into a full staff.

"Two," he whispered. He placed one foot forward and making a diagonal slash, top right to lower left.

"Three." He repeated the motion, this time from left to right, keeping his feet planted.

"Four." One foot shifted back, at the same time as a horizontal slash, slow, careful.

"Five." The bottom half of the saber came up, an arc of gold swinging from his left foot to the air across from his right shoulder.

"Six." A pivot, left foot back, right foot forward, a diagonal slash upwards from right to left.

"One." He stood on one foot, briefly, turning the saber to slash down overhead, bringing his foot down hard on the soil--dry blood, dirt, and all.

He stood there, breathing quietly, then straightened his shoulders and began again, his Basic faltering as Zabraki began to replace it. With each arc of his saber, he felt the heaviness in the air lift. The green light faded into a gold that danced across the natural walls of the cavern, rock and light blending together. The shadows danced to a saber's hum. The darkness began to grow lighter.

"Su. Three. Four. Five. Six. Ku..."

He landed hard with the last lunge, each successive repetition become stronger, more certain. He closed his eyes, remembering how it had been. Opened them, seeing how it was. Shadows became imagined phrik pikes. Imagined phrik pikes became shadows again. He continued the velocity until the light from the blades became one continuous spiral of gold. The shadows in the cavern wavered more furiously, as well, until the rocks themselves seemed to move and brightness filled more nooks than the shadows could keep up with. They were alive, and with them, he felt something in himself wake as well.

There was Light in this place. It was buried beneath a mountain of memory, pain which resonated very strongly in his chest, in his head, but so deeply engaged in the shadow-fencing, he could put that aside and feel what was really in the cave. He could sense the solidity of the stone around him, smell the rare, clear hint of water somewhere deeper within it. He was far from any Force nexus or living thing, but the physical mountain didn't care about that. Whatever dark thing happened in this hollow was so small compared to the time that came before it, the time that would come after it, the generations of creatures who had found shelter and cool water in this cave...

He stopped abruptly, held still for a moment, saber held in front of him in an almost ceremonial gesture of pause. He listened to the wind, strained for the sound of the water he knew was there with no success, then slowly lowered his blade. Then, steadily, he shut off one end, held the hilt sideways beneath his chin, and gave the darkness a small bow.

"I know you didn't believe in this," he said softly. "That we live on in the Force. I know you would've hated it." He paused for a long moment, stumbling over words in his head. He remembered something about... a wife... and the soldiers sent to their deaths. He finished, "But I hope you found peace in it anyway. I hope they're all there with you."

The shadows danced in reply, as he straightened and swept the blade back into a more torch-like position again. He stood quietly for a moment, watching the cave, taking in its details, then sighed and turned to walk out of it again. The scent of water, stone, and blood faded away, and greenery and dry dust replaced them. As he emerged into fresh air again, he picked up his comm unit, hailing the enclave's frequency.

"Tira'Noth, this is Knight Akket. I'm heading down to the valley. I... might need a pickup."

As the morning watch confirmed his request over the comms, he nodded, then began to jog down to the valley and its sparse trees where he knew he could find a drinkable spring. This was not the smartest decision, in retrospect. No water, and more tiring work--and thoughts--than he had planned on. Still... It was long overdue. As was repairing the broken lines of his jato. And maybe, when things had calmed down--when Custodum had a Council once again, and Jheva was healed, he would come out here again, and continue to put the shadows to rest.
« Last Edit: 01/30/18, 08:06:06 AM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)