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Messages - Auryn

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16
Will definitely be Impside, @Ash ! :)

Alrighty, well I think that puts us at around-abouts 8-9 people, availability pending. The more the merrier of course, I have no experience to scale difficulty by smaller groups.

One extra thing I just wanted to note is that there will be newbies there, myself included (I've done one Op about 3-4 years ago) so keep in mind we'll probably be taking it slow, and patience for us filthy casuals is apprecied ;D

17
I wasn't aware F2P can't do Ops, that kind of sucks :/

Would any of you plan on bringing a healer, or are we still lacking in that regard?  :rush:

18
No idea yet, so keen to work around whatever schedules people have :) I do contract work from home atm so I'm easy.

19
Flashpoints and Operations / LFG Impside Dread Masters Ops!
« on: 03/06/18, 02:13:33 AM »
HAI GAIS. So myself and @Jaydek are looking to do the Dread Masters Ops on Oricon, for a number of reasons. First being, there's some decorations we'd like that are super rare that we wanna see if they'll drop, second because I have never actually 'completed' Oricon before because I have done either of the Ops; though also because, why not?

So far we have myself as a DPS, and Jay can use her Sin to tank. Who would like to join us? :D  :darkside:

20
Media Gallery / Re: Auryn of Worlds
« on: 03/04/18, 07:44:41 PM »
Think I might use this thread for my image manip stuff in general and not just planets... title still suits :D

Want to show a before and after look at what went into the image I used in 'A Corrupted Prize', and a bit of my process :)

Why? Partly for anyone who is curious, partly because process is exciting, and also partly for those who say it's 'amazing and magic I could never do that' - because you can, it's easy and just takes a bit of practice, and some good tools. If anyone shows any interest, would happily put together some Screenshot Fancy-Uppering tutorials.

Screenshot:


Final Image:



Project:



Cleanup!
The first thing I always do is clean up any rogue elements in the image. This includes things like clipping hair or clothing or fingers, and smoothing out the edges of the character's mesh. Sometimes it's a quick job, sometimes I'll agonize over it for hours, but the Clone Stamp tool and the Smudge Tool is always my friend.

I did do an overall cleanup, but; problem areas, in this case, were mainly the thumb clipping through the holo-projection unit and them pointy elbows. Arms are usually the worst perps, followed closely by hair:

 

Aaand done:




Physical Presence in a Scene:

This is the smallest but most important aspect to really add more dimension.

Your character is influenced by about three 'layers' of lighting in the game - dynamic lighting, which is usually only present in cut scenes; global illumination, which is the lighting scheme you are affected by depending on location (Rishi vs. Nar Shaddaa); and your 'personal' light, which follows you around as you run about in game so you never have too much trouble being able to see your character, and which also casts your shadow while you go running about in the world (it changes depending on the area, but its sole purpose is to light you up, baby!).
This is the cheapest way to run lighting in an engine and seems to be the extent of SWTOR's capabilities - if every element of your environment was to have a different lighting effect on your character, your computer would crash before you could say 'Nox!'

However this can make characters stick out from a background as though they are an artificial element, floating above the influence of the world. It isn't too bad in an MMO, where you kinda want your character to pop off the screen a bit, but it can make your character look strangely 'not-present' in a screenshot. For instance, as you'll note from the original screenie above, Feyda's body is not interacting with the hologram at all, which should be casting light on him. Again - fine for the game, but really makes the image look flat.

The quickest way to add more depth is a simple reflective glow in the eyes. Watch here how much the eyes pop and add mood and presence to the scene just after adding some reaction:

-->

I did add some glow on his body after too, but honestly if I'd been lazy or pressed for time I could have left it like this and it would have been fine. He instantly feels more present in the scene, holding that hologram, and it even sharpens the emotion on his face.

After that, I in no particular (or great) order:
- Added Belsavis to the hologram itself. Did this with a screenshot of the Belsavis planetary display deco, and added some layer effects to mimic the holo-look as you can see in the 'Belsavis_Overlay' layer.
- Added some photo filters to give the impression of night. Be careful with this in PS as things will look lighter in the program prior to exporting and compressing a file. Originally my image was too dark, and will still look too dark on some monitors - in the end I went with the preview of it I saw on my housemate's Retina display.
- Added a border. A simple 1px thick black line helps an image pop from the webpage.

Things I wanted to do but didn't:
- Added body tattoos to Feyda. He has them, and I didn't draw them in, 'cuz I got lazy busy.
- Be super massively picky about perfectly blocking in the glow. Could have been better, but post-filter you barely notice the mistakes unless you're looking for them, or me.


And that's about it! If you've bothered to read this, thanks for taking an interest in my workflow :) I don't pretend to be any kind of expert, but I love sharing process as I love being able to see the process of others, as well.

21
Events and Occasions / Re: The Irmenuan Masquerade Gala
« on: 03/04/18, 06:02:31 PM »
Hey kids! This one's coming up in just under a week now, woo-wee!

Sign up if you haven't yet, though it's not compulsory I like to be able to see the numbers ;D

Please expect both a vague 'program' of the event and a couple other things in the coming week leading up to the event :)

Also looking for a Republic-side attendee to be able to hand out invites! If you think this could be you, PM me~  :halo: :lightside:

22
Cantina / Re: Gratitude
« on: 03/03/18, 08:37:28 AM »
Thank you @Mei for... everything. Inspiration, decos, help with my SH, being a general lovely person, and for giving the clearest instructions (with IMAGES!) for the setting up of the decos. Seriously. Step by step image-instructions. You are every creator' dream client. :lightside: I have so much inspiration now.

23
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: A Corrupted Prize
« on: 02/28/18, 08:55:14 AM »
Disclaimer: The Hazaly mentioned in this post is not the same Hazaly you are already familiar with. They are related, in a way, but... spoilers!







Old world. Towering ceilings. Dust trickles down into her hair.

Rustling robes, anxious heart. She’s in danger. The Force tugs at him through her, his other half.

Call out to her. Mouth doesn’t work. The cube, the burning old cube, sticks to his hand with heat.

Red eyes.

Old world. Pockets of life encased in barren snow. Too cold. Too hot. Too humid. Too dry.

“Feyda!” She reaches out towards him, fear in her eyes. Burning.

Old world. World of tombs. Old world of old tombs.

The dark-cloaked one stands over her body. The universe dies with her - a new one takes its place and the red eyes watch.

New body. Old tomb.




Feyda awoke from the dream as he always did; gasping, tears in his eyes.

He ran a hand through his dark hair, slowly catching his breath, nervously glanced around the darkened room… it didn’t look like he’d woken anyone up. Pippa was snoring. Garne and Tiry were still in their beds from what he could tell, and Jekk wasn’t here. Probably with the ship, or still out on the Promenade. He pressed his eyes closed, flopping back. ‘That dream again’ was too Jedi for his liking, too much a vision more than a dream, and subtly clearer every time.

He hadn’t slept through a night since the last time the team had come back to ‘home base’ on Shaddaa; home base being a repurposed basement laundromat with a ‘party room’ and ‘sleeping room’ bordered with large, cushy beds they’d stolen from some Alderaanian noble after hawking all the . They were a far-cry from the firm, thin mattresses of the temple back on Alderaan, it almost felt like sinking in puffy quicksand. ‘Luxurious’, Garne called them, teasing the half-Mirialan for not knowing how good he had it, and ‘how the kriff are you more comfy on the floor’? Not that it had anything to do with the beds.

Quietly, Feyda slipped from the room into the ‘fresher, trying to keep his focus on what imagery he could drag up before it shifted away into that shadowy moment between sleep and awake. A snowy planet… Alderaan? No, it had been a deeper snow, with glaceral walls. Hoth? No, not enough snow for that, there had been the heat of humidity and draping, twisting jungles encircling old, squat structures like flat-topped pyramids… that made no sense, though. Humid jungles and snowy glaciers? He flung water over his face and frowned up into the mirror. Where are you, Hazaly…?

Movement in the doorway caught his attention at the corner of the mirror. “Still can’t do these beds, huh?”

Feyda forced an easy grin, turning towards the Twi’lek. “Somethin’ like that. Did I wake ya?”

“No,” Tiry smiled sleepily, shaking her head, “you never do when you’re up and about at night. Quiet as a mouse.”

“Well that’s why Jekk keeps me ‘round, innit?” He joked, “that an’ I can fit in them tiny crates the Exchange likes te use fer movin’ their spice.” She wasn’t buying it. He could tell by the tip of her head to the side, brushing one pale-green lekku forward over her shoulder, and the way she gnawed on her bottom lip that she both knew was adorable and drew attention to said lips.

“You had that dream again, didn’t you?” She ventured forward. “You call out in your sleep when y’do. Sounds like a girl’s name.”

“Maybe. Why?” Feyda’s grin softened as she sleepily hugged him, wrapping her arms around his middle and rubbing her face into his chest, “ye jealous?”

“Maybe a lil’ bit.”

“Well, don’ be. It’s not like that.” He hesitated a moment, deep blue eyes shifting to the side and peeling away from her. “Hazaly’s me sister.” He looked over Tiry’s shoulder, making sure they’d roused no one else before going on in a quieter voice, “we were close growin’ up, so… sometimes I can still feel her through the Force.”

“Not close enough to ever mention before now that you had a sister.” Tiry’s brows rose, unimpressed. She watched some of the warmth leave his eyes, replaced with a touch of bitterness. He shifted out of her grip and moved towards the door.

Were close, I said. She became a Jedi. I didn’.”

There it was. That ol’ chip on his shoulder he had never spoken of, other than his very short ‘I flunked out of Jedi School’ story; and even then only Tiry knew he’d even ever been in training. Feyda hated having his attention drawn to it almost as much as he hated the feeling that something terrible was going to happen to his sister, something the Force was trying to warn him about.

What could he do? How could he help her? She was the star pupil, the successful Padawan. He was the reject that no Knight had wanted, who fled the Republic rather than stand for the shame of the Service Corp. Feyda went for the table at the centre of the room and rummaged around quietly as he could, checking if there was still a bottle not empty. What did the bloody Force think he could do for Hazaly, that she couldn’t do for herself? Even before their parents had dropped them onto Alderaan, he’d always needed her more than she did him.

“Salty, much?” Tiry’s words floated as a loud whisper through his mess of emotions, while flopping herself down on the bed ahead of him, hands clasped beneath her chin.

“Jedi don’ ‘ave family,” Feyda muttered, joining her after a moment holding a bottle of whiskey that was perhaps a fifth full, “an’ she’s a very good Jedi. Where do ye think that left our relationship?”

Tiry offered him a side-long look. “Non-existent, but you still dreamed about her.”

Feyda paused with the mouth of the bottle at his lips. Gaze locked on the ceiling. He and his sister were twins, both Force-sensitive. Which meant the ‘special connections’ holodrama trope and sometimes a complete lack of privacy. He hated to think what her dreams of him were like; despondent, lacking in drive or purpose; following his group of rascal friends on their smuggling and hauling trips, living off the next thrill and the next bottle of Corellian Gold. He wondered if she looked down on him, or felt sorry for him, or wondered where he’d run off to… or if she was such a good Jedi that she rarely thought of him at all. He felt his eyes sting a little at that thought and, pushing it quickly away, chugged from the bottle before he spoke again.

“She’s in danger. Or gonna be in danger. I can feel it.”

“Ooooh,” giggling, the girl rolled over onto her back and wriggled her fingers in the air, “I can feel it he says. So mysterious, such Jedi--!” She squealed as Feyda whacked her with his pillow.

“Quit it, I mean it! You don’ get it,” He floundered for a better excuse, caught halfway between frustration and the grin he couldn’t keep at bay as he watched her mischievous eyes sparkle at him from behind the now-claimed pillow.

“So you gonna go save her?” Tiry asked then, wiping that smile clean from his tattooed face.

“Dunno,”

Dunno?? I’m sorry, ‘she’s in danger, we used to be close, you don’t get it’ but dunno?”

He sucked in his bottom lip. “I don’ know where she is. The visioned aren’t… clear, babe. S’weird. I see…”

Feyda closed his eyes, trying to draw up the dregs of images from where they lay, in that dreamy place between sleep and awake. Tried to remember the cold of the glaciers in stark contrast to the warm, humid air and the old, crumbling walls… “It might’ve even been two different planets I saw, or two continents of the same planet. I’d have te look it up on the holo, maybe in the mornin’...”

“I been with Jekk the longest. Almost everywhere, we’ve gone.” She idly traced the black lineart stamped across his right cheek with the tip of her fingernail. “Anywhere worth going at least. Tell me what the place looked like.”

“Well… it’s weird. I saw big ice shelves, real tall-like, with massive grooves carved in ‘em. So you’d think a cold place, right, but then the walls give way te this tropical jungle.” He smoothed a hand over his brow, as though picking up the memory of perspiration beaded across his greenish skin. “So humid it was bloody oppressive. But then it got cooler, underground… not like caves, but,” he drew a box shape in the air, “big passageways. Old too, real old.”

“Like… tombs?” Tiry ventured.

“Maybe,” That caught his attention, “why? You know it?”

“Sounds like Belsavis,” she hummed, sitting up slowly, “Jekk an’ me used to go there with the old crowd, back when he was more into relic hunting and place was still ripe for the pickin’. Now he doesn’t like to, more danger than what’s worth for what little’s left there… Feyda?”

He was already up, heading towards his projector, discarded at their shared workdesk, brushing aside datapads, gamblings chips and pieces of droid and causing enough of a ruckass for Garne to start swearing at him from the beds. Belsavis. Belsavis. The name thrummed in his mind already. It couldn’t be a coincidence that had been Tiry’s first guesstimate. He’d never been to the planet before… a prison world, from the ancient times of the Rakata, repurposed by the Republic and the Empire, often visited by Jedi and Sith for its ancient knowledge…

… the projector flickered to life, and the white-green planet rotated gently before him, and he knew.

Now he really had no excuse not to go find her.

24
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Until We Go Down
« on: 02/26/18, 12:30:13 AM »
@Ryshias






Some Time Ago




“TAKE IT OFF!” he raged, corrupted eyes seething with anger at the blank-masked helm, “face me while you try to destroy me and my home, coward!”

The gathering wall of water was high enough now to cast a shadow over Northgalis’ lower levels, and rain from its outskirts was starting to pelt the platform they danced about on.

It was a threat. Just a threat. He wouldn’t. The bastard was just letting off steam - they both were. They’d end in a stalemate, or more likely with the echani against the floor with a sabre to his neck, being told how weak he was, which seemed to be the favourite topic of the month. Then they’d both ease off, grumble at each other. Maybe to kriff it out later. Then talk about what in the living Hell had been done with his poor brother - sent off for training, and locked up in some torture dungeon instead.

What by Force is up with you lately, Rysh? His eyes narrowed at the featureless black helm Darth Haar wore.

“Why don’t you just DIE?!” Came a holler from behind that mask, as Bælfir’s construct made from rock and bits of city reassembled for the umpteenth time behind them, ready to put the pressure on Haar’s defense again. Pure hatred laced those words.

Bælfir’s lips quivered strangely, as though he were unsure whether to smile that one down or not as some kind of… taunt? Joke? He covered up the lack of clarity with a snarl. That wave was looming ever closer. “Why don’t we go together?!”

I’ll call his bluff. Soon. He’ll stop. He’ll get over it. They’d been through too much together for this petty argument to be anything but a short, aggravated tiff.

He was still thinking that when his opponent made a feint to one side, then reached out with his duelling hand, disenganging his lightsaber. Bælfir expected lightning, or for the Force to wrap around his neck. Instead the arm wrapped around his waist and drew him in. His eyes fluttered in confusion. The grip on his own saber slipped a little as he felt the heat of Haar’s body against his for the first time in a long while.

“Ry--”

Bælfir felt the cold press of the hilt to his back a split second before the sabre ignited.





Ten.

He hung onto every word of the broadcast, still with anticipation, his nose so close to the feed that at times the holo wavered with static interference. Every now and then his Master glanced up from his work and peered over the room at the boy, suspicious at how completely engrossed he was in the broadcast, before giving a subtle shake of his head and returning to the old tomes spread out across the desk. At length he drawled without looking up, “Haven’t I given you an abundance of study for the week?”

“Finished it,” the boy replied listlessly.

“And your linguistics? Your incantation work has been sloppy as of late.”

Nu zinot gerejas,

Darth Arostos sighed tersely and beckoned with a single finger – the small holoprojector jumped off the table, and Baelfir’s head whipped around with a look of dismay as it was called to his master’s beckoning hand. He turned the device over in his grasp and considered crushing it, but no, he wanted to make absolutely certain… he thumbed the on switch and the feed flickered back to life, showing a strapping young Sith with dark, haunted eyes glaring down a nervous Imperial journalist.

“Hnn…. Ryshias. Darth Nolus’ boy. You have an interested in him?”

Baelfir’s jaw slackened a little, as though his Master were old and dull and it was completely not acceptable that he had no concept of the Sith in question’s fame. “Have you not been following his progress through the war with the Republic? He is an unstoppable force, they’re all saying so. He’s not even that much older than me and he’s out there winning entire planetary conquests single-handedly. They say he could take on Darth Malgus himself, that even the Emperor favours him.” His eyes flashed briefly with anger. “How come you don’t let me join the war effort? I hate being cooped up here studying all the time.”

A wry grin twisted the old man’s coarse crimson features as he rose from the chair and made his way towards Baelfir’s study, leaning heavily into his gold-encrusted cane with each second step. It was a bother, which kept him inside more often than not to prevent the risk of peers and fellows from seeing weakness, but the disease had eaten through four cybernetic leg and hip braces before Darth Arostos had conceded defeat. The cane itself; a mocking gift from one of his daughters. ‘This is why I prefer the company of the little Echani’ he’d sneered.

He watched the boy unabashedly eye his withering frame with a subtle measure of dismay, expecting the same answer as usual.

“The Emperor favours no one, if his silence says anything about his care for our vast Empire… and last I checked, a fair bit older than you, my child. Some Sith may find amusement in dressing up younglings in armour and velvet cloaks and sending them into battle, but it is not a past-time of mine, and I would loathe to see you obliterated after all the time and energy I’ve put into that empty head of yours.” The cane lashed out, whacking the side of Bælfir’s brow before he could pull it away, and he hissed with the sting of it.

“You excel at the alchemical arts. You are not a brute-force fighter to be thrown at Jedi like a Hutt-ball in a death match – our way is of learning and creation. Science and old Sith Magic tempered together. You will help the war effort in your own way. Perhaps your creatures will one day stalk across the fetid swamps of Balmorra, or block out the light of Tattooine’s twin suns.”

Another reminder of what he was apparently so good at, yet not what held his interest or desire. Baelfir turned his cheek, and Arostos watched the way his stubborn chin jutted as he forced his annoyance and frustration out the window instead of up at his Master. Wasn’t their Code, their way, about following desire, finding your power there? In a brief lapse of judgement he peered towards the dreary distant forest mountains bordering Kaas City, and not for the first time in his young life, considered running away to find the destiny he desired. The cobbles Arostos placed before him were tedious and boring. They made him feel weak, to hid behind constructs or bury his nose in books when the other apprentices were learning to level buildings. When they were being shoved out of shuttles to the hard, unforgiving surface of Korriban and told to do or die. How thrilling. He wanted to be powerful. Powerful, like Ryshias. He saw himself standing at the young Lord’s side, sabre in hand, ready to show his new master what he could-

“Ow!” He snapped, cringing away as Arostos’ cane clipped his opposite ear.

“Ungrateful ape,” The pureblood muttered, though without contempt. Curiously got the better of the old man, and after a little while of watching the child refuse to reach up and rub his bleeding lobe, he asked, “Tell me what else you think of him. This Lord Ryshias; tell me what the Force speaks to you of him.”





“I think he’s bad news.”




Twenty.

He angled a bored look towards the eternal pessimist that was his brother, eyebrow shooting up. “I know. You’ve made your feelings on the matter perfectly clear. Many times.”

“I’m an intelligence agent. If you don’t trust my judgement, then trust my intel.” Fælan sighed huffily. Bælfir noted with some amusement that, despite decades of separation and growing up far removed from one another, it was much the same sigh he himself made when equally annoyed. “Do you know what surrounds Darth Haar in all of his records, reports and holo-files – and these are the ones that aren’t triple-encrypted by the Sphere of Mysteries?”

“Countless victories and adoring fans?” Bælfir brought his delicate crystal glass up and studied the light striking colour through its sharp edges, sipping at a deep mauve wine nonchalantly.

“A very high body-count.”

“My goodness, you’ve really not been paying attention to the Empire’s main activities at all, have you?”

“Not the bodies of our enemies, brother,” Fælan corrected testily, and Bælfir could practically hear his thin layer of patience being sanded coarsely away, “to all those around him. His men, his allies, most likely a few lovers – and his Master’s previous work in Mysteries was a time and resource sink I’m struggling to find even a speeder parking fine in relation to. There is nothing good to be found in an alliance between the Valefor and his power base.”

“On the contrary, an alliance between us is exactly what the Valefor needs – he’s a strong presence within the Empire, and I’m not sure if you’ve been to the last few War Room meetings but they’re mostly still screaming about hunting down and beheading ‘those Valefor traitors’.”

He lowered a lopsided smirk towards his twin. “An ally to speak of our allegiance to the Empire, such as Darth Haar, is a precious asset. Especially with that blob of a human being Malagant and his spittle-filled ravings that for some reason, members of the Empire are swayed by.”

“I just…” Faelan’s rigid shoulders relaxed some, and he leaned idly against the countertop.

“...Look. I’m about as Force-sensitive as a trash compactor, so my opinion counts for naught. I get it. but my instincts have never let me down. I don’t like him, Bæl. He is as powerful and renown as he is unpredictable. There are accounts of his cruelty that even for a Lord of the Sith, seems… excessive.”
 
Bælfir tried to search for a way to say ‘your gut doesn’t like him probably because he tortured you for information and you don’t remember’ that would somehow soften the blow – found nothing, and returned to drinking instead. If he was to be fair, and honest, that incident was the perfect example of Ryshias’ breed of ‘excessive cruelty’ Fælan was trying to explain.

Indeed, at the time he had thought it fairly excessive, considering he hadn’t expected to encounter any issue with sending his brother to the Citadel on some boring paperwork errand… but his thoughts were never on-point, when a fancy was involved.

In fact… It was that cruelty that interested him. Or, part of what caught his attention. It wasn’t like the other Sith, the rabid dogs who fought for scraps of power and approval, who were constantly at each other verbally and physically in any setting, seemingly desperate to go ‘No, I am the most powerful, witness me’. ‘I am powerful, you are nothing’; ‘no, I am powerful and you are nothing!’. Ryshias didn’t engage in, or need that. He had not those fragile insecurities. He knew he was powerful, and when he wielded it, ‘excessive’ was the only available word.

“What experiences have you had so far with Haar’s representatives that has you so insistent?” Fælan continued, insistent. “There are a dozen other, more predictable, less murderface Sith we could ally with that would give just as useful a sway. Sith who are more wanting for our resources, too.”

Bælfir came back from his thoughts, recognising that stubborn look from the mirror, and knew the other wouldn’t stop until he believed he’d completely and verbosely made his point. They did both like to talk, in different ways.

He spun the chair around to face him with a slow, bemused smile. “We’ve met up a few times. One of those, I was fairly drunk and it was at Dancer’s Palace, which is hardly what you’d call some sort of serious conspiratory battleground. He was there with that pinched, angry pink lesbian Kitaree and I commented on his new haircut. S-so much death,”

“Bælfir,” Faelan simply returned the look with a thin frown, and an accusatory stare, “tell me you’re not sleeping with him.”

Bælfir winked, swirling his finger around idly in the air and causing the wine in his glass to rise and dance around it like a hypnotised adder. “Not yet.”





Twenty-five.

The red tattoo was afire, making the skin stretched across his chest burn and smart and feel of agony each time the material of his tunic brushed against it. Baelfir ground his teeth together and pressed on through the narrow corridor. The closer he got, the more fiercely the pain accosted him, his vision beginning to swim and double. Zaharoth was impatient, just as Ryshias had said. Now that he knew where the other fragments of him resided, he was impatient to become whole again, and he would tear the three of them apart the first chance he got.

That wasn’t the worst of it, though. Pain he could take – the unknown, the issues facing them… what had his Master said? ‘Each problem has a solution, so waste not your energy on fretting with the how or why, but focus it on finding the shortest path to your answer’. He wondered briefly if that was the philosophy Darth Arostos had held in mind as he’d been making the incantation to burn that tattoo into his screaming apprentice’s chest while he sealed away the fragment of Zaharoth within.

Solution. He forced his mind to a sharp point. There was a solution to this. There was a solution to every situation that ever was. He was an alchemist before anything else, and this - this reeked of it. Arostos would have built an out into the formulae. He wasn’t so eager for breakthough that caution would be thrown to the wind. An alchemist always played with fire. An alchemist without care was a dead alchemist.

He remembered siding down the wall, and how nice and cool the tiled floor was against his skin, and the pain abating some as his brother and his polarity approached, to help drag him to his feet.

“So was it worth it?” Fælan asked coldly. “Was it worth this? You and your bloody bleeding heart. He’ll be the death of us both.”

Alchemy wouldn’t kill him; but obsession might, he thought.

 
 




The rain from the impending tsunami still fell lightly into his eyes, and the wave never came as the roaring of the water subsided. The wound – the gaping hole the black-cored lightsaber had driven through his body – smarted and burned, but he couldn’t feel anything beneath it. The blade must have gone right through his spine.

One last, final, deadly embrace. The climax.

He felt Ryshias heavy footfalls pass by his head, towards the edge of the rooftop garden’s platform. He reached out limply to snatch at his ankles like a child.

I did everything for you.

He felt a child, too, in his stupidity. In his admiration. For the first time, laying there with smoke rising from his burnt armor and clothing, with such clarity of mind that he could feel his life ebbing away on the Force’s current… he finally understood the worry of the brother he had distanced, and sent away - another care of his that had been crushed by this damnable man.

I saved you. I came for you. I released you from Zharoth.

My suffering released you from Zaharoth. My brother’s suffering released you from Zaharoth.

Irmenu’s suffering released you from Zaharoth.

Without me you would still be pitiful.

Do you hate me, because… His breath rattled out painfully. His lungs struggled to expand again, full of heat and sitting atop a ruined diaphragm.

...because I loved you?

Words pierced through his clarity. He heard the Darth say something about being free from weakness, but his senses phased in and out, and the sky above began to blur and bloom. Sweet dropletsof rain fell to his tongue as his mouth opened wide, trying to breathe.

“Enjoy the rest of your life, unless these are its last few moments.” Darth Haar turned to glance down at him, a grin in his voice. The curtain call.

“I just don’t care anymore.”
 



Bælfir screamed for three days and nights.

The sheer fuel of his anger crept into every pore, every cell; forcing his lungs to pump, holding his last moments together like cupped hands sloshing water into a bucket, trying to save the ocean. He was alive with fury. He was fury. It stained his eyes blood red and his porcelain skin with dark, ugly veins, and he screamed.

The epilogue.

The doctor drifted over to his side with an injection. ‘He needs kolto,’ he heard. ‘He can’t keep on like this. Need to knock him out, get him into a tank.’

His hand rose into the air. Clenched. Twisted. The man fell to the floor with his spine in pieces.

No healing, no drugs, nothing for the pain, Baelfir seethed.

He wanted to feel all of it, he said.

He wanted to make sure he remembered this for the rest of his life. The agony. The betrayal. The hatred. Burnt it into his brain, as the lightsaber had burned into his body.

Every single moment.

25
Media Gallery / Re: Auryn of Worlds
« on: 02/25/18, 07:40:44 PM »
Because I hate myself, I tend to... name half my layers, then have to play a guessing game for five minutesa every time I need to switch to another, or check what is on what...


*laugh-cries* :grin: :sigh: :halo:

26
Cantina / Re: Gratitude
« on: 02/24/18, 05:12:02 AM »
@Orell "It inn't around my neck." That is all. :aww:
(Asori was wonderful, her and Feyda gotta catch up and bust heads together sometime.)

And to my Chorus guildies!! @Hawking , @Ryshias , @Rivoso an' @Jaydek , Thanks so much for coming and hanging at Dancers. Really made the new guild feel all official. Even if we did look like a gentleman's club until Quar and my not-daughter Selaan showed up. >_>

27
Events and Occasions / The Irmenuan Masquerade Gala
« on: 02/23/18, 08:57:10 PM »
To celebrate the return of Irmenu to the galactic trading stage after almost a year of absence, Prince Bælfir Yosoth, Warlord Protector of Irmenu and Pretty AF Sith, would like to cordially invite you to a decadent celebration of fashion and over-indulgence.


Behold, Totally Not Manaan Irmenu

Location: Bælfir's Manaan SH.


Time and Date
Server: Saturday, March 10th, 5pm til late
Australian: Sunday, March 11th, 12pm til late
(The early start is on purpose - want to be as accessible as possible, so that people may come and go over the course of the evening as they please.)

Faction: Both. No fightin'. Remember your '/me' emotes won't be seen cross-faction :)

Dress Code: Formal, extravagant, fancy, outrageous! Headgear that covers your face to some extent is a must.

For SH Invites:
Imperial: Whisper Bælfir (Alt code 0230) or Sèlaan (Alt code 0232).
Republic: TBA
Can't finds us?: Drop a line in RepublicOOC or ImperialOOC, we'll get t'you :halo:


There will be novelty prizes for:

Most Creative Ensemble

Best Ridiculous Get-up That Actually Works

Best Use of Dye

Most Impressive Cheap-Ass Outfit (No orange or purple items used!)



Rules

- For extra thematic fun, please have your nameplates turned off at the event.

- A decent bar-fight is all in good fun, but if violence breaks out those characters would likely have to be escorted off the property ICly. So keep it entertaining, but light. Only one Force-choke each. :P

- There will be an allocated area for the ball itself, but you are welcome to wander off and RP elsewhere in the Stronghold for privacy, or check out my dank minimalist set-dressing. (read: I am not rich, so the whole place is not decked out :P )

- That said, this is an All Ages event, so please do not ERP anywhere in the Stronghold. Not even in Bælfir's bedroom.

- Bælfir still represents the Valefor. Do not come to this event to throw around 'rawr Valefor traitors to Empire rawr'. I am not interested in spending the entire event explaining for the umpteenth time why the Valefor are not traitors, to deaf ears. You will just be thrown out. :halo:

- Out-Of-Character bullying or drama will not be tolerated, and result in an immediate ban from the SH.

28
Events and Occasions / Re: Who Watches the Watch?
« on: 02/22/18, 03:47:02 AM »
Forgot about an appointment I have tomorrow which falls smack-bang in the middle of J Night. Have fun frends! :aww: if Zara shows up be kind to her or I'll end you.

 :aww:

29
Cantina / Re: Your RP character's voice
« on: 02/21/18, 06:28:12 PM »
Weee, this thread! Now @Rivoso can stop laughing when Feyda talks with the Warrior voice...

Feyda: Nathan Young
Specifically how the actor speaks for that character. Warning, the video has some gross and offensive language, because Nathan, well, is a bit of a  :darkside: :darkside: :darkside: :darkside:

Hazaly: Evanna Lynch
Also known as Luna Lovegood! Same as her faceclaim, which is always handy, though voice-wise she speaks a bit lower as Evanna now does in adulthood.

30
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: One Good Thing
« on: 02/19/18, 08:41:03 PM »
II



“Teach me,” She called forward for the umpteenth time, keeping good pace along the rain-mudded hills.

“Go home,” His advice hadn’t changed, and he hadn’t once looked back.


~


As was proper ceremony, Hazaly stood between the two rows of stacked pyres with torch in hand, freshly waxed drum clung over over front. Down out of the trees, with how times had been, the Ashen were nervous, huddled against the treeline in the growing darkness with two dozen torches among them. Drizzle fell from the gathering clouds, but it would not be enough to stop the fires. Distant thunder made the hounds tug nervously at their leashes.

She was the oldest, of all those left but one, and Hagar was too old and frail to carry out the rite. The others were children, one clinging to the old man’s left side and two to his other. Hazaly glanced over her shoulder towards them and offered the hollow comfort of a small smile before she tugged down her mask.

Decorated with raven feathers and bleached bones, the nose fashioned into a sharp beak from the ivory of a ballow’s trunk, the mask covered all but her mouth and chin. Ravens were Hella’s birds; hers which turned into the ethereal Heldottirs, who could come to collect the fallen tribe of the Norden Fjals upon hearing Hazaly’s call.

The Mannligr hadn’t left. Despite the attitude of impassiveness he’d tried so well to impress upon her, he had come as close to the service as was allowed, leaning against a distant oak, in the shadows. Even from so far, she could feel that sick crawling beneath her skin. A few of the elders swore at his presence.

Valhashra came forth, her thumb dipped in blood to stroke across the wide mask. “Do you know the words?” She whispered, as she leaned in to paint the runes.

Hazaly nodded quietly, and the shaman stepped back.

Once the first pyre was lit, the girl began a slow pace forward, punctuating each footfall with the still-flaming torch beaten against the drum.

“Kven skal syn-ge meg…”


~


“You’re goin’ off te kill the Seiðr,” She said knowingly, jogging to catch up with a hand pressed to her still-healing side, “Y’can’t get ‘er on ye own, I’m tellin’ ya. Each one o’ us she kills she gets stronger, an’ she just took the souls o’ nearly me whole tribe.”

Go home, Hazaly.” Well, at least he’d bothered to learn her name at some point.

“You need me-- Oddgrimr’s bung eye, ye need the whole bloody lot o’ Norden tribes if ye stand a chance!”

He didn’t reply; Hazaly doubled her efforts to reach his side, wincing against the sudden incline of the foothill and her boots sliding on the fresh mud, pain sliding in between her cracked ribs like a knife. She couldn’t figure this one out. He had saved her, carried her all the way to the Ashen if her friends were to be believed; but had since shown very little interest in any of them. Almost as though the act had been nothing more than a passing thought, idle distraction, not basic empathy.

Given the darkness pulsing around him, had he not already done one good thing, Hazaly would’ve assumed the Mannligr a creature of the dark Seiðr herself. As it stood, for all she knew, he was, and experiencing a moment of rebellion. She huffed out a frustrated breath, and continued on. He still held her curiosity fast and deadly in-hand.

“Valhashra won’ teach me the Force! An’ my tribe’s shamaness is dead! I can help! You can help me help them!”

“You can’t help,” He drawled, “her power is beyond you.”

“What makes you so special?” She snapped.

His pace faltered, as though the question had hit a nerve. Hazaly stumbled to a stop, gnawing nervously on her lip as she felt a rippled of emotion roll off his shoulders. Anger? No… something closer to regret, and bitter on the tongue.

“Nothing.” He said eventually, shaking her from the worry. There was that sadness again, the one beneath the layers of illness that tugged hard at her heartstrings, and it told the girl despite warnings from all her other senses, that she could trust him. That he wouldn’t hurt her.

“Your people… the ones who tell you I am cursed,” his pale, green-hued eyes fixed on her fiercely, causing the girl to question that very notion of trust she’d just grabbed for, “You should listen to them.”


~


Hazaly’s voice wavered just a little as those of the Ashen tribe rose in the second verse, thought she didn’t miss a beat on the drum. Acolytes of the shamaness came out from the crowd first, masks down, singing in tandem. One stroked her fingers along the inside of a metal bowl, around and around, creating an eerie metallic hum to join the beats.

“Hvem skal synge meg,”

Who shall sing me…?

Once they reached the end of the first line of pyres, others were permitted to join. Arn, the old man, tugged gently on the children at his sides, urging them they had to participate in this show of strength so that their brothers, sisters and parents could join the rest of their ancestors.

“I daudsvevna slynge meg,”

Into the death sleep, sling me,

Tears streamed down Hazaly’s face. She wondered if each time she had watched a funeral ceremony, the one she had thought marched so stoic and brave between the flames also cried beneath the mask. Maybe, she thought, that was it’s purpose. Remaining strong for others on the outside, while mourning within their masks of death.

“Når eg på Helvegen går.”

When I walk on the Path of Death.


~


“Are you a Jedi? A Sith? Neither?”

“Yes,”

“That inn't an answer!”

“It is, if you use your head.”

Hazaly came to an abrupt halt. She was heavily out of breath, unable to catch back the gasps she’d exerted, and tired. Should have been back with the Ashen, resting. At this rate, they would be halfway into the Shamaness’ territory by nightfall, unless he struck east along the foothills towards Oddrheim.

“All o' them. You’ve been Jedi an’ Sith an’ now you’re neither.”

“Good,” he nodded, so far ahead now that she could barely hear his hoarse, softly spoken manner, “go home.”

“I don’t… have a…” Hazaly slumped to the ground.

Home.


~


The song was loud now, as the entire gathering walked down through the channel they had created. It ran forward through rows, from the tips of the forest that was the Ashen home, sliding along within the valley between the mountains of the Fjallr, echoing off the old stone as though the voices of the dead had also joined them.

“Og dei spora eg trår er kalda, så kalda…”

And the tracks I tread are cold, so cold.


~


They had been sitting around the fire in glum silence for a while now, having set camp almost exactly where she'd fallen, though a little down-slope out of the wind. She was grumpy that he’d saved her again, but not quick enough to avoid a nasty bump on the head, which she nursed with some poultice from a pouch on her belt. It was a mild night for this area of the range, oddly mild, but the Mannligr sat only just shy of the fire, rubbing his hands close to the flame as if desperate for its warmth.

“Are ye cold?” She asked, shifting to offer the blanket that she’d woken up on. This climate was her own, the mountains the crib she’d been born in. She only felt the cold in the deep of winter, or when the winds blew down from the polar region with bitter frost riding atop them.

“I’m always cold,” He said, with a shrug. The dark, orange-rimmed shadows cast on his pale face made the sickness in him even more apparent.

Hazaly folded her legs beneath her and sat up, her back straight as a rod. “That from yer curse?”

The corner of his lip twitched in mocking - she was uncertain whether it was aimed at her, or inwards. “Something like that.”

“What kinda--”

“Do you ever stop talking?” He snapped. His glare pierced her across the tops of the flames.

Hazaly merely grinned, and said “Nope,” and--


In that moment it remind him of a far different girl with dark skin and violet eyes with that same retention of innocence through hardship. It reminded him of so many people, and the way they had smiled at him, and the way he had ultimately let all of them down in one way or another. It reminded him of the spaces between the pain, memories that had been intensely eroded with time and corruption, bubbling to the surface.

He could have hated her for that.

 

The stranger turned from her, and folded on the ground with his back to the fire. She could see his silhouette against the dark still trembling from the chill, and thought perhaps he’d had enough of her for the evening and was settling down to rest. She didn’t see the way he clutched his heart with gritted teeth, struggling not to cry out, nails digging into his chest as though desperate to try and rip an invasion from his body.

“You don’t want me to teach you,” he said finally, strained, but the pain expertly covered within layers of exhaustion. “You think you do, but I don’t have anything to offer you… nothing good, at least.”

Hazaly hummed softly with disagreement, propping her chin on both fists. “I think you’re wrong, Mannligr.”

He huffed bitterly. “And why is that?”

“Well,” She started, sounding incredulous herself, “the Seiðr o' me tribe never did. The basics, o’ course, like everyone, but she never took me on fer the shamaness’ path. She said the Gods had told her I was meant fer someone else, that it wasn’ her place te practise me'n the Force.” Her bright blue eyes, dim in the night-time, fell to watch the flames between them.

“She said I was never meant te be a Seiðr. So I thought maybe f’you were a Jedi… or a Sith, or neither or all,” she added to the end, with the ghost of hope.

She expected him to snap at her again. Another ‘go home’, another warning. Nothing. Maybe he was asleep already, bored of her talk and her persistence. Hazaly half-supposed that if she went down for the night, she would wake up to a damp firepit on her own, never to see him again.

She gave a small sigh, took the coarse wool blanket and curled up beneath it. Someone from the Ashen tribe must have given or traded it over before the Mannligr had left, for it smelled of the tree-leaf oils they used to seal their wood and skins there. An axe - not hers, lost to the torn ground where her tribe had once been - was clutched in one hand, shield set against her back. Sleeping upright wasn’t her ideal, but she could manage it, and it meant if he tried to leave without her in the morning, she’d be more likely to awaken.

Far from thinking she'd get anything close to an answer, Hazaly murmured tiredly to the darkness, “y’said… y’came here te die. Is that why yer seekin’ the dark Seiðr? Die in glorious battle 'gainst her?” Her slender eyebrows raised at that. For word of the witch to have left the surface of their world, her deathly power must have been infamous. Maybe, if any of them were lucky, the off-world hunters had put a bounty on her head-

“I… dreamed of this place.”

The girl gasped softly. If any time he could have ignored her and gotten away with it, that would’ve been one. Even so, the surprise was short lived, part of her expecting the response, the touch of vulnerability. He would never have let her come this far if he wasn’t prepared to entertain her to some extent. What that connection was, she didn’t know or understand… but Hazaly wasn’t so lacking in ability that she didn’t recognise the pull of the Force, bringing them together.

So for once, she remained quiet her breath hanging nervously in the air - a quiet that urged him to continue.

“I dreamed of these mountains, of your Seidr’s ugly power and its capabilities…” She watched the mound of him shift under the blanket.

“... and of you, for some reason. Don't think I saved you out of some misplaced empathy... you just have a part to play in this," This time as he moved, she saw the muscles in his neck strained against some hidden pain,

"and I am done trying to fight the will of the Force, for all the good it's done me.”

Hazaly felt her heart skip a beat with fervent excitement. She swallowed it down.

“The Seidr won’t cure you, daufi,” She said instead, “havencha been payin’ attention? She…”

The words died on her lips. Came here to die. Of course.

“Why?” She demanded softly, after an uneasy silence. “Why does it need te be her?”

Hazaly didn’t feel the cold easily. The night still felt mild, to her. But the words that followed chilled her to the bone, the weight of them making her clutch the blanket closer.

“Because I need to make sure it sticks, this time.”


~


“Døyr fe, døyr frender,”

Cattle die, friends die,

“Døyr sjølv det sama,”

You yourself will also die,


All the pyres were lit. The drum, finally covered with flame from each beat of sorrow it had been given, had been set atop the final one, central to the two rows, just before it would have burnt Hazaly’s fingers to clutch. Atop it stood another mask - the one of her own tribe’s shamaness, her wrapped body beneath it.

By the end of the long song, all the other voices which had joined her fell away, leaving her own, wobbling with cold and mourning.

“Eg veit et som aldreg døyr…”

I know one that never dies…



~


“Tomorrow.”

Hazaly’s eyes fluttered. She had almost been asleep. The fire was in embers. “Hmn…?”

“I can start training you tomorrow. Just don't expect much.”

Her lips curled into a smile against her knees.

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