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Author Topic: Until We Go Down  (Read 392 times)

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Offline Auryn

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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.
« Last Edit: 04/19/18, 08:08:04 AM by Auryn »
My drawing was not of a hat.
It was of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.



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