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Master of the Sword: Ch. 9-11(Conclusion)

 
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Master of the Sword: Ch. 9-11(Conclusion)
 PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:35 pm Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Ch. 9: “Taking Sides”

Korriban was an old planet, ancient as the stars themselves. The old Sith speak of tales when Korriban was once a bright golden star that acted as a beacon for the lost. Long, long ago the system was rich in habitable planets. An Eden amidst the cold desolate plains of space. It was this jewel of the cosmos that drew the attention of the Architects.

Pollo Dyak’s Tomb, Valley of the Sith Lords:

Adina stood before the obscure tomb in strange awe. Cool chills shivered up his emaciated body. Stilling himself, he approached the entrance.

The worn, weathered stone was covered in an old form of Sith markings. It was beyond Adina’s understanding. Ignorantly, he tunneled forward. The dunes half filled the entry tunnel, causes him to duck as he made his way in. Dim shadows flickered along the walls. Adina paid them little mind.

Somewhere inside was the past, and with that, the key to the future.

About 50 meters into the tomb, Adina reached an opening. The air grew cooler as he passed through. Casting a torch, he looked around the room. Several tall misshapen statues adorned the room along with more obscure text. In the center was a raised platform cradling a small sarcophagus. Slowly, Adina approached the casket.

“For a thousand years you’ve slept in peace…but today I must disturb your slumber.”

With that, he carefully slid the lid off halfway, leaving it cockeyed so it would rest on top. He leaned over to look inside. A small withered skeleton stared back.

In his skeletal hands was an ancient looking datapad.

Adina pried the piece of machinery loose from the dead lord’s hands. Holding it to the light, he could see the makings of control knobs and a viewscreen. With a simple click it activated.

“I am Pollo Dyak, Dark Lord of the Sith, Ruler of the Ten Suns, and founder of the Dagon Templar. For you, bold adventurer, this is my story…”

The voice went on for what seemed like an hour. Adina listened in complete captivation. He heard the stories of the Celestials, Krudesh, Vus’swa, The Pawns of Creation, and the Krudeshi Rituals. His head spun in wonder at the wealth of information he had uncovered.

The very secrets of life itself had been revealed to him.

Half dazed he stumbled out of the tomb onto the cold night sands of the planet. Darkness had set and the stars were out. Kath hounds howled in the distance. Somehow Adina managed to get to his ship and punch in the coordinates for Ziost.

* * *
Ziost, Hord’s Throne Room:

Mazul Serq entered the vast chamber and stood between the rows of towering statues. An empty throne greeted him in the distance.

“He’s not here. In fact nobody knows where he is today.” Replied Erathipa.

Serq looked over to his right and saw a large portly man sitting comfortably on a bench.

“How long have you been here?”

Erathipa shifted his weight as he sat up straight. “Oh, only since yesterday. I guess urgent news comes in second to the important affairs of the day.” He said sarcastically.

“What are you getting at Gilga?”

“Two words, laser sword.” Erathipa spread his arms in a gesture of obviousness. “It’s all he ever thinks about anymore. If he isn’t sparring or killing something with them, then he’s tinkering on ‘em. Seems the empire has taken a back seat.”

Serq digested the information and compared it with what he had observed. Gilga was right. It had become an obsession.

“I suppose your right. Still, as long as Adina and I have control of the fleets, then the expansion and defense of the empire remains secure-“

“Oh I wouldn’t say that. Aren’t you a little concerned about your own hide? Especially after what happened to Nechos…”

Serq snapped. “Nechos deserved what he got. He was a traitor and a parasite. His conniving was draining the very life of the empire. He had to be stopped.”

Erathipa sat back, a little shocked by Serq’s temper. “Don’t’ get me wrong, I’m no Nechos sympathizer. The man was a leech. Still…Tulak had put up with his antic for years. To him it was always a game, kept him on his toes. Gave him something to do.” Gilga looked sadly to the floor, his voice sullen. “Now he kills his lords to quench his madness.”

A concerned look crossed Serq’s stern face. “Gilga, surely you don’t fear that Hord will strike you down just to spill blood with his lightsaber-”

“I do. And so should you.” He eyes looked up wearily. “Of all of us, you should fear it the most. You’re the most skilled swordsmen in the galaxy. The most thrilling challenge for Hord to conquer in his pursuit of mastery of the sword.”

Silence sank down upon the two. Serq quietly pondered the truth in Gilga’s words. Would Hord actually come after me? No matter how hard he tried to assert himself, he couldn’t be sure.

* * *
Outside the Capital, along the frozen plains:

Hord held six metallic cylinders suspended in the air. Each gleamed in the eternal twilight of Ziost’s sky. Using the Force, he articulated them independently, each one going through a different set of maneuvers. By now it had become second nature. If he really wanted to, he could have built a hundred, even a thousand, and moved them all with the extended reach of the dark side. A veritable army of himself.

“Lord Tulak, do you really think its safe for us to meet out here?” Asked Lady Pitaka.

Hord glanced up. Methodically he eyed the slender woman from foot to head. His eyes locking on to hers. “My people do as I command.”

“Ah, but even the wives of Sith Lords get jealous. Do you really have that much control over your wife?” She teased.

Hord was silent for a moment. “No. But she need not know, nor will she find out.”

He snapped to his feet and forcefully grabbed Lady Pitaka. Their mouths locked together in a fierce embrace. Their bodies intertwining like serpents.

Twenty minutes later, the two Sith Lords sat in the warmth of eachother’s naked bodies, bundled tightly in layers of heavy fur blankets. Each stared above at the starry sky.

“Tulak, why do you obsess yourself with those laser swords?”

Hord looked over at Losi, her green eyes glowing in radiance. “It…is a matter of the heart.”

“Of the heart?”

“An inner feeling, a desire. It urges me and draws me in. Much like you.” A sly smile crossed his red lips.

Very few people got to see that smile. Losi Pitaka cherished it.

“Well I guess that I can understand. It makes sense.” She paused. “But the other lords, they now fear you. They fear that you will kill them simply to test yourself and your skills with the sword.”

Hord was silent. He chewed on the thought. “A part of me killed Nechos to see what it would be like. To slay a Sith Lord with a lightsaber. Yet the other part of me allowed it only because it was long overdo.”

And yet it was a lie. Deep down there was a part of him that wanted nothing more than to fight a Sith Lord in deadly combat and defeat them with his mastery of the sword. But not some pathetic weakling like Nechos. No. It had to be someone truly worthy of the challenge.

“Tulak, what are you thinking?” Losi leaned over and tugged on his chin.

Calmly he stared back. “Nothing. Only of your beauty.”

And with that they were at it again.

* * *
Sith Capital, Royal Hangar:

Adina’s ship landed swiftly. The tall thin lord scampered out of his ship, eager to unveil the good news.

He was stopped by Lord Daku.

“Lord Adina, I must talk with you.”

Adina waited for Daku to release his grip on his forearm. “What is it?”

Daku put a finger to his lips, gesturing to be silent. He waved Adina to follow him.

They walked a short distance and entered a private room in a nearby hallway. There Daku confided in Adina.

“Tulak Hord has gone mad. His obsession with lightsabers has driven him out of his mind. You saw what he did with Nechos. It has only wetted his appetite. In fact, it probably has made it worse.” Nervously Daku pulled something out of his pocket and swallowed it. “Soon one of us will be next. He’ll go after someone more challenging. Someone skilled with a sword.”

Adina did not look pleased. “Why would you think it would be one of us, why not Serq? He’s the most gifted of all us in combat.”

“No. Not Serq. Tulak might be mad but he wouldn’t kill his best friend. They are too close. You and I on the other hand,” a grave look sunk upon him, “we are far more likely.”

Fear pervaded Daku’s face. Adina was not used to seeing the man so shaken. Of all the Sith lords other than himself and Serq, Adina rated Daku as one of the best.

“Okay, lets say he is coming after one of us. What do you want to do about it?”

Daku looked shocked. “I am no traitor! I will not conspire against the Dark Lord behind his back-“

“Come now, Daku, I bet Nechos tried to get your support.” Adina chided. “And we are not engaging in idle chit chat here. So, what do you propose we do?”

Daku tried to gauge Adina’s mindset. Was he being lured into a trap or did he genuinely have Adina’s ear? He decided to take the leap.

“We gather the Sith Council for a special meeting. There we unite ourselves in a pledge to defend each other should Hord openly challenge another lord in personal combat. If we can come to that agreement, we then confront Hord and inform him of the situation. He will then be forced to give up any thoughts of lightsaber duels with Sith Lords.”

Initially Adina was skeptical of Daku’s fears. Yet his reasoning was sound. A coalition would have the effect of blocking Hord from any more rash actions. And as long as he and Serq were a part of this coalition, then there would be no coups to overthrow Hord.

“Alright. I’ll back you in this endeavor. Who do you want to go to first?”

“Nasas, then Daen. With their support, the others will follow.” A slight hesitation sweeped over Daku. “What about Serq? Can you get him to join us?”

Adina did not answer right away. Instead he mulled over the possibilities. Maybe. Maybe not. “I can get him to back us. Let me worry about him. You just get the others first.”

In reality, Adina wasn’t so sure. Then again, if anyone could do it, it was him.

Chapter 10: Casting of Lots

Korriban, Valley of the Dark Lords:

Lord Daku knelt before the tomb of his ancestors. It was not the largest of the Sith memorials in the valley, but neither was it the smallest. Looking up, he gazed upon the faded red stone of the blocky structure. A simple portal provided entrance into the inner mausoleum. Two massive winged hounds flanked the entrance. Directly above the doorway was a sculpted bust of Daku’s ancient forefather, Rosast Daku, Dark Lord of the Sith.

“I come to you for guidance, for strength, and for wisdom.” His soft words rang clearly in the air and hung in the silence.

A breezed blew by, scattering a few gusts of fine sand. A kath hound screamed in the distance. Yet the Dark Lord did not reply. Most men, even Sith Lords, failed to understand the workings of the dark side and the afterlife. Many adventurers traveled to Korriban, the Sith grave planet, to seek answers from the dead and few were ever successful. But Daku was a true believer, and he was patient. He waited until the sun rose high in the sky, its sweltering heat engulfing him in sweat. His muscles ached from holding his submissive stance, his throat was parched, and his stomach roiled in place.

And then his answer came.

“Lord Daku, do you really think the dead can talk?” Tulak Hord’s tone was thick with sarcasm. “And why would they bestow their wisdom to a traitor like yourself?”

Daku rose slowly, turning to meet his opponent. “This time has been long in coming Tulak.”

“Yes, yes it has.” A thoughtful look crossed Hord’s face. “You never did forgive me for killing your friend, did you?”

Daku tensed. “No. Never.”

His friend was the last contender for the title of Dark Lord of the Sith, long before Nechos’ fall. When the last Lord died of old age, Hord quickly stepped up to take his place. Yet he was not without a challenger. Of all the Sith Lords in the council, only one dared to compete with Hord. He was the only other individual worthy of the title. Alas he fell to Hord’s blade.

The last image Daku could remember was the glassy eyes of his friend staring at him from across the room. His friend was lying dead upon the floor while Hord was declaring himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith. It was a hated memory that would never still.

Daku focused on that thought as he drew his sword. Hord watched in glee.
The two dark beasts circled each other on the old stones before the tomb. It was a fitting place for battle, a place where all the old Lords could sit and watch.

Tulak plucked two cylinders from his belt and ignited the thrumming blades. One of gold, one of silver, both lethal and weightless. He swept them forward like coiled vipers leaping for the attack. Daku parried and withdrew.

“You fight like a coward Hord, no better than a common peasant. The power of the dark side lies in the Force, not petty tools.” To emphasize his point Daku struck out with the Force.

A seismic blast slammed into Hord as he tried to block the blow. For the most part, he was able to block it, enough to remain on his feet. Yet the blow was not without damage. He could feel the bruises it had left on his chest and arms, the tingling numbness that threaten to paralyze his body.

Then, to his surprise, one of his lightsabers went out.

“Look at that.” Chuckled Daku, "One of your lightsaber crystals broke.”

Hord yelled as he charged forward, trying to blind himself to his pain with wild rage. Daku struggled to block the ferocious attacks. Each fell like ten sledge hammers jarring his arms as they struggled to hold on to his sword. The attacks didn’t stop, they only intensified.

Daku was slipping.

Then fate intervened again. This time Hord’s other lightsaber went out.

“First a crystal, now a dead battery.” A daring smile slid across Daku’s face. “I think the dead have spoken, Hord. They’ve chosen the one with more respect.”

Dejected with the failings of his lightsabers, Hord threw them away in disgust. He drew two more from the four cylinders that still hanged from his belt. Both ignited with crisp hisses of electrical discharge.

Again the two warriors came to blows.

With strained patience, Daku sought to entwine Hord in his own blades. If he could get Hord to strike rapidly, without thought, he could tangle the Dark Lord up enough to land his own blow. And thus his sword clashed against one lightsaber, then another. Each time the pace quickened as Hord grasped for an opening. Wild swings fell low and high as thee blades twirled through the air. Tulak was beginning to loose his focus. Daku could see the strikes turning into sloppy desperation. Now was the time.

Turning half around, Daku swirled back with a full, two-handed blow leveled for Hord’s head. The Dark Lord intercepted it, then unleashed a wild flurry of attacks. Closer and closer the blows followed each other until they were nearly linked in continuous motion. With a wide, circling parry, Daku wrapped the two blades together, controlling their motion. As he pushed them down and around, he pulled off his sword and lunged for the attack. Hord was momentarily caught off guard.

A cold thunderbolt of pain ruptured through his body. Every nerve and muscle seized in complete shock. His eyes gasped in pain as his mind struggled to perceive the unfolding events. One last image rolled into view. A shimmering red blade stuck through his abdomen, sizzling with vapor of his own black blood.

Daku fell to his knees upon the grounds of his ancestor’s tomb. It was a fitting place for his death.

For Hord it was a moment of ecstasy. Another victim of his blade. He savored the thrill while it lasted.

* * *
Serq’s fleet on the edge of Sith Space:

Adina carefully approached the Sith Lord. Serq was dressed in full battle armor and manning his post aboard his flag ship. There were no hostiles to conquer in this sector, only natives to subdue, nevertheless Serq fulfilled his duty with equal passion. Adina gathered his posture as he addressed Serq.

“Mazul, I’ve come with a proposition, one best discussed in private.”

Serq looked around at his crew, nodded his head, and walked over to a private command room. Once inside the two lords talked in private.

“I was approached by Lord Daku and he brought up a very interesting point. Tulak Hord has become increasingly incensed with his lightsabers, to the point that they may be affecting his judgment. He proposed that we, the Sith Council, unite together to oppose any future challenges that Hord might issue.”

Serq could see where this was going. “You think Hord will attack another Sith Lord just to satisfy his taste for combat. And you want me to stand by you and the others, to pose a united front against such a threat.”

“Precisely.”

“It is too late.” Serq cast a solemn glance to the floor.

Adina waited in silence, not comprehending Mazul’s meaning. “What is it?”

“Daku…he’s dead. I just received a message from the capital informing me of the lord’s passing. It said he died on Korriban when he tried to challenge Hord for the title of Dark Lord.”

Adina couldn’t believe it. Daku had been right. Hord had gone too far.

“If it is of any consequence, Lord Adina, I will still stand by you and the other lords. Tulak has lost his…focus.” He carefully chose his words.

“If Daku is dead…should we…what…” Adina was at a loss for words. His mind struggled to grasp the next logical step. Too much had happened, all too fast.

Luckily Mazul stood as a guiding force. “If we let Hord go as he is, then nothing will change. Soon another will fall victim to his obsession. Thus we must act.” He paused to convey the seriousness of his conclusion. “We must confront him in combat…and kill him. There is no other way.”

Adina bounced the ideas around in his head. It was a simple plan. Straightforward. “Together we strike?”

Serq nodded his head.

The plan had been set. The end of the greatest swordsmen the Sith had ever seen was now cast in motion. The question was whether or not it would play out.

Prologue

Tulak Hord was the greatest swordsmen the Sith had ever known. Had he ever ventured into the Republic, he would have quickly made his reputation known to the Jedi. However he was a man gifted with a talent that had no release. In the small empire that the Sith had carved out for themselves, there were no enemies left to challenge him. None other than his own people. And of them, none more challenging than the lords of the Sith Council. Thus he was doomed to destroy himself or the order he served. The following is how he met his fate…

Chapter 11: The Fall of the Master

Il Magno- One of the moons of Ziost:

Outside a cold, savage wind howled relentlessly against the solid walls of Hord’s fortress. It was one of several that he occupied from time to time. This one once housed the famed Sith Lord Ajunta Pall. It was said to be his least favorite. Oddly, Hord found it appealing.

In complete solitude, he found his center for meditation. And so the cold swirls of the dark side gathered around his body. In the silence, he could hear it whisper.

* * *
Outside the broad, ominous fortress stood two beings. One was a lanky, frail looking being of red complexion. A long red tentacled mustache hung from his face. The hard lines on his cheeks were contrasted by the intensity in his eyes.

Next to him was stolid, well muscled warrior. He looked as if he could’ve been a gladiator and the scars that showed here and there seemed to only reinforce that belief. Yet he was a Sith Lord, like his companion. His skin was a shade darker, his tentacled mustache cropped short at the corners of his mouth. There was no intensity in his eyes, only a determination in his gaze. He was a man on a mission.

The armor clad lords walked up to the looming doors of the fortress. The building was carved from the rock of the moon’s surface and it seemed to simply burst out of the icy drifts that surrounded it. Adina, adorned in simple gray armor and a dull green cloak, approached the door.

Stirring from behind the thick metal barrier, a single Massassi warrior creaked the heavy obstacle out of the way in order to greet the guests.

“Milords, it is an honor.” The red-skinned Massassi warrior fell to one knee. “Shall I notify Lord Tulak of your arrival?”

“No.” Replied Serq. “The Force will let him know.” He nodded to Adina and they continued inside.

* * *
The voices were growing louder. More persistent. Still, Hord tried to resist.

“Kill. Kill. Draw the blade. Listen to its caaallll.” The voices screeched as they pleaded, begging without shame.

Hord could feel their desire. It was like a starvation, a primitive urge that boiled from within without control. With cold sweat dripping down his face, he awoke to a startle.

The voices were his own.

Looking down, he could see the lightsaber hilt in his hands. It was clutched so tightly that the feeling was numb in his fingers. Slowly he released his grip, letting the blood flow back into his palms.

Still, he could not shake that feeling. He had finally realized that he was loosing control. The call of the sword was becoming an addiction, one he could not control. One he did not want to control.

“It is time, Tulak.”

Hord hesitated. What did the voices mean it is time? Then it dawned on him, this voice was real.

He turned his torso, the rest of him still sitting upon the floor with his legs crossed. At the edge of the room were two shadowy figures. Instantly he felt them in the Force. Adina and Serq.

“I see your meditation has distracted you. Are arrival has come as a surprise.”

Hord rose to his feet without making any sudden movements. Part of him wanted to greet Serq with a smile, to share stories of the old times and reminisce. Yet another part hungered for something completely different. The urge was so foreign that he wasn’t completely sure it was his.

“Serq. Adina.” He made eye contact with each while trying to control the feelings swelling from within.

Adina stepped forward, one hand on the hilt of his sword. “Tulak, it has gone too far. This hobby of yours has become an obsession. You must realize this?” The words came out as a plea, a last ditch effort to save the Dark Lord’s life.

Adina’s face showed concern. He had a deep attachment to his Lord. All his wants had always been answered by Tulak. He was given a fleet to control, complete freedom of action, and a dozen species to conquer. It was all he had ever wanted in life, that of a warrior.

Now he had to confront his mentor because of a single failing. Deep down he wanted to help his master, to find a solution that did not end in death.
All of these things were bluntly apparent to Hord. It caused him to examine himself, to seek some break that he could visualize, some damage that he could repair within himself.

While Adina tried to reason and Hord hesitated in introspection, Serq took action. He had his sword fully unsheathed before Hord even took notice. By the time the Dark Lord reacted, Serq’s blow was already raised. As the heavy blade came crashing down, Adina stood in shock.

Reacting out of instinct, Hord rolled back. The sword slammed down onto the rock tiled floor sending shards flying about. Hord looked into his best friend’s eyes and saw only a cold, emotionless stare. He knew now what he meant. His time had come.

Lunging forward, Serq drove his sword like a lance. Hord ignited one of his lightsabers and managed to deflect the attack. As his lightsaber blade chopped down on the sword, he maneuvered closer to Serq, preparing a counter. Yet Serq acted first putting a hard elbow into Hord’s chin. The Dark Lord took a step back but Serq pressed on, this time with a double, crisscrossing slash toward the chest.

Now Adina motioned forward. He gathered his resolve and launched his attack to Hord’s left hip. With a methodical grace, Tulak swept the blow aside, blocked another attack from Serq, and freed himself some breathing space.

In his mind he struggled to collect himself. He was fighting on instinct, without thought. After thousands of duels the motions had become second nature. But in the back of his mind he was grappling with the situation. His most trusted subordinates were attacking him. His friends were trying to kill him. And part of him wanted to die rather than see them fall before him, their lifeless eyes staring up at him from cold puddles of blood.

Then a burning pain erupted along the back of his right calf as a hard blade sliced through the skin. In that moment the dark side burst forth in an uncontrollable wave. It crushed the tiny doors that were struggling to hold it back. All self control was lost.

The voices screamed in jubilation.

Serq pulled his hefty sword up, slinging blood as he did so across Adina’s face. Adina paid no mind, he was busy calculating his next attack. The lord’s thin arms snapped out as he swung at the back of Tulak’s neck. To his surprise it swept through thin air.

With lightning speed and boundless agility, Hord dropped to the ground, spun on his back, then leaped to his feet sending his lightsaber in a large windmill strike aimed at Adina. The blow knocked him to the ground. Hord then spun in mid stance, abruptly changing his grip, and sent his humming blade behind him, piercing the soft flesh of Serq’s thigh. The Sith Lord howled in pain but charged onward. Hord caught the blow and let it push him back. As he reeled from the blow, he sent his right leg in a sweeping kick that took out both of Serq’s. He fell to the ground.

Hord almost sent his searing blade into Serq’s unprotected neck but was forced to block Adina’s next attack. The blades clashed. Adina’s sword, imbued with the wonders of Sith alchemy, simply accepted the blow and grinded against it. Adina clenched his teeth as he tried to overpower the Dark Lord but Tulak’s strength was too much. Instead he felt his feet slipping as he fell back from the pure force of Hord’s will.

Serq snapped to his feet with a yell, using all his power to ignore the pain of the severed tendons and vessels in his leg. Clasping his strength together, he unleashed a series of attacks. Hord blocked the first few, then began parrying them. This brought him into position to launch his own attacks. Serq was no longer in a position to hold his own. Steadily he was loosing ground.

As Hord’s blows intensified, as the strikes linked themselves in a seamless flow of motion, Serq gave up. He tossed his sword to the ground and bellowed, “if my sword will not finish you then let it be my power in the Force!”

His fingers froze in crooked patterns, a vile look burned into his face, as Serq spewed bolts of raw power from the palms of his hands. The arcs of energy convulsed around Hord, sending him to his knees as he absorbed the excruciating tendrils of pain. Each bolt felt as if it were ripping through his flesh and tearing out his veins.

Adina stood in awe as the pure power of the dark side crashed into Hord. For a moment he thought this was it, that the end was coming. Then he noticed Serq’s power waning. Hord was regaining his strength, struggling to his feet. Adina leapt forward to strike Hord before it was too late. Some of Serq’s lightning caught him in the back. As he swung his sword he saw a smile cross Hord’s face. Then a blast of dark energy pelted him in the chest.

The blast sent Adina sprawling across the floor, his sword clattered out of his grip as it skidded away. He struggled to his feet and saw Hord plunge his lightsaber into Serq’s chest. A mad glow permeated the Dark Lord’s face as he smiled in grim delight above his conquered foe.

Hopelessness, despair, defeat.

Adina shook away the feelings, his mind kicking into action. His sword was too far away and wasn’t getting him anywhere. The Force would have to be his ally.

Diving down into his soul, he found his center. He was one with himself. He could feel the Force at his command. Drawing it like a whip, he unfurled it at Hord with a wild, sweeping gesture. The blow caught Tulak off guard, blood seeped from his mouth.

Hord’s eyes stared blandly at Adina. There was no life behind them, only a simple driving desire to kill. Adina realized that Hord wasn’t really there. In fact he wasn’t fighting Hord at all. Instead, the thing before him was a living embodiment of the dark side. Its will had completely overtaken Hord and was now driving him to do its bidding.

There was no way to destroy the dark side with the dark side. And Adina knew nothing of the light. Yet there was the Krudesh Scrolls.
He hadn’t gotten a chance to fully study them, but the principle was simple enough. Take the energies of the Force, channel them through your body, adding your own life force with it, then release.

As he was going through the steps, his body was unconsciously following along. He could feel power rushing into his body. The dark swirls flowing off Hord, the inanimate glow that hovered above Serq’s dying body, and the tainted purity of his own. Growing inside of him like a rippling surge of tension, he released himself, channeling the energy out and forward.

As he opened his eyes, he saw Hord’s thrumming blade sweeping toward his face, only inches away. Yet the blade swept by in front of him as Hord’s body flew backwards. The ball of energy slammed into his abdomen, crumpling him in two, and slinging him back like a stone. Hord slid across the floor, slamming into the wall. His crumpled form was hunched over his lightsaber. In a death grip, he still held it in an iron fist. Even as the blade protruded from his back.

It was done.

Walking forward, Adina tentatively approached the lightsaber. Hord’s body was still. Adina bent down and pushed Hord upright, leaning him back against the wall. The lightsaber burned an even deeper gouge but Hord showed no reaction. Prying the lightsaber from the knotted up fingers of Hord, Adina held the lightsaber up to eyes. The red glowing blade hummed in the silence. Listening closely, Adina thought he could almost hear it whispering.

He snapped the blade off and chucked it across the room. Inside, the tiny, fragile crystal shattered. Adina looked down at Hord. Five other cylinders were attached to his belt. Methodically he picked up each one and broke it. He used one lightsaber to destroy the others, then smashed the crystal in the last one. Satisfied that his task was accomplished, he walked over to Serq’s body.

His fingers still felt warmth on the Sith Lord’s neck, but there was no pulse of life. The life force he had felt earlier was now gone. He rose back to his feet.
“The Dark Lord of the Sith, master of the sword, is…dead.” He looked down at Serq. “And his best friend goes with him. May the dark side release its hold on both of them.”

He turned his back on the grisly scene and headed for the door. The Sith Council would need a new leader. The title of Dark Lord would be his. And now he had a new found power to strengthen his resolve. Something not necessarily stronger than the dark side, but equally useful and perhaps…safer.

* * *
Epilogue

On Korriban, in the Valley of the Dark Lords, both Mazul Serq and Tulak Hord were laid to rest. Serq was placed in the tomb of his forefathers, a modest structure that was respected for those it contained. Yet Hord was given his own tomb, a large structure that dominated the landscape. A large relief of the Dark Lord stood above the entrance, guarding it against those who would dare breach its seal. Adina, now Dark Lord of the Sith, had Hord’s subjects place the remains of the lightsabers on Tulak’s sarcophagus. With a token sacrifice of a hundred servants, the tomb was sealed.

Inside the tomb Hord’s body laid peacefully in the confines of a thick, stone coffin. His black ceremonial armor covered his body. Upon his face was a black, claustrophobic mask that reflected his fear inspiring image to the unguarded foe. And though the shattered remains of his lightsabers, primitive as they were, now lie broken beyond repair, if you listen closely, you can still hear them whisper the sweet cooings of the dark side.
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"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood


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