Whispers branched out in the Force, touching the minds of the followers of the Light and the Dark alike. Both the Jedi Order and The Sith Eternal had sent investigators to Mustafar for their own reasons, answering the same call. It was not obvious, but as both groups approached the world, they would feel a distant calling. Whoever or whatever had called them here, wanted to be found.
As both groups arrived at their destination, Fortress Vader, they began searching for that distant whisper that beckoned them deeper within. As the two groups explored, they discovered each other in the long-abandoned meditation chamber of Darth Vader. The room radiated pain, suffering, and death. The presence was clearly hostile to all who entered.
Before the Jedi and Sith Eternal followers could interact with one another, the ground began to shake violently. Dust fell from the ceiling as the walls appeared on the verge of totally collapsing. The smell of sulfur filled the room as the quake grew even more intense. Before anyone had a chance to escape the room, the floor collapsed underneath their feet, pulling both parties down.
Chaos erupted as the entire group was plunged into darkness. Thick dust and hot air made it hard to breathe as an oppressive presence bared down on all of them. Four of the eight intruders would find themselves in a pitch-black room. If using a light source, they would notice that there was little to no debris in the room with them. The walls were covered in ancient writings that none of them would understand.
On one side of the square room, there was a single, large door. There was no obvious way to open the massive twenty-foot tall stone that blocked their exit.
Magos came to. Agony burned across his left leg, already blown out ears before. Where....how..... right, the calling, Mustafar, Fortress Vader, the Jedi, the fall .... Now this. He felt cold stone. "By the bombad Darth Millennial, Mesa better not be insa Hell," the pain drove him back into Gunganese but he soon caught himself out of it. "Ender! You dead!?" He waited for a response considering if "We Dead" would be more accurate. The man was a fellow from Naboo, but he had little time with him before the mission, he hoped they could rely on each other.
Pulling his nonhuman legs into a meditative position he sensed out his surroundings with the Force. The room was large and stark. What seemed to be a door lay on one end and three wounded forms joined him there. One of them seemed to be Ender, the other two were light in the Force, two of the Jedi. A bit of fear rushed through him. They clearly weren't his friend Ember, and calling out in the darkness might be a good way to get a saber through the chest. He thought he was likely the first to come to, but he was not sure. He checked, relieved to feel his curved hilt still strapped to the belt of his robe. He slid it into his hand. He ignited his somewhat unstable blade revealing writings covering the walls.
"Masters Jedi, if you are awake I do not wish to fight with this, only to light the way, let us not kill each other within that which we don't understand." He hoped his calming words would prevail and that the situation would not devolve into a duel. He tried to conceal his groa of pain as he pulled himself into a standing position and lay a hand upon the wall nearest him. He carefully positioned himself and his blade to remain facing the others. Psychometry might help, it usually did, and this place oozed history. With a shuttering sigh he attempted to read the walls.
Somm groaned loudly as he sat up. His head throbbed and he squeezed his eyes shut tight as pain lanced through his head. Reaching up he tenderly touched his lekku, pain hit him again, they were badly bruised. "Obviously" He thought to himself as he opened his eyes again to take stock of his surroundings.
A red glow lit the square room, somehow making the shadows in the corners darker and more ominous. A figure stood, a lightsaber held pointed towards them, a red lightsaber. Somm had read texts in the library on Ajan Kloss about those who had wielded red sabers, The Sith "But they have been gone for a century or more?" his mind raced, this couldn't be a Sith. The figure held their other hand against the wall and didn't seem to be paying attention to Somm. He looked about and noticed two others lay near him, both bathed in the red saber light.
One was someone he didn’t recognise, though he was a Human. The other figure was that of Xander Snythe, a fellow Padawan. Somm had not had much to do with Xander before being sent on this mission but the two had talked briefly on the journey and Somm had found him pleasnt, if rather sarcastic at times. Somm willed Xander to wake up before the other figure.He groaned again as he pushed himself to stand, his bruised muscles fighting him as he rose. He was at a distinct disadvantage; the only other person was awake already had their blade drawn. He rested his hand on his own hilt, relieved to find it still magnetically attached to his belt.
"Who are you?" He croaked out; his throat surprisingly dry.
He cursed himself inwardly, first for allowing himself to fall into this trap and second for his weakness in coming round later than his enemy and the other Padawan. Although no one has said as such, Xander had thought of himself as responsible for the other Padawan, being the older of the two (he was surprised that no Knight had been chosen for the mission and had taken it as an ego boosting compliment).
As the red-saber wielding figure spoke, Xander tried to work out the significance: everyone knew the Sith were dead; and yet the history of the clone wars told him that people had made that assessment before and regretted it.
Moreover, Xander had recently encountered phantasm from the force and, unlike that experience, this figure had a darkness that was distinct from - but lesser to - the darkness that permeated this folorn place.
"Keep your distance." Xander said as he illuminated his own saber. He was grateful for the Sith not launching into straight-out combat. However he knew that words were just as much the Sith's weapons as their sabers. His voice was firm, hiding his insecurity, but his saber was lowered, showing he agreed that a peaceful solution was necessary. "Yes, how are we going to get out of here?"
Ender's eyes opened slowly as a light groan escaped from him. He flexed his fingers and toes first to make sure everything worked fine. Placing his palms into the ground and lifting himself up with a groan, small pebbles and dirt fell off his back as he let out a single cough. Everything was fuzzy for a moment but then Magos' voice split through his daziness enough to steady him and center his thoughts to realize what happened. "No, I'm alive and kicking."
That's when he realized that it wasn't just him and Magos down in wherever they were, the Jedi having fallen for the trap too. Both of the Sith had felt the whisperings from the force, did the Jedi as well or was this a coincidence? Either way, they were stuck here and before he could open his mouth to speak, Magos gave a peace offering to the two Jedi to get out. Ender stepped closer towards his partner with his hand hovering over the hilt of his saber, prepared to pull it out in case things went south between the two groups.
The Jedi lowered his saber, however, accepting the olive branch from Magos and caused Ender to relax slightly but not completely. The stranger asked a good question on how they were going to get out and with the sabers illuminating the room, it revealed the large door that seemed to be the only way out of the room. "I'm guessing through that." Ender pointed towards the door. With the other Sith still keeping an eye on the Jedi, he walked over to the door before stopping a respectable distance away. Magos already had his saber and out and lit the room enough to illuminate the door. "Anybody have any suggestions on how to open it?"
The room grew quiet except for the sounds the four occupants made. If they reached out with the Force, they would feel nothing outside of the room. They would sense the isolation and malice of this place press in on them, it made the air thick and hard to breathe.
As the Gungan began to look a the writing he would find it incredibly hard to even make out any of the characters. They would blur in his mind, almost seeming to shift around though it was nothing was actually moving.
When Ender walked in the direction of the door, letters and symbols flashed red before he spreading out in a wave along the entirety of the wall before falling silent again and the room growing dark.
A few seconds later, the ground shook again, much as it had above but this time instead of the floor collapsing both side walls began creeping in.
The sound of stone dragging on stone announced their impending death if they couldn't open the door.
"This is bad! Everyone up and thinking! My name, dear sir is Magos, though its not important if we all are crushed!" Magos puled his arm away from the wall and proceeded to approach the Jedi. He knew he had little time. "Ender! Those things went red after mes - I - tried to read the wall. Then we got into this predicament. I would like to think that is its way of saying 'Not the right Force power - try again,' or maybe 'do not use the Force here' but being a Sith castle I would assume its the former." He wrung his free hand nervously. "Or maybe its you approaching the door, that is all we have done, so start by getting the Corellian Hell away from it!" He looked down at the two padawans, "You two don't just stay there any ideas!"
He did not think they would have long to deliberate. "How many of you know telekinesis? I do. I am going to try to slow the walls while we think. If any of you, that means you too Ender, can help do so now!" Magos dropped his saber onto the floor still lit, and let loose as much of his power as he dared to spare into the collapsing walls. Groaning he called, "Even if this doesn't get us long, someone try the door, lift it if you can!" His head spun with adrenaline and fear, which he hoped would increase his connection to the heady energies of the dark side. He inaudibly mouthed a prayer to the Sith of Old as he strained, knowing well that there spirit were dead as the ash in this cruel worlds air.
Let this not be the end oh Lords of Old,
I come to honor and not to desecrate,
Spare me your culling wrath this day,
lead us to strength and break our chains,
Oh Vader, lord of this domain,
have clemency on us mere maggots,
within Momin's cruel geometry,
let Corvax watch over us near her glade,
that we answer your clarion call.
The noise of stone scraping along stone bit through Somms very being and a feeling of dread filled him. The pressure at the back of his head, that oppressive feeling of malice that had weighed on him now pushed onto him harder than ever. The Gungan was speaking quickly, obvious panic was setting into all of them. His thoughts swirled in his head and he closed his eyes hard, forcing himself to focus, to slow his breathing. Fear was overtaking him, he had never been in a situation like this, where death was this impending. He didn't want to die. The more he focused on his fear the louder the walls seemed to be, the more oppressive atmosphere of the room became, and as his thoughts descended into chaos there was one thing that seemed to be an island of calm.
In his head he recited the Code "Emotion, yet peace. Ignorance, yet knowledge. Passion, yet serenity. Chaos, yet harmony. Death, yet the Force."It worked and he opened his eyes. His breathing slowed and his mind righted itself, though the oppressive pressure was still there, pounding at the back of his mind. The Gungans last question cut through his moments peace and brought him back to their shared peril.
"I know Telekinesis" He called out over the growing din of stone on stone. He took a few quick paces forward and stood next to the human who had walked towards the door. He reached out with the force and started to attempt to move the stone door. It was heavy, heavier than any object he had ever tried to lift. Somm thrust out both arms, the effort making them shake. Through gritted teeth he growled out to the other two "Help me!"
The letters and symbols momentarily took Xander's attention and so he didn't notice the Sith approach, despite the clear warning.
Thoughts rushed through his head.
Writing means communication. Communication means other people.
His train of thought was interrupted by the Gungan accusing them of inaction.
That... He censored his internal prejudice somewhat... Creature sure does spout a lot of hot air
He did not make his scorn known externally, however, before thinking further.
This is not mechanical, pushing it won't work. If the Sith can't read their own writings, we need to talk back.
Of course, Xander would not admit to himself that he was playing into all his own biases - against the Sith, against loud decisive action and against what he considered brute force; or that if he was proven wrong by successful telekinesis in the meantime, he had not declared openly his scorn for the strategy.
Instead, he reached down into the force - at this moment in time arrogant enough that he could face full on any darkness he was sure to find and shouted, with supernatural depth:
The walls continued forward, slowed somewhat by Magos' use of the Force. It would feel like the weight of a mountain on his mind as he continued to keep the walls at bay. It had bought them some time, but the strain would be evident on the Gungan.
Xander, taking a different approach, called out into the dark abyss and it answered as a wave of pain and anguish washed over the group. The sound of a pained breath being taken in and exhaled through a ventilator filled the room. The power surged in the room, the walls pressing harder against Magos. A single word spoke in the darkness, seemingly coming from nowhere and everywhere at once. "Death." it spoke. Out of the corner of their ways, the group might notice a glimpse of a charred figured in the most shadow-filled areas of the room, but if they turned to investigate it would be gone.
As Ender tried to wrestle control of the door, the surge of power in the room rebounded on him. Invisible chains turned back on the owner, ensnaring him. Pain would flair in the man's mind as black chains writhed around him before he finally burst into flames and disappeared within a matter of seconds, leaving behind only the smell of burnt flesh.
Somm reached out, using the Force to try and lift the heavy ancient stone blocking their way. The door quaked slightly as a large red symbol lit up on the door. As hard as he tried, the door didn't budge under his effort alone.
Ender found himself in utter darkness, smothered by an overpowering sense of hatred. A searing heat cut through his limbs before the whole of his body was engulfed in flames. No matter how much he screamed, how much he tried to escape, there was nothing in this place but endless agony and suffering. His mind lost all meaning of time. Unsure if he was there for seconds or millennia, he would finally find himself barely conscious on the side of the barren hill outside. His body was intact but his mind riddled with the aftereffects of the torture he endured in that darkness. The strain would be too much, and he would find himself in and out of consciousness.
I want to reiterate this again, all participants have 48 hours from now to post. You all may post in any order that you see fit as long as its done within the collective 48 hours. Failure to do so will get your character removed from the thread along with other potential negative outcomes. Thanks.
Agony, unbridled agony. Words could not describe it.
Magos croaked: "Keep ... at it ... fools!" His mind screamed in pain, much longer and he would surely swoon. He held back a sob. He would die with dignity at least. "Mesa ... I ... cannot hold .... sob ... it much longer." Magos felt a blood vessel in his nostril rupture and felt the metallic fluid drip down his bill.
He heard a shuttering breath from the darkness and saw a mortally wounded figure "Death." it had declared. Lord Vader.But how!? The spirits of his gods were dead. An increasing agony rushed across his mind, he could feel blood drip from his ears. "Door .... red .... help ... me with ... the walls .... cannot hold .... much longer!"
Suddenly, Ender was consumed by the darkness and seemingly evaporated in the searing heat f the situation. "ENDER!" Magos screeched. This all seemed to be coming apart around him. Vader was right, he would likely only experience death here. He agonized mind shifted to Ember, the Jedi who promised to show him Kloss. That'll likely not happen will it? Red covered one of his eyes as a another vessel broke inside its stalk. "Hope ... your ready .... Jedi ... I .... ca ... cannot ... hold .... ANY LONGER!"
With a final bellowing roar he pushed back at the walls and the door with all he had and collapsed to the ground, not unconscious but prone. He pulled himself up, hoping that the young Jedi would take his turn. He stood up shakily. Death. Lord Vader had told them that. Or he had said he was Death. What powers remain that we have not tried? The young human had simply talked, and the Lord gave answer. Maybe he would respond better to a kindred dark sider. Wait, Ember! Lord Vader was once a Jedi and some said that he died one. He had an idea.
"You, the human, even if you do not formally know the art, focus your power on the door alongside me. The Lord of this domain has a claim to both our noble paths, let us open the way together, if he will have us. We get a red you stop and I'll keep at it!" Light and Dark.
Magos let the pain and misery of his body fuel him. He knew that he may as well be destroying his mind and body, but it sure beat being crushed like a yaro shrimp in a can.
Pain. Pain and exhaustion like nothing Somm had ever felt before coursed through him. His arms were shaking, his mouth clamped tight shut with the effort of continuously trying to lift the door. He could feel the tension of his muscles against his bones and the pressure of his own jaw on his teeth. It felt as if every bone, from his fingers to his shoulders were fracturing, bit by bit, with long, drawn out pain.
The walls were closing in, inch by inch, the sound of his impending death was that of stone on stone. He could feel his strength failing him and he knew he couldn't lift this door alone. The fear that had been welling up in him became a torrent, any control Somm had maintained was lost. He was afraid, completely afraid of dying like this, of being crushed in the dark with no hope of ever being found. Tears stung his eyes as he thought of his family and his friends that he would never see again.
"Help me" was all that he was able to weakly push from his throat as he turned to look at the human Sith who stood beside him. He could feel the pressure he was exerting on the door weakening and he wanted to beg the man to help, to at least try. The words never came, but even if they had it wouldn’t have done anything, as the man burst into flames. For a few seconds the room was brightly lit by the human torch at its centre and then he was gone, leaving nothing but ash and the stink of charred flesh.
The door slid closer and closer, they were no longer strong enough to hold the door at bay and soon it would be their demise. Weakness would be culled.
As the wall was just seconds from crushing bone to dust, they all turned their attention on the door. As each poured their focus towards it, more characters lit up, flashing a bright red before finally completing a circle of the ancient text that covered the wall.
The walls stopped their progress inwards and then slowly started to recede. As they did so, the stone door began to roll to the side like a giant tomb revealing a great desert beyond.
There was a large camp of tents in the distance, barely visible creatures wandering about within. The anger from earlier faded, replaced by this feeling great of desperation that would urge each of them forward. When they made their way through the stone door, they would turn to find it no longer there and only the vast desert around them.
@Ventrik Storm was exploring the upper parts of fortress and was separated from the others when the cave-in occurred. He would feel the waves of emotions the others had felt through their whole experience but they would seem like an echo or faint whisper.
As he moved from one room to next there was a blinding light as he moved through a doorway and he found himself with the other three in a vast, seemingly unending desert. The emotions of this place would crash down on top of him
The feeling of sorrow and desperation grew for the four of them much as rage had earlier. It was then that they would each here the yell of someone close to them, whether if it was a parent, friend, or other loved one they would hear the person scream in agony. Even though the camp was some distance off, they would hear the screams clearly.
Ventrik was methodically examining every corner that he could find in the upper area of the massive fortress when he first heard it, although he felt more than he heard. First, he felt the shock, it felt so far away, yet so close at the same time. It was as if he had suddenly fallen a great distance into an abyss of nothingness. After this, he experienced the sudden echo of desperation and anguish, as if the walls themselves were closing in around him, trapping him eternally, sucking the will out of him as they drew nearer. He thought that he felt the presence of one of his companions being snatched away suddenly, without mercy or care, as if the fortress itself had grown tired of waiting for him to die. Then he felt nothing again, looking around he realised he had not moved an inch, whatever had just taken place, it had not happened to him...
Wherever he walked, he had an itch in the back of his neck, as if there were cold dark eyes following his every movement, waiting for him to lower his guard before striking. Behind his helmet, he could feel it. This fortress knew pain, it knew suffering, and above all else, it knew how to punish. Ventrik could sense this, he could feel this within his very core, his grip tightened on the blood-red lightsaber in his hands. Enough with these damn games, where do I need to go!? As if by command, a sudden flash of light, brighter than the Echani's silver eyes engulfed him entirely, he could feel some unearthly power surrounding him. As if blinded by the force itself, Ventrik felt himself spinning in and out of existence, unable to move, to cry out, to even feel.
In all his pain, Ventrik heard a voice cry out, a young girl screaming a name he had once known, Vorace! The cry was desperate. The voice sounded so familiar yet, through all his pain, he could not decipher who had screamed. VORACE! Please help me!
A moment later it was all gone, looking around he noticed that he had been transported to another part of the fortress. But no, this couldn't be, he was no longer in the fortress, he wasn't even surrounded by walls anymore, there was no roof, no solid floor. All around him there was only sand. Lost and confused, Ventrik looked around before noticing that he was no longer alone. Next to him, there were three others, only one of which he recognised as the Gungan he had seen earlier. He could feel the presence of the other two and knew that they were not friendly, he raised his lightsaber warily, "Gungan, who are these Jedi friends of yours?" His voice morbidly distorted through the voice processor in his helmet, "Do they seek to meet a quick end?" Although he had been rocked by the sudden transportation to his new destination, the three before him had clearly been through hell and back judging by their ragged appearances. Still, he would not lower his guard just yet.
And the as hope died, the door flung itself open and the scene shifted. A desert bleak and dark. Magos glanced around him and fell to a kneel, running the sand through his dry fingers. The Jedi had made it with him, but no sign of Ender. The man was probably dead, but so wills Brother Force. His reprieve was brief however.
"MAGOS! MAGOS!" A familiar voice called out, his mother. She was in agony it seemed. He was stuck with grief and despair, he had not scene her since joining the Eternal. "MAGOS! MAGOS! MAGOS!" This voice was Ember, the Jedi temptress guiding him toward the light. The woman had cast doubts on his path and had offered to meet him on Ajan Kloss to speak more. Guilt and despair filled his heart. This heresy betrayed the very essence of the Eternal, who he pledged his life too. The symbolism of the values was all two clear to him: 23, a very ill omen.
He was shocked awake by a new presence. Ventrik, another Eternal who had accompanied him in following the call. Upon the man's threat he snapped his blade back into his hands, from where it lay still lit in. Our brotherhood has no ill will toward their creed, and they have proven there worth, despite there young age. On the other hand, where have you been? Where are Edwast and Korsak?" He paused and coughed up a bit of blood. "We lost Ender, but so wills Brother Force it would seem." He glanced out at the distant village and back at the newcomer. Better question, "Where are we? I am fairly certain Lord Vader did not keep a desert world in his basement."
He turned to the young Jedi, "How are you two fairing? I have a bad feeling about that camp, but its the only way forward, So let us keep moving. The darkness called us here and it now calls us forward. Elan." He pulled himself up but did not stay his blade, e would do so when Ventrik did so. His leg screamed with an agony it had never had before. He channeled that pain into the dark side, certainly helped by the screams of his mother and potential mentor. Was this the Hell spoken of by Corellians?
Somm fell to his knees as his scream ebbed away. Instead of the hard stone of what had nearly been their tomb, his knees hit something soft. He could feel it shift slightly under his weight. He reached down and picked up a handful of sand, letting it run through his fingers. "Your friend, he’s gone, he" Somm paused as he addressed the Gungan "He burned and was gone" His voice trailed off, he had never seen such a raw and violent death before, it was an experience that he would never forget.
Somm stayed there on his knees, his arms felt like fire. He could move them, so he didn’t think anything was broken but each movement was an effort and was filled with pain. he wiped the remnants of his tears away on the sleeve of his robe and attempted to reach back into the force. It came willingly, but it felt different, sad. The rage that he had felt weigh on his very soul earlier was gone and had been replaced with the bitterest of sorrows, it was the pain of loss. A pain Somm recognised as one he had felt when his own mother had died, which had never really left him.
The sound of a lightsaber made him look up. A new figure was standing near them, another Sith judging by the blood red blade in his hand. They looked human, but Somm count tell what species they were due to the menacing helmet they wore. He seemingly ignored the two Jedi, though he trained his blade on them and questioned the Gungan.
A familiar voice drifted over the sands; it became louder until it settled on a scream. It seemed to eminate from the camp and was loud, even with the collection of tents so far away. The scream continued, punctuated by moments of silence and the groan of the deathly sick. "Somm" the voice was weak, thick with exhaustion. "Somm" it repeated weaker than before the scream began anew. When the voice started calling his name again the familiarity turned to clarity. "Mom" he croaked; his throat raw from his scream. When the screaming began a third time Somm scrambled to his feet, fighting his exhaustion and set off towards the camp.
Xander collapsed with the exertion as the walls ground to a halt.
When he came to moments later, the door had opened itself out into the desert ahead. He suspiciously allowed the remaining Sith to go ahead of him, lightsaber still drawn, but deactivated.
As he crossed the threshold, he heard a voice "Xander, you have forgotten who you are..."
Dad? He muttered to himself. Where are you?
As he was lost in these thoughts, another figure arrived and started addressing him and the other two survivors of the cavern.
When the other Sith defended him, he was confused by his apparent loyalty. Coupled with his father's voice echoing in his mind he was unsettled in his confidence in the Jedi teaching. His natural response to this, however, was to suppress this feeling. He promised himself he would revisit the train of thought at a less stressful time; who knows whether he would ever get round to it.
He therefore turned his mind to entirely pragmatic things.
"Yes, we're going to have to investigate that camp as it's the only sign of life. Perhaps there might even be water. Lead the way."
A moment after they had entered, or when they started moving towards the camp, the monsters within let out their own blood-curdling screams and they raised wicked-looking weapons and began to charge at the group.
As they approached, the monsters would like similar to the Tuskan Raiders of Tattooine but they were twisted nightmarish versions of the creatures. Some had massive claws, some had spike protruding from various spots all over their bodies, and the others had various other horrific appearances.
The exact size of the group was hard to determine, the sands seeming to kick themselves into a frenzy at the monster's screams. The group would have a handful of seconds to brace themselves for the oncoming attack as their visibility dropped as the san continued to whip about as if they were in a full-fledged sandstorm.
"Behind Me! Circle Up!" Magos roared as the freakish Tuskens stormed towards them. It had been far too long since he had been in battle, and the adrenaline drove off some of the despair he felp earlier. The red must seemed to literally come down, as one eye still bled. He pulled his saber ahead of him, in a Makashi stance. He angled the blade slightly upward ready to impale the spined monstrosity that barreled toward him.
He backed up a bit but did not meet the others eyes for even a moment. He hoped they would shrink the group for mutual defense. He worried the young Jedi would not be able to handle the terror, but her get from it. So was the will of Brother Force, and four was the number of death. He had faith their band would bring it to his enemies. A youthful passion filled him, and even as the despair crashed into it like a tsunami on Vandor-3.
"Brother Force is with us more than ever in these hellish shadows, ÉLAN!"
He planted his feet and glared at the brute, as the heady mix of experiences filled him.