Ask Not a Union but Subjugation

Alyse TiVarnus

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A few weeks had passed since the encounter on Coruscant, the finding of a student - one eager to learn the ways of the dark side, although there was an air of concern over just how quickly the young student had taken to embracing it. Whilst Manuk was taking great strides in learning to control and harness her abilities, there was perhaps more to learn in controlling the Force and the Darkside, rather than allowing it to control her student. In Alyse's eyes, the Force was little more than a power that served as a tool, nothing more and nothing less. The gifts of the darkside that feeds upon the raw emotion of it's wielder, whilst granted it's beneficiary power and strength beyond what their light sided counterparts could wield - came at a cost, the Darkside was ultimately a parasite, feeding on it's wielders emotions, corrupting and influencing them to forever keep it's hunger satiated, at the cost of the force user's sanity. The blonde haired Sith deemed that in order to resist the corrupting influence of the Darkside, one must have a stronger will than the Force itself, so that the Force serves the will of it's wielder, not the other way around.

In hope to demonstrate this, Alyse had brought the younger blonde to Zoph, a planet out in the remote regions of the Outer rim. A world that some five maybe six years ago the blonde Sith had once stepped foot upon the desolate world as she took her own first steps into her path as a Force user, whilst in reflection her own path was one that was filled with lies and deception - her student, Manuk's will not have that same the same underlying need to exploit her potential for her master's own gain. No Manuk will learn the ways of the Darkside and the Force so that she can rule over her own destiny.

Alyse's intent was for Manuk to find her kyber crystal, that would the be foundation of her lightsaber. It was one of the few things that Locura's training she could not fault, learning to wield a lightsaber, instilled the discipline to wield and control the Force effectively. Much as the events on Coruscant, would serve as the milestone of the moment that her student learnt to summon the Force to enact her will, the rite of passage that the Jedi would refer to as the Gathering, will serve as the milestone for Manuk's growing connection to the Force, one that will grant her a conduit through which to draw upon its power with greater efficiency. Whilst the Jedi would see the gathering as an occasion of a lifetime's union between the Force user and it's conduit, this will be the occasion where the young Sith initiate will subjugate the force attuned conduit to her will.

The dull whine of the ships engines resonated throughout the hull as they powered down, the ship perched upon a remote mountainous plateau - facing the opening of a cave complex that will take the two Sith to the vein of Kyber crystals. Pushing herself away from the flight console, Alyse rose up out of her chair and paced her way out of the cockpit and through the corridor towards the modest living accommodation within the scout ship. Her hand rapping against the closed door of the compartment that had became her student's quarters. "Come now Manuk, we have arrived" the blonde spoke out before stepping away from the door and reaching into her own compartment, summoning a black hooded cloak into her hand. "You may want to bring your cloak along with the chassis of your lightsaber" she added, before throwing the cloak over her shoulders and pulling the hood over her head.

Leaving Manuk to ready herself, the Sith Guardian made her way over towards the boarding ramp - keying into the control panel the opening sequence for the doors to open and lower the ramp. Stepping out and down the unfolding stairs, Alyse pulled the cloak tight against herself as the mountainous gales whipped at the flowing black fabric, the windchill cutting through her like a knife, forcing her skin to break out in goosebumps in reaction to the cold. Still despite the bitter cold, the air was rife with the power of the Force, the currents resonating strongly from the nexus that formed around the Kyber crystal deposits - it was to say the least intoxicating.
 
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Manuk Gagak

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As they travelled, Manuk did her homework. She always liked to portray the role of carefree, happy-go-lucky socialite – but that was then and this was now. She knew she had one shot at this and she was not going to fail. And it was not as if she was averse to hard work, on the contrary, she knew she was most productive when stretched and could set her mind to anything – as long as it interested her.

So, she knew they were heading to Zoph and she also knew it was in the Outer Rim Territories – and was famous for one thing and one thing only – Zophis crystals. Once upon a time it was where Jedi went to seek their kyber crystal. In a saber it was known to be powerful yet unstable.

It had only been a few weeks since she learned of her abilities – as she liked to think of them. She hoped she’d impressed upon her master that she was eager to learn and willing to sacrifice what was necessary to succeed. Failure, for Manuk, was not an option. She had found, she believed, her true calling and nothing – literally nothing – would get in her way.

Accessing the Force had been easier than she’d expected and she wondered how she hadn’t been able to channel it before. Control was still her weakness but she had made good progress on this side. She’d learned that, unlike the Jedi who saw their role as to serve the Force, the Sith quite rightly saw their place as controlling the Force. It served them, not the other way around, and Manuk was learning how to direct it to do her bidding. But her thirst for power was still blinding her as to the true nature of who controlled whom. It wasn’t that she didn’t listen to, or believe her master, but she – like perhaps so many before her – believed they had it all under control.

The planet was, to Manuk, of little consequence. She was – as ever – eager to progress and found travel an inconvenience, albeit a necessary one. But they had now landed and she dressed in her usual garb – all black – her leather body suit and boots now a matt finish, as was her hooded cloak. She now sported a utility belt and from it hung a training saber. Initially she had loved it but soon came to despise it – for it represented what she was and not what she aspired to be. She was an apprentice with a facsimile of the Sith’s preferred weapon.

Manuk peered outside through a small porthole in her cabin– it seemed entirely logical they would be going into the cave and her heart raced. Surely this meant her own crystal and therefore her own saber?

There came a knock at her door and her master informed her they had arrived – which to Manuk meant she should be ready to disembark immediately.

Her door opened moments later and the young blonde stepped out, her hood down and her hair tied back. In her pocket was the things she’d lovingly crafted for weeks that she had carried with her for just such an eventuality. She had shown it to nobody – not even her master – and patted the pocket that contained it before following her master down the boarding ramp and onto the planet.

She ignored the winds that attempted to tug her hair from its tie that held it in place. If she was cold, she didn’t register the fact. Instead she stared into the mouth of the cave – for she felt something calling to her. Something glorious and so special that she felt it only spoke to her.

“I am ready, Master,” she said – falling into step to the side and slightly behind Alyse.

@Topher
 

Alyse TiVarnus

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Oh how she hated that term!, whilst she knew that her ward wanted to convey and display respect to the elder Sith. The guardian couldn't help but take umbridge with the terminology, to her it implied servitude, an act that Alyse despised with a passion. "You can drop the title " Alyse spoke out as she cast a the young initiate an inquisitive look. "Master implies servitude, you serve and bow down to no one, other than yourself Manuk" she added, before a frown grew upon her features as a sudden gust swept over her, pulling the folds of her cloak free of her grasp. The long fabrics billowing in the wind, figuring that there was little point in trying to wrestle the cloak free from the influence of the winds.

Leading the younger Sith over towards and through the the threshold of the cave entrance, feeling a moment of relief wash over her as she felt the weight of the cape pull upon her shoulders, free from the influence of the mountainous gale. Alyse reached to her side for the moment, her fingers wrapping around the hilt of her lightsaber, as she freed her weapon from it's bindings to her belt. A sudden snap hiss erupted from the hilt as the cave was bathed in a rich purple hued light.

As the pair made their way through the winding cave network, Alyse started to gradually fall behind her student - whilst she knew that they would soon be entering the caverns where the crystal veins were located, it was pointless for her to lead the way now, if her own experiences from walking in the steps Manuk was currently taking, the Force attuned crystals will start pulling the initiate towards the one that was destined for her. For the time being, the blonde guardian was going to take a step back and allow for her ward to lead the way.
 

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Manuk did not take the reprimand personally. She had no issue with using the term Master to reflect a contract – one teaching and one learning. It did not, in her opinion, denote superiority, rank or status. They were equals in Manuk’s mind. They walked the same path – except Alyse was further along the road. One day Manuk might well catch her up – or even overtake her. Or die in the attempt.

The wind did not bother the young woman, she was focused and had eyes only for the cave ahead, although they were watering from the gusts that whipped into her face.

Finally they crossed the threshold and were in the cave proper and the wind immediately abated.

A snap-hiss told Manuk that Alyse had activated her saber a moment before the darkness ahead was illuminated with purple light.

As they walked, Maunk was initially behind her mentor before, without knowing it, she was alongside and then she was in front. Had she speeded up or had Alyse slowed? And did it matter? Like a magnet, the crystals pulled Manuk deeper and deeper.

From what Manuk had pieced together from accounts of such visits, to reach her crystal, she would be required to pass through visions and voices. Some may be terrifying. Others may be drawn from her past. They would no doubt represent her deepest fears. None of this bothered the young blonde. She had no abiding memories and could honestly not name a single fear. This should be, she believed, a relatively easy exercise.

As they walked, Manuk occasionally took stock of where they were. The walls of the cave were made of some black stone. The stone was smooth and shiny, but it swallowed light rather than reflected it. Entering the cave was a little like entering a void.

She thrust her hand in her pocket and felt the hilt of the saber she had crafted – and pressed on.

As her eyes became more accustomed to the darkness, she could now distinguish the shape of the walls around them and the stray rocks in their path.

Then, without warning, there was complete darkness. There was nothing – just blackness as dark as her surroundings. Then she saw light – blinding light – and when it receded, she was in a room. It was white and clinical. There were two beds – no they were cots – in the room and both contained a baby. Both were blonde and looked similar, and they had precisely the same hue of lilac eyes.

“The tests are complete,” a disembodied voice said, as there was no-one in the room but the infants. “Good,” it was a different voice. Older, but with an unmistakeable hint of authority. “Now split them up – as far apart as possible. Let the experiment truly begin.”

Her eyes snapped open. She felt cold and was aware she was sweating profusely, her brow dripping. Was that a dream? A premonition? Surely not a memory?

“Time will reveal the answer,” came her own voice. Except it was not an echo of a memory this time.

She looked to her mentor but the question remained unasked. She knew for a fact that it was a vision – and the start of whatever tests the crystal cave had for her.

@Topher
 

Alyse TiVarnus

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Silently the blonde Sith stood at the edge of the large cavernous chamber, her eyes narrowing as she observed her apprentice come to a standstill in her movements, a knowing smile crossing her features as she appreciated just what was taking place. The force attuned crystals were reaching into the mind of the Sith initiate, and seeking to disorientate and ward off the dark sider out from the caves. The one thing she had learned of the Kyber crystals was that they were naturally aligned to the lightside of the Force, and seemingly these visions were its sole means of defence - seeking to break the will of those who were not aligned with the Lightside, by facing them with visions of terror to drive them away. The biggest trial of course for a Sith looking to seek and claim their Kyber, was by demonstrating that their will was stronger than the crystal's.

Her gaze moved away from her student, and down towards the hilt that hung at the side of her waist. Her mind contemplating over the nature of her so called bond with her own Kyber crystal, for so long it had resisted her, and to a degree it still does, it was only after her half failed attempt at bleeding the crystal at the heart of her lightsaber that she was able to bend it to her will - enough for it to yield without having to fully become tainted by the darkside.

--

A deathly chill washed over the young blonde, the sound of a howling blizzard rushing through the caverns accompanied by the subtle groaning and creaking of the stone as the wind buffeted at the loose sand and gravel that had over of the years gradually eroded away - before the icy blast of air washed over the young blonde initiate. As the chilled wind rushed over the figure the darkness that surrounded her started to give way, the only form of visible light seemed to emanate from the slowly forming ice, a light blueish white hue running along the cracked fractals of the ice that was gradually surrounding the young woman.

The spreading ice form started to rise up infront of Manuk, forming at first a crystaline arch, that started to fill in with a shimmering reflective sheet of ice. That despite the darkness that surrounded the ice, and the young Sith initiate a shadowy figure could be seen on the other side of the glass like pane - the figure seemed to look as if it was drawing closer towards the dividing barrier, gradually revealing parts of the figure's exposed features that was touched by the light emanating out from the Ice.

At first it's fingers could be seen as the figure's hand raised up towards the dividing screen, its flesh pale, withered and gnarled - resembling what would be expected for a decaying and rotting corpse, with the skin looking as if it was hanging off of the bones it contained, fragile and prone to falling away at a moments notice. The decaying hand pressing against the dividing barrier by the tips of it's rotten fingers, lingering there for a few moments before drawing backwards towards the hood that enshrouded the shadowy figure.

As the hand drew back the hood, it gradually revealed the weathered features of the blonde initiate, her blonde hair mottled and greasy, the pits of her eyes darkened with the shadow of what could be summed up as several long years of sleepless nights, that within the centre of the sunken eye sockets a pair of bright amber hued eyes stared back at the young initiate, a wide sickening grin curling on the figures leathery features as it stared at Manuk, it's amber slit like eyes staring intently at the initiate. Before with little to no warning, the figure suddenly lurched forwards closer to the ice plane between them, it's weathered and rotten hand shattering through the barrier and reaching out for the initiate's neck.
 

Manuk Gagak

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Manuk knew she was with her mentor – but figuratively, she knew she was alone. Whatever she faced, whatever the caves had in store for her, she would face the challenge without any help. And she expected resistance – certainly if the rumours were to be believed. But then Manuk did not believe anything worth having came easy.

She flexed her muscles. The clothing she’d worn when she left Coruscant had long been discarded. To the naked eye, she looked no different – but the wiry youngster had gained quite a few pounds – and it was all muscle. And so the original skin-tight clothes no longer fit her. Only her cloaks remained from her original spending spree.

Manuk did not underestimate the challenge that lay ahead, but she had endured to get this far. Physically and mentally she had subjected herself to the punishing training – much of which she manufactured for herself.

Manuk felt it physically first. The temperature dropped and it was as if she was in some wind tunnel on Hoth! And the cold manifested itself. Slowly she felt the entire cave was being encased in ice.

Then an arch formed, although it was not open to walk through. It was in some ways a door and in others a mirror. But unlike a mirror, she could see through. Or was it some apparition? The young blonde remained stoic and steadfast and waited. For the prize she sought, she could be as patient as the cave wanted or needed her to be.

Then someone appeared on the other side of the ice-glass. Shadowy at first and then bodily parts were revealed.

It was a gruesome sight. Was it a decaying corpse or some afflicted human? Maybe it was someone so old that only the Force was keeping them alive? They looked so frail yet oddly so strong.

Finally one of the hands lifted and drew back what Manuk now saw was a hood. There was an obvious likeness. If that familiarity was born of sight or the Force, Manuk could not tell. But she recognised the figure as herself. A parody of herself, yes – but none the less, it was her.

Manuk stared at the creature – for she refused to call it what she sensed it wanted her to think it was. And as she did, it moved with lightning speed and the ice-glass shattered as a bony hand snaked out to grab Manuk’s throat.

She had been prepared to accept the fear. But she could not do it. If she breathed it in, it would fill her lungs and choke her.

The spectre-Manuk’s hand stopped a fraction of a second before it touched her throat.

“Did I startle you?” it cackled. “Did I…frighten you?” The figure now stepped through the archway and began to circle around Manuk. “Perhaps you’d be better off as a Jedi. Maybe the AgriCorps?”

Rage pumped through Manuk now.

She reached for her training lightsaber, but it flew out of her hand.

The spectre laughed. “A child’s toy.”

“Why do you fear your fear?”
the spectre asked. In a casual gesture, she activated her own lightsaber. “Why do you fear your fear? I can feel it. You fear me. It is natural. After all, I am what you will become. Are you still sure it will be worth the sacrifice?”

With a raged scream Manuk called the training saber to her hand and threw herself at the spectre. Their lightsabers tangled. Their faces were close. He could smell the spectre’s foul breath.

“You see?” Manuk’s enemy purred. “You see what fear can do? It gives you power. It is something you can use, like a weapon. You thought the same thing a moment ago. You can twist your fear into a weapon. Make fear your ally?”

The words seemed so enticing that Manuk was utterly seduced. How was this a test?

“And the greatest fear of all is that your search for power and glory will make you become what you see before you.”

The spectre stepped back. “See my hair? Not the locks of some veteran Sith. Five years. I give you five years before you regret your decision.”

“No,”
Manuk said, stepping into the fray once more and clashing sabers. “I will learn to control the Dark side. It will never control me.”

“Fool,”
the spectre hissed. “It is the only way and to say different makes you more pathetic than you already appear.”

“It isn’t power or glory I seek,” Manuk said, her lightsaber tangling with the Sith’s again.

“Then you lie,” the spectre said, stepping back once more. “How else will you ever be able to control the Force if you do give yourself to it?”

Fear surged again. Manuk whirled, her lightsaber circling, her body flowing as if in a dance. The blow passed through the spectre.

The spectre laughed. “I am just a vision. Your vision. I am the fear you secretly want to ignore. I am the one who can deliver to you what you most desire at a price you refuse to pay.”

“No!” Manuk screamed. She launched herself forward. But every attempted blow was met with ease and finally, Manuk’s lightsaber went spinning from her hand and clattered some way down the tunnel.

Then she felt the Force move against her body and she flew through the air and hit the cave wall. Her head hit the hard stone and she slid down. When her head cleared, she found herself sitting on the floor.

@Topher
 
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Alyse TiVarnus

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Leaning against the rock wall of the Kyber cave, her arms folded tight against her chest, holding the fabric of her cloak tight against her to try and trap as much heat as possible - the blonde Sith observed in silence, an Inquisitive eye brow arching up as Manuk ignited her training saber. Pursing her lips in thought the Sirh watched as their student swung the blade of her weapon about, her form had come along quite a long way since those initial steps, the younger Sith's eagerness to perfect her craft had certainly been made abundantly clear - with all the solo moon light sessions she would embark on in Bakura, whilst Alyse on the other hand remained in her estate pouring over tomes and manuscripts of forgotten wisdom. Yet for all the finesse the student was displaying, the Sirh couldn't help but wonder as to the intensity of the fight she was having in her vision - as from her perspective and possibly to those who were unaware of what was going on, it would look pretty strange with the apprentice giving her all against thin air.

Depite the focused and aggressive attacks, Alyse could read into what was happening with her students mind. She could feel the surging anger and frustration emanating from the young blonde, the darkside wrapping around her being like a thick miasma, seeping into her pores and burrowing its way deeper into the young woman's essence. The Guardian couldn't help but frown, as she could sense that what ever Manuks vision was, it was starting to weaken her will as it tried to lure her in with the whispered sweet nothings of the darkside. Yet despite all that there was a resistance, the initiate hadn't given in just yet as she continued to fight.

A sudden clattering sound to her side, forced the Guardian to snap her face away from her student. Her chestnut hued eyes focusing in on the disengaged hilt of the training saver as it rolled to a standstill on the cave floor, before her attention shifted round to her student, who was being lifted off the ground by an invisible entity. Lingering mid air for a moment before being unceremoniously tossed like a rag doll across the chamber. Holding her hand out, Alyse projected the Force around her student, to soften and dampen the blow of the impact against the cave wall, not wanting to have the poor lasses head cracked open against the rock face.

A light sigh escaped her lips as she closed her eyes and actively started to channel the Force to her will. The dark energies at the guardians command swirling though her like a thundering storm, before falling still as the focused and tempered. Taking a deep breath, alyse opened her eyes revealing milky white orbs devoid of any features, before stepping into the cave, her hand reaching out to the side and summoning the training saber into her grasp. With each step further into the cave she could feel the sentient crystals react to her presence, their subtle vibrations resonating through the Force as the guardian approached deeper into the crystal chamber, headed towards her ward.

Kneeling down beside the young blonde, Alyse reached down to her belt, retrieving pellet capsule holder and handing it to her dazed student. "Here Manuk, take these, they'll help recoup your strength" Alyse spoke as she cast a cautionary eye over her students body just to be sure that there was nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. "Now, explain what you encountered in your vision"
 

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As her mentor approached, Manuk sensed the spectre was close by — but could not see her. Was it just her imagination, or the Kyber crystals playing with her mind? Did it matter?

Absent-mindedly, she took the capsules and swallowed them, her eyes looking past her mentor and into the darkness.

“Fear,” she said after a short silence. “I saw fear. My fear. Fear that in accepting the Dark side I shall cease to be me. To become some hideous parody of myself. Some aged hag long before my time.”

Now she looked into her mentor’s face. She stared deeply into her eyes. “You warned me and so did I. I mean, the spectre I saw, the vision…it was me. The spectre showed me my greatest fear — success but at a price. Yet…” Her eyes unfocused and she stared into the darkness again, “Yet as much as I refuse to believe it to be true, I don’t care. I would trade my looks for control of the Force. I sense that is what the spectre saw. That embracing my fear, in channelling it, I can achieve whatever I want to achieve. Otherwise I will hold back and fail. And if not fail, at least fall short of being the best I can be.”

Once again her eyes returned to her mentor’s face and she clumsily rose to her feet. “I read it somewhere…” She took a deep breath and her voice was now steady and calm. “I must turn my fear to my own advantage. I must transform the fear into anger and hate. For hatred will give me strength, and strength will give me victory.”

“Fear is my ally,”
she said, boldly. “Fear is my ally,” she repeated, louder again. “I do not seek glory, but I do seek power. And the Dark side will bend to my will. Not today and not tomorrow, but soon enough. With your tutelage and my focus, I shall endure.”

@Topher
 

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For what must be a surprissing reaction, Manuks works were meet with sympathy, - well it would be surprising if your expectations of the Sith were based on the bias that the Jedi would spout., making the welders of the darkside out to be uncaring monsters who coveted power. But for Alyse she was human and could relate to her young student, the fear that the darkside would take its toll eand wither the body till it was nought but a husk of its former self was an understandable one. Kneeling down beside her student, Alyse offered a light smile. "It's only an illusion, the Kybers are aligned to the lightside of the Force, they will prey upon your insecurities and fears to pull you away from walking the path of darkness" Aylse explained. Her gaze holding firm with that of Manuk's, "From birth I had been groomed and brought up to embrace all aspects that feed one's connection to the darkside, I have lived my live forever in its shadow, beyond the phasing of my eyes, little of my appearance has been corrupted" she added with a light pat on her students shoulder.

The Guardians lips pursed for a moment as she mused on the source of the text that her ward had loosely recited, it was an albeit very abridged varient of the tenants that Empress Andraste had penned during the founding of the Sith. "What I suspect you have read is what is one of the Sith Codes, and you are right, fear is one of the key elements that drives all life forwards, fear of the unknown makes us cautious, fear of obscurity makes us change, fear of loosing a loved one makes us fight tooth an nail to protect them" Alyse reasoned, before she turned her gaze over towards the interior of the crystal chamber that sat in front of them. "Embracing that fear, like all natural emotions is what gives us the strength to grow and better ourselves, lift ourselves above all others. It is what makes us evolve, the lightside of the force would have you live in unison with Its will, it would see you as its servant" she added as her gaze returned away from looking at the crystals, a light curling at the edge of the lips as she could still feel them react to her dark presence.

"That is why I ask for you not to call me master, you serve and answer no one but yourself, not even the Force" Alyse spoke as she pushed herself back upto off her knees and standing upright, and offering a hand to help her student back onto her feet. "Mastery over others is strength, but mastery of yourself is true power" she added, giving her student a reassuring smile. "Your fears, desires, emotions and even the Force, they all serve you. You only need but your strength of will to take control of what is rightly yours" Alyse concluded, raising up the training saber she had recovered after Manuk had dropped it. But not to offer it for her student to take up once again, but to purposely toss it into the tunnel that lead to the crystal chamber.
"If you haven’t the will to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it gives you" the blonde Sith spoke as she stepped aside and moved away from her student, moving out of the crystal chamber so to allow Manuk to re-engage with the Force crystal's manifestations
 
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Manuk’s eyes continued to flick between her mentor and the darkness of the cave. It was not paranoia, she knew it. She expected the unexpected and did not want to be caught unawares. But she listened to Alyse and nodded regularly to register her understanding and agreement.

She wondered how much of the corruption was due to the crystals messing with her mind and how much was the truth. And would she ever be able to tell the two apart until it was proven to be a falsehood – or it was too late?

“I am nobody’s servant,” Manuk said, somewhat fiercely. “But I accept you are giving of yourself to teach me, and I respect that,” her voice was softer now, the edge gone. “I do not see respect and servitude as one and the same – and as I say, will embrace the former and reject the latter.” She stared defiantly into the dark, as if issuing a challenge – her chin raised slightly.

She took Alyse’s hand and stood. She nodded at the concept of mastery of self as being critical. “I am in charge, not only of my surroundings, but myself. I dictate the terms.” The words were more a statement of intent than of current fact, but the meaning was clear – Manuk was not going to be anyone’s puppet, even the Dark side of the Force.

She stepped forward and suddenly felt the temperature drop – so much so that her breath condensed as she exhaled.

“The Dark side can deliver what you most desire,” a voice whispered in her ear. Her own voice, but not issued from her lips. “Yield to me and you can have your every desire fulfilled.”

Manuk summoned inner depths of strength. “I have created you. I can make you go. I do not need you.”

Manuk felt icy breath on her cheek, but when she turned her head, she saw nothing. Then she heard laughter that descended into maniacal cackling. She wanted to speak, she wanted to cry out. She wanted the noise to stop. It was inside her head.

But she remained tight-lipped and kept her mind clear – and slowly, but surely, the laughter abated.

“Do you think you have won? Do you think this little show of strength, of self-control is meaningful?”

Manuk smiled. “Who is fearful now? Come on, do your worst. You no longer frighten me. No…you no longer even interest me.”

There was a long pause and then a quiet voice spoke inside her head. “A minor victory. Have your crystal. But I will return. For you see, I am not a manifestation of the cave. I dwell inside you.”

Manuk felt the presence disappear and there was only blackness.

She sat on the floor of the cave. She took the hilt from her pocket and disassembled it onto her lap. She looked down and noticed she held a crystal in her palm. It had a strange warmth.

Accessing the Force was not difficult for her, even now. She felt it rise around her from the dirt and rocks and air, and especially from the crystal itself.

Time passed and Manuk could not have rightly shared how long she believed it took. But her eyes opened and she felt a strange blend of satisfaction and tiredness. She felt as if she’d dredged every ounce of the Force from the vicinity, amplified it with her personal pain, anger and yes, fear, and poured it into the crystal. She felt as if it was part of her now – and felt unlike any training saber she’d ever held. They felt alien to her. Cold. This, on the other hand, was an extension of her.

She held out her hand and the completed hilt was there. She turned it in her hand and gripped it. It was a perfect fit. She activated it, and the shaft of the laser glowed crimson.


@Topher
 

Alyse TiVarnus

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Withdrawn back into the shadows and away from the presence of the Kyber crystals within the cave, the blonde haired guardian observed once again as her ward stepped forwards into the centre of the cave's chamber. Her Chestnut hued eyes narrowing as she watched the young blonde stand strong in the presence of the rudimentary sentience of the kyber crystals. She was stronger, and far more confident than she had been from when she had first fallen into the crystal's trance - whether it was the loss of her weapon, or perhaps the words of reinforcement and guidance offered by the Guardian, but the presence carried an air of outright determination.

Folding her arms accross her chest as she leaned against the surface of the rock, she continued to observe her student as she silently turned about, her mouth moving as she engaged in a wordless conversation with whatever apparition had returned before her. And then, there was stillness, Manuc's motions had fallen into nothing, as if held out for a dramatic pause before some climatic conclusion. But yet it would only pass to the young blonde student kneeling down onto the ground, taking a few steps forward so to get a better look, and to make sure that she was unharmed.

Alyse's movements were cut short as she could see from her revised angle a small crimson crystal held within the young woman's palm. The moment of concern had then turned into curiosity, the sight of the blood red Kyber whilst not uncommon given the social circles that she kept among - it was the matter that it had been bleed upon Manuk's aquiring of it. Raising a hand up to clasp the contours of her mouth, her mind falling into contemplation, over as to how the Kyber that her student possessed had yielded so readily - her thoughts and recollections going over the countless tomes and scriptures she had poured over during her decade of studying the Darkside and the Force, all whilst the young blonde girl constructed her own weapon.

Her attention was pulled out of her thoughts and back to the cave as the hissing sound of a lightsaber's ignition echoed within the crystal chamber, that was now awash with a crimson hued light. A grin curling at the edge of her lips as she looked over her student and her newly crafted weapon, her hand reaching off behind her to summon the discarded training saber into her grasp. "Congratulations Manuk" Alyse spoke out, offering her ward a respectful nod at the young woman's achievement. "You now have your own true lightsaber that...." she continued, only pausing for a moment as she closed her eyes and breathed in sensing the currents of the Force around her. "...is clearly attuned to your presence and most importantly to your will, to many of our Kin they would see it as nothing more but a weapon, but it is also a conduit that will allow for you to draw deeply upon the Force" she concluded, with a slight smirk curling at the edge of her lips.

Slowly raising her hand out towards her student, carrying the retrieved training saber and offering it to the younger blonde. "Your training blade, whether you wish to keep or destroy it, the choice is yours" Alyse added, whilst her gaze shifted briefly away from her student to look at the weathered and battered training saber.
 

Manuk Gagak

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Manuk was physically and emotionally drained. In such circumstances, she was invariably guarded. To show weakness was not something she ascribed to — yet Alyse was her mentor and also far more powerful than her. So it was entirely reasonable to expect the older woman could see and sense these facets of Manuk right now. Lying, to pretend they were not so, was futile and arguably disrespectful.

But to talk of her exhaustion might sound petty and weak, so she decided to leave the matter unsaid.

She twirled the saber and closed her eyes as she did so. The connection was so different to the training sabre she’d previously used. This was truly an extension of herself, not some tool to be used. She found the undulation of the energy fascinating. Unlike her training saber, which glowed in a constant yet controlled manner — like some domesticated beast, this was by contrast feral. In a way, it contrasted her her own demeanour — which was smooth and silky. But the raw energy she could relate to and perhaps, she mused, the contrast was apt. She was to the average person a young blonde girl and hardly a threat. But once she accessed the Force, she was deadly and something to be reckoned with.

She opened her eyes and glanced down at the training saber. “That represents a part of my life that is in the past. I never look back and I never regret. Thus the saber reflects something I shall not dwell on and therefore I have no use for.”

She paused and her nose wrinkled. “However,” she added, “one day I shall take an apprentice and I can pass this on as their training blade. Akin to passing on a baton. Thank you.”

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