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Ziost


Tarrian Skywalker

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The quest for paradise was not the discovery of a holy land where every need was tended to and every want satisfied. It was a peculiar concoction of drive, vision, and competence that led one to build an admittedly flawed simulacrum of your paradise. There would always be things that escaped true understanding on the level that they could be definitively communicated, ideas and concepts that demanded by their nuance and unattainability to live in the realm of story and art, the source of the imperfections. To the architects of heaven, philosophy and knowledge of the occult underworkings of the galaxy were as vital as masonry and engineering. But to hold that lofty aspiration dear is often to associate so heavily with the higher truths and principles that you forget that your foundations are built and maintained in the realm of the physical. 

 

The dream of ascendancy alone would not keep the night chill from ravaging them.

 

The shattered remains of the ancient Sith capitol may have conjured images of what has been, but its skeletal embrace lacked the life and warmth that the Sith clinging to it so desperately sought. They were told that they were special. They were told that they were invincible. They did not comprehend that their masters were speaking of their potential and not their inherent worth.

 

To Darth Idrija’s understanding, the initial vanguard of Sith had been on Ziost for months, yet even the most basic of utilities had yet to be constructed. She had doubted when she had heard Dark Lady Nyrys’s plan to surrender control of the galaxy, but now as she saw the Sith utterly broken when divorced from their mighty bastions of power, she understood. The core of her people had grown rotten through the fermentations of ease, plenty, and utter dominance. From that cauldron oozed a fetid swamp of offal and untended corpses that had already been claimed by the planet’s plummeting temperatures. All the while many of the Sith gazed enraptured upon this new Dark Lady, an ancient Sith rumored to have been released from a timeless prison from ages past.

 

Perhaps Darth Calypso was a phantom of their past, another tribulation sent to test the worth of the Sith. The nostalgic vision she promised drew many, but it was nought but words, and her dominion over it stilled the hands of all others who might contribute to the efforts of rebuilding. Darth Idrija would not entrust her dreams so futilely to the empty promises of others.

 

Moving with purpose, she came upon a refugee camp of thralls captured during the battle of Nar Shaddaa. They were untended, but the desolation of the planet was a jailer without compromise. No doubt their would be masters had abandoned them to go strut and peacock in front of the new Dark Lady in hopes of securing favor and authority. Power gifted rather than earned was power lent, and she spit on the Sith that sought such temporary boons. She made herself known to the camp.

 

Maybe if they weren’t starving and half frozen to death there may have been some mad spark of resistance left, but unlike the delusional Sith there was no legacy of power to numb them from the reality of the situation. They were truly and utterly defeated, the light in their eyes replaced with vacant hollows, the motions of life echoed in habit but not any desire to survive. They would not raise their hands against her, they would only hope for a sudden end that they could blame another for. In one smooth motion she caressed the throat of one of the refugees with her blade, and his feeble pulse struggled to expel his blood in the usual spray. In the end there was a look that might have been gratitude.

 

She thrust her index and pointer fingers into the wet fleeting warmth of his throat wound and wiggled them to coat their surface with blood. The blood wasn’t a necessary component of the ritual, but she had left her pen on her ship and didn’t feel like going back. One by one she marked the remaining survivors with profane sigils that bore names and curses of binding, occasionally returning to the dead man for another coating of blood. When the lot of them were marked she willed the darkness to lure wicked spirits and contain them momentarily in these broken prisons of flesh. In millennia past, sorcerers would offer the finest, most fit mortals to house the darkness, believing it worth worshiping and offering tribute. She took particular pleasure in binding them to such lame and unremarkable mortals, for it was her will that they were to serve. 

 

“I require a forge and the restoration or installation of basic utilities in the city. The sooner you complete these tasks the sooner I release you back into whatever pit you crawled out of. Fail me in this and you will rot inside those bodies for deathless eons.”

 

The possessed growled and bristled, but in the face of her power what could they do but obey? They set to their purpose with preternatural strength and uncanny understanding of the physical sciences to restore at least some measure of Ziost. Darth Idrija would not die enraptured by false salvation, she would craft her own.

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The heat of the forge offered a welcome refuge from the encroaching chill of the frozen tundra, but Darth Idrija was grateful to have experienced the bitter cold first. Having come from a city planet the concept of temperature extremes had once been an alien to her, as every aspect of life was controlled and moderated to be inoffensive. Such unwavering comfort was a soporific for the soul, an insidious numbness that bred acceptance and indifference like vermin. The feeling of one extreme gave perspective on its opposite.

 

While the city’s utilities had long ago fallen into a state of disrepair, the structures largely had remained intact. Her forge was set up in the gutted remains of a restaurant, once the infrastructure was restored the various hookups in the kitchen area would be useful to her craft, and the inherent tiered nature of its design also served her future needs. She had spent most of the day melting down and shaping glass from silicates that her bound servants had gathered, weaving spells and curses into the panes so that they would withstand the elements and rebuke any fool that sought to trespass through them. She could have had the possessed do it, but there were more urgent things for them to address, and the idea of playing a part in restoring the place herself appealed to her.

 

She scanned the room furtively for a moment, both with her eyes and her more occult senses, before taking out a leatherbound journal from her satchel. She carefully unlocked each of the eight seals and in whispered chants subdued the cursed string as she unwound its grasp on the book. Thumbing through the pages to a silk marker about a quarter of the way into the journal, Idrija found the divide between her prior work and the virgin potential of blank paper.

 

While she was no cryomancer the understanding of cold was useful in her work, both as a contrasting definer of heat and as an option for satisfying requests of future clients that might want weapons with gelid sorceries. Her pen glided across the paper in flowing script, although in this particular case static lines and dots heavily presented themself in the transcription, a reflection of the stillness of cold. It lacked the beautiful fluidity and unconstrained energy of fire, instead a buttoned up prudishness that's defining characteristic was lack. It was off putting in isolation, its only value to her in disparity.

 

She turned the page and began a new entry, this time using the interplay of stillness and motion to heighten the extremes. The formula was too unstable, at least in this unrefined form, to be used on a melee weapon but it would be a useful application for lanvarok disks. Darth Idrija was short on enemies to shoot at, but why wait for a fight to get ready for it?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The pyromancer waved her hand over the ink, drying it rapidly, before closing the journal and carefully rebinding and sealing it. Her unexpected guest was a Sith, most likely a warrior judging by the armor he wore, too heavy for any other breed of her kin. She could feel its weight even before she saw him. She rose from her cross legged sitting position with her back to him in a slow and smooth movement, too fast and she might have come across as intending aggression, too furtive and it might have suggested fear.

 

“Just like any young woman looking to find fame and romance in a new city, I used dark sorcery and blood sacrifice. I refuse to die waiting for a shared delusion to birth itself into reality like those other fools who were never weaned off of their mother’s milk. If you seek such succor here, I have no interest in providing it to you, this is a place only for those that find value in their own measure.”

 

She turned to regard him and saw signs of a warrior tested, his armor showing the kinds of wear and damage that suggested having seen real combat.

 

“But you don’t look to be that kind of fool.”

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Darth Idrija scrutinized the Sith carefully. Her order within the Sith had always enjoyed favorable relationships with the warrior caste, cultivating a shared love of fire and steel. Warriors were akin to sharks in biology, holding close to tradition because their traditions were so effective that there was rarely a need to evolve. Such a person could help anchor the Sith back to their philosophy of breaking chains rather than deluding them into thinking that being a Sith means that your chains are already broken.

 

“I will grant you this boon, on the condition of a black sacrament to prove your devotion to this course. Divest yourself of your arm so that I may forge you a weapon made of your own essence. Or I can remove it for you, I have the means to perform a swift dismemberment. I do not have any intention of handicapping your bid for the throne, by all means replace it as it suits you, but I do require proof of the courage of your convictions.”

 

The Crucible Sage examined the stock of slaves that the man who would be king provided, discerning their worth one by one as potential fuel for the forge. Most of them were the middling products of a world that chained itself to mediocrity and unconditional acceptance, but there were a few notables and one peculiarity. Normally the Force revealed the potential of people to her, but this woman was naught but scars and infected wounds, piled atop each other and draining the soul like cancerous tumors.

 

“These are suitable vessels for my work, but I would like to hold on to this one, its spiritual state is of interest to me, and studying it might grant me greater insight into my craft.”

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“I have no intention of killing you, Ninûshwodzakut. I prefer to spend the lives of the dull and mediocre, and you are neither. Is there anything that you want from the corpse of that would be Sith? In the faith of this place murder is an assertion of conquest, and strength is rewarded with the pillager’s bounty. This place is full of weak vessels thinking that calling themselves Sith entitles them to greatness. Cull the weak and bring me their bodies, and I will bestow upon you a boon, as power belongs to those willing to seize it.”

 

Darth Idrija barked orders alloyed with her iron will at the other thralls, and they cried and shrieked as they unwillingly marched themselves to the forge’s kiln. It was once a private dining area, but now the room itself would consume any guests and burn them down into sorcerous coals. The warrior’s arm she took a more precise approach with, rendering it down with alchemical apparatuses. Midway through the process, power returned to the city, her earlier labors coming to fruition. 

 

The pyromancer took out another journal, considerably less sealed than the first, and began sketching designs to lay the groundwork for her creation. Her notes were scribed in a coded shorthand known only to her, a flowing script that allowed for her pen to maintain pace with her manic moments of creativity. She wanted to make something that balanced momentum and control, rage and precision, abandon and forethought. 

 

With a gesture she opened the kiln door and willed the proper amount of coal to the forge. It was the duty of the smith to take the mundane and inscribe upon it greater purpose. She offered her hammer to the warrior, he still had the one arm and his willingness to accept her challenge had ingratiated him towards her. The journal lay open for him to see her designs, so that he might shape what she had prepared and would in turn refine, transcribe, and ensorcel. Ingots were placed and the shaping began, a dialogue of fire, steel, sorcery, and might.

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  • 1 month later...

The inscription of sorcerous glyphs was a precise and taxing work, the cleaner and more correct the text, the more reliable and potent the outcomes. The natural order was a logical fallacy, the faith of the unquestioning that the world was not only as it was meant to be, but that altering it was some kind of sacrilege. Those people would still be living in mud huts if not for their betters. Nature was ungoverned happenstance, while sorcery was seizing unclaimed power from the heap of random outcomes and putting it to greater purpose.

 

Idrija sculpted the spiritual presence of the flail’s chain and head to better fit the Sith warrior’s grasp, while also inscribing wards and curses to thwart the manipulations of enemies. The flail’s head boasted eight pointed flanges, each marked with curses that would amplify the physical potency of strikes through the hatred of the wielder, as was the ken of Sith warriors. She infused the weapon with the bombast and charisma of a leader, enhancing the weapon’s clamor to shout with the voice of cracking thunder. The peal of its impact would be a rallying cry and the assurance that the warrior still stood.

 

The fire of the forge was suddenly joined by the artificial lights of the building flickering to life. Power seized for greater purpose. Some people called the Sith a religion, but the heart of their creed was to refuse faith in anything other than their own ambition, declaring war on complacency and unquestioning acceptance. The coals of what was would birth the galaxy that the Sith would place their thrones.

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  • 1 month later...

Even as focused as she was, Idrija could feel the warrior's focus drifting. Heavy was the crown, but this was a matter that required exceptional focus. She smacked the side of his helmet to bring him back to the immediacy of the moment and the confines of the forge.

 

"The crafting of a weapon requires singular purpose and focus, my lord. The devotion that you give in its creation will define the devotion it gives to you on the field of battle. I make no such demands of your attention anywhere else, but in this Forge, this is a sacred place where ambition and vengeance are made manifest in steel and flame, and to be untrue in your convictions and desires here is to risk them entirely."

 

The warrior's anger flared temporarily, before subsiding. There was a certain bombast inherent to the culture of Sith warriors, and how they affected it was an important measure of their ability to lead. Idrija finished the last of the inscriptions and began to carefully put away her tools and record notes regarding the process. 

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