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A smile cracked across Inmortos face, the grease of his meal congealing in the corners of his mouth. “Goooooood.” he hissed gleefully as the force twisted and cracked in the air, the accursed blade coming into view.

 

A dark glee emanated from the shrouded Sith Lord. His plan was beginning to come together. He could not take his eyes off the weapon. He could feel it’s evil desire contained within it’s form. All part of the grand plan. It called silently, subtlety on the force, for anyone who could hear it; any mind and body that it might control to wrought it’s original owner’s darkest most base desires. To control such a weapon would unfathomably escalate the Necropolis Lord’s skills in bringing about death, death upon which to build his legacy. He just needed to best it.

 

Inmortos’ eyes stared at the weapon, regarding it hungrily, a predator pondering how best to take down it’s prey without being gored.

 

With a raised hand, he carefully shepherded the gilded box the sword had lifted from out of the table into the open room, gingerly enveloping the weapon in it’s padded embrace. He then maneuvered the box towards him, gingerly depositing it on the table in front of him. He could not take his eyes off of it as he stooped close to take in the ancient intricacies of the filigree covered sheath and hilt. Even the ancient battle damage was in a word, “exquisite.” He breathed the word in awe. The closer he was to the blade, the more he could feel the still tormented soul within the weapon, it’s owner long dead, searching for a host. Inmortos licked his lips hungrily. He wanted to grasp the hilt of the weapon, to draw it from it’s sheath, to wield it in a flurry of devastation. Scanning the weapon end from end, Inmortos resisted. He knew the dangers. He would not expose himself or the power before him to Nok Morliss. If the Nemodian did not know what he was giving up, it was not up to Inmortos to correct him. They had a deal.

 

Tearing his eyes from the weapon, Inmortos slammed the lid of the case shut, it’s latches swinging shut on a wave of dark power, sealing the sword within. It would remain there until Inmortos was in a safe location from which to combat the wraith within and master it. Glancing at the sloshing liquid in the aged vial, sealed with an unknown animal wax, Inmortos’ focus shifted again to Nok across the table. “They are the hallmark of our order, yet they may be your undoing.” He spoke a vague dark warning about the weapons he had just asked about as he tapped a gnarled and chipped fingernail atop the ash-infused glass. “The power you crave, the key to the doorway lay within. Drink it to the last drop Nok Morliss. But, only if you are strong enough to withstand the storm. Are you, Nok Morliss? Are you prepared to journey beyond the power you now have? To risk it all, to gain eternity? Take it, Nok Morliss, the power is at your fingertips to seize, if you crave it.”

 

With that, Inmortos tipped the stoppered vial forward, but before it could clatter to the table it arced through the air. The Sith Lord gingerly deposited the vial in front of his host. “Take. Drink. Such a cordial has not been tasted by mortal man in millennia.”

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Nok's own twinge of fear illuminate the vial to him. But to him it was simply...liquid.

 

A chemical? A drug?

 

Nothing I want to take in the presence of a stranger.

 

Nok smiled, his expression almost slimy in its falseness.

 

"Millennia? Quite a treat then." He stood. "I hope you don't mind if I retire to somewhere more comfortable to take it," he said, waving his hand absent-mindedly at the room. "Such power deserves a more fitting locale to be used." Of course, Nok intended to have the substance tested first, and he had no doubt Inmortos knew that without it needing to be stated. It would have been far more unusual for Nok to trust Inmortos.

 

Sith did not trust.

 

"Eat more if you like. Otherwise, consider my staff at your service. Explore the city if you like. I'll let you know when I'm ready to proceed with our business."

 

Nok walked out of the room.

 

When he was nearing his own chambers, he spoke to the Deepguard droids that had fallen in beside him as his bodyguards.

 

"Post Inmortos' picture in the database. Have the city's security cameras and droids observe him, but do not approach. I want him tracked, but from a distance."

 

"It will-," the droid on his left started.

 

"-be done, my lord," finished the droid on his right.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

4 hours later

 

"You're certain?" Nok asked, suspicion laced in his tone.

 

"Yes," the 2-1B surgical droid responded, "the drug appears to be nothing more than a mild hallucinogen. Uncommonly manufactured and with rare active ingredients, but the substances involved are all well documented and studied. There are some contaminants, likely caused by non-sterile processes, but nothing toxic or biologically reactive."

 

"And the test subjects?"

 

"All 6 subjects, human, quarren, and mon calamari, experienced the expected effects of relaxation and minor hallucinations. The same can be said for the remaining 18 subjects who were subjected to the synthesized copy. I've also compared the substances chemical makeup against your specific biological profile, and can find no potential reaction specific to your biochemistry." The droid cocked its head, a moment of rare personality shining through. "Honestly, sir, this stuff would barely be considered illegal on most worlds. Its not even addictive."

 

Nok frowned. Perhaps he'd been duped. Or perhaps the substance was intended to open the mind and make the user more susceptible to the Force's influence. A minor benefit, and certainly not what Nok paid for, but still...

 

A brief moment of fear and worry flashed through him. What if he was wrong?

 

No. The analysis was conclusive. And even if there was something unexpected, Nok had a full medical team present with the best toxicology and diagnostician databases downloaded into their high-quality brains. He was protected here.

 

"Very well. Monitor my signs, and be ready to flush my system of the substance if I signal it." He paused. "Or if my life is threatened."

 

The droid only whirred and flickered its optics in response.

 

Nok looked down at the vial, then downed it in one gulp.

 

He lay back on his bed and waited.

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Inmortos understood his host’s hesitation, even if it was masked behind an aura of excitement. He would have been shocked and disappointed if the self-proclaimed ruler of this world gad unstoppered it and downed the concoction without a hesitation. It would have made him just another pawn of the Sith, like so many mindless warriors that prowled Korriban and the like. This one though, craved power; yet was wary of it. He might go far if his love of corporeality could be realigned.

 

Inmortos did not rise as his host left. In fact, he barely raised a hand in wave as some sort of casual dismissal. Both parties seemed to have what they had come for. For the cameras that undoubtedly watched them, it would seem so. There was more. These traded barbs of Sith machinations were but the opening piece exchange on the dejarik board of their relationship.

 

It was only a matter of time before he was called back to deal with the piece Nok Morliss had claimed as his own. Surveilling the encased sword before him, Inmortos knew he had his own trial to undergo. 
 

Inmortos patted his bulging belly after Nok left. He diverted his gaze to the remains of the feast before him. He was full; full enough that the idea of another bite repulsed him.

 

Calling his heavy-headed cane to his hand, Inmortos pushed his chair back. It’s ornate legs scraping loudly across the equally decorative inlaid floor. He rose to his feet, reaching out to cradle the wooden box and it’s dark blade beneath his free arm. He could feel the tendrils of evil grasping at their bonds, their hunger seeking an outlet, someone worthy enough to take on the mantle the weapon’s previous master once carried. He could feel it. Inmortos knew he was not the supposed worthy warrior  the spirit sought. It did not matter; he had no doubt that he could master it. It was mind over matter. It was that simple. With the dark side as his weapon, he would master this dark dirk just as he mastered death.

 

With his trophy tucked away and his cane in hand, Inmortos turned. He did not need Nok Morliss servants. They were no more than spies and pawns; spies and pawns that were living, not Inmortos’. The skeleton of a man shuffled out of the hall and down the walkways back towards his ship. It was the only place on this world that Inmortos felt that he could expose himself to the dangers of the sword. Inmortos had read and read, he academically knew what to expect; but he was not going to allow Nok or his henchmen to see him in such a way; not that Nok would not have his own turmoils to address. That concoction had been altered especially for the Nemoidian, not biologically, but for his soul. It would open him up to the faintest suggestions, make them real, plunge the Nemodian into a world of his own creation. All he needed was the right nudge and his deepest fears, innermost turmoils, and faintest neuroses would become a reality that bound the Sithling to his own soul. Inmortos would return to him when  the time was right, to conclude his baptism of darkness. For now though?

 

As the door of his ship sludged shut behind him, Inmortos heard the locks engage. It was a simple enough distraction to pull the heat from the air, and seal the exit amongst a tomb of permafrost inside and out. It took some time, but the ship was soon enough encased in an opaque crystalline tomb of stagnation made matter, frigid and lifeless.

 

Only then, when he was sure that he was entirely alone did Inmortos set down the ornate wooden case atop a workstation table. Gently, with almost a holy reverence, Inmortos undid  the clasps and opened the box. As he did, a wave of invisible lust poured over him, inviting anyone who felt worthy to clasp the carved hilt of the needled black blade. The Sith runes seemed to almost glow a soulless black that radiated as it drew in the light about them. Inmortos could almost hear the desire to destroy radiating from the weapon, all he need do was reach out and take it and the battle of wills would begin.

 

Reaching out his knobby hand, Inmortos clasped the weapon. A surge of darkness pulsed from the weapon up through the Sith Lord’s hand. Inmortos’ veins bulged and vibrated beneath the tidal surge of power. He sharply drew his breath, inadvertently lowering the temperature  in the ship by several degrees. 
 

Move number two was underway.

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At first, nothing happened.

 

Nok lay there, long moments sliding past. At first, he waited patiently. Then, he grew confused. Then irritated. Then frustrated.

 

"Why does it not work?"

 

The droid offered no response.

 

Then Nok realized he couldn't sense the droid, despite his growing anger. Nok couldn't sense anything at all.

 

"What is-" Nok said as he stood up from the bed.

 

There was no floor.

 

Nok plummeted, or at least he thought he did. No air moved past him, he couldn't see, yet vertigo so intense it almost made him vomit sent his stomach into his ribcage.

 

The substance had not been a simple hallucinogen.

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On instinct, Inmortos inhaled. It was as if he had been struck firmly in the gut by an unseen beskar fist. He would have doubled over but for raw fury that seemed to course from the aura of the blade through his hand and through his form. It was as if liquid fire boiled his blood within the prematurely-aged necromancer’s veins. Accustomed to cold, Inmortos cried out in pain. It was not in words, but a bestial roar of pain, of agony, of rage.

 

The blade pulsed in the Sith’s hand. Through the fog of pain and smoke of rage that coursed through the air and his body, Inmortos tried to steel his own mind against the spirit contained within the blade. It fought him. It sought to contain the spirt and will of the wizard so as to use his body as a vessel to accomplish it’s unfinished will.

 

Inmortos was no mere mind to be trifled with, possessed as a toy and cast aside when the fun was over. No. He was a master of more than his own physical form. He was a Lord of the Sith, a practitioner of the most profane arts, one who bent the force to his own will and was not controlled by it. If the force bowed to him, this spirit would be no different.

 

Still, as he fought, every nerve ablaze, he was not victorious. Yet, he was not victorious yet. 
 

 “You are not worthy. You are but a morsel; chewed, forgotten. Give me your body. I will give you a flash of worth before you die.”  A masculine voice reverberated throughout the ship, rattling the walls and toppling anything not secured. It spoke with disgust and disdain. It’s formless words seemingly spat from unseen lips. It had measures Inmortos and seemed to have found him wanting. In those words, the presence of the ancient spirit entrapped in the blade surged, grasping at Inmortos mind.
 

Inmortos could feel the spirit’s blackened tendrils of hunger clawing at the fringes of his mind. He tried to form words to respond. He couldn’t. All that escaped his mouth was a slurred “Guuuuuhhhhh,” as a strand of saliva drizzled downwards from his lips and dangled from his jaw. Even forming the words in his mind seemed lacking as Inmortos felt the spirit’s hold cementing.

 

“Weak. Pathetic. A vessel to carry me to a more worthy slave.” the dark voice scoffed. The whirlwind of it’s power intensified within the ship. It tore at the icy walls Inmortos had crafted sending shards of glassy blades into the air before melting them in the heat of it’s rage. The words that emanated from the void before now fell from Inmortos’ own maw, the spirit having gained a foothold within the mind and body of the frail Sith.

 

Inmortos could feel his control being torn from him. It slipped away, cell by cell, as the spirit claimed any recess of his mind not possessed by the power of the dark side. Any portion of Inmortos that he had not gilded in dark desire was endangered. He was not conquered; not yet; not by a long shot. Inmortos felt the spirit surging against his weaknesses. His physicality may have been his vulnerability; but where his form lacked and his mind was ravaged, his will would prevail.

 

Inmortos buried himself in the darkness of the force itself. He called forth the darkness of death, the despair of life, and mentally threw it back against the warrior spirit. The spirit betrayed itself. Powered by passion and rage, it was a herald of death and destruction. Inmortos, on the other hand, was not a mere herald. He was a master of death, toying with the line and breaking it, shaping death and life as he saw fit. Most Sith reveled in destruction and that is where Inmortos would succeed. They tore down, he used the darkness, used death, to build. Visions of impregnable fortresses and frozen impassible tundras filled his mind, thrown up in defense to the destruction the spirit threw forth in unrelenting assault.

 

As the battle for Inmortos’ mind raged, elsewhere within the city another battle was commencing. Nok Moriss had consumned the elixir. The mysterious draught had been crafted to Inmortos’ direct specifications. Amongst it’s chemical properties, it bound the consumer to the necromancer. It’s catalyst; the force itself, a poison beyond the realms of simple medicine and one that would prevail until it was purged in its entirety.

 

In that moment, Inmortos felt the bond pull taught, like a chain of darkbess that linked Morliss’ soul to his own. It was a distraction. It was enough. As Inmortos’ attention was turned to the plan that he had all but forgotten within the maelstrom, the malevolent spirit sensed the recession of the tide and swelled against the momentarily weakened walls of Inmortos mental defenses. It was enough to pull Inmortos back to the battle at hand. Nok Morliss was unimportant now. This vorpal blade and it’s dark passenger were more than the Sith had expected. Something this powerful had been held in the collection of an unknown Sithling? How? What other secrets did the blind lizard possess?

 

They were thoughts that passed briefly through Inmortos’ mind before being seized and consumed by the gnawing hunger of the spirit. It was taking more and more. Inmortos sank to his knees, both hands wrapped white-knuckle tight about the hilt of the weapon. Even it’s weight was too much as the blade fell to the floor, slicing into the durablast flooring several inches. Inmortos could not release the blade if he tried. The spirit willed it. It would claim Inmortos as it’s own. It would use his frail body to once again bring havoc to the stars until a more suitable warrior might be found. Inmortos mind continued to fall, secrion by section. The distraction had allowed it to breach the walls of dreams that had repelled it. The spirit began to sift, consume, weigh and evaluate Inmortos’ deepest secrets, his darkest desires. The Sith lord laid bare like a book of yore. Each a weapon in its’ own right to one that knew how to wield it.

 

Words were unimportant now, all the spirit had to do was poke a memory, drag it to the surface and expose it and Inmortos did the rest.

 

The death of his parents.

 

The deaths of countless others, buried and forgotten.

 

The initial concern with death before the galaxy returned to a normal flow. Each life snuffed out as if it were nothing.

 

The corpses of the reanimated dead, stripped of individuality and purpose beyond the will of the necromancer.

 

All of these memories swirled with countless others of rejection, failure,  hopelessness. Each memory opened Inmortos up more, allowing the spirit to dig with impunity through Inmortos. It was almost as if the spirit took a sick glee in torturing the Sith. It’s laughter carried in the force itself, dark and evil and entertained entwined with hunger and rage.

 

This continued for who knew how long. Inmortos’ defenses had been overwhelmed. His body was all but possessed. The spirit delighted in Inmortos’ suffering. It continued to dredge up painful memories, morph them, combine them, rewrite even happy ones all to destroy the man within and leave whatever remained a quivering mass of ethereal plasma that could not harm a thing.

 

It was then that the spirit pulled forth the core that had carried Inmortos to this place. The fear emerged from the depths like a specter of yore, swathed in the billowing robes of death as it stared down into an unmarked grave. It was a grave that contained Inmortos himself. Alone on an uncharted world without a soul to be seen or sensed. Buried, dead, forgotten before he even cooled. No one and nothing to remember his name. Fear. It was palpable. It was everywhere. It was everywhere. Fear drove Inmortos even if he would never admit it.

 

The spirit of the sword cackled in glee as it shoved the memory against the last vestiges of Inmortos’ being. Crippling fear thrown against a forgotten death. It was a fear that Inmortos had used to drive himself. It was his base. It was his core.

 

Inmortos felt the fear. It was a fear he had sworn he would conquer. It was a fear that drove him and gave him purpose and power. It was that fear now that gave Inmortos pause as he fell back against the onslaught. He could not be driven any further. He would be forgotten in an instant.

 

And so it was that fear that Inmortos clung to. It could not be twisted or morphed into anything worse. He had held it and nurtured it for years. Grasping this fear, Inmortos cast it onto the spirit in an effort to drive it back. He would not be conquered, not by this. He had seen fear. He did not fear this spirit. He only feared what would happen if he failed. He would not fail. Like a bludgeon, Inmortos flailed his core like a chained mace against the lesser weapons formed from his own shadowy mind. He had one fear that he had mastered and from it, all others would be driven back.

 

The ancient spirit continued to fight, casting whatever it could grasp at the weapon Inmortos clung to within his mind.

 

On the deck of the ship, Inmortos’ body flopped forward driving the blade deeper into the floor and the hilt into his own gut. The glowlamps surged and burst in a chain reaction one after another. The icy cold about them surged with the internal surge of Inmortos responsive assault to retake himself, bathing the darkness in an icy grasp that fought against the fiery rage of the spirit.

 

Ever so slowly, the spirit gave up the mental ground it had claimed. It refused to be cast back into the blade. It refused to be imprisoned for eternity once again. So as it’s own power was forces back, it followed whatever lines of escape it might find, grasping, shaking, and manipulating whatever it could find. Memories, feelings, emotions all were weaponized and cast about in a maelstrom of destructive energy.

 

The easiest means of escape: the phantasmal chain that bound Inmortos to Nok.

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