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Sel Anabasis

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Sel Anabasis    52

Raking his tongue across his teeth, Sel'vata cast his eyes across the weapons at his disposal. Which would be wielded this evening? The mop was already freshly wrung and hung up to dry, one of the slaves or droids had seen to the marble floor. Though it was definitely the latter when it came to the fresh buffer job that had set the tiles to sparkle. There were always the brooms, but this morning.. this morning called for something special. After all, he could have never had a eighteenth birthday were it not for the certain Darth's patronage. The subservient obligations that came with wardship were unsurprisingly natural to the meek young man, who took his meager duties with a great deal of seriousness.

 

So it was on this particular day at this particular early hour that Sel'vata treated himself to a dusting, grabbing one of the many assorted rods and screwing on the flexible feathered tip. Droid servos could only extend so far and the slaves more often than not would pass the rods up for other more obvious lacks in cleanliness. Even with his height, the tops of some of the racks could only be reached on the tips of his toes with the rod fully extended. The first few weeks had made his emaciated arms burn from the calisthenics of it, but it seemed like lately he hardly noticed. 

 

Just like he was hardly noticed by his peers, who at most stared with distaste at this servile morning ritual. He would clean for about an hour before breakfast; Guntr had been amicable enough when it came to his double rations the first few weeks he was here. The Kel-dorian was probably among the few people Sel'vata genuinely liked since coming here; moreover he had never skimped on the hard boiled eggs, toast and blackened bacon. Which was a deciding factor for their friendship. The rest of the morning would be spent data dumping as much information as he could find on saber and swordplay into his personal datapad, the afternoons consisted of practical application.

 

Starting at the far corner of the library, Sel'vata worked his way across the shelves from bottom to top. Gingerly raking the rod across row after row, it wasn't long before he had grey feathers instead of white. His work went uninterrupted aside from moving for the occasional fellow acolyte that needed a certain edition, or a guardian that sent his gaze to the floor and his head tilting in deference. Rounding a corner, Sel found himself in a part of the library he had never been before - at least he was quite certain he hadn't, these portraits were striking. Sel'vata shifted his weight against the rod as he leaned in for a closer look, the one of the bald man was particularly unsettling. Ink had given the man a pair of shrewd eyes, eyes that belied intelligence for all their sulfuric glow. The artist's hands were skilled to have made such an impression.

 

He admired the work momentarily, oblivious to his surroundings and any approaching individuals.

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Darth Verrin    2,079

"Temple Lord, Vakaar Sadarri," Verrin's voice spoke aloud, and from behind the art-admiring duster. His tone was reverent, even quiet, but in this part of the Library, he didn't have to speak loudly to be heard.

 

Verrin paced along the wall to the man's left, "Temple Lord, Ahashra... or more accurately, Abraxas, at the time of this portrait. And... Temple Lord, Drackonis." There were other portraits along the wall, but Verrin stopped before the portrait of his former master, not seeing any reason to continue.  Or perhaps, he found he needed to spend a moment longer on the memory of this particular Sith, especially given that the current audience had knowledge of who he was.

 

"I once had an Emperor mock these portraits - these nods to former servants of the Empire, these memorials to past Sith. For a moment, I thought he would order them taken down, or simply light fire to them himself. But he didn't.  Mayhap he didn't feel it an important enough point to make... or maybe he didn't feel like testing the relationship with me, or the oath of the Guardians.  Who knows?

 

It is said that if we forget our past, that we are doomed to repeat it. It's also been said that the resident Librarian lives too much in the past, and fails to see the future. That last part couldn't be further from the truth. I merely give them similar weight, which compared to most, gives the perception that I give the past far too much attention."  Verrin then fell quiet for a moment, but then he took a few steps back towards Sel and the portrait of Ahashra.

 

"We learn from the past - from the successes and mistakes of those who came before. That which does not kill us makes us stronger... IF we learn from it. Did you know, for instance, that Darth Abraxas is alive and well today? She doesn't look like this anymore, mind you.  Her victory over death itself has changed her appearance. But... come to think of it... these other two, Vakaar and Drackonis are not technically confirmed 'dead'. For all we know, they live... somewhere... out there... in the galaxy, or the greater universe... or maybe even among us, like Ahashra, but without our knowledge of their existence. It is unlikely, of course, but still within the realm of possible. Isn't it?" He held up a hand to Ahshra's portrait, almost lovingly. His fingertips just barely pressing against the painted, coated surface.

 

He turned to Sel and asked, "What do you see when you look into the past, Mister Anabsis?"

library20.jpg

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Sel Anabasis    52

The sound of a voice so near and unexpected was enough to give Sel a fright, the dusting rod fell from his fingers but was quickly stopped with a boot so that it sounded with a soft thud instead of a loud clatter. He didn't get up when he bent to reach it however, having recognized the origin of the voice. "Master Verrin, good morning." He addressed him as a ward would, though whether 'Master' could be used interchangeably with 'Lord' or the ever present 'Darth' remained to be seen, Sel felt it'd probably be best to mind his P's and Q's. Especially considering he hadn't spoken to the Kaar of Ancient Knowledge since that fateful day in his office a few months ago.

 

At first he was worried he might have jostled something loose on one of the shelves, something important. But the first words out of the zabrak's mouth weren't chastisement, but a title - and a name. 

 

Vakar Sadarii? Sel'vata furrowed his brow, turning his head from Verrin to the portrait. His eyes blinking in thought, "My mother spoke of a Zeerah Sadarii fondly, and often. But I'm afraid I've never heard of a Vakar, her father I take it?" It was conjecture born of the ignorance of the ravages of dark side corruption, which had sunk its roots deeply into the man in the portrait. The reverence in which the name was said implied that surely Verrin had known him in his time, but then.. just how old was the Librarian? He didn't linger on one portrait long though, directing Sel's attention to the portrait of a raven-haired woman who was fair of skin, which was identified as Temple Lord Ahashra - and also Abraxas, the distinction confused Sel'vata at first. 

 

But the confusion was blindsided entirely by the identity of the next portrait, Temple Lord Drackonis. The young man stumbled to his feet, the dusting rod forgotten, as he stepped in for a closer look. That's really him, isn't it? The Lorrdian's face was one of grim determination, his hair hung long past his brow and was almost entirely obscured by the dark cowl that draped over his shoulders. In his left hand was a blackened metallic saber with a golden blade that extended beyond the confines of the portrait. As if Drackonis was attempting to cut his way out and into the library to give Sel'vata and his former apprentice a startle.

 

"From the stories I'd heard Lord Drackonis was a painter too, sans the brush. When I was younger I wanted to be him, the prospect of training under him was.. well.." Sel trailed off, slightly embarassed. It was a childlike fancy best left forgotten now, wherever Drackonis was. Alive or dead. He wasn't here. He wasn't overseeing his education and he wasn't providing him with the knowledge to succeed, to that credit Master Verrin was his saving grace.

 

He listened with interest as Verrin explained the history behind the portraits, and was a bit taken aback when the Iridonian dropped in the little tidbit that neither Vakar nor Drackonis had been confirmed as anything beyond missing - and the one known as Abraxas was still quite alive and among them today. The idea of a victory over death was a bittersweet sentiment, both fascinating and infuriating for those that have already lost someone they loved. In Sel's case it was most definitely his mother, followed by Bolmar and Adirahk. They had all died that evening - and all the years did nothing to stave off that hurt. 

 

And it was on that thought that Darth Verrin's introspective inquiry into the past hit him on a particularly melancholy note, Sel's eyes casting downwards before meeting the Zabrak's own, "I see mud up to my knees, torrents of rain that last for weeks on end and ivy that encroaches on absolutely everything. I see.. a ship, the ship I grew up on. No longer serviceable - sitting so long in the jungle soil that it swallowed the ruts right up to the top of the loading ramp. My mother Arali taking up the moniker of 'woods witch' among the Noghri, offering her healing and even counsel to their Dynast - often times in exchange for food for the both of us, even protection from the more aggressive clans upriver. Most of all I see Honoghr."

 

Spoiler

Sorry for the delay, for some reason Uncle Sam hungers for my free time as of late. I'll fight the power, don't worry

 

 

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Darth Verrin    2,079

No problemo. I completely understand that particular Uncle

;) And btw... thank you for your service!

 

The names the young man spoke meant little to nothing to Verrin, but he was fairly sure they meant a lot to the speaker. The important part was the flow of emotions that Verrin felt coming from him. The way he spoke, Verrin could imagine him coming from some tribe, here on Dathomir, what with the jungle-like imagery and the ships and tribal names.

 

Verrin nodded at Sel. "Honoghr... I would hear of this person, or place, when you feel willing to share."

 

He stepped back over to the portrait of Vakar, looking back towards it instead of to whom he was speaking. "The names you speak, young man... you're taking me back to a place I haven't been in a very long time. Vakar, was Zeerah's husband, and father to her two children. Their names escape me at the moment... but I'll recall them at some point, likely when I least expect it. Zeerah taught me to use the saberstaff, and to walk unseen. She even taught me how to control telekinesis, Force bless her... I was a terrible student. I even pulled a prank on her once... feeling my druthers, I ordered a young Acolyte to steal her underwear. He did... successfully, in a sense, but she found out and hoo boy, did she make me pay a price."

 

Verrin cocked his head backwards to look away from the painting and at Sel, winking in amusement before turning back to the 'past'. "Step down here... see this Kel'Dorian? Xafrax. He was Temple Lord for a very short time, during the reign of Emperor Thanos.  I learned from him that Vakar meant to steal or destroy the Empire's stash of holocrons, and leave the Empire upon his capitol ship.... mmmm... that name escapes me now too.  Such is the curse of age. Anyway... I learned that the capitol ship supposedly went down, somewhere on this very planet. Perhaps that is part of the reason for the odd way in which the Force moves here. Or perhaps the reason the ship was never found is because of that same Force energy. Either way, I have come here twice ove rthe years, seeking that very ship - proof of his demise - and have never found it. Nor have I found those holocrons that he did take. Come to think of it, I also lost an apprentice here... Apprentice Vitar'ii. I sent her to search for the ship as well, and she never returned. I've been called foolish for continuing my search - I've been told that I must have been misinformed, or that the entire ship burned up on entry, or exploded into minute bits upon impact.  But there is no evidence of the latter - no crater, no debris.  But because of that odd Force energy that masks us from the Jedi,  I also cannot find the ship if it IS here. It's frustrating."

 

Verrin paced beyond Zafrax's portrait. "Darth Siren... attempted to poison the entire planet of Nogatan in her reach for power. Temple Lord Avaris... formerly Rae Nolvi. There is a custom among the Sith, that when they become a Darth, they take a new name. I never saw the point, myself, but I have named one Darth in my time - Darth Akasha, formerly  Tyia Navarr. And if you ever feel brave, you can ask Darth Tanit about her many names. I think some like to be born anew - to make themselves into someone else, or to leave behind their past when they take on the mantle of Darth. But that is neither here nor there - I digress.

 

You spoke of Master Drackonis as a painter, and I agree - on many levels. He could wield lightsabers with his mind - not one, but three at a time! But that wasn't all - he was a teacher, albeit from a school of hard knocks, but a teacher nonetheless. And also... he painted machinations. He painted himself into the position of Temple Lord at one time, and painted himself out of the full fury of Vakar's wrath.  He also painted relationships with sorceresses,  and even survived being cut in two by Emperor Lydeck's wife!  An artist?  Mmm... I could argue.  A prodigy."

 

Verrin paused, "But where is he now? We do not know. We are left behind, in his wake, painting our own pictures, or telling our own stories. We do not have his knowledge today - only the memories of his knowledge from then, and whatever legacy he left behind."

 

Verrin turned back again to Sel. "You may find it amusing, at your age, but legacy... should you live so long, that word will weigh heavily upon your mind.  Mark my words."

 

The grave tone vanished in a breath, and a lighter one followed it. "Speaking of knowledge... I see you've been developing your dusting skills. What else have you learned?"

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Sel Anabasis    52

"Honoghr is the name of my homeworld, its in the Kessel sector on the outer rim. Not very developed, aside from the odd Czerka outpost. They come mostly to mine for precious metals, I don't think they've had much interaction with the Noghri thus far. At least the Noghri I know, they seem keen to give the outsiders a wide berth so long as they don't encroach on tribal lands or sacred areas.  I spent the majority.. or rather the entirety of my life around one of their clans up until recently, they're grey-skinned humanoids about so high." Sel leveled his hand out at his breast to indicate. "They value honor and the collective well being of their tribe above all else, much like these Wookiees I've heard of. But they usually keep to themselves, in fact, its hard to find them if they don't want to be found. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them." His voice was quiet, even slightly introspective. "Do you ever long for home, Master Verrin? And wonder how everyone is doing in your absence? Its strange not being in touch with people you've been around your whole life, and in my case it's not exactly like I can send a letter."

 

Sel'vata exhaled through his nose, casting a glance of mild surprise when Verrin revealed that Vakar was - in fact - not Zeerah's father, but her husband. What a torrid love affair that must have been. The whole tale was fanciful to be sure, it had the makings of a great story; the missing ship of a legendary Lord of the Sith, all its treasures inside lost to the ages and an answer to an old mystery. No tale of treasure would be complete without a curse of course, considering most that searched for it either came up empty handed or missing leant credence to that superstition. In his minds eye he could almost see it, the capitol ship being consumed by the jungle - metal rusting, thickets taking root in the gutted hull and vines wrapping their way through the innards of long dead command terminals. And somewhere within, the glow of holocrons. It was a tempting call to adventure, without a doubt.

 

He listened enraptured as Verrin told of Drackonis' exploits, hanging on every word, some of them were stories he had heard before, such as the Lorrdians affinity for telekinetic combat, but still others he had never heard before. "What brought the bad blood between he and Vakar?" He interjected, "Who was this sorceress? Why did the Emperors wife cut him in two.. and how could he possibly have survived that?" The questions exasperated him, it was his understanding that Lord Drackonis had never been defeated in battle. But cut in two? Surely that had it be a figure of speech.. of some strange kind. 

 

The inquiry into his studies prompted Sel to reach into one of the pockets of his acolyte robes as he stooped to pick up the dusting rod, presenting a datapad in his left hand. His very first. He was still getting familiar with all the features it had, or so called "apps", but it was a nifty little piece of tech that he quickly couldn't imagine his life without. "My current area of study is history and culture of the Sith, along with.. well, I wasn't sure if it'd be smart to practice any forms without someone to correct me. Setie and I have sparred but I think she's been busy as of late, I have been researching this 'fencing' as its called. I'd like to delve further but honestly I don't know where to begin?"

Edited by Sel Anabasis
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Darth Verrin    2,079

Home...

 

Verrin's eyes grew distant for a moment, as he was transported somewhere else - to a far-off place, and a simpler time. A wife... children... the Outer Rim. Home was long gone. That life had been over for decades. Despite his best efforts, there had been no going back. He hadn't been able to either return to that place, nor the people of that time. And he hadn't been able to bring them all to him. It was his life's longest struggle, and his biggest failure. Of course he knew what Honoghr was. It had just been so long since he'd heard of it, that it completely slipped his mind. He almost, but not quite, smiled.

 

He came back to the present as quickly as he'd left it, and offhandedly replied that Vakar and Drackonis had struggled with one another for power over the Temple. The Sith always struggled, they'd said.  When they stopped, they were essentially dead. Verrin even added, "The sorceress, Hesina Valenti. I don't believe it was a long-term thing, but a brief romance, like the burn of flash paper."

 

And then of being 'cut in two' - Verrin described the encounter as he remembered it, and then added his own conclusions. "I'm not sure how he survived it either - just that he'd lost to the Emperor's wife in a violent duel, in an arena designed to test one's mettle, and make Emperor Trajan a lot of betting cash.  Maybe he was a clone... or maybe there had been a sorcerous pact.  Drackonis was most definitely a sorceror of no small water. Or maybe... just maybe... he was so strong of will that he simply refused to be slain. One might wonder."

 

Verrin glanced over to see the man showing his datapad, and nodded his agreement. "They are quite something. But be mindful to look up from it now and again, or you might miss the passage of an event... or an unscrupulous peer's blade as it descends towards you."

 

Once Sel became more 'aware' as a Force user, that warning wouldn't hold weight. The Force would warn him of danger.  But for now, it was sound advice.

 

Verrin cocked his head though. His life was full at the moment, but not overly so. "Very well - let's go down to the Pits and you can show me what you've learned.  Perhaps there will be an instructor handy to show you more - but if not, I can teach a few things. The basics of the saber forms are so fundamental... you really need to have a firm grasp of them before branching out into the more specific Forms. My instructors didn't believe in that, all the years ago, but I went back and picked up those fundamentals myself. It made for some difficulties though, as I had to unlearn a few things in order to learn them properly once more. Fortunately, in those early days, one could do a fair amount of damage using stealth and a plasma blade alone. It was only later, when I had to stave off more skilled individuals, that I discovered my shortcomings. And now, with the advancement of age and wear-and-tear on the body, I'm glad I relearned those things. 

 

Come.  Let's go stretch the limbs."

Edited by Darth Verrin
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