SW: TOR: TRIALS OF A SITH THRALL: THAT WHICH IS SOUGHT
Part Ten and Conclusion of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: THIS is the end, machievelli, but not of Per'dra's saga. It's only the end of the second installment of my TOR trilogy series. Also, if I don't send all of you readers into simultaneous shivers of suspense and being "creeped out" by the end of this particular chapter, I'm not doing my job right..."Victims" by Culture Club http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMB3EurdHxw]
KORRIBAN, VALLEY OF THE DARK LORDS, 2100 HOURS
After Qyzen Fess embraced me once and for all as his ally, I urged him:
"Come on. Let's run to the space port and try to steal a ship so we can fly out of there! Right now, I don't even care if the Sith pursue us, because at least we'll have attempted to escape Korriban. If we don't even do that, we're bigger cowards than Pfon thought we were. Qyzen! Qyzen...?" I shook my Trandoshan companion's right shoulder, but it was as stiff and unmoving as one of the rock pillars that surrounded us in the Valley of the Dark Lords. His attention was riveted upon something that I didn't think ever occurred, except in cautionary tales the Jedi Masters told us about the Sith. Even then, we'd never believed them, but this
The sections of Pfon Urazhai's quartered body were dissolving in whirlwinds of black haze and reddish-silver Force lightning. Their flesh and muscle melted away bloodlessly, leaving only the bones beneath. The Sith that had so terrified and tested us became a skeleton in mere seconds.
"I can't believe it," I murmured. "The Dark Lords have eaten
"Ssspecifically, the one who resides within the burial site straight ahead of you,"
Qyzen responded. "I don't see why you're so surprised. After all, that was what Pfon Urazhai, now slain, said would happen to you if you lost the duel."
He cleared his throat with a guttural hiss-grunt,
and then began to walk towards the tomb. At first glance, it appeared as if he were in a trance of some sort, but I knew Qyzen better than that. He was coolly assessing his surroundings with every step, yet absolutely itching to find something inside this grave. If I recalled correctly, it belonged to Marka Ragnos--one of the most highly-feared Sith Lords of his day. I wanted to pull Qyzen away and drag him with me back to Dreshdae, but I couldn't just do that. I wanted to know what he was up to, and so I followed him until he'd reached the tomb's entrance. When he did, he sniffed the air, knelt by the heap of rock that had fallen as Pfon's body was being consumed, and said:
"The way inside has indeed been opened by Urazhai's unwitting sacrifice! I do not want to leave this place until I find out for what he was searching. It seems the duty of a Jedi and her companion--not to mention the insatiable desire of a researcher..."
He winked at me, and the effect was unsettling because only one of his eyes remained intact. "If you will allow me, Padawan, I would like to stride ahead of you as we venture into the tomb. You, after all, have just battled a Sith and are greatly weakened."
I nodded, but then held up my right hand to stem the tide of further words from him. "I agree with you there, but I don't
agree that we should go inside. This is no ordinary tomb. Buried here is Marka Ragnos, one of the Sith Order's most notable Lords, and I daresay that he's not entirely dead."
"What do you mean? Will he rise from his sarcophagus and attack us?"
"No, but his corpse, a skeleton, still exudes a powerful Dark Side aura. Ragnos' soul, if it's not being tormented in Chaos, remains with his body. There's no telling what we could find if we investigate, or what insidious traps and Force powers guard his tomb. I'm weak now, as you say, and so I don't really want to find out." I'll take being a coward over being an idiot...
"If my suspicions are correct, any preventative measures that would kill those who'd infiltrate this resting place are gone. Pfon's own flesh and blood have seen to it. Can you not sense the silence, the utter stillness that surrounds us? I am not even Force-sensitive, and yet I can."
As much as I hated to admit it, Qyzen had a point. "Also, we MUST find that which is sought. Our lives, and those of the Sith and Jedi, depend on it! As you fought against Urazhai, risking your life with every blow, this truth buried itself inside my soul as deeply as Marka Ragnos is buried within this valley!"
I raised an eyebrow suddenly. "Are you sure you're not Force-sensitive?"
The Trandoshan gave a cryptic smile. "If I were, I'd become a Jedi."
Was he trying to be funny? I couldn't tell, but right now I had greater concerns than whether Qyzen was laughing at my expense. "All right. We'll go inside, but remember, I want you to protect me. In fact, I implore you." Shaking my head in disgust at myself, I continued: "You saw what just happened. I don't know how much more evil I can stand before I die or fall unconscious! Even warriors fortified by the Essence of Victory must rest."
He rose to his full height, and I followed him into the tomb.
Qyzen was right: with or without the Force, the only thing I could sense within Marka Ragnos' crypt was emptiness. There was no pulsing aura of the Dark Side, no sign of a lethal trap's pressure plate nearby, and no tendrils of a malevolent presence that could wrap themselves around my throat. There was simply nothing,
and oddly enough, that was what scared me. Whether Pfon had removed these deadly barriers to our entry through his death or not, I would have felt more reassured if they'd been intact. Why?
"There is Ragnos' coffin,"
Qyzen cried, pointing, "but what we must find isn't in there."
I gave a snort and slapped my hands over my mouth to keep from roaring with laughter! Did he think that what we really had to do was drag a Sith Lord's body all the way back to Tython in order to study it? As he crept stealthily around the sarcophagus, I watched him and found it harder to restrain myself. At last my hands broke free from my lips of their own accord, and I collapsed into a fit of giggles. Tears formed in my eyes!
All of a sudden, a feather-light gray cube dropped into my right palm.
"Perhaps this is what Pfon sought,"
said Qyzen, "but what is it?"
My laughter died instantly. The cube was none other than an exact duplicate of the mysterious object that we, along with Masters Yun and Karos, had located on Tython--in the clutches of a dead kognath queen. I shivered.
"It's a deactivated Sith holocron," I managed to rasp. I felt lightheaded. "Do you remember the one on Tython? This one's just like it, except in our new situation, a pure-blooded Sith paid the price to let us find what it contains instead of a poor, sentient insect..." I trailed off, and the cube began to glow. Its color morphed from gray to mauve to red, and then it spoke hesitantly:
"I have ventured inside Marka Ragnos' tomb, once more, to meditate upon the nature of evil. It's frustrating to have to kill so many tuk'ata in order to enter! However, it is the way of the Sith that blood should be required..."
An all-too-familiar voice paused. "Next time I'll use a human. That slave Jedi, Per'dra, is growing stronger under the influence of the true Essence of Victory, but I fear her time is running short. I might have her pay the price of entry soon, if she dares to attack me at the wrong time, but not now."
"My Master tells me that I've not yet plumbed the fullest depths of the Dark Side. How can I not have achieved this feat?! I have lied to thousands, slaughtered hundreds, betrayed dozens and taken a handful of so-called 'innocent' victims for my pleasure. If these combined acts do not constitute the greatest evil in the entire galaxy, then which acts do? What final key am I missing to conquer of the ways of the Dark Side? Perhaps I must turn against my Master and kill her, but I fear this is not the answer. After all, she is not even on Korriban, and I'll be wandering straight into a lair of krayt dragons if I confront her on her homeworld! Secondly...she'll be expecting me to strike her down sooner or later. That is Sith tradition. A student slaying his or her teacher is so common it's almost banal! Still, how can I defeat an enemy our Order knows is even more wicked than I?"
Qyzen remained silent. I, however, buried myself in his chest and howled.
"I must try and find the secret of her teachings: those that she would take to the grave if she perished. Once I know what she truly believes, and why she has decided to take her particular course of action on Coruscant in the near future, then I shall be strong enough to tear her apart from the inside out. There are worse fates than death, and once I make my Master suffer them, the last mysteries of the Dark Side shall be mine! A 'Jedi mole'...Hah! At least I am honest enough to revel in my actions openly, and not hide them."
Pfon, speaking through the holocron, humbly(?!?) concluded his speech:
"Who are you, Master? If it is the final thing I do, I shall find out. I shall expose your rotten core and then melt it! Marka Ragnos, Lord of the Sith--I kneel and beg you to help me! I do not find blind obedience difficult..."
The cube crumbled to dust as soon as my former foe had fallen silent at last.
Qyzen held me as I was reduced to near-incoherence:
"Oh, Force, no. Not her. No, no, no, no..."
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: My next installment, a la the TV show 24, takes place within the span of 24 hours. Can you guess why? Farewell...]