Also known as: For fuck's sake, dude, that shit is 1700 words long!
Invictus struggled to keep the grin from his lips as the Protector hit the marbled walkway. Kerr'ek was silent, not letting so much as a grunt escape his lips at the impact. The Battlemaster knew it was an effort for the human and mentally applauded the younger man's ability to control signs of weakness.
More importantly, he's quick-witted.
It was a thought the Chiss seconded. Banishing the light to throw him off guard, then inducing vomiting in him – it was unexpected in one who had just begun their training. It showed a great deal of potential and a level of tactical thinking few Dark Jedi ever bothered to pursue. He was struck, again, by Timeros's uncanny ability to foresee the interactions amongst his clan-mates and pair them appropriately.
If the whelp can learn to control his emotions, we'll make a commander out of him yet...
Mere moments had passed and Th'rall was just now beginning to struggle against the telekinetic restraints that bound his ankles. Invictus knew a little of how other Dark Jedi made use of their abilities, flailing about wildly, their emotions ever a rising tempest just below the surface. That had never been the case for him - the very idea was anathema to his culture. Instead he did as the Jedi in Odan Urr. The Sith sunk into himself, effortless from long years of practice, and touched the kernel of hate buried in his soul. It wasn't the only emotion he found there, but in the last few years it had grown increasingly prevalent and easy to tap. He focused on that darkness within, imagined clenching it ever more tightly. Then, when it seemed his own ability would flag, the pressure grew too great and the kernel expanded, exploding forth like a nova of pure darkness to banish all light from the courtyard [BLK].
The effort was such that he couldn't maintain the blackness and telekinetic bonds both, so he released the latter and set himself to defend against attack. His right side leading his left, he held his saber in a reverse grip, parallel with his forearm and angled perpendicular to the rest of his body. The style was unusual, and nearly useless with a single weapon in normal combat, but it allowed parries and counters to come from odd angles that would serve to confuse an opponent as to his location in the impenetrable darkness.
Reaching out with the Force, he could feel Kerr'ek rising to his feet [SNS]. Knowing the Protector would be doing the same, Invictus did what he could to dampen his own presence in the Force. The Equite was unwilling to rely on the Force alone, however, and stretched out with his more mundane senses. He could smell the burnt ozone that resulted whenever a blaster fired or a lightsaber was kept active for longer than a few minutes. The stench formed a counterpoint to the metallic smell of blood off the human's wounds. He couldn't see – the barrier of darkness lay too heavy around him for light to permeate – but he could hear the soft swish
of the Journeyman's robes as he moved towards his potential Master.
Instinct and the Force combined to direct his hand as the younger man slashed out with his viridian blade [PCG]. Invictus brought his arm around in an almost-lazy sweep, the cyan saber intersecting the slash despite it being off-target. He stepped into the block and pushed out, deflecting the strike even further. The ploy worked. Kerrek's follow-up was further off than his first. Knowing he had missed, the human thrust in the direction he had previously aimed, but the blow fell short of the Aedile. He came on again, persistent, this time sweeping his emerald blade horizontally across the area in the hopes that it would provoke a response. Invictus obliged, disturbing the graceful arc with a backhanded swipe of his own and flipping over his opponent to land at his back.
The Chiss was used to being silent, unheard, but somehow Th'rall had sensed his landing and spun, bringing his blade around in an attempt at bisecting the elder Dark Jedi [SNS]. The blow showed near-perfect execution and, whether by grace of his own skill or the Equite's complacency, nearly hit home. Invictus avoided it at the last moment, contorting his form in a way biology had never intended, and bent backwards beneath the blow while retaining his footing [DDG]. He came up straight in its wake and kicked a booted foot out at the Journeyman's sternum, knocking him back several steps. The former Obelisk pursued, deactivating his blade and wading in to deliver a quick one-two combination to the Protector's jaw and abdomen while he was still off-balance.
The blows caused little pain, nor were they intended to, but they served to feed the anger in the younger man. Having heard the Chiss's lightsaber close down, he threw himself at his opponent with abandon. A series of figure-eights with his blade were punctuated by repeated kicks aimed at the Aedile's gut. Invictus back-pedaled quickly. He did not try to block the blows, nor did he offer his own counters. Rather, he moved away quickly, silently sure-footed, and sunk deep within himself to the core of hate from whence sprang the Blackness surrounding the pair. This particular art was new to him, all but untested. That was fine, though – he had little concern regarding besting his opponent. Teaching him a lesson, on the other hand, was of paramount import if the Journeyman was to survive in Arcona.
A brief touch of the hate within, a subtle manipulation of the encompassing darkness, a feather-light caress was all it took to change its fundamental nature.
“You have a problem, Kerr'ek,” said the Equite. The voice was low, sonorous, and arrogant beyond reason. It was a voice perfectly suited to inspiring rage.
With any luck, in the long run, it will do exactly the opposite.
“My problem is you won't stand still. You won't fight me. Stop running away and you'll see exactly what I can do.”
“Your problem,” replied Invictus, circling to the side to avoid the blows now that his voice was revealing his location, “Is the same as most of your new-found peers. You don't control your emotions. They control you. And they will kill you, if they can.”
The Protector was turning in place, tracking his movement and adjusting his strikes accordingly. The elder Sith continued to lecture, his lightsaber still unlit.
“You have a choice before you. You are on the cusp of discovering just how much power is at your disposal. Conquer your pride and your rage, bend them to your will, and you shall find little beyond your grasp...”
The Chiss reignited his blade, punctuating the words with an attack. He struck high, the blow aimed at Kerr'ek's crown. He pulled up short, though, as the Journeyman moved to intercept it. Redirecting his momentum into a downward slash, the saber burned through the black and crimson robes to scorch the skin underneath. Th'rall doubled over at the blow, his right hand moving to cover the wound on his chest. He tried to draw a breath and found his windpipe choked closed.
Puzzlement was plain on the Protector's face. The ability of a Dark Jedi to choke an opponent through the Force was well-known, but the human could sense no such use of the Force around him. A few seconds went by, then ten, then thirty, and his lungs began to burn for a taste of the crisp morning air. Invictus disengaged his blade and stood casually before him, his expression blank. The emerald blade fell to the ground, disengaging as the safety-switch was released. The clatter of the metal against the marble courtyard was deafening, the only sound to be heard. Even Kerr'ek's struggle for breath was silent.
Invictus stepped forward, pressing his lightsaber's emitter to the underside of his new Apprentice's jaw. The students eyes went wide and he tried to yield, but even that sound was denied him. The metal was cold against Th'rall's skin, even considering the chill that permeated Estle City at this hour. The cold of the hilt and the cold of the air were but petty concerns, though, when compared to the cold in the Battlemaster's old eyes. Those eyes, not red nor green nor blue but some mix thereof, were the only light in the darkness. For all that, their glacial chill served as a steady counterpoint to the burning in the Journeyman's lungs.
“Should you fail, however, to master yourself,” continued Invictus, releasing the Blackness surrounding the pair, “You will find that very Darkness waiting to end you. And should that happen, the darkness will win.”
Red had begun to seep in around the edges of the Protector's vision, but even so he knew the darkness had been dispelled. For all of that, a shadow seemed to lay heavy over his eyes. He couldn't breathe, but he could tilt his neck and, as he looked down his form, he saw an inky darkness clinging to him [AFW]. It seemed to squeeze in on him, tighter by the moment, until his very skin felt painfully stretched across his bones. And still the Battlemaster stood before him, impassive.
“Even as we struggle to use the Dark Side, it struggles to make use of us. We become its master, or its slave. There are no other choices. It is a choice we all must make, and it came only be conquered by conquering ourselves.”
Invictus spun on his heel and walked away, gesturing back towards Kerr'ek to release him from the Wraith. The Protector collapsed in the middle of the courtyard, panting, the clouds parting briefly to let the rosy light of dawn halo the human as he drew in gulps of air.
“Remember this lesson, Kerr'ek. I wouldn't like to have to remind you again.”
I actually know the AFW is in the wrong place...but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. Hopefully you'll consider that creative license and not dock me.
Also, sorry for the ridiculous long post...again.