AA Ladder: Kerrek vs. Invictus - Round 1


09-08-2011 21:57:17

The air was crisp and cold upon the plateau of the Citadel. It was eerily quiet in the courtyard, the familiar silence of dawn that seemed to sap the energy from anyone unlucky enough to be up at such an hour. The vivid hues of daybreak were somewhat sullen this sunrise, though; drained by the thick dark clouds above. The customary moistness of morning added a cool humidity to the climate inside the courtyard’s low walls, but it did little to wet the dry throats of the three Arconans perched above Estle. The courtyard was a picture of beauty: luscious grass, marbled walkways and flowerbeds that decked the opening to the Citadel. All of it a wonderful façade for what went on behind the onyx walls.

Wuntila stood in front of the Citadel, garbed in a heavy black cloak that fluttered mildly with the breeze. Kerr'ek and Invictus looked at their Proconsul and knelt, bowing their heads as they did so.

“You are both here because you chose to look fate in the eyes. Remember the rules, don’t get ahead of yourselves and fight like Arconans.” Wuntila turned on his heel, his cloak billowing, and disappeared into the shadow of the Citadel.

Both fighters looked at each other and rose. They marched off in opposite directions and faced each other, waiting in anticipation for their signal.

They didn’t have to wait long.

“Begin!” The Proconsul barked. The two combatants heard the heavy stone doors of the Citadel echo across Estle.

(Invictus to Post First)


12-08-2011 03:10:46

My apologies for the length. This post got away from me just a bit.

Dawn's dull light stole across the courtyard, flitting behind the dark clouds that blanketed the sky. The air was chilly, even for so early an hour, and the Sith Battlemaster could feel the frost biting at his exposed flesh. There wasn't much of it – there seldom was with so many scars to cover – but his fingertips and nose were bare and they burned with the dawn's frigid caress. It made little sense, he knew. Selen's temperatures seldom reached the point of freezing and were nowhere near that now. That knowledge, however, did little to alleviate the effort expended controlling his body's shivering.

Another sign of the madness, no doubt. I tried to tell you it would worsen, but would you listen? You keep insisting on this delusion that you're more clever than I am.

With effort he managed to quiet the voice and reach out to the Force, draining the battery of his lightsaber ever so slightly to burn away the unnatural chill that had lodged itself within him[DRE]. It worked, though he could faintly smell, if not feel, the burnt hair that resulted.

One thing is sure, at least, he thought, the voice his own this time. This will be an interesting fight.

The Chiss's once-crimson gaze - now a mottled, multi-hued mixture of a half dozen shades – settled on the younger Sith standing opposite him. The human was new, to Arcona and the Force, but he was strong for all that. Though Th'rall might lack the technique and precision Invictus had spent the past decade developing, in terms of sheer power they were on a level.

He'll be too eager to prove himself, and sloppy as a result.

The voice was not his own, but he knew the words for truth nonetheless.

Forcing into his gait a vigor he hardly felt, the Aedile strode steadily towards Kerr'ek, unclasping his lightsaber from its belt clip as he neared the midpoint. Lacking that convenience, the Protector's blade was already in hand as he closed the remaining distance between the two combatants. He hefted the shaft, bouncing it lightly on his palm, a look of concentration apparent in his verdant eyes. There was something else behind the concentration, some quality that gnawed at the corner of the Battlemaster's mind.

Vanity, he thought as he reached out towards his opponent with the Force [SNS]. A common trait for an aspiring Sith. A common handicap.

Their blades had yet to cross; for the Chiss, however, the battle had already begun.

Let's borrow a page from Sashar's book, shall we? The voices remained silent, but he could clearly feel their assent.

“Forget what pathetic scraps you think you may have learned before this, boy. They will do naught but serve you ill, here.”

Invictus felt the Human clamp down on his anger, a reaction born of his vanity. “As you say, Battlemaster.”

Forcing a growl he hardly felt, the Aedile struck with the Force [SHK]. Th'rall reacted to the jolt instinctively [PCG], dodging to his left just in time to catch the pommel of Invictus's lightsaber on his jaw. As the Journeyman fell back a step, the Chiss gestured to his opponent's right hand.

“Is that a sword? Then stop holding it like one! It does you no good deactivated, nor clutched tight like a woman's purse.”

A snap-hiss filled the courtyard as the former Combat Master lit his own blade, it's cerulean glow entwining with the ever-shifting light of dawn to bathe the courtyard in a faintly violet cast. Without another word, he struck.

The Protector was new, but apparently far from stupid. He brought his own blade into line, igniting it as he did so and catching the sweeping blow in a high guard. A loaner from the Armory, the saber had no doubt been taken from a fallen Jedi. Though its once-chrome surface was tarnished with disuse, the emerald blade was more than serviceable. With a grunt of effort, the Human threw back his opponent and struck, thrusting his lightsaber at the Battlemaster's sternum.

Invictus parried, catching the blade on his own and twisting his wrist, twirling his blade around the shorter man's and pushing it to the side. He stepped into the counter and it became a riposte, his own saber darting out for his adversary's gullet. Kerr'ek felt the blow coming [PCG] and retreated a step, barely saving his life. The skin of his neck was blistered as he backed away and the sickly-sweet odor of burnt flesh filled the elder Sith's nostrils. Like the coppery taste of blood, it was a smell he always savored.

Fury filled the Protector, less from the pain than from the disfigurement he would bear, no matter how temporary. In an instant he forgot his carefully practiced sword forms, so useless with the lighter and more maneuverable lightsaber, and simply attacked. Invictus blocked the first overhead slash, and deftly parried the follow-up that swept across the line of his chest. Even as he pushed the emerald blade aside, the Aedile found himself spinning to his right to avoid a knife-hand blow to his throat. The blow was unpracticed, but vicious and unexpected nonetheless.

Tim said he had potential. Is it time to take another Apprentice?

The Chiss ended his spin with a reverse snap-kick, long years of experience letting him know without thought that his opponent's blade was clear. A loud crack echoed through the empty courtyard as the cartilage shattered, blood gushing from the Human's nose. Despite the shock, Th'rall reacted quickly to the blow, using the Force to minimize the blood-flow and keep his eyes from welling shut [CRE].

“You won't be so popular with the ladies when we're through,” taunted Invictus, mocking the Protector to keep him off-balance.

Kerr'ek's emotions were plain; his rage and injured pride struggling for supremacy were as clear as any shout. He may have been a calm man in the outside world, for all the Aedile knew, but his new exposure to the Dark Side would have thrown any self-control to the wind. Despite that, there was an iron will beneath that refused to be broken.

Teach him to control it, to harness it, to use it lest it use him. The thought was not his own, feminine despite its harsh practicality. Nonetheless, it was right.

He'll have to learn to master it if he's to be my student. If not... If not, there were other ways to to deal with the Journeyman.

The Force filled the two combatants, dark as night and gray as dusk, while the light filtered through the clouds to bathe them in its rosy glow. Their blades cut the air with twin shrieks, locking together in mid-swing, an identical rictus of effort painting both faces. For just a moment, in the combined cyan light, their visages seemed to suggest a kinship. With a growl of effort from the Aedile the saber lock ended, and the kinship with it. The combatants stepped away from each other, giving themselves a few moments to breathe. The illusion of closeness had ended – they were clearly two different species again. Still, their eyes met as they caught their breath and the younger Sith saw something new there. The Chiss acknowledged the grudging respect with the briefest of nods, then set himself for Kerr'ek's renewed attack.

Perhaps Timeros was right about him after all...


12-08-2011 11:40:54

For a few brief moments after the pair had initially engaged one another, Kerr’ek had a chance to collect his thoughts and form a few new ones. Wiping the blood from his nose, mouth and chin, he felt an internal sense of pride, albeit on a very small level. The fact that he was still standing gave him feelings of accomplishment and confidence, which were bolstered by what he could feel from his Master [SNS].

“Master, the ladies will always want me. Scars or no scars, they always come around”, Kerr’ek retorted in a moment of levity. Invictus, allowing the corners of his mouth to slightly rise into a smirk, let his Apprentice know he was right. Removing the exchange of humor from his mind, Kerr’eks thoughts returned to the task at hand.

Is he just toying with me? Is he going to take it easy on me since it’s my first skirmish? What if…..Kerr’ek stopped this line thought.

Calm yourself. Relax. Hide your feelings. Show him what you’ve learned. Surprise him.

The short lag time between blows had been enough. Kerr’ek, feeling he had adequately composed himself and his thoughts, had what he needed to move on the offensive. He had to be careful. He knew his Master was ready and waiting.

With the pale light of dawn still lingering, Kerr’ek reignited his lightsaber with an over exaggerated motion as he took a few quick steps in the Battlemaster’s direction. For the first time, he could feel a fluidity come over him, such as that the Force was an actual extension of his physical self. Without a moment of hesitation, the Apprentice banished the ever so fragile morning light that surrounded the pair of Sith [TWL]. Realizing that he may only have seconds to continue the combination, Kerr’ek was able to reach for his Master and in doing so, grabbed the Equites forearm. With a sudden, unexpected rush, Invictus felt his Apprentice inject him with a lethargic, almost sickening wave [MAL]. Spinning around behind his Master and taking a few steps back, Kerr’ek wasn’t quite sure what had just happened.

What did I just do? It was effortless. It felt so….natural the journeyman thought to himself.

Invictus, after a short fit of vomiting and disorientation, regained his resolve. He outwardly displayed surprise, rage, and pride for his Apprentice all at the same time.

Having tired himself considerably, the young Sith tried to cling to his brief moment of grandeur. The two quick displays of his Force powers had taken their toll. Seeing this, Invictus had time to recover completely from the attack.

“I see my teachings have not all been wasted, young one. But you must also be prepared to get as you have given.”

Still suffering from the near exhaustion he caused himself, Kerr’ek looked to his Master, only to see him with an outstretched arm, aimed to where he was standing [TES]. Feeling something with the density of durasteel wrap itself around both of his ankles, his feet were abruptly pulled together and then out from under him. Kerr’ek felt the impact of the cold marbled walkway in the courtyard against his back.

I think I am about to learn something very valuable here.


14-08-2011 02:32:28

Death Post
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. :P

Nadrin Arconae

16-08-2011 17:28:30

Kerrek failed to post in the time limit

Invictus advances