***Sector R-5, Korriban – Valley of the Sith Lords***
Silas sat in silent meditation within the depths of Tulak Hord’s antechamber. The tomb’s empty corridors were no longer capable of even sustaining the predatory life that once acted as its protectors. The cycles beyond count had long ago diminished it from any semblance of its former glory. Previous campaigns had cleared the tomb of any and all artifacts it once possessed and now not even the illustrious prominence of Silas’s skill in Sith Sorcery was able to call its master home. The meteoric rise of the Sith Lord Tormentous, in whose debt Silas had found the inescapable shackles of a power, seemingly always steps ahead of the Echani Sovereign. Having cast aside his former mentor in such a complete manner as to finally strip the seal that had bound the spirit of the Sith Lord Tyrannus to his own being, Silas was for the first time in many cycles completely alone in his thoughts. Silas had hoped to draw forth Tulak Hord in the same manner as he had Dooku and his failing had left him at a loss. ‘I need the insight and perspective of one far beyond a mere duelist if I am to keep pace with Tormentous. If only I could locate Hord I would have at my disposal the very pinnacle of lightsaber combat in which to attune my own. However, even with Jacobi’s resurrection expanding the limits of what I thought possible with Sith Sorcery it seems some relic or artifact connected to the Sith Lord Tulak is required for his spirit to be called forth from the void.’ Silas all but lost his self in deep contemplation as hours slipped by with the former battlemaster attuned his soul with the endless flow of the Living Force. His studies of the remnants of the Jedi Archives flickered within Silas’s subconscious as the adept’s mind sought the answer to his quest. Finally, the notion of greater perspective brought to memory his studies of the Old Republic and its fall. Of all the great Force users during that age two stood out to Silas as the most interesting; The Darth’s Revan and Traya. Though Revan held great promise as a combatant it was Traya’s vast history and knowledge that drew Silas’s thoughts to her. ‘In lieu of a superior duelist a fulcrum of such a war torn age might bear the knowledge I seek,’ Silas mused. Reaching into the very nexus of the Force, Silas called upon the pinnacle of his connection to its strength. Using the core of his being as a beacon to guide the lost soul to him, Silas spoke through the Force calling the specter forth. As the potency of the Force within him magnified Silas words became more pronounced and reached further out into the ephemeral. In the cycles since Silas had first contacted the spirit of the former Count Dooku he had greatly refined his use of Sith Sorcery alongside attaining immense prominence within the Force itself. With this increase Silas discovered that the souls of those that had past were all now firmly at his beckon call. Though Tulak Hord had presented as a divergent case, the same was not true of the mistress of betrayal. As the Sith Lord Traya’s visage was drawn from its rest within the Force, Silas was presented with a countenance which cast aside his preconceptions. “Have you found what you seek from amongst the dead?” The robbed figure was the first to break the silence. Silas allowed a grin as he replied, “I suppose that depends on how you intend to answer my inquiries, for I have many.” The aged woman’s specter continued to grow more pronounced under the influence of Silas’s Sith Sorcery yet her disposition soured. “Am I simply a forgotten tome that you may pick up and once you glean what you will, cast away until you have use of me again?” Silas’s countenance grew stern as he carefully made his reply. “I have sought you out through great effort that I may benefit from knowledge that only you possess. I am bound to a being so great the entity that drew Revan away would be reticent to challenge him.” Silas noted that Traya was quietly allowing him to say his peace and quickly elected to attempt a bargain. “I am not so naïve as to believe you would willingly grant me insight without some form of incentive to do so. The last Sith Lord that responded to my call was granted my keep as a tomb and bound to this physical realm. Is that something you would wish? A chance, if only just, to walk once more among the living or perhaps simply being tied to me as the last was?” Kreia, as those who knew her in life outside of the Sith would have called her, looked away from Silas a moment before returning her gaze to his eyes. “I would that you had left me well enough alone,” the specter offered. Silas grew increasingly worried that he would be denied as Kreia spoke. “I suppose that I won’t be allowed until you are granted what you seek. What questions do you have for me, what answers were worth darkening your own soul?” Silas exhaled in subtle relief before making his reply. “I seek the understanding of your most famed skill, the ability to wield lightsabers in combat with not but the Force to propel them. Beyond that I seek knowledge; almost nothing is left of the Old Republic and even fewer relics and artifacts of the age before that.” Kreia began to chuckle in a mocking tone in response to Silas’s words. “So a Sith and a scholar are we? Curious that you recognize you’re stumbling in the dark. It’s also apparent that you lack that aptitude for telekinetic combat.” Silas lowered his gaze in recognition of the truth of Kreia’s words. “This I cannot deny, while my attunement with the aspect of Sense is so unparalleled that I could locate your spirit from within the endless void, I am greatly hindered in Alteration.” Silas gave pause before adding, “As to the former it has always been my experience that true strength, true power, comes from knowledge. For if a single adept possessed all the vast histories of both Sith and Jedi from every age, would not that Force user become the strongest ever to answer its call?” More laughter followed Silas’s answer and a vile grin pursed the lips of the former Sith’s visage. “It is obvious you lack the refinement of the later or the brutality of the former. You’ve gleaned fragments of teachings from both yet lack the context in which to fully benefit from them. Yet, you are quite a strange case. I can feel the shift and pull through the Force that follows your footsteps.” Kreia allowed Silas give conclusion to her statements before adding, “I will guide you through the steps necessary to learn the skill you have sought. We will then discuss your pursuit of wisdom.” Being granted what he desired Silas responding in a manner most unlike the Sith whom he was now aligned with. Falling to one knee Silas bowed before the former Sith Lord. “I am honored. I will follow your instruction in its totality. Whatever the cost, I must succeed.” The ancient specter began to utter an unsettling cackle, “I of course have a condition that must be met before I am willing to aid you in any manner. You will submit your mind to me completely without any form of resistance.” Silas’s eyes widened in horror as the modest trappings of the figure before him began to cloak itself in darkness revealing the hidden nature of the former Jedi teacher. Darth Traya, as she was once known, narrowed her gaze upon Silas while allowing a wicked grin. “What could you hope to achieve through such an act? Everything within me is crying out to refuse your demand.” Silas could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing firm as he fought against physically recoiling from the ancient Sith Lord. “I seek knowledge just as you do, equivalent exchange child. Deny me and you will never succeed in what you desire.” Even in allowing a former Sith Lord to inhabit his body Silas had never felt more forebode than in the presence of Traya. Primal fear gripped Silas’s heart as sweat beaded upon his brow. ‘This being holds untold knowledge of the Force. There is no telling what she could accomplish simply by sifting through my unprotected mind. Yet, if I continue as I have Tormentous will further lift his self beyond me. It might never be possible to reach Tulak and I will never match the magnitude and fury of the Force at Tormentous’s call. If aligning with Tyrannus, calling forth Sidious, and binding a soul within my being did not kill me then this pact will not mark my end.’ Silas quietly contemplated. Already kneeling Silas lowered his head and cemented his fate, “I accept.” Disturbingly, Silas’s vocalization did not illicit any further laughter or mocking. Traya held silent as she extended her hands toward Silas’s bowed head. Chilling sensations ran the length of Silas’s spine as Traya began to peer into the depths of his sub-consciousness. The fateful duel against Tormentous and Silas’s subsequent fall to the dark side were among the first memories Traya ripped from the Echani noble’s mind (Drain Knowledge). It was not until Silas’s vision became blurred that he noticed the ancient Sith’s use of the Force and by then it was already too late. Traya was not satisfied with merely looking upon the Echani Sovereign’s past as the specter took control over Silas’s supplicant form (Mind Shard). As the images of Silas’s trial by the Galactic Empire rose to the surface the young adept covered his ears as he cried out in agony. Combing across the endless strife of the past cycles the most impactful of Silas’s memories were laid bare before the masterful hand of the ancient Sith Lord. The conflict against the Yuuzhan Vong, the battle aboard Koda Station, the sacking of the Imperial Center, each moment passed before the mind’s eye of the peerless manipulations of Traya. It was not until the infamous Darth sifted through Silas’s childhood that the Sith extracted penance for her services (Memory Wipe). Releasing her hold upon Silas’s shouted in agony as he fought to reclaim the shattered sanctum of his mind. Minutes passed as Silas writhed in torment slowly breaking free from the supernaturally induced comma Traya had encapsulated his consciousness in. In a cold sweat that drenched the whole of his forehead collecting in pools within the armor-weave that guarded Silas’s neck the former battlemaster recovered his senses. In a panting breath Silas cursed Traya aloud, “What horrific fate have you called down upon me you witch?!” Vile laughter returned to the stale air of Tulak’s tomb. “Equivalent exchange child,” Traya silenced Silas bewilderment. “You came for teaching did you not? Then wrest hold of your blade with the Force and we will begin.” It was obvious Traya was deflecting yet, Silas’s burning desire to claim what he had sought at the expense of his own sanity won out. As Traya pushed aside her garments and retrieved a lightsaber hilt with an ephemeral hand Silas swiftly complied. As the pair ignited their respective blades and lifted the luminescent weapons aloft with the power of the Force the ancient Sith spoke, “You sought me out because you lacked the natural affinity for the art you seek to learn. Before any attempt at the technique can be had I must see the limits of your capabilities with its most basic principles. Your skill with the blade is a match for my own. So, let us see how pronounced that depth of ability carries you with a single weapon manipulated through the Force.”
Still shaken from what had transpired Silas slowed his breathing and cleared his mind of distraction. Calling out to the Living Force, Silas basked in its limitless aura as he simultaneously drew forth its untapped potency within his very being. Swiftly reaching the apex of his natural affinity and strength to the Force, Silas readied his self for battle. Stretching out his right hand Silas’s lightsaber responded with near 1:1 efficiency. However, just as he had predicted this connection was anything but perfect. As Traya lashed out with an ethereal blade Silas was quickly shown just how far he was from her equal. With the finesse of well oiled machine Traya manipulated her blade in swift strikes that forced Silas to recoil in defense. Though Silas possessed the magnitude of power necessary to focus powerful telekinetic bursts or lift immensely heavy objects his aptitude for Alteration had always trailed far behind the remaining two aspects. This was made readily apparent as Traya’s blade struck Silas’s lightsaber from his invisible grip leaving him defenseless. “Just a child fumbling in the dark,” Traya snipped. “I’d wager you’ve known about this gap in your aptitudes and have masked its presence until now.” Once more the specter began to laugh sadistically. “It also seems that you’ve kept the darkness of your own heart back, as if to only allow its use to temporarily augment your strength.” The laughter ceased as Traya’s countenance darkened, “If you wish me to teach you that must cease. Call upon the power you understand as the dark side.” It was not a request but a demand on the part of Silas’s new teacher. In order to assure the peak of his strength Silas swiftly bound the spirit of Traya to the antechamber of Tulak’s tomb. With the natural suffocating aura of the Dark Side already present the spirit of the deceased Sith Lord would endure without any further aid from Silas. Giving in to the indignation, hatred, and pain that had caused his fall to begin with Silas called upon the darkness within his self. As Silas’s eyes began to reflect the change with a sickly citrine gleam the former battlemaster began to channel the miasma of the tomb into his being furthering the transformation (Feed on Dark Side). The rise in the potency of the Force at Silas’s call was noticeable as the young adept struggled to contain its energies within the confines of his flesh. Raising her now vibrant crimson blade toward Silas the visage of Traya broke the silence, “Again, strike me down.” Silas could feel his grip upon the hilt of his telekinetically lifted saber tightened as he raised the cobalt hue of the blade to contest the Sith Lord. Taking initiative Silas led the exchange with a sweeping charge of his blade freely manipulating the blade with his outstretched arm. The obvious tell to his attack allowed Traya to easily counter the attack and immediately begin pushing the young master once more. Silas was not as easily overwhelmed as the previous engagement however, as the Echani acolyte found his self able to influence his blade with aspects of the Makashi form. Despite the advancement and the slowed regression against Traya’s mastery Silas was again disarmed. “Have you come to an understanding yet? The nature of the Force that is ignorantly derided as inherently dark or worse evil.” Silas looked to Traya, waiting for the ancient specter to explain her self further. “Your fall was not unprecedented but your soul’s response just might be.” As Traya selected her words carefully Silas grew increasingly vexed, “So what is holding me back then since you have obviously deduced that already?” Traya’s eyes narrowed upon Silas’s own, “You have become an encumbrance unto yourself. You have all the necessary knowledge and training to overcome this disability and learn the technique. However, you will continue to fail.” Silas began to feel hatred for the very entity he had brought forth. “Accept what you have become and free yourself from the shackles of your own mind. You must be made whole within the Force.” Silas was at a loss, “Explain, cease with these cryptic speeches and tell me how to accomplish what you speak!” Traya shook her head in defiance, “I have spoke with clarity. I’ll entertain no further discussion. This step must be achieved on your own.” In all his fury Silas could not deny the reality of his internal conflict. Despite the darkening of his soul in the wake of the final confrontation with Tormentous, Silas had never been forced to face the dramatic change that had accompanied his fall. Knowing that Traya’s touching upon the rapid increase in an acolyte’s abilities when drawing upon the dark side of the Force held merit and that such an improvement had yet to be seen in his own progression, Silas was left little alternative than to turn from Traya. Sitting down in a meditative pose Silas closed his eyes and focused on the maelstrom that emanated from the conflict within him. ‘The struggle to maintain my own identity through this metamorphosis, if there is to be a focal point for my resistance to the dark side of the Force it must lay there,’ Silas mused as he quelled the natural flow of the Force within his core. As the flow diminished the darkness grew and began to consume Silas. Silas’s body began to tremble as the potent Dark Side energies overwhelmed his flesh. Despite his masterful control the newfound strength swelled and radiated outward beyond his physical form. The void swiftly began to blot out the already dim light of the antechamber as the light faded from Silas’s eyes. Through the sight allowed through the Force, Traya beheld the embers of Silas’s soul spark and ignite with a black fire. The contrast between this moment and the aftermath of the battle with Tormentous was immense. Though the conflict with the Sith Lord had left Silas unable to touch the light he now stood at the precipice of an abyss. “Hearth and home…” Silas spoke to the quiet of the antechamber as he all but mourned the loss of his better nature in the face of what he knew had to be done. Having seen the empire’s biological weapon make its descent into madness as well as the deity of war’s transmutation Silas knew he might never recover from a true union with the Dark Side of the Force. Historically the divergent path from the light was a subtle, increasingly intoxicating journey. The line between craven tool of the very power the individual sought to harness, and competent practitioner blurring over time. For Silas that walk had reached a natural conclusion and for the first moment since his discovery of the true nature of the entity that dwelt within him, he let go the ironclad grasp of the sanctuary that was his mind. In response to the supplication of a willing vessel the raw, unfiltered power of the Dark Side erupted within Silas. A literal spire of supernatural force burst from Silas’s ethereal form. The rupture within the unseen quickly expanded in circumference, threatening to overtake the limits of the antechamber. Of course, such gaudy displays signified the inexperience of an acolyte as well as a pronounced waste of potential. Not unaccustomed to this fact Silas’s immediate reaction to the incredible surge of dark side energies was to recall the radiant force to his core. With adamant will Silas wrested hold over the darkness and commanded it to withdraw. Through great strain the young sovereign succeed in curtailing the rampant expenditure. As the last of the great swell of Dark Side energies were claimed by the Echani noble Silas’s eyes snapped open. All that remained in the wake of the great tide was a distinct vacant cold. Silas then rose to his feet yet uttered no word as he turned back to the specter of old.
No revelation of new found identity or pronouncement of attainment followed Silas’s awakening. Yet, as the young noble sharpened his focus and refined the flow of dark side energies within him the long forgotten spirits that once inhabited the Sith tomb began to stir. Surveying the disturbance within Tulak’s antechamber Traya’s countenance sharpened. “Ah, I see. Well then let us begin anew. This time free from the prison of your own mind.” The ancient Sith was quite astute in her perceptions yet her words garnered no verbal riposte. Instead, Silas drew forth each of his lightsabers and channeled the Force to his hands. Forging an invisible telekinetic bond with each of the curved silver hilts Silas mastered his will through the Force and lifted the pair free from his grip. In response the specter of the Sith Lord summoned three such light-weapons and ignited their lethal ephemeral blades. With Silas’s newfound acceptance of the dark side the young acolyte no longer possessed his long held ineptitude for the alteration aspect of the Force. Accordingly, Silas quickly discovered a phenomenal increase in his control over his telekinetically held lightsabers. Igniting the twin cobalt blades Silas launched an assault upon the defenses of his instructor. Simplistic rapid strikes were of no avail as Traya stood firm in the face of Silas’s offensive. Noting the limitations in such maneuvers Silas concentrated solely on the movement of his blades adding the finesse associated with a swordsman of his caliber. In stark contrast to their previous movements Silas’s lightsabers soon prodded and probed the perimeter of Traya’s defenses with the elegance of the Makashi form. The increased strain of such finite manipulations was notable and not lost on Silas as he struggled to expand his focus in order to encompass his opponent as well. However, as soon as Silas managed to get within an arm’s distance of landing a blow upon the ancient Sith Lord the specter moved from its fixed position. The slight maneuver allowed Traya the opportunity to fend of the attack and with an advantage in weapon count begin to push Silas’s blades back. ‘I was right to not lose sight of Traya herself. A true master of this technique is free to move as they please. A true asset in any battle of attrition where positioning decides victory,’ Silas contemplated as even the refined form of his lightsabers slowly lost ground to the three crimson blades manipulated by his unscrupulous teacher. Sensing the momentum shift Silas recalled his lightsabers and disengaged their luminous blades. Recognizing Silas’s desire for a reprieve Traya ceased the advance of her own lightsabers. Fatigue hit Silas hard as he released his hold over the hilts and returned them to his belt. The exertion necessary to induce known forms into telekinetically held weapons was exponential in nature and Silas’s unfamiliarity with the art left him physically drained. Using his time efficiently Silas access his com-link and placed a requisition for thirty additional lightsabers to be fulfilled by the servants to the Red Cauldron. In the span of two hours Silas’s request, one that could not be otherwise fulfilled outside of the Sith or Jedi Orders, was fulfilled in full as an envoy met him outside of the dilapidated Tomb of Tulak Hord. Returning to the antechamber Silas renewed his focus and potency within the Force as he took his training a step further. Leaving his own lightsaber hilts attached to his belt Silas selected three of the weapons that he had requisitioned and forged a connection through the Force with each. Lifting the three lightsabers aloft Silas activated their lethal blades and faced once more the visage of Darth Traya. “I see, you seek to match me in count. You will soon arrive at an understanding of exactly how lofty that desire truly is.” Traya warned in foreboding terms. Silas’s countenance had remained unaltered from the moment he embraced the darkness that had awaited him for so many long cycles. In defiance of his instructors words Silas honed his focus solely upon the three sabers he sought to manipulate. Yet, there was truth in the warning as Silas found his mind to be divided attempting to balance the movement of the three weapons. Just as no swordsman would ever wield three blades at once, the manipulation through the Force of so many also seemed to defy convention. Were it not for Silas’s vast experience and aptitude for detecting lethal harm as it neared him the first few sequences against his instructor would have ended in disaster. ‘Just as battle meditation requires a broader focus perhaps that might be the key to this art as well,’ Silas mused as he retreated. Attempting to sure up the glaring holes in his defenses as the masterful Traya all but dissected his injection of proper form into his telekinetic sabers, Silas shifted to the most accurate representation of Soresu he could achieve. Biding as much time as possible, Silas closed his eyes and reached out through the Force and honed his senses upon the hilts of his lightsabers. Silas could almost feel the cold metal as it cut against the stale air of the room just as he could sense the intensity of their weightless blades. If it were in Silas to allow levity in that moment he would have smiled at the realization of how superior the Sith of legend’s skills were to his as even his best defense was prodded and manipulated in a manner that would only serve to allow Traya opportunity to strike directly at Silas. Despite his earlier assumption however, the moment Silas attempted to merely influence his weapons as he might a conflict through battle meditation his foremost blade was deflected as another knifed in toward his being. Silas was forced to leap away and grant even less desirable positioning to his attacker. Recalling his sabers to a mere meter from his body Silas used the decreased distance to augment his manipulation of the blades. “Do you really think this is some grandiose game of strategy boy? That you are the commander of some countless number that can be sacrificed in all manner of feints and diversions?” The chastising voice of his teacher stung deep into Silas’s consciousness. “No, that is folly. This ability is exactly as transparent as you first suspected. Its limits are your limits.” Traya needn’t continue further as Silas knew exactly what the old Sith was suggesting. The offensive against Silas had ceased during Traya’s berating and Silas took the moment of calm after to refine his focus. Shifting one saber vertically overhead, another at his right flank, and the last at his left flank, Silas slowed his breathing and tightened his focus.
Concentrating of the strength of his grip on each of the hilts, Silas then poured the entirety of his being into the manipulation and movement require of each weapon in order to wield them as if by his own hands. To start Silas began with the form he knew best and in that the manner the form he stood the best chance of effectively mastering with telekinetic combat; Makashi. As the pair clashed at first it seemed not much had changed from Silas’s first efforts as Traya was able to effectively blunt through the elegant form and maintain pressure on the Echani. Yet, as the contest continued Silas’s defenses held firm and did not allow a breach as they had during his first attempt. Using his vertical most lightsaber to parry and then using the saber from his right flank to feint a thrust directly toward Traya, Silas came within inches of making contact with the blade from his left flank with a wide sweeping slash. It was only as Traya guarded the blow with the circularity of a Soresu practitioner that the Black Hand of the Red Cauldron was finally able to properly gauge the gap in ability between his self and his new master. ‘She is not only able to utilize a different form with each lightsaber but is seamlessly able to transition between them at will and seemingly with no exertion!’ Silas exclaimed internally. Determined to not only match the ancient Sith’s level of skill but to surpass it Silas once more recalled his blades. Pouring the totality of the darkside energies that he had attuned with his soul into the connection he shared with each of the three lightsabers under his control Silas cried out in anguish. To the left flank he chose Ataru, above he selected Makashi, and finally to his right Silas relied upon Soresu. Trays could immediately sense the change and detect the flow of the Force as it magnified in intensity. Recognizing Silas’s increased understanding of the telekinetic combat Traya allowed a vile grin as she renewed her assault. Silas used his right flank as a shield to rely upon as the saber above his head elegantly deflected the onslaught in sequence with the left guard’s blade clashing back against Traya’s own. It was an effective stalemate until Traya mirrored Silas’s chosen form’s and in effect pushed the Echani to the very limits of ability. Silas’s breathing started to become labored as sweat beaded and began to pour down his forehead in response to the great strain placed upon his mind. By mimicking Silas’s own selected forms Traya had removed any advantage he could have held through natural counters. Silas acknowledged the biting wisdom in this move as it forced victory through skill alone and at this time that meant the ancient Sith superiority would shine through. Feeling the momentum shift against him Silas switched tactics. Using the Makashi and Soresu forms in tandem Silas placed an even greater emphasis on defense. In stark contrast to this Silas then wielded the Ataru form from the third saber in reckless abandon. For the very first moment since Silas had called her forth this strategy earned the Black Hand a degree of praise. “Ah, so it is. It seems you are beginning to understand. To truly use this ability to its fullest you must possess the knowledge of a swordsman, the power of a master, and the guile of a tactician.” At that Traya matched Silas’s Ataru with her Soresu blade and his Makashi with her own before recalling her Ataru blade to her hand.
Left with his ‘shield’ Silas lacked a swift strike necessary to capitalize on the void in numbers before Traya advanced. Silas was almost in shock as the ancient Sith moved with augmented speed. Recalling his Soresu blade to his hand as he retreated, Silas’s eyes were literally opened to a completely new front in this war of attrition. In no manner did Trayas’s telekinetically held sabers slow their movements or lose refinement in their maneuvers as the Sith closed the distance on her target. Silas’s sabers loss the crisp edge on their movements as his focus was called away to the immediate threat to his person. After slapping aside Silas’s Soresu saber Traya was freed to claim his flesh and the Echani was left reeling. With obvious loss of positioning to his other sabers Silas augmented his own movement and recalled his Soresu blade to his hand. Almost as if she had waited for that moment Traya clashed with Silas’s lightsaber the moment he grasped the hilt. Curiously, as Silas pushed the Sith back and off the saber lock he soon found himself to hold the edge in bladework as well as speed. Yet, the divide between the pair when it came to the broader conflict was made readily apparent as Traya’s blades made it beyond Silas’s own. This allowed Traya to turn the tables on Silas as she immediately pressed her assault aided by a three prong attack. Despite Silas’s impeccable skill and even the gap in ability between his self and Traya the Echani sovereign was overwhelmed. As Silas recalled the two sabers that had been cast out of position he was left to guard three simultaneous attacks. Even with the masterful positioning of the Makashi form Silas was nearly slain as the second of Traya’s two telekinetically held blades managed a thrust past his guard, missing within millimeters of the Echani’s neck. Recoiling in pain, Silas managed to evade Traya’s follow up strike and re-position his self to her right flank biding enough time for his wayward sabers to close the distance to their opposing counterparts. As the four levitated sabers clashed overhead Silas took the opportunity to alter the form of his telekinetically held pair. Altering both blades to utilize the Soresu form Silas looked to capitalize on the minute disparity between his skill and Traya’s lightsaber combat ability. The gambit succeeded as Silas began pressing his instructor who could no longer breach the defenses of either of his telekinetically held sabers. Silas’s Makashi form was a picturesque art allowing the Black Hand to pressure even the refined technique of an ancient Sith lord such as Traya. Even as Traya lost ground the powerful darksider user displayed an eerie calm. Instead, the wily Sith parried Silas’s next thrust and then leapt back lifting her previously held lightsaber telekinetically just in front of herself. Reaching out with her freed left hand Traya drew forth yet another hilt and ignited the blade as it flew to its new master. Silas was flummoxed, as the specter held aloft four lightsabers simultaneously and cackled ominously. “Neither in all the historical records nor the vids that have survived did your abilities extend beyond three blades.” Silas remarked in an almost broken tone. “As if there would be accurate accounts regarding one such as myself,” Traya snapped back. Already pressed to what Silas had presumed was the limit of his ability, the Black Hand stood both perplexed and irritated. Refusing to allow his self to be eclipsed even by a legend such as Traya, Silas turned and summoned forth three additional hilts. Igniting the blades Silas lifted all six lethal sabers dauntingly before him. The added strain was immense and likely beyond the Echani noble’s current capability to wield. “If it were only so simple, come now I shall enlighten you to your shortcomings.” At Traya’s beckoning Silas did not advance electing instead to sit down in a meditative pose. The dethatched meekness took the Sith specter by surprise as it was in stark contrast to Silas’s earlier mentality. Holding onto another three lightsabers though mental focus and the potency of the Force alone was no easy task as Silas struggled to maintain artificial autonomy for each weapon. However, as Silas had progressed the relative light weight of the lightsaber hilts overall had slowly became less noticeable to the point of being a non-factor in his control over the technique. Traya did not remain idle for long as the ancient Sith Lord cast her blades out and clashed against the perimeter Silas had created. Having adapted the Soresu form with two of his formerly held blades Silas had attempted to replicate the form across each of the six lightsabers now under his control. Attending to each of Traya’s sabers as they collided against his guard Silas found his self pleased. ‘I no longer lack the speed or even the strength in the movement of each lightsaber. In fact, the only element truly needing refined is my ability to coordinate their movement simultaneously. As well as gaining experience with manipulating as many as possible separated to the very limit of my control,’ Silas remarked internally as he studied the movement of the lethal blades. Demonstrating the disparity in their mastery Traya used two of her sabers to lock down three of Silas’s allowing a third of her sabers to breach Silas’s defenses. The velocity of the wayward lightsaber was beyond Silas’s ability to compensate, even as Silas recalled a blade from his outer perimeter to catch the Traya’s saber it was already too late. The crimson light impaled Silas in the chest, causing the collapse of his levitated blades as the Black Hand cried out in agony. Silas’s eyes snapped open as his focus was shattered by the pain only to realize that the weapon that had embedded itself into his flesh had been supernatural in nature. Traya recalled the fiery weapon with vile laughter as Silas reeled in agony, coughing and spitting while grasping at his chest. Unsure whether it had been an intentional selection on the part of the Sith Lord or not, Silas called forth what strength he had left and with sparks jettisoning from his left hand used the raw nature of the dark side to temporarily address the searing wound (Repair). Leaping back with a final anguished vocalization Silas renewed the invisible tethers that bound the six hilts to his command of the Force. “You’ll only receive more of the same should you continue,” Traya snipped as Silas raised the hilts into the stale air of the antechamber and ignited their respective blades.
Silas’s resolve was not shaken as the young adept once more faced of with a master of the very technique he wished to now refine. “Three or four blades are insufficient. If this ability is too truly aid me surpass Tormentous I not only need to maintain as many as six but retain access to my original two as well.” Traya all but cackled in absolute indignation to Silas’s assessment. “You set an unobtainable goal for yourself. After all, do you see the very inspiration for your training replicating that display?” It was obvious that the final stage of Silas’s training in telekinetic combat would be both defining and attaining the limit of the technique. “Then let us both see exactly how close I can come to reaching that goal.” Traya scowled as Silas reached out for an additional two hilts and recalled his own to his hands. Having already failed to maintain a perimeter even in meditation Silas his self was unsure as to how effectively he could manipulate so many separate blades. However, holding onto to the two lightsabers he himself had personally assembled Silas felt some assurance he could compensate for any deficiencies. As the pair clashed once more one fact became immediately clear to the Black Hand, ‘at this count I am unable to augment my speed or the skill of my blade!’ Though Silas was able to deflect and penetrate beyond Traya’s furthest held saber his efforts to maintain six independent blades were poorer for it. Sluggish in response to his influence, Traya’s sabers knifed through the perimeter of Silas’s guard. Feeding off of Silas’s own stubbornness Traya recalled the blade from her right flank to her hand. Dashing toward the already embattled Echani, Traya pressed Silas even harder as the ancient Sith augmented her own speed. Though Silas as a swordsman was a degree greater than Traya even at her peak his desire to maintain so many airborne lightsabers denied him the ability to match the Sith Lord’s speed. Recalling three of his telekinetically held sabers to deflect the pair that had breached his outward perimeter Silas struggled to avoid lethal strikes as the saber Traya now held had been requisitioned and was not ethereal in nature. Despite Silas’s impeccable skill with the Makashi form the Black Hand received several lashes to his arms and legs, further marring the former beauty of his heirloom armor. The moment Silas’s recalled blades reached their targets the cunning adept managed to catch Traya’s blade in a momentary lock, just long enough to propel the specter backwards and allow him enough time to flee. Leaping backwards with a supernaturally enhanced bound Silas disengaged the two lightsabers he held. Landing on one knee Silas immediately closed his eyes and withdrew his six telekinetic sabers to just two meters in front of his new position. With a rapidly closing window of opportunity Silas closed his eyes once more and refocused his control over the floating blades. Drawing upon his powerful connection with the Living Force, Silas attuned his spirit to the will of its endless flow. Calling upon the limitless nature and all encompassing presence of the natural wellspring of unseen might, Silas reached the absolute limit of his spiritual strength. With the boundless energies of the raw, untapped energies of both the Living Force and the inherent magnification of the Dark Side that dwelt within Tulak Hord’s tomb Silas refined his ability with telekinetic combat to its apex (Enhance Skill: Telekinetic Lightsaber Combat). The immediate visual effect of Silas’s newfound mastery was akin to the effect a fleet under the effects of a potent wielder of battle meditation might display. The six different blades began moving in tandem producing far more clever feints and timed deflections granting pause even to the peerless experience of Darth Traya. In disregard of this apparent increase in tactical precision the ancient Sith’s sabers remained crisper in their movement and better representations of the form’s Traya wished to augment them with. Nevertheless Silas succeeded in pushing back against the Sith Lord and forcing a slow recession of ground as the advantage of number swung momentum back to his side. This small victory did not slate Silas’s unyielding desire for power as the cunning Echani recognized the pure defensive utility of his resumed meditation. Opening his eyes Silas recalled one of the myriad of sabers at his disposal and disengaged the blade before casting it aside. Standing to his feet Silas once more retrieved his own hand crafted hilts from his belt and ignited their luminous cobalt blades. Traya, as if by a sixth sense, immediately capitalized on both the lessening of number and the minute reduction of refinement in skill. Silas was also quite aware of the slight loss of movement in each of the five remaining sabers but more than this it was the inability to channel the Force to augment his body that stood out to the Black Hand. ‘It seems the extreme limit of this art alongside any necessary personal enhancement or movement must be four lightsabers.’ Silas mused as he cast yet another saber aside disengaged. Inducing a formation of two high and two at his mid section each at his right and left flanks respectively Silas sprinted forward to meet the charge of his teacher. Testing out the very limit of the art Silas granted each of his telekinetically held sabers a different form as he himself adopted the Vaapad Form. Knowing that his chosen form was the most demanding of those under his study Silas was able to test the accuracy of his telekinetic combat under the most challenging of circumstances. Interestingly, with the intense offensive provided by Vaapad, Silas was able to press Traya greatly threatening to slay the specter outright. In response to Silas’s physically held sabers the Sith Lord had recalled the one lightsaber not created through the ephemeral to her hand. However, though skilled as any master in the art of lightsaber combat Traya was certainly not as focused in swordsmanship as Silas and with the added pressure of the Black Hand’s use of Jar’Kai the Sith was left reeling and on the defensive. Even as the moments of her telekinetically manipulated sabers yet surpassed those of Silas’s the advantage of numbers and the added need to recall one or two at a time to defend against the Echani’s own assault left Traya recoiling in surprise. With Silas’s absolute commitment to the technique alongside the peak of his command of the Force the demand on his stamina was immense. Lacking a physical body the specter that Silas had summoned posed a significant threat if not defeated swiftly as the pinnacle of his ability could not be maintained indefinitely.
Silas’s haste was almost his undoing, though the Sith Lord was still yet a shadow of the being that had influenced the fabric of the galaxy in the years after her death. Darth Traya reached out with her off hand and lashed out through the Force as luminous crimson energy leapt outward in every direction and claimed Silas’s flesh. The greatest weakness of Jar’Kai was also the ancient Sith’s last remaining alternative, as Traya used the Force to manipulate the energies of Silas’s own body in a technique known more commonly as the Drain Life technique (Manipulate Life Force). The moment Silas felt his strength start to wane he swiftly cast aside his off-hand saber and with a modest reduction to his augmented speed channeled the Force to his newly freed hand (Block Force Ability). Reaching a stalemate through the Force, and a deficit in bladework, Traya was soon overwhelmed by the peak of Silas’s swordsmanship. In a matter of a mere five sequences after Silas denied the Drain Life technique the Black Hand struck down the phantom of the ancient Sith Lord. Though the visage of the specter dissipated, its presence remained heavy and looming within the antechamber. Exhausted from his exertions and witnessing the vanquished ancient vanish from sight Silas disengaged the myriad of sabers under his command. “This leaves one last loose end,” Silas spoke to the darkness as he collected his self and sat a final time in meditation. Though the limits of the telekinetic combat had been realized as an offensive art, yet, the fullness of its defensive capabilities had yet to be fully studied. After a measure of rest Silas closed his eyes and called out to the Force to once more fill his being. Reaching out to the six blades that had been in use during his last stand against Traya, Silas lifted their number overhead. Igniting the blades, Silas began rotating the lightsabers in a spherical perimeter around his seated epicenter. Unlike his prior manipulations Silas did not allow a single hilt to flourish as the static blades revolved around him. “More,” Silas spoke as he called yet another saber to his command and began to slowly spin each of the seven blades in unison. ‘More, there must be a breaking point,’ Silas exclaimed internally as his long hours of training only served a deterrent to his goal. In response the Black Hand called for yet the eight lightsaber to his fold. The mere sound from the simultaneous movement of the cache of light-weapons seemed deafening as their lethal ordinance began to claim portions of the antechamber. Silas could sense his hold slipping as the simultaneous movements of the spinning blades cleaved the walls and floor of the Tomb. Lust for power, pride, and craven desire fueled Silas to start interweaving the rotations of the eight sabers. ‘This may be the absolute limit of any barrier I could hope to form. Yet…’ Silas contemplated as a blade weaved within a quarter meter of his body. Determined to find the breaking point of the technique and his own limits Silas accelerated the movement of the blades while falling back on the full depths of his ability to detect incoming harm (Danger Sense). Wild sweeping blades of light danced in a storm surrounding Silas as the Black Hand pushed his self far past the point of personal safety. Eventually fatigue robbed Silas of just enough control that a single lightsaber fell out of rotation and off course far enough to cascade into Silas’s back. The blade swept vertically upward superheating the plates of Silas’s armor and cauterizing his flesh as it passed. In agony and fear, Silas’s eyes snapped open as the Echani threw each of his arms outward and cast the remaining lightsabers to the far corners of the room. Despite this effort a second blade, already on collision course, struck the young noble across his chest in a horizontal swing. As the lightsabers disengaged, and Silas cried out in violent screams before toppling over, the tomb darkened before his eyes. Unknown to the newest member of the Red Cauldron the wounds were not life threatening though their marks would never leave his body. Silas had succeeded were almost all had failed. Silas would not make this realization for several hours after he had once more regained consciousness.
Last edited by Highblade on 6:15 AM - Jun 30, 2017, edited 4 times in total.
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