Light, Dark. Those are words that allow people to break the Galaxy into good and evil, to categorise virtue and vice. There is the angel on your shoulder, and the devil. It's all too simple. Commit atrocities, blame it on an external demon you had no control over. But there is no naughty demon that will pounce on you if you stray from the one true code.
There is temptation. There are evil spirits, just as there are benign ones. But the only darkness I have to fear is the one inside my heart. I suppose my birth mother would disapprove of my choices, but I do not care. As for my father, by all rights he should be in the lowest pit of hell and be reborn as a cockroach. If he manages to claw his way out of hell, I should have some surprises for him.
When I brought Nyssa to Firemane, many thought it was a ploy. That she was just waiting for a stance to stick a knife between my ribs. I'll admit, I suspected the same. I've been in her head, after all. Maybe it was her plan at first. But somewhere along the lines, she changed. Showing her mercy was the right thing. I won't lie. Nyssa is...rough. She is crude, arrogant and xenophobic. But she's never pretended to be anything else. Never fed me anything other than the unfiltered truth. She's always been there when it mattered.
So here we are in a forest. "Blame that whiny Togruta brat for holding me up," Nyssa huffs when she shows. It has been a while. "Silly brat just turned eighteen, and thinks she's the next chosen one. Not that the original one was worth anything, but I digress."
"Let me guess, you left her in tears."
"And bruises. Princess Padawan needs a thicker skin. And some practical wardrobe advice."
It's one of those days. "What's her name?"
"Something pompous and forgettable, no doubt."
I suppres a sigh. "Nyssa, you really should remember the names of your students."
"I'll remember them when it turns out they're worth my time. Maybe you should tell your mother to assign trainees to me that don't live in fairy tale land."
"I'm afraid the day Siobhan takes instructions from me is the day you turn into a champion of equality and become a pacifist." I cannot see a death glare, but I am certain it is there. "Besides, I'm dead certain she assigns the most 'difficult' students to you because she thinks you're good at breaking them in."
"If it goes on like this, I may break them."
"Nyssa, you will not be breaking any students, Togruta or otherwise. No matter how annoying they are. Beating down naive trainees is no fun for because it is no challenge and a victory without challenges is worthless, isn't it?" Sometimes, I pay attention to her speechifying.
"I know what you're doing," she grunts. "Fine, whatever. You know what, why don't you take over the academy? You could do it. Knock some sense into those little brats. Besides, they all read Blasters and Blades and guess who just got a big article?"
I am not sure how I feel about that. Never wanted fame or cared about it. "How nice to know. Anyway, let's get started."
"Good. Come over here. You can help set things up."
"Set things up?"
"It's sorcery. The heritage of my people. The way we commune with our ancestors and the Darkness. If you want to learn it, you're going to do it properly." With that she puts down a large duffel bag. I join her and that rummaging through it. "Be careful with that," she warns when I pick out what seems like a small statue. "The statue of the great Typhojem has been with my family for generations."
"Fair enough." There is also a dagger, some crystals and bones, among other things. 'I examine all the items while she uses the dagger to draw a circle in the soil, taking care to be precise. "Never saw any of this stuff when that swine who calls himself my father was doing sorcery," I comment.
"That's because he wasn't doing it right," Nyssa grunts. "He didn't share our blood. He wasn't raised in our culture. So all he saw was something he could steal to lift himself on the shoulders of giants. Figures he did not appreciate any of it."
That...kind of resonates with me. "Everything to him was just a tool to make himself feel mighty - or a plaything to torment. He was a monster."
"And you've already become far greater than he'd ever be. Through victory, your chains were broken."
I raise an eyebrow. "I'm no history buff, but I'm quite certain that line comes from the code of Dark Jedi who conquered your people."
"Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Or a Jen'jidai," she grunts. She places the statue in the middle and sits down. It feels completely mundane to me. I join her. We spread out the bones and prepare some incense sticks. "Light these candles. In this circle, a pathway will be built as you open yourself to the Darkness. The fire within you. In time, you will have to learn our language. For now, I will say the words and you will repeat them. Instead of filling your head with emptiness, you will bask in the Dark. It will challenge you to test your worthiness."
My mind wills the candles to be ignited. Flames across my face. "I understand. And I appreciate you sharing this with me. I know your heritage means a lot to you," I say and I mean it. "I'm ready."
"Do you trust me?"
"Take the dagger, cut your hand, let the blood drip into the bowl. A crystal is inside it. " Without hesitation, I take dagger in hand. When I run a finger across it, I can feel engravings it. There is a power that emanates from it. The blades slices across the palm of my hand. Droplets of blood fall into the bowl. There is no way I'm going to get used to cutting myself.
Nyssa cuts her hand as well. I can feel the power building up inside her, growing in intensity. Her hands move in complex patterns and I try to follow. She begins to chant. At first she speaks in a hushed tone. The language sounds dark and guttural. A cold shiver runs down my spine. But I do not turn away. I am not the little girl that ran away from her monster of her father, from the Jedi and the Force. I am different now. Stronger. I join her chant. The ancient words do not roll easily off my tongue. Doubtless I am getting the pronunciation wrong. But my voices grows in strength. Nyssa's aura glows blood red. I can feel the Force surging through me.
Nyssa takes my hand. I can see. But the landscape is different. The crystal drinks in dark red blood. For some reason, my small cut itches. The smell of incense fills my nostrils. Is it just me, or am I feeling a lot colder? The chirping of the birds is distorted. Screams and wails fill the air, building up to a deafening chorus. Dark clouds have formed in the sky. There is no light save for the candles. It is very cold. The eyes of Typhojem glow with a fierce, crimson light. Now he no longer feels mundane to me. I can feel power radiate from him.
Tendrils of blackness suddenly sprout from the ground. I wince when one grabs me, then another. I struggle, but they only tighten. They are chilling to the bone. It is so very cold. "Nyssa..."
"Don't fight it. This is you. This is all you. Embrace it." Her words are almost drowned out by cruel, mocking laughter. I know that voice. I know him. Anger and rage course through me, stoking a fire. I grab ahold of one of the tendrils, seizing it with an ethereal hand. I feel a biting cold. My hand looks like it is rotting before my eyes, but I hold on. I pull the power into me. I will make it mine. It is drawn into me. I feel a rush, bigger than any I have felt before. The tendrils coalesce, morphing into a cloud.
I grab the mass of dark power. My heart thumps inside my chest. I breath in deeply. But then the darkness forces itself into my mouth. My body trembles. I try to expel it, but I falter. It forces itself down. I feel like I am freezing up inside. Something cold reaches inside me, further and further down my throat. My face itches like it is not my own. Fear grips me like a vice. My whole body shakes.
I feel like I am drowning in the dark currents.
Swallowed by the void.
My thoughts flash back to being drowned by the Inquisitors. I struggle to breathe, as I am dragged down. I fight, but they are too strong. The pressure is too heavy, weighing me down. Water floods my lungs. I am suffocating.
I will not drown.
I overcame this. I am stronger than this.
I embrace the void.
I remember how I burnt the Grand Inquisitor.
I remember the monster's screams.
I remember how good it felt to watch him burn.
I see a skeleton and ashes.
And myself wreathed in flames.