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[END GAME - Flashpoint] Ashen Reach

Success or Death.
[ Five days prior to the attack on Coruscant ]
[ Prakith , Galactic Alliance Space ]

Prakith was a cold planet, but with little snow. It was arid and dry, and the people who lived there were as hard and cold as the bedrock they lived on. They had little room for idealism when the truth of the galaxy ran through their very veins: Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Prakith was the birthplace of the One Sith Empire, it had been their most sacred site. It was where they had retreated when the empire crumbled, and while the One Sith was dead, Prakith remained loyal to the Sith. Long before the One Sith, they had worshipped Darth Andeddu as their god-king and kept his secrets safe until those strong enough could reclaim them. In recent years, they hid their banners and wore the colours of the Alliance, swore away the old and approved the new, old secrets all locked away but never forgotten.

Despite all efforts, Prakith was and would always be a cradle of serpents, a haven for the dark side of the Force and for those who practised it.

With malicious intent did the snakes return to the cradle to poison the hand that rocked it to sleep. They had snuck around, through Fresia and to Prakith itself. Their vessel pierced the heavens and slipped down into the canyons, hidden and safe. [member="Darth Ophidia"] and [member="Cerbera"] lead an expedition to Andeddu's keep, guided by instructions drawn from the ancient Sith Lord's own holocron.

The dark would awaken, secrets would surface, and Prakith would once again rise as a beacon of the Sith in the deepest core of the galaxy.

The dull, grey rock-faces towered over either side of them as they lay their eyes upon the ruinous silhouette of Darth Andeddu's citadel. Darth Ophidia turned her gaze to Cerbera, a wry grin on her lips as she turned the holocron between her fingers and tucked it away.

"Beautiful is it not?"

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

Her thoughts were elsewhere for a brief moment.

With her children waiting in the dark, surrounded by cold metal and shackles as they struggled against their imposed confines. They would be freed soon enough, yes, but it had still saddened the Sith Lord just a touch. They had trusted her and Cerbera would do as she promised- give them room to rip and tear to their heart's content. She had wrought them for this special thing.


World of shadows and despair.

Ophidia and her didn't come here as stealthy infiltrators like on Selvaris. No... they came as conquerors- by the end of the day the world would fall and cast off the chains put on them by the Alliance.

They'd make certain of that.

"Mmm, delicious angles, dear. I like the asymmetry of it all." Her eyes roamed before nodding towards it. "Shall we?" As always.

"Andeddu had many followers back in those days." Cerbera mused softly to herself and Ophidia while they walked down the rocky hill. They had to be careful not to cut themselves against the slope. "I wonder how many of them we can bring back." It would be a... challenge. Mirial had been easier, resurrecting the dead and infesting the world with their touch.

But death had been put to slumber on Prakith.

It hadn't seen destruction for many years. Above them the citadel loomed, its walls and spires ruined, but there was darkness within. It waited, rested, slept, but it could be roused with enough energy put into it.

"The guardians within are blinded by the shadows... let's surprise them."
Success or Death.

Asymmetric, yet it steadily climbed in jagged peaks, like broken teeth biting at the sky, or fingers reaching up to grab the sun, snuff it out, and eclipse the light once and for all. It was indeed a beautiful sight. In her mind's eye she saw the illustrations of its decay through the ages, from its peak, to Bane's Pilgrimage, to Wyyrlok III's Quest, to the One Sith and her own search for infinite power.

She would say 'after you', but honestly she wanted to go first. There was a wink, rare even between the two of them, as she stepped forward and headed the path down.

"Many followers yes, and many who died fighting them, and many who died exploring it since then."

How many could they raise? It was impossible to say, but even as death slumbered, the Pale could feel it crawling beneath the soil. She sensed the spiritual unrest, the supple waves of the veil between the Netherworld and here. So close she could almost touch it with her fingers.

Surprise them, her speciality. A smile spread over Ophidia's lips as she touched the cylinder at the back of her hip and muttered a word under her breath. Her hand lingered at its lid, but did not open it yet. The two Sith Lords made their way to the base of the keep. They each put a hand on the massive metal doors that kept the entrance shut. Alchemy kept the doors still standing, still pure. They were finely crafted and intricately forged, but caked with dust and dirt.

A shared look - A burst of power that slammed the doors open.

The layer of dust and dirt disintegrated by the sudden application of force and cast a cloud around the entrance. The cloud then lit with dark violet as the two Sith Lords stepped in with ambition in their eyes. The Pale held the Soulsaber in her right and reached out with her left, fingers curling like talons. The dim light choked as shadows moved unnaturally, wrapping itself around their foes' eyes.

Blinded by the shadows, indeed.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

In truth Cerbera was still ill at ease with the presence of the soulsaber.

Ophidia and her had an understanding.

Allies, perhaps closer allies than anyone else they knew, but there was always the hint of tension. The suggestion that one day they might find themselves on opposite sides of the Great Game and they would calculate each other's death. It would be glorious, it would be beautiful, but it would be a measured calculation. Not a bout of passion. This was what the soulsaber represented. Uncalculated passion that ushered forward actions that could not be taken back.

But they already had the talk about this and Cerbera was satisfied with the conclusion.

So there was only silence as it was drawn and its presence sunk into the atmosphere around them. The door crashed open and everything turned into a blur as battle set in. Ophidia blinded them and Cerbera moved in, shaper claws sinking deep in soft flesh.

The robes were strained crimson and the first Jedi tried to scream, but all they managed was a gurgle before they winked out.

"Stas? Stas? I can't see. What is happening?"

This was only the beginning.
Success or Death.

Mastery of the dark side of the Force demanded constantly pushing one's limits and breaking the bonds that held one back. To be a master of the dark side was to wield it and not let it wield you. When your own darkness was thoroughly mastered, why should one not continue pushing it. Many of Darth Ophidia's weapons pressured her towards insanity, and it was only constant vigilance and innate tenacity that kept her together.

The Soulsaber was the greatest challenge yet, and Ophidia was set on mastering it.

So a few eggs were broken on the way - worth it.

The tendrils of shadow let go of those that Cerbera had slain and focused further on the ones ahead. Ophidia saw blades light up further down, casting illumination against the darkness. She set forward, slow and steady turning quick and fierce as she darted past the bodies, past the grasping fingers of the blind and soon dead.

The Soulsaber's blade, cold and purple like the smothering hand of dusk, flashed as it met the sky-blue of a sabre. Her sheer velocity pushed the Jedi back as the blades scratched each-other with a terrible screech. The violet came down in a quick arc, cleaving shoulder to hip. Her other hand grabbed the blue sabre as it fell, preventing it from turning off. With a quick turn she tossed it. Nailing a second opponent to the wall. A scream of pain cut with the gurgle of a collapsed lung.

Her ember eyes were aglow with the power that the blade imbued her with, but she was not lost in it. Not yet. She pulled the strings; she toed the line of power and utter chaos. While the shadows clung to her form, she was a torch in the Force, burning bright and terrible, but casting no light around her.
Give me more.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

As soon as it began?

It was over.

She was hunched over one of the Jedi and studied them as the toxins of her claws was starting to work. Going through the eyes really did wonders on the reception rate as far as she was concerned. "Hm." It swept through the body fast, didn't take long before the last breath was uttered and after that the final death settled in. But the crystal in her claws glowed bright blue and Cerbera smiled.

"Oh no, becoming one with the Force is not your destiny, darling."

There were experiments to do later after all. Cerbera looked over her shoulder, noticing the heavy intake of breath by Ophidia, a finely-shaped eyebrow rose up in response to that.

"Mm, are we doing Selvaris part two, dear?"

The Sith Lord rose up, stretching lazily as the flesh-colored claw disappeared back into her skin and left her green throughout. Well, where the blood hadn't stained her skin anyway. From her sheath she pulled out her dagger. A newly-forged one, a shard of the Obsidian Forge was embedded inside and it pulsed with corruption. It would do well for their purposes.

This time it was Cerbera who winked, before moving deeper into the fortress.

Down, down, down.

There were corpses to discover.
Success or Death.

Another blue blade came out of the shadows before it all ended, but the wielder was intercepted by the deep violet, shearing through the raised arms as Ophidia stepped to the side. Then, with a flick of her wrists, took a little off the top.

"Oh it's going to take more than this for Selvaris to repeat itself."

The Soulsaber retracted back into its hilt and Ophidia called the surrounding sabres to her one by one. The kyber crystals within were useful if used right. Perhaps they would find a use for them now, perhaps later.

"We are just getting started with this place."

This dark, wretched, beautiful place. With the quick extermination of its inhabitants, the whole, crumbling citadel seemed far more alive. Every shadow, every corner, seemed to crawl with some insidious will, until now suppressed under the ignorance of the Jedi. The spirits that lingered there came to pay homage to its liberators, conquerors, priestesses.

Ophidia followed Cerbera down into the deep tunnels. The sound of her footsteps twisted as she left the hard steps and followed her from the wall, then the high, vaulted ceiling, walking like a mirror image in some pure mirror ceiling. While the light around them, in truth, never changed, the darkness became deeper and more oppressing. It was saturated with something else, old and malicious.

Then, before them, stone took on strange shapes. It took a moment before they could realise it was not stone, but old, old bones stacked floor to ceiling in mimicry of the architecture. Featuring pointed archways with skulls for keystones, and walls lined with ribs and spines and femurs in a pattern that stretched on and on like the lives of the creatures that now decorated the walls themselves.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

"Mmmm, just teasing you, darling."


Cerbera knew better than most that in truth you could never truly trust an artifact of the Darkside. That was quite literally branded into the can of the thing, one of its main traits being its treachery. It was what Cerbera enjoyed about them. Power did not come for free, it could not come for free or it missed the entire point. Journey before destination and all that.

It was partially why every craft of hers came with a... surprise.

She paused briefly next to one of the 'walls' and leaned in, letting her fingers brush the brushed white purity of the bone. "Well." The murmur came slow as the alchemist squinted towards one of the skulls.

"Not quite the design I would have picked, but I suppose one cannot argue taste." "Shall we begin?"

A lazy stretch as the bones popped inside of her, fingers already scratching at the bone to test for material.
Success or Death.

"I don't know, I might want to do a chic version on Maena" "There is a spare room still."

She sealed the lid on the soulsaber's sheath and allowed gravity to take her. She landed on her feet just behind Cerbera and rose to her full height.

"Let's get these sleepyheads up and shambling, shall we?"

Knuckles popped as Ophidia limbered her fingers up. A shudder went through the hall, followed by a cold gust of wind as the two Sith Lords flexed their prowess in the Force. Although not yet assembled and laying dead still, the skeletons seemed eager to move.

It was as if their dismantled bones were waiting, holding their long still breath for a word to be spoken.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

Cerbera snorted and shook her head.

"Darling, please, you do the murder holes, I do the aesthetics. We talked about this." The Sith Lord teased gently as she leaned down, long fingers curling around the length of a skull and bringing it closer to inspect. It had a hole at the back of its head, where something had pierced it and killed the.... Sith? Cultist? Who truly knew after so many millennia?

It could have been anyone.

That was part of the fun.

The skull was put to the side and instead her hand, palm flat, touched the dirt and ground. She could feel them beneath. The bones here just a fraction of what had gathered up across the strata of time.

There was dark power here, potential. And as Ophidia drew her power, so did Cerbera grab hold of hers, together... they started weaving it together. In that moment they would become more intimate than most people got in their life time. Their presence, their source, brushing against one another and then? Becoming one. One emerald hand and one pale hand curling together.

Holding might.

"Tsaiwinokka Hoyakut." Cerbera murmured as her eyes closed and the words reverberated through out the hall and into the ground. The ground started to shudder, but this was just the beginning.
Success or Death.

"Please, my aesthetics are excellent."

Wryness, mockery. A jest they shared.

The dry bones began to shake in place as their power intertwined, interlaced, interwove into a fabric of new fate for these once lost souls. The two Sith Lords, - sorcerers, necromancers - pricked holes in the veil between realspace and the netherworld, and they pulled out the hate and hunger that once drove these beings' most bestial urges.

"Tsaiwinokka Hoyakut"

Bones shot across and clicked together, the dislodged and discarded becoming whole again as the hall itself quite came to life in undeath. Fingers formed on hands. Heads turned, spines slithered, arms and legs reforged. Not all went to their original owners, no, some formed into beasts of the grotesque. Four arms, or two heads. Or six bodies laced together in a monstrous giant.

Whatever the two could imagine, their canvas of bone and sorcery would weave to reality.

A deathly rattle rose.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

The wave of change moving through the skeletons seemed almost like a heartbeat.

In short intervals it pulsed across the hall, into the ground and around them, every interval and every wave raising more. Every incarnation causing others next to them to be shuddered into raw existence. A cascade effect that exponentially revived more and more for their army. Beads of sweat started to trickle past her temples as Cerbera focused and brought her alchemy to bear against some of them.

They approached, pressing or brushing past her and Cerbera smiled with eyes blinded.

"Mmmm, my children will be strong." Every touch of her finger tips spread strength into the frail bones. Reinforcing, enhancing- she wouldn't be able to do it with every single one, but... that wasn't necessary, was it?

A strong core surrounded by expendable mass.

That would do here.

"Remember what we spoke of, Ophi," Cerbera coed to her partner. "A cut of your finger nail and some blood then the incantation... they will be imbued with your shadows."

It was better this way. Instead of creating one singular mass of fragile, but plentiful forces... they'd diversify. Imbuing smaller groups within with more power than they strictly needed.
Success or Death.

Oh she knew. She had not forgotten. Forgetting was one of those things Darth Ophidia never did, for good or ill.

Every moment since her birth - Not her exodus from the womb, but the birth of the Sith that had claimed the name Ophidia - was etched into her memory like a carving upon stone, or like the patterns of galaxies portrayed the beginning of the Universe itself.

"They will be silence."

Those who passed her darkened, shadows clinging to their forms, trailing off their bones like an ethereal smoke. They seemed almost to glitch in and out of existence as .

"Together, unstoppable."

Oh each of them could be stopped and broken, but the horde lived on and grew ever larger, and ever hungrier.

Not for something to eat, no, they were not mere flesh-eating zombies. They sought a fulfilment that flesh could never satisfy, only anger, only violence, murder. They sought to rend souls from bodies in an eternal quest for their own completion. Though, of course, the game was rigged against them; any soul they ripped out vanished into the ether and they would never be whole. Nor would they have the intelligence to realise exactly how rigged the games was.

That was as pleasing as the effect they carried; torment spawning torment in an ever-growing cycle of death and hunger.

Jairus Starvald

[member="Darth Ophidia"]

They wove and created and eventually Cerbera sighed.

Stretching slowly, letting each bone roll under skin, creaking and groaning at the tension slowly being pushed out. It broke around them as the spell shattered, they had dragged everything they could from under the dirt and their army was here. All around them cloaked in silence as they waited for a command. They didn't speak, didn't feel anything but a ravenous hunger that was currently barely contained by the twin Sith Lords holding their leash firmly.

"We took all there was to take." Cerbera hummed softly as she stepped up to Ophidia, smiling, one finger tracing sweat away from her partner's neck. "But we can make so much more."

All they needed were more corpses, more bodies.

It was lucky, then, that Cerbera knew just where to find those.

"The outpost overlooking the fortress next, dear. We will test our darlings out and see what happens, yes?"