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Atrisia
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric stood quietly within the middle of the small shuttle, his lips thin as he watched the pilots within the cockpit.

He had no idea what either of the men were called, though he'd talked with them for a shortwhile during the flight. Apparently they both used to work for the Alliance, though they had resigned their commission a short while ago. Both had different reasons, though they seemed more than happy to be working with the Rebellion. Cenric had thanked them, but now he couldn't help but wonder if he should ask them to teach him how to pilot.

The padawan was fairly decent at the helm of a speeder, but the knowledge of how to fly a starfighter, or any starship for that matter, was something that escaped him.

It would be a good skill to have in the coming months.

He didn't want to always be relying on others to ferry him around, particularly if they were going to be flying into battle. His fingers curled for a few seconds and he opened his mouth, though just as he did there was a slight shake of the craft and the Shuttle proceeded to drop out of hyperspace. Shaking his head Cenric decided that he would ask the Pilots on the return trip home.

Cenric knew he didn't have to become an ace, just be less useless.

Of course that was why they were going on this trip in the first place. Not to teach him how to be a pilot, but rather to teach him something else. Cedric had been rather vague about it all, but the Padawan was more than willing to be patient.
 

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Returning to Atrisia threatened to sunder Cedric's soul in twain.

He felt the world's dark presence moments before they jumped out of hyperspace. It brought memories of times best left forgotten rushing to the forefront of Cedric's mind; it was all the knight could do not to let them consume him. He had called upon the force for assistance in quelling his troubled heart, but not even the Ashla nor the lightsaber at his belt could save him from this anguish.

The knight sat cross legged in the back of the shuttle, his cowl drawn back, his eyes squeezed shut. He felt something hollow here; a wound of an ethereal quality. It was far more terrible than any physical wound could ever have the potential to be, and few had the capacity to actually see it.

He knew it was irresponsible of him to dwell on such matters, but his father's sins were not so easily forgotten. It was only when the ship lurched back into realspace that Cedric opened his eyes, banishing the unwanted memories to the darkest corners of his psyche.

"It's been many years since I've come to Atrisia," the knight mused quietly. His voice was strained, almost pained even. "An unspeakable act tore this planet apart before I ever had the chance to see it. Even today, Atrisia is marred by the wounds of its unmaking. I can still feel the death that clings to this world as if everyone that died did so yesterday."

The pilots mumbled something about a landing procedure. Cedric just reached up to grab the railing.

"This is going to be a very important lesson Cenric."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

"I'd like to think every lesson is important, Master." The Padawan countered quickly, though it was impossible to tell whether or not he was joking.

Cenric had so far been an incredibly attentive student. He knew the opportunity that was being given to him here, and he was not wasting a second of it. The Force was still difficult for him, but even after a short time together he could tell that he was already growing better than he had once been. It was slow progress, but the young Padawan focused himself and drove home what he could. None of it was easy, but at the very least he was making progress. That much he could tell himself.

He reached up and grasped onto the rail above them, the shuttle shaking slightly as they passed through the ruined planets atmosphered.
Cenric peered out of the viewport, watching as the slight rail of flame formed around them. He had been a farmer before heading to the Jedi Temple on Sullust. He'd never had the opportunity to travel or see the galaxy before. He knew that this world would be a solemn one, but seeing the galaxy piece by piece was something that still fascinated him beyond words. Quietly the Jedi Padawan watched as the shuttle descended towards the planet below.

He glanced briefly at Cedric, though said nothing.

Cenric knew this was a solemn moment for his Master.
 

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Cenric's words made the knight snicker, dragging him out of his melancholy for a moment.

"Yes, I suppose they are," he replied quietly as the shuttle began to shake during the atmospheric entry. Cenric had proven to be a dutiful student thus far, and one far more dedicated to the cause than any pupils Cedric had taken on prior. Though it was still early in his training, Cedric could already see the Jedi his padawan might become, and it was a mental image that he took some measure of pride in.

That being said, their near-constant lightsaber drills alone were not a sufficient education. He'd chosen to bring Marrus to this place because he'd felt the kid's heart, so to speak. He knew that Cenric shared his same resolve, and Cedric's own will was like stone. The dark side would call to Cenric here, and the boy's teacher knew his padawan would resistits temptations.

Still, though Cedric trusted in his padawan, the boy needed to be tested in a place where he didn't need to worry about being killed by a Sith Lord or some similar nonsense. So it was that the shuttle settled down in what looked to be a long forgotten battlefield.

The field itself looked to have once been a forest, but now it was anything but that. The vast majority of the trees had been burned to cinders beneath streaks of violent lightning, and those that had survived were blackened and charred. No grass grew on the ground; the earth remained a muddy brown color for miles in every direction. If one felt out with the force, they wouldn't even feel the presence of an insect.

"It's as I remember it," the knight mused as he stepped off the shuttle. He turned to Padawan Marrus. "I brought you here so you can see what the dark side does first hand," he spoke quietly, "To show you what a man with good intentions did with its corrupting hand guiding him." He continued as he walked out into the field.

"Reach out with the force," the knight glanced back to look his padawan in the eye "Tell me what you feel."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Using the force for anything at all was still a difficult prospect for Cenric. It took him more than a few minutes to budge a simple pebble, everything else felt like it was impossible. He and Cedric had been working on it, but that hadn't exactly made it any easier. He frowned for a brief moment, closing his eyes and doing as his Master had taught him.

For him, it wasn't as simple as opening himself up to the force. It wasn't as easy as just reaching out. It almost felt like he had to wrestle the power within himself, control it and compel it to obey him. There was a difficulty in that alone, and then forcing it to do what he wanted was even more so. Still, he managed it well enough eventually. He felt a small trickle of the force begin to flow through him, a tiny stream that allowed him to hear better, see with greater acuity, and even sense his surroundings.

Of course here there was nothing to sense.

He felt the power of his Master, the two small blips of life that represented that pilots within the shuttle. Beyond that there was nothing. He frowned for a moment, slowly opening his eyes and peering around the destroyed landscape all around them. "Nothing."

Cenric said softly.
 

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Cenric was correct.

The knight reached out into the empyrean just as his padawan did. He felt the familiar presence of his student; a small flame with the potential to grow into an inferno, but one that lacked the control to do so safely as of yet. Beyond the boy, he felt the pilots too, and then nothing save for the silence of death.

It was only when he decided to ignore that silence that something stirred. It was a presence that oozed malevolence, and one the padawan would likely be able to sense just as his mentor did now. The presence called out from far on the horizon, and nothing physical could be seen from its point of origin at the center of the field. When Cedric narrowed his eyes to focus in upon that position, the presence vanished.

"The spirits of the dead cling to this place. The New Jedi Order worked to cleanse much of the corruption that infects Atrisia, but not all of its scars have healed." Cedric mused as he returned to the vessel for a brief moment. When he stepped back off, he was carrying a rather large backpack.

"Get your things. We're going to be staying here for a few days." He instructed the boy, before beginning a slow march through the wasteland. He wouldn't progress far without Cenric - just enough to convince the boy that adopting a brisker pace might be a good idea.

"The light has been driven out here," Cedric called back, "We've come to help bring it back."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric scooped up the pack that his Master had told him to put together before they had left. At the time he hadn't really thought anything of it, though now that Cedric had shown his intention he wasn't feeling too comfortable with the idea.

There was a certain morbid fascination that hung around this place, he couldn't deny that, but staying here seemed to put a certain amount of dread into his stomach. The Padawan wasn't wordly, not in any sense of the world. Before he'd joined the Jedi on Sullust Cenric had been little more than a farmer. He had never left Lorrd and even on his homeworld he had mostly stayed within his own little area. The galaxy had been something he'd never really experienced.

This side of the galaxy? The darker aspect...it was even less familiar.

Still, he was here to learn. That was what Cedric had said. If his Master thought that he could do that better here than he would trust him. For Cenric it was that simple. This was his one and only chance to learn, his one and only chance to become a Jedi. "Was it the Sith?"

The Padawan asked as he fell into step behind his Master.

"That did this I mean." He knew there were weapons of mass destruction that could wreak such havoc, but...for some odd reason he felt as though there were more to this.
 

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"In a way," the knight muttered quietly. "Initially, a Sith Lord by the name of Darth Mephirium had come here in search of allies. He found one in the planet's king, but the Galactic Alliance knew of his coming. They staged an assault, the Sith fought back. Chaos ensued." Cedric allowed himself a moment of silence before gesturing out at the shattered field.

"This is what happens when the Sith become desperate. The lord convinced his allies to commit ritual suicide so that he might gain their power, and he succeeded in that endeavor. With that power, he unleashed a force storm the likes of which had not been seen since Palpatine's reign centuries ago. Atrisia was devastated, as was the alliance fleet - in the end, the Sith disappeared. Some say he died. Others disagree." The knight mused quietly. In truth, he knew his father had passed into the empyrean long ago, though death had not claimed him.

Mephirium had chosen to become one with the force during that time in which reality and the immaterial had briefly become one. He had absconded into the Netherworld, though from there Cedric had no idea where he might have run off to.

"Most other Jedi would be mortified with me for taking you here Cenric, but I have faith in you," the knight spoke as he came to a pause near the center of the clearing. It was open from all sides and not easily defendable, but then they would not be fighting any mortal foes here.

"In times of peace, the Jedi Order taught its students by immersing them in temples blessed by the light. Those students were safe, and when their training was completed, they often lacked the skills necessary to combat temptation. It is for that reason that I want you to train here, in this place of darkness."

The look Cedric gave his padawan was one of complete trust. "The Dark Side will call to you here. It will tempt you at every turn. Only by learning to master the Light's power here, can you hope to combat that darkness without fear of corruption in the future."

He paused as he set down to begin his work on the camp. "If that isn't agreeable with you, then we can leave and go somewhere else. The shuttle hasn't left yet."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

For a few seconds Cenric remained quiet.

There were a few things that the Jedi tried to actively keep from their imitates, and one of them was temptations of the darkside. Knowledge wasn't exactly denied or locked up, it wasn't stowed away or tucked underneath the couch to be forgotten, but back at the Temple research into the Darkside had been highly discouraged. Unlike many of the other students the young Padawan had never really been all that concerned about it, figuring that the Masters of the Temple knew best.

Yet here he was, thrust into a situation where he objectively didn't know right from wrong. What Cedric said made sense. It was better, easier to step into the roll of a Jedi if you knew what you were going to be fighting. It was logical to think that the earlier you were introduced to it the better you would fare against it. The flipside of that of course was if he wasn't ready.

He didn't need to be an expert to know the Darkside could consume you.

"I..." Cenric began, then slowly cut himself off. The decision was by no means an easy one, and he couldn't help but look back towards the ship that was still resting behind them. The force was not strong with him, and perhaps that could help or hurt his chances here. He felt uneasy already, the nerves inside his body slowly fraying as he thought things over. His fingers tightened into fists, and then eventually he just nodded his head.

Eventually he would have to do this anyway.

Better now than when Cedric wasn't around.
 

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The boy was unsure, and Cedric would have taken him for a fool had he not been.

The knight watched his student mull the prospect over in silence. He knew that most other Jedi would have looked down upon him for his chosen method of training. Many would have said that his ideas were too extreme; the margin for failure far too large. With certain students, those individuals might have been right, but then Cedric had not chosen Cenric randomly.

"You might think this to be a bit much Cenric," the knight paused his work for a moment to look his student in the eye, "And you're right, it is. Unfortunately, we do not live in a time where Jedi can afford to train peacefully. We live in an age of war, and to be the peacekeepers we want to become, we must first be the warriors that bring about that peace." The knight flashed Cenric a small smile. "I will push you harder than you've ever been pushed, and I do so to keep you alive. The more you learn to deal with before it can kill you, the better off you'll be when it can."

The camp took little time to erect. It was made up of two tents, a small cooking pot, and a bag of rations that also contained blankets and spare clothing. Once the camp was readied, Cedric would move to sit at the camp's center, and gestured for Cenric to do the same.

"Are you ready for your first lesson?"

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric positioned himself on the ground, letting out a small sigh.

Already he was beginning to feel more than a little uneasy. Perhaps it was the way that his Master was treating all of this, or perhaps it was the planet itself. Cenric wasn't entirely sure, and in truth he didn't know if he really even wanted to find out. A part of him wondered if it wouldn't have been better to just go back home, live in ignorance back on Lorrd and forget everything that he had wanted to do. His lips thinned for a moment, and then he slowly shook his head.

No. He was no coward. "I am."

In truth this wasn't exactly what he had imagined when he'd begun training with Cedric. He had sort of thought it would be more like the holo-films, lightsaber combat on a tall bridge, running through obstacle courses, lifting rocks with his mind...all of that jazz.

Instead they were on a barren planet in a desolate wasteland that echoed with the souls of the damned.

It was almost depressing.
 

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The darkness was oppressive. It touched everything one could see, from the largest of ships to the tiniest grain of sand. There was nowhere on this battlefield that the two Jedi would find any release from its terrible presence, or rather there was nowhere yet.

"The light shines brightest when surrounded by darkness," the knight mused quietly as his eyes drifted shut. He reached out into the empyrean, and found himself recoiling with disgust. The waters of the Great Ocean were inky and black here, corrupted with a foulness unlike anything Cedric had seen before.

Cedric allowed himself a moment to examine this darkness. It only took him a handful of moments to understand its significance.

"I want you to reach out with the force Cenric. You will feel the shadow all around you, but you will feel me as well. Imagine yourself as a lantern; one strong enough to pierce through any shadow. You and I are luminous beings, and our rejection of the Dark side alone is enough to send it reeling." The knight expressed his will within the empyrean. He reached out with his mind, and dipped it into the dark waters. At first, the knight felt nothing but coldness, and the coming promise of a quiet demise. That feeling only lingered for a moment before the knight began to shine within the force.

The light that surrounded the two Jedi was a physical thing. It was golden and radiant, and it coiled around their camp like a protective barrier. The Dark Side's influence would leave them both instantly, replaced by a sensation of comfort that might remind Cenric of a parental figure.

"Force Light is an ability only those with the staunchest of faith in the Ashla can conjure up. With your help, I can use it to slowly cleanse this land. It will be many years before you can control it yourself, but a good heart with righteous intentions nearby is always helpful in keeping it stable."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric was skeptical to say the least. The force didn't exactly jump to him on even the best of occasions, out here? It seemed like it would be an all but impossible task. Nevertheless he was here to learn, and the best way to do that was by following his Masters tutelage.

The young man took a deep breath, then closed his eyes.

As always there was an echo of silence when he first began to the trying process of reaching out to the force. It was almost impossible to describe the sensation that he went through, as though he were standing in the very center of an abyss of nothingness. He would stand in it, and just beyond his reach there would be a light. No matter how fast or how quickly he moved Cenric couldn't quite touch the light, couldn't quite reach it. He had to concentrate on slowing the light itself, pulling it towards him.

It almost always took hours for him to do it.

Here it was no different. He stood quietly, motionless, and attempted to reach that light.

The Abyss around him seemed darker, inkier, almost as though the world around him were adding to the effect. Still, Cenric did his best, breathing calmly and doing what he could to catch that small flickering light again and again. The words of his master rang within his mind, and eventually he began to come closer.

Then he snatched the light from the dark.
 

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The knight exhaled a quiet breath as he threw Cenric to the proverbial wolves.

Or, at the very least, it might have felt that way to the padawan. In reality, Cedric was quite aware of the shadow that lingered around his student; it was one that had tempted him with sin many times. He would intervene should it overwhelm the boy, but as Cedric expected, Padawan Marus was capable. The circle of light that the master had built within the empyrean was bolstered by the padawan's very presence alone. When Cenric found that tiny flicker of glorious Light within the stifling sea of darkness around then, he would likely feel a sensation of comfort one would associate with a parent's love. It was a benevolent thing; a loving presence that burned away the shadow with holy intent. The spirits of the damned grew calm, their constant wailing within the force slowly silence.

For the first time since setting foot upon this planet, the aura of oppression lifted.

Cedric cracked the biggest smile he'd worn in a long time, and a strange emotion filled his chest that had almost become foreign to him.

Pride.

"Cenric," Grayson's voice was shining with approval, "You've taken your first true step into the war between light and shadow. You have walked through a valley of death and despair, and it has not conquered you. This will be a long journey Cenric, but now I have no doubt in my mind that the force meant for you to be my apprentice. It was willed before either of us were ever born. You have a destiny that will shape the stars, you only need direct it."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric faltered for a moment, the force suddenly flowing out from under him as though someone had grabbed a carpet beneath his feet and jerked it to the side.

There was a snap that he couldn't quite explain, as if the force suddenly disconnected from him. The feeling was jarring, and he knew exactly why it had happened. Cedric's words had floored him, breaking his concentration and bringing his thoughts to a complete and utter halt. It was difficult enough for him to stand up to ordinary complements, but that was...that was something. He frowned for a moment, stammered as he attempted to speak, and then cleared his throat. "I Uhh.."

He let out a chuckle.

"I don't know about that." Destiny was an odd thing.

His father had said something similar when he'd first left home. The man had always had a penchant for being indulgent, and by the time Cenric had left Lorrd he'd been more than used to his fathers way of speaking. He was aggrandizing, but never of himself. He had believed in Cenric more than anyone else, he was half the reason The Padawan was even here in the first place.

"I just want to do the best I can." He shrugged. "Not shape the galaxy."
 

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"And that is why the role suits you," Cedric said honestly. Many would have seen the knight's words as grandstanding, but then he had always lived by immeasurable stakes. To Cedric, this conflict was more than one of territory or ideals. It was a conflict of good versus evil in its purest form, and one that required its warriors to be absolutely sure in their purpose. Cenric did not have the force sensitive potential to be a great healer or telekinetic, but the force moved through him in different ways. The knight could see it in the way he moved with a lightsaber; its gifts shone just as brightly in the young Marus as it did other padawans.

"I'm sorry if I seem dramatic," the knight allowed himself a quiet chuckle, "I'm a bit...intense lately. It's difficult not to be given the circumstances. Still, you managed to feel my presence amidst all this darkness. Say whatever you want about that, but I call it significant progress."

The knight paused, a mischievous smile findings its way onto his face. "I had planned to put you through the usual lightsaber drills, but there are some things I'm curious about." The smile faded, "What do you know of the nature of the force Cenric? What is your personal belief?"

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

He frowned for a moment, considering the question. "I read a lot at the academy."

Cenric began quietly.

"Most of the time the interpretations of the force were different, practically like every Jedi had a different opinion on it." He shrugged. The force to him wasn't really a thing, it wasn't as tangible for him as it was for some others. There had been accounts in the Archives of men and women literally surrounded by the force, using it to see, walk, even sustain themselves completely. That all seemed entirely unreal to Cenric, but he knew that Jedi weren't exactly prone to lying in the historical texts.

For him the force was more esoteric. Something perhaps not to be understood but, instead to just...be there. Sometimes it helped him out, sometimes it made him move a bit faster, but most of the time it was just there, lingering quietly. Cenric didn't mind it much, but it also wasn't something he relied on.

"For me I think." He considered for a second more. "I think it's just something there."

He shrugged. "The will of the galaxy itself I suppose."

Life itself.
 

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The Jedi Knight could appreciate that.

His padawan was no learned scholar, and the answer he provided was one Cedric had expected. The force did not respond to Cenric the way it did to the knight or other Jedi. Its presence in his life was a subtle thing; a quiet guiding hand that would lead him down the right path, should he let it. Cedric almost considered that a mercy. For him, the force had been a near constant presence, and one that was overbearing in nature. Everything came to a halt when matters of the force were being discussed, and when the knight felt something off with it, he could not keep himself from lingering on it.

Cenric was deafened to the noise of the universe. The knight would work to assuage that handicap as best he could, but he understood that Cenric would never be any great master of the force. No, if anything the boy might become an icon of the lightsaber. His gifts with the blade were obvious and paramount; what the he lacked in mysticism he made up for in raw skill.

"A valid view," the knight grinned, "One I don't disagree with either. The force is the balance of life: the ebb and flow of the natural order. There are those that speak of the dark and the light when they talk about balance. Recently it's become popular to bastardize the idea of achieving balance with dabbling in the dark side. They do not understand that the dark side is not natural, but a creation of sentient thought: it is as unnatural as any manmade weapon. Its preservation does not serve the balance, but rather works to destroy it."

He paused, searching his padawan's gaze for an answer. "Do you understand what I mean?"

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

"I suppose so." He considered for a moment.

As far as he was concerned the 'darkside' of the force wasn't really a part of the force itself. That was what Cedric was trying to explain, at least he thought it was. The idea that the darkside was a twisting of the force itself, a perverse abjection of what he and other Jedi could call upon. It made sense in a way, though obviously there was a connection between the two. He frowned for a moment. A part of him was almost...mordibly curious about the darkside, but he knew enough never to dabble.

Not that he could even if he tried really.

He paused for a moment, considering before slowly going on.

"A girl I was with recently..." Cenric trailed off for a second, not entirely sure how to exactly explain what Mariya had told him about. The "Red" Sith that had come after her and her sister. He frowned, and then slowly continued. "She told me of a man...an Alien. Red, said that he was Sith but that the darkside came to him naturally."

At least that was how she'd described it.
 
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