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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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The Nightlands of Ryloth were comforting.​
The pale-skinned woman had many places that she chose to rest her head throughout the galaxy. Most often it was a ship. The Ferocity. There was only one place that allowed her time and space to relax enough to process the results of her duties. Ryloth. It was still considered to be a bit of a backwater by most, but unlike Eshan, or Geonosis, no one expected anything of her here. She could hide among the jagged rocks and deep within the impenetrable fortress that was Sinner’s Well.​
The sound of massive wings moving overhead was common.​
Her collection had started with one Sky Demon. Etrigan. He was still her fondest companion, with the closest bond, because of all her creatures, she had been forced to win him over. Srina had not carried his egg around nor had she been there in his first few months of life. He had been part of a test that Darth Metus had devised for his Dark Acolytes. Srina, had passed.​
Passed—And acquired a Catra’diamtr familiar. It was the one thing in her life that had remained unchanging. A constant. She leaned back into the great beast while it gnawed on the bones of some unfortunate creature. Probably, a blurrg. Ryloth was a strange place because of all the history it bore. It told a story, mostly, of criminals and suffering. One side of the planet constantly faced the sun while the other side remained in darkness. It was full of dangers. Sweltering heat and pockets of sub-zero cold.​
Her beasts did not bother the residents. The weather made it such. They never made their way into the cities that thrived along the habitable zone. The Well had a habitation sphere that kept them safe. The menagerie that she maintained with the help of a cadre of droids was also located in that sphere. Ryloth part of the Confederacy, as the Mandragora had nested here, but it was still, for the most part, relatively quiet. Here she could train both body and mind.​
A sword that she had not used in quite some time sat nestled beside her. Noana. It was a tricky weapon that had taken time to master, despite, the fact that it had been created with her in mind. Her fighting style evolved. It adapted. She evolved again. It adapted. It was difficult to outwit a weapon that could eventually match her, regardless, how much she trained or innovated. It made things that much more difficult for her enemies.​
Lately, the weapon felt restless. Only an Echani would say that and mean it.​
In truth—She was restless. Her priorities had gone through several grand shifts in the last year that left her more acquainted to the Darkside than she had ever been. The power that flowed through her was dark as pitch. It tasted of black blood, corruption, and things she could not put to words. She embraced it. So many of her family had been lost on Eshan. Her child was lost to Kuat due to the machinations of a former friend and confidant. And Aryn. Aryn was gone.​
The one thing that had tethered her to the light. He had been the one thing that made her heart yearn for something other than bloody war. It wasn’t until her unborn was gone that she knew and accepted that pain. By then? It was too late.​
Her world had come crashing down. She retreated into the anger. Into the silence and sanctity of simply taking care of her duties to a nation. She followed protocol to the letter, but nothing, quelled the deep dark fire that burned at the base of her spine. Restless. So very, very restless.​
Etrigan growled a little and Srina reached unthinkingly to pat his side. Her droids, her reptiles, and the few people that she could trust were all she had left. She dared not go home too frequently. She didn’t want any other nation to use her presence as a reason to punish Eshan in her place. The Confederacy had many friends, but, there were still many more enemies.​

Srina picked up the sword gingerly and stared into the reflective surface. She could feel a tickle at the back of her neck, something, that made her hair stand on end. Time seemed to slow while her surroundings turned unfocused and blurry. The Nightlands seemed to expand and shrink all at the same time. When she was able to make sense of the blobs and shapes once again, she knew one thing to be true before all others. She was not alone.​
“Who are you?”
It felt familiar. Resonating. She couldn’t see who it was yet—But she could feel him. Yes, him. The individual was there and not there while her Force Vision expanded to allow their settings to blend. It was a brush of consciousness that she had not experienced since bringing Adron Malvern in from the cold. “I can’t…”
“Can’t see you yet...But I know you’re there.”
Her grip around Noana tightened and she prepared for contact. Typically, these events were friendly and helpful. Meaningful in some way. Not always.​
 
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Sisyphus
Character

Wearing: Fancy Lounge Wear
It had been a chilling morning - as the dew on the windows had frosted and melted only as the sun came up. Bright, red as it were - Maliphant sat on the balcony of his apartment in full disguise - black hair, blue eyes, a different face; a man someone could trust, be attracted to - could work with. Yet, there was a slight disdain for it - for this… fraud he had to put himself through to be something reasonable.​
Coruscant had come under the control of Cedric Grayson - a man that vilified him with good reason, but the more Maliphant considered the why of it, he grew ever more restless. Every conversation he had since his return from the Nether only strengthened this growing hunger in his soul - but from once it was power he lusted after, it was now something else. Wrenarias had shown him that, Adekos had helped him reconsider his view of the Sith;​
And yet here he stood, with all the Credits the galaxy could offer, all the knowledge the Sith had ever collected, and even still he wasn’t happy. His eyes danced to the coffee in his hands, and only then did he notice it was cold - the result of standing outside all morning without drinking a sip. He sighed, turned on his heel, and walked back into the apartment…​
There was a rush through his blood; a heat that he hadn’t felt in a long time. His vision grew blurry, and he dropped the cup - how long had it been since the Force had willed him unto a vision? How long had it been since the Force did anything but cry out at his gross manipulation of its presence?​
Who are you?”​
He could feel the synthetic breeze, hear a growling, and smell the fresh air. It was welcomed, contrasting the harsh industrial smells of Coruscant almost entirely - but he couldn’t see anything. Blackness, harsh blurs, and then the slow fade of color as he realized where he was;​
Ryloth.​
I can’t… I can’t see you yet… But I know you’re there.”​
He’d been here before, for the sake of healing. The Nightmother’s sanctuary was here, he could sense that much; but he was nowhere near the Nightmother now. Yet, there was familiarity, though dark as it were - harsh, corrupted, there was more to fear here than the growling of a beast he imagined. When his vision finally became clear, as he heard that waif voice speak out to him, when he was finally able to respond -​
He simply didn’t.​
Rather, Maliphant stood confused - who was this person? An echani, someone familiar perhaps, but she held no familiarity in her tone nor her questions. She dripped of anger, of duty, but of absolute malignant potency - all things Maliphant could feel passively. His brow furrowed yet deeper as he looked in her hands -​
Noana. A sword he remembered making.​
A cursed, black thing that it was - he remembered it consuming his blood, taking on the very essence of his being, backed by the soul of a Leviathan. He remembered much about it, yet - He couldn’t remember who it was made for. How it had left him.​
Only that it was before him now.​
Corrupted, molten gold eyes flashed back to Srina, and their hot gaze fell evenly on her face;​
You’ve my sword.”, he said as his fingers delicately intertwined between themselves.​
Did you summon me, or did it?”​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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Srina watched. Not with her eyes—But with her whole being.​
There was no response to her inquiry. With or without his will the shape of a man began to percolate within her mind's eye. His features were wrong. Clashing. Dark hair to light. She remained quiet while a whistling breeze moved through the Nightlands and Etrigan kept growling and grumbling at her back. He was focused on his meal. Not on the presence that had fallen down around her like a warm summer rain. It was cloying, strong, and oddly familiar.​
The twined worlds finally settled and the haze cleared bit by bit. One moment she was watching a dark-blossom bloom on a black-barked tree, and the next, she was staring at a well-dressed specter. No. Not a ghost. Not a spirit. His shoes made indentations in the mauve grass that covered the rock-laden ground. When he did speak, elegant brows knit together, and a frown crossed over naturally primrose lips. “…It is my sword.”
Noana. It unequivocally belonged to her. The ritual that she had undergone ensured that it remained as such. There were periods of time in which necessary distance required the contract to be renewed—but it never minded. Never complained. There was a silent understanding, a sense of companionship, and something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Echani loved weaponry, but this, was something different. Something older.​
Mirrored eyes reflected the lilac lighting that came from the flora and fauna. A moment of clarity caused a bell to ring in her head. Clear as a new dawn, for a moment, she saw him. “Slave?”
How could it be? He even felt different.​
Her mind drifted back to an evening in a nightclub. She could smell the spice in the air, crossed with death sticks, and an overpowering odor of liquor. Cheap, expensive, it didn’t matter. The music had been so loud that she could feel the bass beat in her bones. He’d called her to meet, to talk, and had presented her with Noana. Not long afterward he’d disappeared. There and gone.​
Realizing that she’d never answered the last question she sighed softly and leaned back into her Sky Demon. It seemed to recognize her distress and a large leathery wing came over to rest across her lap. The intent was plain. A ‘there there’ to his mistress. She was safe; Obviously, because he would devour anything that dared threaten her. It was used to being the top of the food chain on Ryloth. “I do not believe the sword can summon you, not truly, but I did not either.”
At least—She hadn’t consciously summoned him. That didn’t mean it wasn’t possible. At least, he wasn’t an assassin sent to kill her. Or he was an adequate liar.​
“The Force acts strangely. Sometimes, I feel as if it does not require my will at all.”
When the wave of darkness rose within her and felt like a hurricane thrashing against her being from the inside? Certainly, this statement felt true. Her anger had depths that could not be reached once ignited. When it rose, so did corruption, and the nondescript Echani warped into something new. Beyond cold, refined, and severe. Could her thoughts have triggered something in the sword?​
“Why do you hide your face?”
She still couldn’t see it clearly. Black hair. Blue eyes. Silver hair. Golden eyes. Her eyes were everything. The fact that they could be deceived so easily, blinded, was disconcerting. She knew when a foe would strike even before it reached their conscious mind to do so. Slowly, she slid leather-clad legs from beneath the wing of Etrigan. The Sky Demon shrieked.​
When she came to her full height, she was still a good head shorter than he was. She reached up and pulled free the dark scarf she had wrapped around her head. It fell to the side, hanging from her shoulder, and she crossed the space between. Silvery eyes peered slowly. Trying to see past the guise that shifted. Curiosity flickered. “Or…Am I just not meant to see?”
 
Sisyphus
Character


Wearing: Fancy Lounge Wear
It is my sword.”​
The Sith Lord remembered he had given it away, but was this who he had given it too? Noana was a cruel thing, and while certainly an Echani - there was the slightest doubt that it was the best choice now. Perhaps it was the festering weakness of sympathy he held, but he knew what the sword was made for - what it was created to do, and couldn’t help but sigh at the cruel endeavors of his terroristic alter ego.​
Slave?”​
It was only then, at the mere mention of his once oxymoronic, grandeiouse title that he realized vaguely who she was. Not the technicalities, but he could smell the liquor, feel the music shake his bones, and the ever appreciate feeling he had given her once; more akin to a childhood crush than a true bond - but it had once been reason enough to gift her one of his more… malignant abominations.​
His response came cool, with no hint of that danger he had given so many others - where once his voice dripped with the molten silver of a devil making a deal, it only offered cooling reassurance to Srina;​
I don’t go by that moniker now, Miss.”, he corrected gently, “It… wasn’t a name I cared for. Dorian Harper or Darth Maliphant now - but that is a long story.”​
The wind blew past him with its own calming nature; and Maliphant couldn’t help but take a moment to feel it. He knew, physically, he wasn’t here - back on Coruscant with a coffee he had just spilled, and Cybele asking him if he was alright; likely just standing about, meditating… Yet, the breeze, synthetic as it were, felt good on his skin - far from industrialism, far from business. He could see why Srina Talon was here - and he’d only experienced this places good nature for a meer moment by comparison.​
No, I don’t believe either of you would have; or else you would have done it sooner. Strange as it is, the Force often reacts to what we want - need, perhaps. It freed me from my captivity, in a way, and it has also brought me here to you…”, he said with a quiet press of his finger to his chin.​
Odd.”, he vocalized in blatant thought before she began to walk towards him.​
For the first time, he studied her - watched the way she moved, how she looked. A refined elegance, a danger in motion - he could see by the way her feet landed and her balance placed that she was a fighter… A Skilled one at that. The silent quakes of the Force around her told him she was stronger than she appeared - a beautiful, white rose burning hot with the phosphorus flame of the Dark Side - cruel as it were.​
And yet, she asked why he covered his face - forcing him to feel at his cheek. It wasn’t his own - yet he had felt so comfortable in it. Hiding among the royalty and upper echelons of the Core’s society so long that it had become second nature - The Sith who once hid as the administrator of the Dominion, and helped calculate its demise now a simple banker. Those fingers seemed to drag at it with a reserved disdain for that nature, and with an exhale his pulled ever so slightly -​
His face moved from that of Dorian Harpers, and its flashing nature, back to only that of Darth Maliphant - or to her, The Slave. Though he was older now, carrying none of the exhaustion she once saw. The scars that once peaked out from his collar, showing the years of torment he endured were gone, and any unhealthy derivative he carried was cast aside - now the immaculate form of an alabaster haired man, gaunt and sharp lines crossing his face in an attractive, well placed beauty.​
No one was meant to see.”, he said simply, “Not the Sith, nor the Jedi - I’m sure both would have me dead to rights were they given the opportunity.”​
He seemed to laugh at that, but it was swift and careful. A strong exhale of the nose, and then it was gone as those corrupted golden eyes moved from her to the horizon nearby - as though he waited for something more to occur. In truth, he was stuck in thought - as he often was lately - about this… Were it another trick?​
Just familiar enough to lower his guard, but not so familiar he could call it out for differences from reality.​
Do you… come here often, Srina?”, he said as he glanced back to the waif before him. The name had taken some time to return to him, but he was sure it was hers - Srina Talon. A powerful name in a large portion of the galaxy now, but one he was more familiar with from a distance than like this.​
This is a beautiful view, you know.”, he offered with a gentle smile, a portion of him waiting to see if this were a trick - that constant paranoia slowly arching its back, scratching at the door of his mind to be let in.​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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Confusion.
She could briefly remember debating his namesake with him on Druckenwell. Right before, and or during, a time when the Slave had goaded the former owner of KDY into walking out of a boardroom. Srina hadn’t felt any ill will toward the man. Mostly, because his “competition” for a contract had been little more than a sniveling worm—But that was beside the point. She could remember it clearly.​
Discomfort. Referring to someone as a slave in a nation that condemned it. Now, he had thrown the moniker away? Her words were soft when she responded, though, her lack of knowledge in regards to his transition was evident. “I apologize. You actually asked it of me. Once.”
Dorian Harper. Maliphant. One held the ring of an everyday spacer while the other held the age-old chime of a Sith Lord. The wind pulled through. There was a bitter scent on the air. Something that didn’t quite belong. A touch of steel. A hint of caf. Perhaps, it came from wherever this man belonged? Srina couldn’t quite tell. Everything seemed to be blending in and of its own design. For the moment, for this meeting, creating something new. Silver eyes flickered. “What should I call you now?”
She had asked him the same question before. Certainly, he had given her two names. Which was the lie? Which was the truth? The flaxen-haired specter spoke again. She listened. It was an old habit that she often fell to. It had been a pre-requisite to becoming a soldier and warrior on Eshan. Srina had been tasked with seeing all there was to see, and knowing all there was to know, with or without the use of her eyes. Knowledge was power—And secretly, did Echani covet it under the guise of martial prowess.​
“Things we want…Things we need…Freedom from captivity. That sounds like the code.”
Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.
Through Passion I gain Strength.
Through Strength I gain Power.
Through Power I gain Victory.
Through Victory my chains are Broken.
The Force shall free me.
He thought it odd. Srina, did not. Dorian, Darth Maliphant, was not the first to cross the barriers of time and space before her eyes. He was not the first person she had felt some sort of connection with. Her friendship with Adron Malvern had been kindled as such, though, they’d been as the bitterest of enemies. This was much the same, but so very, very different. “The Force wills me. I go. It demands—I answer.”, she murmured, truthfully, while her faith in that which could not be seen became evident.​
Her footsteps toward him were measured. Neither too quick, nor too slow, but with an aching surety that she had all the time in the universe. Srina asked of his face. His appearance. It fluctuated more than she would have liked. Echani eyes were everything. To perceive him through a glamor this way felt wrong. “It leaves me blind…”, the whisper, perhaps not meant for him, stilled along the amethyst plains of the Nightlands. He touched his cheek. Her gaze followed. Careful, perceptive, as she had no right to be. She had not known the Slave as well as some. But, there had always been something.​
Something she had no words for. Something that pushed her to seek out a creature that thrived on pleasure and the moment in a way she never could. Curiosity? Perhaps.​
His ever-changing visage became less of a murky watercolor and the edges began the lie began to smooth. Colors solidified and dark hair bled pale while mortal blue became force mottled gold. Her movement toward him did not stop until she had intentionally breached his space. Too close. Too far. Mercurial orbs remained silent, cold, and breathed of bitter winters in the dead of night. His admission that no one was meant to see behind the mask caused primrose lips to thin slightly.​
It would be hard to discern the emotion.​
Instead—She reached up, slowly, and touched the face she should have known. It took a moment. He would feel her as he felt the breeze. A tentative pad of silken fingertips trailing across the top of his jaw. Measuring. Examining. It was him. New. But, the Slave nonetheless. The young Exarch took her time in cataloging the differences. Touch saved the new, replaced the old, and made her feel more at ease. Physicality was an Echani trait that she would never lose. It was also something most would never grasp. “Better.”
His laugh was different. It was out of place in the Nightlands, but, it was sound that caused her to let her hand fall away. His focus changed. She couldn’t read his mind, or rather, hadn’t tried—But body language told her more than words. His guard was raised. She understood. It was logical. Hadn’t she responded the same way? He asked if she came “here” often and a wintry smile slipped across her features in the blink of an eye.​
Did he mean to ask if she came to the Nightlands often?​
Or did she come to him often?​
“Ryloth is as Eshan. Home.”
Now he recalled her name. She was certain that he hadn’t recognized her at first. Something within him had changed, though, she couldn’t place her finger on the differences. “I live here.”
The words about the view caused her to turn her head away. It was a sign of tentative trust if there ever was one. No Echani ever let a potential enemy out of their line of sight. But, she did. She let him stay in her blind spot. As much as he tried to make conversation the white-haired warrior could feel what it was that simmered beneath the surface. A search for truth. Understanding. Just as she had sought his true face—He also wondered if this was an elaborate ploy. “The sun never rises, here. The light you see is a mere reflection from the moons and bioluminescent bacteria. Refractions from crystals, black glass, and ice. What passes for being well-lit is only nature trying to compensate for the Brightlands.”
Srina breathed in softly before releasing it slowly. Only the slight shift of her shoulders gave away the fact that she was anything more than a statue. She had long ago become a part of the landscape. A piece of the beautiful, star-touched, dark.​
“I do not know how this came to be. But, if I wished you harm, I would not bring you here. It would not be a vision, nor a dream, but clash of flesh, breaking of bone, and a river of blood. I am the Dread Queen of the Confederacy…I do not hide.”
Some might have taken her words as a threat. It wasn’t. Srina dealt in fact—And that was final. She would not bring an enemy here. As her Master had once put it, so succinctly: One did not “chit” where they “ate” nor did they foul the nest. Srina had taken the phrasing to heart. This meeting was abrupt, a surprise, but she couldn’t feel anything that provided proof of malevolent intent.​
Maliphant was simply here. So close, but still so far.​
 
Sisyphus
Character
Once.
Had Maliphant asked her to call him ‘Slave’? Despite wanting to deny it, he could feel that aching pain urge its way into his soul - the latent trauma of a child with no name, no parents, no hope. In truth, he was more suprised his ‘past-self’ didn’t die - The Force knew he had been on a one way trip to the Nether; and yet he had lived. Found a purpose, and all it took was mind control - gross and unadulerated trauma through the Force to his own will.​
He buried those thoughts, not ordaining Srina with a response - at least not to the mention of his once moniker. Instead, he offered a low grumble in his throat, more a growl than anything - but of annoyance, at himself for not having an answer. This connection - through the Force… It felt odd, made his emotions feel like muscle with the skin flayed - and it hurt to feel it.​
“Dorian. Maliphant. I’ll let you pick, Srina.”, he said with an idle tone, as though the topic wasn’t of a concern to him - yet there was a momentary thought, a singular instance of ‘Why’.​
These names were made up, a product of someone else. Were they even his to claim? There was no truth to find, despite close watch - just his gaze quickly averting, a shame in those names that he didn’t offer past that passive glance. For all the pride Maliphant had, it seemed his titles were not one of them.​
It demands - I answer.”, she offered, forcing his gaze back to her. The Force was tool to Maliphant, and a dangerous one at that -​
To think she abided by its whims was foreign to him, but he didn’t vocalize this. In truth, he understood the Force had whims, echoes persay, but he thought them blunt and cruel. A constant cycle of misery to drown out eons of good fortune - for all the power the Force had, it was a maligent thing.​
The Force is a cruel mistress. I’d prefer muting it, when able.”, he offered in a quiet voice as she made her way towards him.​
His brow furrowed, almost confused - she approached without fear, or concern. Was this the betrayal he knew was coming? He resisted that sudden urge to snarl, to grip her hand by its thin wrist and snap the offense clean - and yet, just as he fingers touched his skin, and just as his own muscles twitched to action; he stopped. Gently, his hand cupped her own against his cheek - against his face.​
Its easy.”, he heard her say.
That dark sillouhette moved her hand from his face, and guided his fingers across the piano. Although slow, he played a beautiful tone - carefully moving to the next notes with her guidance. He could feel the warmth of her fingers on his hand, could almost sense that gracious smile - and the tenderness of his own.
You’ll get the hang of it.
Maliphant snapped back, his mouth almost agape as that hard expression he carried faded to something more childlike. More vulnerable for the briefest of seconds as he seemed to adjust himself back to reality - to Srina, and not Irajah. The Sith swallowed hard, recomposing himself with grace as he hand fell away.​
Better.”​
Yet as she turned, he couldn’t help but move his hand back to his face, feeling the cold skin she left behind. It didn’t feel natural - as though left were wounds that demanded her touch again, to quench the cold that drove itself through his skin. Maliphant couldn’t help but dissaprove, offering a low growl in his voice as he looked back to his hand, as though blood would come with it.​
Too vulnerable. Too soon.
Yet, Srina offered him trust - gave to him what he could not offer back, or didn’t want to. She spoke of her home, of the lands before her - about a Dread Queen refusing to hide. All were truths, none were lies; and he had offered so little to her. He approached slow, not wanting to be behind her - showing respect, he hoped, to a warrior.​
When he was close, nearly shoulder to shoulder with her, he spoke again;​
No, you do not hide.”, he said quietly, looking over the horizon.​
And yet… there is something hiding. Noana, that sword -”, Maliphant said with a glance to his creation.​
- it can feel your needs, embodies your emotions. It wouldn’t call me here unless…”​
Maliphant paused as he turned to face her, just as close to her person as she was to his only a moment before.​
... Unless you were in trouble. Hurt, perhaps; so I will ask simply -”, Maliphant said as that molten gold corruption danced across her features.​
- Are you?”​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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He seemed displeased with her.​
Srina did not understand why. She wouldn’t know the history behind the name that he had taken on through trauma and agony. The Slave, as she had known him, had been a different sort. A creature that lived in the moment. The low grumble, growl, that he exuded rang in the deepest parts of her ears. Silver eyes slipped across his features over and over. Trying to see what she should not. “I do not wish to. It is your name. It is who you are—It Is your choice.”
Her words may have seemed petulant but nothing could be further from the truth. There was power in a name. In an identity. It was a descriptor that allowed others to make quick judgments and assumptions. It could be the cruelest sound uttered or the sweetest thing one had ever heard, depending, on the voice and intent. Srina could not choose that.
The conversation progressed and the wintry woman let the concept of his name fade. For now. If this became a regular meeting, she would need to call him something in the future. Her weight shifted a little when he mentioned that the Force was cruel. Her eyes darkened. Yes. It was. “I have tried. I cannot. The more I resist the louder it calls.”
Louder, and louder, until her own thoughts were swept away. The moon to the tide. She obeyed.​
For a moment the Echani thought that the visitor would rebuke her. There was a moment when his body betrayed him. She waited. He changed. Instead of tearing her hand away from his face, he held it near, and she watched while something stole him away. Srina knew what it looked like when memory pulled at reality and obfuscated the present. When he returned…​
That softness was noted.​
Rather than to ask—She respected his privacy. His walls came crumbling down, if for a moment, and it was disrespectful to peer past that veil without permission. Srina did not understand many things when word gymnastics overtook speaking plainly, but she knew the body, the small, autonomic responses that every organic being fell prey to. She knew it wasn’t normal. Wasn’t…For her. This bridge placed both of them in precarious positions.​
Instead, she turned to words about the Nightlands. Innocent facts that would not offend.​
She could feel his being come nearer. The hair on the back of her neck rose, though, she settled once realizing that he only wished to be on even ground. It was unnecessary but commendable. This vision, this distortion, was a clever game of give and take. The silver-eyed woman remained silent when the man began to speak. His voice was…Different. But very much the same.​
There was a quality that made her want to listen. Unidentified, but there.​
His face filled her vision again. The question he asked drew a soft frown across her features. Noana had been part of her arsenal for a long time. Through every step, every piece of a journey that had been fraught with loss and pain. He was close, perhaps too close, but Srina didn’t mind. “I am uninjured.”
She breathed. A soft pause, while she searched for words, that often failed her. Lavender lids fell over starlit eyes while memories of the battle on Kuat came back unbidden. The Conference Center. The explosion. The screaming. The bodies. The blood…The feeling of new life slipping from her body. Stolen by the impact of a thermal detonator. Crushed beneath duracrete. Buried.​
Dead.
“We were deceived.”
When her eyes opened they were no longer a piercing, sterling silver. Instead, they mirrored his. Corruption turned her gaze a hard gold that seemed fathomless. Endless. There he would find her hate. There, he would see her pain. He would know that her words only pertained to a physical sense. She wasn’t hurt. No. But, her heart was…Nothing. Dust. “We went to war. I performed my duty.”
Her eyes remained steady while dark power began to roll forward. It was more than anyone her relative size should have been able to contain. A sea at night. The naked eye could never find the end of it, but worse than that, it could never see what lay beneath the waters.​
“…Something was taken from me. Something precious. Something I can never find.”
Something she could never be whole without. Something that left a hole, a void, that she would fill with blood and sacrifice until the ache stopped tearing through her.​
A small part of her knew it would never stop. The agony would never end. Even while she traveled to the Nightlands to clear her mind and find some semblance of normalcy—It was there. Always on her mind. It was her sin. Her failure. For all the power she had obtained over the years it truly meant nothing. It was empty, hollow, and abhorrently useless when reality exploded around her in a hail of flame and ash. It wasn’t enough. It would never be enough.​
In the pale light of the Nightlands…She was laid bare. A Dread Queen, an Exarch, an Apprentice and so very much more. So many titles. So many ranks. All, meaningless.​
Especially, in comparison to the last. A mother that lost her child.
 
Sisyphus
Character
Something I can never find.”​
Maliphant could hear her words, but they paled in comparison to the meaning of her emotion. He had asked if she was hurt, and she seemed momentarily adamant she wasn’t - but there was a deeper wound than anything a blade could commit. She was tense as she spoke, ever angrier as it drove from her, through her, and outwards; and through it, he could feel that power.​
All around them, emotion turned like a black maelstrom of hot gas - ripping at the skin in the most subtle of ways. Pressure against the body, against the mind - and Maliphant could see through it more than she offered. A Sith could often taste the emotion on the wind, and Maliphant was no different -​
He could feel sadness and despair - blue and cold in his mind. He could almost see Srina fall to her knees, cry out, to feel the weakness she internalized - and Maliphant could empathize. How often had he appeared stronger than he was? Almost every day of his life, he’d imagined.​
But more than that, he could feel that harsh crimson anger that strode in droves. Many emotions Sith felt were corrupted into that all consuming beast of an emotion; and Srina was no different. Her anger was a river of emotional ichor, crashing and flowing to destroy anything in its path - but it was tempered. Held back, perhaps, on a sense of duty - of something more.​
Maliphant spoke softly, in complete opposite of that character he put on so much more often - he sound empathetic for the first time in months;​
No, I don’t think you can ever find what you’ve lost.”, Maliphant exclaimed, quietly.​
It wasn’t likely what she had hoped to hear - perhaps she still had a hope that it would come back, that she could force it back to be hers once more; but it would never be the same. The art of such thing was corrupting in itself, should it even work - and the child would never be hers again.​
Sit with me, Srina. I’m growing tired.”​
He wasn’t, but it was easier to ask someone to make a favour for oneself than commit them to a command - and he wanted her to quiet those raw emotions. It was hard to think with such things rolling rampant in a Sith’s mind, through anyones, and it’d only see a harsher response to anything he had to say. Maliphant slowly found his own seat next to her, and let his eyes wander the horizon that never seemed to change as he considered what to offer her.​
Uninjured...”, he mused after a moment, “You don’t have to admit that hurt for me to see it, Srina.”​
Maliphant spoke barely above a whisper, just enough for her to hear him - to understand what he said without being overpowered by it. He had never been good at such things, comforting those hurt, but he wanted to… He knew he had to at least try.​
War. Duty. Dust.”, he repeated, “You speak of this like it happened to someone else - things to hide behind to avoid that pain; but I’m sure you already know that.”​
So - if you can’t bring back what was lost, and yet you remain hurt, what do you need?”, he asked as he turned to face her - meeting gold with gold, muddled as that corruption was. It was sharp, a connection between their souls;​
Revenge? Sadism? Masochism?”, he said as he studied her eyes, almost endlessly into the darkness as he could.​
After a moment, he offered a final option -​
Peace?”​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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____________________________
The amethyst crystals that dotted the landscape of the Nightlands seemed to still. The soft twinkles seemed to dull, fade, while shadow crept in like a whispering disease. The silvery creature that often visited the area always kept her emotions under lock and key. She was an Echani warrior. She thought—She did not feel. As they poured from her core the seemingly nondescript woman changed. The soft echoes of power that emanated from her being became beacons of black. Of corruption. It changed the very landscape she inhabited in a very visceral way.​
It was poison. She drank deep.
Burnished golden orbs smoldered when the pale-skinned Sith Lord agreed that she would never regain what was missing. It wasn’t his fault. Affirmation of her losses cut deeply regardless of the fact that she knew the truth. Srina was used to problems and difficulties that could be solved. Through speaking, acting, or otherwise—It was always within her power to handle it. This could not be changed. The broken pieces within could not be put back together.​
He bade that she take a seat. For a moment she remained still as stone. Her gaze found the horizon and it lingered. She could feel the hard edge of unbidden desire pressing deep. Not for anything remotely quixotic but a yearning for destruction. Everything in her wanted to lash out. To break the world as she had been broken, to shape it, and remake it as she pleased. She inhaled. Cleared her mind. Exhaled.​
The unbridled emotion ebbed. It quieted in the same way a mother comforted a wailing child.​
She sat.​
Her body folded down with inherent grace. There was no movement she made that didn’t seem to flow. Effortless as water. Light, as air. She tucked her legs beside her and rest her hands in her lap. Her back remained straight as years of education in posture had taught her to do. Her eyes remained yellow while she fell to stillness. He spoke, she listened.​
He wouldn’t understand, at least, not yet. How could he? This devastation had happened to someone else. Srina was no longer the woman that had kept one foot in the dark, one foot in the light, and bridged the gap for the greater good. Did she disassociate herself to lessen the agony? Perhaps. His next line of questions confused her. What did she need?​
Nothing.
He turned to face her and gold met gold. Something poignant, almost crushing, rushed through her as the final word left his lips. Peace?
“Peace is a lie.”
Habit. It was part of the mantra that she had earned while adopting another moniker. Habit. That didn’t mean it was wrong. As long as there were people squabbling over resources, ideals, and anything their neighbor had which they did not—There would never be peace. “Even if it wasn’t…I am undeserving.”
She quieted again. Her eyes remained steady with his. A straight line that was unwavering. Echani eyes took in the differences in his iris, the subtle color changes, and the way they dilated when the light moved. There was the temptation to place her hand to his face again. As well as her eyes could see, touch, would let her memorize him fully. She would know him then.​
With or without his mask.​
“I do not understand your question. I have all that I need. Revenge comes with patience, time, and persistence. Masochism is not my flavor and the suffering of others is a fleeting respite. Wishing to do violence is unnecessary. I will have my share whether I want it or not. Duty, will call.”
Her grasp on social cues was better than it used to be, but in ways, there was still a certain level of innocence to her. As if she could not grasp that which couldn’t be defined in logic and pragmatism. She was physically fine; therefore, she was uninjured. She retained all that she required to live; therefore, she needed nothing. It was a sparse outlook that she had adopted as a youngling.​
Srina’s lips pressed together for a moment while she tried to piece together her thoughts. He asked for things she knew not how to express. “People talk of sorrow as if it is soft. A thing of water and tears. True sorrow is not soft.”
“True sorrow is a thing of fire, and rock. It burns the heart and crushes the soul beneath the weight of mountains. It destroys, and even if you keep breathing, keep going, you die. The person you were before dies with the loss. Gone. Everything solid, everything real, is gone. It doesn’t come back. The world is forever fractured. While you can walk on the ground, you can feel the heat beneath you, the press of lava that is so hot, it can burn flesh, melt bone, and the very air is poisonous. To survive, you swallow the heat. To keep from falling through and actually dying, you swallow your hate. You push it down inside. You place it where no one will ever see it, know it, and make it your weapon.”
That was the part she was still working on. Making it her weapon. He could see. He should not. She needed to return to equilibrium so that when her hatred took form, became real, that her enemies would not see it coming. Somehow, though, she wasn’t certain that was what the man before he was asking. How to be a better warrior? No.​
“Tell me. What do I require?”
 
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Sisyphus
Character
Nobody is undeserving…”, he said through a quiet, almost whisper meant for himself more than Srina. He let that hang in the air for a moment, lost in his own thought -​
She reminded him of himself; but before his memory was wiped, before he was given the strength to ensure his freedom. Anger was his only emotion - harsh as it was, and constant in every direction. He’s lost his mother - never knew his father, experienced more assault and trauma than any single child had the right to.​
The thought of it caused his heart to quiver, forcing a hand to his chest - despite offering her that advice, he hadn’t internalized it. Those few memories that peaked through were painful for his soul - and it felt like opening a wound every time he remembered it. Perhaps that was what drove him now… To always remain free.​
You’ve a warrior’s mind, Srina.”, Maliphant offered her with a warming smile - though that distinct corruption in his eyes made it all the less pleasant. If only slightly - at least.​
Sorrow is… The hardest emotion we deal with. As Sith - we are taught to harness that emotion, lash out with it and enact our revenge, our goals, our eventuality - whatever that may be.”, The Sith Lord said with a motion to her - obviously with no idea what her destiny was.​
We feel so much more, can sense it slowly corrupt our thoughts in ways most don’t know, or feel.”, he idled for a moment. Silence between them, before he turned to face her, letting his eye contact never break - though his gaze was soft, inviting. It was strange for him to not want to… play the games Sith do. To not wish to dance around words to undermine one another -​
Trust, as it were, was something he was unfamiliar with.​
And yet - there are times when even we, must fine… Peace.”, he said, as though that softness carried an partial authority, an experience in his words.​
Not to bury it, but to come to terms with it. Learn to live with that pain - even if it never goes away.”​
I’ve… had to do much of the same. From my enslavement, to the torture I endured at the hands of Irajah, Cerbera, or even Imperia. For what its worth - its not easy.”, he sighed.​
He couldn’t help but lean over, and nudge her with his shoulder, as thought to encourage him despite the words carrying their own pain.​
Though I tend to wear a mask beyond the one you saw - Darth Maliphant doesn’t find peace in these things.”, Maliphant seemed to laugh - though unsure as it were.​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
____________________________
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Her gaze averted. She heard his whisper—But also knew it wasn’t true. The blood on her hands could never be washed away. Whether her reasons were right or wrong didn’t matter. Real fighting, real war, real death was ugly. Brutal. Bloody. People liked to romanticize it in retellings and holo-books but nothing could ever diminish the impact of the lives she had taken. Did she deserve peace? No. Never.​
All that remained was to become powerful enough, strong enough, that it didn’t matter.​
Her focus fell on the man beside her. It was him but it wasn’t. A piece of him. His consciousness? Somehow given shape? Form? Srina didn’t understand it. Not fully. All she knew was that she could feel him in the moment. See him affect the world around her. The Force also told her that he was truly very, very far away. It gave her a headache to think about it too hard.​
Maliphant would be the first to speak. Often, it would be that way. The pale-skinned woman tended to retreat into herself. She compartmentalized and swallowed all that might break the pristine surface of her skin. He claimed that she had the mind of a warrior. His smile seemed meant to comfort, but, it was difficult to muddle through that which brought her to this place. It was strange. His words were tinged with the flavor of truth…But it was the tone of his voice—The sound that pulled her back to present enough to try and understand.​
How could she come to terms with this? How could she live with this?
Her brow creased a little when he mentioned being tortured. By more than one person. Even with her limited perception of social norms, she found it abhorrent. His nudge to her person caused her eyes to widen slightly. Was this a game? Tentatively, she leaned, and nudged him softly in return. He smelled of...Caf. Coffee. Her eyes averted finally. He still had never told her which name he wished. “I am sorry.”
“For what you have been through. I do not like it. You are…Stronger than I to survive such things.”
From her perspective Maliphant, Dorian, had done more than survive. He lived. He could speak and counsel her on finding peace without letting his past overwhelm him. She could not pull herself from the loss that seemed to encapsulate her every move. She could only mourn. It came in a variety of forms but it always returned. Every time she was reminded that her child would never speak, would never breathe, because someone who had claimed they loved her—Let her walk into a trap? Set off a thermal detonator in the next room?​
There was nothing but agony. Her own flesh and blood had been nothing but collateral damage. It was the fee, the price, paid in blood for the Eternal Empire to rise.​
“I do not wish to feel any longer. Is that strange?”
Srina did not want to think of the man that had left her to acclimate alone. She did not want to think of their home on Naboo that lay vacant and filled with cobwebs. She didn’t want to realize, for the hundredth time, that she had never even gotten to name her unborn. “I…Never even knew if it was a daughter or a son.”, she murmured, pausing, when she realized that she’d spoken aloud. She clammed up immediately.​
Her eyes swept down to her hands as she tried to breathe through the pain in her chest. Eventually, it would ease. The golden tint to her eyes faded. Control. She could control this. She had trained for the majority of her adult life to think before acting. To observe. To always be one step ahead. Srina released a soft exhale and the visible tension in her body eased. There. “What does Darth Maliphant find peace in?”
It was odd talking about him, to him, as if he wasn’t there—But it was a new topic that she needed to grasp hold of. It was too easy to get lost in the anguish. Every bit of her blood felt like it was boiling and there was nowhere for it to go. She wanted to break things as she had been broken. Crush, everything. That was unacceptable. Even Sith had goals. Expectations. And as an Apprentice she still had someone to answer to.​
“Don’t we all have a mask? Mine…I always feel like its slipping.”
If it slipped—She slipped.​
People would die.
 
Sisyphus
Character
I’m… not stronger, Srina.”, he sighed, his muscles almost reflexively pulling him in tighter.​
Defensive, he knew he wasn’t - while Srina lost that which she loved, had an undeniable connection to; Maliphant wasn’t sure if any of his connections were real. Irajah, the only one that truly gave him more than a whip, still never freed him - still let him disappear, to be tortured, and leave him for another. Was that truly a connection, or was he simply a fool to be used?​
He pushed those thoughts from his mind, like prying steel from a weld; and let his mind focus solely on what he saw. Harsh shadows cast from the dichotomy of the planet, long and reaching over crystals jutting from the surface and patches of grass that held themselves tight. Communities of cooperation - and the idle predator walking between them.​
Alone, hungry. Looking for something to satiate that need.​
Maliphant didn’t expand on what he meant - he only remained quiet for a few careful moments - denying her claim of strength, and wallowing in that momentary pity of what that meant. A Sith Lord made weak; and never able to tell the Galaxy what that meant. Did he even have a right to that insecurity, for all the things he’d done?​
His train of thought was broken as Srina spoke again -​
No, its… Not strange. I’ve considered that a dream for - well, some time.”, he said with a weak smile, leaning his head against his knees as he watched her.​
It was her whisper after, that seemed to touch a nerve however. Maliphant had his suspicions of what it was she lost, why it affected her so deeply - but he could never have been sure. She had lost something no Mother should - and he spoke as though his slavery were comparable. There were so momentary quakes, that ichor through the Force that implied malevolence and anger - and Maliphant felt hopeless to help her.​
He could sense that time it took her to breath, how hard she fought for it - and he felt the urge to remind her he was here. Not for shame, but… for comfort. To tell her that he wasn’t leaving - or at least, not under his own will. For a moment, he hovered a hand over her back - considered pressing it to her, but eventually relinquished that hesitation to the hope of comfort. His rubbed at her shoulder for a moment, but remained quiet as she untensed - watching ever carefully for her to regain that control she desperately sought.​
When she had, he simply pulled back into himself - even as she spoke of ‘Darth Maliphant’. Dorian offered another weak smile, as though entertained by what she found weird - talking about himself, to himself. It took him a moment to consider her question, and then replied with a light, almost gravelling tone -​
He doesn’t. Power, perhaps - destruction… Maliphant is an entity that keeps me free. A personality I put on to remind the Sith I meet that I can’t be enslaved again…”, he offered as he watched her for any signs she was falling into that panicky state.​
Perhaps Maliphant finds peace in that. Freedom.”​
When she asked of masks, he nodded;​
We do… The secret is to find someone you don’t need to wear a mask around. A peace in your environment, so them slipping away isn’t so…”​
He thought for a moment as he considered his word;​
So dangerous.”​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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Her head tilted slowly, this way and that when he denied his own strength. The small physical reactions he had to their conversation confirmed that there was far too much about him that she neither knew nor understood. It was fascinating to try and liken him to the Slave she knew when his evolution was so changed. His tone was different. His form, his face, but with just enough similarities to confirm they were one and the same. Silver-hewn eyes ran over his features, his posture, and her analytical mind tried to piece together his secrets. “…I think you are.”
The galaxy felt like it was designed to eat her alive. Growing up with her family on Eshan, no matter the fighting, the raids, had sheltered her. Nothing under the sight of the Six Sisters could have prepared her for this.​
She took a small level of comfort in knowing that she wasn’t alone in wishing emotion didn’t touch her. Rather than to muddle through, struggle, and barely keep her head above water? Feeling nothing held a tempting ring. It was ironic. Most of the Confederacy already assumed that she was incapable of affection. She heard the whispers, the rumors, that her heart was made of stone.​
Everyone assumed that Aryn Teth had just been a glutton for punishment. She couldn’t break. Couldn’t melt. Not even for him. Only, she had. That was what made his absence so glaring. Love was what made this tragedy so complete. The lack of it. The hole left behind. She shifted slightly when an animal wandered into their proximity. Etrigan began to grow, suddenly awake, and alive. The Sky Demon gnashed his teeth and released a deafening cry that caused it to scatter.​
The sound of large wings taking flight signaled that he had taken offense. That—Or he was still hungry. The wind Etrigan left behind caused white hair to stir and ruffle. It pulled in the breeze like spun silk, glimmering and reflecting the colors of the Nightlands. Maliphant seemed to respect her need to lock her feelings away. He remained with her, allowing time and space so that she could regain control. Srina could feel him move and almost expected a soft touch…But it never came.​
She didn’t know what that meant. That she expected it—Or that she was anxious over the lack of it. It didn’t make sense. They hadn’t been overly close before. She had thought him mischievous, intelligent, and resourceful. That was true. This felt diverse in every way. She was drawn inward rather than being repulsed or distant. The interaction was almost comfortable, despite, the subject matter.​
In an abstract sense, she knew she should have walked away. Her visions were brutal, unforgiving, and often held consequences that no one was prepared for. This combined paradox seemed too strong and real. She could feel him. Sense him. The Force was truly a mysterious thing. A cruel mistress as man at her side had put it. He spoke of himself as she had, in the third person, and her eyes flickered. “That doesn’t seem to be the worst option. Power…We all chase it, now.”
“I never used to want it. Need it. Things have changed. You use it to maintain your freedoms. I use it to fulfill my role. To caretake, to defend, and be the dutiful daughter. It is a requirement now.”
Her lips formed a careful frown when he mentioned finding someone, they didn’t need to wear their masks around. She had her Master. He did his best to understand. But, he was busy with his dark sorceress. Srina also did her best to keep him from seeing or feeling what went through her head. Adron was tied up with his new family. Tacitus had betrayed her. Aryn, was gone. With no intention of returning. Half her family had died around her and she was powerless to stop it. She couldn’t cross a planet, let alone a galaxy in an instant. For all that she had obtained—She still had nothing.​
“I have no one to see me without it. It will always be dangerous. I will always be.”
Her expression was unreadable. Sad—But resolute. She would stand on her own, and endure as he had, or the pressure would bury her. Srina reached out and let her fingers run along a tendril of white hair that fell from his head. It was close in shade to her own but with a slight wave. Absently, she wondered if he could feel it as she did. “Why did they keep you that way? As you were before?”
What was the point of making a man into a slave? He spoke of torture. It wasn’t even for the purposes of labor. Her heart hardened just in time to deflect against another possible truth. Entertainment. Sometimes, people, especially Sith, could do unimaginable evil. Just for the sake of being cruel. She tilted her head so that she matched his gaze. She didn’t pity him. He didn’t require that.​
It was something else.​
“Never…Never go back to that. No matter what. Never let them make you less than what you are.”
Srina wished she could take his painful past and make it something pleasant. Obviously, she couldn’t. The want was still there. A hidden wish, were she being honest. No one needed to tell her the truth on that. Wishes were girlish things. Meant for dreaming. Dreams, did not come true. All she had was the present. A moment in time in which she had no idea of knowing when it would end. “Never.”
 
Sisyphus
Character
We all chase it now.”, Srina said.​
Maliphant simply nodded, watching as the dragon left them to eat the creature. For the first time, as odd as it were, they were alone together - and it drove a strange sensation up the Sith’s spine. An anxiety to it, a vulnerability he wasn’t used to - memories he wanted to suppress; but they dug upwards through that emotional dirt. It forced him to tighten up, draw his knees closer to his chest as he watched the winged predator gorge himself.​
Power is the requirement of all Sith, I imagine.”, he offered back quietly.​
If we didn’t strive for it - constant as it were, we’d only face harder trials. From fate, from other Sith, from other people in general.”, he seemed to sigh.​
And yet, what had it gained Maliphant? He controlled the largest Banking Clan in the Galaxy, had a private military fleet on his beckon call; and was arguably, one of the most powerful Sith Lords in the galaxy, trained by Sidious, Revan, Bane, Naga Sadow, and Ajunta Pal. Yet, he felt so powerless to it all… To himself, to the fact that despite all the endless power on his fingertips, he wasn’t dehumanized like the others - lost that reality of emotion that kept him sane.​
More than anything, he didn’t want to feel. He wanted to become emotionless, a violent maelstrom like his ancient Masters; to find purpose in Power alone, a happiness he couldn’t reach without yet - and yet, he hadn’t. Felt as though he couldn’t, as his mind always wondered back to that empty Penthouse, to the wine he drank alone.​
For in his search to never be a slave again, he had driven anyone who could’ve helped him away. Out of fear, anger, even sadness - Maliphant was alone in the world and knew it. It was hard to approach a Sith Lord, when he was more afraid of you than you of him. Maliphant closed his eyes for a moment as he considered what that meant, but his thoughts were drawn away as a strand of his hair was pulled, played with by Srina.​
His gaze wandered up to her, and he could feel a vague warmness in his chest. A tightness came with it, but the warmth was the focus - and he enjoyed that sensation; inadvertently forcing a smile on his face as she twirled it about her finger. Maliphant slowly rose, and rested a hand on hers - gently pulling it before them until it was palm up. He watched it for a few moments before using his fingers to run across the lines that made up her palm - as though he were reading that markings of her skin.​
Its hard to say…”, he offered back as his gaze danced across her fingers, but he couldn’t help but pause - almost offer a weak smile as she asked him to never go back to that. A slave.​
I never will, Srina. I’ve worked too hard to get away from it.”, he whispered back, his thumb methodically running over her palm, almost massaging it.​
Noana brought me here for a reason, Srina.”, he offered quietly, his gaze reflexively moving back to her hand, as though he were afraid of what he was about to say.​
I think its about the Masks we wear - that it knows neither of us have someone to talk to without it. Perhaps…”, Maliphant said, almost hesitating from finishing.​
Perhaps it hopes we can become that. For each other.”​
 
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
____________________________
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Silvery eyes followed her companion through the dark sky with a distinct sense of longing. How she envied her Sky Demon. How she envied all of her creatures with wings. They could simply take flight and leave the trivialities of the galaxy behind. It was so simple for them. They flew for sport, flew for fun, for food. They flew simply because they felt the need to. Not because an entire nation, full of millions, depended on it. That was the pressure she swallowed down every time she picked up her lightsaber.​
Every time she made a choice that could send Confederate men and women to a grisly end. No one would know the weight of it, save, perhaps the Vicelord. Adron Malvern had been born a noble. He was used to having people beneath him. Srina was not. She had no desire to lead. It just seemed that she had a talent for it. One, her Master refused to waste.​
She could sense that something was amiss. It was strange. How could she read someone who was there and not there by way of some strange Force related paradox? He pulled his knees up tighter and her head tilted softly whilst she tried to understand. Did the sight of Etrigan eating bother him? Her Sky Demon couldn’t hurt him. No more than she could.​
Rather than to call him out she continued with the discussion.​
“I suppose you’re right. It just feels strange. The more I have—The less control exists.”
This left her unsettled. She had always prided herself on reigning in her emotions so that she could utilize them with cold precision. She thought. She did not feel. She walked everything through to a point in which she could not be denied. Her will was iron. Her enemy, dust. Why could she suddenly feel fury burn through her like wild-fire? It almost felt good to let it out. Almost.​
The rest of the time she felt like her skin ought to crack and peel, mostly, just trying to hold the fire back. She was not alone in her troubles. But, she could be in a room full of people and still feel a sense of isolation. It was overwhelming. The quiet woman toyed with the tendril of platinum blonde hair that was still attached to her companion. It amazed her that it felt real. Soft. She could feel every strand while she rolled it around her finger in silent contemplation. There was silence, but, it was comfortable.​
The rage in her being was not so overpowering that it throttled her. She could breathe.​
When Maliphant took her hand, it was as if she’d awoken from a trance. Silver eyes were wide, softer than they should be, and she felt as if she’d been doused in ice water. Startled. She was startled that she hadn’t seen him move. The smile he wore caused her to settle. Her heart slowed. The slight sensation of tranquility crept back in as she watched him trace the lines of her palm. He seemed so intent. Did it tell him something she did not know?​
When he spoke of being enslaved…It bothered her. More than it should have. These were details that she had not known of the Slave. She had taken his moniker as something ambiguous. Never had she ever considered the fact that he might have been kept in bondage. The tightness between her shoulder blades eased when he almost promised he would never let his captors have him again.​
No man, no creature, especially not this one—Deserved that fate.​
His thumb to her palm was distracting. So few people got this close to her. So few people dared to come near, and even fewer, dared to breach her personal space. To be fair—She’d started it. But it was her way. Physicality let her know. Touch, let her remember. See. Just like watching him fight would tell her all she needed and then some. Her eyes almost closed with the sensation but, Noana, came back to the forefront of the discussion.​
He still held her hand, though, he seemed upset now. Srina followed his eyes. There was something about the yellow-gaze of this Sith that made her want to look. They weren’t hostile. They held emotion that she wasn’t used to seeing. There were secrets, neatly buried, that left her curious.​
Everything about this encounter made her curious.​
Srina let him keep her hand. What he was doing…She didn’t mind. “Noana…Hopes?”
Could the sword have a hope? This was the first time, in a long time, that she hadn’t bothered wearing a blank mask. She was still herself. Still…Emotionally stunted, but, she didn’t feel the need to hide. Not right now. “There is something…”, she trailed off gently, the cool, bare tones of her voice getting lost in the warm air. “I don’t know what. But something. These connections do not exist without purpose…”
“Perhaps, you’re correct.”
 
Sisyphus
Character
The more I have, the less control exists.”​
Maliphant didn’t know that sensation - relating to most of what she said. For him, control has saved him - but it had made him realize so much more, a dangerous longing, a lonliness that forced his heart to yearn for something a sith like him didn’t deserve. Companionship, and it forced him to cringe - the thought of that pain forcing his heart to shiver.​
The more I have, the more I realize what I’m missing.”, he sighed.​
After a moment, he continued, responding to her question as his fingers slowly intwined with hers. Fingers between fingers, and he clenched a bit tighter before pulling it to his chest - so she could feel his heartbeat; or to simply have her hand close. He glanced back up to her - letting her stare at the eyes she was drawn to;​
Noana is bonded to us both. Me, for being its creator, you for being its Master; and it feels our emotions, knows what we want, even when we don’t.”, he offered.​
If Noana thinks this is for the best - perhaps it is.”, Maliphant said with a quiet smile.​
But he could feel a distant sensation, as though he were still far from here. It was the first realization of it in a few minutes, and it began to seperate him from that vulnerable state he was in - he could almost feel himself going back to Coruscant, smell the Caf he had spilled;​
I will return, Srina. Wait for me.”, Maliphant exclaimed as he looked about - but he let go of her hand, moving to embrace her; and yet he faded from her vision before he could. Be it a kiss, a hug, or simply a reassuring gesture - it was lost in the void of the moment.​
---​
Maliphant caught his balance as he glanced about - the distant voice of Cybele asking him if he was alright. It took him a moment to realize just where he was; only noticing by the spill he had made minutes before. He groaned slightly as Cybele asked again;​
Are you alright, Dorian? You just… stood there…”​
I’m fine - Just had a moment is all.”, he stammered out as he kneeled down to pick up the porcelain pieces of the mug, shattered as it were.​
There was a wash of cold over him now - the air an ice bath that threatened to steal his breath. Without that connection, without the state it put him in - he was just Maliphant once more. A harsh truth beneath a sweet lie; and it burned in his heart, his stomach, and his mind - each feeling a vague hole of incompleteness that he was only suddenly made aware of.​
Cybele…”, he asked quietly.​
Yes?”​
Could you call for a Nox? I have to take a trip… To Ryloth.”​
 
Administrator
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Location: Ryloth [Nightlands]
Tag: @ Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
Wearing: XOXO [Black w/Red Highlights]
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“What are you missing?”
It was a candid and light query. It could be hard to follow the notion of such a soft-spoken creature carrying the weight of the Darkside so easily. Her pale features and unblemished countenance often left non-force users entirely confused when the truth unveiled itself. She seemed almost frail in the inherent grace that touched her every act. Almost. There was a hidden sharpness, strength, that was always unwavering. The slender Echani had always told her Master that her people were every bit as bloodthirsty and violent as the Mandalorians.​
They just looked better doing it and managed to pass it off as elegant aristocracy.​
Maliphant explained a little more about Noana and she listened carefully. Srina didn’t know what all had gone into making the sword, however, this painted a clearer picture. Perhaps he was right. This sword knew her better than anyone. It knew her forms, her body, her movement, strengths, and weaknesses. Could it be possible that it actually knew her?
“That could be correct. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of…”
Reality began to shift. Srina tensed. She didn’t know why. The bridge had seemed stable up until that point. The potential change made her uncomfortable and her newfound loss of pressure seemed to evaporate. The pale man reached for her and she felt an ill-be-gotten pang of sadness. Loss. She could feel him fading and her chest grew tight long before his arms tried to wrap around her. He promised to return. Asked her to wait. But, he was gone.​
As if he had never been.​
“…May we meet again.”
The winds that blew through the Nightlands seemed to echo a sense of loss. She felt confused. Srina barely knew him, and he barely knew her, but on a base level she already wished for him to return. Who knew where he was? Or if it had even really happened at all? Was it only just a dream?​
The Exarch whistled sharply for Etrigan and her Sky Demon returned. He’d had his fill. She climbed atop the beast when his body dipped low and secured herself. Large wings kicked up dust and fluorescent pollen and before she knew it, they were on their way back to the Well. Suddenly, the silence was too much. Deafening.​
Especially, when she knew there was a voice that could break it. True or false—This place of respite was now...Empty. She wanted to go home.​

Location: Ryloth [Sinner’s Well]
Each day brought her closer to leaving the Well so that she could return to Golbah City on Geonosis. She spent a fair amount of time on other worlds, in other cities, but always returned to the heart of the Confederacy. It was her duty. More than learning how to maintain her connection to the Force there were millions of people that needed her to take action. Her focus was singular. They still needed to answer for the treason that had been committed by the Eternal Empire before the militant group absconded from their space. She had followed many leads. Nothing seemed capable of refuting the claims that Ephraim deWinter had made. Guilty.​
They were guilty. It was compounded by their subsequent departure from Confederate space. If they had done nothing wrong, if they were innocent, why run? The CIS had only ever treated the refugees from the Ancient Eye with dignity and respect. Srina, had cherished their Emperor. He had been a fast friend, a confidant, and never failed to be there when both she, and the nation, needed him most.​
He had died for her on Eshan.​
Was it all an act?​
Was she so blind? So easily deceived?​
Srina was sparring with herself in a circular white ring on the exterior grounds of the Well. The entire property was built like a fortress that masqueraded as a home. Darth Metus had assembled it not long after they had found one another on Coruscant. He worried for her well-being when he was away. Even now, stronger, and feared, he preferred knowing that she was either safe with him or safe at home. It was a strange concept to have a Master that worried so openly.​
She didn’t dislike it. Though not bound by blood the moorish Sith Lord was indeed family.​
Her form flowed sinuously, smoothly, akin to poetry in motion. If a body could sing on its own, if it could speak, talk, and show without words passing through lips—This would be it. All of the things that caused her heartache, stress, happiness, or sadness were written in every movement. She had long since given up on fighting droids. She shortened their half-life exponentially and often voided the warranty. In lieu of a real partner, her own shadow, brought her peace.​
It was almost blinding to watch an Echani fight an enemy only they could see.​
Srina lunged forward and used her right foot as a springboard to spin her body in the air. The motion carried through and an upward thrust lent to the idea of an invisible spear piercing air. She stepped back, flowing away, and crouched low whilst finding her center of gravity. Her combat style was a mixture of many, mastery of none, so that she could anticipate more than one opponent. She struck quickly, a whirling dervish, before falling back to maintain the upper hand.​
Most of her opponents were thrice her size. They had more reach. A male with a weapon increased that exponentially, even if she had one too, so maintaining speed was paramount. She would rarely win in a battle of strength without the Force. But with awareness or conversely, staying right inside the guard of her enemy, and fighting seamlessly close? That would also suffice.​
She moved back toward her invisible attacker and threw a flurry of jabs that were aimed toward the face and throat. Head to disorient. Throat to restrict breathing. In the haze of an imagined battle, she found a sense of purpose. She could hear her enemy, mocking the death of her unborn, and in her mind, it was a call for war. They came for her. For him. They went through Srina, without thought, without care. She would demolish them. She would show them every ounce of power she had attained. If her body failed, she would still fight, beat them, with her own broken bones until they were nothing but dust. It was clarity.​
Fight – Or die. But, Srina would make them suffer first.​
Her right shoulder slid back whilst she dodged an incoming blow and responded with a close uppercut to the jaw. Were it actually to hit, she knew blood would pool in the mouth, and pain would erupt from the point of impact. Twin hands grasped the head of her enemy and she simultaneously pulled down and drew her knee up to connect where a humanoid nose ought to be. Her feet landed, secure, and she kept going. There was no moment to breathe. No moment for air. Just a constant, undiluted, force of nature that simply wouldn’t stop. She did not miss and she would not give in.​
Her form was covered in attire designed to allow her the most movement possible. A white midriff-baring top with crisscrossing strings along her bare back to keep it secure. It was paired with form-fitting pants made out of synthetic blends that went that down to mid-calf. They had the same crossing fabric on the sides, running down the length of deceptively long legs. It was comfortable, not too tight, or too loose. Lengths of ivory hair had been pulled back into a singular tight braid. Her feet? Bare, aside from tape at certain points for protection.​
She liked to feel the ground beneath her—Sky above.​
Srina practiced weaving away from being struck, typically, operating on the notion that most opponents swore they ought to be able to strike her immediately. She was, after all, just a tiny female. Slight of frame, though toned, still quite small. A diminutive creature. Nothing drew more amusement to her than when they realized all of their fancy armor, footwork, and carefully planned punches got them nowhere. She was a shadow. Never where the enemy thought she would actually be. That was due to her upbringing. Echani eyes missed nothing. Not a breath, not the twitch of a muscle.​
Fighting in this way allowed her to expend pent up energy. It quieted her body and mind, leaving her tired, sweating, sucking air—But somehow feeling at peace. It took feelings of defeat and shame and replaced them with steel and confidence. It was a reminder that she never needed to walk in powerlessness and fear. A reminder that the truth existed. That none could stop her. No bondage, no limitation, no imposing force could ever extinguish her spirit.​
It would exist, burning bright, and her enemies would never know a moment of peace. Neither awake nor asleep.​
Srina buried her thoughts and kept training. She would be ready for all things. Fighting herself improved technique, helped build muscle memory, and mindfulness. She kept her feet a shoulder-width apart, bouncing back and forth, and ensured that her weight remained evenly distributed. A slight bend to the knee. Elbows down, hands up. Chin slightly down—Cold eyes forward.​
She threw jab after jab, right and left, until her arms burned and her shoulders screamed. The Echani moved from one combination to the next. A jab had a lot of power when thrown correctly but minimal energy use, which, was something she favored. It was simple and effective. The last time she threw a jab with her left hand she slid her foot back, and as her arm retracted into a defensive position, hand near her face, her hips and shoulders rotated to follow through with a straight right hand. Palm extended outward. Hopefully, to break facial bones.​
What she didn’t count on was her mood carrying through the final hit. A telekinetic wave emanated from her being and careened right into an old tree. A solid crack echoed through the habitation sphere which caused her to still. Freeze, at such a sharp, echoing sound. It was ice-water being thrown in her face while the tree began to split and the two halves fell away evenly with corresponding thuds.​
Slowly, she released her stance. Silver eyes focused on the tree, though, she remained unrepentant.​
Good.
Again.​
The training began anew.​
 
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Sisyphus
Character
Somewhere in Hyper Space…
Maliphant had been anxious much of the trip - even as the droids told him that they would be arriving at Ryloth soon. It had taken him days to get his arrangements in Order, to make up the excuse for a business meeting on Ryloth for the IGBC, and all the while hoping that the woman he met hadn’t decided to leave prematurely. A sigh escaped his lips as he poured himself the first drink of the day.​
Was it daytime? On these ships, it was hard to tell, and their synthetic ‘lights on, lights off’ policy did little to keep his circadian rhythm in sync with any planet he visited. The more he seemed to do it, the less he enjoyed the constant flying and traversing of the cosmos he was asked to do on an almost daily basis… Somewhere deeper in his psyche, he longed for a home - one he could call his own. Like Harper’s Respite once was - before he was forced to abandon it to the Empire.​
He sighed as he took a sip of the peach liquor, sitting in a large and minimalist chair at his desk. Yet, just as he was about to reach over to place his drink down, he could feel himself slip away once more; and before he could realize where he was, he saw her once more. This time, dressed in minimal clothing, training against things that weren’t there; enemies she wished she could fight, perhaps ones she soon expected to.​
For a while, Malipant chose to just watch her - never letting her know he was there. He was good at hiding his presence, even in the Force Bond they were quickly growing; and for the moment he would be able to, lest it grow stronger. This bridge between them was a curious thing he had thought about for some time, and while Noana was perhaps the Catalyst, he wondered if it was the only thing causing it now.​
It was only after the tree had uttered its dying cry, splitting down the middle and collapsing that Maliphant took a step forward. Before Srina could try for another bout of training with herself - he spoke up with a carelessly playful smile, even if she wouldn’t quite understand the tease;​
Are you winning?”, he asked quietly, taking a few steps into the ring with her.​
With his arms wide, he chose to finish what he started the first time; and brought her into a momentary embrace. The Echani were notorious for their physicality, for being close and understanding the emotions behind it. It came easier than speaking, and Maliphant understood that - after hours of research to make sure he abided by her cultural norm.​
Through it, Srina would feel warmth, relief they were seeing each other once more, and the ever present sorrow the Sith seemed to carry; buried as it was behind his smile and teasing. This time, instead of Caf, she could smell the sweetness of Peach upon the Sith, contrasting the Darkness in his aura ever so pleasantly. When he released, it was gone - and nothing remained but his quiet, appreciative gaze to her.​
I’m sorry I was gone for so long, Srina… I’m almost here.”, he offered in reassurement.​
How do you fare? You seem… Bothered.”, he repeated more quietly, feeling that tension through the bond. She had something on her mind, but what wasn’t known to him; just that it bothered him in the ever slightest way.​
 
Administrator
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Location: Ryloth [Sinner’s Well]
Tag: Darth Maliphant Darth Maliphant
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She didn’t feel him right away. Perhaps, her lack of awareness was deliberate. Or perhaps Maliphant was simply that good. The young woman wished to think of anything but the recent past. She wanted to bury her fury, her anger, her hate so that she could repurpose it as a weapon in the wars to come. And come—they would. There was one thing the Confederacy excelled at. It was a machine. Built, willing, and ready to fight. Srina was simply one of the many cogs that made the engine keep running.​
The voice stunned her. Stilled her, in mid-motion. She settled while the hair on the back of her neck began to stand on end and a tremor rang down her spine. Suddenly, she felt him. Just as acutely as she had in the Nightlands. “I…I always win.”, she uttered breathlessly, softly, while trying to relearn how to breathe. Her hands rest on her hips for a moment while her face turned to the sky. Air. Breathe.​
In through the nose—Out through her mouth slowly.​
What was this? Another dream? Another space, a pocket in time, where she could Arms came down around her sides and the Echani felt more than just a projection press her close. Her back to his chest, she stiffened, before her form began to relax. She was covered in a light sheer of sweat, something, most people would shy away from. He didn’t. Was it because he wasn’t truly here?​
For a brief moment, she let it be. Silvery eyes fell closed while feathery eyelashes dusted against alabaster cheeks that held a rose hue from exertion. She let herself lean back, against her better judgment, to let his intentions speak for themselves. How could she feel so much through a projection? His heartbeat was loud in her head. The scent of something sweet and boozy that was wrapped in equal parts happiness and sorrow. It was a little dizzying. Either that or the lack of sufficient oxygen and hydration from her training session.​
Just as her arms started to rise, he pulled away. There was an abrupt loss of warmth. She turned slowly as he pulled away, catching golden eyes, and her hands fell back down to her hips again. Her stance became firm with one hip cocked to the side. The moment of weakness, of giving in, was gone. Srina was a warrior and would always be as such. “I was starting to think I’d simply fallen asleep…”
“That you were just…a dream.”
It wouldn’t be the first time. Her visions often took her to places unknown when she slept. She saw people she didn’t know, people she would never meet, and shared in their triumphs and failures. Srina held mixed feelings about it. Sometimes, she knew they were false memories. Other times? She knew them to be very, very real. He apologized to her. Why should he? “You do realize...You are not obligated to me… My burdens are not yours to bear.”
The response was plain, flat because she didn’t know how to feel. That he was almost there? Was it true or was her mind playing tricks on her? Srina really didn’t know. These moments where she felt as if he was standing directly before her, left her senses confused, and the rest of her a little empty. Did she want him to be there? Had she wondered, since that night, if he would ever return? A very complicated answer to this question spoke the affirmative. He understood. Or—It seemed that he did.​
He asked her what troubled her. So many, many things.​
More than she had words for.
“…I can feel it. Taste it, bitter. Like copper.”
Her words were disjointed while she tried to explain what it was that drove her to push herself so very hard. It was more than a need for justice. Vengeance, were she being completely honest. Srina knew that someone deserved to suffer for her loss, however, she would never place the Confederacy in harms way. Her loyalty was unwavering. Silver eyes seemed to dim while she watched a point just slightly past the Sith Lord. “It comes with a price. Black clouds, blood, and death.”
“—From beneath us, it devours.”
The Eternal Empire had begun a landslide that could not be stopped. From beneath, they had devoured. Srina shook her head a little bit and her arms rose up to wrap lightly about her torso. They crossed over her chest whilst she clasped her upper arms. Gooseflesh spread their way down in little innocent bumps that caused a visible shiver to run down her spine. It was either from her visions, or, the wind caressing her rapidly cooling skin. “War is coming. I do not know when. But—I feel it.”
She exhaled. For a moment, she seemed very small. Surrounded by droids, people, and an entire nation. But so very alone.​
“It tastes of ash.”
 
Sisyphus
Character
Not a dream…”, he offered with a smile, “... But something like that.”​
He was dressed differently now, wearing a far more relaxed set of clothes - yet they were matte black, well fitted, and vaguely spacer; it was enough to show his well muscles form, but not enough to be crass. Maliphant rested his hands over one another as she spoke; listening to her words as she spoke them -​
What I’m obligated to do doesn’t matter, Srina.”, Maliphant reassured as he took a step closer to her.​
What I want does - and I want to bear what burdens I can.”​
In an odd way, this connection they had - even those few moments of emotional vulnerability, were addicting. He had never felt so… momentarily happy, to feel open enough in sadness that he didn’t fear himself getting hurt. It was odd, to say the least, but it was a reassuring feeling; and one Maliphant chased after - but more than that, he chased after it from the person who gave it to him.​
Yet, as she spoke again - Maliphant could feel that rising darkness. It was like a different person entirely, a beast with golden eyes that stalked prey - but not for the meat, but for the game. He had felt it before, in himself, but it had been long since he was so focused on lashing out… Revenge for him, was destruction to anything he could. The Slave was a terrorist, angry at the world - but Srina was the Dread Queen, and her anger was focused.​
Maliphant could see Srina close herself off, to her own emotions - to him, it didn’t matter, but her body language spoke for her. He minded his research, what he knew of Srina thus far, and took a step closer - brushing her hair behind her ear, taking care to prolong the contact before his fingers trailed down her hair, running his fingers around the lock of her braid.​
War often tastes of ash. Of blood, death - and it speaks to us in a way it doesn’t speak to most.”, he offered quietly, keeping himself close to her.​
We embody it… Internalize it…”​
You especially. You’ve a connection to this, can see visions of what is to come.”, he acknowledged lightly.​
But you don’t have to face it alone - even if you feel like you do.”​
Maliphant stopped toying with her braid as he finished, looking back up to meet her gaze. A smile broke on his lips, and resisted the urge to get closer.​
You can lean on me for strength, if you need it.”, he offered quietly, “You’re as strong as they come, Srina… but we all need support.”​
 
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