Star Wars: Treasure of the Force – Ch 43

Nix was glad that Ravas and Kelda were speaking. It had been all too easy to imagine Ravas fleeing once more. Or Kelda falling into the mute silence of needless guilt. It was a minor miracle that a thousand years of separation had needed only a handful of words to bridge the distance. 

Minor miracles were wonderful, and Nix truly appreciated the many she’d been given in the last several weeks.

There was a problem though.

She could feel the weight of the Dark Side pressing in on their little refuge, she could hear the whispers within it, and she could see that they were going to need more than a minor miracle for what came next.

“Who took your body?” Ayli asked Ravas. “It sounds like you know them?”

“Her master,” Nix said, the Force giving her a clear insight into that, and into the sort of monster Scytheus Dread had been. 

“Yes,” Ravas said, hanging her heard and closing her eyes.

“I’m quite sure I killed him,” Kelda said. “I was…thorough.”

“We both had the same treatments,” Ravas said. “Participated in the same rituals. Whatever this state I’m in? He could easily be the same.”

“He’s not,” Nix said, fighting to keep some portion of her attention within the sanctuary cave, “He’s much worse than you. He always was.”

“It is tempting to believe so, but I cannot be absolved of my crimes so easily,” Ravas said.

“I don’t think it’s about what you did in life anymore,” Ayli said. “We need to deal with what you and he have become since then.”

“She’s not a monster,” Kelda said.

“I destroyed your life,” Ravas said. “I’m pretty sure I’m your monster at least.”

“Good,” Kelda said. “Just so long as you remember that you’re mine.”

“Not to ask a question I probably don’t want the answer to, but, if you’re both okay with each other now, why are you still here?” Ayli asked. “Weren’t you bound by your broken connection to each other?”

“He won’t let them leave,” Nix said, unsure if it was safe to refer to Ravas’ former master at all. He was already aware of them though, so it wasn’t like she could avoid attracting his attention she supposed.

“What do you mean?” Ayli said. “How’s he going to stop us.”

“He’s waiting outside,” Nix said. “And he’s not alone.”

“It’s me he wants,” Ravas said. “I’ll go.”

“Like that?” Ayli said, gesturing to Ravas’ translucent form.

“He is as much a spirit of the Force as I am,” Ravas said. “And the one thing he cannot deny me is my own body.”

“Deny you? No. Fight you for control of? We both know the answer to that,” Kelda said.

“Do you think that’s a fight I would lose?” Ravas asked.

“Yes,” Nix said and raised a hand to forestall Ravas’ inevitable protest. “He has the weight of Praxis Mar behind him. If you go to do battle with him, you will have to destroy him. Not kill. He’s already dead. You will have to rip his spirit into some many pieces that they lose all sense of what they once were and dissolve into the Force as unthinking scaps.”

“I assure you, I am well aware of the destruction Scytheus Dread deserves,” Ravas said.

“But it’s not what you deserve,” Nix said. “We didn’t come to this place to destroy a meaningless footnote in history like Scytheus Dread. We came here for you. Letting you destroy yourself moments after reuniting you with the one you should have been with a thousand years ago? Yeah, no, we’re not doing that.”

“I am stronger than he is,” Ravas said. “I will not be destroyed.”

“Yes you will,” Kelda said. “You will be victorious. I have no doubt of that. You never lost a fight ever. I’m not sure you know how to. What will it cost you though? Where will you find the strength you need and what will you lose to do something like that.”

“I will…” Ravas paused, a somber expression pulling her zeal down. “Everything. I will lose everything.”

“Why? What would happen?” Ayli asked.

“If you had to fight for your life would you reach out to the Force?” Nix asked.

“I think I amply demonstrated that,” Ayli said.

“How do you feel now?” Nix asked.

“Better. Still a bit unstable though,” Ayli said. “If I think about what’s out there too much I want to start screaming.”

“That’s from one fight,” Nix said. “Picture if you’d lived your whole life like that and then you were faced with someone you had every reason to hate, who’d stolen your body, and where you’re only option was to inflict spiritual mega-violence on them?”

“Ah,” Ayli said. It wasn’t hard to imagine what drawing on the Dark Side of the Force to that extent would do. 

Which didn’t leave them with all that many tools given that Praxis Mar was drenched in nothing but the Dark Side.

“Can you do anything?” Ayli asked Kelda. “You were a Jedi right? You must know more about this stuff than any of the rest of us.”

“The Jedi teachings were notably lacking in techniques for manipulating the Dark Side or one which allowed you to shred a ghost’s spirit to pieces,” Kelda said. “But I should be the one to face Scytheus. I’ve killed him once already. I can probably lure him deeper into the Force, probably deep enough that he’d be lost forever.”

“Again, nope,” Nix said and turned to Ayli. “And before you even think of volunteering, that’s a hell no to you too. We’re all getting out of here. All of us. That’s the point. We don’t give up on that future, no matter how bad things look. Understood?”

“No worries,” Ayli said with an amused smile. “After our last tussle, I have no illusions that I could beat that thing. We do need a plan though.”

“I’ve got one,” Nix said. “I go out there.”

The three women in the room fixed blank stares on her.

“Not to fight!” Nix amended.

“Scytheus Dread will not talk to you,” Kelda said.

“You cannot reason with him, and you cannot trust anything he says,” Ravas said.

Ayli was silent for a moment though.

“She knows that,” she said eventually, her eyes narrowed in thought. “She has another plan though.”

“What is it?” Ravas asked.

“I have no idea,” Ayli said. “But I trust that she does.”

“It’s pretty simple,” Nix said. “I’m going to become his new apprentice.”

Ravas began to protest but Kelda raised a hand.

“Wait. She’s not the stupid,” Kelda said.

“Thank you. I’m sort of hoping Scytheus will think I am but whether he does or not doesn’t really matter. He needs me or Ayli and if he’s got me right there in front of him he’s not going to be able to pass that up.”

“Why does he need us?” Ayli asked. “He’s already got a body.”

“He does. But it’s dead,” Nix said. “That he can animate it here isn’t that surprising given how deep into the Dark Side this whole planet is. That he can’t animated it elsewhere though? This is a guess but after a thousand years here, this world would have to feel like a prison and Ravas was away from her body for weeks. If Scytheus could leave he would be on a ship somewhere on the other side of the galaxy by now.”

“So instead of Ravas’ body, you think he’ll try to take yours?” Ayli said.

“He will absolutely try to take hers,” Ravas said. “If she lets her defenses down for a moment, he won’t even blink before he tries to possess her.”

“That gets us Ravas’ body freed, unless he can possess both of them?” Ayli said.

“He won’t be able to maintain a hold on Ravas’ body if he’s elsewhere when she takes it back,” Kelda said.

“Okay, so that gets us Ravas back. How do we get Nix back though?” Ayli asked.

“She will have to fight him in her own body,” Kelda said.

“Can you do that?” Ayli asked.

“Nope. Scytheus is much too strong for me to fight.”

–  – –

Nix exited the sanctuary cave to find a small army waiting for her with Ravas’ body at the head of it.

“They sent the Padawan out first?” Scytheus said, clearly annoyed at the implied insult.

“I’m not here to fight,” Nix said. “I know how strong you are here.”

“Oh good, then you’ll be pleading for your life?” Scytheus asked.

“Um, I was thinking more of bargaining?” Nix said.

“And what could you possibly have that would be of value to me,” Scytheus asked, casting the question to the army of wisps and shades he’d drawn forth.

“Probably nothing,” Nix said. “I just thought I could learn from you and then you’d have someone to help you out?”

“And why would I want a wretched little thing like you,” Scytheus asked.

“Well, I’m not terribly useful to you if I’m dead,” Nix said. “You’ve got all these ghosts already. I thought a live assistant would be valuable, wouldn’t it?”

“And for this you would have me spare you?” Scytheus asked.

“Me and my wife,” Nix said. “If nothing bad happens to us, then it’s worth it.”

“Is that true?” Scytheus said. “Let me see inside your mind then.”

As predicted, the moment Nix relaxed a fraction of an inch and met Scytheus’ gaze directly his essence poured forth from Ravas and filled her vision, and hearing, and thoughts.

“Mine!” Scytheus roared, near mindless in his hunger for the spark of life of Nix carried.

“Is that what you think?” Kelda asked.

“He really thought we would let her face him alone?” Ayli’s voice asked in Nix’s mind.

“Greed and stupidity were always his defining traits,” Ravas said, but when she did so it was with her own voice. 

Her very real, very physical voice.

“What? No! NO!” Scytheus rage was echoed by the whole of the planet.

“Scream all you want,” Ayli said. “You can’t have her.”

“I will destroy you!” Scytheus screamed and tried to tear into Nix’s mind.

“No. You won’t,” Kelda said. “I killed you once before, and in death I have become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

“Not here. Not now,” Scytheus said. “You are but a pale flickering shade here Jedi. And we both know the power you had to drawn on to best me.”

“You know I would draw on it again before I would let you hurt anyone of those I’ve chosen to protect,” Kelda said.

“Perhaps you would, but I have legions to fight you with now,” Scytheus said. “And I too have found a greater power in death. One not even the most powerful of Jedi can stand against.”

The ground started to rumble in exactly the sort of manner that volcanoes are not supposed to rumble.

Nix felt something rising and sensed that she hadn’t planned for quite enough contingencies.

Her instinct was simple to leave. 

There wasn’t any reason to fight a crazed Dark Side ghost and his army of minions, there wasn’t any reason to risk any of the people she’d come to this place to save, and there definitely wasn’t any reason to face whatever terror Praxis Mar was about to unleash on them.

But she couldn’t leave.

Praxis Mar’s location was known now. Other people would come to it. Other people Scytheus could hurt or enslave.

“Kelda’s not going to kill you,” Nix said, capturing Scytheus’s attention as she drew forth the gift which Kelda has presented her with in the sanctuary. “I am.” 

With the flick of a switch a brilliant blue blade ignited from the lightsaber handle she held and Nix took the stance the Force guided her too.

Nix had taunted Scytheus to make sure his attention was on her. She ensured it stayed there with a swing which was guided by the Force to cleave Scytheus from shoulder to hip.

He blocked the attack with a barrage of Force Lighting, instinct overtaking the fact that as a ghost the lightsaber didn’t necessarily pose a deadly threat to him.

Ravas however did.

“Never again,” she said as she ripped the last remnants of light from his shade, crushing them in her bare hands as Scytheus’s lightning flared all around her.

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