Post by The Fallen on Apr 24, 2019 13:27:42 GMT -8
Suitable for the second-in-command of the Dark Jedi Order, the Empress’ chambers dominates a wing of its own upon the third floor. Not wasting time with such trivial matters of design, the Empress bequeathed the aesthetics to hired hands, who ensured this gothic sanctuary was befitting of royalty. Keeping true to her tastes, dark tones flood the room, from the walls to the floor to the furniture. A kitchen, complete with a stocked bar, is tucked off in the back, and a spacious loft hosts her official bedroom. A full holographic station occupies the sitting area, supporting work and communication to progress, even behind closed doors. All of these additions allow her to stay reliably and entirely comfortable for long periods without departing. Neither the banner of the Dark Jedi or Blackguard Reborn can be found, nor are there emblems from any known factions or noble houses. However, a strange insignia is etched into the floor of the bedroom loft, unseen to all but the Empress.
Last Edit: May 22, 2020 6:23:53 GMT -8 by The Fallen
Eris strutted along the corridors of the Temple, heading toward the Chambers of the Fallen Empress. Or as she knew the woman, Mariah Shadows. Of all the tasks that Ifrit had asked of her to carry out. This seemed like one of the strangest yet. Of all the people in the galaxy that could have been assigned to teach Mariah some better manners and etiquette, she had landed the job. Perhaps he should have thought a little further ahead before proclaiming her to be an Empress. Eris came to a stop in front of the door leading into Mariah's chambers. She caught her breath, before knocking on the door
Post by Mariah Shadows on May 16, 2019 21:17:33 GMT -8
For most, the Chamber of the Fallen Empress was a hollow place devoid of any living beings. A harsh life up until this point provided some excellent training in being undetected, even by those strong within the Force. However, when a familiar presence approached, Mariah glanced away from the holoprojector, which displayed a rather detailed map of the canyon nearby and its caverns. Still, when the woman realized it was Eris who sought her out, Mariah was quick to shut off the machine and send the image fluttering into nothingness.
Just as Eris knocked on the door, the crimson haired woman was there to answer almost immediately afterwards. The sound of the doors rushed open, Mariah lurking off to the side so that only Eris could see her. Eris would blockade the view of all others who might have been lurking down the corridor.
"Something wrong?" Mariah asked in a quiet murmur, raising an eyebrow at the tension she could feel within her unexpected company.
Crimson eyes flickered over Eris' shoulder, to ensure she was alone, before Mariah silently beckoned her into the room with a jerk of her chin.
Eris just about stumbled backwards when the door opened as swiftly as it did, Mariah stalking in the shadows off to the side. She took a quick look around at the deserted corridor, wondering if perhaps the Fallen Empress sensed something she herself did not. But there was nothing there. The hive assured its queen that they were far from this part of the temple and no one else had dared come this way That entirely depends upon your definition of something being wrong... Her voice sounded as if it had changed of late, taking on a slightly more ethereal tone. Perhaps a side effect of having commanded the hive for as long as she had. She took several steps inside the room when motioned to do so by Mariah, careful to clear the doorway with her wings as she examined the room Though, really it's not either of our definitions that matter in this situation... It seems The Fallen believes you are a little... anti-social...
Post by Mariah Shadows on May 18, 2019 10:46:55 GMT -8
Mariah pursed her lips thoughtfully, her gaze trained upon her company, as Eris suggested that it depended on her definition. Quite honestly, there were few things that could truly fall into that category to the Fallen Empress. Even the Temple suddenly being under attack would only mean swift action for defense, something easily enough achieved without the need for panic, or to be classified as 'something wrong'.
The moment Eris cleared the doorway, Mariah sent the doors whooshing closed. Sure enough, there weren't any prying eyes, but in the same thought, the crimson-haired woman couldn't be too careful these days, which made Eris' following words almost ironic.
The word resounded a meld of a growl and a laugh, caught in Mariah's throat.
"What does he expect?" she asked, although her tone suggested that the question wasn't one worthy of an answer. "Most who have flocked here have sought him out specifically, and those who truly need my presence know where to find me."
With a flicker of a dark smile, Mariah finalized her point with a motion of her head towards Eris. With a faint movement from her hand, the woman silently requested for Eris to make herself comfortable. Although the answer to Ifrit's concerns seemed simple enough, Mariah knew better by this point. If he had summoned Eris to her chambers, then there was more to her arrival than she currently knew.
"I figured keeping to my own was more of a boon to him and the order than not. If I need to remind him how my last encounter ended, I can certainly do so."
Had Ifrit not intervened, Mariah was certain that her attempted welcome of Xel-Tun would have ended up as a war with his people, or at the very least the two of them trading a few blows. However, perhaps that was what this all boiled down to, why Eris was here, which set a scowl upon the woman's expression as she braced herself for that possible confirmation.
Eris did not disagree with Mariah's sentiments. Their guests so far had been seeking audiences with the Fallen, since he was the more well known of the Order's leaders. When motioned to do so, Eris took a seat nearby, adjusting her wings to hang over the back of the furniture. It was abundantly clear that neither of them really wanted to be in this situation. Mariah did not care to interact with their new arrivals, and Eris did not believe the Fallen Empress wanted to change that. But she also knew that she could not merely get away without trying I think we both know that the incident with Xel-Tun is exactly why I am here, Empress... She knew well enough that her statement was going to rile her up, but the truth was the truth. While she knew it was a doomed task, she would not sugar coat the truth nor lie to Mariah And for better or worse, The Dark Jedi Order was founded by the both of you... He named you the Fallen Empress. You could have said no... But you didn't. You had to know that all of this was bound to happen... So why didn't you say no when he asked?
Post by Mariah Shadows on May 29, 2019 11:16:01 GMT -8
That confirmation came, and with it, Mariah released a quiet snarl as she turned her back towards Eris and paced away from her within the small chambers of her room. It took more control than she cared to admit to hold herself back from lashing out against her company. When it came down to it, though, there was a reason she had arrived as tense as she did. As much as Mariah didn’t like, Eris also seemed to wish for another way of handling this.
"I'll kill him," she muttered to herself, releasing the final bit of the anger that boiled deep within.
With a sigh, she finally quieted those thoughts, and turned back to Eris. Although a scowl was still written on the face of the crimson-haired woman, Mariah approached where Eris had settled down and took her own, typical seat, kneeling on the floor. Her eyes had lingered upon her company for only a brief moment, but when Eris brought up her points and asked her question, Mariah all too swiftly tore her gaze away.
"...because he asked," she answered sharply, although her voice a whisper. "He knew the woman he was asking to stand by his side in the formation of this order. Has he so easily forgotten our first encounter, his first impression of me? Did he think that with a single question, that all of who I am would simply go away, that I would just magically act like the Empress he truly wishes by his side? His magicks might be strong, but he isn't a miracle worker."
Mariah released a sarcastic huff of a laugh, but with a roll of her eyes, she sighed yet again. These were questions and concerns for Ifrit. Not for Eris. She was here, simply on a task assigned to her by the Fallen. If it would make things go faster and smoother for the two, both who seemed to despise the position that they were in, Mariah would play along. All the faster she could seek Ifrit out and take matters into her own hands.
Eris paid no mind to Mariah's presumably muttered threat. Even if she though the other woman meant them, it was not her place to worry about any engagements between the two leaders. It was almost cute how quickly Mariah tore her gaze away and provided her answer. But it was one she could well relate to. Ifrit did not demand anything of anyone. He simply asked them to perform a task for which he knew they were capable of. Which made his choice of Mariah as the Fallen Empress all the more curious. Or perhaps he saw something in her, that she herself did not. She let out her own laugh as Mariah stated that Ifrit was not a miracle worker. Before her expression settled into a more neutral line as the question turned to what Ifrit thought Eris was capable of doing To be that miracle worker... Perhaps you are every bit the Empress he so desires you to be already. After all, he is not one to take on a timid woman as one to stand his equal... After all, that is what you are in his eyes... Or well... You know... While she knew Ifrit did not take offense to any comments about eyes and sight, Eris still felt a little awkward. As free as she was and as much as she had changed lately, she still highly respected The Fallen These training sessions will not be some mere one and done thing either... Just as a single question cannot turn you into some ideal Empress, neither can a single lesson in etiquette do it either... If anything, that is not the goal. It's merely to help you hold a conversation with someone without it ending in some fight to the death or war...
Post by Mariah Shadows on Jun 23, 2019 12:40:34 GMT -8
Mariah couldn't hide the smirk and sarcastic huff as Eris uttered that answer: 'to be that miracle worker'. It somewhat lessened the rest of Eris' explanation regarding that she very well already was the Empress Ifrit wanted to stand by his side within the order. At least now, however, there was a bit more light shed on the matter. Etiquette, conversationalism, and being able to hold peaceful encounters instead of risking a war. Nonetheless, it didn't change how Mariah viewed herself - a warrior meant to be at the front lines of those wars, to bring death to those who opposed her and her family. A protector turned assassin, now requested to bring peace instead of chaos. However, it wasn't a foreign concept to the woman. It was a mask she had worn for one reason or another, but it was a mask nonetheless. One she had no desire to wear if it was she who was leading this order. It was a minor struggle in her mind at this present point in time. Not like that mattered much. The more Eris discussed her own role in this, the more Mariah could tell that she, too, agreed with Ifrit to a point. With a low, snarled sigh, the other woman had little other choice but to accept it -- for now.
"If he has issued you to be my instructor in these matters, as he is my instructor in the magical realms, then so be it," Mariah offered, her voice no longer cold, but still nearly emotionless and matter-of-fact. "I'll do what I can to make your task easier, for all our sakes."
After a brief sigh, Mariah then glanced up at Eris and offered a quiet smile, an expression most had never seen on Mariah's face in the entirety that they had known her. Deep within her, though, there was a swirling disgust, pushed deep as to not ruin the illusion she wore. To play it safe, however, as it had been far too many years since Mariah had been forced to do something as vile as this, she stood back to her feet and walked over to a small cabinet. She kept her back turned to Eris, allowing her revulsion to surface momentarily with a scowl and roll of her eyes, before releasing it from her feigned gentle expression.
Opening one of the doors to reveal her personal selection of liquor, Mariah turned back to Eris and offered, "Seeing as you'll probably be here for a while," before she pulled out a bottle of Corellian whiskey and poured the drink into two glasses.
"Your explanation is a bit paradoxical, at best, though, Lady Eris," she pointed out with a quiet laugh as she put everything away and walked back over to Eris calmly with the two drinks in hand. "To be an ideal Empress would mean that there is nothing in need of changing or growth, yet here we are, in dire need of it." There was no malice or daggers in her words, but rather odd, lulling, thoughtful tones. Offering the glass to Eris, Mariah furthered her uncharacteristic ponderings. "Why is it that he's asked for you to be his successor instead of his Empress? He should have known to appoint one capable of performing those duties, instead of issuing his successor to teach one in current power. You know as well as any of us that this order is still new and thus in desperate need of capable leaders immediately upon its formation. Should a war break out by my hand or tongue, it will bring about our destruction before we even had a chance."
Despite the circumstances they had both been put in, it appeared that both women were willing to do their best to make this process as painless as possible. She gave a bow of her head in response to Mariah's claims. Ideally, she would have just left here and told Ifrit to give it up. But with the Empress being as willing to put in an effort as she was, Eris would have to comply with her given task Agreed... The smile that Mariah offered next though, made Eris wonder just how necessary these lessons would be. Perhaps the Empress intended to use these lessons for her own goals, to brush up upon what ever skills she had. Eris remained where she was seated, as Mariah fetched them both a drink, pondering upon the explanation that had been given just moments ago. Despite the other woman's intent, Eris did her best to not let the pain they caused her show. Something that was helped a few moments later by the sip of alcohol that she took of the offered alcohol. She let out a deep sigh as Mariah finished her musing. Eris' gaze meeting Mariah's Despite his actions, I am not his equal... There is still much I do not know about this Order, one which the two of you founded together... His heart, for better or worse, belongs to you Empress. Maybe he has not said as much out loud, but... I can see it clear as day... She took another sip of her drink. Eris might not have meant to make that last statement, but Mariah needed to know. She had spent years training and carrying out Ifrit's commands. She had seen his intensity when working to bring Tyrande back from the dead, and the pain it had caused him to be rejected by her. But that same intensity had returned when Mariah had shown up and the Dark Jedi Order had been founded You are correct, this Order is young and fragile. And you may cause a war to break out. But that is the kind of risk he is willing to take... Because while you may not be a skilled diplomat, you are an exceptional warrior. And that is what he ultimately cares about. All this? What we are going to try achieve with these lessons? He hopes it may have some positive result. But ultimately, you may be better to ask him some of these things yourself... I can only speculate based on what little information I have...
Post by Mariah Shadows on Aug 30, 2019 9:38:54 GMT -8
It had been many years since Mariah had to attempt this facade, now all too fragile. It could be cracked by even the slightest of movements, a single thought, a momentary expression revealing the woman beneath it. At that, the gentle smile was too easily disrupted by the intensity of her gaze, which seemed to perpetually linger upon those nearby. Eris, although a trusted ally and friend, was no different. Still, the crimson-haired woman continued to play the role she adorned, which sang an eerie note underneath her sudden and delicate disposition.
Although Eris’ words were unexpected, to say the least, it wasn’t something that Mariah had been wholly ignorant of, either. Still, there was the slightest flinch as she tilted her head away, the smallest of scowls peeking through as her eyes narrowed. His heart. Mariah’s fingers gripped tighter on her own glass at that thought. Emotions such as that remained highly complicated. If it wasn’t pragmatic, it wasn’t worth wasting effort or energy on. So she didn’t. Until now, when Eris forced it into the light.
“It will be a difficult lesson for him to learn, that a decision of the heart may lead to his downfall.”
Her composure remained her words soft and quiet despite the apathy that still lied in wait beneath those forced tones. Taking a small break to sip at her own glass and sit in her own seat near Eris, Mariah soon continued.
“A warrior fights. That is what I was meant to be for him, for this Order. He knew who I was and still took the risk to make me his Empress. Not a Master among his warriors, or even assassins. His Empress. Although I didn’t trust his judgment, I thought he knew what he was doing. I’ve already made my decision to stand by his side and put my skills to better use. If his heart continues to get the better of him, it very well may be a wise decision for him to have already named a successor.”
Apathy, disappointment, anger -- all started to chip away the facade, bit by bit. It was easy to see that Eris’ words perhaps did the opposite of what she intended, but then again, that was the shell of the woman that managed to find them over a year ago on Sullust. What it all boiled down to for the crimson-haired woman, though, didn’t matter. Ifrit was the Fallen, and the Fallen had issued a command. The two women could banter back and forth all afternoon and get nowhere. Eris had made that point already: “you may be better to ask him some of these things yourself”. With a regretful shake of her head and a low, snarling sigh, Mariah buried those negative emotions deep to once more compose herself back into that hollow mask. Practice.
“There were a few jobs I managed to pick up from time to time when I needed a few credits, that typically required infiltration,” she began to explain, somewhat out of the blue. “Although my usual skills would have been put to better use, many employers preferred other methods for me. Something how a pretty face can trump torture.”
Mariah couldn’t hide the roll of her eyes at that statement. A momentary break in character before she offered another gentle, amused smile towards Eris’ direction.
“I’m not fully incapable of what Ifrit asks of me. If I must prove that to you and him, then so be it. I simply thought he wanted Mariah Shadows as his Empress, something I will clarify with him at a later date.”
She took another sip of her whiskey and sighed, this time masking the growl from her hidden wrath. Her grasp was still tight around the glass, something she hadn’t realized. It was a struggle to keep her composure, the sole evidence found there. However, with another deep inhale, she loosened the tension from her hands.
“For now, though, you may begin your lessons with me,” she continued, those twin crimson orbs flickering back up to find Eris again. “I’m sure we both have other things we wish to do this evening.”
‘We should get this over with’ was what she wanted to say. However, Eris was now her teacher, and she would need to appease her if anything. At the very least, she needed to reveal that this wasn’t going to be a fruitless mission.
Eris remained unphased as Mariah's gaze intensified upon her despite the sweet veneer of her expression. It was not born of a lack of fear by any means. It was born of the knowledge that there was nothing Eris could do, should Mariah set her mind to the task of killing her. She had observed the Fallen Empress at work. She was terrifying and ruthless. And her skills far outclassed Eris' on a scale of multitudes. So she sat and drank from her glass, shrugging as Mariah suggested that Ifrit would quickly meet his downfall if he let his heart get the better of him Perhaps... But it is a lesson he will have to learn. Though... I'm hard pressed to say that it has lead him astray much yet. He managed to convince most probably the deadliest woman alive in the galaxy to run the Dark Jedi Order with him... She took another sip of her drink as Mariah composed herself again. A genuine story about the Empresses past surfacing for a moment. One that came as no surprise to her. Nor did the fact that Mariah seemed to disregard the knowledge with such contempt. She smirked over the lip of her glass Men's lips loosen, when a lady spreads her legs... She shook her head then, as the alcohol served to help ease the mood. Even if it was all quite possibly nothing more than a simple facade. Eris set her glass down then, as Mariah suggested they both had better things to do with their evenings. A sentiment should could not agree with. Not that she did not mind spending some time with a woman she admired. She just wished it had not been under this circumstances I have no doubt you are quite capable of this... In fact I would be more surprised to learn that you were incapable of this task in its entirety... I will merely serve as a bit of a refresher for your skills then... Eris straightened in her chair then, taking a moment to stretch and prepare herself mentally and physically for what was about to come. Despite the slightly official request for this, Eris preferred a more informal style of teaching. Something apparent as she picked her glass up again It's all a matter of getting to know who ever it is you meet... Without impaling them upon a blade or insulting them. Your blade is a deadly weapon, just as is a smile in the right moments. A simple glance, a shift in posture... It can make someone want to avoid you or get closer to you... The Force is a wonderful tool in these moments, especially against those untrained or incapable of its use. A fact I am sure you all too well understand...
Post by Mariah Shadows on Oct 1, 2019 17:47:29 GMT -8
Through Eris’ musings, Mariah had taken a seat near the woman for conversation’s sake but far enough away where any break in this facade had a better chance to go unnoticed. On the surface, however, it looked like a natural decision, and the crimson eyes of the woman never strayed from her company as she did so. Deadliest woman in the galaxy. Mariah forced an amused smile to her lips as she laughed low and quiet, before bringing the glass to her lips and taking another sip.
Bringing the glass comfortably down, her elbows now resting within her lap, Mariah leaned forward as she addressed Eris’ comment with a murmur.
“He didn’t manage anything. He simply had fate and the Force's will on his side.”
Mariah then leaned back, crossing her legs at the ankle, and tilted her head quizzically at Eris as that smile became haunted with a dark glimmer within her crimson eyes.
“Although that little title is something I will gladly adorn, it seems that Ifrit doesn't share that sentiment. He will either learn from that mistake or fall. My point still stands.”
However, with Eris’ smirked comment, the mask cracked further. Mariah’s false smile all too easily faded to a scowl as she stared down into her glass. Again, her fingers tensed around the glass, and in an instant, all those years seemed to play as if reflected across the liquid’s surface.
“To this day, I still believe that a knife to the throat is far more effective, but to each their own.”
Her words remained a mutter as she brought the glass to her lips again, sipping at the whiskey one last time, before she set it down on the table. Subtle manipulation through carefully executed words and gestures strung along more powerfully with the force. Long story short? Mind tricks. That was what Mariah could effectively sum up Eris’ training to mean. It amounted to playing as the prey, only to later reveal that she was indeed the predator. Although she had done it before, she had already vocalized her thoughts on the matter. While these subtleties could act like a sharpened knife hurled at her victim through the Force, it quite honestly never compared to actually doing just that.
With a thoughtful yet defeated hum, Mariah showed her unspoken disagreement. A raise of her eyebrows and a disapproving frown tugging at her lips further revealed her disapproval to such methods. But she was an Empress. In a way, a political figure, even if only within this inchoate faction. As much as she abhorred it, she needed to learn to role, to act the part. That was what she signed up for when she said ‘yes’, after all. A fact that was slowly sinking in deeper the further the two women talked.
“A fact I do understand,” she agreed, summoning that gentle smile to smooth over her otherwise cracked facade. “Before we waste any time with refreshers or training, shall we see if I still have what it takes? A little… placement test, if you will. Perhaps a redo with another new member.”
With a gesture of her right hand, Mariah pushed back her shoulders and lifted her chin, sitting taller and slightly more refined than moments before. However, there was that familiar gleam in her eyes, as if the woman was about to unlock a gate to Chaos and send the galaxy into turmoil without so much as a word. 'New member' may as well meant 'new victim'.
“From there, we can move forward with more confidence, rather than stumbling around in the dark and teaching me repetitive nonsense, hmm?”
Eris took another drink from her glass as Mariah rested her own drink within her lap, seeming to state that Ifrit had Fate and the Force's will on his side. To her knowledge, Ifrit did not much believe in fate nor the will of the Force. So it's certainly not something she would broach with her master later on. This time though, it was Eris' turn to laugh when Mariah implied that Ifrit did not seem to share the sentiment that she was the deadliest woman alive Oh... I think you underestimate what Ifrit truly understands... Why do you think he always keeps his shield up around you? Eris finished her own drink as Mariah continued speaking, her feelings on the matter rather apparent. She set her glass aside and returned her attention to the Empress, as the woman spoke of conducting a little test with one of the new members of the DJO. Something that sounded like a rather good idea at this point. Although, truth be told, Eris suspected that after this test that she would have all she would need to know. Mariah was the kind of woman that once she put her mind to a task, she could achieve it with ease. All that Eris was here to do, was to help annoy her along enough into wanting to put that focus into the task at hand.
She gave a nod then, stretching out her skeletal wing like appendages before rising up from her seat, making note of the gleam she saw within the Empresses eyes. One that would usually not be cause for much concern since it spelled certain doom for any opponent Mariah faced. But in this instance, Eris could not help bu feel sorry for whoever they were meeting By all means, A little refresh and test would be a good first step. I'll follow your lead and observe from the shadows...
Post by Mariah Shadows on Apr 14, 2020 10:27:22 GMT -8
Guiding the two through the quieter sections of the Temple, Mariah managed to get the two at the door to her chambers without too many eyes upon them. As the doorway came into sight, Mariah brushed past Gavin Phoenix with hastened footsteps, and silently input the credentials to command the doors to whoosh open. As soon as they were both cleared inside, Mariah narrowed her eyes as she swept her gaze over the hallway one final time before the doors resolved with a hiss.
Gavin would have only been able to make it a few steps inside before she took off with the same blinding speed revealed during their duel. After soaking in the crystal’s sheer energy, however, Gavin may have been able to see her every movement. No doubt, the trek back felt like a lifetime for him rather than mere minutes. Under that assumption, the crimson-haired warrior rushed into the loft. After a short moment of rummaging, evident by faint clunks and bangs, she returned down the stairs with a rather bland box cradled in her arms.
“Here,” she ushered, setting the chest down onto the table.
As Mariah opened it, however, that unadorned and unimpressive looking case was lined with silken fabrics, laced in magicks. The fabric an underlying black, the magicks created a dance of dark colors, shimmering with an iridescent light of blue, indigo, and purple. What more, the chest was far from empty. Within, there were other smaller stones, wrapped in various metal wires and chains, as well as a Holocron shaped like a star tetrahedron, plated in gold and etched with unfamiliar runes upon each point.
Mariah attempted to dismiss all that he might have seen as she issued a hasty command, “Hurry,” her crimson eyes looking up at his radiant golden irises, evident even within the shadows of his hood.
Post by Gavin Phoenix on Apr 14, 2020 11:28:25 GMT -8
It was something Gavin fully understood, the risk of resting. In the time she spoke to keep moving, he was already beginning to do so. The longer they took, the more his focus worked on holding the power in check. Yet, he didn't miss the faint tones that escaped her lips. He smirked faintly under his hood at the thought she even remotely cared. It was an amusing thought but felt the concern she cared was more for the sake of the stone and her own life rather than his. Whether or not it was the truth was a reality he'd never know as she'd never admit to it.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity under the artifact's strain, they reached her chamber. His eyes glanced over slightly as she pushed ahead, working to get the room open as quickly as possible so as to not waste a single second. The moment they were inside, she darted off with the aid of the Force, his eyes watching as she went. Did he really just catch her movements? At first, he thought she was running normally, yet he felt the Force rippling off of her at that moment, suggesting otherwise. But that next action due to its enhancement of the stone caused it to push back again against him. He growled a bit as he let himself drop to a knee. His eyes closed and his breaths became heavy as he put all his focus into keeping that power in check for just a few minutes more.
It was her voice that caused him to open his eyes. He looked to the box, to her, then back to the box as she opened it. He took in its appearance, and while he may have had questions, they were of little concern. Taking another heavy breath, he looked down at his cloak as his hand unzipped the front and took hold of the crystal within one of the pockets. The power began to surge then, one for the cloak being open and secondly for the fact he was trying to give it away. Another growl escaped his lips. ~I don't think so.~ Though not as quickly as the first time he replaced it, he placed the stone within the box and fell back into the floor, his eyes closing once more and he worked to center himself and regain full control of his being. Even now he suspected the artifact's influence would remain with him for a short time.
"There is no road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow, for that path is for your steps alone...."
Post by Mariah Shadows on Apr 14, 2020 13:40:48 GMT -8
It was a beat longer than Mariah had desired, wreaking havoc through her muscles as they tensed with Gavin’s delay. After all this work and effort, was he going to succumb to it now? There was an evident surge of light that the woman could feel as he wrestled for that final conscious decision, to release the crystal and let it fall to be with the rest of known Shadows' history. At last, he did, and with haste, Mariah shut the chest. The lingering light faded, like final sun rays unlatching from the horizon and forcibly submerged by mother night. Although there was no doubt a wave of Lightside energy that emanated from her room, the impact would be minor enough for Mariah to sweep under the rug should she be scrutinized.
Relief. The split second after the chest had been shut, Mariah was overwhelmed with it, more than she ever had in all her years. It was far greater than the many times she outwitted suspicion or outran death. No, this wasn’t just her life on the line, but the life of the galaxy and the history of her People. It was verbalized with a deep sigh as her muscles finally relaxed. As she inhaled deeply, she glanced back up at Gavin with a newfound fire in her eyes, though. He had been overzealously careless, which was the cause of his unnecessary struggles both past and present. However, there was a fact that she couldn’t dispute, not even in her mind. Despite his mistake, he fought to right it and kept control after all that had occurred. It was a feat that she believed impossible. Once the crystal had found its power, none should have been able to free themselves -- none but him.
With a huff of exasperation, more towards herself than at him, Mariah took that single step to close the gap between the two and pushed her palm against his chest. With how much Lightside energy that poured into him over the past few minutes, its lingering effects would probably remain for several minutes, if not hours. As much as Mariah abhorred the idea of being a babysitter, she couldn’t let him freely roam the Temple while such was still the case. His state was by her hands, after all, evident even more so as she expected him to topple over so easily with the gentle force she applied to his chest. If he managed to remain on his feet rather than crumble onto the sofa behind him, it would come as a surprise to her.
Mariah spoke quietly, but it was a command all the same. She wasn’t sure if he would even hear her voice under the leftover strain he was enduring. Nonetheless, she rummaged through a pocket, brandishing an iridescent stone wrapped elegantly in gold. Kneeling before the chest, she pressed the stone into the keyhole and seemingly locked the chest tight, and not just with some primitive lock and key function. The pendant swirled with an ominous black substance, one that was shared by the simple metal along the chest’s front. Like dust in the wind, however, it swirled and faded in the blink of an eye.
“You were reckless,” she reprimanded, standing back to her feet.
Without bothering to wait for a response from him, if one would even come, Mariah stormed her way into the kitchen area, seeking out her private stock of liquor. She was still earshot from the sitting room, although she doubted that Gavin would be able to fully comprehend or form sentences. After such high and lengthy exposure to the artifact, she wouldn’t be surprised if he was rendered utterly useless for the time being, caught in a web of lingering visions. They would fade eventually if he hadn’t chased them off already. Still, she called out to him again with snarled scolding resounding over the sound of clinking glasses.
“I can’t even begin to imagine what on Endor’s green moon you were thinking, pulling a stunt like that. Were you really so cocky that you thought you could handle using its power without being overcome by it? We’re both lucky I didn’t have to kill you in the tunnels after such an absolutely asinine move.”
Post by Gavin Phoenix on Apr 14, 2020 14:15:11 GMT -8
As Mariah worked to close the chest, Gavin took another few breaths as he forced himself to his feet. It didn't come without effort, though he forced back any grunts, his mind returning slowly to its typical stubborn self. It even further revealed itself when the woman closed the distance between them and pushed against his chest. His right foot slipped behind him, allowing him a little bit of tension against her gentle push. Despite what had happened and what he had bore, he wasn't going to let himself fall to such weakness.
Yet, with her single word, his defenses slowly gave. His eyes, a mixture now of gold and ice blue looked down at her before huffing out a sigh and letting himself take a seat on the couch. It was then, as he intentionally let his body relax did he truly feel the strain it had put upon him. Such was the price of enduring power. Growing with strength allowed one to adapt and grow with it. But too much at one time could spell disaster. It made him wonder if all simply was overwhelmed with it slowly destroying the body or if he was only capable of it due to his experience with such realities. Leaning his head back, he remembered the one occasion he took on more power than his body could handle. He was far younger then, barely over thirty and taking it in order to fight a stronger being. His body gave out upon its conclusion. It had killed him, but he was able to be saved, though it took so much work. Could it have been a tolerance to it? Maybe being older and stronger now? So many questions that he wasn't concerned about answering.
Looking back up to her, he watched from his place as she closed the chest, curiosity returning to him, though the extra effort from such a mental exertion made his head spin a bit. It was an interesting means of locking it, but he guessed that between the stone and the other items within, it held great secrets that needed to be kept safe.
Then came the scolding he expected. He remained silent as his mind worked to form the words. Before he could speak she left him for the kitchen and continued her reprimanded. It was a solid couple of minutes before his mind and mouth functioned on the same level. "I never intended to use its power in the caves. It intermingled itself within mine just before I made my attack. I think...it was able to slip in line, an aligning of thoughts. The stone let me feel the presence of the Hssiss. I didn't want them making their way into the temple and causing havoc. They would have followed us and despite knowing they were there, I wasn't sure how close they were. It was quicker for me to act and reveal them then tell you. For that moment, we synchronized and instead of using my power, I ended up using the crystal's. From there, it gained its power over me until I was able to regain control." He looked to his hand and began to squeeze it a bit, other thoughts coming to his mind. But they were pushed away when he registered her final statement. "Why didn't you?"
"There is no road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow, for that path is for your steps alone...."
Post by Mariah Shadows on Apr 16, 2020 15:27:36 GMT -8
Mariah was sure that the moment Gavin's back hit the comfort of the sofa, he would have to fight as hard as he did against the stone to stay fully conscious. At first, it should've only been a spinning sensation as though he could feel the turn of the very planet on its axis. Gavin would see shadows where there were none, and light would dance with every color known to mortals and then some. He would hear his every breath and be aware of his every heartbeat, pounding in his chest and pulsing in his ears. It was easy to get lost in, but soon, it would subside, leaving every aching muscle in his body weak and tired as though he carried something ten times his weight instead of such a small crystal object. It was astounding that he could still talk.
"Yes, and you still should have made me aware of them, or hell, you could have led the damned things back into the Temple. That's why we have a guard, Phoenix -- to deal with these sorts of things. You put my whole Force-damned mission and one of my People's most precious artifacts at risk by trying to play the hero. You might be two hundred years old, but you aren't invincible."
It took everything in the crimson-haired warrior's being to keep quiet after that, to keep from scolding him further. Instead, she focused on the task at hand, pulling out two glasses and pouring her favored Correllian rum into each. It was both a day of celebration and one of the most intense days she could have imagined. Both were reason enough for her to drink from this particular bottle, but she had to convince herself that the second glass wasn't for her.
His question rang, though, and it took everything in Mariah's power not to shatter his glass. Instead, she downed the liquid in her glass and poured herself another before making her return. With a locked jaw, she at least kept herself appearing like the epitome of controlled confidence while she stormed back into the sitting area. Brushing past him, she set his glass on the table in front of him before taking her seat in an adjacent chair.
Taking a sip first and lowering the glass back down beside her before responding, Mariah criticized quietly yet as harshly as ever, "What kind of a foolish question is that? If I killed you back there, then my hope of getting that thing here was dead in the water. I had to put some misplaced faith in you that you'd make up for your idiocy and snap out of it."
Mariah huffed a defeated yet aggravated sigh as she sharply turned her gaze away from him to stare off blankly. She dared not admit how risky that misplaced faith was. The mere fact that he was able to transport that artifact here was a miracle. The fact that he could fight back control after succumbing to the crystal's power was an impossibility. She very well should have killed him in that instance, just as he very well shouldn't have regained himself.
With a shake of her head to snap out of those thoughts, Mariah commanded fiercely, jerking a chin to indicate the glass she set before him, "Drink," before bringing her glass back to her lips.
Post by Gavin Phoenix on Apr 16, 2020 15:52:48 GMT -8
His head was spinning since sitting down, his mind and body working to collect itself as it began to feel the strain from carrying the artifact. Still, it was Mariah's scolding that he focused on, using it as the anchor to keep him from losing consciousness. He would recover with time, but he wasn't about to let himself drop here in her chambers. A few minutes or so would be all he needed to regain enough strength to carry on as he typically did. At least, that was what he believed based upon his own will and stubbornness.
Lifting his head, he looked towards the kitchen where she was. He could have simply submitted to her words and let things be. After all, she wasn't fully wrong. But at the same time, he couldn't just things go. It was his nature, a reality she had witnessed upon their first meeting. "And just how many lives could we have lost in that? I don't have to tell you the dangers a Hssiss possesses. How far could have they gotten into the temple before someone was truly able to sense them? How many men could they have brought down in their cloaked states before a true bearing could have been placed upon them to bring them down? After all, you carry yourself in such a way, don't you? Even lacking the same sentience, you know the damage they could have wrought upon this place." He grunted a bit as he pushed himself up to lean forward. "Our numbers are still few. We can't afford to lose people to such petty realities such as this. Besides, this is where I consider home and I'll work to defend it, even against something simple as that."
He then watched as she reappeared soon after carrying the drinks. He could only sit there and gaze upon the glass that she set in front of him, his mind thinking on her answer. True enough, he had seemingly been the one who was able to help her. So in a way, her words were true. Keep him alive and hope he held himself together long enough to make it back. But there was something else, something that broke that reality a bit. "I guess that makes sense...except for one small detail. I know it was painful, but you were able to endure the artifact's power when you dragged me through the temple thanks to my cloak. You could have easily killed me, and kept the cloak wrapped tightly to contain it. Surely being outside of the cloak would have enabled you to handle it yourself?"
He let his words hang there before reaching out and taking the glass. He looked it over a bit more, gazing at the liquid for a few seconds more before drinking it. He had said that he'd erase his memories of the encounter if she wished it. It could have been just as possible that she sought to end him quietly and without a witness now that the crystals had been safely delivered. He could only scoff at the idea as the liquid moved through his throat, his mind waiting for what came next, be it Mariah's next words or a sudden death that he mostly doubted to happen.
"There is no road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow, for that path is for your steps alone...."