Log:Jedi Order: Plumbing the Depths
The Dead World, Kohlma, looms large below them as the Falcon comes stretching out of hyperspace above the grey planet's surface and wings down towards the ruins of an ominous stone citadel. Carefully perched on a ledge of rock that lies in the citadel's shadow, the Falcon drops its landing ramp and down strides Ben Solo, looking up at the structure in the near distance and the crumbling stairs that lead up into its lower levels.
"This is Kohlma. You may have heard about it from one source or another," he allows, pulling on a glove while he walks. "You may have also heard that it's empty, abandoned. That part is... not strictly true." His boots step with some care on the first few stairs, testing their integrity as he does every time he has visited this place before moving more quickly up the rest. "You'll see what I mean once we get inside. This was one of the places my- the Knights of Ren used to gather, but we weren't the first to use it."
"If this world was intended for dark purposes, Mr. Ben, then why have we come?" Aryn asks, following down the ramp and into the misty/foggy expanse. The air here was thin, as if its design were to impose a person to only take timid breaths. If ominous were a place, it would be this world. Aryn draws her hood up, a measure of control to keep her own personal emotions and idle nervous tendencies in check. She pauses for the others, brushing her cape back a bit.
Stepping down the boarding ramp of the falcon, pulling his dark geen hood down, Elrych's blue eyes wander over the citidel and other ruins of this moon. "Huh... I guess 'that source' was right. At least to a point. No Guards. Aparently there was no need. I imagine we'll discover why for." He didn't seem afraid, more curious than anything. His eyes kept wandering, curious for sure, but vigilant and aware of his surroundings. There is a glance to Aryn, "That's a good question. Though, the more we know our... opponants... the better off we are when he face them."
Ban Iskender follows down the freighter's ramp, turning a wary green eye over the details of the citadel that looms out of the dark above them. "A desolate place, in truth," he observes, going quiet when Aryn gives voice to the inquiry after their shared purpose.
Yuun follows behind the others as he walks down the landing ramp of the Falcon. He takes a few controlled breaths and he takes a look around their surroundings as they come to a stop. He listens to Ben as he speaks, then the others. Yuun is quiet for the time being, just taking in what's being said.
Rey had been researching some of the planet of Bogden before coming on this expedition. Threepio had told her about that civil war that destroyed the planet that this moon orbits, and that the moon itself...
"The whole place is a graveyard." Rey softly says after disembarking the ship with the others. Her hood remains up, a poncho is worn over her clothing that matches the hue and shade of the rest of her clothing's material.
"A long lasting war tore Bogden apart. This moon was used as a place to bury the dead... until the war came here too. Now it's all..." She glances around and draws a breath of the foul tasting air. "A massive ruin."
She looks now to the citadel up ahead. "Foul place." She mutters, quietly. "There's yet still life here though, struggling to survive. I can feel it."
"We're here because they might have left something behind that we can use," Ben replies, reaching the top of the stairs and stepping inside through the low entry carved in the rock.
The underlevels are dark, decrepit, decaying. The smell of the air is wet, rotten. "Besides, I thought a scholar like you would want to know everything there is to learn about your adversaries. Don't you want to know what you're up against?" It's hard to see at first, with the only light being that which seeps in through the occasional window or eerie sconces set deep into the walls that harbor a sinister blue glow in their recesses.
"Rey is right. This place is a graveyard, in more ways than one. Be on your guard." The passages through the sublevels of the citadel wind and twist, lined with meager rooms filled with the instruments of torture, arcane ceremony, and tools so unusual or so plain it's hard to guess what exact purpose they may have been intended to serve. Grated doors to each of these chambers allow full view of the contents as they walk past, following Ben's route through the meandering halls.
"You confuse a scholar for a tactician, Mr. Ben. We are not the same. A scholar learns so that they may teach others." Aryn replies in a matter-of-fact /obviously/ a noble tone of voice. Less thought is given to her surroundings as she focuses more on the effort to keep up, and the endeavor to speak smartly. "I'm no soldier or warrior. I'm a healer. I fix broken things. Should this place lend me insight on how to fix our adversaries, then count me among those most interested to exhume its secrets. If we've come only to mine weapons, then how are we any better than the ones who oppose us? Darkness against darkness begets darkness."
Aryn grew silent when they stepped inside, and the innate urge to speak in a hushed tone only accentuated the natural reverence she held for such a dark and intimidating place. There was art here, there was once a culture. Now it loomed with shadows, echoes of a past forgotten in the fogs. Aryn's hands came together and began to fidget.
"Okay... seriously. What is it with people in this Galaxy and botomless chasms without railings?" Elrych mentions as they continue into the the interior of the Citidel/lair of Darkness. "Like in the thousands of years people have been building monolithic grandious bases... no-one suggested to put a railing in?" He unclips his saber from his belt as Ben mention they be prepared, but the smell and sheer feeling in the force was more than enough to back up the former Supreme Leader's claim. He doesn't ignight it yet, not currently having a need.
"I gather that a statement of objectives in advance of arrival is not a Jedi habit," Ban notes, dry in tone as they enter the decrepit fortress. A short sniff of tight humor greets Elrych's quip about pits and railings, and the young soldier takes heed enough of caution to follow suit and take the hilt of his weapon in hand. "A flair for the drammatic, master Cometburn," he notes to the Corellian. "The aesthetics of drama comform to no safety codes, alas."
Yuun moves off to the side as he listens to the others, is it what he is supposed to move to, tactics? He didn't know, he knew of his path lies in the area of fighting, but Ben's words do resonate with him. They do need to learn of their enemies but not become them. He continues looking around, "How long has it been since the Knights of Ren used this place and would there be any data left for us to use?" he asks.
As the others walk, Rey follows, her eyes scanning around the location and her other senses equally searching for anything. This whole place is practically something to tantalize the eyes, repulse the nose, and otherwise.
"Droids." Rey replies to Elrych, standing behind his right shoulder. "We live in a galaxy that is ever evolving toward a place where sentient life isn't the dominance form of it. Replicated life is, droid life. Droids don't need hand railings." She makes eye contact with him and shows a grin then before she shakes her head and raises her eyebrows, looking away again. "That's my guess anyway."
Once they're inside, she sees the instruments of torture and the poor state of the building all around them. She has opinions similar to Elrych's about all of this, but she's electing to keep them to herself.
"On the contrary, Ban." Rey does softly speak again though. "But sometimes a Jedi does need to improvise in the moment, think fast, act fast, react under pressure." She glances up ahead to where Ben is, to get a glimpse of where they're being lead.
Ben pauses at the bottom of the stairwell, glancing back at the Jedi following him. "Mystery and hypocrisy are two of the Jedi's oldest traditions," he answers the New Alderaanian nobles. "It's good to see that together we can keep both of them alive and well." Then he's heading up the stairwell.
It twists and turns in a long spiral up through the heart of the citadel, the sloping stone stairs worn in the middle from the passage of many feet. Here and there some have collapsed entirely, making the path upward treacherous and painstaking in places, and when an exit presents itself, Ben takes it, leaving the stairs behind though they continue up past the landing.
The next room is truly impressive, a sprawling grand hall on the main level of the citadel, with forbidding statues of hooded figures stood in a silent procession along both sides of the hall. Their outstretched hands hold living flames of an ethereal blue shade, casting the whole chamber in unnatural light and shifting shadows that dance with the strange fire.
The presence in the room with them is sensed before it is seen, and a raspy voice like two dry stones scraping over each other grates out a greeting. "Welcome, Jedi. It has been long years since your kind dared to step foot within these sacred walls. And you. No longer do I sense the darkness in your heart. A pity." Footsteps echo in the roomy space as the figure shambles out of the shadows surrounding the bases of the statues into the middle of the hall: a dark, withered husk in the shape of a humanoid, a horned skull worn over the head and face obscuring everything but a pair of faintly glowing blue eyes that stare towards the intruders.
"Practiced are you in the art of politics; the old attack the person and not the topic. Admirable." Aryn notes dryly, leaving Ben to take the lead while she held her ground to allow room for the others to pass. Distance between her and the former Master of the Knights of Ren may have been for the best.
This moment of pause was used to draw in the sickening air and let it release slowly. An internal debate expanded her silence as she took a place next to the other Alderaanian. When they came to the grand and sprawling hall, her attention turned to the statues until they were greeted by something. She watches for now, having nothing more to add.
"Well then..." Elrych says in responce to Ben, clearing his throat. He might not be able to disagree or agree on that specific note. As they enter into the more impressive area of the Citadel, a single brow raises. The corellian takes in the massive statues and their eternal blue flame. Though, blue eyes soon rest on he masked figure who approaches and speaks to the group. "Huh... nice mask."
"As you say, mistress Rey," Ban voices to the frequent need to improvise quickly. He draws a breath to speak further but turns his eye from Rey to Ben at the latter's offered barb, offering on the heels of Aryn's answer, "As I am new to this Order, I will acknowledge your superior command of both qualities, sir." Shadows, statues, fire, and ominous speech follow. Green eyes narrow in stern study of the aed figure who addresses them, so.
Yuun noticed a few things and he goes silent again moving off the side from the others. He looks at the others as they speak, he had a few things he wanted ot say but for now it's not worth it to him. Yuun sees the statues as they walk into the Foyer and he takes in his surroundings, watching everything until a voice echoes in the room. Yuun turns to sees the shadow, another controlled breath escapes him as he watches the shadow for the time being apart from the others.
Rey is able to hear most of the conversation as they ascend up into the mid levels of the citadel. Once they're in that main chamber though she steps around the perimeter of the group and she glances to Ben and Aryn before back to the others. "Lets try on each other's sides." She says softly to them all. "We're all here for the same reasons, ultimately. We're here for each other too."
She can't say a whole lot more on that subject, as her eyes are turning to look at the statues-- but the voice pulls her attention...
Rey's eyes focus on the skull that Elrych just complimented. She furrows her brow and glances over to Ben before back to the figure addressing them. "We're exploring." Rey says to the shadowy figure. "We're not here for trouble." Keep things, simple, not overly complicated, yes?
"My opinions on politics-" Ben begins to answer in that same low monotone before he's cut off by the presence of that other thing, the masked figure with the glowing eyes. "Oh, it's you. I thought by now you might have withered the rest of the way into dust. A pity."
"We tolerated your presence because you were strong, because you had power, because you were like /her,/" the horned husk rasps, leaning on a bone-tipped staff for support. "But now you have become weak, and brought with you those she hated. It cannot be forgiven. You will find nothing here but death, for death is all that remains in this place."
The disturbance in the Force is palpable, as if a hundred voices that had been silent cried out at once. Spreading out from the citadel, the grounds where before nothing could be sensed but an uncanny, cold void, are suddenly filled with an equally uncanny sensation of half-life. A distant, grating wail breaks the cemetery silence that blankets Kohlma, while the baleful blue glow in the skull's eyes grow brighter. "Oh lost fools, following a blind child, against a power you know not. To join the dead here would be a mercy!"
"One lesson has come from this trip." Aryn decrees, brushing her hood back and turning toward the way they came. "We are fools for wandering into this darkness." Her arm is used to brush back her cape with a single motion, presenting the elegant lightsaber hilt fastened at her belt. This item is grasped and pulled free with an audible click, and she holds it to her side. A look to Ban, then to Rey for guidance.
"Eh... it could be worse..." Elrych mentions, his own lightsaber held at the ready already but not yet ignited still. Could it be worse? That remained to be seen. "Ben... who exactly is /her/." That migh be a good question and probably a sore subject, but if there was ever a time to prod the stoic dark haired main it was now when the screams of death and evil permiated their senses.
Ban Iskender voices evenly toward the omminous dessicated figure that speaks of death. Aside to Aryn, he notes, "I cannot dispute her admonition as to our reconnaisance." Though he draws a pistol in one hand, holding a paltry stunsaber in the other, the young noble offers to the Bando Gora, "If you hold only past hate and death, madam, then so be it. But I pray you: if you would have anything of us that adds no more death to this place, ask it now. For the dead have no need of more company."
Yuun lets out another breath, he could feel the darkness as it ripples throughout the area. When the horned woman speaks, Yuun listens and he glances around at the others, "You say weak and fools, but yet you are still here and not moved on." he says. His hand moves to his lightsaber and he pluks it from his belt, checking and making sure he has room to move, Yuun is about to ask Ben a question but Elrych beats him to it, he than looks towards the woman waiting. "We do not wish to fight you." he says not in a fighting stance, Yuun is still standing in a relaxed position.
"You are not worthy to SPEAK HER NAME!" the skull-masked figure abruptly thunders, the rasping voice unnaturally amplified by some trick of the masonry, a querulous, withered finger pointing accusingly at Ben as if to hedge off the answering of Elrych's question.
"She's dead." It's a flat announcement that technically adheres to the elder's demand, Ben flexing his political savvy. His gloved fingers pull a silver cylinder from his belt as well as the 'stirring' sensation Rey mentioned intensifies.
Another howling wail pierces the air as the massive double doors creak inward on rusted hinges, and a pair of dimly glowing red eyes appear in the dark void between them.
Then suddenly both are shoved wide and a clutch of stooping, curiously-animated humanoids charges in. They all share the same form, a humanoid figure with sunken, glowing red eyes, shrunken skin wrinkled and deformed by the passage of time and the eldritch power that keeps their bodies alive and functioning long after their natural course. They flow around the horned one, rushing at the Jedi instead.
"The dead have no need of more company but you will join them all the same. Death cares not what you /wish/. Only that you die."
"Then the dead shall go on waiting. I've no intention of remaining here." Aryn says, stepping forward with the snap-hiss activation of her lightsaber. The sapphire blade appears, extending to its full 1.2m length and humming with each subtle movement. She drags the weapon up in a salute, as was custom, and lowered it before closing the distance toward those that rushed them.
Her first strike is a piercing stab, sliding her blue blade in through the torso until its edge appeared on the otherside, resulting in whatever passed for these shade's clothing to ash where it was affected. Aryn withdraws her weapon, spinning it slightly back to her side and assuming a defensive stance.
As the husks under the power of the demented blue flame arise and charge force, any type of smile or 'chill' attitude Elrych had was gone. "Ah, kriff..." He breaths, his Lightsber screaching forth and humming to life. He swings a wide arc against the one that charges him, stagging back. Another slash, downward, is avoided by the undead creature sparking and scorching the ground. His hird strike hits true, a bit more level, after stopping his retreat and facing into the momentum of the abominations charge. Then, and only then, does he let the force flood into him.
Ban Iskender levels an ornate pistol on one of the charging dessicated husks, firing with the sort of form you'd see more on the dueling field than in a battle. Two blue blasts take the husk in the torso, before Ban exhales tersely and switches the weapon to 'kill', even while the white saber extends to life in his off hand.
He sighs a little as words don't seem to work. He rubs his face a little bit and when he sees the others moving to attack one of the nearest cultist, the blue flames does send a chill through him and he wants to stop this and now seeing this as the bad guys attacking them. Yuun moves fast, his mind blank, and he's calm as he moves, his lightsaber snap-hisses alive, he brings his blade across the mid-section of the cultist.
When the negotiations seem to turn toward an aggressive nature, Rey's right hand comes up and she holds it out toward their enemies that are rushing them, but as the lightsabers beside her come on she knows that they've gained too much ground too quickly and she'd put her friends at risk if she thrusts a wave of the Force to cast the foul cultists backward.
So instead, with brow furrowed, Rey's hand snaps over to the side as she hears blaster shots behind her shoulder. She grasps on to one of the looming and foreboding statues and she PULLS IT DOWN!
The statue, shedding rock and debris, starts to crumble at its base and tumble toward the ground. Rey drags it across the floor of the citadel to try to cut off more of the cultists, to slow them, if possible.
"Make retreat to the stairwell!" She says to the others, hoping to escape this. Coming here was a bad idea.
So far, it seems like every place they've gone with Ben has been a bad idea. Has he really turned back from the Dark Side? Is this all one giant trick?
The husk Ban stunned is unlucky, and in its dazed state, doesn't quite move out of the way quickly enough to avoid the falling statue Rey drags down from one side of the hall. Between the damage already done and the crushing weight of a few tons of rock, it's smushed like a raisin. The others are already past the statue, however, lunging at the Jedi with tooth, nail, and fist, while a few of the bigger ones are wielding what appear to be weapons made from potentially human bones. It's hard to tell when they're being swung at your head.
"I came here to find something and I'm not leaving without anything," Ben refuses obstinately, and the silver handle in his hand ignites, the blade that springs forth appearing as a literal beam of fire, the unstable plasma rippling with shades of blue and orange around the white core. He spends a beat looking down at the weapon in his hand rather than leaping into combat, caught in a moment of reverie before his fingers tighten on the grip and he looks up again, eyes scanning the room to reorient himself.
The loud crash of the statue proved deafening and disorienting following its impact. Such a loud trauma to the ears made the ringing louder than anything that was happening around them. This sort of reaction often caused the sudden manifestation of tachypsychia, the phenomenon that occurred when one's perception of time began to slow to segments, and the vision narrowed to tunnel like acuity.
This is what happened with Aryn as she rocked violently off balance by the impact of the statue, and was set upon by one of the cultist. The two lock into combat, the doctor trying as she may to attack, but the cultist was an agile opponent. Two swings, and Aryn avoids an attack. Another swing ends with her over extending, and her arm is captured, and her legs kicked from beneath her.
She landed on her back, her offhand stretched out like her arm to help absorb the impact. She cried out, scrambling back then and rolling to her booted feet once more. She still could not hear for the ringing, yet her defense found some integrity to it when she took a duelists stance once more.
Elrych was used to listening to Rey right away, and maybe she had a point. He shuttered a bit as the statue fell and slided forth. However, the firery beam of Ben's blade catches his eyes. It's a moment of warmth, a hightening of moral, a surge of adrenaline. Or it was just the Force washing over him and powering his movements. Tightening his own grip on the blade, he takes a stance, chaning his form to a more agressive one. Holding the hilt up, and pointing the edge downward. With a shout a moves forward agressivly and cuts one of he cultests in twain before twirling around and slicing directly through the other one. He moves in after the third, a powerful chop with his blade, but the abomination is quicker.
Ban Iskender looks sharply aside as one of the charging cultists knocks Aryn from her feet. Recoiling from the blast of air and detritus that accompany the fallen statue, he holds the stunsaber in a defensive position in the left hand, while extending his right to aim at Aryn's tormentor. Elrych is faster, cutting down that for and another beside. "Well struck," he congratulates the Corellian briefly, before firing a blast that wounds another husk, though he cannot bring it down with the second. As his saber comes back up in defense, he hears the dispute between Rey's ordered retreat, and Ben's insistence.
Hearing the command to retreat, Yuun moves forward, "Alright." he says as he moves to cover the retreat. He sees the statue come falling down and as it thuds to the ground, Yuun uses the force to anchor himself to the ground, staying in place. He feels the reverberation move throughout the room. "Rey gave us orders, begin falling back now. I will cover our retreat!" he calls out to the others.
As he sees the cultist come towards them, Yuun moves faster then they do, the bright blue blade weaves through the air, Yuun doesn't take an agressive stance. He brings his blade around and slashes through one of the cultist, he moves to where there is a heavier concentration of them, "Hurry up!" he calls ignoring Ben. Yuun moves again interposing himself between the cultist and his friends slicing through another.
Rey watches the others and her eyes dart to Ben. "Ben, there's too many of them. This world is infested, I'm sure of it! We can't stay. Not like this! We need more help to explore this place!"
As she's trying to REASON with Ben, a Cultist sweeps past her and she draws her knife from her belt and slashes at the dark figured monstrosity across it's neck to try to stop it before it can get past her to the others!
Rey lunges off to the side then and looks to her companions. "Aryn!" She shouts out, trying to get to the Doctor to help her up, so they can all leave! This is WAY TOO DANGEROUS for Rey's liking.
"I know it is!" Ben snaps at Rey, frowning stubbornly as she keeps arguing to leave, the lightsaber alive in his hand and crackling with energy. The same energy seems to be crackling off of him, the man looking around for something to fight with and spotting the cultist that Rey shanked.
The blazing saber's blade passes through the injured husk with ease, leaving the thing a smoking shell on the floor. As each one is felled, they seem to wither away further, whatever energy holds them together past their expiration date banished by the final stroke of true death.
The plan to retreat springs a hole when first one and then another and finally a third figure steps out of the stairwell, blocking their path as they arrive from the upper levels. These appear more like the elder, with horned skulls hiding their faces and blue fire dancing in the sockets, but larger, more vital, and the bone staffs they carry are topped not with ornaments but wicked points.
Seeing these, Ben falters in his insistence. "...there's more in the graveyards. I don't know how many. They only stopped before because of- because of who I was then." Quick math runs through his head as he realizes that that factor is not in play anymore. "We need to leave."
Aryn's gloved hand wraps around Rey's forearm, and the young noble is pulled to her feet with a grunt. The hue of Aryn's lightsaber colors the pair of women briefly before Aryn looks up at Rey. "Thanks." She releases the scavenger's arm and wheels about Rey, complying with her earlier command (despite not hearing it) to retreat.
She heads in the direction of the double-doors, favoring a leg and not covering the ground she might have uninjured. With the manifesting of three new badguys, Aryn thrusted her hand forward commanding the power of the force to smash one of these priests against the very threshold it protected. The power she released had no sound to it, but the result was loud enough.
"Yuun, dude, Re-lax, We're coming." Elrych responds as he moves with Ben towards the Exit. "We're coming, we're coming!" He's almost running down, quickly down towards the stiars... He almost falls as he stops suddenly when the flamming eye'd skull figured appear. "We're not coming." A look to Ben, then to Rey. "Right... well." As Aryn plunges a hole, or attempts to, Elrych lashes out again with his Neon Azure blade, it humming and slicing dealy through one of the priests. He swings, as he moves forward, at another but all the blade catches in metal and stone, sparking and squeeling loudly in protest. "Ooops..."
Yuun takes a few steps back, but as the cultist starts to thin, he tries to move to assist against another cultist, but this one is very easily able to dodge his attack. "Focus." he says more to himself than to anyone else. His blade is still humming as it's held, having heard Elrych tell him to relax, "I am, just go." he says to him as he begins falling back himself and trying not to be to far behind.
Ban Iskender exhales slowly through the nose, nodding to Elrych without looking aside from the new menace with their burning eyes. As Aryn throws one back forcibly, Ban lunges forward, following up on the opening the doctor had created with a practiced swordsman's lunge and slash. He still handles the weapon more as a sword of steel than of light, but the effect is pronounced: even the training blade strikes with enough power and precision to drive the life from this dark foe.
Rey unclips her saber after helping Aryn up and she sweeps to the side toward one of the Priests blocking the staircase. Her saber is ignited and the yellow gold blade slashes at the living nightmare's head, it doges, the blade growls back as it sweeps across its chest only to duck back from that attack before Rey simply lunges forward and runs the dark priest through it's sternum!
"Time to go!" Rey shouts, drawing her saber back, flourishing it around and aiming it's pointed tip up toward the ceiling above before she spins around to stare at the Elder that brought all of this carnage on. She glares at them, before looking to Ben.
But with the stairway clearing (hopefully) Rey will wait for the others before staring down it herself.
The normal moral conflict a Jedi might feel when facing combat is eased here, at least, by the unnatural, clearly dark energy that fills this place, with some of the more bestial among their opponents seeming more creature than sentient. What foul history has cursed these halls to this fate?
With the path to the stairs cleared, and the fields of graves outside the citadel now swarming with howling husks all making their way towards the front door on the opposite side of the hall, the choice to leave now seems a simple one.
"Time to go," Ben agrees tersely, deactivating his saber with a hiss and clipping the weapon back onto his belt with a quick sliding motion. He doesn't spare a moment for a meaningful look back at the citadel's spokesman, hustling the others through onto the stairwell instead and hurrying down after them.
That raspy voice follows them, bouncing off the stone walls as the red-eyed horde begins to pour in from the barren plains. "Leave this place, never to return. Only the powerful are worthy. Only the strong. Only those steeped in the Dark Side can bring her servants to heel. You are weak. Death awaits you here. Now begone."