Estle City - Selen
The Citadel: Elsewhere…
“I really think we should go back,” the Troguta whispered loud enough so that the human beside him could hear.
“Where is your sense of adventure?” the Human replied, his hood tilting back to reveal the scarring on the side of his face.
Turel Sorren flashed a sly grin. Lexiconus grumbled something under his breath and pushed aside a set of branches, doing his best to step quietly like the Aedile seemed to be.
Ahead, a cloaked figure with the hood drawn up moved with purpose through the thick of woods. His steps were silent, as if walking on air.
The Battleteam Leader and Aedile kept their distance, but made sure not to loose track. They started to realize, however, that they didn’t have any idea where their pursuit had dragged them. They had never seen trees like this before…
The figure came to an opening and stopped, pulling back their hood. Marick Arconae dropped to one knee and stared at some sort of monument that neither could quite make out from their vantage. In fear of being discovered, they waited, and watched.
Even alone with his thoughts and away from the prying eyes of his subordinates, the Shadow Lord still maintained his stoic mask. A gentle breeze blew thin strands of raven hair across his face, but when they settled, the mask was gone. Without the mask, Marick’s features looked hollow and tired. His too-blue eyes stared numbly down at the ground in front of him, unfocused and far away.
The price of remembering.
The Consul stood in a small grotto nestled on the far side of the mountain that overlooked the Giletta Spaceport. The opening was ringed on all sides by the walls of the mountain yet easily stretched to the length of a boloball field. Despite its size, the grassy verges and small pools of crystalline water were interspersed with tall evergreen ferns and meadows of flowers. It was a place of beauty, somehow remaining ignorant to the turmoil and turnings of the galaxy at large.
The “Feluriglade” as its founder had named it, was a redoubt of sorts, unknown to most of the inhabitants of the Citadel. It was the home of the Cythraul, most notably, and a place for retreat. It was also a place of remembering, a place of rest for those who had passed. Marick rarely had time to visit, but there always seemed to be a reason for it to be avoided. Always an excuse.
The grave in front of Marick lacked any monumental flare. It was two simple mounds of soil devoid of growth stacked next to one another like small ant-hills. A wooden staff of hard wood had been stuck into each mound, each supporting a full helm with a familiar T-shaped visor and the tell-tale markings of the Erinos Clan that Marick always thought resumed fox-ears. There were no clever words engraved in stone, no plagues or headstones with names and deeds. Only the whispers of the wind, and the resilience of Mandalorian Iron against time and the elements.
It had been 3 years since New Tython. Or maybe it had been longer. Everything had happened so quickly, and he rarely had time to sit and reflect. Or remember.
A branch cracked, shattering the tranquil silence of the Feluriaglade. Marick’s eyes snapped back to focus, body tensing like a coiled spring as his lightsaber somehow appeared in hand and ignited. The Hapan spun towards the sound and heard a startled yelp ring out.
A large white wolf literally sat on top of a blue Troguta’s chest, not so much as growling or snarling but simply staring intently at its captured prey.
“It’s just us, sir!” Turel called out quickly in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
Marick’s eyes had become glacial as they narrowed ever so slightly, his face regaining its impassive mask. After a moment of pregnant silence, the Consul deactivated his lightsaber.
“Kira, to me,” he said calmly but with a sense of command. The white Cythraul grunted at Lexiconus before stepping off and padding away towards her master. She took a seat beside him and looked back and forth between the humans.
Turel helped Lexiconus back to his feet and then started towards the Consul and the graves he stood by.
“That’s them, isn’t it?”
Marick nodded solemnly.
“I read the records and saw the vids. It must have been rough.”
“There are reasons I have problems visiting New Tython,” the Consul replied, his words clipped and brisk.
“I guess we share that in common,” Turel said flatly.
Marick didn’t reply, but turned away from the Aedile and knelt down in front of the grave. He pulled something out of a pocket from his cloak and placed a stone between the two mounds. There was a set of stones of varying color and shape. One for One from New Tython. One for each planet of the Dark Crusade. And now one from the troubled surface of Nicht Ka, the final piece of the Fading Light.
Marick rose and turned to face the two newer members of his Summit. “War is coming, again. It will be unlike anything either of you have experienced. For all the stories of valor and triumph and the thrill of battle? It all eventually becomes another story. And there are no happy endings in war; even for the victors.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t fight!” Lexiconus said proudly. “If you’re trying to scare us off, you’re not doing a very good job of it. We’ve got this war on lockdown.”
“Been there, done that, boss.”
Marick shook his head. “I’m aware of your service record, and history Sorenn. I do my research.” His voice gained a roughness that neither Turel or Lexiconus had really seen before. It rose in volume across the Feruliaglade as his words picked up momentum.
“A Great Jedi War is different. It is not a simple ‘us versus them’ like with the Vong. It is not taking on a despot regime or a criminal syndicate. This will be a full scale battle against the One Sith. They are not simply going to give us Korriban. Up until now, it’s been calculated skirmishes on our terms. We’ve encountered more mercenaries and hired hands than actual Sith Lords. We nearly lost Troutyon Ziost, Invictus on Bosthrida, Timeros on Begren, and there have been assassination attempts on Atriyu on our own soil.”
“War is hell, I get it but–” Turel started to counter.
“–On top of that, you of all people should know how delicate the Iron Throne is right now,” the Arconae jabbed a finger at Turel, who unconsciously ran a hand over the clawed gauntlet he wore as a symbol of being the Grand Masters Guardsman.
“I understand all of that, sir. But regardless–” Turel started.
“–Arcona will not back down,” Lexic finished with conviction.
Marick studied the two leaders quietly before shaking his head. “Oh, you are both so young,” the Consul sighed.
“I’m actually older than yo–” Turel started to retort before he met the Hapan’s eyes and wisely cut himself off.
“You will both find out soon enough,” Marick whispered.
Marick took one last look at the grave and turned to leave. Lexiconus and Turel realized they had no idea how to get back, and fell into step with their Consul.