A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[Checkmate] A Farewell Story


Happy Christmas all! :slight_smile:

I hope everyone’s having a good time over the holiday and have enjoyed Rogue One (and if you haven’t seen it yet, why not?! :D).

Although real life’s forced me into permanent retirement-- heck, I bit the bullet and finally bought a PS4 during Black Friday last month, but I’ve still not even had time to unbox it!-- but for the last 18 or so months, I’ve been wanting to write a final sendoff for the character I had roleplayed for the last 17 years when I first joined the EH in 1999, it’s just taken time to finish things off.

I’m a bit rusty, but I had some spare time this week, so finally polished off the fossil that’s been collecting dust in my Google Drive documents for the last year.

And yes, I’ve become Trev, as you’ll have to work out the final riddles by yourselves :wink:

Anyways, once again, happy Christmas all, and I hope you all have a Happy New Year wherever your lives may take you all in the future.

All the best,

~ Xanos

PS: And sorry it’s had to be on three posts, but the message board informed me that “Body is limited to 32000 characters; you entered 58810” so you have been warned: it’s long lol :stuck_out_tongue:


And after the Darkness has consumed all, it will consume itself til nothing remains.
– from a translation by Master T’talkai, Grand Prophet to the Krath Order

Kalekka Tower

A long alabaster leg straddled a fallen pawn that lay on its back beneath her.

Keeping her movements slow, the matriarch claimed her victory, crouching, while still being careful that her actions would not alert the knights that had passed through earlier. Not far away, the two knights still stood watch, attentive, but distant enough that their presence would not deter the mother from bringing a second leg astride the pawn she had conquered, and the silent, willowy queen continued her trespass, spreading her long, porcelain legs wide-- all eight of them-- as she cast her web across the chess piece.

Despite her cautious movement, the spider had claimed the chessboard as her territory many years prior. Today, only silence filled the empty halls of Kalekka, once the seat of the Oracle, the eyes and ears of eternity. For years, Kalekka’s kings had fought, first as rivals, later allies, yet still the long game they started all those decades earlier had not reached its climax, the pieces still waiting for their next move.

However, their game was nearing its culmination, there remained few moves left to make.


Ruins of Comyn Tower
Thendara, Cottman IV
Outer Rim

Blink your eyes just once and see everything in ruins.

The Force may have left him, but her words still echoed in the back of his mind sometimes.

The wanderer opened his eyes to the wreckage of yet another world that had been betrayed. The North Star shined in the heavens, casting a tranquil twilight across the ruins of what had been grand, ornate towers, the heart of a people, but which today lay on their sides, broken in half, having become no more than symbols of a culture that had been lost forever. Not even rotting carrion survived anymore, only dry, forgotten bones, stripped of the beauty that had been the people of Cottman IV,g the people of Darkover.

Xanos had seen this too many times.

From the ruins of Jedha, to the graveyards of Kapsina, or the wastelands of Antei herself, it was no wonder the Force had turned its back on the galaxy. They did not deserve its help; he did not deserve its help. He had stood on the edges of oblivion, gazed into its very darkest depths. Looking at sights like Cottman IV, it was little surprise why the Knights of Ren or the First Order had never cared about groups like the Dark Brotherhood or the One Sith. Indeed, even before its destruction, there had been no need to turn Starkiller Base’s sights on Antei, when the Dark Brotherhood had been doing a perfectly good enough job taking of itself. Like Trevarus had once written, the dark side always consumed itself.

Kneeling, the Falleen pushed back the heavy iron shackles that still hung from his wrists and cupped his clawed hands together on the floor to gather a handful of the ashen remains of a dead race.

Did we get this far just to feel your hate?

Standing, he opened his hands again and the ashes of the past blew away in Darkover’s cold, icy breeze.

He felt nothing, however.

The Force had abandoned him as thoroughly as it had abandoned Darkover. Like his, their lives had not been without mistakes; they too had fallen victim to the barbarism, the brutality, the lies of the blind disciples of a failed empire. Had he paid more attention back then, perhaps he would have taken a stand sooner, perhaps he would have stopped the pages of history being torn from the tapestry of creation, but back then he had not seen, back then he had been as much a pawn in their game as they themselves had now become a pawn in others’. It was a cycle without out, the neverending war of sword and shield.

In the lone starlight, a small blue object glinted on the ground in front of him. He went over to pick it up.

It was nothing special, a worn trinket, nothing more, but something had drawn him to it. He pulled up part of his cloak and rubbed the small, palm sized decoration, probably a broach. Despite the years it had lain there, he could still make out a fir tree; it had probably been silver, though the metal had tarnished.

He’d seen the crest before. The coat of arms of the Hastur Domain.

A word was etched onto the broach, albeit he had no idea what it meant:


Looking around the ruins, at the faded straps of leather that still clung to the dry skeletons, which still huddled together, their terror forever frozen in place in a monument to the sins of the past, he could no longer ignore the truth, no longer hear only the lies. He looked down at the crest of House Hastur again and tossed it back on the ground. He was free of the dragons that had once whispered their untruths in the back of his mind. He was free to make his own choices and accept the answers he had long avoided.

He’d felt the same way when his wanderings had led him to the debris of Hosnian Prime earlier that year. There was nothing of the New Republic’s capital left anymore, only stardust. For so many years, he’d warned the Yuuzhan Vong would be the end of the Republic, but those dreams had turned out to be more lies, more stories whispered by the blind, unseen dragons to confuddle his mind.

In the end, just like with Antei, it had taken no gods or demons to bring down the Republic, and the real truth of their unmaking had been themselves.

Man had given birth to his own destroyer.

Making his way farther into the market square, he took in the sights with new eyes, unencumbered. A child’s scribbles on a wall, such a simple thing, something to which he may have previously turned a blind eye, only for his Master to stop and leave him confused. However, now he understood, now he saw the truth: he had been blind, trapped in a cloud of lies, of dreams, of worlds within worlds. He had been the dreamer, living in the shadow of an existence that was not real, blind to the reality in front of him.

He knelt down again, this time in front of the scratches, and traced a hooked finger over them.

Like the broach, it was again written in a tongue he was unfamiliar with, but he did not need to know the words to understand their desperation. The message had been scratched into the wall with a fingernail, dry blood still clung in the marks. It had been a plea. Begging some unseen deity for salvation.

But that child’s salvation had never come. There were no gods.

Xanos did not need the Force to hear the last, desperate cries as the elfish innocent screamed when they were confronted for the first time by the metal forks that had filled their sky, the hate-filled daggers, as their home had been eclipsed by a flock of warships that had come to purge the world with emerald fire.

The Empire had never been merciful.

When the Falleen stood up, he found he was no longer alone.

She had come again.

His Master had called her Morrigan, but like the three Morrigna of legend, Xanos was sure that was but one of many names. Behind him, the phantom queen stood as she always stood, her feet hovering but a moment over the ground. On the ashes of a dead world, the dark-haired, skeletally pale maiden fit well, but then, in a dying galaxy, where history itself was unravelling, where world after world turned to dust, more and more Xanos found that there was scarcely a place in existence in which Morrigan didn’t fit.

This was, very much, her galaxy.

Indeed, as if by providence, on one of the ruined walls a sketch had been left of a woman that bore a passing resemblance to the tranquil woman, alongside which had been scratched the name: Avarra.

Morrigan’s eyes followed his own and the corner of her lip curved into a narrow smile.

“Back again, Xanos?”

He did not answer. Free of the Force’s whispers, while he may have reconnected with the real world, that was all the more reason to ignore a messenger who remained anchored in his past. If Morrigan wished to deal, she would deal on his terms, and answer the same question he always had:

Why was she there?

Why would the past not leave him alone?

Why did it deny him the space to move on and forget?

“You are hardly in a position to bargain,” Morrigan said. Her eyes drifted to the shackles at his wrists. “I see only a gambler who played his hand too high and lost all the things he never had to begin with.”

What the woman said was not untrue.

He had run from Jedi hunters since their very inception, being one of the first to be marked undesirable. Empire, then Hammer, now Brotherhood, the name may have changed, but he had forever stayed the outsider. It was a funny twist of fate, perhaps, that the Force’s abandonment of him had been the very reason he had kept hidden from those seeking the heart of a star when all that had remained of his power was a dying ember. But even he could only run so far, and eventually they had caught up with him…

“You chose the long road,” Morrigan replied as he carried on walking, “but we’ll be waiting.”

He would not be played back into their games, he had fought off hunters, jailors and inquisitors more than once and would a hundred times over. He had learned more in the years he had spent wandering than he had ever gathered from the books that remained in the libraries of Antei, Loki or Eos, all of which had now joined the great library worlds of the past like Ossus, Xer and Silversisi, which too had been lain to ruin by history’s harbingers, who just like the serpents today, lived in denial of the truth.

He was not the one who refused to heed the past.

Like the crypts of Moraband or the swamps of Dathomir, the abandoned towers of Darkover spoke more to him than the Force and its blind agents ever had. In front of the tower alongside the town square stood the remains of what could best be described as a gallows, its last incumbent still shackled where she had been standing when the destroyers had filled the stars above. To any outsider, a quick glance would have shown the woman for what she was: a servant, a slave who had given her body to others, offered freely, but without freedom, to be used in public for their own needs, to sate their own desires, to save a very society that believed its salvation could only be secured through its exploitation of others, a conviction unto which the people of Darkover had clung even as the harbingers of their ends had filled the skies.

What stood out, however, was not the torn and faded garments, but a sparkling tiara that still sat perched on the victim’s dirtied skull. Xanos lifted it off her head and brushed aside the ash that had surely once been the the very woman to whom the crown had been gifted. In the tiara’s crest, a small, blue crystal had been set, and still glinted, even in Darkover’s fading twilight. He recognised what the Darkovans would have called a matrix, a crystal attuned to the Force and keyed to a particular individual.

He let out a small sigh.

This was what he had fought against. The naive misunderstanding with which people filled their empty lives, telling themselves their choices had meaning, had purpose, when in the end, all their lives ended up amounting to was stardust. He pinched the tiara between thumb and forefinger and shook off the last of the doomed woman’s remains. The girl had surely convinced herself, and been convinced, adorned in deep red fabrics that still showed through her ashes, that her life had been worthy, that her choices had meant something, that she had meant something, that her life had purpose when she had given it away.

“I wanted us to heal the scars,” Xanos said to himself, as he put the crown back on the skull.

Together, they could have turned loose the heavens and changed the stars, but that was not to be…

Albeit he was not as knowledgeable in the subject as his master or the last of his apprentices, Xanos knew enough of Darkover’s rituals to recognise a channeling circle when he encountered one. Their study had been a passion of his Master’s, who had taken a special interest in the methods by which the Darkovans’ keepers could amplify the combined powers of their circle. Like the witches of Dathomir, it had all been a deeply ritualistic path to communing with the Force, but was that anymore primitive than the spells and rituals taught by the Sith or any of their order’s offshoots?

In the end, they were all the same, all it took was to see the mistakes of others to recognise one’s own. He had always promised to bring his last apprentice back here one day, back where she had been born, to show her how little piecing her memories back together mattered, after she realised the lies her people had wrapped themselves in did nothing more than confirm that nothing ever changed, wherever you came from, lives were thrown away, sacrificed for beliefs that in the end amounted to nothing.

People always told themselves their sacrifices meant something- when none had, none ever would.

She would had seen her mind was never fractured-- she had just been repeating the same mistakes.

“It’s not the tree that forsakes the flower,” said Morrigan, “but the flower that forsakes the tree.” The Falleen ignored the phantom queen’s endless commentary. “You can walk the ends of a dying earth,” she continued, “but you have seen the corpses in the tower of Moranill, you know how doomed that path.”

He did not need to be told this, having made the exact same mistakes himself all those years ago.

He was tired. This questioning had gone in circles for months. He had wandered the corners of the galaxy, stood in the footsteps of lords and mountains, artists and farmers, kings and peasants, seeing the same corruption and exploitation of man, woman and child in a thousand different lives, always ending the same way. It needed to end, and he would end it.

The journey, his wanderings, had reached their conclusion.

“If you are so wise,” Xanos began, “I have one question: who are you?”

That brought a change in thee air and the winds stopped blowing.

Not why, but who?

The three Morrigna. The three wise ones. The three faces that had haunted him these many years. For all the names and faces Morrigan may have gone by, he had never asked who she was. The phantom’s eyes lowered from the star shining brightest in the night sky to study Xanos just as intently as he did her.

“A question begets a question,” Morrigan finally answered, echoing words Trevarus had often quoted.

“Who are you, Xanos Zorrixor?”

Zorrixor. He had not gone by that name for years. He had surrendered all rights to it after the deaths of all those whom he had once considered family, the last of which being the younger sister whose life he himself had taken, his birth sister, not the elven-eared Darkovan who had tried to stand in her shadow.

“You play a dangerous game, banshee queen,” Xanos replied slowly, avoiding the question.

When he turned to face her, the woman had covered her face, hiding it behind a black and white mask. Like a skull, the mask stared back at him, unblinking, unspeaking, as if dead. There was something at the same time simultaneously haunting and comforting about it, serene yet fierce, joyful yet sad.

He had seen that mask once before.


Even in his endless dreams and visions, there had only been one place in all the galaxy that bore that resemblance. It was not possible. The phantom wore the mask of Joy, Anger, Serenity, Confusion and Sadness, the priestesses of Runculo, five of the Seven Enigmas whom his Master had spent his entire adult life in search of, never finding the last two, who had always remained just out of grasp, hidden.

But here she was.

The answer to their question had been there all along.

“You know the answer,” the immortal replied.

Lady Death. It was the name Trevarus had always given to Morrigan, but Xanos had never understood its true meaning until that moment. But it all made sense; it finally made sense. The sixth priestess, her place having never been alongside her sisters on the world where all life began, but amongst the lights her sisters sent out into the universe, spending her own time with those sent on their way to die.

A shadow fell across the square and a familiar drone echoed through the ruined streets as the wind returned and clouds darkened the night sky again, leaving only the northern star shining through.

The drone became a screech as it grew louder. An ion engine.

They had found him again.

His hand began to reach for the ebon staff strapped across his back, but the priestess raised a hand to signal him to pause. “If you are ready, you know where you must go,” Death said.

Xanos’s eyes glanced to the heavens and watched the gunships passing over the towers of Thendara city.

Trevarus’s words echoed in the back of his mind once more. We shall not cease from wandering, and the end of all our wandering will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

“I can hold them, but only for a time,” Death answered and the clouds overhead darkened into a storm. A flash of light illuminated the sky, a fork reigning onto one of the ruined towers with a thunderous clap.

The Falleen bowed his head solemnly.

“Runculo,” he said.

Lady Death bowed her own head in acknowledgement.

“Now run.”


Galactic Center

And remember, there is no death, only the Force.

The sixth priestess’s parting words came back to Xanos as he stood at the edge of the forest of Runculo for a third time. It seemed Trevarus had been right again about how things always came in threes. The birds of the forest sang no more and a blanket had been cast over the world lost within a lost world.

In the skies overhead, he could find neither sun, nor moon, only twilight.

Xanos reached out for the burnt orange foliage on a nearby tree. It was hard to tell the stage of growth. The leaves could just as easily have been about to fall off and shut down for the winter as to shed the previous season’s foliage and spring with new life. Lifting his eyes to the forest proper again, he was confronted with the same white mask that Morrigan, or rather, that Death had donned back on Darkover.

The mask floating in front of the tree looked sad, though a moment later its expression shifted to a smile.

“Welcome home, Xanos.”

The mask shook gracefully, twirling fiercely in midair before dividing, splitting into five copies, each ever so slightly different and wearing a different expression. His eyes took in the expressions of Joy, Serenity, Anger, Confusion and Sadness; Death of course was not there, though she was not forgotten.

“We knew you would return,” Serenity said.

“A shame it has taken so long,” added Sadness.

“Due to betrayals you could have avoided!” Anger growled!

The fir trees behind Anger flinched as she spoke and the branches withdrew a little as it started to rain. The life-giving waters of Runculo were something his Master had always spoken of, but it was no longer the soothing rain it had once been, almost exactly six years ago to this day. Indeed, the North Star shined brightly again, the beacon that had first led them to this, the strangest of primordial worlds. Back then, Trevarus and Sildrin, his greatest friends and allies, a Brother and Sister, Father and Mother, had offered up a fraction of their own lives to draw him back from the very brink of Death’s soothing embrace.

“Death never left your side,” Joy said soothingly, “she always stayed with you.”

The priestess was clearly referring to Morrigan, who, yes, Xanos now understood had never left his side in all his years since, wandering the galaxy, travelling from world to world, looking for the answer that all along, had been waiting right back at the place where his second life, his half-life had begun.

“I died on Lehon,” Xanos said.

“Yes,” Joy said, voicing no discomfort at the idea of dying.

“And no,” added Sadness, “you chose to prolong your pain.”

There was a break in the clouds where it was raining, which cast a ray of light down at a small clearing behind the five priestesses. A pool of water had collected in the centre, its surface rippling in the quiet breeze. He knew this. He had been here before. The Well of Life. This was where it had all started.

He stepped past the priestesses to the well and looked down into its centre.

There was nothing remarkable. The light cast a slight reflection of his face on the watery surface, but beyond that he saw just the murky gloom of the bottom of the pool. Nothing magical about it. The water seemed to lack the feel of liquid silver that he remembered in his memories, but maybe that was just another one of his imagined dreams, like the aliens who he had dreamt had conquered the galaxy, or the life he thought he had lived in the Empire. He had so many memories that had turned out not to be real.

“You don’t consider memories real?” Confusion asked behind him.

Xanos no longer had the answer to that. In his lonely years looking for proof, but finding none, he had come to the conclusion he had spent his life trapped in dreams that had never been real. The Vong? Darth Krayt and the Wyyrloks? He had revisited these places, these memories, only to find nothing.

“That doesn’t mean they never happened,” said Serenity.

He cupped his hand and ran it through the water-- but even in that he felt nothing. Maybe even his memories of being connected to the Force had all been another fantasy, like the friends he had tricked himself into believing would always be there for him, when in the end they too had abandoned him.

“Forget them!” Anger snapped!

The skies flashed and there was a clap of thunder before the winds began to howl again.

As well as his memory of being saved in the life giving waters of the Well of Life, this was also the site where the dragon which had stalked his whole life had been freed from its chains, and the sorceress had become the Hurricane that had sapped away his life, his will, until he was nothing. The cold-blooded Falleen shivered and pulled his cloak around him to keep warm from the wind. He had never needed to do that before, but back then the Force had been there to keep him warm, but the Force had left him too.


The Dragon’s words that day shouted in the back of Xanos’s mind. He had stood there the day his last apprentice had freed the dragon from its chains. Witnessed it anoint her to be Tiamat’s truest daughter, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the original who had first raised the cries of the dark.

The Falleen shut his eyes and shook his head, dispelling the memory. Xanos no longer knew what to believe, so much of his life and the people in it had turned out to be fictions, untruths. He remembered Shan Long’s rebirth like it had just happened yesterday, seen the same violet flames transform the woman he had thought his apprentice, his student, into the ice maiden she had later gone on to become-- and he had helped her to do it. He had led her on her path to liberate Shan Long from his imprisonment.

“Maybe they were never really friends,” Sadness sniffed.

He would never know. They had left him when everything in his life had come undone. Like Morrigan had told him, he had fought for so long, but maybe it was time to accept what had happened years ago. Thinking of Lady Death, the trees nearby shrivelled, their leaves fading as the branches curled back in on themselves, shrinking away as if the plants themselves were retreating from something. Even the grass underfoot darkened, browning as its colour faded, as if the forest’s life had suddenly dwindled.

The skies flashed again and rumbled with thunder.

“No, no not here,” Sadness whispered.

There was another flash-- this time from the surface deeper in the dying forest-- and a loud bang. Birds that must have been roosting in the trees suddenly crowed and took flight, startling in all directions.

“Trespass!” snarled Anger!

Xanos frowned and turned back from the Well of Life to the five priestesses, but all five of them had parted, withdrawing into the trees. Only serenity still lurked near enough the edge of the forest to see.

“Balance must be maintained,” the priestess said before her flowing robes retreated into her mask too.

He heard the sound of a woman laughing in the back of his mind again.

The sky crackled with thunder again as the trees beyond where the priestesses had been now darkened entirely, what little colour that had remained having faded completely. Xanos reached out to one of the burnt orange leaves he had looked at earlier, but when he pinched it between his fingers the dry leaf crumbled and fell off. The twilight had ended. Night had fallen and the howling winds did not abate.

Silly rabbit, so easily fooled.

There was another flash and several of the trees on the far side of the forest clearing toppled over.

The blanket that fell across the forest grew thicker, shrouding it in heavy fog. It was so cold, so icily cold. He felt something on the back of his hand and looked down to see a fly crawling across his skin. He waved it away. More flies buzzed in his ears and he felt another land on him, this time on his left cheek. He flicked that one aside too. The buzzing grew louder as the laughter returned and he heard the sound of creaking wood underneath heavy bootsteps. He was not alone anymore.

Xanos wafted more flies away a moment before there was another flash and he was struck him in the core of his spine. He was thrown face first to the ground, as a burst of raw pain shot up his back. His entire body convulsed from the electric current that had struck him. His face slid through the sogging wet mud, the thorned, tangled vines and undergrowth. When he ground came to a halt, his back burned where he had been hit by what could only have been a bolt of Force Lightning, and he tasted the warm blood that now dribbled from the wounds in his face where the undergrowth had torn up his skin and clothing.

His muscles twitched, still temporarily paralyzed from the surprise attack.

“Silly me,” the same woman’s voice chuckled, “I thought the great prophet would have sensed that.”

Groaning, Xanos tried to stand, but all he achieved was a disparaging fumble on the floor, still unable to move. It was a small wonder the lightning had not completely knocked him out, but he had been exposed to the Force’s magick enough times in his life for it to not be a completely unknown experience for him.

Still, he could not help but release another pained groan when he finally pushed himself onto his knees.

More flies swarmed, crawling up his arms, down his neck, although he ignored them, there was nothing he could do to swat them away. He struggled to make his attacker out through the haze of insects. There were three of them. A woman stood to the side, her face painted with a number of all too familiar Sith runes and incantations, many the kind he himself had uncovered and brought back to the Shadow Academy so many planetary cycles ago. Her eyes burned orange-red with fire, and around her the plantlife retreated from her presence as she weaved her hands through the air in front of her, tracing a phantom spell in the air, while she chanted in the old tongue that had hailed from Korriban.

Qâzoi kyantuska,” muttered the woman over and over, “qâzoi kyantuska, qâzoi kyantuska.”

A mind witch. He knew what she was, but he lacked the strength, the power to fight back, even fully conscious of the illusion she was forcing upon his thoughts. He struggled to dispel the lie, but it only served to make the darkness trapping him encroach deeper on his mind, the sound of insects intensifying.

With a great deal of effort, he finally forced himself to his feet, grabbing hold of one of the retreating vines that was itself slithering away in fear, and using the retreating vine to pull himself to his feet. It proved a pointless effort, however, for just as Xanos regathered himself enough to unfasten the ebony staff he had strapped across his back, more figures dropped from the tree he had used to pull himself up.

If there had been any doubt before, there wasn’t anymore:

The figures’ armour was adorned with the mark of the Inquisitorius.

The nearest had dropped mere feet in front of him, so he immediately swung the staff in their direction before they could pull their own weapon to defend themselves-- however, rather than his strike dealing damage, instead the wooden pole simply passed straight through the middle of them.

More illusions!

He heard the sorceress’s laughter echo through the swarm of flies that still engulfed the forest, and another bolt of lightning shot past the side of his face, close enough that he felt he singe his cheek.

“The prophet of truth can no longer hide behind a shield of lies,” growled another, masculine voice.

He felt an armoured hand grab hold of his shoulder, and he was quickly spun around to face a heavily armoured warrior, clad head to toe in pitch black body armour, darker than the night sky. A juggernaut.

An equally black lightsaber ignited in the juggernaut’s hand.

Xanos staggered on his feet. He was still recovering from the strike on his back. He managed to raise his staff in a parry position-- for what good it would do against a lightsaber-- but he had been trained in the art of Long Shan Zhi, first by his Master, and more recently by the renowned weapon master, Shi Long, with whom the Falleen had once studied the lost arts of the saber, first when he had still wielded the full powers of the Force, and later when he had first felt the Force beginning to drain from him.

He never have become a master of Long Shan Zhi like Shi, but it provided him enough to know the advantage in movement-- but agility was the one thing Xanos currently did not have the capacity for.

Even weighted down by his heavy armour, however, while the juggernaut struck first, it was Xanos’s very lack of finesse and artistry that caught the warrior off guard, and where they had moved their blade in a conventional strike, expecting him to parry like any normal opponent, especially an Elder supposedly so gifted with precognition, Xanos had instead staggered slowly, and his attack had come up under their lightsaber a fraction late, but at such an angle that it struck them in the wrist, deflecting their attack.

It had been a very awkward, cumbersome display for both of them.

However, the juggernaut simply growled, and their reaction to Xanos’s unintentional parry came far quicker than Xanos’s own footing could steady. The black lightsaber blade cut straight down the middle of Xanos’s staff, bisecting it in two, and leaving him holding two half-length wooden batons instead.

He heard the sorceress’s whispers invading his mind again, pulling at his deepest fears.

His hands clutching the two remaining halves of his staff began to pale, withering as it whitened. His bones started to protrude through his tightening skin, as his body aged, all the stolen years he had been gifted with after his unholy rebirth in this exact same very spot six years ago seeming to disappear, as the injuries he had sustained back on Lehon being made manifest once again.

The truth…

He heard her voice penetrate his thoughts as he felt the fires of the volcano on Lehon all over again.

Even if he knew it was nothing more than an illusion, he could not escape the feeling.

Confusion had been correct: memories could be just as real as the real thing.

The next moment, he felt a forceful punch to his spine again, right where the bolt of lightning had struck him, and he was thrown once again down to the floor by an armoured fist, probably the juggernaut’s. He let go of the two halves of his staff, which went flying off somewhere into nearby undergrowth.

Before he could gather his thoughts, he felt the same armoured hand grab him and spin him over onto his back. The splash of cold mud on his burnt, exposed flesh was admittedly a small mercy, and the tension in his shoulders loosened as he allowed himself to drop back, relaxed, against the dirt. Not that the figure that had tossed him over was going to allow him a moment’s respite. He had just enough time to take in the outline of a dark, silhouetted figure, their face hidden behind a black helm, before the point of the same figure’s iron boot stamped down into his midsection, winding him and forcing him to cough blood.

The Falleen could not prevent himself from reflexively howling. The pain was raw.

The armoured figure remained silent, and instead a third voice, male this time, sounded from his left.

“Lord Vexatus,” the third figure greeted, lisping the the Falleen’s former name from back when he had still been a Sith Lord. Those days were behind Xanos, however, and the name Vexatus no longer had any meaning for him, much like the name Zorrixor, which he had discarded all those years ago as well.

“I…” Xanos coughed, struggling to speak, and the armoured warrior on top of him pressed down on his even stomach harder, forcing up another mouthful of blood. “I think… you’ll find… you’re mistaken.”

The man with the lisp moved into view, while the witch carried on her enchantment behind him. The figure was clothed in a dark, burgundy robe, decorated with Sith runes, much like the tattoos daubed on the witch’s face. Another sorcerer. The Inquisitorius must have finally recognised that Xanos’s magicks could not be countered by brute force alone, and have decided to fight fire with fire.

For Xanos, of course, it was unfortunate that his sorcery had abandoned him more than a year ago. Only his reputation had provided his surviving shield-- and now even that was no more.

He coughed up more blood.

Heretic,” the sorcerer lisped again. “Betrayer. Undesirable.” The figure paused again, while the armoured juggernaut ground his boot deeper against Xanos’s wounded, prostrate form. It took all the Falleen’s resolve not to cry out again, but he managed to restrict it to a painful hiss. The third figure knelt down in front of Xanos, and pulled his head up by the scruff of his robe. “No, I think you’ll do.”

It was only as the sorcerer stood up again that Xanos noticed that underneath the man’s hood his ears were pointed, elven looking, Sephi. Like the people of Darkover. The Sephi’s face tightened as that realisation ran over Xanos’s mind and the sorcerer spat down in the Falleen’s face.

“Ferran, release him!” the Sephi Inquisitor growled at the juggernaut.

Had he just called the warrior… Ferran?

The armoured foot stamped down on Xanos’s chest again before the juggernaut spun the Falleen back over onto his front, and grabbed him by the arms. The Falleen would have struggled, but he had no strength left. For the last two years, ever since he had been betrayed by his apprentice on Korriban, and Darth Ashen had been deposed, Xanos had been on the run from assassins. Even when he had returned to the Sons of Sadow to seek their aid, they had never forgiven what he had done all those years ago, and his effort to unlock for them the powers of the Star of Ombus had been met with resistance.

Even his first apprentice, Macron the mad alchemist, had refused to lend the Falleen his hand.

The Force may not have finally abandoned Xanos until his defeat of the last Krath High Priestess, who had tried to tear Antei apart in her attempt to recreate the failed ritual of Tiamat spoken of in legend, but in truth, the Force had been fading from him for years prior to that. Back during the Dark Crusades, his foresight had already become unreliable, both of the past and of the future, with him feeling like history itself had been coming undone, his memories fracturing, but the moment his last days had been truly written in stone had been the last time he had stood there on the edges of the Well of Life, the day the dragons of his past had stabbed him in the back and stolen what he had believed meant for him.

We are a feast.

The heavens thundered again and the winds grew even stronger.

Had he really heard that voice? Had it been male or female? He was no longer sure what to believe. He shook the memories of the Thunder Dragon’s rebirth from his mind and turned his thoughts back to the warrior rebinding his shackles behind his back. The warrior the other figure had named Ferran, like the founder of the Obelisk Order. Could that really be his name? The iron clamps crushed Xanos’s bones together, and he roared with pain, as the bone cracked, the unwelcome noise drilling down his ear canal.

He screamed again when Ferran shackled his second wrist.

He coughed more blood when he was finally pulled to his feet, though it took all he could manage not to collapse back on the ground again. The mind witch’s incessant shrill of a curse still dominating his mind.

Qâzoi kyantuska…”

He just managed to lift his chin high enough to scowl at her for using his own wizardry against him.

They would never have discovered any of this had it not been for him or his Master.

He felt another hand pulling at his thoughts and his eyes drifted back toward the other sorcerer, who was gazing at him in a look of intense concentration. Xanos could feel the invasive touch inside his skull. His thoughts trailed back to the wreckage of Darkover, which had been lain to ruin by none other than one of the Keibatsu family, Shin’ichi Endymion. That shared memory clearly hit the Inquisitor unexpectedly, and the fire in his eyes suddenly ceased, and he broke off the connection with Xanos’s thoughts.

“The truth… hurt?” Xanos had to cough the words, but it was enough to silence the inquisitor for now.

For the next few moments, only the sorceress’s never ending chant and the sound of the retreating vines slithering away filled the forest clearing. But finally, the fire flashed across the sorcerer’s eyes again and he glared back at Xanos, the hatred palpable on his face. “Enough with you lies!” he growled. “We’d heard rumours you’d lost the Force” The sorcerer laughed. “I guess it was true after all.”

The figure behind him manhandled him again and he finally felt the witch’s mutterings cease.

“And don’t worry,” the sorcerer continued, mockingly. “The Dark Lord has no desire to see you become a martyr for the other insurgents. You will be returned to Arx, where you can be made an example of.”

The Falleen knew exactly what that probably meant. The Sephi himself was an example of that. Their entire race had originally been marked undesirable, only for them to be systematically broken, one by one, until each in turn had surrendered to the Dark Lord’s will, either through force or otherwise.

Xanos let his mind cycle back to the ruins of Cormyn tower in Thendara city.

The sorcerer’s eyes flashed again and shackles on Xanos’s wrists suddenly fell to the ground.

“But exceptions can be made,” he growled, balling his fist right before punching him in the face. His eyes had turned bloodshot, the hatred burning fiercely. The unwelcome images Xanos had shared of what he had seen on Cottman IV clearly burning in the Inquisitor’s mind, unwilling to accept them, convinced they were no better than the visions Xanos had told of the Yuuzhan Vong or the fall of Antei.

“All lies,” the Inquisitor growled, pulling his arm back and striking Xanos in the face again. The sound of cracking bones shot through the forest where the sorcerer’s fist broke Xanos’s nose. It took all Xanos had left to remain upright on his knees, but instead his head slouched forward, defeated.

His energy had been completely spent.

His mind drifted away again, his thoughts the only escape he ever had from the pain. His memories drifted back to what he had heard had transpired on Kapsina, how Faethor had been struck down by a mob in a similar, humiliating display, back when the Force had been torn from the Fire Dragon as well.

That memory was not helping him with his present predicament-- almost as if his very memory had become another enemy, working against him, as he had flashes of the battered, broken corpse of the defeated Grand Master that Trevarus had recovered from the Dragon’s Graveyard in the years after.

Xanos’s thoughts were pulled back to the present.

Let it go, a siren’s voice sang in his mind. Become one with the wind and sky.

Where had that come from? He didn’t recognise it.

Lust had returned to the sorcerer’s eyes in front of him.

“Besides,” the inquisitor was saying to himself, “we have what we came for.”

Even with a lisp, the awe in the man’s voice almost made Xanos completely forget about the pain that was still shooting through his charred back and broken bones. The sorcerer was looking around at the rapidly retreating forest floor, where the priestesses of Runculo had withdrawn to and hidden. “For so many years, we have searched for this place.” The sorcerer had taken his eyes off Xanos, looking around at the dark forest. “Hoping to find it first before Snoke or one of his knights should discover it.”

And now Xanos had led them right to it.

“Fool,” hissed the juggernaut, who was still standing behind him, “your arrogance has made you and the rest of your Master’s three-eyed freaks expandable.”

Three-eyed freaks. The Marked. The students of the Oracle whose mission was to seek knowledge.

Knowledge that needed to be protected, not destroyed like the rest of the books that had been set to light in so many bonfires on Antei and Korriban when Pravus and his stooges had sought to rewrite history.

Ferran kicked Xanos in the back, sending him tumbling to his knees in front of the sorcerer.

“Pathetic,” the mind witch said, joining the sorcerer. “He wouldn’t make a worthy example anyway.”

“Agreed, Cyrena,” said the sorcerer.

Cyrena? Hadn’t that been the name of the final Krath High Priest, whom Xanos had slain on Antei during the last of the purges? His mind reeled. His memories had become so unreliable. First Ferran, now Cyrena. He no longer knew what to believe and what not. He shut his eyes, blocking out the lightsaber blade hovering mere inches front his neck as his own thoughts spun, trapped in a maze of confusion and fractured thoughts…

This must have been how his apprentice had felt. Her memories fractured from so many rebirths.

His head spun. He no longer knew what to think. Not that it mattered anymore.

He could run no further.

Don’t be afraid.

“It’s time we brought this game to its conclusion,” the sorcerer said, his eyes looking unsympathetically down at the one who had been the Oracle’s closest apprentice, the wisest of the Prophets, the Grand Master that never was, and without remorse, the chief inquisitor swept his blade across Xanos’s throat.

And as quickly, and pointlessly, as that, the story of Xanos Zorrixor was finally over.


Xanos’s death had come with no sudden burst of power, no final release of long-trapped energies being set free, only the quiet thud of a body on the dirt, as empty and forgettable a passing as the death of anyone else.

A scream cried out from somewhere in the forest, but it could just as easily have been the birds.

In the end, perhaps it was fitting that his life would end as pointlessly as he had always said life was.

For so many years, Xanos had struggled to prove his visions right, only for his beliefs to come apart toward the end. Ever since he had been saved from the brink of death by Trevarus and Sildrin, he had never been the same, almost as if from that day he had crawled back from the pool on Runculo six years ago to the present day, his second life’s expiration date had already been set, and was just waiting for the day he found his way back here. Maybe that was even why Trevarus had taken the same sympathy on his two apprentices, for both Xanos and Sildrin had been the same, both had been on half lives, both having already died once and been brought back, both just as uncertain how real their realities were.

Xanos had always believed the answer could be found-- but he had been proven wrong.

The inquisitor looked up from the target he had hunted for so many years to the forest.

“We should make haste in case we were ourselves followed,” the sorcerer himself said. Like he had told the undesirable, they knew the First Order was searching for Runculo’s location too, Snoke knowing that its destruction was the only way to finally rid the galaxy of the return of the Jedi.

As if on cue, a rustling sounded from the nearby woods, where the ‘scream’ had come from earlier.

“Investigate,” snapped the sorcerer, gesturing for Ferran to take a closer look.

The juggernaut’s lightsaber crackled to life in a snap-hiss as he approached the dark undergrowth. The trees where the inquisitors had arrived from had already been felled by their earlier attacks. This time, though, even Ferran was cautious, taking one step at a time, and inspecting the area closely.

Laughter ran across the forest clearing.

“Confused, you look,” a female voice chuckled, before laughing again.

“Foolish, more like!” the same voice, or possibly another one, growled.

A bright object darted, spinning through the trees in front of the juggernaut. The sound of a woman crying filled the forest clearing as the spinning golden disc spun across the clearing

“No, no, not like this,” cried a voice again from the disc which came to a halt over Xanos’s body.

The disc resolved itself into the black and white shape of a skull-shaped mask.

“Be gone, spirit!” snarled Cyrena, who shot a bolt of lightning toward the mask, though rather than dodging it, the skull just twirled, taking on an angry expression, and stared down the bolt of Force Lightning which it let strike it head on, the crackling energy dissipating harmlessly.

The mask spun around again and took on an unhappy smile. “Only make things worse again.”

Thunder rocked the forest again, bringing with it another burst of the arctic gales which sent the tree’s now-dried up leaves floating off into the sky. By this point, all that remained of the earlier rich and green foliage of Runculo’s forests was the skeletal remains of a wintry wasteland.

Death had come to Runculo.

“It’s time we left,” growled the sorcerer again, his eyes following the mask that still darted around, albeit there seemed to be no immediate danger from the strange, spiritual entity itself.

“What about that, Master Revan?” grunted Ferran, gesturing down at the remains of the dead Falleen. “We should bring the body back to the Dark Lord-- proof that the Undesirable is no more.”

Cyrena nodded in agreement. “Proof that his and his Oracle’s lies shall no longer plague the future.”

Revan considered for a moment then nodded. “Do it.”

The juggernaut knelt down to retrieve Xanos’s body-- but the mask spirit moved to block him.

“No!” the mask growled.

“He should rest in peace!”

The armoured inquisitor swept his gauntleted arm through the air to waft the spirit aside. “Out of my way,” Ferran growled. He wouldn’t let some ethereal fly stop him. “Move!”

He turned back down to Xanos’s body-- to find a dark-haired woman already cradling it.

Death had indeed come to Runculo.

“You didn’t listen, Xanos,” said Morrigan, combing her fingers through his greying hair. “I told you to let it go. To feel, not think. Not to contrate on the finger or you would miss all the heavenly glory beyond. ”

Ferran paused, dumbstruck. He had no idea where the woman had come from?

Cyrena answered first-- her response coming in the form of a bolt of Force Lightning. The ray blasted toward Morrigan, but Lady Death simply raised a hand and, like the skull mask, it dissipated harmlessly.

The other two inquisitors approached, but Morrigan’s attention remained squarely on Xanos’s body.

“I said empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.”

Her hand passed over Xanos’s throat where Revan’s lightsaber had struck him.

“You put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.” Her eyes drifted across to the Well of Life, the well in which Xanos has been drawn back from the abyss. It had started to rain again. “Water never becomes stale. Be water my friend.”

“What are you?” growled Revan.

Morrigan ignored him. Death was not a power that would be halted by the living. Death was inevitable.

She bent down, so that her lips were right beside Xanos’s ear and that only he would hear.

“Remember. There is no death, only the Force.”

“I tire of this sorcery!” snarled Revan. “Move away, you undesirable witch!”

This time, it was the sorcerer himself summon the powers of the dark side, funnelling them into a dark vortex right in front of him, the remaining grasses underfoot withering to dust as he channelled his anger into a dark spear of energy that he fired directly toward the ethereal witch cradling the Falleen’s body.

However, the kiss of death was a gentle thing.

Let it go, and rise like the break of dawn.

As the spear of energy rushed toward her, Morrigan’s lips touched the forehead of the lifeless body she cradled in her arms–

And Xanos’s eyes opened.

White light shone from his eyes and the Falleen, not Morrigan, raised his arm to dissipate the dark energy with a wave of his hand. Morrigan’s lips smiled as Xanos stood up, his eyes shining with light.

“I am with the Force and the Force is with me.”

Xanos had not spoken those words in more than six years.

He had been lost in the dark for so very, very long. His eyes glowed with the light. He lifted a hand toward the lightsaber blade of the juggernaut still standing there and grabbed hold of the energy sword before pulling it out of the warrior’s hands. The blade shut down the moment the hilt had been pulled from Ferran’s grasp, causing the hilt to fall on the floor. The juggernaut simply stared in disbelief.

The grass underneath Xanos had begun to turn green again.

Behind Xanos, the masks of the other five priestesses had rematerialised, one-by-one.

“He doesn’t understand,” Confusion said, acknowledging the juggernaut’s confusion.

Cyrena glared, unafraid. The mind witch reached out to Xanos, trying to pull at his thoughts again, but Xanos simply turned toward her, undisturbed by her attempt at intrusion. He did not bother to shut away his mind, but instead allowed her in- and that was the witch’s undoing.

“It’s… it’s so bright!” Cyrena screamed, suddenly closing her eyes. “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

Meanwhile, Revan was in the midst of confusion at how Xanos had deflected his Force blast; moreover, how the Falleen had faked his own death-- or rather, had faked his death again! The sorcerer snarled, summoning the energy of another spear, this time focusing enough power that it would incinerate whatsoever it came into contact with. There would be no blocking his attack this time.

“The Dark Lord will have to settle for your ashes!” the head inquisitor snarled and let loose his attack.

Xanos, however, simply held up a hand again, and the spear of energy froze in midair-- there was no anger on the Falleen’s tranquil face, only the shining white light that beamed from his eyes-- before the spear turned back on its origin. The inquisitor’s eyes widened before his own body was reduced to ash.

Around the ash, the plants began to come back to life, growing rapidly. Several of the trees nearby had begun to unfurl their branches again, and already small buds had returned where they had shed leaves.

By that point, the juggernaut who Xanos had disarmed had recovered his thoughts and began hunting on the ground for his missing lightsaber hilt again. Ferran would not be bested by the prophet’s profane magicks! However, as the juggernaut rummaged through the undergrowth, Xanos reached down and took the man’s arm to stop him. Still kneeling, Ferran growled and grabbed Xanos’s hand with his own, right at the same moment that he located his lost lightsaber with his other hand. The juggernaut ignited the blade and swept it up toward Xanos, but this time, it was Xanos that reacted faster, grasping hold of the juggernaut’s saber arm by the wrist, and redirecting the blade back into Ferran himself.

Ferran’s body collapsed, slain by his own hand.

Xanos looked back at Cyrena again.

The woman’s eyes had gone completely white, blind, and she was still deep in a state of panic.

“What are you?!”

Xanos held his hand up peacefully. “I am water.”

Even through her blind eyes, Cyrena looked wholly confused. The other inquisitors had died at their own hand, and she had rendered her sight blind. But none of it made any sense. Xanos had died! Had died!

“Yes,” Xanos said, as he put a hand on the blind woman’s shoulder. “But death is not the end.”

It was the answer he had been searching for for all these years.

Cyrena glanced around with her blind eyes in confusion. She turned toward the clearing where Morrigan was still sitting, but, rather than fighting on, she simply ran. The forest began returning to life, following Cyrena as she fled into the wintry arms of the skeletal trees that had lost their leaves. Cyrena screamed.

Xanos did not follow her.

Even if the witch survived and somehow made it off Runculo, she had lost her sight, and would never be able to lead the rest of the Inquisitorius back there. The hunters mission had failed. The birthplace of the Force would remain safe, and it had not even been necessary to raise a hand in anger.

And after the Darkness has consumed all, it will consume itself til nothing remains.

Trevarus’s writings all those years ago in his chronicle came back to him.

“You understand at last,” Serenity’s voice said soothingly.

Morrigan moved to join Xanos at the edge of the Well of Life. Death looked content.

The light in Xanos’s eyes had begun to soften a little.

“I should have listened.”

“I always told you,” Morrigan replied, “we’d be waiting.”

The Falleen looked down into the reflections in the Well of Life, which this time looked silver again. He saw Xora’s face looking back up at him. He remembered the day he had let his sister become one with the Force back when he had chosen the road of darkness on Lehon and prolonged his black life instead.

She’d told him back then he would never see her again if he went down that road.

Xora had been right.

“I made so many mistakes,” Xanos reflected as the water shifted to all the others in his life who had wished he had done more for. The water resolved itself instead into the shape of Trevarus, who Xanos had not seen in so many years.

He did not recognise where his Master was, only that the Oracle seemed to be surrounded by a group of small children, who were listening to him intently. It looked to be outdoors somewhere, perhaps a hilltop.

His Master had always told Xanos he had to find his own path.

Perhaps this was what his Master had meant. Trevarus had always said the Force was one. Xanos’s mind went back to the stories he had heard of Trevarus’s own master having been redeemed, an allegation Trevarus had always dismissed, forever reminding Xanos there was no light or dark.

Morrigan put her hand on Xanos’s shoulder.

“Trevarus was right,” she said. “Faethor chose his own path. Trevarus too in the end.”

Xanos looked back down at the water again, seeing the face of the woman whom he had come to know as closely as he had known his sister. Her hair now white, his formerly flame-haired apprentice was cradling a pregnant belly. His mind went back to the infant Sildrin had once saved from the strike teams on Antei during the purges, and understood now why he could never offer her the life she had sought.

“I was always just delaying my own end,” Xanos said.

Morrigan nodded. “Whereas she longed for a new life.”

He could finally understand why his Master had ended up leaving his legacy to her instead of Xanos. While both Xanos and the sorceress may have started out the same, with both having been blessed with a second chance at life, Sildrin had sought to make the most of hers, whereas all Xanos had done was remain tormented by the memories of the mistakes he had made in his first one.

He had failed both his students, first turning Macron against him, then her.

The Falleen turned back from the pool to the priestess of death again. “I’m ready.”

Morrigan studied him. “Are you sure?”

The Falleen’s eyes drifted back down to the pool, but this time saw only his own reflection. He nodded. “There is nothing left for me. I have nothing left to teach.” He looked back up at Morrigan. “I cannot help them any further. Like Trevarus always said to me, we must all find our own way.”

Morrigan smiled sadly, but nodded. “You’re wiser than you think, Xanos.”

Xanos did not think that. He had made so many mistakes that he would do differently if he could live his life again. For one, he would have taken more time to hear what his Master had told him, read what his Apprentice had written him, perhaps then he would not have wasted this second life the two of them had given to him back on Lehon all those years ago, rather than repeating the same mistakes all over again.

“Don’t think. Feel.” Morrigan smiled, repeating what she had told him before. “You think too much.”

“There is always a reason to have hope,” Joy repeated behind them.

Morrigan held out her hand, giving him a last chance to change his mind.

He took Morrigan’s hand, and Death smiled.

“You did well, Xanos,” she said kindly and at long last, after fighting against his fate for so many years, and turning his back on all those who had been close to him, Xanos finally faded away into the Force.

Nomad Mountains

The old man sat where he always sat, a clear cup of brownish liquid that he would sip on a small table next to him. His usual audience of younglings sat on small leather ottomans. He knew each by name, though Roku, Kyoshi, Kuruk and Yangchen were certainly among his favourites.

Yangchen raised her hand to ask a question about what the old man had just been describing, when the old man was suddenly struck by a feeling that he could not simply shut away.

The old man lifted a hand to cover his mouth.

“Master Wan Shi Tong, is everything okay?” called Kuruk.

The old man did not answer straight away, and instead pulled a handkerchief from his jacket pocket to wipe away the sweat that had collected on his forehead. He remained silent for several more minutes before he finally put the handkerchief away again and took another sip from his cup.

Master Wan Shi Tong looked over at Kuruk.

“Yes, my son,” the old man said calmly. “”Everything’s okay now.”

The small boy’s face still looked concerned. “I got scared something happened.”

“No, nothing like that.” Wan Shi Tong smiled. “Only an old friend finally being at peace.”

Somewhere far, far away, a dusty and cobweb coated chess piece fell on its side.


The End