A bird left the tree to her right as she walked along the beaten path. Crisp air entered her lungs with each step as she neared her destination. As she rounded the next bend towards the garden, rain drops began to patter gently against her flesh. The day had been a strange one weather wise: beautiful sunshine punctuated by brief downpours, and at one-time thunder had rumbled from somewhere close by, but nothing came of it.
Tasha looked up towards the sky and took in the rolling black clouds, feeling the air pressure adjust itself. She sighed, hoping it would hold off just a little longer for her pilgrimage to the gardens. The journey she made now was one the Twi’lek had been putting off for fear of what she might find when she arrived. More accurately, she knew what she would find, but she hated the idea of finding something in herself she didn’t want to see: weakness.
The rumble of thunder resounded in the air and, as she came upon the final bend, the Marka Ragnos Quaestor saw it and shuddered. A fresh monument pierced upward from the shrubs around it. Walking close by she stopped and struggled back a small sob as the features of her deceased Aedile came into view. They were cast in stone and yet they could have been real for all she cared; it was him, and that hurt the most. Courage slowly found its way to her heart, and her feet followed suit, approaching the monument and resting her hand upon its surface before kneeling down to place the bouquet of flowers she had brought at its base.
“I’m sorry Tarryyhn…if I had been stronger I could have done more to stop this. I…” she stifled a small sob. “I didn’t need you to save me again. It was my job to protect you… protect the House, and now I owe you something I can never repay, just like my grandfather!” Her fist hit the stone hard and pain echoed from the impact, but she didn’t budge. “All I wanted to do was make sure you and the others were safe. To protect my Clan mates. To not be weak, and yet I couldn’t even save you, you…you…”
The words escaped her, and nothing else left her lips. A slight rustling on the path behind her made her raise her hand to her eyes and wipe the tears away. As Tasha turned, she took in the figure before her and frowned. Garbed from head to foot in sandy coloured robes interlaced with Sith writings all resting on disturbing battle armour, the figure simply stood and stared. At least Tasha thought it did, given the mask that covered her face was all she could see of the figure’s head. Her senses snapped her attention to the side as a creature emerged from the bushes and she instinctively ran her hand to where her saber should’ve been before realising she disarmed herself out of respect for her fallen comrade. The creature, some hybrid of lizard and canine, looked up at the Twi’lek then, losing interest, moved off into the undergrowth again. As it did her attention snapped back to the figure.
“Who…who are you? …What are you and that thing doing on my private property? I am the matriarch of this house and I demand to know what you are doing here!” Her expression was fierce, but if the figure took any heed she didn’t know. Instead, she watched as the robed person turned their gaze towards the monument momentarily then back towards her. “I asked you a question: who are you?”
The figure raised a gloved finger to where her mouth was and made a shushing noise. “You talk too much.”
Tasha blinked “Excuse me? How dare you? This is my-”
Again the shushing noise “Again you talk too much.”
“I’ll call my husband out here with my saber; then we’ll see who talks too much you wretch!” the Twi’lek managed to blurt out before realising her mistake. Her anger rose in her voice and the figure, chuckling, turned to the re-emerging creature and muttered something in some tongue Tasha had never heard. “Stop speaking in some nonsense tongue and answer me!”
The force whipped like a fury around the Quaestor and she lashed out towards the figure in her anger. The telekinetic strike slammed into the figure, sending them soaring backwards into the undergrowth. As it rolled, its outer garments snagged and ripped before finally coming to a halt.
Tasha approached cautiously as the intruder pushed themselves to their feet, reached up and pulled off the ruined garment, followed by the mask. The Quaestor took in the raven black hair punctured with streaks of pure white and only just managed to notice the pointed ears before the hair covered them. The woman’s face was pale as if the sun hadn’t touched it for years, and the colourless eye that fixed upon her sent shivers down her spine, but that wasn’t the worst aspect to be seen. Black tattoos lined what remained of her face, and Tasha had only seen their like once before in pictures of the Crusades.
“One Sith here? What… is this… you are meant to be dead!” she blurted out before the woman turned fully towards her. Tasha took in the extensive cybernetic replacements of the intruder’s face and neck before they disappeared into the folds of her armour.
“That nonsense tongue was Tusken. My tongue. No more nonsense than what you speak.” the figure went to her belt, and it was then Tasha took in the long handled saber hanging from her belt. “As for who I am? I am Ophelia Lady of the sands and child of the Great Krayt Dragon…”
The long handled saber floated sideways before Ophelia and, with a click of telekinetic force, ignited. A crimson blade pierced the space between them and Tasha took a step back. She blinked as a second slight click was heard and a second blade erupted from the other end of the saberstaff. As both blades hummed gently the saber began to spin end over end picking up speed and carving up the undergrowth on either side as the blades hit organic material.
“…I’m your replacement Aedile.” she sneered and hurled the spinning saber towards Tasha who, caught off guard, simply closed her eyes and looked away. Moments passed and nothing happened. She opened one eye then the other and blinked. Ophelia was still where she was but her saberstaff wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Suddenly it shot back from behind Tasha, disengaged and floated in front of the Sith. “Weakness should never be shown. Makes you prey.”
Taking her ruined tusken garment, Ophelia turned on her heel and left shouting back “I’ll see you at the office,” before she vanished into the undergrowth.
Tasha let out a breath that she hadn’t realised she had been holding, relieved nothing more had come of it and gently rubbed her brow.
“Oh boy, this is going to be rough,” she muttered to herself as she turned on her heels and started heading back towards the monument. It wasn’t until she approached she realised something was wrong with it. It looked shorter, but that couldn’t be. As it dawned on her what Ophelia had done she looked down towards the ground and took in the top half of the monument lying upon the ground, crushing the fresh flowers that the Twi’lek had only just placed. She let out a sob and fell to her knees as the rain began to fall once more.