Arcturus marched on as the footsteps of soldiers drew closer behind them, wincing at the pain wracking his body. The wound in his arm had sealed, but he could still feel the jagged pain lancing through the muscles beneath his skin. Proper treatment was unlikely, meaning that the scar would last.
He followed several steps behind his master and the other Dark Jedi, watching their gaits. Lord Thraagus led the march with an air of arrogance. He was satisfied with his machinations, and he knew that his inferiors wouldn’t try to meddle in the affairs of a Krath.
Arcturus felt a snarl begin to form on his lips. He had been shunted aside like a broken tool, cast away with little regard. The heat rising in his chest would not let this happen.
He let his senses envelope his Zeltron master, probing the penumbra of his emotions. Eether’s anger at the Rollmaster returned to him in jagged spikes, only barely dulled by years of careful control.
Arcturus cast his gaze upon Arthadonis but found him much harder to read. His aura of hatred was more foreign to the Chiss than Eether’s was, and Arcturus wasn’t prepared to probe deeper. What information he did receive revealed that Arth was enraged at being a tool in the plot of another.
Perhaps this could work after all.
“Perhaps you are not as talented at this game as you think, Thraagus.”
The Rodian halted in his tracks and the other two stopped with him. Koryn turned around slowly, his antennae quivering with anger and anticipation.
“Whatever do you mean, Protector?”
Arcturus fought back the urge to smile. As he expected, the Rollmaster’s resolve had rarely been tested so openly. This could only be too easy.
He kept a stern mask of concern painted upon his blue face, choosing his words carefully.
“You believe yourself a sly master of manipulation, but all you have done is let the enemy slip through your fingers. Rather than end her when she had turned her back, you have let her continue on her way to the Tomb of Marka Ragnos. Whatever she seeks, it is now hers with little effort. You’ve played the game so well that you’ve let the pieces drop from your fingers.”
A low drone came from the Rodian’s snout and Arcturus felt the air around his shoulders begin to condense. He braced himself for what would come next.
Rollmaster Thraagus flung his arms out at Arcturus, slamming him into a stone pillar with a thud. The pillar rumbled and swayed, striking Arcturus’s heart with a flash of panic, but it held still.
“How dare you? I hold the very lives of our order in the palm of my hand, you sniveling whelp! If it weren’t for my genius, you would lie dead at the feet of Dantella.”
He took three quick steps forward and raised his hands as arcs of electricity began to jump across his fingers.
Arcturus’s crimson eyes flashed between Arthadonis and Eether as he prayed for their assistance. If he had misjudged them, this could be his final misstep.
Koryn put his hands together as if he would grasp Arcturus’s skull between them and lightning began to leap between his palms.
“The great House Scholae Palatinae has no need for such a trifling, insolent, disgusting heap of Hutt filth. You shall die for your-“
With a whisper of dark robes, Eether interposed himself between his Rollmaster and his apprentice, holding his sheathed lightsaber out to his side in a passive warning. Koryn stopped in his tracks, but the energy never left his fingertips. They regarded each other for a bare moment, waiting for the other to make a move, but finally it was Eether who spoke in a low, icy tone.
“He belongs to me. If you kill him, you will regret it.”
The lightning faded from Koryn’s fingers, but his shoulders remained in a threatening hunch.
“You would stand against me alone, Sith? Do you think that wise?”
The Rodian jumped as a firm hand clasped his shoulder from behind. He turned his head to see Arthadonis standing beside him with his own saber held in much the same way as Eether’s.
“I think it would be unwise of you to strike one of our own down when there is so much at stake. You have allowed yourself to be angered by a boy who was only just given his first real saber, and you have indeed an enemy of great importance to carry on her mission at potential risk to the entire army while simultaneously admitting to playing a very lethal game with the livelihood of our House.”
Koryn glanced back and forth between the Obelisk and the Sith, trying to gauge their emotions. Arth waited a moment before continuing.
“Such lapses in judgment coupled with an untimely and largely unprovoked murder would leave us no choice but to restrain you at the least, and kill you at the worst.”
The word kill hung in the air like poisonous gas, and Arcturus let a small smirk creep into the corner of his mouth.
Koryn watched Arthadonis with shock in his wide eyes, but the Kaleesh gave no sign of relenting. The Rodian finally broke his threatening stance and knocked Arth’s hand away, marching off down the hall.
“We have wasted enough time already. There is much work to be done.”
Arth nodded to Eether and buckled his saber to his belt before following the Rollmaster. Arcturus chuckled to himself and climbed to his feet, brushing grave soil off of his breeches as he did so.
“Krath will always think themselves sup- hurk!”
Arcturus’s neck clenched as if it were being held in a vice and his airways snapped shut. Eether considered his apprentice with a seething rage, watching the color drain from his skin.
“I have had enough of your games, boy. There is too much at stake here, too much which could go wrong. We may have seen a misstep in the Rollmaster’s agenda, or this may just be another piece in the puzzle that our army has wrought. It is not our place to judge, only to give battle to those that would see our House fall.”
He stepped closer to his suffocating apprentice, who was focusing all of his efforts on resisting the urge to claw his throat open.
“I will not be forced to step in front of a Krath for you again. I suggest that you carry a lightning rod with you if you want to play their little mind games.”
He released Arcturus with a thought and turned on his heels, marching after the two Dark Jedi. The Chiss lay hacking in the dirt for longer than his dignity felt was right, and he only just gathered himself as the others were beginning to fade into the darkness.