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An Eternal Duel
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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok awaited Azrael outside the door to the landing pad. He was alone.

"Welcome to the glorious capital of the Enclave. How does it compare to Coruscant?"

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

OOC: Moddb.com

Azrael, in his usual dark ensemble, seemed for the most part to have recovered well from his near-death experiences. The artefact, his phylactery, wasn't with him though he did seem to carry a large amount of lightsabers with him that Lok recognized as the mass-produced Sith lightsabers from Darth Rivan's fortress on Almas.

He was accompanied by another figure, clad in a maroon cloak that revealed a dark red leather-like armour underneath.

"Well," Azrael began "it's a lot more blue that's for sure."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

"Indeed, the emperor was very fond of that color"

He then turned his attention to the stranger.

"I don't suppose you could introduce me to your friend here?"

Lok said, eyeing the stranger with mild curiosity.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

The woman removed her hood, revealing a pale white visage with piercing ice blue eyes and black tribal tattoos on snow white skin. If not for the full set of silver-white hair one could easily mistake her for a Rattataki, but Lok was well aware of this creature (provided he did his Sith homework); this woman is a Dathomiri, a nightsister.

She crossed a balled fist across her chest, a mock salute.

"Eis, my name is Eis." her tone was soft, almost tepid. "Pleased to make your acquaintance lord Lok. Lord Azrael has told me much about you."

The Imperial Sith scratched the back of his head apologetically to Lok.

"Sorry I never told you." Azrael said. "You know how it is with us Sith, we're all about keeping our secrets. Besides, you never asked." He raised the index fingers of both his hands, gesticulating wildly. "Oh, you may have heard of her actually. She won those Tarisian death matches some time ago."

OOC: Moddb.com

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

"Hmm, only good things I hope." Lok said with a slight smile. "Likewise Eis, Azrael tends to have a good eye for talent.

"Ah yes, the death matches, impressive. I wonder, my friend, does this mean you've found yourself an apprentice finally?"

Lok directed them to a speeder. Once they got in they made their way to the eternal temple.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Mere mention of apprentices not only struck an exposed nerve for Eis, it ripped it out, stretched it out near snapping, cut it with a rusted blade, dosed it with rhydonium and set it aflame. She cast her gaze on the ground.

"Not yet." Azrael replied.

The two boarded the speeder in silence.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok sensed the effect his sentence had on Eis, and decided to drop the subject. Soon enough they reached the Eternal Temple, and Lok led them through.

"So tell me friend, what do you think of my humble abode?"

As they were passing through the halls they could see many of the hopefuls going about their duties, though the Eternals were nowhere to be seen. The hopefuls spared a glance at the guests, but aside from that showed no interest in them. They bowed their heads in the presence of Lok.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

"It's... Something, impressive all the same but I can't help but feel as if the Enclave is trying to overcompensate for a lack of their own order." Azrael replied, glancing up at the architectural features of the temple. The amount of followers Lok had accumulated was also surprising, he had placed their number at much lower estimates.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

"The force is a powerful ally to have after all. I believe our presence provides the citizens some comfort against the threats posed by the Jedi and Sith. Not that I consider you a threat."

Lok said that last sentence with a wink and a smile.

"I hope the footage I sent of your ritual proved fruitful. I believe there is much to learn from it, perhaps we could alter and, dare I say, perfect it."

They soon arrived at Lok's personal training room. It wws of a decent size, capable to housing a duel between a small group of people.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

"That would be a first," Azrael responded "ordinarily, people hate and fear what they don't understand. Make sure that you and your followers don't become scapegoats or worse."

The group rounded arrived at the training room and Azrael began to look around, trying to find if there was a place where one could sit or stand by and observe the duel from a vantage point.

"Immobile warriors," Azrael mumbled "nothing in recorded galactic history seems to match it. I've had a handful of my people and droids analyse it and there is no record of it, no mention in the works of the ancient Sith Lords either."

"Ritual?" Eis asked.

"Remember how I took a contingent of Stormtroopers with me on a field trip? I tried enhancing them through a ritual, it worked." Lok could sense a heart beat flutter ever-so-slightly within his Imperial counterpart. It was extremely faint.

"Where do these "immobile warriors" come into play and if this ritual was a success what's there to perfect?"

Azrael glanced over at Lok and rubbed the bridge of his nose, a nervous habit of his. "It was a phrase we heard once the ritual was completed. As for your second question; the ritual took quite some time and can be lethal, far from perfect."

The nightsister bodyguard nodded silently in contemplation. Parts of the story didn't quite add up but Azrael would never lie to her.

"Right then, old friend, would you mind summoning three of your apprentices? I'll need their help for my amazing, secret technique."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Loks eyed narrow, his change in tone was noticed by all.

"My friend, I may look like a Sith, but I value the lives of my apprentices. I hope this, 'technique' of yours isn't fatal, otherwise I would have to repay you."

Lok said, eyeing Eis with the last sentence.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Eis glared wickedly at the pureblood but stayed her hand.

"Uh, thing is I need your apprentices for another matter entirely but it is related to the technique." Azrael paced around, hands on hips. "No wait, that's not it. The actual thing is that the technique is imperfect and I need their support to utilize it." He began to ramble incoherently as a thousand thoughts struck him.

With a sigh he gave up. "Essentially, no harm will come to them because of me or my technique."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok relaxed a bit.

"Are you ok Azrael? You seem... unhinged, since the ritual."

Lok pressed a few buttons on a datapad he grabbed with the force.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

"Hm? I'm not being more whimsical than normally, am I?"

He shrugged and looked at Eis, she shook her head. There was nothing out of the ordinary with Azrael and them being what they are, if anything was wrong she would presumably know about it.

The Imperial Sith began unhooking the lightsabers from his belt and placing them on the ground. In total there were four, lined up in a row with a few centimetres of space between them. These Sith lightsabers were the mass-produced ones.

"Anyway, I'm going to take my place on top of that balcony. Send your apprentices my way when they arrive here."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

right as he finished his last sentence, three hopefuls entered the room. These were advanced students, who have showed they may have what it takes to become full-fledged Eternals. They bowed before Lok.

"You three have shown particular promise, and thanks to a rare opportunity I have a... special experience for you."

He gestured towards Azrael.

"What we have here is a Sith Lord, and an old friend of mine."

He then turned to Azrael.

"Care to elaborate, old friend?"

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

"Simply put, I require your assistance in what I hope will revolutionize lightsaber combat." Glancing to his side, Azrael mumbled something about working out the kinks by himself first. "Anyway, all you need to do is channel the Force through me, a pseudo-battle meld. I'll handle the rest."

Azrael knelt on the balcony and Eis placed her hand on his shoulder, demonstrating the Sith Lord's intention as she channelled her own powers through him. Already Azrael could feel his command over the Force increase, he relaxed as he sensed Eis' mind connect with his in the background.

Concentrating on the duel with Lok should become immensely easier with this many strong individuals to assist him. The pureblood has trained his underlings well. He made a mental note to praise his old rival and considered offering to share some more of his knowledge with the Eternals, perhaps even duel with these apprentices to test their own mettle.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

With barely any hesitation the hopefuls nodded. Azrael wasn't sure if this was due to their training or the presence of their master. They jumped to the balcony and began to do as Eis did. Lok moved towards the side of the arena opposite to the balcony and stood facing Azrael, hands behind his back.

"Now then, I'm looking forward to another success."

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

The channelled energies of the Hopefuls eased some of the strain off of Azrael. He felt a lot stronger, stronger than ever before and now he could see clearly and focus.

With near perfect synchronicity, all the lightsabers sprang up from the ground and ignited into four rather unstable red beams. They all pointed into one angle or another, Lok recognized them as lightsaber forms only missing a wielder. It was as though he was facing four invisible duelists.

The weapons began to approach Lok, slowly and methodically. In an attempt to surround him.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok activated his lightsaber and took a stance meant to be able to protect himself. He reached out with the force to sense if there were any kind of presences attached to the lightsabers. Lok smiled to himself, a novel technique, he was happy to test himself against this.

He stole a glance at the balcony, seeing if Azrael himself was moving or if he was as still as the rest of them.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

There was nothing there besides the Force swirling around the lightsabers, a protective barrier about as ordinary as the one Lok projected to prevent his own lightsaber from simply being turned off at a distance.

His opponent hadn't moved from his spot, he was in deep meditation. All to keep the weapons active. In his mind he named the lightsabers, for the sake of convenience only: Aurek, Besh, Cresh and Cherek.

Aurek and Cherek dove in an attempt to stab the Sith at the neck and the abdomen respectively. Besh and Cresh formed an "X"and simply rushed towards Lok head on.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok positioned his saber so that his hilt would be between aurek and cherek. Once in range he span his saber around, knocking both of them aside. As he did this he leaped forward over besh and cresh. he attempted to attack the hilt of one of them, but if they adapted to attack him above then he would attempt to parry them.

After landing he attempted to use the force to try and keep the lightsabers in place or at least slow them down.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

One of the lightsabers is sliced apart, Cresh. Leaving only three to go with Aurek, Cherek and Besh remaining. The pureblood is quick to note that while the weapons may have the lethality of a duellist, they do not have the resistance of one; using the Force he is able to knock all three of them away from himself.

This reveals another problem with the technique; aside from requiring an immense amount of focus and a powerful command over the Force, the user was still limited to what they could effectively do to guard the weapons. The Force is in all living things, projecting it across several lightsabers over a distance and in the middle of a fast-paced duel was far beyond his capabilities. A mere duelling barrier wouldn't protect the Sith weapons from the more severe attacks.

Otherwise, this could potentially become a very powerful tool in the hands of a skilled Force-user. The possibility of repelling an army of infantry or ordinary duellists was there.

In the time it took for Azrael to complete his inner monologue, Lok had slashed apart yet another lightsaber; Besh. This left only Aurek and Cherek. Quickly moving them away and apart from each other and Lok, the two remaining lightsabers hovered at the pureblood's side. One to his left, one to his right. Lok realized that a pincer attack was imminent, Azrael was amazingly predictable.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok was disappointed at how easy it was to take out two of the sabers, but he was aware that this was a new untested technique for Azrael and wondered if he would perform better with fewer sabers dividing his attention.

As Lok found himself between the two sabers he took a second to consider his options, he wondered if this was some kimd of trick to lure him into a false sense of security. He made his move quickly, wity the force he blasted back the saber on his right and immediately jumped over the saber to his left, enging it in a duel while keeping the other in his field of vision.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Aurek and Cherek are knocked back by the blast, but Lok's idea was proven correct as the decreased strain of multiple lightsabers meant that Azrael was able to quickly manipulate them into a recovery.

The pureblood engaged Aurek in a fierce struggle even as Cherek zipped through the air to intercept. At this moment Aurek attacked hard to pin Lok and let Cherek slip through the Sith's guard.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok matched the speed of Aurek and gave no ground, he noticed Cherek moving in for the kill and began to move back, not allowing the lightsabers to catch him in between them. He was also careful to avoid moving into a wall where he would be in real trouble.

He infused his lightsaber with the force, making his next swing release a blast of energy which would hopefully knock the lightsabers back momentarily, giving him an opportunity to destroy one of them.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Anticipating that Lok would attempt to use the Force in an effort to push back the remaining lightsabers again, Azrael releases his grip on both Aurek and Cherek entirely. As a result, both weapons are flung much farther than Lok probably would have anticipated.

The remaining pair of lightsabers bounce off the ground and back in the air, re-igniting as Azrael retakes control of them.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok is able to notice the lightsabers being knocked back as if nothing was holding onto them anymore. He attempted to grab one of them with the force while they were still falling to the ground.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Aurek is gripped by Lok and begins to fly towards the pureblood but Azrael, sensing it, tugs back and with the assistance of the others channelling their abilities into him he actually, accidentally snaps the weapon.

This leaves only Cherek remaining which reignites and, with the full-power of a supercharged Azrael, rushes headlong towards Lok at break neck speed.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Now left with a single lightsaber with the power of 5 people behind it. Lok decided to be aggressive as well. He unleashed a flurry of attacks against the saber as fast as he could, aiming to cut apart the blade but it would seem that the saber was not going to allow him to do it so easily.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Every move grew ever faster, ever stronger, ever sharper and ever more precise. It was as if there was not one but a thousand lightsabers moving through the air. The pureblood was hard pressed to to maintain his guard but with his own aggressive style Cherek was kept at bay.

Lok could sense something else as the floating weapon became more powerful, there was a sense of desperation and exhaustion as well and it emanated clearly from Azrael. His mind was simply overstimulated, too taxed. The Sith pureblood needed only to resist a little longer and his Imperial counterpart should cave.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

OOC: In b4 Azrael breaks through his limits and achieves Ultra Dark Side.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok wasnt sure what else he could do now. He augmented his speed as much as he could in order to match the saber. but he wasnt sure if it would be enough. He decided he would go for an endurance match in the end.

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Soon enough Azrael's power reached its peak, leaving the Lord Eternal hard-pressed to muster any sort of defense. By but a narrow margin Lok was able to evade the ultimate last strike and then, rapidly, all abilities escaped Azrael.

With a quick sword stroke Cherek was sliced in half and the winded pureblood could catch his breath. Meanwhile his Imperial counterpart was busy nursing one hell of a hangover, his mental and physical stamina were all but gone as his connection to the Force was overtaxed and ultimately sapped.

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok takes a moment to catch his breath. That really became challenging towards the end, if Azrael held out a little longer he surely would have won. It was also clear to Lok that it was his first time using the technique.

He jumped up to the balcony and placed a hand on Azrael, soon he regained enough energy so that he could maintain a conversation at least.

"This technique has potential my friend, but as you can see there are limitations, first and foremost your lack of experience. I would like to test myself against it once you have learned to master it."

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

Azrael chuckled loudly, tears of joy forming inside his eyes. He wiped away a tear and rested his head on Eis' lap, letting out a sigh.

"For a moment there I considered jumping down and engaging you in an actual duel. It might have been a closer match, lightsaber combat is my forte after all."

The nightsister stroked Azrael's hair.

"Probably still would've lost. Too exhausted and I'm fairly certain you have the slight edge on me. At any rate, I'll train harder than ever before and I will defeat you."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

Lok noted their interaction, but said nothing about it, maybe something to tease Azrael with, but he didn't judge him for it.

"You had the power of four others fueling you, you're smart enough not to try something like that."

He turned to his hopefuls.

"I do hope this has proved to be a worthwile experience for you. You may return to your duties."

They bowed and left the arena. Lok smiled at Azrael's last sentence.

"A worthy goal my friend, I look forward to our rematch. Is there anthing else i can do for you while you're here?"

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Ori`verda Author
Ori`verda

The Imperial Sith Lord got back on his feet and stretched, seemingly satisfied with the entire situation. He was back to his bubbly self.

"Nope. Nothing that I can think of."

Azrael looked over his shoulder to his companion who simply shook her head.

"Well then, I guess that's a wrap. I look forward to our next meeting, old friend."

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lord_of_pain Creator
lord_of_pain

"Very well, it was a pleasure seeing you both, I may even begin looking into this technique myself. Perhaps we could surprise each other with what we could find."

Lok went with them back to the spaceport. He could tell that Azrael was questioning why he went to all that effort.

"If I left a Sith Lord and his... partner alone in the capital of the Enclave, well, let's just say the Empress wouldn't take too kindly to that.

Finally they reached the spaceport.

"Until next time, try not to get into too much trouble in our territory."

Lok said with a smile.

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After proximately two weeks, a certain Sith Lord visits an old friend on Paladius via shuttle.

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