The most telling part about the Star Maps was the lightless areas they were located...the darkened temple ruins on Dantooine, the depths of a sand cave on Tattooine...and now the depths of what was appropriately deemed "The Shadowlands."
The ivory robes had been destroyed. The new robes Revan wore to battle were such a deep red as to almost be black. The blood-red half mask concealed Revan's face, save dark eyes heavy with pain.
"You tire, Revan?" Malak asked. He, too, had changed. His skin was going ashen, and while he eschewed Revan's voluminous robes, his combat suit was now a pale gray with a black cloak to cover it.
Pushing aside a kshyy vine, Revan sighed. "There is just...there is so much pain here, Malak."
"I don't share your curse," Malak admitted. "Yet even I am not unaffected by the dealings here."
Revans hands were balled into fists. "Damn slavers. Damn the lot of them...damn them with the Mandalorians." Revan's pace quickened impatiently they came upon the clearing and the broken citadel. "And damn them we will. After this, we take the fleet to Malachor's system. That is where Mandalore has fled - it's there we can crush him."
"An end to the war," Malak said, shaking his head. "But what shall we do after it, Revan?"
A small creature skittered past Revan's boot, and was quickly kicked to the side. Revan winced when looking at it. The creature's neck had snapped. Revan paused for a moment then kicked the small corpse into a bush before continuing forward.
"The end of the war does not mean the end of the struggle, Malak. There will always be someone waiting to attack when we are weak, someone plotting in the wings to take what we have earned. We must make ourselves invincible. We must always continue the fight, despite the losses...despite the pain."
"And that's why we're searching for the Star Forge?"
Revan nodded. "We control its power, and there will be no further pain. No one will dare to harm us. No one will dare to attempt controlling us. And we've lost so much, Malak. We've little to lose anymore."
Malak walked ahead as Revan strode into the citadel. He caressed the long spires of the closed Star Map as Revan set to work on an ancient terminal. "A gift, then...for the Republic."
Revan dismissed that thought with a shake of the head. "No, old friend. We know the Jedi Council too well for that. They'll poison the Senate against it. And the Senators themselves will spend the time bickering among themselves to put it to use effectively, or listen to their fears and demand we relinquish it. No, it's better if only we are damned, Malak. We will take control of it ourselves - and force the Republic to accept it. There can be no other way."
"Perhaps you are correct, Revan," Malak said as the black metal unfolded and the flowering pattern of the galactic map appeared. "And perhaps when we are finished, the Senate and the Jedi Council will no longer be relevant."
Revan turned around. Malak jumped back, frightened by what he saw in his old friend's eyes. Anger, pain, insult...but the idea was tempting to Revan. It was that understanding that made him even more terrified.
In a section of the Shadowlands not far from the Star Map, an elderly man's eyes flew open. It took him a few moments to get his bearings. Damn these visions - it had been years since the Force bothered him in this fashion. The content was not pleasing, either.
"What do you want with me again? Told you I'm too damn old for this," he grumbled as he sat up from the wooden bench he used for a bed and cast off the rough-spun covers. It was the prerogative of an old man to argue with the Force, even if it won most of the arguments and gloated it its own fashion.
Out of habit, he grabbed the belt he kept on a table by his bed, buckling it on and giving a brief inspection of his weapon. He slid the control and the green blade appeared before him. Turning it back off, he gave a nod of satisfaction and put the lightsaber back on his belt.
Walking outside, he looked up. Kilometers above him, he could see the only patch of clear sky near his home. Through that patch, he saw a small freighter pass overhead. Funny, it didn't look like a Czerka slave ship, or any of their normal supply vessels. After a moment, his other senses gave him a reading of that ship and what...who...was aboard.
"Damn," he grumbled. "Why would anyone make a return trip to this place?"
He slipped his eyes closed, and tried to make out the shape and patterns in his mind. The pieces didn't seem to fit together, the arrangement was all wrong. With a frustrated sniff, the old man turned around and went back into his cabin, checking his supplies. He would have visitors...and maybe his answers...soon enough.
He decided to head to a nearby grove to gather more firewood. His foot struck something that rolled away and made a distinctly metallic clang as it was struck. Picking it up, he realized it was a droid head.
He also triggered the playback of its last moments, a recording that ended in blaster fire and shouting. Well, he'd take this with him. Maybe his soon-to-arrive guests would know what to do with it. Either way, it would make life very uncomfortable for whoever this "Eli" guy was...