Tulak Hord was the greatest swordsmen the Sith had ever known. Had he ever ventured into the Republic, he would have quickly made his reputation known to the Jedi. However he was a man gifted with a talent that had no release. In the small empire that the Sith had carved out for themselves, there were no enemies left to challenge him. None other than his own people. And of them, none more challenging than the lords of the Sith Council. Thus he was doomed to destroy himself or the order he served.
Chapter 11: The Fall of the Master
Il Magno- One of the moons of Ziost:
Outside a cold, savage wind howled relentlessly against the solid walls of Hord's fortress. It was one of several that he occupied from time to time. This one once housed the famed Sith Lord Ajunta Pall. It was said to be his least favorite. Oddly, Hord found it appealing.
In complete solitude, he found his center for meditation. And so the cold swirls of the dark side gathered around his body. In the silence, he could hear it whisper.
* * *
Outside the broad, ominous fortress stood two beings. One was a lanky, frail looking being of red complexion. A long red tentacled mustache hung from his face. The hard lines on his cheeks were contrasted by the intensity in his eyes.
Next to him was a solid, well muscled warrior. He looked as if he could've been a gladiator and the scars that showed here and there seemed to only reinforce that belief. Yet he was a Sith Lord, like his companion. His skin was a shade darker, his tentacled mustache cropped short at the corners of his mouth. There was no intensity in his eyes, only a determination in his gaze. He was a man on a mission.
The armor clad lords walked up to the looming doors of the fortress. The building was carved from the rock of the moon's surface and it seemed to simply burst out of the icy drifts that surrounded it. Adina, adorned in simple gray armor and a dull green cloak, approached the door.
Stirring from behind the thick metal barrier, a single Massassi warrior creaked the heavy obstacle out of the way in order to greet the guests.
"Milords, it is an honor." The red-skinned Massassi warrior fell to one knee. "Shall I notify Lord Tulak of your arrival?"
"No." Replied Serq. "The Force will let him know." He nodded to Adina and they continued inside.
* * *
The voices were growing louder. More persistent. Still, Hord tried to resist.
"Kill. Kill. Draw the blade. Listen to its caaallll." The voices screeched as they pleaded, begging without shame.
Hord could feel their desire. It was like a starvation, a primitive urge that boiled from within without control. With cold sweat dripping down his face, he awoke to a startle.
The voices were his own.
Looking down, he could see the lightsaber hilt in his hands. It was clutched so tightly that the feeling was numb in his fingers. Slowly he released his grip, letting the blood flow back into his palms.
Still, he could not shake that feeling. He had finally realized that he was loosing control. The call of the sword was becoming an addiction, one he could not control. One he did not want to control.
"It is time, Tulak."
Hord hesitated. What did the voices mean it is time? Then it dawned on him, this voice was real.
He turned his torso, the rest of him still sitting upon the floor with his legs crossed. At the edge of the room were two shadowy figures. Instantly he felt them in the Force. Adina and Serq.
"I see your meditation has distracted you. Are arrival has come as a surprise."
Hord rose to his feet without making any sudden movements. Part of him wanted to greet Serq with a smile, to share stories of the old times and reminisce. Yet another part hungered for something completely different. The urge was so foreign that he wasn't completely sure it was his.
"Serq. Adina." He made eye contact with each while trying to control the feelings swelling from within.
Adina stepped forward, one hand on the hilt of his sword. "Tulak, it has gone too far. This hobby of yours has become an obsession. You must realize this?" The words came out as a plea, a last ditch effort to save the Dark Lord's life.
Adina's face showed concern. He had a deep attachment to his Lord. All his wants had always been answered by Tulak. He was given a fleet to control, complete freedom of action, and a dozen species to conquer. It was all he had ever wanted in life, that of a warrior.
Now he had to confront his mentor because of a single failing. Deep down he wanted to help his master, to find a solution that did not end in death.
All of these things were bluntly apparent to Hord. It caused him to examine himself, to seek some break that he could visualize, some damage that he could repair within himself.
While Adina tried to reason and Hord hesitated in introspection, Serq took action. He had his sword fully unsheathed before Hord even took notice. By the time the Dark Lord reacted, Serq's blow was already raised. As the heavy blade came crashing down, Adina stood in shock.
Reacting out of instinct, Hord rolled back. The sword slammed down onto the rock tiled floor sending shards flying about. Hord looked into his best friend's eyes and saw only a cold, emotionless stare. He knew now what he meant. His time had come.
Lunging forward, Serq drove his sword like a lance. Hord ignited one of his lightsabers and managed to deflect the attack. As his lightsaber blade chopped down on the sword, he maneuvered closer to Serq, preparing a counter. Yet Serq acted first putting a hard elbow into Hord's chin. The Dark Lord took a step back but Serq pressed on, this time with a double, crisscrossing slash toward the chest.
Now Adina motioned forward. He gathered his resolve and launched his attack to Hord's left hip. With a methodical grace, Tulak swept the blow aside, blocked another attack from Serq, and freed himself some breathing space.
In his mind he struggled to collect himself. He was fighting on instinct, without thought. After thousands of duels the motions had become second nature. But in the back of his mind he was grappling with the situation. His most trusted subordinates were attacking him. His friends were trying to kill him. And part of him wanted to die rather than see them fall before him, their lifeless eyes staring up at him from cold puddles of blood.
Then a burning pain erupted along the back of his right calf as a hard blade sliced through the skin. In that moment the dark side burst forth in an uncontrollable wave. It crushed the tiny doors that were struggling to hold it back. All self control was lost.
The voices screamed in jubilation.
Serq pulled his hefty sword up, slinging blood as he did so across Adina's face. Adina paid no mind, he was busy calculating his next attack. The lord's thin arms snapped out as he swung at the back of Tulak's neck. To his surprise it swept through thin air.
With lightning speed and boundless agility, Hord dropped to the ground, spun on his back, then leaped to his feet sending his lightsaber in a large windmill strike aimed at Adina. The blow knocked him to the ground. Hord then spun in mid stance, abruptly changing his grip, and sent his humming blade behind him, piercing the soft flesh of Serq's thigh. The Sith Lord howled in pain but charged onward. Hord caught the blow and let it push him back. As he reeled from the blow, he sent his right leg in a sweeping kick that took out both of Serq's. He fell to the ground.
Hord almost sent his searing blade into Serq's unprotected neck but was forced to block Adina's next attack. The blades clashed. Adina's sword, imbued with the wonders of Sith alchemy, simply accepted the blow and grinded against it. Adina clenched his teeth as he tried to overpower the Dark Lord but Tulak's strength was too much. Instead he felt his feet slipping as he fell back from the pure force of Hord's will.
Serq snapped to his feet with a yell, using all his power to ignore the pain of the severed tendons and vessels in his leg. Clasping his strength together, he unleashed a series of attacks. Hord blocked the first few, then began parrying them. This brought him into position to launch his own attacks. Serq was no longer in a position to hold his own. Steadily he was losing ground.
As Hord's blows intensified, as the strikes linked themselves in a seamless flow of motion, Serq gave up. He tossed his sword to the ground and bellowed, "If my sword will not finish you then let it be my power in the Force!"
His fingers froze in crooked patterns, a vile look burned into his face, as Serq spewed bolts of raw power from the palms of his hands. The arcs of energy convulsed around Hord, sending him to his knees as he absorbed the excruciating tendrils of pain. Each bolt felt as if it were ripping through his flesh and tearing out his veins.
Adina stood in awe as the pure power of the dark side crashed into Hord. For a moment he thought this was it, that the end was coming. Then he noticed Serq's power waning. Hord was regaining his strength, struggling to his feet. Adina leapt forward to strike Hord before it was too late. Some of Serq's lightning caught him in the back. As he swung his sword he saw a smile cross Hord's face. Then a blast of dark energy pelted him in the chest.
The blast sent Adina sprawling across the floor, his sword clattered out of his grip as it skidded away. He struggled to his feet and saw Hord plunge his lightsaber into Serq's chest. A mad glow permeated the Dark Lord's face as he smiled in grim delight above his conquered foe.
Hopelessness, despair, defeat.
Adina shook away the feelings, his mind kicking into action. His sword was too far away and wasn't getting him anywhere. The Force would have to be his ally.
Diving down into his soul, he found his center. He was one with himself. He could feel the Force at his command. Drawing it like a whip, he unfurled it at Hord with a wild, sweeping gesture. The blow caught Tulak off guard, blood seeped from his mouth.
Hord's eyes stared blandly at Adina. There was no life behind them, only a simple driving desire to kill. Adina realized that Hord wasn't really there. In fact he wasn't fighting Hord at all. Instead, the thing before him was a living embodiment of the dark side. Its will had completely overtaken Hord and was now driving him to do its bidding.
There was no way to destroy the dark side with the dark side. And Adina knew nothing of the light. Yet there was the Krudesh Scrolls. He hadn't gotten a chance to fully study them, but the principle was simple enough. Take the energies of the Force, channel them through your body, adding your own life force with it, then release.
As he was going through the steps, his body was unconsciously following along. He could feel power rushing into his body. The dark swirls flowing off Hord, the inanimate glow that hovered above Serq's dying body, and the tainted purity of his own. Growing inside of him like a rippling surge of tension, he released himself, channeling the energy out and forward.
As he opened his eyes, he saw Hord's thrumming blade sweeping toward his face, only inches away. Yet the blade swept by in front of him as Hord's body flew backwards. The ball of energy slammed into his abdomen, crumpling him in two, and slinging him back like a stone. Hord slid across the floor, slamming into the wall. His crumpled form was hunched over his lightsaber. In a death grip, he still held it in an iron fist. Even as the blade protruded from his back.
It was done.
Walking forward, Adina tentatively approached the lightsaber. Hord's body was still. Adina bent down and pushed Hord upright, leaning him back against the wall. The lightsaber burned an even deeper gouge but Hord showed no reaction. Prying the lightsaber from the knotted up fingers of Hord, Adina held the lightsaber up to eyes. The red glowing blade hummed in the silence. Listening closely, Adina thought he could almost hear it whispering.
He snapped the blade off and chucked it across the room. Inside, the tiny, fragile crystal shattered. Adina looked down at Hord. Five other cylinders were attached to his belt. Methodically he picked up each one and broke it. He used one lightsaber to destroy the others, then smashed the crystal in the last one. Satisfied that his task was accomplished, he walked over to Serq's body.
His fingers still felt warmth on the Sith Lord's neck, but there was no pulse of life. The life force he had felt earlier was now gone. He rose back to his feet. "The Dark Lord of the Sith, master of the sword, is…dead." He looked down at Serq. "And his best friend goes with him. May the dark side release its hold on both of them."
He turned his back on the grisly scene and headed for the door. The Sith Council would need a new leader. The title of Dark Lord would be his. And now he had a new found power to strengthen his resolve. Something not necessarily stronger than the dark side, but equally useful and perhaps…safer.
On Korriban, in the Valley of the Dark Lords, both Mazul Serq and Tulak Hord were laid to rest. Serq was placed in the tomb of his forefathers, a modest structure that was respected for those it contained. Yet Hord was given his own tomb, a large structure that dominated the landscape. A large relief of the Dark Lord stood above the entrance, guarding it against those who would dare breach its seal. Adina, now Dark Lord of the Sith, had Hord's subjects place the remains of the lightsabers on Tulak's sarcophagus. With a token sacrifice of a hundred servants, the tomb was sealed.
Inside the tomb Hord's body laid peacefully in the confines of a thick, stone coffin. His black ceremonial armor covered his body. Upon his face was a black, claustrophobic mask that reflected his fear inspiring image to the unguarded foe. And though the shattered remains of his lightsabers, primitive as they were, now lie broken beyond repair, if you listen closely, you can still hear them whisper the sweet cooings of the dark side.