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The Priory of Balance [Layla, Xander]

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  • The Priory of Balance [Layla, Xander]

    The Planet of Arbora
    [also known as Carrivar, Unknown Regions]


    It was undoubtedly a backwater world, known to the natives as Arbora and by those glimpsing rare star charts, which mapped the obscure expanse of space, as Carrivar. The rotational cycle consisted of twenty-six standard hours that were equally shared by the system's blue hued sun and binary moons. The climate was temperate year round and the terrain mainly consisted of mountains and forests. The soil was rich with minerals, ensuring that the flora grew quite large and the massive waterfalls that thrust their way from every mountain face tinged the air with cool moisture. There was a vast array of fauna that contributed to lush ecosystem and if one made a point of studying such things, it would be noticed that everything on the planet lived in a perpetual state of balance. Light and dark, life and death. These were the fundamental principles of The Priory where Indra Torasani had been born, raised, and taught.

    The abbey where she resided was carved deep into a mountain's base. The tranquil sound of rushing water, attributed to the falls flanking the monastery's entrance and even flowing through rows of circular openings on either side of the stone roof, filled the foyer and antechamber with constant sound. Blue flames danced in colossal braziers that lined the damp walkway and circled the pulpit; a round dais situated before an equally round door that led to the cloisters, where only the Priory's chosen were deemed worthy to tread. Indra had been named the next successor to Lirita and Davok's wisdom and soon, she would step beyond that ornate door to embrace that destiny.

    Presently, the final touches were being applied to her last mark; a tattoo that had been earned through The Proving, where her sisters tested her understanding of ancient texts left behind by their ancestors and those that came before them. Women encircled her knelt frame, one carving the tattoo, others wiping sacred, scented oils across her unclothed frame. Once they were finished, two sheer panels of fabric were wrapped around her; one serving as a top and the other as a skirt. She rose on the dais, her tan skin gleaming in the moonlight that shined through the channel in the ceiling above her head, and turned to face the door; the Gods waited beyond it to judge her and she was not afraid.

    Her sisters left her side, their faces and forms obscured by cowls and robes of white and black. The grating sound of stone grinding against stone grew louder than the roar of the water, heralding the revelation of the Cloister of the Final Trial. Within, she could see two artifacts; one that glittered in light and one that slept in darkness. Stepping past her sisters, she entered the meditation chamber and centered herself between the two artifacts, bringing her hands before her in the Priory's hand sign for balance. Then, she knelt once more.

  • #2
    The Infiltrator that bore Layla, Xander, and Atlana tore through the cloud cover in it's descent. The tranquil world of Carrivar, as it was know on a galactic scale, was otherwise left untouched for it's lack of strategic value and distance from the core.

    "Stay with the ship."

    Layla's hand set upon the Twi'lek's shoulder in a brief touch to assure her command, then she spun on the ball of her foot and turned for the main ramp. The ship teetered as it lowered to the surface of the planet, quaking until it's landing struts depressed into the grassy clearing.

    The abbey looked in tact from above, and until they drew near she had expected it vacated. The texts she had procured on it's location had been probably close to a thousand years old, and so he assumption was the religion would pass out of worship and the temple be left as a shall of it's former glory.

    "Kill everyone. The existence of what we find here dies with us."

    The entrance ramp to her ship lowered, her booted feet meeting the grass together. The ground was soft and damp, as well as the cool night air. A chill met the exposed flesh of her abdomen and arms, brought on by the air and her anticipation.

    A scaled skirt, and segmented chest piece sat atop tan wrappings to keep the metal from being too uncomfortable. Her wrapped right hand plucked the lightsaber from her hip, leaving it in tact as a single lengthened hilt.

    "It's a beautiful place. If retirement were for me, this is where I think I would go."

    Yet she still had no qualms about what was to come. Her hand extended to the large opening to the Abbey, casting the doors wide and off their top hinges to sag. A woman ran to her suddenly, her hand reaching up and gathering the Force about her throat and form.

    The woman clutched at her neck, writhing. Layla's eyes passed around the room, people of all ages cowering at the display. None rose up to fight, none would. A crack resounded as the Force snapped the woman's neck, and her form hit the floor in the oddest sort of crumple that would not have been comfortable for a living being.

    Her blade engaged on one end, held out from her side, mercilessly looking on to the sheep set to the slaughter.

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    • #3
      Ever the hunter, Xander descended the ramp in pursuit of his master. Two Sith Knights, one soon to advance among the ranks of the Empire, the other to continue his studies. Black boots sunk into the soft, fertile ground, and depressed with each step as though the ground were a cushion. His arms were bare, feeling the cool of the air as goosebumps dotted upon the exposed flesh. His chest was kept warm, covered by the leather breastplate he was fond of wearing. The scarlet cloth wrapped around his neck ready to pulled up as a hood should it be needed.

      "Understood," the monarch said as he gazed upon the ancient structure.

      This society was about to become history, and Vizios would be the reason. What Neferis was after, that did not matter to him. His directive from her had been clear. Today the king was a butcher, satisfied with the task he had been given. A chance to work with his Master rather than feel she were his rival.

      A smirk stretched across Xander's lips as Neferis took the first life. Twin blades were called to his hands as those who were about to die looked on in horror, shocked to the point of inaction. The slaughter would be too easy. Neferis would have her prize shortly, as Xander cut down two of the sisters in his first motion.

      "A pity such beauty must come to such a gruesome end. They would make fine additions to the King's harem," Xander said more to grate against their innocence than for Neferis to agree.

      Two more fell without much resistance. Blue eyes turned to the Kiffar as she go about her work. Xander was certain he could handle this well enough. A nod was given to her.

      "I shall finish here quickly if you wish to advance to the next chamber."

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      • #4
        As the first deathblow was dealt, Indra lurched out of her meditative state and splayed her tattooed fingers against the stone floor for support. Terror, not her own, filled her core and attempted to steer her concentration toward what could be causing such suffering. Indigo eyes turned to the Dark Artifact, noting that it had piqued when the sensations had begun assailing her. Was this a test, then? The Torasani priestess ground her teeth in frustration and then straightened, determined to fulfill her test; knowing that the others were depending on her to see this rite through.

        Her back straightened and she rallied, splitting her attention between the two artifacts and silently chanting the Principles of the Devout. Light and Dark were both blinding in their own way and eventually, she was forced to clench her eyes shut tight. One side of her face grew incredibly hot while the other was kissed by a frosty breath. Then, it all came to a halt. She cracked open her eyes and took in the room, transformed by the artifacts that had unfurled beneath her resolve. Translucent constellations rotated around the room at a steady pace, four particular points blinking insistently at her. Indra rose slowly and strode through the projection, committing each star, each sun to memory.

        She knew where she must go next.

        She became aware of a presence behind her and she turned sharply, the projection receding and the artifacts becoming dormant once more. So, it had not been a test. The suffering of her sisters had been a very real thing. She waited, ready to face their murderer.

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        • #5
          The only reason she didn’t counter Xander’s reference to the Harem, was because she knew he used it to fuel the Darkside through fear. The strong willed independent woman within her wished to promise the women she would sooner kill them, then allow such a thing.

          “Very well.”

          Leave it to Layla to keep her hands relatively clean and force another individual to do her dirty work.

          The Kiffar Knight moved beyond the throng of women, none of which attempted to impede her progress. When she reached the large stone portal, the two women shrouded in white and black moved to bar her way, pleading with her.

          ”Please! You mustn’t do this…”

          The woman in white began, followed by the other in black.

          …she mustn’t be disturbed while she finds her balance.

          She? Her eyes turned past the two, towards the stone entrance.

          “I’m doing nothing. He’s the one killing your sisters.”

          They both looked past her. She swept both hands outwards, each woman flying in opposite directions.

          Her thumb brushed one of the two activation switches to call the weapon back to it’s heart, moving both hands towards the entrance. The Force focused in, the sound of stone grinding on stone heralded the opening of the doors.

          A large enough space created, she moved forth into the chamber through the narrow passage. Tawny eyes danced around at the star chart, unable to absorb the details before they were shunted.

          Her eyes took the natural fall down towards Indra’s gaze, the only one to bear witness to what had transpired. Her weapon was clipped to her belt, offering a hand forward towards the girl.

          “It appears you have a journey ahead of you. Come, I will see you safely out of this temple, but only if you come with me now.”

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          • #6
            Death, quick and precise. It had not taken long to end the lives of everyone of the women which drew breath in the chamber. Neferis seemed to have handled the two guardians of the chamber well. How like her to ensure no one would be able to discover what they had found this day. Every life gone, except for one. Xander sensed an importance about this one. Neferis would decide her fate.

            "It has been done, my mistress," Xander said telepathically.

            Kneeling in the chamber, he drew upon the darkness which had been created from the fear and death which had just ensued. One with the dark side, Xander attempted to disrupt whatever communion the final female was having with the force. Darkness was all she would know. He would convince her that Neferis was her salvation.

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            • #7
              The grinding of stone and the soft patter of footsteps heralded the arrival of a woman, the scent of death wafting in after her. A pair of indigo eyes narrowed upon her face, an aura of darkness serving as the stranger's cloak. The dark artifact radiated a violet ambiance as the woman drew nearer and Indra slowly turned her gaze upon it, coming to know the woman as a devout strider of Davok's path. Balance had been tainted and the last strains of power in this sacred place swirled around the pyramidal relics at her left and right.

              Rather than accepting the woman's hand, rather than speaking; Indra walked first to the pedestal of light, taking up the vestige of Lirita. The artifact resonated with her purified form, incandescent patterns sweeping up her left arm, around the curve of her shoulder, and down the front and back left side of her body. The sensation was warm, pleasant even. Next, she went to the pedestal submersed in shadows and took up what lay there. Pain, followed by icy numbness. More patterns wove their way across the right side of her body until they could entwine loosely with the gleaming white lines stretching out from her left. The relics vanished from her palms and she, once more, turned her eyes upon the stranger who darkened the sacred Torasani temple; her pupils burning with the radiance of a sun.

              "There is only darkness here, now." She stated, her voice echoing with the whispers of many. She stepped down from the dais, mere inches from the woman now. She did not begrudge her the chaos her presence wrought. No, she understood it with all the wisdom her forerunners had amassed. "I will go with you now. You are right, a journey is ahead of me." She clasped her hand, the light bleeding from her markings until she stood as before. She released the woman's hand and looked past her, beyond the corridor to the final resting place of her people. Their deaths had been... a necessary sacrifice.

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              • #8
                Her tawny eyes turned towards the artifact of darkness. The violet it resonated altered the hue of her eyes briefly, matching that of her markings. She briefly coveted the stone for the power it released, but forced her attention to focus on the girl instead.

                She studied the intricate weave of markings that raced across her barely clothed frame, intrigued at the depths to which she absorbed their power and harnessed it in balance. In spite of it, she felt nothing akin to her own power in the girl, only potential.

                "So there is."

                A darkness she knew she would return to, draw from. Magnified by the events in tandem with a war of dark and light that was kept in a fragile balance and disturbed. It was the most potent form.

                Hands met, and her bare fingers caressed the wrist of the woman, just as the light receded from her markings. Even her psychometry blocked her from viewing the locations she needed to visit, but it was no matter.

                "I will show you our star maps, so you may pinpoint where we need to go first."

                She departed the chamber, heading back to where her Apprentice waited with presumably the girl in tow.

                "We are finished here."

                In her mind, she passed her further warning to Xander.

                Mind yourself with this one. She is not coming with me to be your plaything.

                She knew the ways of Xander all too well. The part of him she could truly not abide very well, given her strong independent streak.

                "Indra, my Apprentice, Xander."

                She introduced the pair, only having Indra's name because of her unique skills. Without turning to the girl, and leading the pair with a few paces ahead, she introduced herself.

                "I go by two names, but given you do not acknowledge dark or light as greater than one another, you may have my name before it all. Layla."

                Outside the abbey, her dagger like ship lay just out of reach, the Twi'lek within witnessing her approach and descending the ramp in anticipation of her return.

                "Atlana."

                The Twi'lek greeted them at the ramp, waiting dutifully for her Master.

                "Aid our guest with the star charts."

                While she chose to observe, it was the Twi'lek who was more versed with the ships entire functions.

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                • #9
                  "I already have a plaything... a mistress. I believe she would protest greatly if I took another the first chance I could get. Loyalty is not something I lack."

                  "Milady," he said with a bow. you may have my living quarters while aboard my master's vessel."

                  Not a word was said about being the one to slay her sisters. His hilts had already been replaced by the time he and his master stepped out. The woman was beautiful, but Xander knew better. Besides there were few, very few, who held the power to actually tempt the King to be unfaithful to his assassin, and fewer still that would be able to accomplish such a feat. No, Xander was not interested in a plaything. If he were, he'd play with his master's slave simply out of spite.

                  Xander opted to set up a cot in the cargo hold for himself while the others took to the star charts. He did not need to know where they were going. His part from here clear. Kill any opposition, and keep the girl alive long enough for Neferis to get what she wanted. Simplicity was a good thing in this case.

                  "Call me if I am needed master."

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                  • #10
                    Introductions were made, her shrewd gaze passing over the man. It was not often that a male happened planetside, having only encountered a precious few who occasionally landed to trade with her tribeswomen. Her head bowed at his polite invitation, feeling the darkness rove off of him; multiplied exponentially by the presence of his 'master'. Who exactly were these people and why had they come to the Priory? She did not feel it was wise to pry at that point in time and so she remained silent, following them to the vessel that awaited some meters away from the temple.

                    Indra paused at the bottom steps of her home, looking over her shoulder at the grounds that had lapsed into silence. There was nothing left for her here, the souls of her sisters moving on to coalesce within Lirita and Davok's wheel of fate. She moved to the ship's ramp, scaling it cautiously while keeping a close gap between the woman named Layla and herself. The alien that awaited there arrival on the ramp caught her by surprise, having never seen anything of her like before. Her gaze trailed over the tendrils tumbling from her crown, her eyebrow lofting in puzzlement.

                    "Fascinating..." She murmured as she stepped past the one Layla called Atlana, pausing within briefly to let the strange looking woman step past her. They entered the hub of the starship and her eyes darted about in wonder. She swayed, moderately overwhelmed. "I... may I... please sit..?"

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