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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:50 pm 
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His body still hurt. He held his hands up, keeping the Protection Bubble in place as more and more rubble fell, some of it piling up on their sides. Some larger pieces, some small, and a lot of dust. He wasn’t sure what happened, but the rumbling stopped, and above them, the light from the temple couldn’t be seen anymore. But still, debris fell, so he kept the bubble.

His eyes were beginning to adjust. He saw Aeris had hurt herself, taking out a piece of something from her arm. He couldn’t see it, but was concerned. He knew he had some bacta salve in his belt, but he would have to wait to help her. Why was he concerned about her anyways? Was it so far out of his realm of possibility to care for a dark side user? No matter what she said, she was still using the dark side, even if it was balanced with the light. If she was even telling the truth. She could be all dark inside--but he always felt he had a stronger connection to her and he felt like she was telling the truth. He wasn’t sure if his feelings for her was clouding his judgement though.

After about a minute, only small pebbles were hitting the protection bubble. He was worn out from the fall and trying to create a big enough bubble for the both of them. He let go of the bubble, and some of the debris on the sides rolled down to them. One rock hit his left shoulder and he screamed. The injury wasn’t from the rock, but clearly he had hit his arm on the way down.

“No, something happened to my shoulder,” he told her. He got up with his right arm, took out his lightsaber and ignited it. The place was bathed in a green glow, which for a moment, Dren realized it made Aeris look exceptionally beautiful, almost like her old self again. He shook it out of his mind. He saw the place around them. The massive piece of ceiling was to the left of them, having settled and wedged into a rock side. What Dren noticed right away was that it didn’t look like they were in the temple anymore. The walls, they looked jagged and naturally formed. The veins weren’t writings, but lines passing through the rock, as if alive. They were brighter here than in the tunnels of the temple. Perhaps they were closer to whatever it was that was making them glow. Dren could only guess.

He felt his left arm, and pain shot up when he touched or tried to move it. He knew immediately what was wrong. “I dislocated my shoulder,” he told her. “Can you help me set it in place? After that yes, I agree, we should move. Then I’ll want to look at your wound.”

He wasn’t sure if she was going to help him, but he had a feeling she would, especially after saving her life. Why did he save her life? He knew the answer. It would have killed him inside to see her die. Part of him was happier not knowing her fate all these years. He imagined she had died, and he mourned for her, but always knew she could be alive as well. This gave him a balance, the ability to push her to the back of his mind, something he had to often do when meditating. Sometimes it was his first though with every meditation. However now that he knew she was alive, it stirred up something in him, and the thought of seeing her die would have given him great sorrow, more than any of his Jedi comrades. No amount of meditation would be able to help now.

He realized that now, in this Sith temple, he would truly be tested...

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:25 pm 
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Aeris frowned when he screamed after his shoulder was hit by a rock. He went on to tell her that something had happened to his shoulder and then got himself up using his right arm. When the green light from the lightsaber lit up the world around them, she looked up at him, wondering briefly what the brief look that flit across his face had meant, but he quickly looked away from her and surveyed the room, so she did the same, deciding not to waste time wondering when there were more pressing matters at hand, such as their current location and the ever-present danger of more debris falling. Where ever they were, it appeared that they were no longer in the temple. They had fallen even farther than the tunnels that ran beneath the temple. This place didn't appear man-made. She couldn't help but wonder where exactly they were.

She broke from her thoughts when Dren spoke, telling her that he dislocated his shoulder. That made sense, all things considered. She nodded when he asked if she could help him set it back into place. "Of course." she replied, forcing herself up on to her knees, despite the aching, burning pain that spread through her body with the movement. She moved herself next to him. "Lie down." she instructed him, her voice surprisingly gentle. She waited for him to do so before sitting next to him. She took his arm gently, "Sorry." she apologized ahead of time. Placing a foot against his chest she took his arm and slowly moved it up until it was at a ninety degree angle and then she slowly pulled on his arm, ignoring the searing pain in her own arm, until she heard it pop back into place.

Once she was finished, she moved to stand up, once again ignoring the pain that spread through her body as she forced herself to her feet. She did her best to hide it, to make it look effortless and graceful as she always did. It was no easy feat, however, and despite her efforts, it was obvious enough, if one paid attention, that it was far from effortless. Nevertheless, she held out her right hand to help him up. "Come on. We should go." she said, looking upward towards the debris above, which was still settling into place.

She helped him to his feet and then closed her eyes, using the Force to visualize everything around her. They were definitely below the temple. After a moment she open her eyes and gestured down one of the tunnels they could actually get through. "This seems like our best bet." she told him as she began to head that way, her pace slow and careful as she walked.

She was quiet at first as they walked and she observed everything around her through the Force, but it wasn't long before she finally spoke up, unable to keep her questions, or rather, the single burning question that lingered at the forefront of her mind, to herself. "Why?" she asked, her voice soft and quiet, almost a whisper. She glanced his way, her eyes showing both hesitation and a bit of confusion. "Why would you save me? Why not save yourself and your friends?" she asked, her eyes searching his in the faint light of the tunnel. "I mean, you just said that I was your enemy. If that's the case, then wouldn't it have been better to just let me die?" She asked, this time looking away to hide the sadness and pain that undoubtedly colored her features.

She was grateful that he had chosen to help her, but that didn't make it any less confusing, and it certainly didn't help the old feelings that seeing him had stirred. She knew it was foolish to let those feelings come back. It had been foolish to allow them then, it was even more foolish now. He was a Jedi, after all. Even if, by some chance, he felt the same way, it was forbidden. It would be forbidden even if she were still a part of his world. But now? Now she was no longer a part of his world. She was a Sith and he was a Jedi. It was impossible. Even more so then it had been so many years before. Yet just like then, she was helpless to stop the things she felt.

In true Aeris fashion, she felt too much and, despite how much more skilled she had become at hiding her emotions, she felt those emotions just as strongly as she always had. Maybe even more strongly.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:35 am 
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Dren laid on his back, a few jagged rocks jutted into his back, but he ignored it. He had more pressing things to focus on, like the pain of her pulling on his arm. She pulled up and he felt his arm snap back in place. The pain from before almost instantly went away, but it was replaced with a dull throbbing. His arm would hurt for a while now, but at least his arm was back in place and no longer in the pain it was before.

He got up and studied the space with the green glow. It wasn’t stable wherever they were. He followed her to the safe space. It looked as if some tunnels were still intact, and that’s where they were headed. He couldn’t argue, and he knew she had the ability to see the space around them. He trusted her, which was strange when he really thought about it.

She asked the question he was just thinking himself. He pondered for a moment as they walked, safe from danger now. He sighed and hesitated for a moment. He looked at her, a pang of sadness on her face. He wondered what it meant. He closed his eyes, “I don’t know. It would have been easier to leave you to die. But I couldn’t do it. It would have-” he let that thought trail for a moment.

He wanted to say what he felt, but knew he shouldn’t. He was a Jedi. He gathered his emotions and decided to say he should say instead. “A Jedi cares for all living things.” He left it at that. He just couldn’t say what was deep in his subconscious. He was afraid of what was there from a long time ago.

They finally reach a safe spot. The red veins were so luminous that he put away his lightsaber. It was curious, because he felt the drop of water on his back, cold as ice, giving him the chills. He could feel the dark side. It was coming from deep in the tunnels, wherever there veins came from. He heard voices, like the wind. It was chaotic, but finally a voice came out of the chaos and said “Come to me Dren--”. Thought it sounded more like a howl of wind than a voice. He wondered if Aeris heard it as well and looked at her.

When he was convinced it was his mind playing tricks on him, he took out the bacta salve from his belt and opened it. “Come on, show me your arm. I’ll fix you up.”

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:41 pm 
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Aeris couldn't help the disappointment she felt when his words trailed off and, in place of his true feelings, he responded with what he should say as a Jedi. The disappointment flit across her features and she looked away, sighing a little to herself. "I see." She responded in a surprisingly level tone, masking the emotions she felt--disappointment, frustration that even now he clung so tightly to the Jedi ways that he couldn't even be honest with her. Or perhaps he couldn't be honest with himself.

She was silent for a time as they walked, her mind mulling over what he hadn't said more than what he had, trying to focus on anything other than the weakness and exhaustion she felt. She knew he wasn't being honest, that much was easy enough to gather even without using the Force. She might have read him, but that was hardly the best use of her strength right now. Instead, she focused her mind on visualizing everything around them through the Force, until they finally reached a place where she believed they would be safe to stop and rest for a while. "This seems like as good a place as any to rest." she finally broke the silence, glancing back at him.

She could feel the dark side around them as though it were in the very air they breathed, even on her skin. She shuddered involuntarily as the cool, damp feeling ran along her skin. She heard something, but it mostly sounded like wind. It was coming from deeper in the tunnels, in the direction they were headed. She glanced to Dren and got the feeling that he had heard or felt something more, but she didn't press him for any answers.

When he told her to show him her arm, she nodded, glancing around and finding a place where she could sit down. She was tired, more so than she wished to admit, and for some reason she felt rather light-headed now that they'd stopped, so she took the opportunity to rest. She sat down and waited until he was next to her before she moved her arm and showed him the wound. The slightly brighter light around them made it appear worse than it had seemed in the dim light, but it wasn't bleeding, so that was what was most important, she guessed.

She sat quietly as she waited for him to start fixing her wound and remained quiet for a short time as he worked, feeling rather exhausted and out of it all of the sudden, before she finally broke the silence, changing the subject from the earlier topic and trying not to focus on the pain and weakness she now felt all over. "Earlier, before we fell, when you said that you wanted to fight for me to stay... Did you mean that?" She asked, her voice soft, barely above a whisper as she looked up at him somewhat timidly. In truth, it was likely difficult to tell whether she were simply being very timid or if she just completely exhausted, or some mix of the two.

"Sorry. You don't have to answer that now if you don't want to." she apologized, her voice even softer, her words almost mumbled as she held a hand to her now aching head and tried to keep her eyes open, forcing her gaze away and looking at anything but him. Why did she feel this way all of the sudden? Why did she feel so drained, as though she might pass out at any moment? Why was it harder to breathe? Why was she cold and sweating all at once? Did she have a fever? Was the wound really that bad? "I don't feel so good." she half mumbled, looking at him through bleary eyes. Her body felt heavy all of the sudden and everything seemed out of focus as her vision slowly faded. "That's not good." she mumbled just before her world went black and her consciousness slipped away, leaving her now limp body to tumble over from where she sat.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:36 am 
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Dren knelt down to level himself with Aeris’ wound. It was caked in blood, but it had partially healed; he guessed because of her powers. However it was still open, and a trickle of blood was coming out. The sleeve was torn already, so he tore at it some more to get to the wound. He held her arm, studying it a bit more. He could feel the warmth of her arm, but ignored it. He took out the bacta salve and rubbed it into the wound.

She asked her question, and he was taken aback. She was asking a lot of questions, and he knew what she wanted to know. She wanted to know how he felt about her. He often wondered as well. He had two opposing forces within him, and he didn’t know how to handle it. He didn’t say anything to her, and she seemed to leave it alone. He was glad she was, because he probably wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear.

Suddenly, she slumped over unconscious, and fell. Dren immediately grabbed her before she hit her head. “Aeris? Aeris!” Dren spoke, propping her upright against the rock. He looked at her. Her skin was pale, her heartbeat was weak and her eyes weren’t open. “Aeris!” he lightly touched her face. He decided to finish the job first, but he needed something to keep the wound clean. Her sleeve was already torn, so he broke it off completely, and wrapped it around her arm, tying it tight. Now to wake her--

He felt it, again-- The dripping on his back-- the voices. The whole world seemed to warp around him and he began to feel dizzy as well. Was he about to fall unconscious too? He wasn’t sure. He saw flashes, a great battle between the Jedi and the Sith, the Jedi discussing the Sith in council with Dren in the middle, Dren’s former master attacking him, Dren kissing Aeris, Dren’s eyes a sickly yellow. He was back in the cave, but what he saw before him caught him by surprise, a female in her early forties, wearing a black robe, holding a red lightsaber. Her face was warped and scared by battle. She looked a lot like Aeris, but not quite. She pointed the lightsaber to him, Dren grabbed his, but he was weak and dizzy.

“Dren, the Jedi are a danger to us all. Embrace the dark side, and be with the one you love,” he told her, looking at Aeris.
Dren tried to get up and swing at the Sith, but his blade went right through her as she exploded into mist. The mist disappeared. Dren, still dizzy, felt the world spinning around him. He turned off his saber, just before falling over—and blacking out himself.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:54 pm 
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Aeris woke sometime later, unsure how much time had passed. As her surroundings slowly came into focus, she recalled the events that had played out before she'd lost consciousness. She felt the back of her head, where she should have hit it, but there was no bump to indicate any sort of impact. Had Dren kept her from falling, then? Dren. She looked around, finding him on the ground next to her. Had he lost consciousness, too? Considering the haphazard way he was lying, she gathered that he likely hadn't simply lied down to sleep for the night, or day, whatever it was.

She recalled the flashes she'd seen in her mind before her consciousness had slipped away and she couldn't help but wonder if he had seen something, too. She wasn't sure if the things she had seen were visions of the future or some sort of trick that this place was playing on her mind. This place was, after all, heavily saturated with the dark side. The very air itself seemed to drip with it. It was quite possible that what she had seen was nothing more than whatever lie in these caves trying to lure her to it, trying to lead her, or perhaps them, into the darkness. It was also possible, although perhaps less likely, that the visions were glimpses into the future. At least a possible future. She thought it likely that if these visions were glimpses into a possible future, they were heavily tainted with the dark side and made to cause fear, anger, pain, or other emotions that may drive one towards the darkness. They were likely some of the worst possible futures available. Perfect tools for the dark side.

Then again, perhaps there was nothing in the future but pain and darkness. Despite everything, however, she did not wish to believe this. She didn't wish to believe that the things she had seen were the only possible futures. No. She would do whatever she must to avoid any such outcomes. She would choose, for now, to believe that there was another option, that there was a future where they could both be happy. At the very least, she hoped that there was one in which he could be happy.

Breaking herself from her thoughts, she looked at her arm, which looked significantly better than it had before. She made a mental note to thank Dren when he woke and then she moved next to him and did her best to reposition him without further injuring her arm. She thought it best to let him rest a little longer, so she did her best not to wake him. He would likely wake on his own soon, anyways.

Once she moved him, she moved to sit a couple of feet away, crossing her legs and closing her eyes. She may have been unconscious for a while, but it wasn't as restful as one might expect, so she decided to meditate until he finally awoke. She took a deep breath, cleared her mind of all thoughts, and began to meditate, allowing her mind to reach out through the Force and feel all that surrounded them. She managed to find all of their companions through the Force before pushing their presence away and focusing on meditating. The dark side was overwhelmingly strong here. It was even stronger than it had been on the surface when she had last meditated. Still, despite this overwhelming darkness, there was still light to be found, however small it may seem. She used this light, drawing on it to revitalize herself, to heal her body and her mind, if only a little.

Meanwhile, all of the rocks and pebbles in the immediate vicinity began to levitate around her. This was, as usual, unintentional, but it took too much of her focus to avoid doing this. Splitting her focus like that would make the meditation less effective. She did, however, pull enough of her focus to avoid levitating Dren along with everything else. It was worth the small loss of focus to prevent accidentally injuring him.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:53 am 
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Dren didn’t remember much of his dream, but he knew what it felt like. It was strong, powerful, determined—it made him feel good. It made him feel like he was unstoppable, and able to do anything. He could love, and hate, and feel a million emotions.

He could see himself as a child. He was in the playground, and a kid was being kicked. Dren ran up to save the boy, but the other boys pushed him to the ground and began kicking him. It was a memory that Dren had tried to suppress through years of meditation, but here it was on the forefront. He could feel it inside of him. He could feel the strength, and the anger, growing.

He let out his hand in front of him and screamed, throwing a force push so strong it pushed the lead boy into a tree, knocking the boy unconscious. That power came to him so easily as a kid. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, and not since. The Jedi made him powerful through the light side, but this was something else. It felt good.

It was anger.

It was strength.

It was power.

Dren woke with a scream—his brow sweating. He looked around and noticed that Aeris had woken up, and he had been propped up against a wall. He wondered how long he had been out. He tried his best to quell his racing heart, and focus on suppressing the anger he felt. He was Jedi—and the dark side wouldn’t tempt him. He needed to meditate, but clearly there were more pressing things. The temple, from the sound of it, began crumbling above them again. It was far enough through the rock that it was only a low rumble—but it meant danger for them and his friends.

“We should get going,” he told her. “The other way is blocked, and down the tunnel might be our best bet.” He would have preferred going away from where this coldness was coming from—where the veins led to—but a small part of him was curious. He got up, clipped his lightsaber, and began walking down the tunnel.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:57 pm 
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Aeris remained in her state of deep meditation until she felt an overwhelming bombardment of emotions, followed by a scream, which jerked her out of her meditation. When the meditation broke, the rocks and pebbles that had been floating around her fell unceremoniously to the ground around them. "Sorry." she apologized when she looked over at Dren. None of the rocks had hit him, so she was thankful for that. She had a slightly worried look on her face as she observed him, however, given the scream he'd let out, the fact that he was sweating, and the emotions she'd felt from him. She thought that he must have been dreaming, but about what? She wouldn't ask, of course. It was none of her business and she didn't think he'd answer even if she asked.

She gave a nod when he said they should get going. She had heard and felt the rumble from above. It was best for them to get moving. The quicker they got going, the quicker they would get out of here. "Yeah. We'll get nowhere going back that way." she agreed. "We have to keep going down the tunnel." She didn't like it, going deeper, towards the cold darkness that seemed to live somewhere in the tunnel, but they had little choice. As he had pointed out, it was their best bet. Still, she had a bad feeling about it. She feared that what she had seen in those visions before may very well come to pass if they lingered there for too long. The darkness here seemed to have a mind of its own, as those it were some living creature writhing about in the tunnels, calling to those who would listen, drawing them to it. But why? To corrupt them? To use them? Or was it something even more sinister? She supposed that there was only one way to find out.

She stood up, picking up her lightsaber from where it sat in front of her and clipping it to her belt before following after him. She was quiet at first, keeping her thoughts to herself as she walked. She used the force to visualize everything around them and to look further down the tunnel, towards their destination. As she looked deeper and deeper, to the place where she had avoided venturing before, she abruptly stopped, gasping as her eyes widened slightly. She tried to pull back but it was too late. She grimaced slightly, gritting her teeth as she fought to pull her mind away from whatever it was that lurked within the depths of the tunnels. She eventually managed it, but it wasn't easy and when she finally managed it, she was sweating and her head was pounding.

She closed her eyes and held her head tightly in her hands for a moment until the pain eased to a dull throb. "That was a bad idea." she half mumbled as she finally opened her eyes as looked at him. She hesitated for a moment before forcing out the words, "We should keep moving," before she forced herself to start walking once again. She felt even more strongly now that the place they were heading was dangerous and she was more reluctant than ever to go, but they had no other choice. It would be worse to allow themselves to be trapped down here for an extended period of time, she thought. It was best to press on and get out of here as soon as they could.

"Hey, Dren?" she spoke up after another brief period of silence. "This may be pointing out the obvious but... Be careful. We can't let our guards down while we're down here." she warned, an unusually serious look on her face.

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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 10:56 pm 
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Aeris seemed to agree in the direction, wondering if she wanted him to go towards the coldness or not. He started to wonder many things—such as, was she the one behind all of these visions and dreams? She was a Sith after all, even if she claimed not to be one. Perhaps she was bringing him to a trap. Perhaps she was the one that made the tunnel collapse.

No, he wouldn’t let his mind go there. She was only showing kindness, despite the actions of her comrades. Dren couldn’t believe that Aeris, the girl he grew up with, would be capable of such deception. Then again, he clearly didn’t know her very well seeing her with sith. The dark side can change a person, and make them deceptive.

As they walked, he couldn’t help but let his mind wander to the recent events. He knew that Sith temples were dangerous places, but this was something else. It was difficult to hold back is emotions, especially after the vivid dreams he had. His body, it felt imbalanced, as if he has just been through a trauma. His heart was racing, his brow was sweating, and he wanted to crawl into a ball and cry. But he remembered the words of his old master, ‘never underestimate the power of emotions. They are your greatest enemy.’ He felt a need to meditate, but the rumbling wasn’t going away, an ever reminder of the dangers they faced.

She told him to be careful. He nodded, agreeing with her. “I think, this place is full of dark secrets, and temptations,” he told her. “The dark side is strong here, stronger than I’ve ever felt before.”

As they went down the tunnel, the veins grew brighter and brighter, until they reached a large opening. It was still cave, naturally made walls and ceiling—but it seemed to have been ordained with statues and decorations of stone. Most of it was worn down considerably—indicating that perhaps water ran through the tunnels for a long time, and centuries had worn them down. How old was this place?

Though the statues weren’t the point of interest. The veins seemed to come out of the walls, like millions of glowing strings of light, leading to the center, a large rectangular box made of thick eroded stone. Dren walked into the room, and it felt especially cold, especially frightening and powerful. He had never felt the dark side so strong. He heard the whispers so loudly. Aeris must have heard them too. If not, then he was truly going crazy.

He looked at the box and asked, “Is that a tomb?”

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 6:28 pm 
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Aeris couldn't help but notice the effects that the dark side was having on him. She could feel it through the Force, just as she could see it written plainly on his face and in his overall physical state. It was taking quite the toll on him. But then, that was to be expected. After all, he served the light. He wasn't used to being so close to the dark side, never mind a dark presence as strong as this one. 

Perhaps due to the fact that she spent years toeing the line between light and dark, resisting giving in the dark side as all of her companions had, she showed less of a reaction than he did. For the most part, her physical state remained the same, save the unusually serious look on her face. Her emotions were relatively calm, all things considered. This darkness was stronger than any she'd felt before, so it was hard to remain completely calm. Still, she thought that he was feeling the effects even more than she was. 

She gave a nod when he responded to her warning, saying that he thought this place was full of dark secrets and temptations. He was certainly right on the mark there. "I think you're right. I've only felt the dark side this strongly in two places. One of which was the tomb of an ancient Sith Lord." She explained before reaching out a hand and touching his hand gently with her own, sharing not only a momentary warmth in the otherwise cool cave, but also a sense of calm. It was an extension of her gift, one that she'd not yet discovered when she'd known him before. But it would offer him at least a little peace and calm amidst all of the other emotions caused by the strong presence of the dark side. It was, ironically, something of a small light in the darkness. 

Just as quickly as she had touched him, she pulled her hand back and started walking again without a word. The only thing that gave away that there was anything going on beneath her otherwise nonchalant expression was the way her fingers that had touched him flexed absentmindedly. She tried her best to ignore the small tingle that lingered on her fingertips and how cool her fingertips now felt in the absence of the momentary warmth his hand had offered, however involuntary it had been. 

She was quiet as they walked and she pushed the thoughts from her mind, trying her best to focus on what was important in that moment. She observed the walls, the statues, everything. It was curious. It was obviously a natural cave, but it had been used by the Sith for some purpose or another. She eyed the rectangular stone box-like thing in the center of the room, then glanced Dren's way when he asked if it was a tomb. She gave a small nod. "Best guess? Yes." She replied before closing her eyes and reaching out to the box, using the Force to feel it, as well as to see into it. 

What she saw was indeed a body, but it didn't end there. Her hands instinctively grabbed her head with both hands as she fell down to her knees. She tried to push it out, but she couldn't, even with her mental strength. Images flashed through her mind of Dren with familiar yellow eyes, images of the two of them fighting, of him dead in her arms, his blood covering her hands and her robes, tears in her eyes. She could feel the pain as though she were living it in that moment, and those tears reflected on her face. The whispers, which she had been trying to keep out now echoed loudly in her mind. "If you continue to resist me, this is the fate that awaits you. Just give in. It will be so much easier if you just let me in." the voice, or whatever it was, whispered. Whether Dren could hear it or not, she wasn't sure.

"No!" She yelled out, pushing it from her mind, letting loose a powerful Force blast as she did. When she finally regained her senses and looked around, she was on her hands and knees, panting, tears still streaked down her cheeks. She didn't even notice that the blast had opened the box, or casket, as it were. "So much for being careful." She half mumbled. Her little distraction earlier had left an opening, a vulnerability that the dark side, or whatever dark presence lurked here, had taken advantage of. She would have to be more careful next time she opened herself up to the Force that way. Even a small distraction could be costly. As evidenced by the scene moments before.

She couldn't help but wonder if what she had seen was indeed the future they faced. No. She couldn't think like that. She couldn't accept such a future. She wouldn't let something like that happen. Nor would he. Even if it was a possible future, she knew that the future wasn't set in stone. It was ever changing. She wouldn't make the mistake that others often made. She couldn't. She couldn't afford to let fear control her, lest she become the cause of that which she feared most.

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He could feel her hand's warmth against his. It was inviting, and a subtle part of him wanted to turn his hand, and intertwine his fingers with hers. He bit it back though. Just more of the emotions coursing through him. He had to quell his feelings and his thoughts. She was dangerous, and so were these emotions. She moved her hand away, and he could only wonder, had she done it on purpose to confuse his emotions? He needed to meditate, but there was no chance to do so.

So it was a tomb. Dren had suspected as much, but the confirmation only gave him anxiety. Yet another emotion he couldn't keep in check. He breathed a few times, trying to quell his heart. He wanted to get out, but to also stay. Two parts of him having a battle in his mind. He wanted the comfort of his quarters back at the Jedi Headquarters, but he was trapped here, in the tomb of a Sith, and with a woman who he felt something for--but didn't know what it was. She was an enigma.

She reached out to the tomb, and he felt the whole room grown dark and cold. Dren began to shiver. He breathed out, and he could see his breath. He heard the voices again, whispers tickling his back. Aeris seemed to be in a trance, and the voices grew stronger. Finally, one voice emerged, "If you continue to resist me, this is the fate that awaits you. Just give in. It will be so much easier if you just let me in." Chills ran down Dren's back.

Aeris screamed and force pushed outwards. She fell to her knees and Dren couldn't help but run to her, and hold her. When he realized how close he had gotten, he let go, and took a step back. He turned and noticed the top of the tomb had been blasted open. He squinted his eyes to see better as it was so dark. Some of the 'tendrils' had been torn off of tomb and were now dangling--their ends dripping the glowing liquid that ran through the veins.

Dren approached the tomb, curiosity getting the better of him. He looked into it and was awestruck. He expected there to be a semblance of a body, decomposed after a few millennia. The tomb was certainly old. So he was surprised to see a perfectly preserved human male, who looked to be dead for no more than a year at most. He was of large build, and supremely tall, and his face was disheveled and scarred. He wore sith garb, but not of a style Dren had seen before. Attached to him were millions of the tendrils that extended from the walls. It was as if the ancient sith was attached to this place, or feeding off of it.

Dren looked over the tomb, studying the body. Like before, the room seemed to grow a few degrees colder, and his breath became even more visible. The tendrils began to pulse, like a raging heart. Dren looked at the body, studying the face--and and two sickly eyes looked back at him. The once dead sith slammed his hand around Dren's neck and sat up. Dren felt the strength of a million rancors crushing his neck. The sith took out a lightsaber he had been buried with, igniting it's red blade, and spoke with a broken voice that hadn't been spoken in thousands of years. "Jedi-" he said with contempt and hate, looking ready to strike.

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Aeris felt the warmth of Dren's arms around her and, for a brief moment, she felt warm and calm, as though everything was right in the world. That feeling, however, was gone as quickly as it had appeared, as Dren moved away from her and she was greeted once again by the cold darkness that surrounded them. She forced herself back to her feet and fought to calm the racing of her heart, her breathing slowly stabilizing. As she regained her composure, Dren approached the casket in the center of the room. The casket was open, she guessed from the blast she'd sent out moments before.

She looked around at the tendrils that fed into the casket, as though connecting whoever was inside to the outside world. But why? She eyed the tendrils that had been cut, their ends dripping with the glowing liquid that they had seen in the caves. A moment later the tendrils began to pulse, almost like a beating heart. She could feel the force pulsing through them and into the casket, into whoever was inside. Her eyes widened as she came to a realization. "We're feeding it." she concluded, speaking more to herself than to him. "Dren, you need to move!" she called out to him, but it was too late.

A hand reached out from the casket and wrapped around Dren's throat before a red blade was ignited inside, followed by a broken voice. "Damn it!" she cursed. What should she do? She couldn't hesitate to act. If she did, he would surely die. But what was she to do? If she used the Force to attack the Sith, she was just as likely to injure him as she was to save him. Nevermind the fact that, at present, she felt particularly drained. She thought this was likely due to the Sith, and those tendrils that were linked to him. That's it! The tendrils! she thought to herself, pulling out her lightsabers and igniting both white blades. She then threw them, using the Force to guide them, cutting the tendrils. She didn't think that this would return him to his previous state, but it would at least cut off his supply of Force energy. At the very least, it should prevent him from further draining them. That meant that she could at least use the Force without worrying about strengthening him further.

Once the sabers had severed each tendril, one returned to her hand while the other flew straight at the hand that was wrapped around Dren's throat. The Sith inside, who was undoubtedly shocked, if not wounded, by the tendrils being severed, had no time to move to block the attack and was forced to release Dren and pull his hand back. She thought this was likely to **** him off, but she could handle that. It was better than leaving Dren in his grasp, or trying to use the Force to wound him in hopes that he would let go and Dren wouldn't be injured in the process. This carried the lowest risk, she thought. At least it carried the lowest risk for Dren, anyways.

She caught the second saber, deactivating both before rushing towards him, using the Force to pull him away from the casket. "Are you okay?" she asked, kneeling beside him momentarily, her concern evident on her face. She examined him for a moment before standing and eyeing the casket, or rather the Sith who was pulling himself out of it. He slowly stood to his full height and eyed the two of them. Aeris watched him cautiously, her face holding a serious, somewhat dark expression.

"What... Are you?" the broken voice of the Sith spoke, "Not Jedi... Not Sith," His broken voice echoed the question that always lingered somewhere in her mind, an ever-present reminder that she didn't belong. "Join me. I will make you the most powerful Sith that has ever lived." he offered in the same broken, hoarse voice.

Aeris could have laughed at the offer, but she didn't. Instead, she ignored his words altogether. "You're Darkenn Pax, otherwise known as Darth Devorer." She stated, recalling information she'd found in the archives of a Sith Lord buried on the planet. It was said that he couldn't be killed, because even if he died, he would rise again and feast on his enemies. She thought it was the likely conclusion, so she made it without hesitation. "You're the one who was calling to us before. The one who made us see those things." She surmised. She paused, her face darkening as she finally answered his previous offer. "I would never join someone like you." she replied in a cold, matter-of-fact manner. "I'd rather die."

The Sith laughed, a dark, twisted, broken sound. It was, to be quite honest, almost terrifying. "You will not die. Not yet. No. Your fate will be much worse." a twisted grin appeared on his face before he stretched out a hand. A moment later the air crackled, charged with the Force. Lightning extended from his fingertips, but it wasn't aimed at her. It was aimed at Dren. She moved without thinking, standing between him and the lightning. Rather than being electrified, however, she held out her hands and effectively gathered the lightning into a sort-of ball, which she then directed back his way. The blast momentarily stunned him, long enough for her to ask Dren, "Are you okay?" before the Sith sent another blast of lightning, which she met with her own, filling the room with a loud chorus of crackling and sizzling.

"I don't know how long I can keep this up." she spoke to Dren, her voice strained and just loud enough for him to hear over the crackling, but not loud enough for the Sith to hear. She was tired. More than she wanted to admit. This place had already taken so much out of her. She didn't think she had it in her to win this fight. Not in this state. She would sure as hell try, for his sake, if not her own, but whether or not there was truly any hope of her winning, she wasn't sure.

She wanted to tell Dren to run, to save himself. She thought she could hold the Sith off long enough for him to get away. But then what? How would he get out of the caves? Where would he go? Their only hope to win was to work together. She didn't want to risk his life, but it seemed like there wasn't much of a choice. It would be illogical for her to throw her own life away trying to give him a chance to escape when, for all they knew, there was no escape. Their best chance, his best chance, was for them to work together. At any rate, she didn't think he'd run even if she told him to, so it was pointless to even think about it.

"You could have joined me. Instead, you will both die. You can't keep this up forever, and when you fail, you will both die. First the one you love, then you. And then... you will fuel my return to this world." he grinned, a sick and twisted sight.

Aeris clicked her tongue and glanced back at Dren. "Got any bright ideas?" she asked, hoping he would have something. After all, the Sith was right about one thing. She wouldn't be able to keep this up for much longer.

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Dren could feel the crushing weight of the Sith's grip around his neck. He couldn't breath, and his head grew light. The Sith did more than that, he fed Dren images of hate. It was as if the Sith lord was speaking to Dren through emotions, and testing Dren to see what side he was on. He could hear the whispers again. He was trying to tempt Dren while trying to kill him, a full out assault. He was losing air, and losing consciousness--

Suddenly a lightsaber flew in between the Sith and Dren, and Dren's neck opened up. Just as swiftly he was pulled back with the force, where he landed one his side and began coughing for air. His throat coarse and broken. He took a moment to answer Aeris in saying "I'll be fine," not entirely sure himself. He still gasped for air but his neck felt swollen, and he felt for it, wondering if anything had been broken. Nothing as so far, but he was certain it would show bruising.

All the while Aeris held back lightning, keeping it in a ball that grew ever bigger with every passing moment. Dren was still trying to get his bearings, and turned his head. Was running an option? Dren noticed another tunnel on the other end of the tomb. Where did it lead? Dren wasn't sure they would even get past the Sith, but running back was a dead end. What would happen when Aeris ran and let go of the ball of energy? Too many uncertainties, too risky.

The only option he could think of was only one step in the plan, to stop the sith's attack, to save Aeris for a breif moment. At the very least then Dren could wait to see what to do next. Dren ignited his lightsaber and screamed as he lunged at the Sith, coming down with a swing. The Sith stopped his attack and held out his hand, catching Dren's lightsaber with the force.

"You irritate me--a fly that needs to be swatted," the Sith spoke, almost coughing. He pushed Dren back, levitating him in the air, then turned his hand. Dren was shot upwards to the roof of the cave as if blasted with a ton of water up against the rock. He was pinned, and struggled to get out. Then the Sith took his other hand and pushed at Aeris, doing the same as with Dren, but pushing her against the cave wall.

The sith put his hands down, he didn't need to use them to pin Aeris and Dren. "My name is Darth Devorer, I am the rightful Conqueror of these worlds, I corrupt the weak, I devour the strong, and I will reign again. When I am at full strength, no one will stop me, not even the Jedi." The Sith lifted his hand and levitated a plate of armor adorned with drawings of great battles off of one of the statues, followed by a mask made of straight lines and few features, and he placed them upon himself.

Dren closed his eyes, trying to ignore the pain. He had one last move, and he hoped it was a good one. He felt the ground above him, noticing the cracks, feeling the weakness. This place was ready to fall just like the temple had above them. It just needed a nudge. He felt the rocks, and with all of his strength, he pulled, and pushed, and vibrated the rocks right down to their very molecules. He called upon the strength of all the Jedi, focusing all of his power, stronger than he had felt before. He could feels the rocks moving. The rumble grew loud, louder than before. He opened his eyes, the Sith was focused on fastening his armor, making it fit just right, and placing his mask upon his face--which made him look like a monster.

A small rock fell, but the Sith paid little attention. Then a bigger. Then a cascade of rocks fell next to the Sith, and it was enough to break his attention, dropping both Aeris and Dren. Dren landed with a thud, but got onto his knees. Dren reached out with his hand to pull at a mass of rocks from the ceiling, dropping it on the Sith. With the strength that exuded from the Sith, Dren doubted it would do little to him--but at least it was a distraction. He turned to look at the tunnel at the other end, the way was clear. Then he turned to Aeris.

"Run!" he screamed.

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Aeris wasn't sure what to think when Dren rushed the Sith, but she could only assume, or at least hope that he had a plan. The Sith stopped his attack with seemingly little effort, although it broke his concentration long enough to end his onslaught on her. He levitated, throwing him up against the ceiling and pinning him there. Aeris turned the ball of lightning she'd gathered on the Sith, who barely managed to deflect it, sending it crashing into the wall, causing the whole cave to shake violently. He then threw her back against the wall, which she didn't bother to try to stop. She used the Force to cushion the impact just a little, although it still knocked the breath out of her.

It was hard for her not to react, to fight back, but she needed to save her strength for the moment and trust in whatever Dren's plan was. She could feel the ceiling shaking above them, which could have been attributed to the ball of lightning from before, but she thought it was more than that. She thought that it was possible, perhaps even likely, that Dren was responsible, so she remained vigilant, waiting for what was to come. Waiting to spring into action as soon as she got the chance.

As the rocks began to fall, she prepared herself, and when the Sith lost his concentration and thus his hold on them, she dropped to the ground, landing rather more gracefully than Dren had. She spun on her heels and ran as Dren turned to her and called out. She didn't hesitate, even for a second. She couldn't. She trusted that Dren would be right behind her, so she focused on the path ahead, using the Force to reach out, to try to find an exit.

The moment Dren caught up to her she eyed him with a sidelong glance and held out a hand. "Do you trust me?" she asked, waiting for him to take her hand before she used the Force to augment her speed, taking him along with her as she rushed toward the exit she saw through the Force. She never stopped, never hesitated. Behind them she could hear the angry roars of the Sith, which shook the tunnels around them, enough so that the tunnels began to collapse on themselves in the places where they were already weakened.

They were going fast enough that they would make it out, if only barely. She took advantage of the fact that the tunnels were no longer structurally sound, using the Force to pull the ceiling of the tunnels down behind them as they exited the cave, effectively collapsing the exit. It would at least be enough to slow him down. From there she continued for a few more seconds before she couldn't continue anymore and was forced to slow to a stop.

She almost immediately dropped down to her knees, her legs giving out beneath her. She was just about spent. She hadn't had much left in her to begin with. She was sleep deprived, injured, and that thing had fed on her life force, taking away much of what little strength remained. Whatever she had left she had used to get them out of there and try to delay the Sith. She only hoped it would be enough to buy them some time to recover. She thought that they would have some time, considering the fact that he remained in the chamber where they had found him, which led her to believe that, at least for the time being he was trapped there. For how long, she wasn't sure, but she hoped it would be long enough for them to rest and recover. If he caught up to them sooner rather than later, she wasn't sure that the outcome would be in their favor.

"I'm sorry. I can't keep going." she apologized to Dren, looking at the ground rather than at him. "I just... don't have anything left to give." she spoke in a weak, clearly exhausted voice.


Darth Devorer screamed as his prey escaped his grasp, disappearing into the tunnels. He couldn't follow them and that angered him. His anger was a palpable force, shaking the caves around him, bringing the ceiling down in some places where it was already weak. He wanted nothing more than to find them and make them pay for their insolence, but his body was not yet complete. He was not yet fully alive. Even if he were physically complete and able to pursue them, his connection to the Force was weaker than it once was. At least for now. Force sight and sense were never his strong suits, but now he was disconnected. The Force resisted him, perhaps due to the fact that he was still not fully alive. He couldn't reach out into the Force, into the living things around him and seek his prey. For now he was trapped in this place, until he could consume enough energy to complete his rebirth. When the process was complete, however, he would find them. He would make them pay.

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Dren ran as fast as he could, till his legs were on fire, and then kept going. He tried to use the force when he could, but it was as if being near this Sith was draining him. Tearing the ceiling down was straining enough, but he could feel the Sith drawing in the energy. He realised that the Sith was feeding off of the force, and using it around him might not be wise. Perhaps that's how he woke, from the Jedi and Sith fighting in the temple above--it brought him back. He was weak though, at least from the state he was originally in. Still, the Sith could crush Dren's neck, or pin him to a wall with ease.

Aeris was a few paces ahead, and Dren tried his best to keep up. He turned quickly, and saw the Sith's eyes begin to glow an unnatural yellow and red. His veins began to glow like the veins that ran through the temple. More importantly, his body began to trail black mist--much like the black mist Dren had encountered earlier. Was it all tied to this Sith? Was he the one Dren had senses this whole time? The drips of cold, the feeling of unease--but then who was the woman who looked like Aeris that he saw in the tunnel? Perhaps it was Aeris herself from the future, perhaps it was a relative, perhaps it was a Sith that looked like her, or perhaps he was just seeing things. Too many questions.

Perhaps he was going over too many things in his head, and as a result he let his guard down. He felt his feet fall behind him, and saw the Sith was trying to pull Dren back. Dren scurried back up but he felt the force pulling at him. Dren screamed, turned, and blasted a force push against the Sith. The Sith flew back, but his veins glowed with a brilliance--the force was feeding him. Dren had to stop. He turned and ran, gaining his distance again.

He finally reached up to Aeris, the Sith just a few paces behind, screaming. She asked him "Do you trust me?" He had little time to think. He could go over the ways he shouldn't trust her--but she had many opportunities to kill him, and she's only tried to save him. He grabbed her hand, and nodded. "I trust you." She helped propel him forward with the force.

As he reached the end of the cave entrance, Aeris brought the front down, and collapsed. Dren instinctually dropped to his knees and held her, to keep her from falling further, even hurting her head. This time he didn't let go. "I have you," he told her softly. He knelt down and looked at her, his heart raced a bit. He looked to the cave tunnel. It was covered completely, but he wondered how long it would hold the Sith. Dren's legs were burning too, but if Aeris hadn't helped him near the end, he would have been spent too--and possibly taken by the Sith.

BOOM! A loud rumble came from behind the rocks. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It was as if the Sith were hammering at the rocks with a massive Ship. But the Sith stopped, and screamed. The screamed turn to a blood curdling screech and it then turned into something not of this galaxy. A million voices screaming, melded into a loud crack of thunder from in the cave--and the screaming went away.

Then there was silence.

Dren turned to Aeris, realising he was holding her hand. He swallowed hard, and removed his hand, and placed it on her shoulders to help steady her. He asked the obvious, "Who--or what was that thing? How could someone dead come back alive again? What have we unleashed?"

Dren made sure she wasn't going to fall and got up. He looked around and noticed the frightening claw trees from earlier, and the blood red light that covered everything. The ominous surroundings did nothing to ease his fear. He wondered how far they were from the temple now, and how far they were from his ship. Did anyone make it out alive? Was he and Aeris all alone to face this menace? Was it wiser to search for his comrades, or take the ship and gather the Jedi for a search and rescue? He didn't know, but first they had to assess what was going on.

He knelt back down to her, placing his hand on her shoulder. When he realised where his hand was, he let go. "Are you okay to move for a bit, or do you need to stay here? I want to check on the temple and see if anyone made it out alive."

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Aeris was grateful that Dren took her hand without question, telling her that he trusted her and allowing her to help him move forward at the same speed she was moving. Once they were out of the cave she involuntarily collapsed to her knees. She was afraid that she would hit the ground rather hard, as she had no strength to prevent her fall, but she was surprised to find a pair of arms around her, holding her and preventing her from falling further. She let herself sink into his arms, partially because he was warm and she found it comforting despite herself, and partially because she had no strength to resist.

Her vision blurred as waves of exhaustion crashed over her, reminding her just how little strength she had left. She almost felt like she was drifting away, but his soft words and the warmth of his arms gave her something to focus on, to keep her from letting go and giving in to the exhaustion. She looked up at him, her eyes fighting to focus on him as he looked down at her before looking to the caves. Her eyes didn't follow his to the cave, even when the loud BOOM! came from the caves. She looked that way then the scream echoed from within the caves. It was a scream unlikely any other she'd ever heard. Almost like a million voices screaming all at once, until they all melded together into a crack almost like thunder. And then there was silence.

She looked to Dren when the silence fell, realizing that they were holding hands. She wasn't sure if he had taken her hand or the other way around. Either way, truth be told, she didn't want to let go. Regardless, she released it grudgingly when he slowly released hers. He placed his hand on her shoulder and asked about the Sith they had left behind. He asked many questions, all valid. She wasn't sure she was the best one to answer them, but perhaps he didn't expect her to. She would tell him what she knew, but it wasn't honestly that much. "His name is Darth Devorer. He lived hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, from what I can tell. He was known for his ability to leach the Force from those around him, as well as from the world around him, although the latter is less effective. It was said that he couldn't die, because even if he died, he would return and devour his enemies." she explained, her voice somewhat weak as she spoke.

"Evidently he found a way to channel his power to consume the Force, allowing him to focus that energy into a sort of intensive healing process. If he had the opportunity to use that ability, he could be saved from death's door, restored in a matter of hours. To my knowledge, his ability to actually revive, to come back from the dead, was never tested. Evidently it takes a great deal of Force power to actually revive him. Feeding off of the environment likely wouldn't be enough to actually revive him. When we showed up, using the Force like we did, he fed on that, as well as our life force. We gave him the power he needed." she explained with the same weak voice. "We released a monster. A terrible monster who will not willingly give up his newfound life." she sighed lightly. "That's about the extent of what I know."

She wondered if the others were still alive. If they were, did they know the horrors that had been unleashed? Did they know the enemy they would soon face? She, too, wondered what the wisest course of action was. It was hard to know without figuring out what exactly was going on. They would need to do some kind of reconnaissance soon. She would use the Force to try to search for the others, but right now she didn't think she had it in her to do that. She was just about spent, mentally and physically.

She looked at him when he knelt down next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, wondering if she'd ever get used to that touch. She hesitated to answer his question when he asked if she was okay to move for a bit, or if she needed to stay. She didn't honestly know if she had the strength to move right now. She felt exhausted. Still, she thought that they should move. He wanted to check out the temple, rightfully so, and she didn't want to stay here alone. She would just have to try. "I don't know, honestly. But I'll try to move. I doubt I'll last long, though." she answered, deciding to be honest rather than trying to act tough.

She didn't think she'd ever felt this drained. Her muscles screamed and every movement she made as she tried to get up was intentional. She forced herself to stand, ignoring how weak and strained her muscles felt. She would need to take some time to rest, sooner rather than later, but she would at least try to make it work for now. For him.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:38 pm 
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As she told him the terrifying reality they were facing. He nodded, realizing his initial thoughts were right. "So it was when we fought in the temple, using the force, that it fed into him. Those moments in the tunnels as well," he paused, contemplating. "How do you defeat a foe who is more powerful than you in the force, without using the force?" He put it in a question like the many riddles that his master would always ask him as a Padawan. A riddle, perhaps, that didn't have an answer. He nodded, as he came to the realization. Dren got up and told her, "we have to stop him. Whatever it takes."

He looked at her. It was as if that connection they once shared was slowly coming back. He could feel what she was feeling, and it wasn't good. She was weak. He knelt back down to her, looking into her eyes. He forgot how easy it was to get lost in those eyes, like an endless sea of beauty. He swallowed hard. He wanted her to stay--but also feared that Darth Devorer would find another way out. He didn't want to leave her out of his sight--which was strange as he still wasn't sure he could trust her. She gave no reason to not trust her--but she was Sith, or at least associated with them. Why wasn't she siding with this Sith? He hated how his mind worked. He just wanted to trust her.

But what about the others? "You tell me you're Grey, but your comrades--they're Sith are they not? Given the chance, would they join with this Darth Devorer?" The thought had just come to his mind, and it made him sick to the stomach. Assuming anyone was still alive, it was a frightening thought to face more than just one Sith. Especially if his own comrades were dead.

He grabbed her arm, and placed it around his shoulders. He pulled her up, holding onto her, helping her to walk. The temple entrance, as far as he could tell from a pathway made of stone, was up the hill they faced. He pushed forward and helped her every step of the way. When she couldn't move he tried to carry her even more, but let her walk when she could. It was because she saved him that she was in this state, so he wasn't about to just leave her.

As they reached the top, he placed her down against one of the statues and observed the temple. His heart sank. What once stood was monumentally great, but was now just a massive hill of broken ruble. It would take decades to dig through it all. Just then, a small rat-like creature popped it's head through a hole in the ruble. It looked around, snarled at Dren, then ran back in. Perhaps there was a way. Dren ran to the side of the ruble and saw a small hole. He placed his hand into it, and pulled. The small hole became bigger--but it was still small. He studied it. Despite how small it was, it might be big enough.

He turned to Aeris. "It's a tight fit," he told her. He could feel the connection, a glimmer of it. He could feel her pain and struggle, and he instinctually placed his hand onto her cheek, feeling her warm and soft skin. His worry not only extended to his Jedi comrades, but now to her as well. She had saved him--and she was his friend; he didn't want to over-analyze it. "I want to go in an check if anyone survived. I don't know if I could carry you in. Are you able to join me, or do you need to rest?"

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Aeris stared up at the red sky as Dren contemplated how they would defeat this new foe. "That... is a very good question. One that I..." she paused, correcting herself, "we will figure out. But for the moment, we have more pressing issues." she reminded him, watching as he stood, telling her, with the conviction she had come to expect from him, that they had to stop him. She smiled weakly, but fondly, at him. "We will." she replied, returning her gaze to the sky, reminding herself of all the worlds that lie beyond the horizon, out of sight. "We can't let him leave this planet. If he does, who knows what kind of havoc he will wreak on the galaxy." she said in a significantly more serious tone. "I won't let that happen." she added, this time in a much softer, but equally serious voice.

Her gaze flit his way to meet his brown eyes, still colored with a hint of gold, which she swore was more visible than it had been the last time she'd seen him. Why did he have to look at her with those eyes? It made things even more confusing than they already were. She could see, and feel what he did, including the fact that he wanted to, but didn't yet trust her. Not fully, anyways. She supposed she still couldn't blame her. She hadn't given him any reason not to trust her, but he still had no reason to believe he could, aside from the fact that she had made no effort to kill or harm him, and every effort to protect him. Perhaps he thought she had some ulterior motive, or that she was trying to manipulate him somehow, although she wasn't sure what he thought she would gain from doing so.

He spoke once more, breaking her from her thoughts. She inwardly winced a little at his particular word choice, which made it seem as though he still doubted that she was, in fact, grey, although she didn't really know what she had expected. But he brought up a good point, one that she had considered and one that she didn't have a good answer for. "They are Sith, yes. As for whether or not they would join him if given the chance, I don't honestly know. I doubt Jax would, but perhaps if the motivation is right. Titus would probably join. Rixar is hard to predict, and the other two would probably depend of the motivation." she explained, shrugging a little. "Who knows. They might surprise me. But I don't have it in me to hope for that."

She stood when he put her arm around his shoulder and helped her up. "Thanks." she thanked him before falling silent as he helped her walked. She did as much as she could, but sometimes her body simply wouldn't cooperate the way she wanted and he had to help her out even more. She hated feeling this weak. She hated to be in such a state to begin with, but being so weak in front of him was even more frustrating. She knew it couldn't be helped and he understood why, so he wouldn't think less of her for it, but it was still frustrating for someone who was so used to showing no weakness and doing things all on her own, by her own strength.

She was thankful for a moment of rest when he placed her down against a statue. The temple had been reduced to nothing more than a pile of rubble. It was sad to imagine how much knowledge had likely been lost beneath all of that rubble. Still, what was worse was the fact that it effectively blocked the typical entry points. Never mind that the fate of their companions was presently unknown. They found a little hope, however, when the rat-like creature showed itself and, subsequently, revealed a hole, which Dren managed to enlarge at least a little. It was large enough for her to fit through without a problem, although it wouldn't be spacious by any means, but it would be a tight fit for him.

She looked from the hole to him and nodded when he told her it would be a tight fit. She inhaled sharply when he unexpectedly touched her cheek with his hand. It was a welcomed surprise, although it left her with more conflicting feelings, but a surprise nonetheless. She gently placed her hand over his, enjoying the warmth and comfort the simple contact brought. "You shouldn't touch me like this..." she spoke in a soft voice, barely above a whisper. There was a hint of a sad smile of her face, which wore a pained expression, and her eyes gave away how hard it was for her to say those words, and how conflicted she felt about them. "You might get my hopes up." she added the words in explanation for the previous comment.

She knew this was probably not the best time for these feelings. In fact, it was quite possibly the worst time for them. Still, she couldn't help the feelings that had bubbled to the surface since she'd first seen him again, nor the feelings that were reawakened by such a simple touch. She wished she could. It would be easier if she could put them aside, at least for the time being. It wasn't like she was opposed to feeling that way toward him, regardless of whether or not it was a good idea in general. She just wished it didn't hurt so much. It just made things so incredibly confusing. She didn't know how it was possible to feel so happy, yet so sad all at once. She wondered... was it hard for him, too?

She snapped from her thoughts when he spoke again, saying he wanted to go in and check for survivors, asking if she was able to join him or if she needed to rest. 'I should stay here and rest,' was what she should have said. Instead, the words that came out were, "I'll join you. I think I'll be okay for a little longer." She didn't really know why, but she didn't want to be left behind. Or, perhaps more accurately, she wanted to stay by his side. She would need to rest soon, but she would keep going for as long as she could. It occurred to her that pushing herself too much right now would only hurt her later on, but she ignored that thought. They had things that had to be done, and she didn't want to be the one to slow things down. She could rest once they found the others, assuming that they were still alive and not in the mood to fight.

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She spoke her words, soft and gentle. He had hardly realized he was touching her cheek like that. Yet they lingered, and he wondered--and he got lost again in her eyes. He didn't want to get her hopes up--but what about his hopes? He was a Jedi, and his mind went to the Mantra. 'There is no emotion, there is peace' and 'there is no passion, there is serenity.' At that moment, as if he were trying to keep a trapped beast inside, he could feel emotion, and he could feel passion--all for her. It was dangerous. He could feel stronger connection than he had before. Something happened in that tunnel--he could feel not just her--but the Sith. He closed his eyes as if to cut the connection they were sharing, and it was all the pain in the world to remove her hand from the kiss of her skin. He breathed in and out. All he could tell her to her 'hope' comment was simply, "Sorry."

She seemed alright to go in, but he wondered if she was telling the truth. Though part of him had hoped that she would be able to join him--and part of him hoped she would stay to rest and to keep him less distracted. Having her around was keeping his mind muddled. He got up and walked to the hole. "I'll go first, and see if the coast is clear. Follow me down when I give the all clear."

He reached the hole, and knew it would be tight. He wanted to go feet first so if there was a drop, he would be able to land it. He sat on the edge of the hole, and looked at Aeris one last time, before going down. He pressed his arms and legs against the side, carefully wiggling down the hole. He made sure to hold on lest he slip and slide down. It took a good few minutes to reach a point that felt like a surface. It seemed he was trapped, but there was another piece of ruble in the way, and he pushed it aside.

He looked, and saw that there was a hallway, and most of it was still intact. Statues lined the walls. Sith really loved their statues. Yet many had fallen, and old drapes of flags and houses were torn and disintegrated. Debris had fallen everywhere, but they at least had a way in. "Alright it's clear!" Dren yelled up into the hole. "Come on down, I'll be down here just in case, ready to catch."

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Despite her words, Aeris never removed her hand from his as she stared back at him, her eyes searching his and she tried to decide exactly what he was feeling, what he was thinking. The former wasn't too hard to figure out, as she could read his feelings like second nature, even in her present state. The latter, however, was more difficult. She felt a tinge of regret when he removed he broke the contact, pulling his hand back. She had essentially told him to do so, mostly because she didn't want to get her hopes up if it meant nothing, or if it didn't matter whatever it meant because he would always choose the Jedi. She let her hand drop to her side, averting her gaze when he apologized. She didn't answer, she didn't know how to. Instead she sat in silence for a moment, unconsciously fidgeting with the hand that now felt cold in the absence of his warmth.

"Yeah, sure." she replied when he said he was going down and that she could follow when he gave her the all clear. She watched him go down feet first, still wrestling with her own mind. No. She couldn't do this now. She needed to focus. There were more pressing issues right now. She couldn't let her emotions get the better of her. Who knew what kind of mess that would end up in if they didn't focus.

She moved close to the hole and sat down on the edge of it, taking the time to rest while he made his way down the hole. It took a few minutes for him to finally tell her she could come down. That was fine, though. It was more time for her to rest her body and prepare for what was to come. It was far from the rest she needed, but it would have to do for now. When he did finally tell her it was clear, she moved so that her feet dangled in the hole. "Okay. I'm coming down." she warned him before wriggling her way into the hole. She had a little space to move, so she took her time, managing to descend slowly at first. She was careful to hold on as she wriggled down, until the unstable walls of the hole gave way under the pressure of her arm. It messed up her balance making it so that she had to hold on with only one arm to keep from sliding down. It was no use, though. Her muscles were tired and this was more effort than it was worth. She was wasting energy. Dren was waiting at the bottom, right?

After a brief moment, she let go and let herself slide the remainder of the way down. Once she reached the bottom she slipped out landing on her feet, but unlike her usual graceful landing, her legs gave way beneath her and she fell forward, landing securely in Dren's arms. "Sorry." she immediately apologized, looking away to try to hide the hint of red that colored her cheeks. "Thanks." she proceeded to thank him for not letting her fall on her face. She slowly moved away, trying her best to calm her racing heart. She didn't know why she suddenly felt this way. It wasn't like he was holding her because he wanted to. It was just to keep her from falling. There was no need for her to feel embarrassed, or for her heart to run away like that.

She reminded herself of those things as she pulled herself away, guessing that he wouldn't want to her linger too long. She then looked around her, trying to distract herself. There was a hall that seemed mostly intact, with walls lined with statues, as was common in Sith temples. After all, Sith tended to be rather self-centered, so they rather liked their statues. "I guess we're going this way?" she glanced back at him. It was the only real choice they had. "I feel the presence of others not too far away. I don't want to push myself too much, so I don't know who they are or how many, but someone is alive, and it's not the Sith." she informed him, trying to give some small hope. She wondered, though, who they would find first, his companions or hers? And how would they respond? Would they attack whoever wasn't a part of their group? Or would they recognize that there was a greater threat facing them right now than each other? She supposed that only time would tell. She hoped they would be rational enough to see the benefit of working together, and the folly of fighting each other, but she wasn't sure that would be the case. Jedi and Sith tended to have a rather strong hatred of one another, and not everyone had the rationality to put that hatred aside for the greater good. Perhaps, though, they would do so for their own survival.

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