This recording starts with the Dark Lord striding down a hallway, his burning eyes only offering the recorder a sideways glance.
"At last some palpable progress," the he starts with a rare edge of excitement present in his cold voice. "Darth Saizen took the bait and returned from his self-imposed exile. What I have already learned from watching and feeling him wield the hunger in a controlled manner has granted me more insight than knowledge bestowed by holocrons or recordings ever could. I am of course not blind to the danger having him around presents, but he desires something from me as well, so as long as I can keep his interest the control I have yearned for should be obtainable. With that I can start draining life from others to counter-act what the degradation is doing to my body. Alas, I have no time for a longer record as of now. I shall attach the a recording of our meeting to this file, so that I might preview it later."
The recording stops and another begins...
You find yourself looking down on the Lord Summit room on board Atrum's Wrath. Iradox sits with his back to you at the end of a long table, wrapped in his black robes. Up ahead blast doors part and two figures enter. As they draw nearer you can make out one as a short young man clad in black robes, hood obscuring his facial features. The other, a black clad man with blades adorning his outfit, strides purposely towards the desk. Upon reaching it the black robed youth bows his head and steps off to the side. The other more ominous looking figure pauses momentarily before inclining his head ever so slightly in a strained display of respect. A brief silence follows, the Dark Lord presumably studying them both, but you wouldn't be able to tell due to the ankle of the camera. Finally Iradox rises, his black robes swaying in sync with his movements as he straightens to his full height.
"Darth Saizen," the Dark Lord greets, his cold voice distorted by the rebreather covering the lower part of his face. "I have longed to meet you for some time. Reoul told me quite a lot about you." Iradox extends his right arm, his metallic claw emerging from inside his long sleeve to indicate a chair to his immediate right. "As a matter of fact, Athaven sat right there. I offer you the same seat for these proceedings."
Saizen remains where he is for a few lingering moments after being addressed. His shrouded head tilts somewhat, as if his mind is drifting elsewhere.
"Ah, yes, Reoul... there you are..." He murmurs. "You have longed to meet me? So have many that listen to the Chiss, or worse, this pup". He leers, gesturing to the young man standing off to the side. "Many regret their haste in such longing. Do you think you'll regret it, Darth Iradox?"
Saizen slowly makes his way around the table, trailing a bony, frail finger over its surface, before coming to a stop before the appointed seat. Only then does his face turn to regard Iradox. From the subtly shifts in the folds of Iradox' hood, one can assume that his face turns to follow the other Dark Lord as he moves around the table.
"Depends on how reasonable you are,"" sounds the cold reply. Iradox glides back into his throne-like chair, his hand and claw claiming their places at the end of either armrest. "If you are here to make an enemy I suspect our clashing shall be prove interesting. Might even serve as a good example to those weaklings in in the broken Empire who believe themselves Sith. Only..." A thoughtful pause. "I do not care to instruct them; their weakness and stupidity is their own issue. I care for the reason why I invited you here and that was not to simply sate my curiosity."
Saizen slides into his seat.
"Intriguing... I had expected to come here and be inundated with rhetoric and half thought-out reasons to return to the fold, and yet it would appear you loathe those false Sith... perhaps as much as I do." He says in a voice barely more than a whisper, though full of contemplative glee. "Oh, I do not doubt that one day we will clash, it is all too apparent to me that our paths are destined to intertwine until one dominates the other... but that is not yet our destination, is it?" He muses aloud. "If you think to find me reasonable, then I daresay you haven't paid attention to the Chiss, or to Cylden. But a Sith of your stature knows that one does not reach such heights by compromising and pandering to ego..."
The black robed youth has followed the conversation closely and now edges closer, his attention predominantly focused on Saizen.
"Then we are on the same page." The Dark Lord lifts his claw, sharp talons unfolding in a gesture. "I did contemplate having you assassinated, but as your senses tell you there is no trap lying in wait. Primarily because I concluded that you would not be foolish enough to carry the knowledge I seek with you. Thus sorting this with violence would be very counter-productive to my purpose. Therefore we are here, talking."
Saizen starts chuckling, a chuckle that turns into a leering, derisive laughter, bony fingers clutching the armrests of the chair.
"Whatever knowledge you are seeking, is firmly locked in here." He sneers after he finally compose himself, raising a hand and tapping a finger against the side of his head. "I have not yet decided whether to commit my knowledge to fanciful artefacts... there is a charm in collecting them, as it is apparent you are wanting to do, but they are so easily stolen, and with patience, even the most undeserving of Sith can access their secrets... So you are twice as wise in your ignorance, to not attempt to have me killed. But let us discuss you..." He muses, levelling a bony finger at the black robed figure, bones audibly crackling as it outstretches. "You conceal yourself from me... whether by habit, or because of my estranged students have warned you of my sight, I cannot say... but it goes beyond that... shrouded in the opulence of this room, why, I imagine even your bile and venom are being reserved so as not to offend me unduly... why? Who are you, Iradox?"
In a slow deliberate movement Iradox leans forward, talon and hand raising to shape a pyramid with the apex of their fingers and talons. His golden eyes pierces over the apex of the structure like two blazing suns.
"Already I can tell why you are used to getting your way, and why it may have felt natural for others to follow along with you when you so expertly claim control of the situation, and move it in a direction of your choice." Index finger and talon thump against one another: Thump... Thump... Thump... "I am not most people," the cold and metallic voice stats bluntly. "You came here in person because you caught wind of what knowledge I have stored away. That is why you are here, and that is what we will be discussing."
Silence lingers for a long while before Saizen breaks it.
"No, no..." he murmurs, as if to himself. "This will not do... to open discussion with what I might want when it is not yet clear what I am expected to relinquish in return, or the truth of the man I am expected to relinquish it to..."
"Tsaiwinokka Hoyakut," the Dark Lord replies in a smooth accent suggesting the harsh language of the ancient Sith comes natural to him. "Lord Iratese, Lady of House Nyâsh, continued the work of her sire, Darth Cranix, on the subject of this ancient and extremely complex spell that can only be wielded by one with the rare affinity for Sith Sorcery. She researched it for quite a few years and wrote a very extensive journal on it" He reaches out a hand and taps his fingers against the surface of a datapad. A small pause is had to allow the implication to sink in. "You do not care who I am, Saizen. You care about knowledge and power."
Saizen replies and the conversations bunches back and forward for a bit, both Dark Lords highlighting the value of their knowledge. Eventually it becomes clear that Saizen isn't all that interested in the offered journal and he rises to pass behind Iradox' chair. The other Dark Lord remains seated, resisting the urge to follow his guest visually.
"You evidently have something in mind," Iradox points out, his cold and measured voice having yet to change. "Or you would not have come."
The other Dark Lord waves his hand in the direction of the youth, as if to dismiss him.
"Leave us!" He outright snarls. Then he turns to snake his way around the back around Iradox' chair. He places his hands on either side of the back rest, and cranes his head around, as if to peer down on the black robed figure. "As it just so happens there is something I want... something I desire above all, and yet, something that has eluded my efforts to discover by my own means..."
The youth curls his hands into small fists...
"Fine!" He spins in a flurry of robes, the bow of his head towards Iradox somewhat lost within the loose hood. "My Lord," he manages in a somewhat polite tone as he starts for the exit.
"I did not dismiss you." Iradox' chilling voice resounds through the room.
The youth stops mid-stride. His boot slowly lowers to the floor. He pulls back his hood and slowly turns to shoot a glance at the two Dark Lords... Sazien snaps his head in the youth's direction, his left hand arcing up and back, gnarled fingers hooked like talons. Thin glowing tentacles of life energy seeps from the young man's chest to the Saizen's claws!
"Either way, he will not be privy to what I have to say, Iradox... would you have him die?"
Iradox seems all but concerned for the well being of the young Sith as he rises and turns to Saizen. From the camera's vantage point one can make out a malicious an eager gleam in his blazing eyes.
"He claimed independents of you..." Iradox almost whispers into Saizen's ear. "That he would not fall under your influence once again..."
The knees of the youth starts buckling, his stomach tying into knots.
"I'll leave," he snarls. "Leave me alone!"
Saizen appears to slowly loosen the grip, glowing tentacles fading as he lowers his arm.
"He will never be free of my influence." He growls under his breath. "I formed his earliest fears, in his life as a Sith... In my absence, those fears have set in like rot." He turns his attention back to Iradox. "I feel I've been goaded into showing my hand... A master stroke, Iradox, if raising my ire like that was intentional..."
The youth casts a last glance back at the two black figures before vanishing through opening doors.
"You controlled the hunger." Iradox replies, not bothering to deny that he had played Saizen. "How?"
Saizen chuckles in response.
"The alternative is that the hunger controls me, and I am not fool enough to allow that to happen. Once, I came close to slipping, to allowing my hunger to devour me instead... There are techniques. Mindsets that must be adhered to, perceptions that must be made. Self-control, the acknowledgement of your deeds, the desire to master the Dark Side... I take it you have suffered the fall of many who attempt to devour life. The Dark Side always probes, always senses the slightest flicker of doubt in your resolve, and through the tiniest crack it will test you and deny you..."
"Not many possesses our unique instinct. This thing that cannot be learned but only triggered, this hunger..."
"So, unlike many before you, you already know that the fundamentals of such a thing are impossible to teach. I have denied all who has come to me for lessons, for to ask for such a thing is a display of ignorance in and of itself. But I can help you control this thing..."
Iradox narrows his eyes into thin glowing lines.
"But you have a price, as one would expect."
Saizen extends a hand before him, the cured human flesh that comprises his ghastly armour creaking.
"What I say now does not leave this room." His tone makes it clear that such wasn't meant as a request. "I am dying. Slowly, thanks in no small part to endless hours of research and application of the sorcerer's techniques bequeathed to me by my late mastter." He sights. "I have fought similar symptoms before, a corruption so deep it cannot be cleansed, only delayed... Yet my saviour last time was a man I was forced to kill, and in killing him, I have once again sealed my own fate... I need a way to live... to cleanse the corruption, and restore this vessel to its former glory." He pauses, then slowly, deliberately, strides up to Iradox and places himself within a hairs breath of the taller Sith. "Do you possess such knowledge?"
"You ask for what you already have." The Dark Lord notes drily. "You possess the ability to feed off death, to rip the life energy from another and not be consumed by the Dark Side in turn. Of course such a procedure will eventually leave you withered and deformed. Yet Darth Nihilus is said to have been consumed by this power to the extend that he became incorporeal, still he survived. Unless you have truly damaged your body beyond compare, stop fleeing from the Dark Side and the effect it has upon you, overrule it. Drain Life from as many as you require, use the life energy to strengthen yourself. Then use the very thing that would devour your body to keep it together."
Saizen remains close to Iradox for a moment longer, but then turns way again.
"To be shackled by my own power is not an outcome I desire, yet you do make a point... It was through sorcery beyond my ability that I now suffer... Perhaps, instead of seeking what I already know in my heart I possess, I should charge you with unrestricted access to the journals of your forebears, to deepen my already formidable knowledge of Sith Sorcery... If you find such a thing permissible?"
Iradox folds his arms across his chest, claw and hand vanishing into opposing sleeves.
"I am no sorcerer nor an apprentice seeking your forbidden knowledge, Saizen. You would be better served by looking through your journals yourself. But if you wish to know how the procedure I suggested would work, you should show me the mindset and techniques you spoke of. I already possess the same power as you, I simply need to know how to control the hunger."
"If I teach you, you will teach me? And allow me to study the techniques of your ancestors? If you are no sorcerer as you say, then their knowledge may be better served in the hands of one who knows how to utilise it, rather than remain stored in dusty holocrons..."
A thoughtful silence follows... Eventually he offers a nearly imperceptible nod.
"Excellent." Saizen replies with obvious delight. A few comments about the exhausted stores of knowledge he has consumed later he extends a bony hand towards Iradox. "Darth Iradox, the deal is lucrative."
Like a tarantula from its lair, Iradox claw emerges from his sleeve and shakes the boney hand.
"We shall being now."
The remaining duration of the recording a pureblood slave is summoned - a strange sight indeed - and Saizen demonstrates his power on her while Iradox inquiries about details. The Dialog and instructions can be summarised as the following:
"To drain the life of another is to forge a connection, to subvert the natural flow of the Force and take that which is granted. It is easy to allow such a thing to happen quickly, to snatch all that is offered without thought or remorse... Just as it is easy to allow such power to control you instead of the other way around. The connection is forged, but you are in command. The flow is one-directional, and already it has begun. [...] I won't deny that the urge to kill is strong... even now... the Dark Side calls to my hunger, but we are masters of the Dark Side, are we not? To bend the Dark Side to our will, we must become the focal points around which the Force revolves, and not let that conviction waver... For if we do, then the darkness takes what it wants, and through us it enacts its own will. This is not mastery... You must desire your victim, with all of your being, and yet know that to give in to that desire means to relinquish mastery over yourself. You must yearn for her life, but not pay for it with failure. It is about maintaining control in the face of overwhelming, ravenous hunger..."
"What keeps you in control? I have felt the hunger; it grows as you drain, demands that you give in. Knowing your age I can say that I have dwelled into the Dark Side for longer than you. I am familiar with its lure and urge. What I have struggled with is to find something strong enough to hold up against the hunger's rapid growth. Is it that you possess some incredible strong emotions that fuels your determination, or is it that the hunger grows more slowly if you drain at a lower rate, and thus it becomes more manageable?"
"It is my emotions that scream at me to finish this girl, to rip away the life she clings to so... impotently. But I repeat, to do so would be to relinquish mastery of the Dark Side, to become its tool rather than its puppeteer. No... My control comes from exhaustive experience. From the will to control those around me on levels they cannot even comprehend... Do you want this girl to die, or do you want her to limp away, knowing what power you possess? Do you want her to die in helpless terror, or limp away with knowledge that you can take what you want at any time, for as long as you like, for as long as you deign to allow her to continue surviving? The hunger is always there, ever present. Drain her slowly, and the hunger prolong. Drain her quickly, kill her, and it will surely return. But in keeping her alive, in drawing out the process, that prolonged hunger will eventually be sated for a time... When I need to stop, it is no easy task. Now, observe..."
"So you did not stop. You could not stop, not until there was no more life energy to be had. Instead you slowed the rate of the flow and manually severed the connection in the Force between you, which resulted in the flow no longer having a channel to flow through. "
"I find that when the hunger threatens to overwhelm, and when control cannot be maintained of the connection, then it is best to force a severance rather than risk losing control altogether. As I said earlier, it requires a certain mindset and discipline over the self and an assurance of master over the Dark Side. The technique is already at your disposal, but you still use it instinctively from what I understand. Many see it as an abomination, a vulgar misuse of the Force, but those people are not aware of what minute control one must have over the Force in order to effectively utilise it..."
"What is the difference between draining a Force Sensitive and Non-Force Sensitive?"
"With mastery? There is little difference. I have encountered one who was able to reverse the flow, and those who are adept enough to block the connection before it can be forged, but in my experience, once you have your hooks in someone... There is nothing stopping you from taking what is your's."
"Sources I have researched claims that it is possible to divert between draining life and Force energy, and that these can grant you different things."
"I find it preferable to drain life. Draining Force energy is an effective defence, circumventing the flow of the Force to prevent an assailant from utilising it, and bolstering your own connection, but I've personally reaped very little else. Perhaps you may find it different."
"What of storing up power? To increase the magnitude of the power at your disposal beyond your natural limits?"
"We all have our methods of such things. The Force flows through and around us, one need not steal what little penetrates an individual when it is continually present around and inside you, free to be drawn upon... or, if desired, hoarded..."
"I see... How long until she has recovered?"
"Her energy will return in due course... she hasn't been through too much, and her constitution is admirable for one so mundane."