Nightfall was even more terrifying in the depths of forest lands, surrounded by darkened swamps and the mythical flora to keep one company. The viral outbreak had already forced many lives to succumb, death and misery running rampant through the collective network of villages. It was a saddening and remorseful sight, though for the unforgiving opportunist, it was also a chance to carry out the Force's evil will.
The adept legionnaire moved silently with predatory grace through the void of darkness, concealing his armored form with utilization of Force Cloak techniques. He appeared nothing more than a blurred apparition, inducing a few startling glares by those unlucky enough to be caught in his gaze. Before a victim could scream, his hand engulfed around their throat and mouth, inducing the power of Force Drain for those connecting to the divinity. A swirling red mist soon overtook the body and merely accelerated the natural demise that the viral attack had induced. Their force energies however, would be siphoned directly, barreling back into Roman to satisfy an unnatural hunger.
He dropped the now corpse on the ground, moving towards the edge of the village periphery. Copper yellow eyes scanned at the setting before him, wisely selecting his targets for ease of murder. The humming noise of his lightsaber would only be for a second along with the casting of its crimson shadow, until of course the deed was done. There would be no work for medics this day, the Reaper had already beat them to their task.
It was the will of the force, these feeble bodies even if they survived would offer no sense of relief or benefit to the galaxy. No, their deaths would merely fuel his sinister agenda.
Mimban reminded him in some ways of home. Though where he found himself now was harsher and sadder in every way. Sauls heart went out to these people. A tough life made shorter but an outbreak none could have expected. The Jedi Order, for all its ability, could not solve something like this in a day, even though it wished it could.
What it could do though was offer aid, support, a few sets of friendly hands to assist as much as it could. Saul was to be those hands. Sulfanar needed all it could get.
And as he had entered the village that day to take over, word had sprung to his ears in moments of the death toll, seemingly having shot upwards in recent time. He was no healer, but every part of him knew that something was wrong, he could see it on the face of every person there.
Words were spoken with the village elders, aid begun being distributed. But he knew his own goal was otherwise now, to sense out the truth of what was going on.
Someone it seemed had gone missing.
Wiping the sweat from his brow and dropping his heavy robes, Saul clutched his lightsaber close, and made for the edge of the village, that poor lost souls last known location.
Considering the only light outside was provided by the world's pale moon, the ebony armored Sith was easily hidden and lurked with the advantage of shadows. A trail of deaths were on the periphery of the village, though there were no witnesses left that could identify anything out of ordinary. Save of course, for the intermittent corpses that appeared to have been drained of their very life, their deaths coming not with a blade but rather by the vile evil of sorcery. Regardless, his work was not yet completed. Standing overlooking a wooden bridge, his right hand extended outwards and held a dangling corpse of his next victim, a hermit. Consuming with force drain, Roman simply watched as the essence instead transferred into the amulet held within his grasp. A ruby crystal previously faint was now filling with a palpable presence of the dark side. It blinked with a bright crimson light, the twisted face of the legionnaire slowly curling into a smile with each subsequent consumption.
Taking a slow breath inwards, Roman released the corpse from his grasp and watched as it plunged into the water beneath them. Eyes shifting forwards to the remote villas up ahead, he began to advance towards them. It wasn't far when he felt an opposing force through the webs of magic, a presence that was unlike his own. It was as if it blossomed with purity and light, sticking out sorely in a sea of darkness. Unaware of such existence, Roman ruffled through the man's belongings to find a singular steel sword. Grabbing it, he lept off the path and knelt behind some bushes. An utilization of force cloak washed over his armored contours, blending them in with the silhouette of swampland.
Copper eyes glanced around, awaiting the arrival of the entity which stalked him.
Even without reaching out into the Force, effects flowed through it in ways that were hard to hide. And so, when Saul felt a pull in the Force, twisted, cold, and wrong, his whole body felt it too. A shiver sent hair spiking upwards, the sweat on his forehead stopping for a moment as he felt the foul flow in the Force.
There had been something unnatural here. A good thing then the Jedi had been here to search it out.
Closing his eyes and breathing deep, Saul let his feelings stretch out into the aether of Mimban, seeking out the strange effect he felt nearby. It was unfamiliar to him, something disturbed. And nothing in his years of being a Jedi he had encountered before. That, of course, was why he needed to find it. But as he drew closer not only in the Force but with every quite real step, his body and senses called at him to turn back, an ill feeling playing in every pore.
And yet he drew closer. He had to.
Even in the half light of the moon, Saul could see the body strewn across the ground. A lifeless figure, it was as if it was more than just death that had come, but as if soul had been torn away, no lingering traces still remained of life. Saul has seen plenty of death, even in his younger years life on Virgillia had been tough. Long winters and dangerous hunting summers had left more than a few of his people gone. But this was different. Whatever had left it like this, it had to be confronted,
“I am Jedi Knight Saul Devan” he said as clear as he could in the forest heat,
“Whatever crime has been committed here, it cannot continue. Come out from wherever you’re hiding, and let justice occur” he spoke slowly, clearly, trying to give an air of calm authority. His hands were raised low to show peace, though not too far away from his lightsaber, though he prayed he would not have to use it.
Roman appeared puzzled for a moment, hidden within the brushes of darkness along with an active force cloak and maintained his presence as a mere shimmering entity. Even if the Jedi could look closely, he would be hard pressed to see anything of substance, though considering as they were both force users, the signature and active use of abilities was likely evident. The trail of bodies and force drained corpses also resonated with a sinister, evil remnant.
Twisting his lips into a cruel smile, his mind raced through the possibilities; the devourer would be much pleased with obtaining the life essence of a Jedi, after all, only the light cant satisfy the satiable hunger of darkness. A low growl emitted from the shadows, Roman suddenly leaping forwards into a full sprint towards his prey. He did not drop the force cloak as of yet, utilizing the element of surprise as he lowered an armored shoulder and bashed it towards Saul's unsuspecting back. The force of the blow would likely topple the jedi to the ground, allowing the dark sider to gain an immediate advantage.
It was only then that he dissolved the cloak, revealing the fully armored figure though no crimson saber was ignited. Instead, he held the steel sword in his right grasp, a mundane weapon in appearance. Saul had already announced his presence and allegiance, but Roman made no statement. His gargoyle appearance was as fear inspiring as it was intimidating, the ebony armor even more menacing with an aura of silence. Pair of golden eyes glanced at the Knight, drawing the force around him but channeled it into the weapon. It poured along the lengths of the blade, anointing it with an essence of evil, granting the sword the ability to become hardened and powered by the dark side.
For the duration of their conflict, it would be able to contend against the light.
Only the faintest sound of footsteps gave Saul any indication of his attacker before their full weight slammed into his back.
the strike threw him, it hit him just right to knock him across the forest floor and into the dirt. Clearly whoever this was knew what they were doing.
As he hit the ground Saul rolled across his back and brought himself back up in a crouch bringing his hands out in front of himself to defend his body as he looked over his assailant.
The figure clad in black armour was an imposing sight, that he had to admit. A plain dagger laid in his hand, but the energy that resonated from it only confirmed them as a Force user. Saul may be a Jedi, but he wasn’t a fool. He could tell when another meant violence, and whoever this was had already committed plenty. Drawing the Force to himself, he readied himself to react to any movement of the figure, and with a clear view on them they couldn’t hide in the shadows so easily now,
“We can lay down the blade my friend, there’s no use in more violence today” Saul spoke, setting himself back up on his feet. Part of him could tell his plea wouldn’t get him far, but he would be no Jedi if he did not try.
Still with the Force at his side, he was ready to defend himself from whatever came. And his lightsaber would not be far away if it was needed.
Roman glanced at his adversary for a moment, tilting the armored head to its side as if in wayward thoughts but just for a brief moment to seemingly contemplate the offer. The sword slowly lowered as if the Legionnaire was almost accepting of the peace bargain. "Tell me, what is a Jedi doing out in the swamps of Mimban anyways? Aren't there far more pressing matters to attend?" He asked, his voice deep and demonic in tone, as if it was almost augmented and rendered unnatural by unseen forces. Roman slowly circled around Saul before coming to stand next to a fallen victim, the woman was considerably injured but still alive. The Sith however displayed no sense of mercy as he layered his right foot on top of her back and slowly applied pressure.
Golden eyes cast their glare once more at the Jedi, "Very well, I agree, there is no need for violence between us. So you would be wise to leave this place. The virus has already taken its hold, and any further attempts at redemption are futile...on the other hand, my work with these people is still unfinished.." He said, keeping his attention squarely on Saul as to attempt at read his facial expressions and decide on a course of action.
What would the Jedi do? There was certainly no need for conflict between the two, however, it was apparent that Roman would not leave the remainder of the village alone until he had accomplished what he sought.
The figure on the ground let out a sudden breath as the black clad being put his weight on their back. They were clearly in no state to hold them off, if they ever had been with the illness having taken a hold of them.
Saul knew the enemy across from him understood that he could not simply let an innocent being come to harm, not when he could be there to prevent it. Their speech was an ultimatum then. And for Saul, for any Jedi he hoped, there was only one answer,
“Anywhere there is suffering is a pressing matter, and here it seems there has been more than enough” Saul returned, planting his feet firmly on the ground,
“There‘s still hope for a cure yet, I cannot allow you to take away that chance” Sauls eyes narrowed as he spoke,
“Not for anyone”
With a flick of his wrists Saul reached out with the Force. With one hand he threw the villains leg up and off the woman to throw them off balance, with the other he pushed her across the ground and away from both of them.
There was still mercy to be had here, but Saul knew now it could only be in action. The time for words had passed.
Roman tumbled to the side as the Jedi used a telekinetic attack to toss his leg off the woman, his armored form staggering back a few steps before regaining his footing. He wasn't mad but simply amused, causing a slow and sinister chuckle to emanate from the ebony clad armored entity. The force swelled in response, culminating as a locus and wrapped around his figure defensively. "I didn't realize Jedi were comforted with only palliative care..." He spoke, taunting Saul once again on the futility of his desire to help these natives. Taking a step forward, he slowly advanced though made no overt gestures of attacking just yet.
"I am afraid I cannot let you interfere in my work, you see, these individuals in death will serve a purpose greater than they had in life.." He said, a cold and calculative statement but one filled with a degree of twisted conviction. He grunted before launching forwards with force augmented speed; steps carried him within melee range in a mere blur, his armored contours shimmering almost before they became discernible. The sword slashed at the sternum level, at the Jedi's left to right in a simple opening attack. Force tightly coiled, almost as a serpent around Roman, prepared to lash out offensively or defensively if the time came and in accordance with his opponent's counter.
As his black armoured for spoke, Saul listened closely. Whatever the man desired, whatever end he spoke of was clearly one he could not condone. Not that he had much time to consider beyond that, as the figure approached in a flash, glints of armour in the moonlight and the blade shrouded in darkness.
Instinctively at the sudden approach Saul pushed back off from his front foot and out of harms way, though threads of his robes fell away in shreds even as it happened. His left hand shot down and pulled his lightsaber into it, igniting the golden blade and offering a slash across the chest in return to maintain distance as he drew it in front of him.
“Their worth is not for you to decide” he replied sternly. The figure had to be kept away at all costs now, clearly there was no level they would not reach to continue their twisted work.
With his right hand he snatched a medium sized branch from the forest floor nearby behind his opponent, and sent it shooting at their back, hoping to distract if not stun his enemy. All the while he kept his blade high and ready for any counterattack,
Roman snarled and caught the orange lightsaber with the sheen of his weapon's metallic edge, an unnatural sound emitted as force augmented steel clashed against plasma. It was unlike a saber to saber duel, the intricacies of a metal sword were significantly different but that did not mean that he had given the Jedi an advantage. The legionnaire used his strength to push off his opponent, the clash serving to block against Saul's own retaliatory slash.
"Is that so? Im sorry you feel that way..Jedi.." He said, strafing towards his own left in order to create just minimal distance so that he could re-evaluate his stance and prepare for a second opening attack. He wasn't a stranger to the dark arts, and as he felt tendrils of the force snap at trees behind him, he suddenly tilted his vision and caught the flying limb with his own Force hold. Left hand extending for only a brief moment to capture the flying branch before it could do any damage and instead flung it straight for the Jedi's face in order to make both adversaries disengage temporarily.
Roman twirled his blade in his right grasp, left hand configuring into a claw like formation as force pulled from the very life around him. Almost draining in a way, a darkened crimson mist encapsulated his armored fist, similar to the magics he used to drain the force from his victims. For now he made no further attacks towards the Jedi, but perhaps his makashi stance and the accumulation of a prepared force power would make the light-sider second guess his charge.
As blades clashed and sparks shot off from each, he could feel the darkness wrapped about the blade that fed it with unnatural strength, and allowed it to fend off the searing plasma of his lightsaber. Both combatants moved quickly about the forest floor, strong, hard strikes clashing back and forth. As the dark force user moved to their left, Saul followed suit, springing to his own left to avoid the hurtling branch, and continuing the circle that the other had started,
"And I am sorry you cannot be whole enough to do without them" Saul spoke softly in return. There was a sadness he knew now, one that, if any Jedi had read their history books, seemed inevitable at times: the loss of such potential to darkness. He felt this even more than he felt any shock at feeling the dark side of the Force in action, returned to the galaxy. Even if it was only one lost soul.
And as the feeling raised itself once again, he could see plants begin shriveling away as his opponent drew the Force to him, stealing the life from the world around him. If this was what he had done to the villagers, it could not be allowed to continue. But as his foe took stock, Saul did the same, centring himself and keeping the light as his ally for whatever came.
Roman chuckled, maintaining the blade in a defensive position while his golden eyes scanned at his enemy. It was almost as if he was taunting the Jedi, luring the male to make the first move and thus afford an advantage for the Sith. Though he knew the Jedi would be unlikely to fall for such tricks, it was an attempt to measure the man's resolve and see how easily he would be tempted.
"Have you ever met anyone like me before?" He asked the Jedi, while continuing to circle around his enemy; the force pooled in his left hand and before Saul could respond with an answer, Roman extended the arm outwards towards the woman lying on the ground near them. A red mist swirled and then suddenly sank into her flesh, lurching her body upwards into an painful torsional dystonia, causing her to gasp in a forced scream. The magical power acted quickly but it was merely to showcase its resolve rather than completely drain her, shards of flesh and soul being stripped off her as the spell continued.
Roman kept his attention on the Jedi however, intending to demonstrate for him their purpose. "The Knights of Ren...have returned, and with it, we bring a swift strike of redemption. This galaxy has succumbed to devastation far beyond your salvation, Jedi..."
Saul's breathing became short and shallow as he saw the villains hand crack out and tendrils of the Dark Side lash out toward the inured woman, her scream piercing his ears with her pain. This had to end soon, even for this one life to be saved. It was easy to speak of noble causes in abstract, to think the village, that life had to be saved. But when he could see it in front of him, the violence, it only became more clear,
"Sometimes only one needs to be saved to restore everyone else" and today that was the woman in front of him. He had read some history, he knew of Ben Solo's redemption, of Anakin Skywalker's. Their change heralded the end of empires. Saul did not know if he could redeem the man before him, but he knew he had to save the one in pain before him.
Perhaps that would be enough.
And so, Saul moved fast to close the gap between them, keeping his blade in his left hand before him. With his free right hand he gripped the arm of his foe that drained the woman, and bent it backwards hard to try and end his attack on her, and keep him from mounting another with it in the short term. With that he would cut from his enemies left shoulder down across their chest in a diagonal to their right hip. There was little time left to act in any other way.
Roman chuckled, watching as the drain materialized in his hand but instead of feeding into his own being, it was absorbed into the amulet that lay dangled around his neck. A ruby stone within the artifact now glistened with a solid red hue, rather than a blinking hue it had only moments before. It pulsated with its signature in the force, remnants of a dark sided energy that created its own particular wounding presence. He noticed the pulsating power and grinned widely with his teeth, albeit facial hidden behind the skull visage of his helmet as his eyes shifted their attention towards the Jedi as Saul made his attack.
His left hand was allowed to be grasped in the hold, however he brought the broadsword upwards to immediately block the incoming saber blow, a clashing of fibers richotched off the two weapons as they collided. He smirked before lurching forwards without a moment's notice, bashing his durasteel helm against the face of the lightsider. The attack was simple and effective, designed to disengage the two foes as Roman backpedaled out of melee range.
Sword twirled in his grasp, "Seems you're too late..Jedi, my work here is done..."
The metal helmet slammed against his skull and Saul stumbled back a step from the Knight of Ren, releasing his grip on the mans arm as they both stepped out of range of any immediate follow up attack. As his senses refocused after the hit he heard the sound of the womans body slumping to the ground. It did not take someone with the Force to know that she was finally lost, any life left in her stolen away by the man that stood across from him now.
And that figure was right, he had failed. Too late to stop the senseless deaths, and too timid to have saved this one. Part of him wanted to shout, let his frustration expel from him, but he knew the dark-sider would sense it. So, he masked the pain from his foe, and instead retracted his lightsaber,
"Then leave this planet. You've done enough to these people already. More Jedi will come. Your work will not be so easy from now on" Saul returned to the Knight, though they hardly deserved such a title. Instead he moved to head closer to the body of the woman, she would have to be returned to her people, those who remained, anyhow,
"Not here, not anywhere" he said finally. They were burned into his brain, this Knight of Ren. He would not forget them.