She walked through the forest, her feet treading softly through the fallen leaves, the bare branches of the trees around her scraped against one another as a soft wind stirred around her and them, teasing her hair and caressing her cheek. The wind carried a smell on it, a familiar one that filled her with a sense of dread that made her drag her feet through the fallen leaves. It was the kind of smell only a seasoned warrior would know and remember for the rest of their lives. Some warriors wore it like a ladies perfume, some… some wore it like a second skin.
Caer on the other hand, she wore her armor, the shining white and blue that heralded her status as a Luka Sene Seeker painted in the colors of her family, the Estherian Clan. Her saber rested on her left hip, the twin Seeker blades she’d earned as a Blade Dancer rested against her back, the crystalline looking blades glistening in the pale light.
The planet was unfamiliar to her, the wind was chilly almost biting, but the smells around here were warm, almost cloying. She pushed through the thick branches that tried to block her way. Finally breaking through the trees sh stood at the edge of an open field. Her heart hammering in her chest she let her force fueled gaze slide across the scene before her.
About half a dozen tarp covered poles created a half circle; the tarps hanging limply as fabric fluttered in the wind, making a snapping sound. It was about the only sound that could be heard in the field of death. In the center of the ring of the double crosses stood a mountain of a man- no… a Pureblood. Caer could tell the way his aura radiated that familiar color that always seemed to indicate pureblood Sith.
The Sith was imposing. Even from the distance that parted the, she could see the shape of his form. His arms folded over his chest, the thick meaty upper arms seemed to strain with the action, his massive legs spread out to distribute his weight. The tentacles on the Siths chin, dangled and was adorned with piercings, a partial mask adorned the top half of his face seemed to be made of bone, giving him an almost skeletal faced appearance.
He smiled broadly at Caer and gestured with his hands, when he spoke it was with a cultured voice, the kind of voice used to public speaking; it was also familiar. “Do you like what I have created? I am an artist, the galaxy my canvas and each planet I come to, begs for a masterpiece.”
The pureblood gestured with his claw tipped hands and Caer felt the force around her swirling, dark and malicious. The very air around her seemed to grow ill with the Darkness and she steeled herself against its influence. Caer squared her shoulders and pulled her blades from their sheaths. The force fueled wind caused the tarps to flap and flutter, sliding off their posts.
Caer licked dry lips as she focused on the Pureblood. “Who are you?”
“Like I said, an artist. But you, Caer Estherian may call me Darth Daedalus. ” He smiled and the way he smiled startled Caer, her focus still on the Pureblood before her seemed oblivious to the tarps that had fluttered to the ground. The wind howled around them stirring the hair around his and her face both. “An artist, but perhaps you better know me as Atrum Avariche. ”
The name sent pins and needles all throughout Caers body and her fingers seemed to go numb. This was Xaishens brother- the one who Xaishen feared more than just about anyone else in the galaxy. She said nothing as he began a slow purposeful walk towards Caer.
“Are you not going to look at my art? I did this for him and I want you to tell me what you think before I show it to my insipid little brother.” His voice was deep, the kind of deep voice that would make ones sternum tremble with its depths. His hands were massive and as he got closer she noticed that there was nothing on this Pureblood that indicated delicateness. Not like the way Xaishen was delicate. She didn’t want to give up ground, but every fiber of her body screamed for her to put distance between them.
He stopped a inches away from her and turned, slipping a massive arm around her shoulders and turning her to face his work of art. Atrum smiled and brought a thick finger up under her chin and the claw tip scraped the skin of her throat. She suppressed a flinch as he forced her head up. “Come now, look. I’m sure you’ll have something to say.”
Caer shuddered at the touch her skin feeling like it was burning as his finger guided her chin up exposing her to what lay before her; why did she feel so compelled to do as he asked? Why wasn’t she fighting? some part of screamed for her to react, to think to do something; but nothing came she stood like a statue.
Raiyden hung by his wrists from a one of the poles, his skin flayed from is body, the delicate bones in his hands broken and twisted beyond recognition. The skin along his ribs torn away to reveal glistening muscle and exposed ribs. Her twins body mangled and exposed, his head thrown back face frozen in a rictus of pain, even in death. She heard Daedalus laugh softly next to her as her expression went from revulsion to horror and grief.
Two smaller forms dangled with Raiyden, like a macabre key chain. She had to fight the bile that rose in her throat as she realized those still forms were of her nephews Hunter and Jayden.
“This is Xaishens fault you know. If only he had been a good boy and had died when he was supposed to.” Daedalus’ voice slid through her mind like a razor, cutting and tearing. He grasped her cheeks with clawed finger tips, turning her head to the side to look at his other master pieces. “Come… you haven’t seen the rest.”
Neirov, Tomuraan, Dymetrya, her friends and brothers and sisters in arms… Jallira- sweet little Jallira and Ihlrath and Alasha all in similar forms of display. Their bodies tormented and mangled nearly beyond recognition. Each of their lives cut from their bodies and leaving them nothing more than flesh, their force, their spirits gone from them forever.
Yet she stood inactive, frozen to the ground as if her feet had been rooted by the very dust that swirled around her. Her arms felt like dead weight and trying to life them, to reach out to those who she cared about seemed to be impossible. She felt completely defenseless as the Pureblood moved up behind her and wrapped his massive hands around her shoulders.
“I saved a spot for you. You and your brother will be my true masterpiece. I can’t have anything left undone before my brother comes, now can I? I must complete the set.” His breath was sweet, nothing like she expected. “The others were mere practice. But I believe I finally have the look I want to obtain. It will be a kodak moment for all.”
Caer seemed unaware that the Pureblood had moved her closer to the horror show that was her family and friends. Mind numbed, body frozen by shock; she wasn’t even aware that she’d been hoisted up onto a pole of her own or dangling by her wrists until she felt the first cut into her belly, intestines exposed and spilling.
Daedalus gave a smile, the hulking brute looking up at her with blazing yellow eyes- eyes like Xaishens. “Tell my little brother I’m coming for him. That’s a good girl after all I have a special place just for him.” His blade flashed and she felt him cut into her again.
Only then did she scream.
Caer jerked upright and grabbed for her midsection. The scream trailing off into a stuttering sob that eventually dissolved into actual shoulder racking sobs. She wrapped her arms around herself and fought for control over her emotions, repeating the age old Jedi mantra. There is no emotion, there is only peace. The dream still felt very real to her and her minds eye could still see those bodies dangling like flowers out to dry.
Pulling off her sweat covered night shirt she let the cool air chill her skin, it helped with the nausea and to bring reality back into perspective. Shuddering she pulled the sheet around her naked form and she backed up against the headboard, even in the complete darkness of the room, she could see everything and she watched late into the night. Waiting for the Pureblood to step through the darkness and drag her back into the nightmare.
She didn’t sleep for he rest of the night.