Thanks a ton Pottsie. I know you have been a loyal member of the critic crew. Well just for you and all my other readers, here is another chapter.
Chapter 19: There Is No Conflict
I couldn’t take the jibes anymore so I reached out and summoned my saber. The bronze blade gleamed as I struck at the Blood King’s crimson one as I slipped into the Makashi lightsaber form. It was the best form to use against another Force wielder and it was one that allowed me the most freedom of movement in terms of my parries and strikes. Master Cronus had made sure that I had learned all of the lightsaber forms even those that were restricted to the Jedi guardians and Weaponsmasters. Being young and foolish at the time, I would actually combine the forms in different manners, experimenting with them and causing no end of frustration, especially with Master Vrook when I went to Coruscant.
I kept to the Makashi form as I parried and struck with my lightsaber. It was difficult because I was forced to battle on the stairs that led to the viewing platform. The smoke was rising from our incessant clashing and occasionally sparks would fly as we locked our sabers. I still felt the anger and hate for the Judge but surprisingly, it wasn’t as severe as before when he was taunting me. I controlled it and forced it deep down as I drew on the Force to guide my blade. At one point I saw an opening and I summoned my katana, which sailed effortlessly into my left and I twirled into attack position. All the Blood King said was, “Good. The Force is strong within you.” He swung from above.
I countered with my katana, which sparked on contact and spun and struck with my right. I looked at the Blood King with an inquisitive look that was mingled with a challenge to it. I replied to his comment, “The Force is my ally. It always has been.”
“Much like what your predecessor said. By now you must surely know that even the strongest of heroes eventually fall. It is inevitable.” The Blood King adjusted his position.
I just watched his movements with my eyes, my muscles tensed. I don’t think he knew about lightsaber forms but then again he was housing a Sith spirit, a former Jedi who probably knew them and much more. He then charged and I stepped to my left. I was next to one of the walls and I placed my right foot on the wall. I followed with my left and it looked as if I were stuck to the walls. I was moving quite fast as I used my feet to push off and sail over the Blood King’s head just as he swung. I landed with my back towards him but I managed to counter the strike by placing my katana behind my back. I then twisted my blade and lashed out with my lightsaber. The Blood King said, “Impressive. Most impressive.”
I was unprepared for the kick he delivered to my knees that sent me falling down the stairs. The falling hurt more than the kick did but I had little time to wonder if I had bruised my body on the way down. The Blood King swung hard towards the ground with the intent to sever my body in half. I reacted the same way I had done when Mandalore did the same move: I placed my hands on the ground like I was going to do a pushup and used my legs and feet to push off the ground. I spun in a tight circle as I arced my body away and landed in a standing position but I wasn’t done yet. Once I landed I pushed off again and gave a huge jump to land behind the Blood King who whirled around with his blade. I blocked and gave him a sidekick that sent him tumbling down the stairs.
I gazed down at him and took a moment to use the Force to heal any of the bruises. I felt a sharp pang in my abdomen but kept that in. The Blood King was slowly rising to his feet and was laughing at me. I figured that it was an attempt to get me angry so I didn’t rise to the bait. He said, “Good. Use your aggressive feelings. Let your hate flow through you.”
I looked at him confused. There was no hate flowing. It was more of a collective calm. True that I had to react quickly but it didn’t make sense. I checked my mind and realized I was still playing pazaak in my head with Atton and Darius. My mind was detached in a way that I wasn’t aware of it until I gave a cursory sweep of my mind. Amazing at what the power of the Force can do. I just continued to gaze at the Blood King at the bottom of the stairs. I deactivated my saber and held it limp in my hand.
I sensed the confusion from the Blood King but it wasn’t evident in his voice as he began a slow advance up the stairs. He said, “Tergis has taught you well.”
How he knew of Master Tergis, I had no idea but that was a moot point at the moment. I replied, “I will not fight you Tvark.” I had hoped that by using his real name that I would be able to make a connection with his true self.
The Blood King continued his slow advance with his lightsaber drawn. When he was close enough he said, “You are unwise to lower your defenses,” and he lashed out with his crimson blade.
The movement was quick as I countered with my katana while activating my bronze blade. I swung that in an arc towards the Blood King’s side. He was quick to block. He attempted to strike at my leg, the same one that he struck me in two years ago. Apparently the bastard remembered that battle as well as I did. I blocked and switched my stance so I could protect it better. I wasn’t about to let him have an advantage. I decided to change up my line of attack. I led off with the two-sword bite; the most difficult one to master and only a few of the Bushida masters can perform it without chopping off their fingers. I finished off with the five point thrust and nicked the Blood King on the arm.
I looked at him as grabbed his upper arm. He growled at me but smiled in that sly way of his. He said, “Impressive. A Jedi and yet you do not follow their ways of combat.” He rubbed his arm, the blood on his fingertips. He gave a shrug and raised his blade.
I was personally amazed that he could shrug it off but then again I have shrugged off worse. I didn’t reply but instead brought my blades up ready to attack. I took an involuntary step backwards and steadied my footing. I had a slight cramp in my abdomen yet again I brushed it aside but I sensed something in the background. I didn’t have time to dwell on it for long for the Blood King came at me with a hard strike. I began to notice that the Blood King was using familiar Jedi techniques yet he seemed to have trouble countering my Bushida moves. I spat out, “When one is in tune with the Force, anything is possible.”
He growled and swung hard. We clashed for ten seconds. We then became locked with our lightsabers crossed. He had me other wrist gripped tightly in his hand. I could smell distinctly the stench of death on him and could smell the thousands he had killed. I could actually hear their screams in my ears and their cries for justice. It hurt so much in my ears that I wanted to get away. I distinctly remember Darius once telling me about that feeling and I wondered if that was how bad it was. I also sensed a conflict within. True that there was hatred and anger but there was also someone who had some good in him.
I didn’t have time to dig deeper but it was enough for me to catch a glimpse. I gave a knee to the Blood King’s stomach and pushed away. I stepped back and gave a quick glance backwards to see what was behind me. He came at me with a swipe at my feet. I jumped up and back, landing on a stack of crates. He growled again and came with his blade raised. Using the Force, I gave a push off the crates and did a back flip to land on one of the many catwalks crisscrossing the upper ways. I sheathed my katana and deactivated my lightsaber and stood there. He stood there staring at me with his blade drawn. I gazed down at him. I said, “Your thoughts betray you Tvark. I feel the good in you, the conflict.”
“There is no conflict,” he replied. He twirled is blade and walked along the catwalk.
I followed still gazing at him intently. I replied firmly, “You couldn’t bring yourself to kill me and make sure I was dead before. I don’t believe you would destroy me now.” I had come to stop right next to one of the support beams that held the catwalk up. I was hoping that I had struck the right nerve with my comments. I knew that I wasn’t wrong in that there was still good in him. Heck if Eómeros could be saved after all he’d done, why couldn’t Tvark?
The Blood King continued to gaze at me. It was hard to read his emotions for he had started to block them from my sight. He replied, “You underestimate the power of the ancients and the darkside. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny,” and with a quick motion he threw his still lighted lightsaber at me towards my head. I ducked to the side and the saber struck the support I was next to and the one behind it. In a shower of sparks and the groaning of heavy metal, the catwalk collapsed and crashed into some crates and structures taking me with it. The last thing I heard was a chuckling or laughter that was not from the Blood King.