(A heartbeat ago, your mind was touched with Q’ayla’s, and you each begged the other to allow you to take the terrible bargain in Q’aleane’s place. The small, strange creature Q’aleane still bandy words back and forth, but it is becoming hard to keep track of their bargaining over the rising tide of fear and anger swirling inside you.
(Then, there is a transition. You’re not sure exactly when it started to happen – like so much that has happened in this place, it seems almost as if you remember the change without it having actually taken place – but the voices of Q’aleane and the dark thing have faded away. A part of you still sees them – and Q’ayla – there beside you, but the greater part of you is alone on that blighted plain, with the twisted jungle at your back. No…not alone. How could you have thought you were alone, with THAT risen up before you? The form is a towering bulk over you, seeming to put you in shadow even though there is no light source in this place to cast shadows. You realize at once that this could be nothing other than the Fanged God of legends, whispered of in fear and awe by the most primitive cultures, and most ancient Sith traditions, alike. A massive gargoyle, with only the vaguest resemblance to any real creature you’ve seen or heard of, it’s bat-like pinions are half-spread, making it seem even larger. It’s powerful claws dig at the earth hungrily, and it’s lambent red eyes bore into your heart, seeing straight past all the semblances you wear.)
You would bargain with me, young Sith? Speak, then, and convince me you have something of value to offer ME.
(His voice is carried on a scream, grating, almost too loud to bear, grinding the words out like rocks crushing together.)
(Irsin stares open mouthed for a long moment, even his normally tight reign on his emotions giving way before the imposing presence before him. A thing spoken of in shadows and fear even by Sith Lords. Then he gathers himself, remembering why he stands before this god and straightens)
Immortal God, You wear many faces. I see truly how many it must be now.
The Fanged God: You cannot even begin to imagine. Speak, before I tire of your platitudes.
Irsin: You clearly know my mind before I speak it, or we would not be here. I have come a long way in your shadow. I have also begun to find things beyond it which interest me and pull at me.
What would you take to leave your touch no stronger than it is now on Q’ayla?
The Fanged God:
(the screech of his voice, in your mind and ears both, is almost unbearable.)
Speak not to me of denying me access to another! ANY other. Each of you is free to choose on your own. You may NOT make deals with me on behalf of another. I deal in power. Power for any strong enough to take hold of it. If she wishes to take that power up, I will not deny her for YOU!
(and now the voice softens, becoming a gravelly purr)
If you seek the power to keep her safe…that is something we could discuss. You all play with forces you do not understand, and align yourselves against those with strength you cannot hope to match. I could help…adjust that imbalance…if you dare.
(Irsin breathes deep, marshaling himself after the voice nearly split his head.)
I do not begin to know even a part of that which we deal in, but I know a bit more than my companions I think about what it takes to wield the power you offer. I fear as you say we are in over our heads. The Jedi, they came here to do their duty. Me, I came here to help balance the debt I owe them for help offered me. And now I stay because Q’ayla stays.
(He takes another breath, looking down for a moment, and then shakes his head as though resigning himself to something).
What can you offer me to keep her safe in all this?
The Fanged God: What I always offer. What you already have from me, in part. POWER. To do with as you require.
Irsin: And what price do you ask for such power? The things we stand against seem better suited to your perspective. You say we do not understand how large, and I freely admit it’s true.
The Fanged God: You well know the price. It is the same it has always been. And always balanced by the power you dare to use. All I offer now is a means of…easing…the process. So the question truly is, how far into my shadow are you prepared to walk?
(As he speaks, as though the very environment reflects his words, the world seems to dim steadily, until you can make out little, save the hulking shape over you, and those burning coals staring down at you. Oddly, perhaps, the shapes of your companions, though still mostly on the periphery of your awareness, remain visible, even though little else now is. It is almost as if they both glow, softly, in the darkness. Q’aleane’s light is low, and cool, and steady, while Q’ayla gutters and flares, bright and hot, like a candle flame with too long a wick.)
(Irsin meets those coals steadily now)
I will do as I have always done. Whatever it takes.
I will do what must be done. And Q’ayla must survive this.
The Fanged God: Then you accept the power, and its price?
(the darkness, around him at least, recedes subtly, and you can make out his face once more. His eyes narrow)
Without reservations? You have been filled with doubt and hesitation for some time now over your path under my banners. There may be little room for such…vacillation if you agree to this. I would not have a weak instrument.
Irsin: Under you banner I worked alongside monsters who cared nothing for those around them. If I do this it will be different. I do this not for revenge or even survival as I have done before. It is not for me. It is for her and others like her. They make the galaxy a place worth living in, not just worth owning. If this is the only way I can make sure that stays true, then that is what I will do. You said you can use more than just hate for your influence? You said that Love too can be under your banner? If that is true, and wasn’t simply a platitude to lure in the Jedi, show me. Perhaps you are not evil as some think. Even the darkness has those is protects, those it shelters and keeps safe. Even the darkness can sometimes be an ally.
Sometimes darkness is the only path to get to the other side after all…
The Fanged God:
(the gargoyle stands up straight for the first time, rising easily to at least 4 meters in height, and spreads its wings wide)
So be it, then! You shall have what you require. Just remember, when you watch her, sleeping in the dark, where the strength to keep her safe CAME from…
(The wings sweep down, engulfing you completely for a brief moment in utter blackness, a dark so complete it makes deep space seem bright. Then, with a start, you find yourself beside Q’ayla once more, on the bleak plain of the spirit realm, with the small imp standing before you. For a moment, as it and Q’aleane pause in their exchange briefly, it seems to catch your gaze, and its large eyes seem to glint the glowing red of burning coals…but then it is gone, and you’re not even sure you saw it.)
(You search within yourself, but cannot perceive any difference. You feel just as you did before—tired, mostly, from your seemingly fruitless efforts in this place. You find yourself wondering if anything you just experienced was real at all…)