Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic
The Story of Grazael Ulturis
“When there is power to be had, the fool hesitates.” – Keisan H’vok (Darth Havoc)
Your earliest memory is of the jungle. It’s a vague memory. You think you were about three or four years old. You were being carried by your guardian aboard a swoop, passing the trees, watching the millions of pinpricks of sunlight cascade through the canopy. Another swoop came alongside the one you were on. Apparently, you were riding in a convoy of swoops and landspeeders. There was a man in white armor on the swoop. He spoke to the man carrying you, your guardian, whose name and face you have long forgotten, but who was also wearing the same white armor. You remember hearing them say something about an army hospital fort at Mt. Tantiss.
That was your home, for a time. You don’t remember much about it. You weren’t there for very long. Later on, you would discover that you were a foundling, abandoned on a civilian transport shuttle on its way to deliver family members of patients to the army hospital fort at Mt. Tantiss. Unable to determine where you came from, or even what species you belong to, the medical staff took blood and performed a thorough health screening in preparation for your transfer to a Republic orphanage somewhere in the mid-rim. However, there was a problem with your blood test. You were suffering from some unknown childhood disease that, while harmless to others, threatened your life should you leave the planet before the disease had run its course. One of the troopers stationed at the hospital took you in and became your guardian. You remember liking him, but you don’t remember his face or his name. That bothers you.
When you were seven years old, you were packed up and shipped off to Corellia, where you found yourself a resident of the Aa’kua Doaba Orphanage in the mountain city of Bela Vistal. For the first time you can remember, you attended school with other children. Being of an unknown species, and having no formal education before coming to Corellia, you were a prime target for the cruelty of your childhood peers. Officially, you had no legal name, but your guardian used to call you Chumani, which was Old Corellian for “friend”. The other students mocked you for the name, as well as for everything else, calling you Oblivyn, which was Old Corellian for “nothing”.
You were scrawny and underdeveloped physically compared to the other students. The only student who treated you decent was a kid named Grazael Ulturis. However, he was, like you, an outcast. One particularly mean-spirited kid, Ren-ha Krees, bullied you and Grazael mercilessly in the schoolyard every day. One day, you were walking through the schoolyard on the way to the shuttle depot when Krees approached you. Grazael told you to run, and he made a break for the shuttle depot. You tripped and fell, and Krees caught up to you. Grazael looked back to you, crying, and came running back, but hesitated when Krees took a few threatening steps in his direction, Grazael ran, and you were left alone with Krees.
When you returned to the orphanage, battered and cut a custodian named Keisan H’voc took notice. He found you, crying, frustrated, and confused, as he was cleaning the floors in the hall outside your dorm room door.
“If they beat you, then you deserve to get beat.” “If you don’t want to get beat, you have to prove you don’t deserve the beating.” “Look, kid. I’ve been around a long time, seen a lot of kids come and go, but you gotta be the most tempting target for an asskicking I ever seen. That’s why those kids torment you. They look at you and they see a target, something to tease, something to hit, something to hate. That’s part of being a kid. Some kids are bullies, some kids get bullied. Guess which one you are?” “I’m telling you this because, unlike those droyks in school that beat you up and make you cry, you have control of your destiny. See (sitting down next to him), there is power to be had. This pain you feel? It’s not just on your skin or in your muscles. It’s in your heart. It’s hate. You have control, kid. You have control over what to do with all the hate those bullies gave you.” Keisan took you to see a nurse, who treated your bruises and cuts. She told you that you would need to take a few days off of school in order to allow your wounds to mend. She advises you to try to make a peace offering to the bully that did this. Keisan smiled and said “Great idea! Let’s reward his tormenters for doing such a bang up job… banging him up.” The nurse argues that your life would be much easier if you found a way to get the kid who did this to like you, and the best way to do that would be a gesture of peace. Keisan waited until you left the nurse’s office before turning to you and saying “Peace is a lie, kid. You go that skragging route and you’re always going to deserve having your ass handed to you. ” He then turned to leave. “I got better things to do than to counsel losers like you, kid. You want to coddle your tormentor, be my frinking guest. I got work to get to. Later, chump.”
While all the other kids left the orphanage to go to school, you were left alone in the building with Keisan.
At midday on the first day of your forced convalescence, you found Keisan practicing an ornate martial art in the central garden, swinging a mop handle around in a series of brutal thrusts and vicious angular slashes. He told you to come out of the shadows, knowing you were watching even though he didn’t have to look your way.
“Have you given any thought to what we talked about yesterday, kid?” “The first thing to remember is that hate isn’t a sin. It’s a symptom. It’s as natural as any other powerful emotion. It’s a passion. If you know what you’re doing, and you are determined not to deserve any more of those beatings, you can learn to use that passion to gain strength.” “As it is right now, if you go back to school, you’re going to get your sorry ass beaten again, and you’ll deserve it. I’m guessing you don’t want that, right?” “I can teach you many things, kid. I can teach you to harness your hate and put it to work for you. I can teach you to let your passion make you stronger, and let your strength empower you. But you have to be willing. I can’t force you to learn, and honestly, I don’t give a flying skrag whether you get beaten again or not. This ain’t about me. It’s about you, so it’s got to be you that decides to do whatever it takes to control your hate and let it free you.” “Good. Your first lesson begins now. I want you to close your eyes and picture yourself back in the schoolyard. That kid Krees came over to you. He hit you in the face.”
You feel the sting of a smashing blow to your face, right where Krees hit you yesterday. Your eyes open to see Keisan standing over you, his fist curled, your blood smeared across his knuckles.
“Don’t hate me, hate Krees. Close your eyes and hate him!”
Keisan beats you with his bare hands, but in your mind, Krees is your attacker. Your initial sobs fade away during the course of the day. Keisan beats you for three solid hours, until you fall unconscious. Then, you have a powerful dream.
In this dream, as Krees is hailing fists down on you, you places suddenly change. You see him, a bloody, broken mess on the ground, and you keep hitting him. You scream his name. You hate Krees. You hate him so bad, you can taste the hate. It’s bitter, like cold metal in your mouth. You hear Krees pleading for mercy, his cries, his tears, and they just make you hate him more. You feel the sting of his blood in your eyes. It’s making everything turn all sorts of colors.
Suddenly, you come to. You are in a hospital bed. A medical droid checks on you and asks how many digits it is holding up. It informs you that you have been in a vegetative state for over a month. You had sustained severe trauma to most of your body. You have a visitor. It is Keisan. He looks into your eyes and smiles.
“Yes. That’s it. You have the passion, now. Next, we work on your strength.”
When you were released from the hospital and sent back to the orphanage, you were not yet medically cleared to attend school. Keisan summoned you to the garden, where a month earlier he nearly beat you to death to teach you how to harness your hate. He has a metal bucket on the ground at his feet. He tells you to lift the bucket. You try to, but it is too heavy. It is about a quarter of the way full of small black metal spheres.
“Close your eyes.” “What you are holding is not a bucket. It is that kid Krees’ arm. Hear him sobbing, pleading with you to show mercy. Feel the hate and use it. Plant your foot on his neck and pull his arm out of its skragging socket.” “Open your eyes.”
You are holding the bucket in the air. You lifted it. You could not before, but now, you feel your passion coursing through your body, through your muscles, and it has made you stronger. But the strength fades and you drop the bucket.
You tore Kree’s arm off three hundred times that day. By the time the sun had set, Keisan had filled the bucket nearly halfway with those black metal spheres. The next day, you were dragging “Krees” by the arm up a tree, dropping him off, leaping down and repeating the process. Using your hate, Keisan had you repeat a different physical exercise every day, over and over, building your strength as the days went by. Two weeks later, you were set to return to school.
“Lesson three is today. You have proven your commitment so far, but as far as I’m concerned, you still deserve to be bullied. You must use your newfound strength to gain power. Only then, can your power grant you victory, break your chains, and free you from your tormenters. Are you still committed? Will you do what must be done?”
The word Victory has a surprising ring to it. You feel as comfort from the word itself.
“Excellent. Have a good day at school, kid.”
You go to school and run into Grazael as you begin to enter the schoolyard. All the students are gathering to enter the building. You see Keisan standing at the doorway, looking in your direction. He glances at Grazael, and then at you, and nods. You hear his voice in your head. “He deserves it. Give him what he deserves, and claim power from your strength.”
You beat Grazael up. You hate him. You are beating him so viciously that blood pours from his face and cuts open in your hands, but you keep at it. Krees pulls you off of Grazael and asks “What the hell is the matter with you? You’re gonna kill him!”
“No,” you found yourself saying. “I’m going to kill you.”
You turned your rage on Krees and began to tear him apart. He threw a punch and you caught it in your hand. There was a moment of intense silence, and then your hand clamped down onto his fist and crushed it with your might. He crumpled to the ground, helpless, and his fear fed your power. You kicked him in the face so hard he flew a dozen meters in a perfectly straight line and smashed into the trunk of a tree. Then, the Corellian Security Forces arrived to break up the fight. One of them was checking on Grazael, looked up from his slack body, and shook his head. The officer closest to you had a look of abhorrence and confusion when he met your gaze.
You looked for Keisan, who said “your chains are broken.” He leapt from the stairs and kicked one of the CSF officers in the head, then pulled the officer’s stun baton from his hand and flung it into the face of another officer. He took you by the hand and ran. As the officers gave chase, Keisan spun on his heels, held his palms up, and the ground at their feet tore up beneath them. Then he pushed his palms forward and all the debris he just tore up flung into your pursuers.
“Come on. Our ship leaves in twenty minutes.” “Your new home. Your true home. Korriban.” “That power you felt? It was the Force. Your Force. That’s what freed you. That’s why we’re going to Korriban. You’re ready.” “No, ready to stop settling for simple surviving. Ready to start living only for victory.”
That word again.
You arrived on Korriban four years ago. You were eight years old. Keisan brought you before Headmaster Jorak Uln and his apprentice, Uthar Wynn.
“He is ready.” “He is a boy.” “He is ready. Do not question my wisdom, Uln.” “… I wouldn’t dream of it, Lord Havoc. Come this way, child.” Keisan didn’t say a word to you. You caught a proud look in his eyes as you were ushered off into the Valley of the Dark Lords. “Did Lord Havoc teach you the ways of the Sith?” “Well, he says you are ready. I find it preposterous to believe, but I do not question a Dark Lord of the Sith, at least until I’ve seen with my own eyes that my suspicions are correct. Here we are. This is the tomb of Naga Sadow. He was perhaps the greatest of the Old Sith. Within this tomb you will earn your place among us. Are you prepared to do what must be done, young one?”
As you enter the Tomb of Naga Sadow, you hear the sound of a savage beast growling in its depths. Uln looks on, arms folded, and watches as you disappear into the dark depths of the tomb.
Within, your breaths echo against the walls. You see carvings, dusty and broken, depicting scenes from the life of Naga Sadow. You see a war, between the Sith, and then against a common foe. Then, you hear a low, rumbling growl from behind you. You see a pair of glowing red eyes and a set of gnashing, razorlike teeth. You hear a voice in your head. It is that of Master Jorak Uln’s apprentice, Uthar Wynn.
“What you see is called a Tuk’ata, also known as a Sith hound. It is a guardian of the tomb you are standing in. It is also your test. I am not supposed to help you, but I have an investment in seeing you succeed despite my master’s doubts.”
The Tuk’ata is circling around you, sneering, an intelligence in its eyes that unnerves you. It is twice your size. It is jagged and has thick scaly skin.
“There is a rust colored tile on the wall to your right. Crush through it and reach in. Use what you find in that hidden compartment to kill the Tuk’ata and prove Darth Havoc right.
You feel a handle of some sort and pull a sword, its blade coursing with an energy that wraps itself around you like a suit of armor. The Tuk’ata pounces on you, but you get the sword up into its jaws just in time. It is massive and heavier than you, and it pushes you to the ground. You hear it speaking into your mind. “Make peace with your fate, child, for I dine on your flesh this day.” You say “Peace is a lie” You push yourself up off the floor, lifting the giant beast off of you. “There is only Passion.” You arch your left arm and place your hand onto the blade of the Sith Sword. Your blood pushes out of fresh cuts on your palm and fingers. “Through passion, I gain strength.” You twist the blade and it cuts deep into the Tuk’ata’s skull. You hear its jaw snap with the force of your attack. “Through strength, I gain power.” The Tuk’ata lunges for your leg. You leap over it and jab the tip of the blade down through the top of its skull. “Through power, I gain victory.” You twist the blade and use your power to rip the creature’s head from its body. “Through victory, my chains are broken.” You walk back outside and past Master Jorak Uln, placing a Sith Sword with a severed Tuk’ata head impaled on it into his arms. “The Force shall free me.”
Keisan, or Darth Havoc, has a wide smile on his face as you approach him, leaving Jorak Uln dumbfounded at the steps of Naga Sadow’s Tomb.
“I leave, now, to meet with my master. I leave you to your studies, young one. You will need a name. Perhaps you should take the name of your little friend, as a reminder of what you have come from, and how far the Force has brought you. So long, Grazael Ulturis. Welcome to your life.
That was four years ago. You are now twelve. You are remarkable for your ability to use the Force to augment your strength, making you capable of causing tremendous damage even unarmed. You never heard from Darth Havoc again, his destiny lying elsewhere. You have, since coming here, led a far better life. You have the respect of most of the students, and the fear of those who do not respect you. The Headmaster, Uln, went insane and was exiled from the academy, left to wander the surface of Korriban. He was replaced by his apprentice, Uthar Wynn, who holds you in high regard and treats you well.
Recently, a few new students arrived on Korriban, recruited by Master Wynn. They are both former Jedi students, as a majority of the recruits here were. Master Wynn explained that you were special because you came to the Force free from the taint of the Jedi teachings, as it should be. Former Jedi students always carry the burden of the false lessons of their failed order, and it is like the one last chain their power can rarely break.