Azronger

"This Heart is the heart of the world, for one was made to satisfy the other."

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Frozen is wrong

Jokes aside, he really is. I mean that. Nothing against the guy - I'm sure he'd be cool to have a beer with - but he is wrong.

Don't ban me.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Importance of The Great Divide

The labyrinthine wasteland symbolizes this blog
The labyrinthine wasteland symbolizes this blog

The most scorned episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender by far is the eleventh episode of the first season, “The Great Divide.” Many fans hold the policy of omitting the episode from their rewatches, and some even encourage first-time viewers to skip it. Common pejoratives in the discourse surrounding the episode are “boring” and “filler,” the latter so much so that it has coined the phrase, “the only filler episode in all of Avatar.” The purpose of this blog is to investigate the accuracy of these polemics, to see whether the most loathed chapter in an otherwise beloved show is truly as worthless as is often claimed, or whether there is more to it than meets the eye.

The first perspective I will look at is that of the plot. The goal of the Gaang in the first season is to travel to the Northern Water Tribe so Aang may learn waterbending, which will, in the overarching narrative of the show, help him become a fully-realized Avatar so he may oust the Fire Lord and restore balance to the world. Does “The Great Divide” advance this plot point? Well, it certainly moves the Gaang physically closer to their destination, so in some sense it does. However, as the Gaang choose to walk across the canyon instead of flying on Appa’s back, the episode actually only hinders their progress by making them eschew the most expedient method of travel they had available. The episode does not build upon secondary plot points either, nor does it set up any new ones - the conflict between the Zhang and Gan Jin tribes is forgotten about for the rest of the show, and none of the characters introduced here ever appear again. From the standpoint of the plot, “The Great Divide” is wholly unimportant.

However, although an episode may not be plot-relevant, this doesn’t automatically render it filler. After all, some of the most cherished episodes in the series include “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” and “The Beach,” neither of which advance the plot in the slightest, instead serving as sublime vessels for character insight and growth. But can the same be said for “The Great Divide”? Not really. The disagreement between Katara and Sokka over the necessity of erecting a tarpaulin is entirely artificial and is only used as impetus for Sokka bonding with the Zhang tribe, and Katara doing the same with the Gan Jin tribe, which in itself doesn’t serve any real purpose as Aang orders them to accompany the tribes regardless. Sokka and Katara also accept the reasoning that the other tribe must be doing the same as valid justification for smuggling food into the canyon, making the siblings seem remarkably petty and idiotic as nowhere in the rest of the show is it indicated they ever learned from this; this plot point is only used as a way of getting the tribes to work together against the attacking canyon crawlers, but even that is ultimately worthless as afterward they are about to slaughter each other anyway until Aang convinces them not to. The lie he spins to do so makes Aang appear as if he’s one for the maxim “the ends justify the means” when it comes to engendering harmony and fulfilling his duty as the Avatar, although the series finale clearly depicts otherwise; perhaps it could be construed as character development, but as this incident is never touched on again, I’m doubtful. All in all, the characters in “The Great Divide” exist as if in a vacuum - the canyon guide and the Zhang and Gan Jin tribes quite literally so, as they are never again even mentioned, but even the main trio behave in a manner that is not as much antithetical to their personalities as it is inconsequential. As far as characterization goes, nothing is gained by watching it and nothing is lost by skipping it.

Thematically, “The Great Divide” does not fare much better either. The conundrum proposed by the tarpaulin issue - whether it is better to rely on probability for the sake of efficiency or whether it is better to prepare for the worst just in case even if it is unlikely and takes more work - is not properly answered. It may appear that the show endorses Sokka’s side as it ultimately does not rain, but the characters have forgotten about the quarrel by the end of the episode, and most likely the viewers have as well. Generally, if the show does not call explicit attention to something, then that is not the focus; the tarpaulin conflict is used for building (irrelevant) character dynamics, not for thematic exploration. The real emphasis of the episode is on the dispute between the Zhang and the Gan Jin, the thematic potential of which is squandered by Aang fabricating the ballgame between Jin Wei and Wei Jin. How apropos it would have been for the history of the two tribes to have been distorted from an innocuous game between friends to this hateful caricature, when that is later revealed to be almost exactly what has happened to the Fire Nation. Instead of a message about human fallibility and the dangers of historical revisionism, which could have been tied to the show’s chief antagonistic force to weave a cohesive thematic tapestry, we get a completely unnecessary subversion of expectations for the sake of it.

The only aspect in which “The Great Divide” is not substantively void is in its world building, but even in this aspect its triumphs are miniscule for the simple reason that the world doesn’t feel any lesser without it; everything new additions like the eponymous Great Divide, the canyon crawler animal species, and the Zhang and Gan Jin tribes bring to the table is present elsewhere. It’s important that the people of a nation the size of a continent aren’t culturally homogenous, but this diversity is witnessed plenty of times in the different settlements such as Kyoshi Island, Omashu, Gaoling, and Ba Sing Se, among others, so two new tribes aren’t necessary for it to be conveyed or felt. Likewise, Avatar already had an extensive catalogue of fauna unique to its world, and a formula for easily inventing new species - knowledge of the canyon crawler’s existence doesn’t do anything for the viewer. Similarly, geographical and topographical variation is seen in the multitude of forests, deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, badlands, volcanoes, and so on - one doesn’t need to be shown a canyon to believe that the Earth Kingdom could be a real place. The storytelling rule applicable to all these cases is that not every little detail needs to be shown or explained; if peering into the world through a keyhole, so to speak, is enough for the viewer to understand and appreciate the story, then the rest can be left to one’s imagination - sometimes that may even help the viewer to engage with the fiction more intimately. “The Great Divide” is not worth watching solely for these smidgens of trivia; without any plot relevance, character development, or thematic heft, its world building elements fail to carry it on their own.

Not even the Canyon Guide could survive this one
Not even the Canyon Guide could survive this one

So, I have just spent four paragraphs lambasting this episode from every narratological angle, finding practically no value in it. How, then, can this essay be titled “The Importance of The Great Divide”? The answer is simple: it is not the episode that is flawed, but rather the very principles of narratology itself - and in a broader sense, our perceptions altogether. In his talk, “Nature of God,” theologian Alan Watts expounds Eastern religious concepts to a Western audience. The crux of his argument revolves around the idea of the substance, the underlying foundation, of reality. To borrow some of his analogies, when we read a book, we focus on the printed text but ignore the page; when we peer into outer space, we focus on the stars and planets but ignore the ubiquitous blackness. Yet without the paper, without the blackness, without the so-called nothingness, the so-called things on them could not exist or be observed - instead of being distinct and diametrically opposed, thingness and no-thingness are manifestations of a greater whole, yin and yang. The same applies in the case of life and death: upon birth, one’s consciousness blossoms, and upon death, it dissipates. As everything we perceive is merely movements of consciousness, then without it reality as we know it collapses; death is equivalent to never being born at all, in which case all things in existence - all concepts, categorizations, and divisions; consciousness, time, and space; and indeed narratology, story structure, and objective quality in art - are but emptiness on a timeless canvas, the imaginary figments of an inscrutable godhead.

Consider now a less esoteric explanation. One looks at the body one’s consciousness inhabits, declares it to be “me,” and everything else to be the outside world. Yet even the body can be divided into smaller segments, into organ systems, organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, nucleons, elementary particles, strings, and so on. Can one say any of these is still “me”? One can peel apart the human body into as many pieces as possible and one will never find the self. The sense of self is real, sure, but not any concrete object one can point to and call “the self” like one can a chair. It is entirely arbitrary to demarcate between the exterior of one’s skin and everything else - the body responds just the same to things outside it as it does to things within it; there is no difference between an interaction such as the beating of the heart and the flow of blood, and the interaction of light from the sun hitting the retina and the retina sending a nerve impulse to the brain where a visual image that impels the body to react appropriately is formed. Taken to its conclusion, this of course means that one is all and all is one - distant galaxies at the edge of the observable universe are just as much “you” as your brain is. Therefore, the underlying foundation of the omniverse, God, is also you.

Strip away all artifice, and see the unseeable
Strip away all artifice, and see the unseeable

In conclusion, you are already in touch with God. And, because the separation between yourself, time, space, and God is a fiction, you are God. One thing cannot cause suffering and another happiness because there is no difference between them. Thus, every moment, including every moment spent watching “The Great Divide,” is perfect.

Bibliography:

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Is Fire Lord Ozai a good villain?

Ozai revels in the opportunity to kill a child
Ozai revels in the opportunity to kill a child

Many hold the viewpoint that the main antagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai, fails as a villain because of his one-dimensional personality of pure evil seemingly for the sake of it, especially when contrasted with many of the much more nuanced villains the franchise has to offer, such as his daughter, Azula. Now, it is admittedly true that the Fire Lord is basically just a walking conglomeration of narcissism, megalomania, psychopathy, and just about any negative characteristic you can think of. However, whether that makes for a bad villain depends entirely on whether you believe it is necessary for a good villain to have a deep personality, complex motivations, or a sympathetic backstory. My contention is that the principal role of a villain is not to be an interesting person, but rather, it is to oppose the hero.

Substantiating that claim is not difficult, as even a cursory dive into narratology reveals that any drama requires a conflict to propel the plot forward. It is then the protagonist’s job to resolve said conflict, so logically, the main obstacle for them is going to be the perpetrator of that conflict, the antagonist. The absence of the antagonist means no conflict, which means no reason for the protagonist to answer the call to adventure, which in turn means no story. The villain opposing the hero is therefore evidently a crucial part of any drama on a skeletal level, and how effectively the villain accomplishes this and impels growth in the hero is what determines their quality.

On a superficial level, Ozai stands as a formidable physical adversary for Aang. The threat he poses is emphasized early on to be significant enough that Aang has to master all four elements to defeat him and restore balance to the world. These are the primary duties of the Avatar, yet Aang starts out his journey shirking them, and his first instinct when faced with problems is to run away, indirectly leading to the genocide of his people as he was not there to defend them. When he is thawed out of the iceberg, he keeps being avoidant and lackadaisical about his responsibilities. Only when the impending arrival of Sozin’s Comet puts a timer on his quest does he get outside his comfort zone and step up to the challenge for real. Nonetheless, Aang experiences doubt, anxiety, and nervous breakdowns among other turbulent emotions throughout his journey over the prospect of fighting the Fire Lord, who has been built up as a menace larger than life itself, both to the audience and in Aang’s own mind. For two thirds of the series, his face is deliberately obscured, and most of the time he is not shown as anything but a brooding silhouette, with the chilling vocal performance of Mark Hamill accentuating his almost satanic persona as the supreme overlord of the Fire Nation. His terrifying display of lightningbending during the Day of Black Sun cements him as every bit as dangerous as he has been hyped up to be, and the tension continues to escalate until Aang’s climactic battle with the most powerful firebender on the planet fueled by the infernal energy of Sozin’s Comet finally commences. Aang is ultimately triumphant, and emerges as a far more courageous and responsible individual by the end of his ordeal than he was at the start, having made up for his past mistakes and redeemed his flaws. His character arc is complete, mainly thanks to Ozai’s presence in the story.

The Fire Lord compels Aang to face his fears and confront a threat bigger than he is
The Fire Lord compels Aang to face his fears and confront a threat bigger than he is

Of course, the final battle is not without its detractors. Some criticize the minimal personal connection between Aang and Ozai, and feel the fight does not carry any emotional heft when juxtaposed with the somber culmination of the lifelong sibling rivalry between Zuko and Azula. True enough, this is the first time the two have ever met, and on paper it admittedly does sound odd to have the main hero and villain not interact even once until the penultimate episode of a rather lengthy television series. However, the point was never for the emotional stakes of the battle to be contingent on the combatants as people, but rather the broader ideas they personify. Ozai is more than just a random bad guy for the hero to beat up; he is representative of the dehumanization of the Fire Nation as a whole. All the suffering wrought by his forefathers lives through him metaphorically in who he is as a person, and more literally in the power of Sozin's Comet, which he harnesses to finish the work his grandfather started by killing the last airbender. Aang is the only survivor of the victims of the Fire Nation's depravity from the Comet’s previous appearance; his insistence on finding a pacifistic solution to the war is preserving the last bit of Air Nomad culture left in the world, for if he kills Ozai then the Fire Nation's genocide is successful - not materially, but in spirit. And beyond just being an Air Nomad, Aang is the Avatar, and is therefore the literal reincarnation of Roku, much like Ozai is the figurative reincarnation of Sozin. Their collision is the closing of a cycle more than a century in the making and transcends the level of individuals, so their lack of personal connection is ultimately inconsequential for the real meaning of the fight to shine through.

This concept would not work if Ozai were morally ambiguous. He must unequivocally be a tremendous negative influence on the world, and has to be someone who cannot be reasoned with or subdued peacefully, for Aang’s dilemma to truly be a dilemma. And while I do concur with the critics that the resolution - a lion turtle bestowing upon Aang the ability to remove bending - is too convenient, I am also of the opinion it is only tangentially related to Ozai’s quality as a villain, and is moreso an issue of writing the protagonist into a corner without foreshadowing the way in which they escape their predicament. Many people also take this criticism too far in misinterpreting the act as sidestepping the moral question altogether, when the creators have directly stated they intended for Aang to remove the Fire Lord’s bending before the series was even greenlit by the network in The Art of the Animated Series, so it can very well be read as an attempt to answer the question rather than to dodge it: one should always seek an alternative to violence. But more important for the narrative itself is not how the decision resonates with the audience, but its ramifications for Aang as a character and for the overall thematic framing of the fight. Aang’s choice is not just an immediate victory for his own conscience, but a posthumous one for the Air Nomads as well, and serves as the denouement to his personal arc and that of the Hundred-Year War itself through the vicarious redemption of Roku. One can, of course, doubt whether this victory is deserved due to the lion turtle’s last-minute appearance, but I would argue it is still partially earned because of what the lion turtle says about energybending: "The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can tough the poison to hatred without being harmed. [...] To bend another’s energy, your own spirit must be unbendable, or you will be corrupted and destroyed." Essentially, only by displaying unwavering conviction in his own values in the first place is Aang able to connect with Ozai’s innermost self, and experience all that Ozai is, without being influenced by it, thus allowing him to resolve the conflict without bloodshed. In this way, the Fire Lord as the villain tests Aang as the protagonist in more ways than in just being a physical opponent to train for and conquer in a fight; his one-dimensional evil nature lends itself very well to the thematic struggle between the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads as explicitly embodied in the final battle, and implicitly so in Aang’s inner turmoil.

The clash between the Avatar and the Fire Lord is about much more than just a feud between two people
The clash between the Avatar and the Fire Lord is about much more than just a feud between two people

Furthermore, Ozai’s significance extends past being the antagonist for Aang - he is also that for Zuko, the deuteragonist from whose point of view the audience witnesses almost as much of the story as from Aang’s. Both Ozai and Azula are responsible for the psychological damage Zuko endures as a child, but Ozai is the more culpable of the two because Azula's conduct towards her brother is directly engineered by him. It is Ozai’s emotional abuse that turns his son servile and plants the seed of an inferiority complex in his head, and it is his physical abuse that sets Zuko on his voyage to capture the Avatar. The idea that his worth as a person is tied to his father’s approval is what motivates Zuko for the majority of his time in the show, and so he tries everything in his power to restore his honor. As with Aang, the looming specter of the Fire Lord dominates Zuko’s psyche as well, and their perspective is likewise the audience’s only impression of him as well, all the way until Zuko finally comes face-to-face with his father after more than three years. When Ozai’s face is finally shown fully up close, the audience sees that the dreaded Fire Lord is just a regular man, not some inhuman monster like one may have expected from his earlier presentation and actions. The scene then cuts back and forth between Zuko and Ozai’s reunion, and Katara and Hakoda’s heart-to-heart. Ozai coldly lists his son’s accomplishments without a smidgen of affection in his voice, assigning value to Zuko only in what he can do for him, not in who he is; whereas Hakoda embraces his daughter and consoles her in her grief and confusion, assuring her that she and her brother are the most important things to him in the world, and that he thought of them every night when they were separated.

It is here that Ozai’s purpose as a villain shifts, from conjuring images of otherworldly, diabolic evil, to representing more grounded, familiar evil. The point of the interactions between him and Zuko, and Hakoda and Katara, being cut the way they are is to show that a man guilty of disparaging, plotting to murder, disfiguring, publicly shaming, and exiling his barely-teenage child is just as human as a man who treasures his children above all and exudes unconditional love for them. This dichotomy sets up one of the cardinal themes of Book Three regarding the duality of humanity, an idea that is explored throughout the season on three different levels. First, there is the intrapersonal level, encapsulated in Zuko’s internal conflict. In the Fire Nation, he doesn’t have his uncle to turn to for advice; he only has himself and the experiences he has brought with him from his travels in the Earth Kingdom. He is truly alone, and any decisions he makes between his warring sides are entirely his own. Second, there is the interpersonal level, shown in the dynamics between people of opposing moralities. For Aang, this comes in the form of his conundrum over whether to kill the Fire Lord, and his fight with him; and for Zuko, it is likewise encapsulated in his relationship with his abusive father and his decision to stand up to him. Third, there is the cultural level, seen in the dual zeitgeist of the Fire Nation itself. Older Fire Nation citizens are often depicted as much more ruthless and decadent than their younger counterparts, gleefully suggesting sending fresh recruits to the front as bait while knowing they’ll be slaughtered, being unfazed by half of the face of a 13-year-old boy being burned off by his own father, happily murdering innocents, verbally and physically abusing their own children, needlessly tormenting prisoners, killing their own subordinates for negligible offenses, applauding continental genocide, forbidding their students from self-expression in schools, and so on. Conversely, the students in Fire Nation schools are not "depraved little fire monsters" as Sokka stereotyped, but rather normal, impressionable kids; Fire Nation teenagers relaxing on the beach are just as ordinary; and even many of the younger soldiers are shown to be somewhat laid back, cracking jokes, and exhibiting a genuine sense of camaraderie among each other, sometimes even being kind to prisoners.

The theme of good and evil within humanity reaches a climax in the confrontation between Zuko and Ozai, in which all three layers are superimposed. Zuko has come to the realization that he has only made the choices he has to please a father who never did and never will love him, and to the decisions to confront him and switch sides, on his own without outside influence. Where in "The Beach" he expressed confusion over not knowing the difference between right and wrong, six episodes later he stands firm in his ideals and rejects his dark side - figuratively represented by Ozai - fully. He likewise condemns his father’s horrific mistreatment of him, and stands his ground against all of Ozai’s taunts and retorts. When Ozai attempts to kill him with lightning after the eclipse is over, Zuko uses a technique invented by his uncle to redirect it, symbolizing his newfound resilience in the face of his father’s abuse and the courage to turn it back on him through the lessons he has learned. Lastly, the two men epitomize the cultural schism in the Fire Nation itself. Ozai is the generation in power, a generation that has been utterly consumed by the chauvinism fed to them in their own youth, a generation that has lost their conscience; whereas Zuko is the up-and-coming generation, a generation that has been misled but has not fully yielded to systemic oppression, a generation complicit in many vile deeds but still possessing boundless potential for good. By drawing on all his time with Iroh and people of other nationalities to fuel his argument, Zuko is able to see and expose the sentiment about the Fire Nation’s unparalleled greatness justifying the ongoing war as a lie. He denounces the version of the Fire Nation espoused by his father, and walks away from his abuser for good, determined to set things right. The bulk of his character arc is complete, made all the more effective by Ozai acting as a brilliant foil for him.

Ozai's simplicity precipitates thematic complexity
Ozai's simplicity precipitates thematic complexity

There is still one more central character for whose development Ozai is the chief influencer: Azula. In a way, she is just as much a victim of her father’s abuse as Zuko, as Timothy Hickson intricately breaks down in his masterpiece, "The Psychology of Azula." It is her prodigious aptitude for firebending as a child that catches the Fire Lord’s eye, causing him to favor her over Zuko. She carries the emotional burden of all of Ozai’s expectations and demands into her teens, molding her into a sociopathic human weapon obsessed with satisfying her father. From his example she comes to believe all interpersonal relationships are vertical, and that fear is the only reliable way to ensure the loyalty of others. However, following her friends’ betrayal, and Mai’s declaration that her love for Zuko is a stronger motivator than her fear of Azula, the Fire Princess’s worldview and identity are threatened. She seeks validation from the last person she is emotionally close to, but she hasn't learned the lesson Zuko has when it comes to Ozai's supposed affection. He discards her when she has outlived her usefulness, departing to claim all the glory from the genocide of the Earth Kingdom for himself alone as the newly-minted Phoenix King, only granting Azula the now-meaningless title of Fire Lord to keep her quiet. After this she becomes erratic, paranoid, and starts showing signs of a burgeoning schizoaffective disorder. Zuko then arrives to challenge her for the throne, and while the resulting clash is the continuation of the battle for the soul of Fire Nation through the battle of the great-grandchildren of Roku and Sozin, and the respective protégés of Iroh and Ozai, it is not as much epic or triumphant as it is just sad. Two siblings, defined by their shared upbringing under their tyrannical father, but where one has found the resolve to turn away from him and walk his own path, the other has indelibly succumbed to his corruption and now teeters on the precipice of insanity. Azula’s humiliating loss to her inferior brother in an Agni Kai is merely the straw that breaks the camel's back; all the groundwork for her descent into arrant madness is laid by Ozai's psychological conditioning and neglect.

The diametric journeys of Zuko and Azula are marked by their father's cruelty
The diametric journeys of Zuko and Azula are marked by their father's cruelty

In conclusion, all the thematic subtext of Aang and the Fire Lord’s final showdown, the catharsis of Zuko confronting his father, and the tragic beauty of the Last Agni Kai, would be lost if Ozai were not who he is. Only because of his uncompromising malevolence does Aang have to embark on a quest of self-mastery and mastery of the elements to redeem the Avatar’s honor and preserve the traditions of the Air Nomads, and only under his callous and domineering parenting can Zuko and Azula develop into the people they become. So if Ozai's impact on the narrative at large, and on some of the most beloved characters in the franchise, is so monumental and undeniable, how can he be thought of as a bad villain? Does someone predominantly written to be a cluster of abstract ideas coalesced into a man in order to fulfill his function in the story really need humanizing traits on top of everything he already brings to the table to be adequate? All the necessary backstory and context for his actions is already there in the Fire Nation itself, the regime that spawned him, his father, grandfather, and all the other morally bankrupt officials in positions of authority. Ozai may be a straightforward and uncomplicated villain, but he is far from a bad one. His limited characterization is used to its maximum effect wherever it is needed.


Bibliography:

  • "The Psychology of Azula." (Hello Future Me; 2019)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Art of the Animated Series (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konitezko; 2010)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko; 2005 - 2008)
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The Philosophical Themes In The Legend of Korra's Book Four

A pensive Korra gazes into the sunset
A pensive Korra gazes into the sunset

The Legend of Korra's fourth season is often acclaimed for its exploration of depression, crisis of identity, PTSD, and the journey to recovery from trauma. Interlaced with its psychological elements, however, is a broader philosophical discourse about the apparent pointlessness of living in and fighting against a cyclical world which inexorably seems to always rewind for the worse despite our best efforts. Simultaneously, and in tandem with that, the season concludes Korra's coming-of-age story the show has been setting up for the past three seasons. It's these more often overlooked themes of the work I aim to shed a light on in this thesis, and in the process perhaps spark greater appreciation for what I find to be an underrated season of the show.

The idea that life is a Sisyphean task is directly touched upon in two episodes of Book Four. In "Coronation," the now-wisened and elderly Toph rather bluntly knocks our protagonist’s pride down a peg with a few words regarding her erstwhile career as Republic City’s Chief of Police, and relates that to Korra’s own role and ambitions as the Avatar. Essentially, she expresses that nothing Korra does ultimately matters in the end. Despite initially dismissing this, Korra eventually concedes to Toph’s point, and carries the sentiment with her past her physical recuperation into her return to her duties as the Avatar. In "Remembrances," she shares this thought with Asami, and laments her life by citing the futility of her past struggles: each time an enemy threatening balance was defeated, a new one appeared shortly after, sometimes as a direct consequence of the events of the previous conflict. As a result the world has debatably been left in a worse state than when Korra first began her journey. This line of thinking reflects nihilism - the belief that life has no intrinsic value, and that humanity is helplessly subject to the grand sweep of the universe, next to which it is wholly insignificant.

Toph hits Korra with hard truths but valuable lessons
Toph hits Korra with hard truths but valuable lessons

A glance at the wider history of the Avatar world reveals how Korra’s dispirited evaluation of her own life is merely a microcosm of a larger spiral pervading the universe. The first ever Avatar, Wan, dedicates the greater part of his life to establishing peace within, and between, humans and spirits, but in his dying breath bemoans the failure of his self-appointed mission. Over a hundred Avatar incarnations later, the sentient inhabitants of the world are still awash in similar struggles that were prevalent in Wan’s time, showing how insubstantial the Avatar’s existence has been for the purpose of fixing things in the long term: one of Wan’s successors, Szeto, is forced to prioritize helping the Fire Nation over the rest of the world due to a domestic crisis, necessitating Yangchen to focus on the ailing state of humanity over properly mediating matters with the spirits, ensuring an era of prosperity for the former, but profoundly angering the latter; Kuruk then has to spend all his time preventing incensed spirits from exacting vengeance on humans, which leaves him unable to tend to affairs in the physical realm, causing the great peace of Yangchen to unravel and plunging the world into disarray in a matter of decades; Kyoshi is born into this era of violence and strife, and manages to undo the damage of Kuruk’s absence over the course of her long life, but the next Avatar, Roku, inadvertently allows for possibly the longest and bloodiest period of imbalance in human history to be ushered in; Aang is able to correct Roku’s mistake after a hundred years of war, and advance society significantly, but only a few decades after his passing new forces intent on destroying his achievements arise that Korra has to deal with. On an even broader scale, the state of the world is dictated by the interplay between two primordial spirits of light and darkness, Raava and Vaatu, who come together every ten thousand years during a celestial phenomenon known as Harmonic Convergence to do battle and usher in an age of either light or dark for the duration of the next cycle depending on the victor. Invariably, the status quo from the previous cycle is either maintained or overturned every Harmonic Convergence irrespective of the convenience of the world’s inhabitants. The Avatar has existed only for one of these decamillenial cycles, and Vaatu implies there have been ten thousand of them before humanity even came into being, making it apparent how transient the Avatar and humans as a whole are in the face of the greater cosmos.

Korra’s pessimistic framing of the situation, however, is her own construct. Toph never once makes a value judgement about the cosmic insignificance of individual effort - it is merely what Korra takes away from the conversation when viewing it through her still-depressed and immature lens. It takes the appearance of Tenzin to shake her out of her gloom. He corroborates Korra’s assessment of the nature of the world, but explains (albeit rather expositorily and tersely for such an involved topic) that her outlook on the matter is skewed. Instead of concerning herself with notions of immutable, everlasting, universal impact, she should look at what she can improve and has improved in this life for the people of this age, herself among them. In effect, Tenzin advocates for the same thing as Toph did in her lesson on the dialectic nature of adversity (which Korra then failed to heed), and the personal meaning one can derive from it (also briefly referenced by Katara in "Korra Alone"). The YouTube video "What Writers Should Learn From The Legend Of Korra" examines this facet of the show in detail by drawing parallels to the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel, but I feel it is more pertinent to frame Korra’s spiritual transformation in the context of the philosophical branch of existentialism, specifically Jean-Paul Sartre’s assertion that "existence precedes essence." In short, it means that a human simply is before that human is something. Unlike a tool such a hammer, which has a purpose independent of its material existence, conscious lifeforms have no inherent, predetermined destiny in the philosophical/ethical sense. It is therefore a person’s obligation to infuse their otherwise meaningless existence with meaning, the key to which according to many existentialist philosophers is authenticity. However, most people fail at this by falling into what Sartre defines as "bad faith":

"The public demands of them that they realize it as a ceremony; there is a dance of the grocer, of the tailor, of the auctioneer, by which they endeavor to persuade their clientele that they are nothing but a grocer, an auctioneer, a tailor. A grocer who dreams is offensive to the buyer, because such a grocer is not wholly a grocer. Society demands that he limit himself to his function as a grocer, just as the soldier at attention makes himself into a soldier-thing with a direct regard which does not see at all, which is no longer meant to see, since it is the rule and not the interest of the moment which determines the point he must fix his eyes on (the sight 'fixed at ten paces'). There are indeed many precautions to imprison a man in what he is, as if we lived in perpetual fear that he might escape from it, that he might break away and suddenly elude his condition.

"In a parallel situation, from within, the waiter in the café can not be immediately a café waiter in the sense that this inkwell is an inkwell, or the glass is a glass. It is by no means that he can not form reflective judgments or concepts concerning his condition. He knows well what it "means:" the obligation of getting up at five o'clock, of sweeping the floor of the shop before the restaurant opens, of starting the coffee pot going, etc. He knows the rights which it allows: the right to the tips, the right to belong to a union, etc. But all these concepts, all these judgments refer to the transcendent. It is a matter of abstract possibilities, of rights and duties conferred on a 'person possessing rights.'"

Being and Nothingness

But a person cannot be a role before they are a person - the crux of Korra’s character arc hinges on this singular tenet. For three seasons, Korra fulfills the role of the Avatar without a true sense of self, autonomy, or freedom. Her identity is reducible to her bending prowess, spiritual connection to past Avatars, and social position. She is living life equivalent to that of an object, oblivious of her status as an existential and moral agent, so when the aforementioned things are taken from her one by one, she breaks down. Over the course of her convalescence, Korra makes progress through her capabilities separate from her Avatarhood; it is the strength of her inner spirit that propels her forward, not an arbitrary function assigned to her at birth. With this existentialist context, the dichotomy between Korra’s pre- and post-recovery mentality becomes eminently clear: as the Avatar, the prospect that one can’t save the world and that one’s accomplishments will amount to nothing after a few generations would be a source of incalculable agony; but as just another person among countless others, such a fate isn’t nearly as terrible when put in perspective. It exemplifies the difference between a bad faith actor living a lie, and an authentic human being.

It is thus thematically appropriate that when the show ends, there is not the same sense of finality as with Avatar: The Last Airbender; instead, the conclusion to The Legend of Korra feels like a new beginning. Much like with the previous three seasons, the ending of the last season isn’t a proper ending to anything except the specific conflict introduced and resolved in the last season. The crucial difference, however, is the attitude of Korra herself. She has become fully aware of her situation - of the impermanence of her efforts and achievements - and is finally at peace with it. Where previously she was mentally caged by her obsession with the - in her mind - god-given purpose of "being the Avatar," she is now intent on living life authentically as a person, free of pretense and haughty delusion. New crises will inevitably arise during and after her lifetime, but that no longer prevents her from forging for herself a destiny that is short-lived but nonetheless personally meaningful to her as a human being. Eternity may ridicule her actions, but Korra lives on, content.

Korra introspects with Tenzin and conveys her earnest desire to experience what life has to offer with renewed and matured optimism
Korra introspects with Tenzin and conveys her earnest desire to experience what life has to offer with renewed and matured optimism

Series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have expressed their intent for The Legend of Korra to have a more mature tone than its predecessor. It’s a logical choice considering the children who watched Avatar: The Last Airbender when it first premiered would have been in their teens for the sequel show, and it is likely the reason why the main cast are all young adults, why the show lingers in their much-maligned relationship drama for two whole seasons, and why it obfuscates the more binary moral landscape of its predecessor - these elements mirror the confusion and frustration permeating adolescent life. If I am on the right track, it is no accident that Book Four is chronologically isolated from the rest of the series by three years whereas the previous seasons all took place within a single year: it is the final step in the messy journey leading to adulthood, coming about only after years’ worth of trials and tribulations on part of both Korra and mostly likely many members of the audience as well. The world can at times seem unfair and random, but much like the protagonist herself in the final moments of the series, we can live out the rest of our time in it with humility and empathy for our fellow human beings as we move onto greener pastures.

Bibliography:

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The Case for Ozai Outside Sozin's Comet | Fire Lord/Phoenix King Ozai Respect Thread (2022)

"It's time for this world to end in fire, and for a new world to be born from the ashes."

Ozai is often seen as unusable in versus discussions outside of the parameters of Sozin’s Comet because of his dearth of feats. However, the few feats he does possess in his base state are of the highest caliber in the entire franchise, and he has both in-universe and out-of-universe statements establishing his capabilities further. Moreover, I believe you can reverse-engineer many of his showings under the Comet to approximate his unamped skill level. Based on all that information, I will endeavor to construct a serviceable framework around Ozai outside of Sozin’s Comet, and demonstrate that he can be used in versus discussions without too much uncertainty. The table of contents is as follows:

  • OVERALL POWER LEVEL: Establishing Ozai’s level of strength relative to other benders of his time and examining some of his feats.
  • REPUTATION: Establishing the reputation Ozai holds in-universe and explaining what that means for his combat prowess.
  • FIREBENDING SKILL: Establishing Ozai’s level of skill independent of just sheer power, or in other words, how well he can apply the power at his disposal for combat. Also demonstrating his standing as a more comprehensive firebender than just a mindless aggressor.
  • PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: Analyzing Ozai’s physical feats of stamina and resilience, and their implications for a combat scenario.
  • LOWBALLING: Picking apart some of the arguments used against Ozai in the past to place him lower than he really is, and showing why they don’t work.
  • CONCLUSION: Summarizing everything and tying it together. Also contains a bibliography for reference.

NOTE: I will be drawing on reference material outside of the mainstream TV shows and comics. This includes but is not limited to Avatar Extras and the old Nickelodeon.com databank which has been preserved on Tumblr, as well as interviews by the creators. For those who object to the legitimacy of "non-narrative sources" - sources which do not tell the story in themselves but rather commentate on it from a third person perspective, from outside the fiction itself - I would extend the simple question: why? They were made with the intent of offering real information about the world of Avatar and its characters, so dismissing them seems arbitrary to me. I know some have a strict feats-only policy, but that, too, makes little sense. Simply because something is not shown first-hand doesn't mean it isn't true or legitimate information. We could debate epistemology all day, but practically speaking, in day-to-day life, in order to function, every person does trust and even rely on information that they cannot verify with their own eyes - some examples being what is taught to us in schoolbooks, the results of scientific research, what our friends tell us about their lives, and so on. Selectively applying a myopic "I'll believe it when I see it" viewpoint to fiction feels very contrived.

Some of these detractors decry the few tidbits of outdated information in, for example, Avatar Extras, and use it as justification for disregarding the entire source. However, such an argument is founded on fallacy; specifically, the fallacy of composition, wherein one infers that something must be true of the whole from the fact that it is true for a part of the whole. Only a handful of examples serve to demonstrate why that kind of logic leads to inane and blatantly erroneous conclusions: "A car's tires are made of rubber, so the entire car must be made of rubber"; "A contestant wins the race if they run faster, so all contestants win the race if they all run faster"; "An atom is not alive, so anything made of atoms, like human beings, must not be alive either"; and so on. Similarly, "A few lines in Avatar Extras are wrong, so the entire source must be wrong" does not hold water whatsoever. I could also point out how the demarcation is arbitrary: if one dismisses more than the sentence which is incorrect, why stop at just the source from which it originates? Why not dismiss the entire Avatar franchise, since the fallacy of composition applies to it just the same? Simply put, if one piece of information has been retconned, then only that specific factoid can be disregarded; everything else remains valid until overridden by a newer source.

Of course, you do not have to agree with all my conclusions. That preamble was merely intended as a preventive measure to address some of the poorer arguments I have seen and the responses I am bound to receive. If you choose to voice your disagreement, just make sure it is backed by valid reasoning and not based on fallacy. Now, enjoy this music while you read.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncgcxQ7BaZk

OVERALL POWER LEVEL

First and foremost, Ozai is the most powerful firebender in the world as of the original series, only surpassed once Aang enters the Avatar State during their battle. The statements declaring him such come from Avatar Extras, and thus are exempt from character biases or limited information. It’s a bird’s eye, behind-the-scenes look at the show, meaning Ozai’s accolades are tantamount to scientific fact.

Fact: Ozai is the most powerful firebender. Period.

---

Did you know? Ozai was the most powerful firebender in the world…

...Until now. Aang is officially a better firebender. [In reference to Aang entering the Avatar State]

Avatar Extras - Book Three: Fire

The official Avatar: The Last Airbender YouTube channel also placed Ozai as number 1 on their list of the strongest firebenders from both the original show as well as The Legend of Korra. While I personally do not take these rankings as factual, I still felt it worth mentioning for those who put weight on their opinion (although to those who do, note that they have contradicted themselves before many times, such as with placing Ozai beneath Toph, Katara and Azula, or having Toph beat Korra in one video but be below her in another, among other silly verdicts, hence my disinclination towards caring for their rankings).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRmhBbECoG4&t=597s

“Now, that finally brings us to our number one choice: Ozai.”

Ozai's preeminence means he can output more power than any other firebender in the series. This not only includes Zuko and Azula as well as Iroh (whether you like it or not), but also the likes of Jeong Jeong, who has the single greatest firebending feat in terms of scale.

Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Deserter"

Ozai's firebending also scales over the Combustion Man's combustionbending, as the latter is still a subset of firebending rather than an entirely distinct bending discipline of its own. This means that, while Ozai isn't necessarily capable of condensing fire to create explosions with as much concussive force as the Combustion Man, his high-end attacks do contain more energy overall than anything the Combustion Man would be capable of producing. To give an idea, in his debut fight the Combustion Man’s beams stop Toph and Katara’s attacks dead in their tracks and casually blow solid rock columns into smithereens; in later outings he showcases similar caliber feats.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOLYHVX-VJc

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Beach"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGh3NrjMrFs

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Runaway"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYKOyBVU4UI

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Western Air Temple"

But most interestingly, Ozai’s accolades would also scale him over the dragons as they are technically classified as firebenders. We already know dragons have been hunted down since Sozin’s time, so it is possible for human firebenders to surpass them. Ozai, in particular, would be even more powerful than Ran and Shaw (individually, not together), two enormous dragons far larger than any others we’ve seen, jointly capable of creating a massive vortex of flame.

Zuko: “Well, this doesn’t help me. The original firebenders were the dragons, and they’re extinct.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Firebending Masters"

In fact, dragons were the original firebenders.

Avatar Extras - Book Three: Fire

Aang: “Zuko, something happened to the dragons in the last 100 years. Something you’re not telling me.”

Zuko: “My great-grandfather Sozin happened. He started the tradition of hunting dragons for glory. They were the ultimate firebenders. And if you could conquer one, your firebending talents would become legendary, and you’d earn the honorary title ‘Dragon’. The last great dragon was conquered long before I was born, by my Uncle.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Firebending Masters"
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Firebending Masters"

Here is also a good time to address Ozai’s inaugural fire blast under Sozin’s Comet. It is huge, but admittedly not that much larger than the above vortex by Ran and Shaw. Given Ozai is amplified during the feat, many assume his base strength caps out far beneath that showing. However, the blast isn't not allowed to protract to its full length as it hits the ground (the residual fire is dispersed in other directions), so we don't actually know Ozai's maximum scale under the Comet and thus can’t constrain his unamped version either. What's more, the attack isn't just immense in length, but width - more so than Ran and Shaw's - and it's so focused that the flames are following a straight line down (they are not curving backwards with the movement of the airship like most other attacks [1][2][3][4] would) and generating a force field around themselves; he can theoretically make an even bigger blast if he fires looser flames. Not to mention Ran and Shaw’s vortex is a joint feat, whereas Ozai’s is done solo, and he sustains it for twice as long as the dragons.

Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno"

Moreover, in Avatar, concentrated attacks can be more potent than large-scale ones. Aang, in the novelization of the final battle, notes that one of Ozai’s quick, regular-sized blasts are more powerful than any attack he delivered prior, including - arguably - his enormous fire plume at the start. And, indeed, it is a single, concentrated fireball that breaks through Aang’s defenses whereas a prolonged fire surge fails.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXShLPXfWZA&t=5m15s

Avatar: The Last Airbender - “Into the Inferno” and “Avatar Aang”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle

Lastly, it is important to examine Ozai’s principal feat outside of Sozin’s Comet: his lightning generation during the Day of Black Sun. To preface, the potency of lightning is proportional to its charge time, as seen in Smoke and Shadow with Azula: when she fires it instantaneously, it only scorches Kei Lo's shoulder; when she does it with quick charge time, it is powerful enough to send Zuko flying through the air, although not cause permanent injury; only with a lengthy charge time is Azula able to kill with her lightning. By comparison, Ozai's lightning against Zuko is generated in just one second, yet has the power to kill ("Your penalty will be far steeper"), obliterates the stone stairs leading to the elevated dais, and just the concussive force from the resulting explosion pretty much covers the entire screen and sends Ozai flying several meters into the air despite the lightning not even hitting him. The feat is made all the more incredible by the fact that only the tiniest sliver of the Sun (the source of all firebenders’ power which was just a moment earlier completely blocked) is visible, which suggests Ozai is in fact weakened, as firebenders are at their strongest during the day with the Sun shining brightly and are less powerful during the night when the Sun has set beyond the horizon; the fact that the disempowerment from the eclipse is a gradient rather than a binary on-or-off switch (a random soldier produces a small puff while the Sun is fully covered) also supports this. Zuko later describes the sensation of redirecting it as “exhilarating but terrifying,” stating that he felt “so powerful” handling “that much energy,” indicating Ozai instantly summoned more power than is naturally contained in Zuko’s entire chi reserves. The attack also sends Zuko sliding back several meters despite despite the redirection attempt being successful, whereas Azula's bolt Zuko is able to stand his ground against, suggesting that the gap between Zuko and his father is greater than the gap between him and his sister. I know there is a coterie of fans who believe Azula has surpassed Ozai by Smoke and Shadow, but this juxtaposition of their respective lightning feats proves otherwise.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow, Part Three

vs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3zb545mcWs&t=235s

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Eclipse"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CQGgIarUAo&t=89s

Zuko: “You rise with the Moon. I rise with the Sun.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - “Siege of the North, Part One
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Eclipse"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW89VNGqbnU&t=157s

Zuko: “There's one technique you need to know before facing my Father. How to redirect lightning. If you let the energy in your own body flow, the lightning will follow it. You turn your opponent's energy against them.”

Aang: “That's like waterbending.”

Zuko: “Exactly. My Uncle invented this technique himself by studying waterbenders.”

Aang: “So... Have you ever redirected lightning before?”

Zuko: “Once. Against my Father.”

Aang: “What did it feel like?”

Zuko: “Exhilarating. But terrifying. You feel so powerful holding that much energy in your body. But you know that you make the wrong move, it's over.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Phoenix King"

REPUTATION

Ozai’s immense power carries over to his reputation. During the show’s finale, he is considered the strongest firebender in the world by the masses. This implies Ozai has accomplished things in-universe that are public information and are seen in a better light than any of his contemporaries’ feats (note that Iroh was thought to have killed the last dragon), which fits with what Bryan Konietzko, one of the series creators, has said of Fire Nation culture, in that "It's not uncommon that you will have to fight or duel for political or military positions or purposes" and that "if there's a prince who's 30 years old, he's probably fought pretty intensely a few times" in order to "prove his worth," "make a name for themselves" and "to have some fame." Ergo, it is not just accolades from ancillary sources that depict Ozai's paramountcy; it’s feats he has accomplished throughout his career that give credence to his status - off-screen feats, yes, but feats nonetheless. If he hadn’t done anything impressive, he would not be "well known" as the best firebender of his time, but he is. For example, contrast his reputation with Fire Lord Azulon’s, who was only considered one of the most powerful firebenders during his reign, rather than definitively the strongest like his son.

Ozai is well known as the most powerful firebender in the world.

Avatar Extras - Book Three: Fire
Nick.com Encyclopedia
Nick.com Encyclopedia
"An Avatar Spring Break With Mike And Bryan"

Specific examples of Ozai’s notoriety include his Agni Kai with Zuko. When Zuko believes he would face the general whom he had contradicted, he proclaims he is not afraid and accepts the challenge without hesitation. In the arena, he confidently turns to face his opponent, but when he sees it is his father instead of Bujing, he immediately prostrates himself before the Fire Lord and begs for mercy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfh82bJ927c

Iroh: “After Zuko's outburst in the meeting, the Fire Lord became very angry with him. He said that Prince Zuko's challenge of the general was an act of complete disrespect, and there was only one way to resolve this…”

Jee: “Agni Kai. A fire duel.”

Iroh: “That's right. Zuko looked upon the old general he had insulted and declared that he was not afraid. But Zuko misunderstood. When he turned to face his opponent, he was surprised to see it was not the general. Zuko had spoken out against a general's plan, but by doing so in the Fire Lord's war room, it was the Fire Lord whom he had disrespected. Zuko would have to duel his own father. When Prince Zuko saw that it was his father who had come to duel him, he begged for mercy...”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Storm"

Azula is similarly terrified of Ozai’s anger. Her internal monologue from the series finale’s novelization reveals she had already resigned herself to being burned like Zuko when the realization of her brief insubordination hits her. In her own words, she admits she can’t defeat her father in combat. There is no ambiguity regarding who is the better out of the two: it’s Ozai.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle

Azula also doesn’t think twice about revealing the location of the Fire Lord’s bunker to Aang, Toph and Sokka once the eclipse has begun to recede during the Day of Black Sun, indicating she is confident all three would lose to Ozai with his firebending restored in spite of having seen the group in action many times before and running away herself. Sokka and Toph agree it’s best for them to retreat, and convince Aang as well. Later, on Ember Island, days before Sozin’s Comet, even with additional firebending training by Zuko, Sokka states that if Aang were to fight Ozai as he is, he would lose, with Aang assenting. And once the decision is made to confront him anyway, Aang notes how fighting the Fire Lord will be the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfa3kgZfsQY&t=56s

Azula: “Oh, sounds like firebending's back on. Dad's all the way at the end of the hall and down the secret stairway on the left. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to see you now.”

Sokka: “I fell for it! I used up all our time.”

Toph: “It's not your fault, Sokka. Azula was ready for us. She had every move planned out.”

Sokka: “And now it's too late.”

Aang: “Maybe it's not too late. The eclipse is over but I can face the Fire Lord anyway.”

Sokka: “No. I don't think that's a good idea.”

Aang: “But I'm ready! I came here with a job to do and everyone's counting on me.”

Toph: “The Fire Lord knew we were coming this time. We thought we had surprise on our side but we didn't. It just wasn't our day. What we need to do now is go help our friends.”

Aang: “I guess you guys are right.”

Sokka: “You'll have another chance. I know you will.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Eclipse"

Katara: “What's wrong with you?! You could have hurt Aang.”

Zuko: “What's wrong with me? What's wrong with all of you! How can you sit around having beach parties when Sozin's Comet is only 3 days away!”

Zuko: “Why are you all looking at me like I'm crazy?”

Aang: “About Sozin's Comet... I was actually going to wait to fight the Fire Lord until after it came.”

Zuko: “After?”

Aang: “I'm not ready. I need more time to master firebending.”

Toph: “And frankly, your earthbending could still use some work too.”

Zuko: “So... You all knew Aang was going to wait?”

Sokka: “Honestly, if Aang tries to fight the Fire Lord right now, he's gonna lose. No offence.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Phoenix King"

When Aang goes missing, Zuko believes the only other person who can stand up to his father is Iroh. However, when he pitches the idea to his uncle, Iroh shoots it down after brief consideration, stating he does not know if he could defeat Ozai in battle as one of the reasons. And no, it isn’t just humility - there is genuine doubt in his words. Keep in mind that Iroh knows lightning redirection, yet he still doesn't see himself triumphing over his brother even with Ozai's most powerful weapon neutralized. So whatever you may say about Iroh’s power, the man himself seems to believe his lightning and fire together would be insufficient to beat Ozai just with his fire alone.

Zuko: “Uncle, you're the only person other than the Avatar who can possibly defeat the Father Lord.”

Toph: “You mean the Fire Lord.”

Zuko: “That's what I just said.”

Iroh: “Hmm…”

Zuko: “We need you to come with us.”

Iroh: “No, Zuko. It won't turn out well.”

Zuko: “You can beat him and we'll be there to help.”

Iroh: “Even if I did defeat Ozai - and I don't know that I could - it would be the wrong way to end the war. History would see it as just more senseless violence, a brother killing a brother to grab power. The only way for this war to end peacefully is for the Avatar to defeat the Fire Lord.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Old Masters"

FIREBENDING SKILL

One of the earliest lessons in firebending in the show is Jeong Jeong instructing Aang about discipline - one must master themselves before they can master fire. This is exemplified in the exercise of keeping the flame from reaching the edges of the leaf, which Aang ignores in his excitement to try bending proper fire, resulting in a powerful but uncontrolled display that ends up burning Katara's hands. Many believe Ozai falls into this same camp of unrelenting power but no control - that he is closer to Zhao in temperament than he is to Iroh. This is, plainly speaking, inaccurate. Ozai's very first feat of firebending in the whole show is enough to disprove this idea, but it is ironically almost always overlooked: giving Zuko his scar. When asked, Bryan Konietzko, one of the series creators, directly stated that Zuko's vision is not impaired by his scar, only in that he cannot open his eye very wide. This means Ozai demonstrates enough surgical precision to bring a flame directly over his son's eye without impacting his eyesight, even when the most damage is being done to that region of his skin.

The burns are more severe near Zuko's eye than on the rest of his skin, as indicated by the darker red
The burns are more severe near Zuko's eye than on the rest of his skin, as indicated by the darker red
Avatar Symbolism - Tumblr
Avatar Symbolism - Tumblr

This principle of control seen in further action in Ozai's fight against Aang. Unlike Zuko and Azula, who release attacks of enormous size one after the other, Ozai is shown to favor smaller but more concentrated blasts. Aang notes that one of his regular-sized blasts on his rock shell is more powerful than any of his prior ones despite them being far bigger; it's his plasma ball/firecracker, which is tiny in size, that proves to be his most devastating move as it is able to shatter the earth ball where the others failed; and a tremendous quantity of fire is contained in just the palm of his hand when Aang knocks it away. These condensed attacks show Ozai is more efficient with his power allocation than Zuko and (insane) Azula - all the power focused on the target would obviously pack more punch than attacks which cover a larger surface area than the target's body, as much of the firepower is going to waste in that case. This is the mark of a practiced fighter who knows exactly how and where to direct his strength, not a savage brute who accidentally burns down his own ships.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXShLPXfWZA&t=5m15s

Avatar: The Last Airbender - “Into the Inferno” and “Avatar Aang”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Avatar Aang"

Ozai is also a master of lightningbending, a subset of firebending that explicitly requires a calm mind according to Iroh. Ozai is so proficient with the ability that he is able to generate two charges of lightning simultaneously, one in each hand, instead of just one. As lightning is created by first separating positive and negative energy in the user’s body into distinct pools with their collision back together releasing the bolt itself, for Ozai to create two concurrent lightning bolts and release them from different parts of his body would require him to divide his energy into four pools instead of just the usual two. This denotes unparalleled control over his own chi, exceeding both Azula and Iroh’s by on-screen evidence since neither has ever been credited with dual lightning. His skill in lightningbending can be extrapolated to regular firebending, since lightning is merely purified fire rather than its own element, and the power in both comes from chi energy in the body that is generated via breathing. Ozai’s unequaled attunement to and control over his inner chi therefore logically translates to unequaled control over fire itself. Not just sheer power, but the expertise to manipulate flames in more complicated ways than standard fireballs.

Pay attention to his hand motions which deviate from all other firebenders'
Pay attention to his hand motions which deviate from all other firebenders'
Two bolts instead of just one
Two bolts instead of just one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7DhuekqsO8

Iroh: “No! Power in firebending comes from the breath. Not the muscles. The breath becomes energy in the body. The energy extends past your limbs and becomes fire. Get it right this time.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Boy in the Iceberg"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i9aGpVi9h8

Iroh: “Lightning is a pure expression of firebending, without aggression. It is not fueled by rage or emotion the way other firebending is. Some call lightning the cold-blooded fire. It is precise and deadly, like Azula. To perform the technique requires peace of mind."

Zuko: "I see. That's why we're drinking tea: to calm the mind."

Iroh: "Oh yeah, good point! I mean, yes. There is energy all around us. The energy is both yin and yang; positive energy and negative energy. Only a select few firebenders can separate these energies. This creates an imbalance. The energy wants to restore balance and in a moment the positive and negative energy come crashing back together. You provide release and guidance, creating lightning.”

Zuko: “I'm ready to try it!”

Iroh: “Remember, once you separate the energy, you do not command it. You are simply its humble guide. Breathe first.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Bitter Work"

An unnamed young daofei, rather than Mok or Wai, stood nervously in between them with his hand raised. Kyoshi spread her fans and settled into a Sixty-Forty stance that Wong had taught her, equally good for striking or bending. Xu bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, preferring not to signal his approach to earthbending.

“Ready!” the referee shouted.

Kyoshi licked a drop of sweat off her lip. It tasted like grease. She scuffed a little more weight into her front foot. Xu began to inhale through his nose.

“Begin!” the young man shouted, before diving off the platform to safety.

Kyoshi summoned her energy, starting with her connection to the ground and extending it through her weapons. She would overwhelm her opponent with a barrage of earth.

But she was too slow. And she was playing the wrong game entirely. Xu thrust his arms forward, two fingers extended from each hand, and struck her fans with a bolt of lightning.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi

Xu breathed in again and shot a continuous stream of lightning at a target he thought was surely dead. Kyoshi smelled her clothes smoking as it washed over her body. He was desecrating her.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi

Ozai takes his chi control even further in his battle with Aang. In the midst of charging another blast of double lightning, he activates, deactivates, reactivates, and again deactivates his fire jets with his feet - effectively, he bends fire and lightning from multiple limbs simultaneously. And to clarify, Sozin's Comet only amplifies the magnitude of one’s bending; all descriptions of its effects are of increased destructive potency, and nowhere is it said to impart additional skill or enhance any other attributes. Therefore, everything Ozai does in terms of skill and technique is something he can replicate under ordinary circumstances. Bending fire and lightning at the same time is something only Azula has been shown to do in cover art for Smoke and Shadow, and there she only shoots one bolt from one hand while holding a fireball in the other. Double lightning is exclusive to Ozai, much less double lightning while bending fire with one's feet.

Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rrveZWDTjI

Roku: “One hundred years ago, Fire Lord Sozin used that comet to begin the war. He and his firebending army harnessed its incredible power and dealt a deadly first strike against the other nations.”

Aang: “So the comet made them stronger?”

Roku: Yes. Stronger than you could even imagine.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Avatar Roku"

Ozai: “Yes... Yes, you're right, Azula. Sozin's Comet is almost upon us and on that day it will endow us with the strength and power of a hundred Suns. No bender will stand a chance against us.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Phoenix King"
Nick.com Encyclopedia
Nick.com Encyclopedia
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow Omnibus
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow Omnibus

During Sozin's Comet, all the acrobatics Ozai performs and the control over his own body and flames he exhibits are likewise reflections of his innate skill, if for no other reason than he’s simply too good at doing what he does for it all to be the improvisation of a novice without any prior experience. He’s flying around with impeccable control, almost constantly in motion, outputting just the right amount of firepower to stay suspended in the air at the right altitude even as he’s twisting his body in complex maneuvers, dodging projectiles and stone pillars, and relentlessly pursuing Aang, one of the most evasive and agile combatants in the franchise, while harassing him with fire blasts that almost never miss their target. There is indeed precedent for less powerful firebenders being able to fly without the Comet: Rangi uses fire jets to leap between rooftops, Azula to fly over to gondolas, and Iroh II to keep up with biplanes mid-flight and land on top of them. I thus don’t think it an unfounded supposition to consider flight a part of Ozai’s baseline arsenal - in the novelization, which goes inside his head, he merely remarks that he’d show the Avatar “some Firebending moves he’s never seen," indicating he already knows what he’s capable of with the Comet before the fight even properly begins, and there is a very clear difference in the speed and power level of his jets between the first and second phases of the fight, before and after Aang enters the Avatar State, suggesting that in the first part of the fight Ozai is operating is much closer to his base level. At the very least, he has to have the preexisting skill to accommodate his enhanced firebending to enable everything he does during the Comet regardless. It’s somewhat analogous to Zaheer, who became one of the best benders on the planet in just a few weeks solely thanks to his prior familiarity with Air Nomad culture and martial arts; or Unalaq, whose showings as the Dark Avatar are still mostly usable in his normal state because he only gained a boost in power, not skill. The same principle applies to Ozai - he is extremely powerful and extremely skilled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXShLPXfWZA

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno" and "Avatar Aang"

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
The Legend of Korra - Art of the Animated Series, Book Three: Change
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Boiling Rock, Part Two"
The Legend of Korra - "Skeletons in the Closet"

There was another blaze of light that resembled a rocket climbing into the night. Rangi had joined the daofei on their level. She ran as nimbly as they did on the roof tiles, and when there was a leap too great to make naturally, she stepped on jets of fire that blasted out of her feet, bounding in propulsive arcs across the sky.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi

Another one of Ozai's feats under Sozin's Comet that should carry over to his base iteration is his ability to sense chi energy, given that the art is one of delicacy and not directly contingent on power level. Fire itself is just a physical manifestation of one’s inner chi; it is the only element summoned from the user’s internal energy rather than being sourced from the environment. It’s only logical, then, that certain firebenders would have developed the skill to sense this energy in living beings. For example, the Bhanti tribe uses firebending in spiritual rites, such as to detect dark infections in Kuruk and Korra’s souls; Ran and Shaw are also able to sense another's intentions and even their ancestry; and Ozai, too, is able to sense both Aang’s strength and his emotional state in the middle of their hectic struggle, demonstrating keen awareness of other people’s chi, and denoting that his grasp of the element of fire is far more complete than many give him credit for - despite being the head of a militant nation that has largely distorted firebending into a tool of destruction, he is capable of feats we have only seen from a specialized tribe of spiritual sages, and masters of the “true way” of firebending despite not being an adherent himself.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle

The man was a Fire National from a clan or tribe he didn’t recognize. His name was Nyahitha, he said, and after receiving a premonition, the elders of the Bhanti had sent him here to give aid to the Avatar. It was clear he had trouble believing this bedraggled mess was Great Yangchen’s successor.

Nyahitha hauled Kuruk to a campsite in the jungle and performed some kind of diagnostic ritual, guiding heat along his energy pathways similar to the way a Northern healer would use the water within a patient’s body. He confirmed what Kuruk had already guessed, that coming into contact with these dark creatures and destroying them was causing damage to his own spirit. Nyahitha repaired what he could but admitted a permanent toll would be taken each time another of these battles was fought. Already, Kuruk was going to be out of the running for “Longest Era” in the Avatar history books.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Shadow of Kyoshi

Bhanti tribe shaman: “A dark energy has infected her. We must purge it before it destroys her Avatar Spirit. Let the waters cleanse the darkness that plagues your spirit.”

The Legend of Korra - "Beginnings, Part One"

Sun Warrior Chief: “If you wish to learn the ways of the Sun, you must learn them from the masters Ran and Shaw.”

Aang: “Ran and Shaw? There are two of them?”

Sun Warrior Chief: “When you present yourselves to them, they will examine you. They'll read your hearts, your souls, and your ancestry. If they deem you worthy, they'll teach you. If they don't, you'll be destroyed on the spot.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Firebending Masters"

A far more impressive showcase of chi sensing for Ozai, though, is his feat during the Day of Black Sun. Despite firebending being diminished due to a solar eclipse covering the Sun, Ozai conveniently knows exactly how long to stall for in his conversation with Zuko, and ends his monologue with a threat just a second before the Moon begins to recede, shooting lightning that very instant. Conversely, Azula looks in the direction of where the explosion from her father’s lightning is heard, and exclaims, "Oh, sounds like firebending's back on," insinuating she merely heard the lightning explosion and deduced her abilities had returned, unlike her father who could intuitively sense not only when his firebending had returned, but could outright track the progress of the eclipse in a "powerless" state. This shows Ozai is much more attuned to the element of fire than his daughter is - he can intimately feel its power in his soul whereas Azula needs to pick up on external cues to detect it. Some have argued Iroh sensing an oncoming lightning strike in "The Storm" rivals this, but I would argue Ozai's feat is greater given his compromised abilities. His connection to fire, by feats, is unmatched in the whole franchise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3zb545mcWs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EatRIK7_FY

Azula: “Oh, sounds like firebending’s back on.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Eclipse"

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

As seen when he is shirtless, Ozai is clearly in excellent shape, rocking a lean physique and defined abs. As per the creators of the show, he is not merely an armchair ruler "eating Bon Bon’s in the palace, he's working out," which is briefly depicted in The Search on-screen.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno" and "Avatar Aang"
"An Avatar Spring Break With Mike And Bryan"
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search, Part One
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search, Part One

Ozai’s developed martial skill should be quite high, although it is difficult to divorce his pure hand-to-hand expertise from his firebending talent as the two are intertwined; however, as I’ve articulated above, based on what he shows during Sozin’s Comet with regards to his acrobatics and control over his own body, as well as his fearsome reputation and past victories in Agni Kais, it’s not difficult to believe he would be among the highest in the franchise. His father, Azulon, "demanded perfection" just like Ozai demanded of Azula, and Iroh, who wanted nothing more than to please his father in his youth, stated his brother's competitive nature went beyond his own.

Nick.com Encyclopedia
Nick.com Encyclopedia
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Legacy of the Fire Nation

The closest we come to seeing Ozai fight without firebending is during the Day of Black Sun when he takes steps toward Zuko, threatening to kill him with his bare hands, only backing down once Zuko draws his swords. Even then, it's possible Ozai could have defeated his son while unarmed, or very likely at least held his own, as he attempts to goad Zuko into killing him as he's without his bending, which is suspiciously out of character; Ozai visibly cowers and averts his gaze when the Avatar State is about to strike him down, so he's very much afraid to die. The fact that he shows no concern over his life while without weapons when facing Zuko, a swordsman trained by Piandao himself, implies he doesn't believe himself to be at that great a risk, at least being capable of fending off his son until the eclipse is over.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3zb545mcWs

Ozai: “You will obey me, or this defiant breath will be your last!”

[...]

Zuko: "But I've come to an even more important decision. I'm going to join the Avatar, and I'm going to help him defeat you."

Ozai: "Really? Since you're a full-blown traitor now and you want me gone, why wait? I'm powerless, you've got your swords... why don't you just do it now?

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Eclipse"

In terms of concrete physical feats, we have to turn to Sozin’s Comet. Remember, the Comet only enhances firebending potency; everything else Ozai showcases is directly applicable to his base iteration. In terms of endurance, he emits a continuous stream of fire that scorches Wulong Forest for 40 seconds and fights Aang almost immediately afterwards for over seven minutes uninterrupted, almost constantly in the air with fire jets. He’s expending his stamina non-stop for longer than any other character in any other fight, yet he doesn’t show any signs of fatigue until after the battle is over - and even that is arguably just the result of his clash of spirits with Aang, which the latter notes to be extremely draining and leaves him barely able to stand. All in all, Ozai is an indefatigable fuel tank who can fight for just about as long as any battle is realistically going to last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXShLPXfWZA

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle

Ozai’s durability is quite possibly the highest in the franchise. In his battle with Aang, an air blast from the Avatar State sends him flying against a pillar at high velocity while bumping against the ground repeatedly, yet he recovers almost immediately - a normal human would have every bone in their body pulverized from something like that. Next, Ozai is hit full-on by a water blast from the Avatar State and falls down dozens of meters, yet he again gets up on his feet and continues fighting in a matter of seconds. Lastly, an air blast powerful enough to literally erode stone smacks him against a rock column with full force, yet he seems unscathed - a regular person would have been liquefied instantly. This last feat in particular is so insane I cannot think of anything remotely comparable from another character in Avatar. At the very least, it proves Ozai is nearly impossible to kill or beat into submission with blunt force.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Avatar Aang"

LOWBALLING

Quite a few people have denigrated Ozai as unskilled for not responding to Zuko’s lightning redirection in time and getting flung back. However, a far more straightforward explanation is that he simply didn’t expect Zuko to perform a technique that didn’t exist until Iroh invented it in his travels away from the Fire Nation - Ozai could not have known it was even possible, especially by his son whom he had a very low opinion of. When his lightning is redirected again, this time by Aang, the primary reason he has that dumbfounded expression is because didn't expect Aang to be capable of withstanding specifically his Comet-enhanced lightning. His mind had already registered and processed what Aang was attempting to do before the Avatar had even pointed his finger at him (which is split-second timing), but he doesn't move because he didn't fathom the possibility Aang could be successful - it’s not that he’s literally too inept to move or dodge the lightning; he’s just so surprised he’s momentarily immobilized. The exact same thing happens to Zuko when Azula redirects his lightning - he’s been successful at redirection every other time, but fails only when he doesn’t expect the other party to send it back at him. Iroh, too, has fallen victim to a surprise attack from Azula, but it would be asinine to label him or Zuko unskilled for that, just like in Ozai’s case. If he were to be faced with lightning redirection again, he would not have the arrogance he did in Aang's case as his powers wouldn't be heightened by Sozin's Comet, and he has the mental processing speed to realize what his opponent is doing and get out of the way before the bolt hits him back, especially as the vast majority of firebenders aren't powerful enough to contain his energy without substantial difficulty (cf. Zuko sliding back several meters). He is far from helpless against the technique.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow, Part Three
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Chase"

Next, several people have used Iroh destroying the wall of Ba Sing Se as evidence of his alleged meliority to Ozai, citing it as a superior feat to burning Wulong Forest. This comparison is faulty for a few reasons. Firstly, “power in firebending comes from the breath,” and Iroh deeply breathes in and out a total of six times before gathering the fire around him into an orb that he launches at the wall. This repeated inhalation and exhalation accumulates more power than one is capable of producing otherwise, as Rangi’s burst of white fire demonstrates. Conversely, Ozai only deeply inhales once and then immediately generates a tiny, condensed flame that expands into a massive pyramid of fire. Secondly, Ozai is able to sustain his attack for 40 seconds with just regular breathing seemingly effortlessly, and presumably planned to for much longer had Aang not interrupted him, whereas Iroh’s attack is released once and that’s it, in spite of its longer build-up. While I acknowledge destroying a thick stone wall takes more energy than burning trees, that at best makes this comparison ambiguous and inconclusive; at worst, it clearly favors Ozai. In any case, I merely addressed it to show it can’t be used to place him below Iroh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7DhuekqsO8

Iroh: “No! Power in firebending comes from the breath. Not the muscles. The breath becomes energy in the body. The energy extends past your limbs and becomes fire. Get it right this time.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Boy in the Iceberg"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJiA3X0fZfk&t=231s

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno"

“Sure,” Rangi said. She stepped forward and inhaled so deeply it could be heard over the courtyard. She exhaled and then breathed in again slowly, not caring how big of an opening she was leaving on herself. She was almost constraining her power instead of releasing it.

Upon her third pulsing, charging breath, she lunged, releasing a flame so intense it nearly turned from yellow to white. It was pure avenging wrath given solidity.

Nothing would withstand such a blast. Yun slid to the side, riding a swell of earth under his feet. Rangi followed his trail, snapping the columns of the training ground with the continued force of her firebending. She was trying to scorch out of existence the man who’d nearly killed her mother.

She ran the fire after Yun as he escaped along one side of the training ground. Her rage carved holes into the walls of the building, consuming its value as fuel in moments, leaving charred, blackened ruins behind.

The flame didn’t run out until it reached the corner of the yard. Yun hopped off the stone he’d been riding and backed away a few steps from where the smoking trail of fury ended, his eyes wide with surprise. There was a momentary break in the fight. The ferocity of the attack had shocked everyone but Rangi herself.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Shadow of Kyoshi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXShLPXfWZA&t=22s

Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno"

Lastly, Ozai taking a long time to burn through Aang’s earth shell is not a black mark against him either. To preface, earthbenders have the capability to manipulate earth’s molecular composition to harden or soften it, as demonstrated by Haru and Tyro when they fuse multiple small pieces of coal into a larger boulder, Toph when she binds individual grains of sand together to create platform of solid rock, and King Bumi when he makes his stone projectiles harder than metal. The entire principle behind lavabending is exciting the atoms in the earth enough to liquefy it, and the reverse is also possible as shown by Bolin. Ergo, the reason behind Ozai’s inability to immediately melt Aang’s shell is likely Aang keeping it intact with earthbending. Earlier in the fight, Ozai superheats rock in mere seconds, showing he’s clearly not incapable of it in a vacuum. His stepdaughter, Kiyi, even melts through a metal door on her first time firebending as a child, and nobody would seriously suggest she’s more powerful than Ozai under Sozin’s Comet (anyone who does is either trolling or acting in bad faith and therefore not worth replying to). All in all, it’s actually a good feat for Aang, rather than a poor one for Ozai.

Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Imprisoned"
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Library"
The Legend of Korra -
The Legend of Korra - "Enter the Void"
Avatar: The Last Airbender -
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Old Masters"
Avatar: The Last Airbender - "Into the Inferno"
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow, Part Three
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow, Part Three

CONCLUSION

Ozai often gets downplayed because people think he lacks concrete showings outside Sozin's Comet, but there are dozens of data points which can be used to paint a picture of his unamped capabilities. Firstly, no firebender in existence can match his sheer power, so a victory over him would have to come by way of skill. Problem is that Ozai is so skilled himself that he can already perfectly execute all that he does during Sozin's Comet in terms of technique, and to perform flight to that degree is merely a matter of enhancing the potency of his firebending. His unparalleled control over chi energy - the source of firebending within a person -, as evinced by his dual lightning generation, also denotes unparalleled control over fire itself. Because of his skill, it's going to be exceedingly difficult to get a hit on him and even if it does happen, if attacks that can literally erode stone aren't going to put him down, then what is? His stamina also guarantees that any bender facing him would either have to be able to keep up with his onslaught for at least ten minutes before he begins to exhaust himself, or be skilled enough to land multiple consecutive building-busting attacks on him to wear him down, which he would never let happen to him due to his own mobility.

Overall, Ozai is one of the most formidable benders ever, arguably the strongest bender in the franchise besides bloodbenders, Avatars, and certain high-end spirits. Having addressed his only weakness in lightning redirection, he truly has every base covered. I can only hope I’ve done an adequate job at conveying that.

Bibliography:

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Shadow of Kyoshi (F. C. Yee, Michael Dante DiMartino; 2020)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - Legacy of the Fire Nation (Joshua Pruett; 2020)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rise of Kyoshi (F. C. Yee, Michael Dante DiMartino; 2019)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow, Part Three (Gene Luen Yang; 2016)
  • The Legend of Korra - Art of the Animated Series, Book Three: Change (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos; 2015)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search, Part One (Gene Luen Yang; 2013)
  • The Legend of Korra (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko; 2012 - 2014)
  • Avatar Extras (Joshua Hamilton, Katie Mattila; 2010)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - Sozin’s Comet: The Final Battle (David Bergantino, Patrick Spaziante; 2008)
  • “An Avatar Spring Break With Mike and Bryan” (Robert Moscoe; 2007)
  • Nick.com Encyclopedia (2005 - 2008) [preserved on Tumblr as “The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang”]
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko; 2005 - 2008)
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
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DARK SOULS: How Powerful Is Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight?

No Caption Provided

This blog explores the true strength of the Great Lord Gwyn, the final boss of the original Dark Souls, back when he was still the Lord of Sunlight spoken of in the opening cinematic, eons before the Chosen Undead fights him in the game as a diminished Lord of Cinder. This divide between his peak self from the lore and his enfeebled state in the game is explained in the first section of the blog, whereas the second section demonstrates his paramountcy among the entire pantheon of Dark Souls characters, and lists the wank of notable characters whom he scales off of. The table of contents is as follows:

  1. LORD OF SUNLIGHT VS. LORD OF CINDER:
    1. The Other Lord Souls
    2. Fuel for the First Flame
      1. Life
      2. Light
      3. Time
      4. Space
      5. Conclusion
    3. Enduring the Kindling
    4. Apportioning His Power
  2. UNMITIGATED SUPREMACY:
    1. Gwyn’s Children
      1. The Firstborn Son
      2. Dark Sun Gwyndolin
      3. Filianore
    2. The Other Lords
    3. Dark Souls II
    4. Dark Souls III
      1. The Chosen Undead vs. The Ashen One
      2. Gwyn vs. The Soul of Cinder
      3. Gwyn vs. Gael

Due to the cryptic and interpretive nature of the storytelling in Dark Souls, not all of my conclusions are incontrovertible fact. Thus, I am accepting of skepticism and alternate takes on the lore, but I’d require more sound reasoning than what I have presented in the blog itself for me to actually change its contents. Even though many of the conclusions drawn are simply my own subjective inferences, I will, nonetheless, attempt to reinforce them with evidence. Regardless, there is going to be wiggle room, and my final assessment of Gwyn will only be a rough approximation rather than an exact measurement.

Concerning the source material, I am aware of the mistranslations in the English versions of the games, but I will not be dismissing them on that basis. The English translations are featured in officially licensed and published products, and are therefore acceptable as valid interpretations of the lore in my eyes, even if they diverge from the original Japanese text. If the reader nonetheless wishes to disregard the ostensibly mistranslated material as non-canonical, that is their prerogative. I simply want to make clear I am not curtailed to this viewpoint.

Warning: This blog contains major spoilers for all three games, so if you haven't played them and intend to, click away. If, however, you have played the games or simply don't mind spoilers, enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVW5Z66-80k

I. LORD OF SUNLIGHT VS. LORD OF CINDER

Because there are no concrete feats for him (his involvement in the war with the ancient Archdragons is depicted very minimally), ascertaining how powerful Gwyn was in his prime comes down to powerscaling him from his Lord of Cinder incarnation in the game.

A) THE OTHER LORD SOULS

Even in his depleted state, the remaining power of Gwyn’s soul is said by Kingseeker Frampt to be "commensurate" (Oxford dictionary: "corresponding in size or degree; in proportion") to the souls of Gravelord Nito, the Witch of Izalith, Seath the Scaleless, and the Four Kings of New Londo, who are, lore-wise, the most powerful beings in the game with the possible exception of Manus, Father of the Abyss. The souls possessed by Seath and the Four Kings are actually portions of Gwyn's own soul he willingly bequeathed unto them for their service ages ago when his strength was still closer to its apex. Thus, if Gwyn’s remaining power is roughly equivalent to the power in the Lord Soul shards, then he must have at one time been at least thrice as powerful as he is in the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQabOtbIIvg&t=4m47s

“Very well. As Kingseeker, I shall now instruct you, the Lord’s successor, in your next task. To achieve your fate, fill the vessel with powerful souls, commensurate to the great soul of Gwyn. Scarce few possess such brilliant souls. Gravelord Nito, the Witch of Izalith, the Four Kings of New Londo, who inherited the shards of Gwyn’s soul… and Lord Gwyn’s former confidant, Seath the Scaleless. All of their souls are required to satiate the Lordvessel.”

Kingseeker Frampt

Soul of one of the Four Kings, who fell to Dark. A fragment of a Lord Soul discovered at the dawn of the Age of Fire.

Lord Gwyn recognized the foresight of these four great leaders of New Londo, and granted them their ranks and the fragments of a great soul. Although this is not a full Lord Soul, it can still satiate the Lordvessel.

Bequeathed Lord Soul Shard (Four Kings) item description

Soul of the albino Seath the Scaleless. A fragment of a Lord Soul discovered at the dawn of the Age of Fire.

Seath allied with Lord Gwyn and turned upon the dragons, and for this he was awarded Dukedom, embraced by the royalty, and given a fragment of a great soul. Although just a piece, it will still satiate the Lordvessel.

Bequeathed Lord Soul Shard (Seath the Scaleless) item description

B) FUEL FOR THE FIRST FLAME

However, by the time the Chosen Undead fights him, Gwyn has been burning as fuel for the First Flame for “a thousand years” according to Frampt. The power in his soul would have continuously dwindled in order to feed the fire for all that time. It is impossible to precisely quantify how much power Gwyn used up altogether, but his self-immolation kept the Age of Fire going for an additional millennium. To understand just how impressive this is, it must first be understood that the First Flame seems to uphold the metaphysical underpinnings of the world. The narration in the opening cinematic states the very idea of Disparity - heat and cold - life and death - Light and Dark - only came about with the advent of fire and did not exist in the Age of Ancients. Before there was just existence, but after genesis there were states of existence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQabOtbIIvg&t=2m16s

“Heavens! You have done it! You have retrieved the Lordvessel! After a thousand years! It is you, it really is you!”

Kingseeker Frampt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0l73vAlEBQ

“In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog. A land of grey crags, archtrees, and everlasting dragons. But then there was Fire. And with Fire, came Disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course… Light and Dark.”

The Narrator

I. LIFE

The Archdragons predating fire were not living beings in the conventional sense - they were more akin to minerals in the earth and, despite their sentience, inhabited “another plane of existence, which transcends life.” It was only with the advent of fire that the concept of life was introduced to the world. Congruent with this fact, Shanalotte, the Emerald Herald, states that whenever the fire is linked, “souls will flourish anew, and all of this will play out again.” Since “souls are the source of all life,” she effectively means that life itself will become more abundant and resplendent the brighter the First Flame burns, which is reflected in the cyclical rise of a new kingdom at the dawn of the linking and its inevitable collapse once the fire begins to fade that the second clause of her line refers to. Therefore, in giving his own soul to the First Flame, Gwyn indirectly divided it into innumerable fragments that were allotted to the creatures inhabiting the world - the potency of his soul was such that it sparked the reinvigoration of whole civilizations and revitalized the biosphere.

Stone imbued with the power of the dragons. Rite of apostles of the ancient dragons. Gain torso of dragon. Roar like a dragon.

The dragon apostles seek transcendence of life itself, attainable by transformation into an ancient dragon. This rite is only one step, but it cannot be reversed until death.

Dragon Torso Stone item description (Dark Souls)

Online play item. Find a player who has acquired a Dragon Scale and invade that player's world to pillage it.

An art of the transcendent apostles who pray to the ancient dragons. To be alive is to be vulnerable, and the fiery Gods are no exception. The apostles seek another plane of existence, which transcends life.

Dragon Eye item description

Isomura: “Onward to enemy characters… Why is the Stone Dragon 'OK' with its tail being cut off? Why doesn't he become hostile? The suspense was thrilling me! Compare it to Griggs, who doesn't get pissed with the Dark Hand R2, it must really have a heart of gold…!”

Miyazaki: “The Stone Dragon is not alive. The Ancient Dragons are half-living, half-element, so there's no pain for them. In the opening cinematic, it's shown that they were there before there was life. So yeah, they don't feel pain, kinda like Akuma Shogun.”

Isomura: “I thought the tail regrows.”

Murohashi: “It does.”

Isomura: “So it doesn't hurt?”

Miyazaki: “No, it's not like that. It's not painful. It's just beyond human understanding.”

Game no Shokutaku interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ4QEsQgQ34&t=3m18s

“So, how long was I sat petrified… Long enough for the old kingdom to have crumbled, I see. Long enough for Olaphis to rise, fall, and fade away, evidently. Why didn't anyone wake me sooner?! Heh heh…“Drangleic… I've never heard the name. Is that what they call this place now? Hah hah…Very good, very good indeed.“The cursed ones were imprisoned within this land. Of course, you came of your own free will. Heh heh…“The people feared the cursed ones like a plague. Some people would rather keep dreadful things out of sight, out of mind. In the end they swept them up and corralled them here. So very typical of meek minds, don't you think?“Once people became aware of their own frailty… They seized anybody they found undesirable, cursed or no, and impounded them here. Whoever posed even the slightest threat, was removed. All so that they could sleep better at night. They even turned the great Straid into a stone! Hah hah!“Many kingdoms rose and fell on this tract of earth; mine was by no means the first. Anything that has a beginning also has an end. No flame, however brilliant, does not one day splutter and fade. But then, from the ashes, the flame reignites, and a new kingdom is born, sporting a new face. It is all a curse! Heh heh heh! And it is your cursed flesh that will inherit the flame. Heh heh…”

Straid of Olaphis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IREEG1iN2r4&t=2m44s

“Now listen here. When do you think this all happened? Long ago, when this very land was called something else… We say Drangleic now, but… Countless kingdoms have risen and fallen on this very spot… And this won't be the last… oh no…”

Laddersmith Gilligan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK8-lgaEPmA&t=3m25s

“You know how they call this place Drangleic, right? Well, in the old lore, in stories and the like, they said it had another name… What was it? Well… I don't know, it's just something I heard. Since long, long ago, many kingdoms have risen and fallen on this very spot. Each like a great flame, that turns to soot. Maybe that's why people don't remember much about the past…”

Stone Trader Chloanne

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4wNx3T3At4

“You, who link the fire, you, who bear the curse… Once the fire is linked, souls will flourish anew, and all of this will play out again. It is your choice… To embrace, or renounce this… Great Sovereign, take your throne. What lies ahead, only you can see.”

Shanalotte, the Emerald Herald

Soul of a lost Undead who has long ago gone Hollow.

Use to acquire souls.

Souls are the source of all life, and whether Undead, or even Hollow, one continues to seek them.

Soul of a Lost Undead item description

II. LIGHT

The First Flame also brought Light and Dark to the world. This is very literal: as seen in one of the endings of Dark Souls III where the First Flame is extinguished forever, light will totally disappear, leaving behind abject blackness akin to the Abyss, where only a smattering of embers remain. Between the events of the first and third game, the fire almost faded completely, and the darkness came to cover the world, albeit not totally - one could still see a few meters in front of them. This was the era in which Gundyr, the Belated Champion, was set to link the fire but never found his Fire Keeper - it is confirmed to be the past in the item descriptions for Gundyr’s soul and gear, not merely an alternate reality, so it’s possible for darkness to blanket the land even with the First Flame still dimly burning. It is likely the world reached this dismal state in Gwyn’s time, as Darkstalker Kaathe speaks of the Age of Dark as having already come in past tense. Unlike some of the other facets of Gwyn’s strength, this aspect of his feat can be roughly quantified by calculating the luminosity required to illuminate the whole world for a thousand years as Gwyn did by repelling the Dark. However, I’ll leave that to more scientifically literate people than myself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWRgKolp7LQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3552jy3UF6Q&t=4m46s

“The eyes show a world destitute of fire, a barren plane of endless darkness. A place born of betrayal. So I will'd myself Lord, to link the fire, to paint a new vision. What is thine intent?"

Ludleth of Courland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SrOXqJflX0

Soul of champion Gundyr. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

Once, a champion came late to the festivities, and was greeted by a shrine without fire, and a bell that would not toll.

Soul of Champion Gundyr item description

Ancient chest piece of a set of cast iron armor, belonging to Champion Gundyr. Modeled after a former king.

Gundyr, or the Belated Champion, was bested by an unknown warrior. He then became sheath to a coiled sword in the hopes that someday, the first flame would be linked once more.

Gundyr's Armor item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuxmVEjUBNg&t=2m3s (2:03)

“Hmm… You are astonishing. The truth I shall share, without sentiment. After the advent of Fire, the ancient Lords found the three souls. But your progenitor found a fourth, unique soul. The Dark Soul. Your ancestor claimed the Dark Soul, and waited for Fire to subside. Soon, the flames did fade, and only Dark remained. Thus began the age of men, the age of Dark. However… Lord Gwyn trembled at the Dark. Clinging to his Age of Fire, and in dire fear of humans, and the Dark Lord who would one day be born amongst them, Lord Gwyn resisted the course of nature. By sacrificing himself to link the Fire, and commanding his children to shepherd the humans, Gwyn has blurred your past, to prevent the birth of the Dark Lord.”

Darkstalker Kaathe

III. TIME

Per the item description of the Repair miracle in Dark Souls III, light is synonymous with time in the series. It therefore follows that with the fading of the light of the First Flame, time itself would also contort. Solaire of Astora states “the flow of time is convoluted; with heroes centuries old phasing in and out. The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure,” in essence meaning the flow of time across the entire multiverse is disturbed and non-linear, which is used as the lore justification for the gameplay mechanics of multiplayer summoning and invading, bloodstains, and messages. Further evidence for the rupturing of time being connected to the First Flame are the bonfires: other players that are elsewhere seen running around as transparent, monochromatic phantoms begin to resemble their real forms around the light of bonfires; and the Chosen Undead can warp between present day and ancient Oolacile uninhibited; as can the Bearer of the Curse between Eleum Loyce, which is frozen in time, and the rest of the world; as can the Ashen One between the past, present and future Firelink Shrine, and the wasteland at the end of all civilization where they fight Slave Knight Gael. Bonfires thus appear to be fulcrums around which the flow of time is concentrated, almost as if the flame is pulling in adjacent timelines closer together as its light fades. It’s therefore probable that a newly-lit, blazing fire would have the opposite effect of pushing these timelines apart so that the flow of time can reassume normalcy. If so, then the power in Gwyn’s soul accomplished just that when it was used as kindling for the First Flame.

Lost sorcery from Oolacile, land of ancient golden sorceries.

Repairs equipped weapons and armor. Includes weapons with exhausted durability.

While the effects of this spell are rather subtle, its foundations are a well-guarded secret. Light is time, and the reversal of its effects is a forbidden art.

Repair item description (Dark Souls III)

--Repair item description (Dark Souls III)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXyl07yfRaQ&t=62s

"We are amidst strange beings, in a strange land. The flow of time itself is convoluted; with heroes centuries old phasing in and out. The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure. There's no telling how much longer your world and mine will remain in contact. But, use this, to summon one another as spirits, cross the gaps between the worlds, and engage in jolly co-operation!"

Solaire of Astora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlzV6oS3PQg&t=395s

“Did you notice any letters on the ground on the way here? These are messages that have jumped the fissures between worlds. In Drangleic, the flow of time is convoluted. Things shift and waver, twist and turn. Poignant wishes, dashed dreams… The messages convey our very inner thoughts. If your will to soldier on falters, try leaving a message. Somebody out there is sure to listen.”

Crestfallen Saulden

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlzV6oS3PQg&t=435s

“You may notice symbols that appear upon the ground. These are summon signatures… They call upon spirits from other worlds through the schisms in time. If you fear Hollows, find summon signatures to call upon spirits to help you.”

Crestfallen Saulden

IV. SPACE

The waning First Flame doesn’t just contort the flow of time; it also twists the dimension of space and shrinks the world seemingly into a singularity (if the advent of fire can be likened to the Big Bang, its extinguishment can be likened to a collapsing star or a black hole). The nonsensical world design of Dark Souls II is emblematic of this: the elevator at top of Earthen Peak leads to the Iron Keep, a castle that has sunken into lava yet is simultaneously floating in the sky; Drangleic Castle is visible from multiple areas but somehow teleports around when one gets near it, and also sits in an isolated pocket of rain that does not manifest anywhere else even if it visually should; several areas like Aldia’s Keep and the Shaded Woods literally exists inside of one another in a way that defies all logic and spatial coherence; and so on. Dark Souls III makes this a diegetic part of the story:Emma, the High Priestess of Lothric, describes the homelands of the Lords of Cinder as “churning” (Oxford dictionary: “move or cause to move about vigorously”) and converging at the base of Lothric Castle; Cornyx of the Great Swamp states Izalith “drifts” ever closer; and the High Wall of Lothric one day simply “appeared,” obstructing the path from the Castle to the Undead Settlement. The most extreme version of this is seen in The Ringed City DLC, set in the far future, where the buildings and rubble from all lands and eras have become crammed together in an impossibly warped quagmire where even gravity seems to only apply selectively.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAC3Yq-Iwm0

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXXhFK4ktgk&t=6m45s

“Ahh, the wait has been long, Unkindled One. I am Emma, High Priestess of Lothric Castle. Allow me to speak frankly. You will not find the Lords of Cinder here. They have left, gone. To their churning homes, converging at the base of this castle. Head to the bottom of the High Wall. Forge on through the great gate, and raise this banner to proceed.”

Emma, High Priestess of Lothric Castle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pHE1Oy2a88&t=3m49s

"If you seek pyromancy tomes, take this sage advice. The lands of the Lords converge upon Lothric. The home of pyromancies drifts comparatively close, as well. At least, that is what pyromancers of the Great Swamp believe. The place is called Izalith. Oh how I wish to behold a primal pyromancy. Well, these are old tales. No one knows where the truth begins, or ends."

Cornyx of the Great Swamp

Small banner held by Lothric messengers.

Hold up outside the main castle gate to be greeted by an escort.

When the High Wall appeared, the path to the Undead Settlement was blocked, and messengers came bearing this banner. They were sent out with a duty, but had no way of returning.

Small Lothric Banner item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_sNDr5Kigw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwsgKdWwC9w&t=1m9s

“At the close of the Age of Fire, all lands meet at the end of the earth. Great kingdoms and anaemic townships will be one and the same. The great tide of human enterprise, all for naught. That's why I'm so taken by this grand sight. This must be what it's like to be a god.”

Stone-humped Hag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nscfOO-4hI&t=1m55s

“This really is a dreg-heap at the world’s end. Mangled remnants from every age, and every land… It actually sort of lends credence to the old rumors. That the Ringed City rests below it all.”

Amnesiac Lapp

V. CONCLUSION

In summary, all the laws of nature seem to be upended when the fire begins to dim. Time and space begin to fold in on themselves, and life and death cease to exist. Gwyn’s soul had enough potency to prevent this by metaphysically sustaining the logic of the world for an entire millennium. One could think of it as a single, grand act of global reality-warping stretched across a thousand years. Not to say Gwyn himself is a reality-warper, merely that his soul contained enough power to enable such a feat.

C) ENDURING THE KINDLING

There is also Gwyn’s durability feat right as he kindled the Flame. If the Chosen Undead chooses to link the fire themselves after defeating Gwyn, an explosion that covers the entire screen occurs after they are set alight. It is likely an explosion happened when Gwyn linked the Flame as well - it would explain why the Kiln of the First Flame is covered in ashes and why the structures are destroyed and blackened, as if they were exposed to fire. Furthermore, the item descriptions of the Black Knight armor set found in the Kiln reveal that "The knights followed Lord Gwyn when he departed to link the Fire but they were burned to ashes in the newly kindled flame, wandering the world as disembodied spirits ever after." Essentially, Gwyn stood at ground zero of a miniature nuke that incinerated all of his Black Knights and obliterated all nearby structures, covering the Kiln in ash as far as the eye can see. As the entity closest to the detonation, he would have endured by far the most energy, but given how his soul retained enough power to sustain the Age of Fire for a millennium, it's safe to say tanking the conflagration was a casual feat for him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPXMR1DioZU

No Caption Provided

Armor of the Black Knights who haunt Lordran.

The knights followed Lord Gwyn when he departed to link the Fire, but they were burned to ashes in the newly kindled flame, wandering the world as disembodied spirits ever after.

Black Knight Armor item description

D) APPORTIONING HIS POWER

Finally, there is a small but significant piece of trivia in the item description of Gwyn’s soul in the first game: “Lord Gwyn bequeathed most of his power to the Gods, and burned as cinder for the First Flame, but even so, Lord Gwyn’s soul is a powerful thing indeed.” The item description of his greatsword clarifies that the act of sharing his power amongst his divine children occurred before he linked the fire, confirming the two as distinct events. By definition, “most of his power” indicates more than half, meaning he gave more of his power away to his children than was contained in the shards of his soul he bestowed to Seath and the Four Kings, he spent on tanking the initial conflagration from linking the Flame, and burning as its fuel for a millennium, combined. His full strength would therefore have been more than double of all those feats together in addition to the power he still has left in the game.

Soul of Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight and Cinder, who linked the First Flame.

Lord Gwyn bequeathed most of his power to the Gods, and burned as cinder for the First Flame, but even so, Lord Gwyn’s soul is a powerful thing indeed.

Soul of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder item description

Greatsword born from the soul of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. As bearer of the ultimate soul, Gwyn wielded the bolts of the sun, but before linking the fire, divided that power amongst his children, and set off with only this greatsword as his companion.

Great Lord Greatsword item description
No Caption Provided

II. UNMITIGATED SUPREMACY

Gwyn in his prime is not only the most powerful being in the lore of the first Dark Souls, but likely of the entire franchise. The subsequent entries in the series have enough connective tissue to allow for inter-game powerscaling. Thus, Gwyn’s status in the context of Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III ought to be highlighted as well.

A) GWYN’S CHILDREN

Gwyn allotted parts of his soul to his children. They are therefore eligible as scaling fodder for Gwyn himself, and their wank should be examined to that end.

I. THE FIRSTBORN SON

His first son, the God of War, is all but confirmed to be the Nameless King from Dark Souls III, who inherited the power of his father’s sunlight. Before his betrayal, Faraam (implied to be his real name in the Faraam armor set) was renowned as a legendary slayer of Archdragons. According to Hawkeye Gough, three score Silver Knights fell in the act of conquering even one of them, yet Faraam’s mettle was so great in comparison he came to be worshipped as a “deific hunter of dragons” (Oxford dictionary: “resembling a god in qualities such as power or beauty; divine”) and the God of War. Even Ornstein, another prolific dragonslayer who served under Faraam and later as the captain of Gwyn’s Four Elite Knights (meaning he ranked above Artorias the Abysswalker, Gough, and Lord’s Blade Ciaran), respected him so much that he abandoned his duty as Anor Londo’s guardian to search for his former master, remaining faithful even long after his repudiation of Gwyn. To show what this kind of reputation indicates about Faraam’s strength with more specificity, the carcass of a true Archdragon (all other draconic creatures in the games are vestigial descendants of the beings depicted in the opening cinematic of the first game) can be seen from a cliffside on Archdragon Peak, approaching a mountain in size.

Ring of the Sun's first born, who inherited the light of Gwyn, the first lord.

Greatly boosts miracles.

The Sun's first born was once a god of war, until he was stripped of his stature as punishment for his foolishness. No wonder his very name has slipped from the annals of history.

Ring of the Sun's Firstborn item description (Dark Souls III)

Soul of the Nameless King. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

The Nameless King was once a dragon-slaying god of war, before he sacrificed everything to ally himself with the ancient dragons.

Soul of the Nameless King item description

A dragon hunting weapon from the age of the gods. The earliest form of the cross spear, serving as both a sword and a spear.

Its owner was the Nameless King, a deific hunter of dragons. The swordspear is imbued with lightning, of which he was the heir.

Skill: Falling Bolt

Hold swordspear high in the air to summon fierce lightning that descends upon distant foes.

Dragonslayer Swordspear item description

Miracle wielded by Lord Gwyn's firstborn. Boost right weapon with rays of Sun.

The power of sunlight, manifested as lightning, is very effective against dragons. When the eldest son was stripped of his deific status, he left this on his father's coffin, perhaps as a final farewell.

Sunlight Blade item description (Dark Souls)

An ancient miracle of the sun.

Reinforces weapon in other hand with sunlight, a form of lightning.

The sun grants life to all things upon the earth, even if the worshipers of sunlight no longer bless the surface with their presence.

Sunlight Blade item description (Dark Souls II)

Crown of a nameless king who was ally to the ancient dragons.

This golden crown, buried amidst long strands of bristling ash, is said to closely resemble that of the First Lord.

Golden Crown item description

Helmet blessed by the war god Faraam.

This helmet is designed in the style of the Lion Knights, a once-mighty order from Forossa. Although the Lion Knights wore heavy armor, they were feared for their nimble two-handed swordplay.

Faraam Helm item description (Dark Souls II)

Helm named after a god of war.

The armor of the Forossa Lion Knights was preserved even after the destruction of their homeland, and is mentioned in numerous legends, alongside the names of those who are said to have gone beyond death.

Faraam Helm item description (Dark Souls III)
The Faraam Helm is emblazoned with a depiction of a man with long wisps protruding from his head engaged in combat with a dragon, much like the Nameless King
The Faraam Helm is emblazoned with a depiction of a man with long wisps protruding from his head engaged in combat with a dragon, much like the Nameless King

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR6ydb3LJjg&t=7m14s

“The dragons shall never be forgotten… We knights fought valiantly, but for every one of them, we lost three score of our own. Exhilaration, pride, hatred, rage… The dragons teased out our dearest emotions… Thou will understand, one day. At thy twilight, old thoughts return, in great waves of nostalgia.”

Hawkeye Gough

Helm of the dragonslayer Ornstein, who guards the cathedral in the forsaken city of Anor Londo. Ornstein is believed to be the captain of the Four Knights.

His golden lion helm is imbued with the power of lightning and should provide good protection against it.

Ornstein's Helm item description

Golden lion helm associated with Dragonslayer Ornstein, from the age of gods, and imbued with the strength of lightning.

In the dragonless age, this knight, who long guarded the ruined cathedral, left the land in search of the nameless king.

Dragonslayer Helm item description

Ring associated with Dragon Slayer Ornstein, one of the Four Knights of Gwyn, the First Lord.

Strengthens thrust weapon counter attacks.

Ornstein was the first knight of the sun's eldest born, and his cross spear is said to have pierced scales made of stone.

Leo Ring item description (Dark Souls III)

Miracle of those chosen by the Sunlight covenant.

Temporarily boosts attack and damage absorption for self and those in vicinity.

This is the tale of the Sun's firstborn, his faithful first knight, and the brave dragonslayer who served them both.

Sacred Oath item description (Dark Souls III)
No Caption Provided

II. DARK SUN GWYNDOLIN

Then there is Gwyndolin, God of the Darkmoon, and Gwyn's third child. After his father left to link the fire, Gwyndolin continued to rule Anor Londo from the shadows. In the first Dark Souls, the sun which illuminates the city is entirely an illusion forged by him, as are the effigies of his sister Gwynevere and nearly all the enemies in Anor Londo, evidenced by their sudden disappearance if the illusory Gwynevere is attacked by the Chosen Undead. Item descriptions in Dark Souls III reveal Smough was the last remaining knight in defense of the cathedral and that Ornstein had departed in search of Faraam, confirming the speculation that Ornstein in the first game is an illusion as well, suggesting the Old Dragonslayer boss in Dark Souls II is the real one. It's unclear whether Gwyndolin needed to actively maintain these illusions, or if they stayed in place permanently once he created them - the fact the phantasms remain even if Gwyndolin is killed by the Chosen Undead indicates the latter, although it's possible that even Gwyndolin himself was an illusion as Dark Souls III confirms he was devoured by Aldrich, Saint of the Deep (alternatively, the third game simply takes place in a timeline where he wasn't killed by the Chosen Undead, as the flow of time is not linear). Whatever the case, Gwyndolin's power enabled him to create not just optical, but auditory and tactile illusions as well, automatons of beings even as strong as Ornstein, capable of inflicting physical damage and killing (the item descriptions of the Follower Javelin and Crow Quills confirm illusions can assume corporeal form). Gwyndolin created such apparitions, as well as the sun, on a city-wide scale, and could instantly dispel them all with a snap of his fingers. Yet based on Frampt's commentary, his soul was not strong enough to satiate the Lordvessel, as only the "scarce few" with souls commensurate in strength to Gwyn's own would suffice. One might rightly point out Frampt was allied with Gwyndolin, but Kaathe certainly was not, and his hit list does not include Gwyndolin either. This indicates Gwyndolin's soul was paltry next to even his much weakened father's.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlpjVQtxCFM

Shield of the Silver Knights of Anor Londo. A flowing canal is carved deep into its face.

The Silver Knights stayed behind in Anor Londo to defend the illusory goddess, and their shields are blessed with her divine protection.

Silver Knight Shield item description (Dark Souls)

Twisted great Hammer associated with Smough, the last knight to remain at his post, guarding the ruined cathedral.

Restore HP while attacking, a carryover from Smough’s past as an executioner.

Skill: Perseverance

Anchor weapon in earth to temporarily boost poise. Damage reduced while activated.

Smough's Great Hammer item description (Dark Souls III)

Golden lion helm associated with Dragonslayer Ornstein, from the age of gods, and imbued with the strength of lightning.

In the dragonless age, this knight, who long guarded the ruined cathedral, left the land in search of the nameless king.

Dragonslayer Helm item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=car57gigy_A

Light spear wielded by the Farron Followers. Balanced to allow for throwing.

The Followers attack in groups, surrounding foes, shielding themselves, and thrusting their spears at their foes. On a final command, they hurls their spears at their fallen foe, to give the retired warrior an honorable send-off.

Skill: Hurl Spear

Emulate the practice of the Followers by throwing an illusory spear that assumes temporary form.

Follower Javelin item description

Thrusting sword wielded by Corvian Knights, and a special paired weapon. When twin-handed, brandish four thing-edged blades in the left hand.

In their infatuation with Sister Friede, the Corvian Knights swore to protect the painting from fire, and to this end, took the execution of their own brethren.

Skill: Quill Dart

Simultaneously throw temporary substantial illusions of the four thin-edged blades wielded in the left hand.

Crow Quills item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuxmVEjUBNg&t=5m4s

“Very well. Once the vessel is filled with souls, the gate to Gwyn shall open. Seek Gravelord Nito, the Witch of Izalith, and the traitor Seath the Scaleless. Fill this vessel with their souls. Then, the gate will open… so that you may kill Gwyn.”

Darkstalker Kaathe

III. FILIANORE

Gwyn’s lastborn child, the sleeping princess Filianore, was gifted to the pygmies of the Ringed City at the dawn of the Age of Fire. Gwyn put her in a deep slumber and promised her he would return for her one day. In truth, he never intended to see his daughter again, for the Ringed City was a prison for the possessors of the Dark Soul, disguised as a gift for their contributions in the war against the Archdragons. Filianore herself was used as a medium for a spell that kept the Ringed City locked in time - evinced by the fact that the city is seemingly immune to the force which is pulling all the lands together, and when she is awoken by the Ashen One in Dark Souls III, a blinding light transports them to the end of time when the world is an ashen wasteland and Filianore herself dies in both the present and future simultaneously (reminder: light is synonymous with time). Faith carries tangible power in the Dark Souls universe - miracles are parables of the Gods, and the strength of one’s belief in the fable allows one to manifest apposite magical abilities. It is likely Filianore’s faith in her father’s return maintained a perpetual miracle that froze the Ringed City in time, which crumbled when she beheld the face of a stranger in lieu of her father’s upon waking up, causing the spell to break. Although this level of power and temporal influence is considerable, Gwyn’s own might would logically vastly exceed his daughter's.

The small banner used by envoys of Great Lord Gwyn in the days of yore.

Face the ringed cliff and hold the banner high to summon facilitators of transport.

For the pygmies, who took the dark soul, the Great Lord gifted the Ringed City, an isolated place at world's end, and his beloved youngest daughter, promising her that he would come for her when the day came.

Small Envoy Banner item description

“Why, where did you hear that name, love? Oh, it doesn't matter. I'll tell you what I know. The Ringed City is said to be at world's end. Past this heap of rubbish, as far as one can go. But you'd better think twice. The forsaken Ringed City was walled off by the gods to contain the pygmies. And the dark soul is better left well alone.

“Ahh, yes, it's just what you'd guess. Legend says that the Ringed City lies at the end of the earth. This heap of everything, you're looking right at it. But be warned. The pygmies were exiled to the Ringed City. And no one should go near the dark soul.”

Small Envoy Banner item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87FypRGv33k&t=3m10s

“If it is the dark soul thou desirest… Then seek Filianore’s church, at the base of the cliff. There wilt thou the sleeping Princess waken. Her slumber is a deceit… a lid covering an overgrown privy; a prop to keep thee from the dark soul of thine desire.”

Random Undead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li6psJOjKOM

Elementary miracle cast by clerics. Restores HP.

To cast a miracle, the caster learns a tale of the Gods, and says a prayer to be blessed by its revelations. Heal is the shortest of such miraculous tales.

Heal item description (Dark Souls)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4GFsXvJmxc&t=1m2s

“Now, let me share my Miracles. Only, their ultimate effectiveness will be determined by your efforts, and your faith.”

Petrus of Thorolund

B) THE OTHER LORDS

Gwyn inherited “the ultimate soul” from the First Flame, meaning his Light Soul is greater than any other Lord Soul. This scales his prime iteration directly above Nito, the Witch of Izalith, and the full Dark Soul as well as any of its fragments, in whoever’s possession they may be.

Greatsword born from the soul of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. As bearer of the ultimate soul, Gwyn wielded the bolts of the sun, but before linking the fire, divided that power amongst his children, and set off with only this greatsword as his companion.

Great Lord Greatsword item description

I. GRAVELORD NITO

Gravelord Nito “administers the death of all manner of beings.” In essence, without his Death Soul, death as a concept would not exist in the world, and everything would be everlasting; he is either directly or indirectly responsible for killing almost every single being that has ever inhabited the world, from the Archdragons of yore to all manner of humanoids as well as fauna and flora - only other deities seem to be inoculated from aging, yet they are still vulnerable to being vanquished by means of arms (Nito himself is not exempt from this, as he is slain by the Chosen Undead and the Death Soul simply passes on to other owners). Although this administration of death is not a passive process; much of Nito’s power “has already been offered to death,” denoting a finite supply of energy he can draw from to fulfill his purpose. However, this fact confirms the properties of the Death Soul are in keeping with the law of conservation of energy and are subject to entropy - the energy Nito possessed in the beginning of the Age of Fire can, in theory, be scientifically quantified by calculating what it takes for decillions of organisms to die and decay. Gwyn in his prime scales above this total amount of energy.

Soul of Gravelord Nito, first of the dead. This Lord Soul was discovered at the dawn of the Age of Fire.

Gravelord Nito administers the death of all manner of beings. The power of this soul is so great that it satiates the Lordvessel, despite the fact that much of its energy has already been offered to death.

Lord Soul (Gravelord Nito) item description

Miracle known only by the servants of the first dead, Gravelord Nito. Giant Gravelord swords jut out in vicinity.

Nito sleeps deep within the Giant Catacombs, quietly overseeing all death, and waiting for his servants to usher in the Eye of Death.

Gravelord Sword Dance item description

Nito also is the originator of all things noxious in the world: poison, disease, rot, etc. - instruments through which he perpetrates his objective. He can personally conjure miasmata which instantly disintegrate Archdragon flesh and are implied to be the primary culprit for their near-extinction after Gwyn’s knights peeled apart their stone scales of immortality and the flame witches burned down their archtrees.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0l73vAlEBQ&t=133s

“With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons. Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.”

The Narrator

Sword wielded only by servants of Gravelord Nito, the first of the dead. Crafted from the bones of the fallen.

The miasma of death exudes from the sword, a veritable toxin to any living being.

Gravelord Sword item description

Curiously, Nito also possesses the ability to reanimate the deceased, in essence reversing the ostensible finality of death. During his boss fight, he reanimates hordes of skeletons ad infinitum and has seemingly afforded them small fractions of his soul which cannot be claimed by a third party until Nito himself is destroyed - a microcosm of this can be observed with the necromancers occupying the Catacombs where the skeletons under their thrall reanimate endlessly and do not grant souls until the death of the necromancer in question or unless they are struck down with a divine weapon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrClUJyHY-o

One of the three masks of the Pinwheel, the necromancer who stole the power of the Gravelord, and reigns over the Catacombs. This mask, belonging to the valiant father, slightly raises equipment load.

Mask of the Father item description

II. THE WITCH OF IZALITH

The Witch of Izalith is the Lord of Life, inheritor of the Life Soul, and the godmother of pyromancy. During the Age of Ancients, she and her seven daughters “weaved great firestorms” that burned down the archtrees, the homes of the ancient Archdragons. While not all of the archtrees were burned as dozens are found in Ash Lake and visible from the Tomb of the Giants, the opening cinematic depicts the witches’ inferno stretching out as far as the eye can see. Moreover, the fact that archtrees are only ever seen in these two locations whereas during the Age of Ancients the entire world was covered in them in itself shows the efficacy of their efforts - the witches essentially caused global deforestation of trees that are hundreds if not thousands of meters tall. Gwyn in his prime scales directly to this feat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0l73vAlEBQ&t=125s

“With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons. Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.”

The Narrator

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muh2-y1DQiA

A voyage inside a hollow archtree leading to Ash Lake

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_02sH8E6RGU

A hollowed trunk of an archtree seen in the beginning of the video

During the Age of Fire, the Witch of Izalith attempted to duplicate the First Flame with the power of her Life Soul. While the attempt was unsuccessful in that it backfired, the Flame of Chaos it created was the power source for spawning all of enough lesser ones like Stray, Taurus and Capra Demons to do battle with Gwyn’s army of Silver Knights, and some greater demons like the Old Demon King and the Demon Prince. Eons later the remnants of Chaos were enough to threaten the whole kingdom of Forossa, inspiring the Ivory King to construct Eleum Loyce right on its doorstep with the power of his own soul. However, even what little was left of Chaos was too strong for the Ivory King, so the power in his soul was drained and Eleum Loyce consequently became trapped in a temporal bubble, segregated from the rest of the world, indicating Chaos held dominion over forces of time as well. After this the Ivory King and at least 50 of his most loyal knights plunged into the heart of Chaos in an attempt to quell it, but failed and were burned in perpetual torment. It required Alsanna, a reincarnation of a shard of Manus capable of freezing over and thawing the entire city in an instant, to devote herself to constant ritual to placate Chaos until the arrival of the Bearer of the Curse. It took from a thousand years before the first game all the way across countless eras to The Ringed City DLC for the spark of Chaos to fully dwindle with the death of the Demon Prince. Gwyn in his prime scales to the feat of creating the Flame of Chaos, and even his depleted form in the game scales vastly above any manifestation of Chaos from Dark Souls II and III.

Soul of the Bed of Chaos and the mother of all demons. This Lord Soul was found at the dawn of the Age of Fire.

The Witch of Izalith attempted to duplicate the First Flame from a soul, but instead created a distorted being of chaos and fire. Its power formed a bed of life which would become the source for all demons, and is more than enough to satiate the Lordvessel.

Lord Soul (Bed of Chaos) item description

Shield of the Black Knights that wander Lordan. A flowing canal is chiseled deeply into its face.

Long ago, the black knights faced the chaos demons, and were charred black, but their shields became highly resistant to fire.

Black Knight Shield item description (Dark Souls)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZiNXHC2HR4

“You, approaching Eleum Loyce. Turn back. The old Chaos hungers still.

“This dead city has nothing to offer. Go back. Do not seek the old Chaos, nor its twisted flame.

“To think Aava could be bested… Who are you?

“This land is barren. Cursed, by the old Chaos. It gave birth to atrocities, and the people fled in fear. Until our lord, the Ivory King, came.

“My dear lord, a most true king. It was with his magnificent soul that he built Eleum Loyce… and contained the spread of Chaos. But the Chaos would not be sated, and the King gave his own soul.

“Inevitably, the King was drained of vigour, and into the Chaos’ heart. Eleum Loyce was frozen in time, its leader lost… I remain here, to contain the Chaos, honouring my Lord’s wishes. Perhaps one day, he will return… There is nothing here, save that accursed flame.

“I have but one wish. That my dear Lord might be freed from that unspeakable Chaos. I haven’t the strength to help him myself, but perhaps one such as you… Though I am yet to know your name, stranger, will you lend me your strength?”

Alsanna, the Silent Oracle

Alsanna’s seal is undone, and the winds of Eleum Loyce are ceased

The text upon Alsanna opening the path to Chaos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZiNXHC2HR4&t=5m40s

“You've granted my one wish… Now, I have no regrets. I was born amidst the Dark. Long ago, in the depths of the Abyss, my Father perished. The Dark shattered into tiny pieces, one of which was me. How frightened I was. A frail thing, born from but a splinter of Dark. I felt that I might simply disappear… I am, in fact, the incarnation of my Father's fears. I sought an anchor, and I saw that a King of this land was strong. I sought him only to sustain myself, to smother my fears… Now, I realize that he may have known all along. I was born of fear, and my Lord provided comfort. And so here I remain, heiress to my Lord's wishes, watching over Chaos… until the end of time.”

Alsanna, the Silent Oracle

Soul of Alsanna, oracle of Eleum Loyce, who prays in silent vigilance.

This child of Dark, in reverence of the apocalypse, devotes herself to a ritual in hopes of appeasing the raging flame.

The wondrous soul of this augur of fear can be used to acquire numerous souls, or to create something of great worth.

Soul of Alsanna, Silent Oracle item description

The demons, birthed from a common Chaos, share almost everything between them, even the pride of their prince, and his nearly-faded flame.

So that the last demon standing may rekindle it.

Soul of the Demon Prince item description

The Witch of Izalith and two of her daughters were able to keep the Flame of Chaos at bay with what remained of her Lord Soul. The central, humanoid figure at the forefront of the Bed of Chaos is an animated effigy of the Witch of Izalith, and the two orbs flanking her each contain one of her daughters. The brown branches protruding from the orbs are visually similar to Izalith catalysts that the flame witches used. When the Chosen Undead destroys an orb, its respective staff breaks as well, releasing a part of the Flame of Chaos. So while Chaos was initially volatile, deforming the Witch and her children into the Bed of Chaos and demons like what Quelaag, the Fair Lady, and Ceaseless Discharge have become, the fact that it’s only released once the orbs are destroyed indicates the Bed was eventually able to wrest it under control. Gwyn, even in his diminished state in the game, scales to this feat as his remaining soul was “commensurate” to the Witch of Izalith’s.

No Caption Provided

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUCzgiucoxA

III. SEATH THE SCALELESS

Seath the Scaleless is an albino dragon who was born without the stone scales of immortality his brethren possessed. Due to envy and bitterness, he betrayed his kin by allying with the Gods against the dragons. In the opening cinematic, he is seen standing on top of a pile of Archdragon corpses, crushing a stone scale in his fist, covered in blood - the implication is that he fought and slew all the other dragons in the pile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0l73vAlEBQ&t=141s

“With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons. Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.”

The Narrator

For his fealty, Gwyn granted Seath a portion of his soul - a shard “commensurate” to the souls of Nito, the Witch of Izalith, the Four Kings, and Gwyn himself in the game - that enhanced his preexisting strength. Seath was also granted dukedom and a research facility to uncover immortality for himself. His studies into the arcane arts lead to him discovering the symbiotic relationship between souls and crystals, namely that the latter augments the power of the former, which he used to invent crystal sorceries that are “on par with the armaments of the ancient lords” and “superior to the most finely sharpened weapons.” Seath’s research was later extolled and used by the already-legendary master sorcerer Big Hat Logan - whose strength “is said to be on par with Lord Gwyn’s lightning” (obviously exaggerated, but conveys the gravity of his reputation) - who appropriated the paledrake’s crystal sorceries for his own.

Soul of the albino Seath the Scaleless. A fragment of a Lord Soul discovered at the dawn of the Age of Fire.

Seath allied with Lord Gwyn and turned upon the dragons, and for this he was awarded Dukedom, embraced by the royalty, and given a fragment of a great soul. Although just a piece, it will still satiate the Lordvessel.

Bequeathed Lord Soul Shard (Seath the Scaleless) item description

Soulbeads made more lethal with crystallization.

When fired, they home in on their target.

Crystallization makes souls and sorceries all the more powerful.

Homing Crystal Soulmass item description (Dark Souls II)

Imbues weapon in other hand with crystal magic. More powerful than standard magic reinforcement.

The utilization of crystals to enhance soul power is an ancient form of magical reinforcement.

Crystal Magic Weapon item description (Dark Souls II)

Secret crystal scroll of the Grand Archives of Lothric.

Give to a sorcerer to learn crystal sorceries.

These sorceries are the work of the paledrake, Seath the Scaleless, whom Logan is said to have met, a branch of sorcery that has been carried on by the Crystal Sages.

Crystal Scroll item description

Sorcery developed by Big Hat Logan. Fire piercing soul spear.

A symbol of Logan's strength, the soul spear is referenced repeatedly in the legends, and is said to be on par with Lord Gwyn's lightning.

Soul Spear item description (Dark Souls)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJY0WnmwL1A&t=420s

“The tomes stored in these archives are truly magnificent. A great pool of knowledge, the fruits of superior wisdom and an unquenchable desire for truth. Some would say Seath had an unsound fixation… But his work is a beautiful, invaluable resource. All progress demands sacrifice. And I certainly bear no antipathy for that wonderful scaleless beast.”

Big Hat Logan

Sorcery boosted by the knowledge Logan acquired at the Regal Archives. Fire homing crystal soulmass.

The mysteries of souls, crystals, and the sorceries are deeply intertwined.

Homing Crystal Soulmass item description (Dark Souls)

Sorcery boosted by the knowledge Logan acquired at the Regal Archives. Fire piercing crystal soul spear.

These pale magic spears, sharpened through crystallization, are on par with the armaments of the ancient lords.

Crystal Soul Spear item description (Dark Souls)

Soul spear sharpened through crystallization.

Pierces enemies, causing heavy damage. Superior to the most finely sharpened weapons. When wielded precisely, it can take down several enemies at once.

Crystal Soul Spear item description (Dark Souls II)

C) DARK SOULS II

The Lord Souls make an appearance in Dark Souls II. They were not wholly consumed when the Chosen Undead offered them to the Lordvessel; their power was merely diminished, and they seeped into the land itself and continued to influence it for untold years afterwards (pieces of the splintered Lordvessel can even be found in the basement of an abandoned house in Majula). The game features different art on boss souls depending on their magnitude. Greater souls, like those belonging to the Four Old Ones and King Vendrick, are depicted as more brilliant than lesser boss souls, and the Lord Souls are drawn as even more grandiose than that, indicating their power transcends that of any other soul in the game (another clue is that they can only be acquired in New Game Plus or through the use of a Bonfire Ascetic, an item that intentionally empowers enemies). This is despite the fact that all of their item descriptions describe them as "once-magnificent" and state that “the eons have reduced” them to mere “remnants,” even in the case of Seath’s soul which in itself was originally a shard of Gwyn’s soul. Essentially, even as they are in the first Dark Souls, the enfeebled Gwyn, weakened Nito, declined Witch of Izalith, Seath, and the Four Kings are all far more powerful than any entity in all of Dark Souls II.

The artwork on an ordinary boss soul
The artwork on an ordinary boss soul
The artwork on a boss soul of an exceptionally powerful being
The artwork on a boss soul of an exceptionally powerful being
The artwork on a remnant of a Lord Soul
The artwork on a remnant of a Lord Soul

Soul of the ineffable.

This once-magnificent soul continues to exert influence over the land, even after the eons have reduced it to these remnants.

Use it to acquire numerous souls, or to create something of great worth.

Old Witch Soul/Old Paledrake Soul/Old King Soul/Old Dead One Soul item description

D) DARK SOULS III

Gwyn is more powerful than any being in Dark Souls III too. There are many avenues to prove this which serve to reinforce one another, although they all function independently as well.

I. THE CHOSEN UNDEAD VS. THE ASHEN ONE

When the Chosen Undead links the fire, it causes a massive explosion; when the Ashen One does it, it is only a small flicker. This indicates the soul of the Chosen Undead is far greater than that of the Ashen One, as the radiance of the First Flame is directly proportional to the power of the soul fueling it. Furthermore, the Ashen One did not just require their own soul, but the ashes of four previous Lords of Cinder to link the fire: Farron’s Undead Legion, the Abyss Watchers; Aldrich, Devourer of Gods; Yhorm, the Lonely Ruler; and Ludleth of Courland, the Exiled; as well as the ashes of Prince Lothric, who was fated to be a Lord of Cinder. While it’s not strictly clear how the battles of the respective champions went in the lore, the ludonarrative of Dark Souls is far more emphasized than in virtually any other game series: the story is often relayed through facets of gameplay, and there is a canonical multiverse where other players’ characters reside. So while it’s possible to beat the games at Soul Level 1 without taking any damage and without wearing any weapons or armor, most characters canonically do not accomplish this - there is even dialogue acknowledging the player’s failure and repeated tries from the likes of Lautrec of Carim, Consumed King Oceiros, Lothric and Sister Friede. The whole conceit of the games is that the player character dies over and over only to eventually triumph over their adversary through trial and error as well as sheer statistical probability. And it’s a fact that even in timelines where the Chosen Undead struggles immensely with Gwyn, their soul still carries more energy for the First Flame than the Ashen One in timelines where the latter effortlessly breezes through the game without equipment or leveling up. The weakened Gwyn can therefore be scaled above any foe the Ashen One defeats by proxy of challenging an infinitely more powerful being than the Ashen One themselves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPXMR1DioZU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_XhXDaCEpc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3552jy3UF6Q&t=48s

“Knowest thou of our purpose? Five thrones will take five Lords, as kindling for the linking of the fire. The fast fading Flame must be linked to preserve this world. A re-enactment of the first linking of the fire. So it is, I became a Lord of Cinder. I may be but small, but I will die a colossus.”

Ludleth of Courland

“So, here we go again! How many times will these lambs rush to slaughter? Well, let's get it over with.”

Lautrec of Carim after the Chosen Undead returns to him after being killed by him

“This spot marks our grave, but you may rest here too, if you would like…”

Prince Lothric upon killing the Ashen One

II. GWYN VS. THE SOUL OF CINDER

As revealed in the item description of the Soul of the Lords, “Since Lord Gwyn, the first Lord of Cinder, many exalted lords have linked the First Flame, and it is their very souls that have manifested themselves as defender of the flame,” called the Soul of Cinder, “a deific manifestation of the Lords of Cinder.” It’s therefore understandable should one assume it to be stronger than just a lone Lord of Cinder like Gwyn. However, the Soul of Cinder merely embodies the vestiges of the foregone Lords; it is not a cumulative entity akin to the Avatar in Avatar: The Last Airbender or Darth Sidious in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker where they wield the collective essence of all previous constituent beings. Rather, when a Lord of Cinder sacrifices themselves, most of their power is spent on fueling the fire, and only a small imprint of their being is left behind for the Soul of Cinder. Moreover, when the Lords of Cinder are resurrected in Dark Souls III, they arise in corporeal forms with their souls still “seeped in strength,” able to be transposed into powerful weapons and artifacts. The Soul of Cinder cannot therefore be scaled above Gwyn.

Soul of the Lords. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire numerous souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

Since Lord Gwyn, the first Lord of Cinder, many exalted lords have linked the First Flame, and it is their very souls that have manifested themselves as defender of the flame.

Soul of the Lords item description

Helm of the Soul of Cinder, a deific manifestation of the Lords of Cinder, who linked the First Flame.

It resembles a knight's helm, but bears hideous burns and contortions. A misshapen crown can be seen upon its rear.

It exists as a symbol of the great Lords and the noble act of linking the fire, though it is no more than an empty husk.

Firelink Helm item description

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRBpd3ghVG4&t=58s

“When the link of fire is threatened, the bell tolls, unearthing the old Lords of Cinder from their graves. Aldrich, Saint of the Deep. Farron’s Undead Legion, the Abyss Watchers. And the reclusive lord of the Profaned Capital, Yhorm the Giant.”

The Narrator

Soul of the Blood of the Wolf. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire numerous souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

The blood was spread amongst the Abyss Watchers, and their souls are one with the soul of the wolf blood master.

Soul of the Blood of the Wolf item description

Soul of Aldrich. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

When Aldrich ruminated on the fading of the fire, it inspired visions of a coming age of the deep sea. He knew the path would be arduous, but he had no fear. He would devour the gods himself.

Soul of Aldrich item description

Soul of Yhorm the Giant. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire numerous souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

Yhorm is the descendant of an ancient conqueror, but was asked by the very people once subjugated to lead them, serving as both a weighty blade and a stone-hard shield.

Soul of Yhorm the Giant item description

However, the reverse is very much possible. When the Chosen Undead enters the Kiln, only Gwyn himself is there to confront him, and the Soul of Cinder is nowhere to be found, denoting that whatever fragment of Gwyn’s soul it came to possess was nowhere near as strong as the fading deity himself. This is significant because the Soul of Cinder has two phases in its boss fight, during the first of which it utilizes an eclectic mixture of the abilities and moves of multiple previous Lords of Cinder, but during its second phase it channels Gwyn’s power exclusively. The latter phase triggers once the Soul of Cinder’s health bar has been depleted, upon which it gains another full health bar and transitions into Gwyn’s moveset, accompanied by music redolent of his theme from the first game. So as half of the Soul of Cinder fight is Gwyn’s essence, it indicates the remnant of his power is equal to the remnants of all the other Lords of Cinder combined. By extension, Gwyn as he linked the fire a thousand years prior to the first game was as strong as all the subsequent Lords of Cinder together, including the Chosen Undead, the Bearer of the Curse, Ludleth, the Abyss Watchers, Aldrich, Yhorm, and countless others (the Fire Keepers’ grave contains piles of corpses of past Fire Keepers, suggesting the First Flame has been kindled dozens if not hundreds of times); and if the imprint of Gwyn is 50% of the Soul of Cinder but only, let’s say, 1% of the power he had as he linked the fire, then Gwyn at that stage in his life would be 50 times as powerful as the Soul of Cinder is in the game, and in his prime more than a hundred times; and in game he would still be vastly superior to his imprint which constituted half of the Soul of Cinder, and therefore likely superior to the Lords’ amalgamation altogether.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsJM_xT5lE4

III. GWYN VS. GAEL

The case for Gael’s supremacy stems from the fact that he consumed large portions of the Dark Soul by ingesting the blood of the pygmy lords wherein it was housed. Some argue he is implied to have consumed all of humanity’s Dark Soul fragments as he seems to be still thriving despite all other civilizations having crumbled and sentient life being reduced to a handful, and he demands the Ashen One for their piece, supposedly evidencing that his cannibalism streak wasn’t limited to the pygmies. However, whether he literally acquired all the fragments of the Dark Soul is disputable, as there is nothing suggesting all of humanity died by his hand rather than by other causes. Further, the item description for his soul and the Blood of the Dark Soul state he specifically “sought the blood of the dark soul” and only consumed the Dark Soul upon discovering the pygmies, with no mention of the rest of humanity, so that is a flimsy assumption. There are even other humans at Filianore’s Rest alongside Gael and the Ashen One, such as Shira and a lone Ringed Knight, making it possible more may have subsisted in other parts of the world (there are still castles dotting the landscape). Moreover, Gwyn is referred to as having inherited “the ultimate soul” from the First Flame, meaning his Light Soul was the greatest of all the Lord Souls even before the others waned, including the Dark Soul. The first, furtive pygmy divided the Dark Soul into fragments which became the rest of humanity, so the pygmy lords Gael ate contained even less of the power of the whole Dark Soul which was already inferior to Gwyn’s Light Soul. So while it’s possible Gael might surpass Gwyn from the game given he survived battling ceaselessly till the end of time, accumulated colossal portions of the Dark Soul, and defeated all of their bearers (still unlikely, though; see the segment detailing the Chosen Undead vs. the Ashen One), he is certainly lesser than Gwyn in his prime.

Soul of Slave Knight Gael. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength.

Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength.

The red-hooded, wandering slave knight Gael sought the blood of the dark soul as pigment for the Painted World. But Gael knew he was no Champion, that the dark soul would likely ruin him and that he had little hope of a safe return.

Soul of Slave Knight Gael item description

Blood of the dark soul that seeped from the hole within Slave Knight Gael.

Used as pigment by his lady in Ariandel to depict a painted world.

When Gael came upon the pygmy lords, he discovered that their blood had long ago dried, and so consumed the dark soul.

Blood of the Dark Soul item description

Greatsword born from the soul of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. As bearer of the ultimate soul, Gwyn wielded the bolts of the sun, but before linking the fire, divided that power amongst his children, and set off with only this greatsword as his companion.

Great Lord Greatsword item description

“It isn’t written anywhere, but the image is something like the human’s ancestor. It found the Lord Soul, fragmented it, and humanity is like the fragments of it. Kinda like an ancestor, yeah. So the descendants, the humans, have a part of that Lord Soul.”

Game no Shokutaku interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki

THANKS FOR READING

Try tongue but hole
Try tongue but hole
1 Comments

Most Powerful Star Wars Characters RANKED

New YouTube video that I worked on. Check it out, like, subscribe, and join the discussion on https://www.suspectinsightforums.com/t3778-top-fifteen-most-powerful-star-wars-characters-ultimate-source-compendium. This thread provides extensive sourcing for every claim made in the video and serves as the ultimate source compendium for Star Wars debating. Click the "Sources" tag beneath each claim for access to almost every available relevant source on the topic, including countless never seen before sources.

May the Force be with you!

19 Comments

Quantifying Banite scaling

Introduction

No Caption Provided

It has often been suggested that Banite scaling - the idea that each of Darth Bane's successors became successively more powerful each generation - is too vague to have anything beyond "X > Bane" concluded from it. This is far from the truth, as is revealed when one examines the empirical data, as well as the individual cases we have available for study.

Firstly, let us establish the groundwork from which the concept itself is founded. Each member of the Order of the Sith Lords grew more powerful than their predecessor.

"Over a millennium woven with shadowy conspiracy, their dark powers grew, teetering the Force into imbalance." - Databank: Sith Vengeance

"When the apprentice becomes more powerful than the Master, he destroys his Master and chooses an apprentice of his own." - Sith Wars

"Never again would there be more than two Sith Lords at one time, but members of the order continued expanding their dark powers without the knowledge of the Jedi, waiting for the opportunity to seize control of the galaxy." - The Official Star Wars Fact File #1
"As they gained knowledge of the dark side of the Force, their powers increased with each generation." - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Scrapbook

"For a thousand years, we continued to follow Bane's Rule of Two, existing in the shadows, biding our time, growing in power, feeding our hatred." - Insider #88

"Ultimately, Bane's plan produced more powerful Sith Lords with each generation." - Force and Destiny
Darth Bane, Book of the Sith

"That it is why we must seek out radical separatist groups, identify the ones that have the potential to become true threats, then encourage them to strike before they are ready. We must exploit them, playing them off against the Republic. We must let our enemies weaken one another while we stay hidden and grow strong."

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

--Darth Bane

Of all the Sith Masters, only Bane had understood the inescapable futility of this cycle. And only he had been strong enough to break it. Under his leadership the Sith had been reborn. Now they numbered only two - one Master and one apprentice; one to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it.

Thus would the Sith line always flow from the strongest, the one most worthy. Bane's Rule of Two ensured that the power of both Master and apprentice would grow from generation to generation until the Sith were finally able to exterminate the Jedi and usher in a new galactic age.

That was why Bane had chosen Zannah as his apprentice: she had the potential to one day surpass even his own abilities. On that day she would usurp him as the Dark Lord of the Sith and choose an apprentice of her own. Bane would die, but the Sith would live on.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"The Jedi believe the Sith are extinct," she began. "But you can plainly see by my presence that the Jedi are wrong. The Sith still exist, but now we number only two: one Master, and one apprentice. One to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it."

"So you want to increase your numbers," Set reasoned. "You're seeking recruits to join your cause and rebuild the Sith armies."

"That is the path to failure," Zannah replied. "The history of the Sith has proven that in greater numbers the Sith will always turn their hatred against one another. It is inevitable; it is the way of the dark side.

"The only way we can survive is by following the Rule of Two. Our numbers can never grow beyond this. The Master will train his apprentice in the ways of the Sith, until one day she must challenge him. If she proves unworthy, the Master will destroy her and choose a new apprentice. If she proves the stronger, the Master will fall and she will become the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and choose an apprentice of her own."

Set felt like things were becoming clearer now. "You are the apprentice. You think it's time to challenge your Master. And you want me to help you defeat him."

"No!" she snapped, causing Set to flinch in his bed. "That is the old way. Lesser followers would unite their inferior skills to bring down a strong leader, weakening the Order. This goes against everything the Rule of Two stands for.

"If I am to become the Dark Lord of the Sith, I must prove myself by facing my Master alone. If I am unworthy, then I will fall:but the Order will remain strong under his leadership.

"Do you understand?"

Set understood all too well. "The Rule of Two guarantees that each Master will be more powerful than the one who came before. It culls the weak." Good for the Sith as a whole, but not so great if you're the one getting culled.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"With patience and cunning, we are laying the seeds of our ultimate victory. Generation after generation our power and influence will grow until one day we will destroy the Jedi, and the Sith will rule the galaxy."

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

--Darth Zannah

The missions to Lianna, Saleucami, and Abraxin were still fresh in his thoughts. On a philosophical level he understood why the generations of Sith Lords that had preceded him had trained apprentices, to whom they had bequeathed their knowledge of the dark side of the Force in anticipation of an eventual challenge for superiority.

Darth Plagueis

"How often you said that the old order of Bane had ended with the death of your Master. An apprentice no longer needs to be stronger, you told me, merely more clever. The era of keeping score, suspicion and betrayal was over. Strength lies not in the flesh but in the Force."

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Sidious

He sometimes wondered: Was he a level behind? Two levels behind? Such questions were precisely what had driven generations of Sith apprentices ultimately to challenge their Masters. The uncertainty about who was the more powerful. The need to test themselves, to face the definitive trial.

Darth Plagueis

The Banite line contained 30 individuals as of Darth Plagueis' time.

“Descended from Darth Bane, we are the select few who refuse to be carried by the Force and who carry it instead - thirty in a millennium rather than the tens of thousands fit to be Jedi.”

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Plagueis

Notable individuals from the Banite line include Darth Bane, Darth Zannah, Darth Cognus, Darth Vectivus, Darth Gravid, Darth Gean, Darth Ramage, Darth Tenebrous’ Master, Darth Tenebrous, Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious.

The task before him was at once invigorating and daunting, and in the eye of that cycloning storm he could hear the faraway voices of all those who had laid the groundwork of the Sith imperative - the Grand Plan; those who had enlivened the hurricane with their breath and lives: Darths Bane and Zannah, and on down through the generations that had included Cognus, Vectivus, Ramage, and Tenebrous.

Darth Plagueis

Contrary to the opinions of some, the Banites’ generational power increase did not stop at Darth Gravid’s rampage. His apprentice Darth Gean still overpowered his Force barriers and defeated him with her bare hands despite her being far his inferior in Force knowledge, proving that the Banite Sith did not stop growing after Darth Gravid.

Barricaded within the walls of a bastion he and his Twi’lek apprentice, Gean, had constructed on Jaguada, he had attempted as much, and was thought to have destroyed more than half the repository of artifacts before Gean, demonstrating consummate will and courage, had managed to penetrate the Force fields Gravid had raised around their stronghold and intercede, killing her Master with her bare hands, though at the cost of her arm, shoulder, and the entire left side of her face and chest.

[...]

“Your thoughts betray you,” Plagueis said. “Do you think that Malak’s powers were weakened by Revan’s lightsaber? Bane by being encrusted in orbalisks? Do you think Gravid’s young apprentice was hindered by the prosthesis she was forced to wear after fighting him?”

Darth Plagueis

Method of Quantification

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According to Darth Sidious, the last Banite master, Bane's power passed from master to apprentice throughout the generations:

"Bane's power has been passed down for a thousand years. I vow to be its last recipient." - Darth Sidious, Book of the Sith

While it would be a straightforward and simple interpretation to conclude this conferring of power happened during the apprentice's training - after all, for the apprentices to equal and defeat their masters they would have had to have Bane's power - the source material itself implies something different. We can witness this phenomenon of Bane's power being transferred to the apprentice at the time of their masters' deaths on three separate occasions:

Even from a distance, she had sensed an incredible burst of power - the same power she had sensed in Bane himself. She didn’t know how it was possible, but it almost seemed as if the Dark Lord’s life energy had burst free of his physical form in one glorious instant, releasing itself upon the material world. Then, as suddenly as she had sensed the presence, it was gone, vanishing like an animal gone to ground.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Awake in the oppressive heat, he replayed the events of the previous day, still somewhat astounded by what he had done. The Force had whispered to him: Your moment has come. Claim your stake to the dark side. Act now and be done with this. But the Force had only advised; it had neither dictated his actions nor guided his hands. That had been his doing alone. He knew from his travels with and without Tenebrous that he wasn't the galaxy's sole practitioner of the dark side - nor Sith for that matter, since the galaxy was rife with pretenders - but he was now the only Sith Lord descended from the Bane line. A true Sith, and that realization roused the raw power coiled inside him.

[…]

With 11-4D deep in processing mode, Plagueis withdrew a vial of his own blood and subjected it to analysis. Despite the recent amplification of his powers he sensed that his midi-chlorian count had not increased since the events on Bal'demnic, and the analysis of the blood sample confirmed his suspicions.

Darth Plagueis

A tremor took hold of the planet.

Sprung from death, it unleashed itself in a powerful wave, at once burrowing deep into the world's core and radiating through its saccharine atmosphere to shake the stars themselves. At the quake's epicenter stood Sidious, one elegant hand vised on the burnished sill of an expansive translucency, a vessel filled suddenly to bursting, the Force so strong within him that he feared he might disappear into it, never to return. But the moment didn't constitute an ending so much as a true beginning, long overdue; it was less a transformation than an intensification - a gravitic shift.

A welter of voices, near and far, present and from eons past, drowned his thoughts. Raised in praise, the voices proclaimed his reign and cheered the inauguration of a new order. Yellow eyes lifted to the night sky, he saw the trembling stars flare, and in the depth of his being he felt the power of the dark side anoint him.

[…]

The dark side had made him its property, and now he made the dark side his.

Breathless, not from exertion but from the sudden inspiration of power, he let go of the sill and allowed the monster to writhe through his body like an unbroken beast of range or prairie.

Had the Force ever been so strong in anyone?

Sidious had never learned how Plagueis's own Master had met his end. Had he died at Plagueis's hand? Had Plagueis, too, experienced a similar exultation on becoming a sole Sith Lord? Had the beast of the end time risen then to peek at the world it was to inhabit, knowing its release was imminent?

Darth Plagueis

While this sort of apotheosis is not confirmed to have happened every time, these three instances nonetheless do lend credence to the idea that Bane's power would have seeped forth from the Master to their pupil at their deaths - to confer the mantle of Dark Lord. Once is a fluke and twice is a coincidence but thrice is a pattern; it's not like the quote specifies Bane's power was passed down during the training either - in fact there's zero evidence of this. Even the catchphrase of the Rule of Two implies the opposite: "Always two there are: a master and an apprentice. One to embody the power, the other to crave it." Perhaps even more literally than symbolically, the master does indeed embody the power; the power of the power of the Sith Master; the power of Darth Bane. When the master dies at the hands of the apprentice, the latter the becomes the embodiment of that power by having it transferred to them, after which they select their own apprentice to crave it in turn, and the cycle continues.

So with this, we have an obvious method of quantification: the apprentice already equals their master during their fateful confrontation, and after the deed is done they gain a Bane of power (Bane being a unit of measurement I devised to more conveniently ascertain the Banite Sith's power; the definition of the unit being that a single Bane is equivalent to the power wielded by Darth Bane at his peak in Dynasty of Evil) on top of their current level. This would have happened every time, to the result of, at the bare minimum, Tenebrous having 29 Banes, Plagueis 30, and Sidious 31 Banes of power at their command. The method is solid, simple, and exact.

Individual Instances

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Beyond quantitative methods, we have individual instances to demonstrate the vastness in between the beginning and the end of the line.

Darth Cognus

Before even beginning her apprenticeship under Darth Zannah, the Huntress - as she was known then - was already strong in the Force. So strong in fact, that she was able to threaten the reigning champion of the dark side Darth Bane with just her inborn talent with the Force. Indeed, she had no training, no prior knowledge of the Force, yet she was rivalling Bane with just her raw, instinctive use of the Force:

As he did so, he felt something fighting him. Some power was trying to block his ability to call upon the Force to shield himself. It wasn't strong enough to stop him, but it did hinder his efforts just enough so that a flicker of energy passed through the barrier.

[...]

He sprang back to his feet, simultaneously drawing his lightsaber with his right hand as he sent a blast of lightning out from the fingertips of his left hand. The violet bots should have incinerated all four of his targets on the balcony, yet again the strange power interfering with his ability to draw upon the Force hindered his efforts.

[...]

He came down with a heavy thud, the inexplicable power that still impeded his connection to the Force robbing him of a graceful landing.

[...]

The soldiers were nothing to him; it was the Iktotchi he was interested in now. She was the only opponent who posed any real threat.

[...]

Her achievements were even more impressive when one considered that she had never been given any formal training in the ways of the Force. Everything she did came from natural ability. Pure instinct. Raw power.

[...]

Her ability to disrupt the Force in others only gave further testament to her strength. She had never been trained in this rare and difficult technique; she simply unleashed it against her enemies through sheer force of will: crude but effective.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Given how each successive member would have more potential than Cognus, it should then not be a stretch to suggest some of the later Sith would have been Bane's superiors even while children and untrained neophytes. 17-year-old Sheev might in fact one-shot Bane.

Darth Gean

Gean overpowered the Force barrier her Master Darth Gravid had raised around their stronghold, proving herself his better in the Force, after which immediately besting him in single combat with just her bare hands, while he was armed with a lightsaber. This happened while she was still in training, not having learned even half of what her Master had to teach, yet she still demonstrated herself to be significantly more powerful and combatively able than Gravid. If she had learned all the Sith Archives had to offer at the time, the gap between her and her Master might have been outright enormous.

Barricaded within the walls of a bastion he and his Twi’lek apprentice, Gean, had constructed on Jaguada, he had attempted as much, and was thought to have destroyed more than half the repository of artifacts before Gean, demonstrating consummate will and courage, had managed to penetrate the Force fields Gravid had raised around their stronghold and intercede, killing her Master with her bare hands, though at the cost of her arm, shoulder, and the entire left side of her face and chest.

[...]

“Your thoughts betray you,” Plagueis said. “Do you think that Malak’s powers were weakened by Revan’s lightsaber? Bane by being encrusted in orbalisks? Do you think Gravid’s young apprentice was hindered by the prosthesis she was forced to wear after fighting him?”

Darth Plagueis

If a less-than-half-trained Gean can murk Gravid unarmed, then one can only imagine what those with even superior potential and superior actualized power and knowledge could do to Gravid. Granted how big even a generational increase is, most likely the likes of Tenebrous and Plagueis would already be capable of one-shotting Gravid, who himself could probably one-shot Bane.

Darth Tenebrous

While merely an apprentice, Tenebrous went far beyond the Force studies his own Master imposed on him, deeming them as "simplistic." If Tenebrous thought his Master's command of the Force was "simplistic" compared to his own before even taking the title of Sith Master, then it kind of boggles the mind how powerful he would become after disposing of his Master, an act that, by the way, Tenebrous carried out with his "customary efficiency," implying no great deal of difficulty:

More than a century before, when Tenebrous had been but a Sith apprentice himself, the magnificent computational power of his Bith brain had led him far beyond the simplistic Force studies imposed on him by his Master.

[...]

He had exterminated his doddering Master with his customary efficiency, and had embarked immediately on a decades-spanning quest for an apprentice of his own.

The Tenebrous Way

It does not end here, however. Tenebrous continued to grow for more than a century after the deed. In fact, he would probably only have been 20 years old or less given how most Biths aren't known to live past 85, yet Tenebrous had been the Sith Master for over a hundred years at the time of his death, which isn't factoring in the time he would have spend as an apprentice. Anything more than two decades is rather unbelievable considering Tenebrous would even then be over 120 at the time of his death, a bonafide statistical anomaly among his people. Given this, we can now factor in him far surpassing his Master in just two decades and multiply that by five to get the amount of growth he would have undergone as a Sith Master, and I honestly find it very, very hard to believe he would not one-shot his Master at his peak.

Ultimate Alien Anthology
Ultimate Alien Anthology

We have even more evidence, though. During the years of his apprenticeship, Tenebrous and his Master experimented to create a virus that would sever the Force connections of Jedi upon infection, although the project ended in failure. Decades later, Tenebrous would revisit the idea, and actually succeed in developing said virus with the same effect of cutting off Force users from the Force. He would take it even further, however, by limiting the severance to specific Force abilities, and by transforming the midi-chlorians into undying maxi-chlorians, and finally by coding the virus with his own consciousness. In a nutshell, apprentice Tenebrous and his Master fail at creating a far more simple virus than what peak Tenebrous creates solo. The implication here is that Tenebrous in his prime eclipses the power of his apprentice self and his Master combined.

But his apprentice carried the imperative forward, and each successive Sith Lord improved on it, Tenebrous and his Master most of all, though they wasted years attempting to create a targeted virus that could be deployed against the Jedi, separating them from the Force.

Darth Plagueis

As though midi-chlorians somehow embodied the principle of life itself, they vanished as life fled. Plagueis had more than once speculated that they somehow migrated from dying cells and returned to rejoin the Force from which they had sprung - more evidence of the apprentice's muddy thinking and pathetically romanticized mysticism, but no matter. The delusion of the student had proven an inspiration to the teacher, and the concept of midi-chlorian migration - flawed though it was - became the key to Tenebrous’ master stroke.

Amidst the billions upon billions of individual midi-chlorian deaths in Tenebrous' cells were a tiny fraction of midi-chlorians that were not dying.

That would not die so long as they inhabited a living host. These especially tenacious midi-chlorians - Tenebrous had privately labeled them with the jesting sobriquet maxi-chlorians - had been altered. Improved. It would not be an overstatement, in Tenebrous' opinion, to use the word perfected. These maxi-chlorians would indeed migrate, but not into the Force.

They would migrate into Plagueis.

To detect this infinitesimal percentage would require the precision of a Bith; it was far beyond his apprentice's limited perceptions - and indeed, Tenebrous had gone to considerable trouble to ensure it would always remain so.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another. In turn, Tenebrous had invested every available second of the freedom this afforded into designing, creating, and deploying the one weapon that Plagueis would never suspect.

Could never suspect. His own prejudices about the Force ensured Plagueis wouldn't believe such a thing was possible.

Tenebrous created a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians were, after all, merely symbiotic organelles that contribute to the organic processes of the living cells they inhabit. Due to their role in Force interactions, altering them was singularly challenging - they had an unsettling tendency to spontaneously express unexpected and unfortunate side effects - but by applying the full analytic prowess of his vast Bith brain and the preternatural power of his Bith senses to detect and resolve sub-microscopic structure, he eventually succeeded in creating a retrovirus that would transform normal midi-chlorians into long-lived maxi-chlorians.

But that was only the beginning.

With the patient, painstaking attention to the slightest, most insignificant detail that was his hallmark, Tenebrous had encoded his custom retrovirus with his most potent weapon: his own consciousness.

Once completed, Tenebrous had released the virus into his own bloodstream. It had spread throughout his body, infecting midi-chlorians in every one of his cells with gratifying alacrity. Not all his midi-chlorians, though, as the infected maxi-chlorians no longer fully functioned; to infect them all would have cut off his own connection to the Force. A partial severance of this connection was a necessary sacrifice, however, and through an extended process of trial and error, he was able to fine-tune the effect and confine it to the one sector of his Force powers he no longer needed - his ability to sense the motion of the future.

Of what possible use was the ability to see a future he already knew?

The Tenebrous Way

At this point I find it very unrealistic to suggest that Tenebrous would not be capable of one-shotting his Master. The former already considered the latter a troglodyte before going on to quintuple in power in the decades leading up to his prime. The evidence is there, and it's just very obvious to me. Tenebrous one-shots his Master, who could probably one-shot Gravid honestly, who in turn would one-shot Bane.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous disposed of his mortal shell when he entered his maxi-chlorians, existing only as an intangible consciousness afterwards. As a side-effect he found his connection to the Force to have increased to levels "more intimate than he had ever believed possible," and that his power had "multiplied":

Now, dead at last, he could begin to enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labor. In the Force, he could feel that his body had already suffered irreversible brain-death, yet his consciousness remained, fully aware, fully functional, and connected to the Force in a manner more intimate than he had ever believed possible. Freed now of the crude biological processes that mark the passage of time, Tenebrous found he could perceive the measured tick of each individual nanosecond while simultaneously comprehending the entire sweep of galactic eons.

[...]

With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell.

The Tenebrous Way

The reason I do not believe this is Tenebrous' combative prime is because I see no evidence he could have sustained his spirit without an earthly tether to attach it to (the only Sith to have pulled this off was Emperor Palpatine, the strongest of them all), and most likely he would always end up trapped in a time loop since he was bound to his maxi-chlorians, so I don't think his spirit state could be used in a versus scenario. It does, however, open a new door for Plagueis, who as per Banite scaling grew more powerful than Tenebrous had. And seeing as Tenebrous' spirit is still Tenebrous, I see no reason not to take his incorporeal power levels into account when gauging Plagueis. By all accounts, they should elevate Plagueis to far greater heights than physical Tenebrous was capable of - Plagueis' power is literally Tenebrous' power "multiplied" to a grander level than Tenebrous "had ever believed possible." He might not one-shot Tenebrous, but the gap is very vast nonetheless. He definitely one-shots Tenebrous' Master, though, who in turn one-shots Gravid, who one-shots Bane.

Closing Words

I could have done a subsection explaining Sidious too, but he has a vast abundance of material beyond any other Banite covering his growth, so it would needlessly extend this blog when the point is clear enough as it is. Not to mention he doesn't really need Banite scaling to be universally respected, wanked, and loved; his own feats do that for him, and while that is true for some of the others here too, Sidious is the most self-sufficient of the bunch by a countrymile.

But regardless, I feel like I have done my duty here. The Banite gap is ginormous, and the benefits granted by the scaling equally so. There's little denying it. The Banites are supreme.

May the darkness of Sheev be with you!
May the darkness of Sheev be with you!

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Darth Tenebrous Respect Thread - Updated

Introduction

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Darth Tenebrous is often viewed as too obscure or a featless character to use in versus threads. This Respect Thread is designed to change the views of the naysayers. I hope it accomplishes its intended purpose and many realize just how monstrously formidable Tenebrous actually is.

Special thanks to @shootingnova for allowing me to use the material of his old Darth Tenebrous Respect Thread for this, updated version. More thanks to him for helping me out with this one, and also special thanks to @i_like_swords for contributing to the making of this as well.

For easy navigation, press Ctrl + F on your keyboard for a search to pop up, to which you can type specific words or sentences for them to be highlighted. Unfortunately, this only works - to my knowledge - on the desktop version, so mobile users will have to get by without this feature.

Before we begin, here is some awesome music for you to listen to while reading:

Without further ado, respect Darth Tenebrous, the master and teacher of Darth Plagueis, and one of the most powerful Sith Lords of all.

Overall Force Power and Knowledge

Each member of the Order of the Sith Lords grew more powerful than their predecessor. Tenebrous, as a member of this line, is more powerful than all previous members of Bane's lineage.

"When the apprentice becomes more powerful than the Master, he destroys his Master and chooses an apprentice of his own." - Sith Wars
"Never again would there be more than two Sith Lords at one time, but members of the order continued expanding their dark powers without the knowledge of the Jedi, waiting for the opportunity to seize control of the galaxy." - The Official Star Wars Fact File #1

"As they gained knowledge of the dark side of the Force, their powers increased with each generation." - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Scrapbook

"For a thousand years, we continued to follow Bane's Rule of Two, existing in the shadows, biding our time, growing in power, feeding our hatred." - Insider 88

"Ultimately, Bane's plan produced more powerful Sith Lords with each generation." - Force and Destiny
Darth Bane, Book of the Sith

"That it is why we must seek out radical separatist groups, identify the ones that have the potential to become true threats, then encourage them to strike before they are ready. We must exploit them, playing them off against the Republic. We must let our enemies weaken one another while we stay hidden and grow strong."

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

--Darth Bane

Of all the Sith Masters, only Bane had understood the inescapable futility of this cycle. And only he had been strong enough to break it. Under his leadership the Sith had been reborn. Now they numbered only two - one Master and one apprentice; one to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it.

Thus would the Sith line always flow from the strongest, the one most worthy. Bane's Rule of Two ensured that the power of both Master and apprentice would grow from generation to generation until the Sith were finally able to exterminate the Jedi and usher in a new galactic age.

That was why Bane had chosen Zannah as his apprentice: she had the potential to one day surpass even his own abilities. On that day she would usurp him as the Dark Lord of the Sith and choose an apprentice of her own. Bane would die, but the Sith would live on.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"The Jedi believe the Sith are extinct," she began. "But you can plainly see by my presence that the Jedi are wrong. The Sith still exist, but now we number only two: one Master, and one apprentice. One to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it."

"So you want to increase your numbers," Set reasoned. "You're seeking recruits to join your cause and rebuild the Sith armies."

"That is the path to failure," Zannah replied. "The history of the Sith has proven that in greater numbers the Sith will always turn their hatred against one another. It is inevitable; it is the way of the dark side.

"The only way we can survive is by following the Rule of Two. Our numbers can never grow beyond this. The Master will train his apprentice in the ways of the Sith, until one day she must challenge him. If she proves unworthy, the Master will destroy her and choose a new apprentice. If she proves the stronger, the Master will fall and she will become the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and choose an apprentice of her own."

Set felt like things were becoming clearer now. "You are the apprentice. You think it's time to challenge your Master. And you want me to help you defeat him."

"No!" she snapped, causing Set to flinch in his bed. "That is the old way. Lesser followers would unite their inferior skills to bring down a strong leader, weakening the Order. This goes against everything the Rule of Two stands for.

"If I am to become the Dark Lord of the Sith, I must prove myself by facing my Master alone. If I am unworthy, then I will fall - but the Order will remain strong under his leadership.

"Do you understand?"

Set understood all too well. "The Rule of Two guarantees that each Master will be more powerful than the one who came before. It culls the weak." Good for the Sith as a whole, but not so great if you're the one getting culled.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"With patience and cunning, we are laying the seeds of our ultimate victory. Generation after generation our power and influence will grow until one day we will destroy the Jedi, and the Sith will rule the galaxy."

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

--Darth Zannah

The missions to Lianna, Saleucami, and Abraxin were still fresh in his thoughts. On a philosophical level he understood why the generations of Sith Lords that had preceded him had trained apprentices, to whom they had bequeathed their knowledge of the dark side of the Force in anticipation of an eventual challenge for superiority.

Darth Plagueis

"How often you said that the old order of Bane had ended with the death of your Master. An apprentice no longer needs to be stronger, you told me, merely more clever. The era of keeping score, suspicion and betrayal was over. Strength lies not in the flesh but in the Force."

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Sidious

He sometimes wondered: Was he a level behind? Two levels behind? Such questions were precisely what had driven generations of Sith apprentices ultimately to challenge their Masters. The uncertainty about who was the more powerful. The need to test themselves, to face the definitive trial.

Darth Plagueis

The Banite line contained 30 individuals as of Darth Plagueis' time. This means 28 Sith before Tenebrous.

“Descended from Darth Bane, we are the select few who refuse to be carried by the Force and who carry it instead-thirty in a millennium rather than the tens of thousands fit to be Jedi.”

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Plagueis

Notable individuals from the Banite line before Tenebrous include Darth Bane, Darth Zannah, Darth Cognus, Darth Vectivus, Darth Gravid, Darth Gean, Darth Ramage, and Darth Tenebrous’ Master.

The task before him was at once invigorating and daunting, and in the eye of that cycloning storm he could hear the faraway voices of all those who had laid the groundwork of the Sith imperative - the Grand Plan; those who had enlivened the hurricane with their breath and lives: Darths Bane and Zannah, and on down through the generations that had included Cognus, Vectivus, Ramage, and Tenebrous.

Darth Plagueis

Upon the death of the master, Darth Bane's original power is transferred to the apprentice.

"Bane's power has been passed down for a thousand years. I vow to be its last recipient." - Darth Sidious, Book of the Sith

Even from a distance, she had sensed an incredible burst of power-the same power she had sensed in Bane himself. She didn’t know how it was possible, but it almost seemed as if the Dark Lord’s life energy had burst free of his physical form in one glorious instant, releasing itself upon the material world. Then, as suddenly as she had sensed the presence, it was gone, vanishing like an animal gone to ground.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Awake in the oppressive heat, he replayed the events of the previous day, still somewhat astounded by what he had done. The Force had whispered to him: Your moment has come. Claim your stake to the dark side. Act now and be done with this. But the Force had only advised; it had neither dictated his actions nor guided his hands. That had been his doing alone. He knew from his travels with and without Tenebrous that he wasn't the galaxy's sole practitioner of the dark side-nor Sith for that matter, since the galaxy was rife with pretenders-but he was now the only Sith Lord descended from the Bane line. A true Sith, and that realization roused the raw power coiled inside him.

[…]

With 11-4D deep in processing mode, Plagueis withdrew a vial of his own blood and subjected it to analysis. Despite the recent amplification of his powers he sensed that his midi-chlorian count had not increased since the events on Bal'demnic, and the analysis of the blood sample confirmed his suspicions.

Darth Plagueis

A tremor took hold of the planet.

Sprung from death, it unleashed itself in a powerful wave, at once burrowing deep into the world's core and radiating through its saccharine atmosphere to shake the stars themselves. At the quake's epicenter stood Sidious, one elegant hand vised on the burnished sill of an expansive translucency, a vessel filled suddenly to bursting, the Force so strong within him that he feared he might disappear into it, never to return. But the moment didn't constitute an ending so much as a true beginning, long overdue; it was less a transformation than an intensification-a gravitic shift.

A welter of voices, near and far, present and from eons past, drowned his thoughts. Raised in praise, the voices proclaimed his reign and cheered the inauguration of a new order. Yellow eyes lifted to the night sky, he saw the trembling stars flare, and in the depth of his being he felt the power of the dark side anoint him.

[…]

The dark side had made him its property, and now he made the dark side his.

Breathless, not from exertion but from the sudden inspiration of power, he let go of the sill and allowed the monster to writhe through his body like an unbroken beast of range or prairie.

Had the Force ever been so strong in anyone?

Sidious had never learned how Plagueis's own Master had met his end. Had he died at Plagueis's hand? Had Plagueis, too, experienced a similar exultation on becoming a sole Sith Lord? Had the beast of the end time risen then to peek at the world it was to inhabit, knowing its release was imminent?

Darth Plagueis

Contrary to the opinions of some, the Banites’ generational power increase did not stop at Darth Gravid’s rampage. His apprentice Darth Gean still overpowered his Force barriers and defeated him with her bare hands despite her being far his inferior in Force knowledge, proving that the Banite Sith did not stop growing after Darth Gravid.

Barricaded within the walls of a bastion he and his Twi’lek apprentice, Gean, had constructed on Jaguada, he had attempted as much, and was thought to have destroyed more than half the repository of artifacts before Gean, demonstrating consummate will and courage, had managed to penetrate the Force fields Gravid had raised around their stronghold and intercede, killing her Master with her bare hands, though at the cost of her arm, shoulder, and the entire left side of her face and chest.

[...]

“Your thoughts betray you,” Plagueis said. “Do you think that Malak’s powers were weakened by Revan’s lightsaber? Bane by being encrusted in orbalisks? Do you think Gravid’s young apprentice was hindered by the prosthesis she was forced to wear after fighting him?”

Darth Plagueis

While merely an apprentice, Tenebrous found the Force studies imposed on him by his Master simplistic and went far beyond them.

More than a century before, when Tenebrous had been but a Sith apprentice himself, the magnificent computational power of his Bith brain had led him far beyond the simplistic Force studies imposed on him by his Master.

The Tenebrous Way

They would have included the entire Banite archives, given how they are passed from master to apprentice. The archives were the representation of the accumulated knowledge of the Banite Sith.

"Darth Bane's Rule of Two was a keystone of the Sith Order for centuries. The Battle of Ruusan, nearly a millenium ago, would have ended the Sith Order had Darth Bane not reconstituted it as a diarchy operating from the shadows. His writings became a part of the Sith Archives passed down from master to apprentice for generations."

[...]

"Under the tutelage of Darth Plagueis I inherited the Sith Archives - more than a thousand years' worth of teachings passed in secret from master to apprentice."

Book of the Sith

--Darth Sidious

For a millennium, the Sith maintained the order in secrecy, passing down their evil heritage. As they gained knowledge of the dark side of the Force, their powers increased with each generation.

Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Scrapbook

As Tenebrous explained it, the Jedi had emerged strong from the war of a millennium earlier, and while Darth Bane and subsequent Sith Lords had done their best to disrupt the reborn Republic, they labored at a disadvantage. So eventually it was decided that the Sith should hide in plain sight, amassing wealth and knowledge, and securing contacts and alliances with groups that would one day form the basis of a galaxywide opposition to both the Republic and the revered Order that served it. By all accounts those early centuries had been challenging, watching the Jedi return to their eminent position. But the Sith had had the luxury of studying the Order from afar without the Jedi ever being aware that they had adversaries.

Darth Plagueis

The tour began in the outermost rooms, which were appointed with furnishings and objects of art of the highest quality, gathered from all sectors of the galaxy. But Plagueis was neither as acquisitive as a Neimoidian nor as ostentatious as a Hutt; and so the ornamented chambers quickly gave way to data-gathering rooms crowded with audio-vid receivers and HoloNet projectors; and then to galleries filled to overflowing with ancient documents and tomes, recorded on media ranging from tree trunk parchment through flimsiplast to storage crystal and holocron. The Muuns were said to abhor literature and to loathe keeping records of anything other than loan notices, actuarial tables, and legal writs, and yet Plagueis was guardian of the one of the finest libraries to be found anywhere outside Obroa-skai or the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Here, neatly arranged and cataloged and stored in climate-controlled cases, was a collection of treatises and commentaries accumulated over centuries by the Sith and their often unwitting agents. Ancient histories of the Rakata and the Vjun; texts devoted to the Followers of Palawa, the Chatos Academy, and the Order of Dai Bendu; archives that had once belonged to House Malreaux; annals of the Sorcerers of Tund and of Queen Amanoa of Onderon; biological studies of the ysalimiri and vornskrs of Myrkr, and of the taozin of Va’art. Certain long-lived species, like the Wookiees, Hutts, Falleen, and Toydarians, were afforded galleries of their own.

Deeper in the mountain were laboratories where Plagueis’s real work took place. Confined to cages, stasis fields, bioreactors, and bacta tanks were life-forms brought to Muunilinst from across the galaxy—many from the galaxy’s most remote worlds. Some were creatures of instinct, and others were semisentient. Some were immediately recognizable to 11-4D; others resembled creatures concocted from borrowed parts. Some were newly birthed or hatched, and some looked as if they were being kept at death’s door. More than a few were the subjects of ongoing experiments in what seemed to be vivisection or interbreeding, and others were clearly in suspended animation. OneOne-FourDee noted that many of the animals wore remotes that linked them to biometric monitoring machines, while others were in the direct care of specialist droids. Elsewhere in the hollow of the mountain were sealed enclosures warmed by artificial light, aswirl with mixtures of rarefied gases and luxuriant with flora. And deeper still were test centers crammed with complex machines and glass-fronted cooling units devoted to the storage of chemical compounds, alkaloids derived from both plants and animals, blood and tissue samples, and bodily organs from a host of species.

Plagueis instructed 11-4D to wander about the galleries and laboratories on his own, and then report back to him.

Hours later the droid returned to say: “I recognize that you are involved in research related to species durability and hybridization. But I must confess to being unfamiliar with many of the examples of fauna and flora you have amassed, and few of the arcane documents in your library. Is the data available for upload?”

“Some portion of it,” Plagueis said. “The remainder will have to be scanned.”

“Then the task will require standard years, Magister.”

“I’m aware of that. While there is some urgency, we are in no rush.”

“I understand, sir. Is there specific data you wish me to assimilate first?”

From the breast pocket of his cloak, Plagueis withdrew a storage crystal. “Start with this. It is a history of the Sith.”

[...]

Exiting the turbolift, the first thing to catch Sidious’s eye was the library: rack after rack of texts, scrolls, disks, and holocrons—all the data he had been craving since his apprenticeship began. He ran his hands lovingly over the shelves but barely had time to revel in his excitement when 11-4D ushered him onto a descending ramp that led into what might have been a state-of-the-art medical research facility.

Darth Plagueis

Darth Bane had already amassed more knowledge than anyone before him. The Banite Sith's continued gathering of knowledge even beyond this would make Tenebrous the most knowledgeable Sith Lord in history up to that point.

"Darth Bane had gained more knowledge and mastery of Sith techniques than anyone before him." - The Official Star Wars Fact File 22

Abilities described within the Banite Archives included Alter Environment, Force Flight, Invisibility, Teleportation, Time Manipulation, planetary devastation, Pyrokinesis, Stasis Field, Resurrect Dead, Force Illusions, Summon Demon, among others.

He had read the histories of the great Sith Lords; many were filled with feats almost too incredible to be believed. Yet even if these accounts were true, even if some of his predecessors had had the ability to use the dark side to destroy entire worlds or make a sun go nova, Bane still felt that his power measured up to the described abilities of many of those who had successfully created Holocrons of their own.

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

If one accepted the tales handed down in accounts and holocrons, the ancient Sith had known how to accomplish this. But had Sith like Naga Sadow and Exar Kun genuinely been more powerful, or had they benefited from the fact that the dark side had been more prominent in those bygone eras? Some commentators claimed that the ability to survive death had been limited to those with a talent for sorcery and alchemy, and that the use of such practices actually predated the arrival of the Dark Jedi exiles on Korriban. But sorcery had been employed less to extend life than to create illusions, fashion beasts, and resurrect the dead. Powerful adepts were said to have been able to saturate the atmosphere of planets with dark side energy, compel stars to explode, or induce paralysis in crowds, as Exar Kun apparently did to select members of the Republic Senate. Other adepts used sorcery merely as a means to better understand ancient Sith spells and sigils.

[...]

Still in safekeeping on Aborah were texts and holocrons that recounted the deeds and abilities of Sith Masters who, so it was said and written, had been able to summon wind or rain or fracture the skies with conjured lightning. In their own words or those of their disciples, a few Dark Lords claimed to have had the ability to fly, become invisible, or transport themselves through space and time.

Darth Plagueis

Book of the Sith

Tenebrous continued to grow in power for more than a century after his apprenticeship had ended.

More than a century before, when Tenebrous had been but a Sith apprentice himself, the magnificent computational power of his Bith brain had led him far beyond the simplistic Force studies imposed on him by his Master.

[...]

He had exterminated his doddering Master with his customary efficiency, and had embarked immediately on a decades-spanning quest for an apprentice of his own.

The Tenebrous Way

Plagueis weathered the gentle rebuke. He had been apprenticed to Tenebrous for as many years as the average human might live, and still Tenebrous never failed to find fault when he could.

[…]

Plagueis rocked his head. "Governments rise and fall."

"You have a better idea of how to govern the galaxy?"

Plagueis allowed a laugh. "I'm just an old Muun who wouldn't know about that."

Seeing through him, Palpatine snorted. "Just how old are you?"

"In human years I would be well over one hundred."

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous barely trained his apprentice, indicating his own command of the Force was far superior to Darth Plagueis’ at the time of his death.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another.

[...]

Hmm - perhaps he should have invested some time in actually training the foolish Muun.

The Tenebrous Way

This is supported by Tenebrous viewing Plagueis’ power in the Force as pitiful compared to his own at the time of his death.

Tenebrous was by far the most powerful Force-user whose death Plagueis had the opportunity to observe, and he had known all along that his apprentice would apply all his physical, mental, and Force capabilities - pitiful as they might be - to witness each slightest detail.

The Tenebrous Way

Note: Plagueis at this point was capable of causing global weather and tectonic phenomena on Naboo with his personal power in the Force.

Later it would be said by Naboo and Gungan alike that they couldn’t recall a colder winter than the one that followed Hego Damask’s autumnal visit to their world. The rivers and even the falls below Theed froze; the rolling plains and tall forests were blanketed three meters deep with snow; plasmic quakes rocked the Gallo Mountains and the Lake Country, the Holy Places and the undersea city of Otoh Gunga; and many of the egresses of the underwaterways that hollowed the planet were blocked by ice floes.

Darth Plagueis

One could, of course, merely dismiss this as an example of the pathetic fallacy - that is when a story element is personified or its emotional underpinnings reflected in nature - exemplifying the first meeting of the two most powerful Dark Lords in galactic history, but that is simply not logical. Rivers and waterfalls do not simply freeze on their own on a mediterranean planet, nor does one naturally encounter three-meter-deep snow in such a temperate environment, and especially planet cores do not refrigerate randomly.

Naboo's surface consists of swampy lakes, rolling plains and green hills.

[...]

Climate: Temperate

[…]

Terrain: Hills, Plains, Swamps, Urban

Databank (2008): Naboo

The planet is a world of peculiar geology. It lacks a molten core, instead processing a honeycombed interior surging with luminous local plasma. Wide, shallow seas (the domain of sando aqua monsters and other giants) and soggy swamps separate flat plains of nola grass and scattered points of elevation, including the Gallo Mountains.

The Essential Atlas

Plagueis was the cause - it is the only logical explanation for such anomalous weather and geographical events. The snow and the frost would most likely be the result of planetary cryokinesis, and the earthquakes that shook the planet underwater, over land and caused the mountains themselves to tremble could be telekinetic in origin. Thus, the feat does also reflect on Plagueis’ gargantuan levels of magnitude with telekinesis and is an indicator of Tenebrous’ power as well.

Tenebrous was by far the most powerful being whose death Plagueis had the privilege of observing.

Tenebrous was by far the most powerful Force-user whose death Plagueis had the opportunity to observe, and he had known all along that his apprentice would apply all his physical, mental, and Force capabilities - pitiful as they might be - to witness each slightest detail.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous possessed virtually unlimited willpower, which was noted to be the key to Force power by both his apprentice Plagueis, and by Darth Wyyrlok III in the future.

Were Tenebrous the sort of individual who could experience pity, he supposed he might feel some for his apprentice. Crippled by dread, Plagueis would never know the freedom of an unbounded will that was the true legacy of the Banite Sith.

The Tenebrous Way

But there was an alternative path to those abilities, and it led from a place where the circle closed on itself and sheer will substituted for selflessness. Plagueis understood, too, that there were no powers beyond his reach; none he couldn’t master through an effort of will.

Darth Plagueis

Darth Wyyrlok believes that it is willpower that gives the Sith their strength. By sheer force of will, a Sith can achieve almost anything, and Darth Wyyrlok displays this in everything he does.

Legacy Era Campaign Guide

Legacy 27: Into the Core

Tenebrous defies the will of the Force with his act of manipulating midi-chlorians, preventing them from being subsumed into the Cosmic Force after death, and severing them from the Force’s sovereignty entirely.

Amidst the billions upon billions of individual midi-chlorian deaths in Tenebrous' cells were a tiny fraction of midi-chlorians that were not dying.

That would not die so long as they inhabited a living host. These especially tenacious midi-chlorians - Tenebrous had privately labeled them with the jesting sobriquet maxi-chlorians - had been altered. Improved. It would not be an overstatement, in Tenebrous' opinion, to use the word perfected. These maxi-chlorians would indeed migrate, but not into the Force.

They would migrate into Plagueis.

To detect this infinitesimal percentage would require the precision of a Bith; it was far beyond his apprentice's limited perceptions - and indeed, Tenebrous had gone to considerable trouble to ensure it would always remain so.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another. In turn, Tenebrous had invested every available second of the freedom this afforded into designing, creating, and deploying the one weapon that Plagueis would never suspect.

Could never suspect. His own prejudices about the Force ensured Plagueis wouldn't believe such a thing was possible.

Tenebrous created a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians were, after all, merely symbiotic organelles that contribute to the organic processes of the living cells they inhabit. Due to their role in Force interactions, altering them was singularly challenging - they had an unsettling tendency to spontaneously express unexpected and unfortunate side effects - but by applying the full analytic prowess of his vast Bith brain and the preternatural power of his Bith senses to detect and resolve sub-microscopic structure, he eventually succeeded in creating a retrovirus that would transform normal midi-chlorians into long-lived maxi-chlorians.

The Tenebrous Way

Note: To successfully manipulate midi-chlorians for them to do the user’s bidding, one must have enough will and strength in the Force to override the Force’s control of them and replace it with one’s own. Midi-chlorians are the Force’s “proxy army”; they execute the Force’s will and allow the Force to be sensed and used by mortals, in addition to being the basis for the Living Force and life in the galaxy. Thus, for Tenebrous to be able to manipulate them, he’d require the willpower to substitute the will of the Force, so that instead of executing the Force’s will, the midi-chlorians would instead execute Tenebrous’ will, and that is exactly what he did.

”The solution, therefore, is not to introduce new midi-chlorians but to impose one’s will on the midi-chlorians already present in the subject. This can be done through the energy of the pneuma. Just as a warrior in peak condition can lift a heavy weight, so can someone with a sharpened mental focus and an affinity for the Force achieve a measurable effect on living cells.

“I began with experiments on scurriers and other small creatures. I used my will, amplified through my body’s own midi-chlorians, to override the lesser concentrated midi-chlorian voices of the test subjects. This proved more challenging than I predicted. Because midi-chlorians are linked by a universal mind, the ones in my own cells seem to resist this imposition upon their fellows. But eventually I succeeded, first with small creatures, then with slaves purchased from the Hutts. I forced midi-chlorians to override their natural life cycles.”

Book of the Sith

--Darth Plagueis

A common misconception held that midi-chlorians were Force-carrying particles, when in fact they functioned more as translators, interlocutors of the will of the Force.

[...]

Only the Sith understood that sentient life was on the verge of a transformative leap; that through the manipulation of midi-chlorians—or the overthrow of the Forceful group that supervised them—the divide between organic life and the Force could be bridged, and death could be erased from the continuum.

[...]

“Yes,” Plagueis said pensively. “But I failed to exercise due caution. As we attempt to wrest the powers of life and death from the Force, as we seek to tip the balance, the Force resists our efforts. Action and reaction, Sidious. Something akin to the laws of thermodynamics. I have been audacious, and the Force has tested me the way Tenebrous sought to. Midi-chlorians are not easily persuaded to execute the dictates of one newly initiated in the mysteries. The Force needs to be won over, especially in work that involves the dark side. It must be reassured that a Sith is capable of accepting authority. Otherwise it will thwart one’s intentions. It will engineer misfortune. It will strike back.”

Darth Plagueis

Note: Darth Plagueis was unable to achieve the same effect, describing the merging of midi-chlorians with the Cosmic Force at the moment of death as "inexorable." He then likened trying to prevent this to "using a sponge to dam a raging river."

The dispersal of midi-chlorians at the moment of physical death was, for lack of a better term, inexorable. Analogous to his fated confrontation with the Woebegone crew, the moment of death appeared to be somehow fixed in space and time. According to his Sith education, since Captain Lah and the others had been in some sense dead from the moment Plagueis’s gaze had alighted on the freighter, it followed that the midi-chlorians that resided in alleged symbiosis with them must have been preparing to be subsumed into the reservoir of life energy that was the Force long before Plagueis had stowed away. His attempts to save them—to prolong that state of symbiosis—were comparable to using a sponge to dam a raging river.

Darth Plagueis

Decades later, Plagueis was still unable to achieve what Tenebrous did, and only after unbalancing the Force on a galactic scale with the aid of Sidious and being amped voraciously as a result, did he manage to keep Venamis' midi-chlorians trapped in the physical world, stealing them from the Force's sovereignty and become their new master, like Tenebrous had done.

The question of whether he and Sidious had discovered something new or rediscovered something ancient was beside the point. All that mattered was that, almost a decade earlier, they had succeeded in willing the Force to shift and tip irrevocably to the dark side. Not a mere paradigm shift, but a tangible alteration that could be felt by anyone strong in the Force, and whether or not trained in the Sith or Jedi arts.

The shift had been the outcome of months of intense meditation, during which Plagueis and Sidious had sought to challenge the Force for sovereignty and suffuse the galaxy with the power of the dark side. Brazen and shameless, and at their own mortal peril, they had waged etheric war, anticipating that their own midi-chlorians, the Force's proxy army, might marshal to boil their blood or stop the beating of their hearts. Risen out of themselves, discorporate and as a single entity, they had brought the power of their will to bear, asserting their sovereignty over the Force. No counterforce had risen against them. In what amounted to a state of rapture they knew that the Force had yielded, as if some deity had been tipped from its throne. On the fulcrum they had fashioned, the light side had dipped and the dark side had ascended.

On the same day they had allowed Venamis to die.

Then, by manipulating the Bith's midi-chlorians, which should have been inert and unresponsive, Plagueis had resurrected him. The enormity of the event had stunned Sidious into silence and overwhelmed and addled 11-4D's processors, but Plagueis had carried on without assistance, again and again allowing Venamis to die and be returned to life, until the Bith's organs had given out and Plagueis had finally granted him everlasting death.

But having gained the power to keep another alive hadn't been enough for him. And so after Sidious had returned to Coruscant, he had devoted himself to internalizing that ability, by manipulating the midi-chlorians that animated him. For several months he made no progress, but ultimately he began to perceive a measured change. The scars that had grown over his wounds had abruptly begun to soften and fade, and he had begun to breathe more freely than he had in twenty years. He began to sense that not only were his damaged tissues healing, but his entire body was rejuvinating itself. Beneath the transpirator, areas of his skin were smooth and youthful, and he knew that eventually he would cease to age altogether.

Darth Plagueis

Given how what Tenebrous did was only gained by Plagueis after such a major boost in power, it would indicate Tenebrous was vastly more powerful than Plagueis up until that point. In fact, it could be argued that since Sidious and Plagueis are able to merge into a "discorporate and [...] single entity" that even their combined power wasn't enough to manipulate midi-chlorians, as they had to unbalance the Force first before Plagueis was able to resurrect Venamis. By this logic, Tenebrous would then be able to replicate the unbalancing feat and suffuse the galaxy with the dark side on his own.

Tenebrous’ connection to and power in the Force multiplies to a level he hadn’t previously believed possible upon shedding his corporeal form.

Now, dead at last, he could begin to enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labor. In the Force, he could feel that his body had already suffered irreversible brain-death, yet his consciousness remained, fully aware, fully functional, and connected to the Force in a manner more intimate than he had ever believed possible. Freed now of the crude biological processes that mark the passage of time, Tenebrous found he could perceive the measured tick of each individual nanosecond while simultaneously comprehending the entire sweep of galactic eons.

[...]

With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell.

The Tenebrous Way

Known Force Powers

Force Sense

Tenebrous sensed his death at Plagueis’ hands before they came to Bal’demnic.

Plagueis grasped that a powerful explosion was perhaps imminent, but was mystified by his Master's almost mad dash for the surface. In the past Tenebrous had rarely evinced signs of discomfort, let alone fear; so what danger had he sensed that propelled him with such abandon? And when, in the past, had they fled danger of any sort? Safeguarded by the powers of the dark side, the Sith could hardly fear death when they were allied to it. Plagueis stretched out with his feelings in an attempt to identify the source of Tenebrous's dread, but the Force was silent.

[...]

And in that instant Plagueis perceived the danger Tenebrous had foreseen earlier: his death.

His death at Plagueis's hands.

[...]

Plagueis pried the Bith's thin hand from the fabric and grinned faintly. "Yes, Master, your death comes at my bidding. You said yourself that perpetuation with purpose is the way to victory, and so it is. Go to your grave knowing that you are last of the old order, the vaunted Rule of Two, and that the new order begins now and will for a thousand years remain in my control."

Tenebrous coughed spittle and blood. "Then for the last time, I call you apprentice. And I applaud your skillful use of surprise and misdirection. Perhaps I was wrong to think you had no stomach for it."

"The dark side guided me, Tenebrous. You sensed it, but your lack of faith in me clouded your thoughts."

The Bith's head bobbed in agreement. "Even before we came to Bal'demnic."

"And yet we came."

"Because we were fated to."

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous can magnify his night vision with the Force.

He was only slightly more agile than the Bith, but he had better night vision and a keener sense of direction, over and above what the Force imparted.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous can perceive each of his midi-chlorians individually.

His Force-perception was even more acute than the magnifying powers of his enormous eyes; in the Force, he could feel each individual midi-chlorian wink out in turn, a spreading wave of darkness, like stars eclipsed by the silhouette of an approaching ship.

The Tenebrous Way

Note: There are billions upon billions of midi-chlorians in Tenebrous' body.

Amidst the billions upon billions of individual midi-chlorian deaths in Tenebrous' cells were a tiny fraction of midi-chlorians that were not dying.

The Tenebrous Way

Note: It took Plagueis years of experimentation and meditation to be able to perceive the actions of midi-chlorians.

Through years of experimentation and directed meditation, Plagueis had honed an ability to perceive the actions of midi-chlorians, though not yet the ability to manipulate them.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous senses Plagueis perceiving his midi-chlorians through the Force.

And now his impossibly refined perceptions detected the brush of Plagueis' mind, as the apprentice probed the vanishing midi-chlorians of his dying master with his own use of the Force, as Tenebrous had known he would. Tenebrous had spent decades making sure that Plagueis would be unable to resist doing exactly that.

The Tenebrous Way

Upon his physical senses disappearing, he finds his Force perceptions heightened and can observe Plagueis with even greater clarity than before.

Now that his body's physical senses had altogether perished, Tenebrous found his perception of the Force to be proportionately heightened. With glorious precision, he could trace the slightest wisp of Plagueis' clumsy Force-probing as his apprentice sought to record and analyze every detail of Tenebrous's death. He could feel Plagueis himself: crouched nearby, his eyes closed, the long spiderish fingers of one hand stretched forth as though to snatch Tenebrous' disappearing midi-chlorians from mid-air.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous views Plagueis’ Force sense as clumsy in comparison to his own.

With glorious precision, he could trace the slightest wisp of Plagueis' clumsy Force-probing as his apprentice sought to record and analyze every detail of Tenebrous's death.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous feels his body has suffered brain death, and can comprehend individual nanoseconds and entire galactic eons.

Now, dead at last, he could begin to enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labor. In the Force, he could feel that his body had already suffered irreversible brain-death, yet his consciousness remained, fully aware, fully functional, and connected to the Force in a manner more intimate than he had ever believed possible. Freed now of the crude biological processes that mark the passage of time, Tenebrous found he could perceive the measured tick of each individual nanosecond while simultaneously comprehending the entire sweep of galactic eons.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous gains access to Plagueis’ Force senses and can literally feel all that his apprentice feels.

Driven by the dark side-powered will of the Sith Master, the retrovirus propagated with incredible speed. As it carried his consciousness throughout his apprentice's body, Tenebrous found himself becoming pleasurably aware the he was gaining access to Plagueis' sensorium. He could literally feel what Plagueis felt, both the coldly clinical satisfaction at having successfully engineered Tenebrous' murder.... and the Force-perception that let Plagueis monitor the last vanishing remnants of Tenebrous' uninfected midi-chlorians.

Full access to his apprentice's Force-perceptions! Delightful. Better than Tenebrous had allowed himself to hope.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous senses Plagueis’ connection to the Force is more profound that he had originally believed.

Hmm - perhaps he should have invested some time in actually training the foolish Muun. Tapping Plagueis' Force powers would be more entertaining if they weren't so stunted from disuse. And yet....

As he continued to explore, Tenebrous gradually became aware of the full range of his apprentice's connection to the Force, which was considerably deeper, broader, and more powerful than Tenebrous had ever suspected. He reflected, with a twinge of uncomfortable premonition, that perhaps Plagueis had been right when he contended that Tenebrous had always underestimated him.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous foresees Plagueis’ demise at Sidious’ hands.

Now Tenebrous touched upon his apprentice's powers of foresight, which were also vastly more developed than Tenebrous had believed. For a moment. Tenebrous found his perception cast far forward in time-to Plagueis' own death at the hands of his apprentice, who was himself visible only as a smear of darkness....

A shadow!

For an instant, Tenebrous felt the death anguish of Plagueis.... and felt the searing agony Plagueis felt.... at his failure to have ever created the Force-user Tenebrous was to become! He would allow his own apprentice to kill him too soon....

This could not be. It could not be contemplated, much less allowed to come to pass. Fury competed with panic as Tenebrous threw his mind at the future, seeking to understand how it was Plagueis could be so complacent, so foolish....

So blind.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous senses his remains.

The only trace of organic life Tenebrous could sense were some ancient mummified remains....

Of a Bith.

How long had he been here? How long would it take for every trace of Plagueis to vanish? Those remains were years old - decades, perhaps centuries old.

The Tenebrous Way

Telekinesis

Tenebrous holds the weight of numerous rock slabs and stalactites alongside Plagueis. More and more layers of stone continue to peel off an fall, yet Tenebrous holds them all until Plagueis double-crosses and murders him.

A few meters away Plagueis, hurled face-first to the ground by the intensity of the vaporizing blast, lifted his head in time to see the underside of the domed ceiling begin to shed enormous slabs of rock. Directly below the plummeting slabs sat their starship.

"Master!" he said, scrambling to his feet with arms lifted in an attempt to hold the rocks in midair.

His own arms still raised in a Force-summoning posture, Tenebrous swung around to bolster Plagueis's intent. Behind him, the fireball's final flames surged from the mouth of the tunnel to lick his back and drive him deeper into the grotto.

The cave continued to spasm underfoot, sending shock waves through the crazed ceiling. Cracks spread like a web from the oculus, triggering collapses throughout the grotto. Plagueis heard a rending sound overhead and watched a fissure zigzag its way across the ceiling, sloughing layer after layer of stone as it followed the grotto's curved wall.

Now, though, it was Tenebrous who was positioned beneath the fall.

And in that instant Plagueis perceived the danger Tenebrous had foreseen earlier: his death.

His death at Plagueis's hands.

While Tenebrous was preoccupied holding aloft the slabs that threatened to crush the ship, Plagueis quickly reoriented himself, aiming his raised hands at the plummeting slabs above his Master and, with a downward motion of both arms, brought them down so quickly and with so much momentum that Tenebrous was buried almost before he understood what had hit him.

Darth Plagueis

Note: The caverns they were in were the size of cathedrals.

Closer to the surface the tunnels opened into caverns the size of cathedrals, smoothed and hollowed by rainwater that still surged in certain seasons of Bal'demnic's long year.

Darth Plagueis

Telepathy

Tenebrous shields his thoughts and emotions from Plagueis:

Nearly knocked over by the swiftness of Tenebrous's departure, Plagueis had to call deeply on the Force merely to keep up. Retracing the inclined path they had taken from the grotto in which their starship waited, they fairly flew up the crystal-studded tunnel they had picked their way through earlier. Plagueis grasped that a powerful explosion was perhaps imminent, but was mystified by his Master's almost mad dash for the surface. In the past Tenebrous had rarely evinced signs of discomfort, let alone fear; so what danger had he sensed that propelled him with such abandon? And when, in the past, had they fled danger of any sort? Safeguarded by the powers of the dark side, the Sith could hardly fear death when they were allied to it. Plagueis stretched out with his feelings in an attempt to identify the source of Tenebrous's dread, but the Force was silent.

Darth Plagueis

Force lightning

Tenebrous shoots lightning bolts down a borehole, with the lightning being active long after he harnessed his power.

Hastening to the rim of the circular shaft, the two Sith removed their gloves and aimed their long-fingered unprotected hands into the inky darkness. Instantly tangles of blue electrical energy discharged from their fingertips, raining into the borehole. Strobing and clawing for the bottom, the vigorous bolts coruscated into the lateral corridor the probe had excavated. Crackling sounds spewed from the opening long after the Sith had harnessed their powers.

Darth Plagueis

Force barrier

Tenebrous contains a gas explosion powerful enough to shake caverns the size of cathedrals and knock Plagueis to the ground. He then endures the final flames with a passive barrier while simultaneously holding enormous slabs of rock in place with telekinesis.

Closer to the surface the tunnels opened into caverns the size of cathedrals, smoothed and hollowed by rainwater that still surged in certain seasons of Bal'demnic's long year. In pools of standing water darted various species of blind fish. Overhead, hawk-bats took panicked flight from their roosting places in the stippled ceiling. Natural light in the far distance prompted the two Sith to race for the grotto; but, even so, they were a moment late.

The gas explosion caught up with them just as they were entering the light-filled cavity at the top of the escarpment. From deep in the tunnel resounded a squealing electronic wail, and at the same time, almost as if the cave system were gasping for breath, a searing wind tore down from a perforation in the grotto's arched ceiling through which the ship had entered. A muffled but ground-heaving detonation followed; then a roiling fireball that was the labyrinth's scorching exhalation. Whirling to the tunnel they had just exited and managing somehow to remain on his feet, Tenebrous conjured a Force shield with his waving arms that met the fireball and contained it, thousands of flaming hawk-bats spiraling within the tumult like windblown embers.

A few meters away Plagueis, hurled face-first to the ground by the intensity of the vaporizing blast, lifted his head in time to see the underside of the domed ceiling begin to shed enormous slabs of rock. Directly below the plummeting slabs sat their starship.

"Master!" he said, scrambling to his feet with arms lifted in an attempt to hold the rocks in midair.

His own arms still raised in a Force-summoning posture, Tenebrous swung around to bolster Plagueis's intent. Behind him, the fireball's final flames surged from the mouth of the tunnel to lick his back and drive him deeper into the grotto.

Darth Plagueis

Crucitorn

Tenebrous is immune to the pain caused by a pierced lung and shattered bones.

His hands pawed at the stones, removing some of the crushing weight. But Tenebrous's single lung was pierced, and blood gurgled in his throat. Ragged tears in the sleeves of the envirosuit revealed esoteric body markings and tattoos.

Darth Plagueis

So, even as he lay gasping around the icy barbs that pierced his lung, Tenebrous smiled. Even with the jerking and convulsing in his body's last reflexive rebellion against the fall of eternal night, even as organ systems shut down one by one to maintain the last shreds of light and life within the vast intricacies of his brain - massive beyond even those of other Biths, a people justly legendary for their intellectual prowess - Tenebrous found himself particularly enjoying the incremental disappearance of his own midi-chlorians.

[...]

His vision dimmed. His hearing became a rush of wind like static on an electrovoder - and then silence. The sole sensation registered by his quivering flesh was the rip of shattered bone and slow suffocation choking his consciousness, as his shredded lung could supply only a fraction of the oxygen required by his massive brain.

It hardly mattered. Shielded from suffering by his command of the Force, Tenebrous observed the death agony of his physical form with appropriately Bithan dispassion.

The Tenebrous Way

Sith Alchemy

Tenebrous used Alchemy to generate new neurons in his brain, increasing his intellect.

Soon he had confirmed to his own satisfaction that the dark side of the Force, far from being some malevolent mystic sentience bent on spreading suffering throughout the galaxy, was in truth merely an energy source, and a tool with which he could impose his will upon reality. It was a sort of natural amplifier he could use to multiply the effectiveness of his many useful abilities.

None of which was more useful than his matchless intellect.

The Tenebrous Way

In case anyone doubts this is Sith Alchemy, it has been used elsewhere by far lesser Force users than Tenebrous to create intelligent entities too.

Legend says that Adepts of the Dark Side have even succeeded in spawning living monstrosities - beasts and intelligent entities, some unspeakably ugly, some full of malevolent charm and symmetry, all utterly permeated by the power of the dark side.

Dark Empire Endnotes

Essence Transfer/Incorporeal Existence

Tenebrous remarks that his own consciousness is his most potent weapon.

With the patient, painstaking attention to the slightest, most insignificant detail that was his hallmark, Tenebrous had encoded his custom retrovirus with his most potent weapon: his own consciousness.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous would have possessed Anakin Skywalker, had he been given the chance.

And - by the application of his own suitably subtle variation of the ancient Sith brute-force essence transfer - Tenebrous could ensure that his own consciousness would be present at the creation of this being, this savior, this Chosen One. And, at the moment of creation - long before the Chosen One could hope to resist - Tenebrous would seize it. Would become it.

With this single stroke, decades after his body's death, he would become the most powerful Force-user in the history of the galaxy.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous imprinted his own consciousness into his maxi-chlorians.

Tenebrous created a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians were, after all, merely symbiotic organelles that contribute to the organic processes of the living cells they inhabit. Due to their role in Force interactions, altering them was singularly challenging - they had an unsettling tendency to spontaneously express unexpected and unfortunate side effects - but by applying the full analytic prowess of his vast Bith brain and the preternatural power of his Bith senses to detect and resolve sub-microscopic structure, he eventually succeeded in creating a retrovirus that would transform normal midi-chlorians into long-lived maxi-chlorians.

But that was only the beginning.

With the patient, painstaking attention to the slightest, most insignificant detail that was his hallmark, Tenebrous had encoded his custom retrovirus with his most potent weapon: his own consciousness.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous is freed of the biological restrictions that mark the passage of time upon shedding his corporeal form, multiplying his connection to and power in the Force to levels beyond what he previously believed possible, and enabling him to simultaneously count individual nanoseconds while comprehending the sweep of entire galactic eons.

Now, dead at last, he could begin to enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labor. In the Force, he could feel that his body had already suffered irreversible brain-death, yet his consciousness remained, fully aware, fully functional, and connected to the Force in a manner more intimate than he had ever believed possible. Freed now of the crude biological processes that mark the passage of time, Tenebrous found he could perceive the measured tick of each individual nanosecond while simultaneously comprehending the entire sweep of galactic eons.

[...]

With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous invades’ Plagueis’ being, gaining access to his Force perceptions.

Beside Tenebrous' corpse, as Plagueis carefully observed the vanishing of Tenebrous' midi-chlorians, maxi-chlorians were being subtly and invisibly carried across the intervening space to settle in Plagueis' eyes and mouth, on his skin and into an open wound on his back, where they entered the apprentice's bloodstream and slipped into his cells, releasing their viral cargo of Tenebrous' mind.

Perfect. And what made it even more perfect was that his apprentice would never comprehend the ironic pun of the name Tenebrous had given him: Plagueis.

The diseased one.

Driven by the dark side-powered will of the Sith Master, the retrovirus propagated with incredible speed. As it carried his consciousness throughout his apprentice's body, Tenebrous found himself becoming pleasurably aware the he was gaining access to Plagueis' sensorium. He could literally feel what Plagueis felt, both the coldly clinical satisfaction at having successfully engineered Tenebrous' murder.... and the Force-perception that let Plagueis monitor the last vanishing remnants of Tenebrous' uninfected midi-chlorians.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous takes his consciousness out of Plagueis’ body.

Now wholly giving himself over to panic, Tenebrous turned his will upon undoing the damage he had done. With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell.

The Tenebrous Way

Midi-chlorian manipulation

Tenebrous and his Master spent years developing a virus that would cut the Jedi off from the Force, although it ended in failure.

But his apprentice carried the imperative forward, and each successive Sith Lord improved on it, Tenebrous and his Master most of all, though they wasted years attempting to create a targeted virus that could be deployed against the Jedi, separating them from the Force.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous, decades later however, succeeded on his own, creating a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians into maxi-chlorians. These maxi-chlorians would not merge into the Force upon death, and severed Tenebrous’ connection to the Force. This suggests Tenebrous had surpassed the combined power and mastery of his Master and his apprentice self.

As though midi-chlorians somehow embodied the principle of life itself, they vanished as life fled. Plagueis had more than once speculated that they somehow migrated from dying cells and returned to rejoin the Force from which they had sprung - more evidence of the apprentice's muddy thinking and pathetically romanticized mysticism, but no matter. The delusion of the student had proven an inspiration to the teacher, and the concept of midi-chlorian migration - flawed though it was - became the key to Tenebrous’ master stroke.

Amidst the billions upon billions of individual midi-chlorian deaths in Tenebrous' cells were a tiny fraction of midi-chlorians that were not dying.

That would not die so long as they inhabited a living host. These especially tenacious midi-chlorians - Tenebrous had privately labeled them with the jesting sobriquet maxi-chlorians - had been altered. Improved. It would not be an overstatement, in Tenebrous' opinion, to use the word perfected. These maxi-chlorians would indeed migrate, but not into the Force.

They would migrate into Plagueis.

To detect this infinitesimal percentage would require the precision of a Bith; it was far beyond his apprentice's limited perceptions - and indeed, Tenebrous had gone to considerable trouble to ensure it would always remain so.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another. In turn, Tenebrous had invested every available second of the freedom this afforded into designing, creating, and deploying the one weapon that Plagueis would never suspect.

Could never suspect. His own prejudices about the Force ensured Plagueis wouldn't believe such a thing was possible.

Tenebrous created a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians were, after all, merely symbiotic organelles that contribute to the organic processes of the living cells they inhabit. Due to their role in Force interactions, altering them was singularly challenging - they had an unsettling tendency to spontaneously express unexpected and unfortunate side effects - but by applying the full analytic prowess of his vast Bith brain and the preternatural power of his Bith senses to detect and resolve sub-microscopic structure, he eventually succeeded in creating a retrovirus that would transform normal midi-chlorians into long-lived maxi-chlorians.

But that was only the beginning.

With the patient, painstaking attention to the slightest, most insignificant detail that was his hallmark, Tenebrous had encoded his custom retrovirus with his most potent weapon: his own consciousness.

Once completed, Tenebrous had released the virus into his own bloodstream. It had spread throughout his body, infecting midi-chlorians in every one of his cells with gratifying alacrity. Not all his midi-chlorians, though, as the infected maxi-chlorians no longer fully functioned; to infect them all would have cut off his own connection to the Force. A partial severance of this connection was a necessary sacrifice, however, and through an extended process of trial and error, he was able to fine-tune the effect and confine it to the one sector of his Force powers he no longer needed - his ability to sense the motion of the future.

Of what possible use was the ability to see a future he already knew?

The Tenebrous Way

The same retrovirus, driven by Tenebrous’ will, infected Plagueis and hampered his ability to detect the future.

Beside Tenebrous' corpse, as Plagueis carefully observed the vanishing of Tenebrous' midi-chlorians, maxi-chlorians were being subtly and invisibly carried across the intervening space to settle in Plagueis' eyes and mouth, on his skin and into an open wound on his back, where they entered the apprentice's bloodstream and slipped into his cells, releasing their viral cargo of Tenebrous' mind.

Perfect. And what made it even more perfect was that his apprentice would never comprehend the ironic pun of the name Tenebrous had given him: Plagueis.

The diseased one.

Driven by the dark side-powered will of the Sith Master, the retrovirus propagated with incredible speed. As it carried his consciousness throughout his apprentice's body, Tenebrous found himself becoming pleasurably aware the he was gaining access to Plagueis' sensorium. He could literally feel what Plagueis felt, both the coldly clinical satisfaction at having successfully engineered Tenebrous' murder.... and the Force-perception that let Plagueis monitor the last vanishing remnants of Tenebrous' uninfected midi-chlorians.

Full access to his apprentice's Force-perceptions! Delightful. Better than Tenebrous had allowed himself to hope. Hmm - perhaps he should have invested some time in actually training the foolish Muun. Tapping Plagueis' Force powers would be more entertaining if they weren't so stunted from disuse. And yet....

As he continued to explore, Tenebrous gradually became aware of the full range of his apprentice's connection to the Force, which was considerably deeper, broader, and more powerful than Tenebrous had ever suspected. He reflected, with a twinge of uncomfortable premonition, that perhaps Plagueis had been right when he contended that Tenebrous had always underestimated him.

Now Tenebrous touched upon his apprentice's powers of foresight, which were also vastly more developed than Tenebrous had believed. For a moment. Tenebrous found his perception cast far forward in time-to Plagueis' own death at the hands of his apprentice, who was himself visible only as a smear of darkness....

A shadow!

For an instant, Tenebrous felt the death anguish of Plagueis.... and felt the searing agony Plagueis felt.... at his failure to have ever created the Force-user Tenebrous was to become! He would allow his own apprentice to kill him too soon....

This could not be. It could not be contemplated, much less allowed to come to pass. Fury competed with panic as Tenebrous threw his mind at the future, seeking to understand how it was Plagueis could be so complacent, so foolish....

So blind.

The searing truth was driven home by the gathering darkness that clouded his borrowed foresight. Soon all he could see of the future was a hazy smear of shadow.... as the retrovirus he had become infected Plagueis' every cell. The retrovirus he had allowed to sacrifice his ability to gaze forward in time.... and had thus robbed his apprentice of his power to sense the future.

The Tenebrous Way

The retrovirus then mutated on its own, warping space-time to trap Tenebrous in a time loop of endlessly reliving his death.

The searing truth was driven home by the gathering darkness that clouded his borrowed foresight. Soon all he could see of the future was a hazy smear of shadow.... as the retrovirus he had become infected Plagueis' every cell. The retrovirus he had allowed to sacrifice his ability to gaze forward in time.... and had thus robbed his apprentice of his power to sense the future.

Which would seal his own doom as well.

His single-minded pursuit of eternal life and supreme power had accomplished only this. He would be destroyed by his own triumph.

Now wholly giving himself over to panic, Tenebrous turned his will upon undoing the damage he had done. With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell. He had to think - he had to find a way out - or perhaps he didn't. Perhaps there wasn’t one.

Perhaps the best he could hope for was the slow, inevitable extinction of his consciousness as his maxi-chlorians too faded and winked out. Then, at least, he would no longer have to squirm in the agony of his self-inflicted defeat....

If his maxi-chlorians were going to fade.

Because it dawned on him that he wasn't sure exactly how long the process should take, but he certainly didn't seem to be losing consciousness. He reached out with the Force - perhaps he could sense something. Anything. Or even contact Plagueis, somehow make his presence known, as his apprentice would never allow him to survive, no matter how reduced his powers might be....

But Plagueis wasn't here. Not only had Plagueis somehow vanished, Tenebrous could sense no trace of him ever having been here at all.... what was happening? How could this be?

The only trace of organic life Tenebrous could sense were some ancient mummified remains....

Of a Bith.

How long had he been here? How long would it take for every trace of Plagueis to vanish? Those remains were years old - decades, perhaps centuries old.

Tenebrous wondered, with dawning horror, if his retrovirus might have somehow mutated, if its effects on the maxi-chlorians might go somehow deeper than excision of foresight?

What if his eternal life would be.... this?

Or worse: what if his foresight hadn't been eliminated, but had been somehow twisted in upon itself? What if his remains were ancient because this was the thousandth time he had relived his death and the shattering revelation of his life-long self-deception.... what if this was the millionth time he'd relived it?

The billionth?

Then he knew, and at that moment he wished he still had a mouth, because he really, really needed to scream.

Dying, Tenebrous observed with mild surprise, was turning out to be not only pleasant, but wholly wonderful; had he ever suspected how much he'd enjoy the process, he wouldn't have wasted all these decades waiting for his foolish apprentice Plagueis to do him in....

The Tenebrous Way

Physical and Martial Capabilities

The Banite Sith had been honing their skills for centuries. Tenebrous, as a member of the lineage, would have thus been more skilled than his predecessors with a blade.

"A Sith apprentice must grow in strength and skill until he or she can surpass the Master. Anything else is regression" - Darth Bane, Book of the Sith

"The Sith are fierce warriors who wield great power. They have been in hiding for centuries, honing their skills and biding their time." - Mysteries of the Jedi

Tenebrous has no need to use Force precognition due to being able to calculate the future with just his sheer brain power.

Like many Sith before him, he had turned his powers toward knowledge of the future. But unlike any Sith before him he had the enormous brain of his people, which combined sheer brute processing power with a level of analytic precision simply beyond the capacity of any other species. The future was always in motion, and while other Sith struggled to foresee the faintest, least specific hints of what was to come, Tenebrous had no need to see the future.

He could calculate it.

[...]

Once completed, Tenebrous had released the virus into his own bloodstream. It had spread throughout his body, infecting midi-chlorians in every one of his cells with gratifying alacrity. Not all his midi-chlorians, though, as the infected maxi-chlorians no longer fully functioned; to infect them all would have cut off his own connection to the Force. A partial severance of this connection was a necessary sacrifice, however, and through an extended process of trial and error, he was able to fine-tune the effect and confine it to the one sector of his Force powers he no longer needed - his ability to sense the motion of the future.

Of what possible use was the ability to see a future he already knew?

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous defeated his Master, a being vastly more powerful than the likes of Darth Bane or Darth Zannah, in single combat:

He had exterminated his doddering Master with his customary efficiency, and had embarked immediately on a decades-spanning quest for an apprentice of his own.

The Tenebrous Way

"How often you said that the old order of Bane had ended with the death of your Master. An apprentice no longer needs to be stronger, you told me, merely more clever. The era of keeping score, suspicion and betrayal was over. Strength lies not in the flesh but in the Force."

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Sidious

He sometimes wondered: Was he a level behind? Two levels behind? Such questions were precisely what had driven generations of Sith apprentices ultimately to challenge their Masters. The uncertainty about who was the more powerful. The need to test themselves, to face the definitive trial.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous defeated an army of Kursid warriors a thousand strong two times, first alongside his Master and then with his apprentice Plagueis.

The location of the planet known to the Sith as Kursid had been expunged from the Republic records in distant times, and for the past six hundred years had been reserved for use as a place of spectacle. Masters and apprentices of the Bane lineage had visited with enough regularity that a cult had come into being in that part of the world based on the periodic return of the sky visitors. The Sith hadn't bothered to investigate what Kursid's indigenous humanoids thought about the visits—whether in their belief systems the Sith were regarded as the equivalent of deities or demons—since it was unlikely that the primitives had yet so much as named their world. However, visiting as apprentice and—more often than not—as Master, each Sith Lord had remarked on the slow advancement of Kursid's civilization. How, on the early visits, the primitives had defended themselves with wooden war clubs and smooth rocks hurled from slings. Two hundred years later, many of the small settlements had grown to become cities or ceremonial centers built of a crude sort, and magical guardian symbols had been emblazoned on the sloping sides of defensive walls. At some point previous to Darth Tenebrous's visit as an apprentice, replicas of the Sith ships had been constructed in the center of the arid plateau that served as a battleground, and enormous totemic figures—visible only from above—had been outlined by removing tens of thousands of fists-sized volcanic stones that covered the ground. On Plagueis's first visit, some fifty years earlier, the warriors he and Tenebrous had faced had been armed with longbows and metal-tipped lances.

That the Sith had never demanded anything other than battle hadn't kept the primitives from attempting to adopt a policy of appeasement, leaving at the ships' perpetual landing site foodstuffs, sacrificial victims, and works of what they considered art, forged of materials they held precious or sacred. But the Sith had simply ignored the offerings, waiting instead on the stony plain for the primitives to deploy their warriors, as the primitives did now with Plagueis and Sidious waiting. Announcing their arrival with low runs over the city, they had set the ship down and waited for six days, while the mournful calls of breath-driven horns had disturbed the dry silences, and groups of primitives had flocked in to gather on the hillsides that overlooked the battleground.

"Do you recall what Darth Bane said regarding the killing of innocents?" Plagueis had asked.

"Our mission," Sidious paraphrased, "is not to bring death on all those unfit to live. All we do must serve our true purpose—the preservation of our Order and the survival of the Sith. We must work to grow our power, and to accomplish that we will need to interact with individuals of many species across many worlds. Eventually word of our existence will reach the ears of the Jedi."

To refrain from senseless killing, they wielded force pikes rather than lightsabers. Meter-long melee weapons used by the Echani and carried by the Senate Guard, the pikes were equipped with stun-module tips capable of delivering a shock that could overwhelm the nervous systems of most sentients, without causing permanent damage.

"The next few hours will test the limits of your agility, speed, and accuracy," Plagueis said, as several hundred of the biggest, bravest, and most skilled warriors—their bodies daubed in pigments derived from plants, clay, and soil—began to separate themselves from the crowds. "But this is more than some simple exercise in our rise to ultimate power, and therefore servants of the dark side of the Force. Centuries from now, advanced by the Sith, they might confront us with projectile weapons or energy beams. But then we will have evolved, as well, perhaps past the need for this rite, and we will come instead to honor rather than engage them in battle. Through power we gain victory, and through victory our chains are broken. But power is only a means to an end."

To the clamorous beating of drums and the wailing of the onlookers, the warriors brandished their weapons, raised a deafening war cry, and attacked. A nod from Plagueis, and the two Sith sped across the plain to meet them, flying among them like wraiths, evading arrows, gleaming spear tips, and blows from battle-axes, going one against one, two, or three, but felling opponent after opponent with taps from the force pikes, until among the hundreds of jerking, twitching bodies sprawled on the rough ground, only one was left standing. That was when Plagueis tossed aside the stun pike and ignited his crimson blade, and a collective lament rose from the crowds on the hillsides.

"Execute one, terrify one thousand," he said.

Hurling the warrior to the ground with a Force push, he used the lightsaber to deftly open the primitive's chest cavity; then he reached a hand inside and extracted his still beating heart.

Darth Plagueis

Even when over a century old, Tenebrous was in robust health, despite Bith’s not usually living past 85.

A Bith, Tenebrous was as tall as Plagueis and nearly as cadaverously thin. To human eyes, his bilious complexion might have made him appear as haggard as the pallid Muun, but in fact both beings were in robust health.

Darth Plagueis
Ultimate Alien Anthology
Ultimate Alien Anthology

Tenebrous never slept, indicating great stamina.

He chased sleep, but it eluded him, and he deplored the fact that he still had need for it. Tenebrous had never slept, but then few Bith did.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous was a lightsaber combat enthusiast, indicating he ascribed value to developing his dueling skills.

To Plagueis, lightsaber duels were tedious affairs, full of wasted emotion and needless acrobatics. Tenebrous, however, who had pronounced Plagueis a master of the art, had always enjoyed a good fight, and had clearly bequeathed that enthusiasm to his other trainee.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous barely trained his apprentice, indicating his lightsaber skill was far superior to Darth Plagueis’.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another.

[...]

Hmm - perhaps he should have invested some time in actually training the foolish Muun.

The Tenebrous Way

This is supported by Tenebrous viewing Plagueis’ physical capabilities as pitiful compared to his own at the time of his death.

Tenebrous was by far the most powerful Force-user whose death Plagueis had the opportunity to observe, and he had known all along that his apprentice would apply all his physical, mental, and Force capabilities - pitiful as they might be - to witness each slightest detail.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous views Plagueis’ physical and Force capabilities as pitiful in comparison to his own, indicating he eclipsed his apprentice in many areas of Force augmentation.

Tenebrous was by far the most powerful Force-user whose death Plagueis had the opportunity to observe, and he had known all along that his apprentice would apply all his physical, mental, and Force capabilities - pitiful as they might be - to witness each slightest detail.

The Tenebrous Way

Note: Plagueis at this point was capable of kicking a Zabrak so hard he flew across the cabin and had his spine snap, his pulmonary arteries burst and his chest cavity crushed.

The Muun caught the lightsaber, but instead of bringing it to bear against Maa Kaap, he danced and twirled out of reach of the vibroblade and commenced parrying the Zabrak's martial kicks and punches, a side-kick to the thorax drove Maa Kaap clear across the cabin and slamming into the bulkhead. OneOne-FourDee’s audio pickups registered the snap of the Zabrak’s spine and the bursting of pulmonary arteries.

[...]

He remained by the Quara’s side for a few moments, then moved quickly to Maa Kaap, from whose crushed chest cavity blood bubbled with each shallow breath.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous runs fast enough to knock Plagueis over, and the latter has to draw deeply on the Force to merely keep up.

Nearly knocked over by the swiftness of Tenebrous's departure, Plagueis had to call deeply on the Force merely to keep up.

Darth Plagueis

Note: Plagueis at this point was capable of moving faster than a droid who is fast enough to calculate and react to the trajectories of blaster bolts can perceive.

The face-off tableau in the cabinspace had endured for only a moment when Wandau, who had served as a bodyguard for a celebrated Hutt, leapt into action, drawing and firing his blaster even as he raced for cover behind one of the bulkheads. A split second behind, Maa Kaap raised his weapon and fired a continuous hail of blaster bolts at the Muun. In the same instant Zuto and PePe, crouched low to the deck, sprang forward in an attempt to outflank their opponent and place him at the center of a deadly crossfire.

From the passageway that led to the cockpit came the rapid footfalls of the pilot, Blir', and the ship's Dresselian navigator, Semasalli. 11-4D knew that they had been monitoring cam feeds of the cargo bay, and thought it likely that they had witnessed whatever sentence the Muun had levied on Captain Lah.

The Muun's reaction to the barrage of bolts that converged on him required almost more processing power than the droid had at its disposal. By employing a combination of body movements, lightsaber, and naked right hand, the agile sentient evaded, deflected, or returned every shot that targeted him. Slowly surrendering energy, the bolts caromed from the deck and bulkheads, touching off alarms, prompting a switch to emergency illumination, and unleashing cascades of fire-suppressant foam from the ceiling aerosols. No sooner had the Balosar and the Dresselian entered the cabinspace than hatches sealed the corridors, preventing any escape from the melee. Only 11-4D's ability to calculate trajectories and react instantaneously to danger kept it from being on the receiving end of any of the numerous ricochets.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous rivaled Plagueis in agility.

He was only slightly more agile than the Bith, but he had better night vision and a keener sense of direction, over and above what the Force imparted.

Darth Plagueis

Plagueis conceded Tenebrous would have been able to kill him had it come to personal combat.

His success in bringing the ceiling down on Tenebrous was proof enough that the Bith had grown sluggish and expendable. Otherwise, he would have divined the true source of the danger he had sensed, and Plagueis would be the one pressed to the floor of the grotto, head cracked open like an egg and chest cavity pierced by the pointed end of a fallen stalactite.

Darth Plagueis

Darth Venamis likewise concluded it impossible for someone of Plagueis’ caliber to defeat Tenebrous in battle.

“I knew I could draw you out, Darth Plagueis,” the Bith said.

Plagueis dropped all pretence and faced him squarely. “You’re well trained. I sensed the Force in you, but not the dark side.”

“I’ve Darth Tenebrous to thank for it.”

“He made you in his image. You’re a product of Bith science.”

The Bith laughed harshly. “You’re an old fool. He found and trained me.”

Plagueis recalled the warning Tenebrous had nearly given voice to before he died. “He took you as an apprentice?”

“I am Darth Venamis.”

“Darth?” Plagueis said with disgust. “We’ll see about that.”

“Your death will legitimize the title, Plagueis.”

Plagueis cocked his head to the side. “Your Master left orders for you to kill me?”

The Bith nodded. “Even now he awaits my return.”

“Awaits...” Plagueis said. As astonishing as it was to learn that Tenebrous had trained a second apprentice, he had a surprise in store for Venamis. Inhaling, he said, “Tenebrous is dead.”

Confusion showed in Venamis’s eyes. “You wish it were so.”

Plagueis held his lightsaber off to one side, parallel to the ground. “What’s more, he died by my hand.”

“Impossible.”

Darth Plagueis

Before anyone questions these claims, Tenebrous had planned his own death to occur and intentionally let Plagueis kill his physical body.

Dying, Tenebrous observed with mild surprise, was turning out to be not only pleasant, but wholly wonderful; had he ever suspected how much he'd enjoy the process, he wouldn't have wasted all these decades waiting for his foolish apprentice Plagueis to do him in.

So, even as he lay gasping around the icy barbs that pierced his lung, Tenebrous smiled. Even with the jerking and convulsing in his body's last reflexive rebellion against the fall of eternal night, even as organ systems shut down one by one to maintain the last shreds of light and life within the vast intricacies of his brain - massive beyond even those of other Biths, a people justly legendary for their intellectual prowess - Tenebrous found himself particularly enjoying the incremental disappearance of his own midi-chlorians.

His Force-perception was even more acute than the magnifying powers of his enormous eyes; in the Force, he could feel each individual midi-chlorian wink out in turn, a spreading wave of darkness, like stars eclipsed by the silhouette of an approaching ship.

Or falling through the event horizon of a black hole.

Ah, darkness. Darkness at last. The darkness he had dreamed of. The darkness he had planned for. The darkness that was his one true love. The darkness he had taken as his name.

Was he not Darth Tenebrous?

His vision dimmed. His hearing became a rush of wind like static on an electrovoder - and then silence. The sole sensation registered by his quivering flesh was the rip of shattered bone and slow suffocation choking his consciousness, as his shredded lung could supply only a fraction of the oxygen required by his massive brain.

It hardly mattered. Shielded from suffering by his command of the Force, Tenebrous observed the death agony of his physical form with appropriately Bithan dispassion. And now his impossibly refined perceptions detected the brush of Plaugueis' mind, as the apprentice probed the vanishing midi-chlorians of his dying master with his own use of the Force, as Tenebrous had known he would. Tenebrous had spent decades making sure that Plagueis would be unable to resist doing exactly that.

Everything was proceeding according to plan.

The Tenebrous Way

Tenebrous trained Venamis in multiple lightsaber forms - including Plagueis’ own - and how to seamlessly mix and match them ambidextrously mid-combat. Venamis then went on to give a serious challenge to Plagueis in lightsaber combat, indicating Tenebrous could accomplish the same.

Venamis charged.

To Plagueis, lightsaber duels were tedious affairs, full of wasted emotion and needless acrobatics. Tenebrous, however, who had pronounced Plagueis a master of the art, had always enjoyed a good fight, and had clearly bequeathed that enthusiasm to his other trainee. For no sooner had the blades of their weapons clashed than Venamis began to bring the fight to him in unexpected ways, twirling his surprisingly limber body, tossing the lightsaber from hand to hand, mixing forms. At one point he leapt onto an overhanging greel branch and, when Plagueis severed it with a Force blow, hung suspended in the air - no mean feat in itself - and continued the fight, as if from high ground. Worse for Plagueis, Tenebrous had made Venamis an expert in Plagueis's style, and so the Bith could not only anticipate but counter Plagueis's every move.

In short order, Venamis penetrated his defenses, searing the side of Plagueis's neck.

The contest took them backward and forward through the trees, across narrow streams, and up onto piles of rocks that were the ruins of an ancient sentry post. Plagueis took a moment to wonder if anyone at the fort was observing the results of the contest, which, from afar, must have looked like lightning flashing through the forest's understory.

Realizing that the fight could go on indefinitely, he took himself out of his body and began working his material self like a marionette, no longer on the offensive, instigating attacks, but merely responding to Venamis's lunges and strikes.

Darth Plagueis

Thank You For Reading!

May the darkness of Sheev be with you!
May the darkness of Sheev be with you!

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Valkorion Disrespect Thread

Welcome to the Valkorion Disrespect Thread, designed to mock and dishonor the failures and shortcomings of Tenebrae/Vitiate/Failkorion. The Shit Emperor has a long track record of humiliating failings, and I thought it would be a good idea to compile them all into a single thread, since there are so many.

So without further ado, enjoy the thread and...

Disrespect Failkorion

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Backstory

Failkorion was born as Tenebrae on an ancient Sith Empire world of Medriaas. His parents were non-Force sensitive peasants. His father was an impotent loser who couldn’t satisfy his woman and got cucked as a result. His mother was a slut and a whore who sold her body to the planet’s ruler because her husband was so bad in bed.

“But his parents were simple farmers, and the Force was not strong in them. Suspicious about the boy’s power, his father confronted his mother, who admitted to having an affair with the Sith Lord who ruled over them.”

The Old Republic: Revan

--Darth Nyriss

Tenebrae was the result of his mother's affair with the planet’s ruler. Essentially, he was a bastard child. Even his biological father pronounced him the least of his children.

“He was the least of my children; his mother, a nameless peasant.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Lord Dramath

Tenebrae eventually killed his mother and adoptive father, proving that they were failures who get beaten by six-year-olds.

Tenebrae manifested his incredible Force powers at the age of six. His dark gift marked Tenebrae for a place of power in the Empire - but it also revealed his mother's betrayal. She tearfully confessed to her husband that Tenebrae was born from her infidelity with the Sith ruler of their homeworld. Enraged by this betrayal, Tenebrae's father attacked his unfaithful wife. Awash in his father's fury, Tenebrae awakened the full extent of his power. Tenebrae took his parents' lives as he honed his talent with the dark side of the Force.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

Tenebrae also killed his biological father, demonstrating how even Dramath was an embarrassment who dies to ten-year-olds.

By the age of ten, Tenebrae was feared across Mediraas as the entire northern continent fell under his sway. Sith Lord Dramath, planetary governor of Mediraas, set out to bring the boy in line. Tenebrae broke Lord Dramath's mind, but not before revealing that he was actually his son.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

With all of his parents being losers and utter failures in every sense of the word, it was inevitable that Tenebrae would also inherit this trait, and then pass it on to his children. Failing is strong in his family. His both fathers had it, his mother had it, he had it, his wife had it, and all his children had it.

Training

Tenebrae was trained by Sith Lord Marka Ragnos and given the title of Lord Vitiate. He trained for an entire century, but never could surpass his master, who was the strongest Sith, until he died of natural causes.

Marka Ragnos ruled the galaxy with an iron fist. He was the Dark Lord of the Sith — the most powerful of the most powerful. But now he is dead.

Tales of the Jedi: The Golden Age of the Sith 2: Funeral for a Dark Lord (Publisher's Summary)

This is particularly embarrassing for Vitiate as Ragnos was bested by Jaden Korr, a fifteen-year-old Jedi Knight, on a dark side nexus, in Ragnos’ own tomb, yet Vitiate was too weak to overthrow him.

Even after his master’s death, Vitiate still wasn’t the strongest Sith, as he was surpassed by Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh.

Many powerful Sith seek to gain control of the Empire. The strongest of these are Ludo Kressh and Naga Sadow, who both command impressive bands of followers from among the Sith.

The Dark Side Sourcebook

At the gravesite, the two strongest Sith opponents confronted each other: Naga Sadow, eager to expand Sith powers; and his rival Ludo Kressh, content with the existing borders and loath to risk a folly that could potentially cost them everything.

The New Essential Chronology

Ludo Kressh in particular was so bad that he got downed by a brick, yet Vitiate was still weaker than him.

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Even after a hundred years of experimenting with the dark side, Vitiate is still surpassed by noobs like Ragnos and Kressh who are in turn surpassed by flying bricks and fifteen-year-old amateurs. Vitiate is truly the most pathetic Sith Lord in history.

Immortality

Vitiate could not achieve immortality on his own, and required a ritual for it.

An ancient Dark Lord of the Sith named Darth Vitiate destroyed all life on Nathema with a ritual designed to grant him immortality.

Force and Destiny Core Rulebook

Vitiate could not even perform the ritual on his own, and required the help of 8000 other Sith Lords.

Eight thousand Sith Lords gathered on Medriaas and agreed to partake in a ritual that would bind the Sith together as an ultimate dark side weapon.

The ritual lasted ten days. Lord Vitiate orchestrated the sorcery and the planet Mediraas was consumed by the largest dark side nexus the galaxy would ever see. When the ritual ended, Lord Vitiate emerged as the only survivor. The pain, energy, and suffering of every living entity on the planet fueled his power and would prolong his life for centuries.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

Even then, the ritual failed and Vitiate is noted to be looking for immortality after that.

Lord Scourge reveals the Emperor's true goal for the war: to complete a Sith ritual that will grant him unlimited power and immortality by eradicating all life in the galaxy.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

His strategy would lay the groundwork for the Republic's destruction, but would also prime the galaxy for the Emperor's ascension to immortality.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

While generations of Imperial citizens died to fuel his war machine, the Emperor's obsession with immortality continued to burn inside him.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

"When the Emperor broke my will, he looked into my mind, and I was able to see the reflection of his own evil. Invading the Republic is only the first step of his plan. He has become obsessed with power and immortality. The dark side is like a cancer inside him; it grows faster than he can feed it. He has consumed an entire world, but he still hungers. And with his hunger comes an all-consuming fear. He has lived a thousand years; he knows he could live many thousands more. He is terrified of death."

The Old Republic: Revan

--Revan

"His hunger for immortality must constantly be fed."

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Lord Dramath

Yet immortality is noted to be an impossibility for Failkorion, a thing that he could never achieve, no matter how powerful he became.

Yet, immortality is an impossibility. No matter how strong, how powerful, how godlike, all must perish. In the end, Valkorion could not escape the permanent, inevitable end to his existence. Finally, after thousands of years, the Immortal Emperor - his body, his spirit, the very essence of his being - is no more.

The Old Republic Codex: The Fall of Valkorion

This is quite sad, as even Darth Sion, a neophyte Sith who got killed many times by nameless, average Jedi, managed to obtain permanent immortality simply by willing it, no rituals or aid required.

Sion finds that keeping his decomposing flesh tethered together with dark side energy is inexplicably painful, and requires endless concentration on the rage that festers inside him - but immortality is immortality.

Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide

Sion embarks on a Jedi-assassination spree,"dying" many more times, but always ending more enemy lives.

Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide

Essence Transfer/Incorporeal Existence

The Shit Emperor could not possess the original Valkorion without hollowing him out over time first.

“I found Valkorion centuries ago. He was a great warrior. A champion of ancient Zakuul. It was only natural I hollow him out to use as my vessel.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Vitiate

The Shit Emperor was overpowered by one of his Children, Kira Carsen, a very weak Jedi, when he attempted to possess her, despite having imprinted his consciousness into her and sharing a Force Bond with her.

(8:19)

By drawing on his incredible dark powers, the Emperor imprinted his consciousness onto unwitting pawns who would serve as vessels for carrying out his will. Through the eyes and ears of these "children," he would uncover threats in both the Empire and Republic while they were still nothing but whispers. And should the need arise, the Emperor could seize control of his children and instruct them to crush any plot that dared defy his will.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

The Shit Emperor failed to possess Lana Beniko, a very weak Sith.

“I couldn’t help but notice you’re not one of Vitiate’s puppets.”

“I’ve been preparing my mental defences ever since Yavin Four. Still, resistance hasn't been easy."

The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor

--Lana Beniko and the player

The Shit Emperor struggled to maintain hold over Surro, a very weak Jedi, and she even managed to banish his essence from her head once.

(6:46)

The Shit Emperor could not possess unconscious people.

“Soon as I crash-landed, the Emperor’s puppets started coming for my shuttle, just like that. Maybe figured on some easy kills inside. Did the only thing I could think of. Rigged the ship to overload, fry everything in and around it. Tried to shield myself but still scrambled half my implants.”

“And that stopped the attack.”

“They went down, yeah. Some of the got back up, but they seemed out of it. Not possesses - dazed.”

The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor

--Theron Shan and the player

“So now we know: shock them unconscious and the tie is severed - at least for a while.”

The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor

--Rane Kovach

Failkorion could not defeat his son Arcann as a spirit.

“My son is too strong. You need my power. Only together can we strike him down.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire

--Valkorion

Arcann is a guy who loses to non-Force users, by the way.

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Failkorion was overpowered by his daughter Vaylin as a spirit.

(1:25)

An even more powerful Vaylin failed to overpower and kill a non-Force user, and also failed to deflect a blaster bolt with her Force Barrier.

Failkorion could not possess a non-Force user and needed to hollow them out over time first.

“My spirit invaded your body in search of a new host. You resisted.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Failkorion

“I would hollow out your mind, take possession of your body, and ascend to the Eternal Throne. But first, I required new weapons to conquer your psyche.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Failkorion

Failkorion feared a holocron he made when he was ten, and it could obliterate his spirit from existence.

All holocrons are based on a complex yet elegant technology: a lattice of organic crystals woven together at a microscopic level. The crystal lattice can store vast amounts of information, as well as replicate the appearance and personality of the holocron's creator as a gatekeeper who will guide students in their training.

In his youth, Valkorion--then known as Tenebrae--discovered a way to twist and pervert the lattice so it could capture the spirit of powerful Force users, locking them in a metaphysical cage. He used the weapon on Dramath, his tyrannical father, and trapped him inside the holocron for centuries.

But the same corrupted technology Valkorion used to vanquish his father could also be turned against him, permanently imprisoning his immortal spirit... or obliterating it from existence.

The Old Republic Codex: Dramath’s Holocron

“The Immortal Emperor’s vault. Inside, Valkorion stored artifacts even he feared were too powerful and dangerous to use.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Jarak

“I can help you defeat Tenebrae. I know his weakness. This holocron is not just my prison. It can destroy him once and for all.

[...]

This holocron is the instrument to his destruction.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Lord Dramath

“Did you discover anything… significant inside my vault?”

“Something in particular you’re worried about?”

“The artifacts hidden there are more dangerous than you can imagine. If you used them, it would be at your own peril.”

The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne

--Failkorion and the Outlander

Failkorion struggled to break and had his essence grievously wounded by a non-Force sensitive Dramath in a battle of wills.

Lord Dramath ruled the Sith world of Medriaas more than a millennium ago. Caring little for day-to-day governing, the Sith Lord spent his time hosting feasts and traveling around the agricultural planet. During a trip to the distant northern continent, Dramath had an affair with a poor farmer woman, siring a son whom he promptly forgot.

Ten years later, the Sith Lord heard rumors of a child gathering power in the northern continent, but did not personally investigate until his envoys failed to return. After days of travel, Dramath reached the source of the rumors only to face his illegitimate son, Tenebrae, the future Sith Emperor and immortal ruler of Zakuul. That day, Tenebrae removed his father's connection to the Force and imprisoned him within a powerful holocron, leaving Dramath alone to wither slowly into madness over an eternity.

The Old Republic Codex: Lord Dramath

Failkorion failed to break a non-Force user’s mind, and was stomped and permanently obliterated by them in a battle of wills when he attempted to possess them.

(10:55)

Alter Environment

The Shit Emperor required multiple rituals to change weather on a planetary scale, and he had to sacrifice a great deal of his energy to pull them off perfectly.

Power hungry, the Emperor spent great energy discovering and perfecting esoteric rites of darkness – rituals that wrecked the atmosphere of Dromund Kaas, transforming the ionosphere into a swirling electric storm.

The Old Republic Holonet

Force Lightning

The Shit Emperor demonstrates horrible aim with his Force Lightning.

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The Shit Emperor struggled to overwhelm a strike team of Jedi with a concentrated Force Lightning Storm, with Tol Braga, a featless Jedi walking through his Lightning.

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Telepathy

The Shit Emperor requires to be amplified by a dark side nexus to bind even non-Force users to his will.

Before the Emperor's apparent demise, the Empire's greatest non-Force-sensitive combatants were selected for the Imperial Guard to serve and defend the Emperor himself. But being selected and developing into a guardsman were two different matters entirely.

The Emperor chose worlds strong in the dark side for his academies--locations where his influence was strongest, where he could form a bond with his would-be guardsmen.

The Old Republic Codex: Imperial Guard Academy

Even then, he could only accomplish this with rituals.

“The Guard are bound to the Emperor’s will at the end of their training by a powerful ritual.”

The Old Republic: Revan

--Lord Scourge

The Shit Emperor was too weak to detect Scourge’s lying to his face, even though he invaded his mind.

Scourge was going to present the evidence in person. If the Emperor suspected he was lying—or if he was simply powerful enough to see the truth—escape would be impossible. He was putting himself at great risk for the sake of the cause—something he never would have considered before he met Revan.

[...]

Thinking about that power gave Scourge pause. Like Revan, the Emperor understood the Force in ways Scourge never would. It was possible he experienced the same kinds of visions as the Jedi; it was also possible he could peer into Scourge’s mind and instantly know the truth of everything he was saying. Meeting him face-to-face could be tantamount to suicide.

No, Scourge thought. If that were the case, he would have sensed Nyriss’s betrayal long ago.

As powerful as the Emperor might be, he was not omniscient.

[...]

“Rise, Lord Scourge,” the Emperor told him, “and speak your piece.”

Scourge stood up to address the Sith looming above him. The Emperor had thrown back his hood to reveal his face; his eyes were as black as the Void itself.

Staring into the hollow darkness of the Emperor’s gaze, Scourge’s mind flashed back to Nathema, and he shivered at the memory. He tried to speak, but the words stuck in his throat. His mouth was suddenly so dry he felt as if he might choke. He swallowed hard and coughed, finally bringing up enough saliva to talk.

“Three years ago I went to serve Darth Nyriss at your request,” Scourge began. “I discovered that Darth Xedrix was a traitor. He had allied himself with separatists to kill Nyriss, and I executed him for his crimes.”

“Your service has been noted,” the Emperor assured him. There was something strange about the Emperor’s voice. It didn’t sound like the voice of a single being. It had an unusual echo and resonance, almost as if a great multitude were speaking his words in perfect symphony.

grim theory passed unbidden through Scourge’s mind: was it possible all those that had been consumed by the ritual on Nathema still existed in some form within the Emperor himself? Nyriss said he’d devoured them, but what if she was only partially correct? What if he had imprisoned their spirits inside his own corporeal form, slowly feeding on their life energy over a thousand years to keep himself young and strong?

Scourge pushed such thoughts away; he needed to focus. One wrong word and the Emperor might see through his lies.

"I continued to serve Darth Nyriss after Xedrix’s death,” Scourge explained. “And I continued to investigate the separatists.”

He paused, waiting for the Emperor to ask what he’d found. After a few seconds he realized the inquiry was not coming.

"I became suspicious of one of Nyriss’s advisers, a man named Sechel. I turned the focus of my investigation to him. But Sechel was careful; he covered his tracks well. It took me until yesterday before I was certain of his guilt. He was also secretly working with the separatists, and he suffered the same fate as Xedrix.”

"You should speak to Darth Nyriss if you seek to be rewarded for your actions,” the Emperor said. There was no change in his tone, but the implied threat was clear: This is beneath me and you are wasting my time.

Scourge swallowed hard, his mouth dry once more. “That is not why I have come before you. Among Sechel’s effects I found these datafiles.”

He held up the disks.

“They show that Darth Xedrix was not the only member of the Dark Council to betray you. He was merely sacrificed to keep the involvement of the others secret. Darth Nyriss was also involved in the plot, along with several others.”

The Emperor had no physical reaction to the revelation; he stayed as still and calm as death itself. But the air around Scourge seemed to grow colder.

“Are you certain of these accusations?”

“I would stake my life on them, my lord Emperor.”

“You already have.”

Scourge felt a shiver trace its way down his spine, and he knew that far more than his life was at risk. The Emperor was no longer a member of the Sith species; his power and immortality had transformed him into a being unique in the galaxy. When he spoke of life and death, it had far deeper meaning than the mere physical existence of the lesser beings that served him.

“Does Nyriss know you are here?”

“No. I came to you as soon as I deciphered the data on Sechel’s disks.”

There was a long silence, and Scourge had the distinct impression that the Emperor was somehow communicating with someone outside the room.

A few seconds later the doors to the throne room opened and Captain Yarri strode in, accompanied by a Sith wearing the same dark robes as the Emperor.

They approached Scourge, and the robed Sith held out his hand expectantly. Scourge handed him the disks.

“Keep Lord Scourge in custody until this matter is settled,” the Emperor intoned.

“Forgive me, Lord Emperor,” Scourge said, speaking quickly but trying to keep his tone humble. “But Nyriss is expecting my return. If I am absent, she will grow suspicious.”

The Emperor’s dark eyes seemed to flicker with annoyance, and Scourge feared he had gone too far. The best he could hope for as punishment for his insolence would be a quick and relatively painless death.

However, when the Emperor spoke again it was not to pass judgment on him. “You are bold to speak to me in this way,” he stated. “And because you are right, I will reward your initiative … this time. When Nyriss falls, you will be first in line for her seat on the Dark Council.”

"Thank you, Lord Emperor,” Scourge said with a bow.

“If your information proves false, however,” the Emperor added, “you will suffer a fate more terrible than anything you can imagine.”

As he spoke, the dark circles of his eyes seemed to fill with a swirling red mist, and for a brief instant the Emperor gave Scourge a glimpse of his true self.

Scourge cried out in anguish as the Emperor’s mind brushed against his, then he collapsed to the floor, shaking like a child. The touch lasted less than a second, but in that time he witnessed indescribable horrors that dwarfed anything the dark side could conjure even in his worst nightmares. And beneath the formless terrors lurked the unbearable Void, the pure emptiness of total annihilation.

It was over as quickly as it had begun, the awful vision retreating into his subconscious like a repressed memory as Scourge picked himself up off the floor. Neither Captain Yarri nor the robed Sith made any move to help him.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor was implied to be unable to dominate Meetra Surik and Lord Scourge after Revan had taught them how to resist him.

“I can shield my mind from being dominated by his will, and I can show you how to do the same.”

The Old Republic: Revan

--Revan

The Shit Emperor failed to break Revan, even with the aid of his Dread Masters, over the course of 300 years, and got mentally manipulated instead and had his knowledge stolen.

"The Emperor sought to pry the Foundry's location from the Jedi's mind. But for centuries he resisted."

"The Emperor had three hundred years to break this man...and he never succumbed?"

The Old Republic

--Darth Malgus and The Emperor's Wrath

"So many centuries. The Emperor and his Dread Masters, trying to wrench me apart, to unleash my anger and hatred..."

The Old Republic

--Revan

He wanted information on the Republic and the Jedi. How strong were they? Where were they vulnerable? How much did they know about the Sith and the Emperor himself? He wanted information on Revan. What had happened during his own invasion of the Republic? Why had it failed? How had he freed himself from the Emperor’s control?...

The answers were all there, but Revan would not surrender them easily. Though he was physically helpless, mentally he was strong enough to wage war against the Emperor, guarding his secrets for however long it might take. And Revan knew something the Emperor did not.

The connection between them went both ways. There were brief moments-times when the Emperor was intently focused on something else-when he could subvert their relationship of planting seeds in the Emperor's thoughts. He had to be careful, lest his enemy discover what he was doing. But he was able to push and nudge the Emperor's own thoughts and beliefs, subtly manipulating them in ways that could have profound effects. Revan played on the Emepror's caution and patience, constantly pushing them to the forefront of his enemy's mind. He augmented his irrational fear of death. At every opportunity he reinforced the idea that invading the Republic was reckless and dangerous.

The Old Republic: Revan

"I spent three hundred years in lock step with the Emperor's mind. I know what he's become, what he wants."

The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan

--Revan

"The Emperor couldn't break me. Even death could not stop me. I will finish what I've started. And you will not interfere again."

The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan

--Revan

Finally, the Emperor permitted the war to end in a truce - his ruthless tactics unknowingly calmed by his mental link with the Jedi Master Revan, a legendary Republic hero.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

When the Empire launched the Great War against the Republic, Revan used his connection to the Emperor to manipulate the Sith Lord into ending the conflict in a temporary peace, saving millions of lives in the process.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia

"I learned a lot as his prisoner. Centuries of knowledge."

The Old Republic

--Revan

"But when the Sith Emperor imprisoned Revan for more than three hundred years, Revan’s ambitions became focused as never before, seeking to use his affinity with the Force to secretly influence his jailer."

The Old Republic

--Master of the Revanites

Telekinesis

The Shit Emperor failed to do any harm to a weakened Revan, even though he was amped by a dark side nexus and had charged and focused his attack to make it more powerful.

As Meetra and Scourge battled the Guard, Revan charged toward the Emperor. His opponent stood perfectly still, focusing and channeling his power. At the last possible instant, the Emperor unleashed a wave of energy that swept Revan off his feet and sent him flying backward.

Revan twisted in midair so that he was able to roll with the impact when he landed. He quickly sprang back to his feet and advanced again, moving more slowly this time.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor failed to kill Theron Shan.

(21:14)

Force Suppression

Failkorion required intense psychological conditioning and dark side rituals to suppress Vaylin’s powers. Once he lost control of her, he could no longer suppress her on his own.

Even as a child, Vaylin showed signs of tremendous power. Fearing she would one day challenge him, Valkorion imprisoned his daughter while he sought limits and controls on her power.

Through brutal experiments and mental conditioning, Vaylin was subconsciously trained to respond to a specific phrase: kneel before the Dragon of Zakuul. When spoken by her father, these words prevent Vaylin from unleashing her power and temporarily trap her will in an unbreakable mental prison.

While effective, it is likely the conditioning aggravated Vaylin's violent tendencies and contributed to her mental instability. While trying to cage his daughter's anger, Valkorion transformed her into a monster.

The Old Republic Codex: Vaylin’s Conditioning

From the moment his daughter, Vaylin, was born, Valkorion felt her strong connection to the Force. As she grew up, the Immortal Emperor noticed similarities between them, which both pleased and frightened him, and he decided to keep a tight leash on his favorite child. Her father's control curbed her tendencies toward violence and anarchy, but beneath her upbeat and lighthearted exterior lurked a restless hunter, hungry and ambitious. When most of the Emperor's power was locked away on Yavin 4, he was no longer able to hide Vaylin's strength from her, and she finally got a taste of her full capabilities.

The Old Republic Codex: Vaylin

As a reminder, Vaylin even at her most powerful is too weak to kill non-Force users.

Combat Prowess

The Shit Emperor failed to block his own Force Lightning when it was deflected back at him, and got knocked on his ass on the floor.

The Emperor unleashed three more bolts in quick succession. Revan batted the first aside with his lightsaber, ducked the second, then deflected the third in the direction of its source.

It struck the Emperor in the chest, sending him sliding several meters back on the floor. For the first time the Sith’s emotionless veneer cracked as he let out a primal hiss of hate.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor is incapable of multitasking with the Force, as he had to stop his assault on Revan to defend against an astromech droid.

Through the haze of indescribable pain, he saw T3-M4 rushing in to help him. The droid let loose with his flamethrower, bathing the Emperor in fire. at the last instant the Emperor cocooned himself in the Force to save himself from being incinerated, breaking his focus on Revan.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor failed to see an incoming lightsaber throw directly in his line of sight, and is disarmed and scared as a result. If not for Meetra’s instinct to save Revan, he would have died then and there.

Meetra was moving fast, but she was too far away to stop the Emperor from eviscerating the prone Jedi at his feet.

In desperation, she hurled her lightsaber with a wild side-arm throw. Guiding it with the Force, so that it spiraled end over end to intercept the descending blade, knocking it from the Emperor’s grasp, and sending it skittering across the floor.

Suddenly empty-handed, the Emperor took a quick step back. His attention had been focused solely on Revan; Meetra’s trick had caught him by surprise. Scourge realized that if she had aimed at the Emperor instead of the blade, she could’ve ended his life even as he ended Revan’s.

But her instincts to save her friend overrode her desire to kill her enemy, and Scourge could only lament the lost opportunity.

Meetra was still rushing forward, using the Force to return her lightsaber to her waiting hand.Sensing hesitation and uncertainty in the Emperor as he tried to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his new foe, Scourge rushed forward to join Meetra and Revan.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor had a very real chance of losing to to a strike team of people he could one-shot with the Force.

”You can’t defeat all three of us.” Revan said. ”United we are stronger than even you.”

That remains to be seen.”

For Scourge, the universe suddenly seemed frozen in place, as if time itself had stopped. He realized he was at a crux in history. Fate and destiny would forever be altered in the next few moments.

The Force washed over him like a wave, and a million different possible futures flickered through his mind simultaneously. In some, the Emperor was no more. In others, he had transformed the entire galaxy into an empty wasteland. He saw both Revan’s triumph and defeat in the throne room. He saw variations of his own life and death, played out over and over in every conceivable way, shape and form.

He had to choose, but there was no way to know which was the most likely outcome, or what actions of his would lead to which results. Revan had said visions could guide a Jedi, but for Scourge they brought nothing but confusion.

The Old Republic: Revan

The Shit Emperor consciously walked into a lightsaber blade.

No Caption Provided

Failkorion completely forgets he was fighting the Outlander in the midst of fighting him and Arcann. He lowers his guard, and is shot in the back and dies as a result.

Thanks for reading!

May the darkness of Sheev be with you!
May the darkness of Sheev be with you!

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