Muz Ashen is one of the post-exodus Grand Masters.
The scion of the Keibatsu line, a deposed family from the backwater feudal planet of Kyataru, Musashi Daraku Keibatsu was taken by the Jedi Master Eojin Quon-Shen at the age of 6 as a padawan. Through his training by the survivor of Order 66, Musashi learned the ways of the Force and eventually forgot his true name, parsing it to 'Muz Ashen'. When Eojin introduced his few students with the Jedi Praxium of Luke Skywalker, Muz expanded his training and eventually completed his studies.
Muz had ascended to the knighthood in Eojin's little fringe group of the New Jedi Order, but not without concern from his master, nor without incident. The young Knight had serious difficulty adapting the ascetic ideals that the Jedi had put in place to help self-moderate. Muz seemed less and less willing to keep his emotions in check, feeling that they were a natural response, and as much a part of the Force as anything else. On top of all that, Ashen seemed to be slipping closer and closer to the dark side, calling upon it to accomplish his goals when it seemed that all was lost. His eyes charred black by a Sith beast's death, Muz grew more and more imposing as his abilities grew. With darkened robes, nightmarish eyes, and an almost outright disregard for the rules that were meant to keep emotion locked away, Muz became something of a pariah among Eojin's Jedi, one who they would rather keep close to them so that they could put him down quickly if the need arose.
Several years passed like this, the young knight growing more deeply focused on his own technological work and his own meditations on the Force. Slowly, he became more and more trusted by his own master, Eojin Quon-Shen who saw through the trappings of darkness and became convinced that he was not a risk.
Fall to Darkness
- "We can't kill him, it is not the Jedi way...so we will hide him from the shadow we must fight."
- ―Eojin Quon-Shen, Jedi Master
The final straw came when Muz's technological experiments crafted a synthetic armorweave fabric that posed a threat to their supremacy. The Eojin and his advisors convened, remembering the events at the Keibatsu stronghold. They effectively banished him, sending him on an open-ended mission to protect a fabricated planet called Dearanor. When a dark Jedi by the name of Cor An-Jin showed up to destroy the planet and take the valuable resources, Muz was outmatched. Calling upon the dark side to defeat the darksider, Muz saved hundreds of thousands of citizens.
Upon reporting the incident, he was derided for resorting to touching the dark side.
Led to believe that Eojin was a master of the Jedi Council, Muz's disrespect for the Jedi ideal grew exponentially, and he relinquished his sabre, quietly building a homestead on Dearanor. The local government honored Muz with a lavish ceremony and the gift of an ancient sword, the Nagamichi.
But this peace was to be short-lived. Claudius Tang'Va, one of Eojin's apprentices, decided that they could not afford the liability of Muz falling to the dark side, and sent several young Knights loyal to him and his master to extinguish his threat. Facing their sabres, Muz expected to die. The sword he was given had other ideas, however. The sword had been treated alchemically to resist sabre blades and blaster bolts. Muz managed to survive the assault and left Dearanor, heading deep into uncharted places to avoid the New Jedi Order.
- "Death smiles at you your whole life. All one can do is smile back."
- ―Koji Keibatsu
It was there that Muz first learned of the Dark Brotherhood, serving as a general in the Autocthonian Navy under the High Lord Darrow. Working as a personal bodyguard to the High Lord as well as a trusted advisor, the fallen Jedi found himself a place in the universe, even taking a student, an attractive Nightsister calling herself Ashia. After she vanished from his sight, Muz felt it was time to move on, having heard of a place rich in learning for the Force, hidden behind the Stygian Caldera, a rumor of a legend called Antei.
Having saved the High Lord's life on more than one occasion, the highly decorated Ashen was gifted with one of the High Lord's own personal ships and an open invitation to return. Muz took his new ship, named it the 'Fallen Spear' in a silent nod to his fall from grace as a Jedi, and set out for Antei.
Dark Jedi Knight Muz Ashen
Antei marked a new beginning for Muz. Enlisting in the Dark Brotherhood, Muz quickly passed the Shadow Academy's coursework and was assigned to a Sith house, where his abysmal luck with smaller fighters made him more liability than asset. Manesh Sadow traded Muz to the Krath (for what some say was a six pack and a lap dance from Tissaya Argat, an attractive Chiss Quaestor of Marka Ragnos), where Muz flourished.
Assigned to missions with Kali Desdemona, Nekura Manji, Beowulf, and Korras, Muz quickly rose through the ranks of the Brotherhood, successes against all odds leading to his impending knight trials. Muz fought alongside the future Obelisk High Commander, even facing him as an ancient spirit possessed him, a fight that would claim Muz's left arm, but cemented him as a stalwart ally of the House. None of these experiences could have prepared Muz, as he never expected an old wound to be opened.
On a mission during the Independence Games, Manji and Muz fought against a small New Republic force, led by a Jedi. The jedi was one of Eojin Quon-Shen's students, and recognized Ashen as a fallen Knight. After slaying the knight, Muz discovered an encrypted datapad that belonged to his former master.
The datapad laid bare Ashen's lost history. Manji was his brother.
The Sixth Great Jedi War
The two fought alongside each other under the banners of Marka Ragnos, leading separate armies against the Antarrans. After an architectural expedition uncovered an ancient Keibatsu holding that revealed treasures as well as a generations old animosity for the Antarrans, the brothers rallied, winning battles left and right against the Antarrans in the Great Jedi War. It was for their services during this war that they were raised to the higher offices of Quaestor and Aedile.
Ashen remained ashamed of his memory loss, remained embarrassed at the weakness of his will that enabled him to be brainwashed out of such things that were so important to him. He refused to take up the Keibatsu name, believing that he had not yet earned the right to bear it again, that he was unworthy. Muz trained incessantly, building his strength as he prepared for the next inevitable conflict.
The Last Krath Rite of Supremacy
- "What, did you want to live forever?"
- ―Muz Ashen, leading Ragnosian forces in the Defense of Sadow Palace.
When the ancient K'hamar'an threat resurfaced, the brothers were ready, rallying their house to greatness in what would be later called the Rite of Supremacy. The brothers led their house to unlikely victories, helping to make Clan Naga Sadow the second Clan of the Brotherhood.
symbol of the Lion of Tarthos
After the war had died down, and summer boiled the snow from Tarthos, the brothers were faced with ancient magics and old curses. The Stone Lion, a beast known to the Keibatsu family by myth, only showed up to claim dishonorable kin, to clean the family tree. Muz knew that his reluctance to take up the family name would haunt him, but no one saw this legend as true until it arrived in the flesh.
- "A bloody foolish thing you did there Ashen. Brave as all frell, but foolish."
- ―Jak Ordo, Ragnosian Warrior
Muz hunted the beast outside the walls of the Marka Ragnos Cathedral, and the epic combat that followed would leave Muz with the nickname of 'the Lion of Tarthos'. Having lost his mechanical arm and saber to the beast, the day was still Muz's. His sense of honor fulfilled and destiny paid, Muz Ashen took back up the banner of the Keibatsu, reclaiming his heritage.
Rising Through the Ranks
Shortly afterwards, Muz was called upon to serve as Proconsul of Clan Naga Sadow, leaving his younger brother installed in his place as Quaestor. The Brotherhood called on his expertise and also gave him duties in the Chamber of Justice, as well as a position as praetor to the Herald, where he was tasked with the creation of lightsabers.
Helping Consul Xanos Sadow to garner success in the Obelisk war, Muz's sense of duty to clan grew, even as Antei called for more and more of his attentions.
Finding the Tulok Hord Holocron with Xanos, the pair studied the lightsaber master's teachings very well, creating their own Holocron for general use of the Brotherhood, The Lightsaber Combat Guide with research assistance from Macron. Muz and Xanos had used the ancient artifact to hone their skills to such points that it became difficult to avoid the endless stream of challenges that came from such skill.
Muz, shortly before being named as Herald
It was shortly after that when he was coerced into entering the Championship Tournament on Antei by his brother. Muz found himself victorious against great odds, having even been forced to fight the reigning Grand Master of the Dark Brotherhood, Jac Cotelin, in a battle that would spin Muz's mind in new madness. Perilously close to losing control of himself and his demons, Muz fought on, managing to emerge triumphant, and named as a Champion of the Combat Center.
Newly named as a Son of Sadow, news came from Antei that the Herald retired, leaving the Grand Master to appoint Muz as the new Herald.
Muz's action as Herald was well-received, the Keibatsu having generated scores of new lightsabers as he had a new home built for him, deep within his family's ancient territory on Kyataru. Between Kyataru and hunting rare adegan crystals for the Brotherhood, Muz's influence grew. Shell corporations helped broaden the scope of his search, and he took on an apprentice, a half-blood youngling that Manji and he had found on a mission. "Sledge", as the young one preferred to be called, became as Muz's shadow for the first few years of his time in the Brotherhood.
Sensing the true reason for the youngling's affinity for the Force, he tasked him with the retrieval of one of his smugglers as his final Knight Trial, a wily Force sensitive known as 'Axi Zorax'. when Sledge returned with his prey unharmed as directed, the truth of the ties that bound the three together were understood by all. Axi was Ashia Kagan, the Nightsister from Muz's Autoch days, and Sledge was their son, Sanjuro.
Sanjuro felt the pain of abandonment anew, remembering how he was left with monks that knew him or his bloodline not at all, hidden from his father, left behind by his mother. Sanjuro traveled away from the Brotherhood, seeking refuge out in the galaxy, eventually returning to Kyataru and his father's keep, quietly honing his skills in solitude there.
Muz took Ashia under his wing during that time, refreshing the lessons learned so many years ago, indoctrinating her in the ways of the Brotherhood and seeing her past her knight trials. Already a capable warrior due to her Nightsister training, Ashia rose through the ranks in the Brotherhood with ease.
- "That line has been dead for nearly ten cycles, keep."
- ―Oshima, Kyataran Swordsmith
It was only a matter of time before Muz and his brothers raised an army to reclaim their ancestral homelands from those who had usurped them in their absence. After a long deployment of the Keibatsu and their allies, the Herald made use of clones bought from Kamino, the Nihilgenia, as they forced the usurpers of their family's holdings back out of the territories. The 'Reclamation of Kyataru' lasted nearly three months, the Family returning to their clans and other duties just before the onset of the Seventh Great Jedi War.
The Seventh Great Jedi War: The Enemy Within
As tensions mounted between the clans, it became obvious that there was some outside force was driving to divide the Brotherhood. Time proved that there were indeed two Jacs...a cloned Grand Master serving to divide the Brotherhood literally. Muz sided with the Master he believed to be the true one. This proved to be harder than was thought, as his former allies, Xanos Sadow and Kaiann Entar had sided with the other one.
Having been named the Commander of the 'red Jac's' Forces, Muz had to lead armies against brethren during the long conflict, to the eventual siege of the Dark Hall on Antei, where he would face Kaiann Entar in combat.
It was only by the grace of the Entar's armor that he survived the famous saberist's assault. A massive outpouring of rage and hatred enabled the Entar to temporarily incapacitate the Herald, only to be himself knocked into unconsciousness by one of the cloned Grand Masters before their epic duel. After the Cotelins resolved their division, the Entar had absconded with the 'Skin of Fire', a powerful artifact, and Muz was given special dispensation to retrieve the artifact, by any means necessary. It was only two and a half weeks later that a haggard Muz returned triumphant. Rumors abound as to the details of their meeting, but the truth of the matter is that Muz himself doesn't speak of it, and Kaiann has not been seen since.
Aftermath of a War
Shortly after the end of the war, Jac had left the Iron Throne to his student, Lord Dantes. Haggard from the years of almost constant warfare, Muz seemed to grow more and more reclusive, spending more time away from court affairs when possible. Still, the regular shipments of sabers and warbanners were delivered by his ship, but fewer and fewer people actually had come into contact with him in person. Rumors flowed that the Herald was not as close to the Iron Throne as he once was.
The more perceptive members noticed the truth. The Herald was rarely aboard the ship when it made its deliveries, and stories began to filter back from the core worlds. Stories of young Jedi being slain in groups, their limbs sabered off and their chests caved in during the times in between the shipments.
- "Some say he's unnatural, I believe that he's everything that we could become."
- ―Shin'ichi Keibatsu
The rumors grew even louder when the Keibatsu disappeared from Brotherhood space, all seeming to vanish into the mists of their homeworld to deal with some insurrection there. When they returned, Shin'Ichi, Muz's most trusted lieutenant, was horribly disfigured, and several more Keibatsu bore visible scars. None spoke of their experience, but all were visibly shaken.
Summoned rather publicly to the Star Chamber by Lord Dantes, Muz spent a full day with the Dread Lord, for whatever reason, neither would say. Three days later, Dantes made his speech to the clans over the Antei Holonet, drawing the clans outside the shroud to prove their supremacy in a training exercise that would become known as the Second Darkness.
The Rite of Supremacy was a brief and bloody affair, the clans frantically maneuvering to gain the upper hand and be called the First clan of the Brotherhood. During this conflict, many of the Dark Council found themselves strained to keep up with the pace set by the aggressions. In the hours following the training exercise, Halcyon Rokir resigned his position as Shadow Hand and left Brotherhood space. In his place, Muz was appointed the new Shadow Hand.
Calling upon his old mentor, Muz convinced the Dark Prophet Kaine Mandaala to resume his reign as Herald, freeing up his time to administer to the Brotherhood more fully, learning under the Dark Lord of the Sith. But it was only a matter of hours before the warning klaxons rang out the unforeseen ambush that was the beginning of the Eighth Great Jedi War.
The Eighth Great Jedi War : Incursion
.The Alien invaders struck unerringly, their timing impeccable as they marauded the assembled Brotherhood fleet outside of the Shroud of Antei. Immediately assuming command of the Vae Victus, Muz discovered that the Aliens had also attacked several clan homeworlds simultaneously, with the bulk of their biological fleet running toward them at full steam. Arraying the ships to help beat back the assault was of no use, and Sarin ordered the newly appointed Shadow Hand to cover the clan's jumps to hyperspace.
The Aliens had thought of that. Interdictor mines laced throughout the are ripped ships that attempted the jumps back into realspace, tearing them apart. The VSD Dark Prophet, flagship of Taldryan was crippled and then destroyed, the image enough to make the Bortherhood order a full retreat, running blindly into the shroud.
Muz and the others aboard the Vae Victus were not so lucky. Their shields devastated by the unorthodox weaponry of the Force-devoid alien threat, their flagship deployed some sort of proboscis that tore open the hull of the bridge, breaching the ship and killing almost all of the people on board. Muz himself was captured and placed in the Embrace of Pain, a creature designed by the Alien Shapers to create vast suffering.
Half mad, naked and bleeding, Muz could not understand how the creatures knew so much about the Brotherhood, about him. The Torturing Ahm Crod called him by his titles in mocking tones as they ripped his prosthetic arm from him, spoke of how they would destroy all of the clans, exposing the Force as Heresy to their cruel gods.
As they prepared to sacrifice the Kyataran to their Gods of War, Muz pressed an advantage. Adien Falaut's saber, carefully shielded by his mind from the exploding TIE that the martyr crashed into the Analog's side, ripped through membrane and muscle, shredding through Ahm Crod's head and into his waiting hand. Freedom from the Embrace was cold, and the revenge he would take from the Aliens would keep him warm, even if he never lived to escape it.
Fighting until he waded in the black blood of the Alien invaders, Muz donned the Crab Armor of the slain to help disguise himself and defend against their blows. Finding himself in the center of their ship, Muz confronted their yammosk war coordinator. As his mind struggled to defend itself from the mental emanations, Muz found many of his own barriers removed, allowing his viciousness to shine through, the raw power of the one that called itself Ashen helping him to survive.
As the commander readied to scuttle his own ship, the Alien priest Volnagh appeared, ushering Muz to a coralskipper to save the Krath from the death of the No Peace. Rumors of Alien Heretics who accepted the Force Sensitives as representatives of their gods were used to justify the priest's actions, but as Volnagh had disappeared after Muz was loaded into the Coralskipper, it is unsure if this was the case.
Barely conscious, Sarin and Kaine retrieved the coralskipper, running him to medical where he spent several weeks in a Bacta tank, unaware of the devastating loss of the Brotherhood against the Alien invaders, including the fact that his own son was missing and presumed dead. Even unconscious, Sarin would visit the Shadow hand, using the Force to gleam bits of information from him, and the realization was rather sudden, with Sarin having felt the trauma unlocking the floodgates of power within the Keibatsu. He was no longer a mere master. Muz was a Sith Lord.
It wasn't but a few short weeks when Muz received a report from one of his contacts deep in the uncharted space. The report told of a lookalike to the Dark lord, a doppelganger that was being carted by strange aliens on a tiny crippled ship. Muz had slain an impostor before, but something had peaked his interest about this one. This one looked quite identical, but, as the report said, looked younger...and had bright violet eyes.
It could only have been Sanjuro, the son he had lost to the Fall of Orian.
Muz gathered Ashia up and immediately departed for Kyataran space, a few journeymen stowing away on the Dark Lord's ship, only to be scared from their presence before they arrived at the Kyataran homelands. Waiting at Amahara for the Lord and his wife, the Herald Shikyo, cousin Tsainetomo, and close friend of the family Sildrin joined them with a legion of Nihilgenia, as they set course for Autochthonia.
reaching Autoch Prime, Muz set about his intelligence gathering as his ship underwent minor maintenance. Tracking the Alien ship to an outlying planet, Bescht III, he rallied the family and made groundfall with a legion of Nihilgenia. Finding naught but rubble, they plowed deep into the jungle planet, finding Sanjuro held in the embrace of pain by the survivors of the wreckage.
Laying the Force-devoid aliens to waste and reclaiming his son, Muz quickly returned to the Brotherhood fleet, meeting with Sarin, Kaek, Kir and other members of the Dark Council to make preparations for the Brotherhood's return to Antei.
Rallying the clans together to retake Antei was no easy task. Many of the clans thought it was a fool's errand, that the Brotherhood should write off the throneworld as an acceptable loss. Sarin, on the other hand, knew full well the need to secure that which was taken.
Ninth Great Jedi War: Unification
Rallying well outside the Shroud, the Dark Council's plan was bold. Using the Grand Masters of the Star Chamber to guide the fleet, they would navigate the shroud in hyperspace, so as to take the Aliens by surprise. The overwhelming superiority in tactics and since the incursion was considerable, but any advantage that could be had was necessary. The Clans would follow at a slower pace, picking through the Shroud at regular speed.
Having been forced to deal with clan infighting during the Insurrection, Sarin had made sure that any ground forces used to retake the throneworld would be loyal only to him. Using the Clan's force sensitives (designated as 'foxtrot uniforms' by the armed forces of the Iron Throne) as generals, they would sweep across their holdings and reclaim them.
All of that changed when they arrived at Antei.
The Aliens were dead or dying. Their analogs floated by the Dark Council's war fleet, useless and calm. The message from the surface happened almost immediately, Sarin being hailed directly from his own throne.
Omancor Crask was a wild crusader for his own cause. Having taken up the charge to deal with the Force-devoid alien threat any way he saw fit, he had come across the Brotherhood's occupied system through his spies, and saw fit to sit and wait for the Brotherhood's return, crusading against the Dark Side of the Force as easily as he did against those that were not part of the Force.
Having entrenched his droid forces and loyal apprentices on Antei, Crask was prepared to give the Brotherhood the war that they were thirsting for. Brutal fighting erupted as soon as the Brotherhood forces landed, Captured clan members being dragged before Crask and examined, their faith in the Dark Side tested, challenged, and for some, destroyed forcibly. Converting the Clan's forces resulted in Sarin sending his Shadow hand to the surface to investigate personally.
- "Old one, try your games on me."
He found the man, crushing Raken in order to convert him. Testing the old Jedi, Muz knew that any information he could glean from the enounter would be of great use to them in the coming days. The man seemed to be toying with him as he talked, the seeds of doubt hidden in his words as he moved closer to him, in an almost perversely light Dun Moch. Finally, the realiszation struck him, and Muz had seen enough to know how he had achieved the conversions.
- "We are believers in a certain path. As are you. We have followed ours here. Our ways are at odds. That is all. But many of our goals are the same. We could have an understanding."
- ―Omancor Crask
- "There is an understanding, old man. You will take no more of us."
Having discovered his mental prowess, Muz tested the flesh, and found himself for the first time in his life outmatched. The old man flowed through all of the forms seamlessly, using them all as if he had done so for several lifetimes. The onslought of Brotherhood tanks distracted the man, however, and his student, a woman with far less experience, replaced her master in the duel. Muz captured her easily, but too slowly to do anything about Crask himself.
Cracking the woman's mind open in his search for information, he found little of actual use before delivering her to Sarin, escaping the destruction of a garrison by Alien Slayers to deliver the prize intact.
Later, Muz would find that Crask surrendered to Kir and was brought to Sarin. Crask's nature was two-fold as Muz had suspected, and the old Sith's machinations ripped a lightsaber from his still living apprentice's body as he attacked Sarin. The duel would send shockwaves not only across Antei as their ship crashed, but across the Brotherhood as both Sarin's and Crask's bodies were found.
With Sarin's body ruined, Muz was quickly named as his successor and became the Grand Master for the season of change that would follow.
Upon the Iron Throne
Muz Ashen, circa 32 ABY, as drawn by Orv
When Sarin's body was found on Antei, Muz was named as the Next Grand master by a quick vote of the Star Chamber and the Dark Council. With the clans having sustained heavy losses in the unpopular war to retake Antei, the Grand Master opened the great Vault beneath the Dark Hall and retrieved several priceless artifacts, holocrons of ancient masters, and handed them out to the clans to help bolster their strength. These new Clan Force Powers would be jealously guarded by the clans, only allowing those who were within their ranks to learn their skills, stripping the lessons from them if they moved to other clans.
Yet still, a reorganization was needed. Muz issued a proclamation permitting the formation of Independent houses in the Brotherhood once more. Raken, healing slowly from injuries sustained at the hands of Crask, would retire from Praetor to the Grand Master and worked to form his own Independent house, naming it after the long dead Sith Lord Revan. Many members from already flagging clans chose to join Raken, causing many of the clans to distrust the new house, especially with the rumors of a reborn Darth Sarin being with the House.
As the infighting and hyper-politicization began to rise again, Muz focused the clans on the planet of Salas V, a world outside the Brotherhood's territories that had been resistant to the expansionist Armed Forces of the Iron Throne. The Killik-infested planet had been under siege by the Grand Master's forces for months, and required more reinforcement than the Throne could spare. Leading the Clans to Salas V, Muz declared a Rite of Supremacy, where the clans would fight each other to prove who was superior, and the Spoils of War would be the right to the planet itself.
the battle was short, but violent, with many dark jedi killed, and more still left unaccounted for, including the Deputy Grand Master Paladin. In the end, the newly formed independent house Revan surprised all of the clans as they used superb tactics to make up for the difference in manpower. The small house managed to best each and every clan that they fought, winning the rights to Salas V as well as making history in the Brotherhood.
The rumors of Sarin's rebirth were not unfounded, the Dread Lord's spirit having found refuge in the body of Rade after Crask had been defeated. Using contacts in the core worlds as well as with his own loyalists in the Brotherhood, Sarin had a clone made of his old body and commissioned a new suit of beskar to be made. It was the armor that gave him away, Muz's own contacts reporting the construction back to him. Tracking down the armor, he found the grand master and asked him to return to Antei with him as his deputy.
The Wedge Between
Discussion between members of the Dark Council became more and more heated, with the final straw coming when the Sith Fist of the Brotherhood laid out plans to retake the still-besieged Black Pyramid, a site holy to the Obelisk. Fierce fighting broke out between the Triumvirate Library and the Black Pyramid, finally coming to a head when Sarin faced Muz on the plain outside the Triumvirate Library.
Locked in a fierce duel, Jac Cotelin interrupted the pair of Sith Lords, laying bare what he had discovered: that the Holocrons that the Brotherhood had used to learn new Force Powers had been tainted by a traitor to the Brotherhood. The Jedi Michael Halcyon, thought to have been killed for many years now, had corrupted the holocrons that gave the Orders their own specific powers, causing the natural distrust between the groups to reach a fever pitch.
The fight went to the Obelisk, and the whole war was declared a Vendetta and the Brotherhood worked to recoup their losses.
The interference of the old enemy reverberated throughout the Brotherhood. Houses and Clans began to dig deeper into their own affairs, seeking to root out any who would have sympathies with the Jedi. These conflicts encompassed much of the unit's time and energy, causing them to turn blind eyes to more important affairs.
Muz set a declaration, offering safe passage for any of the Brethren that were more inclined to the light to a new house under the Jedi Ji. Called House Odan-Urr after the ancient Jedi, the house established itself on a backwater planet that they christened New Tython. Transports left Brotherhood space under protection of the Royal Guard, ferrying the light-siders to their new home.
Several key assassins were engaged, sent after the Jedi Michael Halcyon. The increasingly paranoid Jedi and his new apprentice known only as 'Ollie' managed to elude both capture and death despite overwhelming odds, much to the chagrin of the Dark Council. In frustration, Tarentum moved a fleet to blockade New Tython, preparing to cripple the house of heretics to the Final Way. The arrival of a Dark Council fleet and Orders from the Grand Master to disburse forced the Ancient House's return to Yridia.
The Clans and Houses did not take lightly to the protection of Odan-Urr, and demanded war, retribution against those they called traitor. Muz refused their requests for some time, the Dark Council understanding that there was a deeper plan for this, knowing that there was no love lost between the Jedi and the Grand Master. He was waiting for something.
Finally, when a trophy was stolen from the Fallen Spear, Muz finally discerned at least part of the Jedi Master's plan. He rallied the Brotherhood, preparing them for a campaign against the Jedi on New Tython.
The Battle for New Tython
The Brotherhood descended upon the planet of New Tython like a swarm, ravaging, destroying everything in their path. Pastoral scenes were turned to dust and mud as the Dark Jedi even struck out at each other in their drive to be the most dominant force.
Michael Halcyon urged the Quaestor Ji to accept his aid, the Mandalorians from House Ordo he had conscripted through the aid of another disenfranchised member of the Brotherhood. Upon viewing the self-destructive nature of the Clans again, Ji agreed and the Mandalorians swept down, engaging the clans in brutal warfare that they were not expecting.
In a few moments, the predators became prey.
The Dark Council Fleet, held in reserve, jumped into the system, sandwiching the Mandalorian forces between themselves and the Clan fleets attacking New Tython. Muz piloted his own ship, the Fallen Spear, into the battle, trying to draw out the nemesis he knew responsible for the Mandalorians. It didn't take long for Raidoner to take the bait and board Muz's ship, where he questioned him, trying to confirm his understanding of who orchestrated the Bounty Hunter's involvement. Reluctant to respond, Raidoner found himself quickly outmatched by the Dark Lord of the Sith. Despite the man's silence, he knew now that his plan had succeeded. The Jedi House's formation and subsequent attack drew Michael Halcyon out of hiding, where he could finally be rid of him.
Drawn to the surface, Muz made his way to battle, feeling that Michael Halcyon had drawn all the disparate forces he could muster to the defense of the Brotherhood's Jedi house, including his old master, Eojin Quon-Shen. The Justicar stalked the man responsible for his disfigurement as Korras and Shikyo sought out the Mandalorian captain. Dispatching his Deputy, Halcyon Taldrya to deal with his brother, Muz engaged his old master.
As Eojin lay screaming as he fell to the Dark Side, Michael Halcyon met his end at the end of the Shadow Hand's green lightsaber. The death of the traitor Michael Halcyon marked the end of the war, the signal to the clans sent to retreat, to leave the Odan-Urr to scramble among their dead and their ruins, having been dealt a decisive defeat.
Those who survived wondered why the Dark Lord didn't completely eradicate them, but Ji understood. It was far more cruel to let them know that they were only alive because Muz allowed it. That seed of hope was toxic, and pain would blossom from it as they were left to rot.
The Cost of Ambition
Tensions remained high in the brotherhood, the Sith of the Dark Council increasingly more agitated by the fact that a Krath still held the Iron Throne evident in their machinations. Darth Sarin's successor, Darth Pravus, drunken with inherited power, moved with Halcyon to try to wrest control from Muz with the aid of the Justicar, Taigikori Aybara. Their ploy started with an attempt on the Voice of the Brotherhood's life, with the Grand Master's wife and brother managing to save him and retreating to the Dark Hall.
The trap was sprung when Pravus arrived, dueling Muz to a standstill before Muz's greater control of the Force ended the combat abruptly. Taking advantage of Muz's fatigue, Halcyon made an attempt to assassinate his master, as Sith must all do. Halcyon failed in his attempt, and was made to see the repercussions, the costs of his ambition.
When a plague burned the force sensitivity from several journeymen, Muz ordered the quarantine of the Shadow Academy, watching as the disease seemed to spread from journeymen to equites, the madness that came from the sudden onset and then silencing of power driving those afflicted to assume that the elders were to blame. The response was horrific as clans and houses turned to civil war. Engaging the services of Macron to investigate was not quick enough, as an unseen remnant fleet assaulted Antei, Sepros, Yridia II, and Kapsina.
Struggling to defend the assault, fractured as they were, many houses tried to reorganize militarily, trying to reintegrate the small cliques of roving force-deprived brethren. One such large group attempted to use Krath rituals to undo their affliction by infecting, and then murdering the Grand Master Chi Long. When the ritual failed to work, desperation set in, and the Star Chamber recognized that the man responsible was the Dread Lord Zoraan, given form again by another Sith Lord.
Macron's work finally bore fruit, a 'contagious cure' synthesized using the madman's alchemy. Quick deployment allowed the Brotherhood to stem the tide of loss, but not before the enemy fleets were able to use catastrophic weapons on Yridia II and Kapsina. The damage on Kapsina was so thorough that the house Plagueis was feared eradicated.
The Dark Council rallied to Antei, where Zoraan recovered the Skin of Fire and made for the Iron Throne. Facing the Dread Lord and his Acolytes in battle, the Dark Council narrowly escaped victorious. With the insane Grand Master dead and his spirit annihilated, the war to reclaim their territories from Brotherhood space began, an arduous campaign that culminated in the capture of Zoraan's flagship, the Avenger II.
Crusade into Darkness
Hatred whipped the Brotherhood into a fury, demanding more blood to slake their thirst. Muz would give it to them. No longer content to just hold their own territories from minor skirmishes and wast their strength on each other, Muz made the call for war to retake the Sith Empire of Antiquity for themselves. The assassination attempts on several members of the Dark Council by sleeper cells, and the murder of the Herald Orv Dessrx by Darth Esoteric reverberated throughout the brotherhood.
The Brotherhood responded in force, overrunning the planets of the old Sith Empire one by one, eradicating the Forces of the One Sith and whosoever else stood in the way of conquest. It was not a quick campaign, as the planet to planet fighting taxed the clan's forces heavily. As the war droned on and on, the Clans seemed to lose their lust for conquest, taking more and more attacks of opportunity on each other rather than the common enemy. Even as the clans took planet after planet in their Dark Crusade, murmurs began to spread, that there was more to the conquest than what originally was intended.
With Raken stepping away from the throne and Pravus becoming the Shadow Hand, the rumors grew even stronger. As the Brotherhood neared Korriban, one of the Nephilim discovered the Ace up Muz's sleeve. Having accumulated a lifetime's worth of lore and using materials gleaned from the raids in ancient Sith Temples, Muz had recreated Tiamat's rite. After Nix reported the finding to Jac Cotelin, the Grand Master rallied Taldryan's fleet and made for Antei, intending to depose Muz. Having already been poisoned against Taldryan and their ways, Muz was prepared with a defense fleet rallied by the loyalist Arcona forces, led by Marick Arconae. As the Taldryan fleet took damage from the Arconans, Muz felt another fleet coming to engage. Deciding to test the ritual on Antei itself, Muz sent the signal to the loyalists to retreat out of range of the rite.
The destruction was magnificent, and Antei burned.
The Taldryan fleet managed to mostly escape, performing a last minute hyperjump on coordinates that came in at the last moment. Facing Esoteric's flagship, the One Sith Lord demanded to discuss terms of surrender with Cotelin. Jac agreed, but in his stead, the Justicar Taigikori Aybara and Nix went instead. Taigikori was decapitated by the Sith Lord, and a communication went out across brotherhood channels from the One Sith, offering them a chance to join with them rather than be subjected to yet another civil war.
- "Brothers fight with each other, but they rally against those who would hurt them. But not our Brotherhood. The clans deceive each other, kill each other instead of those who would see us all dead. They make deals and ally with enemies just so that they can kill their brothers. There is another way, one that I have been teaching."
- "That was always our mission. But you know that the way of the Sith is..."
- "...wasteful. Without a common enemy to fight, the Brotherhood returns to the only way they know. Infighting, backbiting. It weakens us. The way some want us."
The war continued on the sands of Korriban, loyalists from Arcona, Naga Sadow and Tarentum facing an alliance of rebels from Taldryan, Odan-Urr and Scholae Palatinae as well as Plagueis forces that joined with the One Sith. Each raced to find the remaining pieces of the puzzle, the requisite location for the final rite of immortality, some to seize it, some to stop the others from finding it. In the end, Cotelin and Ashen found each other there. As they dueled, motives laid themselves bare. Muz was willing to do anything to keep the brotherhood unified, even if it meant becoming the common enemy that they united to fight. Cotelin was dying, the wound from brutal sith magic tearing his essence apart with each passing day. Jac powered down his sabers, realizing that Muz had no desire to harm the Brotherhood by killing him, that the whole point of drawing Jac to the ritual was to heal him of that wound. Tarax arrived too late to understand all of this, and saw what appeared to be Cotelin bested by Ashen. Screaming and diving at Muz with Ferran's Sword 'Revelation', he was dispatched by the Grand Master, his death triggering the Rite against their wishes.
With Cotelin healed but Tarax dead, Taldryan had more reason to hate Muz. With the division running deep from yet another civil war, Muz resigned himself to the understanding that the Sith were incapable of uniting the way that he was trying to teach. Leaving the throne to his Shadow Hand, he disappeared to Sadow space, occasionally advising the Consul and wreaking havoc on the battlefield.
Personality and Traits
Muz is physically tall for a Kyataran, like the rest of his bloodline. Built somewhat on the slender side, he has built a lot more muscle in his years with the constant struggle of the Brotherhood. Constant dueling with some of the most pre-eminent saberists in the brotherhood helps the Lord maintain his physicality and serves as only part of his training program. Known to many as 'the scholar of the saber', the training has paid off, going undefeated in the Combat Centre. With high cheekbones and neatly trimmed facial hair, Muz's face is distinctive even before one can see the black, featureless eyes that give the Lord a predatory and cruel visage. His dark brown hair is kept very long in the old Kyataran custom, reaching to his belt.
Having lost his left arm from the bicep down on a mission early in his brotherhood career, Muz has replaced the limb with a prosthetic of his own making, a reminder of the man's genius with technology that allowed him to take the position of Herald. Detailed and complex, the limb is crafted with all the care that he used in maing his own lightsabers. He normally has his robes crafted to leave the arm exposed, the armor plating said to be made of Cortosis or ultrachrome.
While many Sith Lords are known for utter ruthlessness and detachment, Muz follows another path. Many know the Dark Lord's family members, all powerful Dark Jedi in their own right, many having served on the Dark Council themselves. The Dark Lord does not eschew attachment as the Jedi do, having seen first-hand the aescetic order's refusal to form attachments as a weakness that is counterintuitive to his view of the Force. Emotions, Muz believes, are integral to the Force, and to avoid feelings would be to stifle his understanding of it. While many dark jedi refuse to acknowledge feelings of love for their family or others for fear of it being considered a weakness, Muz thinks of it instead as a strength.
Generally, Muz is calm and rational, cordial to those who show the same, and brutal to those who show no respect. Known for going to the clan holdings and talking with new members to help them with their studies of the Force, Muz is one of the less aloof Grand Masters that history has seen. His Krath nature encourages the Lord to delve deeply and seek perfect knowledge of certain things, specifically dueling, the force, and mechanical fabrication, from his prosthetic arm and Solari's body to weapons like the Black Lion blaster and the scores of lightsabers he has built for the brotherhood, and he can talk for hours on these subjects, provided that there is an interested and engaged audience.
Madness lies below the surface, though. The conditions of the Keibatsu's training at Eojin's hands had fractured his psyche and caused him to bury the immoral necessities into a separate personality, a demonic figure calling itself 'Ashen'. An embodiment of the man's rage and hatred without remorse, the personality would seize control of the body in stressful situations that required such actions that Muz's own psyche would not find permissible. Life in the Brotherhood led this to a constant struggle between the man and his own demon, finally crystallizing on the Alien Ship 'No Peace', when Muz found himself able to completely control this shard of his deviant psychology. Using the name 'Ashen' as his Darth name upon ascending to the Throne, Muz used the power that the name had, the stories of his madness to keep fear in the minds of those who would attack him.
- The Nagamichi Sword - A gift given by the people of Dearanor for killing the Sith Cor An-Jin and losing his commission with the Jedi, this curved and differentially tempered sword is eerily reminiscent of the katana of Kyataru. Extensive testing shows that the process that was used to create the sword has imbued it with several attributes that would typically require the use of Sith Alchemy, such as the blade's resistance to lightsaber blades and obscene sharpness. This weapon is not typically carried by the dark lord except in unusual circumstances.
- Black Lion Custom Blaster - Muz's custom built blaster pistol is often carried in a drop-down holster at his left thigh, or tucked into his sash when wearing formal robes. Fully automatic with an intense rate of fire and high-intensity blasts make this lethal weapon something that blaster-nuts drool over. The Lord has used it himself to destroy crowds of battle droids and swarms of killiks, preferring to use it on those who have no affinity for the Force at all. The design of the blaster, dubbed the 'Black Lion' by Shikyo Keibatsu, has been replicated by EbonArms and saw limited production in a more stripped down variation of the custom-built prototype.
The sabers Muz has been known to carry into battle
- Custom Lightsabers - Muz makes use of two lightsabers regularly, expertly crafted weapons using the pinnacle of crafts learned while he was Herald and parts accumulated from across the galaxy. Using strange alloys perfected by Muz himself, with aid from master alchemists, they are rumored to be made out of ultrachrome, beskar and cortosis, depending on who you ask. Muz himself will not divulge the metallurgy when asked. The sabers are just two of many he has been known to carry on occasion, and are his favorite, the etchings of flame subtle on the metal, with lushly chosen leathers used for the grips. Experts agree that the purple blade would have to use some sort of alchemically enhanced Hurrikan crystal, while the red seems to confound experts some, due to the rich bloodshine hue. He has also been seen to carry a number of other lightsabers, especially on the battlefield. Some of these have been recognized as trophies from fallen enemies, while others are totally unfamiliar and could be new constructions. As a master of Eight distinct lightsaber combat forms, Muz's preferred mode of combat seems to be with the saber, a natural extension from the Kyataran Sword culture.
•Kuroshin Castle - The ancestral ruins of the Keibatsu family were retrofit, a great deal of underground construction utilized to make this ancient and seemingly abandoned keep a completely modernized fortress. Including many rooms for the various Keibatsu family members as well as training facilities and barracks for the Nihilgenia, Kuroshin often serves as Muz's primary residence, and it is here where his trophy room of many fallen foes' sabers is kept.
- Amahara Castle - As Lord of the Keibatsu, the ruling family of Kyataru, Muz has control of Amahara Castle in Inazawa, the capital building for Shuuyoujo. The Castle grounds is a large estate in the middle of a rapidly modernizing city, with private shipyards and a large training facility. Having been fortified over the years, the Keibatsu have modernized the castle itself using less obtrusive technologies, even going so far as to redesign the defense batteries to look like more traditional Kyataran cannon.
•The Fallen Spear - This Autochthonian prototype pocket carrier was gifted to Muz for services rendered to one of their dignitaries. Muz often is aboard the ship, and spends more nights in his luxurious quarters here than not, due to his duties keeping him in motion a great deal of the time. Commodore Darius Blackwind commands the ship for Muz, and a legion of Nihilgenia help man it. A number of Autoch innovations keep this ship uniquely ideal for Muz's uses. Muz's quarters aboard the Fallen Spear are known to have a wall with a great many lightsaber trophies, said to be the basis for many of the lord's designs for lightsabers for the Brotherhood's armory. Also carried aboard the Fallen Spear is the Kenshin, a salvaged and upgraded Actis ETA-2 Interceptor from the Clone Wars.
•Ebon Flame - Over the years since joining the Brotherhood, Muz has taken steps to increase his contacts and wealth. Having capitalized on many of unique circumstances has led him to control a corporation named the 'Ebon Flame'. This parent corporation is directly responsible for many sub-companies, which generally act independently. The overarching corporation is rather small, having only a few dozen employees, largely accountants and clerical staff. Offices are maintained in Coruscant, Demilla City on Ralltiir, and a new building is under construction in Inazawa on Kyataru.
- EbonArms - The largest of the companies that fall under the banner of Ebon Flame is EbonArms. Having been started during Muz's time in the Autochthonian Navy as a black market smuggling operation, the company went more legitimate with time. Having used Autoch and Core World Weapons designers to create more effective weaponry, the company became known for high-end equipment. While much of the EbonArms products sit in the gun cases of wealthy sportsmen, several private security forces are outfitted with the very expensive and exclusive weapons. The Keibatsu's armed force, the Nihilgenia have been known to be equipped with EbonArms material. Headquartered near Demilla City on Ralltiir, with offices in Darrow on Autoch and in Inazawa on Kyataru.
- Gilmarin Jewelers - Having access to many Adegan Mines is a necessity for any Herald. However, only the finest and purest crystals are usable as focusing crystals in lightsabers. The crystals that do not make this cut are heavily prized for jewelry by high society and the elite. Selling the chaff gems to certain discreet dealers, Muz did a great deal of business with this company. Gilmarin Jewelry was purchased by Muz from Rog Gilmarin's widow, after her husband had died of old age. The Company had two stores, their original storefront and gem cutting estate on Ralltiir, and a more high-end showroom in a Coruscanti high-rise penthouse, which also included two additional floors of living space, which Muz had secured and retains as private apartments for himself and his agents on Coruscant.
Muz has served in many posts throughout the Brotherhood and in his home clan, Naga Sadow. His influence in guiding new policies and helping the clan to grow can be seen still, the result of a dynamic teaming with Xanos Zorrixor, with whom he works quite well. Serving as Proconsul of Naga Sadow, Left Hand of Justice as well as Praetor to the Herald, Muz was instrumental in many projects, including the implementation of the Warbanner Project. Throughout his consequential reign as Herald, Muz has been responsible for many of the improvements that are used by the membership. Most notable were the use of new Robes, the Lightsaber Combat Guide and creation of better options with an all-new Lightsaber Creation Interface. From Herald, Muz was named as Deputy Grand Master and finally Grand Master, where he broke the record for length of term.
In addition to creating many Custom Lightsabers for various members, Muz created graphics for a new Lightsaber Creation Interface to be used by any member ranked DJK or higher. The Creation tool also unlocks additional saber designs with ranks gained beyond Dark Jedi Knight. At the rank of SBL, OE, or KE, members are allowed to select certain Saber-staff and dual lightsaber designs. Hundreds of options are available through the use of this tool, which is expanded regularly.
Lightsaber Combat Guide
As a supplement to a member's character sheet for the Antei Combat Center, Muz (along with others) created a guide to understanding the many specific styles of lightsaber combat, providing a in-depth resource for members more interested in the ways of combat. Muz has also penned an 'Advanced Lightsaber Studies' course that is available through the Shadow Academy.
When the existing robes of the brotherhood had to be replaced, Muz began work on a previously unprecedented project to replace them. He created a variety of Robes, drastically expanding on the planned project of the previous Herald, Cyris. With different levels of customization available depending on your Rank, over 200 different robes available for members. Custom Robes were at one point made available to any member serving on the Dark Council as well. Prior to this project, members had no selections available, regardless of rank or order.
The Grant of Arms refit created the Warbanner project under Kaine Mandaala, with the primary design by Cyris Oscura. Muz facilitated a huge portion of the changeover, filling requests to open the project to general membership in quick time. In addition, several upgrades and variations have been designed by Muz and are pending release.
Muz has also been known for his work with logos, having designed several clan, house and battleteam logos. A prize few have also been able to get custom character images from Muz, for general use and the Wikipedia.
Hand To Hand Combat Guide
Further helping the membership of the Brotherhood refine it's martial prowess, Muz and his trusted lieutenant Shin'ichi worked to create another Holocron for the combat styles that peppered the universe. This holocron, called the Hand to Hand Combat Guide, has a great deal of information for the budding warriors of the Brotherhood. Muz has also authored a Shadow Academy course to help people understand the intricacies of combat.
With the majority of the unofficial clan-specific force powers seeming to be duplicated by the Force Powers system put into place under Sarin, and others simply unrealistic in this universe, Muz set about the business of granting the Clans actual force powers that would be possible for the members to keep as trademarks for their own clans. Granting these powers to the membership after the end of the Ninth Great Jedi War, the clans chose the powers in the order of their placing during that war.
Work in Progress
Muz had worked for the vast majority of his time in the Brotherhood on a possessions project, a wide reaching system for credits and items, including ships and personal equipment. With the broad scope of such a project, it has undergone several sweeping changes, and has yet to be completed due to the drastic amount of time required of coders to implement.
- The name 'Muz Ashen' is an obvious corruption of Musashi, the famed samurai and author of the 'Book of Five Rings'. The famed samurai was known for his use of two katana at once, much as Muz uses two lightsabers.
- The Character of Muz Ashen was developed as a character for a Fanfilm project that never saw production. The character was at that time frame, still a member of the New Jedi Order.
- Muz is said to reside in Kuroshin Castle on Kyataru. The name 'Kuroshin' means 'Dark Heart' in Japanese.
- Muz's eyes were purple before being charred black by the Enhanced Tu'Kata he fought. On rare occasions, one can see the purple in Muz's eyes, even now, but only when he uses healing powers.
- Muz is the only person to have beaten a reigning Grand Master, Jac Cotelin, in the Antei Combat Center. He did this when he was merely a Pontifex.
- Korras served as Muz's mentor for a few weeks as he finished his Knight Trials, but there are only four people that Muz has ever called 'Master': Eojin Quon-Shen, Jac Cotelin, Sarin, and Kaine Mandaala.
- Like many Krath, Muz was once considered one of the Marked of the Wanderer, but has moved away from those teachings under the tutelage of Grand Master Sarin.
- While Muz spent 8 years (in character) as Grand Master, he never once sat on the Iron Throne, believing it to be somehow cursed.
- Muz, following Kaine's lead, signs his notes with