Ahnk sighed and leaned against the wall. “Very well. Say what you need to say.”
“Well, I've fought Sith.” Irtar began. His mind flashed to the battle against Dehoir in the caves, and the Nightsister in the alley. He thought of the murder in their eyes, and the ease of their cruelty.
“I've been in some of their places in my time.” His mind flashed to the ruined temple that haunted his nightmares. A half remembered figment of a memory.
“I've also met Jedi, pure and some not quite so pure.” Ahnk, Leia, Vodo, and so many others came to mind from his time. “And it's just the... feel, y'know? You go to a place strong in the Dark Side, it just feels so...”
Cold? Irtar thought, as the hairs rose on the back of his neck.
“Feels so evil?” Ahnk finished the unspoken thought. “Every action leaves a mark, Irtar; every brush a stroke, every blade a scar. What you're feeling is the memory of what once was.”
“Life... leaves imprints on what exists behind.” He said solemnly, gesturing to the world around them. “In the rocks, and the trees. You walk into a field where hundreds were murdered, you feel darkness. But the darkness isn't in the canvas... it's in the painter.”
“But that's just the thing!” Irtar exclaimed, his mind thinking of all the things he had seen and endured. “If the Force flows through us all, and in everything, then it must mean that it takes parts of us with it. The Force feeds off of us, as we feed off of it. I think.”
“And so, if the Force takes parts of us, maybe it begins to define itself by those who use it. So, I'm thinking more like clay than a canvas. No, that's not right.... uhm...” Irtar paused as he tried to think of some sort of analogy that would match the thoughts in his head. “More like... a bathroom rug. It soaks it all in? Ugh. Even that isn't really right....”
Ahnk watched silently, not speaking up yet, so Irtar continued. “The Force may have been a blank something at some point, but it has been defined by those of us who use it. For good, or for evil.”
“And, because of that, the Force might become a balanced shade of gray, but it'll never be blank again.” Irtar slowed down, wondering if anything he said had made sense. Ahnk’s face remained unreadable. “If... that makes any sense.”
“When you fight a Sith, they act the extremes of their personality, just as much as a Jedi does on the other end. There's got to be some reason that people in tune with the Force are like that, isn't there?”
Ahnk continued to look on silently, judging and measuring every word. Irtar didn’t really have anything else to say, and sighed, exasperated. He knew what he had felt and seen, it was just so hard to put to words. Suddenly, Irtar felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up.
“You're thinking too much, Irtar.” Ahnk finally replied, with a small smile on his face. “Think about... water. If a Sith swims in water, it's still water. It doesn't become dark water, shadow water, anti water, or anything like that. The Force is much like water in its ebbs and flows, but what the force really is, is energy. And energy is inherently without bias. It's a process of atomic subdivision, fusion and recombination, but it exists as energy. Fields and waves of it, all around us, but not tainted by anything.”
“You think of The Force too much like it is a living, breathing thing.” Ahnk said with a shrug. “The truth is, it isn't. It seems that way. But what makes The Force alive is the lifeforms within it. They shape it... change the flow in various ways. But the basics of what it is never change. It's a field of energy, and it can no more be tainted by good than it can be tainted by evil. It simply exists, in neutrality, in and of itself.”
“Yes, but even with energy it can be positively or negatively charged. Water can be purified and polluted.” Irtar replied, picking apart the example. Everything has some sort of opposite state, whether one calls it one thing or another. The semantics of it is that the given state still exists, as something separate.
Ahnk actually paused for a moment at that. He had obviously never thought of it that way. So, he took a moment to reshuffle his example to better get across his point.
“The positive or negative charge of energy is relative to what is around it.” Ahnk began with his revised metaphor. “It's drawn about and changed by the orbits of those that swim within it. The Force works the same way. You see it as darkness because someone fills it with darkness.”
“Think.” He offered, encouraging his apprentice to join into this current line of thinking. “Lightning is just lightning, but for some reason, we consider force lightning to be something only a Sith would use. Why? Because only a Sith uses The Force directly as a weapon to kill. Only they have the hatred needed to turn energy into a weapon like that. That's what we tell ourselves. In truth, any Jedi can make lightning, make fire, just as easily as anyone else. The energy is energy is energy, what we do with it makes it more. If we made a web of lightning to catch orphans leaping from a burning building, would we be Sith, or simply good samaritans?”
The image is what struck Irtar first. It was so incredulous and insane, Irtar couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it. “....Actually that sounds incredibly twisted and cruel.”
“Maybe.” Ahnk said dismissively, sending the conversation back on to a serious note. “The truth is, lightning is only as destructive as you make it. You think a forcefield is any different from a bolt of lightning? The only difference is modulation.”
“Irtar...” He was trying to think of some way to gently get a point across. To say something about a person’s character and not sound insulting was something hard to do. “Sometimes you miss the forest for the tress, and sometimes you miss the trees for the forest. You need to expand your viewpoint to consider things less as your initial impression of them, and more as they actually are. Experience will temper your opinions; until then, you just need to open your mind to possibilities beyond that which you think to be true.”
“Who knows. Maybe. You're the Master in all this.” Irtar said with a smirk, shrugginf off the comment with a layer of humour. “All I've got going for me is being a glorified Force wielding mechanic.”
“As I said, experience.” Ahnk replied, clasping Irtar on the shoulder before turning back inside the temple. The two made their way back inside, to the heart and the warmth of the fire.
“The truth is, I admire that you believe in good and evil.” Ahnk commented, in a matter of fact way. “When I realized the truth, I resented the Jedi. But they believe in morality. When you've lived as long as I have... you begin to wonder if morality is a myth as well.”
“Well, my father always told me that sometimes you just have to believe in something.” Irtar said with a smile, thinking of home. It would be nearing harvest time at home. He wondered if they were still having problems with the motivator in the tractor, of it they decided to just buy a new one since he was no longer around to fix things. His mind wandered there for a moment, but was quickly back.
“My father told me not to bet on seven. I'm not sure which advice is more practical or useful, but if I were to consider it optimistically, I'd hope that yours will win out in the end.” Ahnk added, his voice gaining a bit of an edge. “But as a student of human behaviour, I must admit that my chips are lined otherwise.”
“Well, as you said, it's really all on your outlook.” Irtar replied in a half mocking tone, a small grin on his face.
“Aha. So you ARE learning afterall.” Ahnk replied in kind, the pair of them sitting at the hearth. Ahnk grabbed the tea kettle that had been steeping there and poured a couple of cups worth.
“Let's not get ahead of ourselves....” Irtar said with a wink as he took the steaming cup offered to him, blowing on it gently for the substance to cool down.
“Either way, I think it's important that you know Irtar, that The Force is just The Force.” Ahnk said, as he took a sip from the scalding cup of tea. “It can't make you good, powerful, or evil. Those are going to be the results of your choices. If you use The Force to accomplish it, then so be it, but you must still hold yourself accountable for your own actions. The same is true of everyone else.”