|“||Her words smell of honey and taste of poison.||„|
|~ Aloysius Kallig on Darth Zash|
Darth Zash, originally known simply as Zash, is a major antagonist in the BioWare MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. She is human female Sith witch who lived during the era of the Great Galactic War and the resulting Cold War. As a Force-strong member of the Sith Order, she was trained in the tradition of the Sith Inquisitors under the auspicies of the reconstituted Sith Empire.
She is the main antagonist of chapter 1 of the Sith Inquisitor storyline, and Khem Val’s story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and determinedly the secondary antagonist of the Knights of the Eternal Throne update flashpoint The Nathema Conspiracy.
Studying the Dark Arts
The woman known as Zash was a Human Female alive during the era of the Great Galactic War between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic. She hailed from the dominion of the Empire and was inducted into the Sith Order due to her impressive Force-sensitivity. Zash trained as an acolyte Inquisitor on the Sith holy world of Korriban, where she explored the planet's tombs and studied the secrets of the dark side of the Force. During her time there, she met and was judged by the elderly Sith Lord Spindrall; a man considered by many to be a crazed hermit, but by Zash to be a prophet. She was eventually granted the rank of apprentice and armed herself with a red-bladed lightsaber that she used throughout her tutelage. Her training ultimately took her to Dromund Kaas, the capital planet of the Sith Empire. There, she met the cyborg Sith Darth Skotia, who found her duplicitous and overly-ambitious. The two developed a bitter rivalry that saw Skotia repeatedly attempt to block Zash's progress and ascension.
Zash ultimately graduated from her apprenticeship and was granted the title of Sith Lord. As Lord Zash, she served directly under Darth Skotia, who in turn served beneath Darth Thanaton. Much like Skotia, Thanaton despised Zash and detested her apparent lack of respect for the history and traditions of the Sith Empire. Together with their servants, the two Dark Lords worked to confound Zash's plans, but the young Sith managed to stay ahead of their political games by gaining favor with the Empire's ruling Dark Council. Zash's acuity helped her to earn chambers within the Sith Sanctum of the Imperial Citadel; an honor largely reserved only for Dark Lords. Additionally, she was given a role as a supervisor of acolyte training at the Sith Academy on Korriban. In that capacity, she was granted chambers in the academy's pyramid and authority over the institution's Overseers. Her ambition and successes continually angered her superiors and peers, including Lord Khreusis, who also held dominion on Korriban. Zash's designs eventually brought her into contact with The Circle, a group of highly-talented Nikto computer slicers. Zash hired the group for a special project and worked out a deal with their leader Bolan that involved the Sith Lord paying for their efforts with a favor. Lord Zash's work in Sith studies also made her familiar with the Imperial Reclamation Service, which was a branch of the Imperial Military that focused on the recovery and study of ancient artifacts and lore.
While serving as a Lord of the Sith, Zash continued her study of ancient Force rituals and Sith magic. She was renown for her interest in the arcane and mystic and became extremely powerful in the Force as a result of her research. She succeeded in compiling a large library of Sith teachings which included the complete collection of the late Naga Sadow's writings from Yavin 4. She also attempted to retrieve the holocron of the great Marka Ragnos by sacrificing seven tuk'ata hounds and eating their hearts, but was unsuccessful in the endeavor. As Lord Zash eagerly accrued greater Force power, her body became corrupted by the energies of the dark side. Her youthful appearance was taken from her by rapid aging and her health began to fail. She was able to hide her now-gangrenous skin, yellow eyes, and frail body behind a Force mask that presented only a young and vital Zash to the outside world, but her health continued to deteriorate. She discovered that the corruption of the dark side had forced her into a state of terminal illness, and so she set out to find a way to prevent her impending death.
Search for an Apprentice
|“||Your work so far—in bringing back this holocron and now the text from Tulak Hord's tomb—has me intrigued. I am watching your progress eagerly. I have high hopes for you acolyte. Sky high.||„|
|~ Lord Zash to the young acolyte.|
Approximately five years after the end of the Great Galactic War with the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant and the onset of the galactic Cold War, Zash began to research the works of the ancient Sith Lord Tulak Hord. Hord, who had been a ruler of the ancient Sith Empire, developed a powerful ritual prior to his death that would apparently allow the Sith sorcerer conducting it to transfer his or her spirit into a new body. Further research revealed to Zash that the ritual required a series of artifacts that had once belonged to Hord himself. The relics were scattered across the galaxy; some in hiding places chosen by Hord himself, others in the possession of thieves and vagabonds. Although she was prepared to hunt them down herself, she chose not to in order to avoid suspicion from Darth Skotia. She did attempt to access one artifact that was sealed within the innermost chamber of the forbidden Dark Temple on Dromund Kaas, but Skotia, who held the key to the Temple, refused to allow Zash entry.
In spite of the hurdle Skotia represented, a possible solution soon presented itself to Zash. A group of Sith Lords, ambitious for power in light of the Sith Emperor's reclusive behavior during the previous years, defied their Emperor's mandate and breached the Dark Temple, hoping to access the hidden power within. Although the Lords managed to evade the Emperor's notice, they quickly fell victim to the ancient spirits entombed within the Temple's crypts. The most powerful of the spirits—Tulak Hord's old nemesis, Aloysius Kallig—was unaware of his own death, and so used the power of the Force to possess and destroy the minds of the invading Sith. Although this development apparently made the journey into the Temple impossible for Zash, she received a vision from the Force in the form of a dream. In the dream, Zash saw a young Sith apprentice humble him or herself before Kallig's marauding spirit; the action placated the wraith, which then permitted the Sith student to access Hord's relic. Zash couldn't discern the sex, species, or identity of the apprentice, but understood that the individual was of low birth.
Trusting her vision to be an omen of the future, Zash moved quickly to find an apprentice that could fulfill her prophecy in the Dark Temple and serve as a new host body. She travelled to Korriban and tasked one of the academy's Overseers, the human Harkun, with collecting and testing a group of Sith Acolytes. Believing that she would most likely find her prophesied student from the lowest classes of Sith society, she demanded that Harkun only cull potential apprentices from the Empire's slave pens. Although the Overseer initially complied by gathering six uninitiated Force-sensitive former slaves, his own prejudices against aliens and the low-born caused him to recruit a seventh potential apprentice; the highly-trained and high-born Sith Pureblood, Ffon Althe, although he hid this seventh acolyte from Lord Zash. Zash, wanting to find only the most qualified student to become her apprentice and eventual vessel, asked that Harkun put the prospects through trials that tested their strength, talent, dedication, and understanding of the Force in relation to the Code of the Sith. To that end, she ordered that their first trial be a visit to Lord Spindrall, followed by treasure-hunting missions into the tombs of Marka Ragnos and Tulak Hord. Like many Sith, Zash used her hopeful apprentices to complete tasks and collect relics that she was either unable or too busy to complete. One such task, the retrieval of Marka Ragnos's holocron, was completed by an acolyte who had drawn particular distaste from Harkun. The acolyte's success in a challenge that Zash herself had failed years before caught her attention, which was further piqued when the same acolyte managed to collect a long-hidden text from within Tulak Hord's tomb.
Zash decided to introduce herself to the former slave, and so intercepted the young acolyte outside of Harkun's chambers upon their return from Hord's tomb. Zash praised the acolyte's successes and reassured the young learner that, despite Harkun's very obvious bigotry and favoritism, it was she who made the final decision regarding her future apprentice and not the Overseer. Zash allowed Harkun to create some of the remaining trials on his own, but commanded that the acolytes' final task be to journey into the Tomb of Naga Sadow, where Tulak Hord had left a map sealed in an inner chamber. For centuries, the map had rested undisturbed, guarded by an ancient Dashade shadow killer locked in a stasis field. As no Sith in thousands of years had been able to breach the chamber holding the Dashade and the map, the task appeared to be impossible, but the text gathered by the young acolyte from Tulak Hord's tomb indicated otherwise.
Dealing with Darth Skotia
After the Inquisitor arrived on Dromund Kaas, they told Zash that they had encountered Darth Skotia in the spaceport and passed his message that he knew what she was up to. Zash revealed to the Inquisitor that they could not begin their plans unless Skotia was dead, and that she could not be the one to kill him without attracting unwanted attention from the Dark Council. Lord Zash sent the Inquisitor to secure a cyborg prototype disruptor she had ordered to be created, along with a Trandoshan tablet that would turn Skotia's Trandoshan bodyguards against him. When her apprentice succeeded in retrieving the two objects, she told her apprentice to go to Skotia's quarters and kill him, while she went to the local cantina to have an alibi. The Inquisitor defeated Skotia, but his last words foreshadowed Zash's future actions, and warned the Inquisitor that Zash spent years plotting his death and that the inquisitor would face the same.
When the Inquisitor arrived at the cantina to inform Zash of Skotia's death, she received a holocall from Darth Thanaton, Skotia's former superior. Thanaton knew that Zash was somehow responsible for Skotia's death and asked to meet her. After the meeting, she was promoted to the title of Darth, and thus was now known as Darth Zash. While the Inquisitor was across the galaxy, Zash undertook other apprentices, such as Corrin and Kaal, without the Inquisitor's initial notice.
Tulak Hord's Ritual
|“||Listen, apprentice. Various Force rituals have helped me maintain my appearance and some of my vitality. But inevitably, life fades. I'm dying, apprentice. My will, my intellect, my spirit are as lively as ever, but this body is dying.||„|
|~ Darth Zash to her apprentice.|
After all of Tulak Hord's artifacts were secured, Zash asked her apprentice if they could meet in the Dark Temple, where the ritual would be commenced. However, she denied to reveal to the Inquisitor any details about the ritual, other than that her apprentice "will be more powerful than (her apprentice) can possibly imagine". When the Inquisitor arrived, Zash gave her apprentice the title of Lord and revealed the truth of her condition, and confirmed their suspicions and those of the ancient Sith Lord Aloysius Kallig. She continued to talk sweetly to the Inquisitor while attempting to do the ritual. However, the ritual was interrupted by Khem Val, who out of loyalty to the Inquisitor, interfered, causing Zash to transfer her spirit to his body instead, much to her chagrin. She ranted to the Inquisitor about how her plans, that took years to plan, were ruined and was furious that she now served her old apprentice, due to her being in the body of their Dashade servant. However, she and Khem shared use of the same body, and neither had full control.
Life in Khem Val's Body
|“||Apprentice! What have you done to me?!||„|
|~ Darth Zash after accidentally possessing Khem Val's body.|
After the ritual and being bound in Khem Val's body, Zash's personality would sometimes emerge to talk to the Inquisitor, now known as Lord Kallig. After hearing that Darth Thanaton wanted to speak to them, Zash warned them to be wary of Thanaton, giving her own experiences as an example. Being bound by a Dashade's oath of loyalty and perhaps her desire to learn, Zash researched about ancient Sith rituals that would help Kallig take control of the powers of the ghosts of Sith Lords. Zash expressed her jealousy at the fact that Kallig had become a member of the Dark Council, by the name "Darth Nox," before she did.
As the constant conflict for control of Khem's body continued, Zash decided that it was time to dispose of the Dashade once and for all. Discovering the ancient artifact known as the Rakata Box, she convinced her former apprentice to travel to it's location and lend her their power so she would have the strength to kill Khem Val by trapping him in the artifact. Though skeptical at first, due to their master's betrayal on Dromund Kaas, Zash further convinced them to help by promising that when she had full control, she would allow them access to powerful ancient artifacts, something a "brute" like Khem Val could not provide. After they arrive to the Rakata box's location, depending on Darth Nox's decision, either Darth Zash or Khem Val are killed during the ritual.
|“||Darth Zash is arrogant and reckless. The reckless have a way of defeating themselves in the end. When she finally self-destructs, be careful not to get caught up in the blast.||„|
|~ Darth Thanaton's warning about Darth Zash.|
Darth Zash was known for being secretive and cunning. She was also very patient; having waited years for the opportunity to have Skotia killed, and waited 5 years to find the perfect apprentice for her ritual. Like all Sith, however, she betrayed other fellow Sith. Ironically, this trait would be the cause of her downfall.
Zash had a huge hunger for knowledge regardless of whatever the cost which angered her superior Darth Thanaton who found her very reckless. Zash's hunger was so great that she was either unconcerned or unaware (or both) of the damages of what her research and rituals did to her body. It is noted she has a deep fascination with reading and is very resourceful in her time spent as living in the body of Khem Val.
In rare cases she often explodes in rage but majority of time's she is often calm and very kind to the player, however Harkun says to the young acolyte that if they did came across Zash, she'd kill them. Whether this was to scare the acolyte or is true is unknown.
It is implied that Zash had aspired to become a member of the Dark Council, as she showed jealousy when Kallig was made a Dark Councilor.
|“||I very nearly changed my mind about the ritual, you know. I genuinely like you. But it was that or death, and I don't like anyone that much.||„|
|~ Darth Zash to her former apprentice.|
During Kallig's time as her apprentice, Zash showed a friendly demeanor to them. Despite her betrayal in the Dark Temple, she later admits some guilt to her former apprentice; she admitted she genuinely liked them and nearly canceled the ritual, but the choice of life or death convinced her to make her choice. Zash's other apprentices told Kallig that Zash had always spoken highly of Kallig. Ashara Zavros also tells Kallig something similar if the player has enough affection with her. Whether this was genuine or manipulation on Zash's part is unknown.
|“||My master, the witch is quiet, but I am uneasy. She is scheming something, I think. Like the visions of Tulak Hord's remains she sent to lure me into her trap, her silence is a lie.||„|
|~ Khem Val.|
When Zash's five year long plan ended in failure her frustration exploded and at first times found it hard to adjust to her new life. However later she would say that she has grown accustomed to the body and admire's the strength it has.
It's unknown if the ritual she performed to place her consciousness in another body work's once but it seems very likely since Zash has to use another method. During the game she becomes frustrated over her partial control over the body and so would research into finding a way so she could be in control. Eventually they find the Rakata box which can solve this problem and its the choice of the player if she should stay or go or the player does nothing and lets them fight for it.
Powers and Abilities
|“||Ah, we will accomplish so much once I am in command of that wonderful vessel of yours. Just hold still.||„|
|~ Darth Zash.|
Darth Zash mastered many of the ordinary Sith power's and her thirst for knowledge helped her gain far more power but the rituals she performed would result in body dying at a fast rate.
Nevertheless she learned many rituals to help maintain her appearance as a youthful Sith and to last far longer, but the rituals sadly to her dismay would not last forever.
- Bioware wrote a similar character to another of their games, Flemeth, an eldery woman, who keeps living thanks to possessing a body of a younger person.