5,000 BBY, Korriban
|Chronological and political information|
“The Force is not a power meant as a problem-solver or daily aid. The Force is the means through which one can explore the potentials of the self and discover the raw power hovering at your very fingertips. The Force is the supernova that fuels our reality, and I myself have been uplifted to that plain of existence. I can now command the power only a god could possess. Empires will rise and fall before my people's eyes, but our power will shape the future. That is the way of the Sith, and that is what we offer.”—Har'esh Volen explaining his beliefs on the nature of the Force
Har'esh Volen was a male Pureblood Sith Lord and a sorcerer who lived during the time of the first Sith Empire, serving as one of the ten Lords who made up the Sith Council. During his time on the council, Volen ruled over the planet Athiss. Originally trained by the Sith Lord Garnal Fentek, Volen used his ambition and knowledge to position himself at the very peak of Sith society. Following the death of Dark Lord of the Sith Marka Ragnos, Volen was among those who supported Naga Sadow's rise to power, a challenger for Ragnos' title. During the Great Hyperspace War, Volen chose to limit his direct influence in the war in order to study the more mysterious and esoteric powers of the dark side, so as to further the Sith's ability to wage war on the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic.
Under the direct orders of the council, he would forward his teachings to promising Sith warriors and students. By the end of the war, Volen had been convinced by Ludo Kressh, a rival of a Naga Sadow, to support his splinter faction and betray the Empire's leader. When Kressh and his traitors were destroyed by Sadow, Volen was able to successfully cover up his treachery, though not long after this, Republic and Jedi forces stormed the Sith homeworld of Korriban in order to eradicate what was left of their empire, with Volen being killed in the following conflict with a Jedi Master after a long and heavy struggle.
Though Volen maintained a posthumous legacy as an powerful Sith Lord, he was also remembered for his mastery of Sith alchemy. However, what many remembered him for was his foretelling of the rise of the Sith'ari, Darth Bane. As one of the most powerful scholars of the ancient Sith, Volen's teachings continued to be applied far into the galaxy's future. Even as late as 137 ABY, his knowledge was still sought out by many Sith and archeologists, most notably by Darth Krayt, the founder and ruler of the new Sith Order that reigned supreme over the galaxy.
“I was born into a lineage of proud warriors and hunters, reputed for their particularly unique and aggressive methods of catching prey. By the time I was spawned, my family had already established a tradition of raising promising young sons as warriors, though I obviously stood aside from that path. I turned away from my family's primitive ways so I could embark on a journey towards greatness that would embed my name in Sith history. And just look how powerful I have become now since then.”—Har'esh Volen
Born on the planet Korriban around 5,115 BBY, Har'esh Volen was descendant from a line of pure Sith, one of the few that had not interbred with the Human Dark Jedi who had arrived on the Sith homeworld. Due to their genetic purity, his ancestors adhered to a paranoid belief that their family heritage must strictly avoid interconnections with other species. His earlier relatives had been renowned warriors, though it was quickly noticed that Volen lacked the natural affinity and interest in hunting that was shared by his forefathers. Because of this, Har'esh was treated with contempt by his aggressive and battle-hardened father, which resulted in Volen despising him in return. Volen was regularly ridiculed and beaten by his abusive parent, resulting in Volen's bitterness and hatred of him building up over the years.
Very early on, however, Volen was discovered to be a Force-sensitive after he had been pressured by his father to explore one of the deadly caves near their settlement. His father had forced him to do this so he could kill a beast to prove his worth to the family. As he descended through the cave, Volen was attacked by a Tuk'ata, which forced him to flee back to the surface. Upon ascending out of the cave, Volen fell upon his fear and hatred as the beast pursued him, and used the Force to crush the body of the Tuk'ata.
A group of nearby settlers witnessed this event, and fearfully went to report this sighting to a local Sith Lord named Garnal Fentek, who personally ruled the vicinity. Impressed with the alleged capabilities shown by someone as young as Volen, the boy was taken away from his family by Fentek to be trained in the ways of the dark side. Not long after, Volen's new master took him in as his apprentice.
Now learning at the foot of a Sith Lord, Volen's power was very quickly honed by his master, who regularly taught him Sith traditions and rituals, and educated him in the ways of the dark side. As Fentek was considered something of an oddity by his fellow Sith, Volen himself began expressing characteristics of his mentor's maverick ways. As Volen continued to impress his peers, Fentek decided that he would have to take his training a step further, resulting in the two leaving Korriban to travel around the nearby conquered planets in Sith Space. On numerous different worlds, Volen and Fentek visited countless Sith Lords, who would assist in training Volen in specific areas of the dark side.
Additionally throughout their travels, Fentek would also set a number of challenges that appeared suicidal, often forcing the young Sith to rely on nothing but his skill and willpower. A notable test was when the two visited the world of Malachor V, where Volen was abandoned and stranded in its depths, forcing him to live on his own for a month. Volen would survive this test and prove his worth to his master when he returned with the heads of a two predatory beasts. After many more years spent traveling the Sith' spacial territory, the two returned to Korriban to finish Volen's training and consolidate his power in their race's hierarchy.
Not long after returning, Fentek presented him with an exotic bird that he had collected during their journeys. He pointed out that the bird used its alluring chirp to attract unsuspecting prey into its nest, then use its beautiful appearance to lower their remaining defenses before striking it down with its poison-coated beak. Fentek went on to reveal that the purpose of the lesson was to teach the importance and usefulness of deception, specifically the act of appealing to the enemy before quickly drawing them into a deathtrap. This lesson would have a strong impact on Volen's personal outlook on Sith society and his own personal beliefs.
While his abilities developed further, Volen's growth was closely monitored by Fentek due to his surprising potential. At the peak of his training, Volen developed a strong and unsatisfiable hunger for knowledge, desiring to one day be remembered by future Sith with respect and acclaim. As part of his final test, Volen was instructed to return to his home and kill the elderly man that was his father, which Volen did without hesitation. When his training was finally deemed complete, Volen slew Fentek and became a Sith Lord. Believing he had done well in training him, Volen ensured his tutor's death was quick and painless, as a way of thanking him for being such an efficient teacher.
Having finally become a lord, Volen was posed with a wealth of different paths to walk down in his quest for power and knowledge, though eventually chose to enter the backstabbing political circles that made up the hierarchy of the Sith Empire. After manipulating himself into a position of power in the empire, Volen became a Sith sorcerer, dwelling on some of the more mysterious aspects of the dark side. A keen scholar and philosopher, Volen would spend many decades learning the ways of the Force during the powerplays that occurred on Korriban, becoming reputed by future Sith for being one of the most powerful users of Force drain and Sith alchemy of his time.
As Volen further studied the mysteries of the Force, he authored a series of scrolls to keep track of what he had learned. Amongst all his writings, his most prominent piece was "The Lures of Passion", the content of which would be studied by Sith Lords for centuries to come and would become invaluable to members of the Jedi Order in their critical analysis of the temptations of the dark side. Volen would also further his influence amongst the Sith by establishing connections with Marka Ragnos, the supreme ruler of the Sith Empire. By this time, Volen had worked himself onto the Sith Council, the governing body of the empire. Though Ragnos never trusted Volen, he kept the sorcerer around for his input and advice, using him as an counselor. During his time on the council, Volen became bitter rivals with a fellow Sith Lord named Horak-mul.
In his second year on the council, Volen foretold that there would be a time when the perfect being would rise and destroy the Sith, only to rebuild it and make it stronger than ever before. This being was referred to as the Sith'ari. Volen's prediction would not be fulfilled for many centuries to come. Like many Lords on the Sith Council, Volen was in control of number of worlds ruled by the Sith Empire, one of which included Athiss, a planet he personally controlled with an iron fist. On Athiss, he established a shadowy network of spies and assassins, who he would use to eradicate his rivals and opponents.
Though many have speculated that Volen did plan to overthrow Ragnos and take his place as ruler, it has been more commonly accepted amongst historians that Volen considered himself more a follower than a leader, who would rather use the connections offered to him to further his research instead of taking on the challenge of managing an empire. However, when the rivalry between the two Sith Lords Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh caught the eye of many high-ranking Sith, Volen believed that either of them would have the potential to be the successors of Ragnos, motivating him to meditate over which of the two he would benefit most under. In the end, he chose Sadow as the one to pin his hopes on, though remained mindful of the prospects Kressh could show as ruler.
Around the time Marka Ragnos finally perished, which subsequently brought an end to the Golden Age of the Sith, Volen had earned much respect as both a Sith Lord and a member of the Sith Council. Volen was amongst the many who attended the funeral of Marka Ragnos and was one of the twenty Sith Lords who helped conduct the burial ritual. In the midst of the funeral, a duel erupted between Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh for control and supremacy over the Sith Empire. Having finally made up his mind over who to side with, Volen deemed that Sadow would become the next ruler of the Sith.
Sadow emerged victorious after using the unwitting arrival of two Republic explorers, Gav and Jori Daragon, to gain political advantages. Volen then met with Sadow in private where pledged his full allegiance to him, which eventually guaranteed him a role as one of his aides and advisors in later years. However, he was totally unaware of Sadow's plans when he staged a situation that paint the two Daragons as spies planning a full-scale Republic invasion. This resulted in the Sith race panicking and rallying behind Sadow in his bid to combat the new threat. Following this, during a meeting of the Sith Council on the planet Ziost, Sadow declared himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith, with Volen being amongst the first to openly support him.
Great Hyperspace WarEdit
Though he entered the key political circles of the Empire once the Great Hyperspace War was declared against the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic, it was notable that Volen himself did not present himself on the battlefield as frequently as some of his fellow Sith Lords did, instead preferring to spend his time on Korriban, studying the dark side's teachings to further the power of the Sith Empire. Through rigorous study, Volen was able to improve and refine several Force techniques, which he would then pass onto a number of powerful and promising Sith apprentices and warriors so as to make the Empire's forces even deadlier.
During this time, Volen was approached by Ludo Kressh, Naga Sadow's rival, who tried to sway him to betray his leader and join his own faction. Feeling that Sadow was not creating the opportunities he had previously envisioned, Volen accepted Kressh's offer and secretly joined his supporters. As the war continued, Volen primarily served as a diplomat on the side of the Sith Empire. Well aware that neither side would negotiate a peace treaty, he instead attempted to blackmail Republic politicians into giving into the Sith's demands and surrendering to their power. Though he at times came close to shattering their willpower, the Republic ambassadors remained unyielding, bolstered by the Jedi who accommodated them. At some point during the war, Volen was instructed by Naga Sadow to aid in the construction of a superweapon named the Dark Reaper.
Whilst he remained on Korriban for the most part during the war, historical records uncovered by later Jedi historians suggested that Volen did serve as a battle leader during the Sith's attempted conquests of both Coruscant and Primus Goluud. In space battles, Volen was said to have commandeered a fearsome Derriphan-class battleship christened the Hâsk (The Anguish). During the invasion of Coruscant, Volen fought on the ground levels of the planet against the capitol's defenders, using the battle as an opportunity to exercise his mastery of the various dark powers he had studied. Backed by the power of Naga Sadow's battle meditation, Volen and his soldiers proved overwhelming. However, when Sadow's meditation was disrupted, the Republic managed to pull off a counter-attack, and though Volen attempted to rally the Sith forces, they were eventually overwhelmed. Abandoning his forces, Volen fled Coruscant and returned to Sith territory.
Eventually, however, he was called to aid in the battle fought over star of Primus Goluud, commanding Sith forces from the deck of his battered warship against the revitalized Republic Navy under the command of Empress Teta. Under the overall command of Naga Sadow, Volen attempted to reassemble the Sith forces and push forward, though his inadequacy as a leader prevented him from achieving this. As the tide violently turned against the Sith, Volen chose to again flee the battle and abandon his forces. Because of this, Volen avoided the fate that befell many combatants when Sadow triggered the solar flares of Primus Goluud to destroy everything in its nearby vicinity.
Volen then returned to Korriban where he was contacted by Ludo Kressh, who instructed him to have his remaining resources pooled into Kressh's fleet, which was planning to obliterate Naga Sadow and what was left of his forces over Korriban. Though he supported them, Volen chose to remain on the surface of the Sith homeworld rather than stand with Kressh, feeling this would benefit him if Sadow actually defeated Kressh. This decision ended up saving his life, as when Sadow returned and faced his rival's insurgence, he killed Kressh in a battle hosted over Korriban, effectively ending all major opposition to his rule. Having not been present when this had happened, Volen was able to successfully conceal his former allegiances and avoided the fate that befell the rebels when Sadow's fleet destroyed them.
However, this conflict proved ruinous for the Sith Empire. With its army weaekened even more, the Sith Empire's military was completely ravaged when the Empress Teta and her Koros fleet dropped out of hyperspace and attacked what was left of the Sith Empire. Naga Sadow himself also fled the battle and went into permanent exile on Yavin 4, leaving the Sith without a leader. In the brief period after this crushing defeat, Volen attempted to take control of what was left of the Sith Empire, though did not have enough time to consolidate his power when the Republic launched a full-scale invasion on Korriban in order to wipe out the remaining Sith strongholds.
Fleeing deep into the Shyrack caves beneath the Valley of the Sith Lords whilst Korriban was attacked, Volen attempted to hide away from the invaders and withstand the battle. Volen succeeded in remaining concealed for a time, though he was eventually discovered by a small number of Jedi who had been sent to clear out the catacombs beneath the valley. Deciding to make his final stand, Volen attacked the Jedi with all the power he could muster in a struggle that nearly brought the cave system down on top of them. After a long and intensive battle, a wounded Volen was killed by an esteemed Jedi Master and his body was consumed in a massive blast of dark side energy, though not before he murdered all but the one Jedi. The catacombs where he died would eventually become the site where his tomb was constructed. His personal belongings were later stored inside this tomb.
“Har'esh Volen was one of the ancient Sith Lords; among the most powerful ever seen in the original empire. Though more scholar than a warrior, Volen was still a most adept follower of the dark side, as expected of sorcerer of his caliber. The teachings he has left behind have given later Sith particularly keen insight into the more elusive qualities of Sith magic.”—Darth Sidious
Despite the fall of the Sith Empire, By 3,681 BBY, the remnants of Sith were proven to have survived the conflict, and the return to galaxy as the resurgent Sith Empire, which was thought defeated during the Great Hyperspace War. Headed by the centuries-old Sith Emperor, the revived Empire nearly completely conquered the galaxy.
Despite his death, Volen's legacy would live on for centuries. On Athiss, a planet that Volen had once ruled during his time on the Sith Council, the sorcerer was glorified and praised as a deity-like figure by a devoted Sith cult, which had banded together to honor the deceased Sith Lord not long after his death. This cult, whilst small, managed to survive countless centuries without disruption, though had long since died out by 43 ABY. The ruins of their ancient temples and ritual grounds were all that remained of Volen's loyal followers on Athiss. Many historians would later speculate that the cult itself originated from the mysterious spy network that Volen had established to deal with his political opponents. Whilst records of his life were surprisingly well-preserved, some were badly corrupted. One second-hand source identified him as a Sith Inquisitor named "Darth Volen," who lived during the events of the Cold War.
In addition, the Sith'ari prophecy that Volen had foretold eventually came true in the form of Darth Bane, who fulfilled it by first annihilating the Brotherhood of Darkness and then by instating the Rule of Two, which would produce a new line of Sith where only two existed at one time, a master and an apprentice. It was through this lineage that the Sith'ari prophecy was ultimately completed when the Sith gained domination over the galaxy in 19 BBY.
However, Volen's written work, The Lures of Passion, became universally recognized as an informative analysis of the temptation of the dark side. Many aspiring Sith read the book so as to further their immersion in the dark side, resulting in numerous copies being reprinted and preserved in a number of Sith academies. Even the Jedi Order itself felt the document's contents were enlightening, and kept a heavily edited version of it in their Jedi Archives on Coruscant. This edition was kept so as to gain a better understanding of the dark side's temptation.
Prior to his death, Har'esh Volen created a personal holocron within which he stored all his knowledge and teachings. His holocron gave particularly great insight into how to use Sith magic, alchemy and Force drain. The holocron also held records of his personal beliefs and theories on the nature of the Force, as well as information regarding the infrastructure of the original Sith Empire. This holocron was particularly sought out by future generations of Sith, though only a handful of them managed to successfully master the teachings imparted by the holocron's gatekeeper, let alone bypass the device's defenses.
Volen's holocron was also one of the many Sith holocrons that was collected by a Jedi historian named Atris during the Dark Wars, who stored it in her meditation chamber in her academy on Telos IV. At some point after the end of the First Jedi Purge, Volen's holocron wound up on Raxus Prime. By the time of the Galactic Empire, Volen's holocron had also entered Darth Sidious' personal collection of ancient Sith artifacts around 2 BBY after receiving it from one of his Moffs, who had in turn purchased it from a Neimoidian salvager named Murl Arceth. Sidious then proceeded to return the holocron to Volen's resting placing on Korriban after learning all he could from it. Sidious would also gather many of the scrolls Volen had authored during his lifetime, and though they taught him much, he went on to claim that his teachings on the advanced forms of Force lightning were partially inaccurate and out-of-date in comparison to later techniques.
At an even later point in galactic history, his holocron had ended up in the possession of Darth Krayt, who wished to learn any ancient techniques that could prevent the Yuuzhan Vong creatures from consuming his body. However, Volen's avatar proved uncooperative with Krayt and refused to teach him anything, resulting in the holocron being deactivated and returned to his tomb.
Personality and traitsEdit
“Power only belongs to those with the stomach necessary to embrace the dangers of the unknown.”—Har'esh Volen
Har'esh Volen was a manipulative, enigmatic and mysterious individual, whose cunning and analytical abilities often bolstering his aura. He used these characteristics to draw himself into powerful positions in the Sith Empire, where he used the resources and influence offered to him to further his research. He was fiercely intelligent, and possessed a thirst for knowledge and understanding that was almost as strong as his willpower. Har'esh was an insightful person, and possessed a keen photographic memory. Interestingly, while he was supportive of Naga Sadow, he was far less interested in the conquest-driven expansion of the Sith Empire; rather, he wished to maintain it rather than build it, so that the Sith could further solidify their place in the galaxy.
Perhaps because of these attributes, he was an extremely good advisor to his superiors. Volen's eerily calm demeanor often sparked fear in those around him, with rumors abounding that this was due to an undisclosed power he had discovered. A keen philosopher, Volen was known as something as a mystic amongst his allies, being more a polymath than a warrior. Unsurprisingly, he was skilled at using power plays in the Sith Empire to his advantage, and even enjoyed toying with others through the power and safety his position offered.
Volen possessed a brilliant mind and was also an skilled planner. Though he was poor in terms of leadership skills, Volen was very good at making others do his bidding, particularly those who came to fear or hate him. Volen's ability to manipulate others often earned him the distrust and dislike of his fellow Sith Lords. He was, however, extremely arrogant, and often believed himself superior to almost everyone he encountered. Volen's own beliefs on the Force were regarded as somewhat unorthodox, resulting in many of his philosophies receiving a fair amount of criticism. Amongst his theories, Volen was notably one of the earliest believers in the concept of the Unifying Force, and claimed one could only draw strength from the Force instead of forcing a single dominant viewpoint upon its nature.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Volen was a powerful Sith sorcerer and alchemist, which therefore made him adapt in a number of powers related to the dark side. The fact that he earned a place on the Sith Council, which he remained on until the collapse of the empire, reinforce claims of his power. He was noted at a very young age for having an extraordinary fluency in the Force, which was quickly honed into a talent at using only the darkest powers known to the Sith. Volen regularly immersed himself into the ways of the Sith teachings, though also contributed a fair amount of his own discoveries to them as well. One of the most influential sorcerers of his time, Volen was highly respected for his deep knowledge of the Force, and often explored some of its most archaic and unnatural qualities.
It was through Volen's experimentations that the more destructive side-effects of Force drain were discovered, and also through his research that certain Sith rituals were improved. In addition to this, Volen was a very skilled at using the abilities of Force blinding, Drain knowledge, Force paralysis, Force rage, Force lightning, Farseeing and Force scream.
Volen wielded a powerful Sith sword in combat, which was forged from pure cortosis whilst the hilt was made from phrik. Both these alloys were collected by Volen during his time as an apprentice whilst he explored the regions in Sith Space with his master. The sword was left to rest in his tomb on Korriban, though was later stolen by grave robbers during the Jedi Civil War.
The sword was imbued with a strong amount of dark side energy and allegedly a portion of Volen's own soul. To those who had not embraced the dark side of the Force, the sword was highly corrupting to wield or touch. According to ancient legend, the sword possessed the power to create Sithspawn.
Unlike many Sith Lords of his day, Volen chose not to wear the fatuous armor sets or extravagant war helmets that were popular amongst his peers, instead preferring to wear simple black robes. Volen's robes was made of a notably fine fabric, which appeared to have similar properties to armorweave. His Sith garment was Force-imbued during its creation.
Aside from this, he also possessed a sophisticated set of Sith armor – complete with a unique helmet – which he would wear on special occasions, such as the funeral of Marka Ragnos. Though it was originally intended for ceremonial purposes, Volen would also wear this elaborate apparel on the battlefield.
Behind the scenesEdit
Volen was originally planned to have lived during the reign of the Sith Emperor, around the time Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place. This was later scrapped. He also intended to bear the title of "Darth" and wield a Lightsaber in combat, though these ideas too were also scrapped in the end.