- "The aqueducts. You said they'd fallen apart. They fell to ruin because of some of your leaders?"
"And some who wanted to lead. There was a thousand years of chaos, Quarra. If Alanciar believes in building things, like I do, you can't let that start again. You've got to help me."
- ―Quarra Thayn and Edell Vrai discussing the legacy of the Time of the Rot
The Time of the Rot was the term given to a period of great turmoil and civil warfare that engulfed the Lost Tribe of Sith on the planet Kesh. This conflict began following the disappearance of the ruling Grand Lord Lillia Venn during the Night of the Upside-Down Meteor in 3960 BBY. It lasted approximately 960 years and saw substantial infighting between various rival Sith factions for the leadership of the Tribe. The Time of the Rot engulfed much of Keshtah Minor, the continent on Kesh that was the domain of the Lost Tribe. The conflict devastated much of Keshtah Minor's cities and infrastructure and led to the deaths of many combatants and civilians. It also reduced the Tribe's population to merely a few thousand. The conflict was ended in 3000 BBY when the Caretaker Varner Hilts succeeded in uniting the Tribe by discovering a map which showed the existence of a second continent known as Keshtah Major or Alanciar. Hilts became the new Grand Lord and succeeded in rebuilding Keshtah Minor.
- "Well, Lillia Venn's life is not over. There is another peak, another place to conquer. I wil begin again—in the stars."
- ―Lillia Venn's boast prior to her death
The Time of the Rot began in 3960 BBY when the reigning Grand Lord Lillia Venn was killed by the Jedi Shadow Jelph Marrian during the Night of the Upside-Down Meteor with some of her men. Her disappearance created a power vacuum within the Lost Tribe. When her rivals learnt of her demise, a full scale revolt erupted in the capital city of Tahv which saw a full-scale massacre of her followers. One of her enemies High Lord Candra Kitai briefly assumed leadership of the Tribe but was not able to unite the various factions. Her only notable achievement during this period was the closure of Tahv's zoo, where she had been forced to work as a slave after being wrongly accused of an assassination attempt against Lillia Venn. At an unknown period, Kitai herself was overthrown and presumably killed. These rivals then began to fight among themselves for leadership of the Tribe and control over Kesh. Two of these factions included the Gold Faction and the Red Faction. Another Grand Lord who lived during this period was Dann Itra.
Many of the defeated combatants fled Tahv for the hinterlands where they allied themselves with Human slaves, the descendants of individuals who had been cast out of the Tribe. These Sith rebels then coerced many of the indigenous Keshiri into their military forces. For centuries, these rival Sith factions formed alliances to conquer Tahv and overthrow the ruling Grand Lord. These alliances were often short-lived and often quickly collapsed due to internal rivalry, which was fueled by the Sith's adherence to the Sith Code. By 3000 BBY, the Gold and Red Factions had splintered into twenty factions. Each of these were often led by their own Grand Lord who denounced their rivals as Anti-lords. The Marisota Floodplain became the site of many battles and campaigns between rival Sith factions.
As a result of the Time of the Rot, Keshtah Minor's cities including Tahv fell into ruins due to the fighting and a lack of maintenance. Tahv's towering aqueducts were known to have clogged and flooded on several occasions which led to accidents. The city's large arena Korsinata also collapsed due to frequent eruptions from the volcano Sessal Spire. The Time of the Rot was also accompanied by the collapse of the Tribe's education system and a loss of historical knowledge. By 3000 BBY, many Sith were ignorant of their true history and adopted a romanticized view of their ancestors being "great conquerors" from a "great empire." The only time that the various Sith factions met peacefully was during Testament Day, which was held in Tahv every twenty-five years. During Testament Day, the Testament of Yaru Korsin was read to the leaders of the Sith factions. Korsin's Testament was stored within a holocron which was guarded by the Caretaker Varner Hilts, an elderly historian and museum curator who was responsible for safeguarding the Tribe's historical archive.
- "We can't let anyone know. They never wanted us to know. Seelah must have forbidden any records of what Ravilan's people really were. It's why Korsin recorded over the message. We have to keep this secret."
- ―Iliana Merko's response to learning the Tribe's true history
In 3000 BBY, Iliana Merko, the leader of the Sisters of Seelah, attempted to coerce Varner Hilts into producing a fake copy of the Testament that would favor their faction. The Sisters revered Seelah Korsin, the estranged wife of the Tribe's founder Yaru Korsin, and regarded her as the "true" found of the Tribe on Kesh. They regarded Yaru and his daughter Nida Korsin as "traitors" to the Tribe. Hilts revealed that Korsin's Testament was stored within a holocron and could not be altered. He also lied that Yaru's holocron could only be activated on Testament Day, which was twelve days away. The Sisters' presence attracted the attention of rival Sith factions including Force 57, the Korsinite League, and the Golden Destiny.
Eight days prior to the reading of the Testament, several members of Force 57 and the Korsinite League attacked the Sisters at the Circle Eternal. Hilts was able to broker a temporary peace between the factions by offering to read Hilt's Testament. When the Korsinite League opposed any reading of the Testament prior to Testament Day, Hilt's Keshiri assistant Jaye Vuhld revealed that Kesh's calendar was actually eight days behind the Galactic Standard Calendar. This enabled Hilts to legally read the Testament and to convene the "Pantheon's Peace." While the Testament yielded nothing that would end the conflict between the rival Sith factions, Hilts discovered that it had been recorded over an older recording.
This older recording turned out to be a transmission from the ancient Sith Lord Naga Sadow to Yaru Korsin. The assembled Sith leaders quickly discovered that Yaru Korsin and the ancestors of the Tribe were merely slaves of the Sith Empire. The ancient Sith starship Omen, which had carried the Tribe's ancestor's to Kesh, had in fact been extracting Lignan ore from Phaegon III to Kirrek during the Great Hyperspace War. The vessel had crash-landed on Kesh, which became the new home of the Tribe. The Tribe also learnt about the true nature of the original 57 Red Sith. This revelation of the Tribe's "inglorious past" discredited the popular myth that the Tribe had been "great conquerors" or the vaunted Skyborn, divine gods in Keshiri mythology. In an attempt to cover up the Tribe's "inglorious" history, Iliana personally destroyed the holocron.
The Great Crisis
- "This is the end of times, Master Hilts."
- ―Jaye Vuhld's response to the Great Crisis
Despite attempts by the Sith leaders to hide the history of the Lost Tribe, news of the recent Testament Day meeting leaked out to their Sith followers. Varner Hilts speculated that a drunk Sith individual was responsible for this leak. The revelation of the Tribe's "inglorious past" drove the Tribe into a homicidal frenzy which sparked a wave of violent killings and riots across Keshtah Minor. Within two weeks, much of Keshtah Minor's cities had been burnt to the ground. The so-called Great Crisis threatened the very existence of the Tribe, which had fallen down to a few thousand individuals. The various Sith factions also fought each other before fighting among themselves. Many Keshiri were also killed during the cross-fighting.
During the fighting, Iliana wounded several rival Sith including Korsin Bentado, whose left hand she cut off. Facing retribution, Iliana fled to the Kesh Sith Temple, which had been sealed for several centuries. Meanwhile, Hilts and Jaye embarked on a mission to the Sith Temple. Based on Korsin's Testament, Hilts had learnt that Korsin had spoken off "secrets" behind the throne that could save the Tribe. This throne was located within the Temple. There, the pair encountered Iliana and convinced her to join their quest. After much difficulty, the three explorers discovered Korsin's vaunted "secrets": a series of charts depicting a map of another continent known as Keshtah Major or Alanciar. Hilts quickly realized that the discovery and conquest of Keshtah Minor could be used to unite the Tribe and save it from destruction.
Meanwhile, the other Sith ended their hostilities and joined forces with Edell Vrai, the leader of the Golden Destiny, to destroy the Omen in order to expunge the "inglorious history" of the Tribe. While the Golden Destiny had previously believed that the Tribe was descended from "great conquerors" and that they needed to return to the stars, Korsin's secret transmission from Naga Sadow had demoralized and disillusioned Vrai. Believing that the Tribe was predestined to annihilation, he convinced the other Sith to help him destroy the Omen. They planned to collapsed the Sith Temple's tower on the chamber holding the Omen, crushing it from above. However, they encountered Hilts, Iliana and Jaye. While Jaye was killed during a skirmish with Korsin Bentado, Hilts was able to end the fighting by revealing his discovery of Keshtah Major.
Hilts successfully convinced the rival Sith factions to put aside their differences and to work together in order to reach Keshtah Minor. The other Sith elected Hilts as their new Grand Lord and he became the recognized leader of the Tribe. Iliana became his Grand Consort and later became the commander of the Tribe's military forces.
The Hilts Restoration
- "But you—or your descendants—may one day need a cause [Alanciar] that will unite our people. The knowledge I leave here is true power. Envy has driven the Sith to great accomplishments. Now there is again something to covet—something that may be within reach of the properly led..."
- ―Yaru Korsin's message to his daughter Nida Korsin
Under the leadership of Grand Lord Hilts, the Tribe rebuilt Keshtah Minor's ruined cities and infrastructure, restoring it to its previous glory. Hilts' reign would be remembered by later generations as the Hilts Restoration. One of his most important policies was to create a power structure that allowed the Sith Tribe to channel their ambitions without causing civil war. In his testament, Hilts outlined his view that the old ways of the Tribe had been forgotten and that they need to be restored in order to secure the Tribe's existence. As part of his reforms, Hilts created a system of meritocracy where power in the tribe was earned rather than inherited. This helped lessen conflict between the ruling families. Within this system, assassination was tolerated but open warfare was strictly prohibited.
The cornerstone of Hilts' policies was the discovery and peaceful annexation of Alanciar in 2975 BBY. After twenty-five years of research and experimentation, the High Lord and mathematician Edell Vrai succeeded in creating a fleet of airships that were powered by helium extracted from the volcano Sessal Spire. Vrai led a scouting mission to Alanciar which discovered that the Alanciari Keshiri had created a militaristic society bent on repelling the Sith. The three airships used in this mission were named after three historical figures from the Time of the Rot—Candra, Lillia, and Dann Itra—in an attempt to rehabilitate these figures from the Tribe's history. Millennia earlier, the Keshiri rebel Adari Vaal and her supporters had fled to Alanciar where they founded a new society based on resisting the Sith. This society was led by a highly-centralized military regime known as the War Cabinet. While Vrai's airships were downed by the Alanciari, he succeeded in capturing the Alanciari man Jogan Halder and his lover Quarra Thayn. Vrai blackmailed Quarra into helping him explore Alanciar by foot.
Shortly later, Vrai's rival High Lord Bentado launched an invasion of Alanciar. As before, the Sith's Ebon Fleet was destroyed by Alanciari ballistae. However, the survivors under Bentado regrouped and succeeded in killing infiltrating the Alanciari capital of Sus'mintri and assassinating the War Cabinet. This effectively decapitated the Alanciari leadership and enabled Bentado to covertly seize control of Alanciar. He then attempted to kill Grand Lord Hilts and found a "Second Tribe" on Alanciar. However, he was thwarted through the combined efforts of Vrai, Thayn, and his own Keshiri assistant Squab, who was secretly working for Hilts. Ultimately, Hilts succeeded in manipulating the Alanciari Keshiri into submitting to Sith rule by using Halder to convince his people that the Sith were not a threat to them. Instead, the Tribe were the ancient Protectors while Bentado was a "servant" of the malevolent Destructors, a rival group of deities associated with evil in Keshiri religion.
An Ancient Threat
- "More than a thousand years ago, an upside-down meteor appeared in the sky over Kesh. It heralded the end of the long peace between the Sith of the Tribe -- and the coming of the Time of the Rot. The Sith sorted out their differences and peace returned - until the night Lord Dreypa directed his demons toward Tahv."
- ―An unidentified Keshiri narrator's recollections of that history
As a result of Alanciar's conquest, the Lost Tribe gained access to a new continent that was rich in lumber and land to house Keshtah's surplus population. These enabled the Tribe to construct a large fleet of wooden sailing ships to enable further maritime exploration efforts. Following the annexation of Alanciar, Hilts sponsored a marine exploration program to explore uncharted lands and seas beyond Keshtah Minor and Alanciar. In 2974 BBY, a Sith expedition led by the Alanciari captain Chegg discovered the Doomed, the descendants of stranded ancient Jedi and Dark Jedi that had caused the Great Calamity millennia earlier but had since relocated to the frozen continent of Eshkrene in the South Pole. This expedition included Parlan Spinner, a former criminal, and Hilts' daughter, Takara Hilts.
During the Time of the Rot, the Doomed had maintained a watch over developments on Keshtah Minor through ice mirrors created by the Force. Around 3000 BBY, the Doomed had considered intervening in order to stop The Rot but changed their minds after Hilts managed to restore order to the Tribe. During his time on Eskrene, Spinner managed to escape his Doomed captors. He also also freed the ancient Dark Jedi Remulus Dreypa from his oubliette on Eshkrene and brought him back to Keshtah. Dreypa and Spinner then instigated a rebellion against the Lost Tribe. This development effectively ended the "peace" that accompanied the end of the Time of the Rot.
During his brief insurrection, Dreypa also unleashed several Leviathans which had been hibernating for millennia within Sessal Spire. These Leviathans killed many Sith, Keshiri and members of the Doomed and also devastated Tahv. He then attempted to escape offworld by stealing the Last Hope, a Jedi starship hidden under Tahv. However, Dreypa was defeated by his former ally Spinner and his former Sith adversary Takara.
- Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pantheon (First appearance)
- Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pandemonium (Mentioned only)
- Lost Tribe of the Sith—Spiral 1 (Mentioned only)
- Lost Tribe of the Sith—Spiral 2 (Mentioned only)
- Lost Tribe of the Sith—Spiral 3 (Mentioned only)