MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 7

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MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 7

Post by Emperordmb on Sat Mar 07, 2015 3:25 am

The Ilum Temple was a spectacular sight to behold indeed. When the six masters and the six Padawans had first arrived on Ilum, the great temple had loomed in front of them, a great cathedral built into a mountain of ice and rock. It served as the entrance to the entrance to a large network of caves, known as the Crystal Caves. These caves contained the crystals most Jedi would implement as the heart of their lightsaber. As such, Ilum had been a world the Galactic Federation Triumvirate had defended fiercely, refusing to let it be compromised by the Sith Collective.

Grand Master Mongooku could remember the first time he had set foot inside the temple. He remembered the feeling, the power of the Light Side within the temple. It may not have been as intense as it was at the Jedi Temple, but it was still beautiful, like the difference between sunlight and moonlight. The interior of the Temple was a work of beautiful architecture, its walls elaborate, the stone it was built out of reflecting the pale icy blue that surrounded the temple. Towering above those who entered were a few large statues of Jedi holding lightsabers, looming over them like silent guardians.

Just as the stone Jedi loomed over them all as guardians, Mongooku himself stood over the six Padawans that were right in front of him; Arthur, Jaira, Terro, Jaya, Bado, and Setawin. With him too were each of their masters. Masters Nalaniel and Amoye Ilu were the masters of Jaira and Terro respectively. Master Anird was the master of Setawan. A female Fosh, Master Anird was one of the greatest healers within the entire Jedi Order. Jaya and Bado were being trained by the Rostu brothers, two identical Korunnai twins, with Staz Rostu training Jaya, and Than Rostu training Bado.

Then, of course, Mongooku was Arthur’s master. He couldn’t begin to describe how proud he was of his young apprentice. In only a few months, they had formed a close bond, and Arthur had learned more about the Force than most Padawans did until they were a few years older than him. The more and more Mongooku saw of him, the more and more he truly believed in his heart that Arthur was the being the prophecy was referring to.

“The crystal is the heart of the blade. The heart is the crystal of the Jedi. The Jedi is the crystal of the Force. The Force is the blade of the heart. All are intertwined. The crystal, the blade, the Jedi. We are one,” Master Mongooku said to the Padawans before him, reciting the crystal code they had all been required to memorize. They were the words Mongooku had heard Grand Master Avacarus, his own father, speak centuries ago when he had first traveled to Ilum, he and his brother Gildorun- Mongooku pushed the thought out of his mind. He had fallen in the war back when Darth Erix had been the Dark Lord of the Sith, and there was nothing Mongooku could do about it now.

“You will enter the cave, and you will find the crystal that is yours,” Mongooku explained to the Padawans. “Only you can know which crystal is yours, and only that crystal can reach out to you. May the Force be with you all.” And with those words in mind, Mongooku watched the six Padawans enter the cave, each on the same, but different, journey.

——————————————————————————

The six Padawans walked through the caves of Ilum for several minutes. The caves were dark and cold, the walls and floor of the cave covered in frost and ice. Each of them had brought a thick coat to Ilum, though Jaira, Arthur, and Terro had given their coats to Jaya, Bado, and Setawin because their Innamortan physiology allowed their bodies to adjust very effectively to the cold, leaving the Innamortans in just their regular Jedi robes, and the other Padawans clad in two heavy coats each.

They had been braving the cold and mystery of the caves for about half an hour before Jaira felt something. It was a presence- several presences approaching from a distance. They felt completely alien to Jaira, yet somehow familiar at the same time. She turned to Arthur and didn’t see any sign in his face that he had sensed something. She then turned to Jaya. “Are there any dangerous animals on this planet we should be afraid of?” Jaira asked.

“There are Gorgodons,” Jaya replied. When nobody understood what that meant, Jaya rolled her eyes and said, “Large furry reptilian predators that kill their prey by squeezing it to death.” Jaira thought her tone of voice was a little disproportionately cheery, but she didn’t say anything about it. “If we ever come across them, their weak points are the back of their necks,” Jaya added.

As they walked into an open area, four large furry reptilian creatures suddenly burst from other tunnels in the cave into the open area. Standing on two legs each, the four Gorgodons charged, swinging their massive arms at the Padawans. Each of their paws was almost the size of a grav-sled. The entire area of the cave burst into sudden motion. Glancing at each other briefly, Arthur and Jaira both thrust their arms out at the nearest Gordon, hurling it into the wall with a telekinetic wave. The cave walls shook under the force of the blow as the other three Gorgodons charged at them. Terro and Setawin took on one, each pummeling its legs and abdomen with punches, desperately slamming their fists into it as hard as they could, though still channeling the power of the force through their limbs. Jaira, Jaya, and Bado teamed up on the second one, Jaira staggering it back with the Force and throwing an occasional punch at it, while Jaya and Bado focused their own Force powers on staggering the creature, and they would occasionally distract it to keep it from striking Jaira.

Arthur was over on the other end of the cave, bravely taking on the third Gorgodon by himself. Arthur flung his hands forward, sending a clump of snow flying right into the Gorgodon’s eyes. As the Gorgodon blindly swung at him, Arthur rolled underneath the Gorgodon’s arm, and ended up right behind the Gorgodon. Before the creature could react, Arthur leapt into the air as he pulled back his fist, and when he got high enough, he slammed his fist into the back of the creature’s neck as hard as he could. As Arthur dropped to the ground, the creature fell forward, dead. It was then that Jaira noticed Terro and Setawin taking down their own Gorgodon, with Terro maneuvering himself behind the Gorgodon, climbing onto its back, and pummeling the back of its neck while Setawin distracted it.

Now Jaira’s was the only one that remained. Rather than try and kill it, Jaira closed her eyes and reached into its mind. She began to project waves of soothing and calm over it as she attuned herself to its mind. She could feel its heartbeat, its breathing, and even its thoughts, just as she knew it could hear her voice in its head. Suddenly, it stopped fighting and crouched down. The other five Padawans stared in amazement, but Jaira didn’t notice, because it was then that she felt it. Jaira felt a presence reaching out to her, but this one felt different. It did not feel sentient, or animalistic, or even alive, but it was humming distinctly with the power of the Force. My crystal! Jaira realized.

“I can feel my crystal!” Jaira announced. “I’m sorry, but I have to leave.”

“Go Jaira,” Arthur replied. “May the Force be with you!”

Then, Jaira did one of the craziest things she had ever done in her whole life. She circled around the placated Gorgodon, and climbed on its back.

“Have you ever done this before?” Bado asked.

“No,” Jaira said as she got the Gorgodon to stand on all fours with a telepathic nudge. “Now seems like a good time to learn!” As soon as Jaira gave the mental command, the Gorgodon sped off in the direction Jaira could feel her crystal coming from. Jaira was very startled and almost frightened by the sudden speed the creature had taken. After a few minutes though, Jaira had gotten the hang of it, using her mental link with the Gorgodon to regulate its speed, as well as stabilizing its body as she rode on its back. Then Jaira pushed the Gorgodon on with a sudden influx of force energy. As it ran faster and faster, Jaira watched the cave walls speed by them in a blur.

After about five minutes, Jaira and the Gorgodon bursted out of an ice tunnel into a large cavernous area. Despite its size, the cavern was seemingly empty, save for a single large stalactite hanging from the ceiling of the cave. Jaira realized that this was sensing in the Force, and saw the stalactite glowing blue. The crystal must be inside the stalactite! Jaira realized. I’ve found it!

Jaira’s elation at finding her crystal suddenly vanished when she realized the obvious problem. The stalactite was fifty meters above her head, and she had no way of reaching it. She couldn’t grab it with the Force, because then she risked it falling and breaking on the ground. She couldn’t climb up to get it because the cavern was fifty feet high and dome shaped. She had no idea what to do, and she was starting to get very frustrated, almost angry. Then she remembered the first tenet of the Jedi Code. There is no emotion, there is peace.

It was then that Jaira climbed off of the Gorgodon’s back and, sitting on the icy floor of the cave, began to meditate. She relaxed, took a deep breath, and cleared her mind. She reached out with the Force, feeling several living things within the cave. She could sense the presences of her friends. It appeared they had split up, with Arthur venturing off on his own, Terro and Setawin departing together, and Jaya and Bado traveling together. But it was not just them she could feel, she could also feel several Gorgodons within the cave. Realizing what she must do, Jaira sent out an invitation to the Gorgodons through the Force, reaching out to them with every ounce of her will, and calling them to her location. As the minutes went by, tens of Gorgodons walked into the cavern and began to cluster in the center. After half an hour, they had begun to climb on top of each other, forming a tower with their own bodies that was constantly growing.

Jaira could not physically see their progress, but she could sense it through the force, given that her eyes were closed and she was deeper in meditation than she had ever been in her entire life. Finally, she sensed in one of their minds that it was within arm’s distance of the crystal. Jaira nudged its mind with her will, sensing in vivid detail as it reached out its arm, and tore the stalactite off of the ceiling of the cavern. Jaira had it move very slowly and carefully as it climbed down the tower of Gorgodons. Finally, it reached the bottom and made its way over to Jaira as the tower of Gorgodons began to deconstruct itself as the individual Gorgodons climbed down and started to disperse.

Jaira stood up and opened her eyes as the Gorgodon presented the stalactite to her. Jaira could sense the Force emanating from it in waves. Embedded in the stalactite were two, almost identical, cyan blue crystals. Jaira plucked them from the stalactite and held them in her hands. They felt warm to the touch, alive with the Force as her senses brushed over it, humming and pulsating within her grasp. Why there were two of them, Jaira did not yet know. All she knew was that they were both hers, and now was her time to leave the cave. With only one Gorgodon remaining, Jaira reached out to its mind, jumped on its back, and gave it a mental nudge. In less than a second, Jaira felt the Gorgodon begin to speed off back in the direction she had come from, with her on its back.

——————————————————————————

Both Terro and Setawin were walking together through the caves of Ilum, as they felt the Force signature of their crystals emanating from the same direction. In any case, Terro greatly appreciated the company, and he knew Setawin did as well. The two were actually very close friends, even amongst the other Padawans.

“So Terro,” Setawin began. “Now that your master is going to let you practice other forms, which do you have in mind?”

“I was thinking about Djem So actually,” Terro replied. “I have some skill with a spear, maybe that could go into my Djem So bladework or something.” Terro wished he could’ve explained that better, but his vocabulary wasn’t as advanced as those of Arthur or Jaira. Though they accepted him as a friend, he couldn’t help but wonder if they saw him as inferior, for not being as smart or attuned to the Force as them.

“That sounds cool!” Setawin squealed in response. “We could be Form Five Friends!”

“YES!” Terro responded with a huge grin on his face. “That would be amazing!”

The two kept walking and laughing through the caves together for several more minutes, before Terro suddenly stopped, sensing that something was different. Something felt a bit odd, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was that felt so different.

“What is it Terro?” Setawin asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Terro replied. “Something feels… different.”

“You should probably trust your feelings,” Setawin said in response. “You know. Close your eyes and reach out with the Force like our masters always taught us to do.”

“You know what?” Terro replied. “That’s a wonderful idea Setawin!”

It was then that Terro dropped to his knees and began to focus. He could feel the power of the Force flowing through him, and he focused on it, drawing it to the forefront of his mind. He continued to get calmer and more peaceful as the seconds went on. Setawin stood off to the side waiting in silence. Terro could feel his presence in the Force, right next to him, just as he could feel his crystal in the Force right- right underneath him!

Terro’s eyes suddenly snapped open as he leaped to his feet. “My crystal!” Terro exclaimed. “I can feel it! It’s underneath me!!!”

“Terro that’s wonderful!” Setawin squealed excitedly in response. “That’s amazing!”

“Yeah!” Terro replied. “I can’t believe it’s right underneath me!”

The two Padawans just stood there for several seconds, both excited by Terro’s new discovery. After about half a minute, Setawin spoke up. “Well,” he said. “I’m gonna go.”

“Why?!” Terro asked, surprised and stunned that Setawin would leave him like that.

“You found your crystal,” Setawin replied. “Now I need to go find mine.”

“Very well,” Terro responded. “Good luck Setawin.”

“You too Terro,” Setawin said as he turned around and continued to walk the direction they had been walking in. Terro watched Setawin’s bulky figure get further and further away, until he made a turn and was no longer in Terro’s line of sight. Then Terro turned his attention back to the ground in front of him.

His crystal was just beneath him, under a few feet of stone, but Terro had no idea how to get to it. There was no crack in the stone, and there was no tunnel beneath him. The ground was solid rock, covered in a layer of snow and ice. He stood there for a good five minutes trying to figure out to do, before he started scraping the snow and ice off of the ground.

After a few minutes, Terro felt the tips of his fingernails scraping against the stone floor of the cave, the top layer of frost scratched off. Once that was accomplished, Terro resumed staring at the floor of the cave, trying to determine a way to get to his crystal. He was completely stuck and puzzled, with no idea of what to do.

After a little while, Terro tried something. Drawing the power of the Force into him, he released it, sending several blasts of telekinetic energy into the ground. The ground did not budge or even crack however. Terro continued to persist however, hoping to reach his crystal. Eventually, Terro began to start punching and stomping at the ground, screaming in frustration.

After several failed attempts at breaking through the ground, Terro collapsed to the floor of the cave sobbing and weeping. Maybe he was as stupid and weak as he sometimes thought he was. His crystal was only a few feet away from him, and he couldn’t even get to it. The stupid ground is in the way! Terro thought to himself. It was then that he couldn’t help being a little envious of Jaira, and the way she was able to bend that Gorgodon to her will, and ride off on it like it was her valiant steed or something. Terro wished he could do that to the ground right now, but he couldn’t. But why can’t I?! He asked himself, a great realization suddenly dawning upon him. Was there a reason why he couldn’t manipulate the ground beneath him like Jaira controlled animals?

Realizing he had nothing to lose, Terro dropped down on his hands and knees and felt the ground underneath his hands. He closed his eyes, and taking a deep breath, he reached out into the ground with his senses. He could feel his crystal beneath the ground, feeling the way it radiated Force energy. It was not just the crystal Terro could feel the Force in, but the space between him and the crystal, the layers of stone that separated him from it. He could feel the invisible currents of the Force swirling and flowing within the ground beneath him just as it flowed in all things.

Focusing, Terro reached out to those currents, and began to bend and twist them with his own power in the Force, feeling them reverberate within the layers of cold stone beneath him. He began to press harder with his mind and will, letting a single minded determination flow through him; get to the crystal. As Terro pressed even harder, the small portion of the stone cave floor beneath him started to tremor, then it began to shake. Terro was now straining and sweating, but he continued to press on, imposing his will upon the ground he was crouched upon, his body shaking with the ground. Then, Terro began to focus those vibrations into a smaller point, using the Force to draw and contain them into the portion of the stone directly above his crystal.

Then, after a couple of minutes, Terro gave one last push with the Force. He stared in astonishment as a large crack began to form beneath his right hand, then stretching out to his left. The rock and stone on either side of the crack began to slide away from each other, the crack widening further and further as it grew deeper. Finally, Terro stopped pushing the ground apart as he saw a faint green glow at the bottom of the one and a half meter deep Force-created crevice.

Terro grinned with delight as he stared at the crystal. Extending his arm, he called the crystal to the palm of his hand with the Force. When his fingers closed around it, a warmth began to spread through his body. A sense of triumph began to permeate his mind. He had done it! He had gotten his crystal!

With a wide grin on his face, and a crystal in his hand, Terro turned around and began to head back towards the entrance to the cave, hoping he didn’t run into anymore Gorgodons.

——————————————————————————

Following his senses, Arthur had walked deep into the heart of the cave system after leaving the rest of the Padawans. His senses had taken him into a small chamber, the walls covered in several blue and green crystals, each glowing and pulsating both in light and in the Force. There had to be hundreds of crystals lining these walls, but Arthur was unsure of which was his.

Though all of the crystals were pulsating in the Force, no one crystal reached out to Arthur more than any other crystal. He would’ve passed this section of the caves by, had his senses not drawn him here. Though none reached out to him specifically, they still more drawn to them than he was to any other crystals he had come across in the cave. Was it perhaps the concentration of them? No, Arthur decided. Something felt qualitatively different about these crystals, and this cave.

Deep down, Arthur knew his crystal was within this small, miniature cavern, though he didn’t know which of the hundreds of crystals it was. Doing the only thing he could do, Arthur sat on the ground and began to meditate, only this time he had his eyes open, observing each of the crystals as he called the Force into himself for guidance. Hopefully, this would show Arthur which crystal was truly his.

Suddenly, Arthur noticed each of the crystals beginning to glow brighter and brighter. Arthur also however realized that the rest of the room was getting darker and darker as the crystals began to shine with more light. Arthur wasn’t sure what was going on, or if he should be panicking or not. Eventually, the entire light of the room was contained within the crystals, leaving them shining like stars with light as the rest of the cave was pitch black.

Suddenly and inexplicably, the light began to seep from the crystals into the darkness in the center of the room. As the blue and green lights of the crystals began to converge upon each other, a bright light began to illuminate the room, spreading out from the center in waves of pure and raw light. The light started to intensify and grow much brighter. A ball of pure incandescent light formed in the center of the room and began to spread, growing larger and larger and morphing into a shape, now blinding white.

As Arthur watched on in awe, two wings of light shot out from the form in front of him, giving off a birdlike appearance. Arthur’s head now began to throb, the blinding white light before him almost too much for his eyes to bear, but he could not shut them. He was transfixed by it, staring into it as if looking away would kill him. Suddenly, two circles of emerald fire formed near the top of the glowing white shape, staring back into Arthur’s eyes in a piercing gaze.

Arthur stood there transfixed, staring into the emerald orbs in front of him, feeling himself reflected and observed through its gaze. Suddenly, the light shot out towards him, encircling his entire body in its blinding white aura as the two emerald orbs flew towards his eyes and struck them, melting into them in a flash of pure energy. Arthur’s head snapped back as he collapsed to the ground and slipped out of consciousness.

Arthur opened his eyes, seeing a cave very similar to the one he was just in, but something was different. It seemed less corporeal and more ethereal. An unreal glow permeated his entire line of sight, the cave shifting and blurring, warping and transforming right in front of him. The darkness was there too, but this time the dark and the light did not avoid each other. This time they mingled and twisted around each other, almost like a battle between a hurricane and an inferno.

“You have done and seen many things in your life Arthur,” a female voice echoed within his head. “Some good…” it said as Arthur began to see visages of his friends flash before his eyes. He saw himself sitting in the Lightor royal gardens with Jaira. He saw himself laughing and playing with Terro. He saw himself talking and enjoying the company of the other Padawans within the archives. He saw himself giving his people the right to choose their leader, and he saw the Jedi Temple towering before him. A faint smile crossed the corners of his lips as he saw the best moments of his life flash before him.

“And some terrible…” the voice continued. Now what Arthur saw frightened and revulsed him. He saw his mother’s dead body, crushed and twisted within the metal of her own mech suit. He saw himself sulking in the months that followed, crying and cursing in pain, sadness, and anger. He saw himself killing members of the Shadikill royal family in their own castle, and he saw his father’s own mangled, mutilated, twisted, and headless corpse lying in front of him.

Arthur staggered backwards panicked. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but he didn’t think he liked it. He was confused, stunned, shaken, and many other things. He blinked rapidly, clearing away the tormenting visions before him. His eyesight returned back to the illusory cave, the battle between the glowing light and the dark shadows raging in front of him. “There is much your future holds in store for you,” the female voice continued. “Both through fate, and through choice.”

Then, the two separated. The light converged in front of the darkness and shot out towards Arthur, enveloping him and circling a few times before positioning itself in front of him. Arthur’s vision seemed to stretch as the light and darkness got further and further away from him, with the very cave itself warping and elongating around the light and the dark.

The light swirled and coalesced around itself, forming a more solid form. As Arthur focused more intently, he realized it was that of a man, glowing and pulsating with pure light. The man was encased in gleaming golden armor and the light seemed to emanate from his very being. Is this what I could become? Arthur asked himself, astonished and excited, though he could not make out the face of the man.

Then, the vision once again changed. The Light faded away as the darkness at the back of the cave began to ooze forward. The shadows began to twist and warp around something, but Arthur couldn’t quite make out what it was. As the shadows began to extend further and further towards Arthur in black misty tendrils, Arthur realized with horror what the shadows were twisting and warping around. It was a man, encased in a suit of armor so black it seemed to not reflect any light at all. Much like the last figure, Arthur could not make out the face of this one either, as it was completely shrouded in ever changing shadow as black as the wall of night. This silhouette tormented Arthur more than anything else he had seen in the vision so far. Who or what was that? What could possibly be that dark?

Then, as inexplicably as it had formed, the man of darkness suddenly dissipated, fading back into the shadows as the illusory cave returned to a soft glow. Arthur glanced around, looking for the light or darkness he had seen just moments ago, but he could not see either of them. Then, suddenly, on the far end of the cave, Arthur saw a woman, clad in light colored robes with pale green hair. He could not see her face because her body was turned away from him, but her entire body was glowing softly. “You had your choices to make in the past,” the female voice echoed again, now coming from the woman standing several meters away from Arthur. “So too will you have choices to make in your future…”

“What was that?” Arthur asked the woman, confused and conflicted.

“The man in the light is what you could be,” she explained. “What you are destined to be. The choice is yours whether or not you become that man however.”

“And the shadowy man?” Arthur asked.

“That too could be part of your future…” the voice answered cryptically.

“Is that thing me?!” Arthur demanded.

“I cannot say,” the woman replied. “Those who choose to follow the light all have great darkness to face. Whether the greatest darkness we face is in ourselves or within another is uncertain until you confront it…”

Suddenly, the woman was gone, and the very world of the cave itself began to twist around Arthur, sending his entire world spinning around him. He could feel the fabric of reality realigning and reshaping.

Arthur opened his eyes, finding himself lying upon the ground. Once again, Arthur saw the cave, but this time it was in the exact same condition and appearance it had been in before the light and dark had started to twist and warp before him. Before the emerald gaze of the light stabbed through Arthur’s own eyes. It was safe to say he now had more questions and answers, but one thing was certain. Just as choice was a part of your past and will be a part of your future, it is also a part of your present… Arthur heard the voice speak one last time.

Glancing around the cave, Arthur reached out to each and every one of the crystals through the Force, feeling and processing each of their unique imprints, signatures, and intricacies within his mind. None of these crystals had specifically chosen him, so he would have to choose one of the crystals. Sometimes the hand of fate was at work, but this, this was his choice, and he had to make it.

——————————————————————————

Arthur stepped out of the cave back into the Ilum temple with a brilliant green crystal held in the palm of his right hand. On the entire walk back, he had connected and attuned it to himself, as well as attuning himself to it and getting a feel for it. Now, he was just happy he had his crystal and was able to leave that blasted cave behind. The vision he had seen still troubled him, but he tried to push that out of his mind, instead trying to be happy at seeing his friends and his master again.

When he stepped back into the temple, Arthur saw that his friends had already returned, each clasping a crystal in their own hands. Terro and Setawin each held a green crystal, Bado and Jaya each held a sapphire blue crystal, and Jaira, curiously enough, held two cyan blue crystals, one in each of her hands. Arthur wasn’t entirely sure what she intended to do with both crystals, but he assumed he’d find out very soon.

“Arthur!!!” all of his friends exclaimed as he approached them, his green crystal in hand.

“Welcome back Arthur,” Master Mongooku greeted him with a warm smile. “You had the other Padawans rather worried.”

“Worried?” Arthur asked.

“You were in there for four hours,” Bado explained.

Four hours? Arthur thought to himself. I thought it was only about an hour and a half. I guess that vision took more time than a I thought.

“Well I’m out now,” Arthur replied chuckling. He saw each of his friends beaming from ear to ear as he walked towards him. Jaira actually raced forwards and gave him a hug. He hugged her back, relieved to finally contact a person who wasn’t glowing or shrouded in shadows.

“You have all done an amazing thing today!” Master Mongooku announced. “Today, you have attained the heart of what is a Jedi’s most valuable possession. It is more than just a possession however, it is an extension of your very will. When you construct your first lightsabers, the crystals you have now will be the heart of its blade, just as you are the crystals of the Force. Though some of you may need or choose to construct another lightsaber at some point in your life, the memory of your journeys today will stick with you forever…”

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