“What is wrong sweetheart? You seem moodier than usual.” My wife asked, walking up behind me and placing her hand on the back of my head. “Did you and Master Stahoes have another argument?” She sat down next to me, laying her head on my shoulder and running her hand up and down my back.
I puffed on my pipe and thought about how to answer the woman who went through so much and for some unknown reason still loved me, despite all my quirks. I looked through the cloud of fragrant smoke and saw the Shadow Academy in the distance. “Och nae me bonnie lass, I was… I was thinking of the day we met. More than that, what had happened just prior ta your arrival. Master Stahoes said something ta me today that reminded me of one of our former Masters. I willa admit it struck a chord with me.”
I felt her tense up some as I brought up the painful memory of what could have been if it wasn’t for our falling in love, something that was taboo among the Jedi order of Light. A silly rule that both Lilith and I scoffed at. “Was it Master C’Lan- C’Lacntha?” She asked quietly choking on the name of the man I murdered so we could love each other but forever be tainted by the Dark Side as a result.
“Hmmm? Nay, lass I was thinking of Thuallan. He said something ta me that day and Master Stahoes said the exact same thing today, in the same way. An I’ve been pondering on it for a wee bit.” I looked out over the land again and remembered.
“Again!” Knight Thuallan barked. “You. Need. To. Focus!” He said in a clipped voice, punctuating each word with a swat from a meter long wooden rod he used to point out things with and to demonstrate different parries and thrusts. Feeling the sting against my arm, then a leg, then back of my head, I spun around and swung my practice saber at him in a vicious arc. Thuallan laughed and jumped back out of range nearly causing me to hit the Padawan sparring next to me with my wild swing.
“Janos! Calm yourself before you hurt yourself or someone else. Your anger is defeating you. Your frustration is making you sloppy. Anger will take you down a path to darkness. Beware that darkness, Padawans. The Dark side of the Force will grant you strength and power, but at a terrible, terrible cost. It will twist and warp you into a monster or worse, a Sith”
The other Padawans stepped away from me except an orange skinned Twe’lek. The only person who would give me the time of day because I helped him out during a survival exercise. He was the last person I wanted to deal with today. Ch’Chadick was okay sometimes, but every now and then he seemed so naïve in the ways of the world. I found it annoying when he would ask a silly question or stop our training because he didn’t understand the use of the Force for something.
“But Master Thuallan, how do we learn to control it? Janos has been with you and Master C’Lacntha since he was five or six, many of the others here as well. I have only been with you and Master C’Lacntha for a few years now. How do we control our thoughts and minds?” Ch’Chadick asked, wiping the sweat from his eyes. I wanted to cringe and lash out at this idiot for calling me out, but I knew deep down he was right.
The knight looked at the exhausted twe’lek and then at the rest of us panting and sweating in the hot sun of the afternoon. Looking at my sullen face and staring me down until I looked away in shame he slowly started to pace back and forth. “As you know the Empire hunted down and slaughtered the Jedi. Master C’Lacntha and I fled to here in secrecy around 7 BBY and started training any Force sensitive children that we could find.” As if summoned by some magic Master C’Lacntha Walked up behind our cadre. We all started as his soft voice picked up the conversation. “Some of you came to us as young as three or four. Others, such as your self, found us through other means. You older Padawans are at a slight disadvantage because you haven’t had the extensive meditation training since you were young. Although I see that once again, you fail at maintaining your inner peace Janos. I see the anger and fear roiling off of you like the heat of a sun. Why?”
“I have no excuse, my Master, I will work harder at controlling my temper.” I mumbled, feeling shamed in front of my fellow Padawans.
My Master sighed and turned towards me. “Always the same answer and always the same result.” He said sadly, then turning away he spoke to Master Thuallan.
I looked closely at my master, and for the first time I could see how tired and old he looked. Being a Miralukan and his ability to “see” using the Force had always unnerved me. I would have thought that with the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY we would come out of hiding. Join Luke Skywalker and his sister along with the other heroes of the Rebel Alliance. However Master C’Lacntha and Master Thuallan had different ideas. Later we had heard rumors of the battle on a planet called Jakku and the final fall of the Empire forces. As well as the rise of a new Jedi order. Again, as a teen I asked why we didn’t reveal ourselves. And once again, like so many other times I received no answer but to train. For years, I had worked with the others in the fields and motor pool. Planting crops, collecting fruit, fixing the machinery of the commune. For years, I had fought with the others in the training hall and jungle. Learning hand to hand fighting, weapon fighting, guerilla tactics, and saber play. Nevertheless, I, along with every other Jedi was being kept hidden from the rest off the galaxy for some reason. Either way we weren’t going to be joining anyone any time soon.
The two Masters walked off to converse and I could hear the occasional word, but most of it was too low to make out. I decided to walk away for a bit to try and focus and relax my aching muscles and churning thoughts. Slowly I drifted back towards the nearby woods and soon I had vanished among the greenery. I knew Master Thuallan would discipline me for leaving without permission, but I honestly could care less.
I walked away from the other Padawans and headed into the woods trying to lose myself. I don’t know why, because I always went to the same place.
Years back, my Masters had me create a “serenity pool”. Somewhere to go (, and take out and) and relax and work on focusing within. I built much of it with my own hands, willing the rock and water to do my bidding by carving and channeling it. I created a simple and pure oasis among all the trees and vines that made up the forest that surrounded our tiny commune.
Part of my making it was punishment for not paying attention to Master Thuallan and nearly breaking my fist against a sparring dummy when I threw a punch wrong. The other reason was because I used the Force to try and shoot lighting. And while I found I could the resulting fire destroyed a speeder bike. I was counseled for a very long time about trying such a Dark Force ability. Master C’Lacntha was furious with me. Both berated me for hours about what I had done. As Master C’Lacntha was a Miralukan and could “see” using the Force he truly feared for my well being as he could see the darkness in me. It was decided I would work off my debt and disobedience by building a shrine for meditation and for finding the Light. At that time in my life my two Masters were my family. My shame at what I had done and their disappointment in me was more than enough to make me want to please them and do a good job.
I searched the forests nearby until the Force spoke to me and there I started building. Meditating each day to find the right stone, the right placement, and the proper alignment with the surroundings. Feeling the earth below me and where the water was and the spirits of the trees around me. The Force guided my hand and thoughts and soon I had lost myself within its power. After months of building the Serenity Pool was ready.
I had made a simple basin about 10 feet across and two to three feet deep. Shallow steps led into the water on one side and a creek I had diverted fed it over a series of shallow pooled waterfalls and the far side had the spill that went back to the original creek. I then built some simple but comfortable benches that would allow one to sit in peace and reflect on the waters. The trees in the area provided shade for part of the pool with the giant leaves casting a multitude of shadows. That along with the sparkling ripples could almost hypnotize someone who watched them long enough.
Although not intended, animal life soon appeared and would stop to drink from the pool. Or, in the case of the swimming creatures, school and dart among ripples and then shoot out over the spill back to the safety of their creek.
There was many a day I would sit in silence and surround myself with the beauty of what I had created. I was very proud of the sanctuary I had built.
My Masters approved of the work I had done and soon others would come and sit. At first I was jealous of the others being there, what right did they have to disrupt the harmony of what I had made? Master C’Lacntha reminded me that the Force was for ALL to experience and the small pool I had made was akin to a temple for all of us to come and enjoy and learn at. I grumbled at this but accepted the rebuke…
I plodded along, pushing aside the clinging vines and ferns of the forest until I came across a well used game trail. I stepped out of the brush onto the trail startling a couple of deer sending them running into the woods. The feel of the sun on my neck and back as it flickered through the trees and the soft chirring of the insects soon calmed me. I soon could hear the splash of the waterfalls and the spill ahead of me. The smell of the green and sharp tang of the wet rock in the sun greeted me like an old friend.
Stepping off the game trail and taking a flagstone path I walked up and looked into “my” pool. I needed to clean some bracken and dead leaves from it. Brush down the benches where moss and natural debris had accumulated since I had been there. But all in all it looked in good shape. Stripping off my sweaty robes and tunic I waded into the cool water. Stirring up the muck and watching it drain away I soon had the pool cleaned. I washed my robes of their grime and hung them on a nearby tree to dry.
“I never intended this to be used as a laundry my Padawan.” A voice chuckled from behind me.
I froze and taking a deep breath I slowly turned around to see the smiling face of Master C’Lacntha. Swallowing I then sighed and simply said, “Master.”
“Janos, I knew you would come here, I felt you walk away and could sense your feelings lighten as you neared this haven you made.” He smiled. “I too enjoy coming here and thinking, often I am thinking of you and how to guide your footsteps.”
“Aye Master, I ken ye do.” I said in my thick brogue. “I have oftna seen ye here, the pure light shining off ye like the moon.” I waded over to my tunic and put it on to cover my nakedness. “I always find it’s vurra peaceful here after ye have been sittin here aglowin.”
“Yes, this place is fed by the Force and you did a beautiful job making someplace so special. That is why, I believe, this will please you.” He said reaching into his belt pouch. From it he took a simple clear crystal, about and inch or so long and maybe a fingers with width in thickness. Holding by it’s end points he lifted it to the sun and a blazing set of beams flashed from it as the light struck it. “This, this is a Kyber Crystal from Ilium. Brought to me in secret by a friend…someone…well, someone I have known for very long and is very special to me.”
I watched my Master as he thought of that someone from his past, someone probably dead now, another victim of the Empire.
“This is for you. You must build your own lightsaber. I, I have been counseled against this by Master Thuallan but I believe it is time for you to take the next step in your training. You will meditate and imbue this crystal with YOUR Force. I will provide the necessary tools and parts to create your saber, but this, this is something I cannot assist you with. I suggest you start in the morning as I have a mission for you to undertake within the two moons time.” He said handing me the stone. I felt an electric charge go through me as I grasped it and looked wide eyed at my smiling Master.
“Master, I, I, I dunna ken if I am ready for this! What if I fail ye again?” I choked feeling tears form in my eyes.
“Shhhh my Padawan, you ARE ready, you have been for some time now. You fear leaving and being alone but you will always have my spirit to guide you on your journeys. You will go and do great things and help to defeat the Empire. You like your brethren before you and those that follow will keep the Jedi alive.” My Master said, calming me like he did when I was a young child. Placing his hands on my shoulders and “looking” at me he smiled and nodded at something only he could see.
The next day I was excused from training with the others to go meditate and focus on my crystal. For three weeks I focused on it, willing the Force to charge it with my strengths. Food and drink was brought to me and I guess I ate and drank but I honestly do not remember. At first I didn’t really notice the change in the color but after awhile I saw that it had taken on a bluish purple shade. By the end of the third week it was a deep, rich blue. I staggered back to my room and found all the tools and parts needed to assemble the saber. Using the Force to guide me I started to put all the pieces together. Power pack, handle, crystal chamber, beam emitter, switches and wires and screws all coming together. After a few days it was finished. My lightsaber had almost a living quality to it, it seemed. Sleek and deadly, the silver shaft and emitter attached to the black two handed grip whispered to me. I picked it up and felt the power of what was in my hands. Thumbing the activation switch I marveled at the brilliant three foot blade of dark blue energy that formed and hummed from the emitter.
I ran to find my Master and show him what I had made, my heart pounded with pride and my face actually hurt from smiling so much.
I calmed myself and my breathing as I approached them. Taking a deep breath I walked up to my Masters and bowed low. I unhooked the saber from my belt and placed it on the ground in front of where they sat. I then took a step back and kneeled at their feet.
“My Masters, I have completed the task given to me and created my lightsaber.” I said, my voice choking some. I had no idea why I felt so emotional.
Holding out his hand Master C’Lacntha concentrated and the saber flew to his hand. Gripping the shaft he opened the crystal compartment and withdrew the stone. “Looking” at it he tilted his head to the side as if listening to the Force. “This crystal is yours and yours alone, Janos. It sings of your feelings and Force. I sense it is… a very dark blue. The color of a Warrior within the Jedi.”
Master Thuallan snorted at this and looked at me with his steely gaze. “I have voiced my opinion of this venture and I still do not agree with it. Janos you are reckless and wild in your ability to control yourself.” He grumbled. “BUT, you have managed to create the weapon of a Jedi and that takes a large amount of skill and concentration. Maybe your creation of the Serenity Pool had a positive affect after all.”
I lowered my eyes at his comment and looked at my now reassembled saber. Reaching forward I picked it up and placed it on my belt.
“Master? You mentioned you had a mission for me?” I whispered, glancing at C’Lacntha.
“Yes my Padawan you are to seek out another who will be joining us. A young woman with strong ties to the Force and very strong healing abilities. I have gotten word she fled Taris recently and has been making her way here. Sadly she seems to have run into some trouble and my contacts have not been able to find her since she was smuggled off planet.” He stated. “You must see if you can track her down and bring her to us. Her name is Lilith O’Malley and she is the niece of a Jedi. Find her, bring her to us before it’s to late.”