Kaerls, Kiast System
The winds of Kaerls howled outside the entrance to the cave. The moon was a brutal, unforgiving place, a world apart from the serenity of the Praxeum or the refined bustle of Voraskel Palace. The Okami Mandalorians eked out a living elsewhere on the moon, but they rarely found cause to venture this far into the mountains.
They left that to the Jedi.
Their speeder was parked just inside the cave entrance, where the snow would dust it without burying the entire vehicle. Tassk looked back at it. Although Teikhos was able to regulate both their body temperatures through the Force, the Togorian had felt much more comfortable in the speeder’s heated interior.
“This is it,” Teikhos said. “From here on, it’s all you.”
“You haven’t even told me why we’re here, Master,” Tassk answered. “How am I supposed to lead if I don’t know where I’m going?”
The Zeltron chuckled. “If you figure that out, let the rest of us know.” Seeing his apprentice’s unamused expression, he continued. “Reach out with your feelings. Trust in the Force. I wouldn’t have brought you here if you weren’t ready.”
Sighing, Tassk did as he was told and shut his eyes to the world. Soon even the sound of the wind died away and there was… music. A single note at first, then a harmony, then, as he settled into a light meditation, an entire chorus of voices.
“What are they?” he asked at last. He opened his eyes. The song, once heard, continued without much in the way of focus on Tassk’s part. “I’ve never felt anything else like them.”
“Kyber crystals,” Teikhos answered. “I don’t really understand it, to be honest, but something about the crystals resonates with the Force.”
“Kyber…” Tassk had stopped listening after the first word. “Like a lightsaber blade? I get to build my own saber?”
“Maybe,” the Zeltron answered coyly. “But you don’t pick the crystal, kid. The crystal picks you.”
“It didn’t seem that hard to pick a training saber.”
“It’s just like with people,” Teikhos said. “You can dance with anyone, but marrying someone is different.” Tassk’s mind immediately went to the warmth of Aura’s hands when she had pulled him into a dance on Tatooine. His master kept talking.
Teikhos gestured to the armory saber at Tassk’s hip. “Those crystals teach. They’ll guide you to the Force, sure, but you’re already outgrowing that relationship.”
Tassk nodded, but seemed hesitant to speak. “How will I know?”
“You’ll know,” his master answered. “Though I shouldn’t be tainting you with my resonance. I hope that fur’s as warm as it looks.”
Tassk gasped as the chill suddenly hit him. Without the Zeltron manipulating his body into homeostasis, the cold was penetrating.
The pair picked their way deeper into the cavern. It was slow going over rough terrain; even years after Odan-Urr’s arrival, there hadn’t been anywhere near enough visitors to wear paths into the rock.
The cave had an unreal quality to it. The tunnels seemed to bend and twist in a way that defied geology and even physics, and Tassk felt hopelessly lost. Every time he turned to look behind him, the surroundings seemed completely different from the passages he had just come through. The echoing roar of the wind was barely audible but the disorienting voices of the kyber came at him from every direction.
Perhaps sensing the Togorian’s frustration and bewilderment, Teikhos spoke. “Trust only in the Force.”
Tassk squeezed his eyes shut, trying to concentrate enough to break out all the voices—it felt like millions of them—until he could isolate his crystal in the chorus.
“Don’t dominate. Trust,” Teikhos reminded him.
The padawan grunted, but tried to become passive and open instead of fumbling with his feelings. And after a moment, it was there: a drop of gold amongst the ice. When Tassk opened his eyes, the rough crystals in the roof and walls and floor of the cavern glimmered in a kaleidoscope of colors. “Those were all kyber crystals?” he asked in awe.
“The Force doesn’t do things halfway.”
Tassk didn’t respond but trudged forward, guided by a higher power. They picked their way through rock and crystal until he saw it, a citrine fire beckoning to him from this distance. The Togorian was sprinting now, delighted like a child as he clambered on toward his destiny.
Tassk hesitated, his clawed hand millimeters from the crystal.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s…” Tassk seemed to struggle to find the words. “It’s so pure. I don’t…”
“Think you’re worthy?” Teikhos asked.
The Togorian nodded.
“I think the crystal has already made up its mind about that,” the Zeltron said. “Listen, I saw you with Vez. I heard about Gui and Creon. You have a problem with anger, I won’t deny it. And it will make you a monster if you let it. But I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t think you could overcome it.”
Tassk relaxed a bit at that, the fur on his face smoothing out. But his master continued.
“The question you haven’t asked yourself is whether this life is worthy of you,” Teikhos said. “I know it’s… intoxicating when you’re training, when the Force is opening up new powers to you, but this is a hard life. Arx? That was just the beginning.” The normally jovial Zeltron was as grim as Tassk had ever seen him. “That wasn’t the first city I’ve seen burn and it doesn’t always end that well. Every time I leave home might be the last time I see my wife and children.”
Tassk’s response had something of a growl to it. “I’m not going to run away from this. I can’t.”
“I didn’t think you would,” Teikhos answered.
The Togorian took the crystal. It was warm in his palm and the sensation slowly worked its way up his arm as the pair worked their way through the caverns to the workbench. Though modeled after the ancient one on Ilum, the Kaerls version was obviously fairly new.
Tassk emptied the bag of metallic components out on the bench’s surface and got to work, time and the cold fading away as he focused. At last, he held his lightsaber in one massive hand and pressed the switch. His heart nearly stopped as a blade of amber fire burst to life before him. After a moment admiring it, the Togorian reluctantly turned it off as he turned to his master.
“Padawan, kneel,” Teikhos said. It was, in this case, less about tradition than making sure Teikhos could even reach the Togorian’s shoulders appropriately. He ignited his own lightsaber, the azure blade casting the entire room in an eerie blue glow.
“By the right of the Council,” he began, lowering his blade just above Tassk’s shoulder.
“By the will of the Force,” he continued, his blade dancing to the other shoulder.
“Knight Tassk Adroc of Odan-Urr, rise.”