Title: Knight Ascendant
Pretty version: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11sIGZT9hV4F7Uh3kWMULtzWiI1cwZjvx/view
Master: Aurora Ta’var
Padawan: Tyraal Bitshiver
Title: Knight Ascendant
Tyraal Bitshiver, still in his Jedi robes, laid in his quarters, not bothering to even pull the blankets over himself. The ice-moon Kaerls shone outside his window, the reflected rays of light shining down on the Clawdite. The stars scattered around the moon in a semi-random pattern and twinkled, a constant reminder to those below how small they were compared to the universe itself. The Jedi apprentice slept through it all, his slumbering figure at peace with the world around him.
His door softly chimed as it whooshed open, his master Aura Ta’var standing within it. Tyraal didn’t stir. The Zeltron smiled and gave her apprentice a gentle mental nudge, hoping to ease him awake. She almost didn’t want to wake him, but this was a sight worth seeing. The Clawdite merely rolled over, still half-asleep. Aura mentally nudged him once more, this a bit more firmly. His eyes grudgingly opened up as he spied his Jedi master.
“I don’t wanna,” he mumbled.
“Wake up. Trust me, we won’t be running anywhere. I’ll let you take the lift,” she offered.
“Can we do it tomorrow?”
“No. It has to be tonight. It’s the perfect time to do it and you’re finally ready.”
He slowly sat up, his curiosity piqued.
Tyraal yawned as the turbolift shot them upward through the main spire, all the way to the very top. Aura led the way out onto the all-too-familiar mountain plateau and walked away from the sheer cliff rising behind them, stopping a meter or two away from the plateau’s edge. The Zeltron sat down in a meditative posture and then gestured for him to join her. The Clawdite silently sat by her side and looked where her gaze was focused.
“What am I looking at?” he asked.
She pointed to a landmark barely lit by the celestial bodies in the sky, its metallic facade shining in the distance.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asked.
Tyraal went pensive for a moment and simply stared at the Velastari Temple, remembering his recent journey into its depths. It was one of the few times his master had not gone with him. A mission all his own to face the worst of himself. She had not asked him about it after he was done with it or brought it up, until now. The Clawdite could feel her reaching to the Force, no doubt gleaming for some sort of response. He remained silent, briefly imagining what would have happened if he had submitted to the Dark Side. Tyraal shifted uncomfortably for a brief second, wishing he could get rid of the memory and settling for merely burying it once more.
“I wasn’t there in person with you but I could still feel you within the Force. I think you did well,” she reassured him.
The Clawdite gazed upward at the moon known as Kaerls, averting his gaze while he thought out loud.
“What if I don’t like what I saw? Can the Force make it go away?”
Aura looked sympathetically at him, loneliness swirling about him.
“It will never go away. It’s part of you.”
“Thanks,” Tyraal said glumly.
The Zeltron wrapped her arm around his shoulders and looked him in the eyes.
“For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve faced that darkness head on and could still follow the light. Remember when you showed me your use of lightning for the first time? I was more scared of it than you ever were. But you, you weren’t fazed at all. I’m confident you’ll make peace with it and be stronger by the end of it.”
“Thanks. It means a lot to me,” he said, returning her gaze.
“Hey, why were you so scared of it? You never answered that question,” said the Clawdite.
Aura was speechless for a moment, not expecting this particular topic. A small dose of fear flickered to life.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, picking up on her emotions.
“My mother always said I had the worst poker face,” she admitted with a slight smile before explaining further. Tyraal waited patiently.
“It scared me because it reminded me of my own failures. I, too, faced that darkness except I was drowning. If a Jedi Master named Vorsa hadn’t come along, I’m not sure you would have met me,” the Zeltron admitted.
“A story for another time. I didn’t call you out here to reminisce about my past but rather to meditate on your future.”
“Alright, but only if you promise to tell me more later.”
“Promise. Now make yourself comfortable. It’s time to meditate,” she replied.
Aura withdrew her arms and laid back, her body flat against the rock below her as she looked up at the stars. Tyraal joined her and the pair closed their eyes. They reached out to the Force around them, opening their minds to the very source of life that weaved itself through the universe itself. From the very rock they rested on to the celestial bodies above, their consciousness followed the Force where it decided to take them. More at peace than even sleep could provide, the Force then connected the two Jedi together, their energies intermingling into the strongest of bonds. Both sighed in relief. In that moment, prescient images of future adventures together flitted through their minds and they knew that no matter what the future held they would face it together.
Two days later, Tyraal stood at the edge of a square sparring mat along with several other padawans, giddy and anxious to finally begin the trials. Nearby there stood dummy dolls and crates that looked suspiciously like they held training remotes. Several larger droids stood off to the side, currently powered off. The Jedi Masters stood on the other side of the testing area, some offering words of encouragement and others reminders. Aura Ta’var simply gave him an encouraging nod, thinking back to all the exercises her padawan had deemed ‘crazy’.
“Welcome to the Knight Trials,” said the Headmaster, a middle-aged Jedi that had a beard very similar to Obi-wan Kenobi’s from holovids. “In this arena we will test your ability to use a lightsaber and the Force itself. Your master has customized the challenge just for you.”
The Zeltron chuckled at the Clawdite’s involuntary groan.
“When I call your name, please step into the middle of the arena,” instructed the Headmaster.
Tyraal, determined to show the fruit of his training, waited patiently until he was called. He reached for a lightsaber and his blaster and walked into the middle of the mat, already getting into a Jar’Kai ready stance. The Jedi Headmaster pressed a button and almost everything came to life. The training remotes and the larger droids started to converge on his location, firing stun bolts in a synchronized pattern. Shocked they weren’t going off all at once, the Clawdite went into his memorized routine, deflecting with his saber and using his blaster to fire at the remotes as opportunities presented themselves. Almost like a holorecording, things went smoothly, that is until he realized the larger droids weren’t affected by their own bolts.
“Kark,” he swore, thinking as quick as he could. Falling back on his mainstay, a crackling sound could be heard as a current raced across his fingers.
Tyraal reached out to the closest cluster of droids, lashing out with a stream of white lightning that coursed throughout their chassis. One of them shut down completely while the others merely were unable to fire temporarily. The Clawdite sprang forward and slashed them into spare parts, leaving but a few remaining. The Zeltron smiled as her apprentice made quick work of them. Tyraal waited for more but none came.
“Good work, Padawan Bitshiver. You’ve passed,” said the Headmaster. “Please step aside for the others. We will have one more test at the end.”
The Clawdite bowed and retook his spot at the edge of the arena. Not long after he was called back into it with one other padawan.
“You have been paired against someone who can exploit your weaknesses. Fight well and show us how you handle them.”
Tyraal bowed to the other padawan, a female Chiss, and activated both his sabers, one tip pointing towards his opponent and the other held defensively. His opponent activated their single saber and sank into a classic Djem So stance. The Clawdite swung first, looking to overwhelm the Chiss before she got in a heavy strike. His opponent then quickly shifted to Soresu, whirling her blades protectively around her.
Aura watched as her apprentice played cat and mouse with the other Padawan, doing his best to penetrate the Chiss’ defenses. The Zeltron could tell that Tyraal wanted to use his blaster but the Chiss seemed well aware of his preference and stayed close despite the flurry of his strikes. Several times both were close to scoring a win but neither prevailed in the end.
“Fight ended. You both pass. Please leave the testing area and proceed to the next test.”
The Clawdite bowed and joined by his master, the pair of them already walking to the meditation area full of rocks.
“That was easier than I thought it would be,” he admitted.
“I wanted them to make it harder but at least I got to pick your opponent,” said Aura with a knowing smile. “I look forward to you sparring with her more.”
Tyraal shook his head. “Hey, wait a minute, are you setting me up?”
“On a lightsaber date, yes. She has a knack for Soresu, which even frustrates my own form. Anyways, focus on your next trials. They aren’t as flashy but they are just as important.”
“Focused on the date? I bet anything you still want to go back there and fight her. Am I wrong?”
Tyraal simply ignored her and rolled his eyes. “Yes, master.”
The rest of the trials went rather smoothly. The Clawdite was able to accomplish all of them, each time an instructor giving him a ‘pass’ and sending him along to the next in a string of trials. Then it was over and off they flew to the Kaerls Kyber cave. His master came with him to the moon but stayed on the ship. She had taken him to the caves before so it was nothing new. Still, she insisted that he do it for ‘tradition’s sake’. A spare crystal obtained and a built lightsaber already in hand, Tyraal returned to the Jedi Praxeum with the biggest smile on his face.
“Excited for tomorrow?” Aura asked as they took the lift up to the ceremonial area. She wanted to show him where it would all take place.
“You know it. I’ve dreamed of this day coming. After tomorrow, if I don’t want to run any more circuits then I can say no,” teased the Clawdite.
Aura simply giggled.
“What are you up to? I passed everything already.”
The Zeltron ignored him as they exited the turbolift into the crisp air swirling about the mountain’s higher plateau. She proceeded to point out where everyone would roughly be positioned and then the pair caught the lift all the way back down, passing past a rough craggy wall. As they got out to catch the next turbolift down to their quarters, Aura pointed out the towering wall leading up to the summit.
“You see that wall right there? You have to climb that to get to your ceremony and present your saber,” instructed the Zeltron.
“What, you’re kidding me.”
“Nope, ask all the other padawans about it. They have to do it too. I even did it post-Knight in solidarity with all the other future Knights. This trial didn’t quite exist when I was made Knight,” explained Aura.
“Of course it didn’t,” muttered Tyraal suspiciously.
“Hope you enjoy the climb tomorrow, I’ll be waiting at the top. May the Force be with you,” said his Master as she gave him a hug and then went back to her quarters.
The Clawdite silently thanked her for all the endurance training and wondered if he would die tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning came quickly, the previous night’s clear sky replaced by a chilling wind and overcast skies. Tyraal had gotten up early to dress and check his gear and now stood looking at the wall of rock before him. He could hear and see the lift taking up the ceremony participants in advance, guaranteeing that he could climb in peace. The Clawdite’s eyes lingered on the crowd around the turbolift, wishing he could join them.
“Don’t worry. You’ve got this,” assured Aura as she patted him on the back.
“I know,” he replied, still looking at the crowd.
“They may be taking the quickest route but I guarantee you won’t forget climbing it.”
“Oh, I’ll remember climbing it,” he remarked darkly.
His master simply chuckled. “May the Force be with you.”
Bitshiver watched as the Zeltron took the last lift ride up and took a deep breath before approaching the wall. He looked up towards the sky once more before placing a hand on protruding bit of rock that made for a nice natural handhold. Pulling upwards, he set one of his feet in another crevice and stood up, now fully off the ground. Breathing in, he pulled the Force into his arms and legs and reached upward for the closest knob of protruding rock, realizing in that moment that not every crevice was au naturel.
“Thank the Force,” he half-sighed in relief.
Confident in the plans he had made the night before, Tyraal pressed onward, propelling himself upward with each hand and foot. Breathing evenly, he methodically attacked the wall, choosing the best handholds for the most direct route possible. He had felt rather glum that the sun hadn’t shown yet but was now thankful for the absence of glare. As for the cool breeze, it was now a welcome way to cool down, keeping his hands dry despite the adrenaline pumping through his body. He had no company save for the birds that chirped below and above him, one of whom had decided to make a nest in a particular outcropping he was going to use. A chorus of chirps made him withdraw his hand quickly, forcing him to regain his balance for the briefest of heartbeats.
“Good morning there. You frightened me little ones. Stay quiet so mom doesn’t attack me, yeah?”
The Jedi paused for a moment to assess his options and then opted for a less direct route, utilizing a backup route slightly to his right. Satisfied all was still according to plan, the Clawdite climbed onward, time losing meaning. All he had to focus on was the next rock to grab or step on and the Force itself. Tyraal could feel it everywhere, the gorgeous backdrop of the mountain range somehow making it seem even more real. It was in the wind that tugged at his Jedi robes, the animals that called this region their home, and in the very rock the scared but exhilarated padawan clung to for life. A small part of him wondered how it felt to fly and if this would be the closest he would get to it.
Before he knew it, he was already most of the way up, the sun starting to poke through the clouds sporadically. He could see the end of his climb above him and hear the people whisper excitedly. Smiling he reached for an ambitious knob of rock and regretted it immediately. The Clawdite’s hand fell downward, the handhold naturally breaking off and disrupting his balance. He could feel his left foot’s grip slipping due to his momentum, half of it already off its hold. Panicking, Tyraal grabbed whatever bit of rock he could find with his free hand and jumped straight upwards like a rocket, trusting the Force to save him.
Feeling weightless for but a moment, he felt himself slow down and let the Force guide his hands to more outcroppings of rock. Almost on pure instinct, he jumped upward again the moment his limbs secured a hold. His heart beat frantically, no longer caring about his carefully laid plans as the rock wall seemed to slow down in front of him in his adrenaline rush. He wasn’t sure how much of the rock wall he had scaled in those two desperate jumps but he knew he was glad to see the edge of the plateau. Ignoring his protesting muscles, he channeled the Force once more to grab hold of the edge and slowly pulled himself onto flat ground. The crowd cheered for him, smiling faces clapping enthusiastically.
Tyraal breathed deeply for a moment or two, almost as if he was preparing to meditate, and looked at one of his bruised hands. It was still shaking but he was still alive. The Force had indeed been with him. Flying isn’t so much fun after all, he thought to himself, unable to speak the words while still recovering from the abrupt shock of his final ascent.
Eventually the clapping died down and the Clawdite became very aware that everyone was patiently waiting for him. The Jedi padawan stood up, took a deep breath, and walked towards his Master waiting at the other side of the plateau. Dressed in full Jedi attire and flanked by the Headmaster and other fellow Jedi Knights, the Zeltron waited for him, smiling expectantly. Ignoring the others and the way he must of looked, Tyraal made it all the way to the other side, stopping in front of her like she had instructed the previous day. Offering her his constructed saber, he kneeled and bowed his head. Aura took the saber and examined it, igniting its yellow blade for a moment and then shutting it off. Returned it to his side with the Force, she finally addressed him.
“For a long time, I have thought about what I would say when you passed your trials. I’ve had an ancient Jedi text in mind for some time but it never seemed to quite fit. Instead, I’ll speak from the heart. When I first met you, you were a headstrong padawan willing to try many things with the Force I wouldn’t dare touch. You scared me more than you probably know but you never backed down from a challenge and learned well what I had to teach. Over time we’ve learned to trust each other, learn from each other, and have even saved each others lives. My best friend, I am proud to say you have proven me wrong and I look forward to our adventures together as Jedi Knights.”
The Zeltron paused for a moment to wipe away a tear before continuing, trying not to get wrapped up in the strong emotions of her apprentice. She decided to cut her speech short to be on the safe side. Activating her blue lightsaber, she hovered it over his right shoulder.
“By the right of the Council,”
Aura moved her saber over to his left shoulder.
“By the will of the Force,”
The Zeltron moved the blue blade back over to his right.
“I dub thee Jedi, Knight of Odan-Urr.”
She flicked away her saber ceremoniously and turned it off.
“You may rise.”
Tyraal clipped his lightsaber to his belt and rose, beaming with happiness. Aura hugged him almost immediately, the emotions around her too strong to ignore. The Clawdite hugged back, accepting his fate. No words were said between them but none were needed.