Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 42

Ayli felt so weak. So crushingly tired and weak. The rage which had saved her from whatever was possessing Ravas’ body was still there, bubbling below the surface with an alien intensity since her emotions were completely drained.

The warmth of Nix’s hand in her own made that somehow more bearable though.

So perhaps she wasn’t completely drained.

“Where are you taking us?” she asked Ayli as they began climbing the rocky hillside above the third temple. She considered the Children of the Storm’s penchant for the overly dramatic and wondered if the rim of the volcano, or perhaps even somewhere in the caldera might be their destination but Nix apparently had other plans in mind.

“It’s not far,” Nix said. “I swung by there before finding you.”

“Evasive,” Ravas said, her tone far grumpier than Ayli had the energy to be.

“It’s something you need to see for yourself,” Nix said. “Both of you.”

In hindsight, Ayli realized that by allowing Ravas in, she’d impacted her relationship with Nix and lost a vital element of it. Up until they’d been a couple, whether they were really married or not, they were definitely building some between themselves. Something which couldn’t be just between them if Ravas was going to be a constant and unavoidable companion, privy to every word Ayli spoke and every thought that crossed her mind.

And Nix wasn’t phased by that? It wasn’t that Nix couldn’t see what had happened. She wasn’t denying that Ravas was her own person with goals and motives which were starkly different from Ayli’s. She was simply dealing with it as a thing that existed, with no thought to what it meant for their future together from what Ayli could see.

Ten thousand voices of doubt and betrayed trust slammed through that crack in her mind. The misery of Praxis Mar had taken many forms and there were endless echoes of the suffering thoughtless people could cause.

Except, Nix was being thoughtless.

She was the most thoughtful person Ayli had ever met. 

And she listened to the Force almost automatically.

The Force which was so aspected towards the Dark Side on Praxis Mar that it could hold the dead in place for a thousand years.

Nix turned around a corner and disappeared for a moment, sliding into what Ayli saw was a crack in the volcano’s exterior walls.

The Force screamed out to Ayli to beware. She was being led into a trap. Nix didn’t care about Ravas being a part of Ayli because she had foreseen in happening. The passage in front of Ayli led only to death, death at the hand of the one woman she would never see an attack coming from. 

Ayli felt her rage spark from dead embers to glowing coals. Not at Nix. At herself. She couldn’t be so far gone that she would fall for such a transparent ploy. Could she?

Nix had let go of Ayli’s hard in order to squeeze through the crevasse in the wall. It was harder without being in contact with Nix, but Ayli stomped down on the surge of fear and panic.

The Dark Side was a hell of a drug, but she’d been drugged before, and she knew better than to trust her own thoughts when she was feeling as addled as she was.

Nix was not planning to betray her. Nix had gone into the mountain because there was something worth seeing in there. Something…

Ayli felt a cool wind waft out of the cave.

There was something in there.

There was…

She pressed through the crevasse without noticing the scratches the rough wall left on her lekku.

The cave inside the mountain had been expanded. It wasn’t a large area, but there was space for a few adjoining hollows to serve as makeshift rooms.

And there was peace.

On a planet drowning in the Dark Side of the Force, there was a tiny little corner of it where serenity had taken root.

“I don’t understand,” the voice belonged to Ravas but the words could as easily have been Ayli’s.

“Your tomb is not where your body was laid to rest,” Kelda said.

“Her body is here?” Ayli asked, the expected stab of terror failing to materialize.

“Not any more,” Nix said. “I think we’ll probably find it in the tomb everyone thought it was in.”

“Why was it here at all?” Ravas asked.

“Because I wanted you to find the peace in death which you’d been cheated out of in life,” Kelda said.

“I wasn’t cheated,” Ravas said. “I deserved the suffering I endured. I deserved to die forgotten and alone for all that I did.”

“I couldn’t accept that,” Kelda said. “I still can’t.”

“What did you do?” Ravas asked.

“She built this,” Nix said, and led their odd party to the deepest of the chambers.

At the back of a small room stood a byre with a simple cloth covering atop it.

“I was here,” Ravas said. “All this time, I have been laying here. Protected.”

“The ghosts on this world are ground down to the tattered remnants of their worst memories,” Kelda said. “I didn’t know if you were still here with your undecaying body, but I couldn’t let you be swallowed by those things.”

“But you killed me?” Ravas said.

“No,” Kelda said. “It was your master who threw the switch on your pod. He tried to siphon your life away to gain the strength to protect himself from me.”

“He…” Ravas sounded like she wanted to object, to defend her master and deny that he would ever abuse their relationship like that. 

But that was too big of a lie.

Ayli saw memories of Ravas’ life flash through her mind.  Even a thousand years later, Ravas remembered her master’s cruelty and pettiness. And his cowardice. She’d been counting on that to keep her safe. 

A miscalculation. One of so many in her life.

“How did this place get so…like this?” Ayli asked, calm washing over her in gentle, rejuvenating waves.

“Kelda lived the rest of her life here,” Nix said. “Keeping watch over Ravas’ body, hidden away, and focused on reconnecting to the Force. I think in the end she succeeded and so we get this one spot where the tangles have come loose and the Force can be what it wants to be, unbound by ancient suffering.”

“You…why did you do that?” Ravas asked.

“I wasn’t there for you,” Kelda said. “And I failed us both.”

“You weren’t there because I left you,” Ravas said.

It took Ayli a moment to notice that Ravas had stepped out of her and that they were no longer connected in spirit or thought. Ayli shot a glance over to see if Nix had engineered that somehow but Nix was too engrossed in the conversation between the two Force ghosts to notice.

“You left me because I held back,” Kelda said. “If I’d told you how I felt, if I’d explained for ten damn seconds what I thought could happen, would you have left? Would it have come to this if I hadn’t let fear guide me away from the one thing in my life I should have been the bravest about?”

Ravas took a step back, blinking in surprise. Her mouth moved to form words but they were lost amidst the centuries of misunderstanding that stood between the two.

“No,” she said at last. “No. That’s not how it was. You weren’t afraid. You were never afraid. You were a good Jedi. You were the best of all of us.”

“In the eyes of our teachers? In competition with the other Padawans?” Kelda asked. “You knew me better than that. You knew how much I let everyone else’s view of me matter. How hard I tried to exceed the expectations they placed on us.”

“Exactly! The Jedi were everything to you!” Ravas said, throwing her hands into the air in ancient exasperation. 

“And you were nothing?” Ravas asked.

“In the end? What else could I be?”

“That’s why I stayed here,” Kelda said. “Because in the end, past the end even, you were the one I wanted to spend my life with. I thought I could have you and be the best Jedi there ever was. I thought all I needed to do was win enough to make everyone see that, and then they wouldn’t object to us.”

“That’s not how it works,” Ravas said. “You can’t win enough approval to go against traditions which are meant to control you.”

“Why did no one ever see that you were the smarter of two of us?” Kelda asked with a sad chuckle.

“Why would they?” Ravas asked. “I never wanted to be seen like that. I hated the expectations you lived under. Also, look where I wound up? How does this not prove that I’m the bigger idiot?”

“Question,” Ayli said. “If you lived and died here, why isn’t there a corpse in here? Did something else come by and loot the place before we got here? Or did it get up and wander around too?”

Ayli wasn’t concerned that Kelda’s body would come stumbling into view and try to lightsaber them all to death. She was terrified of that. Though the terror was a weak and distant thing thanks to the influence of the sacred cave.

“I let the Force take me completely when I died,” Kelda said. “It had been years since I’d last felt a wisp of any other spirits here.” She turned to Ravas. “I thought you were safe. Taken up by the Force after memories had faded. I thought you didn’t need me anymore.”

“I was sleeping, I think,” Ravas said. “I don’t know if it was the Force that took me, but I don’t think it was. I didn’t feel connected to anything outside myself.”

“When did you wake next?” Nix asked.

“I don’t know how long it was,” Ravas said. “People had come to the temple. Not the Children of the Storm. They were later. A Sith Master and apprentice found Praxis Mar, and were exploring our workings here.”

“What did you do?” Nix asked.

“Nothing. I was fainter than I am now. And not connected to either of them,” Ravas said. “Which was for the best. The apprentice betrayed and killed his master, who killed him in return. Their deaths were minor compared to the ones which scoured the planet of life, but they fed the Dark Side here nonetheless. That put me back to sleep I think. The pattern repeated a few more times before the Children of the Storm showed up.”

“And they never found this place, or moved your body?” Nix asked.

“I didn’t even know of this place, and no one else ever came close as far as I know,” Ravas said.

“I didn’t want them too,” Kelda said. “I didn’t want anyone to disturb you, even if that body wasn’t really you any longer.”

“Maybe it was,” Nix said. “Where else would Ravas’ spirit have slept but in her own bones? Her body was spent, but it could still have served as a refuge for her spirit.”

“Oh, yes, I suppose that could have been true,” Kelda said. “I wanted to protect her and so I imagined she might know, on some level, that I was watching over her, but maybe I really was.”

“I think you were,” Ravas said. “When I woke, I felt…safe isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps unconcerned? I thought it was because I was dead and had nothing left to be afraid of, no ability to even feel fear, but that doesn’t seem to be true.”

“You were both protected and protector I think,” Nix said. “While Kelda, and later her spirit, kept watch over you, you were protecting your body from anything else that might try to inhabit it.”

“But when I left, when I came to you…” Ravas said, the implications becoming startlingly clear.

“You left your corpse open for someone else to make use of,” Nix said. “Something with enough of a connection to you to sense when you were gone.”

“Something terrible if it came from this place,” Ayli said.

“Not something,” Ravas said, her expression going hard as stone. “Someone.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.