Ahsoka pivoted on her heel, spinning to the side and bringing her lightsaber down taking off the head of a large hound like creature.
"Let's hide in the temple" she yelled at Leon, "Great idea".
"So not having this conversation with you right now" Leon yelled back backing himself against a wall and moving as another hound jumped at him.
The animal's saliva dripping jaws missed their intended target instead meeting the stone wall and as the animal dropped to the ground Leon quickly reared his leg back and with all his strength kicked the side of its neck knocking it down and stabbing his lightsaber into its throat.
The two padawans had crashed on Korriban a Sith world in the outer rim after a hyper drive malfunction. First they were attacked by a large lizard like predator that severely wounded Leon before Ahsoka was able to kill it then after exploring for a bit they were cornered by another much larger predator and forced to flee. With only one option available to them they hid inside a large temple like structure that turned out to actually be an academy to teach students about the dark side of the Force, a Sith academy.
It seemed to be safe at first at least they got away from whatever was chasing them outside, but after another short exploration they were attacked yet again by more animals of the dark side. Thankfully unlike the large lizard they faced the day before these things were easy to kill though they did show a higher intelligence than their previous enemy they were far weaker. They made up for their weakness in numbers however, easily over two dozen of them had attacked them so far in small packs of three or four or five each, the two Jedi were managing well considering the situation, but the hounds just kept coming.
"Dammit" Leon yelled dispatching another one, "How many of these things are there?"
"Just stay focused" Ahsoka tried to tell him, "Their attacks are slowing there can't be many more".
Stepping to the side and bringing his lightsaber down across the neck of another hound Leon turned toward Ahsoka, "These things better be edible…I'm getting too hungry for this crap".
"You cannot be serious" she yelled at him, "Can you stop thinking about food for two seconds?"
Jumping back to avoid a bite Leon activated his second lightsaber and stabbed it behind him while driving his main hand forward impaling two more hounds, "Tell my stomach not me".
"Argh you're so annoying" she groaned evading one of the hounds and pushing it away, "Next time I'm leading".
Only one hound left and its blood thirsty eyes were locked on Ahsoka the shimmering, humming green light of her lightsaber barely illuminating her face through the darkness. Ahsoka stepped back falling into a defensive stance, but tripped when she slid her foot behind her falling over the corpse of one of the slain beasts. Its prey grounded the hound snarled and charged forward leaping at her. Holding her lightsaber up Ahsoka closed her eyes as the hound yelped upon falling onto the weapon's blade impaling itself.
The last of the hostile animals dead Ahsoka switched off her weapon and crawled back to her feet, "I hate this place".
"Hate is looking a little weak right now" Leon muttered as he joined her, "You ok?"
She nodded, "No thanks to you yes".
"Look here" he began turning to her, "You were the one that pointed out the hole that led us in here".
"And whose idea was it to run this way in the first place?"
Leon took a step back and quickly shook his head, "Dammit".
"Exactly" she huffed at him, "So next time I'll decide where we're going".
"Not that" he groaned dropping to his knees, "Dammit not now, not here".
Ahsoka spun around and watched as he began coughing each harsh hack echoing through the corpse filled room.
Kneeling next to him she tried rubbing her hand over his back, "It's going to be ok just relax. You'll be fine".
Leon's eyes clenched shut and his face twisted as he struggled against the coughs coming through his clenched teeth. His body lurched with each convulsion and they were slowly becoming worse.
"I'm alright" he coughed, "Just give me" another cough this one rough enough to almost bring him to the ground, "Just give me a minute".
He struggled to regain his breath inhaling as much as he could and holding it as he focused the Force inward toward his lungs trying to purge the phony cells that provoked his spell. Slowly his body eased and fell limp in Ahsoka's arms as he fully collapsed to the ground.
"Leon?" she gasped when he dropped.
"I'm ok" he panted, "Just…really tired…again…still hungry".
Ahsoka rolled her eyes and groaned, "You're insufferable".
He smiled at her weakly as he turned over onto his back, "Just help me up".
Taking his hand and pulling him to his feet Ahsoka held his shoulder and arm until she was sure he could balance himself, "Ok so what now?"
Leon looked around at the dead hounds, "Well after this many I would hope that that's all we'll have to deal with in here, but this place is big so there may be more further in. Of course I'd rather not go any deeper into this place than we already have".
Ahsoka looked back at the hole in the wall they used to enter, "That thing is probably still out there we could try to risk it and make a run for it, but I don't want to take that chance honestly".
"What's that?" Leon mumbled walking away from Ahsoka and over toward a faint light.
Through the darkness and corpse and bone littered floor was another faint light a purple light and the closer they got to it the more uneasy they felt. Turning the corner Leon froze when he saw the source of the light. A patch of the ground was radiating a strong nexus of dark side energy strong enough, focused enough, concentrated enough that it was visible.
"That's not good" Ahsoka said taking a fearful step back, "We shouldn't go near that…I've never felt the dark side so strongly not even on Mortis".
"Not even in Dooku" Leon muttered, "This is…amazing".
"What?" she gasped.
"Not in a good way" he defended, "I never knew the force could be physically visible like this…for this world to have such a natural and powerful flow of the force even if it is the dark side…" he shook his head, "It doesn't matter we should avoid it".
Stepping back with her Leon turned around returning to the entrance of the temple.
"We can't just stay here all day until that thing leaves" Leon said leaning against the wall, "We have to do something".
"Maybe its not out there anymore" Ahsoka suggested, "Its been a while at least I think it has maybe it got tired of waiting and left".
Leon shook his head, "I don't know I've seen some predators wait for hours for their prey then again this place is nothing like Dantooine. This isn't farmlands and plains, alright I'll go check".
"Absolutely not" Ahsoka snapped stopping him, "You're still injured. If it is still out there I'll have a better chance of slipping back in before it gets me in your condition you'll strain yourself trying to squeeze through there".
Leon looked down at his injured arms during the rush of battle he was able to ignore the screaming pain, but now that he was focused on them it was almost unbearable it felt like his very nerves were trying to rip themselves free from the wounded limbs.
"Alright" he reluctantly agreed he didn't want to risk putting Ahsoka in any danger, but she was right, "You go check".
She nodded, "Don't worry I have no intention of fighting that thing if it's still out there, I'll be right back".
Watching Ahsoka vanish through the crack in the wall Leon looked around the room, he wondered what it was about the dark side that tempted so many people through history it couldn't have just been power alone there had to be other reasons. His thoughts were quickly interrupted by a voice, but it wasn't Ahsoka's it didn't come from outside it came from the shadows. Standing up from the wall he drew and switched on his lightsaber pointing it at the darkness.
"Show yourself now" he shouted.
The voice continued to speak in a whisper that echoed everywhere a loud whisper with unintelligible words, a different language possibly, but he had the feeling whatever it was saying was directed at him.
"Who are you? Where are you?" he shouted again.
He couldn't even discern the speaker's gender, but he had a strong feeling, he knew that whatever it was saying it was definitely addressing him.
Stepping forward Leon shouted out again and finally a response he could understand, pain. A strong wave was shot toward him and his back was slammed into the wall.
Standing back up he glared in the direction the wave came from, "Alright so that's how you want to play" he readied his lightsaber and cautiously advanced forward into the dark enshrouded corner the whispers still ringing all around him.
Advancing further until the only light he could see was his lightsaber he finally stopped the voice still whispering to him. Nothing attacked him this time, but he was beginning to feel a heavy presence of the dark side just like the small visible patch he and Ahsoka found and it made him uneasy. The presence of whatever was whispering to him was so overwhelming it was making him nauseous forcing him to retreat.
"Leon?" Ahsoka called to him as he stepped out from the shadows, "What were you doing?"
Switching his lightsaber off and returning it to his belt he looked back at the shadows, "I heard something…Either I'm seriously starting to go crazy or there's someone here".
His stomach was still inside out from the presence he just sensed he felt like he was only seconds away from keeling over and vomiting a dark side presence so strong he felt sick, if someone else really was here they needed to not be.
"Is it still out there?" he asked her.
A defeated look encompassed her face as she nodded, "Yeah. Its not hanging around the entrance, but its still out there. I doubt its waiting for us, but it would definitely see us if we left".
"Dammit" Leon growled, "Why couldn't we crash somewhere some where else…This is so not my ideal location for a date".
"Date?" Ahsoka repeated.
Leon's stomach churned again, "Never mind…Strangely I find that I'm not even in the mood for jokes".
"Wow you must be tired" she scoffed, "Honestly I should try to take advantage of this".
Leon nodded his head to the side, "Well you do owe me quite a few punches…not physical ones" he quickly corrected pointing at her.
She innocently smirked at him, "I have no idea what you're talking about".
"Of course you don't" he replied sarcastically before a sudden harsh cough shot from his mouth.
"Leon" Ahsoka gasped grabbing his arm and shoulder.
"I'm ok" he said standing up, "Think that was just a normal one…probably just the dust everywhere".
"Don't scare me like that" she said slapping his arm.
"So you are worried about me" he grinned.
"Of course I am you idiot" she folded her arms and looked around the room, "If you suddenly dropped I wouldn't have anyone to distract that thing for me".
"I am not your meat shield".
Ahsoka chuckled at his response, "We should start looking around hopefully we can find another exit".
Leon immediately pointed to their right toward an ancient damaged stone door, "There's one over there" falling silent when he realized what he said.
"How would you know?" Ahsoka asked him.
Leon was silent, how did he know that it was as if he answered on instinct like he had been here before.
"How did I know" he wondered, of course he had never been here before, but the sudden reflexive response.
"Leon" Ahsoka's raised voice called to him, "Don't space out on me".
"Sorry" he brought his finger up to his lip, "I don't know how I know that I just feel like I do".
She stepped in front of him and looked him right in the eyes, "Are you feeling ok? Be honest with me, I'm worried about you".
It was the first time they made direct eye contact with each other since that night, the night he told her his true feeling about her that he loved her. It was nice to be able to look into her eyes again even if they were filled with concern and fear.
He gave her a weak smile, "This place is just getting to me" he looked down, "Maybe it's the fatigue on top of my injuries, but I feel like I'm losing it" he looked back into her eyes again still smiling, "I'm going to need your help to get through this because I feel like I'm on the razor's edge here".
She could see it in his eyes, fear. He was afraid, terrified of this place and its oppressive atmosphere afraid of everything that could happen. She had only seen him like this once before he never seemed like the type to show fear over anything, but now she could see he was moments away from breaking down. Maybe it was his injuries coupled with the exhaustion or maybe he was being afraid so she wouldn't have to which sounded like something he'd do, but to see him like this worried her.
"I'm here for you" she told him quietly, "We'll get through this, so don't go freaking out on me ok".
His hand rose and rested against her cheek just like it had multiple times in the past, it rested there and even though his smile faded as he continued looking into her eyes he was smiling on the inside. For the first time she didn't flinch or withdraw, the first time his hand rested against her face and she didn't move even as she looked into his eyes and him into hers seeing that same look that had made her nervous so many times before the same look that made her panic and run from him and now she stood her ground staring right back at it. He felt a different pain now, it wasn't his physical wounds that pained him no those had temporarily ceased to exist to him it was his heart now, as he gazed into her eyes he could feel his heart once again crying he loved her and seeing the strength in her as she stood there in front of him and how much she cared about him. He wanted to kiss her, even if she wouldn't approve of it he was tempted and that bothered him, through his entire life he had never been tempted by anything sure he gave in to impulse a lot always making ill-timed jokes, but he had never been tempted by anything.
Right as his hand began trembling he lowered it and turned away from her, "Thank you Ahsoka…we should get moving".
She didn't realize it until his hand left her face, but her heart was racing it was beating so fast she could barely feel it. Suddenly it became hard to breathe she felt lightheaded and weak like her legs were about to buckle and give out on her seeing that look in his eyes again somehow it felt different this time. She felt like she was being drawn to him like she wanted to stay as close to him as possible it didn't make any sense. In the past that look scared her more worried her than fear, but it scared her because she began to wonder if that was the real Leon the one side of him that was always honest and sincere. She had seen several sides to him since she met him and each of them had their moments, but she always felt like each of them were never a hundred percent honest except that one.
It was that look that always managed to shake her whenever she saw it, until now. She wanted to see it again she could feel that wish tugging at her mind, she wanted to see that look again it calmed her this time made her feel light and happy. Her heart was still racing her chest completely numb from its frantic pace.
"Is this how Leon felt?" she wondered looking over to him as he began walking quietly following after him, "Is that how he felt the whole time?"
Standing in front of the door Leon pointed out a loud rumbling noise echoed through the room the unmistakable sound of stone grinding against stone and then slowly the door slid open releasing a cloud of dirt and dust. An ancient mechanism that's what it must have been regardless they were surprised to see that something still worked in here. A ramped hallway awaited them on the other side of the stone door leading to what looked like another floor. Ascending to the next level they entered another large squared room with five doors one in each corner and a fifth directly across from them in the middle of the wall. A quick inspection revealed three of the corner doors to be locked with the fourth leading to a circular room with various monitor looking devices and another door on the opposite side.
Through that door was a large rectangle room easily twice the size of the first squared room its walls lined with dozens of steel chambers big enough to hold full grown man and then there were three that were much bigger as if they were meant to hold a large beast. Considering what they had seen of this place so far they wouldn't be surprised.
"Some kind of arena maybe?" Leon guessed looking around, "That would explain the separation of the rooms and the monitors, but these cages…contestants? Specimens?"
"It doesn't matter" Ahsoka said, "I don't see any other doors so let's go back".
Returning to the squared second floor room they tried the fifth door in the middle of the wall it rumbled a little and slid open, but stopped and they heard something collapse within the walls.
"Guess we broke it" Leon said.
"We can fit through here though" Ahsoka replied easily slipping through the cracked door with Leon following her.
Standing up on the other side they were amazed at what they saw, a library. Fully lit with lights everywhere and the walls were lived with thousands upon thousands of books.
"Well there is a saying that knowledge is power" Leon muttered, "Of course the Sith's view of power is a corrupt one".
Walking over to a shelf he pulled a dust layered book and opened it.
"Don't read that" Ahsoka snapped at him stopping him from opening it, "Everything in here is of the dark side we shouldn't be anywhere near any of it".
"Unless it suddenly forms a mouth filled with razor sharp teeth or blows up in my hands I don't think a book is going to be much of a threat to us" he turned from her and opened it, "Besides there may be some information in here somewhere that we can use to get out of here".
Skimming over the pages despite Ahsoka's protests he sighed when he saw that everything was in a language he didn't recognize.
"Damn, this is some weird language I can't read it".
"That's good" Ahsoka said still protesting the idea.
Ignoring her words Leon spotted a book that was titled in basic and quickly claimed it from the shelves, "Now we're getting somewhere, this one is in galactic basic…" skimming through the pages a wide grin appeared on his face, "We're definitely making progress, it mentions the history of this academy as well as underground training and meditation rooms. There are details about the spaceport and even the Valley of the Dark Lords. There might be something in here we can use to find a way out and around that thing so we can get back to the ship".
Ahsoka still seemed hesitant about reading the book he found, "I don't feel comfortable using that".
"It's a book" he told her, "There's not even any proof that it was written by the Sith maybe it was an actual architect. Even if it was the Sith who wrote it if it gets us out of here I don't care its better than dying here".
"You have a point" Ahsoka admitted, "Still I don't think we should use any of this".
"Alright" Leon said setting the book down, "We'll look for something else, but if we don't find anything else that helps us we come back here deal".
She nodded, "Deal and thanks. I want to get out of here to its just…even the thought of using any of this makes me uneasy".
"I understand" Leon said, "I'm just ready to go home…shall we try the transceiver again?"
Ahsoka reached for her belt, "I forgot I brought it with us…It didn't work the first time".
"There's no harm in trying again. Besides even if it's a small chance it's a bit of hope we could use right now".
"This is Ahsoka Tano of the Jedi Order to any Republic base within range does anyone copy?"
Silence, "I repeat this is Ahsoka Tano of the Jedi Order to any Republic base within range does anyone copy?"
Still silence, "I don't know why I'm surprised" she sighed.
"We're going to get out of here" he said, "One way or another we'll make it out of here, both of us".
A strange voice filled the room calling to them, the same whisper Leon heard earlier.
"What is that?" Ahsoka said looking around.
"Oh joy this again" Leon moaned before shouting, "Either speak basic or shut up".
"Is it" the whispering voice started to say, "You seek".
"What's going on?" Ahsoka asked backing into Leon, "What is that?"
"I heard it before after you went to check outside" Leon told her, "It attacked me whatever it is. It felt like a force push, but I didn't see anything".
"How is that possible?"
"What is it you seek?" the voice asked them.
"Food and a way out of here" Leon answered placing his arm around Ahsoka's back gently grabbing her waist.
"Do not" the voice sounded angry and closer, "Belong here…Jedi".
Pulling Ahsoka with him Leon backed them into a wall and pushed Ahsoka behind him, "Of course we don't belong here why do you think we want to leave".
The sick feeling in his stomach returned, there was an overwhelming presence of the dark side getting closer to them. A minute later and the voice had yet to respond to them the presence of the dark side was still strong, but the voice was gone leaving both of them wondering who or what it was.
"I think we should leave" Ahsoka said stepping out from behind him.
"There has to be a way out of here somewhere we just have to find it".
Ahsoka hugged her arms, "I feel sick…"
"I do to" Leon admitted, "Let's just hang in there we'll lean on each other if we have to".
Leaving the library and returning to the second floor lobby they heard something from the viewing room they investigated earlier. The door was open and inside something was growling.
"Should we check it out?" Leon asked, "I'd rather not have something else sneaking up on us".
Ahsoka nodded, "Hopefully we can get the drop on whatever it is and take it out quick".
Entering the room adjacent to the training arena they looked around the growling had stopped and there was nothing inside, but before either of them could question why one of the viewing monitors came to life. The screen showed an old recording of a Sith apprentice fighting a large beast the same type of creature that chased them into this place. The Sith managed to kill the beast, but then the recording stopped and began playing backwards rewinding to the beginning of the fight. The Sith stood in the middle of the arena and one of the large cages on the wall opened revealing a hole behind it and a few seconds later the Sith's beast opponent stepped out and then the recording ended and the monitor died.
"Did you see that?" Ahsoka asked him, "There was some kind of hole behind that cage".
"Think it might be a way out?" Leon asked her.
"Maybe, but if one of those things came out of it I'm not to sure I want to find out for myself…I don't like it. When we were in here earlier there wasn't a trace of anything then we hear that voice this door is open and when we enter the monitor just happens to show us something that might help us. I think we're being set up for something".
"I'm not sure what I would find more surprising" Leon said looking back at the monitor, "The fact that someone is trying to bait us or the fact that someone is alive on this planet".
"So what should we do?"
Leon shifted his focus to the door leading to the arena, "Let's go check it out just a peek it couldn't hurt".
Ahsoka crossed her arms and shrugged, "It could, it could hurt a little, could hurt a lot" she nodded to his bandaged arms and he grinned sheepishly.
"Yeah…I've been trying to focus on healing them while we've been walking around, but its hard to concentrate in this place. I haven't made much progress".
"At least you're getting use out of what Barriss has taught you" Ahsoka said leaning against the wall, "You had her teach you so you could use it to suppress your illness right? How do you do that?"
"Basically I'm using the Force and trying to heal the cells as they attack each other although when focused to a cellular level the Force is incredibly hard to control. The problem is my control over the Force isn't that great I'm willing to bet some of the younglings back at the Temple can wield the Force better than me. I have to do it all the time though so at all times half of my attention is set on keeping this virus suppressed otherwise it probably would've killed me by now".
"All the time?" Ahsoka asked to which he nodded, "How do you fight while doing that?"
Leon shrugged, "I've always been a fighter so most of the time I don't need to be fully focused while fighting of course there are times when it doesn't matter. Even if I'm suppressing the virus it can still hit me if it manages to get bad enough ultimately in the end its just a matter of luck".
"I see" Ahsoka said looking at the floor, "Sorry I was curious".
He told her, "Its fine as long as I keep it in check everything will be good" he nodded to the door leading to the arena, "Come on let's keep going".
Returning to the arena like room they both froze in mid step when they saw the same cage on the recording was opened and inside it a massive hole in the wall. With nerve racking caution they approached the cage and its hidden entrance peering inside to see a large cavern.
"Well that's…Deep" Leon noted staring into the cavern, "So who wants to go into the dark spooky hole first?"
"It was your idea you go first" Ahsoka told him.
"Oh fine" he fake groaned stepping inside a few yards, "This place is big" he stood at the edge of a manmade ramp and looked down into the depths of the cavern, "This place easily goes down for a while probably even below the valley".
"I don't like it" Ahsoka said standing in the entryway not wanting to take another step Leon could tell why.
"Yeah the dark side is somehow stronger down here. There's also a chance that something might be down here, but what other choice do we have".
Ahsoka composed herself and joined him, "We don't have any other options, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. We're going to stay together down here no matter what no splitting up".
Leon agreed taking point and leading her down the manmade ramp into the underground cavern. The place was enormous there were no walls or ends in sight from where they stood just slopes of stone and pillars that had been carved down from water or other natural occurrences. Their only real guide through the sprawling darkness was the manmade path with faint torches every few yards although the further they went the stronger the dark side became and they could sense the presence of the creatures calling the cavern their home. Coming to this place was a bad idea something was going to happen, but what other choice did they have every door they found was either locked or led to a room with no other way in or out and then there was that voice they heard just who or what was it and why did it speak to them and more importantly was it trying to lead them somewhere.
Continuing along the stone path they reached an intersection splitting into three other paths each leading down a dimly lit path. Neither path seemed worth taking of course just standing where they were or going back wasn't going to help them.
"This isn't helping" Leon yelled into the darkness, "Whoever you are about a damn map or something".
Ahsoka yanked his arm and shushed him, "Quiet are you trying to bring every creature in this place to us".
He sighed and apologized, "Which way you feel like taking?"
Ahsoka closed her eyes and turned to the path leading to the right and started walking praying to the Force that it would lead them to something useful. Leon followed staying a single step behind her checking over each of his shoulders every few seconds not wanting anything to sneak up on them. Finally the path ended at a tall door with foreign inscriptions covering its surface and curved sconces lining each of its sides. The door didn't open like the others perhaps there was a trick to opening it they though they both had the feeling something bad would be waiting on the other side.
Suggesting they backtrack and try another path Ahsoka turned around and began walking stopping in her tracks when a rumbling sound vibrated the ground they stood on. The two padawans turned back to the door that was now slowly opening a trapped gust of wind rushing to its freedom almost making them stumble back a step and when the doors were fully open they heard the voice again call to them welcoming them.
"Enter" it whispered.
"How about saying please" Leon muttered to himself taking the lead again keeping his hands over his lightsabers ready to defend himself should anything attack them.
Inside the doors behind them began closing slowly, but neither of them bothered to try and leave they turned their backs to the door and continued forward leaving it to close. Further in and finding multiple empty chamber like rooms with smashed ceramic vases and bowls and beds carved from stone even what looked like an alter in one room they continued forward ignoring anything that didn't actually seem important. At the end of the long corridor they came across another door this one damaged and one side hanging open allowing them to duck under and enter the next room where they found a shrine. Or at least what looked like one, a statue in the far back center of the room of a figure sitting on its knees and its hands cupped against each other as if the figure was meditating and upon its pedestal a plaque. Time had worn away its words leaving most of the plate unreadable, but at the top one word remained legible.
"Darth Zannah?" Ahsoka wondered, "A Sith Lord?"
"Probably" Leon answered, "From what I understand the title Darth is only given to the most powerful of Sith Lords…I've heard that name before I just can't remember who she was".
"She?" Ahsoka repeated turning to him.
He nodded, "Darth Zannah was female I remember that much".
She scoffed, "Of course that's what you remember".
Leon shrugged, "From what few historic accounts remain from back then she was beautiful".
Ahsoka scoffed again and turned her back to him, "You really have a one track mind don't you?"
Leon continued trying to recall what he read about Darth Zannah, "If I remember correctly she was the apprentice to Darth Bane…He was the Sith Lord who created what's referred to as".
"The Rule of Two" the whisper voice echoed around them, "Always there shall be two no more no less. One to represent power and one to crave it one master and one apprentice".
"It's not polite to interrupt" Leon hollered, "How about showing yourself after leading us all the way down here huh? What are you hiding for?"
The voice chuckled, "Do not get the wrong idea I do not hide I am merely observing you".
"You could at least introduce yourself" Leon whispered, "So why observe us are you that bored?"
"Perhaps" the voice answered, "I feel as though I've met or seen you before so let's say for now I'm curious".
"You know there's a saying" Leon said stepping forward in front of Ahsoka, "Curiosity killed the gizka…so you'd best be careful I'm not in the mood for any kind of games".
"Oh you misunderstand" it laughed again, "I have no intention of doing anything to either of you other than observing in fact if you like I can lead you to a ship that works of course that will come at a price".
"What kind of price?" Leon asked before Ahsoka grabbed his jacket and tugged at him.
"What are you doing?"
"Buying time until I can figure out what's going on" he whispered, "So what kind of price are we talking about?"
"There's a certain item hidden in another tomb in this cavern I cannot reach it if you bring it to me then I will show you the way to another ship you can use to leave this world".
"And if we decline?"
The voice chuckled, "Then you may spend the remainder of your lives here it makes no difference to me. Time does not exist to one such as I. Eventually I will have what I seek I just figured you would like to benefit from my search as well".
"In that case you wouldn't mind if we thought about it. It's not everyday a bodiless voice comes to us with an offer so we're understandably cautious about this".
Again the voice chuckled, "By all means take your time in considering just remember I may be patient, but this world and the creatures that inhabit it are not".
The voice fell silent leaving the two of them alone once again. Both of them were skeptical and cautious about everything that had just happened with only a couple of questions answered, but a dozen new questions to replace them.
"What the hell is going on here?" Leon wondered sitting against a rock jutting from the ground.
"I have no idea" Ahsoka nervously answered, "This entire world seems to be a big mess and now we have a voice offering us a deal, can we trust him or whatever it is?"
Leon shrugged, "Hard to say. The obvious answer would be no, but if it does know a way off this world".
"It could be lying" Ahsoka pointed out, "Why should we trust it?"
Leon answered, "We don't really have any other options except continuing to look around on our own. I don't like it, but even if it's a small chance I think it's our only bet…" he sighed, "This really sucks" he felt a painful twinge in his temple and rubbed his forehead.
Ahsoka's back was to him as she hugged her arms again, "I don't like it, but I don't see any other option either. This place is too big for us to just go wondering around aimlessly. We'd starve before making any real progress".
"We'd probably dehydrate long before that happened" Leon corrected a painful slur in his words as a headache over took him.
"Are you ok?" Ahsoka asked hearing him groan.
"Just got a really bad headache all of a sudden" he answered, "My stomach feels like its on fire".
"I feel sick to" Ahsoka admitted, "Its got to be this world the dark side is everywhere on it".
Leon groaned again the pain accompanying each of his words, "Dammit, everything burns…" he suddenly yelled and dropped to his knees clenching at his injured arm the one that was bitten the day before, "It hurts".
Hearing the agony in his words Ahsoka rushed to him and unwrapped the bandages around his arm, her eyes widening when she saw why he was in pain. The skin around his injury and the blood covered torn flesh inside was turning a pale purple as if it was decaying.
"What is this?" she gasped before Leon gasped in even more pain, "An infection?" she wondered.
Leon yanked his arm from her, "Dammit it won't stop…it burns".
"Leon try to calm down" Ahsoka told him, "Just try to breathe and focus we can fix this".
Grabbing his shoulder she gently guided him to the floor kneeling next to him as his face continued to twist in pain.
"Alright just breathe" she told him, "Remember what Barriss taught you just use the Force to heal it I'll help you as best I can".
"I can't focus" he panted gritting his teeth against the burning pain in his wound, "What's happening to me?"
He screamed again and Ahsoka began to panic, "Just stay calm" she grabbed both of his shoulders and pleaded, "You can do this I believe in you".
Struggling to control his breathing Leon blocked out the pain in his infected arm and closed his eyes he could still feel Ahsoka's hands on his shoulders they were warm a relaxing sense of relief amongst the pain. Just knowing she was there next to him he was able to think, wait maybe that was the key. He grabbed one of her hands with his uninjured arm she didn't seem to mind as he did, it was warm and brought a slight smile to his face. He was able to focus as long as he kept thinking about her about how happy he was to have her next to him. Slowly the pain began to fade along with the burning sensation and the torn skin and flesh began to mend at a surprising speed however the pale purple coloration remained and there were cracks in his forearm now as if his skin was made of brittle clay.
"Something still looks wrong, but how are you feeling?"
"A lot better than I was" he answered, "I don't know what happened, but I never want to feel that again".
Ahsoka removed one hand from his shoulders her other was still being held by him, "Don't scare me like that".
He opened his eyes and once again looked right into hers, "Thank you".
Ahsoka smiled returning his gaze and helped him up, "Can you walk?"
He nodded, "I think so, but…if you don't mind".
She smiled and turned sideways letting him lean on her one arm wrapping over her shoulders, "Don't try to make a habit out of this" she joked.
He weakly tried to laugh, "If it gets me this close to you I'll make it a bi-daily event".
"Yeah yeah" she replied helping him walk leading him out of the shrine room and back to the cavern.
The temple door opened for them just as it did last time and they stepped out immediately being met by a spine tingling familiar roar. Ahead of them was a large creature, the same creature they had seen outside or at least one of the same species and now that she was getting a close look at it Ahsoka recognized it to be the same creature from her dream a few days ago. A terentatek as Master Luminara called it a vicious predator born of the dark side that hunted and fed off the blood of force sensitive people. The presence of this creature paralyzed them Leon was still trying to catch his breath and the dark side aura of this creature was strong. The large predator roared again and charged toward them its long clawed arms extended out ready to swing at them.
Throwing all of his weight to the side Leon tackled Ahsoka to the ground avoiding the monster's claws and activated his lightsaber swinging upwards missing the creature, but managing to get it to back off a few steps. The large predator had instincts it seems it did recognize the danger the weapon posed, it growled at them as they got to their feet keeping its distance from them for right now, but once they started running. Leon kept his lightsaber active as they stepped away from the monster, but once they turned to run it gave chase not wanting to let its prey escape.
It chased them through the cavern back to the fork in the manmade path forcing them to keep running before they could remember which way they came from chasing them through winding paths that crossed and looped quickly becoming lost as they continued to flee. Reaching a dead end they turned as the creature closed in on them they had no choice, but to fight now. Both Jedi activated their lightsabers realizing they had no choice left and prepared to defend themselves. The terentatek approached its cornered prey claws raised ready to strike them down and then it stumbled forward its claws falling.
A shriek from behind it and the monster stumbled forward then another shriek and it stumbled again before turning around. Fat winged creatures were attacking it a whole flock of them at least a dozen maybe they were near their nest or the noise attracted them either way they were distracting the massive predator giving the two padawans the chance they needed to escape. Slipping past the swarm of winged animals they fled back into the caverns taking random turns as they found them until they realized they were completely lost.
"Is this the way we came?" Ahsoka asked.
"I don't think so" Leon answered, "I didn't really have time to check our surroundings while running from that thing".
"We can't be lost" Ahsoka said, "There has to be a way somewhere we can't be trapped down here".
The voice from earlier returned, "Take the path to the left".
"Thanks for joining us" Leon shouted, "You can show yourself any time you know".
"Oh I'm much closer than you think, but now is not the time. The path to your left will lead you to a chasm across the bridge you will find another path take the first right you find and that will lead you back to the fork you first found when you entered here".
"Thanks?" Leon said, "So after we get out of this place you show yourself to us and we make a deal from there?"
"Maybe" the voice answered before falling silent.
"I can't stand the thought of trusting whatever that is" Ahsoka said.
"Honestly" Leon began, "At this point I don't care as long as it gets us out of here".
Taking the path to the left they ran for few minutes until they entered a large area with a gorge in the middle. A single narrow stone bridge connected the two sides, but there was no railing on either side and below them nothing, but darkness. The voice told them across the bridge and then they would find another path that would lead them back to where they started. It was there only choice which seemed to be the theme of the day, slowly Leon stepped out on the bridge first checking to make sure it was stable.
Reaching the middle he turned to Ahsoka and waved for her to follow, "It's good let's go".
He waited for her to rejoin him at the center before moving on they crossed the bridge together holding onto each other's arm in case one of them slipped. If the situation and location were different Leon would consider this a golden opportunity, but for now he had to focus he couldn't allow himself to get distracted not now. He tightened his grip on Ahsoka's hand guiding her across, but she could tell from his grip that he was holding her because he needed to keep reminding himself of their situation she knew him well enough to know that something was on his mind and he needed to keep it blocked out for now.
Finally reaching the other side of the bridge he released her hand and stepped forward looking at the torch lit path ahead of them, "Looks like this is it".
"Let's just get out of here" Ahsoka said stepping over to him before something roared at them from the shadows.
Instincts taking over they both fell into a defensive stance their lightsabers flaring to life as another terentatek revealed itself from the path they were about to take. This one was scared all over with claw and bite marks all over its back and sides it was possible that it was the same one that they just escaped from.
"Blast it, how did it find us again?" Ahsoka yelled.
"Forget that how did it get over here ahead of us?" Leon yelled back as they stepped back from the injured monster.
It wasn't going to let them get away this time, the massive predator advanced on them as if its bleeding injuries didn't matter to it at all, its blood freezing growls sent shivers of fear through them as they backed to the edge of the bridge.
"Can we get around it?" Ahsoka wondered.
"Maybe" Leon answered, "Its big and we saw how fast it is, but it doesn't look like it can turn that easily if we can both jump over it or duck under its arms we could get away before it starts chasing us again".
The monster took another step toward them, "Your call" Leon said, "Try to get around it or lead it across the bridge and get around it on the other side".
A light bulb lit up in Ahsoka's mind, "Why don't we lead it onto the bridge and use the Force to knock it off?"
"That could work. Assuming it doesn't turn out to be immune to the Force as well then it's going to be a lot harder".
"It's worth a try" Ahsoka told him backing across the bridge first with Leon close behind her.
The terentatek followed after them stepping onto the chasm spanning bridge growling at them with each step. Almost to the other side the two young Jedi stopped when the monster threw its arms out to the side and roared before its pace picked up and it began running toward them.
"Dammit" Leon growled extending his hand sending out a wave of Force power to try and push the monster away from them.
It worked a little, the terentatek's advance was halted and it stumbled slightly, but when it regained its footing it roared and charged them again. Trying again this time Ahsoka joined him, but the result was the same the monster just slid back a few inches only becoming angrier. It was almost within reach pushing them to the end of the bridge when Leon finally stopped.
"Alright try this" he reared his arm back and lunged forward throwing his lightsaber at the monster's legs.
The terentatek roared as the lightsaber sliced at its legs causing it to loose its footing and slip almost sliding off the edge of the bridge.
"There's our chance" Ahsoka yelled running forward and leaping over the monster.
Leon followed his lightsaber still active just in case he started with a run and jumped over the terentatek landing on the other side of it, but before he could start running again it attacked him. Its claws cut through his jacket and into his back knocking him to the ground as it climbed back up onto the bridge. Leon yelled through gritted teeth as the tips of its claws scratched through his clothing and almost shredded his skin, he feel to one knee and spun around slashing with his lightsaber at the beast's arm cutting off its clawed hand.
A roar of pain echoed through the chasm as the terentatek flailed around the loss of its hand clearly caused it a great deal of pain. This was his chance, Leon turned around again and leaped to his feet ready to run for it, but as he set his eyes on Ahsoka at the other side and took his first step he felt something hard slam into his side. The wind left his lungs in an instant and his arm went numb, he could feel his feet leaving the ground and as he looked over to Ahsoka he could see her running back to him her arm extended.
The terentatek's wild flailing struck Leon knocking him away in that instant Ahsoka began rushing over to them summoning as much of the Force as she could and pushed the monster to the side finally sending it over the edge, but as it fell she no longer saw Leon. Looking over the edge she spotted him quickly fading into the distance as he fell she reached out her hand trying to catch him, but couldn't he was too far away and even with the Force she couldn't hold on. She could see his face as he was falling his frightened eyes his arms reaching back up at her trying to reach her as well and then he was swallowed by the blackness of the chasm below.
No, no this can't be happening. They were supposed to survive they were going to survive together. She couldn't lose him not now not after all they had been through all they had fought against all they had survived. She froze there at the edge of that bridge her knees bleeding from sliding against the stone when she tried to catch him she kneeled there staring into the darkness below, he couldn't be gone. She was forced back to reality when a loud shriek echoed from the other side of the bridge, another flock of the same chubby, fleshy birds appeared and they were flying right toward her. Not taking the chance of fighting that many she looked down at the darkness one last time.
"I know you're still alive, I'm coming for you just please be alright until then".
Getting to her feet she ran from the flock of winged creatures disappearing into the barely lit path the voice had directed them to praying that Leon would be ok until she found a way to get back to him.
On the chasm floor Leon's limp body laid spread eagle across the gravel covered ground his eyes just barely open as he stared up at the dark heavens he fell from. Several yards away from him rested the body of the terentatek thankfully for him it had died on impact of course that didn't change much in the end. He had managed to focus a bit of the Force into slowing his fall, but the sudden attack that sent him over the edge severely rattled him making it hard to focus so he still hit the ground hard. It took him a few minutes to catch his breath and sort his thoughts back into place, but he managed to recall what happened to him and get to his feet.
Looking up again he activated his lightsaber and held it over him calling out Ahsoka's name and waving his weapon around hoping that if she was watching she would be able to see it or hear him. He got no response other than his own echo and after watching for a while saw no light being waved back at him, either he was really far down or she had left.
"Is she ok?" he worried, "Was she attacked again?"
"She was attacked" the whispering voice said to him only this time it sounded like an actual echo and much closer than it was earlier, "But do not worry she is alright she is currently making her way back to the academy".
"Were are you?" Leon asked looking around.
"Why I'm right in front of you".
Falling still Leon looked ahead of him and watched as a tall figure stepped out of the shadows. A very tall male standing over seven feet enough for him to crane his neck if he wanted to look at Leon, his skin was pale and white with red markings running over his hairless head and down to his brows. His eyes like glowing crimson no pupils or iris just beads of dark red with complete blackness behind them and under his eyes more markings of red that pooled covering the entire underside of his eye sockets before running down in fang shaped marks. A black and red body jacket covered him even down to his fingers leaving his head the only uncovered part of his body.
His presence was overwhelming and his smile an obvious fake as he looked down at Leon, "Welcome young Jedi".
A/N. Another 3 days and another chapter, well I really wanted to get this one out before Sunday because football.
Ahsoka and Leon are still trapped on Korriban their attempts to contact any allies met with silence and now they find themselves in an large underground cavern filled with dangerous creatures and an even stronger presence of the dark side. Now fate has separated them leaving Ahsoka to fend for herself as she tries to find Leon and Leon in now in the company of the voice that guided them, who is this tall, dark being?...Find out next time.