Chapter 42: The Gathering Part 2
We walked into a dark cavern and looking around I could just see large crystals rising from the ground and stone statues of hooded figures baring swords that loomed above us at the edges of the cave. What really attracted my attention however was the wall of ice at the back of the cavern that ran from the ceiling and reached the floor, something about it seemed odd. I got the feeling that it would have something to do with the test we were about to complete.
Before I could think about it too much however, someone else caught my eye. Master Yoda was sitting on a small platform just in front of us and he gave a warm smile as we approached. Once we stood in front of him we bowed to Yoda as Rendal moved forward to stand at his side before the Grand Master began to speak.
“The Force made physical, a Jedi is. Comes with great responsibility that, yes? Protect others, how does a Jedi? Hm?” Moving his cloak slightly he brought forth his lightsaber so that it hovered in front of us and activated by use of the Force, the green blade captivating the younglings. “Build your own lightsabers you shall, but first harvest your crystal, each one of you must.” The others started murmuring amongst themselves, while i stayed quiet and respectful, my gaze never leaving the alien before me as he brought the sober back into his hands, deactivating it before gently tapping it’s side. “The heart of a Jedi’s lightsaber, it is. Focuses the Force from the Jedi, it does.”
Reaching up with his hands I felt the Force move around him as we heard the sound of stones sliding against one another, causing us to turn and look to where a small panel near the roof had moved aside to allow light to shine through the gap. The light hit a large crystal that came down from the ceiling, held by a metal contraption of sorts that allowed it to rotate as the light refracted from it, turning into smaller beams with moved about the room until they shone onto smaller crystals. One such crystal, that would still have been larger than my head, concentrated a beam of light so that it hit the door on the other side of the cave. We all watched as the door lit up and the ice that had been covering it started to turn to water.
Watching the ice melt into a waterfall filled me with awe, though somewhere in the pit of my stomach I could feel dread starting to creep into my systems. Something tells me that’s where we have to go.
Master Yoda turned to gesture to the door. “If Jedi you are to become, enter the crystal cave you must. Trust yourself, trust each other, and succeed you will.” He turned back to look at us, trying to give us confidence.
We then walked over to the door and Rendal started to tell us the rest of the details of the mission.
“Once you have your crystal, don’t stay in the cave to have a look around. Once the sun goes down the door will refreeze and any of you who are still inside will be trapped. If that happens then you will be forced to remain inside for a full rotation. No one will be able to help you.”
I fought to suppress a shudder as I heard him explain what would happen if we were unable to get out in time. Being stuck in there for a night was not something that appealed to me. So I had to get it in and out quickly, having found a tiny crystal no bigger than my palm in a maze of caves. Piece of cake. Not. But that’s why we were doing the test, to prove we were worthy.
“How will we know which crystal is ours?” Caller asked, frowning.
“You will know.” Was the only answer given. “You need to go now or you won’t make it out, so hurry.”
With a small nod I glanced back at Rendal one last time, seeing him give me a split second smile, before I headed into the cavern.
Once inside we quickly found out that it was colder inside this part of the cave than where we had been with Master Yoda and Rendal, this was definitely not a place I wanted to be stuck in for any longer than I had to be. “This place is freezing.” Ayara shivered as she spoke.
“Well we know that.” Caller rolled his eyes.
“Guys, we don’t have time to waste if we want to get out of here. I for one have no intention of being stuck in here.” I replied, trying to prevent an argument from starting.
“Me neither, but it would only be one rotation.” Caller shrugged. “I could handle it.”
“That may be, but did you ever stop and think that we don’t know how long this planet takes to go through a full rotation?” I smirked. “Anyway, let’s keep moving, if we do that then we don’t have to worry about it.” That prompted them to continue walking. However we were soon faced with the dilemma of having the passage we had been travelling down split into three.
“Which one should we choose?” Ayara asked.
“The logical thing to do would be to split up and go down all three to see where they lead to.” Oblo said.
“Maybe, but what if something happens and we need each other for help?”
“Good point...” He nodded, Gyakk grunted in agreement.
“I say that we split into groups and pick a tunnel. That way we’re covering ground and we still have back up.” I suggested.
“That sounds like a reasonable idea.” Oblo smiled at me, but Caller shook his head.
“Who put her in charge?”
“No one, it was just a suggestion.” I shrugged.
“Well keep your suggestions to yourself, we don’t need them.”
“Fine then, good luck with getting your crystal, I’m not going to wait around for you to make up your minds in what you’re doing.” I shook my head and walked off down the middle tunnel. I heard Oblo try to stop me, but I ignored him and continued on.
I didn’t need their help anyway, I didn’t need anyone. I was going to show Rendal, and Anakin, and that stuck up creep Kira that I could do this all on my own. So I didn’t need anyone’s help. I was strong enough to earn my lightsaber and eventually I would become a Jedi Knight. I just knew it. Who needed the rest of those younglings when I had myself to rely on? They were useless to me. Besides, they’d probably just try to leave me behind so that I got stuck in this place anyway. I was better off alone.
When the tunnel opened up into a larger area of the cavern I was surprised to see that there thousands, if not millions, of tiny crystals stuck in the stone! I was awestruck as I stood there looking at them. They almost seemed like the stars that twinkled in the night sky and I had the feeling that there were almost just as many of them. Looking up at the ceiling it reminded me of all those nights that I’d slept on the streets. The sight was breath-taking and it took me a few moments to come back to my senses before I walked over to a group of them.
“They’re beautiful... But are any of them mine?” I wondered aloud.
Reaching out to touch one, I tried to pull it from it’s position, half buried in the rock. It wouldn’t budge. Instead of trying to yank it out I let go of it and shook my head. It looked like that one wasn’t meant for me. So I kept walking and every so often I would test to see if any of them was the one for me, so far with no luck.
Come on, think! There has to be a better way to find it than this.
Pausing for a moment I tried to think of how Anakin would find it. Or any Jedi for that matter. It was then that I got my answer. What had Master Yoda said before we went into the cave? A Jedi is the physical form of the Force, which made me think that the Force had to be the answer. Closing my eyes I tried to calm my mind and reach out with the Force. Maybe I would able to sense my crystal.
It turned out that my hunch was right, after what felt like an eternity I could feel a slight pull through the Force, guiding me off in another direction. So opening my eyes I continued walking, happy now that I knew I was going the right way. At least now I wasn’t wandering around in these caves feeling blind, without knowing if I could find my crystal amongst the millions of others. At this point I had a direction and if I followed the Force then I would be out of here in no time.
I felt bad that Alexa had gone off by herself, her idea of having us split up into smaller groups was a good idea and if Caller hadn’t opened his big mouth then we would all be better off. Unfortunately I can’t change that now though, we needed to get moving again or we would be stuck in these caverns. “Come on guys, we should get moving.”
“But what should we do? Thanks to Caller we just lost our leader.” Ayara glared at Caller.
“She is not and was not our leader!” He snapped. “We don’t need her help, we have each other and we can find these crystals in half the time she can. So let’s move!” He commanded before walking down the far left passage, causing us all to sigh before we trailed after him.
“Why are we following him?” Ayara asked softly.
“I have no idea, but I don’t think it’s safe for us to split up into any less than pairs. If we get lost then we may not be able to find our way back or if one of us got hurt and we were by ourselves then we would have no way to get help.” I replied, frowning as I thought about what might be happening to Alexa. Gyakk roared something quietly from his place beside us.
“He’s right, if one of us got hurt then the rest of us would be able to sense it.” Ayara nodded in agreement.
“All the same I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to stray too far from each other.”
“You’re probably right.... But I’m sure Alexa can handle herself.”
“I hope so...” I muttered with a small shake of my head.
We walked along through the tunnel and I couldn’t help wanting to be able to study the place, it was fascinating. When the passages opened up into a larger part of the cavern there was a soft collective gasp and we gazed around at the many crystals that lined the walls and ceiling. It was breath taking and part of me wanted to explore all of it, but the other part new this place would be a death trap if we were stuck in here for a full rotation. I did not want to suffer through that.
I went over to Caller and tapped him on the back. “So how are we going to find our crystals then, Caller?” I asked, frustrated by his ego and desire to be top dog.
“We look for them, duh Oblo, what did you think we would do? Wait for them to come to us?” He rolled his eyes at me while I shook my head.
What an idiot. Hasn’t he think of HOW we are going to look for them? Without some sort of strategy we will end up wandering around in circles!
“Look you, I meant-”
“Let’s just keep walking. If we stand in one place too long I fear that we will freeze to death as statues.” Ayara cut me off, shivering as she glared at us.
Deciding that none of us wanted to die in here we stayed silent and just kept walking, each one of us trying our own method to find our crystal, though none seemed to be working. I was trying to spot any crystal that looked brighter than the others because according to some padawans who had gotten their crystal theirs shone brighter than all the ones around it. However I couldn’t see one that looked any different. Caller was trying to use the Force and pull his from the walls, while Ayara was attempting to feel hers with the Force. I think that her technique should have been the best but she still hadn’t found hers.
So we tried to keep our eyes out for any crystals that looked different or seemed to catch our attention, hoping to see or feel something that called to us. So far we had been unsuccessful and as I glanced back in the direction that we had come I felt my anxiety levels start to rise as I wondered if we would make it out of here before the door froze over.
I stood outside the cave and continued to wait for the group, occasionally breaking the silence by making light conversation with Master Yoda. Despite knowing that patience is a virtue I couldn’t help but feel impatient. Every minute had begun to feel like an hour since they had entered the cavern. I was so worried about Alexa, though I didn’t truly know why since part of me knew that she could handle anything that it threw at her, but... The other part knew that at least one part of the cave would test her greatest fear, it would be her biggest obstacle. Whatever that was. I didn’t even know what her biggest fear was.
So it made me think, what kind of a boyfriend-ish guy didn’t know what his girlfriend was afraid of? Hm? A pretty useless one I’d wager. I needed to know more about Alexa, but how could I ask her about it without going to far and making her think that I was trying to take away her privacy? That was the last thing I wanted. Still... I could tell she was keeping secrets from me and I was desperate to know why, so I had to figure out what she was hiding and why.
However a voice brought me back to the present and I shook my head before looking over at Master Yoda who looked at me curiously. “Padawan?” He stared back at me curiously.
“Pardon sir? Sorry I was just thinking.”
“Asking you I was, why worried, you are.” He repeated once more, making me frown and shake my head once more.
“Worried? Sir, I’m not worried. I just... I want to see Alexa get her crystal because she really deserves this and so do the other kids.” I explained, though it was only half true.
“Agree with you I do, but lying you are. Worried you are, sense it I can. So ask you again I will; worry who do you?” He asked, looked at me with a kind yet slightly stern expression. He wanted the truth, or at least something a little closer to the whole truth.
“Well.. In the caverns you have to face at least one of your fears, one that you normally wouldn’t have to or you might have to give up something you would normally take for granted. There are always life lessons to be learned, right Master Yoda?” I asked and he nodded in response, waiting for me to continue on. “My greatest fear when I did it was breaking the rules and I had to do that in order to get my crystal, I had to wait until I was alone in the cave and the door had frozen over so that I could have clarity with the Force and sense where I needed to go... The thing is though, it was terrifying for me and... I don’t know how the kids will cope trying to face their fears.”
“Find their own courage, they need to. Help them all through life it will, that is why important the Gathering is, because help them learn valuable lessons it does that a Jedi needs.” The alien smiled at me before going to sit back down on the rock he had been poised upon when we first arrived. “Have courage too you must, and trust that do well they will. Trust in them you must, just as learn to trust you they will.”
Looking over at where the very top of the wall above the door had begun to freeze over I frowned and shook my head. Alexa will be alright.... She can do anything... Right? “I know you’re right sir... I just hope that everything goes well for them.” Following him over I carefully plopped down on the cold ground in front of him with a soft sigh, deciding to try meditating for a while. I couldn’t interfere, so I just had to wait for them.
I was getting closer, I could feel it. Either that or it was the cold seeping further into my bones... Well whatever it was I was going to get my crystal and get out of here. That was for certain.
I had been walking around for what felt like at least half an hour, and every step was a step towards victory. Once I had that then I would be able to get back to the temple and build my lightsaber, after which I would be able to get Kira Walsh off my back along with Rendal’s.
I can’t wait to see the look on her face when I show her my new lightsaber.
Just as I was about to picture it the sound of crumbling rock caught my attention and I froze for a moment, peering through the darkness in an attempt to spot whoever was nearby. When no more sounds followed I made a tentative walk forward, bringing my arms into a defensive position in front of me in case whatever I found wasn’t friendly.
As I came closer my brain was constantly searching for any sign that there was someone there, both to ensure that I didn’t get caught off guard and to make sure that I wasn’t just going crazy from paranoia. Either way I needed to do something, but as I rounded the corner where I had believed to expect someone I found nothing. I was still alone here, aside from those younglings... For now at least. I never knew if that might change though, someone else could be lurking in here as part of the test... Or it could be someone completely different...someone who intended to harm me or the kids.
Wait a minute, there’s a thought... It could have been one of those blasted younglings, trying to put me off and psych me out from the mission. I wouldn’t put it past that kid Caller to play a stupid prank on me like that. Idiot.
All the same, it didn’t matter who did what or what happened, the key in this, or any, situation was to have a level head and keep your wits about you. So long as I could manage that then I would be fine. I just had to stay focussed.
So turned around and went back to where I had been before, pausing for a moment to reestablish her connection to the Force and make sure I was on the right path. Then when I was set I continued on my way through the cave.
It was a good thing that I wasn’t afraid of the dark or this place would have been the death of me, because the further into the cave I went the darker it became as there were fewer crystals. Meaning that the tunnels where never fully illuminated and at times it was difficult to see and I got a little jumpy when I saw some of the jagged teeth of stone descend from the shadows above on the ceiling. The darkness was comforting in a way, yet at the same time it had begun to put me on edge. I felt my heart quick every so often, even though the only sounds that could be heard were my own footsteps and the occasional soft sound of pieces of snow falling from the ceiling.
Despite my slight nervousness, however; it may have been a good thing as, in theory, it would mean it would be easier for me to find my crystal if there were less to chose from, right? Well I had the feeling it was still going to take me awhile.
Rendal was right, this wasn’t easy... But still it doesn’t seem to be as hard as he made it out to be.. Which either meant that he just found more difficult than me or it was going to get harder before I got out.
To be honest I’m not sure which I’d rather. At least if it’s harder then that makes it interesting.
The crystals almost seemed to be alive as they shimmered and shone in the darkness, as though they were like crystallised glow worms stuck in the rocky walls and ceiling. It was beautiful... But the cold reminded me of how dangerous this place was. As much as I would like to stick around and explore everything we couldn’t afford to stay in here too long...and besides the darkness is starting to give me the heebie jeebies. I wanted to get out of here quickly, but we still had to find our crystals. That was the most important thing, so if we stuck together like Caller suggested then hopefully we would find our crystals.
As I walked through the caves I tried to sense my crystal, however it was hard with so many things racing around in my mind. I kept wondering about what else might be lurking nearby in the dark, maybe there was someone watching us, o-or there could be other creatures in here just waiting to start picking us off one by one! It was making me paranoid and it wasn’t long before I was afraid to stray from the group so I stayed as close to them as I could, even to the point where I started accidentally stepping on the backs of their shoes.
“Ouch!” Caller exclaimed and looked back to glare at me over his shoulder.
“Sorry.” I mumbled after he looked away. I hadn’t meant to do it, it just happened when I wasn’t concentrating on where I was going. It’s not like it was intentional or anything, but because Caller was at the front of the group he bore the brunt of my... Clumsiness? I guess you could call it.
“Will you watch where you’re going Ayara?” He asked as he grew more and more frustrated.
“I’m sorry, ok, I’m trying!”
“Then try harder!”
“Will the two of you just be quiet.” Oblo said as he looked around. “We don’t know what loud noises might do in here, they could affect the crystals, or even make the cave collapse if we get too loud.”
“Tell that to Ayara, if she steps on my heel again I’m gonna scream.” Caller threatened.
So I was forced to drop back a little but I made sure that I didn’t get separated from the group, I didn’t want to get lost in the dark and end up stuck in here forever.