Chapter 43: The Gathering Part 3
Despite Yoda’s confidence and kind words I was still worried about my friend and the younglings. By now the ice had covered almost a quarter of the door, and with every moment the ice spread further down. Their time was running out, they couldn’t afford to dawdle.
It was hard not to go in there and try to find them, but I knew my place was outside where I was. I needed to stay here, I had promised that I wouldn’t interfere. If I did then I would get into big trouble and the others might be forced to do this all over again with someone else in my place, so it was better for everyone if I just waited patiently for them. Though to be honest my patience was straining.
They’ll be ok and when they come out you’ll get to see Alexa and her awesome smile! Just focus on that and the time will go quicker... I’m sure of it.
I was getting ever closer, I could feel it.. It was close and I was getting closer all the time. I started to run as I could feel the Force call out to me, pulling me toward it.. I was gonna find it! When suddenly I realised that the thing I was running to was a huge frozen wall of eyes and at the top I could see a glow in the darkness. That was where my crystal was, that was where I had to go. The question was how could I climb the wall?
What surprised me was that the ice wasn’t entirely sheer. There were a few rocks that protruded from the ice that I could probably use as foot-holes and hand grips, but not enough of them that I could climb all the way to the top. I would have to figure out another way to do it.. I could try to use the Force to aid me in a jump, but it was doubtful that I would reach it. Perhaps a combination of both would work, but that would be risky. If I missed then I would fall and could possibly do quite a bit of damage to myself. If that happened then I’d never make it out of here.
So I needed to decide, what was I going to do? The answer; start climbing and hope I figured something out when I ran out of hand grips. I went over to the foot of the wall and reached up to where the first indents were in the wall started to climb.
This place was giving me the creeps, I kept getting the feeling that we weren’t alone in here. Knowing that finding the crystal meant I could get out of here faster I tried desperately to seek it out with the Force, but as I just couldn’t sense it. It was as though my senses were clouded, but I couldn’t figure out why. It was all so confusing..
‘We’re getting nowhere doing this.’ Oblo pointed out. “We need to change tactics.”
‘And do what, huh?’ Caller glared at him. “What do you suggest, eh pipsqueak?” I frowned as I watched Caller try to bully Oblo and had been about to step in when Gyakk let out a threatening growl at the mean spirited youngling.
‘Gyakk is right, that’s not ok Caller.’ I nodded in agreement. ‘Besides I think Oblo is right, we can’t just keep doing the same thing or we aren’t going to accomplish our mission.’
‘Ok fine then! So what do we do?’ Mr Caller Tanner asked.
‘Well... Since staying together didn’t work... Maybe we should split up.’ Oblo suggested, making my pulse jump.
’B-But it’s scary in here, I don’t want to be alone...” I whimpered.
‘Aw! Someone’s a little scared baby!’ Tanner sneered as he started to tease me.
‘Stop it!’ Oblo shouted, his voice echoing throughout the caves as it bounced off the walls. “We need to split up into smaller groups then, I’ll go with Ayara and Gyakk you can go with Caller.” Gyakk said something that sounded like he was protesting against splitting up, but one look from the Rodian silenced him and he agreed. “Alright, now let’s go. Good luck guys.” He nodded to them and we went our separate ways.
Once we were alone I looked at Oblo and sighed. “I don’t get why I can’t sense my crystal.”
“Maybe you just need to take a minute and calm down. It might help you to concentrate.” He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, we’ll get out of this.”
“Thanks.” I smiled, grateful that he was trying to help me.
“No problem.” He replied. “Now, maybe you should sit and try to focus.”
“I might just do that.” I nodded and went to sit beside one of the icy walls, crossing my legs and closing my eyes as I tried to concentrate on connecting to the Force.
Without the others around it was like suddenly my senses were clear, I didn’t have the strange haze to deal with like I did before, but why? I felt myself frown as I tried to puzzle it out. Why would things be easier without them, wasn’t it normally easier to do things with a group of people instead of just being alone? Unless... I’d been sensing the others and their Force signatures! That was why I hadn’t been able to sense my crystal because I’d been surrounded by the others and too scared to step out on my own. I needed to trust myself and know that sometimes I had to go my own way. I needed to have a little confidence in myself.
Wait a minute, where did Oblo go?
Caller and I headed off in a different direction from the others as we headed down further into the caves. I had begun to sniff the air as we walked, hoping that maybe I could smell something in the dark that might help. It was a strange idea, but I’d heard some of the padawans back at the Temple say that their crystal smelled different from the others and sniffing was easy, not my nose was extra sensitive so if they could smell theirs then surely I would be able to as well. Then I could get out of here faster.
However while I was getting many different smells I didn’t smell anything that seemed like a crystal. Going over to a nearby wall I sniffed some of the crystals, trying to find out what they smelled like so I could remember it and compare it with the other things I smelt in case I came across a crystal that didn’t smell like the rest. It didn’t seem to be working though because in all honesty it was like the crystals had no smell. It was frustrating.
I kept trying and trying until my sniffer grew sore and with a wail and a growl I gave up and sat down with my back against the cold wall.
“What’s wrong, Gyakk?” Caller asked.
I growled my reply and bowed my head in defeat. It was hopeless. My cheat technique hadn’t worked and now my head hurt which made it harder for me to try and connect with the Force.
“Aw come on man, you can’t give up that easily!”
“Yes I can.” I replied in my native language.
“You’re not a quitter Gyakk, you and I both know that. You just need to persevere.”
I merely grunted in response and bowed my head, I was a useless Jedi. I might as well give up now and not even bother trying to find my stupid crystal... I probably didn’t even have one in here that was meant for me.
But if that was true, then why had the Jedi accepted me? If I wasn’t meant to be a Jedi then they wouldn’t have taken me in as a youngling.. Right? So maybe there was a chance! Deciding to give it one last try I got back up to my feet and started looking for my crystal again.
‘Yes!’ Caller smiled at me, causing me to grin back at him.
When I saw that Ayara was taking my advice I thought I’d give her a few moments alone with her thoughts and keep looking for my crystal. It seemed like everyone was facing some sort of problem or other which was stopping them from finding their crystal, like there was some lesson that we were all supposed to learn. Which made me wonder, what was mine? Did I even have one?
Ayara lacked self confidence and Caller needed to learn that he couldn’t always be selfish... I didn’t know about Alexa or Gyakk, but they were no doubt having their own problems. So what was my lesson? I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t a bully, I wasn’t distrusting of the Force... I was trying to use all the tactics that I thought might come in handy, I had meditated, reflected, and pondered ideas... So why couldn’t I sense my crystal?
‘Maybe you’re over thinking it.’
I jumped and turned around to see Ayara smiling at me.
‘Hello.’ I greeted before realising what she’d just said to me. ‘How’d you know what I was thinking?’
‘Just a wild guess.’ She shrugged.
‘You really think that I’m over thinking this?’ I asked after a moment.
My friend nodded. ‘Yeah. So maybe you should try something a little crazy in order to find what you’re looking for, try what your instincts say will work and don’t think about it so much. You over complicate things otherwise.’
‘I...’ I had been about to say that she was probably wrong but after thinking about it for a moment I realised that she might just be right. ‘I will give it a try, but I don’t really know what to do.’
‘Listen to your gut.’
Come on... You can do it... It’s not that much further!
I repeated the mantra in my head as I struggled to reach the top of the ice. I had now run out of hand grips and had no idea how I was going to get up further. The ice was freezing and the pain in my hands was making it hard for me to hang onto the frozen surface. If I didn’t do something then I’d end up falling and then I’d probably never get up here again.. If I ever got up at all.
‘Alexa? Is that you?’ I heard a voice call out to me, but I couldn’t look down to see who it was.
‘Depends on who’s asking!’ I replied.
‘It’s Caller Tanner!’
I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from groaning, of all the younglings that had to come bother me why did it have to be him? ‘What do you want?’
‘I just wanted to make sure that it was you up there and not some random.’
‘Well now you know! So get out of here!’
‘Oh... Well alright!’ I heard the sound of footsteps and thought that he was going to leave me alone to concentrate when they stopped again. ‘Are you ok?’
What a question.
‘You want the short answer or the long one?’
There was a pause as he considered his answer. ‘The long one I guess!’
Well that was a surprise. ‘Um... Ok then! Well no I’m not ok because I’m stuck up here and my hands are freezing over!’
‘Oh geez...’ I could just hear him and I rolled my eyes. If he was going to ask then he might as well offer a suggestion to help me, but I supposed that was just dumb wishful thinking. ‘What if... What if I lift you up with the Force?’
‘What?! NO! You’d drop me and then I’d be dead! No thank you!’ I shook my head even as the pain in my hands grew worse as they began to cramp, making me groan softly.
‘I would not! I’m not that bad with the Force you know!’
‘Oh really? Well I still don’t trust you! You hate me, remember?’
‘I do not!’
‘I.... Fine I was a bit annoyed before, but please let me help you now. You’re stuck and even if I can’t find my crystal at least you’ll have found yours and be able to get out of here. Then at least one of us will have finished our mission. I mean that’s what a Jedi is supposed to do right? Help others and make sure that the job is done?’
I had to admit his speech almost convinced me that he might actually want to help me, but before I could say anything the little piece of ice that I’d been digging my fingers into in order for me to hold came loose.
‘Ah!’ I cried out and instantly tightened the grip of my other hand while trying to find somewhere else to hold on with the one that had come loose. I heard a gasp from Tanner and a few seconds later I found that gravity didn’t seem to be affecting me as much. ‘Huh?’
‘Heh... See? Told you I could help!’ I looked down to see the boy with his hands stretched out as if he was holding me up.
This had to be a fluke right? Maybe I was just stronger than I thought.. There was no way he was actually helping me... And yet I was hanging off a wall made from ice with only one hand hanging on to it and I didn’t feel like I was falling.. Yeah ok he was definitely helping. I wasn’t that strong.
‘So why are you helping me?’
‘Because I don’t want you to end up splitting your head if you fall!’
‘You know for someone who’s supposedly really smart you seem awfully dumb right now!’
‘Hey!’ I growled.
‘Well it’s true! Now be quiet and let go of the ice so that I can lift you to the top!’
‘What if you drop me?’
‘What if you do though?’
‘I promise I won’t, just trust me!’
The idea didn’t appeal to me, but if I didn’t try to trust him then I’d end up stuck up here for how long and all the while that door was freezing over... ‘Alright. Alright I’ll trust you!’
‘Good! Now... Just let go of the wall!’
Gulping, I closed my eyes and struggled to slowly release my grip on the ice, allowing myself to be totally in Caller’s care.
Force please don’t let me die.
‘Ok... Now please help me!’
‘You’ve got it!’ He nodded then I felt myself being lifted up, my heart thumping in my chest and my hands shaking as I went. However my fear proved to be for nothing as I reached the top unharmed and he carefully put me down on it. ‘There!’
‘I... Thank you!’ I called down to him and smiled, he’d actually done me a favour.
‘You’re welcome!’ He replied.
It was then that I turned around and saw a bright white glow from within the ice and I headed towards it. When I saw what was causing it I grinned and reached into the small hole in the ice where a little crystal was tucked away inside. It shone even brighter for a moment as my hand closed around it then dimmed as I pulled it out and I smiled at the tiny crystal in the palm of my hand. I’d done it!
‘Now how do I get down from here?’ I wondered aloud.
‘I could help you again if you want?’ He offered again.
‘Well... Alright. If I jump you think you could catch me?’
‘Alright then! Let’s go!’ With a new found confidence I ran to the edge of the ice and jumped, grinning as I felt myself slowly come back down to the ground at about a third of the speed that I should have been. ‘Thanks Caller.’
‘Now we should help the others.’ I suggested, however voices arose from nearby, causing us to turn around.
‘That won’t be necessary.’ Oblo and Ayara appeared from the surrounding darkness, followed by Gyakk, each one of them holding their own crystal.
‘Nice work guys.’ Caller smiled at them.
‘Thanks, but have you found yours?’ Ayara inquired.
‘No, but I will.’
‘You’d better hurry or we’ll all get stuck in here.’ I pointed out.
‘Don’t worry about me, the rest of you should head out and I’ll follow as soon as I can.’ He replied and made a shooing motion at us with his hands.
‘But-’ Ayara tried to protest but Caller just shook her head.
‘Go.’ He insisted. The others sighed and nodded, eventually heading back out, in what we assumed was the direction of the exit. Tanner looked up at me and frowned. ‘You should go with them.’
‘Probably, but I want to make sure that you get out of here. What you did was a huge help to me and it would be wrong of me not to pay you back for that.’ I replied, offering him a small smile.
‘Ok then.’ He agreed.
So he went and found his crystal and then the two of us headed back to the exit to find the door completely frozen over. My eyes widened when we saw it and I ran over to the ice, pressing my face against it as I tried to look through it. On the other side I could just see Rendal and I could sense his fear and sadness through the Force. We hadn’t made it out and now we were stuck here.
‘I’m sorry Alexa.’ Caller apologised quietly. ‘I told you that you should have gone with the others then you would have gotten out,’
I pulled away and looked over at him, shaking my head, ‘And let you get stuck in here alone? Are you kidding? You would have no hope of surviving. At least this way we have a fighting chance.’
‘Thanks... But I don’t see how.’ He sighed softly.
‘Because I don’t give up.’ I replied then walked away from the door a few meters before turned back around to face it and letting out a loud roar as I raced towards it.
‘Alexa wait!’ He shouted but I ignored him and went hurtling into the ice.
There was a loud bang and I was sent flying back, crying out as I hit the ground on my back. ‘Ah!’
‘Alexa!’ Caller came over and kneeled beside me. ‘You ok?’
‘Uh...’ I groaned then sat up. ‘Yeah... Now let me get up so that I can try again.’
‘No! It won’t work Alexa, don’t try again and hurt yourself.’
‘I won’t let us die in here.’ I growled, determined.
‘Then let’s try a different way.’
‘I... Alright. Ok, let’s put our heads together and think.’ I nodded.
So we thought for a few moments then finally came up with an idea. We got up and faced the door, closing our eyes we raised our hands. ‘On three.’ Caller said.
I nodded. ‘One.’
‘THREE!’ We both shouted and pushed our hands forward, sending a Force push at the door which then shattered the ice.
‘We did it!’ Caller grinned at me and I smiled back as the others ran over to us.
‘We were so worried!’ Ayara said.
‘How did you get out?’ Oblo asked.
‘Yeah, I thought it was unbreakable.’ Our other friend nodded.
Yoda and Rendal then walked over and smiled at us. ‘The only limit there was, was the limit that place on yourselves you did. Unbreakable the ice was not. Through strength and intelligence did you succeed.’
‘And teamwork.’ I added with a smile.
‘Well done younglings, and padawan, one step closer to owning your own lightsabers you now are.’
‘Whoo!’ We all cheered and beamed at one another. We’d done it!