Master Juun Kloh had been relieved upon seeing Trylia, Shadie, and Brenum. Although he knew Shadie would not turn, he had feared it, and it was a recurring fear, for he knew Shadie was still vulnerable to the dark side’s influences. For Fane to have actually fallen to the dark side and to know he had joined Kromus was a tragedy beyond any Juun Kloh had known, or at least one of the few tragedies that had truly shaken him to the core.
He sat in a chair at the Temple’s large common lounge.
‘It’s worse than I had feared,’ he said.
Shadie made a sound in her throat. Obviously she knew he had feared she had turned. He looked up at her.
‘It’s one thing to fear a pupil who has already tasted the dark side, let alone grown up with it, to fall to it once more, but it’s something completely different when one least suspected unexpectedly turns.’
‘No one could foresee this, Master Juun,’ said Trylia, in her usual soothing tones.
‘Fane!’ He sighed. ‘His brother had defected long before I knew that Xavier and Lahnius were the same. Xavier had fallen, turned to the dark side, and changed his name to Darth Lahnius. His master did not wish to train Fane, for fear he’d fail him the same way he felt he’d failed Lahnius. I understand that emotion.’
‘Master,’ said Brenum, kneeling before him to be at the same level, ‘you did not fail Fane. He failed you. You are not to blame. He obviously could not accept his brother’s death, despite him being a Sith. Living worlds apart may have suited them and never had they yet been forced to battle each other, but,’ he paused and seemed at a loss for words, ‘if he could not let go and accept that his brother died instead of a fellow Jedi, then the fault for the defection is his and no one else’s.’
‘A terrible loss for a master it is, though, worse than death.’ Master Juun stood and looked at Shadie. ‘I, uh, heard what happened to Knarf. I’m sorry.’
Shadie nodded, Brenum and Trylia looked slightly down without bowing their heads. They hid their deception well. Regardless, Master Juun was relieved, especially after everything Shadie had done to save Knarf’s life. He would not ask the details. A wise decision it was to keep him hidden to protect him.
There was an awkward silence.
‘So,’ said Shadie, breaking the silence casually, ‘any news from the Crypt?’
‘Dead end,’ replied Master Juun. ‘No Sith remain even remotely near the place. Except…’ He let his sentence trail off.
Shadie took a large intake of breath. ‘It’s still there?’ she asked.
‘It awaits you, Shadie. It awaits your summons. It told me it will serve the Lady of the Force wherever she chooses to claim as her domain.’
‘Well, it’s good to know it accepts you’re not entirely Sith,’ said Brenum. Shadie smiled.
‘So what’s next?’ asked Trylia. ‘We go to Nar Shaddaa and seek out Kromus?’
‘No, he will be expecting that.’
‘But how will we know where he’s gone once he leaves?’
‘Trylia,’ said Shadie, ‘I wouldn’t worry about that. He’s hiding in the Force. All we need to do is gather some ships and starfighters, and wait for him to leave the Hutt moon. Then we can battle it out in space. I will not destroy him in person when it is an unfair fight. If I am to win this battle, I will do so properly, fairly, and with all the power of the light side.’
Master Juun beamed at her. ‘You have no idea how heart-warming it is to hear you say that.’
‘Well, I mean it. Besides, killing Kromus now will achieve nothing when all his Sith are scattered across the galaxy. They dispersed for a reason when he fell the first time. We need to win this war once and for all; therefore we need to fight them once they’ve gathered.’
‘Then let us bring our ideas to the Council,’ said Brenum, leading the way. ‘We have a lot of planning to do.’