The host of Jedi took a cautious step forward, holding their lightsabers at the ready. They were careful not to step on the skeletons. Knarf looked at Shadie, she looked focused. She turned to him, her face reflecting the green hue of her lightsaber; she held it as one blade. She changed it to her left hand and reached towards him to take his right hand. He did the same, switching his lightsaber from his left to right hand — Knarf was left-handed, though his training allowed him to be adept using both hands — and he took Shadie’s hand.
Shadie took the lead a bit, but still held Knarf. They walked slowly and cautiously. They were perhaps midway across the long corridor when they heard the voice, recognising it from the previous whispers.
‘Who dares to trespass into my domain?’ No one answered, they simply kept on forward. ‘Speak, or be cut down with the power of dark side.’
‘I am called Shadie or Eidahs, I am the Lady of the Crypt, and I am accompanied by those with whom I share my power.’
‘Yes, yes, I can feel you. Come, come, young ones, come to my domain.’
He sounded hungry for power, for Force energy. Knarf held Shadie’s hand ever more tightly, as they all kept on towards the chamber. When they came to the door, it rolled open for them.
* * *
The room they entered was very large and circular; it’s ceiling, a dome. It was dimly lit by torches that looked ancient. A dark marble floor, almost black, lay in tiles that formed a circular low platform closer to the centre of the room, the rest of it was made of stone. There seemed to be a makeshift bed and some sort of encampment at the far end. In the middle of the platform, yet farther back than its exact centre, was a throne that looked like it was part of an altar. Shadie had never seen anything like it; nothing in neither Sith records nor Jedi archives had spoken of it either.
On the throne sat a cloaked and hooded figure.
‘You are the true Master of the Crypt, are you not?’ asked Shadie. She stood with the others on the platform; they still held their lightsabers aloft and lit. She made a quick curt bow of respect.
The being stood from the throne and took a step towards her.
‘No,’ he said. ‘I am its creator.’
He cast off his hood to reveal his face; he was a Pure-Blood Sith, one from the line of the ancient Sith species. His face was of a burgundy-red, several protrusions stuck out, as this species often had on their faces, with several golden rings. His hair was black and long.
‘You have passed the trials, Darth Shadie, Jedi Eidahs, Lady of the Crypt; you have gained the power I have bestowed upon you, the power I allow all masters of this place to wield. It is not borrowed but earned. Have you earned your right to hone this power?’
‘I have done all I could to prove my worth,’ said Shadie. ‘I was chosen by the protector of this place, the Sphere, long before I ever claimed it. It chose me for my power, chose me because I am both light and dark. I have created abilities no other, Jedi or Sith, has ever performed. I believe all this earns me this right.’
‘Very well,’ he said. ‘Now you have claimed it, you have gained power. You realise that having this power will not take away the power this Crypt’s former master wields?’
‘I understand that, yes,’ Shadie replied, nodding.
The being stared at Shadie for some time, then he turned to stare at the others, one by one.
‘You have found the secret chamber of this place: my domain. Long has it been since anyone has come down here.’
‘Who are all the dead folk, back there?’ asked Brenum, pointing his thumb towards the corridor behind them.
‘Those are the bodies and skeletons of all those who have come down here and who were not worthy to return to the surface.’ The others stirred uneasily. The Sith laughed. ‘Only those who do not pass the test cannot return. Many have come here and have gone back unharmed. There was one who brought an entire army with him to claim the Crypt; they were so numerous. When they arrived here, however, they were all unworthy and they all perished.’
‘How long have you been here?’ asked Trylia.
‘Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. I do not know anymore. I feel the Force, am part of it, but I do not know what goes on in the galaxy. I am not connected with the outside world. I preferred to keep my domain secret. For all their boasting, the Crypt’s most recent masters were not clever enough to deduce that the infamous chamber that lay deep beneath and within this place could be accessed secretly. Impatience and stupidity are they, names I’ve given them, the Chiss and the human. They gained their power and left, like any other typical Sith.’
‘That’s because they’re not Jedi, like we are,’ said Fane.
‘Oh, Jedi have found this place too, young man, but did not find my domain,’ replied the Sith.
‘Do you eat?’ asked Brenum. Trylia slapped him with the back of her hand, a soft slap on his arm. ‘What, I’m curious. I don’t see any food processors and he’s been here thousands of years.’
‘I do not need food, I do not need drink, I do not need sleep. I am immortal.’ The Sith grinned. Brenum nodded.
‘Have there been many masters of the Crypt?’ asked Knarf.
‘Not that many in proportion to how long it has existed,’ said their host. ‘And even less have lived to see that power taken from them. If you die, Lady Shadie, Haar’elso’rothmor will become the master of the Crypt once more.’
‘Let me get this straight,’ said Brenum, ‘a master of this place can live and die, and then if no one else claims it while they are alive, the Crypt becomes masterless?’
‘That is correct, Jedi Brenum.’ The Sith paused. ‘I see your query upon your face. When I granted you the power this place holds, I also gained some of your knowledge.’ Brenum nodded his understanding. ‘You may power off your weapons, you might be more comfortable.’
Everyone looked to Shadie for confirmation. She sensed no trap, so she nodded and everyone clipped their weapons back on their belts. The room was lit well enough here anyway.
‘When we arrived,’ said Shadie, ‘all the rooms had the Force energy trace of Relsor and Perce, except for the last one. Why is that?’
‘If the Crypt’s Master still lives while another comes to claim it, there is always one more trial for them to pass.’
‘I didn’t see a door to another room beyond that last one,’ said Shadie. ‘If someone comes to claim this place while I’m alive, where will they get their trial from?’
‘There is more than one pillar in that room,’ said the Sith. ‘They will rise up from the floor if required to. There have always been the four main chambers, those are the trials one must pass; it is the minimum requirement.’
‘Does that mean that when a Crypt’s master dies, the trials are reset?’ asked Knarf.
‘That deduction is correct,’ said the Sith.
‘What is your name?’ asked Shadie.
‘Does that matter? I am old, I am ancient. I may not look that way, but I have been here far longer than I can count. My name bears no meaning to you or to your Republic, or Jedi Order. It bears no meaning to the Sith Empire, or your enemy’s True Sith, the Followers of Kromus, or he who tried to claim this place but failed at the first trial, for he could never kill you.’
‘I killed him, though.’
‘Yes, twice.’ The Pure-Blood grinned as though amused. ‘That is an impressive feat.’ He grew serious again. ‘He sought the secrets of immortality, as I recall. Holocrons can be effective, but they still keep you mortal once you have returned to life. Perce sought the same thing. He found regeneration, but that is still not immortality. He can be defeated, he can die. Whereas I, I found the secret to immortality.’ He turned and walked back to his throne. He kept his back to the others. ‘The fight you have ahead of you, the many fights you have ahead of you, are filled with bloodshed, filled with agony, and will require much strength. There is no guarantee that you will succeed. You may yet perish and die.’ He turned and sat down. ‘I can grant you immortality, Shadie. I can make you live forever, and you will be able to defeat your enemy more easily.’
The Sith stared right at her. This was tempting; Shadie would want to be able to know she couldn’t die. She knew Knarf would be less afraid for her that way, but what did all this imply? The easy way out was not necessarily the best path to take. Shadie never shied away from taking the difficult path, as long as it was the right path. Besides… She looked at Knarf, he seemed worried.
‘No,’ she said at last. ‘I must decline.’
‘Oh? Are you certain?’
‘I cannot truly be the being I am meant to be with that kind of power,’ she explained. ‘I do not know how it would change me. The Living Force has a constant shift of energy, a natural flow to it, a cycle of life and death. If I can never die, I don’t know that I would be able to create life.’ She looked at Knarf. ‘I’d like to have that possibility still open to me.’ He smiled at her. She knew he knew what she meant. She was not ready yet, but that did not mean she would never be.
‘Very well, Lady Shadie,’ said the Sith. ‘You have passed the test.’
‘The one I decided to bestow on all those who came down here. Either they declined the offer, or they accepted but were unworthy.’
‘What made them unworthy? Am I worthy?’
The Sith laughed. ‘I think you know the answer to that, Lady Shadie. What makes one unworthy is their lack of understanding of the Force, the Living Force, the Unifying Force, everything that is light and dark. Their lack of understanding that light must exist for there to be darkness and vice versa. I cannot give the power of immortality to one who would squander that power. No one has yet been worthy of taking the immortality before now. You are worthy, and yet you refute it. Then you may go freely.’
‘Hang on a minute,’ said Brenum. ‘Had she accepted, we wouldn’t be allowed to leave?’ Brenum focused on the Sith, who lifted his chin up, as though expecting Brenum to continue. ‘You said, “taking” the immortality. Take it from what?’
‘From me.’ The Sith gestured the room around them. ‘Look around you and behold the confines of immortality. Oh, I was arrogant, and I thought I had found and understood everything there was to understand. I have long contemplated my predicament. It seemed, somehow, once I had created this place and become immortal, I could never leave this room again. I am stuck here, forever trapped in time, imprisoned by eternal life.’
‘How did you find out?’ asked Knarf.
‘When I tried to leave, that’s when I found out. The only way for me to leave is to trade my immortality with freedom. If another willingly takes it, then I can leave, and they will be forever bound to this place. I cannot force it upon another. That is why I try to trap them, offer them what many seek and desire.’
‘If many accepted,’ said Fane, ‘why did you just not grant them the immortality? What happens if they’re unworthy?’
‘If an unworthy being takes my place, this Crypt will be destroyed,’ said the Sith. ‘And the Crypt, as it lives within the Force, has its own defences and means to preserve itself. It has developed its own consciousness. It is a gateway to reaching a wider array of the Force from within the Force itself. It wants to survive and will only house a host who will allow it to exist as it was meant to.’ He sneered and shook his head. ‘So you understand now? From here, I can influence the Force if I so choose. I can have so much power, I could reign terror on all the lands.’
‘So why don’t you?’ said Knarf.
‘I cannot rule if I am confined to this place! Besides, my powers do not extend all that powerfully. I can have influence, but I choose not to, for I understand the Force.’
‘Who’s to say you didn’t influence some of the Sith, since you are clearly Sith and of the dark side?’ said Shadie. ‘Who’s to say Relsor doesn’t exist because of you, that his abilities come from you?’
The Sith shook his head. ‘You misunderstand. I can influence the Force, as long as there is a balance and constant motion. I cannot tip it in one direction or the other, cannot tip its balance. I cannot use the dark side for my own greedy purposes through the powers I possess as the immortal being who guards and dwells in this place. I ensure it remains stable. I can however lend my power to another. I have not lent my power to Relsor because he has sickened the Force and I am unable to stabilise it. His powers are his own. He was created by another. I have in the past lent my power to other Sith, long, long ago. I would not be able to lend my power to aid Relsor or Perce, for they no longer share the powers of being Masters of the Crypt. You are its master now, Lady Shadie. I would be able to lend my power to either one of you five.’
‘It would be the dark side?’ asked Shadie.
‘Yes, and it would come when you reached out to me.’
‘I am a Jedi now, I don’t use the dark side anymore, unless I must.’
‘You master lightning, do you not? It would be similar to that. If you needed to use the dark side, but did not want it to be your darkness, I could assist you and you would remain in the light you naturally permeate. I can respect your choices. My duty would be to ensure that anyone who has found this place who was worthy but refused the immortality, could come back and visit me. It gets lonely.’
‘You don’t have the Holonet in here?’ asked Fane.
‘Do you see any consoles, young lad, or communications devices?’ Fane shook his head. ‘It’s better this way for me. I prefer the solitude, but I am glad for the visit I have received today.’ The Sith turned his attention to Shadie. ‘I have observed you through the Force, your Force signature, sensed your change, your growth in power. When I focus on you, I can sometimes feel this energy you have about you, a passion you share with Agent Knarf. This passion that gives you strength is the serenity the Jedi speak of, yet they deny themselves of all passion. Strange, is it not? Like the Sith, as I once was and saw it, believed there must be no peace for there to be passion. Both codes should be obsolete. They teach nothing but opposition, cognitive dissonance, and are a contradiction to the very fabrics of the Force.’ He paused. He seemed angry, intense.
‘Haar’elso’rothmor is a malady unto this galaxy,’ he went on, ‘created by the darkest aspects of the dark side. Had I any control over any of it, he would not have been born. Yet he exists, and he sickens us all.’ His gaze softened. ‘You have earned my respect, Lady Shadie. Go now, do what you must. Know that if someone attempts to claim the Crypt from you, they will have to do a trial more than you, and I know these trials, for I designed them. I fabricated this place with the Force, with my powers. I can change parts of it, alter it if I want, but I digress. My point is that I know for a fact, Relsor, nor Perce, will ever reclaim the Crypt, for they will never be able to pass the two trials they must pass to reclaim it.’
‘The one I passed, that last one,’ said Shadie. ‘And what other?’
‘That does not matter. What matters is you know of this place. Keep it secret if you like, keep it secure. Although…’
‘No,’ said Shadie right away. ‘It would be too easy to send Relsor down here to perish to you. It would make us otherwise unworthy. If we are to defeat him, we’ll do it the proper way, in the way that is best for the Force. Sending him here would malady the Force even more, even if he would not be claiming this place, or the immortality. He cannot perish with the dark side. Only the light side can destroy him and heal the Force.’
The Sith smiled and nodded. ‘I was mistaken, you have earned much more than my respect. Lady Shadie, you have earned my admiration.’
Shadie smiled. She bowed politely to him. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I quite enjoyed our chat.’
The Sith chuckled. ‘Then remember me when you need a hand through the Force. The Crypt is yours. The galaxy is at your fingertips and awaits your powers. Even I know that the Force is in need of you, is in need of Relsor’s destruction. I’d say good luck to you all, but I don’t believe in luck. I believe you claim what you have brought to yourself with the powers you wield within.’ He put his hood on again. ‘Until next time, Lady Shadie, Master of the Crypt.’
‘Until next time.’
They all bowed, then turned and left the room. The door behind them rolled shut.
* * *
‘Isn’t it ironic,’ said Fane, ‘to think that had Relsor and Perce found the hidden chamber, which they probably knew existed but were just too dumb to figure out how to access, they would have been destroyed by our Sith Pure-Blood friend “downstairs”?’ Fane made air-quote as he said it.
They had gotten back to the ship and were on their way to Tython. Fane was bewildered by the fact that Relsor had failed to find the Pure-Blood Sith’s chamber.
‘I’m the one who thought of it first,’ teased Brenum.
‘Yes, Brenum,’ said Knarf, ‘we all know how smart you are.’ Brenum raised both eyebrows as he looked at Knarf, dipping his chin into his chest. Knarf laughed.
‘But seriously,’ said Fane. ‘Had they found it, they would have been killed from being unworthy. Now we’re going to have to kill them ourselves.’
‘Oh, I can’t wait to actually kill Perce for real!’ said Knarf.
‘You’ll get your chance, my love, don’t worry,’ said Shadie. She looked at Fane. ‘We’re almost at Tython, and then we just need to get to Relsor’s ship.’
‘I know,’ said Fane. ‘I’ve tried reaching out to feel Talyc. His presence is dwindling, he’s suffering a lot.’
‘I’m sorry to know that,’ said Shadie, putting a hand on Fane’s. She took a breath. ‘Come, let’s contact Master Herl’unik.’
They walked to the holoconsole and reached the Grand Master after only a few chimes.
‘Ah, Shadie, I’m glad I have you on holocall. I am speaking with Lian. Can you please tell me why he is getting ready to leave Tython? He seems to be waiting for you.’
‘Oh, that’s quick,’ said Fane, ‘I guess he sensed us in the Force.’
‘Time is pressing,’ they heard Lian’s voice coming in through the Grand Master’s holotransceiver. ‘I preferred to be ready; I do not wish to make you wait, Fane.’
‘Thank you, Lian, that is very thoughtful.’
‘Yes,’ said Master Herl’unik, unconvinced, ‘this is all nice, but where are you all going?’
‘Well,’ said Shadie, ‘we’ve all just been to the Crypt.’
‘I was aware you might go there and I understand the necessity.’ Master Herl’unik nodded once. ‘How did it go?’
‘Rather well. I am now the Lady of the Crypt, official Master of the Crypt, though I will keep the secret from Relsor for as long as possible. As for where we are going now, well, you did not sanction this mission.’
‘Master Eidahs? Please tell me you’re not still going to save that Mandalorian.’
Fane clenched his teeth and winced internally. He closed his eyes.
‘That Mandalorian is Talyc,’ said Fane. ‘That Mandalorian is my lover.’ He opened his eyes and looked at Master Herl’unik. ‘When I rejoined the Order, we agreed upon certain terms, which I came to understand would be accepted by the Jedi Council.’ He took a step forward, leaning on his front leg. ‘I will not let Talyc die at the hands of Relsor. I will save him because I need him and I will not let the Order stop me.’
Shadie put a gentle hand on Fane’s shoulder.
‘What Fane means to say,’ said Lian, ‘is that the Force requires us all, and anyone’s respective partners; the Force needs love in order to heal. That is why, whether the rest of the Council has sanctioned it or not, I am going on this mission.’ Master Herl’unik’s eyes widened. Lian went on. ‘I will ensure that Relsor cannot create any illusions. Even if Talyc is not Force-sensitive, he does have a bond of love with Fane and that bond can only do good to the Force.’
Master Herl’unik bowed his head. ‘I implore you to reconsider. This is a dangerous mission; you do not know how it will succeed. Master Eidahs, when we last spoke, you said you meant to let Relsor capture you. Please reconsider.’
‘I am sorry, Master Herl’unik, but I cannot,’ said Shadie, taking a wide stance, clasping her hands together in front of her. ‘The Supreme Chancellor is already aware of the mission as there is a part of this mission that involves the Republic, the details of which we are keeping secret. I have the full backing of Supreme Chancellor Emain and of one Council member.’
‘You are leading your apprentice into…’
‘My apprentice is leading this mission.’ Shadie took a beat, then resumed more calmly. ‘Fane is in charge here, since I and the others will be out of commission for a while.’
Master Herl’unik narrowed his gaze. ‘The others?’
‘Yes,’ said Trylia, arriving behind Shadie, Brenum and Knarf next to her. ‘And we’re about to drop out of hyperspace. We’ve arrived at Tython.’
‘Since I cannot stop you,’ said Master Herl’unik, ‘I will wish you the best of luck. Fane, Lian, we will speak upon your return to Tython.’
‘Before you go,’ said Shadie, ‘I’d like a private word with Master Herl’unik.’
Fane nodded, as did the others. He heard Lian say a parting farewell to the Grand Master and chimed out, as they walked from the console room and back to the ship’s cockpit. Brenum went to the controls as the ship dropped out of hyperspace. Tython loomed big and beautiful before them. They descended into the planet’s atmosphere.
When they touched down, Lian stood waiting. As soon as the ramp had descended, he walked up and into the ship. He had a small healing kit with him and a few other things he was bringing for the journey, which he explained to Fane. Brenum, Trylia, and Knarf took a few moments to breathe the fresh air, no doubt since they would soon be cooped up inside a ship as prisoners. Fane stood with them. Shadie joined them shortly after.
‘What did you need to tell Master Herl’unik?’ asked Fane.
‘It doesn’t matter for now,’ said Shadie. ‘Let’s just say, I appeased him a bit and tied a few loose ends, should anything happen to me.’
‘Shadie, don’t talk fatalistically like that,’ said Fane. ‘We know you’ll be fine, it’s only a question of time, how long you’ll be away.’ She smiled.
They entered the ship again. They installed themselves in the cockpit and Brenum began showing Lian some of the controls and giving him a few pointers and instructions in regards to the Krayt Dragon‘s maintenance.
The ship took flight and off they were, Tython shrinking behind them. Fane took out his comlink and contacted Relsor as True Sith had instructed him to. His face stern, intent, and permeating the anger he felt towards the Chiss Sith, Fane announced:
‘I’m on my way,’ said Fane. ‘What are the coordinates?’ Relsor’s smiled at him.
‘Sending that now,’ Fane heard Perce say.
‘Expect me soon,’ said Fane. He chimed out. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
The ship entered hyperspace. This was it: doom or success, they were going into whatever traps awaited them and he would lose his master and friends for a time in order to save Talyc. He wished there was another way, but Shadie had insisted she was going to use this opportunity for her own gains as much as Relsor would. Fane only hoped it wasn’t too late, he only hoped that Talyc was still alive and that he would not end up losing everyone.
“Lady of the Crypt” is written by Celinka Serre (2020).
Disclaimer: The Characters in this Fan-Fiction are new and have original names. The story is an original written work. The story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Star Wars. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the SW Old Republic universe belong to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney. No characters or story lines from the films are used. No story lines or characters from the games or books are used. A handful of characters from the games may be referenced, but are not the main focus in this fanfic story. This fan-fiction story falls under Fair Use.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.