The group of Jedi stumbled out of the Sphere. Lian struggled to move forward but insisted he could walk. Fane joined Shadie to hold him up.
‘I’m fine, I can walk,’ said Lian. He stumbled forward, dropping to one knee and cursed in Huttese.
‘You don’t have to prove anything to us, Lian,’ said Talyc. ‘I’m sure if this Sith thinks you’re worthy, it won’t have anything to do with your strength here or lack thereof.’
Lian looked up at the Mandalorian and smiled. ‘I appreciate…’ He felt a pang of pain and grunted, clenching his teeth.
Shadie put her hand on the door, and Lian saw it roll into the wall. He had heard much about this place, yet never realised how heavy the dark side felt here, nor how dim it was. He hoped it would not alter his being. And yet, however strong the dark side was here, Lian did not feel stifled by it; whatever his fears, it seemed to allow for his light.
Everyone hurried through each chamber and Brenum pushed the top of a sarcophagus. The platform began to descend, turning slowly, as had been described to Lian before.
Brenum pressed his lips together. ‘I should never have agreed to help rid the atmosphere of starfighters,’ he said. ‘My place was by your side and I failed you.’
‘No one has failed me,’ insisted Lian.
‘If anyone’s to blame,’ said Fane, ‘it’s me. I just don’t get it! I’m supposed to be able to be immune to Relsor’s stasis attacks. Now another Kloh will die because of me and my inability to–’
‘Fane!’ Lian put sternness in his voice. ‘Stop that right now. You and I were meant to work together within the Force, but you are not ready to defeat Relsor and that is not your fault.’ Lian had a bit more strength now, but he knew it wouldn’t last for long.
‘I can’t even connect to Relsor without you, Lian,’ said Fane solemnly.
‘That’s because the Force connects us; that does not make you weak,’ replied Lian.
Trylia tended to Lian’s lekku; she had mended it in the Sphere. Though he still felt the wound tingle painfully, it was a lot less intense than it had been prior to their flight to the Crypt.
‘The wound has stopped bleeding but it’s still raw,’ said Trylia. ‘Shall I change the bandage?’
‘No,’ said Lian. ‘Remove it. I want your Sith friend to see me as I am, in my full vulnerability.’
They arrived at the bottom level and helped Lian to the chamber where sat the ancient Pureblood Sith.
* * *
They all stood before the Sith, Fane and Shadie helping Lian stand. The Sith stood from his throne and looked at Lian.
‘You bring me someone who has not passed the trials,’ he said.
Fane looked up at him. ‘He doesn’t need to. We did, and we brought him.’
Shadie placed a hand on Fane’s shoulder and nodded, mouthing, “It’s okay.” Fane looked back at Lian, he looked pained, and every now and then he let out a moan or groan.
‘Stand on your own so I can evaluate you, Jedi,’ said the Sith. ‘Who are you and why have you come here?’
‘I am Jedi Master Lian Kloh,’ said Lian, struggling to speak. He placed a hand to his stomach and staggered towards the throne and fell on his hands and knees. ‘I’ve come to trade places with you. Grant me immortality, I shall give you freedom from this prison and take your place as Guardian of the Crypt.’ He moaned gruffly.
‘And why should I grant you this honour, you who have not passed any trials, you who possess no sign of darkness within you? Your light side may desecrate this place entirely.’
‘I respect that it was created from the dark side, but in the Force exist both the light and the dark,’ said Lian. He crawled forward a bit and then fell in pain, onto his stomach.
Fane started forward and Shadie put a hand to stop him. ‘Let him be evaluated.’ Fane shook his head; he didn’t like this. He felt pressed for time. He looked at Knarf, who usually was one to feel such emotions, but the man seemed calm.
Lian managed to prop himself up a bit, leaning on one arm, yet breathing heavily.
‘I am a healer and I have been healing the Force. I am the only one able to deflect Relsor’s malady, or at least part of it, able to prevent him from creating illusions. If I die, then he has already won.’ Lian paused, panting. ‘I have been healing the Force, and from this focal point, I can continue my work and heal the Force in ways that I cannot as a mortal being. I can use the Crypt to reach the entire galaxy. I can heal the Force and ensure that Fane,’ Lian looked back towards Fane, ‘succeeds when he confronts Relsor to destroy him.’
Lian grunted in pain again and fell back onto his stomach. ‘Please,’ he said, breathing heavily, ‘I won’t… last much longer. Kill me, let me die, or grant me immortality, but decide quickly.’
The ancient Sith smiled, his face tendrils moving as he did so. ‘Jedi Master Kloh, for one who is the complete opposite of me, you are remarkably resilient. Look up at me!’ Lian struggled to look up at the Sith. ‘Yes, I see it. You are not what I expected. I expected I would trade places with… I’m not sure anymore what I expected. But you are worthy.’ The Sith Lord lifted a hand and Lian rose from the ground. ‘Rise. Connect with me in this ritual, and we shall trade places.’
Fane glanced nervously about, wondering what was about to happen; worried this would fail, still blaming himself. There was a light of energy between the Sith and Lian that then connected them, and the Twi’lek was lifted even more off the ground, his head bobbing backwards. The light engulfed the room, becoming brighter around both Lian and the Pureblood. It flashed, exploding outwards, and both landed on their feet again.
The Sith sighed heavily. ‘Ah, I had forgotten what it felt like to be mortal. I can feel the years catching up with me. Now it is me who will not last much longer, but long enough to grab a bit of fresh air, I hope.’
Lian stood in a meditative stance, hands clasped together, breathing deeply, and a white light began to glow around him. His wounded lekku seemed to close itself and skin replaced the open wound within seconds. Lian opened his eyes and looked down at his stomach wound, which healed almost instantly, as soon as he had focused on it.
Then the floor beneath him began to change, and the black marble turned to white, as though a wave of light energy rippled through it from the centre outwards. The walls changed and the room was filled with a luminescence that seemed to come from some plants in the corners. Small buds that were dead came to life and now they glowed a white-yellow light that lit the room mildly; it was enough of a difference with before.
The Sith looked around. ‘Amazing!’ he said. ‘I knew you would change this place, but I had feared it would destroy it. Instead, I can feel it becoming alive. It’s alive with the life I had hoped to bring to it, but the dark side could not conceive that life.’
‘It is not my light that is bringing things to life,’ said Lian. ‘It is changing it, but what I feel comes from a mixture. The life that has come to this place has come from the balance of the lightside and darkside.’
The Sith laughed. ‘So it needed both. I knew there was a purpose both light and dark existed within the Force. A pity I was too proud to realise it while I was young.’
‘On the contrary,’ said Lian, ‘if not for this place, I would be dead now, and Relsor a vanquisher.’ The Sith nodded. Lian looked at his friends. ‘I feel revitalised, yet different. I am immortal. I’m alive!’ He put his arms out, a tear running down his cheek.
Brenum and Fane leapt towards him and pulled him into a hug. Talyc and Knarf joined in, followed by Shadie and Trylia.
‘Today has been a victorious day,’ said Knarf, ‘despite everything.’
‘We managed to save you,’ said Brenum. ‘I wish I could have done more for it.’
‘You helped a lot,’ said Lian. ‘You all pitched in to keep me alive. Now, I’d say that’s…’
Suddenly the entire place shook.
‘What was that?’ said Talyc.
Lian looked worried. ‘Relsor is here.’
‘How? We left him with…’ started Shadie. Fane realised her comlink was muted but was flashing alarm. He pointed it out to her. ‘Oh, stang!’ She hit the key. ‘Yes?’
‘Shadie!’ came Usharr’s voice. ‘Relsor and Perce have left the planet some time ago. They overpowered us and made their escape.’
‘That explains them being here at the Crypt,’ said Shadie. She winced in frustration.
‘I cannot leave this room now, but I will do what I can to help you from here,’ said Lian.
* * *
Relsor marched angrily, with Perce by his side, down the dank cavernous hall of the Crypt.
‘Now we know where our enemy took Jedi Master Lian,’ said Perce, ‘though I don’t know why they would take him here.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Relsor growled, ‘he’s dead anyway, or will be soon enough. We’re here for a different purpose and we need to find what’s hidden here before anyone else does.’
As they walked further down the pathway, the area seemed to brighten slightly and little buds of light came to life.
‘What’s the meaning of this?’ asked Perce, sounding annoyed. ‘The Jedi are doing something to this place. We may have to come back another time.’
‘We’re still searching Perce! Don’t tell me you’re afraid of our enemy.’
‘Nonsense, I’m just tired of fighting them and wish they would die.’
Relsor gave Perce a sideways glance. ‘And you think I don’t wish for them to die?’
Suddenly there was a stream of lightning that came from the side. Relsor turned, as did Perce, and together they blocked the onslaught of lightning that came their way. Relsor sent lightning back towards his enemies.
‘I should have known you would try to reclaim my Crypt!’ bellowed Shadie.
‘I’m not here for your stupid Crypt, Shadie,’ cried Relsor. ‘Now out of my way, or I will kill you all.’
Relsor lifted his arms up and the Jedi were tossed into the air, lightning dancing over their bodies, and he held them immobile. Perce kept the lightning coming. Relsor counted them, noticing the missing blue Twi’lek.
‘I see Jedi Master Lian is no longer with you,’ he sneered. ‘Good. It pleases me to know he is dead.’ Someone tried to reply somewhere, but they were in too much pain. Relsor recognised the groans.
‘Clan Leader Talyc, at last, a target on whom to unleash my might!’
* * *
Talyc shuddered. Suddenly he found himself alone with Relsor. He closed his eyes, thought of Fane, their love, their connection. He opened his eyes again. He was back and could see the others again. But then Relsor walked to Fane and ignited one of his lightsabers.
‘No!’ cried Talyc. ‘Relsor, I know you are toying with my mind!’ If this was an illusion, he wanted Fane to know what he was seeing. ‘I don’t believe you are about to kill Fane.’
‘Oh?’ Relsor drove his lightsaber into Fane’s body and then proceeded to jab him multiple times. Talyc closed his eyes. Illusion or not, this was gruesome, and he couldn’t bear to live through more of these illusions. He cried out with rage and pain, tears pouring from his eyes. He felt his cheeks wet. He felt sick, he felt pain. He gagged, trying to hold in his sick. He heard a faint voice.
‘…do something, we need your assistance…’ The voice came from Knarf.
Talyc realised Fane was slurring insults at Relsor as the illusion began to lift. Trylia was pleading with Relsor to stop. Talyc felt a hand on his, it was warm, it was Fane’s, yet he still could not see what was happening.
‘Talyc, everything’s all right.’
Talyc looked and saw Fane. ‘Wait, no,’ he said, ‘this is another illusion. Relsor is holding us with the Force.’
Talyc looked at Relsor who had a stern expression, Perce was gnawing at the air and whispering words, cursing and muttering.
‘Impossible!’ exclaimed Perce.
Fane closed his eyes. Talyc saw for a brief moment, as though through an imprint in the Force, Lian kneeling in the centre of the dais, a glow around him shining brightly, meditating.
‘The light side has become stronger here now, Relsor,’ said Shadie. ‘Your powers can no longer affect us.’
Relsor shook his head. ‘No, no, no, no, NO!’ Lightning came gushing towards them as a different stream of lighting crashed against it, sending it back to their enemy.
‘Haar’elso’rothmor!’ boomed the Pureblood Sith. ‘Meet your doom and your demise.’
Relsor narrowed his eyes. The Pureblood stepped forward and cast off his hood.
‘Thought I was a Jedi, did you?’ He laughed.
Relsor stopped pulsing with lightning. ‘Perce, stop.’ Perce obeyed. ‘Who are you?’
The others seemed to let their friend relish in this moment.
‘I am not the secret you are searching in this place,’ he said, ‘but I know many, which I will not reveal to you. I am the creator of this place, bound to it, hidden from all, trapped in my immortality.’ He grinned, and his red head-tentacles swayed. ‘But now, I have traded my place with another, one who is now immortal as I once was, one who can use this place as a focal point. The dark side created the Crypt, and the light side will keep it alive. It lives in the Force, and you,’ he pointed at Relsor, ‘are killing it with your malady. No more. He is the healer, and he is the new Guardian of the Crypt.’
Relsor backed away as though hit by something. Perce seemed to shudder. So this was real after all and Talyc had experienced a glimpse of the Force through Fane thanks to the power of this place and his man’s abilities.
‘I’m really starting to understand things now,’ he said to himself. Fane smiled at him and held his hand ever more tightly.
‘No!’ Relsor shook his head, as more light spread across the ground. ‘Lian lives?’
There seemed to be whispers and then a voice rang loudly so everyone could hear.
‘Your illusions can no longer affect anyone here, Relsor,’ said Lian, his voice amplified by the Force. ‘And soon, your illusions will be ineffective in every corner of the galaxy. The longer I will exist in this place, the more powerful my healing shall become. You thought you could kill me. I fought you, prepared to be killed, but I also had a plan, and the Force desires much healing, thus the Force was on my side. Dark or light matter no more, Relsor; survival is all that matters. Leave my domain or be slaughtered here now by he who is meant to defeat you.’
‘NO!’ Relsor raged. Everyone was lifted again. Fane let go of Talyc’s hand and he struggled.
‘I can’t fight it!’ Fane called out, moaning and straining.
‘Then perhaps you are not meant to kill me,’ bellowed Relsor.
There was a sound as though something was vibrating and an echoing boom rang across the hallway as the Crypt pulsed with the Force. Everyone bounced in different directions. Lian was countering Relsor so that the True Sith could not hold his grip on everyone.
Shadie and the Pureblood sent lightning at Perce and Relsor, and began advancing. Trylia used the Force to cast a whirlwind that made the lightning dance even more. Knarf stomped the ground and it shook beneath their enemies’ feet. Relsor and Perce slowly backed away again, back towards their shuttle, sending lightning back at them, as well as dark side energy.
Relsor roared, holding his position close to the shuttle. Talyc could feel his malady and he staggered, feeling dizzy. Brenum belched, but continued in a steady stance, holding a shield up, absorbing the dark side energy. Shadie was struggling, but Knarf was at her side, holding her, as though using the Force to enhance her abilities. Fane tried to rush towards Relsor but the storm of lightning kept hitting him, and he fell to his hands and knees.
The Pureblood Sith kept advancing, walking as though through an intense storm, sending lightning through his fingertips. Talyc saw Fane vomit and curl up, moaning.
‘Relsor, please!’ cried Trylia. She fell to the ground.
Even with Lian’s powers, Relsor was still more powerful with his malady. Lian had only just become the Crypt’s guardian, there was no way he was going to master his new abilities this quickly. Talyc put his helmet on and stood in front of Fane, shielding him, and hit an activation key on his armour. It took most of the brunt, but he still tingled with pain. At least, Fane was receiving less lightning.
Still, the Pureblood Sith advanced, closer and closer. He lifted his arms up into the air and all the lightning and dark side energy was being absorbed directly into him, like a magnet driving all the metal to it.
‘What are you doing?’ cried Shadie. ‘You’re going to die!’
‘I think that was going to happen soon anyway!’ said the Pureblood Sith. ‘I’ve been waiting millennia for my death. Let the dark side take me; let it survive. And it can only survive with the death of Relsor.’ He began to glow as though growing transparent. He grabbed hold of the cavernous wall for support. He looked at Fane. ‘May the Force serve you in your final fight against Haar’elso’rothmor, Jedi Fane.’ He turned to Shadie. ‘May it serve you, Lady of the Crypt. And Lian,’ he looked up, ‘may you heal it that both light and dark survive. Sith cannot live if there is no Force to serve us.’ He fell to the ground. ‘At last, my chains have been broken. The Force shall free me.’
There was an explosion of light and the Pureblood Sith’s body slumped to the ground, the lightning and dark side energy vanishing with a swirling wind that drove any additional lightning into the corpse like a funnel, until at last, all was still, including the body of the Pureblood Sith.
Talyc gaped at the sight.
‘Come, Perce, this is not the time for us to rummage through old relics,’ said Relsor. ‘We will return, Shadie, mark my words. And you,’ he looked at Fane, ‘will not succeed. Your friend may be the guardian of this place now, but he is as good as dead. I felt the connection break when I struck him, you can no longer enter my mind.’
‘Maybe so, but you still can’t create illusions anymore.’
‘I don’t need to create illusions when I can make you die from disease!’
Fane grunted and turned pale. He swayed and fell to the floor. Talyc looked up at Relsor and lunged towards him, only to be yanked back with the Force. He saw Trylia’s outstretched hand. Talyc landed next to her.
Relsor and Perce ran into the shuttle and it took off.
‘Let them go,’ said Shadie, breathing deeply as though with difficulty. ‘We need to recover. Lian needs to grow in power. This will not be an easy fight, but we need to prepare for it, and then we can succeed.’
Talyc looked at Fane. He touched his forehead; it was hot. Fane was not moving; his eyes were closed, and his breathing was heavy. Suddenly he turned to the side and vomited again. Talyc winced. He took his helmet off and took Fane’s face in his hands, wiping his man’s mouth clean. He didn’t care about the sick; he only cared for him.
‘I’ll be all right,’ said Fane. Talyc looked at the others. Knarf was lying on his back, hand on his chest, breathing in deeply, Brenum was prodding the body, Shadie was still taking in large lungfuls of air, and Trylia closed her eyes and sighed.
‘I’m sorry,’ Talyc heard Lian’s voice echo through the Crypt. ‘I tried my best, but you are right, Shadie, I am not accustomed to this place and I must still learn to use it as the focal point it is meant to be. It is very powerful, and beside it I am weak. Together we will grow stronger. The Crypt requires my healing, but my healing requires new learning.’
‘Don’t blame yourself,’ said Fane. ‘We are still all in one piece. The illusion faded eventually, so there’s that.’
Talyc nodded. ‘Yes, thank you. I don’t know if I could have survived much more of it.’
‘You survived, Talyc,’ said Lian, ‘because you knew. You saw the illusion, but you also saw through it. It faded because you believed, not because of my healing.’
‘I guess you don’t always need the Force, eh?’ said Talyc.
Fane smiled back at him. He winced. ‘Sorry, I stink.’
‘It’s not anything any of us haven’t experienced before,’ said Brenum.
‘Let’s go home,’ said Knarf. ‘Lian, we’ll be back.’
‘Don’t worry about me.’
‘Oh, but you need provisions and this place needs redecorating,’ said Shadie.
Lian chuckled. Shadie seemed to receive a message from him, but Talyc didn’t hear anything. She nodded.
‘It’s not over,’ she said, ‘but we’ve had one victory.’ She looked at the body. ‘Let’s give our friend a good send-off. He deserves that much.’
“Protectors of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2021).
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.