Chapter Five

Shadie stood looking out at the vast field that lay near the city’s central area taking it all in. She would not be returning to Mandalore for quite some time. Fane stood next to her. Knarf had gone to speak with Mandalore before their departure. 
            Fane had a travelling bag; he had packed some essentials he might need after the rescue mission. Shadie also had a bag, but she would leave it aboard the Krayt Dragon. She wouldn’t need those things until after, once she would return from her capture.
            Shadie took a deep breath.
            ‘I’m sorry,’ said Fane. Shadie turned her head to look at him. He had his head bowed.
            ‘Fane, this isn’t your fault. Relsor is a persistent Sith. He will go to any lengths to capture me. At least this way, it can be on my terms.’
            ‘I know. I just feel sorry for everything.’
            ‘I can understand that.’
            Shadie took Fane’s hand and held it as a parent would their child’s. After a moment, Fane pointed with his other hand to a spot somewhere in the meadow.
            ‘There,’ he said. ‘That’s where we shared our first kiss.’ Shadie smiled. Fane blushed.
            ‘More than just a kiss, I gather,’ said Shadie. She pointed at a spot herself. ‘Over there,’ she said. ‘It’s quite comfortable.’
            Fane laughed. ‘What is this galaxy coming to when a Jedi and his master are discussing locations where they each…’ He laughed again.
            ‘I’ll be worried the day we stop joking about the natural flow of life that makes us feel the desires we feel for the men whom we love,’ said Shadie.
            ‘Speaking of which,’ said Fane, cocking his head; Knarf was approaching. He smiled at them and came to stand next to Shadie, taking her hand and interlacing his fingers with hers. ‘And so?’
            ‘Everything is sorted,’ said Knarf. ‘Mandalore cannot lend any ships right away, due to the possible threat which could very well be real. The thought of more superlasers is devastating. He will be in contact with Supreme Chancellor Emain, though, and in the event ships are needed, he will provide what he can.’ Knarf paused. ‘Mandalore recognises that, even if the Jedi Order is not, the Republic is getting itself involved in the rescue mission of one of his top clan leaders. Supreme Chancellor Emain acknowledges a temporary alliance for the time of this war, and the Republic’s semi-debt to Mandalore. Relsor and Perce pose a great threat to the entire galaxy, aiding each other can only help us defeat them.’
            ‘Master Herl’unik is aware that we are going to the Crypt,’ said Shadie, ‘and he sanctioned that part, but he wants no part in the rescue mission. I believe he is afraid. He does not know that Lian will be coming with us.’
            ‘He hasn’t told him?’ said Knarf, sounding a little surprised.
            ‘No,’ said Shadie. ‘Lian prefers it that way.’ She paused, feeling the warmth of Knarf’s hand in hers as he stood to her right, while she hoped she brought warmth to Fane through their still held hands. ‘He will deal with the rest of the Council once he, Fane, and Talyc are safely back on Tython.’
            The Krayt Dragon could be seen streak through the sky as it came towards them and it settled in the meadow nearby. When the landing ramp had descended, the three Mando-Jedi walked up the ramp to join their friends inside.

* * *

            Brenum and Trylia already had the ship ready for take off again in no time. Fane had been clear about wanting their travels to go as quickly as they could; he was eager, he was anxious, he was nervous, he was worried.
            ‘Everything’s going to turn out all right,’ said Brenum. Trylia nodded in agreement.
            Shadie turned to Fane and handed him the datacom.
            ‘I want you to have this,’ she said. ‘In the event our new ally contacts us while I am in Relsor’s captivity, it will be up to you to go meet with him, tell him what’s been going on.’
            ‘But we’re not there yet,’ said Fane, ‘he can still contact you now.’
            ‘He has not,’ replied Shadie. ‘I think he is giving me enough time to process everything, to study everything, to ensure that I have studied anything that could be encrypted.  He could also just be letting time pass, as he might sense the Force is in motion.’
            ‘Thank you for trusting me with this,’ said Fane, taking the datacom. ‘I know you already trust me, but, you know.’
            Shadie nodded. Fane turned his head, breathing in. He blinked back tears.
            ‘You should reach out to him with the Force,’ said Trylia.
            ‘But he’s not Force-sensitive, he won’t sense me,’ said Fane.
            ‘He still might sense you,’ replied Trylia. ‘The Force flows through all living beings. What you two have, two non-Force-users can also have and still feel each other somehow. Such is the way of the Living Force.’
            Fane nodded and closed his eyes. He reached out towards Talyc’s Force presence, trying to sense him. He could feel alarm, fear, and anger.
            ‘They’re torturing him,’ he said. ‘He’s in pain, in turmoil.’
            ‘Then send him your love,’ said Knarf. ‘He might not know it’s you and he might not consciously sense it, but he will feel it and it will bring him hope.’
            Fane did as Knarf suggested, sending through the Force, towards Talyc’s Force presence, the emotions which he felt that made him feel so good, and hoped that it could alleviate some of the pain and anguish Talyc was experiencing.

* * *

            The Krayt Dragon touched down on the giant asteroid that made up the Crypt. The Jedi exited the ship; Brenum had placed some extra safety measures just in case someone else arrived or was already there. Shadie could feel the light gravity a little differently than the last time she had been here.
            ‘I don’t feel the heaviness I felt last time,’ said Knarf.
            ‘That’s because Relsor’s not here,’ said Brenum.
            ‘Good thing for that,’ said Trylia.
            They walked some more before sensing several presences in the Force.
            ‘They may not be here,’ said Knarf, ‘but someone is, and I think that’s many someones.’
            Over a dozen red blades ignited, lighting up the darkness around them. Then several dozen more.
            ‘I should have known he wasn’t going to make this easy for us,’ said Shadie. ‘Just make sure none of those Sith actually contact him.’
            ‘Best we get rid of them quickly then,’ said Fane.
            The Jedi ignited their lightsabers. As a bright giant red glow from all the Sith lightsabers farther down lit the area, a green, orange, purple, blue, yellow and aqua mix of colours illuminated the area surrounding the Jedi. Shadie extended a hand and sent lightning towards the Sith. She could feel many of these were acolytes, disposables, as some in the Sith Academy would call them. Several of them however were fully trained Sith, and only a few of them were Masters.
            They fought off the acolytes quite easily. The others presented a bit more of a challenge. Shadie stayed focused on the present moment and on the lightning she was sending towards them. She made sure to send it all over the place and around her, almost chaotically, to keep them confused.
            Shadie could feel Fane’s distractions, but he looked determined to hurry up and have all these Sith be destroyed. Brenum and Trylia fought side-by-side, staff and dual blades working as though one entity in the Force was holding them. Knarf used his Mandalorian skills to get in close and under several of the Sith, rolling this way and that, and allowing the Force to guide him. Shadie could feel his near amusement. He had his armour on, so the beskar’gam would protect him from the random strikes he received from the Sith. He rolled right under one of the Sith lords and kicked upwards, then drove his lightsaber into the Sith, killing him.
            Shadie couldn’t help but laugh; even Sith were not immune to some of the pain one could feel when attacked a certain way, let alone curl into a ball when kicked in the groin. Knarf bounced up and punched another Sith, before sending his lightsaber through him. Fane danced around the area, making short work of some of the remaining Sith.
            When all the Sith were destroyed, the Jedi powered off their lightsabers.
            ‘Was that supposed to kill us or just slow us down?’ said Knarf, out of breath. ‘This was actually fun!’
            ‘Check for comlinks,’ said Shadie. They found none, however. ‘Were these Sith abandoned here?’
            ‘They believed in their cause as Followers of Kromus,’ said Fane. ‘If they view us as traitors to Kromus, then their cause for sacrifice just to kill us is justified to them. They stayed here willingly, probably assuming they would kill us.’
            ‘Yeah, I don’t think they thought we’d be able to destroy them all,’ said Brenum.
            ‘That just goes to show how little Relsor and Perce truly know or understand about us,’ said Trylia with condescension in her tone. ‘He thinks he knows our minds because he was able to touch them, but he doesn’t understand the power of the light side, he doesn’t understand the Force-bond we share or how love can defeat his dark malady.’
            ‘I agree,’ said Knarf.
            ‘Come,’ said Shadie, sensing Fane’s urgency, ‘we must press on.’
            Walking over Sith bodies, they arrived at an area that Shadie felt was the place to be.
            ‘I think it’s here, where I need to reclaim the Crypt,’ she told them.
            At the far end of a large area, there was a door.  Shadie placed her hand on the door and instinctively focused on her Force presence. The door slid open, rolling into the wall. In the next room, they found a giant sleeping tarentatek. It seemed as though the dark side was feeding it; streams of dark energy were flowing into it. It also seemed as though there were whispers.
            ‘Can you hear these whispers?’ asked Trylia. Everyone replied in acknowledgement. ‘I wonder what they’re trying to say.’
            They needn’t wonder for long though, for as soon as they had walked to the centre of the room, the tarentatek-like creature awoke and began attacking them fiercely. Shadie took a defensive stance. The tarentatek shrieked loudly, stunning them momentarily.
            ‘Force Scream,’ said Brenum, ‘watch out for its draw of breath and block your ears so it doesn’t debilitate you.’
            It lashed out at them with its claws. They slashed at its legs first. That helped, though it knew how to defend itself. Knarf powered off his blade and, by the way he inclined his head, presumably shut off his helmet’s earpiece, turning on the noise dampener. Shadie’s assumption was confirmed when everyone except Knarf was stunned, as the tarentatek screamed again. He ignited his blade, ramming it into its jaw. Once the others weren’t stunned anymore, they drove their blades into it as well. It screamed one last time before falling to the ground, seemingly dead, yet with dark side energy flowing into it.
            ‘Well, that was interesting,’ said Fane. He walked to a pillar that was a bit taller than the average human’s mid-height. Shadie looked around the room, alert. Fane read aloud what was written on the pillar’s surface.
            ‘”Tarentatek to be slain. Pay the price of victory, then pay the sacrifice of kin death.”  Well, we’ve got that first part done.’
            ‘And I think we’ve got the second part done as well,’ said Shadie. ‘Twice over. I killed Kromus, who was like my brother.’
            ‘Twice,’ said Knarf, nodding.
            The door at the other side of the room slid open, rolling into the wall.
            ‘Now I understand how Relsor and Perce got through this room so easily,’ said Brenum. ‘Do you think if they wanted to reclaim the Crypt, they would have an easier time or would they have to make another kin sacrifice?’
            As though to answer Brenum’s question, Shadie heard, or was it more felt, through the Force that the sacrifice would have to be done a second time.
            ‘Huh, interesting,’ said Brenum. ‘Then I guess the fact that you killed Kromus twice pretty much guarantees they can’t take the Crypt away from you even if they tried.’
            ‘I just hope they cannot sense us here,’ said Trylia.
            ‘I highly doubt it,’ said Fane. ‘I can feel the Force so intensely here, and my senses seem heightened; it’s as though I know they are busy torturing Talyc right now.’
            Taking his helmet off, Knarf put a hand on Fane’s shoulder. Shadie knew he sympathised, knew how he felt. Were anything to happen to her like that, she knew he would do everything in his power to save her, as he had done in the past.
            They passed through the archway created by the open door and into the second chamber. A pool stood in the centre of it. It was made of stone; it looked like a well. The water in the pool seemed stale and there were calcification marks around the ring of water.
            Brenum walked to the stone pillar. ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘this is where the sharing of the power thing comes into play and how it is that Perce has some of the Crypt’s powers. Listen to this: “Spill the blood of one most loyal to join with yours and his power will be second to yours.” ‘
            ‘Then this is where we come in,’ said Trylia.
            ‘I’m sorry to have to hurt you,’ said Shadie. ‘I wish there were a lighter way to do this.’
            ‘This is the light way,’ said Knarf. ‘We knew something like this would come; we are willing, volunteering. You are not deliberately hurting us.’ Shadie nodded.
            There was a stone-like tool that was a bit cruder than a knife, but it would do the trick, and was obviously meant to be used here.
            ‘Wait,’ said Fane. He gave the tool a wipe. ‘Now it’s clean from those True Sith’s impurities.’ Shadie smiled. She would miss him greatly.
            Shadie made a small cut in her hand and winced. She used the Force to mitigate the pain and to heal her new wound. Her blood fell into the pool, and her hand almost immediately stopped bleeding. She looked at the others.
            Everyone extended their hand to Shadie. One by one, she cut a small incision in each of their hands, just enough for one drop of their blood to drop into the pool of water. She started with Knarf, then with Fane, then Brenum and Trylia. As soon as Trylia’s blood drop fell into the water, the door that gave access to the third chamber slid open.
            ‘It seems it sensed we are five and that five drops should drop before that door was to open,’ said Trylia.
            ‘It’s the voices,’ said Knarf. ‘The spirits or whatever they are. They know. It knows.’
            They passed into the third room. 
            ‘I’ve got this one,’ said Knarf, walking to the pillar. ‘Oh wow, I’ve really got this one. Get this: “One cannot wield true power if one is not a master of stealth, if one has not risked their life to live as the enemy and risk detection.” And I pretended to have turned to the dark side and apprenticed with Relsor, the Crypt’s current master himself.’
            The door to the fourth chamber slid open.
            ‘These trials,’ said Fane, ‘they’re not just trials to test your worth. You have to have lived, experienced things, and experienced the Force truly, in all its forms. Imagine getting here and having to leave to go fulfil one of the requirements only to come back years later and still be unworthy of claiming the Crypt as its master. Whoever created this place, didn’t want just anybody to claim it. This place is meant for a true Master of the Force.’
            ‘I’m sure I qualify as a true Master of the Force; I know I qualify as a Master of the Force,’ said Shadie. ‘There is a sort of balance within this dark place. The Sphere probably has preferences and favouritism. It obviously wanted me as its master but it never gave away its secrets freely. I had to ask. It had to still somehow be fair.’ Shadie turned to Fane. ‘Your understanding of this place is even more than mine, Fane.’
            He shrugged. ‘You taught me; my level of understanding is only a reflection of your teachings, Master,’ replied Fane. Shadie smiled.
            When they entered the fourth chamber, Trylia walked to the pillar. She read out loud.
            ‘”Communicate with the Protector and you may be its Master.” That’s the Sphere, I believe.’
            ‘I know I can already communicate with it,’ said Shadie. ‘I want to be able to talk to it without Relsor hearing me, like a whisper through the Force, where instead of everyone hearing me, only it hears me. Maybe I can only do that with the full power of the Crypt, but at least I know I can speak with it already.’ She looked at the closed door. ‘So grant me access and I can use the powers of this place to enhance my current abilities.’
            The door didn’t move.
            ‘I need proof,’ came a whisper more clearly.
            ‘That was creepy,’ said Brenum.
            Shadie thought for a moment. Closing her eyes, she focused on her connection with the Sphere. She could feel it, knew it felt her. She waited.
            ‘Fane, can you reach out to Talyc? What is he feeling?’
            Fane closed his eyes and Shadie could feel him concentrate. ‘Pain, lightning, Relsor and Perce, and,’ Fane gasped and staggered back.
            Shadie opened her eyes, startled. ‘Fane, what is it?’ She took him by the arms and steadied him.
            ‘His mind, they’re… I don’t know. They did something to him mind. The trauma of it lingers strongly. Everything is reinforced when they torture him.’ 
            Shadie nodded. ‘It’s okay, Fane. I don’t say this to be cruel, but since they are busy with Talyc, I can focus on the Sphere and speak with it momentarily without the risk of being heard by them. This only takes us a step closer to claiming the Crypt and rescuing Talyc. Stay strong for Talyc. It’s okay. We’re almost done here.’
            Fane nodded. She knew he understood the urgency. Knarf took him into a comforting hug. Shadie turned her attention and Force energy back to the Sphere and her connection to it.
            I am at the Crypt, she told it. It won’t be too long now. I will find a way so we can speak without any other Force-user or non-Force-user hearing.
            Then I will not alarm my masters unless they demand it.
            I understand.
            Shadie returned her attention and energy to the room she was in. Everyone nodded to her. She heard the door roll open. They walked to the next chamber. She looked around. There was no pillar.
            ‘Is this where we see if we are worthy?’ said Knarf.
            As though knowing instinctively, Shadie replied: ‘This is where Relsor and Perce received their powers, therefore we have another trial ahead of us.’
            A pillar rose from the ground. Shadie walked up to it and read what it said:
            ‘”To be a master of the dark side, one must also master the light. Thus is the way to fully understand the Force.” Well there we go. Darth Shadie became Jedi Shadie and since then Master Eidahs. Both Shadie and Eidahs, a master of the dark and light sides of the Force, combining the two to create a new side to the Force, or something like that.’
            Shadie looked around the room. There was a sarcophagus in the centre of the room, but it was otherwise empty. The door slid open, giving them access to the next chamber. Shadie could hear whispers as they walked and she thought of how ready she was for this.
            As soon as they walked in, they were met with a storm of lightning that engulfed them, ran within and through them. The others screamed in pain as Shadie’s own body shook. The lightning danced on them as they fell to the ground and then suddenly died down. Panting, everyone stood.
            ‘Is that it? Was that us gaining power?’ said Fane. ‘Because it felt like the tortures I’ve been sensing that Talyc’s been receiving.’ He paused. ‘Whoa!’ Shadie turned to him, a question on her face, yet still recovering from the shock; she was unable to voice it. Fane looked amazed. ‘I can feel him, truly feel him, sense his thoughts. Not in any telepathic way, but just… He’s not Force-sensitive, but I can feel him. It’s our love. What we share is allowing this. I don’t think he can feel me, because of the whole non-Force-sensitive thing, but, wow.’
            Shadie could still feel her body shaking internally. Perhaps she had gotten the biggest brunt of the shockwave since she was to be the Master of the Crypt. Knarf walked up to her. She felt his hand on her shoulder, however, when she turned to look at him, he wasn’t touching her.
            ‘You thought about putting your hand on my shoulder?’ she asked him.
            He smiled. ‘Yes, my Lady. I was testing our Force-bond. Can you feel this?’
            ‘MY LOVE!’ said Shadie in a high-pitched tone, shocked, yet amused. ‘Not here, not now.’ 
            Knarf put his arms up as though in defeat. ‘Hey, I was just testing,’ he said. Fane laughed, shaking his head.
            ‘Now we’ve got to try that,’ said Brenum.
            ‘I know what you’re thinking, Brenum,’ said Trylia. ‘That would otherwise be inappropriate.’
            ‘Well that seems fun,’ said Fane. ‘Whatever you’re all sensing from each other.’ He had a smile on his face, but Shadie could sense his worry.
            ‘Fane,’ she said. ‘We did it. I am the Master of the Crypt, and we can go save Talyc now.’
            ‘Let’s inform the Sphere of our triumph Sphere,’ said Fane.
            Shadie reached out with the Force and attempted a Force-whisper.
            It is done. Expect me shortly. Don’t reveal anything to Relsor or Perce. Pretend you have not heard from me. If either of them inquire, pretend you sensed my arrival at the Crypt and that we fought Sith who overwhelmed us; that we fled back to Republic space.
            Very well, my Lady, the Sphere replied. This pleases me. What are your commands that you would have me do?
            Just make sure they have no idea I’ve reclaimed this Crypt if they ask.
            I will do as you command.
            ‘Well that settles that,’ said Shadie.
            ‘Settles what?’ said Knarf.
            ‘Oh, that the Sphere will pretend we were never here.’
            ‘Oh, so you communicated with it?’ asked Knarf. Shadie nodded and smiled. It had worked, the Force-whisper had worked.
            ‘You truly didn’t hear?’ she asked, just to confirm. They all shook their heads. ‘Excellent.’
            ‘Before we go, though,’ said Brenum, ‘is it strange to you that this place is called the Crypt and that the only sarcophagus I see is in that room over there? If this is a Crypt, shouldn’t there be more?’
            That was puzzling. They walked to the previous chamber. Shadie observed the sarcophagus. It looked like it could be opened. She used the Force to push it open. There was a grinding sound, and suddenly, another strange sound, followed by more metal grinding.
            ‘Why does it sound like ship parts are moving?’ said Knarf.
            Suddenly the floor beneath them began to move and turn, and a large circular platform was revealed, as that part of the floor began to descend. Shadie looked up at the area where they had been previously; it quickly became part of an upstairs area. The turning continued, slowly, though the motion of descent was quick.
            ‘Where are we going?’ said Brenum.
            ‘A hidden area, obviously,’ said Trylia, ‘though I’m not sure of the nature of the place. I sense a great darkness.’ She looked about, her lekku twitching nervously.
            They descended, and descended. Around them, it was as though a large wall surrounded the circular platform on which they stood.
            ‘Shadie obviously triggered an ancient mechanism,’ said Knarf.
            Finally, they reached the bottom. It was very dark; they could barely see. They each ignited their lightsabers. A tunnel lay ahead of them, a very long tunnel. All along it lay skeletons, sarcophagi and other types of coffins, opened and closed.
            ‘This is the Crypt,’ said Fane. He looked at Shadie.
            They stepped off the platform and into the tunnel. At the far end of it, they could sense a presence, a strong Force presence, an unknown presence, a presence that permeated the dark side, the presence they had always felt in this place, the presence from whence the whispers originated. It was the entity that was the True Master of the Crypt.

“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.

You might also enjoy other SWTOR fanfics, Dragon Age Fan-Fiction short stories,  Mass Effect Fan-Fiction, or Stardust Destinies the High Fantasy Fiction series.

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