As Shadie had suspected, her training led her to the Valley of the Dark Lords to communicate with the spirits of the ancient masters of the dark side. The place hadn’t changed much.
Dust rose off the ground as wind swept past the red sand in the hot light of the sun. Shadie entered one of the smaller tombs, forgetting whose it was. It did not bother her that she had forgotten some of her former training. She was no longer Sith and these lords did not bear the same meaning to her now as they once did.
She descended a short set of stairs and came to a large room. She looked at the statues that stood at the corners of the room. The beings depicted looked in agony.
She heard whispers, not wispy ones from ancient spirits but ones that came from the living.
She ignited her lightsaber and turned around. A tall Pureblood stood before her.
‘What business does a Mandalorian have on Korriban?’
Shadie used lightning to push him away from her.
‘Why would one who has turned away from the dark side seek the guidance of a Sith master?’ came another voice. A lean woman stood nearby.
From the other side came another voice. ‘Why would a Jedi think she would be safe in this place?’ The voice was male, from a yellow Twi’lek, Shadie noticed.
‘What do you seek to gain?’
Shadie turned to see a Pureblood female standing behind her. Her heart thumped as she realised there were more Sith approaching. She was surrounded.
‘I do not need to justify myself to you,’ she said. ‘I do not need to explain myself. I’m here, that is all.’
Dozens of red blades ignited all around her in canon, lighting the faces of the various aliens and humans who stood around her. Shadie focused and used the Force to pulse at her enemies and push them away. She crouched low, one leg out, holding her lightsaber out and poised for battle. She felt drained already.
She recognised the face of the Miraluka, Storimbu, amidst the red glow from the blades. However, his lightsaber remained clipped to his belt. He stepped forward.
‘And you are absolutely correct,’ he said.
‘What is your game?’ asked Shadie. ‘Tell me, or fight me, but do not leave me waiting, or I will cast the first strike.’
Storimbu smiled. ‘We test, we make sure, only to reinforce our decision.’
‘And what decision is that?’
‘To follow you!’
Shadie powered off her lightsaber and brought her leg in close. She remained crouching and closed her eyes.
‘You would follow someone weak and drained? I would have the will to fight you and yet not the strength. If you wanted to, you could strike me down right here and now.’ She breathed deeply, quickly.
Storimbu crouched before Shadie, taking her chin and bringing it up for her to look at him. His touch was remarkably gentle.
‘Strength is not just physical. You are weak because you are ill. But you have passed many trials. You learnt from our master, Kromus, you learnt from Jedi. You gained many allies; your friends follow you wherever you choose to go. You have sacrificed yourself for them to save another, allowing yourself to be captured, and they followed you willingly. They are loyal to their deaths. You trained Fane, who defeated Relsor and saved the Force. You are the Lady of the Crypt.’
Storimbu helped Shadie up, taking her hand and pulling her slowly to her feet.
‘Everyone has their setbacks now and then,’ he went on. ‘That does not determine their strength overall. We do not seek a master, but a guide. We seek to earn the same from you as some others have, for we envy them the love and loyalty you give them. You respect others, and we want that.’
Storimbu opened his hands out and motioned towards the other.
‘Some among us are human or Pure-Blood, but those of us who are alien, are shunned upon, even if we are more powerful than many others.’ He walked about a bit. ‘Before you, are pupils, acolytes, teachers, masters. We wish to find a cause we can follow. It seems that even when that cause is unknown, you are at the centre of it, you know how to find balance. You are one to follow. And thus, our blades are yours.’
The Sith around fell to one knee, bowing. Their blades remaining low, all still aglow. Shadie nodded. ‘Very well, I will lead you, though right now, I do not know what our cause is. My methods are different from what you have known,’ she warned. ‘I am a benevolent Force-user. I cannot condone harming another on a whim. I am neither Jedi nor Sith, and yet I am both.’
Storimbu smiled. ‘Then teach us how to be both, so we may achieve many great things by your side…if you will have us.’
‘And bring you where, go where?’ asked Shadie
‘Nowhere!’ said Storimbu. ‘Having us by your side is not always manifested physically.’
‘I think I understand,’ said Shadie. ‘All right. But we are not Followers of Kromus. We are Protectors of the Force.’
‘A fine name to call ourselves. Fane is the Saviour of the Force, Jedi Master Lian the Healer of the Force and Guardian of the Crypt. You have already Protectors of the Crypt with your Jedi friends. Protectors of the Force seems to complete it.’
The other Sith stood again and powered off their lightsabers.
‘Come,’ said Storimbu, ‘the tombs are not the best place for you when you are feeling drained. Join us in the cantina?’
* * *
The group sat down in the academy cantina, cramming inside it. Storimbu ordered them drinks.
‘So there I was,’ Storimbu said, continuing the story he had begun previously, ‘five-year-old me imitating the lightning from the sky, and then a bolt hits my bolt, and boom, silver-white hair ever since.’ He chuckled, sitting down and leaning back diagonally, lounging like he owned the place.
‘Yeah, but you can’t see,’ teased one of the others.
‘I see with the Force, I see more precisely than all your eyes combined. I’ll see details your perfect eyesight will miss.’
‘Ah, but do you really see colours or do you just know about them because of what people tell you?’
‘I guess that’s my story to tell…or not.’ Storimbu winked at Shadie. A waiter brought them their drinks. ‘Call your husband to join us, he fascinates us!’
‘Does he now?’ Shadie arched her brows, suppressing a laugh.
‘You trained him, a Mandalorian trained him, Relsor trained him. He has developed some, so I hear, interesting skills.’
‘Yes, we make quite a team,’ said Shadie.
‘If ever you should tire of him, I will gladly take him off your hands,’ said the female Pureblood. She winked. ‘I would prefer your former apprentice, but he is with your clan leader.’
Shadie laughed. ‘Yes, well, Fane and Talyc are getting married. And Knarf and I are happily married.’
‘Oh, all right,’ said the woman.
‘I think the Cathar pirate who hangs out on Mandalore is quite the catch,’ the yellow Twi’lek said invitingly at the Pureblood. He winked.
‘I prefer them human, Kafter,’ the Pureblood woman said.
‘Yes, and preferably humans who don’t die to bounty hunters, eh, Drashdae!’
The Pureblood waved her hand dismissively at Kafter. ‘That ended before he died and he is best forgotten.’ Kafter and Drashdae exchanged a mocking glare of sorts.
A Kaleesh who remained silent, chuckled quietly before looking back at Shadie. He was large and his stare was unnerving, but if he was part of Storimbu’s entourage, Shadie figured he was as friendly as the others were.
‘Uh, so, how come you are all on Korriban? I thought the Followers of Kromus had joined the True Sith?’ asked Shadie.
‘Well, you see, it’s like this:’ began Storimbu. He starightened and clased his hands on the table. ‘After you killed Kromus for the second time,’ he chuckled, ‘through circumstances, I became the new leader of the remnant of the Followers of Kromus. We joined the True Sith after a time but didn’t like their superiority complex. When Knarf killed Perce, many Followers of Kromus disbanded from the True Sith. Some remained loyal to Relsor, but those of us who disbanded returned to our past routines.’ Storimbu motioned his hand to the room. ‘Everyone you see here came here with me on Korriban because we found a mutual cause, the one to investigate another whom we felt worthy of following. A cause we felt deserved our attention.
‘The True Sith were one thing. But when it was discovered that Relsor was destroying the Force by merely existing and that he had little regard for our fellow Sith, even if we were no longer with those Sith, we realised we had made a mistake in following his cause. Kromus did not know it would come to this. I’m sure if he had, he would not have joined with Darth Gourd.’
‘But Kromus knew of Relsor’s existence and kept it from us all,’ said the yellow Twi’lek. ‘That’s on him, and his secrets and deceit caught up with him.’ He pointed a thumb towards Shadie.
‘Yeah, about that,’ said Shadie, ‘you’re not upset or uneasy at the fact that I killed Kromus?’
Storimbu shook his head. ‘Are any of you?’ he asked the others. They shook their heads and several answered in the negative. ‘You see, no one’s bothered by it.’
‘Well, Shadie, Kromus had it coming. He lied to you, and he tried to kill you, he tried to have Knarf killed, and he was trying to gain control of the Crypt. You came up on top. As you said, you are benevolent, you did not seek to kill him, you sought to save him, and he chose to fight you to his death. We did mourn him, but we were not snatched from parents killed by him to be used as a tool or made to be slaves. You see, some of us were slaves before we became Sith. No one deserves such a life, and you freed yourself. We cannot fault you for that.’
‘Thank you. I appreciate your understanding,’ said Shadie. ‘So, do you know anything about the Dark Council regarding Lord Void?’
A red and black Zabrak leaned forward. ‘If Lord Void ever enters Sith Space again, he is a dead man,’ she whispered. ‘But they will lure him here for a “fairer” trial and try to gain his secrets first.’
‘Okay, well that’s good to know,’ said Shadie.
‘You trust him?’ asked Storimbu.
‘Lian trusts him,’ said Shadie. ‘And I trust Lian. Lord Void helped us. He could not have foreseen that his son would survive. I can’t imagine what he went through not being able to kill his son but knowing it had to be done.’
‘None of us can,’ said Storimbu. ‘There are many who don’t care what happens to him. I met with him on many occasions. He is a fine Sith. Awgro disgraces him as he disgraces the Sith Empire. He claims to serve the Emperor and wishes to restore the Empire of old, the Empire of centuries past. Lord Void shall have our allegiance if he has yours. We will await the verdicts but I think it’s safe to assume he will need to keep away from Sith Space.’
Shadie looked to the door and realised she had forgotten to call Knarf. So she did. Then she looked at Storimbu again.
‘There is a rumour that Awgro has set a bounty on Talyc’s head,’ she said carefully.
‘Would you like us to eliminate anyone who has taken the bounty?’ asked a Rattataki female a little too eagerly.
‘No, it’s fine for now,’ said Shadie, laughing a bit uneasily. ‘I’ll let you know if it gets out of hand. But apparently, there is another bounty set on a woman who is unknown to us. Her name is Maranna.’
‘Maranna!’ said Storimbu, eyes wide behind his eye covers. ‘I remember her.’
‘She’s not a Kandera,’ said Shadie, ‘I don’t know why Awgro has an interest in her.’
‘She cannot use the Force, she cannot channel it, but the Sith found her dangerous,’ Storimbu explained. ‘She absorbs everything, not unlike a Jedi could, but it is amplified. When she could not learn what the Sith masters wanted her to, she was deemed unworthy. They thought her dangerous and wanted to terminate her life for fear if she developed her abilities she would neutralise any Sith’s powers. She left and found refuge with the True Sith.’
‘So Awgro must have met her while on Relsor’s ship or something?’ suggested Shadie. ‘Or maybe she knew Relsor?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Storimbu. He leaned back, rubbing his chin. ‘What I do know is she has not returned here nor has anyone seen her since she left.’
‘When did you meet her?’
‘I met her briefly before she left Korriban.’ Storimbu lifted a brow. ‘I don’t know why the Sith wanted to get rid of her or why they feared her. We wanted to welcome her to our group. She seemed all right. Some of us liked her. But she was gone before we could invite her, then we learnt the Sith masters wanted to get rid of her.’
‘Our contact,’ Shadie said carefully, ‘claims she had joined the Followers of Kromus.’
‘That’s what she claimed when she feared for her life,’ replied Storimbu. ‘I thought I’d make her claims official with a proper invite.’
‘More like he would have liked to invite her to more than just the Followers of Kromus,’ Kafter said, grinning.
Storimbu shook his head, suppressing a smile and blushing. He looked at Shadie again. ‘She knows how to stay hidden, but if you need us to find her, we’ll find her.’
Shadie nodded. Knarf entered the cantina and looked surprised to see all these Sith. They turned to him, raising a glass.
‘Knarf!’ said Storimbu. ‘It is good to see you again! We fondly await to hear your stories.’
‘My love, what’s going on?’ asked Knarf.
‘My love, meet our new allies, the Protectors of the Force.’
“Trials in the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2022).
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.