So...long time no see on these forums.
Before the wipe, I had a series going that a lot of people seemed to really enjoy, and sadly, I never finished because of the wipe. Well, the game is loads of fun and has motivated me to reboot the series so readers can see the end and so I can share with new readers.
And so, I am pleased to announce the return of Voyages!
The Voyages of Targon Karashi
Episode 1 – Rise a Knight
The forests of Tython in the early morning rang with the songs of life rising with the cool mists above the trees. Shimmering rainbows glittered in the air as the sunlight bathed the landscape. In one of the clearings, littered with a few ancient ruins, came two persons.
Leading the pair was an elderly man. His white hair was long – reaching down to his thighs – and it was separated into two braids. A few feathers were tied into the braids at the ends. His clothes were peculiar – made entirely of animal fur. There was a deerskin cape that hung on his back, and the head of the animal – with its immense antlers thrusting upwards – was made into his cowl. He leaned heavily on a wooden staff shaped like a shepherd’s tool.
The second person was far younger, with short brown hair save for a single braid that brushed against his shoulder. He wore modest robes colored white and brown – the typical sort of clothing for a Jedi. His face was full of youth, untouched and bright and soft. He looked far younger than he truly was. Instead of his twenty-one years, he seemed more like eighteen.
The elder man stopped in the center of the clearing, and the younger lad stood next to him. Kneeling down, the former reached over and touched a small, delicate flower. Next to it was a piece of one of the ruins.
“Do you see this flower, Targon?” he asked, turning to the young man, who kneeled to join him in inspecting the blossom.
“Yes, Master Tieru,” the youth replied. “What do you intend to teach with it in today’s lesson?”
The old man smiled. His pure white eyes sparkled, and his pointed ears twitched. “Not something as simple and typical as that, my padawan. First, I want you to inspect the flower and enjoy the beauty it presents.”
Targon Karashi nodded, and did as he was told. His master, Tieru was unlike anyone in many respects. For one, he did not share the usual Arkanian reliance and fascination with technology and science. He focused his interest in the natural world, and enjoying the beauty it presented. For another, he was not the usual Jedi Master. His lessons were not taught as lectures or tests – but rather he concealed his teaching principles in stories, and in this case, in objects.
After a moment, Targon said, “It certainly is a bright and pretty flower, master.”
“Go into more detail,” Tieru requested.
“Its pattern is simple, yet complex at the same time. It doesn’t follow any discernable course; the petals just follow a random course as they extend outward.”
“Are they random?” the master asked pointedly.
“I don’t know…they aren’t structured, as a person would create. I think…I think the flower takes its own direction and design.”
Tieru nodded. “It follows the path that the Force has prepared for it, not what anything else demands.”
“Is this how a Jedi should be, master?” Targon asked.
“That is no easy question,” Tieru replied. “In order to be a part of this world, you must learn to be in harmony with all the other life and patterns around you. But, in order to be what the Force wills you to be, you must learn to take your own path, and not simply follow what the world governs.”
Targon sighed. “Master, that seems a contradiction.”
“It is, and yet it isn’t. You’ll have to find the truth of that matter for yourself. Now, look again at the flower…” Tieru pointed to it. “Tell me, Targon, does the flower appear strong to you? Do you think it could endure a harsh storm?”
“No, master,” Targon answered. “It’s too weak; there isn’t the strength within it to match against any sort of threat.”
“Yet it has survived,” Tieru said. “Tell me, why do you think it has been able to remain intact for so long despite being such a delicate object?”
Targon studied the bloom a little longer and then noted the rock next to it. “It has been sheltered by the rock, master. The ancient ruin has protected it from the heaviest incidents of the weather and from animals that may have passed this way.”
“Good,” Tieru smiled. “As you have noticed, this stone – far more experienced and venerable – protects the flower against the threats of the world. However, remove the stone, and do you suppose that the flower will survive?”
“I suppose you’re comparing me to the flower and you to the stone?” Targon countered. “You don’t think I am strong enough to withstand the harshness alone because I have been sheltered by you?” Targon knew this was the analogy, and it definitely fit well enough. Targon was young, like the flower, compared to Tieru and the stone. His master was well over one hundred years old.
Tieru shook his head slowly. “I do not believe I have failed to teach you to be strong on your own, young Targon. You are a fine young man, and a strong disciple of the Force. However, I have presented this lesson to you to get you in the proper mindset. We are leaving Tython tomorrow.”
“Leaving to where, master?”
The old Jedi started to lift himself back up to his feet. Targon quickly was up and helped his teacher.
“As Jedi, it is our duty to mediate disputes and debates between the people of the galaxy. Your training is nearing completion, my padawan. Your knowledge of history, channeling, and combat has well exceeded the requirements, and now it is time for you to learn diplomacy and to put what you have learned into application.”
“Yes master,” Targon concealed his excitement. He enjoyed the peace and safety on Tython, but he was eager to go out and see the galaxy – and to do all the things Jedi did.”
“Well, Targon, we’ll get our things together this evening and be off to Ord Mantell on the morrow. There’s a lot of work to be done in order to get the separatists and the planetary government to consider peace talks. It will be our responsibility to bring the two sides to the table. Are you ready for such a mission, Targon?”
“Of course, master,” Targon nodded eagerly.
“However, there’s no need to rush back to the temple,” Tieru said. “Let’s continue our walk through the forest, and you can take the time to ponder my lesson in your mind.”
Targon had trouble sleeping during the night. At first it was the excitement of actually going out into the field. He had been cooped up on Tython for many years. Sure, he had plenty of learning and exploring on the capital world of the Jedi Order, but he longed to see the galaxy – and do all the things that the Jedi were meant to do.
But that eagerness did not keep him awake. He had drifted off to sleep in the middle of the night, but he awoke suddenly mere minutes later after getting a sudden wrenching in his gut. Three more times that happened.
He got himself a drink and used some meditative calming techniques. For a moment, he was calm and felt better. Getting back into bed, Targon then fell asleep. And then the unease came again – worse this time. And he was unable to wake up. He found himself lost in a horrific dream.
It was a cold, dark cavern. Targon shivered, but there was no way of getting warm. He felt as though he was down deep somewhere, for he felt the pressure of the dank air. He was standing on a stone walkway, high above a bottomless pit. Down the way, there was a wide, circular platform. Targon made his way over there, wondering if there was anything to see.
Sitting alone in the center of the platform was a haggard old woman, dressed in a dark cloak. Her gray hair was ratty and filthy. Her face seemed shriveled by the wrinkles. She looked quite disgusting. And the presence she had seemed even more so.
Targon happened to hear some of her thoughts – and they were horrible and dark. It was all about destruction, vengeance, ruin…and death. He figured this woman must be a Sith, for who else would dwell on such horrid thoughts? Targon wanted to leave, but he couldn’t. Something forced him to remain.
A presence was approaching. Something even more dark and sinister than this old woman. Targon thought he could smell rot and decay growing stronger in his nostrils. Footsteps came from behind, and Targon turned to see.
It was a man, dressed in black robes that seemed to disappear into the dark void. He was human – but he certainly didn’t look like it by his face. His skin was gray and thin, so that it simply clung to his bones. Lips pale, hair thin…eyes inverted. Where they were meant to be white they were dark as ash, and the pupils were ghostly pale.
Targon felt fear grip him at the sight of both hideous persons. He wanted to flee, to get away from these grisly, terrible beings. The man passed by him and approached the meditating woman.
A cold, grating query arose from the old woman’s lips. “Why do you disturb me?”
“I am finished with your tutelage,” came the reply from the man’s cruel voice.
The old woman rose, her stern eyes glaring at her pupil. “Is that any way to speak to your master? After decades of training and learning the higher ways of the Force, you dare to come and cast me off like a withered branch?”
“Forty-seven years I have endured your preaching, and wallowed under your foot, you worthless hag,” the man snarled. “Always you promised to teach me how to obtain power for my vengeance, and yet all the while you have lied to me and used me for your own glory.”
“What foolishness have you concocted here?” the woman asked. “Do you dare to defy your master?”
“Master?” the man hissed in foul mockery. “You are not my master anymore, witch. I have seen your true purpose in mind for my power – you desire to use me to destroy your bitter enemies in the Sith. But I will not be used…my power is for my vengeance, not yours.”
A lightsaber ignited in the old woman’s hands. Its crimson glow lit up the chamber a bit, but not enough to subdue the darkness around them. “You are a failure, Khan, and I see that my decades of training you have been for naught.”
“I disagree,” the man rebutted. His hand rose and the saber was yanked from the witch’s feeble hands. It was crushed in the outstretched hand without any exertion of effort. “I have applied your knowledge to hone and focus my strength. Now see what power I have learned on my own…”
The old woman rose into the air, weak cries uttered from her throat. “What is this? How is this possible?”
“I am one with the darkness,” the man answered. “I am the master now.”
His bony hand clenched slowly, and it appeared as though he was grabbing hold of something. Then his other hand rose and reciprocated the motion. The old woman’s body trembled and shook. At last, the man pulled his arms apart, and the hag screamed so horribly that Targon felt his blood run cold.
The molecules of the old woman were ripped apart, and a charred skeleton remained floating in the air for a moment before it too was shattered into microscopic particles. A horrid sigh came from the man, as he seemed to strengthen in stature and power – as though he fed from the death of his former master.
Targon cried out in terror, as he happened to see the ghostly eyes of the dark being once again.
He awoke in his bed, back in his warm chambers in the Jedi Temple. Back on Tython. Targon did not sleep for the rest of the waning night. Instead, he spent these hours trying to calm and center himself in meditation. The frightening vision did not recur, and it did not seem to replay in his thoughts. But the memory of it was sure enough, and it kept him in a cold sweat until the rising of the sun at dawn.