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Having ensured Tobias was safely nestled in a sleeping quarter, Frond made his towards were the others had gathered. He enjoyed the flow of the force that emanated from the others; each was unique, touched by their thoughts and experiences, but together their collective being bathed the entire ship in a warm glow of lightness. Even the whispering darkness-saturated hunger of the seed within his saber was nearly silenced in such a flow. it was different than the flows of the force as he sat meditating deep in nature, untouched by sentient waves. As much as he appreciated meditating in such a setting, Frond could not help but feel his knotted grains ease about his fellows.

 

Reaching a single gnarled arm around Sandy, Frond embraces his master his happiness at seeing her pulsing off his badly skin on invisible tendrils of the force.
 

“As waves lost at sea

Delight found adrift again

Together we are”

 

Releasing his oaken grip as the ship dropped out of hyper, Frond shuffled towards the viewport. The planet filled his sight. Even on this short jump, Frond could feel his leafy foliage yearning for the sunlight that bathed the world below. Standing I. Silence as the ship descended to the planet, Frond was one of the first to disembark. He felt the sunlight that bathed Ossus surging through his body. The energy pulsing silently and filling the aged tree with energy. His leaves rustled as Frond inhaled deeply. The force was strong here. Even as the galaxy was out of whack, the dark side surfing, Frond could feel the goodness, the light of this place. It would be a wonderful place to plant himself and meditate. The silent tickle of dark hunger nestled within the log-like hilt of his saber nestled in his chest reminded him; however, that his work was not yet done. The force needed to be balanced and darkness brought to heel. It was why he had been called forth.

 

As soon as Aiden had disembarked, Frond fell into stride with the one being who he did not know from their ragtag crew of force wielders. He offered the man a warm smile.

 

“Fire flows from within

We seek the same outcome, yes

Frond is who I am”

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The Jedi Order’s presence on Ossus was not as pronounced or as fillled with grandeur as one of the old temples on coruscant may have been, but it was homely enough. The long antennas of the deep space communications array stretched into the grey blue skies as the starship containing the Jedi and Imperial strike force made its landing approach. There was a sharp dip as they entered the crater of the Eye of Ashlanae. Once considered the very peak of jedi power some many thousands of years before, now all that remained was the powerful essence of the force itself and scattered ghosts. It was all still a sight to behold, toppled statue’s whose faces were carved away by the rains of time, shattered monestarial pillars and minarets, now just stumps of withered limestone. The new facility though lightly staffed was mostly filled with communications technicians and archaeologists. The great Jedi Library had once stood at the center of the ruins, destroyed by Exar Kun, and was still under full excavation. There was little doubt to why the Holocrons had been placed in this facility, this was the last vestige of the noontide of the jedi order. 

 

That thought made Sandy slightly ill. They had fought for over four thousand years to restore the jedi order to what they had once been, and still they were no closer. Like beating back the tide with a shovel. 

 

The Master Archaeologist bowed his greetings, his Lekku bouncing a happy jig on his shoulders. He gestured to three sealed crates behind him which were being guarded by three apprentices who wore training sabres and grins instead of any kind of malice. 

 

“Jedi Sarna, we have been awaiting you. Little Corán there-” He pointed to a blonde headed apprentice who smiled widely and gave a wave. “Foretold us of your coming. He said a….No Corán, you speak it better. Come here and give the Knight your report.” 

 

The toe headed young man bounded up with a spring and a bow to each of the party in turn before speaking. “A broken party with deceit in its roots will attempt to reclaim the lost Ark. We had been taught about the Eternal Vigilance last year and for some reason I could see it in my dream you see.” The Jedi Master coughed and the apprentice restarted his prophecy. “Darkness is in the blood, and that they needed the Eternal Holocrons to bring the vessel for redemption.” He shook his head. “I saw death stalking the ship, an old man cackling in its bowels, and the darkness claiming each of you.” He looked distraught. “I...Hope it goes ok…” He kicked at the dust then burst into tears. The Jedi Master shooed him away then turned to the party. 

 

“None the less, the force is stirring here, its touching each of you. I regret that we can not give you more help.” He turned to Aidan. “You will need your father’s login credentials to even get through the bulkhead doors.”

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Frond shuffled after the group, standing back in the eaves as Sandy interacted with the Jedi entourage present in the derelict Jedi stronghold. He was content to allow the light of this place wash across his mind; coalescing as close to as one with the force as a mortal form could. Standing with his eyes closed he could feel the interactions taking place before him, the toiling of the other Jedi archaeologists throughout the facility, the breath of the natural world slowly having reclaimed what the Jedi sought to harvest eons before. He could feel the peace and his soul relaxed in it. 

 

But then, he couldn’t as his fellow apprentice recounted his prophecy, the words and emotions danced across Frond’s heartwood, tingling of fear and darkness. ‘ . . . with deceit in its roots . . . ‘

The phrase caught his attention, not just the words, but the twinge of the force itself. Could it be talking about him? The darkened seed rotted and hardened to a crystallized chunk of coal nestled within his saber hilt; carved from his own rooted body.

 

Frond’s eyes fluttered open as the crystalline mass within his saber, tucked within his own knitted body, surged; latching in to that flitting hesitation. Darkness had found a foothold.

 

As the unknown apprentice burst into tears, Frond turned and quickly lurched away from the rest of the group. He had felt it. Welling up within him. Fear. 
 

Exiting the temple area, Frond reached up and pulled the smooth log-like hilt from the hole that had opened in his chest. Holding the weapon in front of him, Frond eyed the tool momentarily as he found his way through the natural world of Ossus, away from the Temple. 
 

He only stopped when he found a clearing open to the sunlight streaming down from above. There, his feet quickly began to dig within the soil, the nutrients flooding upwards while his leafy cloak opened up to embrace the warm rays pounding down. In the middle, within Frond, they met. Their answer: life.

 

The healing nature of the natural world pulsing through his body, Frond pauses. He could feel more than hear the dark hunger gnawing at its wooden tomb. It hungered for release, for feeding, for destruction. That prophecy though; Frond had heard it, had felt it. It was about him, he knew it. He was called to balance the force, light against dark, darkness against the light. It would destroy him and he would destroy the few he had come to embrace. He was the deceit within their roots. He carried it within his very being. He was no Jedi. He only played at it. Staring at the unholy weapon in his hand, Frond’s long tendrils fingers embraced it. He was not a Jedi. He could feel the darkness calling to him, urging him to ignite his saber and give into its hunger. He could feed the darkness. Embrace it, and with it within, he could destroy it from within. All that mattered was balancing the force. Surely his friends would understand.

 

The thoughts swirled maddeningly in and around Frond’s mind. The grass around him bending to the invisible whirlwind that encircled him in a forming dustdevil. In the middle stood Frond, his fist shaking as he clenched the weapon in his hand, his mind melding with the destruction-craving hunger within the haft of wood.

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Kel watched his master struggling to heal the bite mark the ghouls had inflicted on her back on Gala. the warped energies of the force that reanimated them seemed to be hindering the healing process. Normally Kel would have stepped in to assist by now, but she seemed intent on handling the injury herself. Then there was Master Tobias. After imbuing himself with that strange power, Kel wouldn't even know where to start treating him. Luckily we would soon arrive on Ossus and he would be able to receive treatment at that world's Jedi temple.

 

As much as he would have liked to get reacquainted with Frond, Kel knew that to continue on this mission without being a hindrance to the group, he would have to train.  After departing from the ship, Kel asked for directions to the temple training grounds. Once he was there, Kel removed his armor and robes, exposing his muscular torso, and neatly folded his robes placing the bundle in an out of the way spot so he could begin his training regimen. After a set of stretches to make his body more limber, Kel began beating on a wooden training dummy. He had been focusing on his saber training so much, that he had neglected keep up his hand to hand training. each hit on the dummy's wooden pegs causing a chain reaction that rotated other parts of the mechanism causing Kel to watch his footing while maintaining a steady stream of blocks and offensive blows. 

 

After that, Kel sat in the middle of the training grounds and began to meditate. he focused his breathing in through his nostrils and out through mouth. The young sage emptied his mind in pursuit inner peace and guidance from the force with each breath. As he meditated, his body levitated until it was roughly five feet from the ground. Kel contemplated the meaning behind his grandfather's words. the point between fury and peace. As a Baran Do sage and a Jedi, Kel believed seeking knowledge in the force and inner peace was his one goal in life. But he also knew that there were those who sought to disturb that peace and spread fear and darkness across the galaxy. Which is why he had taken up arms with the Jedi. The pain this war has and will continue to cause angered him. Gusts of wind began blowing through the training yard and swaying the branches of the trees. As a sage he was taught not to rush headlong into danger. He was told to wait until exactly right moment to act. It was then that Kel figured out the meaning behind his words. it was a metaphor for knowing when to take action. the sages and the Jedi do share one tenant. Trust in the force. Kel Felt the force flow into his body, empowering him with its light, wishing to be let loose in the physical plane. And so Kel outstretched his left hand and from it flew bright white streams of lightning that scorched the earth below.

 

The wind in the training yard died down and Kel fell to the ground on his feet and stared at the scorched earth and his hand. he could still feel it tingling from the energy that flowed through his finger tips but a moment ago. Then he began to laugh joyously at his accomplishment.

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Aidan scratched his head at the remark that his father's credentials were needed, almost like it were twisted fate he'd even come along on this mission. What if it were given to someone else? But it wasn't...it was his, just as it was everyone else's in their little band of misfits.

 

"That shouldn't be an issue. I used to, ah...use his login all the time. Hopefully, it still works. I think it worked back on Gala because the systems hadn't been updated in forever, but...you never know."

He turned, watching Frond leave the group. Honestly, it was the one person - or rather, being - he was highly curious about. He'd never encountered a Neti before, and the large tree thing had really caught Aidan's attention. Sure, the prophecy of doom and struggle was nice and all, but the Jedi were always on about their doom and struggle. In the here and now, people mattered. He leaned over to Sandy, pointing it out.

"Is he going to be okay? I...I think I should go and check on him."

He quickly keyed out a message to her with his father's login credentials, before following after wherever Frond had disappeared to. It took a few minutes and a bit of his Force senses, but Aidan finally caught up to Frond outside the Temple grounds. A small tornado of dust and dirt swirled about, and it was painfully clear the Force was tumultuous here, uncertain of itself. For a moment, Aidan stood there, uncertain himself what he should do. His training with the Exorcists told him he needed to extinguish the darkness present. His experiences with the Jedi told him that nothing what he did here would ultimately matter. And then there was his experiences with Sandy in his own self reflection...

Aidan instead made a choice that he hadn't made in a long time: he needed to be himself.

"You know, you could just ask for help. Trees withstand storms by relying on the ground to hold them in place. You feel like you need a friend who can ground you a bit."

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There he stood, centered within the gathering maelstrom of bits of grass, leaves, and twigs. Frond stares down at the wooden haft jutting our from either end of his encircling fist. He stared but did not see. The Neto’s  mind was entranced by the call of the darkness. The hunger called out to him. He was sworn to balance the force and had decided of his own accord that the best way to achieve this end was to destroy the excess of darkness. He was simply trimming away the fat. The wind shoot his branches appendages and rattled Frond’s leafy cloak, but he paid it no heed. Nothing else mattered but the force. The force was his master. His body, this physical plane, all they did was restrict him. All he needed to do was give into the calling hunger. He could become a noxious oleander, death to all that stood in his crawling path towards the balance. And then, there, at the end, in the blaze of his own creation, the force would take him; freeing him once and for all.

 

Lost as he was within the temptations that swirled about his mind as much as the winds whisked about him, Frond has not seen or sensed the approach of the young Aiden. When the man spoke, his voice cut through the temptations of his own mind and in an instant the branches, leaves and debris that encircles him tumbled to the ground, the air turning deathly still. Frond’s eyes looked up from his saber towards the Imperial Knight, beholding him as if for the first time. What was he offering? Did this not-a-Jedi feel the same call as he? To eliminate the dark side? To achieve balance? The saber in his hand still crawled through Frond’s mind urging him, begging him to simply with a thought ignite the massive golden blade of justice held within and to strike down the young king before him. It would be simple enough Frond was assured. He had but meld his will with that of the darkness-soaked crystal and together they would achieve both ends, feasting and destruction to bring about the balance.

 

Frond’s grip tightened on the wooden skin of his weapon so much that the freak of wood on wood echoed through the still air. Yet still, Frond did not ignite the blade. The presence within his mind practically screamed it. His physical body craves the satisfaction the destruction offered. It would be simple enough.

 

Only one thing held him back. Frond could feel the light that radiates off of this young imperial knight. If he struck him down Frond would tip the cosmic balance towards the dark. He would be removing a count from the side of light and moving his own from the losing side to that of the overpowering darkness. He was sworn to bring the balance. He was the light, the blade the darkness. Somewhere in the vestibules of his own mind, Frond knew that. Still he yearned for the satisfaction that now whispered to him.

 

Standing there, his eyes locked unblinkingly on Aiden, his hilt held before him in a clenched fist like a priceless relic that could fade away in a puff of smoke, Frond battled within his own mind and in that battle echoed the words of the youngling.

 

Finally, his voice a low whaspy rumble, he whispered,

“The ground releases

Comrades vanish with the wind

The Force speaks the truth

Like the wind, we need but listen

You are balancing” 

 

And in that moment, Frond made a choice. He would not cut down the light to aid the dark, even if it promised him everything. He had made up his mind. He would balance the force. He could not unbalance it further.

 

Slowly relaxing the death-grip he held on his weapon, Frond lowered his arm. He stared at the man before him still; his eyes unblinking. Spinning the wooden haft in his hand, Frond extended the four-handed log towards Aiden. He did not know him, but he was of the light. That was enough. The darkness of the saber still called to Frond, whispering it’s temptations in his mind. He had resisted in the moment; but Frond had tasted the delight it had offered. He needed time to right his mind and balance it back within the light; lest he fall in a moment of weakness. To that end, a soldier of light was the best he could hope for to entrust his own portion of the sacred balance until he was prepared to wield it again.
 

“Bees deposit life

Into your hands I place mine

Trust nurtures our lives”

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"Uhh..."

Aidan didn't exactly know what to do, nor what specifically it was that Frond held out to him. He spied some kind of metal poking out one end, and realized it might have been a kind of lightsaber. Aidan didn't really understand how Frond spoke all that easily, but it was clear that the big tree-thing wasn't really in the best of moods.

"Look, you don't need to give me that. Not if you don't want to. I'm not quite sure what you're going through right now, but I just figured...well, sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to. You know, to work all this stuff out. It helps. Well...helped me, I guess. Do you understand?"

Aidan caught the patronizing look that told him Frond understood him just fine.

"So...uh...do you want to talk about it? Maybe sit down on that log over...uhh...is that even okay? That's not like a relative or anything, right? Look, I'm just trying to not be offensive and I've never encountered one of your kind before or anything..."

He stopped, grasping for words, realizing he probably looked like an idiot. A while back that would have frustrated him, he wouldn't have tolerated it and he'd loathe himself for it, but right now he just felt silly. Taking a deep breath, he centered himself, continuing.

"I'm sorry, let's start over. I'm Aidan. You're Frond. Nice to meet you. What's troubling you, bud?"

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The look Frond gave the young human was almost second nature. He was used to people not understanding him; but most seemed to assume he understood them just fine. Even if he didn’t. The man’s bumbling brought a slight smile to his weathered barky face though.

 

Stepping forward, the massive tree-like being firmly pressed the wooden haft into Aiden’s hands. No was not an acceptable answer. The darkness still called to him and the temptations too fresh. It quite literally existed within the saber. 
 

“Wind with time weathers

Within protection blooms peace

you are protection”

 

He rambled before turning towards the downed log with a smile. Gently lowering his large frame onto the log, Frond appeared to be a grotesquely shaped tree that had sprouted up over time; the sharp corners and edges of his joints speaking to unseen forces that had morphed the natural growth of what would have been any other plant.

 

“Cloudless nights shine clear

Darkness seeps from all shadows

With the dawn comes light

On the rays of light ride flame”

 

holding up both hands one to his left and one to his right, Frond slowly brought them together; his tendrilled fingers pushing flat against one another.

 

“Balance must be found.”

 

 

 

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Frankly, Aidan didn't really understand much of what Frond was trying to say. The tree-thing spoke in riddles with a strange vocal pattern. He'd heard stories of some species who had to speak that way even when they knew Basic simply because that was how their brains worked, but witnessing it firsthand was something else. He sat on the log with Frond in confused silence, trying to piece together what he meant. At the end, though, when he brought his hands together, or rather...branch-hand-things, Aidan finally got it.

"Balance must be found."

 

"Aaaaaahhh. One of those things. Well, I'm not going to presume I know your problems or what you're going through, but um...I kinda went through something similar lately."

Aidan shifted uncomfortably, hesitating before he continued. He hated talking about this, even admitting he'd had issues, but deep down he knew it was okay. It was just a wound that needed time to heal, was all.

"I had, well, have...anger issues. Not exactly kosher for an Imperial Knight, or a Jedi. I'm lucky master Kyrie decided to try and work with me instead of excommunicate me from the Order, which would have been her right. But finding balance, even within ourselves, it isn't easy. I think...I think we can fight back the darkness and be righteous in our cause without falling to it. We make mistakes, and we get back up. It's part of life. I had a hard time accepting my own imperfections for a long time, always being held to a standard that didn't fit me, and I internalized a lot of it I think."

He sighed, picking up a rock and throwing it at a much larger one a little ways away, trying to fight through the urge to keep his problems to himself.

 

"I mean, we're all here to lean on each other. Not like literally, you'd probably crush me, but I mean help out with what we're feeling and going through. If you bottle that stuff up and make rash decisions it usually just hurts you and those that care about you."

Aidan looked back at Frond, taking a moment to look into the big tree's eyes to try and tell if Frond understood him. He put a hand on Frond's saber, and knew a bit better what he meant, the darkness in the saber reaching out to him. Dipping into the Force, Aidan pushed his senses out like he had when he went through the mental exercise with Sandy. In Aidan's exercise, he had pruned a mental tree that represented his own thoughts and mind. Not to kill it, but to trim away the bad branches so that the rest of him would be healthier.

"I don't think the darkness in this was just naturally here. I think it's yours. It belongs to you. You can try to deny its existence, forsake it, cut it away from you, but you're still just cutting off your nose to spite your face. Sorry, human expression...uhh...hurting yourself more than helping. But that's okay. It's okay to know yourself, what you're capable of. For me it was a manifestation of something else, a pain I wasn't even aware of. And as I became aware of it, I learned to know myself better, and how to heal that pain. My balance comes from accepting who I am and what I can be, as well as what I can't and must never be. Sure, the dark side tempts me. Anger and rage are easy outlets to deal with it all, and in the wrong settings like this galaxy is so full of it's easy to just give in."

He sighed again, pulling his hand back.

"But that's not me. I don't think that's you. We can embrace our pain and be defined and consumed by it, or we can fight it, get ourselves to a better place, and help others get there too. We're all in this together, anyways, and it helps to have friends to lean on."

Aidan looked up once more into Frond's big eyes, smiling. Whatever happened, he wanted the Neti to know he wasn't alone.

"Gods, I hope you understood all that."

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Frond watched the human as he spoke of his own inner struggles. A slight smile creased his face as he listened. These young species were all so much alike. The man spoke without knowing that of which he spoke. Frond knew that he was hard to understand. It was a fact and a curse of his current state of physical being; the blade plunged into his body by the Sithling on Gorn having scrambled the aged Neti’s already questionable speech patterns.

 

Closing his eyes, Frond wished he could simply show the man the error of his ways. To take an infant mindwalking was an enlightening experience even for Frond who had spent more of his time beyond shadows than in this present state. Without even aware of what he was doing, Frond reached out across the force, feeling for Aiden’s mind. Perhaps if words were not capable feelings could be. Even as the darkness nipped at the fringes of his mind like a starved aak dog, Frond focused his own thoughts and mind towards his center; towards the light, towards that which he felt: Aiden was right, and he was wrong. There was so much more to the force than this physical world. Darkness and light are not bore within, but poured into the empty vessels that we are from that which transcended their very existence.

 

Perhaps, Frond hoped, the man beside him could feel and understand something of the deep seated hopelessness that Frond felt. Their mortal bodies meant little beyond their own plain of existence. The force was so much more.

 

“Time weathers all things

Truth is beyond our learning

Time is our teacher”

 

((Edit: grammar issues))

Edited by Frond

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Aidan's brow furrowed, and he pulled away. Clearly what Frond had shown him the big tree fully believed in, but it wasn't a vision the Imperial Knight shared.

"I'm sorry...I just...don't agree."

It saddened Aidan to know that nothing he'd really tried had had any effect on Frond's problems. It also hurt him a bit to think that Frond would rather him feel the tree's hopelessness rather than try something, anything different to drag himself out of his emotional pain.

"If you want me to hold onto that, I guess I can. I just don't think such a small action like that will stop what's going on in that head of yours. Of course...I guess what I said didn't either."

Aidan stood, looking back to the temple. He could feel Sandy back there where he'd left her, and he suddenly had an urge to spend some time with her. When he first met her she was overbearing and annoying, but it became clearer over time that she actually cared about him in more than just the capacity of a simple crush, and that was refreshing. Right now, he could use that refreshment. Hopefully Frond understood Aidan was fine being there for him in the same capacity, to reinforce and to calm.

"Just leave it in my things on the ship if you're serious about getting rid of it. I'll take care of it. I, uh...I need to go for a walk."

Giving the tree-thing one final look, Aidan walked back towards the temple. He'd tried, and he hoped that it mattered to whatever cosmic entity that was keeping score of things.

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Frond sighed heavily watching as Aiden walked away. He had tried. Somehow. He had reached out for help, only to have it slapped away. Still, the man had interrupted the inferno and by that pulled Frond’s focus away from the maelstrom of darkness that he had been on the verge of giving in to. He was grateful for that. Perhaps the young man just did not understand.

 

Turning his attention to the saber setting on the log beside him, Frond closed his eyes and picked it up. Immediately, the call of darkness echoed up his arm and throughout his soul. Frond’s mind braced against it, trying to cloak itself in the light that blazed in the force all around. Even then it buffeted and gnawed at his shielded mind seeking a foothold again. He would simply be stronger. He had to be. This was his burden to bear. The light and the darkness, ting and yang; one held in check by the other. Frond would not, could not, faulted. The force needed balance and he was a tool of the force’s will.

 

The knothole in his chest opened and Frond gingerly placed the wooden haft and its dark passenger inside. The hole closed around it, sealing the darkness within Frond’s very being.

 

Exhaling deeply, the leaves atop Frond’s head rustled briefly. He then stood up and dig his rooted toes into the soil. In a flash of bright yellow light, the humanoid’s human-like body warped and twisted, morphing in an instant into a towering tree of aged bark and black glistening leaves. For the time being, Frond would stand, a silent sentinel surrounded by the natural world and natural flowing of the force. His mind would bask in it and hopefully be strengthened by it so when the time arose, he could properly find the balance he so needed to ignite the hungering flame of his saber again and not fall to the temptations that lapped at him standing at the edge of darkness.

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The plants had been tended to, her chores were done, cafeteria visited, now all that was left to do was some lightsaber meditation. Upon arriving, Trushaun was flustered to see another person in the training room. Normally she liked to zone out and simply run through her paces, thinking about the hydroponics bay or the wroshyr tree sapling that had arrived recently. It was a young Kel'Dor male. While she couldn't be sure- she assumed her feathers pulsed slightly at adjusting her routine. Something told her to just see what this apprentice was up to- then the spark happened, then he laugh. If her species had eyebrows she would have raised one. 

 

Slowly walking towards the alien, she cleared her throat gently. She hadn't had to speak to any one in three days; she enjoyed being off by herself and her plants. Holding her shoulder bag in one hand she spoke, in broken basic, to Kel @karyu128 "You laugh? Supr-r-rissse? Why, K-k-el'Dor?"

 

The young avian was genuinely curious. 

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The aged stone felt so coarse to her bare feet as setook off her boots and leg armour as she distantly watched the ship be refueled and restocked. She stripped off the white silver armour the imperial knights had given her, leaving her just in her flight shirt and pants, which though stained from the battle beforehand, didn’t immediately need to be changed out of.to relax. The removal of the armour was enough for her, and she loved the feeling of the rock under her feet and the wind in her hair. The thousands of years of rain had left the brown-red stone pockmarked with microabrasions from the intermittent weathering of ice and heat. She climbed up the small hill of stone that had once been an ancient toppled statue and pulling her legs underneath her, meditated. She concentrated first on the decaying wound on her hand, pulling deeply on the force to staunch its corruption, halting the decay if not reversing it. Then her mind began to wander. She found the stark presence of Aidan in her mind, talking to the confused presence of Frond. There was something off about the tree like being, but she couldn’t place her hand on it. There was something there….an ebbing of the force maybe? But Aidan was coming her way and Sandy pulled herself out of the trance. 

 

She opened her emerald eyes and looked down at the handsome Imperial Knight. 

 

“You seem dejected Aidan!” She said it lightly, though she hoped if anything was really bothering the older man he would talk to her. 

 

She lept the several meters down the hill to land at its base near him and grinned. Walking the few paces to be near to him but not too close to be that cringey young girl she had been. 

 

“What is on your mind?” 

 

____________


 

Corán, in his red tunic, apprentice sabre tied onto it with a clip, long braid that stretched from ear to shoulder, strode towards the distant tree like Jedi. Reaching the being whose roots were testing at the nutrients of the Old temple grounds he spoke.

 

“Master Tree, you seem troubled as if anything could shake you to your deepest roots.”  

 

His clear blue eyes stared at where he thought the beings face was.

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Frond stood there, just another tree amongst the wood, albeit it slightly off from the remaining trees; a mine sentinel looming over its fallen kin. The chirps of wildlife and the rustle of the wind all that disturbed the silence. In a word: tranquility. Out of sight and sound from the temple and the hubbub taking place there, the Jedi apprentice stood his mind rolling along the waves of the force as it echoes from every living thing around him, the plants, the earth, the sky, the air. He did not know how long he stood there, nor, if he was honest, did he care. The Neti simply allowed his mind to be bathed in the light of the force in an effort to wash away the taint of the darkness that was crusted to the edges of his consciousness.

 

Even so, the darkness held at bay, it remained, gently gnawing at any recess it could find in Frond’s defense. It was as gentle waves slowly turning cliffs to beaches, each passing a molecular victory in the timeless struggle. Yet still, he resisted; his mind fully focused on his task at hand: redemption, balance.

 

At some point, it could have been minutes or hours, Frond’s mental warring was again pierced by a solitary voice. It was someone different this time however. Without eyes to see or ears to hear the interruption rippled across the ebbing tides of the force carrying the voice of Corán. Frond recognized him, if only as much from their brief encounter as to what Corán had said. The words he had spoken, the prophecy, had sent Frond into his spiral of dealing with the dark side that he, even now, was struggling against.

 

Feeling on the waves of the force, Frond reached out for Corán’s mind. Perhaps it was possible. If, as he believed, each of them were but an empty vessel for the force to pour into as it saw fit, then it was possible; the force was using this young Jedi. In that use, it spoke through to Frond, igniting the darkness that had been tucked away within the saber composed of his own flesh. This youngling bore closer examination. If the force used him in such a way at a young age, Frond was curious. Perhaps he could learn more of this fate the one before him spoke of. ‘A broken party...Deceit in its roots...’ Deep down Frond knew he was that deceit. He was no Jedi. He only played at it to further the goal he believed the force had given to him. There nestled in his chest was proof of that deceit. Proof he had sought to distance himself from. Maybe Aiden’s refusal to take the saber and distance Frond from the darkness was all part of the force’s divine will. The dark crystal was the deceit in his roots; he knew it.

 

There, carried across the waves of the force, Frond spoke silently, seeking Corán’s mind. 

“A tree, a root, bound

From the mouths of babes comes truth

Shaken in the storm

Torn from the hands of the earth

Words of truth, a gale.”

 

Within his hopeless outlook, a glimmer of hope shone, maybe there was more truth to be found.

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Perfection. That was the only word he could use to describe this place; actually the only one he wanted to keep on his mind. He tried to push away words like ‘illusion’ and ‘fake’, despite the facts of the matter. The cool breeze coming from behind him, winding its way around the trees and out onto the open water. It was just cool enough to take the edge off of the twin suns radiance. Plenty of wildlife could be heard from behind him- and even a fish jumped in the lake. 

 

Tobias sat there on a larger boulder, legs stretched out before him his knees bent to support his elbows as he crossed his fingers in front of him. There was not a single care in this world for him. Part of his mind screamed at him that this was an illusion and his body was, in a sense, very much broken. He tried to keep that part of himself pushed away. If he was to heal back up he couldn’t dwell on what the current state of his body was, he needed to focus on progress. He could fool his mind into thinking  that the incident on Gala was awhile ago- and now he could sit and reflect on his actions in reflection. It was another mindgame, something he was accustomed to: double thinking. 

 

There was something peaceful here, but he was unsure of what exactly it was. Many theories swam in his mind;

 

1: Was it because this is the life he wanted to live, with Adenna? 

2: Was there something about green trees and mountain air that settled him?

3: Was this an Unconscious memory of when he was born? Before his first real memories of Tatooine and Nal Hutta, of course.

4: Did Adenna want this and he had picked up on it through their connection?

5: Did Frond or Trushaun have an influence on why he enjoyed this nature?

6: Did his Aing-Tii friend and master have a specific influence above all others?

6: Could be overthink this further, or just accept the simple answer? That he enjoyed solitude and peace.

7: Was the Force telling him that it sometimes is just a beautiful little place and it’s just that simple?

 

He sighed, figuring he better settle on the last question and answer.

 

While he still was surrounded by the forest, of oak and pine, his mind started to replay what he had done in the library on Gala. Much of it was a blur, and his mind reflexively ached at the memory. 

 

He turned his palms upwards to look at them; there were so many dark cracks that were part of what he had just done. His veins were still dark too, and while he didn’t have a mirror- he bet his eyes and veins in his head were darkened as well. 

 

The palms had so many more dark lines in them- with a flash the memory played out in his mind. While the crystals had belonged to a member of the exorcist caste, the crystals still wanted to serve in that fashion. He gave into the song it sung and did things that didn’t make sense at first, but now they did. As soon as Frond had moved behind Tobias he gripped the reins of the beasts with the Force and then crushed the lightsaber he had been holding with his bare hands. Right where the crystals were. He wouldn’t have had that much strength- that small crushing force- the crystals would have cut his hand long before they turned to powder. Something about that immediately became clear though- once the crystals had touched his bare hand they dissolved into where the hilt had already sliced into his hands. The crystal invaded his body and called out to the Force. His body was a vessel for power- and back out into the physical world. The hoarde was struck down, but the reaction within his body was almost too much.

 

Thoughts drifting off, he felt a vibration through the Force. His body was being moved. Nothing nefarious- just to the medical wing. They must have landed on Ossus. A little session in the bacta tanks would be good. Might fix him up to the point he could reset his body into a Jedi Healing Trance. Until then, there was a way he could connect with his comrades. It would be a little dangerous, but it might be best to wait until he was in bacta and had pain medication introduced into his system. 

 

~~~

 

Company was the last thing Fond needed right now, but it was what was demanded of Tobias now. It was his role as a Jedi Master.

 

The thought struck a nerve within himself. Did he really just call himself a Jedi?! Did he now really believe himself to be a Jedi?! A mild anxiety attack ran through his own mind. He couldn’t be a Jedi- his ideals and upbringing was just… not cohesively able to fit into the Jedi way…

 

That was a conundrum to conquer another time, now he had to address this. It seemed as though he was a tad too late, someone had beaten him to Frond. Maybe this was what he was meant to witness- a Jedi youngling and the living tree. Letting his doppleganger apparition walk forward and lean against a nearby tree- close, but not close enough to be too intrusive on the conversation starting off. ‘For now, I am a tree. A silent observer of the wind.’ Tobias thought, and a side reflection of that was that Frond had this poetic influence on him. At the previous thought, he chuckled, folded his arms and waited patiently.

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The young apprentice watched the tree with some degree of wonder and a mix of interest, it was not every day that you got to hear the trees themselves speak, and this one held a world of trouble in his shaking leaves. There was something lurking there behind his voice that Corán could not yet identify. Hope? Fear? They both bled together in the force, interlinked by passion and past failures. 

 

The Being talked in riddles which had never been Corán's strong suit, but like everything at the old temple of Ossus, the challenge had to be overcome. 

 

His voice was hesitant but found its strength as he spoke, his fingers playing with the Hem of his ten tunic. 

 

"Then speak and show, a Jedi's life is service. Let me help."

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Kel turned toward the new arrival when he heard her stuttered question. whether it was a verbal tick or simply nervousness, he was unsure. The bird like woman that stood before him appeared to be giving him an inquisitive look so he believed it to be the former. "I guess you could say that. This is the first time I have used that power. So I got excited..." there was a brief moment of awkward silence as kel thought about his current position. Here he was half naked, shooting lightning from his finger tips, and laughing his butt off in a public space; and this woman was staring at him in utter confusion rightfully so. Without saying a word Kel walked over to the neatly folded bundle he had laid out earlier and began to redress. Once that was done, he introduced himself. "My name is Kel Koon. Former sage of Baran Do and Padawan to master Sandy. I'm sorry if I have caused any disturbance Miss..." @Trushaun

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With a sharp crack and a bright flash of blinding yellow light the tree’s limb collapsed in on itself and the entire mass shook, raining down detached leaves in a circular area about the tree-being. With twisting grain and shifting bark a seven and a half foot humanoid form clothed in a cloak of blackened leaves that matched the frock of leaves atop the thing’s head emerged. Blinking his eyes, Frond smiled warmly down at Corán as he offered a slight finger wave in Tobias general direction, indicating he saw his comrade off a little ways.

 

Gesturing to the same fallen log he had been standing sentinel over, Frond awkwardly settled his rear on it once again, his elongated large form setting decidedly uncomfortably looking on it. Branches and corners jutting out at awkward angles.

 

“Gentle winds whisper

Fierce and calm you are as wind
The wind is the force”


He spoke, trying to be as non-cryptic as possible, and failing. The young Jedi interested Frond. Perhaps the boy would share what he knew and how the force spoke through him and what it meant.

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Corán was puzzled by the words about the force for a moment before sitting himself down next to the giant tree being. He listened for a moment again to the flow of the force, letting it touch and fill his lungs in a breath and expelling its refreshing fragrance the next moment. He let that cool touch fill his mind and let him look deep within himself for the knowledge that he was looking for. The being had changed, into a strangely familiar form. 

 

“Yes the force moves freely here, there is generations of knowledge and experience just laying at our feet. If you reach out you can catch little eddies of those past Jedi. Walking almost like they were here now. It is so exciting.” 

 

He turned his crystal blue gaze back upon Frond. 

 

“And what bothers you? You spoke to the Son of Darkfyre with some spirit of frustration,i believe, or at least I felt it echoing from him. It still does.” He kicked at the grass at his feet, thinking. He finally spoke again.  “ We are both apprentices, though you have lived a life longer than mine or at least that is what Master Akelbeth tells me.” 

 

His eyes narrowed. There was something here to be picked at. A memory stirred in Corán's head. Was it a vision from long ago? One with the pool and the the dark grin of ice like teeth?

 

“Show me what bothers you. I’m not afraid of frustration.”

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Frond raised a curiously cautious eyebrow. The boy knew more than he let on, that was for sure. He offered a lipless smile. 


“Lifetimes come and go

Five thousand and two hundred

with ninety four years

Apprentice to the Jedi way

The Force is the truth

Beckoning and calling us

Flowing upon its ways

We walk the path it divines

Leaves upon the sea

We are servants of the force

It dictates our way”

 

Did he really ask Frond to show him what was bothering him? Had the young boy been watching from afar when he had tried to present Aiden with his saber. Did he dare trust this youngling with such a burden? He had shown an affinity to the force, prophecy and all.

 

Sighing deeply, the knothole in Frond’s chest split open and slowly, gingerly, the Neti threaded his fingers inside, withdrawing the lengthy piece of wood. As soon as his fingers clasped the weapon, Frond felt the pant of dark hunger as it surged upon his mind only to be buffeted back by the resistance of light that flooded from all of the pores of the world around him.Narrowing his eyes, his lipless mouth set with grim determination, Frond held up the haft of wood so both he and Corán could see it. The dark hunger for destruction radiated gently through the air searching for a foothold.

 

“A cloud in the night

The moon is shadowed over

But the light prevails”

He whispered.

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What is on your mind?"

 

There was a long pause of hesitation as Aidan struggled to get the words out. He was thinking heavily about what had just happened, but frankly he wasn't quite sure what exactly happened.

"I don't know. Frond, I guess. I thought he needed a bit of help, and I tried to be there for him like you were there for me. I guess I didn't really do a great job, though."

Aidan sighed, trying to clear his thoughts. He really thought he had made a bit of headway reaching out, trying to understand what Frond's problem was, but the vision he shared was fairly clear: he didn't understand. Aidan knew Frond was struggling with the pull of the Dark side, he'd felt it just talking with Frond, but nothing he'd said had helped. And Frond had even tried to give him his saber...a very strange spontaneous act with almost no explanation. Maybe eventually Aidan would understand, but right now he simply didn't, and it gnawed at him.

"He tried to give me his lightsaber. I've barely known him...it...what, a few hours? I think he's just going through some rough stuff. I'm kind of worried about him, to be honest, but he seemed pretty set on the idea that I wasn't helping. At least I think that's what he meant...he's a little hard to understand. Maybe you can talk to him later? He seemed to recognize you and Master Vos when we were back on Gala, so I'm guessing you guys have history?"

 

Aidan's eyes wandered, scanning the temple, looking for something, anything to get his mind off this, but it would likely just take time. 

"I don't know. I just wanted to help, is all. I think I'm going to get a bite to eat if you want to join me. The rations you guys have on the ship don't quite sit right with my stomach, so I'm hoping they have something a bit better here."

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If he was around for five thousand years then he would have enjoyed the state of Ossus as it had been back then. Back before the Sith ruined everything. Back when the library was filled with students. Before Kun, before all of that. He hitched up an eyebrow. 

 

“You mean your philosophy is always changing? Is that why you haven’t been able to stop the sith after these thousands of years?” 

 

He recoiled momentarily at the way the being reached into its own chest cavity, then withdrew some kind of log. Perhaps a sabre hilt? It was…

 

Corán winced from the buffeting darkside that roiled off the device like smoke from a forest fire. He coughed and worked for a moment on his breathing exercises that he had been taught before he could look back at the device. It felt like some of those holocrons he was not allowed to touch in the archives. It was hungry. He could feel it wanting to latch onto something. Onto anything. But he had to be brave, this being needed his help. And Jedi were supposed to help. The boy swallowed his doubts and spoke. 

 

“Why would you keep that if it's so dark? Why not throw it away or destroy it? Its eating the air with its desire!” Corán shook his blonde head. "We aren't supposed to be around stuff like that, its super dangerous....." 

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“Of course I would lo-” Sandy closed her eyes for a moment. “I would really enjoy that Aidan, lets get some food that doesn’t taste like metal permaseal and recyc water..” She turned their walk towards the distant other side of the archeology site as she pondered what he had said. 

 

His lightsaber? The one they had made together years before? She took a moment before responding. Her voice pensive, and her eyes watching his face as they walked together. 

 

“I have not seen Frond for many years, before Nal Hutta he was my apprentice before Tobias took him and he was lost they say during that time.” She bit onto her lower lip for a moment. “He is a very strange person, believed that Ang-Ti stuff I think. That was before the Failings of the old Council, most of which stemmed from stuff like that. I will check up on him after we are done, but I have to say his riddles don’t help the conversation at all!” It was a piteous attempt to bring up Aidan’s spirit, so she grimaced at herself and guided them to the small outdoors café that was staffed by a mixture of droids and apprentices on duty stations. 

 

That was certainly something that Sandy did not miss, the duty stations apprentices had to have before they were chosen by masters. They were shown to a table and Sandy picked back up the conversation after thanking the apprentice for the cups of water they were given. 

 

“I am sure you did fine Aidan, some people do not want help in their problems…” She tucked her hair behind her ears and took a sip of water before continuing. “...They just want other people to lay the burden onto. Like if you spread suffering around you don’t feel so alone in suffering? I guess that's the turn of phrase.” She didn’t want to assume that was what Frond had done, but if it was bothering Aidan than much, there had to be more. But she left it there. It was better not to prize into her friend’s hurt, if he wanted to talk He knew she would listen. 

 

She cocked her head towards one of the apprentices that was trying to clean tables with the force. “Did you ever have to do that kind of stuff when you were on Gala or Tython? I know I did on Gala and I hated it.” The fact was she didn't know much about his apprenticeships, other than when she had seen him at a far distance during her own apprenticeship. 

 

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The Neti listened to the boys queries. He wondered if Corán had heard of the Mind Walkers. He hoped so. Perhaps the young Jedi had studied the ways of other Force traditions. He knew of the Sith after all.

 

Before he could try to explain his outlook on life and the recent shift he had felt in the force calling him to action, Corán had settled on the item at hand; Frond’s saber.

 

Carefully turning the wooden hilt in his hand, Frond stares at it. He could feel its call. It desires nothing more than to be freed, to feed. Without looking away he spoke,

 

“Seeds fall through the air

Grown and forged Beyond Shadows

Dark waters nurtured

Light and Dark balances between

Maintain to restore”

 

As he spoke, Frond gestured, pointing to himself when he said light and shaking the saber gently when he said dark as if to indicate he was the light he spoke of and the saber his opposite. Between them, there was balance. He just needed to be strong enough to keep it. Then, when he was balanced, could he seek to right the imbalance of the force in the galaxy.


“Storms produce lightning

The danger forms instantly

Tranquility yields”

 

He continued, justifying the danger Corán spoke of whilst also dismissing it with a wave of his hand. He knew the danger. The force had deemed it necessary that he carry it. Frond has tried to be rid of it until he felt prepared, but that was not to be. He continued to stare at the weapon, as if his eyes could bore some sort of insight from the darkened crystallized seed within or maybe from the cracked Ilum crystal it had been paired with. He felt the darkness, tasted its desires; but the light continued to buffer it back, for now. A part of Frond desired to activate the blade again, to fall into combat destroying the enemies of . . . Well, anyone that stood in his way was his enemy weren’t they? But he didn’t, he knew that no one here was his enemy, yet. Frond believed that the whims of the force could change as easily as the wind. He was but it’s servant.
 

Chancing a glance at Corán, Frond hoped that he understood the danger was part of his calling. Without the darkness, he could not attain true balance. He just had to be strong enough to keep it.

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