Ask If Things Were Different

Discussion in 'Outer Rim Territories' started by Arda Breaux, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Arda Breaux

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    Atollon

    Arda stepped off her shuttle and took a moment to adjust to the heat and the bright light of the sun and once more she could feel any resemblance of moisture be sucked from her being. She quickly remembered what was uncomfortable about this world, but she wasn't here to decide if she were going to make it her home, she was indeed back to see the Bendu. The last she had seen the Force god was when she was just a Jedi Knight, uncertain about her place, so many things had changed, and they still have been changing, throwing the young Jedi Commander into a realm she was uncertain how to navigate. It seemed as though the Force had a destiny laid out for her and there wasn't anyone she could turn to for guidance.

    However, there was the Bendu.

    She reached into her pouched and pulled out the stone that he had created the last time she was here, rubbing it gently with her thumb and forefinger before replacing it as she set out into the wilderness to find him. Her presence though would be calmer than it was the last visit she had with him, she had grown even more since then and others have recognized her power also. Though she had confidence in her abilities, there was something different about carrying the weight of the Order's existence and the survival of the Rebellion. The last time she had visited, he was disguised as the stones and trees in a valley, it would be the first where she would start as she climbed carefully down the stone slope, until she could safely jump to the ground.

    The let the Force flow through her, her senses stretching outward as she tried to find any indication of the Bendu or something that would be off in the Force to alert her of his presence. Or he could have already known she was present, that wouldn't surprise the Jedi woman either.



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  2. The Bendu

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    Ah.

    Arda Breaux returned.

    The Bendu recognized her Force signature, of course, but the stone that had been imparted last time was also within it's awareness. Naturally the stone was nothing more than a stone with potential at this stage but it was still something that the Bendu had an acute awareness of.

    Some would say that the Bendu had a sense of theatricality if they saw the way it rose from the ground before Arda, keeping her safe from any settling earth but still managing to look imposing and regal in a way only a phenomenally old Force being could. It's eyes peered down at Arda.

    Once again, Arda Breaux was weighed.

    She was measured.

    And she was found... incomplete.

    "Arda Breaux."

    It's voice rumbled forth, echoing slightly in the immediate area.

    "When last we met you were lost - now I sense that you have found a direction, a path, and it is the path itself that troubles you."

    There was a pause as the Bendu gathered it's thoughts and drank deeply from the emotions that were swirling around inside the mind of the Jedi Master.

    "Speak freely, Master Breaux."


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  3. Arda Breaux

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    And as though on cue when Arda entered the valley, the Bendu appeared; his massive form rose from the ground along with the stones, buses and trees that had found its home on the ancient being. He towered over Arda as she looked into his white eyes, feeling him peer right through her and though it may have bothered if it were others, for Arda, she wanted him to, there were things she could not put into words as she set forth on a path that was so unfamiliar, she almost felt lost. He greeted her, remembering her presence as they had met not too long ago, but before he continued, he welcomed for the woman to speak first, which may have been good because she was uncertain how much longer she could keep her thoughts bottled up.

    "It is not the path itself that troubles me, Bendu, it is what I cannot see on this path." she pressed her lips together in thought, thinking of the best way to explain it, "You see, there were others, stronger and wiser than me, Masters of the Order and now they are gone. They walked a path similar to mine and they have fallen from it, will that happen to me too?" she asked with no doubt fear behind her words, she had no one else to look to for guidance, all the masters were either dead, fallen, or whereabouts unknown.

    "Everyone looks to me now, they want me to lead a rebellion, to lead the Jedi too and its hard to see a clear path, I can't see it and it unsettles me." Arda explained, "If I say or do the wrong thing, I put thousands at risk for harm. No Jedi has done this in almost five hundred years and no others have gotten this far." she glanced away, her voice trailing before she let out a long sigh, "This is all just crazy." Arda shook her head, trying to find some reasoning in it.



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  4. The Bendu

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    How could it be that one so small, with such a short lifespan, found herself with oh so very many problems all at once? As a creature of such a vast life, the Bendu found itself rather out of touch with the sense of scale that more mortal beings endured. To the Bendu, her problems seemed so small and so rushed but to Arda they were pressing matters and they were of paramount importance. Once again, however, they were hinging on her self-doubt.

    The Bendu had truly believed that Arda had begun to make some progress with her self doubt and yet here she was without much of a difference overall. Certainly there was some steel in her spine regarding the issues she faced now but that was all. Still she was beset by issues, by a weight that threatened to keep her stooped.

    Threatened to keep her from achieving her full potential.

    "Hmm knowledge of the future is something that your kind lacks." the Bendu acknowledged with a small nod of it's massive head, "And because you cannot see your way you flounder. You compare yourself to others and when you do you shrink yourself down to be lesser than they."

    The Bendu peered down at Arda.

    "You fear it."

    It wasn't a question because the question was already answered.

    Arda was paralyzed by fear and indecision just as previous leaders had been. She found herself so worried that she would make the wrong decision that she found it beyond difficult to stomach making any decision at all. Each decision weighed heavily on her when, by rights, it should not.

    "When you first approached me you were uncertain of your path as a Jedi and now you live in fear and uncertainty. Do you wish me to instruct you on how to live with these fears? These uncertainties and the cruelty of absolute certainties?"


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  5. Arda Breaux

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    He validated her thoughts, she couldn't argue it, she indeed feared and she felt embarrassed for even fearing something she knew she had no control over. However, the reality she saw was the destiny of the Masters that came before her, this path, she didn't know what laid ahead, the unknown of something that hasn't been seen in over five hundred years. He spoke again, recalling their first meeting, picking up a pattern in her behavior; Arda sighed and bowed her head, it was often she was faced with uncertainty but she was never sure how to answer those with those uncertainties and it seemed like a cycle that fed into itself.

    "I don't want to fail the Order, I don't want to fail all the rebels who look to me for guidance." she paused as he asked her if she wanted him to instruct her, "Can you?" she raised her head, tilting it slightly, "Would you be able to show me how to defeat my fears?" she asked, "Can you see if I end up like the other masters or...or can you show me how I can stop me from becoming lost like them?"

    She felt like a lost child to a parent, confused and willing to do what he asked of her in order to get the reward; this reward will be knowledge, to know the answers that she had yet to find. "I can't fail them, Bendu."



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  6. The Bendu

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    The Bendu loomed over Arda and it mused upon her issues, her problems to be solved. She came here because it had become apparent that the Bendu offered her clear and unbiased opinions and advise. It did not care to attempt to influence her and her opinion meant nothing to it if she were to form a negative opinion of it then the Bendu would not be overly worried.

    She would probably still come to visit.

    Despite it's age, the Bendu could not help but think that there was something it rather enjoyed about people coming to visit. There was something to be gained, enjoyed, in instruction it would seem.

    "Failure is the regarded as a great teacher. I believe this to be incorrect, at least partially." It declared in it's rumbling tone, "When you fail it hurts, it causes you to falter and fall. It is the rising above the failure that aids you. As it is with fear - it is the act of defeating fear that aids you."

    The Bendu began to reach deeply into the Force.

    And faded away.

    In place of the majestic Force creature, a swirling vortex of darkness sprang into existance. From the darkness a long figure stepped out, slowly approaching Arda with an easy smile fixed in place even as she flicked her head slightly to cause her bright red hair to move to one side, drape over one of her shoulders.

    "Arda."

    The voice was perfect, exactly as it had been the last time Arda would have heard the woman speak. Time had not touched her and she actually looked happier than she had before.

    "You look tired, dear."

    Jedi Master Leah Reach stood before Arda with her arms open to receive her... replacement.


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  7. Arda Breaux

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    She listened to the Force god as he spoke, glancing down at her own feet like an uncertain child, her own thoughts working to put together what he was saying. She looked back up as he spoke about failure and fears and she opened her mouth to speak, but stopped, letting him finish, but something odd was happening as she could feel the Force move around her. Feeling suddenly unsteady, Arda threw out her arms to keep herself balanced as the massive rock moose faded into a black void and Arda called out for him, suddenly concerned as to what has happened. "Bendu?!" she cried out, and went to call out again, but stopped herself as a figure emerged.

    Her eyes studied the figured as it walked foward, her red hair was distinct, her smile reminding her of a time in which she knew so little about being a Jedi. She spoke her name, and Arda couldn't stop her eyes from watering up, "Master Reach..." she whispered as she commented how tired she looked. The young Master nodded in agreement, she was tired, she couldn't deny the fact that at times that weariness showed through. The red-headed Jedi Master opened her arms for Arda to come to her and Arda stepped forward, but stopped, she couldn't believe she was here, of all places, she was here, before her, but where had the Bendu gone?

    "Wh-what are you doing here? Where is the Bendu?" she asked the former Jedi Master, but shook her head, turning the focus on the woman before her, "We need you back with the Alliance, there are so many new students seeking the Jedi and I don't know if I can keep up." she told her, her eyes leaving the woman as she still tried to figure out where the Bendu had gone.



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  8. The Gatekeeper

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    Leah smiled.

    It was a warm and loving expression - it was the smile she had used with her learners because it was the smile she used as a mother. She was a mother first, a teacher second and a Jedi third. This was reflected in her manner as she approached Arda. There was a kindness and warmth to her that was not to be understated and not to be underestimated either. Leah shook her head as she approached Arda.

    "Arda... oh Arda."

    The older woman reached out to Arda, to cup her cheek with one of her hands. Her thumb would brush against Arda's skin lightly, her hand soft and warm to the touch.

    "I can't come back." she admitted with a touch of regret, "What was asked of me there was... too much. I couldn't do it. I had to leave because I couldn't be the Grandmaster that the Jedi needed. You understand that weight don't you?"


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  9. Arda Breaux

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    She spoke her name and cupped her cheek, the tears trickled down Arda's face as she held the former Jedi Master's palm to her face. She told her she couldn't come back, that it was too much for her to carry and Arda glanced down, nodding as she listened. Leah would have made a phenomenal Grandmaster, her knowledge, her love, and experience surpassed her own. However, there was always something more to Master Reach, her love was unmatched, motherly, something that Arda herself greatly missed ever since her family was displaced. Her own mother had been as such, unconditional love and nonjudgmental, something Arda didn't think she could ever truly know until she became a mother one day.

    "You wouldn't have to carry it all, Master." she told her, "There are many of us who can help." Arda whispered, taking Leah's hands and holding them in her own and then looked into Leah's eyes. "It is heavy, but...." Arda inhaled and paused, studying the Jedi Master's face, "Sometimes, I just want to lay it down and walk away, it would be so easy, but I feel the weight of letting down everyone greater than the one I carry now." slowly, Arda let out a breath, "How does that not weigh you down? All the Masters...just up and gone...." she could feel her undermining fear of falling onto the same path of the Masters before her, to just drop the burden of ushering a new Order of Jedi Knights, the easy path.

    Arda took a small step backwards as things seemed to start to fall into place, the chill of realization, the whispers followed.



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  10. The Gatekeeper

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    If things were different then it may very well be Leah Reach standing where Arda was, asking advice from the Bendu. But things were not different. Things were, unfortunately, only as they were. They could only ever be as they were, no matter how people may wish otherwise.

    Reality is as absolute as it is, ultimately, disappointing compared to the favorite fantasy.

    Arda's fantasy began to fade away when the fingers of the hand that had been so lovingly resting against her cheek twisted, becoming sharp claws that dug into the flesh of her cheek. Leah's maternal side vanished from her face without her features actually physically changing at all.

    Perhaps that was more terrifying?

    To see someone turn monstrous in a split second with no visible sign of such a change? Living creatures like to believe that there is a pattern to things, that life imitates the nature of the life being lived. But no, one second Leah Reach was the mother-figure she had always been and the next she was a harpy given human form.

    "Or maybe it's you, Arda." she 'suggested', all the while not even pretending she was actually asking a question but rather stating it as a pressure in the Force began to assault Arda's mind with Force Fear (roughly level 2), "I managed to bring together Masters and Knights and Padawans and Turncoats when my heart wasn't even in it. You throw yourself into the role and you bleed members don't you? Knights go missing... Padawans stop learning... Masters disappoint and disappear."

    Leah's touch would become almost red-hot against Arda's skin, stuck there almost like glue at this point.

    "You failed to see one of your raising stars growing dark with attachment. You still fail to even comprehend that you have lost one of the bastions of the Light to a wicked Darkness hundreds of years in the making! The problem is not the Order or the struggle, Arda; the problem is you."


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  11. Arda Breaux

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    It was a look that Arda had never seen Master Reach hold, but it was one that she had seen many times over in the faces of men and women she had faced in battle and those who wished her ill- will on the streets of Corellia. It wasn't one she couldn't necessarily describe, but when she saw it, instinct told her to prepare herself, though to see it on Master Reach was unsettle as the Jedi winced when she spoke, accusing Arda for the failure of the Order. Her eyes narrowed in disbelief, and she shook her head, trying to remove the woman's hand from her cheek, but something excruciating tore through her mind as though someone were sliding barbed spikes into her thoughts. She could feel the fear rise in her chest, her heart pounded, her muscles tensed as she buckled against the assault.

    The woman that claimed to be Master Reach was no more as she boasted about her ability to unite an Order with no effort whatsoever, while her, Arda let it fall like sand grains between her fingers. She felt her cheek burn and the Jedi screamed, but she could still hear Leah speak, pointing to the oversights she has failed to address as one of the Orders only Masters. Perhaps it was true, all that Leah spoke of, her own doubts perhaps carried more truths than she had realized as she fought against the pain and fear that threatened to overtake her body. She thought all about the faces she saw from day to day, the new Jedi that would come seeking help and to learn, had she really let them down? They were not conquering the galaxy like the Mandalorians, they lose more than win, and the galaxy still distrusted the Jedi.

    In all this time, she had trusted within the Force, and so many had trusted her to support her in leading the rebellion and that was never a feeling of doubt, but for certain, she would not be blamed for the Order's fall, she sought answers to not fail like the other Masters before her. Like Aurora to abandon her student, or Vulthari to leave an entire cause behind, then Val and Leah to up and leave without further explanation, to leave an Order in its infancy to defend for themselves. Maybe she knew her answer far before she ever had the question.

    "No!" Arda yelled through the whirlwind of pain and darkness, her fingers dug deeply into the dirt, she didn't even remember falling to her knees, "NO!" she yelled even louder, "[color=]You're wrong! You left and I picked up the pieces, every one of you, Aurora, Vulthari, Val, YOU, could not do what I am doing now.[/color]" the Jedi gasped, the light warmed in her center, feeling some relief and a strength return. "You all ran, but I seek answers, I ask questions, I will lead this Order through the darkness that you coward from!"



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  12. The Gatekeeper

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    The creature that may have once appeared as Leah Reach was not quite done yet but it was clear that Arda's assertive attitude had... weakened it. It was still clear and strong and present but it was almost as if some of the colours had faded somehow, as though it had become less of itself.

    Less certain in it's own existence perhaps.

    It's fingers fell away from Arda as she fell closer to the ground but the creature wearing the friendly face moved, dropping down to it's knees in front of Arda. There was a dark gleam of desperation within it's eyes now as it reached out and grasped Arda's hair to pull her head up, to force the Jedi to look deeply into it's eyes.

    The eyes of Leah Reach that were so uncharacteristically dark, vile, that there was no resemblance despite being identical physically. The shade glared heatedly into Arda's eyes but it's voice was still soft. Still like sickeningly sweet honey but with the bitter aftertaste of a foul corruption and rot.

    "You?"

    A dark, twisted, little chuckle.

    "You aren't a Jedi Grandmaster - you're a scared little street rat from Corellia and you always will be. Running to and fro because you're afraid that if you sit still for too long, you'll finally have to accept it. The truth."

    Leah's smile could not charitably be called such.

    "You belong there Arda... you belong in the dark little alleyways and the warrens. Until, of course, the Empire finds you. Like all your little friends who disappeared one day or those who couldn't take the uncertainty anymore and threw themselves into the loving embrace of the Empire to put food in their bellies. You know those people... changed... twisted. They hurt others for the Empire without a second thought because they were hungry rats and they did what they did because they were fed. You? You're just the hungry little rat that scurried far from the den... that's why you're here. That's why you keep looking for a purpose, Arda, because you know what can fill that void, you just have to twist and bend yourself for it! You just have to accept that you shouldn't be a Jedi, you should be a Sith. You would be like all those little friends of yours... vicious... little... pets."


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  13. Arda Breaux

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    The creature grabbed her hair and pulled her head back to force her to look into its eyes, it bothered Arda how much the creature looked like Leah, but at the same time, she knew it was not her; she reached up grabbing the hands that held her hair, gasping and shutting her eyes in the sharp pain it brought as the creature began to speak again, telling her she wasn't who she believed to be and instead the rat that everyone had once seen her as and though she was no longer that girl, it was still a part of who she was regardless if she had grown and blossomed from that experience. The creature flashed its teeth and Arda gasped, trying not to listen too deeply to what it was saying, but it had found something inside her that was still vulnerable and it hurt to hear it out loud.

    The Empire had taken many of those she loved away, starting when she was a child, watching as the Empire laid claim to their home world, killing those who resisted and punished everyone, the end result was guilt for surviving and migrating to the slums of Corellia to essentially hide from the eyes of the Empire. However, she had a way of drawing them to her, intentionally and sometimes not, but one by one, those she loved and cared for disappeared, sent to labour camps, murdered or in turn became servants to the dark side, and herself, well, she was picked up by someone she saw as a savior and instead of returning to the streets or staying behind on Korriban as was so tempted to do, she returned with Master Raythe.

    In all, she persevered...

    "You're wrong!" she yelled, feeling the tears of the memories on her cheeks as she tried to pull away from the creature, but when it had said it was better for her to be a sith, she then looked straight into its eyes, her own brow narrowed in opposition. It was certainly the path she was not destined to follow, she knew the hate of the Empire, the false promises, and death it brought with it, "Those dark allies and warrens, I do not fear them, I am the sword that cuts through, the fire of hope that will guide those who will follow the path of the light. The Empire has found me many times and each time they cannot keep me, not cages, or chains, or binds, I will not become what they will," the Force rushed through the Master, "I am stronger than they believe and the people who I fight for will be free." The woman pressed her hands against the chest of the creature, the Light burned brightly from her palms as she let it fill her and eat away at the darkness before her. She was not going to allow something to draw on the vulnerable ignorance of her younger being.



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  14. The Bendu

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    The spectre of Leah Reach screamed in abject horror as the Light surged forwards from Arda and began to eat away at it's chest. It had been given form by the Darkness and the fear from within Arda herself and her use of the Light to harm it, to defy it, was what the test had been about.

    Without much preamble, the creature that had been the spitting image of Leah Reach disappeared and in her place there was nothing. The creature had never been real save for in the mind of the Jedi. Instead, The Bendu looked down at Arda Breaux from it's towering height with the beginnings of a small smile.

    It had seen what it wanted to see.

    "Arda Breaux."

    It's voice was as booming and thunderous as always but this time held something close to a note of warmth that could otherwise easily be missed. It had been a long time since the Bendu had felt any kind of pride in another creature and it enjoyed the experience for a moment.

    "You have defeated your own fears today." it told her in as soft a voice as it was capable of, "How do you feel? Having seen the face of your fears?"


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  15. Arda Breaux

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    The creature dissolved as the light broke through it, its yells were met by Arda's own cries as she summoned the full extent of her ability and power and as it disappeared, she could feel something inside her also free her, like lines of durasteel that have finally freed her from its grasp. Arda feel through the smoke that billowed from where the woman had once stood, catching herself with her palms as she gripped handfuls of dirt tightly, working to calm her breath and to slow the beat of her heart as she felt something tower over her. Gasping for a full breath, she looked up at the white eyes of the Bendu, sweat trickled down her face as he spoke her name, but it was slightly different this time and the Jedi sat back to cross her legs and allow herself to just catch a moment.

    He informed she defeated her own fears and the Jedi 's brow furrowed for the briefest moment before connecting together everything that just transpired, she waved to where the creature had been, "My fears were terrible..." she told him, but she guessed that was what fears were overall, "But...I feel..." she paused and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath and letting out slowly, the strings that she felt once tightly pulling on her chest were no longer there, she was free to chose her path without catching her footing on the fears that tied her back, "Free...I can feel so much more, Bendu." she reached inside herself, letting the fire of the light burn brightly within her, "I understand so much more." she nodded and opened her eyes, looking back into the white orbs of the Force god.

    "Though, I know now, the other masters...I cannot wait for them to return, to complete what they have started," she shook her head, "I know what must be done and the others will follow, to help carry as we would of if they stayed..." Arda glanced away, her thoughts turning and modeling into a mental list of what needed to be done once she left this world.



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  16. The Bendu

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    It seemed that Arda was ready to progress.

    She was not beyond her fears because no one ever really was. To be beyond fear was to beyond any true sense of life. Fear and joy were opposite sides of the coin to each other but both were required. For joy to be truly joyous, it had to come at the expense of fear, for example. Arda would be a terrible Jedi if she lived without fear but in defeating her fear? In showing herself to be beyond it's control and hold?

    She proved that she could live with her fears and rise above them.

    "You know now that your fears exist and they hold you back - but they are not insurmountable." the Bendu encouraged her, "There will come a time, soon, when you are able to acknowledge your fear and accept it, robbing it of it's power over you, instantly. It is not this day but this day you have made great strides."

    The Bendu reached out into the Force and the gem it had created for Arda began to glow in the eyes of those who could view the Force at all. It was not a powerful object yet - right now all it did was emit a sense of comfort and contentment that Arda might take solace in.

    "Leave now a more complete version of yourself, Arda Breaux... and return when you are ready to put it to the test."


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  17. Arda Breaux

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    The Bendu spoke, and if she weren't mistaken, there was praise and encouragement in her ability to grow stronger, she nodded and a small smile curled in the corner of her lips. She indeed felt accomplished, a rare feeling, but a welcomed one as she rose to her feet; there was a tug at her waist and the stone that he had created on their previous meeting floated before him. Her eyebrows slowly raised in curiosity as the stone glowed and then changed in a way that it felt soothing. The stone returned to her palm as she ran her fingers over its smooth surface, physically unchanged to the eye, but in the Force, there was something special about it now.

    The Bendu spoke again, dismissing her for now, expecting her to return in the future for another test. She opened her mouth, the questions starting to form, but she knew he would not answer them yet, so instead with a nod, she agreed.

    "Thank you, I will return." she bowed and returned the stone to the pouch on her belt; then with that, she turned in order to return to her duties as the leader of the Rebellion and the Jedi Order with more confidence than she had when she first arrived on Atollon.



    /END THREAD