Ask Tython Shrouded in mystery

Fiach Dubh

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“The Martyrium of Frozen Tears. The scriptures say there's a confessional made of solid kyberite.”
“…What?”
“Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about regrets. Seemed fitting. Narrowed it down to somewhere in the Deep Core—never found the damn place. Ah well.”
― Korin Aphra and Chelli Aphra


Fiach knew a little about the planet of Tython. The fact that it was located in the galaxy’s Deep Core was a matter of public record. Some Jedi scholars had made a case for Tython as the location of the Jedi Order’s first temple alongside other candidate worlds, such as Ahch-To, Coruscant, Jedha, and Ossus.

Which was why Fiach was heading there right now. As the ship travelled through hyperspace, with possibly the most unlikely of companions. Not that there was anything wrong with Izel Thral – or Fiach for that matter, it was just that they were largely incompatible. Yet they shared a love for Jedi Lore – hence their trip to Tython. Her Master had been here before and a chance remark had intrigued her sufficiently to want to visit the site of the old Jedi Academy for herself. Someone had insisted she not go alone and Izel’s name was mentioned. So here they were.

Fiach mused that the ‘chance’ aspect of Izel’s name was entirely intentional. She was known as a cold-fish by most in the Order and some time around Padawan Thral might be just what she needed to appreciate life from a quite separate viewpoint. And the more Fiach thought about it (and she did indeed think about it), the more she was sure her hypothesis was correct – and even suspected her Master was behind the whole thing.

Not that she minded, who could complain about visiting Tython.

“We’re about to exit hyperspace,” Fiach said, retaking control of the ship as she sat with Izel in the somewhat cramped cockpit, given her companions size.


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Izel Thral

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Izel had been more than a little surprised when Fiach approached her back in the Temple on Ajan Kloss and asked her to accompany her on a mission. Aside from knowing of her existence and having been in the same room as her a few times the Padawan couldn't recall ever even having a conversation with her before. Not that she minded in the slightest. In fact Fiach had barely been able to finish making her offer before the overeager Vratix stumbled over herself to agree. Izel had read of Tython extensively in her studies, and concluded visiting the planet was an imperative step on her path to becoming a proper Jedi.

The journey hadn't been the most comfortable for either of them, crammed in the undersized cockpit of Fiach's ship. But it immediately became worth it when the vessel dropped out of hyperspace to display the beauty of the world before them. Izel leaned forward slightly at the sight of it, antennae twitching excitedly. "Magnificent..." She said to herself before pulling a datajournal out from her pack and picking up a stylus to begin writing in it. "So many places to visit! I'm not sure where we should start..." She addressed her fellow Padawan as she wrote. "We should proceed with caution though. Tython has some unpleasant wildlife..." She looked to Fiach expectantly. Her companion had the controls after all, this was her mission. Even so, Izel was certain she'd find value in this trip no matter where they explored. Even now she could feel the Force radiating from the planet. It was an incredible feeling.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach and Izel clearly had the same level of interest in the impending visit. In their own inimitable ways, they radiated that fascination in very different ways.

Fiach could never, ever, be described as excitable. Or even excited. She was always calm and measured. For her, the raising of a single eyebrow indicated a significant change in thought pattern. For Fiach didn’t do emotions. Yes, somewhere in her brain, neurons fired off signals to tell her body to generate hormones that would in turn trigger an emotional response. But it seems with Fiach that they never reached their intended target. She was known in the Academy as a bit of a cold-fish, not that she minded. But it was one of the reasons her Master encouraged her to socialise and to experience life outside of the hallowed walls of the Jedi Order.

The other thing that Fiach did not do was touching. She was delighted to find out that a typical Jedi greeting was a bow. This suited her very much. But she knew that, from time to time, people wanted to shake hands or even hug! So, she steeled herself for those moments and was hopeful they would be few and far between. Until this trip of course.

The issue with intimacy was overshadowed by another of Fiach’s challenges. Being in charge. This was, for the very first time, an occasion where she was expected to take the lead. She merely hoped her Jedi training would allow for all eventualities and she would not be a failure as a leader – even on such a routine visit.

But she’d learned from her Master that leading was not the same as telling, and so – taking a leaf out of his book – she turned to her travelling companion.

“Tell me, where would you like to start our visit to Tython?”

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Izel Thral

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Fiach might have ended up regretting asking Izel where to start, for upon hearing the question the Vratix immediately brightened and began babbling excitedly in answer. "Oh! Well, I'm glad you asked..." She turned to fish through her bag until producing an old tome she had borrowed from Ajan Kloss' library for the occasion of this mission. "As far as archeologists have found there are nine ruins resembling ancient Jedi temples..." She went on at length for each of the identified ruins, giving an in depth explanation as to their discovery and the known details about each of them. Although records were incomplete each temple seemed to carry out a specific purpose to the ancient Jedi. Each temple was titled "of Balance", "of Science", "of Healing" and so on. As the impromptu lecture went on it became abundantly clear Izel didn't share Fiach's reserved nature in the slightest. The two of them seemed as different as night and day.

"Personally I'm most interested in the temple of Qigong Kesh, the Temple of the Force, located in the Silent Desert. They say the structure lies in an extensive network of caverns beneath the sands, protected from their sound muting effects. The ancient Jedi would go there to hone their focus and connection to the Force." Finally she looked up from the book in her hands, turning her attention back to her fellow Padawan. It was only then she realized she had been ranting for quite a while.

"Oh, uh... Did you have any ideas in particular?" She asked awkwardly, trying to be more polite. She sometimes forgot how she could completely shut out the people around her when engrossed in something that caught her interest. It had gotten her into great trouble on some missions in the past. Perhaps she might be able to find some inner serenity meditating among one of the ancient ruins below...

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach was socially a Padawan of few words. But get her started on something factual, or a debate on Jedi philosophy and you could not shut her up. So she was not at all fazed by her companion’s response. In fact, she relished hearing many of her own thoughts being spoken by another. It was a kind of validation of her own ideas and understanding.

Fiach recognised the book flourished by Izel. She had read it herself a month or so ago.

“I read that book with interest. Many have considered its contents to be little more than legends. I understand the evidence of the structures is irrefutable but to allocate them to the purposes outlined in the book…well, there is both debate and possibly more nay-sayers than those who support the theory. If nothing else, we will have the opportunity to add to the body of evidence one way or another. I for one would love to prove or disprove the Temple found there is the oldest in the galaxy. Although I am unsure I have the credentials to make such a claim.”

“Regardless, the Silent Desert seems to be as good a starting place as any.” Given her steel-trap of a memory, she punched in the coordinates without referencing the nav-computer. “We should of course be vigilant in any underground network of caverns, but the opportunity to see if it might hone my connection to the Force is way too good to pass up.”

“I surmise from your thoughts that you believe in the multiple Temple theory.”

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Izel Thral

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Izel was pleasantly surprised by Fiach's response. Her attempts to discuss Jedi lore with her peers in the past had borne little fruit. It was refreshing to find someone actually informed and willing to talk about the subject.

"I agree much of the contents are conjecture," She responded. "But then with the history of the Jedi being so muddled we have little more than conjecture to go off of." She tapped the cover of the book she was carrying. "We also must remember this particular account is contemporary with the reign of the Galactic Empire, so efforts may have been made to discredit it." As Fiach asked about her own theories on the ancient Jedi of Tython Izel turned to look out the viewport and clicked her mandibles thoughtfully. "Well obviously Ahch-To is the undisputed origin point of the Order," She began. "But it's not so unlikely that the early Jedi were more expansionist, especially before the schism that created the Sith. We know as fact that there's at least one confirmed Jedi temple on Tython. I can't see why there wouldn't be more..."

Izel continued to share her thoughts and theories with Fiach as they journeyed to the planet's surface. And she was quite happy to listen to Fiach's own theories as well. She came to regret not having known of her fellow Padawan's interest in history sooner, for she certainly would have liked to have her as a study partner.

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Fiach Dubh

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“Clearly much has been written about Tython,” Fiach replied as the ship’s auto-pilot engaged to take them down to the planet’s surface. “And of course I am aware of the writings of some Jedi scholars who suggest the first Temple was located here. That said, the case for Ach-To is more compelling, given there appears to be universal agreement that the Jedi originated from there. In fact, I’d place Jedha ahead of Tython in the likelihood stakes, primarily due to the kyber crystals.”

“And talking of kyber crystals, I should very much like to seek out the underground Martyrium of Frozen Tears, which apparently has a Force-sensitive confessional made of solid kyberite. The ice cap was supposed to be dotted with ancient statues of robed figures near the entrance – which is likely another Jedi link.”

“The key to understanding the place that Tython plays in the history of the Jedi, is to comprehend what came before the Jedi – as I see it. The legendary Jed’aii may be entirely fictional or perhaps existed but their link to the Jedi may be no more than a similarity in nomenclature. So, maybe we can throw some contemporary light on the subject from first hand investigation.”

“And I should very much like to hear your views on the subject as we progress. Combining our knowledge can only strengthen or weaken established hypothesis, surely?”

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Izel Thral

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Izel sighed in response to the mention of Jedha. "Unfortunately we may never know the extent of Jedha's importance to the Order, given the damage done to the moon by the Empire." She perked up at the mention of the Martyrium.

"Oh, that's definitely another location to put on the list," She replied cheerily. "Records on the Martyrium are much more concrete though. It's the nature of the nine ruins that have thus far escaped proper detail." She clicked thoughtfully again and began flipping through her book. "The legends of the Jed'aii are something of a mystery aren't they? I doubt that they are entirely fictional. Even if all accounts of them are vastly incorrect or misinterpreted they must have existed in some capacity surely. Either that or an entirely different civilization constructed the ruins..." She groaned and rubbed her head. "That would be terribly frustrating. The last thing we need is more nebulous factors thrown into the mix. The truth is we may never have a perfectly clear history of the Order."

Finally she looked back to Fiach as the Padawan spoke of doing the research themselves and coming to their own conclusions. "Certainly, I'd be happy to work with you to finally illuminate these things," She replied. "It's going to have to be done sooner or later no? Who knows, perhaps we'll end up in the Order's histories ourselves as the ones who discovered the truth." She doubted they would get that far, but it was a nice thing to think about.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach continued to nod as the planet grew ever larger through the viewport, until it not only filled the screen but colours became defined as continents and then terrain.

“I'd, like to throw into the mix a visit to the ruins of the Jedi Academy too. I appreciate we could spend a lifetime of study here, so need to be judicious about how we occupy our time. But it would be a shame to depart without heading there, given we may never have the opportunity to come to Tython again.”

“My studies to date,” she continued, in response to Izel’s thoughts, “have included time spent on historiography. How historians have approached historical events is of great interest to me. My research has shown that it is commonly recognised by historians that, in themselves, individual historical facts are not particularly meaningful. These facts only become useful when assembled with other historical evidence. And reviewing recorded history is fraught with danger. Bias is rife. Conjecture and opinion recorded as facts is another challenge – as is the fact that history is written by the victors. Often the body of evidence is further from the truth than a single report.”

“But I agree, there is sufficient information about the Jed’aii to at least consider them as worthy of greater scrutiny.”

“And talking of scrutiny, we’re about to land.”

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Izel Thral

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As the ship entered Tython's atmosphere and they dropped through the clouds the two Padawans would be met with the image of an immense golden wasteland. The Silent Desert. It was said that some force, be it mystical or naturally occurring, absorbed all sound in the confines of the desert, but at least for the time being Izel and Fiach could still hear each other speak.

"Oh absolutely," Izel responded to Fiach's thoughts. "I don't think any historian is completely free of bias, even a droid's programming can suffer from the preconceptions of their creator. But mistakes and rushed assumptions are always made. What really pains me are that some groups intentionally warp or hide the truth for their own gain..." It was a problem Izel would never have ran into on her homeworld. The Vratix were a unified people that never made efforts to deceive one another. This had led other species to view her kind as naïve, but Izel personally only saw the lies inherent in other civilizations' societies as counterproductive. "It's all so needlessly complicated..." She mused aloud as she turned her attention back to the viewport.

As they approached their destination the ruins of Qigong Kesh came into view. There wasn't much to see, as the majority of the ruin was underground. Still, Izel leaned forward once more with great interest, antennae twitching again. She not only analyzed every detail of the vista with her eyes, but reached out with the Force to try to get a greater sense of the place. Like the rest of Tython this place was strong in the Force. Just how strong would help her and Fiach determine the truth or falsehood of the theories surrounding the supposed "Temple of the Force".

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Fiach Dubh

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The documents they’d both read were detailed. And if there was any doubt as to the validity of them in Fiach’s mind, it was dispelled as they came in to land.

It was too soon to tell of this mysterious place truly soaked up sound, through some unknown quality in the constantly drifting sands. But already she could see that the winds were relentless there. She had hoped to see one of the documented sand sculptures, but remembered that some are visible for only seconds at a time. As to the claims they were sentient, well…they’d have to find one first to consider that a truth or otherwise.

Ahead were curved rock spir s rising from the sand. This should, according the accounts she’d seen, mark the location of Qigong Kesh. Fiach sensed they were close but remembered that just as the desert steals sound, so its dry, scorching atmosphere also muddles distance. The only way to correctly judge how close they were, was to walk to them.

“I read that the silence can become a great weight,” Fiach said, as they readied to leave the ship. “We can use sign language of course, but that limits our interaction of course. The temple – which I’m sure we’ll find – is below ground. I’m sure that beneath the desert, we will be able to speak and hear once more.”

Fiach was as excited as Fiach could get. There were no outward signs of being animated but she knew that, if the legends were to be believed, Qigong Kesh was a place of contemplation and immersion in the Force.

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Izel Thral

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Unlike Fiach, Izel's excitement was much more visible. The Vratix was practically glowing as the ship touched down, her body tense and ready to move like a child unable to keep still. "Right," She nodded to her fellow Padawan. "Of course we should test the sands at first to see if the alleged effects a true. It could just be that the sandstorms make it very difficult to hear."

Izel would step off of the ship and onto the warm sands, her feet sinking into the ground slightly with her weight. She quickly brought up an arm to protect her eyes from the course wind. She didn't feel too different. Obviously it was much hotter here than in the ship, and she could feel the current of the Force flowing across the desert like a powerful river. But that was typical of Tython. Hopefully things would change once they got closer to the ruin. There was something that caught her notice though, and that was the wind itself. It made no noise. In fact it felt everything had become muted the moment she stepped off the ship.

Turning back towards Fiach she spoke loudly and clearly, testing to see if the effects of the Silent Desert were true. "Well?" She asked her fellow Padawan, making it clear to Fiach that her mandibles were moving, so that she would know Izel was speaking. "Can you hear me?" Izel couldn't hear her own words despite her volume. So unless Fiach said otherwise she'd have to assume the rumors were true. It was a fascinating prospect, and she was interested to know if it was a result of some trick of the Force or simply a naturally occurring phenomenon. Either way she was eager to learn whatever she could about this place.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach raised her hood before she stepped out of the ship. She also put in place some goggles. Having come from a desert planet — Klatooine — she was used to the damage that wind and sand combined could do to duracrete structures, let alone unprotected eyes.

She nodded to Izel. There was a lot of sense in what she said — it was hard to hear in a sandstorm, but the wind was certainly audible!

Once the door of the ship lowered, instead of the monotonous whine of a sandstorm, with the only variance being a drop or lift of the pitch there was…nothing. No sound whatsoever. It was slightly disconcerting — only softened by the fact it had been predicted.

Fiach turned to Izel and saw her mandibles move but heard no sound. It was only a matter of seconds into the experience and it was already oppressive — perhaps because it was so unnatural.

Fiach had no idea what her fellow Padawan said and so cupped her ear with a hand and shook her head — hoping to convey the fact she could not hear anything.

Shrugging, she turned her attention back to the desert and began to walk in the direction they believed the underground structure to be located.

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Izel Thral

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Izel watched and nodded her head in reply to Fiach's gesture, indicating to her fellow Padawan that she understood her meaning. Following the human's lead she pulled up her hood to help protect herself from the wind. She didn't like wearing the covering as it restricted her antennae and made it more difficult to sense the environment around her, but in this instance she could make an exception. She didn't expect anything to be lurking out here ready to attack them anyway.

The young Vratix followed close behind her human companion, looking around frequently to scan the surrounding landscape. Unfortunately there wasn't much to see. The wind obscured her view at a distance, and what she could see was nothing but rolling sand dunes. She started to make a remark but then stopped when she realized once again that nothing she said was audible. It was a very strange sensation to suddenly be deaf to the world. She only hoped that the records on Qigong Kesh were true and that they would be able to hear again once below the sands.

The two of them wouldn't have to walk much longer before the immense shape of the curved rock spires started coming into view through the storm. There were four monoliths, as tall as buildings, all arrayed in a sort of square. Izel wondered if they were naturally occurring formations or created by some powerful Jedi of ancient times. Well, they wouldn't know anything until they started exploring the temple itself. Reaching out the Vratix tapped Fiach on the shoulder to get her attention. Once the human turned to face her she would begin signaling to her to try and convey her meaning. She pointed to her own eyes and then made a sweeping motion towards each of the monoliths, then used both hands to outline the shape of a doorway. She paused before beginning to search for herself to see if Fiach understood what she was trying to say. They needed to find the entrance.

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Fiach Dubh

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Of course, there was a part of Fiach’s brain that was ready to accept that this was a wild Bantha chase. There was no clear evidence of a temple here, underground or otherwise, and so they could easily come up empty-handed. Yes, the silence part of the stories was true, but even fairy-tales had some truth in them. And others – like stories of the Jedi when she was growing up – turned out to be mostly true. But even these had been embellished in the telling and re-telling. Such was the nature of stories.

Regardless, Fiach was also patient and resolute to the point of stubborn at times and would never give up prematurely. And so, some way into their walk – it was difficult to judge distance with no reference points – she finally spotted the rock spires ahead.

Initially they may have been a mirage – glimpsed when the wind slowed (but never stopped) – but their repetition and the fact they were looming ever larger suggested to Fiach they were real. Of course, she wanted to share these thoughts with Izel, but sadly could not.

Eventually they were close enough that even the strongest gusts of wind carrying the maximum amount of sand could not hide them. There were four – and she perceived that they were arranged too symmetrically to be random spires – although nature did often surprise.

She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to face Izel.

Fortunately, the message being conveyed was simple. If there was an underground element of the structure, there had to be an entrance. Logic said a door-way and so Fiach nodded and drew the outline of a doorway herself and then mimed opening a door via a handle and walking through. Then she pointed to herself and to the spire on the left. Her meaning, she hoped, was transparent.

I’ll take that one.

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Izel nodded in reply to Fiach's gesture, understanding the simple meaning of her movements. As the human went to the spire on the left the Vratix moved towards the one on the right. Reaching the massive stone monolith she immediately pressed her fingers against it. Running her hands along the stone she felt for any indentations or imperfections in the stone, anything that could indicate a hidden passageway. She spent several minutes moving around the spire's base, feeling meticulously for any signs of an entrance.

She found nothing. Nothing that alerted her physical senses that was. Next she reached out with the Force, connecting to the spire and trying to feel any peculiarities about it. There was certainly a sort of residue about it, a sign that perhaps other Force users had visited this place in the past. Promising, but not proof. She spent a few more minutes trying to draw any kind of hint on what to do from the Force energy surrounding the spire, but her efforts seemed in vain. With a sigh the Padawan severed her connection and started to move across the sands towards the next spire. Perhaps she would find something more promising there, or perhaps Fiach would beat her to it. If the entrance to the temple had been concealed behind some convoluted Jedi puzzle, she only hoped the two of them would be able to solve it. She would have hated to come all this way for nothing.

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Fiach felt cocooned within the deep, encompassing silence that stood between them. With the addition of the low visibility due to the sandstorm, the Padawan might well have been alone.

Fiach sighed and unusually, she heard nothing but felt a subtle vibration in her chest and jaw. Maybe the desert simply wishes not to hear their voices? Aware she was losing her focus on the task in hand, she redoubled her efforts to find an entrance, or something…anything.

In a sense, the prospect that, beneath the desert, they will be able to speak and to hear once more was a spur to her efforts. In one of the journals she read, at this point Je’daii guards would emerge from a cavern to greet them. Except they would be long gone, presuming they existed – and Fiach was inclined to believe they did.

She was so close to the fabled, majestic Temple of Qigong Kesh where – of the reports were true – arcane, mysterious, and enlightening training in Force Skills occurred. Once more she was aware she was not entirely in the here and now as she recognised a small pattern in the spire that said she’d completed more than one full circuit.

Resolutely, she headed to the next spire. Maybe this would be the one? Maybe they had to visit all four for the secret entrance to open up. Who new? Hopefully, they would…and soon.



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Izel was frustrated to find the same results waiting for her at the next spire. No secret door, no hidden switch that activated a mechanism. However were they supposed to get in? She did notice something different about this spire. The faded markings around the base were different then those on the last. Perhaps that was the key? Izel pressed her fingers against the carving, feeling over the glyphs with great care. Reaching into her pool of power again she let the Force flow from her into the stone.

This time the spire reacted to her efforts, the glyphs glowing a dull blue. The Vratix jumped at her success, letting out a triumphant chitter that was immediately silenced by the desert. She lifted her hand from the stone, and the markings remained unchanged. Good, that meant they wouldn't need four Jedi to open the door. The Padawan turned around, looking out across the other three spires. So all they had to do was use process of elimination to find the correct combination to get in. Hopefully there wouldn't be any traps waiting for a wrong input.

Izel spotted Fiach walking between the spires and quickly scurried over to her, eager to share her discovery. She waved her fellow Padawan down but then paused. How was she to communicate her findings? Taking a moment to think the Vratix pointed back to the spire she had just come from and then outlined the shape of the markings in the air. Then she pointed to the first spire she had visited and outlined a different shape. She paused again, unsure if she was making any sense to her companion. She then held up one finger, then two, then three and finally four, and then outlined the shape of a door again. She looked at Fiach and waited for a response, hoping she had successfully conveyed her meaning.

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Fiach was having no more good fortune at the second spire she examined. Not that she believed in luck. A lot of what could be considered as such was the Force at work, she’d discovered. The rest was just the galaxy playing probabilities.

She was aware that Izel was heading towards here and Fiach surmised she was coming to share the news that there was no obvious way in.

But Izel’s actions were not those of futility or disappointment. But then, Fiach was not entirely sure what she meant.

The blonde Padawan narrowed her eyes and thought. Clearly Fiach had found something…but what. The shape of a door seemed obvious — a hunch reinforced by their purpose. But the symbols? And the number four?

Four?

As in four spires? Fiach pointed to each in turn with one hand and counted them by extending a finger on her other hand as she went. She nodded, to hopefully signify she understood.

Probably.

Each spire had a symbol. If all four were in some way activated, they would find a way in. She was not sure, but it was better than simply going back home. Lowering her hands, she faced the spire beside her and re-checked it, this time for some form of symbol, or marking in the stone. They were not looking for a door-way, but a key…of sorts.

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Reyn
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Izel nodded in reply to Fiach's question, or at least what seemed like a question. Yes, the four spires, that much her fellow Padawan had understood. The rest seemed harder to understand. It was quite the frustrating predicament, but they were making progress.

Fiach turned back to the spire they stood before and Izel stuck around to help her find the symbol on it this time. Once they had identified the mark, once again unique to this particular spire, Izel used the Force to try and activate it. No luck this time, she assumed that meant it was the wrong order.

The Vratix turned to Fiach and once again tried to convey the problem. She tapped the symbol, and then pointed to each of the other spires. She paused to try and think again then suddenly froze, mortified. How could she possibly have forgotten? Shaking her head she reached into her pack and pulled out the datajournal she had been writing in back on the ship, feeling absolutely humiliated and embarrassed for not thinking to just communicate with Fiach this way.

Picking up the stylus she opened a blank screen before writing down a message and turning it to show Fiach. Each of the spires has a different symbol. We can activate them by using the Force. I believe if we find the correct order to activate them in it will open the entrance. The spire I just came from is the first in the sequence. And yes, I am a fool. No need to mention it. She held out the stylus for Fiach, waiting for a reply.

@Corbeau
 
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