Shadie stood before the Council Members holding Knarf’s hand as he stood to her right. Brenum and Trylia stood next to him, holding each other’s hands as well. Fane stood to her left, and Lian stood next to him. Each member of the Council was facing them and eyeing them.
‘Master Eidhas, you seem to be showing an example, one with which we do not necessarily agree,’ said Master Herl’unik, motioning to Brenum and Trylia, and then to her and Knarf. ‘However, we cannot deny the bond you share in the Force with Knarf. To that effect, we are prepared to offer Knarf a position among the Jedi, if he chooses. What say you, Knarf?’
‘With all due respect, I am no Jedi. I may be a bit more proficient in the Force than I had originally thought, but I work in freelance and my place is with my Lady.’
‘You would be assigned as her Jedi partner, meaning wherever she would go, so would you.’
‘I appreciate the offer, but I consider myself more of a Mandalorian. I’m sorry. Thank you, though.’
Master Herl’unik nodded. ‘As you wish.’ He looked at Fane. ‘Speaking of you, Master Eidahs, your apprentice has proven quite virtuous in the Force. Fane, you were banished from Coruscant until you would be deemed ready to return to us as a redeemed Jedi. You arrived here, despite the ban, to help in our efforts and risked your life for your brethren. Master Eidhas, do you believe your pupil is ready to return among his fellow Jedi.’
‘I believe he is,’ replied Shadie. ‘He has not only proven his worth, but he has redeemed himself ten times over. Plus he saved a few lives. He is ready.’
‘Well, then, Fane, your exile is lifted. You may remain here on Coruscant and await further assignment. You are a Jedi Knight now and no longer need to be with your Master for every mission.’
‘Master Herl’unik, if I may,’ said Fane, standing tall, his hands clasped behind his back. ‘I must decline the offer.’
‘What?’ The whispered question came from Trylia.
‘All you ever wanted was to return to us and prove your worth to the light side,’ said another master.
‘Yes, I know, but I do not feel ready,’ said Fane. ‘My master is kind, but I am not ready.’ Shadie looked at him, puzzled.
‘Please, explain,’ said Master Herl’unik.
‘There were times when I cowered more than I should have. I had a strange connection with Darth Gourd, but I could not control it. It could have hit me at any random moment and rendered me incapable of effecting my Jedi duties.’
‘But now that he’s dead, and that it’s been confirmed by so many of the Masters, you won’t have that connection anymore,’ said Shadie.
‘Furthermore, I sat next to a Sith lord, who was a master before even his master knew he was, who succeeded in clouding the Force to jam our connection to it as though we were in the presence of ysalamiri. He was capable of creating great illusions. I could not detect them. I sensed that someone may die, I sensed something was aloof, but I could not pinpoint it. Otherwise, I might have been able to detect his deception when he was masquerading around as a Mandalorian.’ His voice quivered slightly. ‘I saved another, to compensate,’ he said conclusively. ‘In addition, while all this was happening, I dipped back into feelings of the dark side, the same feelings that I had felt when I had joined Darth Kromus and killed Master Juun Kloh. I feared I might dip back into that darkness.’
‘Fane,’ said Shadie, not understanding, ‘we all felt that heaviness. We all dipped into some sort of dark emotion, including me, including Knarf. Everyone did.’
‘But it felt so raw, Master,’ Fane insisted. ‘I’m sorry. I do not mean to offend, nor to disappoint. Disappointment is precisely what I am trying to avoid, here. I wish to go back to, and remain on, Mandalore with Shadie, I mean, Master Eidhas, until I feel ready to return.’
‘You are showing great discipline just in this decision,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘Very well. But know that the imposed exile is still lifted and you may return to assist us whenever you like. As for returning on a permanent basis, we will respect your decision to remain in self-exile, and we look forward to the day you join us anew.’
‘Thank you, Masters.’
Fane took a quick bow, and then stood still. Shadie heard him breathing in deeply, his breath shaking a bit. She looked at him, he was looking down at the floor.
‘Lian,’ said Master Herl’unik, ‘you have shown great resilience. You disobeyed a direct order to return to Coruscant when you sensed a deception, and you came to save Coruscant when that deception had been exposed. You were given the choice to decide for the entire armada of Jedi and Mandalorians who travelled with you, to turn back and save your brother’s life.’ He paused. Lian looked to the ground. ‘You chose Coruscant, your duty as a Jedi, and you chose to honour Master Salah’s dying words. However, above all that you have done in this war against the Followers of Kromus and the True Sith, you have shown a great talent in the Force, a talent of healing, much more advanced than even Master Juun Kloh’s abilities. The Masters could use a Jedi of your calibre by our side.’
‘Thank you, Master Herl’unik, it will be a pleasure to serve the Jedi Council in this quest to heal the Force.’
‘You misunderstand,’ Master Herl’unik smiled. ‘We do not ask you to serve us as a Jedi Knight. We offer you a position as a Jedi Master, and a seat on the Council.’
Lian gasped. ‘Please, excuse me! Master and Council Member in the same promotion?’
‘Perhaps were times not so desperate, we would only offer you the title of Master, but as it happens, we need you and we trust you.’ Lian’s lekku twitched. ‘We have discussed at great length to come to this decision and we all had the same arguments of why you should join us. We offer you thus a seat on the Council as Master Healer of the Force. What say you, Lian?’
‘Yes, I accept,’ said Lian, delighted. Shadie smiled at him. ‘It would be an honour. Thank you!’
‘Very well,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘Trylia, we will assign you to Tython, to help with the efforts there on rebuilding the ancient Temple.’ Trylia nodded. ‘Brenum, you will be appointed to Csilla. We need a strong alliance with the Chiss Ascendancy, especially after what happened; they do not wish to be associated with the Sith lords, so they are willing to negotiate some sort of agreement.’
Brenum looked at Trylia. He looked back at the Masters. ‘Masters,’ he said. ‘Trylia and I have always gone on missions together.’
‘Yes, but now your skills are needed elsewhere,’ Master Herl’unik replied pointedly.
‘I’m sorry, I cannot.’
‘Brenum? What are you doing?’ said Knarf.
‘No, I’m sorry. I must decline.’
‘Brenum, your duty to the Jedi Order is…’
‘Then I rescind my position as a Jedi.’
‘You’re going rogue?’ said Fane.
‘I’m going…freelance.’ He looked at Knarf. ‘I cannot leave Trylia’s side. Knarf will be there for his Lady and I want to be there for mine, by her side, protecting her, and providing for her.’ He bowed down on one knee. ‘It has been a privilege to be a part of such a respectable order, but my life has taken me elsewhere, and I cannot continue to serve the Order as I once did.’ He kept his head bowed.
‘Masters,’ said Trylia, ‘would you not be able to extend the same courtesy to us as you were willing to do for Eidhas and Knarf and grant us the title of partner Jedi.’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘We made the exception for Knarf because he is not a Jedi. Brenum has been a member of our order for many a long years and we depend on him.’
‘We can still go to Csilla, Trylia and I, and then to Tython.’
Master Herl’unik sighed. The Masters began to whisper among themselves.
‘We made allocations for one Jedi and now her friends follow suit. This cannot be allowed,’ argued one of the Masters.
‘I’m willing to leave the order as well,’ said Trylia, ‘if you will not allow me to be with Brenum.’
‘And I will leave the order too, if my friends cannot have the same life you offered me,’ said Shadie.
‘And same goes for me,’ said Fane.
‘I’m not part of this,’ said Lian. He looked at the others. ‘Sorry.’ Shadie nodded in reassurance and understanding.
‘We cannot let Eidhas go,’ said one of the Masters, ‘she is our liaison with Mandalore. If we allow Brenum to withdraw from the Order, then we still have his aid and he still serves the Order, simply with Trylia, as though they were partners. Why not grant them that?’
‘This is unacceptable. We should never have made any exceptions!’
‘We still get his aid, his assistance, it is simply in a different manner.’
‘Very well,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘We cannot lose any of you, and some missions may be more inclined for Brenum’s skills rather than Trylia’s. We need both of you in the Order; you are valuable Jedi to us. Given the circumstances, we will grant you the title of partner Jedi. All missions and assignments issued to one are for both, and you may travel together as you please.’
Trylia smiled. ‘Thank you, Masters!’
‘What is this galaxy coming to,’ said the incredulous Master. ‘What’s next, a Jedi wedding.’
Fane looked at Shadie and Knarf.
‘We haven’t discussed that,’ Knarf mumbled shyly.
‘Thank you,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘You may now go.’
They turned to Lian who nodded to them. ‘Well that was interesting, to say the least,’ he said. ‘You sure I can’t persuade you to stay and help me out, Fane?’ Fane shook his head. ‘All right. Then, I guess this is where I say thanks; despite everything, thank you. You’ve grown on me, Shadie. Consider me a friend.’
Shadie smiled at Lian. ‘I will. Good luck. May the Force ever serve you.’
‘May it serve and protect you,’ he replied.
The group of friends exited the Council Chamber, where Lian remained to discuss further with the Masters.
‘And now,’ said Knarf, ‘it’s time for a good Mandalorian send off.’
* * *
The Coruscant cantina they gathered at was crowded and many Mandalorians were already drunk. They found Talyc sitting at a table with three ladies flirting with him, two of which were sitting in his lap, one on each leg. He lifted his head and then lifted his glass.
‘Weyhey!’ he called out to his friends. ‘There he is, the Jedi who saved my life!’ Fane smiled.
Mandalore and his wife stood to greet the Jedi.
‘So why does everyone call her Mrs. Mandalore,’ asked Fane.
‘Because no one really knows her name,’ said Knarf.
‘No one?’ asked Fane. ‘But she was someone before becoming his wife.’
Knarf shrugged. The Mandalorians were chanting in Mando’a. Knarf joined in as they sat at the table next to Talyc.
‘Talyc, you barve, such a lady’s man,’ laughed Knarf.
‘What, I enjoy beauty,’ said Talyc, ‘and such is the beauty of the Jedi who arrive at my table.’
‘Hey, you keep your hands to yourself when it comes to my Lady,’ teased Knarf.
‘Or mine,’ said Brenum.
‘I think he was being friendly, Brenum,’ said Trylia.
‘I know, so was I.’ Brenum frowned. Trylia smiled and took his hand, giving him a soft kiss on the cheek.
‘Aw, young love, isn’t it beautiful?’ said Talyc. ‘Where’s that other Jedi, the blue Twi’lek, with the brother Gourd killed.’
‘He’s been offered a seat on the Council,’ said Shadie.
Talyc whistled. ‘Impressive.’
‘And Fane’s exile has been lifted,’ she continued.
Talyc’s head whirled around to look at Fane. ‘Excuse me, ladies.’ He stood and sat down next to Fane, putting an arm around his shoulders. ‘Fane, my man, congratulations!’ He paused and looked him dead straight, in his drunken manner. ‘You’ll be missed on Mandalore.’
‘Well then, Talyc, you’ll be happy to know that I’m not going anywhere. I declined the offer to remain on Coruscant. I told the Council I wasn’t ready. I’ll be returning to Mandalore with Shadie and Knarf, once Brenum and Trylia have left for Csilla.’
Talyc grinned widely. ‘Really? I mean, I’m sorry to hear you don’t feel ready.’
Fane smiled back. He looked at the drink that seemed to have appeared in front of him. He nodded.
‘Weyhey!’ laughed Talyc. ‘Isn’t this guy the best? He saves my life and then tells me he’s going to stick around on Mandalore to continue saving my hind.’
‘To friends saving our hinds,’ said Knarf. They lifted their glasses and cheered.
‘To friends having our backs,’ said Talyc.
‘To clan brothers and their noble sacrifices,’ said Knarf.
‘To one of the finest clan leaders I’ve even known,’ said Talyc.
Then together they shouted. ‘For Mandalore! For Kelbourn! Victory and Honour to Clan Kandera in his name!’
Fane cheered with everyone as the Mandalorians began singing again and brawling in drunken stupors. Fane felt content, he had made the right decision. He didn’t know what the future held, but he felt he had followed the path that he needed to. He looked at Shadie who raised her glass to him.
‘To our future victories!’ she said, smiling fondly.
Fane lifted his glass and downed it in one go. He slammed it onto the table.
‘To future victories,’ he repeated.
To be continued…
“Masters of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2019).
Disclaimer: The Characters in this Fan-Fiction are new and have original names. The story is an original written work. The story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Star Wars. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the SW Old Republic universe belong to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney. No characters or storylines from the films are used. No storylines or characters from the games or books are used. A handful of characters from the games may be referenced, but are not the main focus in this fanfic story. This fan-fiction story falls under FairUse.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.