What a great dinner… and the conversation— Ashla! Considering what happened yesterday, I really couldn’t be any happier right now!
I have to admit, though, my thoughts are kind of all over the place. I really thought I was getting somewhere – figuring things out for the better. Now… well, let’s just say in some ways I’m back to the drawing board. With any luck, this entry will do me some good, because I’m going to need a clear head— clearer, at least, before we reach Dathomir. (sigh) Let’s start with yesterday, and our time spent on Eriadu with Q’aleane’s mentor, Master Zatoq Vantai. When she first suggested that we go and meet with Master Vantai, Q’aleane implied that she wanted to discuss diplomatic strategy ahead of our mission to Dathomir, while also giving him an opportunity to speak with Vergere and Bastila. I figured while they were busy with that, Irsin and I might have time to start the search for the planet’s grey holocron. Maybe we wouldn’t have been able to actually obtain it in only a day, but… well…
As it turns out… that’s not exactly what my sister had planned.
I should have picked up on it earlier, when both Irsin and I somehow got roped into the conversation. Q’aleane was talking with Master Vantai about what we had been up to since the last time we saw him… all the way back when we had just first encountered Vergere and needed to keep her from the Council. … Heh, that feels like years ago, doesn’t it? … But instead of carrying the conversation as she usually does, Q’aleane kept deferring to me, having me explain what happened and what we did next. It didn’t make any sense at the time, but now… well, of course now I know why she wanted to meet with him in the first place, but I’ll get to that… Anyway, I ended up covering pretty much all of it – Nar Shaddaa, our new bond, The Promised Land, Alema – right up through our brief sojourn to Paquallis III. And it was during the discussion of the duel and our subsequent recovery that Master Vantai tipped his hand – and Q’aleane confirmed it later as he was leaving – he began to lecture me on the “true” way to compliment the Force with emotion.
(sigh) Honestly – and I know how much he means to Q’aleane, especially considering that she hugged him when he first came aboard – but honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed with Master Vantai. There’s certainly some truth in what he said to me— and to Irsin… Oh Ashla, I still can’t believe how he spoke to and around Irsin… and I’m trying to separate that truth from everything else he said. Nevertheless, his attitude seemed constantly tempered with… well, I guess I would call it arrogance if nothing else. I’m still not convinced by his answer for why he remains a Jedi even though he doesn’t agree with the philosophy of the Order. Even if he does have the ability to affect change in the galaxy, doesn’t it ring a little hollow if the entire time he’s a heretic within their midst? Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to simply join with like-minded people and do good works from that base? I don’t know… maybe I’m jealous because he’s risen to the rank of Master while being mentally disconnected from the Order, and… I don’t think I’ll ever make it that far, never mind becoming a Battlemaster. Regardless, that’s not the only thing that troubled me – how about the way he simply dismissed not only the lessons that Irsin had only recently taught me, but the entire belief system and culture that Irsin grew up in with the Sith… I mean, I don’t think the Sith are necessarily right either, but it’s the way he came off to me, and I know Irsin felt it too. I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of Master Tahl’s many reprimands… all this after I had been feeling so good about how Irsin had helped me get through Alema’s expulsion…
It’s like no matter what I do, I’m doing something wrong! I get so tired of it sometimes – it tests every limit of my patience as a Jedi… no, as a person! (sigh) The worst part of it is that I know Q’aleane only wanted to help me, but… after everything we’ve just been through, and our talk about being more open and honest with one another, I don’t know why she thought surprising me with this would be anything more than a step backwards for me…
And it isn’t just about the duel and my apparently incorrect habits for dealing with my emotions as a Jedi… but the way… he talked about… (sigh) my torture.
Ashla, I don’t even remember exactly what we were talking about, but he mentioned something about whether or not people and deeds can truly be considered “evil”… he said that he didn’t believe that anyone truly believed their actions to be evil, and this time I told him that he was wrong. I wanted to open up on him in that moment, and tell him every detail of what had happened to me, to put him down – he and his smug satisfaction at being both Jedi and heretic – just like he put me down when I felt I was finally getting somewhere…
…But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t relive it all again. I told him what I could about Trasa and Desvin, and what they did to me…
(sniffles, then a hard intake of breath) And do you know what he did then? I still can’t… he lectured me on established practices and theories on torture to make me understand how Trasa and Desvin may have felt themselves to be anything other than cruel, sadistic, evil people! Who does he think he is?! He doesn’t know anything about me, or what happened to me! She almost killed me for no reason! They knew I didn’t know anything about Karrde after the first day! (now outright crying) But did she stop?! No – she kept at it for another month! He said— he said that torturers often try to “break” a suspect before finally asking for information… I guess then for Master Vantai it’s perfectly normal behavior to make incisions on someone’s fingertips and then peel the skin away and apply a salt-solution to the exposed tissue?! ‘Cause that’s only the beginning of what that woman did to me!
(deep, wracking crying overtakes her)
(after several minutes, she’s able to stop herself)
I… I just began to shut down as he kept spouting off at me like he was some kind of expert… I opened my bond to Q’aleane and tried desperately for her to feel what was happening to me, and, thankfully, she did. She quickly turned the subject away from Ansion… away from pain, and fear, and seeing myself dying alone and far from home in that dank little room…
(deep, trembling breaths)
I honestly don’t remember much of the rest of the conversation – I know at one point Q’aleane excused herself to use the refresher, and through our bond I discovered her… examining, I guess… the anger she felt towards Trasa. My sister really does want to make Trasa pay for what she did to me… I should have done this months ago on Taris, but finally I expressed to her my sincere hope of never seeing Trasa again. I just want to get away from it, and move on. Every time I talk about it, or even really think about it too hard… I mean, Ashla, why did I even tell Irsin about it? I guess… I wanted him to know what had happened so that he could better understand me, and so that he could understand how happy I was that he didn’t run into Trasa. But even then, with Irsin there, it was very hard to get it all out. (sigh) Anyway, I told my sister that, and, in a perfect Q’aleane ‘moment,’ all she said was “Okay,” and the anger just washed away from her.
…I still have no idea how she does it – I mean, didn’t I just get done talking about how happy I am tonight? And now look at me… I am once again an absolute mess. But… (sniffle) I am happy about tonight, and you know what? I’m not going to give any more of my time to Master Vantai and his lectures. I appreciate the sentiment of what Q’aleane was trying to do, but I’m not sure I can really separate what truths were there from the experience itself.
No… I’d much rather think about the conversation I just had with my sister and Irsin over dinner.
Irsin was very quiet during the talk with Master Vantai – though, I can’t really blame him. Between not really knowing Master Vantai, and the way his upbringing was utterly dismissed as just wrong, why would Irsin say anything? I’ve only known Irsin for a few months, and he’s only just now starting to open up to me. Anyway, I was hoping we’d see him at dinner – if he could pry himself away from his slicing project – so that I could ask him what he thought of the whole thing. And, with Q’aleane there, maybe the two of them could get to know each other better! So when Irsin emerged from his room to join us, I was both happy and nervous… nervous mainly because of what he said to me about Q’aleane when we were last talking in his room. But I knew that if he just spent some time with her, he’d find that they have a lot in common. It started off a little rocky, to be sure. I found myself pretty defensive about what Master Vantai had said to me, but I tried not to take it out on my sister – though she shares his belief of the “Unifying Force,” she never talks down to me like that, and it’s not her fault. After a little bit of prodding, Irsin got into the conversation, and confirmed my suspicion that Master Vantai doesn’t know everything about the Sith, and that he was wrong about quite a bit… I mean, Q’aleane and I were also wrong about a lot of what we thought we knew about the Sith, but that’s besides the point!
Anyway, I was really engrossed in the conversation, and then Irsin mentioned something about Q’aleane being, “cold, detached, and not caring,” – I didn’t sense any malice behind it, it’s just that matter-of-fact way that Irsin is, but I still cringed a little. For her part, Q’aleane seemed not to care, and I didn’t pick up anything from our bond, so I didn’t dwell on it. I mean, she really must not have cared, because a little later, she told Irsin outright that she trusted him. That’s a huge deal, because my sister – like Irsin actually – doesn’t trust that many people. A handful of people maybe – me, our parents obviously, Master Vantai, and… well, I’m not exactly sure, but I think the Master Shaper too… though not Master Tahl, surprisingly. And definitely not Irsin… or at least, I figured as much! (happy laugh) But she does!
And Q’aleane wasn’t the only one to surprise me. Irsin… I… Q’aleane was asking him about the Sith, and the idea of always acting in self-interest, and he said that while he’s used to looking for the motives behind every action, “someone recently showed me that not everyone acts from that place,” and I tried really hard not to blush, though I think I failed. (trembling laugh) And that’s not even the best part! Ashla, not even close. Later in the conversation, Irsin said that right now there is only one person who he trusts implicitly, and… it’s me.
He trusts me.
Irsin. Trusts. Me.
(more trembling laughs) I just. I can’t believe it. I know something’s changed between us, but if trust is a hard thing for Q’aleane, it’s nigh impossible for Irsin.
And… I trust him too. Completely. A few months ago, Irsin was just a mysterious bounty hunter who turned out to be a Sith – my mortal enemy. And now? Now I think… yes, it just feels right. I trust him with my life.
(quietly now) …Ashla, what a feeling.
And it didn’t stop there. Irsin also told us that he doesn’t think he wants to return to the Sith – not when Grale’s gone, and perhaps not ever – though he doesn’t imagine himself joining the Jedi. I totally agree – I mean, I’m a Jedi, and look how hard it is for me! Can you imagine Irsin as a Jedi?! (happy laugh) And, despite what he told me about my sister before, he now thinks that Q’aleane is perhaps the only other person close to gaining his trust. I’m not sure when he had the change of heart – maybe these conversations do more than I know? It doesn’t really matter, what’s important is that the three of us keep getting closer. We’re all discovering new things about each other, and it’s only making us stronger as a group. And now that Irsin has created a Warden of the Sky identity, he doesn’t have to hide anymore – not from the Jedi, at least.
Again, I find myself envying that about him— that freedom to simply be, without any restrictions from without. As for those within – well, we both still have lots of work to do on those… but maybe, someday, I can be like him. Just be Q’ayla, either as a Jedi… or as nothing else at all.
Somehow… I think that’s a long ways off, though. For now, Dathomir awaits, and I’ve got to be at my best – physically and mentally. We’ve got a few days, and with nothing else on my calendar, there’s going to be a lot of lightsaber training. After all, with the Dathomiri’s respect for martial strength coupled with Q’aleane’s goal of taming a rancor, I have a feeling that this is going to be one hell of a mission!