Knights of the New Republic

Session 18 - Q'ayla Ren's Journal


(As the holocron activates, Q’ayla enters her room. Crossing to the bed, she slowly removes her Jedi robe. She pauses to examine the robe for a long moment before gently folding it in half. Turning to sit on the edge of her bed, she holds the robe against her closely, gently rocking with it as she begins to speak)

I’ve been a full Jedi Knight now for just over two months… but tonight has been the first time in a long while that I’ve actually felt like one. I just got back from the Praxeum where I officially commenced the Dathomiri clanmeet. We’ll be starting the actual diplomatic negotiations tomorrow morning at 08:00, but it is customary to open a gathering of this kind with traditional greetings and a ceremony. According to Barukka, once the clanmeet has officially begun, the participants accept certain customs and rules for both their behavior and the proceedings that make up the summit. Basically it means they’re not supposed to physically harm one another and things like that… though it doesn’t mean that they have to like each other, or let ancient grudges and disagreements go at the door. Regardless, learning from Barukka the proper greetings for each Clanmother as well as the formal ceremony itself was difficult but, ultimately, very rewarding. And not just because I was happy to see the Clanmothers we met with again— especially Jothelle, who I find I get along with very well… but also because I’m not usually the one to do this sort of thing. I mean, the last time I had to act as a diplomat was on Ansion, and I wasn’t always using my words when dealing with the Unity Council or the Fel Empire. Q’aleane is the Consular… or was, at least, and this is her arena. And yet, participating in tonight’s activities has reminded me of what I set out to do as a Jedi each day, and that even for someone like me, being a Jedi carries significant weight. Even though I had never spoken the ceremony’s ritual before, no one interrupted me, I couldn’t sense any animosity towards me as the “outsider”… in fact, it went so well that Barukka even told me as much after it was all over. Coming from her – especially Barukka – meant a lot to me. I guess all of this is to say that, for the first time in what feels like a year, I actually felt like a Jedi instead of just “acting” like one. I felt the pride at trying to heal and support a society in conflict, and the weight of responsibility that such a role carries. I was reminded of why we, as Jedi, are out here in the galaxy. And it felt good. It felt really, really good.

For a few moments tonight, there was a genuine feeling of… I don’t know… that I could actually pull it off. That I could keep on being a Jedi after this is all over. I could go back to Taris, report to the Council, get my next assignment, and…

…And I’m so full of it, aren’t I? ‘Yes you are, Q’ayla.’ No matter how much I want to deny what’s happened here these past two weeks, it won’t change the reality of the situation. I’ve killed a defenseless prisoner, I’ve lashed out at my sister and my lover— I have a lover… and, most damning of all, I’ve made a bargain with Bogan so that I might save the lives of those dearest to me. I haven’t manifested any new powers yet, and I don’t think my hidden potential has been unlocked. When that happens… I don’t know what will happen to me, but I need to face the truth. I… I won’t be able to go back to the Jedi when this is all over. I don’t even know who I will be when this is all over. In the end, my feelings tonight are a cruel reminder of what I’ve lost, and nothing more.

(Q’ayla stands again, sighing, and lays her Jedi robe over her chair in an almost reverent fashion. As she begins disrobing, she continues)

But come on, Q’ayla, let’s not ruin the mood so much. I can at least appreciate tonight for what it is, instead of bemoaning what will come later. I did well tonight, and, like I said, Barukka thought so too. She was so supportive of me that I think I can even forgive her for not telling me everything that happened to Q’aleane this morning. Speaking of Q’aleane, yes I began the clanmeet by myself because Q’aleane once again put her, well, sometimes reckless curiosity ahead of her personal safety. While I was dealing with something else entirely this morning… no, I’ll get to that later… anyways, while I was dealing with my own problems, Q’aleane journeyed off to the Singing Mountain village to further explore the strange energy she had detected connecting the various Dathomiri villages in the Force. She had made some headway in this pursuit by linking the energy to the Singing Mountain’s Book of Law, and had asked Barukka to have her most trusted allies bring their own law books with them to the clanmeet. Arriving earlier than the rest, these Clanmothers met with Q’aleane and Barukka to discuss the topic further. By the time Irsin and I arrived on the scene, whatever had happened had already ended, but it apparently involved almost the entire village. All I knew before I got there was that Q’aleane had lost consciousness. Again. I had no idea what had transpired until Irsin and I met with Barukka.

It almost doesn’t seem worth trying to explain it all here, because in all honesty I don’t even pretend to understand what actually happened, as is the case with much of this Force Theory that Q’aleane delights in. But I might as well try, because in the event that Q’aleane isn’t up to presiding over tomorrow’s deliberations, this Guardian is going need to transform into a gracious, patient, and learned Consular…

Okay, from what I understand – and I use that term lightly – Q’aleane and the Clanmothers were able to determine that the energy connecting the villages through their Books of Law is actually the spirit of Allya, founder of the Dathomiri culture. After her death, Allya was able to retain her consciousness through the Force, and has spread her spiritual influence to her people through the books. Because of the incredible pressure she is under to maintain her existence, Allya cannot focus herself in any one place, and instead draws on the connections she has formed for strength. Err… or something like that… Anyways, Q’aleane can apparently sense Allya’s presence by adapting her existing Force sight, and it was this initial exposure that gave her the idea of drawing Allya’s attention to the Witches’ current plight. Only by connecting and focusing the energies of the entire Singing Mountain clan though herself – a process that could very well have killed her! – Q’aleane was able to act as a vessel for Allya’s disembodied spirit. Barukka and the others then told Allya about what was happening on Dathomir – she apparently cannot comprehend time and space as we can due to her displaced existence – and Allya told them that, when the time comes, she would offer her assistance to us in our struggle against the Nightsisters. From what I can tell, while Allya can wield significant power, she can only do so while possessing a physical body in our realm. She briefly attempted this with Barukka, and Barukka attests to the power scale we’re dealing with here – in short, it’s massive. We don’t know if Allya is as powerful as the Nightsister shaman, but this is as close as we’ve come yet to balancing the odds at play. I don’t know exactly who would be acting as the vessel for Allya during the actual battles I’m sure will come, but I… gods, I’m just so conflicted! I know Q’aleane will want it to be her, I just know it, but can I really let her do something like that? Barukka did say that if Q’aleane tried anything like what she did this morning again she would probably die— as if it hasn’t had enough effect on her… Would having Allya possess her be any different? Less dangerous, or more so? There’s just not enough information or data present to guide my decision, and I know that’s just how Q’aleane likes it… but one of these days she’s going to get herself killed, and then I—

(In her rising frustration, Q’ayla flips the boot she was unbuckling off her foot, and it goes bouncing to the corner. Sighing deeply, she rests her hands on her thighs and then, after several moments, she begins on her second boot)

We will have to talk about it once Q’aleane gets better. That’s all I can say at the moment, and her resting and meditating is more important than talking with her about ‘what-ifs’ right now.

In any case, after Allya finished speaking with Barukka and the others, she returned to her “natural” state, and let Q’aleane back into her own body— at which point, Q’aleane lost consciousness for the next five hours or so. Irsin and I arrived on the scene shortly after the meeting ended, and while I’m sure it was nice for the Dathomiri to have experienced something as transcendent as seeing their founder “in the flesh,” I still cannot get the image of Q’aleane, limp and quiet on the ground, out of my head. It’s an image that’s becoming more and more common these days, and I should not be at the point where hearing about it, or seeing it happen, or coming upon her like that becomes commonplace. No one should have to go through that again and again… why doesn’t she understand that?! I mean, I’ve spoken with her about it many times at this point, but she just doesn’t listen! I’m willing to give her some slack on this particular incident because Barukka and the others were there to try and help her, but still— Q’aleane has been… well, callous with regards to her own well-being as well as my expressed position on all of this!

(Q’ayla catches herself about to toss her other boot as she unbuckles the last strap; holding still for a moment, she takes a deep breath and then proceeds to remove the boot very carefully, setting it aside before she finishes disrobing)

After carrying Q’aleane back to her room, Irsin piloted the ship to the Praxeum, and he, Yevra, and I went on to finish preparing the security systems for the clanmeet. Barukka and her entourage arrived shortly thereafter, followed by more and more Clanmothers as the afternoon went on. After we had finished, and Q’aleane still hadn’t woken up yet, I went back to the ship determined to change that. It took a while— longer than I would have liked, and seemingly longer each time this happens, but I finally was able to wake my sister up. She was… not right when she came to. She seemed to have suffered short-term memory loss, was barely coherent, and at first had simple motor problems. I later learned that the memory problems are likely the result of her acting as vessel for Allya, but all of it concerns me a great deal. My sister is passionate about Force lore, secrets, and traditions. Her curiosity in this is almost insatiable. And, while I have to admit that she continues to discover new things about the Force each time she enacts one of her “experiments,” in the end will it be worth the cost? If Q’aleane should die

If that were to happen to her, would it all have been worth it? She tried to liken her behavior to my passion for the art of the saber, but I have to disagree: my skills with a lightsaber do me no good if I’m dead. My interest in becoming a finely honed blade is so that I can protect people, both those I know and care about and those I don’t. But training to use a lightsaber requires patience and training. If I was as reckless with my saber as Q’aleane is with her Force “experiments,” I’d have killed myself a hundred times by now. I’m all for her wanting to pursue her passions, but it can’t be like this. She needs to understand that the recklessness involved is going to get her into increasing trouble as time goes on, unless she finds a way to do all of this with patience and safe training.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this time, and so now my sister is trying to restore her mind before what may be the most important diplomatic responsibilities of her life. Of all the things happening on Dathomir right now, this was supposed to be the sure thing. I’ve always been able to count on Q’aleane in times like this, but now… now I don’t even know if she’ll be in the room at all tomorrow. And if I have to carry this whole thing by myself well…

…that would be a nightmare in and of itself.

(Having finished disrobing, Q’ayla pauses and takes stock of her bed’s condition. The sheets are a tangled pile on one end, and her pillows are scattered on the mattress and floor. Collecting all of it, she begins to sort things out, replacing her pillows and beginning to make up her bed)

Which leads me away from Q’aleane – though not completely – and towards my own problems, of which there are many.

(Once her bed has approached something like neat and tidy, Q’ayla moves to her dresser and finds nightclothes to change into. As she does so, she once again takes a seat on her bed; first, she sits in a cross-legged meditation pose, but as she struggles to find the words to continue, she draws her knees up to her chest and holds herself)

I had another nightmare last night. It was truly horrible, and I still feel awful just thinking about it. To make matters even worse, it seems to be connected to the other nightmares I’ve had since I first came to Dathomir.

Not that I want to, but I think it might do me some good to explain it again…

I was a hunter, moving through the jungles of Dathomir with a partner that turned out to be Yevra. Just when it seemed that we had lost our quarry, an absolutely massive rancor was suddenly charging right towards us. Our hunter instincts took over, and Yevra and I took turns attempting to confuse and injure the huge beast. We each scored several hits against the rancor’s limbs, but the creature adapted its attacks quickly, and then… then Yevra had been injured. I saw the blood and what was left of her arm disappear into the rancor’s mouth, and watched Yevra hit the ground. Something came over me, and in the next instant I was flying towards the rancor and driving my spear— yes, it was a spear… just below the beast’s left eye. As the rancor thrashed about with me still holding onto my spear, I attempted to out its eye with my hunting knife… why didn’t I have my lightsabers?… and just as I lost my grip on the spear, I slammed the knife’s blade into the vulnerable eye socket. The rancor went down, and so did I, though I fared better than it. Immediately, I went to Yevra but… it was too late. She was already dead, and…

(Q’ayla visibly shudders and must pause before continuing)

…and the terrorized rictus staring back at me… there was nothing I could do for her. Then, out of nowhere, I heard Q’aleane’s voice calling to me. Whirling around, I found my sister lying on the ground where the rancor had been. When she was able to sit up, I saw with horror that the wounds I had inflicted on the rancor’s face remained now on Q’aleane’s… her face… her eye… I—

(A hand moves up to Q’ayla’s mouth, and she lurches forward slightly. Holding very still for several moments, she finally regains herself enough to continue; nevertheless her hand stays somewhat close to her mouth, muffling her speech a little)

As I knelt next to Q’aleane, quickly losing myself – unraveling there next to the poor ruined form of my sister – she indicated to a figure behind me. Turning, I watched as Yevra rolled over onto her stomach and then rose up terrible before us. Where the rancor had torn her arm away there was now something dark and rippling— another arm, but wholly unnatural. She was obviously still dead, and yet moving towards us all the same. I wanted to do something – anything – to stop her, but I couldn’t. I was frozen there, useless. In an instant she was there in front of us, and each of her hands grabbed our throats, strangling us. Her remaining arm lashed out at Q’aleane, and the strange, dark arm held me fast. I can still remember how it felt…

(Q’ayla moves her hand from her mouth to her neck, gently rubbing it as she continues)

…it was like dirt and blood mixed together, holding that part of Yevra together. It was awful… and as my sister and I died in Yevra’s grip, and my vision faded… no, I’m sure of it. I could see the terrible green glow in her dead, sightless eyes.

And then I woke up. I was thrashing about, choking and sputtering, when Q’aleane came into my room. She was leaving for the Singing Mountain village, but there was no way I was going with her. I was still frantic— all of me was still in the nightmare at that point, and I couldn’t calm down. So Q’aleane – and I think I understood then that she was still alive – left without me, and I just laid there, struggling to find normalcy.

Now that I’ve had all day to think about it, though I admit that I deliberately tried not to for large chunks of time, what I find most unnerving are the parallels between this nightmare and the others that I’ve had since I came to this planet. The first featured a giant rancor and Q’aleane bleeding from the eyes. In the next one, Yevra came back from the dead as some kind of unnatural monstrosity and then killed me. The end result of my third nightmare was that I was forced to think upon the terrible atrocities I had done to the Jedi, and to my sister and lover. And now this. What does all of this mean? Why am I having these nightmares?!

(Q’ayla slides her hand up from her neck, up and over her head, her fingers running through her hair)

I don’t have any answers – only guesses. Initially, I thought that the nightmares were a result of the darkness permeating Dathomir itself. I figured that this must be a side-effect of staying on this planet for too long. More recently, though, I can’t help but think of Bogan, standing there mighty and terrible before me. How he loathed me even as I tried to prove how worthy I was of his power and influence. Maybe… maybe this is part of the price he exacts from his servants… The nightmares have gotten worse since I got back from the Spirit Realm, so it’s definitely a possibility. But I can’t deny another option…

…Maybe these aren’t just nightmares? Let’s not forget that after the first one, I found Q’aleane and a massive dead rancor, and my sister had dried tears of blood. I know it’s crazy but… in some way I feel that these visions I’m having are premonitions of a kind. I mean, I don’t have enough to go on to prove that these nightmares will come true, but how else can I explain Q’aleane and the rancor? And what about Yevra? In both of her appearances in my dreams, she’s been connected with the sickly green energy we’ve associated with the Nightsisters. Now that she has her ‘tracking crown,’ she’s supposed to be able to locate her master, but that means that, in part, she’s connected to him. And that terrifies me, ability to locate him be damned. But what can I do about it? Yevra and I aren’t exactly close anymore, and what would I tell her? “Oh, hey Yevra. Just wanted to let you know that I’m having dreams where you go crazy and kill me, and sometimes my sister. So there’s that.”

(Q’ayla sighs deeply)

I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if there’s anything I can do. If these nightmares are premonitions, then I’m not sure I can change what will happen. As Jedi we’re taught that the future is always in motion, always mutable. But how could I even begin— I don’t know when or how these things might come to pass! All I know is that as we get closer and closer to finding Master Darach, I need to be increasingly mindful of Yevra. I can’t allow these nightmares to become real… I just can’t.

One good thing in these recent nightmares is that Irsin hasn’t appeared in any of them. Not since he and Trasa… but that’s not to say that Irsin got through last night unscathed. In fact, he had it even worse than I. As I finally started sorting myself out this morning, I checked in on him, and he was… empty feeling. I think what frightened me the most was that he wasn’t angry. At all. I couldn’t sense any of his usual rage. That’s when I knew I needed to go to him. But when I got to his room, he wasn’t at all himself. He was so distant and vacant. And then he started talking about me like I was dead, and it was at that point that I really started to worry. As he started to tell me, piece by piece, what he had experienced, I was certain that he had had a nightmare. But it was like he couldn’t truly wake up— he was convinced that his nightmare had been real, and that I was some kind of illusion torturing him from beyond the grave. I… I still don’t know what to make of this. I tried and tried and tried some more to convince him that I was real, and that whatever he had seen and done in his mind was just a dream. I don’t know what finally broke through the veil, but eventually he snapped out of it and came back to his normal state of being. Though I was saddened to feel the anger and rage twisting his emotions into finely honed tools, at least it was normal for Irsin. At least it was him. He said that he’s had many horrible nightmares throughout his life, as well as the waking visions like he had back in the jungle last week. But even he had to admit that his reaction to the dream this time was unusual. He could offer no explanation, and so I continue to worry about him.

He’s still in the Praxeum, taking security shifts with Yevra, so I can’t really go to him and be with him tonight. I really wish I could, though. The thought of him having another experience like this morning, and me not there to help him when he needs it, pains my heart to no end. Gods, I just hope he’s okay until this summit is over; with any luck, we’ll be one step closer to ending this madness, and then we can leave Dathomir behind forever. Then maybe the nightmares will go away…? No, not if Irsin is any indication. And maybe his disconnect from reality is a sign of his own bargain with Bogan… maybe it’s what I have to look forward to as I become more and more His servant. I hope not, though… with Q’aleane spiraling into her own kind of madness, who will be there to catch Irsin and I on our way down?

(Q’ayla extends her legs, moving herself so that her back is against the wall. For several minutes she’s quiet; finally, she lets out a tremendous sigh)

Well, I’m definitely not tired now. Too many things, too many dark thoughts swirling in my head. I need something to both occupy my mind and exhaust me. Irsin’s not here…

(She allows herself a sly smirk)

…so I guess I’ll just study the materials we have about Dathomir in preparation for tomorrow’s talks. After all, I won’t know until morning whether or not it’ll be Q’aleane or me in there trying to convince these people to band together and save their own society. I’d best be prepared, just in case… and that means no nightmares tonight. Pretty please?

(With a wave of her hand, Q’ayla summons a datapad with the Force. Taking hold of it, she immediately starts scanning the now brightly lit screen. As she holds the pad out in front of her and leans her cheek against her arm, the holocron deactivates.)




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