(As she activates her holocron, Q’ayla gently tosses her Jedi robe onto the back of the desk chair. Standing in the middle of the room, she places her hands on her hips, takes a deep breath, and then slowly shakes her head with an incredulous laugh)
Heh… I didn’t think they had it in them.
Yep, that’s right: Round one of the Clanmeet was a success! The Dathomiri Clanmothers have agreed to unite against the Nightsisters.
I honestly wasn’t sure they’d ever do it, never mind on the very first day of the meeting. But let’s be honest, if they didn’t act after what happened today, I don’t know what else could have been done to push the issue. Diplomacy certainly wasn’t cutting it, and with Q’aleane and I taking a diminished role in the proceedings – which I’m definitely not upset about, mind you – those women would have been left to their own devices had their hands not been forced from without.
I think all of us expected an attack on the Praxeum. We already knew that the Nightsisters had infiltrated at least one of the clans we invited, so our plans couldn’t have been considered top secret. And with so many Clanmothers gathering in one place, our enemy would be foolish if they didn’t try something. At least they didn’t keep us waiting too long.
It was only a couple of hours into the meeting, with “battle lines” already being drawn between groups of Clanmothers, when Q’aleane and I got the message from Irsin. A stampede of herd beasts had crossed into the Praxeum clearing, and a… wait—
What do you call a group of rancors?
Let’s go with murder, that sounds about right for rancors.
So a murder of rancors followed the herd beasts, but when they spotted the Witches standing guard at the perimeter, their interest shifted. In the next moment, the rancors were battling the Witches, and Irsin had rushed off to join the fight. I stood from the table and moved to a more advantageous position; after all, we naturally expected the rancors to be a diversion. As the Clanmothers began bickering over how they should deal with the current crisis, I admit that I found myself in a similar mindset. On the one hand, protecting the Clanmothers was obviously a top priority. But there was a part of me that longed to be out there, with Irsin, fighting off the attack. With my skill added to theirs, maybe we wouldn’t have suffered the losses we did… And what of Irsin? What if something had happened to him while I stood around in a conference room waiting for an attack that might not have come? Could I have lived with that moment of inaction?
(Q’ayla reaches up and runs both hands over her face and through her hair. Letting out another deep breath, she pulls the desk chair out and sits down, a measure of her exhaustion showing in her posture)
But no. I couldn’t think about it like that. Irsin was doing his duty, and I needed to do mine. We had worked tirelessly to get the Praxeum up to snuff in terms of security, but there were no illusions about how ill-prepared we still were. There’s only so much that could be done with the place in the time we had. So when Irsin ran outside, without hesitation, to fight giant monsters, I stayed with the Clanmothers. I had to trust in my instinct that the real attack was still to come, and hope for the safety of those already engaged.
Thankfully, the battle did not last long. In the end, our forces were successful in either killing or driving away the rancors, and Irsin was not badly injured. There were others, though, who were not as lucky…
(Q’ayla bows her head, placing her hands in her lap. She speaks quietly, and with reverence)
“Ashla, the wind that begets life.
Bogan, the fire that consumes all.
We begin as you, and to you,
We return in time.
These daughters of Dathomir…
Have become dust and embers;
Yet they will be born on the wind again.
Guide them, Ashla – Guide them, Bogan.
May the Force free them – May they find peace.”
(She raises her head again, but the quiet has not left her voice completely)
Just as the fighting ended, we received word from Yevra that someone had in fact broken into the Praxeum’s east entrance and killed the Witches on guard. With that confirmation, the Clanmothers were ready to act. Initially, I was going to stay in the conference room with Kethrienne and the other eldest Clanmothers, while Q’aleane and Barukka took groups on patrols of the complex. However, it soon became clear that the conference room itself was the likely target. And so, my group made our way upstairs to the room right above the conference room, while Barukka took her group to the room directly below the conference room, and Q’aleane led her people to the generator subbasement to thwart any attempted sabotage there.
I’ll admit, though I’m somewhat ashamed to do so, there was a moment when I thought that Yevra might have been the intruder. I let Q’aleane and Irsin know about my concerns, and, though thankfully Yevra was not at fault here, I still can’t shake the feeling I had. I think my fear about what that crown and its connection to Master Darach might do to her, combined with the nightmares I’ve been having, is starting to distort her view of Yevra. I want her to come out of this in one piece, and I want her to be okay. But something in my gut tells me that her part in this will get worse before it gets better; my nightmares haven’t always stayed in dreams, after all…
Well, anyways, once we were in place, Irsin, who had come back inside after the battle and was tracking the intruder, gave us updates on the attacker’s likely destination. Eventually, it was determined that she was headed my way. Of course, I didn’t see anything, nor had seen anything the entire time, but just in case the culprit had the ability, I expended some effort in an attempt to see through mind-trick invisibility as Irsin had taught me. Standing at the door to the room, with Kethrienne and the others behind me, I waited.
I may have lost track of how long I waited, but then suddenly, as I turned to look back down the hallway, there she was. She was a Dathomiri Witch to be sure, but she was dressed head-to-toe in a black jumpsuit… of a sort. Thank the gods I was wearing my visor, because I looked straight at her, though I immediately made an effort to act as though I hadn’t seen her at all. I looked back in the other direction, just as I had done many times before, and hoped I hadn’t blown it. My bluff seemed to work, because she kept on coming. Then, just as she got into range, I flicked my sabers to stun and struck out at her in the same instant.
Heh… she didn’t even see it coming.
Once she was incapacitated, I alerted everyone that the threat had passed, and Irsin soon confirmed that there had been only one intruder, so we came down from high alert and began to discuss our next steps. It was decided that Irsin and I would bind the intruder and bring her to the conference room… actually that reminds me of something Irsin said. We were debating what to do with the Nightsister, and Kethrienne asked us to bring her to the conference room so that the group could interrogate her. Irsin spoke up and asked whether the Clanmothers wished for him to… how did he put it?…
I can’t seem to remember now. But I think what he was implying was that he would take the girl and torture her for information to spare the Clanmothers the effort. Kethrienne brushed him off in typical Dathomiri fashion, but the whole thing just stuck with me. Particularly the mental image of Irsin in a dimly lit room, torturing a young woman for information.
(Q’ayla tilts her head back, slouching in the chair even more so than before)
Hits too close to home, I guess. I don’t want to think about him being like that. Inflicting pain and fear on someone else, even to the point of death. Yet knowing that it’s well within him to do so— he offered, after all.
…would he think of me in that moment? Would he remember what I told him? What I showed him?
(She shakes her head roughly, as though trying to remove the thought by force)
Anyways, it doesn’t matter. Kethrienne refused, assuring Irsin that the Clanmothers could handle the prisoner, so Irsin and I picked her up and carried her back downstairs. In the mean time, Q’aleane’s group had returned to the conference room, and she and Tasandra went outside to assist in healing those wounded from the battle with the rancors. Apparently, Tasandra’s mate Kamin was among those seriously injured, but I’ve since heard that he was saved from death. As I said earlier, some of the injured were too far gone, but I’m sure Q’aleane was a great help to all of them. She’s one of the finest healers in the Jedi Order right now, I’m certain of it.
Once Q’aleane finished her work outside, and I had gathered up the remaining patrols inside, we decided to break for some food, as it was now early afternoon. Q’aleane and I stayed in the conference room to watch over our new prisoner, and I noticed about half way through the meal that she had regained consciousness, but was pretending to still be asleep. Q’aleane told her she needn’t keep pretending, and then the next thing I knew, the girl is choking Q’aleane with the Force!
…Poor Q’aleane, she’s been getting this a lot lately…
I stood up, activated my lightsabers, knocked her out again, then returned to my lunch. Seriously, there was no need for that outburst.
After lunch, we and the Clanmothers reconvened, and Kethrienne began questioning the Nightsister. Though it was clear to me that Kethrienne was extremely powerful, something was protecting the Nightsister. Even with the help of other Clanmothers, Kethrienne was unsuccessful. In the end, her more aggressive questioning led to the girl’s death, though it was not by Kethrienne’s hand. Q’aleane made mention of the Spirit Realm… apparently, the girl’s Force aura was snuffed out through the Spirit Realm, though I have no idea how that might be possible. Either way, our successful capture of a Nightsister ended on a somewhat unsettling and anti-climactic note…
But get this!—
(Q’ayla’s head shoots forward, as though with recovered energy)
After we settled back into our discussion, the earlier rumblings we heard from some of the Clanmothers concerning our – that is, Q’aleane and mine’s – involvement in the proceedings returned with renewed vigor. Can you believe that?! After everything we’ve done since arriving on Dathomir— never mind Irsin fighting off rancors, Q’aleane saving the lives of their sisters, or my stopping the intruder that sought our deaths or worse; it was only because of Q’aleane’s persistence that this Clanmeet was even taking place! How could they not understand – still – that our goal here is to save their civilization from ruin?! Apparently my skin was turning pale in that moment— and it probably is now too! I mean come on! What more did we need to do to prove ourselves to the Dathomiri?! Stop the Nightsisters single-handedly before they’d had their morning tea?! Gods I don’t even know if they drink tea, but who cares!!
(She’s practically hovering off the chair at this point, but after all of that she seems to catch herself. She settles herself back into the chair, taking deep breaths and noticeably trying to calm herself down)
Thank gods Q’aleane was still there, because she spoke up and again did her best to respectfully lay their concerns to rest.
…Whereas I would have probably tried to lay them to rest…
It seemed to have the desired effect, because they stopped complaining about us and started complaining about something useful: There are still Nightsisters among the clans, and they must be dealt with before we can plan any kind of assault on the Nightsisters themselves. What happened next is somewhat difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best. Q’aleane took Kethrienne aside and spoke with her about something, and the next thing I knew, Barukka had joined in the conversation, and she was telling the table about what had happened yesterday at the Singing Mountain village when Q’aleane allowed herself to be inhabited by the spirit of Allya. After she finished speaking, Kethrienne put to a vote whether Allya should be summoned to the meeting. There was a somewhat unanimous vote to do so, but I gather that some of the yeses were from Clanmothers who wanted to discredit Q’aleane and Barukka, and, not believing the story about Allya, thought this the best chance to do so.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I took some pleasure at their being wrong.
Barukka was the host for Allya this time, and you can’t imagine the look on Q’aleane’s face as Allya appeared before us. She looked like a child receiving a remarkable gift, and even though she tried to keep her composure, I could see the little signs that she was thrilled. Unfortunately, once the purpose for Allya’s visit was made apparent, things turned dark quickly. From what I understand, which isn’t much and came mainly from Q’aleane afterwards, Allya scanned the table for secret Nightsisters. I don’t know that I was shocked to discover that a few of our number at the table were in fact traitors, but I was shocked to see Allya levitate them into the air and then kill them instantly with her power. As the bodies slammed lifelessly onto the floor next to the dead intruder still bound to her chair, it occurred to me how much death has taken place here, and how much more will come. I know my hands are already drenched in Dathomiri blood, but I fear we will all suffer that fate before the end. It’s depressing in its inevitability, isn’t it?
Once the traitorous Clanmothers had been dispatched, Barukka— err, Allya glided out from the room and headed to the clearing, where the rest of the Witches had recently returned to their watch. I saw Q’aleane catch up to Allya just before the exit, and later she told me that she had asked Allya to spare and question one of the traitors so that we might have more information. I wish I could say that I was surprised that my sister would boldly approach a powerful spirit and demand something of it, but this is Q’aleane we’re talking about…
Outside, Allya seized— no, plucked might be the better word for what this was… she plucked the Nightsisters from our midst, and I was troubled to see that Jothelle’s aunt Mevilla was one of them. She killed the guards as she did the Clanmothers before, but with Mevilla, she tried persuasive diplomacy. And, like with our prior captive, the questioning led to the woman’s agonizing death. With this Dathomiri herd “culled,” as it were, Allya bid farewell to her sisters, but not before revealing that she had learned from Jothelle’s aunt some information about the Nightsisters, which Barukka would remember after their link was severed. And finally, she appointed Jothelle as the leader of a new coalition of Dathomiri clans. Q’aleane and I were really hoping for Barukka to get the post, but if it could be anyone else, I’m so happy that it’s Jothelle. Of all the Dathomiri we’ve met, her youth, diplomatic abilities, and progressive nature mark her as my favorite.
In any case, we returned to the conference room, where Barukka – now herself again – relayed the information that Allya had learned. It isn’t much, but it’s worlds apart from what we knew even this morning. We learned that the Clanmother of the Nightsisters is named Zethira, and that she has held that position for at least twenty years. The Nightsister clan is also much smaller than we had feared, though no less dangerous considering what we’ve seen so far. There appear to be around one-hundred forty, with an obviously unequal mix of females and males. However, this does not include their army of the undead, about which we know nothing new. This Zethira clearly wields great power, but it does appear that Master Darach somehow factors into a sudden increase of her power. Whether she is a Shaman or not is still unknown, and even if she is, Irsin has made the curious point that she might not be a Shaman of Bogan, but instead this force of Chaos that we learned of in the Spirit Realm. I’m not sure what that means, and I’ll leave the theorizing to Q’aleane.
Nevertheless, we now have a way to root out the Nightsisters in our midst, and I imagine once the clans meet together, we’ll get rid of those traitors once and for all! With Allya on our side, we may have a chance in this, though there are still many things to consider and decide on before we’re ready for the final assault. I know Q’aleane stayed at the Praxeum to speak with Jothelle, Barukka, and Kethrienne, presumably about her theories and ideas. For my part, I’ve been thinking about how this new information can help us from a strategic perspective, but I fear we still don’t know enough— for instance, where the Nightsisters are, or the true nature of that undead army, or what Master Darach has to do with all of this.
(Q’ayla stretches for a moment in the chair before standing again. She takes up her Jedi robe and begins sliding her arms into the sleeves)
But mainly, tonight I just want to see Irsin. I didn’t get a chance to really talk with him about the fight earlier, and I want to make sure he’s really okay. And, let’s face it: I miss him. Besides, I know he’s at the Praxeum again tonight, and I didn’t go to visit last night because I was prepping for this morning. Thankfully, I think enough has happened today that we won’t be quite so on edge tonight, so if I catch him in-between shifts, maybe we can spend some time together. Either way, the walk will do me good, because I need to unwind before tomorrow’s business, which I’m sure will pick up right where it left off.
(Pulling the hood of her robe over her head, Q’ayla heads for the door, stopping only to deactivate the holocron with a flick of her wrist.)