Disclaimer: I am not Rick Riordan, George Lucas, or Haley Riordan.

Enter Pellaeon, in the Netherworld, floating along within the Pool of Knowledge.

Pellaeon. [aside] Punishment awaits me for the life I led. I could try to claim I was a being of pure motives, trying to preach sense to the world. But even I know that isn't the truth. I dismissed the mere idea of gods and been dismissive of anyone who worshiped one. They all were just a laugh to him. But if I learned anything from the last six hours, it was that these gods don't have a sense of humor. [sighs] Pity is if Seff wasn't an enemy of the Je'daii, I might have been received as a hero for saving the boy's life. But the Force has a different plan for me. When I face my judgment, I will also have to be punished for aiding a traitor. It's ironic, really. . . . I died doing a good thing. But I might be sentenced to an eternity in Chaos. This was my fear from childhood, dying and being rejected by the Force.

In spite of this, Pellaeon smiles.

Seff isn't here with me. That means S'ybll failed. She didn't kill the boy. Without a hostage holding him back, surely Seff read the spell out of pure rage and defeated that mind-witch. And that is enough to make me content, no matter what punishment the Je'daii decide on. I will have the last laugh now, and for the rest of eternity.

Enter Morag, an immortal Sith goddess who assumes the form of a dark-eyed Tulgah sorceress. She reaches her hand out to Pellaeon and spares him from his fate, bringing him into her realm.

[to Morag] I suppose you're waiting for me to thank you . . . for saving my life, that is.

Morag. No. Because I didn't save your life. You're still dead.

Pellaeon. Then why am I here? Why did you bring me to this place?

Pellaeon approaches Morag's alter and sits beside her as the Sith prays.

Morag. I saved them, both of my children. You're going to hate me for that.

Pellaeon. [incensed] You told Seff you couldn't interfere. After all I sacrificed to help the boy, you stepped in at the last moment and saved that monster?

Morag. I don't want any more of my children to die. Seff's solution would have worked. Thanks to your selfless death, he had time to retrieve the notebook and find the spell. It was a binding incantation — the reversal of a spell designed to heal and fortify a living body. If he had cast it on S'ybll she would have been reduced to a pile of black dust. But she would not have died. Nor would she have regenerated. She would have remained alive as a pile of black dust forever. I stopped that before it could happen.

Pellaeon. Why didn't you let him do it? S'ybll is a murderer. Didn't she deserve Seff's judgment?

Morag remains silent for a moment.

Morag. Seff likes you. I saw how happy you make him. It's probably because you remind us both of his father. [smiles] Seff is a child who always seeks to make his mother proud, even if he can sometimes be reckless. But S'ybll also had a difficult past. She didn't ask for her fate. I want to see her as happy as Seff.

Pellaeon. Did you bring me here just to tell me this, to tell me that all of my efforts were in vain?

Morag. They won't be, Captain. Because I'm going to have you look after Seff.

Pellaeon eyes Morag cautiously.

Pellaeon. And how do I do that if I'm dead?

Morag. My main role as a goddess is maintaining the Force, keeping the balance between the Je'daii and mundane worlds. I keep those two worlds apart. When the mundane do get a glimpse of something metaphysical, I come up with happy alternatives for them to believe in. Seff also has power over the Force. I'm sure he showed you some of his creations — symbols that can been turned into solid objects.

Pellaeon. Force phantoms. Yes, Seff gave me a demonstration.

Morag. Recently the boundaries between life and death have been weakened, thanks to the goddess Abeloth. This is how she can bring her monstrous servants back from the Netherworld so quickly, make them regenerate almost immediately. But I can use this weakness to our advantage. I could return your soul to the physical plane in a phantom body. It would take much of my own power, but I could give you a new life. Seff has always been headstrong and impatient, but if you're by his side, you can guide him.

Pellaeon. If you have so much power, why couldn't you separate S'ybll and Seff earlier? Wasn't my death unnecessary?

Morag. Unfortunately, Captain, your death was very necessary. Magic cannot create something from nothing. It makes use of what already exists. A noble sacrifice creates powerful Force energy. I used that force to separate my children. In effect, your death allowed me to save them both. Perhaps more important, Seff learned something from your death. And I suspect you did, too.

Pellaeon. What if it just happens again? Won't S'ybll continue to go after your son?

Morag. In the short term, no. Seff now has a powerful spell to defeat her. She would be foolish to attack.

Pellaeon. But eventually she'll find a way to counter that spell.

Morag. [sighs] It may come to that. My children have always fought with one another. The strongest leads the others. Seff joined Palpatine's cause and led his siblings to war. He blames himself for their deaths. Now S'ybll has risen up to challenge his preeminence, hoping the children of magic will follow her under Abeloth's banner. There must be another way. The other gods have never trusted my offspring. But this Yuuzhan Vong rebellion will only bring more bloodshed. Seff must find another answer, some new arrangement that will bring peace to my children.

Pellaeon. [hesitates] And if they don't want peace?

Morag. I will not choose sides. But I hope with you there to guide him, Seff will make the right decision, a decision that will lead my family to peace.

Pellaeon. [aside] A reason to live. A way for one mundane being with no special powers to affect the world of gods and monsters. [smiles, to Morag] That sounds like a challenge. Very well. I accept. And though I will be only a phantom, I'll make sure he succeeds.

Pellaeon turns to go, then turns back.

I have one more question to ask you, Morag. If you yourself are a deity, who are you praying to?

Morag. [smiles] I hope you find out.

Pellaeon departs from Morag's realm, returning to the physical plane in the form of a phantom.

Exit Morag.

Pellaeon materializes on Taris, where Seff awakes after his tumultuous battle against S'ybll.

Seff. Pellaeon? What happened? I thought . . . What are you doing here?

Pellaeon. [smiles] Come on. I think the two of us have some research to do.

Exit all.