A/N: Hello readers, old and new! For those of you who do not know me, I am alternatively called 'The Red Swordsman' after several of my stories on his site with the same name. Please, enjoy a fairy tale with several characters you may be familiar, and one which I am most certain will be new to more than not!
The character 'Litrosh' is owned by me under the current laws of copyright. All characters originating from Fairy Tail and Star Wars are not mine- rights go to their respective owners.
A rocky landscape stretched before him, the infinite void of the stars all around the ground on which he stood. The cold of space gripped him, yet he found that he could still breathe in the vacuum.
"Where am I?" he wondered aloud. His voice carried an echoing cadence.
"Where' is an irrelevant question," a deep, commanding, ominous voice said from everywhere and yet nowhere. "Who' is a more… tantalizing inquiry."
"Identify yourself," the young man demanded. "What is this place, why am I here?"
The other being chuckled, the darkness around the boy seeming to grow even blacker. "All of that can be answered by you…" it replied. "But only if you choose to surrender… to my guidance…"
"I have already surrendered my life to the Force," the boy declared clenching his fists defiantly. "I am a Jedi Knight, servant to the light!"
This time, the unseen being let loose an angry growl before their tone changed to that of a roaring lion as it shouted, "Then you will die!" The figure of a man rose from the shadows that surrounded the youth, a blood-red lightsaber in hand, poised to strike at him.
"Kneel before the dragon of Zakuul!"
Litrosh awoke with a start, gasping for breath, sweat dripping down his brow. Two other young people dressed in simple clothing with practice swords on their backs eyed him with concern from their seats across the small passenger area on the transport.
"Are you all right?" asked one, a girl that was a few years older than he.
"Yes," he gasped heavily as he wiped his forehead. "Just… some kind of nightmare."
"Do you think it could be an omen?" asked the other, a boy that also appeared to be a little older than him.
"Not everything that happens to Jedi is a direct result of the Force's intervention," the girl said with a roll of her eyes.
"The Force permeates all things, at all times," the other student argued. "Nothing happens by accident."
"Sometimes dreams are just dreams, and nothing more, Yerik," the girl grinned. "If all of my dreams came true, I'd be leading the charge against the Empire right now."
"Perhaps someday you will," the student known as Yerik replied. "Do not dismiss such visions as mere fantasy, lest you come to regret it."
"Enough, enough," Litrosh said, drawing silence from the other two. "We're approaching Tython in a moment. We'll be meeting our new masters soon, and I'd rather not spend the last few minutes disrupting our thoughts with a pointless argument."
"We haven't even dropped out of hyperspace," the girl argued.
"Perhaps if you looked less with your eyes, and more with Force, you would see what our comrade sees," Yerik said. Looking directly at his fellow student, he asked, "Tell me. Are you the padawan that everyone has been speaking about? The one that has already mastered three lightsaber forms, and is pursuing a fourth? Undefeated in combat since the age of eleven, if memory serves."
Litrosh remained silent for several seconds before he answered with a wry grin, "This is true, though I can't say I'm too pleased to hear about it from someone else."
"Why not?" the girl asked. "If that's all true, you're amazing- the Jedi Order needs people like you!"
"The Jedi Order needs humble servants, not glorified warriors," Litrosh explained. "I don't want to be treated like a celebrity because I can swing a practice blade with a little more control than the padawan next to me. All I want is to be a Jedi Knight that will serve the Republic in any way that the Force sees fit."
There was more than one reason for Litrosh's reputation, though it was less known to him than his combat skills. At age eighteen, his deep blue eyes were framed by thick eyebrows and dark hair that went down to the middle of his neck, plus a squared jaw and a small nose made him a source of chatter amongst some of the newer female recruits into the Jedi Order. However, he remained constantly unaware of the attention directed at him because of his intense dedication to the Jedi Code and its underlying principles.
As it had been pointed out by Yerik, Litrosh had already mastered three of the seven lightsaber forms, whereas most padawans that went to take the trials on Tython had only mastered one, the basic Shi-cho form that every Jedi was expected to learn. He had not only mastered this form, but also the Soresu, a steadfast and defensive form, and the Makashi, the patterns specifically designed for battling lightsaber to lightsaber.
He was also aiming to conquer the acrobatic Ataru form in order to adapt his fighting style to multiple environments, an area he believed his skills to be lacking. In all modesty, however, Litrosh had a tendency to sell himself short- unbeknownst to him, he was one of the best swordsmen that the Jedi Masters had seen in nearly twenty years. His resolve and strength of mind had caused his previous evaluators to deem him ready to move on to Tython, where he would receive a new master in preparation for his final trials- two years ahead of many of his comrades.
As the ship came out of hyperspace, Litrosh clutched at a crystal beneath his shirt, hung around his neck by a thin chain that he hardly ever took off. It had been given to him by his first master, a Jedi named Precht. White in color, it was a rare crystal amongst the Jedi, most of them reflecting the colors of nature, like blue, green, even yellow.
The day that he had received the gift was the last day that he had ever seen the man responsible for bringing him into the Jedi Order. He had begun his training at the age of four, on the planet of Naboo alongside many of the other children that were training to become knights and consulars. The watery planet was one of the few worlds that were considered safe in the aftermath of the war with the Sith Empire, and the local government had been most accommodating to the rebuilding Jedi.
It was from there that Litrosh was transferring, whilst Yerik and Amisa were transferring from Alderaan, where some Padawans were being called into action on an interim basis. Litrosh had never been called into active duty, neither to his chagrin nor pleasure. He simply did what he was told by his instructors, never giving his own wants a second thought- it was the way of the Jedi, he knew.
"There is no emotion, there is peace," he recited as he re-fastened his grip on the crystal. "There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no doubt, there is only duty. There is no death, there is the Force." As he finished speaking, the ship dropped out of hyperspace, and the planet Tython came into view.
"I don't believe I'm familiar with that one," said Yerik, who had a thoughtful look on his face.
"Pardon?" Litrosh asked, though he did not take his eyes off of the approaching world.
"That line you recited," Amisa added. "There is no doubt, there is only duty'. I've never heard it in any of my lessons before."
"Ah," Litrosh nodded as he turned back to face the other students. "It's a part of the Code that's not officially taught by the Order, but I believe it to be integral to a Jedi's life nonetheless. We cannot doubt in our cause, or else we invite chaos into our spirits, which in turn disrupts our harmony with the Force. From there on, the entire code falls apart."
"Huh," Yerik nodded- it made sense to him. "Where did you learn it?"
"It was something the master that brought me to the Order left behind when he disappeared," Litrosh answered. "He left me several holo-recordings of his teachings, the 'sixth line' being among them."
"Do you… know what happened to him?" Amisa asked, sounding concerned.
"No," Litrosh shook his head. "Nor have I ever been in a position to find out. I try not to think about too much since it tends to disquiet my soul."
"A Jedi should not flee from his fears, but confront them," Yerik countered. "Sounds to me like you're just using rhetoric to hide behind."
"Yerik, that's out of line," Amisa said as she elbowed him with a frown. "It's not our place to instruct a fellow Padawan."
"Of course," the other student said, realizing that he had crossed over a boundary best left unexplored. "My apologies, Litrosh."
"There is nothing to apologize for," Litrosh said easily with a wave of his hand. Thus the matter was dismissed.
The small shuttle touched down on the landing platform that overlooked a ravine with a slow-moving river at the bottom of it, which fed into an ocean not too far away from the site. Carved out of the stone walls around them were the images of ancient Jedi Masters long lost to history.
"This is amazing…" Amisa said, wonder and awe evident in her voice.
"I know that the masters tell us that the Force permeates every living thing in the universe, but it's as if for the first time, I can actually feel what that means," Yerik said, sounding similarly impressed.
"This is the birthplace of our Order," Litrosh murmured, almost too low for the others to hear. "Few in the galaxy receive the honor of standing here, fewer still have the ability to leave and bear the weight of such a legacy…"
"Are you getting cold feet?"Amisa teased him.
"Even if I was, it's too late to turn back now," Litrosh grinned slightly. "Here come the masters." The others followed his gaze and saw three Jedi coming towards them, one a Twi'lek, the other two, humans.
"Padawans," said one of the humans, a friendly smile on his face. "Welcome to Tython."
"Padawan Yerik, reporting," said the older student.
"Padawan Amisa, reporting," echoed the girl.
"Padawan Litrosh, reporting," the youngest student said. His expression grew a bit exasperated when the masters' faces registered surprise.
"You're the Padawan that your masters on Naboo have been praising?" asked the Twi'lek.
"Yes sir," Litrosh sighed, knowing that it was too much to hope for that his arrival go unnoticed.
"Well, we look forward to seeing you in action, young one," said the other Jedi. "Even some of the members on the Jedi Council are already looking forward to seeing how you fare with the trials here on Tython."
"Wait, even the Council known about him?" Amisa asked, surprise registering on her face.
"That should be inconsequential in regards to what is coming," Litrosh interjected before the masters could reply, not wishing for the others to feel slighted. "We're all here for our trials, and that's what matters. Receiving extra scrutiny should not alter the outcomes here- the Force shall guide us." He showed no signs of pride, only a bit of embarrassment at the thought of receiving attention from such prestigious members of the Order he had sworn to serve.
"Well-spoken," Yerik agreed, seeming to understand the intent behind his comrade's words. "If it pleases you, Masters, we are eager to begin."
"You have a sharp focus, good," said the Twi'lek. "You'll need that here."
"You'll be facing tests that you never even imagined," added the first speaker.
"We will not disappoint you," Litrosh replied, standing up straight.
"It's not us that you should worry about," the second human chuckled. "The council will assign each of you a new master, each of who will oversee your final tests in becoming Jedi." He looked like he was about to say more, but suddenly his communicator started lighting up and beeping, indicating that someone was trying to get ahold of him. "Hold on…" he frowned as he opened the channel. "What is this?"
"Help, Master!" a distorted voice called from the other end, the image filled with static. The person on the other end was clearly an alien padawan, one of the species with long, thin limbs, and a large, rounded head. He was wounded and speaking in Huttese, a common enough language, but not one that was regularly spoken amongst the members of the Jedi Order. They could hear blasters and explosions happening around him. "Flesh Raiders have overrun the training grounds! They have blasters! They-" The connection cut out.
Litrosh reached out with his senses and immediately felt a surge in the dark side of the Force as he extended his mind towards the south. "What's happening?" he asked as he opened his eyes.
"Flesh Raiders are natives to Tython," one master frowned. "But can that truly be what he said? Those brutes are too primitive to use blasters."
"I sense the presence of the dark side," Litrosh replied, his own brow furrowing. "And we could hear the sound blasterfire on his end of the channel- I think it's safe to say that the other trainees are in serious danger."
"I would agree, but hastiness is not the Jedi way," cautioned one of the other masters. "We must proceed with a plan in place."
"I can think of more than one," quipped another. "We have three combat-ready students right here, two of whom have already seen battles against the Empire."
"Without support from the Temple, we'd be sending them into a bloodbath," argued the Twi'lek. "Even then, I don't like their odds."
"The Jedi way is to serve," Litrosh offered. "If our destiny is to stall these 'Flesh Raiders', then so be it. But we cannot stand back while our fellow Jedi are under attack, losing their lives as we speak."
"I like him," the first master grinned as he nodded. "Very well, I suggest this- Amisa and Yerik will travel as a unit, since they have already fought together on the battlefield. Litrosh, there is a Jedi that we will have meet you at the landing platform on the training grounds. She will equip you all with weapons suited for battle better than a practice blade. However, Litrosh will go into battle with her as his partner."
"Why waste a Jedi's time with protecting me?" Litrosh asked, surprised. "Won't I simply hold her back? If you need, I can help hold the lines at wherever the main camp is."
"It's less about holding her back as it is about keeping the two of you alive," the third master sighed. "There is also the fact that she has not seen much live combat, despite passing her trials, so we feel that you may be able to help her realize her potential in the field."
"We'll learn from each other?" Litrosh guessed.
"May the Force be with you," Litrosh said as he bowed to his fellow padawans. "I hope to see you both at the Temple when this battle is over." He and the other two students were standing next to the speeder that they had used to reach the outpost that the Jedi had established in order to keep an eye on the training grounds.
To their right was a med bay that looked as though it was on the brink of becoming overfilled with wounded Jedi and padawans. Further down the walkway was the armory, where there were several masters consulting with a few Republic troops that were stationed to assist with the protection of the area. It was there that the youngest student was supposed to find his partner.
"Likewise," Yerik said to Litrosh with a return bow.
"Don't worry about us," Amisa grinned confidently. "We've gotten into worse situations than this back on Alderaan."
"Worse than man-eating monsters armed with blasters?" Yerik asked as they began to walk away.
"Yeah," Amisa replied. "Remember the Kiliks?" Then their voices faded out of range for Litrosh's ears, so he began to focus on finding the Jedi he was supposed to team up with.
Master Irez said that she shouldn't be hard to find… he thought as he passed the med bay, where he could hear the groaning of many wounded, and feel their suffering through the Force. Despite the oppressive weight on his senses, he moved on, thinking, She's supposed to be on the small side… With blue hair?
Even as he finished the thought, his eyes fell on a young-looking Jedi who was laboring over a vibrosword on what looked to be a makeshift worktable, a look of intense concentration on her face as she peered through a pair of micro-glasses. Her skin was a fair shade, her stature could only be described as small, and she looked incredibly young to be a fully-fledged Jedi to Litrosh.
Then again, who am I to judge? He thought as he walked over. I'm younger than most of my fellow padawans here on Tython.
"Okay, good to go!" she sighed, her bearing relaxing almost instantly as she stepped back and took off the goggles, tossing back her shoulder-length azure locks as she did. Most of it was being kept back by a headband, but some of it had inevitably slipped out of the binding.
"Master Levy?" Litrosh asked as he approached her.
"Huh?" she asked with a slight start of surprise as he came to stand across her workbench. Her gray-brown eyes looked the young man up and down a couple of times before she said, "Are you one of the students that's coming to help?"
"I am," he nodded. "I was told that you could get me a weapon better than a practice blade meant for sparring against fellow students?" He unslung his practice sword from his back and held it out for her to examine.
"Oh, yeah!" she said lightly as she took the blade. Her countenance became grimmer as she said, "Going up against Flesh Raiders with practice swords is… well, you saw the med bay."
"Unfortunately," Litrosh winced. "How many have we lost?"
"We don't know yet," Levy admitted. "Word is, the Flesh Raiders aren't just killing the padawans out there, though. Some are being held in cages for some reason that we don't understand yet."
"So what's our priority?" Litrosh asked as he folded his arms. "Rescuing the other students, or taking out these Flesh Raiders?"
"I don't think we know that either," Levy shook her head as she picked up the vibrosword and moved around the table to approach him directly. "Honestly, the Jedi in the field are having to make it up as they go." Once she was standing in front of him, he noticed that she wasn't just short- she stood well more than a head shorter than he.
"Okay, so what do you think that you and I ought to do?" Litrosh asked as she handed him the sharp weapon, careful to extend the hilt first as to avoid cutting his hands.
"Huh?" Levy asked, looking bewildered once again.
"The masters that greeted us said that you and I were supposed to team up and head into the field," Litrosh said, feeling that he had missed something. "Didn't you receive a message about it?"
"Well, my holo's been off," she admitted ruefully. "But you must have me mistaken for someone else. I'm a consular, not a knight. I have almost no experience in field combat."
"You are Master Levy McGarden, yes?" Litrosh asked carefully, wanting to be sure that he had the right person.
"I'm not a master, so just call me Levy," she said with a charming- if somewhat strained- smile. "But I'm sure that there's some kind of mix-up. Here, let me call the masters… Which one did you say sent you over here?"
"Master Irez," Litrosh answered immediately, waiting patiently while she pulled out her communicator and brought up the right holo-frequency. "Perhaps you're right," he offered sympathetically. "And if you don't feel comfortable going out, maybe I can-"
"Levy, is that you?" The master that had greeted Litrosh appeared on the device, looking a little surprised. "Did Padawan Litrosh find you yet?"
"Yes, he's right here," she nodded quickly. "But he said that you told me to accompany him…? Did you mean Master Levi?"
"No, child," the master shook his head negatively. "I meant you."
"Levy, we understand that your talents lie outside the heat of combat," Irez said gently. "But you are a Jedi. As such, you must be ready to lead others in battle should the day come."
"If it makes you feel any better, reinforcements are coming from the Temple, Jedi Council Members among them," Litrosh told the girl. "We just need to keep the Flesh Raiders from reaching this outpost."
"Padawan Litrosh speaks correctly," the master said. "Go, Levy. The Force will be with you." The transmission ended, and Levy hung her head.
Looking at her with mixed amounts of concern and pity, Litrosh said, "If you truly wish to stay behind, I won't force you to go. However, I need to get out there and do my part."
Levy looked up at him, startled. "You'd really go out there without backup?" she asked, eyes wide.
"Well, I won't always be able to have backup in the field if I'm ever sent into combat," Litrosh shrugged as he attached his new sword to his back, magnetically binding it the same way that he had his practice blade. "I suppose that I'll have to get used to it sooner than I thought I would." He turned to leave, resigned to his assignment.
"Wait!" Levy's voice stopped him a few feet from where they had stood together, so he looked back over his shoulder curiously. The girl was rummaging through her tools, sifting through several pieces of equipment before she pulled out a lightsaber. Jogging over to meet him, she grinned ruefully and said, "It'd look pretty bad if I let you go out there by yourself while I stayed where it was safe. I'm coming with you."
"Worried about Master Irez?" Litrosh smiled slightly.
"No, I'd be worried about anybody hearing about it," she admitted. "A padawan goes into live combat while his supervising teacher stays back to repair a hydrospanner? I'd never hear the end of it."
"I don't think anyone would criticize you too harshly," Litrosh said reassuringly. "You don't seem to have been a Jedi for long… Er, no offense."
"None taken," she laughed softly. "I just completed my trials two weeks ago, so you're right about that. It's a good thing that consulars aren't evaluated too much on their combat skills, otherwise I'd be hopeless."
"I think you're selling yourself short," Litrosh admonished her gently, trying to choose his words carefully so that she might find some measure of self-confidence. "The Council wouldn't have approved your advancement had they decided you were incapable. Maybe you'll surprise yourself?"
"I hope so," she said somewhat dejectedly. However, he did notice her shoulders lift a bit while her pace seemed a little more purposeful than before.
"Now let's go save some padawans," Litrosh said as they stepped off the stairs that led into the training grounds of Tython.
"Right behind you," Levy said grimly. They could already hear the angry roars of what could only be the Flesh Raiders accompanied by the sounds of lightsabers reflecting blaster shots and piercing flesh.