Japor — Chapter 2 Rating: PG-13

I heard a sound behind me, and spun around, but all I saw was the flash of a robe as it hurried in the opposite direction. I reached out with the Force to sense who it was, but they were shielding to well, and truthfully, I was far more concerned with Tahiri at that point, so I turned to the direction she ran off, and started walking that way.

It was fairly easy to follow her; the pain she felt was a better guide than the stones in that old child's fairy tale. A brilliant red string in the Force, a jagged line which arched into the whites of sharp emotional pain fading through the reds until you got to the black of old depression.

The emotional scabbed I had picked open was a deep and old one.

I finally found her in the Grotto. The stone plinths that marked the passing of a Jedi towered over us as I looked over at her. She sat in front of a marble one, slightly rocking as she sobbed.

Here her pain washed over me in waves. I looked up to read the plinth that she was leaning against.

Even today I can remember what was engraved on that plinth:

The deeds of heroes send ripples spreading through the Force. Anakin's life continues to flow outward, touching and guiding those who have yet to hear his name. Most of us here use the Force — this young man embodied it.

I reached out and touched her shoulder.

"Tahiri? Are you okay?"

She looked up at me with those eyes, which just an hour ago, held such mischief as she winked at me, now filled with such pain and loss. "Please, just go Ben. I ... I just need some time alone."

I nodded my head, noticing that the little Japor icon was slipped around her neck, and turned and walked away. I briefly wrapped her in a Force hug, showing my love, acceptance and support, before pulling the Force back in around me, and shutting down.

As I walked away, I looked back over my shoulder to look at her once again. She was sitting in a classic Jedi meditation pose. Her eyes were closed, her breathing even, but still the tears fell. I almost ran back to her at that second.

What stopped me was the realization that I could do nothing. Yes I loved her, but to her, I was just a funny little boy.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed, if my presence could have changed how things played out. Idle daydreams, what if. I've learned long since to understand that what is is.

It was early the next morning when Jacen found the body. I was just sitting down at first meal, when I felt Jacen's shock in the Force. I jumped up, and yelled for my parents to come, saying something along the lines that Jacen needed us.

I would like to tell you that I was worried and concerned about whatever could cause my Master to react with shock, but that would be a lie. What worried me was that Jacen's Force presence came from the grotto where I had last seen Tahiri.

What Jacen had found was a body hanging in the Grotto. A stringy rope-like substance tied him to four different plinths, his head hanging free, dangling down in front of the same plinth that Tahiri was leaning against the night before. Anakin's Plinth.

But where the engraved text was the night before was something new. A shallow recess had been carved and sitting in it was a focusing crystal for a lightsabre.

When my Dad lifted the body's head, we all recognized him immediately.

It was Valin Horn.

At that point, I heard the snap-hiss of a lightsabre, and my Master saying "This is Valin's lightsabre. It works, so whose lightsabre does that crystal belong to?"

As I looked around, trying to see anything to give me a clue if Tahiri had been here or not I hear my dad begin to speak, "Mara, please run and tell Corran and Mirax, they need to know, Jacen I'll want you to tell me exactly what happened here."

As Jacen began to tell his story to Dad, I opened myself to the Force, I felt the pain and shock. Valin had died right there in the grotto. Less than a klick from where me and my parents lived. Whoever did this, was powerful enough to shield Valin's death from us, and all the other Jedi who were on Ossus for the Concave.

Seeing, the reddish-black pool beneath Valin, I bent down so that I could see his chest. Once I got where I could see, I noticed two things. The first was the great slash in his stomach, which made me realize just where whoever did this got the rope. The second was a symbol burned onto Valin's chest. Curls and swooshes, like a child's conception of a rushing river.

My Dad and Jacen knelt down, and looked at Valin's chest as well.

Dad looked at Jacen as he asked "Have either of you ever seen this symbol before?"

As Jacen shook his head, I replied "I have."

I ignored my Dad and Jacen's stares and sat down cross-legged on the ground a few feet from the body, and quickly dropped into a meditation stance. I plunged into the Force, desperately trying to find out what happened. Yet all that the Force would reveal at that time was pain, suffering and death.

I stretched out further, straining my abilities to try to find something. I felt the controlled pain and green spikes of horror coming from my dad. The Iron resolution, which was my Mom's intention to find who did this, and beneath the iron, the yellow anger at the person that did it. A brilliant white of shock and disbelief, that began it's quick darkening to the black of despair, that came from Corran and Mirax as my Mom was there telling them what Jacen had found. Of my master, I sensed a void, which I had long associated with Jacen when he was trying to suppress his thoughts and feelings.

Of Tahiri, all I felt was the echo of her Force presence.

To Part One | To Part Three

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