The Jedi Knights of the Round Table
(OOC: I'll be NPC-controlling "Guinevere" until someone fills her slot *soon* :))
STAR WARS: THE JEDI KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
Five thousand years before the rule of the Galactic Empire, a dark era known as the Golden Age of the Sith was poised to dawn. The Jedi Order, far more human in its infancy, before the rise of Darth Revan, allowed romantic love, marriage, and procreation among the few members of its Council. Such rites of passage were sacred, stones in the very foundation of the Jedi Code. Adultery was treason, punishable by death upon a funeral pyre. Those who were its silent conspirators faced two to twenty years hard labor if caught.
Jedi Knight ITREYA knows this. She also has no reason to suspect that the Lady she serves, the Grandmaster's lovely and gracious wife, will soon fall for another man. Once the affair begins, however, ITREYA and her fellow Knights know they must take sides. With whom will they stand--their Grandmaster, present head of the Council and the Jedi Order, or with the rogue lovers? Whatever their decision, everyone involved knows that this forbidden romance has the potential to split the Order in two...
"Itreya?" My mentor smiled toward me, her eyes sparkling. "Good morning!"
I returned her gaze. "Good morning, Mistress." Was I as happy as she? Today was the day that, after long hours of training and endless review, endless scrutiny from all of us in the Jedi Order, a new Master would be dubbed. Who was he? Someone of whom I'd barely heard, but nevertheless had proven worthy of the honor. More than worthy, from the content of the whispers in the halls of the Jedi Academy. "Would you like me to assist you?" A quick nod.
I'd been the servant and apprentice of the Grandmaster's wife for a little more than five years now. Ever since she first took me on as her Padawan, our friendship had only grown deeper and more refined. We told each other our secrets now, though we had precious little to hide. After all, we were Jedi, committed to the spread of justice and peace throughout the galaxy. If we could not be civilized and virtuous, then who could? How could we expect anyone else to try and emulate our standards of right conduct?
Human beings, we were indeed, both of us, but hypocrites we were not.
As I helped the Lady bathe and dress, she hummed a pleasant tune that spoke of festivals and dancing, not the solemn induction that would take place this high noon in the Council Chamber. I shared in her great joy, for another Master meant another Padawan, another Knight, another Jedi. Our Order was expanding, and since the followers of the Dark Side were becoming more and more of a threat these days, we clearly needed to expand. "Sith", they were calling themselves. The day that the Sith would outnumber the Jedi was becoming a distinct possibility. None of us would let that stand...
"Our robes, Itreya. White ones for you, and the gold layers for me, please!"
The "gold layers" were the lustrous swaths of skirts and overskirts the Lady wore to formal ceremonies such as this one. Typically, we Jedi wore modest garments that reminded us to stay humble and unpretentious in the face of our great powers. Today, however, was special. It was not every day that a Master was chosen from dozens of students. He--or she--was a true rarity.
"Who's being sworn in today?" I asked her. "As Master, I mean, my lady?"
"He's not known," she replied, "or not well-known to you. To either of us. My husband keeps his Council close to him on matters such as these, and even I, his own wife, am not privy to such information until the induction day." She smiled and giggled, with perhaps a touch of rue in her voice. "He's a male. That's all I know--not even his full name. Would you believe that, Itreya?"
I laughed and shook my head. "Men," I said. "What if you were Grandmaster?"
"I'd probably do the same thing." She wrinkled her nose. "Nay, I would not. Come. Let's go down to breakfast once we've finished dressing. Rumor has it that the chef droids have been preparing something gourmet for our morning meal. Actually, all the meals today have the scent of freshness about them."
Another snicker from me. Jedi fare was usually freeze-dried or powdered first.
The Lady and I flicked the last folds of our robes into place and walked to the dining hall, with me carrying the long golden train behind her that dazzled the eyes with its reflection of the Coruscanti sun. What a sight! What a day!
Scowling at the timidly lingering Padawan in front of him, Gravin irritably goaded “Again!”
The Padawan lunged at him with renewed ferocity and resolve, only to have the large Turian sidestep her with a smooth grace and plant a solid blow straight into her back with the butt of his pistol, sending her plummeting into the ground. She hit face first but attempted a rebound, only to find it impossible. None of her legs or arms would move, and the panic was growing apparent on her face when Gravin stepped foreword and planted one of his sturdy steel boots on her back. He applied a tremendous of pressure to that point and a sudden crack was heard, and the Padawan’s arms began moving much to her surprise as Gravin removed his boot. However, before she could bother to get up and dust herself off, she was suddenly grabbed by the scruff of her robe and hefted up into the air by one of the Turian’s powerful three-clawed hands. He titled her so that she was staring face-to-face into his cold, stone eyes and, in a calmly dangerous voice, asked “What was that?”
“A-An attack,” the Padawan sputtered, utter terror apparent in her youthful eyes.
“No, that was not an attack. That was a panicked display of desperation a slaver or pirate would have had a field day with,” Gravin corrected calmly, neither his grip slacking nor his patience slipping. “You should have come at me cautious and ready. Instead you threw yourself into the flames of battle and now you’re faced with cold reality of defeat.”
The Padawan actually looked like she might have been thinking on what the large Master said before he promptly let go, letting her fall right on her behind. Gravin casually shrugged and turned to the rest of the terrified Padawan onlookers, eyeing them all with his impenetrable stare. It never faltered as he looked down each and every one, and when he finished he, with distaste, said “This defeat is unacceptable. If you cannot fight, you cannot be expected to uphold the laws and peace that our order is expected to. If you cannot think you cannot be expected to uphold the laws and peace that our order is expected to. Therefore, all of you Padawans will learn to fight and think. You will be here tomorrow morning at four sharp and fully ready for combat training, with lessons on politics, economics, and history taking up the majority of the afternoon and a force training session before bed. Until then, you are dismissed.”
Many of the Padawans let out a groan of despair as they left the combat circle, for the Turian Master’s training schedules were legendary within the order. The humiliated Padawan stood up from where she had been sitting the whole time, slighting brushing the dust and dirt of her, and began to walk away with her head hung low. She was stopped though by Gravin’s clawed hand resting on her shoulder, and she turned her head to look up at the old Master.
“I must extend my apologies. Though you should have come at cautious and ready, you came certainly fast enough that any slaver or pirate would have been disemboweled right there.” Gravin said, making a genuine attempt to take the cold edge off of his normally terse voice. Cold he may prefer to be, but she was still only a young human girl of 15.
The girl smiled warmly at him and raised her head, saying “Okay, thank you Master.”
Before she turned to leave though she quickly gave him a light hug, catching Gravin off guard. He shifted uncomfortably but the girl didn’t seem to care as she held on to him for a few more moments before letting go, saying a quick good bye and then practically skipping away. Gravin himself stood at that spot a few more seconds both confused and dumbstruck, before shaking himself out of it and returning to his icy demeanor.
Holstering the pistol which he had still from dealing with his Padawan earlier, the old Turian Master started back into the Academy Halls from the open-aired training circles which dotted the complex. Today though, instead of new students going on to their lessons and the occasional group of seasoned Knights discussing their last assignments, people were in a petty gossip about the induction of a new Master that almost tempted Gravin to give them one of his surprise ‘pop quizzes.’ But, instead of making their lives hell on this special day, he decided to let them have their enjoyment for the moment, sending visable relief through the students as he walked past them without trouble.
Personally, Gravin had never cared for the other Masters. He left them alone, and they left him alone for the most part except when some wet-behind-the-ears Padawan came running up to them to say Gravin was too tough on them or something similar. Then he’d be forced to listen to the lectures of peace and compassion until they left and he continued on with his business. The way he trained his students was his business he believed, and how others trained their students was their business. Either way it went though, he still had to acknowledge the other Masters were there with occasions like this. Otherwise the Grandmaster would be on his case until something happened to make up for it.
Gravin entered the dining hall, catching the beautiful scent of fresh food. If there was one thing that Gravin didn’t approve of that wasn’t already on his list, it was the deprivation of decent meals. It was one thing to be modest, and then another to be arrogant. But he wasn’t here to speculate about the food, he was here to hungrily consume it, as his stomach so modestly reminded him with its growl at the moment he stepped up to the Master’s banquet.
(OOC: I'm about to throw this RP for a loop. Not only will a new Master be chosen...)
The dining hall smelled wonderful, with dozens of well-cleansed, well-clad bodies swirling around me and my Lady. Sunlight slanted in at just the right angle to make it seem like it was blessing all of us with its shimmering light. We were not just Jedi this day; we were witnesses to an event, the making of history. Who was it that would receive the ultimate honors of our Order?
"Breakfast is served!" announced the mechanical, cheery voice of a chef droid. "Enjoy, and as usual, line up according to apprenticeship and rank."
We all did so, even though the Grandmaster was not there this morning. He was typically served meals in his Meditation Chamber or his bedroom, for he spent most of his time there in deep thought. I stood directly behind my Lady, she being the Grandmaster's wife, and then the other Jedi followed suit. I was so happy that I even offered to trade places with someone else, but he refused. What was his name? Ah--Gravinustus. Gravin, he was called.
As we chattered happily and received our more-than-adequate portions of a freshly-prepared breakfast, I felt a sudden frisson of unease. What was wrong? Nothing seemed amiss--hundreds of Jedi waiting for their turn, the chef and serving droids rapidly bustling about their work, the clamor of a hundred voices sharing news and small talk--What was it that darkened my mind? Something small that barely flashed for a thousandth of a second...
"Ahem." A young man cleared his throat, amplifying his voice through the Force. It was one of the Grandmaster's servants, a Padawan Page. His eyes were dark and clear, his face dead, somber. He radiated sorrow--and anger?
"I have come from the Grandmaster's chambers with dire news," he began softly, glaring and waiting for the others in the dining hall to quiet down. They did so slowly, as any cheerful crowd will do when suddenly faced with a raincloud in their midst. "As you know, our Grandmaster has been in ill health for some time. Fain would it have been that our Force powers had healed him, but now it is too late. His illness was too strong, our treatment too weak. He is dead." The Padawan Page bowed, and I could feel his trembling.
Uproar! Shouts of disbelief, gasps, cries of denial, wailing. As for my Lady--she simply stood there, paralyzed, tears pouring down her cheeks after a few seconds of shock. I fled to her side, grasping her waist and burying my head in the folds of her gown as a child would, clinging to its mother for support. I wept with abandon, not caring what other Jedi would think if they saw me.
The Grandmaster's Page stood, unblinking and unyielding. "Calm yourselves. We are Jedi. We see the future and move forward, no matter our grief. The Grandmaster has named a possible successor, if he will accept the honor."
Even though we had all been thrown into pandemonium by the death of the head of our Order, this silenced us. We held our breaths, not daring speech.
"His name is Master Gravinustus, and as is the custom of our Order, if he will claim the title of Grandmaster, he will also claim the widow of the former one. Lady Linieva Zhenevaru, what say you? Will you honor your late husband's successor in this way?" A delicate pause. "Collect your thoughts, my lady."
My Mistress disentangled herself from my grasp and stepped forward. "Aye," she said. "Master Gravinustus, if you will have Linieva, Linieva will have you." She knelt and extended her hand, waiting to see if "Gravin" would come forward or if he'd remain behind. Strange. She only referred to herself in the third person when she was trying to appear detached, but not truly so. I knew she had always been rather fond of Gravin among the other Jedi Masters. I wondered if he sensed it, or even if he cared. What would he do?
I wiped my face on my sleeve and waited for the outcome of this cataclysm!
Jasper, one of the Jedi Knights, cocked his head to the side at the news.
"So that's it then?" Jasper asked. "The man in sickness decides who is to rule us? It has always been the decision of the masters... they have always been the one to vote on who the new Grandmaster is. Our late Grandmaster was DELIRIOUS! He couldn't even tell me what his wife's name was, much less what his OWN NAME WAS! Tell me... is that really the type of a man who you want to choose a successor who will lead us to glory and honor... or maybe his successor would lead us down the path of Darkness and anger."
Jasper was on his feet, standing in his chair.
"Do you really want a man to choose our successor? ONE MAN! The entire Order should be the one's to decide! He is dead... sure, he was a great leader... but not anymore... I've told you he was delirious. I ask that we vote for the next Grandmaster... have an emergency meeting. Have the Council reassemble... at least until they can decide wether or not he'd make a good Grandmaster. And until that moment... I do not accept him as the Grandmaster." Jasper said, getting down from the chair and then sitting in it.
"So how do you say should be our next leader? You?" Came a voice from the public. Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the human padawans, Mignola Sapien (or Mike as he had became to be known. Mike stepped forward through the crowd so he could see the man he'd been argued against. "The illness had a devastating effect on the Grandmasters mind, however his mind was as clear as ever when I spoke to him a week previous. His mind is much stronger than anyone here and no mere illness, no matter how much it damages the body could ever change his strong and wise mind, and I believe if the Grandmaster believes Gravinustus is to lead our people then he is the best man for the job."
"You have much to learn Padawan." Jasper said, frowning. "Like the fact that you don't speak up against a Knight or Master. You are only supposed to be seen, never heard. Did I ever suggest they put me there? NO! All I said was that the Council should come back and choose. I feel as though we're making a mistake... I talked to the Grandmaster this morning... and like I said, he couldn't remember anything. He was not in any condition to choose a new leader."
Jasper started to walk out of the room.
"If you need me, you can find me in the Lightsaber sparring room." Jasper said, coldly. "But if you don't, and you just go to bother me... then you'll pay."
Mike laughed under his mask, watching Jesper leave in his tantrum "I agree with you there, but it seems you could also do with a few lessons yourself." Once Jesper had left the room, Mike became silent as he waited for the masters to speak. He was curious about Gravinustus' reaction to his recent promotion and the winning of possession that came with it, more specifically Lady Gravinustus. He was unaware of any relationship between the two characters, and if Master Gravinustus personal feelings for either the Grandmaster or the Lady Gravinustus wouldn't prevent him accepting the role.
"Knight Vontrapar," said my Mistress, quickly recovering her composure, "you will do no such thing. Not yet. As for your suggestion that the Council hold an emergency meeting in order to select our next Grandmaster--it is quite a prudent one. The Jedi Order is founded upon honor and justice, and we do a great disservice to each Jedi if the truth is that not all have an equal voice.
"The meeting shall be held in the Council Chamber at 1900 hours this evening. I will be there in my own official capacity as Jedi Master, as will all the others who bear this rank. Gravinustus--I shall look forward to seeing and talking with you there, no matter if the title of Grandmaster shall be yours. Agreed?"
I couldn't see the expression on "Gravin's" face, but my Lady's looked as if it would implode. She had so much weight upon her, the burden of her noble husband's death and now a new Grandmaster to vote for. Not to mention the specific yet subtle clause in our bylaws that his successor would marry her...
"You may return to your breakfast; I did not mean to spoil it." A rather strained smile. "Itreya, will you serve as recorder for this meeting?" I nodded. There was no way I would miss the selection of the next head of our Order!
Jasper spun around and looked at the 'mistress'.
"Oh... so now I can't practice with my lightsaber when I want to? Well, that's new news to me." Jasper said, lightening up on his mood. "And why can't I? It's not like I'd be bothering anyone..."
Jasper sighed. "I'm sorry, mistress, this news and the... padawan have put me in a terrible mood this morning. Please forgive me."
Jasper slightly bowed to her.
"Anyone would be put into a foul mood by such news," replied my Lady, standing and walking to Knight Vontrapar's side, "and your indiscretions are more than forgiven. Thank you for putting forward such a fair solution to our present problem, by the way." Suddenly remembering something, she turned to all of us, her audience.
"The reason we were all so joyful today was to be the choosing of a new Master for the Order, and not a new Grandmaster. Since he--since my husband--since we have to select his successor on such short notice, I am sorry to say that the induction of the lower-ranking Master will have to wait. I'm not sure how soon his own ceremony will take place, just the fact that I believe we all will need a little time to cope with this...shock." A pause, and her hands trembled. "Itreya, come. We must tend to my husband's body, wash and...prepare him for the funeral." I bit my lower lip and rose.
Some people are more resilient than others when it comes to dealing with death, letting go of loved ones when they are reunited with the Force. However, I was not one of those people, and no matter how much she pretended to be otherwise, neither was my Lady. We embalmed our Grandmaster as carefully as we both could, neither of us allowing any mere droids to approach him. His funeral preparations would be done by human hands, Jedi hands. It was what he deserved, more than deserved, I thought.
Even among the whipping winds at the edge of the grass planes, he was not freed of the weight of the news of this tragedy - for, not half an hour ago, a broadcast had reached his comm. channel announcing the death of the Grandmaster. A grim expression was set on Jason's face as the harsh gusts caught at the ends of his two-toned hair, whipping them about in a vicious, enigmatic dance. He was still several klicks from the Jedi Enclave - and though it would only be an hour or so ride from where he was now, he had no desire, no pull to go to that place just yet.
Sixteen-hundred hours...that time was fast approaching, judging by the sun. It had long ago past its zenith, and was now halfway down its descent to the western horizon - and it would not be long before the Master's conclave was called to decide the newest Grandmaster. But who would that person be? Man or woman? Human or other? And, perhaps the most burning question on his mind...was he to be included in the decision? His induction ceremony had been set for that afternoon - would they deny him entrance and a voice, simply for the fact that he had not officially been given the rank of Master?
Though in all reality, there was no irking or stirring in his soul for not being given his 'rightful place' - for he knew that the decision of a new Grandmaster would be a difficult one, and he wasn't so sure that he was truly fit to have a word in it. He knew next to nothing of many of the Masters, beyond the biased opinions both he and his partners and companions over the years had formed of them. He had come to know the Grandmaster quite well in the past half a decade...but when the illness claimed him, there was no telling what would be going on in his mind from one day to the next. Some days, he was as lucid as any could believe - and then the next, he would have no recognition of his wife, his students, confidants, or even himself. If he had named a successor...
Well...there was only one way to find out, and he had spent enough time dawdling here. It was time to stop putting off his arrival - and finally just go. With a quick, deft movement, he threw his leg over the side of his swoop bike, gave it a quick kick start, and in seconds was racing off across the land.
"He doesn't look like himself," said my Lady, sadly surveying our painstaking work.
No truth was ever more plainly spoken. Our Grandmaster had always been a strong man, almost intimidating, with his round, gleaming pate framed by a circle of silver. Patrician, people called him, or statesmanlike, on the rare occasions when he spoke to the Coruscanti people at large. Now he was just old, a shell of the man he once was. Sagging wrinkles covered his gaunt face, and his body was little more than skin and bones. His illness had not only wasted his mind away, but his frame, leaving him hollow.
"I can't believe it," I said, my mouth dry. "What did he have, anyway?"
My Lady shook her head. "I don't know. If I had, would I have been able to heal him? Perhaps so, perhaps not, though the Force tells me my healing skills were never that high to begin with. Why did we all fail? If it hadn't been for us, he would have died sooner, but if we'd been stronger and more skilled, he wouldn't have died at all!"
She started to cry again, and I threw my arms around her. "Don't say that, Mistress! Remember the last tenet of our Jedi Code: There is no death; there is the Force. He is one with it now, and we should grieve, but not too much. His spirit still lives on. He will guide us through all of our troubles and tribulations. You'll see!" I smiled, trying to be cheerful and upbeat but knowing my efforts were a veil-thin disguise.
"The Force is a netherworld," she replied, "and though what you say is true, I shall miss him. I wonder what my father would have thought if he could see us now. Sir Leo Degrance, noble of Coruscant, whose daughter, the Grandmistress of the Jedi Order, could not save her frail husband from death! Father never did believe in the Force, but he believed in me, and that was all that mattered. He'd look upon me--with shame."
I gave her another long hug and tried to distract her with logistics. "What shall take place first, my Lady, the convening of the Jedi Council or the funeral? Something tells me that the meeting will, and as for the funeral? We--can attend to that later."
She smiled and nodded. "Indeed. Itreya, the meeting stands at 1900 hours, and the funeral tomorrow eve. Right at dusk, the sunset hour, as our Jedi custom dictates. Tradition ran strong with my husband, and I won't break it on account of anything. His body will be set ablaze upon the funeral pyre, and he will be released once and for all."
After a few moments of heavy silence, I asked, "Do you wish me to retire, Mistress?"
"Aye. Scrub and polish the floor of the Council Chamber, if you will. The hall-cleaning droids have been doing a poor job of it lately; I suspect they need repair." For once, a twinkle came to her eye, and she chuckled. "Ah! Such an eventful life, being the wife of the Grandmaster. All sorts of trivialities need your attention. You're dismissed!"
I went to work, leaving my Lady alone with her husband's remains, her head bowed.
Jasper's ear was leaned against the door, but he jerked away from the door as Itreya came walking out the door. He slipped into the room as she walked past him.
"Mistress? What's wrong? Do you need me to do anything?" Jasper asked. "I can fix the cleaning droids if you wish. I can help Itreya clean the Council Chambers as well. If you wish for me to."
Jasper stood, quietly, awaiting her response.
"Please help Itreya, for she does a far greater job than those droids ever could." I heard my Lady say this on my way out the door to Jasper Vontrapar, a fellow Jedi Knight. "Thank you for your offer of assistance, and if you also will--could you give me a bit more information as to how your comrades are reacting? My husband's Page, and even I, tried to give you the best debriefing that we could, but I'm not sure the mood is settled yet. It's hard to get used to death. Really, I should have seen it coming."
I was also curious as to how the rest of the Academy was taking this news. Even though we were Jedi, there was always a restless hunger that lurked within each of us. Hunger for power, for greater rank, for skill and accomplishment beyond our peers.
It was part of the reason we spent great time at combat drills and menial work, why we wore modest robes. Humility was to be our crown, not glory, unless the glory was deserved. There could be rumblings of mutiny if our fellow Jedi did not like the new Grandmaster that was chosen. Or, perhaps not mutiny, but intrigue and resentment.
"Four hands are better than two," I said to Jasper, smiling as we walked toward the Council Chamber. Once we're inside...could we discuss who he might be? "He," of course, meaning the new head of our Order. I sent this thought through the Force.
"The rest of the Order isn't taking this too lightly. I did that rash thing this morning, because... I felt several people already plotting their rise to power. Plus... the Jedi Council SHOULD be the ones to decide." Jasper said, smiling. "I had to do something... I feared that... they would each attempt something bold and wreckless. Mistress, you are first and formost... you are the most important of us all. They were debating against themselves on wether to take the dark road, and kill you... or attempt to woo you. I reccomend that you keep the Royal Guard with you at all times..." Jasper finished. "If you will excuse me, I shall be heading over to help Itreya now."
Jasper bowed slightly and started to the door. Of course... Jasper said, sending a reply message to the girl he was helping.
Gravin’s time after the unfortunate announcement of the Grandmaster’s death and his own nomination for the position was spent mainly in his standard routine. This consisted of a short breakfast, despite its special nature, followed by a long and rigorous physical training session which left him heaving and barely able to lift a glass of water. His time spent recovering from the workout was also spent reading and amassing knowledge from the growing archives of the order, adding his own information when he saw gaps. By the time he had completed these both, it was around that time to attend the quarters’ of the Padawans that he was instructing with the intention of delivering his famous pop quizzes and surprise combat tests. Today, the Padawans nearly fainted at the thought of Gravin possibly becoming Grandmaster.
Still, there was something slightly different that wasn’t too visibly noticeable. Knights threw looks at him as he walked by, and others would stare at him for a few moments when he was training or studying before he looked straight at them and they would scurry away. It was starting to irritate him when, while he was quizzing one of his students, a Knight muttered to another “Council’ll be off their rocker if they put Gravin as Grandmaster.”
Turian’s do not snap. Instead, they attack and obliterate as quickly and devastatingly as possible, wiping out all possible resistance whether it be in the battlefield or the politician’s table. Not only was the phrase spoken wrong, but it completely undermined his authority over his Padawans, making it completely unacceptable. That being said, Gravin reacted to this in the most appropriate manner.
The Master spun around to face the Knight that had spoken, his demeanor no more different than that of when he attended breakfast, and promptly walked over him. The Knight looked terrified and before it could utter a word, Gravin’s hand was wrapped around its neck and hoisting it up face-to-face with him. Gravin, his tone clear and commanding, said “If you have concerns with my nomination for Grandmaster or the methods with which I teach my students, please forward them to the Council or Grandmistress, not me as I will promptly analyze them and reject them. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
His grip was tight, but the Knight was still able to clearly reflect his understanding in the form of gibberish, which compelled Gravin to release the Knight, who also promptly scurried away. Gravin turned and walked back to the jaw-dropped Padawans behind him and stated “When you reach your statuses as Knights and Masters, do not let anyone openly question and undermine your authority of your students. It undermines their teaching and development, and nor do they have any right to. Do I make myself clear?”
They all nodded in understanding, still in shock about the whole day, and Gravin resumed his questioning. By the time he was finished, they all looked mentally exhausted and he gave them the rest day off, much to their surprise. He rarely gave them breaks or mercy when it came to training and exercise, so they were out of the area before Gravin could even consider changing his mind. Of course he had no intention to as he had a meeting with the Council tonight, and he couldn’t afford to be busy with them right before the meeting. In short, they were lucky. Judging on what he had seen of the Grandmaster position and his own preference, Gravin may not be so lucky.
Gravin preferred to keep to himself, seeing interaction with the other Masters and their pupils as more of a formality and such. However if they saw him as the best candidate, he would accept their appointment and Lady Linieva, as tradition would dictate. He would serve to the best of his ability and administer justice to its fullest extent if chosen, and make sure the Order remained stable. That was to still be decided though, and at the moment Gravin had other matters to attend to. He returned to his quarters, put on the proper attire for the occasion, and headed out to the main Council chambers, intent on arriving early.
"Do you really think they'll do it?" I asked Jasper Vontrapar as we scrubbed the Council Chamber floor. "Vote to have Master Gravinistus as our Grandmaster? I've never had much contact with him, being a student of my Lady, but rumor has it he's--harsh. Nevertheless, I have tremendous respect for him." I giggled slightly. "The Padawans I've seen and overheard sound like wounded rancors once they've finished one of his training sessions. They're so exhausted they can barely see straight. Force forbid it if the entire Order turns out to be like that after the vote!" My cheeks flushed hot.
"Anyway, I have some other theories about what the Council will and won't do when they cast their vote. As a Master herself, my Lady could vote to take her own husband's place, but she won't do that. If there's one thing Linieva Zhenevaru does not do, it's take unfair advantage of a situation, even when she sees the opportunity. She's a Jedi, and Jedi don't think that way. Since they don't, I also don't believe that Master Gravinistus will vote for himself. He doesn't seem that arrogant or selfish to me.
"Who else does that leave? No one I really know. Which makes me wonder--will the Council invite 'the new one' to this meeting, even though he hasn't been formally inducted as a Master? It would be interesting if they did, and--interesting if they didn't. With the threat of these new 'Sith', we can't really afford to slight anyone."
We were almost finished, and the floor gleamed with such a cleansing-fluid-and-wax radiance that when they arrived, the Masters would be able to see their reflections. Good. I'd certainly meant for it to be that way, as it would give them pause to reflect on what an awesome duty lay before them. Would they be able to respect themselves if they took their decisions lightly? Jasper and I stood up, proudly surveying our work.
"Someone is coming," I said quickly, motioning for Jasper to rush to the door with me.
"Master Gravinistus!" I cried, a bit startled. "Forgive us--the floor's not quite dry yet. I must change for the meeting into more proper attire. Pleasant to see you, my lord." What was this? In my nervousness, I was addressing Master Gravinistus as if he already held the title of Grandmaster and were my Lady's new husband! Feeling my cheeks turn a thousand shades of red instead of one, I sprinted down the corridor.
"Now look what you did." Jasper said to Gravinistus. "You've embarressed her just by being here."
Jasper took off after Itreya, and quickly caught up. Jasper grabbed her by the arm to slow her down.
"Listen, Itreya... don't let him bug you like that." Jasper said, trying to calm the knight down. "He's just one other master... and that's the way it will stay, until... no IF he's elected to be Grandmaster."
Jasper smiled. "If you ever need a friend... please, don't hesitate to ask me." Jasper said, pushing Itreya's hair behind her ear. "My offer will always stand, no matter the problem."
My heart slowed, if only by the tiniest of increments. "Thank you," I said, and then, "a thousand times. For helping me, and--helping me. I'm sorry my vocabulary's not very good right now, but...!" I collapsed into a fit of nervous giggles. My ear tingled. "As the official recorder of the minutes and proceedings of this meeting, I promise you'll be the first to know when the results are tallied and court is adjourned. Hopefully, all will be well and none of us will need to fear anything except the Sith when this is over."
I didn't want to return to my quarters. Not yet. Nevertheless, I could sense my Lady waiting, so I gave Jasper's hand a light squeeze and walked--no, skipped--up to the highest vestiges of our Temple, where our Grandmaster's chambers sat in grandeur.
With a shuddering, guttural growl, the bike came swerving to a stop under his skillful handling. It thrummed for several moments as Jason looked about him, taking in the curious looks of those nearby as they looked at this newcomer. As the engine died, its noise fading to silence, he saw a few of the Jedi - older Padawans, if their age had anything to say - start towards him, as if to question him, but then others nearby stopped them with a hand and few whispered words. Perhaps they had already received a holo-feed of his name and picture so that he could be identified upon arrival; they had been expecting him, after all. Or perhaps they simply thought that he had come because of the news of the Grandmaster's death. Either way - it suited him just find. He had little interest and little time to sit around and be interrogated.
He hardly hesitated before setting off into the main section of he enclave, his long legs carrying him at a brisk speed. In the fading sunlight that glittered through the long windows in the hallways, his sand-colored robes seemed to glisten almost white, fading to a richer gold at the folds where the sleeves tucked into his leather gauntlets that reached halfway up his arm, as well as the pants that tucked into his high boots. However, he noted that it wasn't his face, nor was it his robes that seemed to catch the first glance. Rather, it was the weapon and powerpack that rested on his belt. For Force sake - these people were Jedi, and they acted as if they had never seen a lightsaber before! Even so...he could hear the whispers as he passed by.
When he reached the main foyer, he glanced around for a moment, uncertain of where to go or who to speak to. Finally, he simply caught a passing man by the arm - a man who seemed of several years' his senior, if his slightly-greying beard was to mean anything. "Who can I speak to about the Masters' conclave this evening?"
((I really dunno what to do XD I'm going to guess that either the Lady will appear to answer his question, or else Tysy can take control of the NPC and point him in the right direction...))
(((Why am I always late?)))
Camevon was also intent on being early to the meeting. Having missed the earlier excitement, he was in no mind to miss any of this. The Jedi Grandmaster dead.... it was something he had not expected. Camevon was not one to feel much emotion at things, and was not bothered by change, but this - this was different. Somehow, the Grandmaster had always been an absolute. Something that would never change, that would always be constant.
Now, he felt almost lost. He knew that he was being irrational, that he had hardly known the man, but he couldn't help it. It was as if the very core of the Jedi Order had been torn apart.
He almost walked into Gravin as he entered the Council chambers, deep in his own thoughts. "Apologies," he said quickly, not looking at who it was. Camevon walked on past, and then turned and finally realized who he had just walked into. "Master Gravin," he said quietly. So they're going to choose you as Grandmaster. "How are you?" Camevon asked. He really hoped that more people would soon show - he wasn't much for small talk.
"That would be the mistress or Gravinistus." Jasper said, walking in. "Please let him go. He is rather frail and afraid, he cannot feel the Force, he is just one of our janitors."
Jasper walked up to the newcomer.
"I am Jasper Vontrapar... Jedi Knight. And you are who?" Jasper asked, then he noticed the lightsaber. "Ahhhh... about time that someone else has a lightsaber around here. You must be the one our mistress told us of. It is an honor to meet you." Jasper bowed slightly. "She is busy as of right now... she is mourning the death of her husband. Is there a anything I can do for you?"
I followed my Mistress, two steps behind her, as she approached the two males.
"The Masters' Conclave," replied an older man, "is in the Council Chamber, and it will begin promptly at 1900 hours. The Order is in a crisis, sir, one that it cannot afford to waste any time resolving. The Grandmaster of the Jedi has passed away this morn, although his body has not become completely one with the Force as of yet. Although, I am curious as to why a relative stranger such as yourself is so interested. If I recall correctly, I do not recall seeing you in the vicinity of this Temple recently."
After an awkward pause of a few millennia, my gracious Lady decided to intervene (a relief!) "Ah!", came her warbling voice, warm as butter or hearthfire. "Udon, this is Knight Jason Travestnie, the one we had been planning to induct as a Master before the...unfortunate news...came to us so suddenly. Even though he is not formally a Master, it is not his fault that my husband took to his final rest so soon. Thus, it is fully my intention to invite him to the Conclave. Come. I'll show you to the Council Chamber if you like, Knight. I am Lady Linieva Zhenevaru, now a widow, the Grandmistress of the Jedi. This is my servant and apprentice, Jedi Knight Itreya."
I bowed to the younger man, an odd sensation of fear, hope, and excitement coursing through my veins. If he would be invited to the Council meeting, could he vote? Would he be allowed to choose our next Grandmaster? Oh, if only the Force would allow it!
“I am doing well, though the adolescent and inexperienced seem to have lost their discipline.” Gravin responded to Camevon, taking a few unfocused steps towards the center of the council chamber. He wasn’t one for small talk and would prefer if the Masters would just arrive already. Not out of impatience, but it would allow him to get back to his business as usual if he wasn’t chosen. If he was, then he’d take up the responsibilities immediately.
He turned towards Camevon, no so much as expecting anything as he just was expecting the Knight to move on.
James looked surprised by the other man's appearance - as well as his claim that this man was simply a janitor. A sheepish expression took the place of the hard-set determination that had harbored his features only a moment before. "My apologies," he said, his smile faint and rather embarrassed. Oi, it had been a while since he had been here...
Releasing the janitor, he had been about to respond to both men when a third voice piped up - and he turned immediately to find Lady Linieva herself standing before them. As she addressed him, he immediately closed his arms to his sides and bowed from the waist. "Milady," he said before straightening. "It is an honor to finally meet you." All of the stories that he had heard of this woman, the wife of the Grandmaster and one of few women to hold any true rank in the Jedi Order, appeared to be quite true. Decisive but kind, this beautiful woman seemed to be every inch the leader that her rank called for her to be. He inclined his head to the girl beside her, in acknowledgment of her bow. Her words seemed to echo in his head. "I am to take part in the meeting, then?" he verified, a new weight settling into his stomach. "Very well then - if you could lead me to the Council Chambers..."
((Gah! I can't keep up with you guys - I get half a post finished, and there are already another two in place XD))
"Right away, Knight," replied my Mistress, yet before she turned to leave, she gazed at my white robes, half-soaked with soapy water and sticky wax. "My goodness, Itreya!" She stifled a giggle. "You certainly put some elbow grease into your work scrubbing the Council Chamber floor. Don't be chagrined, my dear--I wouldn't have it any other way. Go and change, preferably into your silver ones for the meeting. After this, we'll all wear gray...gray being our funereal color. We'll wear it for three full days after my husband's funeral pyre is lit. Then, a wedding, an induction, and the claiming of the Order by its new Grandmaster!" She sighed. "It's certainly been a busy day."
I went to our mutual quarters, washed with fragrant soap (after all, cleaning floors is sweaty work!) and changed. My silver robes, I felt, would be too gaudy, so I settled for medium beige. Simple yet tasteful, a reflection of my modest duty as recorder. I thought about what my Lady had said about grey, not black, being our color for funerals. It seemed the Sith had lain claim to black as their standard, their banner. We would not wear it, not even for the most somber of occasions. I brushed back a tear.
"Our Grandmaster's dead," I mumbled softly, "but will the Jedi Order die with him?"
Not if the Masters had anything to say about it. I trudged to the Council Chamber.
1900 hours had never come so quickly, nor my heart ever beat as such...
"Greetings, Masters of the Jedi Order. As the widow of my late husband, the Grandmaster, I now call this meeting to order. Who is present tonight?" My Lady did this as a matter of course, as a "roll call". "Behind these closed doors, our dealings are private, so you need have no fear of premature revelation of our decisions. State your names, Masters, with boldness..."
(OOC: Sorry, ForceFight! I'll try to slow down a little. :))
The way to the Council Chambers was a silent one, James having nothing to say and the Lady occupied with thoughts of all that was to happen in the coming days. Her husband was dead - the Grandmaster was dead - and from the looks of things, such an event might all but stop the workings of the Jedi Order for the next several days. Whether that would end up being for the better or for the worse, the young, unofficial Master had little idea.
But what thoughts turned his mind with a far more immediate sense of trouble was the upcoming meeting. He had had mixed feelings about it - hoping to be accepted, cementing his rite until the ceremony itself could take place, and at the same time, hoping that they would decide to exclude him - for, as one so new to this higher echelon, he had little clue about the inner workings of the Masters and so felt as if he could hardly make an accurate decision. He was certain that the Grandmaster had named an 'heir' of sorts - but with the fleeting fits of delirium he had suffered towards the end of his sickness, James wasn't entirely sure that the man would have been in the right state of mind to announce such a thing. Could he trust the rulings of the Grandmaster? Or should he listen to the debate in the Chambers before deciding? Perhaps, he should simply go on what is own gut was to tell him - or better yet, he shouldn't vote at all.
After several minutes of silent walking, he finally lifted his eyes from the examination of the surroundings to the woman who strode beside him. "If you would allow it, Lady Zhenevaru, I would like to offer my condolences." he said, quite formally. His hands were clasped behind his back in stark military fashion, even as he walked. "The Grandmaster was a great man and a fantastic teacher - I know his lost must come at a great price, both to you and those around you."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This was a Masters' conclave - could he introduce himself as anything but? "Master James Travestnie." he announced, clearly and bold as you like. Just because he was the 'new kid' didn't mean he was going to be quiet and reserved until someone showed him the way. He would learn as he went along.
I noticed my Mistress smiling slightly at the young man. "Master Travestnie has not yet been fully inducted as such, but that is no fault of his. With the news of my husband's death, we have not had time to do so in the chaos that befell us. I expect that you all will welcome him with open arms, and I intend to let him vote at tonight's meeting if he so chooses." She glanced toward him. "Do you wish it, or would you rather recuse yourself, this being short notice?" She folded her hands in front of her.
"I also thank you for your condolences. My husband...was indeed great."
The words with which he was going to respond were on his tongue for half a moment before another thought occurred, and he promptly swallowed them. A short moment of silence followed as he debated with himself. "I think I shall look on for a time before coming to that decision, if you have no objection." he answered carefully. He wasn't about to completely sign himself off from this, regardless of the confidence - or lack thereof - he felt at the moment.
"Very well. Who else is here?" continued my Lady, glancing at the crowd in the room and then toward me. I quickly wrote (or rather scribbled) each Master's name down on a pad of high-quality paper, thick and specifically milled for official documents:
"Master Bennok, Human male, is hereby present."
"Master Candrith, Human female--present."
"Ut gik oogle plat gurk ik." Quarren male. Master Zaquesh, if I recalled correctly!
The list continued, and I struggled to keep up. Who knew the Order had so many Masters already?
Jasper slipped into the room, using the stealth generator equipped at his waist... but he stayed by the door, in case he needed to slip out quickly.
What the- how many masters are there in the Order? Jasper asked himself. And since when is the Council so huge? The archives show of no more than 9 ever on the Council... or at least, no more than 9 ever attended a meeting, but it looks like there are more than 20 in the room. Man, I would hate to be stuck over there with them... I'd be discovered. Looks like a bit of a tight squeeze in here...
Jasper looked at Itreya's face and then at her hands, which were furiously scribbling all over the page. Jasper stifled a laugh, to prevent the masters of knowing that he was there. This outa be interesting. Jasper said to himself, smiling.
Master Onuu walked swiftly down the corridors of the jedi enclave, he had just arrived back from a mission. He was unaware of his uncle's death, and he had just been told of the Council meeting, though he thought it was the indoctrination of the new master, which he had arrived for in the first place. He didn't comprehend the fact that it was to elect a new Grandmaster. Though he had a a grim look on his face, he had felt something through the force, like someone reaching into his body with great force and tearing an organ out. He knew something terrible had occurred, he just didn't know what.
Onuu looked around quizzically, many of the padawans and knights were giving him weird looks, many were that of pity, and sorrow, some were even distraught, and angry. What was going on?
Two highly seasoned Jedi Knights stood at the Council Chamber doors, which were securely closed. Around in the hall it was empty except for the Royal Guards, who stood more motionless than statues.
"No one is allowed into the Council Chambers at the moment," one of the knights piped up as Onuu approached.
"I have business Jedi Knight Kaviss," Onuu said very forcefully, speaking the name of the knight who had spoken. And almost as if the man had just received his sight he recognized Onuu, "a thousand pardons master, I didn't realize it was you, please enter."
Onuu stepped forward and began to enter but was stopped by Jedi Knight Kaviss. "I'm so sorry for you Master Onuu, I wish you the best, I know it must be hard on you," the knight said with a great weight of sorrow in his voice.
Onuu gave him a funny, but confused look, "Uh, sure, making decisions like these are real tough." Onuu didn't quite realize the actual situation going on behind the Council Room doors. Onuu entered regardless, and paused as a huge wave of emotions hit him, yet, more or less, they were all the same one, grief.
Many of the masters looked at him, and almost all of them gave him the same looks he had been receiving from everyone else. He could only guess it was because of his attire, he wasn't exactly dressed for the occasion after all. He was wearing high leather boots his baggy tan colored pants had the pant-legs tucked into the them. He had a grey shoulder cloak which covered most of his left side as it came down from a small metal pauldron that was etched with many designs. His chest was covered with an iron-like metal material that had brown and red splotches all over it, giving it the appeal of rusting armor. Running diagonally across this was a bandoleer belt that came from his left shoulder pauldron, and connected to his brown leathery belt which had his lightsaber and powerpack visibly protruding from it. On top of all of this he wore a large, old, and rustic collared fur "cape", which looked like it belonged in a museum.
But that was only the half of it, he was hardly clean after all. His clothes were caked and padded with everything: Dirt, mud, dust, sand, food stains, and above all, blood stains, which were on every inch of his garments, as if he'd just gotten back from slaughtering a horde of nerfs.
He did however feel great waves of burden and stress washing over him from everyone, and he didn't understand, especially because the strongest waves were rolling off of the Grandmistress, whom was usually the calmest in any situation. So obviously this baffled him.
Onuu looked around for a moment, and then spoke, "Uh, sorry I'm late."
And that was all. With that he took his seat next to Senior Master 'Gravin' and waited quietly for the meeting to either proceed, or for someone to fill him in, or if worst came to worst, one or more of the masters giving him scrutiny.
With the roll call finished, my Lady motioned for me to sit down, and I did so. She then turned to the throng before her, dozens of Masters upon Masters crowded into the Council Chamber like so many robe-clad gizka. Her gaze was tender yet sorrowful.
"I do not wish to rush this decision," she began, "and yet it almost seems as if I must. These 'Sith,' as they call themselves, the followers of the Dark Side of the Force, wait for no funeral to occur before they strike. If our latest intelligence reports are true, the day will soon arrive when their numbers are at least equal to ours. We will not let that stand. We will never...As for me, I'm all right, yet still shaken. My husband's death was sudden, though I believe I should have seen it coming. Severinus--had been ill for quite some time, and not in his right mind some days and moments. Our medics tried the best they could to heal him, along with myself and other Jedi, but our efforts were too weak. What was this disease he had? To this day, none of us know.
"Let us bow our heads in remembrance of our Grandmaster, the head of this sacred Order. Let us also recite the Jedi Code in honor of his leadership."
Slowly, we lowered our faces and shoulders and then called out in unison:
"There is no emotion; there is peace.
"There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
"There is no passion; there is serenity.
"There is no death; there is the Force."
As I said these words, I shuddered with sobs, biting my lip in order to keep silent. I believed this last part of the Code with all my heart; therefore, why was I so uneasy that the Force had not claimed him yet? Surely it would...
Once we lifted our eyes to the podium where my Mistress spoke, she said:
"My husband would have wished for Council business, and the daily routines of the Jedi, to continue as soon as possible after his passing. Having said so, his funeral pyre shall be lit tomorrow at dusk. Remember to wear your grey robes and cloaks for this solemn occasion, and for three days afterward. Then there will be an induction of our new Grandmaster--and a wedding!"
I saw the Lady smile, and even though it was through tears, it was genuine.
"We have gathered to decide this very subject: who will lead our Order now? All Masters of the Jedi may cast votes and put forward nominations. I thusly nominate--not myself, for I know I'm not fit to take Severinus' place--the Jedi Master Gravinustus, for his most disciplined and exemplary leadership of Padawans and Knights alike. He is my choice for Grandmaster. Who is yours?"
Master Candrith spoke next. "Master Dinadan, for his prowess in combat."
"I nominate Candrith," said another, "for her deep knowledge of the Force."
The Quarren--after a translator interpreted his speech--nominated Zhar.
Someone said--and I forget who, for he blurted it out--"I vote Travestnie. Let us see how this new Master leads us, for his reputation precedes him!"
Sniffs and uncomfortable coughs followed. My. This was a development...
It was a tennis match, it seemed - from one face to another, his gaze bounced without settling for hardly more than a moment. Sitting back in his chair, he steepled his fingers, looking over his gloved hands at the rest of the Masters present. Nominations of men and women that he had only ever heard stories of, only one or two of them that he actually had met face-to-face. He had become acquainted with Master Gravin before he had left the Temple all those years ago - but beyond that, he knew very little about him, other than what he had gathered from the tales of others. Stories of each name, perhaps a face, but little more...
Such was the speed of each announcement that, when he heard his name shouted from the rabble, he could not find the speaker. His head snapped almost instantly in that direction - and yet, Jason could find no source. He set his teeth slightly, expecting an almost immediate negation...but none came. The room fell silent, with almost every person's eyes on him. They were...waiting on him, then?
Sitting forward, he rested his elbows on his knees, and shook his head. "I can't accept that nomination." he said, flatly and quickly. "Perhaps I've shown myself worthy of the title of Master - but there is still much for me to do and learn. I can't possibly find myself to be ready to take on such a position as the Grandmaster." A quick decision, a flight of words that he hadn't given full thought about - but as he sat back in his chair, his eyes flicking first to the Lady's and then to Gravin's, he said, "And that being said...I second the nomination for Master Gravinustus."
"Very well, then," replied my Lady, not averting her gaze from Knight Travestnie for one single moment. It struck me how liquid-blue her eyes were, how transparent and yet how opaque. Was she disappointed in him? Proud? Neutral? I couldn't tell.
"As it stands right now, the nomination for Master Gravinustus has been moved and seconded. There are also votes for Master Candrith, Master Zhar, Master Dinadan, Master Uther, and Master Ondaga. However, none of the others have received an official seconding. Has everyone cast their vote, Itreya?" she asked me. I nodded.
"Is there anyone who would like to speak before the nomination is final?" she queried.
"Not that my opinion matters in this, but... I agree with Jason." Jasper said, deactivating his stealth belt. "Although... I do have to say that I would find it quite amusing if Jason were to be the elected leader."
Jason walked to the mistress.
"Mistress... please forgive me for eavesdropping on your meeting, but I was quite curious as to how this would turn out... plus, you let Itreya in. And I promised that I would always be there for her." Jasper said, glancing over at the other knight. "My actions at breakfast were only to see if Master Gavin would be that of the popular vote... until now, I wasn't completely sure he could do the job. With two masters wanting Gavin, I see now that it could be that he would make a great leader. As I have already stated, my opinion matters little in this, but... I have always been one to voice my opinions, wether they are heard or not. But should it matter, I would ask that we vote for Gavin... he has proven his worth."
Jasper bowed slightly towards the mistress. "I am sorry for intruding, and I will leave... unless you want to punish me."
Camevon drew his breath in sharply. What was that? He scowled. Jasper was a fool - always wanting to make grand entrances to scenes, even in the middle of council meetings. No discretion. Who asked his opnion anyway? Jason would have made as good a Grandmaster as any.
Regaining his composure, he leaned back, his hands still on the door that he just had his ear to. He forced his mind back to the issue at hand. They had nominated his Master.... and he had not accepted. What are you doing? You could be the next Grandmaster.
He gritted his teeth remembering the last few words. "And that being said...I second the nomination for Master Gravinustus." There it was. Travestnie was giving his nomination away, just to support Gravin. Though he struggled, Camevon could not for the life of him understand his Master's refusal.
Cam reached out with the force, trying to pinpoint that voice that had shouted his Master's name. Nothing. He dared not exert his energy any further without alerting those inside to his eavesdropping. It's done, then. Now, there will be nothing to stop Gravin from becoming the new Master.
Fool! He almost shouted, feeling the frustration build unexpectedly. Why refuse the nomination? Cam felt unnerved at the sudden loss of control inside him.
I saw my Lady stumble backward one step and catch her breath. "Goodness! You've given me quite a fright, Knight Vontrapar, and I would appreciate it if next time you would ask before attempting something such as this. Stealth is a skill that is best applied in serving the Jedi, not in eavesdropping upon them," she announced. "This is not only a breach of rank, but a matter of breaching security as well. However, I do understand your reasoning for doing so, and thus your punishment shall be a light one.
"You shall test your combat skills against Master Gravinustus after this meeting is concluded, whether or not he is voted into a new title and position. The sparring duel shall take place in this very Chamber. All of us shall watch and critique your skills. If you are found wanting or weak in some area, then Gravinustus shall remedy this."
I gasped. Not that I believed Jasper couldn't handle himself, but as for "Gravin"...
"Do you accept this punishment, this gauntlet which I have thrown down for you?"
"I do Mistress." Jasper said. "However... I am dressed poorly, plus I am sopping wet from helping Itreya... if you would allow, I would like to change into a new clean set of robes."
Jasper bowed again to the Mistress, then turned to Gavin.
"I look forward to sparring with you..." Jasper said, then he turned to Itreya.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"I--I didn't know you were in here," I stammered quickly, blushing again. "I seem to have forgotten the words to say when I...see...something that disquiets me. Jasper--he will own you. Gravinustus is no fool, and neither is he a runt in combat. Even when he spars, I hear he pursues his opponent with a single-minded focus that neither inner nor outer distractions can disrupt. Ask for another punishment. I wish--I don't wish to see you disgraced." I looked down at my folded hands. "You're too good."
Had I really said that? Yes, I had, and I glanced around at the other Masters, whose mouths were agape. Most of them looked puzzled or shocked, although a few were angry. "What the Force?!" cried one, a Master Uther, who'd been nominated. "My noble Grandmistress, my Lady! Since when do we deal with such disrespect for rank and knowledge by sparring duels? Such whelps have been demoted in past years!"
"Make him a Padawan," suggested Candrith. "It's not as harsh as what we could do."
"Oh, come now!" scoffed Master Zhar, a young Twi-lek, perhaps a bit too young to have attained such a high rank so early. "Let the two duel, and if Gravinustus wins, then let him decide what he'll do to the upstart. I want to see how well they spar."
"Gravinustus?" asked my Mistress. "What say you? Will you duel Knight Vontrapar? Let us not act in anger or in a spirit of punishment, but a desire to learn and teach. We are Jedi, after all, not warring Mandalorian raiders intent on settling a petty grudge."
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