Two hours later
I will say this...Shiyra thought as she followed the cathar, I don't think Mical will be able to find us down here, not with the amount of life down here. I can barely sense Juhani and she's only a few feet away from me.
The cathar woman looked over at Shiyra and motioned for her to walk with her rather than behind her. "You must be careful down here." Juhani said as she stepped over a root, "There are many dangerous predators down here and many of them are difficult to sense."
Shiyra almost tripped over the same root that Juhani had stepped over. "Why are the predators so hard to sense? I know that this place is teeming with life but I can barely sense you let alone most of the animal life."
Juhani stopped for a moment as a small animal dropped down from a tree branch and landed in front of them. It made an inquisitive chirrping sound and than jumped up on Juhani's shoulders. The cathar smiled. "At one point, there was an ancient darkside artifact here, it has long since been destroyed but I believe that it affected the local wildlife's evolution."
Shiyra looked at the giant trees that surrounded them and then looked at the animal that was looking back at her from Juhani's shoulders. "If I may ask...what is that on your shoulder? Is it dangerous?"
Juhani smiled and brought her hand up and scratched the animal behind the ears. "This is called a tach and they are not dangerous. After living here for years a few of them have grown to enjoy my presence. I must admit, I've grown quite fond of the creatures. A...friend of mine doesn't feel the same way. He's always trying to keep the tach out of his garden."
A friend...interesting. "This friend of yours...are we going to meet him?"
"Yes we are, as soon as he returns from the village with Mission, your child and Zaalbar."
Shiyra stopped dead in her tracks and Juhani stopped as well. Shiyra narrowed her eyes and pulled her lightsaber off her belt but didn't ignite it. "Tell me...how do you know Mission and Zaalbar? And how do you know about my baby?"
Juhani turned around and held up her hands to show that she meant no harm towards any of them. "You might be suprised to hear this, but back during the jedi civil war I traveled with them. In fact, I was with them when we managed to defeat Darth Malak. As for the baby...well, I didn't know. Not until I sensed the dark presence that was following you. As soon as I sensed it, I headed for the upper levels. Once I reached the upper levels I was able to sense my old friends and your chld."
Shiyra returned her saber to her belt and motioned for Juhani to keep walking. "This friend of yours...how long have you known him?"
Juhani smiled and continued walking. "I've known him for nearly six years. Before I met him, he'd been living here for many years."
"How many years? And if everything down here is so hard to sense how has he managed to stay alive?"
"I'm not sure how many years he's been living here but I believe that the animals down here got used to him."
Shiyra was about to respond when she heard a familiar voice echo through the woods. "-can't believe that your still living here old man! I thought that you left Kashyyk once we took down Malak."
A male voice answered back. "I didn't exactly come back to Kashyyk with a smile, Mission. Something was hunting the jedi and we had no choice but to hide. And what better place is there to hide then Kashyyk? The amount of life here masked our force signatures. And we hit one of those giant trees on our way down so our ship was wrecked so we were stuck here.. We've been here for nearly six years, living in the shadowlands."
Shiyra finally got a look at the mysterious man who was speaking with Mission. It was an old dark skinned man who was bald with a greying beard. Shiyra looked at him for a moment before seeing that he was the one holding Ariana.
Shiyra ran over and grabbed the baby out of the old man's hands and than lowered her guard as she saw Mission and Zaalbar behind him. The old man let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks for taking the kid. She seems to think it's fun to pull on an old man's beard," he said as he rubbed the spot where a small chunk of it seemed to be missing.
Mission and Zaalbar looked over at Shiyra and than looked over at the cathar and their jaws dropped.
"JUHANI!" Mission shouted happily and ran over to the cathar while Zaalbar watched with an expression of joy on his face. The twi'lek ran over to Juhani who was smiling and pulled her into a hug.
"We thought you were dead juhani! We thought you died with the rest of the jedi who went to Katarr!"
"I was lucky." Juahni said quietly. "Or rather I was unlucky. I was out on a mission at the time but...I felt them all die. I realized that something was killing us and so instead of returning I hid."
She looked over at the old man and smiled again. "I was trying to find a place that could mask my force signature when I ran into Jolee on Manaan."
The cathar looked up into the trees just as Shiyra did as they both felt a spark of a familiar dark presence.
"I think it would be a good idea if we went to Jolee's hut for the time being." Juhani said. "I think that the one who attacked you earlier is begining to awaken. As long as we're in the shadowlands we should be safe unless he knows exactly where to look."
Jolee moved towards his hut and opened the door and motioned for everyone to get inside. "It might be a tight fit but Juhani's right. Besides, it's almost dark and the big predators like to hunt at night. If we're lucky, those beasts will keep your attacker from looking in the shadowlands for awhile."
Mical slowly awakened to pain. The last thing that he remembered was attacking the exile and then being attacked by another force-user. He slowly managed to get to his feet and then collapsed as he felt his leg fall out from under him.
That force-user...she will pay dearly for this. My leg must have been broken when I hit the tree.
Mical knew that in his current condition he would be no match for the exile or her mysterious ally. He looked down and then looked at a piece of the railing that was connecting the tree limb to the walkway. He smiled darkly as he began to crawl across.
As he crawled across he couldn't but think of what was going wrong. He had no trouble tracking the exile but everytime he got close to finally finishing her off she always managed to escape.
Is it possible that she is simply stronger than me? What is it about her that allows her to escape.
The answer came to him instantly as he thought of their past battles.