SW: TOR: PAINFUL LESSONS
Part Five of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
(Author's Note: Thank you again to machievelli and Sithspecter for reviewing my last installment. I assure you that this one's longer than the previous one...)
Tamara and I whirled around to see exactly what, or who, had snatched our lightsabers from our trembling hands. To our horror, we lay eyes upon Masters Yun and
Karos. One, light-skinned and male, had folded his arms across his chest. The other one, female with a smooth cocoa complexion, stood at the edge of the sprawling mat in the Training Room. Her hands were planted on her hips. Both senior Jedi were glaring at us fiercely. This would not end well for either Tamara or me.
"What's going on here, Padawan?" asked Master Karos. "Would you care to explain, or shall I do it for you? I have my own suspicions." She had always been more blunt than Yun. That was her personal style, and it had complemented Tamara well up until now...
"Padawan Yllari and I were engaged in a sparring match," my rival answered.
"With real lightsabers? You could have killed
her, and vice-versa. Is that what you intended, Tamara? Speak!" Master Karos' student remained silent, gazing down at the floor. "All right, then. Since you won't open your mouth, I'll open mine. You've held a grudge against Master Yun's Padawan since you first started studying with her as a Youngling. Do you deny it?" When Tamara shook her head, standing like a statue, her Master continued: "You're jealous that she's more advanced than you in combat, and
more mature. What's your side of the story, Yllari?"
I took a deep breath. Was I supposed to quiver so much when I exhaled?
"It's true that we were sparring," I began slowly. "As for--forgoing the mandatory training blades, which only give off a relatively dull aura of heat instead of lethal energy--I was hesitant. More
than hesitant. I was dead-set against it at first, until I remembered something."
"What was it?" asked Master Yun. Unlike Karos, he didn't try to put words in my mouth.
"Perhaps we need
to practice with real sabers if we're going to war with the Sith." What kind of mealy-mouthed mush was dribbling from between my lips at the moment?! It was Tamara who had insisted that we duel with our actual weapons. Inexplicably, here I was trying to defend her--to claim her idea as mine! Only a moment ago, I'd wanted her to lose the match and be punished, but now? In her stance, I saw fear instead of stoic strength, and shame instead of confidence in her eyes. Tamara was losing face, and we both knew it. Would she resent me for trying to help?
"That will come in time," Master Yun hissed, trying to clench his anger between his teeth. "For now, however, you're saying it was your
intention to 'spar' using the peaceful yet deadly tools of a Jedi?" He snorted. "I don't believe it."
Tamara dared to look up, but still could not summon the courage to face either Master's harsh gaze. "You shouldn't, Master Yun," she explained. "It's my fault. I sincerely believed I could beat Per'dra--er, Padawan Yllari--through using my official lightsaber, upgraded with a fresh and powerful focus crystal. However, I could not, though I came close. She has suggested that the source of my new strength is tainted. Meaning, the crystal is. Could that be true?"
Master Yun blinked. "Perhaps. That's what she and I have been trying to find out..."
"Even if so," countered Master Karos, "a focus crystal is only attuned
to the inner nature of its user. That means, Tamara, that although it may be contaminated by the power of the Dark Side, it's also been magnifying your own aggression. I've warned you time and again that peace is the way of a Jedi, and war is the way of a Sith. It's natural and even beneficial to want to win a fight, but in this unfair way?" She shook her head. "Come here."
Tamara did not hesitate to obey. This had been drilled into us since we were Younglings: that if a Master called, you listened. Even the most wise and skilled of Padawans heeded their teachers. Karos pulled out a thick barrette from the right pocket of her tunic and began to braid my fellow student's tresses. My stomach did a sudden flip. Tamara loves her hair! She's been growing it out ever since we were little! Please don't do what I think you will. You're a Master. Be reasonable...
Once Master Karos had finished the braid, she pulled it tight and picked up a training saber that had been cast aside by another sparring Jedi hopeful. "I'll show you how powerful a dulled blade is," she announced calmly. "As I said, you and Padawan Yllari were endangering one another's lives by what you did. Whether your focus crystal was tainted or not, you've still admitted to being the attacker here. Thus, I must teach you this lesson. It won't hurt, but I think it shall be painful nonetheless." Without another word, she sliced off Tamara's long plait.
I slapped my hand over my mouth. My fellow Padawan's eyes were squinted shut as tightly as if she were about to receive a punch or kick. As she felt her braid being severed, she gave a moan, her lips scrunched into a tight line. Master Karos then turned to leave the Training Room, with the queue dangling from her right hand. Tamara raced after her, stammering "No, no, no!" Their footsteps echoed down the hallway, reverberating off the tiled marble. I remained in silence.
Master Yun stepped toward me and knelt down. "Padawan? Were you only trying to defend yourself from Tamara's attacks when you used your real lightsaber?"
"Did you try to dissuade Tamara from fighting with her own true weapon?"
"Of course, but she said that I was too scared." My right temple was throbbing hotly.
He paused, letting his expression sink in. "Would you say that you won this match?"
"What? There was no winner here. Both of us were being foolish."
"True," my elder replied, "but I sense the aftermath of victory in you. Come. Let me show you what a victor does..." I followed him down a separate hallway, one that seemed familiar under these circumstances. Then I gave a start. The medbay!
Qyzen Fess lay asleep, unmoving. Turning to me, Master Yun asked, "Do you know what our medical droids have utterly neglected to do? They've certainly taken good care of his forearm." Indeed they had, but I nearly gagged. The Trandoshan was still filthy from battle!
"I can't believe
they didn't clean him up yet," I murmured. "Stupid tin cans..."
"You can rectify this. As you tend to him, ask yourself: 'What is the task of a winner'?"
"Wait--!" No answer came from Master Yun. He had vanished as quickly as we'd both arrived. There was nothing left to do but ask for a large basin of warm water, mixed with hypoallergenic cleansing fluid. Setting myself to the task, I sponged him off with a soft cloth, making sure to scrub his reptilian scales gently but thoroughly. Qyzen stirred a bit, opening the one eye he still had.
Through his sedation (heavy) and pain (heavier), I heard him ask "Hmm?"
"Shhh," I said softly. "It's the Padawan. No one's washed you, not even the droids."
When Qyzen continued to look confused, I whispered, "I've come because a winner serves those who have lost..."
He bared his teeth slightly, then gave a slow nod.