Five heroes discover a hidden tomb after rescuing their Twi'lek scout from the clutches of his former master, Bal Jaset. After defeating two vornkrs they uncover several artifacts hidden in a sarcophagus: A Force Pike, 1,000 pieces of gold coins of alien manufacter, and most disturbing of all--2 Sith holocrons. (See the previous adventure Vendetta on Vilhon posted on 17 March 09).
It seems the only thing to do now is to pack-up the treasures and return to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. However, no one said the life of a Jedi--or of any of their friends was easy...
CAST FROM THE PUYALLUP WARGAMERS:
Adrian as: Ewan, human Jedi Padawan
Ted as: Niht Genga, Twi'Lek Scout
Seth as: The Gamemaster
Other party members:
Lacto Ovo, Mon Calamari Padawan;
Took Ilo Donin, Kel Dor Technician; and
Bail, Human Scout
While Lacto and Bail are gathering-up the treasure, Ewan and Niht are examing the glyphs carved into the side of the sarcophogus.
"We're heading back to the technical," rasps Lacto. (The "technical" is their armed aircar acquired in a previous adventure).
Still absorbed with examining the glyphs Ewan murmurs, "Be up in a minute."
As soon as Lacto and Bail leave the chamber a stone slab rumbles down the entry with a resounding "crash!" Igniting his lightsaber, Ewan rushes to the blocked doorway. A loud, continuous hiss abruptly brings the Jedi to a halt. Scanning the chamber, Ewan realizes the sound is coming from all around them.
Niht goes into a coughing fit. "Gas!" He manages to sputter. As Niht fights for breath, Ewan's comlink crackles to life.
"Ewan--ssch!--Lacto--ssch!--all right? What's--ssch!"
The trapped Jedi tries to respond but is now only receiving incessant static. Searching to find better reception, he spots a hole in the ceiling only 3 meters above them.
"Niht! Here! We can get out this way!" He points to the ceiling and brings the Twi'Lek near the opening. Closing his eyes, Ewan summons the power of the Force and swiftly jumps up through the hole. Peering down through the hole, he waves and urges Niht to follow him. "Come on!"
Niht tries to make the jump but falls flat on his back. "Can't!" He gasps and lapses into another coughing fit. "Got rope?"
"No." Ewan steps back and once again closes his eyes. "Something better."
When Niht stands up, the surrounding air molecules seem to solidify and slowly lift him up. Despite the danger, Niht instinctively tries to touch the floor as he rises towards the ceiling.
"Ow! Ouch! Ow! Through the hole please!"
Niht emerges through the hole with his arms crossed, fixing the Jedi with a baleful stare. "You need practice."
"Would you prefer it back down in the tomb?"
The air around Niht loosens its grip causing the Twi'Lek to drop several centimeters. "Whoa! No! I fine here!" He shouts as he scrambles out and away from the hole on all fours. After clearing his lungs of the last of the poison gas, Niht stands up and looks around. "So, vere are vee?"
"Somewhere in between the first and second level, I think," Ewan says. "But this tunnel goes in the opposite direction from the entrance."
"Hmm. Maybe come out other side of hill?"
The pair are at the termination point of a dead-end tunnel, wide enough for both of them to walk side-by-side. The only course open to them is to the west, where dim light filters into the far end of the passagway. Activating their glow wands they follow the tunnel hoping it will lead them to the surface.
They are greeted by a deep, unremitting growl as they approach an intersection. Nit peeks around the corner to the south and spots a vornrskr with raised hackles staring in his direction. Niht soon discerns other sounds--yapping from two tiny pups.
Niht steps back from the corner. "Shh. Momma Vornskr guarding her young."
Ewan nods and carefully glances around the north corner. "This is a dead end."
"Yah. So is south tunnel vhere momma made her lair. Looks like vee go vest. Now follow me and do as I do. Be careful, vee don't need to fight momma like vee did de last two."
Following Niht's lead, they assume a non-threatening posture and carefully walk through the intersection. Mother Vornskr's growls intensify and she stands her ground but she doesn't attack.
Both breath a sigh of relief as they pass the intersection. They continue west and enter another chamber similar to the one they evacuated. In the center lies a pedestal topped by a small, cubic, humanoid statue. The idol is adorned with several pieces of rough cloth, like a miniature robes. Surrounding the pedestal lay 10 alien skeletons.
"Is booby-trapped?" Asks Niht, nodding towards the pedestal.
"I don't think so," says Ewan while looking down at the bones. "There's no uniform pattern where the skeletons are laid. A trap would activate at about the same distance away from the pedestal."
"Mmm. Maybe. After last chamber, I not so sure."
The accidental explorers spend a considerable amount of time searching for traps. They notice glyphs on the pedestal identical to the ones on the sarcophagus. Looking around they notice similar, but more primative markings carved on the walls and stalagmites of the chamber. Taking out his holocorder, Ewan scans the cave to record their findings.
Once Ewan's finished with the cursory scan, they approach the pedestal. Niht carefully removes the first of the miniature robes and turns it over. "Is map!"
"Of what?" Ewan focuses the holocorder on their latest discovery.
"Mmm. I tink its a map of dis island."
"Are you sure? It doesn't look like an island. Where are the lakes?" (Ewan's refering to the island's geological oddity--the perfectly circular lakes).
Niht runs a finger across the map's center. "I tink so. Look, here's Waena Kualapa."
Ewan nods as he recognizes the central ridge where they fought Bal Jaset and his henchmen just the other day.
Niht explains: "Here's temple--vait. Dere's a mark, like ink-stain, vhere vee are now. And here! Identical mark of to de vest. Hmm. Looks like about 100 kilometers from here. Map shows it as dry land. But is now under vater. Another temple maybe?"
Niht then considers Ewan's question, "I don't know about de lakes. Bal's family bought de island many years ago. No one knows any ting about de lakes."
"Hmm. Maybe the xeno-archeologists back at the Jedi Temple will know something about this and the statue."
"Vee take statue?"
"Vait." Niht bends down, picks up a pebble and tosses it at the statue. It rebounds off the figure with a tiny "plink!" Nit shrugs, closes his eyes and places both hands on the idol. After a second or two he opens one eye to find Ewan standing in front of him with his arms folded across his chest. "Is okay?"
"Apparently. Now why don't you carry it along with the map. The tunnel resumes over there on the west side of this chamber and I think the light's getting brighter. Let's go."
As Niht puts the artifacts into his pack, they pick their way around the alien skeletons and head towards the tunnel. They can still walk side by side in this section of the passageway which starts to lead upward. A minute later though, they come to a T-section, where another tunnel leads south. Ewan falters.
Niht grabs the swooning Jedi. "Vhat's wrong?"
"I'm, I'm alright." Ewan shakes his head and rubs his eyes as if to clear his vision. "I feel an ongoing disturbance in the Force coming from that direction," he says nodding at the south tunnel.
Niht remains silent for a moment and then asks, "Does--dis mean vee go look?"
"I'm a Jedi. I'm under oath to investigate any anomalies in the Force, especially ones caused by the Darkside."
They travel down the tunnel and notice the cave walls are bathed in a reddish light. Rounding a slight turn they discover another natural chamber. This one however glows in vivid red light. This light comes from what appear to be hundreds--possibly thousands--of jagged, red crystals imbedded in the walls and ceiling of the cave.
Still gazing around in wonder, Nit mutters out of the corner of his mouth, "Dis de place?"
Ewan merely nods. After a moment the Jedi shakes himself out of his reverie and glares at the far wall. "I'm going to take one of these crystals, for the--ah--Jedi Council to--ah--examine." As Ewan nears the wall he discovers the crystals make a faint humming noise as he approaches.
"Hmm. Hokay." Niht continues to gawk at the ceiling until he's startled by the flash and hum of Ewan's activated lightsaber. "Is dat good idea?"
Ewan turns and faces the Twi'Lek scout with a cocky smirk.
Are his eyes red? Niht asks himself in silent alarm. No. Must be reflection from crystals.
"Besides," Ewan continues as he casually swings his lightsaber, "I'm a Jedi, what could possibly go..."
As the glowing power blade strikes a fist-sized crystal, the energy-beam sputters then vanishes.
Ewan steps back to examine his weapon and is surprised when it reactivates on its own. The Jedi then braces himself as if preparing to fight and chops down angrily at the defiant crystal. Once again the traditional weapon of the Jedi fizzles out.
"Arrr-rrrgh! Nit! Give me your knife!"
"Umm. Ah. Hmm." Niht's hands fumble around his equipment belt, as a sense of unease builds within him. "Umm. I--ah--don't have my knife. I must have dropped it behck in the statue chamber. Vy don't vee go behck and look for it, den vee come behck here and pry out a crystal?"
"No. I'll stay here while you look for your knife. You should be able to find it with your glow wand."
Nit casually tosses his glow wand aside, raises his hands, spreads his fingers and shrugs his shoulders. "Heh-heh. Me loose glow vand too. Vy don't you come vid me and help me look for knife, hokay?"
"No." Ewan confronts the scout with his arms a-kimbo. Then he waves his right hand in a semi-cirular gesture. "You want to help me," the Jedi whispers.
"I--I vant to help you."
"Here, give me your knife."
"Here--here is my knife."
Then--very slowly--Niht unsheathes his knife and holds it out, handle first, to the Jedi. When Ewan snatches the knife from the scout, Nit staggers back as if he's about to faint. He shakes his head to clear it from the after-effects of the mind-trick. He backs away from the Jedi, who's now obsessed with hacking out a crystal from the stone wall.
"Ha! How dare they treat me like a mere padawan!" Ewan quietly rants as he slashes furiously at the stone around his selected crystal. "I'll show them! I show those "masters" the true meaning of power! I'll..."
In a flash, an electric-blue light bathes Ewan's body causing him to jitter and drop the blade. Fixated on obtaining a crystal, he failed to see Niht draw his blaster pistol, the dueling weapon he "acquired" from Bal Jaset. However, the Twi'Lek's hasty stun-shot didn't render the Jedi unconscious.
Niht quickly holsters his weapon as Ewan fumbles for his lightsaber. "Wha--. Wha-- thoo do thath fffor," Ewan slurs as Nit runs up and grabs the stumbling Jedi.
"Come-come my friend. Let me help you."
Niht drags Ewan out of the chamber as some of the stun effects begin to where off.
"Ooh! Nit! Look at the pretty crystals!"
"Yah, yah. Very pretty. Maybe vee come behck and look at dem later--much later. Oi! Here you go my friend. Vy don't you rest here." Nit sets the Jedi down and props him against the wall near the T-section. Niht then sits across from Ewan--with his right hand near his blaster pistol.
After several minutes, Ewan shakes his head and holds a hand over his eyes. "Wow! What, what happened?" Nit helps the Jedi as he struggles to stand. "Umm, thanks. Thanks Niht. I don't know what came over me."
"No problem," Niht says with a dismissive wave. "But I know vhat came over you. Chamber is--how you say--full of Darkside Force. Vid all due respect, my friend, I tink dat place is beyond your current powers. Maybe vee should seal dis place up and tell Jedi Council."
"Yes, I think you're right Niht. Although I'm not sure we can seal this place with our hand-held weapons." The Jedi mulls over their predicament for a moment. "Once we find our way out of here we should be able to close the main entrance--and the exit we're looking for--with the technical's heavy blaster."
"Now you talking."
As they head up the western tunnel, Ewan halts abruptly. "Wait a minute! I've got an idea."
"We take the statue..."
"We go back into the chamber..."
"Go behck!? Are you crazy!?"
"No wait, here me out. You weren't affected by the crystals and the statue was made by some Force-sensitive culture. Maybe it has some properties that could dampen the crystals' power."
"Or make dem vorse..."
"Maybe, but the Jedi..."
"I know, I know." Niht sighs. "Jedi Council vants to know. Hokay, I take statue--but you stay out here! Hokay?"
Niht removes the statue from his pack, takes a deep breath and walks back into the red crystaline chamber.
"Anything?" Ewan's voice echoes from the tunnel.
"It hums. Just like crystals vhen I get close. Othervise, noting."
Niht shivers as he exits the chamber. "Boy, dat place give me creeps! It's like doze crystals are alive!"
"Hmm. I don't know about that. Midi-chlorians inhabit living material, I don't know if they'd be found inside the crystals." After pondering the intricacies of the Force for a moment, Ewan turns to the scout. "I have another idea."
"I take the statue..."
"And I go into the chamber..." Ewan raises his hand to stifle the scout's protest. "No, no I'm not crazy. I want to see what happens when a Force-sensitive being holds the statue."
"And I cover you vith blaster, right?"
"Right." Ewan takes the statue from the reluctant Twi'lek and steps towards the chamber. Impulsively he turns and lightly thumps Nit's chest with the back of his hand. "Just don't get too use to shooting me, okay?
Niht cackles. "Hokay--just keep hand avay from lightsaber and maybe vee both get out of here alive."
As Ewan enters the red glowing chamber the statue hums just as Niht described earlier. But above the hum, the Jedi hears seductive voices whispering in his mind. Voices promising him wealth, fame, power and even all forms of sensual delights. All this could be his if only he would...
"Niht? I'm--I'm okay. I can feel the pull of the Darkside all around me, but holding this statue keeps it in check." Ewan decides not to mention the feeling of wraithlike claws plucking at his skin to the worried scout.
"Dats good to know," the Twi'Lek's voice echoes into the glowing-red chamber. "I still got you covered though."
Ewan gazes around the chamber and realizes many of the crystals aren't glowing. Some have even fallen to the chamber's floor like rotten teeth. Ewan bends down and holds the statue near one of the dull crystals. Nothing.
"I'm picking up a crystal."
"Relax. It's 'dead'."
"Vhat do you mean dead?" Niht's last word echoes sharply around the room, "...dead...ed...ed."
"Here," Ewan says as he emerges from the chamber, "look at this." Placing the dull crystal in Niht's palm, he continues, "it doesn't glow, nor does it hum when placed near the statue. I figured it was safe to carry out so the..."
"I know, I know, so Jedi Council can examine. But I carry with rest of our stuff, hokay?"
Ewan nods as they make their way to the exit now visible to both of them. They stumble out into the bright sunlight and determine they've ventured out on the far side of the hill. Ewan's com link once again crackles to life, but this time Lacto's gravely voice comes in loud and clear.
"Ewan, this is Lacto, come in. Do you read me, over?" Ewan eagerly responds and passes on their estimated coordinates to his fellow Jedi.
Soon the roar of the technical's engines announces the arrival of the rescue party. When the team reunites, Niht and Ewan decide to stun and retrieve the vornskr family before they seal the temple. The Twi'Lek volunteers to lead Bail and Took back into the cavern. When Ewan offers to help, Niht gasps and his hands flutter as if to ward off evil. "No! No. You Jedis stay hear and talk about vhat to do vid de stuff vee found. Vee'll go get Momma Vornkr and de pups. You stay avay from red crystals!"
Ewan snorts. "Oh yeah. Of course," he says while backing away to explain Niht's outburst to Lacto.
An hour later the trio emerge from their underground safari carrying the unconscious canines. Once the vornskr are released the party turns their attention to sealing the entrances. Bail mans the heavy blaster while Took employs the holovid droid as a forward observer. Soon the echoes of blaster fire, explosions and falling rocks reverberate through the low hills and forest surrounding the temple mound.
Once both entrances are sealed, Niht approaches the two the Jedis who've been in a deep discussion while the temple entrances were blasted shut.
"So. Vhere to now?"
Pictured below: Ewan emerges from the temple entrance, ready to do battle.
Pictured below: Niht emerges from the temple entrance scanning for possible enemies.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION (courtesy of Wookiepedia):