As we walked out of the enclave and into the grasslands, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps the Mandalorians the old woman had spoken of, were the same group that I had met when I found Vel. If so, we were going to have quite a fight on our hands. They hadn’t been entirely thrilled when I talked Vel into following me. My vode or not, they were very violent and hard headed.
I shook the thought away and picked up my pace, falling in step with Aiden, who was walking ahead of us.
“Where are we headed, exactly?”
Aiden smiled. “Must you always know where you are headed?”
“Yes. I like to know what to expect.”
“I thought that I would take you to the Crystal Caves while we are so close.”
“Yes. At the heart of every lightsaber, is a set of crystals the resonate to produce an efficient, powerful blade. Some crystals produce various colors or contain unique abilities. The crystals grow in certain caves on a small number of planets. Dantooine just happens to be one of those planets. I would like you to see the crystals as they look in nature. They come in several colors and shades. It is quite a sight to behold and not one that many are lucky enough to see.”
“I bet they are beautiful.”
“Indeed, but don’t think that getting to them will be simple. The passageways are steep and dark. Kinrath are frequently found in and around the caverns and they tend to make their nests very close to the clusters of crystals. So not only are the caves beautiful, but filled with dangers.”
Dak stepped up and caught the tail end of the conversation.
“Dangers? Great! There goes our leisurely exploration.” He shook his head. “I don’t believe that either of you are happy unless you are battling something. Why are we always seeking out the dangerous stuff?”
I laughed. “A little confrontation is good for the soul, good for growth; it is the Mando way of life.”
Dak turned to Aiden. “And what about you? Aren’t Jedi suppose to be peaceful?”
“Yes, Dak, but we also need to practice, hone our skills and if danger places itself in the path that I have chosen to take, then it is up to me to remove it. We can not allow danger or evil to cause us to deviate from the path we have chosen. We must be strong, steadfast and willing to fight.”
Dak seemed thoughtful for a moment and sighed. “More of that cryptic Jedi stuff, huh? Well, I guess I never really thought of it that way before. I have always thought it best to veer away from trouble, but I think I understand what you mean now.”
Aiden smiled and patted Dak on the shoulder. “If you always steer yourself from trouble, you deprive yourself of experience and eventually, when the time comes and trouble can not be avoided, you will not know how to handle it and will be defeated. Though the peaceful solution is the ideal solution, it is often not the most easily achieved or the most readily available. Practice, focus and always be prepared.”
I listened as Aiden spoke and marveled at the wisdom of his words. He was such an excellent teacher and his presence demanded respect. It seemed that the longer I was with him, the more I realized just how much I still had to learn about him. There was so much more depth to his beliefs and so much more truth in his teaching than I had previously thought. Watching him with Dak was giving me a whole new outlook on what is to be a Jedi.
We kept on the lookout for trouble as we walked. The planet might look peaceful, but it was fraught with dangers, like kathhounds, and a occasional graul, not to mention all of the mercs and salvagers, who were known to become a bit violent. With all the ruins and forest areas on the planet, who knew what was out there!
We crossed a small bridge overlooking a winding stream. A herd of iriaz stood, necks and heads gracefully bent to sip from the babbling brook. One of them raised it’s head and turned to stare at us. It seemed to know that we wished it no harm and it went back to drinking. I wanted to stand for a moment and just watch them, but I didn’t need to allow myself to be lulled into the serenity of the landscape. That was a good way to get yourself killed. Nothing is ever as quiet or serene as it may appear. Danger can attack you from the least likely places.
We moved at a steady pace and soon found ourselves far away from the enclave. I could see some ruins in the distance, off to my left and I felt a strange sense of darkness about them. I shivered. My dark mood was broken by Dak.
“Look over there.” Dak pointed to a camp a short distance away, nestled at the base of a hill. “Must be a salvage camp; let’s take a look.”
Aiden looked at me and I nodded. Why not? You never know what you will find in camps like that. It could be worth taking a peek. As we made our way toward the circle of tents and buildings, I glanced over my shoulder at the distant ruins. I was secretly glad to be moving in the opposite direction. Something wasn’t right about that place. The feeling I got was one of darkness and confusion. Part of me wanted to ask Aiden about it, but part of me knew that there was more there than I needed to get myself into at the moment, so I kept the thought to myself and followed the others into the camp.