The boys were greeted with cheers as they exited the archives, Jaxon had his arm around his friend’s shoulders, but let go as the crowd surrounded them and congratulated Chase on his victory. Nita stood some distance from the crowd, and Jaxon headed towards her. She hugged Jaxon and smiled.
“Good job in there,” She said. “I’m proud of you. And Chase, of course.”
“Yeah, he deserved a victory,” Jaxon said, looking at his friend, being congratulated by a Jedi Master. “I guess that’s who he’s going to be apprenticed to.”
“You’re going to be chosen too, Jaxon.,” Nita encouraged. “You fought well, and took on three of them on your own.”
“Yeah, well it's easy when they’re really more focused on each other than you,” Jaxon grinned.
"Hey, Jaxon!" Chase waved him over. "Master Jan’si wants to speak with you."
Nita gave him a slight push, and Jaxon hurried over towards his friend. The Jedi Master he referred to was another man, about mid-forties, with brown hair and eyes that shone with vitality.
"I saw your performance in the arena today, nice work in there." He said kindly. "You are skilled with a lightsaber."
"Thank you, sir," Jaxon said.
“I came here looking for a talented, focused initiate, who follows the Jedi code. You have great potential, and I have decided to take you as an apprentice.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jaxon said again, bowing a bit. “I’d be honored.”
“Congratulations, Jax,” Chase said, coming over. “You’re finally getting out of the temple, doing real Jedi work.” Behind him, Jaxon saw another master standing to the side, watching them. He recognized him as the same Jedi that had turned him and the other boys into the council. Chase turned and followed Jaxon’s gaze.
“Oh, yeah, Master Branimir asked me to be his next apprentice,” Chase said. “Isn’t that great?”
“Yeah, Chase, congratulations,” Jaxon said, smiling at his friend.
“I’ll leave you both to celebrate,” Jan’si said, placing a hand on Jaxon’s shoulder. “Report to the great hall first thing tomorrow morning.” He told Jaxon, before striding away. The rest of the crowd dispersed and Nita, Chase, and Jaxon headed to one of the many dining halls in the temple, where a simple but delicious feast had been prepared for everyone who had participated in the tournament.
Jaxon ate enthusiastically, he had been hungrier than he’d thought after the tournament, and the meal was more delicious than usual. He only looked up once he had finished, to find Nita and Chase laughing at something Chase had said.
“What’d I miss?” Jaxon asked, reaching for his cup.
“Oh, nothing,” Chase mumbled, grinning. "Just telling Nita about how that guy tried to rile you up."
"He didn't rile me up," Jaxon protested. "He sure seemed to get to you, though."
"Hey, Jax, you're my best friend," Chase said, reaching across the table to put a hand on Jaxon's shoulder. "I couldn't stand it if you lost before you'd even begun."
"I could have taken him on my own, he wasn't that good a swordsman." Jaxon defended himself.
“Ha—“ Chase laughed, but Jaxon had had enough, and his good mood was ruined. He got up from the table and started to head out.
“Come on, Jax. I’m only joking—“ Chase called after him.
Jaxon turned around. “Yeah, I get it,” he snapped. “You won, I lost. Just like you predicted.”
“Jax, I’m sorry…” Chase began, but Jaxon didn’t let him finish.
“Just take your trophy, Chase, and go.” He left the refectory without looking back, heading for the turbo lift. Neither Nita nor Chase tried to stop him.
In the five years of being confined to the temple, Jaxon had gotten to know the layout of the temple better than most of the initiates his age. As he strode out of the refectory, he found himself following a familiar path.
Following the twisted hallways down to the ancient center of the Temple, he found himself in a quiet meditation enclave near the surface of the mountain peak, the Great Spire, which the Temple had been built around. It was easy to get lost before reaching the tiny chamber, so very few Jedi used it, but it was still kept clean by the nearly invisible attendants.
Several padded mats lay against the wall, and Jaxon pulled one over to the center of the floor. He lit a small candle and set it on the floor in front of the mat, before kneeling down on the mat. He tried to relax, taking deep breaths, but something kept forcing him back to his feet, and he paced the tiny, stone room.
"You're going to wear a path on the floor if you keep pacing like that," A voice said from the darkened doorway. Jaxon jumped and spun around.
"Master Jan'si!" He exclaimed. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
"I came here to meditate," the master replied, pulling a mat from the pile to rest beside Jaxon's. "The same as you, apparently. But what are you doing here, instead of out in the sunshine, celebrating with your friends?"
"Chase is being a--" Jaxon stopped himself short. "Well, he won, and he keeps teasing me for giving up that last duel."
"Did you give up the final duel?" Jan'si asked, kneeling on his mat.
"No!" Jaxon cried, still pacing. "But, something kept distracting me. Some sort of--figure--among the bookshelves. Someone who wasn't supposed to be there."
"I'm not sure what it was. It looked like a person, but it disappeared before I could get a good look at it."
Jan'si looked at Jaxon for a long moment. Jaxon fidgeted, then knelt down on his mat beside the master.
“Trust your instincts, Jaxon,” Jan’si said. “What do you think it was?”
“I don’t know what it was,” Jaxon huffed. “Something bad I think.”
Jan’si took a deep breath but didn’t say anything more. He closed his eyes, but Jaxon kept looking at him for several minutes.
Jan’si wasn’t an old man. His brown hair was lined with grey, but he was fit, and Jaxon knew he was an accomplished Jedi. His face was kind, relaxed as he meditated, and for a moment, Jaxon was envious of his new master’s calm demeanor.
“Jaxon, if you want to meditate, I would suggest focusing on something else,” Jan’si said suddenly, and Jaxon jumped guiltily.
“Oh, right,” he mumbled, facing the candle he’d lit.
The two sat in silence for a few more minutes, before Jan’si spoke again.
“Jaxon, you have a lot of talent. Perhaps, what you saw in the archives was a sort of vision, that only you could see.”
“What would it mean?” Jaxon asked, looking up from his candle again.
“I think we will learn that in time.” The master stood up. “I will see you in the morning, Jaxon. Be ready to continue your training.”
“Yes sir,” Jaxon said, watching his new master go, his cloak swishing on the ancient stones.