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Coruscant
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric watched quietly from the small balcony overlooking the large patio that had been built into the back of the Jedi Temple. There were a dozen or so younglings moving through different lightsaber forms with practice sticks. Some of them were doing well, others were nearly tripping over their feet.

He watched them, taking in even the slightest movement.

There was a benefit of growing up on Lorrd. His parents had taught him kinetic communication, picking up even the slightest detail and discrepancy. He could tell which of the students were really trying and which of them thought this was an utter waste of time. The young man himself had always been a part of the former group. From the moment he'd arrived at the Temple Cenric had always tried his hardest.

Some things were more difficult for him, connecting to the force, meditation, everything that wasn't physical. The instructors had always told him that would come later, but so far it was still difficult for him to even lift a pebble without an hours meditation beforehand. It was something that ate at him, probably more than it should have. The entire situation wasn't helped by the fact that he felt isolated because of it. Most of the masters chose students based on their potential in the force, but as far as Cenric himself could tell...he didn't really have much potential at all in that department.

He could go toe to toe with any student in lightsaber combat, at least training sabers, but when it came to the force he was next to nothing.

Cenric's lips thinned, gaze dropping down to the courtyard below.

His knuckles tightened for a moment as he saw one of the students effortlessly use the force to tip a girl ahead of him. A scowl pulled at the padawans lips, and for a moment he glanced towards a small pebble sitting on the balcony.

For a moment he considered flicking it at the youngling.
 

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The situation on Jaminere had stirred Cedric to action, but his spirit called him to the core.

There was a duty that needed fulfilling; one that he had shunned far too long. The galaxy was in desperate need of new Jedi Knight to fill the ranks left open by the honorable deceased. He had passed his trials, and his experience granted him more than enough wisdom to pass on what he knew. Struggles with the Dark Side and the rejection of the role his father had chosen for him had allowed him to connect more deeply with the force. For the first time in Cedric's life, he truly knew in his heart that he was doing the right thing.

With that in mind, he decided it was time to let go of his grief; time to let go of the student that had chosen to fall on Dagobah. There was no use in lingering on failure, and he knew the only path forward was to simply move on. It was for that purpose that the Jedi Knight had returned to Coruscant once again.

The temple was as foreign as it had always been, though he was beginning to understand the layout. Without thinking, his feet took him a balcony that overlooked groups of training students. The sight of young men and women testing their abilities against one another brought a smile to Cedric's face. He;d never had the pleasure of witnessing proper Jedi group training in action as their kind were exceptionally rare in the far rim. To see it with his own eyes, to feel their combined unity within the force, was infinitely uplifting.

But something else drew his attention. Someone. Feelings of envy flowed from this stranger in waves; Cedric recognized that sensation of inadequacy immediately. He'd felt it many times himself.

Had in the black Jedi robes of his homeworld, the Jedi Knight sidled up alongside the padawan. A brief moment of silence passed as Cedric made a show of watching the contests below, though his attentions truly never left this troubled young man.

"You look troubled," his gaze did not leave the courtyard. "What's on your mind my friend?" His eyes shifted to meet those of the padawan.

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric flattened his palm on the railing of the stone balcony, his expression becoming stern as his eyes wandered away from the youngling.

The pebble was momentarily forgotten about, and so was the idea of lashing out. He knew it had been a silly thought in the first place, though it would have at least amused him. Childish acts like that weren't something that a Jedi should even think about though, and he couldn't help but mentally rebuke himself. "Nothing."

It was a lie of course, but telling the truth didn't seem an option.

He glanced briefly at the man that had come to stand beside him, finding that he did not recognize him. Coruscant was a big Temple, and the New Jedi Order had grown in surprising number since it's founding. Cenric had really only met the instructors so far, no one else, so it wasn't entirely uncommon for him to meet a new Jedi or two every day. There were a certain few that hung around, but he found that the Temple here was really more of a pass-through location for many members of the Order.

That was likely due to it's importance.

"I was just studying the younglings." He told the man. "That one there has a gift for this."

Cenric pointed to a young girl, probably around twelve. She was wielding the wooden practice saber with deft skill, shifting through the forms carefully and quickly.
 

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"She does. Reminds me of my sister," the knight's smile faded for a fraction of a second. His thoughts traveled far from Coruscant; to a time when Caida Grayson had been his partner in everything he did. An emotional pain he had grown acutely familiar with passed through him as images of the teenager's smile bubbled up in his mind. Such images were wiped away shortly thereafter, replaced with the picture of a mangled young body twitching at the feet of a Sith Lord.

The entire episode lasted only three seconds, but it was a lifetime for Cedric. The knight found himself exhaling a deep breath when he returned to reality, his eyes darting down to the contests in hopes of finding some semblance of peace in their monotony. He found none.

"Seeing them train like this is surreal. I hail from Ession; we have one Jedi for every three planets that far from the core. I never saw Coruscant until I was already a Jedi Knight." The smile returned. Talking often the sadness the accompanied his lingering thoughts. He sought comfort in the conversation: escape from the mind in the form of dialogue. "I feel like it might cause needless competition, but that's just me."

He paused, turned to the lad. A hand was offered. "Cedric Grayson."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

A brief flicker of amusement crossed his features. "Cenric Marus."

The similarity in names was funny to him. He'd met hundreds of people while at the Jedi Temple and none of them had come close to his own name. He was sure that this sort of thing happened all the time of course and that his amusement at the subject was a bit childish, but that was fine by him.

"What brings you here?" The Padawan asked, genuinely curious. "Generally people are either down there..."

His head nodded towards the patio. "Or they're too busy to stand up here."

Cenric was rather unique in that aspect. He was beyond doing the simple forms with the other younglings, but he had no Master to further instruct him. Every now and again one of the other Jedi would have him do something, research a tale in the Archives, work through some lightsaber technique, but without a proper Master Cenric was more or less stuck. It was a shame really, and most of the learning he'd done over the last few months had been at his own behest rather than someone else's.

He wanted to get better, it was just difficult to do so on his own.
 

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The knight huffed in amusement as the padawan gave his name. The force truly did work in odd ways. "To be honest with you? I don't really know," he paused for a moment, his gaze shifting down to the courtyard. "This is only my second visit. I enjoyed the peace. The war seems so far away here." another pause, his eyes moved to meet Cenric's. "I've been conducting guerrilla operations at the edge of the Sith Empire. I suppose you could say that I needed a break from the chaos. War is no Jedi's natural place."

He sighed. "While I'm on that break, I'm looking for a student." He added quietly, his brow furrowing as a trainee flipped another over her shoulder. He snickered. "The force has told me that I will not live much longer. I need a student to pass my knowledge onto before I pass. I don't have any children, and my siblings are dead - one could say I need a legacy, vain as that might be for a Jedi."

He was well aware of his failing in a desire to leave something behind, but it mattered to his family. Were it his choice, the Graysons would fade into obscurity after his death in atonement for his progenitor's sins. It was only fitting. Still, love for his mother and respect for his father's final redemption goaded him on. He simply could not do them the disrespect of leaving nothing behind, most important of all the knowledge that the Grayson family had gathered over many centuries. It was for that reason he had come here, and the troubled aura of the knight that had led him to this conversation.

The force at its work.

"Why are you up here, and not with the other students?" Cedric smiled.

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

"I can beat them." He said with a shrug, his tone of voice making it clear that he wasn't just bragging. Cenric had his fair share of ego, but this was just a matter of fact. He was simply too old and too well studied to participate in group exercises. "I've memorized the forms they practice, and anyone down there who can spar has already lost to me."

A frown settled on his lips. "Isn't fair if I just keep beating on them."

Again, he spoke without ego or narcissism. Though some of the other Jedi had told him he should still participate in the sparring, Cenric himself had made the decision to no longer take part. He had felt it was simply unfair. Sure some of the other padawans could match him from time to time, but by and large he was able to handle most of them without much difficulty. Most of them rather disliked him for that fact. It was to be expected though, his Lorrdian heritage allowed him to take on the forms much faster than usual.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"And." Cenric began softly. "I don't have much potential in the force."

He glanced over at Cedric for a moment. The man was looking for someone to teach, but he wasn't getting his hopes up. The force didn't come to him as strongly as it did others, and most techniques that needed to be passed on simply weren't in the cards for him. "So most of Jedi here don't see much of a point in teaching what I can't learn."

They had always put it in kinder words than that, but Cenric wasn't stupid.
 

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Cedric regarded the padawan with obvious amusement.

"You've told me an oxymoron," the knight snickered, "The force flows through you strongly, just not in the way you would expect. Your skill with the forms is your gift. The force works for different people in different ways."

The knight turned bodily to face the padawan, and gestured toward himself. "My family is known for its connection with the force. I can accomplish great feats with it; battle meditation is my gift. That being said, I can't heal a soul, no matter how hard I try. I've spent months practicing the art, and the best I can manage is mending nicks and scrapes."

Cedric's smile was a bitter one. "Would have helped more than a few times if I could do it. My grandmother was famous for it; you'd think it would come to me naturally." the bitterness faded. He paused.

"Grab yourself a training saber."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

"My ability in the forms comes from my people." Cenric argued, though his tone remained respectful.

He was almost positive that what he said was true, though he had heard what Cedric said before. Some of the other Masters had mentioned it in passing, and he'd read about it in the Archives. Everyone had different gifts, sometimes it was Battle Meditation, sometimes it was force light. He had wondered if it was the same for him but...well he'd never really tested it. His lips thinned for a moment, though he slowly nodded and wandered over towards the edge of the balcony.

From there he grabbed a small hilt, an etching of the Orders symbol in the hilt. "I'm a Lorrdian."

He explained.

"We read body movements, muscle twitches, everything." For a moment Cenric felt the weight of the hilt, then ignited the bright blue blade. The training saber would stun on contact and nothing more. They were designed to help padawans learn the weight of a lightsaber while not being able to hurt themselves or others. Some Jedi used them to fight apparently, but how Cenric had absolutely no idea. "It's easy for me to pick up the physical."

A shrug rolled over his shoulders.
 

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"Sounds like an excuse to me," the smirk Cedric flashed was well meaning. He did not waste his time grabbing a training saber; his own lightsaber could adjust to operate at the training weapon's level, and it's hilt was inherently different from a typical lightsaber. Given the way Cedric's fighting style had developed around the particularly long and heavy blade, wielding a lighter sword simply would not do.

The smirk seemed to grow as the padawan's own weapon hissed to life. Cedric regarded the weapon curiously, having never operated the training variants of lightsabers before. There wasn't much of a visible difference.

"The circumstances of your birth do not invalidate your talents. If anything, the reason you were born Lorridian was so you could be as skilled as you are. It's what you were born to be."

Cedric took up a position in one of the dueling arenas. His own blade snapped to cyan light, the brilliant weapon glowing brighter than a normal lightsaber. The moment it came to life, a feeling of divine warmth would rush over the Jedi around Cedric. It was akin to standing within a place strong in the force - only this was no solitary location, but a weapon imbued with the force itself.

The knight held the massive hilt with both hands , adjusting the weapon so that it was held close to his body. "Of course, whether you're all talk or telling me the truth remains to be seen. I'll give you the honor of starting us off."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

His fingers tightened on the training saber's hilt, eyes wandering over his opponent. The teachers here at the academy had always preached about staying in the forms and utilizing the structures that were taught, but Cenric had quickly learned that doing such a thing made you predictable.

When an opponent knew the same moves that you did, learned from the same teachers and formed the same thoughts, it was best to do something outside of the box. He had no idea where Cedric had learned, had no idea who had taught him, but he guessed that like many force users he utilized the same forms. So, he shifted slightly, leaning back and letting the lightsaber swivel in his grip so that the emitter of the blade pointed backward instead of forward.

Then he dashed.

The arena was small enough that Cenric was able to close the distance between himself and the Jedi Knight in just a few steps, long legs carrying him far. On the fourth step he swooped low, aiming the blade of the training saber in a harsh swipe at the man's legs.

He did not speak or taunt, he just moved.
 

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Cedric appreciated the focus.

Cenric's blade moved. The knight shifted to meet him. The padawan utilized a more obscure move; one Cedric had been faced with on the battlefield multiple times by one particularly loathsome Sith assassin during the conflicts on Krayiss 2. He moved instinctively, allowing the force to guide him as much as muscle memory did.

He's committed.

The blue blade drew dangerously close to Cedric's exposed leg. It was only when it seemed that a strike was assured that Cedric make his move. He planted one foot back, and twisted on it, pulling his body back and to the side in a single fluid motion The cyan blade flickered as it came down in a powerful two handed stroke. The two lightsabers crashed into one another with a sputtering of energy, Cedric having brought his weapon down much like a hammer in hopes of countering Cenric's speedy approach with physical might.

The force of the clash led to Cedric's own weapon bouncing back. The knight quickly regained his composure, twisting his blade about back into its previous defensive stance.

"You telegraphed that. If I can see your blade moving in your hand before you swing, I know where's it's going to go."

Surprise me.


[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

Cenric moved faster this time.

The first rule of combat was to test your opponent, to see how they moved and countered you. His father had always told him that it counted for all sorts of battle, whether the scale was large or small. It was tough to know who or what you were fighting, so it was always best to see what you could get out of them before you showed what you had.

Simply strategy really, and something he kept in mind.

Cenric's foot suddenly shifted, his heel dragging back as he pulled himself more upright. The lightsaber swung low once more first, his body then suddenly twisting and half turning to change the direction of the blade. Bright blue would flicker for just a moment, and then swipe to the opposite side of Cedric's own lightsaber.

The movement seemingly instantly adapted to what Cedric had already said. Instead of showing his hand, Cenric attempted to hide his intent, shifting and moving his body in order to trap his opponent into moving in a way that he wanted.
 

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The boy learned quickly.

The knight was silent as Cenric came at him. He watched the flash of the blade, followed it down to the hilt, and let his gaze linger upon Cenric's wrist. He saw the limb twist, the slightest contortion of he hand. Then came the boy's twist, a rapid motion that Cedric had not anticipated. His watch upon the hand told him just where the tip of the blade would be, and his own weapon shifted to counter forth. Even with the knight's watchful eye, his lack of proper preparation left him at a disadvantage. There was little the knight could do to save himself from receiving a strike, save for twisting awkwardly to meet what should have been a glancing blow head one.

The force of their brief exchange sent jolts of Cedric's arms, but his hold on his lightsaber remained strong. He retained his defensive posture, the surprise leaving his features as he fought to regain his composure. Cenric had prevented him from fighting the way he wished to - a fact that at both times frustrated and pleased the knight.

The cyan blade rose once again, but it was clear that Cenric still held the momentary advantage. Cedric did not speak this time; the slight nod of his head was approval enough.

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

He continued to press his attack, his lesson well learned.

The young Padawan struck out quickly, this time his saber moved obviously once more, though the intent behind it was less than clear. The blade came up and then towards Cedric's left side, directly moving towards the Jedi Knight's lightsaber. At the same time his feet moved, the aim being to lock Cedric's lightsaber in place so that the Padawan could hook his foot behind the Knight's calf and pull him, thus throwing him onto the ground.

At the same time his feet hand came up, jutting towards Cedric's side.

The tactic was hardly what one would call 'fair', but something else his father had always taught him; there was no such thing as a fair fight. The Jedi stuck to forms, the Sith did as well, but that wasn't how you defeated an opponent. You fought with everything you had, leaned into every tactic. Honor mattered, but not when you were staring down the face of death.

Then only survival mattered.
 

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Cedric certainly wasn't expecting that.

His lightsaber moved with instinctual grace; the result of nearly two decades of drills every day of Cedric's life. It collided with Cenric's own just as it did before, and the knight mentally prepared a manuever to disarm the padawan and end the contest right there. Then came the sweep.

Cedric was helpless to stop the attack. He could only bark a surprised curse as his feet were swept out from under him, and he went collapsing to the floor. His own lightsaber winked out the moment it thumped against the mat beneath them. He blinked up at his opponent.

"They wouldn't teach you that here," Cedric's seemed annoyed at first, but his expression broke into laughter a second later. "I like it. Wasn't expecting that."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

At first concern flashed across his face when he saw the Knight's reaction, then almost immediately his spirits were lifted.

There were few people that Cenric had met who reacted kindly to being beaten. It might have been a fluke, he had done something unexpected and that likely meant in future spars, if there were any, Cedric might be more watchful. Still, he couldn't help but feel a small hint of pride at having bested the Jedi Knight. Even if it was only practice. "This is what I'm good at."

Cenric said with a smile, offering the Jedi Knight a hand to return to his feet.

He didn't want to seem egotistical, so he quickly went on.

"But..." He sighed. "Ask me to lift that pebble off the ground and we'll be here for thirty minutes."

His head nodded over towards a small rock on the perimeter of the training field. It was about the size of a fist, and Cenric really wasn't exaggerating about the timeframe. It would take him that long to just barely lift the stone off the ground.
 

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"It's okay to take pride in your gifts, so long as you don't grow obsessed with it," Cedric intoned. His training had been unorthodox in the sense that his father was clinically insane. The methods he had devised blurred the lines between the training regimes of Jedi and Sith; Cedric had been intelligent enough to recognize this as a child. As his father fell, he observed and denounced the Sith methods. Even still, he had seen the merits in some of their more human beliefs. "Many of our order would have you believe that pride in all forms is a gate to damnation. In truth, pride is as much a human emotion as any other. Don't feel guilty for enjoying it, but understand that pride is a tiny facet in a much larger life. Obsession paired with these emotions is what that pulls us, not emotion alone."

The words had come on reflex. Cedric had often taken the leadership role in whatever situations he found himself in. Mentoring was something that came naturally to him, sometimes to the point that he came off as arrogant. "Ah, but it's not my place to impart my personal knowledge in such a prodigal student. Some here call me a radical." The knight flashed the padawan a grin as he rose up to his feet.

Blue eyes met amber.

"I came here looking for someone to pass my knowledge onto Cenric. I was looking for a Jedi Knight, someone that could hold themselves together in battle, but," his brow furrowed. "You strike me as the warrior type. A soldier. There aren't many left like us in the order," he paused. "My path is a violent one. I've fought the Sith since I was a child, and I intend to continue to do so. If you come under my tutelage, you'll be in danger far more than most. I might have to ask you to do something that are unfair of me as a teacher, and you'll have to understand that I ask you to do those things to keep you alive. Do that, and I can be your ticket out of this temple."

The knight gestured all around. "These walls don't suit you Marus."

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
[member="Cedric Grayson"]

For a moment Cenric's heart skipped a beat, his lips thinned.

There was a lot for him to learn, he knew that. The force escaped him most of the time, he wasn't the best with a lightsaber, but he had his gifts. Still, there were things that he lacked, so much in fact that it seemed all but hopeless. He frowned for a moment, looking slowly up at the Temple above them. It seemed to loom there, a heavy weight that sat upon his shoulders. He tried to think about all of the stories he had heard, all the tales of Jedi that he had been told over the years.

Always they had begun at the Temple, always they had begun inside of these walls or something like them. It seemed wrong to him to diverge from that path, to take a different way to reach his goal. That was what this was after all, by Cedric's own words.

Yet if he didn't do it...he might never learn at all.

For a moment more Cenric stayed quiet, not saying anything as he thought about the two divergent paths in front of him. He could stay at the Temple, wait, hope that someone would finally take pity on him. Or he could go with Cedric and begin a new journey. The end would be the same, he would become a Jedi, the only question that remained was what sort he would become. Slowly the young Padawan took a long breath, closing his eyes before finally answering. "Alright."

He clutched the training saber tightly, nodding his head.
 

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"Good. We need more guardians."

Cedric's own lightsaber flickered to life. He wielded the two-handed hilt with a single hand, snapping the blade forward with a quick flick of his wrist at Cenric's right arm. An easily repelled move, should the padawan notice Cedric readying it.

"Tell me about your history Marus," Cedric asked casually as he flicked the weapon, as if they were talking over the dishes or another mundane chore. "If I'm to teach you all I know, I need to know everything about you first." A hint of a laugh followed the knight's words.

The powered down blade fell for Cenric's arm. Would the youth react?

[member="Cenric Marus"]
 
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