Renci and Torthal step through an elaborate archway into an overwhelmingly large space. “Oh,” Renci says. This might take a while. She had expected a small, private crypt where she would just leave Torthal to poke around on his own, but this cavernous room looks like it takes up almost the entire footprint of the ziggurat, perhaps even more, considering they are below ground. The room is dark, lit by sconces that glow an unnatural ruby red, and the clack of her bootheels echo as she walks. She doubts she would be able to see the far wall, even if her vision were not obstructed by tall columns, ornate statues, and stone coffins. The walls she can see have rectangular ridges cut into them, many marked with plaques, but she cannot read the flowing script on them. Cobwebs fill corners, and she sees larger webs up near the ceiling. “This place is huge! There must be hundreds of these. Do you know which one you’re looking for? I kinda don’t want to desecrate everyone’s grave.”
Torthal looks closely at the human. She has been looking for Force artifacts, talking about a girlfriend infected by some sort of Force energy. There is a lightsaber burn across her leg. He is surprised to now hear something so superstitious come from her. “You have already marched through layers of this place and were considering blowing a hole in the door, and now you talk of desecration?”
“Those rooms weren’t a place where comrades stored their dead.”
“You think these people were comrades. Perhaps you know less about this place than I thought.”
“You think they were enemies? Slaves? Put in a fancy tomb like that?” Renci points at a coffin-sized block with a death repose carved into the top of it. “That’s what you do for someone who’s important to you.”
Torthal shakes his head. “Not someone who is important to you. Someone who is important.”
“So you think the people who ran this temple, they believed whoever this dead person was, was important, correct?”
“Yes. So they gave them—”
“But not in any sort of sentimental fashion that your word ‘comrade’ would imply.”
“What, they’re saving this corpse for something?” Renci asks.
“They are using it.”
Renci looks at him, incredulous. “What do you mean, they’re using it? Like, as a warning? If you want to stick someone’s head on a pike, you do that in a place that everyone can see.”
Torthal gives another slight shake of his head. “Can you not feel it?” That question hangs in the air between them for a long moment, and then he realizes… “You are deaf.”
Renci hears the disdain in that comment, the condescension. Whoa there, mister. “Look, did you want my help finding this pendant? Or am I just going to get in your way?”
“Yes,” he allows, “I do wish your help. I did not mean to… insult you. I just thought you were more capable than you are.”
“Well, you might be surprised,” she counters. “So, do you know what coffin you’re looking for?”
“Ka’thazar was a powerful man. It would be in a position of prominence.”
“So, towards the center?”
“I believe so.” The human begins to move, and Torthal cautions, “But step carefully.”
Renci is not worried; she has her jumpboots. Rather than head to the center, though, she directs the Twi’lek to a large plaque on the wall near the entrance that looks like a map to her. There seems to be a listing alongside the sketch of the room, a key of some kind that Renci cannot read. Torthal looks it over and nods. “Where’s your man?” she asks him. He indicates a spot, careful not to actually touch the map. It is on the way to the exit she wants to take, so there is no harm in her accompanying him for just a while longer. She does appreciate the help he provided earlier, even if she does not care what he wants this pendant for.
They proceed cautiously, and before long they reach an impressive sepulchre. It is fronted with an elaborate carving, a piece of true artistry, but unlike some other tombs they have passed, there is no statue of the person buried here. Renci does not see any musical symbolism on it, but maybe Ka’thazar had other hobbies, too. She watches Torthal examine the structure. The Twi’lek seems puzzled at first, but then he turns angry.
“Where are all the… I would have expected trophies from Dagobah…” He growls and looks around, clenching and unclenching his fists. “This is not Ka’thazar’s!”
“Is it a protection for him?” Renci asks. “Would he be hiding in someone else’s spot?”
“He is beyond hiding now,” Torthal seethes, his voice rising in volume as he continues. “Now we have to search the whole place!”
Renci steps back, startled, as her companion draws his lightsaber and begins angrily hacking at the sculpture, sending shards of marble flying in all directions. “Wooo, take it easy,” she cautiously tells him. “You said it would be somewhere prominent, right? You have some sense of what he looks like?”
He stops swinging and turns his attention to her, but the lightsaber stays lit. “He was a Devaronian.”
“Okay, he was a Devaronian, and he was powerful; we’ll look for a statue of him. Just take it easy.” She takes a sip from her eopiebak. “You should drink some water.”
“Take it easy?!” Torthal steps up to Renci, grabbing her by one flap of her vest with his free hand, just as she did to him up in the mirror room. “This coming from the woman who lost an artifact! Take it easy?”
“Yeah, ‘cause I know how much it hurts, okay? Being pissed about it is not going to help you find this guy’s pendant.” She firmly removes his hand from her vest but offers, “Look, there’s another large structure off that way, where the glow is stronger. Why don’t we start there? We’ll head towards the center.” The lightsaber is still lit, and he still seems angry. “You got somewhere to be?” she asks.
Torthal breathes in deeply, then releases it. They begin walking to the next large statue they can see. Renci keeps a bit of a distance between them because he continues to twirl his lightsaber around in an agitated fashion. Then Torthal suddenly jerks the weapon across in front of his chest in a movement that looks far more intentional, and Renci hears him grunt in pain. He extinguishes the blade and grabs at his bicep, pulling at his arm. She runs over to him. “What happened? Are you okay?”
Torthal hisses angrily, “Something has triggered more traps here.” Unobserved by the human, he crushes an item in his fist, and shards of glass fall to the ground.
The Twi’lek seems unsteady, weaving a bit. “Sit down,” Renci orders. She starts to reach for her backpack and then remembers that all her medical supplies are with Renn. “Do you have a medkit?” she asks.
Torthal props himself against a column, feeling woozy, and digs through his satchel, pulling out a basic medical kit and offering it to the human. He allows her to check him over so that she comes close enough that he can reach out with the Force and bleed energy off her. He grips her arm tightly and focuses, but her natural resilience is too difficult for him to overcome without tipping his hand. He is not willing to endanger himself in that way yet.
“We must move forward far more carefully now,” he urges. “Something is actively attacking us.”
“I didn’t see a blaster. I didn’t hear a slugthrower go off. What was it?”
“It was some sort of needle.”
“Okay, so dart traps are a thing.” She pries his hand off her arm and selects an injector from the medkit. “Calm down. I’m going to give you something to slow your heart rate in case there was anything nasty in that. You gotta take it easy,” she reiterates.
They agree on moving forward more stealthily. As the human packs the medical supplies back away, Torthal insists, “Anything we encounter down here is replete with the Dark Side. There is no space for compassion. Those moments you wasted with the maalraas earlier… you must not make that mistake again. What is down here, if it does not kill you, will use you.”
Renci acknowledges his warning with a nod. She hands his medkit back to him and moves into the shadows, putting space between them so that they are not just one target. She draws her sword and her blaster to be prepared for anything.