5 BBY — Jedha — With the encounter with the Stormtroopers behind them, the party presses on. The streets of Jedha City are full and bustling, but surprisingly hushed. Even though there is a solemn tone, the city itself is alive with shopkeepers, local citizens, religious monks, pilgrims, and patrol fireteams of Imperial Stormtroopers.
While humans are in the majority, Force-believers of virtually every species can be found throughout the passages and sidewalks of this spiritual city, which is good as in any city other than Coruscant, this party would be an noticeable anomaly. Even in a galactic society, it isn’t common to see a female Echani in light armor (Arya), cloaked and grizzled male Iktochi (Qardin), a tall female Kaminoan research assistant (Lyra), cape-adorned janky vintage protocol droid (RH-0GR), and a stern note-taking female human academic (Dr. Maris Ving) wandering the streets, collectively looking for a specific monk of the Guardians of the Whills. Realizing this, the party attempts to keep a low-profile.
They make their way into the inner city and can’t help but be in awe of the grand Temple of the Kyber rising into the sky ahead of them. Avoiding a few Stormtroopers, they eventually come upon a three-way intersection. Dr. Ving stops and declares that they’ve found the designated meeting point. No one seems to know who to look for or what a Guardian of the Whills looks like, so they stand around and wait until someone finds them.
After some time, they are surprised by a blind man in a red cloak who, after a bit of an uneasy exchange introduces himself as Chirrut Îmwe, a Guardian of the Whills. Arya, being an armorer, scans his unique attire that to an untrained eye appears more street dweller than religious order. She notes to herself that everything Chirrut wears seems to have purpose and despite his obvious blindness, he moves and interacts with his surroundings with absolute precision. Hmmm. His appearance is more of a deception than reality, Arya thinks to herself as she takes note of his rather unique walking stick.
Chirrut moves quickly. After darting through a labyrinth of side passages, he leads them to an iris cover embedded in the sidewalk of a cul-de-sac. He opens the iris, invites the party to descend, and enters last, sealing the opening behind him. At first the space is pitch black and Chirrut begins walking away. Hearing the party fumbling around in the dark, he remembers that while he can see, the rest of the party cannot. He illuminates the passage, which reveals an underground warren of tunnels beneath the ancient spiritual city.
The party carefully moves through the underground following Chirrut’s guidance — except for one member. Arya notices that Dr. Ving seems distracted and overly fascinated with the detail (or lack thereof) of the underground journey. Such is the way of academics, I guess.
Chirrut shares that there is no ground-level entrance to the Temple. The only way in, other than from above, is through the subterranean tunnels by those who know the Path. “The Path is an ancient form of security,” he shares. “For millennia, those who do not know the Path lose their way.” Considering his words, Arya finds that there are few, if any, markers or notable points along their journey. Everything seems exactly the same and yet Chirrut is navigating the space with absolute ease.
After countless twists and turns that seem to fold over the paths they’ve already traversed and a number of “tests,” he leads them through a passage and into the Temple of the Kyber. Dr. Ving seems at first surprised, which quickly shifts to satisfied.
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