light that spilled through the slit windows in the thick temple walls. Outside in the jungle, large birds shrieked as they fought for their insect breakfasts.
As he did every morning before going to Uncle Luke's lessons, Jacen fed and took stock of all the bizarre and exotic creatures he had collected out in the unexplored jungles on Yavin 4. He liked to gather new pets.
The far wall was stacked with bins and cages, transparent display cages and bubbling aquariums. Many of the containers were ingenious contraptions invented by his mechanically inclined sister. He appreciated Jaina's inventions, though he couldn't understand why she was more interested in the cages themselves than the creatures they contained.
One cage rattled with two clamoring stintarils, tree-dwelling rodents with protruding eyes and long jaws filled with sharp teeth. Stintarils would swarm across the arboreal highways, never slowing down, eating anything that sat still long enough fqr them to take a bite. Jacen had had a fun time catching these two.
In a damp, transparent enclosure tiny swimming crabs used sticky mud to build complex nests with small towers and curving battlements. In a rounded water bowl pinkish mucous salamanders swam formlessly, diluted and without shape, until they crawled out onto a perching shelf; then they hardened their outer membranes to a soft jellylike form with pseudopods and a mouth, allowing them to hunt among the insects in the weeds. In another cage strung with thick, tough wires, iridescent blue piranha-beetles crawled around with clacking jaws, constantly trying to chew their way free. Out in the jungle a wild swarm of piranha-beetles could descend with a thin deadly whine. When they set upon their prey, the beetles could turn a large animal to gnawed bones