main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Saga - ST "Legends of the Force: book 3, 22 Ch. with fanart, FIN"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by AzureAngel2, Oct 3, 2019.

Tags:
  1. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Very interesting how Grianan's 'gifts' give her great insight into how people are, but that's both helpful, and quite sad and harsh for someone so young - good way to show how the force might, eh, push? someone to grow up faster and possibly more empathic, or more cynical (both?); I am glad that she so far has been able to keep to the positive side of that, seeing both Lucien, her mother, and Grandmother in the best light they show her, when possible.
     
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    wise words from Grianan
     
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: I think Luc invented the term "complicated". And yes, like a true tom-cat he is always on the fascinating side.


    @DarthUncle: You taught me this "always look on the bright side of life" attitude, hon.

    By the way: thanks for making the quiche AND the apple tart, while I was doing the Christmas decorations, some administration stuff for our household and the laundry (including the ironing). I will also write the obligatory Sinterklaas poems for our guest soon. She is already on her way, a long day at her work behind her. And you can read this update any time you feel like it.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: But she will never be as cute as baby Yoda. I hope our Advents calendar arrived on time in the Netherlands. Ik heb er ook eentje aan @Kahara gestuurd. En een verdere aan Ty, die nu niet meer op de JC boards zit.


    Of late RL events keep me so busy that I have no time for fanfic or fanart anymore. But here we go, also a nudge to @Nehru_Amidala,@Cowgirl Jedi 1701 and others who might read this.



    Chapter 7:

    On the morning of my fifth day in the Embassy, I learn that Cousin Sionnach and her remaining son, Éibhear, are cared for at the palace of the archbishop. She does not cope very well with the death of the twins. Her shock prevents her to grasp the truth of what has happened. She believes Tāchys and Phrēn to be alive and therefore in need of her.

    [​IMG]

    Grandfather comes up with an unusual proposal after his second cup of black coffee. “When the community of local Lidérc can spare you, you should consider bringing Sionnach and Éibhear to Draconis.”

    “What for?” Luçien frowns deeply.

    “Draíocht and her three children had a central role in the life of Sionnach long before you came along.” Grandfather pours himself a third mug. “They mean safety and home to her. A place she regards as sanctuary even. I doubt that the serail of your father can offer that. Not even honoured Minou can fix matters as they are.”

    Luçien gives him a questioning look. “How...?”

    “I have read all the confidential security files on your honoured maîtresse-en-titre. They were in my daughter’s personal luggage. One could say they are like her book of prayers.”

    Luçien flushes, both with anger and embarrassment. Whatever he wants to say, he swallows it down and continues to listen.

    In general, people highly value the expertise and advice of Grandfather. He radiates confidentiality. A master valet always seems to have the solutions for everything, as well as an intimate insight. “Your little family needs to get better soon,” he implies. “And this cannot happen in a traumatized city. Not for them, and pardon me for saying so, not for you.”

    Luçien is avoiding Grandfather’s eyes now.

    “And if I might be allowed to add the following assumption, it also would do the boy good to have other children around. Éibhear is very well aware that he cannot get back his siblings in this life. But it would ease his loneliness.” Then Grandfather says something that makes my heart ache. “When Aréte was taken from us, it did my grandchildren good to leave the midwinter castle. Of course the memories and the facts stayed the same, but a change of air can work miracles.”

    For a while I only hear the sea gulls outside, soaring above the city. Then Luçien starts speaking again.

    “I really should consider it.”

    “Do not wait too long!” Grandfather takes a sip from his mug. “Right now, Sionnach is still in shock and that protects her like a cocoon. She should not be anywhere near ground zero when she becomes more aware.”

    He does not indicate that Luçien is not able to handle it. For that he is too discreet. He always has a way of saying things in a manner that people can be left to interpret to their own liking.

    I get up from my chair and slip out of the dining-room. Grandfather and Luçien need more privacy to speak their mind.

    ********************************************************************

    Once outside, I grab an incense burner from a side cabinet. With the heavy metal flower I hop through the embassy building, singing softly to myself. It is another chant that I know by heart. Clementia sings it when she enters the Holy Crypts of Cunabula. My undead ancestors can be very harsh with the Living. Especially the mild and good-hearted.

    “I create, in this place
    My very own sacred space.
    A space where I may pace,
    or just feel loves’ warm embrace.

    So hear me now, far or near
    I may safely shed all my tears,
    here be my sacred space,
    Where here I am my grace.


    This space is mine
    All evil I decline
    Only positivity enters here,
    All are welcome, far and near
    So as long as evil doesn’t enter
    Because evil isn’t in my centre.
    This is my sacred...”


    Tonnerre, Luçien’s secretary, steps out of his office and takes away the incense burner.

    “Hush, sweet princess!” He places a finger on his masked mouth. “I know you mean no harm. The moon priestesses of Sapuhru have a similar chant, but His Lordship might get it all wrong. He is a troubled man these days.”

    I want to protest, but he gently steers me towards the guest wing. There is so much sorrow and fear in his touch.

    “Do not push your luck! I beg you.” Tonnerre opens the door that leads to my room. “I can get you anything you want. Children books, toys. Just stay in here!”

    ********************************************************************

    The next morning when Grandfather is in the shower, I take heart and walk straight into Luçien’s office. He is wearing a simple house tunic. In white, he looks rather innocent and harmless. It is easy to see now that he is only slightly older than Nanny, which means that he is in his late twenties. His hair hangs loose over his shoulders.

    “Lu?” I ask.

    My appearance mildly irritates him. So does my endearment. “What now?” He drops the pencil that he has been sketching with.

    “You are not okay,” I state.

    “I cannot see how this could be of any concern to you, little princess.” Luçien heaves himself up from his office chair. The deep shadows under his eyes are not from his eye-liner or mascara. This morning he does not wear any of his usual make-up. I start to wonder if he has even gone to bed in the first place.

    “I lost family, too. Therefore I am sad.” My gaze wanders over his tense outlines. “You must be sad as well. But you hide. You hurt. All the time.”

    He gives me a rueful smile. “Diplomacy is an art form that a young princess has to learn at some point. Even if she is a powerful telepath and rather empathic.”

    I swear to myself not to tell him about my other gifts. He had reacted more than implacable when I had told him about Acheron. I bet if seeing dead people is forbidden, then my gift of touch will not be met with applause by him either.

    “Di-plo-ma-cy?” I say quickly to end the silence that has settled down between us. It is unnerving that I have trouble with the word.

    His eyes glitter with mirth. I can tell straight on that he likes to educate me. “Tact and skill in dealing with people,” he explains. “You better start practising with me.”

    “You really know how it works? Di-plo-ma-cy?”

    He smiles even more. “I am an ambassador. Of course I do. For me, diplomacy is the art of conducting interplanetary relations, as in negotiating alliances, treaties, and agreements.”

    Perhaps I have it wrong, but ambassadors do not seem to sneak around and abduct people. They seem to ooze charm and dazzle with words. So I tell him about my doubts. “Am-bassa-doors also play innocent? Pretend they do no wrong? Like making people vanish?”

    “If your innuendos are meant as a diversion, your tactic works. I feel less sad now, but definitely more angry. Well done!” He glowers down on me. “I want you to leave now! I have important work to do.”

    I cock my head. “Like drawing the twins?”

    With a deliberate slow hand movement, Luçien puts the drawing away and secures it in one of his desk drawers. He is still standing, which gives me the impression he likes to have the higher ground. “You are a complete nuisance. I wonder why your father is so fond of you.”

    I try to ask a more innocent sounding question, searching all the words and grammar I have to make it sound like I am not probing. “Why so serious? Why not be an artist?”

    He throws his head back like a big wild cat and roars with laughter.

    When he is more collected again, he answers, “Killing is an art form of a different manner. A pencil cannot keep the enemies of the House Ankoù at bay. Nor can a sheet of paper expel the sinners from the soil of Sapuhru.”

    I gnaw on my lip, considering. “Killing is not a nice hobby.”

    “Hobby? Your father can afford hobbies as a retired senator and prince consort. I have no hobbies. I have callings and duties.”

    “You are not whole,” I try to reason. “Do more paintings. Have more children. Like Daddy. We do him good. More children with Sionnach would do you good.”

    Luçien leans forward, his hands resting on the desk. He tries to keep his voice clear of any emotion. “I think your visiting time is up. Do not test my patience!”

    I do not. Quickly, I bob a curtsey and take care to close the winged doors as silently as possible.

    “Good girl!” I hear him call. “And now get washed and properly dressed! You are not on the Holy Isle. This is a government building. I know you are a wild child of the jungle, but try to look decent - especially when you visit me in my office! You can do better!”

    I cannot help but notice that there was a tiny spark of humour in his voice. He enjoys ordering me around.

    ********************************************************************

    I manage to keep out of Luçien’s way for the rest of the day, which works to my advantage. As usual, I sit at the harbour, waiting for the return of Nanny. With the city being in such a bad state, no search party is looking for her. Grandfather has explained to me that human resources are needed differently.

    My gift of touch tells me that Luçien has personally made the lunch we have brought.

    I lean back in my office chair, thinking hard on what to do next. Checking on Sionnach at the archiepiscopal palace? Taking Éibhear for a stroll and very far away from his mother’s misery until the early afternoon? Visiting the guild house? Helping out at the local hospital?


    The face of Grianán keeps coming back to me. Such big eyes.

    I decide to do something nice for her. It is but a small gesture of appreciation, but I simply know that it will make her glad. I have noticed her delight when having sweets. No matter in what form they come.


    When I surface into the present again, my journey into the recent past took just a couple of heartbeats, Grandfather has to read Luçien’s note to me.

    “Do not forget to brush your teeth later on. Too much sugar can cause tooth decay.”

    We laugh together. Then I share my halvah with him.

    When we return to the Embassy at sunset, we find a message that Luçien is otherwise occupied. He has taken care to let Tonerre cook for us. It is one of my favourite dishes: chicken tagine with apricots and almonds.

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien’s earlier impatience with me does not prevent him from sneaking in my room when I am in bed and completely on my own. Grandfather talks with Draconian authorities over the visiphone.

    “A bedtime story? For me? Please?” I ask into the dense shadows of my bedroom.

    “Sure,” Luçien comes closer and I know immediately that I will not like the story. “A long time ago, you were not even born and nor was I, the mighty witches of Draconis ruled my people. They made them to kill Elves, thousands of them. But when the witches tired of their loyal soldiers they forced them all together on a large trader and dropped them into the burning desert sand of Sapuhru.”

    I pull my blanket up to my nose, even though it is a fairly warm summer night. “Unicorns please!”

    He crouches down at my bedside. “You can’t always get what you want, little princess.”

    I hold on to the blanket, hoping that I can at least learn something here. “If it helps you. You hurt again.”

    I feel him smile cynically in the dark. “Survival was not easy, but then divine Sodalith and her daughter Calme had an idea. They wrote down the holy laws and gave them unto Gorge, who saw those rules executed and followed. As time passed, Gorge had many followers. He was a good, righteous man who despised witches and people who did not act according to the Holy Scriptures. In the many generations to follow, the Brotherhood of the Red Dawn brought peace and order to the realm. We still do.”

    I ask a question my sister Daná is usually fond off. It seems fitting. “So what’s the point?”

    “Little girls that stay on the wrong path might get killed by a witch hunter when they are of age. I happen to be such a hunter.”

    That is worse than I imagined. He is not only an assassin. I vanish completely under my bed sheet.

    “Do not worry! I have come to like you, despite your mother,” he assures me. “It is also against my principle to harm guests that stay under my roof. Hospitality is very important in my culture.”

    “Host-ility?” I ask with a thin voice.

    “Hos-pi-tal-ity, little princess. There is a great difference between being nice to a guest or very unkind.”

    It is not clear to me if he truly understands the difference between those two. “Tomorrow night a real story, please! And hos-pit-al-ity. You can do better!”

    ********************************************************************

    An open challenge is something Luçien cannot resist. He comes to visit me again at my bedside later that night, but this time I am prepared.

    The salt crystal lamp goes on when I give its chain a Force tug. Then I make a fairytale book rise beside me; I have found it in the luggage of Grandfather.

    All the time I remain hidden under my blanket. It is my fortress.

    “No witches, please!” I exclaim.

    After what seems like an eternity, Luçien takes the book. I hear him skimming through the pages.

    “Unicorns? Are you sure about that?” he asks in between. “You are a serpent-spawn of Cunabula, Grianán. Blood and darkness should be to your liking.”

    I am not offended. “You love blood. And darkness. I want a happy end.”

    Luçien ponders on that, but not for too long. “What about a story with a fierce and dangerous dragon?”

    I make a little opening with my blanket. Just enough to look at him. “A romantic story, please. With kissing.”

    He makes an indignant sound, before sinking down on the mattress. “Are you familiar with the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson, an Udalar from the Northern Skies?”

    My head shoots out of my hiding place. “The angel?”

    “Oh you know it?”

    I nod eagerly.

    He chuckles, stroking my hair thoughtfully. “Forget about the book! I can tell you his stories by memory.”

    I draw back under my blanket again. “You like to scare me.”

    “And if I try my best not to?” Sadness echoes in his voice.

    “Promise?”

    After a while, I feel a hand – patting the bump that is my head under the blanket.

    “Whenever a good child dies, an angel...”

    ********************************************************************

    When Luçien is finished with the story, I am not under my blanket any longer. My head rests comfortably on his lap and he has one of his hands in my hair, curling my locks around his fingers.

    “See?” I breathe, overjoyed with the story and the special attention. “A happy ending.”

    “Real life is different, Grianán.” His old hurt haunts him again. “In real life, people just die and their names are never to be spoken again by those who love them.”

    I reach up for his chin, stroking his funny little goat beard. “Then do not hurt. Make nobody die. Use happy endings. Like in story-telling.”

    He ticks against my nose, his demeanour bitter-sweet. “I wish it was that easy, my little dreamer.”

    “It is,” I disagree with him.

    He sighs, too tired to argue. “Sleep tight and take care.”

    Luçien bends down to give me a good night kiss on my forehead. The touch of his lips brings further fragments of his childhood to me. They open like book pages.

    The crowd cheers. I receive many blessings. People kneel or bow to me. Some even look like they are praying.

    I hope that nobody prays to me. That would make me a divine being and I am just a baby boy.


    Once his lips are off my skin again, the time window closes rapidly. But the intense impressions that I got from the old lady who raised him and his beautiful, yet distant mother stay on.

    “Do I get a good night blessing?” I tut.

    “Fairy-tales, blessings,” he comments with pretended discontent. “I wonder if you also hunger for midnight snacks.”

    “No,” I wheeze.

    “Very well.” His features turn very tender as he places his left hand on my head. “Spoiling you a bit can do no harm, I suppose.”

    My heart makes an excited jump.

    “Enlighten us, O blessed Light of the Force,
    and give us rest throughout this night.
    O strengthen us, that for Your sake,
    We all may serve You when we wake.”


    I wait for more, but Luçien simply leaves it at that. He rises in silence, his look fixed on my face.

    “Sleep now, Grianán, and ask for nothing more! To want more would be greed and greed is one of the seven deadly sins.”

    “Then I shall not sin.”

    A half-smile spreads on his face, setting his eyes alight as well. “Good girl.”

    Reluctantly, I let him go. His company means so much to me. Not to be with him hurts almost physically. I reckon that something went wrong when I forged our soul bond. There should be just love and understanding, no pain and fear.

    ********************************************************************

    Not much later, Grandfather is back. He stumbles towards the bed in the dark. “I am sorry it took so long, Grianán.”

    I turn towards him and ask sleepily, “Mama?”

    “Misera told me that the emergency team has never seen anything like this. She still hangs on, too stubborn to die.”

    As much as I enjoy my stay in the Embassy, I hope that Nanny will find her way back to us, soon. I cannot have Mother suffer on my behalf.

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien makes time in his dense schedule to visit me every evening. He alters between telling me a bedtime story giving me a brief good-night blessing.

    During the day, I am allowed to visit him in his office, preferably before breakfast and after I have dressed. He gives as much paper as I desire. The crayons he lends me belonged to the twins. It gives him some comfort to see me use them.

    Determined to prove how beautiful Draconis is, I paint jungle trees and the midwinter castle in the mountains for him. Each time I have a painting ready, I rush into his office to present it to him. Within a short time he has a large art collection, keeping it in a special drawer.

    ********************************************************************

    Isabeau has been missing for nearly three sun weeks when Grandfather leaves for an audience with the archbishop. I am lying on my belly using a book as a pad for my painting.

    “This painting is extraordinarily green,” Luçien comments, hovering above me.

    “Life is green.” I glance up at him expectantly. “The Living Force is green.”

    “What would you know about the Force, Grianán?” he asks sharply, as if it was a private club and I have no membership.

    I stand up, sad and bewildered at his reaction. “More than you would think.”

    “Enlighten me.” Luçien goes to his knees to look me in the eyes.

    “What if you hate my answers? There is this book. I found it in your office, next to the paper.” My eyes sting. It was actually the very book that I had been using as a pad all morning long. “Those horrible paintings... women getting hurt. By men like you.”

    “Do not worry! I will let you know before I come for you, Grianán,” he says calmly. His eyes tell me that he is not joking. “And there will not be any torturing. I will make it quick.”

    “We are friends,” I sniff. “You like me.”

    He nods. “I give you credit for being a sweet, little girl at present. But you will grow up, and being your mother’s daughter you are likely to do stupid things. Things that I might not approve of. Dark deeds. Like necromancy.”

    I almost shove my painting into his unmasked face. “Look very close! Green. Not black and white. Green. Why can’t you see! I am not evil!”

    With that, I run out of the office, crying.


    Sources:
    Casting Instructions for 'Create Sacred Space' from the Website “Spells of Magic.Com”
    The fairytale “The angel” from a fairy tale collection (1862) by Hans Christian Andersen
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle likes this.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Lovely how Grianan endears herself to Lucien despite himself [face_laugh] She is talented and open-hearted and even hard experiences do not make her bitter or closed off. :* @};-
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  5. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    no colors at all in Lucien's life
     
  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Even Luc needs a little compassion & sympathy from others.

    @earlybird-obi-wan: This is where Gri comes in. To grant Luc come colours.

    Okay, @DarthUncle would like to have some high tea with me now. So I will only put this online and log off again:


    Chapter 8:

    It does not take Luçien very long to find me. Uncertain, he remains in front of the wardrobe in which I am hiding from him. I wonder why that is. He can feel me in there as clearly as I feel him. Perhaps I should offer him 'parley', which is a negotiation conference among Lidérc over terms of a truce. Nanny taught be about it's existence.

    But before I can suggest the possibility of truce, he leans his brow against the wardrobe door. “Are you okay?” he inquires carefully.

    “You do not understand the Force.” My voice is thick from tears. “Or friendship. Or love.”

    He remains silent.

    “Your universe is black and white.” I press my spine against the inner wall of the wardrobe. “This is why you use pencils. You are afraid. Afraid to do the twins in colour.”

    Luçien tears the wardrobe door open, his eyes alight with the blind ire. “You will not speak of them again!”

    “But you think of them night and day,” I protest. “You miss them as much as Sionnach does.”

    His breathing becomes irregular. He has clenched his hands. “You will not mention her either.”

    “It is just forbidden to mention the Dead. But Sionnach is not dead,” I say and add hastily. “Not yet!”

    Luçien looks at me with yellow eyes, streaked with red blood vessels. “Be careful, Grianán! You go too far!”

    “I?” I giggle hysterically. “You have the yellow eyes.”

    His features freeze. “What?”

    “Yellow,” I gulp.

    When Luçien picks me up, I do not stop him. I do not want to make it any worse. He cups my chin, forcing me to look directly into his face. Then he sees it, his own pointless and frightening ire.

    “This is not possible,” he growls. “This cannot happen to me. I am immune against witchcraft.”

    “This is no witchcraft. It is your own burning anger. Learn to control it!”

    Luçien looks down on me. “I want you to go to your room and stay there until your grandfather returns.”

    “Will you be okay?” I ask, because I am not sure he will be.

    “Go!” he shouts, sounding like some wounded animal.

    I run as quick as I can. When he gives me such a warning it is better that I heed to it immediately.

    ********************************************************************

    Nanny returns a couple of sun hours later. It is a perfect timing. For the memorial service in the city temple is about to take place. Therefore the entire city is empty. Everybody is either inside the temple or glued to the news screens.

    When Isa comes closer I see that her sharp face shows lines of strain. For about two and a half weeks she has been lost at open sea.

    “Milady.”

    That is the only word that Grandfather is able to get out of his throat, which is too tense with emotions. He has been strong for so long, but now there are chisels in his perfect façade.

    “Who?” asks Nanny, catching him with her strong arms. “And how?”

    Her questions bring him to his knees. Limp and exhausted he lies in her embrace, the tears constantly flowing.

    I stand by and watch them.

    It takes Grandfather a little eternity to sum up what has happened on the baptism day of Cousin Khion. More than once a crying fit shakes him and he has to pause.

    When Nanny finally scoops me into her arms, I skim through her memories, even though it is not very polite to do so. It is never nice to dive into the secrets and wishes of others without their permission. But I need to understand Luçien. She can help me achieve that. I reach out with trembling hands.

    The flood of memories that comes down on me is overwhelming.

    “Stop hurting yourself, Isabeau!” Vicomte Ankoù says from right behind me. He sounds more concerned than angry, clutches on to an overloaded tea tray. “For your own safety I have put you under house arrest. We will remain here until Senator Aletheia is ready to take off.”

    I jump up, pushing the tray into his unmasked face. And I hope with all my might the brewery contains mandrake root. “I am not going, can you hear me?” I shout. “I am not going!”

    He smiles very sad, whipping the hot tea from his cheeks and nose. “You have no choice here, Isabeau. The usage of a holocron is forbidden by law. The magic of Cunabula is a demonic thing.”

    “And your Force powers are normal?” I yell, remembering his future talk with Sionnach O’Conghaile, the tramp. Enraged, I kick the brazen tea pot through the stone chamber.


    “You have that power, too. In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have.”

    “They should cast you out, freak! Not me! To even suggest to me that I...” My head feels on fire. I hope he stays out of my mind. Hope, that he does not recognize me for the clairvoyant that I am. “How dare you!”

    Vicomte Ankoù makes the effort to reach out for my cheeks, but I do not let him touch me. That might trigger more unpleasant shadows of the future to come forth. “You are filled with anger and resentment,” he remarks.


    I tell him straight away why. “My childhood memories were blown into oblivion. You tempered with them.”

    “How unfortunate!” he sighs.

    “Unfortunate that I know the truth?” I thunder.

    “Can’t you see that I did all to keep you away from harm? But you manage to get yourself into trouble over and over again.”

    “And whose fault is this now?”

    “That golem played you like a sitar. She split us apart and won you over for her dark princess.”

    A very discreet knock sounds from the other side of the door.

    “My friend are you ready?”

    He gives me a long, desperate look. Then his left hand moves, the fingers stretched out. An invisible force grounds me, suppresses my motor skills. There is no escape. Next, I am rendered unconscious.


    I surface into the present again.

    Until now Luçien has made so many bad choices. Like the one bringing Nanny far, far away from Polysýndeton.

    We face one another like the generals of an army. Again it is Luçien who cannot bear the silence between us for too long. “You care too much for those children to be able to make a clear judgement about the situation,” he points out to me.

    I frown, because I realize that I am looking at a total stranger. Even his eye colour is wrong. “What happened to you?”

    “Oh that.” He shrugs casually. “I needed to blend in.”

    In front of my eyes, Luçien changes back to the person that I know: tall, copper skinned, black curly hair, intense blue eyes. Yet there is a darkness in the twenty-one year old that he is not fully aware of, that he cannot hide.

    “Are you aware that something went wrong when you tried to destroy the holocron?”

    “Nothing is wrong with me!” he roars. “And I destroyed that evil tool!”

    “I see,” I purr. “For me it was just an innocent learning device. You made it into something it never was. It was you who made it evil.”

    He storms towards me like a mad bantha bull, but I just move aside, laughing. “What now, Luçien?”

    While I talk, I manage to fully free myself with my normal arm. He had not bound my feet or knees.

    “Do you want to destroy me like Solitaire, oh brother dear?”

    My words sober him.

    [​IMG]


    “I will not intervene with the attempted murder of the crown princess,” he proclaims, his voice coming from very far away.

    “Try not to wash your hands in innocence as it is futile!” I yell. “You have no idea what you will unleash.”

    “I fear, I do. But whatever will be, will be.”

    I should choke him until his regret pours out of every single opening of his body. “I will tell her the truth.”

    “Do whatever you wish to do, Isabeau. It will take you three weeks to sail back to the city. I left you sufficient food and water supplies. You have no means of communication on board, but you will be safe.”

    With that statement, Luçien simply vanishes.

    I stand on the deck of the empty ship, my hands clenched in fists.

    When I am able to speak again, I hear myself mutter, “Be strong for me, Isa! I need you.”

    ********************************************************************

    Grandfather goes straight to a little breakfast pension with us. The elderly couple who own it have been friends with with him since his elementary school days.

    Hēdus and Eirean Ankulos are honest and hard working people. I know them from stories of his already. Their auras glow friendly. With them we will be safe for the time being.

    When the three of us appear in front of their desk, they act as if Grandfather already has rooms with them.

    “Ah, Marquise Riwalan,” says Eirean with a friendly smile while she leans over the counter. “Master Kyrene and the little one were so hopeful that you would return to them.”

    “Dreadful assassins. To abduct you and to leave you on a boat for... what, three sun weeks?” Hēdus puts his arm around his wife's waist. “You must have been sick with worries for your protégés.”

    “Er... yes!” gulps Nanny, overwhelmed by so much acceptance and kindness.

    I read in her thoughts that she does not suspect anything wrong going on right now. She is just tired and happy to be re-united with us.

    “Grianán,” says Eirean lovingly. “Her Ladyship could use a shower after all her hardships at the High Sea. Come with me and fetch her some towels! We can prepare that room next to yours for her. The one you were so fond of.”

    I nod eagerly and go with her, while Joel leads Nanny to the dining room for some coffee and lunch sandwiches.

    “Good girl,” Eirean says to me. “Your quick wit is remarkable for a five-year-old. I can feel that the light is strong in you. You have been touched by the Cycle of Heavens, haven't you?”

    I give her an uncertain look, while she rummages around in the laundry closet. She has deep wrinkles around her sparkling eyes.

    “Now and then a child is born who is ahead of its actual age. That must be hard on you.”

    She hands three white, fluffy towels over to me.

    “Let me tell you an old legend from Terra, Grianán. According to it there is an angel who brings the soul and the seed together. Her name is Lailah.”

    I blink at Eirean.

    “While the infant grows in the womb, Lailah places a lighted candle at the head of the unborn, so he or she can see from one end of the universe to the other.”

    She winks at me and adds three pieces of lavender soap to the towel that I was already holding on.

    “So too does the angel teach the unborn the entire Holy Scriptures, as well as the history of his or her soul. All the secrets that the Cycle of the Heavens has to offer.”

    Eirean puts a hand on my back and steers me through her house.

    “Then, when the time comes for the child to be born, the angel extinguishes the light in the Mother's womb and brings forth it's protégée into the world.”

    We walk upstairs.

    “And the instant the child emerges, Lailah lightly strikes her finger to the child’s lip, as if to say ´Hush!´, and this causes the child to forget everything learned in the womb.”

    I swallow hard, understanding what she implies.

    We end up in front of a colourful door and Eirean opens it for me. I am bathed in light and air immediately.

    “You, poor Grianán, cannot forget the knowledge of the Cycle of Heavens.”

    Her hand leaves my back while she says so and I gaze up to her sorrowful features.

    “And the more you are with us in this plain of existence, the heavier your knowledge about mortal life gets.”

    A tear runs over my cheek and she dries it off with a corner of her kitchen apron.

    “I will send my husband for your luggage, while Isabeau is in the refresher. The Vicomte will have somebody of his Brotherhood at the Embassy, while he is at the memorial service. There should not be any problem. Your nanny will never know. I am even prepared to feed her drugs that reduce her feline sense of smell for the time being.”

    Anxious, I clasp her apron. “Why are you doing all of this?”

    Her smile is benevolent. “Do not fear. Desperate times ask of desperate measures. The Vicomte is a good man. More than he gives himself credit for. I would like to help him.”

    “But why?”

    Thoughtfully, her rough fingertips wander over my face. “In his ill faith, he fails to see that the Cycles of Heavens have sent him a little angel to brighten up his life.”

    I beam at her.

    “I believe that conquering evil with the weapons of love can transform the universe. The very way in which each of us can contribute to the peace of all.” Old pain was in her eyes. “And I am not only talking about mankind here. We must learn to live with all creatures that the Force created around here.”

    ********************************************************************

    While Nanny enjoys her hot shower, Grandfather sneaks away to arrange an off-world flight. I decide to have a shower, too.

    When I am finished, I use the hair dryer and dress all by myself. Then I push the wooden shutters of the bedroom open and make myself comfortable on the window seat.

    Not many people are around in the street below. Even though the fog of debris has finally settled, the shock and disbelief of the catastrophe still filled the hearts of the community. The majority of the city state hates my belated sister Adamah for the destruction that has occurred. Only a few took pity.

    I am upset that nobody saw the real danger. It lies not in the destruction of buildings and life forms, but in the creeping shadows that attacked the goodness of the heart. Healthy minds that have been twisted beyond recognition, and dark ambitions that can be kindled the wrong way. Hate and anger only strengthen negative energy.

    High above me, sea gulls circle the sky, eagerly looking for food. Their chances are very low. The national mourning period is not over yet. That means that the port operations have come to an absolute stagnation. Even the daily market on the temple plaza does not take place anymore.

    Rescue workers in red suits and fluorescent jackets pass by, almost as often as civilians in black mourning clothing. Some of the latter are mothers with shopping baskets and silent children clinging to them.

    Dealg has no problem catching my attention. His blazing presence is unmistakable. It feels like the kiss of sunbeams on my skin; like laughter erupting from my belly.

    I stare down on him.

    Luçien's father chooses to appear as a large human with white-blond hair that is shoulder-length. There is a friendly twinkle in his blue-gray eyes. He makes people smile at him despite their worries.

    When he looks up to me in return, my heart expands. He has such a beautiful face, his features timeless. He wanders around with ease and grace, radiating love and hope.

    “Grianán.” His lips do not move. He speaks directly into my head. “Come down here, child!”

    And I go, as simple as that.

    ********************************************************************

    To my relief, Dealg stands in the entrance hall when I arrived downstairs. There is no need for me to leave the building.

    He goes on his knees before me, speaking aloud now with his wonderful voice that is as deep and pleasant as Luçien's. “Thank you for your courage, child! Without you, it would have been worse. The entire city could have crumbled into pieces.”

    I blush, my eyelashes lowering. His praise feels good though.

    He places his slender hands on my shoulders and healing energy begins floating into my body. But then he frowns. “Why would you do THAT with your soul?”

    “His had so little light,” I confess. “Was that wrong?”

    His answer is a firm embrace. I lavish in it for a while.

    If life would have been different for Luçien and his choices also better ones, he would have become a gentle man like his father.

    “Now I understand why my son is so furious with you.” Long, elegant fingers stroke through my hair. “He is blinded the beauty of your gift. It will take him a while to figure out what you have given to him freely.”

    I still feel thousands of butterflies in my stomach when Dealg is gone again. He surely has left a deep impression in me.

    The gentle voice of Eirean startles me. “Care to watch me cook and have a mug of hot vanilla custard, Grianán?”

    I turn around with a grin and bound after her.

    ********************************************************************

    On-board the private space ship that flies us back to Draconis a couple of hours later, I develop a severe fever. I fear that it has to do with my sudden departure from Luçien. I feel so weak without him, so incredibly lost. My soul hungers for his.

    In addition, fragments of Nanny's life haunt me. All of the memories are focused around her step-brother. The bad ones are more in number than the good ones.

    At once Luc is at my side, crushing me to him with a growl. “Shush!” he begs me. “There is no need to give water to the Dead. Keep your precious liquids to yourself!”

    Any reluctance against his touch evaporates. I melt into him, my fingers sinking into his mane.

    “It shreds me when you cry,” he confesses. His fingers flex restlessly. “So don’t.”

    “But you cut me off. Shut me out,” I protest.


    He exhales audibly. Then his grip on me tightens. He rubs the tip of his nose against me. “You cannot stay a sweet, innocent kitten forever. By the laws of our people, I have to let you go. I don’t want to. But this is not about you and me, Isabeau.”

    This time he says my name with reverence and tenderness, not with the usual strictness.

    “This is about what is right in the face of the moon goddess and her virgin daughter,” he moves on. “Always do what is right in Her face, because the ways of our people are not Her way. She is a pure, inerrant vessel of the Living Force. We are not.”


    “I do not want the Living Force. My mother never wanted it either. This is why Clan Riwalan had to be wiped out, right? Because some of us believed in the theory of the Unifying Force. Like the god queens of Cunabula.”

    “There was no other way for Alezan. He did what he felt was right.”

    ********************************************************************

    Nanny holds me in her arms through the entire interstellar journey, whispering sweet nonsense into my hair. I know she means well, but the sheer touch makes the sensations in my head even sharper. Am am on the brink to I forget where she ends and I begin.

    Tormented, I roll forth and back in Nanny's arms, who fails to realize that her embrace is dangerous for me at present.

    Grandfather does not dare to suggest turning the spaceship around and have Luçien heal me. He and I both know that it is better that Nanny never came to know what her step-brother has done for my health the past sun weeks. Misera and her unit will honour their part of the deal. And my siblings never look into Grandfather's head.

    My temperature rises with each passing hour. The clinical thermometer that was inside the first aid kit shatters into bits and pieces at one point. Nanny looks unhappy, but despite the scalds she receives from holding me she does not let go.

    I black out when the ship lands at the Holy Isle of Cunabula, not even catching a small glimpse of the Mother Jungle.


    Sources:
    The Jewish legend of Lailah, the Angel of Conception
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful as Grianan shares her inner light with others =D=
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great insight in Grianan and her character
     
  9. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: It helps against the darkness. Always does.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks for your kind words and your Christmas card that reached us before we left Germany. Wij zitten nu in het pieklein dorpje waar de moeder van @DarthUncle leeft. Hier is alleen maar de kerk en dat was het. Rond 96 zielen leven hier.


    I must hurry now, for Christmas is approaching. So, have a merry holiday season everybody!


    Chapter 9:

    I wake groggily to rocking movements. Aranea and Mora are crouched over me, their arms wrapped around my shoulders. They hold on as tightly as they can. My head rests between their chests. Something fluffy presses against my right cheek.

    “This is Bertha,” Aranea introduces a little toy bantha to me. “I want her to be with you. Just to remind you how old you actually are.”

    I let out a deep sigh. Tears of gratitude stream down my face, wetting us all. Including Bertha.

    Mora looks at me rather worried, but she says nothing. Instead she presses a long kiss on my brow.

    I recognize that I have been brought to Clementia. We are all lying in her bed nest now. I suppose Mora's mother is in the snake temple for her daily duties.

    My chest starts hurting suddenly. Somebody dear to me has died.

    The shiny figure of Mother beams down on us just one heartbeat later.

    “Are you dead now, big queen?” Aranea starts shivering. She sees and hears exactly what I do. I am glad that I am not the only one seeing ghosts.

    “I always loved your sharp senses, child!” Mother jokes lovingly.

    “Why are you dead?” Aranea asks with a reproachful undertone. “Could you not have waited until Grianán is better? That was very selfish of you.”

    Mother looks very smug, her emerald green eyes slits of amusement. “As far as I can judge the situation, my daughter is healing. You two are her fortress. What more can I ask for?”

    “Your body?” Aranea mumbles.

    Mother is not offended in the least. “Believe me, there is not enough body left to go back to. Only pain.”

    Aranea ponders on that before saying, “What's with the ghost thing? Are you punished for being a witch?”

    That remark makes Mother laugh. “The opposite is the case, little warrior. It is a reward.”

    “Are you sure that the Force is not trying to pull your leg?” Aranea looks critically at her.

    Mora decides to open her mouth. “The queen is not like the evil spirits in the crypt. She is a guardian angel.”

    “Are you?” Aranea challenges Mother fearlessly.

    “Let me be the backup until Luna is old enough to join your special fight club,” Mother suggests.

    “You could have least asked the Force for wings, big queen,” mutters Aranea. “Angels are supposed to have wings. In Amnionian and Terran legends they do.”

    “Grianán. Love and friendship are always stronger than anything else.”

    With that Mother is gone again.

    “That was helpful,” Aranea starts moaning. “Why do ghosts always speak in riddles?”

    ********************************************************************

    I am not healthy enough to join either Mother’s funeral or the inauguration of Nanny as the Holy Consort of the realm. But I am allowed to stay with Clementia and Mora until I am better again.

    My brothers and sisters visit daily, some more frequent than others.

    When my stomach seems more stable and my eyes have lost their haze, I am introduced to popcorn. It is made out of maize and is nothing like the usual corn meals that I know insofar. The girls make generous quantities with a stove top kettle in the kitchen. I like the sound of the popping corns against the lid. But the best part of it is that the sweet tasty balls come with movie disks. Grandfather Narthex rents us his entire private library for free and has somebody install all the equipment in Clementia’s humble jungle hut.

    In the many sun weeks of my recovery, I watch all that there is to see from the Amnionian film industry. My favourites are musicals, comedies and love stories with a happy ending. Real life is so utterly different, and I enjoy escaping it.

    As time wears on, I turn my head to more serious matters. I decide to learn the holy mudrās of our people from Clementia and they do me good. Especially the one for meditation, concentration and the divine. For that I need to place my hands on my lap. The right one is placed on left with my fingers fully stretched. Five fingers need to rest on each other, while the thumbs face upwards towards one another in a diagonal line. In the end my hands and my fingers form the shape of a triangle, with the palms facing upwards.

    “You glow,” whispers Mora reverently.

    “Of course she does,” remarks Clementia. Her face radiates unbelievable happiness. “Grianán is a daughter of the light, an angel in humanoid form.”

    My friend looks less convinced than her mother. “Why do people try to destroy her then?”

    “Lights and beauty stir greed and other lower instincts,” Clementia explains, her hands shifting into the mudrā of discussion.

    “Vicomte Ankoù is not a greedy man, mater.”

    The lime green eyes of Mora gleam in the twilight of the snake temple. She means to say more, but decides to stay silent. I love her for that.

    “Oh child, he is misled by his own goodness,” Clementia argues. “You could say he is a fallen angel.”

    Mora smirks. “Our religion is not about angels. It is about following the flow of creation, keeping balance.”

    “We live in a time where that very balance is at stake. Many humanoid races come together. Religious ideas collide.” Clementia reaches out, stroking one of my cheeks in motherly tenderness. “The Cycles of Heavens sends out its angels into the mortal world that they may bring wisdom into their world.”

    A shadow appears in the temple entrance. “Or stupidity.”

    “Do not judge the Vicomte too harsh, Aranea,” warns Clementia. “He needs saving from his demons.”

    “Demons?” My oldest friend makes a face. “He needs his brain checked, if you ask me.”

    Since Aranea is on that internship at fovea centralis she sounds more grown-up than ever. And she is definitely more critical with Luçien. She even has the theory that he is a serial killer. Or a psychopath. Therefore I see her next remark coming and smirk in advance.

    “Perhaps his pre-frontal cortex is damaged. His rational thinking and empathy work badly it seems.”

    “It is more his heart that is injured severely,” Clementia sighs. I can tell that she has pity with him.

    With trembling steps my oldest friend comes closer. “I thought we Ophidea were finished with blood sacrifices long ago.” Her voice is shrill and harsh. “Grianán will not end up as one. Even though she is as trustful as a lama I do not want her to end up on the altar of Ankoù’s ego.”

    A steely sternness that I never have witnessed in Clementia before steals into her voice. “That is not for you to decide.”

    “She is but six,” protested Aranea fiercely.

    “Her body yes, but her soul is ancient.”

    I find myself hanging over Aranea’s right shoulder within a heartbeat. “You are all perverts,” she rants. “Queeny wanted to give her to that Elfin zombie lady. Agathos and Narthex were prepared to leave her on Amnion with religious fanatics. And you would marry her off to that dangerous desert cat if you could.”

    “You can carry Grianán out of the temple, child,” muses Clementia. “But you cannot carry her away from her destiny.”

    From my weird position I feel Aranea shake with anger. “Ankoù is not her destiny. There is no such thing as a soul bond. I believe in free will.”

    Clementia moves faster as the light and bars the entrance with her slender body. “And I believe you are too emotional here. Sit down and have a hot chocolate with us, Aranea. That might calm your nerves and cleanse you from anger.”

    A deep chuckle rumbles through my friend’s chest. “I am not a chocolate addict like many folk in the River Delta. Come with a better suggestion, Clemmy.”

    “If I had the power to protect Grianán until her eighteenth birthday, would that conciliate you for now?”

    Hands are shook.

    “I kill you myself before you turn eighteen,” promises Aranea solemnly when she puts me on my own feet again. “Don’t you worry!”

    When I finally have to return to the nidulus – the royal bed nest – I am sad. My sisters and brothers need me more than ever, true, but my bond with Aranea and Mora is less complicated. Plus they know about Luçien. There is no way that I ever can tell my siblings about him.

    ********************************************************************

    By the end of the summer, Luna turns four sun-years-old and her foster-mother Saeta allows us to take her with us for our excursions on the Holy Isle. Her scientific work in the underground laboratories keeps her very busy. My godchild does not mind. She has grown more independent and confident. The lecture of love has sunk in. I am happy for her.

    Almost every day, the four of us go swimming in the Mother River until Éleos has to drag us out again. By then, our skins are as wrinkled as those of old women.

    We practice our paranormal skills in secret, usually during our boat tours.

    Fovea centralis has stopped watching us and my siblings can not manage to find us when we are together. So we can indulge ourselves in forbidden practices.

    Luna, despite her young age, is good in producing a single bolt of plasma lightning and hitting any random target straight in the middle.

    Mora is good at manipulating the thoughts of others, or diving into them, but she does not like to do it very often. “A gift like that comes with great responsibilities for other beings,” she remarks. “And my mother will not approve of such deeds.”

    Aranea is good at hide and seek, using telekinesis as much as levitation. She also can feel attacks before they happen, which is bad news for attackers, such as predators with unrealistic goals concerning us.

    But in the very end, it is Nanny who proves to us that she is at the top of the food chain. One afternoon, she catches us practising. Nothing alerts us to her arrival until it is too late. Luna just has produced big holes in watermelons. Smoke hangs in the air.

    “Interesting,” Nanny says, her eyes wandering over us. “And I always wondered where that faint smell of burned items came from, Grianán. Usually it lingers on your entire skin and hair.”

    We try to have blank eyes and faces, but her feline nose smells our fear too well. She takes it in with satisfaction.

    Finally, Nanny pats my head, while she addresses all of us. “In autumn the majority of the royal court will go to Dún Barr. I suggest that you take your three best friends with you, Grianán.”

    The girls look at her in amazement.

    Isabeau has more surprises in stock. “Such talents as I witnessed today should not go untutored. The four of you can have some quality time in between, sure. You are children still. But there must be some weapon training, language lessons and other subjects that are required for a princess and her official hand maidens.”

    “Hand maidens?” barks Aranea. “You must be joking.”

    “Calling the three of you bodyguards would be too easy to target for our enemies, don't you think?” Nanny turns thoughtful. “You know what? All of you will refer to me as Isabeau from now on. I am done with being Grianán's care taker. She will have to learn to watch out for herself from now on. And you three better guarantee me that she will be.”

    ********************************************************************

    Apart from my siblings, everybody else is happy about the unusual choice that Isabeau has made.

    “Why them?” Daná complains at dinner, grimly mashing up her feta cheese.

    “Because I feel it is right,” Isabeau answers curtly, her cat eyes alight with humour.

    My family and I are all sitting outside the bungalow that she still inhabits with Father and Grandfather. Four chairs among us remain empty as usual, but nobody is willing to remove them from the table. They are silent memorials.

    “It is bad enough that you will send Éleos and Sereno off to live with some slimy Elves,” Caelestris moans. “Now we have to bear Grianán's friends among us. She needs no handmaidens at her age. What sort of non-sense is that?”

    “Then grow up quickly, my dear, and become the next god queen in line. Then you can make your own decisions and I can lean back, enjoying my well-deserved pension as Holy Consort.”

    My older sister bits her lip and says no more. Adamah would have reacted with a more spicy answer, but Caelestris is more shy and uncertain. I actually cannot imagine her as the next god queen. She lacks the aggressiveness that is necessary for the position.

    Isabeau puts down her cutlery. “As far as I am concerned, Aranea, Mora and Luna are valuable members of this household. Your mother wanted them to be with her. Live with it!”

    I give my utmost not to look too triumphant. My siblings have started to cling to the remaining family members in unhealthy ways. They form a constant telepathic unit that feels like a battle transformation. I love them all, but I am a person on my own, not a community.

    Besides, they leave Ce out and that is not overly clever, too. I must make more time for my Force-blind sister. Somehow I will manage. I usually do.

    ********************************************************************

    With my three bests friends at Dún Barr, life becomes blissful. Shadow people, mist apparitions, flying orbs and flaring objects stop being a problem for me. I even find ways to expel all the ghosts that I do not wish to make any contact with. The residual energies can not suck life energy out of me any longer. I cease being a victim.

    The mudrās that Clementia has taught me do their additional work on my body, mind and soul.

    Instead of walking around timidly on my own, the four of us explore the most gruesome parts of the castle in our free time.

    One time, when break down a wall in the old dungeon, we find a dark pathway behind it. When we follow it, we walk straight into the old torture chamber. In its heart stands a dusty porta nigra, forgotten by the world above. We swear an oath to keep it a secret.

    The first letter from my godmother, Her Holiness Mórag MagUhidir, comes precisely three sun months after the events of Polysýndeton. It is a plain white envelope with the seal of the Holy Inquisition. Isabeau chooses to ignore it. It is our first sun week back on the Holy Isle.

    “I hardly have unpacked my luggage,” she groans. “This can wait.”

    The second letter follows seven sun days later. It disappears in the same drawer as its predecessor.

    This is why Mórag decides to pay us a personal visit. I feel her the moment she enters my sanctuary. She has a very strong and unmistakable signature. There is nobody as mighty as her in the living realm.

    “I will be gone for a while,” I inform my siblings. We just have played hide and seek together, because they had begged me to spend some quality time with them.

    I draw the Force around me like a cloak, just as the Ankoù twins have taught me. That will work better than the silly mud camouflage that my siblings have come up with.

    It is a hard and long discussion between Mórag and Isabeau, but in the end I do not need to join the beanmna feasa yet. I have left another three sun years for my disposal and I better use them well.

    ********************************************************************

    Soon, my training sessions with the girls have a more dangerous edge to them. We are ruthless, seeking danger on solemn purpose.

    I know that I behave undisciplined in an inexcusable way, but I can not help it. After a hard study day with a lot of knowledge that goes into my head, I simply need a healthy physical balance to it, if only to get rid of all the court etiquette, politics and history.

    In comparison to the rest of my siblings, I have no talent in needle work. I enjoy books and I have a love affair with them, but it is the Force that is the core of my life.

    When I cause the power supply of the Holy Isle to shut down completely, Isabeau is furious. “Enough is enough. I will personally see that the four of you find the limits that you seek out! We start with 'The Book of Earth' and will move on to the other four volumes gradually.”

    My friends and I glance at each other nervously.

    “There are other ways for attack and defence than paranormal capabilities.” A malicious smile springs from Isabeau's lips. “You will learn them the hard way.”

    Daná runs out of the jungle. “Me, too. Oh please pick me, too! Not always them!”

    Isabeau gazes at my sister through narrowed eyes. Naughtiness is reflected in them. “Very well, then our number will be even. That is very good for sparring. As I understand, all of you have gathered some prior knowledge about weapons and fighting.”

    We nod carefully.

    “Forget all you have learned!” Isabeau licks her lips deliberately. “We will make a new fresh start! The first thing you will learn is discipline. Without it you will never become true warriors.”

    ********************************************************************

    For the rest of the day, we are made to carry heavy water buckets between the river and the bungalow. My hands are calloused and bloody when the sun sets on us. It is a fair punishment for using plasma bolts earlier on.

    Daná is too proud to moan, but her pain is obvious to me. Her entire back is stiff. I bet that her shoulders equally hurt. “I wonder what Isa will come up with tomorrow,” she says breathlessly. “Lidérc can be pretty harsh with their offspring.”

    To distract herself from her own body, my sister begins to tell us stories of how nomad children are brought up. The girls and I have trouble believing them. Bamboo canes and leather whips are a bit much. I cannot imagine Luçien leaving marks of remembrance on the skin of his remaining son.

    When I miss him too much, I lie down on a tree trunk and recall some of his memories that I have peaked into when I was his guest at the Sapuhrian Embassy. Back then he showed me his true self. I am sure of it.

    ********************************************************************

    The next mornings, Isabeau expects us at dawn and has more impossible tasks for us. We do not dare to question any of them until Daná’s pain becomes too much and she dares to oppose Isabeau. She finds herself doing twenty-five push-ups. The more she argues, the more she has to do. In the end, she reaches the hundred mark.

    At the end of the first sun week, we cling to every word that Isabeau says to us. We admire her stern resolve and purpose. Each of us wants to please her during training sessions.

    In due time, we re-learn how to sit and how to stand; when to shout and when to be absolutely silent. We have to fly through the air and walk on our hands; we spar unarmed, and then with pole weapons. Later on, swords and daggers are brought into play.

    We all suffer injuries of various kinds. None of them are permanent, but they hurt for sure. More than once, we bloody our noses with our training staffs. We also give each other black eyes with our kicks and strokes. Bones get sprained and muscles bruised. Here and there is a ghastly cut from ground contact.

    [​IMG]

    Each time Grandfather passes us by, he shakes his head in disapproval. He looks very, very troubled. Now and then he drops a remark about 'not ladylike behaviour' and 'wild Amazon women'. He cannot stand watching the drama.

    With Father, it is the opposite. He puts his beloved books aside more than once and always finds an encouraging word for each of us. At times, he jumps up from his rattan chair and applauds frantically, as if we are circus acrobats doing a show for him. Isabeau frowns each time he does that and reminds him of his weak heart.

    “Seeing the girls thriving under your tutelage makes me very happy,” is his standard reply and leaves her mollified each time.

    ********************************************************************

    By the time we reach ´The Book of Water´, the girls and I have learned to bear our injuries with dignity and grace. Our bodies are lean and steeled after three sun years of hard work.

    The Shesha guards all around the Holy Isle greet us like battle comrades. Should my paranormal skills ever fail me as a tool I have other means to fight an aggressive attacker off.

    But I can not prevent the ghost of Mother to bear bad news to all of us. She comes to me in the dim hours of dawn. The familiar prickle on my skin wakes me to her presence.

    Mother signals me to follow her outside the royal bedchamber.

    Disentangling myself from my brothers and sisters, I leave the bed nest. Under normal circumstances they would have noticed, but I suppose that the appearance of a ghost bends the rules a slightly bit. Not even their breathing rhythm changes.

    Bathed in her own blue light, Mother stands on the great plaza. Her back is resting against a tall stele that contained the life story of some ancestor of mine. “Bella!” she greets me warmly.

    I am straightforward. “You always come for a reason.”

    Her smile widens, yet there is sadness in her eyes. “Your destiny wants to move in permanently.”

    I frown before the realisation comes through to me. “He will come to me?”

    She shakes her head in denial. “Luçien actually wants to be there for your father. His heart is not well. There is nothing that you can do against it. If I can give you some advice: take cover! Seek shelter somewhere else before you are an adult!”



    Sources:
    ´The Book of Five Rings´ (original title: Go Rin no Sho) from the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, written around 1645
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle likes this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating encounters continue. @};-
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: And because @DarthUncle wants to do some reading on the train tomorrow here is another chapter.

    I hope @Kahara, @earlybird-obi-wan, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, @Nehru_Amidala & @Darth_Furio have a merry Christmas, too.


    Chapter 10:

    The next morning, Isabeau also gets visited by Mother. An event that does not contribute to lighten up her spirits. While Daná and I are testing the crane style against one another, she starts shouting, “Do me one favour! If you ever die, do not waste your time on useless hauntings.”

    “Isa,” I give Daná a sign that I want to end the training session. “Mother appeared to each of us with messages and words of love.”

    My sister goes for the short and painful way. “One thing that matters is that Luçien is coming.”

    Isabeau looks at her as if she is an unknown jungle plant. “Nonsense. He would never dare.”

    Grandfather comes out of the Mother Jungle. His timing is exquisite, as usual. “Actually, he would. Agathos invited him.”

    “He would never do such a stupid thing.”

    “Luçien has had regular contact with him since the events of Polysýndeton. They write each other on a weekly basis. I never did mention it before; there was no need to upset you.”

    “Upset me?” Isabeau’s laugh has a mad edge to it. “Letter writing seems to be the favourite hobby of this family. Is anybody else writing letters to unacceptable persons?”

    “His Lordship seems regretful about the death and destruction that he has caused.”

    “And how exactly does he intend to close the wounds? Send flowers? Write poems? Erect a temple? Crawl up the holy pyramid on his knees?”

    I drop the verbal bomb before anybody else can. “Actually he wants to help dad as a personal secretary.”

    “Is there more writing to be done?” roars Isa. “If matters are too much for Agathos, then I can help him with the state affairs.”

    “Isabeau,” says Grandfather carefully. “The latest results of Agathos' heart tests are not the best. The medical team is not satisfied that he does not agree to a transplant or any operation. Therefore Luçien has agreed to be his personal healer in secret and to be his secretary in public.”

    “This plan lacks any logic. I will not allow you to go through with it. There is no way that I will ever accept my cursed step-brother as a member of the court. Not even if you want to have men's evenings with water pipes and card games.”

    Daná tries to prove that she has learned a lot the past sun years by saying, “One has to keep one's friends close and one's enemies even closer.”

    “You do not wish to have something like him at all at the royal court. Listen, Daná! Luçien is a trained assassin and the user of dark powers, even though he tries to convince himself that he serves the light.”

    I exchange a long glance with my sister. We have not trained that hard to get frightened by the first real opponent who crossed our way, but at times it is better to stay alert instead of attacking.

    ********************************************************************

    In the end, I cannot stand being reunited with Luçien so soon. Not after running through Nanny’s memories again. Instead, I chose to prepare her for our visitors by doing her hair, donning her in tribal clothing of the Mare Coloris. I even lend her some of the crown jewels.

    But when Nanny wants to join the actual dinner party I do not find it in my heart to join her. I am scared to death.

    While she is walking over the main plaza, I take a random holocron, a cube instead of a pyramid, and record a message for her. It takes me ages to get the words right.

    “Isabeau. When this device finds you, I will be gone to see Her Holiness Mórag MagUhidir. Please forgive me! It is the only way, the only hope. I love you; I always have.”

    I am about to leave the royal bedchamber to store the eye phone somewhere safe, when Daná stands breathlessly before me. “Why didn’t you eat with us?” she manages to get out.

    “I was not hungry,” I insist.

    She comes closer. “You are up to something. You have not been part of our telepathical jam since Nanny came up here with you. Éleos is more than upset about that.”

    There is no point lying to her. “I think it is better that I start my service for Mórag straight away. It is a bad idea for me to stay at court with Luçien hanging around.”

    Daná crosses her arms in front of her. The confident way she stands tells me that Caelestris is the wrong candidate for the royal crown. “You want a witch hunter off your cute little bum by joining the Order of the beanmna feasa. Where is the logic in that? You might as well sign the order for your termination straight away.”

    “Luçien is not after the Holy Inquisition,” I argue carefully.

    “Duh, not yet.” Daná rolls her eyes at me. “You do not understand much of politics and religion, do you?”

    I shake my head. “I cannot see the connection with Luçien here.”

    “You remember how determined mom always was when punishing people she thought to have it wrong? I can clearly see that in Luçien. He is ruthless and he is precise. Soon he will be after the abbess and her order.”

    “All the more reason that I have to go.” I try to shove my sister out of my way.

    “Why do you want to be with Mórag anyway? There is nothing that she can teach you,” Daná says.

    “Oh yes, there is. Perhaps this will help me to understand why Mother was so afraid of her all her life.”

    She gives me a very suspicious look. “You like to be complicated, don’t you?”

    ********************************************************************

    Of course Nanny is not willing to let me go. She comes after me on a rancor, when I am already marching through the Montes Nubii.

    To my surprise, she has another proposal for me. I am to stay at the desert village of Sendero, officially for health reasons, and she will continue my training. Daná was eager to join me.

    Over the next three sun years we continue our martial arts training with ´The Book of Five Rings´.

    Nanny goes forth with the last volume: ´The Book of the Wind´. It is primarily concerned with rather specific details of alternative war strategies. The overall lesson is clearly that it is important to understand various methods of fighting that any opponent may use.

    I am indeed desperate to understand Luçien and Mórag. If I fail this task, what other choices were there for this sun system? Love and understanding are my weapons in a war that I have not started. It has to be sufficient.

    Daná, my three best friends, and I also have the opportunity to be raised as desert tribal women. I like that very much, apart from the cooking and household tasks. I am not very good with those.

    The best part of the nomad life style is the herding of animals. I love goats as much as cattle. They are wonderful to be around. I help with the calves being born and disassembling dead members of the livestock. To muck out stables is fun.

    At the village of Sendero I am never homesick for there is a constant flow of visitors from the Holy Isle. Aranea, Mora and Luna come through the porta nigra as often as they can.

    ********************************************************************

    During the annual midwinter holidays, I am able to stay with my entire family at Dún Barr. Luçien chooses to leave during the latter half of the sun year, either to return to Sapuhru or to be with Sionnach and her family. Father and Grandfather are not willing to tell me.

    However, it is inevitable that he and I will one another at a point.

    It happens during a walk through Ceilonwyn. Instead of längdåkning I have chosen snow shoes. I am completely on my own, wrapped in a thick fur coat. The air is crisp with frost and there is a deep layer of snow covering the landscape.

    Via the Force Luçien reaches out for me, surprised and pleased.

    Soon, I notice his lone figure approaching on a horse. “Grianán!” he calls out joyfully.

    I stay where I am, bracing myself.

    In a swift movement, Luçien is off his horse and strides towards me. His face is unmasked. Instead of desert robes he is wearing the fur-trimmed clothing of an Udaler, a human of the Northern Regions.

    “Long time no see!” Luçien pulls off his leather gloves and throws them in the snow. “How old are you now? Nine?”

    I nod eagerly. “I will turn ten in spring.”

    “How time flies.”

    He kneels in front of me like in the old days. Then he removes my cap with both hands. I can not help but smile at him, while he studies my face thoughtfully.
    “You have quite a sun tan there. I must say you look healthier than everybody wants to me to believe. You are definitely not at the brink of death.”

    “Not yet.”

    He tips my nose in a teasing manner. “I like you best alive!”

    My eyes wander towards his horse. It is a black, impressive stallion who looks into my direction curiously. There is some dead game hanging from the saddle. I count two snow rabbits. “Is that for Cousin Sionnach’s household?” I ask.

    Luçien is surprised that I mention her straight away, but he is not cross. “No, actually those rabbits are for my own dinner. I have a hunting lodge nearby that I built myself.”

    My mouth flies open in surprise. “You know how to build a house?”

    That makes him laugh. I had forgotten how his face can glow when he is in a happy mood.

    I make a decision, based on the tingling feeling in my belly. “What about a cup of tea and some cookies at your place?”

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien lets me sit in front of him. His left arm rests protectively around my waist. We enjoy the silence together. There is no need to talk. Old familiarity comes back to us. We are one in the Force.

    The trees groan under their heavy snow burden, while the sky is overcast with a continuous snowfall. I have an idea in which part of the forest I am in now. There is no need to worry and so I lean back, listening to Luçien’s heartbeat.

    When the hunting lodge comes into view, I hold my breath. Luçien has erected a two story house in the heart of Ceilonwyn. It is more of a family estate than a simple lodge. I am more than impressed; I am stunned.

    He slides out of the saddle, puts his hands around my hips and helps me down on my own feet. His hands are still ungloved. “Here you go, Grianán!”

    I keep on starring, taking every little detail of the building in. The windows are made out of Elfin glass and immediately catch my eye. The midwinter castle has similar ones. There are heavy, yet elegant shutters to protect them for the severe storms around oskorei, the Wild Hunt.

    “I had to admit, I had some help with this project,” Luçien says from behind me. “Some friends of mine lent me a hand, once they saw the construction plans. They wanted to be a part of it. Do you like it?”

    I nod, glad to hear that he has some friends. He can not be that lost to the darkness if he has any. Apart from Solitaire, Mother had been friendless all her life. And Mórag, as much as I have found out by now, just has minions, scared priestesses who will do anything not to end up dead.

    “Would you like to go inside?” Luçien offers.

    “Yes, please!”

    The front door opens into the main room, which is as large as the library of Dún Barr. Its impressive ceiling is supported by massive timbers.

    There is a large collection of animal skins and trophy animals. Luçien even has constructed two chandeliers made of antlers. A broad staircase leads upstairs, where I can see five doors.

    “Do you live here permanently?” I ask, while he helps me out of my coat and hangs it up for me.

    “Whenever I need to get a clear head. With no near neighbours apart from Sionnach, and no roads, there is no danger of intrusion. I like it quiet.”

    “Do you never have any visitors?” I inquire carefully.

    [​IMG]

    “Of course. I expect some company for the winter solstice as usual.” Luçien walks off to light the chimney fire by using a single plasma blow.

    “Who is to come?”

    “Commander Cú Síth, the archbishop of Polysýndeton and a young barbarian lord from the Eastern Prairies. But that is still three weeks from now on.”

    “Commander Cú Síth!” My eyes widen. “The werewolf?”

    “Taran is a war veteran, Grianán.”

    I let my gaze continue to wander. The furniture is made out of local wood. One of the most beautiful pieces is a mosaic twig table. “You really made this?” I exclaim excitedly, not daring to touch anything.

    “Sometimes I take my tools and have a go at carpenter work, yes.” He opens a corner cupboard, taking a cookie jar out of it. “So I suppose I found myself some useful hobbies, just as you requested. You are hard to disobey.”

    I watch him fumbling around with a samovar. Then he pulls out two mugs for tea. Afterwards he loads a generous amount of cinnamon cookies on a wooden plate.

    “What about Sionnach and your sons?” I ask while munching on the first cookie that he offers me.

    “Éibhear and Garou like the lodge very much. But Sionnach shuns it. There are too many dead animals. You see, she is a vegetarian.”

    He has indeed many trophy heads on the walls. There are different types of bears and deer. I also can make out several wild birds and a ram. But there are no wolves or foxes. He loves those too much, relates them to Commander Taran Cú Síth and to Sionnach.

    “I need to take care of the snow rabbits now. Just stay here in the warmth and make yourself at home, Grianán. There is no need for you to walk out into the cold again.”

    I call out quickly, “But I can help you to skin and disassemble the rabbits.”

    “Really?” Luçien is delighted. “I would love to see that.”

    ********************************************************************

    Many sun hours later, my stomach is full with venison, cookies and tea. My hands are also clean again. The blood from the game is long gone. Luçien has plenty of lavender soap at the Hunting Lodge.

    “Thank you for the nice afternoon!” I announce from my comfortable sofa, a bright smile plastered on my face.

    “I owed you as much after our last unfortunate meeting in the Embassy.” His features are unreadable. “I suppose we will not see each other for a while now. You will go hiding again from me.”

    I nod with a heavy heart.

    “Does that have to do with witch craft, Grianán?” His eyes turn concerned. “Because if it does, you are in great trouble.”

    “With you?” I holds his gaze.

    Suddenly, the front door opens.

    “Fee-fi-fo-fum,
    I smell the blood of a Tjiehenet,
    Be she alive, or be she dead
    I’ll grind her bones to make my bread.”


    I freeze with shock.

    ********************************************************************

    Commander Cú Síth glares down at me with his sulphur yellow eyes. “I was drawn in by that sweet smell.” Suppressed laughter swings in his hoarse voice. “You caught yourself your own little angel full of midwinter grace, mon ami.”

    “Grianán is a guest of mine. Not a premature present for you.”

    “Pity.”

    The werewolf gives me a grin that is mostly teeth. He may have the face of an Elf, but even his tiniest movements give him away as the canine predator that he is. But, on top of all, he is half naked.

    It takes me a while find my voice, given the circumstances. It is small and frightened, but I find it. As much as the strength to get up from the sofa. “What an honour to make your acquaintance, Commander. I heard so much about you.”

    His eyes widen because the courtesy bob that I grant him would only be given to an Elfin High-king, but he does not scold me. “What an unusual and kind welcome!”

    “My father always says that a man can only give honour to himself. I see it slightly different. We should honour everybody around us to make him or her feel important. Even though you are an arch-enemy of my family, I owe you my respect for the injuries and injustice you suffered the past thousand sun years.”

    I tremble uncontrollably when Commander Cú Síth reaches out for my right hand. He blows a courtly kiss on it.

    Impressions of the wilderness explode in my head, but I shake them off, not wishing to get sucked up by a past that is not mine. Instead, I try to concentrate on the here and now.

    “Well met, Your Royal Highness!” The werewolf exclaims. “You are actually the first Tjiehenet princess I’ve met who knows how to behave.”

    To my annoyance, he keeps my hand in his grip, letting his nose hover above the dorsum of my hand.

    This intimate gesture reminds me of Celia, the most dangerous rancor of Dún Barr. She is as mad as a hornet from exposure to the dark magic. I am one of the few people who is allowed to come near her and touch her.

    “You are in my vault now.” Commander Taran Cú Síth grins, ticks against his brow with his free index finger.

    I hope that is a good thing. He is an epitome of brutal strength and eagerness. Not an easy opponent to bring down.

    Luçien is still standing behind me, his hands resting casually on my shoulders. His touch is reassuring and comforting for me. “Now that we agreed that Grianán is not food, Taran, would you honour us by joining us for dinner? A chianti perhaps? Together with the mushroom soup?”

    The werewolf rises to his full impressive height again. “Seeing that you had no real hunting success in so far, I think I will stay outside for a while.”

    “I could make a venison and juniper stew for us, when you are back from the hunt,” suggests Luçien. “I will cool the chianti in the meantime.”

    Somehow I am glad that none of the men seems interested to enjoy my liver with that red wine. “But my family will worry,” I pipe up.

    “Do not worry, Grianán!” Luçien smiles. “I will request a permission for you personally.”

    In front of my eyes he vanishes into thin air.


    Sources:
    A slightly altered historical quatrain from the English fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle and Nehru_Amidala like this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb update where we see the tie binding Grianan to Lucien becoming closer, in a destiny-type fashion. @};-
     
  13. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Hidden quotes, my old friend.

    Merry Christmas to you as well.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  14. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha & @Nehru_Amidala: Since I am off to the CZ republic soon, let me give you another Christmas update for three is a magical number.


    Chapter 11:

    Being alone with Commander Cú Síth is extremely awkward. Even though he has washed in the meantime and is dressed in Udaler clothing. For an Elf he is rather hairy. He has a stubby beard that gives him something dashing. His straw-blond hair is done in a neat pony tail, that is held together by a thin leather strap. His decent attire though does not ease the tension.

    “Your Highness,” he addresses me with his rich Highland voice, “This is no raid. I am a guest here as much as you are. Be more cheerful. It is midwinter tide.”

    I giggle nervously, hating myself for it immediately. The werewolf is just straight forward and I act stupid.

    “Do you think that you can manage to sit closer to me and bring the cookie tin with you?” His eyes are fixated on my anxious face. “Around midwinter I relish in childhood habits rather than eating fresh meat. Luçien’s work of confectionery art is always worth acting civilised.”

    I pass him the cookie tin. It feels like a pulsating star in my hand.

    “Relax, lass! You are not on my food list. Now have a cookie!”

    “But dinner...” I start.

    “Does not matter! Go for a cookie,” Commander Cú Síth insists gently. “Luçien might need more time.”

    He watches me nibbling on an Elfin shortbread finger. I choke on it several times.

    “It is not a carrot, lass. And you are not a rabbit,” the werewolf jokes.

    I give him a reproachful glance.

    “Oh, you have your mother’s fire. That is for sure. But you also have your father’s eyes. That helps. I bet it calms that inner fire. Don’t tell me, your element is earth, right?”

    Perplexed, I nod.

    Commander Cú Síth takes a cookie and begins crunching on it with unhidden enthusiasm. Crumbs flow in every possible direction. Those jaws are made for tearing flesh from something alive.

    “I have seen generations of god queens grow up and die in battle. Some even between my jaws. They were nothing like you. So young, so fresh and so innocent. A white jungle orchid. Luçien should close your file once and for all.”

    “It is still open?”

    “He did not only invite your in for company today. You are right on trial. He just refrains from Thumbscrews, the Chair of Torture and the Pear of Anguish because I am around. Or because he really cares about you.”

    “Why do you save me?”

    “You seem very much deserving, lass.”

    Tapadh leat,” I say. Thank you.

    “Se do bheatha.” My attempt to speak is mother tongue grants me another one of those flashy smiles. “You are welcome. Besides, your esteemed Grandfather sent for me this morning. He rules the North, not your Isabeau Riwalan. I had to obey.

    ********************************************************************

    About half an hour later, with Luçien still missing, I follow the werewolf outside. There I help him hang, draw and quarter his game. It is a large elk.

    “I know what you did,” Commander Cú Síth tells me while taking the guts out with his bare hands. “But you secret is safe with me. You already will have Mórag all over you due to it. If she truly hates anyone in this universe, it is her two half-brothers.”

    Placing the large heart of the dead elk in another large bowl, I am very thoughtful.

    “Take a well-meant warning from me, lass. Soul partnerships are intense. They can drive people to the edge of madness.” The werewolf gives me a thoughtful look. “With our tom-cat here you only have two options. To join him in hell or to lift him into heaven with you.”

    “Why are you with him?” I ask boldly.

    “’S toigh leam briosgaidean gu mòr!” He smiles thinly. I like cookies a lot!

    ********************************************************************

    When I enter the in-yard of the castle Gregory Fry, the High Chamberlain, stands there with Grandfather. They both are engaged in a deep conversation and are smoking meerschaum pipes. I choose to join them, my snow shoes tucked under my left arm.

    “Ah, Grianán,” Grandfather beams, when he notices me. “I had not expected you back before sunset. The Commander is very fond of kind company like yours. Dinner will not be served before then.”

    He is not in the least concerned about the long walk that I had done all by myself, nor was Gregory, who simply asks, “Would You like to have a hot chocolate, Your Highness?”

    I follow both men into the kitchen, which is overcrowded with servants in midwinter spirits. There is much laughter and singing.

    Even though I am a royal princess by birthright, it never fails to amaze me how many people are required to keep the midwinter fortress going. With the help of Grandfather, who is the Grand Steward and master valet of Father in one person, I have studied their ranks and rules.

    First there are the supreme officers of the royal Court, such as the Grand Cup-Bearer, the Grand Master of the Hunt Supreme and the vox draconis, the Grand Chamberlain and messenger of the royal family.

    Next comes the Chief Officers of the Household, which includes the Premier Marshal of the Household, the Premier Master of Ceremonies, the Premier Master of the Robes, the Premier Cellarer and the Premier Master of the Horses and Mews.

    Then of course there are the housekeeper, various footmen, chamber maids, parlour maids, page boys, house maids, grooms, between maids, under cooks, kitchen maids, stable boys, scullery maids, gardeners, laundry maids, game keepers, ground keepers, craftsmen, candle boys and the gate keeper.

    Norn spots me immediately. The rustic Udaler woman from the Lake District is the Premier Master of the Kitchen, but she prefers to be called by either her birth name or to be titled as chéf. “Grianán!” she calls out.

    Obediently, I run towards her and get lost in her embrace for a while. She then sends me off with a big mug of chocolate and a mountain of midwinter cookies.

    “You are not really eating,” comments Grandfather after a while, his voice raised as a question.

    “I already had a lot of cinnamon cookies today,” I confess.

    Grandfather strokes his dense, curly beard. “And how is His Lordship? Apart from still being into cinnamon cookies that is. And being kind with a wandering child who seems lost in the wilderness.”

    “Luçien dropped me at the bridge.” I regard my fingernails, glad that they are clean from rabbit blood. “We did not wish to alert anybody.”

    Even though the High Chamberlain pretends not to listen in, I know he is. But my secret will be safe. In fact, nothing that I will say in this kitchen will ever leave it, unless I grant it.

    “Grianán, I do not believe that there is true cause for concern.” Grandfather takes my hand and squeezes it gently. “I know His Lordship very well. And so does your father.”

    Now the High Chamberlain is looking directly at me, his eyes full of warmth and worry. “His Lordship must really like you, Your Royal Highness, but I would indeed not mention it to the Holy Consort.” Gregory smiles, despite the gravity of the subject. “Mistress Isabeau would put a blame on him for deeds he is not capable of, even though he is fallen as much as your belated mother.”

    I blush deeply, because I know exactly what they refer to and it makes me sick. “Why is it that adults always see the worst case scenario?”

    The High Chamberlain sighs. “The line between justified concern and unnecessary fear is rather thin, Your Royal Highness. This is why evil can play with our hearts so easily. Always chose the middle path between serenity and passion.”

    “Well said, Greg!” Grandfather pats the back of his old friend.

    ********************************************************************

    The next morning Father calls for me right after the family breakfast. Bricka Paxton, the house keeper of Dún Barr, brings me the message. I thank her and run towards my father’s study. Breathlessly, I knock.

    “That was quick, agapi mou,” I hear Father exclaim through the door. Heartbeats later he opens.

    I jump into his open arms, enthusiastic with him as usual.

    Father looks down at me, grinning. “You cannot possibly know about the letter that I received last night, can you?”

    I blush, my eyes looking with the thick envelope on his desk.

    It occurs to me that Luçien is very lonely at present. It has been an awful lot of text that he has produced since he has parted from me. “Perhaps your old friend is under the impression that I am an evil witch that needs saving? Like Mother? Is that an arrest warrant?”

    “Grianán, if Luçien wanted you dead, you would be dead already.” Father plucks me off his chest and looks me straight into the eyes. “Not even my friendship with him or the involvement of the Commander could change your fate then, I am afraid.”

    Father moves on speaking and I try to concentrate on his mild voice again.

    “... you already have such a hard life with all your Force gifts. Seeing dead people, reading the past from the objects that you touch...”

    “My life is brilliant,” I protest mildly, “Of that I am sure. Because you are my father and there are so many other people who love me.”

    “Including Luçien.”

    I finally have to comment on the special relationship that I have with my dark mirror. Father needs to know the truth. “He has no other choice. I forged a soul bound with him on Doom´s Day.”

    Father gaps at me as he fully understood what I have done. “Soul partnerships are serious business, agapi mou.”

    With a warm feeling, I look over to the ghost of Aunt Adamah, who has been with us for a while now. She is transparent in the sunlight that floods the study. Her face is content and calm, even though the subject of soul partnership is a difficult one for her. She had to leave her lover Ruadhan Ahearne behind in the world of the Living.

    Not aware of the ghostly presence, Father continues talking. “I came to know a lot about the nature of soul partnerships via an Elfin friend of mine. What you did cannot be undone. Ever!”

    He lets go of me and starts pacing the room. I watch him in silence, giving him time to sort out his thoughts.

    “Luçien requested nicely if you can keep Taran and him company before his other midwinter guests arrive,” Father informs me after a while. “If you want to accept his invitation, that is. He would understand if you would feel too awkward to go.”

    Aunt Adamah's eyes beg me to give both Luçien and the Commander a chance.

    “I would like to go.”

    “Then please take care,” Father begs. “Sometimes Luçien is under the impression that you inherited some dark knowledge from your mother. Perhaps you can convince him that skills like yours do not indicate that somebody is evil.”

    ********************************************************************

    When I cross the draw bridge at noon I can see a lone rider in the distance. He does not dare to come closer and also chooses to mask his presence. I force myself to walk towards him reverently. No false haste. Butterflies are in my stomach and I feel strangely weightless. Almost like a feather.

    “Hallo there, Grianán! Long time no see!” Luçien grins through the hood of his thick fur coat. With that he can be easily mistaken for a human from the Northern polar region. His golden skin and cat eyes give his true species away though.

    I beam up at him, patting Czarny's neck. The black stallion eyes me happily. Like his master he can be a real sweetheart. “Grandfather will bring my luggage to your place later on,” I inform Luçien.

    “What did your father tell the rest of the family?”

    I stroke the mane of his steed. “That I am with friends.”

    “Yes, you will be.”

    ********************************************************************

    After we have feasted on roasted chicken with caramelized onions, we stay in the Hall of Fire to play cards. I do not know what shows on my face, but Luçien pauses mid-shuffle.

    “You had best say what’s on your mind, Grianán, for you still have twenty-one days with us.”

    “I could not help but wonder what your real motives are with having me here. Apart from missing Tāchys, that is.”

    “Go on,” he suggests as casually as possible, before dealing the cards. His daughter is still a painful subject.

    “This is like a witch trial, is it not? Just without diligent questioning. You want to see if I am really, really normal.”

    He puts his cards down. “You are anything but a normal child. But that is a good thing to me.”

    My mouth feels as if somebody has stuffed a large ball of cotton inside. “My father has this big library. It was hard to resist. I needed to know more of your profession. ”

    One of Luçien's hands reaches out for my wrist, closing around it firm, yet possessively. “You should never have opened one of my books in the first place,” he snaps. “Look what that did to your cheerful spirit.”

    For a while I only can hear my own blood pound through my head, and the fire burning through the branches. Books are not my main reading sources. Surfaces are. Of everyday objects, of furnitures, of jewellery and mostly skin. It's the most intimate one. And it contains the most memories and emotions.

    “When children die suddenly, a lot of things become hopeless,” he gurgles suddenly.

    His hurt makes my chest feel tight.

    Luçien presses his shivering lips together for several heartbeats but then he says with a more calm, even voice. “That is why I built this place here, far away from all the things that bother me.”

    I simply had to comment on it. “You took your fears with you, anyway.”

    “So did you,” he challenges me.

    Taran rolls his eyes at us. “Excuse me, but we were playing cards and not having a senate debate!” He gazes at Luçien and then back at me. “Let me assure you, nothing will ever happen to you under this roof. Ever! Can you begin your midwinter holidays now? Or is there more you need to know about his special occupation? Gruesome details perhaps? Or the exact numbers of the women Lu had to redeem for their own good? The locations?”

    I shake my head silently.

    The facts are well known to me. So are the names of the four mistresses Luçien had without Sionnach's knowledge. One of them is Irmgard, a Seeker of the Holy Inquisition. Touch-sensitive like me.

    “Then start smiling again, my little dreamer,” Luçien suggests. “I had the impression that you were winning this game.”

    Taran gives me a flashing grin. “I find that I do not mind losing from somebody as charming as you are.”

    ********************************************************************

    Throughout my midwinter holidays Luçien, Taran and I have long, extended meals together, talking about everything apart from politics and religion. Our views are too different.

    [​IMG]

    Luçien shows nothing but kindness and patience with me. It helps that he is a father to quite a few children, and that he knows a lot of games. I mostly like the strategy ones. Patole, Chaturanga, Mancala and Pachisi.

    During several occasions he plays the violin for us. I cry with delight each time.

    He is so talented, knowing many classical songs from Terra and Elfin tunes alike. His long fingers move with an amazing speed.

    “Does Sionnach know you can do that?” I ask, after he has finished a very long and sorrowful melody.

    He shrugs, lowering his instrument. “Does it matter?”

    “She should know that you are capable of so much beauty,” I protest.

    “Right now I play for you, not for her,” he scolds me and goes on playing.

    The music is now darker and more threatening.

    I enjoy it anyway, and listen with my head balanced on my elbows.

    A part of me begins to develop a grudge with Flor, his mother. Without her hunger for power Luçien could have been a different man. The slender fingers that move quick over the strings are instead deadly weapons. He can use anything to bring a victim down.

    My eyes sting, while I walk his dark memory lane.

    “Don´t!” Taran whispers, confident that Luçien is not listening to us. “What you see is but the past. He is here right now. So am I. Enjoy that fact! Only this moment counts, nothing else.”

    ********************************************************************

    At various times during my stay, Luçien vanishes to visit Sionnach, who lives nearby, but he never stays long with her and her large patchwork family. Mostly he delivers some meat, has some café with her and is off again.

    There is much laughter in the hunting lodge, especially when it is about my poor cooking skills or my fruitless efforts with a wood carving knife.

    “Nobody can be perfect, Grianán,” Luçien comforts me one grey winter afternoon, nursing my cut wound with his healing skills. It is the start of my second sun week with Taran and him.

    “What are you bad at?” I want to know.

    “Patience,” he answers straight away. “I also can be rather unforgiving with my enemies as you already found out. It might even be that I overstep the rules at times.”

    For Luçien that is a rather big revelation. I like that he can bare his soul to me. As far as I know he is not even this honest with his own sons.

    We are standing in his bedroom together, where he always works on his wooden statures. His work area is in front of the window.

    Sacre bleu!” Luçien cursed. “Holy blue! Sionnach is coming.”

    I feel a familiar presence somewhere between the trees. It is very dim though and I really have to concentrate on it. But it is definitely my sweet cousin.

    “Okay, I am in my room!” growls Taran from next door. He had a nap in his room.

    “I bet this is about the midwinter arrangements,” mutters Luçien. “Sionnach is not happy that I do not want to spend the feast days with her and the children. You all better stay up here. This is an argument that I do not wish you to witness directly.”

    Saying this, he rushes out of the room, eager to obliterate the tracks of his visitors. I watch him from the banister. “Can I help?”

    He raises an index finger, “You go into your room.”

    I am a bit sad that I can not make myself known Cousin Sionnach. Their relationship is already complicated enough. “Luçien?”

    He is busy stuffing my winter coat into a spacious chest, but he answers me straight away. “Yes, Grianán?”

    “Please do not make Sionnach cry!” I beg. “She loves you as much as an older brother and it pains her that you isolate yourself especially around this time of the sun year.”

    “Don't you think that I know that?” he snaps. “Her honesty and pity makes it even worse for me.”

    “Friendly love is NOT a curse,” I says loud enough that he hears me.

    “How little you know Sionnach.” He throws my winter boots into the chest as well. “Since she stumbled into my life, I am too emotional in all that I do. I can seldom concentrate on important tasks.”

    I stepped as close to the banister as possible. “Control comes from within. You should not blame her for your failings!”

    “Hear, hear! My little oracle has spoken.” He gives me a poisonous look.

    The knock, even though we had it all coming, startles us slightly.


    Sources:
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    DarthUncle likes this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Breathtaking depth of details. Agathos & Narthex are well aware of the dangers of soul bonds as well as Lucien's character flaws. [face_thinking]
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great updates. Soulbonds can be dangerous. And now a few days and it's 2020
     
  17. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: I learned about soul bonds from the "Elfquest" comics when I was 12 years old. Now I will turn 44 very soon...


    @earlybird-obi-wan: And @DarthUncle & I are back from our two journeys during my Christmas holidays. Which finally gives me time for another update. Especially our time in the CZ Republic was brief and filled with many activities, while our stay in the Netherlands before that was smooth.



    Chapter 12:

    “Luçien? Are you home?” Cousin Sionnach calls with a voice that is tainted by uncertainty and worry.

    Wordlessly, Luçien gestures me to vanish. I obey without questioning.

    I cannot hear the entire conversation, but I am able to sense their differences.

    [​IMG]

    When Cousin Sionnach finally leaves, she is very quiet. I watch her vanish into the forest again, hugging herself. She allows herself to break out in tears when she passes the tree-line.

    Luçien joins me at my observation post. “That did not go well at all,” he mutters.

    “That surprises you?” I look up to him, studying his tense face.

    “She takes the whole marriage business more serious than I do. Especially the part of caring for one another. I do not need to be cared of! Why can't she leave me alone when I want to be? I give her enough time and space to be with Skje. She should concentrate on him. I do not need her attention.”

    I take his hands and make him look at me. “You are blaming her for your mistakes. Again!”

    “Grianán!” His eyes turn into slits.

    “I understand why you married her. It is about the legacy of Garou's heritage, right?” It helps to be a royal princess and know about such things. “But you never explained that to Sionnach. It would have made a big difference. How is she supposed to know everything if you don’t tell her? You never told her about Lisiére either.”

    He growls again and tries to rip his hands free of mine. His twin sister's name holds a lot of power still.

    I hold tight and carefully lift his fingers to my mouth. I kiss them one by one. That always works for my siblings. “I know I am only eight and should not speak to this like you. But my parents had their problems, too. Children see a lot. More than adults want us to see.”

    “Your mother's marriage was at least a marriage formed by love.” He looks exhausted, but too tired to put up a real fight with me.

    I continue, encouraged by his near-silence. “You were the one who married her without asking. She does not even know that it was an invalid marriage.”

    He laughs hollowly and his chest trembles. “You sound like your grandfather now.”

    “Thanks to him, I know a lot about Sionnach.”

    Luçien frowns at me. “Narthex discussed my problems with you?”

    I frown at that. “Of course not. He is a master valet. But I am good at filling in the blanks. Got that from him I suppose.”

    “You exhaust me, Grianán.”

    I lower our hands again and let go of him. “You do that to yourself.”

    He remains quiet for several heartbeats, before saying, “I am fully aware that I cannot stop you pledging yourself to Mórag. But when you do, hold your tongue, or she will have it on a plate.”

    Suddenly, I feel very young and frightened. “Is she that dreadful?”

    His left hand comes to rest on my shoulders. “Let us say, Her Holiness is not as forgiving as I am.”

    I try to steer the subject into calmer waters. “What is for dinner?”

    “Good question!” says Taran who stands in the door frame suddenly.

    Luçien taps my nose and smiles at my abrupt change in subject. “Just pancakes with maple syrup. You can keep your sweet tongue where it is.”

    His friend grins. “Luc is not a gruesome ogre who takes young princesses apart just for the fun of it.”

    ********************************************************************

    The next evening, Taran winks at me, closing a little discussion we had about the obligations of a daughter of the House Tjiehenet.

    “Your family has a mountain residence. It will be expected of you to know all the local dances and the entire catalogue of Elfin dances. I will help your father launch you into society when your time has come.”

    “That still might be ten sun years from now on,” I mumble, very shy suddenly. Will Luçien notice that Isa has let me train for the Way of the Warrior when I am on the dance floor? Will my body language give it away?

    “Ten years can fly by rather quickly, especially when you spent them in Her Holiness' charge,” the werewolf laughs, getting up from the sofa. “She will make you dance to different tunes than we do. Make no mistake about that!”

    Blushing, I heave myself up. “It is really not necessary that we do that. I hate dancing.”

    Taran is not easily convinced. “Then you better start liking it, Grianán. It is part of your heritage. I may not have shared much with your mother, but I think she would agree with me here.”

    Seeing her ghost nod gleefully behind him I know Mother does more than just agree.

    For the rest of my stay, I learn various Elfin céilí dances and set dances, and also jigs and reels. I am also taught the polkas and waltzes that are popular among the Udaler community. Luçien happens to know a lot of violin tunes for Taran and me.

    ********************************************************************

    On my last afternoon in the lodge, Luçien lets me help him with more midwinter cookies. We do cinnamon stars and lemon hearts without Taran. The Commander is dozing on the carpet in front of the chimney, rolled up like a canine. He snores as if he is busy bringing the entire forest down with a wood saw.

    Luçien pushes me away from the oven door with a little swing from his hips. “I do not want my guests to eat little piles of ash. No offence, but you have no talent in the kitchen. The man who will marry you one fine day will need to do all the cooking and baking by himself.”

    “Who says that I ever want to get married? It is not a custom among the Ophidea,” I point out.

    “It is licentious NOT to marry a person whom you have children with.” His disgust shows all over his face. “This is the main reason I married Sionnach, even though my mother was against it.”

    “When I try to accept your traditions, Luçien, could you please try to accept those of my people?” I press the tray in his hands. “Even though you regard the majority of them as evil witches and crazy gen scientists, their customs are still a part of me and have purpose.”

    He smiles. “You are indeed good in filling blanks. Please cut out more stars and hearts now!”

    I wait until the second tray is out of the oven. Then I say, “Isa was never married.”

    Luçien raises an eyebrow, immediately on the defence.“There were other reasons for that. I certainly do not see you following her footsteps, Grianán.”

    I concentrated to get the cookies out of their baking forms nicely. “How do you know she never was with anybody? You never asked.”

    He turns his face away from me. “There was no need. A desert rose like her must soul bond with a camel at a certain age. You can blame me for the fact that she ended up a hopeless spinster. I was always so busy...”

    “With killing people, hunting down Force witches and making others follow the laws,” I interrupted him.

    “...that I did not take better care of that matter,” Luçien concludes. “And suddenly I had to bring her into exile.”

    My hug from behind causes his shirt to get smeared with dough, but he does not mind that. He turns around to hug me back and we remain silent for a while. Then I say, “You can always tell Isa that you are sorry! That you wish life had been different and more fulfilling for her.”

    “Even IF I was skilled at empty excuses, she would not believe me. I will remain a monster to her for all eternity.” He absent mindedly takes a towel and begins cleaning my left hand. “She does not understand the things I do. You at least attempt to try.”

    “That does not mean I approve,” I whisper.

    Luçien moves on to cleaning my right hand. “Of course you don't. I would be very worried if you did.”

    “Is that why I am still alive?” I can not help asking, even though a violent tremor goes through his entire body.

    “You have no pride that could ever lead you to a momentary lapse of focus. There is no legacy of bitterness. Nor do you have a brash, impatient spirit.” His hands cramp slightly and I have the feeling that he speaks about himself.

    “Can I make some tea for us?” I suggest softly. “I promise that I will not burn the tea bags.”

    “Burning tea bags!” Luçien laughs until tears come out of his eyes. The laughter turns into sobs and the tears come freely as he falls to his knees.

    Taran sleeps on, unconcerned. His snoring even becomes louder.

    “It is okay, Luçien.” I put my hands on his head.

    “Better promise me that you will NOT get into trouble when you are with Mórag. Because if you do then I need to go after you, Grianán.” He raises his head, his look unfocused first. “I mean it!”

    “You never could!” I state quietly, my fingers still playing with his locks.

    “Watch me, my little dreamer!” He sniffs. “I need to obey the rules when it is about Force witches. Never turn into something like your ancestors.”

    “I do not intend to!” I am half touched by his fears and half annoyed. Those undead creatures in the royal crypt of Cunabula are not my idols and never will be.

    “No more necromancy?” His tear-stained eyes search mine.

    “Why should I want to create my own clone toy? Because it could be better with housework than I am?” I give him a screwed look. “There is no need to raise the Dead either. I let them sleep in the ground where they belong. As for creating new races in the gen laboratory, I am not really interested in such stuff. My family has not been doing that since the end of the war. Moved on with the times!”

    “And your mother?”

    “She was the only exception. True.”

    “What about talking to spirits or conjuring them?” Luçien looks at me expectantly and unblinking.

    I rolled my eyes. “Me conjuring THEM? They are desperate to make themselves known to me. I basically stumble over them. Everybody has her or his own story they want me to acknowledge. Or they insist on telling me about the crimes led to their deaths.”

    His bewilderment grows. “They could be sinister demons from another dimension, trying to lure you into things that are not righteous. Look at your family history!”

    I give my best to sound natural and stir our conversation into much calmer waters. The last thing that I want to discuss with him are the undead inhabitants of the royal crypt. “Listen, my Aunt Adamah was the last spirit that I talked to since I came here. She even encouraged me to visit you.”

    “Your aunt,” he rumbles. “Just like that.”

    I eye Taran; he seems deep in sleep, and not in any particular need of tea. “Nobody would ever want to visit you, for fear of getting killed all over again.” I go towards the tea pot, checking if it contained enough water for the two of us.

    Luçien reaches out for my shoulders. “Upstairs!”

    I do not like his change of mood a single bit. “The tea?” My voice drops.

    “Later.”

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien locks us into his room. His face is a bundle of afflicting emotions. Something deep and profound is going on. “Do you know why we are sitting here?” he asks, trapping my hands in his own. Our heartbeats thud in synchronization.

    “Because you cannot let go of the impression that I am tempted by evil,” I answer truthfully. The intensity of his cat eyes frightens me. They drill straight into my soul like a pair of daggers.

    “You take the art of Necromancy too lightly, my little dreamer. Its study draws people in with the promise of power and riches. Their souls become corrupted in the process.”

    I frown at him. “You believe me to be corrupted?”

    Luçien waits one heartbeat too long for the right answer.

    “You are good at finding evil everywhere,” I mutter.

    “But evil is everywhere, Grianán.” He reaches out to cup my chin with one hand, pressing my fingers together with the other one. It almost hurts, almost. Should we combat it? Ignore it? Is it possible to do both?”

    “And to what conclusion did these thoughts lead you to?”

    “Since you became a part of my life I started to ask myself if evil is a real thing with substance and power. Or whether it is no more than the absence of truth. Perhaps it is a vacuum of reality, simple negation of light.”

    “I am a daughter of the light.” I blurt out the words without thinking. “Why are you always lashing out on me?”

    Luçien studies my face with a hooded gaze. “In general, evil is too close to us to see clearly; too painful to place a label upon.”

    It worries me that he did not notice the underlying problem of what he just had said to me. “So I am a willing agent of witchcraft?” I offer flatly.

    Luçien moves his hand away from my chin and rests it lovingly against my cheek. “Let me put it this way: somehow trouble always finds you. It seems you need protection from yourself rather than punishment. I am willing to try another approach with you – mercy and understanding.”

    The word punishment rings in my ears. I gulp hard. “And what happens now? Am I to promise you that I will never ever talk to any ghosts again?”

    “That would be sufficient.” He nods.

    “I do not like talking to ghosts, Luçien. They make me cold and uneasy,” I assured him.

    “Another reason to stay away from temptation,” he reasons.

    “I am not doing that on purpose. They have appeared to me uninvited since my birth.”

    His head tilts. “Do you ever see anything else apart from ghosts? The future perhaps?”

    I give him an acceptable version of the truth. “No, I am not a clairvoyant, just a medium.”

    “Let us hope that doesn't change.” His lips curl. “What about plasma bolts then? You are a daughter of the Holy Isle.”

    “Occasionally, when nobody else is looking, I shock things, but only for fun. I fire on water melons or jugs. Not on living beings.”

    His expression softens. “I appreciate your honesty.”

    “Luçien, you can also do plasma blasts. You do not only use it to light the chimney fire. I saw that in Isa's memories that used it to kill Solitaire.”

    He surges to his feet with the fluid grace. “Why were you in my step-sister's head?”

    I stare ahead of blankly, trying to come up with an excuse that does not reveal my abilities. If he wants something plausible, I will bend the truth around the core of my true condition. “When I had to leave Amnion I became very ill. I had no control over my telepathic powers any longer. Her memories of you, the good ones and the bad ones, flooded into my head. I could not hold them back.”

    Luçien stares at me so hard that I begin to cry in fear. That is my salvation. He hugs me. “Hey, it is okay. I do believe you. Shush, please!”

    “Are we done now?” I hide my face in the fabric of his cotton shirt. It is like embracing midnight itself.

    “Just one more thing, Grianán.”

    “Yes?” I ask uncertain, looking into the abyss inside him. To be precise, he is the abyss.

    “Why is Mórag so keen on getting her snow white corpse hands on you?”

    I come up with the obvious. “I am my mother's daughter. That is enough reason.”

    The door handle begins to jiggle hard, making us jump. Then somebody knocks, hard and determined.

    “Luçien, if you do not open immediately, I will stamp the door down!” Taran yells. “The princess is innocent of whatever you think she is guilty of. You should report yourself to the Brotherhood for unorthodox working methods.”

    “Thanks for your time and patience, Grianán,” Luçien whispers.

    With that he stops hugging me and lets the infuriated Taran in.

    ********************************************************************

    The commander wears an expression of utter disgust when he eyes the two chairs. “You dare to interrogate an eight-year-old girl about witch craft? Who do you think you are? Dawn itself? The incarnation of justice?”

    “The Brotherhood trusts me to smite the wicked, to cast down the damned.” Luçien holds his chin up proudly.

    “Wicked? Grianán? Pardon me!” Taran barks some creative curses in his own language. I do not understand most of them, but I can feel they are very, very bad. “Chuir sin an clamhan gobhlach am measg nan cearc. Tha thu ´nad fhaighean. Cò an caora sin còmhla riut a chunnaic mi an-raoir? Triùir a thig gun iarraidh – gaol, eud is eagal.“

    Luçien's grimness increases with each abusive word.

    I step towards Taran and wrap my arms around his hips. “Luçien only wanted to talk. Nobody got hurt, Carcra.”

    Eight fingers move through my hair as if to check that none of it has been twisted. “If you ever harm Grianán in the slightest way, I will be after you. I will not stop until I bring you down. You will even beg me to finish you off at a point.”

    Luçien is appalled. “I am capable of a lot of bad things, Carcra, but I am not that evil. I love this girl here as much as I do my own sons.”

    “You had better,” scolds Taran, showing him his large canine teeth.

    “Can we have dinner now?” I ask. “I am hungry. Is the stew ready yet?”

    The men follow me downstairs, still exchanging looks like sword attacks.

    “Anybody in for tea?” I add helpfully.

    Two mugs are held in front of me almost simultaneously.



    Sources:
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    DarthUncle likes this.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Grianan is full of clear insights.
     
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  19. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Taran can keep Lucien in check
     
  20. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: And she is not a confusing teenager yet.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Not all the time, I am afraid.


    Yeah, I still have readers. The most loyal and the best.

    @DarthUncle is busy with RL matters, like check-ups in the hospital.

    But I should notify @Kahara, @Darth_Furio, @Nehru_Amidala & @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 about this update. If you all want to be notified that is.



    Chapter 13:

    On my last evening at the Hunting Lodge, we play cards together. After I have won a series of three games I am asked if I could sing for them before I go to bed. I choose some ancient songs from Terra. They have the solemn effect that I wanted them to have. Especially the song ´Lily white, comely queen´.

    His gentle deed
    In glory who was proud and grand
    So I sit here
    A lilly white comely queen.

    Gentle fear beheld
    That saw she did love anew.
    In his blossom,
    A flower most true.

    And for knoweth
    Lilly White ...
    Virgin ...
    Queen.


    My innocence and honesty come through the lyrics and the melody. It is a gift I have inherited from those who had taken advantage of their enthralled victims. Some had been simply murdered, others were turned into slaves. Luçien has his good reasons to be that fanatic about witches.

    I have witnessed the destruction that such temptation could lead a person to. I will never be able to step on that path of evil. Through my songs, I make this known.

    Luçien and Taran are subdued as I kiss them good-night. Neither speaks until I am almost out of the room.

    “Sleep tight,” Luçien says.

    Taran rises. “Shall I come up with and position myself between your bed and the door, lassie? Just in case?”

    Luçien snorts, affronted.

    “Thanks for the generous offer, Carcra, but it will not be necessary.” I start moving upstairs.

    The silence behind me is ear shattering.

    I have an idea. “If it makes you all feel better, we can all camp downstairs. And you both can keep an eye on me tonight.”

    It takes them almost no time to move my mattress downstairs. They both decide to sleep on sofas on opposite sides of me.

    ********************************************************************

    Father shows up on the morning of the solstice. Of course Grandfather Narthex is with him. Both are in midwinter spirits. They sing a couple of songs at the door step, before they write blessing signs above the door frame with white chalk.

    Then we all have breakfast together, which extends into the early afternoon, due to all the food Luçien offers us. But at a point it is time to say good-bye.

    I start with Taran who immediately gives me his midwinter present, a muff. He is quiet, and I mimic his silence when I hug him. His body feels hard and stringy in my arms. He glows with inner fire. His energy is amazing. I wonder if other werewolves are like him.

    Then I look questioningly at Luçien, who holds a wooden harp casket in front of him like a shield. “My half-sister Mórag loves music,” he explains. “It holds her madness in place. Learn that instrument, Grianán.”

    “I will do my best then.” I do not dare to hug him.

    Luçien looks at me with burning eyes. His concern made my heart constrict painfully. “I have decided to spend one or two days with Sionnach in the long-house. But then I MUST attend to my own midwinter guests again.”

    “I will not empty your pantry, mon ami,” promises Taran. “Take your time when visiting the little fox in her den.”

    To hear him refer to my cousin as a vixen made me grin wistfully. I must admit she has wonderful red hair. It is like the sky around dawn.

    The spaceship is parked outside. I am glad that I do not need to ride through the wintry Ceilonwyn. The quicker I get away from the misery in Luçien's cat eyes, the quicker I will heal. Or maybe not.

    “You did well,” Father assures me while I sit down next to him in the cockpit, shivering.

    Grandfather is still down in the luggage compartment, securing the heavy harp in its wooden casket. I do not like it down there. Stainless steel covers the walls and there is no panorama window. I almost faint from claustrophobia when I help to carry my luggage inside.

    ********************************************************************

    An unexpected letter comes in the spring. I am out herding the cattle when its messenger approaches me nervously. He is a druid in training. Flustered, he turns down my invitation into the village, but accepts at least some water from my water bottle and half of my lunch bread. Then he is gone again.

    I recognize the handwriting on the envelope immediately and tear it open. My heart sings with every word that I read.

    “Daná!” I call up the huge Adansonia tree that my twin sister is sitting on. “Come down quick!”

    She answers telepathically, “You get your lazy arse up here, Sunny.”

    Sighing, I jump and, using my telekinetic skills, I come to sit next to her.

    “See,” Daná comments smugly. “There was no reason for me to climb down or for you to yell. Isabeau has jolly good ears and you're acting as if this letter contains a secret.”

    I nod excitedly.

    “Then show me, but do not shout surprises out into the great wide open. That is why telepathy was created in the first place.” Daná leans back against the tree trunk and starts reading. She was only half-way through the letter, when she shouted, “No, Sereno didn't!”

    My laughter fills the treetop. “Obviously our brother did.”

    “A secret wedding three sun months ago. How romantic!” Daná starts dancing on the branch that we were on. “And now there is a child on the way. Oh let it be a girl!”

    “Do you have a problem with baby boys?” I ask, taking the letter back from her.

    Daná interrupts my thoughts with her cheers. “I want a little niece that I can spoil. She will grow up like a real princess and I will not allow anybody to give her sword lessons or any kind of weapon training. She will become like those sugar sweet girlies on Amnion. Not like us.”

    “Let our brother and his bride Gwenynen decide that.” I smirk at her and tuck the letter away. “If it is a girl and she wants to learn how to fight, then we should let her.”

    Daná gives me a critical look. “I mean, all our female ancestors have been either mighty witches or fierce warrior women.”

    “Or both,” I add thoughtfully.

    “It is time for a change,” my sister states. “Let the men do the work and the wars. I would not mind being like one of those Elfin princesses – pale, lazy, unearthly beautiful and spoiled. I would play the harp from dusk until dawn, hand-stitch tapestries in between and dance with handsome lords in large ballrooms.”

    “You would get bored in no time,” I assure her.

    She gazes into the sky dreamingly. “Have you ever imagined life at Dún Barr before our family invaded it, Gri? The sophisticated Elfin society, splendid seasons of dancing and celebration...”

    “And people tell me that I am a little dreamer.” I think of Luçien and hurt because I missed him so unbelievingly much.

    “Oh, Gri!” Tenderly Daná ransacks through my dreadlocks. “You are not a great romantic, are you?”

    I snort with dignity. “I love love stories as much as you do, Daná, but real life is different.”

    “You do not believe in love at first sight, do you?” She makes a face.

    I stare into the leaves ahead of me. “Sure I do, but I...”

    “When you will see him, then you will know. Just like Sereno did with his Forest Elf,” Daná interrupts me. “And now they'll have a baby together. Isn't that sweet?”

    “Yes, very!” I agree softly, painstakingly steering my thoughts away from my own dreams. When I am grown-up I would not mind to become Lady Ankoù. There is good in Luçien and I had seen it. Many, many times. But there is still much time before that day will come. Seven years, maybe nine. He has such issues with my age.

    “Okay, the best thing to do is to contact Father and Grandfather immediately. Sereno might have written them as well. Perhaps we can have a baby shower here at the village of Sendero,” Daná suggests.

    “Isa might feel a slight bit... overtaxed. She does not like surprises very much.”

    “Tough,” Daná speaks with a firm tone, but her eyes sparkle with glee. “There will be a baby shower for our niece. And Isa better enjoys herself.”

    ********************************************************************

    During the baby shower, a bony Gwyllion elder approaches me. White hair falls to her waist and is threaded with feathers. Her body is wrinkled and knotted. She uses a walking stick that had the skull of a large bird adhered to the top of it.

    Instinctively, I bow to the woman like I would bow to the High Priestess of Ischáh, the snake goddess of my people.

    “Leave that nonsense, child,” she fusses.

    I flush deeply, not used to such praise. “Please, do not, Reverend Mother.”

    She gives me a sharp look. “I am not Mórag. I do not do titles. Call me Helygen. Or just ´gammer´ if you have to, but never again Reverend Mother. That phrase sounds as if I am part of the dreadful Inquisition that she came up with to purge our race.”

    I let Helygen cup my face. Her power makes me dizzy until her spider-like fingers pinch my cheek with so much conviction that it causes my eyes to water.

    “I can teach you the ancient way of the shaman.”

    Regret creeps into me. “Mórag will not allow it.”

    “Forget about her. I will call for you when the time is right. You need to get reconnected with the Circle of Heavens.” She makes an energetic gesture with her right hand.

    I gaze at her with astonished eyes. White light dances between her fingers. I can see the nebular arms of a spiral galaxy in them.

    "And now let us see what your family has brought along for the party,” The magical moment is over and Helygen just seems to be a hungry old wife again. “I heard it is Amnionian, so I hope that it is simple. My old stomach is not into kitchen experiments any longer.”

    ********************************************************************

    Five days later, on the morning of our birthday, my twin siblings gather around my bed. They have a birthday cake for me with nine candles on it.

    “A chocolate cake,” I beam and get up to thank all of them.

    Blandita looks flustered. “The Mountain Elves have banished xocolātl from their realm. You better enjoy this cake, sunshine. I did it myself.”

    I lean my brow against hers, closing my eyes for a brief moment. “I will,” I promise. “And with each sugar lump that I will put into my green tea from now on, I will think of you.”

    “Green tea is disgusting.” Sniffing, Blandita lets go of me. “Those Sleah Maith have a queer taste.”

    Next, Daná sweeps me into her arms, strangely tearful. “You better keep practising your martial arts until we next meet again, or I will bash your skull in straight away.”

    I kiss her on the cheek and just smile. For all I know this is no empty threat. My sister always keeps her word.

    “Take her away from me,” Daná howls. “Otherwise I will make her stay with us and not allow her to go to that blasted monastery.”

    Rubio and Calathus drag me away from Daná, who is crying openly now. Iocus rushes to her and gently starts hugging her.

    As I am led out of the hut, a triple surprise awaits me: Aranea, Mora and Luna. “Happy birthday everyone,” my three best friends call in unison. “Apart from Caelestris that is. Happy not-birthday to you.”

    My older sister, who leans against the hut, grins amused. In her hands rests a present for me, wrapped in a silk scarf.

    Over the next two hours there are more presents. We all have a wonderful birthday party. Even Daná tries her best to join in, but more than once she breaks out in another crying fit.

    Then Father signals me that it is time to leave.

    Aranea is immediately at my side. “Grianán, you know I hate long goodbyes,” she says, her eyes watering. “There are three things I want you to do. Write to us as often as that mad old bat Mòrag allows you. Do not lose sense of yourself, as your mother did. And, most of all, stay in the light.”

    One by one, Luna, Mora and my siblings say their gentle good-byes to me.

    Then a copper face appears in front of me and my new sister-in-law Gwenynen rubs her nose against mine. It is custom among her tribe. Then she blesses me in her mother tongue.

    Dyro Dduw dy Nawdd;
    Ag yn nawdd, nerth;
    Ag yn nerth, Deall;
    Ag yn Neall, Gwybod;
    Ac yngwybod, gwybod y cyfiawn;
    Ag yngwybod yn cyfiawn, ei garu;
    Ag o garu, caru pob hanfod;
    Ag ymhob Hanfod, caru Duw.”


    My older brother Sereno stands behind me and whispers the translation into my ears.

    “Grant, Great Spirit, Thy protection;
    And in protection, strength;
    And in strength, understanding;
    And in understanding, knowledge;
    And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
    And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
    And in that love, the love of all existences;
    And in the love of all existences, the love of the Great Spirit.”


    My cheeks turn wet.

    I would love to learn the melodious language of the Tree Elves. It touches a part of my soul that I have neglected for so long. And I would like to learn more of the Great Spirit that they believe in with all their heart. He taught the Gwyllion how to live, to worship, where to go and what food to eat. From him they received a set of sacred stone tablets into which he breathed all his precious teachings.

    ********************************************************************

    “Ready for your big adventure?” asks Father, when we are in the air above Dún Barr. His eyes twinkle with delight.

    “You are up to something,” I state.

    “Told you she would recognize the truth straight away, Agathos,” laughs Grandfather. “You look too happy today.”

    “That could have been due to the fact an enrichment life for our family is on the way.” Father grins back at Grandfather. “Or the prospect that Isa will be disappointed about the upcoming war.”

    “Our Grianán has a sharp mind. You cannot fool her. Neither can I.” Grandfather turns to me with a wide smile. “Listen, last night a letter from Mórag arrived. She is furious about Sereno and Gwenynen's wedding. There is no need to go into her service until you are fourteen-years-old.”

    I look back and forth between them in confusion. “Where are we going instead?”

    “We want you to get the education of an Elfin princess. We’re bringing you to a tutor of noble descent.”

    My mouth drops open.

    ********************************************************************

    Taran already stands outside when our small star ship arrives above the cave he is living in. He gives a friendly wave when we become visible through the view port. As soon as the ramp comes down he stands on it, ready to help with the luggage. He wears leisure clothing - a comfortable leather trouser, a wide Udaler shirt and high riding boots.

    First the werewolf shakes hands with both Father and Grandfather. Then I receive a bright, flashy smile from him, nothing more.

    Taran takes the harp casket and leads the way to the cave. He pushes the entrance door open and takes our winter coats. He has an early lunch for us, which we eat through with wonderful happiness and laughter.

    When all the boards are empty, Taran exchanges a glance with Father. Then he focuses on me. “You will get sword practice and music lessons by me. Your Grandfather and Misera will visit on a regular basis to continue the rest of your training.”

    ********************************************************************

    Soon, Taran and I come up with a nice time schedule that suits both Father and Grandfather. We are up at dawn and have breakfast together. I set the table and he is in charge of the food preparation.

    During breakfast, he lets me know what my focus of the morning will be: harp practice, language studies, essays, book lecture or art projects.

    He never leaves the cave without giving me sufficient assignments to work on until the late afternoon. As my tutor, he expects a lot from me. He is as stern as he is honest. I give my best not to disappoint him, as each success of mine makes him smile.

    He is not always able to have tea with me, but he always makes sure that a surprise is waiting for me. There are sweets from Sapuruh, Elfin cookies, Amnionian niceties or even fruits from the Holy Isle. I suspect he gets all those from an unsuspecting Luçien.

    In the evenings, we cook together. I am allowed to cut things into pieces or to hand him the ingredients that he requests. But he makes sure that I do not stir, fry or bake items myself. His patience with me is flawless, but my cooking skills are not.

    I have to play the harp for him while he washes up. He chooses not to look directly at me while I display the fruits of my hard labour to him. He waits until I have finished before turning around and giving me his feedback. It is always honest.

    But there are also days, when he is withdrawn. Having been exposed to black magic far too often has a great influence on the commander's brain functions. Sometimes his primal instincts take over and he needs to run off into the forest. Naked.

    ********************************************************************

    When autumn comes, colouring the leaves of the deciduous trees in breathtaking hues, the official hunting season has begun. Taran schedules a meeting with Luçien and Draň, a young noble man from the Eastern Prairies.

    This means that my tutor is away for a couple of sun days, but I care for myself as promised. There is enough food and tea for me and a steam of clear mountain water next to the cave.

    One afternoon I go to fetch something from the ice cellar.

    Parhelion startles me to death when he sneaks up behind me. The Force bender looks like a human man in his sixties. His hair is amber coloured, but his eyes hold my attention. They are large and oval, completely dominating a thin, sour face. The pupils are brown and freckled with tiny spots of gold. His long white priest robes give the impression of leanness, but also in combination with strength. He is tall, two heads more than his younger half-brother, who was by no means small.

    “What do we have here? Obviously, the little Tjiehenet witch that plays with wolfie´s heart and soul. I should destroy you before you make it any worse for him.”

    Instinctively, I move back, which means that I am closer to the wide open door of the ice cellar. It is like a fathomless abyss behind me. “I am his student, not his lover,” I speak slowly.

    “And what can Wolfie possibly teach you, witching? Penance? Sincerity? Innocence?” His thoughts and feelings are a swamp of anger and disgust. I feel myself getting lost in the muddy, hazardous depths. “No, I have to finish you off.”

    “Leave the girl!” Taran comments almost emotionless, appearing behind Parhelion.

    I squeeze around the Force bender and sprint towards my tutor.

    Carefully, Taran tugs me under his travel cape and holds me close. I relish in his reassuring touch immediately. He presses me firmly against him. His heartbeat is loud and fast. “I try to give the lass what I could never give my own son.”

    Parhelion says nothing, but his eyes soften.

    “Until Grianán joins the beanmna feasa I will give her that what she needs. Sunlight, music, beauty, clarity and peace of mind,” Taran continues with a firm voice. “Somebody with her talent deserves that.”

    Parhelion stands as still as a rock.

    “You can come to my cave with us now,“ Taran suggests. “Or humbly take your leave from us. It is your choice. But never dare to criticise my relationship with Grianán again. It makes me sad that you suspect me of such crudeness. I am not your baby brother!”

    I peek out from behind the cape.

    Parhelion's features are unreadable now and so are his thoughts.




    Sources:

    The song “Lilly white, comely queen” by the Mediæval Bæbes for the soundtrack of the TV series “The Virgin Queen" (2005)
    A bow to “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” (commonly shortened to “Alice in Wonderland”)
    A slightly altered version of “Druid's Prayer” (Welsh: Gweddi'r Derwydd) or “Gorsedd Prayer” composed by Iolo Morganwg (1747 – 1826)
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Awesome seeing how momentous changes occur for Gri and her family, with weddings and babies arriving. Taran as a tutor ;)
     
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  22. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: In the original version, posted before the move of the boards, her tutor was Luc. But some folk, especially @SWpants, my old beta, thought about it as grooming. So when I sat down to rewrite Gri´s story, this was one of the major changes.

    Taran, despite his occasional "call of the wild" urges, is the way better tutor. And Gri makes him whole again. Giving him a sense of reality and true belonging again. He stops being a lone wolf.
     
  23. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    *De-lurks* I'm still here, amigo. Just been doing more lurking than posting lately.
     
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    And you shall be rewarded with an update next weekend, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701. I never witnessed a tornado before, so if I wrote a lot of gibberish here, please inform me and I will correct them.

    PS: Actually, I always call a cute 2 year old from Middle America "amigo". He likes that a lot.


    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, if you spotted any mistakes in this one, please inform me as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  25. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Still here too! :) Grianán certainly has an effect on people -- it's a good thing that her friends currently seem to outnumber the Parhelions of the galaxy. Being separated from even more of her family is a tough situation, for her as well as for them (poor Daná). But she's been very resilient and it seems that she is thriving with Taran's care and teaching. (Seems like being a tutor to someone else is doing him some good as well, howling at the moon or no. :p ) I have to agree that this works for me a lot more than it would if it were Luçien -- particularly since Grianán does have that intuition that there could be something in the future. (Also, just... Luçien. That man can never keep his issues out of anything, though I suppose some credit must be given for the occasional valiant effort!)