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Before the Saga "Legends of the Force"(epic drama with OCs), book 4

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by AzureAngel2, Apr 13, 2020.

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  1. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Lucien is leading a difficult life full of deceit
     
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    It's really interesting to see these events from a different POV after reading Isabeau's before! :) I enjoy how so many of these characters each have their own complex history that could be an epic in itself, but they also connect to each other's backstories. It's very fun! And I'd nearly forgotten Solitaire, who I again find myself really liking and wishing that a bit of her insight would actually get through Luc's stubborn skull. Can't remember if she turns out evil -- though really, what woman could ever be as evil as Luc suspects? :p (Maybe Morag or Arcana, but even they would have to make an effort!) And I feel bad for Enderv, whose common sense is so poorly received. Luc really has the Anakin Skywalker Can't Listen Won't Listen disease at this point. :p
     
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: That´s difficult for everybody in this story.


    @Nehru_Amidala: Unfortunatly, yes. (But @DarthUncle and I are fine.)


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Yepp, that he does. But he mostly pulls his own leg.


    @Kahara: I also hope that you have read Sionnach and Grianán, too. ;) Otherwise you missed something essential.


    Okay here we go. The next chapter:


    Chapter 7:

    Without Isabeau, my bed is like a barren wasteland. My need for physical contact is meet through the Malo twins every night. Their heartbeats calm me, keep my bad memories at bay.

    When an entire moon month has passed, I cannot take it any longer. I need to see my step-sister personally.

    Argent carries me straight to the L’œil du ciel. It was a good choice to start my search there. Isabeau is in the water, enjoying herself.

    I light a fire for us and set fresh café.

    Right now, I am glad that I took cardamom powder with me. My passionate bohémienne loves spicy food and beverages. I happen to have a tin box with cinnamon cookies with me as well.

    When I announce dîner to be ready, Isabeau swims back to the shore with quick movements. She runs towards me as if she really missed me. That is a good sign. But suddenly I take her nakedness in and it scares me.

    When I remind her of her changed status, she tries to tear off my war mask.

    My hand is quicker than my thoughts. I hit her in the face before I realize what I’m doing.

    All of a sudden, a desert falcon flies towards us. Isabeau’s eyes glance towards him. She has the look of a determined huntress.

    Enderv! Diwall!” I call out in his ancient mother tongue, because he is blocking out my telepathic cries. Enderv! Danger!

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

    Hot tears roll down my cheeks. His falcon eyes are closed, as if he is taking a nap. But Enderv is not asleep. Isabeau’s dagger severed the main artery. Now I can never offer him my excuses for our last quarrel. Nor can I have a music session with him in our favourite crystal chamber again. His soul is just dust in the wind.

    The worst for me is that his name died with him. It can never leave my lips again.

    I free my childhood friend from the weapon that killed him. “Sioul eo ar mor, sioul evel al laezh. Devezh mat!” My voice is hoarse while I speak the traditional blessing over his dead body. The sea is calm, as calm as milk. Have a safe journey!

    Isabeau is tiptoeing up to me, but I do not care. My attention is needed elsewhere. I must sing Enderv’s immortal soul towards the stars while his blood is still warm.

    There is a flat rock nearby. I sit down on it, facing westwards. Then I begin to hum the melody of the lament. The words, adapted from Elfin runes, unfold inside my head only.

    Deep peace of the running wave to you.
    Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
    Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
    Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
    Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.”


    It is not difficult to open myself fully to the beauty of this prayer. I fade into the rays of moonlight around me, breathe serenity.

    Telenn stands outside her underground kingdom when Argent and I arrive with the corpse. Her blue face is smeared with ash. I gather that she must have felt her son’s death in the Force.

    I offer my excuses in the language of the Water Elves. “Diagnometer. Eskuzit ac’hanon.”

    Her red eyes glow in the darkness of the desert night. She is not offended or enraged in the least. “Netra. Mann ebet,” she replies with her quicksilver like voice. “My son knew the risk of flying around Isabeau as a falcon. It is not your fault. His time simply had come. It was his karma.”

    “But he died in my service,” I insist, holding on to Argent’s reigns.

    She smiles. “Then it is for the better. He died for a good cause, master.”

    “But it was such an unnecessary death.”

    “No death in the dune sea is ever without meaning. It brings forth new growth and change. In the end there is no death, my master. There is the Force. And only the Force.”

    With careful movements, I hand over the tiny corpse of Enderv. “I cannot stay on. Tonight I will free Alezan from the pestilence that the House Tjiehenet set him.”

    “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves,” Telenn reminds me.

    I do not understand why she implies that I have a desire for revenge. “Adultery one of the major sins condemned by the Holy Scriptures,” I argue. “I cannot stay on. I am sorry.”

    The Asrai turns her face away from me. “Not as sorry as I am, my master.”

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

    The Holy Scriptures are very clear about the relationship between males and females. Mistresses are kept for pleasures and concubines for constant attendance. Only wives can bear legitimate children and be faithful huntresses for the homestead.

    Alezan has been made a cuckold by his new wife. It lacks completely of logic. There has to be more to the situation than I can determined. But her pregnancy has reached a critical state and Alezan, offended and hurt, asked me to interfere just this morning. Normally, I avoid such assignments. In his case I am making an exception.

    While I ride towards the homestead, I quote another ancient Elfin prayer, just to keep me from heavy thoughts.

    “I am the wind that breathes upon the sea
    I am the wave of the ocean
    I am the murmur of the billows
    I am the ox of the seven combats
    I am the vulture upon the rocks
    I am a beam of the sun
    I am the fairest of plants
    I am a wild boar in valour
    I am a salmon in the water
    I am a lake in the plain
    I am a word of science
    I am the point of the lance of battle
    I am the God who created in the heat the fire
    Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
    Who announces the ages of the moon?
    Who teaches the place where couches the sun? (If not I?)”


    My mind wanders while Argent carries me through the desert night. Dusk is almost over and the night is upon us. I can feel it approach.

    Just last night, I took out the man that Solitaire was intimate with. It gave me no pleasure. He was an Amnionian citizen and reminded me too much of Agathos. He probably didn’t even realize the graveness of his sin.

    After informing him of the situation, I made his passing a quick one. Normally, I undergo the full procedure.

    The Holy Scriptures have no mercy with those who oppose them. I’ve always been stalwart in my duties, but recently I have begun to question the things that I have to do. I seek for a reasons to be merciful, want to follow my heart. But the religious texts of my people warn against it, and forbid it.

    I hesitate when I feel my step-mother Solitaire inside the ducal bed chamber. Nobody else is with her, just as Alezan has promised me.

    “Buenas noches!”
    I call out to Solitaire. Good evening.

    She responds with noncommittal moans.

    “¿Le molesto?” I ask. Am I disturbing anything?

    “No, todo lo contrario.” Solitaire breathes heavily. No, quite the opposite.

    Her eyes don’t leave my face and she licks her lips. Then she begins to run her hand sensually over her body.

    I am getting angry with her. She know why I am here and nonetheless acts as if I can be bribed with the promise of intimacy.

    “¡Qué calor!”
    she states. What a heat!

    I glare at her in silence. She is tense and nervous, but not about me. Something else bothers her. I wish I could access her thoughts as easy she can decipher mine, but clones have different brain waves. I receive nothing from her. My patience is used up quickly.

    With my powers, I reach into her womb and extinguish the spark of life like I would a candle flame – quick and merciful.

    But with Solitaire I am less gentle. I let the black anger in my thoughts surges through her system. Organs explode, her blood boils in her veins.

    I always wanted to know the extent of my powers. At least this mission was not a total waste. Killing somebody with my mind is a bliss. I feel dark energy humming through me. Power over life and death!

    I close her empty eyes.

    Before I can fulfil the last gruesome part of my mission, the wardrobe opens.

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

    Several hours before a being’s death, their aura turns white, and greatly increases in its intensity.

    Desperately, I take Isabeau into my arms. I let my conscious sink into her. There are hardly any functioning meridians. I suspect poison.

    The same Force powers that allowed me to kill now kindle my step-sister back into life. I change the poisonous substance into a harmless liquid, neutralizing the effect. It takes me more than an hour.

    Afterwards, I place Isabeau on the marital bed and hurry off to my own chambers to get some items that I need for a massage with Argan oil.

    That alerts the ducal guards and somebody decides to fetch Alezan. He finds me pouring the oil over the back of my patient.

    “Why are you here with Isabeau and a corpse?” he asks me, astonished. “What is the meaning of all this?”

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

    My foster-father and I are deep in conversation when Isabeau slowly regains consciousness. Her thoughts are muddled and peculiar, but I let her be and allow her to listen in. She is the only member of the homestead unaware of my various duties and skills, and I know there is much I will have to later explain. It was not wise to have her living in a carefree bubble.

    After Alezan leaves, I place a towel on her naked back, stating pointedly. “I am tired of this, Isabeau. Leave now, before your thoughts hurt me even more. I cannot believe that you really think I am capable of harming you in any way.”

    My step-sister turns her head towards me and glares. She thought she was fooling me with her silence.

    Flustered, she sits up and presses the towel against her chest, making sure she is completely covered before running off.

    I am exhausted. It cost me much strength to restore her back to health, and she believes me to be some kind of creepy lunatic who wants her as dead as Solitaire!

    Suddenly, I realize the magnitude of the clone’s plan. “You wanted to tear us apart from the beginning,” I mutter while I stare at the dead body that lies next to the bed. “Well done then!”

    In my anger, I do not follow protocol and mutilate her body through a red haze.

    As the veil lifts from my eyes, I stare at the mess that I made. Should I be worried?

    A knock at the door gets me out of my stupor.

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

    Hesitantly, I let Reneé in. His eyes widen in shock, but the seasoned gardien keeps his countenance.

    “I can help you clean up, sire?”

    He blinks and slowly asks me with worry seeping into his voice, “Are you all right? Your eyes seem red with the strain.”

    What does he mean?

    “Perhaps you should wash up and change clothes before joining your father and his honoured guests.” I realise that I am probably as much of a mess as the rest of the room.

    Normally, I can manage on my own. Tonight, I cannot. “Yes, please.”

    “She gave you a lot of resistance then,” Reneé probes.

    “Those Tjiehenet Force witches are always good for a surprise,” I try to smile.

    “What about your honoured sister?” he asks. “She fled this chamber half-naked and ran into the stables. Papillion wanted to follow her, but I suggested to leave her be. She seemed to be in shock.”

    “I will check on Isabeau later,” I promise, knowing all too well that I will not be welcome any more. “She needs a lecture in suitable behaviour.”

    “Please do not be too harsh!” Reneé begs me. “Her Ladyship has had too much to worry about recently.”

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

    When I am finally able to leave a spotless bed chamber behind, I take the jute bag with the body-parts and make my way to the stables. There, I find a sleeping Isabeau among the eopies. Her mount Crépuscule towers above her, guarding her with long legs. When I come near, she moves into a combat position.

    I bow politely and walk backwards.

    All the animals make warning sounds until I reach Argent’s box. He alone is faithful to me.

    “Thanks, old friend,” I whisper. “Thanks.”

    Strict self-control, restraint, responsibility, and duty. Those are the four pillars of my life. Châtiment Goañv made sure that I will never forget their importance. But for the love of my step-sister I am willing to forget about the first two pillars.

    Hope is a fragile flower. It can get trampled by a pair of boots easily. There will be no reconciliation. Isabeau is lost to me. She believes me to be a heartless monster and perhaps I am. But if I am without a heart, why does her rejection hurt so much?

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

    The Malo twins do not dare to comment on the state of my back, just get out healing ointment and musline bandages. They administer to me as if I am a child still. I don’t protest, just relish in the warmth and comfort they provide.

    When I rise at dawn, Oeillet insists on accompanying me to the stables. Her sister Néné sleeps on.

    On our way, my companion remarks, “Did you ever think of getting yourself a loving wife, Luçien? You are almost seventeen.”

    I grant her a critical look. “Who would want somebody like me?”

    “More women than you think.”

    There are indeed certain females in this universe who have an insatiable need to help others. Priestesses. Teachers. Healers. Masochists. Lunatics. Only those would date somebody like me.

    Aloud, I think, “A quick death would be more merciful for such an unfortunate woman.”

    “You can be quite charming, Luçien, if you choose to be. You are too self-conscious to not notice what happens when you enter a room. Or how you outshine other Lidérc males.”

    “Oeillet, please give it up!” I climb on Argent’s back.

    “Your true love is out there,” she assures me, her eyes gleaming hopeful. “She will be your destiny.”

    “It is my destiny to be there for our people and...”

    I stop talking, taken off-guard by an emergency call from Ruadhan Ahearne. Until now, I was not even aware that he can send telepathic messages over such a great distance.

    [​IMG]

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

    Telenn already has her entire clan gathered in front of the crystal caves. Her words of greeting are like a knife being plunged into my heart.

    “Isabeau has the Force witch’s pyramid.”

    “Why did none of you interfere?” I thunder. “She is a bohemiéne. Those desert nomads pick up everything that looks unique and valuable.”

    “She could have left it inactivated,” Telenn states. “But instead she turned it on over numerous times, causing tremors in the Living Force.”

    I feel the muscles of my face tighten. “It was your duty to inform me if something like this happened, Telenn. How was Isabeau supposed to know how dangerous a pyramid like this is? I never told her and I am sure you did not either.”

    She bows respectfully. “Be that as it may, the damage was already done by the time I had realized what happened. The murderous heart of a crystal ball can corrupt the unaware.”

    “If you had reported to me that there is a device like that on this planet, this never would have happened. You must have felt the heartbeat of the crystal matrix,” I accuse Telenn openly.

    The Asrai vehemently shakes her head. “I did not. It lay vacant until the death of that creature.”

    My breath turns ragged. “You mean that the evil spirit of that Force witch went into that pyramid?”

    She shrugs, but we both know that it is true.

    I quickly develop a plan and run to Argent, spurring him on while the Asrai follow me in their animal forms.

    Perhaps I can still save my step-sister from the consequences of her deed. I am not prepared to give her the same treatment as my usual suspects. I am still able to see her as an innocent victim of the Force witch who lured her into acts of necromancy.

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

    When we stop outside a small cave and I hear Ruadhan say, “Of course they call him le ange noir, the dark angel, in the nine cities. But they respect him for that what he is: the iron hand of law in the realm.“

    A hand that will not crush my beloved step-sister. Nobody can expect that from me. Not even the Holy Scriptures. I will save her from any harm. I will save her from me.

    “I heard my name being mentioned?” I say while entering the cave, my entourage right behind me.

    Isabeau is not pleased to see me. “How dare you!” she roars fiercely. “This is my serail!“

    I pay her little heed. The Dark Elf is heavily injured. “How long has Ciall been in that state, Ruadhan? And why?”

    “Since dawn,” my friend answers. “And because he touched an artefact of the Ophidea. Some present of the late Lady Solitaire. A holocron.”

    All my assumptions are immediately verified. “Where is the artefact?” I ask, but I am not sure at whom the question is directed.

    My senses are dazed. The only thing that I feel clearly is the dark heartbeat of the pyramid. Everything else is a blur.

    But there is something else. Or better to say, someone else.

    Tauntingly, Solitaire’s bodiless voice demands of me, “Stay there and freeze as long as I please!”

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

    My desert robes seem not thick enough to stop the mischievous spirit from seeking skin contact. “Existo meus mancipium! Pareo mihi!” she demands huskily. Be my slave! Obey me!

    I swallow heavily at the Ratoriam language, the words of the necromantic scientists of Cunabula. How dare she? I am nobody’s slave.

    “Es meus servus. Genu mihi, servus!” Invisible hands stroke leisurely over my body, touch me in forbidden places. Too long, too intimate. You’re my servant. Kneel before me, servant!

    My breath gets shallower as my pulse races up. I will not kneel. I will not be spellbound. And I will certainly not obey somebody else. The only person that had the power to break me is dead, consumed by the flames of my hatred.

    “You are so stubborn and impolite. I expected better of you.”

    I feel teeth nipping my left ear. My gaze narrows, while my muscles strain with the urge to get away from this evil entity. This is the third time that Solitaire has pulled such a show to get at me. She has truly crossed boundaries now.

    “Not only are you rude, little kitten, but disobedient.”

    I lift my chin and let a cleansing surge of anger race through my entire body. My chest rises and falls rapidly. Essential lines of the Holy Scriptures burn like a bonfire in my mind, distracting me from the frantically grinding hip movements that my nemesis makes.

    “Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt.”

    Solitary splays her ghostly fingers over my shoulders, playfully.

    “And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that traveleth: they shall be amazed at one another; their faces shall be as flames.” My hands clench into fists automatically, while I hold on to all that is pure and holy to me. “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”

    She laughs at me, dark and lustful.

    I close my eyes and let my head fall back.

    Telenn’s voice echoes in my mind, her voice warm and oddly comforting. “And now, healing needs to be done. Do not allow frustration and other dark feelings to reign over you, master.”

    Healing.

    That word sends me away from the edge, makes me remember what Minou read once to me from her own scrolls.

    “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes.”

    I should be somebody who mends injuries instead of causing them. Evil tempted me and I almost gave in to it.

    Guilt swamps me and a terrible urge to cry.

    I have been used again, been made a victim by my own vanity. Being the Chosen One, I should do much, much better than this.

    Tears trickle down my cheeks and I hear Solitaire howl in frustration. Our connection wavers, thins out.

    More quotes come to mind, and embrace me.

    “Why have you come out into the desert? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men? Upon them are the fine garments, and they are unable to discern the truth.”

    The truth is that Ciall needs me.

    I sink to my knees.

    Now that I am not the vessel of Solitaire’s hatred any more, I see precious life energy leaking out of Ciall. And I feel the sheer agony of his soul brother Ruadhan. That sobers me even more.

    “Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye.”

    I cannot replace the light that once was my twin Lisiére, but I can guarantee that other lives will not be as easily extinguished.

    A pleasant warmth floods my system and I soon am able to send healing power into Ciall’s battered body. I know what it feels to suffer like this. I would like to help him to get better. There is more than pain and hurt inside me; I have love to give.


    Sources:
    Song text “A Gaelic Blessing (Deep Peace)”, a hymn by John Rutter (2003)
    The poem “Amergin” by Anonymous (date unknown), written down in “The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse” and edited by Nicholson and Lee (1917)
    A freezer spell, practical magic from the internet
    A Latin spell from the forth season of HBO series “True Blood” (2008–2014), based on the books “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” (also known as “The True Blood Novels” and “The Sookie Stackhouse Novels”) by Charlaine Harris (2001-2014)
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
    Kahara and gizkaspice like this.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Happy he can help Ciall
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  5. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    He can be a healer
     
  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Originally he was meant to be a healer for his people. By his true father, Dealg. But alas, Flor had other plans.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: But also an anti-healer. Choices, choices!


    Okay, we go on with the next, @Kahara, @Nehru_Amidala, @gizkaspice and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701.

    Work kept me busy with more and more babies and toddlers coming back to our kindergarten. When I come home in the late afternoon, @DarthUncle and I cook together, eat together, do the dishes together and watch the 7pm news together. Then we either go for games or some DVDs from the local library. So I really do not go on-line much these days.

    But here we are:


    Chapter 8:

    I still feel glorious when we ride through the city. If I can keep Isabeau out of trouble, I should do the same curtsey to Zouave. Therefore I get off my eopie and proceed into the side street where the true blood is busy in sinful ways. I can smell his lust and cannot help to make acid remarks about it.

    “What an unexpected surprise to see you here, honoured cousin!” I call out. “If I had known that your income is too low for the services for an honoured consort then I would have asked papa for an increase on your behalf.”

    My eyes rest on the strange creature that he has been molesting and I feel numb. Perhaps my mind is playing tricks.

    “If you do not draw back your spiked belongings at once,” I say without taking my eyes off the female golem, “You can gather their splinters in the dune sea.”

    My cousin shivers uncontrollably as he tries to obey my order.

    “May I help?” I wonder boldly. “I have very skilled hands, you know.”

    Terrified of amputation, Zouave grabs his clothes and backs away from me.

    It seems to me that Arcānā is bombarding me with pregnant golems. This is her idea of psychological war fare, I conclude grimly.

    The new arrival is an Elfin teenager, scarcely dressed. She is barely five feet high. Her red hair is dusty and dishevelled. She is painfully thin, just skin and bones really. I never beheld a more fragile being. Her eyes mirror all that she has been through. Zouave was not the only one to take advantage of her. I cannot escape the distress of the golem, while my cousin already prays his requiem. But I will not harm any family members tonight. Nor will I strike down this clone.

    I narrow my eyes, seeing that she is missing some body parts. Instead of a healthy left leg she has a wooden one. On her right foot I count only three toes. But there are more disfigurements. A long, puckered scar runs from her left elbow to her wrist.

    Reneé, standing aside as usual, obediently awaits my orders. The rest of my men remain at bay and, most important, out of sight.

    “Everything is fine, commander!” I tell him. “The young lady here fell victim to criminals that trample our holy laws with their dirty boots. Leave them to me.”

    Curiosity outgrows the fear that nestles in the azure Elfin eyes. “Who are you?” the golem wants to know.

    For some reason, I cannot be rude with her. She looks too Elfin, too fragile and pure. I find myself bowing to her. “Vicomte Ankoù, at your service,” I introduce myself before I turn around to the disgusted person right behind me. “And this is my honoured step-sister Marquise Riwalan.”

    A smile blooms on the golem’s lips. “I am Sionnach O’Conghaile. A farmer’s daughter.”

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

    [​IMG]

    When we are on the main street again, my mind focuses again on the Holy Scriptures. As I ride through the city, I feel a sense of discomfort in my body, and I know the unborn baby boy is the reason for it.

    “I will give you peace and quietness,” I promise for I cannot have despicable crimes like this in my city. “I will find the responsible persons. Plus I will buy your a walking stick. She should have one.”

    Pleased, the child reaches out for me, proving to be a telepath like me.

    I do not know what else to say, too anxious to frighten the boy. My emotional life seems to be undignified and bleak. It has been ages since I communicated with an innocent being telepathically. I feel rusty, and even unworthy. The Holy Scriptures come to the rescue once more.

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.”

    A wave of happiness washes over me.

    The boy understands my offer and accepts it.

    Not even Isabeau’s grumpiness can change my bliss. I look at my step-sister when we reach our final destination. She may form her own opinions about the golem, but I resolve to keep the child safe from her scrutinies.

    “You will join us inside, Isabeau.”

    A familiar figure, regal and beautiful despite her high age, catches my attention. My burdens crumple like a stash of ashes.

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

    Inside her private chambers, Minou gives me a wonderful massage, kneading all the tension out of me with argan oil. As it is the custom, she starts at my ankles and gradually moves up my whole body. By now, she reaches my bottom.

    “You should have come earlier, much earlier,” she muses. “You are as hard as granite.”

    “I was busy,” I mumble, pressing my chin deeper into the towel that I am resting on.

    My old fostress intensifies her kneading. “I must say, Sionnach is a beauty. Her hair is like the dawn.”

    “She is but a blasted golem from the underground laboratories of Cunabula. A piece of carrion, really. What do you imply here?” I am enraged at what I think she insinuates. “Have you seen her aura? It is not right. Nor is her pregnancy. I pity the kid inside her.”

    Minou squeezes my shoulders. “Your religious alacrity blinds you to the obvious. The Unifying Force has sent you an angel to lighten up your life...”

    “With necromancy? I doubt that very much. She is just another riddle from Arcānā that I have to solve.”

    “Come to know what is in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest.”

    After that my old fostress makes no further comments and just spreads argan oil over my back.

    I am left alone to my thoughts, and think of the circle around the unborn Elfin boy. He is so innocent, so flawless. I am drawn to him, and plan on fulfilling my promise to him by taking him under my wings for protection. Alezan did the same for me once. It would be better if he grows up away from his mother.

    I feel Minou heal the most recent wounds on my back. I am grateful. I do not want Isabeau, or anyone else for that matter, to be a witness to the excesses of my religious beliefs.

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

    From the moment my four guests enter the inner sanctum of Ostal Blanc, I cannot keep my eyes off the golem. Sionnach O’Conghaile, as she calls herself, does not make any sense to me. Why would Arcānā send somebody like her? What sort of traps can I expect from a pregnant teenager? Can I expect an abuse of my good will?

    After the obligatory tea ceremony, I stay behind with Minou. “Would you enjoy a scalp massage? Or foot reflexology?”

    I have no further appointments or contracts to fulfil tonight, and so I accept the invitation. She takes me to her chambers again.

    For the next two hours, I am but bread dough in the beaton’s skilled hands. She is able to relax me a great deal, but my inner conflicts stay the same. What am I to do with this recent attack of the clones? Is it really safe to send Isabeau to Draconis, or will it provoke another Star Wars?

    “Peace comes from within, Luçien, not from without. You are reckless. There are ten ways to serenity. Accept what is, meditate, live in the present moment, spend time in nature, keep learning...”

    I open my mind to her voice, allowing all the messages sink in.

    “Do not lie,” she quotes. “And do not do what you hate. For everything is disclosed in view of the truth. For there is nothing hidden that will not become revealed. And there is nothing covered that will remain undisclosed.”

    Minou is usually right with her advice. Her kindness affects me, as it always does in one way or the other.

    “Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit,” she speaks on her voice as firm as her grip. “Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil.”

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

    When I leave my mentor, I find Isabeau sneaking around. By the looks of her, my step-sister has been eavesdropping. I dive into her thoughts and get the sad confirmation.

    Then things turn from bad to worse.

    Flor, of all people, saunters towards us with her usual unfortunate timing. But she is not alone.

    “Let us kill this snake lover here and now!” Alezan roars, coming to stand right behind his wife. “The magic of Cunabula is forbidden in my realm.”

    Isabeau winces. “There is nothing magical about the holocron. It is but a teaching device, telling stories. Like a little computer really.”

    Alezan almost rips my step-sister’s throat open. My arm jerks roughly in its socket while I attempt to keep his teeth away from her main artery.

    “Isabeau is just an unreasonable child that found a dangerous toy, papa.” I try to reason.

    “This time you cannot protect her any longer, my son. I listened to you before and it was wrong. Pour la mort,” he hisses. Destined to die.

    A familiar presence flares up in my chest, weak, but easy to identify.

    Agathos is used to addressing big crowds in the senate of Polysýndeton. Right now, he strides up to Alzean, Isabeau, and me in nothing but a towel, his skin shimmering with massage oil. He smiles apologetically, his voice is firm.

    “I beg your pardon, old friend, but may I interfere here?” he addresses my foster father. “I fear that my wife’s legacy brought your household shame and dishonour once more.”

    Alezan calms down considerably. “Indeed,” he says, his voice hoarse with emotion.

    “I know a solution to this deadly conflict that sprung up here among you,” Agathos states. “Give your step-daughter into my care.”

    There are objections from Isabeau and, of course, the comte, but in the end he concedes. “Under one condition! I never want to see her face again. Is that clear? Let it be known that there is a Death Mark on her head otherwise.”

    “Oui, papa.” In total submission I kneels down. “I swear by all that is holy to me, you will never suffer her company again.”

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

    Inside Minou’s chambre we have an argument, Isabeau and I. She fails to see the point of her wrong doing. What is even worse, she calls me a cold blooded murderer and blames me for the situation she is in.

    At a point, I step behind my exhausted step-sister and send her straight into a healing trance. She needs to recover from all the hassle tonight.

    I join everybody else in the tea parlour. Ruadhan is not around, which causes me to believe that he is still in the caring hands of a moon priestess or a Force healer even.

    “How is Her Ladyship?” inquires Agathos with genuine concern.

    “Exhausted,” I say. “Her own death was discussed in front of her. That was a bit much for her after her recent trials.”

    His concern is honest. Having done an internship in an orphanage in his teens, he cares for souls in perish ever since. Sometimes I feel like another youth project of his.

    Malice rushes into my veins. “Besides, the spirit of... a certain golem resides inside that holocron.” I am bold to mention that, but I need to let all my anger out right now. Only that can cleanse me again. “It almost made me attack people dear to me. Ruadhan, Ciall, Telenn...”

    “Are you talking about,” Agathos lowers his voice, “Solitaire?”

    He is foreign, an outlander. He can commit the taboo without being punished for it, but I still struggle to hold my temper. I nod briefly. “The golem, indeed.”

    “I know that the existence of misguided Force users is a difficult and painful chapter in your culture, but I can assure you that my wife...”

    “Is not such a necromancer?” My voice is nearly a screech. “Look deep into your heart, search your feelings, and then look straight in my eyes and say that again.”

    “None of us is without fault,” offers Agathos, slightly flushed. “We have our problems, Arcānā and I. But for the children, she is willing to change her unhealthy ways. She confessed the existence of this Solitaire shortly after announcing the second pregnancy. I had no idea that she sent her clone creation here.”

    I cover my eyes with my left hand, tired, and gently rub my temples.

    The description clone sounds so scientific, harmless even. It does not do justice to the horror of the Star Wars. Back then, reanimated Lidérc had risen in legions to consume the enemies of their masters. I know of accounts of individuals who had been felled during battle and had risen almost immediately with missing limbs and massive gaping wounds. Feeding on their living comrades.

    Flor suddenly poses a question. “Has she also mentioned a second... clone? It goes under the name Sionnach O’Conghaile.”

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

    I can see a slight flicker in Agathos’ dispassionate face. He knows exactly whom Flor talks about. But so does another member of the tea party. Someone, I had almost forgotten about.

    “O’Conghaile, you say?” muses Ciall. “Their clan vowed the Blood Oath to the House Tjiehenet after the war. Críonnacht, a fierce young warrior woman and head of the O’Conghaile clan, made that decision.”

    “What became of her?” I probe.

    “She trained to be a Shesha guard, which was a scandal in the Elfin kingdoms back then. The last time that I saw her in person was...” He stops, not keen on summoning the great drama again.

    It is Agathos, who dares to conjure the bloody past. “My sister-in-law got beheaded by Arcānā. Nanny Crí was not quick enough to prevent that.”

    My step-father frowns deeply, his entire body fur stiff. “You will not obtain a DNA sample of any kind, Luçien. The girl is a guest under this holy roof,” he growls. “There are rules even you have to obey to.”

    My smile is grim and determined. “Sionnach O’Conghaile needs sunlight and fresh air. Minou cannot keep that creature inside this homestead forever.”

    “If that is a threat, my dear child, you will be banned from this house,” my old foster mother suggests icily. Her face shows no emotion at all.

    “Leave my niece be!” Now Agathos shows me his real compassion for the golem. “She got abducted by very dangerous men. They drugged her and forced her to walk the streets for money, even while pregnant.”

    “Whose child is it?” I inquire.

    Alezan jumps to his feet, his claws out. “You bring me great dishonour today, my son!”

    Agathos gets up to pat his back. “You know what Narthex always gives me when I am agitated? A decent cup of café.”

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

    My step-sister is lying in front of the door, when I try to enter with my tea tray filled with booty. This makes the actual entry tricky, but I manage. She bloodied her fists by beating them against the door in fury. This reminds me of her Riwalan mother.

    I bathe Isabeau in my gaze. She should die right here and right now. But I cannot lay hands on her. I love her too much to do what must be done according to the Holy Scriptures. She is my little sibling, the joy of my dark childhood. I cannot kill a person that I love.

    After a hot exchange of words I put her in a deep healing trance.

    Agathos waits for me outside and together we head to the ducal homestead.

    I am grateful to my friend that he helps me to pack my step-sister’s belongings despite our recent difficulties.

    When we take a break, the senator places a bottle in front of me. “This is Aletheia house wine, won from the grapes that grow on my mother’s roof garden.”

    Normally, I stay away from alcohol, but it is hard to say no to somebody as dedicated as Agathos is. I wonder if his children are more like him than their mother. For their sake, I hope so.

    The harder I think on that matter, and the more I consume of the wine in my hands, the broader my thoughts become. The fruity flavour in my mouth is quite different than what I am accustomed to.

    Perhaps I am really obsessed with the serpent-spawn in unhealthy ways. Narthex Kyrene, the master valet, is their grandfather. They have to be kind and gifted children and no Force witches.

    “You can stop after two glasses,” my dear friend suggests with a genuine smile. “This is not a drink to be quickly finished off, especially when you are not used to it. You are not seventeen yet, right?”

    “Are you sure about the arrangement for Isabeau?” I ask, putting my glass down on a side table.

    “Of course I am. The village of Sendero with the summer house mean nothing to my wife; Dún Barr, her mountain fortress, does. Trust me, they will not meet. I will make sure that Arcānā stays away from your step-sister.”

    “Why are you doing all this for us?” I wonder softly.

    Agathos’ look is thoughtful while he begins to skim through Isabeau’s jewellery. “Arcānā’s affliction with clone technology brought Alezan and you a lot of sorrow.”

    Somehow his begging me to stay off Sionnach O’Conghaile, but does not know how to do that without no witnesses around. That means he doesn’t trust me to keep my word.

    His voice becomes frail. “See, I would like to make amends here. Your sister is a victim in a war that she has not started. I hope we always will be friends, Luçien, despite what happens in the future.”

    “The future?” I worry for him. “Are you a medium of some kind?”

    He shakes his head gravely. “Only a judge of character.”

    I try to stay calm. “Do you believe me to have a rotten character?”

    His gaze deepens, making my head spin. “Like my wife, you have known very little love in a time when it most mattered. That marked you. And having Force powers, with greater potential for good, but also for bad, does not help. But I do believe if you really learn to listen to that heart of yours, underneath all the scar tissue, then all will be well.”

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

    When we fly to Draconis a few days later, Isabeau is still in emotional uproar, the flight to Sendero is redirected to Cunabula, and Arcānā is our unwilling welcome committee. Her recent pregnancy did her well. She looks more seductive than ever before. A true vision of womanhood.

    What I do not understand is that my foe always wears so little clothing. She is the richest woman in this sun system, yet she wears only a cotton scarf around her hips. There is no crown on her head. Her only jewellery is a humble wooden amulet. Her modesty is a sharp contrast with her sensual appearance.

    Our encounter is brief. Arcānā is not happy with our visit, nor with the fact that Isabeau is not a frightened child, but a worthy enemy. Enraged that her inquiries about Solitaire are fruitless, the crown princess hurries away after Isabeau disappears into the jungle.

    I am not very worried about my step-sister’s well-being. She will get used to her new surroundings, no matter how negative and murderous her thoughts are at present. It is strange that I can read them and Arcānā cannot.

    With Agathos by my side I wander through the Mother Jungle. In awe I stare at the beauty and depth of it, far greater than I had imagined it to be. Something in my blood reacts to it. I feel like shedding my cloth and disappearing into the undergrowth. The promise of a successful hunt is in the air. But I restrain myself. This is not the time for fun.

    Soon, we reach Agathos’ sanctuary, a lovely bungalow. I like this place immediately. It has charme and style and, to top it off, a large variety of books. And windows, a lot of windows that allow the sun to brighten every room.

    The master valet wears a short, airy tunic and stands on the veranda to greet us. I can tell that something bothers him deeply, but he waits until his master vanishes into the bathroom to approach me.

    “This may sound bold, milord, but I am very concerned about the safety of a young woman called Sionnach O’Conghaile.”

    I feel a spasm in my cheek, the only reaction that I allow myself.

    “She is family to me, even though the circumstances of her birth might clash with your religious ideas.”

    Agathos starts singing in the shower, interrupting us. I recognize the melody of an old, raunchy sailor song.

    Discreetly, Narthex closes the sliding door. It muffles the song; only the occasional refrain comes through cheerfully.

    “Do not play games with me, milord!” urges the master valet. “Minou and I just spoke about the girl!”

    Narthex is in direct contact with my fostress. I should have known. “Sionnach O’Conghaile is not a girl, but a product of necromancy,” I say pointedly.

    “When Adamah died, it devastated Arcānā more than anybody else.”

    I cock an eyebrow. “What, a remorseful murderess?”

    “Milord, spare me your cynicism on this one.” Narthex, usually content and in control, lashes out at me. “I lost two daughters that day: one to death and the other one to the darkness of her ancestors.”

    I swallow hard. “Please accept my apologies! I always forget that you...”

    He interrupts me harshly. “Sionnach is all that is left to me from Adamah. Yes, she is a clone of my unborn grandchild, but that does not change anything about my feelings for her.”

    I make my face blank. Eager not to hurt his feelings, I also stay my tongue.

    What I witness now is wonderful and bewildering to me. A love that I do not understand; a love that my own parents never felt for me.

    Suddenly, I am gratefully thinking of Alezan and Minou, both of whom have tried to fill in those blanks in my life.

    “The day Sionnach was taken from her clone tank, Nanny Críonnacht was put in charge of her. Misera, Commander-in-Chief of the Draconian army, made sure that I was allowed to see the security camera footage before it was destroyed. I owe her a lot for that.” His voice becomes wistful, his eyes are neither directed at me, nor at the jungle. “Such a lovely little thing. Red fluff was on her baby skull. Eight tiny toes and fingers. Those almond eyes and her pointed ears. It was easy to mistake her for a real Elfin child.”

    A mistake that I never made, even in a dark gutter. Her unnatural aura had given her away as a product of pure necromancy. Even Ciall had been disgusted by her.

    “Arcānā herself cleaned Sionnach of the nutrient solution, held her close to her heart. Then her face hardened and she handed the baby over to Nanny Críonnacht, bellowing orders. The little one was to grow up anonymous in the Western Prairies.”

    “Why?” I probe careful. “Why not have her here at court?”

    “The ancestors,” Agathos says, standing in the door frame with just a towel around his hips. “If my wife fears anything more than Mórag it is her undead ancestors in the royal crypt.”

    Narthex exchanges a long look with his master. “I did not mean to bother you with Sionnach’s existence. You already had enough to worry about.”

    Agathos steps up to his childhood companion. “She is your granddaughter and my niece. Of course I care. This is why there will be a blood oat between the three of us now.”

    Hesitantly, I give the men my left hand, just to be cut with a kitchen knife straight across my palm. One by one they inflict a similar wound on themselves. And then, one by one again, they press their palms against mine.


    Sources:
    Isaiah 13:7, 13:8 and 13:11
    Gospel of Thomas, Saying 7 (not included in the canon of Scripture due to the fact that it is believed to be a work of fiction), discovered near Nag Hammadi/ Egypt in December 1945, written during the Early Christianity Period (possibly even the Apostolic Age)
    also Gospel of Thomas, Saying 78 & Saying 25
    Chronicles 16:11
    Psalm 32:8
    Gospel of Thomas, Saying 5, 6 & 45
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    gizkaspice, Kahara and Nehru_Amidala like this.
  7. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Lovely! Nice blend of Christianity and the Force.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Super encounters with Agathos and Narthex and Minou, who are positive influences.
    Sionnach and Isabeau's futres are entwined with others' choices. [face_thinking]
     
    AzureAngel2 and Kahara like this.
  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    I'd forgotten about this particular episode in Sionnach's long line of traumas. She really has a difficult life for so long! I'm glad Luc saved her, though it is difficult to see him barely able to restrain his hostility against her for being a clone. Minou (I think it was Minou, brain fart) is right about her being a bright light in his life -- as much as he'll let himself be led by that. And I love Minou here, she is such a good and caring influence in Luc's life; I really believe that if he'd had more years of her influence and not... well, most of the rest of the adults that helped form his character, he would have been a very different and much happier man. Also less Sithy. :p Agathos again, always good to see him! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
  10. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Lucien can care and he should do more of this
     
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @Nehru_Amidala: Oh my, you caught me red handed! ;)


    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: True choices always shape a destiny, but even a sith or darksider can turn around and walk towards the light again. Look at Vader or his grandson. Or even at a certain Revan... O:)


    @Kahara: One can be a victim or chose to live in dignity with one´s scars, having a life. Sionnach does that. And she incorporates something the Jedi order of the future will live out: to serve others, to be part of the greater good.

    As for Minou and Agathos, yes they are defiantly on the good side, too.

    But Luc has the problem most villains have, they do not regard themselves as evil.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: I would love to see you telling him that face to face, dearest. :*

    Okay, sorry for the long break, but there is always so much to do that I do not feel like opening my laptop and going online the past weeks.

    Here we go again:


    Chapter 9:

    In strange harmony we all sit in the bungalow as if nothing has happened. As if no disputable clones have been created out of the cell material of stillborn babies. As if no zombies are locked away in the royal crypts. As if my step-sister has not been banned from Sapuhru for the rest of her life.

    Instead of going back to bed, I end up on a big plaza instead. It is framed with stelae columns that speak of the bloody past of the island. My gloved fingers slide over the ancient inscriptions.

    “After the flood that the rains brought is over and the earth dries up, the people who survive the ruin will receive my wise and imperishable teachings.

    I will be one of the superior beings who will impart this wisdom.

    I, myself, with my power, will transform myself into one of the creator gods. All will be in me and all will come out of me.

    I will be greater than the beings that have been and that will be, because my wisdom is inexhaustible and profound and my power has no limits. This will be so because my eyes are like polished emeralds, my teeth are like precious stones and my nose is like quartz behind which the light shines.

    The land is illumined and one rejoices with the splendour that I distribute when I come out of my refuge – which is a sacred and hidden place for all living beings.

    Because of me the children born from this day on will be born in the land will be educated and will be intelligent. It will be so because my vision is far-reaching, to the place where no one else is capable of seeing.”

    This text, despite hilarious passages in it, is a sacrilege. I had been taught that it is my place to serve the common good rather than to be served.

    Throughout their history, the god queens of Cunabula had been engaged in practices such as sentient sacrifice. They have been in an almost constant state of war, calling them Star Wars due to the star constellations they based them on.

    Annoyed, I turn my back to the stelae and walk on. I badly need a cup of café to cheer me up.

    “Come, son of Dealg!” Sinister presences mentally tug at me. “Join us! We will share our secrets with you!”

    My hand moves to my masked face in shock. The Undead of Cunabula have finally revealed themselves to me.

    Châtiment Goañv once told me that only the penitent man will pass. I am penitent. More than once I have taken the discipline. I am qualified for the confrontation. I have suffered much to get where I am, destined to end this travesty.

    I follow the voices to their unholy source. I end up at a place of centuries old decay, undoubtedly the royal crypt. It is surprisingly unguarded. I realize that it is due to the fact that the dark side clings to the stones. The islanders are clever enough to stay away, to shun what is inside.

    I begin my slow and lonely descent.

    The darkness thickens, despite the white ball of light that dances above my left palm. More than once I slip.

    “What do you want from me?” I demand. My voice is loud in the stillness.

    I hear a moan. First it is so low that I mistake for a sound from the depths of earth. Then it gets louder and louder, with multiple voices joining in.

    “Why did you wish to see me?” I ask, increasing both my voice and the brightness of my light ball.

    There is a harsh, cackling laughter of hundreds of voices. It echoes in my head only, which makes the crypt even more eerily quiet. “We have something for you!”

    My lip curls. Why does everybody think that I can be tempted? “What is it that is supposed to interest me?” I growl aloud.

    “The power to purge the wicked!” the ghostly choir answers me.

    Perhaps I should consider that offer.

    Suddenly, there is a young girl. She wears the yellowish garments of a snake priestess. Determined, she makes her way towards me. Her hands form powerful mudrās, sending blue light through the crypt. In her lime green eyes, deep serenity shows.

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

    “Damn you, Clementia!” My would-be seductresses yell as one voice. “May you bear sons only! You dishonour the Hemutiu family.”

    “And you dishonour the royal of House Tjiehenet,” the girl replies aloud in a steady voice. “Shame on you all! You should know not to treat the son of Dealg in such a way.”

    “Do not overestimate your powers, young one!”

    “I am alive and you are dead,” the girl replies gently. She cannot be older than fourteen. Her eyes glow in the dark like twin lanterns. “Who is having delusions of grandeur?” she asks. “In the Name of Ischáh, the Great Mother, I demand you to let this man go!”

    They all scream at her.

    The snake priestess remains unimpressed. The authority of her office covers her words like a protective coat. “Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Ladies of Air; I do thank you for being my witnesses...”

    In the flickering light, I only catch the quickest glimpse on the girl’s suntanned face, framed by blond dreadlocks. The expression there reminds me of Agathos. It is a deep, somewhat pained disappointment.

    “Clementia, right?” I say.

    Her lime green eyes scan me intensely. “Vicomte Ankoù, it was not wise of you to come down here. I do not fear their revenge on me, but I fear for your soul. There is a crack, or you would have not been lured here.”

    My hand moves fast and hits soft flesh.

    Clementia falls to the ground.

    I regret my overreaction immediately and try to help her up. She refuses with calm dignity and stumbles to her feet by herself, wordless.

    I clear my throat. “I am sorry.”

    Her smile is just sad. “Not for me, I hope. Spare your energies for yourself. The dark is always alert, always patient. It embraces mistakes with cold mercy. You are only sixteen, milord. Too young for such bitterness and hatred.”

    I spin on my heels and head towards the exit with determination.

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

    The same night I am called back to Sapuhru. Minou has made contact with Narthex. The golem has given birth. Agathos hires me one of his best pilots and sends me home with his personal star cruiser, the Paraceus.

    Without changing my travel attire, I run straight from the space port to Ostal Blanc and further into the chambers of the golem. She is asleep. Her newborn son, just a couple of hours old, rests in her arms. He smiles at me and something deep inside me melts.

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

    [​IMG]

    Soon, visiting Éibhear O’Conghaile on a regular basis becomes vital to me. For his sake only, I tolerate his mother, act polite towards her. But it is him that I want to see after a long night of work. He makes me happy.

    There is one day when the golem is so tense and anxious that her shaking hands cause her to drop the mug of tea she was drinking.

    “Milord, we both know that I am living on borrowed time. It is a great honour to be allowed to live here and to have you visit constantly, but we cannot go on with this arrangement forever. I do not belong on this planet. Draconis is the soil where I was born and raised and where I need to be.”

    “Under no circumstances can you ever return there.”

    I grit my teeth and mentally curse the vow I gave to Narthex to not kill her. But I also do not have to give her permission to leave. I can make her disappear in other ways, if I need to, leaving Éibhear safe with me.

    “Why?” the golem demands to know.

    My hands turn to fists. “You are not safe there,” I say sharply, in hopes that she will understand. “There are too many influential persons that have a great interest in the two of you.”

    “But I am not born for a life like this, safely put away in a golden cage. I need the free sky above me.”

    Her urge for freedom is not good news. I did not expect that crisis so soon. “This may be all true, milady, but things are the way they are. You have to stay in this sanctuary for your own good.”

    “Am I your prisoner?”

    That remark hits me very deep. I think of Châtiment’s boots. Of torture instruments. Being too weak to crawl to the door.

    My voice is drenched with sadness when I say, “Did I give you any reason to think so?”

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

    Minou decides against the Way of the Tea. Our new ward will not be trained to be a courtesan, but a Force healer. A beaton. I cannot really see the golem in such an honoured position, but I bow before the wisdom of my old teacher and guardian. If she thinks that creature is worthy of such attention then I will not stand in the way for now.

    One afternoon I check on the pyramid that I took from Isabeau. I want to understand its contents, but it does not activate for me as it did for my step-sister. I can feel the sinister spirit of Solitaire clinging on to it in a nagging silence.

    While meditating with it one evening, I allow myself to slip some important scraps of information. “Sionnach O’Conghaile is in my custody. If you choose to sulk, I will let her pay the price. After the birth of her baby boy, Éibhear, she is very fragile. Imagine all the things that I could do to her.”

    Blinding light burns my eyes. It is not the holocron activating itself but the Force phantom sucking timeless energy out of the pyramid to become visible for me. Bad spirits always need little helpers.

    “Don’t you dare to harm them!” Solitaire shrieks. “Just destroy this holocron and I will be gone as well.”

    With deliberate slowness I rise, hardly able to contain the triumph that I feel for mastering the pyramid. “Why so serious? The royal Undead of Cunabula certainly do enjoy their shadowy existence.”

    Solitaire laughs her deep, booming laugh. “That’s because they are idiots. All of them. Life is best enjoyed fully alive.”

    An old childhood memory rises in me. Isabeau’s mother, chained to Alezan’s bed in order to keep her from killing herself. Pity clenches my heart, but the greed is stronger. “I can give you the redemption and freedom that you seek. But what do I get in return, Force phantom?”

    “You will pay a high price, no matter what I give you.”

    “What do you offer as a bargain?” I ask.

    “The gift of teleportation,” Solitaire says after a while, looking thoughtful. “Elfin druids can sneak up on people this way.”

    That sounds like a worthy deal for me. “What do you want in return?”

    “You can keep your black heart and your even blacker soul. All I want is Sionnach’s safety.”

    I cock my head. “What is that clone to you? A sister?”

    “No.” Her look clouds once more. “Sionnach is evidence that there is a purpose left in my mistress. Arcānā can still love and care for people.”

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

    My attempt to set Solitaire free on the last day of my teleporting training goes horribly wrong. The pyramid withstands me, unwilling to bend to my will.

    In a rage, I send Force lightning against it, wave after wave. But the witch tool stands its ground, unimpressed. Its prisoner rolls her eyes at me.

    “Stop it, Luçien! It is useless. Contact Cunabula!”

    I will not make my failures known, nor the fact that I conjured spirits. “Is there no other way?” I probe, worn out by all the efforts that I made thus far.

    Solitaire thinks hard, her phantom body flickering. I can see how tense she is. She mumbles to herself but does not come up with a reasonable alternative.

    I make a submissive gesture. “Come up with something or I will leave. It is your prison, not mine.”

    “Spare me your comments, Luçien!” She glares at me. “I know I got myself into this dreadful situation. When I died I was so very angry with you. That stopped me from moving on. If I only could have controlled my anger better. Self-control is a true shield against the darkness and its promises.”

    We look at each other, embarrassed and clueless.

    When Solitaire was still alive I was not able to stand the very sight of her. Since her spirit has given me valuable training lessons, I think different of her. I see the skilled female that she used to be in life, the loyal soldier. Those are positions I can sympathize with.

    Suddenly, I have an idea.

    With each heart beat that passes, I think of circumstances that made me angry in the past. I do not need to reflect on them for long. Determined, I lash out to the object of my hate.

    The pyramid explodes in a blinding flash of light. Its shards pierce me everywhere.

    The mental anguish is hard to bear. Darkness claws itself inside me, shredding my skin. I scream more than ever before.

    There is no Solitaire any more. She is basically burned out of existence. I might follow her soon. Energy crackles over my entire body, setting my skin on fire. There is no way I can extinguish this unnatural fire. Despair and hate melt together, like my fingers do.

    In my last clear moment, I erect a blue shield. For Telenn and her clan must stay unhurt.

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

    Painless and light headed, I wake up in Telenn’s lap. Her long, black mane is like a curtain, covering half of my chest.

    I also feel the presence of another powerful being, or at least the echo of his visit. His healing powers still sing in my veins. This leads me to one conclusion: Dealg has been here, and he didn’t want to interact with me.

    “Why is he gone again, Telenn?” I yell.

    The Asrai stares at me, unblinking. Her demeanour is unreadable and so are her thoughts.

    I curl into a ball and fight the tears.

    Dealg doesn’t seem to have any need or true care for me. All that I am to him is just another bastard child he does not wish to get emotionally attached to.




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



    Flor stands at the entrance gate, brightening up visibly as she sees me. “I believed you to be dead. What happened?”

    “Nothing of your concern!” I bark. “Leave me alone.”

    But the wench runs after me like some loyal animal. “Is it about that clone?”

    “It was a long day, Flor. Leave me be!”

    “But there were currents of power,” she insists. “I never felt anything like it. Were you in lethal danger?”

    “Safety is an illusion,” I offer and walk on into the stables.

    “My son, if you have a crush on that creature, I already consulted the Inner Council about it.”

    I stop leading Argent into his box. Slowly, I turn to look at Flor. “You did what?”

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

    At Ostal Blanc I am not really welcome. In my absence Flor has apparently explained herself to the golem as well.

    I decide to offer my heartfelt excuses plus my well-meant protection from now on. This is met with reserve.

    “I need no protection from the cruel universe,” the golem states firmly. “Milord, please do not take me wrong, you are a very attractive person, but I do not desire you. This little man here is all I need to make me whole.”

    There are complaints when my hands settle down on the Elfin skull, but I do not listen and I force my mind straight into it.

    My first memories are those of the azure sky and the emerald sea of grass spreading underneath it. The land is vast and empty, stroked by the celestial hands of the four winds.

    Trees are scarce. The ashes and hazelnuts that have managed to grow ducked themselves into the face of the plains. They are mostly mutilated by their constant fight against the element of the air.

    Those were not the memories that I was looking for.

    Feverishly, I rummage deeper in the golem’s head. There is no noticeable resistance. All that I find in it’s core are innocence and forgiveness, even for those who have hurt it in unspeakable, horrid ways.

    His Lordship moves with the speed of the trained warrior. “Meala!” he exclaims, the alcohol still speaking within him.

    He leaves no inch of my face untouched. His breath is sour and stale. There is nothing I can do about it. He mistakes me for the mother of his unborn child. Over and over he sobs her name as if it is a prayer.

    I struggle to get free, but there is no chance to escape.

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

    Too soon, I learn how Sionach had fled the castle of Dún Mor-Shiabh, family seat of House O’Gradaigh.

    Then I experience how frostbite invaded her hand and feet. I also re-live what her Lidérc abductors did to her before she was forced to walk the streets for money.

    Exasperated and upset, I shove her away from me. I do not know what else to do. All of a sudden, I feel so dirty, so unworthy of this sweet girl. Banishment from Ostal Blanc will be a fitting punishment.

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

    Flor advices me to abduct Sionnach, once we are both thrown out of Ostal Blanc. “Bridal kidnapping is not unheard of in our culture. Ask your step-mothers.”

    My eyes widen. “I will not do such a thing to Sionnach.”

    “Just because life was harsh on her?” Flor lifts a questioning eyebrow.

    “She is a very sweet and devoted girl. I will not compromise her in any way.”

    “Because you are not a real man,” Flor snarls. “And you never will be.”

    I send the dirty cat flying through the room, but she laughs fearlessly even after crashing against the wall.

    “Look at you, Lulu, already sixteen and no sexual record that is mentionable.”

    While dark energy gathers in deadly efficiency, Flor says, “You will miss the boy. It will drive you mad not to be with him.”

    The thought of Éibhear ebbs my anger. “What would you know about it?”

    “You are besotted with that Elfin bastard.”

    She walks steadily towards me, though I can tell she has a bad limp.

    I turn my back on her. “Do not call him thus! He cannot help his parentage.”

    Flor brushes my left shoulder. “If not for Sionnach, do it for the boy. He will have no playmates at Ostal Blanc. It is in your hands to change his destiny for the better.”

    This is the final test of my abilities. I close my eyes, imagine Éibhear and his mother. Soon, I feel their heartbeats in the Force, calm and steady. They are both asleep.

    My body dissolves into energy to reappear quietly in front of Sionnach’s bed.

    Her baby boy is awake immediately, producing happy sounds to bid me welcome. Saliva runs over his small face.

    “Would you like to make a little trip with me?” I ask him, while I clean his mouth with the edge of my sleeve. “Your mother can come, too.”

    The smile on his face increases.

    And so I take them both with me. It drains me, but I succeed for I end up straight in my chambers.

    “This is your new home, my son,” I let the baby boy know, whose toothless grin is full of glee.

    “Why don’t we let your mother sleep and I show you around?” I suggest, loosening the scarf and getting him into a more comfortable position in my arms.

    While I do so, he makes a faint sound that reminds me of a giggle. What a cheerful little fellow he is!

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

    Within an hour, Éibhear has the approval of the ducal pride. That gives me the opportunity to leave him with his new clan and see his mother on my own.

    Sionnach is distressed and disorientated when she wakes up. Of course, it will take time to win her trust. I am no fool. But I am desperate to become an important influence in her life.

    If she allows me, I will be her master in the ways of the Force. Her healing skills needs to be properly tutored.

    What I find most intriguing about the girl is her learning ability. The past months she absorbed everything that Minou taught her and applied it to what she already knew.

    The Brotherhood will never gain jurisdiction over Sionnach. Nor will the always-plotting Flor. Besides, there will be no more children. She already has one teenage pregnancy behind her.

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

    I wait two weeks before I dare to ask Sionnach the boldest questions imaginable. “Can I adopt Éibhear? Or be at least his legal guardian?”

    Sionnach’s eyes are round with surprise. “Why?”

    I stare at the surface of my crème brulée, glad that we are eating together in the privacy of my chambers. Nobody else must witness this conversation. For me it is a face-loosing act. “Let us be honest with one another,” I whisper. “I will never sire children on my own.”

    Anxiety and compassion light her face. “Are there any medical issues that I should know of?”

    Despite all, her assumption makes me laugh. “No, everything is fine.”

    “Then it is a matter of the heart,” she guesses.

    “Which I do not wish to deepen.”

    Sionnach draws a shaking breath. “I will not force you to open up to me, but if you should ever feel the need to talk, my master, I am here for you.”

    “The past is the past. I survived. Besides, stop calling me master. Just call me by my name.”

    Sionnach says nothing for a few moments. I expect more comments about those bleak childhood experiences of mine. Her uncle, Agathos, always refers to those. But when she speaks again, she simply says, “I can see how much you adore my son and how deeply he loves you back. Because he will flourish from it, I would like you very much to be the father he wants and needs.”

    Just two nights after this conversation, Minou welcomes me back at Ostal Blanc with open arms. Sionnach was eager to write a letter on my behalf.

    But that is not the only surprise. Alezan officially places the girl and her child under his protection.


    Sources:
    An ancient Maya text
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Kahara likes this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb contrast, as Lucien interacts with Solitaire and Flor :eek: and then with Sio and Eibhear -- the latter bringing out his more compassionate actions.
     
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  13. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    I love to see him being sweet to Eibhear
     
  14. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Thanks for always reading and commenting! That means a lot to me.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Then I try to bring more of the positive stuff!
     
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  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Okay, here is my update. I am finally well enough to post it. But I cannot write new stuff at present. The concentration is simply not there.

    All my energy goes into my work and helping @DarthUncle with the household cores. The pain I am in is not as bad as some days ago. But, while taking the medicine for my stomach, I need to wait to talk to my family doctor. Two more weeks and he is back from his holidays...

    Anyway, if I still have readers - @Kahara, @Darth_Furio, @earlybird-obi-wan, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @Nehru_Amidala, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701... and others - here we are:


    Chapter 10:


    Very soon, Éibhear is the greatest highlight in my life. At times, his education even makes me think of my exiled step-sister. Isabeau really seems to get along with the royal serpent-spawn. Agathos and Narthex try to keep me up-to-date about her. Sometimes I believe they leave out some details, but I am grateful for their reports.

    “Being a father becomes you,” Néné praises me one morning when I crawl into her bed.

    I say nothing and just snuggle closer to her.

    It is my seventeenth birthday. Sionnach has no idea and I want to keep it that way. The sad anniversary of Lisére’s death is something that I do wish to share.

    “Oeillet is busy with a pilgrim somewhere in the bath house,” Néné says, making me focus on her and her exquisite touch again. “She will not join us tonight.”

    “That is fine with me.”

    “Would you like to have more children?” Néné opens my hair ribbon and starts playing with my now-cascading locks. “Perhaps your own?”

    Snorting, I bury my face against her shoulder. “You sound like Flor. How come?”

    Néné briefly shivers. “I just cannot help but notice how...”

    “I have bad blood,” I interrupt her, trying to keep my voice low. “So bad that I do not wish to pass it on.”

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

    When I wake up again, feeling glorious, a flustered Minou stands in front of my bed. Her walking stick shakes so much that it makes clicking noises on the stone floor. “Néné has helped your mother in getting Sionnach pregnant with your child.”

    “What?” My mind slowly wakens and I can’t be sure that I heard her correctly.

    “In-vitro fertilization,” Minou says hoarsely. “Alezan tells me that Sionnach is missing and that his private ferry is gone, too.”

    Perhaps I am still asleep and this is but a nightmare. I pinch myself in my right underarm until I draw blood. The pain feels real.

    “Néné is in the tea room and awaits her punishment.”

    I am not asked to spare her life, which startles me. My voice is a harsh growl. “I am capable of a lot of dark deeds, but I never could lay a hand on any of you.”

    I grab my clothes, pulling them on as I rush out of the building. As the door slams behind me, I notice my tears of wrath and dry them with the back of my left hand. They achieve nothing.

    I hate my birthday, I always will.

    Suddenly, the presence of Éibhear blazes up in my chest. When I turn to the gate, I see Alezan hurrying towards me.

    “There will be no death warrant for the girl.” He gently places the still-sleeping Éibhear in my arms. “Let Sionnach have that baby, even though it goes against the Holy Scriptures. It is not her doing.”

    I stare at him, confused. “I am glad that we have the same opinion about Sionnach’s innocence, but what about…?”

    “I will punish Flor in my own way,” he throws in. “The position of the Sapuhrian Consul on Amnion is vacant. I will convince the Brotherhood that you are the right man.”

    “But you cannot...”

    “For the first time ever, I can arrange that you are safe from the demands of our people. I am so sorry that I failed you before. Please stay away from this city, this planet!” My foster-father turns away from me with hanging shoulders. His voice is but a mere whisper as he speaks on. “Luçien, I want you to have what I have: a child who you can love and who makes you proud. And now, go, my son. Leave me!”

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

    Tracking Sionnach down is not complicated. The Priapos Clinic for Fertility is well known at Polysýndeton. Enough citizens show me the way when I ask for directions. Once there, I leave Éibhear in the care of a seemingly trustful nurse called Eudaimonia Argon.

    When I enter the hospital room, Sionnach eyes brighten at my sight. She pats an open spot on her bed.

    It is my duty to protect Alezan’s honour, so I give her a different version of my conversation with him.

    Soon, Sionnach is crying. I hold her all the way through her heavy sobs, running my fingers through her red, frizzy hair. It calms us both.

    By nightfall, her eyes are dry and her emotions are more stable. But her voice is still thin, mixed with uncertainty and dread. She wants to know about the status of our relationship and the child inside her. Then she poses the question I have been afraid of since I came back from Draconis.

    “How old am I? I lose track of time too easy.”

    I take a deep breath before answering. “As far as we both know, you were created when the dauphine was a girl of nine. Now she is twenty-one.”

    It takes Sionnach a moment to fully process what I said. Hearing that she is only fourteen-years-old is not easy. Then she breathes, “I cannot stay in the serail after what Flor did to me.”

    “Ah, I feared that you might say so.” Actually, I am very happy that I do not need to go back to Sapuhru for a long time. “Papa shares this concern,” I say, not willing to show her my true emotions. “But we agreed on the following: you and I can stay here until the baby is born. Urgent matters require my presence here at Amnion anyway.”

    “Urgent matters?”

    She always has one too many questions.

    “There is no consul to represent the affairs of the House Ankoù here on Amnion.”

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

    Many hours later, I make a call to Agathos. Seeing him on the viewscreen of the visiphone eases all my worries. His storm-grey eyes sparkle with warmth and delight. “Luçien, it has been a while.”

    “Indeed,” I agree. “I figured that being married and having so many children keeps you busy.”

    He smiles at me, but when I explain myself to him his look darkens. “Flor never fails to amaze me with her cruelty and efficiency,” he concludes, when I have finished talking. “Listen, Luçien. I have an old school mate who is real-estate agent.”

    “I could not...” I start, but he interrupts my protest.

    “Just mention my name,” he grins. “The waiting list in Polysýndeton, even for buying property, is ridiculously long.”

    I nod to myself.

    “And, Luçien?”

    The urgent tone of his voice makes me look deep into his storm-grey eyes. It is a rather unsettling experience.

    “We need to keep this pregnancy secret from my wife as long as possible.” Each word of his has a steely sound to it. “Sionnach is a princess du sang, a royal Princess of the Blood; no matter how she came into this world. Your little family does not need to be in the focus of the Draconian secret service. Keep a low profile if you can!”

    There are days when I wish I could forget the Tjiehennet heritage of my companion. But Sionnach is what she is, a cauldron-born daughter of the Holy Isle. For the better or the worse.

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

    Before I arrange a meeting with the real estate agent, I wait for Sionnach to be more at ease with her changed situation. There is little point in going house hunting without her. Amnion offers us both a new life style and a lot of freedom. I would be a complete fool if I stuck to the rules of the serail. We will create new rules of consent, especially with a child on the way.

    While Sionnach stays another night at the Fertility Clinic, I check in at a little breakfast pension that Agathos pointed out to me. I am glad that he did. Hēdus and Eirean Ankulos, a married couple in their early fifties, run a business with heart. Despite the late hour of our arrival, they make Éibhear and me feel very welcome. We get a lovely room on the second floor and a complementary midnight meal.

    Once we sit down in the family kitchen, Éibhear in a children’s seat and me on a kitchen bench, I decide to unmask myself. The little one, about eleven months old by now, needs an alert parent.

    While I slowly eat Kalamarakia Yemista me Aginares, artichoke-stuffed squids with spicy rice, I feed apple pear purée to Èibhear.

    “Agathos called us, milord,” says Eirean Ankulos after we had eaten a good portion of our dinner. She stands behind her cookery pots and has her back turned on us.

    “Everybody in this town seems to either be his friend or family member,” I remark friendly.

    Her shoulders stiffen. “He also has severe enemies in this city. There are many people who do not approve of his marriage to the Draconian crown princess.”

    There are too many questions I want to ask. I choose the least insulting one. “Have you ever met Arcānā?”

    “They spent their wedding night here.” Her voice is thick with emotion. “They could not go anywhere else after Techné threw them out of the city villa. Khion had asked the Filiki Eteria to hunt them down. Narthex and my Hēdus guarded the entrance area, until fovea centralis agents came at dusk to get them off-world.”

    As much as I dislike the god queen, I find it in me to pity her. In order to keep the conversation going, I ask, “I take it that you are also friends of Narthex?”

    “Childhood friends.” Eirean Ankulos turns around. I can look straight into her plain, yet friendly face. Like the majority of the Amnionians, she has olive coloured skin and black, curly hair tied up in a bun. “Narthex and Agathos are inseparable,” she says. “They grew up like brothers. Arcānā strengthened their already existing bond.”

    My eyes widen and I almost drop Éibhear’s spoon. This woman knows who sired the future god queen.

    “Milord, you will find out that most secrets keep themselves here at Polysýndeton.” She points at Éibhear with her cookery spoon. “Therefore I advise you to keep a low profile for the little one.”

    I cock a sardonic eyebrow at her. This is the second warning that I receive today. “I now wonder what Agathos and Narthex told you of me.”

    “Normally, the Circle of Heavens lets me see the heart of a person.” Her smile deepens. “But you are a riddle for me, milord.”

    Baffled, I let her give me a glass of red wine.

    “To you, and the right future decisions, milord,” she says and raises her own glass.

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

    Damon Cardea is a bald and enthusiastic man with many dimples. With his large belly and double chin, he looks more like a wine merchant than a real estate agent. He laughs a lot and makes Sionnach blush more than once with his saucy humour. We both like him though. Within no time, he has several places of interest for us. We leave his office in the North of the city after discussing prospects for less than an hour.

    In one of the huge residential towers that senators and the local upper class favour, we are shown a large apartment. The enormous reception room leads straight into the Royal Suite, where the personal quarters are located. There was direct access to turbo lifts. A curved corridor leads to a sound-proof ante-chamber and further on to the main lounge area. The lounge features large windows on the two exterior walls. There is a spacious balcony running along the side of one of the walls. Everything is decorated in various shades of red.

    I wasn’t impressed with the seemingly fake grandeur. “What do you think, mon cœur?”

    “Can I plant some flowers on the balcony?” Sionnach asks. “This place needs some greenery.”

    I am glad to hear that she shares my thoughts.

    “You can propose a concept for the gardening service, but only if it fits in with the design of the building, milady,” explains Damon Cardea. “Do not worry; the gardeners are always open to new ideas.”

    Sionnach nods, but her forehead creases.

    “You do not need to decide right away, milady.” Understanding shines in his brown eyes. “Part of visiting a diverse set of options is for both you and me to discover what it is that you want. Let me escort you to the next property.”

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

    After a long walk into the oldest part of town, we end up in front of a lovely stone house. It’s façade is yellow and is overgrown with vines. I can also spot a garden on the roof.

    “This was my great-aunt’s house,” explains Damon Cardea. “She died six months ago, after a long and happy life.”

    “Surely we cannot...,” Sionnach gets a sudden hiccup from excitement.

    “Oh, I but insist, milady. She left this building to me, but I had already moved two streets away before she passed.” She smiles. “I was desperate to find a new owner, somebody worthy who would love the place as much as she did.”

    “Can we go inside?” Sionnach sounds hopeful.

    “Of course, milady,” Damon Cardea smiles. “It would be an honour.”

    Gladly, I follow them. This house radiates of love and comfort, which is all that I ask for. For Sionnach; for the children; and, even for me.

    Soon I learn that Aspasia Hamon was a tidy woman. The house will not require much cleaning or renovation. Sionnach and I learn that it is a three store building with a generous roof garden that has a retractable glass dome for the cold half of the year.

    The entrance door opens straight into the quadrangle, a square yard marking the centre of the home, with a collecting tank for rain water. I like the fact that it has no permanent roof. I can look straight into the azure blue sky above while walking between rooms.

    “In case of rain or heavy gales, you can also use the retractable glass roof,” Damon Cardea informs us and shows us the mechanism.

    “Oh no, that won’t be necessary,” cheers Sionnach. “After having lived underground for so long, I miss the feeling of rain on my skin.”

    I agree with her. Rain is nice. Actually, all of the weather conditions feel of freedom.

    We walk on, pleasantly exploring the house room by room.

    On the ground level, there is a work shop, a storage room, a spacious kitchen, a bath chamber with lovely mosaic tiles, an office room and the servants’ quarters.

    “Do you wish for personnel?” our real estate agent inquires.

    Sionnach answers before I can even open my mouth. “Luçien and I will need to talk about that. But it is good to know that possible staff has such nice and spacious quarters.”

    When I look at the office space of the house, I am pleased once more. I make a mental note to turn it into a so-called Andron, a room where I can entertain guests in future. From now on, I want a strict separation between work and private life. My true office will be at the Embassy only with maybe a small study here, upstairs, for more relaxing hobbies.

    A circular staircase leads us to the second level. I know from Sionnach´s determination that there will be no problems with her wooden leg. She hates to see herself as a disabled person. One of the rooms there can be a Gynaikon for her, a traditional room set aside for the lady of an Amnionian house. She can have her own guests there, or have a study for herself. As far as I know, she is not much into weaving and knitting, but there are other leisurely interests that may occupy her. Knowing her, she will make good use of any space given to her.

    The master bedroom lies next to the nursery and the guest room. I welcome the fact that Sionnach and I can even have separate bedrooms. The entire sun system believes us to be lovers, but we are just good friends.

    When we reach the roof garden, Sionnach disappears between the plants. A real Tjiehenet. Somewhere hidden inside the magnolia bush, she calls out to us, “You have taken such great care of the plants.”

    Damon Cardea chuckles. “Why do you think that I am responsible for the gardening?”

    Her milky-white Elfin face becomes visible again. “You would not trust any gardening service. Besides, you have some earth stuck between your fingernails.”

    Damon blushes slightly but grins as she looks down at her hands. “You are a very perceptive woman, and someone who is worthy of owning this house.”

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

    Settling into my new position as Consul of Sapuhru is not difficult. And with Sionnach at my side it is even easier to establish myself. She is sweet and charming, blessed with Elfin grace and beauty. Soon, we receive many guests at home. The majority of them are politicians and people of local importance.

    But only a carefully selected number of men is allowed into my andron, the only place where I can be unmasked in company.

    The blood oath that members of the Brotherhood swear to one another is a strong code. That makes them not only my frères d’armes, brothers-in-arms, but my family.

    Déodat Amezeg, a salt merchant that I have known since I was a small boy, leans closer while I pour him fresh tea. “Do not underestimate the power of the Friendly Society in this city,” he says in a low voice. “Khion has a goal.”

    “Then the Scatel need our protection,” I prompt.

    Cosme Ganto, the owner of a nearby spice shop, grins darkly. “I hoped you would say so, milord. It is about time that somebody has united us for a true crusade against evil.”

    I incline my head to the full-blooded Lidérc. “My father taught me to believe in Truth, Beauty and Freedom.”

    “What about Love?” Ambroise Kervarker, a young poet and novelist, asks dreamily.

    “Love.” I smile indulgently. “I leave matters of the heart to men like you. It is better for the ladies.”

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

    Three nights later I find Éibhear in bad humour. He is teething and keen on letting everybody know. I answer his cries before Sionnach awakens. The boy and I end up in the window seat of the nursery. There, I fall asleep almost without noticing.

    When I awake in a sea of sunlight, I have four tiny fingers clutched in my open hair. Another Elfin hand rests on my left cheek. I hate to disentangle myself from my foster-son, but I need to make breakfast for everybody before I leave for work. It takes me a while to put Éibhear back into his crib without jostling him too much.

    In the end it does not matter who sired Éibhear. It only matters that he trusts me, believes in me and wants me to be around. Now I understand what Alezan feels for me. It was never a question of blood; it is a question of love.

    I make my way into the kitchen, trying to focus on breakfast preparations only.

    Pancakes, topped with butter and honey are always nice, but today I would like Tiropita. This special pastry is made with layers of buttered phyllo and filled with a cheese-egg mixture.

    Sionnach loves cheese. I think my choice will agree with her very much. The pregnancy costs her a lot of strength. Her body is out of balance.

    To my annoyance, the doorbell rings just as I am starting to prepare the meal. Getting dressed in my desert robes takes too long. Instead, I pull the kitchen window open and ask, “Who is it?”

    “We need to talk eye to eye, little brother,” replies a stern, male voice.

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

    My half-brother is a much larger man than I am. His face is as weather-beaten as rocks in the middle of the ocean. It is framed by amber coloured hair. He looks like a human man in his fifties, but I suspect him to be much, much older than that. His mother’s race is easy to detect for somebody with my skills. Our father seems to like Elfin woman very much. Fleur must have been an accident.

    I look deep into his intense gold-speckled brown eyes. “I suspect this is no pleasure visit, Your Holiness,” I state as formally as I can in my blue night gown with an orange kitchen apron over it.

    “Instead of alerting the neighbourhood to your bad choice of clothing,” the archbishop of Polysýndeton snarls, “You had better let me inside your house.”

    “Of course, Your Holiness,” I answer, acidly. “If you care to follow me.”

    His brows are drawn together in displeasure as he steps over the threshold. I can tell that he is used to more glamorous, pompous, surroundings. But I do not care. This is my home and I like it as it is. All of the gold and satin of the ducal household wears me down, leaving me drawn to more simpler surroundings.

    “I sensed a disturbance in the Force the day you arrived,” the archbishop informs me crisply.

    I shrug his reproach off. “On that day I had better things to do than looking for possible half-siblings.”

    He acts as if I said nothing of importance. “I must warn you against countering Filiki Eteria. If I can live with their lot, you should do the same.”

    “You support the extinction of your own people?” My eyes narrow.

    “Keep to your own business, little brother, and I will keep to mine. That is all that I have to say. Playing at politics is dangerous, and when religious issues have to be taken into account it becomes even more complicated. You may be the Messiah on Sapuhru, but on this planet I rule.”

    “Via mass hypnosis? And overwriting the archives from Terra?” I raise an eyebrow. Apotheosis, or raising an individual to godlike stature, is a great sin in my eyes. My brother has the entire city under his wings, reminding me of the god queens of Cunabula.

    Infuriated, my half-brother leaves the room.

    A moment later, I hear the front door slam.

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

    In the weeks after Parhelion’s visit, I concentrate on diminishing the numbers of Filiki Eteria one by one. It is a fight between the light and the dark. My net of agents is closing in on several individuals.

    Agathos decides to visit me in person, not trusting the holonet for the things he has to say to me.

    I get up from my office chair to greet him properly. “What an unexpected surprise!”

    “Please spare me the pleasantries, Luçien!” He marches towards my desk in bold steps. His determination bewilders me. “You know exactly why I am here. The trail of blood leads directly to you.”

    I lower my gaze, unable to meet his storm grey eyes. Somehow he knows; he always knows. “Your brother can live on, but I will watch his actions closely.”

    Exhausted, Agathos sinks down into one of the visitor chairs. “Why can’t you leave things be?”

    I can live with the fact that I am the bad guy for him after all the things that I have pulled, but I will widen his horizon right here and right now. With grim determination I walk over to my safe and take a palm-sized tablet out. I switch it on.

    Agathos peaks over my shoulder and seems rather startled when the first image appears.

    “This is Iphigenia.” My voice is low and almost emotionless. “She was just six years old when Filiki Eteria came for her. From the leftovers found in the high-pressure chamber it’s hard to tell, I know. But I spoke to an aunt of hers. The last survivor of that Sea Elf clan.”

    He runs a hand over his eyes.

    My voice has a chilly edge as I continue through the images. “The pulp is thrown out with the other biological garbage this city makes.”

    My old friend gulps hard but is unable to say anything.

    “How can you expect me to stand by idly?” I all but yell. “How?”

    Agathos’s chest heaves up and down. “Killing the killers is not a solution.”

    Then a deadly pallor claims his face. The news is shocking, but should not produce this type of reaction in him.

    I am at his side before he can hit the ground.


    Sources:
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
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  16. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superbly intense with Parhelion and Agathos Wonderful with Sio and Eibhear. =D=

    I am always happy to see you around the boards, @AzureAngel2 @};-
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
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  17. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I think I somewhat remember this part from Sionnach's story. Agathos had a heart attack, right?
     
  18. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Glad to see your feeling better! Also, I think I’m seeing parallels between Lucien and Anakin right now. Was that intentional?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    I hope he can save him
     
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  20. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Fascinating updates -- interesting to see how Luçien's view of Solitaire changes with him actually getting to know her holocron self. She had an interesting set of motivations, resembling neither Jedi nor Sith though Luc might beg to differ. (That whole thing about her being there to cause division doesn't quite check out, though I do think she was there for a reason. The whole thing with her teaching Isabeau hints that there was a greater plan on her part.)

    It's also really bittersweet and moving to see his relationship with Sionnach and her son. From her point of view, I don't remember if I ever got the impression that her caring for Luc was reciprocated. Here you can see that it really is on some level. He has this weird and twisted view of her (as is the case with practically every woman who crosses his path), but he definitely does have these deep feelings for her that are contradictory to that. Not feelings of a romantic kind, as he notes, but he wants her and the kid to be safe and happy.
    It's a shame that he's so bad at not messing up his relationships with the people he's closest to!

    Flor is being Flor again -- I'd forgotten this particular episode. Yikes. Really awful for Luc and Sionnach both. I'm glad that they got out of there, even if Luçien did forget that little "consult the person you're moving around like a sack of potatoes" aspect.

    And for Sionnach, I do wish that she got to be with her true love (edit: I think it was Skje?) so much sooner but it's also poignant to see this little moment of almost-peace in spite of the awful circumstances leading up to it. I love the description of the house, and of the warm and kind new friends in the city who helped Luçien find the place! It's a shame that there is also this horrifying trend of murders in the city -- I can see exactly why that would draw him in with the way he is. Sometimes he has such good intentions, as here. But knowing him, I worry about how far he may go and how many may get caught in the crossfire. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
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  21. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Glad to hear that. I am shortly back from an eight day long holiday at the North Sea coast. And after two days at home with doctor appointments and a lot laundry to do, we will head to the mountains, DarthUnlce and I. So I have time for a short update.


    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701: Indeed, he had a heart attack. Too much accidental Force lightening.

    @Nehru_Amidala: In this version I especially worked on those parallels.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: That would be nice, woudn´t it?


    @Kahara: Thanks for this longer and thoughtful comment. Luc is a typical tomcat. Nothing is ever easy with him. Never ever.

    Okay, here we go:


    Chapter 11:

    Much later, when my old friend rests on the divan and has a glass of water, I exclaim with mild anger, “Divorce your demon wife!”

    “Why would I want to? For being haunted by her bad childhood?”

    “She gives you cardiac arrhythmias.” Frantically, I run my fingers over his torso. All his meridians are messed up badly. “And one day she will break your heart for good.”

    He shrugs but sees no point in lying. “It happens mostly in her sleep, when she is extremely vulnerable. Arcānā does not even know that she sends the impulses through my body.”

    “You are seriously ill, Agathos. You cannot go on like this for much longer.”

    “There are many people with heart conditions.”

    I glower at him, seeing the fine chisels in his face. Darkness gnarls on his body like some predator animal. He looks older than he actually is.

    “Do you know why I chose to be your friend, Luçien?”

    To that I have no answer. I hope he does not continue, but as usual my wish is not granted.

    “You can have such a generous heart if you grant yourself thus. Look at how good you are with your foster-son. Take that example to heart for the rest of your life. Become a better person.”

    We look at each other for a long time.

    Finally, Agathos tells me of his initial desire to stay with me for the next few days.

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

    The Embassy has three guest chambers. During his stay Agathos does not wish to meet Sionnach or even Éibhear. “There is no need to confuse my niece or upset her during her pregnancy,” he says to me on his last day.

    “Do you really need to return to Cunabula today?” I enquire, even though a full week has passed since his arrival. “The High Season is starting soon. We could go fishing together. Rent a boat, you know.”

    “I already stayed longer than I originally intended to.” His smile is honest. “I have a wife and eleven children waiting for me on Draconis.”

    “Will you at least think about separate bed-chambers?” I remind him.

    “Luçien, I know that you prefer to sleep on your own, but my arms are the safest place for Arcānā at night.”

    I want to yell at him that he is a fool. That this marriage is doomed, because his wife cannot stand the ghosts of her evil deeds. But my protests have already fallen on deaf ears, so I keep silent as he leaves.

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

    A couple of weeks later, Sionnach and I acquire a nanny during one of our famous dinner parties.

    Angina Ōon comes with no references, but I have a good feeling about her. Therefore I arrange the death of her abusive husband. This will buy her freedom forever more. My men make it look like an armed robbery.

    But our actions do not fool Filiki Eteria. They follow the widow and try to harm her. My shadow army answers to this serious assault.

    Unfortunately, Parhelion does not like my aggressive negotiations. When I return home, I catch him frightening Sionnach, who is eight months pregnant. The shock makes her go straight into labour.

    Angina forces my half-brother and me to let go of our conflict for now and help the twins be born.

    Many hours and curses later, I hold my tiny daughter in my arms. I cannot stop weeping with exhaustion and joy. Her birth cry was loud and strong.

    I clear her throat from slime and blood, then anxiously check her hands and feet. Five fingers and five toes. Neither Elfin, nor Tjiehenet. She is mine. Mine. Her skin is copper just like my own. The promise of red curls already shows on her small head. She will be a true beauty.

    I hand the newborn over to Angina. “Thank you for your help with everything.”

    “You honour me by letting me work for you, milord.”

    smile cracks my face. “Please call me by my name from now on! We are one family.”

    A feeble cry makes me turn around.

    My son.

    I stumble towards Parhelion who has been holding him for me. “He needs you. There is something stuck in his throat.”

    With the help of my powers I clear the air pipe and give him a little slap on his backside. The boy cries again, this time from astonishment.

    “Hi there!” I greet my son. “Welcome to the universe.”

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

    After much consideration, Sionnach and I schedule the baptism of the twins in a fortnight. After my half-brother’s pompous ceremony, we have to suffer through all the congratulations of the local celebrities.

    I make a mental note to pick a normal pre-school for my children, not something high-class. They will have real friends with a decent working-class background. It is bad enough that I have to deal with all these superficial people; I don’t want them to have to bear the same.

    Soon, I have a new daily routine. I rise in the grey hours of dawn and check on the children in the nursery. After that, I tiptoe downstairs to prepare breakfast. Angina usually joins me and we compare our time tables for the day.

    When the food is ready, I bring up tea tray for Sionnach. She also requires some help getting down the stairs, due to the difficult labour.

    Once in the kitchen, she feeds the hungriest twin first, while Éibhear gets his porridge either from Angina or from me. When the children are fed we adults eat together. Then I go to the Embassy for about five or six hours.

    I try to keep work and home strictly separated. Even our famous parties are now held in the Embassy.

    What I truly love is accompanying Eibhear to the play group at noon while Sionnach and Angina take the twins to the baby centre. Once there, I like to take my war mask off. The little ones are so easily scared and prefer to look at my bare face and have me smile at them. I don’t feel guilty, for according to the Holy Scriptures, I am allowed to unmask myself in a private setting and amongst children.

    Éibhear and I learn the local songs, such as 'Head and shoulders, knees and toes' and 'Itsy, bitsy spider'. We play with building blocks, do some physical exercises, and draw with crayons or water colours.

    Amnionians are very social people. Education is extremely important to them. It is evident in the teachers’ behaviours and in the spectrum of future opportunities.

    Once a week, I bring Sionnach and the children to the pool that belongs to the play group. It is obligatory for the citizens of Polysýndeton to learn how to swim and dive. But no matter the day, the Embassy has my attention for most of the afternoon. I have staff to take care of emergencies and visitors in my absence.

    When the sun is low on the horizon, I to walk home. After simple dinner, the children are tucked into bed and I turn into a story teller. Every few nights, Éibhear asks me to sing.

    Only when our offspring is asleep do Sionnach and I tell each other about our day. She wants to wait to begin practising as a Force healer again until the twins are old enough to enter pre-school. That might already be in two years time, with the Amnionian push for early education.

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

    Around their first birthday, the twins begin a new phase of exploring. The toys and stuffed animals fly through the nursery; loud noises tell me that the furniture also develops a penchant for levitation. As long as they do not hurt each other, I let the them test themselves.

    So far, neither Tāchys nor Phrēn shows a weakness for witch the dark side of the Force. They are bright children, blessed with light, love and empathy. I am so glad that they will grow up without my heartless mother. I do not want them broken.

    Tāchys is a wild girl with a rough tenderness whereas Phrēn is a real prankster, though his jokes are usually sweet and playful. Both adore Éibhear, even if they do sometimes try his patience. All in all my children are inseparable. That makes me proud and glad that the twins can grow up in an environment that is free from bloody competition and death threats.

    There is an unexpected factor in my life though, influencing all my family members. My older half-brother becomes a regular guest in our house. He is always incognito, letting one of his servants be his decoy while he is away. Usually, he comes bearing gifts for the children and plants for Sionnach.

    “I like this kitchen very much,” Parhelion tells us during one of his surprise visits. “It is so homely.”

    The twins and Éibhear lie on an Elfin tartan rug, cuddling with one another in their sleep. Angina sits close to the hearth fire and spins wool. I am busy with the dinner preparations while Sionnach sets the table for us.

    “Why are you here today?” I ask sharply.

    “I would like to discuss the religious education of the twins with you,” he confesses.

    “As their godfather you have the right to ask, but I will not make any concessions to your cult, Parhelion. It is unnatural.”

    A shadow flickers over his face. “What do you want the twins to believe in then? In two moon goddesses of a world that they both will never set foot on? Or even worse, do you want them to make blood sacrifices to the Great Mother Snake of Draconis?”

    My fingers cramp around the cooking spoon. “I want my children to grow into upright individuals, being able to tell right from wrong. And, most of all, I want them to behave responsibly with their Force powers.”

    Parhelion makes a dry, guttural sound at the back of his throat.

    “I know that I am far from perfect, my brother.” I take the cookery pot off the hotplate and close my eyes. “Defending the weak and bringing peace and order to the universe always comes with a high price. My children will never pay such a price. They will have a rich and fulfilling life.”

    Parhelion fails to understand what ails me. “Can you at least enlist them at a private elite school?”

    I turn around as slowly as possible, which gives me enough time to calm my face. “All three will visit a public pre-school. They will interact with the children from the neighbourhood. Sionnach and I have enough to deal with within the high society of this city already.”

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

    When the forth birthday of the twins nears, I take Éibhear to the market place. The boy, barely a year older then his siblings, wants to buy his own presents for the twins using his weekly allowance. His bravery and growing independence make me proud. He is everything a father can wish for.

    The local folk know us and we are met by friendly greetings. Filiki Eteria keeps away from the neighbourhood. Their ideas about pure-bred humans and anti-alien rallies are not welcome here.

    Éibhear picks out a beautiful satin hair ribbon for Tāchys. And a little bag of plant seeds for Phrēn. Happily, he presents me his choices. I give him an approving nod.

    While he pays the two merchants, who have stalls opposite one another, a familiar face catches my eye.

    Aurora Kyrene, the niece of Narthex, passes by with her foster son Aconite. Just a small number knows that the three year old is not her own, but is a prince of the Tjiehenet line, unwanted by his birth mother. He is like a cold spot, sending shivers through my body. Arcānā had meaninglessly burned out all his Force skills.

    “Mistress Kyrene,” I call out and wave to her nonetheless.

    Her head turns around, and she spots me immediately. With a height of almost two metres I am not easy to miss.

    “Vicomte! What a nice surprise!”

    A radiant smile spreads over her olive coloured face, reaching her exotic lavender eyes. With little Aconite on her arm, she rushes towards me. For a moment I am worried that she tries to hug me, but she stops breathlessly in front of me. She is a small and slender woman. Her face could be that of an angelic statue in the city temple. Like the majority of the Amnionians she has black curls.

    Éibhear, who has finished with his purchases, joins us. “Hi!”

    “Little Lord, I have not seen you for a while.” Aurora Kyrene kneels down to come to the level of his eyes. This does not please Aconite. He does not like sharing his mother’s attention with anybody. Sourly, he glares at Éibhear.

    “I bought birthday presents. For the twins.”

    “Really? What did you buy, little Lord?” Aurora Kyrene asks warmly.

    While Éibhear chats away, I lead the way.

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

    About two months later, with the start of Kalo Keri, the most popular time of year at Polysýndeton for boat tours and fishing trips, I get a visiphone call from Agathos.

    “You can start preparing tea for me,” he beams. “We arrived yesterday. The press does not know yet, but there is no way that I can prevent them spotting any of us.”

    “Whom are you talking to?” I hear Arcānā say somewhere in the background. There is also the sound of running and laughing children.

    “A dear old friend who lives in the neighbourhood,” her husband replies and it is no lie.

    “Perhaps you should go to see him after tea time. Kairos might be offended otherwise,” she considers.

    “Can I fetch you from work?” Agathos asks me.

    I nod.

    “Perfect. I will be at your office at six.” A little head comes into view. I see a mass of blond locks. There is a sweet voice asking something that I do not catch. “Of course we can go on the veranda now and watch the ocean, Grianán. I just want to finish this call.”

    “I have a lot to tell you,” Agathos continues. “But now is not the right time, I...”

    A waving arm covers most of the screen.

    “Daná, please wait a moment!”

    “No!” a determined child’s voice states and the viewscreen goes blank.

    Exhausted, I lean back in my office chair.

    They are here. They are all here.

    At the beginning of last week, Calothrix Aletheia has given birth to her baby boy. The royal family must have come for the baptism. I wish they would have turned the invitation down. For the sake of us all.

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

    “Daddy! Let me come, too,” Tāchys offers, barring the front door with her small, yet determined body. She is wild and proud with fearful premonitions at times.

    “No,” I repeat, not willing to shout at her or remove her by force. She just wants to help, and while I value her eagerness, nobody can help me in this case. I need to face my greatest failure alone.

    “Please, Daddy!” my daughter whines.

    To my greatest distress, the first tears roll over her chubby cheeks. “Don’t!” I say. It comes out as a soft whisper, more like a prayer than an order.

    “Please!” Tāchys repeats agitated.

    “I am deeply sorry, but I cannot take you with me this morning.” My heart hurts while I look at her wet face, and hurts more as I remove her fingers from the door handle. I grip her carefully by her neck and kiss her brow. She is paralysed in an instant. “You will stay here, because I say so.”

    While I lock the door behind me, I cannot help but think that this is Arcānā’s fault. She spoiled my morning. She made my daughter cry. She is the weapon that cuts us apart.

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

    Grimly, I hurry through the city, which is almost empty in the grey hours before dawn.

    “Demons do not operate save through trickery,” I mumble behind my war mask. My mind is solemnly fixed on quotes from the Witch Hammer that Châtiment made me learn by heart.“The deeds of witches are such that they cannot be done without the help of demons.”

    When I reach the residence of the Aletheia family, Narthex comes out with a basket tucked in his arms. His timing is impeccable as usual.

    “Ah, good morning, milord.” He bows to me, his eyes shimmering with pleasure. “How very good of you to pay my master a visit. I bet he would like to share this beautiful sunrise with you in the roof garden.”

    Before I can protest, Narthex is at the staircase and opens the front door for me. He is gone in an instant.

    Nervously, I enter the villa. There are sounds from the kitchen; laughter and cookery pots can be heard. I sneak upstairs, undisturbed even by the robot cleaning units scurrying about.

    I open the door that leads to the roof garden. Agathos is there and so is one of his younger children. It is a girl with blond curls. Her signature in the Force leaves me breathless.

    “Sire!”

    As I carefully address her father, her head turns away from the ocean and towards me. Her eyes interlock with mine. Grey, of course they had to be grey like Agathos’ eyes. Just to test my resolve and the firmness of my faith.

    I find myself exchanging pleasantries and inviting them both for a stroll through the market.

    Agathos leaves us alone to write a note for the rest of his family.

    As I come closer, the girl lifts up her chin in defiance. She takes in slow, measured breaths.

    “So you’re the girl I’ve heard so much about,” I say, halting an arm’s length away. Carefully, I study her face from behind my war mask, before my gloved hands clasp around her shoulders. “But more importantly, what are you made of? The dark side – or the light?”

    Disdainfully, she sniffs at me.

    There is a helpful verse from the Holy Scriptures. I say it aloud to protect myself. “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light, but when thine eye is evil, thy body is also full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in not be darkness.”

    Her eyes are wide open with shock. Or is it guilt? I need to know.

    I kneel before her, catching one of her tears. “What is this for?”

    “You hurt me.” A faint tremor runs throughout her body. “Why you want to hurt?”

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

    When I lean in close, the girl remains silent. Without the slightest hesitation I push straight into her mind. There is no resistance, but surprise.

    Relentlessly, I keep digging deeper and deeper. I do not like what I see. “Your mother raised you from the Dead,” I conclude. “With the help of the dark side. You are a zombie.”

    It shakes its head in defiance. “I am a girl and my name is Grianán.”

    “Grianán? Really? How can your mother name something like you after the Elfin winter sun? That is disgusting.”

    The zombie breaks out in silent tears. The surge of despair that comes from it makes my senses tingle.

    For my protection, I throw more holy verses into the pale, somewhat peeky face. “I will destroy your witchcraft, and you will no longer cast spells. For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

    Something tugs at my soul while I stare into that grey eyes. It is like an explosion of fire in the core of my being.

    The zombie magic proves to be stronger than I thought, for I am forced to give away my handkerchief and treat the creature like a real child.

    Too soon, I am drawn into a conversation that I did not wish for.

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

    When Agathos comes back, we leave the city villa through a side entrance and take the shortest way to the market.

    I cannot think properly with the zombie around. With each heartbeat that I gaze at it, its Force light seems to grow brighter. It scorches me.

    When Angina and my twins cross our path, I almost flee home with them.

    I cannot stand those big grey eyes any longer. They should be red as blood, filled with unholy fire.

    Later that day, the zombie passes my house with its family and spots me in the roof garden. It even dares to wave at me, shy and akwardly like a real child. A little girl, that is desperate to please others and win friends. I turn my back on it.

    The darkness is closing in on me. But I will stay in the light and fight with all that I have.

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

    The same afternoon, I receive an invitation from Parhelion to meet for tea. This sure is a welcome distraction.

    I hurry to the archiepiscopal palace. There, I receive a most unpleasant surprise.

    “Why are you here?” I snap at Kairos Aletheia.

    “The health of your honoured sister means a lot to me, Vicomte,” Agathos’ younger sibling states tersely. “This is why I have an offer for you.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Isabeau Riwalan is an intriguing woman. It would pain me if my plans with one of her protégées would mean a deadly end for her.”

    “What are you implying?”

    The senator’s eyes bulge and an unhealthy colour floods his face.

    “Luçien, release him!” orders Parhelion crisply. “He has a reasonable offer to make to you.”

    With a tight smile behind my war mask, I push Kairos Aletheia away from me. “This is holy ground and I will not befoul it with the death of an imbecile.”

    The senator coughs fiercely and hatred burns in his eyes.

    “I am not afraid of your club and certainly not of you,” I say frostily.

    Parhelion presses a tea cup in my hand. “Be silent now and listen to what Kairos has to say.”


    Sources:

    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful with Lucien, Sionnach, and the twins, and Eibhear. :D Agathos not listening when it comes to his wife is frustrating for LUcien, but Luc also has the tendency to "not hear" what he doesn't want to. :p
     
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  23. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Geez, Luc is starting to act more and more like Anakin! I just hope he listens to said offer and follow advice, for once.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Lucien and listening to others?
     
  25. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Hi there, I am back from my summer holidays. First at the German North Sea coast and then in my beloved Nationalpark Harz Mountains. Today is my last day free, tomorrow I will be back at work. Therefore I will use the time to update a bit and perhaps even read the fanfics of others. It´s too freaking hot in the capital to catch a clear thought right now! I miss the cool sea breeze AND the scent of the forest after a rain shower.


    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: But that is only human, isn´t it?!? Not to listen to good advise of others. Because we can be too stubborn, too lazy or too fearful to change our ways.


    @Nehru_Amidala: This is exactly what I wanted to achieve in this re-write. To get to the roots of hybris and fear of losing beloved ones.

    @earlybird-obi-wan: What I realized once more when praying at the beach during night fall or in the forest at night time, sometimes we are too full with ourselves. This is why we are daft to reason, too blind to see the truth.

    Okay, here we go with the update, once my laptop decides to open up libre office:


    Chapter 12:


    “All that we ask of you is to turn a blind eye to the plans that have already been made,” pleads Parhelion when he has finished his explanations.

    Horror snakes down my backbone. “We are talking about Agathos’ children. Your nieces and nephews.”

    “Just one of them,” Parhelion interrupts me. There was a tinge of caution in his gaze. “To bring back hope into the hearts of my followers.”

    “There are other ways of doing that,” I say under my breath.

    Parhelion’s voice is thick with emotion. All his self-control quickly wanes and he clenches his fists. “We both know what a Tjiehenet is capable off.”

    “Who will be sacrificed?” I inquire, but I do not mention the name of the zombie. I want to bring down this unholy creature myself.

    “Adamah,” Parhelion answers, the veins in his arms no longer popping. “She is next in the line of succession. I want the Draconian crown to suffer a great loss.”

    “You disgust me.” I start walking towards the door. “Both of you.”

    “I can live with that,” Kairos shrugs. “It was His Holiness who insisted that you were informed about the plans. Personally, I do not care what you make of it. If you cannot keep the Marquise away from my niece during the day of the baptism, that is all right with me. Accidents happen.”

    Pre-school will be over soon and I want to be at the gate on time.

    “You are fools, if you really believe that you can succeed with your plan,” I say incredulously, while I hurry towards the door. “It lacks substance, and worse, common sense.”

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

    The next day I frantically roam the city under cover. Being able to change my outer appearance and even my scent is very helpful. I look like a young Amnionian man. Friends and neighbours pass me at the market without recognizing me.

    By chance, I come to the harbour. There I see the royal family sailing away on a large clipper. A tiny figure stands at the railing and watches me with fearful eyes. I decide to wave at the zombie mockingly.

    Not much later I track down Isabeau, who is buying a café. She oblivious to my presence. To my astonishment she visits the senate building and the city hall like a real tourist. She looks happy and relaxed.

    I follow my step-sister for the rest of the day, a silent shadow.

    Since I last saw her she has turned into a deadly beauty. She is almost nineteen now. Her muscular arms, peeking out from underneath her ornamented sari, tell me that she is training very hard to keep in shape. When I stand close to her in the gallery of the city hall, I can see the roughness of her palms. Her hands are those of a devoted swords-woman. The frightened girl that I once found in the desert is truly gone.

    Eager to be reunited with her wards, Isabeau returns to the harbour around noon. Before I can stop it, she bumps into Kairos’ conspirators. Fate takes the strangest twists and turns at times.

    Triptychon Lykurgeia is a minion of Parhelion. He is known for his fanatic speeches against alien races and the purity of faith.

    In the company of the well-known demagogue, I spot Heptan Ismene, Porphyr Haimon, Kalomel Antigone and Acheron Teiresias. My men have the cousins under surveillance for spreading pamphlets with racist content.

    There is no way for me to tear Isabeau away without her knowing about this. The past taught me to not meddle with her mind. To my fear, I realize that her life is indeed in danger. She knows too much of this conspiracy now. When she is on the brink of jumping out of her hiding place, I come into action and appear right behind her.

    Sending my step-sister right into unconsciousness is easy, but once I hold the limp body in my arms, I am not sure what to do with her.

    Silently, I curse at my quick interference. Now the only thing is that I can do to save her is keeping her away from the baptism.

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

    Tonnerre Moazan, my private secretary, sits upright at his desk when I materialize in front of him. A motionless Isabeau lies in my arms.

    “So the rumours are true, milord. You can move through the city like a ghost.”

    I nod politely. “The Force is with me.”

    “Who is our visitor?” Tonnerre continues. “And is she friend or foe? Her scent is unfamiliar to me.”

    “This is my honoured step-sister Marquise Isabeau Riwalan,” I explain. “Unfortunately, she believes me to be her nemesis. There is nothing that I can do about it.”

    Inside his office room Tonnerre does not wear his war mask or a head scarf, so I can see the impact of my words in his young face. Thoughtfulness spreads over his even features. “Do you need to keep her in that healing trance?”

    “For the present, yes.” I search my feelings and decide to say. “She overheard a conversation that was not meant for her ears. Now I need her to get away from the city for a while.”

    “It is High Season still,” considers Tonnerre. “Why not rent a boat, milord? There are many fish in the sea these days.”

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

    Knowing both the unconscious Isabeau and my rental reservations are in good hands, I walk home to take my leave from Sionnach, Angina and the children. On my way, I spontaneously decide to buy a large fruit basket for them. They all love oranges and grapes.

    I find my family gathered in the roof garden. The happy chaos tells me that everybody is having a good time. I hate leaving them behind. I hate what I must do to Isabeau.But time is of the essence and I have to leave for the harbour after a while.

    At least Tonnerre made a good choice for my means of transportation. The Niobe is a beautiful clipper. I am in love with her sharp lines and shiny white sails. She also has an ion motor that will help me to bring my involuntary travel companion away from Polysýndeton quicker. Four-hundred miles per hour is an acceptable speed.

    “Thank you,” I tell my young secretary, who helps me carry the large casket containing the still-unconscious Isabeau.

    Once we are inside the captain’s cabin I take Isabeau out of the casket and place her on the bed. Tonnerre hands me the two metre long rope that I requested. With astonishment, he watches me restrain my step-sister.

    “You know the art of Elfin imprisonment, milord?”

    “Ruadhan Ahearne himself taught me.” My fingers produce a web of knots all over Isabeau’s body. “Over the past seventy years, he was in jail so often that he learned many tricks by just watching his guards.”

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

    When I am finished with my work, I blindfold Isabeau. A short scan of her meridians tells me that her body is in no danger. I will check on her regularly. A thrombosis is the last thing that I wish for.

    Tonnerre still stands beside me, his mouth gaping wide in admiration.

    “Could you do me a favour?” I ask. “Sionnach promised me that she will not visit the city temple for the baptism of young Master Aletheia, but could you...,” I fish for the right words, “Well, could you make sure she indeed does not leave the house and takes the children with her?”

    “Of course, milord. I will personally see to it,” he replies and bows.

    “I would rather have you at the office. Please ask Déodat and Cosme to keep my house under surveillance. That will be sufficient.”

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

    When the Niobe is about six sea miles away from Polysýndeton, I check on Isabeau. With great care I send healing powers through her limbs, fighting the danger of mortification. When I am finished her skin looks much healthier again.

    I step outside the cabin and gaze at the horizon, lost in thought and disbelief not only of what I am doing, but of the danger I will face.

    Kairos is a crude man. Instead of using a more sophisticated form of execution he wants to make it a public spectacle. I am worried that Parhelion goes along with it. Using a fanatic priest with a gun is despicable.

    “This is going to be a bloody mess,” I softly curse into the sinking sun.

    If there is anything that I have learned about Arcānā over the years, it is that the motherly love for her serpent-spawn is real. As a parent I respect that. No doubt that it is part of Kairos plan; disgracing his sister-in-law as an evil witch and psychopathic murderess. I hope he understands there will be many deaths. He could be one of them.

    At nightfall, I check Isabeau’s vitals, repairing all the blood vessels and cells that suffer from her confinement. Then I sink down on the opposite mattress.

    This is the first night in three years that I have not kissed my children good-night, and it does not feel right.

    Restlessly, I toss and turn on the narrow bunk. Then I clasp my hands behind my back and start humming a lullaby. But after a while and with no child around me I feel silly.

    Out of habit I gaze over to Isabeau. I cannot stand to see her in restraints; it seems so wrong. I free her by efficiently using the Force on the rope. There is no chance of her waking up before I want her to.

    First, I carry my mattress on-deck, then Isabeau. When we were much, much younger we liked to be out in the open desert and gaze into the star-lit sky. The ocean around me is very much like the dune sea.

    I lay behind Isabeau and put a blanket over us. It has a soothing effect on my nerves. More memories of old times come back to me.

    “I wish you and I could make peace,” I whisper into her hair, moving my hands through the familiar softness. “But after today things can only get worse. I am under no illusion about that. You will never believe a word that I say ever again.”

    Around us the world ocean of Amnion murmurs its ancient song. Waves splash against the ship.

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

    When the morning comes, I wake from my short slumber with burning eyes. My intuition tells me that we are somewhere half-way between Polysýndeton and its neighbour city state Chelonia. I hurry to the cabin to check the naval instruments, which prove me right.

    With much regret I destroy Isabeau’s hope of a quick return to the Tjiehenet family. The stench of molten steel and burning wires fills the cabin.

    When I return to my step-sister’s limp body, I tie her against the mast. Once I am finished I relieve her from the healing trance. It will take some time for her to wake up so I bring my mattress back inside.

    I feel the tenseness and anger in my step-sister, when I stand in front of the mast again. “Isabeau,” I address her friendly, but I cannot stand to face her. I remain right behind her, only a few inches away. “I know you are awake. Your breathing betrays you.”

    The conversation that follows is harsher than I imagined it would be. It wounds me deeply.

    [​IMG]

    Not able to stand her scorching hatred any longer, I vanish into thin air. The very moment that I do so, I feel a tremble in the fibres of the Force.

    My concentration wavers, blurring the coordinates of my destination.

    Suddenly, darkness is all around me, choking me. For a brief heartbeat I think that the crypts of Cunabula have swallowed me, but then realise that I am floating in water. Its coldness drills like a thousand needles into my skin. I was supposed to re-appear in the streets of Polysýndeton and not in the depths of the world ocean.

    When I try to teleport again nothing happens. My body remains where it is and the pressure builds. Panic sneaks into my heart. My wet prison closes in on me.

    Finally, I send out a desperate call to the one person that comes into my mind.

    “Parhelion. Brother. Help me. I am drowning.”

    Nothing happens.

    Of course he does not care for me. I am nothing to him. He might even feel less for me than my own mother Flor.

    “Please, brother!”

    A large pot whale passes by, rather irritated at my presence. He swims away as quickly as possible.

    My strength wanes.

    Breathing becomes a problem.

    I close my eyes.

    “Please, help me! Parhelion! Please!”

    Something wraps around my waist.

    Next, a blinding flash of light fills my view.

    “You ignorant fool!” exclaims my half-brother.

    I cough salty ocean water on his already soaked robe.

    “What were you thinking?” Parhelion rants on.

    Right now, I think nothing. I am just grateful to be alive.

    In a daze, I see Parhelion struggle out of his own wet robes. “You could have drowned,” he snaps.

    I want to say something, but then I remember why I was so distressed in the first place.

    “There is something amiss in the city,” I say, half-choked still.

    Parhelion, busy with drying himself with a towel, looks sorrowful. “Adamah. She freaked out when one of her brothers was gunned down.”

    To my annoyance, my Force skill of apparition is still gone. My body simply refuses to cooperate. I storm out of the city temple, ignoring Parhelion who calls something after me.

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

    There is a lot of screaming and chaos, but that is not my concern. At this point, nobody can help Princess Adamah. She is a brainless pawn for the dark side, a zombie like her younger sister Grianán.

    I know better than to sacrifice myself on some damn fool idealistic crusade. My family is all that matters.

    Bereft of my transportation skills I run straight into the freak Force storm, praying inside my head as I never prayed before.

    “Forgive me my sins, O Lady, forgive me my sins;
    the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul,
    the sins of my body; my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins;
    the sins I know, the sins I do not know; the sins I have concealed
    for so long, and which are now hidden from my memory.


    I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial,
    for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour...”


    More smoke and destruction surround me the closer I come to the place that used to be my neighbourhood. The dark side has eaten its way through buildings and biological tissue. There will be no bodies above ground to retrieve. And yet, I detect weak life signs all around me. There are survivors trapped under the skeletons of their former houses, badly injured.

    I am just two side streets away from home when I feel it with absolute clarity. It almost sweeps me off my feet. “No,” I gasp. “No!”

    More debris rains down on me.

    They are gone. Tāchys and Phrēn are gone, burned out of existence.

    Tears smart my cheeks. Like a blind man I stumble through the city that is still on fire in some areas. There is an immense ash cloud that hangs above everything.

    Then I collide with the zombie.

    Timeless words echo through my aching head, consuming me. The voice that speaks them has the sweetness of an angel.

    “I bind you here for the harm you have done
    so you see yourself alone as one.
    I bind you here to learn your woes
    and to turn from them as the Sabbats go.
    I bind you for the harm to come
    and to see the truth of what you have done.
    I bind with love, I bind with care.
    That you yourself see what your actions will bear.”


    Tendrils of frightening power attack what is left of my soul.

    Grey mist swirls at the edges of my vision.

    Only my anger can save me. I wrap myself inside it. “What have you done, you miserable beast? How dare you! What evil magic is that?”

    “This spell will harm none by earth, wind, sky and sea. So mote it be!”

    I should end its miserable existence right here and right now.

    Unfortunately, this has to wait. I still feel Sionnach and Éibhear out there. They need me.

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

    Every step that I take through the wasteland is difficult. I need to climb over corpses and gag on the stench of burned human flesh.

    Suddenly, there is a familiar face. It is smeared with blood and dirt.

    I kneel down in the dust and kiss Éibhear’s forehead. His life signs are weak, but steady. He will survive.

    Parhelion sits on the floor next to us, Sionnach’s crumpled form in his lap. He looks as if he has aged ten years since I saw him last. Deep shadows are under his eyes. There are new lines across his forehead and at his temples.

    “Let us go to the palace,” he suggests.

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

    Side by side, my half-brother and I make our way through the city. We pass other people who carry the broken bodies of beloved ones. I dare not look at anybody directly.

    This is all my fault. All the suffering, all the death around us. I focused on the wrong Tjiehenet. How can I ever undo what happened today?

    The archiepiscopal palace comes into my view. It looks like a mirage. While large parts of Polysýndeton are reduced to rubble, its white walls are unblemished. The golden gates are still standing high and erect.

    When the guard of honour lets us in, an entire group of concerned clerics swarms around us, trying to help.

    I am led into a guest room.

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

    Parhelion takes Sionnach out of my arms. “The boy needs you more than she does.”

    Mechanically, I sit down next to Éibhear’s sickbed and hold his hand. His heartbeat echoes into my palm. His eyes are closed but he is fully awake and in pain. I try to focus on this pain and do my best to take it away from him. But I achieve nothing. My healing powers seem to be as numb as my heart.

    With a moan, I clutch the boy to me. Desperation crawls up my spine, seizes me by the chest. I press my mouth to his auburn hair and his temple, kissing him over and over again. “Please, stay with me, Amanthar!” I beg in tears.

    After a moment, Éibhear lets out a breathy sigh. I feel him relax into my hold. His voice is a mere whisper. “Papa!”

    As more tears leak from my eyes, a white light breaks out of my fingertips.

    I pray to the She-Moon and the Force for guidance while my healing gift unfolds, spreading through the boy’s gaunt Elfin body.

    I only get up from Éibhear’s sickbed when a minion of Parhelion tells me that Mistress Aletheia would like to see me in her city villa immediately. “Did she say why?” I ask.

    The cleric looks helpless, overtaxed almost. “No, but she seemed in great distress.”

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

    Worried about Agathos, I call the senator widow back on the visiphone. “Mistress Aletheia, I beg your pardon that I was out of reach when you called earlier today. My family...”, I break off.

    “Oh, Vicomte,” she sobs, her usual confidence and steely air gone. “I feel so guilty that I turn to you in such a desperate hour, but I have no one else to ask. Kairos unleashed his blood hounds and they are after my grandchildren now.”

    “What about Agathos?”

    “The last time that I saw him, Narthex was about to carry him to the hospital.” She fights against her tears. “He had a heart attack on the temple stairs.”

    “I will visit him at once,” I promise, but then my thoughts drift away from the conversation. Somebody dares to spy on us.

    “Vicomte, I hate to ask this of you, but Grianán is here with me.”

    That cursed zombie again!

    “She barely survived a raid lead by Hyperion Tuptō and his men,” Mistress Aletheia goes on, unaware of my deep contempt. “Please bring her into safety! I cannot trust any of my servants with her life. They are all on Kairos’ side now.”

    My eyes narrow. “Why is your grandchild at the villa?”

    “She was clever enough to activate Cunabula’s special crisis unit.”

    “But the royal family needs a safe place to stay until the soldiers arrive,” I muse.

    “Your Embassy perhaps?” the old woman suggests carefully. “Kairos is too afraid to seek a direct confrontation with you.”

    A meek smile spreads on my lips. “Of course, Mistress Aletheia. Lock yourself in his office until I arrive. I won’t be long!”

    If I cannot participate in Agathos’ healing process, I can be there for his favourite daughter. Even though that child is a soulless zombie. For today here has been enough misery in the ranks of the royal family.


    Sources:
    A passage from “The Malleus Maleficarum” by Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger (1487)
    Micah 5:12
    The slightly altered Act of Contriction, a Catholic Prayer
    A Wiccan binding spell
    “So mote it be!” is a ritual phrase used by the Freemansons, in Rosicrucianism, and more recently by Neopagans
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
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