Title: Rat, Cat, and Wolf: A Legend of Lothal Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: Drama, Legend Era: Saga OT, Beyond Characters: unnamed ECs Summary: A young orphan boy shows kindness to three Loth-creatures in need. Notes: I received @Seldes Katne ’s Holiday Fic Gift request. One of her wishes was: A legend, myth, tall tale, trickster story, etc. from any culture in the GFFA (non-human cultures preferred but I will happily read anything in this genre). This story can depict something from that culture’s past, or can be set in any of the SW trilogies and told by a character from the far future as though the events had become legend. I chose to turn the story of a character from the OT era into a hero’s tale told in the far future. (It’s probably apparent whose story is being retold as legend here, but it will be revealed in the notes, just in case ) @Seldes_Katne , I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing your request. My best wishes for a happy new year Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and encouragement. ---------- Once, there was a poor orphan boy who lived alone in a ruined tower on the edge of a great city on the plains of Lothal. He eked out a poor existence as a scavenger, retrieving bits of metal and broken devices from rubbish piles and refuse bins, fixing what he could and selling the rest to junk dealers. When times were poor and pickings were slim, the boy was often reduced to scrounging food from the refuse bins just to stay alive. But despite his rough surroundings and hard life, the boy had a kind heart and a concern for his fellow beings that not even the harshest circumstances could dim. Now, at that time Lothal was ruled by a cruel governor, a tyrant who ruled through fear and punished the Lothali citizens for the smallest infractions. Many were imprisoned, and many more lost their shops, farms and homes to the governor’s cruel whims. As hard as life was for them, it was even harder for the poor orphan boy, alone in his ruined tower. As the ordinary folk grew poorer and poorer, it became nearly impossible for him to find enough scraps to earn a few meager credits from the junk dealers, and more and more he was forced to live off of whatever scraps of food he could find in the rubbish. One night, as the boy was sifting through the garbage in hopes of finding enough to make a meal, he heard a piteous squeaking. It was a Loth-rat caught in a trap, a wire noose around its neck. “Help me, please!” it begged the boy. “If I move, the wire will tighten, but if I don’t the rat-catcher will kill me when he comes in the morning! Please set me free!” At first the boy recoiled from the hapless rodent; Loth-rats are vermin, unloved and unlovely. But its plight touched something inside him, because weren’t he and the rat the same in some ways? They both depended on others’ leavings for their meager existence and were ignored or despised by the world around them. And so the boy, whose fingers were deft from years of sorting rubbish, slipped the noose from the rat’s neck. “Oh, thank you, kind boy!” the rat squeaked, nuzzling his fingers in joy. “I owe my life to you, and whenever you are in need, I will answer your call!” The boy smiled at the thought—what could a Loth-rat possibly do for him?—and he soon forgot the rat’s promise in his day-to-day struggle to survive. His fortunes waxed and waned like Lothal’s moons, sometimes thin as slivers, sometimes silvery and full of promise, and one day the boy’s scavenging turned up enough scraps for him to earn a handful of credits, enough to buy himself a fine meat pie from one the vendors in the marketplace. The boy thought himself richer than any king with this treasure, for it had been many weeks and months since he’d eaten anything besides what he’d found in refuse bins. The smell of it was enough to make him weak in the knees, but just as he was about to take the first bite, he heard a plaintive meow. A thin-ribbed Loth-cat was watching him from behind a stack of crates. “Oh please, could you spare a bite?” she mewed. “I have three hungry kittens waiting in my den, and if I don’t find food soon, we will surely starve!" At first the boy was unmoved by the Loth-cat’s plea. He was hungry, too, and he’d worked hard to get such a meal for himself. But the thought of the Loth-kittens waiting for their mother’s return touched something inside him, because he knew what it was to be hungry, helpless and alone. And so the boy, whose heart hadn’t been hardened by years of hardship and privation, gave the Loth-cat not just a bite, but the entire meat pastry. “Oh, thank you, gracious sir!” the Loth-cat meowed, rubbing her head against his legs in thanks. “My kittens and I owe you our lives, and if you ever need help, you have only to call!” The boy smiled at the thought—what could a Loth-cat possibly do for him?—and he soon forgot the cat’s promise in his day-to-day struggle to survive. One night as the boy lay in his ruined tower, trying to sleep on the poor bed he’d built from broken crates and cast-off rags, he heard a mournful howl that split the night. When he looked out from his tower, he saw by the light of Lothal’s moons a Loth-wolf. The wolf was enormous, larger than the largest bantha, as tall as the standing stones that marked the plains, and it was keening a song of loss and pain to the moons above. At first the boy trembled at the sight of the fearsome beast, but as he listened to its song, it touched something inside of him, for the wolf’s song matched the one in his heart. Its anguish, and pain were his own, lost and lonely, living in the ruins and rubbish—and that of Lothal itself, oppressed by the cruel governor who kept its people living in fear and servitude. And the boy whose spirit was great for one so young and small, answered the Loth-wolf’s call. He found that the wolf had been grievously wounded, slashed across its eyes and muzzle by some terrible blade. He approached the creature slowly and said to it, “If you let me, I will help you.” The Loth-Wolf bowed its shaggy head in assent, and for the next several days the boy cared for the wolf, cleaning and tending its wounds so they wouldn’t become infected and cost the beast its sight or its life. He hunted small game, pocket-hares and plainsfowl for the wolf, even as he continued to live on whatever scraps he could find. At night, he listened as the Loth-wolf sang to the moons the story of Lothal as it had been before the governor’s rule, when its people had been prosperous and free, when a child would never have been left alone to fend for himself and live like a Loth-rat on scraps. One morning, when the Loth-wolf rose, it turned to the boy and said, “I must go now, but I thank you for all you have done, noble Human. I owe you my life, and if you ever have need, my pack and I will answer your call.” It pressed its muzzle against the boy’s forehead and loped off, vanishing into the endless expanse of the plains. The boy smiled at the wolf’s promise—why should such a magnificent creature ever aid a poor wretch like him?—and went about his day-to-day struggle to survive. But he found that having listened to the wolf’s song of Lothal and all that it was and could be, he was no longer content just to survive. He saw that the Governor kept too many of his fellow Lothali snared like Loth-rats, starving like ill-fed Loth-cats. Instead of prowling through the dark alleyways where he usually looked for bits and scraps, the boy made his way to the center of the marketplace and called out to his fellow Lothali, reminding them of what their world had been and entreating them to stand together against the Governor and her unjust rule. Some in the marketplace lowered their heads and walked past him, pretending not to hear. But many more stopped. Some of them jeered at the boy, calling him names and mocking him. Some listened quietly, both hopeful and fearful at his words. But a few stood and cheered his boldness. It wasn’t long, though, before the Governor’s soldiers arrived and roughly dispersed the crowd that had gathered. They ordered the boy to stop speaking; when he would not, they advanced on him with their weapons drawn. The boy ran, and though he was clever as a Loth-rat, nimble as a Loth-cat, and brave as a Loth-wolf, the soldiers apprehended him in the end. They took him to the cruel Governor’s stronghold where they locked him in prison to await her punishment. The boy looked around his tiny cell, but for all his cleverness, he was dismayed at his prospects of escape. The door was locked and guarded, and the cell contained just a slab-like bunk. He sighed. If only there was someone who could help him find a way out…. And then he heard a small rustling noise and a squeak. He looked up to see a Loth-rat hiding in the vent above him. It was the same rat whose life he had saved, the rat who had promised it would aid the boy if was ever in need. “Come with me!” the rat called. “I can lead you out of this prison; there is no place a rat can’t go!” So the boy climbed on the bunk, pulled the cover off the vent and clambered inside. The duct was narrow and dark, but the boy followed the rat through the twists and turns until at last the boy saw daylight filtering through a grate. The rat gave a little squeak of farewell and nuzzled the boy’s fingers before scampering off into the darkness. The grate opened onto the tarmac where the Governor’s ship was docked. It was guarded by a pair of troopers, and while the rat could have slipped past them unnoticed, the boy could not. He sighed as he climbed carefully out of the grate and crouched in the shadows, thinking. If only he had some way to distract the troopers…. And then he heard a soft padding and a purr. He looked and saw a Loth-cat blinking at him in the shadows. It was the same cat who he’d kept from starving, and her kittens, now nearly grown, were with her. “We will take care of these brutes,” she told him. “Creating mischief is what a Loth-cat does best!” The cat and her kittens gamboled out onto the tarmac and frolicked around the troopers’ feet, weaving in and out among their legs and pouncing on their toes, creating such a nuisance that the troopers didn’t just shoo them away but chased them off the tarmac. When they were gone, the boy dashed across the tarmac and fled across the plains towards the sanctuary of his ruined tower. He was nearly there when he heard the sound of marching feet trampling through the long grass. He turned to see an entire squad of troopers pursuing him, the Governor herself in the lead. She sneered at him, her cruel eyes glinting and said, “You are braver than most, boy, but it will take more than rats and cats to defeat me and my army.” But the boy only smiled back, remembering the third promise that had been made to him. And then there was a sound like the low rumble of thunder as the Loth-wolf whose life the boy had saved appeared as if from nowhere. Nor was he alone; his entire pack was with him and the Governor’s men quailed at the sight of their majesty. The wolves scattered the troopers like leaves in a whirlwind, tossing them aside like ragdolls. The Governor fled, abandoning her men in terror. Some say that the wolves pursued her to her death; others that she lived out the rest of her short life on the plains alone in fear and shame, but whichever it was, she was never seen again. When the Lothali saw what the boy had done with the Loth-creatures’ aid, they were amazed. They remembered what he had said in the marketplace about standing together and reclaiming their world from those who would despoil it. They stood as one to drive the Governor’s men from the capital, and though others tried to retake Lothal, the citizens stood firm against them. And the boy, who had once been alone, forgotten and despised, was now hailed as Lothal’s greatest hero. There are many other stories of his deeds, but this is how it all began—with acts of kindness and a noble heart, and a rat, a cat and a wolf. ++++ Notes: the unnamed orphan boy is, of course, Ezra Bridger, and his nemesis, the cruel Governor, is Governor Ahrinda Pryce.