Author: Findswoman Title: Saadya’s Pages Timeframe: Multi-timeframe: Saga—OT (Rebels, 4 BBY) and Before the Saga (3989 BBY and slightly after, about a generation before the KOTOR era) Genre: Short multichapter (four chapters); character study; introspection; drama Characters (frame): Ezra Bridger, passing mentions (and later very brief appearances) of other Ghost crewmembers Characters (main): OC Saadya Bridger, borrowed OC Levi Bridger (from @Raissa Baiard); various OCs Summary: A Lothali book-artist from the time before the Jedi Civil War quite literally puts himself into his creations. Meanwhile, Ezra comes across a curious artifact in an antiquarian bookshop... Contents: 1 (below) | 2 | 3 | 4 Notes: I had originally planned this as an entry in the Introduce a New OC noncompetitive minichallenge in the OC Revolution Thread, but it grew beyond the 500–1500 word limit of that challenge and became its own thing. Once again, I thank Raissa Baiard for beta reading and feedback, and for lending me the adorable Levi Bridger. One Garel, 4 BBY Seated on a rickety wicker bench in an antiquarian bookstore on Garel City’s lower north side, Ezra Bridger twiddled his thumbs. During the hour and a half or so that Hera, Kanan, and Chopper had been holed up in the back office with the shopkeeper—their newest “contact” or some such—he, Ezra, had successfully and singlehandedly acquired everything on the day’s supply list, plus some: the power converters, the flux-torque couplings, even an extra two-kilo carton of science dip (on sale at Grug’s, no less). He was sure they’d be all done with their negotiations or intel or recon or whatever it was by the time he got back. But they weren’t, of course. Typical adults. The Lothali teen glanced around—not that there was much to see in this cramped hole-in-the-wall besides the bookcases upon bookcases upon bookcases, all stuffed to bursting with the board-and-flimsi publications of earlier years, decades, millennia. That was when he heard it... * * * Lothal, 3989 BBY Once, many millennia ago, in the outskirts of the Capital City of Lothal, there lived a craftsman who made books. Yes, in a Galaxy of datapads, commlinks, and vidscreens, he crafted books—beautiful, handmade, exquisitely crafted books of flimsiplast, paper, cloth, parchment, and leather, to be used as journals, sketchbooks, recipe collections, albums, ship’s logs, account books, or any purpose one could name. His creations were renowned all over Lothal for their craftsmanship and beauty, and he exhibited them at galleries and art fairs throughout the planet’s eponymous sector. Saadya Bridger was his name. He was a sallow, timid, serious-faced man with eyeglasses and a head of raven-black curls. He rarely went out. From before dawn till after dusk he could be found in his workshop, at his drafting table, carefully and lovingly stitching gatherings together, or ruling lines on deckled, flecked, or woven pages, or embossing the covers with his homeworld’s elaborate traditional designs. For hours he would busy himself with these minute, painstaking details, not stopping till all was complete, till all was perfect. Then, and only then, he would sign his name in Atiq-Lothali on the bottom of the back inside cover in dark brown-orange, hand-mixed vegetable ink: Saadya ebn Todros Gesheri. And then, worn from his labors, he would collapse forward onto his drafting table, remaining there motionless and close-eyed for several minutes before remembering he had to get home to his wife and children. * * * Garel, 4 BBY Well, maybe “heard” wasn’t quite the right word. It was more that he thought it, felt it, understood it. It was just a greeting to start with, a simple *Well, hello.* Ezra’s first thought, naturally, was that it was a tooka or pittin or something; either that or a vrelt (they loved to chew on flimsi, after all). But he could see no such creature around. Perhaps it was hiding somewhere? There were so many places to hide in these old lower-north-side shops... He got up and began to walk through the shop. And again there it was—closer this time—saying something that amounted to *You seem familiar. Like me, sort of.* Okay, definitely not a tooka or pittin, Ezra thought to himself as he walked on. *And what do you mean, like you?* He felt a smile—though not his own—blossom inside his consciousness as whoever it was spoke again. *Well, like family, one might say…* Like family—Ezra stopped short at that word. *Like family, how?* Another unseen smile. *It’ll be clearer once you come closer.* * * * Lothal, 3989 BBY Saadya Bridger’s workshop was situated on a picturesque street in Capital City’s commercial-arts district, just down a few streets from the house he shared with his wife Ruhamma and three children. He was always extremely tired after his workdays. After finishing for the day he would come home, dine with his family, and play a bit with his younger children. Then he would retire in exhaustion to bed, sleeping the sleep of the dead till the sun rose, when he would head once again to his shop. His family never could understand why he was so exhausted at the end of each day, and neither could he. All he was doing was crafting and binding books, he told himself again and again—not lifting heavy crates or repairing speeders. Sure, it was precision work that required concentration, just like all fine craftsmanship—but certainly not so much that a day’s work left him so completely drained of energy. He asked the other book artists he knew—and he knew several throughout the sector—if they had experienced similar exhaustion; none had. He had his healers and medics examine him; they said all was normal. He took to drinking caf, black, tarry, and concentrated; it did nothing. Each evening he trudged home from his shop more weary than the next. Little Levi, his youngest, always seemed particularly worried about him. When Saadya came home, Levi was the first to run up and hug him. When his father retired for the night, Levi would kiss him goodnight, staying by his bedside till Ruhamma came and shepherded him into the room he shared with his older brother, Yuval. In the morning Levi too was up at dawn, bringing his daddy a glass of water and asking how he had slept. The little fellow’s ministrations always brought the shadow of a smile to Saadya’s serious face. Dear thing, always trying to take care of me—not that he can do anything, of course... One night, the night before the opening of the All-Sector Arts Festival in the city center, Saadya had turned in earlier than usual. He would be exhibiting his wares and wanted to make sure to conserve his energy. As usual, Levi had kissed his daddy goodnight, and Ruhamma had coaxed him out. As Saadya drifted off, he thought he heard his little boy’s voice from the next room. “Mommy, is there less of Daddy tonight?” “What do you mean, sweetheart?” “I mean… like… not as much of him. Like there’s a bit missing or something.” “Oh, I think he’s just really tired. He works hard and it tires him out.” “Yeah, but you get tired out after taking care of Yuval and Aleeza and me each day, and there’s always the same amount of you.” Ruhamma laughed a little and said something Saadya couldn’t catch, because his mind had already been overtaken by dreams of signatures, gatherings, and marbled flyleaves. * * * Garel, 4 BBY Okay, enough of this already, thought Ezra as he made his way through the crammed, musty shop, glancing up, down, and all around, occasionally tripping over fallen books or rumpled rugs, and colliding with unexpected dead ends in the labyrinth of shelves. This was getting to be too much like a child’s game of “hot and cold.” Sometimes the voice in his head would grow louder and closer, sometimes softer and more distant, and all the while it kept going on about how many years it has been and I think I know you somehow and you might be the one I’ve been looking for. Honestly, whoever this was was as annoying as Kanan with all this cryptic talk. What even was the use of following a voice in one’s head around a used book store, anyway? Things Jedi do that would be weird if other beings did them... And it was all because of one word the voice had used: the most wonderful and beautiful word of all. Family—whatever that might mean. to be continued Spoiler: Notes science dip: A nod to the shopping list Hera gives Ezra and Zeb in “Fighter Flight” (space waffles, d'il pyyckkles, riding cam, large bag, science dip, meiloorun melon). For what it’s worth, it has its own not-very-informative Wook entry. Grug’s: Grug’ag’pyg’naq’s Super Value Hardware first appears in my short story Insert Tab A into Slot B: A Story about Kanan’s Lightsaber. Atiq-Lothali: The ancient language of Lothal is my own creation; atik or atiq is Hebrew for “ancient.” Saadya ebn Todros Gesheri: Todros is the name of Saadya’s father (“ebn” is a portmanteau of the similar Earth words “ben” and “ibn,” from Hebrew and Arabic respectively). As for Gesheri, well, gesher is Hebrew for “bridge.” Saadya, Ruhamma, Yuval, and Aleeza are my OCs; Levi is Raissa Baiard’s. And yes, there is a good reason why exactly one member of this family is the creation of a different author, though it’s not time for that to be revealed yet.