Samhain Symphony Written by: Nehru_Amidala Genre: Romance and supernatural Characters: Thrawn and Minerva (see “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” for background). Mentions of other OC’s Timeframe: Early March, three months after “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”/Pre Battle of Hoth by a week. Rating: PG-13 for sexual innuendo between Thrawn and Minerva (it’s their honeymoon, after all. ), murder most foul, dark magic and possible gore. Summary: While honeymooning on Alsakan, newlyweds Thrawn and Minerva participate in a harvest ceremony, complete with ghost stories. Minerva’s memories from school give rise to a tale about a talented sorceress and her crazed wizard of a master. Story soundtrack: Canon in D- Pachelbel, Mandolin Concerto in C Major- Vivaldi, Pas de Deux/Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker/Dance of the Swans- Tchaikovsky, Fanfare for the Common Man- Copeland, Dance Macabre- Saint Saens, Overture/Ice Dance- Danny Elfman Author’s note: Originally, this was for a task assigned to me by Mikaboshi over in the EUC forum. I expanded on it to be a story within a story (best non-SW example is Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story.) Enjoy! Alsakan was not the first place one would think that would be on the top register of romantic destinations for honeymooners. Chandrila, the Corellian system, and before its partial bombardment, Scarif had been a top tourist destination because of its pristine beaches. No, it’s local history pertaining to galactic art, architecture and the basic design of Arubesh that drew a certain type of couple. At least, this time it did. The couple in question was of course Grand Admiral Thrawn, and his beloved map maker, Minerva Hektor. They had just married about a week ago back on Coruscant, surrounded by family (Minerva’s adopted parents, her older brother and Thrawn’s father figure and mentor, Captain Pelleaon) along with a few other high ranking officials and acquaintances. The wedding had been officiated by Palpatine and had been held what had been the meeting chamber of the Jedi council, way back when. The wedding had been nothing short of spectacular. It had been a military wedding by design, with Minerva being escorted under the raised military bayonets of the Seventh Squadron by her adoptive father, Caligula Demosthenes. The gown was a pale mother of pearl color, with a simple square collar and princess sleeves made from silk. The veil was just see through, and when Thrawn looked up at her, she took his breath away. He smiled at her, and her heart melted. Before placing her daughter’s hands in Thrawn’s, Caligula whispered to his daughter, “Allons-y, my dear daughter.” She smiled, and joined Thrawn at the altar. Palpatine read a rehearsed script relating to the sanctity of holy matrimony and when the rings and vows had been exchanged, Thrawn immediately pulled Minerva close and kissed her passionately. Pelleaon cheered loudly and clapped after wiping tears of joy away, his boy had done well. Cornelia and Caligula were also thrilled, they had a son-in-law, and a fine one at that. When they walked under the bayonets as the newly married Grand Admiral and Lady Thrawn, Minerva’s heart fluttered wildly, and she lay her head on her husband’s shoulder. He gave her a soft smile and squeezed her hand reassuringly. When they arrived at the reception, their first dance together as husband and wife, was not surprisingly, a pas de deux. Pulling her scandalously close, Thrawn led her in a sultry waltz. Minerva and Thrawn gazed into each other’s eyes nearly the entire evening, and they were holding hands when toasts were given to congratulate the couple. Trav drove the couple towards where they would be spending the night before heading out on their honeymoon to Alsakan. They would be touring all the sites that offered art history, or at least in that vein. Afterwards, it was back to the SD Chimaera for an 18 month tour mapping the Unknown Regions. Once Trav dropped them off at the apartment, he left back for his barrack, just having gotten promoted from Stormtrooper squad leader to deck officer. Hey, having a Grand Admiral as your brother-in-law did have his perks. From the balcony which was covered in flowering vines, Minerva was in awe of the view on Imperial Center at night. With all of the buildings below lit up, from her perspective it seemed as if the ground was reflecting the sky. An updraft whistled against the balcony, knocking loose a stray bloom, which landed in her dark hair. She was so lost in her thoughts she did not hear her husband, dressed only in silk boxers and a dressing gown approaching her. In the full moonlight, Minerva was a goddess, her dark tresses curling down towards the middle of her back, her soft, slender form clad in a low cut, lacy negligée. Padding over the wool carpeting onto the marble balcony, he threaded his arms around his wife’s midsection and moved his hands to her chest while he began to pepper her neck with, hot sharp kisses. “Mmm, Thrawn!” “Minerva, I love you far too much.” The way he said her name, and his kisses made her weak in the knees, it was too much. Chuckling, Thrawn scooped her up into his arms and lay her down onto the bed, when he climbed on top of her and continued kissing her. Their first coupling was slow and sweet. When Minerva cried out her husband’s full name, he responded by biting down on her neck at its juncture. Souls on fire, they bound themselves together for eternity until morning. As per usual honeymoon standards, Thrawn and Minerva could not keep their hands off each other (at least when they were alone). During the day, they were greeted by art curators and well regarded historians eager to court the high ranking Imperial couple who showed an interest and knowledge of art. Of course, Thrawn intended to use the art in some way to further his agenda to undermine anyone affiliated with the Rebellion. His wife, while not as much as an expert as her husband, was drawn to the designs and use of color and was deciding on how to apply this to her map making skills. In between making love and visiting museums, Thrawn and Minerva visited with local Imperial C.O’s to discuss local defenses, annihilation of local Rebel cells and the like. Because a Chiss had married a human, some of the older generals were against the marriage and could not conceive how they could have a happy marriage. It was an abomination, they argued, for such a lovely young woman of Minerva’s social standing could degrade herself by marrying a Chiss, even if he was a brilliant tactician. Minerva had argued that it had been her choice, she would not choose another. She was now Lady Thrawn, wife and future mother of his children. To drive this point home, she pulled her husband close and French kissed him, in front of the often astonished host. They eventually got over it (mostly) and three days into the honeymoon, an overzealous lord of the fiefdom of New Antioch was showing Minerva and Thrawn the latest in farming technology. They found it rather boring, however today marked the annual winter harvest celebration known as Samhain, and tradition was dictated a feast with storytelling around a bonfire afterward. Minerva’s eye lit up when she heard that. “I know a ghost story,” she had informed her gracious host as they ate a lukewarm nerf stew for lunch. Thrawn raised his eyebrows at her in surprise, he didn’t know she knew and ghost stories per se. Lacing her fingers with his under the table. She explained quietly to Thrawn later about the ghost that had haunted her in the school gardens when she had been much younger. A story had come to mind, and that was going to be her contribution. It was art, in a way. Thrawn smiled, she was sure to be a hit. After the sun had set, there were at least a dozen or so couples gathered around a bonfire, mugs of hot caf at their feet. Minerva was lying her head on Thrawn’s shoulder, his arm draped protectively around her. Eventually, someone in the group made the unspoken question, “Whose turn is it anyway? Hey, you haven’t had a turn yet.” Minerva opened her eyes, and Thrawn nodded to her. Clearing her throat, Minerva began to spin her tale, her grey-blue eyes staring ahead into the very heart of the fire: Once upon a time, and very long ago, before space travel and before the invention of droids, when people knew of the Force, they saw it as gifts from the gods. As people can be fickle about their natural talents, some used their talents for good and others for nefarious deeds. Now, it can be argued that good and evil are two sides of the same coin and how you define either depends solely on your point of view. However, this tale concerns the fate of a talented sorceress and her master, a crazed wizard who lived in the high crags overlooking the fertile valley his apprentice once called home. The sorceress was called Hekate, and she was born to a prosperous farmer and his sturdy wife. When she was born, it was during a full moon. While this is still a common enough occurrence, when she came into the world, all of the plants in the room burst into bloom as if to announce the joyous occasion. Also, her hair was strange color, a neon shade of blonde- it glowed intensely. She had been obviously touched by the Magic- and thus she was named Hekate which means “Blessed by Magic” in the old tongue. As she grew older, it was obvious that the Magic had touched her, but in a rather bizarre way. She could use her powers to manipulate plants and animals to do her bidding, which caused her father much consternation to see the fields being plowed by nerfs without human control, and the plants sprouting much sooner than usual. Also, she used plants to heal any wound or injury she received, and there was a dark streak to her. She enjoyed tormenting people who teased her about her hair, or called her a witch- which she detested. One day, she used her Magic to poison a schoolmate who had ducked her in the fish pond of the local lord – who happened to be a family friend. The girl survived, but demanded retribution. The entire village was about to oust Hekate’s family in revenge, but Hekate pleaded with them to spare her parents and siblings. Her family begged her not to leave, they could always resettle elsewhere. However, Hekate was firm about her exile. Besides, she told them, she had heard the call of the Master and she was compelled to be his pupil. She left her village heartbroken by the betrayal of her village (save her family) and set off towards the High Mountains, where the Master was said to call home. It was not a simple climb to the top, for the path meandered around wildly through patches of weeds and rocky overlays that were precipitous at best. The Master had created this pathway to deter everyone except those that heard his call. She kept at it for three days and two nights, and by the time the sun rose on the third day, she was at a dip in a hill when a tall, gaunt man with bushy grey hair and a wild, unshaven beard appeared above her at the top of the rise. It was the Master. “Greetings to ye, young Hekate. What brings ye to yonder cliff this fine morning?” “I come to you in exile from the Valley of Eftal, upon hearing thy yonder call, Master.” The answer pleased him greatly, because it had been many a year since his last apprentice, and he could tell that the Magic was truly strong with Hekate. Therefore, he bade her come forward and accept his offer of apprenticeship. She smiled to herself, surely she would learn how to become stronger and get revenge on those who had wronged her. The years passed, and as they did the Master found he had found a worthy apprentice. Her anger and rage at the rejection at her banishment fueled her drive to succeed and very soon after she became skilled at using plants to create poisons and unholy terrors to unleash on the unsuspecting valley below. She learned that her master had also been driven away, he had been called insane. She knew how he felt, it was not a nice feeling at all. Fifteen years passed, and as Hekate grew into adulthood, the Master’s psyche underwent a bizarre shift. He would go on rants about the Valley people gathering to overthrow him in some sort of mass conspiracy. He was under the delusion that Hekate had a lover (that was not true at all) and he feared that some cataclysmic event was going to threaten everything he had worked so hard to create. As far as Hekate could tell, all his ramblings in his secret writings (which she was never allowed to see) were sheer nonsense- the secret to eternal life and other odd musings of the universe. On top of that, he started holding court with a flock of vultures that congregated in the back garden. Each one had a name and a distinct personality. Hekate found them to be revolting, but her Master ordered her to feed them raw meat two times a day and greet them by name. She also had to have conversations with them, and if she failed, she was beaten with a lead thimble for hours at a time. This had to stop. By now, he had truly gone off the deep end. He attempted to flood her home town, to her distress because he had indiscriminately killed her family (“They forgot about you,” had been his insincere excuse). He was muttering to himself more and more, and once attacked her with a pair of pinking shears before regaining his senses. She had forgiven him, however as she lay awake on her cot in the guest room overlooking the kitchen garden, she began to formulate a plan to assassinate him. If she did not, her life would be over a lot sooner than she wanted it to be. She realized that she would have to strike first, his bouts of madness were lasting longer. One evening, after Samhain had been celebrated, Hekate found her master sound asleep over decrepit scrolls. Taking a small bloom from her jacket pocket, she wiped the petals against the back of his neck. Immediately, he woke up screaming in pain, but found he could not move. “What have you done to me, you wench?” Shaking her head, she apologized, “I am sorry for doing this to you, Master. I have already learned all I need to form you. The world has no need for you, a useless old man.” She grabbed an onion, sliced it open and laid it over his eyes. Chanting a spell, the onions sizzled over his eyes as they bored through his skull. His body exploded in a puddle of gore, and Hekate swallowed the blood that landed in her open mouth. “Good riddance to that bloody fool,” she said to herself. Ignoring the pile of guts in the middle of the room, she torched the entire library. As she did, power lust watched over her. Laughing heartily, she stood on top of the alter out back and baptized herself in the spilled sinews of her former master. Just as the full moon was at its zenith, the ground spilt asunder, and a skeletal hand clawed its way inside Hekate, dragging her soul towards the Underworld. “If only you had listened, Hekate, I could have taught you the secret to eternal life. I curse your soul to wander the universe without rest, until someone can recall your story. Alas, that will be impossible for I shall strike you from the memory of every living being,” the guttural voice of the Master croaked as he flung Hekate’s soul into the vast emptiness of space. Thus ever afterward, people forgot Hekate and the Master, and her soul haunted numerous places, her soul travelling ever forward, unable to rest because she would not respect her master and her impulsivity drove her to murder. As Minerva’s fable came to an end, an ember popped and brought her back to reality. Thrawn smiled at her, “Well done, Minerva. That’s a fable for the ages.” He kissed her softly, and they decided to call it a night. As the lord drove them back to their hotel, the gathered couples gazed around the area cautiously, hoping that the neon-haired demon was not standing there. It was just a story, wasn’t it? Back at the hotel, Minerva and Thrawn were sound asleep, entangled in each other’s arms. When the antique clock in the hallway struck midnight, a ghostly figure of a woman wearing dusty rags passed through the door, her glowing hair casting an eerie aura around her. Staring at the sleeping couple, she smiled, “Thank you for finally telling my story. I can pass now, but now without reward. For your husband, the lifespan of a human so you and your wife will reach 120 years together before going to the Ever After together. Also, for the one I haunted those years ago, I gift you a happy, long marriage.” Reaching into a ragged pouch, she took a pinch of pollen that settled onto the couple, and was absorbed into the skin. With a final look back, Hekate’s soul let out one last piercing shriek, and dashed out of the window, which closed with such force that it awakened the startled the couple. Walking over to the window, Minerva placed her hand to the cool glass and whispered, “Good bye, Hekate.” Standing behind his wife, Thrawn placed his hands over hers and added a silent thank you. After standing at the window a moment more, Thrawn led his wife back to bed, and they both into a comfortable slumber, and everyone really did live happily ever after.