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Saga - OT Stand Together on the High Places (Lasan Series; Zeb/OC drama, romance, reunion)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Stand Together on the High Places
    Era: Saga—OT, ca. 0 ABY, not long after the Battle of Yavin
    Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, Shulma Trilasha Orrelios (OC), other Rebels and Spectres, numerous OCs
    Genre: Drama, romance
    Summary: A reunion after long years of exile, loss, and separation.
    Contents: One (below) | Two | Three | Four | Five |
    Notes: Oh gosh, I know I have other stories I should be working on—but I just found a groove on this earlier than expected and couldn’t help myself, especially after wrapping up Shaman, Traveler, Oracle! This story is a direct sequel to that one and (of course) part of the Lasan Series. Most of the OCs referenced here are ones that either also appeared in ShTO or were introduced there; please see the notes within that story for details.

    Note that, in this story, some of the chapters (numbered with roman numerals) are divided into sections (numbered with arabic numerals). That’s not something I often do, but it seemed to work here.

    Once again I thank @Raissa Baiard for thoughtful and supportive beta-reading, @TheRynJedi for the kind loan of her OCs Sennah, Danyal, and the members of Alloy, and both of them for their invaluable support. @};-


    – I. –

    1. Yavin IV, Yavin System, Gordian Reach

    Sounds of celebration filled Massassi Base. The Rebel Alliance had just won its biggest and most decisive victory yet: the Death Star, the Empire’s gruesome superweapon, had been destroyed. It had been a long and harsh battle, with great loss of life and materiel: only three pilots had come back alive. But at least the biggest threat was now defused, and the civilized Galaxy could breathe a little easier—definitely something worth celebrating.

    And, as usual, Captain Garazeb Orrelios was on security duty.

    He had mixed feelings about that. It was his job, of course, as security chief, and he carried it out proudly for the Rebellion. And he was just as glad not to have to do any dancing, especially not to that hideous sparkle-bop tripe that all the Humans and near-Humans seemed to go all moofy over. Still, he couldn’t help but wish that he could celebrate with everyone else just once—even if it was just kicking back with a few good comrades-in-arms for a collegial tipple. It was awfully lonely work standing guard outside the Great Temple, and it always got him thinking about things. About days and celebrations gone by. About good old times on the Ghost, or sometimes even all the way back on Lasan. About friends and comrades now gone, never to return. And karabast if there hadn’t been way too many of those lately...

    A surprisingly hefty punch to his upper arm, from a surprisingly small fist, startled him from his thoughts. “Hey there, ori’vod.

    “Aw, hey, Sabine.” He pulled her into a one-armed hug as she came up beside him: his little Spectre sister, her hair colored in a festive green-to-orange gradient, her beskar’gam newly repainted in a jungle motif. There was one friend he hadn’t lost, anyway...

    “Hey, can I ask you something?” she asked as she disengaged from his hug.

    “Yeah?”

    “So, next month some of us were planning to go to the big festival on Khorassan, and we wondered if you wanted to come with. If we have enough people we can sign out one of the transports.”

    “Festival on Coruscant?! What’ve you got, a death wish?!”

    “No, no! Not Coruscant, Khorassan. Kanson-Wiss Sector. Outer Rim. Perfectly safe. Anyway, they throw this huge festival each year that people from all over the Galaxy come to. They call it the Days of Love and Light.”

    Zeb’s craggy features screwed up in sarcastic disgust at these words. “Aw, nice.

    “Oh, come on! It’s not that kind of love at all. It’s more like… er… unconditional good will and brotherhood between one sentient being and another, that sort of thing. It’s an important concept in Khorassani culture.” The Lasat’s only response was a gusty sigh and an incredulous eyeroll; Sabine simply continued. “C’mon, big guy. Three days of culture, music, art, games, food. Food, Zeb. You. Like. Food.” Zeb grunted in annoyance as she punched his upper arm with each word for emphasis. “And then on the very last day there’s a big ceremony where they crown the queen!

    “Wha? Huh? Queen?!” Zeb felt himself seize up at the bitter, tender memory that word sparked in him—

    * * *​
    “My queen.” He kissed the stripes at the edge of her face. “My beautiful, alluring queen.” Each word was a kiss on her neck as he coaxed her over to the bed and sat down with her, his hand stroking her waist. “Now how ’bout my beautiful, alluring queen comes to bed so her Honor Guard can keep her safe all night long…”
    * * *​

    —and immediately quashed the feeling. “Aw, I dunno,” he said. “This doesn’t really sound like my kinda thing.”

    “C’mon, Zeb, please?” Her hazel eyes pleaded with him as she sidled closer, placing a hand gently on his capacious shoulder. “Garel, Atollon, Lothal, Scarif, and now here. We’ve fought hard. And we’ve lost a lot. But today we finally won, finally. So I’d say we deserve a break, don’t you?”

    Zeb sighed again and returned the gesture. He looked about; the party was starting to break up, and the various denizens of Massassi Base were beginning to trickle back to their barracks, talking and laughing and joking and crying together. Sabine was right, of course. After all the fighting they’d done, after all they had had to give up, it was time for them—all of them—to give themselves something, for a change. Maybe these Love and Light Days with all their culture and music and food and queen would be all right. If not, he could just play dejarik with Chopper or something.

    And hey, even then, it’d at least be a nice change of pace from that confounded stuffy, steamy jungle. Hailing from an arid world, Zeb could never understand how living things could even breathe under such Boganishly humid conditions.

    “All right,” he said at last. “I’ll go.”




    2. Khorassan, Khorassan System, Kanson-Wiss Sector

    [From another journal of Shulma Trilasha Orrelios.]

    O radiant spirits, I am trembling!

    I trembled the entire journey from Nal Hutta. Even in the calming swirl of hyperspace I felt vision shock looming over me like a predator, its lightnings stabbing relentlessly at me, head and heart, body and soul. If not for Telfien’s care and Sennah’s tea blend they would have claimed me completely (though I am beginning to run low on the tea blend).

    I am still trembling, even here, even now, in the honored-guest suite at the culture ministry, with the white whispersilk gown and veils of the Queen of Love and Light hanging before me. Tomorrow I shall wear them when I appear in the parade, and then again, two days later, for the final coronation ceremony in the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina. They were made to fit me, as they are each year, for each queen. Oh, I can barely look at them—I am no one’s queen!—

    What is wrong with me? Should I not be joyous? Haven’t I seen—haven’t you, sovereign Ashla, shown me that this is the place where I shall finally see my lost love? My mighty bristlecone, my Last Warrior of Lasan… oh, I remember the day, that bright day in my humble apartment at Bonvika’s villa—

    * * *​
    MY QUEEN

    Oh, my head, my currents—

    Those were his words—that is what he said to me as stood in the doorway of my bed alcove, extending his strong arms toward me, before he disappeared (as always)—

    MY QUEEN oh that was what he called me on our wedding evening, too—

    O Ashla O sovereign spirit of the universe I need not ask for advice for I understand now—

    I must go. Because that is where I will find him: not on Yavin but on Khorassan, at the festival, in the temple...
    * * *​

    But it was only one small vision, one short moment of brightness, and there has been nothing since. No more promptings, no more visions—not even the most fleeting image of him standing before me, or sitting on the bed, or sitting at breakfast. How do I know it was not merely a fever dream or an illusion? Have I taken all I own with me—my clothes, my books, the little remnants of my homeworld—for nothing? (Though for some reason I have not been able to find my old journal, which is why I have begun this one in one of my blank notebooks.)

    Worse yet: have I dragged my dear friends on a futile journey?

    Telfien and I have tried to meditate together on this question a few times, both in hyperspace and here in Khorassograd, but we can turn up no new insight. Everything, as she would say, is still shrouded in thick fog. We had been hoping to go out to the temple to meditate again, since the Ashla flows so strongly there, but it is closed for the preparations for the ceremony.

    So you are withholding your revelation from me, sovereign spirit. I must accept your judgment, but the silence is killing me!

    I shall fix myself another pot of tea, and then, for the thousandth time, take a walk in the inner court of the culture ministry. That is another point of frustration: to maintain the secrecy of the Veiled Queen’s identity, I am not permitted to leave the grounds unless I am fully robed and acting in official capacity as the queen—which will not be until the parade tomorrow midday. And that means, of course, that I cannot make any investigations about any off-planet arrivals to the festival, karabast’aka. (I have asked Ardyse G.-S. about this, but she says she does not have access to those records. She of course wondered why I asked; I simply told her I knew someone who might be coming. Ah, but I cannot place any blame on her; she has been a gracious and attentive hostess, and has been visiting me regularly each day since I arrived. It is not her fault that I am essentially a prisoner while I am here. My currents and vision pains are most definitely not her fault.)

    My tea is finished boiling. I shall take it with me out to the courtyard. At least it is a pleasant day, and the sweetblossoms are blooming.

    * * *​

    This evening was the rehearsal of the coronation ceremony in the culture ministry auditorium. Ardyse and the festival subcommittee presided over the proceedings, and all the dancers and members of my “court,” as they call it, were there (which seems to consist of half daughters of prominent local families, and half theater and dance students from Khorassograd University). Ardyse and the subcommittee members began by exacting a solemn oath of secrecy from all present, enjoining them not to reveal the identity of the queen (though I don’t think any of them knew who the giant purple woman was, anyway). The musicians were there as well, and with their help we practiced the dances, the procession, and the choreography of the coronation ceremony itself. Everything went smoothly and without incident; there really is not much I have to do besides be conducted up to my throne by the dancers during the procession, and then shine my ancient, Rakata-era light-stylus on the “chosen servant” who will come up to crown me—in this case it was a little bespectacled Human man on the subcommittee who resembled Shaman Rokseth from back home and who was later introduced to me as Deejnits Mekonnensen. All in all, I found it calming to be occupied with something besides my own anxiety.

    But what was even more amazing, and completely unexpected: all throughout the rehearsal I was aware of a familiar songlike pull in the Ashla. It seemed to be coming (perhaps unsurprisingly) from the musicians, and once I got a closer look at them I noticed among them the red-brown fur of my old friend and benefactor Sennah, of the Ryn! She was singing, and her husband Danyal, with the dark brown fur and the long hair, was playing lead quetarra. Afterward I went over to greet them; Sennah recognized me, and we exchanged a long embrace as I told her how glad I was to finally see her again and thanked her once again for saving me from that horrible case of vision shock years ago. After the band (called Alloy) had packed up and stowed its equipment, she came with me to the courtyard, where we talked a long time. She shared news of her family and friends in Alloy and on board the Second Chance, and I told her of my own doings as well: my Osthi publication with KhU Press, recent travels with the Rose Evergreen, and the loss of Lua’s son. She said she had heard of that expedition and asked me to pass on her condolences.

    Since Sennah too harbors the spark of the Ashla, I confided to her about the vision of G. I experienced soon after receiving the invitation to be queen. She perked up as I told her, then told me that she had once seen him, very briefly, at one of the Rebel Alliance’s installations (on Atollon, I believe it was). Everything about her description matched him perfectly (yes, even the way she described his “Ashla-song”!). My heart surged with joy to learn that my brave husband had indeed joined the larger Alliance, just as the Ashla had once hinted to me. But what made my heart surge even higher: Sennah told me that an Alliance transport ship was docked at the main spaceport near her own, presumably having come for the festival. Of course she could not say whether my husband was likely to have been one of its passengers. She mentioned the names of some others who might be with him—a Lieutenant Commander Renn? a General Sindoola?—though I do not know who those are. And of course I cannot go to the spaceport myself to investigate; neither can Sennah, really, with her own responsibilities and those of the band.

    But I believe I have a plan. Glockel said I could contact Rika if I needed any errands run…

    to be continued

    ori’vod: Mando’a for “big brother.”

    beskar’gam: The Mando’a word for traditional Mandalorian armor (beskar being the metal from which it is made).

    The planet of Khorassan, the Days of Love and Light festival, its queen, and its associated customs and festivities are fanon, first introduced in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?! and mentioned at various points throughout Shaman, Traveler, Oracle, most notably the very last chapter...

    Ardyse Goldfleck-Straz (culture minister of Khorassan), Telfien (Gand Findswoman), Glockel (Human spacer/pilot), and Rika (astromech droid) are OCs that all appear in various entries of Shaman, Traveler, Oracle. See notes within that story for details.

    sweetblossoms: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sweetblossom

    Sennah, Danyal, and the members of Alloy appear here with the kind permission of TheRynJedi—thank you so much once again, Ryn! @};- She is indeed planning a story in which Sennah and Alloy visit Atollon and meet the Spectres, which explains how Sennah knows “Lieutenant Commander Renn” and “General Sindoola.”

    The italicized segments placed between asterisk separators are excerpts from previous Lasan Series and related stories. For now, see if you can guess which ones they are from. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    :D :D :D Oh I can taste it! How delightful reading of Sabine's insistence and Zeb's finally agreeing to attend, of Shulma's catching up with Sennah :cool: all leading up to :) [face_sigh]
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    AND SO IT BEGINS!!!

    I have to start out by saying that it's been so amazing to follow these characters from the beginning of their relationship, through so much love and loss, to a point where their paths are about to converge in the OT once more. I had such a smile on my face to read this opening, I can't even tell you. Shulma and Zeb have become the canon of my heart, and it's thrilling to have this much anticipated tale finally begin! [face_dancing] [face_love] [face_sigh]

    Oh, Zeb, you poor dear. :p (But, what a way to explain how very Human the Rebel Alliance was on Yavin IV - something that I am sure would change had the films been shot today. Or, um, hopefully, with looking at the ST. :p [face_whistling])

    Oh, sweetie. :( My heart broke for the morose cast of Zeb's reflections, especially with such a happy celebration carrying on just beyond him. There are so many reasons for joy with the destruction of the Death Star, but they've risked and lost so very much to get to that point. That has to be mourned and reflected on, too.

    And, on a side note, I have to applaude how what started as a wry sort of amusing opening quickly deepened for unseen depths beyond what was initially aparent. That's Zeb's character in a nutshell, really: on the surface he's the brawn and the comedic relief of the ensemble, but there's so much to him beyond that obvious veneer. Even more so than Rebels did, we have you and Raissa to thank for that! [face_love]

    [face_laugh] [face_rofl]

    This bit of banter was so spot on in character! I could hear both of their voices loud and clear. I liked this glimpse of Sabine and Zeb's relationship, too. They've grown even closer as comrades, especially as survivors leaning on each other, and she's as much his little sister as Ezra was his baby brother. =(( Their cultural codes of honor and martial backgrounds really line up, too. As such, Sabine is not going to let Zeb's melancholy stand. She knows just what he - and all of their fellow survivors! - need. And that's a vacation celebrating love and beauty. [face_mischief] [face_tee_hee]

    Nice. ;)

    I'm just glad that you didn't make us wait too long between the last journal ending and the start of this much anticipated reunion. I am so excited. [face_love]

    I always love when her creative expletives come out. :p And Shulma has much to feel pent up and even caged for - with the Ashla having gone silent as to further clues and her Zeblove so, so close! [face_love] [face_dancing]

    I loved Shulma and Zeb sharing memories of their wedding night, too. Again: they're so close! [face_love]

    Aw! I was so excited to see Sennah and Danyal make a return appearance. Everyone who's helped her path find this point is here to see it come full circle. [face_love]

    Of course our dear lady has a plan! Her happiness is within reach, and she's going to reach out and hold onto it with both hands. I can't see what Shulma has in mind as her and Zeb's story continues. :D =D= [face_dancing]

    [:D]
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  4. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    First of all, I apologize for taking so long to reply, because I am tickled purple to see this written. No two beings deserve a reunion more than Zeb and Shulma :zeb: [face_love] and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

    Aww, dear dutiful, honorable Zeb keeps keeping on even when the whole base is celebrating their great victory. At a time like this, it’s no wonder that he feels a little lonely and a bit reflective; he’s been through a lot up to this point and lost a lot (in some universes more than others). He still has good friends who care about him, though, and Sabine isn’t just going to leave him there to mope by himself. She’ll get him to go to the Days of Light and Love (and I can totally see the look on his face when she says that) even if she has to have Chopper shock him into submission—and I love that the inducement she uses is
    [face_laugh] She knows him so well! Despite his reaction to the mention of the word “queen” and all the memories it brings back of Shulma (the same memory of their honeymoon that Shulma’s vision of Zeb saying “my queen” stirred in her! SQUEE!), he agrees to go. I think it’s less because of food or festivities than it is for Sabine, his space!sis. I doubt he’d subject himself to art and culture for anyone, but he’d do it it for her, because they’re family and they’ve still got each other, whatever they’ve lost. Of course, we readers know that he’ll be glad he went! (And I completely sympathize with Zeb on the humidity issue; it’s like breathing through a wet towel in place like that :p)

    Meanwhile on Khorassan...Shulma waits in anticipation and no small amount of trepidation, understandable given how long she and Zeb have been apart, but she’s so, so hard on herself, as she begins to doubt herself, her vision, even the Ashla itself!
    I wish she could see that not only does her loving spirit make her a worthy queen for the festival, but she is and will always be queen of Zeb’s heart, no matter how much time passes. Her doubts are compounded by her inability to leave the culture ministry to discover for herself if Zeb has come or to find out anything from Ardyse about him. She really has nothing to do but make tea, pace the courtyard and dwell on things, and that’s got to be a horribly frustrating and depressing situation for her.

    On the upside, she meets Sennah again! The Ashla doesn’t do coincidences:D Just when she is most in need of a friend, one shows up, with encouraging words—Zeb is most definitely alive; she’s seen him. Shulma’s long ago visions of him were true. And, even more encouraging, there is a group of Rebels on Khorassan for the Festival. Though Sennah can’t say for sure if Zeb is with them (and we know Lt. Commander Renn is there, even if General Sindoola is still busy general-ing), but Shulma’s hatches an idea...and :D:D:D I can’t wait to see what will happen next!
     
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both so much for reading and commenting, as always! :)

    Yes, we do all know what it's leading up to; no surprise or secret there! :D I knew I wanted both characters to go into it with good friends at their side (plus, this way Sennah can get another warm hug from Shulma, as promised to @TheRynJedi). @};-

    Well, thank you, Mira, I definitely appreciate that very much, and of course I'm tickled pink (purple?) to have such an inisghtful writer as you onboard as a reader of this story and series. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support you’ve given this series and these characters over the years! @};-

    Yep, and we saw a little of that in Rogue One, which is set just before ANH. :) Zeb is named as the Rebels' security chief when they're on Atollon, so I figured he'd at least sometimes be placed in a similar role on Yavin.

    Exactly, and when you're standing out there on your own keeping guard on a place for hours on end, that's a prime opportunity for those kinds of reflections to creep in, even for a character type like Zeb whom we don't always associate with reflection (which is precisely why I like giving him chances to reflect). He's kind of between a rock and a hard place, in a way, with the options being either (a) being alone with his own mournful reflections or (b) being forced to dance to doofy sparkle-bop music in a crowded Rebel base! :p

    Thank you so much—I really appreciate that, because it's something I've always believed strongly believed about this character. And it's an aspect of him that I think the show could have done a lot more with than it did, so I'm glad to have had the chance to do my own little part in expanding on that aspect and bring out both his serious and humorous aspects a little—they're both integral parts of his character.

    Glad you enjoyed this! :D It was great fun to write these two together; they don't get tons of time to bond on the show, but their warrior backgrounds and codes of honor, as you point out, are important points of commonality that would have made for a good brother-sister relationship between the two. The Coruscant/Khorassan thing is a little throwback to The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!, where the same gag is made when the planet name is first mentioned. (Indeed, it's kind of got me wondering whether the SW place name of Coruscant, especially with the pronunciation "KOR-u-sahnt," might be at least partially based on the name of the RL Khorassan.)

    Thank you—I thought you might appreciate this little tidbit. ;) A scholarly type like Shulma isn’t going to let one misplaced notebook stop her from journaling. :D And I most definitely wanted to “ride the momentum” between Shaman, Traveler, Oracle and this story and not wait too long either!

    It’s a tricky situation she’s in. On one hand, she’s received a huge honor with this position as Veiled Queen—and it’s one she thought (the Ashla told her) would being her closer to finding her husband. But on the other hand it’s turning out to be more restrictive than she’s anticipated, so much so that it almost looks like she won’t be able to even try looking for him. It’s enough to elicit creative oaths from anyone! :p

    Exactly—that’s exactly what that shared memory is trying to tell them! <3 ;)

    Once again, I can’t thank @TheRynJedi enough for letting me give these wonderful characters of hers roles in Shulma’s story—and given how instrumental they, and especially Sennah, have wound up being in her story, it only seemed right for them to be with her at this crucial moment. Plus, to quote Olaf, “I like warm hugs!” :D

    Soon and very soon! ;) Shulma isn’t one to succumb to self-doubt and despair, even if she certainly (like all of us) feels those things sometimes. You’ll see what she’s on about in the next installment, right around the corner, so do stay tuned! And thanks again, as always, for your support and readership. @};-

    Thanks so much, as always! I’m just over the moon to be able to write this reunion story at last—I’ve been eager to for so long. And no worries in the least; it’s been busy times for both of us. I know you’re here. @};-

    I really enjoyed giving Zeb and Sabine some space!sib bonding time in this—you know, of course, what went into my initial selection of the character (part of it does indeed have to do with the multiple universes you mention—and they've all lost something in all of them), but it turned out to be just so much fun, and indeed as I said above to Mira we don't often get to see these two interacting. They really do make for a good brother-sister pair; those found-family bonds are so important to the both with all they've come through, and they both deserve a little fun and relaxation. (With the added bonus of taking a break from that steamy jungle!).

    And of course although neither Shulma nor Zeb know it yet, that shared moment of memory around the word "queen" is a hint to them both that they're much closer to each other than they think! [face_batting]

    Again, it's a definite—and thoroughly infuriating—case of "so close, yet so far away"! And it's just that kind of uncertainty that is most likely to set off Shulma's own perennial tendency toward self-doubt, something she's been grappling with ever since my earlier stories about her. But her patience will pay off, and she and many others will get to see just how much of a queen she really is. @};- (If I can pull it off, that is!)

    It definitely doesn't do coincidences! Sennah (and once again so, so many thanks to TheRynJedi) is the perfect person to show up to be by Shulma's side at this juncture, and I knew I wanted her to be present for the reunion story ever since I started this little collaboration with RynJedi. @};- And since Sennah has a few
    Rebellion connections
    herself, she seemed like a good candidate to be able to give Shulma the all-important news about the presence of Rebels at the festival. And thanks to Rika (part of Shulma's own "found sisterhood"), Shulma knows a way she can take matters into her own hands and investigate further, even with her motions so restricted—and more shall be revealed about that very soon, so watch this space! :D

    Again, many thanks to you all, and the next chapter is right around the corner! :D
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
    Kahara, TheRynJedi and Raissa Baiard like this.
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Many thanks again to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and advice. @};-


    II. –
    1. Khorassan

    Captain Garazeb Orrelios wasn’t so sure about this whole Days of Love and Light thing.

    Karabast, just getting to Khorassan had been a pain, what with the whole blockade business. General Madine had made sure to secure the group of Rebels a “temporary travel permit” or whatever it was called—of course, Zeb still bristled at the very idea of having to submit to Imperial rules, but it wasn’t up to him. But even that very thoughtful precaution on the general’s part hadn’t kept the whole expedition from being detained for hours at blockade control on various trumped-up technicalities (typical Imps). It was ultimately only thanks to the hotshot piloting skills of that Mattin kid that they’d managed to jump to hyperspace in a timely manner at all. And it definitely didn’t hurt that they’d thought to sign out the lightest and most maneuverable of the transport frigates (the Amarcordia—ancient Alderaanian word for “memory” or something).

    The hyperspace journey itself had gone without incident, but once they arrived and docked on Khorassan, Zeb had barely had any time to get settled before the others dragged him off to the big Love and Light Parade. There they spent what felt like hours sitting there watching float after float after float showcasing seemly every single cultural organization, business agency, artist colony, youth group, and amateur musical society in the entire Kanson-Wiss Sector, all the while being pelted by the denizens of said floats with candy, flowers, trinkets, packets of facial-flimsi, and other souvenirs (at one point a water bottle had clocked him on one ear). Sabine, who of course had spent the hyperspace trip reading all sorts of art and culture books about Khorassan and its sectormates, kept up a running commentary on the history and symbolism of the float designs, decorations, colors, costumes, formations, dance moves, and so on. Zeb simply tuned her out after a while, because karabast if it all didn’t look the same to him.

    He breathed a sigh of relief when the last and biggest float appeared, carrying the Veiled Queen and her court of dancers and attendants, though from what he could see this wonderful, amazing queen everyone had been talking about wasn’t all that interesting after all. While her dancers were prancing around in flowy green and pink dresses and jeweled breastplates and throwing flowers to the crowd, she just looked like… well, a pile of white sheets or curtains or laundry or something, just sitting there at the top of the float and not moving. (Except he thought he saw her maybe… wobble, kind of? Just once? Might have been his imagination, though.)

    The games and athletic competitions began soon afterward, with everything from serious athletic events like marksmanship, wrestling, weight lifting, gravball, and track and field to the silly stuff like darts, ring toss, three-appendaged races, nuna-egg-and-spoon races, ryshcate walks, and of course the sausage-eating contest. It reminded Zeb of the Storms’ End fairs he used to go to back home on Lasan, and he allowed himself a few moments of reminiscence...

    * * *​
    The southern part of the parade grounds were given over to the carnival games and booths, but the northern end hosted some of the festival’s sporting events, like wrestling and weight-lifting. Others, like the rock climbing, bo-rifle marksmanship, and javelin competitions were held in the canyons on the outskirts of Lira Zel, though the registration for all of them was held in the northwest corner. The Guard’s quartermaster, a scar-faced Lasat, was signing up competitors by event and age group...
    * * *​

    Just like back then, Zeb thought he might try his skill at wrestling, weight lifting, and the track events, but his entry was rejected on the grounds that his size and build would give him an unfair advantage over other competitors. (“And that would be against the Spirit of Love and Light,” the grandfatherly Human running the sign-ups very earnestly told him.) So he tried marksmanship instead, where he came in third behind Sabine and some short little insectoid with big, round golden eyes. He considered the sausage-eating contest as well, but was dissuaded in the strongest terms by his comrades. At least he had been able to find some pretty good fried exosquidra on a stick from one of the food carts set up in the main park, but they didn’t have any of the hot pepper sauce that he liked—just a sort of cheap, greasy tarta-remoolahd type stuff.

    At the end of the day Zeb felt so tired, frustrated, and irritable that he decided to skip out on going to the opening festival banquet with the others and head back to the Amarcordia. Finally he’d get some time to relax after all that festival silliness, maybe listen to some music or see what was on the holovid.

    That was when he saw the note.

    Someone had spacer-taped it to the doorway leading to the Amarcordia’s docking bay. It was written very neatly on a standard-size sheet of white flimsi and read simply, “I hope to see you at the coronation.”

    In Lasat.

    His native language. How long had it been? Karabast, he thought he’d forgotten it all. And whoever wrote it used the really fancy, proper Lasat handwriting, too. That he hadn’t seen in a really long time...

    Zeb glanced around nervously, his heart pounding. Did this mean there was some other Lasat here, on Khorassan, at the festival? Who must have known he was here, because no one else from the Amarcordia spoke or read Lasat (they had deliberately neglected to invite that annoying protocol droid who was always bragging about how many languages he knew). But how?

    He wanted to find out, and yet he didn’t. The last time he had seen any of his people had been years ago, now—his old lieutenant Gron Stultzfoss and that Chava the Wise lady, both of whom were now residing safely on Lira San. Chava had tasked him with finding others of his people and showing them the way back to the ancient homeworld. But never in a million dust seasons did he think he’d actually find any others and have to do that. Aw karabast, he wasn’t ready for this…

    At least he knew what the coronation was: the big foofy ceremony at the end of the festival where they crowned the Veiled Queen and all that. He’d been secretly hoping to skip out on that, too, but now…

    Zeb tore the note from the door, folded it, and hurried back to his cabin on the Amarcordia, where he stashed it under his pillow.


    2. Continuation of the Journal of Shulma Trilasha Orrelios

    He is here.

    O holy Ashla, he is here!

    I felt his spark during the parade. It was his—I could tell from the way it shook me, the way it pierced my very core, the way my eyes and fingertips tingled. O Spirits! I nearly fell from my seat atop the parade float.

    Akh karabast’aka, how I hate having my movements so restricted! Besides the official opening of the main festival stage tomorrow morning, I shall be pretty much stuck here all day. All I can do now is hope and pray that this plan of mine will work and that the message I had Rika leave will reach him. (She says it was gone when she went to check, but it could just as well have been taken down by a maintenance crew or by someone else.)

    Thankfully I have my books and my last little bit of tea. I have been rereading that beautiful passage about the Child and the Seer from the eighteenth prophecy of Osthi’s Stronghold:

    * * *​
    And grasping the sheer rock the Child began to climb up to her; and when he reached her she gathered him to her, and said unto him: “Be not troubled, beloved Child of Lasan: you have had many trials and shall have many more, but I shall remain with you and guide you, and gently cleanse you.” And she wrapped him in her cloak so that her rustling light enfolded him…
    * * *​

    Ah, I, too, must remember those words of consolation!

    to be continued

    “that Mattin kid”: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Mart_Mattin

    Amarcordia: The ship name and its meaning in Alderaanian is fanon. In real life, amarcord (a m’arcord) means “I remember” in Romagnol. I know it as the name of this men’s vocal ensemble, but it is also the title of a semi-autobiographical comedy film by Federico Fellini, and because of that film the word has acquired the meaning of “a fond reminiscence” in modern Italian.

    Storms’ End: A fanon Lasat festival created by Raissa Baiard, described in our Lasat fanon post.

    fried exosquidra on a stick: A delicacy (!) I first encountered in Raissa Baiard’s A Very Serious Mission?

    “that annoying protocol droid who was always bragging about how many languages he knew”: C-3PO, of course.

    Gron Stultzfoss: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Gron. His last name is my own fanon, based on the RL surname Stoltzfuss, “proud foot.”
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
    Kahara, TheRynJedi and Raissa Baiard like this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed Zeb's irritation at the hyperspace journey and the "festivities" during the Festival of Love and Light. Oh, the note! I can so understand his going either of 2 ways about it, BUT I SO SO HOPE he decides to attend the coronation. I want to reach through the screen and say assuredly: "No it will not be a boring thing." [face_laugh] [face_love]
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  8. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    So, Zeb is less than thrilled with the Days of Light and Love...I can’t imagine why! :D I mean why wouldn’t a big purple curmudgeon like him enjoy endless parades with foofy floats full of cheerful Space!Midwesterners throwing candy and trinkets and occasionally clocking him in the head with them? Why wouldn’t he love perky dancers prancing around a pile of sheets—erm, the Veiled Queen (and that part made me laugh. Zeb, that’s your wife you’re talking about! [face_laugh]) And then when he finally gets the chance to do something fun, he’s not allowed to take part in them because it would be unfair and against the spirited Light and Love. That nice old gent is lucky that Zeb didn’t thump him (probably as much light and love as he could muster at the moment :p) At least he got to take part in the marksmanship trials—and go Telfien! Who knew she was such a crack shot? It’s too bad his comrades wouldn’t let him be part of the sausage eating contest, because Sabine promised him food, after all. (And I love that fried exosquidra on a stick seems to be the GFFA’s corn dog :) )

    But then, just when our hero is about to expire from boredom....dun dun DUNNNNN—there’s a mysterious note on the spaceship’s hatch. Written in very fancy Lasat handwriting, no less! Zeb must be going through all sorts of mixed emotions when he finds it. He hasn’t seen any Lasat for almost five years, and the hope he has at the thought there’s another of his kind has to be mingled with a certain amount of nervousness and trepidation. It may even awaken some painful memories of the Seige and what he’s been through. He doesn’t know if he’s ready for this—but we know Zeb, and we know however reluctant he may be, he will go to the Coronation. His honor demands no less of him.

    Shulma has her share of anxiety, as well. Sensing of Zeb’s spark in the Ashla overwhelms her so much she nearly collapses on the float. I imagine that after so long without him, sensing him there, so strongly and so near, floods her senses, both physical and metaphysical. It’s fitting that she reads that particular passage of Osthi’s prophecy; it would seem to be applicable to our heroes, Child and Seer reunited (all purple hearts here!)

    Looking forward to seeing what will happen at the Coronation [face_love] :zeb:
     
  9. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    I have attempted TWICE already to write a comment on this story, and gosh darn it, the third time will be the charm!

    Part 1.
    Love the sweet banter between Sabine and Zeb. She really is his little sister, huh. They have grown so close. This part, though:
    is poignant. They have lost a lot. The loss of Kanan in particular must be so painful. She clearly wants a break, and she wants him there with her. They've suffered together; they should let their stress go together. Nobody else would understand her feelings about it the way Zeb would.

    Did you look behind the seat cushions?;)

    Oh, sweet Shulma! That line about being "no one's queen" :(
    How heartbreaking it must be to be so reminded of her love. Is she afraid that the time that has passed will change their relationship? Change his feelings about her?

    But they are (literally) SO CLOSE now!

    Part 2.

    Poor Zeb, sitting there like a giant purple grump, bored to tears with the floats and the trinkets. I imagine Sabine probably even tried to decorate him with a colorful beaded necklace or two! :zeb: Then this:

    OH YOU SILLY MAN! You have to LOOK! No wonder she wobbled - she knew it was you!

    Wait - Telfien?

    Aw, man, what I wouldn't do for some good old fried exosquidra on a stick. DEE-lish! :D

    No, big guy. Definitely do NOT skip out on that. You're gonna want to see that.[face_love]

    OK, first off, that is really beautiful imagery there. Very, very nice!
    Second, I find it interesting that the Child climbs the rock to get to her. I remember when they first met, it was Zeb who climbed up to impress her. This idea of constantly climbing toward each other/for each other, with the idea of the rock (both strength and solidity AND a hard obstacle) is really cool. This is an interesting application to their own situation. I am hopeful that soon Shulma will wrap Zeb in her cloak and they will find solace and peace at last.
     
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all, as always.

    Thanks! At this point he’s definitely wondering how he allowed himself to get roped into this silly boring festival thing, as well as wondering if that frustrating hyperspace journey was even worth it. But he’ll soon learn otherwise! :D

    Yep, aren’t those all just exactly the things that big, purple curmudgeons adore best! Especially dancers dancing around laundry piles! Ah, but if only he knew... :D

    Yep, kind of insult to injury on top of all the other frustrations of that day! I have to say I felt a little bad doing that to him... but I promise I’ll make it up to him later! :D And I did give him at least a little reprieve by letting him take part in the marksmanship. Yes, that’s Telfien, and I figured this could be one application of her mystical “intuition” as a Gand Findswoman—and of course it’s one of Sabine’s strengths, too. As to the fried exosquidra, I love that you introduced it to begin with—enough said! :D

    Exactly—all of that is what I’m hoping to convey. It’s a big responsibility to carry on top of all the painful memories and trauma. But you’re right that he will always follow the path of honor in the end.

    Exactly there, too! That sort of thing has to be an overwhelming moment for someone with that kind of sensitive connection to the Force (or Ashla). A little scary, too, when seated atop a tall, probably slightly rickety parade float. :eek: And her choice of that passage from Osthi—an old favorite of hers, as seen in other stories ;) —is perhaps her own prophetic (!) subconscious at work, hinting at what’s to come. @};-

    Soon and very soon! ;) Thanks so much for all the support and encouragement, as always, and for being part of these characters’ journey from the start. @};-

    And it looks like it was! No worries at all; your comments are daymakers any time they arrive. [face_love]

    Again, it was fun writing a big bro/little sis dynamic between these too, as it’s something the show didn’t show us much. These two really have come through so much and lost so much; they do indeed deserve a break. And Sabine knows her VeryBigSpaceBro will understand that, having as he does a good heart under the gruff exterior.

    Did you look behind the seat cushions?;)[/quote]

    [face_laugh] Good thing she has a friend who's a Gand Findswoman, isn't it! :D

    All of those fears and more are assailing her right now. She hasn't gotten any more signs about it from the Ashla, either, which makes her fear it may all have been an illusion.

    Yes! And neither of them know it just yet. The time is not yet right... :p

    Hah, there's an image! I should totally have had her do that. Or a nice daisy chain or flower crown, even! :D

    Zebby really can be silly sometimes, can't he? :p Though in his defense, she was sitting very high up on the float and was completely covered with white drapings. But as you saw, she did indeed sense he was there.

    Yep, that's her. One of the many skills enhanced by her Force-based "intuition." :cool:

    Same here, and I've been feeling that way ever since Raissa introduced it in "A Very Serious Mission?"! Pretty sure it would not qualify as kosher, though. :p

    That would definitely be good advice for him to take. :D

    Thank you! :) It is, incidentally...
    ...part of the same passage Zeb reads to Shulma during her illness in Light of Lasan chapter 4.

    I adore my readers for interpretations like these! [face_love] :D I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but you’re definitely right that the motif of climbing has always been there throughout their relationship, from Zeb’s first climb of the Warrior all those years ago to his second (and fateful) climb when they got engaged, to now... and the climbing motif will indeed figure in the ensuing chapters, as you shall see, so I guess it all fits together!

    [face_whistling]. ( [face_love], @};- ! )

    Thank you, and you, and you, and you, and... all of you for sticking with this and reading and commenting! More coming shortly... :zeb:
     
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Once again, I am grateful to @Raissa Baiard for invaluable help with beta-reading and general advice. And if I may indulge in just a little teeny tiny self-plug—do be sure to check out the notes for this next chapter, which include original music to accompany the chapter!


    III. –

    By the third evening of the Days of Love and Light, Captain Garazeb Orrelios wished he were just on security duty.

    His second and third days at the festival had been pretty much like his first. Same overenthusiastic comrades yanking him out of bed and pulling him around town, same running commentary about local art and culture, same long and boring events, same kitschy market booths, same turndowns at the games and competitions, same fried exosquidra on a stick. Oh yeah, and same Veiled Pile of Fabric—er, Veiled Queen, too (at least for about ten minutes while she and her dancer cronies opened the main festival stage on the morning of the second day).

    But almost none of it mattered to Zeb anymore, because all he could think about was that note in Lasat from the docking bay door. That meant one of his own people was around the place somewhere, and Zeb wasn’t going to rest until he had found them. He had made a point of scanning the crowds carefully everywhere he went, even letting Sabine drag him to the hideous evening lectures and receptions at the culture ministry. It should have been easy; after all, it wasn’t as though one of his people would be hard to spot, what with being big and distinctively colored and all. And yet he had still not seen so much of a stripe of the mysterious Other Lasat. (He’d said nothing about this to Sabine or the others, of course. It was none of their business, anyway.)

    And now, on the evening of the third day, here he was at the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, where all the festival goers (or at least those who had bought tickets) were assembling for the culminating coronation ceremony. The temple was a massive and ancient Rakata-era structure located at some distance outside Khorassograd, and Zeb had to admit the place was quite impressive. A dark, vaulted ceiling rose high above the room, and not far below small, blue windows were set like gems into the black stone walls, whose intricate carvings—some of ancient runes, some of abstract designs, some of more determinate images—reached from the ceiling down to the floor. From the center of the room, steps made of the same black stone ascended to a plain, broad, altar-like platform, on which sat a cubical black stone topped with velvoid cushions and drapings. Adjoining the altar steps on either side, a little less than halfway up, were two recessed balconies, one of which held a group of what seemed to be local notables and officials, the other the orchestra—which was none other than the mostly Ryn group that had performed to enthusiastic applause on the festival main stage the day before. Tables and a cash bar had been set up for the comfort of the attendees, who at this point were engaged in various combinations of milling merrily, sipping their drinks of choice, and admiring the surrounding architecture.

    The Rebels from the Amarcordia had arrived fairly early and staked out a group of tables close to the altar stairs, but Zeb had made a point of stationing himself at the one farthest back, where he could all the more easily keep an eye on everyone who entered and exited through the gigantic, rune-inscribed metal front doors. There he now sat, sipping a dark New Blarrus ale from the cash bar and only halfway listening to Sabine’s running commentary on the iconography of First Rakatan Era stone carvings.

    And waiting. And waiting. And karabasting waiting.

    Every time the doors swung open, every time the protocol droid beside them announced the name of some newcomer, Zeb would perk up and turn and look, heart pounding like the very Bogan, in case it might finally be the Other Lasat. And every time, it turned out to be some random partygoer, most of the time in some kind of twee evening attire, most of the time some variety of Human or humanoid. (Well, except for when it had been that little gold-eyed insectoid that had placed first in the marksmanship competition. But that had been it.)

    And every time, Zeb would heave a sigh of mixed disappointment and relief and go back to sipping his ale and listening to Sabine’s art commentary. And the process would begin again.

    This whole thing was beginning to wear on him. First, there was the nervous strain of it all, from the constant cycle of anticipation and letdown to the very prospect of even just maybe seeing another Lasat after so long, and knowing it would be his responsibility to show them the way to Lira San. Second was just plain, simple frustration: there was less than half an hour to go before the coronation ceremony was scheduled to start, and there was still no sign of any Other Lasat anywhere in the room. Part of him even began to wonder if someone was having him on—maybe one of those Rogue Squadron rascals, because, after all, people capable of replacing all the knives in Sabine’s cu’bikad set with rubber theatrical props were people capable of anything. But how would they know how to write like that?

    Besides, there was just something about this Temple of Mark-Gu-Fina place. With all its ancient runes and dark nooks and crannies, this place put him in mind of the stories Kanan and Ezra used to tell him about that Lothal Jedi Temple—the one that was liable to sink into the ground and take you with it if you made one false step. And there had always been something about mystical, temple-type places that spooked him a little, made him feel like he wasn't really supposed to be there...
    * * *​
    Zeb glanced around, taking in the stark beauty of the tomb chamber: the flat stone walls, the flickering glow of the lightning torches in the corners of the room, the recumbent sculpture of the prophetess with the Ashla’s blade piercing her heart, and the bursts of jewel-like color from the four windows, one set into each wall. The windows intrigued him. On three of them, the ones with the blue, green, and yellow backgrounds, he could discern the images of the Warrior, the Child, and the Fool—familiar, storied figures known to every Lasat kit. But he wasn’t sure about the fourth window, the red one at the far end of the room, which showed a female shaman gesturing to a book that she held open before her. Was it a portrait of Osthi herself? Whoever it was seemed to be staring straight at him, straight through him...
    * * *​
    At least the music was nice. The Ryn group had done a great job at their performance the day before, and they were doing mighty fine now—Zeb found if he focused on them he could easily tune out Sabine’s ancient Rakatan art commentary. The dark one with the long, sandy hair played quite the mean quetarra, and the reddish-orange one had a nice singing voice. They reminded him of two Ryn who had come to Chopper Base a couple years before to deliver food and supplies. And come to think of it, one of them had said something about one of his people looking for him, hadn’t they? He’d thought nothing of it at the time, but now...

    Finally, the chandeliers and sconces dimmed, the musicians finished their piece and faded to silence, and slowly the milling and conversation quieted all throughout the room. A shortish, middle-aged Human woman with bright pink lipstick and equally bright pink spiked hair (“Gatalentan civility dye,” according to Sabine) approached the front of the room, ascended about a third of the way up the altar stairs, and began speaking.

    “Ladies, gentlemen, and others! On behalf of the culture ministry of Khorassan, the Kanson-Wiss Sector Fine Arts Board, and the Mak-Gu-Fina Temple Historical Preservation Society, it is my immense pleasure to welcome each and every one of you once again, with open heart and arms, in the name of the universal love that unites all sentient beings... to the concluding ceremonies of the 5201st Days of Love and Light!” Applause ensued. “And now, we ask for your deference and attention as the Veiled Queen of Love and Light enters with her retinue to begin the solemn coronation rites. Please silence your personal communications devices, and note that no recording devices are permitted for the duration of the ceremony. Thank you all for your cooperation, and may the love that binds the stars be with you all!”

    The assembled guests applauded again as the pink-haired Human stepped down and to one side, and the musicians struck up a mellow, dignified march. Zeb sighed into his ale. He had now been there for almost two full hours without any sign of anything even slightly resembling another Lasat, and now the ceremony was going to start for real. Which meant he was stuck here until the whole long, boring thing was over, with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and probably no chance of ever meeting this karabasting Other Lasat at all. Karabast, karabast, karabast.

    Meanwhile, the large front doors had swung open, and the court dancers were now marching into the temple in a close-knit, lattice-like formation. Zeb eyed them closely as they entered. Cute enough, and the jeweled breastplate things were nice and pretty and sparkly, but all of them were Humans or near-Humans, of course (except for what looked like one more Ryn). As they reached the front of the room and fanned out into a semicircular pattern, the music swelled, the front doors swung open again, and the Veiled Queen was carried in on a litter by six Human attendants. (“Weird,” noted Sabine, “it’s usually four, symbolizing ‘mind,’ ‘body,’ ‘heart,’ and ‘spirit.’”) Two more followed (both Human, kark them), fanning the amorphous queen with giant fans on poles. The dancers bowed reverently as the queen was carried to the top of the altar stairs, and two of them helped her from the litter and led her to sit on the cushion-covered stone cube. Once she was seated (and reprising her impeccable impression of a laundry pile), the music changed again, and the dancers began dancing.

    And kept dancing. And danced some more. And some more. And after that did another dance.

    Zeb quickly lost count of how many dances they actually did. At this point, he was just letting it all wash over him. Occasionally Sabine would explain the symbolic meaning of one of the formations, or Wes or Hobbie would let out an obnoxious whoop or whistle in the dancers’ direction, but Zeb was barely paying them any attention. He found his eyes wandering again and again back to the front doors, just in case—and again and again he saw nothing…

    “Hey, ori’vod, everything all right?”

    Karabast. Zeb might have tuned out Sabine’s commentary, but she had apparently not tuned him out. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he answered in a growling whisper, without looking at her. “Fine. Just fine.”

    “You just seem a little… preoccupied, is all.”

    “Me?! Preoccupied?! What makes you think I’m preoccupied?!

    “Oh, just the way you keep looking at the doors every few—” She stopped suddenly, her eyes lighting up with a mischievous gleam as she sidled closer to Zeb. “Ooh, Zeb, are you waiting for someone?”

    Zeb turned on her with a scowl. “Now where d’you get—”

    “Oh, tell me who it is, Zeb!” She had him in a teasing side hug now. “I promise I won’t blab. What goes on at the festival stays at the festival, hee hee hee!”

    “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!” Zeb rejoined as he pulled from her grip, loudly enough to elicit shushes from two adjacent tables.

    “All right, all right, fine. Then what is it? C’mon, you can tell your vod’ika.

    And karabast again. He’d been hoping to avoid this. But this was Sabine, after all, not one of those obnoxious Rogues or one of the Iron Squadron rugrats. (Even if it was thanks to Mart that they’d made it here at all—but Zeb wasn’t going to admit that right now.) “Well—er—erm—well, y’see—there was this note—”

    He was cut off by sudden, vehement shushing from the neighboring tables as the pink-haired woman’s voice boomed once more throughout the room:

    “And now the Veiled Queen of Love and Light descends from her lofty throne to choose one being from among the assembled guests who will place on her head the ancient tiara set with the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina, crowning her true monarch of all amity and goodwill in this Galaxy of ours!”

    Zeb looked up. All was much quieter in the temple now. The music had stopped except for a single low, sustained drone note from the lower register of the orchestra’s keyboard instrument. The dancers stood stock still in formation on the altar steps, all facing the Veiled Queen, who now stood on one of the middle steps with two dancers on either side of her. He noticed that she was much taller than any of them, almost a head taller…

    One of the dancers standing next to the queen handed her something that looked like a very long, thin stylus. As she held it up, one end began to glow bright green, like one of those light-pointer things General Madine sometimes used in his debriefings. Turning from side to side, the queen began to move it back and forth across the room, back and forth, back and forth, again and again, until—

    “Come forward, chosen servant.”

    Several things happened at once. The amplified, disembodied voice echoed again through the room. A wave of murmurs began to ripple through the crowd, culminating in gasps and exclamations from the Amarcordia Rebels. And all the eyes in the room, including those of the Veiled Queen and her dancers, turned toward—

    Wayii, Zeb! It’s you! Quick! Go up!”

    “Wai—wha—huh—aw, karabast...” Zeb’s jaw dropped as he noticed that the point of green light from the queen’s stylus now shone fixedly on the breastplate of his armor, directly over the painted image of Big Bongo the joopa.

    How could this be? Certainly this was some mistake—she must have meant Sabine or Wedge or the unassuming-looking Barolian businessman one table over. Not him. But no, the point of light was absolutely, stubbornly motionless.

    “Wait, so—okay—whaddami supposed t’—”

    Sabine huffed out an exasperated sigh. “You go up there and put the tiara on her head!”

    “Tiara? What the—? Where d’you see a—”

    “COME FORWARD, CHOSEN SERVANT.”

    “It’s up there! On that cart… thing!”

    “Cart… thing?” Zeb looked again and saw it: a metal cart had been wheeled up to the foot of the steps by a Human child all in white, who was staring at him too. On the cart was some kind of large metal lockbox and what seemed to be a few potted plants, though Zeb couldn’t tell for sure.

    “COME FORWARD, CHOSEN SERVANT,” boomed the voice again.

    “Yeah, chosen servant, any day now,” Hobbie called over from the next table. Laughter arose from all the nearby Rebels except Sabine, who hissed, “Will you JUST GO ALREADY!”—an utterance that she punctuated with a surprisingly hefty one-handed shove.

    “Right.” Zeb took a deep breath and strode to the front of the room. He was a Lasan High Honor Guard. He could (at least in principle) run from Lira Zel to the Northern Plateaus with a broken leg, a concussion, and a gut wound if he had to. So surely he could stick a tiara on top of a pile of sheets, couldn’t he? Of course he could. He opened the metal box, took out the tiara, and looked at it for a moment—mighty fine piece of craftsmanship, if he did say so himself, with that big pretty greenish stone in the middle. Right, so far so good. Now all he had to do was put it on her...

    “THE VEILED QUEEN AWAITS THE CHOSEN SERVANT.”

    ...and now, somehow, she was back at the very top of the altar-pyramid-thing. Zeb breathed in and began climbing the stone stairs, one by one by one, feeling the eyes of the crowd boring into him with each step. Karabast, there were a lot of them, and they were steep, too… Meanwhile, the orchestra’s drone note had grown louder, as if other instruments had joined in.

    But as he went, Zeb’s sensitive ears found themselves picking up another sound, too. It was the sound of singing: soft, slow, distant singing that was perfectly in tune with the drone. He couldn’t tell who it was or where it was or what it was or even if it was just his imagination. But there was something about it that seemed just a tiny bit… familiar, maybe? And it, too, seemed to be increasing ever so slightly in volume with each step...

    At last Zeb reached the top. The Veiled Queen stood a meter or so in front of him, as faceless and motionless as ever. She really was tall—only a little shorter than he was. And there was a whiff of a scent coming from her too. A familiar scent, almost like—wait, no—how could it be possible—

    Was the Veiled Queen the Other Lasat?

    Time to find out, he reckoned. He cleared his throat and took a step closer. “Er, hello.”

    She took a step closer to him, too. He heard nothing but the drone note and more of the soft singing. And then he realized: it was coming from her, and it was familiar...

    “Keeraw, Lasan, keeraw,
    Our honor shall defend thee…”


    The hymn of the Lasan High Honor Guard. Sung softly and slowly above the drone note, as if it were a tender lullaby. And that voice, THAT VOICE—

    “For thee our roars we raise,
    For thee our bo-rifles blaze…”


    No. No. KARABAST, NO. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be her. She’d been killed in the Siege with everyone else, right? RIGHT? But—

    “Thy foes shall cringe in awe;
    Keeraw, Lasan, keeraw!”


    He was going mad. That was the only possible explanation. It was all an illusion, all of it—the note on the door, the scent, the song, the voice, everything. All the death and horror he’d seen over the years must have finally caught up with him. That, or that New Blarrus ale was a lot stronger stuff than he’d thought…

    The amplified voice jolted him. “THE CHOSEN SERVANT SHALL NOW CROWN THE VEILED QUEEN OF LOVE AND LIGHT WITH THE ANCIENT TIARA OF MAK-GU-FINA.”

    No, no, NO! He was NOT shaking and his hands were NOT sweating and his stomach was NOT fluttering! Karabast it all, he was an HONOR GUARD!

    Right. Time to get this over with, then head back to town to the ship and sleep this off. Other Lasat or no Other Lasat, the nervous strain was just too much. And no one else needed to see him like this.

    Gingerly he set—almost dropped—the tiara onto the queen’s veiled head. Just as he did, its central green-pink gem caught the light of the chandeliers and sent up a brilliant white gleam. The musicians struck up a triumphant flourish, the room exploded in applause and cheers—and Zeb turned and ran back down the stairs as quickly as he possibly could.

    “Zeb, that was awesome! You did great!” Sabine extended her arms to him as he neared their table, but he blustered past without looking at her. “Hey, what’s the matter? You all right?”

    “I don’t feel so good,” he growled back, barging his way through the crowd toward the giant metal doors. The droids guarding them remonstrated and tried to block his way, but he shoved them apart, pushed open the doors, and left. He did not hear the applause turn to gasps and screams moments later, as the Veiled Queen herself, defying all the dancers’ and droids’ attempts to hold her back, tore down the steps and through the crowd after him.

    to be continued

    New Blarrus: Fanon, an homage to New Glarus Brewing Company, a notable craft brewery near me. (Appropriate for the Kanson-Wiss Sector, I figured…)

    The mostly Ryn music group is, of course, TheRynJedi’s Alloy, borrowed with her permission; see notes to chapter 1. Once again, the visit to Atollon will occur in a future story by her.

    cu’bikad: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Cu'bikad

    Gatalentan civility dye: Fanon, though note that Gatalenta is the homeworld of another notable pink-haired woman: Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. My character here, Culture Minister Ardyse Goldfleck-Straz, is a native of Khorassan, but I was thinking she might also have some Gatalentan parentage and heritage.

    5201st Days of Love and Light: The festival recounted in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?! was the 5197th.

    wayii: a Mandalorian exclamation (see word list at http://mandoa.org/).

    Big Bongo the Joopa: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Big_Bongo (which is indeed the creature painted on Zeb’s chestplate in Rebels S3 and S4).

    “what seemed to be a few potted plants”: Olbio trees, which are the favored food of Force-blocking ysalamiri—see notes to chapter 3 of The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!

    “run from Lira Zel to the Northern Plateaus with a broken leg, a concussion, and a gut wound if he had to”: Though it’s not set off as an extract or flashback, this, too, is a quote from a previous Lasan Series story. Lira Zel is our fanon capital of Lasan.

    “Keeraw, Lasan, keeraw”: Words and music by yours truly. This use of “keeraw” (cf. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Boosahn_Keeraw) riffs on this poem by Tumblr user and accomplished Lasat fanon creator fuzzydemolitionsquad, to whom I also offer this song as an homage. Yes, there is music, too: here is the song at full volume and tempo, and here it is sung more softly and slowly, over a drone note, the way it might have been heard in this scene. Both recordings are performed by me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful reactions and building of anticipation and Zeb's "I must be mad!" was understandable, and then the "Queen" has to dash after him. [face_laugh] The musical accompaniments under the spoiler were lovely to listen to. =D=
     
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks as always for reading, commenting, and being a faithful follower of this little series! :) The buildup of anticipation was definitely a challenge to write—it can be tough to get the pacing right in a scene like this, and I had to shuffle things around a lot and try putting the various events of the chapter in more than one order. So I’m very glad it came off successfully—thanks again! :)

    And I’m so glad you enjoyed the music! I put the song in our Lasat fanon post too. I really enjoyed coming up it, though I’ll say that “keeraw” is extremely difficult to rhyme with! :p I’ve always been in awe of fanfic writers who are also artists and can illustrate their own stories, characters, etc.—that’s not a skill I have, but music is, and when an opportunity comes up for me to integrate it with my fanfic, well, I’ll almost always take it! :D

    Thanks again, as always! @};-
     
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  14. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    (Another fantastic update. You have such a knack for world building! I love the level of detail you have here.
    You have to look UP! He's looking around at his level. She's UP. Again, he has to climb up to her. She's waiting for him!

    Gorgeous description. Did you have a RL inspiration for this? The description is almost like a gothic cathedral. I bet the acoustics are amazing in such a place for that Ryn musical group.

    I feel for Zeb. He's so anxious to see this Other Lasat. How awful to think that you're truly alone in the galaxy, that there is no one else who remembers your world, who knows your culture. It must be torture for him to wait for the Other.
    You had written earlier about a Lasan myth where there were the two celestial beings who were separated from each other, and who longed to be together. (I'm gonna go find it...)
    But the Seer does not truly weep in solitude. The Ashla stays always beside her—and here is what gives the work its name: the Ashla catches and preserves each of the tears she sheds, infusing each of them with its own light, then sends them out into the universe as grains of stardust or tiny star-beacons to illumine the night and guide the Child back to the Seer’s side. Oh, how fervently the Seer prays for that day, for when they finally stand together on the high places, all those fiery tear-sparks shall reunite to shine forth brighter than the light of all the star clusters—
    This is the very same thing. Zeb and Shulma belong together. But for Zeb, who has no expectations that he will ever see his Shulma again ( :(), even just being with another Lasat is of unspeakable importance. He wants, as we all do, to be with someone who knows his home.

    And there's the reference to the shaman and the book. Shulma and books are locked together. Shulma herself had found the book of Osthi; Shulma keeps a journal. It's a premonition.

    You know nothing, Garazeb Orrelios. :zeb: Be patient. Wait for it.
    BTW, nice job of drawing out the suspense here!!

    :eek: Who will it be? WHO WILL IT BE????
    [face_batting]

    Also, I really liked the idea that Sabine thinks that maybe Zeb is looking for a new "friend." This is kind of bittersweet. It's great in that he really can't put anything past Sabine, because they are so close. It shows that he and Sabine are truly emotionally in synch with each other that she can make observations like that. But it's sad at the same time, because surely that closeness between Sabine and Zeb means that she knows he lost a wife on Lasan. Having a new interest means that you have grieved the loss of the original one and you're ready to put it behind you.

    Yeah, that's Blue's cousin.

    Again with the climbing towards her. Again with the special stone for her.

    Wow. Poor Zeb. This is overwhelming to him. He has allowed himself to think of her as dead and gone - how else would he get by otherwise? Then to suddenly have this wild, unexplainable hope thrust at him ... He can't deal with it.

    GO GET YOUR MAN, QUEEN!!!

    This is awesome. Love every minute.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  15. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Gah, this is continuing to be so, so good! It's worth the wait, in every way - much as I imagine it will prove to be for Zeb and Shulma! I have such a smile stuck to my face, and I can't seem to shake it. So much about this story is a celebration - of both Light and Love, but also of this wonderful world you have helped create and built up for us to enjoy. All of that hard work is paying off in this amazing crescendo, so to speak, and I am enjoying every word. [face_love] :D

    Oh, how fitting! Once again, I appreciate how no detail is left behind in your work.

    Poor Zeb! Yep - he's definitely isn't having the happy, relaxing vacation that Sabine intended. He's being a good sport for his vod'ika, but this is rather outside the realm of his interests, I can imagine. And when he does find something that catches his eye, he's not allowed to participate. (Isn't it the opposite of Light and Love to be as speciest as that, honestly? :mad:[face_phbbbbt] It's bad when you can't tell if it's the Imperial control leeching off, or the unfortunate, casually humanoid slant of the galaxy as a whole. [face_plain])

    [face_laugh] A better use of irony there never was! Oh, Zeb, how you're going to eat those words . . . [face_tee_hee]

    Oh!!! Because of course she did, seeing her Zeblove there in the crowd, looking up at her. This was an excellent detail, again. We all know, even if Zeb doesn't. It'll click for him later. [face_love]

    That's what's so satisfying, working in a large, expanded universe such as this: more little details for your readers to catch and say: I see what you did there! What a good showing for our dear Telfien, You go, girl! :D

    [face_rofl]!

    This just grabbed my heart and twisted. He's already out of sorts and not really finding a place throughout the festival, and then to come and find this - because of course Shulma has found a way to reach him, taking her destiny into her own hands [face_love]. His shock and his pain was very real, and very visceral.

    Whew! More excellent, spot on in character introspection. You are ready, dear Zeb, more than you know! But it's understandable that he doesn't feel equal to the task - it's quite the mandate to fulfill. But, he's not going to have to do so alone, or at least I suspect . . . [face_thinking]

    She did wobble! She did! More excellent details here, as always. [face_love]

    As always, you have a deft hand with this lovely prose that sounds so appropriately lyrical for these ancient texts. I could just happily dive into all of these words. Yep: I'm beyond ready for the wrapping him in her cloak and letting her light enfold him. They're so close!

    I liked this bit here, even if it made me sad for Zeb. The little we were able to gain about Zeb's past in Rebels was revealed very grudgingly. It's a painful subject, understandably so, and I hate that he's cut himself off from a lot of memories, it seems, to protect himself. Even the language of his birth dulling in his memory attested to that. Hopefully, after he's reunited with Shulma, he can tell his comrades - his newfound family - more about what he lost. I know they are all waiting patiently for him to be ready to share! [face_love]

    Your descriptions are just so rich and wonderful. I could perfectly imagine the grandeur and spiritual quality of their surroundings. Stunning writing, again.

    BECAUSE THEY WOULD!!!! Wes, because I know it was you, how Sabine didn't turn you into a pin-cushion when she got her knives back, I'll never know. (In the NJO, the Wraiths call Tahiri 'Auntie Tahiri' as sort of a gag, no matter they're twice her age, for how their antics cross with her more no-nonsense take on things. Because they're total children, and Tahiri is left exasperated and twitching at their behavior at times. But she loves them, anyway. That's what their dynamic reminded me of here, in the best of ways. :p)

    Anyway, that brought back so many nostalgic feelings. The pilot!fic back here in the day was golden. [face_love]

    SO MUCH EPIC WORLD BUILDING PAYING OFF! :D [face_love]

    Oh, Zeb. I can imagine that he was done with pageantry, even back in the day for his own customs and celebrations! [face_laugh] [face_love]

    [face_rofl] [face_love]!!!!

    I just love how hard Sabine is trying, and how happy she is! It's contagious, her joy, and Zeb can't help but give in, just a little bit, no matter how preoccupied it is. And, oh boy, how you really played with the build-up here just had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation. Wow! I totally second what diva said about the feeling that they're 'climbing' towards each other again. What a great, thematic way to tie them together again!

    The juxtaposition between the joy and the merry making and the exuberance of the celebration with Zeb's shock and apprehension made me dizzy, in a way. It's so much, here, even overwhelmingly too much! And that's before -

    GAH!!!! I had to get up for a moment and walk this off, I couldn't handle the tension and anticipation. Of course that's how she chooses to reveal herself to Zeb. Of course, OF COURSE!!!

    !!!!!! (I am out of creative feedback here - my mind was just a flurry of exclamation points. :p [face_dancing] [face_love] :D)

    Whew! And all of that build-up and almost frenetic emotion had to break - and boy did it break! But not for nothing. Our lovers are so close, and now Shulma is going to go get her man - GO GET HIM!!!

    I truly, truly can't wait for the next part to this. Thank-you so much for sharing again. [face_love] [face_dancing] =D=


    (And oh! You wrote MUSIC, too!! I am beyond impressed. I'm not somewhere I can play that aloud right now, but as soon as I am I will come back with an edit for my thoughts. Because: wow! [face_love] :D =D=)


    [:D]
     
  16. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, poor Zeb! I’m saying that a lot during this story, aren’t I? :p But I mean it; poor Zeb—first with all the uncertainty and mixed emotions he’s still feeling at the prospect of Another Lasat mixed in with him being very much a fish out of water at the Days of Light and Love. I can see where he’d be totally frustrated going to all the foofy talks and parties and games, because they’re So Not His Thing. The longer they go on without him seeing any sign of the Other Lasat (And you’d sure think it would be easy to spot one. Well, it would if she wasn’t busy impersonating a laundry pile), the more anxious Zeb gets, until—-dun dun DUNNNN—the Big Coronation. Zeb’s ready to climb the walls (possibly literally, being a Lasat and all;) ) between all the karabasting waiting and Sabine’s Very Informative running commentary (maybe they should have brought Threepio after all; I’m sure he would have enjoyed exchanging cultural tidbits with her).

    Then the ceremony begins (and it’s probably a good thing they’re using the duplicate gems. I hate to think what would happen if they had the real Heart of Mak Gu Fina, given what happened with Leia in The Jewels of....WHAT?!?) Of course we know who’s hiding underneath that laundry pile and that it’s no coincidence that her Mystical Laser Pointer lands on Zeb, but it must seem to him and the other Rebels that fate has chosen the least likely sentient being in the Galaxy to be the queen’s Chosen Servant. Still, he gamely goes up...and then things really get surreal for him. Everyone’s watching him in this awkward situation and little details start to creep in—the Queen is humming, she’s tall, she has the scent of a Lasat. And she starts singing the Honor Guard hymn in Shulma’s voice. Poor Zeb. (Yeah, I know, but it’s worth repeating here). It’s no wonder he doubts is own sanity and bolts from the Temple post haste. “I don’t feel so good” has to be the understatement of the year, with all of the doubts and fears churning in his mind at that moment. I can imagine that he needs more than just a breath of fresh air to recover!

    And I can just bet it does make quite the stir when Shulma rushes after him! Unprecedented for a queen to act that way! Gasp! I can hardly wait to see what happens when she catches up to him.

    Bravo on another breathtaking chapter! You’re keeping us on the edge of our seats until next time! (Cue anticipatory SQUEE:D)
     
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Some further responses to your wonderful comments—thank you all, as always! :)

    Thank you so much! That compliment means a lot to me coming from someone who puts so much thoughtful detail and love into her own stories. @};-

    A very good piece of advice for him at this juncture! :D She definitely is waiting there on those high places...

    Thanks so much! There are several RL places that inspired the Mak-Gu-Fina Temple; one that might be familiar to you is Temple Emanu-El in NYC (partly the inspiration for the blue glass), but also a couple of synagogue buildings from the same era that are in Chicago (KAM Isaiah Israel, Temple Sholom). So I guess I see it as a bit sort of neo-deco-romanesque than gothic, though the jewel-like colored windows are definitely inspired by ones I've seen in various gothic and neo-gothic structures (Rockefeller Chapel in Chicago, National Cathedral, Cologne Cathedral, etc.) And yes, I definitely imagine the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina as having awesome acoustics! Come to think of it, they may even have a concert series there some times during the year... :D

    It is indeed! Every moment that passes without that Other showing up reminds him of just how alone he really is in the universe, and of how painful that is, and of how this might end up being just another false hope. :(

    Yes indeed—very good and apt observations there! And you probably noticed that the title of this story comes from that very same passage. It is indeed the very same thing—Osthi really was prophetic when she wrote all that down. ;)

    Spot on again! You see why I love my readers to death. :D And yes, again, the point of these various flashbacks/quotes/extracts from earlier Lasan Series stories is indeed to show that these things are all connected.

    Thanks so much! I’m glad it came off all right; writing this kind of buildup is tough and I went back and forth and around in circles a lot. Patience isn’t one of Zeb’s strong suits, of course, and that’s one of the things that makes this long wait all the more torturing for him. But it will pay off, oh, that it will!

    Ah, who indeed! :D She’s got a plan...

    Another spot-on observation here. She’s ribbing him (and may be doing so under just a smidge of the influence), but there’s definitely that bittersweet dimension to it. And of course we readers know how ironic, in a way, is his response of “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!”

    Ha! Not surprised that you noticed him. :D I went through several possible species for this random bystander, but one of the reasons I ended up making him a Barolian was definitely as an homage to you, Blue, and your work on that species. :)

    Yes! Yes! Leitmotif spotted. ;)

    Yes, exactly... just as he’s almost kinda sorta become resigned to his future, he’s hit with this wild, impossible blast from his past. On one hand it gives him hope; on the other hand, it’s so crazy and improbable that it registers almost more as bad news than good, if that makes sense—precisely because it is really the kind of thing that can drive one mad. Not to mention that this kind of jumble of feelings is an unaccustomed thing for such a straightforward, plainspoken type as Zeb is. He genuinely has no idea how to react.

    She won’t let him get away! You’ll see...

    Oh, thank you so much, as always—and I, in turn, love every minute of your keenly insightful comments! :cool: Always a true joy to have you here. @};-

    Thank you so much, as always! If I do say so myself, I'm pretty amazed at myself for bringing this series to this point, but what's even more amazing is having cool, insightful readers who have stuck with it all this way—so thank you, too, for making it to this crescendo with me! :)

    Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed that little touch! I will confess, I’ve been wanting to name a Star Wars starship that ever since I got to hear the men’s a cappella chorus called Amarcord in concert in Antwerp, Belgium almost ten years ago now. :D

    Yep—it's like adding insult to injury, and it makes the whole thing even more of a bummer. The humanoid slant has been there in at least some form since even before the Empire's time, though of course it became all the more so under the Empire, and in a way that's just ("just!") what people became used to. :(

    He definitely is, he most definitely is! :D

    It will indeed—just a matter of time. ;)

    Thanks so much, and good catch there! ;) Of course she too is there at the festival in support of her dear friend.

    Poor guy just can't win, can he! :p

    It is indeed just one thing after another for him, and finding this note indeed kind of overshadows all the rest. And the shock and pain, as you've probably noticed, is coloring both Zeb and Shulma's experiences as they move toward their reunion... it kind of was bound to, in a way, given how long it's been and all they've both suffered in the meantime.

    It is indeed a huge task—but I think you're suspecting right! Remember a certain Lasan tale of one celestial spirit hunting for another... ;)

    Indeed she did! After having felt not so much as a whit of her husband's Ashla presence for so many years, how could it not take her by surprise? And that, right there, is the signal she's been waiting for—that is the moment she knows that her previous visions have not been in vain.

    Aw, thank you so much, as always! :) This, of course, is one of those passages quoting an earlier Lasan Series story, and I am sure a perspicacious reader like you can see how it fits with this one! Stay tuned, because what this speaker describes
    will definitely happen.

    Exactly—that very thing was one of the most wrenching aspects of Zeb's character on the show, and one of the things that really got me feeling for him. (In a way the show could have found ways to reveal more, but in another way, I think fanfic may be better at that kind of thing anyway :p ).

    I agree that finding her again will go a long way toward helping him open up more—that is my plan, indeed. :D

    And again, thank you so much for those wonderful compliments, which are such an honor to receive from someone who's such a master of beautiful, lyrical, rich prose, yourself! ;) @};-

    HAH! Seconded! [face_laugh] And since you mention it, I'm now about 100% sure it was Wes, too. :p

    D'aww! I can totally imagine all of that!

    Oh, I know, indeed it was! :)

    Oh, indeed! Though that particular compliment really goes to @TheRynJedi—I just can't wait to see what she plans to do with this meeting. It has been so awesome having the chance to "interface" my story universe with hers. <3

    Yep, sitting around and watching pretty stuff happen is not the preferred M. O. for an action-oriented, physical type like himself, and that was indeed true even back on Lasan, too! :p

    Yep, typical Rogues, there... :p It was fun to bring them in as a little foil to the seriousness of the situation.

    Like a good vod'ika, she really and truly does want him to be happy, even if it means ribbing him a little! And let's face it, it's fun to tease someone like Zeb sometimes. :p

    Thanks so much! :) Again, I felt like I struggled to get all that Just Right (or at least close to just right), so I am doubly glad that it came off effectively in your opinion. :)

    Thanks again, because this was another area where I wasn't sure I was getting the balance (or, in a way, the imbalance) quite right. Which, again, goes along with the challenge that such a jumble of feelings is going to be for the very straightforward, plainspoken Zeb

    That was one thing I did know in preparing to write this scene—that music, song, had to be part of it somehow. That part was a given! :D

    I'll respond in kind, because that's just how I was in the course of writing this, too: !!!!!!

    She will, indeed, and like the female beloved in Song of Songs 3:4, she won't give up and won't let him go till she brings him into her chamber with her. <3

    Thank you, yet again, for being here and reading and enjoying, and if all goes well, you will not have to wait long! [face_batting]

    Well, shucks, thanks again. [face_blush] Again, I always am in awe of writers who can also illustrate their stories—and this is just the kind of "illustration" I'm able to provide. So glad you're enjoying it! @};-

    No worries, I was saying "poor Zeb" in my mind a lot while writing this, too! I feel a bit bad for putting him through all this, from the festival frustrations to the boring talks and parades, to the emotional turmoil occasioned by that one little note on the docking bay door, to the nervous strain of the ceremony, to the even greater nervous strain of being the Chosen Servant and hearing and seeing and senses all the things he does while walking up those altar stairs. But I do promise I'll make it up to him, asap! :p I think Threepio would definitely had a ball; he probably could have translated a lot of those ancient runes, for example. Ah, well, perhaps some other time! :D

    Ah, yes, very good observation based on
    the events of the "jewel heist" in Shaman, Traveler, Oracle! :D The most this crown jewel wil do is send up a pretty gleam of light—but I'm pretty sure the real one + temple + Shulma = some pretty trippy effects. (And now you've got me wondering what exactly those might be... aaghhh! bunnies! ;P ;) )

    In a way, he is the least likely, being the very concrete, nonmystical sort that he is—he's got the same "what do I do now" anxiety he had at
    the tomb of Osthi of Feldspar Falls in "I am my prayer to you."
    But that laundry pile knows exactly what that laundry pile is doing, and probably has ever since feeling his spark from atop the parade float! ;)

    Again, no worries at all—"poor Zeb" was exactly what I was feeling, too! He's just trying to Do His Duty in true Honor Guard fashion, here, and all these emotions and doubts and fears and strange sensations are getting in the way and making that difficult. It's no lie that he "doesn't feel so good"—he needs both the fresh air and the reflective time alone to try to sort it all out as best he can (and blow off some steam, too).

    Yes, she is breaking pretty much All Teh Protocolz here! :eek: And you won't have to wait long to see—that's right around the corner, if all goes well...

    Thanks so, SO much again, and a special thanks for your own very important role in the genesis of this story! :) It won't be long now...!
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  18. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    (Sorry, tablet not liking me quoting a large post, it’s freaked out on me twice, it posted a random giant quote in this post, I’ve deleted it)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  19. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    It’s on my list. I’ve got two other half-written SW stories to finish first, and a non-SW story my husband is begging me to finish. I have written the first couple paragraphs of the “Rebels-crossover”, though, and have an outline for the rest, so it will happen eventually...

    It’s been lots of fun collaborating with you
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    No worries at all, and no pressure intended at all—I know you have several projects in the works, all of which I'm looking forward to seeing whenever they happen to be ready. And I've really been loving collaborating with you, too! :)
     
  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Taking a deep breath before posting this chapter... you'll see why.

    Many thanks, once again, to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and for invaluable help and encouragement. @};-


    – IV. –

    Once the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina was out of sight, Zeb slowed his pace. He was in a vast, sloping, shrub-dotted meadowland that opened eastward onto bare, grassy prairie and ascended westward to rolling hills and distant, majestic redstone bluffs. It was a pleasant night, clear and starlit, not too cool and not too warm, and two blue-white moons shone down from opposite sides of the sky. Nocturnal insects were sending up their distant, sleepy chorus; here and there fireflies twinkled.

    Zeb stopped a moment to catch his breath and get his bearings. He was pretty sure he had seen hills or bluffs or both on the hoverbus ride from town, so that was the direction he turned his steps. He knew he should probably check his commlink compass to be sure, but he didn’t want to hang around, in case any inquisitive folk from the festival might have decided to follow him.

    So he walked on. And on. And on, as wispy clouds rolled in to screen the stars and the wind ruffled the shrubs. And, as always when he walked alone, he began thinking about things.

    He thought of that veiled laundry pile of a Festival Queen standing on the pyramidal altar structure back in the temple. Of the scent of his people and the song of his people, both which he’d sworn he’d caught coming from her. Of the note on the docking bay door, and of the task Wise Chava had charged him with that day aboard the Phantom, that day now so long ago: go forth, Child of Lasan, and bring the scattered remnants of your people to their new-ancient home.

    He thought of that new-ancient home. He hadn’t been able to stay long, but he remembered the lambent gold sky, the groves of intoxicatingly fragrant flowering trees. He remembered the thousands of green, brown, red, and amber eyes—Lasat eyes!—that had looked at him, so full of awe and hope, as he stepped out of the Phantom. He remembered the cliffs and bluffs, the most beautiful he had ever seen. They had been much like those now rising out of the ground before him, from loose stones to spiky outcroppings to ridges to lofty, sky-brushing heights. Only, instead of red, they had been bright, milky white—

    —like that Festival Queen, karabast her. That rag-heap Festival Queen who had smelled like a Lasat and sung like a Lasat and—

    Karabast, how could he have been so blind and stupid? He had had the opportunity to reach out to one of his people and bring them home. And what had he done? He had turned and bolted like a frightened pocket hare. He had shirked his duty to his people, all because of his silly fears and doubts. It had been a cowardly thing to do, unworthy of an Honor Guard of Lasan. If he could even be called that anymore…

    The bluffs now loomed before him in their full height, dawn-red and richly striated. With a roar of combined anger and exertion, Zeb jumped up and grabbed their craggy surface with all four appendages. His claws dug deep into the rock, sending red-gray rubble crumbling to the ground. Summoning all his native strength and agility, he began to climb, pulling himself from crag to crag, crevice to crevice, handhold to handhold. Higher and higher he went, and faster and faster, grappling with the rock face in ancient, elemental motions that were part combat, part dance, and as simple as walking. The grunts and curses of his effort pierced the still of the night. Rock dust continued to rain down with each mighty grip, and cliff-dwelling birds scattered from their perches. Higher still, faster still, fiercer still. If you can walk, you can climb, his people had always said—and there was nothing like a good climb for taking one’s mind off things and blowing off steam. Especially for blowing off steam.

    After some minutes Zeb paused to catch his breath and get his bearings. He was surprised to find himself more than halfway up, almost two-thirds of the way—well, that was what strong emotion could do, he supposed. Cautiously he turned his head to glance at the landscape below; it looked so strange with its tiny shrubs and hills and rocks, like a model or a toy. He was surprised at how much he could hear from up here and turned his ears side to side to take in the sounds: birds calling to each other, the chirping of nocturnal insects, the distant roar of speeder traffic from the main thoroughfare, the purling of a waterfall—

    A waterfall? Here? He hadn’t seen any rivers or streams or other bodies of water on his hike through the meadows. Though that didn’t mean there weren’t any…

    Zeb twitched his ears to follow the sound. It was coming from his right, from the north, and probably from not too far away. Very carefully, very slowly, he began to maneuver laterally and upward along the surface of the bluff, in a gradual diagonal line. Eventually a narrow ledge began to poke out from the striated rock, at just about the height of his neck. With some effort, he hoisted himself onto it, then pulled himself up to standing and began to move sideways along it, supporting himself with his hands.

    He followed the ledge, and the sound of the water, along the surface of the bluff until a sharp bend led him into a tightly curved, arc-shaped canyon. A small waterfall was indeed playing at its center, splashing merrily into a deep-cobalt pool below. Lush mosses patched the red rock around the cascade, while the flowers of small, saxicolous plants made occasional tiny splashes of color.

    It was beautiful scenery and all, but what really caught Zeb’s attention was the figure he saw atop the bluff, pacing beside the source of the waterfall. Wrapped in so many white cloaks or veils that it looked like a tent, and wearing what looked like... a crown?

    The Veiled Laundry-Pile Festival Queen?

    Here? How? Why? Karabast, now I’ve really gone crazy, part of him said. But even the stone in the crown was the right color. He hadn’t seen her—or anyone else—while walking through the meadow, but it was a big meadow...

    Right. Illusion or no illusion, Other Lasat or no Other Lasat, now was his chance to get this done with. Time for him to do it right. For Lasan. For Lira San.

    Zeb threw himself onto the rockface again and climbed with all his strength and speed, not stopping until he reached the top of the cliff. He walked up to face the veiled figure, inclining his head slightly and placing hand over fist in the traditional formal Lasat salute.

    “Er, hello there... I’m Zeb, and I... er... who are you?”

    The queen said nothing. First she took the tiara from her head and looped it over her wrist. Then she placed her hands, also completely wrapped in white, on Zeb’s hands and guided them to the hem of the veil that covered her face. Together, slowly, both pairs of hands began to lift it and pull it back.

    First the creamy, silky lilac fur. Then the wispy, wine-colored cheek stripes. The finely limned features. The emerald eyes with the deep inner glow.

    And finally the hair—the long, luscious midnight-purple hair.

    The Other Lasat.

    Her.

    “Shulma...” Zeb’s eyes gaped and his voice quavered. “No... no...”

    “Yes... oh Zeb, Zeblove, my Gara—”

    She crumpled forward onto his breast, overcome with tears. Zeb encircled her at once in his arms and pressed her tightly, vehemently close. It was no illusion. The feel of her against him, the scent of her hair, even the tender spasms of her weeping all said yes: yes, this is her.

    His Other Lasat. His Shulma. His beloved wife whom he’d failed to save from the Empire’s destruction, who had been lost for so many years—now back in his arms here on this red cliff, here on this strange world. Against all odds, against all reason.

    And NO! He was an Honor Guard and a seasoned freedom fighter and he was NOT going to—

    Too late. Burning tears had already filled his eyes and were streaming down his cheeks, soaking his beard and jaw-fringe. Squeezing his eyes shut and clenching his teeth only made them fall faster, hotter, and more heavily. Several times he tried to begin speaking: “Oh, darlin’,” then “H-how did you—,” then “Aw karabast”—but his words failed each time, swallowed up in tears.

    And just as the tears flooded his eyes, all the images of his years of loss and grief and pain flooded his mind, cascading through him in relentless torrents, racking him to his core. Lasan, his comrades and friends and family, his Rebel comrades who had become like family. So many and so much that had fallen to horrendous evil and that he had been powerless to save...

    He was just as powerless now, unable to do anything but stand there, feeling the tears burning on his face, clutching her close. Her, his Shulma, his Other Lasat. Lasan’s most precious treasure, safe from harm, here in his embrace.

    Lasan was here. Lasan was her.

    And then he found words again: “I’m sorry… Shulma, darlin’, I’m sorry—I’m really, really—”

    He broke off as she looked up at him, emerald eyes still streaming, and nuzzled her face against his, letting her tears mix with his. The sparkling drops on her cheek were like new nighttime stars. Karabast, she was lovely…

    He breathed in and struggled to continue. “I mean, I thought you were—y’know—after all that happened an’ all—”

    “Zeb, Zeblove… I’m here, love, and so—so are you—” Her voice quavered as a sob racked her. He gripped her; she collected herself and looked up at him again. “Oh, dearest… look at you…”

    “Yeah, look at me… I’m a right mess...”

    “No, no! You’re my same dear Zeb—only—” She stopped short and her eyes widened. With a trembling finger she traced gently from his brow ridge down around his eye, then followed the path the tears had left on his cheek. “Only there’s a light shining in you…”

    Zeb shifted, heat blooming in his face with her every tiny motion. Finally he managed a chuckle of sorts. “This one of your mystic things?”

    “Yes, I’m afraid so.” She smiled for a moment through her tears, then her finger continued downward to stroke his fringe. “Oh, Zeblove, they destroyed almost everything, but they couldn’t destroy your hope and your strength and your pride, and you haven’t had to endure it all alone, and that’s—that’s what the light is—and, oh”—she gasped as she touched his brow ridge again—“you’ve been through the Maze, I can feel it—you’ve seen Lira San! Oh, it was you, it was you!”

    “Darlin’, darlin…” Zeb sighed and lowered his eyes even as he took Shulma’s hand from his face and kissed it. For a few moments he stood there, squeezing her hand in both of his, listening to the splashing of the waterfall and the distant keening of the insects, and not wanting to look at those beautiful, piercing emerald eyes. How could he when the old feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and unreadiness were rushing back over him?

    And yet—at the same time—to be here, so close to her...

    “Look, er… we’ll go there together someday, it’s beautiful… but… I, er…”

    “But what?”

    “Well… sometimes I think about it, an’... maybe it shouldn’t’ve been me. It should’ve been you. Or... one o’ your shaman friends or or somethin’. But not me. Definitely not me.”

    “Why not, love?”

    “Because… because I just dunno if I’m really worthy o’ this. I’m just a soldier, not a—an’ what if—I mean, I already failed us once before, an’—”

    “Zeblove!” Shulma placed both hands urgently around his neck. “You did not fail us the first time and you most certainly will not fail us now!”

    “Aw, darlin’...” He sighed, once again looking downward. (But that touch, those whispersilken fingerpads on him…) “If only y’ knew…”

    “I do know. You are worthy.” So saying, she took one side of the long white cloak from her shoulder and began to wrap it around her husband’s shoulders, drawing him close so that their brow ridges touched. “Who could possibly be more worthy than the Last Warrior of Lasan?”

    “Aw, er, well…” Zeb felt himself leaning closer, his nose brushing hers, his hand moving under the cloak to encircle her waist.

    “Who is the Child of Lasan, the hope of the future and of all eternity…” Closer, nuzzling his cheek and his beard. “And who is only a fool when he underestimates his own infinite worth…”

    “Heh… yeah… I guess…” Oh, her breath on his face, her scent, so sweet and so very Lasat—

    That was it. He couldn’t hold back any longer. Neither could she.

    They kissed.

    Everything was in their kiss. The gleam of the starlight, the redness of the cliff, the song of the waterfall. All the strength, beauty, and vibrance of the Lasat people, persisting against all odds. All the joy of their bright days on Lasan: its sunwashed cliffs, its majestic forests, its purple-gold skies. All the destruction and horror of the Siege, the searing pain of their losses, the sorrow of their long exile. All the friendships that had brightened that exile, all the joyful companionship that had brought them hope when there was no hope. The sparkling brightness of all their tears, all their smiles. And all the splendor and promise of Lira San.

    For Lira San was here. Lira San was her.

    Yes: all the fullness and brightness of the new-ancient homeworld was there, between them and around them and within them, in the passionate press of lips against lips, nose against nose, fur against fur, scent against scent.

    And all the while the breeze breathed around them, the waterfall sang to them, and the stars and moons glittered down on them as they stood there, together, on the high places.

    to be continued

    Zeb’s reminiscences of his visit to Lira San at the end of “Legends of the Lasat” are pure speculative headcanon on my part. Even though we heard zero about his time there in the show itself, how could it not have been a breathtakingly beautiful place, and how could it not have made an impression on him?
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

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

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    That was GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS AND SO SQUEELICIOUS! The setting, the tender words and the embrace and kiss, and mingled tears.

    Thank you for sharing, for giving us this wonderful OTP!!!

    [:D] ^:)^
     
  23. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh this was delicious.

    Poor Zeb. He is so hard on himself. Which is really tough, because he has every right to feel sorry for his situation and to give himself some slack. He is displaced, he has lost everyone he loved (which makes me think of his brother - whatever became of him?) - he has every right to be easy on himself. But he does just the opposite - he holds himself to a higher standard than ever. He demands so much of himself. :(

    And now the motif comes to the fore. He WILL climb, for everything he has, for everything he values; clawing and scratching his way up the steep and imposing sides of the cliff. He won't give up. He will push himself to do just a little more, move just a little higher.@};-

    [face_love][face_love][face_love][face_love]
    It must be literally unbelievable. Zeb has to rewrite everything he has accepted - that his personal past is irretrievably gone, that he has had to create a new person for himself. No wonder he broke down. Everything he has never allowed himself to hope for has been ripped open.

    Oh my stars. This line. THIS LINE. She is everything good about Lasan. She is their history, their culture, their religion - everything. She has survived. Lasan has survived. After every attempt to destroy it, Lasan - and Shulma - have survived. Despite their efforts, the Empire failed in the end. This justifies everything he has fought for. She is the living memory of Lasan.

    And she is the living future of Lasan. Shulma is the promise of the future, and the beauty of the past. Everything that was worth saving lives in her, every promise worth keeping lives in her.

    :D Ah, Karabast. So darn wonderful.:*:*:*:*:*
     
  24. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    SQUEE! I think I’ve been looking forward to seeing this scene come to fruition as long as you have, and it does not disappoint! :zeb: [face_love]

    You start off with one of your trademark vivid settings, a beautiful, tranquil evening that contrasts with the roiling emotions that Zeb is going through as he walks, and walks and walks some more after he flees the Coronation (much as he waited and waited and waited some more at the Coronation). And he thinks of things he’d rather not think of —of Chava and the task she gave him, of Lira San, and of the Queen, the Other Lasat he’d been seeking. They’re all tied together in a tangle of guilt and inadequacy for not reaching out to the Other Lasan, though really, who could blame him for feeling the way he did when she started singing? (I don’t know what Shulma planned to do if Zeb hadn’t left, but in a way it was kind of unfair of her to start singing that hauntingly familiar melody while she was still veiled and featureless. She’d had time to plan and accept that Zeb was alive, but he had no clue).

    In his frustration Zeb throws himself into a climb—a good way to clear one’s head, but I wonder if it isn’t also a way to prove that he’s still strong and capable, a Manly Man (given that the Lasats’ ritual of manhood involves climbing). Climbing the bluffs brings him to an even more beautiful (and romantic) setting, complete with waterfall (waterfalls are always romantic, as his space!bro could tell him)....and lo and behold, who should be there but the Veiled Laundry Pile Queen herself! Having gotten himself back on track emotionally, Zeb summons up his inner Honor Guard and vows to Do It Right This Time. Once again, he climbs up to her, but instead of answering when he asks her name, she takes his hands and guides him in drawing back her veil, and....

    “SQUEE” does not begin to cover it! Oh my gosh, the first time I read this, it was a good thing no one was there to see me on the edge of my seat, grinning like an idiot and trying not to go “squeeeeeeeeeee”! Like I said, I’ve been looking forward to reading this moment for a long time, and the Big Reveal was everything I could have hoped for and then some [face_love] You capture her beauty and his astonishment in those few short sentences, and I love how Shulma isn’t just the Other Lasat, she’s his Other Lasat, the one who means the most to him of all Lasats, his other half, his very world. But even at a moment like this, he still tries to be all Honor Guard, and karabast it, he’s too strong to... too late :D

    And motif spotted in the tears—they recall Ravanne’s healing tears from the story in “Three Strands” and of course all of Osthi’s mentions of the Seer’s tearsin her prophecies. Indeed, here atop the cliff is the fulfillment of her prophecy in Shining Tears for the Absent One” as the Seer and Child are reunited, and she wraps him in her cloak and soothes his fears and doubts. And neither of them can hold back anymore; cue me grinning and squeeing again for the Big Kiss;

    This is just perfect. The kiss is starlight and waterfall, strength, hope and love, smiles and tears... it reminds me of the kiss at the end of The Princess Bride:

    The kiss is home, Lasan and Lira San, all in one. They are together. [face_love] [face_love] [face_love]
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    You are so, so welcome, ma'am! :D I aim to please, and am glad that this did please. I've been looking forward to writing it for a long time, if I do say so myself. @};-

    Why, thank you! I appreciate that compliment very much and am so glad you enjoyed this. (Yes, I'm a broken record, but I mean it all! @};- )

    Alas, isn't that so often how it goes? Calamity and trauma on that scale can really bring out that self-critical impulse in a big way, especially with people who habitually held themselves to high standards before (which I imagine Zeb must have, as an Honor Guard—which he still is, how miserable soever he feels in this moment). As to Shai (dear Shai! [face_love] ), @Raissa Baiard already has at least one story about what happens to him after the siege, and I know she's got some further plans for him, too; his story is definitely not over, either. <3

    Yes indeed—going a little higher, doing a little more, taking things the extra mile or two has always been the Zeb way, especially for the ideals of honor he holds dear.

    "Ripped open" is a great way of putting it, because that's really how calamitous and almost traumatic this reunion is for Zeb right now. It is indeed causing him to rethink everything he thought he knew about putting his past behind him. Past, present, and future are coming together in strange and wonderful ways in this moment, as you very rightly go on to say below—to say it's a lot to take is a huge understatement!

    And, in that same spirit of present and past uniting, I'll respond to these next two together:

    Bang on. :) The past of Lasan, the present here on Khorassan, and the future of Lira San are united in her, in them, in this moment, in that kiss, etc. It's (or is supposed to be) one of those kairos-type "permanent moments." And it is one they will always remember.

    Well, shucks karabast, thank you for a comment that was so darn wonderful and for readership that always is. @};-

    Thank you so much! And many thanks, as always, for being by my side with so much encouragement during the writing of this—it was very much one of those "oh shoot this is important and I don't want to mess this up but I probably will" type situations, and the encouragement went a very long way.

    It was rather fun to apply the age-old "walking alone in nature while thinking deep, emotional thoughts" trope to a character many folks don't necessarily associate with either walking alone in nature or deep, emotional thoughts (though that would be unfair of those folks, especially in the latter case!). Now that he's away from all the hustle and bustle of the festival, he can reflect a bit on his feelings and on all the things that happened at that coronation ceremony. Your point about Shulma is well taken; I think in a way she did let her anticipation and excitement at seeing her husband again get away from her a bit there, without considering what effect it might have on him. But once she knows and sees, she will more than make up for it. <3

    Yes, I think there is definitely some of that at work in Zeb's climb. That kind of physicality, that kind of impulse to prove himself through his physicality, is so much a part of this character, and I felt that incorporating a good climb would be the perfect way to make this truly a Zeb scene and to build up his courage for his second chance at reaching out to the Other Lasat. As you point out, it is also helping him get back to a state of emotional equilibrium—at least for the time being, anyway, because what he sees when he pulls back that veil will send his emotions in directions he never could have anticipated! I have to say it was a wonderful experience to revisit the climb scene in The Beginning of Honor for inspiration, and that Zeb's climb in this scene was very much inspired by that one.

    Oh, thank you so, so much—I'm so glad that moment had that effect! Again, I angsted a lot about Getting This Just Right, precisely because I too had been looking forward to writing this moment for a long time. Also, because "reuniting with long-lost spouse" is not a situation with which I have any personal experience (thank goodness, I guess!), I wanted to make sure I was giving Zeb the right mix of disbelief and astonishment, but not without at least some joy.

    Very good, indeed—I see you know your Lasan Series (and related works)! :D No surprise there, of course, given your active role in the series since its inception. ;) Osthi of Feldspar Falls and the ancient Naboo authors of the story of Raavané and Sond would definitely have had a lot of notes to compare, a lot to say to each other—and those old fairy stories can be very prophetic in their way. (Note that Sond and Raavané finally found each other in the mountains, in the "high places," too.)

    Oh, well, now, that is very, very high praise indeed. I'm floored. Thank you. [face_blush][face_blush][face_blush]

    Yes, yes, yes! They are together again, and they are home in each other. It's almost hard to believe they're now at this point! @};- :zeb: And this, too, was a spot where I had the combined feelings of "oh no, I'm gonna make a botch of this important moment" and "yay, I get to write another Zebma kiss!" :*

    Thank you all, as always, for being part of this story and this series! =D= Final chapter forthcoming soon, barring all catastrophe.
     
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