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Saga - Legends The Book of Gand (mostly OCs)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    Ooooooh, interesting. ;)

    I like how the Ritual of Discernment seems to be one that focuses on reason and logic, rather than pulling the right answer out of the ether without the subject having had the knowledge to come by them. It would seem that the object is to emphasize that one shouldn't ignore reality in favor of the Mists...
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent balance of temperaments between the examiners. I think Zuckuss is comporting himself very well in the face of the pressure of being examined at all and then the implications of the first question. [face_thinking]
  3. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Glad to see this is back in business again! :D Love the descriptions of the world of Gand as always -- it sounds like such a richly detailed and beautiful environment. =D= The scene with Zuckuss's examination was fascinating, and just as mysterious-but-foretelling as the first.
  4. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    And one of my all-time favourite fics is back on track [face_love] with all its attention to details of ceremonies, of biology, of body language but also the hints at unspoken tensions between characters. Does Okkfel have a reason to be unfriendly to Zuckuss? How did Zuckuss feel about being told how much he looks like his father? And wouldn't he be a bit headstrong by any chance? Oh, and what happened with the missing artifact? I'm all for a regular update schedule, because I'm impatient to know what happens next!
  5. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    Yea! :D It seems that the instruction in the posture for the Ritual of Discernment hasn't been taught until this point and is being used to determine how well Zuckuss can both concentrate but also adapt to new situations. I'm looking forward to the hunt and more material to read on my next break from the chore of my RL writing duties.
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all, as always, for your thoughtful and perceptive comments. It's no exaggeration to say that they never fail to give me new perspectives on my own writing. @};-

    That's definitely an interesting perspective on the ritual, and one that I confess hadn't occurred to me. I wonder, too, whether those things aren't necessarily considered such a strict dichotomy in the Gand worldview... [face_thinking]

    Thanks so much! I imagine these various Findsman examinations as being very high-pressure, physically and emotionally—and I imagine that the examiners adjust level of that pressure very specifically to match the abilities and individual characteristics of each student. Obviously the examiners have picked up some inkling in the Mists of this particular student's future career. Furthermore, the dean of the temple herself doesn't turn out for the examination of just any student.

    Well, shucks. [face_love] That's a huge compliment coming from you, and I'm glad to oblige. Those are all excellent questions, and now I'm kicking myself slightly for having failed to answer them with sufficient clarity in this chapter. Okkfel's unfriendliness is meant to just be his personality; he's simply the type of teacher who uses harsh criticism as a tool to push his students to achieve at a higher level (which some students out there find helpful. The young Zuckuss has long been used to getting comments on his similarities to his father (see chapter 6 above), so that in and of itself doesn't necessarily bother him—but you will see him getting headstrong in the very next chapter. As for the missing artifact, it'll be back, never fear. ;)

    I'm afraid I haven't been very good about the regular update schedule so far ([face_blush]), but I will try to rectify that. (No Yoda quotes, please! :p )

    Yes, that's certainly part of the idea. And even if the posture has indeed already been taught (and I know I don't make that clear, perhaps on purpose :p ), there's still the challenge of adjusting to a new set of standards; Okkfel is certainly much more of a stickler than whatever previous instructors Zuckuss may have had (who after all were dealing with groups of students rather than individuals).

    And now, on with the hunt (such as it is)!

    Chapter VIII

    Two hours passed. Zuckuss had by now scanned over the entire complex of the Lhúdanswani temple in the eye of his intuition and had determined at least the approximate location of each of the objects and beings listed. His rhythmic breathing provided fuel for the vision, keeping the colors clear and the outlines sharp. Now it was just a matter of committing it all to memory so that he could go forth to retrieve his quarry and bring it before the three Masters.

    But he was finding it difficult to do so. He was not sure why; this kind of hunting exercise had never been hard for him before, not even when it involved hunting for his fellow apprentices or temple servants or any other being that could move from place to place. Part of it, of course, was this business with his posture; he was loath to incur Okkfel’s wrath any more than absolutely necessary. But he knew that was not all. Luyen’s mysterious words were haunting him, eroding his concentration. When your own turn comes, she had said—his own turn to leave his homeworld, finally and inevitably. When, and how, and why? Curiosity ate away at him, even as he struggled to channel his intuitive energy toward the hunt at hand. And now that the mystical imprints of the hunted objects glimmered before him, he felt he could no longer resist it; it was growing, creeping across his mental view of the temple like a dank evening fog . . . then suddenly spinning up into a whirling, rushing darkness that enveloped the whole of Gand, dispersing her sacred Mists and scattering her Findsmen like frightened gryckle-chicks throughout the galaxy . . .

    “But if the time of the Uncanny One really is at hand—”

    Zuckuss felt himself speaking these words aloud but stopped short, realizing suddenly that the voice issuing from his throat was somehow not his own. Was it was his father’s? Volokoss’s? Okkfel’s? Or was it the voice of some long-dead Findsman of yore? Of Trynfor himself . . . ?

    Suddenly pair of glowing golden orbs—were they eyes?—flashed before him, momentarily blinding out his mental image of the temple before dying away just as suddenly. And then a voice, this time close and familiar:

    “So it is true!”

    He became aware of a hand on his shoulder, and his eyes twitched open almost against his will. One of his examiners had just performed the technique called Hand of Rescue, used to stop the meditation of another—and Zuckuss noticed, to his great consternation and disgust, that it had been Okkfel.

    “What was the meaning of that, Apprentice Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd?”

    “Apologies, Findsmaster Okkfel . . .” came the quiet response. “It was nothing . . . just a distraction . . .”

    “Then banish it from your mind and begin again.”

    “Yes, Findsmaster Okkfel.”

    “A true Lhúdanswani Findsman must let nothing distract him. Nor does he waste his energy on needless chatter. Understood?”

    Yes, Findsmaster Okkfel . . .” Zuckuss bit his tongue with his inmost mandibles, wishing he could banish his vexation with another Stillness of the Fog.

    “Now be gentle on the youth, Okkfel,” put in Volokoss. “Is it any surprise that the coming of the Uncanny One is of concern to him, being as he is of the Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd?”

    “Immaterial,” retorted Okkfel, his exoskeleton making an unpleasant crunch as he crossed his arms tightly before him. “He was not asked to hunt for the Uncanny One. And he should know”—here he glared sidelong at Zuckuss—“that no one can hunt for the Uncanny One. The Uncanny One is the zaviir beyond all zavr’aii. Do not tell me Fengor Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd did not teach his son that.

    This reminder of his father’s coldness was too much for Zuckuss. His mandibles ground in anger as he jumped to his feet and struck Okkfel mightily in the thorax, sending him crashing backward into the corner of the bookcase. An incense lamp that had been sitting on one shelf fell to the floor, shattering instantly.


    Hoisting himself to his feet with an agility surprising for his bulk, Okkfel grabbed Zuckuss by the collar of his robe and struck him violently against the wall. Zuckuss shrieked in pain, not only at the blow but also at the painful electrical feedback shooting into him through Okkfel’s clenched hands.

    “ENOUGH!” Luyen interposed herself, freeing Zuckuss from Okkfel’s grip. “Taagu, let the youth go! And Apprentice Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, what in the name of the Holy Madman did you mean by such behavior toward a Findsmaster?”

    Seized by sincere shame at this admonition from the dean of the temple, Zuckuss shrunk back and made a deep obeisance.

    “Gand apologizes most humbly, Findslady Luyen . . . Findsmaster Okkfel . . . Gand behaved shamefully . . .”

    Volokoss was soon at the young apprentice’s side, helping him up from his slumped position against the wall. “Now, your feelings are only natural, young one, but—”

    “No need, Volokoss, Findslady Luyen.” Okkfel’s large, rough mandibles clacked as he straightened his robes. “It gladdens Okkfel to see that the youth is not completely devoid of spirit. He has the makings of a fine warrior. Taagu should not have underestimated him.”

    Befoggèd right you shouldn’t have, thought Zuckuss to himself, smoothing his own robes and returning to the meditation couch.

    Luyen stood silent in thought for a moment, then gave a little click.

    “Well, it certainly does take no small amount of spirit to stand up to Luyen’s esteemed colleague here. You are forgiven this time, Apprentice Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd. But not a second time.”

    Zuckuss bowed slightly. “Understood, Findslady Luyen.”

    “Now, breathe for a moment . . . return to balance . . .” He obeyed, closing his eyes as he inhaled and exhaled three times. “There. Are you ready now to continue your hunt?”

    Zuckuss bowed slightly. “Yes, Findslady Luyen.”

    She raised her hand in a gesture of combined command and blessing. “Then go forth and hunt, in the name of the Sacred Visionary Mists.”

    * * *

    The rest of the hunting exercise went smoothly. Even more so than Zuckuss had expected; it was as though lashing out at Okkfel had banished his anxiety and given him a new measure of intuitive clarity. With the luminous mental map of the temple before him in his mind’s eye, he searched efficiently and effortlessly through the halls and chambers of the Lhúdanswani temple. Upon finding each required object, he placed it carefully in one of the inner pockets of his robes, taking care not to place the more fragile objects with anything that might damage them; the smallest scratch on any of them would be grounds for disciplinary action, invalidating the hunt. The six beings he had been tasked with hunting—the three servants, the two apprentices, and the secretary droid—accompanied him wordlessly and without resistance, for every denizen of the Lhúdanswani temple was well accustomed to this kind of exercise. Only the droid, a slightly out-of-date modified courier model, emitted the occasional querulous bleep as it was led through the glowing hallways. Not more than two hours had elapsed before he and those for whom he had hunted stood before the door to the examination room.

    Zuckuss tapped discreetly on the door with his claw, then waited a moment. But there was no answer. He waited again, then tapped again; again there was no answer. Then he put his hand to the door handle and turned it as quietly as he could.

    All three of the senior Findsmen were seated in an attitude of deep meditation, with their eyes closed and their hands folded in their laps. Each was a model of absolutely correct Lhúdanswani posture. The room was completely quiet except for occasional minute hisses of breath.

    Zuckuss stood for several moments looking at them, then glanced back at his mock captives, then back at his meditating examiners. He was not sure how to proceed. He did not want to disturb his three examiners in their meditation, yet he also felt that he should do something and not just stand there like a gak-graak in the salt flats of Rhai’úthaa (as, he noted to himself with some amusement, Findsmaster Okkfel might say). At last, he decided to pass the time by removing the found objects from his pockets one by one and placing them as quietly as he could on various pieces of furniture around the room. He made a careful heap of the shockstun cartridges on a low table; he laid the matching vibroblades side by side, in order of size, on one shelf of the bookcase. All the while his mock captives stood quietly behind him. Some gazed in awe at the stately, motionless forms of the three meditating Findsmasters; others glanced around, taking in the room; yet others shuffled slightly in mild impatience, even as they maintained the requisite uncomplaining silence.

    At last Zuckuss reached into the inner breast pocket of his cloak to retrieve the miniature portrait of his ancestor, Zukfel Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd . . .

    —He is undisciplined and his technique is slipshod. Better should be expected of the son of the Guardian.

    Zuckuss looked up suddenly, his hand still on the small, framed shellackoid oval. It was as though words, phrases, thoughts, had materialized soundlessly but unambiguously within his mind. Yet he thought he knew what voice would have gone with those words had they been spoken aloud . . .

    —But you must admit, his courage is admirable. And again; these words would have belonged to a different, but equally familiar, voice. And his natural talents are great. His technique will refine itself naturally with time.

    “Is something amiss with Your Mystical Honor?”

    Zuckuss jumped at the sound of a real, audible voice. It belonged to one of the three female temple servants, one with purple-gray chitin who assisted in the healing wing, and she had run to his side.

    “Yes . . . that is, no . . .” Zuckuss noticed that he had withdrawn his hand from his pocket and placed it to his temple as if in response to pain; he put it down at once and drew back from the healing servant’s approach. “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd is not impaired . . . it will pass…”

    Again the first silent interlocutor spoke.

    —Talent without discipline is useless. He will need a strong hand to guide him on the correct path in his studies.

    —No, no, it is gentler guidance that he needs. There is much that is troubling him deep within, and too hard a touch will only trouble him more.

    —Those troubles will only impede him. With these words Zuckuss felt a sudden twinge of cold. He must uproot them from his soul if he is to become a true Findsman.

    —Does he really? Nowhere in the sacred writings of Gand does it say that the Findsman must relinquish his natural emotions. Even the deepest fears and troubles can become a source of strength when channeled properly. And he will learn how.

    —What is this, Ratokk? Zuckuss flinched as the cold sensation intensified, now feeling like a frosted dagger piercing his brain. Have you become a soft Krúvanswani?

    —Peace, Taagu. A third interlocutor now interposed, speaking words that would have resonated with the grave voice of the Lhúdanswani dean. Do not speak of what you do not know. Both of you shall leave this to be discussed later, for the youth has returned.

    At these words the three Findsmasters opener their eyes, rose, and turned to face Zuckuss and his group of captives. Zuckuss immediately stood at attention and bowed to them in the customary manner, and the group behind him followed suit. Luyen first gestured to Volokoss and Okkfel, who began to sort systematically through the objects Zuckuss had left on the tables, ensuring that all of them were there and that none of them were damaged. Then Luyen approached the six mock captives, counted and inspected them as though they were troops, then proceeded to dismiss each of them except the secretary droid one by one with soft words and gestures of blessing. To the droid she simply whispered a few instructions before sending it away.

    Through it all Zuckuss stood still and watched, his gaze moving from Luyen to the captives and to Volokoss, Okkfel, and the found objects in turn. Had these three august Masters been able to sense him eavesdropping on their meditative deliberations? It was not as though he had meant too, after all . . . Their expressions—as staid and expressionless as ever—offered no clue. Yet there again, growing with each moment, seeming to creep from the very core of his eyes, was that same cold ache in his head. Certainly they know. How could they not . . . ?

    After a few minutes Luyen dismissed the last of the mock captives, the healing servant with the purple-gray chitin. The other two Findsmasters were still engaged in counting the objects placed on the shelf and table when once again Zuckuss felt the silent words obtruding on his consciousness, and with them the same pang of piercing cold:

    —The Flygg shellackoid. Everything is here except the Flygg shellackoid.

    Zuckuss started at these words: had he really forgotten to retrieve one of the objects on the list? Failure to retrieve anything less then all of them would mean he had failed the test and would be banned from continuing his apprenticeship . . .

    Quickly he checked the four inner pockets of his cloak. There indeed, in one of the breast pockets, was the round, smooth outline of the miniature portrait, which he had forgotten to remove.

    Another soundless mental voice cut in. Is it not on the shelf beside the vibroblades?

    —No. It is neither there nor on the table. He has obviously failed to find it.

    —Are you absolutely certain? put in the third speaker. Look again. It would be almost impossible for him not to find it.

    —Okkfel assures both of you that it is not there. He has clearly not found it. Your precious Uncanny One has failed.

    The icy pain in Zuckuss’s head was now stronger than ever. He could no longer hold back. Straightening up, he strode over to Okkfel, drew the portrait from his pocket, and held it up before the senior Findsman’s face.

    “Begging your pardon, Findsmaster Okkfel.” He spoke firmly but calmly. “Zuckuss has not failed.”

    Okkfel jumped, his mouthparts clacking open in surprise. He was speechless as he took the small oval portrait and stood looking at it, almost scrutinizing it, for a few moments, as if ensuring that it was the correct object. The other two Findsmasters watched, and Zuckuss noticed that neither of them could stifle a few clicks of amusement.

    “Well, befog this old Taagu, there it is,” he murmured at last, then turned hastily to the Lhúdanswani dean. “With your permission, Findslady Luyen, as was agreed upon . . .”

    Luyen made a gesture of approval with her hand, upon which Okkfel handed the portrait back to Zuckuss.

    “You should really keep this, young one. It is yours by right.”


    The term zaviir was established in SW:TOR (see; the plural zavr'aii was made up by me.

    Pretty much all the other Gand terminology in this chapter is my own creation, and most of it is described in my Glossary of Gand Findsman Techniques, Rituals, and Terminology in the Fanon thread. I'll be adding to that list as needed (or trying to).

    By the way, if there's anything anyone thinks I should be explaining in these notes that I'm not, then please let me know! :)
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent. I think Zuckuss is a challenge and surprise to all. Volokoss and Luyen are firm-handed but fair. I think either would be a beneficial and invaluable mentor/guide for Zuckuss. I like his outspokenness. He is not easily cowed or intimidated. [face_thinking]
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  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Getting headstrong, as in assaulting a master whose comment he didn't like and revealing on his own that he was eavesdropping on the trio's meditation? [face_laugh]

    I have a million questions on this chapter again, but the most important one is: what enabled Zuckuss to listen to the three masters' mental conversation? Zuckuss is obviously a very talented apprentice, but it seems like either he doesn't control his own power, or that the masters took him for a ride.

    On the detail front, I loved it all (again!) -- the description of the tasks, the objects, the "captives", the discreetly grumpy droid :p -- but my favourite tidbit from this chapter has got to be the different feel of each mental voice. When Okkfel "spoke" I could literally feel a shiver running down my spine :eek:
  9. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Wonderful chapter. :D And I also noticed and liked the droid -- some cousin of Threepio, maybe. ;) I'm fascinated as always by the Gand mysticism and how they parallel the Jedi. Debates about emotion, responsibility, and control but from a different perspective and with ever-so-slightly shifted priorities. Nifty!
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks! I am indeed trying to get across the idea that these masters, even the more understanding ones, don't quite know what to do with a student like this one. And at the same time, Zuckuss has to deal with the challenge of walking the fine line between his own outspoken tendencies and the strictures of Gand protocol. (I've left it up to the reader whether his rather extraordinary growth treatment at the end of part 1 plays into this.) So there's a certain amount of awkwardness happening on all sides. By the way, thanks again for your invaluable help in beta-reading this. @};-

    Well, yes, pretty much. :p

    Oh, gee, once again a very apt question that makes me feel like I didn't do the best job of clarifying things. [face_blush] Control is certainly an issue for him at this point (see above); I guess what I'm trying to get at with this scene is that his powers do include the ability to eavesdrop on telepathic conversations like this, but he hasn't really learned to regulate it much yet—which is what makes the act of "listening in" kind of a painful experience for him (compare his eavesdropping on his father's vision in chapter 5).

    Why, thanks! Details like that are some of my favorite things to write. :D I'm glad the mental voices sounded different enough from each other and not too corny; it can be hard sometimes making that kind of telepathic communication not come off as stereotyped.

    Thanks so much—that means a lot to me coming from someone who's done such a beautiful job writing about the Force and Force powers. :) I'm relieved that came off all right; there, too, too, it can be challenging writing control-and-emotion debates like this without them sounding too stereotyped or Jedi-like. Not that there's anything wrong with the Jedi, of course, and probably such debates come up in just about every mystical tradition in the Galaxy—but yes, since this is a different mystical tradition, "a different perspective and... ever-so-slightly shifted priorities" is indeed what I'm going for (perfect way of putting it!).

    And finally, many, many thanks to those who nominated this story for Best Canon and Best Epic in this year's fanfic awards. That really means so much coming from such a swell bunch of readers. @};-
  11. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Congrats on the nominations! :D I'm thrilled to see this in there. [face_dancing]
  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I have gone through most of what you have so far and I like the way you, as an author, don't simplify things for your readers. I remember that dragging me to Richard Adams when I was nine years old and that's something that makes a piece complete. I will be spamming leaving belated comments shortly.

    The only thing I don't like is the custom font, as I need to enlarge it beyond belief in order to see anything. I get its artistic value, but it tends to be smaller than all others.

    EDITED ON JUNE 10TH: On my initial read, I read the first five chapters. Booy, do I choose when to stop. This is why I was so blissfully naive about the most obvious thing in the story.
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  13. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    I like Zuckuss. I like how he's a bit ackward and unsure of himself and yet at the same time very sure of his abilities. I wonder what it is about the portrait and the link to his ancestor that triggered the ability to overhear the conversation of the others. [face_thinking] And you have done a great job capturing the essence of another Force tradition and how they might tackle some of the universal questions that a connection with the Force brings up. Bravo!
  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    I just spent my late afternoon and evening immersed (again!) in the magical world of the Gand and I enjoyed this story even more during this second read. This is a fic that definitely deserves the nominations it got and more -- not only is it unique among the fics I've read so far in dealing exclusively with an alien species that plays a very minor role in the EU, but it also develops that species, its culture and its religious/mystical practices to a degree of sophistication that I've never seen anywhere, not in fanfic and not in profic. Plus, it's just beautifully written. I hope we get to read more soon :)

    EDIT: I added "that plays a very minor role in the EU" above because there's of course the one and only Ewok Poet and her Ewoks fic, but Ewoks get a lot more airtime than Gands in canon/legends [face_blush]
  15. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Replying very belatedly to a few comments (and yes, it means the next chapter's on the way... but I still have a workday ahead, so don't get too excited just yet :p ):

    Thanks so much! :) I'm honored by the comparison to Richard Adams, because I read Watership Down in middle school and was immensely fascinated by it, and it of course is one of the archetypal "create an entire non-human culture, language, and society" works out there: he had this amazing balance between things that were familiar from human culture and other things that were totally different (e.g., five as "a thousand"). That balance is exactIy what I'm striving for in this story, and I'm sure Watership Down is at least an unconscious influence in the kind of world-building I'm trying to do, taking the bits and pieces in official lore as a starting point.

    I do hear you on that; Garamond definitely has that tendency. I can play around with it a bit and see what something bigger might look like—maybe Palatino or Baskerville or similar, or I may just stick with the default board font for the next few chapters. Would that work?

    Anyone else have thoughts about this? I'd also be curious to know whether anyone thinks I should go back and change earlier chapters to be more readable, also.

    Thank you! :) That is pretty much exactly what I'm going for in portraying him, so I appreciate that it seems to be working. My idea about the ability to overhear the mental conversation wasn't really meant to be connected to the portrait per se as much as being another instance of his prodigious raw talent cropping up at a somewhat inopportune moment. But you're absolutely right to pick up on the combination of that with the illustrious (!) family history he has hanging over him, sword-of-Damocles-like—it's a difficult combination that he will grapple with all throughout the story, and that will lead to... I don't know what quasi-catastrophic happenings and revelations later.

    With the Force tradition issue too I'm trying to strive for balance: I imagine there must be some similar basic themes and questions that are common to all Force traditions in the Galaxy, andI want to highlight the fact that those exist while at the same time giving the unique elements of this one their due (and especially those elements that are different from the Force traditions we know most about).

    Why thanks, I appreciate those kind words very much. :) I was thrilled and honored to have gotten those nominations. The obscure corners of the GFFA are getting to be some of my favorite parts of it, and the Gands' particular obscure corner is one that, for whatever reason, has fascinated me ever since I first read about it. And if thoughtful, discriminating readers like y'all enjoy my modest attempts at developing that obscure corner, that's the cherry on the sundae, the candied violet on the cake! :D

    And hooray for alien stories! [face_dancing] It's really been exhilaratingly fun to be helping represent that side of fanfic alongside the immensely talented Ewok Poet.

    More soon...
    earlybird-obi-wan and Ewok Poet like this.
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    An update at last! This chapter will take us to Gand's lower status and income bracket, and will introduce someone new and rather important. I am going to post it in the normal board font, just to see how that works out.

    As always, please let me know whether you would like to be tagged on future updates. It's been so long since my last update I'm not sure who from my original list still would like to be tagged!

    Heartiest thanks to Kahara for beta-reading and providing helpful and much-appreciated feeback. @};-

    Chapter IX

    It was two hours past midnight in R’Kalýma. Still silver-gray mists hung ominously about the Lhúdanswani temple and its surrounding peaks. Four hours ago the signal-chimes had heralded the beginning of the evening rest period. All was dark in the temple except for a few points of light in the windows of the dormitory wing, where apprentices were engaged in the customary nighttime devotions and meditative exercises.

    Zuckuss was in his quarters as well, ostensibly similarly occupied. But his mind was filled less with meditative formulas and sacred texts than with his examination earlier that day. He remembered how Findslady Luyen had blessed and dismissed him, telling him that his assigned Findsmaster would call on him in his quarters first thing tomorrow—if, and only if, she was careful to stress,it were the will of the Mists that he advance in his studies. He remembered how he had bowed and responded with deference, as was customary. But then, as now, he had been filled with secret pride in his performance and his abilities. All doubt in his mind had been vanquished: he was indeed going to advance in his studies, and it was indeed the will of the Mists that he should do so. Best of all—and he could not stifle a few clacks of pride to think of it—he had also proven as much, in no uncertain terms, to that tiresome old overkreetle of a Findsmaster, Okkfel Taagu. That will teach him to underestimate the Uncanny One! For of that too he was now certain.

    Having closed his devotions with one final Stillness of the Fog, Zuckuss removed his outer robes and relaxed onto his side on the round couch in his meditation alcove. He drew the miniature portrait of his ancestor from his inner pocket and studied it. Just small enough to fit in the palm of his hand, it showed a serious-looking Gand male with silver eyes, clad in dark brown Findsman’s field robes of an old-fashioned style. Above and to the right of Zukfel’s image was the family emblem of the Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd: the golden orb crossed by the dagger and the toothed key, and grasped by the clawed hand. Everything—the folds of the clothing, the texture of the chitin, the individual facets of the eyes, the serrations of the key and dagger—was rendered in minute, delicate detail.

    For some time Zuckuss simply lay there contemplating the tiny artwork. As he studied it, marveling at its meticulous workmanship, he became struck by the strong similarity between the portrait’s features and his own. The renowned Zukfel Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, closest friend of the legendary Trynfor the Mad, looked like nothing so much as an older version of himself—or perhaps a younger version of his father, which was essentially the same thing. Almost desperately he scanned the portrait for any small differences between this ancestor and the living Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd males. There were a few: a rougher crenellation pattern on the forehead and a slightly less angular contour to the outer mandibles. But there was no doubting that the eyes were his; they were almost identical in shape and shade to his own and those of his father. They seemed to be studying him as closely as he was studying them.

    “So you too, venerable ancestor Zukfel, are to this Gand a ruetsa’iiv and examiner . . . ?”

    He lay there gazing on the tiny image for several more minutes, perhaps hours, until sleep overtook him.

    * * *

    Zuckuss awoke to the ruddy glimmers of dawn and the rapping of a claw on his door. A thrill ran through him as he jumped to his feet, smoothed his clothing, and threw on his outer robe: this no doubt was the Findsmaster appointed to him by the dean and the temple council, who would be his mentor and guide for the remainder of his apprenticeship. He almost hoped it was Okkfel, if only so he would have other opportunities to assert himself. Part of him imagined the bulky, irascible Findsmaster bowing his head in contrition, demoting himself to a lowly Taagu while expressing his sincere regret at having underestimated the son of Fengor Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd.

    “Please enter.”

    The door opened to reveal the stooped form of Volokoss Ratokk, clad in full field gear with harness and armor.

    “Greetings, Apprentice Findsman Zuckuss, in the name of the Sacred Visionary Mists,” he began. “And felicitations as well. Your ruetsavii-tí’kaa and the council of Findsmasters were most impressed with your performance on . . . Why are you standing there looking as though you have been hit with a stun bolt, young one?”

    Zuckuss realized suddenly that he had forgotten to offer Volokoss any of the traditional gestures of greeting or deference, and he bowed his head to receive the senior Findsman’s blessing. “Apologies, Findsmaster Volokoss,” he replied in a murmur. “It was for . . . no good reason.”

    “Yes, Volokoss was fairly certain of that,” said the elder Findsman with a good-natured click, waving a hand over Zuckuss’s head in blessing. “But for now, quickly, put on your field gear and come. You and Volokoss must go.”

    Zuckuss obeyed, and only minutes later he and his master were sitting side by side in the cockpit of one of the temple’s airspeeders, swooping deftly above the colorful, swirling clouds that separated one pocket colony from another.

    * * *

    A little over an hour later, Zuckuss found himself in the center of a busy marketplace, clad in the field gear of an apprentice Findsman: heavy outer robes, a filg-leather supply belt, and light armor strapped around his shins and wrists. He was on the central market grounds of the pocket colony of N’xid. This was his first time there, but he knew from his studies that it was one of the smallest and poorest of Gand’s pocket colonies, with a particularly high proportion of nameless citizens. Indeed, even without the Ritual of Wayseeking he could tell that this marketplace was much smaller and less lavish than the great marketplace he remembered from his home colony of Rhaguin. Only a few rather dingy and faded guild banners dared twirl their way up into the foggy, silver-gray sky; the booths were small and modestly outfitted; and the citizens wore rough, simple clothing that was all of the same neutral-colored, undyed material—a sign of low self-reference status in certain colonies, as Zuckuss remembered from his readings. Occasionally he would see someone with a single colored scarf, sash, or shawl, which he knew must indicate a name, but the dark brown of his own field robe was the only other color that stood out at all.

    Volokoss had left him just moments ago, and there was not a single other Findsman in sight. The Findsmaster had explained on the flight over that they were coming to N’xid on patrol duty—an assignment, he had hastened to mention, that was not typical for an apprentice of Zuckuss’s level, but one that the temple council felt he deserved in light of his exceptional abilities. Shortly after docking and disembarking, Volokoss had proceeded to give his student very specific instructions on how to carry out his patrol duty. First he was to acquaint himself with the layout of the southern half of the market grounds by performing a first-level Ritual of Wayseeking (which itself would take at least half an hour). Once that had been completed he would begin his patrol, keeping a close watch on the dealings and interactions among the citizenry but never intervening unless the direct safety of beings or property was openly threatened. Finally, in three hours, he was to rendezvous with his master at the main gate of the marketplace and give a full report. It all seemed straightforward enough: what disorder could possibly arise in such a backrocket colony and among such an undistinguished citizenry? Perhaps that was the very reason the council considered it suitable for a first patrol mission.

    With these thoughts in his mind, Zuckuss stopped beside a fountain in the central market square and positioned himself for the Ritual of Wayseeking. Curious passers-by stared as he straightened his back and shoulders, then raised his hands upward before him with palms outward; he simply closed his eyes, shutting them out. The Ritual of Wayseeking was different from most of the other meditative disciplines he knew—not only because it could be performed standing up, but also because it involved sending out pulses of one’s own intuitive energy rather than receiving intuitive energy from the Mists. By sensing the combined reflections of those pulses off his physical surroundings, a Findsman could map those surroundings in his mind with a fair amount of accuracy. Of course, performing any meditative ritual in the midst of a busy marketplace was an added challenge, and he hoped that the white noise of the flowing water would aid his concentration.

    It did, at least for a while. After a quarter of an hour, he had mapped out most of the southern half of the marketplace. He was just about to begin on the northern half when he was jolted from his meditation by a forceful kick to the shin, followed by the startled protestation:

    “Gand beg Mystical Honor pardon! Gand thought Mystical Honor was statue!

    The rather shabby-looking greenish-eyed youngster responsible had scampered off in near-panic before Zuckuss could offer any words of reassurance, and he had to begin the ritual again.

    When at last his mental map was complete, Zuckuss began his patrol. He walked slowly up and down the rows of booths, looking around him, returning the occasional nod or salute from the citizenry but never initiating such gestures himself—just as Volokoss had instructed him. So far there was not much for him to do in the way of keeping order. Both sellers and buyers were going about their business in a quiet and orderly fashion, with none of the complaining, arguing, or haggling that could occasionally be heard at the Rhaguin market.

    Presently he came to the northeastern corner of the marketplace. It was by far the dingiest part of an already fairly dingy place. The booths here were shabby and run-down, and several were empty; the stones of the street were coated in grime. But there were many children about, some darting in and out of booths, some hiding, some chasing each other, some mock-fighting with sticks or toy weapons—all clearly engaged in the customary mock Hunts. One group, which had just apprehended its mock captive, approached Zuckuss to ask him for his official ratification of the capture and his blessing. Doing nothing to disabuse them of the mistaken notion that he was anything more than an apprentice, Zuckuss quickly surveyed the quarry (who was stuffing his mandibles with some kind of juicy, pulpy blue fruit), then held his hands above the children’s heads and murmured a few assorted words of blessing. The children ran off, seemingly satisfied; Zuckuss stood for a moment watching them, clicking contentedly to himself as he remembered his own mock Hunts long ago.

    One child did not seem to be part of a mock Hunt: a girl, slight of build and with delicate features, who carried a large basket of fruit under her arm as she walked through the market. She was clad in the usual rough-hewn, neutral-colored tunic, with strands of purple foliage twined around her upper arms—no doubt a guild emblem of some kind, Zuckuss surmised, identifying her as a seller of produce. With her round golden eyes, she, too, seemed to be watching the mock-hunters. A passing citizen beckoned to her and wordlessly handed her a credit slip; in return she gave him an oblong red fruit from her basket.

    Some of the other children seemed to have noticed her as well, for one of them—a tall boy with black eyes, probably a few years older than she—pointed to her and gestured to his group of friends to approach her. She turned away quickly as she saw them, but the black-eyed boy jumped in front of her, cutting off her steps. Then he spoke four mocking, drawn-out syllables:


    The golden-eyed girl closed her eyes and lowered her head as a chorus of derisive clacks erupted from the boy and his companions. Zuckuss slipped into a nearby booth and pretended to survey the wares, keeping the cornermost facets of his eyes trained on the group of children. He did not know what the boy had said to the girl—some local childish insult, he guessed—but he had a feeling his presence might come in handy for peacekeeping purposes, especially since no parents or other chaperones seemed to be about.

    The black-eyed boy spoke again, in sickly-sweet tones. “Won’t you let this Gand buy one of your blue togu?

    The girl held out her basket. The boy grabbed a globular purple-blue fruit from it and threw it forcefully to the ground near her feet. Moist aquamarine pulp splattered on the cobblestones. He and his companions clicked and jeered as the girl bent down to pick it up, then looked it over intently, feeling it and the oozing pulp with both hands.

    Meanwhile, in the booth, Zuckuss fidgeted uneasily with a scoop in a large cloth sack of dried nutrient strips, wondering if he should intervene. But Volokoss’s instructions had been clear, and so far the only thing that had suffered physical harm was a togu . . . He looked about in case any of the children’s parents had appeared. But none had, and the nearby shopkeepers seemed to be taking no interest. To them it was apparently just some children’s game.

    “So!” Both Zuckuss and the golden-eyed girl jumped at this sudden exclamation from the black-eyed boy. “Aren’t you going to tell this Gand’s fortune, like you promised?”

    “Gand already did.” The girl’s response was timid and barely audible, but she was now looking the boy squarely in the eye.

    “Well, has it happened yet?” The black-eyed boy leaned close to her, his mandibles splayed fully open. “No, it hasn’t. Perhaps the Sacred Visionary Mists saw fit to inform you that this Gand’s father”—he rapped on his chest with one claw—“is Semfod Sylonn, governor of N’xid, and he has never lost any money on any of his investments. Ever.

    “Not yet. But by sunset . . .” She gulped, as though close to sobs. “By sunset the market will crash. The Grenn-Mygra bubble will burst. And . . . and he will be without a single credit.”

    “You’re making that up, you little liar!”

    “No—Gand is not—”

    “You are! You’re talking nonsense!

    “But you asked—”

    “LIAR!” The black-eyed boy’s mandibles clattered with rage. He grabbed the girl by the collar of her tunic and gave her a violent shove backward into a large mud puddle. Her basket and all the fruit in it flew in all directions, scattering and splattering on the cobblestones. The boy’s friends rushed to stomp on any fruit that did not squash upon impact.

    This was Zuckuss’s cue to act. He dropped the scoopful of nutrient strips—only some of which, to the shopkeeper’s horror, ended up back in the sack—and ran between the black-eyed boy and his victim.


    He stopped short. The dust and grime from the cobblestones seemed to be rising into the air around the girl, who was now sitting upright, apparently oblivious to the slimy, brown-green mud soiling her clothes, and fixing the boy in her fiery golden gaze. Higher and faster the dust swirled, glowing silver like the mist in the sky. The black-eyed boy and his friends backed ever so slightly away; Zuckuss’s intuition tingled as he took a cautious step to the side.

    Then the girl struck the back of her hand full-force on the pavement. Just as she did, the swirling dusts gathered into a whirlwind that flew directly at the boy and his companions. They scattered in a volley of screams, oaths, and coughs.

    Just as quickly as it had arisen, the whirlwind vanished. And the girl collapsed into the muddy water.

    Zuckuss rushed to her side. She was exhausted but still conscious. “Are you all right, young one?” he asked, reaching his hand to her.

    With some difficulty she rolled out of the puddle and onto one side, blinking her nictitating membranes. Then her eyes flashed open as she gave a sudden start.

    “It’s . . . it’s you.”

    “Have you seen Zuckuss before?” Zuckuss could not help but clack in puzzlement. “You speak as if you recognize him, but he has never been to N’xid before today.”

    “Well . . .” She trailed off, turning her eyes away. “Gand could be wrong . . .”

    “No matter. Take Zuckuss’s hand.”

    She did so, and he helped her carefully to her feet. As she smoothed out her clothing and brushed off a few clumps of mud, he collected her basket and the damaged fruit from the ground. He could sense that she was watching him as he did so, that those bright golden eyes of hers were following his every move. Could she really have seen him before, somewhere, somehow? He had never before been to N’xid, and he could hardly imagine that any Gand child so young and so poor would ever have had the means or opportunity to go beyond her home colony. Perhaps she had simply confused him with someone else—but with whom?

    And that strange little whirlwind of dust from the street—just what was it that she had done? Volokoss had not yet taught him anything like that . . .

    As carefully and inconspicuously as he could, he tucked a credit slip from his inner pocket into the girl’s basket before returning it to her.

    “And there. Zuckuss shall accompany you home.”

    Overkreetles: see My early beta Beedo introduced these to me, and we figured they or related creatures might exist on an insect-dominated world like Gand.

    The togu is my own creation; the dried nutrient strips are my own creation riffing on an officially established Gand food item. For details, please see my fanon post on Gand foodstuffs.

    The word ruetsa’iiv is my own singular of the official plural word ruetsavii.

    The Ritual of Wayseeking is my own creation too, and should probably be added to my original Gand fanon post.

    I originally named N'xid after Skid Row.

    Finally, if Gamiel happens to be reading this, he will recognize where one character is using one of the Findsman techniques he came up with in the Fanon Thread. Though if he does, he will kindly keep it mum for now. :p I thank him for his kind and helpful PM correspondence on the subject.
  17. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    New chapter dance! [face_dancing] Of course, I’m the lucky skunk who gets to read these ahead of time. ;)

    As always, I really like the way that you’ve evoked the feel and experience of being in Zuckuss’s world – those “silver-gray mists”, the minute details of Gand features in Trynfor’s portrait, and then the grittier details of the town and marketplace. =D=

    This is a worrying development; since the Gands prize humility so highly, I have a feeling that Zuckuss is going to have some… issues with that particular virtue of his society. It did not seem to be such a problem before, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s partly to do with a bit of ambivalence about the whole Uncanny One thing and his falling-out (not that things were ever great between them) with his father. Volokoss’s choice to bring him on this particular trip may be motivated by trying to outline just that concept. [face_thinking]

    :D Just so you know, and if I didn’t say before, this scene made me really like Volokoss. He doesn’t take any nonsense, but he’s also confident in his authority and uninterested in squabbling. Which may make him a better teacher than Zuckuss first imagines.

    Really liked this description of the settlement and how the environment tells Zuckuss (and the reader through his explanations) a lot about how Gands in different strata of society and/or outlying regions may live differently from what he’s used to in the temple and his earlier home.

    Mmm hmm. ;) Actually, the relative lack of danger probably is significant, but I have a feeling that the not so easily cut and dried situation he encounters is exactly the kind of thing that the council would want to test his character.

    I like how the Findsmen have these specific rituals that work in a prescribed way and do one particular thing – often something complex and interesting – but seem to be separate from others. It’s an interesting distinction from the Jedi (along with the inference that the Gands are less active and more perceptive in their usual Force techniques). And they don’t always seem to know exactly how it works and there’s certainly an element of improvisation/artistry, but it has that underlying structure inherited from Findsmen past.


    It was also interesting to see Zuckuss reacting to the mock hunts, and that the children in this poorer area still enjoy them the same as those in the big city. The reminder of the past is kind of bittersweet, especially given how that situation soon turns sour.

    The reactions of both the golden-eyed girl and the bullies here seem very realistic; she’s clearly as scared by her premonitions as they are. The part with the dust attack is very easy to visualize and I like how it has the feeling of an unexpected event – one that takes everyone by surprise.
    Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb! =D= I love how you vividly paint a scene in all details, so you can literally, actually see, hear, taste, smell, touch it all! :D

    I am very gratified that it is Volokoss that is mentoring Zuckuss. fascinated indeed by the golden-eyed girl. Sounds like Zuckuss discovered a future Findslady. [face_batting]
    Kahara, Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  19. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I am starting slowly, so a huge apology to other readers if I'm derailing the thread. A huge apology to you because I may not notice everything I wanted to notice. I am also sorry for any idea that may be silly or wrong. The amount of respect I have for this piece here is...immense.

    Chapters 1 and 2

    From the first two chapters, it's hard, almost impossible to see anything in Fengor. Sure he is tough because of the weight he's carrying, his responsibility and whatnot, but not being present when his son is expecting him to be present and, after he's found the holocube is just...heartbreaking. I'm pretty sure that the tough father trope is present in folklore of almost every nation; but still...not fair to do this to Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd. :(

    On the other hand, Otila is just wonderful. Humble, despite her obviously large achievements, caring and a true, true wonderful mother. I liked her from the first time I read this and, with every next re-read, I like her more.

    And, of course, the whole set of movements, gestures and expressions you came up with here is impressive. I will forever be confused if this story never wins an award, as I am already confused with how it won none, given the number of noms it had.

    Chapter 1

    The way the story zooms in is very, very cool. Cinematic quality in written word, filming the worldscapes with words. I have seen it in Cynical_Ben 's story and here and both of you are acing it. The beginnings are always awkward and in medias res does not work for most stories; so the way you have chosen to introduce the readers to the planet of Gand, the city and the bits and pieces of the backstory essential for us to continue reading is mahvelous, dahlink.

    And then, you pull a BLUFFERS on us. There's a thing nobody knows what it is from the first chapter, long before we're even introduced to the lead character. Sneaky and cool. In case you're not familiar with the Bluffers, here is the Wikipedia page and here is the opening theme. Unlike in the said cartoon, where the characters would not actually assasinate the keeper of the secret, this story is setting up the idea for such a thing in subtext and I'm a wee bit freaked out here. :D In a good way.

    The introduction of the lead character, his disappointment followed with the eagerness to play is a top-notch description of a youngling of that age and that transcends the planets and species.

    “Remember,” she said, “don’t forget to engage the safety on your dart gun when you’re not using it, and don’t spend any of your pocket money unless it is an emergency. Mother loves you.”
    Lovely moment. <3
    And is this me, or is the dad restricting money spending in the family? :p

    Downtown consisted mainly of tall, nondescript buildings, into and out of which harried-looking businessfolk and guildsfolk poured in a continuous stream.
    In combination with what we know about the planet, this sentence paints a grim picture. And now I wonder, how does the grim, non-descript world full of businessmen and other seculars look to these special, Findsmen children? Is it as grim to them as it is to the reader or do they see the wonders of such a world the same way each child sees pretty much anything, solely to discover that it was not as special as they thought it was?

    “Young one, have your parents ever taught you the meaning of ‘Do not touch’?”

    “Young one, please be so kind as to take your dirty hands out of Ooqlib’s fruit at once.”

    “Young one, if Rnnok ever catches you in his cargo hold again . . .”
    This is a moment that remained in my memory from the first read as a very cool one. The whole contrast between the money-grabbing seculars and the Findschildren (is this even a word?), combined with the general innocent, but highly-energetic play that would annoy pretty much any adult.

    The scene where the Gand is meditating resonated with me beyond belief. You know, the special boy, the one connected to the universe and lost in kind of a boy! Had I read this as a seven-year-old in some form, I would've been in love with your lovely protagonist. ^:)^[face_love] He's a tiny bit naughty, a tiny bit competitive, but he's still a friend to his playmates, despite being lost in the clouds. And others will always tease a starchild a bit.

    “By authority of the Findsmen Elders of Gand, you are apprehended in the name of the Sacred Visionary—”
    LOVE IT how his revelation comes after having said this. And then we get action, a crescendo and we see that our protagonist is badass. His mock-meditation turns out to be the real deal, he finds the mock bounty at the same time as the real, unexpected bounty and uses his gift the best way possible, while remaining steady and careful.

    “By the Will and Authority of the Sacred Visionary Mists the Ruetsavii and Findsmen Elders of Gand hereby declare that Gand, son of Fengor saa Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd and Otila saa Khassvani uur Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, by virtue of notable accomplishments beyond his years, has been deemed worthy of his family’s name, Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd. Their visionary blessings be upon him always.”
    A great ending to a great beginning of a great story. :)

    Chapter 2

    Love how Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd immediately becomes the new it-boy among his friends. And I am glad that you pointed out that, at that age, it's a combination of awe and fear.

    But with his father it was different. The first time his wife and son told him about the incident, Fengor responded with disbelief: it was simply not possible for a child, he insisted, as yet untrained in the Findsman’s sacred meditative arts, to receive such sudden information from the Mists, whether about his quarry’s whereabouts or the location of the missing holocube. Children were always pretending at such things during mock hunts, he said; that his son’s make-believe intuition had come true, he claimed, was mere chance. Even when his fellow ruetsavii stopped in hallways of the Great Temple to congratulate him—for the elaborately clothed Findsmen his son had seen upon his return to the rendezvous point had indeed been ruetsavii—he responded with angry glares, growls of displeasure, or both. With his young son he became distant and irritable; even more troublingly, he continued referring to the boy simply as Gand, as if he had never earned a name at all.
    Boo, Fengor. Booo. Do you really, really think that it was a coincidence that your son found that holocube? Tough love is not cool. In a culture where everybody is humble, just...just what does he think will happen if he praises his son just a little bit?

    “Very well. But I do this only because your mother is engaged in her research and not present to look after you. I hope that is clear.”
    Boo again.

    “And don’t grind your mandibles at me, boy!”
    Well, Fengor, you deserved it, dahlink.

    I like the description of Fengor's clothes, it's almost as some sort of Mists existed in his very eyes and his robe and, also, the colour may as well be a good illustration of his permanent boo mood. In contrast to that, the white robes of his son match his innocence and the fact that he is a book being written as we're reading it.

    Crafted of smooth black stone that glinted with tiny flecks of golden mica, the statue portrayed two figures that were slightly larger than life. The first was an older male Gand in Findsman’s attire of an ancient style, reclining on his side on a bed with bedcoverings draped over him from the hips down. He was turned toward a second figure, another Findsman, who was kneeling beside the bed; the two figures were clasping hands in a gesture of sincere friendship. Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd marveled at the meticulous detail of the sculpture, from the eye facets and mouthparts to the flowing folds of the drapery and the mystical runes that encircled the entire bottom edge of the bedcovering; they were in the ancient, arcane script of the Book of Light, intelligible only to initiated Findsmen.
    Another great, great description. One can feel the texture of this sculpture. I assume these are Zukfel and Trynfor the Mad? I also like the half-drape coming from of a completely different style of art. It's like Trynfor is in the nude without being in the nude, as he has nothing to hide around his trustworthy best friend. So subtle, yet so effective.

    With what Fengor is like, having Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd sit on a bench is almost a metaphor for corporal punishment.

    He closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander, wishing he could be out play-Hunting with his friends in the city. Or even really Hunting, like Gorruss, who just the week before had departed with his Master Findsman to R’Kalýma, the most mountainous of Gand’s pocket colonies, to track down missing and fugitive mine workers. That was real Findsman’s work.
    Though Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd is a lot like my favourite canon boy dreamer, this paragraph is like a decrescendo from that type to...that other type. You know, the REAL work for a specific profession and all. Tee-hee.

    He noticed Intuition’s Hand, the largest and most distinctive of these formations, in whose palm Trynfor the Mad once sat and meditated three stormy days and nights in a row.
    I guess we know how he got his nickname. :D One has to be mad to do something like that. :p

    I want to see this place. By how you described it, it reminds me of the statue from the game I'm drawing inspiration from for my next story, just in a MUCH larger scale and with three fingers instead of five.

    And I shall not say anything about the symbolism of giant hands in general, as we all know it, either way.

    And then comes the INCREDIBLE part - the young one falling in trance, having a crazy vision and his dad STILL DOES NOT GET IT.

    “Narrowly escaped rockslide on Mount Rhangneth’tha. Intuition’s Hand toppled taking several other formations with it. Almost took one step too far but heard voice of little brother in head calling out. Master Findsman Okkfel safe. On way home. Regards to Mother. Your devoted son, Gorruss Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd.”
    Ha, love the telegram-ish language here. And love it how Gorruss believed his brother and stepped back because he trusted his little brother. A very important moment that leads to...

    ...the revelation of THE UNCANNY ONE.

    *jawdrop* *jawdrop* *jawdrop*

    The Findsmen Elders of Gand hereby bestow their blessings and congratulations upon Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, son of Fengor saa Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd and Otila Khassvani uur Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, and charge him to appear before them ten days from the receipt of this message, so that he may be evaluated for initiation into the sacred ways of the Findsman.
    And this is where I broke. The second time a story you wrote made me break, but this time it's all for the best. I am cheering for this boy, the same way I would cheer for a friend. This is magic. I mean Mists. I mean Force. I mean...WHATEVER. *wipes a tear*

    * Fun fact: I was listening to a random mix of music and when the first mention of the Hand appeared, Britney Spears in Toxic said "I need a hand". OK.

    ** I know your spelling is dahling, but I spell it dahlink - a tad bit more snobbish, but not classy enough.
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  20. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    I have to split my reply, for readability purposes, so in the words of the great Jar Jar Binks, ex-squeeze me.

    Chapter 3

    “Gifts or no gifts, he’s far too young,” declared Fengor. “The Findsman’s rituals are dangerous for those who are not ready for them in body and spirit. The Findsmen Elders know that. If they think that one measly mock Hunt and a childish outburst in front of the chief ruetsavii makes one worthy of initiation in the Sacred Trade, then they have gone out of their minds.”
    While this is logical reasoning, I am still wondering if Fengor really means it, or if it's tough love and some kind of despise for the young one again, based on his youth and the prophecy we're yet to read about.

    And he's saying cruel, cruel things with his son RIGHT THERE, IN THE SAME VEHICLE. :( :( :( This could, someday, make his son so bitter that he shares the secret on purpose.

    The intuitive power that flows through the Great Temple sometimes has ...unusual effects on the minds of the young and untrained.
    Yeah, and that is why I suddenly become Nikola Tesla each time I am starring at his urn; and then I come up with a world-changing invention. Boo.

    From his window Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd could see the alabaster spires and domes of the Sacred Capital reaching devotedly upward, wreathed in the glowing vapors. Far below, rich gardens full of jewel-like colors twined around the spired buildings, adorning the city as with garlands of flowers.
    I guess I have an answer to the colour question I asked when I commented on chapter one. The monochrome world of the Seculars is nothing like the colourful world of the Findsmen.

    First there were the same three ruetsavii who had visited the mock Hunt, again dressed in ornate ceremonial garb.
    An interesting parallel with, well, the religion that dominates the western world and another "golden boy" character. Not sure if this was intentional or if it's etched in all of our minds to the point where we're no longer aware of it. I mean...they even bless him!

    Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd looked around him as he walked. They were in a shadowy echoing hallway that seemed, judging by the echo of their boots on the floor, to have a vaulted ceiling. Occasionally the gloom was broken when the entire hallway seemed to be transmuted into a tube of smoothly undulating colored light that seemed to swim alongside the walking group. One hue melded gracefully into the next, much like the shimmering mists outside in the sky. Another turn, and they were again submerged in dim, echoing darkness—but this time small patches of bright colors occasionally gleamed through the shadows. The young Gand thought he could hear music far in the distance, strangely beautiful and ethereal music sung by some faraway choir.
    Psychedelia. Chromestesia. Me likey. And then he reunites with Gorruss, his brother and the one he shares a special, special connection with.

    “So Gorruss hears they are planning to make an apprentice out of you, too. You know what that means, of course. You will spend about half a day with crusty old Master Findsmen who will be either asking you silly questions or poking and prodding you all over. And the entire time you will be wearing nothing but a nightshirt with a few runes on it. Can Gorruss count on you not to soil the holy words of the Book of Light while you are lying on the examination table?”
    Not sure if this is real or some form of hazing. For some reason, whenever we had doctor examinations at school, there were stories about doctors measuring, say, the boys' members and we all believe it. As if the whole experience of a bunch of kids (thankfully, of the same sex) walking down in just underpants and, on one occasion, actually lying on the table so they could determine the length of our legs, wasn't traumatising enough. This gave me shivers.


    I realise that the Uncanny One is Prometheus. His or her purpose is to steal the fire from Gods and bring it to the people. And with great power comes great responsibility.

    Chapter 4

    In silence the two ruetsavii led their young charge down a dimly lit corridor to the testing wing of the Great Temple. First he was brought to a small but comfortable curtained alcove, where he was instructed to change from his regular clothing into the garment that lay waiting for him there: a long, baggy gown of white linen with mystical script embroidered along its hem, neck and sleeves. It was indeed “a nightshirt with a few runes on it,” just as his brother had told him, and it was extremely large on him, trailing on the ground.


    “They darkens the eye but clarify the mind,” she intoned, clearly and slowly, as though she were pronouncing a mystical incantation. “What are they?”

    “The Mists,” Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd replied, taking a quick breath in.

    “As a flicker, it strengthens you, but as a bonfire it burns you down,” added the green-eyed Findsman.

    The young Gand thought for a moment. “Anger?”

    Again it was the Findswoman’s turn. “What can you catch and hold, but never touch?”

    “Air? . . . Breath.”

    “When you are all alone, to whom can you turn?”

    “To yourself,” answered Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd, relieved that it was nothing harder.

    Love the riddles.

    “It is the sickness that brings the only true healing. It is the weakness that brings the only true strength. It is the captivity that brings the only true freedom.”

    Knowledge? Loss?

    Ng’xvi-Ta'al-Lhúd thought for a moment about that lullaby. He could never remember the words—like so many of his mother’s songs, they had to do with something tiresome and sentimental like being in love. But he had always rather liked the tune... Forcing air through his triple-layered mandibles, he began to whistle.

    Teenage traces, right here. BECAUSE LOVE EQUALS COOTIES. Wait, they're bugs. What do they get if they don't get cooties?

    “Because the Mists sang it to him, Your Mystical Honor.”

    “You must tell Findslady Stavrien the truth,” put in Ussar abruptly.

    “Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd is telling the truth!” He sprang to his feet, fists clenched; the heat of anger was rising within him, heedless of the high rank of those he addressed. “Your Mystical Honors allowed him time to ponder the question, and while he did, the Mists sang him this song!”

    Love it how they don't agree about their newest prospect and how there is no "chosen one is the best ever" consensus going on. The road to the stars involves walking on fire.

    Also, I am aware that Ussar is canon. Cool!

    Other observations:

    Force sight. His wonderful Force sight and how he demonstrated it.

    Love how the Mists are They, with a capital T, like a proper deity They are. And I liked the idea of such a worship from the day I looked up Findsmen. :)


    Do the colours of the robes indicate status in any way, like in martial arts? So far, Fengor's are the darkest.
  21. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Chapters 5 and 6

    I nearly fell off my chair after the big revelation that [hl=black]this is Zuckuss[/hl]. On my initial read, I did see mentions on the last page, but I honestly and absolutely thought [hl=black]it was a cameo[/hl]. This gives him the sort of dimensions I never expected and ohwell, now I can freely admit that I have a crush on him, too. If this does not make me read as much about him as possible, nothing will. [face_peace]

    But you and the other Gands on this board should not worry, I still love a certain greystripey furry one more. :p Magic boys, tho...[face_love]

    Chapter 5

    So, what I said in comments to chapter 1 is what he fears the most. And, how interesting, his dad actually becomes caring after that. Since Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd can find his way into Gorruss' brain, he can do the same with Fengor's and now...perhaps Fengor will have to watch what he is thinking. CREEPY.

    Given how he jumps on his father in a sudden display of affection that contradicts his almost mortal fear of Fengor from earlier, it seems even more probable. Hmmm.

    “In the name of the Sacred Visionary Mists and by the authority of the Council of Masters, you have been found worthy to become apprenticed in the sacred ways of the Findsman. It is the unanimous opinion of those who tested you that your intuitive and mystical abilities far surpass what is typical for your years.”


    “So it shall be with you. Trynfor’s Waters will break down your juvenile plates and slough them off. You will grow to the size of an adult. But it will still take several days for your adult chitin to finish growing, and you will spend your period of recovery here in the Temple under the supervision of healers. Once that period is complete, you will have the body of an adult and a Findsman.”

    And underneath his adult exoskeleton, he will still be an innocent child, prone to manipulation and corruption. There is an accident, waiting to happen.

    Ten small black triangular generators placed around the edge of the bed generated a Healing Field around him—paired repulsor and attractor fields that held him rigid and motionless, hovering slightly above the mattress. A blanket covered him, mostly for purposes of privacy; it was too thin and worn to provide warmth.

    Love it how it's not bacta. :D I assume bacta was never used for this kind of stuff?

    The solitude and the thoughts overwhelming him during the wait. This could've been the time he gave up (and yes, I know the consequences), the time he questioned himself; but in some way, with inability to sleep, distract himself or move, it's both a purifying ritual #2 and torture of some sort. And then, out of the semi-hell, there she is: his guardian angel, his lovely mother.

    Chapter 6

    Every single thing about this chapter is PERFECT. But, as said in the intro to this reply, the revelation at the end matters more than anything else. And now we know that he is not just Jesus, Frodo or Harry Potter, but also Lucifer; and, if the epilogue hints anything, Eve, Prometheus, the prodigal son, FREAKIN' ABELOTH and many others.

    If I was to single out anything from this chapter, I would just copy and paste it all, which is the reason I am not doing it.
    Findswoman likes this.
  22. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Chapter 7

    Purpleish and gold feelings here. Not sure why, but you need to listen to Bat for Lashes. Please, do.

    Love it how apprentices are basically monks of some sorts. Great parallels with the Jedi and actual monks - simple quarters, brown top robes... I guess most of the Force users may sense that certain qualities are necessary to connect with the source of their powers and that discipline is the key to using the said powers responsibly.

    Zuckuss' fellow apprentices, both novices and the more experienced, respected him, flocking to him for advice on their own studies and requesting him as a sparring partner.
    Niiice parallel with the beginning of the second chapter.

    Zuckuss left his room and continued down a narrow hallway of brightly colored stained glass that reminded him of those glowing hallways in the Great Temple the year before; these hues were not as bold or deep as those he remembered, but they were perhaps warmer and cheerier. Little colored flecks of light danced on him and the other apprentices passing by as they exchanged gestures of greeting.
    Another lovely scene, I can almost see the glass. And then, stone. Nice change of material and texture.

    Stillness of the Fog is pretty cool and I salute your friend for having come up with such an interesting concept.

    He closed his eyes, folded his hands in his lap, and began to breathe deeply, inhaling the sweet, musky scent of the incense lamps. Exerting gentle strength within and without, he was able to slow the progress of the Mists through him, little by little, until They stood still within his body and soul, hovering serenely like the glowing clouds of dawn outside the window. After several minutes all his tension and pain was gone, and calm reigned within him—along with glimmers of renewed resolution not to let Okkfel upset him. He exhaled a long, soft hiss and opened his eyes.
    I never squee, but when I do, I squee at stuff nobody else would squee about. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. It's a magic boy, meditating again, and LEARNING HOW TO CLOSE HIS MIND PROPERLY. [face_love]

    “To the Findsman thrown across endless leagues of stars to a mistless world, to a small Gand all alone beneath a poisonous sky, how can intuition come? For he cannot contain the Mists in his pouches, nor load them into his weapons, nor distill them into his phials.”
    Beautiful. I always liked the ideas involving putting pieces of stars, air, clouds and things like that in pockets and I have utilised them in my poetry many times. Nice to see that you like that stuff too, and that you formed a riddle with it. [face_dancing]

    Ritual of Discernment - In the fanon thread, you ask if you should change its name...don't the name is fine. :)

    Love how Volokoss is always cutting Zuckuss some slack. And the others are trying to squeeze him like a sponge; trying to brush him like a diamond, causing him more and more pressure. That and what Kahara mentioned in her most recent comment will inevitably lead him to his fall. Chanelling Anakin Skywalker and all...

    Zuckuss shuddered. Real and true? Was it real and true that he would someday have to leave the Mists of Gand behind?
    D'aww, poor baby. This Uncanny One premonition is like the Damoclean sword to him. :(

    “ ... to a small Gand all alone... There it is, Your Mystical Honors,” he said at last, his eyes snapping open. “He is a small Gand.”
    Glad that they are not forgetting that he's still a child in an adult's body.

    Zuckuss’s mouthparts clacked hesitantly open and closed. “Pardon Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd’s awkwardness,” he said. “He meant to say that... just as Gand-the-world is enfolded by the Mists, so also is Gand-the-creature, wherever he is. Even if one were to uproot the homeworld of Gand, wrest it from its path around Te’el-Viire-Gand, and move it into orbit around Alzoc or Sluis or Zhar... would not its Mists go with it? They are bound to it; they are part of it just as the water and ammonia and soil are. Where Gand goes, so must They.” He paused and swallowed. “And where any Gand goes, so must They. That is why the homeworld and the race have a common name.”

    As per Goodwood's comment:
    I like how the Ritual of Discernment seems to be one that focuses on reason and logic, rather than pulling the right answer out of the ether without the subject having had the knowledge to come by them. It would seem that the object is to emphasize that one shouldn't ignore reality in favor of the Mists...

    I am going with this interpretation as well. With the world of the Gands separated in such a blunt way, there still has to be some sort of harmony keeping the logical and "magical" together. :)

    Chapter 8

    I love the idea of "the eye of his intuition", which is a third eye, but of a cool kind, as opposed to the popular concept that became shallow as the time went by,

    But he was finding it difficult to do so. He was not sure why; this kind of hunting exercise had never been hard for him before, not even when it involved hunting for his fellow apprentices or temple servants or any other being that could move from place to place. Part of it, of course, was this business with his posture; he was loath to incur Okkfel’s wrath any more than absolutely necessary. But he knew that was not all. Luyen’s mysterious words were haunting him, eroding his concentration. When your own turn comes, she had said—his own turn to leave his homeworld, finally and inevitably. When, and how, and why? Curiosity ate away at him, even as he struggled to channel his intuitive energy toward the hunt at hand. And now that the mystical imprints of the hunted objects glimmered before him, he felt he could no longer resist it; it was growing, creeping across his mental view of the temple like a dank evening fog... then suddenly spinning up into a whirling, rushing darkness that enveloped the whole of Gand, dispersing her sacred Mists and scattering her Findsmen like frightened gryckle-chicks throughout the galaxy...
    Now I wonder if planting the thought in his mind is another technique the trio came up with intentionally to toughen Zuckuss? Hmmm.

    Freaking out with where this meditaton session has gone and with the idea that the voice might be Trynfor's, out of all people's.

    “Immaterial,” retorted Okkfel, his exoskeleton making an unpleasant crunch as he crossed his arms tightly before him. “He was not asked to hunt for the Uncanny One. And he should know”—here he glared sidelong at Zuckuss—“that no one can hunt for the Uncanny One. The Uncanny One is the zaviir beyond all zavr’aii. Do not tell me Fengor Ng’xvi-Ta’al-Lhúd did not teach his son that.”
    So, wait...Okkfel thinks Zuckuss is NOT the Uncanny one?

    “No need, Volokoss, Findslady Luyen.” Okkfel’s large, rough mandibles clacked as he straightened his robes. “It gladdens Okkfel to see that the youth is not completely devoid of spirit. He has the makings of a fine warrior. Taagu should not have underestimated him.”
    Is this Okkfel trolling him? Like, provoking him on purpose to see how physical he is? Okkfel, you are so confusing!

    The rest of the hunting exercise went smoothly. Even more so than Zuckuss had expected; it was as though lashing out at Okkfel had banished his anxiety and given him a new measure of intuitive clarity.
    Tough love apparently works sometimes? This is a neat parallel to how Zuckuss used to feel down when his father would ignore him. He's growing up and learning not to take offense.

    —No, no, it is gentler guidance that he needs. There is much that is troubling him deep within, and too hard a touch will only trouble him more.
    I'd agree with this particular silent voice. Also, just like everybody has said, it's clear who is who here and one is particularly cruel. I can completely understand how listening to this causes Zuckuss various kinds of pain, but I am wondering if they are doing this on purpose and just making him believe that they're not aware of it, through comments such as Okkfel's comment about the Uncanny one. Hmmm...[face_thinking]
    Kahara likes this.
  23. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    Chapter 9

    After the first couple of paragraphs, one has to wonder if there is balance between Zuckuss' pride and his humility. That alone might send him on a downward spiral.

    "the golden orb crossed by the dagger and the toothed key, and grasped by the clawed hand"
    You're not getting away, tell me more about this crest!


    The second part is where we finally get to see it - the dark side of Gand's merit-based culture. If the first chapter was heaven, this is its hellish counterpart. Even a greenish-eyed youngster is there, though serving as an accidental "attacker" as opposed to "prey". And then, as expected, the poor children are playing almost the same games as the elite ones. WOW. Shows that the values of a childhood are universal and unrelated to social status. =D=

    “Vee-oo-RAAAHN-vee.” - I looked up this word in your glossary, but I didn't find it. Are we supposed to find out what this word means at some point? And is it written in normal script, but phonetically, because this is some sort of a poor, nameless people slang that Zuckuss may not be able to understand?

    “LIAR!” The black-eyed boy’s mandibles clattered with rage. He grabbed the girl by the collar of her tunic and gave her a violent shove backward into a large mud puddle. Her basket and all the fruit in it flew in all directions, scattering and splattering on the cobblestones. The boy’s friends rushed to stomp on any fruit that did not squash upon impact.

    Ugh, bully. I don't even have to look further to know that she has the Force and that she will use it. It just had to happen. She is not a Carrie, she is a Matilda, but she is triggered the same way Carrie is.

    And yeah, a couple of rows later, I can see that I was right and that this nameless girl is a powerful Force-wielder.

    “It’s . . . it’s you.”

    “Have you seen Zuckuss before?” Zuckuss could not help but clack in puzzlement. “You speak as if you recognize him, but he has never been to N’xid before today.”

    “Well...” She trailed off, turning her eyes away. “Gand could be wrong . . .”

    “No matter. Take Zuckuss’s hand.”
    I am...melting now. Even though I am aware that she could be some sort of a malafemmena, I am melting. [face_love]

    Also, is this who I think it is? With everything I've seen so far and your attachment and your name and your avatar, it's got to be her and yes, I am not being humble here, I'm an Ewok, not a Gand, after all.

    And she knew he would come for her. She knew his face long before he was even aware of her. Romantic, with an underlying layer of creepy and...all kinds of tropes are popping up in my mind, as well as many myths and legends.

    With this, EP has officially caught up with BOG and she is glad that she did.
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  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Nice to see a new chapter with all the details of Gand life
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  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, what wonderful responses and reviews. I'm thrilled and humbled at the same time! Now, simply because there is SO MUCH HERE, I'm going to do this piecemeal: in this post I'll respond to the reviews posted by Kahara, Nyota's Heart, and earlybird-obi-wan. Then I'll need to devote at least one separate post to Ewok Poet 's amazingly thorough and astoundingly dissertative review.

    So not to worry, everyone will be responded to, and then it'll be on to chapter 10.

    And I am an exceedingly lucky skunk to have you as my beta. Just having an astute, careful reader like you go over these scribblings of mine before I present them to the public does so much for my writerly morale it's not even funny. Muchas gracias, danke schön, and todah rabbah. @};-

    Thank you all. I just really enjoy writing those kind of detailed descriptions of this 'n' that, to the point that I get carried away by them sometimes, and I am glad it's apparently not getting too tiresome. I think it's partly to do with the fact that I wish I could draw or paint some of these places and characters that I can see very vividly in my mind's eye, but since I can't draw worth shucks, I have to make do with the next best thing, which is drawing and painting with words.

    In the case of things like the portrait of Zukfel and facial expressions and body language, though, it's also a way of emphasizing once again that the characters of the story are aliens. It's a good reminder for me, too: being human myself, I'm likely to slip back into human imagery and features from time to time if I'm not careful.

    Thanks. :) I really wanted to be sure give some due time to the lower status bracket of Gand culture and life, especially since most of the Gands encountered in official literature are not members of that bracket, and to explore how they and those more elite Findsman castes view each other (you'll see more of that in the next chapter).

    Oh, indeed, he will have some issues there. And much of it does stem from his ambivalence on the whole Uncanny One issue, which of course is right at the heart of his troubled relationship with his father. I don't suppose anyone here will be surprised if I say that that ambivalence is going to be a recurring theme in this story. Still, one point of a mission like this is to give him something completely different to take his mind off that at least temporarily, because it's a lot for a young person to have on his mind. And, as you see, it is a good way of inculcating humility, too (see below).

    I'm glad you like him. :) With him I'm definitely going for a balance between no-nonsense and caring, which is something I personally like to see in teacher figures but is also something Zuckuss really needs at this point. And another thing he needs, of course, is a father figure who actually supports him and believes in him.

    Incidentally, when Ewok Poet first introduced me to the Ewoks TV series, I was struck by how much the character of the shaman Logray reminded me of my mental image of Volokoss—right down to that charmingly harried mood he sometimes gets into. :D

    Indeed, part of the point of sending him out to this remote, backrocket, poor colony is definitely to get himself outside the "comfort zone" of the somewhat rarefied Findsmen's world and introduce him to those other strata—and by doing so to test and build his character. I could see this being something that all Findsman apprentices get assigned to do at some point, not just Zuckuss (even though for him it's an especially apt lesson).

    Thanks. I'm so glad it comes off effectively, especially since I don't know as much as I should about the full range of Jedi techniques and abilities, so I'm not always sure when I might be unwittingly overlapping or duplicating something there. It's of course understood that an apprentice like Zuckuss is definitely not going to know how everything works, but I do like the idea that maybe that's true for more experienced Findsmen too. It would certainly accord well with the ethos of simply submitting oneself humbly to the revelation of the Mists.

    And of course the interesting thing about our hero is that it wasn't really all that long ago that he was in those children's shoes—he's still got the body of a near-adult, but the mind of a youth. Maybe that makes it extra bittersweet, even: both by virtue of his growth treatment and early apprenticeship, he's suddenly been catapulted into the role of the authority figure. And while he certainly feels uneasy about this, he really kind of relishes it at the same time (note his reaction to the children who ask for blessing).

    As Ewok Poet observed, that whole scene really turned out to be very much the darker, grittier counterpart of the chapter 1 hunt scene—and I emphasize turned out, because other than the general description of the marketplace (which I did directly compare to the Rhaguin marketplace) I hadn't really planned it that way (the second green-eyed child also just worked out that way, too, but you're absolutely right!).

    Thanks! This is very reassuring, because though she's a obviously showing some starchild-like (to use EP's term) characteristics too, I don't by any means want her to be invincible. For the idea of mystical powers being unleashed unexpectedly (and forbiddenly?) by emotional stress, I was partly inspired by Harry Potter's uncontrolled magic spells against his unsavory Aunt Marge in, I think it was, the third HP book.

    Thank you! :) The most I can say about her at this point is basically "[face_whistling]," but rest assured there will be more of her very soon.

    More soon, but thanks again to all. @};-
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