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Saga - PT The Jewels of . . . WHAT?! (Fic-Gift for Ewok Poet, borrowed OC)—COMPLETE as of 1/31

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!
    Era: Saga—PT; Imperial era, somewhere between the PT and OT
    Characters: Taide Lambrin (Ewok Poet ’s OC), Mammon Hoole, and watch for a few EC cameos as well . . .
    Summary: An archaeologist with expertise in Force-sensitive gems has the opportunity to observe a modern-day ritual involving such gems—and when he does, unexpected things happen.
    Genre: Humor, adventure, culture, scholarship, with a little intrigue thrown in. Short multichapter (3 chapters all right, fine, four).
    Contents: One (below) | Two | Three | Four
    Notes:
    Written for my good pal Ewok Poet as part of the 10th Annual (2016) Winter Holiday Fic-Gift Exchange.
    Her request was as follows:
    I would like a story in Saga (PT or OT) with:
    1. A conspiracy theory
    2. A Force nexus
    3. Universal love

    I don’t want:
    Poking fun at any SW species.

    Characters: Any canon character and, if possible, my OCs. The writer is welcome to invent OCs for this story, too, if there’s a need for a new one anywhere.
    Various Easter-egg-like references to elements of EP’s own stories may be sprinkled throughout this story. Some will be explained in the notes below, some won’t because I won’t be totally aware of them myself. :p I invite both her and anyone else familiar with her work to keep an eye out for them.
    And last but by no means least, many thanks to Raissa Baiard for beta-reading and being a wonderful sounding board. @};-



    The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!

    One

    Taide Lambrin, director of the Archaeological Museum of Anaslinea-Hoc, Vagran, was thoroughly enjoying his sabbatical.

    Over the past two standard years (for the museum’s sabbatical board always made sure to allow its fellows ample time for hyperspace travel), he had traveled to all the Galaxy’s major museums of archaeology, culture, and natural history collecting material for his magnum opus—a comprehensive study, including a complete catalog and full-color holoimages, of ancient artifacts made from Force-sensitive gemstones. Taide was widely recognized as one of the Core Region’s most renowned authorities on this subject, presenting regularly at conferences and publishing widely in journals of archaeology, sentientology, and gemology. After receiving his earliest training at the University of Abatore, also on his homeworld of Vagran, he had gone on to hold several prestigious university positions until his research interests led him back to his homeworld’s foremost museum of ancient lore.

    Today, however, he sat in a café in the library district of Cinnagar, Empress Teta, enjoying a mug of cassius tree tea after a productive day of research, note-taking, and holography at the Great Library of Cinnagar, which thanks to an anonymous, eccentric donor was in possession of a not inconsiderable collection of Sith Civil War-era lightsaber crystals. It was around 1530 hours, and the café was empty except for Taide and a dour-faced elderly female Twi’lek nursing an indeterminate but foul-smelling hot beverage in a corner. She had eyed Taide sidelong as he entered, as though he were a mischief-prone grand-youngling. He, of course, ignored her and seated himself at a booth at the opposite end of the room.

    He had been there no more than a quarter of an hour, sipping his tea and reviewing and organizing his notes from the day, when a voice startled him.

    “Well, well, well. If it isn’t the one and only Taide Lambrin.”

    Taide jumped, almost spilling his tea on his datapad. The dour-faced elderly Twi’lek was standing over him, glaring at him with eyes narrowed and lips pursed. But what Taide saw next surprised him even more. The Twi’lek’s limbs began to lengthen and bulge grotesquely, her facial features contorted wildly, and her skin faded from yellow-green to pale gray. In a few moments she was no more, and in her place stood one of Taide's best old friends from his student years—the eminent sentientologist Mammon Hoole, a member of the shapeshifting Shi’ido species.

    “Mammon! Of all the—!” Taide sprang to his feet, and the two embraced heartily. “You haven’t changed a bit!”

    “Yes, people do tell me that often.”

    “All the same, you gave me quite a fright, you old rascal, you!”

    “Sorry about that.” A sheepish smile crossed the Shi’ido’s gaunt, pale gray face. “Oolteema Moonyeka tends to have that effect on people, even if she is useful for researching attitudes toward the aged. May I join you?”

    “Yes, of course!” Taide gestured to the bench opposite him, on which Mammon seated himself. “So now, old friend! How are you?”

    “Very well, thanks, very well indeed. At present just between sessions at IGSSA.” Taide nodded in recognition of the initials of the Intergalactic Society for Sentientology and Anthropology, in which his friend was a prominent presence; this was indeed around the time of year when they held their annual conference. “I’ll be giving the keynote lecture this evening at 1900. But what about you, Taide, old fellow? What brings you to this fair ecumenopolis?”

    Taide told him of his sabbatical research on the lightsaber crystals at the Great Library of Cinnagar and of his book project on Force-sensitive jewels. Mammon listened with great interest.

    “Force-sensitive jewels, eh?” he said. “So does this mean that the sun festival project is on hold? Your Iasonné paper at the ’05 Chandrila residency was quite the sensation.”

    Taide sighed. He remembered those days well, and that paper. It was the University of Chandrila Residencies in Sentient Studies that had first brought him and Mammon Hoole together as friends. And it was after that paper that he had been so effusively congratulated by a certain red-headed, blue-eyed art historian from Sacorria—the one who, regrettably, had gone on to marry that smarmy, silver-tongued engineer fellow . . .

    “Well, I’m more of an archaeologist now,” Taide sighed at last. “Cultural sentientology isn’t really . . . my area anymore, you know.”

    “Yes, I know.” Mammon nodded, and they were both silent for a few moments. Then, suddenly, the Shi’ido perked up, as if an idea had occurred to him.

    “But say, Taide, if Force jewels are your area now . . . do you have any plans for next month?”

    “Not currently. I was just going to spend the time writing up at my sister and brother-in-law’s in Thaeme. Why?”

    “Because if you like”—the Shi’ido leaned across the table—“you could come with me to the Days of Love and Light on Khorassan!”

    “The what on Coruscant?”

    “The Days of Love and Light. On Khorassan, not Coruscant. In the Kanson-Wiss Sector. Don’t tell me you didn’t come across them in your sun festival research.” Seeing Taide wince at this, Mammon changed the subject. “Well, I guess it’s technically more of a love festival—universal, unconditional love among sentient beings, that kind of thing,” he added hastily as Taide winced again. “Anyway, at the ceremony where they crown the Veiled Queen of Love for the year, the court dancers wear breastplates set with ultima pearls.”

    “Real ultima pearls?” Taide grimaced incredulously. “Are you sure? I have never heard of those occurring anywhere besides Dac.”

    “Perhaps they traded for them? I don’t know. But that is what Ditwar Logas says in his JIGSSA article on power and ceremonial in Human settlements in the Kanson-Wiss Sector. And besides”—he lowered his voice almost to a whisper—“the Veiled Queen herself wears a tiara set with a rare blush-green solari crystal.”

    At this Taide’s eyes and mouth sprang open to their fullest. “A blush-green solari crystal?!”

    “Yes. The Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina, they call it. Now don’t ask me who or what Mak-Gu-Fina is, but according to Ditwar, the gem dates from the earliest Human settlements on Khorassan—around the time of the First Rakatan Empire. Now tell me if that’s in your catalog, Taide, m’boy.”

    “Well, um . . .” Taide began to check his datapad but put it down again. “No, I don’t think so. All I have from the Kanson-Wiss Sector so far is that pair of cufflinks that belonged to the first mayor of Mayzopolis.”

    “Then by all means you should come! I’ll give you the comm frequency of the Khorassani culture ministry. They’ll be more than happy to arrange for you to examine and holograph the jewels. What do you say, Taide, old fellow?”

    Taide thought for a moment. He had been looking forward to some uninterrupted free time after his sabbatical period, both to rest from his travels and to get as much of his manuscript written up as possible. But these Days of Love and Light certainly sounded like the chance of a lifetime for a researcher of Force jewels. It was not often in these post-Jedi Order times that Force-attuned ornaments of any kind were actually still used in living rituals and not just boxed up in transparisteel museum cases—those that Taide remembered coming across in his earlier research could be counted on one Human hand, and possibly even on one Yarkora, Zylurian, Gand, or Ewok hand. Besides, there would be plenty of time for writing up—publishers were never really as strict about their deadlines as they claimed to be, after all.

    “By all means,” he finally said. “Count me in.”

    To be continued . . .

    The character Taide Lambrin first appears in entry 39 of EP’s Letters Never Sent and is first named (though only by his first name) in entry 40. She told me his last name in a personal communication. As for the exact relative chronology of my story and Letters, I hope EP won’t mind if I leave that up to her—she’s got a much better head for such things!

    Anaslinea-Hoc: EP’s fanon. A beautiful, richly historical seaside town on Vagran’s Kaz’aan Bay, it figures prominently in her epics Letters Never Sent and The Black Star (primarily in part two), and is at the center of her story series Forever Away from Home.

    Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina: My fanon. Three guesses where its name comes from. :p

    Iasonné: EP’s fanon. The yellow-dwarf sun of the Vagran system, named for the legendary founder of Vagran (see her fanon post on Vagran).

    Intergalactic Society for Sentientology and Anthropology (IGSSA): My fanon. JIGSSA, in turn, is none other than the Journal of the Intergalactic Society for Sentientology and Anthropology, and yes, it’s pronounced “jigsaw.” This is a takeoff on a similar situation with a real-life scholarly society I belong to: the American Musicological Society is known mostly as AMS (“ay em ess”), but the Journal of the American Musicological Society is JAMS—which is always pronounced like the word “jams.”

    Kanson-Wiss Sector: My fanon, but named by Raissa Baiard. Again, three guesses where its name comes from. :D

    Khorassan, Days of Love and Light, Veiled Queen of Love: My fanon. The Days of Love and Light are named for this hand lotion from Lush, which is one of EP’s favorites. The Veiled Queen and associated ceremonial are very loosely adapted from the practices surrounding the Veiled Prophet and the Queen of Love and Beauty at the Veiled Propet Ball held each year in St. Louis, Missouri, USA; I basically mashed the Prophet and the Queen into a single figure. (This is also the source of the name Khorassan, as the Veiled Prophet’s full title is “Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.”)

    Mayzopolis: My fanon. Capital of my fanon planet Mayno-Mayzee (encountered in my stories “A Lesson under the Arboray Trees?” and “Commence Orbital Bombardment!”). Note that this of course places Mayno-Mayzee in the Kanson-Wiss sector as well (its sector is not established in those other two stories).

    Oolteema Moonyeka: OC. A nod to EP’s OC Oolteema Misura, the protagonist of her story The Map of the Dead. Just as Oolteema Misura’s name comes from the Italian ultima misura (“final measure”), Oolteema Moonyeka’s name is based on the custom of the última muñeca (“last doll”) at quinceañera celebrations.

    "red-headed, blue-eyed art historian from Sacorria—the one who, regrettably, had gone on to marry that smarmy, silver-tongued engineer fellow": EP will know who these people are, but for those who don't, it's [hl=black]her OCs Maris Inesedam (later Maris Inesedam-Vorr) and Elesandre Vorr, parents of Doria Vorr[/hl].

    Thaeme: EP’s fanon. One of the principal cities on Vagran (see her fanon post on Vagran).

    Wookieepedia links:
    cassius tree tea: see under http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Tea
    Dac (the proper name of the Mon Calamari homeworld): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dac
    Ditwar Logas: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ditwar_Logas
    Great Library of Cinnagar: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Great_Library_of_Cinnagar
    Mammon Hoole: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Mammon_Hoole (Note: I don’t buy this “(Indeterminate) Hoole” business. That was just laziness on the part of those guidebook authors. :p )
    sentientology: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sentientologist
    solari crystal: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Solari
    ultima pearl: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ultima-Pearl
     
  2. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    :eek: Oh, this is fun - apologies to Ewok Poet for taking the first post, but I'm a big fan of Force-esoterica, especially Legends crystal lore ... :D

    Fascinating start, Findswoman. =D=
     
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  3. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    I love the idea of this seemingly being an archaeological adventure! Learning and adventure! Perfect!

    I'm super excited to learn more about this festival, though from your summary, I'm sure things are about to go a little haywire! But that should be a lot of fun! :D

    I love how rich your writing is, I really feel like I'm almost in the room just watching things happen, not reading them on a screen. I liked the part where Mammon looks like a Twi'lek and scares Taide, the description of his transformation was really cool!

    Thank you for the notes at the end, I especially enjoyed the information on JIGSSA and how it is pronounced jigsaw. I'm a sucker for funny acronyms.

    I'm looking forward to the next parts and to see where this adventure takes us!

    =D=
     
  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Onderon1 - This is where I am totally NOT telling you that [hl=black]my whole microuniverse sort of revolves around that kind of stuff because I'm obsessed with it[/hl]. You have never read that, mmmkay? :p

    Now, this is my best attempt to comment without writing "Scientologist" instead of "sentientologist". :D

    Love the idea of Taide taking a break to focus on his academic improvement and the background you gave him based on my vague notes is amazing. The IGGSA, the Iassoné Festival, the University of Chandrila Residencies in Sentient Studies. These things need to be a thing, absolutely.

    Loved it that Mammon Hoole posed as an old and frail Twi'lek woman. We're used to seeing Twi'lek women as these heavily sexualised characters who exist solely to please - though Hera changed that stereotype to a certain extent - and there it is, an old lady drinking something that doesn't even give an impression that it's food. And since I looked up the tradition that inspired the name of Oolteema Moonyeka - that kind of fits, too.

    I can totally imagine Taide's facial expression when Mammon changes to his presence. And then...out of all possible things...

    The other absolutely LMAO moment is when Mammon talks about those bedazzled breastplates and Taide reacts exactly how we would expect him to - who cares about the scantily-clad dancers, they might be wearing RARE.FORCE.SENSITIVE.JEWELS.

    Also love it how the perils of your job found their way here:

    And, last but not the least, Kanson-Wiss Sector, Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina, Love and Light reference and...YOUR PLANET OF OFFICE SUPPLIES!

    When you told me that you were writing for me and that Taide would be the protagonist of the story, I knew that it would feature some crazy plot. I'm dead curious to see where you will take it and I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment. :D Thank you, thank you, thank you. ^:)^[face_dancing][face_love]
     
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  5. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Hey, nothing wrong with attention to detail. ;)

    I just realized, something, though, on a reread ... if the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina dates to around the First Rakatan Empire ... [face_worried]

    Oh, Taide. Be careful. Be very careful ...
     
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  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and commenting! Great to have you here. And EP, I'm so glad this is to your liking. :)


    Thanks so much! As EP herself mentioned, some of this stuff does crop up from time to time in her stories, so I thought it would be a good fit—and it's always fun to learn new lore about the universe in the course of story research. A lot of this particular lore was new to me, so I hope it won't disappoint!

    Going slightly out of order for a moment to your other comment:


    Oh ho, oh ho! Just wait and see what happens. :D

    Thanks so much, mav! I guess it did kind of end up with a slight Indiana Jones-type tinge, though as you'll see there will be both similarities and differences. And based on my own background in academia, I couldn't help squeeze some of that in too.

    The next chapter will definitely tell more about the festival. And haywire will indeed happen further down the line—just wait and see. :D

    Thanks, that's quite a compliment! I enjoy writing those kind of descriptions, though I sometimes fear I overdo it and cause things to get bogged down, so if you feel it was effective I'm very glad to know. :) Given that Mammon Hoole is a shapeshifter in the official lore, I did want to get that ability of his into this story—and what better way than to use that ability to totally nonplus an old friend he hasn't seen in years? Plus, in keeping with what EP says below, it was a fun way to overturn some of the stereotypes around certain species.

    I like funny acronyms, too! That particular one just sort of happened; I had come up with IGSSA first and then noticed how totally perfect it became when that one J for "journal" gets stuck on the beginning. And I lately have been putting explanatory notes at the end of pretty much every story I write; I think that too must be some of my background sneaking in. Must! Document! Everything! :p

    'Twill be coming soon! :)

    And now on to EP, the dedicatee of the story—I'm so thrilled you're enjoying it so much! :)

    And that, ladies and gents, is precisely why I set the story up the way I did to begin with. ;)

    A challenge, I know. :p

    [ K-2SO ] Well, they are now! [ /K-2SO ] :p Seriously, though, I am so glad you like what I've done with the character—I liked him a lot in Letters Never Sent (even if the reader's first impression of him is a bit of a morbid-wacky one—but it's just a matter of givig him a chance and getting to know him better, right?), and it's been fun and engaging to write him.

    Hey, if those young, nubile Twi'lek women we see all over the GFFA are lucky, they'll someday reach Oolteema Moonyeka's age and look like her! :p Playing around with (and partially thumbing my nose at) that stereotype was pretty much exactly my idea here. And given that the custom of the "last doll" is part of a coming-of-age tradition, after all, and I just sort of thought I'd turn the "age" concept around 180 degrees or so, too. :p

    That I just simply couldn't help but in. The fellow is a shapeshifter, after all. And one could say that the fact that he changed when and where he did—knowing the reaction it would get out of his old colleague—is itself proof that he hasn't really changed! :p

    Ah, but who says the dancers are scantily clad? You'll see more about their clothing in the next chapter. But yes, of course, the jewels are much more interesting to Taide than the people wearing them, and that's a motif that will continue.

    Ah yes, good catch there! That was another one in the "just couldn't help myself" category—self-deprecating humor for the win, or some such. :p

    It all just seemed right... and that goes for all those things! Though I have to give the credit for Kanson-Wiss to Raissa Baiard —she was the one who suggested I name it after my state of residence, and from there the whole sector kind of snowballed into being a sort of Midwestern United States... IN SPAAAACE. (And yes, there will be eventually be a fanon post. But the emphasis for now is on "eventually," because RL.)

    And now I will say that I have not one but two—count 'em, two—stories referencing Lush products. That may or may not be some kind of record. :p


    You're very, very welcome! [face_love] Again, I'm just thrilled that you're enjoying things so far, and it's all the least I could do given everything. @};- There will be more very soon indeed, so do keep watching this space!
     
  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    [face_dancing] Hooray for the Midwest in SPAAAACE! Star Wars loves to give us exotic planets with extreme landscapes, but we just don't get enough bucolic Midwestern-type locations (possibly with contentedly grazing bovids. ;)) Being a lifelong Midwesterner, I'm familiar with the RL parade and festival that inspired the Days of Love and Light. It's cool to have it become part of the GFFA.

    This is my first encounter with Taide Lambrin; he's quite an interesting character--it's always good to see more scholarly/academic characters in fan fic, which is usually dominated by Jedi, smugglers, bounty hunters and other assorted rogues. Taide is not so much Indiana Jones as Marcus Brody, Indy's more scholarly and occasionally befuddled sidekick. Again, I think it's fun to play against type here and let the academic have his own adventure.

    And, as always, I adore your punny sense of humor! :D I love a good (and by good, I mean bad) pun, the cheesier, the better...and indeed, cheesy is what one would expect from the Kanson-Wiss sector [face_cow] JIGGSA is a clever and apt name for the journal of a society that devotes itself to puzzling out the obscure, and the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina gets the Adventure Story Award for Truth in Advertising:)

    A great start to what promises to be a very fun adventure! =D= Can't wait to see more!
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Hope no one minds my responding to this so quickly—it's just so I can post the next installment in a timely manner.

    Well, thank you, and thanks once again for your own integral role in the genesis of the story—I couldn't have done it without your help! :) I too have lived mostly in the Midwest, and I think it's high time that that region and its particular brand of bucolicism (bovids and all) got some love in the GFFA. Too many exotic landscapes means that none of them are—and flat cornfields dotted with small towns have their own special charm, too. :)

    I agree—scholars, librarians, and academic types need more love in the GFFA, too! (That was one thing about Rogue One that got my goat—seriously, the Empire has its great big main archive on Scarif and no one is overseeing it in any way? I mean, besides random armed guards and such here and there, but I bet you ten to one they never cataloged anything in their life. :p ) And of course I much, much recommend Letters Never Sent, in which Taide is introduced, but you know that ( :p ), and I know you're in the process of working your way through it—so you'll come across him soon. He really is a pretty cool character, even though we don't see much of him. I'm pretty sure he'll be back in future Ewok Poet oeuvres, though!

    [face_cow], indeed! Puns and wordplays are pretty much my favorite variety of humor (as is probably amply clear to anyone who has read even one of my more humorous stories :p ). Kanson-Wiss, however, I owe all to you. It is at once perfectly punny, perfectly GFFA-ish, and perfect for the corner of space that this ended up being. :cool:

    Worked out pretty cleverly, if I do say so meself! :D And of course that was exactly the point with the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina. I racked and racked my brains about what to call the darn thing, and then it came to me: why on earth not just call it what it is? :p


    Soon and very soon...! :D

    Thanks again for commenting, and for all your vital help in getting this off the ground. You have been the perfect beta for the project! @};-
     
  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Here comes chapter two, with all the best Christmas wishes to Ewok Poet and, again, much gratitude to Raissa Baiard for beta-reading and vital input. @};-


    Two

    A month later

    Taide spent the three-day hyperspace journey to Khorassan reading all he could about the Days of Love and Light and its associated customs. Mammon had loaded several relevant articles onto his datapad, including Ditwar Logas’s seminal study of power and ceremonial in the Kanson-Wiss sector, and Taide himself had located a few more on JenthSTOR and the other usual scholarly databases, along with one of those Lonely Galaxy travel guides.

    The Days of Love and Light, he learned, had begun some five standard millennia ago as a celebration of a peace treaty between Khorassan and the neighboring world of Mayno-Mayzee (whose equivalent celebration was the Sun Corn Festival). Previously known simply as the Peace Festival, the celebration’s current name dated only from about two hundred years ago, when both planets joined the Galactic Republic, and the emphasis of the celebration expanded to celebrate not just one local treaty but also friendship and goodwill among residents of all the Galaxy’s worlds (though Mayno-Mayzee’s celebration continued to be known as the Sun Corn Festival). In recent decades Khorassan’s festival had begun to draw a fairly respectable number of offworld visitors, and Khorassan had already gained a certain reputation for generosity and hospitality.

    The Days of Love and Light took place over three days at the very beginning of Khorassan’s spring season—three being the number of wholeness and tranquility in ancient Khorassani lore. On the first day, the Love and Light Parade traversed the capital city of Khorassograd, and all three days of the festival were filled with games, performances, and other events. But it was on the evening of the third day that the festival’s most distinctive event took place: the coronation ceremony of that year’s Veiled Queen of Love.

    No one, of course, knew who the Veiled Queen of Love was in any given year—no one except the culture ministry subcommittee in charge of organizing the festivities. According to longstanding rules of the festival, the names of past Queens were only to be released to the public after their death. Originally they were daughters of Kanson-Wiss Sector society notables—bank presidents, prominent civil servants, holomedia bigwigs, and the like—but in recent decades some Queens had been chosen from elsewhere in the Galaxy as well. (Taide read, for instance, of an amusing case where a roughly circus-tent-sized veil had the locals conjecturing that that year’s Queen was a Hutt. That same Queen, at a pivotal moment during the coronation ceremony, was reported to have shattered all bonds of etiquette by exclaiming “This is sooo mahvelous, dahling!”).

    The ceremony was open to the public for a fee, though it was a substantial fee, and admission sales closed a week before the festival; thankfully Mammon had already procured tickets from his culture ministry contacts. Taide was intrigued to note that the venue of the ceremony shared its name with the gem in the Queen’s crown: it was the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, an ancient structure outside the Khorassograd city limits that—like the jewels themselves—dated from around the time the First Rakatan Empire. Elaborate processions and dances by members of the Queen’s court—also chosen by the culture ministry subcommittee—preceded the final ceremonial coronation, when the jeweled tiara would at last be placed upon the Queen’s head.

    Naturally, theories and conjectures abounded. Members of Prominent Family X would insist that the Veiled Queen of Love was always the eldest unmarried adult female member of Prominent Family Y; members of Prominent Family Y insisted the same about Prominent Family X. Some were of the opinion that the Queen was a droid that was reused year after year; a few claimed she was a corpse animated remotely by telekinesis, even though it was well known that no one could do that in this day and age. And of course there those who were certain the Queen was a spy for whichever political faction was unpopular at the moment: Separatists, Republic, Empire, Rebellion.

    But Taide, being an archaeologist rather than a sentientologist, was naturally less interested in the Queen herself than the ancient jewels worn by her and her court. Ditwar Logas’s article quoted several eyewitness accounts, both ancient and modern, that spoke of the strange gleam given off by the jewels during the festivities—a gleam that some described in such terms as “dazzling” and “blinding.” Logas had no explanation of his own for this phenomenon, having never observed it himself, though he cited several theories that were in circulation—theories at least as outlandish as those regarding the identity of the Queen. Apparently, some insisted the glowing stones were actually electronic photoreceptors and held them up as proof that the dancers, like the Queen herself, were actually all droids. Others claimed that the dancers’ breastplates concealed some sort of transmitters that were being used to send secret messages far across the holo-ether to whichever political faction they happened to disagree with. And then there was some crazy old mother avian’s tale about the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina having the power to reveal the savior of the known galaxy when the time was right. As if such a person were at all likely to show up at a glorified Outer Rim debutante ball, Taide mused to himself.

    “Taide, old boy!”

    Taide’s thoughts were interrupted by the arrival at his side of a chubby, charcoal-gray Drall. He recognized the newcomer at once as Mammon Hoole, who had assumed this latest disguise in order to avail himself of the transport ship’s deep-discount ultracompact berths.

    “Oh, hello, Mamm—I mean, Mastigophoros.”

    “Mastigophilos, but you were close.” The disguised Shi’ido peeked over at Taide’s datapad screen. “Ditwar again? Gee Whills, Taide, have you read anything else this whole trip?”

    “Of course I have! The S’suam, the Gyyrtz, and the Lonely Galaxy guide. But Ditwar does say the most about the jewels.”

    “Of course. I should have guessed.” Mammon chuckled as he pulled up a chair beside Taide. “So, old fellow, what is your professional opinion of it all? Any thoughts, theories, hypotheses, wild guesses?”

    “Well, it’s hard to say . . . all this business about the way the gems glow during the ceremonies in the temple . . . if they really do that—”

    “Oh, they do, believe me, they do. Or at least they did five years ago.”

    “Well, if they do, it’s . . . consistent with the way solaris and kybers and the like are known to behave in”—he glanced around for a moment, almost fearfully—“in certain environments.”

    “Certain environments?” The shapeshifter knit his furry grey brow incredulously. “What in the Galaxy are you talking about?”

    Taide glanced about again. “I mean, certain environments that are especially rich in—”

    But just then a siren sounded, alerting the passengers that the transport ship had reentered realspace and that they should return to their quarters and secure themselves for landing—so Taide was obliged to part from his friend with a brief “I’ll tell you later.”

    * * *

    It was still a full day before the official beginning of the Days of Love and Light, but Taide and Mammon (now back in his regular form) were thoroughly impressed with the kindness and hospitality of the citizens of Khorassograd. Workers from the spaceport, both organics and droids, cheerfully helped carry the travelers’ luggage all the way to the guesthouse where they had reserved rooms—and refused tips when the two travelers offered them. Along the way children on the street presented them with flowers and sweets. Once they reached the guesthouse, its owners—a married couple of late middle age—invited the two to dine with them in the on-premises restaurant for no additional charge, then furnished them liberally with city maps, brochures on various festival events, and advice about the coronation ceremony (“put on some long underwear, because that temple tends to get drafty, and wear sensible shoes, because some of those floor stones tend to wobble”). Their rooms were absolutely perfect, with spotless linen, comfortable bedding, modern fixtures, and easily customizable environmental controls.

    Early next day, the festivities began in earnest with the Love and Light Parade. The guesthouse owners had kindly arranged for Taide and Mammon to watch from the balcony of a friend’s apartment (though from up there it was difficult to catch the candy, trinkets, or credit chits thrown by the denizens of the repulsorfloats). It was a fairly typical small-planet parade, featuring notable personalities, businesses, and amateur musical societies from around the Kanson-Wiss Sector. The very last float, however—for which the two travelers were directed to stand—held the Queen of Love and Light, surrounded by her court dancers. The dancers wore their customary costumes—flowing sea-green and pink gowns of whispersilk-like material, along with the pearled breastplates—and were scattering flowers to the crowd. But the Queen, clad in plain white, sat absolutely motionless atop a tower-like structure at the center of the float, bareheaded except for the opaque, featureless white veil that hung past her knees.

    “To represent that true sentient love is steadfast and unchanging,” Mammon explained.

    “Ah ha.” Taide’s reply was absent, distant; he was watching the pearls more closely than he was the people wearing them.

    “While the dancers and their flowers represent grace, flexibility, generosity.”

    “Ah ha.”

    “You will be quizzed, you know.”

    “Ah ha.”

    There was a pause, and then Mammon asked, “Say, I don’t suppose the ultima pearls are doing anything . . . special right now?”

    “Nope, just glinting in the sunlight.”

    “Ah ha.”

    * * *

    That afternoon Taide went to the headquarters of the culture ministry to study and holograph the ceremonial jewels. The culture minister herself—a lady of about fifty with lavishly spiked hair and violently pink lipstick—was there to welcome him, and conducted him personally to the vacant office that had been set aside for his use. As Taide worked, the minister’s secretaries brought him caf and cookies—which he accepted graciously but pushed to the opposite end of the desk so as to avoid any mishaps.

    As the sun was setting, the two sat together over a light supper in the guesthouse restaurant and talked over their day. Mammon recounted how he had gone out for a walk in the form of the elderly Oolteema Moonyeka and had been helped across the street no fewer than four times. “And how about you, Taide, old chum?” he asked at last. “Did you find anything out at the culture ministry?”

    “Not much, really,” answered the Human. “The ultima pearls are fairly all fairly representative specimens. The solari crystal, though, that’s another story. The blush-green ones extremely quite rare, you know, almost as rare as the black ones. I might have told you about the one in that brooch that I found back home in the ruins near—”

    “Yes, yes, yes, fine. But I want to hear about the one you saw today. Did it do anything?”

    “What do you mean, do anything?”

    “Well, gleaming or glowing or vibrating or—”

    “Why in the Galaxy would it do anything like that?

    “Didn’t you say they would in the right kind of environment?”

    Taide struck his fork against the table in frustration. “I wasn’t in the right kind of environment, Mammon! It was an unused office at the culture ministry, for Goddess’ sake!”

    “My apologies. How would I know? I’m just a lowly sentientologist.”

    “It’s all right.” Taide took a deep breath and a sip of his caf. “If you really do want to know, I tried wearing the tiara myself. I had one of the secretaries put it on. I put it on at least two of the statues in the rotunda. I lined it up with one of the ultima pearls and shone a light through it. But nothing happened. And nothing will unless it’s in the right kind of environment.” He struck his fork again for added emphasis.

    “And what, pray tell, is the right kind of environment? You said you would tell me, but you haven’t yet.”

    “Oh, you know, a location that’s considered to be particularly strong in mystical energy fields and that sort of thing. I think it’s entirely possible that this Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina place—”

    “Oh good stars, Taide!” Now it was Mammon’s turn to strike a piece of flatware against the table, in this case his knife, and the impact was enough to make a small amount of his caf splash out of the cup. “Do you really and truly think there’s anything to that nonsense?”

    “Who really knows?” The Human shrugged. “I’ve certainly come across some things in the ruins back home that make me wonder. One just has to keep an open mind, and that’s what I intend to do when we go to the coronation ceremony tomorrow.”

    The Shi’ido shook his head. “Honestly, just listen to you. Next you’ll be telling me you believe all those crazy theories about how the Veiled Queen might be the savior of the Galaxy and so forth.”

    “Quite the contrary,” returned Taide. “I consider it far more likely that she’s a droid.”

    He smiled, Mammon smiled, and the two of them clinked their caf cups together.

    To be continued . . .



    Again, everything about the Days of Love and Light and all of their associated history and ceremonial is my own fanon.

    The innkeepers and the culture minister are ad-hoc OCs and are not based on anyone in particular, though EP has a very nice, very salt-of-the-earth innkeeper character, Laoda Caraway Kaeni, who appears in both Letters Never Sent and The Black Star.

    “for Goddess’ Sake”: EP will recognize this as the Vagranian divinity known as the Goddess of Chiro Mountain, who is first encountered (at least sort of) in entry 36 of Letters Never Sent.

    “Gee Whills”: My fanon, and pretty clever, if I do say so myself!

    JenthSTOR: My fanon. Based on the RL scholarly-journal database JSTOR (www.jstor.org).

    Lonely Galaxy: My fanon. Based on the RL Lonely Planet series of travel guides (www.lonelyplanet.com).

    Mastigophoros: The name Mastigophorous is canon and belongs to both a Drall clan and a city on Drall. I first learned of it in entry 16 of EP’s Letters Never Sent. (And yes, I’m aware that mastigophoros means “whip-bearing” and mastigophilos “whip loving,” but I don’t mean anything in particular by it—I’m just riffing on an already-established name.)

    S’suam, Gyyrtz: My fanon. Named for pioneering RL anthropologists Marcel Mauss and Clifford Geertz.

    Sun Corn Festival: A takeoff on various summertime and harvest-time Sweet Corn Festivals held at various places throughout the Midwest (the closest one to me being that of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA).

    “that that year’s Queen was a Hutt”: If you are familiar with my other short stories, you may recognize who this is. ;)

    “the one in that brooch that I found back home in the ruins near—”: A reference to the archaeological findings mentioned in Letters Never Sent, entry 39, outside Taide’s hometown of Anaslinea-Hoc.

    Wookieepedia links:
    Drall (a species that features prominently in EP’s oeuvre): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Drall_(species)
    kyber (crystal): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Kyber_crystal

     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  10. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Well, I was going to guess that the largish Veiled Queen was
    Eliskandra before her shifting to Eliskandro, but that's Chyntuck's character ... unless she let you borrow our favorite detective?
     
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  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014

    Ah, well, you see...

    I have a fabulous Hutt character too: Bonvika Deseradii Feolla, known as Great Bonvika—she's a culture vulture, a patroness of the arts in Hutt Space, and a connoisseur of any and all things beautiful and belle vie-related. You can read about her in the first three vignettes in my Fragments & Miscellanea thread and in my story "In Search of a Hutt's Dinner Music," and you'll see that she talks a lot of "mahvelous" talk too. :)
     
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  12. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    I love this. It's like Mardi Gras in Iowa! I am so familiar with the world of academia, and it is interesting to explore it in the context of GFFA, which is usually associated with starship battles and lightsaber clashes.

    Although Lothal as portrayed in SW:Rebels makes me think of the Midwest: lots of plains full of grass. Not much grazing going on, but the Imperial Navy has a lot of mouths to feed, and we did see the farmers who'd been displaced, so maybe the bovids are burgers by now. [face_cow]

    I can't really add much that hasn't already been said and commented on, although...JenthSTOR! [face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh]


    It is interesting to read about a slice of 'normalcy,' which is probably accurate for this point in the Saga. Of course, we know there will be...complications.

    Love it so far, Findswoman!
     
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  13. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    This sounds like quite the festival! I really enjoyed learning about it!

    I especially loved all the theories based around who the Queen is, especially:
    In my mind I immediately saw a Weekend at Bernie's situation, but Bernie with all kinds of bling on! :p
    It made me laugh pretty hard!

    All the talk of the Queen being the savior of the galaxy has me thinking there may be more to that than they think. [face_thinking]

    Great chapter!
    =D=
     
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  14. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A-HA! :D I hadn't even thought it might be
    Her Excellence.

    Apologies for my boorishness. [face_blush]
     
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  15. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Yay, more "Jewels". :D

    I love all your background on Ditwar Logas. From what I have seen, there is not much about him on the Wook, so most of this is...your creation. And it's awesome. An authority character for Taide and others to look up to. Such things are often tricky to get right and to achieve consistency with, so you had a lot to pay attention to here and you managed to make it consistent. Love it!

    I will remember what you said about that Kanson-Wiss fanon post and bother you about that every day. And it'd better include all these festivals and a story of how they came to be.

    Am I a pest if I ask what they do on the second day? I imagined that they would end the first day with a huge meal in the centre of Khorassograd and then take the route back to the starting point at the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina on the second day, but perhaps I just have weird imagination and this doesn't make sense. :p Anyway, not saying that this is a suggestion, buuuut....;)

    Of course that somebody like Mammon would shapeshift into a Drall with a name as pretentious as Mastigophilos *snort* to save some credits...but this time, he didn't freak out Taide. In fact, one of the most comical thing about this story is how Taide is getting used to his friend's weirdness. :p The same is true other way round - Mammon does not seem to be that weirded out by Taide's almost-obsessive attention to details.

    OK, these two people are the King and Queen of useless advice. They must be from your Germany-planet. :D // bad joke.

    I can totally see what Taide is getting at with the blush-green solari crystals and the temple itself, but given the temple's name and the fact that the others might be spoiled, I'm just going to whistle and laugh at the deadpan ah-ha convo and the idea of Taide putting the tiara on himself, then putting it on the secretary and the statues. :D

    [face_whistling]
     
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  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Are you sure you don't mean
    Her Worshipfullness?
     
  17. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    [face_dancing] A new chapter...more scholarly humor (JenthSTOR, Lonely Galaxy), more Midwestern charm!

    Once again, I love seeing the Midwest transported to the GFFA, with all the friendly, helpful, cheerful inhabitants. They seem to have come straight from a Norman Rockwell painting (and now I want to see Norman Rockwell paintings with SW characters. :D) The innkeeper and his wife are certainly salt-of-the-earth types, with all their maps and practical advice (underwear and shoes are important@Ewok Poet), and of course they make sure their guests are FED. The Sun Corn Festival is certainly a familiar fixture; I think there are two or three near me, and all the theories about the Queen, local families and political factions are pure small town gossip.

    Lovely description of the "fairly typical small-planet parade." The "ah-ha" exchanges between Mammon and Taide were priceless, especially since, as Ewok Poet pointed out earlier, Taide is much more interested in the jeweled costumes than the lovely young things wearing them. ;). It's fun to see how Taide dances around what makes the "right kind of environment" to activate the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina..must not mention *gasp* the Force! And yet that has a serious side in a time where it could be imprudent or even dangerous to speak the word.

    This:
    has me wondering who is actually under all that white whispersilk and what's going to happen at the coronation. [face_thinking]

    Mahvelous cameo by Great Bonvika, the most mahvelously fabulous Hutt of them all :*

    Looking forward to your next chapter! =D=
     
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Once again, thank you all for reading! I'm only sorry that I've taken so long both to respond to these comments and to post more of the story, but RL has been doing a real number on me these days. So here goes:

    Thanks so much, and it's great to have you here! Yep, "Mardi Gras in Iowa" is pretty much the very vibe I'm going for here. I have a background in academia too and currently working in what one might call the "alt-ac" sector, and heck, the Galaxy is such a big place that there simply must be that kind of thing going on it somewhere! There's tiny bits of it in things like those aliens guides (which was where I first found Mammon Hoole), but not much else. And I'd definitely be interested to hear more about your own academic background and what you do. :)

    A sad moo, indeed. [face_cow] Hopefully at least a few of them are just milk and cream. I still need to see Rebels—everyone I've talked to about it likes it a lot.

    That's one from the "couldn't help myself" files! I used JSTOR all the time at school and I still use it a good bit at work, so why on earth shouldn't I put it into a story? :D

    Oh yes, that's for sure... though again, given how big the Galaxy is, there simply have to be times when just plain old Regular Stuff happens, and that's something I love writing about (I have an OC that's an insurance agent in Coruscant, for example). And let's face it: for each epic space dogfight or lightsaber duel, there are BILLIONS of Regular Things happening elsewhere in the Galaxy at the same time. :p

    Thanks again, Renata! And I'm glad to have you reading. :)


    Thanks! I always enjoy coming up with this sort of fanon while writing stories, to the point that I know I can get a bit carried away with it—so I'm glad that it was

    Hah! That's definitely quite an image. :p There are definitely lots of theories around, but they run a pretty big spectrum... but there will be a lot more of the Queen very soon, so you will be able to judge for yourself!

    To this I can only answer " [face_whistling]. "


    Thank you, and thanks so much for reading! :)

    Yay for that "yay"! So glad you're enjoying it. <3

    Thanks! I found him just by looking up "sentientologists" on the Wook, and he was one of the very few people listed (along with Mammon and a sort of Imperial hack named Obo Rin, whom I didn't want to use because I want these people to all be real scholars), so I figured, why the heck not? I love learning about all these obscure little side characters in the GFFA—so many are such fantastic "blank slates" for the fanfic writer. :D

    It will happen, I promise! At some point down the line. And all the festivals and customs, or at least all the ones I currently have, will be in there. I have been long overdue on a Mayno-Mayzee post for some time now, so I figure I might as well get in the whole sector.

    You're not being a pest at all! I was mainly just imagining that the second day would be mainly taken up with the various "games, performances, and other events," but of course there would certainly be a lot of wonderful food and some big banquets involved along the way, and I do like that suggestion of the route to the temple, so I'll keep it in mind for that future fanon post.

    Given the role Mastigophorous plays in your Letters Never Sent, or at least given that that's where I first learned about that name, the homage just seemed too priceless to resist. And Taide's certainly getting used to Mammon's quirks now that he's been around him in close quarters for a few days—that kind of thing doesn't take too long when you're with an old friend. Plus, it helped in this case that Mammon got his actual transformation process out of the way before actually coming up to Taide, rather than doing it in person right in front of him.

    Hah! Well, so many people here in Wisconsin have Germanic heritage of one sort or another... so who's to say the Humans of the Kanson-Wiss Sector might also have some heritage from Nydrnigia going way back? Also something to think about as I contemplate that fanon post. Though Raissa Baiard is right—the right shoes and underwear are too important. As a Midwesterner myself, I know that well (and I had to put that knowledge to work this very morning, as it's currently 7F).

    Hey, one has to try everything in the name of scholarly rigor! :p I figured you would see where things are going, and honestly, if others do too, it's totally fine, because it wasn't meant to be a huge secret—[hl=black]it's right there in the prompts, after all[/hl]. ;)

    Yes, most definitely, [face_whistling] . Soon and very soon!


    Oh, she'll accept any kind of fabulous title, dahlings, as long as you mean her! :D

    Thanks again, and as always, thanks so much for your invaluable help in betaing nad just generally getting things right. From time immemorial writers have been counseled to write about what they know... so, well, I did, on both those counts, and what fun it was! :D

    You know,I bet you ten to one that this has been done, somewhere on DeviantArt or one of those places. And I bet Gamiel would be the one who would know about it. :p

    They are definitely meant to be the quintessential Space!Midwesterners—and of course also they're a nod to a very different but also very salt-of-the-earth innkeeper in EP's stories, Laoda Caraway Kaeni. There are several Sweet Corn Festivals around here in Southern Wisconsin, and given that Mayno-Mayzee is essentially Space!Wisconsin, it just seemed to fit (and it also seemed to fit that they would give their peace festival that kind of down to earth, agricultural name). And yes, I'm afraid instead of just one wacky conspiracy theory, EP got several—but they are all meant to fit with both the "small-planet" setting and the secrecy surrounding the festival. I am guessing, though I don't know for sure, that people have said similar things about the Veiled Prophet festivities through the years.

    At this period, one does indeed have to watch out! But he also knows that it's likely that a lot of people out there are probably skeptical about all of that, too, especially serious scholarly types who go solely by What's Empirical. But [hl=black]he'll get the chance to prove his point[/hl]—you'll soon see.

    [face_thinking], indeed, and of course [face_whistling]! All shall be revealed in the fullness of time.

    Why, you're so kind, dahling! And feel free to file that, too, under "just couldn't help myself." :p


    Thank you! Should be soon, if all goes well. And thanks again for all you've done to help. :)
     
  19. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Although if Day 1 ends with a huge banquet, I would think Day 2 would be everyone sleeping it off with their belts undone...



    You know,I bet you ten to one that this has been done, somewhere on DeviantArt or one of those places. And I bet Gamiel would be the one who would know about it. :p[/quote]

    You two had me googling this, and yes, SW as done by Norman Rockwell does exist. Mind. Blown. Crazy creative people around. What hath George wrought?

    We'll try to be patient, Findswoman, but I hope you write fast
     
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  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Sure, but that may also be part of the point of the games and activities and such—to burn off the calories. :p

    What, indeed! I figured it was out there somewhere. Rule #1138: if it exists, then there's zany Star Wars crossover art of it somewhere out there! :p

    Well... as many folks here can unfortunately attest, my record for writing fast is not the best, because I constantly find myself being bested by RL. [face_blush] But in this case, it turns out, you don't have to wait too long—chapter three (out of four, it turns out) is in readiness and will be coming your way shortly. Watch this space...!
     
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  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Three

    Next evening

    It was approaching 1900 hours when Taide Lambrin and Mammon Hoole, wearing long underwear and sensible footwear per the advice of the guest house owners, approached the grand front archway of the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina—an imposing structure of smooth black stone whose spires pierced the orange-gold twilight like spears. A security droid scanned their admission tickets, their retinas, and their pockets. Once that was done, the two heavy, rune-inscribed metal doors swung open. The two travelers walked for a few moments through a broad, dimly lit hall. At its end another pair of metal doors opened—and they beheld before them the vast, domed, amphitheater-like main area of the temple, where various beings in evening dress were milling about sipping cocktails. At the front of the room, steps ascended to a broad, altar-like platform, upon which stood a large cube of black stone topped with a velvoid cushion. A raised alcove off to one side of the room held a small orchestra, which played softly on both bowed and plucked string instruments.

    As Taide and Mammon entered, another droid—a protocol droid of Cybot Galactica’s popular and fashionable 3PO type—announced their names and titles to those present.

    “Dr. Mammon Hoole, senior anthropologist, Galactic Research Academy, Koaan”—upon which Mammon strutted in with his head held high, looking quite dignified in his hooded purple-gray robes. “Dr. Taide Lambrin, director of the Archaeological Museum of Anaslinea-Hoc, Vagran”—and Taide padded into the room, blushing profusely and doing his best to keep from smirking like an embarrassed youngling. The other guests paused for a few decorous moments to acknowledge the newcomers, then resumed their milling.

    “Same old bashful Taide as ever, I see,” remarked Mammon after the two of them claimed one of the cocktail tables that had been set up throughout the room.

    “Afraid so.” Taide blushed and smirked again.

    “So, you are now in the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina.”

    “So I am.”

    “Any first impressions?”

    “Well . . .” Taide thought for a moment. “It’s definitely a representative specimen of the architecture of the First Rakatan Empire.”

    “Yes, that it is.”

    “It’s certainly in excellent condition for a structure of that era.”

    “I have heard it said,” mused Mammon, “that buildings, more than any other artifacts of sentient life, improve with time—if they’re allowed to. But what about your . . . mystical energy fields and all that? That’s what I’m really curious about.”

    “Well, I don’t know yet. We’ve only been here five minutes.” Taide glanced at his chrono. “All right, seven and a half minutes. But it’s a possibility. The phenomenon has been documented frequently in structures dating from the First Rakatan period. Marmavere Worris-Hairwick has an entire article about it in the Coronet University Journal of Xenoarchaeology.

    Mammon nodded and chuckled. “If you say so. I’ll look forward to a full account of your findings. Say, would you like anything to drink? I was thinking of fetching myself something.”

    “No, thank you. Maybe later.”

    Mammon strode off to the makeshift cash bar that stood at the back of the room, next to the door. Taide, meanwhile, took the opportunity to look around. He took in the ancient stones, the looming arches, the gold-glowing chandeliers; he gazed up past the milling guests, past the door-droid announcing the newcomers, past the sconces, past the small, dim, blue-tinted clerestory windows—far upward into the vaulted darkness of the domed ceiling, which seemed somehow less like a ceiling than like a dark, starless, infinite night lurking overhead. What secrets did that darkness hold? For with each moment of gazing and wondering Taide became more and more sure that it did hold secrets of some kind of other.

    You can tease all you want, Mammon, he thought as he eyed his friend across the room—the Shi’ido sentientologist had fallen into conversation with a group of scholarly-looking humanoids who were probably his IGSSA colleagues. There really is something about this place. Something strange about this place. I’m not sure what it is, but it is something that could certainly make things like ultima pearls and solari crystals start going haywire. And I should know, because I, unlike you, have previously been in other ancient structures where things like ultima pearls and solari crystals started going haywire. So put that in your effete little cocktail glass and sip it, you tiresome old—

    “Her Majesty Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan, and His Royal Highness Prince Consort Bail Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman of Alderaan.”

    A hush of awe fell over the room as the grand doors opened to admit the two most regal-looking Humans Taide had ever seen. Queen Breha wore a deep blue gown embroidered with silver and gold thread in intricate floral patterns, and her dark hair was interwoven with gold and silver ribbons in an elegant ceremonial coiffure. Her husband wore high-collared military dress uniform of an ancient style, with a long dark blue cape draped over one shoulder. Behind them walked an adolescent girl of striking beauty wearing a hooded gown of silver-embroidered ice-blue velvoid, followed by a variety of handmaidens, aides, and officers followed. The culture minister, her hair spikier than ever and her lipstick pinker than ever, came forward and greeted the newcomers warmly, and led them to an elevated side alcove opposite the one where the orchestra sat.

    As they passed, several of the guests—including Mammon and the other sentientologists—bowed or made other gestures of obeisance. Taide, however, merely goggled. These were those Coreworld royals who were all over the HoloNet news—and for some inexplicable reason they had come all the way out to this backrocket Outer Rim outpost for an obscure local festival. And they even brought their war-orphan adoptive daughter along, Taide observed. How sweet! Talk about universal sentient love.

    Soon after the Alderaanians had taken their places, the culture minister approached the front of the room. The guests ceased their conversations and the orchestra paused as she 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, with open heart and arms”—at this point she did indeed hold out her arms in an embracing gesture—“in the name of the universal love that unites all sentient beings . . . to the concluding ceremonies of the 5197th Days of Love and Light!

    Decorous applause erupted, then died down as the minister continued.

    “And now, we ask for your silence, deference, and attentiveness as the Veiled Queen of Love and Light enters with her retinue to begin the solemn coronation rites. Please do not to forget to silence your personal communications devices, and please note that no recording devices are permitted for the duration of the ceremony.”

    Aw, rats, thought Taide to himself. Well, there’s always the trusty old flimsi notebook. He drew it and its stylus from one of his blazer pockets, opened it to a blank page, and quickly began penning the date, the location, and a few miscellaneous details about the setting.

    “Thank you all for your cooperation,” concluded the minister, “and may the love that binds the stars be with you all.”

    She stepped down. The light of the wall sconces and chandeliers dimmed, and the orchestra began playing what sounded like an unusually mellow and plaintive march. The heavy metal doors swung slowly open, and the court dancers trooped in, solemn but graceful in their long sea-green and pink gowns, the ultima pearls shimmering on their breastplates. And how they shimmered! Much more than is typical for nacreous materials in low-light conditions, that’s for sure . . .

    Taide shuddered with anticipation as he began scribbling notes. This was it—the moment he had been waiting for, the whole reason he had agreed to come to this place to begin with. And so far everything was proceeding according to his hypothesis . . .

    “The close formation in the procession symbolizes the strength of love, like the latticed structure of a crystal that gives it its structural integrity.”

    Taide jumped as he heard Mammon’s voice behind him. “What in the—!” he hissed. “How’d you get over here so fast?!”

    “Oh, I had the help of Nr’gash.”

    “Nr’gash?”

    “My Defel.”

    “Oh.”

    “They can bend light around them and move like shadows, you know.”

    “Ah.” Taide returned quickly to his scribbling. He was little interested in his colleague’s sentientological tidbits, for now the dancers were at the front of the temple, spread out in a semicircular formation and swaying like arboray trees in a spring breeze. The ultima pearls sparkled white-pink with their every movement.

    At last, the music swelled as the Veiled Queen, once again in pure white, was borne in on a litter carried by four richly dressed attendants. Two more attendants, carrying large, colorful feathered fans, walked behind the litter. The dancers bowed low in deference as the group passed by. Once they reached the front of the room, they ascended the steps and stopped before the black block of stone. Two of the dancers—whose costumes, Taide now saw, had embroidered designs that those of the other dancers lacked—came up beside the Queen, helped her up from the litter, and led her to the stone block, where she seated herself. They then rejoined the other dancers, and the next dance began—a brisk, exuberant one, involving much jumping, leaping, twirling, and throwing fellow dancers into the air.

    “Representing the unbridled joy that only universal love can give.”

    “Mm-hmm.” Taide’s stylus continued to scrabble busily over the flimsi. The ultima pearls now looked like shooting stars or comets ricocheting around the dark room. Yes, thought Taide to himself, there’s only one thing that could cause an autoluminescent reaction of that magnitude in light this low . . . For a fleeting moment he wondered if that would explain the strange tingling feeling that was beginning to creep along his spine, though he dismissed the thought and kept on writing observations about the jewels.

    Next came a slower dance in a circular formation, which according to Mammon represented the perfect peace experienced only by beings dwelling together in mutual love. Though the pearls no longer flashed so wildly around the room, they were now glowing with a steady glow. As he scrawled his notes, Taide noticed that a few of the guests were shielding their eyes or putting on glareshades, despite the darkness of the room. Again he became aware of the tingling feeling, which was a little stronger now . . . He reached behind his head and scratched the back of his neck.

    “You all right there, Taide, old thing?” inquired Mammon in a whisper.

    “Yes, yes, yes, fine. Say, Mammon . . .”

    “M’yes?”

    “When do they bring out the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina?”

    “Patience, patience, my young apprentice! All in good time. There are still three more dances to go.”

    Taide sighed. Three more dances? What, he wondered, was the use of holding ceremonies in ancient, Force-suffused temples, with ancient, Force-suffused gemstones, if all people were going to do was just prance around in pretty patterns? This whole affair was turning out to be somewhat of a disappointment. But he sat through the proceedings all the same, taking a few desultory notes and trying to ignore the ever-increasing tingle in his spine.

    At last, after the third dance, all the instruments of the orchestra went quiet except for a single Rindao contra viol, which sustained a single low drone note. The dancers stood stock-still at attention as the metal doors opened. A Human boy, about seven Standard years old and clad all in white, entered pushing a wheeled cart. On the cart sat a heavy-looking metal box flanked by two potted ornamental trees—both of which gave the disconcerting impression that some kind of living creatures were slithering about on them.

    The boy and his cart stopped just before the steps up to the Veiled Queen’s seat, made an elaborate bow, and stood at attention. Then the Queen rose, and the two dancers with the embroidered gowns each took one of her hands and led her slowly down the steps. The drone note of the contra viol continued, and the voice of the culture minister—Taide wasn’t sure where she was, but it was definitely her voice—echoed over the sound system.

    “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!”

    Taide’s heart raced, and he scribbled more frantically than ever. The moment had come at last—the rare and ancient Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina was about to be revealed! That had to be it in the box. And those slithery things in the plants were definitely ysalamiri, which just confirmed that his hypothesis about the place was right—this building, like the gem itself, was rich in the Force, and thus it was naturally necessary to shield the gem from exposure to the mystical energy before the proper time—it all made sense—oh, this’ll be the crowning glory of my book! (no pun intended of course)—

    “You. Come forward,” boomed the amplified voice of the culture minister, followed by a more familiar whispered voice: “Pssst, Taide. It’s you. Go on up.”

    “Wh-wh-wha . . . ?” Taide looked up to see the Veiled Queen and her attendants turned directly toward him. The Queen was a holding up a long, ornate, stylus-like device that Taide recognized as one of those light-pointer devices he had used during his teaching days—and its bright green point of light was fixed directly, unwaveringly, upon the buttonhole of his suit coat.

    To be continued . . .



    “And now the Veiled Queen of Love and Light descends from her lofty throne”: Rhetoric like this is ubiquitous in the ceremonial of the RL Veiled Propet Ball—just google “lofty throne” and “Veiled Prophet” together and you’ll see what I mean.

    “buildings, more than any other artifacts of sentient life, improve with time—if they’re allowed to”: Shamelessly cribbed from a quote from Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn: What Happens after They’re Built (Penguin, 1995) that’s become semi-famous among architects and similar: “More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with time—if they’re allowed to.”

    Marmavere Worris-Hairwick: Fanon, and purely ad hoc—just a wacky name I came up with on the fly, since recently at work I had to send an email to someone with a superficially similar name.

    Rindao contra viol: based on the double viol played by Tionne. I imagine that these instruments must come in various sizes and pitch levels just as RL viols do; hence my use of “contra,” as in “contrabass,” for the lowest member of the family.

    “two potted ornamental trees—both of which gave the disconcerting impression that some kind of living creatures were slithering about on them”: These, of course, are the Force-blocking ysalamiri and the olbio trees they favor for shelter and food.

    Wookieepedia links:
    arboray tree: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Arboray_tree
    Defel (Wraith): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Defel/Legends
    Galactic Research Academy, Koaan: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Galactic_Research_Academy
    glareshades: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Glareshades (hat tip to EP for reminding me about these)

     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  22. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Oh, dear. I'm a little afraid of what will happen next... if I were there I'd suddenly have a desperate need to get to a ladies' room a few towns away. Mammon is that irritating friend who is explaining in your ear stuff you already know.

    Love the descriptions of the ceremonials and of House Organa. And everything else. Seriously, you have a gift for description. @};-
     
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  23. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    :eek: OK - OK. We have :leia:, of all sentients, in an ancient Rakatan temple, with Force-sensitive jewels ...

    And now Taide's getting called up? [face_worried]

    Findswoman, you have a gift for creating both an incredibly immersive tale and building suspense. Bravo. =D=
     
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  24. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Ch 1

    First of all, I really like your choice of characters for this. :D Taide was such an intriguingly odd bird in Letters and it's fun to see how he views things. As for Mammon, I've had a soft spot for his character ever since reading the Galaxy of Fear series and I think you nailed it here.


    [face_laugh] Really liked this section, especially how it progresses from Taide trying to ignore the scowling elderly Twi'lek and her awful-looking drink. Shapeshift your way around the Galaxy long enough and it would tend to make you a bit of a prankster, I suspect. More seriously, it's nice to know that Taide's... Taide-ness hasn't prevented him from having some old friends in the academic world where he spends so much of his time.

    The background details sprinkled throughout this make the world that Taide and Mammon inhabit feel very realistic, and I think it makes Taide's one-track obsession more understandable. It's not just him, there's a whole little slice of the GFFA for whom this kind of scholarly investigation of gems that go blink in the night is Serious Business. (Well, maybe not quite as serious as it is for Taide, but almost. :p)

    It's also interesting to see that he remembers [hl=black]Doria's parents[/hl]; that's a nice tie-in to the rest of the universe. Too bad for them that like most of their acquaintances he doesn't seem to have thought much of their relationship -- I suppose like with many things, others see what the people most involved cannot. Neat to see references to Anaslinea-Hoc and Iasonné too. :) This is all so rich in detail and I'm pretty sure I'll see more things every time I read.

    :D This is just so much fun! I love how Taide is suddenly very interested if there might be a blush-green solari crystal. I mean, who could pass up the chance to see such a thing? :p Forget that sun festival whatever thingy. And the way that so much Legends lore is woven together with your own inventions here is amazing. (Kanson-Wiss Sector! The Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina! [face_rofl] )

    There is a bit of a shadow of the Empire here, of course, in Taide's thoughts on the use of Force crystals in "post-Jedi times", and how in later chapters he later has to talk around what exactly it is that activates these gems.
     
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  25. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Once again, I hate it when I have to run an errand and I leave a half-done reply for later. Just for the record: the idea that Onderon1 had, I had it immediately and I formulated it like this: [hl=black]a Force-sensitive activates the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina[/hl] and the reason Taide is there because - eeek - it could be a trap. Or a prank? This story is starting to mess with my mind, bigtime. :p

    What's funny is how everybody bosses somebody around here - Mammon is getting annoying at this point, with his patronising towards Taide, yet both of them were so...obedient in terms of that long underwear and sensible shoes, just because somebody they had never seen before told them so. :D

    And it's funny how the "uh-huh" kinda convo from the previous installment repeats itself here, yet this time BOTH characters get annoyed by each other.

    Or maybe, Mammon is just repeating Taide's speech pattern as a natural tendency of his species to - well - pretend? [face_thinking]

    Totally getting that "who laughs last" vibe from Taide here. At the same time, wondering what precisely makes him so confident. Another off the wall theory is that it's the [hl='black']universal love[/hl], but that would kind of [hl='black']be the same thing you already used in a story for me back in March[/hl]. Hmmm...hmmm...

    And when the Organas enter, well...let's say that I didn't expect them at all. I didn't expect any of Big Three or anything even remotely close to that.

    Ummm...she was trying to be classy around royals, r-right? Sounds like somebody who did their 1980s hair metal 'do and make-up in the dark. :D

    Now when I read this again, I wonder if Bail and Breha [hl=black]came to Khorrasan on purpose, BECAUSE they had the same information as Taide did, somehow...[/hl].

    Nice wordplay. Binding the stars vs. charting the stars while blind...if that was your intention, that is. :)

    Now, what is interesting is how there appears to be blinding light (and Taide can...write in the dark!) and some effect on everybody.

    [hl=black]This part gets me slightly worried...hope that Mammon is not trolling Taide![/hl]

    And the very ending...OMG, the minister of culture invited Taide over. Cliffie, cliffie, cliffie! Can't wait to see how this ends!
     
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