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Saga - OT The Other Moon (Ewoks | 3.5 ABY | Occupied Endor)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ewok Poet, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Title: The Other Moon
    Author: Ewok Poet
    Characters: Kneesaa, Latara, Paploo, Teebo, OCs, others (some surprises)
    Timeframe: Prologue is set in 1 BBY, the story in 3.5 to 4 ABY, right after Shadows of Endor
    Rating: PG-13 (Violence, disturbing concepts, teenage sexuality)
    Genre: Action/Adventure, Horror, Supernatural, Friendship, Romance
    Length: ?
    Summary: After the events of Shadows of Endor, the Ewoks of Bright Tree Village are aware of their new enemies; but at the same time, they don't want any other Endorian sentients to be attacked like the Duloks of Gorneesh's tribe were. Chief Chirpa sends an expedition of four adolescent Ewoks, notably missing their token leader of the pack, to warn everybody from a list he and Logray compiled. The trip will expose them to various dangers and they will see the true colours of the yet-unnamed Galactic Empire, as well as get to know other Ewok tribes, who may not be like their own...

    Author notes: This is a sequel to Snowed In and prequel to another story. The below, more complex author note, DOES NOT feature the characters from the prologue, because until they appear, everything about them is a mystery. K?

    [​IMG]
    (Detail of Shadows of Endor cover, by Zack Gialongo | Wicket's presence is reduced to flashbacks, narrative, beginning and the end, but still...)

    A/N: How the protagonists feel at the time the story starts

    The "token leader of the pack" will take a backseat in this story. Writing Wicket was, for some reason, always harder than writing Kneesaa, Teebo, Latara and even Paploo, so writing a story where he's present only at the beginning and the end and undergoes some personal transformation offscreen will be an interesting experiment. I promise he will be present in all subsequent stories, but in this one, not really. He's off meeting Cindel Towani and once he's back in the next story, I promise he will be...really interesting.


    Princess Kneesaa has shown she can be more than a diplomat, that she's a badass fighter when necessary. In this story, she will be acting on behalf of her father, with no Council of Elders around to make her life harder. She has a lot on her plate this time - she will be separated from her unrequited love for so long, she won't be able to get any advice from her father and her sister, there won't be Logray's magic to save the day. Instead of it, she will have to remain in control over her manchild cousin and a couple whose parents cannot monitor what they're doing on the trip. Does she have what it takes, or will she too lose it at some point?


    Teebo is implied to be on a hiatus from his former apprenticeship and, in Shadows of Endor, he acted more heroic than ever before, which was a surprise after his major failure and near-death experience in Snowed In. Becoming a warrior and receiving the Sacred Horn of the Soul Trees, after all these years of being mocked as a not-really-warrior-material and a cloudcuckoolander, he is feeling more pressure than ever. Latara's constant groping, winking et cetera is not making it any better, neither does his unexpected rivalry with Paploo, which resurfaced for completely different reasons than before. How can he manage to please everybody, both literally and figuratively?

    Latara has quickly recovered from her injury in the Skirmish at the Endor Shield Bunker and has found the right self-confidence, as opposed to her earlier self-obsession and prejudice. She is more talented for technology than anybody else in the gang and she still has the blaster she seized from a "Skull One". For the first time, she is accompanying her best friend on a mission as something more than the team primadonna, a hanger-on or just a mere hoodmaker apprentice who can help with tents, ropes and similar things. Can she be badass for one more time and is she going to crack any new weapon? At the same time, her rite-of-passage obsession from Snowed In has turned into genuine desire. So, will they, or won't they?

    After a period of relative stability, Paploo is back to his old ways - rash, flamboyant and not pleased with himself deep inside. Away from his dominant mother, he will be forced to deal with pent-up rage against many people, including his travel mates. His long-forgotten rivalry with Teebo, dating back to the days when the latter was much smaller in stature and more awkward, will surface and Paploo will see everything as challenge and competition. Something has to happen to complete the process of his transition to the selfless kamikaze from Return of the Jedi, and the one who defends the Heroes of Yavin when they're captured. But what is it?


    This story was inspired by Watership Down, World War II, a comic I made when I was 10, Virtual Villagers games, Ingmar Bergman's earlier films and a lot more. And yeah, Chekhov messed with my head again, most likely. Some of those influences will be easy to spot, some won't.

    If you decide that a story sucks just because it's happening on Endor and the protagonists are Ewoks, maybe this is the time you'll be willing to be proven otherwise. That said, if you're new to my work...I don't get super-descriptive for no reason, I am not a native speaker, I do not utilise the typical fanfic clichés in terms of words, sentence structure etc.

    If you liked About a Boy, this one will be seemingly grim throughout. I expect to post the first chapter in about three weeks' time.

    If you disliked Snowed In, this one won't be as straightforward and won't feature as many characters. It's more mature, dealing with more serious topics.

    If you never noticed The Black Star, I'd suggest you to give it a look. Why? Well, you'll see.

    Credits

    Kahara for having read the first, incredibly rough draft of this and liking the idea.

    Findswoman for being the best beta-reader one could ever wish for. Thanks to you, I am learning to write in English the way I would write in my native language.

    glitteryboots for being the kind of a co-passenger a writer like me appreciates to have in every single adventure among 'em words.

    Iron_lord for having discussed some details with me in another thread, which led me to very, very important plot points. You're a living encyclopedia, thank you!

    Chyntuck (because Balkans), AzureAngel2, leiamoody - for writing gorgeous pieces themselves and for being faithful reviewers, whether it's on Snowed In, The Black Star or one of my shorts.

    TrakNar - for...you will see why later on.

    Last but not the least, everybody who inspires me to write through what they write. At this point, Pandora in particular, for her work encouraged me to be more grim and I feel like I needed to say that out loud.




    Disclaimer

    Not mine.

    Joe Johnston created Ewoks for George Lucas' first draft of Return of the Jedi. He then also wrote a cool little book, recommended below.

    Nelvana made the cartoon. Paul Dini and Bob Carrau invented most of the cool stuff.

    Dave Manak wrote the old & weird Ewoks comics. I am not sure if I would recommend them, as there are a couple of impossible things happening in them; but issue 7 is what made me a writer, so...

    Zach Gialongo revived it all with Shadows of Endor.

    Now it all belongs to TEH MOUSE, though I am obviously suffering from a delusion that it all belongs to me, mwahahaha! [face_clown][face_skull]




    Recommended Reads and Watches

    [Young Reader Book]
    The Adventures of Teebo (the oldest thing in Ewoks chronology) - for the grim tone and the true savageness of the Forest moon of Endor, just so you see I am not brutal for the heck of it.

    [Graphic Novel]
    Shadows of Endor - for the said grim tone in PG-13. This is the only bit that's "required", but seriously, the Wook summary - as written by yours truly - is more than enough.

    [Animated Series]
    Star Wars: Ewoks - if you want to see the characters in their earlier adolescence, before the Skull Ones came to Endor

    Feel free to ask me to hook you up with any of the above.




    Need a synopsis of Snowed In?

    *Familiarity with the leads is expected, as well as knowing their basic personality traits and appearance in the first season of the Ewoks cartoon series.*

    Animals have mysteriously disappeared from the forests surrounding the Bright Tree Village at the set of an unusually cold winter. A group of Ewok hunters comes back home empty-handed. Chief Chirpa and Logray are away on a diplomatic mission, so Head Elder Kazak criticises the hunters and orders a new expedition, required to involve younger Ewoks as well.

    Meanwhile, Wicket Wystri Warrick celebrates his 14th birthday. Everything goes wrong. He gets strange, almost bizarre gifts. Teebo, his best friend has to head out early, with a task common for the shaman's apprentice. The alcoholic drink Wicket's brothers intended to prank the birthday boy with ends in Latara's hands. Little Malani, Teebo's sister, attempts to flirt with Wicket as usual and eventually vomits from too much food. Everybody leaves early due to superstitions related to the wind and spirits. Deej, Wicket's father and Shodu, his mother, comfort their son and are angry with their two older sons; but apparently not planning to report them to the Council of Elders.

    A tipsy Latara tries to seduce Teebo – with whom she has a history of flirting and a single "proper" kiss with - at the observatory where he was watching the stars. He gets the courage to kiss her, but ultimately rejects her when she requests what is implied to be having sex. In the morning, she complains to princess Kneesaa about what happened and Kneesaa, willing to get the two together, encourages Latara to apply for the second, desperate hunt, in order to spend some time away from her crush. She understands only one reason for his rejection – awkwardness – but fails to understand that her drunkenness and something else bothering him played a bigger role. Warok, Teebo's father criticizes his son's reluctance. Once ready for sleep, Teebo eventually breaks his hammock. It's implied that his awkward growth sprout caused it.

    Wicket, his two brothers and Paploo apply to take a part in the hunt. At the meeting of the Council of Elders, Latara – the only female among the hopefuls - is mocked on the ground of gender and her reputation as a coquette. She is ultimately accepted for the hunt at Kneesaa and Teebo's intervention - the two of them standing in for Chirpa and Logray. Kazak vows to make the stand-ins' lives harder and their first task is minding the woklings, Ewok children.

    The hunting party leaves in the morning. Teebo tries to throw a piece of parchment to Latara, but fails. At the first stop the hunters make, Wicket and Latara end up fighting. Paploo acts as the peacemaker and warns Wicket's older brothers not to haze Wicket, because he would then tell the Council of Elders about the alcoholic drink prank at the birthday party.

    Near a remote outpost, Asha and Chukha-Trok, off checking if Duloks were hunting again, notice a single dead animal and Chukha-Trok heads to the village. He finds Kneesaa and Teebo taking care of disobedient woklings. In the mess that ensues, Malani acquires the love poem Teebo failed to give to Latara, reads it and ends up hiding it underneath her hood. At the same time, at Logray's hut, Teebo fails to contact Logray using the Crystal image spinner and tell him Chukha-Trok's news.

    The hunting party members decide to sleep in a cave, where Wicket discovers a dead korrina cub. Wunka, the leader of the expedition, refuses to take that as a warning, comes up with nonsensical explanation and fails to listen to another hunter, who mentions an Ewok shaman who once killed nearly everybody in her distant village, and went on a rampage that ended with Logray stopping her. That evening, Latara reflects on everything and makes friends with Widdle, the middle Warrick, who is the first hunter other than Wicket and Paploo to accept her presence on the mission.

    Asha patrols the forest when a blizzard catches her unprepared. She hides in a cave where she spots Dulok King Gorneesh and "shaman" Umwak talking to some others and a mysterious being who, along with their [singular they used here] Master, wants a bloody revenge on Ewoks and the Sunstar Shadowstone gem. A Dulok from another faction speaks up and Asha determines him to be more violent than those she is used to. She decides to run home and warn everybody, despite the blizzard. On her way, she is almost killed by a rabid, out of control gurreck, but manages to escape.

    After a hard day, Kneesaa and Teebo share a dessert and he reveals to her that he had some troubling visions of his own death. He is convinced that he will turn to Night Spirit and pay with his life for that. The dominant among his visions ends with Latara happy with a rougher-looking black and grey striped Ewok. Upon being inquired about it, Kneesaa confesses her love for Wicket and Teebo accepts that she does not want it revealed until she considers Wicket to be mature enough to understand it. The two friends share a quiet moment together before going to sleep with the woklings. Elsewhere in the village, Lumat discovers that Latara, his daughter, had stolen his knife and vents his anger on his wife, Zephee.

    The next morning, a frail old female Ewok named Gunlaag arrives to the village, claiming that she is injured and that Duloks have assaulted her, giving strange clues about the missing animals' whereabouts. Everybody tends to Gunlaag, who refuses to be treated by Teebo, but asks him and his family a lot of personal questions. She appears to like Bozzie – Chirpa's sister and Paploo's mother – a lot. Batcheela, Warok's wife, finds this suspicious and prompts her son to try and figure out what's going on. Asha arrives to the village later that day, barely whispers something about danger and passes out.

    Wicket is expelled from the hunt after an argument starts when the older hunters discover one of the bizarre gifts he got for his birthday in his backpack. Latara knocks a male Ewok unconscious after being called a tart. Soon, she and Paploo leave the hunt and catch up with Wicket. While dissatisfied, Wicket's older brothers don't react, likely due to the blackmail from earlier.

    Away from the snow, at the beach near Endor's equator, Logray has a vision that - known to us - includes what is implied to be upcoming events on Hoth, Bepspin and Tatooine. He determines Endor will be in great danger very soon, but he also recognizes imminent danger to his own tribe. At the same time at the village observatory, Teebo hears Logray talking to him, inside his head and encourages him to take action. He then spots a strange, rainbow-coloured fire far away and identifies it as Fire of the Eternal. He grabs the Sunstar gem, mounts a bordok, gets an axe from Chukha-Trok and leaves.

    Gunlaag sneaks into Logray's hut, steals the Sunstar and contact her master, a hooded creature with a red, flashing eye. She reveals that she spoke to the Duloks, replaced Sunstar with a painted stone and found out that Logray, whom they both want to kill, has an apprentice. It is revealed that Kaalwar and Patrash, leaders of a more aggressive Dulok faction, plan a very bloody revenge against the Ewoks who once killed their fathers, involving killings, using bones and fur as trophies and jewelry, and feasting on woklings. The hooded creature tells Gunlaag that he wants to train Teebo as his personal assassin, implying that he would betray her. Gunlaag realises that her Master will eventually have her killed, too and decides to keep the Sunstar.

    Latara, Wicket and Paploo cannot find their way home and end up right in front of Fire of the Eternal. Paploo seems to be influenced by it, Wicket wants a shiny pebble for his Belt of Honour and both disappear underground. Latara grabs a branch and manages to save herself, but is soon attacked by the same gurreck that had attacked Asha earlier. An axe flies through the air, kills killing/and kills the possessed animal. It's Teebo. The two have another romantic moment, followed by telling each other what happened and eventually decide to take on whoever is Gunlaag's Master on their own. Teebo admits to Latara that he is to sacrifice himself.

    Asha comes round after a warm bath and reveals Gunlaag as a threat. With Kneesaa, she finds the witch at Bozzie's home, playing a sadistic take on hide-and-seek with their aunt. In the ensuing fight, while Asha appear dead, Kneesaa manages to bring down the roof construction using the gem on her hood and, after near-dead Gunlaag makes one last attempt on her life, Asha stops playing dead and gives the witch one final, deadly hit. As the remaining village men come to help, Kneesaa realises that they could use Gunlaag's Force-sensitivity to contact Logray, before she dies. Once this happens, Chukha-Trok admits to having encouraged Teebo to deal with...whatever.

    Wicket and a disoriented Paploo end up in a strange chamber with walls full of beings turned into wooden sculptures, where they meet the hooded creature, who calls himself the Wanderer. The Wanderer is relying on an astronomical abnormality which created the Fire of the Eternal and a moment when Gorax King's Heart [the Din pulsar] will be as bright as possible from Endor; all of which make him practically invincible. The light from the star throws a ray of light at the black circle in the middle of the lair.

    At the Dulok camp, Gorneesh is feeling threatened by his blood-thirsty allies, unaware that they plan to kill him as well, while getting rid of his tribe's men, who had been sent to attack Ewok hunters in the cave. Kaalwar and Patrash head out and use an artefact to converse with the Wanderer. Upon this, Kaalwar realises that Patrash is more revengeful than him and that the Wanderer does not respect him enough. He has second thoughts, but does not reveal them. After this conversation, the Wanderer starts doubting all of his allies and then feels a presence of mostly Light Spirit [light side of the Force].

    Galak, Umwak's nephew, who saw the Wanderer converse with Kaalwar and Patrash, warns Umwak and Gorneesh of what is to happen to them and how both their tribe's warriors and the Ewok hunters will be stomped to death by the stampedo released once some star is at its brightest. Umwak eventually believes him. He runs off, determined to get to the Ewok village and offer a hand of peace in order to save his own tribe from a massacre. At some point, the dry severed hand he wears around his neck comes alive and nearly kills him; before Logray intervenes and traps the hand using magic. A bordok under the influence of a mind trick appears, with a message from Teebo in a satchel. As Umwak comes around and Logray and Chirpa travel back home, they are putting the puzzle pieces together.

    Teebo and Latara split in the corridors reading to the cave and he runs into the Wanderer when he tries to set Wicket and Paploo free. The villain reveals to him that he, not Logray, was the voice in his head. Teebo then discovers that he has a copy of the Sunstar only. The Wanderer is trying to convert him to the Night Spirit [dark side of the Force] by manipulating his axe with his powers. At the village, Logray has Chukha-Trok wrestle the possessed hand, but it only drops dead once Teebo, realising that the Wanderer will kill Paploo, manages to direct the axe at his hand-less arm and sever it. Logray realises that Teebo may end up dead or badly hurt.

    The Wanderer is trying to convert Teebo by telling him of the [supposed] dark side elements in his past encounters with other wizards of the Night Spirit, with no success. However, when Teebo is about to give him one final hit, with the axe he can now fully control by telekinesis, Latara appears with a knife in her mouth and distracts both. The Wanderer quickly realises that she is Teebo's only major weakness and threatens to kill her. Teebo takes the lightning-like energy stream from the villain's eye and, to everybody's surprise, survives with his teeth slightly larger and his ears slightly different than before.

    The Wanderer decides to kill Teebo with more energy than he could handle and does not see that Wicket and Paploo managed to get themselves free, using the axe his victim dropped. Wicket then uses one of his bizarre birthday gifts, hidden in - well - the other bizarre gift, to trip the Wanderer, cutting the energy stream to now almost-dead Teebo. The diminutive Ewok wrestles the Wanderer and gives him a single stab, solely to realise there is no blood. Paploo figures out that the Wanderer relies on his only hand to feed on the powers from the bright star and urges Wicket to keep the hand away from the light.

    Teebo comes round for a couple of seconds, solely to tell Latara that the red gem-eye is where the Wanderer's power is concentrated and that it can be broken with her knife. She manages to give the knife to Wicket, who destroys the gem, killing the villain. The whole lair begins to crumble down and the group is saved when Latara realises that they can only be safe on the black circle.

    Fast forward to the village a bit later. Fearing that Patrash and Kaalwar's Duloks will attack either way, Chirpa had evacuated women, children and the elderly. The others are heading to meet the enemies halfway and try to defeat them. Batcheela and Warok are waiting with Wicket, Kneesaa and Latara, the latter receiving the poem Malani had kept all along and realising Teebo valued the romantic moment in the observatory as much as she did. She is then forced to hide, as her father finds out about her love. Wicket helps her hide.

    Logray invites Batcheela and Warok inside and uses the Shadowstone, the dark side of the Sunstar, to bring Teebo back to life. Teebo experiences as strange set of visions, some of them apparently involving future and everything involves Morag, the Tulgah witch. It is unclear if some of her life energy, otherwise transferred to a tree upon her death, was trapped in the gem, or if these were Teebo's hallucinations. Once Teebo regains consciousness, he is weak, blind and his fur is rapidly falling off.

    One group of Ewoks, lead by Asha who summons the animals she used to protect during the years of being lost in the woods, without the use of any "nature powers"; thus freeing the Ewok hunters already captured by Gorneesh's Duloks, who then realise they were tricked and decide to fight Patrash's faction. Elsewhere, Patrash realises Galak had seen it all and practically sentences him to death by wrestling a gigantic warrior named Kalgoto. On Paploo's sign, Ewok warriors accompanied by hunters and Gorneesh's tribesmen attack. Patrash finds Umwak and tries to revenge him by having him use his headdress, once having spotted Warok on a glider, but young Galak emerges and kills Patrash, saving his uncle, before Warok even does anything.

    Kaalwar surrenders to Warok and expects to be killed. Warok reveals to him that he never killed Ulgo, his father, and that it was an accident. Most Ewoks seem surprised by the sight of an honorable Dulok warrior. Kaalwar is spared and set free.

    At the following ceremony, Wicket is finally bestowed upon status of a warrior. Latara is given a knife and Teebo's dad accepts an axe for his son. Wicket, Kneesaa and Logray give long speeches. After this, Lumat apologises to Latara and she forgives him, but she rushes to see Teebo immediately. He is alive, barely sporting any fur, and in a bad state, but he recognises her by smell.

    During his recovery, Teebo discovers his Force sight and practices with Malani. Spring comes and one morning he recovers regular sight. However, he is so scared of his new, darker fur that he refuses to look at his own reflection. He rejects Latara, she leaves him a gurreck headdress. His poem is hidden inside, letting him know that she had read it. After this, Wicket updates him on all that happened at the celebration.

    Wicket makes peace with his own past arrogance and reflects on the past with Paploo and Kneesaa. Teebo sees his reflections in the barrel and realises the Ewok next to Latara in his vision was him, all along. He comes up with a romantic riddle which leads Latara to him and, at the same time, gets Malani to talk to the young scout named Gwig, who had been everybody's punching bag throughout the story.

    The story ends with Teebo and Latara kissing and cuddling on the cliff - thus confirming their relationship - as the futures from his visions come together. The sun sets.




    (reserved for links to relevant fanon thread entries)


    Timeline of my fics





    (reserved for maps I plan to draw)
     
  2. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
  3. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    To be removed
     
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  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Reorganised things - post no longer needed
     
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  5. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    00. Prologue


    TRIGGER WARNING: [hl=black]Pretty much everything.[/hl]

    Somewhere on the forest moon of Endor, circa 1 BBY

    The shadow reappeared solely to disappear again. The chaser swallowed a lump. He was not sure if the intruder was breathing behind his back, or if it was just the wind blowing. After a long, sleepless night, all the sounds of the forest were starting to resemble each other and now they were even starting to sound like his and his friend's own voices. By now, they had spent hours running around the forest, tracing the damp, muddy footprints. Being plump and reasonably short, he never liked running. The smell of his own damp fur in a stormy night was making him feel uneasy.

    His name was Mechett and he was a healer.

    He and Rango – his closest friend from the earliest days and now the tribe’s much admired chief – had been on guard duty in the middle of a thunderstorm when they encountered the menace that their fellow villagers claimed they had seen a few times. Now it was close to dawn and they were getting tired, but their enemy was not. Up till now they had not managed to catch a glimpse of his face, let alone attempt to capture him. When they finally did see him, they lost him again and they were on the edge of the forest and close to home.

    "So, now we know that he is a Yuzzum.” Mechett leaned against a nearby oddly-shaped blasé tree, panting. He could not run and talk at the same time. "I did not expect that!"

    They were not willing to continue the chase with the rain falling over the nearby small body of water and lightning hitting somewhere in the distance behind them. The odd tree with its dense crown seemed like a perfect shelter.

    "I hate Yuzzums, but this is the worst kind of Yuzzum I have seen in my entire life!" Burly, dark-furred Rango nervously poked his spear against the bark and sat down. "I understand that we are not born with nature powers to begin with, because powers are for the spirits to interfere with, but I swear that this creature has them!"

    "Chak, right, no nature powers among us Ewoks!" Mechett almost tripped on the root. "So, whatever we are dealing here could be a Yuzzum god that they summoned and offered a sacrifice to!"

    "A bloody sacrifice, you think? That's a scary thought right there! Remember when I banished those frightening...Mechett, are you listening to me?" Rango got up, seeing that his friend was not responding.

    "Rango, do you see it?" Mechett pulled his friend's large hand. "Look up in the sky!"

    Shading his eyes with his hand, Rango looked at what Mechett was pointing. It was not moving and it looked like a crescent moon. The colour was not the yellowish white they were used to, so it could not have been a new star. It wasn't as though new stars were going to pop in the dotted night sky out of nowhere.

    "Strange. It's not the time for the Sistermoon to be visible to us yet, since it's now with those tree-dwelling folk on the other side, far away."

    "That's no Sistermoon, Rango!"

    "Then what is it? Do you know?"

    "No. I just…I just think it could not be the Sistermoon, since that would mean the…the sky has shrunk and the end of the world is coming! Also, the Sistermoon is much, much bigger!"

    Mechett couldn't possibly tell Rango about the prophecy, since that would have gotten him in trouble. He shared all of his secrets with his best friend. All of them but one – the one he thought would end their friendship and break their village apart.

    "So, are we going to tell the Council about this?" he asked.

    "Chak. If they're still listening to us after we've told them that we were unable to catch this – aaaaargh!"

    Just as Rango was about to mention the ghostly Yuzzum again, it jumped from the tree and stabbed him in the cheek. He screamed and tried to reach for his spear, which remained stubbornly stuck in the bark.

    "Dengar, Ewoks!" Mechett head-butted the menace. Seconds later, he was pushed back against the tree and everything turned black. Once he came round, Rango lay in a pool of blood, his hood torn off and his face disfigured.

    "Rango!" Mechett laid his head on his friend's chest. The injured chief let out something that would have been a scream if his mouth and throat hadn’t been full of foam and blood. Mechett jumped and gently tried to touch Rango's chest again, prompting another painful sigh.

    "He…he’s crushed your chest bone! I need to treat your injuries!"

    Rango only managed to mutter a barely audible "no". Mechett pulled out a straw from his pouch and tried to suck out as much bile as he could from his friend's throat. The burly warrior reached for the straw and pulled it out.

    "There is no time. I…I have to tell you something important before I die."

    "You are not going to die, Rango. I'm a healer!"

    Rango shook his head. Even in his agony, he could not get over how stubborn Mechett was. In his last-ever bout of anger, he realised that he couldn't possibly tell his friend about the biggest deception in the history of their village – that would have gotten somebody in trouble.

    He shared all of his secrets with his best friend. All of them but one – the one he thought would end their friendship and break their village apart.

    "Mechett...I…appreciate your effort, but my heart is…barely" – he gasped for air – "beating. Please, tell my wife and my...my...my...my son that I loved them." He took Mechett's hand. "And make sure you take over the duties from the council until…cough…he is old enough to succeed me. I don't trust anybody else. And beware of..."

    Rango stopped talking. His eyes remained open and his tongue, barely recognisable from foam, blood and vomit, hung out of his mouth. A tearful Mechett shook him and pressed his head against his friend’s chest. There was nothing that could bring Rango back – not even the numerous gods the other Ewok tribes believed in. Still, he laid the corpse down and looked up through the treetops, praying one last time to Brother Sky to have mercy on his friend's soul. Faced with his best friend's death, he found himself believing in afterlife.

    Instead of the stars, he came face to face with a pair of yellow eyes on a branch high above him.

    He snarled. With strength he never knew he had, jumped onto the tree and climbed up to the branch, his axe between his teeth. The thin Yuzzum was sitting on a fork of two branches close to the top of the tree, cackling like an evil forest spirit. He was now adorned with Rango's long hood, his face barely showing.

    Not thinking much, Mechett swung the axe, severing one of the menace's hands. The Yuzzum did not let out a single cry of pain but just looked at his hand as it fell to the ground.

    "You really like being angry, midget!" The thin Yuzzum spoke near-perfect Ewokese.

    "Not midget. Mechett! I spent my whole life with Rango! I remember holding him when I was a wokling and he was an infant! He was destined to become a great leader, just like all the sons of the Arankoo family! And he was the best leader our village ever had!"

    "You also talk too much, midget…and none of it makes sense." The Yuzzum directed the index finger of his remaining hand towards the ground below, summoning the severed hand. Mechett observed the ghostly hand floating in what looked like a bubble of light and then wielded the axe again, this time missing his target. The axe was now stuck in the thick branch he stood on.

    "Great! This is where I wanted you!" The Yuzzum menace cackled again. "Sure this old tree is notorious for getting weapons stuck in its bark."

    Mechett's whole life was flashing before his eyes. He expected the creature to stab him in the heart or sever his very head, as he reached for the axe. Instead of that, the gnarly fingers grabbed the red trinket hanging from his hood, tearing a piece of cloth along with it.

    "I got that from my grandmother!” Mechett protested. “You can’t possibly –"

    The Yuzzum first ignored him. He observed the trinket and even bit it once, to make sure it wouldn't break.

    "This is it. Give me your knife, midget!"

    "What? How do you know I have a knife?"

    "Give me your knife if you want me to spare you!"

    Mechett looked down. A true Gondula, he didn't like being this high in a treetop for so long. He reached reluctantly into his pouch and handed the only knife he had to the Yuzzum, who, to his surprise, proceeded to stab himself in the eye. Disgusted, the Ewok looked away, as his enemy pulled out his eyeball and stuck the red trinket in the empty socket.

    "W-why would you willingly blind yourself?"

    "That is not of your concern, midget. I have been looking for this ever since I read about it in my mistress' scrolls! Your burly friend was an unnecessary distraction and I lost my patience. He had to die. I have already spent years trying to locate this gem. I only regret that I couldn’t rip it off your hood before I killed him, because using it would have been much more satisfying than fighting! "

    Having heard this, Mechett was feeling as if he had betrayed everybody. There had been warnings that something might have been going on, but he had had no way of communicating them to the Elders. He would have had to reveal his source.

    "I can see inside your mind, midget. If that Rango loved you and respected you as much as you claim you loved and respected him, why did you keep your biggest secret from him? And, more importantly, why did he keep his biggest secret from you?"

    "Rango had no secrets!"

    "That's right. Almost right. So, you knew how much he liked a flower in bloom and how many times he stopped to smell a flower until he found the one that smelled just right. But not all that blooms eventually bears fruit. And when it does…"

    "I don't care, stranger! Rango had no secrets! And you're a Yuzzum, you're a nobody! You can’t judge him! I know how Yuzzums live!"

    "And they do. But I am the purest of the pure!"

    "I don't believe in purity!" Mechett was furious.

    "You don't believe in anything. A true Gondula right there. It will be so much easier to deal with those head-in-cloud Panshees!" The Yuzzum waved his hand. "You have seen too much! And I need to try and to find the right hosts for this hand you so generously severed from me…as well as this eye!"

    The Yuzzum directed his finger at the axe stuck in the branch, which started cutting through the bark. Before he knew it, Mechett was falling through the air. He only just managed to grab the very bottom branch, right above Rango's corpse.

    A little later, as dawn was breaking, he marched into the village carrying the body of his dead friend. A female clad in a leather dress came out of the first hut.

    "Mechett! I have been waiting for you all night. Are you alright? What has happened to Chief Rango?"

    "He's dead, Kerida. Go and tell his wife and son and have somebody inform the Council of Elders. I am not leaving him." Breathing heavily, Mechett sat down next to the corpse.



    After Rango’s funeral, the Council of Elders gathered for an emergency meeting. Mechett was nervous. He was looking at Rango's young son, the only Ewok present who was as small as him, sitting at the end of the table. Clad in a washed-out red hood with no trinkets on it, with an empty belt of honour over the front bib, he looked too fragile to be a warrior apprentice.

    "So, Mechett, tell us more about the murderer," the elderly and sickly Head Elder Ooba asked, leaning over the table to the healer.

    "It was a Yuzzum. A strange, posessed and very thin Yuzzum…I chased him up a tree, but he took my axe and the trinket from my hood. He then stabbed himself in the eye and replaced his eye with my trinket! But it all started when we saw the crescent."

    "You climbed a tree?"

    "Chak, I did. The Odd Tree. That is also where that evil creature killed Rango!"

    The young heir to the throne started coughing and put his hands over his mouth.

    "Toughen up, will you?" one of the other Elders yelled at him. He apologised and swallowed a lump.

    "He just lost his father, don't be cruel to him." Mechett's wife approached the boy and hugged him. He hit her.

    "Shut up and get out of here, Kerida! Women have no rights in the council. If my mother is not here, why are you?"

    As two guards escorted her of the hut, Kerida tried to say something, but one of them placed a hand on her mouth.

    "We have to escort his family to a safe place,” one of the Council members said once the hut was free of women. “This creature may well be after them!"

    "Nonsense." The Ewok who had told the young heir to toughen up slammed his fist against the table. "Mechett is lying."

    "What?" the whole Council gasped and the heir started coughing again.

    "Where is that hand you're talking about? Show us the severed hand and we will believe you." The loud Elder turned away from Ooba towards Mechett.

    "The hand probably disappeared underwater."

    "Impossible! That tree is too far away from the water!"

    "There were so many puddles and it was still raining when I fell off the tree. The hand could be in any of them, deep in the mud."

    Ooba was about to say something, but the one particularly pushy member cut him off again.

    "Let's get this straight, Mechett: you have no proof and nobody believes you. You had all the reasons on Endor to get rid of the chief. You already disagreed with him when you got married, despite most shamans remaining pure all their life."

    "What you call purity is nonsense and you know it! Purity is a state of mind. Did you meet Keoulkettch from the Red Bush Grove? He has children, just like I do!"

    "Red Bush Grove? Those no-good Panshees!" Ooba spit on the hut floor. "I don't care what Panshees are doing!"

    The pushy one grinned and continued.

    "Rango was easily the most handsome chief we have ever had, and also the most honest one. He was strong, burly and big, with fur dark as the darkest night. You, you are barely taller than his son, who is still a wokling, and your fur looks like you rolled around in turd."

    "Am not!" the young one protested, but Ooba shook his fist at him. He was starting to like the pushy warrior.

    "Lastly, you knew what he wanted from you, in the unlikely case that anything should happen to him. He wanted you to take over as the chief until the boy is old enough to rule us."

    "That much is true." Mechett raised his hand. "And that is because he didn't trust you. I can…I can see why. Nobody respects the boy, either. You're trying to fill his head with anger and I don't…I don't know who is the Head Elder here anymore."

    Everybody gasped. Ooba snarled.

    "Mechett, I choose to believe my most trusted advisor and I don't see anything wrong with it. Rango trusted you too much and that led him to his demise. You probably wanted to get rid of me and the boy and then rule the village as you please." He paused, then continued. "You killed our leader. Therefore you will be executed."

    "I have the right to appeal to the rightful heir to the throne."

    "Indeed you do." The loud one looked towards the boy. "The young heir of Arankoo family, do you wish to pardon Mechett, the healer?"

    "No. I am not pardoning the one who killed my father. And hereby, I appoint Head Elder Ooba, as my lead advisor until I have completed all the trials."

    "This is betrayal!" Mechett cried as the guards tied his hands and legs behind his back with a rope, then hung him from a pole. He was in for the harshest punishment – he would be tied up on the top of the nearby mountain's summit with his arms and legs broken and left to be devoured by whatever beasts find him first. No funeral, no name mentioned in the village's songs of remembrance.

    The elders went outside carrying their prisoner. Kerida approached them, but they thrust their spears at her. Behind them she managed to see her husband's face for one last time. She looked at Mechett and realised he was trying to tell her something.

    "Take the children and run to the forest and head to the other side,” she read from his lips. “Don't ask me anything." Ooba walked to her slowly, the boy standing next to him.

    "Kerida, he is going to be staked out and punished. Rango's only son is to break his legs. As his wife, you can choose to be present or not.”

    "I don't want to witness that. Neither do I want our children to be there."

    "In that case, go home. We will discuss your fate once we determine if you were involved."

    "If I was involved in…what exactly?"

    "Shut up!" the boy yelled, spitting in Kerida's face. He reached out to hit her, but Ooba grabbed his hands.

    Further away, the advisor to the Head Elder called the two guards over to him.

    "Everything is going the way it should. The boy is not going to be a problem. He lives and breathes hate."

    "And Ooba?" The taller guard with a bird skull on top of his head was suspicious.

    "Ooba is a ninety-snows-old lurdo who does not remember what he ate earlier in the day. If he died tonight, that would be suspicious. If he dies in one moon, however…we can accept that his flame burnt out."

    "How about Kerida and her two brats?" The shorter guard with an eye patch reminded the advisor.

    "I am almost certain that they will leave the village tonight. In a day or two, we will go after them. Once we find them, we’ll deal with them."

    "With Ooba around? He will quickly turn the boy against us!"

    "What he does not know cannot hurt him. We will say that we're going hunting and that will give us plenty of time to come up with a good story. That crescent Mechett talked about is interesting."

    "For many moons one of his brats was drawing lines in the sand and carving them in the hut wall. The last time I saw it, the line did resemble a crescent."

    The advisor was puzzled.

    "Hmm, that one needs to be kept alive, then. After having been frightened for life, of course. There must be some rumours we can benefit from in this case."

    The guard with the eye patch clapped his hands.

    "The things my daughter has been telling me recently, about that very one of Mechett's brats…could be useful."

    "Tell me all about it, then."




    Footnotes:

    Every single detail in this prologue will matter later in the story.

    If you have read Snowed In and you think you recognised the big bad, you're right. But it's a cameo.

    I have lots of fanon on the differences between the two base tribes of Ewoks, Panshees and Gondulas. Until then, Wook links will do.

     
  6. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    It's here! [face_dancing] Okay, so having had the sneak previews I am all on board for this. :D

    Things go from ominous to worse very quickly here, and it will be interesting to see how this sinister situation develops. I know of at least one point where it connects to our heroes from Snowed In (because of spoilers :p) but as for how we get there... that's going to be very interesting! The characters of Mechett and his family, and the horrific situation developing in the village all grabbed my attention. I am very curious how the Bright Tree Ewoks would think of these people who have adopted such a different variation on their traditions -- the fear/denial of Force-sensitivity especially is such a contrast. [face_thinking]
     
  7. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Interesting and vividly written. So a coup d'état is in place? I will come back to see what happens!
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    What a deliciously dark and suspenseful start this is off to. :D

    It's just so cool the way you sprinkle in these little hints, both subtle and otherwise, about the MASSIVE differences between these Ewoks and the ones we know from Bright Tree village. Bright Tree is the model sylvan utopia, where egalitarianism reigns (or at least on the whole, given that the place [hl=black]eventually gains a Great Chieftess[/hl]) and the civil and magical authorities coexist harmoniously in the persons of the chief and the shaman. But this place is a dystopia. Women are second-class citizens, and magic and nature powers are disavowed almost completely, except possibly momentarily by Mechett in his prayer to Brother Sky. (I don't suppose that was in any way inspired by St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, which is all full of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Air, Sister Water, etc.?)

    Anyway, I know some of that is based on officially established differences between Panshee and Gondula Ewoks, but I also know you're expanding on that tons and bringing it to a new level of vividness.

    Agreeing with Kahara that the negative attitude toward nature powers really stands out as a red flag for. Maybe it's because nature powers play such an important role in your first Ewok epic, maybe because of my own interest in GFFA Force traditions. It almost makes me wonder if that attitude grew out of some terrible nature-power-related mishap long ago in the village's history. And it certainly doesn't bode well for them for the future, knowing the things you've told me about where this story might go... :eek:

    Rango and Mechett have a bit of that mismatched-friends dynamic that you know I'm fond of: the outgoing, charismatic leader and the quiet, contemplative healer, the handsome one and the funny-looking, short one with the funny fur color (I have to say, the way that advisor describes it is humorous, even if it is mean). But then we hear of these mysterious mutual secrets that lurk at the bottom of that friendship—secrets that will no doubt be among of the story's driving forces (and you know how much I enjoy stories like that ;) ). It's chilling the way the mysterious Yuzzum taunts Mechett about the fact that Rango's been keeping a secret from him—makes me wonder, of course, how he knows...!

    And then on top of it all, the classic "chief baddie's advisors/minions plot to overthrow chief baddie" scenario is about to happen. I am guessing it won't take long, since this one particularly shrill elder/advisor does seem to be tons sharper than old Ooba. Though there is something offputtingly sinister... indeed, almost sheevy... in the whole idea of using the child to get at the parents. And with the mysterious drawings, this child of Mechett's seems like a very interesting character in his or her own right. (Again, you know how I love stories with magical kids! :D )

    Finally, how can I not mention "That's no Sistermoon..." [face_laugh] absolutely priceless OT tie in, especially given [hl=black]my guess as to the identity of the crescent-shaped thing[/hl].
     
  9. glitteryboots

    glitteryboots Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2015
    What a gripping introduction. :eek: So many questions to grab the reader - what's the shadow? Who's the chaser and why? What's going on? By the time we find out a little more about Mechett and Rango, we're already invested in them.

    I don't have much to add to what Kahara and Findswoman said on their denial/negative views of nature powers/Force sensitivity, but that stood out to me, too. Doesn't look good for them... I'm also wondering [hl=black]if this mysterious evil Yuzzum is the Wanderer from the previous story.[/hl]

    And then what a visceral battle and death scene. I squirmed as poor Rango died and Mechett bravely tried to save him (sucking the bile out of his throat... that's true friendship, shudder), but that's a good thing - you've definitely mastered gritty and dark. :D

    Mechett's fate, too... :( Of course, we know what really happened, so we know he's innocent and that Rango's son's anger is misplaced - so awfully towards his father's best friend, who he genuinely wanted to succeed him. It's hard to feel truly sympathetic towards him when he's sent Mechett to his death, though of course it isn't his fault that he's been manipualted and filled with hatred by those around him. I don't trust this pushy advisor and ugh, even the others... what an unpleasant place this village must be in comparison to Bright Tree Village. I'm very intrigued to find out what their evil plans are and, on a lesser scale, if and how the Ewoks of this tribe will interact with the vastly different Ewoks of Bright Tree Village.
     
  10. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    I wasn't expecting such a gruesome death to come so early in the chapter. Mechett showed a lot of courage in climbing a tree to defeat his friend's killer. But it's strange that he would proceed to explain he and Rango's friendship to the Yuzzum and even give the killer his knife. The latter is at least realistic.

    On the subject of grittiness...




    Be careful with it. If you go too over-the-top and use repetitive obscenities, you run the risk of turning your story into an unintentional parody of itself. You never crossed the line, really, but keep that in mind.

    That said. The Yuzzum was a disturbing antagonist (in a cool way). It was frankly frustrating to read the corruption and insanity of the village Council. Looks like we might be short a main protagonist now. I hope Kerida and her "two brats" can fill the role.

    Judging by what I've seen "Snowed In" and this, your writing style is improving. Keep up the good work.
     
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  11. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Wow, harsh introduction to the story! Life is brutal everywhere, but it's really harsh on Endor, with the tribal culture and primitive superstitions running everyday life. Then the enemies come in, and that just ratchets up the daily levels of stress for the average Ewok. The way death occurs among your version of the Ewoks somehow feels more focused than the way death might occur in other parts of the galaxy. Does the use of magic among them play some part in...drawing out the inherent evil which lurks behind the trees, so to speak?
     
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  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Thanks for the wonderful first round of comments, everybody. :)

    There is one thing nobody said and I kind of wonder about it: did the prologue feel humid, mouldy and such in its first half? I was trying to achieve that and I'm not sure if it worked.

    And I'm so glad that you are. Then again, when Jar Jar appears at your door with a third eye on his tongue, you have no other choice. [face_monkey]

    [hl=black]Yes, this is precisely what happens, but it will need some time. Also, every single thing and every single character in the prologue is a clue to something.[/hl] [face_whistling]

    I do plan to expand on that in a fanon post once I've revealed the name of this place , yes. But I started out from a "take that, Ewok haters!" premise and came up with an interesting theory the Ewoks of the Bright Tree Village are primitive to the heroes in ROTJ, what would be primitve to them?


    Glad to see you here. :)

    And, yup, one coup d'état happened, with another implied to happen. I sort of...have a little obsession with betrayal.

    This story will continue onto the one I'm finalising (see the first post). If you want a TL;DR of that one once it's over (four more chapters to go), I can provide you with it.

    Thanks. ;)

    While Bright Tree Village is not flawless (*cough*, Head elder Kazak, *cough*), compared to this place, it definitely qualifies as a sylvan utopia.

    Mechett's prayer is a play on there not being atheists in foxholes.

    Not directly, but perhaps Joe Johnston had those on his mind when he created the deity of Brother Sky and the celestial body of Sistermoon for The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense. I suppose one could ask him in his next Q&A.

    The only established differences were that Gondulas live near bodies of water, in stilted villages and that they were more aggressive. Everything else is fanon and, yeah, there will be a lot of it. I already have some side-by-side comparison in tables that I plan to expand on.

    So far, we have seen that Gondulas are not the best tree climbers.

    A good wizard relies on himself first and magic second... [face_whistling]

    The said Yuzzum knows too much, [hl=black]as we have seen elsewhere[/hl], indeed.

    I had a lot of fun writing two side characters for The Black Star who function in a similar way, as polar opposites; and while Rango and Mechett were obviously friends for real and not stuck with each other for life, like those two, creating their differences among each other and all these little similarities to canon and legends characters (all of them intentional, thank you very much) was almost as interesting as writing this prologue.


    Which exact child in this case? Rango's or Mechett's?

    And that advisor may be smarter than everybody or almost everybody in the village. Sadly...

    That character will matter a lot in this story.

    And now I wonder if Obi-Wan had a sister on Stewjon...
     
  13. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    That was partly your fault! Some months ago, you said that I write stories that keep people interested. And I wondered what would happen if the prologue is action-packed and, on top of it, in medias res. I never did that before, but since the author of 30 H's did it, I WAS SURE IT WOULD WORK WELL. Sadly, I did not include a guitar anywhere. :( The Yuzzum should have rocked the kriff out and killed some vampire caveewoks on the Sistermoon.

    Yes, that's who it is. I thought it was obvious. Then again, maybe the others didn't want to spoil it. When leiamoody asked about him reappearing, the idea of writing a prologue set before the events of Snowed In was born; and while this cannot count as his backstory, it's the equivalent of a Sith initiation or whatever other dark side traditions have. He is like a special guest star in this episode.

    I do plan to write his backstory as an one-shot.

    With Ewoks' level of technology, there was no other way to try and do something. So, that moment was not just deliberately gross.

    That boy has A LOT of issues. He's going to be pivotal to the story, so we'll see how much he changed within four years, if any.

    And nope, we don't know his version of the story so far, but he probably loved his dad, whatever that means in this savage place.


    See my comments to Kahara and Findswoman above.

    As said above, I wanted a prologue full of clues and in medias res on top of it.

    Mechett's constantly explaining himself because it's a part of his nature. I wanted a character who is a tiny bit logorrheic and a bit on the department of the redundancy department side. This may or may not be one of the reasons others don't take him seriously.
    I am not sure how far you got with Snowed In, [hl=black]but the Yuzzum is the main antagonist in that story and he always gets what he wants, regardless of the situation.[/hl]

    I removed one of those three instances, thanks for the tip.

    Corruption is in my blood, because I'm from Balkans. It had to find its way into a fanfic, eventually. :D

    This is the point where I'm just whistling. [face_whistling]


    Thanks. :) And thanks for daring to take this ride!

    Endor is dangerous, with or without technology. But yes, more dangerous this way.

    In this particular case, no. Out of everybody who appeared or was mentioned in this chapter, only two characters are capable of "magic". One of them should be obvious (and it's thanks to you that he made it to this story, if only for one chapter); the other...well, depends. ;) This village is anti-magic.
     
  14. Rau_Fang

    Rau_Fang Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Perfect nothing makes me happier than meta star wars lines.

    Whoa whoa whoa - I'm sad and shocked to see Rango get took like that! Seriously no romance to that death. just brutal.

    I love the dark and gritty places you explore. In college I had a semester studying pre-imperial american art (worked for a core credit, haha). your story brings me back to that - something about the superstitiousness of the tribes and their regressive society and politics. Maybe I just picture your Ewoks in similar garb to the Mayans. there is a unique anthropological angle - I feel like Margeret Mead is going to show up at any moment - she's studying the Ewoks and their indigenous ways :p .

    Maybe the vivid violence of your writing harkens back to the gruesome art and style of the early central americans. Whatever it is I love it! It's visceral and real - keep it up! Although def listen to metophlus too :)

    Here's to hoping that Mechett and his family make it out alive (judging by your style I'm not holding out hope.

    Keep me in the update list!
     
  15. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Rau_Fang - So glad to see you here after your comment on About a Boy. :D

    Here comes the shocking confession: I normally cannot stand violence. I cannot play violent games, watch violent films and things like Game of Thrones where nobody has one single redeeming quality disturb me beyond belief, are repugnant and strange to me. Not to mention that it upsets me, to the point of feeling physically sick.

    And that's where the trick lies, in my opinion: there has got to be the right measure and a purpose. For everything.

    What metophlus warned me about in his comment is something I'm well-aware of. There will be more violence in this story, but only when absolutely necessary. I am a firm believer that certain things in fiction - violence, poetry/music, intimate scenes and similar - just cannot exist for their own sake. There needs to be a point, or they need to be plot points themselves; otherwise one has a slasher/snuff story, a musical or pornography.

    As for your culture-related points, it's a compete coincidence. My background on the western hemisphere's cultural and anthropological heritage is nowhere near as good as what I know about pre-medieval and ancient Europe. With the whole business of tree worship among Ewoks, I always saw some similarities between them and old Slavs and the way the Gondula tribe (or, in my fanon, a subspecies, whatever) lives fits into that vision perfectly. The other cultures I've been picking ideas from are mostly Asian, with bits of western European Renaissance thrown in here and there. See my first fanon post to see how some things blend in. There is even a reference to a XX century underdog genius and a story that resembles his.

    I will look up Margaret Mead, since I am not familiar with her.

    As for who from the family survives, I cannot say much right now, but the pushy advisor with leadership ambitions has implied some things.
     
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  16. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    You're stepping miles outside your comfort zone, then. This could be a real developmental experience for you as a storyteller.

    Please update the story soon!

    PS: Keep a security blanket close at all times!
     
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  17. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    A heads-up to everybody...

    I am starting to post regular chapters on Friday, August 14th. That would be in about 24 hours.

    I have updated the two intro posts with a synopsis of Snowed In, a rough timeline of my fics, a pic of the main characters minus the OCs from the prologue and more. You can also read Snowed In in its full length, if you like...but remember, it's 60K words. :p

    The OCs from the prologue won't appear for the first ten chapters or so, given the structure of the story. But yes, they WILL be important and at least two of them can be counted as part of the main cast.

    I hope you will stick around. @};-
     
  18. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    TAGS: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to glitteryboots for taking over the beta duty for this chapter, both on my and the super-busy Findswoman's behalf. ^:)^

    1. A Hero Like Me

    Near Bright Tree Village, Happy Grove circa 3.5 ABY

    The warrior circle was meeting in the Land of Dandelion Warriors, a seemingly abandoned meadow peppered with stray urchins. They wandered away from their side of the forest for the first time since the Sunstar had been destroyed; after the Skull Ones had chased the Duloks away from their swamp and started building an Evil Lair for themselves. It was an arid summer day, reminiscent of the times of the great forest fire three snows ago.

    "Scout Gwig!" Tippet yelled at a blue-hooded wokling, who nodded before even knowing what he was about to be ordered to do. "Put a leather robe on and go search for star urchin quills. Master Logray may need them for his antidotes and potions. They once saved the life of one Deej Warrick. Wunka! Go help the wokling out...gather all the regular quills in a barrel. They will come in handy on the bottom of our new traps for the Skull Ones."

    "Do I get a leather robe, too?"

    "No."

    Wunka mumbled a barely audible "k'vark". After the Council of Elders determined that he had willingly exposed three young Ewoks to danger and refused to listen to other hunters' warnings about a witch of the Night Spirit; he was sentenced to six whole moons of life as a plain scout. He looked at Romba; the small, light-furred Ewok who filled his old position and snarled in anger. Romba just waved to him, assuming that his fellow warrior was smiling.

    "He thinks he'll make up for his height with his agility." Wunka continued talking to himself, while Gwig had already started searching through the quills. "That's not going to happen. Neither with him, nor that youngest Warrick...where the Night Spirit is that fleebog of a wokling, anyway?"

    Gwig somehow managed to hear the last thing Wunka said and immediately ran to Tippet.

    "Master Tippet! Master Tippet! Wicket Warrick is not here!"

    Tippet glanced at the warriors preparing the terrain for target practice. He failed to spot any of the Warricks, not just Wicket. He did not see the infamous gurreck skull headdress either – Teebo, hero of the Griagh assault and the carrier of the Sacred Horn of the Soul Trees was missing as well. He shook his head and headed to Chief Chirpa's nephew.

    "Paploo, where are your friends today?"

    "The Warricks are preparing to leave to the enclave. Weechee, Widdle and Wicket couldn't have been here; they need to help their parents with the cattle and luggage. And Teebo...I don't know. He's got a lot to do these days – the Council of Elders appointed him as the Voice of the Young Ones; Master Logray needs him as well. He could be anywhere."

    "Good for him, then. But if you see him, remind him that his warrior duties should come first. His powers are certainly helping him with handling the axe, he is good on the glider like his father, but he is notoriously bad with everything else and needs a lot of practice...not to mention discipline."

    Tippet adjusted his hood and called the young scout over again.

    "Gwig?"

    "Chak, Master Tippet?"

    "After you're done finding those star urchin quills, go back to the village and find Orbo, the bordok stable cleaner. Tell him that I sent you to get the droppings out of the hay today...and tomorrow."

    "B-but, Master Tippet! I have a play date with my friend, M…"

    "It's not nice to tell on other people. Now run along!"

    ...

    Teebo was not that far away. He was enjoying some quiet time with his girlfriend, Latara. Hunched on the edge of the cliff, he was running his hands through the white blossoms he struggled to keep in bloom beyond the flower season by use of nature powers.

    Needless to say, Latara loved those little flowers.

    The two had been together for only a couple of moons, but loved each other for many snows before. Knowing that a storm was inevitable, despite their numerous obligations, they were doing whatever it took to see each other, at their secret place, every morning and evening.

    "Do you like my new song, Teebo?" Latara asked. "Teebo? Are you even listening?"

    "I am, I am…just let me focus on something for a moment. I almost made it!"

    Teebo placed his thumbs on his head, right below his ears. He closed his eyes, started grinding his teeth and took a deep breath. Latara smirked and looked to the hills and mountains barely visible in the distance, as her boyfriend was now mumbling something in the language of magic.

    He opened his eyes. The flowers before him were no longer white. Some of them seemed almost translucent, fog-like, while the others were of various shades of pink and red.

    "T-this is not what I wanted to do!" he thought to himself. "I wanted to make some of them violet and grey…and write her name with those. K'vark! Time for the other plan…"

    Latara shrugged, took her flute and played her new song, again. Just as she was finishing it, she felt a flower wreath find its way to her neck. She turned around to see Teebo kneeling behind her and smiling. He then took her hand to kiss it.

    "So, that's what he was doing!" she thought to herself and placed his hand on her chest.

    "Listen to my heart beating."

    After a couple of seconds of giving her a blank, terrified stare, he pulled his hand out, as if she was on fire.

    "I-I'm sorry!"

    "He is sorry?" Latara thought. "I want to be touched there; I want his six fingers all over me. We have been together since the snows have melted. Why is this still a problem?"

    She lay on her boyfriend's lap. The smell of the colourful flowers still lingered. Wrapping the stray end of the wreath around her finger, she was quiet for a while. Then she sighed, snuggled up to him and presented him with what appeared to be a riddle.

    "Arandee, Teebo…something has been on my mind for a while." She turned her head and looked straight into his eyes. "What is love? I more or less have an idea on how to define it, how about you?"

    "That is one tricky question, isn't it? Can you tell me what you think it is first?"

    Latara was confused. Her boyfriend was never the kind to respond to a question with another question. Nevertheless, she had an answer ready.

    "Love is certainly more than just words. After everything that has happened, I’m pretty sure that love is also much more than…racing for the light spirit stuff the way warrior apprentices race for their belts of honour."

    "Funny that you said that, as, while lying blind and motionless for nearly three moons, I realised we're more than colours and shapes, and that the light spirit stuff isn’t bad…”

    Latara grinned, as her eyes lit up. But Teebo continued.

    “...at some point. When it's not planned, expected. When your feelings for somebody are so clear that they can feel what you feel."

    Her grin first turned into a frown, and then she pouted, clenched the flower wreath in her fist and tossed a handful of flowers in Teebo's face, sticking her tongue out at him. He frowned, unsure what to make of it and whether to try and re-assemble the wreath using his magic.

    "What did I do?"

    "You lurdo! I thought you meant that you want to be like Master Logray or something!" she whispered and turned around to face him, playfully reaching for his teeth necklace.

    "Like Master Logray? In what exact way? I already have an animal skull on my head, but what else?"

    He was puzzled. They kissed for a while and then, as usual, took to their gliders and went separate ways, in order not to return to the village at the same time.

    ...

    Wicket was still sitting on his hammock, not pleased about having to leave to the enclave. The more he thought about it, the more he noticed that he had not been happy about anything recently.

    How could a hero like him be so jaded, all of a sudden? How could he feel the way he had been feeling for almost one whole moon now? What had suddenly happened and why did everything have to change with the arrival of the Skull Ones and their awful fire sticks?

    For a couple of moons, everything was perfect - he was a newly-initiated warrior, he was training with the older, more experienced Ewoks and two of his best friends. And then, just out of the blue, everything crashed to the ground, like an unexpected landslide.

    He was completely sure that he could never respect, let alone love a tall, hairless being like those whom the village now feared. Not even one of their woklings, whatever they looked like. They were so evil, so sly, that even the vilest of Duloks seemed harmless in comparison.

    In front of the hut, his mother was saying goodbye to her friends.

    "Don't worry, Shodu. We will be checking your home every couple of days." Zephee patted her friend on the back. Bozzie and Batcheela nodded.

    "Chak, we will make sure we check for bugs and pests every now and then."

    Shodu smiled and looked away. Having married a Warrick and given birth to four children, she always had a lot on her plate. But this time it was more than she ever thought she would be able to handle. Her reckless firstborn and her adventure-hungry husband had been chosen to lead a small group of families to an enclave about a half day's walk from the village, to the south. This enclave was the brainchild of master Logray, who had determined that a group of settlers would be useful for warning the village of whatever Skull Ones were up to and, at the same time, producing additional crops, in case somebody poisoned the village's principal fields and orchards.

    And nobody asked her, Shodu Warrick, if she even liked the sound of that. Nobody was asking anybody if they liked anything these days.

    Deej Warrick was waiting for his family, leaning on the bordok cart on the main stairway. He had said goodbye to Chief Chirpa and his daughters earlier that day and he was ready to go. Little Winda was pulling the front end of his hood and giggling, causing him to be even more impatient. What was taking his sons and his wife so long?

    Then he spotted his pride, the three young warriors. The oldest and the middle were carrying a crudely-carved piece of a tree trunk and the youngest one trailed behind them, dragging his small feet and carrying only a single box. Then he got in his brothers' way.

    "Hurry up, everybody! We are not leaving for good, remember?"

    "I know, dad!" Widdle stopped for a moment to catch a breath. "But we are having problems with Winda's crib. It's too heavy!"

    Only then did Deej spot his youngest son. When did that little rascal become invisible?

    "Wicket, what are you doing? Why are you staring at that wooden box? We need your help here!"

    "He's not even letting us pass." Weechee protested. "Wicket, what is wrong with you? Lurdo!"

    Wicket shrugged and finally moved out of the way, completely ignoring his brothers and the crib. Once they all were on the forest floor, he spotted somebody running behind him, all the way from the glider launch and landing site.

    "Hey, Wicket! W-wait up!"

    Teebo arrived just in time to see his best friend leave. Seconds before he reached Wicket, he somehow managed to trip on his own feet. He got up and grinned. Wicket gave him a blank stare.

    "I'm sorry; the wind was not the best this morning. So glad you didn't leave in the meantime."

    "No, you're not sorry." Wicket thought. "You will never care about me again now that you have your girlfriend." He was close to saying it all out loud, having noticed pink flower petals on his friend's fur. But he had matured enough to bite his tongue.

    "You smell really nice today." He said and picked a petal off Teebo's dark striped fur. "Like a true warrior."

    "I don't understand what you mean. I ran like the Gorge of Fire to say goodbye. So…goodbye. Hope this won't last long." Teebo was close to tears. He reached out to shake hands with his friend.

    "Goodbye, chak…" Wicket placed the wooden box in Teebo's hand. "Please, keep this safe. I wouldn't want Malani to open it and giggle about my…secrets."

    "I don't think she is into you anymore...but I may be wrong. I can't wait for this, whatever it is, to end, so we could go fishing or camping like we used to."

    "No, you don't."

    "I…do?!" Teebo scratched his head.

    "Wicket, hurry up, will you?" Weechee stood in front of the bordok cart, with Deej, Shodu, Widdle and Winda already inside. "You will have plenty of time to talk to Teebo when we're back!"

    "I'm sorry for keeping your family from leaving!" Teebo picked Wicket up and hugged him and then awkwardly placed him on the front cart seat, next to Weechee. "And I hope you will find friends to spend the time with at the enclave. I will be missing you, my friend."

    Warricks' cart was slowly catching up with three other carts in the distance. Teebo looked on until it disappeared from sight and then climbed back to the village, solely to see Latara, Paploo and Kneesaa waiting for him. Paploo was laughing.

    "Did you just…carry Wicket to the cart? How romantic." He rolled his eyes.

    "Paploo, you smell of bordok droppings." Latara sniffed the air. "With whom exactly did you get romantic?"

    "Arandee, it's not my fault that wokling scout sent out to bring me back was stinky, but he didn't really have to pull me by hand. At least I don't smell of flowers." Paploo batted his eyes at Teebo again.

    "T'hesh, will you? Stop arguing, there was a good reason I sent scouts for you!"

    The three Ewoks turned to Kneesaa, who put her hand over her mouth, apparently surprised by her own yelling. Then she realised she was tapping her foot and quickly took a step back.

    "My father wants to see the four of us. Immediately. He didn't want to disclose anything…not even to me."

    "I think we're in trouble…"

    The four friends headed to the Royal Hut.




    Footnotes

    Dandelion warriors, also known as Fftssfft appear in the Ewoks cartoon episode To Save Deej and..well, you'll have to read about them to get them. Weird creatures. And yes, they have quills, not needles and the special, rare quills are called star urchin quills.

    The fire referenced at the end of the first paragraph takes place in the Ewoks pilot, The Cries of the Trees.

    For other events described in that paragraph, as well as the Sacred Horn of the Soul Trees and Teebo's warrior status, refer to Shadows of Endor.

    For the reasons for Wunka's punishment, refer to Snowed In - he made a bunch of mistakes that almost got everybody killed.

    Orbo, the bordok stable cleaner, appears in the Ewoks cartoon episode Just My Luck. HE IS CANON.

    Run like the Gorge of Fire - an in-universe attempt of "Run like Hell". The Gorge of Fire appears in the first Ewoks comic, The Rainbow Bridge.

     
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  19. Admiral Volshe

    Admiral Volshe Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    [face_laugh]

    This was great! Lots of sweet moments, lots of very well balanced emotions. :D
    When's the next chapter? (I kid, but I really am looking forward to it).

    And yay,the Fftssfft! :p
     
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  20. Cushing's Admirer

    Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Read your Intro Notes. :) I like your style and *thank you* for daring tackle SW in a mature fashion. I look forward to finally being able to truly sink into and engage with something in the way I prefer. I am so easily bored.

    Prologue:

    Wow, your warnings sure are warranted. Some of these new Ewoks have major issues. Rango's son seems very haughty and mean. I wonder if it is his character or if he's under undue influence gave the link to the gem in the eye earlier. I hope there's potential of abuse and degradation lessening and the gaining of respect for faith as this continues.

    I:

    It appears winds and alliances are shifting. It likewise seems Wicket is jealous and liking flowers or their scents is hardly emasculating. :p
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Addendum: I forgot to post this:

    Honestly if Teebo is shy about sex I don't blame him. It's not something to do off the cuff and one shouldn't be forced or hurried.

    Are Skull Ones Stormtroopers and are firesticks blaster rifles?
     
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  21. glitteryboots

    glitteryboots Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2015
    Teebo being appointed as Voice of the Young Ones has to be a positive thing for the tribe!

    Ahh, I was happy to see him and Latara together and making an effort to see each other so often, but the scene is bittersweet. Teebo is confused and likely being affected by his body image issues, whereas Latara means no harm but can't understand that and may be a little blinded by lust. I can see this eventually becoming a problem but I have faith in them to get through it. Also, well done on writing Latara as a lustful character honestly but without sexualising her.

    I've already said this, but I love these two paragraphs because they read like an Ewok actually wrote them. :) Also, on this read, I realised that him feeling he could never love a human makes it even more special that the Ewoks do eventually make friends with humans.

    No surprise considering what's currently happening on Endor, but it sounds like conditions will be especially harsh both in the enclave and in the village in the coming months.

    Ugh, Wicket's comment about the flower petals and general attitude towards Teebo is uncalled for. It's a shame to see him regress to that after he began to change positively in Snowed In. I also get the impression that he's jealous, whether it's because he doesn't get love in general, is no longer the centre of attention or even because he fears being alone, so doesn't like his friends spending time together without him. Considering that he doesn't believe Teebo wants to have fun with him when the struggles are over, maybe it's the last one. I wonder if this is a deeper issue and part of the reason he's become so jaded... I wonder what "secrets" are in his box, too.

    I laughed at Latara telling Paploo that he smells of bordok droppings. :D He deserved that.

    Ooo, a cliffhanger ending. I wonder why they're in trouble and what that will lead to.
     
  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    And here are our "usual suspects"! [face_love] Which of course immediately gets me curious about how they will later connect with the completely new group of characters introduced in the prologue. There's so much more to the world of the Ewoks than just Bright Tree Village...

    Love how the poor, hapless Gwig is one of the first we meet, being ordered about by an imperious Tippet in a way that he seems very used to, in a way. Bummer that he's sent to clean the stables! But it will be character-building for him, I suppose. :D

    I agree 100% with glitteryboots 's comment about the regression of Wicket's behavior from Snowed In. What things to say to his best friend! And Paploo joins in with the smelling-like-flowers comment and the eyelash batting. But the feeling is a common one for young folks at the stage where they begin to explore romance. And in a way we're seeing not just Wicket but also Teebo and Latara characters regress a bit here. Teebo's getting all self-conscious again and clueless, and Latara all hot-to-trot (you can just SEE her face fall with disappointment when Teebo qualifies his statement on the Light Spirit by saying the time has to be right)... and it happens almost in exactly the same breath as they try to understand each other's very different feelings about love. But the thing is, isn't that the way most personal growth in real life actually happens? Two steps forward, one step back, and repeat. Though that doesn't mean Teebo's new position as Voice of the Young Ones isn't extremely well deserved. What a plum for him! =D= (Not sure if that point is canon or not.)

    Even with the misunderstandings that still pop up between them, though, the love scene between Teebo and Latara is very sweet and sincere; there's still very much the feeling that these two really & truly are trying to figure each other out. Latara's Logray comment is interesting because it shows that she of all people seems to know something about the old shaman that's not common knowledge; Teebo's response about having the skull on his head is just perfect. [face_laugh]

    Wicket's ruminations on his jaded feeling do show that his character growth is continuing. His feelings about the hairless new arrivals are certainly understandable and like glitteryboots says, you've done an excellent job of really putting us inside his head here without Humanifying him. It's sure brave of those Warricks to be the ones to venture forth into potentially hostile territory as a "test group," but it does indeed fit with the Abenteuerliebe we know so many of those Warrick boys possess.

    And of course how could I not be curious about (a) the wooden box (cough cough Chekhov cough cough) and (b) the chief's reasons for calling the quartet to see him. They personally may or may not be in trouble, but trouble is most certainly brewing—and perhaps the various little interpersonal troubles we see rearing their heads in this opening chapter is a portent of that, too. [face_thinking]
     
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  23. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Come on, Tippet. It's the duty of a soldier to report another who's missing or shirking their own duties. In time of war, a military leader assigns their soldiers to positions and expects them to follow on-the-spot orders.

    I'm thrilled at the idea of magic affecting flowers and trees. Blame Ferngully.

    You'd better man up, Teebo, or she'll go find another Ewok willing to get handsy.

    Ewok lore must lend itself to surreal exchanges like this. Most of it escapes me personally, but the word usage captivates me.

    Is their romance forbidden? Wicket mentions it openly to Teebo later. Were the two friends just out of earshot of everyone?

    Smart move for Logray. Deej will possibly become a watchmen or deep scout.

    XD
     
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  24. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Space for replies. Deadline...argh.
     
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  25. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    TAGS: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to glitteryboots for taking over the beta duty for yet another chapter, both on my and the super-busy Findswoman's behalf. ^:)^


    2. The Chosen Four

    Chief Chirpa was observing the four adolescent Ewoks, sitting in silence at the large, two hundred snows old dining table in the Royal Hut's largest chamber. He had rehearsed everything he was to tell them, but once they arrived, he was lost for words. With light coming through the rounded window from high above the treetops and landing on the young ones' fur, they suddenly seemed so different. Were they actually younger in the dark? And when on Endor did they change so much?

    Over the last couple of snows, Kneesaa had been slowly losing the childish streak he loved, something he never got to enjoy with his older daughter. Each time he looked at her, she seemed worried, and there were a couple of occasions where he could swear by the Great Tree that she called him "dad" and not "father".

    His flamboyant nephew Paploo, sitting next to Kneesaa, was getting more and more unpredictable with every single season that passed by and every single task put in front of him. There were the times when he truly looked like somebody who would put both himself and others in danger, or do something incredibly outrageous - for no reason other than showing off and competing with other warriors.

    And then there was Teebo, Paploo's polar opposite, once upon a time a foolish creature with his head in clouds and appearance so delicate that it was hard to tell if he was male or female. Now, with a gurreck skull headdress and dark striped fur, his once calm green eyes almost looked menacing.

    The last in line was Latara, one of his daughter's friends that he was never truly able to see through and figure out. He knew that some of the members of the Council of Elders, including the Head Elder Kazak himself, were using harsh words to describe her and that Bozzie once called her "Trouble", but other than that, she was a mystery.

    For the first time since his warrior apprentice days at the very end of the Ewok-Dulok wars, the leader of the tribe had started to doubt himself.

    Were these four young Ewoks truly ready for what he needed them to do?

    Having forgotten what his approach was supposed to sound like, Chirpa put his elbows on the table and asked only one, simple question.

    "So, why do you think you're here?"

    To his surprise, all four seemed apologetic and panicked.

    Teebo got up and stuttered his apology first.

    "I am sorry that I did not attend the warrior meeting this morning. If anybody has seen me with Latara earlier…I had to ch-check on a lantern bird nest…and she offered to accompany me."

    "Chak, chak! Mistress Fashkaa didn't need me so early today." Latara nodded, taking her boyfriend's hand. "After the Hood Festival was relocated to the main square, there were a lot of things we simply didn't have to make anymore."

    "Arandee, uncle. No matter what Salina says, I did not wink at her and I most certainly did not attempt to slap her behind!" Paploo grinned and crossed his fingers behind his back, while awkwardly waving with the other hand.

    "Was there a Council of Elder meeting I was supposed to be at, d…father?" Kneesaa seemed to be genuinely surprised by what she could have done wrong. "I've been so preoccupied with the scrolls about the past of our village these days, that I just…"

    Chirpa shook his head and started drawing imaginary circles on the table with his big finger. He was not Kazak to enjoy the fear of the four adolescents admitting they have done something wrong, with nobody even asking them about it. He expected more confidence, more responsibility. This was not what he was looking for, but he had no other choice. He had to carry on with his plan.

    "The four of you showed great bravery during the Griagh assault. While I awarded only one at the ceremony" - he pointed to Teebo's horn - "this in no way means that the other three did not deserve any honours. Most importantly, you have proven that you are fully adult and capable of making right decisions when it matters."

    "Father, what does that mean?" Kneesaa was confused.

    "At this point, I would be inclined to say 'apparently, nothing', since you all just admitted to breaking rules. And you were taught the rules for behaviour in case of imminent danger - long before you begun your apprenticeships. Always put your village before everything else. Report to your Master every morning. Do not miss any events important for your group."

    "I didn't break any of these!" Paploo protested.

    Latara giggled and leaned on the wall behind her. "You broke pretty much all other rules in existence!"

    "Silence!" Chirpa clapped his hands. "I have a task for you. "Logray and I will give you maps indicating nearly all settlements on our side of Endor, all the way to the north most edge of the Symoom desert. You will travel to each and every one of them and let the inhabitants know what is going on. Tell them that the plague of the Skull Ones is upon us and that the dark days from Logray's visions have arrived. Teach them how to defend themselves."

    "Together?"

    "Yes, together. Two males, two females. My daughter will act on my behalf and do her best to represent the royal family of the Bright Tree Village. While I don't like the fact that we are separating, this will be an experience she would have had to gain, sooner or later."

    "Paploo and Teebo, you will demonstrate all you have learned so far, as warriors. Also, you have to be very careful when it comes to magic. A whole tribe of Tulgah has been taken into slavery by the Skull Ones, for the sole reason of being magical. You must not reveal that you know magic."

    "But I don't know it either way, uncle."

    "He's talking about me."

    "That is right, Teebo. You still have a gift and, given what has been going on recently, you might want to keep it for yourself."

    "But…I need my magic. I am a shaman, first and foremost."

    "When you kneeled before me and accepted the Sacred Horn of the Soul Trees, you made a promise to serve the village in times of need. I allowed you to bypass the warrior apprentice status because, frankly, we needed a large spearman, confident with leading scout. And then Tippet reports that you cannot seem to be able to handle a spear without magic. What is that about? Remember what Logray once told you – rely on yourself first."

    Teebo wanted to respond to that, but Chirpa turned to Latara.

    "How is your shoulder wound these days? Has it healed?"

    "Chak, my chief. It only hurts when I'm...never mind." She grinned.

    "Your responsibility will be to take the fire sticks with you and show other beings how to handle them. We have recently taken down a dozen of Skull Ones and got more. You can show them how to aim, but also how to escape when the red fire comes out."

    "What about the little lever on the side? I pushed it four times when I used it, but…"

    "Tak accidentally pushed it only three times in practice and somehow managed to stun himself for a while. I guess it may come in handy, but – for the love of the Soul Trees – make sure you are not aiming at yourself. Also, the fire sticks seem to die after some time. I think they are alive. Now, if we only knew how they bred…"

    The group was silent for a while. They all seemed surprised. Eventually, Kneesaa spoke.

    "Do we have to do anything before we leave, father?"

    "Nothing. Master Logray will prepare the scrolls, as well as any possible repellent, remedy and cure you may need on your way. Talk to your parents." – Chirpa looked at Teebo and Latara and then turned to Paploo – "I already spoke to Bozzie, she was honoured."

    "Didn't dad die like this? During a mission, before I was even born?"

    "We will talk about that some other time."

    Paploo let a barely audible snarl and, once he saw his uncle's back, kicked the nearby empty chair. He kicked it too hard and the next moment, he squeaked from pain. Luckily, Latara was not looking at him this time; otherwise she would've had a clever remark about his misfortune once again. He rolled his eyes and tried to keep calm.

    "You are to leave in two days."

    "Two days? But...but the Hood Festival!" Latara frowned. "This was the first time I was involved with it. Now I won't get to see the woklings' reaction!"

    "Chak, not to mention countless opportunities for..."

    "Paploo!" Kneesaa gasped. "What demon has gotten into you these days?"

    "Sometimes, one has to sacrifice the little pleasures for a greater cause." Chirpa put an end to the discussion. "You are free to go now. I still have to tell the Council about my decision, but your presence is not required. In fact, you will save yourselves from pulling your own fur if you're not present." He turned to his daughter. "Kneesaa, you are coming with me."

    The princess swallowed a lump. The meetings would often to last until dawn and were full of arguments, most of them initiated by Head Elder Kazak and a couple of other Elders.

    ...

    Teebo was heading home, carrying a bunch of scrolls from the observatory. He was passing by the supply hut and remembered that his parents asked him to bring back some fruit. Just as he was about to get in, somebody pushed him and closed the bolted door behind both of them. He turned around, expecting another one of Paploo's common pranks.

    But it was not Paploo. Standing there was Paploo's mother, Bozzie. And she looked worried.

    "You must help me!" She pulled him by his chest fur, nearly weeping. "Help me, Teebo, you are my only hope!"

    "I would be glad to, but how? And why the secrecy?"

    "I am so worried that my baby Paploo will make the same stupid mistake!"

    At this point, Teebo dropped all of the scrolls on the floor and Bozzie's grasp was so tight that he feared she would pull a handful of fur from his chest...and she knew how long it took to grow.

    "Same as who?" He asked her. "When? What do you think he is going to do?"

    "You have access to Logray's scrolls. I have two handfuls of dangleberry seeds. You are going to make a batch of Blue Fire juice and slip it into his food once a day, throughout the expedition."

    "What is Blue Fire?"

    "I am not good with medicine, but it's rumoured that a man drinking it cannot father a child. And I know young ones. I know them all too well. They are looking for challenges the moment they step their foot out of the Happy Grove! I don't want my baby to be somebody's deadbeat father and not know it!"

    Teebo nearly chuckled. The tone Bozzie spoke in was ranging from cringeworthy to downright bizarre, yet she looked genuinely worried. It was hard not to laugh.

    "He wants women and I know he will find at least one on this trip! I am concerned...why doesn't he just look up to you and just wait until the day his and his wife's Soul Tree saplings burn together?"

    "But, Bozzie, I am..."

    "I know! You are the most wonderful young man I know." She finally let him go and placed a slobbery kiss on his cheek. "Thank you for doing this for me!"

    Seemingly happy, Bozzie dashed out of the supply hut. Teebo shrugged at his own shadow on the wall, then thanked the Great Tree for not having a mother like Bozzie.

    And then, not even knowing why exactly, he burst out laughing, in the middle of gathering the scrolls from the floor.


    Kneesaa's fears proved to be completely justified. The sun had set long ago and the Council of Elders meeting was still going on. While she was doing her best to understand her irresponsible friends, who were constantly baiting each other, she had little to no understanding for the Elders. The youngest among them was seventy snows old, the oldest around two hundred. They had no excuses to act like woklings.

    As usual, the one making every single thing hard and talking more than everybody else combined was Kazak, the Head Elder.

    "So, let me clarify this again, Chief Chirpa. We are surrounded by the Skull Ones, we need messengers to get help and warn other villages and you have chosen your daughter, your nephew and two of their friends...out of all Ewoks?"

    Chirpa sighed. His loudest critic had asked the same question four times already.

    "I am sure, Kazak. If this does not convince you that the future chieftess is sitting right next to me, nothing will. And I know you have nothing against my nephew, Paploo. So, what is the problem?"

    "The warrior circle is turning into a wokling nursery. First it was the youngest of the Warricks, despite his height, and now it’s that clumsy, overgrown apprentice of Logray's. What good can he bring to a mission? He could not capture a titterbug. He is not capable of…of…taking care of a drawing of a chicken, let alone an actual chicken! And he is your chosen Voice of the Young Ones, yet he is not here!"

    "I told him not to come to this meeting. I sent him to find the maps instead. He does not have much time to copy them, therefore..."

    "He would have had enough time had he been paying attention to his obligations. We are not impresed." Kazak seemed to be running out of things to say. "Arandee...why is Paploo going on this mission, when we need him here?"

    "No, we don't!" Chirpa was losing patience at this point. "He almost always goes on missions with Weechee, Widdle and Wicket Warrick, who have departed to the enclave this morning. His three new comrades took part in the latest pilgrimage to the Tree of Light nearly three snows ago, therefore, they know what to expect from him."

    The great leader turned to Rabin, who nodded and got up.

    "Kazak, at this point, we should give the foursome a try and see what happens. Think of this from a point of a view that suits you: you dislike and doubt them, they won't annoy you while they're gone."

    "And perhaps they will never come back." Kazak thought to himself. He observed everybody present. Some members of the Council were already falling asleep. Princess Kneesaa swallowed a lump and turned away when she realised he was looking at her. In contrast to his daughter's timid glance, Chirpa's remained focused and confident. No matter how many times he had tried so in the past, the Head Elder was not able to break him.

    Finally, he banged his hammer. "Wise words, Rabin, as far as I'm concerned. Shall we vote? Who is in favour of Kneesaa, Paploo, Latara and Teebo taking this mission?"

    Everybody raised their hands. A couple of Elders were sporting beaming grins.

    "I'm guessing this is a chak, huh, Kazak?" Chirpa's eyes shifted to the Head Elder.

    "Well...chak."

    "Great. I need to sleep. I want to spend tomorrow bonding with my daughter and you have wasted a lot of my time."




    Footnotes

    Fashkaa appears in chapter 25 of Snowed In and she's an OC.

    Logray invents an elevator in the first season of the Ewoks cartoon, hence Bozzie thinking he could invent...what, a fridge?!

    The Golden One is a deity mentioned in Shadows of Endor. And yeah, we know who's eventually mistaken for that mythical being in Return of the Jedi.

    Gupins and Jindas both appear in the first season of the Ewoks cartoon.