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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
    05 Strongholds to Conquer

    "Good morning, honeydrop!"

    There was no response. Latara leaned over Teebo and tickled him on the chin. He turned around, pulling the blanket over his head. She shrugged and dragged herself underneath the blanket with him.

    “I said ‘good morning, honeydrop’…” She whispered into his ear, running her fingers through his fur. “You know, this is our first morning away from home ever since we got together. Paploo is sleeping in the main chamber and Kneesaa is outside, with Kaalwar.”

    He was shivering. This had happened before, but this time, every single hair on his fur was up. She proceeded to kiss him on the lips and he let out a barely audible “mmmhm”.

    Then, to her surprise, he pushed her away.

    “Cut that out!”

    She almost fell off the hay bedding, but somehow managed to keep her balance.

    “Teebo, what is wrong with you?”

    He pulled the blanket away from her and got up. “What do you think you were doing? I was barely awake.”

    “In case you forgot, we were in a relationship as of yesterday, and for the past couple of moons.”

    “A relationship involves caring about each other.” Teebo did not turn around, as if he were avoiding her gaze. “You…did not do that last night.”

    “What?” She put her hands on her hips and stomped her foot. “I shot the Skull One to make sure he didn’t come alive and attack you over your use of magic.”

    Teebo was now trying to tie the blanket around his waist, like a robe, but he still was not putting his headdress on. "I was hoping that you would come and check on me, after I left mid-conversation with Kaalwar. I was not feeling well. I needed some pain remedy applied to the back of my head and my neck and I couldn’t do it myself. My hands were simply not listening to me.”

    “So, that’s the game he’s playing?” Latara thought to herself and batted her eyelashes, then suddenly slapped herself on the face. Why was she being charming when he was not even looking at her? She coughed and tried to approach things from her own point of view.

    "I did not come to check on you, because we have never been in the same chamber together before, alone, with one or both of our hoods off, around any kind of bedding..."

    "No, we never have been.” He nodded and paused. The tone she spoke in was irritating, or so he thought. "Surely that would be your first idea about it. That we have never been alone together before, and not that I may be in pain. You…you see everything through seeing the stars…and, by that, I don’t mean what I do at the observatory.”

    "Chak, so what? You are my boyfriend, isn’t that normal? I have not said it explicitly since I was drunk at Wicket's coming out of age party, but I drop some hints every now and then. I need to be blunt right now. Do you want to see the stars with me?”

    "Of course. I want to make you happy. But I already said that..."

    "...that you want it to be spontaneous. I know. Your reasons, however...I don't understand. Do you like my fur? Do you think I have a pretty face?”

    "Chak. I don’t think anybody would ever think otherwise. You’re the most b…”

    She cut him short. "Fine! Do you like how it feels when you touch me?"

    “It’s not that simple. This, just like everything else between us, is sacred to me, Latara. I need to know we are both pure and…that I’m free of any thought of the Night Spirit. I cannot lose control of my mind. I already lost it once in the cave of that evil creature, I was close to turning away from the good and becoming a monster."

    "Lose control of your mind? As in, feel happy, overwhelmed? Come on. You probably do the same thing I do when falling asleep. You know, thinking of me."

    "Chak." The green eyes almost glowed with light for a second. "I do! I picture my Soul Tree in my mind and ask it to give us guidance of the Light Spirit and keep us safe from beasts, forest fires and other dangers throughout the night."

    Latara was close to hitting her head against the cave walls. "That's right, Teebo...I do that, too. Now, please excuse me while I throw myself off the waterfall, or something.”

    “Don’t hurt yourself.”

    “It’s not like you will see me hurt myself, anyway…you won’t even look at me this morning!”

    “T’hesh! For the Soul Trees’ sake, shut up, both of you!” Teebo and Latara both turned around to see Kneesaa standing in the archway. “Kaalwar and I, we are trying to make sure we survive our quest here.”

    Her two friends were staring at her with their mouths open. She gasped in return. In reality, nobody was shocked more than her. Did she just yell at them? As a matter of a fact, had the princess of the Bright Tree Village ever yelled at anybody before? She was suddenly scared of herself. But if this was what it took to put some sense into her friends, then she would not allow them to see it.

    With an angry “k’vark” she marched through the larger chamber and went outside, where Kaalwar was waiting for her on the cliff.

    “I just realised something. You are the leader of this group, right?” he asked.

    “Chak. How did you guess?”

    “The one who hates me was just not made to lead anybody, the other two are hot-blooded and they remind me of Patrash, the one that dragged me into dedicating all my life to blood revenge. So it had to be you. You are not assertive enough, but you seem to know what you’re doing.”

    “You are wrong.” She shook her head and put another piece of wood in the pit. “None of us know what we’re doing. At this point, I…I almost wonder if the spirits sent us to our demise, by tricking my father into thinking that sending us on an expedition would be a good idea.”

    Kaalwar cocked his head. He didn’t quite understand what Kneesaa was trying to tell him. But he was still willing to help her and her friends on their quest.



    A little later, the group was riding makants through the tall, sun-burnt vegetation of the Grasslands, heading to the southern edge of the desert. The sun season must have been warmer than the one when the forest almost burned down. The tall stalks bore nothing remotely similar to flowers and fruit and there was no scent whatsoever.

    The Ewoks were all silent, as if they were suddenly a group of complete strangers and not best friends. The last time they were here, they couldn’t get a peep out of the friendly insectoids. This time, it was like the makants were having their own discussion over them – chirping, making those sounds similar to tongue clicks, nodding and shaking their heads.

    Every now and then, Kneesaa would count something on her six fingers, trying to remember every single thing Kaalwar told her. Not decisive enough. Comparisons with her sister would have been inevitable back home in Bright Tree Village. Even Bozzie. Even Paploo. How was she to run the village someday? Not that the thought of someday losing her father did not seem frightening to begin with.

    Soon, the tall grass gave place to nothing but pale, lifeless soil.

    “So, I am the only one who’s never been here and the three of you did not tell me what to look for, yet I happen to be riding ahead of you.” Latara broke the silence. “Like, goopa, we’ve just arrived to the desert. What next?”

    Paploo shook his head. Could they have been so strange after their experience with a Skull One and a Dulok saving them that they failed to remember that Latara was not part of the group when they visited the Gupins back in the days?

    “Oh, k’vark…you are right.” The second part of the sentence always felt like a special kind of a defeat when communicated to Latara, but he managed not to sound rude this time. Was that a victory? “From the empty mouth of this former stream, the Grass Trekkers’ shrine should be to the left and the Gupin Stronghold to the right.”

    Latara pointed to what seemed to be a pile of purple-grey rocks in the distance.

    “Some shrine it is…did they build it with their eyes closed?”

    “Eecha! It did not look like that the last time around.” Paploo grabbed his head with both hands. “It was a very rough pile of rocks, but it did look like an actual shrine!”

    “I have a bad feeling about this.” Kneesaa finally spoke. “And the makants have been chirping loudly all along, but now they almost sound like Skandits!”

    “What are they saying, Teebo? Teebo!” Paploo reeled his animal companion towards his friend, the only way he could get his attention.

    “T-they’re saying that magic Grass Trekkers killed the normal ones and that we should run towards…what…I have never heard this word before.”

    Before Latara, Paploo and Kneesaa could say anything, Teebo had already directed the makants in the other direction. Seconds later, one of them started chirping loudly again and then, all four stopped before three carcasses.

    “K’vark!” Paploo put his hands over his face, to block the odour, but still approached the dead beings. “I admit I wanted them dead that time they chased me around this desert, but…this is not a pleasant sight.”

    “They don’t look like something that should ever have lived…” Noticing something below the body of one of the dead Trekkers, Latara attempted to push its beak out of the way. “No accounting for taste, as I always say…”

    “Latara! Everything and everybody has the right to live.”

    “T’hesh! Whatever the third carcass is, it does not look like it ever lived.”

    Kneesaa was about to object to her friend ignoring yet another lesson on morals, but then she noticed that both Teebo and Paploo seemed intrigued by what Latara just found. Unlike the violet-grey Trekkers, this was silver-grey, unusually shiny and slightly reflecting the light.

    “Can you do anything about this?” Kneesaa asked Teebo.

    He shrugged and started chanting, his arms extending to the closest Trekker leg on the pile. Slowly, the remains of one of the Trekkers started levitating.

    “You are going to stop that!” An orange-haired gnome spoke from behind him. “Right now! They could see you and come back and then we’d all be dead!”

    “C-chak?!” Teebo was still not sure what happened.

    “Come here, now.” The group recognised the voice of their Gupin friend, Mring-Mring. “Follow me.”

    “What is going on?” Once again, the whole group asked this in unison.

    “I will explain everything later!” Ubel cut Paploo short. “We have to hide. Now!”

    Before they knew, a bunch of tiny five-fingered hands pulled them towards a hole in the ground. Mring-Mring and Ubel were leading them to what appeared to be catacombs under the desert.




    Footnotes

    Grass Trekkers
    Gupins
    Mring-Mring
    Ubel (as spelled on the animation cel) or Oobel
    All of the above appear in Land of the Gupins
     
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wonderful job with the unresolved quarrel between Teebo and Latara (OTP challenge, woot!), which is perfectly in character for both of them. They are just so talking past each other in so many different ways—and yet there's a current of real tenderness coming through somehow. In so much modern media a character like Teebo would be made out to be a one-dimensional prude who needs to be taught to "loosen up" by a sexy babe—but here he's just the opposite of one-dimensional. He is completely and totally sincere about everything he says, and he means it all in utter seriousness—from his fear of falling to the Nihght Spirit (which is no idle fear, given the events of Snowed In) and about praying nightly for the health and safety of his beloved. Because—and this is not sarcastic at all—that totally makes sense for how a mystical, head-in-the-clouds boy shaman would show affection.

    And it also totally makes sense that someone like Latara would not be convinced immediately, and that it would cause her to be a sourpuss to the others afterward. But it doesn't stop her from being a useful member of the party: her observation about that one odd-looking grayish carcass is spot on, particularly in light of what Teebo learns from the makants about "magic Grass Trekkers." [face_thinking] So she and Teebo are still working together, in a manner of speaking, even if they did kind of sort of quarrel. Again, just the opposite of one-dimensional.

    As I did during the beta-read, I also want to make mention of Kneesaa's brief dialogue with Kaalwar. It says a lot about both Kneesaa and the situation that (a) she doesn't realize she's the group's leader till Kaalwar points it out, and that (b) she—whom we so often regard as the paragon of authoritative confidence—admits to feeling helpless. But she's not one-dimensional either (sense a pattern here?). Confidence and humility don't have to be mutually exclusive, and Kneesaa combines the best of both those qualities. Kudos to Kaalwar, too, for being so perceptive and picking up on Kneesaa's feelings about the whole thing even before her friends do.

    This chapter really has it all, because not only is it a fantastic example of how adeptly you handle the Latara/Teebo romance, it also showcases your talent for building up suspense just the right amount, chapter by chapter by chapter—you did so in Snowed In and you're taking it to new dimensions in this opus. First magical Grass Trekkers that wiped out the regular ones, then strange carcasses that look as though they've never really been alive, and now the Gupins are springing into action to protect the quartet of Ewoks from... what? Cliffielicious! :eek: This is all building up to something darker and more arcane than even the darkest, most arcane moments of Snowed In—which gladdens me no end, because I know no one can do dark and arcane like you can. :cool:
     
  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Well, it looks like Teebo and Latara are not quite on the same page yet, huh! A great entry for the OTP challenge. They still need to get their priorities aligned if they are to be successful as a couple.

    I wonder what they have stumbled upon. This thing that looks like it should never have lived is strange and disconcerting.
    Whatever killed these creatures is apparently still out there and watching.
     
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  4. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    So after R/R your prologue I am definitely gonna have to finish the rest of the story, but thought I'd post part of my review here for others to see before I plunge into the next chapter.

    I really liked the tense opening, it drew me right into the story without falling too much into the trap of "action because action good". The smell of Mechett's damp fur in the first part (smells are swell!) was a really effective way of pulling me in. I loved the Yuzzum as an antagonist (I was like YAY YUZZUM - Splinter of the Minds Eye was probably the first EU story I ever read!). He was cool and mysterious and very threatening and I can tell that Watership Down was an inspiration for this story, you have captured the dark murky tone with a hint of the unexplained mythology.

    I can't help but feel if Mechett had been a little bit smarter he would not have been branded as a traitor. If you don't trust someone you never come out and say it, especially if that person happens to hold a position of authority and you have no power. I wanted to yell at Mechett for being so silly and basically giving the council and excuse to chuck him out! I also liked the differences between the tribes of Ewoks. All too often in SW we see planets that seem to have no cultural variety. Once you have seen one part of a planet you have seen it all. It's nice to see a fic where some cultural diversity is acknowledged, and you rightly show the suspicion the ground-dwellers have for the tree-dwellers, as any primitive society views difference with hostility.

    Overall I thought this was a great start to the story, gripping with just the right amount of action and mystery to keep me reading on. Great characterisation on Mechett, you immediately feel drawn to him and feel his pain as his best friend dies (I'd echo the comments that less gore is more that someone else made in the thread). I really felt angry at the council for being such a bunch of sods and that is great. Hopefully I will get a chance to read some more, I am interested to see where this story goes. Great job!
     
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  5. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Chapter 5

    Teebo and Latara have changed a lot since the beginning of the series, but like Paploo and Wicket they seem to be struggling with the habits of the past -- in this case bickering and not fully trusting one another. But, of course, trust has to be earned. In Teebo's case this is more obvious, and his boundaries need to be respected. But one can see it with Latara too. She's trying to secure and understand their new relationship, I think. Unfortunately, she's getting stubborn/angry/hurt at finding it's the wrong way for the person, time, and situation -- which is not helping. :oops: They have boundary issues and uncertainty to address, and that will take a while since they both have different instincts and expectations for what their relationship should be like. (Teebo and the Soul Tree! :p ) As an entry for OTP challenge, I thought all of that worked very well.

    As much as they both remain sympathetic, I can well understand Kneesa getting fed up with them. Probably scared them out of a few year's growth though. [face_laugh]

    Glad to see more of Kaalwar, it's interesting that he realizes Kneesa is the leader when she seems to be still working her way towards that fact herself.

    Yet another Endor road trip seems to be heading into rocky territory with all these troubles in the group... and that's before the creepy really starts. :eek: Between the strangely altered shrine, killer grass trekkers, and mystery corpse that looks like it never lived, something is horribly wrong. They're fortunate to have run into Mring-Mring and Ubel the Gupins before the monster mash could catch up to them. (Or are they? I haven't seen those characters in the cartoons, so I'm not sure where they rank on the "likely to be involved in messed-up poodoo" scale... but I'm assuming they're benign for now. :p ) Seems to be Grand Central Station for murderous beasties around there. [face_worried]

    Great chapter, hope to see more of this since I know there's quite an epic in store. :)
     
  6. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Went into the Prologue cold, not taking advantage of the various links and spoiler data.

    Very much enjoyed the partnership of Mechett and Rango, though it seemed to have nothing to do with the "expedition of four adolescent Ewoks" advised in the intro.

    Well described initial adventure, the Ewoks spying the Sistermoon, the odd tree with weapons sticking in it, navigating the forest, and the encounter with the mysterious creature, though I could not think of any creature, droid, or whatever that could levitate its own hand back, and that was the only bit I couldn't cope with.

    Good detail with the attack on Rango and Mechett's attempt to heal.

    Holy crap though, the stuff back in the village, which I assume is on ground level? I had assumed this was the same Ewok Village from ROTJ, but for one of the Elders going, "You climbed a tree?"

    I'm frowning at the text, thinking, well, your village is in a tree, and he made it to you!

    The stuff back at the village, that was DARK!

    I don't know what Rango thought his friend would be able to do against the Elders, but he was badly outmatched. The punishment he expected to happen at the top of the mountain, holy crap, that was more Ancient Egypt than anything else.

    Good interactions with the wife back in the village, then when the female Ewok got ejected from the Council Chamber, I finally realised I wasn't in the normal Ewok Village. I have only had superficial contact with the cartoon and comics Ewoks, so the Bright Tree location isn't one that I naturally associate with Chief Chirpa's territory.

    Good writing, disturbing result.
     
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  7. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Thank you - all of you - for having stuck up with the easily distracted author who, err, spent six months writing a chapter. The said chapter is coming up once my super-patient beta is done with it, and I am doing my best to come back to the weekly-ish updates I had promised oh so confidently a year ago.

    That said, I also have the next three chapters more or less done. :)




    Definitely - had Teebo not been stressed about what happened to him earlier and hadn't he reacted the way he did to his own physical enjoyment, the two of them would have gotten far more romantic. They're more than compatible, despite any such quarrel.

    I am still amazed about his portrayal in the first season of the Ewoks cartoon for that exact reason - that was the time where the nerds getting together with sexy babes was clearly at its worst, producing some truly cringe-worthy films, making it look like those women were obliged to submit or something. I am absolutely against that, unless it's a parody. And Teebo, in that cartoon, is obviously the closest Ewoks have to a "nerd", yet he is not that socially awkward and clearly not an equivalent of a complete loser. And yes, he means every single word of what he said.

    Despite her, err, sexual frustration, she can still solve problems. Another trope completely broken here, as the sexy babes get horribly offended when they're rejected and they don't speak to anybody all day.

    Kneesaa's insecurity is coming and going in this story and Kaalwar is just one of multiple characters who will help her figure things out. But there will be the point where she will have to trust herself instead.

    I would call this a somewhat fake cliffie - the chapter was getting long and I had to cut it right there. But yes, suspense goes step by step, ooooh, baby!

    That's because I never overdo it. I set a limit and I know that, if I go beyond that, I have gore for the sake of gore and that's not how I roll. Thanks. :)

    I am not saying how many pages they are away from meeting somewhere in the middle...[face_whistling]

    Not necessarily - perhaps [hl=black]it got what it needed and went further[/hl]. Of course, neither Gupins nor Ewoks are expected to know this. ;)
    First of all, I am so sorry that I owe you replies to both this version and the concrit version of the comment. I am really happy to see you here and I hope you'll stay with us because we're about to continue after the commercials. :D

    Action because action good is something that could lead to a story effectively parodying itself (which can be funny to everybody...but not the author :p), so phew, if I ever fall into that trap, feel free to slap me upside my face with the smelliest fish in the sea! XD

    I believe those in Splinter of the Mind's Eye are actually Yuzzems, with an "E". These things are not humanoid. I'm not even sure what they are, but the special edition of Return of the Jedi has one of them singing at Jabba's Place. They look like giant furballs with long, long limbs.

    He's not smart at all, I agree. A village that has him as a healer has got to be an odd one.

    That was my exact intention. As for planets with no variety...I guess I never understood it, so I'm glad I am not the only one!

    Get a chance, you will. :yoda:
    The "old habits die hard" thing noticed by Kahara...somebody tell me something I don't know. ;)

    Kekekekekeke, glad you found the Soul Tree moment funny. Totally what Latara was hoping to hear. :p

    And yes, Latara is making an effort, despite her lack of patience. It's not that she cannot figure out those boundaries - it's that she is not particularly tactful. But they're working on it...

    I may or may not be playing with "the only sane man" trope here. :D

    (Refer to what I said to Finds...)

    Endor is full of ship wrecks due to its proximity to Monsua Nebula, the Endor Gate and a bunch of other stellar abnormalities, so...nobody exactly knows where the Gupins came from. They're basically these little humanoid gnomes with wings who have transformation powers. And they're the good guys. The Trekkers, however...

    Here are Mring-Mring and Ubel:

    [​IMG]

    Wondering who told you that. [face_whistling]
     
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  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Aaaand I kept a version of the last page from, like, Precambrium, so I totally forgot there was one more reply. And then I wonder how I run out of brains...I mean RAM...I mean...whatev'. I'm sorry.

    That's what not reading spoilers is for - excitement.

    That's the other side of not reading spoilers.

    Levitation is almost certainly a Force Power and the creature is a Force user. This is not the case of a Stormtrooper Selonian.

    Thank you. That is the tone the most of the story will have, though not everything will be as gory.

    And yes, this is a ground-level village, those exist.

    I was inspired by "sky burials" in some mountainous areas of Asia, but that was only the starting point.

    Rango had more trust in Mechett than he should have. Now, had they told their biggest secrets to each other...

    Yup, at the Bright Tree Village, there may be what we call sexism, especially on the behalf of the Elders who are against Chirpa, but this is a completely different place, where female Ewoks just don't count.

    And thank you so much. Hope you'll stick around. :)
     
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  9. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    06 The Catacombs

    TAGS: @glitteryboots @Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and pointing out what should go to footnotes.




    “Mring-Mring? Ubel?” Paploo was now being held by both of the Gupin royal brothers, one of them clinging to each of his hands. The little juniper gnomes looked as if they were about to strangle him. He looked to Kneesaa, Latara and Teebo, expecting them to jump to his defense, but just then Mring Mring and Ubel burst out laughing. Ubel patted him on the shoulder. He was confused. His friends just shrugged in unison. He looked at the Gupins again and they were still laughing, now prompting everybody other than him to laugh, too.

    “I thought we were about to get killed by…whatever?!”

    “You were.” Ubel nodded and clapped his hands. “With everything that has happened here in the past couple of days, I guess it’s a good thing that we can still pull a practical joke on an old friend.” He paused. “Sorry…this is crazy. Everything is crazy. I’m trying to live every day in some sort of perpetual wonder, just because I’m alive. But it doesn’t work. Each conversation I start in a cheerful manner, but then I get incredibly grumpy.” A huge sigh came out of his small chest. “What are you looking at? Follow my brother to our current hideout, I need to help the others mask the entrance, perhaps we could pull one of the silver beasts over the hole.”

    Paploo shook his head. This would have been one of those times he was sure would have shortened his life for at least quarter of a moon, one of those situations he would have blamed on his deathbed, many, many snows later. On top of that, this wasn’t the Ubel he knew. This was not the soft-spoken older brother of the former outcast, now king. This grey-haired gnome spoke with an air of impatience, bordering on the most basic of angers. Just what could have happened here?

    Mring-Mring led his friends down the catacombs. Unlike Ubel, he was the way the Ewoks remembered him – somewhat childlike in his appearance and mannerisms, but with the confidence of a true king.

    "I can't even begin to explain how wonderful it feels to see all of you again after two snows. I wish we were meeting in some better times. The long white ones are patrolling every day and some of us have not seen the light since they arrived." He sighed. "And everything started weeks after that odd star was high in the sky."

    Teebo was suddenly breathing faster and shaking. Latara hugged him tightly. Mring-Mring stopped and turned around.

    "Did I say something? Also…who are you? I’ve been trying to figure it out; I’m starting to doubt my memory. I know Latara from Wicket, Kneesaa and Paploo's stories, and the last time around there was also...wait. No. It cannot be. You are Teebo. What happened to you?"

    "The odd star was not kind to my fur and my face." Teebo managed to say in between two bouts of reliving in his head what could have been his own demise for Tana knew which time. “As for having grown as tall as a Dulok warrior apprentice…that, I’m afraid I have no answer to.”

    "I am sorry. I did not know." Mring-Mring’s smile melted into a long face. “Do you still…do the things you do, or did the odd star take your nature powers away?”

    “It did not. I can still talk to animals and…I stopped a spark of red death yesterday. It was coming from a firestick!” Teebo extended his hand to demonstrate the situation from the day before. “But you can do that too, right? A Gupin has nature powers and…”

    “No. We can change into whatever we want, but we cannot do anything else.” Mring-Mring cocked his head. “I thought you knew this.”

    Teebo was puzzled. He never thought of the limitations of Gupins’ powers before.

    “Another thing we cannot do is heal a sick creature. And we have a couple of Trekkers that we managed to save from the silver monsters.” The Gupin king pointed to the ceiling and shook his head. “I was there when you talked to a bird, I was there when you summoned a group of makants. Could you help us?”

    Paploo interrupted Teebo as he was trying to say something.

    “Why would anybody want to save the Trekkers?”

    His friend responded in an unusually aggressive manner. “K’vark, and why not? They’re creatures of the Light Spirit just like you and me. Just like Mring-Mring and his friends. They may have brought havoc to the Gupins, but whatever created the silver monsters that look like them is what truly serves the Night Spirit. The Trekkers are as defenceless as we are.” Teebo sighed and lowered his tone, looking to the Gupin king. "I cannot promise anything, but I will try."

    With those words, Teebo followed Mring-Mring, while the others continued farther through the corridor. Passing by what looked like a communal washchamber, Kneesaa let out a barely audible sigh.



    The new Gupin settlement was nothing like the large flower-garden-inside-of-fortress that they used to inhabit. It was so deep below that no single tree root was in sight. Everything looked bleaker than bleak. There was nothing but soil, rocks and an occasional worm.

    “No wonder Ubel can no longer smile.” Kneesaa scratched the wall next to her, the dark soil leaving traces on her white fur. A worm crawled out and she recognised it as a ra-lugg. “This place is slow death. I would not want to be here.”

    “The only other option is fast death above.” The female Gupin in charge of finding space for the four Ewoks in the improvised dormitory did not seem to be the kind to comfort her guests. She showed the Princess the way to an improvised wash lake.

    “Whatever is going on, we must have been cursed. We have done something wrong, all of Endor has. No other explanation.” Paploo kicked a pebble and looked at Latara. “Thankfully, your lurdo boyfriend is with the Trekkers, so he won’t get a chance to tell me that I’m wrong about this. Now, if he preaches to me one more time…”

    “Then you will shut up. Neither of you is making this easier for us.”

    Latara didn’t seem to be in the mood for her usual, brutal jokes. Her anger from earlier that day was a thing of the past. Just what was Teebo doing with those sharp-toothed monsters?

    No answer. Paploo shrugged. This lurdo was getting stranger and stranger every day and this morning he clearly looked like he was in pain, cooling his knee in waterfall. Or at least it looked like his knee…

    “May I be eaten alive by the Night Spirit.” He thought to himself. “Latara is being Latara, but Teebo…is actually in for…oh, by the Great Tree! He could end up swinging the hammock with her long before I actually find a…willing girl. Chak. Now, what do I do?” He looked towards the corridor separating the Gupin space to the area where Mring-Mring and Teebo left to.

    “I must stop him!” He said out loud.

    “Sounds like you’re reading my mind.” Latara, still sitting there, rolled her eyes. “The moment I see you looking determined, that’s my first thought – that you must be stopped, regardless of what you’re intending to do.”

    Paploo muttered a couple of k'varks under his breath and went to talk to a group of Gupin warriors.



    Teebo was close to giving up as much as he was close to an actual solution. The language the Grass Trekkers spoke sounded like a chaotic mixture of nonsensical vocalisations. Every now and then, he thought he heard a makant-like chirp, but it could have been the impressions from earlier that day echoing in his ears.

    He was at in the middle of the circle of four injured adult Trekkers and one cub, which was unimaginable to Mring-Mring. How could this animal whisperer be so close to those fang-adorned beaks that could so easily maul you if you made one wrong move? Another thing he could not grasp was why he appeared to be talking to the cub and not the adults.

    "We are going to try this again." Teebo gently waved his largest finger in front of the cub to get its attention. One of the adults, seemingly in better condition than the other three, gurgled and moved its beak towards him, but backed off almost immediately.

    “Eeeee…” the Trekker cub moved to the left, reaching out to Teebo's hand. He rubbed its beak. The adult gurgled again, but Teebo extended the other hand to her beak as well.

    “T’hesh!” he whispered and moved his fingers up towards the top of the cub’s skull.

    After another “eee”, the adult began to chatter, in a series of less intelligible gurgles. Teebo closed his eyes. He was not yet fluent in the language of magic that his Master had been teaching him for a couple of snows now, but he was doing his best.

    "Anything?” Mring-Mring cocked his head. He was certain that he had sung the whole Renewal Ceremony song to himself and Teebo’s hands were still on the Trekker cub’s skull. “Teebo?”

    The Ewok finally opened his eyes and turned around. He looked exhausted and his black pupils were visibly dilated, almost covering the green.

    “K’vark…”

    “Is everything all right?” Mring-Mring waved his furless hand towards Teebo. He didn’t even notice that he took a step back when he saw his friend’s eyes.

    “She says that the shiny silver Trekkers did not attempt to engage with her and the others in any way. They came out of nowhere and started…spewing red fire at the group. They destroyed the temple, too.” Teebo stopped to take a breath. “The ruling Trekkers were cornered by the silver ones and brought down with an incredible amount of red fire. She is confused that the red fire does not actually burn.”

    “And what do her parents say?”

    “Now, that’s a different story – it seems that Trekkers stop being like you and me as they become adults. I am not sure if I understand how that happens, but she does understand her parents’ roars and squeaks. She told me where it hurts them.”

    “And then we are going to treat them and they will then wreak havoc through our hideout?”

    “No. She assures you that this is not going to happen. I am going to give your healers the list of herbs you can get in the grasslands on your next patrol. But we cannot stay. She told me where the Silver Ones and the Skull Ones have gone and we must follow them.” Teebo sighed again. “I will talk to Kneesaa and then I need to lie down. I have breathed as much will to live as I could into the adult Trekkers and now I am exhausted.” He got up and took a couple of steps, solely to end up leaning on the stone wall. “See?”

    “There’s one more thing, Teebo.” Mring-Mring blocked his friend’s way out of the sick place.

    Teebo’s eyes were slowly coming back to normal. “What thing? Our bedding here? I don’t care even if the other three sleep on top of me. I need to lie down!”

    “No.” Mring-Mring put his hands on his hips. “It’s you. What you do. I have nature powers. How come I cannot hear you among the colours of magic when you’re doing these things?”

    There was no response.

    "Did Master Logray teach you something?" The Gupin’s bony index finger was now in the Ewok’s fur, touching his chest bone. “Are you courting the Night Spirit?”

    Teebo shook his hand and sat down. "Chak.”

    It took him a good handful of sighs to look at Mring-Mring’s face again.

    “My Master does not know this. He…he says that horrible things may happen to a young wizard who abuses it. I am doing something that he does not allow me to do. And not just one thing. This is not the Light Spirit way of healing, either, but that is how he saved me this snow season. The wizard of the Night Spirit that I had encountered would have killed me otherwise. Another terrible thing that can happen to a young wizard…”

    “But you Ewoks had the Sunstar Shadowstone!” The Gupin king was almost afraid of his friend at this point. “He probably used it together with whatever shameful power sav…”

    Teebo interrupted him. “We no longer have it. There was something about the Skull Ones’ arrival that drained it. The Sunstar was weak and then…it shattered to small pieces when we killed the Griagh. A…crater remained behind.”

    Mring-Mring’s mouth was wide open. He stopped threatening Teebo and stepped back. The Ewok picked him up and hugged him, much like he did Wicket some days earlier.

    “Whatever has come upon us, it is clearly the Night Spirit. And the Night Spirit can be fought only with the Night Spirit sometimes,” he concluded, then waved to the Trekker cub and got out. “And I have already traded something in order to live. Just look at me.”



    The group was to sleep behind an improvised leather screen. Four feather pillows were waiting on a haystack, but there were only three blankets. Kneesaa was already sleeping soundly.

    "The two of you can have one...chakbirds." Paploo stuck his tongue out to Teebo. To his surprise, the grey and black striped Ewok just nodded and dragged himself underneath the biggest blanket. A surprised Latara followed.

    “Sweet dreams, Latara.” Paploo teased. “And I literally mean sweet, because it will be easier for you to bake honey melon pie than…”

    "Eat worms and die, Paploo!” Latara tossed a pillow the young warrior’s way. “Next time I am filling this with pebbles. I am warning you for one last time!”

    Teebo turned around angrily. “I want to sleep. Am I talking like an Ewok or like a Trekker?”

    "Quiet, you over there!" A lantern illuminated the room and, through the screen, the four young Ewoks could see an old Gupin shaking his fist from a distant corner of the dormitory. "Quiet, or I will find you and you will be sleeping with the Trekker offspring!"




    Footnotes
    For those who don't have twenty-something minutes to watch The Land of the Gupins on YouTube or see more on Wook, I tried to simplify things as much as I could.

    Gupins appear in two episodes of the Ewoks cartoon and they're small humanoid shape-shifters who ended up on Endor after one of the numerous starship crashes. They live in the desert, which was referred to both as Symoom and Salma in various sources, close to the narrow strip of Endorian Grasslands, to the North of the Bright Tree Village. Their domicile is the Gupin Stronghold, a lush green oasis on top of a small hill.


    Mring-Mring becomes the Gupin king in The Land of the Gupins, and he makes his older and more no-nonsense brother Ubel the second in command.


    The Juniper Chest is what the Gupins depend on in order to have their shapeshifting ability and to fly properly. Once a year, presumably, they hold an event named Renewal Ceremony, which requires opening the chest with a key and then the light radiates from it, strenghtening Gupins' powers that otherwise weaken as the time passes by.

    Grass Trekkers are a semi-sentient gigantic species living in the Grass Trekker Shrine, a primitive structure made of large rocks/stones. The bit with them losing sentience as they grow old is fanon.

    The two random Gupins are OCs.

    Ra-lugg is essentially a bug, feared by tiny, sentient Fleebogs. In my mind, these live everywhere on Endor.

    Swinging the hammock - a metaphor for getting it on. Most Ewoks sleep in hammocks. Fanon.

    Teebo's animal friendship powers are Legends canon. The rest isn't.

    The Night Spirit (aka darkside) power was previously used in Chapter 21 of Snowed In, where Logray revives Teebo, who was mortally wounded by the story villain's Force powers. Here, Teebo does not directly use a gem, like Logray did with the Sunstar Shadowstone.

    Logray and Teebo use the word "wizard" in the Ewoks cartoon - not medicine man, not shaman. However, Umwak of the Duloks is referred to as the "Dulok shaman".

    The Sunstar Shadowstone's demise Teebo tells of happens in Zack Gialongo's graphic novel, Shadows of Endor.

    I never saw the Ewoks' "magic" as exclusively light side only stuff, so yeah. None of this should come across as shocking.

    Paploo's "it will be easier for you to bake honey melon pie than..." comment to Latara is not an innuendo of any kind. I assume that baking a honey melon pie is a hard task in general, let alone in one's sleep. So, basically, Paploo thinks that baking one such pie, with no honey melons in sight, in the improvised bed, underground, is easier than having Teebo consummate his relationship with Latara.

    A chakbird is something I just came up with, since there are chak cards and chak juice centered around the Ewoks' Festival of Love. Conviniently enough, chak means yes. This would be a phrase similar to "lovebirds" in an Earthly context.
     
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  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow, this Trekker business is more serious than previously imagined—not that I ever thought it was unserious. Not only are the Trekkers being killed off by the mysterious, nonliving gray Trekker-like things (three guesses!), but whatever it is (or something related) seems also to be affecting the mood of the previously good-natured Ubel. I wonder, too, if it’s having some effect on the two unnamed Gupins we meet in this chapter: the woman who shows the Ewoks to their quarters and the old man who grumbles at them at the end, both of whom seem a bit preoccupied in a less-than-Gupinly manner. Yet Mring-Mring doesn’t seem to be affected—he’s his usual cheerful self. I wonder what, if anything, their different reactions to this may mean. (At least Ubel is aware of his own mood change, which is something.)

    But it is wonderful to see the Gupins again; I always was partial to them. :) And although Mring-Mring is very modest about the extent of his people’s magic, it always seemed to me that Gupin magic is very powerful in its way, and could count for a lot when the time is right. (It sure did for the Ewoks in that one TV episode!)

    Now to the Ewoks. The social dynamics between them are already very fraught, especially with Paploo’s very obvious jealousy (though it somehow doesn’t seem like the right word?) of the burgeoning romance between Latara and Teebo. Paploo’s really kind of a buffoon about it, which I know is intentional and in-character and adds a bit of humor in an otherwise very dark and serious situation. But here too I can’t help but wonder whether the same things affecting the Gupins’ moods might be working on them as well. (And don’t get me wrong: gray Trekkers or no gray Trekkers, Latara has every right to be as annoyed with him as she is about the tacky things he says about her and Teebo.)

    Thank the Light Spirit for Teebo and his nature powers, though. Without him there really would be no way to help the Trekkers. Like Mring-Mring, I am a bit worried about his skirting the Night Spirit in the process of healing them; I realize he’s doing it out of the absolute noblest of motives (because he is Teebo and has the noblest heart of any of his fellow Ewok youths), but it’s likely to have… implications. And while it is indeed the same kind of thing Logray did in order to heal Teebo from the events of Snowed In (and it certainly won’t be without some effect on him, Logray, too), there seems to be a world of difference between an experienced shaman and a student shaman taking that approach. (The fact that he’s tired out after his session with the Trekkers seems significant, too—is it his own body’s way of warning him he’s undertaking more than he can handle? Will he listen to it? [face_thinking] )

    By the way, your fanon about the Trekkers losing sentience as they become adults is super fascinating—that’s the kind of cool worldbuilding that makes the aliens truly alien! Kind of reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s character Benjamin Button and the way he ages in reverse, from elderly to infant. :cool:

    As always, waiting eagerly for more—the plot is really thickening up in some really cool ways! :D

    P. S. Looking forward to the endnotes whenever they're ready. ;)
     
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  11. glitteryboots

    glitteryboots Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2015
    Chapter 2: I think I said this when I read this chapter way back when, but you've definitely perfected Ewoks' viewpoints. I remember asking "are you an Ewok?" and it still reads like that now. ;) I love that Latara will be the firearms specialist, too.

    Chapter 3: This "secret" is definitely intriguing, especially coming from someone like Bozzie. I wonder if it's related to the "same stupid mistake" she referred to in the last chapter... and what that could be?!

    The way they refer to the Stormtroopers - the contrast between the culture and what's invading it - makes me sad. :( It'll be great to see the Gupins again, though it doesn't sound like good news that Logray hasn't heard from Gordo in a long time. Also, this Gondula tribe has to be the one from the prologue.

    Chapter 4: Ha, Paploo being shut down by Teebo! Though as arrogant and annoying as he's being, the others aren't dealing with it well either - poor Kneesaa.

    Again, their understanding of the "Skull Ones" as they're so unwelcome is somehow sad - how Latara thinks the voice is evil spirits. Perfect for their setting, though.

    I had a feeling that Teebo's insecurities and flashbacks could return and this is the worst timing. :( The reader really feels his anxiety when he thinks they're laughing at him and that Latara doesn't care. This is heartbreaking: "how silly of him was it to forget that he no longer hard a forelock of fair fur? Or that he no longer had anything that made him young, non-threatening and not boar-wolf-like?"

    "Dealing with those, especially prince Boogutt, was worse than taking a bath.” [face_laugh]

    I'm not 100% sure I trust Kaalwar - especially with him almost saying he prays to the Night Spirit. Maybe that's just because he's a Dulok, though. I'm also very curious to find out what exactly he knows and how.

    Chapter 5: These differences between Teebo and Latara are becoming a lot more serious and I hope they can work it out as their circumstances improve. It's ironic that they all had a lot more success with their quests when they were younger - that now they're acting even more like children.

    I love the description of the Grasslands and approach to the desert and how the surroundings (things being so different, much harsher) reflect the circumstances. Things are getting more and more worrying and intriguing - Grass Trekkers dead, the Gupins now living in catacombs... and a corpse that looks like it should never have lived?! :eek:

    Chapter 6: I'm glad to see Latara hug Teebo here - and know he needs it - despite everything. I'm sure their bond can cope with their differences. :) Also, as I expected things definitely aren't good with the Gupin reunion. The lack of vegetation in their residence, on Endor of all places, is especially sad and telling.

    Oh, wow, I expected Paploo to be concerned about Teebo but it's just about sex! Typical attitude for him at the moment, though I have a bad feeling this will lead to trouble. I'm worried as Mring-Mring is that any connection to the Night Spirit could be bad for Teebo, too. For once I'm glad to see a grumpy old character like the Gupin at the end - they need someone to tell them off! [face_laugh]
     
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  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Thank you both for your wonderful comments. <3




    Gupins are worried for their lives. Mring-Mring was used to being hopeless before he returned to the Gupin stronghold, so he is probably capable of things the others have not even dreamed of (remember that one time when the Dandelion Warriors used him for target practice?)

    Two episodes. ;)

    And I like them, too. I could've included another species, I thought of the Jindas at some point, but Gupins were my favourite, next to the gay flamingos Strutters.

    Paploo may not be jealous of the romantic aspect of the relationship, just the hypothetical carnal one. He sees it as an achievement and that is - ironically - a good opportunity for Latara to see how ridiculous she was at the very beginning of Snowed In. :p

    He is exhausted because, unlike Logray in Snowed In, he did not have a powerful gem to use to channel more energy. You're right about that. As for how he's toying with the dark stuff for noble causes - we will see. But the combo of constant flashbacks and this is not a good idea at all. He clearly is tempting fate.

    Benjamin Button was one of the things I had on my mind when I came up with that, yes. :) But I should probably come up with more fanon on minor species (provided that Amy Pronovost aka ArtyEwok has not done so in her excellent article, Castaways of Endor) and do a proper write-up.

    More coming right up...err...right after you've gone through it. It's only going to thicken up further!


    Ouch! Forgot them again. O_O

    I think you had said both of those things, even! Or maybe I dreamed that. O_O

    Yes, those two things are related.

    Of course it's that tribe. ;)

    And nope, definitely not good news!

    She will blow up. The others are ridiculous, each one in their own way.

    They had never seen anything like that before - they're absolutely and totally clueless. :(

    That may or may not be one of the reasons for his unwillingness to be intimate with Latara - his current looks.

    As for everything else - replied above.

    #honestyistheonlypolicy #justiceforkaalwar

    I don't think he lied. But he couldn't have described much more - Duloks are even more primitive than the Ewoks.

    ;)

    Fear of something they don't know...

    There can't be much vegetation underground, though!

    And yes - they bicker, but they love each other. Not that we ever doubted that...


    That old guy is like Statler and Waldorf. He hates everything young people like!

    The rest, I replied to it somewhere above.
     
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  13. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    07 The Road to Skaadra

    Tags: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and pointing out what should go to footnotes.




    The next morning, Kneesaa woke up first. The males were still sleeping – Teebo with his feet on the pillow and Paploo kicking the stone wall behind with his feet, drooling and snoring. She didn’t find this as funny as she thought she should have.

    Latara was already at the washing area, running a bone comb through the little head fur that had grown since she had sacrificed her braid. She looked at herself in the water and smiled.

    “Goopa!” She waved to Kneesaa. “That was the worst night ever. Ever. The boys should have been sleeping together or something.”

    The princess cocked her head. Latara continued.

    “I woke up with Teebo’s rear in my face in the middle of the night, having only about a handful of hay for myself. Can you imagine it? I must love him very much if I’m putting up with that!

    Kneesaa pulled a strange grimace. But her friend was not paying attention. Not at all.

    “And then I, like, rolled over him and we were face to face. I could feel his breath and I thought that, maybe, we could have some fun. I started by tickling his nose, but…he sneezed into my face! Not that it was the worst that could have happened, he could have done something worse before.” Latara sighed. “Remind me, why do I still want him to…hey, why are you looking at me that way? Kneesaa?”

    “Latara, I don’t know if it’s polite to ask you this, but we’ve been close since you returned to the village and we, err, received our hoods together and you borrow trinkets from me all the time and...”

    “No, we didn’t, if that’s what you wondered.” Latara cut her friend short and rolled her eyes. “And yes, it bothers me. Not as much as it would bother, say, Paploo, since I do have somebody and he doesn’t, so he’s gone all Dulok about it, but…”

    “I don’t want to hear anything about that again!” Kneesaa interrupted her and stomped her foot. Her voice was uncharacteristically loud. “I did not ask you so you could complain, I asked so I could be sure. I am fed up with this. The three of you need to solve the problems with your needs. Isn’t this what makes us different from animals?”

    The flutist crossed her arms.

    “Answer me!” Kneesaa was persistent.

    Latara turned around and didn’t say another word. She put the hood with the fake braid on and went away. Kneesaa could swear that she heard a couple of under-the-breath “k’varks” directed at her.

    “Well, eat worms too, then!” She pointed her finger to Latara. “I am no longer willing to put up with beetroots and honeycombs!”

    Somebody’s hand was on her shoulder. She turned around to see Mring-Mring. He heard her say those nasty things, she thought and put both hands over her mouth.

    “I’m sorry, my friend.” Kneesaa looked down. “These three are making a complete lurdii out of me! I need to…I need to repeat the Three Lessons…now! Now!”

    She began to recite the same six lines over and over again.

    "The leadership of the tribe is a privilege to be earned
    Before one is leader, three lessons must be learned
    The lesson of the hand will teach both strength and speed
    The lesson of the head is learned when hands do not succeed
    But the lesson of the heart will make the leader strong
    With head and heart together, the hand is never wrong"

    By the time her throat was too dry to continue and she had to lean over the improvised underground lake to drink some water, she was nearly screaming her mantra. A blink of an eye later, she was soaking wet and spewing the water out of her mouth.

    “Oh, by the Light Spirit! Why don’t all three of them eat worms and die?”

    The Gupin helped her out of the lake. She sat down, her face in her hands.

    “Kneesaa, are you all right?” He was concerned.

    "How do you manage this?" She grabbed the Gupin by his garb. "You are an outcast, the shamed one, the one who did not believe that he was a part of the prophecy, the wingless Gupin who became the king. Yet you seem to be doing better than me. If I ever get to lead the Bright Tree Village Ewoks, we will all crash to the ground! I will end up beating myself with that gemwood tree sceptre! E-e-either that or the others will."

    She stopped to drink more water, this time not falling over and then she looked at her friend again. Mring-Mring had only one thing to say.

    "See Ubel?"

    Kneesaa was offended. "I just poured my heart out to you and you…you just said that?"

    "Arandee, as you Ewoks say, I tried. This didn't work. I tried to show you how one solves it, but this was not the right moment and I am sorry." He caught himself squeezing water out of the ends of the princess’ pink hood. "What I was trying to say…there are the times when one needs to be less like me and more like my brother. Right now, he's ruthless. But he is keeping me sane.”

    Kneesaa pulled the top of the hood off her head and looked at the little blue gem that saved her aunt and sister a handful of moons ago. She poked it with her finger, watching it oscillate.

    “I think I understand. But still, I shouldn’t have blown up at my best friend. That is not how a princess behaves. I have never heard Father talk like that to any Ewok, either.”

    “We’re in danger, Kneesaa.” Mring-Mring poked the gem himself. “The k’varks catapulted at the enemies are the kind of k’varks I would call justified.”

    She nodded and stroked the knife hanging from a harness on her waist. It became clear to her that this was no longer the time to be that nice.

    “I’m so afraid, Mring-Mring!” she hugged the Gupin. “So, so afraid. This knife is nothing compared to the evils they brought along. They will kill us all.”

    …​

    The group departed after the Ibleam were already high in the sky, the smaller one looking brighter than the large one, with the shadow of Tana looking greyer and less pink than ever before. With one last set of instructions on how to handle the injured Grass Trekkers, Teebo shook Mring-Mring’s hand. He was surprised to see the Gupin King place a tiny gem wrapped in a piece of cloth on his palm.

    “Is that what was in the Juniper Chest? This gem?” His question was responded to with a discreet nod. “We cannot poss-possibly accept that! You need to…”

    “There are two of them. Keep one for yourselves. We can manage with a single one for our Renewal Ceremony and what you are going to face if you follow the Silver Trekkers’ path is going to be far worse than anything that could happen to us here. I think they are not coming back here. There was nothing in the Trekkers’ shrine that they could have used to their advantage.” Mring-Mring stopped to take a breath. “On top of this, you’re capable of things I never will be. Maybe you can do something that us Gupins cannot even picture in our minds when we’re transforming.”

    Teebo absent-mindedly stuck the artefact in his satchel. “Thank you.”

    “We were really happy to see you again.” Ubel came from behind his younger brother. “Paploo’s wife…”

    “M-my girlfriend.” Teebo corrected him hurriedly. “Latara and I have been together for a couple of moons now.”

    Ubel shrugged. “…your girlfriend is quite a character. We hope that this was not the last time we see you. I hope that at least a handful of us is going to survive this war.”

    “You call it a war?” The Ewok was surprised. “Then again…is there any other name for it?”

    With those words and one last handshake, he climbed his makant and had it gallop after Kneesaa, Latara and Paploo, wondering what could have made Ubel think that Latara was Paploo’s mate.

    “They are underestimating our knowledge.” Paploo pointed to large tracks leading westwards. “They are not even trying to hide their traces. Look, they’re heading towards the other side of the desert, to the lands inhabited by the Phlogs! Let’s follow them.”

    And they followed the traces, their shadows bigger and bigger in the hot sand, finding no droppings or soiled sand on their way. When the night fell, they camped underneath a crescent-shaped stone. While the other three Ewoks were busy with their tents, Latara was observing the strange landmark from all sides. After the third time she walked around it, she joined the group and asked Teebo for a piece of parchment.

    “I had better draw this right now.” She said. “We may need it to find our way back. It’s the kind of, like, the only thing that sticks out in this sea of endless sand.”

    “We have the maps.” Paploo was quick to dismiss the idea. “Why does the stupid stone matter?”

    Kneesaa was about to say something, then she remembered the Head Lesson. She sat down and opened a large sheet of parchment tied to the side of her backpack. The map was indeed not showing this stone. She was not willing to argue with her cousin again.

    Unlike her, Latara had nothing holding her back from proving Paploo wrong once more.

    “I think the stone was displaced and is a part of the Trekker shrine. Looks like it was worked on. It’s not a wonder of nature or anything…”

    “How about the Phlogs?” Paploo took a large chunk of sunberry tart from his supplies. “They’re big enough to take something like that from the ruins and use it as, I don’t know, a cot for one of their younglings, or…get bored by it and just, just leave it lying around like that.”

    Latara ran her hand over the smooth surface of the stone, until she noticed a hole drilled through.

    “Paploo, do you think that a Phlog, who speaks in what could be no more than a handful of words, could have done that?”

    The Ewok warrior twisted his mouth into a sheepish smile that would have been more fitting on Teebo’s face. Latara was trying her best not to laugh.

    “They wanted a piece of this.” She said. “The Skull Ones with Silver Trekkers by their side. And whatever they were looking for, they didn’t find it, so…they dropped it on their way, I guess.”

    The other three Ewoks could only shrug and agree.

    There was no sign of danger, so they spent the night in the shadow of the mysterious piece of the temple. Wondering if her theory was plausible at all, Latara fell asleep looking at the night sky through the round hole. The makants were chirping in their sleep, but it was not bothering her friends.

    She sighed and shook her head. Whatever was going to happen on this mission, she could not help but think that everything seemed bleak from the very start. More bleak than the destruction of the Dulok swamp. More bleak than the fight with the Griagh and her near-death at the hands of a Skull One.

    On the other hand, the actual former Trekker shrine was intriguing, to say the least. She could not wake up the others to tell her more about how it looked back when they first went to the desert without her, but she resolved to ask them to draw it from memory the first thing in the morning. Another idea that she scribbled down on the edge of her first drawing was that the stone was part of something far larger and far more monstrous than anything they had ever seen.

    …​

    Three days later, the four young ones reached the edge of the desert. The tracks had split at some point and they followed the set that was not going towards the known Phlog dwellings. Once the sand gave way to dry, sunburnt grass, Teebo gave one last pat to the makants and sent them back to where they came from. The Ewoks had to continue on their own and it was going to be hard.

    Unlike the grasslands on their side of the desert, the area was covered in thorny shrubbery and sparse trees and they had to rely on vines for the first time in a while. Swinging from branch to branch while carrying large backpacks and blankets was frustrating and more dangerous. The bright silver thorns below were indeed trampled down in some places and Paploo concluded that the Silver Trekkers could walk over them without being hurt.

    “What kind of creatures are they, anyway?” He scratched his head and reached out to help Kneesaa swing towards a particularly thick branch. “No droppings, no traces, they can die, but they cannot get hurt.”

    Teebo was climbing down the tree down to what looked like a clearing. He raised his head upon hearing what Paploo had to say.

    “I think they’re made of metal.” He stopped for a moment once his feet touched the ground. “But only the most powerful servants of the Light Spirit have metal. We don’t even know how metal is made.”

    “Metal is cold, cold, cold!” Latara added. “And creatures are warm.”

    “That’s it!” Teebo clapped his hands. “These Trekkers are not creatures! They are like space canoes!”

    Paploo swung from a wine before him. “You’re saying some pretty strange things these days. First that there is another moon in the sky somewhere, now this. What are you going to say next? That the Trekkers inhabit a moon made of metal and that they come out at night to hunt their prey?”

    “Why not? If they can fire at others, then they can see equally well both during the day and the night.”

    “Teebo!” The three Ewoks chanted in unison. Logray’s apprentice looked down.

    “Chak, I am seeing things again. But the last time I saw things…”

    “I know, I know, you almost died.” Paploo was impatient. “Let’s find something to eat and then look at the maps. Kneesaa?”

    The Princess nodded. She was worried about where they were going, but tracking down the Silver Trekkers was clearly as important as warning the other Ewoks. What she feared was that there wouldn’t be any Ewoks to warn on their current path. Or any creature at all.

    …​

    The four had been roaming around the forest for what seemed more than half a moon. The more lost they got, the more Kneesaa realised she was wrong. Very wrong. There was no more shrubbery, so they could walk on the ground, which was not covered with fern like it was in the case in the Happy Grove. The treetops seemed to be harder to see through as well, but every now and then, they would see something that looked like a mountain peak peeking from the clouds in the distance.

    The soil here was free of any flowers, herbs or moss and so moist that Latara had to make snowshoes for everybody and cover them in large, thick leaves.

    “So much mud.” She shook the dirt off her feet for who knows which time that day. “And it’s cold mud, on top of it! We’re going to need a larger fire tonight, the further we go, the colder it gets.”

    “Say, where are we?” Paploo looked to Kneesaa and Teebo, expecting the answer that they had been unable to deliver for quite a while now. “It’s time the stargazing lurdo and the Princess admit that the idea of following these tracks was wrong. We must be close to the Snowy Peaks by now…that means you’re taking us straight to Hanging Moss Village, where they drink blood of their enemies!”

    "No.” Kneesaa shook her head. “That would be across the desert and then at least two moons following Kuna’s Eye! I have a feeling we're on the other side of Endor or something. Close to Lake Sui.”

    Paploo was not convinced. "Had you all listened to me, we would not be going the wrong way! Whatever way we were supposed to take, I am sure it was..."

    “I know where we are.” Kneesaa interrupted him again.

    “Tell us, smartyhood!” Paploo spat on the ground. "Not that it's going to help us in any way, but…"

    “The gorge of Skaadra. The mountain visible in the distance is Skaadra and that means we’re close to…gulp…” Kneesaa swallowed a lump. Teebo made an awkward expression and she just nodded. Paploo and Latara perked up in anticipation.

    “The alleged heretics of Twin Lakes Village.” Teebo was clutching his fists. “Gondulas who no longer believe in trees and the spirits. I read about them in master Logray’s forbidden scrolls.”

    “The traitors of the true Ewok spirit.” Kneesaa said, almost at the same time. “Whoever rules their handful of huts has not shown up at the Kantresna Summit for a long time. I read about them on the walls of the Hollow Trunk that my father kept off limits from me…”

    “So, let me get this straight.” Paploo got into Teebo’s face. “The two of you constantly complain about the two of us breaking the rules, yet you broke the rules?”

    “This is not what matters right now. We could be in trouble if follow the river to the lakes and get in touch with these Ewoks.”

    “Then why don’t we turn around and go back?” Latara asked.

    “We are running out of supplies and it’s getting colder and colder. I fear that we may have to ask them for help.” Kneesaa looked up to the mountain peak.

    “No!” Paploo and Latara protested.

    “I am your Princess and you seem to be forgetting that. After all, they could be in danger from the Silver Trekkers, too; and we could arrive there before those servants of the Night Spirit do! Teebo, do you agree?”

    “Of course. If we don’t survive to tell everybody about it, then there is no point to this mission.”

    Within two days, they managed to find the cold Skaadra River and follow it towards the peak. The rocky valley was covered in moss, unlike the forest before it. The river was mostly shallow and occasionally, they had to walk through cold water, as there was no other way through some of the narrowest passages.

    Kneesaa determined that it would take them about four days to get to the lakes, but those four days were certainly longer than any others. Every now and then, somebody would bring up how they used to complain about the Yarlubb River. Now they were missing it – it was deep enough for canoes and even in the rockiest of the places on its way to the Grasslands, there were no boar-wolves, there was no threatening howl echoing through the night.

    Finally, close to the sunset on the fourth day, they reached another forest. By this time, the Skaadra was a shallow stream, heading to the smaller of the two lakes. The peak was now behind them and they could see lights in the distance.

    “Is that the village you talked about?” Latara asked Kneesaa.

    “I sure hope so. Heretics or not, I would rather make peace with them and whatever they believe in than go to the Hanging Moss Village Paploo mentioned.”

    “I just don’t trust Gondulas.” Paploo crossed his arms. He then walked to the lake, pointing to the stream. “Not so much of a big cold river anymore, aren’t you?”

    To his surprise, the water in the small lake was warm. The group decided on a bath before pitching their tents close to a particularly large tree.




    Footnotes
    Kneesaa's mantra are the three lessons from the Ewoks episode The Three Lessons, word for word.

    There isn’t much on the Grass Trekkers' Shrine on Wook, but the place was clearly in one piece when Ubel and Teebo went there to retrieve the key to the Juniper Chest.

    Phlogs are yet another species that was introduced to Endor through a starship crash.

    Phlogs live in the Desert of Simoom. I made this desert the same one from the cartoon, since the Desert of Salma should be on the other side, where Wicket went to and where the Gorax is.

    Lake Sui is a Legends canon location.

    So is the Hanging Moss Village.

    The part with Paploo saying that they "drink blood of their enemies" has been entirely made-up. It's not clear if it's a fact, or if it's an old wives' tale - Bozzie would have almost certainly said something like that.

    The Skaadra River and the gorge, as well as the Twin Lakes of Skaadra are all fanon. They're all loosely based on locations on the border between Montenegro and Albania.

    The large lake would be the Lake Skadar.

    Look at the map to spot the small lake.

    The river's real-life equivalent is Morača. This river is shallow itself, the only thing that does not happen is a) it entering a smaller lake; b) becoming that ridiculous stream from the prologue. Its canyon would be the equivalent of the Skaadra Gorge.

    The mountain was conventionally glued onto the rest and it's actually Mount Gerlach...in space!!! This implies that the climate is much colder than in the actual real-life area and that the Endor lake is therefore not a karst lake, but a glacial one.

    This has NOTHING to do with the further behaviour of characters from this area and do not copme up with Yugoslav Wars-related conspiracy theories. I just think the area is beautiful and it randomly came to my mind.

    Kantresna is either an actual peak of another mountain where a summit of all Ewok leaders is held. I used the name I created for a side character in a novel about parrots (!) in 1992.
     
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  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I feel for Kneesaa in this. :( You warned me that she would be uncharacteristically irritable in this chapter, and she is, but almost none of it, it seems to me, is unjustified. First, there's just the all-around seriousness of the Silver Trekkers situation. Second of all, Latara isn't making things any easier by choosing this particular time to brag about the fact that she got to sleep next to a boy—because in a way what she's doing is bragging, even if she is giving the impression that she's complaining. (And gee, if he managed to get into that position vis-à-vis her, he must be a very, very active sleeper!) But also, to a certain type of person, it can be shocking to hear of a friend having that kind of contact with another; I remember an instance of that in my own past that really did affect my friendship with the person in question (especially since it had involved her standing me up in favor of the new squeeze). So even if Kneesaa didn't quite have to blow up at Latara, I think she has every right to be annoyed with her right now.

    And also to a certain type of person it's not easy to hear it's "no longer the time to be that nice," as she does from Mring-Mring (who, as always, is right on with his advice—a true friend). Desperate times often call on people to change their ways in ways that are hard for them; it won't be easy for Kneesaa to adopt the more ruthless attitude the current situation is calling for, but she's got a lot of inner strength and I'm confident she'll carry on.

    I'm intrigued by Mring-Mring's gift of the gem to Teebo. He clearly has in mind that Teebo will use it for something fairly specific (and I bet we'll see it again), though who knows at this point what it might be. It certainly would be cool to see Teebo's magic and that of the Gupins working in tandem at some point, and I'm guessing that is eventually what might happen. Good to see our four adventurers gaining some more answers about the Silver Trekkers and their metallic nature, and of course that metallic nature takes on an extra dimension of urgency for a species that almost never uses any metal. And when Paploo surmises that "the Trekkers inhabit a moon made of metal and that they come out at night to hunt their prey"—well, if they are what I'm pretty darn sure they are, he's spot on! :D

    And then there's this funny, big, crescent-shaped stone thing, and Latara is the one of the group that it's made the most impression on somehow. Even though she's not the one with nature powers, she is certainly showing that she's got good powers of observation here, and good intuition about something being really off here. I too wonder what might have been drilled out of it, and what a piece of the Grass Trekkers' shrine (if that's what it is) may be doing all the way out here.

    Finally, like glitteryboots said about chapter 3, I'm fairly certain that this Twin Lakes Gondula village is the rather dark, crazy, mixed-up place from the prologue. I will be very curious to see how our quartet fares there, and whether they'll be able to convince them of the imminent danger. [face_nail_biting]

    So glad to see this continuing! :)
     
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  15. glitteryboots

    glitteryboots Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2015
    I really feel for Kneesaa at this point, too, and like Findswoman said her anger is justified. At the same time I understand why the others are behaving this way - they're just becoming adults in the midst of all this strife - but I can feel that her head must be about to explode. :( Latara's complaining must seem incredibly trivial to her, too, with all the responsibilities currently weighing on her shoulders. I'm sure there's been some point in her father's life that she's not aware of when he's behaved like this - and even if not, she shouldn't beat herself up about it, because he was never in this situation (or I assume so, anyway). It's always a scary moment - or a moment of realisation about how bad things are - when the person who seems like a pillar, the sane one, etc, finally breaks down, which really makes things seem even bleaker.

    “Paploo’s wife…” [face_laugh]

    "Another idea that she scribbled down on the edge of her first drawing was that the stone was part of something far larger and far more monstrous than anything they had ever seen." The first time I read this I thought she couldn't imagine what it could be, but now I'm wondering if she does have some idea and if so, what is it? Intriguing.

    The contrast between the metal creatures being able to tread over the spikes unhurt compared to the living Ewoks is quite chilling, as well how alien metal in general is to them. Again, it makes me sad to see their home invaded by such unfamiliar evil. :(

    I enjoyed Paploo's old wives' tale (or not) about the Hanging Moss Village and being shown/told about more of Endor in general - the fanon bits you've added like the river and the summit are great and believable. Interesting to hear where the inspiration came from, too.

    So, this is definitely the village from the prologue they're about to arrive at. I'm very interested to see where they are now and, of course (I think I've said this before, but still) how the Bright Tree Village Ewoks are going to interact with them. I'm sure there are some clashes coming up...
     
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  16. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Thank you so much for your comments and thanks to anybody else who is reading. :) I appreciate that a lot. Especially given how dark of a story this is!




    Basically, yes, all of these. And Teebo could have been overall...confused by sleeping next to another person and more startled than normal.


    Mring-Mring is a champ. :) But he is also a survivour, being the one who was more or less banished from his tribe back when he was a wingless Gupin. Therefore, he knows a thing or two about the darkest of the days and, at the same time, he may be able to adopt to grim, grim things easier than his people. That also makes him an ideal king.

    Kneesaa will listen to him and the fact that he more or less implied that things can only get worse will...come in handy.


    If I say that the gem's role will not be a deus ex machina kind of a thing and that it does not do the kind of wonders the Sunstar Shadowstone would, is that too much of a spoiler? But it's not a MacGuffin, either. :)

    Paploo says the darndest things, but this time he made a guess and he was right. :p


    Sometimes, those with nothing but the mere five senses can come up with ideas and conclusions as good as those with nature powers. But at this point, it's not clear if she got anything right, rememb-uh. ;)

    Time to swallow lumps. On each new read. OK, not in today's chapter, but from next week's chapter on, yes.

    Thank you. @};- There was a point when I thought I painted myself in the corner (totally stole that idiom from you, by the way), and wondered what to do with that underground chapter, but it's all fine now. :)


    "Trivial" is closer to having ultimately led to Kneesaa losing her patience than the other thing that Findswoman mentioned, though there is a bit of that, too. Being in what could be a life-threatening series of events and having somebody bring up the possibility of somebody accidentally farting at them in their sleep is...yup, super-trivial. Had it been a joke, spoken by a Bluebell from Watership Down kind of a character, that would've been a different matter, but it was not.

    And that moment - heck to the yes - precisely what I wanted to picture. Glad that it shows!


    :p

    At this point, it's the good ol' drawing board. Literally.

    Did not even think about that when I was writing it, but it makes sense. It could lead them to figuring out that they're dealing with something that, well, isn't a living thing; because it's not vulnerable, it does not bleed et cetera.

    Glad that footnote made sense. And that is my second or third RL-location incorporated into GFFA...I think. :) Sacorria has a lot of bizarre takes on ex-YU places and there's that certain deep-ish Greek gulf copied and pasted on my mental map of Vagran.


    ...and you're most certainly right!
     
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  17. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    08 So Many Stars

    Tags: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to Findswoman for beta-reading and pointing out what should go to footnotes.




    The Sistermoon had risen by the time the tents were pitched. The girls were already in their sleeping bags. At all of their sleepovers, ever since they became friends, they would talk for a while before falling asleep. Their secrets, gossip and stories were always best served in the dark, with nobody else around. With their hoods and trinkets down, the time was right to discuss the events of the day, whichever festival had taken or was about to place, which of their friends was most annoying and why their parents and relatives gave them such a hard time.

    This time, it was different. Kneesaa noticed that Latara was unusually quiet. No complaints about the boys. No whining about not having all of her homemade perfumes and accessories with her. Nothing. Just silence.

    "Latara? How about a sunberry for your thoughts?"

    The flutist didn't seem particularly eager. "Uh, no. Not really.” She was sitting in her sleeping bag, half-covered and playing with the large green pendant on her chest. Her friend continued staring at the Sistermoon above the lake through the tent flap, but after a while, she tried again.

    “I thought there were not supposed to be any secrets between us. Ever. By the way, do you ever take that gem off?"

    No answer, once again. Kneesaa was about to blow out the lantern and tuck herself in.

    “Wait. I do want to talk!” Latara put her hand on the Princess’ wrist.

    "Good. So, is this in any way related to our argument from earlier?”

    “Which argument? We argued a lot.” Latara looked down and shook her head. “You’re probably not proud of us.”

    “Latara…don't change the subject.”

    “Fine.” She crossed her arms and looked away. “Remember the last snow season when I got drunk, went and literally threw myself at Teebo? That night he got me angry beyond belief, I so wanted to see the Light Spirit and he was clueless.”

    "Chak…who would forget that?” Kneesaa tried her best not to laugh. “Glad you don’t feel like those things will get away from you anymore now that the two of you are in a relationship…"

    "Well, you’re wrong. I need to quench that thirst, once and for all.” Latara kicked the first object in sight, her own backpack.

    The princess felt a sudden urge to cover herself, up to her eyes. “You’re making me slightly uncomfortable right now.”

    “What are you? A princess or a priestess?"

    "Very funny. Anyway, continue..."

    Latara took the pendant in her hands and looked at her reflection in it. "In Teebo's mind, being with me is just about hugs, kisses and poetry." The distorted face in the pendant had enormous eyes and lips, she thought.

    “That’s not enough for you right now?”

    “It will never be enough. This is the way I am. It's been four moons since the evening we first watched sunset from the cliff and he has not tried anything. I didn't push it, as I understood that he needed some time to accept himself after all that happened. Regain confidence. Whatever. He obviously did, if he can bring a Skull One down and attack a gigantic beast."

    "Latara! His fur colour and attire might have changed and he has adopted his new role easier than many would have thought or so it looks like, but he's still the same Ewok underneath...the tender creature who takes everything seriously. Also, these two kinds of, as you say, confidence, are not related."

    "I know, I’m not shallow!”

    "Then maybe this could be the right time to show him so. Make him see that you too are yearning for tenderness, and not some rite of passage."

    "Now? On this mission? No. I always wanted it to be special. When I first told you I was into him, I was, what, 12 snows old...he was 13 and a half, with those gorgeous fair bangs, ee-cha. I had a dream where I would take him to the meadow of lantern flowers at night and we would become one inside of a particularly large and bright flower, with some Firefolk flying around us. Then I would wake up and dedicate the whole day to being noticed by him. I would massage lovely oils into my fur, paint my lips crimson red and...He would just talk about animals, trees, flowers and...ugh! Glad I already knew the way around..."

    Latara stopped mid-sentence, expecting her sweet and innocent friend to gasp and cover her mouth with her hands. But Kneesaa was focused on something else.

    "You said lantern flowers. Latara, those don't exist. What you just described are half-lantern birds, half-aura blossoms."

    Latara cocked her head. Those things indeed didn’t exist. She sighed.

    "I guess his ways of thinking are taking over me. I am becoming poetry, symbols on parchment."

    "If so, then just be it. Be something that he wants to weave into words and...Let him be something that you can mold into music. He is the words to your melody."

    …​


    In the boys' tent, the situation was completely different.

    “You’re not going to keep that hideous thing you wear on your head beside your sleeping bag, are you?” Paploo pointed to Teebo’s headdress. “It’s going to poke my eyes out…lurdo. And that horn...”

    “Of course I will. I would not want some animal to soil it if it’s held outside…or worse.”

    “Nice. As if it wasn’t enough that you will end up squishing me…you know where you should stick the horn, to save space?”

    “You should have asked for a bigger tent when you were getting the supplies for this expedition!”

    “Why so tense? You really need to…”

    "I need to…what? I know that insult, Paploo! You have no guts to say it!"

    Kneesaa peeked in the tent. “Is everything alright over there? We heard you and it sounded as if you were...arguing.”

    “No, not true.”

    “Absolutely not true. As a matter of a fact, we’ll sleep now.”

    Teebo turned to one side, Paploo to the other; and they exchanged a couple of extremely bitter greetings.

    "Good night, not really a warrior."

    "Good night, not really a wizard."

    …​

    At some point, Teebo woke up. Paploo, once so concerned about his comfort,was now snoring loudly and spreading over onto Teebo’s side of the tent, kicking him in the back. He sighed and got out.

    The night was balmy, the sky full of stars. The plants were fragrant, but when he sniffed the air, there was one particular, overpowering scent he could not recognise. What could possibly smell like that? He followed the smell over the shrubs to the fire pit, through the meadow to the sandy shore of the small lake. Then he stopped and smiled. Latara was standing hunched in the shallows, splashing water on her neck and chest, getting ready for a swim.

    He was not sure why, but his heart was racing like never before.

    "Ummm...goopa..." he finally managed to say. Latara turned to him and smiled.

    "Goopa, honeydrop. Can't sleep?"

    "No, not while Paploo is snoring like a herd of boar-wolves and chasing the said herd in his sleep. Why are you bathing? We all bathed this afternoon! Besides, you smell so good right now!"

    She tried not to ignore him even though that one thing he said made her raise her eyebrow. "What on Endor are you talking about, Teebo? I never smell. I'm going for a swim."

    "At this time of the night?"

    "Chak! Why not? I need to cool down. It's way too hot here."

    Latara took off and swam to the middle of the lake. When she turned around, her confused boyfriend was still standing on the shore, dragging his right foot through the narrow strip of sand and piling it up on his left foot.

    "Why are you looking at me like that?" She asked, floating in the water. With almost comical lack of balance, Teebo walked on small stones scattered around the shallows, towards her. He could swear that her body was covered in starlike gems.

    "The stars are reflecting in the lake…and on your bre…I mean, fur. I...I need to scribble this down!"

    "Watch out, you will sl..." Latara pointed to the water drops on the rock below. Just as she said that, Teebo lost his balance and fell into the water. She quickly swam to him.

    "Honeydrop, are you alright?"

    "I'm just clumsy." He shook off the excess water from his fur. “And now I forgot the first verse of my new poem about you.”

    He covered his mouth with his left hand. Latara giggled. Not that she didn’t know he had poems about her.

    “Instead of writing poems about me, how about just being here, right now?” She swam further away. “Come here.”

    He smiled and swam to her, then playfully splashed some water her way. She came closer, pouting. He closed his eyes and spread his arms to embrace her, but she spat a mouthful of water at him instead.

    "Eecha waa ma, Latara!"

    She giggled again and then kissed him on the lips.

    “You had to earn this one. If only you could see your face when I spat that water on you…hey!”

    He pulled her close, raised her in an embrace and they kissed again. Latara was surprised. But she liked it. She liked it a lot.

    "There hasn't been a night this bright ever since master Logray taught me to watch the stars."

    "Then you need to show me them all."

    Teebo smiled and started swimming towards a tiny island with a single tree in the middle of the lake. “Chak. We’ll follow their traces in the water and I will tell you which is which and what happens when it’s aligned with…this…or…that…eeh…


    …​

    Half an hour or so later, when the clouds started moving across the night sky, they got out of the lake and Latara lay down on the hollowed tree trunk separating the meadow from the shore.

    "I need to dry off..."

    "How? There is no sunlight, it's night." Teebo was stuttering by this point. He was standing above the trunk, scratching his head. His girlfriend said nothing, so he continued awkwardly. "T-this reminds me of our first sunset...but it's different...err..." he stuttered. “It’s different because…you know…I was wondering…dyoustarswime?”

    “What did you say, Teebo?” Latara’s eyes were wide open, as she propped herself up on her elbow again.

    “I…said…do you want to see the stars with me?” He swallowed a lump and looked away.

    Latara’s face lit up. But she was not answering.

    “Did I say something wrong?”

    “I think…” She hummed and then, unexpectedly, grabbed her boyfriend by shoulders and pushed him so that they both tumbled down from trunk to the grass and rolled all the way to the old tree. “I think the answer is yes. Touch me.” She assured Teebo.

    Still looking away, he caressed her shoulders, only for her to grab his arm and start moving his hand through her fur towards her chest and belly, just like that morning on the cliff. He was finally looking straight into her eyes, with an expression that seemed to be slowly changing from the initial fearful grimace. Her smile made him think that she might want more kisses.

    "There! Not that scary, isn't it? I didn't break to pieces. Now repeat. Slowly. Gently."

    “Was there any other way than slowly and gently?” Teebo thought to himself. There she was, more beautiful than ever or so he wanted to believe, lying next to him.

    "This wasn't in any of the futures...” He said, timidly. “The one with the new moon in the sky must have overshadowed it..."

    "That new moon of yours seems to be taking forever to fill. Let's do something else while waiting! You could, perhaps, cover me head to toe in those sweet, sweet kisses..." Latara reached for Teebo’s shoulders and rubbed her head against his chest. They smiled to each other once again.

    She lay down on her back and guided her lover’s hands with her eyes closed. His eyes grew wider and wider as he observed her hair bristling and her breaths getting deeper and deeper. At some point, she opened her eyes, smiled and pushed his head below her belly, muttering a shy “please”. He nodded.

    …​


    A while later, Latara was running her fingers through the fur on the back of Teebo’s head. He was resting with his left cheek buried in her midriff; nibbling on a blade of grass and looking at her as if he had just witnessed a forest spirit appear from the nearby treetops.

    "I saw the stars. And my eyes were closed.” Latara reached for Teebo's fingers. “Hold my hand. Hold my hand....please."

    He held on to her hand and, for a little while they said nothing. Then a thought crossed his mind.

    "Latara, do you think less of me for having done this?" He dipped the blade of glass in the small bottle hanging from his neck.

    She stroked his fur again. He liked that. "No. Do you think less or me for having enjoyed it so much?"

    “No.”

    Teebo sat up and tucked the little flask away and leaned his back against the trunk of the large blooming tree behind, his eyes closed. "This tree says that it does not mind us..."

    Latara placed her finger in front of her mouth. "I tell you, the tree does not know what it's missing!" She gave the blade of grass a quick sniff before gently pulling it out of her boyfriend's mouth and throwing it away, "My green-eyed boy sure has a sweet tooth, regardless of the matter at hand...even when I want him so much that I could tear out all of my fur and skin!” She took a deep breath. “The tree is missing out on a whole lot!" Her voice alternating between squeals and pillowy whisper, she sat on Teebo's lap, facing him.

    He was about to tell her she was wrong and that trees get so much more pleasure from just being alive and protecting the forest critters than anybody could get from anything. But those thoughts were now overpowered by her sole presence and her silky fur brushing against his. She had no nature powers, she was not able to hear colour, but somehow, by pressing his head against her chest and listening to her heart beat, he could feel the kind of a bond that he didn’t have with any living creature. She pushed the boundaries the way nobody else could. All that it took was love.

    She was looking back at him through her long eyelashes, wondering if he really thought that her eyes had been closed all along. She had never seen him like this and she loved it. The incident in the Wanderer’s lair did not change anything about how she saw him – even with those striking green eyes, the small and delicate nose, the awkward longer facial fur growing here and there on his cheeks and often finding the way into his mouth, he was still everything she ever wanted, her little honeydrop. At this point, she knew that she could not picture herself sitting on any other Ewok’s lap.

    "You somehow knew everything I liked. Not fair using your nature powers like that!” She gave him another kiss and winked. “Now I need to find out what you like."

    “I didn't even know I liked this much until tonight, but…” he stopped mid-sentence and looked down, between them. “Sorry!”

    “Why sorry?” She was confused at first. "Oh…”

    "Ummm...chak." He stuttered, prompting her to give him an encouraging peck on the neck. "And now, I guess we…err…I don't want to hurt you."

    "You won’t. You’re gentler than I will ever be." She closed her eyes for a moment and squirmed a tiny bit. “See? I feel great. Hold me as if I were nothing but pure light and magic.”

    She bit his lip and reached for the lowest branch of the tree, then he pulled her closer again. His lower lip was bleeding. Did she do that? It took her a moment to realise that her lover was still slightly ashamed of his pleasure and trying to keep quiet by any means.

    But even then, he was the words to her melody.

    …​


    On the other side of the bushes, Paploo woke up from sleep and noticed he was alone. He heard something outside, grabbed his slingshot and hurried out of the tent, only to see Kneesaa stand by hers. Unlike him, she didn't pick up a weapon on her way out.

    "Kneesaa, how can you be so calm? We must be under attack, the Skull Ones must have caught up with us. I heard noise on the other side of the sunberry bushes. Leaves are rustling and I could swear I heard Latara's voice at some point...she sounded as if she was...struggling."

    "It’s not like that. Not like that at all."

    He was confused.

    "Also, where is Teebo? His headdress, necklace, weapons and the horn, are right where he left them, the only thing missing is that stupid new charm he started wearing recently...and it was after I...mocked him for..."

    As Paploo was slowly coming to a realisation, Kneesaa just pointed towards the bushes.

    "Oh, by the great tree! I’m two snows older than him! I was supposed to be the first after Weechee and Tak, this is not fair! Why? How does that lurdo get somebody like her? I want to know what it's like! It's not like he will brag about it!"

    He started to make for the bushes. The princess giggled and then pulled his hand away.

    "Paploo! Take your sleeping bag and come to my tent, right now. I may be your first cousin, but I am also your princess and I don't want you to do anything stupid!"

    He nodded, accepting what he saw as his biggest defeat so far.

    …​

    That night, the Sistermoon was mischievous –it joined the two lovers by playing a game of hide and seek with the clouds. Each time they could see each other more clearly, an occasional sigh would break through the serene landscape of the old tree, small and big lake and the fog-covered, ice-glazed peak of the Skaadra Mountain.

    At some point, the branch cracked, prompting giggles.



    Footnotes
    This chapter was first outlined in December 2014 and it went through numerous changes in order to make it absolutely believable, sensual enough, yet not explicit. I wanted to show two awkward teenagers, with two different temperaments, each with their own vulnerabilities and desires. And yes, I wanted them to explicitly state their consent. This is not the censored version – it’s the only version. There is no extra content, anywhere.

    Sunberries are a species of berries on Endor, no relation to the poisonous ones on Earth, whatsoever.

    Lantern birds are large pink birds with bioluminescent tails.

    Aura blossoms are a cotton-like flower species.

    Firefolk or the Wisties are the tiny semi-sentient bioluminescent beings previously seen in the Ewoks pilot episode, The Cries of the Trees and the Caravan of Courage film.
     
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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Teebo and Latara are certainly turning over a new page in their relationship. :) And I don't just mean the, um, fade-to-black aspects of the scene. As we discussed during the beta phase, this whole sequence is all about meeting each other halfway, accepting each other on each other's own terms. Yes, as we've seen in both of your Ewok oeuvres, "seeing the stars together" is by way of a euphemism, but here they really do look at the stars in the literal sense as well. So we have stargazing of the literal kind that Teebo already knows and loves, and the kind of "stargazing" Latara has been longing for ever since the early chapters of Snowed In—both get to do what they love, and both end up enjoying both. And isn't that a big part of real, selfless love—getting to the point where you, too, enjoy the things that make your beloved happy? It shows itself too when Latara doesn't let Teebo's unease faze her or ruin things for her. (And it's cool here that it's the male partner who has the more unease, overturning some of the old, tired tropes about men in general—but heck, for this man it is completely in character!)

    And it comes together in an interesting and poetic way at the very end, when we see that even during the one act of "stargazing" they're apparently attuned to what the actual, literal sky is doing, at least somewhat, since their sighs happen when conditions get clear enough for them to see each other. It all fits together and there really are so many stars. [face_love]

    But even earlier on there are hints of it, such as when Latara observes herself getting all poetic about her dream, then says, "I guess his ways of thinking are taking over me. I am becoming poetry, symbols on parchment." Which of course leads to the beautiful image that describes their relationship in terms of their respective art forms—he's the words to her music.

    (I'll say here that his image packs a lot of oomph for me because of my background in musicology: there was a lot of debate around the turn of the 17th century as to whether the poetry or the music should have primacy in a musical composition with words, and though there was a lot of difference of opinion the consensus mostly ended up being, "yes.")

    And who else comes up with that image but Kneesaa! She's recovered from her shock in the previous chapter and is starting to see where she, too, can meet her friend halfway. Indeed she does later on in a big way, when she helps protect her friends' privacy. Mr. Not-Really-A-Warrior will just have to deal! :p

    Good job with this—I know you were concerned about it for a while, but I think you aced it: it's got right level of, well, implication, it's in character for the characters, and it's got genuine tenderness. I'm the sort who often gets a bit... squeamish reading lovemaking scenes in fanfic, but that didn't happen at all with this one! :)
     
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  19. glitteryboots

    glitteryboots Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2015
    It was a good idea to open this chapter with the feel of sleepovers, secret swapping, etc since that's very symbolic of the chapter's events in general, and Kneesaa beginning to understand/accept Latara's feelings on this - especially since the chapter ends with Kneesaa protecting them (from - help! - a Paploo invasion :p ). It's also a glimpse of normality amongst all the turmoil on Endor.

    I'm glad she also enables Latara to show Teebo the respect she couldn't seem to muster before so things are later comfortable for both of them (seems only right that it's Kneesaa who shows her this!). Similarly I'm glad that Teebo doesn't disappear to write a poem since whilst it's lovely that she inspires him, that isn't the respect she deserves either and certainly isn't what she needs, and he's finally understood that - same with when he's about to tell her about the trees then it all takes over and he realises that their love is equal to nature, the Force, etc - all the things he considers special.

    Findswoman has pretty much covered everything else, but I have to second what she's said about how this is all very in-character for both of them and well done on that. The "stargazing" concept is perfect, too, and you've really set the scene by describing the environment around them.

    "Good night, not really a warrior." "Good night, not really a wizard." :p
     
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  20. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Thanks for the comments - and apology to anybody who didn't want to read about two teenage Ewoks making out and more. I don't see it as any different from such a scene involving Humans. Love is love. <3

    Also, I had to fine-tune the posting dates for the next four chapters, so I don't end having to post chapters of ALL my stories on my big fat Greek vacation, so from now until early September, this one will be going up on Saturdays.




    That is how I wanted this to be seen. :) Teebo probably knows what Latara's intentions are long before he formally asks her for consent and she knows that he would be awkward to a certain extent, but she knows better now and she will encourage him, let him take it slowly and not shame him.

    And yes - true love is about meeting halfway and not becoming somebody else for the one you love. They're learning how to treat each other the way they would want to be treated themselves.

    They could also be so into each other that it feels that way to them. Seeing that the one you love is happy and comfortable with you is a big deal.

    And yeah, I couldn't have written anything like this and not make it poetic. [face_love]

    That's also the point where she admits to not being as tough as she is most of the time. That she's as gentle as him, while he may also be as tough as she is sometimes. And it shows that she is not just carnal - she has her needs, she definitely has a high drive, but she still wanted him and him only - so, in the end, it had to be meaningful for her, too. The moment where she assumes that they couldn't have a picturesque, magical experience shows it. @};-

    I think the answer's yes, too. :D One can't be without the other.

    She knew those two were a match at the time each of them probably thought of how odd it would be like to be seen with the other. And both confided to her on numerous occasions, because she's a good listener. She could see the aspects of their relationship that they could not see, before they could do so themselves and she wasn't all like "I'm losing my friend" (Wicket) or "They'll do it before ME!" (Paploo)

    And, yes, POOR PAPLOO. SO SORRY FOR HIM...NOT. :p

    I'm that sort, too. Because so many seem choreographed and too carnal for me. The said tenderness loses to erotica. And that's true for profic, movies, series etc, too.

    A PAPLOO INVASION. :D :D I actually laughed out loud here.

    And Kneesaa could not understand Latara's feelings when they appeared like...a Paploo's Mind 2.0. Now, when she's sure that Latara wants Teebo as more than just a physical lover, she has no problem encouraging her to go for it. :)

    He almost chickened out, but then he realised that he has to face that aspect, give it a go. And the moment he realises all the things you point out, it's obvious that he does not regret having done so.

    Nothing to add to that. :)

    :p :p :p
     
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  21. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    09 The Twin Lakes Village

    Tags: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to Findswoman for beta-reading and pointing out what should go to footnotes.

    And just thought that I'd add this: the things that Twin Lakers do and think has nothing to do with my personal beliefs and all. Be offended by them, but not me. I promise I'm OK. :p




    Latara opened her eyes to the reepweb of the large tree above her head. The dense foliage was so thick that the sunlight of the Ibleam was coming through in sparse rays. A slight ache all over her body immediately reminded her of what had happened. The sensation of Teebo sleeping with his head resting on her shoulders and his body more or less wrapped around her, was something that once seemed like nothing but her imagination. She smiled broadly.

    Just then, he woke up.

    “Goopa…” He turned to her, grinned and then looked down, mumbling the rest of the compliment. “…t-to the brightest of the stars in the night sky.”

    She kissed him on the nose. “Goopa. You know, we saw many stars last night.” She lowered her voice. “At least I did.”

    “And you’re still the brightest of them all and the only star in my sky.” He slid his hand down her shoulder. “Nothing can change that. The moment came. The moment I finally feel what you feel, the moment where and when I am you and you are me...when we truly are one."

    Latara smiled. Even after a night like that, Teebo still turned away each time he said something romantic. “Chak! Do you feel any different now that we are adults?”

    “Adults?” Teebo was confused, almost worried by the thought. “We’re adults once we get to know all the good and bad there is in life. Once our apprenticeships have been completed. Once we see a loved one die. I don’t think mating means anything like that…”

    Latara pouted and shook her head. There he was, looking for a deeper meaning to simple pleasures of life once again! She was certainly feeling adult herself.

    …​


    The Ibleam were high in the sky when Kneesaa and Paploo got up to add more wood to the pit, light it again and get some food ready. It was windier than the day before... At some point, clouds jumbled on the horizon behind the bigger lake, but nothing happened. Latara was playing her flute under the large tree. Teebo was sitting next to her with his eyes closed and his hands on his knees, his mind somewhere else.

    The princess walked up to her friend. Latara glanced at her from the corner of her eye and continued playing a little longer. Kneesaa waited patiently and, once the flute was back in the holster next to the firestick, swallowed a lump, grinned and waved.

    “So, you don’t know how to start this conversation, right?” The flutist adjusted the green gem around her neck. “I will give you a little hint: chak, it’s true.”

    Kneesaa put her hands on her mouth.

    “What did you expect?” Latara giggled and hugged her friend. “I’m efficient, so to speak. Once I have the Princess’ approval, I go through with my plans.” She winked. “And now that I have the words to my melody…” She turned her head to Teebo, who was still sitting there, with his eyes closed. “He didn’t hear what I said at all! Teebo?”

    Teebo nearly fell down. “What? What?”

    “Good morning. We didn’t mean to scare you.” Kneesaa put her hand on his shoulder. “Latara said something v…”

    He interrupted her. “I was trying to reach into the starfield…and figure out if my previous foreshadowing was making any sense. Now I lost the bordok cart of the Light Spirit…but I think I have it. This place is where we will see The Other Moon.”

    Kneesaa and Latara laughed.

    “I could see a strange falling star while…while…” Teebo looked down.

    Kneesaa blushed, Latara continued to laugh. “Didn’t you say that it was me?”

    “I am not joking! There was a falling star and it disappeared. And there may have been a…”

    “That was your beetroot drooping!” Paploo waved his hand in front of Teebo’s face and showed the small space between his big finger and his thumb. “You are not as much of a space Ewok as you would like to be.”

    Teebo looked down. Kneesaa gesticulated to him to ignore the taunting. Latara – luckily – didn’t hear this; she was still laughing. Paploo was already looking for edible berries in the nearby orchard-like enclosure.

    “Lighten up, loverboy!” He turned around, seeing that Teebo was still embarrassed. “You’re going to meet some folks more savage than you look today. Perhaps they’ll think you’re a real warrior.”

    …​

    Approaching the Twin Lakes Village seemed to have taken more time than it had taken Father Tree to create an Ewok from one of its branches. Kneesaa was leading the way, carrying a small gemwood tree sceptre similar to her father’s. Paploo was walking after her, and the other two were trailing further behind.

    This place did not look like anything they had seen before. In his late-night tales back at Bright Tree Village, Chief Chirpa would often tell them of distant places, painting pictures of the world they were yet to discover using Master Logray’s story pebbles. There were – of course – strange places that they had seen before. Teebo in particular had visited many during his early scouting missions with Wicket. And this little settlement contradicted anything and everything they could think of.

    For one thing, most Gondula lake settlements were located directly on the stilts in the water, with their structure very much similar to those of Panshee villages high up in the treetops. This one was located on the ground, closer to the forest, on the small strip of strangely dry land next to the sands of what looked like a hauntingly beautiful beach. None of the huts was taller or bigger than the others, but one of them was elongated, like a very long cart, and most of them had two levels. And there was nobody looking at them from the openings in the thatched walls. Nobody.

    They carefully proceeded to the centre of the village. The main square seemed desolate and the fire pit appeared to be out.

    “Are we sure they live here?” Teebo asked.

    Paploo shook his head. “We saw the light last night. They have got to be here.”

    “That light could have been something out of this world. Perhaps the Skull Ones attacked them before we got here.” Latara was pondering if she should pull out her firestick or not. “And they could get their hands on us, too.”

    “This is not the time to be afraid.” Kneesaa came closer to the ashes and ran her hand through them. She gasped.

    “They’re still warm. It’s a trap!”

    Just as she said that, a group of shorter Ewoks with strange masks appeared, chanting in a language they could not understand. Teebo snarled and reached for his axe, but he received a hit with the club to his head first. Latara screamed and drew her knife, only to be kicked in her back and pinned so close to the ground that she could taste the damp soil; she barely had space to breathe. She could not even reach for her unconscious boyfriend’s hand.

    Paploo knew that he had to do something. With a loud “Dengar!” he ran in front of Kneesaa, managing to grab the spear directed at her chest.

    “Do not kill us! This is Princess Kneesaa A Jari Kintaka, the heir to the throne of the Bright Tree Village in the Happy Grove! We are on a mission across Endor!”

    The masked brown Ewok holding the spear attempted to push it further and stab Paploo, but he could not - the newcomer’s grip was too strong. The rest of them stepped back, still chanting.

    “I am the heir to the throne of this village,” he said, taking off his mask to reveal a pair of golden-yellow eyes and a savage expression. “And you are to bow to Paar.”

    “Let him go, Paploo.” Kneesaa finally managed to say something. She patted her cousin on the back and extended her gemwood sceptre towards Paar. “Greetings from the Bright Tree Village tribe, your majesty.”

    “A woman heir to the throne.” Paar spat on the ground. “Panshees. Pathetic Panshees.”

    Paar started leading the chants in a bizarre, screeching voice. He pushed Paploo out of the way, stuck the spear into the ground and placed his hands on Kneesaa’s shoulders.

    Latara finally managed to look up, only to see that the group of masked Ewoks was now forming a ring around them. Each was holding the other’s hand, and their spears were all sticking in the ground, forming a pen. There were most certainly both males and females involved, as well as older woklings.

    “Mhmhmhm!” She clenched her fist.

    One of the masked Ewoks loosened his grip.

    “Let me go!”

    They finally let her get up and approach Teebo. He was not wounded, much to her relief. And he was slowly coming round.

    “My head aches…” he barely managed to say.

    Paploo walked up to him and helped Latara help him up. With a quick glance at the locals, he whispered to both his friends. “Do not do magic! Do not pull out the firestick!”

    “Why?” Latara asked, but he showed her to be quiet. They managed to get Teebo to sit down and they splashed him with the water from Paploo’s flask.

    He looked up, still barely conscious. “You’re…not going to hurt my girlfriend and my friends…”

    One of the masked female Ewoks pointed to the group.

    “Bagraa, do you see what I see?”

    “Chak! Veeda, Dodonee, look!”

    To the foursome’s surprise, the female Ewoks in the group were giggling.

    "He looks like Rango!” One of them pulled her spear out of the ground and poked Teebo with the other end. “Same green eyes, grey and black fur. And he’s big!”

    Paar’s right ear moved upon hearing this. He stopped his ritual, much to Kneesaa’s relief, and came to examine Teebo, who was still not sure what was going on. “...with bad teeth and slouched posture. Chak, this is strange. You’re like my dad…if somebody had punched him in the face, that is."

    “Can somebody explain to us what’s going on?” Kneesaa asked timidly, taking a couple of careful steps. “Can you set us free from this enclosure?”

    Paar turned around, breathing into her face. “Chak. I am taking you to the Great Chief Votrep. All four of you.”

    “Who is Rango?” Paploo scratched his head. His question went ignored by the masked Ewoks. With spears poking their backs, the four were led in procession to the elongated hut. Inside, the furniture looked more crudely made than their own back home and there were a couple of skulls hanging from the wall.

    Ewok skulls.

    Kneesaa swallowed a lump. Then she realised that the rug she was walking on was most certainly not made of animal fur, either. She jumped back, almost impaling herself on the spear of the Ewok pushing her. The lesson of the head echoing in her ear - the lesson of the head is learned when hands do not succeed - she did her best to appear less frightened.

    Finally, she was pushed in front of the other three toward the table with thirteen Ewoks, presumably this village’s Council of Elders.

    Just like outside, everybody in this hut was wearing strange, wooden masks, slightly resembling those of the Skull Ones. The one in the middle, presumably their leader, wore a pitch black hood that hid most of his face.

    “Who are you, woman?" There was something dismissive in his tone, or so she thought.

    "I am Princess Kneesaa of the Bright Tree Village. I was tasked with bringing you the news of a large threat of a kind nobody on Endor has ever experienced. This is my cousin and personal guard, Paploo. The tall one is our…healer, Teebo and he's with his…his wife, Latara. She is a hoodmaker."

    She looked to her left, managing to catch the surprise in Teebo and Latara’s faces. The mantled Ewok was surprised.

    "Bright Tree? That is far away, to the south. Since you trekked this far, there has got to be a good reason for it. A very good reason."

    “Chak.” Kneesaa felt weak in her knees. “We are here to help you.”

    “The great Vortep does not need any help.” He stood up. “Especially not from the Panshees. This village has seen a light brighter than the Second Coming of the Starmen. Our safety is such that even the Ewoks of the Hanging Moss Village avoid us. See?” He pointed to the skulls on the wall, then rattled his strange sceptre before Kneesaa’s eyes. “And this is the spine of their best warrior.”

    The princess’ heart was racing. Were they to be skinned alive and become rugs and wall decorations, too? No roll of parchment in her father’s collection, no single thing Master Logray or even the tough Head Elder Kazak had ever made her read, nothing that she could think of contained instructions on how to handle Ewoks who killed other Ewoks. She had to think fast!

    “Chak, great Votrep.” She knelt before the black-clad chief. “I can see how powerful you are. As I have said, we have arrived here to warn you of danger, but from what you have just told me, I think I am not worthy…”

    She cast another glance at Paploo, Teebo and Latara. She did not know how to tell them that she was sorry for what she was about to do, so she just pulled a small smile.

    “…and this is why I want to join your great tribe and observe the Second Coming of the Starmen! Whoever they are! And so do my friends!”

    Paploo subtly nudged the other two. “Chak! This was clearly a s…”

    “Silence!” his guardian yelled.

    “Please, do let Paploo speak.” Kneesaa said. “His blood is royal, like mine. He has important things to say!”

    “Speak, Panshee!” Votrep pointed the bony sceptre at Paploo. Speak!”

    “This was clearly a sign! My cousin is right. After all, our friend Teebo looks like…Rango. Whoever that may have been!”

    Latara’s guardian giggled again. Votrep slammed the sceptre against the crude table.

    “I said silence and that also means you, Feda! You are clearly not following my orders.”

    “I am sorry, Great Votrep.” The guardian looked down.

    “Council?” Votrep addressed the twelve other Ewoks at the table, as if he had just remembered that they existed. “Who is going to give Feda a lesson on how a woman should behave?”

    All but one of the village elders’ hands went up. The only one who had not raised his hand was also the only Ewok close in size to Teebo, with a bird skull on top of his hood. Great Votrep pointed to the stockiest one of the eleven, the one with an eyepatch.

    “Talgo, my most faithful servant. I entrust you with this task.”

    The stocky Ewok got up, walked to Feda and removed her mask, then spat in her face. The four Panshees could only look on as he pulled her out of the hut.

    Votrep looked at Kneesaa again.

    “Give me that sceptre.” He said.

    She obliged. He proceeded to break it apart. The gemwood tree was hard. Perhaps too hard for him.

    “Great Votrep, you might as well keep that for yourself!” The Ewok with the bird skull on his hood finally spoke. “It is beautiful! Almost like something from the hands of the Starmen themselves!”

    Votrep nodded and gave up on destroying the sceptre.

    “Thank you, Jaratt. Still, white one…”

    “It’s Kneesaa!” Paploo protested, only to be poked again.

    “…even though I could not dispose of your stick, you are no longer a princess or a heir to anything here. You are to oblige to the same rules as any other unmarried woman, following the initiation to the tribe.”

    Kneesaa bit her tongue. She looked to her friends once again. She could not recall ever having seen Paploo so worried. Did he know something that she didn’t? And how?

    Paar stepped out, his mask still off. “Votrep, please remember what you promised me. In a couple of snows, if the Starmen allow, I will be the best of all warriors and you will maintain your promise. This will be my village and I am going to need a wife.” He put a hand on his heart, covered by a thick leather bib of his hood. “I hereby claim her.”

    The twelve elders burst out in laughter. One was almost snorting.

    “You want to marry a Panshee.” Votrep leaned over the table.

    “Chak.” Paar groped the white princess. “She is not stupidly slim like that other one. She will learn how to submit to me. Please, save her for me and do not have her undergo that part of the ritual.”

    Kneesaa took a deep breath. “Just listen to that sigh.” Paar ran his fingers around her neck. “One can see that nobody touched her before. Pure and white, like the snow up on the peak, where the body of the traitor resides.” He patted her on the rear. “She will give birth to beautiful woklings.”

    “I…” she managed to mutter.

    “Shut up!” Paar slapped her against her face. “Don’t you understand how it works here? You are yet to be promised to me and before that…you are no Ewok to speak of! A woman is nothing until she has been claimed!” He hit her again. “Nothing!”

    Kneesaa managed to get over the initial shock and she looked to Paploo.

    “The woman is nothing and we shall accept it,” he said. “Consider me the leader of this group until the moment you initiate us.”

    “You are a fast learner.” Paar clapped his small hands. “Even if you have that ugly, ugly Panshee face.”

    “I like him, too.” Votrep got up again. “He can join our warriors. The healer, though…”

    Teebo wanted to speak, but what he had just witnessed rendered him unable to make a sound.

    “…he needs to show us what he is capable of.” The mantled leader looked at the buck-toothed stranger. “And looking like Rango is not going to help him. Nobody was quite like your father, Paar. Nobody.” He stopped and raised his voice. “Except me. I have seen the light.”

    “T-thank you, Great Votrep.” Teebo looked down. This was not the right moment for what had just come to his mind, and he decided to remain submissive.

    “And your woman…” Votrep looked to Latara. “What about her?”

    “She is in m-my charge, chak.” Teebo pulled Latara close to him, twisting her arm. “My woman, she w-will behave.”

    Latara nodded. “I will behave!” and attempted to add something else, but Teebo put his hand over her mouth and picked her up.

    “They are all fast learners, Great Votrep.” Paar concluded.

    “That’s right, young one. Jaratt?” Votrep looked to the tallest of his Ewoks.

    “Chak?”

    “Take them to the main square firepit and have them sit there all day! Have somebody bring them food and water. Tonight they will learn about the Starmen and become the first Panshees we have conquered and converted. And all they had to do was come to us. We did not even have to attack them!”




    Footnotes
    In case this was not clear: Paar is the same unnamed Ewok from the prologue, Rango's son. Of course, he’s a couple of years older here.

    Reep is an aranchid native to Endor. It appears in the Ewoks episode The Land of the Gupins, but for some reason, there is no Wook page for it.

    I refer to the Ibleam aka Endor-1 and Endor-2 in plural. The Legends name is cooler, but the Legends made a mistake of listing it as a single star, while it's clearly two stars, even in the cartoon. So, I use Ibleam as an Ewokese name for the stars, but yes, there is two of them.


    The statement on Gondula villages being the stilt ones is deliberate.
     
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  22. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Wow, I think I know why everyone avoids this part of Endor... too bad they've run afoul of this bunch of charming people. o_O Kneesaa had some good points about why it made sense to go into that village, but I can't say I didn't have a bad feeling about it. And things seem to have gone pear-shaped quickly, though thankfully the Evil Village doesn't seem to have a lot of skill in detecting people's true motives (falling for the flattery hook, line, and sinker, I see), and the group is definitely at least able to improvise. Still, it doesn't look good for them.
     
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  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow—we go here directly from that sweet starkissed glow of Teebo and Latara's love scene to some of the darkest, most sinister territory that's come up in your Ewok oeuvres so far. Many red flags here in this Twin Lakes village: the initial abandoned look of the place, seemingly on purpose (and great job with that description)—the whole "ambushing as a way to greet visitors" approach—the masks—the creepy misogyny—and the cultish talk about the Starmen, whoever those might be (and I have a guess or two...). The fact that Teebo looks like this mysterious Rango—a name I recall from your prologue—is something I'll file away in my head, because that obviously was an important figure in this village (and also a shaman, as I recall).

    I already admired Kneesaa, but this chapter has sent my esteem for her through the roof. In the face of Votrep's taunts and Paar's immensely creepy advances (the rear pat plus the woklings comment—shuddddderrrrrrr!!) she exhibits steadfastness, courage, and grace in spades, even as she trembles inside. But she also seems to have some sort of plan in mind for how to win the respect of these Gondulas—and quite an ambitious plan, it seems, since its first step is basically to join them and be "conquered and converted" by them! :eek: Part of me is all like, "I sure hope she knows what she's doing"—but hey, this is Kneesaa we're talking about, so I'm pretty sure she does. :cool: That Paar had better watch himself.

    Various observations, in no particular order:

    —The masks that look like the helmets of the Skull Ones seem significant; that turns the cultish vibe of this village into a decidedly cargo-cultish vibe, or the GFFA equivalent thereof. These are deep, dark waters here!
    —Some details about Twin Lakes: it's manifestly not the typical Gondula village if it's not built right in the middle of the lake, and I can't help but wonder whether that's related to the cultish atmosphere of the place somehow, and if so, in what way. Ditto the design of the one hut that's longer (but not really bigger) than the others.
    —Feda: I really don't like the looks of what they may be about to do to her to "show her how a woman should behave"—it really doesn't look like they stop with unmasking her and spitting in her face. [face_nail_biting]
    —Paploo shines in this chapter too, in his way. He may be a hotshot flyboy most of the time, but he shows some quick thought and real bravery here (insert my favorite quote about things worth saving from the fire ;) ). This advice he gives the others not to use firesticks or magic also seems very significant; he seems to know something about the place that the others don't, though what he says is almost certainly related to what Teebo says earlier about the village's heretical disbelief in magic.
    —Latara clearly has a lot to learn if she thinks one little romantic experience with Teebo has transformed her into an adult. :p And just as in the previous chapter, it's cool how the two meanings come together and then take on yet another dimension as Teebo mentions the one particular falling star he noticed (another thing I'm mentally filing away).
    —"Twin Lakes" could almost be an homage to "Twin Peaks"—smallish, isolated community with a dark secret, that sort of thing. :cool:

    Waiting on tenterhooks to see how our four friends get out of this one—they may have come to warn this village of "a large threat of a kind nobody on Endor has ever experienced," but it sounds like they themselves may be in for some dangers of a kind they've never experienced! :eek:
     
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  24. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Responding bit by bit, because the bus is shaky, I don't know how to use a touchpad and my internet keeps on going off. If anybody cares, I just passed by the site of this horrific crime...and some couple of kilometres later, they're building an impressive-looking highway. o_O

    Thank you so much for reading, everybody. <3




    Wait, you think many folks lived enough to tell the others about that part of Endor? Now, that's interesting. :eek: JK, let's see what happens next.

    And yes, one could say that the evil village is not inhabited by the smartest Ewoks around. Not at all. They're more primitive than your average Endorean sentient and they might be intimidating, but there is not much more to it, really...

    I wanted it to start out the way the previous chapter ended - in love and serenity. And then, odd things would go on a crescendo that starts out as naive (Latara's belief that making love makes one an adult) and ends up disturbing and bizarre (the scene in the long hut that appears to be the Twin Lakers' Council Hut). Hope that worked right and that it made sense.

    The Twin Lakes Village is obviously sinister. And their social norms are...not much to begin with.

    Regarding the prologue - time to read it again, I guess - I recommend that to everybody who's reading this. :)

    (coming up)

    Next chapter should explain that one - [hl=black]sounds like you're very close...[/hl]

    (coming up)

    *shivers* <--- this is an understatement.

    Love the Paploo-Han comparison. I always thought they were kinda similar, but I never dared to say it out loud. But what the heck, now I'm saying it. Two risk lovers, right there.

    He literally saved everybody else with his Oscar-worthy performance. But there might be more to it. Time to put your thinking cap on - same for others who are reading and who feel like guessing what's next. :D

    They're often shades of grey, but this time, Latara is wrong and Teebo is right - as simple as that.

    [hl=black]That's a good idea, to fill that one away...though the answer may not be evident where one would expect it...[/hl]

    Did not think of that while writing, but it absolutely makes sense. Good one!

    Prepare yourself mentally - it's only going to get MORE sinister. :eek:
     
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  25. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    10. The Starmen

    Tags: glitteryboots Rau_Fang (ask to be added)

    Many thanks to Findswoman for beta-reading and pointing out what should go to footnotes.

    TRIGGER WARNING:
    Hints of offscreen rape, blood, sinister rituals.




    Once the Sistermoon had peeked from behind the summit of Skaadra Mountain again, the Ewoks of the Twin Lakes Village marched to the smaller lake with the four strangers walking before them, each guarded by a red hood-wearing larger warrior. Still, even these four skilled guardians appeared to be smaller than the tallest in the group of newcomers, the one who bore a striking resemblance to the Great Rango of Arankoo. Unlike their legendary chief who was, as they were told, killed by his jealous healer, this one did not look like he could lead a tribe. And – what seemed the strangest of all to Votrep and his two henchmen – he was a healer himself, or so he claimed to be. This was just one of the many things they had to deal with. What mattered far more than that was to take the tree-related beliefs out of the Panshees’ minds – no matter what it would take.

    And the Panshees themselves were more than aware of that.

    When they came under the luscious crown of the large tree separating the forest from the narrow passage leading to their home, the marching villagers stopped. The four guardians stepped out, pushing their prisoners before them.

    “This is the only tree that matters to us, for the Starmen had said so.” Votrep pointed to the reepweb of thick branches above him. “This is the tree the greatest of the great before me had died underneath. Rango of Arankoo!”

    He abruptly stopped and snarled, pointing at the broken branch.

    “Somebody broke the lowest branch on Rango’s sacred tree!” Jaratt looked up in surprise. “Whoever this was, may the Great Votrep never find out about you.” He cast a threatening glance at the hundred or so Ewoks who stood behind him. They all carried torches, the tops of which were covered in slow-burning lake-moss.

    Teebo and Latara looked at each other, terrified about who might be blamed for the damage the flutist caused during their passionate first mating. How could a loving night like that ever have been be succeeded by a hate-drenched day like this?

    “Follow me.” Jaratt told the frightened Panshees.

    Their enforcers poking them with tips of the wooden spears, the four Ewoks were made to sit in the middle of a circle he drew in the sand. Paar then joined them, taking his place next to Kneesaa.

    “I have to be a part of this if I want to claim my woman,” he explained to a confused Paploo as he pushed him to the other side of the circle, halfway over to Teebo and Latara. “I am a great warrior.”

    Now, where did Paploo hear that before? Oh, chak, Wicket used to repeat that about himself all day, every day, for a couple of moons – to everybody. It was impossible to forget.

    Jaratt proceeded to adjust the placement of the four. He pushed Latara’s head into Teebo’s lap, while Paar pushed Kneesaa’s into his own. Paploo looked on. He always thought he was a bit callow and he never aimed to be like Teebo, but these Ewoks were worse than Duloks. Why didn’t these Gondolas seem to understand that female Ewoks were as capable as males?

    Votrep, now wearing a different mask and a longer hood, walked into the middle of the circle. Jaratt stepped out and walked to the group of guardians who were now holding Feda. The guardians pushed the woman ahead and she crawled clumsily toward him.

    “She…she was…” Teebo whispered to Latara, but she could not hear him. “Oh, no!”

    “Blood of the unfaithful?” Votrep demanded.

    “Blood of the unfaithful!” Jaratt pulled Feda toward himself and cut her across her thigh. Blood sprinkled from her leg.

    “What are they doing, honeydrop?” Latara looked discreetly up for a moment. “Why is she bleeding?”

    “She was already bleeding when she came here.” Teebo shook his head.

    “W…what?” She tried to ask, but quickly stopped, as Jaratt was now pushing Feda. She took a whole lap around them, barely managing it, bleeding a new, red circle in the rut where the Elder had previously dragged it.

    Kneesaa tried to stick her head deeper into Paar’s lap. She could not bear to watch. But the young heir hit her on the chin.

    “Look, you weakling! Look, this is your initiation, not mine! My wife has to deserve me, after all.”

    She nodded and her eyes met Votrep’s. He pulled her up.

    “Fur of the pure?” he asked.

    “Fur of the pure.” He answered himself and pulled a couple of hairs from Kneesaa’s muzzle, stuffing them into Paar’s mouth. The young warrior chewed them and spat them out.

    “Pure.” He nodded in agreement. “I claim this woman to be the future wife of the Chief of the Twin Lakes Village, the Brave Paar.”

    Votrep put a hand to his nose. This did not escape Paploo’s keen eye. Nor did the fact that Kneesaa was not even asked to confirm this.

    “This woman is now the future wife of the Brave Paar. Nobody else may claim her, or they will be sacrificed to the Starmen.”

    Following this, all villagers began to chant, repeating Votrep’s words in a singsong voice.

    “Aaaaaeeeyeuh.”

    “Aaaaaeeeyeuh.”

    “We, the humble servants of the Starmen, seedlings of the stars led by Great Votrep...”

    “We, the humble servants of the Starmen, seedlings of the stars led by Great Votrep…”

    “…ask for the mercy of the Greatest of Them All, for we are accepting the four sinners, heretics into our tribe, without his consent…”

    “…ask for the mercy of the Greatest of Them All, for we are accepting the four sinners, heretics into our tribe, without his consent…”

    As if that word mattered here at all, Paploo thought to himself.

    “…and hope that he will prove that our decision to show them mercy was right.”

    “…and hope that he will prove that our decision to show them mercy was right.”

    Mercy? Paploo looked at Feda, who was now lying on the ground, not showing any signs of life.

    “We want to show them the way of the Starmen, the only right way to be. The only right way for an Ewok to lead his life and command his woman to do the same.”

    “We want to show them the way of the Starmen, the only right way to be. The only right way for an Ewok to lead his life and command his woman to do the same.”

    “May He show us forgiveness or, if we are wrong, may He come along and take away these four foundlings.”

    “May He show us forgiveness or, if we are wrong, may He come along and take away these four foundlings.”

    “Hail to the Starmen! Hail to the Starmen! Hail to the Starmen!”

    “Hail to the Starmen! Hail to the Starmen! Hail to the Starmen!”

    “The trace they leave is the dried blood of our enemies!”

    “The trace they leave is the dried blood of our enemies!”

    The masked choir went silent. They rubbed their torches in the sand to put them out. Votrep exited the circle. The first step he made, he left a trace of blood in the sand. He turned his back to the Bright Tree Village Ewoks and, with his hands up in the air, he addressed his people.

    “You may show them your faces.”

    The group was still reluctant. The first Ewok to take the mask off was a young female, wearing a green hood with two sewn-on dark-pink wooden stars on the left and right. She cast a nervous glance at the unfaithful woman, who was doing her best to appear more exhausted than she really was. With the mask now hanging around her neck by a small string of leather rope, she bowed to the village leader and managed an awkward grin.

    Votrep then took off his own mask. His facial fur had been completely shaved off and the greyish wrinkled skin beneath was covered with white powder. He had a crooked nose, the longest the group had ever seen on an Ewok. His eyes were as black as his mantle, his pupils not clearly distinguishable from the rest.

    “That’s one ugly Ewok.” Latara mumbled to herself. “And what’s with the shaved face? There clearly is no accounting for taste. That is not the way to apply that powder…” She sighed. Strange were her ways of encouraging herself sometimes.

    Slowly, most of the villagers took their masks off. Votrep came back into the circle, this time skipping over the remaining dried blood.

    “You may come out of the Circle of Initiation now.” He said. “And tell us your names. Paar’s bride goes first, since she is used to being the first.”

    “Kneesaa.”

    “The warrior?”

    “Paploo.”

    “The other woman?”

    “Latara.”

    The leader of the tribe stopped for a moment as his eyebrows peeked from underneath the black hood. “The alleged healer?”

    “Teebo.”

    “I still must test you.” Votrep showed the large Ewok to follow him. “The last time we had a dedicated healer, he betrayed the entire tribe. We have to make sure you are not going to do the same.” He led Teebo to the unconscious Feda. “If she lives, you are a skilled healer.”

    The green-capped female Ewok took one step forward; somebody in the group pulled her back and scolded her.

    Teebo sat down. Feda had lost a lot of blood and he could not do anything without using his magic, the same magic that he had already used to save the life of the Grass Trekker some days earlier. Luckily, unlike Mring-Mring and the Gupins, these Ewoks were most certainly not familiar with any kind of magic. Still, he found himself swallowing lumps. The crowd looking at him could have contained somebody as capable of magic as he was, but willing to tell on him.

    Still, this poor creature needed to be saved. He examined her. She had a wound in her thigh, the one Votrep had cut in order to have her draw a circle with her dripping blood, but close to it, he spotted another.

    He dragged his hand into the satchel. Shadowroot? No. Bug bite antidote? No. Maknaa-Miin-Tii? No. Finally, his nimble fingers found just what he needed – a small leather sack filled with mushroom powder, the only non-magical ingredient he carried around. A plain spice. He sprinkled some of it into a larger flask full of water and helped the injured Ewok female sit up.

    “Arandee, Feda. You’re going to drink this and your wounds will be healed.”

    He spoke slowly. She managed to open her eyes for a moment and give him a barely noticeable nod. Coughing between sips, she swallowed about a glassful of the concoction, as much as she could with Teebo’s large hand pressed against her forehead.

    “You drunk this and your wounds were healed.” Teebo took a deep breath. “I have the best concoction for healing those who lost a lot of blood. This drink is the best one can find in the forest.”

    With those words, Feda felt the blood flow through her veins again. Her wounds were no longer bleeding. The energy coming through the unknown Ewok’s hand seemed to be more powerful than the drink he gave her, but he claimed that it was what he just mixed up.

    “And just a tiny, tiny bit of this. It’s for strength.” Teebo had her open her mouth one more time, for a couple of drops of Blue Fire from the tiny flask around his neck. “With this, you are not going to have…any…unexpected…problems.”

    Feda grabbed him by the shoulder. He could feel her clawing him, but he continued. He was doing his best to show her that he was not her enemy, that he did not intend to punish her the way the Ewok with the eye patch presumably did earlier that day. Moreover, he wanted her to forget that nightmare.

    “Nobody hurt you today. You’re wonderful and you do not deserve to be hurt by anybody.” By this point, Teebo was whispering. “And I did not tell you any of this. You can get up and go home now.”

    “Goopa.” She finally let go and looked up. “Rango? Have I died and gone away with the Starmen?”

    Teebo smiled. “No, I’m not Rango. You are alive.”

    He helped her up. The crowd remained silent and surprised. The green-hooded youngling put both her hands over her mouth. Was this enough to convince Votrep and his henchmen of anything?

    “How did you do it?” Jaratt finally broke the silence. “I hope you did not use evil tree magic.”

    Teebo did his best to appear as innocent as he could. “W…what evil tree magic?”

    “It’s trees that channel worst possible kind of magic.” Jaratt crossed his arms. At first he did not dare to look into the newcomer’s piercing green eyes, but something was telling him to. “And Panshees practice it, the evil tree magic. We know. And we renounce it. It is against our beliefs.”

    “I did not use any kind of magic.” Teebo was speaking slowly, looking straight into Jaratt’s eyes.

    Votrep’s henchman seemed about to to disagree at first, but then he heard himself say something completely different. “You did not use any kind of magic.”

    “I am not an enemy of the Starmen.”

    “You are not an enemy of the Starmen.” Jaratt nodded and looked at Votrep.

    Teebo sat down on the ground next to Latara. He was not sure what kind of Ewoks would outright deny magic, but he never felt more thankful to the Soul Trees for having chosen not to reveal himself as a wizard apprentice. His girlfriend, sitting to his left, gave him a knowing look, as did Kneesaa who, still frightened by her new role, walked away from the pensive Paar and sat to Teebo’s right.

    Paploo, however, had different things on his mind.

    “So, can you tell us who the Starmen are?” He addressed Jaratt and Votrep again. “Now that we’re a part of your tribe, we are looking forward to…learning all about it.”

    Jaratt’s previously neutral facial expression changed to a smile.

    “I like you. I really do.” He patted Paploo on the shoulder. “You asked before we even began to tell you about it. Then again…it’s not like anybody before you ever lived to ask.”

    He gestured to the other villagers and they all sat down.

    “A couple of snows ago, our great, handsome and brave chief Rango died at the hand of his ugly little helper Mechett, leaving behind his young son, Paar. Our Head Elder, Ooba, was designated to rule the village, but he died in his sleep, out of sadness for Rango.”

    Kneesaa took a quick look around. The expressions on the villagers’ faces upon hearing Rango’s name were hard to describe – and she had certainly never seen anybody behave like that when Father spoke of the chiefs that came before him.

    Jaratt continued his story. “Chak, it was a dark time for our village. The Voggs were getting more and more aggressive every moon and we knew that we needed protection, but how were we to have it without a chief like Rango?” He paused and looked up to the sky. “And that was when the Starmen came. Great Votrep had predicted their coming. He has the kind of powers no Ewok is born with and the Starmen speak through him…”

    “What’s a Vogg?” Latara asked Teebo, who just shrugged. This was the first time she had seen him unable to answer a question about what must have been either a tribe or a creature.

    “…and we now know how to defend ourselves from the Voggs and protect ourselves. We have done away with the evil tree magic and we rely only on the power that Great Votrep channels, straight from the Starmen.”

    It was only then that Votrep joined the conversation again. His eyes had been closed the entire time his minion had been speaking him.

    “The longer you are here, the more you will learn about the ways of the Starmen.” He said. “But do not expect to understand things that are beyond your simple minds. For only I can speak to the Starmen.” He pointed to a surprised Paploo and it seemed like his boney finger froze between the newcomer’s eyes. “Perhaps the gifted ones like you, who are capable at adapting to our ways, will sometime become as great as I am.”

    “How about me?” Paar interrupted him.

    “You have so much to learn, young heir of Ara
    nkoo. You don’t even keep your mask on when we all do!”

    “Arandee, he is not wearing one himself.” Paar was now pointing to Paploo, too. “Can I learn whatever he knows?” The small Ewok put his hands on his hips. “After all, he is now a future member of my family. He is to give the one that is white as snow to me.”

    Votrep gave a subtle nod and finally put his hand down, while Jaratt snorted. Paploo tilted his head for a moment. What kind of a heir was this when they mocked him this way?

    “I can see that you too are aware of everything that is wrong with Paar, Paploo.” Jaratt showed the Panshee to follow him. The rest of the villagers were slowly getting up from the grass. “That is yet another thing I like about you. You will go far. Great Votrep is right!”

    As everybody was slowly heading towards the village, the green-hooded Ewok who had been the first to take off her mask walked up to Teebo and Latara.

    "Goopa, I'm Veevee." She shook their hands, looking at them with a pair of rather small conifer-leaf-coloured eyes. “Thank you for saving my mother. I am now indebted to you, g’wan Teebo.”

    “I didn’t.” Teebo shook his head, partly from fear of being discovered, partly from not knowing what a “g’wan” could have meant. He was doing his best not to look surprised.

    “You did. I saw it. And I am not telling them.” Veevee crossed her little arms. “I don’t care if it was forbidden, my mother would have died had she waited for the Shamed One to seek her tonight.”

    “What’s a Vogg?” Latara asked, but Veevee had already walked away.

    Paar remained seated on the ground until the very last villager had got up. Then he kissed, clinched his fists and ran after the group, who had found each other in the crowd again in the meantime; Jaratt had finally let Paploo go.

    “I will lead the four of you to your hut. My mother, Esa” – he pointed to one of the more suspicious-looking Ewoks who still had mask on their faces – “she will bring you some food and the other women will bring the rest. Paploo, do take good care of my bride. Until it’s the time for me to marry her, she is under your club. And do club her if necessary, as much as you think you should.”

    “R-right. Chak.” Paploo gave him his most convincing look.




    Footnotes
    Veevee is a character created by glitteryboots in early 2015. She sent me a wonderful drawing of a young female Ewok indicating that it's me and that I'm a writer and a friend of Teebo's. Her appearance matches the one seen in her drawing.
     
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