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Old 05-26-2006, 10:19 PM   #17
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Chapter 9: Fate and Coincidence
Miklos and Andros were having a hard time of it. They had been trying to keep the troops from figuring out that Ashira was not there. They were successful in part that they always were careful to say that orders were relayed from their adopted sister. Andros was worried about the command but more so about his sister. Miklos was concerned as well but not just for her safety but her state of mind. They never talked about it unless it was heavy on their minds. Miklos was the first to bring up the need to inform Obi-wan. Andros refused to point blank only because he knew more than Miklos on certain details. After that, Miklos never brought it up again. He was certain that his brother knew something and decided to let him run with it.

Reports to the council on Coruscant were draining in of themselves. The whole council was never present, only Masters Windu and Yoda. They never demanded to know if she had made contact but they were concerned. Andros did suggest that he contact anyone she might have known on Belos to find out. Yoda, concerned for his old padawan said that it would only incite anxiety and that was something to avoid in these troubled times. The last meeting ended the same as always with Andros and Miklos asking each other what to do. It also differed in that Anakin would be arriving to help.

Dragus was observing the valley below at the herds of kataran. His face had a grin of pleasure. Count Dooku was with him looking at the herds. Dooku was the first to speak, “How much longer will it be? My master is becoming impatient.”

“The only tribe standing in our way is the Haida tribe. The queen Moira Landstar is too stubborn for her own good. She poses no threat as her leadership is starting to crumble. Commander Trask is moving his fleet into position to begin the siege of Belos. Soon Belos will fall and all hope of Avalon having a strong backing for the Republic will be blasted into oblivion.”

“Yet you are hiding something.”

“Who says that nowadays? What I do in the process of conquer in private is what it is , private. Besides, I am not sure you want to know who a specified target is.”

“More likely not. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the general plan.”

“It won’t. The herders are becoming weaker in their daily beatings. The only way to ruin a perfectly conceived plan is if somehow Moira’s precious white wolf blows up that wall,” and Dragus directed Dooku into the conference room to iron out details and explain certain roles to be played.

The day promised to be a pleasant one as Ashira motioned for Daranka to get on the raft. They were going to attempt to take the raft downstream to see if any of the tribes were remaining. For Lilah, she was seeking out the white wolf. Her mother had painted a seal on her and told her that if she looked for the wolf, he would guide her. So here she was traveling along the river, following the weaverbird that had appeared. She wasn’t sure if she should dare to believe or not but that changed as she neared the waterwheel at the old mill.

The rapids were not easy to navigate and only got harder as Ashira fought to keep it steady. She tried to keep Daranka calm when a sudden rush of water overturned the raft spilling them both into the river. Daranka was able to keep his head up and began to swim towards Ashira to help her. Ashira was struggling, trying to make it to shore when they were both swept over the waterfall. Daranka was the first one to surface.

Lilah saw the wolf struggling in the river and ran down the shore trying to keep up with its struggling form. As she neared the waterwheel, she saw the wolf go under. Following the current, she noticed a woman sticking her head out of the water and pulling herself to the shore. On the silky beach, she collapsed and fell unconscious. Lilah was stunned that she didn’t know whether or not to believe it. Her instincts took hold as she pulled the girl away from the water and tried to dry her off.

She built a fire from the local brush and burned a special plant that gave off a sweet smell to clear the lungs. Lilah began to sing a song that her mother had taught her and the one that she learned from the healer woman. She looked at the sleeping girl who was sweating out her fever. For a long time, she was looking at her. She could not decide whether or not to believe in the legend of the white wolf. She saw the change however and decided that the spirits if the earth and sky still sent signs to the people. She was willing to believe in the power of the legend but she was unsure whether or not this girl would be the one to find the kataran herds. If her mother said it would be so, then she would believe.

Ashira drifted between the dream world and the real world in her bout with fever. At one point she was sure she heard a gentle voice singing. She opened her eyes slightly to see a young woman looking at her and singing while feeding the fire with a sweet smelling plant. She breathed in a smell that went straight to her lungs. Closing her eyes, she drifted into a restless sleep. She dreamed dreams of her memories. She saw them as if they were real and had a hard time waking up to end them. It was a restless night until she finally fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning, Ashira awoke to find herself on a small canoe heading up one of the small forks of the river. She realized that the woman she saw the night before was real when she saw her paddling the canoe. Taking care of her position, she asked her, “Who are you? Where am I?”

Lilah wasn’t sure on whether or not to respond. Taking a chance, she spoke, “I gave you your life back. You will meet my, mother, the leader of our tribe.”

Trying to collect her thoughts, it dawned on Ashira that the woman might mean the Haida tribe, Siri’s tribe. Trying gain to be pleasant, she responded, “I thank you. May I know who you are?”

“Lilah, the princess apparent.”

They said nothing more until Lilah beached the canoe on the rocky each where her tribe was settled. Lilah jumped out immediately while Ashira took her time to absorb her surroundings. She paid attention when Moira approached and asked her daughter, “You have returned. Who is this that stands before us?”

“I bring the white wolf, Mother,” Lilah responded.

Moira had recognized the strange woman as the one from her dreams. She asked the woman, “What is your name?”

Ashira responded, “Ashira-Li Starlighter. What do you mean the white wolf?”

“I saw the change Mother,” Lilah voiced, “The wolf went under the water, she came back up. There is no doubt that this is the person that we seek.”

“Wait. No one changed into anything. The wolf is my friend. He is the hunter,” Ashira spoke a bit confused as to what they were meaning.

Moira saw this woman did not know that the spirits of the earth and sky sent her here. She spoke softly, “You say the wolf is your friend. He must have guided you here. You have been chosen to help the tribes of Belos from their suffering. You will stay with us,” and she beckoned Ashira to follow her.

Ashira followed Moira into the main hut where she was motioned to sit. Moira sat across from her. She studied Ashira carefully putting the name with the face. She had heard of Ashira and here she was meeting her for the first time. Moira smiled at Ashira and said, “I know this is a source of confusion but I will try to explain to you. For many months all the tries have been starving for the herds of kataran have not returned from the mountains to graze. We of the Haida tribe believe in the spirit of Nekang, the white wolf, the one who can locate the herds and guide them to the people. Nekang also guides our people. We believe that Nekang has returned to us in you.”

“How can that be? I am just a Jedi who doesn’t belong anywhere,” Ashira countered.

“You make friends with the wolf. You ran the paths he ran. How can that not justify who you are?”

“Coincidence milady,” Ashira responded. She wasn’t normally skeptical but it didn’t seem right.

“Young one, there is a fine line between coincidence and faith. Most of the tribe has lost their faith. I hope you don’t lose yours particularly if it is what you call the Force Master Jedi.”

“I…I just don’t know if that I am the one you should be placing your faith in. I came here to find the tribe of my sister and inform them of her death.”

“Who is this sister? We may know of her tribe.”

“Siri Tachi, a fellow Jedi Knight,” Ashira replied with a slightly deflated tone.

Moira knew her for she was the one who had sent for help. She spoke in a gentle way, “Another of our sisters has walked the road to the Great Beyond. May she go in peace.”

“I am sorry,” Ashira responded.

“There is no need. You have courage and the loyalty of the wolf. You are who Nekang is. Someday you will see this. For now, you will stay with us. In the morning, we will show you to the trading post so you may contact your friends. You will sleep in my house. Sleep well Nekang. Remember, there is a fine line between coincidence and faith,” and Moira left Ashira to think.

Ashira didn’t know how long she stayed in the hut but she did remember that someone brought her something for a meal. She had accepted but ate little. She ate just enough to appreciate the gesture but left enough to feed the children. She then laid down on a deer hide near the back of the hut and fell asleep, thinking about what Moira said about faith and coincidence.

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