Chapter 21: New Beginnings
The encampment was lively with the troops and the tribesmen mingling a few days afterward. Though they had their differences, they always stood by each other. That was the scene that Obi-wan saw when he made his way through the encampment for the umpteenth time trying to find Andros, Miklos Anakin, anyone that wasn’t from Avalon, at least in terms of being Jedi. Actually he had been trying to find Ashira who seemed to be avoiding everyone lately.
This was the third day of rebuilding of the cities and quenching the fires that raged through them. It also happened to coincide with the festival celebrated yearly, the Festival of New Beginnings, as was translated. That was the reason for the celebration going on in the Haida encampment. It seemed better to hold it there since there were less memories of the ravaging done to the cities and the medicine healers claimed it to be a good location. So the great bonfires and the indabas were set up to allow for dancing and the retelling of the old stories. Looking at it, it looked as if the war never reached Avalon.
Obi-wan was walking through looking when he found Miklos and Andros with Anakin being detained by the Bushida warriors that guarded the capital city at Xao Lin. They were demanding a detailed account of the space battle that had happened. It was something the Jedi would have discouraged, the reveling in the battle and the victory. The Jedi way was to calmly accept that which had come. The Avalonians didn’t see it that way.
Though it was strange, the Avalonians believed that by sharing tales of exploits, they were sharing knowledge. They believed and saw, in the case of the Elders, that battles repeat themselves though under different circumstances. Whereas the Mandalorians saw the glory, they saw the lessons within them. It also gave a sense of appreciation for those that gave their lives willingly in battle. Combined with their philosophical teachings that were similar to the Jedi teachings but differed in areas that would have probably given the older masters a heart attack, it produced a people who saw something in the smallest of things. It also produced people that were annoyingly perceptive. Though they were different, Obi-wan and a few other Jedi understood beyond the level of diplomacy because they grew up with it. Because she taught it to us, he thought as he turned away to let the three tell their tale.
Passing more indabas, Obi-wan gave up and decided to walk to the paddocks. Daranka had been feeling depressed because he couldn’t find his master. He perked a bit when he saw Obi-wan and trotted to meet him at the fence. Obi-wan saw him and gave him a pat and a rub on the head and leaned against the fence to gaze at the river. The wolf just lay at his feet and whimpered slightly. “You miss her don’t you?” Obi-wan asked the wolf. “I do too and I feel like an idiot for being angry at her. You know she is guilty of nothing except for trying to do what she thought was right.”
“Kind words Master Jedi. I hope she has heard them herself.” The voice was soft in the darkness. The figure moved into the light to reveal Selene.
Obi-wan didn’t turn but instead replied, “You planning on following me everywhere?”
“Just coming to tell you that the Council called. They want you to report in the morning.” Selene turned to leave when she stopped and said, “By the way, she doesn’t want to go back.”
That produced the desired result. Obi-wan turned to face Selene and asked, “What?”
“Ashira-Li doesn’t want to return to the Jedi. What is so hard about that?”
“That is not like her. She has always faced the Council’s judgment like how one of your Bushida warriors faces death.” Obi-wan was confused and surprised at this development.
Selene was not moved by the reaction. She hated being the messenger even more than disliking her gifts to sense through emotion. She was even more annoyed that the Jedi in front of her didn’t get the big picture. She responded with more calm than she felt, “That may be true now but maybe that has changed and she has her reasons.”
“Reasons like the fact that I have broken her by shunning her when she did nothing to deserve it. Or how about the fact that she may be blaming herself for Siri’s death when she had nothing to do with that?” Obi-wan matched his composure with hers. He was clearly tired of the mental games that Avalonians played. It made them worse than the Jedi in certain situations. “Tell me if I am wrong.”
Selene looked thoughtfully for a moment. Her Mandalorian half wanted to draw her sword and start a fight. Her Avalonian half stayed her hand. She responded, “I don’t know but maybe you should ask her.” She turned and walked away.
“I would if I knew where she was,” Obi-wan called back. Seeing that he wasn’t going to get an answer he turned back to face the river. He knew he was going to have to tell the Council.
“What do you mean she won’t be coming back?” Master Windu’s face looked rather surprised a bit but he recovered his composure quickly.
“I can only tell you what has been told to me,” Obi-wan responded. It had not gone well at all. First had been the usual business of reporting that the siege of Belos had been ended and the one who coordinated the attack was dead. When Obi-wan mentioned that Ashira-Li wouldn’t be returning, it filled the room with surprise though from Miklos and Andros, it was a mild surprise.
“Disturbing this news is yet to be expected,” Yoda replied. “Feels she does that she must leave but why? Harder to answer.”
“Do you have any idea what may have led to this decision?” Master Windu asked.
“No Master.” It was a lie but Obi-wan was uncertain if he even knew that was the truth. “It was a surprise when one of the warriors spoke to me.”
“Find her you must Obi-wan. Question her, we will.”
“The others will return to Coruscant,” Master Windu added. “May the Force be with you.”
“Yes master,” they all answered in unison.
They left the main hold of the Ebon Hawk to head towards the loading ramp. Anakin sensed that his master wanted to speak to the twins alone so he hurried away. He was slightly disappointed that he wouldn’t be going to find Master Ashira but he could see that it was probably better if Obi-wan did. They knew each other since they were younglings themselves. He only hoped that it wasn’t true what Obi-wan said about her not wanting to go back to the Order.
“You both are not surprised that she would refuse to return to the Temple.” Obi-wan was asking the twins.
“We don’t know her true reasons but we understand to a degree why,” Miklos replied.
“Then maybe you could explain,” Obi-wan retorted.
“That is not our reason to tell,” Miklos responded.
“More of that ‘have to ask her’ reasoning? You know for once I wish you would stop the verbal circles. It can be frustrating.” It wasn’t an angry response. Rather it had a ring of defeat in it.
“You don’t know what it’s like do you?” Andros replied softy. “To know what it’s like to walk by her quarters and hear her whimper because of nightmares. To watch her wander the halls late into the night looking for something that can’t be found.” Andros looked at Obi-wan who was gazing at him with a look of surprise. He continued softly, “She is merely trying to make a new beginning for herself. Maybe you should too.”