Clothes and armor rested neatly on a marbled stone this early morning. A lightsaber nestled into the top of the clothes. The lush forested jungle echoed with the call of life. Footsteps paced along the ridge, following the path of the falls to their end, where a man stood. The grey mist lifted his spirits and the deafening roar created by the water crashing into the pool below calmed his nerves. The sounds of war could not reach him here.
Then there was a stillness. Foreign. Confused. Hurt. Pain. Release.
He jolted to his senses… He was wrong. War could reach him here.
His lightsaber flew through the air eager to meet his hand, but just as the saber-hilt touched his fingertips, it lurched away.
He followed his saber’s path to the shade of a bush.
“You’re off your game, Jedi.” called a female voice. She stepped from the shade into the open. “Or are you a Jedi?”
The man stood still, looking at her with calm, calculating eyes.
She sighed. “I can feel you searching. You may try. Though you may not like what you find.”
He closed his eyes. More pain. Confusion. Hatred. Love. Grief. His eyes winced. He watched her memories play before him. A man, quiet moments, laughs, tears, resolution, betrayal, a saber flash, emptiness.
“His name was Tian.” She offered, tears stifled by her voice. “He was… …special… …to me.”
He opened his eyes and looked at her. His gaze betrayed no emotion… but it was piercing, gentle, forgiving, and foreboding. His dark brown eyes found hers. She froze with anticipation.
“I am Kourou Kaminoko, also known as Rou.” He said. “You have experienced much and risked all to find me… why have you come?”
“Yet you know that will not sate the pain.”
She crumbled inside. Her brows arched slightly, betraying her acknowledgement. She deflected. “Your saber. I have never seen one like it.” She ran her thumb over the woven branches and vines that formed the hilt casing. She could feel the life flowing inside it.
“My people showed me… before the Jedi found me.” He answered. Nodding to the saber, he continued, “They sense the emotion of the wearer and... amplify it, if you will.” He stretched his arm out and the saber lifted from her hand. She resisted, wrestling to keep the saber in her grasp, but it left her all the same.
He held his saber lightly, inspecting it. “Mari`atu, won’t you come sit by the falls? I sense you have much you want to talk about.”
She balked. How did he know her name? She had been so careful to guard her memories, to only let the ones she wanted him to see be known. She trembled at the knowledge that he had let her pull his saber away from him. Who was he?
He stood there in his shorts, pushed his lightsaber through the air to where his armor lay and watched her. Her hands twitched on her sabers. “You have strength, Mari, in the force. But you are hindered at knowing it. Raw power can serve as well as this waterfall, unbridled, able to carve rock and mold it to its will.” Then he lifted his hand and a thin stream of the water shot out like a beam from the waterfall. He used it to trim off a stray branch hanging precariously over the falls, then let the water fall again to the pool below. “But learn to focus it, manage it and the power given you is magnified exponentially.”
The air was ripped suddenly by the hiss of a saber blade crashing down at the Mari’s shoulder. Kourou was there in the blink of an eye and to Mari’s amazement, was blocking the saber with his bare hand.
“RUN!” Kourou shouted, reaching for his saber again. Mari obeyed and bolted away from the scene.
The purple saber retreated and its owner materialized.
“What interest has an assassin with a conflicted sith?” Kourou asked, holding his own saber at the ready.
“Weakness! Weakness in her! It will not be tolera –“
His voice was cut short as Kourou held his hand up and lifted the assassin by the throat using the force. Rou stared at him, glaring into his mind searching his intentions. He had been stalking Mari. He had been sent by a Darth.
The assassin’s saber lit and swung at Kourou who’s own saber blocked the blow. Kourou dropped him and readied for combat. His saber-blade was translucent, blurring the objects behind it. A white glow emanated from the hilt.
The assassin lunged at him with strike after strike, in rapid succession. Then, in a final flourish, he had appeared as 5 individuals attacking at once. Sparks flew wildly as Kourou parried each blow and saw through the assassin’s force ruse at the last. The assassin’s hand came down with determination as Kourou lifted his blade and severed the assassin’s hand from its arm.
Kourou searched the assassin’s emotions. Fear. Hate. Revenge. “Have you learned nothing from your defeat?”
The assassin writhed in agony.
“Tell your master to pursue this no further. What she decides, she will decide, and she will be stronger. Go.”
Then he looked up and speaking to no one in particular, said, “The time of decision is upon you, Mari. What will you do?”
Mari had been hiding a short distance away, keeping her presence from anyone searching for her. She no longer cared that he knew things she had taken precautions to keep from everyone… that he knew she was within ear-shot now. All she cared about was the fact that she had been found out, and was now without a home. She tucked her bangs behind her ear and said nothing… then she cried.