It had been many years since the end of the Wars. Many long, quiet years in which the people forgot their past sufferings and embraced a warm, comfortable future. Even on cold winter nights, such as the one in a tiny village far removed from the bustle of commerce and technology, the people held fast to the soft glow of peace and prosperity. Such calm had been available to the galaxy for many generations now, and the people basked in its glory without much thought to the ones responsible.
The heroes of old bordered on legendary, yet they were close enough to the present age to be accepted as real people. They were honored in great academies and temples, libraries and museums. Their descendants could still be accounted for, if only barely. Some stayed at the center of the galaxy, watching passively as life continued. Others removed themselves to the far corners of the galaxy, content to pass the memories of their ancestors to any who cared to listen.
The children of this village knew of only one man who told such stories. They were the children of farmers and craftsmen, but they loved the old stories. They told of valiant knights, courageous princesses, and sinister villains. They spoke of love, family, honor, friendship, bravery, and sacrifice. Such tales were the favorites among the children of the humble village.
As the light flakes of snow descended upon the village, the children knocked on the storyteller's door. It opened a crack and inside they could see a bright, blazing fire. One of the smaller children, a little girl with pretty black braids, stepped forward.
"Please, Grandfather, might we have a story?"
The door opened wide to reveal a tall old man. He was strongly built, but his eyes were failing - he squinted - and his hair grew thin. Every person in the village called him "Grandfather," even those as old as he.
Despite his poor eyesight he seemed to know exactly where each child stood. His cloudy blue eyes swept over them. "Come in, my children." He made a broad, sweeping gesture with one arm, letting the children in. There were only nine of them tonight, instead of the usual seventeen. He led them to the fire to dry off. The littlest ones peeled off their wet cloaks and huddled together at the hearth.
The old man sat in a large chair near the children. A few of them crawled over to him. He smiled warmly. "So...you want a story?"
Several bright smiles and hearty affirmatives followed. The man raised a hand, laughing. "All right, all right children. Have I told you the story of the mightiest Wookiee to ever travel the stars?"
"Yes!" a small boy squeaked.
The man frowned. "Oh. Well then, how about the children of the Chosen One?"
An older boy grinned. "Everyone in the entire galaxy knows the story of the Skywalker twins." The small girl with black braids jabbed the boy in the side. "Hey," he protested.
"Be quiet, Novo," she whispered fiercely, her cheeks reddening. The old man laughed.
"Don't be so hard on your big brother, Hani. He's rarely been here to hear my stories. How can you expect him to remember who I am?"
Novo's mouth dropped open involuntarily as his memory returned. Hani smiled triumphantly. "Haven't you ever heard anyone call him 'Grandfather Skywalker' before?" she giggled.
The old man shook his head in amusement. "What story would you like to hear?"
The little squeaking boy tugged gently on the old man's robes. "Grandfather?"
"Yes, my child?" the man inquired, lifting the boy onto his knee.
"Do you know any stories about angels?"
"Do you mean the angels of Iego?"
The boy nodded, eyes wide with hope.
The old grandfather looked into the boy's eyes. "I do believe I know just the one...
It was during the Wars. The beginning of the Galactic Civil War, to be precise. A small, sleek ship made its way toward the moon of a small planet. There were several moons, but only one that seemed truly worthy of attention. This moon appeared to be forested, as it shone like an emerald jewel from space. The deadly looking ship sped toward the green surface.
Aboard the ship there was but one man. A dark man, whose description is far too frightening for young children. He was an evil man, dressed all in black. We shall simply call him the Dark Lord. He flew his ship toward the green moon, his confused, shadowy thoughts colliding with one another inside his broken mind. I say broken, my children, because this man had lost everything he ever claimed to love. He lost, gave up, even sacrificed his freedom for terrible slavery. In short, he was broken in more ways than one.
The landing proved difficult, as there were no hangars, docking bays, or platforms to accommodate the Dark Lord's vessel. It crashed through the trees and settled on the rich, brown earth below. After a moment, the bottom hatch opened. His tall, intimidating figure stepped out onto the soft ground. The forest, which had been alive with the quiet chatter of native birds and animals, suddenly grew still as the Dark Lord surveyed his surroundings.
An ugly hissing filled the air, causing several small creatures to seek refuge in their burrows and nests. The hissing never stopped, never quieted, never missed a beat. Its rhythmic pulse flowed steadily into the hushed forest. He took one step forward. And another. And another until he was walking quickly toward a sunny clearing, where the trees allowed the sunlight to break through the foliage. He stopped at the edge, as if waiting for something to happen.
Though he had no visible ears, his head cocked to the left as a new sound drifted over the trees. It was a curious sound, like a bubbling stream, gentle laughter, and beautiful singing mixed all into one. He thought it might lead to the one he was searching for, so he followed the mysterious melody deeper into the forest. Reaching out with invisible senses, he brushed the forest for a clue to the identity of the creature making the lovely sound.
To his surprise, he found not one, but three presences. One was stronger than the others, perhaps some kind of leader. He noticed something else as he probed the area. The three creatures were female. He pushed aside a few branches on a large bush and crouched low to avoid detection. In the clearing, he could now see them.
They appeared to be human women of extraordinary beauty. On the left was a red-haired woman, her skin tinted gold. She held a small furry animal in her arms and stroked its head. On the right was a smaller woman, slightly younger in appearance. Her blonde hair was long and wavy, her eyes a glorious ocean blue. He remembered the ocean, how it sparkled in the sunlight. Her eyes were a mirror of that memory. She held a smooth black stone, which she tossed lazily into the air as she sang.
The middle woman was more beautiful than the other two. Her dark brown ringlets cascaded down her back, her chocolate eyes warm with joy, her pale skin soft in the glow of the sun. She was clothed in a pale green dress, which went to her ankles. It shocked the Dark Lord so much to see such a creature, that his controlled breathing almost failed. He searched her face eagerly, but realized then that it was not the one he sought. This woman's beauty was incredible, but it paled in comparison to the one he still kept in his heart.
The woman looked up as if she had heard something, her singing ending abruptly. "Who's there?" she called out warily. The hiss of the Dark Lord followed her question, and he slowly stepped into the clearing. The two other women gasped and recoiled in terror, but the leader met his impenetrable gaze with force. "You are a stranger here, Dark One."
The Dark Lord stood motionless. "I am searching for a woman." His deep voice rumbled in the quiet of the forest.
The leader shook her head. "There are many women here. That is why the starpilots hope to end up on this moon. To find the angels of Iego and take one as a bride. Most never find this place...it has been hidden well over time." She eyed the Dark Lord curiously. "But you do not seek a bride."
He remained as still as the forest. "It was foolish to come here. You know nothing of her whereabouts." He turned to leave the clearing.
"Wait," the leader requested. The Dark Lord stopped. "Wait. Whom do you search for?"
The hissing filled the air. "My wife."
"She was from the moons of Iego?"
"No, she was from a different place." He paused for a moment before continuing in a less menacing tone. "But she was an angel."
The leader of the angels nodded sagely. "I'm sure she was. Alas, she is not here." The angel touched a tree branch, looking away from the Dark Lord. "Your angel is in your heart, Dark One. You need not find her to feel the warmth of her love."
The ground trembled for a moment as the Dark Lord considered what the angel had said. "I must go." Without another word, he disappeared into the forest. After a while, the angels heard the far off whine of a ship.
The red-haired woman held fast to the small animal in her arms. "You know who that was, don't you, Siora?" The leader watched the sky above the trees as the ship disappeared into space.
"Yes, Ronalei. I know."
The blonde angel stepped over to the redhead. "Ronalei, was that the Sith Lord, the one they call Vader?"
The redhead nodded. "I think so, Jael."
The blonde, Jael, stepped over to her queen and spoke in a hushed tone. "Siora, he frightened me. How could you talk so freely with him?" Siora shut her eyes as Jael continued. "That was the Dark Lord Vader...even we of Iego know his name. Does that not trouble you, that he knows how to find our world?"
Siora turned her neck so that she was staring straight into the smaller angel's eyes. "I know who he was, and I know what he wanted. He will never return here, nor allow others to follow his path."
Ronalei stepped forward, pushing a loose strand of red hair from her face. "Still, was it wise to speak to him, Siora? He is a terribly evil man. You know as well as I what horrendous crimes he has committed."
"What he sought today was from his past. I could see it. He was once a good man...he loved his wife. If he would honor her memory rather than mourn her, perhaps he would change." Siora spoke softly, staring at her delicate hands as if the revelation had just come to her.
Ronalei shook her head. "A monster like that could never change. It shocks me that he did not take us all as slaves." She turned away and walked off into the dark woods.
Siora sighed as Jael placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, milady, but I too have trouble seeing how such an evil force could ever return to the light." Jael smiled sadly and followed Ronalei.
The angel queen stood alone in the clearing. "I pray that someday you are reunited with your angel, Dark One." Siora raised one arm in a final farewell to the vanished ship. With a thoughtful sigh she turned away and followed her companions into the forest.
The children sat in silence as the orange glow of the fire died down behind them. The boy on the old man's knee looked up with shining eyes. "That was a sad story," he whispered.
The old man's smile was bittersweet. "Yes, but it had a happy ending, after many years. You all know that the children of Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, saved the galaxy, and that Anakin himself renounced his life as Vader and returned to the good side. He at last found peace, and after he died, I'm sure he found his wife. So you see, Queen Siora was right after all."
The little boy grinned. "I liked her. She was beautiful, and she talked like my grandmother. She was smart like my grandfather, too." A few of the children laughed.
"Yes, her wisdom reminds me of my own dear grandfather. Bless his soul, and all those who fought for our freedom."
"Your grandfather fought in the Wars?" Novo whispered, eyes wide.
"Well, no," the old man said with a wry grin. "Grandfather Ben was born during the last era of the Wars. The Vong War. His father was a great hero. In fact, most of my ancestors of that time were heroes of the war." The children leaned closer to the old grandfather. He smiled knowingly. "But that is a story for another day, my children. Come, it is time for you to return to your homes."
A few of the children protested, but a stern glance and a gentle smile convinced them that there would be plenty of time for stories.
Hani held onto her brother's arm as they journeyed into the snow. "Good night, Grandfather Skywalker."
Old Skywalker waved goodbye as the children disappeared into the night. "Good night, my children." A peaceful smile lit his face as he watched the last of them vanish into the snowy dark. "May the Force be with you."
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