Praxus Princess Part VIII

Oollana woke suddenly and sat up in bed and immediately wish she hadn’t. The pain was everywhere at once and caused an immediate shortness of breath but the pain eased after a few moments when the medical droid fed pain killers into her IV tube. The room was cold and she didn’t recognize it. From the seal over the door she guessed she was aboard the Praxus Princess. She closed her eyes and focused on her body locating all the specific points of pain so she could meditate on them.

As she mentally inventoried the various cuts and bruises on her body an electronic humming caught her attention and she opened her eyes to see where it was coming from. Several feet away on a bed similar to hers but surrounded by a portable incarceration chamber lay Darth Valar. He was unconscious with various medical droids working around him. He was in bad shape. The apparatus in place of his right arm reminded her of the ending of the fight she had with him.

“He won’t be waking up anytime soon.” The voice startled Oollana out of her reverie but she immediately recognized it as the king’s. He strode from the door of the medical bay to her bed. “How are you feeling?” Before she began to answer a droid interrupted. “Her vitals are stable but she is experiencing….” The king cut it off gently. “It is ok 2MD she can tell me herself.” The droid turned away.

Oollana replied weakly. “Well besides the pain all over I’m fine.” She smiled through the pain. Caspar looked over her as he sat on the bed besides her. He stared over at his son. He nodded towards the incapacitated form, “We are keeping him drugged so that he won’t wake up until we get back to Medea. I wouldn’t know how to handle him if he was awake.” He turned to Oollana. “His wounds would have killed him but I couldn’t let that happen.” He looked away as if ashamed.

The pain medication had worked its wonders on Oollana allowing her to sit up with the help of the automated bed. She put a hand on his arm. “I understand. It was your only course of action and I would have been more concerned had you let him die.”

Caspar looked at her in amazement. “You Jedi are full of surprises. That was not the response I expected. Surely you must hate him for what he did to your friend and to yourself.”

Oollana put her head back in her pillow. “Your highness a Jedi cannot afford to hate. It is what drove your son to do what he did. No, I don’t hate him. Am I upset over what happened? Yes. I am not devoid of emotions I just have to be mindful of those that would lead me down the path of destruction.” She turned her head away from Caspar and tears began to run down her cheeks onto her pillow as she pictured her last image of Julius. The king was quiet respecting her moment of emotional release. She eventually turned back to him and half smiled. “As you can see my emotions run as deeply as any other being.”

The king choked back his own tears. “What Julius did for me and my daughter will not be forgotten. His name will be honored in my family for generations to come. I promise you that.” He looked back at his son. “And…” he paused contemplating how to say what he wanted to say next. “And, even though he is my son he will face justice. He must.” He looked down at his hands pondering his decision. “In fact he will face the judgment of the Jedi council on Medea.”

“That will go far to mend old wounds.”

“Yes it will. I have been a fool for far too long.”

“The masters at the enclave will welcome the friendship”, Oollana reassured him.

King Caspar smile at Oollana. “These are strange days.” Then his eyes lit up as he remembered something he wanted to ask her. “By the way, do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“What happened at the end of the fight? You were beaten and you should have died but it was as if you became possessed and gained skills you did not have before.”

Oollana thought for a moment trying to bring back the fight in her memory. “Truthfully, I am not completely sure. I have my suspicions but I will have to speak with master Bernare to help guide me through my memory of the fight. But the best way to describe it is that a dam broke inside of me and behind it was the force. It flooded me like never before and for the first time I felt merged with the force. It was surprising to me as well and I expected to die but I trusted in the force. So what you saw was the force using me to the fullest extent of my skills.”

“Well whatever it was I doubt I will ever see the likes of it again. It was, in all honesty, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.” He looked at Oollana and saw the fatigue on her face. He stood up. “Well thank you Oollana… for everything. You need your rest and I have bothered you too much already.” He turned to walk away but paused in the doorway. “And Oollana, I’m sorry I misjudged you when I first met you. I am more than happy to be counted wrong.” And then he was gone before Oollana could respond.

Master Bernare found Oollana in the garden already. She was early. He walked up quietly and sat across from her on the stone benches that faced each other across the path. The bubbling fountain in the center of the garden was the only sound in the peaceful afternoon. Oollana was visibly nervous as she fidgeted with a few pebbles on the bench.

Bernare had asked Oollana to meet him in the garden this afternoon. She had required a few days of rest as she continued to recover from her fight and he also wanted to give her time to gather her thoughts before they had this conversation. Her nervousness made Bernare smile to himself. She had come to him as a child and in many ways he still saw her as one but he had to admit to himself that she had grown up. “What is wrong, Oollana?”

Oollana stopped fidgeting and looked up at her master. “I’m restless master.”

“Why are you restless?”

Frustration flared on Oollana’s face. “I’m not sure. I feel like I did something wrong. No…” She paused rethinking what she was going to say. “No, that’s not what I mean. Rather, I feel complete in a way I haven’t experienced before but it I can’t help but feel that I reached it in spite of myself and my training. I just feel very strange about all that has happened. I also still feel a great sorrow and I know what you would say.”

Bernare nodded in understanding. He understood what Oollana was trying to say even if she couldn’t articulate it well. Throughout her training she had struggled with her emotions and he had been hard on her about her seeming lack of control over her emotions. He knew that he had always given her that impression because he had indeed been worried. Of the padawan to enter the enclave Oollana had displayed the greatest potential for danger. Her emotions were close to the surface and sometimes very raw. Both master Arlen Del and Trias Halo had expressed concern about taking her on as a padawan and had continued to caution Bernare about her ongoing training. Oollana had not known of the concerns of the other masters and now would never know. She had proven them wrong in a way that none of them had considered.

“What I have to say to you, Oollana, is… I’m very proud of you.”

Oollana looked at Bernare in surprise.

“See, you didn’t know what I would say.” His tentacles moved to form what Oollana knew was a smile. “I talked to Caspar when he brought you to the enclave and he told me some of what happened. I actually knew some of it simply from my connection to you in the force. He was very impressed with you and could hardly speak better of you had you been his own daughter.”

“Well he would have praised a sith lord had he saved his daughter.”

“True, but the end result is not what I am proud of you for.” Bernare let Oollana think about that for a moment. “Do you know why I chastise you so much about your feelings and emotions?”

“Of course master, if I give in to anger or fear or any other negative emotion then it can lead down the path of destruction and darkness. I am an emotional person and I know that and I know that it concerns you. And as much as I try I still have difficulties. I know this puts me in danger. Despite this I just can’t seem to deny them.”

Master Bernare stood and motioned to Oollana. “Walk with me.” Oollana stood and they began walking the garden path. “Have you read any of the proceedings of the Jedi council in your time in the library?”

Oollana wasn’t sure where this was going. “Yes, I have only been able to access the proceedings that are older than 5 years but I have read most of them.”

“The council does not release the recent proceedings since many of the discussions and debates in them are ongoing. But in your readings surely you have run across the council discussions on emotions and the training of padawan.”

“Yes, I read them pretty carefully. I could imagine your voice as I read them.” She smiled feeling more relaxed.

“Then you are aware of some of the opposing views on the role of emotions.”

“Yes, most of the council believes that screening of padawan should preclude those that are predisposed to emotional outbreaks. Like Elashi, according to their beliefs she would have not been accepted as a padawan.”

“Nor would you,” Bernare added.

Oollana blushed slightly. “I suppose not. But there is a smaller fraction of Jedi who argue that emotions are an essential part of training since the universe doesn’t work in an emotionless vacuum. They argue that we can’t be expected to help others without understanding what they feel.”

“Oollana, I do not offer to you an answer to this debate since I am caught in the eye of it. I agree with much of the council that padawan must be taught to control their emotions at an early age. But my own experience with you has made me often call into question my own approach. Many Jedi often offer counsel from their temples far removed from their experiences from when they were once padawan themselves. It is much like a man or woman giving parental advice while not having any offspring of their own.”

“But there are some things that the Jedi cannot deny. We cannot get rid of emotions. They are as much a part of a sentient beings existence as the gases they breathe and the food they eat. The danger has always been with those emotions that cause us to act irrationally. Even at the earliest ages a child going through a tantrum will hit and throw things to release those emotions of anger and frustration. The dangers of anger, fear and despair are as great to those not sensitive to the force as those of us who are. The difference being that we can manifest those emotions through the force into something much more tangible. The force enhances our emotions so when we hate we hate with more intensity and when we love we love with more intensity.”

Oollana listened intently. She knew everything he was saying but understood that she wasn’t just being given another lesson.

“And so as you known for some years now I have been concerned about your display of both love and anger.” At this he stopped walking and turned to Oollana. “But you, my friend, have a rare gift. You have a control of those emotions that is unusual. In your greatest distress you are able to find calm. It is truly unusual for anyone, including non sensitives, to keep such strong emotions in check once the mind has traveled down its path. All emotions cloud the mind, including love. Perhaps, especially love. But whether because of instinct or learned behavior our emotional centers override the logic centers of our mind. It is biology at its most basic. You don’t just control the manifestation of your emotions but you control the emotion itself within your mind and are still able to see things clearly. While it is not unheard of it is rare and so as a general rule we assume that our padawan learners do not have such abilities.”

“I could feel the moment when Julius died because of your fear and anger that followed. It washed over me in waves and I could feel the anger and fear myself and had to spend a great deal of effort to control my own emotions. I thought I had lost you because while I trusted in you I could not be sure of your control with the outburst of such emotion. My heart lept when I felt the change in the force as did the other masters. We felt the waves of fear and anger replaced with those of calm and purpose. It was then that I knew you had passed your greatest challenge.”

“The challenge was myself”, Oollana added in understanding.

“Yes. Darth Valar was indeed a physical challenge but far more dangerous was the potential for you to give in to your emotions. Much more than the royal family would have been lost had you given in to fear and anger. It is why the other masters and myself have decided that you are ready to join the knighthood.”

Oollana stared at Bernare with tears forming in her eyes. They were a mixture of sadness and joy. Bernare knew what she was thinking. “Julius would be proud of you.”

“Thank you, master.”

“You only have left to build your own lightsaber to complete your training. Of course this is not an end but another beginning in the chapter of your life. I count it as an honor to have been such a big part of this first chapter.”

Oollana watched the fire burn. The flames danced around Julius’ face before leaping high into the night sky showering the bystanders with sparks and heat. Oollana thought he looked peaceful as the smoke engulfed him and the flames consumed him. She did not hide the tears that streaked down her face. She would miss him and his fatherly presence.

The king put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her as he and his daughter stood next to her to witness the ceremony. He pulled his daughter tight to his other side cherishing what Julius had saved by giving up his own life.

After some time the fire had consumed its fuel and their friend. The masters and the other padawan filed out and behind them the king and his daughter. They left Oollana alone with the ashes. She lingered momentarily mindful that to linger on her sadness was to engorge on it. She turned to walk away and then hesitated. She turned back to the smoldering fire. She wiped her dry tears away. “I will miss you.” She choked back tears again. “I will continue to make you proud of me.” She turned and walked away satisfied that her love for Julius would feed her for a long time.

”Posted on Curtis’s behalf”

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