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River of Light

by Tammy

The child cocked his head at the small stream of water trickling between the rocks. He giggled as the small furry creature leapt out of his hands and darted around the rocks, making it difficult to catch him. The stream of water he, and the creature, had been following, formed atthe bottom in a larger pool of deep blue/black.
For those who knew nothing about the sacred river, it was an ominoussite indeed. The water was such a deep blue it looked almost black. No one dared enter it. For generations legends had been passed downabout this small river. It has magical properties. Some would say. Some said it was evil.Yet others thought it to be mysterious. It healed those who were injured but only when it wanted to do so. The boy leaned closer, reaching a hand down to claim the creature thathad slipped through his fingers. He paused to look at his reflection and lost sight of his plaything. Before he could turn around, he heard the snap of a twig and then wasbeing pushed head first into the small pool.
"That's what you get for running off!" One yelled over his shoulder. "Aww, the creature pushed him in!" The other boy, Sa'an laughed.
The 4 year old boy coughed and sputtered as the older boys ran off. He pulled himself out of the water, lucky he had not been pushed into the center depths. The pool was an illusion, small though it appeared, it was deeper than three men high. The boy was horrified, fearing that he had broken some long standing tradition. Fearing that he would be punished, or worse, for daring towade into the sacred water. He crawled over to a large, protruding rock, hiding his sopping formfrom those who might venture down the path. Many came to watch the brilliant glows within the pool. But they onlycame at sunrise and sunset. It was close to sunset now, and he could hear the footsteps approaching. As the sun crept along the water, it's light bathing the smooth andjagged stones alike, it penetrated the thickness of the water, illuminatingthe jewels below.Those who dared, would leap into the water in search of what looked like, to them, large, expensive gems. Something that could be sold for many credits, paving the way for a convenient life. But all the violators would ever return with would be handfuls ofsmooth rocks. Many threw back their disappointing treasure, some would justdrop the stones onto the edge of the pool, mingling with the others of theirkind. Unable to tell the difference of which stone had been pulled from thewater and which one had been there first. The lanky boy slid even further behind the large rock, hoping thesetting sun and the rock's mass would hide his sopping form. The boys who had pushed him into the river appeared again, and from the expression on their faces, they looked pleased."Maybe he drown," one said.
"We could only hope," Another sneered and watched closely, the setting
sunlight cast the same mysterious glow on the water and the jewelsbelow. "Lets get some!" Rand exclaimed. "We'll be rich!"
"No, we can't go into the pool. We'll be beaten!" The other resisted."No one has ever come out of there with anything more than a handful of ugly rocks."
"Yeah but what if we get something. Our families will be rich!"
Rand slipped out of his shirt and slid well-worn boots off his ankles.Before his friend could stop him, he dove into the chilly water muttering,"Keep watch!" before his head disappeared.
The boys watched and time passed slowly. Did he drown?Was he swallowed? Did the darkness of the water prevent him from finding his way out? Was it too deep?Finally, Rand appeared, sputtering, breathing deeply.
"What did you find?!" Sa'an pulled his friend out of the pool. He held out his hand and frowned. "Well it was glowing. I was so sure."
The disappointment was written all over Rand's face. There would be no riches for him this night. He turned and hurled the rock into the water, skipping it across thetop until it reached the other side of the small pool."Ah, forget it! Lets go."
As the boys made their way back up the path, the younger boy climbed over the rock that had been shielding him from his attackers. As he slowly made his way back up the path, he turned to cast one more look at the river, and the red gold rays that now penetrated deep into the murky darkness of the waters. His eyes widened when he noticed a jewel sitting on the side of the river, where he had only before seen them far beneath the water. He blinked and looked around, back up the path and down around thelarge rocks. There was no one around. The boy made his way to the other sideof the river and stared down at the jewel. It was clear as black crystal and as the sun's rays set over it, its red streaks could be seen penetrating the blackness. Qui-Gon reached for it. As his fingers closed around the smooth stone,he heard a voice from the path calling to him.
"Qui-Gon! Come back here. You know better than to run off! There is someone here who wants to see you."
Over fifty years later, another stood at the head of the path that led to the sacred river. The route was less traveled now, and the underbrush almost completely covered the small path. Clutching the stone tightly in his hand, Obi-Wan made his way to the edge and watched the sun set, illuminating the reflective stones beneath the blackness of the water. Over the years, the river became less mysterious and less interestingas many tried to take something from the pool of blackness that wished toremain there. No one ever came out with a treasure that which Qui-Gon Jinn had foundover 50 years ago. Obi-Wan perched on the edge of the black pool, his eyes darting to the illuminated stones beneath. "The Force calls to the stones, you can see them glow when the light touches them."
"Is this where Master Qui-Gon found that?" Anakin peered over his Master's arm to look at the smooth stone sitting the Jedi's palm.
"That's what he said."
The sadness was back again. But there was no way to surpress it. They would have to go on. Celebrate his life and what he did with it when he was alive.
"But not all of the stones are Force sensitive." Anakin surmised.
"I don't think so." Obi-Wan's gaze never shifted from beneath the dark pool.
"There are millions of rocks beneath the water, and if they were all illuminated, then the water would not be so dark."
Obi-Wan blinked and turned to his anxious Padawan. Anything that concerned Qui-Gon Jinn and the boy became even more of a bundle of energy than he normally was. Obi-Wan recognized the need for Anakin to deal with his grief, and struggled to give the boy as much space as possible. But now was not the time. He was grating on Obi-Wan's already fragile nerves.
"This would be a good time to Meditate, Anakin."
The boy frowned. He could feel his Master's anxiety but didn'tcompletely understand it. "Yes, Master." Anakin plopped down on the rocky edge and crossed his legs in a meditative pose. Obi-Wan stood, as his apprentice reflected on the day's activities, and walked around the small pool, lost in memories. Memories of the past, of a young boy taken from his family on the eve of finding the stone this Jedi Knight now held in his hand. Obi-Wan felt ashamed as he remembered the day this stone had been given. His 13th birthday. A gift from his Master. Obi-Wan had been disappointed that he had not been given a more precious gift, as was customary on a Padawan's thirteenth birthday. He had grown to love his Master's gift, especially after it had saved his life, his mind from being wiped at the hands of a greedy organization. What he didn't realize is that Qui-Gon had given the young Kenobi his precious gift. A one and only reminder that the Jedi Master carried toremind him of his home world, of a life that he had left behind to begin therigors of Jedi training. Obi-Wan leaned against a large, protruding rock, thinking back to all the fun, if it could be called that, Obi-Wan had with his Master. The man had been closer than a father, closer than a lover. The two shared a bond that many outside of the Jedi Order could not, would never, beable to understand. The closeness with which they lived their lives, the complete trust they placed in one another, was something unheard of in most cultures. The best Padawan/Master teams comprised of two individuals that were able to link to each others, hearts, memories and lives. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had formed that connection, though it was a longtime in coming. Breaking through his Master's formal and professional demeanor had been the most difficult. Obi-Wan thought he would never figure out his Master, never understand him, and when he had stopped trying, the clarity struck him with the weight of a megaton bomb. For only the second time since his Masters death three weeks ago, Obi-Wan allowed a tear to slip unguarded down his cheek. There was no one here to see, no one from whom he had to guard the stoic Jedi reputation. He brushed away the tear, remembering the feel of his Master's hand on his face, wiping the first away as he held the dying man. He had broken a promise that night. Obi-Wan reflected. The only promise that Qui-Gon had ever broken to the boy. More tears slipped down his cheeks as Obi-Wan remembered that promiseand how it had come to be. *************
He was determined. After 5 months of mission after mission with his Master, being sent everywhere, to every dung heap the Council could find, Obi-Wan was going to 'talk' to his Master. There was never any personal conversation with the man. He was all Jedi and very little man, Obi-Wan surmised. 'But then why did I want to be his Padawan so badly that I would risk my life for a man I hardly know?' He thought.
'I risked it because I knew there was a bond between us and I knew if I could prove that to him, that he would choose me.' Obi-Wan answered his own question.
Training, eating, sleeping and negotiations, was what their lives consisted of. Boring endless negotiations with one planetary government or another. Trying to stop a war before it begun or trying to prevent one. 'Was this what being a Padawan really is?' Obi-Wan thought sadly, and then he would get another lecture in patience.
Obi-Wan's meditation was not going as planned as his mind wandered to various events he had attended in his short time with Master Jinn. Suddenly a voice intruded upon his thoughts.
*This is not what I would call a productive meditation technique*
*Sorry Master* Came the humble reply.
*Something is wrong, Padawan* It was not a question.
*Yes Master*
*I am here should you find the need to discuss your concerns*
Obi-Wan opened his eyes and looked up. His Master was floating above him, in a cross-legged meditation pose. The Master lowered himself and opened his eyes, their clear depths serving as a mirror as Obi-Wan saw his face reflected in them.
"What do you wish to discuss?"
"You." Obi-Wan blurted before his mind could catch up to his mouth.
An inquisitive eyebrow raised and the Master stared at his bold apprentice.
"What about me?"
"I don't know anything about you." Obi-Wan figured he had nothing else to loose and pressed on.
"You have such a reputation in the temple. But I've not seen any indication of that reflected in the time I have spent with you."
The corners of the man's mouth lifted and he smiled, casting a cursory look about the small room.
*He's uncomfortable* Obi-Wan thought quickly. *Wonder why *
"I can only imagine what kind of reputation I have in the Temple,Padawan. I am not known for following the Council's instructions in all matters."
*In ANY matters * Obi-Wan thought, and masked his comments quickly for fear of being overheard.
Qui-Gon stifled a chuckle. He had caught that stray thought and sent back one of his own.*We will have to work more on your shielding.*
Obi-Wan gulped.
"So back to me," Qui-Gon began, leaving the boy to wonder what the repercussions would befall him for that thought.
"What do you want to know?"
Obi-Wan's eyes lit. "Anything you wish to tell me, Master. Like I said,I know nothing about you."
"Yet you wanted to become my Padawan so badly that you risked your very life for mine."
"And would do it again, Master. You are much more important than I."
Qui-Gon moved faster that the eye could see and knelt before the startled boy.
"No, never think that. Because you are wrong." The voice was harsh, demanding, intense. "A Master is to instruct the Padawan to become better than he himself. And I will succeed with you. You will be much greater than I."
Obi-Wan opened his lips to object but Qui-Gon continued, his powerfully deep voice dwarfing that of the young apprentice.
"The apprentice is always more important than the Master. You will understand that in time. Never do anything that would cause yourself undue harm."
Obi-Wan was overwhelmed by the ferocity of Qui-Gon's words and felt his eyes swell with tears of pride. He shook his head, willing the tears away.He almost succeeded but one slipped down his cheek. Before he had the chance to wipe it away, his Master's long finger scooped it from his cheek.
"And I give you this vow. Obi-Wan, I will never make you cry. You will feel every other emotion along the pathway to becoming a Jedi Knight. Butremember always Obi-Wan, I will never make you cry."
The boy's breath caught in his throat and he felt himself unable to speak. His Master had the eloquence of a king and the agility and strength of a panther. Obi-Wan knew that the man would never be able to keep that promise. Promises that were not broken were always forgotten.
Obi-Wan's mind snapped back into the present and he averted his eyes to make sure his own Padawan was still in his meditative trance. Satisfied that Anakin was focusing well enough, Obi-Wan turned his attention to the ominous depths before him. He wiped a tear away and choked back a laugh.
"A promise broken , Master," The Knight whispered. "I guess there had to be at least one."
*Don't cry for me, Jedi. You have too much work ahead to focus on apart of your life that is in the past *
Obi-Wan chuckled. His past. His past would shape his future.
* Focus on the here and now, Padawan.* Obi Wan smiled a bit at the title he so sorely missed coming from his Master's lips.
* Leave the past to those long gone. It is over, unable to be reclaimed. Look ahead, that is where your future lies.*
Obi-Wan chuckled. *Going back on your training so soon? I seem to remember you telling me to never look ahead*
* A dark time approaches, Obi-Wan. You must be ready for it. It will come swiftly on dark angelic wings to take away all you hold dear*
The ominous warning startled the young Jedi and he concentrated. Many Knights had the ability to see into the future. Obi-Wan was not one of them.
* Be mindful, Obi-Wan. The danger will not come from an enemy. But from a friend.
*Obi-Wan's heart plummeted into his boots. What was his Master talking about? Had he heard the voice correctly?
* Listen, Obi-Wan. For you will not hear me for some time after this * Obi-Wan nodded, pushing back the tears of dread and fright that overcame him at the sound of his Master's ominous tone.
*Watch, listen, make note of everything you find inconsistent. This danger can be averted, but I fear I may have set into motion something that is unstoppable *
* You Master?*
*Be mindful, Obi-Wan. Train Anakin to the best of your abilities. Ask questions. Determine what is right and what is wrong. I have been wrong in my lifetime, and I hope my decisions before my passing do not have dire consequences on the galaxy*
Obi-Wan shook his head but Qui-Gon continued.
*I love you Obi-Wan, you were the son I never had and I felt a fathers pride in your accomplishments. There has been one more task set before you. Complete it *
* I will, Master. I love you *
Tears began anew and Obi-Wan felt invisible fingers wipe them away.
*My promise, my boy. I've broken it. I am sorry * Obi-Wan could hear the heartache in the voice, the sadness in which his voice carried to his ears.
Obi-Wan cleared his throat, and as suddenly as the tears began, they stopped.
*Never have you broken a promise to me, Master. And I will see to it that it doesn't happen now *
*I will be with you always. All you have to do is look and I will be there walking beside you *
Obi-Wan could feel his Master's presence fade into the blackness and he was saddened.His head turned and he noticed Anakin staring at him, through him, with those piercing blue eyes of his. Something ominous in Qui-Gon's warning surrounded the boy but was forgotten when he smiled and rushed over to Obi-Wan and embraced him wordlessly.
"He spoke to me, Master," Anakin smiled, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. "Master Qui-Gon told me everything was going to be alright."
Obi-Wan smiled slightly. "Then it will be."
They stood and began to wander up the path. Obi-Wan cast a look beside him, the unvoiced question skirting the edge of his mind like the breeze caressed his hair.
*Won't it? *
The End
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