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Old 07-24-2006, 02:02 PM   #167
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Oh I have up until the last battle. I am almost finished writing this story. Teehee! as to the nausea, it's a bit of both but more likely from the bad memories of tumbling down the river near death.
Well here is the next chapter and again involves a movie. You guys are pretty slow to guess but nevertheless I am glad you guys enjoyed the story.

Chapter 8: Duels and Alliances
The woman who had been taunting me came out of hiding. She was quite pretty with dark brown hair streaked with red and dark brown eyes. She wore a huntress outfit with a warm hide as a cloak. She came to the river’s edge and smiled in a know it all way and said, “Well. This here is our river and any man who wishes to cross, must pay a tax.” There were cheers of agreement from the rest of the group.

I looked at her and said, “I’ll pay no tax. As you can see, I’ve got nothing. Not even a gold piece.” I smiled an apology at her.

“Bantha crap,” a voice sounded. It was more deep and sounded very regal. It demanded attention. The voice belonged to a dark, honey-skinned woman with black hair and green eyes. She wore wolf fur rimmed clothing indicating her status within her tribe. She was carrying a staff and walking towards me. She continued, “Any man who travels with an astromech and a servant,” I cocked my brow at this, “and claims he has no money or anything to trade, is either a fool or a liar.”

The woman who tripped me called out, “He’s a liar!”

I ignored the jabs at me. I eyed the regal woman slightly warily and asked, “And who might you be?”

“Serena Lightstar. Queen of the Haida tribe and leader of the Confederation of Tribes.” The crowd responded to her title with respect and cheer.

I gave a polite smile and replied, “Well milady, you lead this rabble?”

“Yes I do stranger. If you three want to travel through this forest it will cost you that pendant and katana.”

I didn’t care about my sword but the pendant, my lifestone was another matter. I picked it up and rubbed it. I looked at her and said, “This is sacred to me,” and I smiled politely.

“It’s sacred to us too, Stranger. That stone will fetch a fine price to feed our people for at least two months.”

If I had any money I would have given it freely. I had no idea what kind of stone there was in my lifestone but it obviously was of great monetary value here on Belos. However it had value in that a friend gave it to me and I wasn’t about to let it be taken without a fight. I responded, “You’ll have to fight me for it, milady.”

“Love to Stranger,” and she tossed me the staff she had been carrying. She gave her cape to the boy that I had rescued earlier. He told her that I gave a beating to twelve of the Rashikians. Her manner reflected one of pleasure. I guessed she liked her opponents to have backbone.

I rolled my eyes slightly and I turned to look at the shore and saw that Carth, the draigons and T3 were being led away down a bit to watch the show. I watched as they were taken while twirling the wooden staff in my hand. I gave a sigh and turned around to face Serena. I was just about to get into position when she hit my left hand hard. Everyone was laughing at me as I clenched it to try and ease the pain. I could tell that this was going to be a dirty fight.

We exchanged blows with our staffs. I could feel her strength through her strikes and I could tell that she had rightfully earned her position as a leader. She was rather sly with her attacks as she was trying to catch me off guard. Some I recognized as trick moves that Cronus taught me long ago. I knew that I could not just settle into plain defense, as was my habit. Funny how I had not handled a staff since Jasilyn or so and yet the maneuverability returned like an old friend.

T3 was whistling in the background and the crowd was cheering. I was freezing but my blood was being warmed by the confrontation with this woman. I was determined to stay on my feet but in a quick move of hers, she pinned one end of my staff to the ground and with the other end of hers, she hit my back. She then ran her staff along the length of mine and rammed both fists into me and sent me into the pool below.

I almost wanted to pass out as it brought memories of my fall but I forced myself to stay conscious. There were cheers going on from everyone. I briefly heard someone saying that I was drowning. I felt around my neck and me fingers had came back red. She had ripped my stone off. I heard her say, “Lost something?” and she was dangling it in front of me. I reached for it and she snatched it away and smiled coyly at me and said her thanks for the taxes.

I was mad and sick at the same time. The bad memories of my fall were running through my mind but my temper was rising. I felt a surge of energy and warmth, a charge that had not been there before. I got up and grabbed my staff. I ran to catch up with her with an added speed that was not Force induced. I used my staff to trip her. I said, “I’m not through yet,” and I moved into her line of sight.

She got to her feet and smiled. “Alright Stranger. You want another good beating? You’ll get one.” She swung but I reacted. I took the attack to her and I increased my speed. The ends of our staffs would meet creating a clunks that sounded like hollow sticks. I keep increasing my speed sensing that if I could move faster, she wouldn’t be able to get her attacks in. It was working for she was having a heck of a time trying to defend.

I did a spin move and butted the end into her gut. With a deft twist, I knocked her feet out from underneath, making her fall into the water. I stole a glace at Carth who was just watching with a look of interest. In a fit of humor, I booted Serena in the rear and said, “Seems that I’ve made it past the gate Lightstar. Or should I call you Rena?” That seemed to make her mad and she swung at me hard and fast.

I countered with my speed matching hers. She swung at my feet and I jumped up and flipped over her head and attempted to butt her in the gut again. She anticipated it and blocked with one end and with the other she smacked me on the side of my head. It was hard enough for me to trip into the water. I got up and was greeted with the salty taste of blood in my mouth and my nose felt sore. I wasn’t going to waste time trying to heal it so I got up breathing heavily. The water made me feel heavy and it felt like my movements were slow and cumbersome. Once I got to my feet I took a breath and swung again. I felt rather heavy and slowed as if carrying a heavy weight on my back. I missed the last strike and she pinned my staff. She then said, “Swimming time again Stranger,” and she backhanded me, sending me into the pool of water.

The flow carried me over the small falls and I rolled into the pool below. I was not finished yet. Forcing myself to remain conscious, I swam under the water, holding my breath to the center of the pool I was in. I managed to pull the device that I had to breathe underwater and put it in my mouth. I used my body to stay under the water and reached out with my Jedi senses to see where she was. Carth later told me that the group was shouting to each other to see if they could see me.

My cue had come when I saw the end of a staff enter the water. I still had my own in my right hand. With as much concentration I could muster, I used the Force to propel my body straight out of the water. In midair, I did a flip and landed in front of her in a crouched position. I stood quickly and did a spin and butted her with the end of my staff and sent her into the pool. I did a dive in after her and grabbed her by the shoulder straps of her tunic. We both came to the surface and I dunked her and shouted, “Do you yield?”

She fought back with her hands. She shouted something about not being able to swim well or something. I maintained my grip and dunked her again. Again I shouted, “Do you yield?”

Her response, “In the name of the Four Winds, yes.”

I replied, “Alright. Just put your feet down.” The water was chest deep as she stood up. I just continued to have my knees bent overcome with the cold and weariness. I didn’t show it as I slowly stood. I demanded, “My pendant.”

“Give me your name first,” she replied smiling at the clever way she had been bested.

Still breathing heavily as I replaced my breathing device in my belt, I responded, “Kirabaros.”

The crowd became silent but I distinctly heard whispers coming from all directions. They couldn’t believe it that Kirabaros had returned or something. I was too tired and cold to care. Serena replaced my pendant on my neck and said, “Well Kirabaros, you’ve just bested one of the Haida women. You’ve got some moves.”

The camp was like the tribal village that I had lived in before the war. There were a few tents from the refugee tribes that banded with the Haida women and lots of women and children. I sensed the fear mingled in with the courage of these people as we entered their camp. Serena led me to her hut and offered me some dry clothes, clothes that belonged to her husband. She left me alone while she went to change herself. The clothes fit rather well. I buckled the belt and hung my lightsaber and katana from it. I went to the mirror and looked at my mangled face. I used the Force to heal the break in my nose and heal the cuts I had sustained. I couldn’t do anything for the welt on my cheek so I just let it be. I went into the main room where Carth and T3 were waiting along with Caelos.

Caelos told me that he had managed to sneak out of the city though help of the resistance when he heard that there had been trouble caused in the market that I had gone to. He had been stopped by the tribes and brought for questioning. I just smiled as best as I could since the bruise was painful on my jaw. Carth was giving me a cursory glance and I could tell he wanted to talk about that last move I pulled in the river. I was still freezing from the cold that had settled in my bones and was looking for a fire to sit next to.

Serena came out of her room and led us to a fire outside where the leaders of all the tribes there were gathered. She took her spot and motioned to where we were to sit. Caelos opted to stay with T3 on the outside. I sat slightly wincing from my jaw. Serena began first, “You impressed me Kirabaros. Had I known who you were before we fought, I would have been more harder on you.”

I managed a smile and replied, “Harder? You gave me everything you got and you still sent me swimming.”

The group laughed at my joke. I settled back against the tree branch. Carth remained sitting upright being polite. Serena had a rich sultry laughter. She stopped long enough to talk. She said, “We know that you have come to free our planet from the scourge of our worlds. We have seen it in the stars and through the Force. Still we would like to hear in your own words why you are here.”

I slowly stood and gave my reason for being here. It was painful on my jaw but I kept it up. They listened intently with their attention focused on me. The one who taunted me looked at me with a slight contempt. Carth told me that if cannon fire had struck, they still would have been sitting there listening to me. When I finished, I sat back down and was offered a jug of cider. I drank a sip out of politeness and passed to the woman who had been taunting me who skipped Carth entirely and was about to hand it to a male tribal leader. I voiced without looking at her, “Has Belosian hospitality changed so much in two years and a friend of mine is not welcome at this indaba?”

The woman was giving me a scowl. She didn’t hide her disapproval as she said, “He is Republic core slime. Nothing but a savage.” She had spit that last word out like it was something distasteful.

I responded, “Maybe so, but no more than you or I. So you may call me savage if you want.”

Serena handed the jug to Carth, who politely declined. I could sense a tension building and I could sense the distrust forming from the young woman. I later told Carth that her distrust made his seem like a make out session. I keep my gaze on the fire and watched the flames dance as I answered question after question about the other people on the other worlds. They asked me about how I got my name. I gave a brief run down of Zoran and such. When I got to the phrase, “When my home was attacked, I became a warrior like you,” I was interrupted by the woman sitting next to me. She said in hateful tones, “You are nothing like the Bushida warriors,” and she got up and left.

Serena apologized, “That’s Kiara Druga, the last member of the governor’s family of Belos and a sister of the Haida tribe. Don’t be offended. It’s been a difficult time since she lost her family.”

I nodded and my thoughts turned to her. I could understand the pain of loss. I kept it in mind as the leaders and I discussed about aiding the resistance and arming the city dwellers to retake Belos.

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