Chapter 17

Obi-Was tapped on Nasriel’s door, even though he knew she hadn’t bothered to change the code.  He was slightly disconcerted when the door slid open.  “Nasriel, what are you doing?”

Her short black hair was covered by a grey scarf, and violet scratch marks stood out on her blue cheeks.  She wore a Saalisan silk robe in place of her Jedi tunic, and no shoes.  It took a moment for his question to sink in, and then she replied dully, “I was… thinking.  Come in, Master.”

The vreay figurines had been replaced on the dresser by a row of lit candles, and a small dish containing something that smelled like incense.  Nasriel blew out the candles, murmuring, “Myen syendyerdіh rookhihdi.”

Obi-Wan tried to keep the mood light.  “You certainly take your thinking seriously.”

“I confess, Master, I was not merely thinking.  I was… mourning for Master Jados.  Is that very ungrateful of me, to be unhappy for his loss now that I am your Padawan?”

“Not at all.  Are these your homeworld’s customs or his?”

“Mine,” said Nasriel desolately.  “He told me that when he died I should perform the Saalisan rites of mourning, and then try to forget.  Master Kenobi, I understand what you meant about losing an attachment.  I’m afraid I won’t make a very good Jedi.”

“Nasriel’yana, forgetting isn’t easy when you lose somebody you love.  There used to be a proverb on my homeworld; it was said at funerals.  ‘Cөp sú өshіru bіlmyeydі siy, nar tіlsіz zaular sol drown.’  It means, ‘Many waters shall… no, many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.’  I still miss Master Jinn.  I’ll never be able to forget.”

Nasriel took a deep breath, as if to blow away her grief with the candle smoke.  “We have one more thing in common, then, Master.  Tell me, what did you want to see me about?”

“I came to say that we are due at the Senate in an hour.  The Chancellor wants an explanation of what, exactly, happened to Vindi.  You have to come because you were conscious for more of it than I was, and Ben has to come because… well, because nobody ever said being a Council member’s Padawan was straightforward.  Where are your boots?”

The gleaming Threeb grin was back, as if the last few minutes had never happened; Nasriel had the rare ability to section off her mind and focus on one thing at a time.  “Dorshan, Master.  My boots are on Dorshan.  I’ll borrow Ben’s spare pair.”

At the Senate offices, Ben went to give their names to one of the many pages, and then ran to catch up to Obi-Wan and Nasriel.  After only a few minutes’ wait – “Very unusual,” remarked Obi-Wan – another page flung open the door to the Chancellor’s office, and said to the politician, “Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padawan Nasriel Kenobi Threeb, Padawan Ben Kenobi.”  Nasriel only half-listened, knowing from the many weary hours she had spent waiting in the Senate with other Masters that the reason visitors were announced by their full titles was to remind the politician of what to call them.  Suddenly she stopped, replaying the page’s words over and over in her head.  Nasriel Kenobi Threeb?  Had he really said Nasriel Kenobi Threeb?  Who could have given the wrong name?  Ben.  She tugged surreptitiously at his sleeve.  “Ben, why did you –”

The Chancellor was talking to her.  “You are the Padawan who killed Dr. Vindi?”

Oh, lovely, lovely.  Not only was Ben being mysterious, and – she risked a glance to check – Master Obi-Wan being inscrutable, but also she was in trouble with Grand Chancellor Palpatine himself.  “Yes, sir, I am.”

“Well done.”  After that, Palpatine proceeded to ignore her for the rest of the meeting, and she had only her thoughts for company for over two weary hours.

Outside the Senate Nasriel asked Ben again, determined to get an answer, “Why did you give the page the wrong name for me?”

He looked at her, startled.  “I didn’t.  I didn’t know your full name, so I got Master Jo to check specially on the records, and that’s exactly what it says, right underneath, ‘see also: Youngling Imeltaneska-Kaliu Hrabe’.”  Both Padawans had the same idea at the same moment.  “Master Obi-Wan…”

“Yes?”

“Did you change the records?”

Obi-Wan said in mock-astonishment, “Me change Temple records?  Why would I do that?”

Very calmly and solemnly, Nasriel replied, “If you didn’t, who did?  And if you don’t tell me I shall… inform Senator Organa of… something I shall ask Anakin to tell me from your journal.  I’m sure he’ll choose something appropriate.”

“Fine.  Don’t do that, really.  I asked Yoda to change it in order to sort out a problem Siri told me about.  She said you came on the mission yourself because you are, and I quote, ‘expendable, not a Kenobi.’  Now you are a Kenobi, of sorts, and you are precisely as expendable as each other.”  He eyed her curiously.  “Would you really have told Bail something you got from Anakin?”

“Oh, yeah.  I used to be his page when I was between Masters and didn’t have anything better to do.  He’d have believed me, too,” she added, “but I wouldn’t do that to family.”

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About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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