Sorrow: “The Dark Riders”
- Story by Julia Atkins
- Estimated reading time: 9 minutes (1,858 words)
(Six years later)
Jango Fett sat on the hatched roof of his new farmhouse. Yes, it was hard to give up his childhood home, but since the raids, they had no other choice. But now they were free from fear, for the enemy would not dare show his face in the Grey Havens, a refuge for those who sought freedom of the far away war. But what was going on so far away did not concern young Jango, as he sat upon his roof, tuning his guitar. His olive-coloured skin glowed bright in the yellow glare of the sun. His black hair was thick and unruly, the curly locks falling before his brow. His smile beamed as his fingers plucked delicately at the cords of his instrument. He began to laugh a little, as he slowly strummed on notes randomly, piecing together a song.
But through his notes, came a loud and demanding voice, unlike the whimsical tunes, "Jango! I told you to fix the roof!"
But Jango laughed, and held his arms out, said: "Papa, shhh! I'm tuning my guitar, I want to be able to make the sun rise tomorrow!"
"Get to fixing the roof and stop this childish game!"
"But I am a child."
Ambu, his father fixed him with a look that changed the boy's mind instantly, and with a groan, Jango put aside his guitar and went to finish his work.
When Jango finished his arduous chore, he quickly ran to his father, who was still in the stables, tending to their Rams. "Papa, may I go play?" he asked.
His father looked suspicious, "But what about the Rams? And Harvest season is coming soon, and I'll need you for that."
"But I'm only asking for today, how long will it be until I will no longer have free time to go out?"
Ambu mused his son's words, but finally, with a smile he yielded his son's words and shooed him away, saying: "Go on, go on, you little pest." and merrily, Jango leapt down to the stables and got on his pony. But as he rode down the path on to the woods, his father called after him: "But listen Jango, do not wander from the Grey Havens!" Jango, so excited, did not hearken his father's words and disappeared in to the shadows of the woods.
He rode as far as the passage for his pony would let them, then Jango traveled on foot by the rapids of the young river that swept by his home. He crossed it where the river calmed, by that of a stone-stepping bridge, and from the dell and the falls, he climbed up through the peach orchid. And finally he lowered in to the deep green valleys where the ancient castle once stood, now it was a field of boulders, covered by years of thick moss. He found a large rock and climbed its weathered peak to find a place of peace.
Jango looked out as far as he could see. The purple mountains looked like giant sleeping figures spreading their way East and West. The great yellow sun began to crawl away behind the grey and sad clouds, and the beginning stars of dusk began to bloom, shining bright and far away. A cool wind descended from the mountains and caressed Jango's olive skin, and his curly hair swayed with its rhythm. Jango let out a sigh as he gazed at the extravagant colours that shone from the obscure clouds, blocking the sun, and glowed in the sky. He closed his eyes, and fell far away, letting his mind go to a place beyond reality.
But suddenly, he was shaken from his deep meditations, and he fell forward in to the earth, his heart raced, and he felt suddenly afraid, until he heard a voice only to familiar to him, older, but the juvenile influence still strong. "Thought you could out wit me eh?" he said.
Jango collected himself off the ground, and laughed, "Kalar.I should've known." But while his older friend laughed, Jango came round with a clenched fist and struck Kalar's jaw. And as his reaction, the boys suddenly went in to an angry brawl, rolling in through plants, and down and over boulders, punching and biting as they always did. Finally, they rolled down a steep ditch, away from the valleys of the Kings.
The two landed hard tangled up in one another, and Jango reached behind his sore back, said: "I think I broken something." And from behind his back he pulled out a stick and his fear of broken something had vanished. But underneath him, Kalar could be heard, "Oh! That was close," His face in front of a pile of dung. Jango laughed, brushing himself off, walking on to a leaf covered trail. But the two realized something was out of place, and the trail they were on was out of the land they trusted, out of the Grey Havens. Kalar leapt over when he knew that they were exposed in the open and hid behind a large boulder, there he hushed Jango, telling him to remain silent.
For a moment, they sat in silence, unable to make a move or sound, and Jango was getting impatient, beginning to wiggle about. But he quickly stopped, upon hearing the loud sound of many hooves marching upon ground. And above them marched many beasts, bearing men Fett could not recognize them, but he knew that these men were frightening and dangerous. They had cold metal hands, and their bodies were covered in thick black cloaks, that seemed to swallow light. And their faces, unemotional, but cold and terrible, Jango knew these weren't the real guise, but golden masks, that held a reddish tinge of blood that dripped down their hideous faces. Jango watched in horror, as he saw the leader, a young man with black hair and beard, his eyes like a vulture's, and he donned in black robes, linked by silver chains. Then he did something that wanted to make the boy cry out: He reached in to his black emptiness, and brought forth a blade of red, glowing, and ominous, then his soldiers followed, all of their blades shining bright. Jango shook is head in disbelief, but then he saw the group march away, behind a hill, to a far away battle.
Jango fell to his knees, and shook nervously, so much that he had to close his eyes. Knowing that they were now far away, Kalar stepped beside his friend and helped him up the slope in which they fell previously. But so many thoughts dwelled within young Jango's head, and a terrible hate washed over him, and he tore away from his friend, shouting: "I hate them! Every single one of them!"
Kalar was almost taken aback when he saw the evil glint in Jango's eyes, but it suddenly faded, and was replaced by grief and despair. "Th- they killed Lune.. And all of those families." murmured Jango shakily. But Kalar could not bring Jango from his grief, but he sat beside his friend and hugged him. Then Jango wiped the tears from his face and gazed out among the far purple mountains, and said: "Kalar,"
"Yes?" replied Kalar.
"Your father, he is out there fighting the Sith?"
Kalar sighed, as if a great pain pierced his heart, but he said, "Yes,"
"Do you think he is dead.or dying?"
"We all die, little Jango," then Kalar also watched as the sun crawled deeper behind the mountains, "And soon I will be out there." But Jango could not hear him.
Then hate began to boil inside of Jango, and he clenched his fists in rage, but the held it back, and sighed. Said, "I want to be a Mandalorian Warrior. I want to be out there in battle where I belong, I want to kill all of the Sith. To die in battle is what I should do, not sit helplessly as the enemy marches through until we are all dead.that just isn't me."
Kalar shook his head, "Jango, death and battle is not something to anticipate, it is something a man can change in profound ways. My father had once been kind, but the toils of battle turned him in to a monster, unable to feel or to have any care for another."
Jango remained silent, and then he said quietly, "When you have to go there, will you become a monster?"
"When will that be?"
"Soon; Enjoy childhood while you have it still." Then nothing else could be said, except their good byes and then they parted and set off to their homes.
Late that night, Jango curled tightly under his blankets; his face looked blood red in the firelight. His father sat down on the bed that sat adjacent from him. Jango looked up at his father and asked, "Father, What was mother like?"
Suddenly, Ambu looked deep in to his son's eyes and his face grew sad, as if Jango had stabbed him in his soul and put salt on his wound. "You were too young to have known her."
Jango listened intently as his father tried to stutter his father out from a dark past, "She was kind, and very beautiful, but she was sad.and when I look at you, you remind me of her cheerfulness, and you have her eyes, which make me ashamed." Ambu held back his tears, but still they broke and fell silently down his cheek.
"She grew ill, after you were born."
"Papa. I'm sorry." Jango pleaded
"No, it wasn't your fault, she was already ill before, but she held it back hard. That's why I think you don't belong as a farmer's boy, but a man among the stars; respected and wise."
And in Jango's opinion, his father sounded as though he were going to die soon. Then Ambu regained his strength and his voice became stern, as though the black shadow that his mother slept inside was back in forever lost. "Let us speak no more of her." said his father, turning his back to Jango and falling asleep. The boy sat at the edge of his bed, looking deep in to the fire's embers. Soft sighs came from his father on the other bed, and he thought that Ambu was crying, but gave it no other thought and fell asleep.
Jango awoke early the next morning, before his father had awakened, and got dressed and nabbed his guitar, darting outside and found the valley of the Kings where he often played or sought solitude beyond his farm. The sun had not yet rose, but all that could be seen was a yellow smear against the purple black sky. Excitedly, Jango leapt on to his favorite rock and began to play wildly, his smile beaming with joy as he watched as the sun began to ride up through her cloudy bed and spread her light over the dark sky. Lavender, rose and gold filled the entire sky, and warmed the rocks and earth. And Jango jumped from his perch and danced excitedly to the guitar's music.
Far away, the Mandalorian warriors could look up and see light in the sky, after days of darkness, and smiles found its way to their faces as they could faintly hear the tunes of a boy's guitar.
Updated July 28, 2015
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