This is a list of stories I'm working on, hope to work on soon, and am developing ideas for. Keep in mind that this list can and will change depending on what I'm interested in at any given time and what else is going on in my life.
Currently Working On:
Star Wars Original Trilogy Short Novel
Dark Medieval Fantasy (Alternative Universe Han/Leia novella) - Inspired by this Tumblr post. Leia is in search of her missing brother Luke, who was in training to be a wizard before their parents were killed and he was kidnapped. He's not the only one who has disappeared. The queen is dying. Her greedy, power-hungry adviser Palapatine is taking over the throne. The queen once had a son, Prince Hannel, but he vanished and is presumed dead. It's rumored that Palapatine is really a dark sorcerer who worked some terrible enchantment on the missing prince.
Leia finds a man imprisoned in a dungeon in a remote corner of the kingdom. The bedraggled man with the auburn hair had once worn fine robes, but now has no idea who he is. All Leia knows is he's insufferably stubborn, an excellent shot with a bow and arrow, and is always accompanied by an enormous Wookie wolf. The two are eventually joined by an eccentric old wizard and a mysterious unicorn with sad blue eyes as they try to find out who the silent man is and avenge Leia's family.
Coming Up Next:
Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
Resistance Kids: The Last Good Cop (Alternative Universe - 1950's) - Rey is the first student at Luke's new police school, but he's wondering if he should give up teaching after the destruction of his previous school. Meanwhile, the First Order Gang is back on the street, including Ben Solo, and they're gunning for blood...and for Finn to rejoin them. Then Poe's beloved sports car blows to bits in front of his eyes, and Hank vanishes and his business is ransacked.
Hello Leia! (Alternative Universe - Musical-Inspired) - Leia Solo-Levi is the best-known matchmaker in New York City in 1907. She's hired by her ex-husband Harold Solo to find a match for their son Benjamin, who can't make up his mind between the severe police chief's daughter and anarchic son of one of New York's richest men. What she wants is to re-marry her husband, but he has his eyes on a woman in town. Meanwhile, she engineers a meeting between Harold's clerks Poe and Finn and two cute girls in Manhattan, Rey and Rose. They all come together at Harmonia Gardens, the restaurant owned by Leia's brother Luke, for a most memorable evening.
Star Wars Original Trilogy
Tales of the Gold Wookie (Alternative Universe 1930's Adventure) - It's 1939. Layla and Luke Skylark are fresh out of the University of Arizona and ready to change the world. She's an archaeologist; he's a reporter. While Luke is content to be an intern for world-weary veteran crime reporter Benton Kennally, Layla is far more ambitious. She wants to find lost treasures for her idol, museum owner Marta Mothma. Her current obsession is rescuing the (reportedly magical) lost royal jewels of the Kingdom of Alderaan from nasty General Tarkin and the Empire.
Luke convinces her to hire Harry Solomon, a pilot with a dilapidated plane who runs his own charter service, to take them to where the treasures were last seen. Layla's not happy with the idea at first. Harry is rude, arrogant, and only cares about getting his share of the treasure. Not to mention, some of his former bosses make Tarkin look like a kitten. Tarkin has his own formidable underling, the corrupt industrialist Derek Vader. After Kennally gets into trouble with Vader, Luke insists on bringing along venerable old Asian archaeology professor Takamashi Yoda as their guide.
Fairy and Folk Tales
Once Upon a Time In the Land of WENN (Alternative Universe Fantasy/Fairy Tale) - Even when Elizabeth and the others leave Port Harbor, looking for the Emerald Talisman, trouble follows. Lady Gloria Redmond has no desire to even discuss the magic that caused her so much grief. There's also the evil candy witch Pavla Nemcova, who has both Jeff Singer and Sir Victor Comstock in her grasp, to contend with.
Star Wars Saga
A Star Wars Christmas Carol (Alternative Universe - 1840's/Christmas Carol) - Anakin Scrooge is the stingiest man in Victorian London. He barely pays his son Luke to work as his clerk and mostly ignores his strong-willed daughter Leia. He learns the importance of charity when he receives visits on Christmas Eve from four ghosts...and realizes that he may still have a second chance to save not only himself, but stop his grandson Benjamin from following in his footsteps.
Star Wars Original Trilogy
Superhero Story (Alternative Universe 1970's Superhero/Action Fantasy) - Leah O'Malley is an intern in corrupt Coruscant City by day in 1977. By night, she's Force Girl, a superheroine who is a member of the Rebel League, a society of superheroes and vigilantes who fight the regime of the evil Mayor Palapatine and the devious Chief of Police/super villain Derek Veder. Lucas Weston is a geeky college kid and major comics fan who discovers that the owner of a local book store/comics shop was once The Negotiator, a great World War II/Golden Era superhero...and that Lucas is the inheritor of a superheroic dynasty. Lucas seeks help from Harris Arietta, a carpenter and handyman whose dog Chewbacca always rides with him and acts as a Team Pet.
Original Snow Queen-Inspired Action/Fantasy - Set in the three years between New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and my first story set within the regular Star Wars universe. Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke are on a diplomatic mission to buy supplies from a snow planet that's remained neutral in the battle between the Empire and Rebellion. Leia's hoping to sway them to the Alliance's side. Unlike Hoth, this planet is inhabited, mainly by criminals and nasty goblins. It's queen is a shrewd magician with her own ice-based powers. The goblins, determined to make mischief, get slivers of a Force-sensitive crystal in Luke's eyes and heart. It turns him into the opposite of his usual self...making him cold and distant to his two best friends. Leia, Han, and Chewie have to dodge the planet's shadier citizens and a summer witch with her own plans in order to free Luke from the goblins' spell and find out just what the Snow Queen is up to.
Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
Fairy and Folk Tales
Little Red Riding Rose
Captain Victor, Man of Power (Alternative Universe Superhero/Action) - Set directly after the first season episode "There But Before Grace." Tired of dealing with (and being run all over by) sponsors and confused about his feelings for Betty and Grace Cavendish, Victor Comstock imagines himself as one of those new superheroes that have become popular with the kids, Jeff as his sidekick, Betty as the new girl reporter on the block, C.J as a scientist, Ceila as the daughter of a missing scientist and Victor's other sidekick, Hilary as a snooty actress-turned-society-reporter, Mackie as their boss, and Grace as a Dragon Lady-type villaness.
The Best Radio Christmas Pageant Ever - A kind of "missing scene" story set during the early first season. Victor wants to present the story of the Nativity on the airwaves, but the kids starring in the show are unruly, Hilary wants a bigger role, the sponsor is turning the show into a commercial, and Ceila will have nothing to do with it. And there's reports of a major snowstorm heading for Pittsburgh...
On the Edge of the Precipice Series
The Fox and the Falcon - Betty finds herself head over heels involved in espionage when the true leader of the spy ring becomes known...and Victor Comstock returns with startling news...
Remember WENN Fairy Tale Series
Hilary's Story: Beauty and the Beast - Wrap-around segments set day after fourth-season episode "You've Met Your Match." Story based around third and fourth season. Angry at Scott and Jeff for their behavior the night before and in the past few months in general, Betty and Hilary concoct the story of two sisters who discover that the beastly owner and manager of a dilapidated theater may not be what they appear on the outside...or even inside...
Mr. Eldridge and Gertie's Story: The Man Who Minded the House - Set after and based around the fourth season episode "Work Shift." Mr. Eldridge recalls the story of how a man and a woman (him and Gertie) learn that the grass isn't always greener in someone else's work area when he takes over her household duties and she works in the fields.
Needs Work/On Hold:
Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
The Road to Coruscant (Mid 20th Century Alternative Universe) - Ben Kenobi and Anakin Walker are singers taking their vaudeville act on the road. Anakin is forever coming up with moneymaking schemes that get them into a few little problems with the law, to the annoyance of Martin Windu, their long-suffering manager. They have no problems romancing the ladies, either...until they encounter beautiful, elegant dancer Patricia Amidala. Patricia, a genuine noblewoman, is in a heap of trouble with the nasty Count Dooku and Lord Palpatine. Anakin says it's up to them to get her out of it. Ben...wishes they could just go home to Los Angeles, but Anakin is his best friend, so he does it anyway.
Fairy and Folk Tales
Star Wars Original Trilogy
Han Solo, Galactic Private Eye (Alternative Universe) - Han is a laid-back private eye in his dilapidated ship, with his wookie partner Chewbacca by his side. Old Ben Kenobi, who sometimes gives him work, finds him a doozy - help his friend Luke Skywalker find Leia Organa, the daughter of a prince, who was carrying some very vital information to Alderaan when she was kidnapped by a nasty war lord. (Haven't decided if this one is going to stay in the Star Wars universe, or be moved elsewhere.)
Western (Alternative Universe Western Adventure) - It's 1867 in the untamed plains of Coruscant, Idaho. Former homesteader Luke Walters longs to be a sheriff, like his late daddy Anthony was before him. He may get his chance at an apprenticeship when the current sheriff, Ol' Ben MacKenner, deputizes him to help rescue rancher's daughter Leia Ortez from the bandits who have raided and burned her home. They also get more dubious assistance from Harry Solo, a shady gunrunner, and his partner, Native American warrior Chewbacca.
The Music Han
Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
The Wizard of Oz (Alternative Universe Fantasy-Wizard of Oz-inspired) - Rachel "Rey" Gale lives with her Aunt Leah and Uncle Harry and their two farmhands on a farm outside of Jakkuson, Kansas in 1939. She feels like her life is as gray as the world around her, especially after the nasty man who runs the First Order Manor near-by threatens to take her beloved Westie Terrier BeeBee to the pound and her grouchy cousin demands his share of the farm. A tornado whisks Rey and BeeBee over the rainbow and into the land of Oz. Oz is under the tyrannical rule of the Warlock of the West and his apprentice. Queen Leia was imprisoned in her own magic bubble and banished to the lands of the South, where she amasses an army to stop him. She once ruled with her husband and her wizard brother, but her husband vanished after he was attacked by her son, and her brother is hiding in the Emerald City. Rey has to go to the Emerald City to find the Wizard Skywalker, with the help of a cowardly lion-soldier, a scarecrow who had once worked for the queen, and the Tin Smuggler, who seems to know a lot more about the queen and the Warlock of the West and his apprentice than he'll let on...
1920's Melodrama (Alternative Universe - Roaring 20's Action/Adventure) - Rowena "Rey" Knight has traveled all the way from England to work with the great Luke Waterson, the most decorated and popular reporter to ever have written for the Hosnia City Daily Star. But when she arrives, Hosnia is under siege from the First Order Company, a criminal organization that uses a legitimate business as a front for everything from bootlegging to kidnapping to gambling. Luke Waterson has gone into hiding behind his desk at the Daily Star. His sister, Leia Waterson-Solomon, is the town's mayor, but she and her task force, including bush pilot Poe Damerez, can't hold out much longer against Arlington Snoke and his protege Kylo Ren. The arrival of Rey and former First Order Company worker Finn Finnegan may be what Leia needs to turn the tide.
1980's Nightclub Story (Alternative Universe - Action/Comedy) - It's 1981. Poe Damerez, with money provided by his boss, Galactic Records owner and president Leia Wallace, has just bought the former Rebel Alliance nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, just a few minutes outside of Philadelphia. He's hoping to reopen it as a dance club and music showplace...and that his first act will be no less than Leia and the Falcons. The Falcons started as a jazz trio after World War II, before adding two more members and moving on to becoming a pioneering rock and folk group.
Poe has several headaches from the get-go. First of all, while Leia is all for playing a one-time-only gig, none of her former band mates agree. Harry "Han Solo" Shaw, the manager and saxophonist, is now a manager for several low-level groups who is known for his shady activities. Guitarist and dancer Luke "Skywalker" Wallace is living in retirement in Philadelphia and has no desire to rejoin the music business. Laurence "Lando" Craydon has vanished all together. There's also Leia's business partner Amilyn Holdo, who is wary of the entire scheme. Not to mention, the First Order Company is after the land to build a shopping center...and their vice-president Kylo Ren has his own reasons for not wanting the Rebel Alliance Club rise again.
Maltese Falcon Film Noir Spoof II (Alternative Universe Film Noir/Mystery) - Wrap-around set during the late third or early fourth seasons. Hilary and Scott give two different sides of the tale of a dame who may or may not have gotten a private eye involved with smuggling and murder.
Ceila Short Story - Missing scene set during the first season episode "A Capitol Idea." Ceila says good-bye to the station after she's hired by the guy who wanted her to promote Blondie cartoons.
Fairy Tale Series
Jeff's Story - Aladdin and His Magic Lamp
C.J's Story - Jack and the Beanstalk
Victor's Story - King Arthur
Ceila's Story - Goldielocks and the Three Bears
Eugenia and Mr. Foley's Story
Original Children's Short Stories
Stories based after childhood memories, including:
Painting someone else's fence.
Little kids running through other people's yards when Mom and Dad aren't looking.
Beach frolics - walking home from the beach as a child
Friday, March 2, 2018
This is the second of the two lesser-known Grimm's Fairy Tales I'm adopting. I was inspired to do this one after reading The Thrawn Trilogy for the first time since the late 90's. I'm not the biggest fan of the Extended Universe. The books themselves frequently get too complicated, with too many characters, too much going on, and too many bizarre plot lines that make no sense. One thing I do like about it are some of the creative characters that do stand out. Mara Jade became the second strong female character in the Star Wars universe after Princess Leia. In the books and comics of the 90's and 2000's (spoiler alert) she marries Luke Skywalker, despite having been out to kill him at first. I thought I'd play with that a bit, and with Luke's status as one of the nicest guys in the entire Star Wars series...
Disclaimer: The franchise belongs to George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.
Once upon a time, old Ben the miller lived at his grain mill on the edge of the stream with his three apprentices, Luke, Lando, and Han. When it came time for him to retire, he had neither wife nor child. He gathered his three apprentices together. “I will leave the mill to whomever can find the best horse, and a wife to help them run the business.”
The trio walked together until they reached a certain fork in the road. “Here's where we part company,” Lando told the two younger men. “I will go to the City of the Clouds. I'm sure to win a horse with my great luck and charm the ladies with my new suit of clothes.”
“I'll be going to Alderaan.” Han shouldered his satchel. “They say the horses there run wild and free. I'm sure to be able to tame a fine one.” The tall man smirked. “I heard the ladies there are almost as wild. I like a woman with a little spunk to her.” He chuckled at the youngest apprentice. “What of you, Luke? You don't have the connections we do. You spend most of your time with Ben and the mill.”
“Oh, I'm sure I'll find something.” Luke gave them one of his sunny smiles. “I'll buy a nice horse in town, or ask about them at the nearest farm, and I'm sure there will be a nice girl in town I will be able to court.” It was true that he was the youngest of the three, and that he usually spent most of his time with Ben at the mill. On their nights off, when Han and Lando went into town to drink with pretty girls and take part in games of chance, he remained with Ben at his little cottage, listening to his stories and helping him tend to his home. Han and Lando were fond of him, but they sometimes thought him a little strange.
They had no sooner went their separate ways than Luke found himself lost in the great dark Endor woods, just outside of Coruscant City. He'd heard the stories about the strange creatures that lived in these woods. The former ruler was said to have been an evil sorcerer named Palpatine, who held the area with an iron fist, turning anyone who disobeyed him into animals.
“I wish I could find my way out!” Luke shivered. “I heard there's ghosts and monsters and all manner of evil dark creatures in this land. All I want is a horse!”
“I can help you find a horse.” A long, lithe tabby cat with fur like a shining orange sunset and deep-green eyes batted at his heels. “I'll just need for you to do do some work for me for a few years.”
“I don't mind working,” the boy admitted, “but how could you help me?”
“Follow me, young man.” She took off into the woods. He hurried after her, his legs not quite as limber as hers.
The ginger-furred feline lead him to an old black castle on a hillside. “Goodness!” The youth exclaimed. “You're quite a wealthy kitty, if you own such a fine home!”
The cat coughed a bit as she lead him across the drawbridge. “It's, er, not mine. My, er, guardian used to live here. I took over when he died.”
Four tiny kittens, three with orange fur, one with gray, were licking their paws in the main hall when she arrived. “Servants!” she called to them, clapping her paws. “I want you to attend to this young man. He is our newest addition to the household. He will take over the household chores and tend to the stables. For tonight, however, I wish for you to find him a nice bed to sleep in and food for him to eat. I'm sure he would not prefer the mice pudding and flaked fish we fancy.”
Luke was taken upstairs to the biggest bedroom he'd ever seen. The cats brought him a meal of fish and vegetable soup and fresh bread. Two kittens combed his golden hair; another brushed the leaves and twigs off his coat and trousers.
When they were done, they lead him to the music room. He was surprised to see a group of larger cats playing the fiddle, the horn, and the viola, their song an old tune that had once been a favorite of the previous owner of the castle. The kittens leaped merrily around them, as nimble and quick as lightning.
“Dance with me, Luke!” The ginger cat pranced on her hind legs before him. “I do enjoy dancing, but I haven't had a partner in years.”
“But you're a cat!” Luke protested. “You can't dance!”
“You'd be surprised!” She swayed before him, managing to skip around on her hind feet. Luke joined her, even if it felt a bit odd to be dancing with a cat.
The moment he started yawning, the ginger cat bade her kittens to take Luke upstairs to his room. They removed his yellow coat and black wool trousers and stockings and heavy shoes and settled him into the massive canopy bed. The ginger cat herself blew out his candle.
Something tickled Luke's nose the next morning. His blue eyes met a pair of round green ones, with a long ginger tail rubbing around his face. “Rise and shine, my servant,” the marmalade-furred pussy purred. “It's time for you to dress and begin your duties.”
“Wha...huh?” Luke sat up gingerly as two white cats pulled off his blankets. “What duties?”
“Your duties as my servant, of course!” She nodded as two cats hauled in hot water. “This is for you to wash in. As cats, we like to keep ourselves clean.” Indeed, the cats scrubbed him with their paws, then wiped him with their soft tails and dressed him.
The ginger cat lead him downstairs to the courtyard, which was filled with wood. She nudged at a silver ax. “The first thing you are to do is chop wood. Make sure you chop it very small.”
Luke did it, and did it well. Chopping wood for their fires was one of his duties for Master Ben. He chopped wood every day for several weeks. When he finished, the ginger cat appraised his work. “Very good, servant. Just perfect.” She nodded as three cats pulled a small sled right to the foot of the log pile. “Now, load those logs onto that sled, and we'll take them around back. I have another job for you to do.”
He shrugged and did as he was told, carrying the remainder that didn't fit onto the sled himself. They followed the cats with the sled to the clearing. It was a wide meadow covered in tall grass and flowers, about five leagues from the main castle. Luke could understand why she liked this place. It had a fine view of a sparkling brook and the Naboo Mountains.
The ginger cat picked a scythe made of silver off the sled. “After you've stacked the wood, I want you to cut the grass in the field, then dry it for the horses and cattle in the stables.”
Luke did as he was bade. It once again took him many weeks, but he finally got all the grass dried and bound with twine. The ginger cat and several of her servants approached him as soon as the last bundle was in the hay loft.
One of the cats had a carpenter's box between his teeth. Luke took it from him. In it were tools of the carpenter's trade, but the saw and wedge were silver and the mallet was copper. “These are beautiful!” Luke gasped. “Where did you get such fine tools?” He took the saw out to admire it.
“They belonged to my guardian, the previous owner of this castle.” She brought him to roughly the center of the now-cleared meadow. “I want you to build a little cabin for us right here.”
“A cabin?” Luke scratched the back of his head? “But why?”
“I have my reasons.” The ginger cat just glared at him. “Well, are you going to stand there, or start building? It'll be winter soon. You'll want to do as much as you can before the frost sets in.”
Luke was beginning to wonder if he would ever get his horse. It took him years to build that house with just the cat's help. No one but the cats and the animals in the stables seemed to live here. He hadn't seen another human since he left the mill. While he continued to dance at night with the ginger cat, during the day, she continued to be rather brusque with him, treating him like little more than a slave.
When he asked her if he could have some new clothes, since his old ones were growing threadbare, the ginger cat shook her head. “I'm sorry, but the only clothes left in the castle belonged to my guardian, and he was much shorter and broader across the shoulders than you were. They wouldn't fit.” The youth continued wearing his old yellow coat, which was falling to shreds around him.
A year flew by as if they were six weeks. It was a sunny day in early spring when Luke declared the little house finished. “I'm really proud of it, Kitty,” Luke told the ginger cat. “I've never built anything like this with my own two hands before. I wish my friends Han and Lando could see it.” He sighed. “I miss them, and Ben. Ben is so wise and kind, and even though they tease me, I love Han and Lando like brothers.”
“Then it's time you returned to them.” The ginger cat jumped down from the window sill where she was perched. “I promised you a horse. Let's go select the finest horse I have in my stable.”
All the horses looked up as Luke arrived. He'd grown to love each and every one. They were the most beautiful animals he'd ever seen, far nicer than any of the horses that drove Ben's cart. A shining horse with a glossy white coat and creamy bluish mane nudged Luke's head. “This one,” he said. “Ben will love her! Besides, she's my favorite in the stable. I don't think I could part with her.”
“Very well.” The ginger cat meowed at the horse, who nodded. “Artoo and I will be along in three day's time. Let's get you some lunch. After you eat, my servants will show you the way out.”
“Kitty,” Luke said as they went back to the castle, “don't you like me?”
The ginger cat stopped for a minute. “Yes,” she said simply. “You're a...well, you're a good friend. I don't know why you're so good to a cat, but you are. You've done everything I've asked you to, and performed very well.”
“Because you're my friend.” He leaned over and gave the cat a kiss. “You were nice enough to give me this horse and a place to stay. And you're a good dancer, for a cat!”
The cat turned nearly as red as her fur for a second before she regained her composure. “Yes, well, I'll see you in three day's time.”
Luke was lead to the main road by three strong Siamese cats. He walked back to the mill, since most folks took one look at his tattered coat and trousers and went right by him. He didn't mind. He enjoyed the stroll, now that he knew where he was going.
He arrived at the mill only a few hours later. Lando and Han were already there. Han had a small, feisty noblewoman on his arm and was bringing a strong, fuzzy brown horse to the stable behind the mill. Lando trotted over on a sleek golden mare, followed by a woman with lavender curls and a lacy gown as expensive as Lando's gold and blue cape and trousers.
“Hey, kid.” Han raised his eyes at what was left of Luke's clothes. “What happened to you? And why do you smell like cat?”
“You guys won't believe what happened to me!” Luke's big smile was as bright as the sun. “I worked for an orange tabby. She was kind of bossy, and she gave me a lot of jobs to do, but she finally gave me the most beautiful white horse I ever saw. She told me it'll be along in three days.”
“Luke,” Lando started slowly, “I know these woods are full of ghosts and witches and things, but...cats can't talk.”
“Maybe they can.” The girl with the two buns on her head climbed off Han's furry horse. “I've heard a lot of stories in Alderaan about the wicked Emperor Palpatine, who turned his entire household into animals before he died, including his adopted daughter.” The girl smiled at Luke. “By the way, my name is Countess Leia Organa. My friend over there is Lady Amilyn Holdo.”
Her purple-haired friend nodded. “I've heard the story, too. He wanted her to help him turn all of his enemies in the kingdom into animals, but she refused. He turned on them instead before he was killed in battle.”
Ben came out next. “Luke!” He hugged the boy. “I've missed you, lad.” The old miller gazed over Luke's shoulder. “What happened to your clothes, my boy? And where is your horse? Did you meet any ladies?”
“My clothes? Oh.” Luke looked down at himself. “The cat said she didn't have anything that would fit me. As for my horse, it'll be along in three days.” His face fell. “But I never met any ladies. Only a girl cat. I guess she counts.”
“I'm afraid you're going to have to sleep in the stables for a few days, my boy.” Ben sighed. “We can give you a good scrub in the metal tub, but we really have no clothes that will fit you.”
So Luke lived in the stables for three days. He didn't mind. He enjoyed making friends with Han's horse Chewbacca and Lando's mare Lady Luck and helping to clean out their stalls. The young man was sure they would be great friends with his white horse Artoo.
On the morning of the third day, the most beautiful golden carriage anyone at the mill had ever seen pulled up to the main building, pulled by six horses. A page in golden livery helped a stunning red-headed princess in a black and gold gown and a jewel-studded crown alight. Leia and Amilyn's eyes widened.
“That's her!” Amilyn gasped. “That's the Princess Mara! She disappeared years ago! I heard she angered her protector so much, he sealed her away in his castle.”
Ben Kenobi bowed low before her. “You honor our humble mill, Your Highness.” He kissed her hand. “I was a knight myself once, before I opened my mill. I'm afraid my lord is long gone now. How may I be of service to you?”
Mara tossed her fiery mane of red-orange hair. “You have an apprentice named Luke Skywalker here?”
“Yes,” Ben admitted. “He's in the stables, tending to the horses. His clothes are a bit of a mess. We've sent out for fabric to make him new ones...”
“No need for that.” One of her servants brought out a small trunk. “I've brought him the finest clothes money can buy in town.” The gold-clad servant brought the white horse to Ben. “And I believe you asked your apprentices to bring a horse and a woman to wed. Here is the horse.” She gave him a small smile. “And I am his woman.”
Luke clutched the ragged remains of his coat around him Han brought him to the group. “I'm sorry, Your Highness,” he stammered, “but I was tending to the horses, and I know I have hay in my hair, and my coat is practically falling off me. I'll get a better coat as soon as I'm paid...”
Mara stopped his prattle with a kiss. “Don't you recognize your Kitty?”
“Kitty?” Luke's blue eyes tripled in size. “You can't be! She...but you're...”
Mara nodded. “I was the ward of Emperor Sheev Palpatine. My guardian taught me some magic, hoping I'd use it against his enemies. I turned many innocent people into animals before he told me to use it against a prince who had never harmed anyone. I refused, and he turned me and everyone in our castle into cats before dying himself. The only way the magic could be reversed was if a young man with a good heart agreed to work for me for a year, obey all commands, and take nothing that wasn't offered from him.”
She gave him a gentle kiss. “He also had to befriend me and kiss me, even though I was a cat and not much of a friend.”
“I...did?” Luke looked over his shoulder at his employer. “Ben...would you minded terribly if I didn't take the mill?”
“Yeah.” Han put an arm around Leia. “I kind of lost interest, too. Leia and I will be going back to her kingdom to race horses and help her parents keep an eye on things.”
Lando grinned at Amilyn. “Lady Holdo and I have a room at Cantino Bight, the biggest casino town in all the kingdoms, reserved just for us. We're going to paint the town red, then have a little fun doubling our money at the Bespin Casino.”
“I'm getting too old to run this place anyway.” Ben shrugged. “Maybe it's time I thought about selling.”
“You can come back with us.” Luke took his master's hand. “We'd be glad to have your counsel.”
And that's just what they did. Mara ordered Luke to wash and dress in the clothes she brought. When his servants were finished with him, he looked as handsome as any prince in his white and silver clothes and silver crown. She and Luke returned to the castle...to find that Luke's cottage had been transformed into a larger, even more stunning castle of silver and gold. She and Luke lived in the castle, while Ben resided in the older palace, tending to the gardens and the remaining cats until he died. The kind old man never had to touch a millstone again. Han and Leia became revered horse-breeders in Alderaan, with Leia taking over for her own parents on the kingdom's council when they stepped down, while Lando and Amilyn continued traveling from casino town to casino town, looking for their next big win.
Luke eventually wed Princess Mara...and no one ever said again that a young person of no importance couldn't become someone special.
Monday, February 26, 2018
My next story is the first of two I'm doing that's based after a lesser-known Grimm's Fairy Tale. This one mostly sticks to the original tale, with a few revisions in the castle sequence to fit the Star Wars characters. Poe Dameron is determined to save his ailing adopted mother and help his uncle and ward escape an enchanted castle. But there's treachery afoot. His adopted brothers Armitage and Benjamin would rather be the ones who sat on the throne...and they're determined to do whatever is necessary to make sure that Poe doesn't stay in their mother's favor.
“I...huh?” The young man shook his head to clear it. “Oh, this. It was in the weapons room downstairs.” He raised an eyebrow. “I'm sorry, but...who are you? I know I've seen you somewhere before...”
Disclaimer: The franchise belongs to George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.
Once upon a time, Queen Leia of Naboo had three sons. Hot-tempered and moody Prince Benjamin was her own child by her late husband, King Han. She had adopted Prince Armitage and Prince Poe from neighboring kingdoms. Armitage and Benjamin were haughty and spoiled, forever taunting their brother about his lower status and having come from a smaller kingdom. Good-natured Poe just laughed and ignored their teasing, preferring to ride around the countryside astride his orange paint pony Bee Bee.
It came a time when the good queen fell ill. Her three sons gathered around her sick bed as Lor San Tekka, the old magician and healer, shook his head. “I'm sorry, boys. The only thing that may save her is The Water of Life.”
“The Water of Life?” Prince Benjamin raised an eyebrow, looking rather like his ever-skeptical father. “I thought that was just a myth. Our Uncle Luke of Atch-To, his ward, and their Jedi knights went looking for it years ago, but they never returned.”
Poe nodded, frowning. “Mother Leia misses him terribly. I think that's part of why she got sick. Uncle Luke and Father Han were the loves of her life, and she pines for them.”
“His Majesty was right, of course.” Lor San Tekka pulled a dusty old book from the queen's library. “The Water of Life exists in the old Castle of Jakku. If you can find King Luke and his court, you'll find the castle.” He showed them the map in the book. “It's a dangerous undertaking, passing through the Takodana Forest and over the Starkiller Mountains, but if you succeed, it will save your mother. She may even be so grateful, she'll make the ones who bring it back her sole heir.”
“I'll do it.” Prince Benjamin stepped up to the magician. “I'm the oldest, and Mother's real son. I'll go.”
So the Prince Benjamin rode off on his magnificent black stallion Nine-E. Upon his entrance into the Takodana Forest, he encountered a strange little old woman outside of a tavern. She had wrinkled red skin and enormous glasses that made her blink owlishly.
“Hey, old lady,” he called, “do you know the way to the Castle of Jakku?”
“I do indeed.” She looked up from the well, where she was gathering water. “I'll help you, if you'll stop and have a bite and a bit of water with me.”
“Oh please.” Benjamin rolled his eyes. “Look, you old crone, I don't have the time for this. Just tell me where the castle is.”
“Over there.” She pointed into the trees. “Through the Starkiller Mountain pass. But I must warn you, it's very narrow. No human or animal can pass through it.”
“I can. I'm the best rider in the Kingdom of Naboo.” He pushed her aside. “Move, lady. I have magic healing water to find.”
But the old lady was right, as it turned out. The pass between the mountains was so narrow, Prince Benjamin and his mount soon became stuck fast. They couldn't get out, no matter how hard they struggled.
When Benjamin didn't return, Armitage begged to go next. “I'm a much better rider than that silly fool,” he sniffed. “I'll bring back the water and become the next heir.”
Armitage took up on his orange mare Millicent, following the same route through the Takodana Forest and past the tavern. He stopped by the old woman as she gathered water. “Missus, do you know the way to the Castle of Jakku?”
“I do.” The old woman frowned. “But first, I need some help with this water.”
“Help yourself,” the young red-head sniffed. “I'm too busy to fetch water. I must find this castle if I'm to become king.”
“Very well.” Maz pointed him towards the mountain pass. “Go that way. But be careful. It's narrow.”
“I'm an excellent rider.” Armitage smirked. “Unlike my brother Ben, I shall have no trouble.” But he too became stuck fast in the crevasse and couldn't move an inch.
When they didn't return, Poe begged to be sent out. Tekka was wary at first, but Poe pleaded so desperately, and the queen was so terribly ill, that he relented. The young prince set out on Bee Bee the very next day.
The old woman was still by the well when he arrived. “Hello, missus,” he said when he saw her struggling with the bucket of water. “Oh, let me help you with that!”
“Thank you, young man.” She smiled up at him as he took the bucket. “That's very kind of you. Would you like to have a bite of dinner and some water with me?”
Poe nodded. “I'd like that. Thank you, missus.”
“My name is Maz, young man.” He held the door open gallantly for her. “Thank you. And you are the Prince Poe, the adopted son of Queen Leia. I've heard many things about you, Your Highness. They said you had a good heart, unlike your spoiled brothers.”
“Thank you, Mistress Maz.” Poe sat down at the table in her rustic inn while she brought him thick, dark bread and hearty pork stew. “I appreciate your hospitality, but I can't stay for long. I must find the Water of Life. My mother, Queen Leia, is very sick. She may be dying. If I can't find the water...” He choked back a sob, wiping his eyes with a handkerchief. “I love her dearly. She took me in, raised me like I was her own son.”
“Queen Leia is a good ruler. Her husband King Han was, too. He was a dear friend of mine, many years ago. Everyone was heartbroken when he passed on.” Maz leaned into a cupboard. “I'd rather see you rule the kingdom than one of those obnoxious brothers of yours.”
She emerged with three loaves of bread, some dried meat, and a key. “Some of this dried meat and bread is for you on your journey. The rest is to feed the lions who guard the gates. The key will open the gates and any door in the entire castle. But you must not be there for longer than 12 hours. Otherwise, the sorcerer who owns the castle will place you under a trance and keep you there forever.”
Poe moved on after he ate and paid Maz for her kindness. She gave him a more accurate map than Lor San Tekka's, one that took him around the Starkiller Mountains and across the dusty desert plains of Jakku. The castle was hidden in an oasis, a lush green valley in the desert sands.
Poe lead Bee Bee up to the gates, tying her to a near-by palm. “Is anyone there?” There were two lions on either side of the gates. Poe tossed them the bread. It distracted them long enough for him to open the gate with the key.
Beyond the gate was a well filled with shining, sweet water in the center of the most beautiful garden he'd ever seen. Shady blossoming trees lined his path, and a stone bench was set out in the cool grass. The prince wanted badly to stop and rest among the brilliant flowers, but he first had to find King Luke and his retinue.
The doors creaked as he made his way into a dazzling hall, draped with fine tapestries and lit by soft lamps. Five knights in shining armor sat at a large table in the center of the room. They seemed to neither see, nor hear him. Poe took the rings from their fingers as proof he'd found them and moved on.
He spent several hours exploring the castle. In one room filled with weapons, he found a sword with a finely engraved silver handle and a blade made of glowing blue steel. It was so beautiful that he brought it with him. Wandering in the kitchen, he enjoyed a meal of the last of his dried meat and a loaf of bread that never seemed to end, no matter how many chunks he sliced from it. He took the loaf and some fruit from the cupboard for the journey home.
At last, he came to the tallest tower. It was so tall, it took the young man several hours to climb. Unlocking the heavy old oak door lead him into what appeared to be a cell. A young woman in a simple but elegant beige dress, with a crown over her shoulder-length brown hair, paced up and down before a pallet of straw.
Poe was so dazzled by her beauty, he didn't even notice when he stopped pacing to stare at his hip. “Where did you find my guardian's sword?”
“I...huh?” The young man shook his head to clear it. “Oh, this. It was in the weapons room downstairs.” He raised an eyebrow. “I'm sorry, but...who are you? I know I've seen you somewhere before...”
“I'm Princess Rey,” the girl explained. “The ward of King Luke of Atch-To. Wicked Sultan Snoke of Jakku intends to marry me and make Luke and the Jedi knights his slaves. He's already put Luke under the same trance as our knights and everyone else he has in this wretched place.” Rey nodded at the sword. “That's magic. Luke is a good sorcerer as well as a king. It'll kill anything it's swung at. You can level entire armies with one blow. The loaves can feed hundreds of people without end.”
They made their way out through the gardens. Rey gasped as a gentle, bearded old man in ragged robes passed them. “Luke!” She called to him. “Come on. We have to get out of here, before the gates close!”
But Luke neither heard, nor saw them. He glided by them like one in a dream. The duo watched as he stopped by the well and drew a heavy bucket of water.
“Luke!” Rey tugged at his cape. “Luke, please, it's me!” But he continued to ignore her. He brought the water to the gates, where he placed the bucket on the ground and dropped to his knees in reverence before a statue of a wrinkled old man.
“Isn't there anything we can do for him?” Poe asked, frowning. “My adopted mother Leia and my brothers and I miss him, and the kingdom of Atch-To mourns for their rulers.”
“The sword!” Rey grabbed the weapon from the scabbard on Poe's waist. “This will restore him. It's his magic.”
Poe put his hand around hers on the hilt. His deep black eyes gazed into her velvety brown ones. “We'll do this together. I have no magic, but I have my love. He's too good a man to be controlled like a puppet.”
Together, they lifted the sword over the enchanted king. The sword glowed a deep blue, sending light over the prone figure. When it subsided, Luke's eyes were now a clear blue, rather than muddy and dark.
“Where am I?” He gazed around him, as if seeing the gates for the first time. “What happened? The last thing I remember is that terrible Snoke casting his spell over me and my Jedi and carrying Rey off to the tower. Then...nothing.”
“Luke, we're free!” Rey hugged him. “We released you from the spell!”
“Poe.” Luke gave him a hug. “The last time I saw you, you were still in short pants. You've become such a fine young man! Leia did the right thing by taking you in after Lord Kes and Lady Shara died.”
“Thank you, Uncle.” Poe's grin fell as they moved away. “I'm afraid I can't linger here. Mother Leia is very sick. She may be dying. The Water of Life is the only thing that will cure her.”
“I can help with that.” Luke went back to the castle and returned with a small cup. He gathered water from the bucket into the cup and stopped it with a cork. “Here. This is the Water of Life. It's the reason the sorcerer wanted this place.”
“And I really think we ought to get the rest of our men and go, before we're all trapped here.” Rey took Poe's hand. “Let's go wake up those knights. And then...maybe we can spend some time in the garden together?”
Poe smiled. “I would love to, Princess.”
They did indeed awaken Luke's knights. While they prepared their horses in the stables, Poe and Rey took a walk around the gardens. They chatted the whole afternoon about this and that. Poe was delighted to see how much he and Rey had in common.
But they lingered too long. Luke interrupted their reverie hours later. “Rey!” He shouted. “We must leave at once! The gate is about to close!”
Poe looked at the just-lowering sun. “My god, has it really been twelve hours?”
Rey smiled at him. “Will you come visit us, after you bring the water back to your mother?”
“Give me a year to get things sorted out at home. Then I'll come back to you.” He gave her a small kiss. “I promise.”
Luke handed Poe the sword. “Keep this, and the bread, too. You may need it.”
They streaked through the gates just as they were closing. Poe was the last one out, just as the gates clanged shut. He was so close, the gates took off a small piece of his heel. He winced, but wrapped it up and continued back across the desert to the mountains, and then to Takodana.
Maz was waiting for him when he arrived at her tavern. “You did it, my boy. You found The Water of Life! Your mother...and your birth parents...would be so proud of you.”
“Thank you.” Poe sighed as he lead Bee Bee to the stables. “Not only did I find the water, but I freed my uncle and his ward.” Maz chuckled as Poe's face became dreamy. “Rey was so beautiful. I'd never seen a girl like her before.”
“And you'll never see her again if you stumble into the well.” Maz lead him around to the back. “I've heard of Luke's ward. They say she's as intelligent and brave as she is beautiful. She'll make a good match for you, my boy.”
Poe frowned as he gave Bee Bee some hay. “I only wish I knew what happened to my brothers. Armitage and Ben disappeared after they came this way. No one ever saw them again, and there was no mention of bodies.”
Maz made a face. “They're still stuck in the pass, where I left them. They're rude, inconsiderate, and selfish. Mark my words, boy. They care nothing about you or your mother. They just want the kingdom.”
“But they're still my brothers.” Poe followed her inside. “And it's not fair to them to be trapped like that forever.”
Maz stared at him for a moment, then sighed herself. “All right. I'll let them out tonight. I still think this is a mistake.”
Armitage and Benjamin rode to the tavern together the next day, complaining loudly about their long imprisonment. Poe rushed up to both of them and greeted them with hugs and slaps on the back. He told them everything that had transpired, from how Maz had helped him to his discovery of the castle and their uncle and his lovely ward. Benjamin and Armitage became sorely jealous, but they could do nothing while in Maz's domain.
They left for home the next morning. The trio first passed through the Kingdom of Bespin, which was under attack by the same Sorcerer of Jakku who owned the castle and his army, the First Order. Poe lent King Lando his sword to slay their armies, and his bread to feed his people. After the First Order had retreated, they went on their way.
The trio passed through two more lands, Queen Amilyn's Jurassic Fields and Queen Nora's Wextleyshire. Each time, they found that the First Order's armies had taken over. Poe would lend them the sword and the bread, and the queens would use them to destroy the sorcerer and his lackeys and feed their people. Benjamin even killed the sorcerer himself, slicing him in half with the sword.
Shortly after leaving Wextleyshire, they stopped at a small inn for the night. Benjamin and Armitage met in the common room while their brother slept upstairs. “This is a fine kettle of fish!” Armitage hissed. “Even though you were the one who killed Snoke, Poe will still get the kingdom and the hand of Uncle Luke's ward.”
“I agree. It's not fair. If that witch hadn't tricked us, we'd be the ones with the water.” He leaned over his ginger-haired brother. “Let's switch the water in his cup for the dirty water from the foul river near-by. Mother will think he tried to poison her and get rid of him. When we present her with the real water, she'll be so grateful, she'll make us the heirs.”
“That's an excellent idea.” Armitage smirked. “Let's do it now!”
Poe never saw Ben creep into his room and steal the cup. Nor did he witness Armitage take a similar cup from a shelf in the kitchen and fill it with river water. He never knew any of it, and chattered with his brothers as they left the next day as if nothing had happened.
They arrived at the castle soon after. Poe ran right to Leia's bedside with the cup. “Mother, I have it! I have the water! I found Uncle Luke and his daughter, too. They miss you and are hoping you'll be able to visit when you're well.”
The moment he brought it too her lips, she choked and gasped. Lor San Tekka grabbed the cup from him. “That's...that's not the Water of Life!” He poured it into a bowl by her bedside. “It's ordinary river water. Poe, how could you have lied to us?”
“Because he wanted to rule the kingdom so badly.” Armitage emerged behind them, with Benjamin following. “We were the ones who found the castle and the water, Lord Tekka. The kingdom is rightfully ours.”
“Poe is a liar and a cheat.” Benjamin held up the other cup. “This is the real water.” He sat down by the queen's bedside. “Here you go, Mother.” Indeed, the moment she sipped the water, she became as strong and hearty as she ever was.
Armitage and Benjamin were worried that Poe would give them away. They knew that neither their mother, nor Lor San Tekka entirely believed their story. That night, they ordered a huntsman who worked for them to take Poe out on his horse to a remote spot in Naboo and kill him.
Finn was the huntsman's name. In truth, he had a kind heart, and while he loved and admired Queen Leia, he disliked her elder sons. He did take Poe to the spot, but instead of killing him, he knelt before him. “My allegiance is to you, my liege, not your brothers. They are arrogant and selfish and never have a gentle word to say to any of us huntsmen. I would rather see you on the throne than them.”
“Thank you, Finn.” The young prince frowned. “But I don't think it's a good idea to return now. We'll have to seek shelter until we can figure out my brothers' treachery.”
“My friend Rose lives with her sister Paige in the Kingdom of Cantonica.” Finn nodded towards the shining spires over the hills. “Canto Bight, where they have a house, is one of the largest cities in any kingdom. It'll be easy to hide there.”
Indeed, the two young women were more than glad to take them in. Canto Bight was an enormous city, even larger than Amidala City in Naboo. It was constantly crowded with people of all walks of life, and the tallest, brightest buildings the prince had ever seen. No one asked Poe any questions when Rose got him and Finn jobs with her in a nobleman's stables.
Several months later, three caravans filled with treasure arrived at the castle. Queen Leia's lady-in-waiting Kaydel came before her, giddy with surprise. “They're from the kingdoms of Bespin, Jurassic Fields, and Wextleyshire, Your Majesty,” she squeaked. “Apparently, your son Poe helped drive the First Order Armies from your land, and Queen Nora says Benjamin slew Snoke himself.”
Leia's frowned as she looked over the piles of gold, jewels, and precious spices and fuels that were the natural resources of Queen Amilyn's land. “I must talk to my sons about this. They said Poe betrayed me, that they were the ones who drove the First Order Armies from the land. I suspect Lor San Tekka was correct in believing they were treacherous.” The older woman sighed as she stood to inspect the chests that the pages brought in. “I just wish I knew what happened to Poe. Benjamin says he's dead, but...I can feel that he's still alive somewhere.”
“Your Majesty...” Pink spots appeared on Kaydel's delicate cheeks. “I...think I have some idea of where Poe is. He didn't die. The Huntsman Finn was a friend of mine. He vanished at the same time as the Prince. There's only one place where he might have taken him, and that's to Canto Bight. Rose and Paige Tico, who used to work in the stables here, may have given them shelter.”
Leia nodded. “I will issue a proclamation that Prince Poe may return home safely, as he is the one who will inherit the throne. I've long suspected Benjamin and Armitage of treachery, even before I was sick. Those two would do anything to get what they want. I love them...but they love power more.”
She went to visit her brother Luke in Atch-To. He was delighted to see her again. “My dear sister!” He hugged her. “How are you? How is Poe?”
Leia's face fell. “That's what I wanted to talk to you about, brother. I'm afraid my sons may have tried to murder him, or at least driven him away.”
“Aunt Leia!” Rey hurried out. “I'm so glad to see you!” She peered around her. “Where's Poe? I was hoping he'd be here. He said that he'd come back to me within a year. Well, it was almost a year ago that he found me at the castle, but I haven't seen him.”
Leia shook her head sadly and explained what had happened to Rey. The girl looked despondent, but only for a minute. “What if,” she began, “we built a road? A golden road? Father and I could put it in place with our magic?”
Luke raised an eyebrow. “Why a golden road?”
Rey just gave him a grin. “To see who comes riding down it.”
So it was done. The golden road was built with magic, twice as fast as any normal road. Luke and Rey called to their people and said that only the man who went straight up the road would become Rey's groom. Anyone else would be expelled.
Benjamin and Armitage heard about it first. They raced across the Kingdoms of Naboo and Atch-To, often nudging each other aside in their desire to be the first to the Jedi Castle. When they came to the gold road, they both stopped and rode on either side of it, not wanting to dirty such beautiful paving stones.
Rey, Luke, and Leia met them at the gates. Rey frowned as they crowded around her. “Not only are you not the men who rescued me, but you didn't ride on the road. You care more about gold and power than you do about me. I refuse to marry either of you.” Luke, Leia, and the servants finally sent them on their way.
Meanwhile, Kaydel had gone to Rose and Paige's home to tell Poe the good news about Rey. He was so excited, he leaped onto Bee Bee and streaked across the countryside, barely noticing what he was riding on. He was admitted in the gates the moment he entered.
“Rey!” He swept her into his arms and swung her around. “I've missed you so much. You'll never believe everything that's happened to me.”
“I'm just glad it's you.” Rey looked behind him. “Didn't you see the gold road?”
Poe blinked. “I...huh? There was a gold road?” He shrugged. “I wasn't really thinking of anything but you.”
“That's wonderful!” Rey threw her arms around him, nearly knocking him to the ground. “I knew you were the man for me. You love me, not what I am or what I have.”
He just grinned back. “I know.”
And so he and Rey were wed, bringing the kingdoms of Atch-To and Naboo together. Finn, Paige, and Rose were made their top advisers. Lor San Tekka remained as their court magician, teaching Rey to use magic, just like her guardian. Leia sent her knights to arrest Armitage and Benjamin, but they and their steeds had fled the kingdom. They took off on Armitage's ship the Finalyzer and were never seen or heard from again.