Chapter 7 – Friend or Foe?
As the bright candlelight gently kissed the closed eyelids of the boy, all the feelings and senses that connects him to the outside world was slowly coming back to him. Obi-Wan could feel soft fabric underneath him which made him guess that he was on a bed. Still with his eyes closed, Obi-Wan leafed through his memories, trying to recall what had caused this slumber. Then, imagines of a man clad in black, a dark place illuminated only by a single glowing rode, and the shattering wall surfaced from his memory. Obi-Wan wondered if it was the sunshine that returned him his consciousness when a huge, sticky, wet, warm something slid across his cheek and over his closed eyelids.
"What is it?" He mumbled, half to himself, for it was impossible for anyone twenty centimetres from him to make out what he was saying.
When his eyelids fluttered open weakly and finally focused, he was in a dimly lit room with wavering candlelight beside him. When he turned to face the light, what he saw would have made him jump out of his skin if he weren't feeling so disorientated and exhausted.
An enormous Tilco cat was sitting at his bedside. And by my mean of enormous, it is bigger than all others of its specie. This one had a growth hormone disorder so that it never exactly left the growth sprout stage. Yes, it's still growing bigger.
Tilco cats are dangerous natural predators known for this incredible agility and speed. They had two long vicious-looking fang coming out of the upper gum of their mouth. Green eyes were common in Tilco cats. This one, however, have huge yellow eyes with slits for iris, for the light is quite bright now.
Obi-Wan was just lying there staring up at the humongous beast wondering if he was dead meat when someone appeared at the door.
Both the Tilco cat and the boy turned to see the unexpected visitor.
"Greetings young man, are you feeling better now? You had been hurt quite badly, but the healers had treated and bandaged your wounds, so now none are life-threatening. You are in the Kileo tribe now and you'll be safe here." It was a woman Obi-Wan could place around the age of 30 or 35, she had dark bushy hair with curly fringe and dark brown eyes. "Oh, and my name is Malia and I see you have made a new friend." Winking at the huge Tilco cat, Malia introduced, "This is Cadar, he's huge, isn't he. I think he likes you, haven't left your bedside since you arrived. He's a tough big boy, even the healers didn't dare to try to tell him to move." Cadar the Tilco cat purred as if in agreement.
"Thank you," Obi-Wan tried to smile, but stopped immediately when the act made him wince as he had acquired an impressive bruise on his cheek where Xanatos had hit him.
"Who are the new owners of the Castle? And why did they hurt you?" Malia's eyes suddenly shone with concern at the boy's reaction.
"I don't know the owner either, but I do know his sidekick. His name is Xanatos and he was a mortal enemy of my Master."
"Your Master?" Malia, being the outsider, had no idea who Obi-Wan was talking about.
"Oh, I'm a Jedi Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. And I have a Jedi Master, who take cares of me and trains me. His name is Qui-Gon Jinn."
"A Jedi? I've heard about them in stories the Elders told us when I was young. But I had always thought that they were just stories. So you really are a Jedi?" Malia's eyes were wide, filled with bewilderment and admiration at the same time.
"Yes, the Jedi are very real, they are the keepers of the peace of the galaxy, but there weren't very many of them." Obi-Wan then gave Malia a brief explanation of the Jedi Order.
"Wow! You Jedi are really like us! But we are only good at persuading the mind, not like you, a good fighter." Just then, a low horn sounded, Cadar the Tilco cat began to growled softly at Malia, catching her attention.
"That's the meeting of the Elsied's summon call. I'm one of the member, as the daughter of the Great Father. You'll need a long good rest now, so I'll see you in the morning." Malia pattered the boy's arm affectionately, and left the room, leaving the huge Tilco cat to look after the recovering boy.
"A meeting, I guess that sounds interesting." Obi-Wan mumbled up at the Tilco cat, absent-mindedly. "I guess I'd better sleep now. Goodnight Cadar." The beast licked the boy's eyelids in reply. Soon, the overly-exhausted young Jedi fell into a peaceful slumber.
"Darkness is descending on Kileo." The Great Father opened his eyes from a deep trance as the Force presented him with the signs of danger. "The outsider had brought danger to our tribe."
"You mean the boy our outlook party had picked up two days ago?" Suggested one of the Olders.
"It certainly seem so," the Great Father sighed deeply, as if trying to bring peace to his raging mind.
"I knew it!" Larnod burst out. "I knew it was a mistake to bring the boy here in the first place. I knew he was a spy."
The other members were silent and brooding while some sadly shook their heads.
Malia, however, looked at him angrily, "That does not mean the boy is a spy or that he's working against us. It could only prove that he is being hunted."
"This place is too well guarded and shielded. How else would we have lasted this long? If the boy hadn't made some sort of contact with the outsiders, how could they even find us?"
"It could be anything. It is obvious that they can use the Force and are good fighters. This place is no longer safely guarded. You know the Tilco cats are no match against those newcomers."
Larnod opened his mouth to challenge her, but the vice-councillor held up his hand for silence. "Enough of this. It is pointless to argue over the outsider's statues. No matter who he is, he will endanger our people. We cannot keep him here."
"But he's not recovered yet. You can't throw him out in the condition he is in now. It will mean sure death for him!" Malia's voice was raising as she struggled to contain her anger and frustration.
"It will mean sure death for us if he remained. He is but one life, and an outsider. Is it really worth it to endanger all of us for the boy?"
Malia bit her lip. The gathering was silent. Tension hung thick in the air around them as their fears were finally realised.
"The Tilco cats are no longer powerful enough to protect us, we'll need to act immediately. I foresee that if he remains, our tribe will be invaded and our people killed. However, if he is set loose, he will be captured." The Great Father spoke.
"Our existence cannot be known by the outsiders. We will have to perform the procedure on him." One of the members turned towards the Great Father for approve. But before he could answer Malia practically screamed at him. "No! If you perform the procedure on him, he would be as well as dead. There is not a chance that he will survive without the knowledge of how to protect himself! He's an outsider, the creatures of this forest will not help him."
The procedure was basically memory wipe, only that it was a more controlled type of wipe. The user will forget all the people and places they knew and visited and each colourful life episodes in connection with them. They can do what a normal people can, but they have no memories of their past. The religion the Mesoelliane believed in accepts no killings of a sentiment specie of any kind, so naturally, their method of punishment of any criminals in the tribe was band them from the tribe. But in fear of letting the existence of the secret tribe be known to the outsiders, they have created the procedure, to safeguard their people from outside threats.
"The Outsider's fate will be decided later. Now, we need volunteers to investigate the mysterious attacks at our boarder."
Darkness twisted the silence around him. Darkness had fallen, and fallen hard. The eerie silence was filled with tension. He was all alone, helpless. Stretching out with his senses, he could feel nothing. Everything around him was strangely muted. Emptiness. He was suffocating in the pool of darkness. A place abandoned by light. He could feel the vicious claw of fear clutching at his pounding heart. Fear. No, I cannot feel fear. Fear leads to the darkside and he could not afford to loose his footing now. The path was narrow. He had stray once, but he had learnt his lesson, he know the price he would pay if he strayed. Suddenly, a dark figure slithered into his view. It approached slowly, like a ghostly shadow. Suddenly, and soundlessly, it leapt at him.
Obi-Wan woke just as a strong hand clamp down hard over his mouth. He stared straight into the dark cold eyes of a stranger. Panic grew in him as another hand grabbed at him, trying to restrain him, but he struggled back, hard. A loud thud echoed through the small room as he fell to the floor. Suddenly, a cold metal pressed against chest, he froze.
"Don't move boy, or I'll kill you. Is it understood?" A low, malevolent voice boomed.
Still staring at the masked face in terror, Obi-Wan nodded tightly, realizing that he was obviously over-powered.
"Good. Now, don't make a sound." The man empathised the threat by pressing the blaster harder to the youth's chest. Obi-Wan nodded again.
Being dragged unceremoniously to his feet, Obi-Wan spared a look at the Tilco Cat beside his bed, it was still fast asleep.
The man saw the boy's slight movement and chucked minaciously. "The cat's off pretty nicely. Can't risk it, can I?" Not waiting for a reply – not that in Obi-Wan's current situation he could – the man roughly shuffled him out of the room, rough hand still clamped tightly over his mouth, but the blaster was lowered. Recognizing this advantage instantly, Obi-Wan bucked suddenly, knocking the man slightly off balance. Even though, he hardly had time to take a step before he was knocked to the ground by a vicious kick to his side. Before he could recover, he felt a heavy weight settled on top of him, effectively pinning him to the ground. A rough clothe was stuffed into his mouth non-too-gently and he felt a stab of raw fear as his arms were pulled back and bonded together with a length of rough rope. Not again! He thought desperately, squirming under his assailant's heavy weight, futilely attempting to escape.
"Don't try that again. Next time, I won't be so generous."