Chapter Seven - Mara's Explorations
I don’t own anything from Star Wars
or Lord of the Rings
Mara paced nervously along the edge of the Court. Below her, the other levels of Minas Tirith spiraled down toward the ground. Her two guards – hobbits she had heard them called – watched her from beside a young white tree.
They had taken Luke inside the massive palace not too long ago but she could not help but worry. What were they doing to her husband?
Just then the door flew open and the guards reappeared with Luke. She started running to him, but then she felt his mind brush hers. It was a warning – follow from a distance. Remember the charade.
Reluctantly, she obeyed and waited until they had passed. They were headed back down to the rest of the city. Mara followed as the group entered a different building and headed down a steep staircase.
She heard the unmistakable clank of a jail door and ran down the rest of the steps. The guards gave her a wary look, but said nothing as they left. She turned and saw Luke sitting in a cell next to the bars. “Luke!” she cried and ran to kneel next to him.
He looked at her and smiled ruefully. “I think we’ve hit a little snag in our plans.”
“Yeah,” Mara shot back. “You got yourself arrested.”
Luke shrugged. “I’ll say this, though. They people of Arda don’t treat their prisoners that badly.”
Mara raised an eyebrow. “No, they just throw people in prison for no reason.”
An upset look crossed Luke’s face and he leaned his head back against the stone wall. “They have a reason.”
“And that is?”
Luke turned away. “Apparently my father did the Emperor’s bidding before taking the name Darth Vader.”
Recoiling, Mara said, “What?”
Luke nodded and looked at her again. “On Arda, the son pays if the father cannot.”
Mara thought of the hulking black creature who had frightened her so often through her childhood and reached for Luke’s hand through the bars of his cell. “What did he do?” she asked softly.
“I don’t know!” Luke cried, his frustration momentarily overwhelming his usual Jedi calm. Mara squeezed his hand in an attempt at reassurance. After a moment, Luke sighed and said, “Although if Vader’s history is anything to go on, I’m guessing it wasn’t anything they’re willing to forgive.”
They were quiet again. Then Mara said, “This is ridiculous! We have to call Leia. What they’re doing to you goes against everything the New Republic stands for.”
Luke shook his head. “It won’t do any good. Arda is far beyond the reach of the Republic. They have no representative in the Senate. Even if we could contact Leia – ”
“If?” Mara interrupted. “She’s your Force-sensitive twin sister! In the Sith’s name, you can be frustrating!”
Luke grinned, suddenly looking very much like the 19-year-old farmboy that Han Solo picked up on Tatooine. “That must be why you married me.” Then he sobered again. “If I bring Leia into this, the Republic will destroy the entire social and governmental structure of this planet.”
Mara replied, “I’ve never heard you talk like that about the Republic.”
“This isn’t about the Republic,” Luke replied quickly. “It’s about Arda. Can’t you sense it? There’s something special, undisturbed about this place. It doesn’t need outside interference. I love Leia as much as any brother could, but she’s very, very good at outside interference. And besides, if she shows up with even half of her entourage, we’ll be far too overwhelmed to find the family you’ve been dreaming of.”
Mara smiled softly. “That’s why I married you.”
He cocked his head. “Huh?”
“Your sister could have you out of jail in a heartbeat, but you won’t call her because it would hurt the citizens of this planet and me. You can be so stupid sometimes, Skywalker.”
Luke just grinned. But his face quickly fell again. “Besides,” he said. “I couldn’t call her even if I wanted to. Don’t you feel how distorted the Force is here? How strong it is? It’s like a constant grinding on my mind. If I tried to reach for Leia, Arda itself would block me. She’d never get the message.”
Reluctantly, Mara nodded. “Legolas is strong in the Force. I think he just doesn’t know how to use it.”
“Queen Arwen is the same way.” Luke frowned. “They’re both Elves. I remember reading something about that in Ben’s computer entry. There were a few alien species mentioned that were naturally attuned to the Force somehow. Elves were one of them.” He sighed. “I wish I could remember the others.”
Mara squeezed his hand again, then climbed to her feet. “I’ll be back later.”
“Where are you going?”
She smiled smugly. “Exploring. I’m not in prison, remember?” When Luke gave her a look, she softened just a little and added, “Maybe I can learn something.”
He looked doubtful. “Be careful.”
With a snort, Mara said, “The people of this city have nothing on the Emperor’s Hand. I’ve snuck around more intimidating places than this, including Jabba’s palace.”
Luke did not argue. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” she said. Then she turned and headed back up the stairway toward the street.
It was early afternoon and the streets of Minas Tirith were fairly busy. Without thinking, Mara slipped back into the familiar stealth that had served her so well in the Emperor’s service. Silently she watched the citizens of the city, none of whom seemed to see her.
They were mostly human, she noticed. Humans held no interest for her. She followed her senses through the twisting streets and narrow alleys until she came upon a high wall. There was something interesting on the other side.
Mara glanced around her, then allowed the Force to gather in her muscles and jumped the way Luke had taught her. She curled her body into a ball as she went over the top, trying to make herself as small and inconspicuous as possible. Straightening herself in midair, she landed in a crouch among lush green ferns.
It was a garden. Mara cringed when she realized that it was probably a Royal Garden. She would have to tread carefully.
A high-pitched giggle caught her attention and she peered through the foliage to see a young boy playing by a reflecting pool. He appeared human, but the Force told Mara that he was something more. Forgetting about stealth, she climbed out of the bushes and approached him. “Hi,” she said softly.
The boy turned to look up at her. He had huge dark eyes and curly brown hair that framed slightly pointed ears. Mara blinked in surprise. The child was part human and part Elf.
Luke had said the Queen was an Elf. Mara glanced again around the garden then back at the boy. Sith, she had met the Prince.
“Hello,” he said shyly.
She knew it was a bad idea, but found herself sitting at the boy’s side. “I’m M – I’m Jade,” she said.
He had an intense gaze for someone so young. Mara could not help but be fascinated by him. There was an inexplicable feeling echoing off of him through the Force. He smiled up at her.
Mara and the boy looked up to see two adult Elves running toward them. They too had dark hair. As they came nearer, she noticed that they were identical. She stood up and took a few steps back when one of them picked up Eldarion.
The other one glared at Mara. “Who are you?” he asked.
For maybe the first time in her life, Mara did not have a smooth answer. “I was exploring,” she said.
“Behind King Elessar’s garden walls?” asked the one holding the Prince.
Just then, Eldarion’s face lit up. “Ada!” he cried.
Mara felt a sharp pain in her heart when she heard the word that had been haunting her for months. She turned to see a man she assumed to be the King quickly coming toward them.
“Elladan, Elrohir, who is this?” he asked as he took Eldarion.
“I was just looking around,” Mara said, keeping her eyes on the ground. “Somehow I ended up in your garden. If you show me the gate, I’ll be on my way, your Majesty.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the King glance at the Elven twins. They both shrugged. “We will escort her out,” one of them said.
Mara let them take her, risking one last look at Eldarion. The boy smiled and waved from his father’s arms. She left the Royal Gardens with an unsettled feeling and more questions. Elladan and Elrohir left her on the street and disappeared back into the garden.
She decided that she was done exploring. She wanted her husband. But no one knew that she and Luke were married. Luke was protecting her but all she really wanted him to do was hold her. With a sigh, she headed back to the prison. At least she could sit near his cell.