What an odd message, but Ozma believed the girl did the right thing.
Everything Sirenna reported correlated with the probe droid's findings. Sirenna and
Kaliko were indeed building an army to invade Oz. Not just any army with living,
breathing soldiers, but an army made of machines, battle droids to be exact.
How did they know to build such an army? Major Spikeblade, in his last transmission to Ozma, suspected someone from his home galaxy, someone who had ties with the old Separatists, possibly found that space breach thus coming to Earth. He already knew of one such person who did exactly that: Lorenz Kast, a Jedi Apprentice who failed his trials and somehow fell to the dark side. Kast was the one who, upon penetrating that breach, found himself in 15th Century France, near Paris. There he immediately aligned himself with a minor noble family upon which worked his dark designs. He married into said family and quickly struck an acquaintance with the new Minister of Justice. This was in the spring of 1462, the same time the displaced Force Master, Neo Govin, rechristened Amiel Beauchamps, settled in the same area, in the same time period.
Ozma already knew of the tragic fallout from Kast's dealings with the Duclos family, and how those machinations had direct bearings on Amiel Beauchamps' family and subsequent descendants. However, Kast died circa 1483, one year after the kidnapped baby apatosaurus died. Yet his dark agenda, via the Duclos descendants, continued for centuries, right up until the outbreak of World War II. The next to the last of the Duclos family, Gustave, recently died. This was learned from one of the Wizard's Outside World contacts, and it was believed the sole surviving son, Yves, would not know of his forebears' sinister secrets. Or did he? Already, several spies, a loose alliance of magical peoples and Jedi, kept watch on Yves Duclos, hoping that he wasn't the mastermind of an impending invasion. No, he wasn't, said the spies, but Yves had received, upon his father's death, secrets of the Dark Jedi Lorenz Kast. He is, at this moment, training himself in ways of the Force.
"That is nonsense!," said Ozma to the Wizard. "Anyone learning the ways of the
Force doesn't do that alone. One must learn from a more experienced person, a Jedi
Master or Force User. Is Yves Duclos mad? How can he learn the most intricate
details of using the Force effectively and the fine art of lightsaber combat on his
The Wizard, now worried, replied, "Then he is most likely receiving training from someone else, and I agree with the major that said person is living in Oz, under an assumed name or in disguise. Ozma, I believe it is time for Madeline to begin Jedi training at once. The morning after the concert, Nick Chopper and Scarecrow will take her to the ferryman Muzzy, who in turn will take her to the Force Masters. In the meantime...No...Ozma, we must move fast, so I suggest we do..."
An alarmed Ozma protested, "But it is too soon! And convincing them to
"But," reiterated the Wizard of Oz, "it is necessary. Besides, one member of the Great Valley herd has already arrived just this morning."
"Ah," said Ozma, "that would be Pat. Gladys said he came to Oz via the hidden tunnel. That particular tunnel has the ability to transverse time portals. Obviously, Pat found it at the right time. Poor soul, to lose his wife then leave the Great Valley out of grief."
The Wizard smiled, saying, "Well, he is here now. Which is why we must get at least the Nesting Grounds Herd here posthaste. Can't have Pat live in Gotoma's Valley all by himself."
He then asked, "Which reminds me. When was the last time the Herd made contact with the Tasous?"
Ozma replied, "Oh, that was ages ago, after Marbe lost the one daughter to yellow fever. The Herd hasn't kept in contact since."
"I take it," said the Wizard, "Plio and Sarama still have that communicator. I say we use that wondrous invention now."
Then, changing the subject, the Wizard asked, "Where is our soon to be Jedi
Ozma replied, "Still at Pastoria Centre, rehearsing for tomorrow evening's concert. And, if it'll help, I've enlisted Jenny Jump to talk to Maddie, get her to see the dangers of falling to the dark side."
The Wizard nodded, saying, "Ah yes, Jenny did go very dark after losing the Ozlection. Of course, she soon learned a hard lesson on giving in to her anger and hate."
Then, "But getting back to Sirenna's last transmission. Did she say anything else? Anything that might shed more light on this mastermind behind the invasion plot."
To this Ozma said, "Only to warn Madeline to watch her back. Someone who professes to be her friend, even show her a kindness, may be the woman's undoing. This person could spill the proverbial beans, and tell Maddie a dreadful secret that could send our musical friend to the dark side, permanently."
Rewind to the Cretaceous Period, to the Nesting Grounds. The Herd gets an eyeful of their new home...
"Who are these folks? That one sure looks a bit like Marbe, but what are they
doing?," asked Eema.
"Looks like they're having a party," explained Plio, "See? They're drinking and eating, and laughing. What else could explain it?"
In the cave, those few Herd members gathered around the mystic mineral pool which had the power to forecast future events. In that pool, images of a strange land appeared. Even those whose clairvoyant abilities were more keen than others couldn't quite figure out what made this land so special. At least in what emanated in the colorful waters didn't seem that much out of the ordinary. Just several humans, two males and five females, took a break from their daily routine. From the snatches of the humans' conversation, the Herd could tell these people were just as special as those Jedi who visited their valley many years ago. Well, it wasn't that long ago; the last time any of the Herd had contact with their human visitors was several months ago, when Plio received a message from Marbe Tasou relaying the sad news of one daughter's death.
"But that was not that long ago," commented Eema. "What we're seeing now is
generations removed from Marbe. The woman must be the great-great-great
granddaughter Gotoma mentioned. The one who would lead us to a new home."
She frowned, adding as she continued to look into the pool, "Doesn't look all that special to me."
Sarama, the prophetic parasaurolophus, focused on the humans' conversation,
trying to look for anything that might point to when and how the Herd will
eventually move to this new home. No, nothing but small talk. Wait! The
conversation shifts to upcoming events, one of which is a grand concert, the other
is Marbe's descendant preparing for Jedi training.
"So," said Plio, "this one, the one called Madeline, will become a Jedi just like Marbe and Kirel. And she's inherited Marbe's lightsaber." She paused, peering deeper into the pool, adding, "They're now talking about a concert..."
Plio stopped, getting a fierce vibe, a sudden rumble in the Force.
"What's wrong, Plio?," asked Eema.
The lemur matriarch blinked then replied, "I don't know, but I'm getting a
feeling of...You know, I can't quite place it. It's as if I'm hearing voices from
the past, the very distant past."
Sarama nodded, saying, "I'm feeling that, too. I can see the Great Valley herds, even sense what one of the youngsters is feeling. Just as Gotoma foretold, the Great Change is at hand. But there is someone in our own Herd whose very future depends on this move; in fact, this move is necessary or all will be lost."
Baylene stood at the base of the granite wall upon which old Gotoma's remained were enshrined. Staring at those old bones, she concentrated deeply, trying to fathom why those visitations happened again. Not that it alarmed her since Baylene had experienced, by virtue of revealing much of her past to the Herd, more visits from long dead family, her mate and daughter in particular. However, last night's experiences, what Quivier and Gemma said, disturbed Baylene so that she needed to commune with the legendary Gotoma, perhaps coax those old bones to come to life.
"It's Xander," she said to Gotoma's remains. "I've often wondered why he never returned to the cave, to stare into the pool. The last time was right after our Jedi visitors left, and that was ages ago. He's also been very secretive about his past, for I've asked about such, and he has continuously evaded my questions. I just want to know about his parents, whether he had siblings. I know he was very young when his family died, but he must have some memories."
With a sigh, Baylene decided to return to the lake. Whatever issues Xander has, he obviously won't open up. Give him more time then he'll reveal all when he's more settled, more comfortable. It is plainly useless, unwise even, to press him further.
Upon sensing someone behind her, Baylene turned her head then blinked twice.
No, this figure isn't any of the Herd but another human. Now, how did he manage to
get here? Was he another Jedi who accidentally or purposely found that time slip,
thus sending him to Earth's distant past? By his appearance, he certainly didn't
look like the Tasous or Artmo Hox. This obviously was an older man, not clad in the
simple tunic and cloak a Jedi normally wears. He wore a suit of sorts, but it
seemed not to fit him very well. He was tall, rather large, gray-haired, full
flowing silvery beard. As he walked toward where Baylene stood he carried something
that he kept peering into. By the look on his face, Baylene could tell he was in a
good mood. Whatever that thing was...
Ah, it's one of those viewing screens, as Marbe and Kirel had one; so did Hox. The screen allows the user to view transmitted visual images. Marvelous thing indeed!
The man neared Baylene then stopped. Looking up at her, he said, "I am so
pleased she decided to choose my second symphony instead of the fourth. Much better
to follow my friend Schumann's concerto with that. Now, as for the opening
selection...Good to go with Beethoven's 'Lenore.' "
He smiled then added, "I suppose that is natural for a new music director. Choose more approachable fare than assail the listener with the complex and overwrought. Then again, she is a Jedi so she must have that keen insight, much like my friend Helmut. Oh yes, I had the pleasure of meeting him in Leipzig, the same time I became acquainted with Clara and Robert. It was Robert who revealed that Helmut was a Jedi, but I brushed it off as nonsense. Herr Schumann was not a well man, thus I assumed his talk of Jedi and the Force was a symptom of his illness. No, I was wrong. For I've seen more Jedi ever since..."
Baylene stood in awe, wondering if she indeed had another of those visions.
Didn't she and Sarama, not long after the Tasous departed, see a particular
apparition in the lake? The one with a despondent man throwing himself into an icy
river? Is this Robert Schumann the man speaks of him?
She didn't even know this man's name, however, he had to be, by his manner and speech, one of those great men of music. But he is here, far from his own time frame. Did he find another breach of sorts, one that sent him here to the prehistoric Nesting Grounds?
No...His brief presence is a sign of things to come. But why come here?
A curious Baylene, watching the gentleman continue to peer into that wondrous
contraption, asked, "Sir, what images are on that thing you carry?"
Again, the gentleman smiled through his flowing gray beard and replied, "Why, it's the Emerald Quartet. Four of Oz's best string players. See?"
He invited Baylene to crane her head down to see the screen's images. Imagine, the elderly sauropod beholding a visual clue of that future home Gotoma spoke of, and a glimpse of Marbe Tasou's great-great-great granddaughter.
In that image Baylene saw four very pretty ladies. One was definitely Marbe's descendant, for Baylene could detect the family resemblance. The others were quite lovely, one with green eyes and flame-red hair, one of nut-brown complexion and a wild wavy mane, and the youngest, a bright blonde all dressed in blue. So, thought Baylene, they are musicians, for whatever they are playing sounds so much like what I've heard in my dreams. He is right; they are brilliant as well as very pretty.
Baylene continued to watch and listen as the ladies played, a string quartet
composed by the very man who stood before her.
She said, "You must quite pleased to hear your own music performed so elegantly. But..."
Then she asked, "May I ask your name, sir? And why are you here in our valley?"
The gentleman smiled again and replied, "I believe, Baylene, we may have met
in a dream. Search your feelings, dear. Only then will you remember."
Then, "To answer your questions of how I came here, to the Nesting Grounds. By a stroke of magic, Locasta the Good, ruler of Gillikin Country, allowed me to travel back in time to your valley. This is wake of a visit from Princess Ozma and the great Wizard of Oz. Why, dear lady, it is all the talk of Oz: That we will soon have the Herd move to that wondrous land. Now, I don't have long as the spell lasts only a few fleeting minutes. But I leave you with this: One of your Herd and another of the Great Valley herd will experience something wonderful tomorrow night. That music you've been hearing will play again. Already, Neera has witnessed the passing of the beloved Beethoven via a dream. She has seen and heard more of his music ever since. Sarama has heard more of my music, my violin concerto and string sextets in particular. Those sounds will bring great comfort to your Herd and herald the coming of the Jedi, past and present, to Oz. Now, I must go. Be of good cheer, Baylene, and may the Force be with you."
Copyright©2007 by PRP