If Cera's sleep stories proved to be so confounding, those experienced by
Grandpa Longneck were even more perplexing.
As in the little threehorn's dream, Grandpa found himself in the same place but actually on the stage with the orchestra. Not only could he see and hear the splendid music, he also interacted with those seated in the orchestra boxes above. One such audience member gave Grandpa pause. Sure, he'd seen humans before, two Jedi Knights who visited the Great Valley long ago, and a Force User who briefly appeared shortly after Bren disappeared. But this man who spoke had Grandpa completely stumped. Oh, it was a man, to be sure, but a man completely made of tin.
"Wonderful performances tonight," said Nick Chopper to Grandpa. "Of course, we
have to thank that young lady who made this all possible."
"And," asked Grandpa, "who is she?"
The Tin Woodsman smiled, replying, pointing his metallic finger at the
principal cellist, "There she is. Her name is Madeline Tasou, and she's one of Oz's
Then Nick Chopper smiled, adding, "Maddie is become a Jedi, just like Ricar Tasou and his children."
Nick studied the elderly Longneck's expression then nodded. Oh yes, the name certainly rings a bell with Grandpa as he met Ricar Tasou long ago. That Jedi Knight, when he was a mere Apprentice, found his way to the Great Valley via a marvellous space breach that has the power to send its traveler to Earth, to various eras. However, it was not only the shared surname that piqued Grandpa's curiosity; it was the young lady herself. Something seems vaguely familiar...
"You seem to know this young woman," said Nick, "as I can see it in your
Grandpa shook his head, saying sadly, "It's been so long ago, when Bron and Bren were children. Well, Bron had matured enough to take on a mate; Bren was very much a youngling. Watching this lady, I detect much of Bren in her. You say her name is Tasou, the same as the Jedi who visited us years ago."
"Yes," said the Tin Woodsman, "Ricar Tasou is Maddie's ancestor. In fact, more dinosaurs, millions of years beyond your Great Valley, met Ricar's children, Marbe and Kirel. The former remained on Earth to marry and begin her own lineage of Jedi on Earth."
All this was just too much for Grandpa to digest at once. So he was content to listen to the lovely music, sounds he had heard in his head most of his waking hours. Now he was here, in his own sleep story, actually seeing and hearing who and what made those heavenly sounds. He thought it over: Could this be why so many all over the Great Valley has suddenly experienced this music? Is this the reason Mr. Thicknose and Topsy find themselves bursting into song? He posed those questions to Nick, but the Tin Woodman could tell the elderly longneck so much.
"It is," cautiously reassured Nick, "part of several secrets kept for millions of years. Secrets that have direct bearing on not just your Valley herds but for another eons beyond your time. Another secret...Well, I can't reveal it as I've been sworn never to tell. That information will be revealed in its own good time."
As it happened in Lion's persistent dream, as it does now for Grandpa
Longneck, a pretty young woman sitting next to Nick Chopper leans over and whispers
something to Grandpa. Only this time, the recipient can clearly make out what the
Grandpa Longneck's eyes widened in shock; he is near tears as he gasps, "No! Tell me that is not true!"
"Bring your lightsaber and comfortable clothes. Workout togs will do. Bring nothing else!"
That's what the tersely worded note read, a note delivered from the Force Masters via Nick Chopper. At Lindens End, Mary assisted Madeline in packing for the journey to Quadling Country where the latter will begin Jedi training. Maddie had wanted to take one cello, some music, and Fantine's diary which she had no time to read last night. She was that wiped out from the concert. Surely those guys would understand that she needs her music and other diversions to break the monotony. She could be gone many days, weeks even, and being without familiar items would surely drive her mad with boredom. A perturbed Maddie fumed as Mary pulled several unnecessary items from the duffel bag.
"What a way to follow up a terrific evening! I was feeling pretty good after
the performance, and I wanted to study Fantine's diary, even work on my
composition. But I guess such things are a 'no-no' in...What's his name, Nick?"
The Tin Woodman tried to calm Madeline with reassuring words. He replied, "Deke sent that note, Maddie. He said to be a Jedi is to cast off all possessions. Your mind must be clear of any and all extraneous thought and other preoccupation–"
"Extraneous preoccupation?!," she ranted, eyes rolling in contempt. "My mind is clear enough, thank you very much. I thought the whole Jedi training stuff had changed under Luke Skywalker. At least that's what Qui-Gon told me, that the New Jedi Order relaxed the rules."
Then, with a slight smile, "You know they can marry now. That wasn't done in the old days."
Nick sighed, saying, "Now Maddie, you know you shouldn't let your anger get the best of you. It's not your nature to rage so, and it's not the Jedi way. I know it's all so new, this training, but Deke said–"
Without hesitation, Maddie walked out the room, telling Mary to, "Repack
those items. I'm going out for a while. Lord knows I need the air."
To Nick she said in apology, "I'm sorry if I'm snapping so, but this Deke guy...I don't know but I'm getting a bad feeling about this. I'm going to the valley, just to clear my head. How soon do we leave?"
"When Scarecrow gets here, Maddie. Shouldn't be another hour or so."
"Good. That gives me time to get acquainted with Pat. There are some things I need to ask him," she said upon walking out the door.
Nick and Mary looked at each other; the latter commenting, "While I don't
like disobeying my mistress, it is best to leave these items home. I'll have them
delivered later, when Miss Maddie's more settled. At least, from what Mariah and
Rath told me, Miss Madeline needs her music which keeps her grounded so. It is her
Nick nodded, "Yes. But for now, just pack what is needed. She may be angry at first..."
He stopped then wondered, "Ozma said Deke never wanted Maddie trained. Why?"
Mary shrugged and shook her head, replying as she repacked the bag, "I'm not sure, for he's been ordered to train her by Master Windu himself. Surely he wouldn't do anything to jeopardize Oz's only chance against the Dark One."
Maybe it was the beauty of the place that calmed her. She knew better than to let herself become so upset; after all, she was to become a Jedi like her more illustrious forebear. That meant discarding all attachments and sentiments that could lead to fear of loss, then in turn to anger and hate, suffering. Perhaps she was setting her goals a bit too high, that such weighty responsibility was not for her. Sure, she was used to heartbreak and disappointment; she's a professional musician and it goes with the territory. In those thirty-plus years of her life, she'd experienced failure and setbacks, but didn't she always manage to bounce back, to learn and move on? To strive to become a better performer, artist, and person?
Madeline sighed with frustration and nervous apprehension. Too many questions clouded her mind, and she knew her head must be clear the moment she set foot on the Force Masters' compound in Quadling Country.
What a letdown! After a triumphant performance last night – Five curtain
calls, thunderous standing ovations, and great compliments from that guest
conductor (and Maddie hadn't even asked the man his name) – she felt on top of the
world. Never, gushed the Wizard after the concert, had the orchestra sounded so
heavenly. Even Queen Zixi of Ix asked Madeline to come to her realm for a command
performance in the near future.
Actually, and Maddie never revealed to anyone of those odd Force rumbles she felt throughout the entire evening, she swore she sensed the spirits of those composers nearby, as if they were actually sitting in one of the luxurious private balconies. She sensed them listening and nodding with approval, even sensed one murmuring to another, "You know she's a Jedi like Helmut, like Fantine."
Did she, at the conclusion of the last selection, when the house lights came up, actually see a man who looked so much like Johannes Brahms smiling and waving to her? Had to be, and she could make out what he said to his friend, "Baylene should have been here."
Baylene? The elderly brachiosaur Marbe and Kirel met after landing on Cretaceous Earth? I must really be that intuited to the Force to experience...Oh my goodness!
Finally feeling somewhat better, Maddie arose from the grass, glancing about
and wondering Pat's whereabouts. Surely an animal that size wouldn't be that hard
to miss. So where is he? With a shrug, Madeline got up and prepared to walk back to
"It's now or never," she said to herself with conviction, "I'm still having a bad feeling about this, and Deke sounds like a real taskmaster, a real stickler for details. I'll do it. I'll complete my training and become a Jedi like Marbe and Kirel, like Qui-Gon and Anakin. I may not be as good as them, but I'll try to do my best."
As she headed back to the road, Maddie felt a sudden tremor. Felt like a
slight earthquake but different, as if someone very heavy was coming her way. Could
that be an impact tremor? Such as made by a tremendously heavy animal? Like Pat?
Maddie turned around to see not Pat but another ghostly presence. Now, she'd been able to see Force Ghosts of the Jedi, but this one was not quite what she expected.
"A dinosaur...Apatosaurus, but it's not Pat," Madeline murmured, trying not to act so surprise. Then again, this is Oz, so one would expect anyone or anything out of the ordinary.
The creature approached her, and Maddie could tell this was no aged sauropod. On the contrary, this dinosaur was decidedly female, quite young but very wise.
She stopped, looked at Madeline with kindly brown eyes, and said, "Don't be
frightened, Madeline. I'm here to offer advice and comfort. In time, after your
training, you will visit the Great Valley and meet my family – Your
Ms. Tasou scrutinized the very pretty lady longneck, and it suddenly came to her. This was his mother, the one who died from injuries sustained during a dreadful encounter with a Sharptooth and a catastrophic earthquake.
Perhaps the young one's mother appeared as if to allay Maddie's apprehensions about becoming a Jedi. Yes, the training will be, no doubt, grueling, and at least one Force Master, Deke, will put her through her paces, push her to the breaking point. Maddie thought it over, now realizing what Anakin Skywalker said those many months ago when she was at her lowest. She pondered Qui-Gon Jinn's words of encouragement, and Jenny Jump's warnings about the dangers of the dark side.
That valley Anakin showed me, in my dream. That must be the Great Valley. He said my family is there...
Mother Longneck smiled, and spoke to Madeline in comforting tones, "All Jedi must
pass a series of trials, and the impending journey to the Great Valley will be one.
As I said to Littlefoot, some things you see with your eyes, others with your
heart. Maddie, while you're training in ways of the Force, listen to your heart. It
whispers, so listen then heed what it says."
Then she said with some caution, "You will experience long-suppressed memories, many pleasant, others more disturbing. Pay attention and concentrate on the moment, as those memories will help you deal with what has truly brought you dangerously close to the dark side. Now, you go to Quadling Country, and don't worry about Deke. I've already spoken to him as have many Jedi Masters. He will not be a problem. I promise. May the Force be with you."
Copyright©2007-2009 by PRP