Tuesday, September 22, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow is a short story taken from Star Wars Adventure Journal #18, written by Paul Danner. The story remains unpublished because the Adventure Journal series never made it past issue #15 due to financial woes by West End Games who produced the chain. The Adventure Journals were used in conjunction with the Star Wars Role Playing game, and compiled a litany of short stories players could use to enhance their role-playing adventures. I myself own a few copies. I bought them in the late nineties because I thought that the idea of multiple short stories from various Star Wars timelines was neat. I especially liked how after each story, there were role-playing stats on the main characters: things like their blaster skill, their starship piloting skills, or even their gambling skill. I wish there was a company that still did this – compile a bi-monthly or even semi-annually publication of Star Wars short stories. It need not be connect to the role-playing aspect of Star Wars (but that would be cool). I have a few stories I’d like to submit myself.

Paul Danner does well in telling his tale. His language is descriptive and concise enough to move the action of the narrative.

Light and Shadow is a story about a wayward Jedi, who has fallen into the precipice of the darkside, yet at the end of the tale manages to redeem himself enough to bring him back to the ways of the light (we hope).

Lian Dray is our protagonist, and at the beginning of our tale we learn he has exiled himself to an uncharted planet in order to come to terms with the murder of his Master by his own hands. For some reason which we, the reader, are not privy too, Dray became seduced by the darkside, murdered his Master, and is now fleeing the retribution of his fellow Jedi.

His escape from justice leads him to a verdant forest world. We first encounter Dray trying to use lightside meditative techniques taught to him by his Master to calm his soul. Unfortunately, the storm that is the darkside looms menacingly on his emotional horizon, simultaneously seducing and threatening the lost Jedi.

His meditation is broken when a starship streaks through the sky crash-landing on the planet. Dray finds the ship engulfed in flame, and trapped inside the flames is a little girl. Dray saves the girl, who we learn latter is extremely strong in the Force.

Before long, two darkside adepts come looking for the little one, and a lightsaber duel ensues as Dray attempts to save her from them. Dray kills one adept, and by calling upon the darkside, kills the other. The little girl is horrified by his actions, and runs away into the wilderness. After momentarily contemplating as to whether or not he should give pursuit, Dray decides that the girl has now become his responsibility and he must go after her.

Unluckily, a darkside sorcerer named Thannor Keth catches the girl, and she is quickly locked in a Force suppressing cage. Thannor Keth was the Master of the two darkside adepts that Dray dispatched. Dray quickly trackers her down, and after distracting Keth, rescues the girl from the cage. As they are fleeing, the young girl, named Nova, pleads with Dray to not use the darkside of the Force anymore. Dray hesitantly agrees.

Keth quickly pursues the two, when the darkside sorcerer knocks Dray down with Force lightning. Another duel ensues, where Dray seems outmatched and outgunned. Keth manages to gain the upper hand on Dray. During this agonizing assault, Dray began to reach for the darkside. He felt this was his only option. As he began to let the anger and hate flow through him, he saw the look of dismay on Nova’s face. He ceased his darkside activities, and began to understand the Jedi saying ‘there is no death, only the Force’. Before Keth managed to cast the deathblow on Dray, Nova interceded, and placed around the fallen Jedi a shield of light. Keth’s darkside power backfired on him, and he was left a heaping mass of smoking flesh.

Dray and Nova made it back to his ship, where they plotted a course for Ossus to begin the girl’s training in the Jedi way, and for Dray to begin the atonement necessary for his transgressions.

I’ve always found the stories contained within the Adventure Journals entertaining. There are a few things I want to comment on with regards to this tale.

Firstly, There was a bit in this story about how the Dark Lords of the Sith overuse their abilities:

“As Dray quickly wiped the sweat from his forehead, he considered his actions. The first method would have been easier, but an unnecessary reliance on the Force to do something just as easily accomplished with a little sweat. He had a sudden fleeting image of depraved Sith overlords sitting on their thrones, using the Force to attend to their every insignificant need. Some were so bloated from years of inactivity their limbs had all but atrophied.”

There is something visceral about this description. I never even thought that overuse of the Force could lead a Jedi astray, but after reading this, I find that it makes perfect sense, and reconciles well with Jedi philosophy. Dray’s response to this thought was also very Jedi:

“He prepared to manipulate the Force again, this time to lift the heavy cylinder off the girl’s leg. Dray wasn’t sure why, but instead found himself reaching down to grasp the heavy machinery. He bent his legs and lifted for all he was worth. The cylinder screeched in annoyance at being disturbed, reluctant to release its grip, but with a final grunt of exertion Dray managed to free the girl from her make-shift prison.”

I’m reminded of the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin used the Force to float a fruit to Padme. He emphasizes the scene with a comment like “Master Obi Wan would be quite mad if he saw me doing this”. I think I instinctively understood why Obi Wan would find this use of the Force extravagant and therefore worthy of chastisement, but now I understand that too much reliance on the Force can lead one to the vice of sloth.

Secondly, I find it interesting that another darkside sorcerer has crept up in Star Wars history. In the Tales of the Jedi series, Ulic Qel-Droma’s impetus for not dispatching Satal and Aleema at his first opportunity was that if he did so the darkside would manifest itself somewhere else in the universe, and he would then be unable to track it. He kept them alive, not for some altruistic Jedi philosophy, but because he wanted to destroy the darkside from within. Unfortunately for Ulic, it seems that the darkside had indeed already manifested itself somewhere else, which begs the question – where did Thannor Keth come from, and what’s his background story?

I left the story of Light and Shadow hoping for Lian Dray’s redemption. I find that there are too many Star Wars stories which account for a character’s fall from grace, and not enough which demonstrate the transformative power and strength of the light.

Lets see if we can convince the powers that be that the Star Wars Adventure Journal is a viable format, worthy of a second chance. If you are interested in reading the story for yourself you can find it here. For my next post I’ll be examining another Adventure Journal story, this one titled The Most Dangerous Foe. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment