The Slayer of Dreams
They had gone. Foolishly gone. The outsider was dangerous. The dwellings of a hermit were no place for children, and yet they had blindly stolen a speeder to uncover the mysteries of the loner.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi shook his head as he made preparations to go after his young apprentice. “Curiosity will kill Anakin one of these days.”
“I hope it will be sated with your apprentice before it turns on mine,” Bothan Jedi Master Subja So told Obi-Wan, his black fur rippling to indicate his displeasure as he climbed into the passenger side of the speeder the two Jedi would use to find their apprentices. “You’d be surprised at what it takes to teach a rodian a lesson.”
Obi-Wan snorted. “They left enough clues as to where they were going. We’ll find them soon enough,” he assured the other Jedi before slipping the speeder into gear and into the crowded lower-level streets of Coruscant.
Meanwhile, in a district nearly 400 kilometers from the Jedi Temple, Jedi Padawans Anakin Skywalker and Foracto Nacto pulled their “borrowed” speeder into a dark alley. “This is the place,” Anakin announced, putting the speeder into park and hoping out of it with all the vigor of a fifteen year-old. “That old man is supposed to live in one of the apartment buildings right here.”
Foracto’s snout sampled the air as he climbed out of the speeder much slower than Anakin, even though he was only a youthful eleven years-old. In the distance, a construction hammer could be heard pounding away. “Smells like nobody has been here for years,” he said, kicking at the dirt and dust gathered in the alley. “Are you sure this is safe?”
“Hey, I passed on a sparing session with Knight Secura to come here,” Anakin announced. “So it better not be safe.”
Foracto rolled his multifaceted eyes. “Your sacrifice is duly noted.”
Anakin nodded and waved his friend forward. “Good, now come on. Let’s see if we can find this Slayer of Dreams, as he’s called in the archives.”
“Do you see anything?”
Subia shook his head at Obi-Wan’s question. “No, I don’t see them anywhere,” he said as he scanned his side of the street for the two padawans.
“Neither do I,” Obi-Wan said, frustrated. The usually strong bond between a Jedi Master and his padawan became weaker when more life-forms got in the way. With a crowd as big as the one on this street it was hard to filter through them to find their padawans. “Do you think they went straight to his home?”
“I’m afraid that’s a possibility,” Subia nodded. “Although I had hoped they’d go to that shop they highlighted in the brochure instead.”
“There it is,” Obi-Wan announced, pointing to a sign that said Grave of Dreams. “But I don’t sense Anakin anywhere near here.”
“I don’t sense Foracto, either, but let’s stop and ask around,” Subia suggested.
Obi-Wan agreed. He was about to park their speeder in an alley when he noticed the other speeder. “That’s the speeder our padawans took.”
Subia bounded out of the craft and rushed up to the rediscovered speeder to read the identification numbers on the side. “This is it,” he announced.
“And that’s the building Ghosto lives in,” Obi-Wan said, pointing to the building at the alley’s far side. “I can barely sense Anakin nearby.”
The two Jedi shared a glance before moving.
“Excuse me, but do you know if a man by the name of….” The man Anakin was trying to address just shuffled by him like a zombie, lost in his own world, ignoring the padawans completely. “Thanks,” Anakin said with a disheartened sigh.
“You know, Anakin,” Foracto said, brushing rock spider-string out if his spine crests. “There’s a reason why he’s called a loner. He wants to be alone.”
“Then why does he live on the most populous planet in the galaxy?” Anakin replied a little too harshly than he meant to. He was frustrated. They had searched nearly half the twenty story building and not one person had said anything to them that would indicate that a person known as the Slayer of Dreams was even there, no less existed. “Why doesn’t he live on some unpopulated rock on the outer-rim?”
“Because, Anakin Skywalker,” a gravelly voice said from up the corridor. “It is more difficult to find a needle in a haystack than it is to find a pebble on a beach.”
Foracto nearly drew his lightsaber. “Who, who’s there?”
Out of the corridor’s shadows, a man in white Jedi robes revealed himself, his dark, greasy-hair shaded his eyes as it spilled down to the center of his chest. Anakin stared at him, awed by the being’s presence. This man was very powerful in the Force, Anakin could see that. Extremely powerful. “You are Ghosto, are you not?”
The man made a gesture with a clawed hand, its skin the color of wrinkled parchment. “You have dreams you want to put to death, Anakin Skywalker?”
“Yes,” Anakin whispered, not realizing he was doing so. “Yes.”
The man nodded. “Then come with me.”
Foracto followed the two, all the while he could hear the construction hammer pounding.
Doom. Doom. Doom.
Obi-Wan and Subia moved cautiously, yet swiftly up the building’s stairs in search of their young padawans.
Foracto’s senses were overpowered by all that was happening in Ghosto’s. Incense filled his sensitive nostrils while unnatural sounds coming from a music-box hidden in some dark corner made his ears twitch. Lights projecting unnatural colors tortured his eyes, making him blink several times as he followed Anakin deeper into the room. “Anakin, I have a bad feeling about this.”
Anakin ignored him, his eyes on Ghosto as he circled around a low table surrounded by tasseled, multicolored cushions. “Sit please, young Skywalker, for neither of us have much time.”
Anakin frowned, but obeyed Ghosto’s request, lowering himself onto a cushion across the table from the mysterious man. “My dreams are---.”
Ghosto cut him off before he could go further. “Your dreams are of no matter, young Skywalker. It is your destiny that should be of concern.”
Anakin swallowed, upset by being interrupted. “I am the Chosen One,” he declared. “I am destined to bring balance to the Force.”
Behind the veil of hair, Ghosto smiled. “Yes, you are. But after you bring balance to the Force. What will happen then?”
Foracto blinked. What was that suppose to mean? He paused a moment to think. What was that suppose to mean?
“Do you sense him, Obi-Wan.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi nodded. He had never met the hermit known as Ghosto before, or anyone, with the exception of Anakin, as powerful in the Force.
Anakin didn’t reply to Ghosto’s question. He just couldn’t think of an answer. Even his wit failed him.
“You wonder if your destiny is true,” Ghosto said.
Anakin didn’t answer.
Foracto remained silent. This was becoming all too surreal.
“It is true,” Ghosto confirmed. “But there will be much pain and much spilling of blood as you fulfill it.”
Anakin raised his chin. “I will do what I must to fulfill my destiny,” he said stubbornly.
Ghosto parted the hairy veil to reveal his face, a mirror image of Anakin’s. “And you will walk as an undead machine for the rest of your days.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi kicked open the locked door, lightsaber ablaze, startled at what he found.
“Foracto?” Master Subia called to his padawan. “What is going on here?”
Foracto blinked and turned to face his master. He opened his mouth to speak, but stopped. The room they were in was empty. There were no colored lights, no tinny music playing in hidden corners, and no virulent stench attacking his snout. Just him, the two Jedi Masters…
And Anakin Skywalker, staring blankly at the wall in front of him, unable to draw his eyes away from what he was seeing.