Walking the White Path (Aayahpoy’shiri SWTOR)
OOCNote: Another story that I probably won’t finish. Was reminded of it through an RP and by the idea of another story.
The comm unit on the carved wooden table beside the stone framed bed chirped. A lanky golden yellow arm reached out to hit the ignore command and slide off the edge of the table. The knuckles of slender, tapered fingers brushed against the floor soft wool rug that covered the stone floor.
“Refuel in two days, double check the hyperdrive systems. Loose readings. Main hyperdrive engine is running point eight seconds behind the backups. Must be an interrupt in the plugs…” Aayahpoy’shiri whispered against the silk of the pillowcase her face was currently buried in as she slept.
The comm unit chirped again.
Her hand came up to hit the ignore command a second time and the whispers silenced. The Twi’lek kicked off the thin comforter that covered her; a thin sheen of sweat covering her body. Harsh light filtered into the small room from a hole in the ceiling, kept there for that purpose. The room, like her quarters on her freighter, was a mess of scattered clutter. Articles of clothing forgotten since her arrival, datadisks with various holo-dramas she intended to watch; tossed aside. A few holo-pics lay scattered amongst the other chaos; Poy and her mother, Xephron, the Vatak’ultuka, the Kivas.
Poy pushed herself up to sit. Her mouth stretched wide enough to land a battle cruiser when she yawned. As she swung her legs to the side of the bed, she reached back to scratch between her lekku.
The comm unit chirped a third time.
“I’m fully clothed and yes, you woke me up.” She answered with a lie and a smile. He did wake her up, she was however, quite naked. “Took three times though, you’re losing your touch.”
“Where the hell are you? I haven’t seen you in days.” He was frowning, the concern written on Xephron Tide’s voice. I suppose it was a well-earned concern, all I did when we got back from our last contract was put in for leave and take off again.
“I’m safe for one. Two, I’m on Ryloth.”
“I’m seeking the great epiphany and how it relates to what you told me of myself on the Vatak’ultuka. I rented an apartment not too far from the temple. It’s just on the edge of the Brightlands so, I get to see a bit of the sun without getting Bright Sick. In other words, it’s dirt cheap and perfect for a Tolian.”
“So… you’re exploring the Force?”
“Something like that, I’m going to be speaking with Kiva’s from another colony as soon as I pass my rites.”
“You didn’t bring me.” It wasn’t a question, more of a declarative statement. He was not amused.
“No, I had to do this part alone. Come out here if you wish.” She pushed herself out of bed with a smooth motion and picked up the comm unit. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in lessons with the Kiva’s; I should have my ceremony in a week or two. Perhaps you’d wish to celebrate it.” A low chuckle and the Twi’lek leaned down to pick up a sheer white robe to slip over her head.
“Hell I might, if I had any idea about what a shiva was, what you were doing that would need celebrating, what rites entailed, or what the ceremony entailed .”
The sheer silk of the white robe fit perfectly on her form once she had adjusted it. “It’s a Kiva, not a shiva.” She pushed into the ‘fresher to look at herself in the mirror. “Kiva’s are the Priestesses of Kikka’lekki, it’s their duty to induct new Kiva’s and guide the clans spiritually. Not exactly a responsibility I wish to take on, but the people I seek about this exploration of the Force wish to see me complete the path I began as a child.” Poy leaned forward to twist her lip and nose rings; adjusting them for the time being. “I’ve never personally seen the ceremony though.”
“So you have to do something you don’t want to do in order to learn about the Force? Or … am I missing something?”
“You’re missing about…” She picked up something akin to a toothbrush and smiled in the mirror. “Twenty some odd years of being a Twi’lek, ten of those years spent in Kikka’lekki’s temples.” The toothbrush was shoved into her mouth quite unceremoniously. She had the respect to set the comm unit on the counter once the grating swish of the bristles against her teeth began.
“Right… uh about that. Do you have any intentions of training as a Jedi?”
“…That’s what I’m doing. Sort of.”
“You lost me Non… Muchi.”
Poy visibly cringed as she leaned over the edge of the sink to splash some water on her face and between her lekku. “I think it can be easier explained when I understand it.” With her face still slightly dripping she tugged the generous white hood over her head. “For now, I need to see a big stone cave about a lovely goddess.”
The comm was dropped on a small chair near the stone door to her apartment and she slipped outside into the cool cavernous corridors. The scent of rycrit and munch fungus wafting through on each breeze; Twi’lek’s bustled around her. Poy couldn’t help but to smile a bit serenely as she held her head high to make her way to the colonies Temple.
Grey rings of smoke floated on the breeze that made its way through the Sun Temple of Kikka’lekki when Aayahpoy’shiri parted the thick tapestries that led into the cavernous structure. Images and icons of Goddess, her five tears (the Twi’lek clans) and Ryloth’s history were painted in abstract imagery over the walls. Poy had long been able to see this room any time she closed her eyes. It had been home to her for ten years. Today was no time to stop and lose herself in memory. She was already running late to her morning meeting with the elder of the five priestess that saw to the Sun Temple. By the grace of memory alone, Poy swiftly navigated her way to the far meditation room in which the elder was waiting for her.
“Apologies for my tardiness Kiva.” Aayahpoy’shiri said clearly in Ryl when the Priestess looked to the Smuggler with a slight expression of impatience. Hoay Kiva Brillayy’elav remembered the other woman from when she was a child, headstrong and devoted. A devotion that never seemed to waver despite the mischievous altercations that Poy insisted on creating. For a girl as gifted as the Hoay Kiva had been lead to believe that Poy was, she had a funny way of showing it. That way didn’t mature with age. A spacer’s life had only solidified that flighty nature of the younger Tolian.
There was a jingle to the sweeping motion the Priestess made, a gathering of silver bracelets coming together. “If it wasn’t a habit of yours, I’d be one to believe you didn’t take any of this seriously. Your return to the Temple has gone noticed, Aayahpoy’shiri. Your lessons have gone smoothly, as we expected. You’re prepared with all the knowledge we can impart onto you.” She lowered her hand and smiled up at Poy; the tall and waifish Tolian had more than a few inches on the Priestess.
Poy bowed her head in gratitude to the compliment; to be told that you have obtained the knowledge of the Kivas within one temple was a testament to devotion. The Kivas were sly; they hid their lessons in double talk and metaphor. There were points in her days when Poy was ready to bash her head against every stone wall in the colony. Her meditations had become moments of peace in which to translate the series of lectures and prayers, devotionals, prophecies. She had found that sometimes an oracles task was just to be a simple meteorologist.
“The lessons that remain are in you. You have separated yourself from the Temple; choosing to live elsewhere while undertaking your task. There is a sense of disappointment each time you come into your lessons. You are your final obstacle and as the daughter of a Sesk’vati Gida, I’m not surprised. You’re just as tough and cynical as your mother.” The Kiva motioned for Poy to sit on the meditation pillow on the center of floor. Circular spirals were laid into the cave stone in a variety of patterns and stones; the five colours of the clans twisting around each other to form an intricate design. Poy did as she was asked and took a deep breath when the Kiva came to sit beside her.
“I like to believe that I am nothing like her.” Poy responded with a cold tone. “My disappointment comes with learning that what you wish me to do is cater like a charlatan. I’m not going to live my life in a temple to tell people the weather. There’s Watchers who do that, Kiva. I came to you with questions, millions of questions. And not one of them has been answered. Instead you’ve had me here catering to lessons for those who are just going to get sold in the end. “
The Kiva raised a finger at the words. “And there is that cynicism.”
“I am Force Sensitive, I don’t know what to do with that, Kiva. I work with a Castle filled with Jedi and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to run around with a lightsaber in my hand and I don’t really want to sit here and predict the weather.” She gave a wry chuckle at this and pulled back the sheer white hood of her robe.
“You were born Sesk’vati and when your mother gave you to the Sun Temple you become Sesk’mahvus. This is all I can show you, Aayahpoy’shiri. I cannot make you Sesk’nibilsai; I can’t because I do not know. You came to me and asked me to allow you to finish the path you began and I promised you that I would make you an Oracle.”
“This is not my path.”
“I’m glad you see that. It’s why I summoned the Kiva you will meet tomorrow.”
“But if she’s stuck with her hands bound by the frotzin’ castes th-“
The Kiva lifted a finger again to silence Poy.
“I call her Kiva as an honorary title, just as I hope to use it with you. You live far above the surface of Ryloth, Aayahpoy. You live in Kikka’lekki’s embrace with the others who heard her song in the stars. A temple bound life is not for you.” She patted Poy’s leg with a reassuring touch and gracefully pushed herself to her feet. For her age, she moved with a regal stride an effect that seemed to make her more matronly.
“Ma’allesh Hoay Kiva.” Poy said with a bow of her head when the Kiva left the room. She canted her head with surprised curiosity and blinked up at the statue of Kikka’lekki. “She just flunked me, didn’t she?”
Another cigarette joined the small pile that had begun to grow in the empty spice canister she was using as an ash tray. Her form shifted to the edge of the bed and she drew her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs as her head hit the pillow. Poy still wore the sheer white robes of the Kivas, the light still shone through the small hole in the ceiling. It was early enough for her to go out among the colony, to interact as she had longed to do since her return to Ryloth. Yet, she remained in the small apartment, her eyes drifting from one disregarded holo-pic to the next. She had spent so much time running that she had never allowed herself to stop; each image relayed that same message to her.
She allowed herself to regret.
What was Aayahpoy’shiri? Another club girl with tattoos and an attitude? A Twi’lek fooling herself with the idea of freedom when she always needed someone to bail her out? Her mind raced through the names of jobs she had done, failed and lives she had taken. She couldn’t remember how much she had gambled away or the name of the last one-nighter she brought home to make herself forget…
She couldn’t remember why she wanted to forget.
Slowly, she sat up and pushed the hood of her robe back, remembering that she had come here to seek that answer.
Her fingers curled at the sides of the robe to pull it off as she rose to her feet and gathered up clean clothing from the various piles around the apartment. A skirt here, a tank top there, boots by the door… utility belt. Goggles. She was quick and almost thankful to secure her goggles at the top of her head before grabbing her comm unit and dodging out the door.
The colony opened up before her. Shadows moving against the walls of the fungus lit caves. Conversations in Ryl echoed throughout the corridors, making it hard to place any one person exactly. When you’re being hunted Ryloth wouldn’t be a bad place to hide, until it was taken into account that Twi’lek’s sell their daughters into slavery.
Chimes jingled together with the lift breeze caused by the motion of the blast door as it slid open and Poy stepped into the small art shop. She drifted without purpose, trailing her fingers over various displays, brushes and paints; her fingers lingered over yellow ochre. The same colour as her skin almost, her mind drifted to her years as a child in the Temple and the days spent in solitude save for the interactions with her Ai`jou`s and Kiva`s. Creating the imagery that existed in her mind without words to sing out, had always allowed her to focus.
Poy took her time in choosing the brushes and colours she wished to use, with no real image in mind she acted on sheer instinct.
Whatever thoughts raced through Aayahpoy`shiri`s head, they didn`t register on her dedicated expression. The filter of her cigarette was pinched tightly between her tightly pursed lips. Her goggles covered her eyes. The hull of the Vatak`ultuka thumped with the volume of the music that was coming it. Corellian Spacer Rock. There was a vulgarity and a power to the combination of the Xanthas, Electroharps and the Power Drums that she couldn’t deny. It didn’t fit the race of emotions that stormed through her, but it served to guide her hand.
Along the walls of the make shift Temple inside the freighter; an array of images had begun to come to life. Nebulas, planets, solar systems from a distance. Every nebula was plotted and painted with delicate attention to capture the radiance of the gas anomalies. The stars that served as her markers to the entrance of the Death Wing Corridor weaved around the doorframe.
At some point in the hours of meditational painting, it did occur to Aayahpoy’shiri that she might’ve bought too much paint.
It wasn’t the thought that was going through Poy’s head when Ki Amadeo stepped into the Temple.
The Smuggler’s attention had become enraptured by the creation of a Krayt dragon wrapped around a series of stars she had painted with the gold ochre, that she had failed to notice anything but the presence of a memory. Her cigarette bobbed momentarily between her lips when she smiled and took a drag from it.
Ki Amadeo cleared her throat.
Smoke curled slowly from Poy’s nostrils as the exhaled. For now, she had stopped painting but continued to stare the painted hull.
“Aayahpoy’shiri?” Ki Amadeo shouted above the music. Her pronunciation was dead on, but it would’ve been expected if you were visiting Ryloth and Ki Amadeo was a frequent visitor. Poy studied her out of the corner of her eyes; there was no obvious pretence to her. Light brown hair was simply tied back and tucked under a sheer white hood. She wore the sheer robes of the Kiva’s over another white dress.
Poy’s hand pulled up her goggles rather than reach down for her blaster as she turned to face the woman, “And?”
“Hoay Kiva Brillayy’elav told me I might able to find you here.” Ki smiled. It lacked any awkwardness of introductary meetings. Poy had never seen anything quite so serene in her life. “Quite the masterpiece you’ve been working on.” She motioned around at the temple walls, almost all of which covered in this vast map of the Galaxy. “I now see how it came to be that you missed our meeting.”
The cigarette fell from between Poy’s lips. “Frotz.” Besides completely forgetting about the meeting, she didn’t expect the ‘Kiva’ to be human. “Frotz. Forgive me, Kocielle.” Her head bowed apologetically and she kicked out the cigarette. “I thought it was tomorrow.”
Ki’s smile became curious, “Have you thought that for the past three days?”
“Three days?” She stared at the woman, not understanding her response at all.
Poy paused to catch up. The floor of the Temple was a mess of empty bottles of T’ssolok, cigarette butts, empty spice canisters, munch fungus packets, fruit cores, empty paint cans and destroyed brushes. Her comforter had been haphazardly tossed over the statue of Kikka’lekki and had become covered in various paint splotches. She stared in disbelief at the map of the Galaxy she had almost completed.
“Frotz.” An amazed whisper. “Hey, hey, hit that green switch on the comm panel behind you.”
Ki raised an eyebrow at the request but stepped back to do as she was asked.
The music faded out.
“I really want to grovel at your feet in apology and stand here stunned in amazement that I completely lost myself in something again. I don’t think either will accomplish your forgiveness of complete what I’ve started. So, we’ll start at the beginning. Yes, I’m Aayah Poy’shiri. And yes, I’m an idiot. I’m surprised the Kiva didn’t warn you.” Poy offered an awkward smile.
“There’s wisdom to what you say, perhaps I’ll forgive you just for that, Poy.” The woman reached up and pulled down her hood in order to look at the mural that adorned the walls of the temple. “I’m Priestess Ki Amadeo. I believe Brill may have misled you when she told you I was a Kiva.”
Poy managed a chuckle, “A little bit, but you are a Kiva, a priestess, nonetheless. What is it you serve?”
“What and not who.” Ki smirked, “You know all too well a spirit has more masters than man or god.”
Poy glanced back at the Krayt dragon amongst the stars momentarily.
“I serve no one. I remain a traveller following on what we call the White Current. “ Ki paused to look over Poy’s confused expression. One of the Twi’lek’s eyebrows was half-cocked with the opposite edge of her lip taking a dive. “I wasn’t sure how much Brill would’ve told you. Doesn’t matter, I would’ve had to smooth out the lies in her tales as it is. In the simplest of terms, the White Current is the Fallanassi name for the Force. We, like you, Poy, have sensitivity to it.”