"Normally," Rikon started without preamble, "the Sith or Jedi in training 
builds their own lightsabre. A bit beyond the scope of our current lesson, 
    "Rikon, I don't have a clue how to construct a lightsabre," Azarra 
interrupted, "and I suspect neither do you."
    "True on both counts. But you won't have to. Markev scrounged up 
something better." 
    He walked across the library and selected a plain wooden box from one of 
the overflowing shelves. "It's not as old as mine," he said, handing Azarra 
the box, "but I think you'll like it."
    The lock snicked open under her fingers -- how did I know how to do that? 
-- and the hinged lid opened as if spring-loaded. Inside, cradled in a bed of 
dark velvet, lay a lightsabre.
    The heavy silver hilt was studded with tiny controls, and its lower half 
was covered in concentric metal rings. It looked awkward and uncomfortable, 
but her right hand settled around it as though it were custom-made for her. 
As her left hand closed below her right, a polished hemisphere of green stone 
inset into its butt end began glowing softly. "Rikon," Azarra said 
wonderingly, "is that what I think it is?"
    "A fragment of the Iskandaraan High Seat. And it recognises you."
    "What is that supposed to mean?"
    "Starting about three hundred years ago, there were several marriages 
between the Vader and D'Elenyi families. It means you've got Iskandaari royal 
blood. I thought you knew that." Rikon took the hilt from her, and the stone 
glowed a little brighter. "Same as me, though not as much. I've got that line 
on both sides, you only have it through your--" he grinned and corrected 
himself, "our father."
    "You're the one with the ever-so-fascinating pedigree," Azarra retorted, 
making him laugh. "And since you're a direct heir to the Iskandaaran throne, 
shouldn't you be the one to have it?"
    "I like the one I have just fine. Besides, this one is weighted 
different. It throws my balance off, so I really can't use it anyway. But I 
think it'll work for you." He handed it back to her, and Azarra's fingers 
curved around the hilt as naturally as if she'd been handling it all her 
life. "See? The grip fits your hands better, too."
    "How do I turn it on?"
    "Here," he said, moving her thumb to cover a small inset switch. "It's a 
deadman switch, it turns itself off if you drop it."
    "I suppose that's good," Azarra said doubtfully, and pressed down on the 
    The blade leaped to life, long as her arm and a deep intense purple -- 
the Iskandaaran colour of death. Azarra waved it around experimentally. Rikon 
was right about its balance, it fit her like a living extension of her own 
    "Let's not set the library on fire," he said mildly. 
    Azarra started and lifted her thumb away from the switch; the blade 
vanished. "Oh dear. Let's not indeed. I've never seen one with a purple blade 
before. And why is it so short? I thought they were longer than that."
    "They usually are, but it's set for someone on the small side. Same as 
    "Can that be changed? It seems that would put one at a disadvantage 
against a larger opponent."
    "Well, yeah, but you might want to keep it this way, because it'll give 
you an edge when it comes to speed. Or you can change it later, after you get 
some experience with using it."
    "So meanwhile I don't slice my own limbs off," Azarra said, involuntarily 
glancing down at her half-brother's bad leg.
    "That too. That's why we'll use practice blanks. Sting like hell but 
won't chop off any body parts. Mine's purple too," he continued, grinning at 
Azarra's pained expression, "but that's because it's set the same length as 
yours. And mine's variable." Rikon demonstrated with his own lightsabre by 
changing the blade setting, from a handspan of ultraviolet, through its 
normal pale lavender, to blue, green, gold, and finally leg-long and red, 
then reset it to arm-length and shut it down. "Yours is hardcoded to a 
specific mass and frequency, same as most modern lightsabres, so it'll be 
purple and feel the same no matter what. Mine is a lot older, the technology 
was different back then."
    "I see." Azarra regarded the hilt thoughtfully for several moments, then 
carefully replaced it in its velvet-lined case. "Rikon, do you know who built 
    "Markev wasn't entirely sure. Ziridan had it last."
    "My grandmother's younger brother. He likely got it from his mother, and 
her mother before her, and so on. Someone filed off the maker's mark, so it 
probably dates to the Interregnum, or maybe a few years earlier. But we think 
it once belonged to Sollny D'Elenyi."
    "The Sollny D'Elenyi? Good Queen Sollny?"
    "Well, we don't really know for sure. But there's no question the stone 
is Iskandaaran, and the design is a lot like Trin's," Rikon said, pointing 
out the concentric rings on the lower hilt, "with that big baffle against 
energy leakage. Iskandar doesn't produce the cleanest core crystals in the 
    "This 'leakage' isn't dangerous, is it?"
    "Nah, just wasteful. The baffle keeps the power cell from running down so 
quick. Anyway, we figure when the D'Elenyi family went into hiding, they 
didn't want an artifact this identifiable backtracked to its maker, in case 
the usurper decided to hunt down and kill off all the loyalists. So they 
scraped off his mark. After the Restoration it didn't matter anymore."
    Please the gods there'll be another Restoration, Azarra prayed silently.
    Rikon frowned, but continued, "Sollny had five daughters, and the 
youngest was our ancestor. She probably got this as a dowry or something."
    "How appropriate," Azarra said. "It's perfect. So when do I learn to use 

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