"Normally," Rikon started without preamble, "the Sith or Jedi in training builds their own lightsabre. A bit beyond the scope of our current lesson, but--" "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 switch. 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 arm. "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 mine." "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 it?" "Markev wasn't entirely sure. Ziridan had it last." "Who?" "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 galaxy." "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 it?"
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