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Thread: The Moon Grove Festival

  1. #1
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Closed The Moon Grove Festival

    Gallo Mountains, Naboo.

    Time seemed to extend and yet collapse, an intricate puzzle that demanded even greater attention and organization than before. Clea had felt it to be the most significant adjustment since she had been nominated as Secretary of Education under the new Prime Minister's leadership. Access to education and quality of curriculum, beginning with literacy and other life skills, had been a driving force since she was younger and reaching such heights meant a lot to her; because she believed fiercely in the importance of education. It was more foundational than many wanted to admit. Her progressive views would also likely be at odds with more conservative politics in the government but she took dossiers one at a time, knowing when to collaborate and when to make a stand. One didn't climb up in the political hierarchy without solid observation and negotiation skills, along with a healthy dose of shrewdness.

    Shutting down the datapad on which she had been reviewing some last minute matters, Clea sent a message to her two assistants. Her chauffeur stopped at their destination right on cue, her timing impeccable, which made her lips briefly curve in a smile. She thanked the Rodian, a longtime employee of hers. They made some brows raise in question; but they were a fantastic hacker and a good shot, besides their mechanical skills, which had come in handy on certain occasions.

    "Thank you, Hasla."

    With a nod, the brunette left the vehicle, climbing up the large stairs leading to the Overny mansion, for the Naboo family had lent their property, including the infamous "Moon Grove," which had given its name to the new festival. Clea had been on the advisory committee since she was still a Dean at the Keresnaya University on her home world of Centares. She had personally traveled to meet with representatives for this joint event, celebrating various cultures, both from official Alliance worlds and some that were still independent. She had seen such events be fruitful in the past and believed that expanding beyond the usual "guests" would be good, and bring new blood and ideas to the table.

    It was now mid-afternoon and while the gala would only begin in a few hours, she had wanted to arrive early, still taking this very seriously and if her new position could help support such endeavors, it was another good reason to have carved time for this trip to Naboo. She had worked on several occasions in the past with the University of Theed, which was one of the main patrons of the festival.


  2. #2
    The envoy from Panatha had arrived three standard days ago in order to acclimate themselves to the new environment of Naboo. The reclusive Epicanthix remained indifferent of galactic affairs for decades, but the current chief wanted to dabble in diplomacy. Having long conquered their region of space, Chief Kanta believed there was potential to expand back into the known regions of space, and not necessarily renew the old bonds of relations with the Empire.

    After the great star was destroyed by the Rebellion, Imperial Forces were called back home from Panatha. Kanta's people had earned much autonomy in accepting the Empire into their midst and providing desired exported goods. Being so far out from Imperial Center, and purposefully behaving, there was a paltry show of force on Panatha as formality. The chief contemplated that the Empire's superiority could be rivaled by that of the New Republic.

    There were still communications with the Empire but nothing formal came of it. They were civil correspondences as Panatha grew stronger with technology and culture, fortifying their borders. Thus curiosity grew of the New Republic, the force that were victorious against Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader. Panatha was well versed in the culture that Empress Tarkin cultivated, even with the small shifts in education and propaganda, but the overall message was the same.

    The New Republic was more of a mystery and needed to be understood. Dialogue was initiated by the chief's agents and slowly ideas and information were shared, building the foundation of trust, It had blossomed enough that face time was necessary to continue this venture. Thus Chief Kanta sent her only child, Princess Aria Sihin, to begin in person relations with them at the Moon Grove Festival on Naboo through a cultural exchange program.

    Princess Aria stoically surveyed the grove with two guards behind her that had been handpicked by her mother. They wore dark grey and beige formal tunics and pants, arms adorned with gold and silver bands, hair tucked in and around cloth to keep it out of their faces. The princess stood out with the left side of hair shaved close, but the other side was worn longer, cupping her face down to her chin. Her ear was decorated with an ornate earring that hugged the curve of her ear with a tassel dangling from the lobe. It was gold in color, matching the trim of her the white silk tunic and trousers. Like her guards, she wore thick gold bands around her arm and forearm, along with thick rings around several fingers.

    Despite their slender frames, their physiques were muscular, clearly displayed by their bare arms. The Epicanthix were not just warriors but they were a society that valued culture. They enjoyed showing off how they could combine the two in appearance, and this was a moment that first impressions of their culture was momentous.

    The trio walked forward, Aria's eyes taking in the new foliage that was so different than home, the smells that enticed her senses, and the curious glances at the other guests as to who had just joined this cultural affair ...


  3. #3
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Clea spent much of her time before the actual gala talking with the Vice President of Theed University; but she made sure that she also spoke with a few other representatives, mostly who had been organizing this Festival with her. Many were surprised that she still took this event to heart with her new responsibilities; but the Centares-born brunette knew that a new position meant little if she forsake everything and everyone that came before. She could be ruthless when necessary and the Festival wasn't such an occasion.

    When more people arrived as the formal opening night was beginning, she kept track of who she recognized, exchanging a few pleasantries before eventually making her way towards the Moon Grove. The place was stunning. She had got to see it at its most beautiful during her previous visit in the early stages of preparation. In the thick of the night, the trees would show surreal colors at this season, with many flowers but also some of the leaves, with the moon being almost full, which was why this set of dates had been picked for the Festival. The organization committee had been happy when the family had agreed to lend their estate and provide some funds, so there was no reason not to accommodate them with showing the Grove at its peak.

    She caught sight of one of the dignitaries she had met during one of the diplomatic travels for this event and smiled. Her time on Panatha had been fruitful and fascinating even though she wished it had been longer for their civilization had piqued her curiosity. She made her way towards the princess and her guards. She had mostly spoken to Sihin's mother during her visit but the young woman had exhibited quite the intellect besides what she had heard about her warrior prowess.

    Even as Secretary of Education, she respected protocol and waited until the guards let her step closer. She offered a courteous nod to the other woman. "Princess Sihin, it is a pleasure to see you again."

  4. #4
    Aria returned the nod, but not as deeply. The Secretary of Education was respected during her short diplomatic visit to Panatha, but Modries was lower station. That was not to discount her abilities as an educator and politician. Chief Kanta's advisors were well respected and honored. This was merely respecting status and tradition.

    "Madam Modries. It's a pleasure to see you again. " She clasped her hands behind her back, a show of trust. "I was surprised to hear you were partly in charge of the festival given your extensive duties with the New Republic. That's commendable."

  5. #5
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    The subtle cues of show of trust didn't go unnoticed. While she was no diplomat, she had interacted with a vast array of individuals over her career, and even prior to that given how her parents had been prosperous merchants. She appreciated the princess's words and body language, knowing that by Epicanthix' standards, she was of lower status, even though the Festival happened on Alliance soil. It was something she had been arguing with fellow educators and especially politicians at times, that respecting one's culture didn't mean they thought lesser of them but that one didn't build bridges by sheer arrogance or narrow-mindedness.

    "Thank you, Princess. I had been part of the committee prior to my new position and it made no sense for me to ignore this event. I hope Naboo has treated you well."

  6. #6
    She nodded in acknowledgment. A strong work ethic and commitment to duty were firmly entrenched in Panatha society. One never started anything unless they were to see the end result. If one could not despite everything in their power to do so, a successor was chosen. This could be as simple as painting a picture on a canvas or as dramatic as your second finishing a duel to the death because you were defeated. Or in the longevity as a race, choosing replacements for roles in the military and advisors to the chief.

    To honor ones duty to the simplest of things or to society as a whole brought balance.

    "Naboo's quite beautiful." Her eyes glanced at the trees and flowers nearest to them, a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "We climbed to Dee'ja Peak. The sight was glorious."

    She inhaled deeply, remembering the fresh air and mist of water from the falls that touched her skin. It reminded her of the mountains on Panatha and why she was eager to see it on the second day of their arrival. "The people were welcoming. Kind. Offered to share in their blossom wine which was most heady and fragrant. It's quite rare from what they explained so I was honored they wanted to share."

    Her wistful look refocused on Modries. "Have you the pleasure of drinking it? I presume so considering your station."
    Last edited by Aria Sihin; Jul 26th, 2021 at 12:01:51 PM.

  7. #7
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    While they came from very different backgrounds, Clea recognized the wisdom beyond her years present in the princess, as she had been back then. It wasn't that common. Many youths prided themselves in knowing more than they did; but some walked the talk, and the Epicanthix was one of them. Her mother was a solid leader but she had found herself intrigued by the heiress. Clea had such inklings from time to time, coming from years of studies and observing others. Moving from academia to politics hadn't been that far fetched, given the vipers and hypocrites that ran in both circles.

    She smiled at the princess's response. Naboo was a planet most locals and visitors cherished and she herself had experienced it a few times in her life.

    "I am glad you got to see Dee'ja Peak. It is a sight to behold and an experience to feel in one's soul. I hope to climb it again if time permits during this visit."

    She tilted her head to the side at the mention of blossom wine. Her expression turned pensive as certain memories crept back to her mind.

    "I have, a long time ago. It is exquisite by itself and especially pairs well with CannelÚs. Have you had the opportunity to try them?"

    CannelÚs were not necessarily advertised as a local must-have but her mother had insisted on introducing her to them when she was a child.

  8. #8
    When Modries admitted she wanted to climb Dee'ja Peak, Aria turned to look at her guards. An unspoken understanding past between them and the princess returned her attention solely towards the New Republic Secretary.

    "Cannelez?" Aria said, the word foreign on her tongue and it showed. "No. I have not."

    Answering the most immediate question, another posed in her mind. The subtle shift in Modries expression did not go unnoticed. Aria was concerned if her innocent question went too far and hit a hidden nerve from the past. Did she offend? And if so, she needed to rectify her mistake, even if it were an innocent one.

    "I suggest a trade. You introduce me to these cannelez and I offer myself and my guards to return to the mountain with you. Being here is a gift thanks to the work you've done with my mother. I'd like to show appreciation this way." Her head shifted towards the direction of the mountain. "It'd be good to return there again."

  9. #9
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Clea observed the silent exchange of looks, knowing first hand how one's guards and close personnel had ways of nonverbal communication. She was no princess but her life hadn't been without threats and certain people she had kept in her service over the years needed no formal words to get her meaning and it was mutual. It was always fascinating to see who one chose to surround themselves with. And Clea was a realist and expected her new station to bring new enemies in the fold, and not just due to her political views. Secretary of Education was no war strategist but she had her own battlefield nonetheless.

    She couldn't helped smiling fondly at the princess's remark about canneles. The slight mispronunciation was almost endearing, a testimony to the wide scope of accents and cultures across the galaxy.

    She quirked a brow at the mention of a trade. She hadn't expected such an offer but she knew that her schedule could accommodate a couple more days, maybe three, on Naboo, even though she had been aware she wouldn't be able to stay the whole Festival, set to last eight days.

    "Thank you, Princess. I gladly accept. And there are a couple of lovely family bakeries who creates among the most delicious canneles at the foot of the tracks leading to the Peak."

  10. #10
    Aria nodded, a small smile forming. "Excellent. Let me know when your schedule permits."

    Both of the guards nodded but it was more deeply.

    "And we look forward to new experiences under less formal circumstances," she said, her hand sweeping at the scene behind Modries. University representatives were mingling with all sorts of beings but for now, the group gave the Princess and Secretary respectable distance during their exchange. Music shifted from gentle notes from string and wood instruments to an upbeat rhythm that even Aria began to unconsciously nod to.

  11. #11
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    "I will let you know tomorrow morning."

    Clea had a few pre-approved engagements, whether speaking or attending, but she knew one of the organizers wanted to add a couple more meetings to her schedule if possible. The Secretary wanted to have some time to enjoy the Festival without a fixed agenda, and she was definitely going to make time to go hike with the princess.

    She nodded at Aria's remark about the appeal of less formal circumstances.

    "So am I. There is much to discover in less formal settings."

    And the universe knew she did well with formal occasions; but she knew too well how life was more than neat boxes.

    She noticed the change of music and the slight effect it had on the Epicanthix. Placing her empty glass on a nearby waiter's tray, she smiled to the young noble, offering her hand.

    "Would you like to dance, Princess?"

  12. #12
    Aria hummed with a firm nod, glad that they were on common ground. The conversation with Modries was effortless as it had been back on Panatha when the secretary spoke with her mother.

    Her nodding turned to a slight bob as the crowned princess gazed at the dancers and musicians when the soft clink of a glass broke her reverie. She looked into the smiling face of Modries and was momentarily speechless. "You want to dance with me."

    A statement, not a question, spoken in surprise. "I've not learned the steps yet."

    Aria was watching the footwork, trying to memorize the details in order to understand Nabooian culture better, as all children of Panatha were born to do.

  13. #13
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Clea observed the princess, curious to see what her response would be. She was ready to let it be if the younger brunette turned the invitation down.

    "I do," she confirmed with patience.

    She briefly turned her attention to the dancers and back to Aria.

    "It is a new variation on the Rori waltz, which has ebbed and flow in the last two decades."

    She quirked a brow at the Epicanthix.

    "The steps are easy to follow if you have a decent lead," she added with a slightly mischievous smile.

    "If you'd rather watch instead, it is perfectly fine. I simply saw you move your head along the rhythm and thought I would offer."

  14. #14
    "Huh." Aria straightened her posture and considered the waltz. The dance was not unknown to her but she had never seen it performed live. Reading and hearing about a dance was not the same as doing.

    "And you are that decent lead," Aria said plainly but eyes twinkled. "To learn is to do."

    She nodded and held out her hand. "I accept your invitation, Madam Modries."

  15. #15
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Clea was both intrigued and inwardly amused with the nuances of the princess's tone and her body language. The Epicanthix held wisdom for her age but was also eager to learn which was a great sign of a future leader.

    When the invitation was accepted, she took Aria's hand and bowed her head with a smile. She led the younger brunette to the dancefloor, finding an appropriate spot for them. She politely placed her other hand on her waist, letting her place her own over her shoulder. She began the steps right when the waltz was at a slightly slower pace than other segments of the eight minutes piece, which was perfect for her partner to adjust.

  16. #16
    Currently Aria had her head towards the floor to watch the movement of Modries feet coupled with a keen ear for the musical beats that it was paired with. It would also be rude to step on the secretary's toes and unacceptable. The repetitive four step dance became fluid and smooth so it was with confidence that Aria raised her head and looked to her dance partner.

    "Not that I mistrusted you but you're right. The steps are quite easy and you're a good lead."

  17. #17
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    Clea liked how the princess was mindful and observant - qualities she had witnessed in her during her visit to Panatha. Truth be told, she would have been unfazed if Aria Sihin had even stepped on her toes. It didn't happen though.

    She smiled to the other woman when their gazes met and they moved more fluidly together.

    "Thank you, Princess. Given the physical prowess you possess as a warrior, I thought it shouldn't be too difficult."

    She always enjoyed dancing and it was definitely a perk during such events. And as expected the music ensemble did remarkably.

  18. #18
    Princess Sihin and selected members of the royal guard had provided a welcome demonstration of athleticism, power, and strength - beautiful katas that seamlessly transitioned into a dozen warriors synchronizing fighting stances, arm and leg movements, use of staves and swords before one on one combat commenced. Aria had won but not because she was handed victory. The guards got their hits in and the princess was left with bruises and a nice cut along her eyebrow, but she was that focused, training since five years old in balance, discipline and meditative techniques.

    So yes, Modries knew what a quick study Sihin could do with something knew.

    A proud, thin, smile graced the princess' lips. "Thank you, Madam Secretary. I'm happy you remember my skills and how well I can learn. It brings honor to me."

  19. #19
    TheHolo.Net Poster Clea Modries's Avatar
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    While Clea made sure to stay in decent shape and was educated in self-defense and shooting, she was no warrior herself but recognized the amount of work and discipline it took to be like the Epicanthix guards, as well as the princess. The demonstration had been impressive back on Panatha and she had especially found fascinating how Aria Sihin had earned her victory. It was a good sign of leadership and culture in her view because it wasn't built on vapid nepotism.

    "You are welcome," she replied with a smile. "It was an impressive demonstration."

    When the waltz ended a few minutes later, she properly guided the princess off the dance floor and bowed her head. Not wanting to overstay her welcome, and knowing that other people expected to speak with her, she bid her goodbye for the evening, promising to let her know the next day when they could set up the hike and canneles tasting.

  20. #20
    Two days later a speeder driven by the guards of Panatha brought the princess and secretary to the chosen town at the base of Dee'ja Peak called Is'ian. Along the way Aria had given proper introductions of Chete and Atatiye , the chosen guards for the festival, to Clea. They were focused on the princess' safety and did not participate in small talk, but it was rude for Clea to not be on a first name basis with them as they were climbing.

    Aria hopped out of the speeder after Chete found a space to park near the bakery. Gone were her formal clothes, now replaced with practical blue pants and a cream colored tunic. A red sash wrapped around her waist that secured a sheathed knife, glowsticks, binoculars, and tightly wound rope. The rest of any needed supplies were in the backpack she wore. She ran a hand through her hair and closed her eyes, taking her time to smell freshly made dough.

    "Ah," she exhaled, soon opening her eyes. "We started at the Doo'a trail about ... 6 kilometers from here. Nothing there but other hikers and speeders. This ..." she looked around with fondness, tugging at her backpack straps, "... this is much nicer."

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