It was easy for me to get lost in details and Theed was full of amazing details. I had never been to such a beautiful and ornate city. I had taken my ship because the retreat was so far away and finding the nearest shuttle-port was a big pain. I landed in the main star-port, paid the landing fees and walked out into the large square.
Theed is one of the older cities on Naboo and is the capitol. While its roots were in agriculture, slowly over time it became the aristocratic center of the planet. Theed is where the current queen lives.
The buildings are almost all made from a warm, honey coloured stone, decorated with ornate carvings. The roofs reminded me a little of Tatooine in that they were domes and rounded but instead of being made from sand they were made from a metal that had turned a pale emerald green colour with the weather. Beyond the edge of the city were green fields and pastures. All around there were trees and cultivated plants and gardens and through it all ran the Solleu River.
It was a humid day, the air filled with a sweet dampness that permeated everything. While the sky was still a hazy pale blue there were clouds massing off in the distance. Before the day was out it would rain, probably there would be thunder and lightening along with it. The city was full of people going about their business. Everything seemed so normal and calm. Imperial presence was low key and quiet here. The Nubian people were on the whole very peaceful. It was all very civilized and completely opposite to Mos Eisley, which always some how seemed chaotic and disorganized to me.
I had packed a small satchel with things I thought I might need. I had strung a thin leather string through the Japor snippet, wore it as a necklace and had it tucked under my clothes. It seemed like the safest place to keep it. I was pretty certain that almost no one on this planet would remotely get the significance of the snippet but I had also been sworn to secrecy so I wasn’t taking any chances.
I made my way through the streets, browsing the shops and watching the people. There was an elegance here that was both calming and a little disarming all at the same time. People dressed up to go out and I must admit I felt a bit underdressed and back waterish but no one seemed to pay much attention to me. Just one more tourist in the capitol city here today off to the next sight seeing place tomorrow.
I found the library, which is actually a part of the Palace, almost by accident and decided that now was as good a time as any to poke my nose inside. It was impressive and it was huge. Overwhelming might be a better word for it.
The architecture was stunning. The entrance to the palace is wide open and high with vaulted ceilings and marble inlay floor. Everything was ornate and delicate. There was an austere stillness to the building I found calming. I walked through it until I found someone to talk to. She directed me to the main library and I went in. There were shelves that went floor to ceiling with both electronic and print archives. I just stood there for a few moments and gazed in wonder at it all. I guess I must have attracted attention because it didn’t take long before a very nice librarian came over and asked if I needed help. I had not even thought about why I was here or what I actually wanted. So I explained I was a tourist and was looking for some information about the history of Theed and then asked about the statue of Amidala.
The librarian smiled. “Ah yes, many people ask about that. She was much loved, such a shame.”
I gave her an ‘I am a stupid tourist can you explain that’ look and she smiled and led me to an alcove and pointed me to the stacks there.
“She was queen of Naboo for two terms and then she became a senator. She reigned during difficult times and did much for her people. It was tragic that she died so young.” The librarian said as she pulled out several data-files and handed them to me. “These are some of the more readable accounts of her life and if you should wish it there are some well written books in the gift shop I can write the titles down for you if you like.”
I nodded. “That would be very kind.” I said. “What do you mean by died so young?”
The librarian sighed. “She was just twenty seven when she was killed on Coruscant so the official story goes. No one knows how or why she was killed, it remains a mystery to this day. Poor thing, she was with child at the time. I was there for the funerary procession, terrible day for Naboo.” She sighed. “She had done so much for her people, you see. She is considered a heroine by all Nubians.”
“Does the statue mark her grave?”
“Oh heavens no.” the librarian shook her head. “The statue was erected some years after her death, the Emperor thought it fitting to mark her passing. He was quite fond of her you know. They worked closely together while he was still a senator and she queen. I think he thought of her as a sort of daughter. He never had family of his own, poor man, must be quite lonely for him now. No, she is not buried here. Her family did not wish that, although it would have been fitting. Many of the past monarchs are laid to rest in the crypts below the palace. Her family took her body back to be buried near the Lake District, her favourite place, they said. I think they wished that she be left in peace. It is not an easy place to get to, although there is a boat that goes out to the island where the villa is twice a day for mail and supplies.” She looked at me. “If you want I can tell you how to get there.”
The librarian smiled. “She has inspired so many young women like yourself. It is so nice to be able to help you to some how get closer to her.”
I smiled. I didn’t have the heart to tell this very enthusiastic woman I really and truly had no idea who Amidala was and that it had not been her that had inspired me to come here. I took the data pads and the list of recommended books and went to sit in one of the chairs provided and began to read. The only interruption was when the librarian returned to give me a detailed description of how to get to the Lake District and the burial site of Amidala. I sat and read. Time passed and I did not notice. The story of Amidala’s life was fascinating and I was surprised that she had entered politics so young. It was a bit humbling to read that at the age where I had been pondering the mysteries of ship mechanics and arguing with my father about going to school, she had been queen of an entire planet and was busy running around saving her people.
I almost jumped out of my skin when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the librarian again.
“I am sorry, dear, the library will be closing in fifteen minutes. If you have a library membership I can check that out for you,” she said nodding to the data pad in my hand. I shook my head.
“I am afraid I am not a resident of Naboo, just here for a short time.” I said, I did not want to get into details.
She smiled. “If you want to continue reading I suggest you stop by the gift shop, they have a copy of that particular book you have there. It is one of the better ones. They close soon too.” I nodded and thanked her for all her help.
The gift shop was easy to find and I bought several books. A couple on the history of Naboo itself and several about Amidala that the librarian and the shop clerk recommended to me. One was more filled with images than words and I felt my stomach drop when I saw Amidala’s face. I must have turned very pale because the shop clerk asked if I was alright.
I made the excuse of having not eaten all day which was the truth and asked if she knew of any good places to go for food. With a bag full of books and information and a head full of recommendations of where to eat, I left the Palace and made my way back across the bridge to towards the star port. I did not really feel like going out and sitting alone in a restaurant and I wanted to continue reading. I could cook and eat onboard my ship. That was the amazing thing about having my own ship, it was freedom to come and go.
By the time I reached the star-port it was dark and very wet. Lightening seared the sky and the thunder rumbled loudly. I was grateful the bag all my purchases were in was water proof because I was soaked to the skin. I talked to the dock-master and paid the fees for staying the night and another day. I was not sure about my plans, I had wanted to visit the statue as Lord Vader had asked but somehow that seemed wrong. By the time I had dried off, changed clothes and made myself some supper I had decided that in the morning I would go out to the Lake District and visit her burial site. I could shuttle into the nearest town and transportation from there was, according to the librarian, fairly easy. There were enough people who wished to pay their respects to Amidala that a way to get there had been made available.
I sipped my tea and sat staring at the image in the one book that had startled me in the gift shop. This woman, who was so beautiful and so sad, was the same woman in the visions Lord Vader had projected at me. What was she to him? Why did he need her forgiveness? It made no sense to me. I absently ran my fingers over the smoothness of the Japor Snippet around my neck and sighed. Nothing was ever as it seemed, especially when it came to Lord Vader. I was surrounded by men who were shrouded in mystery and untold stories. If nothing else it made life interesting.