“Who?” The name made Lea want to laugh from the ridiculousness and cry from terror at the same time. She was as confused as ever. “Who is that?”
“You don’t know? Oh boy…” Tay said, quiet for a moment.
Lea got a sinking feeling in her stomach. Tay had been energetic since the moment they’d met, and now she was completely quiet and still. “Come on, tell me! I need to know!” Lea urged.
Tay sighed. “Alright. Darth Rokoi is a knight. Well, a knight of Ren. When Kylo Ren was in power, he had his own band of followers, or something called the Knights of Ren. Rokoi is one of those. He’s actually around here.”
“How do you know that?” Lea asked, hoping she could trust Tay but not wanted to rush into things.
“Are you kidding? I know about everything that happens around here. I live basically in the entire town.” Tay insisted, “Anyway, I was going to say that rumor has it that Darth Rokoi is around here looking for something.”
“Or someone.” Lea said, beginning to sweat, “How powerful is he?”
“Pretty powerful.” Tay replied, “He’s got hundreds of troops in his control.”
“Do you know where he is?” Lea asked. She was getting desperate. Lea wondered if this guy had a temper, and who knew what he’d do if Lea didn’t get the lightsaber to him fast enough? Her whole family could be in danger!
“Yes. I can take you to him,” Tay offered. “It’d be faster if we took the speeder, but this hunk of junk isn’t going to get us anywhere. We’ll have to walk.” Tay pulled her own messenger bag out of the speeder.
“Oh, thank you!” Lea exclaimed, “I don’t mind walking.”
“Is that a compass?” Tay asked, pointing to the necklace around Lea’s neck. Lea noticed she was returning to her spirited self. “Great! We’ll need it to find Rokoi.” She said, without waiting for Lea to reply. Tay’s hands moved around in her bag. “I’ve got food, water, and my wrench. Okay, let’s go.”
“You mean… now?” Lea inquired, to make sure she’d heard correctly.
Tay shrugged. “Why not? Do you have to do something before we go?”
Lea had to admit she had a point. She wished she had the same sense of adventure. Tay seemed lively, almost joyful to go find the knight of Ren. Lea felt like she was walking towards her death.
“Let me see your compass.” Tay insisted. Lea held out her hand and Tay took the compass, turning her hand left and right to find north. “Huh.” Tay muttered, her brow furrowed in thought.
Lea leaned in closer and saw the compass needle pointing directly at the road before them. “What is it?”
“I think your compass is broken,” Tay finally concurred, “because north is that way.” She pointed to the compass’s east. “It’s actually pointing west.”
“That’s strange…” Lea agreed. “I just got it a few weeks ago.”
“Have you been following this road north?” Tay asked.
“Well, yes, according to the compass, it’s north.” Lea told her. “Why?”
Tay pulled a map out of her bag and opened it up. Lea leaned in to take a closer look. “See, we’re on this road – Pine Tree Lane – and you’ve been following it for how long? By the way, do you see any pine trees around here, because I don’t see – ”
“Several hours, at least.” Lea suggested, cutting off Tay’s ramblings. “I actually came out of those woods and started down the road.” She pointed to a cluster of trees on the map. “That’s where I found Chewie.”
“But the road curves. You couldn’t possibly be going in the same direction the entire time, even if your compass was broken.” Tay said. “This is strange.”
Lea scratched her head. “You’re right. I’m sure I followed the compass north the entire – “ Suddenly, her face light up. “The Force!” she exclaimed, “That’s it!”
Tay looked at her strangely. “What’s it? How does the –“ A look of understanding came over her face. “Oh, it probably was the Force that led you to me.”
“It all fits now!” Lea said, glad she finally understood, “The compass needle pointed where it wanted me to go.”
“So are we going to go, or what?” Tay was getting impatient. She made a pretend pouting face at Lea and it made her laugh. Lea felt like she and Tay had been friends for their whole life. But there wasn’t time to savor the moment; they had to go find Darth Rokoi.
“Sure, just let me see where the compass is pointing.” Lea held the compass still in her hand, and the needle spun wildly around. It couldn’t make up its mind. “It’s not settling down.” She reported to Tay.
“You probably don’t need it anymore,” Tay said as she studied a rock she’d just picked up off the gravel road, “I can take you right to him.”
Lea blushed, and she was glad when Tay didn’t notice. “Oh, right.”
“Ready to go?” Tay asked for the third time that day. She tossed the rock aside and stood up as tall as she could.
“Ready,” Lea confirmed, gripping her messenger bag.
Tay walked over to her speeder, and kissed one of the engines. “I’m gonna miss you,” she mumbled, barely audible to Lea.
Lea thought Tay’s eyes were shiny, as if she was going to cry, but Tay turned her face away and started down the road without a word. As the bright noon sun began to peek out from behind a cloud, Lea ran to catch up.
*Stay tuned for Part 17*