It had been three months since Obi-Wan left the Temple, left the Order, left his life as a Jedi. Three months of learning tirelessly to be Stewjoni – the language, the culture, the history – so he could be ready for his official crowning as Aranov – what other cultures would have called King. Three months of assessing the situation, what the coup had done to his planet and people.
But now, it was finally time for him to take his vows. He knew them by heart, of course, like any Aranov would, but he still whispered them to himself, making sure he knew all the words. Outside, in the throne room, the Court was waiting. The sixteen members of his counsel, his three attendants, and the two Jedi Masters invited to witness the ceremony would be in first line. There would be others behind them, since the event was public for Stewjoni.
He took a breath, fighting back the urge to straighten robes that weren’t there. Even the long ones he had been learning to appreciate since he arrived weren’t in his possession, like tradition willed it. His hair was unbound on his shoulders, the product his attendants had used really accelerating the growth, his body entirely smooth but for his pubic hair, which had been very neatly trimmed. Nothing of the usual jewels, not even a henna tattoo – just his skin to cover himself in.
He breathed again, settling himself in the Force, and the doors opened. All eyes were on him, of course, and he tramped down hard the urge to cover himself up. There was no shame to be had, and he had never been ashamed of his body, but he felt exposed in a way he had never been. He didn’t look at the public assembled there, but walked to the raised dais on which the throne stood, surrounded by plants of all kinds. He stopped before he could reach it, turned and kneeled to his court.
“I come to you bared of my past”, he started, looking down, “and free of chains.”
Freed from the Jedi Order, most would think – “freed” of the inhibitor he had worn since he reached traditional human puberty, before he could get a first heat. It was starting to wear off, after three months, but not yet all that much, since his body was saturated with it.
“I come to you on my own will, and bare my neck to your yoke as a free man. I give myself to duty”, he declared, and a first layer of clothes was laid on him – a sheer white tunic that hid absolutely nothing. “I chain myself to the people”, he added, and heavy golden bracelets were fastened around his wrists, “to guide them and protect them”, he said, and there was another set of bracelets closed around his ankles.
“I give myself to be Aranov”, he declared, and another tunic, longer, was draped over him. “I swear to keep my womb open by the time I reach my third year of duty, and I swear to let another’s seed quicken it. I swear to upkeep the bloodline of the previous Aranov, so our people may never be without guidance.”
A sash around his hips, another layer – sleeveless and without any means to fasten it – and a large belt of carved leather studded with gold around his waist.
“I come on my free will”, he said again, and sandals were slid on his feet, “and give my freedom away for the good of my people.” Hands wove his hair. “The sacrifice I make shall not be in vain – jewels on his ears and around his biceps – for I shall serve Stewjon as long as I’ll draw breath.”
“I take up the mantel of Aranov”, he declared, and a heavy, gold-embroidered mantel was placed on his back, “like my father before me, and his father before him.” A pause. “I take up the crown of Stewjon”, he said, and the heavy crown was set on his brow, “so that all may know of my sacrifice, and honour it as it shall be.”
Slowly, he rose to his feet, and finally looked up to meet his people’s eyes. They swirled with admiration and gratitude in the Force, and he could see more than a few eyes blurred by tears. Even Quinlan seemed to be a bit shaken up. Mace, he couldn’t read. He had never been able to, but at least, he knew the Master of the Order approved his choice. Whether he had liked the ceremony was a whole other matter.
Like a wave, the people present took a knee, the two Jedi bowing at the waist in respect.
“We give you our allegiance”, his court said. “We give you our obedience. We give you our trust, to lead our people for its benefit. Long live our Aranov, and honoured be his sacrifice.”
They rose again and cheered, as he slowly sat on his throne. There was still so much to do, it was dizzying but- this felt like a victory, and he let himself smile. He would worry about the future later, and for now, enjoy the party organized for his crowning – and hope Quinlan wouldn’t tease him too much.
He feared this would be hoping in vain, though.