Essa and Guenhwyvar the three Uruloki in human form could now talk among themselves and in the utmost privacy. A shield was erected around them by Sylvanus, a shield that blocked all mental communication. Those within could communicate with each other in silence and still speak to those outside verbally.
It was Bronwyn who broke the mental silence. ( Sylvanus, the twa young people who are about to wed are destined for great things. I have traced their and their descendants life threads as far into the future as I can and have seen the joining of two lines of inheritance. They are the Moffat line and that of Siward Fairbairn. There is Summat about th' latter line that puzzles me. There is a strange twist tae th' line some years hence. A...a Uruloki? Ane o' us? And a Human? Here brother, follow along.)
Bronwyn cast a complex spell and the life threads of the lineage of Siward Fairbairn were revealed. After a few moments Bronwyn said ( Here, elder brother, Look here! See this change in the color of the life thread and this strange joining, here... that is one of our people I am quite sure. But, the question is who? and for th' lo'e o' th' Celestial Dragon, Why??)
Sylvanus looked at the threads for a long time and then sat back and steepled his fingers. Peering over them at Bronwyn He said ( This joining with ane o' oor kind it has nae bad effects... Luik here, Bronratha, see hoo the thread strengthens past th' joining? and luik hoo it gaes on tae jaen w'... Oh My! The Jaenin' o' th' twa lines is fortuitus! Ane o' their issue shall ... th' faerth planet? It is anly a faint possibility th' noo but as th' time draws nearer, It could be!)
It blocked all mental communication. Those within still could communicate with each other in silence, but only could speak to those outside verbally.
It was Bronwyn who broke the mental silence. (Sylvanus, the twa young people who are about to wed are destined for great things. I have traced their and their descendants life threads as far into the future as I can and have seen the joining of two lines of inheritance. They are the Moffat line and that of Siward Fairbairn. There is summat about th' latter line that puzzles me. There is a strange twist tae th' line some years hence. A...a Uruloki? Ane o' us? And a Human? Here brother, follow along.)
Sarah watched in fascination as her sister cast a complex spell and the life threads of the lineage of Siward Fairbairn were revealed. After a few moments Bronwyn said (Here, elder brother, look here! See this change in the color of the life thread and this strange joining, here ...? That is one of our people I am quite sure. But, the question is who? And for th' lo'e o' th' Celestial Dragon, why?)
Sarah looked at the twinings of the threads and suddenly gasped. She knew. At least ... could it be? After all that time, they would ... consumate?
Sylvanus looked at the threads for a long time and then sat back and steepled his fingers. Peering over them at Bronwyn he said (This joining with ane o' oor kind, it has nae bad effects ... Luik here, Bronratha, see hoo the thread strengthens past th' joining? And luik hoo it gaes on tae jaen w' ... Oh my! The jaenin' o' th' twa lines is fortuitus! Ane o' their issue shall ... th' faerth planet? It is anly a faint possibility th' noo but as th' time draws nearer, it could be!)
Sarah chuckled inwardly. She was careful not to allow her thoughts to creep into the link between them. (So. My little Companion is destined for great things, is she? Then one of her female progeny will meet and marry a Fairbairn, and pass on the genetic aspect of the Uroloki that eventually will be lodged in the seed of a young man. And indeed he will meet a Moffat lass and bed her. How strange!)
It was not the genetic lineage that intrigued her most, however. It was the twist of fate. Two descendants of Siward would be the first Humans to step on heavenly bodies. That was unprecedented. She marveled at her conclusions, but kept her silence.
"We have discussed this between oorsel'es, and then wi' the bairns," Ainsley began. "We are agreeit tha' we wish the bairns tae be boond tae oos, buit will ask tha' we ha'e soome wa' tae end the bond if we find it is nae a guid idea."
Guen looked at Ian, and he nodded. "Aye, 'tis a guid idea, buit wha kennet if it will waerk as we wish?"
The Companion smiled and nodded. "I am nae a parent, buit I can oonderstand the concern. Wha' is tae say hoo a bairn will react tae sooch a constraint. Especially aun wha' is sooch a free spirit as Sean." She closed her eyes for a minute, thinking rapidly. When she opened them again, she smiled. "Aye, we can adjoost wha' we considered. Essa and I will include a waerd in the spell. Say it thrice, and the spell will be gaene. Agreeit?"
Both the parents looked relieved. They nodded and Ainsley asked, "Shall we gae and get the bairns?" Guen shook her head.
"There is nae need. We ken of thim." REaching out with her mind, she smoothly meshed into Essa's surface thoughts. (Sister, I need thy help, t'noo.) In flashing images she conveyed the essence of the request and her method of coping with the need to be able to end the binding if the parents felt it needful. A sensation of a smile returned. Moments later, she felt a strong draw on her strength, and then Essa's voice sounded in her mind.
('Tis set. If ither of her parents wishet tae ken of their place, they ha'e buit tae think strangly of the bairn and whisper 'reveal', and they shall see where the yoong aun is. Then shall they hear and see wha' the bairn doose. Conversely, all ither bairn has tae diu is cry oot in their mind for ony of the trey ... Ainsley, Ian, oor Brighde. Shuid ither parent wish tae end the spell, they may dae sae wi' the waerd 'begaene!', spaken thrice wi'oot ony ither between, wi'in a few seconds.)
Guen noticed that both the adults' eyes were slightly glassy. As Essa broke the connection, she realised that they also had heard her voice. Instantly, she meshed with them. (Noo, try it.) She heard two whispers of "Reveal!" and saw both double up with laughter.
For one he was sleepy much of the time that went on for several days. Another thing was that he became immensely fond of beef essence*. That was spooned into him for several days by a succession of the Inn's liveliest and loveliest young maids. Any other man might have had his head turned but Rhydderch had his eyes fixed on his own prize the fair Cassandra. Still he found them to be pleasant and companionable as long as they spoke very softly.
His head hurt. This time it was not the internal hurt of thinking too much rather it was real pain. None would tell him what caused it but when the girl Essa visited him the pain disappeared almost as if by magic. After six days he was allowed to leave his room for a brief time and sit up in the great room near the evening fire. Even that warm glow was almost more than his eyes could bear.
Then came a fine day when Lady Guenhwyvar pronounced him fit enough to go and sit in the garden for a brief time. She sat with him holding his hand talking to him in soothing tones. He liked that but the voice he really wanted to hear was not present. It was not until nearly two weeks after his arrival at the Inn that he heard that voice cry out his name. Turning, he was just in time to receive a sudden hug and a full-blown kiss from his beautiful Cassandra.
In brief tones she told him that she and Laird Pader along with Sir Richard's sister Catherine had come for Richard's wedding by mandate from Earl Dubh Glas. She was taking over his care commencing immediately. For the first time in days Rhydderch smiled supremely happy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 8 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*beef essence - This is an ancient cure for severe illness. A mass of finely-chopped or ground beef (a pound or so) is put into a small, tall container. That is set into a pan of boiling water, with a loose lid covering it. The container is boiled until the essence juices of the meat come out. Those are poured off into a cup, and the container returned to the boiling water.
This can be done three or four times before the meat juices are so depleted that little additional is produced. This essence is highly nourishing and can be kept down by people too unsettled in the stomach to retain anything else. It is excellent for those who suffer from respiratory flu, pneumonia, pleurisy, head injuries, and similar ailments.
One of the chief endearments of the juice is that it smells wonderful and tastes even better. However, it must be administered in small doses ... perhaps a few tablespoons at a time.
As a child, the author received this magic elixir on several occasions. He would have drunk it by the gallon, had anyone supplied that much. However, his mother was wise enough to limit the intake.
The weather took a turn for the horrible, with the Sun yielding to storms the like of which had not occurred in memory or tales. Some whispered that Magick was involved, for surely no such could be of natural causes, could they? Of note were those in the area of Melrose, where bright sunshine lapsed unaccountably into mist and rain with a suddenness that seemed to the simple folk of the town to be uncanny. Several were, of course, the arrivals of Dragons. On hte3other hand, most were quite natural. Leading up to the marriage of Sir Richard and Lady Teressa, the days were filled with activity on a variety of fronts.
Ignoring the weather, a messenger was dispatched from the Inn with a letter to the Laird of the Lee. Although the messenger was not aware of the fact, that missive was signed by the six most powerful persons in the Borders: Earl Archibald Dubh Glass, Sheriff Ian Moffat, Sir Falkirk MacRuari and his wife Elspeth (Dubh Glas), and Sir Kent Cathcart and his wife Christina (MacRuari). It contained a request that the Laird of the Lee present himself and any retinue he cared to bring forthwith for the knighting of one Gruffydd Rydderch, and a brief explanation regarding why this was to happen. Sir Paedar responded that of course he intended to come. Come he did, with his wife and a certain young woman whose favor he had learned Rydderch desired. He came for his own purposes, as well as the summons by the Earl.
In another aspect, both Richard and Teressa were besieged by tasks for preparations. Richard obtained a length of the Moffat tartan, its green and burnt umber tones settling well on the lad. Ian presented his son with new dress-rigging for the occasion, remarking that this was not his gift, but rather his responsibility. After all, the father remarked, the family did have some semblance of appearances to maintain.
On the distaff side, Ainsley and Brighde firmly took charge of Teressa. They hustled her into Melrose to the wonderful dressmaker there, and within a week the lass had her wedding gown as well as a dancing gown and a traveling dress. The former was lovely, as the members of the unusually large congregation gathered at the Abbey to witness their union observed.
It was made for Teressa by the seamstress in Melrose. Light blue in color, it had accents of white and royal blue around the collar, wrists and hem, and a lace-trimmed sash of white as well. The woman managed somehow to find or construct slippers that matched, those being made entirely of fabric rather than of hide, according to the wishes of the bride. In a whispered aside, Teressa explained to Lady Ainsley and Brighde that the Elves did not like to wear things made of parts of a sentient creature that once had lived. Thus, even the soles of her slippers were of plant material, being constructed of finely-woven sisal obtained from hawser rope. And, in deference to the habits of Humans, nothing tied. All was fastened with tiny toggles and loops.
The color theme carried on to the dancing gown as well. That was much simpler, having no ruffles or lace except for a tiny fringe at the cuffs. Even so, that cotton gown was more elegant than anything that Brighde hoped or dreamed ever to own. The linen traveling dress was even more simple. It was very plain, having almost no tucks or folds, and no ornamentation at all. It was a solid color, the same light blue, and the seamstress had provided a white scarf of silk as the sole concession to adornment.
Lady Ainsley also had a dress made. Hers was much less fancy, almost severe. Still, when Brighde saw her in it at the first fitting, she was taken aback at how elegant her Lady looked. Of course, the plain fawn color looked much more festive when, from a bag she had brought, Ainsley drew a narrow length of the Moffat tartan which she looped over one shoulder as a sash. Lady Ainsley certainly had a good sense of fashion, and she dressed accordingly.
It came as a complete surprise to Brighde when the seamstress turned to her and asked her to step forward for measurements. However, this was no mistake. Ainsley's hand between her shoulders propelled her forward. "After aw', if ye are tae accompany Sir Ian and me, and tae be the maid of honaer tae Lady Teressa as she has asket, ye muist be fittingly dresset." To the seamstress, her Lady added, "Twa goowns. Aun tae compliment the wadding goown, and aun for the lass in which tae dance. Slippers tae match as weel, and thaese of fabric if ye please."
So she stood there while the seamstress peeled her out of kirtle and dress, leaving her only in her shift. Then she was poked, prodded, and gauged with a cord until she wondered if there was any area of her body that had not been measured. Even the length of her legs and the swell of her small bosom were measured.
At the fitting day, she found herself trying on not only the dresses she expected, but far more. She received a full set of underthings and her first real corset as well, and then those measurements made sense to her. Still, there was no way she could express her joy in receiving the apparel. Her maid's gown was more beautiful than was Lady Teressa's dancing gown.
While the dancing gown was rather plain, she thought to ask Lady Ainsley if she might, just possibly, have a wide ribbon of the Moffat tartan to make into a rosette that she could wear at her left shoulder. The Lady smiled at this request, and nodded.
On the eve of the last day in April, Rhydderch was puzzled. First came to his room the pair of maids who had been responsible for his healing. They poked and prodded until he was embarrassed enough to blush. At last they pronounced him sufficiently fit to be up and about telling Sir Ian so when he came in.
Sir Ian crooked a finger and led him outside. "Ye ate weel Laddie?"
"Guid. Coome ye wi' me."
They went into the stable, finding a horse already harnessed to a light cart. Ian helped Rhydderch climb up, and then walked around and ascended to the seat himself. They left the Inn without further words spoken. Rhydderch had no idea whence they were going. It was not until they came in sight of the Abbey that he understood they had gone toward Melrose.
At the gate, a hooded friar was waiting. Sir ian helped Rhydderch to climb down and then drove off, leaving him standing with the friar. Rhydderch wondered at this, since he had no idea why he was there. The friar stood silent and did not answer when Rhydderch tried to inquire about his reasons for being at the Abbey. Instead he turned away and entered the gate waiting until Rhydderch followed. Inward they went, entering the Abbey by the main door. Inside, they walked the length of the chancel to the rood screen and the rail before it. Here with a hand motion the friar made it clear that Rhydderch was to kneel and pray. Then without a word he left.
Still wondering Rhydderch knelt and began his "Our Father" but still wondered why he was there. After a bit the Abbott entered and came toward him. The man set a package of things on the kneeling pad beside Rhydderch. He dropped his hand on the shoulder of Rhydderch and spoke quietly.
"Here are the things tha' ye will need taemorraew maern. Noo pray my son." With that he left. Rhydderch had no idea what was inside the cloth but he had not been given permission to look so he left it alone.
Why is he left here? Why is he praying? Has he done some terrible thing for which he must ask forgiveness? There was no answer. Thinking about these things made his head hurt. Not like it had recently, but as it always had when he tries to think about the reasons why the rich and powerful do things.
Still, he had been given an instruction. He fingered an imaginary rosary and began to pray. After a bit he finished the series of prayers represented by the beads of the rosary and then just thought for a time. He was no closer to a solution to his questions. Again he started on his "Our Father" and then went through the rosary again. Still nothing in the way of an answer so he began again. Surely the answer would come to him.
He knew not that his time in the great sanctuary of the Abbey at Melrose was supposed to be a period of fervent prayer regarding his coming investiture as a knight. Each person thought someone else was going to inform him. All he knew was that he had been told to pray, and that he did. When the first light of morning began to lend life to the variegated colors of the windows of that great edifice, he was nearly exhausted. At last, at the sixth hour the bell for the morning ritual rang, and a friar was sent to bring him to the eating hall. With him out of the way, the brothers conducted their Lauds.
Meanwhile, Rhydderch sat in the eating hall, almost literally contemplating his navel. His head felt so heavy after an entire night of continuous prayer. And he was very thirsty. However, before he could rest enough to feel frustrated and begin to raise a ruckus, the first service ended. Friars began to trickle in to take their places at table. There was, of course, no talking, and no one asked him if he needed anything. The silence until the Abbot arrived was broken only by the shuffling of slippered feet and the movement of benches as men seated themselves. An occasional cough or clearing of the throat was as near to speech as anyone came.
After the grace, Rhydderch was too busy eating to worry about asking questions. It took several tankards of water to slake his thirst. After the morning meal, he was taken to a cell to rest briefly. It seemed he hardly had closed his eyes when one of the brothers was waking him. The man held out clothing Rhydderch never had seen before.
First was a set of white undertrews. Then came a white shift shirt, along with a pair of white breeks. The color confounded him. But the rest of the clothing astounded him. It was all chain mail, beautifully made. And that was followed by a new baldric with an empty scabbard. Of what use was that? It was useless to ask the friar who was helping him don this strange attire.
Readied at last, the friar took him along. They went back to the chancel. As the door opened, Rhydderch found his ears assaulted by a clamor of voices as people gathered there saw him. He was stunned as he was led forth and the friar gestured for him to kneel before the rail. Strangely, he was required to face toward the congregation, rather than toward the sanctuary.
That was when he notice the faces of people he recognised. Laird Paedar was there. So too was Father Simon, who for once beamed at him. Most importantly to Rhydderch was the presence of his beloved Cassandra. Her face was wreathed in smiles. But what occurred next astounded the lad.
The Earl of Dubh Glas rose and came forward. He told some wild story about how Gruffydd Rhydderch had saved the life of Lady Christina, something that Rhydderch did not recall ever doing. Then the Earl beckoned to the congregation, calling the names of a number of important people. Laird Paedar was one, and Sir Richard, Sir Kent, Sir Falkirk, and a number of other knights came forward. At last, in silence, quite a few stood in a circle surrounding him. There was a singing whisper of steel as the Earl drew his sword, and that was repeated by the others. The voice of the Earl came in a low growl.
"Gruffydd Rhydderch, ye have been assessed by these men and foond tae be of merit. Therefaere, befaer aw' these assembled, we in concert and in unison dub thee knight. In the Name of the Faither, and of the Son, and of the Haely Spirit."
As he spoke the three names of the Trinity, weight grew on the young man's left shoulder, then on his right, then on the crown of his pol. Every man there had laid his sword on Rhydderch in each position.
"Rise, Sir Gruffydd, and take thy spurs and siward from thy laird!" He staggered to his feet and found that Laird Paedar was holding out his own sword, hilt first. From its blade dangled a pair of fine steel spurs, those embellished with the seal of the House of Lee. His knees nearly gave way as the realisation hit home. He was a knight!
A voice behind him caused him to turn. "Noo, my friends, if it please thee, can we prepare for the next ceremaeny?" The Abbot stood there with a smile on his face. Cassandra came forward to capture his arm, and with a proprietary air led him to stand beside her. The Earl was the last to return to his position in the congregation. At a signal from the Abbot, they all knelt to receive the salutation for the beginning of the marriage ritual.
Every man there had laid his sword on Rhydderch. As the swords first touched him, Saurantha had an idea. She flashed a query thought to her sister and brother. the answer came back affirmative. Then she directed her idea to Essa, whom she knew was particularly interested in the man.
(Shall I, Little One?)
An image of Essa's smiling countenance, joined by that of Guen, formed in her mined. The pair of images nodded. So, the two of them had formed some sort of an alliance? That was hardly surprising, for both girls were intelligent and learning rapidly, and they had much to bind them, much to share. Still, it was interesting. She would think on that more, later.
Saurantha lost no time. She began a flow of positive energy. Drawing on the others, she included their concepts of what would sustain, encourage, and invigorate this young knight-in-the-making. At each of the three touchings, she continued that process.
When the symbolism of the event was done, she had instilled in Rhydderch a rightful sense of self, of motivation, of assurance that his judgement was sound, and of the courage of his own convictions that already had been budding with in him. She just encouraged these things, nurturing them, and starting them flowering. The lad was changed, for the positive. He might remain so for the rest of his life if he received the kind of life-long support she thought she detected in the expression and body language of the girl who stood beside him.
In the final instant of the swords resting on his pol, Saurantha added one last little touch. That was the blossoming of the idea to ask Lord Paedar for the girl's hand in marriage. That little bit of reinforcement might be enough to bring him from his sense of isolation into the full light of participation in the world. She felt his mind pounce upon the concept, seize it, and saw it sink into his consciousness, already being accepted and reinforced by his own desires.
The investiture of the knight was of especial interest to Essa, since she had been very involved in the care and healing of the young man. That, coupled with the usual opposite-gender inquisitiveness about the rituals of the other sex, made her intrigued.
Of course, she understood that the usual method was for one person, always a knight or monarch, to dub another. Preferably this was done in a public manner, such as this. However, in these uncertain times the need to show solid consensus also was important. Therefore she agreed with the concept of sharing responsibility by all the knights present participating.
Then immediately came the Human service of matrimony. She had seen this once or twice before, and understood it as well. However, she never failed to be stirred by the emotional response of the participants and watchers. Love knew no bounds. It was something beyond corporal approval for coupling. Instead, it really was a tacit recognition of a rite of passage, a moving beyond the selfish desires of the individual and promising to become part of a pair, a family, and ultimately a society. These were important steps, not to be taken lightly.
Essa and Guen had talked a little about this idea. Guen was determined to explore this further. Essa was not so sure, yet. As young as she was, she knew of the fires that are lit in the Human body at the physical coming of age. She had experienced those for nearly three years now, but there was a certain reticence within her about exploring too deeply. She just did not feel ready. In addition, there was the matter of a partner. With her busy life as a Companion to a Dragon, she had neither time or any real opportunity to pursue the matter. And if she was wont to? Well, the one person she felt drawn toward had expressed little interest.
Thus she was in a pensive mood as she began to watch the ceremony unfold. That quickly abated to one of mild longing as she observed the obvious love and bond that her friends Richard and Teressa shared. The idea that she might never find such a life-friend almost overwhelmed her. It took all her discipline to refrain from an outcry when she felt and heard the touch of Lady Sarah.
(Mind it not, Little One. There is much time for thee, and there is one who will be thine.)
(Hoo can ye ken tha',) she shot back. Then curiosity got the best of her. (Whom?)
(I may nae say, for if I did the kenning might change the event, and histaery. Nay, ye will ha'e tae abide and see.) The tenuous link dissolved before she could insist.
Being young, for a few seconds she was disgruntled. However, that soon gave way to speculation, and that to a sunny expectation that all would be well if she just bode her time with patience. She watched the rest of the ceremony with increased interest, carefully committing all the vows and answers to memory as only one trained by Dragons can do.
Ian and Ainsley made their way into the abbey at Melrose. Both were familiar with the structure as it was where they had been joined in matrimony merely eight months prior. Now they were here to witness two events.
First was the investiture of young Gryffudd Rhydderch. The lad had certainly earned his spurs from what Richard had told him about their adventures.
When all had taken their rightful seats in the nave of the abbey, a door to one side opened and through it Gryffudd was hustled. He was led to a point directly in the center of the transept. Here, there was a kneeling bar, which was well padded. The monk who escorted Gruffydd into the chancel bade him to kneel there, facing the throng which now nearly filled the place.
Once the lad had done so, all grew quite. Ian had to smile at the expressions tha chased themselves across Gruffydd's face The lad was still a bit confused as to what was going on. Perhaps he had not yet recovered fully from the knock on the head he had taken some four weeks earlier, but he would get lots of time to rest and would most likely get excellent care from his beloved Cassandra.
Now things began to happen.
The Earl of Dubh Glas rose and came forward. He related to the guests the tale of how Gruffydd Rhydderch had saved the life of Lady Christina, something that Rhydderch did not recall ever doing. As he did so, a look of astonishment crossed Gruffydd's face.
Then the Earl beckoned to the congregation, calling the names of a number of important people. Laird Paedar was one, and Sir Richard, Sir Kent, Sir Falkirk, and a number of other knights came forward. At last, in silence, quite a few stood in a circle surrounding him. Ian took his place in the growing circle. There was a singing whisper of steel as the Earl drew his sword, and that was repeated by the others. The voice of the Earl came in a low growl.
"Gruffydd Rhydderch, ye have been assessed by these men and foond tae be of merit. Therefaere, befaer aw' these assembled, we in concert and in unison dub thee knight. In the Name of the Faither, and of the Son, and of the Haely Spirit."
Finally, the earl declared "Rise, Sir Gruffydd, and take thy spurs and siward from thy laird!" Gruffydd struggled to his feet and found that Laird Paedar was holding out his own sword, hilt first. From its blade dangled a pair of fine steel spurs, those embellished with the seal of the House of Lee.
Once Gruffydd had taken his sword and sheathed it, he was heartily pummeled in congratulation by the men who surrounded him.
Finally, when all had taken his hand and nearly wrung it off the end of his arm, he was allowed to go and sit with Cassandra, who beamed at him.
Suddenly Abbot Goodfellow stepped forward and said, "If you are all done thumping poor Gruffydd Rhydderch nearly senseless again, I WOULD like to get to the main reason you are all here. Noo, my dear friends, if it please thee, can we prepare for the next ceremaeny? Please?
The noon time came and the residents of the Inn sat to table to enjoy a wedding feast. Yet there was no dancing, and none of the usual matter of winding up into a party mood. The couple had asked not, for they were leaving right after the meal. Most of the guests at the wedding had left for their homes directly from the Abbey. That cut the sheer numbers to something manageable.
Of course, even so, most did not know what else was planned for the remainder of the day. That was not because the couple did not want their inclusion. It was because they were not just going on a trip far away. They literally were going out of this, the mundane, world. Only those who knew of Teressa's background, and who knew of the existence of Avalon, would be with them for the longer celebration of their union.
Thus, about an hour after the meal began, Richard and Teressa rose and went to the upper floors. There they found that Teressa's room had been converted into a bridal suite, and Sir Richard's belongings now were in that room as well. They would return there very late four days hence. And this was somewhat odd, for they would be in Avalon for nearly three full days, and then would spend three days at the shieling that Richard had built off the road between the Inn and Melrose. How could this be? Because time moves differently in the land of the Fey.
after most of the guests had departed for their homes, and those staying at the inn had retired to their rooms for the night, certain folk were stirring once again.
Making their way down the back stairs, the ones usually used by the help at the inn, they gathered in the great room. The group was an unusual one, made up of both humans and dragons in human form.
Richard and Teressa, Sir Ian and Ainsley with his two children, Elizabeth Rose and Sean Robert were in the first group. Brighde was included in this group as well. Another group made up of Sir Kent, Lady Christina, Falkirk and Elspeth and little Isabel stood to one side. The last group was made up of Lady Bronwyn and her companion Tuathal*, who had arrived too late for the wedding. Also there were Lady Sarah and Lord Sylvanus and their companions Estressa and Guenhwyvar.
They had considered taking Gruffydd Rhydderch along at one point but since he was still recovering from his head wound they decided against it. Besides, being with his Cassandra would be good medicine for him as well. They had seen how the lad had felt as they got got further and further away from his home at 'The Lee' during their search for the Stone of Scone.
With all of them gathered together they left the inn and headed for the stables where they gathered their horses.
Fortunately the moon that night was both full and exceedingly bright as they departed. Slowly and carefully the group led their horses as they followed the narrow trail up the slopes of the Eildon Hills, until they reached the peak of the central and highest one. Here they found three stone Stele arranged in a triangle.
Handing the reins of her horse to Richard, Teressa walked thrice widdershins** around the stele, tapping the point of each one with the index finger of her left hand. Once she had done that, she turned and repeated the actions going in a Deiseil** or sun-wise direction this time tapping the stele with the index finger of her right hand.
Returning to the center of the three steles she muttered an enchantment in the elven tongue that only Richard could hear. Also in Elven she said to Richard "I hope that this works!"
Richard chuckled to himself.
Suddenly, a point of light appeared, head high to a tall man. That point of light lengthened into a line and the line opened up into a rectangle some eight feet wide by seven feet high. Teressa said, " Come my friends, move quickly! The portal shall remain open for only the amount of time I can hold it so. The longer it is open the harder it is to maintain! Go through as rapidly as you can!"
Richard immediately led both his horse and Teressa's through the opening. There seemed to be a tunnel of sorts that went on for some twenty yards or so. Upon exiting the tunnel, Richard emerged into the bright light of full morning. The sun was a double hands breadth above the horizon and the songs of birds filled the air. In a matter of moments all had exited the tunnel and stood around taking in the magnificent scenery. Standing not far away were two figures Richard knew quite well. Richard stepped forward and bowed politely to these two.
Then he said "Heruamin Niall, Arwenamin Miureall! Melloneamin, Cormamin lindua ele lle. Nae saian luume'!" (Milord Niall, Milady Muireall! My friends, my heart sings to see thee. It has been too long!" )
"Nonsense, " Niall replied with a laugh. "It has been but two weeks since you were last here!"
"Two weeks?" Richard replied with a tone of disbelief in his voice. It was then that Teressa said, remember my dear husband, time works much differently here in Avalon. We were in your realm for well over a year. Here, only two weeks or so have passed."
Richard thought for a moment then nodded. He turned to look at the other in the party and noticed that all except for the dragons were wearing the mithral medallions which protected them from the strange time distortions. The dragons needed no such protection.
"Come," said Niall, in a cheerful voice. "My sister and I will escort you to Ravenscrag castle."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 8 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Tuathal Scots Gaelic meaning left handed wise
**Before clocks were commonplace, the terms "sunwise" and "deiseil" from the Scottish Gaelic language and from the same root as the Latin "dexter" ("right") were used for clockwise. "Widdershins" or "withershins" (from Middle Low German "weddersinnes", "opposite course") was used for anticlockwise.
a slim figure virtually tumbled through the closing gate. "You were not about to leave me behind now, were you?" Beathan grinned at the assembled group standing on the grassy brae, surrounded by exotic flowers, while he dusted himself off.
Shaking hands with Niall, and bowing deeply to the Lady Muirall, the youngster looked acusingly at Elspeth, "Mama, why did you not wake me? You knew I was coming along."
With mock-seriousness, Elspeth addressed the young scape-grace, "Ye kenned that we were leaving, so it would aye hae served ye best to stay awake and ready, my dear. Since ye tend to spend every spare moment in Avalon, Your Da and I were nae worried about yer absence."
Abashed the young lad made his appologies to Sir Richard and Lady Teressa, as he fell in with the group. Seeing that the dragon lad was without a horse, while everyone else was mounted, Niall signalled for him to mount up behind him, as they moved toward the castle gleaming in the distance.
From the moment Cassandra took charge of Gruffydd Rhydderch holding his hand he had felt better. From her it was almost as if energy flowed to him positive energy.
The night had drained him again. The long night kneeling and praying for what he knew not. Then in the morning came sustenance and good things to drink to slake his thirst. That helped but not as much as the sight of his Cassandra in the crowd of people. Just the sight of her smile lifted his heart and he felt much better. For her and before her he could endure anything.
He had been astounded to discover that he was to be knighted. How was this possible he did not understand. Perhaps later his beloved Cassandra could explain it all to him. As the swords touched him a remarkable thing occurred.
He felt energy flowing. Something happened more to him than just the being touched on the shoulders and scalp by swords. He felt renewed invigorated assured and emboldened. So it was not just a performance and a title? Perhaps. Best to follow the advice of Father Simon and "Wait to see."
He did not recall much of the wedding of Richard and Teressa. His mind was too busy. Cassandra was by him her scent filling his senses. He could think of little else. He wanted her. Wanted to be married to her. Wanted to have her to be his wife. Wanted to love and cherish her for the rest of his life. Did she want that? A look into her upturned face and seeing the love shining in her eyes was all he needed to answer that question.
After his knighting and the wedding that followed Gruffydd Rhydderch turned to the Master of the Lee. He spoke from his heart.
"My Laird, ye and the others ha'e been maest kind tae me. Yet would I ask one more boone. Might I take Cassandra to wife? Have I thy permission?" Laird Paedar regarded him with what seemed to be a cold stare for many moments and the heart of Gruffydd Rhydderch nearly failed. Without Cassandra life would not be worth much? Only the positive energy that had flowed into him from the swords sustained him.
The answer was a nod. Just that. Oh and there! A brief sparkle in the eyes of his Laird.
and Teressa rushed through it just before it snapped shut. Perspiration dripped from her nose and chin, so strenuous was the task of holding the portal open for every one, especially Beathan, who had arrived late.
Wiping the moisture from her face she said, "Those of you who can, Fly to the castle. The rest of us, who are on horseback, will be along shortly."
Within moments Lady Bronwyn, Lady Sarah, Sylvanus and Beathan had transformed into their dragon selves. The first three left with their companions riding on their backs. Beathan flew off alone, as his companion was Lady Elspeth and she was with her child Isabel, and her husband, Falkirk.
Teressa mounted her horse and when the others were ready the group set off for Ravenscrag Castle, some five miles distant. Looking up, she could see the dragons circling high overhead. It appeared they were delaying their arrival at the castle so as to enter with everyone else.
She chuckled at the thought of four Dragons all landing at once just outside the castle walls. Her Uncle, Lord Aldueran would be wondering what was going on.
As they rode along, Teressa and Richard pulled abreast Niall and Muireall. Teressa said, "Cousins, Richard and I missed you at the ceremony this morn. Where were you? Did you not receive the invitations? They were sent by Faerie Dragon a good month past."
Essa rode with a feeling of glorious ease that she had not known in the mundane world. Here it did not matter if the flight of four Dragons was seen. No one would accuse her of being a Companion, or of aDragon being her familiar. Here there was no ecclesiastic Court awaiting any excuse to seize her, try her, and execute her "for the good of her soul", as the Mother Church would have it. Here she was free to ride, to thrill in being in the air and seeing the ground below and the other denizens that floated through the air.
For there were other such. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds in bright plumage rose to escort them. Insects, some as large as Essa's tiny hand, likewise took up a trailing position behind the small wedge of visitors.
She remembered the castle well, for it was here that she and Beathan had put on an aerobatic dance display that brought them both some critiques about propriety. She still harboured fond thoughts of the youngest of the Dragons, for she liked him well. However, she kept those carefully hidden, or at least so she thought. To Essa's surprise, they did not fly directly to Ravenscrag. When she snuck a private thought to her mistress, Saurantha responded that Niall had asked them to delay their approach until they all could enter at once.
In that earlier visit, hundreds of Dragons had come to Ravenscrag for the naming of the first Elf child in hundreds of years. There had been so many that it was impossible, even for so large a structure and even with the aid of Magick, to contain them all. Those who had been asked to enter had done so one at a time. Niall had decided to pull a small prank on his parents, by having four of them land and enter at once. This would be a great change from the usual manner and custom, and Essa knew it was his delight as a Prince of the Realm to upset the performance of custom.
Thus, the great Dragons (for even as young as was Beathan he still measured more than twenty feet in length in his Dragon form) loafed along, circling to stay over their Human and Elven friends. Beathan, not having a rider, even did some aerobatic stunts just because he could here. Though she never would have admitted to such, Essa held her breath at some of them. For instance, once he turned such a tight circle that, with a sudden snap of closure to his wings, he pushed his head through the circle of his own body, escaping tying himself in a knot by less than an instant. An Earthbound snake could not have followed his course through the air, even if it had possessed wings.
Of course, that display made her long to change into the form of the little ruby Dragon that was her pride and joy, to go and chase after him. However, even as she conceived that thought, she saw in her mind the negative head-shake of her mistress. Lightly chastised, she agreed. It would not have been a good idea, after all.
At last their traveling brethren on the ground reached the point where a very slight shimmer heralded the Magick shield that surrounded the castle. No one knew exactly how high that shield went or what shape it had in its upper reaches. All anyone really knew was that it was a threat to life if challenged by an unwelcome party. In the instant of the Humans and Elves penetrating it, the Dragons came together in a seeming ball and began to fall. It was not until they were about a man's height that they split apart again and spread out in cardinal directions to flair wings and land, still in their Dragon forms.
From the walls of the castle came the sound of a corporate indrawn breath, that followed by excited voices and applause as they came neatly to rest on the turf. Not one hair of the heads of the Companions was ruffled, nor was that of any of those already on the ground. For Essa, who had not experienced the landing of the Dragons at the naming ceremony from the perspective of the Dragons, it was exhilaration followed by panic, that followed by a huge sense of relief. Into her mind came the quiet voice of her mistress.
(Still you do not troost oos to ken hoo?) That was followed by the sense of gentle laughter. Yet she could not be abashed so easily.
('Tis nae a matter of troost, my Lady, buit rither of experience. Of coorse I troost thee. Yit, is it a different thing frae troost in the concept tae be aun of thaese dropping sae alarmingly frae the sky!)
Saurantha, recalling images of her own first time doing such a thing, agreed. (Aye, tha' it is.)
You know how I feel about human places of worship. They make me uneasy, as if someone is about to denounce me for what I am. I talked my sister out of attending. I hope you will forgive me and allow us to make the festivities here all the more enjoyable. I am happy for you to have found the man to love for the rest of his life." He kept from adding that her own life span would be far more lengthy than that of her new husband.
He rod along with the newly weds for quite a while before he joined Muireall, Elspeth and Falkirk as they neared Ravescraig. He laughed at the sight of little Isabel crowing with joy as she rode infront of Muireall on her unicorn steed.
When the Dragon boy tumbled through the portal and then began to banter with his mother and father, it was a moment of delight for Kent. Beathan sounded so like a norm Human child, yet Kent was well aware that he was not. Still, his bearing and demeanor were more than pretense. This gave Kent a fascinating glimpse into the idea that the shape of a person is not as important as the mind within that shape. Beathan was a child, though not Human. However, the problems and issues of being a child are universal, it seemed. He put a hand up to stroke his beard, hiding his smile and still enjoying the moment.
He watched as Niall kicked a foot out of a stirrup and then handed the lad upward to ride pillion behind him. As soon as the youngster was seated, they began the ride toward Ravenscrag, arched over its trefoil flow of falling water. Coming close, Kent simply could not understand how any race might have engineered such a marvel. Magick was powerful, indeed, but still one must account for the basics of support, and this place seemed to be impossible in that regard.
Most fundamentally, the sheer volume of the gigantic falls made it seem as though the great structure must be swept over the edge of the drop, its underpinnings undermined by the erosion of constantly-moving water. Then too, what kept that great cascade from breaking away the rock below the precipice and causing the whole face of the cliff to slide down? There were no answers, he knew. If anyone ever knew, that mind had gone on in antiquity and now was lost, even to those who dwelt in Avalon.
And the structure itself? It seemed to go up in airy lifts of tower and arch, none nearly strong enough to support the massive weight of the roof. That was particularly true of the great hall, where the columns inside were so thin that no material known to man could have support it at the height of that edifice.
His heart suddenly sang as they crossed the ethereal barricade outside the palace grounds. That was there to prevent any who bore ill will toward the inhabitants from even approaching the walls. The effect on it for those who were allowed entry was as if song had burst full-throated in one's brain, a paean of greeting that made a person's heart clutch in exaltation. It was as if something undefined had been missing in life all that life long, and suddenly found, as if beloved dear one had been missing, long sought, and finally found.
(He has done it again!) she wailed in her mind. (It is not fair!) She had been circumspect. She had left him alone. In fact, she had not seen him for at least a seven-day, having her maid keep her informed of his whereabouts and refusing to go near him for fear of raising his ire.
Of course, being the Queen's Envoy, she knew of the plans for Teressa's mating. The fact that her intended was a Human was a matter of considerable speculation and discussion in Ravenscrag. She also knew of the antipathy that Niall held for the Human Church, with its proscriptions against anything Fey and its deadly retributions for violation of those. Thus it did not surprise her when Niall and his sister did not leave Avalon on the day of the Human ceremony.
What did disconcert her was that he did not even ask if she would like to accompany him to the gate to receive the couple and their Human and Uroloki guests. More than disconcert her, it was a fair example of a slap in the face. And so she seethed.
Still, railing at Niall would do nothing good, and it might do an incredible amount of damage. Muireall had spoken to her on this, warning her somewhat sharply against confronting her brother. It seemed as if his sister was supportive of Eillea's interest in her brother, but she had made it quite plain that she would do nothing to interfere with Niall and his plans. Thus, although she railed at the unfairness of being ignored by Niall, she waited patiently at Ravenscrag for the welcoming party and the guests to return. Meanwhile she and her staff saw to the myriad of details involved in having such an important group of visitors.
And she was first on the walkway leading to the small parkland where the guests came through the protective spell and the Uroloki landed. She walked past Niall as if he was not there and extended a welcoming gesture to the new arrivals. In excellent Lallans, she greeted them all.
"Weelcoome tae thee aw'. Coome, enter, and find refreshment and ease oontil the evening meal. If ye wish tae refresh thysel's, ye ha'e buit tae ask." Her smile was warm, open, and genuine. With that, she slipped her left arm through Teressa's right one, and turned to lead them all into the castle.
the castle, the skies above burst forth with color. First came the brightly colored banners that were unfurled from the lofty points of the castle towers. Suddenly ribbons, swirls, an cascades of brilliant colors exploded high above then fell gently to earth. No loud explosions accompanied these colorful displays. Instead, the sounds of music echoed throughout the castle and its environs.
As they drew near to the gates, the four dragons who had remained aloft landed with an amazing display of aerial acrobatics that left all who saw it momentarily stunned. Swiftly turning into their human forms they joined the group as they made their way through the great gates of the castle.
Once within, the riders dismounted and handed their horses over to the care of the elven stable hands that took them away.
In an instant an elven female Richard recognized as Eillea darted forward and embraced Teressa. She kissed her cousin soundly on the cheeks and greeted her warmly. then Eillea turned to the group and said, ""Weelcoome tae thee aw'. Coome, enter, and find refreshment and ease oontil the evening meal. If ye wish tae refresh thysel's, ye ha'e buit tae ask." Her smile was warm, open, and genuine. With that, she slipped her left arm through Teressa's right one, and turned to lead them all into the castle.
Once inside Richard looked about. The interior of the castle was festooned with ribbons and banners of a thousand hues. The last time Richard had seen it decorated so was for the elven naming ceremony.
The group was led down a short hallway and into the main hall of the castle proper. At the far end was a raised dais, and on the dais were two thrones. Before the thrones stood two figures. One was dressed in White, Green and Silver. The other was dressed in a plainer garment of blue and white.
Teressa immediately knew who they were. Taking leave of Eillea, she took Richard by the hand and led him forward, almost at a run. As they trotted up the grand hall toward the dais and the thrones, the two figures smiled and began to descend the steps that were before them.
Richard tried to pull his hand away from Teressa and come to a stop, but she had him in a vice like grip.
Suddenly, the figure in blue and white spoke, his voice echoing in the high vaulted ceiling of the Great Hall. "Stop, Child." He said in the elven tongue, "There is no need to hurry. Your wedding to Richard is not for another two days!"
Teressa came to a halt and looked at the older man in front of her. For a moment she just stood there and gazed into his eyes of sparkling blue. Then she smiled broadly and said, in elven, "Heruamin Aldueran, Cormamin lindua ele lle!"
( Milord Aldueran, my heart sings to see thee!)
"As does mine, child." he replied in English.
Just then, a soft feminine cough sounded from her right. Turning, Teressa looked into the eyes of the woman standing there dressed in green, white and silver. There was a sparkle of irritation there that told Teressa she had erred. This was no common elven woman, but Morgana, the Elf Queen!
Dropping contritely to one knee in a very deep curtsy Teressa said "Cormamin lindua ele lle, Arwen Morgana. Nae saian luume' " (My heart sings to see thee, Lady Morgana. It has been too long.)
"Nonsense child" she replied in English "It has been only two short weeks of our time." For a moment the queen thought and then said, coolly, "Rise Teharissa. There is much to do before your wedding."
as Eillea swept past Niall. The look that she gave him would have frozen most men in their tracks, but Niall paid little attention to her, chatting amiably with Falkirk and Elspeth about little Isabel.
When she had greeted the group in Lallans, Richard said to her, "Lady Eillea, please, you are free to use either English or the speech of the Tel'Quessir. Most of us speak both." His infectious grin took the sting from his words.
Richard found himself being propelled forward along the main aisle of the elven great hall. It was not his own doing now or magic, but by the grip of Teressa, his betrothed. Nearly trotting forward he found himself suddenly standing before the two most powerful beings in the elven realm of Avalon, Queen Morgana and her Consort, Lord Aldueran.
Richard had long ago been given the title of Sha'Quessir, or 'Elf friend' for deeds he had performed both in battle and for the elves personally. The last of these was diving into swirling waters to rescue an elven lad who had fallen into the maelstrom and pulling him out alive.
Elves are blessed with exceeding long lives, some living well over a thousand years or more, but as a consequence their birth rate is extremely low, one child in twenty years being the norm. At the time, however there had been no children born to any of the elves for nearly one hundred years. When the next child was born, some two years after Richards feat, it was a time of great celebration.
Now that he stood before The Queen of Avalon, Richard waited until Morgana had bade Teressa 'Rise'. Then, he offered his greetings to her and then to Lord Aldueran.
Almost immediately a swarm of elven females descended on Teressa, whisking her away to begin her preparation for the upcoming wedding ceremony. Richard wondered if he would be next, but no one came for him, at least not immediately.
This message has been edited by Ted_Moffatt on May 17, 2012 12:54 PM
"Lady Eillea, please, you are free to use either English or the speech of the Tel'Quessir. Most of us speak both." His infectious grin took the sting from his words.
(Did I misspeak myself?) Eillea wondered for a brief instant. However, Richard's smile was genuine and true to the expression in his eyes. He meant neither reprimand nor judgement of her effort. Eillea relaxed. In truth, speaking in her own language would be easiest, while that of the English would be next. The tongue-twists of Lallans, or worse, of Gaelic, were very difficult. And Gaelic was partially a tonal language, where the slightest wrong-doing in the musical presentation of a word could convey a grave insult.
So too was the tongue of the Elves, and far more so, but she had been raised with that. Deciding that his suggestion was for discretion, and recalling Niall's instruction that in dealing with Humans "Discretion is the better part of valor," she lapsed back into the language with which she was best prepared.
As she did so, she noted that the elderly Human couple seemed not to understand her, so reluctantly she added a mental translation for their benefit. The heartfelt expressions of relief on their faces told her that they did not object to this minor invasion of their mental privacy.
She led her cousin inward, with Teressa taking Richard along. The rest followed. To Eillea's consternation but as no surprise, Falkirk, Elspeth, and their child brought up the rear with Niall. As they entered the Room of Thrones, they were greeted by Morgana and Aldueran. Although the latter spoke first to the halfling, Eillea was astounded when the girl responded to him without first acknowledging the presence of the Queen. However, before Eillea could do anything to repair the breech of etiquette, Morgana herself issued a reprimand when she cleared her throat.
Teressa's head snapped around as if it had been jerked. Dropping contritely to one knee in a very deep curtsy Teressa said "Cormamin lindua ele lle, Arwen Morgana. Nae saian luume'." (My heart sings to see thee, Lady Morgana. It has been too long.)
"Nonsense child" Morgana replied in English "It has been only two short weeks of our time." For a moment the Queen thought and then said, coolly, "Rise Teharissa. There is much to do before your wedding."
Then Richard offered his greetings, first to her and next to Lord Aldueran. Both responded with good will, with Morgana's eyes shifting to Teressa as if to say, There. See how it is done? Even this Human child knows better deportment! Eillea had to struggle to avoid chuckling aloud at Teressa's discomfort. Yet, even though public, the reprimand was a surprisingly gentle one.
The Queen offered no order for such, but almost immediately a swarm of Elven females descended on Teressa, whisking her away to begin her preparations for the upcoming wedding ceremony. Eillea was included in that group, for it was to be her responsibility to see to it that everything was coordinated properly. Niall already had upset that, by over-riding her express orders with his insistence that all the Dragons must land at once and enter at once, instead of in the order most junior to most senior, as custom demanded.
The young Elf shook her head as she followed her cousin through the hallways, and a small grin came to her lips. Niall! One day he just might poke his mother in the eye a bit too hard. She determined to be present for the Queen's judgement when that occurred. After all, if she truly cared for Niall, would she not speak on his behalf, even if her doing so also angered Morgana?
for some time, it was time for the dragons to land and enter Castle Ravenscrag. Rolling over onto one wingtip, Bronwyn plummeted from the sky like she had been shot. Astride her and holding on tightly with his legs sat Tuathal. He also had his arms wrapped around her neck, at least as well as he could do. Falling from nearly half a mile in the sky Lady Bronwyn built up a considerable amount of speed. Added to that, the fact that she was also performing a vertical roll as she fell, would have made it difficult for anyone to hang on, but Tuathal did so as if he were stuck there with glue or magick. The latter was probably much closer to the truth.
Suddenly, at the last possible moment, Bronwyn stretched out her wings to their full extent. As they caught the air, her descent slowed abruptly. One solid back-wing and she hovered in place some fifty feet from the ground. Stretching out her hind legs, she let them extend until they were barely a foot from the ground. She then folded her wings and dropped, her enormous thigh muscles absorbing the force of her landing.
In a moment she shrank in size from her full length of nearly one hundred and fifty feet to that of only one fifth that size. This allowed her companion Tuathal to dismount easily. Once he was on the ground, she shifted form once again. Compressing and compacting her body, she took on the form of a human woman. Her appearance was striking in the fact that she appeared to be a woman of some thirty to thirty-five years of age and in the best of health. Her long Copper-gold hair hung in a long plait down her back reaching to the backs of her calves. Her clothing seemed to be of the finest silks, which had been dyed in colors of dark gold, russet, and bronze. The ankle high boots she wore on her feet were of the softest leather and were of a matching russet color.
Taking Tuathals proffered arm, the two of them walked towards the entry of Castle Ravenscrag. As they entered, Bronwyn looked at the elven guard who stood there. She smiled at him and winked. He would have a tale to tell his friends back in the guard barracks later that day.
of Bronwyn, who had been his teacher for many months, Beathan copied her flight maneuvers to the best of his ability. Maybe not quite as elegant, but quite well enough to make him feel proud of his efforts. He was not yet a quarter of her size, but not hampered today by a rider, which gave him greater freedom of movement.
As he alit, a shimmer dissolved the dragon form and in its place stood what appeared to be a youngster of a dozen years of age. He looked around for those he considered his family and closest friends, Falkirk and Elspeth and the young Elf prince, Niall. But all seemed to be occupied for the time being. Teressa and Richard and the latter's father and grandfather and their spouses, each had things to do. It seemed that only Beathan was at odds of what to do next.
Looking toward the craggy, wooded hills, he debated if he might be able to steal away and hunt a few of those delicious wild boars he much favored. But dared he to offend Queen Morgana by slipping away from the festivities he was sure would seen be started?
Deep in his ruminations, Beathan forgot to keep his thoughts entirely shielded. Little glimmerings of his desire to be off a'hunting slipped out and caught in the active and watchful mind of the Queen's Envoy. concerned that he would lose himself in his interests and not be prepared in time for the wedding, she sought an instant way to restrain him.
Just at that moment, she caught movement in her peripheral vision, and discovered that it was the young Human girl Estressa she had seen. (Perfect,) she thought. (she can keep him occupied, if any can. And that will keep her occupied as well.) In flashing thoughts she conveyed her desires to the youngster. In reply, she heard laughter and saw a face that grinned and nodded agreement.
The lass took off toward Beathan, and engaged him in close conversation. Eillea saw him scowl, but then good breeding and training took over and he nodded and spoke a response to her suggestion that he escort her inside and for the day. And after all, what was such a drudge duty about that? Essa was comely, and had a good sense of humor. It was not quite as if she was baby-sitting the lad. Not exactly.
then, relieved of that issue, she refocused herself on their entry into the castle.
She followed her cousin through the hallways, and a small grin came to her lips. Niall! One day he just might poke his mother in the eye a bit too hard. Eillea determined to be present for the Queen's judgement when that occurred. After all, if the young Elf truly cared for Niall, would she not speak on his behalf, even if her doing so also angered Morgana?
Eillea knew the answer to that question.
However, she was left scant time to dwell on the subject. What required her attention now was what must be done to prepare Teharissa for her bonding. Even though she was a halfling, that Elven half was of Royal blood, so she must be presented at her best. Striding into the chambers into which the other female Elves had taken her, she walked around in front of the girl.
(Girl?) she thought to herself. (She is not so, no more than am I, in spite of what those who are long-lives might say. She is an edainme (a woman) grown, and she knows her own mind.) Then she spoke aloud to her cousin.
"Stand thee still. I want to look at thee. I mean no disrespect, but it is crucial that I see what might suit best for thy attire. We have little time, even with Magick, for there is much to do." Then she walked around the young woman, appraising her in her entirety. She already knew, of course, what her preferences were in attire. The question was not exactly what would look best, but how to make it (and her) look fresh and somehow different without violating the strictures about her appearance and ability to move.
A thought struck her as she considered, and she grinned at Teharissa as she faced her once more. She spoke of what amused her.
"Niall thinks he is alone in being tired of all the rigid formality and restraint on creativity that is not sanctioned by eons of experience. I also feel the urge to break the mold. Will ye be pleased if we do so with thy appearance?"
in being tired of all the rigid formality and restraint on creativity that is not sanctioned by eons of experience," Eillea said, determinedly. "I also feel the urge to break the mold. Will ye be pleased if we do so with thy appearance?"
Teressa turned and looked at her cousin for a moment, like she had grown Purple feathers. Then, slowly, what Eillea had said percolated through her brain and she smiled in comprehension.
For ages the elves had been hide-bound to and with tradition. Ceremonies which should have taken an hour or two, consumed most of a day, sometimes two days. Perhaps it was time to 'Break the Mold' so to speak.
"Only, Dearest Eillea, if you will help me as well.
Listen, cousin and hear me out. I have a few ideas of my own! This elven kingdom of Avalon has gotten a bit stale as of late. We need to shake things up a bit, starting with this wedding ceremony! I have no wish to wait at the altar-stone until the entire elven populace had made its way to the place of the wedding. You well know that that can take a good half day or better."
Eillea began to consider how she might change things such that they met the requirements of the event and still conveyed a fresh, different impression. This was problematic, for the strictures and form of the binding were very definite.
For one thing, the clothing required had to hide all of her but her face and hands, at least up to the time she began the formal vows of the binding. The last wedding had produced some minor grumblings about how the female had not adhered to that custom, having worn a dress that allowed her lower legs to show. More correctly, she recalled, the nessa edainme (young woman) in question had not just worn a dress of diaphonous material, she had worn one that came no further down than mid-calf.
Fine. The dress she now envisioned would hide Teressa. It would be just light enough to float in its movements like a breath of air, yet still be quite definitely present. But under that would be a gown of a different sort ...
As she explained what she envisioned, Teharissa's face grew first doubtful and then radiant. Her vigorous nod gave full acceptance of the plan. With the general design of the next day's garments out of the way, they began to consider what the bride-to-be might wear to the evening meal this night. As they conversed on the subject, the design of her attire began to take shape. This evening, she could be dressed in more normal attire. Therefore, Eillea proposed a gown that would show off her figure, give hints of what lay beneath it without being too revealing, and allow her ample freedom of movement if she cared to dance.
She created a simulacrum of the dress, adding in the colors she thought would best set off the youngster's brilliant green eyes and her ash-blond hair. The russet color for the evening gown had hints of silver in it.