The rising sun sent golden spears raining through the emerald air of Lorla’thil. In a richly appointed room in carved from the earth beneath a great oak, Alsabe Silverthorn checked her appearance in a mirror. She wore a simple white robe, trimmed with hints of silver. Around her neck a silver chain supported an image of Elune in the form of the moon-disc, worked in soft blue chalcedony. The voluminous robe did a fair job of concealing her exceptionally curvy figure, as she’d intended. Her reading of human marriage customs indicated that no one present should outshine the bride. Her hair was plaited and bound modestly. She nodded at herself and picked up a small book she’d set to one side. She read over her lines, practicing in the mirror. These human ceremonies were apparently very theatrical, and she wanted to get it right. As she posed and made faces in the mirror, she heard a giggle come from behind her.
Turning, she frowned, saying, “Lilybeth! I’m trying to practice!”
Standing in the doorway, bouncing on her heels, her best friend grinned back and replied, “I know. It is fun to watch. You make funny faces.”
“I’m just trying to make it perfect!”
“Oh, stop, you’ve had the lines memorized for weeks now. You just like looking at yourself in the mirror.”
Glancing back at the mirror appreciatively, Alsabe answered, somewhat smugly, “Well, I am nice to look at.” At this a small pillow from one of the chairs launched itself across the room and bopped her in the face. She turned, ready to retaliate, but Lilybeth was already running up the stairs to the outside. Alsabe called out in a mock-serious shout, “You’ll pay for that when I don’t have to worry about the dress I’m wearing.” Shaking her head at the laughter drifting down, she added, “Make sure everyone is ready! We need to be in place by the time the sun hits the spiral!”
Not far away, in a tent set up near the ceremonial glade, Tindomiel sat on a low, padded stool. Her mother-by-choice, Kajeda, stood behind her, carefully arranging her hair in an elaborate plaited bun. As she wove it, she set it with sapphire, moonstone and lapis. She left a few locks to artfully curl around the younger woman’s slender neck, around which she clasped a finely worked silver necklace, formed of intricate scrollwork set with lapis polished to a gleam. As she worked, she smiled but still managed to look sad sometimes, even when admiring her handiwork.
“You’re thinking of Silea,” said Tindomiel, matter-of-factly.
Sighing again, Kajeda nodded, and replied, “I am. I’m sorry. I can’t help it sometimes.”
Meeting eyes in the mirror, Tindomiel shook her head, “No, Min’da, do not be sorry. I know you wish you could have done these things with her.” Thinking moment, she continued, “Ok, well, not this, our people don’t do this. But you know what I mean. “
“I do. Thank you for understanding. I like to imagine a version of these days in which she lives still, and you were sisters.”
“Me too, Min’da. Nothing would make me happier.” Sighing again, Kajeda began to fuss over the final touches, when a gentle cough sounded from the flap of the tent.
Looking up, she saw her Majordomo and former mate, Kalithil. Sarcastically, she said, “You’re wearing a finely made blue and gold robe with a hood. I am shocked.”
Arching an eyebrow imperiously, he replied, “If only you were shocked into silence.”
Cutting in, Tindomiel, barked, playfully, “Enough, you two! I’ll have Silannah douse you both from the moonwell!”
“She’d do it too,” said Kalithil.
“Well yes, she’d get to see me in a wet see-through dress, and she’d get to see you looking like a drowned rat,” countered Kajeda.
“I said stop! I swear you both act like children sometimes.”
Kajeda threw her hands in the air, saying “All right, all right, truce, I promise. But why is he here, anyway? Isn’t there some human rule about seeing the bride before the ceremony.”
“That’s for the groom, you old harpy. I am giving her away, if I could not see her I’d be tripping all the way to the…what do you call it…altar.”
“I have no problem with that at all,” replied Kajeda, sweetly. Tindomiel giggled in spite of herself, while Kajeda gave Kalithil a look that said, I win!
Rolling his eyes theatrically, Kalithil stated, “If you are quite through. It is almost time. The sun is rising.”
Tindomiel’s eyes go wide, and she stood, muttering, “I’m nervous. Why am I nervous?”
Kajeda touched her arm, saying, “From what I understand, that is supposed to be normal.” As she spoke she arranged and straightened Tindomiel’s flowing silver and blue bridal gown. Simple but rich, it cascaded from her shoulders in waves of sky blue, with a swath of silver across the midriff. Likewise the veil that lay across her brow. A blue sash tied it all together, the ends falling to near the ground.
Once Kajeda was satisfied with the state of Tindomiel’s gown, she straightened her own. Of similar style, but without the long flowing sleeves or the lengthy train, hers complimented Tindomiel’s without overshadowing it, just like their books on human customs has instructed. The other women, with one exception, were wearing the same. Sighing inwardly, she considered the groom’s party. All of this human nonsense had been done for Forosuul’s benefit, and yet he had seemed to take delight in playing fast and loose with the rules. Shaking her head, she motioned Tindomiel out into the glade.
A great tree stood near the ceremonial glade, casting its impressive shadow across the grassy spiral. Just out of site, behind the tree, Forosuul Silverthorn paced nervously. The fine black kilt he wore swished against the grass, the elaborate silver pattern worked into it swaying and distorting with his agitated steps. After a few minutes, a figure stepped from the shadows a few yards away, near the next stand of trees and motioned him over. He quickly obeyed.
Before him stood his oldest friend, Elian. In an odd move that both embraced and mocked the traditions of his human parents, she was also his best “man” on this days of days. True to form, she had done her homework and done it right. He grinned as he looked her over, dressed as she was in a traditional human male wedding garb; a black suit with a white shirt and a black cloth at the neck tied in a bow. Somehow it suited her better than it did most men.
Returning his scrutiny, she looked at him and said, “You are actually wearing that get-up?”
He looked down at himself, then said defensively, “This is traditional kaldorei formal wear.”
“You are shirtless.”
“Kaldorei men don’t need shirts. Our chests are a gift to the world.”
“I just did not think that when I attended your wedding, you’d be the one in a dress.”
“This is a full length kaldorei kilt. Our men have been wearing these since first we learned to wrap one thing around another thing.” Elian laughed, conceding defeat. Forosuul grew solemn and added, “Did you find her?”
Nodding, Elian called out, “Aye. Come on out, girlie.”
At her call a young kaldorei woman stepped from behind one of the trees. Like Forosuul, she was a demon hunter. She stood nervously, unsure of herself. Brushing a lock of violet hair from her face, she bowed perfunctorily to him.
Forosuul nodded, saying, “Do you have any idea why you are here?”
Quietly, she replied, “No.”
“The entire House is involved in the ceremony, and this is a dangerous time for us. You are on patrol.”
Niire stood, unsure of how to respond, finally she said, “What am I suppose to do?”
“You will patrol the forest around this glade. All day. Relentlessly. Nothing of the legion will get past you. And if your grandmother or any of her agents slip your watch…” He let his voice trail off, menacingly.
“What will you do?”
“I will kill them. Whether it be your grandmother or some lackey. And your time among the Silverthorn will be over. You will be alone. Do you understand?”
Nodding warily, Niire responded, “I do.”
Forosuul’s face softened slightly, an he added, “I want to trust you, Niire, truly. I don’t really like making threats. Help me get there.”
“I understand. I’ll keep the forest clear for you.”
“Excellent,” he said, with a genuine, warm smile. Then he turned and strode towards the ceremonial glade, with Elian hurrying behind him. Niire, for her part leapt into the trees. She cast her sight about, then launched herself into the air, gliding from bough to bough.
As the first ray of golden sunlight spilled over the canopy, the House of Silverthorn took its place on the spiral of the ceremonial glade. Forosuul stood, waiting patiently next to the runestone that marked the center. His silver-ornamented black kilt fell to the grass, the only thing he wore apart from a pair of black braces with red scrollwork that echoed his demon hunter tattoos. On the other side stood his daughter, Alsabe, her white robes gleaming in the sun’s rays. She smiled brightly at him, unable to contain her joy in what this day meant for her small family. Behind him, Elian stood, looking cocky and alert as always, reveling in the stares as everyone eyed her human garments. On the edge of the spiral, where the line of spring grass began, stood Lilybeth and Tellanon, waiting the signal to begin. Lilybeth was dressed in the brides colors, while Tellanon was arrayed similar to Forosuul himself, except his own accouterments were plain black. To one side stood Dæsin, wearing only a kilt of leaf green.
At a nod from Alsabe, Dæsin began to sing. Forosuul started, briefly surprised, as he had not known this was going to happen, but the voice was a strong and beautiful baritone that filled the glade, so he relaxed and nodded his approval.
As the singing filled the glade, Lilybeth began to walk the spiral. Raising her arms, she lightly chanted words of power. Arcane blossoms sprouted on her arms and hands, then fell, whirling about and paving the path with blue, silver and red blossoms. She grinned as she walked, pleased with her magical innovation to the ceremony. Behind her, Tellanon strode, careful to give her sufficient space. His eyes darted nervously as they turned the spiral. One could almost see him measuring and counting out the distance. Eventually they both made the center, and Lilybeth stepped aside, allowing him to approach Forosuul and present the rings. Forosuul took them solemnly, barely looking Tellanon in the eye. The two had met for the first time only a day ago, and no one yet knew how that meeting had gone. His job done, Tellanon crossed to the edge of the spiral, looking relieved.
Once Tellanon and Lilybeth had played their parts, Kajeda appeared at the head of the spiral. As always, she stood a full head and a half taller than anyone else present, her silver gown cascading down her lean form, her angular face fixed in a joyous, if slightly confused, smile. When she reached the center, she embraced Forosuul, and nodded regally to Elian, betraying only the slightest hint of consternation. Elian, being Elian, just grinned at her with every tooth in her head. Kajeda took her place then, awaiting her daughter.
From behind the trees Tindomiel emerged, her silver and blue gown flowing in the morning wind. A veil was draped over her hair, perfectly framing the lovely oval of her face. At her side walked Kalithil, his arm locked with hers, his usual blue and gold almost, but not quite, overshadowing Tindomiel’s finery. His face was set in a haughty expression of utter solemn gravity. Behind her, Silannah walked, making a vain effort to gather up the long train of Tindomiel’s dress, that it might not drag the forest floor. She marched around the spiral, coming ever closer to the man for whom she had spent decades waiting, he remained at the center of the spiral, fixed on his bride.
Back at the center, hearing a soft chuff from Elian, Kajeda glanced over, and saw something strange pass between Forosuul and his old friend. Had the occasion not been so solemn, Kajeda might have believed they were trying not to laugh. She dismissed the thought, and returned her attention to her daughter, slowly threading the spiral.
Kajeda instincts, however, and been correct. Surrounded by all the pomp and pageantry the House had been able to muster, he and Elian both strained not to laugh aloud. The night before, he had confessed to his old compatriot that the whole thing had gotten completely out of hand. He’d told Tindomiel that he wanted a human ceremony, something to honor the upbringing his adoptive parents had given him. She had run with it, conjuring up something that a noble house of Stormwind might envy. He was not angry about it, in fact he loved Tindomiel all the more for working so hard to give him what he wanted, but at the same time, the thought of how overwhelmed his mother would have been by all this, and how his father would just have thought it was ridiculous. And so on this most solemn of mornings, Elian chuffed and coughed into her hand, bending every shred of her self control into not laughing uproariously as Forosuul clenched his jaw mightily, not daring to look at Elian’s face lest they both lose it completely.
At last, Tindomiel reached the runestone. Kalithil, with all of the ceremony of a king presenting his heir – which in a way was even true; handed her over to Forosuul. Empty handed, Kalithil hesitated a moment, eyes darting around as if unsure what to do. Tindomiel leaned in and whispered quietly, gesturing to a spot on the edge of the spiral. He hurried over to take his place, followed by an amused sneer from Kajeda.
Forosuul took both of Tindomiel’s hands in his own. She turned, looking up at his ruined eyes, and for the two of them, the rest of it all fell away. For an eternal moment they gazed at one another, each not daring to believe the moment had finally come.
Clearing her throat, Alsabe broke the reverie of the two lovers. In a clear voice, she began to speak:
“We, the House of Silverthorn, are gathered here on this day in the lands from which our line was born, to witness the joining of two of our own. We stand in this ancient glade, dedicated to our beloved Elune, under her eternal sight, and bathed in the golden rays of the Holy Light. Though this marriage is not usually the way of our people, today we honor with it the memory of those that harbored our cousin, my father, Forosuul, in his infancy in a foreign land. Joining with him this day is our cousin Tindomiel, my mother, the most beloved Scion of our House and daughter to our Matriarch.” Reaching the end of her introduction, Alsabe grinned with joy and bounced on the balls of her feet, thrilled she had remembered the whole thing. From the edge of the spiral, a stifled squeak was heard from Lilybeth, her closest friend, who had been holding her breath the entire time.
Regaining her dignity slightly, Alsabe continued, “Forosuul, please speak your vows.”
Forosuul, feeling every eye on him, spoke quietly, his eyes locked with Tindomiel’s, “For a terribly long number of years, as my human parents would reckon it, I dwelled in darkness. And then I met you. You were my light, even if I did not know it. And then, in a blink, you were taken from me. If I thought my years in the wilderness were long before, I could not conceive of what awaited me. Ten millennia in the company of demons and madmen, I spent. Yet still you were my light. When finally I was free, you found me, by casting a message in a bottle. From that moment I vowed I would never lose you again. I would hold you until the end of my days, no matter how many they be. This I swear.” As he spoke the last words, he slipped the silver band Tellanon had given him on her finger. By the end of his vows, both Tindomiel and Alsabe were weeping. Each needed a moment to gather herself in order to go on.
“Tindomiel,” sniffle, “Please..um..your turn,” said Alsabe between wiping her eyes.
Taking a deep breath, Tindomiel spoke, “All of my life I was told my path. Those that sought to use me set my course, and allowed me no freedom to choose my own. And then I met you. You were my guide, and I knew it from the start. And then, in a moment, I was deceived, and thought you gone. If my years of bondage were long before, then my time of despair was worse. Years I spent surrounded by beasts pretending at being my family. And still you were my guide. When finally I broke free, I found you, by sending a letter into the darkness. From that moment I vowed I would never lose sight of you again. I would cleave to you until the end of my days. This I swear.” As she spoke these words, she slid the silver ring Tellanon had presented to them onto his finger. By the end of her vows, her veil had become sodden, and everyone could hear the hiss of tears, and see the wisp of steam, from Forosuul’s ruined eyes.
Alsabe, holding back tears with a great effort and speaking very quickly, declared, “By the Holy Light and the Love of Elune, I declare these two joined.”
As her final word rang out, a great cheer went up from the assembled House. Dæsin and Kalithil rushed forward, hoisting Forosuul onto their shoulders, while Silannah and Kajeda did the same for Tindomiel. Lifting the couple aloft, they all marched the spiral, whooping and cheering.
Thoroughly confused, Forosuul leaned over and in a combination whisper and shout, asked his bride, “What the fel are they doing?“
Tindomiel yelled back, “It’s from one of those books on human ceremonies! They lift the young people up on chairs and dance around with them!”
“That’s a totally different thing! It has nothing to do with a wedding!” At his words Tindomiel looked stricken, to which he hastily added, “It’s fun though, so who cares?” She beamed at him.
Borne on the shoulders of their family, the happy couple was taken to the inn, where the whole top floor had been reserved for them. They were pushed upstairs, with the family cheering and shouting at the top of its collective lungs, with Elian and Tellanon making inappropriate comments (They had a bet to see who could make Tindomiel blush). The other kaldorei in town watched the whole thing, thoroughly confused by the whole spectacle.
Finally upstairs, Forosuul sat on the corner of the bed, smiling at his new wife. “It finally happened,” he said.
“Yes. Yes it did. Are you all right?”
“I am. Maybe emotionally drained. Happy, though.”
“Not physically drained, I hope.”
Arching an eyebrow, he replied, “Not so far, why do you ask.”
Sweeping one leg over his, sitting on his lap, she said, “You have a lot more to do today. Come here, you,” and kissed him deeply.