Dawn had just broken. The faintest of light cast long streams and shadows on the shore of the pond. Blue and purple leaves poured down on long branches, creating a canopy over their heads. Across the pond, gleaming tents had been erected. A staging area for what was to come. A few carts could be seen leaving Embaari Village, headed down the hill towards them.
In a small silver tent, Lilybeth finished dressing Ælithil as Alsabe wove shimmering crystal beads into Lilybeth’s hair. She created a delicate crown, circling the top of Lilybeth’s head, the candlelight creating points of light, scattered on the canvas. She carefully adjusted the soft curls of azure that cascaded down her back.
“You’re fussing again, Sis. It’s beautiful. Leave it.” Lily’s bright eyes shone at Alsa. “I could wear a bag of canvas and today would still be perfect.”
“But this dress! It’s so stunning! I just want you to look your best,” Alsa offered. Lily laughed and Alsa raised her hands in surrender. She crossed to the small cradle where Kalimè lay sleeping. “They’ve grown so much already. It’s only been 3 months.”
“They have!” Her eyes went a little dull. “I wish…she could be here, could see them. See this. She would have loved all of it so much.” She gently caressed her son’s cheek. He cooed at her, his bright eyes shining. “What do you think, my little bull? Shall your father and I be joined for all time? Will you always know the love of us both?” She placed him beside his sister, his arms finding Kalimè almost immediately.
Alsa placed a hand on Lily’s arm. “She sees them. And she’s watching this today. All of it.” She reached up and touched the delicate pendant that hung from Lily’s neck. “She’s with you, always.”
Lily smiled. “You’re right. Elune knows she wouldn’t miss this for anything.” Looking out the break in the canvas, she smiled. “It’s almost time.”
In a vibrant blue tent, two men sat talking. The elder stood and moved before a mirror, making adjustments to his grand robe. As was Kalithil’s wont, the entirety was blues and golds, intricately embroidered. If one were to look carefully, they would find within the blue panels, a woven pattern of paler blue and purple. In the dim light of the tent, it was all but invisible.
“You know you aren’t supposed to upstage the bride, right?” Forosuul remarked with a chuckle.
“You haven’t seen her yet.” Kalithil responded with a smirk. “She spent weeks pouring over designs before…,” he chuckled, shaking his head. “Well, you’ll see.” He reached into a small pouch laying on the table. He drew out a small sickle. It was wrought in truesilver, the blade etched with designs reminiscent of ancient times. The grip was bound in blue leather. On the round pommel, the House crest raised on a field of cobalt. “Kajeda wanted us to follow an ancient tradition. The trolls used a dagger, so I thought this fitting. It is however, of my own design. If this is to be our tradition, then we will do it properly.”
“Your way, you mean.” Forosuul stated flatly.
Kalithil looked back at his grandson and smirked. “An improvement on the prior system.” He held the curved blade out to Forosuul. “Bring it to your wife. I will be out in a moment. It’s time.”
Forosuul nodded and pushed the tent flap aside. He crossed the field of blossoms to the shoreline and held the weapon out to Tindomiel. She turned it in her hands, smiling. “Had to make it himself.” She placed it carefully on the large round table beside her. She pushed her long silver hair behind her shoulder, her eyes filled with mirth.
“His ego would allow for nothing less.” Forosuul looked over everything. The table, covered with a deep blue cloth, was set with all of the items for the ceremony. A trellis had been set up over it, covered with fragrant blossoms. The back remained open to allow the perfect view of the pond. Looking back at his wife, he smiled. “That is the same shift you wore the day you became a Silverthorn.”
“You remember? I thought it fitting as it is the day she will become one.”
“I could hardly forget.” He brushed her cheek with his thumb. “I was so proud of you that day.” He leaned in a kissed her gently.
“Thank you.” She glance over at the tents. “It’s time. Will you gather everyone?”
The members of the House formed a circle around the space before the table. They all watched with anticipation. Alsabe stepped out of the silver tent, the twins in her arms. She walked slowly, smiling as she joined the others. Tindomiel reached over to the table and lifted up a small bell. She rang it twice and the tent flaps opened.
The bride and groom stepped out into the early morning light. They crossed towards each other, smiling. Kalithil held out his arm and Lilybeth took it. They turned and made their way around to the circle. As with Tindomiel and Forosuul’s wedding, Dæsin began to sing. His clear voice carried across the water as the morning light filled the air.
Lily’s gown sparked she walked. The gown left her shoulders bare, hugging her beautifully to her waist. The soft fabrics then fell away, creating a rich full skirt. On her left side, layers of blues and lavenders created petals, a blossom with a jeweled center. Three much larger teardrop shaped panels mimicked the shape of the ones above, coming down nearly to her feet. She moved like a cloud over the grass, the long train flowing behind her. As they approached the family, an opening was made so they might enter the circle. Kalithil walked her to the table and Tindomiel began:
“Kalithil Silverthorn and Lilybeth Starblossom have entered this circle to be wed before our House. Their love shall stand as a testament to each other, paving the way for future generations.” She inclined her head toward the twins. “May their love withstand the test of time.” She took up the sickle and held it on her palms before them. “Today begins a new tradition for our House. You are the first and it is my sincere hope, that this will continue from this day forward. Are you ready?”
“We are.” Kalithil replied. Lilybeth nodded, her smile bright. Kalithil looked at her, his eyes full of tenderness. She has never shied away from this idea. He thought to himself with a smile.
Forosuul stepped forward. He lifted the ceremonial weapon from his beloved’s hands. Turning first to Kalithil, he bowed. The elder Kaldorei bowed in return. Forosuul moved behind him and gathered the long silver hair together. As he raised the blade in place, his special vision picked up the faintest of glow in the arcane spectrum. With only the slightest amount of effort, he brought it through, the cut clean and even. He carefully placed the locks in his grandfather’s hands. He did the same to Lilybeth’s azure waves, giving his chosen daughter a kiss on the forehead when he was finished. Returning the dagger to his beloved, he took his place once again.
Tindomiel took the two lengths of hair and placed them on the table. “While I prepare this, please, speak your vows to one another.”
Kaltihil stood rigid, his face set. His jawline twitched slightly, but his eyes betrayed the emotion he was feeling. Taking a moment to collect himself, he finally spoke, his voice cracking ever-so-slightly, “For ages I wandered alone. Home was a foreign concept to me, and I did not know what I was lacking. And then one day, there you were. To think that this pandemonious would-be student would turn out to be the thing I had one sought for, never knowing I searched at all. You were my apprentice, yet you became my counsel. You showed me the world. I, who always thought he already knew it all.” At those words Kalithil cast a mock-warning glance to his assembled family, many of whom stifled laughter. “You accepted me, this broken old man, and put him back together, both the great and the wicked. You do not need my protection, but I offer it still, along with each and every piece of my soul. I will cleave to you, and watch over you, for all the days that come.” With that he fell silent, his eyes rimmed in red.
Lilybeth’s face was flush, tears rolling down her cheeks. Taking a moment to recover herself, she began. “For years I searched for a place to belong, never knowing my home was waiting for me. One blessed day you walked into my life. How could I have known that the teacher I sought, would become the love of my life? You have been my mentor, my guide, my teacher, and my life. You held me up when my pieces fell to the ground. You showed me myself, when I didn’t even know that I was missing. You taught me to value the words before speaking them. Though I fully admit, I still struggle with that one.” Chuckles erupted around them. She laughed, her eyes shimmering. “You took me, all of me, for who I am. My mistakes, my joy, my enthusiasm, my sorrow. I am yours. I cannot offer you perfection. In its place, I offer you all that I am. To you I shall hold, with all of my love, for the rest of my days.”
Tindomiel wiped her face off, tears the others had not seen still in her eyes. She gestured to the table. Carefully laid out were six sections of hair. She had divided them, two of each color and two blended together. They were now bound at the top with a thin silver band. “When you are ready, you may begin.”
The couple stepped forward and began to weave the braid together. As they did, Tindomiel spoke. “Each of you came to this relationship with your own abilities, weakness, and story. Alone, you are powerful and beautiful. Blended together, you become something more. Blending the hair as a symbol of your joining together forever in love. The colors may shift and blend in new ways as you weave. However, they can never again be separated. Two entwined in love, bound by commitment and fear, sadness and joy, by failure and victory, all of which brings strength to this union. Hold to one another through good times and bad, and watch as your power grows.”
Tindomiel picked up a bundle of cords and ribbons. “Each of these represent a member of our House. They are all the hopes of everyone present, for your new life together. As you weave this braid, do you tie all the desires, dreams, and happiness wished here in this place for your lives, as long as love shall last.”
She took up a strand from the pile. “As you plait a row, stop and look into each other’s eyes.” The couple doing so, she adds the first ribbon into the weave. With each question she added another and gestures for them to create another row.
“Will you cause each other pain?”
Together they say, “We May.”
“Is that your intent?”
“No.” They respond in unison.
“Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?”
“Will you share the other’s laughter and dreams? Together creating new realities and hopes?”
“Will you burden one another?”
“We may.” Kalithil responds.
“Is that the intent?”
Lilybeth says, “No.”
“Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?”
“Yes.” They reply. Kalithil gently squeezed Lily’s hand as the tears began to fill her eyes.
“Will you cause anger?”
Together they say “We May.”
“Is that your intent?”
With the final strand, Tindomiel covers their hands with her own. “Will you honor each other and seek to never give cause to break that trust?”
Tindomiel took up the end, binding the locks together in a knot. The length of the ribbons that dangled below, she wove around the end, sealing the braid and creating a small loop. “As the knot is tied, so are your lives now bound. May this braid weave your lives together in love.” She placed one end of the braid in Lily’s hands, the other in Kalithil’s. “This braid is a symbol of your love and loves together. May it hang in your home for as long as love shall last. The cords and ribbons are your family. May we always support your love.” She holds a clasp above them. “With this, I seal your bond.”
Kalithil looked into Lily’s eyes. She nodded and they brought the ends of the braid together. They had chosen to form their braid into a circle, representing love without end. Tindomiel placed the clasp over the two ends, pulling the loop through to create the hanger at the top. With a soft click, the piece was finished.
“What has been done before the Gods and this House, may no one dare sunder. By Elune’s grace, I declare these two wed.” Kalithil allowed the wreath to loop around his arm as he reached up and took Lily’s face in his hands. To the surprise of everyone present, he kissed her passionately and without hesitation. When they finished, she placed her forehead against his, smiling and giggling.
They turned their faces to the circle surrounding them. The members of the House rushed towards them. The couple was scooped up onto the shoulders of their loved ones and carried up to the village on a chorus of cheers. Kalithil burst out laughing suddenly. “Forosuul was correct. This is rather fun.”