I hung onto my temper with everything I had and took a deep breath. Gan had no idea I wanted this to be so good. He was just teasing me as if everything were normal. Ky wasn’t upset. She… and Fara both looked very happy. The dog, Bella, ran along side me, her tongue hanging out and even she was grinning.
Erl was there to escort us to the waiting mamoka. “Sers, Serinas.” It would all be fine, I told myself. They were all happy and the mamoka was beautifully turned out, as only Mil’s staff could do. Not only was the gigantic creature’s fur dyed in Arkan coloured stripes, its trappings were red with bronze mirrors. It had beads and mirrors braided into the fur around its enormous eyes. It reached out its trunk to sniff, then made a huffing, rumbling noise.
The mahu, dressed in the same red and gold as his charge, bowed and said “Serina… she… Tzitky---Fluffy...” Mil had gotten an enormous laugh when he’d announced her at his party, and re-named her since he couldn’t pronounce the full Lakan name. “...she ask for see Serina’s fan.”
The tips of her trunk, that looked like two darkly coloured fingers, waved at Ky’s fan, hanging from her wrist. “Oh...it is a she? She wants to eat my fan?”
The mahu laughed... “No, Serina... just play. She gentle.”
“Oh... well, I suppose.” Ky unclipped her fan from her wrist and held it out to the enormous beast, who actually hesitated before reaching and taking it from her hand. “She is very gentle.”
The mamoka... Fluffy... had astonishingly long eyelashes and she waved the fan before her face as gently as... well... as Ky. Who laughed delightedly. “Oh, you are very fashionable, Fluffy! Just the perfect dress for the Fortunate Fifty!”
“Excellent tailor, Serina!” Gan said, bowing to the mamoka. The fan paused and then the mamoka folded it shut, rapped Gan on the head with it as reprovingly as any aunty or granny and passed it back to Kyriala, who just giggled harder, as Fara and I just fell over. Even the mahu was grinning.
“She like Serina,” he said. “Ladder here.”
Fluffy sauntered through the forest, sunshine falling in bars through the cool green shade. The Marble Palace... my staff... had outdone themselves. The rock-fish in butter was melting but wasn’t mushy and didn’t fall apart off our eating picks.
The wines were perfect. The beef perfectly aged and succulent. I tasted everything but was so knotted I couldn’t swallow. Bella... who wouldn’t stay with the horses but insisted on being boosted up onto the mamoka’s platform with us... after Fluffy sniffed her... came over and thrust her nose in my lap as I sat on my cushion. I was stalling again.
Ky’s emerald and silver skirts puddled around her, with her hair, white and silver fan flashing. I took a deep breath and pulled out the ring surrepticiously, ignoring Gan who nudged Fara, both of them watching with smiling intent. Just wait, you two. I got up and, bracing myself against the swaying of the platform, gave her my most heartfelt bow, holding out the split ring to her.
“Most Radiant Serina... Kyriala Tathana Silfia Liren, would you gift me with the honour of being my beloved wife? Would you bless me with your marriage lock?”
My thanks to Vicky Borean for the photo of Ky's fan, above.