We put our hands back in the box and Sas handed me the wedding ring. I took a deep breath and began to recite, as if to my priest -- Selinae’s Answer to the God. Selinae help me.
1: “Oh, Thou, my beloved. Thou art white and pure and clean, and greater than ten thousand stars upon the veil of night. His head is as the most fine gold.” He really is that handsome. But I started to stutter a little when I continued on.
2: “His eyes are the eyes of dove by the river side, His skin as though washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: His lips are like lilies and sweet smelling myrrh.” I couldn't help looking at his eyes and skin and cheeks and lips as I said each of the words and I got more and more flustered and hot. I took a deep breath and froze. I can't say the next bit!
The Fenjitza prompted me, softly. I couldn't look at her, or at him. I looked across my beloved's shoulder at a bit of gilding and told myself this was like sparring anyone the first time.
3: “His hands are like gold rings set with beryl: His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold. This is My beloved, oh Arko.” That was the hardest part. This had only been said in modern Arkan, in public, once before when Shefenkas and Niku did it.
4: “Set Me as a seal upon Thy heart, oh beloved, and upon Thy arm, for love is stronger than our Summoning Messenger. Yeah, Thou art the Creator of Love and Thy left hand shall cradle My head and Thy right hand embrace Me.”
Kallijas was blushing and I was so hot... I had never heard the Great Songs quite like this before. I slid the ring onto his finger... even though with Kallijas it would have to be his right hand cradling my head and his left hand embracing me. I was blushing so hard I was amazed that my dress didn’t burst into flames.
5: “Who is this who comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke and roaring flame? Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, it is My Beloved who walks on pillars of fire.”
6: “My Beloved’s countenance shines upon me and His Eyes create new worlds. I raise My hand to him...” I took my hand from the box and so did he and I laid my ringed hand in his, before the Fenjitza and the Fenjitzas. “and We shall dance and sing a new life together. I am become One with my Beloved, and our new creation shall be like sunrise and reflecting Our Glory.”
Kallijas formally drew me forward, putting his arm around me, and I settled against him as we stepped up to the Wedding Gate wreathed in red and gold and white flowers and gold chains with pendant gemstones. Two priests stopped us and the dekinas demanded “Who would enter here?”
I could feel Kallijas’s chest expand, even with him being armoured as he prepared to give the traditional reply. “I, Regent Imperator of Arko, Kallijas Itrean, Aitzas and Laisa Itrean, Aitza, my bride.”
“The Imperator may not pass here without a declared Imperatrix!” the dekinas had a wonderfully horn-like voice and I pressed my lips together not to giggle.
The priests and priestesses came forward as Kallijas said “I declare Laisa, born Si Rusa, now Itrean, to be my Imperatrix, First among women!” They looped the chatelaine of the Empire around my waist, the heavy ring of jewelled keys swinging against my knees. I bowed my head to the anointing oil and all through Kall didn’t let me go.
We stepped through the Wedding arch and the crowd began cheering. I almost wanted to hide behind my fan but I was safe in Kallijas’s arm. We nodded and waved and waved, smiling. Kallijas let go my hand and caught up his comb, kissed the end of it and gently laid the transferred kiss onto my cheek.
The laefetas we stood on, to let us back down to the main floor, was solid, but I imagined it was shaking from the roar. His father would be waiting to help set me before Kallijas on his horse, for the wedding procession around the city. At least the wedding saddle didn’t have a high pommel.
I smiled into my fan, kissed the feathers and drew them daringly down the side of Kallijas’s face. And that was when Doof, trailing a chewed foot tether, flew in the great doors, circled around and around the Temple mixing the various ‘I love you’s,’ with profanity and squawking.