Wedding of Rothnar ner'hhs'Tladin and Shhneri aar'Lanth (book)
The Wedding of Rothnar ner'hhs'Tladin and Shhneri aar'Lanth
by Sahhri ner'hhs'Tladin
I am called Sahhri ner'hhs'Tladin, wife to Nharthol, Speaker of Sraan Indakar these twenty-five years. I here retell the way of my first son's wedding to Shhneri aar'Lanth of Sraan Rasha, may Hav'roth shade them always.
It was, of course, a grand affair. Shhneri is the daughter of Rasha's First Shaman, equal in rank to my Rothnar, who at this time is second only to his father. Their union, therefore, bespoke an extravaganza of the first rank.
An army of ang'hhrantin -- clothweavers of the first rank, set exclusively to the creation of ceremonial material -- was first set to craft the traditional garments. Strange, perhaps, that the most luxurious items one will ever know may only be worn once! For, alas, to wear one's marriage garb after the day of joining brings terrible luck.
The Bride's Attire
Shhneri's overrobe, in tribute to her Sraan, was to be worked with a myriad of tiny flowers in the color of her parents' and her own personal crest. Silver clasps, worked into thunderbolts for Sraan Indakar, ran down from the left shoulder, throat to mid-thigh, in representation of her desire to join us. The violet underrobe, chastely without embroidery, was of the finest imported silk from Muspar'i.
Circling her forehead was a wreath of flowers -- miniature red roses (how daring! -- in my day she'd have been shamed to scale-curling! For my wedding I kept to truth's white chrysanthemum, amaranth for love, and only a single golden hibiscus for beauty -- a much more proper bride was I) for passion, white starflower for luck, tiny wood violets for homage to Hav'roth, baby's breath for her fertility -- and trailing from it a chain of braided silver. Twined 'round the chain was her principle item in the ceremony -- a silk ribbon banded in her personal colors of rose and gold.
From her waist, which was cinched with a belt of hammered gold flowers in various sizes, to the delicate wrapped calf's-leather of her white sandals, she wore a draping skirt, split for ease of movement, in heavy white silk brocade lined along split and hem with gold piping. For the ceremony she would walk proudly to the shaman, her twined ribbon chain held across her palms. Cascading lightly from her waist and ruffled over the belt was a mantle of silk so thin it seemed to be crafted from a cloud. This is the pel'hhsmur, the center of all she was and all she sought to offer. It trailed gracefully behind her, embroidered deeply with personal sigils she had stitched every day for a week before the ceremony, completely covering her tail as was proper. (While I write this text in Common to give this record its widest exposure, the full measure of the pel'hhsmur cannot be adequately expressed in this language -- if any.)
The Groom's Attire
A high-collared vest so thickly embroidered with billowing clouds that little of its silver-grey material could be discerned topped my son's billowing-sleeved shirt of white Muspar'i silk. Heavy silver bracelets clasped his wrists, their gleaming surfaces etched with flowers in tribute to the clan of his bride-to-be. Ah, but he was a vision -- great Hav'roth, my thanks to You be unending for such a son!
White silk trews, unmarked to show humility, draped gracefully down to his silvered sandals. A wide sash of dark grey brocaded silk hugged his waist, clasped with a ring of silver from which hung his scimitar, polished to within an inch of its life and resplendent in a newly made ivory scabbard, carved near to filigree with branching lightning.
Like the bride, my son wore flowers of his choosing -- silverbow for boldness, golden daffodils for nobility, a single luxurious orchid for loyalty, and white jasmine for unending love. The flowers were wrapped carefully about the carved ivory scabbard, his velvet ribbon of banded blue and silver twined 'round the scimitar's silver hilt, to be spread across his palms for the procession. I must say that when I saw this arrangement, tears came to my old eyes.
Lastly, across his shoulders draped an elegant cloak of royal blue silk, embroidered thickly with silver -- it, as with the bride's overrobe, was a unique work of art on its own.
The Wedding Party
Nharthol and I would join Shhneri's parents before the First Shaman of Sraan Indakar, dressed in our personal colors and those crests of our clans, to exchange gifts and blessings to express our goodwill toward the union of our children. For Shhneri's father, Nharthol had hand-crafted a beautiful Shaman's staff -- black ironwood inlaid with gold. Nharthol himself was presented with a flaring cloak, dramatic and imposing, in deep blue shot through with cloth-of-silver.
After the fathers exchanged their gifts and armclasps of goodwill, I stepped forth to offer my gift to Shhneri's mother. I am well aware that those of Sraan Rasha are inordinately fond of a peculiar form of jewelry often carved into flowers woven through with braided chain. For her I had a truly stunning tail drape of golden chain shaped to resemble the cascades of a river, interspersed with lilies. Each link was unique, and it was indeed very beautiful -- I hoped she would accept it, as a gift for the tail, of course, implies a certain closeness she would have a right to reject. Imagine my elation to find that she had prepared a similar gift for me! A tail drape of perfect larkspur, frozen in time and braided with blued silver. I did dearly wish this to be a close union, and the gifts boded well for such.
As I said, the ribbons played a great part in the ceremony itself. Although any who have witnessed a traditional S'Kra wedding ceremony before will know of the following, I will restate the way of it.
The Indakar First Shaman, a wise old S'Kra by the name of Hhkranis, bore her witness to the ceremony. She called forth my son and his bride, bid them stand together before her as they would in life, and asked for their hands. These they provided, and, following ritual, she draped across the two hands -- together, but not yet joined -- three ribbons: the first in deep brown velvet for Hav'roth, the second in fluid gold silk for Peri'el, the third in slick black satin for Ushnish. After the ribbons had been draped, she indicated that their hands should join, and they did so, clasping the ribbons between them. "Let the future be as now," said she, "with the strength of Hav'roth upholding you, entwining you, binding you."
With their opposite hands the two offered up their own ribbons, slipping them from their delicate chains. In turn, the two twined their ribbons around their clasped hands, speaking words they had chosen for just this moment. They did not, of course, bother endearing themselves nor offering flowery, profuse promises -- such is inherent in their presence itself, and need not be stated. To do so -- in public no less -- would bring much shame upon them and upon their sacred love. Merely, rather, they spoke of what had brought them together, and what was first in their minds this day.
It was then that Hhkranis offered her blessing. While this is not implicit in every ceremony, my son and his bride wished it so. Foods were prepared for the ceremonial ingestion of what aspects the two wished their union to achieve: the eyes of a rare fish for wisdom, water from a deep underground spring for newness, tzgaa'hhsigen -- often merely called the 'fruit of the earth', it is a crisp water- holding fruit, not over-sweet, with a thin reddish skin-- for divine approval, the heart of a desert stag for courage. This completed, the ceremony moved on.
Though all the clans may have their differences, from clan-taking rites to the simple rituals upon waking in the morning, we all adopt this aspect of the binding. Without these words, and a shaman to witness them, a Sraan will not accept a couple as married. They are simple, but powerful:
My life is yours, your death is mine, in Hav'roth's will for eternity.
True love between two S'Kra is one of the most powerful forces known to us, and as such is not discussed lightly or often. Khozh! -- Those thin- skinned races who bandy about their amorous affairs in song and daily prattling do not know what it truly is to feel this force upon one's very being. Perhaps I should pity them for this lack, but it is a grand irony indeed that they think our people cold.
Every clan accomplishes this in a different manner, and I can only retell the customs of Sraan Indakar -- I have, however, heard that T'Lar practices the barbaric custom of its Clan Speaker holding a knife over the tail of the S'Kra in question! They say that this is to establish trust, but for my part I could not say.
For Shhneri's clan-taking, Nharthol called forth the Indakar elders and they formed a semicircle around the young bride. First, Nharthol, placing aside his role as father of the groom, asked who brought forth the petitioner. Rothnar stepped forward into the circle with her and declared that he had.
Nhartol then asked who would accept her, and I stepped forth into the circle and placed my hand on her shoulder. "I will accept her," I said. Nharthol then asked who would turn her aside -- we did not expect that anyone would speak, but were nonetheless relieved when no one did. One objection from among the clan would bar her from being accepted into Indakar, now or ever.
Nhartol declared that Indakar would accept her, so then asked who would give her. Shhneri's parents stepped forward and nodded without speaking -- they would give their daughter to Sraan Indakar. Shhneri's father declared that he, as Shaman, would speak for Rasha in the giving, and Nhartol accepted this.
The elders then asked Shhneri a series of questions, one each. Would she accept the judgement of the elders and the Speaker of Sraan Indakar? Would she uphold the clan name and honor, in battle and in peace? Would she hold the children of Indakar as her own, and the elders as her parents?
In the end, Nharthol solemnly stepped to Shhneri and took her hand, lifting it palm up and placing a medallion engraved with the crest of Indakar in it. Closing her fingers over the top of the cold metal, he declared her sister, and they embraced. Tears shone in many eyes, and it was done.
A banquet began the celebration following my son's marriage. Prepared in their honor, it offered the finest examples of the couple's preferences in rare, exquisite delicacies: freshly prepared Indakar nectar, its flavor such to bloom on the tongue and shake the mind into revelry; a young yeehar roast spitted across a great bonfire and flavored with spices from around all Elanthia; delicate pokeke'pahamin, a multi-layered confection made from alternating spreads of fruit, the finest pokeke bread, and mild meats; smoked nehelyvhh fish, their tiny and delicious forms arrayed around a veritable mountain of luscious jungle fruits bartered from a T'Lar forager. It was grand indeed, but the best was yet to come.
Because my son and daughter-in-law were of equal rank, they were entitled to the rarest of performances: not one, but a pair of dancers of the first gamant'hhshhth-- the first house of sarhhtha-- being present for the ensuing celebration.
I must clarify. Sarhhtha dancing, being among our most cherished rituals, is -- with only one exception -- always appreciated with one's full attention upon a single dancer. To become distracted, or to attempt to split one's attention between two dancers, would be to insult the art itself. Traditionally, the family of the bride or groom which holds lower status in their clan carries the honor of providing the dancer. Now you may see the exception; my son and daughter-in-law, being equal in their clans, were permitted the coordinated performance of two dancers, one provided by each family.
Such a performance is rarely seen in the span of a single lifetime, and I would discredit it with my inferior account here. Know that it was a sight not to be forgotten -- and perhaps the tale shall be committed to text, another time.
This text I dedicate to my son, Rothnar, and my new daughter, Shhneri. May you come to all glory, my children.