An Ornthasian Wedding

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    Eloise de Amarth looked at herself in the mirror one last time. She had only a few hours till the ceremony and would have no other opportunity to make sure she looked her best. Today was her wedding day, and the first day of the rest of her life. She had arrived at Wyndham Castle yesterday evening, and though she had never been here before she had little time to explore and take in the sights. In fact, she had had little time since she had heard the news of her marriage arrangement, barely a month ago. Her betrothed, a knight from Corwyn, had arrived at Amarth Manor, and informed her that the church, on behalf of Alric had agreed that they be wed.

    Eloise had been a ward of The Nemara since her father died, years ago, though she had never met him. The church had arranged everything and taken care of her, including managing the Amarth estate, until such a time as Eloise could properly inherit it.

    She finished smoothing out her dress, and left the small guest bedroom that had been set aside for her. The wind caught her off guard for a second as she left the castle, and she stumbled a step. She cast a furtive look around, but luckily there was no one looking in her direction, the two guards were chatting with each other and everyone else would be in the chapel by now.

    Eloise swiftly made her way down to the chapel, and entered to find a mass of people she was mostly unfamiliar with. She couldn’t remember ever seeing so much silk in one place, nor smell so much perfume. As she stood, somewhat awkwardly in the entrance of the chapel, she spotted a couple people she recognized; Sir Ranulf, one of her father’s knights who was temporarily serving as the steward of the Amarth lands, was chatting with a few other knights in the colors of Corwyn in the corner, and Father Eustice, the priest who cared for Eloise since her fathers passing. Father Eustice had never been particularly warm to Eloise, but he had done his task with little complaint. Father Eustice was speaking to two other men, one another priest that seemed vaguely familiar to her, though she couldn’t place his name or title. The other man, clad in expensive purple silk, though somewhat simple in design, had his back to Eloise.

    Another priest approached them from behind, and as the man in purple turned to see who was approaching him, Eloise caught his gaze, the gaze of glowing blue eyes that, even for the brief moment, seemed to stare right through her.

    She felt her heart miss a beat. A Nemertingi, here at her wedding, she struggled to not react, but a wave of lightheadedness struck her and she left out a small gasp.

    Alric had only been half listening to his High Priest, Eleazar, speaking to the bride-to-be’s priest about the state of the Amarth family lands, when he felt someone coming up behind him. He turned to see who the newcomer was, briefly making eye contact with the soon to be bride, who looked like she might pass out. Alric briefly raised an eyebrow when he recognized the newcomer, Bishop Hagen of Gradapis. He was unaware one of Publius’ bishops would be attending the wedding. He quickly re-arranged his face and greeted Bishop Hagen.

    A few more pleasantries were exchanged before Hagen got to the point of why he was here.

    “Your grace, Publius had an episode, nearly a month ago now. He was speaking to our High Priest, when he suddenly fell unconscious. He didn't wake for a full day, and not until we were just about to send messages to the other Nemertingi for assistance. He told us he was fine, and not to speak of this to anyone, but we have been worried ever since. When we heard you would be traveling out this far east, the High Priest sent me to speak with you.

    Alric asks Bishop Hagen when this took place, and upon the answer replied,

    “There is nothing you need worry about, Hagen, I was aware of what happened, and it will not happen to Publius again.”

    Alric excused himself, and made his way over to the bride, Eloise. She was looking away from him as he approached, and he coughed lightly to announce himself.

    Eloise turned to see the origin of the noise, and nearly jumped when she saw The Nemara standing there.

    “Y-your grace!, I’m sorry I didn’t notice your approach!”

    “There’s no need to apologize, I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

    Eloise stammered that she was doing well and was very thankful for everything Alric had done for her. Alric spoke with her for a few minutes, before taking his leave to find his spot for the ceremony.

    Eloise spent the first part of the ceremony in a haze, going through the motions she had spent the last month rehearsing, listening to the lengthy droning of High Priest Eleazar as he went through the traditional marriage ceremony. She saw Alric in the front row, eyes glazed over, perhaps tired of all the pomp and circumstance. Soon enough, the vows were said, if perhaps a bit stiffly by both her and the groom.
    The world came into sharp focus, however, when Eleazar wrapped the golden ribbon around her wrist and her betrothed. Eloise then, for the first time, looked into his eyes, and as a flash of light around the fabric connecting them sealed their union, she felt the hope she had not allowed herself to feel in so long. Hope that she might not be so alone anymore.

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