Before The Eyes Of The Goddess
After ending his shift, Jareth arrives back at Musa’s and his suite within the great spaceship Ambasatari expecting that his wife would be waiting for him with dinner on the table. He opens the door but is not greeted by Musa’s smiling face.
“Musa?” he calls without hearing a reply.
He checks the dining room and the kitchenette but does not find her there. Finally, he goes to their bedroom intending to get out of his work clothes to find Musa sitting on the bed with her head down. She lifts up her head and, although quiet now, her tear-streaked face shows that she had been crying.
“Musa, what’s the matter?” he asks gently while sitting on the bed beside her and wrapping his arm comfortingly about her shoulders. She remains quiet but rests her head against his shoulder and for a time the two just take in each other’s presence.
“Are you going to tell me now what’s happened?” he asks.
“Just homesickness, I guess,” replies his wife. “When we get back, my dad will be gone for sure, Melodia will have changed, Stella may well be gone and Mazal and any of her other children will be old and near the end of their days while I’ll only be a few years older than the day I left.”
“I left a lot behind too,” replies Jareth, holding Musa closer. “I understand your pain but this is part and parcel of deep space exploration. And no matter what, we still have each other.”
“Yes, I know that as well,” sighs Musa, “but I wish I had just a little more time to make things right before leaving. My dad and I didn’t part on the best of terms. He didn’t want me leaving but I told him I really had no choice then a lot of angry words passed between us. Then, even though we are married according to Alfean civil law, I wanted my marriage before the Eyes of the Goddess on Melodia with the sea and the singing whales making music in the background but there was no opportunity during all the rushing and panicking to get this voyage underway. It’s something else I’ll never have and that my dad and friends at home will never attend.”
“Tecna says that the ship will be orbiting Binos for at least another three months while she downloads data from the Great Database into the ship’s computers. That means we are still within instantaneous communications range of Melodia. Maybe you can call him and try to make reconciliations with him before we head into deep space,” Jareth tells her. “If you are not sure what to say to him, I’m sure Flora can offer you good advice.”
A few days later, Jareth is heading down the passageway towards Sky’s office when he passes Flora who stops him.
“Musa and I just had our discussion,” she begins once the two are in her office and the door closed.
“And how did it go?” he asks.
“Fine,” smiles Flora. “She’s having a holo-conference with her dad as we speak. I think everything is going to work out.”
Jareth makes a sigh of relief. “Glad to hear that.”
“I’m glad too but I think there is something else troubling her that she didn’t want to tell me,” nods Flora. “Do you know what that is?”
Jareth looks at Flora a little unsure if he should say anything.
“Look,” says Flora in a tone indicating that she has shifted into her official capacity as ship’s counsellor, “if there are marital problems between you, it is my duty to know about them and help you come up with solutions.”
“No, nothing like that,” he tells her, “it’s just that she’s upset about not having her marriage before the Eyes of the Goddess and is feeling depressed about it. I asked about but there appears to be no priest or priestess of any persuasion onboard to perform a marriage. A huge oversight if you ask me.”
Flora bites her lower lip now looking as if it’s her turn to be unsure about saying anything. “That’s not quite true,” she finally tells him. “There is one priestess aboard this ship.”
“Who?” asks Jareth, creasing his eyebrows in question.
“I’m a licenced Priestess of the Nature Sect on Lynphea,” she informs him. “I’m able to conduct marriages on Lynphea and I’m sure that extends to when I’m onboard a ship. I’ll have to check on that.”
“Why didn’t Bloom or Shego tell me about this when I asked them?” he asks.
“They didn’t know,” she tells him. “The only one to know on Alfea is Miss Faragonda because my application to be admitted to Alfea College was issued through the convent where I had my first and second degree training. I graduated from the convent as a priestess but when I arrived at Alfea College, I felt that I was not ready to take up the duties as a practicing priestess and making my status general knowledge would only hinder my studies. So, Miss Faragonda and I decided to remain silent about it until after my final year.”
“I can understand that,” replies Jareth.
“So, for the moment, keep quiet about this,” continues Flora. “I need to verify things with the convent on Lynphea first. If that goes well, I shall announce your banns of marriage before the Eyes of the Goddess to all. Come by my office this evening ship’s time and I should have an answer.”
That evening, Jareth is knocking excitedly on Flora’s office door. When she opens the door, she is immediately smiling at him.
“You can do it?” he asks.
“Yes,” replies Flora, beaming, “and with the blessings and offers of congratulations of the Sisterhood on Lynphea.”
The next morning, he makes a call to Solaria using Stella’s private number.
“Who is calling at this early hour?” demands the Solarian Princess, sleepily and grouchily with her hair in her face.
“It is Jareth,” he replies. “Sorry. I forgot the difference between ship’s time and the time on Solaria.”
“I guess it’s alright,” replies Stella, brushing the hair out of her face. “What might I do for you?”
“I want to commission you to make a dress for me,” he begins to explain.
“Strange,” grins Stella, “I never figured you to be the dress-wearing type.”
“It’s not for me!” protests Jareth. “It’s for Musa.”
“What’s the occasion?” asks Stella, frowning.
“It’s to be Musa’s wedding gown for our marriage before the Eyes of the Goddess,” explains Jareth then Stella’s eyes go wide and bright.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place for that, dawling,” smiles Stella excitedly.
The conversation goes on for another hour as they discuss the colour and style of the gown and also all the possible accessories to go along with it.
“I guess it now is a matter of payment,” says Jareth.
“Forget it,” grins Stella. “This is something I would do for Musa anyway. Congratulations again. I shall have the gown sent to you via freight transportus within the week.”
“Perfect,” smiles Jareth. “I’ll have Tecna get in touch with you to coordinate your attendance through holo-projection.”
The conversation ends moments before Musa enters their suite.
“What’s going on?” she asks, catching her husband’s guilty expression.
“Nothing at all,” he replies then kisses her and quickly makes his way to the door to be off to work.
“Well, ‘nothing at all’ doesn’t make anyone look like a cat with a secret,” thinks Musa, scratching her head.
“Not a problem,” says Tecna a few days later when the Winx and Quadrix secretly meet with Jareth in Flora’s office. “The double holo-projection will be a snap to set up. We could also use an additional month or two in orbit while the Great Computer crunches the data for temporal and dimensional drift. If we don’t need to broadcast the data to the ship in flight, then there is little chance of a Vailiynkee intercept that can give them a greater edge than what they may already have.”
“I can’t keep this a secret from Musa much longer,” smiles Jareth. “I plan to break the news to her when I present to her her gown during a romantic candlelight dinner. Princess Stella says I can expect it to arrive anytime now.”
“Once you have done that, I’ll announce your wedding to the ship,” smiles back Flora while the others look at her still grappling with the shock of learning that she is a Lynphean Priestess.
The next morning before leaving for work, Jareth tells Musa not to make dinner that evening but to make herself beautiful and dress in her finest and be prepared to be surprised. Musa looks at him with her eyebrows knit in confusion wanting to ask him what is going on but before she can open her mouth he is out the door and gone.
Jareth arrives back at their suite that evening to find Musa patiently waiting for him, showered, coiffed, anointed with exotic oils and dressed in her finest. Jareth has to pause for a moment in wonder that this beauty before him could actually be his wife and silently counts his blessings. He disappears for a moment but is soon back also cleaned up, shaved and in his finest.
“Come, my beloved,” says Jareth, offering Musa his arm. There’s an elevator trip to the topmost level of the ship then a stroll down a red carpet to the luxurious dining area. They are met by the host who leads them to a spacious, private chamber where a waiter and two servants are waiting to attend to them. Musa’s eyes are already burning with love lights as she is helped to her chair.
“I knew you would be starving before we got here,” smiles Jareth, “so I had the chef prepare some of your favourite flower petal salads beforehand.”
“And we have some of the finest sapphire wine to complement them,” smiles their waiter, showing Musa the bottle then pouring a small amount into her glass to sample.
“Wonderful,” nods Musa then the dinner continues filled with every delicacy imaginable. Not much is said while they eat but their eyes are pouring out their love for each other.
They are near the traditional end of the meal when Musa finds she can no longer hold back her curiosity. What is going on, Jareth?” she asks of him.
“There is someone else here who can explain better than I can,” he replies then nods to the waiter who opens a door to admit the Golden Faerie of the Sun and the Moon.
“Stella!” exclaims Musa about to rush over to her and enwrap her in an emotional hug.
“Whoa, Musa!” cries her golden-eyed friend. “I’m happy to see you again too but first things first.” She snaps her fingers and a long, white box appears in her hands which she carefully places onto Musa’s lap.
“What is it?” asks Musa.
“Something very special for a very special friend,” smiles Stella. “Open it and find out.”
Musa carefully removes the top. “A dress?” Then, suddenly realizing what kind of dress, she bursts into a flood of emotional tears. “I don’t believe it!”
“Believe it,” Stella reassures her. “But now I’d better take it before it gets stained.”
Again, the door opens then the remaining Winx, The Quadrix, Kim with Rufus on her shoulder, Wade then Zing and Piff file in, surrounding the table while clapping their hands and singing the traditional Meoldian song of celebration.
“There is a final dish to be served,” announces Kim, “that the Head Chef insists on presenting to you in person.”
The door is opened once more then Ron, pushing a small serving cart before him, enters the room.
“I understand that this is a traditional delicacy served to the bride and groom before their wedding,” says Ron. “I didn’t have all the usual ingredients to make it. I had to substitute with Downland plants and some of my own ingenuity but Flora and Bloom have assured me that I have created an exact replica of its appearance, texture and taste. I hope you will enjoy it.” Then he places a crystal bowl of the confection and spoons before each.
Musa sits for a long moment just staring at the bowl before her, still too emotionally overwhelmed. Finally, Bloom catches her attention and pantomimes eating a spoonful then rubbing her first stomach in delight.
Musa takes a cautious first spoonful but does not need to feign delight.
“The taste of this is exquisite beyond description,” she beams at him while Ron looks as if he’s been transported to chef’s heaven. Then, all depart leaving the young couple to finish their special evening quietly together.
That evening, Flora announces the couple’s banns of marriage before the Eyes of the Goddess to the ship and also to Melodia and Alfea which traditionally allowed a window of seven days for anyone to raise an objection. Musa spends two nail biting days expecting that there would be trouble from Riven. On the third day, they get word that Riven and Alessandra have published their own banns of marriage and she relaxes.
In the meantime, preparations are underway for the marriage ceremony. The ship’s media immediately picks up on the announcement and, because it is the first major social event on the Ambasatari, goes into a media frenzy. Musa and Jareth are bombarded by photographers, shipboard press and talk show hosts all wanting their slice of the story. Stella finally has a royal of royals Royal Highness “We are not amused,” hissy fit and sends them all packing.
Tecna is in the Ambasatari’s observatory with its transparent alfeanium window looking out to the stars and thinking that one could not be any closer to the Eyes of the Goddess than that. There is still the holo-projection from Melodia to set up and with planet-side assistance she is able to obtain a view where the guests on Melodia could be comfortably accommodated and the singing whales of Melodia could be seen arching and splashing in the background.
Ron, Stormy and two Downland assistants are preparing the food for the occasion. Stella and Icy occasionally pop in to check on the progress being made. A fight, however, erupts between Icy and Stormy when Icy objects to the way Ron is preparing some of the Witch dishes. Stormy starts screaming at Icy to stop treating her like a child and to trust her judgment. Ron finally steps in telling Icy that there will be a wide array of food and no one will be forcing her to eat what she doesn’t like then orders her out of his galley. Taken aback by Ron’s boldness, Icy stomps huffily out.
“Whoa!” exclaims Stormy once Icy has left. “That was brave but none too smart.”
“The galley is my turf,” replies Ron still peeved, “where Icy is not the boss of me.”
“But still,” begins Stormy, “she could…”
“Not very likely,” interrupts Ron. “Icy likes her haute cuisine too much to give me any trouble.”
Stella is having her own field day fitting and finishing Musa’s gown and, although Musa tells her at several points that the dress was perfect as is, Stella insists that improvements can be made and her friend will have her wedding dressed in no less than her finest creation. Finally, the gown reaches the point at which Stella deems it to be perfection.
The gown is white with a long back but with wing slits. The front is partially cut away to the mid-thighs. There is lace trim and along the sleeves and hems whereupon there are delicately stitched half and quarter notes in blue thread. The slippers are white silk with lace grieves up to the mid-thighs and again embellished with the same pattern of half and quarter notes. On her ears, Musa wears her favourite quarter note earrings in gold. Musa decided that during the wedding she wanted to deploy her wings so Stella makes her own decision that a train would be in the way. Instead, Flora creates for her a floral crown made of flowers representing all the seasons.
Within three days, the final preparations are complete, the rehearsals done, the bride in her gown and the groom in dress uniform stand ready. Flora, dressed in her priestess garment which features the Crest of the Nature Sect on Lynphea and also Stella, Tecna, Bloom and Spika dressed in their finest are assuring Musa that she looks absolutely ravishing and there is nothing to be nervous about. Likewise, Jareth is receiving the pre-wedding pep talk from Prince Sky and the Specialists. The musicians are ready, the shipboard media is making the final preparations to broadcast the wedding live throughout the Ambasatari and beyond. Flora and guests assemble in the observatory.
A trumpet blast announces to all that the marriage ceremony has started and all should be quiet and take their places. A double column of Specialists under the leadership of Prince Sky followed by the nine Cat Witch Guards led by Mieze, Kamala and Tora-ko file into the observatory. Sky gives the command and the two columns turn to face each other. A command from Mieze, and they draw their swords then with a clash of metal against metal form an archway. The musicians begin a stately wedding march as the couple passes through the archway which ends before Flora. Another command from Sky then all lower and sheath their swords then move back to allow all a clear view of Musa, Jareth and Flora.
Flora proclaims her intentions of marrying Musa and Jareth before the Eyes of the Goddess and issues the final challenge to any and all who may have and objection to speak now or forever hold their peace.
No objection forthcoming, Flora then guides Musa and Jareth in their vows to each other to love, honour, comfort and obey. Then, Flora, taking from the ceremonial table a band of ornamental cloth, bids the couple to take each other’s hand. Their hands are then ritually bound together with the cloth so that the Crest of Alfea falls over Musa’s arm and the Crest of Melodia falls over Jareth’s.
Bloom, with Stella, Tecna and Spika standing on one side and Stormy with Piff on her shoulder standing on the other, is deep in thought. “It’s wonderful that Stella could be here but some of us are still missing from this ceremony,” she’s thinking sadly. She is suddenly distracted by a glowing light forming above Musa and Jareth. Piff, sensing a familiar presence, is about to start squealing and crying out in delight. Ghostly images of Aisha in the company of an oriental woman form above the couple. Aisha has a finger against her lips indicating that Piff and all others who can see them should remain silent. Aisha and the woman spread out their hands in a blessing gesture above the couple then a golden light begins to fall from them settling over Musa and Jareth as a brilliant aura. Then, as they appeared, Bloom watches Aisha and Musa’s mother melt away into mist.
“Now for the words you have both been waiting for,” smiles Flora and Musa and Jareth take in their breath. “By the authority vested in me I pronounce you Musa and Jareth to be woman and man bound as one before the Eyes of the Goddess.” At that moment, the Singing Whales of Melodia launch themselves in song into to the air to crash back into the sea creating a heart-shaped arch of spray and, through the Ambasatari’s observatory window, two stars flash momentarily bright like a pair of eyes in the heavens.
Once again, the Specialists and the Cat Witch Guards take position then draw and cross their swords in an archway through which passes the couple, now married before the Eyes of the Goddess, into the adjacent banquet hall while the guest follow in loud and joyous celebration.