Rupert and I slowly made our way through the small trails that wove through the thick trees that surrounded the town. Rupert spoke as we rode on the back of the horses, some of the stories I would listen to and others I would tune out as I got lost in the beauty that surrounded me. He showed me some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen in the highlands. Places that were hidden and untouched from the outside world. Their beauty had grown and intensified over the years, so Rupert said, from being left untouched by the hands of humans. I had to agree as I looked around me. Tall, lush trees spread for miles as we made our way through the trails.
“This next place you’ll see is my favourite. Not many people know about it, which in some ways is a shame, but in other ways so nice.” He slowed to a stop and climbed off the back of his horse.
He tied the horse to a low, thick branch and came towards me. He reached out his hands, and I placed my hands on his shoulders while he gripped my hips. He helped lift me off the back of the horse before he turned and tied my horse next to his. I watched him as his long-calloused fingers tied the leads in a secure knot. He did everything with so much focus, his eyes never leaving the place his hands were. His eyebrows always frowned in concentration as he worked, sometimes he would bite his lower lip. It was these small little things that I found myself noticing him do over the last few days that helped me understand him more as a person.
“Follow me.” He said looking at me before he quickly disappeared behind a thick shrub.
I stood there for a moment, not sure if I wanted to follow him off the path. It took me a split second to make up my mind before I shrugged my shoulders and followed him into the bushes. I pushed my way through the branches, and I looked up as I pulled leaves from my hair. A thin path was in front of me. Not far ahead I saw Rupert stop and turn back to make sure I was still behind him.
“I’m coming; I’m coming,” I grumbled as I made my way up to him. “You’re not taking me somewhere to kill me, are you?” I smiled.
He frowned. “No, if I wanted to kill you, I would have when I caught you looking in on our ceremony.”
I tried to smile but failed as the memories of that night that felt like so long ago flashed behind my eyelids. I looked away from him and continued to walk down the slim path. I felt him take two quick strides to catch up to me. I shoved my hands in my sweater pockets and continued to keep my eyes straight ahead.
Soon we broke from underneath the tall, thick trees that cast a dark shadow over the ground. In front of me, I saw the sun shining high in the sky, casting a warm glow across the breathtaking scenery before me. We stood at the edge of a massive cliff. The brown and back rocks went out about twenty feet before they stopped and dropped. I looked out past the edge of the cliff. To the far right, a large hill stood, beautiful dark green trees stood stall and proud. This hill had many cliff edges, but unlike the cliff, we stood on, this one had a beautiful waterfall, and a flowing river. I could see the dark blue water flowing at a fast pace, and at some points turning into thick white rapids. My eyes left the beautiful hill and looked out past it. Rolling hills and valleys went as far as the eyes could see. Some of the hills were covered in long grasses, and beautiful wildflowers, while most were overrun by thick willow, maple, spruce and many other trees.
I stood there looking out, breath taken by the beauty of it all. I had no words to speak as I took in each detail of the landscape.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Rupert’s voice broke me from my thoughts.
I turned to look at him. I smiled before I nodded my head. “Yes. It’s by far the most beautiful thing you’ve shown me today.”
The shining light over Rupert’s shoulder caught my attention. “What’s that?” I asked as I stepped around him.
In the ground was a beautiful swirling pattern of silver, gold and black stones. It covered almost half of the surface of the ground towards the edge of the cliff. I looked at each rock. Some were large, the size of my hands, others were small like the button on a pair of jeans. As the sun-rays hit each stone, they sparkled, the light of each sparkle reflected across the ground, like dancing orbs flowing through the blades of grass.
“I’m not sure. It’s been here for a long time. Was here when I first discovered this place.” Rupert replied.
“That’s weird.” I frowned looking down at the strategically placed stones. I bent down and reached out to touch what looked like the smooth surface of the stone.
As I reached out, I watched as the sparkles on the stones began to dance around my hand as my fingers got closer. I frowned in confusion. I wiggled my fingers and felt nothing against my skin as each piece of glitter seemed to touch my hand. I touched the surface of the rocks, they were warm against my skin. I felt the warmth seep into my fingertips and slowly move up my arm. I watched the sparkles move up my arm as the warmth from the stones moved up my skin. Unable to pull away, there was nothing I could do as the magic seemed to take over my body.
My heart raced in my chest, as the warmth of the stones moved through my whole body. I moved my lips to try and speak out as my vision became warm and blurry. No sound passed through my lips, as I tried to call out for Rupert.
Behind my eyelids colour began to form, greens, blues, reds, and golds all quickly pooled into one pile, like paint all being pouring from the bottle into the same bowl. The colours slowly began to fade into shapes. Pictures quickly flashed before my eyes. I tried to focus, to reach out and make the pictures stand still, but everything was moving too fast. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I slowly felt my mind and body let go and disappear into the scenes that began to form in front of me.
The trees swayed as the light breeze flowed through the branches. Red and orange leaves fell from the branches and settled on the ground, mixing in with the brown ones that crunched under the feet of the young man and woman.
The young man chased after the woman. He wore black slacks, with a white shirt tucked into them. His sleeves were rolled to his elbows, and the first few buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned exposing some of the dark chest hair that covered his skin. His chest hair was a contrast to the wavy white-blond hair that sat at the top of his head.
He laughed and reached out to grab the hand of the woman that he was chasing. She was just as beautiful as he was. Her long red hair was tied back into a braid. White and soft pink flowers were twisted into a crown at the top of her head, and smaller flowers were placed delicately into her braid. She wore a long white dress and hugged each part of her tall, thin frame. The dress dove into a deep V in the back, exposing her shoulder blades as her hair moved from side to side as she ran. She turned to face him; her golden violet eyes shined with happiness, a soft pink ribbon was tied around her neck to add a simple touch to her plain white dress.
He pulled the woman into his arm; she smiled up at him. He bent down and softly placed a kiss to her ruby red lips. She pulled away, and slid her fingers between his and pulled him to the edge of the cliff where the coloured stones were placed.
The sun had begun to set casting a warm glow across the rolling hills, and cliffs. The trees that covered the hills were beautiful hues of red, yellow, and orange. The hills that usually have hundreds of thousands of wildflowers in the summer were bare. Green grass was the only colour that stood on those hills.
The man took his hands from hers and placed them on each side of her face. He gently tilted her head up so he could press his lips to hers once again.
“Ye are the most beautiful lass I have ever seen.” He whispered to her. She smiled in response. “Marry me.” He said.
She looked up at him; a gasp escaped her lips, her beautiful golden violet eyes grew wide.
“Merry me, right here.” He said. “I want to spend my life with ye. Ye are the only lass I want to grow old with.”
“Kal.” She whispered tears began to rim the bottom of her eyes. She locked her eyes with his; she waited a moment before the softest yes passed her lips.
“Yes.” She laughed, nodding her head.
The man pulled his knife that was secured to the side of his trousers. With his other hand, he pulled the pink ribbon from the women’s neck. He picked up the woman’s left hand, pulled the sleeves back from her wrists and placed the tip of the knife to her palm before quickly slicing the skin, deep enough to bleed. He quickly turned the knife to the palm of his left hand. He secured the knife back to his side before he took the woman’s hand once again. He pressed his bleeding palm against hers before he began to wrap the pink ribbon over their hands.
“I Kallum take ye Grace to be my wedded wife. I promise to love ye, and protect ye. My blood is yer blood. My skin is yer skin, my breath is yer breath. I take ye as my wife in the presence of God, as a promise to be by yer side until the end of our days. With this, I promise to protect our future kin, and I promise to guide them with love and show them the ways of our light.” With each word that Kallum spoke you could hear the emotion in his voice, the seriousness of each vow he made.
“I Grace take you Kallum to be my wedded husband.” Her voice came out strong, her English accent a surprise. “I promise to love you and protect you. My blood is your blood; my skin is your skin, my breath is your breath. I take you as my husband in the presence of God, as a promise to be by your side until the end of our days. With this, I promise to protect our future children. I promise to guide them with love and show them the ways of our light.”
There was a moment of silence before Kallum passed her one end of the ribbon while he held the other. They looked in each other’s eyes before they began to pull each end at the same time. As the ribbon began to loosen, they stepped closer to each other and sealed their vows with a kiss.
They stepped away from each other, tears softly trailing down their cheeks. They smiled with happiness before they quickly kissed again. Kallum pulled his shirt out from his pants and ripped the bottom. He grabbed Grace’s hand and tightly wrapped the cloth around the cut he had made earlier. He ripped more cloth from his shirt and tied up his hand as well.
“I love you.” She said to him, cradling her hand to her chest.
“I love ye too.” He pulled her into his chest and nuzzled his chin into the top of her red hair.
I gasped as I blinked my eyes open. Everything around me was blurry. I blinked as I tried to regain focus. I saw a pair of lavender eyes looking back at me. His eyes were wide with fear and concern. I looked down at myself to make sure I was okay. My black sweater and jeans were gone and replaced with the white dress that I had just seen. I went to push myself up, the pink ribbon that was wrapped around the red-haired woman’s hands was clutched in my own.
“Are you okay?” Rupert’s voice cut off my own.
“I...um...” I frowned down at myself in confusion. “W-Where are my clothes?”
Rupert’s eyes travelled down my body. “When you fell after touching the stones, you glowed, and your sweater was replaced with this dress, and the ribbon was wrapped around your hand and wrist.” He wrapped his hands around my arms and pulled me to my feet. I wobbled, unbalanced, I gripped his hands and looked down at myself once again. The ribbon sparkled in my hand and began to wrap itself around my hand and up Rupert’s arm. I jumped away, dropping the ribbon in the process. I stumbled back, I fell back to the ground, as I fell silver and gold glitter surrounded me, and the white dress disappeared. I looked up at Rupert, my body aching, my thoughts and emotions were a mess. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know what to think.
“I-I think we should go.” Rupert looked just as shaken as I did.
The words spilled out of my mouth before I had even realized what I had said. “Take me home.”