A Tale of Crowns and Stars

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Bryllupet og Oksen Pt. 2

The sound of the wedding orchestra signaled the beginning of what felt like the end. Cyra felt her feet slowing down as she neared the French doors of the portico, stilling entirely when she observed Alorha and Wyndemere standing there patiently. Her guards and longtime friends were dressed in blue and gold finery, looking like two princes waiting for something mischievous to come along.

Alorha smiled widely at the bride-to-be, not daring to mask his delight - unlike Wyndemere.

“You look as if you were made of star shine.” Alorha gasped, nudging Wyndemere to say something equally as kind. However, the sterner twin just nodded, catching Cyra’s eyes as she looked over to him.

“Are you not happy for me?” She questioned, knowing that the answer might be one she would dislike.

“I am incredibly happy for you,” — Wyndemere began while tucking a stray strand of hair out of her face — “but if you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, I will come to get you. No questions asked.” The Princess smiled at Wyndemere’s kind words, registering the leather’s feel on her right leg.

“You are a wonderful guard and a loving friend, Wyndemere. I could not ask for more.”

Mirabel placed a bouquet of lilies into Cyra’s trembling hands and whispered a quick word of courage before walking out of the portico to join the massive crowd of wedding guests in the garden. The group was so large, they obscured the dais where Halewijn and Ivar stood, robbing her of the image of her husband.

The twins seemed to notice her fretful movements as she attempted to raise up on her tiptoes to see if Halewijn had even made it to the ceremony, and Alorha placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry; he looks like a king.”

The obvious reface to her husband-to-be relaxed Cyra, and she exhaled deeply, letting go of the tension in her neck. While she felt relieved, the feeling was temporary as she watched the ring bearer and the flower girl walk down the portico steps and onto the white runner that served as the aisle. The beginning of the end… Something whispered inside of her, but her nerves were too jittery to push the thought aside. Today, she would marry her second love and kill an ox. Tomorrow… but tomorrow…but tomorrow…

The flowers slipped from Cyra’s hands and tumbled onto the carpet of the foyer. No words came out of her mouth as she thought about the next day, her eyes focusing on some spot in the distance as her vision began to fuzz. The crowd’s sounds and the orchestra mixed into a cacophony of chatter, wonderings, voices, strings and Cyra couldn’t take it.

“If you’re not ready, you can always say so,” Wyndemere murmured beside her, holding her lilies in his hand. “I made a promise, and I meant it. Say the word, and I’ll get you out of here.”

The wedding procession continued on, leading up to the second most important person walking down the aisle towards the portico doors. Cyra couldn’t see him, but she could feel his ice-cold glare and stony presence looming behind her.

Omar did not speak to any of them as he proceeded down the steps in his all-white finery. He looked like a savior, spotless and free of sin or shame. But no one on the High Council believed this act he put on as he floated down the aisle, nodding at the gathered guests with a smirk on his face. The wolf in sheep’s clothing was just that: an imposter of a king. The High Court members followed in behind him, all taking their seats on the first row, right in front of the dais. With a burst of movement, dozens of doves were released into the wind, and Cyra knew her time was up; it was her turn to walk down the aisle.

The guests ooh’d and ahh’d at the doves flying in different directions, not noticing the bride standing at the portico doors with shaking hands and a sweaty forehead. Wyndemere finally completed his duties by untucking the veil, so it draped over her face, smiling at her through the lace.

“Put one foot in front of the other,” He advised, and Cyra nodded as he opened the portico doors, welcoming the warmth of the sun into the space. Cyra took four unsure steps and looked around, seeing unfamiliar faces through the woven fabric as a slow and heart-wrenching song began. The Song to Ghiana. The entire crowd stood suddenly, realizing the bride was about to make her grand entrance.

As Cyra walked down the steps, she remembered being annoyed at the whiny sounds of the violins and hurdy-gurdy playing in unison, but now she felt a deep longing and sadness grow in her belly. Identifying the emotions as fear and sorrow, Cyra pressed onward, faking a smile around the crowd and to her mother, who wiped a lone tear from her eye. Idria and Eres smiled brightly at Cyra, brimming with joy at the sight of her and Halewijn finally getting married.

Halewijn stood with his hands behind his back, broad-chested, and smiling in his gold and white attire at the white marble dais. In his left earlobe, a gold earring shone in the mid-morning sun, and the golden insignia necklace he wore at the engagement party sat upon his collarbone. The bright colors were in direct contrast with his brown skin, making him seem all the more regal and god-like. Cyra couldn’t help breaking into a smile when she beheld his image.

Ivar stood behind him, holding a book full of the vows and dressed in all white. He, too, smiled at Cyra, clutching the book to his chest in reverence. As Cyra stepped onto the platform, Halewijn extended a hand out to help her up, which tremendously eased her nerves. Mirabel appeared quickly to remove the lilies from her clutches and returned back to her spot in the crowd as an observer.

Finally, she stood next to the High Prince, who turned to face her with love in his eyes. The music came to a natural end, and the crowd sat back in their seats as one. Ivar opened the golden book at his chest, immediately beginning his speech.

“We have been called here by gods and men to witness the union between Halewijn, High Prince of Oskurga, and Cyra, Princess of the Eastern Court. Not only will we celebrate their union today, but we will celebrate the feast of Ostara, in remembrance of the goddess Ghiana’s requirement of humanity.” Halewijn took both of Cyra’s hands in his own, rubbing his fingers across her knuckles slowly.

“High Prince, if you would lift the veil, so you may look into your bride’s eyes as you recite the holy vows…” Ivar murmured. There was a pause between Halewijn’s action and Ivar’s words, but the hesitation didn’t last long. After letting go of her hands, Halewijn pulled the veil over Cyra’s head in one swift motion, revealing her face for everyone to see.

The crowd seemed to let go of a breath they didn’t realize they were holding and watched Halewijn place Cyra’s hands in his own again, this time wearing a grin that went from ear to ear. Would this be the last day she saw him this happy?

“High Prince Halewijn, please repeat after me: I, Halewijn, High Prince of Oskurga, take thee, Cyra, Princess of the Eastern Court to be my bride, before man and god.”

“I, Halewijn, High Prince of Oskurga, take thee, Cyra, Princess of the Eastern Court to be my bride… before man and god.” He recited, staring into Cyra’s eyes with a solemn expression.

“I will protect, provide for, and comfort you for all the days of your life.”

“I will protect, provide for, and comfort you for all the days of your life.” Halewijn squeezed her hands gently, letting her feel the slight tremble passing from his fingertips to hers.

“And you shall never want for anything, including my presence.” Halewijn’s eyes flicked to Ivar for a moment but then snapped back to Cyra’s just as quickly.

“And you shall never want for anything, including my presence.”

“Princess Cyra, please repeat after me: I, Cyra, Princess of the Eastern Court take thee, Halewijn, High Prince of the Oskurga to be my husband, before man and god.” Cyra inhaled shakily, finding the words falling from her mouth in rapid succession.

“I will protect, provide for, and comfort you for all the days of your life.”

“I will protect, provide for, and comfort you for all the days of your life.” Cyra rushed out, her hands now shaking a little worse than before. Her nerves were taking over as her bones quaked with fear. How could she protect Halewijn from Omar if they were going to fight to the death the very next day?

“And nothing will separate us, not even death.” Her mouth dried up. Ivar added vows to the script, but whether as a pointed jab at Omar or a prediction for the future, she couldn’t tell. A gust of wind snapped at her veil, rustling it around her face as she paused, trying to make the words come out of her mouth.

“And…” She glanced to her right, where the crowd looked on in earnest. “And nothing…” Then she looked to Halewijn, who began to frown, obviously deeply concerned.

Ivar placed a hand on Cyra’s shoulder, startling her. When she looked into the man’s blue eyes, she saw only encouragement and care, but the firm grip on her shoulder reminded her that she had to finish this. “And nothing will separate us, not even death.” She croaked.

“Let the couple now exchange the rings.” The ring-bearer appeared, holding the two rings on a silk pillow: one silver band and her sapphire ring. Halewijn took the sapphire ring first, gently sliding it onto Cyra’s ring finger. Cyra followed suit, and once she finished, Ivar closed the book in his hands with finality.

“By the power of the gods and the consent of man, let these two be joined in matrimony. Let these two become one under the common law of man and in the eyes of the heavens. Så være det."

"Så være det!” The crowd echoed, and Halewijn pulled Cyra into a deep kiss, much to the enjoyment of all present. The crowd’s excitement seemed to drown out the fear Cyra felt, and Halewijn’s embrace warmed her from the inside out.

When he finally pulled away, he nuzzled her nose tenderly, whispering,

“I love you, Cyra. I can’t imagine life without you.”

“I love you, too,” Cyra replied, seeing only his golden eyes and hearing only his voice despite the cacophony around them.

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