Angela, who had never been raised with a religion, felt a strange air of reverence surrounding the High Priestess. It was almost as if this elderly woman was privy to secrets the rest of the galaxy could only speculate on. She found herself bowing along with the rest of the ballroom, almost overwhelmed with a strange ache inside she didn’t understand. The High Priestess raised her hands over her head in a type of greeting and Angela gasped to see mehndi covering the exposed skin.
Angela’s mother had painted many henna tattoos on both Angela and herself before her death. She had expressed to Angela how important it was to never forget one’s roots, even if the country, or indeed the planet, you came from was no longer inhabited. Angela didn’t know what to think when she saw the familiar patterns covering the High Priestess’ hands. How could a planet across the galaxy from Earth have mehndi?
The High Priestess looked down towards Exalon and Angela, gesturing with her hand for them to join her on the dais. Exalon offered his arm to Angela and they carefully climbed the stairs, positioning themselves directly across from the High Priestess. She seemed to examine the both of them and when her eyes met Angela’s, she smiled, wrinkles showing around her mouth and eyes. When the Priestess turned back to face the ballroom, Angela felt a tear sliding down her cheek. She quickly brushed it away, overwhelmed with the feelings of love and compassion she had felt from the Priestess just from that one look. Angela didn’t understand any of this. Exalon took her hand, squeezing it.
“I have been asked here today to verify the Sonsara bond between Exalon and Angela,” the Priestess addressed the ballroom. Her voice was almost musical in quality, not at all loud, but it carried to every corner of the room. “Please, kneel,” the Priestess directed Angela and Exalon.
Short, padded stools were brought out and set in front of the Priestess, who gestured for Exalon and Angela to face the titled. Exalon helped Angela down, then kneeled himself. The High Priestess walked behind them and gently placed a hand on each of their heads. When her hand touched Angela, the Sonsara Pendant sent out glittering sparkles across the walls. The ballroom was deathly silent as everyone watched.
Angela couldn’t see what the High Priestess was doing behind them, but all of a sudden, every light in the ballroom went out, plunging the room into complete darkness and causing people to cry out. Then, as if lit from within, a light began to glow from Angela. She looked at Exalon and the same light was emanating from him, both growing stronger. Without thinking, acting on pure instinct, Angela held out her hand and Exalon took it.
As soon as their hands touched, a brilliant flash of light lit the ballroom, causing everyone to gasp. Then, Angela felt something begin to flow through her. It was almost as if the three of them, Angela, Exalon, and the High Priestess, were connected and energy was flowing in waves through all of them.
She felt love; the deep, passionate, personal love one feels for their partner. She felt peace and safety; the knowledge that with Exalon by her side, she would never be alone. And Angela felt hope. Hope not just for herself and her future, but for her life with Exalon and the family they would build. Hope for the people in the ballroom, who had all fallen to their knees without her noticing. Hope for all the people of Axion, who she would one day help Exalon rule over. And hope for the galaxy: for the species who didn’t have a voice yet, but Angela now knew it would begin with hers and go forth across all the planets. For all those living and those yet to come, Angela had hope.
The light began to fade from Exalon and Angela as the lights in the ballroom slowly reappeared. The High Priestess removed her hands from their heads.
“Exalon and Angela are Fated Sonsaras,” the High Priestess announced, sounding pleased. “As we all have witnessed, and as you all have felt within yourselves, their bond is true, deep, and everlasting. We are truly blessed to have Sonsaras as our future leaders, not just on Axion, but across the galaxy. Angela, if you please.”
The High Priestess held her hand down to a kneeling Angela, who took it and stood, staring in awe at the older woman. The High Priestess brushed a lock of Angela’s hair behind her ear, a move so maternal it brought tears to Angela’s eyes. She then led Angela to the front of the dais, holding her hand aloft as if presenting her to the still kneeling audience.
“We are especially blessed to have Angela, a human from the planet Earth, as the future Queen of Axion and leader in the fight for equal rights across the galaxy. The people of Axion traveled to Earth many millennia ago.”
Gasps rang out across the ballroom and Angela stared at the High Priestess in shock.
“Humans are our descendants, as they are the descendants from many other species from their, and other, planets. It is our responsibility to care for our children and nurture them, then let them leave us to thrive on their own, hoping they will one day find their way back to us. Angela is the first of our children to return home, but she will not be the last to make this journey. All of the alien species are linked by the Fates and we must learn to respect and love one another.” The High Priestess turned.
“Exalon.” She held out her other hand to him, as he was also still on his knees. He rose and took it, his eyes wide. The High Priestess turned back to the kneeling crowd in the ballroom.
“This bond is between equals. Sonsaras have nearly disappeared because people are no longer willing to look for their fated mate. It is my dearest prayer that Exalon and Angela’s bond will allow others to freely seek their Sonsara, looking not at a title or a species, but at the person the universe has destined for you. No bond is stronger and not even the Fates could separate them.”
The High Priestess gently lowered Angela and Exalon’s hands and brought them together, resting her own mehndi covered hands over theirs.
“I bless this Sonsara bond by the will of the Fates and by my position as High Priestess within the Temple of the Fates. Your path through this life will not always be an easy one, but together you will overcome every obstacle.”
The guests in the ballroom stood as one, seemingly unaware they had done so, and they all said together, “May the Fates bless your union and may your bond lead us into a brighter future”. The Sonsara Pendant threw off a glittering cascade of rainbows across the watching crowd. The High Priestess removed her hands from Exalon and Angela’s and it was as if the strange spell over everyone in the ballroom was broken. They all looked around at each other, confused, some visibly upset, while others looked almost joyful. As everyone began talking, the High Priestess leaned down to speak in Angela’s ear.
“We learned mehndi from your people. It is now a symbol of the Fates, but I have a feeling the truth about it, that it came from your direct ancestors on Earth, will quickly spread across Axion and then the galaxy.”
Angela stared at the High Priestess in shock, then began to smile.
“You’re going to enjoy the chaos you’ve just unleashed, aren’t you?” Angela asked her.
Exalon stared at Angela, seemingly horrified she would speak to a Priestess of the Temple of the Fates like that, but the High Priestess threw back her head and laughed. Those standing near the front of the dais gasped when they saw it, as did Queen Axala and Maya, who had joined them.
“Of course I am, my dear,” the High Priestess said with a twinkle in her eye. “We priestesses have waited quite a long time for you. And now it’s finally time for us to leave the Temples and cause as much chaos as possible.”
Angela laughed as the royals stared at the two of them in shock. Then, in an impulsive move that even surprised her, Angela leaned forward and kissed the wrinkled cheek of the High Priestess.
“Thank you,” Angela said sincerely. “For everything. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting your Temple often for guidance.”
“Just as it should be, my dear,” the High Priestess said, gently cradling Angela’s cheek for a moment. She smiled, then turned to the Queen and gave a respectful head nod. Queen Axala bowed to her, followed quickly by Maya and Exalon. Then the Priestess was gone, leaving just Angela, Exalon, Maya, and the Queen on the dais.
“Well, Mother?” Exalon asked, drawing Angela into his arms. “What now?”