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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 39: Kondor 185
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Brown 207
As Kondor stepped into the throne room where the ceremony was to be held, he was wearing his new robe, what they called a thobe. Most men present wore these, but most of them were off-white or eggshell, what you would probably call white. His had been specially made for the wedding, and was red, embroidered with strands of gold and silver, and secured with a bright yellow rope belt. This made him uncomfortable enough that he wore his boxers underneath. He expected that after the wedding he would pack this to be the most expensive bathrobe imaginable.
The room was stunning. Decorators had covered the walls with brightly colored drapes in a full spectrum. Some of them tickled his brain a bit, as his normal eye and his cybereye couldn’t quite agree on exactly what color they were. The disordered rainbow was so overwhelming in the sunlight from the upper windows that he was momentarily disoriented, so he stood surveying the scene.
The room was filled with people. Kondor thought he would be surprised if he knew twenty of them, but then that wasn’t really fair because he’d met quite a few people he wouldn’t have said he knew but who would have said they knew him. He was, after all, something of a celebrity. These people had been invited to a celebrity wedding--in fact, something close to a royal celebrity wedding, as the bride was a relative of the Caliph and it was being held in the palace.
Wanting to get it right, he had gone over the ceremony a few times with advisors. He had of course attended Derek’s wedding, but hadn’t paid that much attention to it. The Caliph, who would be officiating, was seated on the throne on the dais in his royal purple robe, Leah’s brother Mohammed was already standing up front, as was Zeke, perhaps ten feet apart and each next to a lit candle on a stand, and his immediate job was to walk up near the dais between the two, turn toward the entrance, and wait.
The wait was not long. Leah entered. She was radiant. It was immediately apparent that no one else in the room was actually wearing white; her linen thobe had the look of having been bleached to a brilliance not normally seen in the fabrics worn in this world. It, too, was laced with gold and silver embroidery, and the sash which secured it was a bright blue braided together with an equally bright red. She paused a moment, spotted Kondor up front and smiled beautifully, then processed to the front neither swiftly nor lazily, but with purpose, Kondor’s eyes following her until she reached him. She positioned herself between him and her brother, faced him, and then they both turned toward the dais standing side by side. They were about ten feet from the dais itself, and there was another candle, this one unlit, on a stand by its edge.
The crowd quieted as the Caliph arose and made his way down the few steps off the dais, then came and stood beside the candle.
“We have come,” he began, “to mark and honor a union between two of our own. Thrice-honored hero of the realm Captain Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor, and Amira Leah of the Southwest Amirate of the Twin Rivers Caliphate, are to be joined, wedded to each other.”
He paused and surveyed the room. Kondor wondered whether he was looking for a reaction, but none came.
“Would you please bring your candles.”
At this point Zeke removed the candle from its stand and handed it to Kondor; Mohammed did the same for Leah. They stepped forward together until they were adjacent to the third candle.
“To this point, you have each had your own lives, as flames burning separately in the world. Today, those flames become united in a single life.” Following the instructions he had received, Kondor tilted his candle to meet Leah’s at the wick of the unlit candle, and held it there until that candle was burning, then withdrew it.
“Your separate lives now come to an end.” As the Caliph paused, Kondor and Leah each extinguished their individual candles with a breath, and handed them to those waiting alongside them. They stepped back to their original positions, and the Caliph came in front of them. From somewhere in his robe he produced a cord, golden in color with gold chains woven through it.
“As this cord binds you together,” he said, and they each extended an arm, he his left, she her right, for him to wrap together in the rope, “so your lives are now forever linked.
“Thrice-honored hero of the realm Captain Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor, do you here promise to love and protect Amira Leah of the Southwest Amirate of the Twin Rivers Caliphate for the rest of your lives?”
It struck him that that was an unintentionally appropriate way to put it, and he smiled as he answered, “I promise.”
The Caliph turned to the bride. “Amira Leah of the Southwest Amirate of the Twin Rivers Caliphate, do you here promise to love and serve thrice-honored hero of the realm Captain Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor for the rest of your lives?”
She also smiled, although Kondor doubted she got the joke. “I promise,” she said.
“Let it hence be known throughout our lands that thrice-honored hero of the realm Captain Doctor Joseph Wade Kondor and Amira Leah of the Southwest Amirate of the Twin Rivers Caliphate have been brought together in this sacred union, not to be separated by anything but death itself.” He removed the rope from their arms, and paused.
“I understand that there is an extra part of this ceremony, something from the traditions of Doctor Kondor’s homeland. Do you have them?”
“Oh!” Zeke exclaimed. “Oh, yeah, here they are,” and from his pocket he pulled two rings and handed them to the Caliph, who in turn examined them to determine which was which. They were gold bands decorated with chips of emerald and ruby from Kondor’s accumulated treasure, and the smaller was handed to him. Taking her hand, he slipped the ring on what he had always called the ring finger of her left hand.
“With this ring, I pledge myself to you.”
The Caliph then handed the larger ring to her, and she took Kondor’s hand and slid the ring on his finger with the same words, “With this ring, I pledge myself to you.”
“You,” the Caliph now said to the crowd, “are all witnesses. I declare this union established.”
The crowd apparently knew that was the conclusion of the ceremony. At that moment servants started bringing in plates of food and setting them on side buffet tables, and people started heading that direction. Kondor turned toward Leah.
“Well, Missus Kondor,” he said, “I understand that there are cushions awaiting us on the dais, and that servants are going to bring us food and drink, and that we are not permitted to leave the room until this candle burns down.”
“Yes,” she said. “That should take about two hours. I think it’s traditional for the groom to become sufficiently intoxicated in that time that he loses his fears and inhibitions before the couple retires to their wedding chamber, but I gather that’s not going to happen to you.”
“No, not on my usual beverage choice of orange juice.”
“You don’t mind if I have a bit of wine? I admit that I’m a bit nervous.”
“Oh, I won’t say I’m not. I have never done this before--but I am a doctor,” he said with what he hoped was a playful smile, “so I know how it’s done. To the dais, then?” and he held out the crook of his arm. She looked at it. “Oh, it’s another custom from my homeland. You slip your arm through that, and you can lean on me if you like as I escort you to your seat.”
“I think I like that custom,” she said, as she complied.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #437: Characters Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: