Saga - PT Our Big Fat Lasat Wedding (Zeb/OC; romance, family; ad-hoc OTP Challenge #16)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Aug 9, 2020.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Our Big Fat Lasat Wedding
    Era: Saga–PT, 19–18 BBY
    Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, Lasan Series OCs, Chava the Wise
    Genre: Romance, family, some drama, some humor; multichapter (five in all)
    Summary: Zeb and Shulma get married, though lots of things lead up to it, of course.
    Contents: 1 (below) | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
    Notes: Part of the Lasan Series, of course (no surprise there). I have been meaning to write this story for a while, and OTP Challenge #16: Milestones finally gave me the occasion to, so it is an entry in that challenge as well. With thanks, as usual, to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading. @};-


    Dusty winds whirled and screamed across the hills and cliffs of Lasan’s northern continent, scouring the rocks and sending trees and shrubs flying. But inside the houses that dotted those hills and cliffs, warm light shone, and all was bright and cheerful. It was Midstorm’s Eve, the midpoint of the dust season, and with the harshest half of the harshest season behind them families and friends gathered to celebrate all over Lasan.

    No one threw a more splendid Midstorm’s Eve feast than the Orrelios family, in their spacious home in the cliff-country surrounding the capital city of Lira Zel. The entire family had turned out for the celebration, coming from every corner of Lasan. A scrumptious spread of seasonal puddings, pies, and stews, crowned by a gigantic roast spear-boar, covered the table, leaving almost no empty space. Sounds of feasting, singing, games, and revelry echoed from the rafters, drowning out the roar of the stormwinds outside.

    But right now, a hush fell over those assembled as a young, tousle-haired male in Honor Guard uniform rose and began clanking his tankard with his meat knife.

    “Hey, everybody! Zebby’s got an announcement!”

    Another male, larger, older, and balder but also clad in Honor Guard attire, shot him a fierce look. “SHAI!”

    “You said you were gonna tell everyone tonight!”

    “I know, but—right. Fine.” Zeb stood and cleared his throat as Shai clanked his tankard again. A hush fell over the room, and Zeb began.

    “So, er, erm… Right. So, I want you all to know that I am now the happiest, er, Lasat on, er, Lasan.”

    Murmurs of interest arose.

    “Because Shulma here”—he placed his arm around the long-haired female seated next to him, whose emerald eyes gleamed as he did so—“said she would be my wife.”

    The guests broke into a mix of raucous cheers, and applause, and questions. “WOOHOO!” “YAYYY!” “GO ZEB!” “ZEBBYYYYYY!” “When’s it gonna be?” “Do we get to come?” This time Zeb hit his tankard again to quiet everyone down.

    “So, er, yeah,” Zeb continued. “We still gotta work out some details, but we’re lookin’ at sometime next growin’ season… er, the one after next dust season, not the one after this dust season right now… and yeah, yeah, I know that’s a long way off, but that way Shulma can finish her First Degree exams an’ I can get my rank a little more advanced, an’ all that.” He paused and took a drink of ale. “An’ you’re all invited of course, so, er, don’t worry about that.”

    Cheers erupted again. An elderly female leaned across the table and wagged a wrinkled finger at Zeb. “And you’re going to let me do all your food, aren’tcha? A couple of nice roast prongbok with fire-pepper sauce and all the fixings?”

    “Aw, ’course we are, Gran, ’course we are! Who else? No one does it like you!” He gestured to the myriad platters of food covering the table, and again cheers rang out.

    “So, Priska, this mean you’re gonna to challenge Shulma to a betrothal fight?” someone asked, addressing a wiry female a little older than Zeb, also in Honor Guard uniform, and sitting next to Gran.

    A few gasps morphed quickly into laughter. “Yeah,” someone else added, “Make sure she’s worthy o’ your brother?”

    “Hah! No way! Not in a million dusts!” Priska guffawed in response, slapping her knee. “She’d fry me to a crisp with that Ashla lightning of hers!” She turned and winked at Shulma, who purpled a bit but smiled.

    “No one does betrothal fights anymore, anyway!” Shai piped up. “’Least not here. No telling what they do out in the sticks.

    “Then how about a noogie competition instead?” suggested someone else as several others chimed in with “Yeah!,” “Do it!,” and “Totally!”

    Shulma beamed winningly in Priska’s direction. “Ah, in that case, I most definitely am not worthy,” she said, winking at Priska, who smiled and winked back.

    “’Course you’re worthy!” Herleva Orrelios—retired Honor Guard captain, mother of Zeb, Shai, Priska, and their two older sisters, and perhaps the most redoubtable matriarch on all Lasan—punctuated this utterance with a pound on the table. “And you don’t need any silly old-fashioned customs to prove it, either! Now, whether he’s worthy of you...“

    “Aw, Ma!” groaned Zeb as his family members burst into laughter around him.

    “Teasing, teasing, Garazeb, and you know it. Now, why don’t you raise us a toast in honor of this happy announcement.”

    “Right.” Zeb refilled his ale from a large crockery pitcher, then cleared his throat and stood up, raising his tankard high. “Er, this is to my sweet Shulma. Who I’d brave a thousand dust storms for. And a thousand of Priska’s noogies, too.” Laughter. “But yeah, really. I can’t wait for you to be my wife, and… er, yeah, love ya, darlin’. This is for you.”

    “Hear, hear!” “Shulma!” “Zeb and Shulma!” “WOOHOOOO!” Happy sounds of cheering, applause, and clanking drinking vessels filled the room as Zeb took a swig and gathered his bride close to him for a kiss.

    * * *​

    The next day, for the midday meal on Midstorm’s Day, Zeb went to dine with Shulma and her family at their home in the mountain town of Flowstone Vale. It was a much smaller, much quieter gathering than the gigantic Orrelios feast of the evening before. Besides Shulma, her parents, and her elder twin brothers Chornogar and Chornozod, the only other guests were the brothers’ wives, a pair of grandparents, and a very frail and elderly great-grandmother. But here, too, there was good food aplenty: a fricassée of assorted game fowl, rainbowfish panfried with herbed butter in the mountain style, spiced squash fritters (a Trilasha family specialty), and two cream-topped maznaberry pies for dessert. Generous portions of ale and cordial washed it all down.

    Just as Zeb had done at his own family’s meal the night before, Shulma stood up partway through the meal and made the official announcement that she and Zeb would be marrying. Her parents smiled proudly as exclamations of congratulation arose, followed by the usual questions of when and where, along with anecdotes and friendly advice from the elders. Then Shulma, too, followed the custom of raising a toast to her betrothed—“to my love, my Garazeb, who is a mighty bristlecone among the shrubs and a noble konculor among the akk dogs.” Mugs and glasses clinked as the pair kissed.

    Only the two brothers were silent through it all. At their sister’s announcement their mouths had merely curved momentarily upward, and they joined in the toast with no more than a grunted “hear, hear.” Zeb wasn’t sure what to make of it. Even after all these dust seasons, it still amazed him that the same family that had produced the learned, gracious, and gentle Shulma had also produced… well, those two. (Then again, his own family had produced both himself and Shai, so…)

    All the same, he wondered why they couldn’t show at least a little happiness for their sister. Was it just because they already knew the news already? That was probably it, he considered, as he tucked into a generous slice of maznaberry pie.

    At least he hoped so.

    * * *​

    It was late in the afternoon when the festivities wound down. As the dust whirled ever more darkly and fiercely outside, the last mugs of tea, cider, and ale were sipped, the great-grandmother retired upstairs for a nap, and the brothers and their wives had already disappeared. Zeb put on his standard-issue officer’s overcoat and took his leave of Shulma’s parents and grandparents. Shulma accompanied him downstairs to the storm entrance in the cellar—every house on Lasan had one, and they connected to the network of underground tunnels that even the smallest towns provided for use during the dust season.

    “Journey safely, my Zeblove,” she said, tracing the Triangle on his chest and pressing close to him. They shared a tender kiss. Then he exited and made his way down the tunnel toward the speederport for this part of the tunnel network, where the staff hovercar he had borrowed from base was parked. At intervals, yellow-green wall lights cast a sickly glow on the duracrete walls. As he walked, Zeb heard the echo of his footfalls, the occasional drip of water, and the muffled, distant white-noise of the storm above ground.

    “Oi! Garazeb!”

    Zeb stopped and spun around at the sound of his name. Two tall, brawny males were walking toward him—and he knew who they were, for he had just seen them at the Midstorm’s Day meal: Chornogar and Chornozod, Shulma’s brothers. What they were doing following him through the storm tunnels, Zeb had no idea. Their wives were not with them.

    “Er, hello?” he said, as cordially as he could through half-gritted teeth.

    “Hello nothin’,” scowled the taller and lighter of the two, whom Zeb recognized as Chornogar. “So y’ think you can sneak outta here without a proper betrothal fight, do ya, guardsman?

    “Well, you’re mistaken, heh heh!” Chornozod chimed in.

    “Betrothal fight…?” Zeb was slightly nonplussed, but he kept his cool and kept his teeth gritted. “Well… er… I… didn’t know anyone still did that anymore.”

    “Maybe you sophisticated, citified folks don’t,” Chornogar retorted. Zeb was now even more nonplussed; apparently Chornogar didn’t know he actually was from outside the capital, which was very different from being from the capital itself. “But here in the Gosrral we still have some RESPECT FOR CUSTOM!”

    With that, both brothers rushed at Zeb. Zeb readied himself in an instant, calling on both years of combat training and a history of youthful tussles with Priska and Shai. After pushing Chornozod back with a single thrust of his hand, he caught Chornogar in a headlock, noogied him soundly, and sent him whirling backward directly into Chornozod, nearly bowling him over.

    Zeb flicked the dust from his wrist bracers. Perhaps this whole betrothal fight thing really was no different from those tussles with his own siblings. “Is that it?” he called, chuckling.

    “No, that’s NOT IT!” snarled Chornogar. He ran at Zeb again, this time whaling on him with both fists. Zeb blocked and parried the blows, even landing a few choice counterstrikes to Chornogar’s ribs and abdomen. But Chornogar did not let up and only kept coming at his opponent harder and harder. At last he grabbed Zeb by the upper arms, pressed his nuchal hump into Zeb’s, and tried to wrestle him to the ground. Zeb was the stronger of the two and kept his footing, but Chornogar gripped and clawed at him so stubbornly, so relentlessly, that he was hard to shake off.

    All the while Chornozod stood watching in befuddlement. “What the Bogan are you doin’, Chorg?!”

    “Teachin’ this—puffed-up—guardsman—a thing or—AAAAGHHH!”

    A sudden, crackling blaze of golden-yellow lightning engulfed Chornogar, throwing him backward against the duracrete wall. At the same time a voice—familiar, beautiful, but angry—echoed in the passage:

    “What. Is. This?!”

    It was Shulma. Yellow sparks still danced around her hands and glittered in her eyes as she marched up to confront her brother. Zeb’s heart fluttered as he straightened his bracers and smoothed his overcoat, and he couldn’t hide a hint of a smile. Karabast, my lady’s gorgeous when she’s mad…

    Chornogar rubbed his brow ridge as he peeled himself from the wall. “Er… uh… I woulda had him if y’ hadn’t come an’—”

    “No you wouldn’t, you nerfbrain!” yelled Chornozod, shoving him back against the wall.

    “Be that as it may.” Shulma’s eyes still smoldered as she stared Chornogar down. “What in the name of all the spirits do you think you were doing?!”

    “Aw, c’mon, Shul! Just wanted to make sure he was—”

    Worthy, is no doubt the word you have in mind? Well, in case you were not aware, this is no longer the First Colonial Age, and I can make my own decisions about who is and is not worthy of me, thank you VERY much!” Sparks rose as she stamped her foot to punctuate this utterance. She went over to Zeb and clasped his hand. “Are you all right, Zeblove?”

    Zeb pulled her hand up to kiss it. “Yeah, I’m fine, darlin’, just catchin’ my breath. Gotta say, your brothers are worthy opponents.” He smiled and winked at the two brothers. Chornogar’s face remained immobile.

    It was Chornozod who spoke next. “Look, er… Shul, Garazeb… I’m really sorry. I thought it was just gonna be like with me and Gorff just a couple years ago. We just sort of… shoved each other around a bit, y’know? I didn’t know things were gonna get all… rough. So yeah, I’m sorry.”

    “Me too, I guess,” muttered Chornogar.

    “Not to worry, no harm, no foul.” Zeb inclined his head toward the brothers and placed hand over fist. Chornozod returned the gesture, and a moment later Chornogar did as well. “I meant that about worthy opponents.”

    “It’s all right, you two. But please be kind to him.” Her emerald-green eyes sparkled as she reached up to stroke Zeb’s jaw fringe. “He’s one of the family now, you know.”

    “Aw darlin’, heh heh...” Zeb broke into a giddy grin as she placed a peck on his cheek. He drew her toward him for a proper kiss before taking his leave and heading for the hovercar. One of the family now—aw yeah, he liked the sound of that. And he sure couldn’t wait till that happy day a dust season and a half from now, when it would be official.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
    Anedon, Mira_Jade , GregMcP and 3 others like this.
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    IT'S THE WEDDING STORY! Will be back to leave a longer comment at some point, but just wanted to say that I'm so happy to see this posted. [face_dancing]
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    SQUEE! SQUEE! And GO SHULMA WITH YOUR AWESOME SELF! [face_dancing] :* [face_love] I loved the contrasting family gatherings.

    The joy and celebratory atmosphere was more subdued at Shulma's but no less sincere I think until, whew! Chornogar sure took the whole betrothal fight too far. :eek:
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you folks so much for reading and commenting!

    Aw, thanks, I'm so glad! I too am happy to finally being able to get around to work on this chapter of the Lasan Series, as it's been (at least partially) floating around in my head a while now. :)

    Thank you! It was a lot of fun to write the differences between these two families and the ways they celebrate, because it's kind of a scaled-up version of the contrasting-yet-complementary relationship that Zeb and Shulma have themselves. And yeah, Chornogar went a little overboard there! He's still not sure what he thinks of the fact that his sister has taken up with this NON-MINER Honor Guard fellow. But fortunately things were resolved quickly, and Zeb really does mean what he said about worthy opponents! Thanks so much again for reading and for being here for this series, as always! :)
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  5. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 30, 1999
    You go girl! Stand your ground and make sure you can make your own decisions! Silly brothers thinking that they can tell you what to do.

    Also cannot read your stuff when I'm hungry. Your descriptions of the food were great and now I'm extra hungry!
  6. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!:zeb: :D Oh, I'm so happy that my little milestones prompt could be the catalyst for this, because I've been looking forward to this Big Fat Lasat Wedding for a long time! And things get off to a great start with the familial announcements. There's my boy, Shai, getting in on his Zebby's big moment (it's only because he's so happy for you, you big lug!) and all the assorted Orrelioses are there to cheer the happy news with shoulder punches and hearty noogies! :D There's much good humor, especially all the jokes about the betrothal fight--an interesting custom, and one that fits, since the Lasat value physical prowess, even in these enlightened times when "no body does that anymore" (Oh, you'd be surprised, Shai :p)

    And as we've seen before, family gatherings at the Trilasha household have a more subdued air--well, that's to be expected when at least two family members speak mostly in monosyllables. But their gathering is as festive and their congratulations are as sincere. (And I have to say that all the food you described in this chapter made me quite hungry; it all sounds delicious, the best kind of hearty holiday fare!) But those brothers of Shulma's....hmm. Like another pair of famous twins, they are solemnly up to no good (though less jovial about it than Fred and George). They're honestly lucky that Zeb didn't throw punches first and ask questions later, sneaking up on him that way!

    It's a good thing that Shulma shows up when she does--a good thing for Chornogar, that is! I'm sure Zeb could have kept it up longer than he could have, and though I'm sure Zeb wouldn't hurt Chornogar on purpose, I can also see him being like "Look, if you won't stop punching me, I will make you stop." Wow, Chornogar has some issues to work out, doesn't he? :p I know things like that can happen when a family member marries "outside" their usual circle, but he needs to come to terms with the fact that Zeb's not going anywhere! Good for Shulma for standing up for her own right to decide who is worthy, thank you very much! She is her own person and does not need big brother's permision, thanks. And good for Chornozod, who seems to the better sense of the two, for apologizing even though he thought he was only going in for some good-natured puppy scufflinlin, and of course to Zeb, for being the bigger man (we knew he would).

    Things are definitely going to be interesting for Zeb and Shulma over the next few months of planning, with so many distinct personalities involved! Here's hoping that they can work everything out without too many mishaps! Looking forward to seeing future big, fat chapters!
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both so much for reading and commenting! :)

    Yep, Shulma can exhibit quite a bit of gumption when she needs to, especially when it comes to those silly brothers of hers and their dastardly scheme of beating up her man! (Not like they really could if they tried, though!)

    Oh, thanks so much! Food is one of those "guilty pleasure" writing topics for me. I think I must have been inspired by the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, which I devoured in my early graduate school years and which absolutely can't be beat when it comes to food descriptions! :D

    Well, thank you so much! And I am really and truly grateful to you for the "milestones" prompt, because I couldn't have asked for a better catalyst! :) Ever since the earliest planning stages of this story knew I wanted to start with the family announcements--and in particular to have Shai kick things off, because he's got a special place in my heart just as I know he does in Zebby's. It was fun to revisit the family contrast between the Orrelioses and the Trilashas--totally different ways of still doing a very enjoyable and meaningful family celebration, and now that Zeb and Shulma are about to begin a new life together I bet they're all the more aware of that contrast. And see above about the food descriptions; I highly recommend those Redwall books! :)

    Ah, interesting comparison to Fred and George Weasley! Yes, I guess they are turning out to be a little bit of a darker, sullen counterpart to those two. Agreed that they got off relatively easily, there! (And that's fine with me, because as you know, fight scenes aren't the easiest things in the world for me! :p )

    Yes, indeed, Chornogar doesn't realize how lucky he actually was that he got off only with a little zap from his sister, because Zeb totally could have gotten to that point if things had kept up (and again, as a relative noob in terms of fight scenes, I'm totally OK with the fact that they didn't :p ). Chornozod has always been the more easygoing of the two in terms of Zeb, and he really did think it would only be a quick tussle like the one he took part in with his own wife's brother. And Zeb of course understands and forgives, and takes it as an opportunity to give both the brothers a compliment--a way to reach out and initiate his own brotherly relationship with them.

    Thank you so much, and an especial thank you for all your help and advice and for the loan of such amazing OC family members for Zeb and such wonderful Lasat lore! Always a pleasure to play in your sandbox. @};- This next chapter did indeed turn out kind of big and fat, exceeding the 3000-word mark (which by my own standards is on the big and fat side), but I hope everyone will enjoy all the same. Many thanks again! :)
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    This second chapter could be titled “Zeb's Big Fat Bachelor Trip”! It turned out a bit long, so please bear with me; also, I give it a Teen rating for a small amount of bachelor-trip-type innuendo. @Raissa Baiard helped me a lot with this chapter and gave me beaucoup de good advice on several spots where I was stuck, so I give her an extra big thanks! @};-


    The next several seasons flew by in a frenzy of activity, arrangements, and excitement.

    Zeb announced his upcoming marriage to his comrades in the Honor Guard, Shulma announced it to her colleagues at the Academy of Shamans, and both received hearty congratulations. Preliminary plans were made. Guests and family members from all over Lasan were invited. A date was chosen: exactly one month after Storm’s End, when the growing season would be in full swing and the cliffs adorned with colorful wildflowers. A place was chosen—or, rather, it had been known all along: Shulma had always known that if she ever got married, she wanted it to be atop Mount Straga in the main sanctum of the academy, that beautiful shrine of the Ashla that had long been so central in her life. (“Aw, anywhere’s fine, darlin’,” Zeb had said, “as long as it’s you standin’ next to me.”) There would be both full military and shamanic honors, and Wise Chava herself happily agreed to perform the oldest and most traditional form of the bonding ritual. (“Oh, nothing would make me happier!” she exclaimed, gathering Shulma into a warm embrace, then bustling about to find all the relevant books in her study.) There were myriad smaller-scale plans, too, as details of food, drink, clothing, musicians, and decorations were discussed.

    Through it all, Zeb and Shulma still had all the commitments of their respective callings. Not long after Midstorm’s Day, Zeb had to leave on a lengthy, intensive tour of duty to the Southern Plateaus—a particularly arid, rugged, and torrid region where the Honor Guard often trained in desert warfare and survival. Shulma, meanwhile, was occupied with studying for the First Degree examinations that would establish her as a full shaman of Lasan—and which, according to a schedule established early in her time at the academy, would be held just before Storm Solstice, little more than a season before the wedding. And as if that were not enough, both Shulma and Zeb had received unexpected honors during this time. Zeb’s skill, courage, and leadership in the Honor Guard had led to his promotion to captain after the retirement of Captain Halmarr Porifiros for health reasons, which of course brought with it a host of new responsibilities. Shulma, at around the same time, had been invited by Chava herself to act as presider of that season’s Storm Solstice ceremony—an immense shamanic honor testifying to her own talent and skill, but one that required a good deal of intense preparation of its own alongside all Shulma’s First Degree studying. Although the bride and groom saw little of each other during this whirl of activity and responsibility, they deeply cherished those few moments they were able to have together. Talking of the wedding—their own beautiful day that seemed so far in the future—became a welcome respite.

    Finally the dust season passed. The sun returned to the sky, banishing the scouring darkness. Lasan burst into life again: trees leafed out, wildflowers wreathed the cliffs, birds and beasts frolicked in the light of the growing season. Even happier were the Lasat people, who rejoiced to be once again outside, above ground, and free from the scourge of the dust. And happiest of all the Lasat were Zeb and Shulma. Their wedding day was now less than one moon-cycle away, and each sunrise and sunset brought it nearer.

    But their challenges were not over. Despite the joy and brightness of the season, this time was their Dark Moon—the customary period of preparation one moon-cycle before the wedding day. During this time, they were forbidden to see each other until the wedding rite itself (comm messages were permissible but not holocalls). They ate only the simplest foods. They occupied themselves with mental and physical self-discipline: Zeb trained, climbed, sparred, and studied the strategy and tactics of the great captains, while Shulma meditated long hours, immersed herself in the ancient writings, and went for long, solitary walks along the sun-soaked bluffs. This all was to refine their life-essences to their highest, purest state, in preparation for the unification of those essences in the marriage rite. (WHATEVER YOU SAY DARLIN was Zeb’s response to Shulma’s comm message explaining the philosophy to him.)

    * * *​

    At last, as the sun climbed higher and higher, the wildflowers multiplied on the slopes, and the insects’ nocturnal choruses waxed louder, the Dark Moon entered its final week. It was now time for the traditional bachelor’s and maiden’s journeys. Grooms typically went climbing in rugged and mountainous regions; brides usually traveled to bodies of water for swimming, diving, and boating. The idea—at least as Shulma explained it—was to complete the Dark Moon’s process of self-refinement by bonding with nature and with Lasan itself, but also simply to say goodbye to the single life in the company of friends.

    For his journey, Zeb chose Prokhovor’s Peak in the magnificent but formidable southern reaches of the Basalt Mountains. Named for a famed Honor Guard captain from the time of the Settlement Wars, Prokhovor’s Peak was known not only for its impressive height but also for its steep, sharply craggy terrain that offered many challenges to the climber. Joining Zeb on his journey were his closest comrades from the Honor Guard—Groz Spargstaung, Gron Stultzfoss, Gunvar Ankole, and Velibor Ahenobarbus—along with Shulma’s two brothers and of course young Shai, now a full-fledged First Corporal. It was fairly remote, with the nearest settlement some sixty klicks away, but thanks to the help of old Supply Sergeant Skaavatou, the Guard quartermaster, the group had been able to secure an unused Honor Guard lookout cabin on the mountain’s northeastern slope, just down from the peak, to serve as an austere but serviceable lodging. (“Went ’air for m’own bach trip back in’e day, I did,” the quartermaster had added.) There were no roads and the cabin was only accessible by climbing—but that was part of the challenge.

    The group began climbing at dawn the first day. Although some chill was always to be contended with in the Basalt Mountains, they had been blessed with clear weather. The rough terrain of Prokhovor’s Peak was no match for six Lasat Guardsmen and two Lasat miners; strong, prehensile hands and feet grappled with the rock, moving deftly and rhythmically from crag to crag. Sometimes they raced, sometimes even engaged in good-natured wrestling or tussling even while vertical—a truly good climber could maintain his grip even while being shoved around, after all. (“And you know what they say, the stronger your grip is—” began Velibor, upon which Gunvar shoved him so hard he slipped down almost two meters.) They joked, bantered, bickered, compared climbing technique, laughed. (Or at least most of them did, for the Trilasha brothers climbed in more or less stoic silence.)

    There were naturally mishaps along the way. With such treacherous slopes and so little in the way of reliable foothold, the men were obliged to climb more or less continuously till well past midday. When they finally found a narrow ledge upon which they could stop to eat a quick meal, they found they were one ration bar short. (“You didn’t tell me she had two brothers!” complained Gunvar, who had been tasked with packing provisions.) But Zeb readily volunteered to forfeit his, sticking instead with a few pieces of bantha jerky.

    Later, on one particularly sheer stretch, Shai slipped down several meters, upon which Zeb (who had been leading the other climbers by at least a body length) immediately scrambled down, secured his little brother, and patched up his scrapes and scratches. (“No, really, Zebby, I’m FIIINE!!” Shai yelp-protested as stinging bacta ointment was slathered on his leg.) Soon after that, a can of beans slipped out of Gunvar’s knapsack and hit Velibor squarely on the nuchal hump, its edge leaving a shallow but visible gash. (“Look what you did to my handsome head!” moaned Velibor, unaware that his assiduous rubbing only accentuated the wound.)

    But the worst mishap of all came about halfway up the mountain, when Gron—originally from the Lake Yabsh region and even now not entirely used to heights—was struck by altitude sickness. After the worst of it was over (“hey, at least you only got a little bit on your left ear,” Chornozod reassured his grumbling, cursing brother), Gron took an oxygen pill and was able to continue without any further ill effects.

    The sun was well westward when they finally arrived at the lookout cabin. It was small and sparsely furnished, with only a very rudimentary kitchen area, equally rudimentary fresher facilities, and two bunk beds, though everyone was pleasantly surprised to find two kegs of ale standing on the counter (Basalt Mountains Brownblack and Two Nerfs Nutbrown), along with a note reading CONGRATS ORRELIOS FROM PORIFIROS. A large fire pit was sunk into the ground out front. The terrain was less rugged here, enough so that rockgoats occasionally roamed nearby, munching on the mosses and shrubs that patched the mountainside. Once everyone had taken some time to rest and freshen up, Groz and Gron offered to go hunt for supper, insisting in the strongest terms that Zeb—who naturally had offered to join them—relax a while and let them do the work (and that Shai, who had also offered to join them, go pick some maznaberries instead). Meanwhile, Chornogar and Chornozod readied the fire pit for roasting, Gunvar began assembling the provisions he had brought, and Velibor retired to the ’fresher to put a new coat of bacta ointment on his nuchal hump.

    Later, hints of purple-orange haze twilight haze glimmered in the western sky as the eight Lasat males relaxed around the smoldering fire, sipping ale, warming their feet, and feeling happily full after polishing off a supper of roasted rockgoat, maznaberry sauce, reconstituted freeze-dried tubers, and canned beans. “So, Zeb,” asked Groz. “You looking forward to the married life?”

    “Guess so.” Zeb shrugged but smiled as he did. “Not like I really have a choice, do I?”

    The others chuckled—except for Chornogar, who tried unsuccessfully to hide an exasperated sigh in his ale. “You’re in for good and all now, Captain,” put in Gron. “No turning back now.”

    “Ah, he won’t regret it,” Groz replied, making a dismissive gesture with his sinewy hand.

    “I don’t intend to.” Zeb raised his tankard.

    The others raised theirs as well. A few silent moments passed as ale was sipped and the fire continued to smolder.

    “So what are you looking forward to most about married life, Captain?” asked Gron at length.

    Zeb leaned back, a dreamy expression forming on his rugged features. “Shulma, heh heh.”

    A medley of laughter and good-natured groans arose. “Aw, y’r nothin’ but a big nuzzlecat!” Groz, sitting next to Zeb, gave him a hefty shoulder punch, received one back, gave another, and finally received a shove that knocked him sideways into Gunvar—resulting in a small ale spill and a snapped “Hey!”

    “She’s a catch, for sure,” said Velibor, forming a vaguely female-shaped outline in the air with his hands. “You know what they say about females with lots of strrripes...

    There was hooting, whistling, and more laughter But Chornogar only scowled. “That’s our sister you’re talkin’ about, y’know.”

    “Ah, don’t even,” retorted Chornozod. “You said exactly the same thing about Vefa back on my bach trip. Heh, I still remember, Gorff just about tossed his cookies!”

    “This is different!”

    “Sure, whatever, bro.”

    “So, uh… are you two gonna have kits?” Gunvar asked, in a hasty attempt to defuse the bickering.

    Groz shoved him. “What kinda question is that?!

    Gunvar shoved back. “A reasonable one, that’s what!”

    “’S arright,” Zeb reassured him. “Yeah… I think we’re gonna give it some time, get settled a bit first… I gotta get used to this whole captain thing, an’ Shulma’s got some projects she wants to do. But yeah, for sure someday.”

    The others nodded and grunted in acknowledgment, though Chornozod cracked a wry smile. “Heh, famous last words, or somethin’,” he commented. “Chorg here, he said the exact same thing, and then bing, what happens just after he an’ Orli get back from Chrysoprase Island? Little red plus sign on the medscan! Ha ha… er… heh… yeah.” His laughter quickly deflated as he noticed his brother glaring daggers at him, and he changed the subject. “Er… how ’bout you? Where are you two goin’ on your trip?”

    “Moonflower Springs, Eastern Plateaus,” replied Zeb proudly, to a chorus of oohs and aahs.

    “Oh, that’s a wonderful choice, Captain,” said Gron. “I believe my parents went there for theirs. I… wasn’t there, of course. But I’m told it’s exquisite.”

    “Yeah, seemed like the right kinda place,” Zeb continued, then added huskily: “I got us the waterfall overlook bridal suite.”

    Whoops of approval erupted. Groz thumped Zeb heftily on the back. “ARRIGHT, ZEB, you ladykiller, you!” he roared. “Those Eastern Plateaus’re gonna be ROCKIN’!”

    “Ooh, ooh,” added Gunvar, “an’ with a spark-flinger like her, we’ll be able to see the FIREWORKS from here! Ha ha!” He and Groz jabbed each other in the side with their elbows.

    “Yeah, Zeb better bring some burn cream!” chimed in Velibor. “Oh wait! He probably already knows that!”

    Now the chortling, whooping, knee slapping, and elbowing was at fever pitch. Even Chornogar laughed a little into his tankard. Shai, however, just shifted nervously and fidgeted with his cup. “Er… uh… yeah! Er… I gotta go use the ’fresher, so see you all later, heh!”

    Zeb watched Shai scramble back to the cabin. He knew it couldn’t be easy for the poor kid to hear his big brother talked about that way. Karabast, it wasn’t easy for him to hear them talk about that stuff, either—it reminded him of how long he had been waiting already. Shulma had insisted, and although he understood and respected her decision, it sure as the Bogan wasn’t easy...

    But soon that would all change—very soon—and oh yeah, then there’d be fireworks, all right. Zeb leaned back, looking up at the darkening purple-orange sunset haze, wiggling his toes in the fire’s waning warmth, and thinking of those swirling stripes, that luscious hair…

    “Don’cha worry,” he said at last. “I’m ready for whatever comes.” He winked and raised his tankard high.

    * * *​

    The bachelor’s and maiden’s journeys were times to bond with Lasan—which meant not only the planet’s rugged landscape but also the friends and kin who carried Lasan in their blood. Thus it was customary for the bride or groom to set aside time to spend privately with each fellow traveler, and to offer words of friendship to each.

    So, once night had fallen and the stars glittered in a clear, dark mountain sky, Zeb called each of the men, one by one, to come out by the fire with him. In a traditional, semi-ritual gesture of friendship, he would grasp each man’s hand in his own, place his other atop both clasped hands, and pull him close so that their brow ridges touched. To each of them he expressed his affection and appreciation as best he could:

    “Good ol’ Groz… no one in the Guard knows me like you do. You’ve always been there for me, from bein’ my first friend at the academy to bein’ bunkmates to havin’ our own subunits… mine still beats yours, just kiddin, just kiddin’... to bein’ my head lieutenant, and soon you’ll be standin’ with me on my big day, too. Couldn’t ask for a better man than you by my side. Thanks for everything, ol’ pal.

    “Gunvar… heh, what can I say? You’re just a really swell guy, have been ever since we were first-years together, and I’m stoked to know ya. You’ve just got that… Gunvar energy and that Gunvar humor, an’ you always know how to make me laugh, even when I’m down. And you keep me from takin’ myself too seriously, which, er, I need sometimes, so thanks for that.

    “Velibor… right… well… we’ve known each other a good long time now, an’ you’re a really… one-of-a-kind guy an’ I gotta say, I appreciate the way you always, er, look out for me an’ make sure I’m doin’ the right thing. Especially when it comes to, y’know, the love stuff an’ all that. Yeah, I know I sound like a nuzzlecat, but I mean it, y’know?

    “Middle Lieutenant Tarbigron Stultzfoss. Heh, rolls, off the tongue, doesn’t it? My newest lieutenant, but I hope you know I value ya as much as the most experienced of my men. You always go that extra klick and put your all into everythin’ you do, even when it isn’t easy… and if that isn’t the mark of a true Honor Guard, I don’t know what is. So keep it up, Gron. You’re destined for great things.

    “Chornogar. Look, er… we’ve had our ups an’ our downs. But at the end of the day, I’m glad I’m gonna be able to call you brother. You’re the real thing, you say what you mean, you mean what you say, you work hard, you take your work seriously, an’ those are all things I really admire. Hey, if things had gone different, you might’ve made a mighty fine Honor Guard! An’ that’s a compliment!

    “Chornozod, aw man, can I just say I’m really lookin’ forward to havin’ you as a brother? With your master grillin’ skills, your sense of humor, your stories, you’re just a great guy to be around. An’ your wrestlin’ skills, too… I meant what I said that day about a worthy opponent! Yeah, we’re gonna have some good times ahead—an’ I know that, because we already have!

    “Shai, Shai, Shai. Aw, come ’ere, li’l big guy. You turned out pretty good after all, y’know?” (Vigorous noogie.) “No, seriously, though. I know this whole wedding thing o’ mine is gonna be a big change and kinda new and weird for ya. But you know what? No matter what happens, you’re never gonna stop bein’ my brother, an’ I’m never gonna stop being proud of ya. You’ve grown so much, you’re a great guy, an’ a mighty fine Honor Guard.. an’ don’t worry, you’ll have your turn at the love stuff, because someday that mischievous li’l grin o’ yours is gonna turn some lady to a puddle o’ goo, heh, heh…” (“ZEBBYYYY!”) “But seriously. I love ya, an’ I’m proud of ya, an’ just... aww, Shai...” He engulfed his brother in a sudden, immense hug. “Orrelios brothers together. Always.”
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb details showing events rich in cultural meaning as well as the swift passage of time full of individual commitments, reflective of Zeb's and Shulma's skills/talents. [face_thinking]

    There is an anticipatory feel as the time draws closer too, made more intense by the hectic demands keeping them apart as well as the traditional non-contact right before. =D=
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you so much for the comment, as always, Nyota! :)

    Thanks! I remember the time leading up to my own wedding was very hectic, too (because I was finishing college at the same time), and I kind of wanted to sanctify that hectic-ness (!) for Zeb and for the Lasat, in a way. (And as you know, the events that happen during that time are told in their own story—namely, Light of Lasan.) And ss I see it, the self-discipline and separation they go through now will help make the wedding day itself all he sweeter! :D <3 Many thanks again, as always!. :)[/QUOTE]
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    This was a really fun chapter and the worldbuilding nerd in me is especially delighted by all of it. :) I love that we get a glimpse into what the time before the wedding means for both of these nuzzlecats and how they're kind of busy with the practical side of making arrangements for the ceremony -- but also taking time to really be in tune with this upcoming change in their lives. While we don't see Shulma in person here, her presence is felt a lot through calls and such. The way she and Zeb are going through this time individually but also together in a way is really sweet. [face_love]

    Really enjoyed the descriptions of the mountains and how the challenges of the terrain kind of bring the "bachelor party" together at the same time as they provide backdrop for their squabbles and antics. Glad that they had medicine for the altitude sickness with them, that definitely was needed! :eek: And of course there's quite a bit of good-natured teasing aimed at the groom-to-be -- predictions about the local weather patterns and all! [face_laugh] Poor Shai, he didn't sign up for this kind of conversation. :p

    Also really liked the way that Zeb went about the customary conversation with each of the group. For all that he's not normally effusive, everything he says to each of them shows he really put a lot of thought and generosity into his words and it's just really moving. :)
  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you so much for being here and commenting, as always! :)

    Aw, I appreciate that, especially from a worldbuilding nerd such as you! ;) That's just what I was going for--getting a feel for how each of them are transitioning toward this big change in different ways. Which is kind of what bachelor(ette) gatherings are for, at root, so it was fun to try and "elevate" the concept a bit here. And as you say, even in this period of separation they are very much "with" each other, which is a foretaste of how their married life (and even, in a way, their later separation) will go.

    Thanks so much! I went into this chapter with some trepidation, because male characters (especially when they're doing stereotypically "manly" things) tend to be challenging for me to write sometimes, but it turned out to be a lot of fun once I got going, and definitely an opportunity for some antics and highjinks! And even a little innuendo, yes--which, again, was new to me but turned out to be rather fun, too. :D Shai was immense fun to write, as always--he always has a way of stealing the show! I love him so much and can't thank @Raissa Baiard enough for creating him and bringing him into this 'verse. :)

    Thanks! I really enjoyed writing those, too, though I admit some were easier than others (Shulma's brothers were difficult, for example, given how much up-and-down he's had with them, especially Chornogar). Also, one thing about weddings and their associated gatherings is that you don't always get much of a chance to interact with your friends and guests individually, as much as you'd love to--so this was a way to allow them that chance at least with some of their closest friends (and yes, my plan is for Shulma to take each of her friends aside the same way in the chapter I'm working on now).

    Many thanks once again for reading and commenting, my friend! Always a joy to have you here! :)
  13. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 30, 1999
    Really loved the banter between everyone and the differences between the two brothers and their reactions to certain things. That was really nicely done. Loves it.
  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you so much, Kit'! Glad you enjoyed the banter and the brothers' interactions—I always kind of wonder how I'm doing when I write sibling interactions, as I'm an only child myself and lack firsthand experience, so I am glad they come off well! It was a lot of fun to write this group of friends (some very different from each other) all bantering and laughing and generally having a good time together; I'm in the middle of doing the same for the women right now, and that's turning out to be both challenging and fun in other ways. Many thanks once again; always so nice to see you here enjoying these stories! :)
    Kahara and Kit' like this.
  15. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    GAH, IT'S HERE!!!

    I literally squeed out loud and had to do a bit of a happy dance when I first saw this posted. What a beautiful way to honor the OTP Milestone's challenge with a long anticipated union for these two dear characters! And, that said, I have to apologize for taking so long to reply to this - I've been waiting for a good moment to sit down and properly savor this story as it so deserves to be savored, and did just that last night with a glass of wine and no distractions. :p [face_love] Every word was worth the wait, though, I have to say. The prose! The worldbuilding! The details for scenery and season and food! The comradery and family bonds and teh romance. Yep, it's all here and then some. [face_love]

    SHAI!!! [face_rofl] [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    First of all, what a splendid Orrelios gathering is this Midstorm's Eve! You can feel the familial affection and good cheer all but leap off the screen, and smell all of that scrumptious good food. Mmm, but that just had my mouth watering for more! And, what a better way to make such a happy celebration even better with sharing a bit of joyous news. [face_love]

    I KNEW WHAT HE WAS GOING TO SAY AND I STILL SQUEED OUT LOUD. I have to borrow a couple of @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha specials, and even go as far to say that I was 'chuffed' and melted' and absolutely 'evaporated' at various stages of this story. [face_love]

    Ha! Priska knows what's what! [face_mischief] And I love how touched Shulma is for the praise. [face_love]

    Oh Shai! (Funnily enough, my first thought here was Shulma's brothers, before thinking they'd be too disinterested to even bother with it all. :p [face_tee_hee])

    Mama Orrelios couldn't have put it better than that! Well meaning teasing and all. :p

    Again, I have to applaud just how spot on you've written Zeb's voice to be, here and throughout your series. Even toasting his wife to be, he's still his gruff and raw, honest self. And that just makes his sweet words all the more special to hear. [face_love]

    Oi vey, I just can't even with these two. o_O But, maybe that's their way of showing that they approve? :p

    Oh! More excellent world building, all! I really like the idea of tunnels underground to use during the dust seasons.

    AND IT COMES FULL CIRCLE! I was caught between chuckling and rolling my eyes here - especially when what seemed like a little bit of brotherly fun went a little too far. (Careful there, it's a good thing Zeb was holding back - for the time being. o_O)

    Every. Word. Of. This. You go, Shulma! [face_laugh] [face_love]

    Right indeed our heroine is! And, all the while, I love how Zeb is just smitten by how gorgeous his lady is when all riled up with righteous indignation, and how he takes the moment to be the bigger man and use this as an opportunity to truly bond with Shulma's brothers. He really is showing his propensity for honor here in the best of ways here. I definitely hope that it's a turning point in their relationship.

    Yep. Evaporated!

    Oh, how fitting is this?? [face_love]

    Ha! I love how you topped off your - very fascinating, absolutely wonderful - worldbuilding and cultural lore with this very in character moment for Zeb and Shulma. Loved it!

    ABSOLTE NUZZLE-CAT! [face_love] [face_rofl]

    I also have to take a moment to step back and say how much I really enjoyed the concept of their month spent apart. It really lets them focus on themselves and what they can each bring to their marriage as separate individuals to form a new whole - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And this lets them say goodbye to a phase of their lives where they just did live for themselves, and for their friends and family in a way. It's a beautiful custom - and something that bachelor/bachelorette parties have really parted ways from in RL, more often than not, at least.

    The mountain scenery was beautifully described here, too! And I really enjoyed reading about the guys being guys. So much fun!

    [face_tee_hee] Not gonna lie. I giggled. I am that mature sometimes. BUT, the humor is all well and in good fun - even if poor Shai would disagree! Can we also mention that the guys had to talk about children and honeymoon venues before they, of course, got down to the innuendo that you just know they were mostly biting back all trip? They're all nuzzle-cats here, if you ask me. [face_mischief] [face_love]

    Oh! This was just absolutely touching and gorgeous! I really appreciate what you said, about how all too often you don't have as much time for your family and guests, individually, as you'd like at your wedding. This tradition felt so special, and really sealed off the true meaning of a 'bachelor' party in the best of ways. [face_love] =D=

    Yep. Absolutely melted, that's me. [face_love]

    I have enjoyed every word of this so far, and can't wait to look in and see what Shulma and the ladies have been up to next! Keep up the mighty fine work, and, as always, I appreciate you sharing your talent with the rest of us! It's always a treat. [face_dancing] [face_love]

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  16. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 11, 2016
    Great scenes, like the unqiue glimpses into this culture we are getting here, while also adding more background to Zeb.
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you guys so much for reading and commenting!
    Well, shucks, thanks! :) No worries about taking your time; you are always welcome to take as much as you need, given how things are going for all of us these days--your comments and readership always makes my day whenever it comes. I just feel honored that you wanted to take the time to savor this story--that's a big compliment right there, and I really appreciate all your compliments more than I can say, given what an ace you are with prose and details and character bonds of all kinds! :)

    He has a way of taking over every scene he's in, doesn't he! (Kudos again to @Raissa Baiard on that score!)

    Glad you enjoyed! Once again, I guess I just can't help myself when it comes to describing food! :D

    Aw, thanks so much! I know I've done all right when things I write elicit @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Specials! (TM) :D Incidentally, that particular quote from Zeb was one of the first things I had planned out for this story (besides the presence of Shai, of course :p ).

    Oh yes, she is! She and Priska are very different, but they like each other and have wads of respect for each other.

    Ah ha, and it turned out you were very right about that! :D

    Oh, she too is another character that has a way of standing out in every scene she's in, and I can't thank Raissa enough for her, either! :) (Raissa was the one who suggested that little tease, by the way, when I was working on this part and getting a little stuck.)

    Well, thanks! Zeb's a character dear to my heart and I'm just glad to be able to portray him believably. It's been by turns an interesting, fun, and challenging exercise writing him as a romantic lead while keeping his character the same, or trying to! :)

    Yeah, you know, with some people (on this earth, too), that's as effusive as it gets. But that is not to do say that there are also some issues at work in their relationship with their sister and their whole attitude toward her being romantically attached. As, indeed, comes up a little later on!

    Thanks! It just seemed like a logical thing to have. I realized while writing this that I actually haven't written very much about Lasan's dust season (even though that is a known characteristic of that planet), so I figured it wasn't too late to start.

    Oh yes, you were right about that, indeed! Again, there are definite Issues (TM) at work, especially on Chornogar's part, and that little old custom turned out to provided the perfect opportunity for them to boil over.

    Thanks so much! Oh yes, in the words of Princess Jasmine, she's not just a prize to be won!

    Thanks! That seemed to me like the Zeb way to handle the situation--sincerity counts for a lot, and those two will see it, even if it's down the line.

    Thanks! I feel like this is close to something my own Findshusband said back in the day when we were sorting out stuff like this! :p

    It did seem like the sort of thing she would do, even with the actual date some time away--she wants to get it just right! :D

    Thanks! It was fun to get a little of them in amid all the relatively impersonal description of the preparations.

    YEP THAT'S HIM! And he's not ashamed of it, either. :p

    Oh thank you, I am glad you enjoyed that touch! Absolutely agreed on all counts; that's exactly what it's meant to be all about, and the bachelor(ette) trips are indeed to bring that experience to its culmination. Again, my attempt to "elevate" some familiar Earth customs a little in transferring them to a different world.

    Thanks again! It turned out to be a really fun scene to write, even though at first I was nervous about writing all the "guy stuff"!

    Oh, you are totally more than entitled to all the giggles you want, that is completely and entirely the point! :D And agreed, absolutely--inside each of those big, tough Honor Guards is a big old fuzzy-soft nuzzlecat. [face_love]

    Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed this touch! I borrowed the gesture from to the Māori hongi, which I've always considered a beautiful gesture of greeting, friendship, and solidarity. It just seemed to fit with the idea of a moment of bonding with each friend at this important turning point in one's life.

    Me too, me too, if I do say so myself! I knew I had to end this scene with the "Orrelios brothers together." [face_love]

    Thank you so much once again, and thank you for this awesome comment! And as always, I am so glad to have you as a reader and commenter and am thrilled that you are enjoying these stories so much! Things have been hectic and tiring and DRL-ish lately, so I'm hoping I can regain some momentum on the chapter with Shulma's trip--but I have to say, the interest and support that you have shown in this story (and this whole 'verse) is one of the best motivators I could hope for, and I thank you so much for that! @};-

    Thank you so much, and thanks for reading and commenting! :) I'm so glad you have been enjoying this little "slice of life" and view into the culture and character; those are both exactly what I'm aiming for with this story (and some of my favorite things to write about!). So good to have you here--many thanks again. :)
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    It took me a while, but here's chapter three at last! Thanks, as always, to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and good advice. @};-


    For her maiden’s journey, Shulma chose Crystalflint Island, situated in Lake Flilk—the second largest body of water on Lasan, which formed a gemlike centerpiece to the lushly forested Western Reaches. In addition to its exquisite natural beauty, sparkling waterfalls, and stunning beaches, it was an important pilgrimage site: Berura of Crystalflint Island—one of Lasan’s most ancient prophetess-mystics, who was said to have been born en route from Lira San—had lived out her life here, writing the foundational Flowing Lightnings that would later inspire the great Osthi of Feldspar Falls. The island’s single small pilgrimage house, perched atop a white-rock cliff and overlooking a gemlike hidden cove, would serve as a simple but cozy lodging for Shulma and her six fellow travelers: her good friends Rishla and Yhazi from the Academy of Shamans, her old childhood friend Ninqua who now worked at the mining ministry, and Zeb’s three elder sisters, Zefora, Signi, and Priska. Shulma had arranged with the caretaker of the pilgrimage site for them to have the place to themselves for the duration of their journey.

    The island could be reached only by boat, which Shulma and her friends hired at the small lakeside town of Sunset Point. It was an old-fashioned waterspeeder that handled somewhat awkwardly and was just barely large enough to hold them all. Fortunately it was a near-perfect day to spend on the water, with fair skies, plentiful sunshine, and the gentlest of breezes to ease their passage to the distant center of the lake. As they sailed, the women passed the time many ways: grooming each other’s hair and fur and claws, playing games with cards or stones, admiring the scenery of the coastline, watching the waterbirds as they flew and swam and fished.

    All the while, the women talked happily among themselves—and of course the chief topic of conversation was the upcoming wedding. They compared plans for their attire and adornments. Rishla and Yhazi discussed details of the wedding ritual and the texts of its accompanying hymns and formulas. Zeb’s three sisters shared many an amusing story of their brother from his youth. In addition, Zefora and Signi, who were already married, overflowed with anecdotes of their own weddings and advice for the young bride. (“Always keep extra dress pins with you. Like, right there in your bodice. Zefora’s dress ripped right up the back while Rashelev was carrying her into the banquet hall!” “Quiet, Signi.”) Ninqua, who was piloting the boat—something with which she was experienced from her work at the mining ministry—listened eagerly to everything and joined in the laughter and banter.

    The quietest of all, oddly, was Shulma. She smiled politely at the sisters’ anecdotes and her friends’ chatter, but her emerald eyes were shadowed in thought as she reclined in the prow of the ship beside Ninqua. Her feet rested on the lap of Rishla, who was painting her toe claws with pearlescent polish.

    “Something on your mind, Shulma?” Ninqua asked eventually.

    “Three guesses what’s on her mind.” Yhazi’s amber eyes glinted. “One, big. Two, strong. Three, verrry strrripey.” She said these words in a suggestive growl-purr.

    “Now, now, now, that’s our baby brother Zebby you’re talking about,” said Priska, wagging a finger.

    “And this one’s groom-to-be, not yours,” added Rishla, tapping Shulma’s ankle.

    “Hey, a girl can look,” rejoined Yhazi with a big smirking wink. In response, Rishla smacked her playfully in the upper arm. Yhazi smacked her in return, almost upsetting the bottle of polish, which Rishla rescued just in time with a good-natured “Watch it!”

    Ninqua spoke again. “Uh, girls, why don’t we actually let Shulma tell us what’s on her mind? Shulma, what is on your mind?”

    “Well, Yhazi is not wrong.” Shulma cracked a smile, then sighed. “Him, sure, but also all the things I have to do when I get back.”

    “Like what?”

    “Oh, that evening I’ll have to get my notes on the doctrine of supernal union in order for Shaman Rokseth, and then I have my last fitting at the textile depot, and the initiates’ chant sectional, and then Wise Chava insists I meet with her one more time to finalize the procession assignments for the wedding.”

    “You don’t need to worry about that,” said Rishla. “Yhazi and I have got all that down. I’m left-one and she’s right-one, and I think the twos are Vorla and Fennwyn? I know Chukwu’s a four, anyway.”

    “Heh, of course you know what he is,” Yhazi snickered.

    Rishla purpled a bit. “Anyway. Shulma, don’t let Wise Chava pester you too much about the procession stuff. All you need to know is that we’ll be right beside you with the spray salts in case your currents spike during the lightning bond.”

    “Oh, you two are doing a lightning bond?” It was Zefora who spoke, her leaf-green eyes widening.

    “Yep, with consecration glyphs, incense, full chant cycle, and everything. Shulma’s an old-fashioned girl,” answered Yhazi, winking at her friend.

    Shulma winked back. “I don’t deny it.”

    “Rashelev and I thought about it for ours, but decided not to,” Zefora continued. “We thought the regular handfasting and kindling were enough. I mean, no offense or anything,” she added quickly, looking at Shulma, who inclined her head in acknowledgment.

    “Yeah, me and Shar, too,” put in Signi. “Hey, you gals realize Zebby’ll be the first one in our family to do it since Great-Gran Aythra?”

    “Hah! You’re right! Zefora slapped her knee. “How crazy is that! Oh, poor dear, I hope he’ll hold up all right...!”

    “Hey!” Priska shoved her—playfully but hard enough to rock the boat (eliciting a very different “Hey!” from Rishla, who once again had to rescue her polish bottle). “We Honor Guards can run from Lira Zel to the Northern Plateaus with a broken leg, a concussion, and a gut wound if we have to, y’know!”

    “Oh, not always, not always!” Zefora laughed, tapping her youngest sister with a long finger-claw. “Especially not Zebbers! Remember that time when he was about six dusts and tried to climb the huge thundercone out by Uncle Nere’s ranch? And fell down and got his legs all scraped up?”

    “Oh yeah! I remember that!” Signi chimed in.

    “And he was all like, ‘Ma says a true Honor Guard never feels pain!” Like, again and again... but you could tell how much it hurt from the way his lower lip was shaking and his eyes were all watery…”

    “Didn’t Ma break out the Xtra-Strength BactaGenic?” Priska asked.

    “Yeah! And put it all over him… and he just broke down and bawled… oh, dear Ashla…” Zefora’s own eyes watered as she laughed in reminiscence. “Poor little guy…”

    “That stuff’s brutal, though,” said Signi. “Didn’t Pa have to put some on him that time after that thing with the vibrohedger?”

    “OH DEAR ASHLA, YES!” Priska exclaimed. “THAT WAS SO HILARIOUS! And then he…”

    The sisters continued their reminiscences, laughing and slapping their knees and giving each other playful shoulder-shoves. Shulma relaxed in the prow of the boat as she listened. She always enjoyed hearing Zeb’s family members, and especially his sisters, tell stories of his childhood. But those stories always made her feel a little wistful as well; her own brothers told no stories about her childhood tree climbs or early mishaps with Ashla sparks. How sweet it was that her love had grown up with such loving sisters! And how strangely lucky they were, to be among the few beings on Lasan who had ever seen mighty Zeb shed tears! Shulma closed her eyes and wondered if she, as his wife, would someday see the same. Oh, if so, she knew what she would do: hold him close, wrap him in her cloak, catch those sweet, manly drops on her own cheek…

    An sudden ache spiked behind her brow ridge. She jolted from her daydream, jostling Rishla and Ninqua (and thus also the boat) and interrupting the sisters’ reminiscences. “You know, at this rate, I’m never going to finish your toes,” teased Rishla, giving her friend’s ankle a playful flick as she sopped up some spilled claw polish with a handkerchief.

    “I know—sorry about that… just one of my twinges… I—I’ll take one of my pastilles,” Shulma replied nervously as she began to rummage in her satchel.

    “You can take it with my canteen if you want,” Ninqua said, using her foot to pass Shulma a metal thermal bottle from the floor of the boat. Shulma opened it and took a sip to wash down her pill.

    “Thank you.”

    “Yeah, better keep some of those in your bodice on the big day, too,” put in Yhazi.

    Shulma laughed as she placed the canteen back in Ninqua’s foot. “Ah, between those and the dress pins and the hairpins, I may begin to resemble one of the thala-sirens of the legendary planet of Aha-Ch’toha!”

    Laughter from titters to guffaws arose, until Ninqua’s voice cut through with “Hey, look, everyone, we’re here!”

    * * * ​

    The lush green coast of Crystalflint Island was now visible ahead of them, while the water’s deep cobalt bled into a peyfowl’s aquamarine as it shallowed landward. Ninqua shifted the engines downward into docking gear. Rishla put the finishing touches on Shulma’s toe-claws and began fanning them to dry the polish. The others gathered their belongings—of which they had taken care not to bring too many, for their journey would involve climbing as well.

    The caretaking shaman of the pilgrimage site—a tall, thin, elderly female with thick eyeglasses—was there to meet them at the dock. She guided them to a boat slip, greeted them graciously, and guided them on a short climb of the cliff where the pilgrimage house stood, nestled in a hollow of the rock and overlooking a gemlike, half-hidden bay into which a slender waterfall played. The house was small but cozy, furnished with rich cushions and hangings, an antique two-rank foot harp (“you may play it, but only if you know how,” cautioned the caretaker), scented candles, a well-stocked bookcase, and an equally well-stocked larder. All in all, it was an ideal place for the seven women to rest and refresh themselves before going down to the beach. Shulma returned Rishla’s favor by painting her toes, and Yhazi settled into a lively game of gatherstones with Priska and Signi, while Ninqua (who was tired from piloting the boat) and Zefora (who had four young kits at home) each lay down for a long nap.

    Later in the afternoon, as a lazy gold-orange western sun glinted on Lake Flilk, they all changed into their swim attire and climbed down the cliff to the half-hidden bay. Yhazi and Rishla had their Ashla staves strapped to their backs, as they would need them later for Shulma’s immersion ritual—she had opted to perform it in its full shamanic form. That would come later, however, after some time to simply enjoy being in the water.

    The weather was pleasantly mild, and the water temperature was a perfect blend of warm and cool, being fed by thermal vents below and the waterfall above. It was truly an ideal day for a dip, and even the stressed and preoccupied Shulma found respite from her cares in lively swim races, good-natured dunkings, and spirited splash fights with her friends and future sisters-in-law. (“Heh, I guess this is our betrothal fight!” shouted Priska, sending a mighty, wavelike splash Shulma’s way. “You may be right!” Shulma rejoined, concentrating all her currents to bowl Priska over with an even mightier splash.)

    After a while, it was time for the bride’s immersion ritual. All the women climbed out of the water to allow it to return to calm. Shulma sat on a nearby rock, in meditative posture with her eyes closed, preparing herself. Yhazi and Rishla chalked wavelike glyphs on the cliff walls while Ninqua and the three sisters combed the shore and cliff for flowers, seashells, and pretty stones. Once each of them had gathered one of each, they returned to the bay with the waterfall and sat alongside.

    Yhazi and Rishla placed their focusing stones in their staves and raised them so that they glinted in the late-afternoon sunlight. Shulma moved slowly into the water, trying to create as few ripples as possible, until she stood breast-deep. Her two fellow shamans began a chant of invocation:

    “Ashla, who birthed Lasan from lightning, storm, and water,
    From whom her life and soul cascade like roaring water:
    Look on your lovely one, graceful and pure as water,
    And press her to your heart in your embrace of water.”

    Then Shulma closed her eyes, held her hands upturned before her, and spoke solemnly:

    “Deep water, womb of Lasan, I come to you as I prepare to bond my life to my love. To your waters I offer up my loneliness, sadness, hardness, bleakness. Wash them away; leave me loved, joyous, soft, bright. I plunge through you—plunge through me!”

    So saying, she drew in a deep breath and plunged underwater in a crouching position. The other two shamans watched her closely to make sure every part of her was immersed; Rishla had to use the end of her staff to push some of her friend’s long hair back underwater as it floated up. Then she and Yhazi stretched their staves toward each other so that they touched, and so that the light of their stones joined in a small, softly glowing ball of light. They held them, and the light, there as long as Shulma stayed underwater—a full four minutes, the longest most adult Lasat could go without breathing. While Ninqua watched the time on her chrono, the two shamans continued with another chant:

    “Glorious waters, glorify her!
    Luminous waters, illumine her!
    Singing waters, regale her!
    Radiant water, transfigure her—
    For her love a flowing spring, a blooming rose, a blazing star!”

    When Ninqua finally called time, Rishla touched Shulma with the end of her staff as a signal. Yhazi wrapped her with a blanket as she emerged from the water and sat on the large rock once again. Each of the other four women came forward and placed a stone at Shulma’s feet, signifying resilience and strength; a shell on her lap, signifying fertility and pleasure; and a flower in her hair, signifying wisdom and beauty. As they did, Shulma drew each woman close, touching brow ridges, and spoke words of friendship just for her:

    “Zefora, thank you so much for being here, for taking time from your family and busy life to come out to this island with me. It means so much to me, and what means even more to me is the way you have shared your wisdom and encouragement about this whole marriage business. It all feels much less overwhelming now, thanks to you!

    “Signi, I’m so glad we will be sisters! I know we haven’t had much time together before now, but I always so enjoy your good humor, your conversation, your stories. I’ve learned so much from you about this wonderful family that I’ll soon be joining—and I thank you so much for that!

    “Priska, you were the first one outside my family ever to call me sister. I remember the very day, as we were all walking back from the ruins of the Warrior. But not only that, I’m pleased to be able to call you a dear friend, I know you’ve been that to Zeb, too. I know you’ll be there for both of us the way you’ve always been there for him.

    “Ninqua, dear old friend! We have known each other so long, ever since we were kits working in Ore Processing Unit Aurek-Two during the growing-season break—and even though we ended up taking such different paths, we stuck with each other. And now here we are to share this happy time—what a wonder, what a joy! You are a joy.”

    She took her two fellow shamans aside as well:

    “Sweet Rishla, I’m so glad I know you! Ever since our first day in the initiates’ class, your compassion, your gentleness, your wisdom, and your caring heart have brightened my life. I hope you know how much sweetness and light you bring to everyone who knows you—you certainly have brought it to me! I thank the Ashla for your friendship every day—and I hope I can be the kind of friend to you that you have been to me.” (“Oh, Shulma! You are, you already are!”)

    “Yhazi, Yhazi, dear Yhazi! You’re the best! No one knows me like you, no one listens to me like you do, no one can cheer me up like you do, and no one watches out for me like you do. Ah, and no one teases me like you, either—I mean that in a good way, really, I do! Not to mention that your awesome healing talent has saved my health and sanity more times than I can count—but really, your wit and caring and friendship do that for me every day. Oh, Yhazi, you truly are the best!” (“Careful, Shulma, it'll go to my head!”)

    * * *​

    “All right, everyone! C’mere!”

    Yhazi tapped her caf cup with her spoon to get everyone’s attention. It was later in the evening, just at dusk, as they all sat in the lounge of the pilgrimage house, drinking caf, tea, or ale. It had been a full day; after they had all climbed back from the beach, the three shamans had performed the evening devotions in the courtyard of the memorial shrine, and then everyone had returned to the pilgrimage house for a dinner of spiced, pan-fried rock quail in garlicked warra nut sauce, prepared by the caretaker. (“Berura’s own recipe,” she had announced proudly.) Now they were relaxing in the lounge with the after-dinner drinks of their choice, and as Yhazi called them they came and gathered around her.

    “Shulma, you come sit over here,” said Yhazi, tapping the spot beside her on the sofa. Shulma did so, and Yhazi continued. “All right, everybody. Our friend Shulma is about to embark on that thing they call marriage, and that includes her wedding trip and, y’know, er, marital relations. It’s gonna be a bit new for her, given as she’s Shulma and all.” The others giggled; Shulma purpled a bit but smiled. “So, I put something together for her that has everything she’ll ever need on her wedding trip. And maybe after that, too. So, here you go, Shulma, this is for you.”

    Yhazi reached behind the sofa and retrieved a many-pocketed travel bag, black with a print of frolicking pittins in several shades of pink. She handed it to Shulma, who looked it over top and bottom, quizzically eyeing the whimsical design.

    “Well, thank you, Yhazi, this is—very—”

    “Go on, open it up.”

    Shulma did so, peering into the bag’s various internal compartments. One held extra hairpins and hair clips, dress pins, and basic sewing supplies. Another contained various basic toiletries and personal care necessities: soaps, lotions, hair products, toothpaste, pads, basic medkit equipment, and two full tins of the herbal pastilles that had been prescribed for her vision headaches by the Mistress of Healers at the Mount Straga academy. And the third—

    “What—exactly—is all this?” Shulma knit her brow as she pulled out and eyed several small packets, tubes, and bottles. “BloomGel? MaleEndure? Krill-Yirt GalactoGlide?…” Tittering laughs went up with each object she removed, especially from Yhazi and the married members of the group.

    “Yeah, just a few things to help everything go, ahem, smoothly.” More titters.


    “And just in case it’s helpful, there’s a little guidebook in the front pocket. With drawings.”

    “D-drawings?” Shulma opened the front pocket, purpled deeply as she peeked inside, and closed it again. “Ah… well, er… thank you, Yhazi, that’s very… thoughtful of you, and…” Her eyes fell on an adjacent side pocket over which a piece of fluorescent-pink flimsi reading “DO NOT OPEN ’TIL THE BIG NIGHT!!!” was spacer-taped. “What’s… this?”

    “Oh ho ho! I’m so glad you asked!” Yhazi exclaimed, clapping her hands. “That is something very, very special for you to wear for your strrrripey military man on your first big night together. Calculated to send him Over. The. Edge!” Now, not just laughter but also whoops and gasps of excitement went up from the others. “But it’s a surprise, so you can’t look yet.”

    “Ah,” was all Shulma could say, once again. Her face was deep violet now, but beneath her blushes lurked the glow of curiosity: about the various items in the bag, about this very special garment (she knew it must be something exceptionally beautiful and alluring)—and, of course, about her strrrripey military man himself and what her nights with him would be like. It was a curiosity she had harbored for so long—one she knew would be satisfied in less than a week’s time—but which now, thanks to Yhazi’s gift, seemed to burn brighter now than ever before. Perhaps later that night, alone, she would take a closer look at that guidebook with drawings…

    Yhazi’s voice and winking amber eyes snapped her back to the here and now. “So, whaddaya think?”

    “It’s… it’s wonderful, Yhazi. Really, it is. Thank you so much.”

    “My pleasure, my pleasure. Anything else you want, just say the word. Or have you got everything you need?”

    “Well, when you put it like that…” Shulma’s emerald eyes twinkled. “Almost.”

    “Hah, right answer, my friend.” Yhazi enveloped her best friend in a warm hug amid laughter and smiles. “Right answer, indeed.”

    to be continued

    “The legendary planet of Aha-Ch’toha”: Ahch-To, of course. I am playing with the (very fanon) idea of its being a sacred planet in the Lasat Force tradition, too.

    The Lasat foot harp is the creation of fuzzydemolitionsquad. You can see her drawing of one here.

    The rock-quail dish is based on the Georgian chkmeruli. In some versions, the garlic sauce has a base of ground walnuts, while in others it is milk-based.

    The products in the bag are all fanon, of course.

    “Something very, very special for you to wear,” “something exceptionally beautiful and alluring”: Want to know what it was? Check out Feel Safe at Night! ;)
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Crystalflint Island sounds absolutely gorgeous!! The teasing, stories about Zeb as a youngster, the immersion ritual, and the sweet words Shulma had for each of her friends. Loved it all!!!!

    The stones symbolizing different personality characteristics was especially lovely, as they accurately reflect the loveliness of Shulma's inner self, as she draws out the best and tenderest in all who know her. @};-

    Zeb's sisters have really enfolded Shulma in their loving family already. [face_love]
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  20. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Skipping back to Ch 1 for a minute:

    The Midstorm's Eve feast sounds absolutely wonderful! :D I really liked that that was the lead-in to Zeb and Shulma's announcement; it sets such a warm and cozy atmosphere.

    [face_laugh] Orrelioses -- never change! The boisterous good will of Zeb's family is such a joy. It's really nice to see how Herleva and Priska have taken to Shulma and include her in the friendly teasing. And Grandma is the resident grilling expert, that's so fun. I really enjoy the little tidbits that we learn about the various family members throughout this.

    And this part -- always enjoy Zeb being a big old mush! [face_love]

    Lovely to see Shulma's family again too, and that she has her own mushy announcement moment. Though she and Zeb could both do without the reaction from her brothers! :rolleyes: I'm glad that most of her family is welcoming of the news. Chornogar and Chornozod really messed this one up; one might ask what they were thinking but I suspect they weren't actually thinking much. :oops: It's so very rare that Shulma loses her temper, and that does seem to shock some sense into them. (A bit literally in Chornogar's case. :p)

    Exactly! =D= Zeb could have won the fight, but that's not the point in the end -- he and Shulma have both decided who is worthy of them and that should be respected. It's really good to see that Chornozod and Chornogar do start to get their act together starting here, and are able to start building bridges with their new brother-in-law.

    Chapter 3

    Agreeing with @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, Crystalflint Island sounds truly spectacular! It's really nifty that Shulma has a kind of personal connection too, through the mystic writers whose work has such importance in her life. That really seems to make it the ideal place for this meaningful time for her and the other women.

    Speaking of whom, it's great to see Rishla and Yhazi again! :D And Ninqua, who I remember from Sparks. It's really nice to know that she and Shulma stayed in contact in spite of very different lives. Priska is as awesome as ever, and I'm glad that the other Orrelios sisters came along as well. It was interesting to learn a little bit more about them.

    Ooh, cool! :cool: Very intriguing that there are multiple variations on marriage ceremonies -- it sounds like this "lightning bond" might have some sort of unexpected effect with Shulma there. (Storm-dreamer that she is and all.) But it's the ceremony that she wants, and it holds spiritual value for her. Good for her friends being prepared with the spray salts, though!

    Poor little Zeb! :p Love that the sisters recall all such incidents as having great entertainment value. There's such genuine affection in their teasing of the not-present sibling, even if they are getting a chorus of giggles out of it.

    Aww, Shulma! :( I feel bad for her having a more distant and fraught relationship with her brothers, as opposed to the easy camaraderie of the Orrelioses. Though I do get the feeling that her brothers care a great deal for her, they obviously aren't so good at dealing with or expressing emotions. (To say the least!)

    [face_rofl] A much-needed laugh, after that mystery headache -- which seems like it might have something to do with her thoughts about Zeb crying. (Another premonition? I had wondered if the island might trigger something like that, being an old pilgrimage site. Shulma does seem to be especially affected when she visits those kinds of sites sometimes. [face_thinking])

    The pilgrimage house sounds like a wonderful place to stay. The caretaker's insistence that you only play the harp if you know how sounds like it must have come from experience with guests with a tin ear. :p (Though I suppose it could just be a fragile artifact too!) Anyway, I think I like the unnamed caretaker.

    [face_laugh] Glad to see everyone enjoyed the water. I like that they were able to just be themselves and relax before starting the immersion ritual and that it's not one with as much pomp and circumstance as some of the bigger celebrations. But it's no less meaningful for that, and I found it really moving how the words and actions of the ritual helped them all demonstrate really profound caring for Shulma as she prepares for the next stage in her life. @};-

    As with the men's trip, the words of friendship component was really wonderful. Though they were all great, I ended up predictably liking Yhazi and Rishla's sections the best. They really are among Shulma's anchors, and it's lovely to see that she and they know that so well.

    FOOD! :p I knew I liked that caretaker.

    [face_rofl] Leave it to Yhazi! It's very kind and thoughtful of her, all well-meant teasing and jokes aside -- because she's not wrong, it is Shulma after all and there may be some things she'd not know to include. And I think I recall what the surprise is in the side pocket. Priceless! [face_laugh]
  21. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh! [face_love] But this was another fun and delightful update to add to such a fun and delightfully beautiful story. (I have to say that this is one of my personal favorites in the Lasan series so far - which is saying something!) This chapter was just so rife with gorgeous imagery, fantastic world-building and fanon (really, who's surprised?), and warm, genuine emotion from start to finish. Again. :p

    How lovely! This sounds like a beautiful retreat, even before your throw in the shamanic significance that Shulma no doubt has to appreciate on a spiritual level. What a perfect location to host her immersion ritual, and a great place to have a little bit of fun in the sun on the water with her friends before embarking on married life!

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    Have I mentioned that Yhazi is just my favorite, because she really is? :p [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    But, all of my love for Yhazi aside, it really was perfect how varied the personalities of all the ladies gathered, and how united they are in their love of Zeb and Shulma. [face_love]

    Ooh, interesting! [face_thinking] More enriching fanon, once again, that I can't wait to see played out in a chapter to come. This ceremony sounds beautiful, and all too perfect for Shulma and Zeb :p [face_love]

    Ha! I just adored the sisters and their anecdotes (their voices are spot on like my own two sisters, which just made me smile even wider) about Zeb and the rest of the family - even with how it sadly juxtaposes with the reticence of Shulma's own brothers. They love her, in their own way, they really do - but there's just something to be said about a goofy, gregarious family that's just good for the heart and soul. Thankfully, Shulma has been more than warmly welcomed and included in this outgoing family, now, and they've heartily claimed her as their own. [face_love]

    Oh oh oh. =(( Bittersweet seems to be the name of the game here, knowing as we do as readers that these happy, blissful days will someday come to an end. Shulma's visions can't help but portend that, of course they do, even as they promise an eventual healing to follow.

    Ha! Proof that the ladies are indeed smarter than the silly boys, and know the only proper way to throw down. [face_mischief]


    I went to quote specifics before giving up on the matter as quite hopeless. Everything was just perfect: from the symbolism of the baptism to the words that accompanied the ritual and the deep, loving bond between Shulma and all these dear women who so clearly adore her. I loved every word. [face_love] =D=

    Mmm, more delightfully delicious food! And I love how even the smallest OCs here have such a life and personality of their own!

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    Here's another scene where I was helpless to choose what, exactly, to quote. The honeymoon care package had me giggling - again - like the mature adult I am. [face_tee_hee] But, Shulma and Zeb have waited long enough to enjoy every aspect of married life, and her good friends want to make sure that goes smoothly indeed. ;)

    This incredibly sweet ending to their conversation - and the chapter - really just brought the love that they are celebrating full circle in the best of ways. Shulma almost has everything she needs, yes indeed she does. [face_sigh] [face_love]

    Mighty fine work with this update, as always! I look forward to reading the next chapter when you're ready to share! :D =D= [:D]
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for reading commenting, and enjoying! :)
    Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun combining all those aspects of the story—the setting, the rituals, the interactions among the women. That is definitely something I want to show about Shulma—that she brings out the best in everyone—so I am so glad that came through! As to her relationships with her (soon-to-be) sisters-in-law, that kind of reflects the relationship I wish I could have had with my own. =(( As always, thanks so much for reading and being here!

    Thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed that! I knew I wanted to have the announcements take place at big, happy, family gatherings—it just seemed right that way, especially for the Orrelioses with their raucous congeniality. And I thought I’d piggyback a little on the Storm Solstice and Storm’s End traditions that @Raissa Baiard and I have come up with by putting a celebration right in the middle—the way so many of our Earth holidays are organized! :)

    Thanks so much, again! It was really fun to write this and to add to the warm, wonderful family dynamic that Raissa’s already established—I really am very much piggybacking on her work whenever I write anything with those Orrelios family members. And, again, their welcoming of Shulma has wistful undertones for me, in that it’s the reception I wish I could have had from my own in-laws.

    Oh, under that big, strong, tough exterior he’s mostly just a big nuzzle cat, as we know! :D

    You’re right, they weren’t really thinking much there—it was their jealous feelings (and, I’d argue, insecurities) that were leading them more than anything else. Shulma doesn’t lose her temper often, it’s true, but when she does, she does for a very good reason—and it does tend to get the message across

    Yes, it could be the beginning of some better feelings between the parties. Ultimately, all involved are more or less reasonable Lasats, after all!

    Glad you enjoyed Crystalflint—I enjoyed writing it (and it took me some time to come up with that name, too)! I wanted her vacation site to reflect her spiritual strengths the way Zeb’s does his physical strength and courage.

    Yes, those are the very same ones! :D It was fun to bring them and Shulma [/I]and[/I] the Orrelios sisters together to bond.

    Yes, that’s right, just like here on Earth, even within the same culture or faith tradition! I have to say, this is a part I can’t wait to start writing and coming up with—I don’t yet have 100% of the details in mind, though I do know that there will definitely be effects for Shulma, given her sensitivity to the Ashla. And whatever I do end up having happen, her dear friends will truly be right beside her.

    Indeed, it all very much comes from a place of love and family cohesion, though I don’t envy Zeb for what happened! :p

    Yes, exactly, and of course different families just have different dynamics. Her family is not as emotive or outgoing as the Orrelios family, and it’s partly just their personalities, but I’d say their mining origins probably play into it, too. It does something to you to be hidden from the sunlight 8–10 hours out of the day.

    She does, and it is partly the island, but partly also the nature of what she’s thinking—and the fact that it does indeed connect to...
    …Zeb’s tears at their reunion many years later, in chapter 4 of Stand Together on the High Places. She really will get to wrap him close in her cloak! @};-

    Oh yes, that was inspired both by my own experiences and by signs on pianos in antique shops, etc., to a similar effect. :p And I like her, too! I didn’t originally plan that she would be such a presence, but she just kind of ended up that way. :)

    Thanks! It was important to me that they did just get to have some plain old fun on this trip, in addition to fulfilling the rituals—as important as those are to Shulma. I feel that both the fun and the rituals complement each other and add to the sincerity of each other, if that makes sense—the rituals aren’t just empty ones for Shulma, and her love for them stems from the same place as does her love of her friends.

    Aw, thank you! I think those two were my favorites, too, in the end, for the same reason: those two have been her most constant friends from the start.

    Oh yes, and I think all the women do, at this point! (I made that Georgian dish that this is based on once myself, too, or at least a version of it, and it really is scrumptious, if you like walnuts.)

    Yes, even though she’s turning a very dark purple at this point, Shulma does appreciate this gesture from one of her best friends. And yes, I figured you and some of the other readers here would find that surprise in the side pocket familiar! ;) Many thanks again, as always, for reading and commenting—always a joy to see you here. :)

    Gee, wow, thanks so much! That is a really touching compliment—all of them are, really—and I am so glad that you’re liking this so much! I’m really loving being finally able to write this chapter in the greater story of Zebma, too.

    Thanks! Again, I wanted her to be able to have her trip in a beautiful location that reflected all her own beauties and strengths—and to just be able to have a little fun with her friends on top of the ritual aspect of everything.

    Thanks! Yeah, she is always a hoot to write, if I do say so myself! Really, writing all these women interacting together was fun, and especially bringing together those that haven’t been together in stories before, like the shamans and Zeb’s sisters.

    Thanks so much—I have to say, I can’t wait to see how it will play out either, because I really only have some basic gestalts in mind at present, but I’m sure looking forward! Just need time, energy, and RL to cooperate...

    Oh, that’s really sweet that the sisters resonated so closely with your own experience! [face_love] As someone who has the kind of family that’s on the less effusive end of the spectrum, I do agree that there is something about the loud, goofy, gregarious kind that really is very uplifting and life-affirming. Especially when they are so welcoming to the member of the less effusive family—that makes all the difference, and it definitely makes a world of difference to Shulma as she joins this new family to her own.

    Exactly—this being Shulma, there is going to be a hint of prophecy in here somewhere. And, as you probably saw from the spoiler cut further up, this one will most certainly come true. @};-

    Yeah, if Zeb and the Trilasha brothers had had a nice splash fight, things might have been very different, indeed! :D

    Thank you so much! I always enjoy writing a nice ritual scene, as you probably know by now—it’s almost a guilty-pleasure kind of thing for me! And I’m glad that both the ritual aspects and the warmth of friendship came through; both are completely sincere, and again, both go together for Shulma.

    Thanks! :) And yes, again, this caretaker really ended up stealing certain parts of the show in the course of the writing! :D

    Aw, thanks here, too! Yes, Yhazi is another one of those characters who has the tendency to steal the show, I won’t lie. :p The care package, incidentally, is based on a similar one my cousin gave me the day before my own wedding, and it was difficult to resist working it into this scene with the women’s trip. Of course, I wanted to try to make it TOS-compliant while also getting the idea across. :p And hey, as you say, it does indeed symbolize Shulma’s friends’ sincere wishes that every aspect of her married life goes, er, smoothly! ;)

    Oh, indeed, and I am sure you can guess what who the “almost” is! And she will have him very soon, soon indeed. :zeb:

    Thank you so much, as always! I am truly honored and humbled by the love and support you’ve given these stories of mine over the years. <3 That next chapter is indeed what I’m planning to tackle next once some of the RL dust setles, and I am hoping it won’t take me too long. In the meantime, I really appreciate the way you—all of you here—have stuck it out with me, and I thank you all heartily once again! @};-
  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    All righty, new chapter time! And this is the one that features the actual wedding ceremony, so I am extra, extra super excited to be posting it. :D After this there will be one more chapter, about the wedding feast. Enjoy, everyone!

    Once again, thanks go to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading. @};-


    With brilliant purple-gold sunlight, and answering flashes of color as the wildflowers opened on the cliffs, the day arrived.

    In the ancient Captain’s House that stood atop the hill at the center of the main Honor Guard base, Captain Garazeb Orrelios rose and washed. At his washstand he combed his beard and jaw-fringe and trimmed them to precise perfection. Throwing on a long, dark purple dressing gown, he headed downstairs to the dining alcove but made sure to pass the front door, where he noticed that a small, cubical box had been delivered. He picked it up and opened it; it contained a single, large, full-blown red seerflower. Zeb set it aside while he prepared and ate his favorite quick-yet-filling breakfast of ready-made, protein-rich mealgrain waffles. When he was finished, he brought the box upstairs with him.

    Upstairs, Zeb donned his most formal uniform, buckled on his belt with the Honor Guard seal at its buckle, and affixed all his rank bars, insignia, and decorations in their proper order and position. Next came his ceremonial armor, each piece of which he checked carefully as he put it on, touching up occasional spots with a polishing cloth: chest plates, shoulder plates, wrist bracers, knee guards, and shin guards. He took his bo-rifle down from its rack, checked it over, and slung it behind him to latch into its place on his armor; next he draped the captain’s traditional wine-colored cape carefully around it and fastened it with its traditional large spear-shaped pins. Next, very carefully, he took the seerflower from its box and affixed it to the pin on his right shoulder, the one above his heart.

    Now he was all ready. The house security system was set to engage, the cleaning droid was set to run, and the luggage for the trip was already in his private speeder for later. He looked around the room once more, and his eyes fell on the bed. His bed—the large, inviting four-posted bed of the Captain’s House—where she would soon be lying beside him...

    His sensitive ears picked up the sound of vehicles outside. He looked out the open window; his official staff speeder, along with its escort of two armored swoops, had pulled up outside the front door. Middle Lieutenant Stultzfoss—Gron—saluted cheerfully up to him from the helm. “All ready, Captain?” he called.

    “Yup, comin’.” Zeb returned the gesture, and, with a twitch of his cape over his shoulders, headed downstairs.

    * * *​

    Some distance away, in the cozy attic of a cottage in the mountains, Shaman Shulma Trilasha, First Ordinary, rose, washed, and went downstairs for breakfast. No one else was in the kitchen or dining alcove, but it was not unusual for members of her family to breakfast at different times. But someone had left the box with her flower on the table for her, and as soon as she finished her simple repast of bantha milk, mealgrain, and fruit, she took it upstairs to her room and set it on the dresser.

    As she brushed out her hair, she looked around her. Her own cozy attic room, the one that had been her own private place her whole life, was a place of stark contrasts now. Hanging from a hook on one wall was the magnificent gown she would be wearing today, custom-ordered from the biggest textile depot in Lira Zel, a confection of lushly cascading layers of all shades of gold and crimson, with richly embroidered trim decorating the bodice and hem. Beside it hung the camisole, the petticoat, and the shimmering, embroidered crimson cloak that had been made for it, while a variety of necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and hair ornaments—including a brand-new shamanic ring-medallion of gold—lay at the ready on the dresser. But the dresser was bare otherwise, as were the desks, shelves, and nightstand, and packing crates stood piled all around; later they would be transported to her new home, the Captain's House at the Honor Guard base. It was finally real, and now that the place was almost empty, with everything packed up, she realized how bittersweet it was, too. Not that that would stop her from going through with it, of course—nothing could.

    After she changed from her nightgown to the camisole and petticoat, her mother—wearing a long, tailored gown of deep aquamarine fabric and several long necklaces of large colorful crystal beads—came in to help her into her gown. Amid sighs and reminiscences of her own wedding day, Yokheva Barzellati Trilasha helped her daughter carefully into the lush nest of crimsons and golds, then fastened up the many hooks and ties in back. As Shulma did up her hair in the most formal style she knew, her mother helped her ornament it with jeweled clips and hair-chains, then helped fasten on her jewelry. Next came the eardrops, the golden ring-medallion for her hair, and the cloak of shimmering, embroidered crimson. Last of all, she took a small velvoid pouch from her dresser and placed it into her bodice. It held not only the last remaining piece of her betrothal stone—a shard of red-purple kreposkolite crystal that she now also used as the focusing stone of her Ashla staff—but also a few spare dress pins and headache pills, per her friends’ advice.

    “My little gem is a bride,” her mother smiled once everything was finished, clasping her daughter's hands, “and today Lasan will take all its beauty from her.”

    Shulma smiled back, feeling her own eyes gleam. “Oh, not only from me,” she said. “Not only.”

    Then mother and daughter embraced and went down to the family speeder hand in hand.

    * * *​

    The central sanctum of the Academy of Shamans was full of light that growing-season morning. The colored glass of the windows cast jewel-like flecks of light on the ancient stone, and the entire room was festooned with colorful flowers. Arcs of chairs were set beneath the large main dome toward the front of the room, with two larger, thronelike chairs in the center and a small table between them. Lightning torches stood all around the room, their electric flames glittering gold, white, and purple: the colors of the sun, the stone, and the Lasat.

    Numerous guests were assembled, both shamans and lay Lasat. Family members and friends greeted each other with embraces and shoulder punches; elder relatives shared reminiscences and tears of joy; curious kits walked about to admire the architecture and statuary as their parents explained their meanings. There were guests of all ranks and stations: Honor Guards and Military Academy cadets in uniform, miners in the ceremonial attire of their profession, government workers of various ranks in formal attire, and townsfolk in their nicest clothing.

    Further back, in the vestibule, two processions were forming: one of ten Honor Guards—eight officers preceded by drum and shawm—and one of ten shamans, all of Second Prime through First Ordinary rank. The groups formed into two lines side by side. In the second row of the shamans’ procession, a curly-haired female with glinting amber eyes leaned over to her neighbor. “Psst—got your salt spray?”

    “Ha, still on about that, are you?” came the chuckled reply.

    “Hey, we’re talking about the girl who fell into a level-five during chant class. So, yeah, I am. Remember, dessert at the Aspyn Room on you if she faints.”

    “If you say so.”

    Just then, the stone walls rang with the thud of a staff striking the floor, followed by the high ting of a signal cymbal. In the vestibule, Guards and shamans alike snapped to attention. In the sanctum, a hush fell over the assembled guests. The doors opened, and the Honor Guards marched in to the sound of the Honor Guard hymn, played by the drum and the shawm. Once they reached the front of the room, they stopped and arranged themselves on either side of the central aisle, at attention.

    As soon as the shawm’s last note faded, the shamans entered. Ten focusing stones caught the dancing, colored light of the windows as they processed, staves held high, past the rows of Guards. They chanted as they went:

    The time of bonding has come!
    Let sun, stone, and blood rejoice
    For two vines that will twine together,
    Two stars that will merge in flame.

    Behind them came the living forebears of the bride and groom: their parents, their surviving grandparents, and Shulma’s aged great-grandmother in a hoverchair. Last came Chava the Wise herself, exuding dignity and excellence despite her small stature. She wore brocaded green and silver, and her immense bouffant hairdo was adorned with green gems. Her gnarled, ancient staff echoed on the stone floor with each step.

    When she reached the front of the room, Chava stood facing the arcs of chairs as the other shamans and the forebears arranged themselves in them. Two of the shamans went around the room to add incense to the incense chambers of the lightning torches; soon the scent of musky-sweet spices pervaded the room. Two other shamans began chalking preliminary ritual glyphs on the floor and walls. The chant continued:

    Today let Lasan herself
    Be transfigured in their union:
    Two vines will twine together,
    Two stars will merge in flame.

    When all was done, Chava turned toward the assembly and raised a hand in greeting. “Honor, greeting, and brightness to all who have come.”

    “To you honor, greeting, and brightness,” came the reply—loudly and confidently from the shamans, more tentatively from some of the others.

    “Yes, it’s true what the old chant says, isn’t it?” Chava continued, smiling glowingly. “Two stars, two vines really will be joining today, and Lasan really will shine even brighter because of it. Now, in keeping with the ancient custom, before we perform their rites, we ask the permission of those who have come before them. But I think I know what their response will be.” She winked, then turned to the parents and grandparents. “You, the clusters that have birthed these stars, the roots and branches from which the vines have sprung: do you give permission for the sacred rites of joining to be performed?”

    Various choruses of “Yes!” and “We do!” arose, from hearty Orrelios shouts to stolid Trilasha affirmations to the barely audible, quavering tones of the great-grandmother.

    “No surprise there, none at all,” Chava smiled. She turned back to the assembly, struck her staff loudly on the floor, and called out: “Then rise, and let the bridegroom approach!”

    At this, all present rose to their feet, as the lower voices among the shamans began a new chant, loud, rhythmic, and vigorous:

    He is a mighty mountain, overtowering the hills,
    He is a bristlecone, lord of the north!
    Tall, noble, and brave, he pierces the storm
    To join with his sunlight in triumph!

    Zeb came forward: Captain Garazeb Orrelios, magnificent in his full ceremonial uniform and armor and cape, head and shoulders upright in the bearing of a true commander. With keen leaf-green eyes he surveyed the room around him as he went; the red flower at his shoulder seemed to glow in the infiltering sunlight. As he passed through the double column of his troops, he saluted each of them; they saluted back, and, once he was past, turned to march behind him in two lines to the front of the room. There, he stopped before Chava, standing within a sunlike circular glyph on the floor. The other Guards arranged themselves in an arc facing the shamans.

    Chava touched Zeb on the arm with her staff. “Now, call your bride!”

    “Right.” Zeb cleared his throat and called out in a booming voice: “Come, my love, my chosen one, for our joy is at hand, and… er… and I join to be burned to you—no, wait, I burn to be joined to you. Er, yeah, that’s it.”

    If there had been any stifled laughter from the Honor Guards (and particularly from one tall, gangly young lieutenant with a full head of hair), it went unnoticed. There certainly was a smile from Chava. But it went barely noticed, too, in the face of the light and loveliness that now filled the room.

    For Shulma now entered.

    A radiant vision shimmering in red and gold shades and sparkling with jewels, she walked alone through the center of the astonished guests—or, rather, seemed to float more than walk. The eyes of shamans, Guards, and guests alike were riveted on her, but none more so than the leaf-green eyes of her bridegroom (who didn’t care whether or not anyone noticed the “karabast!” he breathed). Nearer and nearer she came, slowly but confidently, her emerald eyes returning his steady gaze. A single female voice chanted:

    I am a garden in the growing season,
    newly blooming, tender and lovely.
    My flowers unfurl toward my sun
    on the slopes of Lira San.
    Adorn me, gentle Ashla,
    for my day of joy.

    Finally she stood beside him, in the circular glyph adjacent to his. Bride and bridegroom faced each other, and it was in that moment that he noticed that she, all along, had been the one chanting.

    They each put one hand forward so that their fingers interlaced and one foot forward so that their toes interlaced. Rishla, Yhazi, and the other shamans used their chalking sticks to add to the glyphs surrounding them; they stood motionless amid it all, fixed on each other, in awe of each other’s beauty and presence. The higher shamanic voices took up the chant:

    She is a garden in the growing season,
    newly blooming, tender and lovely.
    Her flowers unfurl toward her sun
    on the slopes of Lira San.
    And the Ashla herself has adorned her
    for her day of joy.

    Chava came forward. “Our beloved Garazeb and Shulma have come today to be joined in the bond of marriage,” she said. “It is not a simple bond, nor one that is complete in a single gesture. But their promises to each other, which in a moment they will utter according to ancient custom, are the first gesture, on which all the others stand. Bring the document of the promises, please.”

    She gestured to Rishla, who replaced her chalking stick in a socket set into the floor and brought over an elaborately calligraphed and illuminated parchment document, which she held up so that both bride and groom could see.

    Chava turned to Shulma. “Now, your stone, please.”

    Shulma produced it from her bodice. Its red-iridescent facets sparkled in the sunlight.

    “Place it between your hand and his.”

    She did so.

    “Today,” Chava then declaimed, “the fourth of the Second in the high growing season, at noonday, the bride, ai Shulma ai Vizuli kh’se’-Yokheva-ghe’ Trilasha, said to her bridegroom, ai Garazeb ai Avishai kh’sa’-Nerezeb-ga’ Orrelios, these words.”

    Shulma spoke, following the words on the parchment:

    “Ai Garazeb Avishai Orrelios! With all my heart, might, and spirit I make these solemn promises: to honor you, cherish you, support you, and protect you, always and everywhere. You forever, you and none else. You I gather to myself, to you I give myself, to you I plight eternal troth. Let our spirits bond as one.”

    “And the bridegroom, ai Garazeb ai Avishai kh’sa’-Nerezeb-ga’ Orrelios, said to his bride, ai Shulma ai Vizuli kh’se’-Yokheva-ghe’ Trilasha, these words.”

    Zeb cleared his throat and said:

    “Ai Shulma Vizuli Trilasha! With all my heart, might, and spirit I make these solemn promises: to honor you, cherish you, support you, and protect you, always and everywhere. You forever, you and none else. You I gather to myself, to you I give myself, to you I plight eternal troth. Let our spirits bond as one.”

    There was silence for a few moments. The two spouses stood still, feeling the kreposkolite betrothal stone within their hands. It seemed to vibrate and glow, though none but they could perceive it. Chava smiled as she stretched out her hands and spoke:

    “Garazeb and Shulma, now that your promises have bonded you together as husband and wife, we call upon the Sacred Light to seal that bond in resplendence and joy. And how fitting that we have here today not one but two kinds of Guardians of the Sacred Light—the shamans of our Academy, and also those who serve our High Honor Guard”—she gestured toward the line of Guards—“who wield that light in the protection of our homeworld, and now offer it as tribute to their commander on his wedding day.

    “So, now I call Garazeb and Shulma to come forward—don’t forget the stone, you’ll need it—as well as those they have chosen as supporters.”

    Zeb and Shulma walked forward together, still holding the stone between them. Slowly, together, they placed the stone on the small table between the two chairs; its red-iridescent gleam was still strong. They separated and sat down. Yhazi and Rishla came forward from the row of shamans to stand on one side of Shulma, and Groz and Shai came forward from the row of Honor Guards to stand on one side of Zeb. A few of the shamans came over with chalking sticks and began to draw an intricate pattern of lightning-like rays on the floor around the two chairs, radiating and crisscrossing from them until they reached the line of Guards on one side and the line of shamans on the other. All the while, Chava stood still between the spouses, holding her staff.

    “Ready your hands,” she said, once all the glyphs were finished. Zeb and Shulma interlaced their hands and laid them over the stone. He looked over at her, his leaf-green eyes wide with nervous anticipation. Her emerald eyes merely gleamed back.

    Chava nodded. A signal cymbal sounded somewhere in the vast room. A low, slow, mystical chant began. The shamans readied their staves. On the Honor Guards’ side of the room, an officer called out a series of commands—“Bo’-ra’ prestá’i!—Bo’-ra’ rová’i!—Bo’-ra’ bo’atá’i!—Bo’-ra’ kov’damá’i!”—as he and his comrades drew their bo-rifles and opened them from collapsed mode to rifle mode to staff mode and finally to their full length in the manner of the ancients. At the next signal cymbal, both guards and shamans struck their respective staves on the ground, softly but firmly; lightning contacts crackled, focusing stones glittered, and light began to move slowly, streamlike, along the chalk lines toward Zeb and Shulma.

    Chava made the sign of the Triangle over Zeb and Shulma’s hands. She struck and raised her own staff, causing its stone to glow, then began this invocation:

    “Sovereign Ashla of all being, spirit beyond all spirits: pour out your light upon this bride and this bridegroom, who have promised themselves to each other here before their loved ones and all Lasan. Their promises have bonded them as one; it is you whom we now entreat to make that bond eternal.” The chanting grew louder, and the flowing light on the chalk brighter, as she spoke. “Bless them with your wisdom, your wholeness, and your peace all the seasons of their lives. And just as you shall now fill them with your light, may their love and faithfulness fill Lasan with light.”

    The light along the chalk lines was very bright now, almost firelike, and the chanting swelled and louder and louder, singing of the Sacred Light, its eight strengths, and its soul-piercing energy. Shulma and Zeb’s hands gripped each other and the betrothal stone tighter, feeling its vibrating thrum. Another signal cymbal sounded. Chava’s focusing stone flashed wildly as she raised her staff high and called out:

    “Now, come, Sacred Lightning!”

    All the staves and bo-rifles struck together in a single, thunder-like crack. The room was filled with a white-golden blaze as they hurled their energy forward to meet in a blazing sunburst in Chava’s stone. Chava lowered her staff onto Zeb and Shulma’s hands, and the lightnings coursed down it, through them, into them.

    And kept coming and coming, from the staves, from the rifles, through Chava’s staff, into their hands, their bodies, their whole being…

    * * *​

    Zeb shuddered and twitched and clenched his teeth. Karabast, if this was that Sacred Light she was always talkin’ about… Not that it exactly hurt hurt—takes more than a few flashin’ lights to hurt an Honor Guard—but kark if it didn’t feel kinda… weird, all that electrical energy cracklin’ through him like he was a bo-rifle himself. But hey, maybe that was kind of the point? He was an Honor Guard, after all. And he knew this whole lightning bond thing was important to her, so he’d go through with it, for her.

    He squeezed her hand. It felt nice and warm and soft, and if he focused on that, the lightning didn’t feel quite so bad.

    * * *​

    Shulma’s whole being throbbed and thrilled as the luminous energy coursed through her. Oh, the beautiful pain, oh, the searing bliss of being the Ashla’s living focusing stone! But this time, somehow, it was larger, grander, more terrible—altogether more—than any of the ecstasies with which the Ashla had ever blessed her. And why? Because this time he was with her, and the Ashla’s energy was joined with the thrill of being near him. And yet it tore into her, and she staggered under it, feeling the light overtake her and her consciousness losing hold—

    —and a faint voice in the distance was saying something about spray salts, and another familiar voice answered it with a laugh—

    —and just then his strong, warm hand squeezed hers, and it was balm.

    * * *​

    Zeb and Shulma blinked as the room came slowly back into focus. All was calm now. The light was once again the normal, natural light of the sun and the torches; all the staves were at rest, all the bo-rifles stowed. Groz, Shai, Yhazi, and Rishla were nearby, offering them water to drink and moist cloths to cool their brow ridges; Shulma placed the betrothal stone back in her bodice. Chava looked on, holding her staff once again and smiling broadly. After giving the bride and groom a few moments to come to themselves, she said:

    “Rise, ai Garazeb, ai Shulma!”

    They did so and came before the elder shaman, hands joined. Chava raised her staff with one hand and traced the Triangle over the new spouses with the other as she said:

    “By the action of the Ashla and the energy of Lasan, you are now husband and wife! Celebrate with a kiss!”

    And they did, joyfully, lingeringly, their striped arms and crimson capes enfolding each other amid their loved ones’ cheers and a final, triumphant chant:

    Light and joy be yours, O dear ones,
    Light and joy and blessing!
    Light and joy be yours, O bright ones,
    Many seasons, always!

    “The bride… said to the bridegroom”: Similar locutions are used in the traditional Jewish ketubah (marriage contract).

    Shulma’s entry chant borrows imagery from the Georgian hymn “Shen khar venakhi” (You are a vineyard), also sometimes associated with weddings.

    The bo-rifle commands are my fanon and previously appeared in Light of Lasan, chapter 6.

    The sacral gesture of the Triangle is the creation of @Raissa Baiard. See our Lasat fanon post.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo on the richness, the grandeur, the poetic words! This is the crowning jewel of all the Garashul stories leading up to this moment. =D= ^:)^
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  25. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh but this was PERFECT! [face_love]

    I know, at least for me personally - and I imagine that you felt much the same - that it's SO HARD to write such an important milestone for such beloved characters. Because you want everything to be Just So and hit Just Right. This did; though that certainly came as no surprise for your readers!

    I loved how these two opening scenes mirrored each other. I was looking for specific quotes, but here and throughout most of this, all of your attention to detail really paid off in your prose. It was just so seamless and lovely. No one passage really shone above the rest because it was all so wonderfully written. I really enjoyed their mutual preparations, but this detail, especially, struck me. This really is a milestone, in every way. [face_love]

    [face_love] [face_love]!!

    I grinned like an absolute idiot, pretty much from here on out.

    Zeb! [face_love] Perfect in character moment was perfectly in character. :p

    But this was a great quote for me to pause and say how much I just loved this; all of this. The procession and the chanting and the symbolism and symmetry in the ritual - *blows chef's kiss* all came together so beautifully!

    I loved all of the poetry in the incantations, and the symbolism in the vines and lights and stars, but there was something about this verse that really struck me. And then to find out that it's Shulma chanting. [face_love] Her entrance was breathtaking - just like every bride wants to be! And especially in Zeb's eyes.

    I LOVED how this scene really highlighted how Zeb and Shulma both are connected to the Ahsla and defined by their service to Lasan, and thus to each other, each in their own way. But this moment of Zeb seeing the Sacred Light firsthand, as Shulma sees it, was just perfect. (I know, how many times can I say perfect in one review? :p)

    Gorgeous! And Zeb's hands in hers being the thing that grounds her and holds her steady??? Just beautiful. [face_love]

    [face_love] [face_love] [face_love]

    *insert all of the positive adjectives here*

    Bravo! Really, I can't say enough, what a wonderful job you did giving life to such an important moment in Zeb and Shulma's relationship. I enjoyed every word more than I can say, and look forward to the conclusion of this fic. [face_love] =D=