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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Amadea watched herself in the mirror as her attendants prepared her for her wedding. She had never considered herself to be beautiful, but the gown that her father had ordered made by the Imperial Seamstress made Amadea realize just how very good the woman was at her craft. The gown made her feel like she was the legendary beauty who had captured the eye of three of the great Gods, causing them to fight over her until the day she died. As gruesome as that sounded, the woman apparently lived a happy life, and Amadea hoped she would be able to claim the same someday.
When they were done, Amadea also wore some lightly applied substances that enhanced her eyes and lips, causing such a subtle change that Amadea would have accused them of using magic to make her beautiful if she hadn't been watching them every moment.
"You have such inherent beauty," the maids complimented her. "Are you naturally this tan?"
Amadea studied her skin tone. It was a golden honey/amber, same as her hair and eyes. "I guess I am."
"You have liquid gold in your eyes and hair as well," the Seamstress commented as she inspected every last inch of the dress to ensure it fit properly. "Is that not a sign of divine parentage?"
This stunned Amadea, come to think of it, it was, but how could that possibly be? Her mother had been as mortal as her father.
"Don't take her too seriously, Imperial Highness, she has an infamous sense of humor."
"As did I," Zira chimed in seriously, "but I think she may have a point."
"Zira, don't encourage them," Amadea chided. "My parentage is very human."
There was a knock at the door, and the Emperor entered. "Are you ready? It's time."
Amadea thought of Zephyr, whom she hadn't seen since her father had shooed everyone out of the room the night of her battle with the monster. She smiled brilliantly in anticipation. "Yes, very."
"Amadea, you are much too easy to read, people will take advantage of you," her father warned.
Amadea didn't think this was such a bad thing, and her eyes flashed with impish humor. "How so father? Apparently my parentage is divine, and I need not fear such things."
"Who told you that?" The Emperor frowned in disapproval. "It's simply not true. Your mother was a meek and gentle, well bred lady – not a Goddess – and I certainly-"
"Oh father! I'm only joking. Please escort me down the aisle now. If I have to wait any longer I shall perish!" Amadea stated dramatically.
The Emperor rolled his eyes. "We can't have that, can we?" He offered his arm, then escorted her to the door of the Palace Temple. The ceremony had been underway for an hour already, with a priest and priestess making offerings to all of the Gods, and asking for their blessings for the marriage.
Zephyr, Notus, and another man who had been chosen as a groomsman had entered the room about ten minutes ago to allow time for Zephyr to receive blessings on behalf of all of the Gods before Amadea entered.
Lillian was waiting for Amadea, and smiled at the sight of her. "You look so beautiful!"
"Thank you," Amadea demurred.
"I am so happy to be here! Life in the convent can be so boring at times," Lillian informed them.
"Which God is your convent dedicated to?" Amadea asked.
"The virgin," Lillian replied.
"Of course." Amadea cast a shaming look at her father, who ignored her.
Suddenly, the music changed, and the bridal party stood in formation. The doors to the temple opened, and Lillian began to walk down the long aisle. She was met halfway by the groomsman, and escorted the rest of the way to the dais. As soon as Lillian's hand had been placed upon the groomsman's arm, Zira began her walk down the aisle. As Maid of Honor, she was partnered with King Notus, who was best man.
At last, it was Amadea's turn to walk, escorted by her father. They did not meet Zephyr half way, but at the foot of the dais. Here the priest asked the Emperor if he had any concerns he would like to address. This was only a part of a wedding ceremony when a future Empress was being married, and even then, only if her father was still alive to do so.
"Yes. Zephyr, before you take my daughter's hand in marriage, do you swear to me, - before all of these witnesses, and the Gods – that you will not abuse the title of Emperor Consort, and that you will do your best to ensure that the Empire will not suffer under my daughter's reign?"
If Amadea hadn't been expecting this, she would have gasped in outrage. As it was, she was taking purposeful breaths to keep from protesting the second half of this question.
Zephyr gave each statue of a God a brief look, then turned to answer the question. "I swear, bound by the Gods, that I will not consciously abuse my title as Emperor Consort, and that I will work with Amadea to ensure the continued peace and prosperity of the Empire to the best of our abilities."
The Emperor sighed. He had hoped that Zephyr would promise to protect Amadea from the ideas of her gender, but knew that Zephyr had actually given the best, most diplomatic, and easiest to keep promise he could, considering that he was being bound by the Gods. "I hereby accept you as worthy of being my daughter's Consort, and wish you both a long, wise, prosperous, and happy reign, when the time comes." He kissed Amadea on the cheek, and placed her hand in Zephyr's.
Amadea had been radiating happiness all day, but suddenly her glow intensified sharply, and Zephyr began to glow also. Amadea heard her father mutter, "Must they always do that?" and chuckled.
The head priest and priestess stared at the couple in awe for a few moments, then cast matching spells to filter some of the glow out of their vision. Finally, they proceeded, moving directly into the vows since Amadea had been blessed in a private ceremony the prior evening.
Amadea and Zephyr stared at each other as if the world had disappeared, and both heard the ceremony as if from a distance, reciting their lines as prompted. Soon, they were given the option of simply kissing and adjourning to the awaiting feast, or proceeding to the temple's consummation chamber. The tradition of consummating in the chamber was older than the Empire, but had been considered optional for the last hundred or so years since the chamber allowed the act to be witnessed by both the Gods and the public, or at least those who had been allowed into the Imperial Temple.
The couple only heard the word kiss, and eagerly complied. They may well have floated into the consummation chamber if it hadn't been for screams emanating from the crowd outside the temple.
       Zira had run to investigate, and came back moments later. "Amadea! Zephyr! There's an infestation of imps outside!"

Go To Chapter 12 

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