It started just before dusk, but many had come a day in advance to prepare.
This wedding was to be huge.
This wedding was to make history.
And he was bored.
Sa’di raked his shocking blue eyes over the finishing touch-ups. The setting was outside the village’s borders in a vibrant green and grassy meadow. He could see several crops check-boarding the west and some kind of stock dotting the east. A green wall of forest closed off the north. A wry smile spread his lips. He remembered the stories of the few times their army tried to pierce this forest to crush the heart of this clan. They never reached their destination – they barely entered the barky curtain without a powerful front opposing them just on the other side. But that was long ago, before Sa’di himself was born. Now . . . Now both the clans were uniting on the other side of the forest. He snickered. It was too funny.
Sa’di glanced back to the wedding. A long aisle of unlit torches with piles of flowers at the bases led down through what would be the entire audience then circled a small and lifted wooden stage. Poles dug around the stage and cream silks linked their tops, crowning the stage where this union would happen. A beautiful red rug dominated the center of the stage, gold trimmed and tasseled the edges and several astonishing threads patterned the rug itself. Saba, the leader and grandfather of the bride, and the bride’s mother made it themselves. It was one of the many gifts given to a new household. He was told the rug was for good luck and many children. Sa’di grinned. He was also told it was tradition in his clan that the bride and groom were to stay on the stage all night and sleep on the rug together. It was either to soak up that good luck or to give it their first spirit of a new couple. He briefly wondered the expression the bride had when she was first told of this arrangement . . . Sleeping on a blood-red rug with your supposed enemy . . . His grin widened. What he wouldn’t give to go back in time and laugh at her face.
Knots and throngs of people bustled about with filled platters, cushions, more silks and decorations, clay guardians to ward off evil, and so many other things and foodstuffs that Sa’di could not recognize or keep track of. He wondered how long it took the two clans to work together on this massive project. It didn’t take him long to seek out the two planners, one from his clan and another from the other. The General of the Army took it upon herself to drive her workers to get used with close distances of the hosting clan. Sa’di bet it took her a few hours to wipe off the suspicious glances and tensed shoulders. Now she was bellowing at the other planner who reflected his own frustration in loud tones. They gestured wildly in opposite directions, their arguments overlapped each other. What they were bickering over, Sa’di couldn’t tell. Then Joktan, good old peace-making Colonel Joktan, strode up to the two and pointed to the assembly that had just landed with a few words. Saba was here, as well as the bride. The general dismissed the colonel then strode to the flock of wyverns. The other planner ran off, most likely to inform his own leader or leaders.
It was true. He had just landed with the bride in a flock of wyverns. The bride had taken the trip slow and often issued many unnecessary breaks. Sa’di glanced to the grey male, a solid and scrolled carriage perched upon his back with wide straps lacing about his chest and belly. A door opened on the side and a frail, hunched body emerged out of the inside curtain. His grandfather, Saba, gripped his gnarled root cane in a leathery brown hand and pressed his blue shawl closer with his free hand. The general stepped up and eased the old man’s journey down the lowered belly of the beast. Saba patted the creature and nodded his thanks. The door of the carriage slammed shut – the bride was less than pleased today. The old man shook his head gently and set off at a painfully slow pace, with the cane poking the ground before every step he made. Sa’di guessed he intended to greet the hosting clan’s leader before anything else. Sa’di made himself scarce then, moving from the near front of the assembly to the very back.
He didn’t want to be seen nor was he in the mood for company that Saba would have him endure. Besides, the bride wasn’t to know he was here. She had forbidden Saba to let her cousin – her half-blooded and poorly disciplined cousin – to witness her wedding. Yet Saba had done the exact opposite. He was here to make sure this marriage went on as planned until she vowed herself to some nit-wit. And then . . . after this marriage . . .
He would be free!
But first, he had to get rid of his darling. He wasn’t supposed to be here and Morg was a big and clear sign of his presence. Morg – like all the other females of the wyvern race – was twice the size of a male which stood at fifteen feet at the most and thirty in length. But she kept to the ground behind another female (they only had three females in their flock. They are hard to capture in the wild and far more aggressive than their male counterparts.). She was blonde with a black stripe running from the base of her head down to her tail where the very end was pure black. She purred at the sight of him and smiled with a friendly bare of her needle teeth and purple gums. Sa’di chuckled and ruffled some feathers on her cheek. Her muzzle was scaled as well as the bottom of her neck and belly, the rest of her was covered in thick feathers. Two sets of horns crowned her heavy head. One curled around her strong jaws like a rams, the other reached for the sky like antlers. She had no saddle, he rode her bare-back here, but a pile of bundles and a bag lay next to her. They held his ceremonial clothes.
“I need you to leave now.” Sa’di said, giving her a kiss above a cave-like nostril. There was a low growl and a click from her throat, and her brown eyes slanted at him. “Come back in the morning, my dear. We’ll be free by then.” He patted her scaly muzzle then stepped back. She tossed her head and pushed herself up by her wings, they worked as two limbs: her front legs and her wings. Her claws at the mighty joint of her wings tore the grasses as she turned about. Her pale companion snorted and followed her lead. It wasn’t long until the two wyverns took off, the off-white covering the yellow from any eyes in shadows. Sa’di watched until they became a speck then disappeared altogether. He oddly felt whatever was left of his freedom vanish with her.
Always In My Head
The Behemoth Redwood Strider waddled across the plains. It was a massive lizard with jowls and claws on all four of its paws, bigger than most of the Jabari's people's huts. Its thick tail dragged along the high grass and smashed the vegetation into a long flat line.
Ankoma and his parents rode the beast in a litter fastened to its back. His father sat on a wicker throne with his head leaned back and his eyes closed as two small servant girls fanned him with straw woven fans in the shape of leaves. His blonde mane swayed from side to side as the girls alternated their gust of air.
His mother sat beside him with red rimmed eyes and a hand clasped around wooden prayer beads. She wept most of the night and spent most of the morning criticizing her husband for arranging this marriage. It was a deal with the devil! So many died by their hand and now her heiress son was to take that hand in matrimony. Kyan silenced her with a sharp slap across the face and she remained silent even now.
Ankoma watched the horizon as the staging of the wedding came into view. He didn’t share his mother’s anxiety. His best choice for a wife would be the daughter of a wealthy herder who contributed most of the meat that served the village during the winter season with his salting technique he kept a secret from the other butchers. Why would he take that over an opportunity to rule over two clans? No, he would be the greatest Jabari leader in the history of his clan and they will sing his name for hundreds of generations!
When the Redwood Strider stopped and lowered itself to its belly, the servant girls scrambled to push over the wooden ramp that reached the ground below. Jabari clansmen broke away from the preparations to greet their leader. They lined up on either side of the ramp, stamping their feet, chattering and whooping.
When Kyan appeared and raised his hands to the sky, even the few who remained at their tasks called up a mighty cheer. The servant girls produced thick drums and they bellowed out a rhythm the tribe’s Headsman marched down the ramp to. He allowed several of his people to touch his hand and even kissed the cheek of a child who hopped up and down at the sight of him.
Dalila took her son’s arm and kissed his cheek, holding his chin with her hard hands. Ankoma shrugged off the fur poncho and allowed it to gather at his feet, exposing his broad chest and rippled abdomen. He didn’t wear a mane as his father since he had not earn that right yet. Instead his auburn hair was short to expose his ears and he wore a neatly trimmed beard. He carried the silver ax gifted to him by his soon-to-be father-in-law, hooked to his belt. His ceremonial hide skirt bore bells than jingled as he descended to the ground.
“Where is the woman?” his father demanded. “Let this marriage begin! I give you my best son!” He roared with laughter, obviously enjoying this chance at peace in such a fantastic manner. There’s nothing Kyan Jabari liked more than a feast and celebration. One could tell that by the size of his belly.
((I don't have a picture, sorry. I'll try my best to describe him.))
Saba smiled and chuckled at the enthusiastic greeting the Jabari clan had for their Headsman. He personally did not care for such an entrance as it ached his ears. Thankfully, the arrival of Kyan Jabari forced the many people from his clan to bustle faster before the leaders reached their respective seats close to the wedding stage. Saba slowly trailed to the gathering, halting just before the end of the excited Jabari clansmen with Faixa, his general, whom stood at his side strongly.
Unlike Saba’s quite plain robes of blue and white, Faiza wore a beautifully rich tunic with dark flowing pants that disguised themselves as a long skirt ending above her sandaled feet. Saba had ordered no rankings among his people; the army’s colonels and generals and captains were to come as respectful citizens to witness the union.
“Kyan Jabari!” Saba greeted once he was sure he would be heard. His voice was weakening with his body. “What a beautiful night, is it not?” He tapped a few paces down the rows of the Jabari clan to not appear rude for making the hosting leader meet him on his own land. Faiza stayed back.
“It is lovely to see your beautiful family.” Saba brought his fore and middle finger to his third eye in respect. Faiza repeated the gesture with a chest level bow. “I’m afraid we are a cautious people and the mother is suspect of spirits upon us. She had requested an old tradition, which I have respected. The bride will not be seen until the time has come lest some kelpie steals her.” He paused to draw in a deep breath. “But I am sure it will not be long for us to gaze our new future.”
He paused again. A jovial spark glittered his black eyes under his heavy and bushy grey brows. A genuine smile wrinkled his cheeks and nose. “I have a small favor to ask. A wish from an old man seeing off his granddaughter . . . Would your son be so kind to let me look on the new couple as they walked down the audience together?”
Sa’di heard the cries and whoops, but he didn’t have the time to sate his curiosity. He had to get ready and soon. The young man scooped up his bundles and swung the pack on his leather bound shoulder then set off. Much to his surprise he came across tents just off to the side of the entire union, so he wouldn’t have to dress in public. Not that he minded stripping before many eyes (the army cooled that worry off quickly, and he was a natural nudist at home), but the last few days he had scared too-young maidens into squealing and stampeding pigs. Of course, they were stampeding away but he earned quite the lectures from Saba . . .
A hand suddenly gripped his free shoulder, shocking Sa’di back to reality.
“Use that one.” A voice he knew all too well said, and Joktan’s hand pointed to a tent just yards away. Before Sa’di could say his thanks, Joktan marched on. He, too, had to dress up it seemed. With a shrug, Sa’di strode to the tent and slipped inside. There was nothing useful inside, only the basic necessities for a few men to sleep comfortably. He had hoped there would be a mirror to show if he were tying the knots correctly and wearing the clothes properly. Oh, well, he mused as he set his things down and tousled his silvery ash hair that he cut short himself. He was great at improvising, he thought as he let his loincloth fall from his light olive hips.
Always In My Head
((Don't worry about the pic. When I make a new character I find a picture for inspiration and just share it with my RPing partners. It's not needed otherwise.))
Kyan bowed his head in response, but did not share their traditional greeting, more out of ignorance than anything else. Instead, he clasped the wide belt wrapped around his massive belly. "Yes, yes... My woman is frightful too. I suppose it is proper considering the history we are laying to rest tonight."
Dalila gripped her son's arm, her knuckles turning white. Ankoma grimaced as her nails dug into his arm, but he did not move to displace her. She was his mother and he understood her worries despite his consoling words.
Kyan leaned in close as Saba spoke to hear him speak. He considered the man's request for only a second before he nodded with his chin jutting out. "I have no arguments. You only must sit with me at the feast table and we will discuss the many strong grandchildren our ghet will produce!" He guffawed, throwing his head back. "Ah, what a joyous night this is..."
He turned from side to side waving his hands at the bystanders. "Off with the lot of you. You're work is not finished!"
As the clansmen disbursed with an excited murmer, Ankoma approached with his mother at his side. The heir of the clan touched his forehead in the same way Saba did and bowed at the waste shallowly as not to pull away from his mother. "I look forward to meeting my bride, father Saba. I have been eager all day."
Kyan slapped his son on the back. "The boy hasn't eaten at all! I suspect he'll retch his meal from nerves once it's all done." Dalila cleared her throat as a warning and recieved a withering look from her husband.
((Ah. And to make things clear, Saba is the grandfather of the bride and Sa’di.))
Saba bobbed his in agreement. “Yes, yes. Of course. It would an honor to sit with you.” He laughed light and heartily in joy as Ankoma reflected their greeting.
“My dear boy,” he said to Ankoma, “I would be your grandfather. Sadly, my sons perished by my blindness. But, please, do not be nervous.” He returned his attention to Kyan. “I’m afraid my joints are old and no longer supportive as they were before. I must sit soon and for the rest of the night. Do you mind terribly if I take your offer now and sit at this table of yours?”
Always In My Head
"Oh yes!" Kyan responded as he approached Saba with opened arms. "I might carry you if it should ease your burden."
"That won't be necessary," Dalila interrupted with an icy tone. "You are not a horse, husband."
Kyan made a sour face. The two had always been at odds since their arranged marriage. The only thing that kept them from killing each other was their children. He glared at the white haired woman from the corner of his eye, but quickly smiled at Saba.
"I suppose that may have been disrespectful, my fellow Headsman. Shall I escort you."
Ankoma stepped forward, finally releasing his mother who crossed her arms beneath her bare sagging breasts. "Allow me, father. You and mother must dress for the ceremony."
Kyan slapped the his son so hard in the back that the young man stumbled forward a step. "Good boy! Yes, you're right. Come, wife! We must be attended too!" He turned and offered his elbow to Delila, but she turned on her heels and walked away without him.
The Headsman's face turned pink and his jowls trembled as he marched after her.
Ankoma turned his frown into an apologetic smile as he returned his attention to his future grandfather-in-law. "You'll forgive my parents, bwana Saba. It has been a trying day for both of them." He offered the old man his elbow.
"I hope the ceremony begins soon," he admitted. "To have out clans unite after so many years of feuding will be a jubilation for the ancestors. I look forward to learning more of your customs by my wife's teachings."
Saba nodded slowly, caressing his twisted grey beard with a few fingers and his smile flittered down to a slight frown. He watched carefully between Kyan Jabari and his wife, noting his concerns he had before from husbands of this clan. He then turned to Ankoma as Kyan Jabari marched off. He took his offered elbow and set forth on his slow pace, Faiza trailed just behind on his left.
“Aye, it has been tiring for everyone.” He said with another slow nod. “But by the time I sit down, the wedding would most likely have already begun.” He chuckled. “My dear boy, I hope you learn more than our customs. We do many things that are not considered . . . customary. Let me begin your lessons.”
He gestured to Faiza who stepped up in Ankoma’s view and once again touched her forehead. “This is Faiza, my general. While I do stand as Headsman, there are certain parts of my clan I cannot think of all day long. I rule the households, she rules the soldiers, and Karim rules our gold. Your wife would not have told you that as she would say the Headsman rules over everything. It is not so.” He breathed in deep, and Faiza watched him carefully as she stepped back behind him. He exhaled shallowly. “But today she is my babysitter, is that right Faiza?”
“I am whatever you want me to be. But I will be looking after your health, Sahib.”
“Bah!” His nose crunched up and his brow crinkled in mock annoyance. “I am quite sure you have things to finish here, my dear. Go, go on. I will be fine.” There was a hesitation in the other then Faiza nodded sharply and picked up her speed. Soon, her proud figure was lost in the distance in the sea of rushing clansmen.
“Good.” Saba sighed as he watched her go. “Now we can talk in peace and quiet. I have many worries, my boy. But one most of all penetrates me. It is about your children, my great grandchildren.” He halted then and stared Ankoma in the eye. There was no joy in his black eyes, only a grave seriousness. “Out of this marriage, I hope for peace and to continue my line of an old way, which you have come to know as magic. I hope your children will have that ability. But I must have you promise me.” He paused to drag in another heavy breath.
“I am old, that is no lie. I fear I will not live to see your children. But you must promise whatever strange things come from your child, do not punish them, do not fear them. You must promise to send a message to my clan; if I live I will come and train them myself. If not, Medea’s cousin (yes, your wife. That is her name.) will come himself. Ankoma,” Saba closed his eyes and turned his head away. He continued their slow walk and his grip on the man’s arm tightened. “Ankoma, you must understand this. This magic can be dangerous and can be shown in many ways at any age, some once they come into this world. Some have even lost themselves to it . . .” A sharp pain and dreadful hurt flashed across his wrinkled face as a particular memory of his wife and second son surfaced then died in his mind. “I want it continued because it must not be forgotten. You must promise to send for my household the moment something has been seen as odd or even frightening. Do you promise this to me, Ankoma?”
Always In My Head
Ankoma considered the old man curiously. Did he think the Jabari were barbarians? If anything, their regard for their children was of the highest standard. Tradition laid out roles for individuals, but there had been times when one or another fit a different role better. No one had ever been chastised for being different. Even he had become something other than what his father wanted.
Kyan had envisioned his last son to be a great bard. The oral tradition was sacred and ensured the continuance of history and knowledge. Songs told stories of old and dance was an expression of the ancestors. Ankoma on the other hand had a poor memory and lacked rhythm. He was better suited for physical labor; working in the fields, training for battle, and sky riding. His elder brother suited the bard role best and so their destinies were adjusted.
It was to be expected that Saba would not know this. "You have my word, bwana. The next generation will be well cared for how ever necessary. We are aware of your people's abilities, although it's mostly known in stories or rumor. I confess I have not witnessed it myself, nor has anyone close to me. I would not fault a child for being what he is."
He lead the old man to the table and sat beside him, watching the people continue to work. For a long moment he was silent and then he stirred. "Loyalty runs deep in our blood," he offered. "But sometimes it is loyalty to our sorrow or vengeance. The Jabari may have stood on their prejudice against your clan for years, but like the massive bolder, once it's been moved, it will sternly remain where it rests and my father and I are dedicated to this union and what it means. I would never disgrace it by abusing the product of our marriage."
Sa’di muttered under his breath as he pushed his arms through the wide sleeves of the light blue jacket that hung down to his ankles. A silver thread was weaved throughout, giving the garment a shimmery look. The edges were decorated in silver mythical creatures overlapping each other and clawing up the heavy cotton sleeves. The sleeves came down past his elbows and the front opened to reveal the knee-length vest garment that fastened at the neck on one side and near his waist with a cotton belt. It was a dark color and heavily embroidered in many bright colors in complicated designs. He wore a cream long-sleeved garment underneath; it’s only known presence were the sleeves covering his forearms his overcoat didn’t reach. Loose trousers tapered down tightly to his ankles and leather boots clasped just above said joint.
It had taken him a longer time to dress than he thought it would take. It wasn’t a dress one normally wore at home except on very special occasions, and he never participated in any occasions at home. Because of that, he never had his own dress made. He currently wore his father’s ceremonial clothes. His mother had weaved them by hand. Sa’di glanced back down his body. It looked fine to himself. He wasn’t as broad as his father in the shoulders but he was just as tall as him. Only a small sagging of the blue jacket told of the difference of father and son.
He had just one last item to hang on somewhere – his mother’s scarf. It had been a maroon color but the purple lightened up over the years, giving the silk a blood-like color. It was a scarf that could be worn as anything, and he usually had it around his neck. Sa’di studied the red material in his hands. He briefly considered a different way to wear it, but shrugged and flipped it around his neck as he did every day since her death. The tasseled ends hung and swayed at his thighs.
He gathered his pack and shoved it to a corner of the tent to keep it out of sight and out of way. He turned on his heel and flipped opened the tent to step outside. He had the unfortunate displeasure of crossing paths with his aunt. And she was quick to criticize him despite her shock of seeing him there. She sneered at his outfit and ripped the scarf off his neck. He made no attempt to halt her; this clearly wasn't a day to push her buttons.
“You’re a sloppy mess!” She snapped. “You’re Medea’s cousin! At least look the damn part!” She tightened and creased the overcoat in the back, its shoulders snapped closer his build and she used the red silk to tighten her adjustments. She had it wrapped like a sash and knotted it at his hip. She stepped back, studied her work and scowled at his unruly hair. It was naturally wavy and the shortened ends curled, they hid his terrible botchy job at keeping it short but the unevenness was still noticeable. He had tried to keep it the length of his forefinger, and the back half of that, but without a mirror it was quite difficult.
“Dammit, Sa’di.” She growled. “Just stay out of sight!”
“Of course.” He replied and she turned on her heel to march away. On a second thought, she whipped around.
“Tell Medea to prepare herself, we are starting now.” Then she turned again and strode away, a young woman whom she hired for the day followed behind. Sa’di watched her for a moment then turned the opposite direction. He saw his only friend, Joktan, grinning a ways away. He dressed in a different garb, traditional robes of their own culture unlike the slightly foreign ones Sa’di wore. Sa’di walked past the taller and older man whom stepped up to his side. He glanced over with an eyebrow raised in question.
“Someone has to keep you two apart if a fight starts.” Joktan said as he matched his longer pace to Sa’di’s shorter one. They didn’t say another word as they swung around the tents to the wyverns. The grey was still in the flock, a few men of the earlier assembly lingered around.
“We’re starting now.” Joktan said to them, and Sa’di slipped behind the grey and clambered up its side to the carriage. He knocked on the ‘back’ door and waited for an answer. Below, Joktan appeared to keep an eye on him. He heard the few men scatter around the grey male as they prepared to shepherd it on the ground. No answer came from inside. He knocked again, louder this time. No answer. Sa’di sighed. He figured it would be sooner or later Medea would find him here. He wanted it later, but . . . He pulled open the door and peered inside for his upset cousin. A faint lantern glowed inside. Pillows littered the ground, a bench was set against the wall to his left with a wilting flower bouquet resting on the seat and a curtain covered the door opposite of him. No bride. No bridesmaids. No one was inside.
“Joktan!” Sa’di hissed down to avoid his news falling on unnecessary ears. It wasn’t needed, the men were arguing over something on the other side of the wyvern. “She’s not here!”
“What?” Came the dubious answer. Sa’di repeated himself. Joktan fell quiet, thinking. “Is there a note?” He asked. Sa’di shrugged. “Look for one, I’ll alert Sahib Saba.” And the big man was gone. Sa’di frowned into the carriage. Where could she have gone? He climbed inside, shutting the door in case a wind would sweep inside and steal any loose parchment or cloth. Did she have any kind of writing utensils here? He couldn’t remember, maybe she did bring her drawings to entertain herself and her three sisters . . . There was only one way to find out. He began tearing the ornate cushions off the ground to check the floor first if she hid her brushes and charcoal.
“That is good to know.” Saba bobbed his head, and the tension on his face lifted. He eased back at the table, relaxing his shoulders as he viewed the landscape and the people. His hands rested on his knees (his cane was set beside him), and briefly, his mind traveled elsewhere. He pondered many things, things he thought he should tell Ankoma but came to a conclusion he would find it out later himself. If his grandchildren taught him anything, it was to let a child discover things himself rather than the adult spoil nature.
“Look, Ankoma.” Saba said. A flash of bright colors brought him out of his musings, and his daughter approached. He noticed the two clans were reorganizing themselves along the aisle marked by the lit torches. He saw the Jabari clan settle on the right and his settle on the left. “Your mother-in-law is coming.”
She was as beautiful as ever, in his mind. Her black hair had been combed back into a bun and precious golden and jade hair pins decorated with jewels crowned her head. She wore a layered, gauzy outfit (oh, how she loved clothes from the far west) with all the colors of the rainbow. Her mocha skin pulled it all off rather nicely. She fanned herself fervently with a silken hand-fan and her helper whom she hired trailed behind.
A look of disgust ruined her image; after all she had just crossed paths with her nephew. But it quickly vanished once she saw her father. She touched her forehead in greeting to the whole table. Saba nodded in return.
“Adiya,” Saba said, introducing her. “My daughter. Please, won’t you sit down? Your son-in-law has said he will fill a request from this old man and there is no better seat than here to witness it.”
“And what request is that, father?” Adiya said, situating her skirts before allowing herself a seat. Her fan clipped shut in her hand.
“A long look at the future.” Adiya blinked. The words were lost on her for a moment then she cleared her throat.
“What a surprise.” She said smoothly. “Shall I escort my new son to my daughter, or will he brave the walk alone?” The question was not to her father nor to Ankoma, but to his parents.
Always In My Head
The Jabari had little use for fancy garments. They had always been a people who lived on the land, born without clothing and sent to the afterlife in the same fashion. Their rites reflected this tradition. Kyan wore a leather loin and fur laced boots. His large bare stomach slouched over the rabbit skin belt that held the loin in place. Dalila presented herself with a bare torso as well with a long tortoise bead necklace that circled her breasts and pushed them together. Her skirt was woven grass and tiger lilies while her sandals were laced up to the knees.
Kyan laid his hands on the top of his belly as he responded to the sour woman. "A Jabari man meets his wife unassisted. If he is not strong enough to take her hand on his own than he does not deserve it!"
Ankoma's smile was as strained as his father's garments. "It is our tradition that only I approach the bride. It comes from a time when the women were not considered our equal," he explained. "The groom is the hunter while the bride represents the prey and he must prove himself a man by capturing her. Some ceremonies went as far as to have a chase, but-"
"The men can be foolish," his mother finished, her tone harsh but wary. "But tradition is greatly respected and we still allow the marriage to be a solitary expression."
Kyan nodded along.