Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tis with heavy heart we shed our skin,

Living a lie in a world that is not ours.

Tis with heavy heart we don the sheepskin,

Living a lie in a world that is not ours.

When we are called to judgment for our sins

We shall have no other tale to spin.

We lived a lie in a world that was not ours.

1        Chapter

"Do we really need all these trappings?" Kegan grouses. 

"I suggest you not ask your bride-to-be such a question."  I finish hanging the last piece of garland over the terrace wall.

"But what purpose does it serve?  All this work for something which only lasts a few minutes."  Shaking my head, I try to ignore my cousin's whining.  He continues regardless of my disinterest.  "I would be happy with a ceremony in Dagda's office." 

I cannot help but laugh.  "You are lucky Alita lost her sanity and agreed to marry you.  You would be unwise to press your luck by offering that as an alternative."  This earns me a punch in the arm.

"What was that for?" Alita asks, coming up the terrace steps.  She apparently did not hear our conversation.  "Are you harassing my intended on the eve of our hand-fasting?"  There is a teasing twinkle in her eye.  It is good to see her so happy.  Kegan better not screw this up or I will be punching more than his arm.

I put on my most innocent expression.  "Me?  I was simply offering wise words of advice and your intended became violent.  Are you certain you want to marry such a brute?"

Alita laughs.  "Yes, I am quite certain."  Turning her teasing eyes to Kegan, she adds, "And Kallen is right.  It would not be wise to suggest a quick ceremony in Dagda's office.  My mother would kill me."  I guess she did hear us.  I smirk at Kegan's reddening face. 

"There is still work to be done," Grandmother reminds us from the beach.  "Kegan, Kallen, come down here and assist in chair placement.  Alita, we need to discuss flower arrangements."

Alita is much happier with her task than Kegan and I are.  Grumbling under his breath, Kegan walks down the terrace steps with me.  The company Grandmother hired to create the appropriate number of chairs with their magic are waiting for us to tell them where the aisle will be, how far apart the chairs must be, color, size, etc.  Kegan is right, some of these details are tedious and unnecessary.  A chair is a chair and I am certain the workmen could create an aisle on their own.  Why must we spew details down to the very last minutia?

Fortunately for me, Xandra has finally returned from the palace.  I can feel her presence on the terrace and turn in her direction.  Making my excuses to the workmen, I grin and practically leap up the steps to get to her.  Wrapping my arms around her, I lift her so I can plant a long, passionate kiss on her lips.  She does not seem to mind.

The moment is ruined by Xandra's Familiar.  It seems to be coughing up a hairball.  Its hacking sounds bring an abrupt end to the kiss and now that it has Xandra's attention, it begins to snarl and growl.  I assume the beast is complaining about our intimacy.  It does not like it when I monopolize Xandra's attention. My foot snakes out and the beast must move out of the way to avoid getting kicked.

Setting Xandra down, I ask, "How did it go with Dagda?"

She shrugs.  "Okay, I guess.  He's going to think about the visa thing, but he's okay with Alita and Kegan coming with us.  If they still want to, anyway."  Her eyes move to the couple.  Apparently finished with the chair drama, Kegan has made his way to Alita and Grandmother.  Kegan's arm is loosely around Alita's shoulder and he is every inch a love sick puppy.  He cannot take his eyes from his intended.  From the expression on his face, he is more than ready for their wedding night.

Feeling our eyes upon him, Kegan asks dryly, "Are you two planning to help or just stand there gawking at each other?"

"Hey," Xandra exclaims, "We've been helping."  She did help Alita with the bouquets this morning before going to the palace.  "Besides, you seem to spend an awful lot of your time gawking at your intended."  Alita's cheeks burn bright red as Xandra points this out.

In a mocking tone, Kegan says, "Yes, but we are supposed to be enamored of each other.  You two were hand-fasted ages ago; you should be tiring of each other by now."  My cousin is the stupidest Fairy in the realm.  I almost feel sorry for him as he seems unable to speak more than ten sentences in a row without getting himself into trouble. 

Alita elbows him hard in the ribs, as she should, and narrows her eyes.  "Is that how you see happiness within hand-fasting?  It has a shelf life?"

With an overly pained expression on his face, Kegan rubs at his side.  "I did not say we would tire of each other," he backpedals, causing me to smirk in his direction.

"You're lucky you found someone as tolerant as Alita.  No one else would put up with your crap," Xandra teases.  She is probably correct, though. 

"He is lucky indeed," a deep voice says from behind us.  Alita's father joins us on the terrace and he is all smiles.  Over the years, he faced much criticism over the fact he brought his human love back to the Fairy realm with him.  Much of the criticism trickled down to Alita.  But now, his daughter holds a high position in the palace and has made a love match.  Something I suspect her father feared would never happen due to the prejudices many Fairies harbor against those with as much Cowan blood running through their veins as Alita.  He has the right to be all smiles. 

I cannot help feeling shame I was once adamant about only wanting a full blooded Fairy for my wife, despite my close friendship with Alita and her family.  I know now it was my anger at Cowans for killing my parents that made me feel that way.  I let those feelings go when I fell in love with Xandra.  It would not have mattered to me which realm she came from or what blood flowed through her veins as long as I could make her mine. 

Kegan smiles self-consciously at his soon to be father-in-law as blood rushes to his cheeks.  "Yes, sir, I am very lucky."  My smirk turns into a grin.

Taking pity on him, Alita's father moves the conversation in a different direction.  "I see everything is coming together nicely.  What can I help with?"

Still at a loss, Kegan looks to Grandmother, who joined us on the terrace, for an answer.  Taking pity on her grandson, she says, "There are several things which still need to be done.  It would be a pleasure to have your help completing them."  A warm smile touches her lips as she speaks.  She always liked Alita's family, as well.  I know she is pleased Kegan finally came to his senses and went against his father's wishes.  His father did not want him to marry Alita.  As Kegan is part Cowan and Alita is three quarters Cowan, their children will probably not be very strong when it comes to magic.  Regardless, they will be well loved by their parents, cousins and Grandmother.  Kegan's dad will come around slowly.  I hope.

Having joined us on the terrace as well, Garren gives Alita's father a friendly slap on the back.   "Flynn, good to see you!  It has been ages."

His approach tears me from my musing.  My dislike for the Fairy has not lessened.  Though, I have come to realize he is here to stay, regardless of Grandmother's words to the contrary.

"Garren, did you leave the Dragon realm for good?" Flynn asks.

With a glance in Grandmother's direction, Garren says, "I did.  I do miss it, though.  The Dragons are going through a metamorphosis in regards to Goblins and that would be something worth studying."  He wants to go back to the Dragon realm so he can bow before them once again?  His words leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Grandmother's face becomes impassive.  "Perhaps you should return.  I am certain the Dragons would welcome you back regardless of the circumstances under which you left."  I try not to chuckle.  If only she was serious.  Garren would be turned to ash as soon as the Dragons realized he was back. 

Garren smiles wide and the corners of his green eyes show the slightest hint of crow's feet.  "I prefer studying in depth the fiercest Dragon in this realm."  Will the Fairy never learn?  .Attempting to goad Grandmother into a relationship is just sad.  And it is not effective.

I appreciate my wife's bluntness.  "Um, can we get back to talking about wedding stuff?  Your Dragon innuendoes are making us all uncomfortable."  I love her.

Kegan and I both try to cover our chuckles with coughs.  Even Flynn must cover up his laugh with a loud clearing of his throat.  There is so much coughing and the like, the workmen on the beach stop what they are doing to stare at us.

Even more irritated now, Grandmother glowers at Xandra for a moment.  Spinning around, she storms back down to the beach.  Garren, finally figuring out he pushed her too far, shakes his head and silently goes after her.  Leaning into my cousin, I whisper, "At least there will always be someone in the house who is a bigger jackass than you."  He punches me hard in the arm, but it was worth it.  Besides, he is grinning like a fool because he knows it is true.

Taking her father's arm and leading him into the house, Alita says, "Father, as Isla said, there are things inside needing to be done.  Come, I will show you."  Still chuckling, Kegan follows after them.

Turning my attention back to Xandra, who is still blushing from her outburst, I put my arm around her shoulders and pull her close.  I simply cannot resist teasing her. "You, my love, have an amazing talent for getting rid of people.  You know, if you wanted some time alone with me, you could have just said so.  I will always oblige you in that request."  Hopefully, she will request it right now.  I would love to take her back upstairs to our bedroom.

With a sigh, Xandra peers up at me.  "What can I say, I have skills."