That Was a Ceremony

That Was a Ceremony

That was a Ceremony

By Matthew Sibole

"Father, mother, I want you to meet Sivora," Dycannus said in an official tone. He stood in a fine white silk shirt, new pants, and his sword, Glorius, strapped to his waist. Standing across from him was his father Sir Jammel Bane, dressed in ceremonial red armor with a blue cape and his own sword hanging from his hip. His arm was outstretched with his wife's hand resting softly on it. Lady Jenna Bane was dressed in a gold dress with a red sash dyed to match her husband's armor perfectly. The pair looked as much like royalty as the king and queen who looked on from their thrones.

Sivora Landrin did not grow up poor, but she did grow up humble. Born to a comfortable living in Rimule, she had always idolized her father's clientele, the various knights, lords, and adventurers that bought his armor and armaments. Her mother was very pretty for a small town wife of a blacksmith, and from her Sivora inherited her spirit and fiery red hair. Gifted with an athletic physique and a strategic mind, Sivora was born to fight and lead. She was comfortable in makeshift tents on the edge of a battlefield, sleeping in studded leather armor in case a surprise attack was launched in the night, but she wasn't ready for this. She wore a dress of white to match Duncan's shirt and sewn into the skirt was an intertwined sword and shield, the symbol of a Swordwraith. She did not wear her sword, as it was three quarters the length of a man and would have dwarfed the men standing near her. She was to be presented as a lady, and it was the one thing she never thought she'd grow up to be.

Although Jammel Bane and his wife Jenna had very un-royal backgrounds, they were as respected as any king and queen in the land. It was well known that the paladin's best friend, King Duncan Belois, had offered him at least three different kingdoms during his twenty-five year reign as king and high king, but each time Bane turned the commission down in favor of serving the king at his court and fighting in his army. He never held an official rank, but every general knew that they were to heed his council as if it came from King Duncan himself. So close were the couples, that Dycannus was named for his own ancestor, but called Duncan after the king, who was also his godfather. Dycannus and the king's son, Artorius, were as close as brothers and it was not unusual for them to call the other's parents "mother" and "father".

While Jammel held a high place in the king's council, Jenna was content with a much more quiet existence. She raised Dycannus and Artorius for years while Jammel and the king and queen were called away on affairs of state. Before she married Jammel, she was a simple farmer's daughter across the ocean. Her village was several miles north of Neverwinter, on the outskirts of the Spine of the World. When she was fifteen, an avalanche struck her village on the outskirts and it was completely buried. Trapped in a building under several feet of snow, Jenna took charge of the others in the building, calming the women and children and encouraging the men to help her find a way to freedom. They dug themselves out for two days, only to find their entire town was destroyed and no one else, including Jenna's parents, had survived. They hiked for several miles with limited supplies to Kuldahar, where they were welcomed and sheltered by the druid who watched over the Tree of Life. All of the survivors credited her with their lives.

The paladin lines of Belois have strong ties with paladin families in Neverwinter, and when the story reached Avalon, Jammel left to lend a hand to help the refugees settle in a new area. He was also intrigued by this woman, whose name was being lauded as a hero. When he met her he was expecting a legend, but she was not much more than a slip of a farm girl who possessed strength of will that Bane had only encountered in warriors and kings. He immediately fell in love with her spirit and after his work was done, he whisked her back to Avalon to marry her. She still spent her days tending gardens at their home, and although she was fond of her memories of Faerun, she believes that Avalon is where that fated avalanche was meant to lead her.

Sivora knew the stories of Duncan's parents and was in awe even though she was not easily intimidated. She tended to treat everyone like they put their underwear on in the morning without the help of a servant, and she was aware she acted too common in times that required elegance. She looked stunning in the dress and the gathered crowd thought so as well; confirmed by the excited murmurs that rose from the sea of people. She knew that Duncan loved her and was literally willing to die for her, so she hung onto his arm for protection from the eyes of the onlookers and the possible disapproval of his parents. She had actually been dreading this ceremony, begging Duncan to introduce her to them over a mug of mead and a bowl of Sheppard's Pie, but he said that he was too proud of her to ever let her be embarrassed, and he'd prove it to her with an engagement ceremony that she would never forget in a hundred lifetimes.

After he spoke her introduction, she removed her arm from his and extended a quivering hand to Sir Jammel. He took it lightly and kissed it formally, the touch of skin barely registering on the back of her course hand that was often covered in blood and ash on the battlefield. She then turned to Lady Jenna and began to bow, then caught herself and deftly curtsied. Duncan's mother smiled, catching the near slipup, and returned the courtesy by kneeling exactly as deep as Sivora. The lady warrior again took Duncan's arm, trembling, and tried to slow her heart. She was deathly afraid she might begin to lose her breath and pass out.

"With your permission?" Duncan asked his father. Sir Jammel nodded his head. Duncan turned to his lover, his cape swirling behind him, and knelt to one knee. Since this was a ceremony, everything was precisely planned, but Sivora was still nervous. Their engagement had happened when they were both much more undressed than they were now and the celebration afterwards would not have been proper to share in front of a crowd of thousands. He had asked for the ring he'd given her back, so he could present it to her again before the king, queen, and the world. Despite the sliver of doubt that told her she'd never see it again, she agreed.

As the younger paladin knelt, Lady Jenna walked over next to Sivora. She was easily a head shorter and although she was old enough to be her mother, she was still very smooth of face and pretty. Her eyes were a soft blue and gray and her straw-colored blonde hair had just begun to show signs of silver. She extended her hand to her son, who kissed it before removing the ring. It was resized for Sivora's larger hand already, so Jenna had to pinch her fingers together to keep her old heirloom from slipping off. Sir Jammel stood to the other side of Sivora at attention. Duncan held the ring aloft and loudly asked for her hand in marriage. As she had before, she accepted with an enthusiastic affirmation.

The crowd, including the king and queen, erupted in applause. The royal couple stood from their thrones, which brought the courtyard to another level of sonic approval. Tamizander Kerensky, a close friend and talented bard, led the king's players in a tune of celebration that could barely be heard over the ovation. Sivora was not usually moved to tears, but as she did the first time, she cried now. Losing her inhibition of the moment, she dropped to her knees to throw her arms around her fiancée and kissed him hard. He returned her embrace and forgot about everything else. Her new in-laws clapped for their daughter and her excitement, sharing a smile and a memory of their own newlywed love. The engaged couple stood, arm in arm, and waved to the crowd, drawing another roar. When the noise died down, the queen returned to her seat, but King Duncan remained standing. Raising his hand for quiet, he spoke.

"I have known this man since he was an infant," he said in his unique accent, with gravel and sincerity in his voice. "In my life I have known but a handful that could match his purity of heart, strength of character, and wisdom. As a child, he often taught me of life and innocence as I taught him of battle and leadership. He is second only to my own son in my heart. As for his choice in a partner, I believe he has chosen as wisely as I trusted he would. Sivora Landrin comes from a fine parentage in Northwind and she is as capable a leader and warrior as she is beautiful, which is in no doubt for those of you with sight. I have asked that they share this time with us so I could present them and all of you with an engagement gift. Each have pledged their swords and hearts to Belois and Dai-Rynn, and today I will knight them into the service of the high throne."

The crowd couldn't wait for the words to finish,erupting in applause. Duncan and Sivora, along with their comrades, were already very famous in Dai-Rynn. As allies to Prince Arthur, they were singularly responsible for fighting off a tide of evil in the form of zombies, vampires, and eternal twilight that plagued the continent. Even kings and queens in other kingdoms owed them a great debt for saving thousands of people they'd never met and even losing their own friends fighting the scourge. It was rumored that they were close to the source of the ancient evil and preparing to stamp it out forever. The couple of honor waved to the crowd in thanks. Their friends had already been knighted by the prince in the service of Belois, but the king himself had requested that Duncan and Sivora be knighted as protectors of Dai-Rynn.

The couple approached, hand in hand, to the king's throne. This part of the ceremony was much more comfortable, although Sivora wished she could be wearing her armor. But, as Duncan told her, it didn't do enough to flatter her exquisite body, and she liked to hear that a lot. Unsheathing his sword, Duncan handed it to the king with both hands. He and Sivora had decided to both be knighted with his sword, Glorius, as it was a gift to him and a symbol of his god, Heironeous, whom Sivora also now followed. The god was often said to wield a longsword bathed in electricity that was a bane to evildoers. When the Glorius was used in battle, it often discharged energy into its victims that crackled with lightning and it stung the wicked more than normal steel. Even the pommel was specially engraved with Heironeous' holy symbol.

Duncan knelt first, while Sivora remained standing. The king took the hilt of the sword in his hand and raised it so the crowd could behold the weapon.

"Do you swear to protect the land and people of Dai-Rynn, human, elf, and dwarf alike, and forever defend it from enemies that threaten her?"

"I will, your majesty."

"And do you swear to serve your king without reservation, always answering his call when it serves justice and right?"

"I do, your majesty."

"And finally, do you now swear loyalty to your queen, promising to protect her from danger and dishonor as long as she shall live?"

"I do, your majesty."

The sword touched each of Duncan's shoulders. Without a word or noise from the crowd, Duncan remained on his knees and bowing and Sivora knelt beside him. She met the king's earnest gaze and listened intently to his words. She took each of them into her heart, knowing they would forever define her. This was a moment she'd lived for her entire life, and now it was happening. Even more than a wife, she wanted to be a knight.

"Sivora, do you swear to protect the land and people of Dai-Rynn, human, elf, and dwarf alike, and forever defend it from enemies that threaten her?"

"As long as I live, I do your majesty."

"And do you swear to serve your king without reservation, always answering his call when it serves justice and right?"

"As long as blood runs through my veins, I will your majesty."

"And finally, do you now swear loyalty to your queen, promising to protect her from danger and dishonor as long as she shall live?"

"As long as I draw breath, I will your majesty."

Again, the sword lightly touched each shoulder. This time, there was no sound from the crowd. There were but a handful of knights that served the high king and not one of his lords. Not a person in attendance wanted to miss a moment of this ceremony, as it may not come again for many years. Men, women, and children strained to hear and see. This moment that Duncan and Sivora shared with each other would be a well recited family tale for a thousand people they would never know.

"Please rise, Lady Sivora Landrin," the king commanded. A bit surprised she was to be presented first, it took a second for her to make her muscles react. She gracefully stood and faced the king. "You are now a Knight Protector of the High Kingdom of Dai-Rynn. I have complete faith that you will not only live up to, but enhance the title that you will carry." The queen approached, kissed Sivora on each cheek, and placed a purple sash over her head and across her chest. Sivora blushed, as she wasn't informed of any part of the ceremony after the kneeling before the king. The queen turned her around to face the crowd, and Sivora was finally able to take in the thousands that had gathered to witness the event. She was awestruck as they immediately cheered her feverishly. She laid a hand on Duncan's shoulder where he was still kneeling with his head bowed beside her. When the crowd stopped, the king continued.

"And now, my godson, please rise, Sir Dycannus Bane," King Duncan proudly announced. "You are now Knight Protector of the High Kingdom of Dai-Rynn. I know you, like your fiancée, will bring honor and pride to me as your liege and your kingdom as its champions." The queen repeated her part in the ceremony with a kiss and the sash, but she added a hug and a whisper to Duncan's ear. The crowd cheered loudly as she presented him to the audience. Moving between the couple, the king held the Glorius by its blade. He reached for each of their hands with his free hand and had them take the hilt of the sword. They looked at each other and raised it above their head simultaneously. As if in approval of this union, lightning cracked in the clear blue sky and a clap of thunder rolled loudly across the land. Duncan and Sivora laughed.

"Our god is pleased, milady," he shouted over the crowd.

Sivora looked for Duncan's parents, but did not see them where they stood before. She quickly found them escorting another man and woman to the stage. Her eyes welled up with tears when she saw who they were with.

"Mom! Dad!" she screamed and ran to them. Dwarfing her parents, she hugged them like children. Duncan sheathed the sword and clapped along with the king, queen and the rest of their subjects. Sivora's sister, Aisha, waited patiently for her turn, and then embraced her sister as hard as her blacksmith muscles could squeeze.

"Way to go, baby girl!" she yelled into Sivora's ear.

"You've made us so proud," her father said through a thick stream of tears. "So proud."

"You looked like a queen up there, cherry-top," her mom said, calling her by her childhood nickname. Sivora was weeping like she hadn't in her memory. The only missing piece to her life was the family she was forced to leave behind in Rimule, her home from which she was banished for following her heart and trying to serve justice. Now she had them, here, on the grandest day of her life. They wouldn't have to hear the tale; they saw it with their own eyes and heard it with their own ears. She reached out for Duncan, and he was immediately by her side.