As I had expected, it was the appearance of the Serpent, the one
part of the ceremony that was completely out of my control, that caused
the most trouble. Up to that point, things went about as I had expected.
Well, perhaps not the previous evening, but that is all Laughter's fault.
I had heard of "bachelorette parties" before, of course, but I never
imagined I would be subjected to one. I should have expected something
like this from Laughter. Judging by the expression that Caitlin wore for
most of the evening, it certainly was not her idea. I probably should
have refused to go with them, but my curiosity got the better of me. It
was an... interesting experience.
It began innocently enough, with a return to Ivory and the baths
there. Relatively harmless, thus far, and the Ivoran baths are not an
experience to be passed up. It is interesting how a culture so outwardly
"repressed" has so many forms of amusement that would utterly horrify most
of the society in which I was raised. I suppose it is not so odd, when
you consider that Ivory in general seems to follow this pattern: there is
the face that is presented to outsiders, and the true face that is
concealed within. It reminds me of Chaos in that respect.
From the bath itself, we moved onto massage. Another area in
which Ivorans can be rather skilled. It certainly was not an unpleasant
experience, and doubtless eased the way into the next part of Laughter's
plan: the body painting.
Under other circumstances, I doubt I would have gone along with
this. Covering your body with paint, and then wearing such limited amount
of clothing as to be almost non-existent? I still cannot believe I did
this. Doubtless the massage helped. As relaxed as I felt at the time,
the idea did not seem as repellent as it should have. Caitlin's obvious
reluctance is what probably spurred me on in the end, though. I knew that
she would go along, if both Laughter and I participated, and seeing her go
through with it was worth whatever embarrassment I might have felt at
being painted up in such a manner. Of course, I did not know about the
parade at that point.
It would seem that the eve of my wedding just happened to coincide
with some Ivoran festival. I do not know what was being celebrated, and
it did not really matter. One part of the celebration was a parade
through the city by Ivorans wearing masks, body paint, and some few
articles of clothing. Laughter conveniently had three masks with her.
Caitlin looked appalled by the idea, so naturally, I decided to
participate. It was only a Shadow, after all, and we were masked, so what
did it matter? Besides, I must admit that I found myself feeling just a
bit rebellious on the night before my wedding. All my life, I have always
done what is right and proper, at least outwardly. I controlled my
emotions with an iron hand, for Father always taught that power was the
only reward one needed in life, and one cannot attain power if one is
ruled by their emotions. Nor can you be hurt if you do not allow your
emotions to control you. It worked well enough, until Kaedric managed to
make a fine mess of it all. Damn him. Still, I believe that I have
managed to conceal that particular weakness of mine from most people.
But, on this final evening, I found myself growing tired of maintaining
the emotionless facade. So I let it drop, hidden behind the anonymity of
the mask and the paint. It was liberating, in a way I have not felt since
I used to run with my dogs - the only time I ever felt free while I was
living with Father. It was only an illusion of freedom, of course, and
last night was no different. But even an illusion can be enjoyable, for a
We left before the massive orgy that Laughter said awaited us at
the end of the parade. Despite how much my relationship with Kaedric has
lowered my morality, I have not descended to such a low point as that.
Caitlin was quite eager to leave as well, and asked me to send her home.
I sent her to Merlin, instead. It was a whim, really. Or perhaps a bit
of buried bitterness over what she did to Aleksandr. Now that he lives
again, I no longer feel the anger towards her that I once did, but... I
must admit to enjoying the notion of her being the one pursued and not the
pursuer. And it did turn out to be so marvelously amusing, for the short
time that I observed. But I had other things on my mind.
I think I rather surprised Kaedric when I Trumped him. It is just
as well that I did, for he was not alone, I had no intention of letting
anyone else see me dressed as I was. He must have appreciated the design
I chose, for he joined me quickly. We spent the next two hours in a fast
Shadow somewhere, and I am almost convinced that Kaedric actually
abstained for the century that he passed apart from me. I find myself
rather surprised by this.
The next morning passed quickly with the final preparations, as
did the initial part of the ceremony itself. Everything went just as it
was supposed to. Right up until the part where we were escorted to the
Abyss, and threw in our offerings to the souls of our ancestors. I
included a necklace that Father once gave to me. Let him make of that
what he will. I think I breathed a sigh of relief when the Serpent did
not appear, and the priest began to continue. Then Kaedric said, "Wait,"
in a rather determined voice. So we did, but there was no sign of the
Serpent. When the priest tried to go on once more, and Kaedric commanded
him to wait again, I began to feel uneasy. It was then that the Serpent
It would be hard to say who was more disconcerted by this,
Archimedes or I. In the end, I would say I faired slightly better than
Archimedes. The Serpent did not call me "adversary," after all, nor smell
my chest. Its remarks to me seemed to indicate its awareness of my
attunement to one its eyes, however. Still, it did not seem overly
hostile, and I assumed the worst was over when it slipped back into the
I was wrong.
It would seem that the Serpent spoke with Swayvill as well, for
Swayvill suddenly commanded Kaedric and I to kneel before him. This
definitely was not part of the ceremony, and my uneasiness grew. Had I
known what was going to happen next, I never would have agreed to marry
Kaedric. Swayvill named Kaedric his heir! And Kaedric knew it was going
to turn out this way, for he was the Crown Prince in the previous time-
line as well. Bastard. As Brand's daughter, I was known by few, and free
to pursue my own ends. As the wife of the Crown Prince, my anonymity is
gone. Princess of Chaos, indeed! I should never have agreed to this
marriage. Spending the rest of my pregnancy in a Shadow of Father's
choosing would not have been pleasant, but it would have been over after
eight months. This... This will not end so easily. How could I have
been so foolish? Well, there is little I can do about it now. Kaedric
has achieved his goal. I hope he is satisfied with the price at which he
obtained it. For there shall not be another night like the last for quite
some time, if I have any say in the matter.
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