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[Round 1] The Ceremony


Nimue
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((Outside Kincade Keep, Ceremony Site))

:: Annie giggled with excitement as they hung the garlands of ivy and berries and set up the altar for the handfasting ceremony. Upon the stone altar laid the documents, the bottle of mead, the two goblets and the ribbon. The rings that the two would exchange were tucked securely in a hidden pocket of her loose, shoulderless, light, white dress. Her long blond hair flowed down her back in loose ringlets. Several stones were arranged in a circle which would serve as the sacred ground for the ceremony. Each of the women assisting with the site set-up wore the same loose billowing white dress, a tussie mussie attached by a pin over their right breast with the exception of Elina's mother and grandmothers who wore posies. Each woman also wore a circlet of rosemary and white roses about their heads. ::

:: Ceremonial music weaved its magic softly in the background as the women placed the remaining touches on the site, Elina's mother (the keep's High Priestess) sprinkled holy water lightly over the grounds within the circle and around the outside edges to bless the site. The children laughed excitedly as they spread the marigold blooms over the grounds within the circle. The air of celebration and happiness among the women as they worked was unmistakable. ::

:: The women halted their work as they heard a small group approaching. It was their laird, Lina's chosen mate, Ross Jr. and Douglas no doubt with last minute instructions and to inspect the site. ::

************************

:: Tal glanced down at the outfit that had been provided for him to wear during the ceremony. One eye brow lifted as he then lifted his gaze so that he could see the male members of Elina's family as they exited the keep. ::

:: They were all dressed in the same style. Old style kilts in the Kincade pattern with loose white shirts that were open partway down their chests. A section of the kilt was thrown up over their shoulders and then pinned in place. Upon all their heads except for Tal's was perched a old style scottish cap. These had decorative feathers attached to one side. Usually with a small metal device fashioned to resemble the Kincade family crest. ::

:: Tal held the cap in one hand. His antenna slowly shifted in the light winter breeze as they walked past him towards the location of the ceremony. Tal joined them as they passed him. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Now remember, Tal, we dunnae want tae tip her off too early. She's been told that she will perform the rights tonight as the next in line to become High Priestess of the clan. Once a daughter comes of age, she typically takes over those responsibilities from her mother. As her husband, you would typically take over the role of High Priest.

Tel-ar: I see. My knowledge of this subject is barely sufficient to allow me to perform the proper rites expected of me this evening.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Ah will teach ye next Solstice the ways if ye wish.

Tel-ar: Thank you for the offer. However I am unsure if my duties to Starfleet will allow us to return next year.

::Another set of group footsteps grew closer.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: When ye hear the song we discussed, that's yer cue, lad.

:: Tal nodded his understanding. The cap still held in his hand as they all stopped just outside ring and waited for the other approaching group that had just come into view. ::

:: Elina entered flanked by her grandfather and uncles, the men dressed in the traditional Kincade tartan. ::

:: Elina swallowed roughly, a sort of stage fright overcoming her. The thought of leading the ceremony unnerved her. She only hoped she did as well as her mother. It was then that she noticed Tal. He was dressed in the clan tartan and her eyes widen ed at the sight of him. He looked so alien in those clothes and yet it felt so natural that he should wear it. He was even more handsome than she'd imagined. She gripped the material of the shoulderless scarlet dress before taking the remaining steps toward him. He stood outside the circle waiting for her and she nearly tripped at the fire in his eyes. She placed a tender kiss on his cheek before moving toward the bell, ringing it three times. ::

:: Tal was not sure but Elina looked a little off... not her normal self. Normally he could not guess the mood or attitude of any sentient species, let alone males or females. However he had spent so much time with Elina watching her every move that he was starting to be able to guess how she was feeling, sometimes.::

:: As Tal watched her walk towards him he allowed a smile to cross his features and linger longer than normal. She was everything he wanted and he almost stepped forward when she seemed to stumbl e. As she got closer Tal leaned down towards her. Then she gave him a kiss on the cheek. before moving off to ring a bell. ::

E. Kincade: ::translated from Gaelic:: We gather here with words and song on this this Solstice night. We share each other's warmth and hearts and celebrate the light. But there were those who came before to turn the dark to light. The story of the ancient Celts I sing for you this night...

:: As Elina sang, the women and girls of the Kincade clan gathered around the outside of the circle and danced around it, their arms raised to the sky, their voices joining with hers in a softer, complementary note. ::

:: As Tal listened to her speak he rolled the cap up and slipped it in behind the belt he wore to hold up his kilt. As much as he wanted to respect their traditions, he was Andorian. No way was he covering up his antenna. Not now, not ever. He hoped they would understand. Just then Elina started to sing. Her voice h ad a etheral quality that seemed to match the words, both in tone and mood. ::

:: The song continued for some time and when at last Elina had finished the last quivering note, Ross, Sr. lit the Yule log at the center of the circle, placing upon it the traditional sacrifice of wheat and corn stalks, then using a thin reed to light each of the four candles at North, South, East, and West. The last candle was at last lit. ::

E. Kincade: Blessed be!

All: Blessed be!

:: Squaring his shoulders Tal glanced over to the side. As he did a couple men started to play odd looking instruments. Taking that as his cue Tal entered the stone circle. He kept his head held high. Once inside the circle he stopped and then slowly turned all the way around. His steel gray eye's passing slowly over each individual until he had completed the turn. ::

:: Elina frowned when he stepped inside the circle. It was unexpected to say the least. Normally, her family would have rebelled at his gaul. Yet, they did and said nothing, causing her to become even more suspicious. ::

:: Only then did Tal start to speak. His deep cold voice, easily heard by all. The strange musical gaelic language rolling off his tongue like waves gently crashing onto a lonely shore. ::

Tel-ar: ::translated from Gaelic:: I stand here before you. An outsider. One not of the Kincade clan. A stranger. Yet I seek the most elusive of gifts. ::At this point Tal turned and looked deeply into Elina's eye's.:: I seek to take one of you as my own. To be my woman, my wife.

:: Elina's eyes widened and she turned to glance at her parents and siblings. All smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. Her brothers had only taken her on the hunt with them so that she wouldn't become aware of his plan to propose to her. Tears built in her eyes and she smiled wanly, still in shock. ::

Tel-ar: ::translated from Gaelic:: I ask for your blessing. ::Tal stated as he faced Elina's father.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: ::nods:: Ye hae it, lad.

Tel-ar: ::translated from Gaelic:: I ask for your blessing. :: Tal stated as he faced Elina's mother.::

A. Kincade: ::smiles:: You have it.

::Tal then turned to face Elina again. His steel gray eye's takeing on a softer slate gray look. His voice still strong but no longer cold.::

Tel-ar: ::translated from Gaelic:: Elina. Before your people, your family and your parents. I place my heart in your hands. Will you be mine, now and forever?

::For a few moments, Elina stood speechless praying that this wasn't a dream. She was so moved, for a moment she thought she'd swoon. She drew in a deep breath to gain her bearings and ran at him, holding him tightly and pressing her lips to his in a heated kiss.::

E. Kincade: ::breathlessly:: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

R. Kincade, Sr.: ::to Tal:: Is it still yer wish tae handfast with her this eve?

Tel-ar: Yes! That is my wish.

:: Ross, Sr. nodded to the group of musicians and they began the familiar wedding march with the occassional bang of the drums punctuating the lute. Ross, Sr. stepped forward and placed Elina's hand in Tal's.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: When I ring the bell, please approach the circle of stones from the East, move around once and enter from the East. ::To Elina's young nieces:: Please stand before them and lead them, creating a path within the circle for them using the herbs you have been given.

:: The two young girls did as their grandfather asked, turning briefly to look at Tal and then giggling. Ross, Sr. strode toward the bell and struck it three times with the mallet.::

:: Elina stuttered to a start, her stomach churning with nerves. She ha dn't expected to be doing the handfasting tonight. She used her free hand to adjust the ivy and primrose circlet atop her loose curls, brushing several hairs behind her ears. Before she knew it, they'd returned to where they'd started. She paused before entering the circle. Only a few steps later and they stood before the altar, her father entering behind them.::

:: The music instantly changed to a ritual tune as Elina's mother cast the circle, beginning at the East, etching into the mud the Gaelic symbol for wind. She then continued around the circle counterclockwise etching the symbol for fire at the south, the symbol for rain at the west, and the symbol for earth at the north.::

:: Ross, Sr. rang the bell again and turned to look at the family and friends that had gathered around the circle.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: I begin first with a history of this ritual for thos not familiar with its meaning and origins. Handfasting was at one time the only legal way that a couple could become betrothed or married. And so it was until 1939. The surroundings here reflect those of Gretna Green, a most magical place for such ceremonies. The word handfasting got its origins in the wedding custom of tying the bride's and groom's hands together. For a period of one year and a day, Tal and Elina will live as man and wife. If anyone has reason why this couple should not be handfasted, speak now. ::silence:: ::To Tal and Elina:: Do you come tonight of your own free will and in perfect love and perfect trust seeking the partnership of the one beside you?

E. Kincade: I do.

Tel-ar: I do.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Know now before you go further, that since your lives have crossed in this life you have formed ties between each other. As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive to make real, the ideals which give meaning to both this ceremony and the institution of marriage.

R. Kincade, Sr: With full awareness, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be handfasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers. The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union; they will cross the years and lives of each soul's growth. Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?

E. Kincade & Tel-ar: Yes, we seek to enter.

R. Kincade, Sr.: In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. Communication of the heart, mind, and body Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. The knowledge of the growth found in the shari ng of silences. Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. Warmth of hearth and home The heat of the heart's passion The light created by both To lighten the darkest of times.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river The refreshing cleansing of the rain The all encompassing passion of the sea. Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North Firm foundation on which to build Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives A stable home to which you may always return.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. Yet they are only tools. Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union. I bid you look into each others eyes. ::pauses:: Tal, speak of your love for Elina.

Tel-ar: ::Tal steeled himself t o speak. This was probally the hardest thing he had ever done. He had never talked about how he felt with anyone but Elina and Jason before. Now he would have to expose his soul to a crowd of humans. True they were the family and friends of his chosen love, but that did not make it any easier.:: Before you entered my life it was endless gray. Cold as the arctic winds of the Andor ice cliffs. You have brought joy, pleasure, friendship, careing and love into my life. With you beside me I have discovered what liveing is. You are my life.

:: As he spoke Tal could see that his words had an affect on Elina. Her eye's misted up and a single tear escaped to slid down her cheek. Tal lifted a hand and gently caressed her cheek removeing the tear.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: ::to Elina:: ::smiles:: Elina, speak of your love for Tal.

E. Kincade: ::smiles:: For years, mah heart was broken an' ah dinnae think it'd e'er be whole again. But ye came along with y er stubborn ways and fiery eyes...an' ye broke through the barriers ah'd erected tae keep from e'er being hurt again. Before ye, ah'd run when ah started tae care too much, afraid that if ah let myself love, ah'd only lose again. Yeh've given me a unique perspective on things. Ye lost yer ability tae walk. So many people would have given up and buried themselves away. But ye dinnae. Ye kept on with yer duty. Ye pushed through what must have been incredible pain, determined tae get yer life back. That got me thinkin' "if he can push through something like that...if he can still feel and love and trust after something like that, then so can ah." ::smiles:: Ye inspired me tae open mah heart...tae learn tae live again. Through all the tears and the stubborness and the pain, ye were mah anchor. Ye stayed with me no matter whit ah threw at ye. ::smiles:: Ye endured mah brothers interrogatin' an' my maither's brutal, yet well meant questionin'. Ah love ye, a chroi (my heart) an' ah cannae imagine e'er lovin' ye any more than ah dae now. Ah'm so lucky tae hae ye in mah life.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Will the ring-bearer, Annie, and the elementals please approach the altar to present and bless the rings.

::Annie moved around the circle once counter clockwise, then entering the circle at the East. Elina's mother, Alexandra, and her two sisters-in-law continued around the circle. Alexandra entered from the North, Fiona from the West, and Christine from the South. The four then approached the altar. Annie pulled the rings from her pocket and places them on the Pentacle etched into the altar.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: These rings, are a token of the love that Elina and Tal share for one another, they serve as a reminder that all in life is a cycle. All comes to pass and passes away and comes to pass again.

Hameldon: I bless and consecrate these rings by air which is communication, laughter and imagination.

A. Kincade: I bless and consecrate these rings by fire which is love, passion and desire.

F. Kincade: I bless and consecrate these rings by water, which is compassion, understanding and honesty.

C. Kincade: I bless and consecrate these rings by Earth which is stability, dependability and strength. Blessed be.

:: Ross, Sr. then picked up one of the rings, handing it to Tal.::

Tel-ar: I give you this ring as I give myself in everlasting love and affection. May you find shelter, peace and most of all, happiness in the love I give to you for the rest of my life.

:: Ross, Sr. smiled as he picked up the second ring and turned to his daughter.::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Ye know the way, lass.

:: Elina smiled and took the ring, turning to Tal. She slid it onto his left ring finger with shaking hands. ::

E. Kincade: I give you this ring as I give myself in everlasting lo ve and affection. May you find shelter, peace and most of all, happiness in the love I give to you for the rest of my life.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Elina and Tal, please place your hands in one another's, forming a figure eight.

:: Elina fumbled at first to connect their hands, laughing nervously. ::

:: Ross, Sr. then removed a red ribbon from the altar. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: This cord which will entwine the hands of Elina an' Tal is symbolic of the love that unites an' binds their hearts an' spirits.

:: Ross, Sr. then tied the ribbon around their hands. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: As I bind your hands together with strength, understanding and stability. May your love and lives endure all. As I bind your hands together with communication, laughter and hope. May your lives and love endure all. As I bind your hands together with love, passion and desire. May your love and lives endure all. As I bind your hands together with understanding, compassion and honesty. May your lives and love endure all.

:: Ross, Sr. placed his hands over theirs. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Elina and Tal. As your hands are joined so shall your lives be joined: Holding each other, caressing each other; supporting each other, and loving each other. Above you are the stars; below you are the stones. As time passes, remember: Like a stone should your love be firm, like a star should your love be constant.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Let the powers of the mind and intellects g uide you in your joining. Let the strength of your wills bind you together, let the power of love and desire make you happy and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable. Be close, but not too close. Have patience with one another and, be understanding, for surely storms will come, but they will pass quickly. Be free in giving affection and warmth. Have no fear and do not let the ways and the words of the unenlightened give you unease, for what is shared between you renders negativity powerless.

R. Kincade, Sr.: Now let us welcome a special friend of Elina's to present a reading entitled "Words of Wisdom On Relationships". Family and friends, Rebecca Hollendale.

:: Elina turned, gobsmacked when she saw Rebecca standing behind them wearing the traditional white dress of the priestesses. Matthew stood beside her in a minature version of the men's ensemble. Tears welled in Elina's eyes. As Rebecca approached the altar, Elina wrappe d her arms around her friend and hugged her tightly. ::

E. Kincade: How did ye...?

Hollendale: ::grins:: A little birdie told me. Besides, I couldn't miss your wedding day...::turns to Tal:: Or miss meeting the man you've been raving about for almost a year. ::to Elina:: He is very sexy.

E. Kincade: ::blushes:: ::whines:: Becky!

Hollendale: ::to Tal:: ::extends a hand:: Rebecca Hollendale. A pleasure to finally meet you.

Tel-ar: ::Tal accepted her hand and shook as he replied.:: Nice to meet you as well.

:: Ross, Sr. clears his throat. ::

:: Rebecca flushed and nodded. ::

Hollendale: There'll be more time to talk later.

:: Becky pulled out a PADD and began to read. ::

Hollendale: Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between to shore of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone. Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping, For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

:: The poem was a special blessing, expressing the true nature of Elina and Tal's relationship. Though each was from a different world, a different culture...they'd come together as one and had managed to balance their faults and their good traits. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: There is no greater happiness than that of sharing life. With all its joys and all its cares. As a loving husband and wife. For love gives new meaning, and has a special way of growing stronger, and deeper, with every passing day. Yes, life is so much happier and brighter when you are sharing. The very special joys that come along with loving, giving and caring. For each of us, a few bright days stand out above the rest. Elina and Tal, this day, this hour, is one of those bright days. Today is the fulfillment of your dearest dream. Together you will create new dreams. This ceremony is the culmination of your shared life, and of working together, not only as a couple but as a family. Yet it is not the end, it is only the beginning. You have spoken your vows, made your promises and pledged your love with the giving and receiving of your rings, so therefore on behalf of your family and friends seen and unseen and on the behalf of your community, it is with great pleasure and honor to now declare you Elina and Tal to be husband and wife.

:: Ross, Sr. removed the ribbon and pulled a pen from his pocket. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Yeh'll each need tae sign the certificate now.

:: As Elina signed, she noted a flash out of the corner of her eye. She turned to find Rebecca with a holocamera in hand smiling sheepishly. ::

:: Once they had signed the certificate, Ross, Sr. called for witness signatures. Annie and Rebecca beat eager others to the altar and signed where needed. Ross, Sr. then set the certificate aside, reaching for the bottle of mead. He popped the cork and poured some into the goblet. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: In the many names of our god of love whose love began the universe, whose touch sparked all beginnings, I bless and consecrate this wine and you who drink of it. In the many names of our goddess of love whose love holds all things together, whose body encircles eternity; I bless and consecrate this wine and you who drink of it. So mote it be.

:: Ross, Sr. then presented it to Tal. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Tal, hold the goblet as Elina drinks and speak your blessing.

Tel-ar: Elina in our new lives together may you never thirst. Blessed be.

:: Tal then placed a chaste kiss upon her lips. ::

:: Elina held the goblet as Tal drank. ::

E. Kincade: Tal in our new lives together may you never thirst. Blessed be.

:: Elina then handed the goblet back to her father and rejoined their hands as he said the final blessing. ::

R. Kincade, Sr.: Elina and Tal, may the love you have found grow in meaning and strength until its beauty is shown in a common devotion to all that is compassionate and life-giving. May the flow of your love help bri ghten the face of the earth. May the source of all love touch and bless your lives with color and courage. May the blessing that rests upon all who love, rest also upon you, and fill you with grace. May the bond that unites you ever be strengthened. May you so love and work together in the days that are to come that your lives shall be enriched and ennobled by a true and deepening comradeship of mind and heart.

R. Kincade, Sr.: May your continued lives together be joyful and content. May your love continue to be as bright as the stars, as warm as the sun as accepting as the ocean and as enduring as the mountains. May the challenges of your life together be met with courage and optimism. May you learn from your failures and grow in your achievements. May life bless you with children, friends, and family in a wide network of mutual support and enjoyment. May you face pai n, toil and trouble with a stout but light heart. May you share with others the radiance of your seasons of joy and pleasure.

R. Kincade, Sr.: May you always remember that laughter is the medicine of the Gods. May the spirit of love be ever a part of your lives so that the union we here celebrate this day be worthy of continued celebration tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. We rejoice in this day in the marriage between Elina and Tal. We celebrate the love that brought them here to this day. With love that deepens through out the years, may they know its meaning and its mystery, how they become truly one in sharing themselves with one another, and yet, remain truly two in their own uniqueness. Go now to you dwelling place, to enter into your days together, may the divine spirit which resides in you both be your guide and light. May your days and nights together be good and long. Blessed be. Congratulations Elina and Tal. I wish you both well on your continued journey.

Hameldon: ::To Tal:: Well? Kiss her, mon ami!

Tel-ar: Very well. ::Tal replied as he stepped forward, slipped his arms around Elina and easily lifted her so that he could plant a long sensual kiss on her lips. He could hear the yells, whoops and whistles around them. As well as a few comments that would normally have caused him to see red, but not today.::

:: No, today he would keep his temper. After all Jason had explained this to him once. The comments were ment in a nice way. It was an accepted human custom among certain ethnic groupings. As was the kiss. A kiss that lasted, that heated his blood. No under normal cercumstances he would never have kissed Elina like this in front of anyone. ::

:: No, today he would smile, accept their good wish's and make a good impression. After all it was the least he could do to make the day memorable. That also was one of those things that Jason had explained to him. About how im portant this day was to human females. ::

:: Finally finished with the kiss, Tal reluctantly lowered Elina back down onto her feet. ::

:: As the group made their way back up to the castle for the feast, Elina glanced down at her left hand. The ring felt so strange, and yet so right. Engraved in the surface was the traditional blessing along with Tal's name written in the ancient Celtic script. Within his was the same blessing only with her name. She fought to hold back the tears of joy welling in her eyes. There was something freeing in knowing that he was hers forever. As long as he stood beside her, she'd never have to fear anything again. With him at her side, she could do anything. ::

*************************

A joint post brought to you by

PNPC Ross Kincade, Sr.

Father of Lt. Kincade

&

PNPC Annie Hameldon

Goddaughter of Lt. Kincade

as simmed by Lt. Kincade

&

Lt. Elina Rose Kincade

Nurse

USS Challenger-A

&

Lt. Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar

First Officer

USS Challenger-A

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