I went to the door to let uncle Ben in.

"We're all ready to go Uncle Ben. Is Mike ready to escort Morgan?" I asked.

"Yeah, he's downstairs. Let's go. The guests are all in place, and Thalion is waiting at the Oinurte with his parents.

"Oinurte?' Mom asked, bewildered.

"It's an intricate woven rug that represents the home. It's where most of the ceremony takes place. It's in a mowed circle in the centre of the clearing in the orchard. On the Oinurte is a standing round barbecue with burning hot coals and amber incense in it. It takes the place of a traditional brazier. There is also a little stand with a silver bowl of rainwater in it." Uncle Ben explained to mom as we all went down the stairs.

When we got to the huge marble floored vestibule, Morgan went to the big double doors and opened one of them a crack to peek out. It was full dark by then, and the long mowed path to the orchard was lined with both human and Elven well wishers. Each one held a long tapered candle to light the way for the wedding party.

As maid of honour and best man, Mike and Morgan had to lead the way to the ceremony circle. Morgan looked pale and close to tears. I went to her and hugged her.

"You'll do fine Morgan. Your dad will be escorting you, so you have his arm to lean on. Just take a deep breath, and commune with the air and the night as you move through it. Tap into the inner strength that we all know you have in you." I said as I tried to reassure her.

The church bells in the village rang to indicate the beginning of the wedding proceedings. Morgan took a deep breath, stood up tall and went out the door. She walked calmly with her dad, and when they got to the end of the path they continued on to stand behind the Oinurte across from Thalion and his parents. Morgan held my ring in a little royal blue ring box waiting till it was time to give it to Thalion to give to me. Mike held Thalion's ring to give to me when it was time to give the ring to Thalion.

The next to go down the path were aunt Sarah and uncle Ben. They would sign as witnesses on the marriage certificate. Morgan was under 21 and couldn't sign legal documents yet. Mom had to sign a permission certificate for me to marry because I was under 21 too.

I had to wit till the path was empty, then mom and I would walk down it. Mom was peaking out the door when she start to laugh hilariously.

"What mom? What's so funny?"

She couldn't speak, she was laughing too hard. I went to look, and I couldn't help but laugh too.

Fancy Anne and my dad James were walking down the path as though part of the procession. He was showing himself to us as the young man he was when he died. Fancy Anne waved and blew kisses at the guests although it was obvious no one could see them but us. James walked beside Fancy Anne, bowing and pretending to shake people's hands as if they were royalty. they got to the end of the path, and turned toward us. They both waved and blew kisses, then diasappeared!

As soon as aunt Sarah and uncle Ben left the path, they were led by an usher to a low table with cushions and mats laid down. They wouldn't be needed till after the ceremony to sign the marriage certificate.

Then 'The Wedding March ' was played at the head of the path by a young Elf with some sort of Elven flute. It was quite beautiful. That was our cue to head down the path. There was a smattering of applause from the humans in the group when I descended the stone steps with my mom. As we walked the path, some of the elves threw rose petals along the path in front of us. I had no idea what the significance of that was.

When we got to the end, we went to the Oinurte where Thalion was. The pastor came forward and asked in a loud voice,

"Who gives this woman to be wed?"

"I am her mother, I do." Mom answered.

My mom brought me over to Thalion where she placed my right hand in his right hand. Then the pastor said,

"Who gives this man to be wed?"

Thalion's parents came forward and said together:

"We are his parents, we do." They said.

Then they placed Thalion's left hand in my left hand. Thalion's dad raised his elbow to my mom, indicating for her to take his arm. Then Thalion's dad escorted mom and his wife to the head table under the trees.

The human part of the ceremony was conducted by the pastor in English. It was not translated, because it had been decided by their elder that they wouldn't understand what was going on anyway. The Elven part of the ceremony was performed by the elder in his own language only, for the same reason.

The elder called out ritual greetings to Thalion and I in the elven tongue. There were challenging questions that we had to answer to prove our suitability as a couple. I had learned the answering Elven responses during the week.

I was amazed at the acoustics. Our voices could be heard by everyone although the tables were a fair distance away. Then it was the pastor's turn.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here tonight to celebrate the union of Gloria Diane and Thalion."

He went on to give a short dissertation on the importance of patience and compromise, as well as love and moral support in a Strong marriage. it was sort of a premarital pep talk.

After that, the elder barked out a Sharp command and all the candles were snuffed out. we stood in total darkness except for the light from the burning coals. The elder gave each of us a knife with a long blade and rubber grip. These would be used in a ceremonial way to face off any objections to the union, which was the next part of the ceremony.

"If anyone finds reason to object to this union, let them speak now or forever hold their peace." The pastor shouted, to make sure he was heard.

There was a required two minute silence in case there were any objections. This was said in English so there were no objections from the humans. Thalion gave a sudden snort and covered his mouth to stifle laughter. I followed his line of sight and I had to choke back a laugh too!

Fancy Anne danced a tight circle around us in some bizarrely graceful form of modern dance. James my dad played a ghostly bassoon that only he and Fancy Anne could hear. We were standing in the dim glow of the coals, but they were in the dark. No one else could see them but us. This little performance was for Thalion and I alone, to celebrate our nuptials.

When they were done at the end of the two minute silence, we made soundless  hand clapping gestures and discreetly gave them the 'thumbs up'  sign of approval. They both grinned, and Fancy Anne danced down the path with James behind her. Then they disappeared.

Next came the professional Elven ill - wishers that were hired to make amusing and groundless objections to both of us. This was done to appease anyone who might have real objections. Our traditional reaction was to face the nay sayers together with  raised crossed blades, to refute their  objections as silly and therefore not valid. This part was conducted in both Elven and English. Both races of guests got a very amusing show with the antics of the objectors, with only the bright  full moon as their spotlight.

Then it turned ugly!

Suddenly a male adult Elf jumped out of the shadows and directly confronted Thalion and I in the glow of the coals.

He yelled in a high pitched angry shout.."

"She is not of our clan.. she is not even Elven.. she is Human! We cannot accept her!' 

 He shouted this in English, for my benefit, then he turned to the audience and shouted it in Elven.

Thalion made a move to attack, but I took his blade hand and held it down. We stood together.

"Let me do this, darling,"  I whispered. "I need to do this, or they will never accept me."

Thalion nodded, but he held the blade in a defencive gesture and held me around the waist with his other arm.

"My beloved is not human as I am." I shouted in English. Thalion translated in Elven.

"Yet I love him and accept him as he is, as a man of great worth despite the difference in cultures. My family also hold him in high regard. Will you not give me the same chance to prove my worth?"

There was an audible gasp from the audience, and the Elf stood facing us. His jaw dropped in surprise. He was expecting a fight maybe, but not this.

The Elf bowed low and yelled in Elven.

"I concede!"

The humans couldn't understand him, but they knew what the bow meant. Then he backed into the shadows again.

Mom, Aunt Sarah, uncle Ben, and Thalion's parents rose as a group, and clapped as loud as they could!  Morgan and Mike clapped from their official positions btween the pastor and elder, who also clapped! Within minutes the entire clearing rang with clapping and cheers, including all the Elves!


The End

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