“Here we are,” Madame Vivian stated as she stopped.
Blinking Sarah realized they were at the ring of Willows. There was no path in, though Sarah had seen one the other day, but Grand-Moyther Magdalene stood before them. The elderly woman nodded to Sarah before turning to Madame Vivian.
“Do you freely give Lady Phoenix and Goodwoman, Sarah Ann Smith, to the Gods to be bound in Betrothal to Lord Phoenix and Scout Sergeant, Jason de Borguez?”
“By the will of the Gods I do.” Madam Vivian replied.
“Then come child,” the Grand-Moyther turned to Sarah and held out her hand, “and enter the Great-Grand Moyther’s house to be cleansed before you enter into this betrothal.”
Sarah let the elderly woman lead her under the willow trees where a small hut stood below their boughs. Ducking Sarah entered the dark interior. A single candle flickered as the Grand-Moyther closed the door. From it she lit candles around the room. When her task was complete, she turned back to Sarah.
“Do you come freely of your own will to enter into this betrothal with Lord Phoenix and Scout Sergeant, Jason de Borguez?”
“Yes,” Sarah replied and the Grand-Moyther smiled.
“By the will of the Gods I do,” she prompted.
“By the will of the Gods I do,” Sarah repeated, thankful that saying so didn’t mean she got a headache.
“Do you understand all the restriction placed upon you during Tri-Luna?”
“I think so?”
The Grand-Moyther’s smile widened. “Undress for your bathing as I remind you.”
The elderly woman retrieved a ladle from the wall and stepped up to tub that took up a quarter of the hut. She scooped up some water and poured it over her hand before nodding.
“There are three rules to Tri-Luna that you must remember,” she began to speak again. “The first rule is that you must behave as if you were married to Lord Phoenix. There is to be no straying of the mind, thinking that another might be better. You must be clear in your commitment to him. Do you understand this?”
Sarah nodded. “Fidelity to Jay. I think I can handle that.” She smiled, as she took off her jacket.
The Grand-Moyther nodded. “The second rule is that you must not give in to the pleasures of the flesh, that is a reward best save for the bounds of marriage, not Tri-Luna.”
“So abstinence,” Sarah surmised as she stepped from her skirt. “Shouldn’t be an issue,” I hope, she completed silently.
“The third and most important rule is that you must mold yourselves to each other mentally, so that your house hold may function as one no matter how things are done.”
“Um,” Sarah wasn’t what word to use.
“Compatibility child,” The Grand-Moyther smiled as Sarah stripped herself of her chemise.
“I think Jay and I have compatibility covered,” Sarah chuckled.
“That does not mean there will never be room for improvement,” the Grand-Moyther chided. Sarah bowed her head in obedience and Grand-Moyther Magdalene helped her into the tub. “Reflect upon these three virtues; fidelity, abstinence and compatibility as you are bathed.”
Focusing her thoughts as directed, Sarah let the water envelop her. Grand-Moyther Magdalene used the ladle to pour it over her, washing her in its soft scent. As the ritual lulled her into a relaxed state, Sarah felt as if she was suspended in light and love. Time had no meaning until a deep note reverberated through her. Suddenly fully conscious, Sarah found herself exposed and cold for the water was gone.
“Rise and be clothed in the manner of the Gods that you may enter this betrothal pure of mind, body, and spirit!”
Sarah stood and climbed from the tub with the Grand-Moyther's help. Wondering what was next, she let herself be placed in front of a second door. For a moment, Sarah thought the Grand-Moyther was going to present her naked. Instead, the woman brought over a chemise and slid it over Sarah’s head. Then the she helped Sarah don long jacket. With an adjustment to the ties, Grand-Moyther Magdalene made the jacket front rise just above Sarah’s bare feet leaving the back to trail behind her.
“And thus every woman heading to her betrothal is clothed,” Grand-Moyther Magdalene stated as she opened the door. “Come,” she held her hand out to Sarah, “and be betrothed before the Gods.”