Cole and Malachai arrived in time for the royal procession. There were numerous celebrators lining the avenues, and though many other of the processions had passed by, they seemed to be joyfully anticipating the presentation of the king in particular.
First came the music which was to lead the extravaganza. Of course it was none other than Basil, and his band of equally impressive bards, who once bedazzled the ears of all present at the Tahni festival, playing the tune which signaled the royal procession had begun. Needless to say any expectation of the performance was assured, and flawlessly the music resonated in the streets.
Then the decadent carriages that were driven by the castle's finest coachmen galloped onward. Inside the boxes of pillowed luxury, hidden behind the velvety curtains hanging over the windows, sat the wise sages who would every now and then peek out and kindly wave once, before darting back into the comforts of the carriage.
There was an uproarious cheer the second Cole came into view; he nearly shrank back from the outburst, but as his steed trotted along he slowly erected his back and posed with the confidence of a truly noble king. It can be said that his confidence was lifted even more so when he waved at a group of random celebrators, and they swooned from his handsome demeanor.
The males of the crowd were holding contraptions that resembled pop guns, and when they pulled back on these devices, aside from the expected noise, streams of ribbons shot forth from them. They were flying in all directions, and countless ribbons landed on Cole, blanketing him in the thin garments. The females held in their hands pretty little butterflies. They would bow reverently as the star-born king passed by, then they would gently kiss the butterfly, which is said to be the whisper of the heart, and the insects would soar into the sky. This solemn act translates to the kiss being one's most precious desire, and when planted upon the butterfly, it inherits the wish; giving flight to the secrets of one's own heart.
The crowd was cheering and crying out in the language of the fae, "May your dreams have wings!"
It can be said that there was the slightest disappointment on behalf of the celebrators when the absence of Ruby was noticed. Many of the spectators had been present during her historic dance; the event of which had been the main gossip for the last month, aside from the royal wedding.
Cole perceived this and sighed; in his mind he too wondered where his companion was, and in that moment his eyes wandered to the rooftops of the avenues. Suddenly, but too brief to be wholly certain, the young man dreamt he spotted a figure watching him from high above; this apparition disappeared like a specter, but he could have sworn they were dressed like a large, white bird; the very same that bestowed upon him the golden feather he now bore, pinned to his attire.
Stirred from this fancy Cole returned his glance when Malachai said, "You are well received, my liege. This is fair news; Lady Raylyn must have spoken well about you to her kin. As for me, I did my part to spread good repute when I found time."
"I guess it's better than having mud thrown on me," Cole replied as a fresh wave of ribbons were draped upon him.
"You give too much credit to the generosity of the fae; it is true they are renown for their holidays and celebrations, but if they are scorned - let it be said that something far worse than mud would be thrown your way."
"Worse than marriage?"
"This is a joyous occasion; you of all living in Avelen should be praising this day has finally come. Is it not you who most desires to bring Ruby back? The coronation is important, nay necessary, for such an endeavor. Chin up, my king, and delight in in this merriment; this may be your last opportunity for such a thing."
Cole's grief would have lightened if perhaps he had been able to see the parade in its entirety. There were bizarre animals that were being marched along; there were acrobats performing breathtaking feats of dexterity and balance; there was even a magic show so magnificent the young man caught near glimpses of the glowing lights at a distance, but all of these he missed since he was just another spectacle for the celebrators to enjoy. He knew of them and all of their splendor, however, because Aira oversaw his attention to the details of the wedding; thus he calculated that all too soon he would be ushered back to the castle, where the second ceremony would commence.
His guess was mere foresight, and before long he was conducted to the castle grounds; behind him the jubilation carried on, led by Basil's band, and the streets of the kingdom transformed into a haven of happiness that is inspired by the union of young lovers.
He was escorted to the inner garden, exacting his movements according to how he was trained, and when the doors opened from the outer corridor all eyes fell upon Cole. There were many attendants awaiting his arrival, and they looked upon him admiringly. They were all dressed with the most exquisite attire, yet none could compare to the king.
As he entered with mechanical strides, the same feeling of irony tickled him and he thought to himself, "Isn't it strange, being married in the same place I'm used to fighting."
Before the princess was presented, a group of individuals formed at one end of the garden, and in unison they began to lift their voices and sing; the indescribable sound of perfect melody issued forth from their mouths. They were a choir of fae , and if their race were considered masters of music, then their gift of song was celestial. The heavens themselves could only rival such divine sound. Their voices filled the air, and all the attendants were captivated by awe. A quiver started at Cole's shoulders and worked itself down along his back; this was the first time his ears were acquainted with such a soulful song.
Suddenly Aira appeared before the wedding guests, and all eyes were now on her. She was wearing a veil that disguised her, but after approaching Cole, the king lifted it from her face. Hearts skipped a beat; breath was taken away; everyone immediately became enamored by her radiance - in that moment she was the jewel of Avelen, and illuminated the entire castle.
Cole had surrendered to this fate, but briefly as he lifted the veil, he had hoped in an impossible wish that perhaps the face of another might be behind it. When his gaze fell upon Aira, he attempted a smile to answer her own.
An orator of high reputation and recognized merit bellowed out a rather winded speech while everyone present stared at the princess; she was the envy of all. The ceremony produced tears that ran down the faces of many attendants as Cole and Aira in turn gave practiced vows and responses, which were also sung, though Cole stumbled when pronouncing some of the words in fae. At the end of the ceremony, a ribbon was wrapped around their wrists as the couple joined hands, and glorious crowns were placed atop their heads; the guests cheered as the sign of matrimony was finalized and the ceremony concluded.