|Stone Circles and Rosy Cheeks
Author: Rayne Logan PM
Ciara is a cursed woman... or so the town believes. And who'd want to marry a cursed woman? How about a complete stranger who washes up on the beach...? R&R pleaseRated: Fiction M - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,529 - Reviews: 19 - Updated: 08-05-06 - Published: 07-24-06 - id: 2217560
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: I'm not too sure about this story anymore… it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I'll try and add a couple more chapters to it and see if I can get back into the plot though.
chapter 4: Preparations
Over the next few days, a lot of people came to visit Ciara, most of them wanted to be involved in the Matchmaking Ceremony, and it was these people whom Ciara gave a little bunch of lavender to, as well as the details of what would happen at the ceremony… though many of them already knew. At the Matchmaking Ceremony, the whole village was present – for the start of the Ceremony anyway. When it was time for the participants to depart from the area, the rest of the village usually went to the village hall for a small feast. Many times, Ciara had sat with the King and the Queen at that feast, wondering if everyone from the ceremony would find a partner successfully. The next morning, the couples could usually be seen strolling through the village, hand in hand, miraculously looking as though they loved each other… even though, for some of them, they had despised each other before the ceremony. Ciara always found it fascinating… and it was one of the reasons why she was confident the ceremony would work for her, too. Dione would find her a partner and even if he'd despised her before the ceremony, he would then grow to love her for what she was – rather than to hate her for this stupid curse that the village people had put upon her.
When Alicia and Rose came to the Hut, Ciara was pleased to see them, for these were the only two girls taking part who would not be scared in coming to see her. The two princesses arrived wearing well-made cloth cloaks and smiled, greeting Ciara warmly. They then sat down and Ciara proceeded to explain what would happen at the Ceremony.
"All of the Participants will wear masks and cloaks. The masks are already premade, and I will deliver them to you before the ceremony takes place. You must keep your mask a secret, and only reveal it when you are about to wear it. When the bell sounds, you must go back to your rooms and get dressed. When the second bell sounds, you must make your way to the clearing in the forest where the Matchmaking Ceremony takes place. The women will line up on one side of the clearing, the men on the other. When the third bell sounds, the men and women scatter around the forest. You must make sure you can see the village at all times, or else you may wander too far and get lost. If you meet up with a man you must greet him. You can tell the men from the women by their mask. Men have more masculine totems, such as dragons, crows, dogs and snakes. Woman wear the feminine masks – butterflies, cats, doves and rabbits. If the man greets you back, you must then do the ceremonial dance with him. If he then disappears and comes back with some sort of flower to give you, he is then the partner that Dione has chosen for you. You may spend the night with your partner, and in the morning, the two of you must come back to my hut, together, and give me the masks that you both wore."
Alicia and Rose, both wide-eyed, nodded at Ciara. They looked quite nervous, and if Ciara was in their position, she would be nervous too. She remembered first doing the preparations for the Matchmaking Ceremony… she'd been so scared that she would do something wrong… but in the end, everything had gone fine. Ciara had explained the ceremony so many times, and had watched it so much, that the pattern of events was embedded in her mind.
"Have you both got what to do?" Ciara asked, smiling at them both. The two girls exchanged glances, and Alicia cleared her throat before speaking.
"What if we don't like our partner at the end?"
Ciara thought for a moment, pondering over the possibility of this happening. She guessed that Alicia had asked this not for herself, but for her father's sake. If the King of Altoria didn't like the men who had been chosen as partners for his daughters… what would happen?
"I suggest that you try and get along with him, and if you really don't think that there is any chance of you two being able to live together, as is Dione's wish, then you may separate and both take part in the next Matchmaking Ceremony."
Alicia nodded, satisfied with Ciara's answer. Both girls had lowered their hoods when they had entered the hut. It had been decided that their presence in the Matchmaking Ceremony would not be known until the day after the ceremony, when their partners had been chosen. This way, there was no need to fear whether someone would prey upon Alicia and Rose and try to fix the ceremony so that they were partnered to one of them. Alicia, with her long blonde hair and pretty blue eyes, peered around the hut that Ciara called home, and smiled, suddenly looking quite radiant and… confident. Rose, on the other hand, was quite withdrawn, her green eyes darkened with worry. Ciara tilted her head slightly to catch the younger girl's eyes, and Rose looked up at her, faking a smile.
"Is there anything you want to ask, Rose?"
She began to shake her head, but looked thoughtful for a moment. Ciara watched her, knowing that any of the men in the village would be pleased with either Alicia or Rose as their partner. As well as the money that came with them, each was very beautiful. Typical Altorian princesses.
"Well… sort of." Rose said, looking back at Ciara. "What if you go through the Matchmaking Ceremony but want to… wait for getting married and all of that business?"
"You mean bearing children?" Ciara asked. This was obviously a concern of her own, and when Rose nodded, Ciara just smiled.
"I'm sure if you don't want to go through all of that straight away, your partner would be happy to comply with your wishes. You are the Second heir of Altoria after all."
She thought about this for a moment, before giving Ciara a genuine smile. "Yes… you're right. Thank you Ciara."
"You're very welcome." Ciara reached over to her herb table and picked up two of the lavender bunches she had spent the morning making.
"What are these for?" Alicia asked, curiously taking hers and looking at it.
"Just to prove that you have come to me and know what you must do in the ceremony. If you two don't want anyone knowing that you are going to take part in it, you must hide these so that no one can find them… but don't discard them. You need them at the Ceremony."
The girls nodded and each put their lavender bunch away so it was no longer visible to the eyes of the world. They then stood and Ciara mirrored their action, curtseying to them as they turned and left her hut. Ciara watched them go for a moment, before moving back to her herb table to make some more of the lavender bunches. Already, around ten or twelve people had come to visit her and had taken one of the bunches, but Ciara was aware that there wasn't actually enough females taking part, so it may be that Ciara would have to visit some of the younger females in the village and ask them to take part. Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that… but there were still a few hours left in the day, and Ciara was certain that a few more people would come to visit her within that time.
Ciara set to typing a small bundle of lavender together and looked at it for a moment, cradling it in her hands. It was such a small gesture that could mean someone's future being provided for them… after a few minutes of looking at the lavender, she put it in the pocket of her robe. After all, she was going to need one as well, wasn't she?