There was feasting afterwards. Drinks from all over the lands were brought out and everyone at the high table was expected to drink a bit of each to show their appreciation. Musha served both Kiran and then himself as the different foods and drinks came out. Etiquette stated that Musha should water down his own drinks, so he went through the motions but made sure little water actually touched his alcohol. He felt he needed it more than anyone else there. Kiran, catching his movements gave him an easy grin, still high off the adrenaline of the fight. Musha gave a forced smile back.
The high table hosted several different high ranking military leaders. Foreign dignitaries were all seated at the second table to not show favoritism. A few came up to congratulate them in ways following their various cultures. A few gave more alcohol, others gave various trinkets or prayers. A Sishin approached and with a bold look asked to give them both healing. Musha met the gaze and politely accepted, feeling the judging looks coming from the table hosting the Valens. Well they could deal. Their bias against casters was completely unfounded. Musha melted into the spell that worked its way through his body, healing various sprains and small ailments his body had been carrying since the last proper healer had come by the border. After the Sishin various other casters came and offered their spells till Musha was light headed from both the magic and the alcohol.
The others at the table were clearly on their way to getting drunk as well. The subject had moved from the fight and various techniques to the crude remarks all men in the military, even the priests, were fond of. High General Rin laughed as someone finished their version of the very popular ambassador joke, which was always a challenge in vulgarity. "Aye, that is how politics is done. It's why Kiran has always been so popular with the people. I doubt there's a single race he hasn't graced the bed of. I don't know how we'll be keeping the peace with him tied down now."
Musha glanced at his husband who just laughed in response with the rest of the table. Fantastic, on top of everything Kiran was a whore. Musha was tired and well on his way to getting annoyed. There was a reason he didn't drink he remembered. He decided it was time to put an end to the evening. The only thing left was the presentation. If he could he'd skip it entirely, but he'd seen the looks the Valen's, in particular the other feishas, had been shooting at him. The presentation was the largest part of a Valen wedding. It was a chance to show off the bride. Going without it would give the impression the High King didn't think Musha was worth showing off. Which he wasn't, but the hoax must go on. He waited for the conversation to drift before quietly making his excuses and standing up to get changed. Cairo got up to escort him.
There was a small sitting room with a curtain and a pile of cloths. Musha hadn't given into the advice of the other feishas about going for an elaborate costume. Anything with too many pieces would likely just trip him up. He grabbed the loose fitting black cloth wishing he could savor being in cloths that didn't bind, but there was nothing to enjoy about this moment. He went behind the curtain to change. It was only then he truly took in his wedding gown. He wished he had watched as the feishas had put it on him. He followed the cloth but couldn't find where the wrapping began or ended. He randomly tried to tug, but it just made it tighter. Giving up he decided to just tear the piece, but it wouldn't rip. Goddess. He was trapped.
After a few more minutes of desperately tugging and trying to get any of the bindings free he gave up and peaked his head out of the curtain to stare at Cairo. "Do you have a knife on you?"
The giant man raised his brows. "I heard you didn't wish to perform, but isn't that a bit dramatic?" Musha rolled his eyes, not bothering to ask who had mentioned his reluctance to the man. It was probably Ace, that traitor. He stepped out and motioned at the robe, not bothering to be delicate as no one else was in the room. The man burst into laughter. "You're stuck?"
"Yes" Musha hissed before catching himself. There was no reason to get worked up about this, it was just a minor, if incredibly embarrassing hitch.
"I don't have a knife." Musha stared at him incredulously. "I work with the beasts. Only those in the guard or army are allowed to carry weapons to ceremonies. I can go ask someone, but you'll have to come with me."
"No." Musha was not leaving the room still in his robe. People would stare and wonder, and servants couldn't keep secrets. Within minutes everyone would know he'd been defeated by a piece of clothing. In all his years protecting the border he had never admitted defeat, he wasn't going to start now. "Just come over here and help me find a way to take this off."
"I doubt that that'd be considered appropriate for a chaperone." Even as he said it he was approaching with a critical expression, eyeing the robe.
"My other chaperone already asked me to take her to see whores, you'll be fine."
"My brother was warned Cas might not be the best chaperone." Cairo had moved to the back of the robe, "does it matter if something gets torn?"
"No, I have a separate, simpler robe to change into after."
"Damn, I would have loved to have seen Kiran's expression tonight if you just went to bed in one of these contraptions. You should do that sometime, and insist he can't rip anything. See what great strategy he would come up with." Musha was sure he would have thought the joke funnier if it didn't bring to mind the stomach churning fact that he'd soon be doing something that he was very pointedly not thinking about at the moment. "Ok, breath deep, this is going to get tight for a moment." Musha was embarrassed by the involuntary noise he made as the cloth cut off his breath before ripping. "There." Cairo handed him the cloth proudly before turning back around, Musha supposed for modesties sake.
"Thank you" Musha went to hide behind the curtain as he tugged the rest off.
"You're welcome. Do you mind if I'm the one that tells Kiran I got to tug his bride's robes off?" The man was entirely too good humored in Musha's opinion.
"Be my guest." He sighed in relief as the last fabric fell to the floor before he tugged on the dance outfit. It was a bit more skimpy then he'd specified, particularly the underclothes, but he'd deal. It was just five minutes, on the stage then off. Most of the guests were already drunk and the marriage was final. In the end it wouldn't matter how badly he messed this up. His father's house could just deal with the shame of producing a bad feisha. "I'm ready." He stepped out, and quickly made his way to the door, not in the mood for more good natured jokes from his new brother.
"What are they doing up there?" Musha, who'd been pointedly not looking at anything at all followed Cairo's gaze to the stage and felt his stomach drop. Of course, he should have seen this coming.
"It appears some of the visiting fieshas have decided to honor me with a pre-performance performance." He couldn't keep the dryness from his voice, though he made sure to keep a smile on his face as they approached then stopped in front of the stage.
One of the feishas smiled down at them and gave a polite speech about hoping to honor Musha, "though" he ended sweetly, "we know we'll pale in comparison to honored feisha Musha we hope you all enjoy our performance as well." Musha bowed his head in acknowledgment. The feishas had on long pure white robes with dancing feathers and sweet kirshan flutes. He was fucked.
As the music began and the intricate movements started Musha was able to dully recognize two as being trained by Sol himself, and unlike Musha, having actually gained skill from the feisha. If the Valen hatred for magic wasn't so well known it would have appeared they were using castors they flew across the stage effortlessly and played piercing sweet music. Even by Valen standards it was a fairly impressive show, though Musha bet Ace's feishas could probably have outperformed them. He almost wished he'd asked them to do one too, but being shown up once was going to be bad enough.
"Can you dance like that?" Musha shot Cairo a glare, the man winced sympathetically, "Yeah, I doubted it. I can't imagine anyone who eats anything other than leaves being able to frolic like that. So I'm guessing this wasn't done with as sweet of intentions as they claimed."
The music was loud and no one else was close so Musha felt safe whispering back, "I don't see why they bothered. It's not like I needed others to show me up to look bad. Dancing hasn't been something I've had any skill with."
"I can see why. How are you even going to manage those little spins and twists?"
"Tradition says I'm allowed to use either Valen or Sapien dances. I'm planning on doing a mix."
Cairo grinned, still keeping his eyes on the delicate figures on the stage, "If I were you I'd go Sapien. Very Sapien. That would certainly make making a comparison between your performance and theirs difficult." From Cairo's grin Musha could tell what he meant by 'very Sapien' and resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
On stage a white haired feisha had began to sing opera sweetly. Musha caught himself wondering just how much slutty he could pull off. Full on nudity was definitely out, but he supposed he could take off an outer layer or two. Goddess, he chastised himself, he was being ridiculous. But his mind kept wondering back as the performance showed no signs of ending. Finally after some well placed chemical reactions that sent smoke and beautiful purple flames dancing with the feishas the music died down to a dramatic stop. Completely unnecessary and tacky he thought before he could stop himself. He timed it at being about ten minutes long. Cairo shared a look with him.
"As the main performance I have to be at least as long theirs." The crowd was loudly cheering as the feishas took their bows.
Cairo looked thoughtful, "You know my mother always said that sword play was the best form of dance a Sapien woman could learn. I've met many other women of the same thought." That would have been a nice opinion to have heard a few days ago. In the background Lord Orr was loudly declaring that that was how feishas performed.
"Well I don't have a sword. I just have four minutes of dancing awkwardly."
"Do your awkward dancing and I'll go get my brother to get you sword." Despite himself Musha decided to trust the man. Silently he took off the outer layer of his outfit and handed it to the man who gave him another grin. "Good luck."
Musha regretted taking off his outer robe as soon as he stepped on stage. He wasn't bearing much skin, but it still left him feeling ridiculous as he stood with hundreds of eyes on him. He was keenly aware of how large and muscular his body was. It shouldn't embarrass him. His size and strength had saved his life more times then he could count. Still though, the thoughts from his youth clamored in his head as he heard dozens of whispering voices coming from the crowd. With a breath and dulled his senses.
The music began. He'd chosen a simple Sapien dancing tune that had a consistent beat. His body wanted to freeze, like when he'd been casted by a freezer at the boundary, but he didn't let it. This was no different than showing off proper fighting technique to his soldiers. He just had to move his body to the movements he'd seen others do. There was a Sapien catcall from the crowd. Musha just kept dancing.
As the music got slower and more sensual he tuned out the crowd completely and focused solely on his movement. At this point the dance stopped flirting at the edge of being sexual and became blatantly so. Goddess, he repeated his mantra in his head, though he'd long ago given up on religion. This shouldn't cause shame to warm his face. He was married now and was going to be doing much more then dancing. He wasn't a shy teenager to be embarrassed about the subject. He'd heard, and even witnessed, almost every sexual act known in the land. A commander of the army didn't feel shame. Even most feishas only pretended to. He was being ridiculous. He was thankful for a moment when the dance ended before he remembered that meant had another six minutes of unscripted performance to get through. Before he could truly begin to worry he noticed a soldier standing at the edge of the stage holding two performance swords.
Trying to appear graceful he walked over to the swords. They were beautifully crafted and meticulously engraved. From the settings and the royal colors Musha figured they likely belonged to Kiran himself. He'd only seen actual performance swords a few times, as they weren't standard equipment. But Sapien soldiers would often use standard swords to show off their moves. They were exaggerated movements, fast, elaborate and difficult. Musha on his own rarely used swords, and when he did they were used bluntly and effectively, but this he could do. As a commander of a post he was also the lead weapon master. A different tune went on and he moved the swords easily, just feeling relief that the dancing was over. The sword demonstration ended quickly and he bowed as the crowd cheered. He gave Cairo an almost genuine smile as he handed the soldier back the swords. His brothers' feishas quickly made their way up, all of them smiling as they lead him back to the changing room.
Musha was glad he'd folded and put up the ruined wedding robe. As the door close the feishas all turned to him and took turns giving him quick embraces. "I can't believe those men! We specifically put out a request to give no honoring performances to keep the ceremony quick. Not that it mattered. I think you held your own wonderfully." Mal amended at the end, though he was still visibly seething.
"Yes, and having costumes, dancing, opera, props and chemicals during a pre-performance? It was all lovely, but a bit much." Kia was clearly still attempting some diplomacy but his tone gave him away.
"All that matters is that it's over" Musha replied.
"Oh but you did very well. Your bold Sapien dance definitely appealed to the crowd more than theirs. I happened to notice your husband was watching you with some clear interest" Mal was giving as close as feishas other then Vashi ever got to a suggestive smile. "Though, he and all the other army men seemed more interested in your sword demonstration." He raised his eyes sky ward to show what he thought of that foolishness. Musha just smiled blandly, uncertain of how he felt about that.
Ria continued with a giggle, "how did you enjoy the fight to claim you? The High King seemed very fit."
"Yes, he is clearly a formidable fighter and worthy of his title as the best in the land." The other feishas gave him disappointed looks, but he was not about to titter about seeing the man without his shirt on. It felt weird to consider a body as anything other than a weapon for fighting. He watched closely this time as the feishas knotted the robe. He was going to be sure he could get out of it this time.
A servant came into the room after knocking politely, "when you're ready, your escort awaits in the hall to take you to KIran's chambers."