Chapter 6: A New Promise
Such courage, at least for Veram. One would expect that a warrior known for facing down a hundred enemy soldiers all on their own would muster enough mind and will to say such a simple phrase to a woman. Rima's fingers ran through her silk black hair, placing a group of strands behind her rose blushed face. She did not dare to look at Veram in the eye.
Veram looked away for one second as well, but then returned his gaze on her opal eyes. He prayed in his heart for any utterance from her lips.
"… Thank you." Rima said. It seemed to take all of her courage for her to say that, or anything in that matter. Though, it was all Veram wanted. He smiled, a sign of joyful acceptance of those two words. He bowed his head, then made his way back to the temple tent.
"What a wonderful young man. Do you not agree, Rima?" Tibei chuckled while flashing a devious grin at her daughter.
"Mother, I know what you are thinking."
"I am glad you know. He would make a fine husband. Just imagine being wed to a warrior like him. You would not have to worry about him breaking his wedding vow." Tibei sighed dreamily, as if on Rima's behalf. "Oh, and think of the children, nice, strapping young men and beautiful daughters."
"You speak as if we were wed already. He has not even asked for a courtship."
"Well, I would not be surprised if he did. Trust me, after what he said today, he will be back soon."
"Let us just get this store closed. It is almost the ninth hour." Rima replied. Her mother refused to let go of the subject, but even she did not want to have the ninth hour sun looming down on her portion of the market. All the food, as well as the conversation, was packed away, awaiting a new day.
Veram was able to make it to the temple in time before the ninth hour. All the provisions were brought to the two cooks in the tent. One cook took the meat outside to the fire. The other prepared the rest of the meal.
Veram was making his way outside to wash his hands as he passed by the elder.
"How was the marketplace, Veram? Were you able to meet Rima?"
"Am I that revealing of my emotions?"
"You are. Well?"
"I am not sure. I do admire her, but I do not want to do anything that I will regret." Gehaf settled his hand on his shoulder.
"Veram, along with the vow of the Vokashe, marriage is the greatest promise you could ever make. It is the sign of everlasting love with one woman that you chose to bond with for the rest of your life. If you believe Rima is that woman, there is no need for you to hesitate."
Veram pondered about such a proposition. He knew well what a vow meant. He had been bound to the Vokashe vow ever since he was able to hold a training sword. But now, he was introduced to a new promise. Was it like the vow of the Vokashe or not at all? Could it be easily broken with no dishonor, or could it be a vow that one had no choice in keeping until death? What conditions came with it? What must be paid for the vow to be sealed?
These were only a few of the lingering inquiries that he believed needed resolution. However, there was one thing he knew for certain. There must be consent from her and her parents. For that, he must first ask to court Rima, at least once.
"Tomorrow," he softly replied, "I'll go tomorrow."
"Alright then, hold yourself to that word. Do not hold back further."
"Yes, Gehaf-be." You do not go against the elder's words, nor his sage advice.
A call from the far end of the massive tent, claiming that the culinary confections are complete. As four Vokashe men carried the table outside, which was no more than two large wooden boards, all brought their mats around the food.
All the men stood around the table, with the elder at the head. The men next to him, and the pupils at the end. They remained silent, waiting for the elder to say the blessing.
He raised his hand.
"Blessed are you, Sharofai (another name for Lord), our Heba, ruler of the universe, who brings forth food from the land."
"So, it is!" The rest of the men replied in unison. The elder sat down, and all followed after.
The meal comprised nothing more of what Veram brought that day. Suffice to say that the bread and salted beef was what they warred for the most.
Each group discussed amongst themselves. Veram tried to avoid the topic of love and marriage among his peers. Besides Gehaf, there was only one other he wanted to talk to about this.
The twelfth hour had arrived. Veram placed his mat down in his room and faced away from the setting sun.
"I thank the One Above for allowing me to keep my vow." His body continued to sway with fervor. "But… I wanted to also ask you. Should I take on a new vow with Rima? I do love her, but I want your permission and blessing."
With that, Veram went to bed, awaiting Heba's answer.