The iridescent male stopped dead, staring at the flaming blade at his throat. Garion eyed him dispassionately as every armed male in the room (the vast majority of them) drew weapons as well. Geran drew the knife he had on his belt and curled Alaea into his arms, holding her tightly.
In the cleared area in front of the Royal family appeared another elfin male who Geran did not recognise but could easily guess the identity of.
This one was significantly taller than the already tall Layadan and practically oozed majesty and power, as well as a grimness of face that implied he was distinctly unamused.
"Foolish boy." The newly appeared male muttered as he stepped forward. He then turned glittering eyes on Garion. "I am King Arailis of the Xadari Elves. I have to admit to being rather surprised to hear of my Daughter's betrothal. It is usually considered polite to ask me first, as well as issue an invite to the event announcing such an occasion." He drawled.
Garion was not impressed by the ancient being.
"It is also usual for a father to protect their daughters from abusive males rather than try and force them to marry said males." Arailis raised an eyebrow at Garion and then looked towards the younger elfin male, still standing stock still at the end of the burning sword of the Guardian of the West.
"Abusive? I think the version of events I have been given vary somewhat from yours." He drawled quietly. Geran turned towards Arailis (conveniently putting Alaea more out of the way) and regarded the elf flatly.
"When we gave her sanctuary at her request, my betrothed was sporting bruises given to her by the one held at the end of my father's sword. Most of the dryads witnessed on more than one occasion him verbally abusing her, your people notably behaving as if this is an acceptable way to treat a lady, let a lone a princess. On this evidence we decided to offer sanctuary to the Lady because it was evident she was not being suitably protected and cared for a Lady should be. As such, with the offer of sanctuary being accepted she became my Father's ward and we have formally asked his permission to marry after I have formally courted the lady and kept to all proprieties." Arailis's eyebrow had risen significantly through the speech from Geran. He stared pointedly at the prince before turned his gaze to Layadan. In barely perceptible movements he was holding Layadan by the hair, glaring violently at the elf and hissing something distinctly violent sounding at the younger male.
From his position holding her, Geran heard Alaea gasp, in shock or surprise he couldn't tell.
Very soon Layadan was cowering in front of his king, looking terrified as the rest of the hall watched on in shock. It was obvious Arailis was less than amused as his glow strengthened as he continued what they could only guess was a diatribe from the tone. Suddenly Arailis flung Layadan down, clearly having knocked the male out with the force of his throw. He then turned luminous eyes on his daughter.
"He will be tried in front of the entire court and cast out for both harming our crown princess and lying to me. Now Alaea, introduce me to this man you have chosen as your mate." Alaea stared at her father in shock before shaking herself and uncurling from Geran's chest.
"My Lord Father, may I introduce Prince Geran of Riva, son of Belgarion, Godslayer, Guardian of the West, Disciple of Aldur and King of Riva." Arailis regarded the princess and Geran with an inscrutable expression. He then nodded.
"You have cared for my daughter well and treated her honourably Prince Geran. Know this however, hurt her and there is not a place in the world you can hide where I cannot find you and dismember you as slowly as possible." Geran went white as there was utter silence and then Garion snorted and sheathed his sword.
"It nice to know that speech doesn't change between peoples King Arailis. Welcome to my court. Pardon the less than warm welcome but we were unsure of your intentions to Our daughter and would protect her with everything we have." Arailis actually smiled.
"We do indeed have something in common then my Lord Godslayer. And I accept you welcome." Arailis smiled dryly and then walked over to his daughter.
Alaea looked up at his somewhat cautiously, still rather shocked from his recent actions. Her father held his arms out and with a soft, startled cry, Alaea fell into them and sighed softly as he encased her in his arms. After several long moments he drew back and kissed her head. He then intertwined her hand with Geran's and a red ribbon appeared out of thin air, tying the hands together. Arailis whispered something in the tongue of the Xadari.
He then drew back his hand and turned it palm up and somehow two greyish balls no bigger than marbles were there. He placed them in the intertwined hands of the pair with a small smile.
"Alaea will explain what to do with them. My congratulations children." He whispered before turning back to the court.
He then clapped his hands and two other Xadari appeared from nowhere and cleared up the still unconscious Layadan and he smiled at Garion.
"My pardon, My Lord for the interruption." Garion grinned back.
"I think I can forgive it. Now I believe we were supposed to be having a ball. Geran, why don't you and Alaea take the first dance." After a pause, the pair getting over their stock somewhat, Geran led Alaea to the dance floor to lead the first dance.
Arailis reclined indolently in his chair and slowly drank from the goblet in his hand, smiling at Garion. The kings and Belgarath had gathered together once the ball had broken up in Garion's study to talk as the ladies fussed about with the long process of preparing for bed.
"I have to say, I didn't expect this ball to turn out quite like that." Garion commented dryly. Arailis grinned at the man.
"Neither did I, to be honest I'm rather shocked at the behaviour of Layadan, he is a good actor and a good liar. He came across as a good strong male who would be able to protect my daughter properly. I am rather angry with myself for not having spotted that more was going on. I shall have to interrogate those I sent with my daughter rather closely, they seem in league with the cad." He frowned harshly. Garion looked at him curiously.
"From what Alaea said, you want to force her to conform rather to your society's rules and be rather less assertive. She also commented that you rather strongly objected to her visiting other realms." Arailis gave them a sardonic look.
"I would not object to her visiting other realms if she told me beforehand and took a proper escort rather than sneaking off and only letting me know what she was up to this time by default of leaving a note." The other kings snorted with laughter while giving Garion and Belgarath pointed looks. Arailis raised a questioning eyebrow at the looks. Cho Hag decided to explain.
"Oh, it seems she's marrying into the right family then. When Garion, Silk and Belgarath went off to confront Torak they left only a note. Ce'nedra and Polgara were furious." Arailis laughed out loud.
"I presume you will have a formal marriage ceremony for Geran and Alaea?" Garion nodded, looking rather confused.
"Of course, your people do not have one?"
"What you saw tonight with the ribbon around their hands is all that passes for a marriage ceremony amongst out people. The things I handed them are seeds from the trees that grace our wood. While we are not bound to trees the same way the dryads are we share some traditions and those seed will be planted and intertwined as they grow representing their love and marriage. Should one of them die, the tree will fade and with it the other partner. They, when they first lie together, will bond in soul as much as body and that bond is eternal and the tree will live as long as that bond.
As for your ceremony, I presume it can be timed so as that my wife has time to get here? She will kill me if I don't make sure she is here for at least one of the ceremonies." Garion raised an eyebrow at the elf. He responded carefully.
"That is not a problem. If you will forgive me for asking but Alaea described your wife as, to quote, 'a doormat'. She seemed to be of the belief your wife has no mind of her own." Arailis stared at Garion for a moment, his lips quirking before he broke into hysterical laughter.
"Lilaea, a door mat?" He managed to splutter out between laughs. "That's a good one." Eventually he got a hold of himself and caught the rather bemused expressions on the other males faces. "I think my daughter mistakes agreeing with me in public for letting me walk all over her. Trust me, when there is no audience, Lilaea most definitely has a mind of her own. I would say that Alaea is more Lilaea's daughter than mine in that respect." Cho Hag smiled dryly.
"Ah, the misconceptions of youth." He commented wryly. Arailis smirked at the elderly man with a grin and bowed slightly.
Lilaea, queen of the elves, arrived remarkably quickly. Arialis and Alaea had both smiled cryptically at the surprise of the humans about the speed of her expected arrival time when Arialis had responded to the question of how long they would need to postpone the wedding for in the name of Lilaea being there and were now enjoying the looks on the faces of those in Riva as she arrived.
Lilaea had stood at the bow of the ship, much like a figurehead, just as her daughter had some time earlier, though she had not made her appearance any more human and her somehow earthy iridescence made her all the more striking. Alaea and Arialis smiled as their sensitive ears picked up the sounds of whispers that she must be the Queen of Nature itself as her daughter was the Lady of the Sea.
Even as the sailors and dock hands secured the ship, Arialis was moving forward to greet his queen. She practically floated off the ship, the gangplank looking somewhat superfluous to the lady even as, smiling, Arailis took a single hand and bowed to her, kiss her knuckles. She smiled softly and took the hand holding hers and kissed it gently, the two elves staring into each others eyes for several long moments.
Arailis nodded slightly after a number of moments and turned towards the watching crowd and leading his queen towards Garion, Ce'nedra, Geran and Alaea. Lilaea placed a single hand across her heart and bowed slightly to Garion.
"Well met my Lord Godslayer. It is a pleasure to meet one who has done the world such a service." She said softly, her voice life the rustle of the leave on a tree. Garion bowed to her elegantly.
"It is a pleasure to meet one who has raised the lady I already happily call daughter." Lilaea smiled at Garion and went on to greet Ce'nedra and then turned to Geran and Alaea with a soft smiled.
"Well met my Lord, My daughter." She commented softly, Alaea grinned and hugged her mother somewhat deliberately. Geran, placed as he was, saw the startled look on Queen Lilaea's face, though he doubted many others had.
"Nana! It has been too long!" She exclaimed.
"I wonder why?" Lilaea commented dryly and Geran had to smother a snort of laughter. Alaea seemed somewhat surprised at the comment coming from her mother. Lilaea looked around. "Would it be advisable for us to retire to the Citadel for further introductions?"
Ce'nedra smiled at the lady and agreed, the two talking quietly on the way up to the citadel. Garion followed, talking quietly with Barack and Silk, who had accompanied them to the docks. Geran and Alaea followed at the back of the party, for the most part in silence. After a little while Alaea leant over to whisper to Geran.
"When did she develop a sense of humour?" Geran just laughed.
The wedding was sumptuous.
At Arailis's insistence, Lilaea had brought the wedding dress with her and it was a work of elfin art. It was made of layers of finest silk satin, a fabric so fine was barely there. The colour was a blueish white that shimmered with that same iridescence that seemed a trademark of their people. It was delicately but highly ornately decorated with gold and silver embroidery and delicate little beads of pearls, sapphires, beryl and other gems that Geran could not identify. The entire creation floated delicately and absolutely stunningly around his beloved who truly looked otherworldly, her head crowned with an equally fine veil and a delicate little circlet of a silverish-blue metal cleverly wrought to resemble plants.
Geran was dressed in a darker blue outfit of a tunic rich velvet shot with gold, though equally sumptuously beaded and embroidered. His hose were a dark blue silk and he wore a robe of matching silk damask. Both sets of parent stood at the dais either side of the priest of Belar who performed the ceremony.
Neither Geran nor Alaea really paid all that much attention beyond giving the required answers and they paid even less attention to the celebrations after, leaving as soon as was polite for their bedroom.
Belgarath, remembering the last time he had been at a party like this, nearly thirty years previously, wandered into the throne room to find Arailis sprawled elegantly on the steps beside Garion's throne. The wizened old sorcerer raised his eyebrows at the elf who smiled back at him.
"I am reacquainting my self with an old friend. I have not had opportunity to talk with the Orb since its making." He commented softly. Belgarath carried on looking at the elf quizzically. "I felt the orb come into existence and visited Aldur to meet it but I have not see it since. It seems a little distracted however." He commented wryly.
Belgarath gave the lightly glowing orb a look.
"Its probably making sure my grandson is looking after your daughter properly if you catch my meaning." Arailis gave Belgarath a sardonic look and then looked at the orb which had gone a deep shade of pink. The ancient pair just grinned at each other before settling back in companionable silence.