The Quiet Before the Storm part 12
It was not quite dawn. The sky was painted all in deep hues of red and orange. Birds cried out overhead, but otherwise there was silence. The entire Pride Rock Pride waited by the edge of the rock for the ceremony to begin.
All but two.
They waited alone in the darkness of the cave. Precious few moments were left before the ceremony, and they were drawing them out as long as they could. It was too dark for Ahadi to see Masilahi’s face, but he could still hear slight voice as she asked, “Are you ready for this, Ahadi?”
He laid his paw comfortingly over hers. “I’m sure.” The prince felt a rare smile curling on his lips. “Masilahi.” The word was said as reverently as though naming a flower. “It’s such a beautiful name. I’m sorry no one will ever call you by it.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. “You will.”
The pale fingers of sunlight began to creep into the den. Ahadi’s breath caught in his throat. It’s time.
Without a word, both lions rose to their paws and, side by side, padded out onto Pride Rock.
Ahadi was a Prince, but he wasn’t the Future King like his brother, so Zuzu was the only non-lion present. The whole Kingdom would probably be present at Nyeusi and Shari’s joining ceremony, but for once Ahadi didn’t mind. He wouldn’t have traded any thrones or Kingdom at all for the lioness that walked beside him now.
Everyone was there. Nyonda and Zuzu watched them pass with smug grins that couldn’t hide the excitement shinning in their eyes. Kupitisha was teary-eyed as the lioness she had come to call “daughter” passed her. The King and Queen looked on the couple with warm eyes, while the Prince and Princess at their paws were squirming with excitement. The rest of the Pride watched on proudly as their eldest Prince prepared to join himself with another forever. Ahadi felt a rush of gratitude. My family,
he though warmly. How could he have ever doubted they were there for him?
Ahadi and Masilahi stopped at the edge of Pride Rock and turned back to face the pride. The Prince began the ceremony with a strong, clear voice. “We call Mohatu, King of the PrideLands, as our Joiner.”
The short, compact King approached his adopted son and daughter-in-law with a warm smile. The greatest blessing one could ask for was to have a Baboon Shaman as their Joiner, but that honor was again reserved for Nyeusi. A Lion King made a close second, however.
King Mohatu repeated the words spoken by so many before him. “Ahadi and Uru, your paws have walked many steps. Paw before paw, your steps were walked alone. Now your steps are walked side by side, paw beside paw.” Mohatu lifted Ahadi’s paw until it was raised straight before him, then guided Masilahi’s paw to his. Ahadi felt Masilahi’s smooth paw pad against his and smiled.
Mohatu continued, “I as Joiner speak to the Great Sun Spirit to look down upon these two beings as I offer their bond to you as tribute. The strength of their bond brings strength to you, and if either’s paws shall stray, it shall be seen as a blasphemy to you. I vouch as Joiner for their trueness, and offer my fate as Joined to theirs. If they shall stray, my paws will be punished as theirs.” His paw wavered above theirs for a moment as he asserted his vow; then the old king stepped back into the crowd and left Ahadi and Masilahi to complete the ceremony.
Ahadi spoke first, as was custom for the one who began the relationship. These words weren’t tradition, but were to be chosen by each of the couple. Ahadi had thought long before choosing his words, and as was tradition, they had never been spoken aloud until now. “My steps have walked a dark path. They stumbled when I was pushed, and they faltered when none seemed to walk with me. Then you came and showed me the steps beside mine, and reminded me that they are there even in the dark. I will walk beside you, True Uru, and never stray.” Under his breath, so only the lioness before him could hear, he breathed “True Masilahi.
The red lioness before him took a deep breath before starting. “My steps have walked a tricky path. I dodged here and there to avoid the paws of Kings, and the steps of my protectors turned to a different path. You came and reminded me that steps other than mine can be trusted not to falter, and that the thorns picked up on a weary road don’t need to be tended to alone. I will walk beside you, Brave Ahadi, and never stray.”
Ahadi and Masilahi shared a secret smile at her words. To anyone else Masilahi’s tale seemed to speak of avoiding prides as a rogue and learning trust in a pride after a long life alone, but they both knew better.
As Ahadi had began the ceremony, it was Masilahi’s duty to end it. She guided both of their paws down to the smooth stone of Pride Rock under their paws. “This place is the witness of our Joining, and we shall live here in spirit until the Great Sun Spirit calls us to eternity. When one dies, their spirit will be here to wait for its other half. When both have come, the Great Sun Spirit will call us both to our eternal rest. Until then, we wait and love.” Both paws rested on the ground before them for a few moments before they drew them back.
It was done. The former Princess Masilahi of the Rocklands, now called Uru, and the adopted Prince Ahadi of the PrideLands were one.
Yay, Ahadi and Masilahi are finally married! This was a really fun part to write. I wanted the marriage ceremony of my TLK verse to be different from what I've seen before while still seeming plausible. I think what I came up with fit that. A person can ever only be a Joiner for one couple, and as stated absolutely anyone can do the job, although a Shaman is the most wanted for the job since they are seen as being closest to the Great Spirits.
A couple picks a Joining Place, and when one of the couple dies, their spirit will wait in that spot until their partner dies as well and joins them. Their spirit will be able to watch over those who are living and even communicate with them, but they will not able able to join the stars until their mate dies.
There are, however, Release Ceremonies that sever the bond between those who have been Joined, one of which can be performed before death basically like a divorce, and the other which can be performed after the death of one so the other can create a new Joining. A person can love more than one in their life and can walk with more than one mate in the afterlife, but only one will wait to join them in the Joining Place. It is also seen as acceptable to have a mate after the death of the old one without officially joining themselves to them, if they prefer to meet the old one at the Joining Place.
That raises the question of how Mufasa moved from his Joining Place to talk to Simba if Sarabi was still alive. Well, Rafiki is a Baboon Shaman, so he created a relic that he used to carry Mufasa's spirit to the jungle and back.
Up next is more PotterFly.