By Blood we are Bound... On Thanged marriage isn't sealed with merely vows and an exchange of rings, but through the shedding of blood and shared trial. Those who slay together stay together, and for Thangiens, there is beauty in the battlefield. The drawing and clashing of swords is as easily considered a first date as sharing lunch together. In the never-ending pursuit of prestige, available members of lesser Houses often seek to secure and expand alliances with higher ranking Houses in the hope of one day securing membership in The Council of Houses. While Pairings are typically family affairs, in recent history there have been three unions of particular significance to garner city-wide attention: Ander and Yainae, T'plaureth and Aurora, and Dais and Danae.
The current practice of Pairing has its roots dating back to the Blood Walk carried out by Queen Danaetanera III. When Alahaedra took over as Watch-Rider, she wanted to signify her marriage to her husband with more than just festivity and feasting. In memory of her mother, she proposed the shedding and mingling of blood under the blessing of the Four Queens. For better or worse, since the days of the Celestial Brothers and the Freelanders, blood had defined the Thangien people. For couples who seal their relationship with a Trael de Nuca, they are technically considered married after the duel with the Pairing ceremony itself considered the sealing of formalities.
Ander and YainaeHaving distinguished himself as a powerful warrior and a Metraind Outworlder, Ander Vai Stel Vethu agreed to marry Chi Chi Lina, Yainae and officially join the House of St'lur. This news spread far and wide through Bainshaebo and Ander's friends Torke, Norin, and Khanphe insisted on making it a spectacle the likes had not been seen in centuries. While the Watch-Rider at the time declined to attend, the Silver-Haired Maiden presided over the ceremony, signifying Roth's blessing. With Yainae already pregnant with their first child together, the bloodied cloth burned brightly when dropped into the brazier. This would begin the first step of House St'lur's road to redemption and the growth of Ander's legend as the Far Star Traveller.
Anubis glanced to the right when he heard a soft cry. He spotted Yainae watching tearfully, apparently remembering when she and Ander themselves bled so many years ago.
T'plaureth and AuroraAnder's second child and oldest daughter, Aurorakhan, had quite the habit of venturing out into Kundain despite being too young to undergo freelanding. Ander adored his precocious daughter but Aurora surprised him when she returned home one day with a young Native boy she called "Teepa". Ander ignored the warnings given about Natives and allowed Aurora to maintain a friendship with the unicorn boy even after he returned to the Eastern Jungle. She insisted on visiting "Teepa" from time to time and exchanging gifts at a designated spot. One night Aurora came to Ander in a panic, crying that "Teepa" hadn't shown up when he was supposed to. Worried sick that something had happened, she begged Ander to look for him. Ander took her astride Skybolt Sunhammer and flew out at night. Searching by lamplight would've been fruitless but for Skybolt's keen sense of hearing and smell, and they found the little Native boy bloodied and beaten within a hair of his life under a tree. Ander bundled the injured Native onto Skybolt's back and flew back to Bainshaebo. After giving the boy time to recover, Ander asked if the boy would stay with his daughter. The boy, named T'plaureth, agreed. Ander offered Aurora's hand in marriage and gave his official approval even in the event of his death. Years later after the Battle of Banguk, the now-teenage Aurorakhan and T'plaureth planned to Pair, forming a new branch of the family under the House of St'lur. Gossip broke out and many suitors from lower houses scorned the idea of a Native marrying into a prominent House. They claimed T'plaureth would sully the proud bloodline with his "filthy Native blood" and challenged him for Aurora's hand despite Ander's promise before his passing. Unbeknownst to the suitors, T'plaureth had spent his adolescence in Bainshaebo studying under various battle-masters, learning techniques from the myriad weapon schools. The wiry unicorn-man proved himself in battle time and time again, besting many vainglorious suitors before finally the populace relented and the Pairing was allowed to proceed. More hecklers than well-wishers attended the ceremony, but it mattered not to the two. Only blood mattered in the end, and the two took up the heraldic name of Ru Ru Tiki, "First of the First".
"It was a situation back then much like it is now, that males vied for Aurora’s hand in order to strengthen their own Houses. When Aurora refused them all and announced she wanted to Pair with me…well let’s say it caused more than a stir. One male in particular challenged me outright to a Trael de Nuca, and it enraged me that he would wish Aurora such pain out of vanity and spite. I met him in battle, and though he tried desperately to outmatch me, I struck him down and threw him into the Pit."-T'plaureth
Dais and DanaeUpon witnessing the valor of the Morindae known as Darian Dreamrider during the Battle of the Citadel, Ander's second daughter Danaetanera determined to bring this legendary warrior into her family. Yainae agreed to her request, but for a myriad of other reasons: to stave off efforts from the House of Eklan to worm their way into the House of St'lur, to secure the prosperity of Ander's family, and to cement ties with the Oldworld. After Dais, Warrior of Illusion, proved his worth in a Trael de Nuca against Na Na Kulk, Rolinilo, son of Ander's slain rival Roland, preparations were made for a grand celebration not seen since Ander's time. With all of the Pavillion reserved for the ceremony, the city populace turned out to witness the spectacular event with the other Morind de Witheren in attendance, including their leader Raeo Flamerider. The Silver-Haired Maiden officiated the ceremony, and after dropping the blood cloth into the flames, the fire erupted in a mighty gout that foretold a great future for the newly-Paired. Not only did the Pairing signify the reunification of Thangien and Oldworlder, but it saw the joining of the children of Aleksander Vanstandtvoort and Gage Wendell. The sudden onset of rainfall provided an additional boon as the city reveled throughout the night, but the morning would see the city tested with the emergence of a new threat...
“Step forward.” At her command, Dais and Danae moved close to the Maiden until they stood facing each other. “Darian Dreamrider. Will you join yourself to Danae Stormrider in flesh and blood? Will you bleed for her, and with her, from now until you bleed no more?” “I will,” Dais replied firmly and pulled back his right sleeve. The Maiden looked to Danae. “Danae Stormrider. Will you join yourself to Darian Dreamrider in flesh and blood? Will you bleed for him, and with him, from now until you bleed no more?” “I will,” Danae said solidly and pulled off the glove covering her right arm. She raised her right arm, as did Dais, and they clasped hands. Dais reached back with his left hand and gestured for the dagger. Kento remembered his duty and placed it into Dais’ waiting palm. When Kento heard being urpaedwun meant “dagger-bearer” he didn’t at all imagine it involved what he witnessed next. Dais and Danae kept their gazes locked as Dais placed the tip of the dagger against Danae’s right wrist and pulled towards himself sharply
A Pairing is normally officiated by the head of a household, either the father or mother. In the case of high-profile Pairings, the Silver-Haired Maiden presides over the union acting as Roth's direct representative. A speech is given by a close friend or relative of the couple before vows are exchanged. The vows do not signal the end of the ceremony, as the irpaerwyn and urpaedwun step forward to provide the white cloth and dagger. The male places the tip of the dagger on the female's wrist and draws the blade across their arms towards himself. The couple will then turn to the crowd and present their bleeding wrists for a few moments before clasping hands once more. The white cloth is bound about the wounds and remains in place until blood saturates the cloth. The officiator then removes the cloth and drops it into a lit brazier. It is believed the size of the flame produced will foretell the future of the family and their first child together. The wounds are coated with thick yellow salve intended to not only heal the wounds but thicken the tissue, leaving a plump, prominent scar. Richtho leaves are bound over the wrists as a precaution.
If Dais and Danae suffered any ill effects from so much bleeding, neither of them showed it as they clasped hands again. Danae reached out with her left hand and Mia quickly gave her the white cloth. Danae brought it forward and draped it over their wrists. Dais reached down and grabbed the other end and the two began binding their wrists, exchanging tips with each pass. “For hearth and home,” Dais whispered. “For love of land,” Danae began. “Sword and spirit.” “Forged in hand.” “Souls are found.” “By blood and bound.” “My heart to you, my love alone.” “Blood is linked, both are one.” “It is done,” they said in unison and pulled the cloth tight. They held the corners taut and waited silently as red consumed the cloth until not a trace of white remained. Then they un-wrapped the cloth and shook it loose. The Maiden took the cloth by two corners with both hands and pulled it away. Dais held his still-bleeding wrist towards Kento, who dug two fingers into the small pot and pulled out a large glob of yellowish goo and slathered it over the cut before binding it with a Richtho leaf. Mia likewise bandaged Danae’s wrist.
Components and tools
The Sharp DaggerCarried by the urpaedwun, used to draw blood between the couple.
The White ClothCarried by the irpaerwyn, used to bind the couple's wounds.
The Flickering FlameUsed to incinerate the bloody white cloth. Signifies covenant with the Four Queens.
Scar-salveThick yellowish gel used to treat the wounds before the application of Richtho leaves. Thickens scar tissue.
The BloomA large exotic flower worn by the bride. Thrown at the conclusion of the ceremony. Whomever catches it is destined to find love, but only after much trial and harrowing.
“Oooh! I think she’s gonna toss the bouquet!” Britania exclaimed. Tanya made a face and looked over her shoulder upon hearing that. “I don’t see how a single flower counts as a bouquet-oof!” Tanya flinched when she felt something soft and slightly damp smack against her cheek. She cupped her hands in time to catch the white and purple bloom that tumbled into her palms. She stared at it a few seconds before yelping and tossing the flower up as if it burned, recoiling in surprise.
Urpaedwun"Dagger-Bearer". Equivalent of Best Man. Usually a friend or acquaintance of the groom.
Irpaerwyn"Cloth-Bearer". Equivalent of Maid of Honor. Usually a friend or acquaintance of the bride.
OfficiatorThis varies depending on the prominence of the couple. Average ceremonies are overseen by the head of a household. With a high profile Pairing, this role is filled by the Silver-Haired Maiden who represents Roth among the populace.
SpeakerProvides the invocation before the ceremony itself proceeds. A close associate of both bride and groom.
The Maiden held the cloth up for the audience to see and turned it from side to side. Ryo saw Rowen lean towards him and cocked his ear to listen. “She’s gonna drop it into the fire behind them. Thangiens believe the size of the flame produced is an indicator of the future of the first child, but it’s just a chemical reaction caused by impurities in the-” Rowen whispered as the Maiden turned and held the sodden cloth over the brazier and released the corners. A large eruption of flame forced her to stagger back a step and throw her arms up to shield herself. Shock rippled through the crowd, and Mia could tell from the way the Maiden stared at the flame that this was an unprecedented reaction.
Pairings happen frequently with Houses securing alliances and solidifying bloodlines. Ceremonies are scheduled for several months after an engagement is formally sealed. Inbreeding is strongly discouraged, and inducting Oldworlders or Freelanders is actually encouraged in order to supplement the gene pool. Pairings are always upward, never down or side-grades. While it might seem a romantic notion for a noblewoman to elope with a shepherd, it simply does not happen in Bainshaebo. An individual is inducted into the higher-ranking House and all the politics and prestige it carries whether they like it or not. It is entirely possible for a Oldworlder to marry into a higher-ranked House and enjoy all the wealth and benefits it carries. Thangiens typically wear long sleeves or bracers despite the temperate climate, primarily to conceal the thick Pairing scars.
“No one made a fuss about Danae getting pregnant before the Pairing?” Cale asked. “They’re not that draconian. In fact, producing offspring early on is considered a sign of prosperity. Besides, we were technically considered married when I won the Trael de Nuca. All this is just pomp and circumstance,” Dais commented and waved at the air. “So when can we expect to see your bundle of joy?” Sage queried with a smirk. “Well…Danae conceived about four months ago…so…I figure another eighteen months.” “What?!” “You serious?” “Holy crap!” “OH MY GOD! THEY HAVE THE BREEDING CYCLE OF AN ELEPHANT!” Rowen exclaimed loud enough to draw startled glances from everyone nearby.
“I will not take your daughter’s hand, as it isn’t something that can be seized or awarded. I will earn it. Thangiens believe that passion is as much a part of existence as purpose, but marriage for the sake of politics serves no purpose without passion. Battle is the only politics I abide by, and if I am to Pair with Danaetanera, it will be as peers. If there is an enemy who would oppose me, I will fight him, and I will strike him down! I will do whatever it takes until I prove myself every bit her equal!! “When I met her for the first time, and watched her ride into the thick of battle…I was astonished, and humbled, that she faced the enemy with such ferocity. She threw all of her fury against the Dynasty, with no heed to her own safety. Completely fearless, completely selfless…she embodied the soul of the battle. I will accept Danae’s hand only after I have faced the one who would dare make claim to her as if she were a trophy, and beaten him soundly. That is the only Pairing Danaetanera is worthy of, and that is the only way she’ll accept me.”-Darian Dreamrider
“That’s what your big mystery trip was about?!” Cale exclaimed. Dais grinned. “Yup. The Pairing Ceremony itself won’t be for a couple of months, though.” “Hey, that’s great to hear!” Sage beamed. “Man…something’s wrong with this world if someone like Dais finds a girlfriend before I do,” Kento huffed and folded his arms over his chest. “Don’t sound so glum, Kento. If I have any say in it, you can be my urpaedwun.” “What?!” Kento growled and clenched his fist, turning towards the smug Ronin. “It means ‘dagger-bearer’. It’s like the Thangien best man. It’s considered a huge honor!” Rowen explained. Kento blinked and glanced from Rowen to Dais, who smiled. “Oh…uh…okay…thanks….I think…”
"It wasn’t my first choice to move back here, but I’ll admit being in the Mortal Realm for so long has sort of mellowed me, among other things such as my pending nuptials,” Dais replied. “Speaking of that, when’s it supposed to happen? I keep hearing about it. Did it already happen and we missed it?” Ryo raised an eyebrow and paused in welding a seam. “Well…you’ve seen the Pavilion, right?” “Yeah. It’s the size of Tokyo. What about it? They expecting that many people to show up?” “They haven’t had a Pairing this big since…” Dais paused and bit his lip thoughtfully. “…Since Danae’s parents?” “No. Their Pairing happened decades ago. No, I’m thinking about Aurora and T’plaureth…then again, that might be a bad example to use. Theirs was pretty controversial. It didn’t sit right with a lot of people for a Native to marry into a noble House.”
“Whoa, Dais! What’s up with your arm?” Sage’s eyes widened when he noticed the long puckered scar exposed by Dais’ sleeve pulling back as he reached over the table. “Hey, I thought I bandaged it with a leaf!” Kento remarked. “You did. But the stuff you rubbed on my arm accelerates the formation of scar tissue and thickens it, so the healing from the leaf preserves it.” “So, wait, that’s what you get from the Pairing? A scar? No ring or anything?” “Rings can be lost down a drain, or taken off at one’s convenience…this? This will be with me for the rest of my life…” Dais whispered and ran a fingertip along the scar. He glanced at Danae, who displayed her own scar to the women seated at her table. They glanced at each other briefly.