Marriage bonds

Bonding versus marriage

  Rather than a civil or religious contract, partners bound together magically, thus creating a bond between their magics. The strength of such a bond directly depends on the magical power of the individual in question. People without magic cannot create a magical bonding, and their "marriage" is seen as inferior. However, if they have the means to do so, they can buy magical artefacts that will reproduce some of the characteristics of a weak bound when they are worn.   All kinds of relationship are regarded as socially acceptable, monogamous or polygamous, heterosexual or homosexual, asexual, and aromantic. This is because magic bonding is not performed primarily to create children but as an alliance between individuals and Houses. As such, they can even occur without sex or romance, though sexual relationships of many kinds are widely accepted and sex is not seen as a taboo subject. Depending on the Estate, sex magic and sexual rituals can be practised, and those can be private events for bonded partners or people joining only for the event, or they can be public events to raise bigger amounts of magic.  
Lady Oriane Merisse frowned lightly as her soon-to-be in-laws joined her at the centre of the valley that stood between their two Estates. Her spouse was good looking but had a certain frailness about her that made her seem weak. Was the bonding really such a good idea?   Lady Merisse looked back at Lord Danièlie. She had so easily beaten him and his troops, and it was highly doubtful that either his House or the spouse he was offering her would be of any help to the House of Merisse. Iron balls to drag by her feet more like it...   But no matter how much it stung, she needed the alliance for the trade deals. Being the strongest could not solve all problems when she was isolated in her little corner of the empire, surrounded by enemies.

Table of Contents

Ceremony and rituals

The bonding ritual takes place on the Land of one of the Houses of the participants. The House chosen will be the dominant one in the partnership. If the partners to be bonded are from neighbouring Estates, it is often considered appropriate for the location of the ritual to be on the border—unless one of the House is clearly the dominant one and does not care to play nice with the other one(s).   The ritual is to be witnessed by the members of the Houses of all participants. Most often, all members of their social circles and of the local community will also be invited.   During the ritual, the magic of the Land will be invoked so as to allow the ancestors to bless the bonding. Variations of the rituals exist in the different regions of the empire, however a common element is that the partners to be bonded will all join hand together and branches of different types of trees will be wrapped around them. Typical ones include hawthorn and olive. The participants are expected to bleed on the branches, and their blood is to mix into their joined palms.

Bonding ritual, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay and Unsplash
Lady Merisse breathed in deeply and her fingers tightened on her now spouse's when their magic intermingled together under the effects of the ritual. She fought to stand still as the bond slowly but irrevocably formed itself, forever binding them together as one.

Magical bonds

  After the ritual, the partners' magic is joined into a magical bond. This bond cannot be broken, and so partners joined through such a ritual cannot be divorced. In practice, this means that an unhappy bonding can occasionally result in an "accident" or outright murder. Nevertheless, the alliance between Houses represented by the bonding means that such actions carry heavy repercussions, and so a mutually agreed physical separation is more often practised.   The advantage of a magical bond is the possibility for partners to exchange their magic in time of need and to support each other's health and wellbeing.  
Lady Merisse was hit by a foreign wave of impatience as she and her brand-new spouse were standing in front of their people and her family to receive their congratulations. She had to blink several times to get rid of the strange feelings, and even then it did not completely go away. Was it really supposed to be that strong?   She probed her mental link towards her spouse. Feelings of surprise, shock and then mild horror came back to her before the bond was suddenly muffled. Seemed that little Céline had not expected either their bond to be that strong that she would be able to get such clear feelings across.   Well, at least, they both got the surprise of having their spouse be a lot more powerful than they had expected, as they had to be for the bond itself to be so clear. And that meant they would be able to do a proper ritual to get a child together and raise them from infancy to be a proper heir, rather than Lady Merisse having to adopt someone with dubious loyalties.   The Danièlie were good for something after all!

If you want to read more about Lady Merisse's story, you can go here:  

Cover image: Map of the Empire of the Covenant by AmélieIS with Wonderdraft


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