Dance of the Maidens
Like a third hand or a second head, I don’t belong. And yet, I’m forced to be present for the Dance of the Maidens, a tradition I have come to fear as much as death itself. As many eligible young Ladies make their debut here each year, the Dance of the Maidens was devised as the most uncomfortable form of matchmaking imaginable. Any unclaimed Lady is expected to select her knight for one grand dance before the entire court, and they say that those who make it through the whole song are fit to be wed.
The Dance of the Maidens is the highlight of the Harvest Ball each year. With the upper classes all but completely shut out of The Royal Palace of Éirigh in the years since The First Great Dynastic Shift, the Harvest Ball has become the best opportunity for single Ladies of the court to make their debut or strike up a new courtship. The Dance of the Maidens was born of this need, with some good old fashioned mystique and tom foolery thrown in for good measure.
In the OUTSPOKEN trilogy, we are introduced to the Dance of the Maidens through the eyes of Lucian "Deordhan" Cathasach, who must walk a fine line between what is required of him as a Knight and what is acceptable behavior for a Bond Servant.
While the Harvest Ball itself is a very new tradition, the Dance of the Maidens has a much longer history. Under the reign of The Slánaitheoir Royal Family, a similar tradition was enjoyed at many gatherings in the Royal Palace. The Slánaitheoir's were known for their powerful Queens who actively took part in the governance of the kingdom. Out of respect for their prowess, all young women of the upper classes were given free rein to choose any eligible bachelor they wished as partner for their debut dance before the court.
Over the years, this selection has taken many different forms, all crafted for some good natured fun. In some variations, the Ladies would draw names from a hat, in others they might circle the line of bachelors like a Maypole dance before selecting their man, and so on. But when The Máirtín Royal Family put an end to all celebratory gatherings in the Palace following the First Great Dynastic Shift, the chances for such fun and games became far fewer.
And so, the Dance of the Maidens was born, allowing for any single Lady of the upper classes to partake.
The first note strikes up, and I slowly turn around to face my partner with barely subdued terror hammering in my chest. My jaw nearly hangs slack when my eyes find hers, and for a single moment I’m struck dumb.
The First Great Dynastic Shift
The First Great Dynastic Shift of Éirigh occurred in the year 1475, putting a brutal end to The Slánaitheoir Royal Family and ending with the Traitor King Máirtín I on the throne.
Laird Breith Sadach's annual Harvest Ball became the place for Éirigh's nobility to be during the Festival of Samhain when King Máirtín I put an end to the beloved palace festivities.