More and More Strange
Some wedding night this turned out to be. These are the strangest people I’ve ever met in my life. Admittedly I’m not that old and I’ve met very few people outside my father’s palace, but I stand by my statement.
This priestess, whose name is Ah’nis, stood over me all night, mainly because Naram told her she was a servant and servants stand, which I thought was rude, but though I encouraged her to sit, she gave me just a bit of a smile and shook her head. So there she stood, like a tall, blonde statue, hour after hour. Then, she was gone for a while.
I’d had time to ponder, once again, what was going to happen to me. Was I going to be killed by them? By Naram and Samarra? I pulled the covers over my head and willed myself to disappear somewhere. When I was still, I could hear angry voices. One, deep and resonate, was like the crack of a whip. Pretty soon in came Priestess Ah’nis. The covers were pulled back and I was hauled – gently hauled – out of bed and stuffed into that infernal white dress. While all this was happening Jasreth sat in a corner with eyes the size of saucers, taking it all in. What was going through her head I can only imagine.
“You too,” the priestess said, nodding in Jasreth’s direction, and away we went with Jasreth trailing along behind. The angry voice turned out to be Ardenai. He looked like he was ready to breathe fire, and for a moment I wondered if he could actually do that. I was thoroughly frightened. My head was pounding and I was having a hard time figuring out what was going on, but apparently it involved me leaving my delegation and being marched off down this incredibly long hallway into a room full of women.
Priestesses, most of them, assuming from their attire, but not all. Tall and dark, like the Dragonhorse. They smiled and nodded, but for the most part they ignored me, which I appreciated. It told me that just maybe I wasn’t going to be killed. If they were going to kill me there would have been more interest, right?
That perception lasted until I was taken into a very warm room with a huge pool of water. Then I knew, they were going to drown me. I started to sob and Ah’nis bent down so she could look me in the eye. “You are not going to be harmed,” she said, “but you are going to be bathed and dressed in something more comfortable.” With that, and quicker, the dress was off and I was naked. Then she dropped her robes and she was naked. I was going to be molested! I’d rather have been drowned.
We were joined by four other priestesses, all naked. Two of them proceeded to give me the scrubbing of my life, and two of them scrubbed Ah’nis. Then we were allowed to sit, up to our armpits in the warm, flowing water for a few minutes. It was nice. They talked to me, and visited with one another, and Ah’nis informed me that this was a ritual with them – with all Equi – and since I had been accepted by the Dragonhorse, I was now Equi, too. When I relaxed enough to look around I realized that Jasreth was there with us, and that she was happily chattering away with some women over in another part of the pool. I felt myself taking a deep breath. I was going to live. I was going to be Equi. Aside from a daily scrubbing, what did that mean exactly?
For one thing it meant a very, very thorough medical examination, and I do mean thorough. I felt like I was back with Samarra, having my virginity checked. I was poked and prodded and licked by the huge dragon I’d encountered the night before. He has a very long tongue and he uses it for all kinds of things that I won’t even mention here. I never felt threatened, but I certainly felt invaded.
Priestess Ah’nis says all will be explained in good time. For now I find myself with my hair piled atop my head, clothed in something strange but comfortable, and I am being taken to supper in the main kitchen. I wonder what that means. I wonder what … anything means.