Into the Roots of the World, Bearing Light
by Jeremy A. TeGrotenhuis
The marriage garland was braided from new-growth branches, picked green and living
from the worldtree. Eylis and her bridesmaids had woven it while they walked in procession from
that cyclopean trunk to Baldar's Lantern, which hung in the center of their village. There she was
met by her groom, the hero, who would break her heart.
Eylis tied the garland around the hilt of Aryk's sword. A marriage band uniting warrior
and wife. His eyes were so bright, his lips soft as a rose. He was not a god, but the closest thing,
blushing and love-drunk and beautiful.
As they lay that night, moonlit by the window above their goose-down bed, Aryk nuzzled
"Are you sure you want this?" His stubble brushed her jaw.
She searched his face, traced the arch of his cheek with the tips of her fingers.
"I am," she said.
"I carry my father's sword, oath-bound to serve at Baldar's call."
She kissed him, touched her forehead to his. "I know."
"If the serpent wakes in our time--"
"Shhhh." She closed his lips with her own and gathered the quilt about her shoulders.
"Why think of such things now?" His chest was thick and solid as she rose above him and pressed
him to the bed. "Come, my love. We have much of life to live."