The Lights of Ailineighdaeth
The Lights of Ailineighdaeth
When the remnants of the feast were cleared away, the commander and Den Asaan went to begin their patrol of the festivities taking place throughout the capital. Rautu was hesitant to be about in the streets when there were crowds of cheerful citizens and bouts of unbidden singing promised, but once he was told that with the holiday came copious amounts of chocolate, his horror of being made to stand among the festive hordes diminished. He almost became eager to go, gaining the notion that there could be particular holiday chocolates flourishing in the narrow lanes of the marketplace. The Den Asaan began walking down the main hall calling out for his mate to follow. She replied she was attempted to convince Captain Connors to join them, telling him that he had all the morrow to clean out the barracks and that the night of the holiday was to be enjoyed beneath the stars, not under the auspices of the garrison. The Den Asaan had grown impatient through her speech and returned to the great hall to collect her, the captain and his brother who had given assurances of attending them during their charged surveillance.
Unghaahi was in the midst of requesting Kai Linaa’s attendance for the projected walk. He wished to share all the merriment the evening had to offer with her and though he had little understanding of the Frewyn winter observance, he was meant to believe that being outside for the night was somehow of great significance and he was desirous of bringing his mate along to make certain no point of the celebration would be missed. She declined his offer, replying sprightly that she was to use the evening to prepare his gift and therefore it was his duty to be out of the keep to give her the leisure of collecting the objects necessary for the exchange.
“Ghaala,” Unghaahi entreated her, “there is no need-“
“But I want to,” was Kai Linaa’s firm stance. She made a few more assertions, gave all the necessary encouragements and then pointed to the door to signify her want to be left to her own devices without protestation.
Unghaahi smiled at her resolution. “Haa, Ghaala,” the Den Amhadhri submitted with a nod. He hoped her planned gift would not overmuch but his wanted assurances were unfounded when Kai Linaa began pushing him out of the hall and toward the rest of party venturing out. He laughed at her attempt to force him away, knowing well that his weight was ever so much more than she could bear, but he kissed her in thanks and went along with the commander, Rautu and Captain Connors toward the streets of the capital.
They walked from the main gate toward the square and the spirit of the holiday was in full bloom. The denizens of Diras were in the midst of every festivity called for the day. Songs praising the names of the Gods were lilting through the air, entombed candles graced the trees, holiday proprietors were distributing mulled cider and silver charms were exchanged between friends. The celebratory spirit was everywhere, in the pleasant scents wafting from the chimneys of homes to the twinkling lights matching the glint of the starry sky.
The Den Asaan did his utmost to remain close to the commander and keep his scowls to a minimum while Unghaahi burst forth with numerous questions about all he was seeing.
“This is the largest commemoration your people practice?” was the Den Amhadhri’s first question.
“I would say so,” the commander replied. “Ailineighdaeth is the Day of Renewal and marks the beginning of the Frewyn calendar year. Most Frewyns who cannot be bothered to pronounce the Old Frewyn phrase call it Alineide, which means Rebirth. This night is supposedly the night upon which the Gods forgave our ancestors for their sins. Ages ago, before the Church overtook our faith people believe the Gods walked among us. We asked them for sustenance, gave them tribute and they provided, and that sort of nonsense.”
Unghaahi seemed bemused. “Your people were pleased to be subjugated?”
“Frewyns enjoy satisfying others. It seems to be a curse we possess. Your brother can tell of the truth in my claims, I’m certain,” the commander said with a smirk.
The Den Asaan responded with a small grin.
Unghaahi laughed but the subject of happiness in servitude still bewildered him. “And your people are rejoicing because their Gods did not abandon them?” he carefully asked.
“Not exactly. You see, the history of it is the endless clan wars offended and upset the Gods. Although we were the loyalist of subjects, they wished to teach us a lesson. They disappeared from among us, only promising to return when we had learned the meaning of acceptable and camaraderie. Once we learned how to befriend one another, the Gods reappeared as the constellations in the sky.”
The commander motioned toward the canopy of stars above them to illustrate her allegation but her gesture was met with scoffs from the Den Asaan who found the entire history ridiculous.
“If the skies were unclear on this evening, your people would see it as an omen and run to your Churches to repent,” Rautu grunted in a smug tenor.
He and the commander shared a snide laugh. Captain Connors wished to join in the snickering but felt hampered to do so when his mother was so devout she probably would have leapt to the Church on such an occasion and instead he remained silent.
“I cannot disagree with you, Iimon Ghaala. However, as the story goes the ancient Frewyns rejoiced at their learning to love one another, made a feast to honour the day, exchanged gifts to their newfound friends, and decorated their settlements and villages with lights to honour and emulate the stars.” The commander reached over to one of the trees at the edge of the square and took from it a small string of entombed candles to show the Den Amhadhri. “These are Sealenrelta, or starlights. They are candles encased in a glass sphere with a hole at the top so the wicks may be easily lit and fingers may just as easily be burned.”
Unghaahi examined the odd contraption. He noted the manner in which the candle inside the glass was stationary as the commander turned it upside down. He marveled at its constancy to give off heat and radiance even though most of the candle was trapped within the spherical tomb. He looked out at the various homes surrounding the square and noted that each one was decorated with the ceremonial lights but his attention from them was drawn when he took notice of another custom being practiced. He observed many couples exchanging a small silver charm. He pointed to it, asked many questions to the meaning of it and why it warranted an embrace after it was given.
“That is a charm of the goddess Libhan, Frewyn goddess of friendship,” the commander explained. “The charms are given out by the Church for a small donation and can be exchanged between any two people. In recent years, however, they’ve been hailed as a clever disguise for young men to woo young women of their choosing into their nest.”
“Our people have something similar, Amhadhri Bhudhiika,” Unghaahi hummed, looking out on the open displays of friendliness with a smile. “At all of our celebrations, Ambesari exchange Ostbholaas and vauntaaleraa. Our women are given carved shells and are encouraged to give them to the men they believe will honour them with Khopra. As well, our men give cured blooms to show their acceptance. If the request is denied, the Ostbholaas and Vauntaaleraa are placed in the hand and if accepted they are placed in the hair to display the means of their promise.”
The Den Asaan exhibited his one carved shell at the end of one of his heavy white locks to signify his one ritual performed on the islands. He motioned toward Unghaahi’s impressive mane of braids when his brother was turned away and the commander was saddened to find that the Den Amhadhri retained none of the ceremonial shells. “My brother begged to honour others to prove his abilities but he was repeatedly denied,” Rautu said quietly when Unghaahi was far enough away. “The Themari would give Ostbholaas to our women and demand them to exchange with my brother to show him the respect he deserves. He knew they did not come willingly and did not request them for Khopra. You see my brother’s interest in this custom our people share. He wishes to understand why no one refuses one another.”
“Well, giving these charms doesn’t guarantee more pleasurable activities, Iimon Ghaala,” the commander whispered. “Everyone has little difficulty embracing each other but Khopra is another matter entirely.” She observed the Den Amhadhri’s intrigue with the custom of civility and when everyone was remarking the merriment of the square, the commander slipped away to retrieve three of the charms. She gave one to Rautu in exchange for a promise of bruises later, one to the captain in exchange for a salute and one to Unghaahi in exchange for a friendly embrace.
The knowledge owing to the gesture would have been enough for Unghaahi but the receiving of the charm gave birth to an overpowering sentiment of adoration and gratitude. He learned to embrace his brother’s mate and he closed his eyes, all appreciation for being unquestionably and universally acception by such a nation that valued the bond between Anonnaa more than anything else.