Even by Talijali standards, the reception was an extravagant affair with a bountiful harvest of its own combined with the fruits of the Pamnyki harvest meant being able to outdo even their own expectations. The kitchen staff had been working for days to make sure everything was in readiness for the reception. With a menu that consisted of the freshest fruits from around the region rushed in on horseback that morning, followed by a cold potato soup with minced plot bunny. Plot bunny! Kevyl thought to himself. I’ve only heard rumors of plot bunny. The people of the Highlands speak of it as a delicacy! Kevyl soon found out why it was spoken of so highly. It was only found in the Highlands near cemeteries. Plot bunny yielded a tender meat that fell apart in the mouth, with a mild gamey taste. The flavor of the plot bunny had only been accented by the choice of spices in the soup.
After the soup, there was a pause in the entrees to allow for the Lodge jesters to come in a perform. The usual juggling, fire tossing, and acrobatics were interspersed with a friendly roast of the Sovereign and his new mate. The jokes were mild, kept light as to not offend yet playing to some of the stereotypes of the Pamnyki and Talijali. The jesters made their way out of the hall and Maikaj stood up which caused the Great Hall to fall silent.
“Our honored and distinguished guests,” he began, turning and motioning to leaders of Talija and Pamnkyi sitting beside him. Turning back to the assembled crowd in the hall, “You as well, you are all our welcome guests here in Taljia!” Maikaj lifted his mug of ale to loud cheers and applause.
Seeing the chief steward approaching the dais, Maikaj sat down. The steward sat down a large platter filled by a large haunch of meat in front of Maikaj. Maikaj nodded and took the proffered blade and carved off the finest piece of meat to put on Kevyl’s plate. As he put the slab of meat on Kevyl’s plate, he exclaimed his love for Kevyl and that on this day, Kevyl would have the sovereign’s share. The hall erupted into applause and raucous cheers that only grew louder when Kevyl politely refused the portion and bowed in deference to Maikaj. It wasn’t part of the ceremony or the rituals, but it was so natural that no one was the wiser.
The rest of the meal and festivities passed quickly as the food and spirits took control. Conversations grew a bit louder and the crowd more boisterous. As night started to fall across the land, Maikyl was feeling the effects of one too many tankards of ale but didn’t care as this was the one time he’d be getting married in his life. Much to his surprise, Kevyl stood up and clanged his spoon against his empty tankard silencing the hall.
“Ladies and Gentlemen … Wolves and Pamnyki, I stand before you as Kevyl-ja, Beta of the Wolf Lodge and consort of Most Revered Elpa Maikaj, leader of Talija, Head of the Wolf Lodge and Paw of the Great Wolf.
Almost twenty years ago, I was born here as my parents were the housekeepers and servants to the Pamnyki ambassador. What I hadn’t known is that my parents fought to have me accepted at Talijali. I thought that I would be here for a few years and then we’d return to Pamnyki. My mother passed when I was 11 and my father at 17.
Shortly after my father died, I saw Maikyl for the first time. He was in the dining hall in just his breeches, striding through the hall as if he was the Alpha. He looked to be a year or two younger than me but I was struck speechless by his beauty and composure.
But who was I to dream of such a mate? I worked and worked and slowly the memories of Maikyl faded from my mind. When Maikyl ascended to lead the Lodge, I was only 22 and he was 34. My attention to detail and discretion as the chief steward of the Lodge had brought his attention on me and he made me his personal houseman.
It was then that Maikyl and I first met. His beauty and composure hadn’t changed nor had my schoolboy flutters. My crush grew into lust and then into love. I knew I would never have a chance with such a powerful and important man. Yet, here we are today.” Kevyl stopped his impromptu speech to wipe tears from his eyes.
Maikaj took the opportunity to stand and continue on with the story, “When I brought Kevyl in as my houseman, I had no idea just what effect he would have on me. At first, it was strictly platonic. He was my manservant and grew to know my desires and my dislikes. He soon began to know just the right time to bring something to me or to take something away. I began to realize that Kevyl had feelings for me. Feelings that I had never thought about. I was married to Talija and the Great Wolf. One day, I was walking through the courtyard and I caught a glimpse of Kevyl and my heart skipped a beat. It was at that moment, I realized that I had silently fallen in love with him as well.
During the battles with Leathart, I knew that for our lands to survive, we need to be allies and what better way to celebrate our love and our union than with Kevyl as my mate and the Pamnyki as my brothers and sisters.”
As the long standing ovation ended, Maikaj turned to the crowd once more.
“Now, to celebrate our honeymoon!” as he picked up Kevyl and carried him out of the great hall.
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