Anna sits next to John as the sun rises over the forest. She looks out over the horizon as the orange sun mixes with the red leaves creating an ocean of fire. "It's beautiful," Anna sighs.
John bobs his leaves "It unusual to see you so serene and at peace. It must be quite the sight," he replies happily.
Anna looks over at the bush whose leaves still stubbornly remained green. "You can't see it?" she asks inquisitively.
"I'm a bush with no eyes. How could I see so far?" John responds while waving his branches sagely.
Anna lays her head on her upturn knee. She yawns and asks sleepily, "You see me just fine though. You even said I look tranquil."
"Ah, I see you're mistaken. I can only send out my senses to observe the world. It's quite different from viewing the world with eyes," He explains.
"How so?" She continues to inquire.
John leaves ruffle in contemplation. "Well if you train hard enough you'll eventually experience it. But how should I explain it? I can observe energy in a bubble around me. The size I can manage now is just a ways into the forest. But I can only see energy. I can see the solid energy of the earth, the gentle energy from the surrounding vegetation, and the fiery yang energy from the sun," John explains as he gestures to the distance with his Bush.
John pauses and raises his branch towards Anna's face as he continues, "As for people and animals they stand out from the ambient energy. You and the rest of the villagers show up as dull shadows since you have less energy flowing in you then the environment. While Elanor and Joe shine brighter than the surroundings, in fact, if someone is able to match the ambient energy they would be invisible to me."
Anna laughs "It sounds like its even more colorful than the sunrise. But how can you tell what I look like if I'm just some dull energy?"
John bounces happily as he speaks, "Honestly it's my specialty, energy vision that is. I spent many years documenting the mood of various divine and spiritual plants. You see they aren't as coherent as me, but if they have a core they have some sentience! I hypothesized that if we observe their energy, we can better understand them. I was almost finished with my book on the subject. It would have revolutionized the gardener industry! It's unfortunate I was cut down before that though." As he finishes his explanation, his branches droop dejectedly.
Anna let the matter go as she looks out over the village. From here you can see all the little shacks. The morning of her second marriage has arrived. She still didn't know how to feel about the affair. She hadn't put much thought into the event when she accepted. Now however sitting up here with a bull and a bush she felt at peace for the first time in years. She smiled as she watched everyone scurrying around trying to cook the massive five-foot-long wolf Elanor brought.
After an hour of quiet contemplation, Anna sighs. She reaches out to touch one of John's leaves. "You truly are just some bush huh? You can never tell what the future will hold," she says idly.
"Indeed who would have thought that I John would be reborn as such a majestic bush!" John exclaims majestically while reaching his branches up to the sky.
Anna shakes her head while stifling a laugh, "Yes, that's what I meant." She then pauses and collects her self. With a serious expression, she looks at the bush and says, "We talked about who should do the ceremony... We want to ask you to do it."
John shakes in surprise. "If you're sure I'd be happy to do the honors. But I haven't been to a marriage in a very long time. So I don't know the current trends," he states.
"That's fine. It's better that way. I didn't think it would turn into such a big deal," Anna says with exasperation.
John laughs as he consoles the young woman, "You endured quite the ordeal. But it's only because they care."
Anna buries her head between her legs as she remembers the dresses that Elanor had pulled out for the wedding. Each one was gaudier than the last. Not only that but the fitting was very bad. Her lithe body didn't fill out any part of the dresses. It was like a child trying on her mother's clothes. "For a normal woman I'm average," she complains.
"Don't worry about it; you can hide up here with me and Joe!" John says as he pats the back of Anna.
"Mooouu," Joe says in agreement from his medicinal pool.
Morning fades to afternoon and the afternoon gives way to the evening. As the sun begins to dip down, the villagers gather at the bottom of the hill. It's the first happy event since Elanor's welcome party. There are smiles on everyone's faces as they climb up the hill.
Anna stands up proudly as she waits for the procession. Gregory and Franklin escort Arron. Gregory stands on Arron's left with a small wooden bowl. Franklin on the grooms right holds a lit torch in the air.
As they near everyone can see the bride standing upright next to John. The wind blowing her dark brown hair as the red leave gently float by. At this time her ancient blood shone through. Even though she is wearing her ordinary torn dress, she looks like a heroine ready to face all odds.
Arron can't help but gulp seeing Anna so majestic. Still, he climbs and takes her hands into his with clear eyes. Anna bows her head slightly to him before turning towards John her eyes peering into the distance. Arron follows suit and turns toward John. Franklin took his spot next to his mother while Gregory stood next to John with the bowl.
Arron heard John's voice in his head, "I know Anna talked to you, but before I began, I want to make sure you're prepared. She is of the Emerald clan. Their star has been sealed, their lines shattered, and people hunted! Your end will likely be a bloody one. Even your children might curse you for conceiving them. Are you sure you wish to proceed?"
Everyone is waiting for the ceremony to begin as John talks to Arron. No one can hear the private question, so they start to glance nervously at each other. Arron just continued to look into the distance with a determined expression on his face. Perhaps they are going crazy thinking a bush can talk.
Just as Gregory was about to question though John finally speaks, "Today we have gathered here to bring these two people together in marriage. There may be a hundred reason to reject! Even if the enemies are at the gate and the world will soon shatter. The time for objections has ended. Those with bitter hearts shall now forever step aside. All plots and schemes will permanently be laid to rest. For I John the great bush on the hill has deemed this marriage bond and sealed! Now let the blood mix and fire purge the darkness."
The officiation shocked everyone it seemed like a forceful union, not the happy event everyone is used to. Only Anna eyes sparkled as she imagined her clan in its glory days having similar weddings. Gregory took a few seconds to realize it was his turn.
"Ahem," Gregory clears his voice and steps forward. He holds out the bowl to the two of them with an awkward smile. Arron retrieves a small knife from his pocket and smiles as he hands it to Anna. Anna takes the knife and pricks Arron's finger. Arron then takes the knife back and reciprocates. They both hold their fingers over the bowl and let a few drops fall inside.
Gregory watches the drops of blood mix together and nods at John. The mixing of blood is an ancient custom created for those who care about the purity of blood or the race of the children. If the blood mixes without issue, it proves that both are of the same race. A child will always be born the same race as the mother. The child will still inherit some traits from the father with some children having fur or cat ears.
Studies have shown that this hasn't always been the case with recounts of horrible births. Eventually, all females evolved to survive the dangers of mixed race mingling. It is unknown whether some power induced it or if it was gained naturally though.
John ruffles his branches as he continues the ceremony, "now that the blood has mixed the souls shall be forever bound by fire!"
Now Franklin steps forward and burns the wood bowl in front of everyone. There is whooping, and congratulations from the crowd as the fire takes hold.
"Now seal the rights with a kiss and celebrate this grand event!" John finishes.
Arron and Anna lean in and kiss. They then turn and raise their clasped hands towards the crowd.
Elanor yells over the clamor, "You take that man and ravage him now!"
A wild party starts with Elanor running the show. The newlyweds eat and drink making sure to thank everyone for their hard work. But neither enjoyed the attention, and they soon retired to their shack set aside for their consummation.
This night a strange phenomenon happens in the sky that catches many great sects attention. The long still Harlyn star moves once again after all these years. After many eons, the star begins to circle its forgotten partner.
I had a very hard time writing this chapter! Sorry it took so long. Honestly I've rewritten it a few times. I still don't think it turned out great. But I hope you all like it. There was going to be Elanor hunting at the start but it didn't seem important enough and was cut. I'll put it up as a side story on my p atreon in a few days.
lol accidentally published to wrong volume! Fixed though.
thanks for reading!
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