Maiden of the Sea: Part 9 - Joined
The Valar watched from the high places, but Ulmo watched from the Sea, and his feeling was bittersweet. Was he losing a servant and friend? Or did he gain more of that which he could lose?
All people were joyful, and many came to see the union of the two. Ossë the Maia and Èríele of the Teleri were to be wed on this beautiful day, for all eternity.
Some Teleri were more curious that others, and they wondered who the great lord was that had so quickly won the heart of their Princess, for Ossë was not known by many in Alqualondë.
And yet, it gladdened their hearts to see their Èríele, their Maiden of the Sea, in happiness and delight, and all blessings were laid upon the two that were to be joined.
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Èríele stood still in her room, her hand-maidens surrounding her.
One brushed her long hair, causing it to shine like a river of gold down her back. Another fastened a string of perfectly matched white pearls around her neck, while yet another made sure the magnificent dress Èríele wore was in readiness and spotless.
"Thank you, ladies, for your assistance to me this day," Èríele spoke, above the busy chatter of the maidens.
"No trouble, no trouble at all," they chorused, slipping the dress over their Lady's head.
The threesome moved behind Èríele to begin fixing her golden tresses. Braiding strands of pearls into it, the Elf-maidens twisted and plaited her hair, piling it high on her head.
Strategically placing a few more pearls, one maiden cooed, "Oh, my lady! You are beautiful!"
Èríele smiled serenely and looked in her mirror, her tiny smile growing wider.
"I feel worthy of him," she murmured quietly.
"Never have you been unworthy!" "Such a vision!" chimed two maidens while one simply dabbed at her moist blue eyes, sighing, "Ah!"
Èríele's white, flowing dress was softer that silk, and the pearls hung above the neckline, drawing no attention from the delicately embroidered lothelen flowers covering the fabric of the dress.
The tearful maiden reached up and placed several fresh lothelen blossoms in Èríele's hair.
"It must be time. Let us go," Èríele spoke, her voice shaky.
"Oh, my lady! There is nothing to fear! Anyone could see that your lord loves you!" a maid offered, trying to be of help.
Èríele shook her head. The maiden could not understand. Èríele was not afraid, but she was strangely excited. All her life she had waited unceasingly for a man such as Ossë, and now that the day had arrived for her to place all trust, faith, and love in him, she could not believe it.
"Let us be gone, the hour draws near," Èríele said, walking towards the door, her short train flowing behind her. The sweet essence of lothelen was about her, and the precious pearls glistened in her sunny, golden hair. Indeed, she was beautiful.
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Ossë waited impatiently by the water for his bride. Inwardly, he chided himself. He was behaving like a Quendi! Pacing, showing what he felt inside, capable of feeling worry.
Isil stood by him, smiling amusedly at his behavior. "Ossë! Be calm. She will be here soon," Isil comforted, glancing at the nearby city.
The guests of Lord Isil had gathered slowly at the beach to see the union of Maia and Quendi. Many Noldor and Vanyar came, in honor of Lord Isil, who was a wise, peaceful ruler, and all Teleri came to see their Princess be wed.
Then, when a single maiden in white was seen, they parted into two companies, dropping to their knees as she drew close. Ossë and Isil waited, side by side as Èríele walked through the midst of the Quendi, coming closer to them.
At last, she came near enough for Ossë to reach out and take her slender white hands in his, and draw her to his side, facing Lord Isil.
"We are assembled here this day to witness the holy union of Ossë of the Maiar, and Èríele, Princess of the Teleri. Before the Valar, and Ilúvatar our Father, I charge you, Ossë, and you, Èríele, to cherish and love one another, for all the Ages this world will bring, never parting in anger, always being faithful to one another, and never allowing any of the Powers that be to put aside what has been sealed by Ilúvatar most High. Do you accept this charge, and vow to abide by it, remaining true unless Death puts aside that which has been sworn?"
Ossë squeezed Èríele's hands in his as he answered, "I accept, and I swear to keep this charge, and more also."
Isil looked at Èríele, and she turned her blue eyes upon Ossë's, as she repeated, "I accept, and I swear to keep this charge, and more also."
Isil smiled widely, and then announced loudly, "Then let Ossë kiss his bride!"
Èríele blushed red, but stood on her tiptoes to meet Ossë's kiss that sealed their promise to each other for eternity.