Burial grounds, Fire Moon 143.
On one hand, Zita couldn't quite believe this was happening. She knew Branch felt silly in the traditional white facepaint, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know what was going through Dayvid's head right now.
He'd said something about not wanting any regrets if anything happened to one of them. At least Zita could understand that - when their family returned from Moonlight Falls, their son Caleb had brought his boyfriend, Calvin, with him. Then a cooking fire somehow managed to get out of control and burn down their tent...
A sudden flash of grey fur snapped Zita out of that thought. "Oh, no... that was a cat, wasn't it?"
"What, it's bad luck to have a sacred animal at a wedding round here?" Branch laughed.
"Actually, yes!" Zita replied. "It's the one time they're not a good sign! Cats are sacred, but they're also self-centred and go wherever they want - not the best omen for a pair of newlyweds, know what I mean?"
"Well, it makes as much sense as getting hitched in a boneyard..."
Joking aside, it was an established custom in Kulo Seeri for couples to marry in the burial grounds, in the presence of the ancestors the tribe revered. The first part of the ceremony revolved around paying respects to the dead; Zita and Branch made sure to stop by the newest burial mound first. Calvin, who had almost been their son-in-law, was under there.
"I'm sorry, Cal," Zita whispered. She wasn't sure if his spirit was present there or if it had departed for whatever afterlife the northern city Sims got, but she had liked Calvin - even though he'd kept adding to the brood of kids in their old house.
Maybe it was for the best. After all, Ganyalis had become a rakal for getting pregnant once. Calvin had been thrown three little green curveballs before coming to Kulo Seeri. She counted six of the Seven Unnatural Evils that the family had broken between them in Moonlight Falls, and it was all she could do to keep that from everyone else... all these thoughts ran through her head as she recited the wedding prayer. Once it was finished, she looked up to find the assembled crowd staring at her.
"Was that another bad omen?" Branch asked.
"I only learned the words yesterday and even I can tell you fluffed the lines twice."
That said, it was time to move on to the next stage of the ceremony. The ritual duel was probably the oldest part of the Nuidya wedding tradition, dating back to Sena Yuleng's childhood on the island of Keorcuva.
Usually the bride's father or older brother would "fight" the groom, but Zita had never had a father, and her brother Asken was no longer living in Kulo Seeri, so Dayvid stood in. It was truly an exercise in awkwardness, as he was Branch's best friend and had been Zita's other lover for the past thirteen or so moons. Unlike Branch, however, Dayvid hadn't mentioned marriage at all after Calvin died.
The two men charged each other with their wooden swords, trying to make the duel look convincing. Never mind that the only time duels even happened in Kulo Seeri was during a wedding - in fact, that was probably exactly why some men got carried away with that part.
Some men obviously included the ones Zita had picked. Branch managed to make things look a little too convincing.
As Dayvid picked himself up from the grass, he gave his best friend a look he usually reserved for his children when they were in trouble.
"What was that?! You know you're supposed to lose here!"
"Sorry, buddy." Branch grinned before helping Dayvid up.
As the party moved to the recently constructed canopy, Zita couldn't help but notice that everyone else was starting to look worried. Also, there was a chill in the air now. Branch and Dayvid pulled fur tunics on, and Zita overheard someone say something about "wimpy city Sims".
This really should have been the happiest part of the ceremony, however close the idea of exchanging vows was to the barbarian customs of the northern cities. Still, the words felt stilted and awkward, and Branch couldn't quite meet Zita's eyes as he went through them. He looked like he was about to start crying, and not with joy.
He's hiding something, Zita thought.
All she could think as her new husband kissed her was OK, Branch, what's her name?
When Dayvid stepped forward to offer congratulations as awkward as the vows had been, Zita wondered if maybe she should have chosen him instead.
This isn't what the spirits want, she told herself as that cat added to the things that had gone wrong so far by peeing on the canopy.
The wedding feast, like everything else, got off to a very inauspicious start, with Petal getting into yet another fight with Pel zan-Nate.
At least they'd mostly stuck to name-calling, and it hadn't degenerated into a food fight.
And the whole time, that cat was watching from the top of a mossy rock, with a look of "I know something you don't know" in its bright green eyes.
ROS - Marry the Sim you have the highest relationship with. (Branch)
VT says: Unfortunately, this version of Kulo Seeri has gone bang because I was a ditz and deleted half my CC selection. I still have a rotation and a half to post about though, so I'll do that while I rebuild.