They soon get the meaning of your actions and another platter of spiced, roasted meat is brought to you along with a slightly less ornamental goblet. Within it is a different drink that doesn’t taste quite so alcoholic and bitter but you know it’s still likely to get you drunk if you kick back too much of it.
Another half an hour ticks by and you’re starting to get bored of sitting by yourself when one of the more popular Khaads gets up and comes over to you, leaving his dempair and entire tribe behind. A lull comes over the conversations and background noise although it doesn’t disappear entirely.
After giving you a slight bow he sits near your feet and leans in to talk. You give him your attention and try to ignore the eyes all focused on the pair of you. He has a deep black moustache which frames the top of his mouth and his skin is a little darker than Temullgei’s. He also sits a little taller, but less muscles adorn his bare chest and arms.
“Angel, are you enjoying this feast?” he asks. You nod, not sure you could answer in any other way. “We are blessed to have an Angel among us of such beauty.”
He pauses and gazes at you for a moment. You don’t reply, having heard similar things from Temullgei.
“I hope you have been happy in your short time with us so far?”
Again you nod.
“I understand that Temullgei found you and brought you to the Khaadain. I hope he took great care of you?”
“He did his best,” you finally say.
“I’m sure he did… If you get bored of the feast or wish for a more relaxed atmosphere, I would be honoured to have you visit me for a private audience this evening. I can assure you that my personal gerd is most comfortable.”
“Thank you for the invitation. I will consider the offer.” You smile and he gets up. You realise that everyone around you must have lost interest in watching during that conversation except for Temullgei who looks even more annoyed than he did before.
You wait for a few more minutes, not sure what to do and eventually the Khaadain catch your eye. You watch as they pour more of the previous substance into the same goblet and realise they thought you were wanting the ceremony to end.
A few seconds later they bring the cup to you and place it in your hand. After pausing and taking a deep breath you stand and hold the goblet high one last time. Hoping this will be the last time you ever have to drink the foul stuff you gulp it down again.
A final loud cheer fills the night air when you’re done. You then hand the cup back and begin the slow but welcome walk out of the circle and towards your bed. The tribe men and women part as you come towards them but only enough for you to walk through the gap. As you pass many reach out and stroke your arms and shoulders while a few women even stroke your hair.
At first this makes you feel uncomfortable, but the contact remains gentle and the sea of people parts before you without resistance no matter how deep you get.
You’re just about to decide whether to make your way towards Khaad Benrah’s gerd or your own when he appears to one side of you and takes your arm in his. While smiling at the crowds he gently guides you along towards his tent.
His dempair and servants follow on behind you until you reach his tent. The closest servant holds open the flap for you and you step into the warm insides. A large fire sits in the middle of the largest tent you’ve ever seen, with soft, fur covered cushions. Near that is more food, evidently already prepared by his servants. All the furniture, including the bed is made from ornately carved wood with gemstones laid into it. You’ve never seen so much wealth in one place.
“Come, sit,” he says and guides you to the soft area near the fire. He makes himself comfortable beside you and his servant pours wine into two chalices, almost as ornate as the ceremonial one you drank from earlier.
He hands you one and smiles at you. Without waiting for further instruction his servants all hurry out and you find yourself alone with Benrah.
“I am honoured that you have granted this private audience. I had barely dared to hope that I would get to meet an Angel one day. And here you are.” He smiles, yet again and you hesitate. Being repeatedly praised doesn’t make conversation easy.
“Here I am,” you say, a moment later. He seems to be struggling to get to the point of his request.
“I know this is very bold of me, but I know Khaad Temullgei has already asked you to be his wife, and we barely know each other, but…” Here he pauses and puts his chalice of wine down. You know what is going to come next, but not exactly how it will be phrased. Temullgei did at least warn you that this might happen. “I would like you to consent to be my wife. I won’t lie to you, having you as my wife would make me powerful, but I would take care of you and ensure you’re provided for. I command the largest tribe and would help you unite our people, as the Khaadain predict you will do.”
As Benrah finishes speaking he takes your nearest hand and kisses the back of it, tickling it with the hair from his moustache.
“Will you be my wife?”
[powr-survey label=”AotS Part 12″]