Pomp and Circumstance

“I can’t believe I’m doing this” groaned Zuko as he examined his outfit in the mirror, “I look totally out of place in all this finery.”

“Regardless of your upbringing, you are a Solar and the people attending this ceremony expect you to look the part,” informed Kadon as he handed his circle-mate the elaborate headpiece emblazoned with a golden sun.

“What people expect of me shouldn’t be an influence on MY wedding don’t you think? Couldn’t this just be Scarlet and I with a few guests saying our vows in the woods? Please?”

“Hey, you’re the one who told Aboshi about your plans; you cannot blame her for creating this spectacle to raise awareness of our new status in the world. Let’s not forget that I am letting you throw the first celebration inside the Cor Ignus since I created it from my will alone”

Zuko shifted uncomfortably in his layers of gold-embroidered silks, noticing how the light shimmered off his chest as he twisted and turned trying to get the outfit to fit. He typically hated all clothes that restricted his natural range of motion, but even the stealth-happy Night Caste had to admit that he certainly looked the regal part in the fancy getup.

“I can’t believe we are giving away so much money, Kadon, charity is one thing, but this seems just-“

• • •

“Crazy about him Mnemia”, exclaimed Scarlet as the Dawn helped her into her dress “but this seems too public a way to profess our love for each other. Truth be told, I’d rather just drag him into a forest and grab hold of his rich green hair and-“

“Let’s not discuss that”, the strong Tia curtly replied.

“Sorry, it’s just that after so much time hiding out I can hardly think that exposing myself to such public scrutiny like this is a great idea. I’m sure the realm will take note and not be pleased.”

Almost on command Aboshi and Fire Orchid entered the room with all the majesty and grandeur that one would expect from two Solars prepared to perform a grandiose wedding.

“Oh for the love of…” trailed Orchid as she saw the disarray of Scarlet’s dress “It’s like you’ve never worn a proper dress before. Let me help you”

“Regardless of your… difficulties with the situation” Aboshi interrupted, seizing control of the room “let us not forget that we are attempting to celebrate your union along with the rebirth of Nexus. This is our chance to show this entire city and the world that we chosen of the Unconquered Sun have returned, and can bring back the glories of the first age. I will expect you and your soon-to-be-husband to behave impeccably, with any luck the Unconquered Sun himself and Luna will take note of our ceremony today.”

“Yes Ma’am,” quipped the excited Lunar, “because I really need the extra-“

• • •

“pressure on my waist, I hardly feel like I can breathe” gasped Zuko “I wish we could have arranged for such goofy getups for you guys to wear”

“Aboshi seemed to think that showing up in all our grandeur would be more impressive to the crowd. I am simply thankful that we don’t have to be there in warstriders and frighten the populace”

As Kadon and Zuko waited for Orchid to finish her opening prayer from the balcony overlooking the courtyard of the newly revamped center of the Firewander district they couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer volume of citizens who crowded the open air parks. The city had seen a massive influx of tourists and new merchants since the announcement had been made of Zuko and Scarlet’s wedding and the excitement was almost palpable. Some foreign merchants were even selling hand-painted memorial placards for the wedding that featured portraits of the pair that only proved they had no idea what either the Solar or Lunar looked like. Nevertheless, the entire group stood in silence and reverence as the circle’s Zenith Caste gave a prayer to the Unconquered Sun.

“Amazing, it wasn’t so long ago that each and every one of those people thought of us as demons who ate children and souls, and now they stand in awe of us and our almighty patron. Doesn’t that seem strange to you Kadon?”

“Hardly, we have revived a blight upon their city and brought an influx of trade and money. Regardless, it seems as though you missed Orchid’s introduction, get out there!”

Zuko rushed thru the curtain leading out to the balcony and stumbled over the entryway. Catching himself on his hands, he instinctively walked the rest of the way on his hands before flipping back up with a smile on his face in front of the shocked faces of Aboshi and Fire Orchid standing before him.

“Uhh… sorry I’m late? I was just dis- dis- oh wow” Zuko stammered at the sight of his bride “Scarlet you look amazingly beautiful, and we- we are… about to get married in front of a lot of people. Mnemia you certainly look nice in your armor, Aboshi you seem pleasant as always and Kadon! Please get out here, I need some male backup. Because there’s a lot of-“

Scarlet hushed him with two fingers on his lips, “You’re stammering my dear, let’s just let these priests do their thing okay?”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Orchid insisted in a hushed tone, “now if the two of you will please come and stand before us, hold hands and face each other and we can begin. Also, Aboshi thought that we could throw a little theater into the mix, so why don’t we all light these caste marks up, you’ll know when to make the light really shine,” she instructed with a wink.

“Ladies and gentlemen of Nexus and the rest of creation, we come here this day to bear witness to the marriage of Zuko Kota, the Grove’s Swift Shadow, Chosen of the Night Caste by the Unconcquered Sun and Scarlet, Amber-eyed Jade dreamer under the Violet sky, a No-Moon Chosen of Luna!” Aboshi boomed across the masses as her voice seemed to fill the district completely.

As Fire Orchid and Aboshi continued to lead the pair thru the wedding Zuko took stock of the scene around him. Holding hands with the woman he loves, surrounded by his circle-mates in their most impressive regalia, and fully prepared to marry her in front of countless strangers. As the ceremony wore on Zuko was pleased that he managed to make it thru his vows without messing up, and got over the embarrassment of realizing he had given Scarlet the wrong ring of the pair as Aboshi gave the two of them their wedding bands from the first age and said a prayer over them, unifying their souls and cementing their union before all of Creation.

As the ceremony came to close, and Zuko leaned in to kiss his bride, Fire Orchid chose to chime in with “and NOW, would be a good time gang,” leading the pair to fully ignite their anima banners. As they kissed for the first time as husband and wife, the gold and silver auras surrounding them were soon overpowered by the rest of the Exalted witnesses igniting their own and shining brightly across the balcony. Zuko smiled and walked with Scarlet forward towards the cheering crowd and bid them quite themselves, which took a little while.

“Citizens of Nexus and beyond,” shouted Zuko “I thank you for joining us here on this day, for it is certainly the most joyous in my life. Though I am not a native of your wonderful city, I am honored that you would come to bear witness to our union and help us in celebrating our new life together. May this day be remembered as a coming together of not just Scarlet and myself, but of all people in Creation as we fully acknowledge the Solar’s return and all the joy and prosperity that shall return with it!! And… and…”, Zuko struggled for a moment trying to find the words. “Let us not forget…”

“THAT THIS IS A PARTY AND START HAVING FUN!!” screamed Scarlet excited hopping up and down.

The crowd roared with approval as countless casks of wine were opened and the reception kicked off to a great start. The crowd had a wonderful banquet and celebration to look forward to filled with music, dancing and lavish gifts granted to all attendees thanks to some extra Wyld-shaping done by Kadon as he formed the district. The Solars gathered looked out hopefully across the beginning festivities, hoping that this event would help improve outlook towards Solars in the Scavenger lands at least. Zuko simply leaned back and looked to the rest of the Solars.

“I, uhhh, got most of that right, didn’t I?”

“Close enough”, sighed Aboshi as she shrugged her shoulders “let’s just hope they remember this party well, as that was hardly the most inspiring thing ever said”

“Here here! Now let’s all shut up and enjoy ourselves” chimed in Mnemia as a tray of wine was brought to the group.

Zuko took a glass and held Scarlet close as they all drank a toast in their honor. After all that had happened over the past few years he knew he could definitely look to this day as one of the good ones. Now all he had to do was visit Halta and explain the situation so their union would be recognized in his homeland. Lady Chaltra and the council would likely not be pleased by what he meant to tell them.

Pomp and Circumstance

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