Raz Malik approaches Adaira as he exits the villa. He motioned toward the room that housed the Home Stone and smiled, “Do you plan to pledge to the Home Stone, love?” He did not often speak to her with such affection, especially not within ear shot of others, but they were alone now.
Adaira Southmoor was finishing up getting dressed. stopping as she noticed a familiar figure just on the other side of the beaded curtain. Turning she smiled warmly as he approached “You know those curtains do not hide much.” Her tone was jesting. “luckily, I do not pry and respect privacy.” she reached up and removed her hood. she was changing her plans, taking a few moments to speak with her companion. she’d grown fond of him and enjoyed their conversation. She however was not relishing this particular discussion. she had made a promise to Aurora and would see it through. She was not sure where to begin, so she took her time before formulating words. facing him. Making eye contact, she needed him to take this conversation to heart and she wanted to know he heard her words. She could not help but smile as she looked at him. He had been a good companion, much better than she had orginally ever imagined, she was grateful. His question made her perk from her own thoughts. Her eyes still meeting with his she spoke. “Yes, I do wish to pledge to the Home Stone. I have taken my time becaues it will be the first time I’ve done such a thing. I have lived in cities and worked in cities and my father ruled Turia but I never swore or pledged. I was from the wagons and considered them my home for such a long time.” she laughed softly. “i was not born in the wagons nor was my mother from there. I found my way there and stayed for many years but now I do not feel it is my home. I believe my home is here.” she wanted to tell him her home was with him but it was too deep, too much and seemed like revealing too much to him.
Raz Malik lifted a brow as he heard the words fall from her lips, “You never pledged, Adaira?” He grinned at this and at her convictions to do such now. “You intend then, to remain here a long while, hmm? I must not be the tyrant you may have thought I was.” Truthfully, he could not be with her. She was a woman who deserved his respect, and that was something not easily given. He took her hand in his, stroking it affectionately a moment, before he placed his lips on the top of her glove. “Come, Adaira. We will have you pledge tonight, as the companion of the administrator.”
Adaira Southmoor smiled, her hand in his. Following him to the stone. “no, you are not the tyrant I once envisioned. I wonder if I am what you thought I was.” she reached the table with the bread, salt, and fire. Her stomach was in knots and she was not certain what exactly to do. she’d already given it great consideration and wondered, if he would lead her through the necessary steps. she chewed nervously at her lip and looked at Raz. “i am not certain what to do.” she whispered lightly as if it were a secret. Giving the guard a look, she wondered if he saw this all the time. she did not feel it appropriate to ask. she held Raz’s hand firmly now, drawing in a deep slow breath.
Raz Malik squeezed her hand lightly, grinning, his features beaming with pride as he nodded toward the table nearby. You take a pinch of salt and place it on your tongue, then break thebread and eat a small piece. And then finally, you run your hand through the fire, sans your glove of course.” He looked deeply in her eyes as he added, “No, I thought you were a slave, but it is very clear that you are not, Adaira.” He was proud of her, he was proud that she was his, but in a way so unlike that of his slave girls. He motioned to the guard to open the barred door surrounding the Home Stone as he fetched both rocks from inside. he held them with all the care he might if they were his own child and waiting for Adaira to begin the ceremonial pledge.
Adaira Southmoor gave a solemn nod, sliding her hand from his. she peeled her glove off and slid it into a pocket buried beneath the several layers she wore. she had not just listened to his words to but had taken them to heart. his words of what he’d thought of her did not shock her, she’d known as much and was glad to have proven him wrong. she watched the guard unlock the door and stood, staring for a moment. she steadied herself and then took a pinch of salt and placed it on her tongue. moving she broke off a piece of bread and began to slowly eat it. lastly, she ran her fingers and hand through the flame. she did not do so quickly, she was performing a ritual and would not allow fear to hinder her movements. she pulled her hand from the flame and curled it, it was red and warm with a slight tingling sensation. Moving to face Raz as he held rocks. she asked hushed tone. “do i need to say anything?” she was taking this very seriously and wanted to make sure she did this properly.
Raz Malik held up the larger rock, cradling it carefully in his grip, “This is the Home Stone that I recovered from Syedra before the island was swallowed.” He allowed her to look upon it before holding up the smaller stone, “And this, this is a rock from the center of the village here in Safa. This is our Home Stone.” Pride swelled within him as he spoke of such things as Home Stones, then he eyed his companioned and held the Safa stone out to her, “You say whatever your heart tells you to say, Adaira. It is personal. It is your pledge.”
Adaira Southmoor blinked for a few moments, taking it all in. this was a big step for her. she reached out and lightly touched the smaller stone. her hand was steady, yet her movement was tenative. she drew in a slow deep breath, collected her thoughts and spoke from her heart. “when i was of the wagons, I loved those people. They were my brothers and my sisters. I utilized every ounce of knowledge i have about medicines to protect them, cherish them and in my own way serve them. That part of my life is done and while they will always have a special place in my heart. I start anew. I vow now to be as loyal, as committed and use every fiber of my being to help those people here. To ensure they are safe, healthy and whole. It is my contribution, it is my dedication and my committment to the people here and pledge myself here. I am no longer of the wagons. I am of Safa. ” with that a tear rolled down her cheek. she reached up with the ungloved hand and slid her hand underneath her veil. she unclasped the gold nose ring she’d worn for so long. she slid it out and removed it. handing it to Raz. she drew in another solemn deep breath, her eyes shimmering from the tears that threatened to fall. she held them back by sheer will and determination. she had willingly closed a chapter in her life and started a new one.
Raz Malik watched his companion closely, swallowing as she spoke. Such things were emotional, even to a man. They meant a great deal, greater than one’s own life, in fact. He spoke softly, “You are hereby granted citizenship and all of the protection it affords one of Safa.” He watched as she removed he nose ring, a bit fo a surprise to him, though it was a symbol of her commitment, of her love for Safa. He grinned broadly, as he offered the Safa stone to her lips.
Adaira Southmoor leaned forward and kissed the stone. she drew in a shattered breath, a supression of the emotions stirring within her. she then stood straight and tall. smoothing down her robes. a smile crossed her features, lighting up her eyes. “Thank you ” was what she spoke to Raz. she was happy he was there with her for this. It had meant a great deal to her.
Raz Malik gave her a reassuring look as he retreated into the caged area to replace both of the stones. He then held the golden ring in his hand, before tucking it away in his pouch. He knew that was likely not the easiest choice for Adaira to make, and it meant a great deal to him that she had made such a gesture. He emerged, beaming, “We will make this place a place worthy of calling home.” It was his way of saying he needed her, without actually saying such, being the type of man he was.