In dark times even the smallest of joy or the humblest of celebration brings hope. And indeed these were the start of dark times.
The the western parts of the Maixan were already destroyed by the flames of war. Empty villages laid in ruins close to the mountains, and the vivid forests were literally burnt down. The divided feral tribes couldn’t deny the fact… Well they could if they wanted, but most of them heed reason and sought some kind of unification. Even if it meant closer alliance only until the storm blew over.
Two tribes were one of the earliest to search such an alliance. Unfortunately both the chieftain of the White Tiger and the Black Raven Tribes had only sons. So they decided to pick the most worthy candidate for brides in both tribes.
While the sons of the chieftains proved their prowess before their own tribe in martial combat. Prince Taob, second son of chief Qiack of the Black Ravens were to marry one of the White Tiger’s worthiest maiden. As were Prince Raff, third son of Mkaia of the White Tigers would do the same with the fairest Black Raven.
There was a custom in the White Tiger tribe that the woman to be married run a gauntlet contesting her four sisters, cousins or closest friends of her choosing in order to earn the right to do so. It was said the gauntlet ensured that bride is chosen his husband well as then the others would let her win, if not she is fit enough to endure the troubles to come. Or both.
This time however after the visit of prince Taob, the gauntlet was open to any maiden to enter. While the princes on both sides only had to contest against four other, as the first son of Qiack was already taken, for the gauntlet twenty-six women entered. The tribe was much bigger than that. Many of the unmarried women was taken aback by the dashing prince’s raven like ebony skin and tall figure. Those who were not however gave all they had in the contest. Even if some candidate had help in form of friends pushing them forward and tripping the competition, such friends wouldn’t walk back on the opportunity if somehow they’d turned out to be the winner.
The gauntlet was held in turns, only four running at a time. While the turn losers had a second run to getting a second chance at participating. By such a chance the last turns was also held with proper numbers.
Mntui a beauty of White Tiger standards was named winner after days of contest. She had also inner help. But the blood red haired, paled skinned, slender lady with a yet hardly hidden built of a warrior stood with pride on the makeshift wooden pedestal. There was a hint of adorable humbleness concealed in her smile. Her sapphire eyes shone with gratitude towards her helpers in the crowd as the chieftain put a necklace made of colourful flowers on her shoulders symbolizing her prize.
The fact was she felt this was an honour. She was to represent her tribe to the Black Ravens even if it didn’t made her queen, it did certainly make her a princess. But there was an other reason. Since prince Taob arrived they had some time to get acquainted. Even if every other maiden who entered the run had, it seemed they got along with the prince quite well. So there was more to look forward to. She thought it was the happiest day of her life. But the ceremony only started the day after.