Cathál i-sered-Ríëlle was nervous, and she tried hard not to let it show. There was no reason to be so, she knew – sure, Cathál, and that’s what all those who failed of Acceptance first time around thought when this morning came for them – for she was well prepared, and neither her parents nor any of the House elders had hinted otherwise. But still.
The circumstances, from the most formal hall of the House with the looming statues of her ancestors and the circle of elder cousins, to the unexpected awakening in the foredawn hour, and even the itchy wool of the Acceptance robe were designed to throw off-balance those who asked for the rite before they were really ready. This she also knew.
It didn’t help much.
Pride and serenity; serenity and pride.
“Who stands before the Rian of Rian, First of House and Lineage, in the sight of kin and clan?”
“I, Cathál, for twelve years and three months of the blood of Ríëlle, out of Elíne of Desúmé, by Korith Ríëlle.”
“Why do you stand before us, Cathál, of our blood?”
She felt a moment of unreasoned pride that her voice did not crack.
“To demand my place among you, as is my right.”
“By what right would you demand a place?”
“By right of blood and proven worth.”
“Then let it be proven.” The genarch’s voice slipped into the cadences of a familiar ritual. “Who speaks for the blood? Is the child a true daughter of the line of Ríëlle, and of the House of the Sun in Splendor?”
“The blood is proven.” Her parents’ voices rang out from behind her, and Cathál resisted the urge to turn and look at them. “We, Elíne Ríëlle-ith-Rian and Korith Desúmé-ith-Desúmé, speak. In the light of the Flame, we pledge it; the blood of the braid runs true.”
“The blood is proven,” the genarch echoed. “Who speaks for the soul? Is the child fit to bear our name, and bring no shame upon the House of Rian?”
“The soul is proven. I, Camríäd Rian-ith-Rian, hearthmistress of this estate, speak. In the light of the Flame, I pledge it; her soul is reflected in serenity and reason. She brings no disgrace to hearth or kin.”
“The soul is proven. Who speaks for the mind? Has the child wit and learning, a house for thoughts and the words to shape them?”
“The mind is proven. I, Estrey Koiric of Atheléä, master of runes by our mistress’s grace, speak. In the light of the Flame, I pledge it; she has mastered the Triad, and the book is open.”
“The mind is proven. Who speaks for the word? Does the child command her will, speak truth, and act as she has spoken?”
“The word is proven. I, Liríën Telithos-ith-Talith, speak. In the light of the Flame, I pledge it; the First Contract has been made, and the Guild of Formal Obligation accepts her word as good. By our word, let none challenge or doubt hers.”
“The word is proven. Who speaks for the hand? Is the child capable of works of worth, or deeds worthy of renown?”
“The hand is proven. I, Larquen Vianath-ith-Viriaz, speak. In the light of the Flame, I pledge it; we of the Watermen’s Fellowship declare her talent and investment-worth, and thus we accept her as Apt.”
“The hand is proven. So, then, Cathál of the blood of Ríëlle, what more claim of your own worth do you make that you should sit among us here?”
“I need make no more claim.” Cathál met her genarch’s eyes firmly, quailing only a little deep inside. “My blood calls me to my House and Line, but I am Cathál and my worth is my own. My place is justly earned and owed. Deny me at your peril.”
“It is well spoken. Then come forth, Cathál Rian-ith-Ríëlle, child no longer, accepted of your House and Line, and feast here with your peers, under the eyes of your ancestors. By your own hand your place is wrought, and you are welcome among us.”
Cathál stepped forward among the sudden outburst of applause and cheers to take her place at the high table, shaky with the sudden release of tension.