On Saturday I met with Claire's parents again, and her grandparents as well. The elders of her people aren't as... well, as eld as my own Elders, but they have a similar sort of status. At least, that's the way it looked to me; nobody stopped to explain it. What they did explain was that the grandparents had to be present to witness my oaths.
That's right, I took some oaths. Claire asked me to do it, and promised that it wouldn't be anything I couldn't accept. "It's different for us," she told me. "You have... I don't know, people you worship with. The people I worship with are my family." Since she had a better idea than I did of what was involved, and since I trusted her, I agreed.
So her family came, and they told me what oaths they wanted, and Claire was completely right: they weren't unreasonable. In fact, they weren't substantially different from the oaths that Claire swore to my people. The high points included non-aggression towards her people, keeping their secrets, and honoring (though not actively helping) the Father of Serpents. That last bit meant, basically, not defiling holy places or sacred items, and I was fine with that. There was one requirement that I hadn't expected, which consisted of attending a yearly ritual; I didn't see any problem with that, either.
It was a formal occasion; we dressed nicely, and the whole thing was done as a ritual. Not a particularly complex ritual, at least by my standards, but a ritual nonetheless. And at the end of it, Claire turned and slipped a silver bracelet over my wrist. I started to look at it - it was a pretty thing, delicately carved, depicting a snake that wrapped around three times before swallowing its own tail in a fanged mouth - and realized that everyone else was staring at it, too. I couldn't read her grandparents' expressions, but her mother looked thoughtful and her father was genuinely startled. I'd thought that the bracelet was a means of enforcing the oath, but no: the reactions were all wrong for that.
So when Claire leaned up and kissed me on the cheek and whispered, "It will protect you," into my ear, I didn't ask questions. I just grinned and clasped her hand like I had any idea at all what was going on. And that was pretty much it for the ritual. We went out and had dinner at Mi Tierra, and then we went back home.
I asked plenty of questions on the way home, but Claire just smiled and looked smug. Eventually I gave up. If it was important to her, that was good enough... and while I don't think of myself as the sort of guy who goes around wearing a silver snake bracelet, there's nothing uncomfortable or unpleasant about it.
And that was my weekend. With any luck, it'll help keep the peace with the snake cult, and the Elders shouldn't mind: even if we're still at war (and I'm not at all sure what our current status might be), having an open line of communication available is never a bad thing.
Meanwhile, my mentor - whatever I'm calling her... Oh, right. Kate. Meanwhile, Kate has me watching more and more outsiders. It's a distinct group; I keep coming back to the same people. But I'm not sure why I'm watching them. They're Wiccans, or something very similar, and in terms of the Deeper Workings Of The Universe, they're about as credible as the Catholics. If they know anything about us, I can't see any signs of it. I'm not the only one watching them, though: I've caught hints of at least two others. I'm not sure, of course, but I'm going to trust my impressions until I learn better.
Kate has very carefully not explained why I'm watching them. She says she wants my impressions unpolluted. Which will have to be fine, because I don't have a lot of choice about it. I guess we'll see...
For the moment, life is pretty good. We're both employed; we've come to terms with each other's... um... religious differences; and nobody is pushing us to do anything that we're uncomfortable with. I'm sure this won't last - it never does - so for now I'm going to enjoy it.
Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. No snake cultists were involved in writing this post.