I Was Forced To Quit Being a Nun and Get Married Because of a Divine Prophecy ~the Wise Prince Who I Am Actually Marrying Is Someone Who Dotes on Me Excessively~ – Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Climbing the Stairs
I got out of the bath and was surrounded by maids who dried my whole body with a towel in no time, from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I put on new underwear, a cotton blouse and culottes, a thin silk wrap skirt, and a white linen robe with gold decorations that had been prepared for me without my noticing. However, everything was for adult women and too big for me. The maids hurriedly brought a belt and solved the problem of the waist size and the length of the wrap skirt.
Thanasios, who had already finished changing, looked at me and said, “Listen, Eleni. Today, we will declare our engagement before the main god Styx and become legally married on paper. The wedding ceremony will be held at a later date, which will be the official day we become husband and wife.”
“Then, I will report my oath to the main god Styx at the Lethe Temple before that day.”
“Yes, do that. I think you understand, but you are my wife and the prince’s consort. You must behave in a way that is not unworthy of that status.”
I had no choice but to nod. I had to be careful with my actions so as not to incur Thanasios’s anger.
I was getting nervous. Heading towards the engagement only amplified my anxiety.
Then, Thanasios reached out his hand in front of me.
“Let’s go. Don’t hesitate, or rather, let’s hold hands like a married couple.”
I took Thanasios’ hand. It was a beautiful hand, but I noticed a pen mark on his index finger and palm. It was proof that he had been working hard on political affairs. Come to think of it, the hand of the old nun Yorgia, who raised me, also had a pen mark. She used to say that she made many copies and collected books to read in the monastery.
Thanasios’ left hand and my right hand were held together, and our still slightly warm hands were sticking together, making me feel embarrassed. Thanasios was treating me as his wife much more than I had expected. Perhaps, men are supposed to treat their wives kindly, but the husbands(men) I had seen so far didn’t do that.
Thinking about it, I realized that I didn’t know much about marriage. The couples I had seen so far seemed to be anything but normal, so it was even more so.
As I pondered, I found myself on the covered walkway between the royal castle and the Styx Temple. A wide stone staircase floated in the sky, with clouds visible directly below. We were already at a very high place, and the stairs continued all the way to the back of the Styx Temple and the Arche of Apeiron, a sanctuary floating in the sky. How many tens or hundreds of steps were there?
As I stood there in amazement, wondering if we were going to climb all the way up on foot, Thanasios seemed to read my mind and said, “You’ll see that the stairs don’t go up that much.”
“What do you mean?”
Thanasios took out the golden Styx emblem from his pocket.
“This is a sacred object that only the Styx royal family, high priest, and priestess can possess, which allows us to shortcut the stairs.”
“Oh, Panagiota, the high priestess, also had it around her neck.”
“Today, I’m the only one who has it, so let’s hold hands and go.”
And so, Thanasios took my hand and we began to climb the stairs step by step.
Or so I thought.
“Huh? What’s that?”
When I stepped onto the third step, my right foot didn’t touch the step.
I landed on the cobblestone with my right foot. As Thanasios led me forward, I looked up and saw a completely different view from before.
A lawn spread out before me, as far as the eye could see. However, the ground was spherical, and people were walking on the grass ceiling that should have been the sky. Between where I stood and the grass ceiling, there was a small sun-like object emitting white light, surrounded by several streams of water.
It was a fantastic and mysterious sight. Once again, I was taken aback and stared up in awe.
“It’s normal to react like that the first time you come here. I was the same way.”
“This way,” Thanasios said, taking my hand and leading me towards a stone building that was visible ahead.
There were several pillars and a waterway surrounding them, and in the back, I could see an altar. It was simple, with only marble lying horizontally and a single gold-trimmed mat and cup on top. The main god, Styx, does not like decorations. The goddess of the great river gives oaths and the water of immortality, and sends human souls to the underworld. Because it is closely related to the fear of death, various interpretations have been made.
“The main god, Styx, is not supposed to be concerned with human affairs. However, her three thousand sisters and eight children govern everything related to humans. That’s why Styx, who rules over them, is considered the main god.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that story before. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, is extreme, but the Oceanids religion tends to be more austere and frugal, closer to the main god Styx.”
“Well, overdoing it is not good, but…”
Thanasios seemed to want to say something, but he cleared his throat and changed the subject.
“What I mean is, you don’t have to go through complicated rituals with the main god Styx. You just need to declare that you’re married in front of the altar. That’s all.”
“Simple and straightforward. I think that’s good.”
“I agree. It’s great that our preferences match.”
Thanasios looked happy, and so did I. We found a small common ground between us, and that’s something to be happy about.
There was nothing to stop us from reaching the altar. The priestesses standing between the pillars bowed their heads, and the elderly female high priest was standing next to the altar.
Thanasios called out to the high priest.
“I have come to make the oath of engagement. Let’s get it done quickly.”
“Very well. Please proceed.”
Thanasios took a deep breath and spoke the words of the oath clearly towards the altar.
“As per the oracle of the god Styx, I take Eleni as my wife. That’s all.”
Thanasios sent a glance towards me. He must be telling me to do the same. I repeated Thanasios’ words exactly as he said them.
“As per the oracle of the god Styx, I take Thanasios as my husband.”
Nothing happened, and the white sun at the zenith continued to shine. The streams of water flowed as usual.
That’s it. Thanasios turned on his heel next to me. I tried to follow him.
At that moment, I suddenly felt dizzy and lost consciousness.