Courting becomes a serious thought in their seventeenth year. It’s the males that do the courting, but the women generally have the final say. Arranged marriages aren’t common. In the rare case of an arranged marriage, if the couple can’t get along, it isn’t followed through.
Common things for young men to do to impress the young women are feats of strength, poetry, fancy flying, gifts, dress in fancy clothes, and dueling. It’s not only one sided, either. Some girls do engage in courting of their own. There aren’t many differences in what they do to impress, but they don’t engage in duels or feats of strength. They’ll sing or play instruments in lieu of those activities. As in any society, it’s very common for the courted to lead the courter on, playing hard to get.
Once a partner has accepted the court, the courter must have permission from her parents if it hadn’t been previously obtained in order to continue with the courting. Once obtained, that partner is courted exclusively. This stage is similar to the engagement stage in human society. This period lasts a minimum of four months and can go as long as ten months. If they feel they are ready for marriage after four months, than they are able to do so; however, if they still don’t feel ready after ten months, then it gets called off.
A courting goes according to very strict guidelines. One tends to target a group of the opposite sex which includes at least three or four that the courter has an interest in. Others outside of that group are free to express interest. After the courter has gathered as many prospects as can be handled, the group closes off. The courter has to keep them interested, especially considering that others will also be engaged in similar activities at the same time. As time passes, the courter’s attention will focus on fewer and fewer of his prospects, singling out the one most desirable to him. Permission to court that individual exclusively is sought from the family once the court has been accepted.
Marriages are usually very simple affairs. The service is performed either in private with a few witnesses or in public with lots of people in attendance. The head of the family will offer the couple advice and well-wishes. The palms of their left hands are then slashed open by a knife and their hands are bound, palms together, by a cloth in the colors of both their families. There is then an exchange of tokens, often rings or necklaces, and the marriage is complete.
The knife used to slash the palms of the couple is an important item and is kept in a glass case in their home. The blade is either silver or gold, depending on the region of the valley they come from and the hilt is twined with the colors of the region of the Valley their families come from. Behind the knife in the case if the cloth that bound their hands together. Neither item is cleaned of the blood as this is seen as a sign of bad luck.
Bonding is one of the rarest, most bizarre parts of siathi society. A bond is an unbreakable relationship between two people. In this bond, you can feel what your partner feels depending on the strength of the bond. In a strong bond, you would feel everything, physically and emotionally, that your partner feels.
No one knows what causes two people to Bond, as there are strange and varied circumstances that bring them about. In one bizarre case, a man who had been married for six years and had one child somehow Bonded with an old childhood friend. This resulted in an even rarer three pair as the original wife accepted the situation and invited the other woman into their house so as not to disrupt the life of the child. Not all women are as understanding in a similar situation, resulting in tragedy. Such is one of the staples of siathi lore and popular story telling.
There are two different types of Bonds. The first, least painful, and easiest to adjust to is the Rei’shakla, the Bond willingly formed between two people. Before this Bond occurs, there are things that happen between two individuals that are necessary to draw them together to form the Bond. They must be friends of some sort. It isn’t necessary that they are physically attracted to each other, but it helps. They had to have known each other for a while. It is imperative that neither of them is currently Bonded to anyone else. Once Bonded, they cannot Bond again unless their Bondmate is dead.
The second type is more difficult to adjust to. This is the Rei’kibanla, a Bond formed between two people whether they want it or not. Refusing this Bond can make you and the other person involved very sick and might even kill you both. The stages before the Bond are very typical, but tend to, at first, look like they are merely lovesick. If they are strong magic users, they will become increasingly aware of each other, knowing what the other is thinking or feeling at any given point in time. If pain happens to one, the other feels it. In extreme cases, the injury will be reflected on the body of the other, but this is rare. If one is gifted and the other isn’t, then only the gifted one will be this aware of the other. If both aren’t, then they will only feel pulled towards the other with only a faint awareness of each other.
Using things such as terms of endearment will very strongly affect the other. This is especially true in the case of a non-gifted and a gifted. When the two are together, all they can think about is the other. All they want to do is to make the other person happy. Touching can be almost painful until they become aware of what’s happening to them. At this stage, they must Bond or go insane from the need and longing for the other person.
People who are caught in the second form frequently choose to call it by the name of the first, make it seem like it was their choice to Bond.
All young siathi are taught the words to activate a Bond with another. To Bond with another, they must stand, holding each other in their arms, repeating the chant. There is a strange sensation of floating outside of one’s body. You can see the other person as a shadow just outside their own body. The Bond is complete when the two clasp hands, allowing their blood to mingle, and become one. If they hesitate too long, it won’t work. Bondmates are referred to as Rei’shikairen.
After the Bond is completed, they become completely aware of the other in every sense. In the case of two gifteds, they could become capable of communicating mind to mind.