Borea wasn’t all that helpful with my dress. Her fingers couldn’t work the buttons, and I suspected she’d never worn a gown herself. Somehow we’d made me presentable with just enough time to spare so that I wouldn’t be late to the wedding ceremony—perhaps the last to arrive, however.

The biggest issue was my hair. Borea helped brush it, but plaiting it was not an option. In the end, I opted to wear it down with only the top pulled away from my face. Traditionally only the bride wore her hair flowing loose, so I hoped Pirreah would understand. Who helped her prepare? In retrospect, I should have asked her and avoided the potential embarrassment.

I planned to slip in, join the bonding circle, and leave as soon as possible. Regardless of how much Atta had hoped I’d mingle and find a suitor, I doubted any of the visiting delegations would interest me. Since I had yet to see any other elves, I was skeptical there would be some close to my age, anyway.

“Through here,” Borea said as she stopped in front of a set of double doors.

The hallways were wider and higher than I was used to, obviously designed for larger bodies. The door handles were chest high, and I expected the giant maid to open them for me, but she strode off. Apparently, her duties finished none too soon.

I inhaled and let it out with a huff. The large handle forced me to use both hands, and I shoved my shoulder into the door enough to let me through. As I suspected, the circle was full, and I was the last to enter. Three giants loomed at the front of the room facing me. I assumed the one in the middle was the groom, but I kept my eyes down and hurried to the circle. Two elves parted giving me space. Grateful for the help though it left me directly across from the center giant. Pirreah hadn’t arrived yet, so at least I’d have a good view of her as she walked passed me.

An uncomfortable silence settled over the room. Glancing around, without trying to look like I was, the elves seemed nervous. I dared a peek at the giants. All six eyes met mine with enraged expressions. What was going on?

“Step closer,” The groom growled between clenched teeth.

“Me?” I pointed to myself. What did he want with me? Perhaps I was breaking giant protocol, and I needed to stand near Pirreah when she entered. It hadn’t escaped my notice I was the only female guest.

“Yes, you!” The floor rumbled with the force of his tone.

The giants on either side of him appeared ready to drag me if I didn’t hurry. When I tried to catch the gaze of the elves, they found more interesting places to stare. Whatever was happening, I wouldn’t be getting support from them. My heart pounded, and I held my hands, so the shaking wasn’t visible.

“Where. Is. It?” He spat when I approached.

“Where is what?” Concern crept up my spine. No one told me I should bring anything. I only knew the process of elven weddings. I knew nothing about giant customs.

The room erupted into chaos. A large hand wrapped around my waist and threw me over a shoulder. What seemed like days, but was possibly only hours later, someone deposited me on my backside into a bleak, icy cavern.