Medievia Mudslinger

October 7th, 2001

Rapscallion and the Wedding of Doom and Terror - By Rapscallion

"Grarglesnurfle g'way," (1) Rapscallion muttered from the depths of his bed covers.

"You're being a naughty boy," said a distinctively feminine voice, chiding him.

"Gruzzflik?" he asked before rolling over and beating his pillow.

"Look here, you'll get up right now or I'll jolly well get you up." Rapscallion's wriggling ceased for a moment as this filtered through his sleep-drenched brain. He didn't know what was going on but the sooner he got rid of this intruder then the sooner he could get his head down again. He began to sit up slowly as a thought struck him. Female? He was in bed? Blinking in confusion he gaped around at this most unusual fact.

"Gamina?" he asked, looking at the softly glowing goddess perched on the end of his bed. She grinned back at him.

"The very same. Now, I need you for something and all the other avatars are trading or approving names or killing dragons and the like. I need someone who can put two words together for a special task." She conjured a mirror out of thin air and began to examine her make up.

"So you came to me? I'm flattered," Rapscallion said, rubbing his eyes.

"Well, Mank is on... other duties. Hey - get out from under that pillow!" she yelled at him. He sat up slowly.

"Great, thanks," he muttered sourly. Playing second fiddle to that Imp? "So what do you need me for? And why are you wearing so much lace and silk?" He blinked furiously even as he tried to yawn.

"Well, I need you to help at a wedding," she replied with a girlish giggle. "Like the outfit?" she asked, standing to twirl around.

"You're getting married?"

"Me? Not this time," she replied with a sigh. "I'm head bridesmaid, though!" With that she began to pat at her hair to check for any stray strands that had escaped her attention. "You want to get some clothes on? We can get right there when you're ready." Rapscallion glanced at the pile where he usually kept his clothes, a pile that had been condemned by the Union of Janitors as a health hazard. He glanced down at his naked chest and the fact that a goodly few feet separated him from something to cover his modesty. "What are you waiting for?" she demanded before catching his worried glances. "Ah, I see," she added with a grin.

Her hand traced a casual wave in the air and the cleanest of the alleged clothing flew through the air to slip below the bed clothes. "Gnnnnh! Feee!" exclaimed Rapscallion as his eyes crossed.

"Don't be such a big baby," Gamina chided. "Being tickled can be fun!"

"It's not that," he moaned. "You got my loincloth on back to front!"

"Really? Oh, soon fix that then," she replied with another quick gesture.

"Aiieeeee!" screamed Rapscallion with a flailing of his arms and a gnashing of his teeth.

"Oh come on, what now?"

"Friction," he whined an octave higher than normal.

"Oh come on, it wasn't that fast," she told him. "Now get up, we're off to the wedding."

A few moments later saw two figures pop into existence at one end of Gamina's offices in the godhalls. Several more moments saw the start of a very intense argument.

"Do you have to do that in public?" Gamina hissed furiously at him. "Everyone's staring!"

"Play fair, eh? When you cast the heal spell you have to touch the afflicted area. It's not my fault..." His voice trailed off as he stared around at the splendid accouterments in the hall. Paper streamers and balloons were draped from every possible section of roof. A sumptuous banquet adorned a groaning table, with mountainous cakes and gigantic roasts covering every inch. Waiters stood around to dispense drinks as the guests chatted amongst themselves. Those that weren't staring at him, of course.

"Don't you have any better clothes?" Gamina asked as she looked his tattered robes over in disdain. He shook his head, but as she looked around at a nearby waiter thoughtfully he grabbed at them with a determined expression. Not again. With a grimace she sighed. "They'll have to do, I suppose. Anyway, people will be listening to you, not looking."

"Listening?" asked Rapscallion with foreboding. "As in you need someone to entertain people with a song?"

"As if I'd ask you for that," she protested. Rapscallion relaxed. "I need a best man to do the speech and keep the groom upright."

"What? I don't have a speech prepared or anything!" he moaned. His knees had gone weak and the rest of his body had drained of all sensation.

"You'll do fine," she encouraged him.

"But isn't the best man the one who by ancient custom has to marry the bride if the groom doesn't turn up?" he asked desperately, some slight morsel of knowledge creeping with shame back into his mind. (2)

"I may like be an old fashioned girl but don't be silly - there's no chance of that," Gamina declared. "He's very reliable. Now, there's a few things I have to attend to so feel free to mingle." With that she disappeared in a sparkle of light. Somewhere in the distance he could hear a "Oh Dahling..." and he sighed. At least there were some drinks to be had and he availed himself of a tray from a scandalized waiter.

Someone small and bearing a tiny thimble of liquid walked over to him and looked up from ankle height. "Chitter?" it asked conversationally, looking around to emphasize the meaning.

"Mank? Oh, right, yes. There are a lot of people here. Who's getting married then?" he asked, trying to balance the tray.

"Chitter," the Imp replied with a grin.

"Really? You don't say. So, what's your job here? Gamina said you were doing... other things."

"Chitter!" replied Mank, proudly displaying a tiny dog collar around his neck. He grinned as only an Imp could, broadly and with as many teeth as possible.

"Um, have you married anyone before?" Rapscallion asked nervously. Mank shrugged and grinned again before something caught his eye.

"Chitter!" he called to someone in the crowd before waving to Rapscallion. With a swagger in his gait the Imp scurried off to mingle again.

Rapscallion groaned. He could feel the fates conspiring against him already. Gulping down the contents of a couple of glasses he began to meander through the crowds of people pausing only to whisper to one undead corpse. "Pssst... You're leaking." The zombie managed to look embarrassed before moaning loudly. Rapscallion wandered on.

Good feed, he noted, though something was troubling him. There was no sign of the groom. Probably off killing one last dragon for old time's sake or something, he mused. (3) For a moment he stood to one side, listening to the orchestra in the background. It was nicely relaxing and his mind drifted to the task of arranging a speech. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have known this homicidal maniac for..." No - that wouldn't work. Maybe, "I first met this despoiler of ancient ruins when he got me drunk in a bar..." No. He had to think about possible retaliation after the event.

"You ready?" Gamina's voice hissed in his ear. He looked around to her wildly, feeling a growing sense of panic. "Just keep the guy upright, eh?" she added before calling out to the room, "If you'd take your places please?"

With military discipline the assembled guests arranged themselves onto the seats provided, facing the altar where a smirking Mank held court. A pair of servants relieved Rapscallion of his tray and guided him forcefully to the front of the aisle to await the ceremony.

Gamina strolled sedately up to the altar with a trail of Imps in tow, each dressed in a miniature versions of her outfit. The fact that they were performing a can-can did slightly detract from the proceedings, but if a goddess wasn't complaining then he wasn't going to upset the affair. He wasn't too happy that she kept looking at a portable sundial and wore a slightly frowning expression.

"This is going to be interesting," she murmured to him ominously and his heart sank. "Ladies and Gentlemen," she called out to the expectant guests. "I'm afraid there's a slight delay to the proceedings as the groom is currently trying to get the best of a dragon."

"Thought so," mumbled Rapscallion bitterly. "I just knew it." Gamina's eyes unfocused and a strange noise came from her mouth.

"Ah, he seems to be trying to coax the dragon out of its cave," she reported. "Looks like he's not going to be able to make it," she announced sadly.

"Oh no," chorused the crowd in unison. Rapscallion broke out in a cold sweat.

"Chitter!" screamed Mank, stamping his tiny foot in rage.

"Still," announced Gamina brightly, "I've been reminded of an old custom where the Best Man - get back here..." she ordered, grabbing hold of a handy ear. Rapscallion whined desperately and wriggled in pain - gods have strong grips. "...the Best Man has to stand in for the groom."

"Oh, hurrah!" cried the assembled guests. It was hardly a decent wedding without people getting married.

"Quit whimpering man," Gamina scolded Rapscallion as he writhed hopelessly in her grip. He started to protest, but was cut off by Gamina's upraised finger.

"Ah, there may be another change of plan," she announced, concentrating on distant events. "It turns out that he's using the bride as bait for the dragon. Looks like he's reverted to the traditional methods," she sighed. "That throws a spanner in the works," she fumed. "She's not best pleased about this, I can tell you."

"Chitter!" Mank protested.

"Oh dear," chorused the crowd, glancing at the wedding feast with longing.

"Phew! At least we don't have to use that old custom," Rapscallion muttered.

"Actually," Gamina said, scratching her head, "If you think about it logically, we may have a wedding after all." Rapscallion stared at her. "I'm very keen on equality and what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Rapscallion gaped. Food was the last thing on his mind right now. "There's got to be someone on the bride's side who can step in. After all, I'm not just throwing all this food away after I spent seconds creating it all."

"B-B-But who's going to be the equivalent on the bride's side..." Rapscallion stuttered. "That would only be the head brides..." He fainted.

Rapscallion awoke to the sound of chittering in his ears. He wasn't conscious enough to translate it, but it was threatening. A hand dragged him to his feet and he glanced around. "Play nice," Gamina whispered to him. "Marriage isn't all that bad." Her eyes wandered over his clothing critically.

"I thought you were an old-fashioned girl, not a new-fashioned one," he protested.

"You can be both at once, silly," she said, lightly shaking him from side to side.

"I don't understand that," he protested, massaging his jaws back into shape.

"Good," she answered with a little smile. "If you'd like to proceed, Mank?" The Imp clicked his talons and another goddess handed him a massive tome which he opened.

"You'll be sending me the reports, won't you?" Maleah asked Rapscallion with a pointed look. "Not in verse either," she added. "It gives me a headache." With that she stepped back and smiled ominously.

Mank searched down the pages and coughed meaningfully. Rapscallion stared at him and then at Gamina. This couldn't be happening. "Chitter?" asked Mank in a loud voice. Not a single response came from the audience. Rapscallion felt the bars on the cage close with a clang. Mank cleared his throat.

"Chitter?" he asked of Gamina. She smiled prettily at him.

"I do," she replied quickly.

"Chitter?" he asked of Rapscallion.

"Um..." he began to say, sweat pouring down his back to collect in a pool at the base of his spine. "Um..."

"Chitter?" Mank demanded more forcefully.

"Er, look..."

"Chitter?" The room began to swim around Rapscallion's head as his voice came unbidden to his mouth.



"So, that was a short honeymoon," Griselda commented as she placed another mug of ale on the table. Rapscallion stared at it gloomily.

"Yup," he agreed glumly.

"Did she have to get back to work or something?" she asked, trying not to pry. Sometimes you just had to find out what had happened.

"Nope - we didn't go." He took a deep swallow of ale even as she chalked it up on his slate.

"But I saw the announcement and everything this morning," Griselda protested, deliberately marking his drink down twice with truly professional skill.

"Called off at the last minute," he replied sourly. Griselda took a seat opposite him and leant her substantial chin on her hands.

"So what happened?" she asked. "Girls like to know these things." Rapscallion briefly thought about challenging Griselda's claim of femininity, but common sense and his self-preservation instinct kicked in at the last moment.

"Well, I had to raise the matter of inequality of rank and things," he explained morosely. "You see, I own the copyright on a lot of songs and things so in case of a split I wanted to see which ones she'd get. She has a few nice clouds in the heavens she'd like to keep for herself. Pre-nuptial agreement, I think they call it." Griselda nodded for she was more than familiar with the term. She owed two of her chain of inns to legal documents. "She got a scribe in and they ascertained my current standing as compared to hers. They had a good look at my finances."

"And?"

"And they saw my bar tab here. That was it - all finished." He gulped at the ale and peered inside. Already empty he noted with distaste. "There's some things the gods aren't willing to contemplate, it seems." Or be able to pay, a small voice in his mind protested before it was drowned in misery.

"Same again?"

"I'd better, thanks," he mumbled, musing on his current run of luck. He'd breakfasted on alcohol. He'd been threatened - well, cajoled but with ominous overtones and friction. He'd managed to foul up a romantic assignation of one sort or another, although involving a goddess was certainly an eye-opener. An Imp held him in deeper derision than before. To top it all he was deeper in debt.

Business as usual, he decided, leaning back to relax with a contented smile.



Notes:

(1) Some people are not at their best first thing in the morning. Sometimes this state can last for an entire week. [Back]

(2) This is actually true in RL. It is short for "second best man", the chap who had to stand in if the groom failed to arrive - often the groom's brother for obvious reasons. Weddings are expensive affairs, and they weren't going to disappoint the guests back then. [Back]

(3) Yup - that's him. See "Rapscallion and the Bar Bill of Terror" if you need a clue. [Back]




Author's Disclaimer

Gamina asked to be in this one...

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