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Scenes On A Wedding Day 5
I wrote this in response to aldersprig's prompt "The night after the wedding."  It follows on from Scenes On A Wedding Day 4.

“So, where are we going?”  Archduke Dionysus was holding hands with his wife in the back of the official car while the chief bridesmaid, the senior groomsman and an interpreter sat opposite them.  There were a driver and a security man in the front of the car.  The interpreter was along because the chief bridesmaid had only a few words of Terrencian and the rest of them in the back of the car spoke about that much of the local language.  In fact, the best language the four of them had in common was Russkiy but none of them spoke it fluently, unless the senior groomsman was holding out on them.

“To propitiate the lesser gods on behalf of the bride and groom.”  The chief bridesmaid spoke directly to Dionysus, a fact which impressed him.  He had no idea what she did for a living but the bride’s friend with a conjunction for a given name handled the etiquette of needing to rely on a translator with an ease too many people he dealt with lacked.  “It’s one of the duties of the best man and the chief bridesmaid in our culture.”

“What are the lesser gods and how are you going to propitiate them?”  That was the Archduke’s wife, Countess Francesca.

“The lesser gods are what’s left of the religion we had before the Church arrived up here,” explained the chief bridesmaid, And.  “They’re the little gods who look after roads and rivers, that sort of thing.  We propitiate them by giving them wedding cake,” she indicated the napkin wrapped parcels in the flat basket on her lap.

“I thought the Church would have put a stop to that sort of thing,” went on Countess Francesca with a puzzled expression.

“They tried to, of course,” agreed And, “but the second bishop, Bishop Ioannes, tried to tell King Ragnar that his only heir was the son of his marriage, which would have disinherited his six older, acknowledged sons.  Then the bishop made the mistake of saying the boy would automatically be the next king which angered all the other Ruhtigs because the King was elected in those days, not inherited.  The Church had to concede ground or get kicked out of the country in a vicious fashion.  That incident is why we do church differently to other people.”

“It sounds very political,” commented Archduke Dionysus.

“Oh, it was,” agreed And, “and it has been every time it’s come up since.”  She looked out the window as the car came to a stop.  “Ah, we’re here.”  She waited for the security man to open the door and then she led the other four out of the car.

They found themselves on a street corner.  There were trees planted down the street on their right but not the one on their left.  The amount of street lighting said that the neighbourhood didn’t see much night time pedestrian traffic.  The street names were marked on a sign post at the corner and the buildings around the intersection were dark.

“Why here?”  That was the senior groomsman who’d taken a quick look around and didn’t seem to like what he saw.

“Rune let me pick where to do this because she doesn’t have a place that’s particularly significant to her and this is where I was found.  This is where I come from,” And pointed at the sign post, “and that’s where I get my fancy-sounding, double-barrelled surname from.”

“You were abandoned?”  Countess Francesca was horrified.

“Yes,” agreed And, “before I was found.  Let’s do this.  One piece for the little gods.”  She walked to the corner of the building and set down a wrapped piece of cake up against the brick.  “The rest…”  She turned and walked, heedlessly and carelessly in the opinion of at least two of the men in the group, towards two homeless men camped at opposite ends of a loading dock door.

“I should go with her,” said the senior groomsman and he broke into a lope to catch up with her.

Archduke Dionysus asked the translator, “What’s she saying?”

“Excuse me sir, one of my friends got married today.  Would you like a piece of wedding cake?”  The translator’s expression didn’t change.

“But why?”  Countess Francesca asked as And moved on to the second man.

“It came out of feeding the beggars at the kitchen door on the trenchers and other remains of the wedding feast,” the translator was smiling now.  “These days it’s traditional to hand out twelve pieces of cake that have a token wrapped up with them.  In this case the token can be redeemed at any bank, but usually it’s for a meal at a café or a night in a hotel.”

“So this is charity?”  Archduke Dionysus seemed more comfortable with that.

“It’s part of gaining the little gods’ grace and favour for the bride and groom, yes,” agreed the translator.  Down the street And had moved on to an alley mouth, shadowed by the senior groomsman.  She handed out three more pieces of cake, listened to something one of the men said and then walked over to a parked car to knock on the window.  Four pieces of cake went in through the window.  And looked around, saw three men heading towards her from another alley across the road and met them halfway.  Having handed out all the cake, she started back to the car and the archducal couple.  The senior groomsman fell into step beside her and started talking.

When they returned to the others it became clear that he had resorted to Russkiy to express his feelings on the subject of her behaviour.  Archduke Dionysus thought they both had better accents and vocabulary than they had been able to demonstrate earlier when they’d been worried about being correct and polite.  And sounded like a proletary from the northern soviets while the senior groomsman had the soviet soldier’s accent.

You could have at least told us what you were doing,” he was saying.

So you could stop me?  That would have defeated the purpose of this trip, wouldn’t it? And was swinging the empty basket vigorously.

So we could keep you and the Countess safe,” he said firmly back.

I don’t need keeping safe,” she snapped back.  I know what I’m doing, and here I was thinking I might have walked you back to your hotel after the car drops us off.”

I’m not the one who needs protection.  It would make more sense for me to walk you home.”  That reply was stiff.

But I’m the one who knows where your hotel is compared to everything else,” she retorted.  I’m sure that with your three guns and whatever it is down the back of your neck, we’d be perfectly safe, even on the streets of the Terrencian capital.”

My three guns?  He looked at her sharply.

We grew up in an orphanage three blocks in that direction,” And pointed.  I could pick when someone was carrying a weapon by the time I was thirteen.  If you behave and you’re nice to me, I might show you where I carry my knife.


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Heeheehee. I wonder if he thinks she's guessing or if she missed a gun or two somewhere.

I think she's picked them.

He is, afterall, a special forces soldier spending his day next to two unarmed, Imperial and Royal Archdukes. I suspect Terrencian security has tapped him and the other groomsmen for the day... :) And three seems a reasonable number; his and his holdout weapon and one for Franz.

What, no emergency boot spring-loaded spike launcher? :) Could be just the province of bad spy movies.

Maybe he's got the spike launcher and rappelling kit at the back of his neck instead of in his boot? :)

"You're looking a little stiff in the neck today." >_>

After a day of that stuff hanging off his neck he would be, wouldn't he?

The spike launcher would spoil the hang of his beautiful suit.

Just a stiletto, then? Or is that the holdout gun?

Stiletto or other suitable blade. The holdout's on an ankle.

At a wedding? Everyone knows how those things can go off if you just look at them wrong! :)

I like And. And the translator.

Is the senior groomsman the earlier mentioned Berthold, or one of Franz's other squad mates?

And now I wonder just how enthusiastically the intelligence service recruited from that orphanage ...

One of the other squad mates.

I don't think And is in intelligence but I think she grew up in a tough neighbourhood and isn't a shrinking violet.

But she speaks solid Russkiy with a distinct regional & class accent? I'd assumed that meant undercover work at some point. <chews on alternate interpretations>

Creaky but idiomatic Russkiy that sounds like it comes from the area just over their border. A combination of where her pronunciation defaults to from her own language and what she was taught in school.

Maybe she works for a company that does business over the border? This is just a few years after their equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I think I have lost track of how the nations in this world map to ours. :-/

The Terrencians are pretty much an expanded Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Hellascene is Greece and what is left of the satrapies is Turkey/old Ottoman Empire.
Cadlera is the United Kingdom with rather less North Sea (lower sea levels).
Mayrah is a floating city over the salt marshes south of Marsailles, in our world it would be over the Mediterranean, and is essentially French.
The soviets are most of European Russia, though I'm not sure how far east they go.
Rune's country is in Northern European Russia with a reduced sea level.
The Kongo Empire is in West Africa with it's southern extent somewhere in Nambibia.

Nothing else is set at the moment, I think.

Thank you! Does Rune's home country have a name?

Not yet. It could be some sort of Norse/Russian/Finnish hybrid but I have no idea what.

The Doctor notes:
Marsailles → Marseilles
Nambibia → Namibia

Hoo boy. Another world whose geography I better refrain from exploring...

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