Home > Uncategorized > Day Two Hundred and Thirty-one: Objection

Day Two Hundred and Thirty-one: Objection

Father Sapienza stood before his congregation and beamed. The long, pale scar that ran down the side of his face and stood out against his dark skin gave him a fierceness that he couldn’t totally hide from, but on this occasion, in the middle of a wedding as lavish as any, he came close.

Petra Giovanni was resplendent in a gown that had been passed to her through three generations. It shimmered brightly in the late morning sunlight that beamed in through the great stained-glass windows, the white silken threads throwing off the oranges and greens and reds that came in with the sun. She stood before him, confident and strong and unafraid, her pale green eyes locked on the young man who would soon be her husband.

In the tuxedo that her father had bought for him, Anthony Rockhill looked more like a grown man than he ever had. He’d been in university far longer than he’d intended to – he’d majored in history because he couldn’t think of anything better to study. That major had turned into a Master’s when he discovered a love of the Middle Ages, and that finally blossomed into a Doctorate in Medieval economic history. It was not a path to wealth or even to middle-class comfort, but they had endured together all the same. When he’d proposed to Petra, she accepted instantly. And what his daughter wanted, Otto Giovanni gave her. From his seat in the front row. he looked nearly as happy as his daughter and almost as weepy as his wife.

Father Sapienza couldn’t have been happier. He looked past the couple and out at the audience that had gathered in his small Colonial church. “The vows that these two young people are prepared to take are some of the most serious that any may say. They will promise a lifetime together, no matter the trials and temptations. No matter how hard it may become.” He looked from Petra to Anthony, who didn’t even seem to notice that he was there.

“It is at this point that I ask the question that so many soap opera writers live for.” He flashed his bright white grin. “Let’s hope that we don’t have any of that here today.” He cleared his throat and made his face as serious as he could, under the circumstances. “If there is anyone here who knows a reason why these two should not be married, speak out now or forever hold your peace.”

The whole church seemed to shudder as something pounded on the big oak front door. Everyone turned to look, and a few people got up from their seats. For the first time during the ceremony, Petra and Anthony looked at something besides one another.

There was another thunderous pounding on the door, and then they flew open, coming off their hinges and bouncing off the floor. The figure silhouetted in the doorway was huge. His shoulders were nearly as wide as he was tall, and the sun glinted off them. His arms nearly reached his knees, and ended in gauntleted fists the size of his head. He took one step into the church and then another, and his footfalls rang on the floor. As he approached the front of the church, people started to move away, crowding the far ends of the pews with quiet panic.

Now that he was inside, he was easier to see. The man – if that is what he was – looked more like an armored gorilla. He was larger than anyone had seen before, his whole body wrapped in leather and metal armor that looked like it had been made by hand. It was marked with an intricate, tricorn brand on the shoulders and chest, a decoration that looked almost Celtic in its intricacy. The helmet that he wore bore the same mark, on an upswept crest that turned to short horns on the sides. He didn’t look left or right as he walked, but continued in a straight line towards the bride and groom.

Otto Giovanni stepped into the aisle, putting his short, barrel-chested body in the path of the intruder. “I don’t know who you think you are, buddy, but you can’t -”

The armored figure swept him out of the way, knocking him through a crowd that was starting to fall prey to unreasoning panic.

Father Sapienza stepped in front of them and crossed his arms over his broad chest. He planted his feet and called up the same implacable glare that he’d used to face down half a dozen gangbangers a year ago who thought that a priest would be an easy mark.

Though he made sure not to let it show on his face, the priest was surprised to see the armored man stop in front of him. It looked at him through the mirrored lenses in its helmet, and Sapienza hoped that he looked as fierce as he felt. “What the hell,” he said, “do you think you’re doing?”

The thing cocked its head at him, first one way and then the other. It flexed great fists, but didn’t make any other move. Then it spoke, and the noise it made was like nothing Sapienza had ever heard before. It was like what a canary might sound like, if you lowered its pitch a few octaves and mixed in the howl of a hyena. It sounded gutteral and nasal at the same time, and it made his skin crawl.

When the thing was finished speaking – or whatever it was that it had been doing – Sapienza opened his mouth to speak. Before he could do so, however, Petra pushed past him. “What do you mean you don’t approve?” she said.

Everyone’s attention shifted instantly, and even Petra seemed surprised that she had said anything. For a moment, she stared at the intruder, who remained just as impassive has he had before. Anthony was the first to break the silence.

“Petra? Honey?” He stepped up next to her, and the armored thing’s helmet swiveled to look at him. “Petra, what’s going on?”

She didn’t take her eyes off the intruder. “You heard what he said, Anthony,” she said. “He doesn’t think you’re good enough to marry me.”

Anthony glanced from her to the intruder and back to her again. “Um. Honey,” he said. “Two things.” He put an arm around her shoulders and flinched when the helmeted thing actually started to growl at him. “Um.” To his credit, however, he didn’t move it. “Two things. First of all – how do you know what he’s saying?”

She blinked at him. “You don’t know?” she said. He just shook his head. “Really?”

“Really, hon.”

Petra’s brow furrowed, but she didn’t say anything else.

“Second, honey. Sweetie. Petra.” Anthony cleared his throat. “Who the hell is this guy?”

Petra didn’t have a chance to answer. The figure raised his hands and gripped the sides of his helmet. There was a sharp hiss and the puff of escaping gasses from the side, and the room filled with a smell that was not unlike the smell of rain on hot ground. He twisted the helmet sharply one way, then the other, and then lifted it off his head.

Under the helmet, his features were delicate. Almost infant-like. He had a small face, dominated by two large eyes, pale green. His skin was lustrous and white, with delicate red traceries of veins underneath that darkened moments after his helmet came off.

His eyes flicked across the faces of the people in front of him. They narrowed as he took in Sapienza. His lips twisted in a sneer when he looked at Anthony. And when they finally settled on Petra, his face seemed to soften and glow with what could only be called love.

“I am her father,” the man said, in a voice that was nothing like the strange keening they’d heard earlier. “And I have come to bring her home.”

The silence in the church was absolute for a long moment. No one made a noise.

Until Otto Giovanni passed out.

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