Megumi No Megamibr As told by Megumibr br Chapter 5 - Weddingbr br The next day was Keiichi's wedding day. When our parents awoke I wasn't there, and the temple felt curiously empty. Keiichi was patiently waiting for them in the kitchen. The table was bare, and no food preparation was br Keiichi greeted them warmly. "Good morning, Keima and Takano. I wasn't sure how long you'd sleep, so I postponed making breakfast."br br Keima looked slightly disappointed. "I'm hungry this morning, and I was hoping for a meal as good as yesterday's."br br Keiichi said with a grin, "In that case, close your eyes and count to three."br br Somewhat perplexed, they complied and were soon startled to see a complete breakfast for three had been silently set out on the table. Each place setting contained someone's favorite foods. They noticed that the room had been redecorated in sunny shades of br "How did you do that?" asked Keima, understandably surprised. "Another of your inventions?"br br Keiichi answered, "Today you're going to see and hear many things which will seem to be beyond comprehension, beyond imagining. It will all be completely true, and nothing will be held back. Don't worry, you'll enjoy every minute of it, and you'll remember this day forever as the most wonderful day of your lives. However, there is a small price-before I answer your question I want you both to promise me that you will not use the word 'impossible' for the next 24 hours."br br Somewhat awed, both parents promised. Keiichi answered Keima's question, "I made breakfast by using magic."br br Keima started to sputter, but Takano laid a hand on his arm and said quietly, "Dear, this may sound strange, but I believe him. Keiichi may sometimes be evasive, but he never lies. Magic may be the simplest explanation for what has just happened."br br Keima calmed down. "I suppose that explains how you can live so well without a job."br br They chatted quietly for the rest of the meal, and then Keiichi waved his hand. The remains of breakfast vanished leaving the kitchen br Takano smiled appreciatively and observed, "I can see that you're going to be a marvelous husband. How long have you been a magician?"br br "About a year. I've been discovering myself and exploring my limits, trying to see how much I can do."br br "If this morning is an example, there's quite a bit that you can do," observed br "Where's Megumi?" asked Keima, "I haven't seen her today."br br "Megumi has an early morning appointment; she's starting her new job. She'll join us soon enough at the wedding."br br Keima said, "Oh, she does have a job. I'd heard that she skipped the recruiting sessions, and I thought she was trying to follow in your jobless footsteps."br br "In a way she is following in my footsteps. You'll see for yourselves soon. She has an important job, but one no company in Japan could offer her." Taking leave of his parents, Keiichi went into his room, phazing ithrough /i the door without opening br Keima turned to Takano and said, "My dear, I think this is going to be an extraordinary day."br br "It already is," she agreed, "Did you notice that he was walking slightly above the floor?"br br Nearly two hours later Keiichi emerged from his room, looking very handsome in his wedding attire. His parents were waiting, dressed in their finest br "My, you do look elegant!" exclaimed br "I'm glad you like it, I made it myself," Keiichi replied. He led his parents outside. "Now the real fun begins," he said. "No matter what happens, don't be afraid. I've done this often before, and it's perfectly safe." Keiichi quietly cast a mild tranquilizing spell on his parents to temporarily soften the shock they would soon feel. Smiling, he took their hands. The three of them effortlessly rose into the br "We're flying!" exclaimed Keima, while Takano could manage only, "Oh!" as she gripped his hand br They soared higher and higher, faster and faster. There was a moment of disorientation as the universe seemed to dissolve into kaleidoscopic fragments and reform in a new shape. They found themselves flying above a bizarre yet beautiful landscape. The space around them was filled with a variety of floating objects with whimsical shapes. Whatever ground there might be below them was obscured by a distant white br "Is that a lake?" asked Takano, pointing to her left. Slightly below them a large, thin body of clear water floated in midair without visible means of support. Swanlike birds, their plumage in various primary colors, swam serenely on the upper and lower surfaces of the br "Look at the tree!" urged Father, pointing to his right. An enormous tree, its trunk dozens of kilometers in diameter and impossibly tall, seemed to fill the whole sky with its green leafy canopy. Its roots were obscured by the white mists far below them. Here and there brightly-lit rectangles could be seen in the bark of the tree trunk. "Are those windows?" he br "Yes, they're windows," answered Keiichi. "The World Tree has become a prime piece of unreal estate. People now live in the trunk," he paused to point upwards, "and work in the branch offices."br br Keima made a choking laugh. Takano giggled. She thought Keiichi always had a wry sense of br Their destination appeared in front of them, a large tetrahedral object with a different structure on each visible surface. They landed in front of a splendid marble-like amphitheater surrounded by a blue lawn and colorful gardens. The scalloped dome of the amphitheater floated without any supports, leaving an unobstructed entrance around the entire perimeter of the br Keima looked around and exclaimed, "This is fantastic. I'm sure there isn't anywhere like this on Earth."br br "Where are we, Keiichi?" asked br Keiichi smiled warmly. "Welcome to Asgard, the home of the gods, which you call 'Heaven.' I gave you a brief tour because I thought you'd enjoy the view."br br "Heaven?" asked Takano in awe, "It could be; it's certainly beautiful enough." She paused, listening. "What's that music I hear playing in the background? It sounds lovely."br br Keiichi identified the tune and laughed. "They're playing 'Stranger in Paradise,' undoubtedly in your honor."br br Takano clasped her hands. "How appropriate."br br Keima looked around. "If this is the home of the gods, then where are they?"br br "Most of them are in the amphitheater waiting for us, but a few are right behind you."br br Takano and Keima turned around. They were surprised to see the three Norns, radiant in their goddess attire with their snow-white wings proudly unfurled, standing in a spot that had been empty a moment before. Our parents gasped as they recognized br Keiichi said, "Keima, Takano, I'm sorry I couldn't introduce you properly earlier. I hope you forgive me." Turning, he presented the first goddess. "This is my bride Urd, Goddess of the Past."br br Takano was impressed by Urd's beauty. "Urd-sama!" she breathed, and br "Welcome to Heaven. I'm so glad you could come," replied Urd br Keima was confused. "Son, I thought you were marrying Belldandy."br br "Indeed I am, Keima," Keiichi replied. Presenting the second goddess, he said, "This is my bride Belldandy, Goddess of the Present."br br Takano bowed and said, "Belldandy-sama!"br br "You should be proud of your son. He's a very special person," said br Father was bewildered. "Keiichi, are you marrying itwo /i goddesses?"br br "No, Keima, I'm marrying ifour /i goddesses. The rules of marriage are quite different in Heaven than they are on Earth." Keima looked dazed. br br Turning to the youngest goddess, Keiichi said, "This is my bride Skuld, Goddess of the Future."br br "I'm pleased to meet you, Skuld-sama," said Mother with another bow. Takano regretted her earlier hostility towards the "foreigners."br br "You're a very fortunate couple," said Skuld, "No other mortals have attended a wedding in Heaven before."br br Keima looked at her closely. "She's a very pretty young woman, but is she old enough to marry?" he br Keiichi explained, "Keima, she's much older than you are. Goddess age can't be judged by appearance because they, and I, are immortal."br br Father thought to himself, "I hope you're man enough to manage four wives."br br "No problem, Keima, I assure you," answered Keiichi, who had picked up the thought. Suddenly there were three more Keiichis, each embracing one of the goddess. You might say he was beside himself with joy. Takano managed an "Eep!" while Keima stood speechless. The extra grooms then disappeared, leaving the customary number of Keiichis br Keiichi proudly announced, "Now I have a special treat for you." He pointed br I made a dramatic entrance, floating down from the sky, radiant in my brand-new goddess attire, with my snow-white wing feathers delicately edged with metallic platinum. My facial markings, which resembled the "apple man" fractal design, were rendered in shades of brown and gold instead of the usual dark br Beaming, Keiichi presented me, "May I present our newest Megami-my bride Megumi, Goddess of Computing."br br Takano was dazzled. "Megumi, is that you? Has my little girl become a goddess?" She looked as if she couldn't decide whether to embrace me or worship me. Keima was speechless again. br br I smiled and greeted them. "Welcome to Heaven, Takano and Keima." I hugged my mother. Takano attempted to return the hug, but her hands ran into my wings. The wings promptly vanished. I explained, "Wings are worn only on formal occasions; they're neither functional nor practical." Takano returned my hug. With a mischievous grin, I added, "You're both fortunate today. Very seldom does one get to be parent of the bride iand /i parent of the groom at the same wedding."br br Leaving Mother's embrace, I rose a few centimeters into the air and kissed Keima. "I always wanted to kiss you without having to stretch up or make you bend down. Now I can." My wings br Father managed to say, "Now I understand what was so funny last night when Takano said that you must be a Megami. She was just a little premature, that's all."br br Takano asked, "How can a brother and sister marry each other? Isn't that a little unusual?"br br Keiichi explained, "There is no incest taboo in Asgard, because most of the gods are close or distant relatives."br br Before they could answer, another figure approached us. Although he appeared elderly, he walked with vigor and dignity and carried himself erect. He had no wings or god-markings, but his aura of power and commanding presence left no possible doubt about his br Keiichi kept a straight face as he said, "My father-in-law will be officiating at the ceremony."br br Takano was overwhelmed. "Kami-sama!" Keima was again speechless-this was definitely more than he could deal with. They both bowed very br Kami-sama assisted the mortal couple to their feet. He disliked genuflecting, but made no mention of it on this happy occaison. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I hope you enjoy your stay with us." It was impossible to doubt his br Then Kami-sama turned to Keiichi, winked, and said, "See you inside, Son." He br Takano said to Keima, "Dear, do you remember the feeling we were getting in the presence of Keiichi and Megumi? Doesn't Kami-sama give you the same feeling?"br br Then she realized the implications of what she had just said. "Oh no! Impo..." she cut off, remembering her promise. Her children felt like Kami-sama! It made no sense, but the evidence was unmistakable. No wonder Keiichi had warned them that they'd encounter things beyond br The wedding party now entered the amphitheater where the ceremony was to be held. An audience of several hundred deities was already in attendance. Our parents were seated in the front row next to Mara, who looked beautiful in her goddess attire and wings. Deiko and Phoko were seated next to Mara, and all three were holding hands. Donner was also in the front row, a short distance br The ceremony itself was brief, moving, and meaningful. We had written the words ourselves because there was no precedent. Instead of "I do," five voices chorused in unison, "We already have, and we always will." We pledged our mutual love in front of Kami-sama and all the gods in Heaven. You can't get any more sincere than that. Keima and Takano, overcome by emotion, wept copious tears of joy and held each other's hands br After the ceremony there was a brief pause for a photo opportunity. Only one picture was taken - gods can get it right the first time. br br As they left the amphitheater our parents were surprised to see the gods stepping onto a rainbow which carried them away swiftly like a giant escalator. A small sign on the side of the rainbow read "Bifrost Rapid Transit Co." Keiichi explained that they were going to the reception hall, and led them onto the rainbow. They followed him somewhat timidly, but found the ride was smooth and effortless. A few minutes later they arrived at their destination and stepped br They were now standing near a large bubble filled with tables and chairs, which served as the banquet hall. A peacock-like bird, which appeared to be composed of living flame, approached them. Keiichi extended his hand and offered the bird some black nuggets. The firebird ate the offering daintily. "Thank you, Sensei," it br "It talks," exclaimed br "Of course he does," answered Keiichi. "Would you like to feed him?"br br Keima didn't hesitate. "Yes, I would." Keiichi gave him some of the black tidbits, and Keima offered them to the bird. "It tickles," he observed as the firebird ate delicately from his hand. The bird bowed when he had finished eating and then turned to br "What were we feeding him?" asked br "Coal, of course," answered Keiichi. "What else would a firebird eat?" He led our parents into the hall, walking through the bubble which offered no br Inside the banquet hall the tables were piled high with every delicacy imaginable. Our parents were seated at the table of honor along with Kami-sama and the wedding party. Many deities came by to offer their good wishes, and a good time was had by all. Keiichi introduced his parents to Mara, calling her his student and friend. Deiko and Phoko also came by to pay their respects. Keima had recovered from his shock and was enjoying the festivities. Takano and Keima asked many questions of Skuld and Belldandy, who had been seated next to br After a while Takano turned to Keiichi. "Son, you mentioned that you're immortal. Are you a god?"br br "No, Takano," he answered, indicating his unmarked forehead. "I'll never grow old or die, and I can't be injured. I seem to be something unique, neither god nor mortal."br br She was puzzled. "If you aren't a god, why are all the gods treating you with such respect? They almost seem to be in awe of you."br br "Takano, I'm their sensei, their teacher and advisor."br br "Oh! I see," she br Keima asked, "Just what do you teach, Son?"br br "I'll begin by teaching advanced magic techniques, but I'll teach a variety of other subjects as needed. I've even heard a rumor that Kami-sama wants to enroll in some of my courses."br br Keima considered this. "You can teach magic to the gods? That's br remarkable. It explains a lot. But what could you teach Kami-sama?" he br "This is just speculation, but I may be able to teach him precision, economy, and efficiency. I have very little power, so my magic must be highly efficient. Kami-sama may have so much power that he never needed to learn fine control or efficient use. It might increase his effectiveness manyfold."br br Takano asked Keiichi, "Why are Megumi's wings decorated? All the other Megami seem to have plain white wings."br br Keiichi turned to me and asked, "Meg-sama, would you like to show them your new license?"br br I produced it and handed it over. It read, "Megumi, Star Class Unlimited Goddess of Computing." Not too shabby!br br I explained, "Kami-sama had insisted upon the metallic trim, which is reserved for Star Class deities. I'd wanted plain wings like the others, but I've been overruled."br br "I see," said Takano, "but what's a Star Class Goddess?"br br Keiichi tried to explain. "There never has been one before. Megumi made history when she took the First Class goddess test while still a mortal, and outscored all the deities by a healthy margin. That was unthinkable. Now that she has goddess-level magical power, she's a hundred times more capable than anyone else in Heaven except Kami-sama."br br Keima asked me why my license was made out to 'Megumi,' since most official documents required a person's full legal br I answered, "Gods and demons have only a given name, so I had to drop my family name. Keiichi is keeping his full name, in part as a sign that he isn't a god."br br Takano asked, "Keiichi, is there anything you can't do?"br br "Many people have been wondering that, including me. I don't think I can create an entire universe as complex as the one we live in, which is just as well because I don't want the responsibility that would entail. I don't want to hurt people if it can possibly be avoided. Other than that, even I don't know what my limits are. Let me show you a little more of what I can do. Look!" He pointed to the table in front of her. Standing next to her plate was an 18 centimeter high br "Oh he's cute," exclaimed Takano, "Can I keep him?"br br The doll-sized figure spoke up, "Sorry, Takano, you can't take me home, but I may bring you a model on my next visit. Now here's someone else you should meet."br br A young woman who had been sitting next to Mara stood up and approached the head table. "Hello, Father, Hello Mother," she said. They didn't recognize her at first. "I'm Megumi's older sister," the woman explained with a warm br Takano thought quickly. Megumi doesn't have an older sister, and this woman has no markings or wings, which means... "You're my daughter, Keiichi!" Takano br By now Keima had lost the capacity to be shocked or overwhelmed, and was just accepting whatever came along with grace and humor. "Pleased to meet you," he said with a slight br Onna-Keiichi gestured at the table in front of Keima. There was a 20-centimeter tall miniature giant panda standing there, eating a tiny joint of bamboo. Keima said, "Let me guess. This is Keiichi too. Can you do Ranma and Akane also?" Father was a manga (comic book) br The panda produced a sign that read, "No problem, Keima," and two more small figures appeared on the table. The male was dressed in red over black, the female wore blue and br Keima looked them over carefully and laughed. "Very good, Son. Now I have a variable and indeterminate number of children, with arbitrary statures, genders, and species. Why does it feel like the most natural thing in the world?"br br Takano addressed onna-Keiichi, "You already have four wives, and may have more in the future. Are you going to marry some nice young men too?"br br Onna-Keiichi replied, "I might, if the right person came along. I've my eye on one possibility already. He needs some time to mature, and I'm waiting to see how he turns out. If Skuld doesn't want him..."br br Mother nodded. "You can afford to be patient; you'll never lack for time or lovers. I'm so happy for you. Yesterday I was pleased when I thought you were marrying one woman. Now I can feel how much all five of you love each other, and I'm sure you'll be very happy together." Takano lowered her voice. "I think this ceremony wasn't really needed, but was arranged for our benefit. There's no way you could have explained all this to us otherwise. Am I right?"br br Onna-Keiichi's eyes twinkled, and she nodded in agreement. "Takano, you always were pretty sharp."br br After the reception was over, Keiichi presented our parents with some special gifts. First, he gave them a blue box containing four gleaming white feathers, one lightly edged with gleaming platinum. Seen up close they had the luster of fine br "These are beautiful!" exclaimed Takano. She was certain that none of her friends had wing feathers from their br Then Keiichi gave them a framed copy of the wedding photograph. It showed Keiichi in the center, flanked by a parent and two brides on each side, with Kami-sama in the background smiling br "These are wonderful, precious gifts, but we can't display them. How could we possibly explain these to anyone else?" asked br "Don't worry," answered Keiichi. "They're protected by a magic spell. Anyone who doesn't know the truth will see only bird feathers and a Morisato family portrait. I hope you can explain the feathers without much difficulty."br br He then gave them a card imprinted with a mailing address and a telephone number. "You'll be able to call us at this number, or send us mail at this address" he br "That's one long distance phone call!" exclaimed Keima with a br "You won't have to pay for a call, Keima, Heaven will pick up the charges."br br After a final round of thanks and best wishes, Keiichi returned his parents to the br That is the true story of how I became a goddess. The rest is history. Keiichi lost no time in beginning the slow and careful remodeling of Asgard, Earth, and Hell. I eventually bore a son by Kami-sama. Onna-Keiichi bore a daughter by the same father at the same time, so that my boy would have a playmate. The experience led him to suggest a few minor anatomical adjustments to make childbirth less of an ordeal, and billions of women have benefited. It's been an interesting life for all of us, and I wouldn't have had it any other hr br br br Authors Note: C & C welcome." Be gentle it's only my second time. I'd like to acknowledge the following fanfic authors, whose work has entertained and inspired me: Ed Sharpe for "No Mere Mortal," Brett Handy for "Oh My God!" Sean Gaffney for "Proposal/Wedding/Honeymoon," and Fred Herriot for "A Remarkable Destiny."br br I have to confess. I didn't really 'write' this story; I sort of 'transcribed' it. Think of it as one of those "as-told-to" autobiographies. My first fanfic, Keiichi's Magic Trick, came to me fully formed and complete and wouldn't let go of me until I had written it down. I had never imagined that I would or could write fiction. The experience left me curious-could I write a story under my own power the way ordinary people do? I wanted to find br I began by inviting the characters into my skull to discuss doing a sequel. Not only did they accept, they returned my hospitality by inviting me to visit them while they lived it. I was ithere /i during Keiichi's flying lesson, I was ithere /i when Belldandy projected the wedding scene, I was ithere /i during that 'facts-of-life' talk and several other scenes. You may be able to tell which ones they are if you read carefully. Most of the other scenes I got second-hand from one or more of the characters. I was inot /i invited to the br In a small number of cases I've changed the dialog slightly in an effort to make a smoother narrative. For example, Belldandy's iexact /i words were: "Kei-chan, I don't want to marry you unless you promise to be unfaithful to me." I was just as surprised as Keiichi was when she said this. But she had just said that they were already married, so I changed her wording a bit for ease of reading. Belldandy didn't br There are also some scenes that had to be cut. In one, Keiichi waxes lyrical about how different it is to make love to each of his wives. Belldandy is like a glass harmonica-a gentle touch brings forth a pure note of pleasure that quickly builds. Urd is like a percussion instrument, say an amplified drum set. You have to work at it, but you get a lot for your effort. Skuld is like a synth, endlessly versatile. Megumi is like a concertina, adaptable and flexible, well suited to lively tempos, and she has to be squeezed now and then. I asked Keiichi if this made him feel like a bandleader or something. Unfortunately, I can't repeat his reply here, but it contained the word "baton."br br Finally, It wasn't my idea to portray Keiichi as comparable to Kami-sama. Keiichi protested that it wasn't his idea either, but the goddesses were br M.B. 4/7/98. Slightly Revised br