This one's for Henix Aurorus. If you're reading this, I hate that your one comment made me do this. :D
Ending: Second Edition.
I had a guest lately from some place called the "Human Village". I didn't recognize it right away, but it was the same human village mentioned in Death Record #387 (Delivery's Here, cross-reference). Apparently, there are very few Human Villages that are said with capitals. In any case, we chatted quite well, discussing current events from his home, but then something piqued my interest.
"There's a wedding ceremony tomorrow, which I would have gone to if I was alive." He said.
"Free food?" I asked with a grin.
"No, it wasn't that." He said, returning my smile, and leaned in as if to tell me a story. "It wasn't like anything I'd ever seen before, and everybody went." He said. "There were outsiders, and they were tall!" He said. "Back in my day I was considered tall, about six feet, but the shortest of them was easily that high!"
"A weird wedding. With tall guests." I repeated. Things like that weren't uncommon in the wider world, but with the limited information I had on Gensokyo a wedding of any kind seemed like an absolute farce. "Tell me more about it."
"They had all sorts of things you didn't need. They put up a tent and brought in lots of furniture." He said. "Long wooden chairs, a table made out of white stone, golden cups and something they called the 'host'." My guest said, making quotation marks in the air. That surprised me, as he was a farmer from what sounded like rural Japan before Commodore Perry.
Then again, Gensokyo's Death Records had long ago been established as the most comical and the most outlandish of them all. Torture, sick cultures of cannibalism, hedonism, excess, corrupt facist governments, religious facist governments, democracies, worlds inhabited by only a few ethereal beings after the end of their sentient species, I had seen them all.
But even with all that, Gensokyo's Death Records were absolutely unique. They were a strange blend of humor and total stupidity, along with superpowers given almost willy-nilly to anyone who was actually there.
"Hmm…" I said. "So how did you know it was a wedding?"
"I asked Keine-sensei and she told me it was a wedding." He said. "Apparently, it's a custom in the outside world to have that kind of wedding."
I nodded and took this in. "I do know quite a bit about that kind of wedding ceremony, so if you'd like me to talk about it, then we can keep going."
"No thanks." He said. "Strange things happen in Gensokyo all the time, so it's best not to pry too much, even if they're interesting."
"A prudent decision." I said. Considering what I had heard from the other Death Records of Gensokyo, abnormality was the norm, and for someone like him, it would be preferable to keep their head down and put food on the table.
Not so for me.
"Well, I'm off." He said. "Thanks for listening."
"Every story interests me." I said. "Godspeed."
He stepped through the purple portal I guarded, the purple portal that renewed life. I turned and watched his back be swallowed by the swirling vortex as I wondered about the wedding.
It's a Western wedding. With outside guests. There's only one Western connection I know of in all of Gensokyo.
"So I guess I'll have to do some cross-referencing again." I said. "Death Record #395, possible cross-reference with number 388." I called out to nobody in particular. I wondered for a second if living here had made me absolutely crazy.
Then I decided that I was already crazy. I walked up to the purple vortex, that thing that took the souls of the deceased and returned them to the stream of life.
But today I had a different purpose for it.
"I'll be taking my vacation now. Allow me entrance to Gensokyo. I am investigating the possibility of clearing up the story of Death Record #388, which is, as of now, incomplete." I spoke to the portal as if speaking to a superior.
Now, this wasn't me being crazy. Rather, it was something that the last caretaker of the Death Record had kindly left behind for me, that I myself could use the portal to clear up a story rather than just to have myself sent off. It had to be on business, however, no taking trips just for kicks or to get something. The point was to be able to have a complete story, or to validate a Death Record.
I had an aerial view, and I could see a large tent set up in a field, and a lake with a western mansion off to the right. The location was pretty good, as any guests from anywhere could easily find the large white tent against the rolling green plains. I nodded to myself, as if I was someone else.
"Let's go." I said. The portal had acquiesced to my request, and I stepped forward.
Falling into another world, another time, another place. From my position between the parallel lines of the world, I junction myself to another.
Return. Darkness. Inanimateness. Displacement.
Bring me back to life.
The dark shard appeared again. A rip in reality, something that was neither here nor there had presented itself on the plains far from the wedding.
For all intents and purposes, it was invisible unless looked at, inaudible unless listened for, and could not be felt unless touched. It was something that should not exist, something undetectable by any sense that existed, or those who the user does not wish to see them.
And forward from this black gap stepped a boy, not even out of his teens. Dressed in a casual shirt and denim pants, the boy who managed the Annals of the End, the Death Record, had appeared.
"Let's finish this story, then." He said, stalking off into the tent.
There was no need to be sneaky, as he could invoke his nonexistent nature and just strut in. Nobody would notice him. If he slapped someone in the face they would only feel it, they wouldn't see him, they wouldn't hear him.
But he somehow felt that it was unsporting, so as a game, he decided to sneak in the back anyway. He looked down on himself as he tried to sneak forward.
"Oh damn, I'm not dressed." The boy said, and snapped his fingers. Instantly he was in a three-piece suit, with a bright yellow tie.
"There we go." He said, before continuing his walk. The ceremony was already under way.
"Hope there aren't any guards." I said to myself as I stalked forward.
I snuck into the back without much commotion. After all, the ceremony was already well under way.
The first thing I noticed was that the left side was far more populated than the right side, and that the people on the left side were far taller than the ones on the right. The ones on the right were all girls, and most of them probably hadn't even finished puberty yet.
Friends of the bride and friends of the groom. I thought, surveying the two groups. I refocused my vision, attempting to see to the front.
There they were, the little vampire in pink and the silver-haired maid in blue, joined by the purple wizard and her assistant. The kung-fu gate guardian was there as well, probably using her chi to keep her awake.
I thought so. So that's how it ended. I looked over to the door, which had been thrown open with much aplomb.
If I was a painter or an artist myself, I would have made a picture. Not being possessed of either of those gifts, however, I have to try to paint with words.
Framed by the sun, they stepped forward. The groom, slightly short and squat for his age, but with the effect of the slimming black suit and his broad, easy smile, he looked like a man already. The way he was dolled up accentuated this, keeping his somewhat childish features but at the same time making it clear that he was grown up now, and that he was ready to face the world. He strode, although a little nervous in his steps, with an aura of confidence. His left arm stayed at his side, while his right arm was linked to another one.
A smaller, thinner one, yet one that I knew was far more powerful than his own. Despite this, however, it seemed equally fragile, to crave for the other arm like a person might crave sweets. Moving upwards from the arm, it was attached to a small body, but not much smaller than the groom's. She could probably still do that old romantic gesture of burying one's face in the other's chest, but she wasn't much taller than that. Her wedding dress was huge, as in huge on her, swelling her lower body to what was probably thrice normal size. The veil was placed over her, but I could still see the red eyes and blonde hair under the translucent cloth, not to mention the teeth shining through, happy as can be, smiling wide. For all the ridiculousness of having someone who looked fourteen dolled up like a woman, there was something that I could not deny.
On this day, and probably only on this day alone, it looked like the marriage between a prince and a princess.
I smiled, probably as wide as any of the guests and maybe wider, as I watched them solemnly parade down the red carpet, down the aisle that would decide their future. They walked slowly, without a rush, as if savouring their time together.
Eventually, though, they reached the altar. The priest, a tall man with a bald head and an easy smile, spoke to the whole congregation with his voice, as European priests once did. I noticed that his chaplain, though, was distinctly shorter than him, and with Japanese features.
Translator. I thought, and I was right. As the priest recited the vows for them both, he paused after each line, to allow the translator to give the message to those not versed in German.
I couldn't understand a word of it, but I knew what would happen next. As if for dramatic effect, both the priest and the translator, also a priest from his robes and stole, announced it in English.
"You may now kiss the bride!", with which Levant did. He didn't fumble it this time.
Hooting, cheering, clapping, celebration. I cheered from my pew in the back, standing on the seat and hooting my approval. It was beautiful to watch, and something that I had missed in my time alone at the Death Record.
But before the cheering had ended, I had already left. My job was done; there was no place for me there. I left the tent and looked to my left.
A faceless man, a spirit, standing there with his arms crossed over his chest, his right hand holding an M1911A1 and his left holding a tarot card. He wore a black jacket and covered his face with a mask that had the Japanese character for "evil" on it, or "aku".
"Keep them safe." I said, patting his shoulder. He did not acknowledge as I returned to my world.
I am sure that this is not the end; that this is only the beginning for this couple's adventures.
However, my duty as keeper of the Death Record ends here. After all, this started with Levant as a fantasy.
But now, Levant has become reality. His death as just a fantasy is today.
I will record the rest of his story when he dies in reality.
Death Record #388
The Scarlet Queen and the Rose Cross.
~ Xylouris Trigger