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The Red King's Wedding Night

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"There behind soft curtains,
You lie powerless in your bridegroom's arms.
Intoxicated by his kisses,
You lie languid and conquered..."

Feronus, one of the Merovingian's werewolves, pricked up his ears at the voice and crept around the end of a row of yew bushes in the Chateau's outer gardens. Overhead, the moon glowed, so deep a shade of orange, it looked nearly as red as blood. Waves of color flowed across the sky, setting it ablaze, without obliterating the moonlight. The reedy tenor voice singing nearby added to the jumpy feeling which the lights in the sky were churning up in him.

"What's that?!" he demanded, annoyed.

The singing stopped as that pale-haired fellow who worked as the Merovingian's valet came around the other end of the hedges, his gait a little uncertain, which probably had something to do with the champagne bottle he carried in one gloved hand.

"I b'lieve it's from the opera Turandot, by Puccini," the Floodwatchman replied, a tipsy grin crossing his usually deadpan face.

"Eh, you'd know more about fancy stuff like that, I'm just one of the watchdogs," Feronus said. "What's got you happy, besides the wine?"

"Our master bade us make merry as we each saw fit," said a calm voice come from a perch on top of the stone wall which ran parallel to the yew hedge. Both Exiles looked up to find Seraph, the boss's wingless angel keeping watch from atop the wall.

"So how are you gettin' happy?" Feronus asked.

"By doing what I was made to do: protecting that which matters most," Seraph replied.

"Ain't much of a pleasure, if you ask me, since that's whatcha do th' rest of the time," Feronus said, shivering as a curtain of violet light passed across the sky. "And could someone tell me why the moon turned that wierd red color, and why the sky's all blinkin'-light colors?"

"The aurorae?" the Floodwatchman asked, stifling an unseemly hiccup as he steadied himself on the sill of a nook in the wall.

"Whatever they are."

"Ah, he's letting his inner disposition affect the outer climate of this subdimension," the Floodwatchman replied.

Feronus scratched his ear. "Plain English?"

"He has placed those lights in the heavens as a sign of how much he delights in his bride's company. The red moonlight reflects their love for each other," Seraph replied, patiently.

"Oh, I get it now. Must be great, bein' powerful enough to make the sky go all blinkin'-colors, just to show you're happy with the gal you just married. I still don't get the red moon."

"He's the Red King, conjoined to the White Queen; perhaps their alchemy will bring forth the Elixir our kind needs," the Floodwatchman said.

Feronus glared at the boss's manservant. Turning to Seraph, he asked, "What's he babbling about?"

The wingless angel turned his gaze to the windows above them. A lamp glowed behind the red curtains covering one of the panes, forming a mirror-image of the red light in the sky. "Perhaps they shall create the child who will one day supplant the Architect and rule the Matrix as it should be."

"Can programs do that? I thought the ol' Archie fixed it so we all fire blanks?" Feronus asked.

"Our master is seeking out the means to accomplish this goal," Seraph replied.

"Tho' right now, he's probably seeking out a Kama Sutra position they haven't tried yet," the Floodwatchman said, snickering. He paused, as if puzzled at his own words. "Did I just say that?"

"Yes, you did, Whitey," Feronus said. "Hey, is it true he ain't had no one else since he took up with the gal what's his new missis?"

"Yes, he kept himself chaste for her," Seraph said.

"I beg to differ," the Floodwatchman cut in. "He's had his moments of weakness. I should know: I'm the one who opens the curtains in his bedchamber each morning, the one who sees if the other pillow on his bed is dented, or if his companion of the night has left his side yet. I'll give him this much credit: in the past, what is it since he started courting her, ten years? In that time, you could count his indiscretions on one hand. Not all of them, I might add, were of the fair sex."

"The wine's loosened *your* tongue, eh?" Feronus teased.

"That and the moonlight have gone to my head," the Floodwatchman said. He pulled himself up from his perch. "You to your pleasures, I to mine."

"Helpin' the kitchen girls with the dishes, eh?" Feronus teased.

"A true gentleman never reveals the names or notions of whom he kisses," the Floodwatchman replied and headed back inside, his gait weaving slightly.

Above, the curtains of color grew less brilliant and less frequent, but the moon still glowed its deep shade.

"They must be settling down," Feronus said.

"Let us hope the Floodwatchman spoke rightly when he spoke of their child yet to come," Seraph said.

"Oh? The Fortuneteller make any prognosti-whatchamacall'ems?"

"I accompanied the Lady Persephone when she approached her: The Oracle told her that the path she chose would not be a smooth as she, Persephone, had hoped it to be."

"She say why?"

"The Oracle said there were choices she could not see past."

"Well, you know what the boss says about choice. Not that I'm anywhere near an expert on that philosophic mumbo-jumbo he likes chit-chatting with people about," Feronus said.

"Let us hope this couple makes the wisest choices."

"You know more about that than I do," Feronus said, moving on.

Seraph remained seated on his perch on the wall, watching the windows of his master's chamber. The lamp burned low and went out, leaving only the moonlight...