Part 1. The Bruiser Bride
A MOUNTAIN OF IVORY cow suede eclipsed the hapless vestibule in the Black Temple’s entrance, casting a long, great shadow across the loaded pews. There it paused, waiting for its big entrance. The bride.
“By Grimnir…” Madam Spew mouthed as soon as her enormous croaker eyes adjusted to the wave of dark. What in shades was she? Human? Madam Spew squinted. Mutant? The result of eons of inbreeding? All three? By the Dark Lord, she was even more repulsive than the groom.
The groom. Madam Spew turned to him. He who stood before the Bleak Altar, gawking at his bride to be. Guffawing silently. Like an idiot. Because he was an idiot. These Sloddergumpians. The groom continued giggling. Drooling. Until Madam Spew leaned over the altar and backhanded him — SMACK! — across the face.
He settled then. A little…
The music commenced with the bride’s first step down the aisle. Her particular form of step being more of a spastic hobble. CLANK! … THUMP! … CLANK! … THUMP! All eyes were riveted to her as she fought her way down the aisle, tearing swathes in the carpeting with her left leg, the foot of which ended in a rusted garden rake. And her face…
“Thank the Craven Lord for veils…” Madam Spew muttered. But not loudly. She was mean and cruel, and maybe even stupid, but she was a survivor. And croakers weren’t overly popular in these parts. Or any parts, really.
The groom’s tongue hung dripping like an engorged leech as he stared at the scandalous amounts of ankle and rake tine peeking from beneath his bride-to-be’s gown. And as his eyes clomb skyward to her continental bosom, defying gravity with the aid of taut cow-udder suede, erect cow-teats jiggling intact, he nearly fainted.
The best man, Stymie, the groom’s own brother, stood sullen at his side, toothless, gumming at the last link of a sausage chain. And he’s the good looking one…
Madam Spew horked a rocket of phlegm behind the Bleak Altar. She averted her eyes from the groom and his burlap sack-jacket, so named either for its construction material or what the rips exposed through it.
By Grimnir! What had she done to warrant this assignment? Had she killed somebody? Maimed somebody? Of import? Ten days’ stomp west through the Craw. Not even a useless meat-shield to stand between her and whatever the swamp vomited up to eat her. To perform nuptials because the resident geezer Wrackolyte, rather than continue his appointment here, had opted to saw off his own head. Was that even possible…? A close look at the mutants fouling the pews told Madam Spew the geezer had the right idea.
CLANK! … THUMP! … CLANK! … THUMP!
The bride neared the altar—
Madam Spew stifled a giggle. No — no… Compose thyself… Calm… Don’t look up…
“Here Cometh Yon Bride” was rendered with surprising skill. Surprising because the two-man band rendered it wholly through the arts of jug blowing and armpit farts, though considering the ensuing stench it is possible not only armpits were involved. As the bride reached the altar, the song ended upon a long and inspiring note of high-pitched flatulation. A surreal silence followed…
“Ahem…” Madam Spew stared at the ceiling, the only safe place. Tears oozed from the corners of her crimson eyes. Stifled giggles bucked her blubberous frame. “Well now,” she said, fighting for the words to start the nuptials. Any words, really, any that wouldn’t get her killed, “that … certainly … was, now … wasn’t it?” Madam Spew raised an eyebrow. “Eh?”
The bride stood bawling next to her groom.
Tears of joy?
Madam Spew glanced at the groom, middle finger lodged wriggling up to the knuckle — the second knuckle — in his left ear. And it was a middle finger because he only had three. On each hand.
Possibly not tears of joy…
Madam Spew adjusted her purple wig and bone tiara and forced herself to look upon the couple, and to do so without laughing. To focus. FOCUS! She had to get through this. Just another test she must endure at the promise of advancement. Advancement brought power. Power brought better assignments and meat-shields to escort her through swamps. And then more power. “Let’s kill this quick, okay?” she said.
Crickets chirped. Followed by blank stares.
“We are gathered here today to bind these two…”
She galloped through the ceremony like a rabid deer and soon approached the end. This was it. The big finish. She had made it. Deep breath. Go. “Lusty Weggins, do you take Cornmelia to be your woefully dreaded wife?”
Lusty giggled and guffawed and wiped his brown waxy finger on his bride’s dress in a repulsively affectionate manner.
Cornmelia nearly vomited.
Madam Spew just stared at Lusty, awaiting an answer. Tapping her foot upon the altar. Staring soon evolved into murderous glaring.
“Well, cretin?” Madam Spew muttered from the corner of her prodigious maw. “Yes? No?”
A grumble rumbled through in the audience.
“He can’t talk,” Cornmelia sobbed as she leaned forward. “He were born with limp-tongue. He wrote ‘yes’ … on my gown … in earwax.” Her voice broke, spluttering on. It would probably continue on for about fifty years or so, barring the blissful intervention of a boil plague, or suicide, murder.
“Right.” Maintain. Carry on. “And do you, Cornmelia, take this … this … THIS? To be your woefully underfed husband?” Behind her hand, she whispered. “You can say ‘no.’”
Cornmelia blew her nose again and glanced back at the best man, a forlorn glance, then back at the groom. Her gaze fizzled and died, writhing on the floor. “I … I do.” Her head fell in defeat.
Lusty guffawed and hopped and slapped his thigh, dancing around like an inbred mutant, which he almost certainly was.
“Are you sure?” Madam Spew peered at Cornmelia.
“Really, really sure?”
“Y-Yes,” Cornmelia whispered into her turnip bouquet. “Please, do not ask me again.”
“Right.” Madam Spew’s voice rang out through the church. “Then, through the power vested in me by the Craven Lord Grimnir, I now pronounce you— Wait! Is there any one amongst us here today who feels emphatically that these two should not be allowed to … to breed?” She looked around. “Anyone … anyone at all?” Please…?
The best man glanced away, gumming a knuckle…
“Perhaps emphatic is too big a word,” Madam Spew said. “Does anyone feel … strongly?”
“Mayhap someone has a slight misgiving?”
“Perhaps someone wants to comment on the weather? Or the structural integrity of this church? Anything…?”
A grumbling rose now in the pews.
Cornmelia wept openly.
Grumbling devolved to rumbling.
“Why ain’t we got us a real Wrackolyte?!” someone yelled.
“Cause he sawed his own head off rather than go on living here!” Madam Spew hollered. “And after a half day here, I wholly condone his decision!”
A rotten wool blanket of dead silence fell upon the church. But the grumbling soon persisted. But not from the crowd. Huh? From outside? The altar vibrated beneath Madam Spew’s feet. A candle danced. An act of the Dark Lord…?
Cornmelia bawled into her bouquet.
Madam Spew glanced up at the chandeliers rocking. “Right.” She drew her ceremonial bone knife and a wooden chalice. “Place your hands over the altar.” Madam Spew positioned the chalice underneath their hands and placed the knife upon their pink wrists. “So, then … by the power vested in me by the Craven Lord Grimnir, I now condemn you, man and—”
The front doors burst open and a scarecrow of a man rattled in.
“WHAT NOW?” Madam Spew stamped her foot.
“Lord Slaughterhand’s a coming!” the scarecrow screamed. “Killing everybody! We gots to hide! We gots to run!”
Hoof beats pounded outside the church. Armor flashed past the windows. Riders stampeded innocents.
“Oh thank you, Craven Lord,” Cornmelia whispered.