It was a wonderful day outside - birds chirping, sun out, only a few clouds and a slight breeze… The sort of day Rhea usually managed to muck up somehow. She wasn’t taunting the poor, wasn’t causing a ruckus at the tavern, wasn’t planning a trip to threaten a more timid lord - no, today Rhea was sitting on the balcony, head wrapped in bandages and a worn black and blue handkerchief being turned over in her hands. Something about the fabric pulled at her mind. Even with a concussion, the Lady of the Court remained stubborn as always and this memory was not going to escape her… once she got proper hold of it, that is… She groaned in frustration, leaning back defeated in her seat and drawing her husband’s attention.
“Rhea, what’s wrong?” He asked quietly. Those words had grown so tedious over the last week, Arthur was about the only person who could get away with asking the question anymore. He took a seat next to his wife and pulled her into a warm hug, despite some protest.
Rhea sighed - shaking her head ‘no’. “Nnn-” she still hadn’t re-mastered vowels, “Try’nn t’remberrrr…” Green eyes narrowed on the napkin, demanding it relinquish all secrets at once. “Thisss… s‘portand’.”
Arthur gently relieved his wife of the garment, unfurling it in front of him. “Ahh, this one,” there was no pause to remember, Arthur knew exactly what significance the tattered fabric held. A worried smile crossed his tired face. “Yeah, s’pretty important. S’yer wedding veil, Rhea-” He handed the cloth back, Rhea accepted it greedily and furrowed her brow.
“Thinn whyy- ….why doezzit maek m’feel so-... Mmmfph…” The feeling was hard to place, a tumultuous mix of anger, sorrow, gallow’s humor, and a vibrant sense of happiness.
Arthur sighed, leaning back in his own seat and folding his hands behind his head. “It was a hell of a ceremony, Rhea,” he smiled, winking, “Ya shoulda been there.”
Rhea was initially irritated by the remark, but quickly softened into a chuckle. “Wishh I remmberr’d,” the red-head exhaled tiredly and flopped into her husband’s side. “Tell me th’storry-?”
“You know I can’t refuse a request, love.” Arthur closed his eyes, mentally working his way through events nine years gone. “T’was in th’spring, right as spring broke. We live’d where it was very cold, y’see - getting married in th’snow is bad luck.” Arthur smiled, the memory now vivid in his mind’s eye. “Even the night before the ceremony, you were being… well - Rhea.”
“I don’t have to wear a dress, right? I mean… I know someone went out of their way to prepare th’damn thing but-” a younger Rhea was pacing in her room, with a more naive Arthur poking his head in the second story window. Rhea stomped her foot, “Ugh, dresses are so stupid! I don’t want t’be walking down the aisle like every other ‘blushing bride’!”
Arthur contained a laugh, only barely - and it showed all over his rosy face. “My lil’ fighter. Why don’t we jus’walk th’aisle like we’re going t’war? Rawr-” he turned loose the laugh he had withheld, shaking his head. Although he had been joking, Rhea took the suggestion at face value.
“Mmm, instead of being sewn into a dress… could take that armor out for a spin-” a terrifying smile pulled across the woman’s face, and she ran to the window to give her lover a kiss goodnight. She almost cackled the farewell, “Get some sleep, Arthur - tomorrow you’re gonna earn this.” Toothy grin in full force, Rhea pushed her fiance outside and shut the window behind him. As Arthur descended to the ground, a worrisome laugh echoed through the hall….
Rhea quirked an eyebrow - an amusing effect, as one of her eyes was covered by gauze. “I cacckle?”
Arthur snorted a laugh in response, then kissed his wife on the forehead. “Yes you do, hon. S’one of the many reasons I love you-” The two shared a warm moment, Rhea snuggling further into Arthur’s lap.
“Y’rr nut donnn…” Rhea prodded Arthur in the ribs.
“Ah, sorry,” Arthur recounted his steps mentally, then continued, “So- I climbed down th’ladder and walked to th’south quarters. I tell no lies when I say I could hear your laugh from across th’courtyard. Was gettin’ cold feet, so I stopped to talk t’father before bed. Yer adviser was there-”
Master Z, but with a tinge of color to his hair, and a grizzled old man bearing a strong resemblance to Arthur if he were a more somber man were sitting in the throneroom discussing the wedding with muted excitement. Both fell silent the second Arthur entered the room, taking a deep bow.
“Sorry, Father - I didn’t mean to interrupt-” Arthur was cut off by an echoing laugh.
“Haha, boy! C’mere- I know that face-” the elder Novak laughed, nudging a nearby seat with his foot. “Tha’s the look every man has a’fore they get married. Bet yer nervous as all hell and got a chill t’yer toes-!” Lord Novak continued laughing as his boy nervously took a seat. Of the three present, he was the only one who didn’t seem to get the joke: even Z’s face was twisted into a wry grin as he drank tea.
Arthur waited for his father’s mirth to die down before he raised his own voice. It took a few minutes. “Da’, I-” Arthur paused, turning the words over in his head before speaking them, “I know she’s th’right one, I just don’t know if she-”
Z set his cup down, smile fading by a small measure. “You went to her room the night before your wedding, didn’t you? Against tradition, boy-” No ill was meant by the comment, but both elders wore a look of knowing on their face as they waited for Arthur’s answer. The boy was dumbfounded - and now a significant deal more red than he had been prior.
Lord Novak broke the silence, slapping his boy on the back and chuckling, “S’hard thing t’resist - s’pecially when yer nervous. Hahah, don’t blame ya fer a second, wantin’ t’see-”
Z shot the lord a look that was a tad less than friendly, and the room went quiet.
“-Well,” Novak recovered, “I’m guessin’ ya talked t’her. What’s got ya so worried?”
Arthur buried his face in his hands. “She was complainin’ ‘bout th’dress. D’cided after th’six we’ve tried she dun wanna wear it t’morrow…” The frustration was clear in the groom’s voice. Lord Novak and Z only chuckled, not one bit surprised. “She’s not backin’ out, but I think she got it in ‘er head t’dress fer a fight at th’wedding.” Arthur groaned, dragging his fingers down his face.
Old man Z took back up his tea, eyes closed. “I don’t think that surprises anyone present, Master Arthur.” He took a quiet sip, “Rhea has been difficult every step of the way. I would not look down my nose at you if you’re not up for… her. I will not lie and say she gets bet-”
Arthur had stood up without thinking, slamming a fist into the table. Mismatched eyes were glaring a hole through Z’s face. “She is -more- than just a difficult woman- I’ve already told ya yer not gonna convince me t’back out, Advisor Z. Stop insultin’ m’wife’s name-!” Arthur frowned and left in a huff, resolved to see the ceremony though.
“Awww, y’didd tha’ fer’me?” Rhea chirped, engaged fully in the story. Her smile was wider than it had been in weeks.
Arthur blushed slightly, patting his wife on the head. “Yeah… But save yer d’aww’in. Turned out in th’end tha’ Z was just pokin’ th’bear so I’d defend ya. I got maybe five paces from that front door b’fore the two of them were both howlin’ laughin.” He grinned, teeth flashing from one mutton chop to the other. “Old man always knew how t’play me like a mandolin. Mmhmm… may as well skip to th’ceremony…”
Rhea giggled, “Whurr we godd marrr’d, ja?”
Arthur nodded dreamily, taking his wife’s hand into his own. “Y’know we spent so much gold and effort tryin’ t’get tha’ceremony up ta ‘her highness's’ standards…” still smiling, eyes rolled to meet Rhea’s.
Her face suddenly went shocked. Though Rhea couldn’t remember the incident, the look Arthur was giving her could only mean one thing. She mouthed the words ‘did I?’ and then pursed her lips, covering her face. “Ohhhno… I ruin’d ittt, diddn’I?”
Arthur chuckled, hugging Rhea tighter for a second. “Naw. Y’made it th’ one weddin’ m’whole family will ne’er ferget. And m’god, you were beautiful-...” The word hung in the air for a second, Arthur’s mismatched eyes both watering up. “I’d been dress’d in m’armor, as any general would, new capelet an’ all - spent aaaaaaallllll night polishin’ the damn set, cleanin’ the grime from the cracks… But I coulda been dressed in gold coins and not shone s’bright as you did once ya finally came down th’aisle-”
The gathering had gone peacefully up until that point - members of both the Thornwall and Novak family were both present, intermixed alongside the aisle and eagerly awaiting the main event. Rumors were abound, all sorts of curious and worrisome things being passed around like party favors. Arthur stood tall by his father and the priest officiating the marriage - the poor priest, as nicely dressed as he was, was completely dwarfed by the other two men. Lord Novak was grinning ear-to ear, reassuring his nervous son that everything was going to go without a hitch.
Not far beyond the podium, two titanic Pokemon stood, keeping a sharp vigil over the proceedings. Nobody dared step out of line or start a fight with those two keeping guard over their keeper’s wedding. Both of them turned their heads, hearing the faint sound of metal clinking together moments before the wedding march began playing and everyone took a seat. Everything went completely silent for a brief moment as Rhea came out from behind the curtains - even the band skipped a beat, taking a few seconds to find their rhythm again and resume play. You would have needed a savant to count the number of faces that had been palmed in the crowd.
Rhea beamed a grin. She’d spent the last few hours getting fitted for a knight’s duel, gambeson, scale-mail, even the plates - not a single detail was missed from shoes to crown. Had the visor on her helmet not been cracked with a few bunches of bright red Thornwall hair spilling out the sides and back, one would have quickly assumed that the bride had been stolen and replaced with a war-hungry messenger. She paused at the end of the aisle, waiting for Titan and Goliath to take their places behind her and walk her down the aisle to a blushing groom.
“I thought that my heart was goin’ta explode, it was poundin’ so fast-” Arthur paused telling the story to take a drink. Even recounting the moment was making his heart race and face blush.
Rhea fidgeted, laughing with embarrassment, “Yurrr kiddin’-!”
Arthur outright laughed, sticking a few of his fingers through the prominent row of holes in the bride’s veil. “Not exaggerating in the slightest. Only thing ya took from th’dress was this damn thing, and ya just jammed it onta th’horns of yer helmet. Z was purple.” It took several minutes for the two to stop laughing.
The grin slipped off Rhea’s face for a moment, a question suddenly burning in her mind. “Wh-why diddn’ da’ wallk mee downnn th’aistle? Thought y’saay Zee wass’erre?”
Arthur raised an eyebrow, sighed and shook his head, “Tha’s… kinda complicated. Should ask ‘im yerself, really. Don’t think ya woulda had him lead y’out anyway. Ya had m’Aggron and yer Nido-beast on yer flanks and were absolutely terrifyin’.”
Rhea blushed, somehow finding ‘terrifying’ as a complement, “Y’meen it?”
“I wouldn’ lie t’you, Rhea. Positively mortifyin’.” Arthur picked Rhea’s face up by the chin and planted a kiss on her lips. After a moment, he continued, “Nobody said a word as y’walked down th’aisle. Even the priest needed to be nudged once or twice before he started recitin’ th’words.”
Rhea stood confidently, grinning wickedly, emerald eyes glued to her fiance as the priest nervously recited words from the holy book of matrimony. Her shoulders were squared, gloved hands resting on the pommel of a curved saber that had been dug into the ground between her feet. Arthur mirrored the confidence, but none of the ferocity, in his stance - arms folded behind his back and a soft, terrified smile plastered on his blushing face.
“Today, we bear w-witness to the joining of f-family Thornwall and family Novak, through their progeny Arthur N-novak and R-r-rhea Thornwall-” the priest managed, raising a hand up over his head as he continued reading. “If any of those present should know why these t-two should not be wed-!” He paused for perhaps a bit too long. There were a few murmurs from among the crowd, but it was none other than Rhea who broke the silence.
“AYE-” the bride bellowed, having not taken eyes from Arthur nor blinked once since she walked herself to stand before him. Arthur flinched, face clearly portraying ‘what the hell’, though his lips wouldn’t move.
The priest shrank, finally remembering to ask, “A-a-and what issue h-h-have y-y-you?”
Rhea turned to address those in attendance, pivoting around her sword. “There are a great many promises being made with this wedding! But not once have I brought to men my own promise-!” Rhea paused, eyes flickering over to her advisor to see his reaction. It didn’t disappoint. Grinning like a cheshire cat, Rhea made her proclamation: “I, Rhea Thornwall, will not marry a man unworthy of my hand-! Arthur, you claim yourself to be a warrior-!” the bride closed the visor on her helmet, snapping it in place. In a quick motion, she both pulled the saber out of the ground and leveled it to Arthur’s shoulder-plate. “Claim your bride-!”
“Nnnno wayy-!” Rhea had covered her face as a toddler would when the tale began to get frightening. “I-I-I wass kiddin’, yez? A bliff!”
Arthur became serious for a moment, leaning forward and folding his hands together. “No, y’were serious as death. I thought y’were at least usin’ a blunt blade, but that wasn’t th’case, either. Y’gave me no time t’grab a weapon or even a helmet - I think m’only word was…”
“W-What?” Arthur reflexively leaned back as the blade came near his face. A moment later and Rhea had swung the blade down, sparking against the freshly polished chest-plate. He stepped back, grabbing one of the tall metal lantern-rods nearby and jerking it free of the ground. For several moments, the knight was on the defensive, frantically blocking the quick saber strikes aimed for his head.
The crowd was a healthy mix or enthralled and panicked, with attendees either running for the door or bemusedly watching the fight, figuring it to be part of the show. Lord Novak and Advisor Z exchanged worried looks, neither expecting something this drastic.
With his keeper being attacked, Titan the Aggron very quickly sprung up to try and stop the attacks. He stepped in right after one of Rhea’s slashes cut clean through Arthur’s defensive staff, rendering it useless. Rhea was only preoccupied with the Pokemon for a moment before her own Nidoqueen, Goliath, charged his way in and dragged the metal monster into a wrestling match.
Arthur had just long enough of a break to be thrown a spear, courtesy one of the guards who stood by with an amused look plastered on his face. “Get ‘er, sir!” he saluted, resuming his previous ‘defensive’ post. Arthur groaned, but didn’t have any time to consider a better strategy before Rhea was upon him again, this time tackling him with a shoulder to throw the groom off balance. . .
All told, the fight was fierce, but only lasted a few minutes. Once Arthur had gotten his hands on a properly weighted spear, the fight was no-longer one-sided. They traded blows, metal glinting off metal, the reverberating clang of a hardwood spear striking into Rhea’s platemail - behind them, two beasts mirroring the battle, their clash making the ground shake. Just as things began getting out of hand, the deciding blow was struck-
Arthur had hooked one of his bride’s legs, stealing her balance away completely. In a last-ditch effort, she lunged with the saber, catching Arthur between the plates covering his ribs and tearing through the chainmaille covered the area. The blade came out the other side, a red line tracing the edge - but… it was a glancing blow. Blade somewhat lodged under his armpit, Arthur turned and knocked Rhea’s helmet from her head with a clean strike to the bill. Before it could hit the ground, the groom had pulled his bride into a kiss, one rightfully earned. Even the tussle between the two prized monsters died out - the two breaking apart as Rhea’s helmet thunked the Aggron in the muzzle. Though they were less inclined to ‘drop the fight and kiss’, the two snorted and split apart, quietly waiting for the ceremony to finish itself.
There was a raucous applause from the aisles as Arthur and Rhea returned to the podium, where the priest was anxiously hiding. They held each other’s hand high in the air, panting, and Rhea shouted above the noise, “He’s proven MORE than worthy! I take this man proudly!” the noise grew only louder.
Both Rhea and Arthur were crying, holding each other just as they had on their wedding day as they stood on the balcony. Arthur wiped the tears from his eyes and leaned in to whisper, “Y’know, I had made a promise on that wedding s’well,” he sniffled, a proud smile on his face.
Rhea looked up, one eyebrow quirked just a bit higher than the other, “Y’didd?” she questioned quietly.
Arthur wiped away his wife’s tears with a thumb and nodded. “Aye, promised my Rhea everything she wanted, if it just made her happy. All I needed - all I need - is your smile.”
Rhea buried her face into her husband’s chest. “Prrrmise keptt-”
The two didn’t speak another word, each of them now carrying the moment in their heart and mind as they shared a wedding-day kiss so many years later. The nagging feelings over the veil had melted away and this first memory had returned to Rhea. It would mark the turning point in her month-long recovery from this concussion, and a renewal of that promise to love and honor each other until death here in Realm.
((Sorry. XD Long bit. Anyhoodle. Just some history spam because I wanted an excuse to A: draw m'leader-lady and her commander-hubby in their full armor sets, B: draw Titan and Goliath, their Pokemon from back east who have... unfortunately passed or been otherwise lost. x'D Shame, they were close. Oh, and C: spend hours of my life trying explain their relationship. Bahahah, mission sorta accomplished. Gotta add a background to the 'wedding photo' and all that... oh, and probably submit an exp form or some nonsense. Just a quick note, Rhea's suffering from a recent concussion. At this point, she's about a week out from the initial injur and it's kinda... screwing with her speech and most of her memories are all jumbled. It'll probably right itself soon. xD Great excuse for flashback BS, though! WHOO! Future note: 3107 woooordssss... ))