Wedding of the Jinshi Tsung Chang-Mai and Doctor the Dame Leah Brandage

Dame Eliza Gamut reads the stars to determine an auspicious date for the wedding. The “groom” Tsung Chang-Mai has leant her a few Cathayan texts, along with rough translations, which indicate whether the couple are destined for each other. Tsung doesn't actually seem much interested in the results, certain that they are in fact blessed by the stars. As far as Eliza can determine she's right. Finding an auspicious date proves considerably more difficult though.

It seems that it is impossible to select a date that will not feature some kind of supernatural intervention; at least one angel and two demons and always four of their kind no matter what date and time she chooses. Required to pick a date Dame Eliza opts for one of the less violent interventions by an extra angel in the hope it will be at least less malicious than a stray demon. On telling Tsung the date there is a certain amount of mentioning of “God helpe us alle”.

Having already presented the request letter and having been informed of the bride price, all that is left is sending the gift letter which she gives to David as her family and asks to pass on to Choronzon and Alexandros.

On the guest list for the wedding are Doctor David Brandage, Dame Eliza Gamut, Baron Mandrake and Will and Hannah Brandage. When the guests assemble on the most auspicious day that Dame Eliza can discover they are joined by Mister Christopher Orion, who gives them a mischievous wink, and by a gentleman the guests recognise from stained glass windows and wood cuts of the heroes of the Civil War as the angel Alexandros. (The angel does not wink at the guests and seems an altogether more serious minded fellow, who does on occasion scowl at Master Brandage.)

Also among the guests, apparently a guest of the groom (Tsung), is a young woman of Cathayan origin with her hair cut in a tonsure and two-arms. The later would not normally be deemed very remarkable but she seems quite surprised at times by the presence of her own left arm and rubs at her shoulder frequently. Their attention drawn to it the guests do note that the left arm seems more muscled than the right, that there is a faint line as if a healed scar around the shoulder and a blueish tinge to the skin. Most suspicious of all however is the Baron Mandrake's evident pride in the whole matter.

The young woman is apparently named Chang Ping and an associate of Tsung's. She is attired simply in white silk, unadorned in any way, and her hair is cut in a tonsure leaving her almost bald. She explains that she is a Taoist nun. Davie and Eliza can only look at each other since a rather prominent addition to the simple clothes she wears and her gentle manner is a longsword strapped to her back. It is left to Baron Mandrake to conspiratorially explain that Chang Ping is actually Crown Princess of the Ming Dynasty and rightful ruler of an empire larger than Christendom.

She is very nice to Eliza's rat Phlegm, certainly much nicer than most western clergymen or women, and seems a good enough sort. She certainly doesn't to have much in the way of airs, other than a propensity to smile graciously and somewhat mysteriously.

The angel and demon explain that they are Leah's godparents and will be filling in for their god-daughter's departed parents. Tsung hands Alexandros a pure white rose, at which point he starts crying in a most unmanly fashion. Handing a matching red rose to Choronzon he quietly complains, as if crestfallen, that he was hoping for lifeblood. But the guests all note that he seems to have something in his eye which he's trying to blink out.

Along with the roses Tsung has employed some Cathayan craftsmen to provide traditional food and cakes suitable for the occasion. A number of what after discrete questioning by those guests less familiar with the Orient are determined to be “prayer scrolls” are also given as a gift to Leah's family. They are apparently auspicious scrolls as befits a wedding.

The wedding party assembles in Tsung Chang-Mai's rooms in the East India Company headquarters, mostly in the front office rather than the backroom where Tsung sleeps. (Phlegm taking an opportunity to explore loudly explains to all that the backroom is full of heathen scrolls covered in funny picture words.)

In the rooms another demon manifests. Nine Fires Caps the Hills who has attended Court once before, her hair and tails carefully and neatly tied in nine intricate braids each and her scarlet silk dress carefully calculated to be but a fraction less impressive than the groom's. Tsung herself wears a red and white silk dress (and a headscarf) in the Cathayan style.

The party heads for a more salubrious part of the docks where Tsung explains that the wedding will be conducted open to the sky as is recommended by Jewish tradition. Apparently she is as surprised as everyone else when the presiding rabbi emerges from the sea - a sea serpent. It is deemed quite pleasant by many to see a look of apparently genuine shock on the face of the demon Choronzon.

A very calm, very very calm, conversation between bride and groom reveals that Leah had perhaps forgotten the difficulty of finding a rabbi willing to wed two women. Fortunately she has trained this one herself which eases the theological issues considerably.

The ceremony takes place under a traditional Chuppa, a cloth spread between four posts, and the bride and groom take the traditional Jewish vows. It is at this point that Baron Mandrake begins to cry quietly into a handkerchief. The marriage contract (Ketubah) is signed by both parties and by witnesses. The bride making a somewhat less traditional comment about the written promises of various things, including sexual satisfaction, which sets the groom blushing prettily. The ceremony ends with the traditional breaking of glasses and a very long kiss when the bride and groom both remove their veils.

While moving to the wedding banquet Father Anthony Sutcliffe - his eyes glowing a brilliant white - erupts from a side-street, hollering in a strange language which is later determined to be angelic though few present then knew that it phrases like “abominations against nature”, “Jewish whores” and “crime against the true God” were quite so snappy and succinct in that tongue. It is not clear whether it is Crown Princess Chang Ping, Choronzon, Alexandros or Nine Fires who launches him into the sea or perhaps a time effort. Dame Eliza checks that he has not drowned and tucks him safely in a nearby pub with a generous tip to look after him.

The wedding celebration continues despite the interruption and in a separate room of the sme hostelry is held the wedding banquet. The married couple share wine from the same cup as is Jewish tradition. They also pay respect to heaven, earth and family in the Cathayan tradition. It is at this point that Crown Princess Chang Ping starts crying, as they are now married in the eyes of Cathayan law with her as their witness.

The couple pay their respects to the guests at the celebratory meal. And plenty of wine and kosher food is consumed. The bride and groom then retire for their honeymoon.

bonus.wedding_of_tsung_chang_mai_and_leah_brandage.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/15 15:02 by ivan