Chapter 15: I am ZEUS!
Melodious tones reverberated through the area. A round flower-covered archway gave way to a gallery, upon the floor a red carpet stretching fifty meters until it reached the ministerial residence.
On either side of the flowery arch were row upon row of chairs blanketed in white. Every one was occupied, the multitudes of party-goers each with their cameras ready to commemorate this grand occasion.
The Austin family was Christian, while Minister Zhou’s was atheist. As a result the wedding was designed to respect the Austin family belief. A priest already stood before the congregation, praying quietly with two others.
Richard Austin stood beside the priest, desperately trying to maintain an air of decorum. With the wedding about to commence, all he wanted was to see his new bride.
The Master of Ceremonies’ pleasant voice rang out, “Let the wedding begin!”
An almost musical hiss filled the gallery as ranks of mechas rose into the air from either side of Tianshan Mountain. On the left, the machines had been coated in red, whilst the right was in blue. Twenty-four mechas in all flew overhead.
They spiraled into the heavens, then each broke off to draw ranks on either side. The execution was perfectly uniform, and it was clear each mecha was operated by masterful Mecha-pilots.
The two sets of mechas gathered into heart formations, drawing closer to one another until they merged in to one.
At the same moment, a brilliant flash of golden light shone forth, piercing the two hearts like a golden arrow. In that split instant the two hearts both seemed to shimmer golden light, completing a wondrous pattern in the skies above.
“Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests; We are gathered here today, before the eyes of God and men, to join Richard Austin and Zhou Qianlin in holy matrimony. Marriage is precious, a sacrament ordained by our Lord. In the Bible it is recorded that Jesus Christ attended a wedding at Cana in Galilee. It is also written: no matter the man, the holy bonds of marriage are of the highest importance. And so you must not act in haste or neglect, but instead with reverence, with piety, and with faith adhere to the will of our Lord. Then will your marriage be true.” The priest’s voice hung gently in the air.
“Next, we request the bride make her entrance,” the Master of Ceremonies called.
To one side of the assembly a choir let their voices be heard, a group of thirty-six young women between the ages of eight and twelve singing We Are One in the Bond of Love.
Minister Zhou Xue emerged, having changed in to a snow-white suit. Beside him, her face half hidden beneath a veil, Zhou Qianlin held on to his arm. The veil prevented anyone from seeing her fetching blue eyes. Her magnificent dress shone with a hundred thousand starbursts in the natural light.
The bride is the focus of any wedding, and this one was no exception. Zhou Qianlin, twinkling with light, was an unparalleled bride.
The Minister’s face wore a slight smile. Gently he patted her hand as they walked in tandem, peering down the red carpet to the priest and Richard waiting at the opposite end.
If it were possible, Richard would have rushed down the isle to meet them, taking his wife from Minister Zhou Xue on the spot. Each diamond on Zhou Qianlin’s dress reflected her beauty, and he was absolutely dazzled by her.
But he couldn’t, of course. He could desecrate this lovely wedding with his impatience. He was a representative of the Western Alliance. And so he could only wait.
Minister Zhou Xue moved steadily, each step the same as the one before, the expression of his face amiable and reserved.
Thus, with the choir singing beautifully, Minister Zhou delivered his daughter down the aisle. Richard made as though to step forward, but he immediately felt the hard gaze of his father.
Old Sylva was helpless. He was an intelligent man, and recognized the light of obsession in his son’s eyes. It appeared it wasn’t so easy to force the Minister to lose his daughter and riches.
Minister Zhou led his daughter towards the altar, pausing two meters before Richard.
“Richard, from this day forward I entrust my daughter to you. I hope you will love her truly, look after her, and protect her.”
“Absolutely, I promise you.” Richard’s response was somewhat hurried. He felt as though his heart was going to burst from his chest.
As he looked on in anticipation, Minister Zhou finally relinquished Zhou Qianlin’s hand to him.
Quickly Richard advanced two steps, one hand behind his back and the other extended forward, employing the most traditional of Western noble etiquette.
Closer and closer the two hands drew. With baited breath the guests watched, each with their cameras and recorders poised to capture this wonderful moment.
Two hands joined!
Zhou Qianlin’s frail frame trembled visibly. Minister Zhou looked on dumbfounded. Richard, his face red, was likewise stupefied.
Zhou Qianlin’s diamond-studded, gossamer-clad hand did not embrace Richard’s.
It was a slender hand, fair-skinned and forceful.
None were able to tell where he had come from, and to all it seemed as though he simply appeared before their eyes, half a step beside Richard.
Gently did the man stroke the dual coiling dragons of black hair, tenderly saying, “Let’s go home.”
“W-who are you? Let go of her!” Richard howled, raising his hand to grab the intruder’s shoulder.
The man did not move, allowing himself to be grabbed. Serpentine tendrils of blue electricity burst to life, and Richard suddenly felt as though a high-voltage current had torn through him. His entire body was encased in dazzling arcs of electricity which raced over and out of him.
One of the man’s hands reached out to embrace Zhou Qianlin’s waist, lifting her up.
Now, shaken from their stupor, people began to take closer note of the man.
Tall and thin, his head wash covered in golden hair which hung freely to his ankles. He was clad in brilliant golden robes, with a collar concealing his neck and conforming to the contours of his face. A mask concealed his features below the eyes. But most notable, were those two glittering, impish blue eyes.
His lifted his left hand, over his head and pressing towards the skies.
The sunny skies rang with the abrupt sound of thunder, one after another, until the sky grew dark. Angry clouds converged from all directions, and lightning surged freely in their depths, as though the end times were nigh.
Minister Zhou had begun to react, the Chief Minister of the Eastern Alliance was surprised but not shaken. Retreating not a step, his deep voice bellowed, “Who are you!”
“I am ZEUS!”