Authors: Searching for Dragons
Cimorene studied the gargoyle thoughtfully. “If you’re that eager to come, I suppose we could take the molding in that corner apart and find someone to bring you down to the field to watch,” she offered.
The gargoyle looked down at her in alarm. “Take me
Oh, no, you don’t! I’m not stupid. I know what would happen. Even if you managed to get me out of here without damaging me, you’d forget to put me back afterward, and I’d spend centuries in a storeroom somewhere. Dust and dry rot!”
“Well, then I’m afraid all I can do is stop in before I leave for the ceremony,” Cimorene said. “Unless Telemain can fix up a spell on one of the windows so you can watch from here.”
“I don’t want that magician messing around with anything in my—wait a minute, did you say you’d stop in? You mean, here? In this room?”
“That’s what she said,” Mendanbar told it.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” the gargoyle said. Looking back at Cimorene, it went on, “You mean, you’d come and see me
“That’s right,” Cimorene said, nodding.
before? All dressed up and everything?”
“Of course,” Cimorene promised.
“Hot dog!” said the gargoyle. “I’ll take it! Oh, boy, I can hardly wait! This is going to be even better than going to the wedding.”
“It is?” Mendanbar said suspiciously. “Why?”
get to see her all dolled up before
do, that’s why,” the gargoyle answered smugly. “Everybody knows the groom doesn’t get to see the bride on the wedding day until the ceremony. And she’s going to stop in here first! Oh, boy, oh, boy!”
Mendanbar looked at Cimorene.
“He’s right, you know,” Cimorene said apologetically. “And I’ve promised.”
“He’s never going to let me forget this,” Mendanbar muttered and left to talk to Telemain about setting up Fire-Flower Meadow for the wedding.
Despite Willin’s determination to handle the wedding plans himself, there were a number of things only Mendanbar could do. Among the most important was making sure that Fire-Flower Meadow and the area around it stayed firmly in one spot on the day of the wedding, so that all the guests could find it. This was not an easy thing to arrange. Even with Telemain’s help, it took Mendanbar several days’ worth of work before he was positive no one would miss the wedding because of a shift in the forest.
The night before the ceremony, Mendanbar and Telemain went over the whole field an inch at a time, to make certain that all the fire-flowers had been picked (so that none of the guests would get an accidental hotfoot) and to take care of any lingering minor enchantments. They found two princesses who had been turned into pinks, a frog prince, and a hedgehog that had once been somebody’s groom. All of them were grateful to be disenchanted and very happy to be invited to the wedding.
The day of the wedding dawned bright and clear. Telemain had spent most of the previous week making sure that it would, while explaining to anyone who would listen that weather magic worked best if one set
it up over a long period of time, which was what made it so difficult. The guests started arriving early, and Mendanbar was kept busy greeting them.
A large corner of the field had been roped off as a landing place for dragons, and for, most of the morning the sky was full of flashing green wings. Ballimore and Dobbilan—who had come the previous evening to make sure their Cauldron of Plenty would have enough time to produce a proper wedding dinner for so many guests—directed traffic, as they were the only ones large enough for the dragons to see clearly from a distance amid the growing crowd.
Jack was early, too. He parked his wagon in a corner of the field and did a brisk business selling seven-league boots, cloaks of in-visibility, and magic rings (along with wrapping paper and tape) to those who had forgotten to bring wedding presents. Nearby, all rune of Morwen’s cats prowled on, around, under, and through the stacks of gifts that covered the six long benches that had been set out to hold them. Whenever someone brought a new package to lay on the benches, three of the cats would converge on him and purr loudly, while the others kept a watchful eye on the rest of the presents.
Slowly, the meadow filled up. Everyone was in a good mood, everyone was on his or her best behavior, and everyone was trying to be helpful. Even Cimorene’s family seemed to be having a good time. Her father was deep in conversation with Dobbilan, discussing ways of discouraging marauding giants. Several of her sisters were comparing notes with the dragons’ exprincesses, while her mother helped Queen Alexandra and her daughters (who did not seem nearly as awful as Mendanbar remembered) set bowls of punch and trays of sandwiches on a table at the far end of the meadow for people to nibble on until dinner was served.
Herman and his flock of children—including Crown Prince Jorillam—arrived and bought several bags of walnuts from jack to feed the squirrels. Jorillam was delighted to discover that the squirrels would give him advice about quests. He went through three bags of nuts before the ceremony began and had to be almost dragged to his seat when the time carne. His uncle, Prince Rupert, showed up at the last minute, wearing a black cloak and an enormous fake mustache. He looked very wicked and thoroughly pleased with himself.
Finally, everyone was there, everything was ready, and it was time. Resplendent in deep green velvet, milk white satin, and his best crown, Mendanbar waited nervously while the musicians, a talented group of Goldwing-Shadowmusic elves, began the wedding march. Willin, who had at first argued—but not very hard—that he was not a proper person to be a groomsman because he was Mendanbar’s steward, came down the long, open aisle with Morwen, who was wearing her best black robe. Following them came Kazul, the matron-of-honor, and Telemain, Mendanbar’s best man. Then came Cimorene, and Mendanbar forgot about everyone else.
Instead of her usual crown of black braids, Cimorene had let her hair hang in loose, shining waves down her back. She wore a wreath of fire-flowers, specially enchanted to burn without being hot or setting anything ablaze; from the wreath hung a veil of silver lace. Her bouquet was of fire-flowers, too, and her dress shimmering snow-silk trimmed with silver. She was stunningly beautiful.
The ceremony went by in a blur, but Mendanbar was pretty sure he hadn’t made any mistakes because suddenly he was kissing Cimorene and everyone was cheering. He felt like cheering himself, except he would have had to stop kissing Cimorene.
A finger poked him surreptitiously. With considerable reluctance, Mendanbar broke away from Cimorene and turned.
“Enough,” Telemain said in a voice so low Mendanbar could hardly hear it over the cheering. “Now it’s time for the party.”
Mendanbar looked at Cimorene, who gave him a wry smile as if to say that she didn’t think it was enough, either, but there was nothing they could do about it now. He looked back at Telemain.
we should have eloped,” he said.
Cimorene laughed and shook her head at him. “You don’t really mean that, any more than you mean it when you complain about the gargoyle,” she said, taking his arm.
“Who told you that?”
“The gargoyle did,” she admitted, and they both laughed. “Come enjoy the party.”
Arm in arm, the King and Queen of the Enchanted Forest went to accept the congratulations of their guests.