Chapter 18

Stepney had gathered her senior Clerics and taken them into the Inner Sanctum. The ladies were clearing the unused tables and removing table decorations. The men sat in Fenton's sitting room where the wine was. Even McLintock and Fenton were partaking.

"How are you doing?" Fenton asked Rob.

"Oh I'm getting used to living hour by hour." Rob rolled his eyes and refilled his glass. "I just hope everything's OK. Glowing books that fly off shelves and crack floors may be run of the mill here but they aren't over the rainbow. Shouldn't we be doing something?"

"Only the Clerics can read those texts." Cripps told him. "Stepney has all the senior Clerics working on it. Jean has all the novices tending the Barrier."

"Jean?" Rob said in surprise.

"Stepney drew the line at her 'sodding about' in the Inner Sanctum. Her own words." Cripps laughed. "I don't think she'll ever let off the hook completely."

"You can't blame her really." Rob said. "The Temple is Stepney's whole life and Jean abused it."

"Stripping you to your britches didn't endear her either." Fenton snorted a laugh. "Take good of the rest, Rob. You might not have much of it."


Stepney and the Clerics worked all through the night. Two of them had fallen asleep by the wall and two were struggling with headaches. They were looking for anything at all related to magical rejuvenation, marriage ceremonies or unions that fit with two races. The Tome was huge and the language was old and convoluted.

"Stepney my eyes are exploding." Summerill screwed her eyes shut.

"I know." Stepney sighed wearily. "We may have to call a break."

"Stepney the Novices are tiring even though I rotated them." Jean was at the top of the steps.

"I'll have to go and take over for while." Stepney stood up stiffly. Her beautiful wedding gown was crumpled and ink smudged. "Jean we have two sleepers down here. Can you come and give Summerill a hand with them?" Jean hurried down the steps.

"Is that what you have to do?" Jean walked past the Tome. "Wow. Has it ever been done before?"

"We don't know what we have to do yet." Stepney turned round at the bottom of the steps. "You can read that? It takes a lot of practice."

"I told you I spent a lot of time here. Not here in the Inner Sanctum, but in the upstairs library. Marriage of Heart and Flame. Is that right?" Jean asked and Stepney hurried back to the Tome.

"This is it." Stepney whispered. "We need more than a standard marriage ceremony. This dates back to when Deities walked among the ancient Ryanairs. Oh Holy Dinsen. Look at this. This form of marriage was used by the personified Deities when they took mortal partners. They did this to instantly infuse the Deities on the celestial plane." She looked at Jean and Summerill in astonishment. "Obviously I'm not a Deity, but I am Dinsen's representative but I don't think that's it." Stepney studied the Tome again. "It's the two realms. In the days before Lawlim, it was the mortal realm and the celestial realm. Now it's this realm and Rob's realm! We have it! Instantly infused, it says. Our people and our children will be strengthened almost immediately!" She felt tears of sheer joy as she knelt and gave thanks to Dinsen, her other Clerics doing likewise. Suddenly, the Tome ruffled through its pages and a whirlwind slammed it back into it's niche, frightening the Clerics out of their skins. "OK Dinsen so we were a bit slow. Sorry. Rob. I have to tell Rob."


Rob was struggling with a hangover, the first one since that blinder in his bedsit when he first met Stepney.

"So we have to have a ... deity ... wedding? Wow." Rob was feeling rather overwhelmed. "So how is it different? Please say my clothes."

"Ah. Now then." Stepney winced. "We could just do a live run? You know? Whatever crops up?"

"How does no grab you." Rob eyed her warily.

"The verbal bit is actually alot shorter than the usual one. Basically stating our names and saying we're loyal to Dinsen the Wise and that we're there of our own free will. Much easier on Summerill's bladder."

"And? Get on with it Stepney." Rob gave her a hard stare.

"Well. We Have to lift Dinsen's brazier with our forearms. You on one side, me on the other. It's only about a foot wide. It's standing in the corner by the big candle stick."

"You're waffling. So we lift the brazier. That's not vaguely waffle-worthy." Rob said calmly.

"The brazier will be lit." Stepney said quickly and Rob just blinked at her. "Actually it will have been lit for twelve hours so it's hot. Dinsen's Ring of Infinity is embossed on the sides. We ... well we'll be branded."

"Are you serious!" Rob said in disbelief. "Branded? Like ... sizzled flesh?"

"Rob I'll have have every spare Cleric casting healing winds on us. We'll be marked as Dinsen's chosen ones. After the branding, we'll have our arms bound together for an hour to infuse each other's life force then my Clerics will separate us safely. The only people present will be us and the Clerics." Stepney explained.

"And everyone's magic will return? Just like that?" Rob asked.

"Using my interpretation, I'd say within a month, two maybe. It's more practical that having a baby a year and waiting for thirteen years." Stepney held Rob's hands and smiled. "We did it Rob. We're almost there."

"Requests. Respectful requests. Will you thank Jean Docherty properly? This bound to make up for a heck of a lot, Stepney. Also, black trousers like McLintocks and a vest. Just an ordinary sleeveless vest. I can't dangle that blouse thing over a brazier! I'll have the Temple on fire. And no gold boots!"


Stepney lit the brazier at noon. The Marriage of Heart and Flame would take place at midnight.

Rob spent the day pacing his room in the company of either Cripps, Fenton, McLintock or Eamon. McLintock was to escort Rob and Stepney to the Temple, Eamon was to escort the Clerics.

"And I thought I was nervous before." He said to McLintock, who's turn it was. "What if it doesn't work? Hell the whole population is depending on this. To think, McLintock, this could have been you." Rob smiled. He was referring to the time a lifetime ago when he based McLintock on himself.

"Me?" McLintock laughed. "I seriously doubt it. Are you ready? We'll call for Stepney."

Stepney spent the day with her mother.

"I can't believe this!" Lady Julia had just stopped crying. "I never thought I'd ever see you wedded, let alone all this!"

"I can hardly believe it myself. I'm so proud of Rob, mother. He was raised without anything like this. Can you imagine how much trust this must be taking?" Stepney said.

"He's a credit to us all, and himself. He trusts you, Stepney. He loves you. I wish your father was here to see all this." Lady Julia started crying again.

"Father is with Dinsen and Dinsen lead us to this. Of course father's here." Stepney hugged her mother. "Come on, dry up. You're going to rust." There was a knock on the door. Lady Julia took a deep breath and composed herself before opening it. "I'm ready." Stepney kissed her mother and left with McLintock and Rob.

The heat from the brazier could be felt from feet away. Stepney swallowed hard and gripped Rob's hand tightly.

"I've used the bathroom and now I'm just shaking all over." Summerill smiled nervously. The senior Clerics didn't look quite so exited this time. They were as nervous as Summerill. "Robin Lancaster ... is that right? Robin?"

"Just get on with it, Summerill." Stepney said.

"Yes. Robin Lancaster and Stepney Lions. Do you both put your faith and trust in Dinsen the Wise?" Both answered in the affirmative. "Are you both here, in Dinsen's Temple of your own free will? Do you understand the most sacred pledge that you're both about to take? In the eyes of Dinsen, you will now seal your Union with Fire and Heart." Summerill turned to nod at the Clerics and gentle healing winds began to fan over Stepney and Rob. Stepney went behind the altar and Rob stood infront of it. They held hands over the brazier, then lowered their arms. The winds were now stronger and the Clerics were chanting quietly as they focused and concentrated.

"It's OK Stepney. Look at me." Rob let go of Stepney's hands and they moved their forearms over the embossing. "Just keep looking at me. I love you." They both pressed their arms against the brazier and cried out in pain. Three of the five Clerics had bloody pouring from their noses. "H ... hang in there Stepney. Just keep your arms in place. I'll lift it." Rob gasped and Stepney was sobbing in pain. Rob cried out loudly as he lifted the brazier. He clenched his fists and Stepney did the same. Veins stood out on Rob's neck and Stepney started to sway.

"Y ... you may rep ... replace the brazier." Summerill sobbed and stammered. Stepney fainted and Rob thumped the brazier back on the altar. He ran round and knelt on the floor with Stepney. Three Clerics were now unconscious and the other two now had nose bleeds. "You did it. You did it." Summerill took over some of the healing. She took two lengths of wrapping from the altar and sat on the floor, lifting Stepney to sit against her. "Help us." She ordered one of the standing Clerics. Rob passed out after five minutes. Summerill and the Clerics lay them on the floor, face to face, their forearms bound together. "I'll heal on my own for while. Break off and see to the other three."

Stepney gradually woke after an hour and a half and wished she hadn't. The pain in her arms was terrible. Rob was still unconscious and Summerill was gently removing the wrappings. Both arms of both people would be re-wrapped while the burns healed. Apart from Summerill, they were down to only one other Cleric.

"Both of you concentrate on Rob. I'll concentrate on me." Stepney struggled into a sitting position. By the time Rob woke up, their arms were cleaned, balmed and re-dressed. The Clerics were all slumped against the altar.

"We did it?" Rob winced as he sat up. Stepney could only smile and nod. "Well done Mrs Lancaster."

"Mrs Lions." Stepney corrected in confusion.

"Lady Julia is Mrs Lions." Rob was getting a weird feeling creeping up his spine. "So if Fenton and Rioch get married, Fenton will be Mr Weston?"

"No. Lions is an established House. If Fenton was just an ordinary citizen he'd be Mr Weston. Is that not how you do it on your world?"

"Other way round. The woman takes the man's name, traditionally. So what about Rigman and Jean?" Rob asked.

"Officially she'd have been Mrs Jean Rigman because of Hersh's house. I'm assuming it was easier operating under her born name. Once Hersh found out she was half human, he'd have insisted on it. Now he's dead, She's officially Jean Docherty."

"So I'm Rob Lions? How weird is that!" Rob laughed.

"Robin Lions. The same as my father. How weird is that!" Stepney joined in. "Summerill, I'll go and send a bit of help in here for you and the others. Thank you. You were amazing."


Jonty and Kate looked at the shop window display. Rows and stacks of books filled the area and posters covered the walls. 'Lawlim Calling: Dinsen's Quest' by Rob Lancaster had made the best seller list.

"I hope you'll both be happy together. Take care Mr Lions." Jonty took Kate's hand and they made their way down the road.

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