A team of skeletons staggered to heft the three-tiered wedding cake up onto the long table.
“Careful with that, you numbskulls!” Giselle said, rushing to help them before it tipped over. They planted it together on the table. Giselle licked the frosting off her thumb and gagged at the taste.
Theodore looked over the food spread. Trays of strange ghast delicacies lined the tables in the churchyard alongside traditional human wedding foods. There were sweet cakes with dried fruits, ash-tarts with live worms, a simmering pot of spiced broth with beef balls, mandrake casserole and dry roasted newts with cricket. There was even entire barrel overflowing with chew bones. Theodore hoped it would be enough.
“Thank you for helping make this happen, Giselle,” Theodore said. “I know there are still villagers who are upset about this wedding.”
Giselle looked different than she did during the murder investigation. Her world-weary scowl had softened, and her black mourning dress was replaced with a floral gown. “They can be mad all they want.” She stuck up her nose. “The Parish owed me a favor, and this is the least I can do after what I did.” She shot a glare at the skeletons, who were picking at the hors d’oeuvres and idling.
“What are you doing?!” She said. “They’ll be coming out of the chapel any moment now! Get the band ready!”
Startled, the skeletons leapt to their feet and scrambled to scoop up their instruments. Giselle threw a torch into the bonfire pit and lit up the churchyard. Dina the troll leaned out the backdoor of the old stone chapel.
“Start the music! They’re coming out!”
With a last few frantic toots and string plucks to tune, the half dozen skeleton caterers burst into a blaring rendition of the song Joined by the Mother on a crashing tambourine, piping flutes, a hand drum, and a joyful violin.
The door swung open and the newlywed werewolves paraded out into the yard, hand in hand and both wrapped in a shawl together, with an entire swarm of creatures trailing after them. Shadow people, goblins, trolls, ghouls, terrors and bogeymen all flooded into the yard cheering and howling. The Parishioner was the last out the door, who looked like he was questioning all the life choices that led him to this moment.
“Your attention, everyone!” The priest said, raising his arms for quiet. The music petered out and the crowd calmed to a few errant whoops. “I will now remove the Joining Shawl, and reveal to you the couple who are joined now in the eyes of the Mother!”
He unpinned the clasp, and unwrapped the couple. “The marriage of Barghest Blackhound and Lola Newmoon is hereby sanctified. Henceforth they wished to be known as the Blackmoons.” He anointed them with scented oils to the rattling of the tambourine. “May the mother bless you with a long and happy life together.”
The music swelled back into a crescendo, and Barghest broke into happy tears. The host of creatures erupted into a jolly caterwaul and then descended on the buffet table like savages.
“I can’t believe you actually made it happen,” Barghest said, holding a tiny plate overloaded with tiny pastries. “I didn’t think you could.”
“It’s not as nice as one of the cathedrals in the city,” Theodore said, wishing he could’ve managed more.
“No. It’s perfect.” Lola said. “Thank you, Deputy.”
Theodore smiled, and excused himself. He searched the crowd but did not find who he was looking for.
“Has anyone seen Oboe?”
Giselle sniffed at a dish of seasoned cow eyes with distrust. “Your fairy friend? She brought the wine casks like I asked, but asked to leave. She seemed upset, so I let her go.”
Theodore furrowed his brow. “Which way did she go?”
“Toward the River Wander,” she said. “You ought to check on her.”
Nodding, Theodore left the party to search for her.