I THINK BACK OVER my life. I was a 71-year-old man living in Averon and waiting in poverty to die. In order to avoid starving to death, I was planning a bank job. Instead, I got an unlikely bodyguard job that, as with so many other jobs, blew up in my face. However, I did learn how to eat life force as a result of the bodyguard job. The eating of life force began to reverse my aging process and I became younger, instead of getting older. I also became both larger and stronger physically. I then wound up traveling and acquiring more life force. One other thing I that acquired in my travels is Kingdoms. I became the King of Fori Novor, mainly by killing anyone who got in my way, mostly hand-to-hand. I then imposed my rule on Fori Novor. Once the people of the islands around Fori Novor saw what was happening with Fori Novor, they wanted some of the same. Thus, I became King of The Islands, including all of the islands around Fori Novor. I then became the King of Zaya, actually only part of Zaya. However, I killed the old King of Zaya and I'm on my way to being King of all of Zaya. Being King is not easy, but it's a lot better than being a 71-year-old man waiting in poverty to die.
One of the reasons that I'm King is that I can see things better than those about me. One of the things that I have seen for a long time is that Colonel Dakon Harkand, the Ambassador from Dorond, is going to marry Norva Lemni, the Ambassador from the PCP. I'm not the only one to foresee the coming marriage, but I'm the only one who sees the entire situation.
Since both Ambassadors reside in Ololo, the capital city of Fori Novor, the marriage and reception will be in Ololo. The Dorond Embassy is larger than the PCP Embassy, so that's where the wedding ceremony and reception are planned to be held. Of course, the plan is badly flawed.
The love birds will plan for a number of high ranking guests. Invitees will include the King of The Islands (and Zaya,) the Lady Ayah, who got Norva set up to be a proper Ambassador, The Reverend Amash, the High Priest of the Temple of Vorell, the governors of the islands around Fori Novor and a few more high ranking islands people. At least, that's who the love birds think will attend.
I call the Lady Ayah from Zaya. I need to check in on what's actually happening in Fori Novor. I get official reports from the government people there, but only Ayah knows what's really going on.
Ayah tells me, "Justin! I have big news for you."
I suspect that I know what the big news is, but I ask, "What's your big news, Ayah?"
Ayah says, "The Colonel and Norva have officially set the date! It'll be the biggest marriage in the history of Fori Novor."
"Ayah, it'll be the biggest marriage in the history of Corin. I'll need you to co-ordinate things."
"Justin, Norva will co-ordinate things. After all, it's her wedding."
"Who'll be coming to the wedding?"
Ayah says, "Well, of course, the King of The Islands, several of us here on Fori Novor, several high ranking people from The Islands, oh, and a few others."
"Ayah, try the King of Averon, the King of Zorran, the Prime Minister of Pors, dignitaries from Dorond, the Prime Minister of the Fleuritian people, several other Prime Ministers, or whatever, from several advanced cultures and anyone who hopes to jump on the 'trade with Corin bandwagon.'"
Ayah says, "Omigod! Justin, are you sure about the various attendees, particularly the advanced culture people?"
"I got a netmail from the Fleuritians. I also got a netmail from the Zorranian government. I'm talking with people from Averon. There'll be a cast of thousands, well, at least many hundreds. Unfortunately, Fori Novor just can't support thousands."
Ayah sighs and asks, "Justin, where are we going to put them all? The hotels here are booked quite a ways in advance with tourists. We were going to have trouble squeezing in just the few that I mentioned before."
"Ayah, in the very near future you're going to be contacted by the people in Averon who run the giant cruise ship, 'The Emperor of the Sea.' The dignitaries will mostly stay on the big cruise ship. The reception will be held on the big cruise ship, as there's really no place big enough in Ololo."
"Justin, we can't just tell Norva where her wedding is to be."
"Of course not. Norva's wedding will be in the place of her choosing. However, the reception will be on board the cruise ship, simply because there's no place else in Fori Novor big enough to hold all of the guests. In the meantime, Norva will be far too busy to handle all of the details by herself. You'll handle the details, through your company, at the standard commission rate. You'll be assisted by my Bank of Fori Novor people. The greetings will be polite and formal, as one would expect from The Islands. However, there'll be an underlying theme to the availability of accommodations. The theme is, 'Money talks, what would you like to say?' There'll be commercial people from both on and off Corin. They'll come to wish the two love birds a happy ever after. They'll also come to talk to the King who controls trade with Corin, The Islands and Zaya. I'll need the biggest stateroom that 'The Emperor of the Sea' has and several more staterooms for the Bank of Fori Novor staff."
Ayah asks, "Justin, why does all of this trade stuff have to be part of Norva's wedding?"
"Ayah, Corin is still officially a primitive planet. Off worlders can't just come here to Corin to discuss business. However, a wedding is a different matter."
"Easy for you to say, what do you think that Norva will say?"
I tell her, "It'll be necessary to restrict those who can visit Fori Novor during the time of the wedding. Only those with confirmed room reservations will be permitted airplane reservations for Fori Novor. Only those with confirmed boat docking reservations will be permitted to land on Fori Novor. Only those with confirmed stateroom reservations will be permitted from off planet. The entire reception will be paid for by the guests who attend the reception, since there's no way that the Colonel and Norva could possibly afford the extravaganza. Also, there's no way that Norva will willingly serve as the ringmaster of the circus. Once you talk to her about the problem, she'll understand. She won't like it at first, but she'll understand once the whole situation is explained to her."
Ayah says, "I can see what you mean. It seems that I'll need to handle the interface with Norva."
"Ayah, it wasn't by chance I called on the Lady Ayah to handle the biggest wedding in the history of Corin. The love birds just have to say 'I do!' The Lady Ayah will need to be the ringmaster of the circus, as there's nobody else half so qualified. I'm depending on you to be able to say 'Hell no' to some very high powered individuals and get it to sound like, 'We're very sorry,' but still mean 'Hell no.'"
Ayah replies, "It's going to be a lot of work."
"I know. However, it'll, also be a lot of profit for your business during the wedding event and also after, since you'll get a lot of free advertising during the wedding event."
"Yes, there's that. I'll be busy, but maybe a little rich. Is there anything else you need me to do?"
I answer, "Yes, three things. First, the King of The Islands and Zaya needs a place on the bride's dance card. The same needs a place on your dance card and the same also needs some advice on a wedding gift. I was thinking of a silver tea service, made with the finest silver from the North of Zaya and with the Zayan royal crest for decoration."
"I hadn't thought of that last. The wedding gifts from that many people will be overwhelming."
I say, "Yes, Norva should really set up a gift registry with your company to cut down on the number of duplicates. Of course, the reception food and beverages won't be a problem."
"Not on board a cruise ship."
"I'll leave things in your capable hands."
Ayah says, "Right. Ah, Justin, you aren't planning on conquering any new Kingdoms in the next month or so?"
"Don't worry, I wouldn't miss the wedding of two of my favourite people for the world. Well, maybe for the whole world of Corin, but only for that!"
"Oh, by the way, Norva wanted me to tell you that the PCP and some sort of organization of the advanced civilizations has managed to get the Arquellians to agree to pay for the construction of a Temple of Vorell on the site of the old Sea Point church."
"Excellent! Please tell Norva how pleased I am. I know that getting the Arquellians to agree must have been a lot of work for her."
Ayah says, "I'll certainly tell Norva. I'm also a bit involved. The High Priest is still undergoing treatment for the wounds he received during the destruction of the temple in Alvaro. Several of us have been assisting the High Priest with the details of the construction of the new temple."
"I do appreciate the efforts of all of you who choose to help the High Priest. I think that you'll find your efforts repaid by the effects of the teachings of the temple on the younger people of Fori Novor."
"I hope so. There are several new Priests recently arrived in Fori Novor. On the surface, they seem like pleasant, dedicated young men, but they do tend to emphasize a certain aura of violence."
"The Priests of the Temple of Vorell are savage hand-to-hand fighters. They'll defend their temple literally to the death. Of course, they train in their fighting arts. However, they defend only. If they're left alone, they only teach the wisdom of My Lord Vorell."
"Yes. I have noticed changes in several of the younger relatives of my own employees. They attend informal worship sessions, although the new temple isn't yet built. They seem to be improved by the instruction they receive from the Priests. However, several of the young men wish to become Priests of the Temple of Vorell, perhaps more for the hand-to-hand combat thing, rather than the religious aspect."
"Don't worry. I have had some contact with the Priests of Vorell. They're entirely dedicated to the temple and they'll not train hoodlums. Ah, have there been any negative comments about the Priests of the new Temple of Vorell?"
She asks, "Do you mean the Reverend Amash?"
"Well, the Reverend is a very good man, dedicated to his work and his beliefs. I'm hoping that he doesn't see the new temple as a threat to his own religion."
"The Reverend is very polite and very correct regarding the new temple. I suspect that he may be a bit unhappy that the younger people here in Fori Novor are trending more toward the Temple of Vorell, rather than his church. However, the Reverend continues to tend to his own flock and at least expresses the view that he's glad to see the younger people in Fori Novor at least receiving some religious instruction rather than, ah, ..."
I interject, "Rather than a path straight to Hell?"
"Well, the Reverend Amash would never say that, however, he might feel something like that."
"Give Norva, the Colonel, the High Priest and the Reverend my best. I'll see all of you again at the wedding. Oh, will the Priests of Vorell be involved with the wedding reception?"
"I don't know. I'll have to inquire. Do you think they might involve themselves?"
"I don't really know. Normally, they confine their activities strictly to the temple. However, since they have a temple, largely through the efforts of Norva, they may seek to participate on some level. It would be well if they were queried regarding their intentions. They can very effectively serve as a security force. Their art is not all that different from Loro and they can remove troublemakers quietly and efficiently."
Ayah says, "Another task for my list."
"If I can assist you with communications with the High Priest, just let me know. I have really had no contact with him, past the conference in Mervon, but I did see to his hospital care. I might have some sort of minor influence with the man."
"I'll keep that in mind."
I say, "I'll see you at the reception, at any rate."
"OK, I'll keep you up to date."