I was holding my breath, even though I knew it was coming… or something like it and I grabbed Gan by the arm as he surged forward as if to stop Chevenga from doing this.
There was a puff of fine smoke around His hands and arms and the smell of burnt hair, but the molten glass did no more than evaporate the hair on His arms as it flowed over His hands and forearms, a shining casing of glass.
“Shh, shh, He's fine. This is part of it… like the first time He did this.” I jerked my head toward the wall of glass hands. “His glass hands are up there with all the other Imperators.”
Gan’s eyes were open very wide. “Aigh, ayo, ayo, aigh, am I in a dream?”
“In a way. Inside the Temple is the God’s dreams…” Chevenga raised His arms and began to pull coloured glass into the shape He was forming. Green and blue glass and white… it was a sphere of fine threads swirled glass perhaps the size of a person’s head… was it solid? How was He holding the weight like that? Gold glass flowed onto it from His drawing finger. “Oh, Ten, it’s beautiful… it’s… it’s an Earthsphere… seen from the stars!” Like the painting in the Imperial Book. I caught my breath, watching this hot, glowing ball of coloured glass form in His hands. My eyes were full of tears again. “Last time…” I swallowed hard. “Last time according to the report I read, He formed a bird in flight.”
“Ayo! Oh I wish we could have seen that! I’m glad we’re here!”
My throat closed up as Chevenga held up the glowing, cooling piece of artwork in His right hand. The curtain of glass flowed down His arm and over him as he began to step through, Imperator’s crystals forming in the curls of his hair. Risae's seal on his brow smoked away, leaving it clean.
“All those glass hands… they all did this.”
“Yeah. There’s some who failed here. It’s not pretty when they do.”
“Oh, yuck. I bet.” The descriptions of hands burned off was very graphic. Chevenga stepped through the glass, parting the molten curtain with His left hand, without harm. His eyes were already fixed on the Goddess Dimae, even as He set the spun glass Earthsphere He’d made down on the Temple floor.
“Hey, he's got things like snowflakes coming off his head, how the fik?
“That’s The Imperator's glass, for us, the witnesses. If you can pick one up from the floor you’re allowed to keep it… or if you touch His hair afterward you can get one. People are allowed.”
“You mean right off his hair? I don't know if I can get that close. I don't think I dare.”
“People turn them into jewellery. Take one that falls off... they'll come off Him in a shower in a minute. Those jewels they wear only to Temple after.” Chevenga shook Himself and the glass snowflakes flew though not all were shaken free. Ili caught one in both hands, laughing and Gan scooped up two that fell on the floor right at our feet.
“You can’t bend down and pick it up, with Ili up there. I got it for you.”
I almost didn’t want to take it. For a moment I wondered if I had the courage to trust the God so much I would put my hands in molten glass. The tears in my eyes were making it hard to see. I couldn’t let them fall. I was looking through a pool standing in my eyes. If I blinked they’d spill. I couldn’t help it, and felt the hot trails of emotion down my face. Oh, my ancestors. I was to do this. My father took this away from me. He destroyed this for me even before I was born. Because he was corrupt and evil and made me so.
Chevenga offered his hands toward the Solas Goddess. “I give myself.” The choir in the loft above began Dimae’s Hymn and with a crack the glass encasing His left hand split perfectly in half and fell to the floor without breaking. He turned in place and then, rather than the slow, careful dances to the other Gods, He ran. He ran Dimae’s pattern on the Temple floor.
He ran the Huntress’s pattern on the floor… flying through the changes as though He pursued someone, or something, and the Temple called up a drum from somewhere, a massive sound like a heartbeat. I hadn’t realized that the God of Dyers was Dimae but it made sense. As He leapt and spun we ended up clapping and stamping to the beat and it grew faster as He went.
His leaps seemed bigger, slower, swooping leaps that shouldn’t have been possible and then He leaned as though in a hard wind, arms out and swept back and He began to smoke… as he came to the last frantic bound His hair and kilt burst into flames with a ‘whuff’.
“AAAIIIIIGH!!!! SOMEONE PUT HIM OUT!!!” But the Yeolis barely had time to scream before the flames whiffed out. His loincloth was gone. He stood naked and His hair was perhaps a trifle shorter… still with gleaming stars of glass in the curls.
"SEVEN TEN! SEVEN TEN!" The crowd chanted as one.
"SEVEN TEN! SEVEN TEN!" The crowd chanted as one.
“There are three more Gods, Gannara. Take a big breath. More stuff like this is going to happen.”
“Ohhhh my kahara, is it all, like, magic tricks? Or am I dreaming the whole thing?”
I glanced away from Chevenga for a moment, annoyed. Then I took a deep breath. How would he know? I looked back to the Imperator and tried hard to set my anger aside. He was facing Aras now, naked but for a right arm covered in glass and His hair full of glass stars.
“Sorry,” he said, realizing I was truly angry.
“No, Gannara.” But I couldn’t help adding, “If I were at the Kiss of the Lake and kept asking it's a trick, isn't it, would you be ticked at me?
“I said I'm sorry! The Kiss of the Lake… is much more straightforward than this!” Chevenga… had no kilt and as He stood between Dimae and Aras it was very obvious that He was excited. His erection was clear, standing up in the nest of black curly hair between His legs. I almost couldn’t look. “I guess he’s not suffering,” Gannara said.
My own vile organs stirred and I caught and held my breath. No. No. Not here. Not now. No. Sinimas Aan help me, no! This is a sacred space, don’t let my evil come out here! I clenched my eyes shut for a moment and things subsided, but I didn’t want to miss a heartbeat of Chevenga’s second Ten Tens, so I pried them open again and tried to ignore my subsiding ugliness.
Chevenga faced Aras, His face calm again and the glass shattered off His right hand with a ringing sound as if it were struck.
“Blade?” He was speaking to the God. “I’m unarmed.” His face changed to a look of shock and He staggered. “I… give You myself,” He said and fell to His knees.