The access to the Gods is not limited. This is not a single tiny child’s loaf being divided up among millions so that every person obtains a single crumb, or some starve. This is as many whole loaves, each one to feed a working man, as there are millions. Radas explained very carefully that the Gods, unlike mortals, understand both the infinite and the eternal.
When it comes to Their regard, Their love, Narilla told me that it is as if there is infinite attention available for every individual. Infinite love for the asking... every person, every animal, every vibrating speck of creation. So for me to fear that the Ten loved that solas more than me was as valid as a four year old being afraid of falling off the Earthsphere because it ceased to like him.
It is a mortal thing to clip everything, physical things, feelings and happenings, everything into pieces. This not that. This much, no more. This is inside. That is outside. This is above that. That is below this. This is named. This is unnamed. It is what defines us. Mortality is an apportionment of time and one reason it is precious to us. But it is also a weakness. It raises the idea of scarcity and limits. If one person has this much, we believe there will be less for someone else. but that is a madness we inflict on ourselves.
The Gods work in increments of infinite, as well as the reverse.
I held my breath. He was Arkan. One of my people who I had learned to love against all odds, against all reason. “Do you know his name?” I whispered in an aside to Idiesas.
“Metkias,” he whispered back. “Metkias Atimistas.”
“Thank you,” I said. I had to remind myself that this man was one of my people. An alien idea to the vast majority of Arko that I should belong to them. This was his risk to take but I wanted him to be safe. Metkias could think what he liked of me, anything from hatred to merely upset that I was Aan, or angry that I would try to claim this power... it all didn’t matter. It could not change what I felt. I wanted him to be safe. On the deepest level he and I were brothers, separated only by the superficial influence of time, a miniscule klick in the eyes of the Ten. His spirit... Ten, please keep my brother, Metkias Atimistas safe, as he attempts this most holy of tests.
He flung himself into the full solas prostration, palms and forearms smacking on the Marble, and when he got up it was with humility and grace. The great broom that Anae held came to him and he danced her ten steps, cradling the symbol of the lowest work as if it were steel or gold.
The broom settled back into the Goddess’s hands with a click similar to the one when the Temple doors opened, thrumming up through the soles of the feet. He turned to Oas and the choir’s voice rang high, not singing in words, just sound. The great stone lowered to the Temple floor, settling the last hand span with a boom that shook some of the watching, standing children off their feet.
I saw Metkias brace himself, set himself to do the impossible. He tenderly laid a hand on the stone as if it were a horse he was gentling or a dog that could savage him. He bent and positioned his hands to lift and his muscles hardened as his breath burst out of him in a long hiss.
It was impossible but my heart went out to him. Then I saw it, the stone shifted. It lifted. A fingerwidth, three... a full palm high. The crowd cried out, an incredulous shriek. He lifted and the stone came up, held high. He danced Oas’s steps underneath the stone as the choir chanted the holy work hymn. The stone came down with another boom and Metkias stood, flexing his hands. His tunic was soaked dark, almost transparent with sweat.
He shook himself out and straightened, staring straight up the nave into Muunas’s gaze. Like a man reporting to a commander, he stood with what I saw as longing before his eyes dropped from the High God’s regard, and turned to the dekinae attending. “I surrender the test. This is where I must, in honour, cease.” As solas his God is Aras. Is he somehow drawn to Muunas?
“All praise, to the attempt. Praise the Ten,” the dekinas said and laid a hand on his shoulder to escort him to the door.
“Praise the Ten,” he answered, with the prayer sign. The crowd cheered him as he walked out in honour.
The drums began their wild pounding once more and every eye in the Temple turned to me.