As I stepped up, my eyes locked on Dimae’s statue, I caught a faint chorus of “Six! Six Ten!” The crowd. Was I imagining it or could I hear Kyriala and Gannara and Farasha’s voices in the bedlam, “I/We love you!”
I could hear Bella barking, but that was impossible, the big-assed, once Mahid bitch was safely in the Marble Palace. But I could hear her booming, raw, impressive bark that rumbled out of her chest, saying ‘Pay Attention!!!” The statue, the Temple where was it? Where was my mark? I could not honour the Goddess with my hands both encased in glass. I needed one free but... there... in the woods? Where had woods come from?
I could not see the Goddess at all and all of a sudden I am surrounded by a pack of dogs, hunting dogs, all golden and there is the Doe with Horns.
I am a black dog, running with the pack, being bumped sideways by the alphas, tumbled and shoved to my place as we run and run... but I shouldn’t be black, running with these dogs, baying on the trail of the Divine.
She is there... now not hunted but running with us, golden dogs leaping over her back and under her belly between flashing hooves. We run and run and run, leaping over sykes and fences and streams, plunging into greater rivers, splashing a wave of foam around us, clambering up mountainsides and on our bums sliding, galloping sliding down the faces of desert dunes and it is all that is in us to run and run until we burst, run until all disobedience is burned out of us, run with the deer that should be our prey.
But today.... I must run and run... but I cannot. Dimae... Her name... Her Ten... I cannot lose my focus, as desperately as I wish to run... I am next to the Doe and I can see her eye with its purplish cast and the golden centre. She tilts her head sideways and I trip and stumble and am tumbled into her rack of horns and my forelegs are trapped and caught between tines.
I am rolled, breathless, wheezing where I’ve burst blood vessels to run with Divine golden hounds, blood bursting from my nose and I show Her my belly. Am I on the ground? Am I in the sky? Where am I? It doesn’t matter.
I offer Her my belly, to gore if She so desires but She is kneeling next to me, surrounded by the pack, rubbing, Her hand becoming the whole world. “So, you try to run with the big dogs? You’re barely a yearling yet, pup.” She smooths my bloody, foaming muzzle, clearing away the muck so I can breathe.
She holds up my feet and runs her hands over all four of them. “We’ve run some of that black off you,” She said.
“Taken some of that mud off your belly and your face.” Her Divine finger touched me just above the eyes and I knew that two golden spots appeared where her finger lay.
I was a black dog, with gold belly, feet and muzzle. I was a black dog with golden eyes that could see further than any normal eye could see.