Dekinas Itasas stood in the midst of the Temple building site, grateful to be a priest in these times. “Is it building itself? Or are the Gods helping us?” The okas all around him, working with reverent fear didn’t pause to gaze at him as he raised Mikas’s Level, the golden one from the Sanctuary itself. Next to him the Acolyte recorder just shook his head, keeping his attention locked on Matthas, once Mahid.
The man stood in the middle of the chaos, swaying back and forth as if the builders moving around him were breezes and he, a flag. His eyes were closed but his hands suddenly darted out to touch a stone being carried past him.
The okas team, carrying the monstrous lintel stone with leather straps around their shoulders and forearms, paused a moment.
“Did you see that?” Itasas said, cradling Mikas's Instrument in the crook of his elbow.
“No, Holiness. What did the exalted see?”
“Equal to equal lad... My humble professional God! His hands glowed for a moment! I’m certain of it!”
The stone carriers began to smile and straightened, either they were strengthened or the stone was somehow being made lighter. They began the climb up the rampway to the now towering walls of the new wing of the Temple. It was an important stone they carried, the roof support over a set of rose windows that would let the light strike through the hall that was behind the main Sanctuary. Overnight, just two nights ago, tall, vaulting archways had appeared on either side of Muunas and Selinae, matching corridors being built on the other side, but they weren’t open. The walls inside those arches were still solid. Which was a good thing since the roof wasn’t quite on the new temple wing.
The building teams rushed to enclose the space before the next winter rain blew in. Working in the rain was miserable enough with brick; polished marble slabs grew nearly slick as oil or ice.
Matthas twitched and shuddered where he stood, staggered sideways and leaned over to lick one of the stones on a pallet about to be lifted to the top of the wall. Okas and fessas studiously ignored him, checking in their path if he wobbled into their way, but not looking at him.
He paused to wiped a smear of foam from the corner of his mouth, straightened and turned to the water carrier, wordlessly holding out his hand for another dipper of water.
The new lintel slid into place as if lifted by Imbas and guided by Mikas’s hand. The carrying team and the receiving team cheered, flinging bits of the okas’s praise prayers up mixed with their laughter.
“He’s not saying much,” Atzathratzas said. “Except in his sleep.”
The Taken-up drank four dippers of water before surrendering the tool, moved back out of the way of the nearest design table and sat down, face in his hands.
“He’s getting better,” Itasas said.
“He smiled at me yesterday,” Atzathratzas said. “I wrote that down because I thought it was important. Exalted... He spoke nearly a page last night, see?” He proffered the page to Itasas.
“...reworking the working sanctuary. Expanded population service, Risae protocols. Disease parameters transformed. Oh thou who fly in the face of the Void, gilded by the Sun Himself, Muunas is the Highest, Oh, thou God in the Stars and Moons and Planets, I am but a butterfly in the face of the Sun. A hundred million of me would not fill your brightness. I am tired, oh Ten, Selinae, Mother of my spirit, help me, save me from this onyxine, this emptiness.”
“You write that he was quiet for nearly three beads.” Itasas said mildly. “You aren’t staying up so you don’t miss a word, are you?”
“No, Holiness. I am just set to wake if he starts talking.”
“Excellent.” Itasas went to his knees, setting the page down, as everyone paused in their work and raised their hands to their temples for the noon observance, the faint chant of the choir inside the old Temple sanctuary echoing through the workers all over the inside of the new building.
“Look,” Atzathratzas whispered. “It grew while we were praying.”
“You’re right,” Itasas whispered back. “That almost finished wall, is now finished.” The master builder just shook his head and rolled up his top drawing, exposing the next and began calling for roof beams.
Itasas picked up the page again.“...Thou Ten the first taken up, the first saved, the most Holy of the One, Kahara, All Gods are one and we are many, we contain multitudes. Our prayers are for wholeness yet we are smashed as glass. Fires of God melt my shattered edges together, make me a seamless reflection of All, my wings flash and we are, I am, here. Neural edges reformatted subsection Imbas, lifter, Mikas’s Source...source code 678... sleep...”
He went over and laid a compassionate hand on Matthas’s shoulder. The Taken-up took a deep breath, shuddered and slapped a hand around Itasas’s wrist. “Don’t slow me down, Dekinas,” he rasped. “There is a deadline which you do not know.”
Matthas flung Itasas’s hand off his shoulder and rose to stagger over to the first stacks of roof tiles, ready to be carried up the instant the stone beams were in place. He began painting the names of the Gods on each separate tile a shining trail of blood following his finger.