Friday, February 20, 2015

72 (733) - Sing, Hair! Sing, Stone!

The new part of the Temple echoed with the brooms of the last sweepers, cleaning up after the builders.  The glass panels in the roof were almost the same colour as the vaulting marble panels as the rain sheeted over them. Matthas’s hands opened and the paint brushes he’d fervently clung to clattered onto the floor, leaving sticky red smears on the white stone where they fell.

There were galleries on either side, three storeys tall, matching the older Temple roof. The end of the hall was a painted relief carving showing the Great Hall as if the marble were transparent, from behind Muunas all the way to the great doors. The hallways on both sides led to the blank phantom doorways where, days ago, Matthas had traced the great door frames on the other side. On this side, the doorways showed identically, with the blank walls of marble under the lintels.

Radas and Narilla watched just behind Matthas who stood in his robe, weaving in place where he stood.  “Almost finished,” he said.  “They’ll have to sweep up more. Anae sweep. Sweep me up, sweep me clean, polish me, clear me away out of the way to do the work,” he muttered to himself.  Atzathratzas, in a scribe’s crouch behind, faithfully recorded every word.

“Matthas… Taken Up… perhaps you should rest?” Narilla said quietly.

“Soon,” he said vaguely and went to the phantom doorway on the right. “I can’t reach… I need…” He reached for a sweeper’s broom, grabbing it right out of her gloves, spat on the bristles and flailed the anointed broom up over his head as far up as he could reach.  He grabbed the jar of water Atzathratzas held for him, swished a mouthful around his mouth to soak the broom, and swept the marble inside the door frame, spat again in the centre of that wall, wandered over to the other door and repeated the performance, trailed by the Fenjitzas and the Fenjitza and the hapless cleaner who caught up the broom when Matthas dropped it.

“There.” He turned in a circle, looking around the new wing, eyes darting around from soaring archway to sweeping columns.  “Knock the stone out and you’re done,” he muttered, as if to himself. He tottered, straightened as Atzathratzas reached to steady him, shook his head hard, as if to shake a fly out of his head.  “Get rid… rid…”

“The stonemasons are coming,” Narilla said, softly.  “I called them.”

“Don’t need… masons.  Chisels… ha… hammers.” He started laughing then, wandered to the first doorway and raised his hands as he laughed, poking them straight into the marble.  The seemingly solid stone crumbled away from his prodding fingers.  “Temple makes itself, grows itself, excellent vibration, crumble, sing stone!  Sing!” He began hammering on the wall with his fists in time to his yells of ‘SING!’ ‘SING!’ and the rock rang and sang and shook itself apart.  “Edges! Edges. Thin as hairs.  Oas consume. Hairs… Sing, hair!  Sing Imbas! Mella remove and gather up. Crush the root of the world Anae, make dirt for all of us to grow in.”

Narilla made to follow but Radas held her back with one hand as Matthas stepped into the crumbling wall, the dust billowing up, swirling around and around gathering up all the white powder. The sweepers were all backed up, away from the Fenjitzae and the Taken Up and his keeper.  They sang prayers as the wind rose in the new hall.   

As they sang, Narilla saw the stone in the other doorway shiver and begin to crumble without assistance.  She raised her voice in the high notes called Anae and Mella’s Glory and heard Radas’s bass rumble of prayer supporting her.

“Yes! Sing!” Matthas shouted from inside the obscuring cloud of dust, and every sharp, clear high note struck the walls like picks and chisels; the suddenly friable stones shivering into powder and were swept up into the heights of the Temple. An enormous shudder shook the building, like a dog settling its coat into place.  The marble power swirled up and poured into the ceiling, suddenly sucked away as though the whole building had inhaled to consume the excess marble.

Water cascaded from one doorway and fire roared in the other, filling in the space where Matthas stood. The streams of water flooded around one side of the hall and fire tendrils lashed the other and when they met at the back, with an enormous crash, the whole room filled with steam. Atzathratzas cowered over his paper covering his head, Radas grabbed Narilla and even as he crouched over her she covered his head with her hands. The sweeper’s mouths were all open, screaming, unheard in the cacophony.

Then it was gone. The new hall was now part of the Temple. The steam evaporated, leaving the stone gleaming clean, the doorways on either side open to the Sanctuary and the choir’s massed voices soared, unobstructed.  “Did… no one else see or hear that?” Atzathratzas whispered, straightening, then bent his head to scribble a description, paused, and followed the Fenjitzae.

Radas let Narilla go and they ran to where Matthas lay, now on the threshold of the new doorway, his feet in the new part, his hands outstretched over his head, lying in two hand prints in the gold tile of the sanctuary.

They lifted him up, limp as a wet towel, and Radas held him, as Narilla felt at his neck.  “He’s still alive.  He needs to be put to bed.”

“I believe his function is finished,” Radas said.  “We’ll find out when--- if he wakes. Atzathratzas… you’re about to fall on your face yourself.  Go to bed.”

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