A full half of the Arkan Assembly stood in the Temple, most gaping at the chaos, turning where they stood. All they could see of Minis was his hair trailing over Muunas’s hand like a silk handkerchief. The eagles and the parrot… was that a second parrot as well? The parrots’ wings and the eagles mantled over Muunas’s hand as if over their own nests. White owls sat in Selinae’s hair above, adding to the shade, eyes shut tightly against the glare of sun.
The procession of pots being carefully brought from the Marble Palace drew more people to see and then the Forest Gate opened and a ten of Mahid horses, and a pair of silver dapple riding horses trotted out and across the square as if they were in procession and then they felt their way up the Temple steps as carefully as if climbing a mountain. No priest tried to bar their way and Ili followed along behind, with his friends.
Megan stood before Mikas and blue spheres and knives flickered in the air over her, as she juggled for the God, eyes closed. Matching her cascade across the Temple floor, Lixand juggled for Dimae, green spheres and his own knives.
Ilian Kallen sputtered up to the Fenjitzas and dipped a bow that could barely be called one. “Fenjitzas! What is this? What is this chaos?” He had to shout to be heard, as snowy white monkeys came chattering across the floor from Risae and clambered up to sit in the High God’s lap and in the folds of His robe, hanging off the nose of the Divine. The choir roared out a triumphant peal and started the next cycle of hymns, hammering on the Gates of Selestialis.
“The Temple and the sacred animals are trying to help the Imperator, Honourable Member.”
“These aren’t!—“ Ilian was forced to duck under the trailing fronds of an Arkanherb tree being carried in by two Marble Palace servants on a litter and placed by Risae’s feet. “—aren’t all sacred animals! It's UNDIGNIFIED.” He jerked his chin at the Mahid Blacks.
The Fenjitzas folded his hands, his gloves clenching hard on his sleeves, though his face remained calm and attentive. “Excuse me Honourable Member, I believe the Temple is calling.”
Kyriala and the babies were ensconced in a fold of Selinae’s robe, at the same height as Muunas’s hand. Gan and Farasha sat at Muunas’s feet. The Fenjitzas took up a place by Aras’s pillars and removed his robe, to stand in his loincloth, fists ready to defend the peace. White hounds came to sit at his heels. Lixand continued his steady, glittering, silver and green fall of light and knives before Dimae.
People screamed as a white stag plunged wildly in the doors of the Temple and galloped through the milling crowd, miraculously not touching anyone before plunging to a stop beside Lixand. The stag turned and bellowed, sides heaving.
Illi sat, on the kahara mark in the centre of the Temple, the Mahid horses lying down around him, facing outward. Jia, on his head, was gold with pulsing white spots, while the Haian girl stood next to one of the horses, her hand on the mare’s poll.
The Fenjitza curtsey’d to Mikas and pulled out her silver metal fan and began to dance before the God, next to Megan who juggled on, a slight smile on her serene face.
“We shall overcome.” Inensa stood by Risae her poison garden spread in a sea of green around the Goddess’s feet, and around Mella’s feet as well. Two Arkanherb trees, on either side of her reached nearly to the Goddess’s waist. She raised her hands and then her voice with the choir. “We shall overcome.” Her eyes were on Muunas’s hand where her son lay. “We shall overcome… one day!” The crowd had their black handkerchiefs out, over their heads as they sang, throwing up their will to the Ten, that Minis not die under the Sun.
The four places before the lowest Gods stood empty, an aching hole that the celebrants struggled to fill with their voices, with the ancient, powerful old hymn, raised in desperate hope.
“We shall overcome one day!”
It wasn’t enough.