Matthas and Ilesias ran up the steps into the Temple and found that Oas, Anae, Imbas and Mella already had some people standing as avatars of God. The stone-workers that Matthas had worked with, building the new part of the Temple, the Imperial family’s households, led by the Marble Palace chamberlain. Professors and students from the University. The Marble Palace stable master and Tanifas.
The Mahid team… all of the women took up station with Inensa or before Mella and one… Melforasha, before Anae.
Boras and Tesha Riala Mahid tumbled off the dog, who slid between two horses and lay down practically in Ili’s lap.
“We’re HERE!” Tesha shouted, dancing in place, clinging to the dog’s ears to get her balance.
“Fix it, GODS! FIX IT, OH TEN!” Boras shouted, raising his tiny arms.
Ili stood up, carefully so as not to hurt the dog or the children. The choir fell silent. The crowd filling the Temple, old and new, held their breath. Even the animals were silent.
Then a single note from the glass harmonium slid down into hearing. Down, down, like a grace note falling from Selestialis till it rumbled and thundered. All over the Temple, driven by a united impulse, people pulled off their gloves and held up their naked hands to the sky. Some held black handkerchiefs. One, lone gold glittered in Ilian Kallen’s hand, until he looked all around and shame-faced and angry tucked it away. All other fingers reached up, somehow outlined in silver.
Ky’s hands were full, she held both babies on her lap and instead of raising her hands she raised her voice, singing a rising harmonic to the Temple’s tone. Ili’s treble joined her. Then the women. The men’s basses and baritones sang with the Temple. Voiced, wordless… Then the women’s notes began falling and the men’s began rising till, at the moment of noon, when the sun blazed down on Minis in his coat of fur on Muunas’s hand, met and the mighty, united voice of all Arko shook the city, and the crater and the lake.
At the bottom of the lake, the roots of the Temple, the core of Argos, responded. *Emergency protocols engaged direction Ark Co.*
Thunder rumbled through the Temple and lightning struck out of a clear sky, undiverted by the shattered ruins of the Lightning tower it touched the highest spire of the Temple.
Water flowed up through new channels that had been cracked before, to flow into the wrong part of the Temple, now directed correctly. From Mella’s outstretched hands fountains burst out that every God and Goddess statue echoed. Water flowed as Divine tears, out of beneficent hands. Minis stood up in Muunas’s palm as the animals, soaking wet, climbed or flew away to let him rise. The water poured down on the Arkanherb trees that Inensa had had brought, ran through the leaves and flowers of the poison garden.
The water, infused, poured around Anae’s feet and from her upraised hand showered down again into Risae’s hands. *Buselasas pro takulshu toff deenay mod eefika shun replik ashun kannibas ind ika sub speesees Imperial Gold* The Temple’s words were barely audible as the crowd held the note.
Minis, soaking wet, thin, barely able to stand, held up the seals. The rain in the Temple stopped and the water retreated to the pool at Anae’s feet and the fountain flowing quietly, calmly, from Mella’s hands. Thunder rumbled again and the single note song of Arko stopped.
“The answer to our problem of bearing,” Minis said, his voice rolling out. “Has been solved.” He held out his hands, and pointed. “These arkanherb trees are now the medicine to cure this illness. Anae cleansed, Mella provided, Risae created. Blessed be the Ten.”
“Blessed be the Ten,” came the response. Then Bella and the other dogs stood up and shook themselves wildly, re-soaking the crowd who exclaimed, laughed, began cheering, waving the black handkerchiefs that called for the end of Ordeal, hastily re-doning their gloves, embarrassed.
Everything in the Temple was wet. The mice around his feet, sat, bedraggled, beginning to wash, the eagles shook their feathers and the parrots. Even the owls were wet, sitting in Selinae’s hair, wings held out, dripping.
“Thank you, Arko,” Minis said looking out over the congregation who had saved him, saved themselves, wiping his face dry. “Our Ordeal is over.”
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