An excerpt from a work in progress here at Panthera Press.
Two years and one day after my arrival, I was wed in a beautiful ceremony in Re’Kare, in an ancient temple that was once the tallest mountain on the planet. Its top was blown off in an ancient volcanic eruption, and the dead cone it left was converted by the earliest citizens into one of the first places of worship on the planet. The dead volcanic dome was almost perfectly cylindrical, with the eastern side rising fifty feet in the air and tapering to the western side, which was nearer to twenty feet. The Leratans cleared the volcano of debris and capped it with a breathtaking gorgeous, multilayered dome. The bottommost layer, visible to worshippers inside the temple was made of finely polished gold carved into elaborate designs that resembled flowers. In the dim lighting of the temple, they appeared gold, but in bright sunlight, each of the thousands of individual flowers shone like white gold or silver. Above that layer was some type of brass alloy that was allowed to tarnish to a deep black, with bits of the original coloring showing through. It set off the design below it wonderfully, and the small bits of color made it look like a starry night above the flowered sky. Topping the top, I am told was a structure of reinforced steel, and above that another layer of composite gold durable enough to withstand the weather, but bright enough to be seen from everywhere in Guta Re’Kare.
My wedding service was chosen for sunrise, which was when Lerato’s god came to visit. The eastern wall of the arced church was topped with horizontal windows, below which was polished metal shielding that reflected sunlight to the ceiling. On the western wall, similar windows were covered in painted glass with scenes of nature. The old temple had no artificial air, but holes carved into the stone walls allowed in the natural wind. The temples designers were truly artisans and filled some holes with reeds of differing sizes, while leaving the others bare. Dancing from the ceiling were metal chimes cut in the images of saints, spirits, and. other forms I assumed were abstractions of some divine nature I could not fathom.
At sunrise, just as the sun crept over the eastern mountain ridge beyond the temple, morning light gleamed through the clear, eastern windows, bounced off the reflectors and illuminated the golden flowers in the ceilings. Those in turn reflected the light back throughout the church, filling it with morning’s light and covering the worshippers with flowers made of morning light. The wind picked up just as my groom and I walked down the long aisle, and the church’s reeds began to sing with the wind’s song, a godly song of resonant basses and high harmonics. It was the loveliest song I’d ever heard, which made it frightfully difficult not to cry.
Our friends knelt on prayer rugs on either side of us, praying to their gods or smiling at us as we passed. I’d grown up and filled out by this point and walked down the aisle in my beautiful, flowing green wedding dress, though I must admit to being embarrassed by how big my bosom had gotten and the fact that Lady Vera wouldn’t let me wear a shawl to cover it. The gown flowed behind me, its long train decorated by flowered sunlight and the church began to hum the song the wind made. Above me, one hundred metal chimes began to turn, dazzling with light and tinkling magic that sounded like our gods’ best rainstorms. I was married there that day, with no one around who thought me wicked or foolish, in the only temple I’ve ever attended wherein when you sang to the gods, they came in and sang right back.