‘People of the Draake!’ called the High Priests, ‘turn now to your Lord and Lady and let your spirits call to them that they may bless us and we may give all due honour to them!’
Everyone on the western bank turned northwards towards The Range, while those on the east faced downriver towards the unseen sea, and the silence was filled with the desire of every soul for the Draake. Mo and Poeli told us later they’d found the silence hard because they couldn’t tell what was going on, but to Keari and I the people’s desire was a wave as tall as the mountains we gazed at, and as deep as the ocean into which the river flowed, and I was caught up by it until my own spirit cried out for I knew not what!
I don’t know how long we stood, our hearts yearning north and south, but suddenly I heard a faint rhythmic beat and saw something no larger than a speck approaching from the heights. Another sigh sounded around me and the desire became a heartfelt gladness.
‘It’s true! They’re real!’ I thought, utterly astounded at this unexpected revelation.
‘Cover your eyes and turn to the Great Square!’ whispered the acolytes nearest to us, and we hastily obeyed. I heard the beat of great wings drawing nearer and then realised more were approaching from the South. They met high above us, circled the town twice and then flew down and settled into the squares on either side of the river. My heart was beating almost as loudly as their wings, or so it felt, and I could hardly breathe.
‘The Lord of Fire comes to answer your call!’ a warm, dark voice seemed to sound across the world, and was answered by another, clear as liquid crystal and cool in its tones,
‘The Lady of Waters comes to answer your call!’
Then together they cried, ‘Our hearts are made glad by your love and honour.’ Somehow I knew they were approaching the Torfun and felt myself drawn aside so that the centre of the stairway would be clear. I heard feet mounting towards me and the voices called again, ‘We come to bless you, our people, the belovèd of the Draake.’
As the feet passed me I closed my eyes tightly not wanting to even glimpse them through my fingers, and was gently turned again until I was facing the Torfun’s centre and the Fire and Water.
‘People of the Draake, our people, once more on the Day of Days you have greatly honoured us by your love and desire. Lift your eyes and receive our blessing!’
Taking a deep breath I lowered my shaking hands, lifted my head and looked.
How is it possible to describe the indescribable? The Lord of Fire was more human than the statues [I had seen of him] but he was indeed covered with lizard-like scales, shading from red on his back to gold on his chest. His smaller pair of deep red wings was held against his thighs, and his larger wings, glowing bright red, were folded against each other down his back. His ears were pointed, and a red crest edged with gold stood erect from his shoulders. His tail, which had small spikes down its centre, was slender and flexible and hung to his ankles, but it was his face and in particular his eyes which were most remarkable.
The bones of his forehead and jaw were angular, rather square, his mouth wide, thin-lipped and mobile, his eyes were large, and a deep, glowing gold, flecked with brown. Gazing at him something within me stirred and yearned towards him.
The Lady of Waters was like him in form, but the blue-green scales on her body and crest were smoother, more fishlike, and her face more aquiline. Her eyes had a blue-green glow, her hands were more slender with longer fingers, and her tail had no spikes, and she drew a different yearning from me.
They raised their arms and spread their wings wide, their skin shimmering like shot silk, and we stood still and silent as they blessed the people. I could have gazed at them for hours, but at last they folded their wings and turned to us who stood around them. It seemed to me they were now communicating in some way with those who served them and my Sensitivity was almost overwhelmed by the power which surged back and forth across the Torfun.
And then the Draak Lord’s eyes met mine in loving greeting just as the Lady’s met Keari’s. We Sensed it together, and were lifted by delight and joy!