It Began at the Water

It danced there, on the sand, on the water. The wind howled and sang a melody for it, and it kept time by naming the beats of the two-headed drum: dhinak dhinak dhin dhin dha, dhinak dhin...Was it a woman? Was it a man? Now yes, now no, now, perhaps. It was white. It flickered.

It was a god.

They could tell by the way it moved, or didn't move: the way its scarves hung stiff as paper in the thrashing sea airs until it turned its eyes to them; the way it would strike a pose and then suddenly be uncoiling from a different one; they saw it in the pale flash of its eyes and the lazy extension of its limbs. It flickered. They stood behind the dunes and the trees and watched.

Most of all, they could tell it because it was more a performance than a performer; a painting of a dancer. It flickered, and it smudged.

The hush of admiration for a god's unleashed beauty became a hush of impatient preparation, as the god ascended to heaven on the crest of a silver hill. They had noticed, at last, that as its feet touched the sand as it danced, as it threw shells from its hands, all these things were glazed with a layer of whiteness. Everything the god touched was turning into pearls.

Árichesja Raven-Swallows-the-Sun later said of the theophany, "That was when the war began."


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