A dance of veils and blossoms is held at the temple of Shemena, the Maiden, in the burnished light of a spring afternoon, and there the priests dance with the adolescents who would soon be adults. Adult Ai-Naidar may laugh at their delight and be coaxed by the priests into spreading the coral-colored flower petals on the blond stone of the temple stairs, softer than new skin and yet already browning at the edges.

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