There was no country Évretas Iketemar despised more than her own. Her comrades-in-arms she found dull, unconcerned with art, with anything of the higher or the divine, their lives lost in their endless buzz of prosaic work. Their practices - their beliefs and their rituals, their songs and their dances, their rites and their celebrations - she found even duller.
Liris's doctrine of austerity had stripped away all beauty and intricacy from their lives, leaving everything blunt and gray and uninteresting. Marriages, to what extent they existed at all, were meaningless, mechanical recitations; there was nothing to them, no emotion, no tenderness, no worship, apart from those motions and words that were absolutely necessary to make them valid in the eyes of whatever authority was conducting them. Funerals were much the same, reduced to the act of burial or cremation, comprised of nothing but that which was necessary to get rid of the dead body, itself reduced to nothing more than a vague unpleasantry.
It was all so unsentimental, and it was killing her, for her own life was all art and motion, brought to life in wild sound and music. It was energy and excitement, an eternal, elevated striving to capture the higher Forms as best as she could; it was the antithesis, in its entirety, to the ever so horribly ordered society in which she lived.
To be given the opportunity to leave, and be paid - paid! - for so leaving, then, even if only for a day, was, for her, something close to deliverance. And the Festival of Veles would, she was sure - she could already picture it in her mind's eye, ecstatic, wild, colorful dances around a great, roaring fire, a tall statue, jeweled and sparkling, carved ornately, with care and with unfathomable devotion, looming in the background, watching, standing guard over, all the wonderful, colorful, lively festivities - give her all that she wanted. Her cup would run over; it would more than run over.
What new pieces she would be able to write afterwards! She scribbled little, wild passages of song in her notebook, already hearing the fragments of little passages of the new music she was convinced would come to her rising out of the rites of the Rodnovery.
She had managed to convince the boring, workaholic ministers - Virejane, too much a utilitarian, and Laakonen, too much a man - to stay away. She would be - thankfully! - alone to admire the energy and artistry and, above all, whimsy of the Czech pagans.
Thus did she arrive in Litoměřice, gliding across the pavement, overcome with excitement, face alight with a smile as she took in the bright fire, the wonderful singing, the beautiful statue - all she had imagined, all she had wanted, and then more.