Gik had another dream before he woke, of eating porridge the matron had made and given him. Since no one else was around, they spoke while he ate. They discussed what went into maintaining a cavern, and touched on how cleanliness improved efficiency and how cleaning and putting things in their proper place was a good way to serve the tribe. As the matron spoke an admonishment to clean the cavern as a last service to the tribe, Gik woke.

Surprisingly, there was no pain. He felt his arms and chest and abdomen, but it all seemed normal. He got up from where he'd lain beside the fire pit and looked around. Everything was a shambles, and even here there were the bodies of those who had died.

Not knowing what else to do, Gik decided to set the cavern to rights. It was the tribe's cavern after all, and even with all the rest dead it would still be good to have it clean and functional.

No longer hampered by injuries, Gik moved from room to room, carrying or dragging all the things which had been broken by the strangers. He took everything to one of the bigger caves which the Sorcerers had used to burn things that didn't work anymore.

After the things, he started to separate the bodies from the still useful clothes or weapons or tools or jewelry. He also set aside the armor. Much of it was cut or pierced, but he knew that some people had known how to repair it. Again, room by room, he cleared all the bodies and laid them atop the pile of broken stuff.

Not being able to call fire like the Sorcerers could, Gik thought on how to remove all the broken stuff and bodies.

Going back to the living areas, Gik went through the clothes. He folded and put aside the silk and leather, and took everything else to the burning cave. He made a pile he hoped would burn long enough to set the broken furniture alight.

Then, he went to the tribe's little temple where oil lamps were kept lit before the statue of Kurtulmak. He refilled one lamp, set aside one jug of oil, and took the rest to the burning cave. There, he doused everything with the rest of the oil, emptying out the other lamps, and lit the rags with the burning wick of the last lamp he emptied.

It all seemed to catch fire quickly enough, but he watched a while to be sure the wood of the furniture caught. Once he was sure the cleaning would happen, he went back to sort through what was left of the cavern.


By evening, Gik had put the tools and weapons back where they belonged, and put the folded silk and leather clothing in the storeroom. He also put the armor he'd taken from the bodies there. He put it all in neat piles.

By the end of the day, Gik had made the cavern functional again. Much of the furniture was gone, burnt now, but at least it was no longer in the way. The spilled blood and such had dried by now so Gik didn't bother with it.

It was strange how big the cavern felt with no one else in it. It had always seemed a cozy place filled with family to Gik. Now it looked huge and strange, both echoing oddly and full of an unaccustomed silence.

Returning to the burning room with clay jugs, Gik collected some of the embers. Everything seemed to have burnt down well. He couldn't tell if there was anything left unburnt, and he didn't know what to do with the ashes (none remained after the Sorcerers called fire for clean-up), but the cavern was much cleaner than it had been.

Returning to the kitchen with the embers, Gik dumped them into the fire pit. There was some vegetable and meat left but Gik did not feel hungry. Instead, he curled up by the again-warm fire pit and tried to sleep. Despite the day's hard work, Gik had a hard time falling asleep in the never before known silence of the unpeopled cavern.


The next day, Gik woke ravenously hungry. Using the remaining embers to light a fire with some of the fire wood, Gik boiled up a bowl of stew with some vegetables, meat, and barely.

Then, after carefully banking the embers so they would burn through the day, he went and refilled the last lamp in the temple.

Afterward, he went around the cavern, closing off the entrances as best he could and resetting what traps remained. There was no one left to protect, but it felt good to him that at least a little bit was the way it should be.

The rest of the day he wandered around the cavern, not knowing what else to do, remembering all the people and the shared work.

When he felt hungry again, he went back to the kitchen and made some more stew. It was so strange, to cook for oneself, and to eat alone. It was nice to be able to eat as much as he wanted, but it was so lonely. It had been much better to have only half-portions but eat then with his work team.

After cleaning and putting away the pot and bowl and knife and spoon, Gak curled up again by the fire.

His last real memory of the cavern was like his first, working in the kitchen, with the cooking and cleaning and putting away.