The Red Gorge is forbidden. Never go there.
That was the story Naget had heard since his childhood. Mothers insisted that the steep precipices and deep ravines were dangerous to the children. That part made sense. And although Naget had spent many hours wandering the plains west of the Red Gorge, he obeyed his mother and never ventured towards the edge.
Of course, now nearly into manhood, Naget found that the Red Gorge was forbidden by all in the village for much more superstitious reasons.
It began with the salvage runs with his father. There was more than enough scrap metal and electronics in the northeastern wastes to bring home. Traders from the West Mountains purchased the salvage with generous amounts of silver. Naget didn't care for their promises to unlock the secrets of civilizations past. Neither did father. If old salvage was worth that much and the traders weren't willing to brave the wastes, then why shouldn't they profit off their silver?
The wastes bordered close to the Red Gorge. Naget still remembered one of his first salvage runs with father, skirting the edge of the brightly orange and red rocks. The ruins were expansive along the edge, and with good reason. Whatever empires had dwelt here in recent centuries, they had enjoyed a spectacular view. Cliffs hundreds of meters high; twisted rock and canyons reaching towards the horizon. The land dropped out beneath them into a large pit of cracked earth.
And the rock was easy to climb.
Naget had made a habit of scurrying along the shallow gullies and easy to reach climbing places along the wastes. Father hadn't noticed at first, but when he finally did, those adventures soon came to an end.
"It isn't safe," father murmured, leading them deeper into the ruins.
"I am no longer a child," Naget protested. "I won't fall."
"Falling is the least of your worries, if a demon or an angel takes you from me."
Naget was surprised by the sudden outburst from father. He had never expressed a single belief in the old tales. And now the quick glances back towards the edge told Naget that there was a healthy fear for such stories.
The superstition was much more vibrant in the village. It didn't take too much on Naget's part to find those with loose lips, willing to tell of the demons and angels. But the stories were all meaningless and never the same twice. The only part consistent revolved around the peril of the Red Gorge. Whatever the story, whatever the monster, it lay dormant somewhere in the Gorge.
All silly nonsense.
Naget naturally began making his travels to the Gorge regularly, during off time from salvage hauls and when he wasn't needed at home. He wasn't missed, and no one suspected his interest in the Gorge. For the remainder of the warm season, Naget ventured deeper eastward down into the Gorge, exploring the empty canyons and dry sandstone.
Then, one morning, he discovered something new.
Setting out around the usual time, the sun barely peaking over the horizon, Naget made his way down a steep part, balancing on the rocks and cracks in the canyon wall. A flat lip of rock soon met him halfway down the edge, giving him a clear path to his left that would lead safely down to the bottom. It was the same path he took every single time he wanted to get to the bottom of the Gorge.
Today, out of curiosity, Naget shuffled to his right, bracing his body carefully against the sandstone wall. He had never come this way before, for the simple fact that the stone lip started to curve upwards, away from the canyon floor below. Wanting to see how far it climbed up, Naget almost missed the cave.
It was barely an inlet, but wide enough for him to walk straight in without brushing his shoulders on the sides. He expected it to be little more than a washout in the stone, where water had eroded away from years of drainage. He did not expect the large cavern within.
Small holes in the Gorge walls let in shafts of brilliant morning light. The air was cool and dry, no hint of disturbance since the last rainfall nearly two weeks past. Naget grinned to himself, pleased at the new discovery. He encountered small caves and inlets occasionally, but never one so big. Or so close to the surface.
Finally finding the back wall, he was surprised to find a corridor leading deeper into the rock. Naget may have returned to the village to smuggle a small electric light, but there was already light emanating from deeper within. Perhaps a hole in the top of the cave, missed above ground by most of the scavengers.
Naget pressed on, but the floor beneath his boots changed from sandstone to metal. Surprised, he tested it warily, the floor echoing with every step. The corridor wound around and into another cavern, this one smaller and dominated by a large apparatus along the back wall.
Naget froze on the threshold of the new room, stunned by the view before him. The light didn't pour in from a hole above, but shown from the strange machinery lining the back wall. A small, metal platform rose off the floor, providing access to the angular equipment. The exterior was dull gray, inlaid with dark surfaces punctuated by scattered points of blinking lights. The central component and purpose of the walkway appeared to be a large, tubular chamber made from translucent material.
And someone was inside.
There was nothing superstitious about the machinery before Negat. He had no fear as he tread forward inquisitively, marching the short staircase onto the platform. Up close, the composition of the equipment bore little resemblance to the scrap father and he regular hauled into the village. If this was a relic of the civilization before them, he could see nothing familiar in its make or design. The dark surfaces were smooth to his touch; the blinking lights glowing from deep within.
Touch pads, he surmised. An old form of digital interface. The traders from the west claimed they were redeveloping the lost art.
Moving to the hollow chamber, Naget placed both hands on the glassy smooth surface, peering inside. It wasn't as fogged as he had thought, allowing him a better view of the person inside.
It was a girl. She was young, perhaps a year or two his junior. Her body had not quite reached womanhood, but the right form and curves were there. She stood suspended in the tube, eyes closed and arms limp by her sides. Her long, light brown hair flowed in waves down around her shoulders. Her skin was bright porcelain, a bit of a strange complexion for someone in these parts of the waste.
Her clothing was the strangest matter. Her legs and arms were bare, her bosom and waist wrapped in metallic black material lined with creases and glowing blue lines. Her exposed midriff was covered in symmetrical patterns of the same substance, connecting from her top and bottom. A single broach of the similar fashion sat wrapped around her upper right arm, bearing a bright blue symbol Naget didn't recognize.
She was beautiful. Naget found himself gazing at her wistfully, wondering who she was and why she slept in such strange machinery. It was clear to him that her clothing was more machinery of sorts, but the make and function was beyond his scope. He had never seen metal so thin, woven with such intricate technology and function gently around the tender surface of flesh.
How long had she rested down here?
Naget returned to the cave everyday for the next month. He explored every nook and hiding place, testing the machinery and looking for ways to stir a response. All of his efforts were in vain. Nothing responded to his touch. The girl within remain unchanged day in and day out, perhaps as she had done for a century now.
More often than not, Naget found himself sitting cross legged on the platform, gazing in at her resting chamber. There were times he was tempted to bring father's tools down here to try to free her. Surely she was the last of her people. Would she have wished to sleep away the eternities, her friends and families long since lost? If she had ever known a lover, they too would be little more than dust in the ruins and wastes above.
Then one day, something mercifully changed.
Naget had found his way into the cave moments before on another daily visit. But today, one of the black touch-pads lit up. The glowing screen displayed a host of colorful symbols and imagery that made little sense to him. Things were at work within the once slumbering machine—electronics buzzed, moving parts thrummed and groaned, and a current of air rushed through Naget's short, golden hair.
Taking a step back, Naget blinked in surprise as the girl within stirred. Deep brown eyes flashed open, and her feet touched down lithely upon the surface within. A point of white light appeared at the top of the tank, flashing downward vertically to form a perfect seam in the glass. The two halves gently pulled apart, and the girl stepped out barefoot onto the platform.
Naget stood blank faced, shocked to stand a few scant centimeters from the girl with nothing between them for the first time. There was a tepid aura about her, as if her body radiated warmth and energy. Or perhaps that was the strange mechanical clothing she wore, which was now adjusting and changing before his eyes. Hidden parts from within moved and shuffled, covering the last of her midriff and reaching down over her legs, onto her feet where they formed into boots of sorts.
Her arms remained bare, and with one hand she reached out to touch Naget. Naget accepted her hand, a glowing warmth in her touch. Maybe she did radiate heat.
Then she retracted her hand quickly, speaking in quick bursts of a tongue Naget didn't recognize.
"Wait!" he exclaimed. "I don't understand."
The girl took a step back, wrapping her arms around herself as if she were suddenly cold. The sleepiness in her eyes had since faded, now replaced by suspicion. She hesitated for a moment, as if she did understand his words.
"Do you understand me?" he ventured.
"Yes," she replied, her tone cautious. "I do now."
Naget exhaled. Good. Because he had a lot of a questions. And that distrust in her gaze was hurtful. He wasn't here to harm her. Couldn't she see that?
"I have so much to ask you," he began.
The subconscious abyss of gamma-state had been blissful and tranquil as usual.
Yet Vyla always retained a semblance of temporal awareness within. A strange artifact, considering how much else gamma-state stripped of her. Either way, alone and engulfed in the blissful rest, Vyla sensed the deep passage of time as she awaited the summoning. It was a pleasure, resting from the previous summoning and regaining the lost years. A youthfulness that she had not enjoyed in millennia.
When the summoning had come, Vyla was ready for it. Her rest was complete; her joy full. When the breadth of gamma-state retreated further, returning her to true form, she would be more than eager and ready to return to her duties.
As it was, the initial awakening in her Equinox-Separator left her an adolescent girl confronted by an equally adolescent boy. Vyla shuddered, her privacy violated. Her meta-wrap retraced over more of her body, providing her with a semblance of modesty, but doing nothing for the boy before her.
He looked to be on the verge of manhood. Deep tan skin, but bright hazel eyes and equally bright golden hair. A strange mix for the scrawny kid. His wear was…rustic. Homemade from the looks of it; or done by a poorly equipped seamstress. Leather, patchy, and a mix of brown and earthly colors. Though it did look functional, and Vyla hated to admit that he wore it well, in a rugged masculine sort of way.
"I have so much to ask you," he had spoken, the gamma-state attuning her mind to the nuances of his native tongue.
"Not as much as I have to ask you," she snapped back. "What are you doing here? Who let you in?"
He held out a calming hand, and strangely there was a sort of longing in his eyes. Vyla hoped it wasn't for her body.
"There were no barriers," he said. "Nothing to keep me out. I didn't know there was anything— anyone in here."
"So you expect me to believe that you stumbled in here at this exact moment?"
The boy grinned sheepishly. So he wasn't telling the whole truth. Vyla should retreat back into the Equinox-Separator and let the gamma-state finish summoning her mind. The boy was clearly a native; there was no immediate danger to her. But in the haze of awakening, Vyla found herself curious. Well, and a little attracted by the stranger.
She wanted to see more while her mind was still simplified.
"I found this place about a month ago. The people in my village said the Gorge was haunted."
Gorge? Vyla forgot what the last geological feature was when she had bedded down for gamma-state hibernation. It could have been a gorge; she was having a hard time remembering at the moment.
"So I wanted to see for myself," the boy continued. "What I found was you. No ghosts; no demons. Maybe an angel, if that's what you are. But you were asleep, and so I came to visit every day in case you woke up. So…here we are."
Vyla couldn't help but grin at being called an angel. If the boy was trying to flatter her, it was certainly working. At least in this stage of the gamma-state.
Looking shyly off to the side in spite of herself, Vyla said, "You think I'm an angel?"
"Well, you are beautiful. And I've never seen someone who could sleep for so long. How long were you in there?"
Vyla shrugged, still grinning stupidly. Turning on her heels, she dropped down to sit on the platform, dangling her feet over the edge. To her delight, the boy settled down next to her, likewise letting his feet drop over the side.
"Can't remember right now," she replied, trying to be casual. "Definitely awhile; probably before you were born." She giggled. "Guess that makes you a child to me."
The boy chuckled. "If you say so."
She looked over at him, fidgeting nervously and trying to keep the adolescence in her under control. She should step back into the Equinox-Separator and complete the awakening…
The boy extended a cautious hand. "I'm Naget."
Vyla accepted the hand, grateful the custom seemed universal. She liked the touch of his rough skin. Definitely someone that worked in the sun. She wouldn't mind seeing him dressed down to meta-wrap. Just how deep did that tan run?
"I'm Vyla," she eventually replied, focusing her eyes on his bright hazels. "Vyla Starlash."
The boy appeared surprised. "You have two names?"
"More, I think. Can't remember right now. But you can call me Vyla."
Naget shook his head, gazing back out into the small cavern. She could see the multitude of unspoken questions brimming beneath. She didn't mind. "Why don't you ask me what else is swimming around inside your head?"
He snapped around to look at her, uncertain.
"C'mon, I won't bite. And I don't think you will, either."
He hesitated, but Vyla could tell it was because he was sorting through what to ask first. "You don't remember how long you were in there?"
"Not right now. But I will soon."
"Well…why were you in there?"
"To rest. To wait, mostly. Until I was needed."
"Needed by who?"
Ah, now they were getting into tricky territory. A lot of the specifics of her identity and purpose remained locked up in higher reasoning, still awaiting access by the gamma-state. Vyla retained the basics—if danger ever attacked while she was in the Equinox-Separator, she would need limited functionality to respond. But her core identity and self remained aloof, leaving her with this star struck adolescent girl that found herself fawning over strange boys that probably worshipped her as an angel.
She knew she was better than this. She simply didn't care.
As if to punctuate the thought, a small surge of awareness streaked from her brain through her extremities. That was the gamma-state, trying to get her back into the awakening process. The impatient jab gave her a slight shudder, which Naget interpreted as a negative response to his question. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean—"
"No, no. It's all right. Just…a random twitch. In answer to your question, I believe the answer is the Magistrate."
That gave Naget pause. "You…believe?"
"That's the name that comes to mind immediately. Like I said, I don't remember a lot of things. Not right now."
"So there's this Magistrate, and they needed you? So they awoke you?"
Vyla nodded, fidgeting where she sat. She certainly was a jittery thing at this stage in the awakening. Almost a different person entirely.
Naget appeared puzzled, and rightly so. If Vyla had to make guesses based on his appearance, she suspected the host culture caretaking this world was fairly primitive. Or at least between enlightened periods. Naget's words bespoke a basic understanding of machinery. Or else he may have literally knelt before her to worship.
"I thought if somehow I could wake you, then maybe I would understand." His words sounded distressing.
Vyla found herself scooting closer to him, wrapping one of her bare arms around his shoulders. Oh, that felt good. He was a bit boney, but the touch was nice. Naget relaxed into her, appreciating the touch as well.
"Your sleeping angel doesn't have her wits about her yet," Vyla teased. "Sorry I can't be more specific."
Naget's eyes flashed up. "Maybe you can." He turned to face her, their faces close.
This close to Vyla, her breath on Naget's face was warm and pleasant. A strange aroma of sweet scents that he didn't recognize. For a girl who had slept centuries, she was ever lovely. If she weren't waiting for a response, he may have been tempted to prolong this moment of silence and closeness, swimming in those dark eyes of hers.
But he must answer the angel. "Just beyond the Red Gorge is a waste of ruins. The last civilization to rule these lands. Maybe I could show them to you. You could tell me if they are from your time of sleeping."
Vyla frowned, turning to look down at her feet. She didn't retract her arm around his shoulder, for which he was grateful. She chewed on her lip, thinking it over. "The problem is that I was summoned," she groaned, as if that were supposed to mean anything.
"They waited hundreds of years while you slept," he pleaded. "They can't wait just a little while longer?"
Naget knew he had won when a mischievous grin began to take shape on her lips. Now she did retract her arm, sliding the short distance off the platform and onto the cavern floor. "You're right," she replied, "and they can."
Following quickly after, he had to jog to keep up with her pace as she laughed, running into the darkened passageway beyond. Soon they were in the larger cavern, the morning light turning to midday from where it shown through the gaps in the rocks.
Naget led the way as she slipped through the crevice, out onto the ledge that led along the canyon wall. Vyla grimaced, a little unsettled by the height, keeping a close grip on Naget as they wound their way forward. At the spot to climb, Vyla frowned, surveying the path of broken rocks and cracks they were to summit.
"It's not as bad as it looks," Naget explained. "The sandstone has good traction. You won't slip. And there are plenty of places to grab on and pull up. Just follow me."
He reached to grab sandstone, hoisting himself with ease. Once on a ledge above her, he glanced where Vyla stood with hands on her hips, looking uncertain of the climb. He was grateful the hottest time of the season had passed; her dark clothing would surely roast her in the unforgiving sun.
"Here," Naget offered, reaching down to extend a hand.
Vyla reluctantly took it, squeaking in fear as he pulled her up. She was a small, light thing; easy to hoist. Once on the ledge, she fell forward into his arms, close against his body. This close, he was surprised her clothing didn't possess the metallic smoothness he had expected. It was rougher, almost abrasive. And yet it fit her like light silk.
"Are we stuck?" she jested.
Naget grinned, helping her to gain a grip on the wall so that she didn't have to lean on him.
The rest of the climb was much easier, Vyla quickly finding a knack for it. Soon they were over the edge, the expansive plains stretching west towards distant mountains on the horizon. Naget motioned northward. "The ruin wastes aren't far from here. We can just follow the edge of the Gorge."
"All right," said Vyla. She started swinging her arms back and forth, looking a little fidgety. Naget watched as her gaze turned over, wandering over the landscapes around them. There was a childlike curiosity in her eyes that surprised Naget. She couldn't be that old, could she?
"Does…any of this look familiar?" Naget ventured.
Vyla cocked her head, humming to herself a bouncy little melody that matched the swinging of her arms. At length, she glanced his way. "Yes. Yes I think I remember this place. But where are the others?"
Naget shrugged. "My village is to the west of here."
Vyla shook her head, turning to look northward. Towards the ruins. "There was…a beautiful city. Silvery white, with blues and greens. And the people wore the colors on their hands and in their eyes. There was a minister who I used to visit…"
Naget found himself frowning. Was she describing the peoples that had lived in the ruins? That had to be well over a century ago. Probably several. How many of them had been Vyla's friends? And now they were all gone…
"Let us walk," he said.
Vyla stopped bouncing around, extending a welcoming hand to take Naget's. He found himself glowing inside as he took her soft hand in his. And it was soft—Naget had never known any of the girls in his village to have hands with skin so silky smooth.
She had to be an angel.
"I suppose…" Vyla paused. "I suppose they would all be gone, wouldn't they?"
Naget glanced over at her. "Who?"
"The Cartonians. The people whose ruins we are going to see." She sighed. "I don't know why I was surprised."
Cartonians? Naget had never heard the ancient's name before. Did his father or any of the villagers know? That the Cartonians were the people whose ruins they scavenged? Did anyone left in the world know that name?
"Tell me about the Cartonians," said Naget. "My village doesn't remember them anymore. But you do. You knew them."
Vyla nodded, a cheerful smile crossing her face. "They were an advanced bunch. Tinkering with what must have seemed strange forces for peoples such as themselves. They would have been like gods to you, I think…"
Naget listened as they walked hand-in-hand northward. Vyla had all sorts of strange and wonderful tales of the people she called the Cartonians. They lived in beautiful buildings of glass and metal, reaching impossibly high into the heavens. They rode their streets on strange, hovering devices and wore clothing that spoke with their computers. Common disease wasn't among them, and it was said that they were close to sailing among the stars.
Vyla saw them a quaint people, though. Full of dreams, but little more than primitives to her and the Magistrate she still served. That left Naget with deep questions. If the Cartonians would have been like gods to his village, then what did that make Vyla?
She became so lost in colorful tales that she didn't notice as they walked to the vast expanse of ruins. She stopped dead in her tracks when the vista caught her eyes.
They were nothing horribly special to look at. Few structures remaining stood taller than the most basic of hovels in Naget's village. Many were hollowed out; manmade caves and rock formations. Most of the debris field was littered with stone, though there was degrees of metal strewn within. Naget suspected most of that had been scavenged in the many years before his birth.
"Oh my," Vyla breathed sadly. "So little left…"
Naget stepped around in front of her, taking her other hand in his free hand. "I'm sorry, Vyla. Perhaps I shouldn't have brought you here."
She looked down at her feet, shrugging glumly. "I knew it was likely they would be gone when I awoke. We sleep for so long…"
Naget shifted his jaw, unsettled deep within. Who was this angel holding his hands? Capable of sleeping through the fall and rise of civilizations? What was she doing here? And what did she plan to do when she returned to those who summoned her?
"Maybe it's time you stopped sleeping," said Naget. "Maybe it's time you lived with us."
She met his gaze, her dark eyes swimming with sadness and…age. Such ancient eyes. The body she wore looked little more than a girl two years his junior. But that was all a lie—those eyes told the true age of this girl.
And suddenly Naget felt like the child.
"If I could…" She exhaled. "If I could, I would follow you home to your village and live there the last of your days."
Naget felt a thrill surge within him. "You can. No one would stop you. And you would be welcomed there. You could even find a suitable profession with us scavenging the ruins. I'm sure your knowledge alone would turn a profit."
He stepped closer, pulling free his right hand from hers, cupping her cheek. By the lost gods, that felt good. And he knew by the way she closed her eyes, reveling in his warm touch that she liked it. "You could come with me. And we could be happy. Together."
She breathed raggedly for a moment, eyes closed as he gently rubbed her cheek with his thumb. And in that precious, eternal moment, Naget believed that he could have the angel to be his.
Then her eyes flashed open. No longer dark, they flared bright blue and green, energy shimmering on her irises. And when she spoke, there was an unnatural echo, as though she spoke with the force of the winds and the storms above. Not only in tone, but in unseen power.
The power of a god.
"No. I have been summoned."
Naget stepped back, heart beating fast; fear coursing through him with a passion. He tried to find Vyla somewhere in those glowing eyes, but they had grown distant. Lost on another scene or vision far from the world around him. Turning, she marched back the way they had come. There was a new weight in her footsteps. The girl Naget had discovered in the chamber below was gone.
Replaced by a warrior god.
After watching her walk for a time, Naget hurried after her. He didn't know what he was doing, but something told him she meant him no harm. He wasn't sure if he could trust that feeling.
"You have to go," said Naget. "I understand."
"No," she countered harshly. "No you don't understand. But that is not your fault."
Naget bit his lip, feeling more anxious by the moment walking beside her. Was he pushing his luck? Was his father right in warning him of demons that lurked below? Would she destroy him, even now?
Impossible. Naget knew the young angel he had held hands with was buried deep somewhere in there.
They returned to the ledge where Naget had helped her climb. Vyla simply walked out into the open space and Naget stifled a gasp of terror. Instead of plunging to her death, Vyla's feet arched behind her, and she floated down through the air. Naget was so stunned by the sudden power that he found himself gaping.
Then as she disappeared back into the cavern, he regained his wits. He hurried to climb down after her.
Nearly losing his footing several times, Naget stumbled like a fool along the ledge, finally making his way into the cavern. Hurrying into the darkened chamber near the back, Naget found Vyla standing erect within the chamber again. There was no barrier between them this time, leaving him with a full view of her transformation.
Around the formfitting black clothing she first wore, large shards of metal and armor began to assemble, floating through the air from hidden compartments within. In a few short moments, the little girl beneath was engulfed in a thick shell of machinery. It bore the same black tones as her underclothing, as well as stripes of silver and various glowing apparatuses that Naget couldn't begin to guess at.
But she was no more a girl. Naget found himself gaping as her body grew in height and bulk, a phenomena unrelated to the armor assembling around her. The darkest change came to her face, which aged from the girl he had first spied into a fully matured woman. Her hair shortened, and the new person standing before him could have been twenty years his senior.
Or perhaps twenty millennia.
Blinking open her eyes, they retained the same glowing blue green hue that had appeared on the plateau. Naget wondered if there was anything left of the angel he had originally spied in the glass. There were hints of her—a form in the face that was unmistakable. The same face he had touched with his hand.
Stepping out from the chamber, her armored feet thudded and clanked on the metal platform with the weight of a soldier marching off to war. Behind her, the machinery quieted, going darker than the day Naget had first discovered the cave. And Vyla marched on, out from the cavern.
Naget tailed after her.
"Vyla!" he called out.
She paused on the threshold of the cave, sparing him a parting glance. To his relief, her expression and demeanor was not harsh. Just…intense.
"Farewell, Naget," she said. "I was grateful to have met you." Then she smiled, and Naget knew that the girl he had met before was still in there.
Rising plate and metal rose around her face, coming together in seamless form to create a helmet. Now engulfed in the wear of a warrior god, Vyla Starlash drifted into the air, out from the cave.
Naget stumbled forward in a hurry, pausing outside to watch as she floated into the air. An amber light had gathered around her dark form, creating a swirling arc in the air around her hips. A quickening wind filled the Gorge, tugging at Naget's loose hair. He winced, the rushing beginning to fill his ears.
In a burst of light and sound, Vyla shot off into the sky, little more than a speck in seconds. The impact of her departure echoed loudly through the Gorge with the force of a thunderclap. Naget tumbled backwards, landing on his rump just within the cave. By the time he had gotten his wits back, there was no sign of his angel anywhere in the sky.
Naget remained sitting on the edge of the Red Gorge for a time, watching as the rocks turned angry red from the setting sun.
It was silly to think that Vyla would return so soon. Her Magistrate of the Gods would certainly have work for her to do. Naget didn't know what sort of work, but he had to guess that she was a sort of warrior. What else could explain the harsh wears that she produced, or the stern tone with which she departed?
Be safe, warrior angel, he prayed towards the sky. And protect our heavens above.
Before it got too dark, Naget stumbled away from the ledge, making the long walk back to the village. He knew a part of his heart would remain behind in that forgotten cavern below. He hadn't known he was leaving it there until it was already done.
But it was not left behind bitterly. If she never returned in his short lifetime, Naget would always be grateful for the chance he had to meet the beautiful angel in the glass.