|"Nature, in return for his love, seems|
to adopt him as her especial child."
Were they hoisted on their own petard?
Surely this place could not have been erected by the monsters themselves. Surely not.
With the pyramid temple secured, I returned to Agasado (starting to have second thoughts about this moniker). He had patiently waited for me, milling about in a mildly restive state entirely appropriate to a high-spirited and healthy stallion. I admired his discipline and wondered at his trainer. Myself, I have an affinity with animals, one well documented if I may be completely honest with myself. Documented by no less august a personage than Nathaniel Hawthorne himself, most kindly. But thus it is with the small critters, the chipmunks and little brown birds; to bond with and manage a large creature like a horse, wild and willful, that is an achievement I must respect with some awe. Like I said, I get along with Agasado just fine, but I admire the hand that steadied his nerves and gave him to trust.
|A cabin would be lovely here, but for the temple just behind it.|
Something struck me odd about this pond, however, lying somewhere to the east of the desert temple. There were patches of sand to its bed, and it seemed as though the desert resumed on the far bank, while on the other sides birch grew plentifully. This would be useful to note if I needed to undertake some construction, but still something nagged me about the pond, and I had to dismount Agasado. This is how I do my best thinking, I feel, with my feet on the ground and taking slow, meditative strides. If I can manage to surround myself with samples of all elements, this is best: present were clean air, clean water, solid earth... only fire was lacking, but if I truly desired it, I'm confident a minute's perambulation should have discovered a pool of lava, just around the corner.
And so I breathed, stretched my limbs and thought. I will not suggest I attempted to extend my sensate faculty out of my person and into Nature, but pools like this are fine for reflection, in every sense of that word. It is necessarily a byproduct of gazing into a thing that one sees oneself in it, to some extent. When I looked at the pond to wonder how like it I was, or how it resembled me, that is when I took my little inventory: I like to be placid and transparent, or I aspire to be. I hope others find me as cool as these waters, with as solid a foundation. Yet when I look within myself, there still is a large gap in my constitution, a lack to be fulfilled...
Nature is singularly useful for showing us things about ourselves. Sometimes I wonder whether it serves any other purpose, or that this is simply a function of the land's ancestry to humanity.
For there in the middle of the lake was a black chasm. I'd never seen such a thing in my life: I have seen, or read about, perilously deep bodies of water, but this was something else, This was a moderately large mouth in the center of the pond, a portal to a chasm below the earth. I may assert this for I immediately removed my most burdensome garments, while retaining certain modesty, and threw myself into the waterfall this formation created.
|The massive grotto, gained by massive waterfall.|
Another feature is that it flows slower than in my native realm, so that I may descend a waterfall as slowly and harmlessly as a feather descending the still air. Conversely, it is not much effort to swim up a waterfall, as well, and in this application it replaces the need for a ladder!
Therefore I had no qualms at all about wading into this enormous cavern, knowing I should not be dashed upon its floor and that my exit was guaranteed. I mounted some torches and performed a cursory examination of this enormous grotto. Immediately I espied lodes of ore and coal, so I must return here with proper equipment and begin to build the reserves for my new base of operations.
|Even this world has its lovely and rewarding moments.|
What a marvelous animal!
We rode around afterward, and I need not annotate our wanderings for they were nothing but folly: sometimes I steered him toward an alluring patch of sunflowers, and sometimes he ambled toward a hillock to peer around the landscape. As the sun began to set, we even found the lands "owned" by the clans of wild horses. Whether or not he recognized any of his kinsmen, I was unable to detect, but he was neither averse to confronting them nor overly eager to engage with them.
So deep in reverie was I, it took me far too long to put two and two together and realize that the sun was setting. Brusquely, I'm afraid, I jerked Agasado's head to the side and we galloped directly to the desert temple. I apologized to him along the way, stroking his neck with deep remorse, and I can only hope that he is well acquainted with the night and what it brings.