He beheld the single most gloriously beautiful vision of his entire life.  Standing before him was an angel, her graceful arm holding out a water-skin.  At least seven feet tall, her skin was like alabaster, her limbs elegantly shaped and smooth; warmth and comfort emanated from her body in waves.  Golden light shone through her auburn hair, and her eyes were a deep violet, the shade of an evening sky before the day gave over to night.  Her wings were tucked back behind her body, but he could still make out their white colour, like a dove, and he guessed they were as soft as a cloud.  Ethan felt breathless before her.

            “I’m happy to see you, too.”  She smiled, and Ethan felt the wind rush back into his lungs.  Moreover, he was filled with a bright and sudden joy.  He had never felt so alive, so excited and yet so at peace.

            The angel stepped forward and placed the water-skin into his hand, her fingers delicate on his.  He shivered with pleasure at that simple touch, unable to speak, unable to move.  He simply gazed, captivated by her eyes.  Dimly, Ethan was aware of his heart in his chest, pounding out a beat, the blood in his veins, his body, but these were distant things.  Nothing mattered save her.

            “Aren’t you going to say anything?”  She asked teasingly.

            “I love you.”  He whispered.

            She smiled, and though Ethan had believed himself happier than it was possible to be, he immediately felt the emotions within him intensify.  It was staggering.  He trembled as her long fingers carefully caressed his face and she leaned down to kiss his forehead.  Her fingers ran through his dishevelled hair tenderly.

            “I love you more.”  She giggled, and he felt himself melt.  “My noble pilgrim.  My Ethan.”

            “Mmmmm…”  He murmured, lost in the bliss her mere presence caused.  “mmmMara.  Mara!  That’s your name.”  He said, excited by the realization.  “How do I know that?”

            “This isn’t the first time we’ve met, silly.”  Mara smiled.  “You’ll remember when it’s time.  For now, we have somewhere to go.”  She gestured at the path before them.  “Shall we?”

            “You’re coming with me?” Ethan said, his voice filled with hope and joy.

            “I always do.” 

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