She spent a long time deliberating whether to start a fire. If there were bandits around they'd spot her; but without the fire she'd freeze. Yet however much she embraced the cold, she couldn't ignore her dead numb hands and feet. Besides, warm fingers grip daggers close. Warmth could be a weapon too. She lit the kindling and banished her misgivings but remained vigilant to a point of rigidness. For the next hour she sat frozen, raised shoulders glued to earlobes.
The voice came from nowhere. An arrow of fear shook her. They'd found her. Lumatel was here. In the woods. The fire was in full blaze. Who said that? Did she imagine it? She peered around with narrowed eyes. Nothing. Just shadows and branches. But wait. That silver mist. Over between the track and the line of trees. She'd put it down to tricks of the light. She'd been too exhausted to examine it further. It wasn't just smoke. Something was illuminated. She stood up suddenly, aware it was too late to run. Part of her wanted to leap forwards. Chase it off. Icy fear extinguished that desire. Cursing herself for not braving the weather, she paced with uncertainty towards the strange light.
"Hello?" Silence. She now stood in a glowing cloud. Another camp? She'd have noticed it before; heard the crackling of burning wood. Besides, this didn't look like flames. It was more like yellow air. "I won't hurt you if you tell me who you are." The yellow cloud was turning into something. In terror and amazement she watched as the chaotic haze began to take shape.
"You can't hurt me."
It was a human. A winged human. Made of silvery yellow air. As the strange being approached she made out legs, arms, long hair and curves that could only belong to a woman. The angel was a woman. Kosmanarshi gaped. She knew she should say something but no words came out.
"You're mighty quick-brained for a survivor."
"You aren't safe here."
"You're an angel aren't you?"
"It would seem so. Why haven't you used the cloud rock yet?"
"...I didn't believe him. When he told me about you.."
"You've got to do it now before the agents come."
Mention of agents snapped her back into the present. "Wh - what's your name? Where do you come from - "
" -Somewhere else, I've been in angel form for many centuries." she fired back. "My name's Eldna, but we don't have time for this Kosmanarshi."
"How do you know my na -"
"You are a forememe. One of the few remaining with an original chip. I spotted your torus from far off. That's how I know you. Protect yourself. Take the cloud rock and use it. I will help you."
Kosmanarshi was dumbfounded. She realised to her shame she'd forgotten about the gift Rogan had given her. That funny-looking stone. It was nestled at the bottom of her bag. She hadn't taken on board what he'd said. Go somewhere secluded. Let the lumadata float away.
"How long will it take?"
"Not long but already we waste time."
"Will it come back? My lumadata?"
"Yes. Almost certainly. But you must do it now."
For a moment Eldna and Kosmanarshi stared at each other. One in impatient urgency and the other in wonder and awe.
"Please." said Eldna emphatically.