Jainkoa had never explained to Deabrua why he preferred to meet on the Salar de Uyuni salt pan after a rain. Deabrua had a few inklings; Bolivia was a country of strong faith and clean air, and the salt flats were like a giant mirror of the heavens after a rain.

Perhaps that beauty was all the explanation that was necessary; Deabrua himself was not particularly anxious to find out.

They met near a graveyard of ancient and rusting trains, reflected in a few millimeters of clear and reflective water. While either Deabrua or Jainkoa could have appeared as anything they chose, or nothing at all, they met by mutual consent as winged humanoids in roughspun cloth.

“What is the occasion this time, my friend?” Deabrua asked. He had arrived to find Jainkoa staring blankly over the reflective expanse.

“Something has been troubling me of late,” said Jainkoa. “I thought I might parley with you about it for a moment or two.”

Jainkoa hardly ever asked for advice; that was the cause of their long-ago rift, after all. And if they were able to agree to disagree for an informal chat every now and again, the old wounds still remained fresh and strong.

“What is troubling you, then?” Deabrua resisted the temptation to add a little snark, if only so that Jainkoa’s next words would be honest.

“How can the same world contain such beauty as this and such despair?”

Deabrua was taken aback for a moment, but considered for a moment. Jainkoa had the power to influence much if he chose to do so, so the question was almost nonsensical. Still, there was a sincere gleam in his old sparring partner’s eye.

“Without despair there can be no true happiness, I suppose,” Deabrua answered. “Without something to compare it to , or contrast it with, the concepts would be meaningless. To you, to me, to all the things on this rock capable of feeling.”

“You think so?” Jainkoa said with a strange note in his voice. “Even with all our disagreements?”

“I think so, even with all our disagreements,” said Deabrua. “After all, what is rebellion without something to rebel against, hatred without something to hate, or selfishness without altruism to reject?”

“A wise answer, my old friend,” said Jainkoa. “I think this may be the rare thing you can I can agree on.”

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