8. and then I was gone—and back, but still gone
I lingered in the Inferno for decades. I became involved in a lot—the shade revolt, for one. History. History I shouldn’t have been a part of. Eventually, I got my answers. The one I had encountered in the alley behind my parents’ home was an agent of Maha’s. The bracelets a creation of Maha’s. Me, an experiment of Maha’s. I only discovered this once a replacement was found, a new subject who had even less control over his will than I.
Once that replacement was found, no place in the Inferno was safe for me.
I don’t remember all that happened between meeting the Broken Angel, and then finding that I was a failed experiment, and then being killed, again, in the Inferno, but when I woke next, it was in Verga, on the steepled roof of the Ebony Fields Hill Shrine. Down the hill and over a few yards lay the barren expanse of the Dead City. That alone was enough to make me feel sick, but…
Before me on the roof stood Maha.
I was confused—he was supposed to be imprisoned in the Infernal Shrine, in the Monolith, yet he was standing before me. He had brought me back to life—no; I was, of course, still Gauntlet. He had brought me back to death. I was even more confused—how did I know he was Maha? Previously, Maha had only been that basalt monolith to me. And yet, I knew it.
And he knew that I knew it, and made as if to ask for my forgiveness.
After what he had put me—and, indirectly, Matt—through? This, I remember in great detail: lashing out at him with all the power he had so insidiously granted me, seeking nothing more than his utter demise. I wanted him dead. Maha, dead. Call me a fool, but the one who interfered and stopped our fight was a much greater fool.
That was you, Gem.
And I thank you for the service you did me.