He looked back and saw... nothing. There was only the expanse of scrapyard, bathed in rust, bleached-white moonlight, and silence. It was so oddly bereft of motion and presence that he couldn't help but feel like he was in a different place entirely. It was as if he'd awakened from some busy nightmare. It was.. a test. Surely, it had all been just a test. Trial passed, the tribulation had come to an end. He could now collect his prize.
Returning his attention to the cache, he saw a few items partitioned strangely by the upended shelves and resting against the back of the armoire. Contemplating the awkward angle of the chest made him feel a bit queasy, so he only allowed his eyes to wander briefly over the contents, merely scanning to find his object among them.
There were a number of small pots, no larger than a tree-borne fruit. Each had plants growing within, and dried herbs had been packed around and in between. He supposed that if he'd paid closer attention to them, he'd have been able to identify their taxonomies. They were, however, undoubtedly not what he was looking for. Nor were the books in the corner, nor the plain wooden box half obscured by a still-intact door panel.
He was about to replace the cover and give up his search when he saw a flash of something. Insight, was it? No, it was the box he'd overlooked, one of its silver hinges. He fished it out, and, now looking at its cover, he was overcome.
The inlay was dazzling, effulgent even in the moon's light. And the tree! The tree. The memory returned to him--the river, the short sleeves, the shade. It was this tree's shade! He knew it. Clutching the box closely, he'd started to rise when another memory returned to him, riding on the coattails of the last. Pagusel was not just a woman. As he'd surmised, she was also.. or.. could also be an insect. A Kaavfer.
The test was perhaps not over. She was perhaps still watching him. He was perhaps in more danger than before, even.
"Show yourself!" he whispered. He glanced around wildly. "SHOW YOURSELF!"
Still clutching the box, he sprang to his feet and patted at his garmets. What if she was ON him?! He tore off his jacket. Placing the box between his knees, he deftly undid the buttons of his shirt and removed that as well.
He clamped the box under his chin and unfastened the buckle of his belt and the buttons on his trousers. He stepped out of his undergarments. Soon, he was standing naked atop the mound of rubbish, pale skin glowing almost as brightly as the silver inlay of the box in the garish light of the moon. He slapped at himself madly, hopping from one foot to the other, not daring to keep both on the ground at once.
"Where are you?! Pagusel!"