"Shouldn't we be stopping for the night?" Javien asked Master Censo.

"No," said Censo, not even bothering to look back at his apprentice.

"Why not?" asked Javien. The sun had sunk low in the sky behind them. He knew they could not reach Bersen tonight, even if they traveled well into the darkness, and thought they would be better off making camp against the perils of the night.

"It is better to travel this stretch in the dark," Censo said and refused to elaborate.

Javien shrugged. He was used to his master's mysterious ways. Censo rarely explained anything he didn't think Javien needed to know, whether Javien agreed with that assessment or not. But this was rather out of character. Traveling at night deserved an explanation. His master normally would think it a good opportunity to teach Javien a lesson of some sort. It was odd, but Javien didn't question it. Censo would tell him when he decided Javien needed to know.

The two urged their horses slowly up a winding path in the gathering darkness. At one point, the terrain got to be so steep that they had to dismount and lead the animals so as to save their backs. They had to go slowly, for the path, safe enough in broad light, was treacherous when unseen in the darkness.

It was completely black dark by the time they reached the top. The stars twinkled at them from the sky above, but the thin sliver of moon cast little, if any, light. Master and apprentice still led the horses as they crested the high hill and came to the fairly flat, brush-spotted top.

"Come," said Master Censo in a hushed voice, picking his way among the thick scrub towards a large boulder that marked the path's descent. "Look," he said, pointing.

Javien stood silent and awed beside him. The path twisted back down the mountain hill into a long valley, a valley full of light. The hill they had just climbed was a foothill to the mountain range through which they had just passed. Across from them towered a taller, parallel mountain range that joined their range just north of the road. Between the two nestled a long river valley, flowing south as far as he could see. In this valley were nestled three cities, aglow with lights that outshone the stars, like three bright, many-faceted jewels lit up from within nestled in the utter blackness of crevasse. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life.

"This is why they call the Rio Valley the Valley of Lights," said Censo softly. "This is why we traveled through the night." He stood quiet for a moment, watching the brilliant glow of the cities below. "Sometimes you cannot explain. Sometimes there are no reasons. There are some things more important than reason and logic." Censo patted his horse, the sound thudding softly into the silent night. "There are some things you just do because the result reminds you of why you are."

The master tugged on his horse's reins and began threading his careful way down the mountain. Javien followed silently, and they descended into the shining light.

A/N: Just a nice little one-shot taken totally from the view as you crest the mountains coming into Bernalillo heading to Albuquerque. It's more beautiful than I can describe.