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And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

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In one world, she watched a revolution dawn, rode on its coattails until it reached its peak, and danced away to watch it crumble.

It was quite accidental, as ever. The Undines of that world had a peculiar art of transmigration that she had wanted to study, and so across the borders she had gone, trying to find a specimen—but wherever she went, she found only corpses. A ship filled with them, stacked body upon body, and one survivor already tucked into the protective care of a budding army.

(Even though the kind-eyed boy with his sleeping demon blood had forbidden her at the top of his lungs to come with them, he had not chased her away when she followed his army home anyway.)

They were kind people—interesting people—and they had another world-walker and an Ancient One among their number, but at the end of their war their Undine comrade left their country, and all that was left for them to take care of was politics, which were boring. So she said what goodbyes she felt necessary and walked away.

Years later, when she finally reached the country of the Undines itself, it too was covered in corpses.

What was it about this world that sought to deny her so—? Frustrated, she searched and searched for even one survivor, even just one, but there were none to be had.

The next army she found, luckily enough, had that one, a cute little girl.

(They had taken her in begrudgingly, but they had taken her in all the same, and her tiny stockpile of research notes had exploded with growth.)

She’d gotten what she wanted, and this wasn’t her world to interfere in.

So she stood back and watched the kind-eyed boy die, watched the princess bow but not break under the weight of her sins—and walked away.

 

 

When she’d tried to cross the border, space had twisted sickly around her and she was deposited into a strange world of mist and eternal night that wasn’t at all where she had wanted to end up.

She was able to tell, quickly, what was wrong; she was far more annoyed than concerned. Where evil bred, good would always rise to restore the status quo; no matter how the heavens and the hells fought, they would always beat each other into equilibrium and no more. A walker of worlds knew.

She wouldn’t raise a hand to aid that fight.

She would raise a hand to protest the interruption of her research.

(A tall angel with orange wings, vaguely familiar, restored the world and vanished. And she left for her intended destination months afterward, whistling.)

 

 

One world was dying.

She could sense it even as she set foot there—see it somehow in the deep grays that enveloped the earth and sky, stealing their color away. And she sensed the corruption before she even saw it, the key in the hands of the one who might or might not be using it so but would one day prove to be the Undoing.

She stayed for a while, stayed with a pair of dark-skinned bandits—a burly man, a one-eyed woman—and researched alone in the night, recording phenomena, cataloguing the signs.

(The woman demanded to know why she was allowed to stay with them when she did nothing to aid them in any way, but the man just laughed and said that what did it matter, she was a funny girl. She could do what she wanted.)

…And after enough time had passed, she placed her hat on her head and got onto her broom and flew away as they watched after her back.

 

 

On a strange world where the people had harnessed the power of determination for energy, she sat on the side of a ship with a small girl from her homeland, a traveler who had just taken her first step.

“You’ve been everywhere,” the girl said of her in an awed voice.

She smiled.

“I haven’t been anywhere yet.”