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And Time Marched On

She was like a goddess, watching from afar as Hell descended upon the world she called home.

An endless bombardment of fire and death rained down from above. Homes once filled with life crumbled to dust before her eyes. She shed many tears for those caught in the crossfire, streams of crystalline fluid rushing from her golden eyes, staining her skin. Her space held the last of the silence in the land. The shrieks of battle and the cries of the dead and dying filling the outside air, mingling with the smoke and ash.

While she, locked within her tower, out of reach of the destruction, watched. Sobs cascading from her lips as agony washed over her soul once again.

But she did not look away.

How could she? How could she deny those below, at the very least, her attention? That, and the bitter secure hold of her duty.

To observe, to record, to remember.

Her duty alone, while the world ended once again before her ancient eyes. She hated and loved this burden, this privilege. For only she could see the world in its entirety. All its beauty, and all its horror.

She wonders if she made the right choice, staying, kneeling in prayer, forever watching, but unable to act. Stuck, alone, until her own death, when another youth would replace her.

She wonders if the others before her felt as she did.

Technically, of course, she could leave. No shackles or locked doors held her. She could simply get up and walk away. No threats, no one to force her to do as instructed, no one waiting to hurt or kill her if she tried to leave. The only thing stopping her, was her.

But then, she’d be condemning another to her place far sooner. But they wouldn’t be her. Her worn mind supplied. Maybe, maybe the next would do better than her. Be cold, and do the duty without second thoughts, without guilt, without feeling.

Could she do it if that were the case? Could she really leave, run from her obligations, go out and know the world as others did?

Blinking through the haze of emotions and finds herself standing in the doorway of her observatory. Her back to the window, she swallows heavily and takes the first step. Shaking, heartbeat thundering in her ears, she steps out into the dark hallway.

She pauses and waits.

Nothing happens.

She takes another step, and another, and another until she’s sprinting down the hall, robes fluttering around her ankles, feet slapping loudly on the cold floor. She smiles wide, laughter spilling from her lips as she pushes onward, uncaring of possible consequences. Freedom sings in her veins as she spots her salvation; the door to the outside world. She would be free, she could run far from this place, someone else could have the job, she didn’t want it anymore, she couldn’t take it anymore.

But could she really be that selfish?

She freezes, hand trembling as her fingertip brushes the door handle. A chill creeps up her spine, icy hands curling around her wounded heart.

She drops her hand. Tears once again drip from her burning eyes and she gasps, arms curling around herself as she stumbles back.

No.

She could not bring herself to hurt another, would not dare dump this horrid weight upon someone else’s shoulders, ruin another child’s life as hers had been.

So, she stares at the door, directing her fury at it, blaming the inanimate object instead of her own conscience. Then, turning slowly, she marches back to her room, feeling like she was walking to her own execution. Heavy with the weight of the world, she turns back to her windows, and continues watching the world, as she always had done, and she always must do.

And there she remained, until she herself, turned to dust. Dreaming of what her life might have been like, if only she’d walked out the door.

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