When I got back to the Crossroad, it was like I’d lost all ability to feel.
It was just… too much.
It’s hard to tell the passage of time in there, but I must have stayed frozen for a few hours, at least.
Then I cried.
For not being able to reach paradise.
For causing what I had.
… For Angel. And all the other friends I’d never see again.
I lied there for a while longer after that, just… staring into Prizmal. Into Infinity.
Not asking any questions. I didn’t have any.
I just… watched.
I didn’t consider suicide, though.
For one, that just… isn’t me. I don’t have an explanation for that, exactly. For whatever reason, that’s just… not how I’m wired.
But also, Mentor had told me that the only way to die inside the Crossroad is by old age. So there was no point in trying, even if I was so inclined.
Instead, I taught myself. About Infinity.
I watched, felt, and absorbed as much as I could stand.
Infinite variations of infinite worlds means there is infinite suffering.
And infinite joy.
I’m not going to pretend like what happened on Scarring was… the worst I’d ever seen. Not by a long shot.
Honestly, it’s not even the worst I’ve ever caused.
But in those cases, those horrible things happened in worlds that had seen tragedies before.
Scarring was a paradise.
I had turned a paradise into a living hell.
And yet… What was I supposed to DO about that? I couldn’t go back! I’d never be able to fix that mistake!
Oh, sure, I could “make sure I never did it again,” but that’s not the same!
It wasn’t just the mistake I had made in letting myself cause a Demonic Energy Flame, it was…
I could never reach paradise.
How was I supposed to live with that?
Mentor had told me already: “Just do what makes you happy. There’s no point in anything else.”
“Get used to having a broken heart, Future Heir. It’s the only kind you’ll ever have.
You’ll think you’ve gotten over it, and then it will start bleeding again the moment you see, for example, a brainwashed ‘peacekeeper’ forced to murder an innocent child.”
I didn’t like that. But that was because I hadn’t understood. Mentor hadn’t meant to do only the things I enjoyed. They hadn’t meant to avoid getting a broken heart.
To be the Keeper of the Crossroad of Infinity is to be an explorer. And to explore means to constantly find new things that make me happy.
And that make me unhappy.
To be the Keeper of the Crossroad of Infinity means to explore the infinite joy and suffering out there!
What Mentor meant… was to focus on the joy.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen my own homeworld… I think some of these ‘alien aspects’ feel more familiar to me now than the ones I was born into.
“I wonder if that will happen to you someday? …Probably.”
Finding “alien aspects” that I like so much that I keep returning to worlds that have them?
So… What was something I liked?
… Helping people.
Was it the guilt? … Probably. Partially. At first, anyway.
But it’s something that still holds true.
If I can’t ever go to a “paradise” world, then I can at least enjoy making the worlds I go to a little better.
Not because it will “tip the balance” or anything — if you add to or take from infinity, you’re still left with infinity.
But because I enjoy it.
But also because: Wallowing in misery over something I can’t change?
I just can’t see the point in that.