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Prologue: What Path to Take

By Delphine Pryde

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I marked the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The cold air brushing against her bare skin was the first sensation Buffy Summers felt as she awakened. She involuntarily shivered as she pushed herself up from an icy, dark marble-like floor where she had been laying for who knew how long. The memories of how she had gotten there flashed through her mind. She'd jumped into a dimensional portal that had been formed from her sister Dawn's blood.

Shouldn't she be in hell? That was where the portal was supposed to go, after all. So- "Where am I?" She vaguely noted the white cotton dress that could have passed for a nightgown, she was wearing instead of the outfit she'd jumped in, while looking around at her surroundings.

There were mirrors, far as even Slayer eyes could see, surrounding her. As her reflection fell upon the mirrors, her image changed. Different images of Buffy were reflected from each different mirror. "What kind of world am I in?" she muttered.

"Not a world at all," said a gravely voice.

An old man in a brown hooded robe with hair and a beard a gray that reached his waist. A long wooden staff with an onyx on top was clutched in his hand.

Frowning, Buffy moved her body into a defensive position just in case the old man probed to be dangerous despite his appearance. "Who the hell are you?"

He smiled at her defensive attitude, pale eyes twinkling. "I'm just a guide," he answered.

The guy was starting to remind Buffy of Whistler the balance demon. She'd deal with him the same way too, if she didn't start to get some answers very soon.

Fortunately for the old man, he was smart enough not to antagonize her. Her gestured around them. "This is the place where all dimensions cross. Each of those mirrors is a gateway to a different world."

"Great, so I only have to figure out which one goes to my world?"

The guide shook his head and pointed at a single mirror that didn't reflect very well as if the entire thing had been tinted. "Your world has had its portal closed."

"I know for a fact that there is more than one portal to my world," Buffy told him, thinking about the hellmouth and other gateways she had encountered in her tenure as the Slayer.

"Perhaps at one time, but what brought you here closed those portals permanently. The only dimensions still connected are those that can be reached only by the soul. Like your heaven for example."

Bouncing on the balls of her feet like a denied child, she whined, "Where am I supposed to go then?"

"Anywhere else, look around at all the different places you could make your home."

Buffy glanced at her changed reflection in one of the mirrors. "Why does my reflection look different when I look in a mirror?"

"Unlike other portals, when you pass through a mirror you're given a form that will help you survive there. So make sure you like what you see, because once you step through a mirror there is no going back."

"Wished you mentioned that sooner," she muttered, giving him the evil eye. She sighed and moved closer to the mirrors. Pausing to study her reflection in each of them. Finally, she found one she liked. "I guess this is it." She passed through the mirror, the glass rippling like water to allow her access.

The Guide, left alone, spoke into the empty air. "Good luck Slayer, I hope you find happiness."