The mists were thick around her; moving seemed to take all of her energy and breathing was like taking water into her lungs and feeling it swish around. Tilda kept walking.
The last lines of the family power broke off with a feeling like being hit with the world's largest rubber band and Tilda stumbled and forced herself to keep going. You could die. That was the easy way out. You could die or, if you had reached the right point and found the right writings, you could walk into the mists.
She had heard of other ways, too, but 20 years ago her favorite cousin Uma - the age difference was nearly that, but they'd been friends anyway - had told her about The Place at the End of the Mists, and then, as Uma always did, told her she'd have to wait her turn.
She stumbled again as the ground bucked like an annoyed horse. The mists were clearing in front of her. Had she made it? Or was she back in her field at home?
"Anna? Is that you?"
She could hear the voice, but the accent wasn't anyone she knew and neither was the voice.
"Sorry," she called back, She wanted to whoop and cheer. She'd found it. She'd found... something. "It's Tilda," she offered.
"Tilda!" The mists cleared further and she could see a cottage in front of her, the sort of place that looked like it had started small and been built onto over the years - maybe the centuries. "Tilda, is that you? Come here, come here!"
At that, a woman who looked like - who looked like what Tilda remembered Uma looking like when Tila had first learning to tell people apart - came into sight and talked Tilda, all at once. "Tilda! Come here, come here. I have so much to show you, has it really been, has it- Look at you. This is Gredel, and this is The Cottage. This is, ah, it's a place. Come here."
Tilda let out a breath that didn't hurt, moved arms that didn't ache nor shake, and looked at Uma - a young Uma, an Uma who was maybe twenty-five if she was a day - and raised her eyebrows.
"Still scant on explanations, I see," she teased. She'd learn it all in time, it was enough that she had Uma back.
"Still liking it better when you figure things out yourself. Now, this is just The Place at the End of the Mists, you remember me telling you about it? And this, this is the Road to the World. And we can all live here, but most of us only visit. Visit and stay for a bit, leave and come back. It's easier than you'd-"
Uma broke off her own explanation to hug Tilda, hug her the way she'd done when it was her turn to walk into the mists. Tilda hugged her back, laughing.
She'd made it. She'd made it, and Uma was here. Her cousin was right. She'd figure the rest out when she did.