That speck was the Childlike Empress’s glass litter, still carried by four of her invisible Powers. It was barely visible, for the glass it was made of looked very much like ice, and the Childlike Empress’s white gown and white hair could hardly be distinguished from the snow roundabout.
She had traveled many days and nights. The four Powers had carried her through blinding rain and scorching sun, through darkness and moonlight, onward and onward, just as she had ordered, «no matter where.» She was prepared for a long journey and all manner of hardship, since she knew that the Old Man of Wandering Mountain could be everywhere or nowhere.
Still, the four invisible Powers were not guided entirely by chance in their choice of an itinerary. As often as not, the Nothing, which had already swallowed up whole regions, left only a single path open. Sometimes the possibilities narrowed down to a bridge, a tunnel, or a gateway, and sometimes they were forced to carry the litter with the deathly ill Empress over the waves of the sea. These carriers saw no difference between liquid and solid.
Tireless and persevering, they had finally reached the frozen heights of the Mountain of Destiny. And they would go on climbing until the Childlike Empress gave them another order. But she lay still on her cushions. Her eyes were closed and she said nothing. The last words she had spoken were the «no matter where» she had said on leaving the Ivory Tower.