Lisara is seventeen and still wants to join the warriors, bold defenders who keep away the demons and raiders from outside of Forwyd looking to steal cattle or other goods, just as much as she used to.
She still has to do some kind of useful work, of course, so she runs messages, hauls carts around, weeds the fields as fast as possible, practices archery by hunting rabbits and sparrows in the woods. She lurks in the practice field for most of her spare time, running with warriors, practicing forms with a wooden practice spear, sparring.
Her home is on the small side by Firkin standards - Sixteen people, from Grandma Barls to a new toddler, barely old enough to walk. Klima. She might be Lisara's half-sister, born of a different mother but perhaps having the same father. It's impossible to tell for sure, as nobody in Firkin families really cares to keep track of who fathers who. But Lisara thinks of Klima as a little sister regardless, of course.
And then, one day, there are shouts of 'demons!' outside. Sounds of violence. Stupidly, recklessly, Lisara takes a careful, cautious peek outside.
The warriors bodies are scattered around. As she watches, one of them stabs himself in the throat, twitching. Folk are standing, terrified, in line in front of half a dozen red-skinned, scaly demons. One of the neighbors contorts and dances as the demons point and jeer. They kneel as one and are forced to chant a ragged, dead-sounding chorus - "Hail. Hail our new lord. Hail the demon general, Firaxal."
Demons can control any one person they can see. Not perfectly, not forever... But plenty long enough to make you stab yourself or march to a cage. They are a terrifying enemy, an evil that any ordinary person is helpless to, who make you walk into your own tortuous prison. Warriors train to use smoke, to ambush or overwhelm them... But, apparently, they failed.
As the demons go house-by-house, herding their thralls into wooden cages on wagons as they pass, Lisara grabs her bow. But her brothers talk her out of it... By the time she stands, draws the string, and fires, they'll have seen her, they'll have her. Instead she hides, sits, paralyzed, and... Prays. Feeling like a coward, she prays that the demons will pass her by, that she'll get away, that someone will come and kill them before they can haul her off to whatever demons do to the people they take.
Just when the demons will soon enter her door, drawn by little Klima's cries even as her family tries to keep the babe quiet and hide in nooks in the house, she feels - something. Like bursting into flame. Like being touched by one of the gods.
A glittering hole opens in the large hearth-room.
"What the devil is that, Lisara?!?"
"I don't know! Let's go!"
"It's - what the - is it safe-"
"Safer than letting the demons find us! Go, go!"
As it turned out, that hole in the air went straight to the training yard outside the biggest city in all of Firkin lands. There was yelling and confusion and disbelief, but it was clear that somehow, for some reason, a nobody from the small town of Forwyd could open holes in the air that let people cross vast distances in an instant.
They had her open one above the demons, strolling through the defeated village complacently and enjoying their effortless victory, and dropped enormous jars of burning oil through it.
It was her first taste of real violence. Seeing what agony the demons went through should have been - satisfying, vengeful. Instead, she threw up and couldn't be made to open another portal for an hour.
Some weeks later, having grown thoroughly sick of the sudden fame and the way everyone suddenly wanted to be her friend, even adored her, and constantly pestered for her to make more and more portals...
She felt sick. Yes, she was being useful, she had a really awesome magic power, she had the most famous warriors in the land teaching her to fight which was amazing... But somehow, everything was wrong. It didn't help that she doesn't really have much practice using the strange portals, or that nobody could come up with an explanation for them except 'a gift from the gods'.
One afternoon she just couldn't take it anymore. With three merchants' sons flirting with her and half a dozen other famous people waiting for their turn to talk to her or ask for another portal across the room to goggle at, she clambered onto a table, opened a portal to somewhere, and said, "I'll be back... Later, maybe."
In a forest somewhere, she sat, head in hands. Why is she being so ungrateful? So... Skittish? She should be jubilant, in the lap of luxury. There are half a dozen emotions warring in her head. Shame and disgust and anger and the cold certainty that she would be dead if not for a literal actual miracle.
"Gods? Can any of you hear me? ...Why? What do you want? Why me? Why now?"
She gets no answer.
She kills demons in their sleep. Demons are the epitome of evil, controlling humans and using them as slaves, torturing them. She spies on them with tiny portals the size of her iris in corners of the room, using one portal to find a spot for the next. It's terrifying, the thought that they'll notice her and then the demons will have someone who can make portals- But she can't really stop herself. She watches them joke with each other and eat in the same breath as they casually backhand a boy who can't be older than eight for being too slow to fetch them more cider. She steals poison from some apothecary and drips it into their mouths while they sleep. They gurgle and die.
It's only satisfying the first dozen or two times. Their 'slaves' don't celebrate. With few exceptions, they panic and mourn. They start keeping watches and she has to quickly close portals more than ones to keep from being detected. She is murdering scores of people. Demons who steal people and torture them, yes, but still... She finds she has little taste for killing people. Perhaps 'warrior' would have been a bad job... At any rate, she can't make herself keep doing it. Maybe if a demon were actively torturing someone. But she doesn't want to spy on them and watch for that either.
She wanders some more, feeling worse than before she got the damn power for squandering it so much.
Much later, wandering through a city whose name she can't pronounce on a different continent, still unable to stand the idea of going home for longer than a minute or two at a time, she opens a door and walks into somewhere... Stranger than usual. She doesn't hesitate to go into Milliways - she doesn't hesitate to go places generally anymore, since she can always just leave.