"Has anyone else noticed something?"
They had been walking a long time. So long that they had made camp, broken camp, walked until they were tired, and did so again. There was nothing to eat but Akasha's magic was capable of creating food, even if it had basically no flavor and the consistency of lumpy mud.
Azure was the first one to answer Corundar's question. "I have noticed that I am proud of my aestetic lifestyle."
"Because that way, I am not disappointed that the inside of my mouth tastes like a quarry."
The Lady of Light scowled. "Would you rather starve?"
The blue elven monk shook his head. "No, I wouldn't. I was commenting because of the chorus of complaints at last night's repast."
Corundar pointed at Azure. "There! That's what I am talking about!"
The monk master looked confused, an all too common expression of late. "You were wondering if we'd noticed how much we complained lately?"
The big man sighed, his massive shoulders slumping in exasperation. "No. You know, for a paragon of wisdom, you can be pretty damn dumb at times. Where is all that monastic insight when we need it?"
Without missing a heartbeat, Azure replied, "You are calling me stupid?" One pale white eyebrow raised, letting everyone around him know that the Lord of Water was about to open up a verbal fire hose.
Nyx cut the moment of silence with a hiss and a hollow rasp. She spent most of her time in armor these days, something that quite rightfully unnerved her siblings. "Stop it."
Corundar blinked and looked to his dark sister. "What?"
"I am getting tired of the fighting. If we insist on attacking each other, perhaps we should just do so honestly and get it over with."
Akasha shook her head frantically, light pouring from her hands as she held them up. "No! No fighting. Please! I don't like it when we get like this. I won't have any of my sisters or brothers hurting each other!"
Under her breath, Faile murmured, "Too late." No one around her heard it but all the way at the other end of the group, Byrne caught the comment. Inwardly, she died just a little bit more.
Oblivious, Corundar rumbled a quiet apology and looked back up at the shadowy night sky. Perhaps the comment was sincere, perhaps it was just a token to satisfy Akasha, but it was said all the same and it seemed to defuse the situation. For now. Nyx glowered, the black flames around the eye slits of her helm burning a little smaller as she pressed on down what passed for a path in this endless wasteland.
They had been heading towards what seemed like a coastline on the horizon. The thought had been, 'find water and follow the coast, eventually you'll find civilization'. After all this time, however, they weren't any closer to the coast... assuming the end of visible land far in the distance even was a coast. They had been to planes where the world just ended.
"I do not know if I can take much more of this," Akasha said quietly. She might have been referring to the walk, the fighting, or both. "This would be so much easier if we could still..."
The Lady of Light trailed off, but everyone knew what she was going to say and why she didn't say it. They had been able to travel between the planes without needing a portal or gate. That was before they had betrayed a loved one's trust and before Akasha herself had broken his heart. That had been before a lot of things...
"That was then, sister. This is now." That was Faile, talking softly. Her offering comfort in this was surprising to most of them. It was no secret that Akasha's driving Vertrius away had also driven a rift between Light and Air. The pale, gentle vampire had been loved by them all but none had cared for him as much as Faile. "Talking about it won't get us through another day."
"There! That's it exactly!" Again Corundar was shouting and again he was pointing.
Faile frowned visibly, even through her bandages. "Cor, give it a rest. I wasn't complaining."
The Lord of Earth stomped his iron-shrouded foot and shook the ground, nearly toppling them all. "I am not talking about complaining! Haven't any of you noticed something about this place?"
"There's nothing good to eat?"
"Screw you, Azure!"
"Don't. She'll only leave you too."
"And you, Fay!"
Corundar pointed at the sky. "We've been here a long damn time and it's still night. There haven't been any days. There isn't a moon or stars. There's no life at all and no light except those bands of magic in the sky."
"What is your point, Corundar?" Akasha was clearly at the edge of her patience. "Quickly."
"My point is that we were all in the last monolith when Tovag Baragu exploded, remember? We were almost to Vecna's realm when everything went boom."
Azure rubbed his side; there was a wound there from part of the funeral bier of Tharuzdin. That cut would never completely heal - not while the Lord of All Destruction was partially free. "Don't remind me."
"Well apparently I do... because I think I figured out what you all haven't."
Corundar chose to ignore the insult and press on. "Look, I think I know where we are."
Byrne growled. "Then enlighten us..."
"I think we've spent all this time looking for the monolith to get to Tovag Cavitus when all we had to do was what we did. Teleport without a destination again." He pointed to the sky. "Remember the glimpse we got through the portal before it closed and we got thrown into the Astral? It looked just like that!"
They all stared. They stared hard.
Then they looked back at Corundar.
Azure thought out loud. "We must have carried the monolith with us magically. We were in it... and now it is inside us."
Nyx unsheathed Mancleaver and stared down the runesword's glittering black edge. "Then we are finally at the end at the journey."
"Well, sort of."
They all stared at Corundar again. Azure said what they were all thinking. "What do you mean, 'sort of'?"
A man that size should never be able to look that sheepish, but somehow the titan of Earth managed to do so. "Ummmm... does anyone know which direction to go now?"
The silence was epic.