"Okay. Does anyone know where we are?"
That was Akasha, tired and exasperated and seemingly at the end of her patience. She had gotten here drained, as they all had, and hadn't gotten any better in the short time since. Her aura of light, a constant presence around her whether she was in armor or not, was at the dimmest they'd seen it since she was nearly slain by their "father" in the ruins of the Ruathym.
The only person to speak was Corundar, standing nearby on the highest precipice of rock he could find. He had one hand in contact with the ground, obviously trying to speak with the stones of this strange world. Overhead, the violet sky was ablaze with massive bands of scintillating blue and white. Occasionally, a rage of lavender fire shot down from the heavens, burning out before it could disappear over the distant horizon.
"No clue. I did not know where we were when I got here and I still do not know. Please stop asking."
The Lady of Light glared at him, her thin hands curling into angry fists. "You...!"
A swirl of blue silk marked Azure rising from his meditation. "Siblings, temper will not grant us prescience. We need to remain calm and solve the riddle of our location without fighting among ourselves." He looked between Earth and Life sharply. "Or would you both rather do what the Dark One's forces just failed to accomplish?"
Neither of them really meant it, but the slight contrition was enough to satisfy the monk. At least for now, he accepted it. "Good. Now how are we going to puzzle through this conundrum?"
Nyx didn't answer her blue-skinned brother. She was angry, brooding in her own way, hidden in a nearby shadow. This was typical for the Elementals. Too much power, no damn sense. She was most upset because she had no specific person to be upset with. The Dark Lady was as guilty as the rest; none of them had thought to consider a destination. None of them, not even her. It was infuriating, utterly frustrating.
She almost hoped the Maimed Lord would find them and send more minions to the slaughter. Her runesword was hungry, so very thirsty for death. Right now, she was of a mind to let the fiendish blade feast.
Nyx would not answer the question and the last two Elementals could not answer. Not because there was anything stopping them directly but simply because they were too far away to hear Azure's voice.
Byrne and Faile were on the other side of Corundar's outcropping, having an uncomfortable conversation of their own....
"Ummm..." Byrne hated how she sounded, how she was standing, but most especially how she was feeling. She was a few feet away from her winged sister, head bowed, shoulders slumped, shifting from one foot to the other in Faile's shadow.
From the Mistress of the Winds, there was only silence. She was sitting as she always did, balanced on the fronts of both feet, her legs folded under her, her wings arching up and curving back. Her fingers were tracing abstract pictures in the dirt, swirls of air erasing them moments after being drawn.
"I..." Byrne growled inwardly. She was a bloody warlord, a tyrant in the life she could no longer remember. She had ravaged nations and ruled a planet. A planet for Fire's sake! How could she be tongue tied talking to a feather-backed elf?!?
"I don't blame you."
Sputter. Byrne fell as silent as her sister had been for more than an hour now. They were simple words but she just could not believe she had heard them right. Finally, as the quiet seconds stretched into more than an empty minute, she found the cognizance to say, "You... you don't? You don't blame me?"
"That's right, Byrne. I don't." Each word was careful, meticulously phrased and nearly emotionless. For the normally flighty avariel woman, Faile was being incredibly, almost unbelievably, calm.
"So you aren't mad at me?"
Faile shook her head, her personal winds making her hair flow in hypnotic, unnatural patterns through the otherwise stagnant air. "No."
Byrne started to breathe a deep, soul-quenching sigh of relief.
"I am furious at you."
The breath caught in her throat. Caught and started to choke.
Faile stood up slowly, her agonized body only barely healed enough to let her stand. She was still bandaged, her skin ravaged by a godly fire that might never fully heal. Akasha had done what she could... but unless they all found a way to attain their divinity again, the scars of Byrne's single, terrible blaze might last forever.
Slowly, the winged elf walked past her, heading with staggered steps back to the rest of the groups. As she passed close to the Lady of Flames, she stopped and a single, deliberate breath. What came now was as hard for Faile to say as it was for Byrne to hear.
"I pushed you, did not back away when you warned me, and I was burned for it." Faile closed her eyes, steeling herself for the next words. "But it was you who burned me. You. My sister. Someone I love more than life."
Byrne dared only a slight turn of her head, just enough to see Faile in her peripheral vision. She had heard before that elves did not cry, that elves were not capable of weeping.
Apparently, she heard wrong.
"Byrne," Faile started moving away. "I don't blame you... but I also don't trust you. I may never trust you again."
Byrne sank to her knees as his sister walked away. There was nothing to say. No response to what was just the simple truth. She wanted to say so much but there were no words. No way to express her pain. Her utter disappointment in herself.
No. It wasn't disappointment. It was hate. So many times, she had wondered if the others were being changed by their powers. She did not understand them like she used to, no longer felt the same connection to her family that once bound them so close together. For many nights now, she had worried that they were becoming monsters...
But now she saw the truth. They weren't the monsters.