It was a small glimmer that caught Retvik’s eye, but Retvik was glad the glimmer had caught his attention. Out of the dark nothingness, a shimmering veil emerged. The vast yet delicate form of a star-scattered whale appeared, slowly drifting by and minding his own business. Its strange beauty had kept Retvik occupied far longer than he intended, as he only snapped back to reality as he felt a tug on his tail.
“You’ve been staring for a while.” Arkadin looked somewhat confused. “It’s just a stwhale.”
“A stwhale?” Retvik blinked. A quick glance behind him suggested that he had been staring into the depths for far, far too long. “Is… that what they are called?”
Arkadin shrugged. “I think the proper name for them is cetai asterion, but everyone just calls them stwhales. You seemed really engrossed in it.”
“Are they common?” Retvik asked. “Because that creature is… mesmerizing.”
“Common enough for Life Goddesses to catch unborn ones and turn them into deities.”
A strange laugh emanated from behind the two Decaylings. Both Arkadin and Retvik turned around to see who it was. Litvir stood awkwardly, carrying a book and smiling. “I apologise, I was laughing at my own potential joke, but I do not think you would find it funny.”
Arkadin rolled his eyes, tutting. “Is it a joke about a family member being large, just like that stwhale?”
Litvir’s smile faded. “Uh, yes. More specifically, a comment about the Panelix, who I assume is your sister.”
“Yep, thought as much…” Arkadin continued to tut. “What are you doing here anyway? We’re all supposed to be studying. And Retvik needs to adjust his internal clock so he doesn’t spend so long staring out into nothingness.”
“Is the time around here… different compared to the Thantir One and elsewhere?” Retvik asked. “It feels… slower.”
“It far slower than I am used to…” Litvir shrugged as he sat down next to Arkadin and Retvik. “A minute feels far longer than I remember but an hour feels far shorter. It is as if time is… not the same.”
“It isn’t the same!” Arkadin was still tutting and it was beginning to annoy Retvik. “Did you not read the whole part of the course on managing different amounts of space-time?”
Litvir glanced at Retvik then frowned. “I did, but I do not understand it. A lot of this stuff is… hard to understand. I believed myself to be a vastly intelligent being, but a lot of this knowledge is… above me.”
Retvik frowned, but Arkadin shrugged, clearly disagreeing.
“It’s not above you. You just haven’t reached it yet. You got thrust into a strange environment where time and space aren’t really… real, and you haven’t had long enough to adapt yet.”
“You believe I could be like you?” Litvir gasped.
“Like I said before, you kinda already are.” Arkadin beamed, putting an arm around both Retvik and Litvir. Or at least he tried to, what with being a lot smaller than his fellow Decaylings. “I have faith in all of us. We’re gonna grow up into a great trio of Decay Lords, I guarantee it…”