This was like the fiftieth question Vel and Iatre had asked. Of course, Arkay was an older Veth than them both, but not by that much. Despite that, they seemed to think Arkay knew everything.
“Why has Death sealed us all inside one crate? Is she using a local postage service or something to deliver us to Stasis or something?” Vel seemed genuinely confused.
“She likes putting things in crates,” Arkay replied bluntly. “It amuses her. And if something amuses her, she will continue to do it until it stops amusing her.”
Vel sighed. “I feel cramped.”
“Get used to it.” Arkay, Iatre and Ignis were all far less comfortable than Vel was. At least he could wrap his tentacles around him. The three of them had large wings that they needed to keep flat against their bodies. To Ignis’s credit though, he’d been quiet for the whole trip. Arkay had no idea who he was, and neither did Vel or Iatre. All they knew was that Ignis was incredibly young for a Veth still alive at the end of the universe. From what Death had hinted (because they all knew she wouldn’t tell them anything), Ignis was from one of the last Thrope-like races to go extinct, but otherwise, they didn’t know.
“So Ignis,” Iatre suddenly interrupted. “You ever fought a real god?”
Ignis blinked. “No?”
Iatre did one of his four facial expressions that showed happiness. “I have.”
“I have heard the story. You attacked Stasis. He got scared and threw you across the universe in a panic. You often do not tell that part.”
Arkay and Vel both glanced at each other. Few were ever that forthright with Iatre. Fewer lived to tell the tale. Rather than be insulted though, Iatre took the opportunity to ask questions about Ignis.
“Well, at least I have a fancy story to tell people. You though, you’re a silent nothing. Do YOU have any fun stories?”
Ignis didn’t seem to react at first, as if he was lost in thought. Finally, he spoke. “I think you and I, Iatre, were once of the same species. Separated by billions, if not trillions of years.”
“I do. You were at the start of our kind. I was the end. The origin system, it all died. Burned away. I watched. I was lucky, my ship was at the edges of the system already. Most others burned alive. A swift death, I hope.”
“W-were you a thrope?” Vel asked, feeling slightly uneasy.
“A thrope? I am unsure what you mean by that term. But I assure you, Iatre, we were both… human, were we not?”
If Vel was feeling uneasy, then there were no words to describe how Iatre felt. It had been too long since he’d felt anything negative, and Ignis’s words hurt him more than he anticipated.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to answer,” Ignis suddenly smiled. “But I assure you, we all have many stor- Ooph!”
The crate they were all in suddenly came to a halt, sending them all flying forward. Outside, Death could be heard giggling. The heavy, wooden door fell open, blinding the Veth with the bright light outside. The four Veth slowly stepped out, blinking.
In front of them was a huge, glistening palace, covered in white and gold decor. Rather than being surrounded by the traditional pink sky of Kinigi, the sky was full of young stars, the glowing galactic clouds of a stellar nursery.
“Where are we?” Vel finally asked, his eyes almost hurting from the bright light he clearly was not used to.
Death smiled and waved for them to follow her.
“This, my little friends, is the last nebula of the universe. And soon, you four will remind everyone the power of the Cycle…”