“Five million years!”
Tenuk kept his head low as Death screeched at him.
“FIVE MILLION YEARS! WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU FOR FIVE MILLION YEARS?”
Eventually, Death’s screeches left the sound spectrum and became completely inaudible to Tenuk. Part of him was regretting showing up, or even bothering in general. It wasn’t like he’d tried to send cards and letters and stuff, but it was never easy getting things delivered to what was essentially the afterlife.
“I can explain.”
“WELL GET STARTED!”
Tenuk sighed, then sat down. Death remained standing, covered in angry black tendrils.
“Five million years ago, I got caught up in the Great Merge. You remember that, right? I lost everything that I had ever cared about. It all just… disappeared. Except that wasn’t the problem for me. I ended up being a Kronospast again. Which meant that Veth started coming after me. I had no choice but to flee back to my father’s arms, or find myself in Stasis’s void.”
“You could have come here to prove yourself!” Death growled. “Like you did before!”
Tenuk shook his head. “No. I couldn’t. The Great Merge did more than tear a galaxy in three. It closed every single one of the access points I had to Kinigi. Every single one. Even if I wasn’t such a coward, I wouldn’t have been able to reach you anyway. I discovered a handful of new ones but they were all guarded by fucking terrifying Veth. They’d rip me apart on sight!”
Death was still angry. “I sent Veth out to find you though.”
“Did you? Seemed more like you were trying to murder me! Do you know how many Kronospasts needlessly died trying to protect the son of Lord Avra? Too damn many! I was thankful when you gave up after a century! None of the Veth you sent suggested you wanted to see me again, so I kept to myself!”
“Well what could I have done to convince you?” Death sneered.
“I don’t know! Not send Deitic-killing monsters to hunt me down? You could have sent Retvik or Elksia or Vaxavis or Iatre or Xen-Kay or any of the other Veth that I personally knew while they were alive! And you could have got them to not kill other Kronospasts! We are not the bad guys!”
Death growled, then sat down. “Technically you are. Your kind wars in the name of Stasis.”
“If we fight in his name, that means Stasis won’t come down again and fuck us all over and cause another Dessaron Era or a Great Merge or something like that!” Tenuk argued as best he could. “I can’t help being a child of Stasis but if we do things the Kronospast way, then we don’t end up slaughtering entire populations like the Anexartans and their allies would.”
Death was still growling. Her anger wasn’t quite eternal, nothing within the Cycle ever was, but she was still incredibly angry.
“I… I missed you, Tenuk.”
Tenuk sighed. “I know. I’m sorry, Death, that I stopped communicating with you. I didn’t know how to. I think we got our wires crossed, misunderstanding each other.”
“We did. I did…” Death finally admitted. “I thought you were angry at me. I know I’m partially to blame for the Great Merge, I didn’t keep track of what Stasis and Kairos were doing and I should have taken better care of my remaining A’Vatas. I didn’t think they’d fuck up like that. I know I would not have been able to stop it, but I could have at least limited its effects… I just… didn’t expect it…”
“You can’t blame yourself for everything, Death…” Tenuk considered putting his arm around her but didn’t want to risk harming himself. “I mean… it was all so chaotic and weird and nonsensical, there was no way you could have predicted it. Us Kronospasts certainly didn’t… But really…” Tenuk paused, wondering why there were no cups of tea lying around.
Death glanced at Tenuk, realising what he was thinking. She snapped her fingers and a table with a tray and two mugs on it appeared.
“I stopped drinking tea when you stopped visiting…” Death sighed. “Just not the same. Don’t even get many guests around here any more…”
“You think this universe is winding down and dying?”
“No… But it’s starting. Stasis hasn’t noticed. Neither has Kairos. But I just don’t keep up with them as much as I used to. They won’t notice for at least ten billion years. I notice though.”
Tenuk smiled. “It doesn’t matter, really. You’ve got me. And this time, if anything bad happens, I know how to contact you.”
Death’s frown also started to turn into a smile. She reached down to her tail and pulled off a small, black tendril. She then put it in her mouth, sucked on it, then handed it to Tenuk.
Tenuk gave Death a funny look. “That’s…”
“A part of me. Every Veth has a part of me in them, so I know where they all are. Most of the time. The same applies to this.”
“Why did you suck it?”
“To remove the deadly poison that coats my black tendrilly bits. If you’ve got a part of me, I’ll know where you are!”
Tenuk hesitantly accepted the tendril and put it in a pouch on his belt. “Thank you, Death.”
Suddenly, Death perked up, her smile turning into a grin. “Say, do you have anything you need to do right now?”
Tenuk shrugged. “No?”
“I have a bunch of Angels round back who were plotting to try and do something to my Veth. Want to help me torture them for more information?”
“Um, I’ll pass for now, if that’s okay. I’m not a fan of torture.”
“Alrighty! I’ll let you go and do your Tenuk-y stuff! See you round, Tenuk!”
Tenuk grinned as he got up to leave. “See you soon, Death.”