The small crowd milled about nervously. Waiting for the desctruction of everything you had known in life was nervewracking. Youjutsu knew this better than almost anyone else in the room. After all, this was his second go around.

He smiled grimly as the few gods who were to live through the experience were herded into the room holding the core of the universe. He felt kind of bad for them. It was not going to be a fun ride. Watching as the ceremony was performed, watching as the universe crumbled around you, watching the core's - the heart's - dying throes, watching the Fourth and the last of that universe's Three suddenly collapse and die, their hearts having burst wide open. Watching as Seibo forced herself not to mourn, forced herself to carry on and begin a new universe. It was heartbreaking. He was glad he wouldn't have to see it again.

He was, of course, rather dismayed at the whole "returning to one's element" thing that the non-returning gods had to go through. Having his body turn into pure, free-floating magic was not exactly his favorite way to die. If he could have, he would have switched with the fire or water gods and burned to death or turned to water. But, as it were, he supposed it could have been worse. He could have been the deity of plants or animals. He definately was not keen on the idea of slowly turning into a bunch of dead and decaying animals and the like. It might have explained why he was holding onto Kemono so hard she could hardly breath. In fact, it did.

Kemono herself wasn't too keen on the idea of dying, but given all that Youjutsu had told her, she figured she was better off this way. If nothing else, it meant staying with Youjutsu, and that was good enough for her. Her husband held her tighter as the ceremony started, and she clutched his hand.

Around them, the others stopped pacing and walking and began to settle down for the end. Some of them, like the water god, were determined to take the event as resignedly as possible. Others, like the god of love, fidgeted and squirmed impatiently, looking sick. Still others, such as Youjutsu's little brother and the goddess of light, broke down and sobbed, crying and wailing and whimpering. Youjutsu left Kemono to calm his brother, calling Kemono over to them when he couldn't convince him to go with him to her.

The ceremony continued, and things began to change. Those who had ruled over more "fluid" things began to change first. The water god, suddenly feeling very ill, pitched forward and vomited water, his skin taking an almost frightening liquid sheen to it. Nearby, the fire god began to give off smoke, crying hoarsely as he began to burn through his clothes and melt the floor. The air goddess frowned grimly as her hair and feathers began to disappear, turning to wind. The goddess of light was becoming hard to look at as she began to glow ever brighter. No one wanted to look at the god of love as his veins slowly started bursting, his skin opening to let the blood out. Youjutsu's brother began a fresh round of sobs as Youjutsu found it increasingly hard to hold him as he began to fade away.

The ceremony continued. Youjutsu's brother found it hard to hold onto him as well as his bones began to disappear, his fingers, toes, and hair turning into vines and leaves and dying as they went. He almost threw up as Kemono's fingers and toes suddenly turned into worms and maggots, dropped off, and died. The god of earth and goddess of the moon squirmed, or tried to squirm, as their bodies began to harden to rock, the god's crumbling as it did. The twin gods of technology and civilization held eachother's hands as the former began to turn to wire and metal and the latter to a variety of things, each somehow more disturbing than the last.

The ceremony went ever onward. Youjutsu grimly willed himself substance and clung to his little brother and Kemono, although neither felt it, as both had died soon after their transformations began. He watched as the embers of what was once the god of fire cooled and died, mixing with the puddle that had been the god of water. He decided that if he, Yhkam, and Paylmri were reincarnated at the same time, he would waste no time in helping Yhkam kick her stupid fucking ass. If she hadn't killed Yhkam, then Shirlairu wouldn't have died, and Feriasu wouldn't have killed her and been executed for it, and Nenerain wouldn't have killed himself. If she hadn't been such a stupid, jealous whore, then five gods - three of them, including the bitch herself, major gods - wouldn't have died in such a short period of time. The balance wouldn't have been so horribly fucked up that, even with Seibo's return and the appointing of replacements, the entire universe was screwed over and completely doomed. All because one goddess - one temporary goddess - was in love with one god and jealous of his fiancee, and decided to " fix things" on their wedding day...

The ceremony reached the last stretch. Youjutsu would have smiled grimly if he still had a face, or screamed if he still had lungs. His body had almost completely gone by then, as had the air goddess's. Nearby, the love god gurgled weakly, coughing up one last mouthful of blood before dying. Youjutsu figured it was for the best. He didn't want to be alive when the sun goddess died. For that matter, neither did he. He paused in his thinking, then was gone. The air goddess followed suit. The light goddess gave a strangled cry and dissipated.

The sun goddess, the last deity left of the dying, suddenly expanded and then collapsed into a tiny, extremely dense piece of matter, like a star's death on fastforward.

The ceremony ended. The core died, and was no more. The last of the Three and the Fourth died. The remaining gods sobbed, save for Seibo, who settled for biting her lip until blood ran down her chin, dripping down and staining her robes and splattering on the floor. She almost, almost cried as a new, tiny core appeared where the previous one had been. Instead, she continued. Four universes left...

Far away and yet nowhere at all, a large room full of people quited suddenly as the writing slowed and stopped, writing utensils of various forms clattering to the desks as the books slammed shut and were carried away, new ones being put in their place. The surprisingly few living writers stretched wearily and clocked out, new ones taking their place, the " overseer" resetting the almost infinite automated writers as the living ones switched. Most of the crowd left, carrying the books to the library next door. A quite, sad sort of air settled about the place until the Fate of the Future hurried in and told the current " overseer" - a very tired looking Fate of the Present to get ready. So they got ready.

The sound of furious writing was decidedly dimmed by the explosions outside.