I'm not sure how we got here. None of this happened, aside from the bits that did. If you want a tl;dr, I think it all sums up to a plot contrivance.
All in all, Dawn found Elia, and Elia turned out to be a skull. Nobody is sure how it happened or even what it was on account of giant, aside from Dawn, who isn't sure on account of light. It was messing with her head. Really messing. She didn't mean to do most of that, but when you just can't focus because everything is just prying and pressing and jingling and glittering...
Did Greibel see it too? After she flew off, she realised she forgot to ask, but then the light was everywhere and there wasn't any fight left in her. All that was left was the light, the glorious, glorious light, and as the dragons swooped and roared, she did too, surrounded by the light, whooping in light.
But here's what didn't happen.
They were all in a plaza, paved in tiles arranged in random patterns of hues of blue that glimmered in the golden light. Dawn led the others toward the center, onto a section of black, and from there they looked around and waited, and then they stopped and listened. Or they might have, had it happened this way.
If it had, they might have heard the sounds of the plaza, and indeed, perhaps the entire city, bubbling up around them: the patter of footsteps, whirs of motion, clatters and clangs, snippets of conversation:
- Listen. There's a hell of a good universe next door. Let's go.
- We didn't see it this time either.
- I know, I know, but it'll show up eventually.
- What if it already did?
- Since we're not even looking in order, what difference would that make?
- Long time, eh?
- Naw, just a shorts. Didn't open it yet.
- Please take your panties with you.
- We're rich. We don't care.
- How do you know if something can talk? What if it only talks under certain specific circumstances, like if you dance with it under the third full moon of a new century in the rain?
- At some point you just have to assume it won't. We can't cover every variation; it's just not feasible.
- But then how do you avoid eating something that can?
- Sometimes you don't.
- Life was a lot easier when I just wanted to be a bird.
- This is so stupid.
- It probably won a prize.
- I don't love it.
- Excuse me.
- I believe you have something of mine. My mind, where is it?
- Cast off your clothing and your inhibitions! Partake in the taric! Rejoice, and frolic in the Land of Light!
- Don't worry.
- I wasn't worried until you told me not to worry.
- Dave? What are you doing here?
But they didn't hear any of this. Only Dawn might have, but she probably didn't hear it all either on account of the light. It's hard to listen in light of light, though that last voice wasn't from elsewhere at all, but simply right behind her - an elf in dusty clothing, looking tired and lost.
"Oh," he might have said as she turned. "You're not her, are you? I'm sorry. You looked so much like her from behind."
Dawn could have asked, "Who?"
"Well..." He would have gone on to ask about someone who looks like Dawn, if she or maybe even the others, if they had been there, which they hadn't, had seen the other. "Someone about her height, black hair, white skin, eyes like midnight? She isn't Dave, not really, but I think she might be a piece. I... dreamed of her here, and followed... oh, but that sounds so ridiculous when I put it to words."
He might have gone on, "In the dream she was wandering - lost. She was holding something, a symbol that looked so familiar, something I know I should know, but I don't."
Dawn might have said, "Monad."
The elf probably wouldn't have heard this, and instead would have continued, "And I followed her, but before I could reach her she came to a portal and passed through, just before it fell." But the details might have varied, something about portals not falling, something about the maintenance crews hauling it away, something about the hanus working on the pieces. The universe works how it works.
Dawn might have smiled politely. Had the others been there, they might have said more on the topic, since it probably would have been important, but unfortunately they were distracted by a giant at the time.
So the elf would have gone on. "Of course it was a dream! Doesn't mean... doesn't mean it wasn't... I know, I know, this is insane, but I've been drawn here. It's as the the dream was a command, a summons. I just found myself coming, so I came. And now I don't know where to look."
Now Dawn would have been interested. Probably. Except this wasn't even what happened, because she never did go off after a portal at all. There wasn't a portal involved at any point. She simply pulled the skull straight out of Midnight and the elf would have disappeared, had he even existed at all.
It's possible he hadn't, and the entire thing had been in Dawn's head after all, and had the others been there, they may or may not have shared in her dream regardless.
It doesn't matter now, though. This part of the story is over, and Dawn is gone.