Chapter 34: Ascension
Two days had passed since the coronation of the new Fairy Queen. Since then, life around Fablehaven had been fairly quiet, although most of the minor fairies, with the exception of Passion, Larissa and Goldenrod, were still relegated to the naiad's pond.
Right now, Seth was really starting to worry. Even though his obligation to the Singing Sisters had finally been fulfilled, and Murdred had been driven back to the Demon Domain, there was still the pressing matter of his exposure to the fairies. He was a shadow charmer, and bringing them back would likely still lead to conflict. Passion, Larissa and Goldenrod were okay around him, but they always seemed to be more accepting than most typical fairies.
Contact with the Fairy Kingdom had also been rather restrictive. With Brillia settling in to her new position, she and her siblings had become very busy adjusting to their new situation. The loss of the Fairy Queen was immensely tragic, but nobody gave up hope in that she may still be alive somewhere.
However, for this current evening, Bracken and Bright had agreed to come over for dinner. They had arrived at Fablehaven not too long ago, and were currently sitting together on a couch in the living room, along with the entire Sorenson family and Ingrid.
"How is everything in the Fairy Kingdom?" asked Kendra.
"Well, a lot of the commotion has died down, at least," replied Bracken. "But, Brillia seems fairly competent. I have faith in her."
"It won't be the same without Mother," said Bright. "I hope we can find her someday."
"It was very courageous of her," said Bracken. "Putting her life on the line in an effort to stop Murdred the way she did."
"But she only destroyed Murdred's evil eye," said Seth. "What if it grows back? What if Murdred himself comes back?"
"I don't have an answer for that," replied Bright. "Although I have a hunch that an eye with power of such magnitude won't grow back overnight. Or possibly ever. The power that took out that eye also took Mother and the instruments of eternal power with it, so it's a force to be reckoned with."
"Hey, I'm curious," said Bracken, sniffing the air around him. "What are you making for dinner, Ruth?"
"We're not making dinner," said Grandma. "We're having pizza."
"Pizza?" exclaimed Seth, sounding excited. "But, we never have pizza!"
"Yeah," added Kendra, who was sitting next to her brother. "You're always complaining that it's too greasy and fattening, and..."
"Shut up, Kendra," said Seth. "Before she changes her mind."
Grandma laughed. "It's quite all right. We have company tonight."
"We're back!" said Warren, as he and Dale walked into the living room in the direction from the dining room.
"Hold it!" exclaimed Ingrid. "Back from where?"
"From picking up pizza," replied Dale.
"Yeah, but how?"
"The Translocator," said Warren, holding up the artifact. "We may no longer have the instruments of eternal power, and we may not understand the Necromaster, but this baby still works."
"Well, if dinner is here," said Grandpa, "let's all take a seat in the dining room."
Everyone who was in the living room got up and made their way over to the dinning room, where they sat down at the table. Several large pizza boxes had been set down along the table.
"If everybody's ready, we can start eating," said Grandma.
Seth wasted no time in flipping open the nearest pizza box and helping himself to a slice of deluxe pizza. Gooey cheese dripped down from his slice and dangled itself onto Seth's plate. Since it had been prepared very recently, the pizza was still warm and fresh.
"This looks fabulous," said Ingrid, as she helped herself to a slice of bacon cheeseburger pizza. Ever since the defeat of Murdred, Ingrid had really warmed up to the family. She was much more pleasant to be around, and had groomed herself to the point where she barely resembled the grungy girl that Seth had first me in the Demon Domain.
"Seth, there's bacon and mushroom down here," said Warren, tapping the pizza box that was closest to him.
"Awesome," said Seth, as Warren passed the box over to him.
Dinner proved to be very satisfying and quite filling. Seth kept track of the five large slices of pizza that he ate, but couldn't help but notice that Ingrid ate just as many, possibly even one more.
"This pizza was delicious," said Clover. "But... I don't think I can eat any more."
"That's a shame," said Grandma. "Because I was hoping you made room for dessert."
Warren laughed. "There's always room for dessert around here."
Grandma then got up from her seat and went into the kitchen, bringing the remaining pizza boxes with her. While she was gone, everyone wiped pizza sauce off of their lips, and they collected all of the dirty plates, which Dale took into the kitchen. Once Dale came back, he switched off the chandelier that was illuminating the dining room.
"Dale, what'd you do that for?" asked Ingrid.
Grandma then walked into the dining room, carrying a large birthday cake, the candles of which lit up the area around her. She started to sing "Happy Birthday" to Ingrid, and the rest of the family was quick to join in.
"Oh my god," said Ingrid with a huge smile, as Grandma set the flaming cake down in front of their guest just as the singing had finished.
"It's no Omega Star," said Grandpa, "but blow out the candles and make a wish."
Ingrid took in a deep breath, then proceeded to blow all the candles out in one shot. Everyone cheered for Ingrid in response.
"This is so nice of you," said Ingrid, as Dale flicked the light back on. "How come you're doing all this for me?"
"Because... we're nice people," said Kendra with a smile.
Ingrid didn't know what to say, as Seth proceeded to start plucking the burnt candles out of the cake and licking the chocolate frosting off of their bottoms.
"We've got ice cream, too," said Dale, returning from the kitchen carrying a tub of French vanilla. As Grandma started to place cake slices onto plates, Mr. Sorenson scooped out ice cream onto them as well.
"It's been too long since somebody's had a birthday around here," said Warren with a guilty grin on his face, as a plate of cake and ice cream was passed around to him. "I was going through birthday withdrawal."
"You've got a birthday coming up in May, don't you?" asked Grandma.
Warren's voice was muffled, as he was in the middle of forking his mouth full of cake.
"What'd he say?" asked Ingrid.
"Warren plus chocolate cake equals... this," said Dale. "He won't respond until he's licked the plate clean."
The cake and ice cream was indeed delicious, as everybody at the table savored them as they ate. Kendra didn't know how, but even after eating all that pizza, she still managed to find room for dessert.
"You people have been so kind to me," said Ingrid, once everyone had finished dessert. "I feel bad that I don't have any way of repaying you."
Grandpa shook his head. "Don't worry about it. It was no trouble at all. Our pleasure. You don't owe us anything."
"If you all don't mind, perhaps we can adjourn to the living room?" asked Grandma suggestively.
After clearing the table of all the dishes, everybody made their way into the living room. Kendra and Seth sat down on a couch, while Ingrid sat between the two of them.
"What now?" asked Ingrid.
"Now's the best part about having a birthday," said Seth with a smile.
"Being with friends?"
"No way! Presents!"
Everyone laughed. Grandpa and Grandma then presented a wrapped box to Ingrid and placed it down in her lap. She proceeded to tear it open. Inside was a box containing a pair of brand new sneakers.
"These are wonderful!" said Ingrid, pulling out the shoes to get a closer look.
Other family members began presenting Ingrid with their own gifts, most of which consisted of various articles of clothing. Being homeless, Ingrid was grateful for each and every one that she received.
"Thank you so much for everything!" said Ingrid. "It was nice of Kendra to lend me her clothing, but having my own is just so much better."
"You've still got one more gift," said Mrs. Sorenson. "This one is from Scott and myself."
Mrs. Sorenson then presented a document envelope to Ingrid.
Kendra felt confused. "Mom, what exactly is your gift? You and Dad never told us."
Kendra and Seth's parents and grandparents all smiled as Ingrid tore open the seal on the envelope. She then proceeded to pull out several pages of paper that were stapled together.
"Oh my god..." said Ingrid, once she had started to read what was written on the paper. "Are you people serious?"
"Why?" asked Seth. "What does it say?"
"Your parents," began Ingrid, as she dropped the papers, "want to adopt me. These are all the papers."
"What?" gasped Dale.
"For real?" asked Warren.
"I talked with Marla and my folks about this," said Mr. Sorenson. "We feel that a loving family is what Ingrid truly needs. And she's already been exposed to the magical world, so it seems like an adequate fit. That is, of course, if you agree to it, Ingrid."
"A family?" asked Ingrid. "You really mean it?"
"The papers are all authentic and valid," said Grandpa. "They're meaningless until they've been signed, but once they have, then Scott and Marla Sorenson will officially become your your legal guardians."
Tears started to flood Ingrid's eyes, and she proceeded to cry.
"Hold on," said Kendra, "that means I'll be getting... a sister?"
"That's right," said Mrs. Sorenson. "Dad and I would be her foster parents, while you and Seth would be her foster siblings."
"Another sister?" asked Seth. "I've already got one of those! I wanted a brother!"
Everyone in the room looked at Seth.
"Kidding!," said Seth, holding up his hands. "Just kidding! Sisters are awesome. Both of them."
"Well, if Ingrid is to become your sister, it's up to her to make it official," said Mr. Sorenson. "Ingrid, what do you say?"
Ingrid wiped away the tears that were dripping down her cheeks. "Yes!"
Mr. Sorenson nodded, then picked up the fallen papers and placed them onto the coffee table. Mrs. Sorenson then handed a pen to Ingrid, and pointed to the lines where she was required to sign her name. Ingrid penned in her signature in all the various spots. After that, Mr. and Mrs. Sorenson, both signed a few other lines.
"Well, this is it," said Mr. Sorenson. "We now officially have three children. We're a family of five!"
"Group hug," said Seth, as he leaned over and hugged Ingrid. Kendra joined in, as did their parents.
"Hey, we're family too!" said Warren as he joined in on the hugging. As if on cue, Dale joined in as well, as did Clover, Grandpa and Grandma.
"Guess Bright and I are the only ones who aren't family..." said Bracken. "Although I think we came pretty close at that coronation."
"Who cares?" asked Seth. "A hug's a hug."
Bright and Bracken then got up and joined in on the massive group hug.
Afterwards, the family went on to discuss how they were going to convert the guest bedroom into a permanent room for Ingrid. They would have to look in to giving the room a spiffy new paint job in Ingrid's color of choice, as well as shop for some new furniture. As per their arrangement, Ingrid also agreed to be home-schooled along with Kendra and Seth.
Later that evening, most of the family had moved to the garden outside. Although the sun had set, the garden was kept fairly well-lit.
Seth was standing over at the far edge of the garden, looking down into the koi pond that lay before him. Still at her reduced size, Seth watched as Mariana swam around towards the front end of the pond, where he was able to keep a close eye on her.
"I guess with the instruments no longer with us, it won't be easy restoring Mariana to her normal size," said Seth.
Bright, who was standing nearby, walked over towards Seth.
"I wouldn't worry about it too much. We may no longer have the Sizeshifter, but that doesn't mean we're powerless. Besides, Dale's found that Mariana actually enjoys staying in this pond, so perhaps if we talk to Jeff, we can arrange to have her stay here, at least for now."
"Really? That's great!"
"I also have a surprise for you," said Bright, tugging gently on Seth's arm. Seth then turned around, and saw a large court of small fairies flying towards him.
"What's going on?" exclaimed Seth, as the fairies came closer, heading towards Seth. "No! What are they doing back here? Grandpa, help!"
"Seth, it's all right," said Bright, as the fairies flew up to where Seth was standing. Seth backed away from the fairies, but he was unable to outrun them.
"Bright, get rid of them!" blurted Seth, as several fairies circled around Seth, then perched themselves upon his head and shoulders.
Seth took in a deep breath, then eased himself as none of the fairies appeared to be threatening him. Rather, they were singing in their bell-like voices.
"What's going on?" asked Seth, as all of the fairies continued to sing, while they begun to fly around in a formation in front of him.
"The fairies are no longer uncomfortable around you," said Bright, as the smaller fairies all started to glow pink and produced a heart formation in their movement. "For some reason, you're no longer emitting dark energy, and they want to apologize for the way they've treated you."
"But, how did you know? I mean, why did you know to allow them back into the yard?"
"You can thank us," said Passion, as she, Larissa and Goldenrod flew up to Seth. "Ever since that incident with Murdred, we haven't been able to detect any darkness from within you."
"But, why?" asked Seth.
"We're not sure," replied Bright. "But it seems to have something to do with the defeat of Murdred. The force that destroyed Murdred's evil eye, which also took Mother and the Omega Star with it, also released you from Murdred's influence. In a way, it may have cleansed you of your darkness. Destroying Demoric may have had something to do with it as well."
"But, that's impossible!" exclaimed Seth, as he gently patted one of the fairies that was on his arm with the tips of his fingers. "Last night I was invisible to my dad when I was in my unlit bedroom. Besides, I don't feel any different."
"Really? That's... odd. You still appear to be a shadow charmer, however these fairies here are admiring you. It's almost as though the darkness within you has been neutralized, and thus the fairies are no longer revolted by your presence."
"Yeah, we pretty much mistook you for normal," said Goldenrod.
"So, we agreed to give the rest of the fairies another chance," said Larissa. "So far, so good."
"This is great!" said Seth, as he leapt into the air in excitement. Seth then walked over to a nearby bench and sat down by himself. However, the fairies opted not to follow him. Instead, they flew over to visit other members of his family. Seth didn't mind. Not only was he free from his debt to the sisters, but the fairies no longer had any qualms with him.
Ingrid then walked over to the bench where Seth was, and sat down next to him.
"Hey," said Seth, as he looked over the rest of his family.
"You looked happy a moment ago," said Ingrid. "Now you look like you want to be alone."
"I am happy," said Seth. "But I'm also disappointed."
"Is this about the Fairy Queen?"
"Not really. I mean, I feel bad about what happened. But I lost something that can't be replaced. Another shadow charmer."
"What do you mean?"
Seth looked over at Warren and Clover. The two of them were sitting on a bench together, kissing each other. He then took a glance at Kendra and Bracken who were seated on another bench, holding hands.
"Even though she was the enemy, and a hoax, I had feelings for Sarah," said Seth, looking down at the ground. "I believed that she was another shadow charmer. And I was feeling so alone and hopeless, that the promise of another person whom I could relate to gave me hope. It was false hope, but it felt real to me. And now, I have nobody. I'm back to being the only shadow charmer. Kendra and Warren get to associate with the fairies. What do I get? Demons I want nothing to do with."
"Hey," said Ingrid, placing her hand on Seth's shoulder. "I'll be your friend, if you don't mind the fact that I'm not very special."
Seth looked over at Ingrid, then gave her a hug. "You're special enough for me. And I'm glad to have you as my sister."
"Thank you, brother," said Ingrid, hugging Seth back.
Kendra then looked over at Seth and Ingrid, and couldn't help but smile.
"They look so happy together," said Kendra. "I'm glad Ingrid's going to live with us. We're not just gaining a sister, but a friend as well."
Bracken smiled, then placed his arm over Kendra's shoulder. "You know, Kendra, there's something I've been meaning to ask you."
"I know you weren't ready to become Queen, and that's fine. But, how will you know when you are ready?"
"I can't explain it," replied Kendra. "I still need to grow up before I'll be ready. And that's only if your mother hasn't returned by then."
"Of course," said Bracken.
"However, if and when I become Queen, there is one thing that I've decided upon."
"If I do become Queen, I'm going to need a king to rule by my side."
Bracken's face immediately turned red. Before he could react, Kendra embraced Bracken in a hug and gave the unicorn a kiss on his lips.
A/N: Be sure to check out the next story in the series, "Chaos in the Infernal Realm".