Author's Notes: This is the final and last chapter to Drifting Destiny. I'd like to thank all my readers and reviewers. I'd especially like to thank the people who offered constructive criticism to the plot, and I hope I manage to clear up a few plotholes in this chapter. I may or may not write Escaflowne again depending on my writing schedule for the summer. If not, then it's been a pleasure being able to post this story for everyone to read. Happy reading!
Drifting Destiny: Epilogue
"Who are they?" I whispered to Folken as I watched the several men outside the small cottage. I would call them ruffians, but they appeared to have good heads on their shoulders as they had masked their presence favorably before now. I gripped Folken's shoulder as the muscles in my back screamed out in protest. I could feel Van's pain, and every part of me wanted to rip the place down looking for him.
"K'alins, but I thought they were extinct. What's wrong?" He asked me in concern. My wings were on the edge of bursting from my back, but I gritted my teeth to keep them in place. If Van could hold on a little while longer, then so could I. My back burned with fire as I dug my fingernails into the dirt. "Why didn'tthey approach us during the war? Why now? Couldn't they have joined Dornkirk?"
"They were, for a short period of time. Dornkirk let them go after one tried to assassinate me. K'alins are our natural born enemies. They hate us because our wings are pure while there's are bathed in shadow. I think they left me alone after one of them saw my black wings; I wasn't worth their time if I was already dying. Why now? I don't believe they wanted to fight on either side because both sides had a Draconian at the head. They probably wanted to attack as soon as they knew we didn't kill each other, but why not a month ago?" he pondered as I rocked back on my heels in shock.
"Me; they wanted me," I whispered as I began to crawl toward the house. "They were waiting until I had merged into the Draconian clan." The revelation didn't leave me with any bitter resentment, but I knew I had to get to Van. My resolve hardened,and I drew closer to the cottage. Folken reached forward to grab my foot, and I tried to shake him off. "He needs me," I growled back at him as I tried to claw forward again.
"What's happening to him, Hitomi?" Folken asked with deadly calm, as his grip remained steady on my foot. I was grateful he waited for me in a rendezvous near the house, but now I wish he had gone on ahead. I rode halfway on horseback, and when my horse fell into exhaustion, I continued the way on foot. My wings were not strong enough yet to carry me across the forest.
I hadn't told anyone, but I knew why I was sick. Varie had come to me last night, and she held me in my dreams while I despaired. My body was being pulled apart in two directions, the aftermath of becoming a Draconian. My body rejected the DNA of the Draconians unlike people before me, and my body would fade if another Draconian did not offer their life essence to me soon. Food offered momentary supplement, but it would not keep me alive much longer.
"They're cutting into his back. They've only been at it for a few minutes now, but he's in terrible pain, Folken. I can feel every move they make on him through our bond," I whispered as I sagged in defeat. The effort to move was draining me, and I suppose I looked wan in the daylight. Folken wouldn't notice in his worry over Van, but Van would surely ask questions on sight.
"No," Folken answered in disbelief. "They wouldn't need his feathers unless the K'alins were continuing the experiments they started during the war. We have to get him out of there now before they kill him," Folken growled in determination as he pulled my to the right. I have to ignore the gleam in his eyes as I'm dragged roughly along to the side of the house.
Broken glass litters the ground in one spot and a few pieces cling to the broken window frame. A door, half-covered in moss lay innocently to the right, and I would have to cross the ground barefoot to reach it. "Can you cause a diversion?" I ask as I search the surrounding area. What lies ahead is probably a trap, and we need to lure the trap away from Van.
"In front of the K'alins? It will be risky for me, but I can," he answered shortly. Translation: I might die trying, but we are going to rescue Van if it's the last thing I do. I watched him sneak off to the front as I attempted to quietly approach the door. I say attempted because the glass crunched under and into my feet as I made my way to the plant covered structure.
The door wasn't locked, but it didn't need to be. The wood grated against stone, and the door only moved a centimeter when I put my entire weight into opening it. Broken glass cut into my feet as I put both feet on the door to pull it out of place. The door moved millimeter by millimeter as until finally it came crashing open. I landed on the ground with glass digging into my back.
Every step of the way, Van's torment reverberated through my body, but I forced myself into a standing position. A little part of me was lost with every ounce of effort I used in my quest to find Van. When I found the room, I became a creature of darkness as I used every means available to reach Van. A mad doctor fell, and a K'alin met his death as I overturned a tablewith various instruments on it.
I ripped the coat from the doctor and placed it on Van's shivering form. "It's alright, Van. You can let your wings go free now," I whispered to his small frame as I hugged him. A cry broke from his lips as his magnificent wings unfurled from his back. Instead of the pure white I expected to see, they weretipped in black. The wings were both beautiful and horrifying to look at, but I kept my gaze steady.
Van's wings brushed the jacket I placed on him aside, and I shuddered at the look of his back. Uncountable scratches marred his tan skin, and blood dripped from the wounds. I picked up the discarded jacket as I used the tan piece of material as a bandage to stop the bleeding. "Can you move?" I asked wearily as I let my gaze wander to his face. I cut the straps from him witha sharpened tool.
Without opening his eyes, he attempted to feebly push his body off the table. I barely caught him as he fell to the side of the metal contraption without the bonds holding him in place. He didn't protest as I pulled his arm across my shoulder. I cautiously placed my right arm around his lower back, and I could feel his angst. I felt myself weakening further, and I knew we wouldn't make it more than a hundred meters.
Guards ran passed us without a second glance, and the smoke that soon filled the room told me why. Folken must have started a fire somewhere in small cottage, and particles soon burned at the corners of my eyes. Van was getting heavier, and his breathing was erratic at best. I stumbled out the door into the foliage outside, but chaos would not leave us be.
K'alins and ruffians alike were running about to put out the fire; the element spread to the outside where men screamed as their cloaks caught alight. Van withheld his pain, but it burned within me as we shared all experiences now. Our bond had both pleasure and a curse to its namesake, and if I faded into the world, Van would go with me.
Fifty feet into the forest, I drop to my knees in a small clearing. The plush grass beneath us is a drastic change to the glass still embedded in my aching feet. A small trail of blood is left behind us, and I don't know whether the foul liquid is Van's or mine. His wings had long gone back into his body, but the makeshift bandages were soaked through.
"Hang on, Van. Just hang on," I say to him astears escape my eyes. He groans as he lifts a hand against my cheek. A teardrop lands on his hand as I kiss his palm with a small sob. He opens his eyes for the first time since I found him, and my heart breaks at the sight of his hazelnut eyes. I lean down to place a simple, short kiss on his lips.
"I love you," he whispers to me, and my heart breaks just a little more. We'll die without help soon, and we both know it. I run my fingers through his silken locks as I lean down to his ear. "I love you too, Van de Fanel. Please, please don't give up on me yet," I whisper fiercely to him as I trace one of his unmarked shoulders in circles.
We lay there for hours, or maybe it was only minutes before Folken came crashing into the pasture. His labored breathing broke the silence, and he clutched the front of his shirt with one hand. I rose to my knees, but I could not bring myself to move away from Van. Even though we had our bond, I had to feel him physically beside me to know he was still with us.
"What's wrong, Folken?" I asked with worry as he fell to the ground beside us. I saw the shard of a blade in his chest, and before I knew what I was doing, I moved his hand away from his shirt. The shard went into his chest where heart lie, and I let out a tiny gasp. Tears were flowing freely from my eyes now, and I wouldn't, couldn'tbring myself to stop them.
His eyes met mine, and I knew exactly what he was going to do. Varie's words echoed in my skull, but I didn't want to think about them. Not here, not now. "You can't, Folken," I said as I hit the ground. Where were my visions of horror and death now? Why couldn't I stop things from happening like I could? Life didn't know how to play fair anymore.
"I have to, Hitomi. You know there's no other way to save him," he answered as I looked away. Could I let him do this? "It's my choice to make, Hitomi, and I've already made it," he continued as I took his large hand in my own. His black wings sprung his back, and their pitch-black color matched the color of the night sky. Why was he so ready to die?
His body faded from the world as he gave his life to save ours. Energy flowed through my form as I embraced Folken's presence as my own. He stabilized my own energies as I truly became a Draconian for the first time. His blood flowed through my veins as they did with Van's. I accepted his sacrifice, but I knew Van would have a much harder time getting over his brother's death.
I was at peace with Folken's choice because he was a part of me now. Van's wounds closed on his back, but we would still have to cleanse the cuts later of the dried blood. His breathing evened out, but the blood loss was still too great. He would need medical help immediately, and Folken had done everything he could to help his brother. I closed my eyes as the blue column of light descended upon us.
"Oh, brother, why did you die for us?" Van whispered to the wind as he looked over his rebuilt city. The sun would rise in an hour, but Van refused the clutches of sleep. His back still ached from the wounds on occasion, but they had mostly healed in their nature. He sighed and leaned back in Hitomi's embrace as she put her arms around him.
"Because he loved you, just like I do," Hitomi whispered in his ear as she prepared to watch the sunset with him. She kissed the back of his neck softly as she fiddled with the end of his shirt. Her body had fully accepted the Draconian race into her system once Folken had become one with them, and her health had steadily increased of the past few weeks.
As the sun rose, Van's suffering fizzled and died. Time would go by, and the two who transcended fate would heal each other by their own choosing. A single vision remained to Hitomi, but war was not the subject of her dream. Instead, she saw a young Folken laughing in the fields with Van looking on. The next morning, Hitomi had smiled as she clutched her womb.
A bittersweet ending, but it is quite similar to the end of the series. I wish you guys the best, and I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Moon-Angel-Eyes for being my 100th reviewer.
Insane Pineapple from Naboo