And then a cool, cerulean glow suffused the passage as far as anyone could see. Yolei's arms suddenly felt as if they were falling through thick honey, and she saw—as if her eyes had suddenly cleared—what she was about to do. Horrified, she tried to stop the downward pull of her arms, but momentum had already determined their course. She closed her eyes and pulled up desperately, straining against gravity and inertia.

After a couple seconds, she realized that Ken was not screaming in pain and that her arms were raised above her head once more. She sighed in relief, and then the full import of the burns on her hands and arms hit her. She cried out and dropped the star, suddenly indifferent to the thing's fate.

Ken saw all this in normal time and caught the star in his cloak before it fell to the stones. He could feel heat seep through the cloth immediately, but it was no more than uncomfortable. He set the star softly on the ground, still handling it with his cloak, and then rushed over to where Yolei sat on her knees, holding her terribly wounded arms in front of her. He hovered over her, unable to think of anything to ease her agony but unwilling to leave her alone with it.

"You have succeeded, children."

A familiar voice echoed through the cavern, and Ken looked up to see the angel-spirit in full glory before them. Pale blue light filled the air, calming Ken's anxiety despite himself. The spirit saw his suffering as soon as the boy raised those expressive eyes to him, and it traversed the cobblestones to kneel by the girl. She moaned as the spirit reached toward her and tried to draw her arms closer to herself, but he took them firmly. She gasped, anticipating torturous pain at his touch.

Instead, his ethereal hands soothed the searing heat as well as her terrified and bewildered spirit. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "Ken, I'm… I'm so sorry."

"Quiet, girl-child," the spirit's rich voice gently insisted. "You were tainted by the black river that runs through Infinity, polluted by the touch of the shadow. You were strong enough to resist it until the very end and lucky enough to have this boy here with you."

Ken shook his head. "If anyone should have been polluted by the shadow, it should have been me. She's good and pure, and I'm the Emperor."

The spirit shook its head, and silver-blue hair danced in the breeze it created. "Even I cannot say why some are affected and others not. Perhaps she took her goodness for granted this time, while you recognize the darkness in yourself and have begun to fight it already. She was unprepared for such an attack and therefore defenseless. But none can say for certain."

When Yolei's arms had faded to the pink of a moderate sunburn, the spirit stepped back. He clasped the star, and Yolei winced at the sight. He smiled, though, and showed her a hand that was unharmed by the star's dying light. "Outsiders though you may be, you are not immune against the perils of this world. Your burn and your few scratches that remain will stay with you even in your world." Ken glanced down at himself and noticed that all but a few red lines had disappeared from his previously bleeding skin.

"You have done this world the highest favor you can, rescuing it when it needed rescue. You will continue your games, I think, but never again will you face each other as you once did. Never again will you be the bitter enemies you were." His robes fluttered in a wind no one else felt, and he smiled benevolently at the two. "Without any further words of esoteric wisdom, I will return you to the beginning and leave you."

Hesitantly, Ken wrapped an arm around Yolei's waist and stood. She stiffened, then leaned on him wearily. The red tinge faded from the star's light, and a flash of hot, white light filled their eyes and warmed their faces like a bonfire.

When they could open their eyes again, they were back in a cool, green forest. The moon glowed coolly overhead, and a single star twinkled before fading into the constellations around it. The silver and blue being was gone, leaving two exhausted teenagers under rustling leaves and digi-birdsong.

Yolei looked on the ground and located her D3, still scorched and useless. She smiled helplessly at Ken and laughed quietly. "Do you suppose you could get one of your slaves to pick us up and carry us back to your fortress? I steadfastly refuse to take two more steps in this place."

"If time has passed normally, I would imagine they're looking frantically for me. Once Wormmon locates me on the computer—which should be very soon—he'll send an Airdramon to retrieve me." He paused thoughtfully. "That never happened while we were traveling to Infinity. I wonder…" He shook his head, knowing full well that speculation about the angel-spirit's powers was useless.

Yolei looked tired and content as she leaned into his one-arm embrace. She gasped a little when her still-tender arms touched his clothes, but she thought she could bear it for now. Sure enough, a whoosh remarkably similar to the one that had started this whole adventure sounded above the trees after only a few minutes.

Ken—hardly looking the Emperor with his clothes torn and glasses lost somewhere along the way—took Yolei's hand as gallantly as a prince and guided her aboard the dragon-like creature's sinuous neck. As the digimon flew smoothly through the night, Ken put his other arm around Yolei and kissed her lilac hair.