A/N: Wow, thirty chapters! Ok, it's only taken me like years to complete this fic, not bad huh? Ok, so this is the last chapter. Thank you to everyone that read and reviewed this fic, I would have given up long ago if it hadn't been for you all. Thank you!
When War Comsumes Us
There was blood running in rivers through the muddy fields surrounding Gorgossium. Candy tried not to look at where her feet were going, sinking into the mud and worse. Instead she kept her gaze towards the horizon. The red mist that usually surrounded Midnight had turned a darker shade with the smoke that bellowed from the ransacked buildings.
The rebellion had made its way into the city walls, pushing Motley's Stitchlings back towards the towers. However their progress had come at a price. Bodies lined their walk through the outskirts of the city, along with debris and what looked like smouldering branches of fallen trees. In the distance screaming and yelling could be heard, growing louder with every step.
Candy continued to keep her gaze high, but it didn't stop the sickening images from creeping in from the sides. She shot a glance at Malingo and saw a pained look across his features. They were not a pair for war times, not like Quiffin. He was striding along with Violet, leading the way into the chaos.
Violet walked like a woman possessed, her eyes staring unblinking forward, her stride never faltering. Candy had taken it for granted that they were meant to be following her, but with every passing moment she was losing her nerve. Violet had not spoken to them since they had left the forest, but had walked with a purpose onto the battlefield.
"What are we going to do when we get to the fight?" Candy asked nervously. She was beginning to find the pace a little too fast for her liking, as they were soon going to happen upon the source of the smoke and blood.
"Violet is going to find Carrion," Malingo replied as if it was a fact.
"Yes, but what are we going to do? We're not exactly inconspicuous. We'll be attacked," Candy said, dropping her gaze to look around. Her stomach lurched as she met the glassy lifeless eyes of a nearby corpse. "Oh God," she gasped.
Finnegan deviated from the trail and bent down to retrieve something from the ground. Returning, he handed a bloody sword to Candy, then turn to look for something else.
"I guess we have to fight then," Malingo said in a whisper. A sickening feeling was rising in his stomach, at the realisation that he might have to kill someone in order to survive.
Whilst Candy had already considered the possibility of having to defend herself, and had already made up her mind to use the sword if it came down to it; there was something else concerning her. She had struggled too long to be defeated now, but despite her long journey, she could still say that she knew herself. She didn't think she could say the same for Violet.
Candy didn't recognise the girl walking before her. If they hadn't killed Violet in body, then they had destroyed her mind. Never had she blanched at the bodies scattered at her feet, nor had flinched at the screams. The Violet Candy knew would have tears for the fallen. As they turned into the built up city centre, Candy knew that they had committed a horrendous crime against this girl.
They reached the main square of the city without encountering anyone dangerous, and Violet stopped walking. Candy had the sense that Violet was somehow keeping the fighting away from them, like polar opposites of magnets; the enemy were compelled to turn the other way.
Across the square was a small gathering of people, looking at some kind of map. Two of the group Candy recognised immediately, a man she had outrun many times, Otto Houlihan stared at her with beetle-dark eyes. His forehead creased as he frowned, seizing her small stature against his own. Candy took a step to the side to shake off his fierce gaze, but in doing so caught sight of Violet's face. She was smiling such a pure smile of joy, that it made Candy sick, knowing whom it was directed at.
Christopher Carrion looked far removed from his usual neat appearance. His clothes always clean and pressed were travel stained, tattered and his right leg was bandaged with a bloody rag. Covered in dirt and blood, Candy would still have pointed him out amongst a crowd, standing straight and tall, a true Commander of his army.
He gazed at Violet as if he was seeing a mirage, and for the first time, Candy saw some kind of emotion in his eyes. A softer expression, almost relief; there was no hatred in his eyes for the girl that had given him all she could give.
Violet was already walking towards him before anyone could say a word. Although Carrion didn't move, it was if he drew her nearer by simply watching her, as she walked in a dreamlike state.
Candy felt Malingo take a sharp intake of breath and realised that she was holding her own in fear of what would happen next. Violet's hands reached up slowly to touch Carrion's face in a loving embrace, as if to bring him in close to her. But before her fingers could graze his skin, his own hands snatched her wrists with lightning speed. Immediately Violet tried to pull her arms away, but only succeeded in being shaken violently for a moment. As if the sudden movement had broken her concentration, Candy felt Violet's spell break and the war spilled out into their quiet town-square.
The time for watching Carrion and Violet was over, as everyone sprung into action, wielding blades against the snarling Stitchlings that ran towards them.
Violet felt her heart miss a beat as Carrion pulled her out of the fight, and down into the dark alley behind the Square. He threw her roughly against the wall of a house, and pressed in close to her. Her body felt soft to him, and to his surprise she yielded and didn't struggle. He watched her eyes glaze over with desire, and heard her breath come in a frustrated sigh. Feeling light-headed, Violet held on tightly, his breath hot on her neck, sending shivers down her. Unable to get enough air in her lungs, she was reduced to gasping as he kissed her, his hands running across her stomach.
Opening her eyes to meet with dizzying images as the world swirled before her, she arched her back to meet him, only to be pushed into the wall once more. Unable to stop what was happening, and confused as to why, the frightening knowledge only came when she realised how her body was reacting to him. Her previous drunken desire for the Prince of Midnight seemed a silly girl's dreams, compared to the gasping reality of being ravished in a dark alley.
Her hands followed his lead, trailing over his chest, feeling the contrast of a man's strong body, to her own soft skin.
With the violence of the kisses Violet was not surprised with the way he left her, pulling back suddenly and staring at her with dark eyes, accusingly, as if he believed he had been bewitched. His gaze ran the length of her body, unashamedly lingering in places that made Violet blush.
"What have you done?" he demanded, his voice low.
Violet shuddered. She hadn't been ready for his attentions to end, and she felt as if she were burning against the cold night air. Slowly the sounds of fighting drifted towards her, and she remembered where she was. As if a haze had lifted from her eyes, she forgot her new power and trembled before a man whom she had always feared.
"We invoked some magic," Violet said shakily.
"To entrap me!" Carrion accused pointing his shaking finger at her. Violet couldn't look away from his eyes; she could see the desire of a man in them, and for a moment she knew she could hold a secret power over him.
"No, to make me strong, so that I could help you," Violet said. "You need me."
"I want you," Carrion said closing the gap between them once more. "You have entrapped me."
Stumbling into an empty house, Violet pulled him with her as she crossed the room. She forgot about those that had brought her here, and had helped her find the strength to be the Queen of Midnight. She forgot her fear of the Prince of Midnight.
Although the title, Queen, had been foisted upon her in unfortunate circumstances, Violet was going to hold on tight to whatever life decided to give her. Motley had never expected her to live long enough to enjoy it, locking her away to die in a dark prison. But she'd paved the way for this moment.
Violet knew that whatever it was that brought them together now, whether Carrion was bewitched by her magic, or if he truly desired her, her mind was made up. She was to lay with her husband on his enemies' battlefield and their child would inherit a kingdom free from an old woman's tyranny.
She knew without doubt that she would conceive a child from their hurried union, the magic in her blood told her with undoubting confidence. Dazed, Violet followed Carrion outside, where she met a familiar face. Letheo looked at her blankly as he stood with the reins of a large black horse in his hand. Violet guessed that Letheo must have spent a lot of time waiting for his master, even in situations such as these.
He wasn't impressed, but Violet was interested in petty fights. When it came to claiming his master's attention, Violet considered the rivalry won by her.
Ignoring Letheo, Violet climbed onto the back of Carrion's horse, wrapped her arms around his strong chest, and tried to steady her heart as they rode through the city streets. Slow and steady, a force of power moving towards its end. Behind them their followers gathered, walking through the streets like a funeral procession.
Faces that had lost hope turned towards them with renewed fight. Violet felt a swell of pride at being a beacon of hope for all Carrion's poor soldiers. It wasn't until she looked up at the tower that her blood began to run cold once more.
Motley looked down on them, hatred and disgust reaching out to touch even the most open heart. Her face was twisted in anger, and the wind caught the ends of her cloak, pulling it into the air like huge wings. Jumping down from the horse, Violet was in time to see something stream past her with a scream like a banshee. Motley was gone from her perch up high, as was Carrion. Bright light's crashed like lightning in the sky above her.
Feeling the magic crackle through her, like electricity, running down her arms and to her feet, Violet rose an inch from the floor. Looking up into the sky, she could see that the clouds were coming in fast.
"He can't beat her," Finngan shouted over the winds of an approaching storm.
Violet turned to see her three companions looking exhausted, but still standing, still willing to fight, and knew Finnegan was right. Carrion had lost against his grandmother before, and there was nothing to suggest it wouldn't happen again. With a bitter smile, knowing that after everything, she still wasn't assured a victory; Violet jumped into the sky. Turning into light for those left behind, Violet looked down. Everything was so small.
"Ha! What's this?" Motley asked mockingly.
It appeared Motley was standing on something solid; whilst Carrion seemed to be hanging onto the sky, ready to fall at any moment. His strength and power had faded until he was just moments away from closing his eyes forever. Violet knew Motley would drag him down and kick him to death if she could, and Violet hoped that her friends would help him to safety when he finally did fall out of the sky.
"Why it's your little wife," Motley continued. "Shame she has to die. She doesn't give up easily. Unfortunate… I think you might have enjoyed this one."
Violet wasn't able to read anything on Carrion's face but anger. Motley might be trying to unsteady her with mockery, but she was pointing her cruel words in the wrong direction.
Carrion's reaction was to attack, and with Motley's attention deflected Violet threw everything she had at her. The pain this caused her in her head, was so great that Violet was certain she would black out. She knew that her own screams were jointing Motley's, and she could hear Carrion yelling something over the storm, but she was unable to stop. Somehow she kept her concentration until the screaming desisted then sparks exploded before her eyes and she lost control.
Motley's rag and bones body flew against the tower, and hit the stone with a sickening crash. The old woman screamed in agony as her bones snapped like dry twigs, before dropping like a deadweight to the ground.
Violet felt herself following, landing hard and sending vibrations through the ground. Motley was squirming under her gaze, but Violet had forgotten everything. All thoughts of killing the old woman were gone; instead she just wanted to inflict pain.
"Stop now Violet," someone commanded taking her arm, but she could not distinguish the voice anymore.
A flick of her arm sent Carrion crashing into the side of a wooden shelter, his shoulder snapping the planks of wood and knocking his joint out of place.
His yell of pain was drowned by Motley's screeches as she jerked, electricity running through her.
"Stop her!" Carrion ordered, his command breaking through the collective horror and alerting his guards.
Otto Houlihan took hold of Violet with no care to her person, yanking her head back, in what might have killed her, had she not been manically strong. He yelled for the others to hold her.
Candy watched in horror as Violet was devoured by the magic, her eyes turning white as they rolled upwards. She struggled against Carrion's guards, but mostly she struggled against herself. Candy knew that Violet wasn't able to shake this possession off; this wasn't like in the forest. This was the price to pay.
Carrion's eyes met Candy's, but although he looked directly at her, Candy had the sense that he was looking beyond her. She saw him holding his arm, it twisted out of place, but by looking she lost her own concentration. Whatever Carrion was looking for, he had found. Suddenly dizzy, she felt the world go black.
Princess Boa stared back at Carrion. Standing where Candy once had, her young girl host fallen to the ground at her feet.
"Help her," Carrion whispered. No one in the world heard his words but Boa, and she heard something she never thought she would. Fear. Christopher Carrion, a man that feared nothing and no one, was scared of loosing this girl. Turning to look at Violet, Boa knew both their fates were sealed.
They both had the power to change events, Boa to save them, Violet to destroy. Closing her eyes, Boa looked down at her ghostly image and saw the stunned expressions of those around her. She was truly dead, pulled from Candy for a great need. The ending she had dreamt for herself was nothing but a dream; she would never have her final moment with Finnegan.
She would not let another girl die because of the Prince of Midnight. Gorgossium needed salvation, and she had been unable to help them. But Violet would lead the world in another direction. If only she could be freed from the magic that threatened to take her soul.
The Abarat had turned it's back on the world Boa had known. No longer belonging to this darkness, Boa left the world to the new Queen of Midnight, crossing into the land of spirits, taking Violet's demon with her.
Candy screamed as the presence that had been with her whole life disappeared skyward, ripping a dark shadow out of Violet as she streaked upwards. She felt Finnegan take her arm and saw that his face was distressed. Both feeling the loss of something that had not ended the way it should.
But as if the world had stood still for a moment, it burst back into life once more, as Violet collapsed into the Criss-Criss Man's strong arms. As if this was a sign to the people, they surged forwards in a wave, trampling anything in their way. Many cold hands reached forward to touch Violet's burning skin, as she clung to the world of the living. The Criss-Cross Man pulled her away from the scrum and followed Carrion and his guards to a place of safety.
Sitting on top of a house, surrounded by guards and soldiers, Violet touched Carrion's hand and felt him envelope her fingers into his palm. She smiled at him, but it didn't reach her eyes. Together they watched, all feelings numbed and unspeaking, as the liberated subjects of Midnight stole the defeated old woman's body into the night.
Violet didn't know if she had killed the hag before she was thrown onto the funeral pyre, all she knew was that it was over.
(Five Years Later)
(Five Years Later)
The girl on the TV I barely recognise, my cousin Elspeth found the fame she was craving, everyone knows her name now. My family had never been more proud, one Mousquetaire girl singing for her supper, the other a whore made honest. That's me, Violet Mousquetaire. My father had always said I was marked for great things, ever since I was chosen as one of the late Mater Motley's seamstresses. Although, I don't think he ever believed I would end my days as Queen of Midnight.
The death of Mater Motley made me ruler of Midnight, an honour I quickly handed back to my 'husband' Christopher Carrion. Some people called me crazy, my family for one… I had been prepared to step down, but he kept me with him, at his side, to be Queen.
I hadn't been wrong either, about my child, conceived in war. My daughter's innocent face reminds me of my cousin, pretty, but a true princess, strong and self-assured. She looks at my husband with large loving eyes; she knows nothing of the past.
I know that the child I carry now will be a boy, he grows large inside me, and any day he will come into the world. I believe every father needs a son, someone to take the family name into the future. My own Prince Carrion will be the saviour of this hour. But woe betide any enemy that faces my daughter, as history has shown, the females in this family make the fiercest warriors.