Note from the author: MissNox.
Now I can stop feeling so ashamed because I never finished this story. I'm a bit baffled by the new submission process, but I managed to correctly label this the Epilogue after all. Yes, the end is in sight. Like I said in the previous chapter, this simply wraps everything up with a nice bow, so all you lovely readers know exactly what happens. Because of this, the chapter is a LOT shorter than normal, but everything I wanted in there is in there. ;)
I may or may not go back and edit this story at some point, as it is riddled with errors now I look back on it years later, but I hope you've still managed to enjoy it. Thanks so much for reading!
Shortly after being defeated, Alana left the Kirlsa Training Facility. Her wounds did not hinder her. No longer content holding onto the past, she decided to put her other talents to good use. It was as if she had held onto the fighting and the emotions, but not the memories. When she was reconnected to her past, she remembered how much she had enjoyed smithery. With her new found knowledge of battle and war, she would have the perfect perspective in making arms and armour for soldiers across the continent. She had found a new purpose, and accepted the new Albel Nox.
As for Sophia and Albel, it wasn't long after that they received the call from Cliff. The time was now, they were to meet up again in Kirlsa. Nothing else was said, not about what had happened, or about Albel. But Cliff's exact words were, "we'll meet you both by Woltar's mansion." Sophia took this as an invitation for her and Albel. Albel was less than thrilled at the prospect of seeing them all again, but he had an obligation to fulfil. He wasn't going to leave Sophia either. Whatever she had to do, he would be there with her.
Once at Kirlsa, Albel worried about the awkwardness of seeing Fayt again, but he needn't have. It was Fayt who met them, alone. He wanted to clear the air before they met up with the others. Fayt seemed refreshed and renewed since last they saw him. He'd worked through his troubles, citing problems controlling the destructive gene within him as the possible cause for his behaviour. Sophia nodded politely, but Albel scoffed quietly. He didn't believe a word of it, but he hardly had the right to judge Fayt.
Albel the Wicked had done far worse things. Therefore, how could he not understand Fayt for losing his cool at the prospect of Sophia's rejection?
"So, you hate me?" Albel asked Fayt, as blunt as ever.
"Albel!" Sophia gasped, mortified. She hoped this wouldn't lead to another argument.
Fayt looked surprised by the forwardness of the man. "Not really. No. Sophia is my best friend. She loves you, so how can I hate you?"
Sophia smiled happily. "Thank you, Fayt,"
"So you're not going to stand in the way again?" Albel asked, feeling less warm and nostalgic towards the blue haired swordsman.
"No, I've no right. Besides, I've found someone else," Fayt smiled. "We have a lot in common, she keeps me in check, she understands me,"
"Hmm, it's not the hag, is it?" Albel looked disgusted. Fayt actually laughed. Typical Albel.
"No, no. It's Maria," Fayt looked embarrassed.
"Maria? That's great, Fayt!" Sophia was pleased.
"Come on, we're staying at the inn," Fayt waved for them to follow, running ahead.
"See, everything is fine," Sophia patted Albel's good shoulder.
"Fine. Bah. I'll be glad when this is all over," Albel shook his head, trying not to look to happy about Sophia's attention.
"Me too. Albel, I just wanted to say," Sophia's cheeks tinged red, looking down.
Albel lifted her chin with his fingertips. "Are you confessing to me?" he grinned now.
"Oh, don't ruin it!" Sophia slapped his gauntlet, pulling her hand back in pain when Albel took it in his own.
"It hardly needs to be said at this point, right?" Albel kissed it, looking up and glowering at her, his eyes like pools of fire.
Now Sophia's whole face was a deep shade of red.
"I know, but I still wanted to," she complained half heartedly, actually delighted.
"Go on then," the samurai insisted, staring at her torturously.
"Oh, you're terrible! Stop staring so hard!" Sophia hid her face in her hands.
"I love you,"
Sophia uncovered her face in shock. "Wh-what did you just say, Albel?" she stammered.
Albel just raised his chin confidently. "You heard me," he replied.
Sophia hugged him then, and placed her head over his good shoulder. "I love you too Albel," she beamed happily.
As they made their way to the inn, Sophia took Albel's hand in hers. They had been through so much and changed so much. Albel was learning to trust in people, while Sophia was learning to trust in her own strength. While to anyone else they seemed mismatched and unchanged, for each other they had changed significantly. They made each other feel happy and fulfilled. The most important thing was, they really didn't care who did or didn't understand them, because they understood one another.
"Do you... know what you want to do after all this is finished?" Sophia asked carefully, as they approached the inn finally.
"I do," Albel grinned wickedly, moving towards the entrance of the inn without another word.
"Whaaaat?! Albel, you have to tell me now! Don't be so cryptic!" Sophia complained, pouting as Albel cackled at her.
He thought everyone hated him, so he refused to let anyone close. He used his anger and hatred to build a personality around himself. That personality was Albel the Wicked. But soon, he found it had taken him over, and he gave into his bloodlust. As time passed and the war waned, he found Albel the Wicked fell quiet, but would always be ready to rear his ugly head if needed. No matter how long Albel the Wicked fell quiet, Albel retained the name and the reputation that went with it.
At times he found that side of him hard to control. Gradually though, he felt a growing desire to change. He would forever be Albel the Wicked, but did that have to be such a bad thing? Why couldn't Albel the Wicked change, just like anyone else? After all, it was only a facet of his personality. Albel the Wicked was him, so it could also be whatever he wanted it to be. Why did it have to be the bloodlust and anger? Why couldn't it be his skill and strength?
In order to change this, he had to control the strong emotions that he allowed to overcome him. The secret to controlling such a power, such an emotion, was not letting it have a life of its own. It was part of him, like the blood in his veins. If he was always Albel the Wicked, then no situation would arise where Albel the Wicked could be released. He was always free now. The difference was, he'd changed. There was no trick involved, all he'd needed was time. And a girl called Sophia.