Though her vocabulary wasn't the smallest in length, she knew no words that were sufficient to explain what transpired in those few short heartbeats. All the anxiety that had built and throbbed in the air had abruptly exploded into a peaceful stillness that expanded into the shadowy depths of her soul. She had stood frozen, breathing long, shallow breaths as she tried to understand what she was feeling. Unfortunately, her mind was having the most difficult time working while she was staring into two huge eyes of cerulean blue.
"Escaflowne," she breathed.
He was glorious. His neck wasn't completely stretched out and he could reach the three hundred foot high ceiling. At it was, his tail twisted through and around five columns. Her eyes followed the lengthy twist of his spine, hesitating at his spiny wings before continuing up to his ruffling gills.
He was a solid, pearl mountain both beautiful and frightening. His armor of scales was the purest white she had ever witnessed. They almost looked like starlight was trapped in each scale, glowing brightly in the flesh of his skin. Surely only heaven could produce such an angelic light.
His curved claws, which were several feet long, were a more translucent hue. His front feet spanned out like roots of tree, expanding as wide as twenty feet, with one short, arching thumb on either foot grazing delicately across the marble floor. His back daggers were straighter, but the slight curve was deadly enough to catch the most evasive prey.
Slowly, the dragon straightened his limbs, expelling a gasp from the seer as she watched him grow even larger before her eyes. In a loud rip of leather, his wings burst open and revealed a dark span of skin. Somehow a million stars, or maybe it was the universe, was twinkling in the cradle of his wings. The depths seemed to hold no bounds and began to pour across the ceiling and become the sky.
His bright eyes were watching her intently. Hitomi shifted nervously under his gaze, her mind slowing down to a weak stop. She flinched when his giant claws scrapped across the floor. One thick leg slid forward in her direction. Hitomi was too afraid to move back as the white dragon strode towards her. This was a god standing in front of her, not some small brained beast. A god!
She swallowed slowly, fearful of making any sudden move. "Are you Escaflowne?"
Hitomi winced when she heard her voice squeak. She definitely didn't sound like a goddess. The dragon didn't offer any response to question, but instead stared mutely at her. She licked her dry lips and tried again. This time her voice was thankfully stronger. "Are you the God of the Sky, Escaflowne?"
He blinked at her. Twitching his wings, he took another step forward. Hitomi noticed with fear that it would only take one more step for the dragon to reach out and crush her. Even if he wasn't a god, it was unlikely she would be able to stand up against such a monstrous being.
"That is him," a voice croaked from behind her. Hitomi whirled and was surprised to see the dark emperor lying in a pool of his blood, staring up at the dragon. Dornkirk grinned excitedly. "It is Escaflowne."
He had trouble getting the words out past the blood filling his mouth. Each syllable was a disgusting gurgle on his tongue. "There is no doubt he is the God of this kingdom."
Slowly, Hitomi turned her jade eyes back to the great beast, heart drumming rapidly in her chest. The dragon had switched his attention to the fallen emperor. The seer might have been imagining it, but it almost looked as if the dragon's expression had grown disappointed.
"Escaflowne?" she mumbled uncertainly.
"You called for him," Dornkirk hissed joyfully. "You did exactly what you were destined for."
Her hands flew over her mouth as the cold truth hit her. Hitomi shook her head with sudden terror. Dornkirk lifted an unsteady, bloody hand towards the dragon. "Now, the world can be rewritten. Gaea will be purged of sorrow."
Rapid footfall startled the seer and she spun around. Her jade eyes widened as she saw the red captain charging the dragon. His blade was high as he raced across the room, coming on the great dragon's left side. Surely, the man wasn't stupid to believe he could take down a god with a mortal blade. Hitomi was stun to see Dilandau leapt into the air.
Slowly the layers were pulled away from the scene. She was surprised to have overlooked it before, but there was an overwhelming white light pouring out of the dragon. It was seeping directly from his scales and pulsating like a strong heartbeat. It was a thousand sheets of stars intertwining and stretching out. Their tiny fingers crept between the shadows and tore apart the shadows. The darkness screeched in pain and shriveled away from the light's prying fingers, bowing down to its awesome power. Slowly, inch by inch the light took back the temple and restored the order of holiness to its beautiful walls. Even the wind began to die.
The only ray of darkness left clinging was the vivid blackness expanding through the length of Dilandau's sword. Dornkirk had cursed the blade. Somehow he had managed the blade to trap the emperor's remaining dark energy into the sharp metal to smite down the dragon's defenses. It was clear Dornkirk's intentions were to plunge the dark energy directly into Escaflowne's heart and create a spiritual link between his dying flesh and the dragon eternal body.
Hitomi had believed such a curse was only legend, possible a farce told to scare children. The Soul Stealer Curse was rarely spoken of because it hadn't been perform in her villagers' lifetime, but it was whispered to be an abomination of power. It had been so long since she had last heard a conversation mention the curse that she had completely forgotten about it.
As the dragon slayer began to descend from air, Escaflowne slowly turned one blue eye to study the man. Dilandau was twisted in an excited grin while his body rigidly anticipated the approaching moment the point of his sword would connect with the layer of scales. His white bangs flapped wildly around his bright eyes. As he dropped down, his sword sliced through the wall of light, making a direct path towards the spot between the dragon's front shoulder blades.
Escaflowne didn't even blink as he brought the naked tip of his tail down on Dilandau's shoulders, stopping the captain short of his aim. Dilandau howled in pain as he crashed into the floor. His sword flew from his hands and slid across the slick marble, leaving a fading trail of shadowy blackness. Hitomi unconsciously let out a deep breath of air.
With difficulty, the shaken captain lifted his head to glare at the giant beast. His messy hair draped across one brilliant red eye as he hissed out a pained breath of air. Dilandau spat out a mouthful of blood and slowly pushed to his knees. The blow had significantly hurt the fighter. His hand spanned over his right hip as he stumbled to rise. Escaflowne looked pointedly down at the captain and fanned his gills. His tail twisted sharply in the air cracking like a loud whip. Dilandau flinched, but successfully kept his face neutral. Even for his mortal body, he was not a fire that could be easily controlled.
With quiet coldness, the great dragon began to lower his head towards the slayer. Hitomi shifted anxiously as she watched the giant jaws slid open and reveal the razor teeth three feet in length. The pocket beneath the dragon's chin bulged with air and a sharp flute-like hiss slid pass Escaflowne's lips. Dilandau tried to scramble backwards as the dragon lord crept closer, but his injuries kept him from escaping. The captain's eyes widened once the wall of daggers became a short yard from his scuffed face. In the reflection of the dragon's large teeth, Dilandau could see the bruise forming at his left temple. Before another second could add more tension to air, Escaflowne puffed out a hot breath on the captain's face. Hitomi gasped as Dilandau's eyes rolled back into his head and his body slumped to the floor.
Hitomi was shocked still. All doubt of the dragon's power faded from the seer's mind. Escaflowne had killed him by a simple breath. Her limbs quivered as her eyes drifted back to the giant beast.
She had failed to notice the dragon moving towards the other side of the room. He had his back to her. She was thankful that he did not mark her as a personal threat. Escaflowne towered over the unconscious form of the captain's blonde twin. His glowing cerulean eyes considered her before he lowered his snout towards her messy crown. Again there was a low noise from the back of his throat followed by a hot blast of air that pushed aside Celena's bangs. The woman's bloody lip parted and released a scratchy moan. Her breathing became stronger in minutes.
Hitomi scowled. 'He took away Dilandau's life, but gave Celena hers?'
Suddenly, his eyes snapped towards her, his brow lowering into a heated glare. Hitomi swallowed nervously. She tried to back away, but her limbs wouldn't respond to her desperate pleas. His body moved in one fluid motion as he twisted around and walked towards her. The air began to pop with heat and energy. She could see white ripples expanding from his flesh and filling the entire sanctuary. As his snout lowered, she thought she would faint long before he took her soul.
Stopping several yards above her, the dragon's lips pulled apart and showed his razor teeth. Hitomi's stomach dropped when she saw her wide eyes staring back at her in the reflection of his snarl.
"By right, I should tear you apart."
Hitomi flinched, totally taken aback by the dragon's deep voice. It was hard to describe the sound. His voice was like a thousand waves crashing on the shore, or perhaps the earth breaking. He sounded like a warm breeze and the crisp of steel. Under that, there were layers of voices combating to talk over each other. She caught the voice of an old man while at the same time she heard a young woman. There were children and grandparents mingling in each syllable.
"I have done only what was necessary to save a world from suffering," Dornkirk coughed from behind her. Hitomi swirled to look at the man and saw he was looking pointedly up at the dragon. Nauseating relief filled her belly when she realized Escaflowne was growling at the fallen emperor and not her.
"Life has its seasons," Escaflowne responded darkly. "Suffering is one of harsh passing, but it a necessary cycle. You might believe you can cleanse it from the world, but you have only reinforced its life by your actions."
"Only because the laws of the world are still enforced on Gaea," Dornkirk howled. Blood sprayed from his lips as his eyes became wide and furious. "If Gaea was freed from—"
"How do you presume to free Gaea from a suffering destiny?" Escaflowne prodded sharply. "Give the people what they desire?"
Hitomi looked towards the emperor as Dornkirk grimly replied, "Yes."
The dragon's eyes slid slowly close and weariness showed in his face. A low sigh escaped from his throat. "Mortals are greedy. Their desires are too bottomless to fill. For a time they will find happiness, but it will later not be enough. Give them lengthy life and they demand immortality. Give them a kingdom and they plead for the world. Take away their suffering and they will still ultimately be unhappy."
Dornkirk struggled to rise. "Because of you—"
"You foolish parasite!" Escaflowne snapped, his voice echoing like a clap of thunder and explosions. "Do you presume you could change this suffering fate by your limited capacity! I have lived your lifetime folds upon folds. You were given breath, a world to reside in, and the wicked gift of free will!"
"Free will is a joke!" Dornkirk choked. "Especially when we are forced into grief." The dragon's eyes became cold and Hitomi shuddered. His gills ruffled as he clicked his teeth together.
"Amazing," he huffed. "Even at the edge of truth, you continue to refuse the gifts of life."
The dragon's eyes flashed hungrily, "If you want to be rid of sorrow so badly than let me grant you your desire!"
Hitomi cried out when she saw the bulge in the dragon's neck began to glow a dangerous orange. In a mere blink, Escaflowne opened his huge jaws and released a pillar of rapid fire. Dornkirk never got the chance to scream as his body was engulfed in the flames. The heat was astonishing as it swept over her body and singed the edge of robes and eyelashes. As the fire swirled, the seer could see the slim edge of the emperor's flailing limbs. Escaflowne watched quietly, his lips down turned as the firelight reflected in his eyes. Once he was satisfied, he flapped his wings and extinguished the flames with a mighty blast of air. All that was left was a small smudge of blackness staining the once perfect white marble. Hitomi numbly stared at the dark marking.
Escaflowne swiveled his attention to seer, his blue eyes brilliantly vivid. "Now little one, why are you here?"
Hitomi started out of her stupor and stared wide eyes up at the giant. She tried to push words out of her mouth, but her body failed her. The dragon's lips twitched in amusement. "You should not be afraid of me, little one. I am the one you have spoken to many times."
"Yes, my lord," her voice abruptly squeaked out. "But I have never witnessed you in all of your…splendor."
Hitomi jerked backwards when Escaflowne tossed back his head and barked a laugh. His teeth flashed and his laughter sounded like the pounding of hooves and the crackle of brushfire. He smiled down at the seer with a glint in his eyes, "My form as been referred as many things, but splendor is rare to hear. You were gifted with more than just foresight, little one."
Somehow those words had broken the seer of her stupor and she hastily dropped to the floor. Her hair splayed across the white marble as she pressed her forehead to each smooth surface. "Please, I humbly request your mercy, lord, on this kingdom. I beg you not to destroy it."
A hot wave hit her back and she knew his face was hovering over her. Hitomi squeezed her eyes close. "If you need, I give you my life in exchange."
"Your life is already deteriorating it seems," the dragon replied. "You are very ill."
Hitomi didn't say anything, knowing she had nothing else to offer. Another blast of hot air washed over her and the seer felt it surge up through her bloodstream. She gasped when it made her heart skip. A bout of energy pushed through her as his jaws clicked together over her head.
Escaflowne grunted softly, "A single life for thousands. I think the scale is tipped."
Immediately, the seer pushed up from the floor, faster than ever. Her eyes were wide with desperation. "But it was my fault!"
The dragon smirked knowingly, "What is your fault, little one?"
Hitomi was overwhelmed with the sight of the dragon's enormous head inches from her nose. She momentarily hesitated before replying quietly, "I was the one who summoned you. I went against the presented warnings and called out your name."
"How was that wrong?" he replied heavily. "There is no law that says you are forbidden to call my aid. Besides, I whispered in your ear to summon me."
Hitomi blushed, "I know, but I did not wish for you to come and destroy this kingdom and world that I have labored to save."
"If it had been my will, than I could have destroyed this world without a summons."
The seer stared at the Dragon Lord. "Are you saying you do not wish to destroy this world?"
Escaflowne ruffled his gills. "The prophecy never said I would destroy the world. It was people who said I would destroy it."
Hitomi shook her head, "Then why did—"
"The prophecy has been too scattered into pieces that are difficult to understand separated," the dragon stated roughly. He inhaled deeply and allowed his eyes to close. Relishing the hot air, the dragon began to whisper.
"The day will come when the world shall build and break like a wave crashing on the shore. No man will be able to regain the foundation of the world though flesh will tear and breath will fail. Under the half moon, a goddess shall enter mortality and bear the dragon on her back. With eyes that see through the measure of time, the woman shall fall at the feet of the destroyer and plead for salvation. She shall resonate with the Dragon and together they shall wash away the world."
The seer was shocked. As the dragon eyes lifted to her face, she stumbled back. She didn't understand how those words had made her breathing hitch and her heart race. "W-What does it mean?"
He didn't answer. He instead crouched low, brushing his belly against the marble floor. Lips pulled apart as he gave a soft hiss. His huge wings pressed against his back as his gills rattled. Hitomi's stomach plunge to her feet as the candles' light fluttered. She gasped when shadows collapsed on the room a second after he lunged forward.
Hitomi cringed in a ball on the floor as she waited for his hot teeth to rip through her back. Her fingers pressed into her knuckles as she prayed for her life. When her muscles began to groan, she wondered how long it took for a dragon to leap across eight yards. When she lost feeling in her legs, Hitomi stole a peek at the dragon. She was startled to see green lines swaying in front of her nose. Blinking twice, she carefully lifted herself and realized she was laying down in a clump of tall grass. Hitomi pulled her feet underneath her and look out across the vast meadow. An orange sun glared into her eyes and she lifted her hand to block out the warm light. The breeze combed through her short hair, bringing a flush to her chilled face. When had winter swap with the springtime?
Her eyes focused on a gray silhouette in the horizon. Hitomi nervously stood in the grass, wondering if something was waiting to jump her. Seeing nothing beside the unknown object ahead of her, the seer struck forward. At first, she merely walked and enjoyed the feel of grass tickling her fingertips, but soon she began to run. The old memories of chasing her little brother through the fields came to mind and she laughed. Inhaling the distinct scent of fields, Hitomi remembered another person, someone who always smelled like the grass.
Her eyes snapped open as she slowed to a stop, "Van!"
She had forgotten him. She spun around. He was lying on the floor of the sanctuary, hurt and possibly bleeding to death! She scanned the meadow for any sign of life. How did she get back? How did she get here?
A broken sob from behind got her to swing back around. She jumped backwards when she saw an enormous tree stretched over her head. Her jade eyes widened in astonishment, having never seen branches stretched so far out.
"Beautiful," she mumbled seconds before another muffled sob drifted to her ears. She twisted around. It was difficult to tell, but it sounded like the voice was coming from the other side of the tree trunk. She barreled around the side. Her legs pumped harder as the sob grew louder. "Hello?"
The sob bellowed louder over her head, filling the span of the sky and echoing off the tree branches. She cried out in exhaustion as she stumbled to a stop several feet away from the tree. "Hello? Is anyone there?"
"I'm so alone…" the voice whispered from above her head.
"Van?" She scanned the branches for his ebony crown. "Is that you?"
"Please, come out!" she called to him, tears cresting her eyelashes. Nothing was visible in the grass or the branches. She could only see the sparkle of light winking through the evergreen leaves. "Van?"
"He isn't here."
Spinning again, the seer faced the most perfect cerulean eyes ever. "Oh my!"
A man about her age who had short silver hair and soft blue eyes was calming staring back at her inches away from her nose. The expression on her face immediately brought a smile to his that caused twin dimples to crinkle in his rosy cheeks. "Surprisingly, this form also leaves you speechless."
Hitomi stepped backwards and took in the sight of the man covered in pearl white armor. "Escaflowne?"
He nodded. "It is still me. This form might not be as fearsome, but it is still powerful."
She studied him for a moment. "What's going on?"
"This is the beginning," he stated as the air swept through his bangs, making him all the more handsome in the golden sunset.
"Of everything," he breathed, stepping towards the old tree. A red cape spilled down from his shoulders and rolled in the air as he turned his back to her. Hitomi's eyes followed the stream of scarlet before she hurried after him. "This is where Gaea started."
Her eyebrows jumped, "With this tree?"
"Yes." His pale fingers spread across the rough bark. "When Gaea was created, this was where everything began. This was the first spark of life in an empty blackness. This was where God gave life to the Draconians, his favored people."
She darted a looked towards the man. "Wait! Are you saying—"
He turned to her, "I am not the God you think I am."
"B-But you," she stuttered, her hands making scattered motions. "But y-you—"
He sighed through his nose and bowed his head, allowing his white bangs to slip over his eyes. Exhaustion had settled over his body, pulling down at his shoulders. The defeated image was too much for the seer. She had seen him kill by simply exhaling. He had brought her to a realm of unknown origin. Hitomi shook her head, "But than who are you? More so what are you?"
He breathed heavily, "I am merely a holy guardian of the Great One. I have been for thousands of millenniums, but over time my message has been forgotten. Wars and illness has distorted my true purpose.
"After the Great One had smote the Draconians of their wings and brought suffering onto the valley, He planned a future kingdom for his favored children. To ensure the land for the new generations, He appointed me as guardian."
"Fanelia," Hitomi breathed.
Escaflowne nodded and stared into the sunlight. "After the fall in the Mystic Valley, the world began to build and regroup. Countries swelled and gave birth to others while the Draconians hid away in shame. They gave up the responsibility of their teachings and allowed the world to live in their ignorance. Soon, no one besides the Mystics remembered the true God and idols were formed.
"When a wretched era fell over the kingdom, the people began to bow to me, the guardian, instead of the true Protector. As the sun broke through the darkness, the people of Fanelia rejoice and called me their God of Salvation. And that's how it has been to this day."
"But what now?" she mumbled, searching his blank face. "What's happening to Fanelia? To me? To this prophecy?"
The man-shaped dragon chuckled lightly, "You're a very sharp woman. You see the prophecy is exactly what is happening. The prophecy marks the day when the Draconians' descendants shall build a home in Fanelia. By a Draconian coming to the throne, the Draconians shall bring light to world and restore God in the eyes of Gaea—"
"But a Draconian is already on the throne," Hitomi interrupted. "Van is a Draconian. His mother was a Draconian."
"But it is a people that shall claim Fanelia," Escaflowne stated firmly. "The prophecy is about the Mystics leaving the valley."
Hitomi scowled, "Leaving? But why would they—"
She froze. Her eyes widened in disbelief and her mouth hung open, "Oh my goodness."
His lips pulled high into a smile, "That's right, little one. You are the reason they shall leave the valley. You shall make the way for them with Van Fanel at your side."
She turned a million shades of red.
The man-dragon's eyes flashed, "You needed to know the truth before everything unraveled."
She stared, perplexed. "You mean the fighting going on in Fanelia?"
"Yes," he replied stonily, the air becoming heavy around them. Abruptly, his armor began to shift in the fading sunlight. Shadows crept from the horizon and enveloped the field. Hitomi nervously glanced at the foreboding darkness, unconsciously shifting closer to the dragon-man. "It is time to fulfill your destiny, Winged Goddess."
"My destiny?" she cried, whirling around. She gasped when she realized he had left her alone beneath the tree. She swung around frantically as the ground began to tear loudly under her feet. "How the heck am I supposed to stop a hundred guymelefs from demolishing the city?"
Immediately following her shout, a clump of earth collapsed and disappeared several yards away. She pressed her back into the tree trunk and swallowed a scream. Another patch of land sunk out of view. Soon the entire meadow was disappearing and being replaced by orange flames that surged up to the sky. She slid to the ground, pulling her knees close to her, as she found her salvation lied in the twenty foot long island that held her and the ancient tree out of the fires' reach. Tears slipped down her cheeks as her foot broke a chunk off her island. "Please."
She felt the earth tremble under her. Lifting her head to the overhead branches, the seer waited for the inevitable. Suddenly, there was nothing beneath her and the gravity yanked her downwards. Her hair swirled around her cheeks and the air disappeared from her lungs.
Something hot and painful tickled her back when she believed she had reached the end of everything. She had just closed her eyes as she felt a weight stretched out from her back. Snapping her eyes open, a white light crept around the edge of her vision. The wind brushed down her back and her body jerked forward. Her muscles ripped as her head snapped backwards. The last thing she remembered was a ray of light plunging down and swallowing her up.
Van woke up abruptly. His head was fuzzy and there was a sharp pain trailing from his left temple to the back of his skull. He remembered something about falling, but he couldn't recall anything else. Slowly lifting himself off the floor, he became aware that he was lying in the sanctuary.His garnet eyes found the dark sky beyond the doors. The guymelefs were flinging themselves at each other with smoke and fire exploded everywhere.
His heart lunged in his throat as he saw the flames eat away at a flag. There was an overwhelming urge to race to the castle.
'Go to her…'
He lifted off the floor, a silent command thrumming through his blood. A calmness spread through his chest as he spotted a shaft of light breaking through the heavy storm clouds and striking in the center of the battered city.
'Go to your destiny…'
His clothes ripped and glowing white wings stretched out from his back. Feathers spilled over the ground and fluttered on the unseen still forms of his brother and the Zaibach captain.
Everything had stopped in a single heartbeat. Everyone had been thirsty for blood, swinging their blades with vicious energy, but time had frozen when the pearl feathers had begun to snow down. Heads had turned upwards and blades had fallen to the red earth. A single pillar of white-bluish light stood in the midst of the fight, the call for stillness. The dust settled over the mute soldiers as they solemnly watched a small speck of white light descend down the beautiful pillar. A man near the center of the city gave out a cry, "Look! It's a white dragon!"
But another man shook his head, "No! It's an angel."
As if to prove the second man's declaration, an explosion of feather burst from the winking star. Gradually as the star became closer to the ground, the light faded and the silhouette of a person became evident to the eyes of the battlefield. Immediately, men began to fall to their knees. Several began to call out the names of their god and gave praise. Soldiers who were in their guymelefs pulled opened their hatches and stepped out with expressions of wonderment. Even the Zaibach guymelefs, who were invisible to the eyes, threw off their stealth cloaks and allowed their fighters to see the miraculous display. No one saw the other. All they saw was the beautiful young woman stepping down onto their bloodstained earth.
When her feet finally brushed broken ground, she opened her eyes and stared at the bowed figures. Though her skin tingled all over, she felt oddly detached from her body. She blinked rapidly, trying to reconnect with reality, but she felt so far away. Seeing the sheer number of bodies, both dead and alive, made her sink further out of reach.
She inhaled deeply and nearly staggered back. The air was full of death and burnt earth. Her tongue crossed over her chapped lips and she caught the taste of smoke. When she realized her feet were bare and the ground was hard against her heels, she began to realize it was no dream or vision she was standing in. No, she was part of present reality. She stared back at the crowd, her brain shutting down. What was she suppose to do now? How did a person suddenly exclaim to world everything that she had just experienced? More so, did she understand everything that she had experienced?
"I…" she began softly. Her voice sounded far too loud in the tense silence.
The seer whirled at the sound of the king's voice. His name spilled from her lips involuntarily as she spotted his high figure flying towards her. The white shine at her shoulders, however, distracted her attention. The seer glanced back and gasped. She had wings, wings of the purest white. Her wings even appeared to glow brighter than Van's. She blinked rapidly as she felt the hot tears drip down her face.
Her face lifted and Van dropped down in front of her. The beat of wings caused a small wind to stir up her bangs, but she barely noticed. She was too busy smiling in excitement at the sight of his lively energy. She didn't even wait for his toes to touch before she threw herself into his arms. Her eyes closed as she inhaled the scent of fields and sandalwood. Pressing her face into his neck, she clutched him tight to her, relishing the security and hope he gave her.
She never realized a bright aura surrounded them or they had begun to float high up into the air. She had felt lighter, but she thought it was connected to the perfect sense of happiness that consumed her. For the time being, she was content to be in his arms.
She didn't witness the crowd falling to their knees or the Zaibach guymelefs crumbling to dust.
"We wish to offer our blessings on your journey."
She smiled broadly, "Thank you, King Aston. I humbly accept your blessing and offer my own on your return home. Let me also say that I hope this treaty shall last many years."
The elderly king nodded, "As do I, my dear lady."
He quietly stepped aside and allowed his daughter and her bodyguard to speak. Millernia quickly dropped to her knee with Allen at her side. Hitomi smiled gently as the princess took a moment to bow her head. "As soon as you return, I will be expecting a royal invitation to visit."
"How could I not want to see your happy face?" Hitomi joked lightly, tears sparkling in her warm eyes. She looked to the knight. "I hope you will be accompanying the princess, Sir Allen."
"I shall be close to her side until her marriage in the spring," he replied, his eyes speaking the volume he was able to at the moment. "But I hope a friendship shall be long lasting between us beyond that time."
Hitomi understood and gave a small nod. "May your journey be well and our next meeting soon. May God watch over you."
Together the duo stood and followed the King of Austuria out of the half finished throne room. Just before he walked out the door, however, the knight hesitated and gave her final look back. "Thank you again for saving my brother and sister for me."
"You're welcome," she answered. "But it was not I who spared your siblings or gave Dilandau a second chance at life."
Allen nodded before departing with the waiting princess. Hitomi solemnly watched them exit. Weary as she was, she was still unhappy to see them leave her. They had been encouraging these last few weeks.
When the dust had settled on the battlefield, Hitomi had spent endless days trying to fix the hysteria of the kingdom. In the end, her list of completed tasks had cumulated into burial of the dead, imprisoning of Zaibach soldiers, rebuilding Fanelia, reaffirming alliance treaty, and glorifying the true god after she was announced as a goddess. The last item took most of her time just because of the display she made that day with her wings. She had also taken a great deal of time figuring out where had Sora had disappeared to and how Dilandau had lived without any memories of his violent past. Everything had been a surreal rush of events. It almost like she had dreamed the whole thing.
Doors creaked opened and Dryden took Millerina previous spot on the floor before the seer. Hitomi immediately put on another smile, "Even though we haven't known each other very long, I will be sad to see you gone as well."
"We shall meet again, Lady Hitomi," he grinned brightly, his hand crossing over his heart in a traditional farewell of his country. "You may count on it."
"I shall," she replied. "Blessings on your travel home."
"As to you," he answered while rising. "Until we meet again."
Then, the handsome merchant followed the same path of the Austurian princess. Hitomi lurched as he disappeared. Dryden had been the last of the alliance representatives to leave. She had already had her heart to heart with Merle so that meant she had only one thing left to do.
The seer swiveled around and smiled at the quiet king. Van smiled whimsically as he walked towards her. Taking her hand, he pressed up against her and brushed his forehead with hers. They closed their eyes and sighed. Her heart skipped when she felt his hot breath brushed over her collar bone. She bit down on her lip, "It's time."
His grip tightened on her, "Not yet."
She chuckled to cover the sob, "I'll be back soon."
He pulled back, his beautiful garnet eyes staring deeply into her jade ones. "You don't know how long it will take to convince them."
Pulling out of his arms, she slowly led him out of the castle. She knew he was partial correct, but she couldn't help the smile. "It will be God that will convince my people. Not I."
"How do you plan to explain to them that God destined Fanelia as their promised home?" he persisted. He wasn't doubtful of her duty or ability, but he wasn't ready to let go of her. They passed through the gardens and he knew time was spiraling out his reach.
Heading down the familiar stone path, the seer shrugged, "God will tell me when I get there. For now, I must have faith and do what is needed."
It wasn't long before they reached the temple. An unspoken commanded passed between them and together they walked hand in hand to spot behind the grand edifice. Tucked away in the dreary shadows, a small graveyard lied quietly at rest. Together they stood at the foot of a fresh grave. Turning to face her, he clutched her hands and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. He stared down at her pale fingers in thought. "I shall wait for you till I die forever."
Her hand swept up his cheek to turn his attention back to her face. She grinned happily at his worried expression. "There's no need to wait that long. It is our destiny, together, to bring our people here."
Subconsciously, their heads leaned closer and brushed their noses together. His eyes grew heavy as he took a deep breath, "Be my wife."
Her breath hitched, "I would have it no other way."
The lips met for a searing kiss, their last farewell. Both wanted the feeling to last, but that meant never letting go. Her hand tangled into his dark hair as her love for him swelled. How had everything turned from being wrong to so perfect? Her people would be moving to Fanelia, the world had become peaceful, God had reclaimed his glory by her testimony, and she was marrying her one love when she returned from the Mystic Valley.
Hitomi quietly pulled away. Van inhaled deeply before whispering, "Hurry back."
Her hand pressed something cold into his palm. Looking down, he saw her red pendant. "You can give it back to me as a wedding present."
He solemnly nodded. In three small heartbeats, the young king lifted an energist to the sky and bright blue pillar crashed down on them. Their eyes never left each other as the seer was gradually lifted upwards. Tears were streaming down both their faces as their fingers slipped apart.
"Hitomi," he breathed as the light stole her away from his sight. The sky grew dull shortly after. "I'll wait."
And he did, but it wasn't forever.
A/N: It's finally finished. I hope you have enjoyed this chapter and this story. I'm very pleased with this story and happy I took the challenge to write it.