Chapter 16: Epilogue
Juniper Kim Lee sat in the back of the chamber listening as the audience grew louder and louder. She'd been given a special invite by the magical community as one of its Heroes of the War, but now she was starting to wish that she'd turned down the invitation. Around her, elves, dwarves, goblins, demons, and other magical folk kept staring, almost like they were expecting her to do a trick for their amusement.
Phasing up through the seats and making himself visible, Danny Phantom landed next to June, planting a loving kiss on her cheek, "How's it going?" he asked smiling.
The Asian teen looked deep into his green eyes and forced a smile, "I'm getting a little nervous about this."
"What? Why? Its not like we're the topic of discussion here, they invited us," Danny comforted her, "Have you seen Chris?"
June shook her head. Her brother had also been given an invite, but whether or not he'd show was anybody's guess. Since the war's end, he'd been seen less and less, but when she did talk to him he sounded very different. Chris was much more light hearted and, hard as it was to believe, happier. Still he'd become something of a recluse.
Lower in the chamber, a familiar brunette entered along with a Night Elf and Orc. The three took seats near the floor, talking amongst themselves as they looked through the audience noticing emissaries of many of the races had actually come. This was a historic occasion, it was true, but at the same time it was the perfect opportunity for these races to take out their anger and frustration on one another. That was especially true for the orc leaders that had come.
The four orcs sat together, never speaking, but glaring evilly at the creatures around them. Dartha recognized the leader of her former tribe immediately. His name was Grugg the Vicious for the manner of which he fought. He was adorned in medals and awards that dangled from his blackened armor. At his hip hung an empty sheath which would have normally carried a red bladed sword, but since all weapons were forbidden in the chamber he was unarmed at the moment. Or at least that's what everyone thought. Dartha knew better than to trust Grugg to follow anyone's rules, especially those of races he felt were inferior to orcs.
"Aya, Lila," Dartha leaned over to whisper to her friends, "Keep your eye on the orc in the black. He may have turned over his sword, but I know him too well to believe that he would completely disarm himself."
Aya nodded in understanding while Lila stood and walked towards the stairs searching for June. The Bigfoot searched carefully for June and Danny, all the while keeping an eye on the other races around her. She was extremely uncomfortable when she passed the bog trolls who had long hunted the Bigfoot tribes for their pelts. The trolls watched her very carefully as she moved quickly by, recognizing her as a Bigfoot despite the fact that Lila was no longer covered in fur.
Finally she found the couple in the very back, at the top of the stairs, their arms wrapped tightly around one another.
"Lila!" June called rising to her feet to hug her friend, "How've you been?"
The Bigfoot smiled returning the hug and turning to hug Danny as well, "I'm hanging in there June. Its not easy getting used to the fact that every person I walk by recognizes me and tells me I'm a hero."
"Tell me about it," Danny added plopping back into his seat, "Hey, have you heard from Chris? He isn't returning my phone calls and I'm kinda worried about him."
Lila smiled as she shook her head, "He's fine, just busy doing his own thing. I talked to him just before I came here and he said he'd do his best to make it, but not to count on him to be here."
"What's his deal?" June asked.
It seemed odd that she would ask that about her brother considering that they used to do everything together and they never kept secrets from one another, but in recent months they'd actually started to drift apart.
"He's just trying to find himself is all," Lila explained, "You know how much the war messed him up. He lost his eye and arm, not too mention Jody. Chris' just putting everything back together."
June bowed her head at the lost his arm comment considering the fact that she's the one who had sliced it off, "How's is his arm?"
Lila smiled a little, "It's amazing! Its like he never lost it and it actually increased his power. Whenever Chris uses his left arm it acts like a power amplifier."
"Hmph and you were worried about him," Danny joked.
A sudden hush came over the audience as the lights dimmed. Lila squeezed onto the bench beside Danny and June as twelve people stepped into the center of the chamber. They were the newly elected council members and were the magical community's way of returning things to the way they were. One member from each of the main races and communities would hopefully ensure that balance was maintained among the races and cultures. It was kind of a congress for the magical world.
Slowly each member introduced themselves. There were three elves, two dwarves, a gnome, an orc, a goblin, a troll, and finally three humans. It was one of these humans that caught the eye of the audience, for it was none other than Jasmine Lee, the retired Te Xuan Ze.
"Thank you all for coming," Jasmine spoke, "And thank you for the support you have given us. We hope to earn the confidence you honor us with through the coming years. With the magical world now a part of the human world we will all be facing new challenges and problems and it is together that we will take each in stride!"
It was amazing, but the entire crowd burst out in cheer! Even the four orc chieftains were cheering for the new council. Maybe, just maybe this was the beginning of a future where the magical and human worlds could live in peace…
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jody Irwin sat with Ophelia Ramirez and Roger Radcliffe. The trio of friends spoke about everything they'd experienced since the beginning of the war and the realization of the secrets June and Chris had kept from them. Jody explained the reasoning for the need for secrecy, defending their friends, but Ophelia's usual attitude made it somewhat difficult.
"I still can't believe they'd keep all of that from me, it's not like I'd go out and tell anyone!" Ophelia fumed.
"What about me?" Roger said, "Chris and me are supposed to be bros, you know?"
"Guys it's not like that, they didn't keep it from you because they wanted to," the blonde explained, "June and Chris weren't allowed to tell anybody."
"You knew," Ophelia responded.
Jody stopped. It was true, she knew, but it wasn't like she'd been told about it, she'd found out a lot of it on her own…well, maybe a little on her own and a lot of explanation from her ex-boyfriend.
"And what's the deal with you and the matchstick? Why are you sticking up for him?" Ophelia asked in a dour tone.
"Just because we aren't together anymore doesn't mean I don't still care about him Ophelia," she answered, "It's just that…"
"I scare you," a new voice said from behind them.
They spun in surprise to find Chris standing before them. His left eye was no longer covered by a bandage. Instead a glass eye stared at them with a wicked scar over it. His arm was also uncovered revealing the spell markings and a massive scar where the arm had been reattached. He was a totally different person from the one they remembered, but he still wore his green shirt and khaki pants, and his yin-yang pendent still dangled from his neck.
"Its alright, you can admit it," he spoke softly, no anger or hurt in his voice, "I kinda scare myself what with the arm and eye. I'm only seventeen but I've got all this…this stuff wrong with me."
Jody stood, her stomach twisting, her heart wrenching as he spoke to them. He knew, he knew she was afraid, but he wasn't upset, he didn't look angry, he never brought it up beyond the fact that he knew he frightened her.
"Chris," she started to say.
Before she could say anything more he turned, "I'm not angry Jody, I never will be…"
With that his body began to burn and he softly took to the sky soaring off leaving the three friends behind.
"Wow," was all Ophelia could say.
It was all that needed to be said as Jody sat down between them and wrapped her arms around their shoulders. Things had changed quite a bit in the last six months, but maybe there was something that hadn't…
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
June stood on the edge of the cliff looking out over the ocean. Behind her, Danny, Lila, Jasmine, Aya, and Dartha sat around a slow burning fire. As she listened to them joking with one another she thought of how everything had come to this. The war, everything that had changed because of it, how she'd changed. It was hard to believe that she was only fifteen and had been through all of that.
"Here they are!" a familiar voice called out as the Lee family stepped out of the forest to join the group. Michael, Barbara, Dennis, and Ray-Ray hugged Jasmine and greeted the others.
Behind them appeared Ashley, Jazz, Jack, and Maddie. The group was growing larger and larger as more of them appeared. Even Gunny and Morrison popped in to say hi.
June smiled happily as Jody, Ophelia, and Roger stepped into the clearing and ran up to hug them. There was a lot they had to talk about, but there weren't just friends, they were family. Nothing could change that…
Finally, just as they were all sitting down to start eating, an orange light streaked through the sky overhead. It stopped at the edge of the cliff and slowly approached them revealing a very welcome, bespectacled teen adorned with a huge grin.
"The group's all here!" Danny yelled running up to Chris and pulling him back around the fire until he was sitting across from Jody. Ophelia laughed a little bit at the corniness of it all.
Together, the group dug into their meal, swapping stories from the war and where they were now. The future was before them and now it seemed brighter than ever before…
Alright gang, that's all for this one! Thank you very much to everyone who's read and to everyone who's reviewed, that's what kept me going as I was writing. Thank you all very much and I hope you enjoyed it!