Chapter 26: The Final Stress
The celebration of Ash's victory was proceeding on. Everyone, who came to the Pokemon World to assist Ash in what appeared to be his time in need, introduced each other in a sense of understanding and pleasure of knowledge of friends being there. Tenchi and InuYasha stared at each other, with grins that was spelling trouble. Tenchi's confidence was grown during the battle with Ifriokuya's minions, willing to protect Sasami with Ryoko by his side. The ivory hilt, bellowing a beam that was shaped like a sword, was clutched in his hand, as InuYasha clutched Tetsuiga, willing to battle again. The half-demon's adrenaline continued to course through his body, as it told InuYasha to keep fighting. It was going to be an exciting battle, untill...
"SIT!" Kagome yelled. The beads on InuYasha anchored him to the ground, flat on his face. He whimpered in pain and denial, not being allowed to spar with Tenchi. Ryoko was appalled by Kagome's act to stop InuYasha.
"Hey, I wanted to see a battle with the swordsman you brought over," she growled. Kagome didn't flinch at Ryoko's anger.
"Keep in mind, woman, we were here for Ash. I don't want any bloodshed while I'm around."
"You've got some nerve to talk to me like that."
"And you've got some nerve for wanting a sword fight for no reason." Then, Yuna and Lisa pulled the two soon-to-be combatants away from each other.
"All right, break it up, you two," Lisa told Ryoko as she was dragged by the tail. Ryoko was struggling, and was in pain from the tail pull.
"We need to calm down," Yuna tried to reason while holding Kagome in a bearhug. "This is a time of peace." While Kagome took a deep breath to relax, Lisa used her staff as a bat, and knocked Ryoko out, cold. Brock, seeing what Kagome did to InuYasha, sweat dropped in nervous fear.
"I suppose that one of those necklaces could've been used on me, don't you think?" he questioned. Whitney shot a smirk at Brock.
"Oh, yeah," she grinned. "Misty told me about your female antics." Brock bowed his head, fustraited about the past before being married to Suzie. In a forgiving mood, Suzie carressed his head amongst her chest.
"It's all right," she murmured. The conversation between Kuriko and Roy was a more pleasent sight. Kuriko was examining the glove that Roy used to assist Pete.
"So, this is ignition cloth?" she asked as she put the glove on. "Feels rather rough."
"The fabric is hard to find," Roy said. "Give it a snap." Thinking that it wouldn't hurt, Kuriko snapped her fingers. That's when an explosion occured. Everyone turned to see...Pete, with his shirt burned to a crisp. Pete felt like a pizza, charcoaled after being left in the oven by the cook who fell asleep after being thrown in. The plain shirt crumbled to the ground, exposing Pete's chest, and a mark of a red X on his chest. Kuriko sweat dropped, thinking Pete would be mad at her. Roy slapped his head, believing that it was his fault that Pete was torched. Ash, on the other hand, was horrified by the discovery of that mark.
"It's all right, miss," Pete hummed as he brushed off the dirt. "I've had worse."
"Like that scar on your chest?" Ash pointed out. Pete peered at the mark, looking baffled about it. That's when it hit him.
"This is my birthmark. Neither my family, the king, the queen, not even I knew what it was...until now." Everyone was stunned, thinking that Pete kept it a secret, until the time was right.
"Go on," Jeanie ordered.
"Ash, could you remove your shirt, please?" Everyone looked over to Ash, before staring back at Pete, some in disgust.
"Why should Ash strip for you?" Yamase questioned with a mean look.
"When Ash was revived, he had the same mark on his chest, where La Mortua stabbed Ash as Ash was finishing off Queen Pandora's assassin. It turned out that he also possesed that mark: the heart of the devil king." Everyone was in shock. They began to believe that Ash recieved the mark, once Ash declothed his black shirt, when Elizabeth revived him. Suddenly, both marks started to fade out, like stains on clothes in the washing machine.
"My scar?" Ash noticed. "It's disappearing!"
"Yeah, same with mine." Finally, the marks vanished, like they didn't exsist in the first place. Both chests were cleared of the red X, like the sign of Drakvy was gone. Everyone didn't have a clue of what just happened.
"You don't think this is because of Drakvy's passing on, is it?"
"I have a strong feeling that it is."
"So, let me see if I got it," Lisa spoke up. "Drakvy's heart was with the two of you: Pete, since his encounter, and Ash, when he was revived by the princess a year ago. With Drakvy gone for good, the hearts disappeared, like his mission was accomplished." Al wasn't too sure of Lisa's answer, as if it was something completely different.
"Lisa, that is so farfetched," he replied lowly.
"Think about it, Alphonse. Drakvy couldn't crossover to either Heaven or Hell, because the gods decided to allow him to finish what had been started between him and that other demon. However..." she began to strain from the pressure, and losing her spot in what she tried to explain. "Forget it. It won't make any sense." Some of the people laughed, thinking that the marks that dissolved didn't mean anything anymore.
"How about this," Sasami started. "Why don't we drop the subject? I don't think it means anything now."
"I hate to say it, but she does have a point," Roy agreed. Continuous replys were an indication that the marks were a thing of the past. Everyone had a nice time after that issue occured. InuYasha and Jeanie had a spar with their swords, in which Ryoko decided to officiate the contest. It also meant that InuYasha had to use Tetsuiga as a sword, and not as a projectile with the Wind Scar attacks and such. He was at a disadvantage against the muscled swordswoman, and it showed as Jeanie's techniques made short work of the half-demon, having him flat on his back. Jeanie pointed her sword at his head, about a couple inches from piercing her opponent.
"Louie's a better swordsman than you are," she scolded. "Next time, use your composure before fighting me, again." Ryoko stretched her arm at Jeanie.
"Jeanie has won the fight," she announced. Jeanie sheathed her sword, before reaching her arm down, in order to help InuYasha back on his feet.
"No hard feelings...friend." InuYasha was upset about his lost, not only to a sword battle, but in humiliation that he was beaten by a girl, other than Kagome, Kikyo, or Sango. Jeanie decided to groduce a deal. "If you want, I can teach you, the same way I taught Louie." InuYasha gave it a thought. He was defeated by a trained swordswoman, and he revealed that he had little skill with a sword, like Tetsuiga. Momentarily releasing Tetsuiga, InuYasha grabbed Jeanie's arm, in which she pulled InuYasha up to his feet.
"I'll think about the offer," he said as he retrieved his sword. "I'm sure I can have Koga take me to your home, when I feel like it." He sheathed his sword, as Kagome approached them. She wanted to know what was going on with the half-demon and the muscled woman.
"What are you doing, InuYasha?" she scornfully asked. InuYasha turned to her.
"Relax, Kagome. Jeanie and I were having a sparring match. She was victorious in it."
"In other words, you two were in a fight?"
"It was controlled," Jeanie answered with a smirk. "Your friend has potential." Kagome wasn't too sure if she wanted to believe Jeanie. Jeanie's muscles looked like they had more mass than what Junpei had. Junpei felt rather uneasy seeing Jeanie, thinking that she may be stronger than him.
"I'm not too confident with your gentleness," he studdered. Louie stepped forward, trying to defend his friend from anything that might harm her.
"Did you forget that I was the one who beat you in X's castle?" he reminded Junpei. Instead of paying attention to Jeanie and Kagome, Junpei turned to Louie, steamed at what the rune soldier mentioned. Junpei tried to grab Louie by the shirt collar, but Louie snagged his arm, mere inches from his person. "Not the wise way to act." Junpei's anger skyrocketed with fustraion.
"Shut up, Louie!!!" In control of his remaining arm, Junpei swung a fist out, when Surge made a catch. The fist wasn't as close as his attempt to grab the shirt, but when Junpei threw his arm out there, he wanted to silence Louie.
"You need to relax," Surge warned. "This is a time for peace, not conflict." Ash walked up to the group, scowling at the hot-headed martial artist.
"Stand down, Junpei," he coldly told him. "That is an order." Ash didn't want a fellow knight to attack a comrade, and the mean look he revealed was a serious act. Junpei was so close to striking Louie, that Ash would try to stop the feud, even if it meant killing them. It was because of the fight against Ifriokuya, that his adrenaline was still high. Junpei began to comply, seeing the young trainer's mean look, know he meant business. He relaxed his hands, signaling Surge and Louie to let his arms go. "Now, apologize." InuYasha was stunned with the turnout as Junpei shook Louie's hand in forgiveness.
"It's a fact, Kagome," he sighed. "He is scarier than Naraku." Kagome and Sasami, who also saw the event, were in amazement of Ash's actions.
"I think for good reason," Kagome agreed. "Mutinty amongst the knights would've meant serious punishment."
"Kari expressed the same anger a year ago," Sasami reviewed. "Knowing that Junpei and Asuka were arguing before the battle against La Mortua, Kari yelled at them to stop, because of what we were sent to do, not what we were wanting to do with each other." Brock heard the three, but had a feeling that it was something bigger than just instablity with the knights.
"You know what I think?" he asked. The three were wondering what Brock had in mind. "I think Ash is worried sick about something." Befuddled at what Brock hypothesized, Kagome and Sasami turned to each other, wondering if they had any knowledge of what he might be refering to. InuYasha, on the other hand, had a pretty good idea.
"You think it's Kari?" he guessed.
"Yeah. Ever since returning from the first trip, he told me that he wanted to try out the Battle Frontier. But, he also said that Kari was his biggest influence in his battles, and wondered if he was ever going to see her again." Rin followed the conversation, and decided to add to the theroy.
"If that's the case," she started. "Then you might as well add Hikaru. Ash loved both of them, and wanted to merge them together." That's when Sasami became horrified.
"I hope they're okay?" she cringed. As conversations continued, Al and Roy were teaching Kuriko, Yuna and Lisa the basics of alchemy. The girls were taking notes in pocket books that they had along, as Al drew a transmutation circle on a tree stump.
"Now, use your imagination and picture what you think this stump will transmute into," Roy instructed. The girls gave the stump a deep thought.
'That stump could be a king sized bed for me and Kazuki, so we can do this, and that, and everything imaginable,' Yuna thought about her fiancé.
'That stump could be a lovley spa that Kazuki and I would warm up to, other than the tub itself,' Kuriko minded about Kazuki, too, despite the engagement a year ago. Lisa was a little different.
'That stump could be a crib for the baby I want to have with my sweet little Yukinari,' Lisa dreamed. All three girls kept the people they loved in mind, giving Al a befuddled look.
'Are those girls actually concentrating on the lesson?' he minded like he was annoyed. After straightening himself out... "You have an idea on what I can turn it into?" The girls showed Al and Roy that they were ready to see alchemy magic. Pikachu decided to sneak in and see what Al was doing, just as Al clapped his hands together. Pikachu reached up, cutting Al's approach. "Pikachu!" The tip of Pikachu's tail was touching the circle, unaware to anyone, even Pikachu, for that manner. When Al grabbed Pikachu to move it, the circle became active. The circle brightened as Al moved Pikachu out of the way, when a tree bursted from the stump. The tree grew, passed the tallest trees within the area. Then, like a parasol, the branches opened outward with millions of green leaves blooming. Everyone was in awe and amazement, seeing a tree, which would take years to fully grow, bloom in mere seconds, and reach a height that would make the tall trees look like midgets.
"Now that's what I call, a growth spurt," Roy joked, thinking of Ed at the moment. As they gathered to see the alchemic phenomenon, Gatomon, who had been quiet since the start of the demon battle, crawled up on Whitney's shoulder to get a better look at the tree. Suddenly, the cat spotted something unusual in the tree, and sprinted to Pete.
"Hey, Pete," she called. Pete looked down to see Gatomon.
"What is it?" he asked as the kitten began to point up into the branches. Pete looked, and gasped in a breath-thaking surprise. Heads, created out of the tree's bark and possibly alchemy, stemmed from the branches in groups. The heads had the faces of everyone that had been in the everlong epic, not only for Ash, but the other knights, as well. As everyone stared at the tree with shocked stares, Roy was the first to spot his head, with the same stern grin he supported when he first met Ash and Pikachu. Alongside were the heads of Ed, Winry, and Armstrong, all with smiles.
"Now there's a group picture I like to take," he said. "It even has Fullmetal's short side." He was hoping that Ed's wooden head would pop up and scream vulgarities for that mocking. Kuriko found her head, having that evil smirk on her face like a criminal. Beside her head was Kazuki, with a nervous look on his face, Dr. Akai, with a straight, non-caring face, and Yuna and Yamase, with cheery faces.
"You know, Dr. Akai does look like that every time I visit him," she pointed out. Kagome saw her head nearby Armstrong's head, with a face so happy, it was like she graduated high school. By her head were the heads of InuYasha, Sango, Miroku, Shippo(all smiling) , Kikyo, Kaede (both straight-faced), and Rin, the girl who was hangging out with Sesshomeru, with a confused stare on her face. Rin (the swordswoman) recognized the other Rin, keeping her poise.
"That's Rin," she muttered, catching InuYasha's attention as he peeked to her. "The one who hang's out with Lord Sesshomeru."
"That girl is also named Rin?" he questioned. "And she's with my brother?" Hearing that news for the first time, Rin's eyes opened, a little stunned.
"I was not aware that Lord Sesshomeru was your brother."
"There's many things that InuYasha wants to keep private," Kagome groaned. InuYasha turned his head away from them in disgust. "See what I mean?" Rin believed Kagome, and nodded. Ryoko found her head near the feudal group's heads, with a winking grin on her head. With that head were heads of Tenchi, with a determined look, Ayeka, looking furious for some reason or another, Mihoshi and Kiyone, with straight faces, and Washu, sporting a wicked smile that would make even the evilist of mad scientists cringe in fear.
"Washu's head'll give me nightmares for a while," she moaned. Tenchi, however, had suffered more abuse from Washu. He should've been the one complaining about it.
"Ryoko, that's my line," he nervously protested.
"Whatever." Jeanie's head only had one eye sticking out from the head's hair, when she found it. Joining her head were only Melissa's and Merrill's heads, with plain smiles. Other heads that were on the branches included Shinji, Rei and Misato, from Tokyo-3 with groaning faces; Ritsuko, Airi and Celsia, from the elven world; Tai, Agumon, Matt, Gabumon, Yolei, Hawkmon, Mimi and Palmon, from the time in New York; and Yukinari, Miharu, Kirie, Koyomi and Tomo, from Mizuno. Pete found his head, with the heads of the servants by it: Neo, David, Stark, Parker, Megsy, Emma, Sakura, and Hannah.
"I do miss being with them," Pete hummed. That's when Brock located his head in the branches, along with Misty, giving a sly wink, May, Max, Tracy, Delia, Oak...and Team Rocket, all together. Ash was in disbelief. Was Team Rocket a big help in the large journey?
"You have got to be kidding," Ash growled at the heads of Jessie, James and Meowth. However, no one esle seemed to notice. In a group of their own, were the heads of Pikachu, Gatomon, Kilala, Ryo-oki and Mokona.
("It's pretty lifelike,") Pikachu awed as it saw it's head with the other creatures. Finally, the knights spotted their heads, higher than everyone else's. Alphonse, Asuka, Junpei, Lisa, Koga, Sasami, Rin and Louie's heads were in a group below the remaining three: Ash, Kari and Hikaru. All saw the heads of the knights, correctly placed high for everyone to see and cheered. Ash, seeing the heads of Kari and Hikaru, made him worried sick.
"Kari, Hikaru, I...hope for my sake that you're not dead." Afterwards, everyone was ready to go home. The knights helped open the portals for everyone to enter, in which they performed, except for Pete, Yuna and Rin. When the portals closed, and the other gym leaders saying good byes to the group, Pete and Gatomon hopped board Yuna and Rin, as they, with Kuriko and Yamase, headed back to Pallet Town, where Asuka, Kazuki and Mia were waiting for them.
"Well, Ash," Brock started to Ash, seeing the last six depart. "Ready to go?" Worried though, Ash turned and nodded. He hoped that a few frontier battles would ease his mind about the girls he loved. A couple of days passed, when Ash, Brock and Suzie were reunited with May and Max coming from their stop in Gardenia City. May was all happiness. She presented a green ribbon with a crown decoration on it. It proved that she was the victor in the Pokemon Contest there, giving the others a chance to give their congrats.
"Well, Harley wasn't making it easy for me, anyway," May admitted. "I was fortunate to pull away with a knockout aginst his Sableye."
"I had no idea Harley had a Sableye," Brock replied with a hint of surprise. Max peered at Ash, who was happy for May's win in Gardenia on the outside. The little brother began to wonder about how Ash was doing inside, thinking that the smile that he was wearing was phony...until Ash flashed a gold medallion. The other day, he had beaten the frontier brain to gain the latest symbol.
"I guess you and May have reasons to celebrate," Max said with a light laugh.
"Anabel was a handful, especally, with her Alakazam," Ash admitted. "But, you know me." May and Max chuckled. They knew Ash was able to pull out a win. They had no idea how close they were to losing a good friend all together. The five began marching along as the days and weeks passed. Team Rocket thwartings, Pokemon catching, and even the gourmet meals abound. Almost a month had passed since the battle of the demons, and Ash was feeling no better. He still felt worried that the merging had failed, and that Kari and Hikaru had joined Drakvy and Alex in heaven. One night, he couldn't sleep a wink. It caught May's attention, as she was waking to the constant moaning. At first upset, May was willing to straighten Ash, until she saw what appeared to be a wound over his arm. Now, she began to worry.
"Ash, what is it?" she asked.
"Can I ask you something May?" Ash counter-questioned with a hoarsed voice, like he had a troubled throat. "During the contest in Gardenia, did you see that fight in HopHopHop Town on TV?"
"Sure did. I also saw a lot of people fighting, and a good chunk of them looked very familiar. But you know, I was starting to wonder why the two giant monsters only fought each other." From what it sounded like, May was oblivious in wondering where Ash was, or what he became. "Now that I see that injury to your arm, I was wondering how you got hurt." Ash tried to ease the pain by moving the arm up and down.
"Let's just say, I was correcting a wrong from the past, and I had to use force. I couldn't reason with him before we both became gigantic, and he was potent on rage." The tale pieced a puzzle in May's head. She mulled at the thought of Ash becoming Drakvy, only to fight.
"You did it again, didn't you?"
"He left me no choice. What do you think I was gonna do, surrender and die like that?"
"No, and I understand if you did what you did to protect everyone who was nearby." A moment of silence passed when Ash rose to his feet, and laid a note under Max's pillow before picking Pikachu up and onto his backpack. "You going to see Liz?"
"Can I come along, then? You know, for moral support?"
"Sure." He pulled out his key, and opened a portal. Both he and May jumped in, before the portal disappeared. The note that was resting under Max's pillow read:
GONE OUT FOR A WHILE. BE BACK SOON. -ASH AND MAY.
Ash, with sleeping Pikachu on his bag, and May got to and entered the castle, to the front hall. Ash was curious to know if Elizabeth was awake when Emma saw them and stepped forward. "Knight Ash, what brings you back to Elizazbeth's castle?" She asked.
"Emma, is Gabrelle here?" Ash wondered. "I have news about X." Emma saw Ash's wound, and got a little concern. However, Ash did issue a question.
"She is, but can I tend to your wound, first?" Ash's arm was bothering him so much, that treatment sounded like a good idea.
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"Not at all. Megsy saw you and May coming and saw the injury. She's in the medicine room."
"Thank you." Emma escorted Ash to the hallway, where the medicine roow was, as May held Pikachu in her arms, unaware of Neo and Hannah approaching.
"Hello, May," Neo greeted with some wonder. "Any reason why you're here?"
"Just keeping Ash company," May replied. "How've you been doing?"
"A lot better, kowing that Pete's still alive."
"When Neo told us that news," Hannah spoke up. "We were estatic. Even Elizabeth was overwhelmed by it."
"I would imagine she was," May smiled, since Ash told her about the same thing. "And Jean-Marc?" Neo and Hannah were trying to find the right words to use.
"When Asuka first announced Pete's death, he was in straight denial," Neo answered. "But when I reported his survival, he cried for a while, like his beliefs of him living were answered."
"I never saw a grown man cry like that," Hannah sighed as she hid her face in her hand in embarrassment. Ash, with his wounded arm wrapped up in bandages, re-entered the front hall, along with Megsy and Emma.
"I don't blame him though," he voiced. "Pete and Jean-Marc were best buds after the kings killed the wrong demon." Everyone was stunned at Ash's news.
"Are you saying King Pandora killed Drakvy, and that he was innocent of these catastrophies?"
"Yes. The real demon responsible was named Ifriokuya, who killed Gabrielle's brother when she was entering this world, and laid waste to many of these villages. In fact, he helped La Mortua escape Drakengard, and kill Queen Pandora. Recently, I defeated Ifriokuya and sent him to the underworld. That's when I met the spirit of X, or should I say, Prince Alex the Tenth, who was also a victim of Ifriokuya's tirany." Everyone couldn't help but feel horrified about what had occured to Alex and why Drakvy was killed for Ifriokuya. Even Elizabeth entered the front hall, hearing it and feeling sick, until adding the other detail.
"However, my father did evacuate Pete out of there, right?" she asked. Ash turned to her, still with those cold eyes.
"That part is still as it is. At least, Darnell Lunaria and the home of the knights will be in peace." The whole castle went quiet as they prayed for that peace to continue. An hour had passed while Ash and May sat by the tree, the one in which he crashed into, some time ago, outside of the castle, and Emma was keeping an eye on Pikachu inside Ash's room. Then, Gabrielle and Jean-Marie stepped outside, to where the other two were. Gabrielle was told of what happened by Neo, thus, her facial expression was of sadness. Jean-Marie was worried about the other princess, and thought a talk with Ash might comfort her. May and Ash saw them coming.
"Gabrielle, Jean-Marie?" May began to wonder. "What's going on?"
"I was hoping if I could go and see where Alphonse lives," Jean-Marie wished. "Gabrielle thought of Melissa's offering of praying to Mylee over in Ohfun, to help get in touch with Heaven." May wasn't too sure of the idea.
"I don't know. I'm not one of those world hoppers like Ash." Ash thought otherwise.
"I think a stop to Ohfun is a great idea," Ash volumed. "But I was hoping we wait until Pikachu wakes up." That's when Sakura stepped out with Pikachu in her arms, fully awake, before galloping to Ash. "Hey, Pikachu."
("What's up, Ash?") Pikachu cheered.
"Ready to go to Resembool?" Pikachu stopped being jumpy when it heard of Al's hometown, but immediatley knew who was there, who would be happy to see them. May appeared puzzled. She had no idea about what Resembool was, much less, where Al resided.
"Resembool?" she questioned. "I thought you said where Al lives."
"May, Al's hometown is Resembool, along with Ed." May shook her head. She didn't know about where anyone of the knights, other than Ash, lived. Ash turned to Gabrielle, who was still down about Alex.
"Gabrielle?" Gabrielle turned to Ash, who put a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry for the loss of Alex. Even he didn't deserve to die like he did." Slowly, she stepped up and hugged him, as a sign of comfort.
"You didn't know him, but...thank you, Ash," she cried. She shedded tears, knowing that nothing could bring her big brother back. "I'm ready to go."
"Okay. Is everyone else?" The rest signaled that they were ready. Ash pulled out his key, and opened the portal, before they all entered it.
They exited from the other end of the portal, and on their feet, in front of the sign, which began the first search. It still read:
WELCOME TO RESEMBOOL, HOME OF EDWARD ELRIC, THE FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, AND ROCKBELL'S AUTOMAIL SHOP
"This is the place," Ash announced. While Gabrielle looked on with some intrigue, and Jean-Marie getting excited to see Al, May was dumbfounded in the setting, still a few buildings in the area.
"Ash, are you sure this is where Al resides?" she questioned, not too clear on what she wanted to expect.
"I don't blame you for being puzzled, May. From when I left to now, the year must be 1917."
"You mean we went back in time?"
"That's right. Unlike the technology we have back home, man made labor helped proceed the world."
"Thanks for the history lesson, I guess." Before anyone could approach the town, a boy on a bike saw the group, but mainly Ash.
"There you are," he yelled out as he stopped the bike. "I haven't seen you for a long time." Ash chuckled as he approached the rider.
"Yeah, I remember you," he laughed. "How did that date go, from before?"
"Splendid. As a matter of fact, were right now boyfriend/girlfriend, and if it builds...well, you know."
"I bet. So, you delivering to the Rockbells?"
"That was the plan, but, if you want to do it..."
"Sure thing, pal." The rider handed the smiling trainer a roll of today's newspaper. "Thanks."
"No. Thank you. I'll be off now. Bye." With that, the rider peddled off. The girls were befuddled with what had occured.
"That was random," Jean-Marie muttered. Ash turned to the town and began to walk, with Pikachu on top of his head.
"Let's go," Ash called. A little while in, they came across the remains of the old Elrics' house, still dormant since the failed human transmutation, and burning of the home. Instead of taking another stop for teachings, the group pressed on, until they spotted the Rockbell home. Ash began looking up, not wanting a repeat of what happened before.
("Watching for flying monkey wrenches?") Pikachu joked. Ash gave his mouse a stern scorn face, but it didn't phase Pikachu.
"So that's the Rockbell Automail shop," Jean-Marie said. Unaware to anyone, a certain ishbalin, in a white headband, black shirt, and brown slacks, carrying a bag of food, was arriving at the scene. She gasped at the sight of Ash as he was proceeding to knock to see if anyone was home.
"Winry," he called out. "Pinako, are you here?" Winry peered out of her bedroom window, monkey wrench in hand. She was willing to use it on Ed for not talking to his mother from beyond the grave. However, when she saw Ash...
"Hey, Ash," she greeted back. Everyone turned to her, with smiles. "Be down in a second." She bolted to the front door, and opened it to allow the others inside. Winry smirked at Ash, happy to see him again. "At least I don't carry you inside, this time." The ishbalian heard that and giggled.
"What did you do last time, that you carried him in?" she asked. Everyone turned to her, but Ash was wide-eyed in disbelief.
"Do you really want to know, Rose?" he groaned, shaking his head. May leaned over to Ash, with the wanting of knowledge.
"Ash, you know her?" she questioned. Ash didn't feel like talking about it.
"It's a long story." Everyone was inside, but Ash was a little uneasy. He was the only male, who was with five young women.
"So, Ash, what's with these girls?" Winry playfully asked. "You trying to be a stud, or something?"
"No, Winry, I've got someone in mind. Let me introduce them." Ash, first, pointed to May. "This is May..." Second was Gabrielle. "Gabrielle..." Last was Jean-Marie. "And, the reason why we stopped here, Jean-Marie." Winry and Rose rose an eyebrow each, wondering what Ash meant by the reason. "She's been real fond of Alphonse."
"Ohhh..." Winry and Rose sounded, understanding the visit. Ash continued with introductions, pointing to Winry.
"That is Winry, who's been childhood friends with both Ed and Al, and Rose, another friend of Ed."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," May greeted. "Say, are the brothers here?"
"I got a call from them, a little while ago," Rose answered. "As a matter of fact, they said they'll be here in a couple of hours." That gave a smile to Jean-Marie's face. Suddenly, the front door opened, causing everyone to shoot a look there.
"That call was a couple hours ago, Rose," Ed grumbled as he was entering the house. Al entered, too, in front of the now over excited Nimbukron princess. She raced and tackled Al to the ground, freaking everyone else out in fear.
"Alphonse!" she cheered happily, hugging the little Elric. Ed peered over to Ash, with a mean look.
"You couldn't help, but bring her here, couldn't you?" he scowled. Ash, however, saw Winry and Rose behind Ed, with a pair of wrenches in their hands, showing an even meaner look.
"You've got some issues you need to take care of yourself," Ash huffed. "At least, I know that Jean-Marie and Al will have a great life, together. C'mon Gabrielle, May." Ash, May and Gabrielle exited the house, with Al and Jean-Marie waiving. Ed was starting to believe that Ash was a coward.
"I guess he really likes to walk away."
"Oh, Edward..." Winry and Rose called. When Ed turned...WHAM! The two girls were walloping on poor Ed, as Al and Jean-Marie walked upstairs, away from the female assult. Ed was in pain, and in fear of dying.
"Hey! Stop! That hurt!" Ash and the rest high tailed it out of there, after he opened the portal, and they jumped in.
Ash, May, and Gabrielle had exited the portal and into a busy village, inside the gates. The population was in the booming, as trades were occuring as fast as Pikachu's Quick Attack. "I was wondering what goes on here," Ash awed. The three walked around, what appeared to be, the marketplace, seeing all the transactions that were getting done. At a nearby pub, Melissa, Merrill, Jeanie, Louie and a grown redhead woman in glasses were enjoying a great meal and drinking grape wine.
"Congratulations on your proposal, Louie," the redhead cheered.
"Thanks, Ila," Louie chuckled as they touched glasses. Melissa smiled at Louie's fortune, after the successful proposal to Celecia. When she looked out of the window, she gasped. She saw Ash, May, and Gabrielle, wandering around the village. She, immediately turned to the rest.
"Louie, I got to attend some business," she said. Louie felt rather betrayed, thinking that she wanted to say "thanks" and run off.
"Now?" he huffed. "What's the deal?"
"A certain V.I.P. has arrived. You know, the devil kid?" Realizing that she was refering about Ash, Louie nodded in understanding.
"I gotcha. Come back soon."
"All right, and congrats. It'll be the first that a human and an elf are a couple...at least, in my life." She exited and started chasing after the three arrivals. It didn't take long for her to catch up to the kids, because...
"Ash, admit it," May growled at Ash. "We're lost." Ash knew May was dead on.
"Sorry, May," he moaned in fustraition. "I wasn't expecting Ohfun to be so big." That's when Gabrielle spotted Melissa, coming their way. She put a hand in the sky to guide Melissa to where they were.
"Melissa, over here," she yelled out. Ash and May heard Gabrielle, and immediatley knew what the deal was. Finally, Melissa made it to them.
"Ash, May, Gabrielle," she bellowed. "I was wondering when you kids would show up." May, then, noticed an akward smell radiating from Melissa.
"Have you been drinking?" she questioned. Realizing that May scented alcohol in her breath, Melissa covered her mouth.
"Sorry. I was giving Louie a toast for his proposal to Celecia."
"Celecia?" Ash copied. "You mean, not only has she succeeded in her rite of passage, but now, she's about to become a bride?" May was downright confused. Not only did she not know about anyone but Louie and Melissa from this world, but she was befuddled about a marriage that might occur.
"Wait a minute, here," she volumed. "Rite of passage, Celecia, proposal...I'm not understanding what's going on." Ash decided to get her updated.
"When Louie and Melissa were summoned to Darnell Lunaria," he began to explain. "Louie recieved a letter from a elf named Celecia, who resides in an elven village in the forest, nearest to where we are. He was invited by Celecia, who was going through a 'rite of passage' to become an adult." The info was starting to make sense for May.
"I take it she passed, right?"
"From what I'm hearing, she did. Celecia has an affection for Louie, like my Muk back home with Professor Oak." As May finally got the knowledge, Gabrielle and Melissa were amazed that Ash knew so much, with so little detail.
"Okay, how in the world did know all that?" Gabrielle wondered in disbelief.
"First off, I still remember the first knight meeting after we plucked the princes and our friends. That includes my visit to here, when I was dropping them off." The three girls dipped their heads, still in disbelief.
"Sorry, we asked," they moaned in unison.
("This is what happens when you fail to pay attention, even in the event of an emergency,") Pikachu sneered. ("It's common sense. Learn it.") After everyone straightened out, Melissa was ready to escort Gabrielle.
"I'll take Gabrielle over to the church," she said. May didn't feel too comfortable, since she was drinking recently. "And before you ask, don't worry. A family member of Louie's is a bishop over there. Let's see if you can guess who?" Ash pondered the quiz question.
"My best guess would be his grandfather," he motioned.
"Not quite. It's his aunt."
"His aunt?" both May and Ash echoed in puzzlement. They peered at each other, trying to understand how a bishop of a church would be a woman. It wouldn't help, since they weren't church-goers to begin with. Melissa and Gabrielle chuckled at the confused trainers.
"Well, we should get going. If you want, you can visit Louie at the nearby pub."
"We'll...think about it," Ash studdered. "Bye." With that, Melissa and Gabrielle strolled off to the church of Mylee, while Ash and May locate the pub spoken of. However, instead of going in, the trainers thought about how to confront Louie, should they bother going in. That's when Ash brainstormed a simple thought. "Let's just leave Louie a note." May started to mind the picture of Ash, chickening out.
"Are you scared to confront a fellow knightmate?" she teased. There was more on Ash's head than seeing Louie and his girls.
"Listen, May. My mind has been in a wreck for a month, since that demon battle. I still want to believe that the merge with Kari and Hikaru went successful." May changed her mood to worry. It wasn't seeing Louie, but the fear of the loss of the two girls. "I'll write a note to Louie. Then, I will send you back to Max and the rest."
"What about you?"
"There's a land I have yet to visit." May nodded. 15 minutes later, Ash tossed the folded note through the window, and floated onto Merrill's head. She grabbed the note, as Ash opened a portal to send May back home. The note read:
LOUIE- AWESOME JOB ON PROPOSING TO YOUR GIRL, CELECIA. SORRY I COULDN'T STAY TO CELEBRATE. -YOUR KNIGHTMATE, ASH KETCHUM.
The name became new to Ila. "Ash?" she repeated. "Never heard of that name." Louie wanted to express the tale.
"Remember what Melissa said before she stepped out?" he asked as Ash opened a portal for himself and Pikachu, and stepped into it. "Not only was he a friend, but he was also the reincarnation of an innocent demon. Upon it all, he may be young, but he's the most powerful person I know." The rest awed at the honesty of Louie, but wished they would've wanted to invite Ash.
After coming out of the portal, Ash and Pikachu were in awe at the sight. They couldn't believe how majestic the land of Cephiro was. "Can you believe this place, Pikachu?" Ash questioned.
("No, not at all,") Pikachu admitted. They began to walk around, but their amazement to the land was growing so much.
"I've never seen a land so beautiful like this." Suddenly, he found the same three graves that the Aoi girls and Kari found before. Ash reads the names on the crosses. "Zagato. Emeraude. Eagle." That's when remembered what Hikaru told him the night the knights rescued their friends and retrieved the princes. "High Priest Zagato and Princess Emeraude...they became the real threat to this world. I think, as forgiveness, Hikaru fell for Lantis, the same way Emeraude was with Zagato."
("Are you guessing, Ash?")
"Never mind." Then, out of nowhere, Mokona appeared and pounced on Pikachu, out of fun. Pikachu got up and turned to the marshmellow.
("You couldn't resist, could you?") Mokona bounced around, acting like its bubbly self. ("All right. Here I come!") As Pikachu and Mokona were playing around, Ash kept his attention on the graves, and held his hand over Emeraude's. As if he was a bodyguard of her, Ash was saddened by the sight, like he was unable to save the pillar of Cephiro. Unaware to him, Umi and Fuu arrived at the site. They saw Ash, tearing up over the losses of the three, seemingly buried under the dirt. Umi stepped up and placed a hand on his shoulder. Pikachu and Mokona stopped playing around to see the other magic knights with the knight of Darnell Lunaria.
"There isn't anything you can do for them," she murmured. "Even if you could. We should know, because we weren't left much of a choice." Ash reached over to his shoulder, and placed his hand on her's.
"Thanks, Umi," he moaned. Pikachu was happy that he was being cared for. Ash stood up and turned to the girls.
"So, Hikaru told you what happened here, didn't she, Ash?"
"She did. Even she feels sick talking about it." That's when he saw Fuu. "I take it you're Fuu Hououji?"
"I am, Sir Ash," Fuu hummed, as she held her hand out for a shake. Ash clutched and shook her hand gently, and felt muscles in that hand, but mainly, the fingers. Ash, also noticed the glasses, looking familiar, somehow.
"Your hand's pretty muscular, Fuu."
"I am an archer, when I'm not in Cephiro."
"You mean, with a bow and arrow?" Fuu nodded, saying yes. As they separated hands, Umi wanted to know how Ash was doing.
"So, what's been happening since Ascot and I visited your world?" she asked.
"I had an encounter with someone who we all thought was dead, but found out that he was a demon that had caused havoc everywhere he went. When I fought, I felt Kari and Hikaru, joining me in the fight. We managed to defeat the demon...all that were there. For a month, my mind had been on that merging process, and I feel as though-"
"You do not need to worry," Clef, who wanted to step out to see what was occuring, voiced out, interupting Ash's moaning thoughts. Everyone turned to the mage, wondering what was on Clef's mind. "Ash, the month has passed, hasn't it?"
"I guess so."
"They're waiting." Umi and Fuu knew he was refering to Kari and Hikaru, but Ash was clueless. "Keep an eye on Mokona. We'll watch your Pikachu until you get back." Pikachu and Mokona were surprised. They were going to be swapped on a whim by Clef. Mokona thought that this was going to be an oppertunity to see the Pokemon World. Not willing to argue, Ash started to run, and snagged Mokona as it hopped towards him.
"Behave, Pikachu!" Ash reached in his pocket for the key. As soon as he retrieved it, he opened the portal, to his hometown, and dove in.
Ash and Mokona appeared from the portal, on top of a hill, overlooking Pallet Town. Ash was anxious to see the conclusion of the merging process, with Mokona on his shoulder. He raced down the hill into town, and sped passed his house. "They're at the ranch," he volumed. "I was told by Yuna." He hopped over the gate, like a horse over a hurdle, and bolted through the lab, where Gatomon and May's Bulbasaur were sleeping. The afterwinds got their attention.
"Was that Ash?" Gatomon asked. When Ash reached the ranch, he saw the Blender Egg. He was in utter disbelief. This couldn't be the merge that had Kari and Hikaru in it...could it? His memories of being with Kari, when they first met in New York, and how she cried when he was killed by La Mortua, plus their reunion after he ran from the castle, because of Drakvy, and the memories of Hikaru, when they first met in Elizabeth's castle, then when they rescued Kagome, Tai and Agumon from Flinter, along with bringing Luther back to the castle, adding to Hikaru's first kiss with him, and the same reunion in Fenko. Now, after a month apart, this was the result of a promise that Kazuki produced? A giant egg?
"No..." Ash collapsed to his knees, in distraught. Not only did he see an egg, he saw nothing: no movement, no energy...no life. Mokona was beginning to worry. What could he tell Ash? Gatomon walked out and saw the terrified trainer. She had to saw something.
"Touch it," she suggested. "It's the only way to see her again." Ash was nowhere near confident to do anything.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Not deciding on another offer, if there was another offer, Ash stood, and walked to the egg. If Gatomon was right, the merge would be a success. As soon as he was an inch to it, he took a deep breath, still unsure about the whole thing.
"If you can hear me, that no matter what happens, I love you." Finally, he hugged the egg, which began glowing. Seeing the glow, and coming from inside the lab, Delia, Asuka, Pete, Mia, Tracy, Oak, and Rin peered out, with Delia holding Mia. All watched as Ash was consumed by the light.
"Can his timing be more perfect?" Asuka grinned.
"I think this was his time," Rin said. When the glow subsided, Ash and another girl were embracing each other in a hug. The new girl came out of the egg, meaning the merge was complete. She had Kari's sweet face, along with her eyelids, but with Hikaru's red eye color. She had Kari's hairstyle with her hairclip and hair color, but had Hikaru's braided ponytail, plus the tips of the hair were pinkish-red. Kari's soft skin was felt, but Hikaru's muscles got plenty of feel as the girl wrapped both arms around Ash. One arm had Kari's glove, and the other had Hikaru's glove. The other thing she was wearing, however, did not belong to either. Instead, what it was, was a shimmering white nightgown, that lengthened down to her ankles. The rest, watching this, were in awe at the new girl.
"Oh my god," Asuka murmured. "I am so jelous." Pete thought that Asuka was thinking that he would dump her for the new girl.
"This is Ash's girl," he noted. "You're still my girl."
"I know that, but still...wow!"
"That's pretty much all we can say Asuka," Oak gulped. Delia couldn't help but be happy for Ash and the new girl.
"My baby boy has grown up so fast," she cooed.
"I think the real moment of love is coming," Tracy braced. Ash noticed that he wasn't on the egg anymore, and looked to the girl, as Mokona and Gatomon came forward. Ash and the girl broke from the hug to get a better look at each other. Like the rest, Ash was blown away with what transpired from the merge.
"I love you, too," she hummed. Her voice was like Kari's, but with the emotion of Hikaru's tone.
"Thank you, for helping me against Ifriokuya," Ash greeted. "Is there a name that I can call you?" The girl smiled, knowing what to be called.
"My name is Hikari. Is that okay?"
"More than okay. It's perfect...like you." They leaned in and kissed each other, making everyone applaud. The scene was a sight for everyone to see. Even the Tauros were proud of the acomplishment.
10 YEARS LATER...(PETE'S P.O.V.)
To see Ash and Hikari together was a pleasing sight, after all the horrific events, from my first encounter with Ifriokuya, in which I was the only survivor to the devistation; when King Pandora passed away of natural causes, and I became the person to console the young queen and the princess; a couple of years before the knights of Darnell Lunaria were summoned, that I was in charge with assembling the servants, which included Neo, David, Stark, Parker, Emma, Megsy, and Sakura, just as La Mortua was being released by the vile demon, and after La Mortua was killed, and I hired Hannah to replace me as a servant. To think that after the first journey, everything would quiet down. I didn't want to mind that way, thinking that there was more. I should've thought otherwise when I was almost killed by that rouge.
I was lucky to be alive, but I was very worried about Mia. I always thought that our child's future was what kept me from going to heaven, joining Drakvy and everyone else. It's been ten years since the epic demon battle. Asuka, Mia and I now reside in Seattle, Washington, after Asuka and I got married, and moved here. Plus, we had a new person to the Fenko family. I chose Fenko as our surname, to commemorate the the village I lived in before it was demolished. Anyway, it was a boy, in which Asuka named Ryu, because it sounded cool in her head. He had my blond hair, and blue eyes...and, sadly, my reckless attitude, too. Today, he is seven, and Mia is ten. When we moved here, I was hired at a high school, nearby our duplex home, as a physical eduacation teacher, and my wife, Asuka Langley Fenko, is a high ranking judge in the state. We thanked Misato and Mr. Ikari for their help.
"So when do we leave for the queen's castle?" Mia questioned. It was a reunion that we had planning back in Darnell Lunaria. Not only were the digidestined and the magic knights of Cephiro going to be there, so were so many of us.
"Geez, eager beaver," Asuka chuckled. "We still have a couple of hours to get ready." As you already can tell, Mia was fired up to go and see everyone there. Even Ryu was rearing to go.
"You can't really blame her, though," I tried to reason.
"And who's fault is that?" I rose my hand, in guilt. After a couple of hours to prepare, Asuka used the key to crossover into Darnell Lunaria, and we all entered. We were expecting to see everyone. Ed and Rose were hitched, after Al and Jean-Marie used the imitation stone to bring flesh back to Fullmetal's arm and leg. He and Al still work fo the State, now as Majors. I should also mention that they have a new house, a few blocks from the military building, and that Al and Jean-Marie are hitched, too. However, both are expecting kids in a few months.
As if Lady Luck was on her side, Rin and Kazuki are together in marriage. How, you may ask? Well, it turned out that on a school trip to the northern islands, the plane, that everyone was on, lost power and crashed on Mt. Fuji, in their world, where everyone, including Yuna, and Kuriko, were killed on impact. However, Rin and Kazuki escaped from the wreckage, barely, with their lives. As for those genes, well, they were passed down to Rin's offspring: their baby girl, they named Karen, who had Kazuki's hair, and Rin's brain.
Junpei and the rest of "Those Who Hunt Elves" managed to get back home to their world, where Airi returned to Hollywood, to resume her role as an actress. Junpei and Ritsuko were engaged, after Ritsuko's father said it was okay, as long as Junpei would be a drill instructor for his military. That father is the general of that army. Junpei agreed with open enthusiasm, as hasn't yet let the general down. As far as we've heard, they hadn't decided on making a child...yet.
Koga wasn't as fortunate as Rin Shikimori. Kagome and InuYasha were able to slay the dreaded demon, Naraku, and restore peace to the land. Koga's only choice now...the wolf girl, Ayame. They haven't made any arrangements of getting into a wedding, as of recently, but that didn't hinder any type of passionate events.
Sasami outwitted everyone, even her big sister, as the woman to marry Tenchi. As everyone had gone back to Jurai, Sasami had recently gone to college at Tokyo University, where she got love lessons from a female professor. She's working on her associate's degree in Medical, and plans on being a doctor. Tenchi is now an omnio mystic at the Misaki shrine.
Louie and Celecia managed to do their wedding at the elven village, and now have two kids of their own, both male half-elves. However, being married to an elf, means that Louie couldn't stay at Ohfun any longer, no thanks to the elven laws, but Louie couldn't have it any other way. Their boys, Robin and Gil, were the first half-elves to ever exsist, as they had Celecia's blond hair. Louie still hopes that there were some traits of his that they have. As for Gabrielle, she became a full fledged priestess for Mylee.
The reason Miharu joined Yukinari from Seiren to Earth was to have Yukinari's allergic girl rash evicted from his system. However, Lisa was the only girl to pass the allergy, and after Ash returned Lisa home, 10 years ago, she and Yukinari kept closing into each other before they were ready. Now married, Yukinari has become a psychiatrist, while Lisa has just started her carrer as a chemist for Mizuno High School. The last we've heard from them, Lisa is pregnant with twins.
As for the Queen, Elizabeth and King Jean-Marc had a little princess, as well. They named their girl, Diane. Tai, Matt, Umi, and Fuu had come to Darnell Lunaria, thanks to the servants, so that they could see Hikari, the merged Kari and Hikaru. When we arrived there, they were the first to greet us, as well as the servants. Everyone else, that I had mentioned, made it here, and introductions were done, including us.
"So, when will we see the final production that Rin talked about?" Kazuki asked.
"I hope soon," Ryu mumbled. That's when Ash and Hikari arrived, with Gatomon, Mokona and Pikachu by their side. Ash and Hikari married a year ago, and they had theirselves a baby boy, in which they named Brandon. Ash was recently named the top Pokemon Master, but he still wanted to compete, because he knows about people in the future being stronger. Ever since Hikari's awakening, Ash had been freed of the issues of the demon battle. Hikari has opened a new restaurant chain, which had been getting raving reviews.
No matter who was there, we became fast friends. No more fighting, no more dangers, it was eternal peace...for everyone.