Ike wasn't that familiar with Sienne castle. He stayed in the castle for the first time during the war against Ashnard, but truthfully, he wasn't in the castle much then. He and his mercenaries were constantly out on redundant yet necessary missions for the Empress. The second time he had been in the castle was during completely different circumstances. He was in the castle for a much greater length of time due mainly to the fact that Zadonia, the strongest nation in the known world, had them all but surrounded. Again, though, this period of time in the castle was not long enough for him to memorize every room and every corridor the castle had to offer.
But after Ike, Boyd, Mist, Ranulf and Bryce climbed two more sets of stairs, they reached a section that even Ike recognized. The halls were growing steadily wider as they went up, the decorations lavisher. And when they reached the topmost floor, Ike knew it instantly.
Once they had reached the top of the most luxurious staircase to date, Ike stopped and looked around. This hallway was nearly twice as wide as the first hallway they had entered on the first floor had and had more than three times as many torched lighting it. This particular hallway was so well lit that all corners of it were unconcealed; every section of it was exposed. The walls were lined with expensive furniture, exotic plants and priceless paintings. The sole door in the entire hallway lay at the very end of the hallway.
There were a couple of windows lining the walls on the right-hand side, adding to the already well-light hallway with pure radiant sunlight of the rising sun. It was mid-morning now, and the sun now was around eye-level with their position in the castle. The birds were chirping away on the trees below and the wind was flowing carelessly through the windows and into the castle. Ike had been so entranced by the whole scene outside the castle that he had to be nudged by Mist in order to regain focus.
"This is it." Ike whispered, almost soundlessly. Ike silently beckoned them to start walking and slowly, they began to walk down the hall. No sooner had Ike took a single step that he felt an arm wrap around his left arm.
Ike looked to his side and saw Mist there, smiling nervously at him in a reassuring type of way. Ike smiled back at her lightly. On Mist's other side was Boyd, who nodded at him grimly. Knowing that Ranulf and Bryce were on his other side, Ike continued walking.
And then, all movement seemed to stop. Ike was walking, he was sure of that, but the door didn't seem to get any closer. It just loomed on the horizon, beyond his grasp. He began to quicken his pace, but to no avail. Hours, days even, seemed to pass with each step. And after what seemed to be an eternity, they were within ten feet of the door. But that was when Ike noticed something he couldn't see before.
There, five feet in front of the door, was a blue, transparent barrier that stretched from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. The coloring of the barrier was so slight that Ike had barely spotted before running into it. Maybe that is what he wanted, Ike thought grimly. Maybe he wanted me to run into the barrier which kills all that touch it...
Was it even possible to create a barrier that kills on touch? Ike certainly had never heard of something absurd as that before, but he knew that Amaros possessed magic the likes of which he had never seen before; so a killing barrier wasn't out of the question. Tentatively, Ike reached out with Ragnell and let the tip of the blade pass through the barrier...
The blade passed through as if the barrier weren't even there. Ike didn't really know what to make of this. It could be a good sign, but maybe it doesn't do anything to inanimate objects.
Ike glanced over at Mist. She was looking at him with pleading eyes. She seemed to be able to tell be the look in his eyes what he was about to, and she didn't want him to do it. But she gave in and finally released his arm from hers. He gave her a reassuring nod and turned his attention back to the barrier.
Ike summoned up all of his resolve and, his heart beating faster than ever, jumped at the barrier. Ike felt no resistance as he passed through the barrier and landed softly on the other side. Behind him he heard four sighs of relief and he turned around to face them, grinning.
"It doesn't do anything!" Ike said happily. "I feel fine!"
"Well that was anticlimactic." Bryce muttered. Even given the circumstances, Ike couldn't help but smile.
"Come on, we got a nation to take back!" Ike shouted.
The others roared in agreement and started walking. But they couldn't pass through the barrier as easily as Ike did. In fact, they couldn't pass through at all. The barrier acted as a wall to them; no part of their bodies could get through. Boyd even tried kicking it, but all that did was give him a stubbed toe.
Ike frowned as he watched the four of them struggle to get through the barrier. "This is soo like Amaros..." He muttered.
"Maybe he made the barrier so that only the first who tried to pass could get through?" Mist suggested.
Bryce shook his head, watching Ike as his he dropped his head and began to pace back and forth. "No." He said. "Well, kinda. I think he made it so that only Ike could get through."
"Yeah, that's the conclusion I came to." Ike replied after a moment of silence. "He thinks that I am the only reason this war is still going on. He thinks if he kills me, you all will give up."
"Not that I think that you are going to...well, you know..." Boyd said uncertainly. "But if you do, we'll keep on fighting."
Ike wasn't sure to take this as encouragement or what, but everyone else began saying similar words, so much so that it was hard to pick up any single sentence without interruption of a different sentence. And though he couldn't understand the barrage of words sent his way, he couldn't have motivated himself any better. If he was going to die, at least it would be for the ones he loved, and for the country he loved.
"Go do your thing, Hero." Mist's voice was much quieter than the rest of them, but it was those words that stood out in Ike's ear. There was single tear rolling down her cheek.
Ike wanted desperately to say something dramatic or reassuring or confident or encouraging like you always here in those legends, but nothing came to mind. It was as if someone had tied his mouth shut for he couldn't say a single word. All he could was stare at them hopelessly and try to convey them in some other way than his voice that he was confident in his abilities, even when in reality he was not.
In the end, he simply nodded at them and turned his back on them. It was all too much, seeing them so confident in him. It was much easier to look death in the eyes than to lie to those he loved. And then Ike couldn't help but smirk when he turned away. If he turned out to be the great hero and slay Amaros, maybe some writer will make something dramatic for him to say in his interpretation.
The door which he faced now was bigger than any other in the castle and much more ornate. There were beautiful hand-carved engravings on the wood of the huge door, but Ike took no notice as to what those engravings were or symbolized. He instead tried to focus on what was in store for him on the other side of the door. Quite obviously, this room was the bedroom of the empress before her capture. Perhaps even more obvious was the fact that the death of a nation lurked on the other side. Which nation, Ike knew not, but one nation would fall today.
After a moment's hesitation, Ike cleared the gap between him and the door in a single stride and reached his hand out to the door handle. It was pure gold by the looks of it and it too had engravings on it. The handle turned at the slightest push and the door opened just as easily. The hinges creaked ever so slightly as Ike walked into the room dignifiedly.
The room on the other side was much like the room he had expected it to be. There was a giant four-poster bed directly in front of him, the purple sheets of which looked like they hadn't been touched in months. The floor was covered by an ornate red rug which fit perfectly in the room. On the left was a luxurious wardrobe, complete with mirror. And on the right was an opening in the wall which led to a balcony overlooking the courtyard of the castle and the castle-town. There were light purple curtains draped across the opening, but they were thin and couldn't keep the sun's rays from creeping into the room.
Ike was so intent on examining every aspect of the room that he didn't notice at first that Amaros was nowhere to be seen. Ike frowned when he noticed this. He had to be here, Ike surmised, he just liked to play with his food before he ate.
Ike began to thoroughly search the room. Amaros wasn't on the other side of the wardrobe. He wasn't out on the balcony. He wasn't on the bed. But there was somebody else sitting on the rug just to the right of the bed.
"Lethe?" Ike gasped.
Sure enough, it was Lethe. She sat there, he arms and legs bound and her mouth gagged, just staring at Ike. She had the most peculiar look in her eyes, almost as if pleading that he would not recognize her. And after all these months, she didn't look too great. Her whole body was covered in dirt and she seemed to be severely malnourished. But still, she was alive.
Ike threw all caution into the wind as he rushed over to Lethe. "Lethe!" Ike exclaimed as he reached her. "Wha-what's going on? Where's Amaros?"
Ike knew that she wouldn't be able to answer him, but asked her this more out of frustration of not finding Amaros yet. But as it turned out, Ike was wrong. Lethe's eyes shifted from him to somewhere over his right shoulder.
Taking the hint, Ike spun around so quickly that he very nearly lost his footing and toppled to the ground. And there he was. He had emerged from his hiding spot, which happened to be behind the very door that Ike had opened. Ike internally kicked himself for not checking perhaps the most obvious spot in the entire room as Amaros strode toward him.
Amaros looked as striking as ever. He was walking toward Ike with his arms opened wide and a strange, forced smile on his face. He looked as if he were greeting an old friend. His long, dark red hair, tied back in a ponytail that extended past his shoulders, clashed brilliantly with his strikingly black eyes.
"Hero!" He called out as he got closer. "We've been waiting for you!"
Ike frowned. He was never one to make small talk before a duel, but from what he could make of Amaros in the little time he has known him, Amaros loved to. Ike did his best to show that he didn't want to talk, but to no avail.
"I knew the moment that I hooked that sub-human that I would draw your attention." Amaros said with slight smirk, exposing his bright white teeth. "And I was not disappointed, eh?"
"I would have come anyway." Ike muttered, doing his best to restrain himself from losing his temper at Amaros' lackadaisical use of the word 'sub-human.' Ike heard Lethe shift uncomfortably behind him, and Ike could only imagine what hell she had been through, chained up with this madman.
"Of course you would have, but at least you had to visit on my terms this way." Amaros stated matter-of-factly. He was grinning wickedly. "You couldn't just lay back and hide until I made the first move. You had to come to castle or risk, you know...something happening to her, per say."
Those words disturbed Ike. Had he done something to her? He sounded as if he were telling the truth, on this point at least. But then again, you never knew with Amaros; it was always in him to promote chaos.
Ike watched Amaros with the closest thing to an angry glare that he could come up with. "You best hope you didn't do anything to her, or else I will do ten times worse to you."
"Tsk, tsk." Amaros grinned. "There will be plenty of time for threats later, Hero. But first, there is much to discuss, much to discuss..."
Ike frowned. This guy is impossible. "Alright, but make it quick." Ike said with a sigh.
"You have been a very large nuisance, my dear friend, a very large nuisance indeed. I have had one high-ranking officer betray me already, and I sense that many of my own soldiers too are having second thoughts." Amaros said. His expression was blank once more and he had his arms behind his back. If Ike didn't know any better, Amaros was some businessman trying to close a deal. "Why, even a Zadonian has joined your ranks!"
Ike smiled ever so slightly. "Set an example and others will follow, Amaros. People do not like being told what to think, no matter how much you believe."
"That is irrelevant." Amaros said with disgust. "Nobody would have ever dared do something like this to me before, never! Sure, they might have thought it, but they would never act on those thoughts. No, that is, not until you. Oh precious Hero, he will lead us from this!" Amaros paused and grinned in the most peculiar way that Ike had a tough time analyzing. "It is as if they think that you can actually beat me. As if the Hero of Tellius can possibly stand a chance against the most powerful man in the world!"
"Power comes in the mind of the beholder, Amaros. You get what the others give you." Ike said quietly, keeping his resolve under Amaros' increased fury. "And it can be taken away just as quickly."
Amaros suddenly lost his temper and he was smiling again, which furthered Ike's confusion. "You are right, Hero, completely right." He said barely above a whisper. "If I were to leave right now with you still alive, I would be shunned back in Zadonia. Held captive by the very country that I am trying to better. Which is exactly why I must kill you."
"And you think that will help you?" Now it was Ike's turn to raise his voice a little. "They will have already gotten a taste of a life without you! You can't take that away from them, and they will simply rally behind the next one confident enough to stand up against, which I can honestly name at least twenty waiting in line."
"I will kill as many as it takes." Amaros said simply.
Ike stared in the man's black eyes with obvious loathing. And Amaros stared back with his normal confident glare. And suddenly, they both internally agreed it was time. "Well, you can start with me." Ike said as slowly drew Ragnell from its scabbard.
"Gladly." Amaros said coldly as he pulled out a short, sleek knife; the blade of an assassin.
For a moment, the two simply circled each and stared hatefully into each other's eyes. In the middle of this, Amaros called out with a grin, "I did enjoy Lethe's company, you know. She's not the kind of person you want to talk to, but I sure liked locking her up-"
That did it for Ike. He didn't even bother waiting for Amaros to finish speaking, but instead charged at him mid-sentence. Ike heard a scream from Lethe and a second later, Ike was lifted off his feet and sent sprawling back ten feet and into the stone wall.
For what seemed like hours, Ike lay where he fell, head spinning and aching all over. All he could see out of his eyes were fuzzy outlines of various colors and shapes; indistinguishable objects had he not known what they represented beforehand.
It took a few minutes before Amaros came back into view, flashing his yellowed teeth.
All at once, Ike realized what must have happened. "But...but," He stuttered, still finding it hard to string words into a simple sentence.
"Surprised, Hero?" Amaros said with a slight laugh. "Yeah, I suppose I would be too in your position. Mages as you know them are weak. They need tomes to cast even the most basic spells. But you are about to face someone much more powerful than the mages you know. I, like many others back in Zadonia, have complete power over our spells. I can cast them at will without any sort of incantation or tome. The results, I must warn you, are quite devastating. For you."
"Great.." Ike thought. "He can cast any spell he wanted, at any time? Well that definitely doesn't help.."
Gingerly Ike got to his feet. His back was pleading him to sit back down and take a rest but his mind and his heart was telling him otherwise. There was a cut on his forehead, but Ike let the blood run down his left cheek. He scooped up Ragnell, which had been flung from his hand when he hit the stone, and turned to face Amaros again, this time better prepared for what Amaros can do.
"I've always wanted to know, Amaros." Ike said as he got back into position. "Why did you target me? Out of everyone in this land, you chose me to pursue. Why is that?"
"Why?" Amaros spat. "You were the only reason I didn't take Tellius sooner!"
"You made a major mistake doing that." Ike said coyly. "You could have found a much more subtle way to rid of me, something that wouldn't unify the entire resistance together. But you went and put a tag on me, thus strengthening what you tried to destroy. That was probably the worst mistake you could have made, and you are about to pay dearly for it."
"The only mistake I made was not getting rid of you sooner." Amaros said with a frown. "But no matter. I have my second chance now, and I intend to make use of it."
Ike narrowed his eyes and waited for Amaros to make the first move this time. He was not too keen on getting hit by another spell like the first one. He did not have to wait long either.
In a moment's notice, Amaros lifted his arms and a fireball burst out of his outstretched palms, and it was no small fireball either. Ike had to leap away at the last second just to dodge. Ike gracefully did a somersault out of the leap, landed back on his feet, and immediately spun towards Amaros and leaped at him.
Amaros was too entranced with his spell that he was caught completely unaware; he hadn't even seen Ike leap out of the way and presumed him to have been caught in the fire. Ike, however, had lost grip somewhat of Ragnell during the maneuver so that he was forced to resort to a wicked punch to the jaw.
Ike let his momentum carry him forward a few more passes, then turned around to admire his handiwork. Amaros had been knocked off his feet and was now flat on his back. His jaw, Ike was pleased to see, now sported three deep cuts from Ike's metal gauntlets, each dripping with blood. His whole jaw was inflamed and looked swollen. It would be, Ike guessed, much harder for him to talk now.
Ike grinned. "Now that you cannot talk Commander, let your actions speak louder than your words."
Amaros looked furious. He got up quickly as the cuts on his jaw continued to spew blood. He gripped his short blade tighter than ever and charged at Ike. There was no magic bursting out of his palms this time. His was brandishing his blade back and forth, poised to strike.
Magical talents aside, Amaros was a novice with combat, Ike soon found out. His motions were erratic, his battle stance weak and exploitable; his entire character for the time being was running on pure emotion.
Ike easily deflected a swipe from Amaros and sidestepped out of the way, almost disappointed. All the build-up for this?
Ike was soon satisfied. Amaros stumbled forward then completely halted his momentum and stretched out his arm like last time he had cast a spell. Ike braced himself for the worst, but no fire shot from his, nor did wind or ice or any other type of spell that Ike had come to expect of mages. Instead, a large, orange cat materialized from out of nothing.
Ike stared, stunned, at the creature for a moment. He wanted to believe it was some sort of hoax created to scare Ike, but it looked much too real to be fake. Its growls were loud and intimidating and its fangs did nothing to help his uneasy. Even worse was the fact that it looked exactly like Lethe's Laguz form.
Amaros watched Ike with great triumph. He was so proud of his work that he ignored the pain in his jaw to boast, "What, you thought that I wouldn't give you the chance to meet my little friends, did you? I mean, you allowed me to get to know this one here, shouldn't I return the favor?" Amaros grinned maliciously. "You see, this here is a type of ancient magic that is unknown in this dry land. I can call any creature at any time to do my bidding. Needless to say, it is very draining magic and requires a recharge time on the mage, but I think you'll find my recharge time very short."
While Amaros was talking, the creature was doing its very best to make Ike feel uncomfortable, and was succeeding on many levels. No doubt Amaros had chosen this creature to call because he knew how it would affect Ike. It was the striking image of Lethe as a Laguz, except that it was snarling loudly and its stare was cold and deadly. Well, Ike supposed that was typical of Lethe as well.
Ike glanced at Lethe to his left, but no sooner had he done so that the beast leapt at him. Ike was too slow to react and soon he was on his back, fending off its deadly jaws with one arm and attempting to push it off with the other; all with Amaros cackling in the background.
Ike felt a horrible pain as the cuts on his wrists from earlier were opened once more by the beast's savage attacks. In his agony, he finally succeeded in grasping the hair on the tops of its head and was able to hold it back for the second he needed. As soon as he was able to restrain in with one hand, he grabbed Ragnell, which had been flung from his hands, and stabbed the beast right through the heart. It died instantly and fell off his body ungracefully, and Ike got up a second later, drenched in blood.
His wrists were throbbing, but Ike no longer cared. His clothes were ruined but that didn't matter to Ike anymore. An overwhelming sense of hatred washed over Ike as he glared at the man of his loathing. Ike's eyes of fury and his blood-stained appearance at the time was enough to make anyone cringe in fear, and Amaros was no different.
Without speaking another word, Ike took Ragnell in both of his hands and charged full-sprint at the Commander of Zadonia. Amaros started backing up in fear but realized too late that it would do no good. In a last-ditch effort to save himself, he raised his hand and prepared to launch another spell.
But the Hero was ready this time. As soon as he saw Amaros' hand start to move, and launched his attack, and he hit his target. Ike was soon engulfed by a minor wind spell that knocked him off his feet, but not long after Ike saw Amaros' left hand fall to the ground, severed completely from the rest of his body.
Amaros was howling in agony, clutching his left stump of an arm to his chest, but his spell was not done yet. He obviously was not done casting his spell when he lost his arm, and results of this were devastating. An extremely powerful burst of wind launched out of Amaros' now-limp left arm directly upward at the ceiling. The burst caused the stone above Amaros' head to crack, and slowly, Amaros was showered with rubble. Ike and Lethe were, thankfully, both out of the range of the rubble.
A minute later, when the stone had stopped falling, Amaros was still alive and standing even, but he was submerged up to his knee in rock and seemed to have no possibility of moving his legs.
Knowing that the time had finally come to free Tellius from this man's tyranny, Ike got up, gripped Ragnell tightly in his hands and walked slowly toward the trapped Amaros. Amaros tried frantically to move his legs at all but to no avail. He was under Ike's mercy now. He turned to Ike with a look of almost pity as Ike got with five feet of his trapped body, but that look soon turned into that of triumph.
Ike felt his brow furrow in confusion. Didn't Amaros know what was about to happen? But Amaros pulled out his blade with the only hand that he had left. He slowly nodded at Ike once, turned, and prepared to throw it...
Ike then realized what Amaros planned to do. Faster than he had ever run before, Ike ran at Amaros and stabbed him in the gut, killing him instantly, but it was too late. A second before, Amaros had released the blade.
Ike knew there was no way that he could get to it before it reached his target. All that he could do was watch in horror and pray to the goddesses that it did not hit its mark. But Amaros' aim was true.
The knife hit Lethe on her left shoulder. Ike cringed as he saw her twinge in her bindings when the blade hit, screaming in pain but not making a sound due to her gag. The shock in her eyes was nothing like Ike had ever seen before. The wound began oozing blood at an alarming rate and Ike knew that if he could see her back, he would see the tip of the blade sticking out.
"No!" Ike mouthed. Without even withdrawing Ragnell from the limp commander, Ike ran over to Lethe, sweating furiously. He knelt down in front of her and, with shaky hands, removed her gag.
Lethe instantly began gasping for air, her breaths short, shallow and irregular. "No..." Ike kept muttering to himself, letting a tear run unchecked down his cheek. "No...this can't happen..."
"Ike..." Lethe groaned. Her entire character was weak, and her voice was think and raspy. Ike could barely see her eyes because her eyelids were drooped so low. He could only imagine what she was going through, being so weak to begin with and then this.
"A-alright..." Ike said, his voice hoarse. "Ok. Mist is right outside, Lethe, s-she can help you, she can make you better. Let me go get her-"
Ike turned to rush outside and get Mist, but surprisingly, he felt a hand clasp around his arm, begging him to stay back.
Ike turned to find Lethe looking back at him with a pitying smile on her lips. "Ike..." She gasped quietly. "Don't...leave me."
Ike felt the tears rolling freely down his cheeks now. "No," Ike said quietly. "No, Lethe, you don't need to do this; Mist, she can make you better, she can-"
"My t-time has come, Hero." She whispered. "Give me my peace."
Ike wanted to tell her that she was crazy. He wanted to pick her up and carry her to Mist if he had to, but something held him back. One look in her eyes, which she had opened as wide as she could for his benefit, told him that she had already made up her mind.
Ike sighed as he sat down in front of her. He used his sleeve to dry his face then looked back at her and nodded slightly. "Ok." He said, his voice shaky. He wanted to sound as convinced as she had been when she spoke, but he just couldn't.
"Ike?" She said. Her voice was getting thinner by the second.
Ike searched her face for something, anything, but it was completely blank. It looked as if the very life within was slowly leaving her body.
"Cut the binds off my feet."
He complied immediately. Ike searched for something to cut the ropes with, and instead of getting Ragnell, he resorted to using a jagged rock. As soon as her bindings were broken, Lethe opened her legs a bit and Ike saw something that he had noticed before.
"Ike..." Lethe said, seeing Ike's reaction. "I need to tell you something, and then I need your help."
"Lethe..." Ike asked lightly. "Amaros didn't...H-he didn't..."
Lethe saw his eyes keep darting back down to her womb so she decided it would be best to come right out with. With a deep sigh, or as deep as her compressing lungs would allow, she said, "No, he didn't. But Ike, you're going to be a father."
To say that Ike was surprised would be an understatement, but it was hard to tell what else he was feeling. His eyes were narrowed as he stared at Lethe, as if he expected her to jump up and say that she was kidding. But she never did, and what's more, she was about to deliver.
"Listen Ike," Lethe said. Her eyes were beginning to dry, and her breathing was so short that it was amazing that she was getting enough air. "Believe me, don't believe me, it doesn't matter. I-I don't have much time left...Please, stay with me as I give you your child."
Ike could feel the tears running down his cheeks once and saw the same on Lethe's. Ike quickly moved from in front of Lethe to by her side and grabbed her hand in both of his. With the closest thing to a smile that he could come up with, Ike said, "I love you, Lethe."
Lethe was on the verge of tears by now, and she was getting to closer to delivery. But though it all, she still managed to grimace and say, "I love you too, Ike," for only one of the few times in her life.
Ike bent over and kissed her on the cheek as she went into labor. While Lethe was moaning and screaming, Ike comforted her, held her hand, and told her stories of how their child, son or daughter, would grow strong and make a difference in the world.
And finally, it was over. As Lethe's screams died away, a pair of screams from newborn twins took the place.
A number of gasps were produced when Ike emerged from inner chambers. Although he didn't think it at the time, he supposed he must have been quite a sight. First off, he was completely filthy. He was covered in blood and his face was splattered with ash and dirt from when Amaros' spell backfired on the ceiling.
But all that clashed brilliantly with what he held in his hands. In his left was the blood-stained Ragnell, fresh from victory in battle. But the right hand was cradling his newborn twins. They were the two most beautiful children that Ike had ever seen. One was a girl and the other was a boy, and they had fallen asleep minutes after they were born. Rather than carry them on his blood-stained tunic, Ike had removed Amaros' red cape to use to cover them and shield them from his filth.
Ike strode forward and watched them as they gaped.
"Ike, what happened?" Ranulf asked. He kept glancing curiously down at the red bundle.
"Yeah Ike, we noticed that the barrier was broken, we figured that meant that either you were dead or Amaros was. Is that right?" Boyd asked.
Bryce simply watched Ike and seemed to be able to infer what exactly had happened and showed the tact in not questioning, and Mist did not ask either.
"We'll have plenty of time to talk later." Ike said impatiently. "But first..."
Ike walked forward until he was in front of Mist. He watched and felt another tear running down his face. One deep look in her eyes told him that this was all finally over. Some casualties were necessary for this outcome, and Ike finally realized what exactly must have been going through Lethe's mind in her final minutes. A perfect world is not possible, but Ike could now live in the closest thing to a perfect world, all thanks to Lethe.
With his eyes starting to well up with tears again, Ike slowly removed the cover off his bundle and said,
"Mist, I want you to meet your new niece and nephew."
Well, here it is, the final chapter. To those few readers who stuck through with me to the end, I ask the question; Finally, eh? On a more serious note, thank you to all those readers that read even one chapter, one paragraph, or one sentence of my story, you have brought happiness to this humble writer. This is my first story, and I know that my first chapters are, dare I say, lacking in quality compared to my more recent chapters (to put it lightly). I may get around to bringing them up to par, but as I am sure many of you are tired of me telling you by now, I am a very busy man!
Just as an aside, I now that this is not the "ideal" ending for this story, but it is what I had in mind since the beginning and I have no plan of changing it. Also, I know I said that this was the final chapter earlier, but that is not completely true. I do have plans for an epilogue to tie up some lose ends. Let's just hope it does not take 4 months like this chapter did!