Epilogue

May this confession be the start.
- Aida, "Elaborate Lives."

Queen Serenity felt the change in the air as a calm washed across the haunted battlefield. Everything was so quiet, so still. The two armies had exhausted each other, leaving nothing left. The battle was over. She had been using the Silver Crystal, straining to control its power as she willed its strength into the hearts of her people and fought to dull the power of the dark beings invading the Moon. All in vain. Now, in the quiet, she was collapsed against the ground near the fallen marble pillars that had once held up a meeting hall outside the Moon Palace. She barely felt the gentle nudges of the Moon Cats and Surya beside her as they tried to give her comfort. She was exhausted, weak.

But not defeated. She had spent hours calling on the powers of the ancient kings and queens of the Moon, and although collapsed, her skin buzzed with energy. Her awareness had grown and for the first time she felt part of the Moon itself, omniscient and awake. Grief gnawed at her insides, for she felt every life that had been taken lingering in the air like dying candle flames. They were hovering, but soon they would disappear into that great unknown from where they would be forever inaccessible.

She could also sense the few living, scattered as they were. When a dark-haired boy approached her, his face a mask of horror, she knew him instantly although they had never met. He was Adrian, little Bryn's husband. He had found her too late. The queen smiled at him, though it was weak. Nothing could be done to comfort him. Nothing could comfort herself.

Lord Ahriman was still alive. Queen Serenity felt him draw back his powers and start gathering his followers. He and Queen Metallia worked together to reanimate the ten guardians who had protected Princes Kenrick and Endymion in the past but now served different masters. She watched with a third eye when he called them back from the dead and they walked again to him to be bound together in a living time capsule, meant to awaken in the future. Lord Ahriman had enjoyed this battle and would to do it again when he had the chance.

Queen Serenity laughed, her voice filling the night as he sealed them together. He thought he was so clever, so smart, but if he could do it so could she. This was not the end. Wherever he went, she would follow, enacting her own revenge on him in the form of her daughter and her companions. The next time he would not triumph. She would ensure that.

Adrian knelt beside her, his face full of pain. He had seen Bryn's body. Queen Serenity saw it too: Bryn, Serena, and everyone she had known and loved. She saw them everywhere, beneath her closed eyes and dancing through her mind. She blamed herself for being unable to protect them.

"I tried," she told Adrian apologetically. "I did my best, but it is not the end."

"My queen," Luna said, her eyes shiny with tears. "Everyone is dead. How can you say it is not over?"

"Can you not feel it?" the queen asked, getting excited. "What he is doing? How ironic that it is Lord Ahriman himself who gives me an idea about how to destroy him."

Luna and Artemis looked at each other, obviously fearing for her state of mind, but Surya watched her closely, his red eyes thoughtful. "You mean to continue this, to draw it out," he said, and she smiled at him for understanding.

"It is the only way. It is my battle no longer. It belongs to the children of our age. He means to send his followers to the future. I will do the same. Serena and all the senshi. They will be more powerful than before. I will instill them with the power of their ancestors, so that when they meet their enemy again they will have more than petty tricks to defend themselves."

Queen Serenity shut her eyes. It seemed too much trouble to keep them open. "And my darling daughter…She will have the power to fight. It was her own weakness that caused her death. It must not happen again."

"And Bryn?" Adrian asked, his voice tense.

"Her too. It is strange…I feel almost as if her mother is whispering in my ear now, willing her protection. It was my fault for allowing Lord Ahriman access to Bryn. I will give her another chance. This is her fight as much as anyone's. While Serena has made an eternal enemy of that Beryl woman, it is Bryn who must face down Lord Ahriman in the end."

Queen Serenity felt so calm, so wise. She saw the scenes of the future playing out in her mind, guiding her. She looked at Luna and Artemis. "You shall revive my daughter and her friends when the time is right. I will give you the knowledge you need to guide and train them."

The cats bent their heads, weeping softly because they understood that the act of sending the senshi to the future would be the queen's last. It would burn through her remaining energy and kill her.

"They shall be born together," Queen Serenity continued, seeing it in bursts of color. "They will have the chance to live. The senshi and Serena in the same place with Darien. They will be happy this time." She looked at Adrian, including him in the plans. "You will be born with Bryn. I cannot guarantee the closeness of the other Athenians because I do not think I have the strength to bind all of you together, but you two at least will be. As close as I can make you. I promise."

Queen Serenity could see the questions in his eyes, wondering why she would do such a thing for a stranger, especially since she was known to have a cold relationship with Bryn. "I have disliked Bryn," she admitted. "I made no secret about that. It was not her fault. I just could not stand what she represented, the things she forced me to remember…but the time for that is over. It is useless, as useless as it would be to try to rebuild my empire without an heir. I know that Serena loved her sister with all her heart, and if I can do anything to make things up to her, this is it."

Adrian nodded, tears in his eyes. Queen Serenity sat up, feeling strong and cold. She lifted the ancient crescent moon wand she had been using to channel her power. With her last act, the Silver Crystal would break apart, but it did not matter. She knew Serena would find her it again in the new world and reassemble it, using it as her birthright.

"It is time. I cannot afford to wait any longer or their souls may slip out of my reach." The queen closed her eyes and concentrated, gathering the souls of the deceased to her and locking them together in a time capsule similar to the one Lord Ahriman was creating. She felt his surprise as he realized what she was doing, but there was nothing he could do to stop her. He had to focus on his own spell.

Queen Serenity sent a strand of her own power towards his, shattering the link that bound Lord Ahriman and Queen Metallia together. She laughed as she did it, knowing that she had ruined his plans. He would sleep longer than his partner, and when he woke, she would already be gone, defeated. Queen Serenity knew this as surely as she had ever known anything.

"Remember your duties," she whispered to the Moon Cats after she pulled all the senshi together. They looked at her with proud farewells as she brought them and Surya into the weave. Last there was Adrian, smiling with gratitude. He closed his eyes and was lost in that dreamless sleep that would send him to be born again in the future with the others.

Lord Ahriman she sensed was furious at her meddling. It was as if he and Queen Serenity were staring at each other through a psychic chasm, seeing the future that lay before them and the final battle that would eventually decide the fate of the universe. She would let him go. It was no longer her fight.

Queen Serenity breathed out a sigh as she sent the senshi away from her, hurtling through space and time into a future where they would be safe and happy – for a while. The ancient powers would guide them. Some would awaken before others, but in time they would all be together fighting again. And Serena – she would be the leader, the strongest. This time she would not have to watch helplessly as her friends died.

Once it was finished, Queen Serenity dropped the wand. She was alone again, and all the universe was silent and cold. Death came for her like a heavy cloud. Her body was broken, but her soul would linger among the ruins of the Moon Kingdom until her guidance was needed. It made her smile. She welcomed the peace, the rest that she could slip into for a time.

In the distance she heard voices calling her name – her real name – and a silvery echo of laughter that had stayed with her through the years. The sound spread warmth through her body. She felt joy at the knowledge that she would not have to wait alone. They would be with her, Karenna and Auren. In her mind, she saw the two figures waiting patiently for her in the light. They were together, holding hands, their faces lit with happiness, everything forgotten in this place. She remembered them all as children, playing together in the deep meadows of whatever planet they chose. Singing together, laughing, happy as long as they could be together. She opened her arms to them and floated forward, filling with delight.

Queen Serenity closed her eyes, returning home at last. And she could go with the knowledge that in the end, everything would be alright.


And that's the end. Thank you for reading! :)