I do not own the rights to the Hollow Kingdom or song.
Seeing as how this is After's last chapter, I want to thank all my wonderful reviewers for leaving a review: Calijame, speederina, CeCe, JayLah, SiriusBlackisSeriuslyFunny333, AwkwardedOut, Phantomrox87, Chris, blabla, very sad girl, DDD, Connysilvia, BalletGirl98, and noonface.
Your reviews mean a lot, and I'm sad that they are coming to an end.
I would also like to thank all my readers, whether you are anonymous or not. I've had many readers from the United States, but also quite a number from Denmark, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and Singapore.
Finally, I would like to thank everybody who's put this story on alert or favorited it. It's nice to know that people enjoy it that much.
And now, on to the final chapter of After.
Circle of Life
For the first time in over thirty years, the goblins were gathered for a king's Wife ceremony. This particular ceremony however, was much different than all the ones previously for two reasons.
The first being, that the bride was not yelling, struggling, or screaming during the ceremony. The tears that she shed were tears of joy, not sadness. The second being that unlike the brides before her, she had family in attendance. None of whom had come to recapture her, but were instead celebrating the occasion. In fact, the dwarves had to create more seating for the bride's family, as well as for the dwarves themselves, who were close to the family. The goblin kings of old would no doubt find the sight very surreal and unorthodox, but to the goblins in the audience it was to be expected.
Seated at the far left end in the front row facing the ceremony was a definite first: an elf king who was the cousin of the bride. Seated on his right was his own new bride, a local girl named Aggie. She was curled up in her husband's protective arms, grateful that her own ceremony was much less bloody than the current. She was also currently sneaking glances at the old woman next to her, the one that her aunt and herself had been named after. She had felt a sense of excitement upon learning that her grandmother's stories about the goblins were true.
The old lady seated next to her, was indeed, old. In fact, she had outlived three husbands and the goblins frequently joked that she would outlive them all. All the goblins called her Nana, considering her their grandmother. In truth, she only had one biological grandson, but had many adoptive grandchildren. One of which was marrying her actual grandson. As children under the full moon, they would all fight for her attention, saying that they were loved best. Then she would have to assure them that she loved them all equally. Of course, once the others weren't looking, she would wink at each one individually, filling them with the knowledge that they were secretly right.
On her right side, sat her son. Marak Chameleonskin, had lost his beloved wife, Inanna, a couple years previously and had been devastated by the loss. He had known that she would always die before he did, but after nearly losing her once many years ago, he pushed the thought to the back of his mind, hoping that he had been wrong. In the end, it had taken his mother, fellow king Nir, best friend and lieutenant Kayto, and son, Marak Foxears to get him out of his funk. After a week in mourning, Marak emerged from his room to find his son had taken over his duties while he grieved. Seeing his son doing so successfully, had led him to handing over most of his magic to his son. Though it broke tradition, not waiting for the past Marak die, Marak didn't care. It was time for a new king. And besides, if a former king's Wife could remarry twice, then he could what was the human phrase 'retire'.
Seated on his right, was the former elf king, Aganir Suen, now called Suen. After Marak had retired, he had decided to retire as well, and handed over his magic to his heir. Unlike the goblins however, one or both parents of the elf heir were not required to be dead for the next heir to marry.
Chameleonskin as he was called now, or Cham for short, leaned over and whispered, "Told you so," referring to an argument between the two from many years ago.
"You got lucky," whispered Suen back.
His response was a wide grin.
Suen's wife, Alice, who was the aunt of the bride as well as godmother, patted her husband to calm him down. As an elf he was already agitated at being underground, and the former goblin king knew all the ways to get under his flawless skin. It was Alice, however, who knew how to calm him down after all the years of being together. She smiled at her older sister, Alex, who sat next to her.
Alex, the mother of the bride watched on as her youngest child was getting married. Alex had graduated from college and went on to become a licensed civil engineer who had participated in a number of successful projects. That didn't stop her from returning to the goblin kingdom once a year to help the dwarves on their projects and visit her sister. As Marak hoped, she did marry Finn, ten years after she discovered the truth of her sister's disappearance.
At first they had been awkward with each other, not quite sure how to proceed once they realized their true feelings. But they finished school still attached at the hip, and began dating, and finally got married. Their marriage produced five children, just as strong in elf blood as their father. Three girls, two boys to be precise.
Alex and Finn eventually discovered the real reason Marak had let Alex go. After some time they came to terms with the fact that it was highly probable that their daughters would marry goblins. In the end, they only demanded that their daughters get a college degree before settling down.
The oldest, Clare, took after her mother and pursued a degree in civil engineering. She now helped the dwarves like her mother did, and had married a son of Candace and Kayto. She was seated in the back with her goblin husband and children behind her parents. The second daughter, Rima, took after her father and helped him with his projects. She had married a son of Babar and Kayta and was also seated in the back. The youngest, Alice, had just finished veterinarian school and was the bride.
Finn meanwhile was seated next to his wife and was recording the ceremony, another first for the king's wives. He understood not many people would be able to watch, but he had taped his other children's weddings and wasn't about to miss his youngest. His wife just smiled and laid her head on his shoulder.
Over the last couple decades, Finn had worked on a number of projects with Marak and Nir. He pointed out that sooner or later, humans would improve their technology enough to the point where it should work, even in the middle of the woods. With that in mind, all three designed a system of spells that didn't interfere with the technology, but controlled what the humans saw or heard. Ground penetrating radar, heat vision, etc... would all produce normal images, instead of the true ones or not working at all.
On the other side of Finn, was Christopher, or Chris, their oldest child who was a mechanical engineer. He was seated next to his wife, a daughter of Miranda's, that he played with as a child at the Inn. She was holding their two year-old daughter in her lap with their seven year-old son on her left. He was making faces at his cousin, the child of Nick, the second son of Alex and Finn who had gone on to become an artist. His wife was Til, daughter of Aggie, and cousin to the new elf king's Wife.
Neither wives knew of their husbands' family, and probably never would have found out if it hadn't been for their sons. One summer day they had seen their sons playing together in the living room. Next second they were gone, and in their place were two white rabbits. The wives had called their husbands in hysterics, only to hear laughter at the other end of the phone. It was then the brothers filled in their wives on what their children had done, and their elvish blood. They had been laughing because the brothers had done the exact same thing to each other as boys, much to their parent's dismay.
Behind the huge brood, were Candace and Kayto. Candace was initially attracted to Kayto since he was the most handsome guy she'd ever seen, minus the blue skin bit. Plus, he was more honest with her, than even Nick had been. And he admired her for outwitting two kings, something Candace had never experienced before.
Meanwhile, the honor of having a non-goblin bride, especially one that had managed to avoid the pursuit of two kings, attracted him to her initially. He soon found that her personality was a bit different from Alex. He had been attracted to Alex and would have married her, but he was glad he married Candace. She was more regal, and enjoyed the finer things in life, unlike Alex who loved wearing sweats all day. Seated with them were their numerous children and grandchildren.
As the golden snake charm was brought down upon the new bride, the goblin crowd rose and cheered. Marak Foxears gave them further cause to cheer when he bent down and kissed his new bride.
The goblins had seen many interesting things over the years, but the sight of a king's Wife willingly, and gladly, kissing her husband back on her wedding night, was definitely a first. Hopefully the first of many to come.
And so After comes to an end. I've already said my thanks to reviewers, readers, and more, so now it's time for extras. There are deleted scenes, alternative endings, and at the very end what I'm currently working on. Read what you want and enjoy.
I would first like to say yes, I know that Marak and Nir should probably be dead before their heirs take over, but I really wanted to see them together one last time, just so Marak could say, 'I told you so'. Please forgive me, just this once.
I never actually got to write this scene, but it deserves to be mentioned. It takes place when Alex is brought to the goblin kingdom and locked in the prison. Once locked in, Alex would look around for some kind of weapon to protect herself, just incase she was lied to. Not finding anything, not even a rock, she eventually takes off one of her shoes and waits close to the door. Marak then opens it, only to find an angry looking human girl holding a shoe as a weapon.
The reason why the scene wasn't included, was because I realized that the human and elf quarters from In the Coils of the Snake were still there, and probably still had furniture in them that Alex could use instead of a shoe. The scene was funny, but it's main purpose was to have a line like the following: Alex bent down to take off her shoe, paying close attention to what shoe she chose. Basically foreshadowing that Alex had something to hide in her other shoe, aka Kayto's watch. But once I realized that the quarters were there with heavier objects, the shoe thing seemed pointless, and there went the point of having a weapon.
There was also a couple paragraphs that got cut from "Dig a Little Deeper" in Ever. They explained how Eresha found her way to the goblin kingdom. I was rereading it at one point, when I realized that up to that point I had never wrote a chapter that contained Eresha's perspective before. I decided to cut the scenes and continue not writing from her perspective, saving everything for her own chapter. It ended up being called "When She Loved Me" but was originally going to be "Eresha Knows Best". Except as I got more into After, I realized that there was more to Eresha than simply being bitter and controlling of Inanna. And so I came up with her history, and her chapter took on more of a sadder tone.
I did mention at one point, that After was going to have Inanna die, Alex being framed, clearing her name, and then marrying Marak. But then Inanna got a reprieve and Kayto and Finn came along. The following are the different endings I had in mind, in order.
1. Inanna dies, Alex is framed, marries Marak. At the end, Alex designs a memorial known as, Inanna's tree. It's a tree that's planted under the lake. Working with Marak and the dwarves, she creates a spell that turns the water droplets in the lake into solar storage units. During the day they would collect solar energy, and transfer it down into the goblin kingdom, providing enough sunlight for the tree to live.
Well that plan got scratched once I decided Inanna lives. I briefly toyed with the idea of it becoming Eresha's tree, but then realized that the goblins probably wouldn't create a memorial for her.
2. Inanna lives, Alex is framed, and Finn saves her with his technology that records Eresha admitting her guilt. They then live with the elves.
I realized that expecting Finn and Alex to live with the elves for the rest of their lives was a stupid idea. Finn may be an elf, but he prefers being inside. I also couldn't see Finn and Alex never contacting their families again, or not continuing their education.
3. Inanna lives, Alex is framed, and Kayto saves Alex.
Kayto was originally intended as a goblin love interest for Alex to trick readers into Alex would end up with a goblin and not Finn. But his character grew one me enough for me to consider them as a couple. Then I saw a lonely Finn, and Kayto and Alex bickering as a couple, and realized that it wouldn't work.
4. Inanna lives, Alex is framed, the Lake is endangered, and Finn goes to the goblin kingdom.
This is the final version. I added a lake, because if Eresha's main plan was to kill Inanna, she would keep trying, and I would be going through goblins that acted as a distraction to Charm. So although Eresha tries to kill Inanna and fails, she figures the Lake spell failing, revealing the goblins would be more than enough for Inanna.
Below is stuff I'm currently working on for those that are interested. If there is anything that you're interested in reading, let me know in a review or PM me. It'll let me know what people are interested in reading, and what I should be working on when I can't decide. Which happens a lot.
Despite school, the FE, and other things, I can't help but write. Even if it's only for a couple minutes a day, writing and plotting stories is how I relax. I tried to go a couple days without writing, but plot bunnies kept visiting me. So below are listed some of the stuff I'm working on. Out of all my ideas, they are the ones that are most likely to be posted. Eventually.
Clare B. Dunkle Section:
A Girl's Guide to Dealing With Goblins, Elves, and Other Magical Beings:
I only have a couple chapters written so far, but it has potential. Basically it's what it says, a guide to the Hollow Kingdom world. Chapters include but are not limited to: Is there really a magical being after me, or is it just my imagination?, Help! I don't want to marry a magical creature against my will, and Help! I want to marry a magical creature against their will.
There's more, but that'll be giving too much away. I also plan on letting readers submit their own ideas for future chapters.
Although it is finished, I do have other chapter in mind. They're basically one-shots that couldn't fit into Ever or After. One is how Edi met her Nir, Aggie shortly after she married Marak, and a scene with Aggie and Edi at the Truce Circle with their young sons.
There's really no rush on this one, and my inspiration is currently otherwise occupied at the moment, but I do have ideas.
I'm currently working on a story with another author concerning Kate's elvish ancestor, who also happens to be Finn's as well. We're not far along, and both have school, so it'll be a while before it'll be posted, but it is started.
I do plan on participating in the writing challenges if I have a good idea. For September, I have a meh idea. It could be good, or might not be. I also have an idea for the October challenge, so I'll see how that goes.
The Trouble With Sues:
Honestly, I don't know how many people in this section would be interested in this story, but I thought I would still mention it. The idea for it hit me out of the blue this week, and now I can't stop writing it in my free time. At the moment I have 3 chapters finished. It takes place in the Justice League universe, and is a different approach to dealing with a Mary Sue.
My own story:
I mentioned a couple chapter's ago in an author's note that I was working on my own story. So far I only have roughly 11,000 words, but it's off to a good start. Although it will never get posted here, if I finish I want to try to get it published. Which if that somehow happens, I will update my profile with the news for those who are curious and want to read it.
And that's it for After and Ever. Fin. Don't forgot to leave once last review!