Hah! I told you I would finish, and I have! I win, I win, la la la la LA LA.
Oh, sad. This is REALLY the end! There's no more!
Now I'm really sad.
Well, in any case, here you are. I hope you like how I finished it off, because I couldn't stand it not happening . . . well, you'll know what I mean soon enough.
If you'll notice, this chapter does not sound like I wrote it. But I did. See "In Pursuit of Azure's Sadness" for details on how I have two different writing styles. It's actually quite strange; sometimes I feel like two different people. But who knows why I wrote like this for just the Epilogue . . . go figure.
I made a song to help me study for English! It's to the tune of Sarah McLoughlin's "Angel," and it starts like this:
Queen 'Lizabeth ruled
The daughter of Henry Eight
And six fingered Anne
Who was beheaded when she was just three . . .
Et cetera, et cetera. It actually works!
Well, you've suffered enough. Here's the end of my fantabulous story!
Epilogue: A Conversation in the Garden
In the weeks following its invasion, Tortall began to rebuild itself. Just because the enemy was gone did not mean the country was suddenly restored. Ransacked cities were still in ruins; those who had passed from the Mortal Realms during the war were not resurrected.
Gradually, the war came to be known as the War of the Phoenix, although the reason for that was not widely known.
Kel and Neal told King Jonathan the true, unadulterated version of their quest, of course. They both also shared the true events with their close friends and family, but even so, most of the nobility found out. Strangely enough, no one ever mentioned it to either of them except for those who had been told by one of the two.
Within the first week, Kel and Neal attended several memorials, held for friends and acquaintances that had been killed during the war. These included Sir Yancen of Irenroha, Sir Gareth the Younger of Naxen, and Owen's cousin, the first year whom Kel had helped with his staffwork. Many of the Palace's work force had lost their lives for standing up to Ichaeruut's intruders.
Although it was never openly announced, members of the Court found it obvious that Lady Knight Keladry and Sir Nealan had progressed well beyond the best friend stage in their relationship. They were together as much as humanly possible, and it wasn't an uncommon sight to see them strolling in the gardens, holding hands and oblivious to the world. While their friends were used to seeing Neal act in such a manner, they were astounded to see Kel, the Yamani Lump, so relaxed.
Concerning the Byrn: The phoenix was yet another part of their quest that the general public did not know the details of, but accepted all the same. She was adored by the nobility and commoners alike -- especially among the children of both groups.
While the commonality did not know in detail what happened to change the outcome of the war and cause the White Legions (as they came to be know) to descend to the earth, it was recognized that both Kel and Neal had a major part in bringing that change about. For the first few weeks, they were treated with a kind of frightened reverence that irritated Kel and caused Neal to feel flattered. However, with the passing of time, that feeling faded as well, and they were soon treated like normal people once again.
The wall of white fire stayed around the border for exactly five days afterward, discouraging any whom might have otherwise thought to return.
Strangely, when Kel and Neal awoke in the Grotto, they discovered that the Six had vanished, leaving only empty sockets behind. The writing in the center of the wheel depicting the gods had vanished as well, leaving only three words: "Until next time." In private, the two knights decided that the gods had reclaimed such powerful objects until they were needed once more.
With that, I will leave you.
But first, I present you with a scene that took place in the Royal Gardens, perhaps three or four months after the events chronicled here.
Kel and Neal on the neatly trimmed grass of the Royal Gardens, very close to a budding apple tree. Through the flowery branches, the bluest sky was visible, with only wisps of clouds, and it was on this sky their attentions were focused. Byrn was on one of her minor excursions with the children of the Palace, so it was just the two of them.
They lay in such a way that their heads were next to each other, but their bodies went in opposite directions. Neal's right hand was placed over his head, so he just touched Kel's cheek. Kel's right arm was positioned in such a way that it lay over Neal's upper chest, just below his chin.
Remarkably, they were both comfortable.
A companionable silence surrounded them, but it was soon broken by Neal's voice. "So . . ." he murmured. "How long do you think it will be until they give us a real job again?"
Despite her inclination to remain silent, a happy chuckle bubbled up inside of Kel, and she broke out into laughter. She was practically the happiest she had ever been -- it was a somewhat unusual feeling, but as of right then, she really didn't have a care in the world. Her country was safe, she was in love, and everyone was leaving them alone. It was paradise.
"I hope it takes them a while. I have nothing I want to do than laze around all day. Oh, except for next week, when we go home," she answered, smiling.
Neal sat up. He scooted along the ground until he was sitting next to her still stretched-out form, and looked at her seriously.
"Kel," he began. "Concerning that . . . I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Go ahead," she told him, stretching on the ground.
Neal watched her move. "Uh . . ." he stuttered, forgetting his words.
Kel sat up. "Oh, come on. Out with it!"
To her amazement, Neal blushed, a red flush that spread up his tan cheeks.
"What is the matter with you?" she demanded, amused. "You're never this nervous! Spit it out!"
"When we go home, do you want to come to . . . er . . . my home?" Neal asked, looking down.
She touched his chin, made him look at her. "What?"
"Come home with me next week?" he asked desperately, looking her straight in the eyes.
She still didn't get it. "Neal, whatever you're trying to say, just say it!"
"Illooarrime?" Neal blurted, then blushed even redder.
"Come again?" Kel asked, blinking furiously. If he just said what I thought he did . . .
Neal took a deep breath. "Kel, will you marry me?"
There was another silence, but this time it lasted for only scant seconds before Kel threw herself at Neal, tackling him and kissing him soundly. "Of course I will, you idiot," she whispered against his lips. "Of course I will." She closed her eyes for more, and felt his arms rise around her.
A group of Court ladies, nearby in the garden, saw them kissing and tittered nervously, but neither one noticed. They were too wrapped up in each other.
The wedding took place a month or so later, and it was decidedly unconventional. Dom was Neal's best man, and Kel's "maid" of honor was none other than Sir Raoul. When asked about it, she only shrugged and said, "What else was I supposed to do? Name one female that I know better than him."
No one could.
For the wedding, Neal wore a dark blue tunic that shimmered in the light, and Kel could be seen in an elaborate Yamani kimono, stitched especially for her with images of phoenixes, since there was no way in any Realm she would wear a classic wedding gown.
The wedding was planned as a small one, but both parties just kept inviting more people, and more people . . . until it was decided it would be an open wedding, on the front lawn of the Palace.
Almost half the city attended. Kel and Neal were by now rising to national legend -- the courageous pair who defeated the agent of Chaos, and fell in love along the way.
When they kissed, the sound was deafening.
AAAAAHHHHHH! I'm REALLY done! Oh no!
I have a few thank yous that need to get done.
First, to stacey (cami of queenscove, doncha know): you are AWESOME. You gave me so many ideas and your hyperness made me want to write. It was great. Go hugh jackman! Can't wait for X-men 2! (not that I've seen X-men 1. Oh well.)
Secondly, rose (rosefyre, of course!): you are hilarious. Many conversations you helped me majorly. Especially with guy reactions. Teehee! Happy we!
Thirdly, min (the blind assassin.): your amazing writingness INSPIRED me. heehee. Seriously though, very muchly I thank you for spurring my brain for new ideas. Have you gotten started on our bet yet? *smiles sweetly* iiiiiiiiii already have a plot! Sort of.
Lastly, to all my bee-yoo-tee-ful reviewers. You stuck with me through thirty-eight chapters and were the motivation behind everything I wrote. Now I'm addicted to reviews.
Wow, I feel like I just won an oscar. Or something to that degree. Weird.
For anyone who cares (i.e. no one) I wrote an uncut version of chapter nineteen. BUT I DIDN'T WANT TO! Stacey made me. I SWEAR! SHE DID! Anyway, it's called *gasp* search for the six and it's rated R and it's just neal and kel . . . well, you know.
As I mentioned before, I am addicted to reviews, and if I don't get my fix I get cranky and go through withdrawal. Now, people, this is the last time you will EVER hear (see) me say (write) this: please, please, PLEASE review! I love it when you do! Even if it's an "I hate it" or an "I love it," PLEASE tell me what you think!
Thanks to everyone! Good night!
*over the loudspeakers: "kate has left the building."*