Queen's Board: Haha, I'm so bad at proper endings. Y'know, I first intended a bitter twist ending of sorts, until I realized that hadn't been the story I was writing up to that point. I've this nasty habit of doing horrible things to my characters for pointless shock value and the like, but I now know what a copout that is. Not to say this Epilogue is anything unique and special, but bloody hell, I just wanted a happy(ish) ending for a change. A simple ending for a simple story.
And I'm so fucking excited for Dark Souls 2! Like, AHHH! Can't wait. Bet we'll all see each other online at some point. I normally hate online games, but the Souls series is the only one I ever enjoyed. The good and the bad parts of it.
Bit off topic there, here's the end of the fic. I might rewrite it when I come up with something better, but for now I think it's appropriate. Thanks everybody for the continued support! Love~!
You Are Not Hollow
One would think that something as significant as the flow of time being reverted to normal would come with some kind of fanfare. But when it did happen, when the coalesced realities sent phantoms and figures back to their own timelines, the world uttered a resounded "Huh" and went right on with their lives.
On top of that, when news quickly spread that the Fires had been snuffed out along with the power that had come with it, again it was met with a collective shrug of indifference. The first noticeable change was that Humanity once again became of little use. The mindless Hollows that had fed on it didn't need to hunt for it anymore, and found ample supplies of the stuff simply discarded and even in some rare cases were gifted mounds of Humanity with the terms of leaving any communities nearby in peace. Those who had been afflicted with the Darksign no longer needed it to stay human, as their thirst for it had faded away along with the accursed brand.
Probably the most significant alteration that the world simply didn't notice or care for, was that the Old Gods were gone for good. Their clear absence even before the Lordran incident had left humans with a sour note; in that the petty gods with all their prophecies and pointless covenant requirements, were more of a nuisance than anything. Perhaps it was for the better that they returned to their own world. With the Fires gone they had no choice anyway, as the flames and its power had been the only thing able to maintain their presence in the human realm.
As a matter of fact, only one of them remained on Earth. Within the once-proud halls of Anor Londo sat Dark Sun Gwyndolin, specifically atop the lavish bed roll that had rested the illusion of his sister Gwynevere. The God sat humbly with his tentacles crossed and folded beneath him, his attire was ragged and burnt from battle with the view of his shattered mask at his side putting a stamp on his air of defeat. There was still a lot of activity in the Lost City, as the Silver Knights and other assorted giants and guardians had been freed from Gwyndolin's spells of servitude. His former servants hadn't been mindless drones, which they displayed by aiding their wounded brethren and giving sanctuary to the random creatures and monsters that limped through the gates.
The Darkmoons themselves had split, naturally. They all returned to their own worlds, freed of servitude for better or worse. It was a given, as the Darkwraiths had been either destroyed or sent back to their worlds also. Their conflict with one another was over, their fates were their own again.
Gwyndolin felt oddly at peace despite his dominion being at an end. In only a few short minutes he'd have to leave Earth for good and re-join his kind. But thinking about that scenario was strangely comforting. He hadn't realized how clouded with hate and jealousy he'd become over time, although it did explain his tendency to be an infuriating prick.
He was calm. For the first time since being left there as a last-ditch effort to reclaim their former glory on Earth, he was calm.
Gwyndolin even wished for his brother's well-being, even though he'd been the last cause of failing his task. Whether Solaire was alive wasn't something he was able to discern then, no doubt if Gwyndolin had been at his full power he could've teleported across the lands and levelled an entire city to get his revenge. But he hadn't the means nor the desire to do such a thing anymore. All he really wanted then was to go home. The only reason he hadn't left already was…
He turned towards that perpetually calm voice with a tired and tranquil grin. Arcadia was there, staring down at the broken God without pity or judgement. Gwyndolin sighed in resignation at her presence, wondering to himself how someone could be so loyal and committed to stand by his side even after he'd lost everything.
'Arcadia…' He muttered a little rudely, but found he hadn't the strength to mask the relief he felt. '…you've served me well, Darkmoon. You have my sincere gratitude, and so I give you your final order—go and live your life however you see fit.'
Arcadia studied him silently before slowly and deliberately removing her helmet, revealing stern hazel eyes, short black hair tied in two curled buns, and a bronzed tan complexion.
'Idiot.' She scoffed and threw her helmet aside, the motion startling Gwyndolin into a brief flare of anger and indignation, but mostly confusion. He was even more befuddled when she yanked him to his feet by his gown and bore her naked gaze into his stunned visage. 'Instead of hiding behind your veil of self-pity, tell me what you truly feel.'
The Dark Sun God was momentarily rattled that a human could make him feel so…mortal. But he had no time to second guess himself by that point and felt a frank grin crawl over his face.
'I'm relieved that I can go home. And-' He gently caressed Arcadia's cheek with his palm, causing an emotive stir in her placid expression. '-I want you to come with me.'
Arcadia couldn't stifle the relieved sigh that escaped her lips, and soon after acknowledged the invitation the best way she could.
'I would be honoured, Gwynie.'
The departure of the last god on earth went completely unnoticed as the residents of the Lost City continued to busy themselves repairing their new sanctuary. Had there been someone there to witness it they would've seen the figure of Dark Sun Gwyndolin fading into the sunlight as he embraced a human woman, signalling the end of the Age of the Gods.
A naked figure came to within a tiny dank cell so putrid that the walls seemed to bubble and froth with filth and slime. Immediately the prisoner knew where he was; it was after all, where his adventure had begun. Only that time things were much different. For starters his Darksign was gone, as was all the power he'd accumulated up to that point. He recalled how that Knight, Oscar, had helped free him only to meet his end soon after. He probably could've saved his life with some Estus, but had made the decision to snuff him out in order to take the Knight's armour.
That was just how he functioned. He didn't need to speak or reason with others. He took what he wanted, no matter what stood in his way. His ultimate desire to truly screw the world over not out of spite, but amusement, had hit a snag. It was time for him to focus on the smaller picture and that meant escaping that cell again.
He made the loudest ruckus he could with a series of repeated kicks and rams into the rusted cell door, which didn't so much as shift under his onslaught. Eventually a familiar figure appeared on the other side of his cell, a Black Knight. It watched unamused as the prisoner fiercely motioned to be let out of the cramped cell. It offered ten seconds of silent vigil before turning on its heels and leaving him there, garnering a loud yell of anger and frustration from the prisoner that rang out through the dilapidated walls of the Asylum.
The Black Knight continued to move through the halls and passages, gradually being joined by a great number of his kind as they converged en masse towards the courtyard. Once they'd all gathered there, with none of them sparing a second glance at the Drake that had joined them at some point, Black Iron Tarkus appeared on the balcony high above them. Though he was human as far as anyone could guess, the Black Knights could sense something in him that they'd been searching for ever since their Lord had journeyed to link the fires and left them to wander the lands in disarray.
Tarkus hefted his massive sword high as the Knights mirrored the motion with unabated zeal. The Drake howled triumphantly and spat a geyser of flame into the air.
It wasn't entirely clear to anyone there what was to become of them, or what they were going to do, but that didn't truly matter to them. They needed purpose, and they'd found it.
Quelaag had found the perfect sanctuary for herself and her sister; an entire landscape contained within a magical portrait. Only one easily defendable entrance, plenty of structures, and a wide surplus of enthusiastic Hollows and monsters that were more than happy to serve her. There was some kind of memory-altering spell in effect around the area, but it'd been specifically tailored to the Crossbreed Priscilla, and as such had no effect on the Chaos Demons.
Her beloved sister, having teetered on the edge of death for so long, had actually regained the ability to move on her own albeit at a slow and timid pace. The thirty pieces of Humanity that Gwyndolin had coughed up for Quelaag's services had done wonders for her overall health. On top of that, the Wheel Skeletons she'd dispatched to hunt down more Humanity literally rolled back in with so much that they had to form together as a wagon to carry it all.
And thanks to the size of the painting itself, her younger brother had found his place within that world as he ambled about the wide-open snowy ranges with glee. If it came to it Discharge had orders to flatten anything crossing the bridge at the entrance that was deemed a threat.
The Painted World of Ariamis bustled with noise and activity, with the abundance of Humanity to go around giving the assorted creatures little reason to eat each other like normal. Quelaag skittered about, busy as always but without any of the crushing pressure of keeping her sister alive. She surveyed her new domain with a pleased and self-satisfied smirk, but did glance upward for a moment from the tip of the spiral staircase tower with a distant air of relief.
She mumbled something in her silent tongue, followed by a touchy snort before hurrying back to work.
The small, grubby land of Kerns was a bit of a running gag. The starting history can be traced back to the petty and immature plight of a half-crazed lord who believed it'd be a good idea to build a castle on top of a swamp. Even after the structure sank three times into the murky depths and took the lord down with it on the fourth occasion, the local populace that had sprung about through sheer luck remained as a constant reminder of the Legend of Kerns; the Kingdom that Never Was. Parts of the ill-fated castle still poked out of the glut of swamp, which was the closest thing to a tourist attraction that Kerns possessed.
Despite the clear flaws with the place, Kerns was still commuted through on a regular basis, as the lands proved to be a valuable shortcut to passer-by's on their way to Vinheim or its closest neighbour Astora. Those that did manage to brave the marshes, swamps and the incredibly stupid locals, would be greeted by respectable forests and communes within the heart of Kerns.
It was within those liveable portions that many a traveller happened upon an Inn that had seemingly appeared over the weekend. The place was sturdy and clearly well-funded which itself was a mystery as Kerns was poorer than Balder, even though the latter Kingdom was destroyed.
Rather than question where it came from, the travellers were more than eager to rest within the cosy confines of the place after slogging through the fringes. And to their increased delight and surprise, found the Inn to be exquisitely furnished and housing all the modern conveniences that they needed, including a 24/7 blacksmith that hailed from Astora.
The owners of the Inn, to put it lightly, were a bunch of oddballs. First there was the small maiden, Stacy, a freak of strength that clearly belied her size. Her incredibly rough and awful language put the more brash warriors at ease as did her ability to down alcohol at a ludicrous pace. Her complete mirror was a spectral mystery; a woman far too tall to be human and only truly known through hushed whispers and rumours. Many of the visitors could've sworn they'd interacted with the enigmatic giant woman, but something about her aura made their memories of her distant and hazy, much like a pleasant dream days past. This reputation made her presence somewhat famous, as many of the travellers would lodge at the Inn just for the chance to catch a glimpse of the White Maiden. Some even claimed that she'd sing on occasion; a wondrous and bewitching collection of melodies that stayed with them all through their travels, buzzing inside their heads long after their memories of her faded away like it did with everyone else.
Then there the two men who seemed to be in charge of most of the Inns' faculties. Both of them had the appearance of someone completely forgettable, yet their attitudes played off one another very well. One was chipper and positive, a bit too boastful at times, and seemingly lacking an inner monologue as he spoke his mind for better or worse. The other was the somewhat grouchy and self-critical, but had the air of someone willing to overcome their own limitations for the sake of others.
Many of the travellers found fine amusement at watching the owners bicker back and forth with petty arguments and generally fill the place with a lively atmosphere that was as earnest as it was genuine.
And as for the name of the place itself: The Sunlight Inn. Sounded trite and pretentious to some, as well as from an unimaginative mind if they had to guess. But it fit just fine.
It'd taken the better part of a month for Bob to work up the courage to officially ask Priscilla out. It'd taken countless hours of self-reflection and critical analysis for Bob to come to the conclusion of "What the hell" and just go for it. When he had finally approached her, he hadn't even made it through half of his prepared speech before she yanked him off his feet and smothered him with an amorous kiss. In that moment, his being utterly overwhelmed with her enthralling fragrance and sweet honeyed savour, Bob felt happier then he'd ever been in his life.
Stacy had been the one to push him into finally confronting the Crossbreed with his confession. She'd been successful in her own right, after finally connecting with Solaire on a more emotional level. She'd pulled it off by softening her bitchy persona and anchoring herself into a more stable mindset around the Warrior of Sunlight. The man had picked up on it quickly when he noticed Stacy's juvenile schoolyard crush had gradually morphed into something more acute and intimate. Not to say it had been smooth sailing all the way as Stacy had had several occasions of venting her previous frustrations on Bob during friendly sparring.
They were changing. It was a messy and unsure transition, much like the famous sunken castle in Kerns that had gradually decided to be puked out piece by piece from the marsh that swallowed it. But it was definitely for the better.
Bob thought of all these things as he gazed nonchalantly over the landscape stretching out from beneath the third-floor balcony of his quarters. It wasn't a breathtaking sight by any means; just some thick forests, a cloudy sunset, and a small lake that shimmered blue but wasn't clean enough to swim in. At times like then, he tried to picture that moment in his life like part of a story. At any moment his collection of comrades would appear behind him on cue and look out over the landscape with him, strike a trademark pose and say something meaningful.
That crap didn't happen in real life. Things just didn't wrap themselves up all corny and cosy. Who knew when someone else like him got wrapped up in another crazy prophecy that involved traversing incredibly dangerous areas and fighting horrific monsters?
He scoffed to himself as he mumbled a few words of luck and fortune for the hapless folks who would have to go through what he did. How long until that adventure started for them? Two months, he guessed without pondering.
That voice. Stinging and rude, but always with an undercurrent of absolute trust and respect. His friend. His partner. His Stace. She'd barged into his room like she always did. Granted he would do the same thing when she had the nerve to sleep in past noon. There was nothing they had to hide from one another.
'Time to get back to work. Quit spacing out and help me get the staff in line, will you?'
'Yeah, let's go.' He replied curtly as he turned away from the scenic landscape. Stacy eyed him strangely for a bit, as if trying to solve a great puzzle pasted on his face.
'Wow, I'll never get used to that new smile of yours. You look like you want to eat me you creepy bastard.'
'I love you, Stace.'
'Shut up. I know that.'