W.I.T.C.H. doesn't belong to me. I'm just doing this for fun.
Many thanks to Aesop for his help in editing and consulting with ideas!
Set shortly after the end of Season 2.
Kandrakar; One Minute Earlier:
"Game over," Hexin said simply, and ripped his armour shirt off, revealing the open hole in his chest. He ripped the cord and little metal that was attached to the precious jewel, and placed it inside him.
The Heart of Kandrakar glowed brightly for one second, and then seemed to grow and overflow, filling the inside of his chest like water to a cup. The light then faded away instantly, and the once gaping hole inside Hexin's chest was no more.
Hexin dropped to the floor for a moment, like he was in agony. The truth was, after spending so many centuries without having a beating heart inside of him, it was a little disconcerting having it come back to him all at once.
He knelt, breathing heavily on the floor for a few seconds, and then…
The sound of flashing lightning and booming thunder echoed all around the fortress, and Hexin's whole body began to glow.
"That's better!" his voice spoke, gaining in volume and sounding like it were speaking from all directions at once.
The Oracle looked in horror at him. "Council!" he called to the rest of them. "We need to create a veil, now!"
The four members of the Kandrakar council, including the Oracle and Halinor, all summoned their mystic energy, preparing to create a veil to contain the intruder, like Nerissa had once done with them. But they didn't even come close to fully calling upon their powers, when Hexin shot them a mere look, and a psychic wave of some sort crashed into them, sending them bouncing across the floor.
"Mind your manners!" he said simply, and then looked ahead. "Kandrakar, awaken! Your rightful ruler has returned from his aeons long absence!"
The entire endless sky exploded into one giant storm, as the once peaceful and clear skies turned dark and stormy.
Will moaned, as she slowly came to.
"Will!" Halinor's frantic voice called into her mind. "You must rouse yourself! Kandrakar is in danger!"
She mentally shook her herself, and blinked her eyes to focus on the floating energy-factory above her.
"After all these centuries, at long last!" Hexin laughed gleefully. "My heart returned! My powers returned! And Kandrakar, now and forever, mine!"
"No way Jose!" she yelled, and shot her own energy-bolt, forgetting for a moment that her power was useless against him.
He laughed at her. "Not a fast learner, are you?" he said, smirking. "Aurameres, to me!"
A few seconds later, the Aurameres flew right past them, their mystic power glowing brighter than ever, as they hovered up, floating in a circle around him.
"I am Xin Hei-an, once and future ruler of Kandrakar! Thus all magic in my world rightfully belongs to me!"
"No!" Will barely made out the horrified cry of Luba, the Aurameres' keeper.
Before any of them could say anything more, Hexin raised his hand towards them, and what felt like several thousand volts of electricity were run through them. They screamed, as the energy coursed through their bodies, and they were lifted effortlessly into the air. The only one unaffected was Lillian, as she still lay unconscious on the floor.
Not long after, a Fold opened, indicating the rest of the Guardians and the others arrival.
"Ah, perfect timing!" Hexin said, seemingly with approval.
Nerissa was the first one to come through the Fold, only to stop, staring in horror at the newly resurrected Kandrakar emperor.
"How good of you to show up!" Xin Hei-an said cruelly.
"Xin Hei-an," Nerissa whispered hopelessly. With his full power now restored, any aliases he may have once gone by were no longer necessary, so there was no point in calling him Hexin anymore.
"I was waiting for you," he added, and then with a sudden wave of his hand, the colours seemed to be drawn straight into him, ending with a clashing sound, louder than a hundred Cymbals.
"Now the fun can really begin!" Hexin laughed, raising his arms above him, sending another wave of lightning and thunder, flashing and echoing across the realm. And through it all, Nerissa noticed that his chest, which had once boasted an empty hole where his heart should have been, was now whole, without even a scar.
"Let the reign of Emperor Xin Hei-an begin!"
"Distract him!" Caleb cried out, running ahead with his sword drawn. He barely made it a few steps before Xin Hei-an raised his hand, and sent him soaring backwards, Caleb in one direction and his sword in another, through the air and slamming into the wall.
"Caleb!" Cornelia yelled, and glared at the dark emperor. "You sooo didn't want to do that!" She raised her own hands, calling on her telekinesis to fight back.
Xin Hei-an chuckled. "You really think your puny magics are now any match for me and mine?" he said casually, and flicked his finger at her.
Cornelia yelped, as she followed in Caleb's wake, slamming into the wall with a resounding crack.
"Hit him with everything you got!" Taranee cried out, flying forward with her hands sheathed in fire. Irma and Hay Lyn followed her, and soon a combination of waves, hurricanes and fireballs were hurtling towards Kandrakar's Dark Heart. Lillian's Regents were quick to follow, as sent wave after wave of energy-shots at him, with Shagon flying overhead, ready to attack with his bare fists if need be.
Xin Hei-an easily deflected all of their blows, almost laughing at their expense. "What point is there in this?" he asked almost seriously. "Do you really think you can defeat me now with my full power restored?"
"We'd die trying!" Taranee called out.
"And you will." His eyes narrowed at her. "But for now, I think…" He waved his hand once more at them, and it was as though the whole fortress came alive at his will.
The rock that the fortress was constructed from seemed to come to life, as it rose up like a snake, wrapping itself around each of them and pulling them down until they sank into the floor, like quicksand, leaving only their heads above the surface.
"Hey! None of us or Elyon ever made buildings come to life!" Irma shouted.
"Buildings are made of rock and stone, remember? And where do they come from, but the earth!" Xin Hei-an blasted the Regents with an energy-shot from his eyes, and they fell down to the ground out cold. "And now, to take all that is mine."
He brought both of his hands to his chest, and waved them towards himself, like he was telling someone to come to him. A second later, the Aurameres shot forward, hitting him square in the chest and making his body emit a surge of bright light.
"The Four Dragons may be gone, but their power still exists. And any magic that was born in Kandrakar, belongs to Kandrakar and its ruler!"
The Guardians yelled, as they felt their powers vanish in one split second, and their Guardian clothes, although they couldn't see them, disappeared, leaving them in their normal clothes. The only one who remained unaffected in all this was Nerissa, as her powers were fuelled by another source, and thus were no longer part of Kandrakar.
She still stood where she had been the moment she had returned to Kandrakar, staring up at Xin Hei-an; her eyes seemingly lost and devoid of all hope.
"Nothing to say, traitor?" he asked her mockingly. "I warned you what would happen all those years ago. This was always meant to be, and I would have given you all that I promised and more! You only had to remain loyal. And now, look at you!"
Nerissa closed her eyes for a moment, and then opened them again. "We all made our choices, Hexin," she said, calling him by his former alias. "Maybe I would have chosen differently if I knew then what I know now, but…what's done is done." Her face then took on a dark grimace, as she glared fiercely at him. "And even if I have to die here and now, I swear I'll at least try and take you with me!"
Xin Hei-an managed a blink of surprise, as she used her own energy powers, creating a blast of pure light, blinding him temporarily. He shielded his eyes for a moment, blinking them furiously, regaining his sight just in time to see Nerissa racing forward with Caleb's sword in her hand.
He snapped to the side in a split second, dodging her strike. "You never give up, I got to hand it to you." He smirked. "I could kill you right now with barely a gesture, but… Well, consider this my farewell gift to you." He clapped his hands together, and a sparkle of electricity emitted, merging together to form a single large sword, made entirely of energy. "Our last duel together!"
He swung his sword at her, the impact when she parried sending sparks of energy flying everywhere. Nerissa wasn't trained in martial arts, and the only fencing she knew she had learned watching soldiers on Meridian. Her only advantage was that she was accustomed to fighting in the air, while Xin Hei-an had only just regained his powers, so if he ever had fought in the air then he hadn't done so in many centuries.
She whizzed past him, swinging her sword at his head, only for him to deflect it, flipping over and kicking her with his feet as he did. She flew back a few feet, but recovered just in time, as he made another dash at her. She blocked his blow with her sword, and tried blinding him again, but this time he was prepared, shocking her with a blast of his own electricity before she could make the attempt.
Wincing, she cradled her hand, where he had zapped her, and then did a back flip, soaring through the air, as he chased after her. They left trails of energy across the sky.
Nerissa made her way back into the fortress, looking for something/anything that she could use to help her, but there was little left. Xin Hei-an had taken the Aurameres, so he had their power added to his own, leaving the Guardians powerless. The Regents and the council were restrained, and Caleb was knocked out.
"If I could just…" she started to say.
She screamed, as Xin Hei-an's magic struck her shoulder. That left one of her arms useless, and Xin Hei-an soon bearing down on her, his face showing nothing but smug victory.
How she wanted to drive her sword down his throat or slice his head off!
Her injured arm and the sword made it difficult for her to stay in the air, so she was left with little choice but to take the battle back to the ground. She landed painfully, gripping the sword, wanting desperately to cradle her injured shoulder, but unable to.
Xin Hei-an laughed, as he came at her. His sword clashed with hers, and it was only through her sheer force of will that she was able to hold onto it, but even that was not enough for her to hold on indefinitely.
He struck her sword hard a couple of more times, and then…
Time seemed to slow down, as Nerissa stood frozen where she was, her son's sword still in her hand…and Xin Hei-an's blade embedded in her abdomen.
"Our last duel," he said smugly, looking deep into her eyes. "How sweet."
With that, he dissipated the energy-sword, and watched her as she fell soundlessly to the floor, her breath coming in shallow gasps.
Nerissa couldn't see him, but knew that the one screaming had to be Caleb. He must have recovered consciousness just in time to see her defeat. How embarrassing, she thought.
It was the first time she had ever heard him call her mom without any kind of bitterness or shame in his voice, she realised. She wished she could see him, but she lacked the strength to even turn her head.
She recalled reading somewhere that getting stabbed through the stomach is the most painful…and it was true.
'I'm sorry…' she thought, not being able to even whisper. 'I wanted so desperately to stop him. I wish I could have…I'm sorry, Caleb. I'm sorry, Lillian, my precious flower…I'm sorry…I'm…'
She kept apologising to her son and daughter in her mind, not even noticing what Xin Hei-an was doing anymore.
Xin Hei-an stepped idly around Nerissa's dying form. "A noble opponent to the end," he remarked, and looked over to where Caleb was struggling to get to his feet. His impact with the wall must have left him with some broken bones, as his one arm dangled uselessly to the side.
"You should feel pride at your mother's defeat," he remarked. "A worthy foe she was, and to be defeated by none other than the ruler of Kandrakar himself."
Caleb glared at him viciously, and tried to walk over to his sword that now lay on the floor near his dying mother, the pain from his broken bones making it increasingly hard to do so.
"A noble effort," Xin Hei-an remarked, followed by another flash of lightning that struck Caleb, sending him hurtling back into the wall. "But ultimately futile."
During the duel, while his attention had been wavered, the rest of the Guardians had all rose from the floor, thanks to the Oracle who had used his magic to free them. Unfortunately, they were all still powerless, and were trying to think up some way to attack, but Xin Hei-an didn't give them the chance. He raised his hand, and the girls instantly felt themselves get pushed to the floor again by some unseen force, unable to move.
"The war is over!" he announced. "My Heart is reclaimed, my power restored! And now, Kandrakar is mine, now and forever!"
All around them, the endless sky of Infinity started to roar, as the once summer-blue sky and peaceful clouds turned dark. A storm arose, lightning crashing everywhere, and thunder nearly deafening everyone.
"You'll be stopped…" Will said, almost desperately, as though her heart were not in it. "Other worlds were…"
Xin Hei-an laughed. "Do you even now not yet understand the full implications of what has transpired this day, young former Guardian?! The Heart of Kandrakar is not just the magical source of a single world, like your friend Elyon or the young Miss Lillian over there. It is…" He paused for a moment, as though contemplating his next words. "Think of it as more like…the source for the whole universe!"
The storm grew stronger, and Xin Hei-an's body seemed to grow in size and brightness, as the light around him intensified.
"Once, Kandrakar was a world like any other, but now with its destruction…this seemingly insignificant vacuum of endless space, is now a direct link to all the other worlds in creation! Their powers linked to my own! All MINE!"
Xin Hei-an pulsed and sparkled, the energy pouring out of him like a waterfall of lightning.
"When my sister merged her own life force with my Heart, she unknowingly but willingly offered me her own power! So now I control both sides of Quintessence, the light and the dark! Life and death are mine to command wherever they exist, and they exist EVERYWHERE!"
He rose into the air, his power growing with every passing second, as the girls and Council all stared in horror.
"Will, what can we do?!" Hay Lyn wailed.
But for the first time in her life since becoming a Guardian, Will had nothing to offer.
Nerissa felt her own life seeping away, as she lay on the floor, bleeding to death. She kept her eyes centred on Xin Hei-an, at the brilliant display of lightning that shone all around him. It was almost comforting in a way. She could no longer hear anything else in the fortress, as though someone had hit the mute button on the TV.
'Goodbye, my children,' she whispered at the back of her mind. 'I'm sorry I…'
"If you wish to give up, that is your choice," a voice that was definitely not her own suddenly spoke up.
She looked up, forcing her head up to see a woman standing before her. All around her, she could see Xin Hei-an as the lightning and thunder grew around him, shaking the fortress to the core. Yet, to her, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. The woman seemed to be the only thing moving at normal speed.
She was a young Asian woman, rather small, about 5ft, dressed in a pink silk dress, short dark hair and sorrowful eyes. She didn't walk toward her, but stayed where she was, just staring at Nerissa with those sad eyes of hers. There also seemed to be an air of tranquillity about her, but Nerissa couldn't put her finger on what it was.
"Who are you?" she asked.
The woman looked at her for a moment before answering. "Xin Jing," she replied.
Nerissa frowned. "That's impossible."
"Why do you doubt me?"
"Xin Jing has been…" She was about to say dead, but as she thought about it, who was she, or anyone else for that matter, to say that the mythical princess was deceased, when her brother still lived? Especially when she was meant to be the essence of life itself.
"You know the answer to that already," Xin Jing added, as though reading her thoughts.
"Why have you come?"
"My brother seeks to tip the scales and corrupt the balance of nature. If allowed, he will reap untold destruction upon countless worlds. Those who survive will endure endless misery and despair."
"So why didn't you stop him before?!" she snapped, referring to the legend of the sibling's last confrontation.
"I can no more kill my brother than he can kill me. He is the essence of death and destruction, while I am that of life and creation. We are Yin and Yang, two exact opposite forces, but are really two halves of one whole. Without the other, neither can exist."
"Then what good are you if you can't defeat him?!"
"I didn't say I had come to defeat him," she said patiently. "I have come to correct the balance."
"Isn't that the same thing?"
"Not in the way you are thinking. Destroying my brother would have the same effect as what he is doing now. It would destroy the balance."
"Then what are you here for?!"
"As I said…to correct the balance. But to do that, I need your assistance."
"What can I do?"
"Aeons ago, I shed my mortal body and ascended to a higher plane of existence. To face my brother now, I require a vessel to house me."
"You want to possess me?"
"Not exactly. More like share."
"And if I refuse?"
"It is your decision to make, but be warned…without you to carry me, I cannot face my brother, and he will be free to reap his darkness on the universe."
Nerissa frowned. "Why me? Why not the other girl, Will?"
"Her link to the Heart has been severed, and with it all of her Guardian magic has been stripped, and I can only share the vessel of one who has powers similar to mine. Since your Guardian powers come not from the Heart, they are unaffected, hence you are the only available source."
"But I am injured…"
"My power will heal you, but know this…if you chose to bond with me, the joining maybe hard to break. We could be joined forever, and when I leave, you might have to come with me."
"Go with you where?"
"To a place beyond your understanding. I would offer you more time, but that is, alas, the one thing we do not have. I need your decision, Nerissa, former Guardian and vessel of my power. Will you bond with me?"
Nerissa wanted to refuse. How could anyone ask someone to hand over their body to someone else? But, as she watched, she saw Xin Hei-an as he blasted his lightning at Caleb who valiantly tried to rise to his feet again, narrowly missing Lillian, while everyone struggled futilely against their bonds.
Nerissa closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
Xin Hei-an tossed Caleb aside, chuckling as the young rebel hit the wall with a resounding crack, this time leaving a pattern of blood behind. Everyone else was incapacitated, either broken or trapped.
"And the reign of the supposedly all-powerful Council of Kandrakar comes to an end!" Xin Hei-an declared. "You've all led me a merry chase, my friends, but all good things end. Kandrakar is rightfully mine, and soon the rest of the universe shall follow, bowing in my presence."
"You won't win…" Will tried to say, but her spirit, as well as her strength, felt deflated. Xin Hei-an had defeated all of them, reclaimed the Heart and restored his full power, and made himself supreme ruler of the fortress. What else could they do?
"I already have, my dear."
He floated down to them, passing by each, uncaring. "I would offer mercy, but alas that is not in my nature. Rest assured, I will see to your families personally once I return to Earth."
The girls all struggled futilely, their eyes blazing with fury, but he merely chuckled at their expense and raised his right hand at them. "Farewell, worthy but annoying opponents."
Everyone clenched their teeth, as they waited for the final blast that would end their lives. As they waited, thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, sorrow and regret passed through each of them.
'Mr. Collins… Please, look after mom for me.'
'Guess we'll never see which one of you will take me to the Prom, eh, Martin and Andrew.'
'Farewell, Nigel. As far as boyfriends go, you were the best.'
'Goodbye, Lillian. I love you.'
'Grandma, I'm so sorry I let you down…again.'
They closed their eyes, as the sound of electricity began to crackle again, and Xin Hei-an pointed his hand at them… Because of this, they missed what happened next.
When they next opened their eyes, they saw Xin Hei-an lying 10 feet away, a small puff of dark smoke rising from his chest. He gave a short groan, as he sat up and looked over to see…
"Nerissa?" Caleb moaned, looking startled at seeing his mother rising from the floor.
The others all turned to look at her, and were as equally as startled. Whatever injuries she had sustained seemed to have magically disappeared, but that wasn't what surprised them so. As she hovered where she was over the floor, there was an expression on her face that seemed so UN-Nerissa like. They couldn't explain it, but there was a dramatic change in the Council's former Guardian and enemy.
Nerissa had always housed a range of somewhat dark emotions and expressions, from arrogance and greed, to hatred and rage. But the woman before her had none of those qualities, and seemed almost…peaceful and content. She stared at Xin Hei-an not with anger or the lust for destruction, but with a type of sadness and absolution.
Xin Hei-an seemed to notice, too, as he gazed keenly at her, his eyes like a cobra.
"Cute trick," he commented, as he looked at the spot where he had driven his Quintessence forged sword into her, but seeing no sign of it. Even the clothes she wore had been mended.
"It must end, Xin Hei-an," Nerissa moved her mouth, but it was not just her voice that spoke. It echoed in tune with another voice that spoke with her.
It was that voice, everyone assumed, which caused Xin Hei-an to pale somewhat.
"Impossible!" he said.
"When dealing with magic," the Nerissa entity continued, "you should know that nothing is impossible."
He stared at her with shock, horror, anger, hate and a range of many other emotions, until finally he spoke. "Xin Jing!"
Everyone all stared in astonishment, most of all the Council.
"You are the embodiment of death, yet you have lived all through these ages. I am the embodiment of life. Did you not think I could survive these long aeons, too?"
"Maybe, yet I am still with my original body, while you appear to be lacking."
"After our home-world was destroyed, I fled to the one now called Meridian. With our home gone, our people dead, and you my own brother turned to darkness; I fell into despair and grief. I still possessed your heart, which I had cut out on the battlefield that claimed the life of our father."
"Yes…thank you for reminding me of that. I should thank you for that personally."
She continued to stare at him with a still expression. "I did what I had to, what I had no choice but to do."
"With nothing left, I merged my own life force with that of your own heart, thereby becoming one with it. When the merging was complete, the woman I was ceased to exist, as did your heart of flesh, and in their place the Heart of Kandrakar was born."
"And this was on Meridian, I'm guessing."
She nodded. "For centuries, the Heart remained hidden in the dirt until it was discovered by some of Meridian's inhabitants. They used its power to build what is now called The Ancient Empire, from which the present Meridian is descended. The last Mage of Meridian then used the Heart to build this fortress you now stand within, and founded the Council of the New Kandrakar, restoring some of the lost glory that was our home."
"A glorified dollhouse!" he scoffed, snorting in disgust. "The real Kandrakar was a house of true power! Its might knew no equal, and still doesn't! And through me, it shall be reborn!"
"That can never be, brother. Kandrakar's time has long since passed…as has yours."
He threw his head back and laughed. "Do you intend to kill me again, sister? As you did all those centuries ago!"
She shook her head. "We are both the life force of Quintessence. We cannot die. Our mortal bodies can be shed and destroyed, but our chi, our life force, will continue to live on for all eternity."
"So what is the purpose of all this then?" he said, pointing at her and indicating everything around them. "When you know you can't kill me."
"I never said I came to kill you, only to stop you. And that is something I can and must do, brother, no matter how much it pains me to."
He smirked darkly at her. "Well then. In that case…" He struck out his hands, and…nothing…
…or at least nothing to begin with.
"Quintessence!" he roared, and from beneath Nerissa/Xin Jing, the floor started to shift, as the rock from the stone fortress came alive, taking on the shape and form of huge golem-like creatures.
"You should have been more careful with what you told me, sister," he said, chuckling. "You merged yourself with my Heart, which means I now have access to your power! Everything you had is now mine!"
All around them, the fortress shook and rumbled, as every stone, fabric and energy came alive, taking on a life of its own, each dedicated to serving Kandrakar's dark emperor.
"Now, death 'and' life are mine to command and control! I am God to the entire universe!" Xin Hei-an declared, sounding drunk with his new found power, as energy streamed from every part of him.
The golems held onto Nerissa/Xin Jing, but she made no attempt to fight them, or even any attempt to break free. She just stood where she was, staring at her brother as he rained chaos everywhere.
"Okay, anybody got a plan C?!" Irma cried out.
Nerissa/Xin Jing then stepped forward. As the golems tried to hold her, they found themselves restrained, as more golems appeared behind them, grabbing onto them.
Xin Hei-an paused to look at his sister.
"The magic I possess comes not from your heart, brother," she explained. "Nerissa gained her own magic of Quintessence from another source, which still allows me use of my powers. That is why I chose her as my vessel."
He shrugged. "Clever," he admitted, but then added, "but ultimately futile."
He sent a wave of energy bolts at her, but still she did not move. Her golems simply came to her aid, leaping in front of her, absorbing the brunt of the blasts. Most of them sustained little damage, except for one that exploded upon impact.
"You can't keep this up forever, sister!"
"Only for as long as destiny wills it. End this now, brother. You cannot win, no matter how hard you try."
He snarled viciously at her. "I have the power! Quintessence is mine to control, Kandrakar and its forces to command, the Four Dragon's powers, yours… What hope do you have against all that?!"
"My faith," she replied simply.
He sneered. "Did 'faith' help you all those centuries ago, when last we stood on our world?!"
"I am here, am I not? I live, I breathe, and I still have power."
More of the golems came at her, but just as they neared, Xin Hei-an raised his hand, stalling them.
"Yes, you do," he admitted, eyeing her dangerously. "But, fortunately, that is something that can be remedied!"
In the blink of an eye, he soared over to her, faster than a bird on the wind, and grabbed her by her shoulders.
"Your powers are mine!" As he spoke, energy began crackling around the two of them. "With Nerissa's own elemental abilities, and your essence, my sister, added to mine own, my power will be even more splendid!"
Nerissa/Xin Jing made no move against him, and just stood in his grasp, her face expressionless. Xin Hei-an made no sign of noticing, as the energy around his sister started to change, taking on a pale pink glow, before they began to flow right into him.
"Yes…" he moaned, seemingly in pleasure. "Finally, the two are one!"
"Yes," she replied. "They are."
Before he could think to wonder why she seemed so calm, he felt a surge in him, and the pink light that had been radiating from his sister suddenly wrapped itself around him, dampening his own powers.
"Wha…what are you doing?!"
"It's as you said, brother. Imerged myself with your Heart. Everything I had is now yours…but the reverse is true as well. Everything you have is now mine." She looked at him almost in pity. "You never understood, Xin Hei-an, even as a child. We are not two separate owners of Quintessence, we are literally two halves of one whole. We are meant to be one, not separate."
Xin Hei-an started to struggle furiously against her, twisting and turning in an effort to free himself, but the energy from her own life essence had him bound in a steel grip, unyielding.
"We are joined, as it was always meant to be. Now and for all eternity."
"NEVER!" he roared, and waves of his own energy started shooting out from all around him, striking everything in sight.
The electrical bonds that had been holding everyone else suddenly fizzed out of existence, and everyone was free once more.
"Caleb!" Cornelia cried out, running to her boyfriend who hastened to get up.
"Mom?" he said, looking in amazement and shock at his mother. She spared him a glance, and for one moment she seemed to lose her look of inner peace, and looked at him with something akin to regret…and love.
"RELEASE ME!" Xin Hei-an roared, but Nerissa/Xin Jing made no response, she only held onto him, unyielding. Her energy seemed to be merging with his, and within moments his dark energy and hers sparkled in a single blinding and flashing light."What are you…" he started.
"…doing to…" she added.
"…ME?" they both finished.
Everyone stared, and then blinked, as Xin Hei-an and Nerissa's forms melded into one, the light blinding them. As they all shut their eyes, they heard the two immortal's voices speaking as one.
"WE FINALLY COMPREHEND! OUR THOUGHTS ARE ONE! OUR LIFE AND SOUL AS SUCH! WHAT WAS BORN AS ONE IS NOW FOREVER BOUND IN CRYSTAL FORM! WE ARE JOINED, NOW AND ETERNAL!"
There was another flash, and the light finally started to dim. Eventually, everyone was able to open their eyes once more, and when they looked they saw nothing of Xin Hei-an, Nerissa or whatever she had been joined with.
The force binding each of them suddenly dissipated, and they all slid to the floor, dazed but unharmed.
"Umm, okay," Irma said, looking around. "What just happened?"
The Oracle stared at where the entity, for he wasn't sure what else to call it, had been just moments ago. "I think…" he said breathlessly. "I think Nerissa's body was just taken over by the nymph Xin Jing. She must have bonded with her body and spirit. Amazing!"
He looked at all their astounded expressions. "For the spirit of one to bond with another, is a rarity among rarities. Even I, in my long lifespan, have hardly heard of such a thing occurring. And to have Xin Jing, the very source of Quintessence itself…this is unbelievable."
"Where's Nerissa?!" Caleb suddenly asked, looking around. "Where did they all go?"
The Oracle's face then took on a long frown. After a long moment, all he said was, "I don't know."
Will opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, a small chime sounded not too far away from where Nerissa had been standing.
The crowd looked over, and saw the Heart of Kandrakar, restored and returned to them.
3 Months Later:
Before long, three months had passed. No sign of Nerissa was ever found, but neither, thankfully, was there any of Hexin. The Council had recovered and rebuilt Kandrakar, restoring the Aurameres and returning their power to the Guardians and the Heart.
The Oracle had explained to everyone, as best as he could, about what had happened. Though, for once, it was a subject that he knew next to nothing about.
Hexin had represented a threat so great to the entire universe, beyond anything that even Nerissa or Phobos ever represented, that his own sister had somehow been called back to do battle with him, something that would normally be impossible.
Before her return, Xin Jing had long since left the ordinary world of mortals, changing herself into the Heart, while her spirit, for lack of a better word, had ascended to a higher plane of reality. Some might call it Heaven, but who could really say? Normally, when something like that happened, return was impossible, but Xin Jing had had, what some would call, an anchor, something that kept her linked to the ordinary world.
This link was, of course, her brother Hexin, for they were far more than just mere brother and sister. They were more like two halves of one whole. He was the darkness, and she the light, like Yin and Yang. Neither was complete without the other. As long as he remained in the mortal world, she had a way back, which was how she had been able to return.
The girls had asked why she hadn't returned before, but the Oracle had no answer to that. Maybe she could only come when Hexin posed too great a threat, but they would never know for certain now.
However, even with her link through Hexin, Xin Jing could not just come back at the drop of a hat. Her original body had long since turned to dust, so she had needed a vessel. And not just any vessel, but one that possessed a power similar to hers, for no other could take her. Will and Nerissa were the only two candidates.
Why she had chosen Nerissa was anyone's guess. Perhaps it was because Nerissa had been so mortally wounded, allowing Xin Jing to make contact with her, or maybe she simply wanted to help her. It was a question that none of them would ever answer.
Julian and Caleb once again had to come to terms with Nerissa's passing, as well as the truth about who and what she truly was…for the second time.
Napoleon had been freed, and after a long week of listening to his moans and complaints, he had slowly returned to good health.
Elyon had made a full recovery, as the Council had guaranteed. Whatever Hexin had pumped her full of had run its course, and over time her powers had steadily returned.
As for Lillian, Cornelia had returned her home…or rather Will had. She had used her power to pose as a concerned citizen, who had found Lillian unconscious in the park, and called the police. She had woken up shortly after, with no memory of her abduction by Hexin, or her near miss of death at his hands. Cornelia and Caleb never let her out of their sights, and neither did her parents.
Mr and Mrs Hale were, needless to say, very rattled by what had happened with Hexin's forces. They rarely let Cornelia and Lillian out for weeks, but now they seemed to be finally calming down. They would be a lot calmer if the men who had raided their home were caught, of course, but unfortunately that was not possible. Hexin's people had all done a disappearing act, no doubt fearful of being caught if the Guardians revealed them to the police.
Caleb found it a little overwhelming, knowing that he had a little sister, especially one who was a Heart, just like his queen (who incidentally had now fully recovered from her ordeal with Hexin). But he took his new responsibilities as big brother very seriously, as he did with all of his duties. Julian had even started to come with him to Earth, to meet the little girl who was his stepdaughter. Obviously, no one had told her who they truly were. As far as Lillian knew, Caleb was just her sister's boyfriend, and Julian his father. Everyone had decided that for know she would remain in the dark about them, including Nerissa.
Cornelia no longer had any hatred for the former Guardian. None of them did really. How could they, since she had sacrificed herself for them all? They wouldn't go so far as to say they forgave her, but they didn't hate her, and preferred to leave it at just that.
"What happened to her, though?" Caleb and Julian had asked.
Again, the Oracle had only shrugged. "She and Xin Jing were still joined when she bonded with Hexin, and ascended back to whence she came from. I can only assume that she must have gone with them."
"Who knows? To know that, we would have to go there ourselves…and that, sadly, is not possible."
Caleb and Julian had both looked crestfallen at that. Although Nerissa had been a traitor, a liar and various other things…she had still been a lover to one and a mother to the other.
"Will she ever come back?" they had asked.
Again, the Oracle could not give an answer. "Who can say?"
Lillian stood outside the school-gates, waiting for her mother to come pick her up, as she had warned her that she might be late today. She watched all the other kids greet and go off with their parents.
"Hello?" a warm voice said to her.
Turning around and looking up, she saw a dark-haired woman, who seemed somehow familiar to her.
"Hi?" she said unsurely, making a quick check to see that there was still plenty of people around, in case she needed help. Her family had ingrained into her the dangers of talking to strangers.
"Are you okay?" the lady asked. "Is there someone meeting you here?"
She nodded. "My mom always picks me up."
"That's good, Lillian."
She looked up at her in surprise. "How'd you know my name?"
The lady smiled. "That's a complicated subject, but I suppose you could say that I'm a distant relative of yours."
"I know all my family," said Lillian indignantly.
"Do any of us truly know where we come from?" she replied in a distant tone, making Lillian look quizzically at her.
"I've come to give you something." The lady reached into her pocket.
Lillian instantly tensed up. "I'm not supposed to take things from strangers."
"I know, child, and quite right, too. But you have nothing to fear from me."
She spoke in a deep, soft tone that seemed to soothe Lillian's fear. She didn't know what it was about the woman, but something just told her that she was right, and that she was safe with her, as she looked up into her golden eyes.
"Here," she said, as she pulled something out her pocket. When Lillian saw what it was, a golden locket, she gave a squeal of delight.
"Oh, it's lovely!"
"It once belonged to your great-grandmother," the lady explained, handing it to her. "She wore it many years ago, as a present from her husband. Your family intended to give it to you in a few years, however, I think you're ready to get it now, so I managed to get it from them."
"I hate being little!" Lillian pouted, but kept smiling as she stared at the jewellery, and the engraved writing upon it. "They always say I have to wait until I'm big for everything."
The lady chuckled. "Your day will come sooner than you expect, my little Heart."
"What do these words mean?" Lillian asked, gently fingering the engraved words.
"To All My Daughters, May This Bring You Luck On Your Happiest Of Days," the lady replied. "It has since her time been passed on to all her descendants, so it's only right that it should be yours, despite your youth."
She then reached down, and kissed Lillian gently on her brow. "I have to go now. Keep the locket safe," she told her. "It may not be a bad idea to keep it hidden for now, even from your family. They might get the wrong idea, as it was given to you from a stranger."
Lillian nodded, and tucked it into her bag. "Can I tell my sister?"
The lady smiled and nodded. "I think that will be all right."
A sudden hooting sound came from behind them, and Lillian gave a little sigh.
"It's my mom," she said. "I gotta go."
"Will I see you again?"
She smiled again. "Someday, perhaps."
Lillian gave a little wave, and hurried off towards her mom's waiting car.
As she left, she didn't notice the lady watching her, with that ever so warm smile on her face, but an almost sad look in her eyes.
"Goodbye…" she whispered. "…My precious heart."
And with that, she woman vanished from sight, though no one noticed her departure. In fact, no one had even noticed she had been there in the first place.The End!