Epilogue: Sparrow Leaves the Nest
'Such a beautiful day.' The Queen thought to herself as she sat on the bench in the castle's garden.
The warmth of the day kissed her skin and the soothing breeze stroked her hair. She closed her eyes with a nostalgic melody in mind. She thought about the past six years.
She thought of how she was overjoyed when the population of Albion returned, including Logan who had grown so much during her absence. She felt her heart swell as she thought about the night when she gave birth to her beautiful daughter and the child held her finger with a strong grip. And last but not least, the night she and Walter were finally married. Under the cover of the star filled sky and the help of a loyal priest. They had Swift and Steve as their only witnesses with their promise of secrecy about the couple, so that they could happily and secretly begin their life together. The people of Albion wondered and gossiped about the father of the Queen's daughter and her unusual closeness with Walter, but never sought an answer out of respect for the Queen who had saved Albion once again.
Walter and the Queen had also agreed to follow Swift's advice for the continuation of their blissful marriage. Walter will never have the power as King, despite his marriage to the Queen. Instead, the kingdom would be passed onto Logan after the Queen's death. In terms of his daughter, he will always be part of her life and raise her as his own, but he will never be able to tell anyone, not even his child, that he is her father. He was driven to do it in order to protect his child and wife. If the people of Albion found out about her low class father, they may not so forgiving to her in the future if ever she were to become Queen.
Walter will always live with these secrets, but one he has grown to be content with for the love for his family. He was unwilling at first, but he started to realize, it doesn't matter how other people may see them, he will always be an important figure to his family even without the titles, husband or father. His role became especially important when his wife became gradually ill after being exposed in the Void.
When she returned, she managed to begin the reconstruction of Albion as well as return the missing items to their final resting places (with Walter by her side.) She had also placed an important item deep within Brightwall Academy, one which had aided her before and one which she hopes will help her children one day. Unfortunately, as the years went by, simple things became difficult tasks for her. It started with her becoming tired often, but it proceeded to her not being able to wake up after long hours of slumber. The rare moments she was awake, it wasn't for long and she would soon go back to bed.
She became weaker as she became too lethargic to eat and no longer had the appetite to do so. She slowly became fragile and withered from the lack of food. Her hair had flecks of grey and her appearance made it obvious she was ill.
When she had become too weak from undernourishment and exhaustion, she needed assistance everywhere she went until she finally became bed ridden.
When the kingdom returned to its former glory, she was far too ill to even see the Albion that she had saved. She counted her blessings that she had managed to promote Swift to major for his role in the war and knighted Walter for his bravery before her health deteriorated. It was the only way she knew how to thank them and she had tried to promote Steve, but he had refused the position without ever telling her why.
During the years, she had also tried to get in contact with Reaver. She had sent him letters and invitations to balls; however, he never replied or attended the events, but she would still look carefully for him in the crowd. She never heard from him and she never heard any news about him. It was as if he had disappeared which was possible for someone like him, but she wasn't troubled or worried. She knew that whatever he was doing, he chose to do it and he's happy to do so.
Six years have passed since defeating the Duoler, the summer was coming to an end and in celebration of the start of August; they held their annual event, the Autumn Ball. The castle is in full preparation and Walter (with the help of Jasper,) is keeping the tradition which his dear wife had established before her illness.
By the time it was the first of August, the castle was decorated in royal gold, elegant green and modest brown.
Walter decided to see the Queen during his 'break,' that Jasper has allowed him. He was excited to visit her and was hoping that she would be awake, since he's hardly seen her in days and was missing her delicate face.
He peeks into their bed chamber to see that she is sat up in bed, holding their precious daughter and Logan who were hanging off every word to the story she was telling them.
"And in the gloomy forest of Brightwood, we fought a huge and smelly troll!"
Logan gasps in awe of the story.
"While little sister was in your tummy?"
"Yes, even when I still had your little sister in my tummy." She squeezed the two children.
"I will destroy all trolls!" Logan wiggled out his mother's arm and held his toy gun in the air. "I will always protect my little sister!"
"You'll have to wait a few years before you're battling trolls, lad." Walter chuckled as he entered the room.
"Uncle Walter!" Both children cried as they both ran to hug him.
"Is it time to get dressed?" Logan asked, slightly disappointed.
"I'm afraid it is. But first, you'll have to get cleaned up."
Logan takes his sister's hand, "Ok…" with hands held; they run out of the room.
"Don't play outside! And make sure to scrub your face this time!" Walter called out to the kids. "Scamps…How are you, M'lady?"
"I'm hanging in there." She smiled as he approached her and gave her a sweet peck on the lips.
"Ma'am?" Jasper poked his head in. "You have two visitors here for you."
Swift and Steve entered the room and they beamed happily to see that their Queen is conscious after a couple of days of worry.
"Steve! Swift! I'm so glad to see you again." She said cheerfully.
"I'll go for a bit. Got to make sure the little prince and princess hasn't run off on an adventure." Walter said.
"Last I saw them they were playing around the library." Jasper said.
"Those little scamps! I knew they wouldn't listen." Huffed Walter as he marched out of the room with Jasper. "Why didn't you stop them then?"
The Queen, Steve and Swift listened to them argue about it as they left.
"How are you, your majesty?" Swift asked as he stood beside her.
"You look like hell." Steve said casually.
"I feel it." She laughed weakly. "Are you guys managing without me?"
"Barely." Swift said kindly. "Hasn't been the same since you've been gone."
"Yeah, we've done better than ever." Steve added jokingly and Swift clears his throat with a disapproving look.
"Wonderful idea erecting statues of the Queen's Wings to commemorate them." Swift said. "It's a marvellous thought that they're built with telescopes, and that they're spread in every region to show that they're always watching over all of Albion."
"Yeah, it was pretty smart. Reminds everyone what our boys did for them." Steve said. "They couldn't have asked for more."
"Speaking of which, it feels like I haven't done anything for you." She said to Steve. "Why won't you accept captaincy?"
"There's no point if I'm leaving Albion."
"You're leaving?" She said sadly. "Why?"
"There are too many bad memories here. Besides, I've always wanted to travel, see the world, y'know? Of course I'll be missing everyone, even you Swifty." Steve nudged Swift a little.
"Your absence will be felt." Swift said. "Will you be keeping in contact?"
"Of course! I can't not tell you guys my adventures." Steve said winking. "Although, I still have to annoy you to your grave." He joked to the Queen which made her laugh.
"Always so reliable." She joked.
"I never got a chance to tell you this, but thanks." Steve said warmly. "You always cared about me and the squad. You treated us, well, like family. And I know a lot of us in the squad had never had that privilege, including myself. We were always able to rely on you and it was more than an honour to fight beside you. I'm sure to the very end, they all were grateful for the chance you had given them to better themselves, including me. Don't ever feel guilty for their deaths. You did your best for them and they wouldn't want you to second guess yourself, or else they'd come back and haunt you."
The Queen was shocked by Steve's kind words but she smiled appreciatively at him.
"Thank you, Steve."
"Oh my, we still have to get ourselves prepared for the ball." Swift said as he looked at the grandfather clock in the room which chimed. "Get well soon, your majesty."
"Yeah, I expect your ass out of bed, if not by tonight than tomorrow or I'm dragging it out." Steve joked as they left the room. "Hey Jaspy."
Jasper looks confusedly at Steve as the two men leave and he enters the room.
"Oh, farewell, Steve. Swift!" Jasper called out. "Jaspy? I don't think I'm too fond of that. Suppose it could be worse." He muttered. "Anything you need, your majesty?"
"Jasper, you've always been so loyal. You are always there when I need you." She smiled fondly at him. "There is something I need you to do."
"Anything ma'am. Erm… Within reason, of course." Jasper said as he approached her.
"I need you to help Walter raise the children. After I'm gone, I'm going to need you both to be by their side, even at the darkest of times." She said.
"Your majesty! You're talking as if… Well, as if you're dying."
"Jasper, I don't think I have much time left."
"Nonsense! Just a bug. A bug that lasts six years…."
"Wouldn't that be wonderful? I should be out and about in no time then."
"It really would. I really do hope with all my heart that your health returns." Jasper said as his voice began to quiver. "Ma'am, if you are, in rudimentary terms, 'going to meet your maker,' I want you to know that it has been a pleasure and an honour to have served you, and I will make it my life's purpose to be there for your children as well."
"You were never just a loyal butler, Jasper. You have always been a dear friend to me."
Jasper's lip begins to tremble and he is close to crying when Walter walks in.
"What are you sobbing about?" Walter asked.
Jasper glances at the Queen who barely moves her head side to side.
"Nothing! Nothing at all!" He sniffles. "Just dust, it's ever so dusty in here. I better get a feather duster…. And a tissue…" He dashed out of the room.
"Odd little man." Walter muttered as he sat beside her on the bed and held her hand.
"How are the children?"
"They're fine; I left them with the nursemaid for now. Knowing my luck, they'd be wreaking havoc in the kitchen with that Elliot and getting their formal wear messy. Feeling tired?"
"A tad. I'm more tired of people looking at me with pity."
"It's not pity, it's hope for your wellbeing." Walter said as he kissed her.
"While they look at me like I'm dying?"
"You're not dying. You can't be because I wouldn't know what to do without you. I can't imagine my life without you and I don't want to."
"Walter, when… I mean… If I do die before my time," She said. "I want you to know that I'll always be watching over you, our wonderful daughter and my precious Logan. And that, I will always love you and I'll be waiting for you in the afterlife."
"M'lady…" he tries to interrupt
"But, please, get on with your life and move on from me. I want you to be happy so find happiness any way you can. Or even who you can…"
"I'd rather have you in this life right now." Walter said miserably. "I love you and there is no way my thoughts will ever stray towards anyone other than you."
"Just keep in mind about the secret in the tomb. I'm pretty sure that's going to be important one day."
"You'll probably still be around so we might not need it." Walter said firmly. "Now, enough of this. I want to spend time with my wife without thinking about when she will die or how I'm going to live my life without you. Let's just spend this time together, please?"
She smiles and nods. He wraps his arm around her and tilts her chin for a lovingly long kiss. They kissed as if it was their last and they held each other tightly so they could have the memory of the other's touch.
There was a knock at the door and they looked towards the door.
Reaver poked his head in, "Sorry, am I interrupting?" He asked without sounding sorry at all.
"Yes." Growled Walter.
"Still as grumpy as ever, Waldo." Reaver said as he walked towards them.
"Walter." He and the Queen corrected.
"What are you doing here?" Walter grumbled irritably.
"I've come to attend the ball and to see the Queen as promised." Reaver replied. "After all, I am a man of my word."
Walter mutters under his breath, but looks to the Queen and she nods her head.
"Alright then, I'll… see to any last minute preparations." Walter said as he reluctantly left the room. "Or chase the kids around."
"You're late." She said cheekily to Reaver.
"My apologies. I had so many things to attend to as well as my regular visits to my friends."
"After all this time…" She smiled and shook her head. She pauses for a moment then asked, "Do you still think I'm beautiful? Would you still have loved me if we were married to this day and I looked like this?"
Reaver brushes her hair off face and looks at her with a twinkle in his eyes and a warm smile.
"You are always beautiful." He gently kisses her hand. "And I will always love you, even to this day. Married or not." He kisses her forehead.
"Oh, I've been meaning to give you this." She said as she searched her bedside drawers.
With a cheeky grin, she pulls out a slightly dirty hero doll. Reaver looks at himself as a doll with a slight discontent.
"Do you like him?" She joked. "What am I saying? Of course you do, because he's you."
"I… something it." Reaver said in disgust as he took the doll from her. "I… shall cherish it…." He said slowly as he gingerly put the doll in his pocket and shudders.
She giggles at his reaction to her 'gift' and looks to the window. Her smile remains but her eyes betrays her as they revealed a sense of melancholy.
"What's wrong, my lady?"
"It's been so long since I've been out of the castle, or even this room. I would love to see the castle's garden again…"
"Whatever my lady wants, my lady gets." Reaver said and he scooped her into his arms.
She cries in surprise and begins to giggle as he carried her off.
"Put me down! Have you gone mad?!"
"Hush, woman. You'll get us caught."
The castle was near empty since the servants were working either in the ball room or the kitchen. The few that remains were busy cleaning to notice Reaver carrying the Queen in his arms and out of the castle.
She felt the summer's last kiss on her skin as they got outside. She looks around in awe of the warm colours of the leaves which delicately blew in the wind but not a single leaf had fallen yet.
Reaver quickly hides behind a tall hedge.
"What is it?"
She hears children giggling and laughing and she felt the joy in her heart. She catches glimpses through the gaps in the hedge of Logan with his little sister play fighting with their toy guns and wooden swords. A friend that she's never seen before was a dark haired boy, about her daughter's age. She smiles warmly as she saw how fond her daughter was of him whenever she hugs him, not that the boy minded.
"You cheeky hobbes! I said, don't dirty your clothes!"
She saw Walter and Jasper running towards the children who tries to run off towards the main castle doors. She could hear Reaver's mind clicking as he thought of a way not to be spotted.
"Don't run away from me! That's not the way of a hero!" Walter called.
The children stopped and quickly jogged back over to Walter and Jasper.
'I told you you'd be a great father.' She thought to herself.
As if he could hear her thoughts, Walter looks towards them.
"Teach us to be a hero, please, Uncle Walter." Their daughter asked.
He looked at the little girl and smiled painfully.
"Lesson one, stop getting dirty and behave." Walter said firmly and the kids stood to attention. "What are we going to do now?" He asked Jasper.
"We can take them through the library so no one can see them and wipe off the dirt in the kitchen."
Walter agrees as he takes Logan and their daughter in each hand with Jasper and the boy following. She watches them leave with a longing to go with them.
"Finally." Reaver muttered.
He made sure that they had gone, before coming out from behind the bush and sat her down on a bench closest to the view of Bowerstone. She looks out at the view and smiles with tears of happiness shimmering in her eyes. She looks at the town full of memories and felt nostalgia sitting on the bench from when she used to watch Logan play with Walter as she cradled their baby. She enjoys the freedom of sitting out in the gardens as she listens to the birds sing, the smell of fresh grass and the touch of the gentle breeze.
"Yes, my lady?"
"That melody you used to hum, was that-?"
"Yours? The one I had composed for you? Yes, one in the same."
She scoffed and looks down at her delicate hands before she put it on top of Reaver's.
"I never did stop loving you." She said. He looks at her in surprise and she smiles in amusement. "And I was happy during our time together."
Reaver smiles lovingly at her before turning to look ahead. "Yes, so was I." He said quietly and she puts her head on his shoulder.
"Could you hum that melody for me again?"
"Do I have to?"
"'What my lady wants, my lady gets.'" She quoted.
"But it's better on the piano."
"There isn't a piano out here. Please, Reaver. For old time's sake?"
"Alright." He tuts.
He begins to hum that fateful melody. She always enjoyed hearing it; the music contained a silent agony, but ended with notes that invoked hope. A bittersweet melody from a bittersweet memory.
'Such a beautiful day.' She thought to herself as she closed her eyes with love in her heart as her fondest memories flooded to her.
She remains silent.
With shaking hands, he checked her pulse.
His lips trembles and he lets out a small sob as he rapidly dabs at his eyes with his gloved hand.
"Goodnight, my lady." Reaver said with his voice faltering and he softly kisses her forehead.
The orchestra inside the castle began to play as the first of the autumn leaves fell.
Not a single town or village in Albion was bustling today. The streets were empty, the shops were closed and even the weather reflected the morbid atmosphere. Grey clouds had gathered over the castle's gardens as did the people, as they attended the Queen's funeral.
Steve spoke first as he stood at the podium and he bit his lip as not to cry. His voice shook on his last sentence and he rubbed his face as his eyes stung. He moved off the podium to stand beside Swift, so that Walter can deliver the final speech. Steve stood silently as his tears steadily flowed.
"Our beloved Queen came with many titles, 'Hero,' 'Hero Queen,' 'The Chosen One,' but it didn't matter, because the years I have spent with her has made me realize that she may have been born to be a hero, but she was just as human as we were. She loved the same way we do, by holding the people who were dear to her close. She cried with a heavy guilt when she had left Albion, but returned to save us. She cared for everyone, so she sacrificed her life to protect them. If she could tell us now, despite knowing the agony she would have to suffer, she would tell us she didn't regret a thing and she would do it again for us.
"She wasn't loved just as a hero. She was loved as a loyal wife, a doting mother and more importantly, as a person. As the woman she was born as. An irreplaceable woman that I will never forget. It will be the memory of her that will allow me to rest easier at night, even if she's gone. I hold comfort that we will once again meet her in the afterlife and she will still have tales of her new found adventure, until then I will wait patiently.
"She had fought for and with us. She had taken Albion and made it in to something more and she had led us to victory. For that, we will always owe our lives, our future and out Albion to her.
She was raised from nothing, lived a burdened life with a responsibility that she never asked for, yet she found the strength to save us. She saved us and I believe that she is still watching over us. No matter what comes at Albion now, I know we will win because she is protecting us and she will fight with us in spirit. I hope she finally finds peace in a new kingdom, away from her life sufferings."
Walter's voice faltered as he succumbed to his tears and heartbreak. He, Steve and Swift stood together as they saluted their Queen for the final time. Walter had broken down crying as he was ushered away by Steve and Swift. The rain begins to fall as the tears of the kingdom dropped to the ground.
The rain beat heavily on Albion and by nightfall, when the children were tucked in and asleep in the Queen's bed with a heavy hearted Walter, whose tears still fell as he slept, thunder began to rumble and lightening began to strike.
Within the cold and dark of the Queen's final resting place, a shadow has been lurking and reveals itself from the darkness with the use of the torches within the tomb.
Reaver walks up to the Queen's coffin. He keeps a tight grip on something within his hand as he looks down at the golden casket.
"My dear Sparrow, in the end, I believe you were the one who was right about me. That delicate and fragile boy from Oakvale had been alive within me for all these lonesome years. Dormant, but alive.
"You had, unbeknownst to him, awakened him from his endless nightmare and into a more forgiving world; yours. You gave him the possibility that he can deserve to live happily and he had because of you. But most importantly, you opened your heart to him. You breathed air into his suffocated soul and you freed him. And so, in love and in gratitude, he will keep to his word.
"From tonight, this boy from Oakvale will rest in peace with you, as his mortal body shall once the dreaded shadow court has lost all use of it, which I dare hope is soon. He will no longer feel pain from his past mistakes and he will not feel sorrow for your passing, because that boy from Oakvale will stay by your side eternally…"
Reaver reveals in his hand his mother's locket which he had pried open. Inside was a small and wilted flower which had greyed over the long centuries. It was a flower that Reaver had picked for his mother when he was only a child. A distant, but vivid memory for him.
He took the flower and placed the locket onto her coffin, kissed his hand and pressed it against the gold.
He ascended the stairs slowly and opened the door to the thunder and lightning. He adjusted his collar and sniffed in discontent.
He crushed the dead flower in his hand as he closed the tomb door and never looked back.
"All that remains is Reaver…"
Hello everyone. Can you believe it? It's over! Albion's Lost years is finally and officially over. I hope that you've enjoyed it to the very end. This has been a fun project for me and it's even inspired me to go on a writing course, yay!
Thank you so much to all the fans' of ALY. Your patience and kindness helped me complete this story and I'm grateful to have had such a wonderful audience. It has been a pleasure writing for you all and it truly saddens me that I can no longer provide such a service (unless there's another strange gap between Fable games, haha!)
I will probably set up an account on fictionpress soon, so if anyone wants to find me, I'll be there. Although, if you send me a message from here, I will still reply to all messages as soon as I can.
For anyone who is interested, there will be a published copy of Albion's Lost Years that will be professionally edited (not by me, thank Avos.) And there is a limited amount of copy's, so if anyone would like a hard copy that has none of my grammar mistakes and such, please feel free to private message me. I will only charge the cost of how much an individual copy is printed and post and packinging, I do not make profit from this.
Thanks again, everyone!