Sorry everyone, I had some MAJOR real life stuff going on, but hey! I finally got the Epilogue up! Woohoo! And now, for the final time… enjoy…
Chapter 44: Epilogue
Our Way Back Home
Six months later...
Legs pumping, chest heaving, heart beating, his swords clinking silently against themselves, Leonardo ran. His bare feet slapped at the wet ground finding slick purchase before continuing on. The artificial lighting of the sewer was mediocre at best; he had to turn on his bright flashlight that was attached across his chest from the leather straps that held his katana. The it's-so-bright-I-burned-my-Retina light that flooded from the flashlight illuminated the sewer and scattered rats when Leonardo rounded a curve. The ground turned from sort-of smooth to damp dirt a few feet after turned the corner. But Leonardo didn't care. He only concentrated on ignoring his burning chest as he ran through New York City's finest and dingiest sewer tunnels.
He wasn't sprinting anymore. He'd stopped sprinting a few miles back when his knees buckled on him and he staggered for a few feet – refusing to stop his forward movement. He'd switched from sprinting to running but now was doing to a fast jog. His knees screamed with each step. Even his shoulders hurt from the constant movement of his arms swooshing back and forth but he wouldn't stop. He couldn't. He needed to do this.
I have to make it. I'm almost there. I can do this. I can do this, he said in his head. The mantra was on constant replay through his thoughts.
I can do this. I can do this.
This is what he'd wanted. This is what he'd needed. He needed to make it to the end, he needed to finish this.
Leonardo let his lungs fill with sewer air, expand and jut out then retreat back to hungrily suck in more oxygen. His arms moved back and forth tiredly, automatically. They pumped in tune with his burning legs.
A smile crept across Leonardo's face as he spied the subway marker in front of him, less than a hundred feet away. The rusty sign that was displayed on the wall was well over ten years old. The subway for which it sorely displayed the name of was long since abandoned for longer track with more stops that were closer to big, populated city areas. To anyone else this cobweb covered sewer sign that was so dusty only a few letters could be deciphered would mean nothing. It wouldn't even be spared a second glance. But, to Leonardo, this sign was everything. It was his goal. The thing he'd been striving to reach for the last three months. Striving and failing every single time he'd tried to get to the sign.
The first time he'd tried running to this sign he'd collapsed a mile into the run and had to call Raphael on his Shell Cell. The second time he'd only gotten two miles before a headache thumped through his head and he had to turn around and walk home. The third time had been the worst of all. He'd slipped on some mud three and a half miles in and crashed into the wall knocking himself out for a few minutes. He wasn't sure but he'd though he'd felt his arms and legs shake for a few seconds before he'd lost consciousness. He still wasn't sure if he'd had a seizure or not. Those horrible things had quit happening so much in the last few months. They still occurred, of course, but not to the degree that were before. Donatello wasn't sure they'd ever go away completely.
When Leonardo had awoken he'd been sore and bruised and pissed off that he'd been so clumsy. He'd called Donatello to come help him but Michelangelo had come instead. Leonardo had cursed fiercely when he'd seen Mike's orange bandanna come around the corner.
"I asked for Don," he mumbled darkly, unable to stand up and pissed as hell that Mike had come. At least with Don, Leo knew he wouldn't get made fun of. Mikey would have a field day with the jokes he could pull from the fact that Leo had fallen and 'could get up'.
"I told him I would come... Come on bro, let's go. Up and at 'em," was all Mikey said before he looped his arm around Leo's shell and hauled him up. Leo had hissed as his sore chest was pulled.
Mikey had been quiet as he helped walk Leo back to the Lair. But after a mile he'd finally spoken.
"Remember that time I fell into the sewer water when we were kids and you had to jump in and pull me out?" he'd asked. Leo nodded his head.
"We'll I guess we're even now," and with that Mike laughed and gave a slight squeeze to Leo's shoulder. That brought a small smile to Leo's lips. After that, Mikey had never mentioned Leonardo falling again.
His legs were moving on willpower alone now. Leonardo bit his lip and forced himself on. None of that would happen this time. He would not collapse or fall this time. Not today, not this time.
He even felt better this time than all those times he'd tried running before.
This time his legs burned but didn't feel like they were going to collapse out from under him. His chest ached but he could still breathe. His head drummed, but he didn't feel taken over by dizziness. A wave of nausea washed through Leo but he ignored it. He had to ignore it if he wanted to reach that damn sign, the sign that was exactly five miles from the mouth of his family's Lair. Five miles that he hadn't been able to walk let alone run not even a month ago. To reach this sign, running as hard as his body would let him the entire five miles had been his goal for months. It was a way for him to prove to not only his family but to himself that he was back, that he was okay. That he could bounce back from what had happened. Bounce back from Hanson and Angelo and dying and... And... And.
Stop thinking about it, Leonardo snapped at himself trying to will his mind away from less appetizing, painful thoughts.
Running was supposed to be natural. Running was supposed to be soothing. He'd been able to run his entire life. Miles felt like feet. Jumping over rooftops felt like play grounds, because that's what they were – the buildings and rooftops were just a giant Jungle-Jim that Leo and his brothers could scatter themselves over. Flipping and flying and gliding and loosing themselves to the wind. And if some Purple Dragons were under them stealing from the innocent or pounding on the weak then that was just a bonus.
Stop the bad, protect the good, keep your honor and love thy brother.
The rusty slanted sign got closer. Leonardo grit his teeth to run harder. It had been a long road getting to this point.
Five months ago...
"Donnie... I-I want you to take it out," said Leonardo softly from his place on the couch. He was sitting on the left side with one leg tucked under him and the other leg out touching the ground and Donatello's left shoulder from where he sat on the ground in front of the couch. A big blue and white blanket was stuffed around Leonardo's arms and shoulders. It was even tucked under his foot to keep the outstretched appendage warm. Leo'd been so cold since he'd woken up almost a month ago. It was a miracle that he didn't take for granted that he was even sitting up on the couch instead of laying on it. The cup of tea that was held between both of his hands was still steaming from the refill Raphael had just gotten up to get. Leo looked down at the cup that both of his hands laced around. He still shook too much to hold the hot liquid with only one hand and he knew back somewhere in the corners of his mind that he should feel angry that he was still so weak but for some reason he didn't feel angry. He didn't feel weak, in fact. He felt tired and sore and ready to take another nap but not weak.
Grace lay snuggled up beside him with Mikey on her other side. The child's eyes were slowly closing, her breath evening out as she lost interest in the late night movie that was playing on their multitude of TV screens in favor of falling asleep. Mike stopped chomping down on his popcorn to look over at Leo with a handful half way to his mouth. Anna and Raph looked over from where Raph lay across his chair and Anna was curled in a ball at his feet. Anna grabbed the remote to silence the TV screens. Don jerked his head around to look up at Leo. His face twisted in confusion.
"Leo, what do you mean you want – "
"The chip," Leo whispered not really trusting his voice. "I want it out. I want it out of my head."
Mikey sputtered, "Leo, are-are you sure you want it out? The last time you were in the infirmary didn't really turn out so good."
Mike cringed as he remembered Leo bucking on the bed, pleading for the scientist to not get any closer, begging for Hanson to stop the test. Don had been trying to inject more morphine into his IV and had accidently awoken him. Leo had been having a nightmare and startling awake to Don coming at him with a needle... It'd brought everything back. Don's face had morphed and molded into that of Hanson's. Hanson had been coming at him with a needle. Hanson had been trying to hurt him, kill him. Hanson had... had...
Hanson was dead.
Leonardo shivered as he remembered Don laying his hand softly on his head and answering his question of if they had won.
"Yeah, Leo, we won."
"Really?" he'd answered in disbelief.
Don only nodded.
But they'd never found a body. The hundreds of news stories the brothers had followed said nothing of any bodies at all, in fact. The makeup caked faces of the news reporters said that there had been no casualties. The Foot Clans tower had been set ablaze but when firefighters and emergency personnel arrived there had been no one inside the tower. Not Hanson or Karai or any foot soldiers. Nothing. The Tower was empty.
"But I checked his body, Hanson is dead." Don had claimed trying to sooth Leonardo's racing heart that he could see had accelerated from the news that no body had been found.
Patrick Hanson was dead... but is evil ever truly dead?
The blue banded turtle pushed himself from those thoughts.
"I know what happened last time," Leo took a deep breath, the others held theirs. "But I need to do this. We," he looked over at Anna then down to Grace who was watching him through her lashes, "We need to do this. We need to... to..."
Don shifted around until he was facing Leo then put a hand on his blanket covered knee. "I understand. And thank God, I've wanted to get that damn thing out since you told us about it."
"So when can you get it out of us?" asked Anna biting her fingernails.
Don shifted around until he faced both Leo and Grace on the couch and Anna in front of Raph. "It's invasive surgery. Hell, it's brain surgery. I have almost everything I need in order for everything to go smoothly but I need more painkillers because we've had to use so much lately. And I need to ask April to help because and I can't do it alone and I'll need to acquire some more anesthetic just in... just in case."
Just in case I wake up and start freaking out again, Leo sighed.
"I'll have to shave a part of your head, both of your heads, in the back. I'll try to make it as small as I can but you'll still have a bald spot for a while. And Leo won't be able to wear his mask while it heals because of the..." He trailed off as Anna stood up abruptly and began walking towards the stairs.
"Where ya goin' ?" Raph called. Anna waved him off and walked up the steps to her and Grace's room. Raph gave Leo a questioning look, Leo shrugged watching as Anna walked into her room. A few seconds later she emerged with Leonardo's extra sword strapped across her back. Both Leo and Raph stood up, the former a good bit slower than the latter. The blue and white blanket tumbled to the ground surrounding Leo's feet. In quick steps Raph was next to his older brother, ready to catch him should his knees buckle.
Anna walked back down the steps. When she was close enough Grace started to giggle. The sound startled Mikey who was engrossed with watching as Anna unsheathed the sword. It sang as the metal withdrew.
"Wait, Anna, what are you-"
With a quick slice to the back of her head Anna lopped off a good twelve inches of her deep brown hair. The hair fell to the ground leaving a short, ragged bob-cut left on her head.
The teenager breathed out a laughing breath. A smile formed on her lips. "I've wanted to do that for a long, long time."
Leo shuttered violently remembering their cell. In short flashes he saw the dank walls. The single fluoresce light bulb. The mats they slept on. The door with no handle on the inside. Raphael wrapped his arm around Leonardo's shoulder as he started to list violently to the side.
"Angelo used to grab my hair and throw me around... Now he'll never be able to yank on my hair ever again," Anna whispered looking down at the large chunk of hair.
"Because he's dead," announced Grace, naïve innocence passing though her voice. "Wait," she looked around sensing the wary thoughts that came from the others. "Was I not supposed to say that? Are we not allowed to talk about him anymore?"
Anna walked over to the child and scooped her up into her arms while looking at Leo.
Leonardo looked from Anna to Grace. Anna's now short chopped hair fell into her face. Grace's cheeks were starting to plump up from over a month of eating from the Hamato kitchen and Michelangelo's cooking. All things considered the two girls looked better, healthier, and stronger by a bit. Leonardo then looked down at himself. His skin was still a sickly shade of off green that clung to his bones uncomfortably. Scars deep and shallow wrapped and wound through his chest and arms. Some were still clad with bandages while others were purling white-green from age. He knew his cheeks were still hollow, his muscles less defined, his body haggard. He looked a sharp contrast from Anna and Grace's getting-better bodies.
But Anna and Grace hadn't died.
Leonardo had died.
I had died.
The darkness had been alive and Leonardo hadn't been alone with it. A boy and a girl, ghosts. With eyes so blue and brown and skin so pale and voices to sweet sounding. They were dead and Leonardo saw them so he must've been dead.
The darkness had tried to grab him, tried to engulf him. Death had tried to get him. But, he'd survived. He'd woken up in the Lair, in his hospital bed with Don and Mike and Raph beside him. He'd lived...
So why did it still feel like he'd left a part of himself in that limbo between life and death? Why was he still so cold?
A squeeze on his shoulder brought Leonardo from his thoughts. He jerked his head up, he eyes flew to Raph who still had his arm around him. They shared an almost knowing stare. It was almost knowing because Raphael didn't know what it felt like to die. To feel the darkness come alive and sense that death was just beyond it. He didn't know what it was like to stare into the lifelike eyes of a boy and a girl who were murdered by power hungry fools. To decide that he could not stay in this place of the dead, that he needed to go back, go home to his family who needed him desperately. Raphael didn't know how hard it was to say that one word; no.
Do you want to die, Leonardo?
That word had brought everything back. The pain, the exhaustion, the loss. One word took away the death-darkness and engulfed Leonardo in the life-darkness that surrounded him in unconsciousness.
But, at the same time, Leonardo didn't know what it felt like to see a brother die. To see a brother rambling about blue sky's while he looked up at fake LED lights, blood pooling around him. To hear that last words that had crawled from Leonardo's mouth be of a beautiful blue sky that Raphael had never seen before, would probably never see. The light had left Leonardo's eyes. His head had fallen to the side with his eyes still open, unseeing, unfeeling, unloving, dead.
Fear, anger, confusion. Everything had happened so fast. Then Don had said that Leo's heart still beat in his chest – faintly – but thumping and pumping. Raphael had giving the orders to move out automatically. He'd told Don to pick up Leo and hold him because even if he was dead or dying or still alive – just barely – he was going to take him with them, take his body home if nothing else. No matter what. Never leave a brother behind.
Stop the bad, protect the good, keep your honor and love thy brother.
Even though Raphael had never died and Leonardo had never watched a brother die they still shared a knowing stare into each others eyes because they were both survivors. They'd both survived.
"No Gracie," said Leo. "We can talk about it. In fact... I think we need to talk about it. We need to let it out. What happened happened. There's nothing we can do to change that. Now we just have to... have to..."
"We just have to live, Leo." finished Raph giving Leo a small smile before turning to Grace and Anna.
"Yeah, Raph. We just have to live."
A week later, the bump was gone. It was as if it had never existed in the first place. Only, it did. It did exist and it was there even though it was gone now. Now it was gone forever. No more pain that paralyzed his body. No more fire licking his limbs. No more monsters racking their claws over his brain. It was gone.
Gone but not forgotten. Gone and never to be forgotten.
Raphael sat with him a few days after the procedure. Don was sleeping in his hospital bed, too tired to go back up to his room. Splinter was in the corner on his mat meditating. Mikey had just stepped out for a light evening jog around the Lair to check the perimeter. They all found it odd that the Foot had just up and vanished along with all of Hanson's men. Anna and Grace were in their room sleeping off their own weariness from getting their chips taken out.
Raphael had Leonardo's chip in his hand. It was on the tip of his finger and he was staring at it intensely.
"Careful," Leo said softly, opening his eyes and moving his head to face Raph. "That thing could blow up on you."
Raph's eyes bugged out comically before he chuckled and pinched the metallic chip between his thumb and first finger. "Yer full of shit, Leo. It ain't gonna blow up. An' if it does then I'll just throw it under Mikey's bed. That'll wake 'im up real good in the mornin'," he chuckled looking over at Leo who had a small smile framing his lips. Raph's own little puffs of laughter died out as he looked back down at the chip on his finger.
"It's so damn small. I expected it to be bigger, I guess."
"It was big enough," whispered Leo. His eyes were starting to get heavy.
"You are Leo," stated Raph suddenly.
Leo opened his eyes to gaze at his brother, "I am what?"
Leo puffed out a small, humorless laugh and shook his head lightly. "No. No I'm not. I'm not mighty and I'm not fear-"
"But you are," Raph cut him off, leaning in close to Leo. "To me, you are. To me yer fucking fearless."
His eyes glistened with emotion, raw, thick emotion that he never let show. Emotion that Raph tried to hide from showed through in his eyes. Leo swallowed and nodded slowly. His throat tightened with his own emotion at seeing his tough-as-nails brother so vulnerable.
Raph looked down at the chip again. He chewed on his top lip for a second before jerking his head up to gaze at Leo.
"You don't have to protect us all the time," he said sincerely. "I think it's time we started protecting you."
And with that he put his thumb and finger together and smashed the chip. It gave a loud pop before sizzling and breaking into pieces.
"You've always got my back, bro, an' I'll always have yers too."
When Leonardo finally touched the dirty sign at the end of the sewer tunnel, no one clapped. No one jumped out of the shadows to engulf him in a shell-breaking hug. No one whooped or hollered or congratulated him. He was alone, but that was okay. He wanted to be alone. He didn't do this for anyone else. He did it for him and him alone. To show himself, to prove to himself that he could do this. That he could run five miles through the same sewers he's lived in for his entire life. It wasn't just about the running, it was about getting better.
Months ago he'd barely been able to walk up the steps. He'd been so weak, so fragile, so beaten down.
But not now.
Now he'd run and jogged and dragged his body along until he'd reached his set goal. He'd finally reached that stupid sign that marked the subway tunnel that wasn't even used anymore. He'd reached it. He'd done it.
I did it.
Leonardo huffed out a laugh as he took his hand away from the sign. Bits of rust clung to his fingers from where he'd touched the old metal.
Sweat dripped from his forehead and down his neck. The sewers were silent save for the rushing of water from the pipes overhead. Leonardo looked down at the tunnel he'd just run down. His bright flashlight illuminated every crevice, there were no dark shadows.
Taking a deep breath, filling his lungs with air, Leonardo tuned back around to tap the sign one last time then let out his oxygen in a quick puff. He nodded to himself, a small smile playing on his lips and pride swelling in his chest as moved away from the sign and the wall. He walked backwards a few steps before turning his back to his now accomplished goal and walking away.
He'd pushed his body, he'd reached his goal and now it was time to go home.
Leonardo entered back into the Lair after his walk home. More sweat had dripped down his brow, over his already soaked mask and down his neck and shoulders. The nice rush of air that had greeted him when he'd opened the Lair door sent a small chill over his reptilian skin.
Giggles and loud voices filled the Lair making Leo pause on his way to the kitchen. The voices were coming from the kitchen, probably from the dining table. Leo shuffled back against the wall, semi hidden in the darkness. Shadows from the fluorescent lights on the ceiling melted and molded around him. No one had called out a greeting to him; they must not have known he was back yet. From the booming voices from the kitchen it wasn't a surprise they hadn't heard him open the door. Especially since he'd assumed everyone was in bed already and been extra careful and quiet about opening the Lair door.
"Oh please, Mommy, please, please, please!" begged a giggling voice. Grace laughed again. Leo could imagine what she looked like sitting in her chair at their new table. The family had to 'acquire' a new one a few months ago. The old was too small to fit seven people – well, two people and four turtles and a rat.
Leo smiled as he heard Grace laugh again. He could practically see her wiggling in her chair, almost falling out of it. Then hopping up and down and trying to hoist herself across the table in excitement.
"You have to ask Raph, Gracie," answered Anna back to the squirming child. Anna's voice was full of humor. Leo could practically hear the smile on her face.
"Wait, whaddya gotta ask me?" slurred Raph. Leo picked up the sound of metal being placed on wood as Raph laid down his fork and swallowed the bite of food that was in his mouth. There was a pause, Grace giggled again.
"Can I marry you Uncle Raphie?"
The room exploded in laughter. Leonardo had to clamp his hand over his face to stop the barking laugh from escaping his lips. Mikey's laugh was loudest of all. Leo heard a scraping sound, wood against concrete, as Mike stood up.
"Raphie and Gracie sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
"Ew, no!" Grace bellowed, giggling. Leonardo could imagine her red cheeks in his mind. The way her little hands would be waving around trying to stop Mikey's song.
"Kissing is gross, Uncle Mikey!"
More laughter echoed through the Lair. Mike cleared his throat; Raph growled a warning to the orange turtle who ignore him.
"Okay then H-U-G-G-I-N-G!" Mike hollered loudly through his own laughing that was quickly turning hysterical. Leo heard the sound of skin hitting skin before Mike squeaked. "Hey! Gracie said it! You don't gotta hit me Raph," he mumbled the last part obviously rubbing at his head where Raph had swatted him.
"Well Leo, did you win?" Don chuckled as he saw Leo come around the corner and into the kitchen. The others look up at him expectantly, smiles still plastered on their faces.
A grin spread across Leonardo's mouth as he went over to his spot at the table between Raph and Grace. A glass of ice water and some Ibuprofen had already been set out for him. The water had a ring of sweat around the glass. It was cold when Leo grabbed it and chugged it down, happy to let the cool liquid pour down his parched throat and dry mouth. After finishing off the water and placing the glass back on the wooden table Leo looked up at his smiling family.
"Yeah, I won."
Another cheer went up around the table. Hands came down on Leo's shoulder happily patting him on the back; he didn't shy away from them. This was his family, they wouldn't hurt him. They'd never hurt him.
Daddy, mommy has some news for you, Grace's voice sounded through Leo's head. Leo looked over to Anna who was running her fingers through her now shoulder length brown hair.
"You've got news?" Leo asked when everyone had calmed back down. If it was possible it seemed like the grin that was on Anna's face spread wider.
"Yeah," she paused, let out an excited laugh and continued. "April thinks she found him. Theo, I mean, my brother. April thinks she found my brother. He's in Ohio, that's what she said anyway. I don't know if it's really him. I mean there must be thousands if Theodore Warrens' living in Ohio but, I mean... April really thinks it's him."
"That's great Anna!" Mikey touched her arm then rubbed her back; she didn't jerk away from his touch.
"There's more," Grace sing-songed.
"Yeah," Anna ran her fingers through her hair again. "One of Casey's friend's wife is a teacher at a school a few blocks away. She said she'd pull a few strings and could get us in next semester."
Raph looked at her skeptically, "Us as in you and Grace?"
Grace giggled and jumped up in her seat, nearly upsetting the chair with her excitement. "Yes! I'm going to school! And Mommy's going to school! I've never been in a school before. Mommy told me they even give you books to read! Books!" He yelled out the last word splaying her hands out trying to emphasize it more. Leo was sure that her loud, almost shrill voice would wake up Master Splinter, but the door to his room remained closed and the child behind him continued, "You don't even have to pay for them because the nice ladies let you borrow them!"
"You can get books like that at the library too," said Don knowingly even though he himself had never been inside an actual library.
"What's a library?" The child asked, her eyes big and baby blue.
Leo froze for a second in thought. He didn't know why he'd never thought about it... Grace had never seen a library before. She'd never been in one. Probably never been in a lot of buildings before like a school or a church or went to a playground like all normal children do. Grace had been in cells her entire life... Leonardo suppressed a shutter. He'd fix that. He'd get Angel or April to take her to the library or he could step into his long coat and hat and take her to the park to play. He could get Don or Raph to drive them to the farmhouse and Anna could stretch out her legs and abilities there without worrying about bending or crushing a pipe pumping water through the city. The possibilities of what they could do were endless. Now that they were free they could do anything they wanted.
"Don't worry chica, I'll take you to the library and I'll even read to ya," Mike promised. Leo wondered how Mikey would sneak into a library in New York then he smiled thinking of all the costumes the family had stashed away for when they ventured Topside.
"Mike, you don't even read," said Raph.
Mike looked at him and put his hand to his chest feigning hurt, "Yes I do!"
"Comic books don't count."
"Yes, they do!"
"Na, they don'"
"Fine then motorcycle magazines don't count for reading material either so I guess you won't mind if I..." Mike trailed off as he stood up and slowly made his way to the mouth of the kitchen, away from the table.
"Don' you dare touch my mags, Mike," Raph warned taking a swig from the glass of water in front of him.
"Or what, Raphie?" Mikey taunted taking more cautious steps back.
"Or I might have ta pound ya, knucklehead!" He yelled before jumping up then over the table laughing as his glass spilled and he toppled Mikey to the ground.
Anna laughed, Don and Leo stood up. Leo chuckled as his brothers wrestled around on the floor.
"Do you even know what a book is, Mike?" Raph growled playfully when he flipped over and pinned his little brother to the ground.
"Yeah I do, muscle brain!"
"Shell for brains!"
"Oh nice insult Raphie," Mike laughed. "Come on you green hobgoblin, you can do better than that!"
"Green hob - hey! You can't call me that!"
Don ran past Leo, laughing deep within his throat.
"Turtle pile!" He whooped before springing and jumping atop of Mike and Raph who let out an oomph in unison.
"Damn Donnie, you gotta cut out on those late night snacks in the lab, bro," Raph joked.
Leonardo looked over to Anna from where she stood behind Grace. Anna looped her arms around Grace and the child settled back against her from where she still stood on top of her chair. The teenager placed her chin on the child's shoulder and smiled at the turtles wresting and throwing playful insults at each other on the ground in front of them. Grace looked over at Leo and whispered in his mind.
Everything's going to be okay now, right Daddy?
Leonardo sighed and smiled, a warmth spread through his chest. A comforting, friendly warmth.
Yeah, Gracie, everything is going to be just fine now.
So yes, the mighty fall, the powerful tremble, the kings feel fear. All the Greats must bend to the will of others. They must bend to their hardships. Empires must crumble into nothing but dust and debris. The crumbs of dust must scatter with the wind and the debris must erode into nothing. It all must end because then it - everything, anything, all things - can be reborn from the ashes.
In the end, all must fall. For if you do not fall how can you know who will pick you up? Who shall raise you to greatness?
Thank you to all of you who read this. Keep a look out for more of my works :) I've got a few ideas on some more fanfics. It's been real, thanks everyone!
HAVE A GREAT DAY!