Chosen by Destiny
Yes! Cole will finally be healed by Luna but after that, there's gonna be a little bit of tension between them. Will they make things right again? Find out in this chapter!
BTW I'll also reveal which of the two remaining trials will be next! I'm sure a certain someone is already VERY pleased! ;)
Chapter 60: Healing Waters
Deep inside the grotto below the tiny islet, Nya, Lloyd, and Zane continued watching over Luna.
"Geez, what's going on in there?" Lloyd complained, being bored out of his mind with just Nya and Zane to talk to while the kunoichi of water was stuck in the spirit world.
"This is something for Luna to go through by herself." Zane reminded the green ninja what his grandfather said before the purple kunoichi began her trial, "She needs to learn to stand on her own if she is to obtain her peace of mind and regain her abilities."
"I know that," The boy in a teenaged body replied, "It's just that it's SO boring standing here."
"But we have to be careful," Nya said, "The Serpentine might be following us and while Luna's mind is in the spirit world, her body is vulnerable here. The same will happen with Heather and Aria when they face their trials. We have to be ready."
"But this place is very far from the mainland," Lloyd still complained, "It'll take days for them to reach here and the Bounty's already outside."
"That's true," The nindroid nodded, "but they still have the advantage in numbers. They could still overwhelm our brothers and sisters outside and reach us here."
The destined ninja opened his mouth to say something but no words came out.
A very bright glow coming from the symbol underneath Luna's feet.
"What's happening!?" The green ninja asked once he found his voice.
"Luna must've passed the Trial of Water," Nya answered, "Kai told me that I was like this when I passed the Trial of Metal."
"Then that means…" Lloyd's voice trailed off, already knowing the answer.
"Luna has finally regained her elemental powers and unlocked her true potential." Zane replied.
A flash of light coming from the symbol blinded the trio for a second and Luna was now back in the real world, revealing her true potential.
She floated just a little bit off the ground, her entire body shimmered like the surface of water and was illuminated in a variety of violet hues. She radiated with an aura that felt nurturing to the trio standing before her, like they were being nourished by fresh water.
Luna never felt so powerful before.
'So this is the gift I've denied even to myself…'
Within mere moments, her body returned to normal because she suddenly felt great fatigue.
"Luna, you passed your trial." Nya said while supporting her sister.
"I-I did…" The German girl sighed, her thick auburn bangs hiding her exhausted aqua eyes, "I'm now a true kunoichi…"
"So now what? Cole's still a snake and we're halfway done with the trials."
'Wait a minute! Cole!'
Luna realized that Cole was still a snake but now, she can finally save him.
"Cole! Is he still in the Bounty?"
"Yes." Zane answered like the robot he is.
"Bitte, I must go to him! I have to save him!"
The kunoichi of water gently pushed Nya away but could only take a few steps before she fell to her knees. Apparently, the kunoichi will each have to get used to being back in their own bodies after having their trials in the spirit world.
"Luna, you should get some rest." Zane suggested, helping her up.
"I-I know that… But I still have to save Cole…"
With the support of her teammates, Luna made her way back to the Bounty…
Jay never felt so 'empty' without Nya by his side.
To the lightning wielder, the former samurai meant everything to him.
For starters, she didn't mind his almost nonstop chattering most of the time. Second, she also loved inventing and mechanics just as much as he did and mostly, she just loved him for being himself. That was also why he was able to reach his true potential.
The blue ninja couldn't help but smile thinking about his girlfriend.
She truly was an amazing young woman.
Jay was so caught up with his thoughts he almost passed by the door leading to the boys' room where Cole kept himself locked up in since his transformation.
The lightning wielder cautiously approached the door, concerned for his changed brother.
There was no response from the other side, save for quiet hissing he could barely hear with his trained ears.
"Cole, I know you're in there," Jay knocked on the door, hoping that the earth ninja will answer him, "I also know what it's like to be turned into a snake. Come on, let me in."
"…No…" His leader's now slithery voice answered quietly from the opposite side of the door.
Although not as reckless as Kai, Jay lost his patience with Cole and tried to open the door, only to find out that it was locked.
"Dammit! Cole! Open the door!"
"Sssstay away! I'm only going to hurt you all!"
"What the hell is going on!?" Kai barged in, agitated by all the noise.
"Cole locked himself in!" Jay exclaimed while still banging at the door.
The voice of their leader reverberated from beyond the door.
"Cole! Open the freakin' door!" Kai, being an aggressive type, banged the closed door blocking his brother from the outside world.
"No! I'm only going to hurt you!"
The red ninja growled in aggravation and shoved Jay aside. He grasped the doorknob and used his fiery powers to heat up the metal.
Cole heard the hissing sound of metal being melted by flames. Kai was going to melt the knob and expose him and his hideous snakelike body to everyone.
And he'll end up hurting them.
"Sssstop! Don't do thissss! I don't want to hurt you!"
"Goddammit Cole! You're not going to hurt us!"
Once the knob was nothing more than a small puddle of molten metal, Kai barged in, followed by Jay, who had a slight look of understanding in his sapphire orbs.
"Don't look!" Cole backed up against the furthest corner of the room, raising his arms to cover his reptilian face, "Don't look at me!"
"Cole, we just want to help you. Luna's down in the grotto trying to find a way to save you!"
"Sssstop! Sssstay away or I will hurt you!"
"Enough with this crap! I don't care if you're a snake, you're still a ninja! Now quit being all emo and shit!" Kai lost his patience and grabbed his changed brother's wrist.
The black snakelike ninja raised his other claw and slashed Kai's chest, ripping some of the red clothes and unlike Jay, he managed to reach his flesh. The fire ninja backed away and hissed in pain, clutching his wound that already began to shed blood as red as his gi.
Cole was horrified by what he did.
He actually hurt Kai because he got close to him.
Not wanting to be near anyone anymore, the earth wielder shoved past the red ninja, trying to run away, but Jay had other plans.
"Oh no you don't!"
As fast as the lightning he controlled, Jay ran right in front of the human turned snake and held him down, trying not to get scratched like Kai did.
"Let me go!" Cole screamed, "I already hurt Kai! I don't want to hurt you too!"
"Cole, listen to me! Luna will find a way to help you like you did with her! Give her a chance!"
"I can't! She already went through ssssso much pain becausssse of me!"
"What do you mean!?" Kai also restrained Cole, not caring about his torn gi that now had stains that can't be discerned due to his clothes' already red hue.
"I chosssse to become a disssssgusssssting ssssnake ssssso she won't end up being taken by the enemiesssss but I sssstill ended up hurting her! Everything I've done have caussssed her pain!"
"Are you crazy!? You can't expect life as a ninja to be easy for her!" Jay exclaimed.
"But it'sssss ssssstill all my fault!"
The kunoichi, who were distracted from their training session from all the commotion, came in and saw Jay and a wounded Kai trying to hold down the dark anthropomorphic snake.
"What happened to you guys!?" Iris was flabbergasted by the ruckus before her.
Cole never felt so… vile… in his whole life.
He turned into a snake, which ended up causing more turmoil for Luna, he hurt Kai when he got close, and now, he was exposed to everyone in his new grotesque body.
"Guys! Where are you!?" Nya's voice echoed from beyond the halls.
Jay would've ran up to greet his girlfriend, but he was too busy keeping Cole restrained.
Iris was the first to run up to the deck and tell the others what went on…
"Cole did what!?" Lloyd was dumbfounded by what the kunoichi of time told him.
"I wasn't there but I'm sure he did! Kai's chest was bleeding and- "
Hearing that her brother was harmed was enough for the kunoichi of metal to rush inside with Lloyd and Zane following close behind, leaving the physically and mentally fatigued Luna on the deck. This was a very inappropriate time to add more stress to the once hypersensitive girl.
The sister of fire immediately noticed her sibling's bleeding chest.
"I'm fine," The brother of metal dismissed her before she could say anything but he can't hide the stinging pain as he continued to lose blood.
"Dude, you're not fine!" Lloyd exclaimed, "You're bleeding for god's sake!"
"Did Cole do this to you?" Aria asked, staring at her boyfriend's bleeding chest.
Cole would've tried to run away if it weren't for Jay and Kai holding him down.
"Let go of me!" The black snake didn't want to use his earth powers, fearing he would continue to hurt his brothers and sisters if he tries to escape.
"Cole! Get hold of yourself! Luna might be able to heal you!" Jay struggled to keep him in place.
"Kai, I think you should see Luna too. I detect a high probability she now has the ability to heal." Zane tried to get the ninja whose element opposed his to get his wound treated.
"Oh my goodness…!" A frail whisper reached the group from the end of the hall.
Standing before the ninjas was Luna, who was understandably shocked from the spectacle.
Cole couldn't deny great relief and pride that the sensitive girl overcame her fears and passed her trial but he dared not to make a single move.
He didn't want to keep hurting her or anyone else.
"Cole…" Luna calmly approached the snake who used to be her lover.
"Don't come any clossser, I don't want to hurt you more than I already did." Cole hissed but the kunoichi of water refused to back away. She finally found her true gift and she wanted to share it with the others.
Especially with Cole.
"Cole, please let me help you." Luna took one step closer but the snake backed off.
"Don't." The human turned snake tried to avoid looking at her with his slit pupils, "I caussssed ssssso much pain. I can't get clossssse or I'll hurt you."
"Cole… It's true I went through great pain because of you but it's also for that reason that I was able to accept being a kunoichi and I went through the Trial of Water so I can help you like you helped me before."
Not caring that he was now a snake, the aqua-eyed girl wrapped her thin arms around his scaly figure in a gentle embrace.
Cole was tempted to wrap his arms around her in turn but his fear of hurting her was greater.
"Please, give me a chance to help you like you did with me."
"Do you really want to do thissss? Esssspecially after all the troublesssss I causssssed for you?"
"Yes. As you said, things don't always go as planned and I was already destined to be a kunoichi. You were also the one who convinced me to accept who I was."
"I will heal you. Just give me a chance."
The human turned snake bit his thin lip, being careful not to sink his fangs into the small bit of flesh he had left in. Luna had always told the truth and her words were just as genuine.
"Do you really want to do this…?"
"Yes." She answered with all honesty.
Despite the serious situation, Luna couldn't help but blush redder than Kai's suit as she took off Cole's black gi, exposing his still muscular body with scales of a matching hue.
Luna, having just unlocked her true potential had already put it to use for the first time.
Her body glistening like clear water, she placed her hands on Cole's broad chest. She sought out the venom that flowed in his veins and knew what she had to do. It won't be pretty but she was no longer scared of her destiny. She was chosen to be a kunoichi but whether or not she fails is completely her choice. She can still control her destiny and she will prove herself.
Luna lifted one hand to create a floating mass of water in her palm and placed it again against her lover's broad chest as if the liquid seeped through the black scales.
I shall wash away the evil venom coursing deep within and cleanse him of this corrupted body.
Her voice echoed with an almost surreal serenity as she began the process of healing Cole.
Cole could feel the venom inside him being washed away.
It felt so… soothing.
The kunoichi of water was in deep concentration, using her new gift to heal him. She could feel the venom slowly but surely dissipate from the cleansing waters. She kept on using her powers until she could no longer feel the venom as it had finally dissolve into nothingness thanks to her new healing abilities.
But changing back into a human was NOT painless.
Cole screamed in agony feeling his body shift painfully. Luna and Zane had to hold him down as his body began to change.
Most painful was his bipedal legs shifting back into their normal posture because of the actual bones and muscles changing now that the venom was gone. It also felt excruciating to feel his tail recede back into the base of his spine until it was no more and even his claws shrinking back into fingernails left an unpleasant feeling in his hands. His emerald eyes also stung like he took eye drops as his slit pupils formed into their familiar round shapes. Even the 'frills' hurt as they shrunk back into human ears.
But the most significant change were the black scales disappearing, leaving behind human flesh that was slightly lighter than average.
Within a few minutes that felt like excruciating hours to Cole, he was finally human again. Once the venom's effects have disappeared, he opened his eyes to reveal round pupils. The very first person he saw was…
"Luna…?" The earth ninja looked at himself and saw actual flesh instead of scales.
"You… You saved me…?"
The kunoichi of water only answered with a smile that said more than any words could.
But using her true potential so soon took its toll on Luna and she ended up fainting shortly after she successfully cured Cole.
"Luna!" Heather rushed to her side and picked her up.
"Is she alright?"
Zane took a brief scan of her before concluding that she was suffering from extreme exhaustion from using her newfound powers so soon.
"Now what? Luna's done with her trial so what do we do now?" Jay asked.
"We're going back." Cole struggled to get up on his now human legs but collapsed. He'll have to get used to standing like a human again.
"Back where?" Lloyd inquired.
"Meerheim." The black ninja answered, having to be helped up by Kai and Zane, "I told Luna's mother we'll come back so she can see her daughter one more time before we leave."
"Okay. I set up the course." Nya obeyed and went to the control room to guide the Bounty.
Cole watched as Luna was carried by Zane and Jay towards the halls.
'She still saved me. Even though she knew what I did…'
He was grateful for Luna saving him but a small part of him feared he will still hurt her…
After the Trial of Water had ended, the Destiny's Bounty made its way back to Meerheim.
Kai was under the deck, inspecting his bare torso in front of the mirror in the bathroom.
His chest no longer hurt thanks to Luna's newfound healing powers but the slash marks looked like they would still be there for a while.
"Who is it?" The fire ninja asked, putting his gi back on in case it was one of the kunoichi.
"I gotta use the bathroom!" Lloyd complained from the other side.
"Knock yourself out." He muttered once he got out but the green ninja shut the door before he even bothered to say 'thanks'.
Even now, manners weren't exactly Lloyd's forte.
Kai went up to the deck and was greeted by a bright pink tornado zooming about.
The red ninja barely got out of the way when the human-sized twister came his way.
The tornado dispersed to reveal Iris. Behind her, the kunoichi clapped over her performance.
"What are you up to now?"
"I can really do Spinjitzu now!" The kunoichi of time smiled, "The kunoichi taught me!"
"Congrats." Kai commended her progress before moving over to stand next to Aria.
It felt like yesterday that it was just the guys and Nya training in a crappy apartment.
It was funny how fast time flies…
"Everyone…" Zane greeted the group from the door leading to the control room.
"What's up, Zane?" Heather greeted her nindroid lover.
"We're almost at Meerheim." He answered, "Afterwards, we'll depart for the next trial."
This time, Luna was looking forward to returning home.
Now that her powers have been restored, she didn't feel like a failure and she wanted to greet her mother in a more positive light.
The first thing the ninjas and kunoichi have done once docking the Bounty was head for Luna's house, where Mrs. Hoffman and Jewel waited for them.
Luna ran up and embraced her only parent, shedding tears of joy again.
Some things will never change.
"Luna! I'm so glad you're alright!" Mrs. Hoffman held her daughter like there was no tomorrow.
The mother of water stood back to also greet the ninjas and kunoichi but also noticed that Cole was no longer a snake like Zane described to her.
"Cole…! You're aren't a snake anymore!"
"It's thanks to Luna. She passed her trial to save me and she did."
The black ninja gave a sad smile in Luna's direction. The German girl returned it with a genuine one, but it only seemed to hurt him on the inside.
He still felt so much guilt looking back to how he got Luna involved in all this.
He still didn't want to keep hurting her…
Once again, Luna explained everything to her mother, from what happened during her trial, to cleansing the venom inside Cole's body, turning him back to a human.
"Oh Luna," Mrs. Hoffman still clung to her daughter like a lifeline, "I'm so proud of you, but I'm also scared of what may happen to you and the others in the future."
"To be honest, I'm scared too," The kunoichi of water confessed, "but I vow to stand strong so I can protect you and everyone. I also know that I can also count on Cole and the others."
"I-I-I don't know what to say… I always thought you wanted to be a singer…"
"I still do. But I learned that protecting Ninjago is more important. Once everything is all done, I might go back…"
A slight hint of sadness showed in her aquamarine eyes.
It wasn't that she didn't want to be a kunoichi since she now accepted her destiny. It's just that things probably won't be the same once Ninjago is saved.
Would she still want to pursue a career in singing once this was all over?
How will she readjust to life as an ordinary girl after such an extraordinary quest?
"Luna, listen to me." Mrs. Hoffman lifted her daughter's pale chin so that they were face to face with one another and look into their matching aquamarine eyes.
"No matter what you wish to do, no matter what path in life you'll take, as long as it makes you happy, then I'll be happy too. If you want to be a kunoichi, then I'll have nothing against it."
"Wow… do you really mean it…?"
"Mutter… danke schön."
Luna embraced her mother again as if she'll lose her if she lets go.
It was a very touching sight that made the other ninjas and kunoichi feeling nostalgic over their bonds with their families.
However, Lloyd could only feel jealousy bubbling up in his corrupted heart.
His dad was never there for obvious reasons and his mother just abandoned him.
But he wasn't in the mood to have another evil 'episode' and kept his envy to himself…
"Cole…" Mrs. Hoffman pulled away from her daughter to finally get a good look at the ninja of earth, "you're the brave man who sacrificed so much for my daughter…"
Cole nodded but still felt guilty for causing such pain for Luna when he 'recruited' her.
"Yes. But I shouldn't have dragged her into all this the way I did…"
"The past is in the past." The mother of water reminded him, "What has already transpired can never be changed. I can tell you both love each other dearly."
The earth ninja gave a very obvious blush, earning him some snickers from his brothers.
"My Luna went through so much to help you and she succeeded. I know you also love her and I have nothing against that either. I want for you two to be happy."
"But what about…?"
"Luna went through so much to save you. She is now a kunoichi out of her own free will. If she wants to be with you after going through so much, then I'll support her decision. Her happiness is my happiness."
Cole couldn't believe it.
Mrs. Hoffman allowed him and Luna to be together even though she knew what the latter went through because of him.
Cole smiled but on the inside, he was still beating himself up for the pain he caused for Luna…
After Luna bid her mother and Jewel a heartfelt farewell, the ninjas and kunoichi were back on the trail for the next trial.
"Since we're still in the general northern regions of Ninjago," Cole lectured everyone, pointing at their direct location on the map in the control room, "our next trial will be the Trial of Nature in the Deep Woods because it's closer."
"So our next stop is Arbouria." Nya concluded.
Heather was shaking on the inside.
It's been such a long time since she left her home to be a kunoichi, not counting the time when she rejected Zane and came home crying.
"Heather, I'm sure you want to see your family again." Zane placed a hand over her shoulder to comfort her.
"Yeah…" The English girl replied, placing her rosy hand over his.
Luna felt a little sad seeing the couple interact in such a way.
After leaving Meerheim, Cole became distant, almost like he no longer wanted to be with her.
She knew something was up and this time, she will find out…
Even though he now had her mother's approval for them to be together, Cole tried to distance himself from Luna. He loved her but he didn't want to keep hurting her.
The only way he knew how was to stay away from her, although it greatly hurt him to do so.
But he told himself it was for the greater good…
'Of all the…!'
Catching up to him in the hall, Luna wanted to get close to Cole, much to his slight chagrin.
"Cole, why are you acting so distant lately?"
"I… You won't understand…"
"But tell me anyway," Luna insisted, "At least give your honest reasons…"
Ever since she found her resolve, the kunoichi of water was more persistent but it didn't always work in Cole's favor…
"I… I can't get close to you…"
"Because I love you but I don't want you to get hurt!"
Luna was taken aback by his answer.
He may be responsible for dragging her into this whole mess but that didn't mean he caused all of the more unsavory events during her life as a kunoichi.
Instead, he helped the kunoichi of water accept her destiny and he never really hurt her.
She was going to make sure he knows that.
"Cole, I have been hurt before but it was never because of you."
"How can you say that!?" He asked incredulously, "After I robbed you of a perfect life!? After I caused so much heartbreak when I took the venom!?"
"Cole, you didn't do such things to hurt me. I finally realized that you wanted to be there for me like you promised. I went through my trial because of the encouragement you gave me. That's all you had to do for me to unlock my true gift."
"But I still caused so much- "
(*) "Genug." For the first time, Luna had cut him off.
"Cole, no matter what happens for the remainder of our journey, I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. I don't want you or anyone to get hurt and trying to stay away won't help one bit. I want you to know that too."
"Do you really mean all that?"
Like water nourishing the earth, Cole had finally felt loved. Luna truly loved him and his feelings for her were mutual. Staying away will only hurt her, not the other way around like he believed. There will be times Luna will have to stand on her own but he'll be there to protect her.
That he promised when they first met.
"Luna… I love you too, but I'm still not sure… after what I did…"
"Stop thinking about the past, Cole." The purple kunoichi brought her hand up to lightly caress the black ninja's bushy eyebrows, "None of this was your fault. You taught me that things don't always go as planned. We both could get hurt but we still have each other to mend our pain."
Cole could feel fear leave his heart as if it had been healed by Luna's words. His powerful arms wrapped around her slender waist as he held her willowy figure against muscular one.
"Luna… I also love you more than I fear hurting you. You have also made me realize that."
"So are we still together?"
Cole smirked before sealing Luna's lips with his own, putting all of his love into the kiss, which she earnestly returned. The kunoichi of water relished the taste of fresh strawberries while the earth ninja lost himself to the sweet fragrance of whipped vanilla until they needed air.
After their lips parted, orbs of emeralds and aquamarine were locked in a deep loving gaze.
"Ich liebe dich." Luna said with all her emotions poured into such a simple phrase.
"Je t'aime." Cole replied, his voice also emphasized with his love towards her.
The two shared another kiss and their bodies gave a slight glow, as if their true potentials were in tune with one another.
Just like a river being guided by the earth and the land being replenished by the water.
(*) Merci = Thank you (French)
(*) Genug = Enough (German)
Yup! So the Trial of Nature is next!
Be prepared for some serious drama between Zane & Heather, and a cameo of Claire and maybe Dr. Julien himself!