And here it is. Our final chapter. Thank you Karxrida, Kauris Azurai, Tatopatato, Zero1313, DatFennekinTho, nobodyreallyimportant, boredommaster, rotomknight, Antex-The Legendary Zoroark, Blue Wisteria4273, Calculated Whim, DarkLordMephiles, Guest4, and DatGreninjaBoyy for reviewing last chapter.
Epilogue: The End
Taylor straightened his tie and took a deep breath. The television screen in the living room flickered. A reporter spoke over images of Yveltal soaring above Lumiose: "Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the battle. Champion Dianthe has prepared a speech in honor of the event."
The scene changed. Dianthe stood at a podium. Drasna and Wikstrom stood behind her. Wikstrom looked stern; Dianthe's expression appeared more subdued. The two newest members of the Elite Four stood off to the side, the male stiff with his arms folded behind his back, the female slightly more relaxed, her eyes slowly traveling over the audience.
Someone knocked on the door.
Taylor clicked off the television and opened it.
Hailey grinned. "Hey, Professor!"
"You make it sound like I've taken over for Professor Sycamore."
"Well, you are a professor now." Hailey tilted her head. "Ready to go? Your new job awaits."
"Yeah. Wait, one moment." He poked his head into his bedroom. "Eve, are you okay with staying here alone for the day?"
The chespin gave him an exasperated look.
"I know, I know, I've talked to you about this already. Just wanted to make sure." He turned and left.
Hailey said, "I knew you'd be a good trainer."
"Not a trainer." Taylor locked the door behind him. "I'm just someone who owns a pokemon."
"I suppose. But whatever happened to that absol? You never actually told me."
"Who knows?" He supposed it wasn't technically a lie.
He and Hailey walked quietly through the streets of Lumiose towards the college. Taylor smiled tiredly. Somehow, the lively city hadn't seemed nearly as exciting after he'd returned.
Hailey nudged him. "What are you thinking about?"
"Things? Oh. Right. This is the day Zygarde first appeared."
"Kind of a shame we didn't get to be there to see it, huh?"
Taylor almost laughed. Instead he flashed a crooked smile. "I guess we just weren't meant to be a part of legends." He lapsed into silence.
Someone shouted, "Look out!"
Taylor turned in time for a young woman to stumble into him, sending books and paper flying everywhere.
Hailey asked, "Are you alright?"
The woman said almost simultaneously, "I am so sorry, sir." She bent down to collect her belongings.
"It's not a problem. I—is that a sneasel?"
The dark-type glanced up from where she helped her trainer collect her supplies.
Taylor squashed the squeamish feeling in his stomach. "Nothing. Here, let me help you."
Hailey sighed and knelt beside him.
"I'm really sorry, again," the woman said, blushing furiously. "I was just in a hurry, and I wasn't looking where I was going."
Hailey smiled. "Don't worry, we're used to worse."
Taylor stiffened when he read the title of one of the books. "Mythology of the Kalos Region?"
"Yes. It's one of my classes this semester."
"I guess that means I'll be seeing you in class, then."
"Oh gosh, you're the professor?" The woman buried her face in her hands.
"And author of the book. Yes."
Hailey cleared her throat.
"But don't worry! You're not in trouble."
Hailey said, "I'll see you later, Taylor. I've got to get to my job." She waved and left.
Taylor tried to hand the book back to the young woman and, when she didn't remove her hands, instead passed it to her sneasel. "What's your name?"
"Amanda Bryant, sir."
He waved away the sir. "So, you're interested in myths, Amanda?"
"Um, sort of." She uncovered her face, though it still burned red. "I'm mostly taking the class because I wanted to learn about the Marked girl."
Taylor stiffened. "You don't say."
Amanda nodded. "I remember hearing a bit about her when I was younger, but I never got to learn much about it. Kind of strange to think I lived through such momentous events and never realized it."
Taylor nodded absently and silently debated with himself. He stood and offered a hand. "Come on. We both should be getting to class."
"Oh, goodness, right!" Amanda accepted his hand.
The sneasel watched him warily.
Taylor shifted away and said, "I was older than you were when this happened. Perhaps I can fill you in a little bit about the Marked girl ahead of time."
Amanda's eyes lit up. "Really?"
Taylor nodded. "But just so you know, her story isn't just her own. It's also the story of an ancient king. Of a cursed prince and his lover. Of a loyal friend who wasn't what he seemed. And of one myth-obsessed boy way out of his depth."
Amanda suddenly looked dubious. "This sounds more like a fairytale."
Taylor shrugged good-naturedly. "What can I say? When we weren't there, sometimes we have to fill in the gaps."
-Absol bounded up the mountainside. He stopped and glanced back the way he'd come. The rocks stretched far down below him. Clouds passed over the treetops. The sun shone in the clear blue sky. A crisp wind stirred Absol's fur, and despite the chill, he knew there was nowhere else he'd rather voice.
A female voice asked, "Light, do you have any news?"
Absol sighed. "Stop calling me that."
"You shouldn't have told me your real name if you didn't want me using it." Eris sat on top of a rock, arms folded across her legs, smiling.
Absol shook his head. "Things have mostly gotten back to normal again. Finally."
Eris didn't laugh—in fact, Absol didn't think he'd heard her laugh since she'd been Marked again—but her eyes crinkled in a way that made it seem like she could. "Looks like all our hard work has paid off."
Absol snorted. The past ten years had been difficult—he and Eris hadn't been very welcome by humans, in general, and so were forced to relegate their efforts to restore balance and peace to the background. Absol often used his horn to discern where trouble was most likely to interfere with restoration efforts, and then headed it off. Eris had experimented with her Mark, and while she could do nothing for the shattered lives and homes, she could create a small sort of equilibrium in the natural world, using her Mark to quell disputes with subtle interference and calm a raging mind.
And Zygarde, of course. The new legendary had taken some time to adjust to his new abilities, but eventually had discovered his powers were largely a magnified version of Eris's, only with the added ability to give 'balance' to nature, as well, whether that was to cause destruction or bring life.
Eris asked, "Do you ever regret it?"
"Choosing to follow us. We intended to go away by ourselves, you know."
"I know." He considered his answer. "No. I don't regret this. After all, who better to learn balance from than the being of balance himself?"
"You said something similar before."
"And my opinion hasn't changed."
Eris nodded, a thoughtful look on her face.
"And you? Today marks—"
And Absol recalled that, despite how long she still looked, she had grown older in the time she'd worked with Zygarde. He wondered how to ask the questions he really wanted to ask: How do you feel about never being able to interact with humans? Do you regret the decisions you made? Do you still grieve for what you lost? Have you healed?
Have you found your balance?
A rumble and the clatter of stones announced Zygarde's arrival before he appeared. His head snaked out of the cave, crest flaring behind him, patterns alternatively glowing and fading on his body. "Hello, Eris. Absol?"
Eris stood. "Everything's alright. He just wanted to let us know that things are starting to get back to normal."
And looking at them—Eris smiling, her expression and posture light, her Mark faintly glowing, and Zygarde, head lowered so he could be closer—Absol realized he didn't need to ask any of those questions. He already had his answer.
-Lysandre stared across the mist-filled field, his arms resting against his legs. He sat, his back facing Jada. The black-haired woman rested a few paces away, playing gently with the flowers.
Lysandre tilted his head to the unseen sky and wondered what was happening in the world now, and how much time had passed.
Jada ventured, quietly, "Lysandre?"
He turned, surprised.
Jada didn't look at him, but he caught a glimpse of her expression: sad and tired, but a little less weary than it had been. "Do you remember the garden in the castle?"
He nodded, then, remembering she wasn't looking, added, "Yes."
"It was so beautiful. Full of exotic flowers in all colors, arranged carefully by your father's hand. The fountain was beautiful, but I think my favorite place was still in the flowerbeds. Sometimes small pokemon would come in to visit."
Lysandre almost said something, then closed his mouth and looked away.
"Actually, no. Back then, my favorite place was always walking beside you."
Lysandre started. "Jada?"
She didn't speak for a moment, looking down at her lap. "Your story. What happened, the years you spent alone. I'd like to hear it."
Something inside him lifted. His shoulders felt lighter, no longer carrying the weight of all the death he'd caused, and for a moment, he was the young Kalos prince again, waiting in the garden.
He stood and offered Jada a hand.
"Once upon a time, there were two pokemon…"
Perhaps everything will be alright, in the end.
That's it, then. Ghost of Oblivion has finally come to a close. Now, there's going to be a bit of a longer author's note after this, but first, review responses from last chapter:
Karxrida: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Also, I just noticed the FanFic Rec. on Tv Tropes page. Thanks!
Kauris Azurai: Haha, glad I could surprise you.
Tatopatato: Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it so much.
Zero1313: Haha, possibly. And they're starting to figure things out, though they might take a little while to truly come to an accord.
DatFennekinTho: Haha, indeed. And yeah, it's been a fun ride.
nobodyreallyimportant: Sadly, no hot springs here, but yes, Absol acted as a wonderful red herring.
boredommaster: Yeah, me too. (Maybe then I'd actually know more about what he could do…) There's always hope for the likely Pokemon Z, though. (Crossing my fingers.)
rotomknight: Thank you! I tried using a time skip to kind of cover things, and hoped that worked out okay, since covering everything would be another story unto itself. And I'm glad that that worked out well!
Antex-The Legendary Zoroark: Thanks!
Blue Wisteria4273: He's finally got things sorted out! And thanks.
Calculated Whim: The chapter actually would've ended up longer, but I found myself pressed for time. In hindsight, it might've been better to split it into two extra-long chapters, but, well…stubbornness is an issue of mine. But, yeah, you did sort of call it!
DarkLordMephiles: Thank you so much! It's great to hear you've enjoyed this story and that you liked the characters! Those two were definitely a lot of fun to write.
Guest4: To an extent. Still some fixing up to do, but things are mending. Ah, kind of used a time skip because the damage control would probably take more than just an epilogue to cover, so I'm hoping you still enjoyed the chapter.
DatGreninjaBoyy: Haha, well, he was mostly concerned about keeping things under control.
Whenever I finish a story, it's always a little bit sad and strange. For me, at least. But it's also somewhat rewarding. I have to say thank you, to everyone who followed this story, and for both the praise and the constructive criticism. Getting feedback from you guys was always incredibly encouraging and helpful. So, I'd like to say:
Thank you Y-ko, Jewel, Kat, LeTantris, Antex-The Legendary Zoroark, YoshiEmblem, Someone, Kauris Azurai, The Mega Gallade, Pokefan56, jordanobx, Ace of Snipers, Blue Wisteria4273, TinytheEspeon, Transmorphic Wyvern, Something dictionary related, KrazyKoldKyurem613, Phairis, Gabby M, FrankZTank13, monsterkiddo, ChrystalDragon, red the lugia, ColdGoldLazarus, Stolloss, BlackRitual, Calculated Whim, StarShine65, Cottonmouth25, Spacemarine64, Blakzer, A Furry Cat, I have a dictionary here, boredommaster, YveltalRayquaza, Lief, VoreMistress, DatGreninjaBoyy, churchill, Khimeira, nobodyreallyimportant, denis.d2505, DatFennekinTho, The shadows only want to play, Karxrida, neaucleareactor5, Tatopatato, catilena1890, Sazq, sileaf, Duh, Phpu, Brittany, Rotomknight, 23StellaOrgana, ReBein, pokefactsoftheday, meh, R. Moonstalker, Earthboundfan2, DarkLordMephiles, Guest4, and the various anonymous reviewers for reviewing over the course of the story!
Thank you, as well, to everyone who favorited, alerted, or just read the story!
This is probably going to be my last long fanfiction for a while, which is a little strange in and of itself. However, I know my fall's going to be very busy, and I have a personal project that I need to get fixed up. I might still make appearances with one-shots and reviews, though.
I hope you all enjoyed this last chapter, and enjoyed the ride! So, this is the last time I'll ask for Ghost of Oblivion: review?