Today was a significant day. Firstly it was the last day of my family thanksgivings for the year. Secondly I came home and wrote the final chapter to the novel. The other night when I wrote the last bit to get over the finish line, I simply was not in the right frame of mind to write the closing chapter. Today however after spending the day with family, I decided it was as good a time as any to write the “happy ending”. The novel has come to a conclusion, but the story is far from over.
If you are feeling like you want to catch up, here is the story that has gone before. I have edited nothing.
- Shadowed Stone
- Little Giant Girl
- Birthday Wishes
- The Gifts
- The Incursion
- The Watch
- Rough Landing
- Dragon Bone
- People of the Storm
- The Lady
- Cambridge Beneath
- Prisoner of War
- Parting the Veil
- People of the Earth
- The Pack
- Brittagus Escape
- The Lightskimmer
- The Nightlords
- Best Laid Plans
- The Siege
- Rising Light
- The Puppeteer
29 – New Beginnings
Bethilda stepped through the threshold of the waygate station deep below the streets of avalon. Stepping out into the platform she joined Pico and Berrol who were saying goodbye to Bemel. In the weeks after her rescue she had watched as Bemel took a shining to the young boy, much the same as Pico had apparently done not long beforehand. The boy was very special, and in him rested the hopes of better times. Bethilda had reached out to her connections in Brittagus but the news was not good at all. It seems as though shortly after her escape from the island city, Astanax was publicly beheaded as a warning to any other dissenters. With him died the access to the hidden waygate, as well as the hopes of the Order of Merlin.
Pico had confessed that she was the creator of the weapons that the humans used to attack the members of the Elfen court. There were a few shouts and harsh words back and forth, but they had all come to a point of understanding. Things were changing in the shadowlands and Bethilda felt that new and greater threats were on the rise from the forces of winter. As a result she had proposed the founding of the Summer Alliance, and with Pico representing humanity they worked through the details of a treaty. The Ward Watch, now would protect not only humanity but the forces of good in the shadowlands.
After the events leading to Pico’s rapid exit, no one was really certain where Brittagus stood on these matters. They remained as isolated and xenophobic as ever, and in the past weeks managed to close the borders to even the Valkore traders who freely entered and exited the ports before. Battle lines were being drawn, but Bethilda was not concerned. The combined forces of the Elfen, Valkore, Wildfae and Sasquatch came back from the fields of battle victorious. With the addition of the humans, she knew they were as strong as any standing alliance had ever been in the nightlands.
As Bethilda stepped forward towards the trio they turned to face her, stopping their conversation. “No need to stop on my accord.” She said with a smile on her face. “It is nothing, Bemel was just saying goodbye” Pico said reaching down and ruffling Berrol’s hair. “I do hate to see you leaving, I feel there is much we can learn from each other.” Bethilda responded reaching out her hand to the shorter human. “Commander Farragut will be wanting a debriefing, and I am sure he will scold me for entering into this agreement without his consent. I am sure after he has heard all the details, and especially after you provided me my sample of dragon bone…” she said while lifting up the metal case at her side “.. I am sure he will come to see it my way as well.”
“You are welcome in Avalon at any time, and I look forward to reading your reports.” Bethilda knelt down “You too are welcome anytime you wish to come back Berrol.” The little boy ran over and gave her a hug turning around to look at Pico “We can come back to visit Aunt Beth can’t we Pico?” Pico shook her head “I am sure we can, I will want to study their library for information about the original Order of Merlin and scour it for any information about the wards after all” she said winking at Bemel. Was it Bethilda’s imagination or were the two of them flirting? Bemel was afterall a handsome man, but had never really shown interest in a particular woman. She thought to herself that it was probably good for him after recent events.
Pico took Berrol in hands, and Bemel walked over to the wall, placing his palm on a cyan stone embedded there. There was a purple mist that formed in the center of the chamber and within seconds it had condensed into a crack. From the edges of the crack poured a bright purple light before it finally opened into a oval shape, showing the corresponding chamber in the other world. Standing there was a man who Bethilda assumed was Commander Farragut. Pico said her final goodbyes and together she stepped with Berrol through the opening. The fissure sparkled and then she was standing on the other side conversing with the man. Bemel removed his hand and the way began to close eventually sputtering out in a puff of purple mist.
“I never took you for the ambassador Bemel” she said as she winked at him. Bemel blushed brightly for a moment and then simply responded “I have no idea what you are talking about, I was just showing Pico around our fair city.” Beth nodded as she grabbed his arm and proceeded down the corridor, and back into the main palace complex. The walked through a long shaft with Elfen Pikemen posted in pairs every few feet. As they passed the pair would straighten up and bring their spear across their chest in a salute. Bethilda realized that it would be disrespectful for them to not do it, but she always found the pomp of being the Queen intolerable. She missed the times she would sneak away to visit Jace at the farm, but she realized that the danger it posed would no longer be allowed.
Similarly it was no longer safe for Jace to return to the world of the humans either. Now that it was known he was the prince, others would be trying to get to him as well… and that was something she simply could not allow. The events had brought more than a few harsh realities to bear. She was however thankful that Kayle had decided to stay with him here in Avalon. Over the weeks spent rescuing her, it seems as though their friendship had blossomed into something more. For as brutish and unrefined as Kale could be, the girl had a softness to her, especially when it came to Jace or Dimcy. As far as the firesprite was concerned they were not inseparable as Kale had a permanent resident of her shoulder.
As they walked together through the corridor she turned to look at Bemel. “I will not be joining you in the audience chamber, I am stopping off at the infirmary first.” Bemel looked at Bethilda and nodded. “I assumed you might, do you want me to come with you?” He said grasping his sisters arm, giving it a gentle squeeze. “No I will be fine” Bemel shoot her a look of incredulity for a moment but Bethilda shook her head. “No really, I will be fine… I just need to see him.” Bemel nodded again letting go of her arm. They passed through an archway, and to the left the path split, and Bethilda turned down it. Bemel continued on towards the audience chamber hoping she would find some peace.
Bethilda walked down a dim corridor, there were no guards along this one, and she was actually thankful for the quiet. It seemed as though almost everyone was doing better after the events at Fort Kraken, but there was one glaring exception. While she had been rushed out of the Fort in an attempt to protect her and her son, the Summer Alliance crawled over the keep leaving no stone unturned. Deep within the basement they found a chamber filled with a myriad of cruel instruments, all designed to torture both the body and the mind. It was within this chamber that they found him, half dead, slumping against the chains that bound him to the wall. The best healers the court had to offer tried their best to bring him back. Even the Sasquatch shaman healer Torklah failed to improve his condition.
Bethilda had ordered a room for him here in the infirmary, and she tried to make it as comfortable as she could. As she stood at the doorway to the chamber she looked at the once proud man now laying broken on the bed. She felt a tear sliding down her cheek as walked through through the doorway. She took a seat on the bed beside him as he lie there perfectly still other than the slow labored breaths. She took his hand in hers and squeezed it tight. “Benj my love, I am here… can you hear me?” she pleaded as she peered down into his glassy stare. She began to weep softly as she waited as always for a response, only to hear nothing but his ragged breaths.
She laid down across his chest, wrapping her arms around him. “Please come back to me…” she said softly. She had always regretted their decision, and never did more than now. She wanted to protect her son, and she felt the only way to do this was to disguise who he was. While she would work to repair the relationship between them, she could never buy back the days she lost with her beloved. “You just have to come back… I need you” she wept into his chest. She laid there like this for a good amount of time sobbing when she felt something she did not expect. She looked down to her side to see Benj’s hand had moved up slightly to rest upon her, with his fingertips spread out grasping her.
She exclaimed “You are still in there aren’t you!” She reached down grasping the hand and slowly his fingers grasped around hers. He was recovering slowly, she was certain of it. Benj had always been resilient, and he was trying desperately to come back to her. She looked up at his face and his eyes were closed with his mouth fixed in an expression of determination. “I will wait however long it takes” she said softly as his expression relaxed a bit and his hand fell loose at his side. She lay there listening to his heart beat with renewed strength. She would wait for eternity for him to be back at her side. They could be a real family this time, like she had always wanted them to be. Even if it meant war, she would do anything to protect them and keep him safe.