The Wars of Light and Shadow II: All Darkness Met

Epilogue

© 1998 by E. Liddell


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Almandite

It was a double wedding. We might have made it a triple, but Zoisite refused to ever dress like a woman again for any reason.

We decided to have it on Earth, not in the Negaverse, although Malachite would have been more than happy to preside. Amber wanted as normal a ceremony as possible, considering the guest list, and the rest of us didn't much care either way. She and Jadeite had to make the arrangements, though. If word had gotten out that Maxfield Stanton was getting married, we would have had a media circus on our hands, and that was the last thing that any of us wanted.

The ring that Nephrite slid onto my finger was fine, heavy gold. It had to be thick, since it was quite possible that our marriage would last long enough for the band to experience a considerable amount of wear and tear. I knew that Jadeite had commissioned a similar ornament for Amber, for much the same reasons.

I scanned the room as we turned to face out into the... audience? Not a congregation, anyway. We had insisted on a civil ceremony. It was easier, given that Amber didn't share a religious background with me or our respective new husbands.

Malachite and Zoisite had gotten the best seats. I had expected that. Jasper was over a little to their left, with Mina beside him. I don't know who had been most surprised when they discovered that they liked each other's company: him, her, or Amber, who still persisted of thinking of him as a child in a man's body. Darien and Serena sat with the other Scouts. Raye had brought Chad with her, and Amy had brought Greg. Lita was alone. Melvin had brought Zantisa, of all people. That showed every sign of becoming a very interesting relationship. The rest of the room's population consisted of a handful of prominent youma, all in their human forms and on their best behavior. And there was one other person at the back. The only one I had invited. The one person in the world that I needed desperately to talk to.

I separated myself from the well-wishers as quickly as I dared to in order to catch her. She had begun pushing her way toward the doors almost before the ceremony was finished.

"Mrs. Baker?" I said to her. "I'm Amanda Stanton. If you don't mind, I'd like to speak to you privately for a moment..."

Amber

It was, in the end, more than I ever could have hoped for, although the results of my little adventure weren't an unmixed blessing. Where Almandite was choosing to patch up a few leftover relationships from her old life, I had decided to make a clean break with mine. I hadn't left anyone behind who was important enough to me to risk explaining what had happened to Jasper, anyway. At least my son was slowly regaining his memory, although his personality would always contain a broad streak of Negaverse General. Perhaps that was just as well. I might even have been able to do with a bit of it myself. I hadn't expected this marriage to come with a full-blown job description attached, but that was exactly what had happened.

<<Penny for your thoughts.>>

My wrist stung where Jadeite had just brushed against it. A small, bony spur had just broken through the skin there a few days ago, and the flesh around it was abnormally sensitive. I had similar protuberances on my shoulders, as well, and my ears had grown blunt points, apparently as a side effect of my having absorbed Beryl's power. We still weren't quite certain how that had happened. Zoisite had guessed that it had somehow come about because Beryl and I were so closely related, our blood had mingled on her spirit crystal as she was dying, and we had both been transfixed by the killing weapon, a spear that had also been a magical manifestation. In short, it was a fluke.

I suspected that, by the time I was done, I was going to have fangs as well. Fortunately for my peace of mind, my eyes and hair were still the same color as they had always been, and showed no signs of changing, although the hair, at least, was growing abnormally fast and now fell to my shoulders. Jadeite and I had enough troubles without my turning into a clone of my late sister. That didn't mean that I looked the same as I always had, though, even if one ignored the ears. The changes were subtle, and I rather liked them. I'd never been beautiful before.

<<I was just wondering what it's going to be like, working for Malachite -- excuse me, King Malachite,>> I stated in response to Jadeite's comment.

He grinned, a carefree expression I had never suspected that I would be able to inspire. <<'Challenging' would probably be the most polite description.>>

<<Ah.>> I winced as a sudden pain stabbed at me.

<<Are you all right?>>

<<Fine. Just... the usual.>> My transition from human to Crystal Weaver had not been an easy one so far. I was too old, a grown woman, and my body was too inflexible to accept my new power with grace. A few days after the battle with Beryl, I had fainted in the middle of breakfast. When I had come to, Jadeite and Almandite were pouring healing energy into my aching chest. They told me later that my heart had stopped. Fortunately, it appeared that I was now past the crisis point. Almandite would have delayed the wedding, otherwise. <<It's just that this damned dress is too hot.>>

<<Just that the damned room is too hot, you mean. It doesn't much matter what you're wearing. Consider yourself fortunate that you only have your own discomfort to deal with. I'm getting it in multiples of five, and I hate to think what Malachite must be suffering.>>

There was a moment of silence, during which I watched Jasper and Mina. It was difficult to believe that this self-assured young man with the blonde girlfriend was really my son.

<<Jadeite?>>

<<Mmm?>>

<<Do you think that, trite as it sounds, we're going to live happily ever after?>>

<<In all honesty, no. Nothing's ever that simple. But I think we'll have enough happiness together to make the "ever after" worth living, don't you?>>

The End

(for now...)


Afterword

This really was supposed to be the end, when I wrote it. The total and ultimate end. And then I realized that I'd left a few loose ends untied, one reaching back into the past, the others snaking forward into the future. So I'm not quite done yet. (Ha! Understatement of the decade.) And thus, there are going to be two more stories set in this universe. One, which is, as I write, some 3/4 finished, is going to be a prequel, covering events from the end of the Empyrean War up to a point a few hours before the prologue to the original "Wars of Light and Shadow". Probably. The other will be a sequel, beginning some six years years after "All Darkness Met". It may be a little while before any of that gets posted, although, since the prequel consists of four nearly-independent parts, I may send in the first one or two before the fourth is finished.

Sayonara until then!


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