Chapter 33: Evaluation

"What should we do now?" asked Ingrid, as the family proceeded to walk back across the yard towards the house.

"Now?" asked Seth. "I think now we can finally relax. Now that Nemenemi is gone, we don't have to worry about her anymore. Do we?"

"What do you mean?" asked Ingrid. "She was banished to Hell, was she not?"

"What do you mean that Nemenemi was banished to Hell?" asked Mr. Sorenson, as the family made their way into the house through the front door.

As everybody made their way into the living room, the group explained to the others exactly what had transpired during the course of the battle.

"That's most unusual," said Grandpa. "Helwic really accumulated so much energy, that she was able to open up a passage to Hell?"

"Yeah!" exclaimed Warren. "Nemenemi tried to fly away on her manticore, but even that thing was powerless to escape the crevice. It was like some unseen force was pulling them in."

"It's like nothing any of us have ever seen," said Bright. "This crevice just opened up, sucked Nemenemi and her manticore in, then sealed itself back up."

"So where's Nemenemi now, then?" asked Mrs. Sorenson. "Has she been imprisoned underneath Fablehaven? Like Bahamut?"

"It's hard to say," said Clover. "Murdred did specifically request for Helwic to banish Kendra to Hell. And while the banishment spell may have hit the... *ahem* wrong target, its purpose and intention should not have been any different."

"I've gotta ask something," said Seth. "Is there really a Hell? I mean, I know the Demon Domain is pretty Hellish in its own right, and that the Netherworld is an afterlife for demons. But is there actually a Hell as we perceive it? I'm talking about an underground inferno where people are tormented by devils with pitchforks."

Grandpa scratched his chin. "You know, it's hard to say. There's been no concrete proof that it exists. Likewise, there's no proof that it doesn't exist."

"Well, that banishment spell had to have sent Nemenemi somewhere," said Bracken. "Unless she really is imprisoned in some cave beneath Fablehaven."

"Perhaps, if there isn't actually a Hell," said Grandma, the banishment simply transported Nemenemi to whatever Helwic envisioned as Hell."

"I think Helwic's idea of Hell would be imprisonment in the Fairy Kingdom," said Warren.

"I know how we can find out where Nemenemi may have ended up," said Seth. "I can just look for her using the Oculus!"

Bright sighed. "As good an idea as that may seem, it's always been incapable of locating darkness. Even if she's still somewhere within the mortal world."

"I've always thought of Hell as being some lava-filled cavern deep underground," said Warren. "Real or not, perhaps Nemenemi got sent to a place like that."

"If that even is where Nemenemi wound up," said Ingrid, "how's she supposed to even get out?"

"How would you even survive down there?" asked Seth. "Not only is there no food or oxygen, but the temperature of magma is lethal. Nothing like the lukewarm lava we've encountered throughout the Demon Domain."

"We could be discussing about where Nemenemi ended up all day," said Grandpa. "The truth is, none of us actually know."

"Well," said Bright, "Might I suggest that we inquire about an inspection of the grounds?"

"An inspection?" asked Grandma.

"Yeah. Just to check and make sure that everything here is in order. It wouldn't cause any actual harm, and if there is something undesirable that was left in the wake of the battle, we'll know about it."

"Also," said Clover, "we don't know the extent of what those bubbles could have done to any of you."

"The bubbles?" asked Seth. "They were pretty terrifying. But I feel fine now. Don't you, Warren?"

Warren nodded. "I think the cure for being inside one of those bubbles is simply getting out."

"We don't know if there are any residual effects thought," said Clover. "And who knows how Skyfrost and Firesquall could react to them."

"Let's head back outside," said Bright. "I'm going back to the Fairy Kingdom to seek assistance. "I'll be back shortly."

Bright then vanished in a cloud of rainbow sparkles.

"Come on," said Bracken. "We can meet up with Bright outside when she gets back."

The group then got up and made their way back outside, to where the battle had taken place.

"How long do you think she'll be?" asked Ingrid.

"She should've asked for the Translocator," said Warren. "Now she's gotta take the long way around by passing through the fairy shrine, finding whomever she's looking for, and having to double back."

As the group waited, a number of fairies gathered around the family, along with Stargleam, Windshear and the reindeer. A minute or so later, Bright appeared before the group. Accompanying her were Bravia, Brook, Tiara and Opal.

Once everybody had finished exchanging greetings, the four fairy angels walked up towards the spot where Stargleam and Windshear were standing.

"Who are you?" asked Stargleam, as she bent her head down and gently placed her horn upon Bravia's shoulder. "You seem special. Even for a fairy angel."

"I don't mean to boast," said Brook, "but the two of us really are special. We're the Fairy Queen's other sisters."

Bravia and Brook both transformed into their unicorn forms. To match their standard fairy colors, Bravia sported a silvery fur coloration, while Brook was crystalline with a blueish hue.

"You're unicorns!" gasped Stargleam. "That's incredible!"

Windshear nodded, then spread out both of his wings.

"A pegasus!" gasped Brook. "Brillia mentioned you, but I had to see it to believe it."

"At least you're not alone, Stargleam," said Windshear. "There are no other pegasi out there. Too bad I can't bring good fortune upon myself."

"Don't let it get you down," said Bravia. "Before you came along, we all thought there were no pegasi left whatsoever. Who knows. Maybe there's more out there somewhere."

"And even if there aren't, it doesn't matter to me," said Stargleam. "I care about you, regardless of whether you possess wings or a horn."

Bright then cleared her throat. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I brought the four of you fellow fairy angels here for a reason."

"Of course," said Opal. "That is why we came."

"Two reasons, actually," said Tiara.

"That's correct," said Bracken. "We need to inspect the grounds for what could have happened to Nemenemi, as well as everybody who had been trapped in one of those bubbles."

"We can split the duties between the four of us," said Bravia, as she and Brook returned to their fairy avatars. "Tiara, you and I can inspect everyone. Brook and Opal, check out the grounds."

"Okay," said Brook, as a shimmering blue glow appeared around her body. Likewise, a purple glow suddenly surrounded Opal. The two fairies then held their hands out in front of themselves and proceeded to walk around on the lawn.

"What are they doing?" asked Ingrid.

"They kind of remind me of zombies," said Seth. "The way they're walking."

"Hardly," said Clover, as Brook and Opal continued to saunter across the grass. "They're trying to detect Nemenemi, if she's anywhere to be found at all. Just as a precaution."

"And that leaves the rest of you," said Bravia. "Now, who here was contained within a bubble?"

Seth, Ingrid, Warren and Bracken all held up their hands.

"There was also Firesquall and Skyfrost," said Warren.

"I'll go and get them," said Clover. "Be right back."

Clover then vanished in a cloud of green sparkles. Seconds later, Skyfrost and Firesquall both came soaring towards the group, coming from the direction of their cave. Flying behind them was Clover.

"Okay, we're here," said Skyfrost, as he and his brother landed in front of everybody. "Raxtus and Geminus are taking it easy with Vanessa."

"Boy, that was fast," said Seth.

"We didn't have to travel very far," said Firesquall. "And we are wyverns. This was nothing."

"That's what has us concerned," said Tiara. "You two are wyverns. And with all due respect, wyverns do not normally associate themselves with light or darkness. They are aggressive, predatory creatures."

"Hardly," said Seth. "These wyverns are the greatest!"

"They're both very young," noted Bravia. "Their true instinct has yet to develop."

"How old are you two, anyway?" asked Kendra.

"Thirteen," replied Skyfrost. "We're twins."

"Fraternal twins, to be precise," said Warren.

"Thirteen is a very young age for dragons," said Bracken. "These two are going to get a lot larger when they grow up. Like Revlogg."

"But I don't want the wyverns to change," said Seth, placing his hand against Skyfrost's wing. "I like them just the way they are."

"It'll take many years for them to mature," said Tiara. "But it'll happen. And there's nothing anybody can do to stop it."

Skyfrost and Firesquall both stared at each other for a moment.

"We won't really become more ferocious, will we?" asked Firesquall.

"What will we do?" asked Skyfrost. "If we get to be too dangerous, we'll have to leave the preserve!"

"We may have to go to one of those dragon sanctuaries," said Firesquall. "Remember what Raxtus told us about Wyrmroost?"

"Calm down," said Clover. "Nobody's going anywhere. At least not for the time being. Look, you all need to be examined to make sure that the bubbles had no lingering effects on you. And as Tiara was saying, they could be more susceptible to darkness."

Bravia then stood in front of Skyfrost, while Tiara did the same with Firesquall.

"Here goes," said Bravia, as a silvery glow encased her entire body. Tiara nodded, and an orange glow appeared around her.

Bravia then expelled her aura onto Skyfrost, while Tiara did the same with Firesquall. Everyone watched as a silvery glow encompassed Skyfrost's entire body, while an orange glow encased itself around Firesquall.

"Are they okay?" asked Ingrid.

"They'll be fine," replied Bright. "The detection that they're using is harmless."

A moment later, the glowing auras that Bravia and Tiara had conjured up both faded away.

"Everything checks out with Skyfrost," said Bravia. "This wyvern appears to be perfectly normal."

"Ditto for Firesquall," added Tiara. "No lingering traces of dark energy to be found."

"Kendra," said Bravia, "I can do you next, just to be on the safe side of things."

"Okay," said Kendra, as Bravia stepped up in front of her.

"Bracken, I can check you out," said Tiara, as she walked up to Bracken.

Before Kendra could react, Bravia had exerted her power upon her. The silvery glow felt warm and comforting, causing Kendra to not even worry about what was going on. Even though it wasn't actually doing anything to her, the glow made Kendra feel safe and relaxed. It was a feeling of pure bliss.

Just as Kendra was getting used to the sensation, the aura that Bravia had cast upon her had disappeared. Likewise, Tiara ceased the aura she was using on Bracken.

"Kendra, you appear to be perfectly fine," said Bravia. "And if I can be honest, sensing you made me feel all warm and happy inside."

"Really?" asked Kendra. "I kinda felt that way as well."

"You should feel that way," said Bracken. "You're fairykind. Therefore, you and a fairy angel would resonate well with one another."

"Seth, I suppose it's time for you now," said Bravia.

"Great," said Tiara. "You take Seth, and I'll look after Warren."

"But..." muttered Bravia. "This doesn't seem safe. He is a shadow charmer, after all."

"Hello!" said Seth. "I'm standing right here."

"You can do him, Tiara," said Bravia.

"Why, are you afraid?" asked Tiara.

"Fine, forget it," said Seth. "Skip me. We all know I'm trouble."

"All right, all right," said Bravia. "I'll handle Seth. He's a good egg. How bad can he really be?"

Bravia then proceeded to expel her silvery energy onto Seth. Worried that it would have some sort of negative reaction upon him, Seth was relieved to discover that the light energy that Bravia was emitting upon him did not feel harmful in the least. It did feel somewhat tingly, and while it did not give him a feeling of security, Seth did not feel like he was being threatened, either. It was almost as though he was undergoing a neutral feeling.

"Okay," said Bravia, as the glow she was creating around Seth disappeared. "This is quite unusual."

"How so?" asked Tiara, who had just finished with examining Warren.

"Well, I was getting a negative reaction from Seth. I mean, I was detecting a degree of darkness within him, sure. But he's a shadow charmer. So that was to be expected. However, the darkness was not very strong, and it wasn't having any real impact on my light energy. Likewise, my light energy was not quashing his darkness."

"What does that mean?" asked Seth.

"I'm not sure how to say this," replied Bravia. "But it's almost as though the darkness within you has some sort of synergy with light."

"How is that even possible?" asked Bright. "Light and darkness just don't mix. Everybody knows that."

"I don't understand it myself," said Bravia. "But that darkness within Seth, for whatever reason, doesn't trigger a reaction when exposed to light. It's almost as though it contains an immunity of some sort."

"I don't get it," said Ingrid. "What does that mean?"

"If I were to harbor a guess," said Bracken, "based on what my sister is trying to tell us... It's that the darkness within Seth... isn't really all that dark."

"Does that mean, my darkness is weakening?" asked Seth.

"I wouldn't say it's weakening," said Brillia. "More like... adapting."

"Adapting?" asked Kendra. "To what?"

"Plenty. Seth may be a shadow charmer with powers over darkness. However, every day he is surrounded by fairies and people who are connected with fairies. To cope with this environment, Seth must've somehow developed an immunity to the darkness. On the contrary, this immunity works both ways; fairies are unharmed by the latent darkness within Seth."

"Of course!" exclaimed Seth. "That must be why the fairies haven't been bothering me lately! And why I didn't fall victim to Murdred's elixir when I drank it recently. But... does that mean my darkness is weakening? I don't feel any different."

"It's hard to say," replied Bravia. "There's a lot that I don't understand about darkness. Even less so when it comes to shadow charmers."

"I hope I'm not losing my power or anything," said Seth. "I don't know what it is, but I like being a shadow charmer, thank you very much."

"Your power seems to be intact. It just feels... different."

"Well then," said Tiara. "I guess that just leaves you, Ingrid."

"Okay," said Ingrid.

"This should be interesting," said Bright. "Ingrid may have just been a normal human. But not only was she trapped within one of Nemenemi's bubbles; she single-handedly charged the light crystal!"

"Who knows," said Clover. "Maybe the power influx caused Ingrid to develop some sort of connection to fairies. She might be fairystruck like Warren. Who knows?"

"You mean it?" asked Ingrid.

"Only one way to find out," said Bravia. "Just relax now, Ingrid. This will not hurt you."

Kendra and Seth watched as Bravia encased Ingrid's entire body in a silvery glow.

"After what Bravia found with Seth," said Tiara, "I wouldn't be surprised if she found something unexpected within Ingrid."

Several seconds later, the silvery glow that Bravia was exerting upon Ingrid faded.

"Well, that's it," said Bravia, as she crossed her arms.

"What's it?" asked Ingrid.

"Ingrid. You are perfectly... one-hundred percent... normal."

"Normal?"

"Precisely. You have no residual dark energy within you. Nor do you have any light energy. You are a typical, ordinary, mortal human being with no apparent supernatural talents or abilities."

"Really?" asked Seth. "Are you sure?"

"Seth!" snapped Grandpa.

"Everyone, please," said Ingrid. "I'm fine."

"You're okay?" asked Seth.

"Of course I'm okay. Right now, after all that we've been through, I'm just happy to be alive. So what if I don't have any special powers or abilities like the rest of you? I saved us all, and I did it without any spectacular fairy or darkness powers."

"She's got a point," said Warren. "As nice as abilities are, they're all worthless without somebody that can put them to good use. And if anybody can do what Ingrid just did today, I'd say that they're pretty super. Powers or no powers."

"Ingrid," said Seth, as he placed his arms around his adopted sister. "You're incredible."

"Thank you," said Ingrid. "But I can't take all the credit. If I didn't have such a loving family, I might not have had the heart within me to restore the light crystal."

"But you did," said Grandpa. "And that's what makes you just as great as any fairy angel."

"Well, our work here is done," said Opal, as she and Brook walked up in front of the group.

"We've checked the entire proximity of the yard," said Brook. There were no traces of unregulated darkness to be found anywhere. The place is clear."

"I guess if we have no further business here, the four of us might as well head back to the Fairy Kingdom," said Bravia.

Bravia, Brook, Tiara and Opal all wished the family goodbye, before they vanished in clouds of colorful sparkles.

"Ingrid," said Seth, "I'm sorry about what I said a moment ago about you not developing any powers. I just thought it would be cool if you had developed some sort of power like Kendra or myself."

"It's okay, Seth," said Ingrid. "I may not have developed any special powers. However, today I managed to develop something even better."

"What's that?" asked Mrs. Sorenson.

"Confidence. Today I developed my confidence."