Chapter 34: Outlook
The rest of the day had now drawn to a close. Kendra, Seth and Ingrid were all sitting down at a picnic table in the yard. Seth gazed over to the west, where he could see that the sun was now fairly close to the end of the horizon, indicating that dusk was about to hit.
"This has been such a long day," said Ingrid, as several reindeer wandered around nearby. One of them stopped in front of Ingrid, allowing her to pet its head.
"I can't believe it," said Kendra. "At one point, it felt like it was going to go on forever."
"Well, not only did we pull through," said Seth, "but we made quite an accomplishment. Nemenemi is now who-knows-where, and we finally discovered a way to defeat Murdred."
"Except we didn't," said Kendra. "I was so close, though. But then Nemenemi showed up and threw us all for a loop."
"It's not so bad," said Ingrid. "We still came out on top in the end. And I feel a lot better about myself."
"I know. And as great as that is, I really would've liked for us to have been able to have defeated Murdred while we had the chance."
"We still do have a chance," said Seth. "If we can get that light crystal working again, all we have to do is go back to the Demon Domain one last time, find Murdred and defeat him for good. With no more Nemenemi to worry about, I don't see any real problems."
"You're forgetting," said Kendra. "When Helwic tried to use her super-charged banishment spell on me, I deflected it onto Nemenemi using the light crystal."
"Oh yeah," said Ingrid. "And that fractured it."
"And if the crystal's been fractured, there's no way for it to hold a charge," said Seth.
"Well, Bright and Clover are over at Warren's place, trying to see if they can mend it," said Kendra.
"Speaking of those three, I see them coming this way," said Ingrid, pointing in one direction.
Kendra and Seth looked over, and could see Warren, Clover and Bright walking toward the yard along the path that led to Warren's cottage.
"You think they fixed it?" asked Seth.
"I hope so," said Kendra. "Look, Bright's even holding the light crystal in her hands.
Kendra, Seth and Ingrid all watched as Warren and the fairies walked down the path and over to the picnic table where they were sitting.
"Something's wrong," said Kendra. "They don't look too happy."
"Hey, guys," said Ingrid. "Is everything okay?"
"Unfortunately, no," said Bright, placing the crystal down on the table. "Look."
"The crystal," said Kendra. "It's still fractured."
"We've tried everything," said Bright. "But despite our best efforts, nothing seems to work. I don't think this crystal can ever be fixed."
"Are you positive?" asked Seth. "Maybe you can get some of the other fairies, or even the Queen, to have a look at it."
"We tried that too," stated Clover. "There's no method or magic out there that can restore it. Right now this thing is just a fancy paperweight."
"There's got to be other light crystals out there, somewhere," said Ingrid. "This can't possibly be the last one!"
"It's the only one any of us knew about," said Bright. "And now it's as good as gone."
"But without a functional light crystal," said Seth, "how will we stop Murdred?"
"I don't know," said Warren. "This light crystal seemed like our only hope. And now it's no longer useful."
"What are we supposed to even do?" asked Ingrid.
"Let's not worry about it for now," said Warren. "You kids know when dinner will be ready? I'm starving."
"What is dinner, anyway?" asked Seth, shaking his head.
"No clue," said Kendra.
Ingrid glanced at her watched. "It's almost seven and we still haven't been called in."
"Come on," said Seth. "I've had enough of this bad news. It's chow time."
"Good idea," said Warren. "Food never fails to cheer me up."
The group then got up from the table and walked over towards the front door of the house. They then opened the door and passed through into the foyer.
"Hey, what's for dinner?" asked Seth.
"Uh, we're home," said Warren, who was waiting for a response.
"Mom?" asked Ingrid. "Dad? Anybody?"
"Where is everyone?" asked Kendra.
Bright sighed. "I hope nothing bad has happened to them while we were out."
"It can't be Nemenemi," said Ingrid. "The fairies did a check for her, didn't they?"
"God, I hope not," said Warren, as he stepped into the living room. "This has been such a rough day for all of us. The last thing I need is a..."
"Happy birthday, Warren!" said an eruption of voices, as Grandpa, Grandma, Mr and Mrs. Sorenson and Dale all stood up from behind several sofas and chairs which they had been hiding behind.
Warren dropped his jaw in excitement, as balloons and confetti went flying across the room.
"Your birthday..." said Seth. "I practically forgot all about it!"
"Me too..." muttered Warren. "We've done so much running around these past few days, I haven't even had a chance to think about it."
"Even if it wasn't your birthday, we'd still be celebrating," said Dale, as he gave Warren a hug. "You guys just got rid of Nemenemi!"
"If it's my birthday," said Warren, "then there's something I really want. Dinner. Now!"
"Dinner?" asked Grandpa. "Certainly. However, we have too many guests for the dining room, so we'll be eating in the back yard if you don't mind."
"What'd you make for dinner?" asked Seth, as everybody walked through the house and out the back door.
"Nothing," said Grandma. "We got Chinese take-out."
Warren nodded in approval. "Sweet."
"The food's in the kitchen," said Grandpa, as the group walked down from the patio and over towards a long table that had been set with numerous places. "Dale, Scott, would you give me a hand with it?"
Grandpa, Mr. Sorenson and Dale all went back into the house. While they were gone, the dragon family made their way over to one end of the table. Joining them was Mariana, who had hopped out of her pond to be with the family. Also with them were Newel and Doren.
Soon the men had returned carrying several large bags. Before long, the table had been set with an assortment of containers full of various Chinese entrees. Everyone helped themselves to the food. Seth made sure that he got an egg roll, a good-sized helping of sweet and sour pork, some General Tao chicken, as well as the lo mein.
"Man, this is really good," said Ingrid, who appeared to be having some difficulty using her chopsticks.
"Here, let me help you," said Kendra, showing Ingrid how to properly hold the chopsticks she had in her hands.
"As great as this dinner is," said Kendra, "you guys really had us worried when we came in. What if Nemenemi really had gotten to you?"
"Kendra," said Bright. "Brook and Opal combed the area thoroughly. Although they were unable to determine as to where she wound up, or how exactly she got there, they're confident that she's nowhere nearby. That banishment spell that Helwic hit her with was probably a one-way trip."
"Would she ever come back?" asked Ingrid.
"Impossible to tell for sure," replied Clover. "But, it's highly unlikely that she would return. Especially if she traveled such a long way. And that's only if she survived the banishment in the first place."
"Thanks for the grub!" said Doren.
"This is better than junk food!" exclaimed Newel, who was gnawing on a honey garlic spare rib.
"You guys are totally welcome," said Warren.
"Hey, let's give some of this food to Stargleam and Windshear," said Seth. "And the reindeer, too!"
"Forget it," said Dale. "I admire your thoughtfulness. But animals like them can't handle food like this. Besides, the reindeer are on a special diet."
"So, Nemenemi may be gone," said Kendra. "But what about Murdred? He's still alive, and we failed to destroy him while we had the chance."
"It's hard to say," said Grandpa. "The good news is, you've discovered that Murdred isn't very interested in looking for another disciple anymore. And if he's unable to increase his power, it's unlikely that he'll come back for us anytime soon."
"Not only that," said Bracken, "but aside from vengeance, we don't really have any reason to go back to the Demon Domain and deal with Murdred so fast anyway. We no longer possess the power to properly vanquish him, and there's nothing he has that we need. Going after him would probably be little more than a waste of our time. Not to mention the high risk that venturing into the Demon Domain would bring."
"But what about the relics?" asked Seth. "Right now we still only have the Sapphazure and the Emerock. What about the other three?"
"Well, we don't actually know," replied Warren. "Thing is, we don't have any information as to where the others are hidden. Even that book that Murdred had only led us to the Sapphazure."
"Wait a minute," said Ingrid. "Who cares about the relics? I mean, the only one we wanted in the first place was the Necromaster, so that we could kill Murdred. If he's not in a position to come after us, and we have no way of finding the Necromaster, what do we have to worry about?"
"You've got a point, Ingrid," said Grandpa. "We can still try to uncover information on the missing relics. Because who knows, maybe we'll get lucky. But I personally wouldn't get my hopes up."
"Yeah," said Seth. "I guess as long as we don't need them, there's no real reason for us to try and find the other relics. Mind you, I'd rest easy knowing that we could find the Necromaster and use it to destroy Murdred."
"Where do we go from here?" asked Ingrid.
"Well..." began Grandpa. "I'm not really sure. There's no immediate threat to be dealt with. And there's no practical way of dealing with the villains either. On top of that, we are unable to locate any more relics. I'd say that your adventures have come to an end. For the time being, at least."
"Aww. Just as things were starting to get good, too," muttered Ingrid, shaking her head.
At that moment, Grandma, who had gotten up at some point, was currently walking towards the table, holding a large birthday cake with flaming candles in her hands. She started to sing Happy Birthday to Warren, prompting the rest of the family to join in.
"This looks delicious," said Warren with a smile, as Grandma placed the cake down in front of him. It was decorated in chocolate frosting and green icing.
"Of course it's delicious," said Grandma. "Who do you think baked it?"
Warren closed his eyes and proceeded to blow out the candles.
"What did you wish for?" asked Seth.
"I can't tell. But I didn't wish to know where the other relics could be. I'll say that much."
Warren then started to cut the cake up into slices and placed them all onto plates. Meanwhile, Dale scooped spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream onto the plates and passed them around the table.
The cake was scrumptious. Seth and Kendra savored every bite, and Seth found himself unable to resist asking for a second slice.
"There's also fortune cookies," said Dale, as he opened up a takeout box, took out a cookie for himself and passed the box down the table.
Seth cracked open his cookie and read the paper that was inside. "Opportunity is waiting beyond the horizon," he said, reading his fortune aloud.
"Here's mine," said Ingrid. "Friends are irreplaceable. Cherish them."
Everyone read their fortunes to the group, but the rest of them weren't quite as remarkable.
"I think it's time for presents," said Grandpa, as he handed a wrapped box over to Warren. "Kendra, your present is here, too."
"Nice," said Warren, as he started to open up the package.
Warren proceeded to open up presents from Kendra, Grandpa, Grandma, Mr. and Mrs. Sorenson, the dragons, the satyrs, Bracken, Bright and Clover. They mostly consisted of things like clothes, cologne, a box of chocolate bars, a new computer and a watch. The fairies had all given Warren a platinum chain necklace with a star-shaped emerald embedded in the centre.
"This is really something," said Warren, admiring the necklace.
"It's from all of us," said Clover, as she kissed Warren. "Fairies and dragons. Happy birthday, dear."
"Oh no!" exclaimed Seth. "I forgot about my present!"
"I've got it," said Dale, handing a small package to Warren. "This is from both Seth and myself."
Warren opened the packed and pulled out a tiny basket full of the purple berries that had been growing in the greenhouse.
"Are these..." began Warren.
"Yup," replied Seth. "I saved the seeds of those berries we found in the past. And Dale cultivated them. Enjoy! There's more where those came from!"
"Nice!" said Warren, popping a berry in his mouth, before passing the basket around the table, offering them to the rest of the family.
Seth watched as Ingrid ate her berry, but noticed that she still seemed sad. "Ingrid, don't you like the berry?"
"Oh," she replied. "It's great. Don't get me wrong. But... I'm the only one here who didn't get Warren a present."
"Ingrid," said Warren. "That's okay. These presents mean nothing compared to what really matters. Being here with my family and friends. That's better than any present. Besides, I got plenty of presents anyway."
"I know. But, I just wanted to fit in. This family is still new to me and nothing's ever going to change the fact that I'm... different than the rest of you."
"We don't think you're different," said Mrs. Sorenson. "Compared to Kendra and Seth, you're the most normal of our children."
"Well, Ingrid," said Warren, "if you really do want to fit in with us a little better, I've got something for that!"
Warren then whispered something into Clover's ear, and she nodded back at him.
Clover then snapped her fingers, causing Warren's sword to magically appear in his hands.
"Warren!" exclaimed Grandpa. "How many times have we told you? No weapons at the table!"
Warren rolled his eyes. "It's still in its sheath, Stan. Ingrid, It may be my birthday, but I'm going to be getting you a present. It'll be a sword, similar to my own."
"Really?" asked Ingrid, as Warren presented his sword to her.
"Yup. I don't actually have one for you right now, but until then, you're welcome to get some practice in with mine if you'd like. I'll help you train, too."
Warren. I don't know what to say."
"There's always thank you," said Warren.
"Thank you," said Ingrid, as she proceeded to hold up the sword.
"Ingrid," said Grandpa. "Would you please put that thing down?"
"Sorry, Grandpa," said Ingrid, placing the sword down on the ground next to her chair.
The family then spent some time talking amongst each other. Afterwards, the party transitioned itself over to the pool, where everybody went for a swim, including the dragons and Mariana.
"It's so nice that we were able to open the pool," said Mrs. Sorenson.
"Yeah," said Grandma. "Right around now is when we usually open it."
"Another summer is coming," said Mr. Sorenson. "They say it's supposed to be be pretty hot this year."
"Mariana really likes the pool," said Kendra. "Is the chlorine in the water safe for her gills?
"Reptiles like us can handle chemicals like that," said Raxtus. "Although I'm not really sure what a chlorine actually is."
"If Firesquall's body can tolerate fire," said Seth, "what's a little chlorine gonna do to him?"
Ingrid laughed. "This party has been so much fun! It almost feels like the encounter with Murdred was just a bad dream."
"Regrettably, it happened," said Kendra.
Sometime after the sun had gone down, everybody got out of the pool. Newel and Doren returned to the forest, Mariana to her pond, Warren and Clover to their cottage and the dragons to their lair. Kendra and Seth watched as Stargleam and Windshear both walked off into the forest together, nuzzling their muzzles together. The family then went back inside the house and everybody got ready for bed.
As he walked back from the bathroom, Seth stopped in front of Ingrid's room and knocked on the door.
"Come in," came Ingrid's voice from the other side.
Seth entered the room and saw Ingrid lying on her bed.
"Ingrid, there's something I want to tell you about... well... you."
"Well, today you really proved yourself. I don't know what it is."
"Seth, I know what I did today was special," said Ingrid. But... it sounds like you're trying to tell me something, only you don't know how to put it into words."
Seth sat down on Ingrid's bed. He looked across the room and saw Warren's sword leaning against her dresser. "You going to practice with that thing sometime?" he asked.
"Yes. But I still think that you have something you want to tell me."
"Ingrid..." said Seth. "I..."
"What is it?"
Without responding, Seth threw his arms around Ingrid's shoulders and gave her a hug.
"Seth, thank you!"
Not knowing what came over him, Seth then kissed Ingrid on her cheek.
"Ingrid, I don't know what it is. But after the way you acted today. I think... I'm in love with you."
Ingrid stared at him blankly. "Love?"
"Look, I know it seems weird. I mean, you're my sister. But you're also my foster sister. So there's no blood relation."
"I know," said Ingrid.
Seth sighed. "I'm sorry. It's just that... I haven't had much luck finding love. I admired Bright after I first met her, but she wasn't really my type. Then there was Sarah, and we all know where that went. But you... you and I really get along. I'm sorry to pounce on you like this..."
"Seth, I understand. I really like you too."
Seth took in a deep breath. "Ingrid, I've got to ask you this. Will you be my girlfriend? Or at least... consider it?"
"Well... Sure! I mean, the two of us love each other. And even though we're siblings, like you said, there's no blood relation. So I wouldn't have a problem with it if you don't."
"Really?" asked Seth. "Thank you, Ingrid! You've made me so happy!"
"I have a feeling we'll be making ourselves happy a lot more," said Ingrid with a grin. "But for starters, let's have a real kiss."
Ingrid then kissed Seth on his lips, pressing against his face for several seconds.
"Thank you," said Seth, as he hugged Ingrid. "And remember that I like you just the way you are."
"Because I'm not fairykind or anything unusual like that?""
"Nah! I love you because you're not unusual. And you're courageous! And you want to learn how to defend yourself! What's there not to like?"
"Seth," said Ingrid. "Thank you!"
"You're welcome, Ingrid," said Seth, as he stood up and made his way over to the door. "Good night. I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Seth," said Ingrid, as Seth flicked off her light and closed her door as he left the room.
A/N: Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out the next story in the series, "Loyalty of the Ultimate Angel".