Chapter 22: Lovers Unite

"Is this Gaea?"

"Yes… I'm back."

"Woah."

As the girls gathered their bags, Lane asked, "Now what? I mean, what do we do? Where do we go? How do we find Van? Or Allen? We didn't land in Ziaback, did we?"

"Well, I think we're in Fanelia. The foliage looks more Fanelian than Asturian. I actually think we might be near Arzaz," Hitomi replied. She pointed to a rock formation several feet away. "I remember that pile of rocks built up into a pyramid. That means that Rhum and his pack might be close by. Van told me two years ago that the road from their village to the capital is near here. Rhum's grandfather is buried there. I think if we tramp around for a bit someone will find us."

"You seem sure."

"Well, they are wolves."

"Oh; right."

The girls began walking in the general direction Hitomi remembered the road to the palace being. About fifteen minutes later something burst from the brush: they'd been found by an excited Merle, who proceeded to knock Hitomi flat on her back and lick her face.

"Ack! Merle! Get off me! Stop licking me!" Hitomi said with a laugh. Merle stood up and her eyes affixed themselves upon Lane.

"Hey! Stop looking at me like that!" Lane squirmed under Merle's scrutiny.

"Who is she? Is she another one from the Mystic Moon? She better not be after Lord Van!"

Hitomi laughed again. "Yes Merle, she's from Earth too. And no, she's not after Van! Lane, this is Merle. Merle, Lane."

Merle eyed Lane suspiciously. "She better not be after Lord Van; that's for Hitomi." The sandy-haired girl coughed, embarrassed.

"Merle, where is Van?"

"Over the hill." Merle pointed behind her, eyes fixed on Lane's pendant. "Your pendant began to glow this morning and Lord Van knew that you'd be coming back today. I've been watching the sky for him, waiting for the blue light. When I saw it I told him and we left the palace to look for you."

Hitomi's eyes moved to the hill longingly. "Go," Lane encouraged. "I'll be back," Hitomi responded. She dropped her bag and ran over the hill in search of the raven-haired king. Lane was too busy eyeing Merle to say anything else; the cat-girl was focused on her like she was a mouse to be toyed with.

"Van? Van!"

"Hitomi?" he asked unbelieving. "Hitomi!" He burst from the bushes and swept Hitomi up into his arms.

The Girl from the Mystic Moon and the King of Fanelia embraced.

After a tender, rather awkward moment of looking at each other, Van pulled Hitomi closer and kissed her.

Hitomi relaxed in his strong arms and closed her eyes. She'd missed him so much. He tasted just like she thought he would, of forest greenery with just a slight hint of chocolate.

They both pulled away at the same moment, still holding each other. Blush colored Hitomi's cheeks. Both continued to smile in awkward silence for several minutes. Hitomi broke the silence, asking about Fanelia. Van answered eagerly, filling her in on the last year or so that they hadn't spoken much.

"Oh, but we mustn't forget Lane!" Hitomi cried after a few minutes.

"Who – ?"

But Hitomi was dragging him over the hill.

"What?" She stopped short. The little clearing was empty…!

Merle ducked out from the bushes she seemed to have been hiding in, scrabbling to Van in a panic, rambling about the blue light.

"Merle, where's Lane?"

"The blue light! It came down and took her away!" She buried her head in Van's shoulder.

"Oh dear."

After a moment or two, Van spoke. "There's nothing more we can do here. Let's return to the palace." Hitomi nodded and grabbed her bag as Merle scampered away, all memory of the disappearing Lane vanishing from her mind.

Van stopped and handed Hitomi her grandmother's pendant, whispering softly, "I think you're going to be needing this again."

"Van, why are you so grave?" She feared hearing the answer.

"Dilandau."

Horrified, Hitomi asked, "How?"

"Celena, Allen's sister. She is Dilandau."

"Allen's lost sister is Dilandau?"

"I'll explain on the way to the palace; let's keep moving. You can use the maps there to find your friend."

Hitomi nodded and began to walk. After a minute, Van shyly grabbed her hand. She smiled and they walked onward.


Author's Notes:

Please note: I am under the impression that Van never told Hitomi about Celena being Dilandau in the series; at least, that's my personal canon. I'm fuzzy on if he mentioned that Allen's lost sister returned... but that's not important. I do consider the PlayStation game canon; though I do believe that everyone rushing in to say goodbye to Hitomi is silly. Har. But even considering the PS game canon, as far as I can tell there's no indication that the Dilandau-Celena/missing sister found situation was mentioned. Anyway, there's no walkthrough/translation of the game as far as I know.

(If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, there's an Esca PS game. It's in Japanese and can't be played on an American system and there's no translation out there. If you know of one, please inform me!)

Ok, so this is five days later than I had wanted... stupid phone... the calendar datebook reminder was supposed to tell me to upload this on Monday and the dumb thing didn't. Argh.

The end! Or actually, the beginning. This it the end of After the Visions, Before the Visions and it leads into Demon from Hell, Angel from Heaven. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's obvious where Lane went...

According to notes I had saved in an email, AtV, BtV has been in the works since June 2004; however, there were at least two very sucky versions/attempts before that. So. AtV, BtV has been in limbo development for seven years. Years. Seven years. Wow...

I have several chapters written for DfH, AfH and the outline entirely worked out... but I'ma thinking I'm going to change some stuff... That is as old as December 2005 at the least and I have grown as a writer and my Esca Universe has grown too! So look for that in the near future. By the end of the year, that I promise you.

Otherwise, for those random watchers that lurk... (comment! XD) what do you want to see next? Your options:

1) Atlantis' story (complete)
2) Aston and Therese's story (complete)
3) Esesra's story [Illegitimate Aston first-born] (complete)
4) Marlene learning of her elder sister (complete)
5) The story of the three Aston sisters falling for the same man (Over 45 chapters planned, outline finalized, approx. 10 chapters written)

Long description is long...

Rad