Chapter 43: Diverging Paths

Before long, the group had returned to Fablehaven, where they met up with the rest of the family and went on to talk about how their latest visit with Hope and Air Flair had gone. In the interim, Bracken and Bright had gone back to the Fairy Kingdom to talk to the Fairy Queen about their plan to establish a fairy colony in Wingadoon.

"I just can't believe that Clover is back to her old self!" exclaimed Dale, admiring the fairy angel from his seat. "When other magic failed to work, this just seems like a miracle!"

"Guess there's more to being an angel than simply possessing a pair of wings," chuckled Grandpa.

"And to top it all off" said Seth, as he held up the Pyruby, "we got to keep this in the end!"

"You will be careful with that, won't you?" asked Mr. Sorenson.

"He better," said Warren.

"Course I will," said Seth. "But as nice as it is to have, I still feel... unsatisfied."

"What do you mean?" asked Ingrid.

"We got the Pyruby, sure. But we didn't get any closer to finding the Necromaster. We're still no closer to stopping Murdred than we were when we first encountered Mr. Landry."

"I know what you mean," said Kendra. "I'm grateful to have accomplished everything that we did. But at the same time, it feels like we've just run into another dead end."

"True," said Grandma. "Unless we can find another lead on the relics, there doesn't appear to be anything further we can do in regard to dealing with Murdred."

"So, what can we do?" asked Ingrid.

"I have an idea," said Grandpa. "Warren, Hugo and Mendigo have cleared away all of the wreckage from where your cabin was. If you're ready, we can get started on building you a new one."

"Great," said Warren, sounding disappointed.

"Now, we'll need to come up with some schematics first. But as soon as everything is ready, we can get started. It shouldn't take too long, really."

"Thank you," said Warren. "But if you don't mind, I'd like to just go outside and have a seat on the porch. I've been under a lot of stress lately. I still need some alone time."

"Of course," said Grandpa. "In fact, if nobody has anything further to discuss, I think that our meeting will have drawn to a close."

Waiting until everyone else had left the room, Kendra allowed herself to lie down on the couch. It had been a tedious and dangerous mission. But for now, it was over. She could finally take a well-deserved rest.

Roughly half an hour later, the front door opened up, drawing Kendra's attention. At first, she thought that it was just Warren letting himself back in. However, while Warren did return, joining him were Clover, Bracken and Bright.

"Kendra," said Bracken, "we have some big news for all of you!"

Before long, the rest of the family had been informed and returned to the living room.

"So," said Seth, "what's this big news that you have?"

"Did you find a lead on the Necromaster?" asked Ingrid, earning a head shake from Clover.

"Are we getting a present?" asked Seth, who only got a negative look from Bright.

"It concerns us fairies," said Bright. "As you know, over the course of the past few days, we've agreed to create two new colonies. One on the estate of Glenn Landry, the other in Wingadoon."

"On top of that," said Bracken, "my sisters are looking to recruit more fairies. Not so much here at Fablehaven, but at other shrines, including the new ones."

"Recruit other fairies?" asked Kendra. "What for? What are you talking about?"

"We've been very impressed with the behavior and influence that Passion, Larissa and Goldenrod have been exhibiting since they have arrived at Fablehaven," said Bright. "And yes, while it has been... shall we say... less than perfect, their hearts have been flourishing more so than that of an unenlightened fairy. At the rate they're maturing, those three will most likely mature into ideal fairies for sure."

"And that's just the sort of thing a fairy needs in order to qualify as a fairy guardian, and potentially a fairy angel," chimed in Clover.

"I get it," said Dale. "You want to nurture more fairies in a similar manner to Passion, Larissa and Goldenrod."

"Correct," said Bracken. "But the thing is, between looking after all of these younger fairies, and constructing the new shrines, us fairy angels are going to have our hands full for the next little while. So you see..."

"We've agreed to help them," said Bright.

"That sounds terrific!" said Seth. "Go for it."

"It means..." said Clover, "that Bright and I will be leaving Fablehaven."

Kendra dropped her mouth. "Leaving Fablehaven? For how long?"

"We don't know," replied Bracken. "Building the shrines is one thing. They'll be finished eventually. But looking after the colonies... that's a full-time job."

"But..." said Seth, "who will look after the fairies at Fablehaven?"

Bracken cleared his throat. "I will be staying at Fablehaven, filling in for my sister and Clover."

"You will?" asked Kendra, as her eyes lit up.

"Absolutely. I could use a break from setting up all of these fairy shrines, and these two are more than interested to act as proteges for younger fairies at other shrines."

"You're really leaving us?" asked Warren.

Clover took in a deep breath. "Warren, I love you so much. Nothing will ever change that. But my prowess is strongly needed by my kin. I don't want to leave you. But if I do leave, I can be of far greater use elsewhere than I would be here."

"I understand," said Warren, his head turned towards the ground. "I wouldn't want to deprive you of your duty. But I will miss you."

"As will I," said Clover as she and Warren embraced each other in a long hug.

"It's going to be a lot different not having you and Clover around with us," said Ingrid. "Your magic has been invaluable to us."

"I'll still be around," said Bracken. "I'll confess that while I may be a royal unicorn, I'm not nearly as powerful as any of my sisters."

"Why's that?"

"Giving up your third horn and being confined to a dungeon for hundred of years will do that to you. I've been recovering, but it's a long, slow process."

"He's not the only one," said Bright. "Raxtus and Geminus possess magic of their own. They too will be of assistance."

"But this is it?" asked Seth. "No more Bright and Clover?"

"For now," replied Clover. "But we'll still keep in touch. Don't you worry. And we'll come back to visit Fablehaven whenever we can. We promise."

"Are you really leaving right now?" asked Kendra.

Bright nodded. "The sooner, the better, I'm afraid. We're going to return to the Fairy Kingdom to receive further instructions. From there, we'll know where we'll be going, and when we'll be starting."

"This just feels like... the end," said Kendra.

"Don't think of it as an ending," said Clover. "Think of it as a new beginning."

"We're going to miss you," said Seth. "A lot."

"As will we," said Clover. "When we first met your group, it consisted of Kendra, Warren, Tanu, Elise and Vanessa. While it's true that Tanu is busy with his job, and that Elise and Vanessa are gone, your group has grown a lot."

"We've got four powerful dragons on our side now," said Warren. "They're great, no doubt about that. But they can't truly replace you fairies."

While Bright and Clover flew off towards the fairy shrine, the rest of the group returned to the house. After meeting up with the rest of the family, they relayed to them what they had learned about Bright and Clover being reassigned.

"I guess things are going to be little different around here from now on," said Grandpa.

"Don't worry," said Bracken. "I'll do my best to have things under the best control that I can."

"I'm not complaining," said Kendra. "It'll be nice to have..."

"Yes?" asked Bracken.

Kendra froze. Everybody else in the room was staring at her intently.

"It'll be nice to have you around the place," said Kendra.

Seth smirked. He knew exactly what his sister was thinking.

"It's going to be lonely for me, not having Clover around," said Warren.

"That reminds me," said Grandpa. "Warren, when would you like to get started on rebuilding your cabin?"

"I don't know."

"You're going to have to start sometime," said Grandma.

"That's the thing," said Warren. "Right now, after what Clover's been going through, I need moral support and comfort more than ever. It wasn't an issue before I met her. But now..."

"What are you saying?" asked Mrs. Sorenson.

"Stan. Ruth. Would it be all right if instead of rebuilding my cabin, that I just remain here at the house?"

Everybody gazed at Warren in awe.

"Stay here in this house?" asked Seth. "I thought you loved your cabin! That's why you were living there in the first place!"

"True," said Warren. "But that was years ago. Since being restored from my catatonic state, I feel that not only has this family grown, but that I've grown closer to it."

"You don't want to have your own cabin again?" asked Grandma.

"I don't feel I really need it," said Warren. "With Clover no longer here, and because I work with the rest of you so much, I think I'd be better off staying right here at the house."

"And where do you intend to stay?" asked Grandpa. "You've been staying in Ingrid's room for now, but it was only a temporary solution."

"Warren, you can keep my room," said Ingrid.

"Really?" asked Warren.

"Having my own room is nice," said Ingrid. "But I've had more fun staying in the attic with Kendra, than I have being by myself in my own bedroom."

Warren then got up and gave Ingrid a hug. "Thank you. You've made me very happy."

"Well, in that case," said Grandpa, "we'll have to do a bit of redecorating. Ingrid, that means moving all of your furniture up to the attic. And we'll have to outfit your room with new furniture for Warren."

"You know what," said Warren. "In the midst of all of this commotion, I just realized something."

"What's that?" asked Kendra.

"Our vacation in Hawaii. We still have that hotel room for a few more days. As long as we're in no hot rush to do any investigating, there's no reason we can't go back there and enjoy the rest of our vacation."

"So what are we waiting around here for?" asked Seth. "Fire up the Translocator! I've had my fill of dungeons and cold cities! Let's hit the beach!"

Once the group had assembled all of their belongings, they gathered together and used the Translocator to return to the hotel room in Hawaii that they had been staying in. They arrived in the main room of the suite, which was more or less the way they left it, although the cleaners had seemingly straightened everything up.

"It's too bad our vacation got interrupted," said Ingrid. "Even though we did get an adventure out of it."

"Let's make a deal," said Kendra. "For the rest of the trip, let's try not to get involved in any more crazy excursions."

"I'm game," said Seth, "unless another fairy with a knack for getting into mischief has followed us here."

Bracken closed his eyes, then held out his hand.

"Bracken?" asked Kendra.

"Just checking," said the unicorn, as he opened his eyes and lowered his hand. "It's just the five of us."

"I would've liked it if Clover could've at least stayed for the rest of the trip," said Warren.

"I know how you feel," said Bracken. "But what she's doing will ultimately help a lot of fairies over time."

"I understand. I knew what I was getting into by marrying a fairy angel. But I never imagined it would come to this."

"I know what'll take our mind off all this tension," said Seth. "Let's go down to the pool! They've got this huge water slide that I wanted to go on but never got the chance to!"

The others all agreed in unison, grabbed their swimsuits and towels, and proceeded to leave the hotel room.

For the rest of the day, the group finally had a chance to truly enjoy themselves. The water slide was a lot of fun, going down a dark tube for about a minute before splashing into the deep end of the pool. Seth went down it no fewer than twenty times, as there was not a huge line up like at a water park.

For dinner, the group ate out at a pizza restaurant, where they shared several different types of pizza at the table. Unable to finish all of the pizza, the remaining slices were amalgamated into one box, which the restaurant gave them to take back to the hotel. As they still had room for dessert, everybody had ordered a small bowl of gelato.

Once they arrived back at the hotel, the group all relaxed in the hot tub. The warm, bubbly water was just the thing to ease anybody's muscles. At one point, Warren commented that they could've just presented a hot tub to Empress Polara in exchange for the Pyruby.

After they were done in the hot tub, Seth and Ingrid dried off and put on bathrobes, then went outside onto the balcony, where their private pool was located. Although the room faced the south, by turning their heads to their right, Seth and Ingrid could see the sun setting in the west, leaving a orange-pinkish glow across the horizon.

Seth then sat down on a bench that allowed him to face the sunset, and Ingrid sat down next to him.

"It sure is beautiful," said Ingrid.

Seth nodded, then let out a sigh.

"What's the matter, Seth? Are you tired?"

"Not too tired. I'm just worried."

"Worried?" asked Ingrid. "About what?"

"Stopping Murdred. We're no closer to finding the Necromaster than we were before all of this started. I mean, sure. I have the Pyruby. No complaints there. But we still went through all that trouble."

"It's over now. At least we have that to be thankful for."

"But that's the problem. We're out of leads on the relics. And I'm not wagering that we'll find another one any time soon."

"Seth, I'd like to see Murdred vanquished just as much as you would. But why stress yourself out about it? He's not powerful enough to defeat us. At least in this world. And after what happened with Nemenemi, I don't know if he'd want to take another chance with that strange elixir."

"But what if Murdred finds some other way to increase his power?" asked Seth. "We've barely managed to stop him when we did. I'm worried that he's planning something to get back at us with. And when that comes around, we may not be capable of stopping him. Don't you get it?"

Seth stood up, pulled off his bathrobe, then did a cannonball into the pool.

"Seth!" exclaimed Ingrid, who had gotten splashed with pool water. "What did you do that for?"

"Because I'm fed up with Murdred!" snapped Seth, slapping the surface of the water with his hand. "He's a horrible tyrant and I want him to pay for what he's done once and for all! The longer we procrastinate, instead of doing something about it, the more time he has to dream up something against us!"

"Seth," said Ingrid, wiping herself off with a towel, "calm down. Come here."

Feeling somewhat reluctant, Seth climbed out of the pool, then accepted the towel that Ingrid had been using.

"Sorry," said Seth, wiping himself dry with the towel. "But I've had it up to here with Murdred!" As he spoke, Seth raised his hand as high as it could reach. "I wish he didn't even exist."

"You know," said Ingrid. "If it wasn't for Murdred, we never would have met. I'd still be living on the streets. Think about it. His meddling brought us together, even if it was by accident."

"Yeah..." said Seth, "but don't go giving Murdred any praise for serendipity. However, when you put it that way, Murdred did give me something to be thankful for. Or rather, someone."

Ingrid smiled.

"What matters to me is that we're together. Despite any bad situations that may have happened in the past, what matters right now is that we're together. As a family. And for that, I'm grateful."

"Thank you," said Ingrid, as she embraced Seth in a hug. "But you do raise a point. Without the Necromaster, we probably don't stand a chance against Murdred."

"It's gotta be out there," said Seth, looking out at the vastness of the ocean that stood before him beyond the balcony. "It's out there. Somewhere."

"Look. I know it's not the Necromaster, but if it's any consolation, at least we have each other."

"Ingrid, how can you even say that? You can't compare yourself to the Necromaster!"

"That's not what I meant."

"The Necromaster... It's just a tool of death and destruction. But you. You're a wonderful person. You're full of life. And love. The Necromaster is powerful, sure. And it would no doubt make me very happy if I could use to it finally defeat Murdred. But above all that, you make me happy just the way you are."

"You mean it?" asked Ingrid, as her face lit up.

Seth nodded. "That old relic? So what about it? To me, you're the real treasure. And best of all, we already have each other."

"Oh, Seth!" said Ingrid, as she pressed her hands down on his shoulders and gave him a kiss on the lips. "You're so sweet! I don't care if you are a shadow charmer, or an ally of the night. Or any of that nonsense. To me, you're an angel."

Saying nothing, Seth threw his arms around Ingrid, and gave her a kiss in return.

The End

A/N: Thanks for reading my story! Be sure to check out the follow-up story "Exile of the Royal Disciple".