Chapter 34: Vows
Having recovered his mother from the sub-dimensional void which she had been perpetually trapped within, Bracken bid farewell to everyone at Fablehaven. He then headed back to the Fairy Kingdom, bringing the Fairy Queen with him. After all the commotion that had gone on in the past few days, things felt like they were finally starting to dwindle down. The Demon God was no more, and everything else felt like it was back to the way it should be. For the most part.
Some time later, Kendra, Seth and Ingrid found themselves lying down on chairs by the poolside. As it was not a very humid day, the three siblings were wearing their casual clothes, rather than swimsuits.
"Kendra," said Ingrid, as Kendra stared up at the clouds that were drifting across the sky above her. Kendra thought for a minute that one of the clouds resembled the wing of a pegasus. Or possibly an angel.
"Kendra!" said Ingrid a second time.
"Sorry," said Kendra. "I still can't get my mind off the fact that my brother... is angelkind now."
"It's weird," said Seth. "Right now I don't feel any different than before all of this commotion happened."
"You have to have changed somehow," said Ingrid.
"He has," said Kendra. "The darkness that was once contained within Seth is gone. Instead, there is now light energy flowing through Seth's veins."
"You know, I kinda enjoyed being a shadow charmer," said Seth. "This whole thing just happened without having to give it much real thought."
"Seth, it was your body's way of fighting off the demonic influence that Murdred forced upon you. As powerful as it was, the love inside your heart prevailed by forcing out your true nature."
"It's hard to believe that I could become an angel," said Seth. "You being fairykind, I can kind of see where that came from. But me? An angel? How?"
"Because you're a good person, of course," said Kendra. "I guess you could say that your true nature just wasn't compatible with Murdred's forced darkness."
Seth smiled. "You got that right! I think I might enjoy being angelkind. It seems to compliment you being fairykind."
Ingrid nodded. "That's great, Seth. I- I'm proud of you."
Ingrid then got up from her seat.
"Ingrid, are you okay?" asked Kendra. "You sound a little perturbed."
"I'm fine, Kendra. "I just need some time to myself for bit."
Kendra and Seth both watched as Ingrid walked away from the poolside and into the back door of the house.
"Great," said Seth. "Now she's jealous."
Kendra sighed. "I don't know what we can do, Seth. "Ingrid feels left out. And can you blame her? She's adopted, while her step-siblings have these extraordinary powers that she can only dream of. I love her and everything, but imagine how she must feel."
"But Ingrid's already incredible," said Seth. "Even without powers."
"Well, she's put off," said Kendra. "Living at Fablehaven, you and I are the only other kids that she even gets to bond with."
"So what are we supposed to do about that?" asked Seth. "What's done is done."
"I know," said Kendra. "That's the problem."
Later that day, everybody in the entire house was alerted when they heard some heavy knocking coming from the front door.
"I'll get it," said Seth, as he raced out of the parlor where he and Warren had been working on a jigsaw puzzle together and made his way through the house to the front door.
"Who could it be?" asked Grandma.
Without responding, Seth pulled open the front door. Standing on the other side was Bracken. Behind him was what appeared to be every other known fairy angel. Beyond them, there was a huge gathering of small fairies, all of whom appeared to be singing in a harmony of bells.
"Greetings," said Bracken, flashing a huge smile. "I ask that all of you please exit the house!"
"What's going on?" asked Ingrid, as she stepped out through the front door. "We know already that the Fairy Queen has been rescued!"
"Not just rescued..." said Bright, "but she's alive and well!"
The hundreds of fairies that were fluttering around all parted to the sides, revealing the Fairy Queen, who was standing before everyone. She smiled and nodded her head.
"Your majesty..." said Grandpa, clasping his hands together. "You've recovered already?"
"Indeed," said the Fairy Queen. "After I attacked Murdred with Vasilis, I found myself being hurled into an unknown realm. Having been drained of my powers, I was unable to escape, and soon fell into a deep sleep. I barely remember anything, until I awoke back home in the Fairy Kingdom."
"Restoring mother was quite simple," said Brillia. "Finding her, however..."
"The fairies told me everything about your exploits. Had it not been for your valiant efforts, not only would I never have been rescued, but both the Fairy Realm and the mortal realm would have been in grave danger. I'm so very proud of all of you. And Seth, congratulations on becoming an angel!"
Seth blushed, trying not to feel embarrassed about himself. "You want me to show you? It's not easy..."
"No rush," said the Fairy Queen. "If it's too hard, I'll take everyone's word for it for now."
"What about us?" asked Skyfrost, as he and Firesquall both flew over to where the Fairy Queen was standing, hovering several feet overhead.
"We helped out too!" chimed in Firesquall.
"Indeed you did. The Fairy Kingdom is indebted to you young wyverns, as well as your parents, Raxtus and Geminus."
"I'm grateful we were able to stop Murdred," said Raxtus. "But what will happen to the Demon Domain?"
"And all of the creatures that lived there?" added Geminus. "As bad as they were, they didn't necessarily deserve the fall of their world."
"We tried accessing the Demon Domain again," said Bravia. "But we can't get a portal to open."
"However, with the demonic influence a thing of the past, it may still thrive," said Brook. "Perhaps as a more neutral realm. It's possible that some of the less hostile creatures that dwelled there will be reborn into, shall we say... more pleasant ones."
"It worked for Oblivion," said Tiara. "Although she had been tainted with darkness, she's a changed fairy now."
"Of course, there are still demonic creatures that exist in the mortal realm," said Opal. "I suppose we can't have everything."
"That reminds me..." said Warren, as he presented both Vasilis and the Necromaster to the Fairy Queen. "This is what became of Vasilis and the relics after Kendra and Seth finished off Murdred."
"May I see?" asked the Fairy Queen, as she accepted Vasilis from Warren. She then examined the sword in her hand. "Incredible. It would appear that it has been infused with both fairy and angelic powers. It is a sword of light and darkness no more. For now, it is purely the sword of light."
The Fairy Queen handed Vasilis back to Warren, who in turn presented to her the four relics, which she began to examine.
"Now, I know very little about how these relics supposedly function. But from what I've gathered, it would appear that their connection with the Necromaster has been lost."
"What do you mean, ruined?" asked Seth.
"I'm not sure, honestly. But you becoming angelkind while Murdred was holding both it and you at the same time may have overloaded the relic with light energy, causing it to malfunction."
"It's not unheard of to overload something with light energy," said Bracken. "Remember what happened with Torina?"
"However, the other four relics still seem to contain what I presume is their own power," said the Fairy Queen. "But they don't appear to have traces of darkness still lingering within them."
"That's incredible," said Grandma.
"Now," said the Fairy Queen, handing the relics to Grandma. "I want to give a big, congratulatory thanks to the Knights of the Dawn, the dragons and all of the fairy angels for their victory against Murdred!"
The crowd of fairies and family members erupted in a roar of cheers. The reindeer, Stargleam and Windshear all banged their hooves down on the ground in applause.
"But most of all, we owe the biggest thanks to Kendra, Seth, Ingrid and Warren. Warren, for single-handedly fighting off three of Murdred's most loyal subjects, the adlets, who came close to mauling the group to death."
Warren nodded, as everyone else cheered. "I'd love to say It was nothing. But it wasn't."
"Ingrid," continued the Fairy Queen. "For defeating Murdred's chief adviser, Helwic."
Ingrid smiled. "I can't believe I managed to do it."
"And last, but certainly not least... Kendra and Seth. For uniting their unique powers and destroying Murdred, once and for all!"
The entire crowd exploded with cheers. Family members all placed their hands upon Kendra and Seth's shoulders, while others patted them on the back. Once the cheers calmed down, the Fairy Queen cleared her throat.
"Would the four of you please step forward?"
Kendra, Seth, Ingrid and Warren all looked at each other, then stepped up towards the Fairy Queen.
"For your many services to the Fairy Kingdom, I would like to offer you four my deepest thanks. Therefore, I will be more than happy to grant each of you one wish."
"A wish?" asked Ingrid.
"You grant wishes?" asked Seth.
The Fairy Queen held up her hands. "Not quite... I'm no Omega Star. But I do possess fantastic powers and can bestow upon you nearly anything you could ever want."
"You're kidding..." said Warren.
"I'm not. I feel that you four deserve to have almost anything that your hearts desire. Seth, you used your favor with the Singing Sisters to save me. It's my way of paying you back."
"I guess this means you I can't ask you for the Omega Star," said Seth.
"Hold on a moment," said Ingrid. "I don't even know what to wish for!"
"Well, these are extenuating circumstances," said the Fairy Queen. "Just about anything you desire could be justified. I could even allow you to become a fairy angel, if you so wish."
"Fairy angels?" asked Bracken. "Is that even possible?"
"Only because they have earned the honor. I could never perform such a feat for anyone deemed unworthy."
"This is incredible," said Warren. "I don't even know what to ask for."
"Anyway, none of you have to decide upon what you want right away. Take your time. It can be years later that you choose to make your request. I will still be sure to honor it as best I can."
"Thank you so much," said Kendra, as she and the others all nodded in approval.
"It's the least I can do. In the meantime, I wish to return to the Fairy Kingdom. Although I have recovered somewhat, I'm still not back to full strength. But I should be fully refreshed by tomorrow."
"Understood," said Grandpa. "I'm just elated that you're back, my Queen, and that everything worked out in the end."
"My reign as Fairy Queen is now over," said Brillia. "But I couldn't be happier."
"Let's return home," said Bright. "There is still so much we need to discuss."
"Yeah," said Clover. "Wait until we tell you all about Wingadoon!"
Several hours later, after the family had eaten dinner, Kendra, Seth and Ingrid soon found themselves sitting on the front porch swing, staring up at the early evening sky.
"The party just keeps going," said Seth. "Tomorrow we're going to the Fairbanks for a celebration banquet! Everyone's gonna be there! Trask, Tanu, Mara..."
"It'll be my first time," said Ingrid. "I'm looking forward to it! As well as our favors. You two know what you're gonna ask the Fairy Queen for?"
"Not yet," said Seth. "I want to save it for something special."
"Yeah..." said Kendra, who felt rather overwhelmed with the question. "Something special. I think Warren is saving his favor as well."
"Hey, all!" said Bracken, who was walking in from the edge of the yard, coming from the direction of the naiad's pond.
"Bracken!" exclaimed Kendra, as the fairy prince came scurrying up towards the front porch. "Great to see you again!"
"Same here," said Bracken, as he sat down on a rocking chair that was facing the swing. "I'm pleased to report that Mother is recovering fairly well. By tomorrow, she should be ready to reclaim the throne back from Brillia."
"Brillia's not upset, is she?" asked Ingrid.
Bracken laughed. "She's relieved more than anything! The entire position was kind of forced upon her. She was far from a bad queen, but deep down, she didn't feel that she was best-suited for the position."
"I'm happy for her," said Kendra.
"Anyway, have you three given your favors any thought?"
"I have," said Seth. "Nothing worthwhile."
"Me neither," said Ingrid.
"You, Kendra?" asked Bracken. He waited for Kendra to give a response, but she remained silent. "Kendra?"
"I heard you," said Kendra. "Bracken... There is a favor I'd like to ask."
"Really? Name it."
"Bracken, I'm almost seventeen years old. Another year from now and I'll legally be an adult."
"Bracken, when I turn eighteen..."
"When you turn eighteen, what?" asked Bracken.
"Well... I'll be done with homeschooling. And I'm not sure what I want to do entirely. Maybe study, or travel the world some more. But once I settle down, I'd like you marry you."
Bracken, Seth and Ingrid all dropped their jaws upon hearing Kendra's proposal.
"You can say no," said Kendra. "I won't be upset. It's just that... I love you. Truly. Not because you're a unicorn. It's because I love you."
Bracken shook his head. "Kendra, I need to be honest with you. This is not something you can ask the Fairy Queen for. I'm sorry, but you just can't. I won't allow it."
Kendra felt as though her heart suddenly froze up upon hearing Bracken's remark.
"And for good reason," continued Bracken. "This is a decision I have to make. Not my mother. And you know what? I do. I would love to marry you. Whenever you feel ready."
Kendra could feel her heart thumping heavily within her chest. Innumerable goosebumps were popping up all over her arms and legs. Even Seth was beside himself.
"Bracken..." said Kendra. "I'm speechless."
"But Kendra," said Bracken. "If you marry me, there's something very important that you should be aware of."
"I'm a fairy prince. If you marry me, you will enter into the royal family. By fairy law, as my wife, you would become a unicorn."
"Kendra... a unicorn?" asked Seth.
"I... never considered that," said Kendra. "Warren married Clover just fine, and he became fairystruck solely due to her kisses."
"Clover is not fairy royalty, now, is she?" asked Bracken.
"You're serious?" asked Ingrid. "Kendra, you're really willing to go through with marrying Bracken? So suddenly?"
"I can't explain it," said Kendra. "It just feels like if I do marry Bracken, I'll be happy forever."
"As would I with you," said Bracken.
"This is what I want," said Kendra, as she got up from the swing and planted a kiss on Bracken's lips.
"Of course I'll marry you," said Bracken. "Although, I don't have anything to really propose to you with right now. No ring."
"We'll make our own pact," said Kendra. "Not a handshake. More like a pinky promise. But with our ring fingers."
"I've never heard of this," said Seth. "A ring finger promise? That's not a thing!"
"I'm making it a thing," said Kendra, as she made a fist with her left hand, stuck out her ring finger and held it before Bracken. "You do the same, Bracken."
"Okay..." said Bracken nervously, as he too did the same thing with his ring finger.
Kendra and Bracken then locked their ring fingers together. Kendra stared directly into Bracken's silver eyes.
"You vow to marry me?" asked Kendra.
"Absolutely," replied Bracken. "As soon as you're ready."
"Thank you. You've made me so happy."
Their ring fingers still locked together, Kendra and Bracken shook hands, then released themselves from each other's grasp. Bracken then got up from his seat and gave Kendra a hug.
"So Kendra's gonna be a unicorn," said Seth, looking at Kendra and Bracken whilst they hugged together and kissed.
"I'm happy for them," said Ingrid. "But I can't help but envy Kendra. I just can't."
"Well, the Fairy Queen did say you could become a fairy angel," said Seth.
"I know. It would compliment you, wouldn't it. I mean, as a male angel, you could probably have any fairy you want. Or even Hope."
"So what? Ingrid, I don't care if you're not a fairy, angel, unicorn, pegasus, centaur, mermaid, wendigo or... whatever," said Seth. "I love you just the way you are. And you still loved me back when I was a shadow charmer, even when pretty much all of the fairies resented me. But... if you want to become a fairy angel, go right ahead. I understand. An opportunity like this doesn't happen very often."
"That's the thing," said Ingrid. "I am happy the way I am. And even though I'm proud of you for becoming an angel, I don't need to change myself to make you happy either."
"You know, you would get lots of cool powers as a fairy angel," said Seth. "Just kidding, of course!"
"I got the hint," said Ingrid. She smiled back at Seth, then kissed him on his lips.
The feeling of being kissed filled Seth with so much joy and elation, that his angel wings inexplicably grew back, once again tearing holes through his shirt.
"Seth!" exclaimed Bracken, releasing his arms from Kendra. "What happened?"
"Ingrid made me happy," replied Seth. "That's what happened. Come on!"
Seth stood before Ingrid, then wrapped his arms underneath hers and around her body.
"Seth!" cried Ingrid. "What are you doing?"
Saying nothing, Seth flapped his wings and proceeded to fly off of the porch.
"Seth, come on!" said Kendra, as Seth flew up alongside the house.
Once Seth reached the top of the house, he came down for a landing on the roof, allowing Ingrid to set her feet down.
"Seth, what's this all about?" asked Ingrid.
"I'm an angel," said Seth. "And while I don't entirely understand how it happened, one thing is for sure."
"What's that?" asked Ingrid.
"We love each other. And it's because of that love that I'm able to become an angel. It's what caused me to change back when we were up against Murdred. I know it. I can feel it in my heart."
Ingrid smiled. "It's hard to believe that things seemed so different before this whole ordeal with Murdred actually started. What were we even doing before we were so... rudely interrupted?"
"We were at the fair, trying to win you that stupid pegasus plushie, remember?" asked Seth.
"I think I got a much better prize in the end," said Ingrid, as she placed her hand upon one of Seth's wings and stroked his golden feathers.
"Are you two okay up there?" asked Bracken, who was now standing on the front lawn with Kendra, looking up towards the roof.
"We're not okay," replied Ingrid. "We're perfect."
At that moment, a court of fairies flew up over the roof of the house, then arced back down, leaving a sparkling rainbow in their path.
Saying nothing, Seth threw his arms around Ingrid. In response, Ingrid did the same in return. Seth then brought his wings forward and wrapped them around Ingrid, essentially giving her a double hug.
A/N: Be sure to check out the follow-up story "Utopia of the Usurper Unicorn"!