During the exchange and quick introductions, Flounder glanced up and yelped. "Look out!"
Aku approached, he didn't see what had happened just yet. "Is he dead?" he inquired to Ashi.
Ariel glared up at him, "No."
"And he never will be!" Ashi added defiantly.
Aku was momentarily taken aback by her tone, "How dare you talk back to your father?!"
"No. You're not my father."
"Yes I am!"
"No, you're not!"
As Jack, Ariel, her family and friends watched the argument escalate, Vanessa gave the go ahead to a little friend Ariel had helped once years ago. The little mermaid was surprised when she saw a familiar little lavender fairy fly up to her shoulder.
"The Dark Spectre queen of the Ocean has re-energized my gift so that I am able to help you. I can free you from his influence, you need only make a wish." she says earnestly.
The beautiful redhead's mind raced, with a wish like that she could help Jack return home. But then that means she'd forget him and others will never know of the great deeds he's done…
"Oh! Now I know what to wish for!" Ariel rapidly whispers into the fairy's ear, who nods fervently.
"As you wish!"
Instantaneously, a ripple of lavender magic grows bigger and bigger until it envelops the globe. None of the others noticed anything off save for a dizzy spell that lasted five seconds.
Ashi countered Aku's lethal eye-beams with her very own, much to the visible stupefaction of everyone else.
Jack then exclaimed, "Ashi, you have Aku's powers!"
The young girl gasped. "I do!"
Ariel shared their excitement, knowing what it meant.
Beside them, the Sea King sighs, he is literally on the verge of making a monumental decision in mere seconds. He glances at Sebastian with an attitude that says, 'Should I?' Sebastian understands and nods in tearful understanding. King Triton looks at his youngest daughter with a wistful sigh.
"Good bye Ariel. You belong to his world now." He said after quickly hugging her.
"I love you, Daddy." Ariel said her eyes briefly tearing then runs to Jack's side, "Goodbye, sisters, Flounder, Sebastian, Scuttle – and friends, I love you all!"
"Goodbye?! What're you -?"
Aku was cut off the moment Ashi quickly stretches out her arm and takes the sword from where it had been placed.
The young woman then let out a low pitched shriek, white energy rings shooting from her mouth – a time portal. They floated right above Jack, Ariel and Ashi's heads.
"Ariel, catch this!" Vanessa suddenly shouted, throwing her a bag – much like the one she used to take human objects when she was a mermaid, except it was full of contents they couldn't see at first.
The redhead catches it, then takes Jack's hand just as the rings envelop the three of them and they're pulled downwards. Aku's talon vainly falls upon the empty spot where Jack, Ariel and Ashi once stood. "Oh no…"
"And as they say: Godspeed." Vanessa said with sad smile.
Hopefully her past self can help ease what is to come…
The three fall through a tunnel of flashing light. Jack glanced around in amazement, remembering all too well the sensation of falling through time. He closed his eyes with a content smile for at long last, he was returning home. Beside him, Ariel takes his hand while Ashi places her hand on his arm in reassurance, and this time, the three of them we're doing it together as a family.
As they neared their destination, they could hear the dreaded voice up ahead saying: "Do not worry, Samurai, you will see me again. But next time, you will not be so fortunate."
The demon yelped as another time portal opened just a few feet from where he was standing. Out jumped, Jack, Ashi and Ariel.
"Huh, you're back already!?"
When the enormous demon fixed his gaze on her, the mermaid swore she felt her own skin pale.
Aku looked her over in brief confusion. "There's something vaguely familiar about you… have we met?"
"No, there isn't!" Ariel snapped.
Instantly, Jack charged towards his foe with a defiant war cry.
"No, wait!" The villain was cut off as Jack swiped at him with the sword.
At one point, Jack sliced Aku right down into two pieces. He proceeded to make mincemeat out of one half, while the genuinely terrified other half sped towards the little mermaid, sensing the bond. Ariel and Ashi just about nearly panicked.
"Get away from me!" Ariel shrieked.
Ashi kicked it away from the redhead. "Leave her alone!"
"And take THIS!" Ariel lashed out with her trident.
Fortunately, Jack was able to get the final blow. He impaled the monster right through the head, there was a brief flash of light and the sword's blade turned black. Briefly, a pair of wide eyes belonging to Aku blinked open, it wasn't for long though.
"NOOOOOOOOOO MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!" Jack roared, with one final plunge, he stabbed the sword into the ground.
Upon doing so, the complete interior of the dark tower was covered with Aku's black tar-like essence, which soon began to explode bit by bit.
The trio hurried out just before the entire tower exploded, disappearing in a blast of gold light, leaving only a large crater where the demon's citadel once stood.
Everything had happened so fast, it took Jack a full moment to comprehend it. Aku was dead.
Ariel felt the terrible essence dissipate from her being as she watched the ominous markings on her right wrist slowly fade away.
"It is done." Jack proclaimed soberly.
Just then, Ashi groaned, briefly falling to her knees.
"Ashi?" Jack and Ariel hastened to her side in concern.
"I'm okay, I-I felt him leave me." The younger woman assured them steadily.
"He will never hurt anyone ever again." declared Jack.
The three of them embraced.
Finally they were all free from Aku; no more running, no more fighting, no more wandering… what's more, Jack was home.
The reunion between him and his parents as an emotional one. Warmly, they received Ariel and Ashi with open arms, especially learning of the role they played in helping Jack return triumphant.
Now there was the matter of evaluating the maiden's mind; to see if she needed what was necessary as a future ruler.
"Your majesties…" Ariel bowed which the two rulers returned.
Then the Empress took Ariel's hands, searching her face and seeing her to be of pure heart, said gently: "My daughter, we are honored that you've decided to unite your extraordinary family with ours."
Ariel gave her a radiant smile, "Thank you, your majesty."
Her body language, disposition and what she knew of the young maiden said it all: The little mermaid had a good soul to match her enchanting voice and beauty. The Empress knew she would be a good wife to her son.
Now it was the Emperor's turn. "I wish to speak to my daughter in law privately, if you will allow it."
Confused, Ariel approached the aged Emperor and walked with him, a little ways apart but not too far. Ashi watches in concern, but Jack and the Empress gave her reassuring glances.
Jack's father looked out into the horizon silently as if in deep thought.
Ariel tentatively tries to make conversation, "Your majesty, I…"
He suddenly said matter of factly, "You my child are quite the free thinker."
This took her aback - that part's certainly true- in more ways than one.
"Not that it matters." The Emperor continued with gentle smile, "As a future Empress, it will be your duty to look after the kingdom, to put their needs before yours. However you must be aware that not many will be as welcoming as those you've befriended in your travels."
"That much I understand, yet maybe they can change to understand the merfolk. I have faith that there are still some that accept us as we are." Ariel said hopefully.
The Emperor sighed sadly, "Can you truly say the same for those that do not tolerate those different from the way they think or way of life? Would you be able to learn our customs, traditions whilst remembering that of your home and maintain a diplomatic mind as required?"
Sadly no to the first part; He had a point, "No sir. Yet what I can say is that I'm willing to adapt, to learn - I've always wanted to see the world above. I know what must be done, whatever I decide from now on would also affect the kingdom."
An emotional yet honest answer. Good; as an Empress she would need to make wise decisions, and by marrying his son she would also need to learn an entirely new culture that differed from hers. She knew what to probably expect and was willing to do so anyways, not only for the man she loves but for herself and for her home world.
So he looked her straight in the eye and gave single respectful bow. "My daughter, you have made my son come to life in a way I never thought possible. For that I thank you. No matter what the future may hold for you all, you must always remember to rule over the land and your people from your heart with wisdom and true justice."
Ariel returned the bow diligently, "I solemnly promise so to do, your majesty."
Sometime later, Jack's kingdom made a complete recovery. Very soon the bell sounded once more, this time it was cause for joy: the Prince was getting married.
All of Jack's old mentors and family have gathered together, reunited and rejoicing at Aku's final defeat. After how much their teachings helped him, now the Prince did well remembering them and wishing to share his happiness was the least he could do to repay them.
What an extraordinary gathering – Ariel and Ashi were fascinated with it all, even with the wedding preparations. Just the day before, Ariel had found Vanessa's gift: a necklace that enabled her to speak with her family. To her great relief, they were safe and eagerly awaiting the wedding they'd bear witness to.
But after the marital ceremony, Ashi suddenly collapses in the midst of the celebration. Gravely worried, Jack and Ariel quickly rush to her side, the other guests watching with great concern.
Jack held the younger woman up in his arms. To his horror and Ariel's, they see that she was nearly transparent, like a ghost.
Ashi looked up at them with a sad smile. "Jack, Ariel... I'm so sorry, without Aku, I would have never existed."
She'd acknowledged it with a heavy heart. Aku was still capable, albeit indirectly, of hurting Jack; for his destruction meant a terrible consequence for Ashi, since she was his biological daughter.
With a final sigh, the young woman vanished much like sea foam upon the ocean waves, leaving only her garments and a gaping wound in the married couple's hearts.
For the devastated lovers, the days passed by as in a dream, a tragic dream from which neither could awaken.
Within a forest blanketed in a thick, impenetrable gray fog, Jack mourns over Ashi's passing. Deep down, he blames himself for what's happened.
In her sorrow, Ariel had wandered into the very same forest, lost in thought about the young woman she'd come to love as a daughter. She laments, "Oh Ashi. All I wanted to do was help Jack return home, and that you could stay with us, as the family you needed more than anything. But I couldn't. I don't know why I thought I could save you too. I let everyone down."
The distraught ex-mermaid sat down under a tree, not knowing Jack was on the other side.
Suddenly, Jack sees a ladybug which instantly reminds him of Ashi. The little insect then flies towards the opposite side of the tree, landing on Ariel's knuckles. She stares at it with mild interest before it flutters up before her.
Then, as Ariel looks wistfully on to where the ladybug is flying away – a direction where she knew the sea was located- we hear a faint reprise of 'Under the Sea' in a melancholy strain. "I miss you, Daddy. I wish you could be right here with us."
Jack hears her and walks over. Just before he could speak however, to their surprise, a seagull drops a glowing scroll onto the grass at their feet.
The scroll had a seal with the letter V, it could only refer to Vanessa. Hesitantly, they opened it.
Forgive me for not being there during your wedding, for I too felt the lasting effects of Aku's dark influence over my own form. However it is nothing compared to the fact that you've lost someone dear to you. My deepest condolences.
But take heart, the things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect."
As they reflect on the happy times they had with Ashi, the couple is finally able to come to terms with their grief. They understand that even though Ashi's gone, they're grateful for the memories they have of her. For without her noble sacrifice, Jack would have never saved the universe from Aku.
"In some small way, Ashi is not gone, she's still with us." Jack finally said gently.
The clouds then part, revealing a beautiful Japanese maple tree filled valley visible on the very edge of the horizon, a place that will never again be decimated by Aku, showing that the future will be a bright one. By finding inspiration in the beauty of the world around them, in the very nature she loved, the couple regains hope in the same way she had. For true victory comes in fighting for what we know is right while we still live.
"Maybe she hasn't been reborn in this time just yet." Ariel whispers.
They rode on horseback towards the Imperial city, then proceeded through the village on foot. Just then, something catches Ariel's eye, causing her to catch her breath in a gasp.
Jack notices her reaction, following her gaze before freezing in near disbelief.
"Ashi?" Ariel whispered.
Lo, against all odds, it would seem Ashi didn't entirely vanish, nor did she turn into a speck of sea foam. For she had loved so generously, with no thought of herself that in some bizarre backwards reincarnation, she has returned to them as a young Japanese girl. But apparently with no memory of her past life.
Jack places a caring hand on Ariel's shoulder, even as she softly begins to sing the first notes of her mother's lullaby. To their jubilant relief, the young woman turns towards them, singing the rest of the lyrics as if remembering.
Vanessa's words rang true. They were reunited.