Summerlee watched his friends as they made the last arrangements before their long awaited departure took place. A strange mix of happiness and melancholy was present in the air that day. Everyone was happy to finally go home, yet incredibly sad to live this magnificent place.
They were all strangers once, starting out on a journey, never dreaming what they would have to go through.
"No here we are". Summerlee said to himself. "At the end of one adventure and at the beginning of another."
Summerlee knew he had made the right decision to stay in Avalon, but he couldn't deny the regret he was going to feel once he missed all of the important life events in his friends lives, like John and Marguerite's wedding for starters.
Oh, how incredibly in love they looked when they finally admitted their feelings to each other. Summerlee had been fond of their relationship since the early days and now that they were officially a couple his heart was overfilled with pride and joy.
Lord Roxton had said numerous of times how the Challenger Expedition had been one of the highlights of his life and of course falling in love with the beautiful and mysterious companion was the most contributing factor to the statement.
"No one told me, I was going to find her. Unexpected, what she did to my heart. When I lost hope, she was there to remind me… this is the start." John had spoken these words to Summerlee right before he went and proposed to Marguerite. He couldn't do it before he spoke to Summerlee first. He needed encouragement from his older friend. That was why Summerlee was there for: to provide encouragement and give support.
Today Marguerite was the one who sought him out again. She was very nervous about going home and meeting her family. She had been dreaming about it her whole life, but now that she was practically there, indescribable fear overcame her. She worried how they were going to react to her, how long would it take them to accept her. Summerlee knew Marguerite's family, the Blackwells, pretty well. They were very much like Roxtons, a decent upper-class British family. There was no doubt in Summerlee's mind that they would love Marguerite at first sight.
"Arms will open wide. You'll be safe and wanted, finally home where you belong." Summerllee reassured her. "Just have courage and be patient."
Next in line it was Challenger who approached Summerlee to say goodbye. He had his hair cut short and his beard completely shaven off. He looked younger and so much different. The explorers had decided to travel incognito until they reached England and they had taken necessary actions to look and appear different. Contrariwise to Challenger's hair removal, Roxton was going home with a three-month-long beard. It looked good on him. Marguerite praised the handsome manliness around it.
"Well, my friend. This is it." Challenger said. "Wish us good luck. It's pity I didn't have more time to study and explore rich libraries of Avalon but I guess they will have to wait until I return."
"When will that be?"
"In two year's time I suppose. One year is too soon."
"Make sure to take few photographs at John and Marguerite's wedding. I already hate that I have to miss it." Summerlee requested.
"Of course." Challenger replied. "I will buy a new camera just for the occasion."
Veronica and Ned spent the entire day playing with Leo. It was decided that Leo would stay in Avalon. The little boy loved the place, he got very attached to Abigail and he made a lot friends among Avalon children. He declared he was going to become an Avatar.
Abigail and Summerlee watched as the explorers packed the last items into a hot flying balloon. Marguerite, of course, had her gemstones neatly organized in wooden boxes, Malone bundled his journals in a leather cover and Roxtons prepared the rifles and ammunition. They still had to cross the Amazon jungle until they reached the civilization and it was still a dangerous place.
Abigail then gathered them in circle to give them the traveling documents. She had a lot of valuable contacts and allies in the outside world and she managed to get them all new passports. However, she had an extra document for Marguerite.
"What is it?" Veronica asked, confused.
"It's her birth certificate." Roxton replied, amazed.
Marguerite stayed quiet as her eyes carefully examined the paper. Summerlee had already seen it. He knew exactly what was written on it.
Marguerite Catherine Blackwell. Born 28.06.1894.
Father: Robert Charles Blackwell Born 19.06.1864.
Mother: Catherine Rosetta Blackwell, nee Lewinson. Born 25.03.1870.
"Thank you so much, Abigail." Marguerite said as her eyes soaked in happy tears. "You don't know how much this means to me."
"You're very welcome, my dear. But that's not all. Come everyone. I still have one little surprise left for you."
She lead them into the castle and showed them the portraits which had already been hung on the wall, earlier that day. It was amazing how she managed to portrait them so accurately and in such detail, without them having to pose for it. She was a truly gifted artist.
"Abigail, this is without a doubt the best piece of art I have ever seen." Malone commented. "This is a perfect ending to a beautiful story."
"Thank you, Malone, although this isn't the perfect ending. This is the perfect beginning."
Abigal had never spoken more truer words and what happened next is a story for another time. One adventure has ended but there's always another to begin.
Summerlee decided to finish this chapter by reading the final entry from Malone's journals.
"One more scene and I'm done. Last night we all supped in the tree house, and sitting together after we smoked in a good comradeship and talked our adventures over. It was strange under these altered surroundings that all of us are together again in the tree house. There was Challenger, with his smile of condescension, his drooping eyelids, his intolerant eyes, his aggressive beard, his huge chest, swelling and puffing as he laid down the law to Summerlee. And Summerlee, too, there he was with his short brier between his thin mustache and his gray goat's- beard, his worn face protruded in eager debate as he queried all Challenger's propositions. Then, there was Roxton, with his rugged, eagle face, and his cold, blue, glacier eyes with always a shimmer of devilment and of humor down in the depths of The Lost World.
On the other side of the table there are the women. Beautiful and mysterious Miss Krux with her long dark curly hair and those enigmatic grey eyes, whom I've once described as dangerous and possibly deadly. Today I describe her as the most capable and resourceful member of our little group. Veronica, the love of my life. My only love. With her golden locks and beautiful silky dress that she started wearing in Avalon. She whispers something to Marguerite and they both giggle. I wonder if they are talking about me.
Finally there's Abigail, our Avalon hostess who is quietly observing us all. Pure love and pride show off in her eyes. Such is the last picture of them that I have carried away."