Before the youth could become fully encompassed within roots and vines, a sudden noise causes the Beast to lose focus; aggravated he turns to his attention towards its direction. A sort of strong fluttering, like the beating of large wings. Several more.

To Bastion and Haruna's great surprise and joy, the girls had returned as they'd said. And this time in their guardian shapes: fuchsia and turquoise uniforms complete with iridescent fairy-like wings.

"Step away from the couple!" Beth ordered.

"Back off, pal!" Theo threatened, her hands enveloped in bright angry orange flames.

Fire. It was an unwelcome element in not only the woods of the Unknown, but to the Beast as well. He swiftly sidestepped a fireball from the guardian, intending to let his rival burn.

Fortunately, Haruna helped Bastion out of the edelwood before the fireball hit. And they visibly winced, having caught a glimpse of the Beast's true form in the fiery light.

"You can't keep her in the Unknown if she doesn't want to!" Yui piped up. "Especially now that she's got her powers back."

"Furthermore, even with all the formal stuff that binding ceremony she didn't consent at all." added Sara even as she used the waters of a nearby creek as a shield, "Which means that your union with her is invalid."

"Then I shall MAKE IT so!" The Beast hissed in a demonic voice.

But the Master of Burzee stepped forward and stopped him. The guardians stayed where they were prepared to move in case things get ugly. From their viewpoint they could other denizens of this purgatory had heard the commotion and now watched, curious to know where this would lead.

Ak then stated, "Regardless, it's not up to you. Only the maiden herself has the right to choose who she wishes to be with. And hear my words well both of you: whoever she decides, you are bound to follow through upon it without any reprisals. And that includes your allies too!"

They could swear they saw him glare at something out of the corner of his eye. And yet there appeared to be nothing there – only Beth, the leader of the Guardians, knew to whom that accusing glance was directed at. And it wasn't just Lady Despair.

Haruna froze, feeling uneasy with all the eyes on her.

At one part, she has good friends in the Unknown and the flora here is bountiful. Yet while The Beast had acquired a more comely appearance sole y for her - beauty is merely an illusion. Withal his survival required the sacrifice of many that despair in the woods become trees that would then be cut down for oil. The guilt doing nothing to stop him would surely weigh heavily on her conscience for all time lest she unwillingly loses her memory via grief or some underhanded spell, and forgetting everyone she loved was one of the last things she wanted to do.

Then there was Bastion. True, he had his faults as did everyone. He loved her, though, and had proved his love many times. They both might be young and appear inexperienced to most of the world, but they've always managed to work it all quite well. Life with him won't be simple with or without her powers, for life never truly is. However she would have a happy union together with him and ready to face the future.

"You know I don't, if I did, they'd have left us alone. But it's Bastion who holds my heart. I love him! I love him so much that if I lose him I'll die! You know I can't remain here for all time, I need my family and friends. You're only keeping me here as you would a wild songbird in a gilded cage." Haruna strongly proclaimed. "There is nothing for me with you, and I could never love you in a million years. If there truly is some form of love you genuinely feel for me, I can only hope that in our happiness at being together again, Bastion and I can find it in our hearts to forgive you."

Like that, his impassioned heart shattered. The Beast's body shudders with horror, rage and disappointment. He's not going to take lightly to this deception to this betrayal he's ready to corrupt/consume to destroy all that stand in his way.

He then promptly lunged at Bastion with a horrific shriek of evil. Haruna was shoved away by Bastion, the various witnesses screamed in fear and alarm.


And everything became deathly quiet.

Everyone seemed unsure what had happened. The Beast glanced down, at the silver axe buried inside of his chest. It was gripped tightly in the hands of the Great Ak, his expression thunderous.

"The Law of the Great Ak is absolute in his domain and to deny, or defy it is to incur destruction, or worse." The Beast recalled The Night telling him this once, many ages ago.

"She has made her choice." The Great Ak's eyes narrowed angrily. "And so have you..."

The Beast touched his wounded chest and with a final desolate glance towards Haruna, his body shimmered, wavering as the mist would fade in the dawns early light. And the Beast was soon gone from sight. No more.

"He is gone. And will trouble no one no more." The Great Ak spoke.

"I definitely heard something crack, and if it wasn't the dark lantern, it was inside him." Dana remarked.

"Eh, he was a two-faced jerk anyway." Theo said darkly.

Ak approaches the couple, "Young lovers, the two of you have my blessings as well as the Night's. May Aslan always smile upon you both."

"Thank you," Haruna smiled.

The other beings from the Unknown wished the couple and their friends well with the group thanking them for their help.

Bastion and Haruna held each other close, "Everyone from here in the Unknown to Burzee want us to be happy, and that's just what we're going to be - always!"

The other guardians smiled, happy their friend was reunited with her beloved once more now all they had to do was return home…

"Oh-oh! We all better get home, the no maj authorities are rounding up the wrong suspects." Beth suddenly remembered. "These ones might be jerks but they shouldn't go to jail for something they didn't do."

"That's right!" Haruna and Bastion shared their concern, "Our families must be wondering what happened to us by then."

And so the group returned home, the young woman was happily reunited with her parents and other friends and cleared up the situation before someone innocent could be accused for Haruna's disappearance.

The following day there was quite a homecoming celebration on the part of their dear friends and neighbors – and the cheers for when Bastion and Haruna declared their love was deafening.

Of course, it had gotten stronger under the strangest of circumstances, but who can actually say where or when true love will come along or develop as it had with these young lovers. Thus it was true love that had vanquished this dark force and emerged triumphant!

The End.