Author's Notes:

Hello everyone, if you've made it this far then I would like to extend a heartwarming thank you. This is it, the finale of Arc 1: Falling in Love. So last time, Amber learned the whole truth. Everything she had been led to believe by the Dark Robed Society had been one giant lie. She was being used to find the last Spix's Macaw family to exist. Can she stand up to Roger and win back her life? Or is it already too late? Can she and Jewel live peacefully together? Find out.


Chapter Eighteen

Roger grew in height as he raised himself up onto his talons and spread his wings as far as he could. His large muscular body bobbed in and out as he panted. His fierce bloodshot eyes, matched by the empty blackness they contained, all made him appear to be the definition of insanity, demonic, and unpredictably dangerous. He cut the picture of an imposing figure, which only spread the humiliation and intimidation factors onto his opponent. The wind whistled through the grotto, swaying vine line leaves that surrounded the entire area. Roger cackled as he felt the evening chill seep through his bones. He forced a sly smile, slamming a talon against the dirt ground.

"Do you really think that you can stand up to me, girl?" he arched a curious eyebrow and cracked a vicious smile. "Amusing, to tell the truth, I hoped it would come to this. You were going to die anyway, at least now I'll be the one who will send you straight to the afterlife. I wonder if mommy and daddy will meet you on the other side."

Roger cackled and threw his body through the air like a missile. He spun horizontally through the air, adding to his maneuverability, and appeared directly behind Amber within mere seconds. He laughed and slammed his shoulder straight into Amber's spine before she could respond with an attack of her own. She flew forward, bouncing off the dirt as her head contacted a sharp rock. She let out an audible gasp as she made contact and landed on the ground, trembling and convulsing with seizure-like symptoms. Flapping her wings as hard as she could, she quickly regained control just as blood started drifting down the fresh would across her forehead.

"You are not so tough," she squawked, spitting to clear the dirt and grime from her beak.

"If that's the best you can do, you can never defeat me. And to think I was expecting some big scary monster that I could not even lay my wings upon, but you aren't, are you? You are just some insane bird with an over-inflated ego."

Stung by the insult, Roger continued his onslaught. Leaping through the air and quickly landing on the female. Both birds cratered the ground beneath them as he contacted her body once more. He lashed out with his wing, aiming for her face, but found his efforts blocked by his opponent's talons.

"Tell me why you destroyed my life. Don't make me fight back and kill you. Tell me what I want to know and I won't rip your head off."

Roger cackled and leaped through the air once more, landing a short distance away. He panted from the sheer efforts of continuing his attacks. He shook his head and ruffled his feathers.

"I did it because I needed to influence the events of your life," he explained. "I needed an individual who could grow angry and hate the world… when I saw you for the first time crying because you were losing your childhood, I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for… a figure who could bare the mark of vengeance… also, your life seemed a bit too perfect and I could not have that, so I found it necessary to stir up some drama and destroy whatever I could."

"You are sick," Amber screeched. "You have destroyed my entire life. You are pure evil."

"Exactly, that is the whole concept." Roger chuckled, raising his wing and revealing the mark glowing upon it. "I own the mark of duality, which means that there is pure evil to my actions but also a hidden purpose behind them, but then again that brings up the purpose of the marks, it would not have attached itself to you unless your heart contained some darkness. When you were lying mortally wounded and dying, the mark must have found something it could feed off of, giving you one last chance to claim your unfinished business. You control the mark of vengeance, so surely you, in your last moments, must have wanted to make someone pay… you wanted to see them suffer… you wanted revenge. Face it, girl, you are every bit as evil as I am. I am not the only villain here. You are just as twisted and despicable as I am."

Raising his wings, Roger charged forward, readying himself for another attack. Striking out, he found himself blocked by the wings of the second female macaw, Jewel. His eyes widened in shock at the interference.

"What?!" he screeched, staring venomously at the intruding creature. "You will regret interfering in our battle, little girl. I will make you suffer before you die."

"Oh, I don't think so," Jewel smiled.

With all the strength her body could muster, she spun the Scarlet Macaw around until she gained enough momentum to toss him from her and straight into the broad trunk of a nearby tree. Jewel laughed as she watched his body bounce, arching forward as his spine contacted the broad trunk of a sturdy sycamore. Jewel raised her wings and dropped into her fighting pose. Her beak curled into a wicked smile.

"You are nothing compared to what Nigel was," Jewel mused. "Now that was an intimidating creature, he was strong and vicious. You are just despicable, nothing more, you are nothing compared to a real threatening force."

Roger continued to laugh like a demon from the pits of Hell. He crawled along the ground, eyeing the two females who seemed to give him a run for his money. The veins across his face swelled and bulged. His eyes burned bright, as he could no longer control his temper.

"I'll make you regret that, Jewel." He hissed, "I'll make you watch your sister die before you join her on the other side. That way she can at least meet you at the gates of the underworld."

Jewel turned to Amber for a quick second, her face filled with concern for her onetime enemy.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yeah," Amber nodded her head. "Thanks, Jewel, I owe you one."

Jewel forced a smile and turned her attention back to the Scarlet Macaw. He grabbed her by the throat and lifted her defenseless body from the ground. Jewel choked as she struggled to free herself from his firm grip, but found she could not move a muscle.

"Let me go," she choked out.

Roger pretended to think about it for a moment. His wing drifted to his throat. His talons tightened around his neck. His eyes continued to burn into hers.

"Beg for mercy, macaw," he laughed cruelly, "Say that you're sorry to have interfered in our little fight… say I'm sorry for upsetting someone who is as handsome and as intelligent as you are, Roger. Then once that is done... why don't you do me the honor of letting me kill you. I want to see you bleed, I want to see you suffer, I want to see you burn."

"Never!" Jewel tried to spit with disgust, but found herself unable to do so in her present situation.

"Then, after careful consideration, I think I would much rather choke the life out of you. Doesn't that sound like a fun little game?"

Without warning, the scarlet macaw's back arched forward as a heavy object shot into his spinal cord. He released Jewel and fell to the ground with a sickening crash.

"What was that?" he asked. Turning his head to see Blu standing over top of him. His large masculine wings and razor-sharp beak poised in an unimpressive attack position… Roger could no longer deny that Blu was the one who had attacked him from behind.

"YOU?!" Roger's eyes widened in disbelief. "You can't attack me! My fight was with the females."

"Yeah," Blu nodded his head, "However allies defend allies. You should really brush up on your battle tactics."

Roger could feel his blood boiling. His face continued to grow darker with his rage. His eyes seemed to almost catch fire as he became lost in his anger. He moved forward, limping from the severe damage to his body. He chuckled and pointed a wing towards Amber. "Do you really think it ends here?" he asked. "You fool! I have marked you with the shadows. It will never be over for you. The horrors won't end."

Amber peered down at her mark. Its glow burned into her wing, even though the light seemed to die out. She could feel it still piercing her body.

"I told you when I helped you that there would be a cost for my assistance, now it is time for you to pay up. The price, however, is steep."

"What is it?" she asked. "What is the price that I am being forced to pay?"

"Death," he cackled, raising his wing to point at her. "The mark is devouring you piece by piece with each moment. It's poisoned your mind, clouded your vision, forced you to turn on the one family member you have left... and in the end, you signed your own death warrant. The poison which flows through you is about to claim your life. She will either die here tonight or she will crumble to dust at the stroke of midnight. Either way, she is not leaving here alive."

Blu caught sight of his plan. "It's a death curse. Amber never really had a chance to survive."

Roger gave no reply. His eyes merely glistened as he worked his way back, step by step, towards a nearby ledge. He would escape and live to face off against the macaws another day. Amber, however, would not be so lucky. His eyes widened as he noticed the scarlet macaw's last few steps. He had turned sisters against each other, poisoned one of their thoughts, gave her a death curse, and he was about to escape so he could do it all again. Blu spun around as he addressed Jewel.

"Where does that ledge go?" he asked her.

Jewel thought about it as quickly as she could. "Uhhhhhhhh I think it overlooks Copacabana and the ocean." She said after a few seconds. "If he gets there, he'll escape, and this won't end. We need to stop him here and now."

Amber's eyes narrowed as her mind formed a plan. Picking a nail from her talon, she slit her own throat and watched as her body crumbled. The skin and feathers around her body faded into dust, leaving behind only the raw bone.

She lowered her head. "It doesn't matter when it goes, the point is we have to stop him. I'm dead anyway, so I will do it." Her voice sank to a low whisper.

"I'm so sorry Jewel. I hope that one day you will forgive me for everything that I did to you. I always wanted to be a good bird. Perhaps if I would have had more time I could have met someone like Blu." She turned her attention to Blu. "As for you, after everything I did, you still stayed by sister's side. I like you, please take care of her and be happy."

In one final charge, Amber ran forward, spreading her wings wide. Without wasting a moment, she tackled Roger and dragged him across the ground. Roger gave one last scream as both he and Amber plunged over the edge of the enormous cliff just as the final few pieces of flesh crumbled into dust upon the breeze. Roger's scream vanished as he plunged to the city and the beach far below, taking Amber's skeletal remains with him.

Blu and Jewel ran to the edge of the cliff. Jewel's eyes welled with tears as she watched her sister disappear to the city far below. There had been no attempt to save herself, no concern for her personal safety. She only thought about Roger's defeat and the curse which would ultimately make her suffer the same fate as the one she shared. Jewel lowered her head as she realized what Amber had done. She went out on her own terms and not the one-handed to her. She closed her eyes and let her tears fall.

"You were not as cold-hearted as you wanted to believe yourself to be," she wept. "You saved us and ensured that our children will grow up with both parents."


#


Almost appropriate for the events taking place that day, the afternoon brought a sky of leaden gray and a soft summer's rain. The small gathering of birds bowed their heads in silence to pay their final respects to the deceased female who gave her life to stop a growing evil. Jewel lowered her head as she peered at the rocky outcrop which served the purpose of a grave marker. She wiped the tears away from her eyes and placed a decorative bouquet of wildflowers on the base of the stone.

"You were not as evil as you thought you were." She sighed, "No creature with a heart of pure evil could sacrifice themselves the way you did. We have set up this grave to honor you and all of our family who never got a chance to rest properly." She continued, lowering her head and wiping the tears from her eyes. "I love you," she admitted. "Sometimes you were scary, sometimes you seemed dangerous, but regardless, you were my sister. How could I not love you like my family? You have allowed my children to grow up with both of their parents and brought Roger's evil to an end. I thank you with all of my heart, Amber."

She felt Blu creep up behind her and place his wings around her. She smiled as he, too, spoke to the family marker.

"We'll never forget your kindness," he said. "In fact, Jewel and I have decided. Once the Blue Bird Sanctuary opens, we will move to the grotto to honor your memory. We will raise our kids there and I hope that your spirit will help guide them through the right choices in life and help them grow stronger as they journey through their own adventures together." Blu did not speak anymore. He kissed Jewel on the side of her beak and whispered in her ear. "I will give you a couple of moments alone to say your goodbyes."

Jewel nodded her head and seated herself on the ground. She formed a comfortable smile as she felt the wind whistle through her feathers.

"I'm alright."

Jewel's ears twitched as she listened to the breeze. Her beak dropped as she felt a sense of peace growing inside of her.

"Thank you for letting me know that you are okay, Amber." Jewel smiled. "There isn't a day where I don't wonder what you're doing. Are you happy up there? Did you find the peace you wanted?" Jewel wiped the tears from her eyes. Her beak trembled as she continued. "I also thought you should know, my children were born the other day. You have a niece and two nephews. We named them Buster, Kinski, and Rose. We thought the boys should be named after colors, while the girl should be named after a precious gem, just like we were. They have so much of your rebellious attitude, I'm sure you would have loved them."

Silence from the grave was Jewel's only reply. She nodded her head and smiled. She knew Amber would be okay. Her memory would never be forgotten. She would tell the story several times to her children so they could learn more about the bird who helped her and Blu fall even deeper in love than even she thought would have been possible.

"Goodbye, Amber," she sighed, kissing her wing. She placed it on the stone. "I'll be back to visit you sometime. Maybe the kids too once they learn how to fly." As Jewel turned away, she felt a set of eyes watching her. She turned back, smiling as she found no one. "Goodbye, Amber." she closed her eyes, heading back to where Blu was waiting for her.


#


True to her word, Jewel visited Amber's grave as often as possible. Bringing a bunch of wildflowers with her, she appropriately placed them on the grass and smiled as she seated herself. She dusted the gravestone with her wing and spoke. "Hello, sister," she said, trying to hide any sort of sadness in her voice.

"I hope your morning has been good."

No reply came from the stone. Jewel knew she could never hold a proper conversation with her sister again. Still, she shook her head and continued onwards.

"The kids are growing nice. Buster and Kinski are little troublemakers like you were as a kid. Rose has taken up studying the jungle with her father. She's almost as intelligent as I am, but she has a way to go before she matches Blu in intellect. You would be proud of them… and they would love to meet you someday."

Jewel wiped the growing tears in her eyes. She couldn't hold them back and soon they ran down her cheek, leaving damp impressions across her cerulean feathers. "The boys want to draw you a picture. Blu taught them how to do such a thing. I hope you don't mind."

Again, no sound came from the gravestone. She continued onwards. "The Blue Bird Sanctuary has been set up, so today we're moving to the grotto where you died. We don't speak about death to the children. They think you live here, and just are too busy to visit."

"Jewel?"

The female macaw jumped with fright. She had been so engrossed in her conversation that she failed to hear Blu sneaking up behind her. "I thought you'd want to know, we're preparing to say our goodbyes to Linda and Tulio."

Jewel nodded her head. "Ok, I'm coming."


#


The sun set upon the horizon, painting the sky a fabulous scarlet. Blu and Jewel stood on the upper balcony of the Blue Bird Sanctuary headquarters. Tulio stroked Jewel's feathery crown with a single finger before tossing her into the air. Jewel immediately took flight through the sky and hovered in the air, waiting for Blu to follow her. Blu and Linda shared their secret handshake for the very last time and watched Blu fly off through the sky.

"That's my big brave boy," she smiled.

Blu and Jewel peered back only once, waving their wings as their last goodbye to the humans who had taken care of them. "Are you ready to go, Blu?" Jewel asked him, smiling reassuringly at him.

"Yeah," Blu nodded his head. "Let's go home."


Author's Notes

Well, guys, that's it... that's the end of Arc 1: Falling in Love. I hope that you have enjoyed the ride, and that you have enjoyed the twist and turns leading to Blu and Jewel becoming who they are today. But don't think the ride is over. We still have a lot of story to go through. Be on the lookout for Arc 2: The Revenge Game. Till then, Happy Thanksgiving. I'll see you again soon.