Out of the Ashes

Van walked.

He passed through the charred pillars and other remains of his long-ago kingdom. The kingdom that his own brother had burned, the kingdom in which his parents had died, and his sad destiny had begun.

He stopped when he reached the banks of the Adon river. He stared across the blue water and tried to fight away the images that always plagued his mind.

Hitomi…

"I can sense my brother, he's near," Van whispered. Hitomi looked up at him wearily, worried at the small shake in his voice.

"Van…"

But Van was silent, his eyes narrowing and darkening and he stared ahead. Hitomi followed his eyes and gasped.

A man walked slowly towards them, and stopped a good distance off.

"Hello, brother," his hollow voice echoed around Van and Hitomi, and Van braced himself as he felt his brother raise his power.

"Folken, I don't want to fight you-"

"Stop joking."

Van was knocked off of Escaflowne and fell to the ground with a grunt. Hitomi immediately was at his side, helping him to his feet.

"Van, are you all right?" Hitomi asked, brushing strands of hair from his face. She started and jumped back when Van's brother spoke again.

"Get up," Folken whispered dangerously. "Get up and face me! Be the king the fates chose you to be!"

"No!" Van shouted, standing and causing Hitomi to gasp and back away. "I won't fight anymore!"

Folken narrowed his eyes and lowered his head. "All right then. Die right now."

Hitomi felt something shatter in her chest as Folken's power rose around him.

Van can't die!

Her body kicked into full gear as she threw herself towards Van. She closed her eyes and threw her arms around him, hearing his breath leave him in a small grunt as she embraced him. The air in the room was electric as Folken focused his power and released it towards them. Hitomi felt the power scream towards her, but all she could hear was Van's heartbeat, and she hugged him tighter, closing her eyes.

Van will be safe…

Van hadn't had time to shove her away, Folken had released his power too quickly. Van tried to turn around, to get her out of the path of the power, but Folken was too fast, he's been too damned fast…

"Hitomi?" Van asked quietly, touching her face. Her head just lolled to the side. "Hi-Hitomi!" Van nearly sobbed. He gained no reaction.

He'd lost her…

Folken's Black Dragon Empire had fallen. Gaia was free again. People all around the planet rejoiced. Balls and festivities broke out all over the planet as every country celebrated the returning of peace. All the soldiers were imprisoned, and the Black Dragon officials executed, some publicly.

It was over.

But Van could not end the war in his own mind and soul. Everywhere he looked, she was there. He saw her in a million faces, in a million places. The vast greens of the mountains that matched her eyes exactly, the golden sheen on the wheat fields that glinted just like her honey hued hair had.

Van closed his eyes, shutting out the world that would not let him forget. If this was how the rest of his life was going to be, he hated Hitomi for sparing him. He tried to hate her for what she had done. She'd left him alone, lost, and wandering in a world he knew nothing of. In all of his eighteen years, he had never known a planet at peace, and now that Gaia was back in harmony, he didn't know what to do with himself. He'd put away his swords and daggers, washed off the traces of blood, and returned his Dragon Armor, the Escaflowne, to a safe hiding place. Not knowing what else to do, he'd returned to his home, his ruined kingdom of Adon, to rule over crumbling stone and ashes…as king.

A.N. Hello all. I feel bad about starting another fic when so many of mine sit unfinished, but this idea would simply not leave me alone and insisted on bouncing around my brain until I finally gave in and flipped on my laptop. So, now that I have less than seven hours to sleep before my next class, the story is down, the idea is quieted, and I am thoroughly exhausted. Please review so I know it was not for naught. Goodnight! *passes out*