Chapter 30: Praise
Kendra woke up the next morning, feeling completely rejuvenated. What had happened that previous night, now felt like it had been nothing more than a bad dream. But had she really experienced everything that transpired?
Kendra trotted downstairs to the bathroom, washed up and ventured back up to her room to change into fresh clothes, not drawing the attention of anybody else in the process. Her stomach grumbling, Kendra opted to head down to the kitchen, hoping to find herself some breakfast.
As Kendra walked into the kitchen she saw Warren sitting at the table by himself, arms folded in his lap. "Good morning, Kendra."
"Warren!" gasped Kendra. "Where is everybody?"
"We've been waiting for you, sleepyhead. They're all out back in the garden. They won't all fit in here."
Feeling ever so nervous, Kendra followed Warren outside, where surely enough, all of her family and friends were waiting for her, most of whom were seated at patio tables.
"Kendra!" exclaimed Mrs. Sorenson, as she ran over to her daughter and hugged her. "You did it! We're all right!"
"We're all very proud of you," said Mr. Sorenson, as he took his turn to hug Kendra.
"Warren told us everything," said Grandpa. "And in honor of your victory, we've thrown you all a victory breakfast!"
"Eat up," said Grandma. "we've got croissants, fruits, eggs, sausages and more!"
"But that's not all," said Grandpa. "I've spoken to Trask, and he's making arrangements for a celebration at the Fairbanks'."
"Who're the Fairbanks'?" asked Lance.
"That's right, you're not familiar with them," said Grandma. "Basically, they're wealthy affiliates of the Knights of the Dawn. Kendra went to their home for a meeting before travelling to Lost Mesa last year."
"Please, Kendra," said Grandpa. "Help yourself to some food and eat up. We've got a big day ahead of us!"
Kendra went over to a buffet table and loaded a plate with pieces of melon, a croissant, a sausage and some scrambled eggs, then made her way over to a nearby spot by a fish pond where Raxtus was curled up.
"You hungry, Raxtus?" asked Kendra, offering her sausage to the fairy dragon.
"Thanks," said Raxtus, accepting the sausage and tossing it into his mouth. "We did good, didn't we?"
"Yup," said Kendra, leaning back against Raxtus, as she started to eat a slice of melon. "We sure did."
A few minutes later, after Kendra had finished her plate, Lance strolled up to her, looking somewhat worried.
"What's wrong?" asked Kendra.
"I heard your folks talking earlier. They were doing what they could to find me a normal home. Man, I wish I'd kept my mouth shut before. After experiencing Fablehaven first-hand, I feel that I'd be much happier living in a place like this, rather than being shut-off from it entirely."
"It's all right," said Kendra. Even if you're not living among it, your knowledge of the magical world will never truly leave you. And we won't forget about you, either."
"But at least Stan and Ruth are your grandparents. You had a reason to keep coming back here. If I get sent off to live with someone else, who knows if I'll ever make it back here."
"I'm sure they're doing what they can to make sure you don't get neglected," said Kendra. "But as for what that is, I don't have the slightest idea. Sorry."
The breakfast lasted until the early afternoon, at which point much of the food had been replaced with salads, devilled eggs, roast chicken, vegetable sticks and more. Kendra and Seth spent much of the time talking to their family, in addition to their friends like Lance, Bright, Clover, Raxtus and Jet. Even Newel and Doren had been relieved of their duty, and were back as well.
As the late afternoon approached, Seth came around to Kendra. "Guess what! We're going to the Fairbanks' tonight for dinner!"
"Tonight?" asked Kendra. "But they live all the way down in Georgia!"
"They said something about taking Jet soon. You should get ready!"
Was this for real? Nevertheless, Kendra went back inside, washed up once again, then searched her closet for something to wear, but couldn't decide upon anything.
"What's wrong?" asked Bright, who was standing in the doorway to the attic.
"We're going to a fancy gathering tonight, and I don't know what I should wear. What do you think?"
"How about this?" asked Bright, as she directed her magic at Kendra. Within an instant, Kendra was suddenly wearing a long, gorgeous, white gown.
Kendra smiled in awe. "Just like Cinderella," she said. "Thank you, Bright!"
"I'm not really supposed to spoil you like this, but... who cares? Enjoy your gown!"
When Kendra went back downstairs to wait in the living room, everyone gave her compliments on her gown. Mrs. Sorenson remarked that she had never seen the gown before in her life. Despite that, when Kendra explained to her that she had been given the gown by Bright, Mrs. Sorenson didn't appear to be jealous or upset. She completely approved.
Everyone soon gathered in the living room, wearing either a dress or a tuxedo. Even Dale, who never seemed to leave the preserve, had dressed up.
"Who'll be looking after Fablehaven while we're gone?" asked Kendra.
"Don't worry," said Grandpa. "The Knights of the Dawn are sending over several of their top men, who will be assisted by both Hugo and Mendigo. It's only for a few hours, so there shouldn't be any serious problems."
Grandpa then stopped to look at his watch. "Oh, our ride will be ready any moment. Let's go outside!"
As everyone left the living room and stepped out into the front yard, Seth stopped to look at everybody. "Uh, no offence, but why are we all dressed up fancy if we're riding to this place on the back of Jet? And for that matter, how're we all gonna fit?"
"Seth," said Grandma, "we're not riding there on Jet the phoenix. We're riding there on a jet. A private jet."
At that moment, a small jet plane soared down from above the trees and landed in a clearing in the front yard.
"Awesome," said Seth, once the plane came to a complete stop and the engines had shut down.
At that point, a stairway unfolded from beneath the door on the sleek, white jet, which then opened up. Several unidentifiable people stepped off the plane, as did Aaron Stone.
"Good afternoon," said Aaron. "There folks here are the temporary guards that will be looking after Fablehaven for the night. "As for the rest of you, come on in! Except for the dragon and the phoenix. Sorry, but you're both a bit too large to fly in here."
"We could shrink you two down," said Clover to Raxtus and Jet.
"Or Raxtus could just assume his human form," said Kendra.
"Nah," said Raxtus, "Jet and I would rather just fly alongside the plane."
"That's why we were given wings," added Jet.
"All right," said Kendra, "see you two when we get there."
Aaron then got back on the plane, and was followed on-board by all the human and fairy passengers. Inside the posh-looking cabin were several leather sofas, along with tables, curtains and a minibar. Kendra and Seth sauntered over to one of the sofas and plopped themselves down, as did the rest of the passengers.
A moment later, the jet began speeding along the grounds of Fablehaven, before ascending into the air very quick and smoothly. Gazing out one of the windows, Kendra and Seth both watched as their winged friends were flying to the side. As fun as it was to ride on the backs of either a dragon or phoenix, a nice, cushy ride on a private plane had its perks as well. During the flight, Grandpa mentioned that the caretaker of Duskreef Lagoon had called earlier to inform him that Mariana had made it there.
In just under two hours, the plane began to descend. By this point, the sun was close to setting. Everyone peered outside as the plane reached a clearing somewhere in the countryside.
Soon the plane landed, then strolled along the ground momentarily before finally stopping.
"We're here," said Aaron, coming out from the cockpit and opening the entry door. "Come on out."
Kendra and Seth joined the group as they made their way out the door and walked down off the plane. They were now in the grand backyard of the Fairbanks' estate, not far from the castle. Kendra had been here before, but never to this part. To Seth, this visit was a whole new experience for him.
"Hello!" said Trask, who had been waiting for everyone from the patio. "Well done, everyone! You've done a fantastic job!"
As the group, now rejoined by Raxtus and Jet, walked over to Trask, he greeted everyone with a firm handshake.
"I'd thank you all right now, but that can wait for the dinner, I think. Please, come on in! Everybody's waiting for you!"
Trask led the group through a pair of large, glass doors, into what appeared to be a ballroom. Numerous people, most of whom neither Seth or Kendra even recognized, had been standing around and talking to one another. They all turned to greet the group with smiles on their faces. Most of them were eager to shake everyone's hand, although Kendra and Seth would at least try to comply to everyone who offered. One of the faces they quickly recognized belonged to Mara.
"I'm glad you're okay," said Tanu, while shaking as many hands as he could. "I take it my potions were of some use to you."
"You bet," said Bright. "Fairy magic can only go so far."
"By the way, Raxtus," said Tanu, "someone's waiting for you in the conservatory."
"Really?" asked Raxtus.
"I'll lead the way," said Kendra, remembering back to her previous visit. She then led Raxtus through the ballroom, while Seth and Lance tagged along behind. She then ventured down a large, spacious hallway, one that Raxtus could easily pass through.
"In here," said Kendra, opening up the glass doors. As they stepped through into the conservatory, they could see Opal, Tiara, Brillia, Bravia, Brook and Bracken all sitting on benches, along with dozens of smaller fairies floating in the air. Standing next to them was Geminus.
"Geminus!" cried Raxtus, as he ran over to his mate and gave her a hug. "You came!"
"How could I not?" she asked, hugging Raxtus back. "I had to come. Someone's waiting to meet you."
Geminus reached down into a wicker basket and picked up sparkling egg, no bigger than that of an ostrich's, and presented it to Raxtus.
"It's our baby," she said, as Raxtus accepted the egg. "I laid it just two days ago."
Raxtus appeared to be so overcome with joy, that he could barely speak. He just gazed at the egg he was holding with his jaw drooping down. "We're going to start a family."
"I'm glad we have each other," said Geminus, placing a claw on Raxtus' shoulder.
Kendra looked back at Lance. From the look on his face, she could tell that Lance was extremely jealous, even though Raxtus and Geminus had every right to be proud. Still, it was hard for someone like Lance, but Kendra didn't know what to say.
"Excuse me," said Lance, as he turned away from the fairies and left the conservatory. Kendra felt the urge to go after him, but at the same time decided it was best to leave him alone.
For the next little while, Kendra and Seth talked to all the fairies. Bracken of course was happy to see Kendra once again, and even asked for her to sit next to him.
Eventually, Warren entered the conservatory. "Hey guys and gals. Dinner is being served in the dining room!"
"Let's go!" said Seth, as he hurried over to the door. "I'm starving!"
"Yet you guys spoke of a huge buffet back at Fablehaven," said Tiara. "How hungry can you get?"
Warren then led Seth, Kendra, the fairies and the dragons through another hallway to the dining room. In it were many circular tables, most of which were already filled up. A woman with whom Kendra and Seth were unfamiliar with guided them, along with Warren, Bright and Clover to a table where Lance had already been seated. The boy had his head rested on the table, tucked within his arms.
"Hey," he said softly, not wanting to be the subject of attention.
Before anyone else could think of something to say, Trask walked onto the podium at the front of the room, then tapped the microphone to ensure that it was working.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen! And fairies, dragons and phoenix! I'm glad that you could all make it here!"
The audience all clapped in unison.
"We are here today to honor the exploits of several brave members of the Knights of the Dawn."
At this point, the lights dimmed, and a single spotlight shone down at Kendra and Seth's table.
"Kendra Sorenson, Seth Sorenson and Warren Burgess. Along with allied fairy angels Bright and Clover!"
Next, a second spotlight shone down on the corner where the dragons and Jet had gathered.
"And let's not forget the invaluable assistance provided by Raxtus and Jet! And last, but certainly not least, let's hear it for Lance. Without him, this whole expedition would've been impossible, and we would possibly not even be here today."
The entire audience then erupted in applause, while Seth patted Lance on the back several times. Lance certainly seemed less dour now that people were actually praising him for once.
Trask then went on to speak about the adventure that the Knights had embarked on, noting the whole ordeal they had gone through. Lance being controlled by the Society. Kendra getting abducted. She and Lance then getting rescued. Recovering the Translocator and visiting the Fairy Kingdom. Catching Snitch and getting his lead on Matthew and Ashley. Following Ashley to Japan. Boating to the Marianas trench, then venturing to the bottom. Dealing with Tritanoss, whose form was soon assumed by Ashley. And lastly, returning to Fablehaven and defeating both her and Oblivion.
By the time he was done, dinner was served by the kitchen staff. On Kendra and Seth's plates were gorgeous steaks, mashed potatoes, green beans and dinner rolls. Had they not already had that huge meal at Fablehaven, they would've been more grateful to be treated to this feast.
By the time dessert rolled around, everyone at the table was too full to even eat the succulent apple pie slice that was on each plate. Seth took just one bite, but had to refrain from eating any more. At this point, Trask made his way back up to the podium.
"I take it that everyone's been enjoying their meal," said Trask. "Wonderful. We owe it all to the Fairbanks' talented kitchen staff. But now, I have something really important that I want to share. Lance, would you please come up here for a moment?"
Lance took in a deep breath, then got out of his seat. Seth could sense that something unusual was up if Lance had been called up alone. Was he in trouble? Everyone watched as Lance made his way up to the podium and walked over to Trask. He looked very nervous, and was quite small, especially in comparison to a tall man like Trask. But still, this was the same boy who had the courage to stand up to a demonic entity like Tritanoss, or at least a copycat thereof.
"What is it?" asked Lance.
At that moment, a small, elderly woman walked up onto the podium from the other end. Seth had no idea who she was, but her face did ring a bell to Kendra.
"Good evening," said the woman, accepting the microphone from Trask. "For those of you who don't know me, my name is Estelle Smith. Like most of you here, I too am a Knight of the Dawn"
Now Kendra remembered. Estelle had been here on her last visit.
"Lance," said Estelle. "We can't thank you enough for what you did. We've also been informed that you are an orphan, correct?"
Lance nodded, although he didn't want to speak.
"From what I've heard, you've been wanting a normal life, yet you don't want to cut off ties to the Knights of the Dawn, correct?"
Lance nodded again.
"Well, I have good news for you," Estelle said. "My son, Everett and his wife, Diane, are willing to adopt you."
A middle-aged man and woman then stepped up onto the podium. Lance gazed at them in awe as they walked over to him.
"You really want to adopt me?" he asked, barely able to breathe.
"If you'd like," said Diane. "My mother in law, Estelle, is a Knight, but our family... we live pretty normal lives."
"What do you say?" asked Everett.
Lance hesitated, then threw his arms around Everett and Diane as tears flowed down his eyes. He wanted to thank them, but even though he was too awestruck to speak, everyone could sense that he would if he could get the words out.
"Did you know these people were adopting Lance?" asked Seth, turning to face Kendra. His sister shook her head in response.
A moment later, Lance backed away from the Smiths, as a teenage boy stepped up onto the podium.
"Oh, Lance," said Everett, "this is our son, David. Um, I suppose if you'll be living with us, the two of you will be foster brothers."
"Wait a minute," said Seth softly. "Lance gets a brother? That... that's not fair!"
"Nice to meet you," said David, as Lance proceeded to give his new brother a hug. The audience then applauded and cheered, happy to know that Lance would be going to a safe, trusting home.
Lance then went back to sit not at his table, but at the one the Smiths had been at. It felt awkward, knowing that Lance would no longer be with them, but Kendra and Seth knew that it was for a better cause.
For the rest of the evening, Kendra and Seth left Lance to be with his new family, and instead talked to other people they knew, like Trask, Mara, and the fairies. At the end, they walked outside into the moonlit backyard, just as Raxtus and Geminus were about to take off.
"I'm glad you're going to be proud parents," said Kendra.
"I guess this is goodbye," said Raxtus, giving hugs to Kendra, Seth and Warren. "We've got to be heading back to Wyrmroost, but we'll meet again! Maybe when our egg hatches?"
"Goodbye!" said Kendra, waving as the two dragons took off into the air.
"Bye, Raxtus!" said Lance, waving as he walked out of the ballroom with his family.
"Well, we're off, too," said Everett. "We've got to get to the airport ourselves."
"Tomorrow's the start of your new life," said Diane. "We've got forms to fill out, errands to run, things to do..."
"Seth," said Lance, "Kendra. Warren. All you of you. You've been a huge help in saving me. I'm glad you were able to help me the way you did. I'll keep in touch with you guys! Don't worry!"
Lance then shook everyone's hand. "Thank you all. For everything."
"Goodbye, Lance!" said Kendra, as Lance and his family all waved goodbye as they went back into the mansion, probably to say goodbye to the rest of the company and make their way to the front door.
"Come on," said Mrs. Sorenson, placing her hands upon her children's shoulders. Let's go home."
The Sorensons, Warren, Dale, Bright and Clover, all made their way onto the jet, where Aaron Stone was waiting for them. Once they had boarded the jet, it began to fly off into the evening sky, heading back towards the direction of Fablehaven.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the follow-up story, "Contradiction of the Malevolent Heart".