|More from Twilitlink||Adventure||G||Positive||None|
|All is Well|
Dragon of the West
End of Series
Tengu's eyes opened slowly. The light was not too strong here, so his eyes did not need much time to adjust. He had been lying on a dry patch of ground in what seemed to be some sort of swamp. He slowly got up - he had new clothes - a green robe, similar to one his mother had sewn for him when he was a little boy.
He scanned his surroundings, looking for something familiar; some point of reference that would show him the way out of that place. He walked around for what to him felt like hours, when he heard laughter. The sound came from far away, so he tried to proceed as quietly as he could, making as less noise as possible, focusing on the sound. It was a young girl, maybe two...
He came upon a clearing in the swamp. The ground was now firm and dry, with patches of grass here and there. The sounds came from a small house in the middle of the clearing. He turned around to see where this clearing connected with the swamp only to see that the swamp was gone. In its place were tall, forest-covered mountains. He quickly turned around. The house was still there – and there was still laughter.
He came to the door and, right when he was about to knock, the door opened. His eyes filled with tears when he saw his mother smiling at him, looking not a day older than how he remembered her. She stroked his cheek and Tengu took her hand between his' and kissed it, unable to hold back the tears. "We have been waiting for you. Come, I made your favorite, egg custard tart."
They were all there: his two sisters, his brother, and his beloved father. He went straight to him and fell to his knees, ready to beg for his forgiveness. He did not even let him speak. "I see you've earned your tattoos." Tengu had not yet realized he still had them. "I'm so proud of you. Welcome home." They hugged and kissed and Tengu felt complete. Even so Tengu still felt like someone was missing.
"Is my wife here?" Tengu asked his family. Everyone went silent as Tengu's father clapped his hand on Tengu's shoulder.
"Why don't you ask her yourself?" he asked turning Tengu around. When he saw Xaomian, Tengu's heart skipped a beat. She was as beautiful as the last time he saw her alive. Tengu practically had to drag his feet as he approached her. The two embraced each other for what seemed like hours to Tengu before finally kissing each other. Her lips were as sweet as he remembered.
"I missed you Xaomian." Tengu murmured. "I missed you so much."
"I know Tengu, but I've been with you everyday." She whispered back while placing a hand on Tengu's chest, just over his heart. "In here." The two pulled each other in for another embrace.
"There's someone I want you to meet." Xaomian said when they finally broke apart. She gestured to a small boy, appearing to be about twelve. Tengu knelt down as the boy approached.
"Tengu." Xaomian said moving behind the boy and gently placing her hands on his shoulders. "This is your son, Shilou." Tengu knelt before the boy who stared at him like he was a strange creature who only existed in a children's bedtime story.
"Hello Shilou." Tengu started awkwardly, "It's-uh, it's great to meet you." Tengu's son stared at him as he held out his hand. Shilou reached out and batted Tengu's hand away. Tengu was greatly surprised as Shilou wrapped his arms around Tengu's neck. Tengu smiled as he returned his son's hug.
Tengu's mother clapped her hands in delight before she ushered everyone into the kitchen for dinner. After dinner they ate tart. Then Tengu's mother made some jasmine tea. It was delicious, warm and comforting. Tengu was home at last.
Lu Ming woke up lying at the base of a large, gnarled tree. The surrounding area was covered by a dense fog that prevented Lu Ming from seeing more than a few feet in front of him. Lu Ming stumbled in the fog, until he found a tunnel near the base of the tree. Lu Ming immediately entered, unaware of the immense danger he was placing himself in.
The former leader of the Black Lotus sat down on a stone and ran his wrinkled hands over his bald scalp. "So this is the Spirit World."
"Not quite." A familiar voice responded from deeper in the cavern. Lu Ming shot up from his seat, taking an airbending stance, as a face he swore he would never see again emerged from the darkness.
"Kang?" Lu Ming asked, genuinely confused seeing the face of the man who led the Black Lotus before him. Before he could utter another word, Kang's face disappeared, and was replaced by the face of Gao. Lu Ming's eyes widened in fear as he uttered a single word, "Koh."
"Welcome to my domain." Koh stated, perfectly mimicking Gao's voice. Lu Ming backed away slowly as Koh brought his centipede like body closer. "What's that I see, is it fear?" Lu Ming moved further away, but backed up into the cavern wall. "It's been a long time since I've added a face with so many years to its name." As Koh spoke, the mandible like appendages that surrounded his face closed in on Lu Ming. "And I've had to wait even longer before I got the chance for another Air Nomad's face." Lu Ming felt like screaming out, running, attacking, doing anything, but couldn't. "I've waited centuries for you Lu Ming. Know that you're here, I think I'll take my time extracting your face."
Finally Lu Ming remembered himself. Thrusting out his hand, Lu Ming tried to cut Koh to ribbons with his airbending, but Koh merely smiled as he dug his sharp appendages into Lu Ming's skin. No one heard his screams. No one, save a faceless monkey who sat outside the caverns entrance.
It was a sight to behold. Not since the end of the Great War had so many people from the Four Nations gathered, and with due reason... This night would be employed to celebrate a long line of funerals that would become known in future memory as 'The Night of Sorrow'. From the four corners of the globe, leaders, warriors, families and friends had attended this solemn conclave to honor the memory of every man and woman who had fallen in the course of the past decade.
Aang was dressed in his Master robe and wore the medallion that had once belonged to his beloved Master Gyatso. Katara wore a blue variation of Aang's robe, but had also a cloak, a gift from the Northern Tribe in honor of her bravery and heroism. Sora wore a special robe, made especially for the occasion by Kuen Yin. The Fire Nation Royal Family, Zuko, Iroh, Mai, Lu Ten and Ursa, wore their finest ceremonial robes and gowns. Sokka and Suki were each donned in their armor, with Sokka wearing his Wolf Helmet and Suki her face paint. Toph was wearing her military uniform while Lee was wearing a Dai Li robe provided by Riku. Kaine and the surviving members of the Masked Ones, who were in attendance for their fallen comrade Sky, wore long black robes with black masks.
Each goodbye had been heartfelt and true, and every word had been spoken with a due measure of gratitude and reverence. Many a life was cast off into the Spirit World that night, and the ceremonies stretched into the wee hours of the morning. Many families and friends had left after saying goodbye to their loved ones, their lamentations wrapped in the shadows of that dreary night. However, the leaders remained solemn and steadfast, for although the hour was late and the wind cold, there was one last goodbye yet to be said...
Tengu's body was dressed in his Air Nomad robes, with his old sugegasa laid on his chest. Across his forehead was the Water Tribe mark he'd earned when he'd risked his life to protect Katara and Sora from a snow leopard. Finally a small collection of Fire Nation War Medals was pinned to his chest, awarded to him posthumously for his services in the Fire Nation Military. Across his body was a flag with an Earth Kingdom symbol emblazoned upon it. With reverence, the body of the Chief Counselor was carried and gently placed on a funeral pyre.
Aang slowly led his family up to the pyre. He turned to face the crowd who had gathered. He cleared his throat before he started speaking, but a spasm took over it. As the many memories crossed his head, he felt the cold shadow of loneliness once again stab at his heart. A painful lump strangled his voice. Katara hugged his arm, and this helped him stand, but not to talk. As the tears began flowing freely down the Avatar's face, the warriors all lifted their weapons into the night sky, the rulers stood from their seats of honor, and a soft chorus of sobs was heard from the Air Nomads.
An old man with a grizzly white beard slowly made his way to the front of the pyre. He wore full Fire Nation regalia and over it, a cloak with a White Lotus emblazoned across its wide collar. He placed a knowing hand on the Avatar's shoulder, who just nodded and stepped back.
"It is indeed a sad night." People nodded and assented all around the gardens of the Southern Air Temple. "It is indeed a night for sorrow and lamentation, since I once again outlive one of my children." The tears began to stream down the old Grand Master's face, yet his legendary aplomb far outweighed his immense anguish. Zuko, however, cried, overtaken by a mixture of anger and sadness over his beloved Uncle, weeping for the one and only man who had earned his tears.
"Yet, even when you have been forced to watch so many of your loved ones go before you; even when the body is not as strong, the heart is not as bold, or the mind is not as sharp, there is a blessing to old age. You see, with age comes understanding. And one of the great things that we get out of living is that we learn to both learn from and correct our mistakes."
"When I was a young boy I had a dream where I stood in front of the Palace in the Great Walled City. Coming from the imperialistic loins of my forefathers I immediately assumed I was destined to conquer and subdue it. But I was so wrong – my job all along had been to set it free, not set it captive. And I have been forever grateful to life, friends and the Spirits, for having let me live long enough to right my wrong."
"When I met your Master Tengu, he was a hired killer, working for our enemy, under the guise of a Fire Nation soldier who had joined that dreaded campaign for the Wall. Of course, at the time, I did not know that, and neither did Lu Ten. Therefore, having discovered and connected to that wonderful, charming man that he was, we became quite close. You see I felt compassion towards this mysterious young man. I could tell that life had not been kind to him. People who are wiser than their years are usually so because of hardship. Tengu's tone was calm and his words as smooth as glass, yet there was a certain hardness in his eyes, which told me of much misfortune and pain."
"Yet, there was something in him...something special that made me admire his spirit. I remember once telling him this. I will never forget his answer. He said to me: 'I must confess General, that I do admire spiritual people. I imagine that leading a pious and spiritual life would provide a person with virtue and sensibility. However, I think such things are beyond a person such as myself.'"
"Of course – he was wrong, for we all have reasons to bestow honor upon this man and remember his name with gratitude and joy. I still remember praying to the Spirits for Lu Ten almost 10 years ago at Omashu, as I did on his every birthday after his death. My meditation was interrupted by the cries of a young, unknown Air Nomad. He had brought me a small pot with a Moon Flower, Lu Ten's favorite flower. There was no way I could connect this monk to the young man I had met in the Army so long ago..."
"We talked long and much. He told me of his life story, his life with the enemy and his eventual plight for redemption with the Northern Air Nomads. After we had compared our lives, we could see that we were both survivors, we both had made terrible mistakes; we both had suffered cruel retribution over them and had also to sow in many, many tears to reap our second chance. And through it all, it had been but one thing that had saved us, and kept us sane throughout the madness and the pain that sometimes life can inflict upon its travelers."
The old man lifted his head as a small breeze came from the North. He smiled as he uttered a single word:
"Love..." Aang responded almost under his breath. Then, like a synapse, the word spread and sprung forth from other's lips, bringing healing and peace to the troubled midnight hour.
"He told me of his late wife, who for a moment helped him forget that he had ever been a killer or a thief. He talked of his Student, who had been to him like the child he never reared. He spoke of his friend, the Avatar, who had forgiven him his secrets and his trespasses and bestowed upon him the gift or Airbending. He told me of his own airbending teacher, who once had saved his life when he was a child and, even knowing his secrets, saw value in him and encouraged him to hold on to his essence. He told me of the Young Master who healed his wounds in a lowly inn in Ba Sing Se and guided him to a new life as an Air Nomad."
Kuen Yin broke out in a deep, aching sob. The old firebender walked towards her and held her hands as he stared into her deep green eyes. "And there was this soldier boy" he said, his voice finally breaking "who saved his life by taking a boulder that was meant for him at the Inner Wall at Ba Sing Se..." He kissed Kuen Yin's hands and returned to once again face the audience. "Love! It will weather every storm, climb every obstacle, and cover any sin! Love! It will wait forever, hope forever, and fight forever! It will endure every hardship, withstand any pain, and survive any holocaust! Love!"
Iroh then turned towards the pyre:
"And love will heal every wound, and ease every pain. And love will see you on your way, my brave soldier boy... Sleep well, and rest...my son." He then gathered a small flame in front of his chest. He took a few moments to make it grow and finally shot it as a powerful flame onto the pyre.
As the flames began to consume the body, the old General trembled, his resolve finally fading into tears and cries. The Fire Lord ran to his side, helping him up and back to his seat.
It was a sad night indeed.
Six Years Later
Tag Team: Black and Blue
Two figures stalked through the barely lit halls of the compound. One was a nervous, Black Lotus remnant named Shi that jumped at slightest sound in the dark. With a trembling hand he wiped a growing pool of sweat from his brow as ushered his follower into a large room. In contrast to the nervous remnant, the one following him was completely calm as they entered a large antechamber, wrapped in a black cloak that hid a majority of the person's features. Shi couldn't even tell if the person following him was a man or a woman. All he knew is that he or she apparently had an interest in becoming an assassin, a prospect Shi's boss, Mao, leapt on like an armadillo-tiger.
"M-m-master Mao should be with b-b-be with us s-s-soon." Shi stuttered as the other remnants of the Black Lotus filed into the room. The cloaked figure glanced around at the members as they took their positions around the room. Hidden in the shadows cast by the orange flames, the figure's lips pulled into a smirk as the scene reminded the person of a memory not too far in the past.
"Welcome my friend." A loud, much more confidant, voice spoke as all eyes turned to its source, a young man dressed in black armor. The man's slick, black hair was pulled into a topknot, his narrow chin was held high, and his eyes stared straight at the hooded figure. "I am Mao, Grandmaster of the Black Lotus Assassins. Welcome to our order."
"I thought the Black Lotus was wiped out six years ago when Lu Ming died." The figure spoke with a soft, feminine voice.
"Scattered yes, but an order that as old as the Four Nations themselves is not so easily extinguished." Mao explained with a dismissing wave of his hand, "As for Lu Ming, that old geezer had long out lived his usefulness, in truth I was about challenge him for the position of Grand Master but the Avatar took care of him for me. And thanks to the assumption that the entire order perished in the war, we have been able to return to where we belong, the shadows of the world."
Shi nervously watched as the hooded woman started to tremble. He was about see if she was all right when the woman started laughing uncontrollably. The young man turned to see what Mao's reaction was. The self-proclaimed Grand Master stared curiously at the hooded woman as her laughter filled the room.
Finally the hooded woman ceased her laughter, "Lu Ming would've slaughtered you." Shi flinched as he saw Mao's curious stare turn into a furious glare. "And you fools aren't Black Lotus, you all are merely the remnants of a dying breed."
"And who might I ask are you to say such things." Mao demanded, lowering his voice to a growl.
The woman brought her hands up and slowly pulled her hood back. Her ebony hair was cut short and framed her soft, narrow face. "My name is Nikki, I'm sorry we won't be well acquainted." Before any of the would be assassins could react, Nikki's hand flashed forward and shot a jet of black flames at Mao. The blast of fire knocked the man off his feet and slammed him against the far wall.
The room spun as Mao shook his head clear, when his vision came back he found several of his assassins lying on the ground, smoke rising from their bodies. Then he saw Nikki surrounded by the rest of his killers, and the cruel smile returned to his face.
"I guess we found the one who's been attacking our remaining bases." Mao sneered, "I don't know how you've managed to take out the other bases, but it looks like you bit off more than you could chew this time."
What happened next would forever be burned into Shi's memory, Nikki laughed as the orange fires in the torches around the room turned blue. "Who said I was alone?" At that moment a blast of blue fire erupted from the shadows striking one of the assassins who held Nikki square in the back. As the wannabe killer dropped Nikki jabbed the other man who held her in the throat, as he choked Nikki grabbed his head and brought it down on her knee.
"What took you so long Ursa?" Nikki said as the Fire Nation princess joined her.
"I got a little lost on the way here." Ursa explained as she threw a throwing knife into one of the assassin's throat. Ursa quickly followed up her throw with a ball of blue fire. Besides, you looked like you had the situation under control.
Nikki ducked under an attack and countered with a blast of her black flames, "Then why'd you jump in?"
Ursa glanced over at one of the firebending assassins who was moving her arms in circular motions. With a quick smirk Ursa readied herself, "Well I couldn't let you have all the fun now could I?" Once the words left her mouth the assassin fired lightning at her. Ursa smiled as she let the lightning flow into her fingers on one hand and felt it flow through her body and out of her other hand. The woman who fired the lightning barely had time to register what just happened before her own bolt struck her forehead.
"So they want to play with lightning huh?" Nikki asked Ursa as the remainder of the assassins stared them down. Mao and one other assassin stood defiantly as Shi cowered in a corner, trembling uncontrollably.
"Let's show them how it's done." Ursa said as they simultaneously assumed the stance and moved their arms. The last thing the assassins saw were twin bolts of lightning. Shi promptly surrendered afterwards, allowing Ursa and Nikki to arrest him. Finally after six years of hunting down the remains of the Black Lotus, the girls were done, they could return home.
Debts of Love
"I hate this scar." Toph said as she ran a finger across the burn on the bridge of Lee's nose. Lee slowly opened his eyes as Toph proceeded to cuddle against his chest.
"And why would that be my dear." Lee asked as he slid his arm across Toph's shoulders, a small smile forming on his face. His dear wife never was a morning person.
"Because every time I touch it, I hear that freak's laughter from when he gave it to you." Toph answered, absent-mindedly tracing the scar's length with her finger.
Lee laughed as he took Toph's hand, "Well the solution to that problem's simple enough. Don't touch it." Toph gave Lee a quick smack to his arm as his laughter grew louder.
"Shhh. You're gonna wake Serni." Lee quieted his laughter down to a low chuckle as he pulled Toph in and kissed her forehead. "Seriously though, just knowing it's there reminds of how helpless I was. I never want to be like that again."
"I'm actually quite grateful for this scar." Lee said, gently caressing Toph's face with his hand.
"Why's that?" Toph asked.
"Because the moment I got was the moment I proved how much I love you." Lee informed her as he kissed her cheek, "What I did that day, I would only ever do for you. And if I was offered a second chance at that moment, I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Toph smiled as she kissed Lee, "And if it were me instead of you, I would do the same. In a heartbeat."
Lee was about to respond to his beloved wife when their baby daughter's cries interrupted him. Lee sighed as he pushed the sheets off of him and stood. "I'll get her." He stated before disappearing through the door and down the hall. A few minutes later he returned, Serni sleeping contently in his arms.
"I'll never understand how you can quiet her down so easily." Toph stated, perplexed by Lee's apparent skill at quieting their usually noisy 1-year-old daughter.
Lee chuckled as he sat on the edge of the bed. "Would you believe it was part of my assassin training?"
"You're so full of it." Toph said crawling next to him and gently tickled Senri's chin. "There's no way the assassin's taught you how to quiet a crying baby."
"There's no bigger threat to compromising yourself when you're safely hidden in the target's home than a screaming, wailing baby. Whenever an assassin finds himself or herself in that situation there are only two options, calm the baby down, or silence it. Surprisingly not even assassins are comfortable with the idea of butchering an infant."
"Will you teach me how?" Toph asked.
"I cannot." Lee said with mock sympathy, "It is an ancient, secret Black Lotus technique and must be guarded at all costs." Lee chuckled lightly as Toph lightly smacked his arm again, careful not to disturb Serni. Also not wanting to wake the baby Lee gently lay her in the bedside crib they had in the room.
"Hey, I taught you how to see with your feet." Toph scolded, jabbing Lee's cheek with her finger, "You owe me big time."
"I saved you from a crazy psychopath." Lee countered. "We're squared."
"You said you did that out of love." Toph countered back, "And besides the only reason I needed saving was because you got me captured in the first place." Lee opened his mouth for another witty retort but was at a loss.
Damn it, she got me. There's only one way out of this, but the odds of it backfiring on me are astronomical. Lee's panicked mind thought. No other choice. Lee quickly reached out with one arm and grabbed Toph by the back of her neck. Toph gasped before Lee pulled her in for a long, loving kiss. Lee knew this was only a temporary solution, but what the hell, they both enjoyed it.
Later Lee would lie in bed, Toph cuddling against his chest, Serni sleeping peacefully in her crib, and his mind would say, Damn it, Des was right. Love is a noose. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
The Incomplete Family
Aang sat cross-legged in his chambers as he watched Kuen Yin train her new students. He noted however that the class was one student short. Behind him the door opened and Katara walked in. At her side was their four-year-old son, Tenzin. Tenzin sprinted across the room and was scooped up into his father's arms.
The father and son laughed as Katara crossed the room and offered to take Tenzin off Aang's hands.
"Shouldn't you be in class right now?" Aang asked Tenzin as he handed him over to Katara.
"Sorry Aang but he really wanted to see you before you left." Katara apologized.
"It's okay," Aang, said as he hugged his wife and son, "I wanted to see you two before I left anyway."
Tenzin piqued up at his father's words. "Where're you going Daddy?" the boy asked. The Avatar gave his son a quick pat on his shaved head, followed by a light kiss. Tenzin wrapped his arms around his father's neck. Aang returned the hug as he took him from Katara's arms and held him against his chest.
"I'm going to go visit Fire Lord Zuko and Fire Lady Mai in the Fire Nation. I shouldn't be gone long."
"Can I come with you?" Tenzin asked, hope practically shining in his eyes. "Please."
Aang gently placed his son on the floor and grabbed him by his shoulders. "Sorry kiddo, but I'm going to be busy so I won't be able to look out for you. Besides, Kuen Yin would kill me if I pulled you from her class just so you can come with me and do absolutely nothing."
Tenzin wasn't convinced, "But you're the Avatar, Kuen Yin couldn't do anything to you. And Ursa and Nikki could look after me. They love having me around."
"I'm sorry Tenzin but I just can't take you with me." Aang stated, the finality in his voice clear.
Tenzin's eyes began to water. "But... but..."
Aang looked up at Katara, a desperate cry for help apparent in his gray eyes. Katara smiled as she laid a hand on Tenzin's shoulder and gently turned him to her.
"Tenzin if you're so anxious to go somewhere, how about I take you down south to visit Uncle Sokka and Aunt Suki." Tenzin's eyes immediately cleared of any tears that had been gathering.
"I'm sure they'd be delighted to have us, and you can play with your cousin, Shian. Now you better get your class, just tell Kuen Yin that I kept you out for a bit." Once that was decided Tenzin ran out of the room and hurried to the courtyard.
Aang hugged and kissed his wife, before whispering, "Thanks for the save."
"Don't mention it." Katara replied kissing Aang's forehead, "I was going to take him there anyway."
Aang shot a confused glance at Katara, "Why's that?"
"Because when I tucked him in last night he asked me, 'Mommy, when Sora coming back?' If figured visiting Sokka and his family will take his mind off it." Katara explained.
Aang nodded in understanding as they passed the large wooden statue of Tengu, overlooking the courtyard. He paused to gaze at the statue of his former, student, mentor, and friend. He smiled as he imagined Tengu standing where the statue was, running the training in the courtyard like military boot camp. Aang sincerely hoped that Sora found the final spot to spread the rest his ashes soon. Tenzin truly missed her, they all did.
Sora stood outside the gates of Guzheng, Tengu's hometown, holding the jar that contained the last of Tengu's ashes. She'd already spread a third of his ashes over the grave of his wife near Senlin, and dispersed another third into the air at the Northern Air Temple. It had taken her about four years to find where his wife was buried and Guzheng. This was her last stop. Throughout the years Sora had grown from the little girl she was into a beautiful young woman.
"Alright Master, welcome home." Sora whispered as she was approached by one of the town's elders.
"Is there something I can help you with young lady?" he asked politely. Sora asked where Tengu's family was buried. The elder's face became solemn as he nodded and led her to the graveyard. Within minutes Sora found herself before five graves. "The head of the family was falsely accused of letting prisoners escape and the entire family was executed for treason. The only survivor was the youngest member of the family. He escaped and never came back." The elder explained. "I believe his name was Tenju."
"Tengu." Sora corrected as she unscrewed the lid of the jar. "His name was Tengu." The elder gave her a curious gaze as she started spreading Tengu's ashes over the five graves. "Now he's home. I'd like to be alone now please." Sora said as she turned to the old man. He bowed respectfully and left her. When he was gone Sora knelt before the graves and prayed. She remained there for nearly a half hour before she stood. She took out Tengu's sansetsukon.
Sora had been debating whether or not she should leave it at one of the places she spread Tengu's ashes, or keep it like Tengu had said in his will. She had tried to come up with a decision the other two times but always decided to put off until she found the next place. She had to make the decision now.
Sora stared at the three part weapon, the weapon that Tengu had used his whole life, the instrument Tengu had used to drill her through countless training exercises, the tool Tengu had used to whack her on the head whenever she'd gotten too out of line. The memories brought a small smile and tears to Sora as she decided. She folded up the weapon and placed it back in her pouch. It would take her awhile to adapt to the strange weapon but she knew one day she would master it.
"Who knows master, maybe one day I'll be better than you." Sora mused before she left. Outside Guzheng, Lu Ten was waiting with two Eel Hounds.
"Did you find them?" the prince asked. Lu Ten had grown into a tall, broad shouldered, handsome young man. He'd decided he would travel with Sora while Nikki prepared for the wedding.
"Yeah, he's with his family now." Sora said as she mounted the Eel Hound. "Let's go home."
"Who's?" Lu Ten asked as he mounted his own steed, "Yours or mine?"
"We have to cross an ocean to get to yours." Sora pointed out.
"Oh yeah." Lu Ten responded, slightly embarrassed he'd forgotten that obvious detail.
"Well its clear Nikki isn't marrying you for your brains." Sora teased before she urged her mount forward. Lu Ten rolled his eyes as his Eel Mount chased after Sora. While they rode Lu Ten took one last look at Guzheng as it shrank in the distance. Lu Ten turned his head, when he heard a faint sound coming from one of the trees on next to the road. He looked up in its branches and saw a lone sparrow-hawk perched on a branch.
"Good bye, Master Tengu." He whispered to the bird before urging his steed to sprint at full speed. He passed Sora with an almost echoing laughter. The sparrow-hawk watched the two ride away before taking to the skies.
Lian sat in her prison cell, her wrists chained together in order to prevent her from bending as her meal was brought in. She had grown used to her accommodations over the last six years. She looked out her cell window, at the full moon. As it always had done before it gave her a small sliver of hope. Hope that one day the world would see fit to forgive her, that one-day she'd be free. In the meantime she would wait. Someone would come for her eventually, and when they did she would have several stories to tell.
My thanks to Dragon of the West for his assistance in writing this epilogue, especially the sections After Glow and Requiem, for I was truly at a loss on what to do with those parts. Also a big thanks to all who enjoyed my story.
For the collective works of the author, go here.