And here it is- the final chapter. Enjoy.


CHAPTER FORTY FOUR: VALE


"The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it." ~Chief Joseph.

A few months have passed since Leo, Marella, Skye, and I used Quientessence to defeat Shanta. Ever since I learned that we had actually managed to create the fifth element- or form, since nothing is created out of nothing- I'd been doing a lot of research, and apparently, many scientists (or philosophers, or experts) agree that Quientessence, or Aether, is the spirit of the universe.

That sounds a little bit far fetched, but then again, everything that has happened over the last few months has been completely insane- Like, Four Goddesses, if you had told me half a year ago that all this stuff would happen, I would laugh and tell you that you were insane. But then again, it happened- so maybe the unbelievable isn't really so difficult to believe after all. I mean, I'm not going to start believing in, say, unicorns and- OH FOUR GODDESSES, THERE'S A UNICORN!

(Note: There is not actually a unicorn here. This is the combined influence of Leo and Armel.)

Speaking of Leo, and of course the others, we still all get together on mirrors once a week. Of course, the new Fire King still has his sister and her girlfriend with him, so I suppose keeping in touch wouldn't be as important. Of the people from this "adventure," I only have Rose with me. Even though we don't see each other every day, we do come in contact quite frequently, enough for me not to miss her. And, of course, I have Armel with me.

Marella's more alone than most of us- all she has is River, and although I don't know exactly what the story between them is, I know that she definitely isn't all that fond of that boy. However, she did tell me that she was keeping in very close contact with Skye, her best friend.

And, of course, with Leo. Not only were the two political enemies dating, (Of course... who could have predicted that? Cliche level is probably a seven or an eight,) but Leo, Marella, and Marella's parents- Queen Isla and King Lake- have been working to reach a peace agreement. The King and Queen of the Water Kingdom have been surprisingly cooperative, according to my two friends, but as Leo put it- quoting some Fire elemental named Margaret Atwood- "A war is a huge fire, the ashes from it drift far, and settle slowly."

No one in my general friend group seems to be ready for marriage yet, despite adults' determination to marry us off young. Leo and Marella are, in their words, "going slowly," and definitely want to wait until the peace agreement is official before getting engaged.

In the case of Rose and me, I haven't told my parents yet, though I'm sure they suspect. Our kingdom does have a tradition of the firstborn heir finding a spouse from on of the more "common" (Not meant to be used as a degratory term) people in the Earth Kingdom, so I'm sure they'll approve- but, being only sixteen, it does seem too soon. Adara and Skye actually can't get married yet- even with our astonishingly young ages for marriage, the minimum is fifteen or sixteen- Adara is fourteen right now.

Also, although Leo promises to make it a priority, ending the war is a prior priority- so marriage between two girls is not yet allowed in the Fire Kingdom, or anywhere. Before meeting two friends attracted to their same gender (And Leo told me he was attracted to all genders, so really three,) I'd never really thought about it- but now that I'm aware of the problem, it does seem unfair that people would be forbidden from loving simply due to their chromosomes.

When I brought this problem up to my parents, they said they'd think about it- and Armel, of course, asked me if I liked boys. I told him the truth- no, I like girls, namely Rose, but two friends of mine are in a same gender relationship, and it seemed wrong that people like them have laws against that.

Speaking of my friends... the mirror is glowing, which means I got lost in thought (as I always do) and forgot about the upcoming meeting today! I hurry to go snatch it. The mirror divides into fourths- Leo in the top left, Marella in the top right, Skye and Adara, sharing a mirror, on the bottom left, and my own reflection on the bottom right.

"Hi, guys!" Skye exclaims. Various greetings echo around the group. "How is everyone today?"

I study all of their faces and decide to guess. "Leo's stressed and/or tired, as he always is-"

"Never become a king, guys!" Leo interjects. "It's too much work! Just run away again. Or, better yet, be born second."

"Hey, at least you're not limited because of your gender," Skye replies dryly.

"Well, now you live here," Adara comforts her.

"True."

"Anyway..." I steal back the conversation. "Marella's also a little stressed, but generally happy. Adara is very enamored right now, so I'm guessing either Skye looks extra beautiful today in her eyes, or did something else right before this meeting to make her girlfriend extra lovesick." The two girls blush, and I smirk at them. "Skye is embarrassed, because I pointed out true facts, but is otherwise doing quite well. She also may be plotting my demise, and that's not good."

"How do you know these things?" Adara asks, still recovering from how I called her out.

"I'm a freaking mind reader," I respond, looking her right in the eye. "No, I'm actually just good at reading people. And half of it is guesswork."

"So how are you?" Marella asks.

I shrug. "A little bored. A little annoyed with my obnoxious brother. Same as always, really."

"So, anyway, I have a proposal to make," Leo starts, taking a sip of water and looking very professional.

"I accept," Marella replies smoothly. Leo chokes on his drink, and everyone else laughs.

"I'm not proposing marriage!" Leo yelps, flustered. We're all too busy cracking up to respond. He sighs. "Anyway, in all seriousness, I do have a proposal to make, and it's actually kind of important to listen."

"Okay, so, look her in the eye, tell her how beautiful she is, and then write a speech about how she's the most amazing girl alive. Oh, and if you forget to get down on one knee-" Adara snickers.

"Shut up! How do you know so much about proposals, anyway? Rehearsing for Skye?" The other sibling blushes now.

I'm very much enjoying all this, but Leo looks like he's about to explode- and while that would definitely be entertaining, that's probably not the best idea. "How about we listen to Leo?"

"Yes, let's listen to Leo," Leo repeats. "I'm not going to use the p-word this time- I have an idea that I would like to suggest to you all."

"What is it?" Skye asks, nudging her girlfriend. Probably smart- I think we all know that Adara wanted to say something there.

"So, you know how we're always trying to maintain peace between the kingdoms?" Leo asks. Everyone nods. "Well, I was thinking, why do we even have kingdoms anyway? Sure, it's because we're grouping people by what abilities they have- but by that logic, we could separate people by, like, hair color, or how tall they are, or something. And then, like, the redheads could go to war with all the blondes, just because they have a different hair color. And it's stupid- why can't redheads and blondes and brunettes just live in harmony?"

"Okay..."

"So what if all of the elements just lived in one kingdom?"

We all mutter agreements. "My parents would never agree to that, you know," Skye tells Leo.

Leo shrugs. "I figured. We'll just buy land off of them, enough to connect what's now Fire Kingdom and what's now Earth Kingdom. Vale, your parents would agree, right?"

"Probably," I answer. "I'll ask, and then we'll all reconvene?"

When I bring this up to my parents, they agree to split the kingdom into two- The northern part mine for our new combined kingdom, and the southern part they keep as an Earth Kingdom. Because Air is remaining as a kingdom, and I figure Water might be as well, that doesn't seem like too much of a problem. I thank my parents and agree.

When my friends and I meet again, Marella brings similarly good news- An east/west split of the Water Kingdom, with the Eastern part hers.

"Who's going to rule the new kingdom?" I ask.

Leo grins. "I was thinking an oligarchy. The four of us- one for each element."

"Um," Adara interjects. "Excuse me. Four? I thought you were supposed to be good at math."

Leo looks at her. "One for each element- and I think we all know that you'll be married to our Air elemental representative."

Adara shrugs. "Fair." Skye blushes.

Our next order of business turns out to be drawing a map. As the Earth elemental, that is my job. The finished product looks good- more than half of the land belongs to our new oligarchy. Earth has a river that would actually make a pretty good region divider, and Marella tells me to draw the line separating Water and New Kingdom just east of the castle. Since Leo has no parents to negotiate with, all of Fire is his- ours, and I draw off a chunk of the Air Kingdom to show how much land Leo thinks his kingdom can afford. I indicate a small section of Fire that he can use to exchange if needed. All of the islands are ours- including Bycia, though I'd rather not return there.

By our third meeting, Leo declares that he has negotiated with the Air Kingdom for land. He does, as I suggested, need to give up a small portion of southeastern Fire, but considering how it could have gone, that went pretty well. We only have on step left before we can officially make it a reality:

"What's our kingdom's name?" Marella asks, reading my mind.

Leo smiles. "I was thinking Quintessence. The Elemental Spirit. All four elements combined. Seems fitting."

Murmurs of assent come from each of the four squares on the mirror.

Leo's smile grows wider. "Quintessence it is."


THE END


Wow! That's the end of this story I found the guts to share with you guys. I've written three novels by this point, and this one was my first- also the only one I've shared with other people. Trust me, that was terrifying.

Posting this novel felt both like I was shouting into the void and no one heard me, and like I exposed myself to the entirety of the world, letting them see the parts that I try to hide. Towards the beginning, I would constantly refresh the pages to see if anyone read it or, best of all, reviewed.

I ended up with a few reviews- sixteen, actually, though that number might change soon. Thanks to BlackNinja101 for being the most constant supporter, and to Nife11, Krissa09, and LibbyAnn for reviewing as well. Four favorites was way more than I ever thought I'd get, adding DragonKing94, latinaangel38, and maryani to the list of people I'd like to thank, and Yuuenchi for following. Finally, thank you to each of my seven hundred something views- THAT'S KIND OF A HECK OF A LOT! I mean, compared to some of my stuff with 50,000, it's not a lot, but reading my novel? The stuff I expected no one to read? Seven hundred is a big difference from none.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the little ramblings I created with a keyboard. This story is over, but I might have some ~bonus stuff~ coming soon, including and probably limited to a list about what the story was like at the beginning and the journey it made to what you see now, and a deleted scene with some Skydara cuteness.

Alright, I think I've said everything. Again, thank you so much for reading!

-Carrot.