AN: I can hardly believe it. This is, indeed, the last chapter. I'm a little conflicted, to be honest. I've been writing this for over a year! That's a long time. I've grown unhealthily attached to these characters.
I want to thank everyone for have supported me in some many with this story. From commenting to faving. It truly means a lot to me.
Now that it is finished, I think I'll go back to the other chapters, fix any typos that I may have missed and delete the rambling author notes at the beginning of each chapter. You know, just pretty it up a bit.
For now, please enjoy the last chapter!
Chapter 26: Fire Sanctuary Redeemed
Leaning against his arms on the stone railing of his balcony, Keahi closed his eyes as he allowed a cool, soothing breeze to flow over him, playing with his hair. The air had never smelt so fresh, the waves crashing against the shores never sounded so beautiful.
So much had happened, and yet none of it had felt real, like it was all a dream. Three days ago had been so close to death, literally at the very edge. He looked into the fiery lake of Obsidian, his destined final resting place.
But here he was, watching over his people as they celebrated the arrival of the true Guardian of Fire Island; Masou.
The festivities were being hosted by the Fire Temple, all Fire Priests participating and mingling with the people. The Fire Elders wanted to honour Masou with a lush and lavish ceremony, officially declaring him as the 'new' leader. But Masou turned them down flat. He wasn't interested in royal protocol. He didn't like it. He didn't have the time for it. He didn't need some crony old elder telling him what he already knew.
When the Elders try to insist, Masou threatened to call upon Ashkenaz Oboth, which shut them up quickly.
And Keahi could only shake his head and smile. He knew Masou was only joking. While it was true that Flamenca often threatened to use her Fire Magic against anyone who dared to oppose her, Masou was different. He was playful in his threats, his heart loyal and true to the people of his, their, island. All he wished to do was to remind everyone the true meaning of fire.
And he was a God, for heaven's sake. If he wanted the 'commoners' to revel in the amazing ability of Fire Magic, then he would do just that.
Keahi was still considered the Peace-Keeper, but his role was now different. He was considered a counsellor now. Someone who listened to the people and offer them comforting and kind words. Some who would be the medium between the people and the Fire Kingdom.
And it was something that he enjoyed. He had always preferred to be with the villagers and locals than to deal with politics and social status of the Fire Councilmen.
Masou would often tell him that he was born for the role. Was a natural at it.
It was wonderful to see his people having fun, dancing, speaking with the Fire Priest; simply celebrating life. This was something that they had never had the chance to experience. The royal family often threw lavish parties, but the 'commoners' weren't allowed to join in.
Not that they would probably want to. Keahi had been to such an event and it was boring as hell.
A change was going to come. For the good. But it will take time. Time to heal the hearts and minds of every person who resided on Fire Island.
There was so much to do, so much that needed to be done, to reverse all the pain and suffering that Flamenca had caused. It won't be easy, and to be completely honest Keahi was feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it.
It was important now to cultivate logic, discipline and order. The appearance of Masou, or Fire God Obsidian as he was known by many, signified things were going to change. A new order was going to come. And Keahi was going to be a part of that. So was Bharath and Brendis.
His two best friends are now the two highest ranking officials. Bharath was the officially Head Fire Priest and Brendis was the commander of the Fire Guards. No longer will guards and priest be taken advantage of.
Masou insisted immediately of their promotions. He said that Keahi, and everyone on Fire Island needed someone who was wise and compassionate, with a rich inner life. A person with quiet authority who can see the truth and meaning behind any situation and provide a perfect solution that's both intelligent and heartfelt.
That described Bharath and Brendis down to a T.
They had to take things slow, though. Changes scare people. Make them feel uncertain, unstable. And after so many years being ruled by the Royal Family of Fire, rules and beliefs are steadfast in the minds of everyone.
And Masou's dramatic entrance only added to anxiety that everything they once knew as fact was a lie.
The truth of what Flamenca had done and tried to do, and her exile, reached the people, despite some of the Fire Elders wanting to keep a lid on things. It scared, and then angered them, when they realised that they were being ruled over a heartless leader. And some, to a degree, were fearful of Masou as well. They had seen what he could do, knew who he really was.
But Keahi and Bharath would reassure them that Masou was nothing like Flamenca. There was no chance. The flames don't lie.
There was so much that Keahi wanted to do for his people, as he knew what they needed. But although his dreams were valid and sound, they still needed guidelines and organisation so that they could manifest properly. They needed to create a detailed plan for how they'll proceed forward to a positive future.
"Hey there, beautiful." The familiar drawl brought a smile to Keahi's face and he opened his eyes. He expected Masou to be standing next to him, but instead found him perched on the railing of the balcony, much like the first time he broke into his room, face to face.
"You don't have to scale the wall to get into my room anymore, Masou," Keahi said playfully as he stepped back, allowing Masou to vault over the stone railing to stand in front of him. The very second Masou's feet touched the floor, he pulled Keahi into his arms.
"Why aren't you enjoying the party?" Masou asked him, a slightly disapproving tone in his voice.
Keahi wrapped his arms around him and rested his cheek against his chest. "I am. I'm just thinking."
"Ah," Masou made a noise of understanding. "About the future, hm?"
"Yeah. So much has happened, and so much needs to be done," Keahi murmured, sinking completely in Masou's arms, nuzzling his head under Masou's chin. "But…I'm so grateful that I can be a part of it."
"There's more to come, you know?"
"Abundance is on the way," Masou stated matter-a-factly. "The universe loves a grateful heart and rewards gratitude with more abundance."
What an exciting thought.
"I'm glad to be alive," Keahi whispered, truly happy and content.
"So is everyone else, Keahi," Masou said to him. "You are more loved than you could possibly ever imagine."
And it felt so good.
"Keahi!" Staying in Masou's arms, Keahi glanced over the side of the balcony to find Bharath waving his arm in the air. He was surrounded by people, young and old, enjoying the festivities. "Come join us!"
"Sounds like a good idea," Masou mused aloud. "Looks like some dancing is going on. Hey, we should show them how to really dance!"
Keahi had no chance to respond before Masou moved away, only to snare him by his hand and literally drag him toward the festivities. Keahi rolled his eyes, but allowed the immortal man to pull him along.
Making their way through the bustling crowds, Masou's hand strong and true around his, Keahi smiled and nodded his head in greeting to everyone around him. With a strong tug on his hand, Keahi was back in Masou's arms, who then guided him through a powerful and passionate Fire Dance.
And Keahi let himself become lost in the movements. His thoughts drifted over the past, how for the years before he knew Masou, he simply existed. His life drastically changed the very moment he met Masou. Through him he learnt how to live, what it meant to be happy, to be peaceful.
And there was so much more to life he was yet to experience.
Suddenly, Masou swept Keahi off his feet and into his arms, effortlessly holding him off the ground. And Keahi simply laughed and looked into Masou's eyes with a warm smile on his lips. He ignored the giggles and chuckles of those around him, unconcerned that there were so many eyes upon him. He slipped a hand behind Masou's neck, pulling his face close to his. And they kissed, deeply and passionately, in a sea of smiling faces as they danced and had fun.
This was the way the Fire Island was supposed to be; like the flames of which they cherished. Warm, bright, fun and playful. It was how life was meant to be. Even in the darkest of nights, a light of a single candle can guide you, illuminating your path. Your darkest hour lasts for only 60 minutes, and when you step back into the light, you know that you are truly alive.
Life moves on, it never stops. Forever turning, forever burning.
Just like the eternal flame of your soul.