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Not What It Seems: Going Home / Epilogue

Title: Not What It Seems, 29
Author: chilibreath
X-posted to: Tumblr / FF.net / AO3
Rating: T
Summary: Where the chapter ends.

Going Home

After dinner, Sofi and Sandri waited for them by the gates of the Blue Guild. Standing nearby were Erwan and Veron. Three of them held up lanterns containing the glowing stones while Veron held up his staff, where a ball of red flame floated at the tip.

It was time to go home.

All six of them said their goodbyes to the Maesters of the Blue Guild and thanked them for their hospitality. As a sign of gratitude for stopping the invasion, the Maesters gave them each a clear flask of water from the Healing Springs, marble-sized glowing rocks that they could keep in their pockets, and assorted little gifts. Unfortunately for Stan, they could not provide a breeding pair of the jub-jub birds that he showed interest in earlier that day. The reason behind it was not just because they didn’t want to introduce an invasive species to their dimension, but because the creatures themselves were difficult to catch without getting burned.

“Who’d have thought they’d have fire-spitting turkeys that taste like pork chops?” Stan mumbled on their way out of the Guild.

“Might have made a great attraction at the Mystery Shack,” Soos commented. “’Course, we got to set them somewhere where they won’t cause forest fires.”

“I would recommend setting them up at the high school,” Wendy said casually. “Or we could ask McGucket to hold them somewhere in his fancy mansion. He could whip up a fire-proof henhouse for them or something.”

“Set them up near the lake and advertise hot springs to go with your hot wings!” suggested Dipper.

Stan started laughing. “I knew that big head of yours will come in handy, Dipper!”

Behind them, Ford didn’t have anything to add to their contrived jub-jub plans. He stared ahead at the light provided by Sofi and Sandri as they led the way to the departure point. He felt someone touch his right hand; Mabel had lagged behind so that she could walk next to him.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Grunkle Ford?” she asked him.

Ford gave her what he felt was a reassuring smile and squeezed her hand. “I’ll be fine, my dear. This is for the best.”
He looked ahead and missed the worried look on her face.

Behind them, Erwan touched Mabel’s shoulder to catch her attention. “Veron has some news he would like to share with you…” he started to say.

“Erwan, if you say one more word, I will set your robes aflame,” Veron growled.

It seemed to be a risk that the younger Mage was willing to accept.

“Dorinda accepted Veron’s suit!” Erwan blurted out fast before running ahead to keep some distance between himself and the crusty Red Mage.

“Wait, what?!” shouted Mabel, turning around to look at Veron. By the light of the red flame, Veron looked like he was about to skewer Erwan with his eyes.

“I, well…” Veron started to say, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand. “Dorinda is an amiable woman with a good head on her shoulders when she is not led astray by peer pressure. She has been a great help in our endeavors with the…”

The Red Mage was cut off by Mabel’s delighted squeal.

“Match made!” she yelled.

“What in the world is that about?” Gelvin called out nearby. They have arrived at the spot near the river where they arrived a few days ago.

“Mabel made her mark in Rothezar,” Dipper supplied helpfully.

Ford looked up and saw that Maegella was standing next to Gelvin. The light of the rocks bounced off her silver robes, making her shimmer in the dark. They looked at each other briefly before Maegella broke it off to walk towards Soos.

“I will miss you all,” she said quietly before opening her arms to hug the large man. Soos sniffled and hugged her tightly.

“If you have the time, try to visit us again sometime, ok?” Soos warbled.

“We will see, Soos,” Maegella replied, leaning back and wiping the tear from his large, amiable face. She then turned to hug Wendy. “You brave girl; tell your father I thank him for his kindness.”

“I will,” said Wendy, squeezing her gently.

Next, Maegella walked over to Dipper and knelt down in front of him. She reached out and pulled the reluctant teenager into her arms.

“Thank you for doing what you did back there, Maegella,” Dipper said reverently. “That was pretty selfless of you, you know?”

“And I would do it again, if need be,” said Maegella. She looked over his shoulder at Mabel and smiled. “After all, I made a promise.”

Mabel let out a sob. She let go of Ford’s hand and went to hug Maegella.

“Thank you for keeping your promise,” the young girl whispered into Maegella’s ear. “Won’t you come with us? You’ll get to stay with Grunkle Ford and we’ll be your new family!”

Maegella closed her eyes. “Oh, I wish it were so simple, my dear,” she whispered back. “But I have a new set of obligations here. I cannot just leave, and I cannot take Stanford away from you.” She pulled away and gave Mabel a sad smile.

Mabel’s eyes were filled with tears. “It’s just not fair,” she whispered as Dipper pulled her away.

Maegella wiped the corners of her eyes before standing up to face the oldest Pines twins. She turned to Stan first and hugged him. “I am glad to know you and your family, Stanley,” she said. “And I want to thank you for not giving up on your brother.”

“It’s what family is all about,” Stan muttered, sounding like he got a head cold. He pulled away and stepped back to give his brother a moment with her.

She and Ford looked at each other for what seemed to be a long time before Maegella moved to get something from the pocket of her robes.

“I have something for you, Stanford,” she said, taking his hand and placing something on his palm. Ford looked down at the small, smooth stone. On its polished, dark blue surface was an etching of a symbol that was painted in gold.

“That is the Sigil of the Blue Guild,” Maegella explained. “It is given to a Mage who achieves Mentor status. I have been informed that I can no longer resume my duties as a Mentor of the Blue Guild because my staff was destroyed. However, after the issue with Mek-Death, I seem to have acquired a new status here in Rothezar...”

“Her ability to use magic without aid of a staff is a rare skill once mastered by the Founders of Rothezar,” Gelvin interjected. “Already, the Maesters of the Blue Guild are searching their archives to find how best to assist Maegella.”

The Maester then retrieved what looked like a slim block of granite from inside his robes. On its shiny surface were dull gray runes that Ford could not identify.

“Is that the artefact?” asked Ford.

Gelvin nodded. “The last time I used this, I nearly passed out in front of Stanley,” he said. “This time, someone more qualified than I will open the gateway.”

He then handed it to Maegella and stepped away. Maegella held up the device with the runes pointing away from her and shouted, “Irma Haennon!

The runes started to glow. A beam of light shot out from the device and traced the form of a door at a point in front of them. Tendrils of electricity shot out from the edges of the rectangle as white light filled in the shape.

“You must go now!” Gelvin yelled. “The gateway will return you to Piedmont! Give my apologies to Sarah and Ben!”

“I’ll go first!” Wendy shouted. She turned and waved at the Mages behind her before jumping into the gateway.

Soos went next. “COWABUNGA DUUUUUUDES!”

“Mabel, let’s go!” Dipper yelled, grabbing his twin’s hand. The kids ran together to the Portal and vanished.

“C’mon, Ford! It’s our turn!” Stan shouted.

“I’m coming!” Ford yelled back. But before he could move one step, a firm hand grasped his arm. Ford turned around to see who tried to stop him. Before he could say anything, Maegella pulled him close to her and kissed him softly on the lips.

Stan dropped his jaw.

When Maegella pulled away, Ford looked a little dazed. He wasn’t aware of being led towards the gateway, still processing the kiss.

“Goodbye Stanford,” Maegella said quietly before gently pushing him towards the door…

XXXXX

Ford was yelling as he flew through the wormhole. Judging from the hollering behind him, Stan was not far behind.

Suddenly, he hit hardwood floor and faceplanted on a rug, sliding a few feet across it. He let out a yowl when Stan tumbled after him and landed on his legs.

Stan groaned. “Thanks for breaking my fall, buddy!”

“Should I thank you for breaking my legs?” Ford grumbled through the rug.

“Uncle Stan? Uncle Ford?!”

Blearily, Ford carefully raised his head and spotted Ben and Sarah a few feet ahead. They were sitting on the floor hugging Dipper and Mabel tightly. Soos and Ben scrambled to get up and assist Stan and Ford to their feet.

“Ben, Sarah!” Ford croaked, spitting out some threads. “I am so sorry! We—”

But Ford was cut off as Ben pulled him into a tight hug.

“Thank you!” he said in a shaking voice.  He turned and pulled Stan into the hug as well. “Thank you for bringing back our children!”

XXXXX

Epilogue

Contrary to Stan’s worry, Ben and Sarah Pines did not hold the events of February 19th against them, though Sarah had some choice words about Gelvin’s involvement when she was alone with her husband. They spent the rest of the night getting details of what had happened in Rothezar and admiring the gifts the children brought back with them. Ben suggested giving the flask of healing water to his father on Shermie’s birthday.

Ben and Sarah were surprised at the appearance of Dipper’s “birthmark”, or rather its disappearance: it had now faded to the point that you need to be up in Dipper’s face in order to see a trace of it. Ford suggested a cover story about meeting a reclusive dermatologist over winter break. Mabel was the one who recommended the name “Dr. Sophie Arra-Veron”.

Soos called up Melody and assured her that everyone was fine. He also shared with her about a concept for a new display at the Mystery Shack: the abominable fire-spitting turkey. Stan, who overheard the conversation, felt nothing but pride for Soos as he heard the man-child explain how to rig a small flamethrower inside a taxidermied turkey.

At the end of winter break, Stan and Ford bring Soos and Wendy with them back to Brookings, Oregon, where Manly Dan waited for them. After seeing them drive away, the Pines brothers replenished their supplies and resumed their seafaring adventures. Sometimes, Stan would catch his brother staring at a small object in his hand.

He wonders if Ford would be okay…



Months later…

In the early hours of the new day, she ran across the banks of the river, clasping her head between her hands.

She could not sleep, she could not concentrate. She has to get away.

She found the place she was looking for; she raised her hands and said, “Irma Haennon!

As the gateway opened in front of her, she smiled for the first time in days.

“Get away from me!” Maegella whispered as she jumped into the gateway.

XXXXX

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