And so it ends. I've accomplished what I set out to do, fulfilled my promises and paid my debts. The Humans once held as slaves are free, no longer held strangled by a collar and an owner. A'Linoroc is finally dead and I can finally get some peace. For a short time anyway. Unfortunately, it seems my job will never be done. Though the Elven City has been thrown into disarray by the deaths of A'Linoroc and the Emperor, as well as Daraen's betrayal, and the betrayal of those who followed him, I've no doubt that sooner or later they will recover, and when they do, we will have a war on our hands. But not for a while yet I hope.
And the Humans? Well, to put it simply, it's been a month since the deciding battle in the Elven City, and we're still partying. I expect it will become a national holiday. We've been forced to expand the size of the Base, which I suppose is now actually a city, and houses have been springing up like rabbits as we try and accommodate all the new Humans, and the Elves, that have arrived. Currently they're staying in temp houses and with other families until we can get a house for them. It's amazing how well Galen, Darett and Jace can work with a hangover.
Now Jace and Galen, there's a story all on its own. The two clicked immediately, much to Riane's annoyance, and have been busy terrorizing the whole city with their pranks (when they're not hung over). And the worse part is, they've corrupted Devon Hawkseye, who is determined to get even with me for blackmailing him. The Sisters (with whom Rena almost instantly became a part of) of course had no problem adopting Jace as they had Galen and so far are proving to be our only defense against these two three-year olds trapped in men's bodies (with the exception of Rena and Riane).
Riane, though complaining bitterly about us allowing Elves (who are slowly but surely finding their own little places among the people of the city. There's actually been talk of them forming a sect of their own.) to join us, is overall happy, though she'd probably deny it if I ever pointed it out. She's found a little niche for herself with Alana and Cariana (who's pregnant again for the third time. Darett's ecstatic. He's hoping for a boy this time). The newest bet they've got going is how long it will take Galen to propose once Riane turns 18.
Alana and Lorde are married now, and couldn't be happier. They're moving into one of the new houses this summer and giving their small room above Lorde's Herb Shop to Gregory, who has taken it upon himself to spoil his daughter-in-law rotten, which Lorde watches with great amusement, and Alana puts up with it tolerantly.
Kalie and Devon (who has left the Younglings, having turned 18, and has joined the Hawks as one of their most talented members. He keeps telling me he's going to challenge me to another archery contest one day, and I wouldn't put it past him) are still together, and I think it's quite likely they'll stay that way. They've decided to forget about fighting for awhile and just concentrate on being young and in love. I think they've got the right idea.
Daraen has taken up residence in my guest room, and is quite intent on becoming a permanent resident. He actually proposed to me yesterday. Proposed! We're keeping the entire thing a complete secret, so of course the entire city knows about it. The majority of them are fine with it, taking it as a good omen of things to come. There is of course a small fraction who take offence at it for some reason (Elf and Human alike), but you know what? I don't give a damn. I've spent the past century alone, it's about time something good happened to me!
But despite all this excitement and happiness, there is a sorrowful note. There now stands in the center of the Glade a monument to all who gave their lives fighting for the freedom of the Humans. Included at the very top are the names of Raph, my mother, Daraen's father and two names that I didn't recognize. Riane surprised me by explaining; they were her parents. Apparently, they had been killed standing up to A'Linoroc. I think I understand her a little bit better now than I did before.
Nothing ever really ends, when you think about it, but it seems to me that this story has drawn to a close. So I leave you with this simple thought, that pretty well sums up this whole adventure . . .
. . . you can't catch a shadow.