((Here it is, guys. The end of my greatest fanfic so far. I hope you enjoyed reading my story. ))

Chapter 26: The Darkness Vanquished

One week later…

Alex opened the door to her sister's hospital room, peering inside quietly. Danielle was lying in bed, staring up at something on TV. Alex knocked gently to catch Danielle's attention. "Alex…? Come on in." She pushed herself up a bit, struggling because she could only use one hand. She smiled warmly up at her sister.

After a week in the hospital, her condition had vastly improved. The few minor cuts everywhere were starting to heal up, but she would still have some major scarring in some places. Other than that, she was doing well. The cut on the right side of her cheek was stitched up, along with the one down her right arm. Thankfully, her hand was bandaged up, hiding the damage done to it. The doctors had repaired it as best as they could, but Danielle's usage of the hand would be much harder and slower. There was a look in her eyes all the time, like she had suffered indescribable torture while under Xel'lotath's control. It was the shell-shocked look she had seen on the faces of so many disaster victims.

"How're you feeling?" Alex asked, sitting in a chair beside the bed.

Danielle let out a heavy sigh, closing her eyes for a second. "Like crud," she muttered, opening her eyes once more. "I can't use my hand, my stomach hurts, it's hard to talk, and I keep having the worst headaches ever. Other than that, I'm fine."

Alex nodded a bit. "Well, the doctors are going to release you in a few days. Since I'm your only immediate relative, you'll be under my custody." She smiled gently. "In other words, I have to baby-sit you now."

Danielle rolled her eyes. "Joy. I'm 18, you know. I'm not a little kid."

"But you're my little sister. It won't be that bad."

"You're kidding me, right?" When Alex shook her head, Danielle let out a groan. "I can't believe this. And school starts next week." A small smirk spread across her face. "You're helping me with my homework, though."

Alex shook her head, grinning. "I don't really care. I just need to find out how I'll handle all my college classes. I suppose I could do them online…" She trailed off, noticing the distant look on her little sister's face. A few seconds passed in silence before Danielle asked the very question that had been on Alex's mind for the past few days since the incident.

"Do you think it's over? Are the Ancients really gone for good?" Danielle asked gently, her voice nearly as distant as her gaze.

Alex stared down at the bag she had brought with her. Inside was the Tome of Eternal Darkness. Leaving it at the estate was too great of a risk. Someone could easily find it, and after all that happened, someone getting a hold of that cursed book was the last thing she needed.

"Alex…?" She glanced over at Danielle, who was now focusing on her. The empty look in her eyes made Alex's heart break.

She shouldn't have had to deal with that. She's had everything she's ever known taken away from her…

"Who knows?" Alex answered finally. "But if you ask me, I think this nightmare's finally over."

Danielle nodded a bit as she heard this, returning her gaze to the TV even though she wasn't really paying attention to it. "Yeah, you're probably right."

Alex stared down at her bag once more, thinking of the ancient book inside. I sure hope so, Alex thought grimly.

-------------------------------------------------------

Danielle stood before the Roivas Estate once more, a book bag slung over her shoulder. The midday sun shone down on her as she stared at the doors, thinking back to the last week's events. Even now she still had nightmares about it. She would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating heavily, and feeling as if something cold was deep inside her. She supposed it was just a side-effect of having Xel'lotath in control of her body. But what feeling was something unexplainable.

Footsteps sounded on the pavement behind her, and someone gently laid a hand on her shoulder. She instantly knew who it was, though. Alex and she had developed a very close bond following that nightmarish night. "It's time to go," Alex said softly.

Danielle looked back at her older sister, then glanced once more at the house. It was as silent and empty as ever, showing no signs of what happened a week ago. But there was a hostile feeling about it, as if the house itself no longer wished for the living to step foot inside of it. All that remained were the ghosts of the past.

"Let's get out of here," Danielle said, her voice almost a whisper. As the two of them turned away from the house and began to walk off, Danielle looked one more time at the mansion. In the window that opened into the kitchen she saw a familiar blue specter. It was the spirit of Edward Roivas, her guardian. Faint traces of a smile spread across Danielle's face. Her grandfather would always be there with her, no matter what.

Thanks, Grandpa. Thank you for everything you've done for Alex and me.

Danielle took a deep breath and let it out, looking straight ahead once more. There would be no turning back anymore.