A/N: It's official. We've reached the end. I'm torn between utter relief that I made it through this journey, and a deep sadness that the adventure is over! I had so much fun writing this and seeing your responses. It certainly has been fun. Thank you for being so supportive. I hope you'll enjoy this chapter. It's a bit different than the others and I'm fretting over it just a bit. Anyway, enjoy.

Chapter Summary: Loose ends are tied up


" Speak!" Gandalf's voice was low, dangerous as he leaned forward, peering into the darkened cell.

He earned echoing, sinister laughter as a response.

Thranduil stared, unamusedly at Dain Ironfoot, confusion and suspicion warring within him.

What did this dwarf know?

"You cannot hide behind your simpering smirks," He remarked towards the cell, where Dain still sat, hair disheveled and wide grin upon his face, "You know something."

"I know nothing," Dain remarked flippantly, "I only know that the Halfling will bring about the downfall of this people. An ill guest, a deceptive witch."

"Your cousin was under the effects of the dragon sickness," Gandalf continued, "You would hold the hobbit responsible for her actions to protect him? You hold onto a petty injustice that saved his life!"

Dain narrowed his eyes and came closer to the bars, "Why should I listen to you, Gandalf, storm crow? You are nothing but a bad omen. Your coming is as the footsteps of doom. You , and that creature, will destroy my cousin and my people."

Gandalf leaned forward, so that his nose was nearly touching the metal bars of the cell, his eyes narrowed and his frown deepened.

"You are not yourself," He remarked, drawing away quickly, "A darkness has clouded your mind."

Dain only laughed again. But Thranduil saw something in the dwarf's gaze, before it disappeared beneath the nonchalant and callous mask.


Thranduil knew that the wizard's words were true. The first time he'd questioned the dwarf, Dain Ironfoot's eyes betrayed that something darker held sway over him.

He wondered how much control the dwarf had over his actions.

And he couldn't help but compare Master Ironfoot's actions to what Thorin's had been.




"I must see the head of order," Gandalf muttered darkly as they moved slowly up the stairwell, back towards the treasure room, the angered growls of Dain echoing behind them. "He is both wise and powerful. He'll know what power is controlling this dwarf." Gandalf gave Thranduil a small, resigned smile, "He'll know what to do."

"And think ye that he will also have answers concerning the hobbit?" Thranduil's curiosity was piqued. He wondered how vast the knowledge of the wizards truly was. Gandalf only shook his head, "That I do not know. But, I have every plans to inform him of what has transpired and search for any clues during my time in Minis Tirith. There is much to answer and I fear not a lot of time in which to answer it."

The elven king watched the wizard hastily ascend the landing, muttering to himself all the while.

"Riddles in the dark," Gandalf's voice was soft, "Precious. hmm..."

***** "I'm fine," Lyla insisted as Dwalin pulled the blanket up higher before pressing a small cup to her lips.

She suspected a draught was mixed in with the athelas and water.

"Aye, ye've said that enough times on this journey for me te know yer lyin'."

Dwalin frowned at her, his eyes narrowing as he pressed the cup more forcefully towards her.

Begrudgingly, Lyla took a few sips, her guilt winning over her stubbornness. She did still feel the aftermath of from battle, even if it had been a week prior.

The water was cool and soothing, the athelas reminding her of her favorite peppermint tea back at home.

"Stubborn lass," Dwalin grumbled shooting her a contemptuous (if half-hearted) glare. As he set the still half full glass on the table at her bedside.

Apparently she had nearly died.

And that was something the warrior dwarf was not too keen on having happen again. Between him and Thorin, Lyla was not sure who was being the bigger mother hen.

'Taking notes from Dori obviously' she thought wryly.

Numerous glasses of athelas and water had been tipped to her lips since she'd awoken to a company of curious (and relieved faces).

An extra tunic and mittens were placed upon her,to keep any chill away.

They even threatened her with sock as well, though Lyla adamantly refused those.

Hobbits wearing socks? The notion was odd.

Insead, they fussed over her bandages and offered her extra blankets or just sat and chattered away, keeping her constant company.

It was enough drive her batty.

Though it didn't.

If she were honest with herself, Lyla would concede that she felt an immense sense of relief and comfort being surrounded by so many who cared.

Of course, the rest of the company wasn't much better, though. Bofur and Bifur had taken up residence in her room along with the two princes, both of whom were keen on staying near Lyla's side at all times—even though Kili still sported some rather impressive wounds on his shoulder and stomach that needed tending to. Their weapons and bedrolls filled the floor so that it resembled the campsites she'd grown so accustomed to on their travels.

It was a small comfort after all the disquiet moments in the past few weeks.

Ori sat, for the first few days, in the nearest chair, sketching, insisting that now was as good a time as any to finally finish her portrait (one he'd started ages ago, 'After the first battle with Azog').

Lyla inwardly cringed at the thought of Ori's keen eye capturing every bruise and scrape.

Dori and Bombur had raided the kitchen (untouched by the dragon's scourge). They pulled forth pots, pans and other cooking utensils and with the help of some of the elves' provisions (begrudgingly accepted, mind you), they brought her a nice warm cup of tea and some biscuits to tide over her appetite.

Thorin hardly ever left her side, even when she insisted that he go and get rest, especially considering he was injured, even more than Kili. A large gash in his cheek, stomach, hands and she suspected his shoulder, made him wince whenever he moved about.

"You need to rest."

She only earned a scowl from the king and dull glare as he grumbled his refusal.

It took Gandalf nearly knocking him senseless before the king finally agreed.

Of course he only stayed away for a few hours, returning to his post with a look that brooked no argument from the hobbit.

Though she still argued nonetheless.

"Now ye rest lass," Dwalin's gruff voice rumbled near her ear, pulling her back to the present, as he pressed his forehead against hers in a gentle show of affection, "I've some things to attend to, but Thorin and the boys will be here in a bit for ye. And I'll be back in no time."

He fixed her with another, brotherly glare as his lip quirked into a small smile as he ruffled her hair lightly.

"Stubborn lass," he muttered again softly.

Lyla gave a soft smile as drowsiness began to tug at her.

So, she'd been right about the draught.

However, as she watched Dwalin retreat through the door—to help attend to the various affairs of the mountain as it slowly began to bustle with life—she was left with her thoughts and the blurred images of recent events, warring and keeping her mind alert enough to remain awake.

The details were still muzzy for her, and she found it hard to concentrate on any specific recent event without giving herself a headache. And then they had questioned her, wanting to understand what had happened.

Two elves she had never seen, tended to her arm with careful attention as Gandalf harangued her with questions.

"How did you come by this information?" he interrogated kindly, sitting on the edge of her bed, curious about her knowledge of Bolg's affiliation with the necromancer.

"How did you know that he was being controlled, that they all were?"

They wanted to know how she came in contact with the black breath, wanted to know what creature could have instilled such a poison upon her.

The elves in particular, wanted to know how she had escaped such a dark power and any other knowledge she had on the necromancer's plans, for sure she had heard something. But Lyla wasn't very good at giving any answers. Her memories were disjointed and confused.

All she seemed to recall was a dark, cloaked figure.

She could feel the starts of another headache beginning to prickle behind her eyes and shook her head lightly to dispel the thoughts.

She was certain they would come to her eventually. And Gandalf would get his answers then.

Though, she was certain, the wizard would be back to question her more far sooner than that!

She grasped the chain around her neck, her fingers running over Dis' ring, the flower and the new little charm that resided there.

She ignored the other chain about her neck, the one that contained the ring she wanted to forget for the moment and the way it made her stomach coil in dread.

She focused, instead, on the bead, the small silver bead ordained with tiny, delicate, beautifully rendered, flowers and vines. She gazed down at the object—made of mithril Kili had pointed out—and wondered why she had it.

Thorin had given it to her.

And while SHE had kissed the dwarf upon seeing him when she'd awoken, something still stung at her heart.

An uncomfortable feeling.

Thorin had rejected her so thoroughly, so callously.

So painfully.

Lyla absently rubbed at the back of her neck, dropping her hold on the necklace and bead.

Granted, she knew he had not been in his right mind, but his actions still seemed to haunt her senses and she felt a shyness creep over her in his presence.

She didn't know how he perceived her. Whether he still cared to the same degree. Yes he had been attentive and almost doting in nature, but she wondered if guilt was the only driving force behind that.

He'd certainly begun to act more himself. Gone were the fevered eyes and the angry scowl. He had returned to his former slightly aloof temperament.

But she could help but wonder…

Lyla yawned once and shook her head again.

"Bother," she murmured softly, kicking the blanket from her legs slowly.

Her muscles were aching and sore.

But they also longed to be used.

Lyla hated being bed ridden. It gave her far too much time to think, far too much time to consider things.

She needed to move about, explore.

Her Tookish nature demanded it.

And if it would help her put these unpleasant thoughts to rest (even for a little while), well then, what was the harm?

Stifling another yawn, Lyla slowly pulled herself up into a sitting position, wincing as her bandaged arm was jostled about and her tired muscles were forced to work. With careful movements, she slowly shifted and shimmied towards the edge of the bed, slowly throwing her legs over the side, watching as they dangled over the edge.

With her left arm in a sling, she could not use both hands to slowly slide from the bed.

So, scooting herself forward, Lyla brought her right hand down and carefully pushed her weight into propelling her body forward and towards a standing position.

The world wobbled-the pitcher and cup of water on the table blurring together—and her legs shook as she tried to steady her stance after being abed for so long.

"Should you really be doing that?"

The soft voice sent Lyla reeling back in surprise, her legs giving out as she stumbled backwards.

Her bandaged arm caught on the edge of the bed as she slipped to the floor, sending shooting pain through her shoulder.

Stars danced before her eyes and she let out a surprised wheeze.

"Mistress Baggins!" A face swam before her and she had to blink a few times before Bard's surprised and worried face appeared before her.

"Are you alright?" He hummed grasping her shoulders and helping her to her feet, tightening his grip on her as her legs, wobbled again. "Are you hurt?"

"Fine," Lyla mumbled, heat rising to her cheeks, as the tall bowman helped her back into bed (with her minimal protests), "I'm fine. Wounded pride is all."

She winced as she moved her tender arm.

There was a soft snort and Lyla turned, surprised to the doorway, noting Thranduil standing there, his arms crossed as he watched her intently.

"It would appear that hobbits are as stubborn as their dwarven counterparts," He remarked quietly coming closer to the hobbit, eyes narrowed, "You are only now starting to recover from your near brush with death and insist on moving about already."

He leaned over the bed and carefully grasped Lyla's bandaged arm, undoing the bindings and slowly unwrapping the fabric exposing her flesh.

Lyla repressed the urge to cringe as she saw her bare arm for the first time. Faint purple markings marred her tender skin, travelling up her arm and wrapping around her shoulder. Her eyes widened as she noted just how strange her skin looked.

"It is healing nicely," Thranduil remarked softly.

Lyla's attention turned towards the elf who attended to her arm thoughtfully, crushing athelas leaves and flowers between his palms and placing them directly upon her skin.

The elf king shot her a contemplative look.

"I have only seen the effects of the black breath, as severe as this, only one other time, master hobbit," He murmured softly, turning his attention back towards Lyla's arm, beginning to carefully wrap the bandages around her once more, "and their fate was not as favorable as your own."

The elf king stilled for a few moments, his eye going unfocused as his lips pulled into a thin line, his brows furrowed.

And then he shook his head and his normal, stoic gaze returned, though Lyla could see a dimness overtaking the brilliance of his gaze.


"You have travelled far and done much, young one," Thranduil stated softly, catching the hobbit's gaze, "yet I wonder if your travels end here in this mountain. I sense…"

He trailed off, his tone dropping low as his eyes narrowed.

"There is much still to answer, Shireling, and I wonder what role you will play in all of this."

"I don't…understand," Lyla remarked slowly, softly, as she sent a confused look towards the Elven King.

Thranduil only sighed, his lips pulling into a frown.

"It is not something I can illuminate to you, Master Baggins," he responded, "There is something at work, something bigger than Erebor and Mirkwood and the battle. Something moves. Yet I cannot see it." He faltered and then sighed, "So many questions."

Lyla marveled at how familiar those words sounded to her ears.

She'd heard them somewhere before…

And she watched, almost transfixed as his slender fingers reached towards her throat.

But in a flash, the elf king drew his hand away and rose his eyes hooded.

He shot Lyla another curious glance.

"I must go. Speak with Gandalf. And you," Thranduil's eyes narrowed at the hobbit, "Must rest. Much has been done to protect you, do not hinder your healing because of stubborn curiosity."

Lyla narrowed her eyes in return and frown at the tall, proud elf before her, "I am not stubborn," She retorted. And then she smiled softly. "Not much anyway."

Thranduil merely quirked an eyebrow upwards before turning on his heel and retreating through the doorway.

Bard, however remained near Lyla's bed, watching the hobbit carefully, his face split into a soft grin.

"Not stubborn, indeed," He remarked, sarcasm lacing his words, as he edged closer and, finally, sat on the bed carefully.

"Though, perhaps, that is what leaves us here today, Lyla Baggins. You have done much good here and I am grateful."

"I unleashed a dragon," Lyla snorted derisively, her chest still paining her every time the thought rose to her mind, "I set that beast upon Laketown. Cost many people their…" She swallowed back the bile that threatened to rise, ushering the thoughts away. "Now where will you go?"

Bard chuckled softly, "Yes Esgaroth is gone. For now. And lives have been lost. But, our children are safe and far more were spared had you done nothing. The Master was overthrown, his plot realized and, Mistress Baggins, we have been offered refuge within the fortress of Mirkwood as well as here within the mountain. Your Master Oakenshield has made a rather gallant offer."

Had he?

"Oh." Was all she could think to reply.

Things had been so jumbled that she hardly knew how to react to anything anymore.

Bard must have sensed her confusion for he chuckled again. "It would seem that this sickness that held him captive has finally loosened his hold."

And then the bowman reached into his pocket and withdrew a small bundle, leaning over to Lyla.

"And it would certainly seem that I am no longer in need of this. So I return it to you, to give to the king."

Carefully, he grabbed Lyla's good hand and placed the small wrapped bundle in her palm.

Lyla didn't need to unwrap the bundle to know what it was. Her throat felt thick and she stared, shocked back at Bard, whose eyes were soft, almost regretful.

"I know what this cost you," He remarked slowly, "I see the doubt in your eyes. But maybe this," he nodded his head lightly towards the bundle, "can be a start to make things whole again."

Bard stood up slowly, and gave her good shoulder a light squeeze, "You have done much good," he remarked again, "You have saved many lives. The dragon is gone and life will go on."

Without another word, the bowman left Lyla to her swirling thoughts.

Clutching the arkenstone to her chest, Lyla bit back a groan and closed her eyes.

***** She was outside, soft rain was pelting her face (though she couldn't feel the droplets touch her skin). A blurred, dark shape hovered in front of her. She couldn't quite make out who the figure was.

But she could not mistake the hiss commands and the soft sinister laughter that followed.

And she certainly could suppress the shudder that coursed down her spine as the blurry figure moved closer.

Lyla's eyes fluttered and she blinked a few times at the ceiling of stone above her head, willing the ache in her head to ease.

She wanted to forget the blurred images and the way they made her skin crawl.

At the same time she wanted to remember, wanted to understand.

A particularly painful jab pierced her skull and she scrunched her eyes closed for a moment.

"You cannot force the memories to return, Lyla Baggins," Gandalf soft, smiling voice slowly filtered her thoughts.

She opened her eyes warily and turned to find the tall, grey wizard sitting near her bedside, staff in his lap and hat on the table as he watched her with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

"You cannot will the thoughts return whenever you wish," He continued, his eyes were twinkling and thoughtful, "No matter how we might wish it." He leaned closer, "Do not force yourself to remember just yet. Be patient and it will come to you. Of that I am certain."

And then the wizard leaned back once more and straightened.

"It would appear that you are finally on the mend," He remarked thoughtfully, assessing her movements as she slowly tried to sit up, "Your arm will take some time to heal completely. But other than a cold and some bruising and a few cuts, you will survive relatively unscathed."

"Well that's certainly a comfort," Lyla mumbled wincing as she put weight on her bad arm, "I'm not too fond of lasting damage or laying about all day."

Lyla wrinkled her nose again at the thought of being stuck in this bed.

Gandalf chuckled, "I do not doubt that you will manage to find your way out of this room sooner than most might like."

"Far sooner than we might like."

Lyla stiffened and turned her gaze towards the doorway where Thorin stood, arms folded together, his eyes trained on the hobbit.

"It would seem that you've already tried to escape your bed from what I hear." He stepped forward, his ebony hair glinting in the torchlight and a new, blue tunic making his eyes shine brilliantly.

Lyla swallowed as a warm heat rose on her neck.

"Yes, well," She muttered lowly, "I can't be expected to stay here forever now can I?"

Thorin chuckled and stepped to the other side of the bed, eyes still trained on Lyla.

"I would never have expected as much," He conceded softly, sitting slowly (with only a small wince) into the empty chair, "Though Dwalin may have a thing or two to say on the matter."

Gandalf's soft chuckle had Lyla frowning.

She sent a glare at the wizard, whose smile was still in place, though his eyes conveyed a deeper train of thought.

He continued to watch Lyla thoughtfully even as he addressed Thorin, "I am to understand the reconstruction will begin soon," the wizard remarked, "Before the worst of the winter storms arrives."

"Yes," Thorin remarked quietly, "The men of Dale and Laketown need time to move their women and children and supplies here. Thranduil has agreed to provide as much provisions as possible and I'm told that the people of Laketown are not so forlorn. A storehouse has been discovered, undisturbed by fire. There will be grain enough to make it through."

"Good," Gandalf remarked, "It will certainly make my parting easier then."

Lyla's brow furrowed.

He was leaving?

"Where are you going?" She questioned, "If winter is coming, why are you leaving now?"

Gandalf sigh and his smile dimmed, "There are things that I must see to," he remarked vaguely, grip tightening on his staff.

"What thing? You aren't making much sense Gandalf."

Slowly, the wizard rose to his feet and peered down at the hobbit, his expression thoughtful, "There are questions. Questions that need answers. Your ring, the necromancer, Dain Ironfoot. Too many coincidences and not enough explanation. I must seek counsel."

Lyla's hand went to her throat instinctively and she couldn't suppress the growing fear that blossomed in her heart.

By Aule, what was going on?

Gandalf bent closer to Lyla's face and placed a warm hand on her shoulder.

Lyla stared back with wide eyes, noting how old Gandalf appeared to be in that moment.

Something weighed on him, heavily.

"Keep it secret," he murmured, his eyes drifting to the ring still clasped in Lyla's hand.

And then he straightened and turned towards Thorin.

"Keep her safe," He admonished the dwarf king, making Lyla's cheeks ignite.

"I will return when I know more."

Lyla's thoughts were jumbled as she watched yet another person exit her room, their vague words swirling in her head.


And now Gandalf.


She wondered what had transpired since she'd been asleep. What could have incited so much suspicion and questions.


And why would he be so hasty to leave? What concerned Gandalf so much that he'd risk leaving right before winter set in? And across the mountain?


What did Thranduil know? And why wasn't anyone telling her—

Lyla's thoughts abruptly ceased as a warm, calloused hand grasped her chin and turned her gaze away from the door.

"Dear Givashel," Thorin murmured softly as he ran his thumb over her cheek, "You must cease your thoughts. They will drive you towards madness."


Thorin's grip loosened on her chin as he placed a finger to the hobbit's lips.

"No. Do not dwell on this now. Gandalf will return and then you can have your answers and put your worries to rest. For now you must focus on the present."

"But I don't understand why—"

"Hush," Thorin remarked pressing his finger more forcefully to Lyla's lips, "Be still. All of your answers will come in time. There is much confusion and much to investigate yet. My cousin, your trinket," Thorin's eyes drifted to Lyla's neck briefly before flicking back towards her face, "And whatever was controlling the orc army. These are questions that I cannot answer and Gandalf has promised you answers when he returns. Until then, you must set these things aside."

Thorin's smile dimmed as he pulled his hand away.

"If it helps," he remarked quietly, "You are safe here, so long as you wish to remain."

Lyla's heart stuttered as Thorin's brows knit together and a look of worry crossed his features.

"Where else would I go?" She heard herself say as a small smile slipped on her face, "Dwalin and Bofur and the others would just drag me back. I do still owe them scones."

Thorin's smile widened a little, the edges around his eyes crinkling in amusement.

"Indeed they would. They are nothing if not determined. And I…" He trailed off swallowing, as his eyes softened, "I have come to find that I much prefer the company of our resident burglar."

The word burglar had Lyla's memory sparking.

"Oh!" She remarked gazing reaching beneath her pillow, "I have something for you. I need…that is…"

Unbidden flashes of Thorin's enraged face filled her mind's eye.

Hanging over the edge of the wall.

"I need to return something to you," She remarked, her voice catching as she averted her gaze.

"Lyla—" Thorin's voice was soft, but panicked and abruptly cut short as the hobbit pulled forth the small bundled object.

Carefully, she unwrapped the bindings and cast a sidelong glance towards Thorin as the arkenstone glittered brightly in Lyla's palm.

Thorin's eyes had gone wide, surprised, and reverent as he gazed back at the swirling, glittering mass of color and light.

"Bard gave it back," She remarked, guessing his thoughts, "He said he no longer had a reason to keep it."

She turned more fully to face Thorin, "He said you'd offered them shelter and reparation."

Thorin's gaze was riveted to the stone and he stared unblinking, his mouth slightly agape.

"I told him…"

"Thorin," Lyla sighed, "I-I'm sorry for what happened, for how I went about it. How-"

"I told him to keep it."

Words abandoned her as Thorin's gaze shifted, quite suddenly, back to Lyla's face. His expression was unreadable as he reached forward and grabbed Lyla's hand, wrapping his own around her's and the arkenstone.

"I told both he and Thranduil to keep it," He murmured again, "I told them I did not want it. Why…?"

He trailed off his gaze narrowing as he stared at Lyla.

"I don't know," she replied softly, "But it is yours nonetheless."

Turning their hands, so that Thorin's was on the bottom, and released her hold on the arkenstone and drew her hand away slowly.

Thorin's gaze returned to the glittering gem in his hand and carefully, he drew his palm closer to his person, his fingers closing around the arkenstone, in a tight grip. And then, he set the stone aside, resting it carefully on the bedside table.

Thorin's gaze drifted back to Lyla's startled one and his brows knit together.

A small, hesitant smile ghosted his face.

"I have something for you," he murmured drawing something small from his pocket.

Lyla watched, surprised and intrigued as Thorin brought his hand forward again and opened his palm.

Lyla's eyes widened and her mouth fell open in surprise at the small golden flower sitting in Thorin's palm.

"Where did you…? Where did you find that? I'd have thought that this late in the season they'd have all gone."

Thorin smiled softly,"You have to look hard."

A light fluttering sensation filled Lyla's stomach.

Slowly, the dwarf reached up and placed the small flower in Lyla's hand and closed her fingers around the plant gently.

"I know that there exists between us a chasm of bitterness. I know that I've hurt you, that I've betrayed your trust." Slowly Thorin came to sit on the edge of the bed, "I know that you were only trying to protect this company. I know that I…hurt you."

Thorin winced at that admission, and refused to meet Lyla's eyes.

"And I certainly do not deserve your forgiveness, dear Givashel. But I also know that you prefer flowers and sunshine to mountains of stone and gold." He hazarded a glance at Lyla, "And I know that you value good food and cheer above riches and war. And I know, Lyla Baggins, that you have nothing to apologize for. I must make amends and I promise you that I will spend every day doing so. I am sorry my dear one. I am sorry I brought pain upon you. I am sorry for everything."

Cupping his hand on her chin, Thorin brought his forehead to hers and nuzzled his nose against her cheek.

"Givashel," He murmured softly, his warm breath ghosting over her lips and cheek, "Givashel is an endearment that we give to one whose value rises above all others."

He leaned forward and briefly captured her lips with his own.

Lyla's heart hammered in her chest, her lips and cheek were tingling, her head spinning as Thorin's soft gaze bore into her.

"And I cannot part with you, my Givashel. I am a selfish dwarf, and I cannot bear the thought of you anywhere but near my side."

Thorin brought his lips back towards Lyla's and closed the space between them.

And for the moment, Lyla would let the thoughts of shadows, nightmares, and sinister whispers abandon her mind.

She'd focus on this moment, instead and revel in the feel of Thorin's soft hair between her fingers, and his warm lips caressing her own.

Thorin marveled in the steady rise and fall of the hobbit's form as Lyla breathed deeply in her sleep.

He'd forced her to drink another draught.

He certainly wasn't about to take any chances, now that she was on the mend.

He smiled fondly at his hobbit, curled on her side, hands fisted into her pillow (in much the same way that she had back in Laketown) and he reveled in the small moment of calm silence.

His thoughts, however, were not calm.

Instead they continued to drift towards the arkenstone as ideas and concerns filled his mind.

He'd lied to her. He knew why they had given back the arkenstone.

And the thought terrified him.

He didn't know if he could protect it.

Or Lyla for that matter.

'Keep it secret. Keep her safe.

A/N: And there you have it. I hope it was a pleasant journey and that you've enjoyed this really long story...yikes I can't believe how long it is...However, would it interest you to know that I have a sequel? And I'll start posting chapters soon? So, more chapters, more adventures...because we can't just end it here can we? There's too much still left to answer. Yes?