The people cheered as they finally exited the tunnels of the Goblin-folk. They did not know exactly how far they were from their initial capture, but they saw no beasts around. Arnol was the hero of the hour, and he received many thanks and friendly gestures. He smiled modestly. “Thank you all for your praise, but Angel and the others who came with him are whom you should be thanking. They left their city and traveled all the way here with no desire other than to help us. We are deeply indebted to them.”

“If you can believe it,” said Lord Andor, “we are also indebted to Elma. We would have all been killed if not for her use of her knowledge of healing. She has done her part to save our people, just as many others have.”

“Allow me to speak with Arnol,” Elma requested. “I will not make excuses for what I have done, for I know it was wrong. I do not expect you to forgive me. But I want you to know, at the time I believed it was for the good of our people. I honestly believed that you were the thief, and that we would all be better off without you, even though no one else could see it. Now I see that Ando was the one who had been deceiving us, and I was also blinded by my own self-pity and jealousy. I cannot change my actions, but I am sorry for them.”

“Evil actions must bring punishment, but the wise will also offer compassion and forgiveness,” Angel said. “What you will do now is up to you. Where will you go?”

“Away from where those savage creatures live, to start with,” Lord Andor replied. “Beyond that I do not know. I suppose we will continue wandering, though I fear that the beasts may attack us again. Will you be returning to your city?”

“Have you considered settling down and building a new home?” Angel inquired, leaving his question unanswered. “That would allow you more safety and security, from both beasts and Goblin-folk.”

Arnol exchanged glances with Anson and Eveli. “We have been thinking about that possibility.”

“Are we allowed to cease our wandering?” Lord Andor asked hopefully.

“No one has commanded that you wander forever,” Angel said. “I will not tell you what course to take. You must make your own decisions. But we have assumed that you would find a good place to call home eventually. If you choose to do this, we will come with you and help you get started.” He looked around at all the mortals. “You are free to do what you will. Do you choose to find a new home, and bring an end to your journey?”


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