Well: it looks as though I'm the last to arrive at this party, but I'm here now to catch up. It turned out that the ending wasn't that dramatic scene I had predicted where Ryas and Niall met again as enemies on the Field of Battle (or--given that Ryas is an engineer and unlikely to be on the front lines--the Control Room of Battle). I do think, having read it, that Niall needed to confront Ryas--both for him, and for himself. He does not reveal everything, but he is upfront about the overall truth. What Ryas does with that truth is for after THE END, and it will be up to him; after all, epiphany has to come from within. And unfortunately--and I think this will be the case for Ryas, given how dedicated he has been to the Empire--it oftentimes hurts like a *****. I can't say if Ryas will have that epiphany where he realizes that the side he has been on, the one that has given his life the security and purpose he must have lost when he was growing up during the Clone Wars, is the wrong one. But I do think it's possible. Ryas has made some mistakes, but he is man enough to regret them. And I think it does say something that he returned to their favorite spot, and that he was able to find the bottle and its message. And no, I don't think this is a sad ending. In my previous comments, I have focused on the pain in the Celtic ballads, but this ending, and Niall's letter, reminded me of another aspect: True Love always, always remains true. Ryas might not yet be able to see it, but Niall showed how much he loved Ryas by writing to him honestly about ugly truths. And while the objective odds might be against their meeting again--this is based off a ballad, and I would say that the chances that they will once again meet are reasonably good. The journey of this story--and it has been a journey this year as I followed along with Niall's story as you posted it--has reached its close, but the characters' stories are still open: Niall is only just entering the new world of the Rebellion, while Ryas is now faced with the possibility of his own changes. If you ever are moved to write those stories, I can assure you that I will be back to read. Finally: thank you, again, for writing this story for the challenge!