In a move that shall surely baffle my friends and allies, I have proposed to Saruto.
"Proposed" is, perhaps, too strong a term. I asked her if she would be willing to accompany us on our return to Monderévélé (from... Monde Inconnu, perhaps?) and consider the possibility of becoming my bride. She has agreed to the former, having trod upon dangerous toes as she worked to preserve her Prince's power... and she does not seem to find the latter disagreeable.
And that is the heart of the matter: while I have known the lady for only a few brief days, I knew within moments of our first encounter in the skies above this spired city that a lifetime with her would not be... disagreeable.
Is this the "love at first sight" found in children's tales? No, not at all. As the heir to the title of Niktopolion, my eventual marriage must benefit the whole of the House of Vauntmere and its interests in the convoluted political landscape of Calabria. I have written before of the dismal matrimonial opportunties presented to me heretofore, the dreary procession of nigh-indistingushable daughters of the Repense, no thoughts in their heads save for the stars and convoluted calculations that have brought their House such influence our neighbors to the southwest.
Saruto is charming, cunning, sharp-witted, and has both a love and a head for intrigue. I believe that the benefits of bringing such a lady into House Vauntmere far surpass the possibility of catching the ear of some petty Bisclavret noble by wedding his pet astrologer.
I think it certain that my grandfather, the Count, will not find such an alliance "diagreeable", either. How could he fail to succumb to her charms?
I laugh just thinking about their eventual meeting. Am I in love? I cannot say. Surely, this lacks the poignant distress of my infatuation with Mistress Monica; to the contrary, I find myself smiling whenever I think of Saruto's coy, beguiling banter. Oh, much of that is artifice, I know; I practice enough of it myself. But that alone is prize enough itself -- truly, we seem well-suited for each other. Is this love? Her company delights me, her complexity intrigues me. Stronger feelings require time to grow, time and nurturing. I like her. That may not be the stuff of bardic ballads, but I care not. Even if our affections never blossom into that elusive passion, I am certain that a life with her shall always prove entertaining.
I suppose my friends will find me fickle, to embrace another so soon after my lovestruck defense of Mistress Monica on Lystragones's alter revealed my infatuation. For my part, I am glad that my obsession went no further. No matter how intense my feelings for her might have been -- might still be -- she is not a Bat. With progeny between us impossible, marriage would be unthinkable. Such exotic and shocking alliances might occur now and again, should a priest be found to condone them, but never to the heir of a noble House.
I find that the intensity of that passion has ebbed, eased from my heart by my encounter with this enchanting schemer.
I don't know if that disturbs me or relieves me.