In the legends and tales told 'round the winter fires, Our Heroes would now live Happily Ever After, free of care or worry or woe.
This is no legend, alas, and I, at least, am no legendary champion. The world turns; the seasons change; life goes on much as before, and only a few dozen in all the Revealed World realize that all these things might have come violently to a halt.
So it is that the world now insists in all innocence that I have neglected it, and demands my attention. Nearly two years of voyages across the seas and over the land and across pathways I cannot begin to describe have drawn me away from the duties of rank and title, and, while my people have handled my affairs admirably, I have far too much before me to allow myself the rest one would assume the saviour of the world might deserve.
Happy I most assuredly am, with Ling Xiefeng by my side, but hardly care-free. And to think that Dierdre was concerned that I would grow bored!
His Majesty Don Fabrizio took "Lady Saruto's" new persona in stride, it seems, holding any surprise he might have felt in reserve until I had completed the story of our soujourn to the Asternal of Zashikor and Ilandru, and the ruins of the True Asternal beneath the waves. On hearing of the Glamour that maintained that Hidden World, and its resolution, and the implications of that resolution, he seemed... nonplussed.
"Sometimes I wonder, Nikulai," he confessed, "if I have truly escaped the curse of madness set upon me; if all this -- my life; my throne; the Lady Vanessa -- are no more than the dreams and delusions of that tragic, mad wanderer." He smiled wryly, and added, "Tales such as this, from such an impeccable source as yourself, accompanied by such compelling evidence of their truth, do little to reassure me."
Happily, one of the duties set before me is no onerous task. No doubt rumors and tales of my intended fiance have reached my parents' ears repeatedly in the months since "Lady Saruto" returned with me from Asternal. I would be most surprised if, during her weeks in Conscient, Father Zhiro had not mentioned her in his frequent correspondences. Hence, on the morrow, my lady and I shall travel to the Walls of Calabria and my family's estates in the caverns of Geoffre Martel, that I may at last properly present her to the Count and Countess Zvonimir.