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The Journey Home. . .

A typical winter scene in the Grand Duchy of Stollen.

The long weekend at Aunt Agatha's turned into almost a week of pre-Christmas hunting, feasting, dancing (no one can dance the Minuet quite like Irwin-Amadeus II after a few doctored eggnogs), and making the acquaintance of the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin. It turned out that Hives' fabricated call back to the grand ducal Residenz in Krankenstadt was not needed after all. . . particularly once the Grand Duke discovered that his cousin from Sweden was of a rather smaller stature and more dainty demeanor as an adult than he expected based on his childhood memories.

Thoroughly charmed by Lady Leonora Christina's sparkling wit, informed political and cultural perspectives, and mastery of several languages, Irwin-Amadeus II spent as much time as possible in her company during his five-day stay with Aunt Agatha and even entertained his comely cousin with a sing-along of several popular tunes at the harpsichord. Today, the Grand Duke and Hives return to Krankenstadt, passing through the cold, snowy landscape of an early Stollenian winter, the latter continuing with his study of Kant during their day-long journey.

For his part, Irwin-Amadeus II passes the time by staring moon-eyed at the wintry countryside with a lopsided grin on his face, occasionally punctuating the silence with inane remarks about birches, swaying gracefully in a gentle spring breeze, and the melodious song of turtle doves, wafting through the air. Meanwhile, the organization and training of a new regiment of dragoons just outside the capital city of Krankenstadt continues apiece.


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