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The small ship seemed to make its way across the waves almost as if it had no need for human guidance and perhaps, Julian thought, it did not.

Neither he nor Istvan had asked Andred how she had made her journey. They knew the reason for it, because either one of them would have done the same - or died trying, if death was still possible for those who had already experienced its embrace.

Julian's memories of the place he had been in before were vague, almost non-existent at this point. He could not remember if he had been happy, sad or indifferent; if he had been alone or with others; if it had been light or dark or some in-between state, always holding the promise of light (or dark) to come yet never making good on that promise.

He had tried to live well, to be generous to both his friends and his enemies. To be a good king.

As Istvan had striven to be a good champion. As Andred had striven to be a good queen.

"Where do you think we are going?"

They, at least, had both of them succeeded. "I don't know," Julian replied. If any of them knew, it would have to be Andred, but Istvan had been speaking with her just now. "Perhaps we are going home."

Aravis had been a mixture of familiarity and strangeness, like a childhood friend you had not seen for over fifty years. Had there been need, Julian thought he might have adapted eventually, especially with Istvan and Andred by his side, but no. The time during which Aravis's need had been as his own was past; the responsibility belonged to others now, as did the power.

"My dear," said Andred, joining them, "don't you see?" Her gesture encompassed all of the small ship. "We already are."

Istvan smiled and Julian bowed his head as he realized that she was right.